Origins Discussions – What Would be the First Question You’d Ask?

Given that you are a ______________________ (your particular informative specialty, background &/or theological/worldview approach to the topic), what would be the first question(s) you’d like to ask to start a discussion on the topic of the origins of life and the origins of human beings if you could ask:

1) A person who is confused about why people use their precious free time to join websites & forums (such as this one), chat sites, groups, on-line meetings rooms, and listserves, who attend conferences, workshops, presentations and talks delivered about origins & processes of natural & human history, including monumental & meaningful topics involving science, philosophy & theology/worldview discourse.

2) An atheist or agnostic who thinks evolutionary biology, the ‘Evolutionary Epic’ (as in E.O. Wilson, D.S. Wilson, Connie Barlow, et al.) &/or evolutionism as an ideology that buttresses their personal worldview, makes it very difficult if not impossible to believe in the Creator-God attested to in Abrahamic monotheistic scriptures and institutions.

3) A person who accepts a ‘normal’ age of the Earth and believes there is more than just a natural, physical, material layer to existence, but also a spiritual dimension and who believes that evolution is something that the Creator is concurrently doing in the world, including in/with the hearts & minds of human beings (i.e. a person who accepts ‘theistic evolution’ or ‘evolutionary creation’).

4) Someone who shares (relatively or quite nearly) the same theology/worldview as you do, but who disagrees significantly with evolutionary natural science as it is currently understood, particularly with the views of those who still hold to a ‘Darwinian’ or ‘neo-Darwinian’ paradigm that came before the Third Way and ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ were formed.

5) A young earth creationist, evangelical fundamentalist Protestant who demonstrates anti-science proclivities in their ways of communicating especially with non-Christians and a lack of responsibility towards their fellow religious who are ashamed of them for their ideological distortions of Christian teachings and their lack of compassion for atheists who are simply defending ‘good science’ without a religious axe to grind.

The point of these 5 examples is that it can make a significant difference ‘who’ one is speaking with when starting a discussion regarding ‘how’ one starts it. Welcome your feedback on how you’d start these conversations.

24 thoughts on “Origins Discussions – What Would be the First Question You’d Ask?

  1. My first thought was that it would probably depend on who I was talking to. Then I read the remainder of the OP. You’re asking me to make an effort to actually think? 🙂

  2. The first question would ask is if the simple to complex model that materialists require to support their worldview viable.

  3. colewd:
    The first question would ask is if the simple to complex model that materialists require to support their worldview viable.

    That looks like an incomplete sentence Bill. Please -re-read and rephrase/complement.

  4. The point of these 5 examples is …

    I’m not seeing the point of those examples.

    I first thought of the OOL question as a child. I think I was already a Christian by then, so it may have been in the early teen years. But I don’t think my Christianity had much effect on how I thought about it.

    Now, much older and no longer religious, my current thoughts are not too much different. What has changed, is that I know more. But what I know does not answer OOL questions.

    As a child, what seemed to be the best explanation was “there was always life”. So that’s roughly the panspermia solution. It make the OOL question part of “why is there something rather than nothing”. And that latter question isn’t one that actually demands an answer.

  5. 1.) I wouldn’t ask this person any question about origins. I would want to know why they are online wondering why people are online. Are they taking a survey, doing research, etc.

  6. “Origins Discussions – What Would be the First Question You’d Ask?”

    Would you be willing to lie to yourself if our discussion about origins would take you out of the comfort zone of your preconceived beliefs?

  7. J-Mac:
    “Origins Discussions – What Would be the First Question You’d Ask?”

    Would you be willing to lie to yourself if our discussion about origins would take you out of the comfort zone of your preconceived beliefs?

    I never thought you could ask a proper question. To honor the extraordinary event, I’ll answer: I don’t have preconceived beliefs about the origin of life. I therefore don’t have a comfort zone to be taken out of. I have some ideas around the theme, but I would not lie to myself in order to preserve any of them, since it’s just an interesting question, and I’d like to know a bit better.

  8. 1. I don’t see the reason to start a conversation about the origin of life with someone who doesn’t care about it.

    2. I don’t know any atheists whose atheism is founded with such absolutism on some weird overwhelming evolution-is-everything viewpoint. I have no questions for such a fictitious character. (If there’s such a thing, I don’t know what I would ask them.)

    3. I don’t know.

    4. The Darwinian/neo-Darwinian paradigm is not the way natural evolutionary biology is currently understood. The third way has an exceedingly stupid foundational declaration, and equivocating name. Most of those participating in the “renewed” synthesis just want their particular fields of research to become the next paradigm, but don’t know the current evolutionary paradigms. They failed to talk to actual evolutionary biologists before starting their “revolution.”

    5. I talk to these all the time in these forums. They’re always the ones to bring the OOL theme into the table. J-Mac’s question might do (amazingly so).

    I think, Gregory, that you consider yourself to lie in the 4rth group. I don’t know what I’d ask you in the OOL theme. Maybe I’d ask you if you’re not mistaking OOL for evolution.

  9. colewd:
    Thefirst question would ask is if the simple to complex model that materialists require to support their worldview viable.

    Thanks for addressing a statement/question about simplicity & complexity to materialists & their (materialistic + ?) worldview. Shall we say that addresses Person 2 in the above list?

    I’m curious then how would the first question to start a conversation on the topic of origins differ (or be the same) if you asked other ‘non-materialists’? That’s the reason for 5 examples above.

  10. “You’re asking me to make an effort to actually think?”

    It would seem even some ‘skeptics’ here are capable of doing that, so in your skepticism lite, probably it wouldn’t be impossible. ; )

  11. “I’m not seeing the point of those examples.”

    “For your information, let me ask you a question.” – Marshall McLuhan

    It’s interesting to see how people start conversations. One way is: ‘why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?’ Another is to ask more specific ‘scenario’ questions. Do you wish to try the latter?

    In this case, it is informative to more than just yourself how you answer, given that you’re a Moderator here & are playing nicely as an agnostic (non-believer) with people over at PS. The original ‘inspiration’ for this site by apostate ‘scientist’ Elizabeth Liddle was, as many still posting here now know, ‘Uncommon Descent’, the blog started then abandoned by William Dembski. That site matters almost not at all now compared with Joshua’s loud, brazen & brash ‘P.S’. Wouldn’t you agree about that?

    “what I know does not answer OOL questions.”

    So what do you do with yourself when you reach the edge of what you (‘scientifically’ or ‘mathematically’) know about OoL & OoH?

    As for going back to your childhood ‘religious’ days of old, Neil, it brought up in my mind a paradox that some people seem to get stuck on regarding childhood & adulthood, in Scripture. Perhaps comparing these might assist you to remember some things you never thought you’d forgotten in the first place?
    1 Corinthians 13:11 & Matthew 18:3

  12. J-Mac:
    “Origins Discussions – What Would be the First Question You’d Ask?”
    Would you be willing to lie to yourself if our discussion about origins would take you out of the comfort zone of your preconceived beliefs?

    Which of the 5 categories of Person is your question addressed to, or is that how you would address anyone you met on the street & didn’t know previously?

    Are you sure you’d like to bring up self-deceit as your first question to another human being (even those who may rather prefer to start by trusting you before you open your mouth) in what is meant to be a ‘normal’ conversation, J-Mac?

  13. Entropy,

    Thanks for addressing the 5. Will respond to these soon…

    “Maybe I’d ask you if you’re not mistaking OOL for evolution.”

    No, but that’s a fair card to have ready for quite a few people out there.

  14. Gregory: Which of the 5 categories of Person is your question addressed to, or is that how you would address anyone you met on the street & didn’t know previously?

    Are you sure you’d like to bring up self-deceit as your first question to another human being (even those who may rather prefer to start by trusting you before you open your mouth) in what is meant to be a ‘normal’ conversation, J-Mac?

    You seem to have changed the application of your OP now…

    Well, it’s pretty clear to me that if you were really concerned about wasting your precious time, as you seem to have indicated in the OP as important, you’d be interested in finding out, and asap, if someone you are going to talk to is even interested in changing his views… Otherwise, you may as well tell them what they want to hear…just like 99.9% of Darwinists hope for…

  15. graham2: Anyone else see this OP as a waste of time ?

    Is this the same graham2 who thinks people should ignore J-Mac but can’t seem to do so himself?

  16. Mung,

    It’s a Category 1 thing, apparently, “1) A person who is confused about why people use their precious free time…”

  17. Mung: Is this the same graham2 who thinks people should ignore J-Mac but can’t seem to do so himself?

    You can’t ignore OP’s. And that is what will destroy this site. To a casual visitor it’s just another UD now.

    And great work Mr Moderator at fermenting disputes where there are none.

  18. I am not any kind of ist.

    Long ago, about age eleven or twelve, I discovered there were questions that people had thought about and argued about for ages, without reaching any conclusions.

    As with many people, I found them entertaining, but not something to worry about.

    Mark Twain said he didn’t worry about death, because he had been dead, or nonexisting, for ages before he was born, and it didn’t hurt a bit.

    I think the same about unsolvable problems. People have lived and died without solving them, and so will I.

    OOL has a potential resolution, but only a positive one. Perhaps some day we will demonstrate the steps in a laboratory. Steps that do not require intervention.

    Of course that won’t convince everyone.

  19. OMagain: You can’t ignore OP’s.

    You can avoid clicking on them and going in to the thread and leaving a comment.

    And that is what will destroy this site. To a casual visitor it’s just another UD now.

    Perhaps those opposed to the current slate of OPs could come up something worth discussing. If there’s no one willing to offer up OPs containing material worth discussing then that is what will destroy this site. But for that reason, not because it’s just another UD.

  20. Mung: Perhaps those opposed to the current slate of OPs could come up something worth discussing.

    “Opposed” is overstating it. It’s more a signal-to-noise problem.

    If there’s no one willing to offer up OPs containing material worth discussing then that is what will destroy this site.

    I agree that if there’s nothing of interest to be found in OPs, then interest will wane and the readership will shrink. In the past, I recall the argument “good speech drives out bad” being advanced. I suspect the converse is true.

  21. I just have no sympathy for those who could offer an alternative set of OPs for people to see and read but don’t do so but instead choose to just whine about the current choices.

  22. I think the OP is useful insofar as it’s important to bear in mind that people bring lots of different perspectives to bear on these issues.

    I’ve seen lots of discussions here at TSZ go badly awry because people who accept evolutionary theory are interpreted as accepting a reductionist materialism in their metaphysics. At the same time, I’ve also seen lots of discussions go badly awry when people who are skeptical about some claim that they attribute to evolutionary theory are interpreted as being religious fundamentalists.

    I think there’s something to the “be the TSZ you want to see in the world” attitude. I haven’t posted any OPs lately because these days I’m either thinking about technical issues in philosophy of cognitive science or reflecting on trends in domestic and global politics. I don’t think either topic is suitable to TSZ.

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