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About Squawk

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  1. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    Fine, I'll make this my last post in this forum then, noting that your continued equivocation of macro-evolution is one of the primary reasons you can't understand why you are incorrect about evolutionary theory. The very fact that labeling such facts about reality as precisely what they are is considered a breach of the forum rules here is sufficient evidence of willing ignorance, and so I shall move along to pastures new. PZ Myers wouldn't decline to debate because he couldn't win, he'd decline to debate because it's the equivalent of a professor of geography arguing with a flat earther. Utterly pointless.
  2. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    The Ark, can you not think of a single design flaw in any extant creature? Honestly? The need to defecate, the requirement to eat food? The larynx and oesophagus leading to a choking hazard? The breakability of bones. Is a penguin or a seal "perfect" for life on land, or sea? You want to see a transitional species, go look at the seal. Every species is transitional, it just happens to be more obvious in that case. The sheer complexity of life that leads to such huge complications when things go wrong. For an infinitely clever designer, the list of flaws is endless. Life is fantastically well adapted to survive, but it's far from perfect Seek123, you're projecting your own design tendencies onto a deity. If we were designing something we would re-use bits for simplicity. God is not restricted, and yet acts as if the same restrictions apply?. To consider that he had to design anything the way it is for simplicity is to deny him power. You have to concede he designed things to look evolved. As a side note, this is my own comeback to the so called fine tuning argument. People will suggest the Universe is fine tuned for life (or the earths orbit around the sun is). Are they arguing that God was so restricted that he could only create life on a planet that had such strict rules? If so, that is one serious restriction to place on God.
  3. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    On my way to bed so I'll answer the rest later. However, I just wanted to leave you with a thought. If you consider this to be the case, are you conceding that God was limited in the ways in which he could design life so that it was capable of interacting? If so, you just placed a limit on gods power. If not, the this argument has no merit.
  4. Squawk

    The Rules Of The Game

    You're correct, number 2. Prescriptive vs descriptive. Atheism is descriptive, it describes the state of non belief, but has absolutely nothing else to say. Communism is prescriptive, requiring (coincidentally) atheism (or at least, in most forms it does).
  5. Squawk

    Burden Of Proof

    Dodge a question? Most of mine have been, but no matter. Science could be considered a methodology, a methodology for removing the personal bias of those carrying it out. Myth and superstition have no place in such an environment, so the supernatural is ignored entirely until and unless it can be tested and falsified. The above, however, is entirely irrelevant to the point I was making. Proponents of the supernatural wish to crowbar the supernatural into science precisely because of the historical success of the scientific method of problem solving. It's an attempt to gain some form of credibility by association. If this were not the case those proponents would ignore science entirely and instead use the supernatural to produce applications that benefit real people, stuff that works in the real world. There would be no attempt to get the supernatural into science classes. There would instead be supernatural classes in which the applications of the supernatural are presented and shown to work. They don't, so such a class doesn't exist. Show me wrong. Go produce something that relies on the supernatural that actually does, well, anything. 44% of the US population will back you, so where are these applications? Science will continue to advance the world no matter what you choose to believe. This 300 second rule between posting is ridiculous, btw.
  6. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    I disagree with the idea of can't be witnessed making something supernatural. The orbit of Pluto takes over 200 years, is it supernatural to say that pluto will orbit the sun? Of course not, we can infer the orbit of Pluto from the section of it that can be observed in conjunction with our understanding of gravity. The same can be applied, though retrospectively, to fossils. We have a process through which variation can arise (evolution), and we have a chronological series of fossils that seem to show a progression in keeping with gradual change (all be it of the punctuated equilibrium kind). There's nothing supernatural here. I wish to further combine two previous points. The first was that of the dogs. You will accept, I presume, the idea that there is what might be termed a large structural difference between a doberman and a chiwawa. Is it reasonable to say that if two fossils show approximately that same degree of difference they could still be the same species, or one very recently descended from the other (if you accept speciation). Apply something akin to induction here. I have fossil A that is only fractrionally different (like our two dogs) to fossil B. Fossil B is different by a similar ammount to fossil C etc etc until we get to fossil Z. Now, fossil Z is massively different to fossil A, but at no point were any consecutive fossils greater than the difference between our dogs. It's not exactly that clear cut, but thats the gist of it, and is why I mentioned the black to white analogy. End to end the differences are large, but we don't look end to end to observe the progression, the interesting bits are in the middle. Informative though the fossil record is, with recent (last 60 years) developments in evolutionary theory it is somewhat superfluous to requirements if you wish to examine the case of common ancestry. By far the most informative and persuasive evidence comes from genetics. Genetic analysis, comparing the genomes of one species to another, provides us with a nested hierarchy. A true nested hierarchy forms from a branching process. The fact that phylogenetics gives us just such a hierarchy is strong evidence that the diversity of life were formed by a branching process. We know of only one branching process in nature, speciation, which results from neo-darwinian evolution. A common creationist counter is "same design, same designer". So let me point out something. God, with infinite power, could choose any design, any method, any layout. If God chose to design life the way it is, he chose to do so in a way that looks like it evolved. Is that possible? Of course, acceptance of evolutionary theory does not preclude a God from existing and does not suggest that a God could not have influenced the process, but that is how it looks. I think you missed the point I was making with my analogy. The point I was making was that the more fossils we gather, the more confidence we can have of ancestry. The quesiton is, how close do fossils need to be in order to draw that conclusion, which is where my A-B-C and dog examples arise. I contend that we are well beyond the point of doubt, and to show that, I challenge people to come up with the series of fossils, ABC, considered to be consecutive, to tell us what would constitute transitional between A and C, and then to show how B doesn't apply. The purpose of this challenge is to demonstrate that the record is (in most cases) fine grained enough to draw these conclusions. Doubtless there are examples where the fossil evidence is scant, but that's not an issue for this challenge. The possibilities are limitless with constraints. Heredity implies very little change between generations. Huge leaps are nigh on impossible, so the direction of evolution at any given time is limited by the diversity of life at that time. Thats one of the reasons why fossil evidence works. If variation were unlimited there would be no pattern of descent. There is false equivalence here. Rather than going into depth on the methods of fasiifying evolution, I should point out that it has no relevence to evolutionary theory if one of its falsification points would also falsify creationism. You can't complain that evolution can't be falsified and then admit that it can be falsified, but that those falsification points would also falsify an alternative view. Showing that dogs did not descend from wolves (kinda hard since they can still breed) would not actually falsify evolution, it would just throw a major spanner in the works and cause a dramatic rethink. Showing that humans share a more recent common ancestor with dogs than they do with the other apes, however, would falsify evolutionary theory right now. So, interesting thought experiment, how would one show that dogs are more closely related to humans than are the other apes. That might be an interesting exercise to engage in. Where would you start? That's a common misconception amongst creationists. Evolution is simply descent with inherent modification in a reproducing population. The interesting research relates to how it manifests in the world. As new evidence is uncovered modifications incorporate new evidence. Punctuated equilibrium springs immediately to mind. But let me throw that back at you. Would you not deem it a good thing that the theory was adapted in order to incorporate new evidence? Should it remain static in spite of the new evidence? What would be the point of that? Far from being a weakness, the ability to adapt and incorporate new evidence is the strongest aspect of science in my opinion. The colours are simply ways of referring to start and end points. In the Lenski experiment, black would be the initial population, white would be the finish, with everything in between. We can only apply such an analogy retrospectively, when we know both where we started, and where we finished. Finished, that is, in the sense of a stopping point for the classification. Evolution never stops.
  7. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    That throws up an issue. If someone is to deny that transitional fossils cannot be found it's a bit of a stretch to complain that the fossil record is extremely large and thus finding such fossils is easy. It's one or the other really. Consider it this way. We have a mechanism, observable in real time, that can bring changes to the genome. We can observe the extent to which structural change can occur without a speciation event. Think dogs, a doberman and a chiwawa are capable of gene transfer, ergo we can surmise that such morphological differences can arise in any species. We have a large number of fossils (close to a billion at last count IIRC) that, when arranged in chronological order (determined by various methods that I'd rather not go into since it will prompt another long discussion), suggest a gradual progression of change throughout history. The above can be done. Indeed, the fact that the above can be done is the reason why I posted the challenge of A-B-C regarding fossils. Though not possible in all circumstances (there are doubtless gaps), in a large proportion of cases the "B" fossil is closer to A or C than are many breeds of dogs to one another. That fact alone would actually be enough to convince me of the truth of evolution, but to be honest I actually consider the fossil record superfluous to requirements given genetic evidence. How about this for an analogy. You doubless have family and good friends who you see regularly. Day to day you don't really note any changes, but over time the changes build up so that when you see a photograph from, say, 10 years ago, you note a large difference in their appearance. What would happen if I showed you one photo of myself when I was a baby, and another of me now? Would you be able to conclude it was me? Doubtful. What if I showed you a photo of myself when I was a baby, another when I was 10, another when I was 20 and another now (I'm 29). All me? Possibly, but still not certain. How about if I showed you a photo of me from every 6 month period since I was born. Pretty easy now to see that it's me, despite changes in appearance at every step. The question is, how many fossils do I need to provide before it becomes plain to all that the sequence from the first to last actually works? Again, the challenge I set earlier seeks to expose this. If I can't find a fossil B, between A and C, that is not so dissimilar so as not to be transitional, then it's not far fetched at all to consider a relationship, one of ancestor/decedent. If I can find such a B, Consider B to be the new C and part of the challenge is now to find a new "B" between A and the old B. The gaps get ever smaller. If we had huge levels of randomness I'd agree. However we don't. The human genome consists of a couple of billion base pairs (nucleotide bases). The "average" human acquired 100-150 mutations. The majority of novel mutations will go extinct in due course, but some will go to fixation. The random element is so small, when considering the whole population, that evolution is actually a far smoother process than the black-white gradient. The analogy does fail, but not for the reason specified. The analogy fails because the black to white gradient has an end goal and only one degree of freedom. Evolution has an almost infinite number of degrees of freedom and no end goal. The black-white analogy only holds after the fact. Ie, we see where we got to and figure out how we got there. Yes They can consider it to be just that, but since I and anyone else versed in biology could give you a huge list of ways to falsify evolution it's a claim without base. The sad thing is that the ways most creationists attempt to falsify evolution are not falsification points, Ray Comfort and his famous crocoduck, for example. How do you define both black and white in this instance? Black is where you started, white is where you end up, the shades of gray are the bits in between. ##edit: Changed million for billion
  8. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    Actually thats a pretty good way of thinking about punctuated equilibrium, but I'd like to expand a bit. Genetic diversity arises fastest at times when selection pressures are minimised. If there are no selection pressures to steer a population towards a given trait then diversity is free to arise. If a new selection pressure arises, the population will be steered quickly towards a new niche since many individuals will be ill equipped to survive and thus less able to reproduce. The times of fastest transition are the periods where selection pressures are maximised after a period of them being minimised, since they can operate on a more diverse population. Regarding the fossil evidence, half the issue is getting people to agree on what a transitional fossil is. I've posted a challenge before, and I'll post it again. Find any 3 fossils in the record that are proposed to be consecutive, 1 ancestral to 2 ancestral to 3 (ignoring for the moment that that isn't quite how it works). Now, taking the two outliers (fossils 1 and 3) explain what would be required for a fossil between the two to class as transitional. Finally, show that fossil 2 does not meet those criteria. If no transitional fossils exist that should be a trivial task to perform. Every time I've had someone attempt this they have provided instances that are not even closely related. One person even asked me for a single transition between early tetrapods and humans. I think me and you can get along. Are you familiar with colour gradients? Something like this http://www.tutorialguide.net/images/adobe_...op/0044/001.jpg Ok, so, imagine dividing that image up into 1000 horizontal lines and stepping from one to the next sequentially, starting from black and ending at white. At no point would you ever observe a huge change in colour, but after 1000 steps what was black is now white. If you made the leap in one jump you'd observe a huge change. The same is true of evolution. Consider the top to be, say, an early tetrapod and the end to be something like a dog. Rather than 1000 steps, we're talking about millions of incremental changes. Each individual change is small. Anything other than a small change is actually predicted against by evolutionary theory. You only notice large scale change when you look at stages where a large number of changes have been compiled. That's what I was getting at with my earlier example of a continuous fossil record. One thing to note, a dog giving birth to a non-dog (or something so mis-shapen that it is not considered a dog) is not evolution. For starters anything a dog gives birth to is a dog (to illustrate that, consider a human baby. Could a human baby be so malformed that you would not consider it human? I hope not). The deformation would simply be a mutation, and a particuarly nasty one, one which is extremely unlikely to spread through the population. Evolution happens to populations, which requires that genes can propogate. The rate of evolution is restricted by population size and generation time, before we consider selection pressures. The larger the population and the longer the generation time, the longer evolutionary change takes. To form any kind of notable change to morphology it should be clear how vast the time scales required need to be. I'd go back to my previous example, find 3 consecutive fossils and then assess them as I said. That's exactly what happens, it just doesn't happen the way most creationists demand of evolution (an erroneous demand). You should note that speciation isn't actually a requirement to generate differences beyond having 2 distinct species. If two populations are incapable of breeding they will continue to diversify, it's impossible for it to be otherwise. The more speciation events, the greater the number of different species, but two populations kept isolated for millions of years in differing environments would still result in huge changes. Without a time machine it's simply not possible. Think how long it takes for a single gene to become fixed in a population. A good place to start might be this article, though it's heavy on the maths. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P...f/ge1462723.pdf It explains the probability of a gene going to fixation within a population (with certain constraints applied). If you want to observe evolution in real time you need something that reproduces much faster, which is why many experiments are performed on bacteria. Lenski's ecoli experiments are a favoured source of reference for a couple of reasons, in particular for the large amount of time they were carried out for (several decades). Hope thats of some help.
  9. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    Wahoo! And I mean that sincerely. Far from being "obviously not true", that is in fact exactly what we are saying. I'd be the first to admit that this sounds strange, so let me expand it it somewhat. In general usage we classify organisms on their current state: we're both humans, your dog is a dog etc and so on and so forth. We also apply the same kind of classification historically, we take a snapshot (for creatures that lived millions of years ago via one or more fossils) and we give them names. We classify them based on morphology into discreet units, be those units species, genera, families or orders etc. Now, bear with me, this is a hypothetical example but I hope my purpose for using it will become clear. Lets propose, for the sake of this discussion, that every fossil ever found was from the same lineage, and that each was found 20 million years apart, with a total of 20 fossils. In other words, we have 400 years worth of fossils, with each descended from the other. We would catagorise each fossil as belonging to a different species, 20 million years being a long enough period that in most cases sufficient change accumulates to warrant the definition of species being applied. With me so far? Now, suppose that we discover 20 new fossils, each of which fits exactly into the gaps between the fossils we found already. Now we have 40 fossils, each with 10 million year gaps. We can likely still classify each as a different species since they would have evolved sufficiently to merit it. Now think about repeating this process, over and over and over, adding in new fossils. First we have 5 million year gaps, then 2.5 million. Keep going, until you get to the point where you have one fossil for every individual (ie, every single individual in an unbroken line was preserved). And now comes the hard point. Where do you draw the line? At what point does one species become another? In this case it would be impossible to identify any species. At the one end you'd have a fish of some description (actually 400m years ago probably not even a fish), and at the other end you'd have some extant creature, say a human. You could look at the line of fossils and see a clear progression, no individual showing a noticable difference to the one before, but the accumulated changes adding up to form the huge difference from start to finish. So, back to the issue of classification. Because we don't have continuous data we only have snapshots in time. For ease of reference it makes sense to classify those animals, to give them names and assign them into groups. The lobe finned fish, amphibious tetrapods etc. By strict application it is correct to refer to humans as belonging to the clade lobe finned fish. The reason we don't is that it serves no practical purpose. Colloquially we refer to fish as extant creatures that we all consider to be fish, but by strict definition if you're descended from a fish, you're still a fish. This position tends to cause an element of disbelief, because people make the erroneous link between extant fish which we are extremely distantly related to, and the fish that would be our direct ancestors. A reasonable analogy would be something along the lines of human ancestry. It's often said that a ridiculously high proportion of Europeans are descended from William the conquerer. It serves no purpose in the modern day to refer to ourselves that way and so generally we don't. You wouldn't refer to a relative separated by 15-20 generations as being family. You mentioned reptiles and it's worth going over the definition of reptile. The reptiles are not actually on our lineage. If we go back far enough you find the amniotes, which branch into two clades. The synapsids and the saurapsids. Mammals are within the synapsids, reptiles (in the modern sense) are within the saurapsids. Both are part of the tetrapod lineage. So, in summary, by strict classification you're still a fish. It's a quirk of the nature of classification, because we apply snapshots, enabled by the fragmentary nature of the evidence of history. Possibly an easier to understand version would be to refer to birds as dinosaurs. If I mention dinosaurs nobody will immediately think of birds, but by taxonomic classification birds are dinosaurs (thoropod dinosaurs as it happens). I'd recommend reading the book "your inner fish" for a much more rounded presentation than anything I said here. Theres a particularly good video on youtube on this, lemme see if I can find it Aha, found it
  10. Squawk

    The Rules Of The Game

    No argument from me that families fall out over many things. However, atheism cannot be prescriptive, religious affiliation can. There are many other prescriptive ideologies of course, the first that springs to mind is politics, but it's not a fair comparison to equate religion with atheism. One could equate critical thought and religion and argue that both are prescriptive to some extent, both having a philosophical component, forming part of a world view.
  11. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    That is basically what I just said. You have not provided a rebut to it, you simply reworded it. And, you have supplied absolutely NO evidence for it. I stated it as I did because you showed a profound misunderstanding with the phrase "Not one type dog (etc…) adapting to its surroundings, and yet remaining a dog", and you continue to make the same mistake in your latest post. The implication of that phrase is that you would not consider evolution to have occurred unless the daughter species were not still a dog. My example was simply to explain to you that regardless of how many speciation events occur in any dog lineage from this point forward, every daughter species will still be a dog, in the same way that they will always be a mammal. Continuing to insist that this is not the case is arguing against a straw man. You're more than welcome to do so, but I don't know what it would achieve other than to convince others with a similar misunderstanding of evolutionary theory that you have a point. You don't. I'd suggest this applies far more to anything you have said thus far than to anything I have said. But feel free to challenge me, show me how a human being is exempt from the definition of mammal, primate, ape or Eukaryote. Once again displaying ignorance of basic evolutionary theory. Any descendent of any salamander will always be classified as a salamander. If you insist evolutionary theory says anything else you are arguing against a straw man of evolutionary theory. Macro-evolution is simply change at or above the species level, and since it applies perfectly to ring species, extant salamanders right now, your point is trivial to refute.
  12. Squawk

    A Challenge To Evolutionists.

    No, speciation would be on lineage branching into two. Ie, two daughter species from a single parent species. Classification of the daughter species necessarily means they are still given the same designation as the parent. Humans are still apes are still primates are still mammals are still Eukaryotes. If you want a real world example look no further than ring species of salamander, highlighted elsewhere on this forum by me and probably by others. Species is the only rigorously defined taxonomic level, and even then it is constrained. It would be defined as a population through which gene transfer can occur. Genus, family, order etc are all arbitrarily applied for ease of classification, but all stem from speciation events. Ie. Take a given lizard and apply a speciation event. You know have two species of lizard. Allow the process to repeat a couple of times in each lineage and you now have 8 species, neatly grouped together as a genus. Allow another 4 or 5 speciation events in each lineage and the group that was previously referred to as a genus is now an order or family. The original 4 (or maybe 8) subspecies would now be referred to as separate genera. This method of classification is often misunderstood and is a cause of much confusion. For some reason people continue to insist that the formation of new phyla or genera requires something other than a speciation event. It doesn't, it just requires that that speciation event was followed by numerous further speciation events making it reasonable for us to choose to classify the organisms into distinct groups.
  13. Squawk

    Hey All

    Was this a slight or don't you think there is such things as life or intelligence? Moreover, what is evolution then? 68455[/snapback] A slight? No slight intended, matter is simply energy manifested differently. Life would be matter and energy arranged in a particular configuration. Intelligence is an emergent property of life. Evolution (biological evolution) is properly defined as descent with inherent modification in a reproducing population. Modification can be in one of several forms of mutation. We're basically seeing a re-arrangement of energy and matter. It's a reductionist viewpoint of course, far too simplistic for an overall view, but thats what it is.
  14. Squawk

    Hey All

    Matter and energy are all that exist in the Universe, neatly linked by Einsteins equation of E=mc^2. I don't know how you get from there to the statement about a mechanism of evolution. Of course it matters. The origin of life would be fantastic to know, and is a discovery I await with great anticipation. But I don't need to know it in order to discuss evolutionary theory, in the same way that I have no need to understand the big bang in order to discuss evolutionary theory. Interesting question. If you define an algorithm as a set of rules that determine the behaviour of a system then the laws of nature (not our approximations of them) are all "self written", as it were. You can of course postulate a deity as the writer, but you then struggle with issues of infinite regression. Gene fixation would be a good example of something that can be neatly expressed mathematically based on the fitness of an organism carrying the gene, population size and reproduction rates. Inheritance implies a past, it does not require an agent of creation. The salamanders are, along the north atlantic gulls, arguably the best way to introduce someone to the idea of speciation. Think of it like this. Lets say that in your house you have a set of stairs, 10 steps in total. On each step lives a population of salamanders. The salamanders on the bottom step can breed with those on step 2. Those on step 2 can breed with those on step 3, those on step 3 can breed with those on step 4 etc until those on step 9 can breed with those on step 10. That meets the definition of a speices (A population through which gene transfer can occur). But here is the thing. The population on step 1 can't interbreed with the population on step 10. The slight differences between each step add up to make them reproductively incompatible. So, what happens if I come along and stamp to death all salamanders on steps 2-9? 2 new species. This isn't just hypothetical, it exists, they are called ring species, and the situation arises around a particular canyon that the salamanders don't cross. It's a great example of how genetic diversity arises through physical separation. Onto Shannon, and I've never seen anyone using Shannon in that fashion. Shannon usually arises when people confuse Shannon information with Kolmogorov information and insist that mutation cannot add "new information" to a genome, or insist that information is always lost. If you want to see randomly generated information, go look at grains of sand on a beach or go look at some dog poo. Anyway, my bed is calling, so I shall bid you adieu
  15. Squawk

    The Rules Of The Game

    I would, but I don't think it makes sense. For starters I never discuss proof, since proof implies certainty which can never be delivered. I addressed this subject at length in the thread on burden of proof, noting that each of us has a standard of evidential support that we require before we accept a given proposition. It happens that evolution has exceeded that threshold for me, and so I accept it. I note that in pretty much every case the only reason people reject evolution is through either ignorance of the theory, or through religion. The only atheist I can think of who rejects evolution is Berlinski, but as I mentioned elsewhere I think he might have no admitted Christian leanings. Quite, the joys of spin. What you are saying is that he has a preconceived idea of the truth and will not let evidence stand in the way. The scientist, on the other hand, will change his ideas based on the evidence presented. I agree with you whole heartedly here, it's just that you seem to take this as a positive position for Henry Morris to take, I see it as a negative. How can the idea of ignoring evidence for a preconceived notion lead to anything other than error? His motive is simply devotion to his chosen dogma. Evidence itself is not neutral, it points to a conclusion. The question is, can the person assessing the evidence do so without inflicting his own bias? As you have just stated, Mr Morris is incapable of doing so, he has already predetermined his truth and must ignore the evidence that contradicts it. You asked me a simple question. I answered it. You could acknowledge the fact that many religious institutions work to persecute and exclude a member who becomes atheist and that an atheist really does have something to fear from announcing it to the world. Noting that you bear me no ill will due to my atheism is inconsequential. I bear you no ill will either, and that is just as inconsequential. What matters is that you asked me if people are scared to announce their atheism, and the simple answer is yes. In some countries you can be killed for doing so. Overgeneralisations? Not scientific? Your both avoiding my answer and attempt to project the lack of an answer onto me. You asked me a simple question. You stated "no one is afraid of saying they are an atheist, are they?". Yes, they are. Any Muslim in a predominantly muslim country, any Jehovas Witness. I never mentioned how or when I did it, so this analogy is not apt. Would you advocate lying for the rest of my life? What would that achieve? My relationship with my mother is perfectly fine. She wouldn't give a monkeys how I labelled myself, she would care if I believed in God or not. I value honesty with my family above pretty much everything. First be honest with yourself, then be honest with your family. Do you think it's a good or bad thing that disbelief in a deity can potentially separate a family? What does that say about religion?

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