Some Definitions

Religion: a system of man's belief in and reverence for a supernatural power that has created and governs the universe.

God: a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, immortal, omnipresent being that is thought to have created the universe and now rules it.

Theism: belief in god(s).

Atheism: absence of belief in god(s).

Weak atheism: skepticism of the existence of god(s).

Strong atheism: denial of the existence of god(s).

Agnosticism: the denial that it is possible to know the existence of god(s). Note that this is not the acceptance nor the rejection of the existence of god(s).

Humanism: generally speaking, the human-centric belief that people have the ability to determine for themselves truth and falsehood (possibly within the framework of Christian belief). See What is Humanism? by Frederick Edwords.

Rationalism: the belief that the use of reason instead of empiricism, authority, or faith, should be the only basis for forming beliefs.

Materialism: the belief that nothing supernatural exists.

Freethought: the practice of forming opinions based on reason, without reference to authority, tradition, or unverified beliefs.

Apologetics: the branch of theology dealing with the defense and proof of Christianity.

Theory of Accommodation: the belief that the teachings of Jesus are more suited to the time and place of first century Palestine than to today.

Truth: the degree to which something conforms to knowledge, fact, actuality, or logic.

Reality: that which exists objectively and in fact, determined via the natural senses or indirectly through the proper use of reason.

Fact: something about the world that has been confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent. (One is not always 100% percent sure, but this is the real world.)

Theory: a collection of assumptions, widely accepted principles, and procedures used to analyze, predict, or explain something known or observed.

A theory is a metascientific elaboration, distinct form the results of observation but consistent with them. By means of it a series of independent data and facts can be realted and interpreted in a unified explanation. A theory's validity depends on whether or not it can be verified; it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitaitons and unsuitability. It mustthen be rethought. (Pope John Paul II, October 22, 1996, To the Pontifical Academy of Sciences)
Law: a scientific statement of the recurrence, order relationship, or interaction of observed natural phenomena.

Evolution (biology): (1) "any chance in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next" (Helena Curtis and Sue Barnes Biology 5th ed. 1989 Worth Publishers, p. 974). (2) a process that results in heritable changes in a population, spread over many generations.

Allele: different versions of the same gene at the same locus (location). For example, humans can have the A, B, or O allele at the blood group locus.

Creationism: the belief that all manner of life and matter are the result of distinct acts of creation by the Christian God, as told in Genesis.

Young Earth Creationism: Creationism in which the interpretation of Genesis is that the days are 24 hours long, and are without gaps of time between them.

Old Earth Creationism: Creationism in which the days of Genesis are interpreted to be figurative periods in time.

Theistic Evolution: the belief that God created the universe for the reasons as given in Genesis, but that the exact method should not be taken from Genesis. Instead one is to believe that God created life that evolved into the forms we see today.

Common Descent: the theory that all living creatures on earth share a common ancestor.

Entropy (thermodynamics): a measure of the capacity of a system to undergo spontaneous change. For example, a glass of water in which the fluid is not level has a lower entropy than one in which the fluid is level.

2nd Law of Thermodynamics: the entropy of any closed system always increases.

Born-again: Christians who claim to have had a personal experience with Christ. (About 39 percent of the population.)

Evangelical: A Christian who recognizes both a need for a personal experience with God as well as the religious authority of Scripture and an obligation to share one's faith with others.

Fundamentalist: Like Evangelical Christians, with the additional (often insistent) belief that the Bible is literally inerrant.

Pentecostal: Christians for which theology is secondary to an encounter with the Holy Spirit, often in an ecstatic style of worship.

Charismatic: People who practice a Pentecostal form of worship but remain in Catholic or Protestant Churches.

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