Conservapedia:Philip J. Rayment/Wikipedia
Philip's Wikipedia "User Page":
I was born and raised in [[Victoria (Australia)]] (apart from a short while as a very young child in [[Tasmania]]) by [[Christian]] parents. I gave my life to God before my teens, and have attended a number of [[evangelical]] [[Protestant]] churches. (I currently attend a [[Baptist]] church.)
I am married but have no children.
My interests include [[rail transport|railways]], [[computer]]s, and Christian apologetics, primarily the [[creation vs. evolution debate|creation/evolution debate]].
I am an occasional volunteer on the [[Puffing Billy Railway, Melbourne|Puffing Billy Railway]], and I am actively involved as a volunteer with the Melbourne Support Group of [[Creation Ministries International]], Australia's, and one of the world's, leading [[creationism|creationist]] organisation.
One of my concerns is the biased use that sceptics make of terms. Just as Christians often use "spiritual language" that may be obscure to non-Christians (e.g. salvation, redemption, repentance, eschatology), sceptics use words that have a meaning to them that is not used by others. However, whilst Christians often make an effort to avoid "spiritual language" when talking to non-Christians (albeit with limited success at times), sceptics appear to expect others to accept their terminology as correct and non-negotiable.
Words frequently have multiple meanings. Although one word can sometimes have two or more totally unrelated meanings (such as lead, which can be both a metal and the opposite of follow), normally these meanings are related in some way. Thus computer was something generally that computed, but a derived (and now more common) meaning is an electronic programmable device. Another category is metaphorical meanings. An example is day, which means a single rotation of the earth, but metaphorically also means a period of time. Literal meanings come before metaphorical meanings; that is, metaphorical meanings are derived from literal meanings, not the other way around. The normal manner of distinguishing which meaning is intended is from the context. Thus there is no confusion about the meanings of the word "day" in the following sentence, that actually uses it in three different ways: "In my grandfather's day, it took six days to travel across the country, travelling only during the day".
Religion can mean (this is not intended to be exhaustive):
- A set of beliefs on which one bases one's life
- Belief in a deity or deities (e.g. Christianity is a religion)
- A particular set of rituals (e.g. He is practising his religion)
- A particular broad set of beliefs (e.g. Which religion are you? Christian, Muslim, or Hindu?)
- A particular narrower set of beliefs (e.g. Which religion are you? Methodist, Baptist, or Catholic?)
I never use No. 5, preferring to use denomination for that (My religion is Christian, my current denomination is Baptist)
No. 2 is, in my opinion, an arbitrary subset of No. 1. People believe in multiples gods (polytheism), everything-is-god (pantheism), one god (monotheism) or no god (atheism). Pantheism and atheism don't fit into definition No. 2, yet to consider them somehow "different" is arbitrary and self-serving (see more below). Thus I use definition No. 1 in preference to No. 2, and argue that atheism (and related views such as secular humanism) are religions, every bit as much as Christianity is. The difference is simply how many gods one believes in.
Both Christianity and atheism (along with others beliefs) are (a) beliefs, and (b) worldviews. I have a worldview that presumes God. An atheist has a worldview that presumes no god. The claim of many atheists that their worldview is somehow superior simply because it presumes no god is self-serving nonsense, and the term "religion" is frequently used in this way, i.e. to misleadingly imply a qualitative distinction between atheistic and theistic worldviews.
Objection: Your use is an invented one
- Not at all. I didn't make up this use of the word; it is also used that way by many others, and that use is found in dictionaries.
Objection: It is not fair to use a term of atheists that they don't use of themselves
- If the term is accurate and appropriate, why not? There are many instances of people not using particular terms of themselves, but where it is still an accurate and appropriate term to use. And if that objection were to be allowed, then people ought to stop using the term religion of Christians, because many Christians don't use the term of themselves (probably because they are Protestants who have in mind definition No. 3).
Belief is assent to an idea. Thus I believe that the world is round*, that gravity exists, and that God created the world as described in the Bible.
However, the word often has connotations of accepting an idea ''without evidence'', or without good reason. Thus I have come across [[#"evolutionist"|evolutionists]] who object to being described as ''believing'' in evolution. I (generally) do not use the word "belief" this way; if I say that someone "believes in evolution", I mean that they agree with the idea; that is what they think occurred/occurs. I will continue to use the word in that context because I don't know of another way of putting it that is not wordy or awkward.
*—To answer an objection that was actually raised to this on my talk page, I'm not claiming that the world is perfectly spherical; I'm merely stating that I understand it to be round rather than flat, as does something like 99.99% of the world's population.
Two meanings of Evolution (from a dictionary) are as follows:
- Any process of formation or growth; development
- Biol. the continuous genetic adaptation of organisms or species to the environment by the integrating agencies of selection, hybridisation, inbreeding, and mutation.
It should be clear that the first meaning is not limited to life, and we can thus (and do) talk of, for example, the evolution of stars or the evolution of cars.
However, going beyond those dictionary definitions, creationists point out that biological evolution can be subdivided according to the mechanisms involved. Many people use the terms macroevolution and microevolution to distinguish these categories, although leading creationists these days discourage the use of those terms. The distinctions are:
- A sorting or loss of genetic information results in modified characteristics of living things. Thus fish living in unlit caves might lose some of the genetic information for making eyes, leading to a variety of eyeless (or at least sightless) fish.
- A gain of genetic information adds new capabilities to living things. Thus some dinosaurs gained the genetic information for wings and feathers and became birds (over a long time and in small steps, of course).
Evolutionists generally don't make the distinction between the two, and thus usually end up offering evidence of the first and then consider that the second has been demonstrated. They also accuse creationists of making up a distinction that doesn't exist (and of coining the terms "microevolution" and "macroevolution", but this is wrong; see here). But whilst it may be true that creationists highlight the distinction and evolutionists don't, it is also clear that there is a distinction. Losing and adding genetic information are two different things.
Creationists deny that the second (the gain in genetic information) occurs, and deny that it has been observed. Unfortunately many lay creationists fail to make the distinction when discussing the topic, but similarly many evolutionists (and not just lay evolutionists) fail to appreciate the distinction when responding to creationists. Thus they (a) offer evidence for a loss of genetic information when challenged on the lack of evidence for a gain, and (b) misrepresent creationists as rejecting all evolution when they in fact only reject the second category (although it is true that creationists do reject the use of the term "evolution" for the second category).
I was surprised to find that many people who [[#"belief"|believe]] in evolution object to being described as '''evolutionists'''. As far as I am concerned, that is an accurate and appropriate use of the word. That is, an evolutionist is simply someone that agrees with the idea of evolution. Again, as for "belief", I will continue to use the word because I don't know of another way of putting it that is not wordy or awkward.
A fundamentalist was originally one who accepted the fundamental truths of the Bible. Since the coinage of the term in the early 20th century, however, the semantic range of the word has expanded to include other meanings:
- One who strongly believes the basic teachings of any religion
- A literalist
- A legalist
- An extremist, sometimes with connotations of a terrorist.
In fact the original meaning of the word almost seems to be lost these days.
I, along with many other Christians, object to being called a "fundamentalist" on the grounds that the word has meanings and connotations that we disagree with. I have no objection to being described as a fundamentalist if it is clear that the original meaning is intended, but this is hardly ever the case.
Also, I have frequently seen creationists described as fundamentalists simply because they are creationists. That is, the word is used as if creationists are fundamentalists by definition. In this case, there is no merit in saying "creationists are fundamentalists who...". It is both redundant, and, given the connotations that the word carries, little more than an attempt to caricature and abuse creationists.
Consistent with this, Wikipedia's own NPOV policy cautions against using the term inappropriately.
My parents raised me to believe that the [[Bible]] could be logically and rationally defended from sceptical criticism. This was mainly in the area of [[archaeology]], but later I learnt of the overwhelming evidence consistent with the Bible's records of creation and the [[Noah's Ark|flood]], and related events. Without this evidence, I likely would have still believed in creation and the flood, but I would never have dared debate the matter with sceptics. Armed with the evidence, however, I have considerable confidence that the Biblical record is rationally defensible.
Creation Ministries International
I have found Creation Ministries International (formerly Answers in Genesis) to be an organisation of great integrity and enormous passion. I therefore have no hesitation in recommending their materials to others.
I find it quite annoying and frustrating that there are so many sceptics that argue vehemently against the Biblical record of creation and the flood, yet are so grossly ignorant of the idea that they argue so strongly against. Yet they often have the gall to call a creationist ignorant because the creationist supposedly doesn't understand evolution!
As a creationist living in a secular country, I get uniformitarian and evolutionary ideas thrown at me every day, whether that be via the education system, television, the Internet, newspapers, general magazines, or science magazines and journals. Being a creationist, I also read lots of books, magazines, and Internet articles supporting creation, watch videos and DVDs, and hear speakers on the topic of creation. Thus I learn about the debate from both sides.
Evolutionists, on the other hand, generally get to see and read very little creationary material, so most evolutionists (there are exceptions of course) do not have a balanced education on the topic. Probably 99% of their knowledge on the debate is from the evolutionary side, including what little knowledge they have of the creationary case. This is understandable, but what is not understandable is how they then make out they know enough about creation to be able to reject it!
The following are some aspects of the creation model that many anti-creationists get wrong. I have not attempted to substantiate them (they can put in the effort for that themselves) but in the future I may at least provide links to where they can learn more.
- Noah's flood did not cover Everest and similar high mountains
- Noah's flood did not last 40 days and 40 nights
- The water of Noah's flood did not come solely from rain
- Creationists (as a whole) do not reject plate tectonics
- Creationists do not reject science
- Creationists do not reject natural selection
- Creationists do not reject speciation
- Creationary scientists do hold real qualifications in all areas of science (i.e. including biology and geology)
- Creationists do not deny that there are beneficial mutations.
Whilst I find Wikipedia very useful in many respects, it is severely biased when it comes to Christianity and creation in particular. Despite the NPOV policy, many editors seem unable to accept a neutral point of view when discussing creation, and the enforcement is totally inadequate.
I spent a great deal of time editing articles to do with creation, only to find that anticreationists would butcher them. In one particular case, I listed some beliefs of creationists, carefully wording it to make it clear that they were creationists beliefs, not something accepted by all, and referenced the information to on-line sources. An anticreationist deleted my edits and replaced them with his own views on what creationists believe, without reference sources. This was just one small portion of the butchering. I attempted mediation, but no mediator offered themselves, so no mediation occurred. The anticreationist continued unchecked. He subsequently successfully put the article up for deletion. Some people who voted for deletion openly admitted that they did so on the ground that they considered creation nonsense, not on the merits of the article itself. The fact that they felt free to do so speaks volumes. No moderator bothered enforcing the rules, and the improper negative votes of the anticreationists were counted along with all other votes. See here.
Meanwhile, an anonymous creationist editor found himself in an edit war, and was prevented from editing articles by them being locked. How were his opponents able to get action, and I wasn't? One of his opponents was a sysop! See [[Project:Requests_for_comment/220.127.116.11|here]]
I came to realise that editing creation articles was a waste of time, as there are more anticreationists trying to undermine creation than there are people willing to write such articles from a neutral point of view, and totally inadequate moderation to control the situation.
Consequently, I have no intention of returning to edit such articles until and unless I learn that the situation has improved markedly.
Update January 2007: I did actually venture back into this arena recently, deciding to confine myself to one article (Noah's Ark) that looked like it had some sensible editors. No sooner had I done so, and two other editors arrived, pushing their POV, using strawman arguments, etc. It took too much time, and when the discussion about the validity of the Ark and Flood were moved to an archive page, I took the opportunity to take my leave.
In connection with my posts on [[talk:railway signalling]]<, here is my relevant background: For my job, I was required to qualify in a safeworking system of my choice, in the then [[Victorian Railways|VR]]. I learnt Staff and Ticket, which also required me to know Two Position Signalling. However, my position did not require me to maintain proficiency in it, although I needed to be familiar with the basics of all the safeworking systems in use in [[Melbourne]]. I am also an enthusiast, and work as a safeworking-qualified volunteer on the [[Puffing Billy Railway, Melbourne|Puffing Billy Railway]] (working as a guard (US:conductor) and signalman), for which I qualified in what is now the standard Staff and Ticket system for tourist railways in Victoria (a system based on the VR one). Required reading for this course was [[L. T. C. Rolt]]'s ''Red for Danger'', about the history of railway accidents and development of signalling.