The need to question vs. the need to believe

Every time I receive an e-mail from someone religious, I have this mental picture of a great toggle switch located in the human brain. This switch can be set to one of two positions:

  • The need to question (because it is natural)
  • The need to believe (because it is comfortable)

I suppose that when we are born, the switch is set to The need to question by default. As we grow older, and are exposed to religious (or even other) ideology, the switch either toggles over to The need to believe, or stays put in the default position. Sometimes, some of us are able to overcome the mind virus that causes the switch over, and manage to re-set the switch back to its default position; however a great majority are only too happy to remain switched over to The need to believe.

The latest example of people afflicted with this unnatural switch position, was provided to me by the sender of an e-mail this weekend, titled God is Great, which purportedly portrays photographs of natural formations, and further asserts in the contents that, We Serve An Awesome God. Obviously this was not the work of the sender, but of someone else; however the sender displayed his Need to believe, by forwarding without any scrutiny:

god's teddy bear

god's teddy bear

Even a cursory examination would lead a person to question the photograph; a person who has his switch set to The need to question, that is. So, I questioned, and pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. I found the photograph below which should always accompany this one, as a set.

Apparently god's rabbit

Apparently god's rabbit

Fact: the above two photographs are stills taken from the 2001 French film, Amelie, and are exposed as fakes by The simple truth is that the original composer, by not including this photograph in the God is Great e-mail, either intended to deliberately mislead (as a prank), or deliberately lie to promote his religious cause, knowing that there are willing people out there, switched to The need to believe.

Consider the following example, also contained in the e-mail, and which I have exposed in a previous post. The original is the one further below, without the “hands.” And surprise! Does not appear in the mail.

god's hands

god's hands (allegedly)

Un-doctored cloud photograph

Un-doctored cloud photograph

Finally, this photograph which accompanied the other two exposed (no pun intended) photographs above, is so obvious, it just screams “I am fake, stupid.”

Supposedly, god's sleeping cat

Supposedly, god's sleeping cat

So, tell me, which way is your switch toggled; The need to question or The need to believe?

49 thoughts on “The need to question vs. the need to believe

  1. fede said…
    Hi Lenny , I am a Christian , what is your thoughts on intelligent design , there are many scienctist who beleive that all that exist came from it.” My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind ” – Albert Einstein – Please don’t think I’m trying to be sarcastic I realy would like to know. Thank you

  2. Hi Febe, thanks for re-posting your comment here.

    What can I say about intelligent design (ID) that hasn’t already been said? I’ll get straight to it then. ID is creationism all dressed up for the modern age. ID is one of the greatest frauds perpetrated on man. No real scientist would subscribe to this ideology; only psuedo-scientists who are in the employ of religious apologetic organizations such as Answers in Genesis (AIG) and The Templeton Foundation, or clerics.

    If you would really like to learn the true facts about ID, Google TalkOrigins or TalkReason or The Panda’s Thumb. You will find a wealth of scientific and other information there, that your Pastor would certainly not share with you.

    Your quotation from Einstein is often used by creationists to mischievously portray ID as scientific; the theory is that if Einstein, probably the world’s most recognizable scientist, believed in god, then science can be used to prove the creation myth. The quotation you provide above is often mis-interpreted to mean that he was expressing a belief in a superior power. However if you read other quotations by Einstein, he makes his belief quite clear. Here are a few other quotes which will put what I have said in perspective:

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” Einstein said this in a letter dated March 24, 1954.

    “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own–a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.” – Albert Einstein.

    Hope this answers your question; I apologise though if I came across as somewhat rude.

  3. What do you mean ” no real scientist ” ? I’m a little con.fuse also , I know Eistein Did not believe in Jesus Christ , but by his statement he had to believe in a Intelligent Being that started it all .

    • A real scientist does not spend his time trying to prove or disprove the existence of god; he is engaged in rational, tangible science, based in reality. A pseudo-scientist is a person who may be qualified in one or more fields of science, but spends his time with ridiculous pursuits such as intelligent design and biblical archaeology. His concern is not with furthering the ambitions of humankind as a whole, but only in furthering the ambitions of his employers, that is the Church or clergy or religious apologetic organizations. I think this is clear enough.

      In the quote, Einstein was merely expressing his awe at nature, only he referred to nature as “the illimitable superior spirit.” And nature does not equate to god.

        • I don’t believe in evolution as some sort of religion; which it most certainly isn’t. I accept evolution as a scientific fact, because the evidence presented is verifiable, and in fact is confimed with each new scientific discovery in fields other than biology.

  4. Hi Lenny , Does it make the definition of science true to it’s meaning if you don’t believe in intelligent design . What is the distinguishing difference in a intelligent designer or natural selection, when it comes to science . it’s still science,” A need to Question ” DNA is still DNA if God created it or natural selection is the reason for it’s existence . I still would like to understand it’s mystery. Febe

  5. Intelligent design is not science; we refer to it as pseudo-science. ID is an abomination masquerading as science, and promoted by pseudo-scientists, not real scientists. ID in fact flagrantly violates all the rules of science. Please check out the websites I referred you to. I am no scientist; I pass social commentary on irrational thinking, so please be guided by the scientists on these sites.

  6. Hi lenny’ are you saying that when you become a Christian , the need to question switch turns off or before becoming a Christian ?

  7. Hi Febe, I’m not singling out Christianity. I mean that the toggle switch is set to the “need to believe” position when you embrace any religion.

    And I’m not talking about ordinary questioning; I’m talking about critical thinking, something that dies a slow death when religion is embraced.

    Put in another way, if you don’t embrace religion or other irrational ideologies, then your switch is set to the “need to question” position.

  8. Hi lenny , I was wondering what fields of science are you talking of ? You said you” accept evolution as a scientific fact “, do all non ID. scientist believe this, or that it’s just a theory that there to prove ? You also said , ” ID is an abomination masquerading as science , and promoted by pseudo-scientist , not real scientist” I found this information ,Professor Henry F. (Fritz) Schaefer is one of the most distinguished physical scientists in the world. The U.S. News and World Report cover story of December 23, 1991 speculated that Professor Schaefer is a “five time nominee for the Nobel Prize.” He has received four of the most prestigious awards of the American Chemical Society, as well as the most highly esteemed award (the Centenary Medal) given to a non-British subject by London’s Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Moreover, his general interest lectures on science and religion have riveted large audiences in nearly all the major universities in the U.S.A. and in Beijing, Berlin, Budapest, Calcutta, Cape Town, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Paris, Prague, Sarajevo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sofia, St. Petersburg, Sydney, Tokyo, Warsaw, Zagreb, and Zürich.

    For 18 years Dr. Schaefer was a faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley, where he remains Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus. Since 1987 Dr. Schaefer has been Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Computational Chemistry at the University of Georgia.

    There are lots of people like Schaefer, respected scientists who are believers in God and very often, creationists. I am going to make such posts a bit more often to continually expose their existence and recent thoughts so that the evolutionists cannot continue to pretend that creation scientists are either almost non-existent, or incompetent .What are your thoughts on this? Also how is your cousin ?

    • Hi Febe,
      Many fields of science provide corroborating evidence for evolution, viz. geology, paleontology, genetics.

      Sounds like you don’t undertsand what a theory is: Creationists use the term “theory” loosely as a synonym for “speculative proposal” or a “mere guess”. However in scientific circles, the word “theory” has a specialized meaning which is much stronger and not to be confused with its colloquial meaning in everyday use by the layman. The word “theory” as used by scientists designates a wide explanatory framework that has reached the highest standard of confirmation by factual evidence. When scientists talk about mere conjecture, they use the word “hypothesis”. In the words of Zoologist, Tim Berra: “A scientific theory is the endpoint of the scientific method, often the foundation of an entire field of knowledge, and is not to be confused with the sort of “theory” we so easily propose in everyday conversation”. (Berra 1990:4) [Source: Defender’s Guide to Science and Creationism, Mark I Vuletic, Ph.D]

      I suggest you visit the Answers in Genesis website (a Christian organization) which advises (quite rightly) against some of the arguments you are using.

      Coming back to Professor Henry F. (Fritz) Schaefer: He is not qualified in the field of bilogical sciences, from whence the evolutionary theory originated. Further, as an employee of the Discovery Institute ( a religious apologist organization), his ideas concerning evolution are suspect, and his peers at the very university where he apparently teaches, have very little regard for him. [You can visit this website for more information]

      In fact the Discovery Institute remains accused of over-exagerating Henry F. (Fritz) Schaefer’s credentials. You can do the research on this; there are plenty of online resources questioning his credentials.

      Febe, I suggest you do much more research, because you seem to glibly accept the first bit of information you find confirming your religuious bias, as gospel.

      • Hi lenny , Thanks for honest anwers you have given me . I am a christian , and I do believe in God , and in his Son, I know this sounds crazy to you , but I’v always believed since I was a kid. I can’t understand how a big bang started it all .How did the star or whatever you call it get there in space in the first place ? How did it start or who started it .It’s hard to believe also that all ID scientist are pseudo ,because it’s coming from a bias source .I’v been reading a book called,The Case For A Creator , authered by Lee Strobel he was an atheist but has come to the faith . He Interviews a lot of scientist who explain away lot of the theorys taught by evolutionist . As you can see I am a novice at science , but I hope to have a greater understanding of both camps.

  9. Hi Febe,
    While it is commendable that you have the inclination to search for answers to vexing questions, your choice of resources remain uncritical and religious apologetic in nature. If you are truly interested in finding answers, you need to widen your reading base to include sources that are critical, skeptical or unbiased.

    Every single one of the authors or supposed scientists you have quoted in our discussions have been exposed as quacks, liers, christian apologists or worse. Lee Strobel is no different. His claim of being a former atheist is laughable. Consider that all children are born atheists, before they are indoctrinated by their parents/family into the culture/religion they are born into.

    In his book, The Case for a Creator, Lee claims to be “neutral and scientifically rigorous.” However he did not interview a single scientist who is opposed to ID. In fact, those he did interview, have doctorates in philosophy or theology, rather than science. Please refer to this website Case Against Faith where an extensive list of resources are provided which debunk Lee Strobel and his book.

    It sounds like you have not completed reading this book yet, so I’m sorry to throw a wet blanket on your reading fun. However, I encourage you to complete your reading and then analyse what you have read crictically, using the resources I have listed.

  10. Hey Lenny, How have you been? It’s Hard for someone who is not born again to believe in God .You can’t understand the ways of God With out believing first. It’s not man’s understanding ,but God revealing Himself to man by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to a person when he surrenders his life to Jesus Christ……..Here is some scripture… 1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
    3In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]”

    4″How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

    5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    9″How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

    10″You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[d] 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[e]

    16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.[g] 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”[h]

    1 Corinthians 2
    1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
    6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
    “No eye has seen,
    no ear has heard,
    no mind has conceived
    what God has prepared for those who love him”[b]— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
    The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.[c] 14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
    16″For who has known the mind of the Lord
    that he may instruct him?”[d] But we have the mind of Christ. Critical thinking-
    The intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and The intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. …
    . …You are not born again ,But I am ,I’ve Lived my life with out God, and with God and my intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from, generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, communication, as a guide to my belief and action I stand fully convinced That there is a God and that he created all things.

    • Hi Febe, it’s been awhile, hope you did some of that research I was talking about.

      The problem with a lot of theists is that they take “belief in god” as the starting point to their world-view. What about first having the evidence to support your belief? I have been told many times by Christians especially that they have some sort of (paranormal) experience which sets them on the path to believing that some supernatural entity out there was resposnsible for it. What about exploring other reasons for the experience before settling on the easiest one – goddidit?

      Actually, I am born again – I used to be religious just like you; believing all sorts of crazy things. The process of being born again was initially slow, but then the full force of rational and critical thinking hit me. I began to see the wonders of nauture in a new light – a light not tainted by irrational and superstitious beliefs. Yes, I was also born again…

      • Hi Lenny , “What about first having the evidence to support your belief?” Where is your evidence there is no God ? And that this world was made without Him .There is no science that can prove there is no God…….The Big Bang is the cosmological model of the initial conditions and subsequent development of the Universe that is supported by the most comprehensive and accurate explanations from current scientific evidence and observation.[1][2] As used by cosmologists, the term Big Bang generally refers to the idea that the Universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past (currently estimated to have been approximately 13.7 billion years ago[3]), and continues to expand to this day. If natural selection put it all together, then who is the brain behind it? WHO STARTED IT? You don’t have the answer , but we christian do, Because our believe in God is not because we need to hold on to something so our lifes have more meaning ,but because He revealed Himself to us.How do men change from such wicked lives that they use to live , With out some external power .And this power is real!

        • Febe,

          Perhaps you were not paying attention: I don’t have a belief (that’s why I’m called a non-believer). You are the one with the belief, and thus the onus is on you to prove your belief; I don’t have anything to prove.

          I merely point out the logical errors in your reasoning which you use to justify your belief.

          And you’re right, science is not meant t prove the existence of a god. Science is best system we have of exposing illogical reasoning; and it can be used quite quite effectively to point out the flaws in your reasoning.

          Believing that you have the answers, does not make it a fact or real. Think about it very carefully.

  11. Hi Lenny…. How do you prove to the world that God is real? You can’t put Him in a test tube, you can’t use a math formula. My proposition is, God is real. A scientist will say ok ,let me have this tangable god to make a logical proposition. I’m sorry sir I don’t have God in my pocket for you to examine. Well i’m sorry to inform you unless you can show me something tangible your proposition is assumed not to exist by default. How do you prove the spiritaul world with science? you can’t . There is no logic , no reasoning in the human mind or power to see into the spiritual world. There is one thing that man has from birth, and it’s “Faith” You first believe, then God shows you how real He is. There’s the real world meaning the one we can see in the natural and there’s the spiritual one, you see thru faith.I’m telling you Lenny He is real .

    • Ah yes Febe,

      You can’t produce your god so that we can put our probes into him and that is a real dilemma. Ever wondered why you can’t produce your god? Maybe he’s/she’s shy? Maybe he/she doesn’t want to be probed and is hiding away? Maybe?

      By your reasoning, if we had faith in the tooth fairy and other assorted goblins and mythical creatures, they will reveal themselves? Maybe that’s why children see fairies and have invisible friends? They have simple faith. Yes it all makes sense now. It’s a pity I’m too dumb to have faith too?

      Dumb scientists! If they just had faith in their hypothesis, they wouldn’t have to waste all that time in the labs and elsewhere trying to falsify their predictions with endless experiments etc. Someone needs to tell them that all that is required to make something real or true is to believe and have faith. Yippee!!!

  12. Lenny, your not understanding what I’m telling you about the spiritual wrote, “By your reasoning, if we had faith in the tooth fairy and other assorted goblins and mythical creatures, they will reveal themselves?” The anwser is, NO,because they do not exist. But God does ,how do I know? he has revealed himself to me, and Millions of other peaple through faith in His son Jesus Christ.WE have entered a spiritual world by faith. You can’t make something real by faith unless it’s a fact. You still didn’t answer my question ,what started the whole evolution thing? Before the big bang who or what put it there? Cause and Effect.

    • Febe,
      How do you knowthey don’t exist. They have revealed themselves to millions of children and even adults. In the fact the modern version of fairies is aliens from outer space. Yes, these days fairies manifest themselves as aliens (you know the large eyed green/grey beings). Strange that you can say with conviction that they do not exist?

      You and this million other people must be gifted or highly privileged for this god to have “revealed” himself to only you, and is being rather coy about “revealing” himself to the billions of other people. Oh, I get it; we don’t have “faith.” Yes, that’s the magical elixir, that’s a pre-requisite, isn’t it?

      “You can’t make something real by faith unless it’s a fact.” Eh, come again? Do you realise how nonsensical that statement is?

      Prior to evolution? You’re referring to abiogenesis. I’m so glad that you at least can make the distinction between evolution and abiogenesis. Scientists have an idea but are still working on proving the hypothesis. Yu’ve probably heard about the experiments being conducted at CERN in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which should tell us much more about our cosmological beginnings in a few years, or less.

      So, unlike the religious, who (arrogantly)think they know because they’ve been told by clerics, scientists are happy t say they don’t know for certain, but are trying to find out using the only true test for truth and factuality, ie the scientific method.

  13. Hi Lenny….When I was a child I believed in Santa Clause , The Easter Bunny , The Tooth Fairy , and God. As I matured my belief in them changed . I know Santa Clause isn’t real ,because my parents gave me the toys ;the Easter Bunny isn’t real , because my parents gave me the easter basket ; the Tooth Fairy isn’t real ,because my parents placed the doller under my pillow . As for God , my parents or people in general had nothing to do with my belief in Him. Reality and maturity caused my belief in S.C,the E.B.,and the T.F. to change. Despite maturity, my faith in God is stronger now then it was then .I have yet to find any evidence that God’s existence is like that of the three here mentioned. The fact is, the evidence that God does not exist, is null.Yes, faith is a prerequisite to enter in the Kingdom of God, and every body is born with it. You believe in science because its tangable, I also believe in the use of science, but when the scientist research or there explanation contradicts the Bible I switch the need to except it off . I don’t need to use Critical thinking then,because the Bible is infallible. A lot of times your critical thinking, or,” the need to question,”produces for us the wonderful information about God’s creation.To scientist, it’s how we got here through natural cause and how it all works. But to Christians it’s what God created, and how He design it to work .scienctist research it from Effect to Cause , the latter sees it as Cause to Effect. ……. “The need to believe ,” I don’t believe because I need to, or it’s comfortable. Neither do I ,or most mature Christians look for supernatural manifastations so our, what you would call our security blanket, be shaddered. When Tyndal was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into the early modern english of his day,I don’t think he was looking for a bunny rabbit in the sky for assurance so he could be comfortable in the flames while they strangled him.He knew that God waited on the other side for him ; and all those who gave there lives for the gospel of Christ. …….. “you can’t make something real by faith except it’s a fact ,” your right!! this statement is nonsensical. If you have to make something real it can’t be a fact.(like Global Warming).What I ment was, God is real, He is a fact, a reality. The only way to see it is thru faith. Its like a key that opens the door into the reality of His existence.unless you do this God( Jesus Christ) will only be a fairy tale to you. I’m not saying you make it real just because you say it is,or believe it is, but you enter into a real supernatruaI world by faith. .Jn.10:7, Then said Jesus unto them again, verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. Jn.14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me. Rom.5:2, by whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Rev.3:20, Behold I stand at the door, and knock:if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.Heb.11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen.

    • Hi Febe

      “God is real, He is a fact, a reality. The only way to see it is thru faith.”

      No he is not and it is not a fact or a reality, until you prove it is. Faith proves nothing. It is just an indication of your inability to produce real evidence.

      As I said before, I could have faith that there is a giant teapot floating around the sun, but that does not make it real or true. Faith is a cop-out, a giant lie, a pathetic attempt to make sense out of something in the absence of the scientific method. It won’t fly, and you can quote from the bible until you’re blue in the face; it won’t change anything.

      If you’re not thinking critically, you’re not thinking. Simple…

      By the way, what do you make of all the people burned at the stake for being suspected of witchcraft or specking out against the tyranny of the Church. Don’t you think it would have been easier on them to just accept the bullshit that was being fed to them? Do you think they accepted this cruel punishment because they “knew” that there was “something waiting for them on the other side?” Please, don’t tell me they had faith too.

  14. I’m sorry Lenny I think you have the story wrong on salem…… Social, Political and Economic Reasons For Witchcraft Accusations
    The town of Salem had been founded in 1626 northeast of Boston. Since it had its own harbor, it attracted many merchants, so that after a few years an internal division began to develop: on the one hand, there was the wealthy merchant town and, on the other hand, there were the poorer farming lands surrounding it. Soon several villages in the area struggled for independence from Salem Town. Most of them liberated themselves, but since the town needed agricultural supplies, Salem Village was forced to remain dependent.

    It was only in 1752 that the Village became an autonomous city. Until then, there were several areas of conflict between the village and the town. Firstly, the town with its flourishing, expanding market was rich, whereas most of the farmers in the Village were not able to “cross the subsistence threshold”.(43) The tools of the farmers were primitive, and with every generation the farms became smaller: since Salem Village was surrounded by other villages, it was not able to expand its territory, so that the farms had to be divided among the sons of each family.(44) Consequently, over time the contrast between town and village became even sharper. Another problem was that Salem Village demanded its own meeting house and pastor because of the large distance to the church in Salem Town, but it was only in 1672 that the town gave permission to ordain the first minister in Salem Village, and although this way the Village gained a little bit of autonomy, it still remained politically dependent until in 1752 it finally became the independent town of Danvers.

    In addition to these conflicts, there was a division within Salem Village itself: the eastern part of the Village consisted of flat meadows, it was located near Salem Town, and it had access to both roads and waterways. Therefore the eastern villagers were able to supply the town with food and gained economic as well as political influence. The western villagers’ farming lands were of lower quality because of hills and marshes, and its remote location prevented the people from participating in the town market.(45)

    This internal conflict seems to have been an important factor in witchcraft accusations. Boyer and Nissenbaum show that almost all of the accusations were made by westerners against inhabitants of the eastern half of Salem Village. Another interesting aspect is that the accusers often did not know the accused very well, so that in Salem neighborhood quarrels were not normal reasons for accusations, like they had been during previous witchcraft cases. Instead, it was the neighbors who often defended the suspected witches: most defenses came from the eastern half of Salem Village. This means that the accusations were not exclusively based on the “evil” reputation of a witch, instead the pattern suggests that social status was far more important during the witchcraft hysteria.(46)

    A very graphic example of the internal conflict is the „war” between the Porter and the Putnam family. The Porter family, from Salem Village’s eastern half, had connections to the merchant elite of Salem Town and had gained much political influence, whereas the Putnams, who had been powerful in the past, were not able to take part in the economic expansion of the town because of the remote location of Salem Village’s western half.

    More than a third of the formal accusations (46 of 141) were made by members of the Putnam family, and the “afflicted girl” Ann Putnam was in fact the person to accuse most witches during the course of the trials (21 altogether). Yet no member of the Porter family was accused directly, instead the accusations were directed against other persons of high social status. (47)

    The conflict between the richer and the poorer parts of Salem Village also concerned the minister Samuel Parris, who had been ordained in 1692. All the ministers before had been a point of discussion in Salem, all have them had been found to be “flawed” in some way. (48) Parris’s ordination also led to a conflict between two factions. Finally villagers decided that Parris would be ordained and that he would receive two acres of land, which formerly had belonged to the ministry and actually were not to be given to an individual. Like all of the former village pastors, Parris did not receive full pay, and in early 1692 it seemed that he would also lose his land. Still villagers criticized that Parris, who had been a merchant before becoming minister, still received an income from his properties in Barbados and from the land in Salem (apart from the ministry) that he owned. (49)

    His supporters came mostly from the poor half of Salem Village. They had the political power in Salem and were in charge of the witchcraft trials. Many of them were from the Putnam family. This led to a polarization between the factions because many people joined the Anti-Parris faction because of the activity of the Putnams against Parris.

    These internal conflicts that had been prevalent already some time before 1692 also contributed to the witchcraft crisis. The internal conflict was transformed into a witch hunt.

    • Hi Febe,

      Thanks for the copy/paste history lesson; one version at least by someone you have neglected to credit. Doesn’t help me to verify, now does it?

      Let’s assume this guy’s version has some semblance of truth, it still does not change the fact that people were burned at the stake at the behest of the Church. Let’s see your (apologist) version of the Spanish Inquisition, then?

  15. Hi Lenny….I’m a eye witness;a man had a lump on his arm and when hands were laid apon him , right on that lump , and when the person said in the name of Jesus Christ be healed, that lump left!I’v seen drug addicts, and drunks set free, women who were whors but now mothers. Teenagers who were failing school but thru the power of Christ they got on the honer roll.they all have the same testimony;when Jesus Christ came into there lives He gave them the power to changed.God is real Lenny I pray that you get on the train,because you don’t want to go to hell because you haven’t let Jesus Christ into your heart. You might not have long to live.John 3:16

    • Hi Febe,

      Richard Dawkins’, in his latest book “The Greatest Show On Earth,” provides evidence for how “actual observation or authetic testimony can be horribly fallable.” He references psychological experiments such as the one conducted by Professor Daniel J. Simons at the University of Illinois. You can Google it (or follow the link for the details about visual cognition and human performance), but basically it shows how our much-vaunted powers of observation can be very deceiving. There have been many othe such experiments which confirm this phenomenon.

      People don’t really see what they think they see. The human eye does not really capture everything, and since the human mind is equipped through evolution to be pattern seeking, it fills in the blanks; in lots of cases with nonsense.

      What you think you have seen, could be explained by science, but you prefer to take the easy route – goddidit.

  16. Hi Lenny–Is there a God who has among other things created the universe? It is not by its conclusions but by its methodological starting point that modern science excludes creation. — C. F. von Weizsacker
    To— C. F. von Weizsacker
    It’s through Methodological naturalism that the conclusion should be Creation and not chance. You can,t put God in a test tube, true, but you can put all your Conclusions and theories in one and the conclusion points to intelligent designer, not chance.

  17. Hi Febe

    The intelligent design lobby continues to spread complete fabrications about evolution. Evolution does not happen by chance; the proponents of evolution do not make this assertion.

    The survival of genes has nothing to do with chance; on the contrary genes work very hard to propagate good replications of themselves. Bad genes are doomed to die out, and it has nothing to do with chance.

    “Intelligent design” would imply perfect creations; however in reality there are a large number of living entities that are far from perfect. Your own eye is but one example, as it is inferior to some animal’s eyes. Your spine is not exactly perfect for an upright walking being. There are far too many examples to mention. You can look them up at your own leisure.

    Would a benevolent creator condone suffering? The animal kingdom is replete with natural acts of suffering. Predators routinely kill weaker prey to survive. Do you suppose animals don’t feel pain? Why would a benevolent creator create living entities that “feed” on each other?

    The ichneumon wasp paralyses its victim (usually a caterpillar) but does not kill it. It then lays an egg in the victim. The victim must stay alive to provide nourishment to the growing wasp larva. The larva grows by eating the caterpillar’s internal organs in a specific order; first the fat bodies and digestive organs, leaving the vital heart and nervous system till last. This is done in order to keep the victim alive for as long as possible to enable the wasp larva to grow. Can you imagine being eaten alive from the inside out? An act of intelligent design? Or an act of incredible cruelty? This is the reality of nature and evolution.

  18. Hi Lenny
    You might find this blog interesting……

    why do people who except science’s theory on the origin of life exclude ID when science can’t prove ID or not? Even when logically there are times when you have to admit logic points to ID and its hand in the origin of life.

    • Hi Febe

      John Macarthur said so, so I must believe? Evolution is not a religion; and even if every priest in the world screamed it from his pulpit, it would still not make it a religion.

      Do you really think that we accept evolution because “it allows us to indulge in free sex” or because “we don’t want to be accountable?” Please!!!

      What balderdash. You owe me 9 minutes of my life back!!!

  19. “Intelligent design” would imply perfect creations; however in reality there are a large number of living entities that are far from perfect. Your own eye is but one example, as it is inferior to some animal’s eyes. Your spine is not exactly perfect for an upright walking being. There are far too many examples to mention. You can look them up at your own leisure.
    To answer you I would have to quote scripture, but it’s not scientific fact, To a Christian the answer is found in genesis the world was created perfect in all it’s operation. When our first parents sinned against God, sin entered into the world and affected it’s perfect operations.

    • Hey Febe

      Yeah, I get it, SIN was responsible for the gross genetic mutations that caused all the imperfections. Yeah, that makes perfect sense, and I suppose you have the proof for this as well, right?

  20. “Would a benevolent creator condone suffering? The animal kingdom is replete with natural acts of suffering.”
    If there is bad there has to be good, if there is good there has to be moral law , if there is moral law there has to be a moral law giver. If you say there is no moral law giver then there is no moral law, if no moral law, there is no good, if there is no good there is no bad.

  21. Hi Febe

    Is that your attempt at logic, or just something you copied and pasted from some religious apologetic literature? Give me a break, would ya!!!

  22. Let me ask you a question, Scientist use Cause and Effect, If B is the effect then A is the cause. Logically A cannot exist with out some kind of Intelligent’s, a person, a god. It’s ludicrous to think that A just happened. How did A happened for B to be an effect. Sounds like you have to have “Faith” in What the scientist tell you the sum of how A, B,C, D, happened without telling you A’s origin.

    • Hi Febe

      What’s ludicrous is to arbitrarily assign god as the cause without any investigation or proof. The cause might as well have been a giant squid colliding with a giant teapot – but since I don’t have any proof, I don’t assume that to be the case.

      Anyway, if everything has a cause, what is the cause of god? And please don’t tell me that god is the exception.

  23. Was it ID, God or It all just happened? All three take faith. Neither religious people or scientist can tell us. It’s takes Faith in all three. Look at space without the planets and stars just plain space what is it’s origin?

    • Hi there Febe

      Scientists do not propose any of the three causes you mention. It was neither ID or god or just happened. There was a cause, but until scientists find that cause through the use of the scientific method, there is no reason to believe that any god did it, or that it just happened.

      I perfectly happy to wait for a scientific explanation. I’d rather not know, than just accept a fantasy tale proposed by ignorant men from the bronze age.

      BTW: ID (Intelligent Design)is just another fancy, scientific-sounding term for god-did-it, but there is absolutely nothing scientific about it.

  24. Evolution is a hypothesis not a theory.
    You have all the information that points to an ideology that rest on the assumption that the origin of life came to be by chance, natural selection. But there’s no theory on how the origin of life came into existence, without that very important fact Evolution is a proposition. If you were honest you would admit that a lot of the facts point to intelligent design. Look at it this way you have a fish bowl that has life in it, you tell me how this life functions but you assume it came into existence by chance on its own. There is no proof of what you claimed is true that A,B,C,and D exist by chance.

    • Hi Febe

      Evolution does not make any predictions about how life started; just about how it progressed once started. Don’t confuse issues like so many religious apologists are fond of doing. Evolution is a theory because the proof is beyond dispute.

      On the other hand, there are a few hypothesis’ about how life began, but absolute proof still eludes us. However, no true scientist has made any claim that he knows for sure how life started, unlike the religious brigade who sanctimoniously claim they know, based on the writings of stone-age ignoramus’s.

      Even if some supernatural spook did cause life to start, it seems he/she/it was clueless/helpless/impotent to take it any further as evolution is a fact and there was no supernatural hand in it whatsoever. The best that can be said of any supernatural entity is that it/he/she is incompetent at least and downright looney at best.

  25. Hi. I hope you don’t mind me weiging on on your back and forth on this. It seems to me that the proponents of ID take a very one sided approach. They make great demands of any alternative explanation, yet don’t seem to want to apply the same rigour to their own beliefs. Could I maybe suggest to switch things up a little bit?

    Here are some questions for Febe, to get us started:
    – Assume for the moment that evolution is wrong, and does not explain how the things we see around us came to be. Exactly what inference do you believe can be drawn from that?
    – Assume that the best explanation is an intelligent designer or creator. Using evidence, and the scientific method, what can we infer about this creator from what we see around us?
    – The Christian Bible is but one of a maze of competing origin myths (nearly every known society had/has one). What are the scientific reasons for privileging this view above the others?

    • Hi pog throgmorton,

      Your input is as usual incisive and extremely enlightening. Feel free to weigh in whenever you like.

      My arguments are sometimes crude and tired, so a new perspective, as well elucidated as yours, is a godsend (if you’ll pardon the religuous expression).

  26. Hi pog throgmorton, and Lenny

    Have you read anything on the historical accuracy of The bible, here’s a link:
    There is no other religious book like The Holy Bible. There are prophesies in The Bible that can historically be confirmed. There’s no other religious book like The Holy Bible. There are prophesies in The Bible that can historically be confirmed.

    The power of prophecy is illustrated in the classic book, Science Speaks. In it, Peter Stoner reviews some of the historical prophecies of the Old Testament, including Babylon, Tyre, Samaria, Gaza-Ashkelon, Jerusalem, Palestine, Moab-Ammon, and Petra-Edom. He uses peer-reviewed mathematical analysis and principles of probability to conclude:
    No human being has ever made predictions which hold any comparison to those we have considered, and had them accurately come true. The span of time between the writing of these prophecies and their fulfillment is so great that the most severe critic cannot claim that the predictions were made after the events happened.1
    For me, these historical prophecies weren’t a tabloid lark… They weren’t a contrivance… They weren’t an after-the-fact hoax… They were absolutely legitimate. For me, the biblical test of prophecy came through! Intellectually, I had no choice but to accept the facts — the fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament authenticate its inspiration from outside our time dimension. There was no other logical conclusion… as hard as I tried to find one! I Here is one that you can read:In the 26th chapter of Ezekiel (592-570 BC) seven things are predicted to happen to the city of Tyre:
    1) Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the mainland of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:8).
    2) Many nations against Tyre (Ezekiel 26:3).
    3) Make her a bare rock; flat like the top of a rock (Ezekiel 26:4).
    4) Fishermen will spread their nets over the site (Ezekiel 26:5).
    5) Throw the debris into the water (Ezekiel 26:12).
    6) Never be rebuilt (Ezekiel 26:14).
    7) Never be found again (Ezekiel 26:21) (2/285)
    Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to mainland Tyre three years after the prophecy and after a 13 year siege (585-573 BC) Tyre made terms and acknowledged Babylonian authority over them (4 xxii.452) When Nebuchadnezzar broke the gates down, he found the city almost empty. The majority of the people had moved by ship to an island about 1/2 miles off the coast and fortified a city there. The mainland city was destroyed in 573 BC, as predicted. The city of Tyre on the island remained a powerful city for several hundred years. (2/286)Alexander the Great, in his war on Persia, marching southward called on each city to open their gates to him, as part of his plan to deny the use to the Persian fleet. Tyre refused to do so, and Alexander laid siege to the city. Possessing no fleet, he demolished old Tyre, on the mainland, and with the debris built a causeway 200 feet wide across the straits separating the old and new towns, erecting towers and war engines at the farther end. (4/xxii. 452) Tyre continually raided the causeway with fire-ships greatly retarding progress, until Alexander pressured conquered subjects to make ships for his operation. After attaining a superior naval force, Alexander finished the causeway, battered the walls of Tyre down killed eight thousand of the inhabitants and sold thirty thousand into slavery. (5/153)
    A history book by a secular historian reads, “Alexander the Great … reduced Tyre to ruins… The larger part of the site of the once great city is now bare as the top of a rock — a place where fishermen now spread their nets to dry.” (5/55)
    Another historian, John C. Beck, says, “The history of Tyre does not stop with after the conquest of Alexander. Men continue to rebuild her and armies continue to besiege her walls, until finally after sixteen hundred years, she falls never to be rebuilt again.” (6/41)
    All the prophecies of Ezekiel about Tyre have come true: Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the mainland city of Tyre; Many nations were against Tyre; Alexander made her a bare rock and threw debris into the water to make the causeway; fishermen now spread nets over the site; (there is a city of Tyre today, but it is located down the coast from the original Tyre) the old city of Tyre has never been rebuilt, even though a great freshwater spring are located at the site, providing 10,000,000 gallons daily. It is still an excellent site today but has never been rebuilt, although many have tried. All seven of the predictions came true in the minutest detail.

    • Hi Febe,

      Apologies for the late response – been kinda busy with the FIFA Soccer World Cup.

      Peter Stoner = Pseudo-scientist = Christian apologist = zero credibility.

      Like all the others, Stoner uses only the “facts” that seem to give credence to his hypothesis, and discards everything that points against it. Very un-scientific!!! It’s a common fallacy with apologists.

      Why do you insist on collecting only the “evidence” that supposedly bolsters your world-view and ignore all else. You are never going to learn anything this way. You will never know the truth, if you persist in seeking that which makes you comfortable.

      Coming back to your original question: I have read plenty about the so-called historical accuracy of the bible, and none of it stands up to vigorous scrutiny.

      Ever read anything about the unreliability of the bible? Try Dr. Bart D Ehrman. Now that’s something worth reading…

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