Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And the Stupid just goes on and on...

The religious man has no trouble believing the ridiculous and only wonders why he's so much better at it than everybody else is. This he takes as a sign from God.
-Saint Brian the Godless

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What is it with Christianity's seeming determination to dumb down the world... Now apparently 'Darwinism' is a 'devilish Gnostic plot.' Who knew?

What the heck is WRONG with these messianic mouthbreathers? I seriously doubt that the glorification of utter stupidity would have been something that pleased Jesus. But hey, who knows...

Here, read it and weep... weep if you give a damn about human intelligence and progress. Weep if you care at all about logic and reason. Weep if you love science. Because I am weeping. The highly contagious mental disease of Christianity is neutering our minds one by one with it's creeping pernicious ignorance, and we sit by and let it happen. If it has its way, we'll be a country of drooling idiots in a half-century, sitting around in our own feces singing hosannas.

(If I sound bitter, I am)

The article:

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Darwinism: devilish Gnostic myth dressed up as science

By Linda Kimball
September 24, 2010

(Renewamerica.com)

Today all people whose faith in God the Father is genuine face a seemingly insurmountable problem with what seems like an overwhelming weight of evidence that evolutionism is true and the Genesis account of creation is false. Mockers and scoffers abound, scornfully accusing the faithful of believing in "an invisible being in the sky and that a dead guy from 2000 years ago is coming back soon...instead of believing in reality," as one scofflaw said recently.

However, the real issue here is not "superstitious, backward Christianity" vs. "enlightened reason and science," but about one creation account (Genesis) vs. another creation account (Darwinian evolution). The truth of this claim can be seen in the following quotes:

"...one belief that all true original Darwinians held in common, and that was their rejection of creationism, their rejection of special creation. This was the flag around which they assembled and under which they marched.... The conviction that the diversity of the natural world was the result of natural processes and not the work of God was the idea that brought all the so-called Darwinians together in spite of their disagreements on other of Darwin's theories. (One Long Argument,1991, p. 99, Ernst Mayr (1904–2005), Professor of Zoology at Harvard University)

"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." ("Billions and Billions of Demons," Richard Lewontin (b. 1929), PhD Zoology, Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at Harvard University)

In other words, terrible-willed evolutionists have a Cosmic Authority problem, and this is why they rally around Darwinism and force its absurd, counterintuitive teachings upon gullible, misinformed Americans while simultaneously ridiculing and otherwise psychologically terrorizing creationists, among whose numbers are many of the defenders of America's founding traditions.

Commenting on the Cosmic Authority problem of many atheists, Thomas Nagel, professor of philosophy and law at New York University, confesses:

"I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind." (The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith, Peter Hitchens, pp. 149-150)

Just what is Darwinism anyway?

At bottom, Darwinism is a Gnostic myth, notes Dr. Wolfgang Smith, physicist and mathematics professor at Oregon State University:

"...As a scientific theory, Darwinism would have been jettisoned long ago. The point, however, is that the doctrine of evolution has swept the world, not on the strength of its scientific merits, but precisely in its capacity as a Gnostic myth. It affirms, in effect, that living things created themselves, which is in essence a metaphysical claim....Thus...evolutionism is a metaphysical doctrine decked out in scientific garb....it is a scientistic myth. And the myth is Gnostic, because it implicitly denies the transcendent origin of being; for indeed, only after the living creature has been speculatively reduced to an aggregate of particles does Darwinist transformism become conceivable. Darwinism, therefore, continues the ancient Gnostic practice of deprecating 'God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.' It perpetuates...the venerable Gnostic tradition of 'Jehovah bashing.'" (From Old Gnosticism to New Age I, Alan Morrison, SCP Journal Vol. 28:4-29:1, 2005, pp. 30-31)

Gnostics

Historically, Gnostics have always been notorious God-haters to the extent of consigning Him to hell. The early Church Fathers called them the "lawless ones," as they were idolizers of their own minds, rebels against all authority, immoralists, hedonists, and builders of alternative realities (utopian fantasies) requiring the death of God, for the heart of Gnosticism is "man is god."

While the infamous Tower of Babel was history's first Gnostic project, the Soviet Union and Socialist Germany are modern versions. In his book "Science, Politics, & Gnosticism," esteemed political philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901-85) identifies progressivism, positivism, Hegelianism, Marxism, and the "God is dead" school as modern Gnostic movements. All of these movements are firmly grounded on the Gnostic myth of Darwinism.

In their rage against God the Father, modern Gnostics refuse to be created in His spiritual image, thus they conceptually "uncreate" themselves through reductionism, which in the words of Wolfgang Smith, means that they speculatively reduce themselves to "aggregates of particles." Reductionism is a tenet of the philosophy of materialism.

Materialist philosophy is neither new nor scientific, but one of the most ancient superstitious beliefs in the world. The ancient version held that matter has always existed and everything that exists consists of matter. According to the modern version, invisible dead-matter spontaneously generated itself from nothing, and then by way of evolution magically produced everything else. To believe this is to believe that the nothingness within the magician's hat spontaneously generated the bunny.

If evolutionism was a gas-powered generator, then spontaneous generation would be its indispensable fuel, admits Ernst Haeckel, pantheist mystic and ardent defender of Darwinism. In the following quote, observe that Haeckel confesses that spontaneous generation is not scientific but rather metaphysical. Furthermore, this metaphysical doctrine is the essential replacement for creation Ex Nihilo — the miracle of creation in other words:

"...spontaneous generation appears to us as a simple and necessary event in the process of the development of the earth. We admit that this process, as long as it is not directly observed or repeated by experiment, remains a pure hypothesis. But I must again say that this hypothesis is indispensable for the consistent completion of the non-miraculous history of creation, that it has absolutely nothing forced or miraculous about it, and that certainly it can never be positively refuted. It must also be taken into consideration that the process of spontaneous generation, even if it still took place daily and hourly, would in any case be exceedingly difficult to observe and establish with absolute certainty as such. This is also the opinion of Naegeli, the ingenious investigator, and he, in his admirable chapter on Spontaneous Generation, maintains that "to deny spontaneous generation is to proclaim miracles." (The History of Creation v.1, 1892, p. 422)

Ray Comfort quotes evolutionist Stephen Hawking, who in essence affirms that "the nothingness within the magician's hat spontaneously generated the bunny:"

"According to professor Stephen Hawking, God didn't create the universe. Instead, nothing created everything. However, Hawking has violated the basic laws of science. In an extract of his latest book, The Grand Design...published in Eureka magazine in The Times, the professor said: 'Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.'"

"It is embarrassingly unscientific to speak of anything creating itself from nothing," remarked Comfort. "Common sense says that if something possessed the ability to create itself from nothing, then that something wasn't nothing, it was something — a very intelligent creative power of some sort. "

Comfort concludes:

"Hawking has violated the unspoken rules of atheism. He isn't supposed to use words like 'create' or even 'made.' They necessitate a Creator and a Maker. Neither are you supposed to let out that the essence of atheism is to believe that nothing created everything, because it's unthinking." (Hawking Breaks Atheists Rules, Comfort, www.worldviewweekend.com)

So as it turns out, spontaneous generation is yet another "just-so" story. However, the importance of this particular fairytale is that it is the irreplaceable metaphysical foundation of the larger Gnostic myth of Darwinism. Without spontaneous generation, Darwinism...indeed all evolutionism...falls apart, leaving only the miraculous creation Ex Nihilo.

Furthermore, the respected scientist Louis Pasteur definitively disproved spontaneous generation just three years after Darwin published his book "On the Origin of Species:"

"... Darwin's celebrated tome On the Origin of Species, which had been published just three years before Pasteur's experiments, sought to discredit the need for God to create the species by showing how one species can transmute into another. But Darwin's account left open the problem of how the first living thing came to exist. Unless life had always existed, at least one species — the first — cannot have come to exist by transmutation from another species, only by transmutation from nonliving matter. Darwin himself wrote, some years later: 'I have met with no evidence that seems in the least trustworthy, in favour of so-called Spontaneous Generation.' Yet, in the absence of a miracle, life could have originated only by some sort of spontaneous generation. Darwin's theory of evolution and Pasteur's theory that only life begets life cannot both have been completely right." (The Fifth Miracle, 1999, p. 83, Paul Davies (b. 1946), Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science)

The Darwinian Deception

Colin Patterson writes that after studying evolutionary theory for many years, he finally "woke up and realized that all my life I had been duped into taking evolutionism as revealed truth in some way." Patterson goes on to say:

"One of the reasons I started taking this anti-evolutionary view, or let's call it a non- evolutionary view, was last year I had a sudden realization for over twenty years I had thought I was working on evolution in some way. One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That's quite a shock to learn that one can be so misled so long. Either there was something wrong with me or there was something wrong with evolutionary theory. Naturally, I know there is nothing wrong with me, so for the last few weeks I've tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people....Question is: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, 'I do know one thing — it ought not to be taught in high school.'"

"Evolutionism and Creationism" November 5, 1981, p. 2, Colin Patterson (1933–1998), Senior Paleontologist at British Museum of Natural History

When C.S. Lewis pointedly observed that the entire edifice of the so-called "science" of Darwinian naturalism has but one purpose, to keep the supernatural Creator out, he was merely confirming admissions made by Lewontin and many other Darwinists. In sum, Darwinism is a deception perpetrated by self-worshipping swindlers who have been "pulling the wool" over the eyes of the uninitiated masses, to use Lewontins' own words. (The Oxford Socratic Club, 1944)

Deceptions Have Consequences

Long before Darwinian Gnostics systematically liquidated in excess of 200,000,000 men, women, and children on behalf of communist and socialist utopian fantasies, George Romanes sought to warn the world of the coming catastrophe:

"Never in the history of man has so terrific a calamity befallen the race as that which all who look may now behold advancing as a deluge, black with destruction, resistless in might, uprooting our most cherished hopes, engulfing our most precious creed, and burying our highest life in mindless desolation.... The flood-gates of infidelity are open, and Atheism overwhelming is upon us." (George Romanes, A Candid Examination of Theism,1878)

More recently, H. Enock wrote:

"No wonder that Brig. General F.D. Frost stated in the Fundamentalist, January, 1950, p. 21: 'There is no doubt about it that the doctrine of evolution is the greatest curse in our educational system.' Whether we read Ward's Dynamic Sociology, or Russell's Code of Morals, or Briffalt's Immoralism or some other book written by the Behaviorist School, — they all seem to endeavour to justify and base their conclusions on the bestial nature of man. This philosophy seeks to.... reduce man to the level of animal nature. The surging unrest, the broken homes, the frustrated lives, the increasing divorce cases, the multiplied number of criminals are but the inevitable outcome of the acceptance and practice of this evolutionary doctrine." (H. Enock, Evolution or Creation,1966, pp. 1146-1147)

Evolutionism "should not be taught in high school." Indeed. Gnosticism is the spiritual disorder of our age and Darwinism and spontaneous generation are its toxic roots. Conceptual murderer of God the Father, inverter of reality, hater of humanity, uplifter of Satan as the first "free thinker," destroyer of truth and all that is good, normal, and decent; bringer of chaos, blasphemy, hedonism, pathological lying, genocide and other evils too many to be listed, Gnosticism has all but destroyed America and the West.

In his book, "The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith," Peter Hitchens, brother of the infamous atheist Christopher writes:

"...the Bible angers and frustrates those who believe that the pursuit of a perfect society justifies the quest for absolute power. The concepts of sin, of conscience, of eternal life, and of divine justice under an unalterable law are the ultimate defense against the utopian's belief that ends justify means and that morality is relative. These concepts are safeguards against the worship of human power." (Rage Against God, p. 135)

The Western civilized nations rose to greatness on the wings of just one spiritual faith ...Christianity. Unalienable rights come from the transcendent Creator and not from weak, easily corrupted men. Through abandonment of its spiritual roots, the West — which today is a Gnostic-West — is moving inexorably toward its death.

America is the West's last best hope, observed Mark Steyn. Yet America is itself pathologically infected by Gnosticism and near death. Gnosticism must be destroyed. To do this we must tear it out by the roots. This means Darwinism must be uprooted and exposed for what it really is: a Gnostic myth.

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Nooooo Linda, this means that your little pet cult of *Christianity* itself must be uprooted and exposed for what *it* is: A *dangerous* and highly contagious intentionally induced mental disease that produces narcissistic self-satisfied entitled morons like Linda Kimball here, with her pathetic delusions of superiority and intelligence, and no sense of what is real and what is not real left in her silly fluffy little Christian head. Her mind has been neutered by her religion, which is after all nothing more than institutionalized paranoid schizophrenia for the masses dressed up as a spiritual path, nothing more than a control mechanism, a mental computer virus constructed to conquor minds. People like her are completely and utterly disconnected from reality, and all they want is for the rest of us to follow suit ASAP. Now 'Darwinism' (evolution?) is a 'devilish Gnostic myth!' A who? Gnostics? You Christians haven't stopped fighting the Gnostics? I would have thought killing them all off would have satisfied you murderous bastards, but apparently not. A Gnostic myth. Really? What's next? The Big Bang Theory is a Cathar plot? Oh, those rascally Cathars...

How very fucking stupid.

I find this paragraph particularly telling:
"In other words, terrible-willed evolutionists have a Cosmic Authority problem, and this is why they rally around Darwinism and force its absurd, counterintuitive teachings upon gullible, misinformed Americans while simultaneously ridiculing and otherwise psychologically terrorizing creationists..."

Simply reverse the terms, replace 'evolutionists' with 'creationists' and vice-versa, and 'Darwinism' with 'Christianity,' and you have the actual truth of the matter. The creationists perceive (force themselves to perceive) reality precisely backwards and in reverse, because if they ever did not, if they ever saw reality as it actually is, then it would be revealed to them that it is actually their corrupt, stunted ideology which is backwards and reversed.

534 comments:

  1. Wow, that's stunning. But they cited Ray Comfort as an authority so I don't know how serious* you can take it.

    *that's not to say they are 100% serious.

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  2. "It is embarrassingly unscientific to speak of anything creating itself from nothing," remarked Comfort. "Common sense says..."

    Common sense? Whose? An undereducated moron's, apparently...

    Yes Ryan, and I don't take it seriously, for that Comfort quote and for many other reasons...
    However, I'm not the target audience, am I?

    And as to them, wanna bet how seriously they take it? It has 'famous quotes' from 'scientists' and other 'famous people' like Mr. Comfort, and thus has the apparent veneer of respectability, more or less... it's sciency-sounding enough to fool the mouthbreathers, and that's all that is required here.
    This is not aimed at the rational. It's aimed at the already-converted, to reinforce the conditioning. Nothing more. It gives them something to cling to in the face of inescapable logic. Not anything REAL of course, but they don't require that. Fantasy is good enough for those who live in one.

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  3. Brian "However, I'm not the target audience, am I?"

    I can't imagine. But you (we) are supposed to be.

    I'm of the opinion that all apologetics is just another way to fleece the flock via book sales.

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  4. I can't imagine. But you (we) are supposed to be.
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    Not seeing that. I seriously doubt that any serious atheist would be converted by this drivel. No, to me it seems crafted to appeal to those who are already believers but are having some trouble rebutting the inexorable pressure from science as regards evolution. They have no good answers, so articles like this one give them answers that, while not actually valid, are good enough to fool them into believing that they are. And that's all that is needed. They see everything, including science, heck, including all reality, as a belief and not a fact. Heck, to them, facts are merely commonly-held beliefs. So one belief is good enough to counter another one, in their little pea brains. It's not necessary to actually FIND facts that counter evolution's argument; no, all that is necessary is to make some up that seem to.

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  5. Here's something related that is interesting to me. I mean, I already knew it, but it's nice to see it made official...

    Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says

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  6. Brian: "However, I'm not the target audience, am I?"

    Ryan: "I can't imagine. But you (we) are supposed to be."

    I think Ryan was pointing out the article's author presumed that all atheists are of the 'petulant, rebelling against God variety; the ones who are supposed to have no rational basis for not believing in fairy tales.

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  7. And by the way, what in tarnation is a 'terrible-willed evolutionist?'

    On what mental wavelength are these people operating on? I mean, they are apparently living in a completely separate and different reality.
    'Terrible-Willed.' What the hell does that even mean? We 'evolutionists' have terrible wills, as in, we will terrible things to happen or something? WTF? Or is it just a stilted way to call us monsters and demonic?


    What an awkward, stupid-sounding way to put it. And so fearful... they're scared shitless of us 'terrible-willed evolutionist' people. So they see us as agents of satan or something. Very black-and-white worldview. You're with us or you're evil, period.

    How simple and scared does a human have to be in order to actually say this shit and believe it?
    They're basically frightened, really stupid and paranoid children. Who vote.

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  8. I think Ryan was pointing out the article's author presumed that all atheists are of the 'petulant, rebelling against God variety; the ones who are supposed to have no rational basis for not believing in fairy tales.
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    Oh. Well, that makes sense then, doesn't it?

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  9. Yeah, I meant scripturally we are supposed to be the target audience.

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  10. Yah... We are the target audience in the sense that we are the 'ADVERSARY.' They don't want to convert us; their goal is total demonization.

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  11. Which is why I say they're not talking to us. They're talking ABOUT us. To themselves. Rallying the 'faithful christian soldiers' to their current war (since they always must have one,) the war against the evil atheistic hoardes who are trying to destroy them.
    (By informing them that they are wrong)

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  12. Off topic, I loved A'nold's speech! It is impossible to believe that he is Republican. These oil company execs are likely wondering what the hell is going on.

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  13. Off topic, I loved A'nold's speech! It is impossible to believe that he is Republican.
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    TOTALLY AGREE with you here! A nice surprise, to be sure. A republican telling the truth... wow.

    Ya know, if you've ever read ah'nold's life story, he came to the US and happened one day to be listening to a political speech and asked a friend who was making it. The friend replied that it was a democrat, and explained about our political parties. Ah'nold apparently immediately came to the conclusion that the democrat speech sounded a lot like NAZIsm to him, and he knew nazism firsthand, so he decided right then and there that he was a republican.
    To my mind, he bought into the surface appearance and didn't look deeply enough, and only now is starting to realize that his chosen side is the REAL hidden 'nazi party' in this country, and is just really good at making the other people look like the bad guys...

    On a side note, it's also nice to see the fucking TERMINATOR siding with the good guys. That role was written for him. A robot. Perfect. It uses all his acting range.

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  14. Y'know, Aahnold's wife is John F. Kennedy's niece.

    Maybe there's some Democratic influence there...

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  15. (I'm sure it sounded like nazism because nazism intentionally adopted the rhetoric of socialism as a smokescreen. 'For the good of the people' etc... Hitler intentionally packaged himself as both a socialist (seen generally as a good thing) and as a christian catholic (also generally seen as a good thing) so as to hide his real agenda of global domination, a decidedly non-socialist concept.

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  16. Y'know, Aahnold's wife is John F. Kennedy's niece.

    Maybe there's some Democratic influence there...
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    Ya know, there has to be. I mean, would any good democrat, much less a frigging *Kennedy,* ever consider sleeping with a typical republican today? No way... so if he ever even wanted to be one of those assholes and ditch the middle class, he'd also have to re-aquaint himself with Mary Palm and her five sisters...

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  17. Ste B, I can only respond to this visually A post just for you ;)

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  18. I think many people are under the assumption that atheist are not spirit lead. If there is one thing I have learned on this blog, atheist are spirit lead. It is my observation that atheist are lead by the spirit of the truth, at least equal to any others.

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  20. The classic misunderstanding. Something I've been harping about and will continue to do so.

    Perhaps, and hopefully, creationists, and Darwinist bulldog idiots like Richard Dawkins will realize evolution is not a competing theory.

    Evolution itself is just like any other scientific theory. If someone thinks that Darwinism en toto has remained relevant so much so that evolutionary theory has not progressed by all means enlighten me.

    Yes, in fact let's forget the term evolution, how about natural explanations of origins. The trick is, it's still, STILL not a narrative, never has been, never will be.

    Scientists are people. They want to speculate. But their job is not to create a narrative. If they think it is, they need to get the fuck out of public discourse. Do they have "moron" compatriots with IQs of 180 and the ability to draw conclusions caught up in delusion? Sure they do.

    But the more narrative building AS narrative building e.g. Sagan and Dawkins will do nothing but science qua science a disservice in the culture wars.

    Do I say not do it? Hell no. Do it, just don't think you're doing anything besides telling a more convincing story. And a more convincing story my friends is not what public discourse needs.

    Stories are for campfires, whether real ones or not. Pragmatism is for day to day existence whether anyone likes it or not.

    The mullahs and the Pat Robertsons can take their supernatural fascism and shove it up their ass. Dawkins and his ilk can take his natural unphilosophical Darwin worshipping neo-narrative and shove it up his British arse too.

    I loved your post Brian don't get me wrong (except for quoting Haeckel as an authority, that guy was corrupt), but we have to stop supporting this secondary narrative crap. And I think we do it because they come at it first, which should tell you how wrong we are by using their own damn tactics. So, we come from aliens and the like, AND use reason. Threading together a story uses a creative reason not reason itself.

    Walk into any Natural History Museum, go ahead I double dog dare ya, and they'll be quoting the scientific NARRATIVE from forty years ago.

    Creationists aren't stupid, meaning being deluded doesn't necessarily make you stupid, they will pick up on that, and they'll spit it back in our faces. IMHO rightfully so.

    Look at it this way. If I desire someone to at least consider the story of Genesis to be wrong am I going to tell them another story, this time about giant lizards? Maybe. But I highly doubt they're going to get someplace besides "Dragons!...and death to Dragons!" Then a father or two will be like "Yes son/daughter and you know what God says will happen to the dragon?"

    Scientists can ignore the narrative without ignoring its adherents. We can't play their game, otherwise we'll lose their precious minds (and I mean that). We have to take away their rules.

    I think, and I'm not the only atheist who believes this, I know how it can be done.

    -Sorry for all the cursing recently-

    Fuck their game, fuck their stupid ass story. Scientific facts, won't get them, a secondary narrative sure as fuck won't get them. Reason will. You laugh, but it depends on where you start.

    It doesn't start with, 'There's no God, capitalism blows!' That's ineffectual rhetorical bullshit.

    It starts with context, and kids, reason begins there. Once they learn to make natural correlations, their own brain will know what's speculation and what's not... and hopefully they will also know there's nothing wrong with speculation, just that it has its place.

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  21. Harry; I love me a rant, but are you saying there should be no science journalism?

    What do you mean by narrative?

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  22. Re: what Harry said...

    I agree, for the most part. Offering a 'different story' just lets the theists drag non-believers into an arena of their own choosing.

    An example of this in microcosm (Ryan will remember this) was when I challenged Marcus (I didn't actually challene him directly; he just happened to be the only one who responded) to prove there is anything actual behind the concept of "divine".

    I also mentioned this a few times on DD's old blog in discussions with various people, saying things like (loosely quoted) "...letting the theists drag you into semantic details of interpretation lets THEM control the discussion."

    So, as Harry says, we're not likely to argue any Christians into giving up their religion in favor of informed agnosticism (or whatever).

    We, as atheists need to set a better example, and do it publicly. It won't happen overnight, but the more there are, the more Christians will see that their behavior needs some serious adjusting.

    We're pioneers, but results will likely take generations.

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  23. I had a conversation on the World Chat on Evony.(yes, I'm still playing that)

    Started off, "Damned taxes."

    I responded, "But you want your firemen, policemen, army, right?"

    He came back with "Islamic terrorist threat!"

    I countered with, "If Iran develops a nuke, we should counter with a threat to nuke the Dome of the Rock and Mecca!"

    Suddenly I was an 'atheist', not from having tipped my hand, but for the very idea of doing such a radical thing to prevent WWIII couched in terms of a Holy War.

    No Holy sites, end of World cults(specifically the Abrahamic religions) stymied at least until the radioactivity settles.

    Bowing to a radioactive wasteland, pointless. Building a new Temple, not gonna happen.

    I stuck to my guns, hammering home the point that without these physical anchors for the two opposing factions to bicker over, mostly Dome of the Rock vs. new Temple site, they'd actually have little to fight about.

    Seems that this guy would rather have the sites and the 'good' reason for Global War than lose his precious Holy sites.

    "Lots of people would be pissed off at us if we did that, you see."

    Seems we'd rather nuke everyone than have that.

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  24. I can see your point Harry and I tend to disagree. There is nothing one can say to a radical theist that is going to change their mind or slowly turn them into reasonable people.

    Why shouldn't there be an equivalent radical side to atheism?

    It's so easy to say, "Hey I agree in principle, I just don't agree with your style!"

    Christians have been doing that to their radicals since it became obvious that science deals with facts and no amount of apologizing will change scientific facts.

    Without radical 'leaders', atheism seems to sulk in the shadows exactly where the radical theists want them to sulk, with only one voice being heard to shout above the crowd.

    Make no mistake, the fight is not for one set of radicals to 'win', radicals never say 'die', the fight is for the hearts and minds of the masses.

    Now at one point the secular masses, being pragmatic, went along with religion on Sunday, and practical matters during the week. WE WON!

    Not so my friends. The radical theists cannot and will not rest until they've convinced us that 'normal' is abhoring abortion to the point that women don't control their own bodies by law.

    This is simply a 're-establishment' of God's Way as far as these guys are concerned.

    They will not rest until homosexuality is shoved far back into the closet where it came from('cos they put it there), hopefully hidden forever from their homo-prone children or at least hidden from themselves.

    They will not rest until they are the champions of charity, doling out alms, sammiches to the poor, the old and the sick in an effort to convert them.

    Government programs neuters the 'carrot' which religion is more than willing to provide, albeit in tiny quantities compared to government programs. Of course the government's agenda is to raise the standard of living, which stymies the Christian agenda, which is to have to poor and sick owe THEM, to have the poor get work through Christian organization/networking and the sick get well through Christian organizations etc.

    They see schools as tools for Christianizing children, not as institutions preparing children for higher learning.

    No, radical theism cannot go unopposed, they'll take your kids if you let them.

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  25. Guys like Eric are waiting in the wings for anyone to say that God is illogical and/or unreasonable.

    But it's all built on such things as 'true moral facts'. Basically word games which would still be true, if there were some sentence so 'true' that we couldn't deny it, if there's a God or if there isn't, RIGHT?

    They are just trying to talk GOD into existence and since they believe anyways it's so very easy for them to do it.

    I'm sure Eric regards philosophy as theistic philosophy which, if he gets into it with an atheist, he feels he has already won.

    Some atheists are inclined to say that we have logic and reason on our side, but Eric is 'here' to tell us that he can wield reason and logic just as competently as some and even moreso than most.

    I believe his perspective is, "If I lose, I'm to blame, if I tie, God wins and if I win, 'in your face' atheists!"

    But I think that no matter how well Eric debates, he cannot actually talk God into existence.

    Seems to me that the meaning of words themselves come under scrutiny to keep up with Eric's vague notions, even what sense 'existence' itself is meant.

    Things 'beginning to exist' and 'existing outside the universe' etc. are simply word play, imagination, and thinking like this opens the door for the less sophicated to deny the validity of observation, data collection etc., in short science.

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  26. "Guys like Eric are waiting in the wings for anyone to say that God is illogical and/or unreasonable."

    Well, I'm not "waiting in the wings"; rather, when people say that "God is unreasonable/irrational" I want to know what reasons they have for saying so. Why? Because if it is unreasonable/irrational, *I want to know*, since I don't want to hold irrational beliefs. Make sense?

    "They are just trying to talk GOD into existence and since they believe anyways it's so very easy for them to do it."

    But I went from not believing to believing largely on the basis of those arguments, so that doesn't apply to me. Not only didn't I believe; I didn't want to believe. And there are plenty of theists like me. Sure, many theists are as you have described them, but there are a ton of atheists who don't want to believe, and who find it easy to persuade themselves that god doesn't exist on the basis of *horrible* arguments. And, yes, there are plenty of atheists who have thought their way to atheism from belief, kicking and screaming all the way as they slowly let go of their faith.

    "I'm sure Eric regards philosophy as theistic philosophy which, if he gets into it with an atheist, he feels he has already won."

    Um, no. Philosophy is not inherently theistic or atheistic. Now, the question of god's existence is primarily a philosophical question, and, unfortunately, far too many atheists have a very poor understanding of philosophy, so they tend not to come across as having thought very seriously about the issues when the question of god's existence is discussed. But that only says something about those particular atheists; it says nothing about philosophy itself.

    "But I think that no matter how well Eric debates, he cannot actually talk God into existence."

    You're absolutely right, of course, and I never claimed otherwise.

    "Seems to me that the meaning of words themselves come under scrutiny to keep up with Eric's vague notions, even what sense 'existence' itself is meant."

    Well of course they do, Floyd. But that's a condition of clear thinking in general, you know; it has nothing to do with "my way" of discussing these issues.

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  27. I understand the need to attack evolutionary theory from a theological perspective (I don't agree with it obviously). Evolution and religion really can't coexist, I think. Accommodationists try hard to make them fit but they don't. Evolution creates a very compelling and detailed road map of creation that completely destroys the notion of humanity occupying a special place - or even that we are the pinnacle of creation.

    Evolution is the most complete multidisciplinary scientific construct we have. Break it in people's minds and all of science is a house of cards.

    Possibly most disconcerting is that evolution shows where we came from - and where we are headed.

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  28. "Some atheists are inclined to say that we have logic and reason on our side, but Eric is 'here' to tell us that he can wield reason and logic just as competently as some and even moreso than most."

    Unlike those atheists who think they "have reason and logic on their side," I've always said that atheism is a rationally tenable position (and agnosticism is even better), but that in my opinion, as I've studied the arguments on both sides, the theistic arguments are the stronger arguments. Some honest, intelligent and informed people draw the opposite conclusion. When atheists reach their conclusions as I've reached mine -- i.e. largely through reason -- we can discuss the issues that divide us. But just as you can't, as a thoughtful atheist, have a meaningful discussion about religious belief with a theist who doesn't care about what the other side has to say about his beliefs, the thoughtful theist can't expect to have a meaningful discussion with an atheist who doesn't care about what the other side has to say about *his* beliefs.

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  29. "Evolution and religion really can't coexist, I think."

    I disagree. Evolution and and certain understandings of some religious accounts of "creation" cannot coexist, but "religion" and evolution can certainly coexist. Even Daniel Dennett doesn't deny this (see his debate with Alvin Plantinga; it's widely available on the web). As Dennett points out, evolution is perfectly compatible with any number of sets of religious beliefs; his objection was that it's also perfectly compatible with "superman-ism" and the like; that is, the mere fact that evolution is compatible with such and such a belief says nothing about how seriously we should take the belief. I agree with him, on both counts. But the important point here is that evolution and religious belief are *perfectly* compatible.

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  31. Eric said,

    "...I've always said that atheism is a rationally tenable position (and agnosticism is even better), but that in my opinion, as I've studied the arguments on both sides, the theistic arguments are the stronger arguments."

    That's because you're a student of philosophy.

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  32. "That's because you're a student of philosophy."

    Winning a debate doesn't mean you're 'right'; it just means you argue better than the next guy.

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  33. "That's because you're a student of philosophy."

    What in the world does that mean? Most 'students of philosophy' disagree with me. If you want to take an atheist or an agnostic and turn him into a theist, one of the worst approaches would be to enroll him in a philosophy program at a good secular university.

    "Winning a debate doesn't mean you're 'right'; it just means you argue better than the next guy."

    No kidding; who ever said anything to the contrary?

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  34. Eric; you honestly believe that theistic arguments are better than agnostic arguments. You didn't quite say that, but one could read your comment that way.

    I can't see how ANY argument that requires presuppositions beats agnosticism.

    Plus, I definitely remember you arguing that atheism is NOT rationally tenable, something about it reducing to agnosticism.

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  35. Plus, I might be wrong, but I think most "atheists" are agnostics who are are simply atheistic about any particular religion.

    I notice you've been calling yourself a "theist" a lot. Have you rejected Christ?

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  36. "Eric; you honestly believe that theistic arguments are better than agnostic arguments. You didn't quite say that, but one could read your comment that way."

    I certainly do believe that.

    "I can't see how ANY argument that requires presuppositions beats agnosticism."

    Every argument, for every conclusion, requires presuppositions. Are you an agnostic about everything then?

    "Plus, I definitely remember you arguing that atheism is NOT rationally tenable, something about it reducing to agnosticism."

    I don't recall saying anything like that. I have argued that certain definitions of atheism are not tenable, e.g. atheism is merely a lack of belief in god. But I don't think I've ever said anything that even implied that all atheism reduces to agnosticism. I take atheism to be the belief that god(s) does not exist, so I can't see how I could ever argue that that reduces to agnosticism.

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  37. Yeah, you were arguing that hard atheism reducing to soft atheism which reduces to agnosticism.

    I don't have the will to find it though, so if you claim you didnt. You didnt.

    Eric "Are you an agnostic about everything then?"

    You'd be suprised.

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  38. "Yeah, you were arguing that hard atheism reducing to soft atheism which reduces to agnosticism."

    Hard atheism is the belief that there is no god...how could that reduce to the lack of belief in god, and then to the claim that knowledge about god's existence is lacking? I've never made such an argument. As I said, I have argued that the attempt to define atheism as such as "the lack of belief in god" reduces to absurdities but I've never said that strong atheism reduces to agnosticism!

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  39. "Your going to make me find it, huh?"

    I would like to see what you're referring to! ;) Let me put it this way: If I ever argued that hard atheism reduces to agnosticism, I was dead wrong. But I don't think I ever argued such a thing.

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  40. "Reduce" might not be the proper term.

    I'll find it dammit! Assuming it wasn't on DD's blog.

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  41. "Assuming it wasn't on DD's blog."

    If it's on DD's old blog, then I didn't say it -- Renzo did. Blame him. ;)

    BTW, did you hear about D'souza's new job?

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  42. D'Souza's a whore...

    Ryan, if you can remember anything about Eric's claim, I might be able to help...

    I still have all of DD's old aol blogs from "An Absentee God" through the first part of "Obama and the Reagan Doctrine" (which I already sent you).

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  43. "I'm quite happy to acknowledge my Catholic background; at the same time, I'm very comfortable with Reformation theology," D'Souza told Christianity Today. "I'm comfortable with the evangelical world. In a sense, I'm part of it."
    -Dinesh D'sleazebag
    -------------------
    He most certainly is a whore.

    Of course he is 'comfortable with the evangelical world...'
    That's where the money is. Because it has the highest number of fools per capita to separate therefrom...

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  44. "Now, the question of god's existence is primarily a philosophical question.."

    I don't think so. I don't think that there is any 'question' here. There are no gods, not even one.

    It's just as simple as that.

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  45. "I don't think that there is any 'question' here. There are no gods, not even one."

    Well, that is itself an answer to the question, "Are there any gods?"

    Answer: "There are no gods, not even one."

    Now what kind of question is it? Well, since god is not a natural being in the natural world, such that if you catalogued everything in the natural world, 'god' would be included in the catalog, and since science studies only the natural world, it follows that the question of god's existence is not a scientific question. But is it a philosophical question? Well, again, god is, if he exists, a necessary being, the ultimate ground of all being, the source of all moral values and moral obligations, and so on. Now these attributes obviously touch on philosophical issues -- issues in metaphysics, meta-ethics, etc. -- so it appears that the question of god's existence is at least in part a philosophical question. Aside from all this, we can appeal to how the question of god's existence has been treated historically, and anyone who has even glanced at the history of philosophy can see that the it's been treated over and over again as a philosophical question, and not as a scientific one. So, an analysis of the question itself, and a look at how the question has been approached historically by some of the best and brightest, suggests that god's existence is not only a question, but a philosophical question, one to which, as with all philosophical questions, the data of science can contribute, but also one to which science, by its very nature, can never provide an answer.

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  46. OK, so no luck, but I just realized maybe I should be searching on "Strong"/"weak" instead of "hard"/"soft". Hold please...

    As for your last comment, I think before you can even talk about God you have to show that 1) there is such a thing as beyond nature and if you do that, then 2) you need to show that you can identify and aquire knowledge of what is beyond nature.

    Assuming such a "realm" exists, there's no indication that philosophy or science or faith could even figure out the first thing about it.

    Until you can do that, you really can't speculate about god at all.

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  47. Eric said..."god's existence is not only a question, but a philosophical question, one to which, as with all philosophical questions, the data of science can contribute, but also one to which science, by its very nature, can never provide an answer."

    October 1, 2010 6:37 AM

    This statement is quite obviously both logical and correct. But, it seems to me, it begs the question. If the "question" is "does God exist?" neither science nor philosophy can ever provide an answer. Science may be able to slowly narrow the gaps between what we know and what we may someday know about any such question. Philsophy, it seems to me, can only keep questioning with no real conclusions, only further questions. A conclusion would, perforce, end the questioning, which I cannot imagine ever coming to pass, unless God(s) choose to reveal themselves in some scientifically verifiable manner. Since all of this "philosophy" boils down to "I choose to believe, even without evidence", one might define atheism as "I choose not to believe without some evidence". Eric's suggestion that we have historically behaved as if God exists and that this somehow "strengthens" his belief is, of course, irrelevant.

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  48. Eric said,

    "...Aside from all this, we can appeal to how the question of god's existence has been treated historically, and anyone who has even glanced at the history of philosophy can see that the it's been treated over and over again as a philosophical question, and not as a scientific one..."

    The question CANNOT (as you said) be treated as a scientific one, for there is nothing one might measure or investigate.

    "...Well, again, god is, if he exists, a necessary being..."

    Biggest word in the "Philosophical Dictionary":

    IF.

    Philosophers and apologists have been grinding on that one for millenia, and still haven't settled the issue...

    ...and probably never will.

    The best course of action is to embrace the life you have as the ONLY one that you have, and to follow the golden rule in dealing with others.

    Hard to go wrong there.

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  49. Can science prove the absence of gods to a certainty level sufficient to discount such things? I believe so. Philosophy allows for ever smaller places for gods to hide (including magical plains of existence that are created in such a way as to be unknowable) and creates apologies for why they might be so coy.

    Science looks in nooks and crannies and once it determines that some theoretical component contributes nothing to the equations or mechanisms required to explain reality, it is discarded. As we peel back the layers we are finding the messages of creation writ large - but they are natural clues not ones that point to gods.

    That's why evolution is feared - it shows a clear path to existence without direction save natural forces.

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  50. It seems to me that the theist can't accept "we just don't know with 100% certainty" as a valid answer.

    Why is it not OK to not know? I believe not knowing is clearly better than believing some silly, ancient, fairy tale.

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  51. Eric, you could replace "Science studies only the natural world" with "Science studies only what is real". You might be more accurate. You'll certainly be less duplicious.

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  52. "I don't think that there is any 'question' here. There are no gods, not even one."

    Well, that is itself an answer to the question, "Are there any gods?"

    Answer: "There are no gods, not even one."
    ..........................

    What I said wasn't a question, you just posed it in terms of an answer question.

    =========================

    "Well, since god is not a natural being in the natural world, such that if you catalogued everything in the natural world, 'god' would be included in the catalog, and since science studies only the natural world, it follows that the question of god's existence is not a scientific question."

    Here you are making rules, allowing you to define 'god', albeit as vaguely as possible.

    You say, "..god is not a natural being.."

    A few simple words which open the door to the super-natural.

    Yes, historically people HAVE conjured hidden or out of reach realms for their gods to dwell in, usually the sky. In this sense, 'natural' is Earthly and supernatural is 'above Earthly'.

    The Biblical stories are no different. It's no accident that God 'lives' in the Heavens. Seems to me that you are appealling to this same 'hokey superstition' idea of God in Heaven(the sky) to get your footing, then you're more than willing to say that they got it wrong, that the universe 'out there' ISN'T in fact the abode of the gods, that there is no 'natural' abode of the gods.

    In other words, the sky may be above the Earth, but it isn't supernatural, it's natural enough.

    For you to appeal to the historicity of religious belief as a premise for defining GOD while at the same time disagreeing, along with us, that the universe(the sky) is a supernatural place, is disingenuous and simply word play.

    Their definition of natural(Earthly) is different from YOUR definiton of natural because YOU include the sky(the rest of the universe) as a natural phenomenon.

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  53. And please don't start quibbling about what may or may not be classed as 'natural' or 'supernatural' in this universe, Eric.

    If you're thinking of classing the Universe as a supernatural place because you say God did it or because you say God made it, then natural and supernatural have no distinction at all, except maybe to 'throw out there' as a basis for your belief.

    This would simply be yet another word-play distraction.

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  54. So is this your 'philosophy' then Eric? One or two very shakey premises, which you practically pull straight out of your ass, turned into a 'perfectly logical' syllogism, explaining that it is a given that the supernatural exists?

    Well, there are no supernatural realms, not even one.(unless we're talking realms that we conjure in our minds, which are not called 'imaginary' for nothing)

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  55. I would really love for Eric to explain why it's rational to presuppose anything "supernatural" exists.

    It's the foundation for his entire belief system. But I don't see how it's rational.

    I suspect this is where his "moral truths" tie in, but that seems like putting the cart before the horse.

    PS: I could only find a hint of that previous conversation on page 5 of "Why did god lie to us" (April 19, 2010 8:34 PM).

    I remember there being a more indepth conversation, but can't find it.

    And I remembered your position backwards. So much for the reliability of memory... Imagine how wrong I would have been if I was trying to remember say 30 years after the fact...

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  56. Anyways, if we were to give theists some kind of benefit of the doubt, and imagine that there is a Supreme Author who is trying to guide us through our lives as painlessly as possible before accepting us back into HIS Eternal arms.

    Okay, we can take a look at what the human condition in general is and how Christians(only 'cos you are one Eric) are affecting it.

    It is fuckin' atrocious! If you aren't simply avoiding reality completely, it is absolutely atrocious BECAUSE OF Christians.

    The Pope tells his flock to make matters worse by NOT protecting themselves from STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

    Is there some laboratory at the Vatican working on some anti-hormone shot, where the boys and girls would be disinterested in sex? No. Somehow it is kid's 'choice' to have raging hormones right at the time when they're likely to rebel against their parents advice.

    The parents are just as bad, imagining that the world is some kind of super-natural place where the roads pave themselves, street-lights are miracles, God HIMSELF pays for police, mail, armed forces and all the government officials from dog-catcher to President of the United States to try to keep some kind of law and order.

    Christians rebel against the very society which maintains them and which they claim as their own, rebelling against the very science which gives them comfortable lives, prefering to yearn for some imaginary realm while making as much fuss about this 'realm' as possible, seemingly wanting to turn it into some 'dog-eat-dog' fight that they are determined they will WIN.

    It becomes impossible to believe that these people think any further than, "I'm alright Jack!", and consider other Christians an, "I'm alright Jack!" club.

    But if these are supposedly the people who are being 'guided by the Holy Spirit', I'm inclined to admit that there is no more doubt, there is no God manifesting Himself to anyone in any way.

    Aren't you?

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  57. And now I'm getting this feeling that Eric is going to come out with the old, "Well, I don't do any of those things you mentioned.", as if somehow this excludes the evidence of how millions of Christians ACT from the 'court before us'.

    This is the same as pretending that Christians through the ages HAVEN'T believed that outer space is actually the far out realm where God may be found because right now at this moment in our discussion, "Eric said no such thing!"

    God has a tendency to 'come down' from Heaven and 'look down' from Heaven. Jesus went 'up to' Heaven, believers believe that they're going 'up to' Heaven and not 'down to Hell'. God has a tendency to rain his curses from the sky etc. etc.

    All swept aside with Eric's 'new meaning' of 'outside the universe' because we KNOW that we are IN space, orbiting the Sun and NOT in a natural Earthy place which is separate FROM the supernatural sky. By which I just mean that the Earth is part of the Universe and our perspective of the Earth being separate is just that, a perspective.

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  58. You know, it just occurred to me...

    We need to have good working definitions of a couple of terms before we go on.

    "supernatural", for one.

    I suspect that Eric would say that 'supernatural' and 'metaphysical' are distinct terms with different meanings.

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  59. "I suspect that Eric would say that 'supernatural' and 'metaphysical' are distinct terms with different meanings."

    Of course they are. Metaphysics comprises many perfectly natural phenomena: studies of the nature of causality, or of relations, or of dispositions; essentially, it's the study of being in the broadest sense possible. So, a scientist might ask if A causes B, and under what conditions, and so on, but a metaphysician will ask, What is a cause? Now metaphysics can involve thinking about the supernatural (e.g. god) or about the non-natural (e.g. Platonic ideas, or abstract objects like numbers), but it need not. Now the key here is that metaphysics is a branch of philosophy, so it studies 'being in the broadest sense' with philosophical methods, e.g. conceptual analysis, the rigorous development of the logical implications of empirical premises, etc.

    Anyway, what is the supernatural? It would be whatever exists beyond or above nature (as the term implies). There may in fact, and unbeknownst to us, be nothing that's supernatural, but we can still define it and try to think through the logical implications of concept itself. Unfortunately, science can say nothing about the existence of the supernatural; at best, science can say, "This particular phenomenon can be explained scientifically." Note the careful phrasing there: All science can tell us is whether science can provide a model of some phenomenon that works in some sense (usually, in the sense of making accurate predictions). It cannot tell us anything about the "real" nature of the phenomenon itself, as Hawking argues in his latest book, and as he argued in A Brief History of Time. Now not all scientists take the anti-realist/positivist position Hawking takes, but that's not the point: the point is that the scientific results don't determine whether any particular scientist is a realist, or an anti-realist, or anything else, for those are philosophical positions that are tacked onto the science *without* being either physically or logically entailed by it. This is a huge point, and I hope anyone who has never yet heard of it takes the time to understand it, for it will help clear up so many misconceptions about the relationship between philosophy/science/knowledge of the real world.

    "God has a tendency to 'come down' from Heaven and 'look down' from Heaven. Jesus went 'up to' Heaven, believers believe that they're going 'up to' Heaven and not 'down to Hell'. God has a tendency to rain his curses from the sky etc. etc.

    "All swept aside with Eric's 'new meaning' of 'outside the universe' because we KNOW that we are IN space, orbiting the Sun and NOT in a natural Earthy place which is separate FROM the supernatural sky."

    Floyd, this is really simple: Did much of what Christians in the past -- and everyone else -- believed about the nature of the universe turn out to be wrong? Yep. But you do realize that almost all of those beliefs were supported by the best 'science' of the day? And guess what, Floyd: Some of what you believe to be true today about the universe is almost certainly going to turn out to be false. That's guaranteed. So what exactly is your point? Is your problem that Christians tend to go with the best that science has to offer at any particular time? That's a strange problem...

    Second, haven't you ever spoke of the sun rising or setting? Need I elaborate?

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  60. (Knew you wouldn't let me down, Eric ;o) )

    Anyhow...

    "...science can say nothing about the existence of the supernatural; at best, science can say, "This particular phenomenon can be explained scientifically." Note the careful phrasing there: All science can tell us is whether science can provide a model of some phenomenon that works in some sense (usually, in the sense of making accurate predictions)."

    This is awesome!

    Science can't even approach the supernatural by your definitions.

    Therefore, when talking about the supernatural, anything goes! Magic is not prohibited! Invisible spirit beings DO exist, and they can affect our fates and destinies! The afterlife is a REAL place (even if it is invisible and outside time) and we can all go there and sing Kum Ba Yah for-EVAH!!!

    Woohoo!

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  61. "Eric's suggestion that we have historically behaved as if God exists and that this somehow "strengthens" his belief is, of course, irrelevant."

    Well, it's certainly not irrelevant; it's weak -- pretty weak, in fact -- but demonstrably not irrelevant.

    Let's say you're faced with two choices, A and B. Each letter represents a different belief. That's all you know; you have no idea what the specific beliefs they represent are. Suppose you're asked which belief, A or B, is true, and suppose that you *must* choose one or the other. Further suppose that if you get the answer wrong, you'll be killed. Finally, suppose that you only have one piece of information about A and B: 90% of all the people who have ever lived have believed A, and 3% of all the people who have ever lived have believed B.

    Which would you choose?

    I grant you that the evidence isn't worth much, but it is worth something; most of us, by far, would choose A, because given the data you have, it's obviously the most sensible option. Why? If you can work that out, you'll understand why, though such evidence is very weak, it's not irrelevant, as you said.

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  62. "Science can't even approach the supernatural by your definitions.
    Therefore, when talking about the supernatural, anything goes!"

    Non sequitur, anyone?

    Science can't tell me whom to marry, but it doesn't follow that anything goes.

    Science can't tell me whether to prefer Bach to Britney, but it doesn't follow that anything goes.

    Science can't tell me whether to love my neighbor or to eat him, but it doesn't follow that anything goes.

    Science can't tell me whether I should be a biologist or a physicist, but it hardly follows that anything goes.

    Science can't tell me whether to follow the same sentence pattern I've followed above or to mix it up a bit, but it hardly follows that anything goes.

    And so on.

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  63. "Here you are making rules, allowing you to define 'god', albeit as vaguely as possible. You say, "..god is not a natural being.." A few simple words which open the door to the super-natural."

    Floyd, what are you talking about? Look, is god, if anything, understood to be the creator of the universe (whether he exists or not; I'm just talking about the term 'god' here)? Yes. If god is understood to be the creator of the universe, then doesn't he kinda, by definition, exist 'outside' the universe, i.e. isn't he, by definition, supernatural? Now you may want to restrict your discussion of 'god' to gods that exist naturally within the universe, as part of the universe, and that's fine, but don't then go on to pretend that you're saying anything at all about Christianity.

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  64. "Well, there are no supernatural realms, not even one."

    Floyd, this is a conclusion. Would you care to show me the argument?

    "I would really love for Eric to explain why it's rational to presuppose anything "supernatural" exists."

    Why are you asking me to explain why it's rational to "presuppose" the supernatural when I've never said it's rational to "presuppose" the supernatural?

    Now we could get into a discussion of why it's reasonable to conclude that the supernatural exists, but that's another issue. For example, we could get into arguments that entail the denial of naturalism, which logically entails the affirmation of supernaturalism, or we could get into positive arguments for the existence of the supernatural.

    For examples of the former (arguments against naturalism), see any of the many arguments from intentionality, or any of the many arguments from reason, or Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. For arguments for the supernatural, see any of the arguments for the existence of god, or for the reality of any particular miracle, or for the existence of the soul, and so on.

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  65. Yet another formulation of Pascal's Wager:

    "...most of us, by far, would choose A, because given the data you have, it's obviously the most sensible option."

    But are you REALLY going to be killed, or is it just an empty threat?

    ---------------------------

    "Non sequitur, anyone?"

    I presume you DID see the wink? And having discussed thes types of things before, knowing that I'm not a complete idiot, how can you miss the tongue firmly embedded in cheek there?

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  67. Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) is not mathematically sound in its premises. You know this already.

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  68. But seriously,

    "Science can't tell me whom to marry, but it doesn't follow that anything goes."

    If it can't tell me who I can, then it can't tell me who I can't. I'm gonna marry Sandra Bullock. She's pretty.

    "Science can't tell me whether to prefer Bach to Britney, but it doesn't follow that anything goes."

    That's just plain wrong to mention those two in the same paragraph...

    "Science can't tell me whether to love my neighbor or to eat him, but it doesn't follow that anything goes."

    How about if I eat him AND love him (with a little garlic and cilantro, and some fava beans and a nice chianti...)?

    "Science can't tell me whether I should be a biologist or a physicist, but it hardly follows that anything goes."

    That one's easy. The ONLY rational choice is to study philosophy.

    None of these are questions of the 'supernatural', Eric...

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  69. "Yet another formulation of Pascal's Wager"

    LOL That had *nothing* to do with PW, but with the relevance and the evidential value of a consensus.

    "I presume you DID see the wink?"

    I saw it, but took it to apply to your "you didn't let me down" remark, and not to the content of your post. Sorry if I missed that.

    "Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) is not mathematically sound in its premises. You know this already."

    I disagree. I've seen no mathematical problem with the argument *that affects the conclusion of the argument*.

    "That's just plain wrong to mention those two in the same paragraph..."

    I so agree with that...

    "That one's easy. The ONLY rational choice is to study philosophy."

    Now you're talking my language. But seriously, we philosophers need physicists and biologists. If they didn't come out and say so many stupid things about philosophy, there'd be no one smarter than we are for us to criticize! ;)

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  70. Whassup? You think chianti's inappropriate with long pig?

    Philistine!

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  71. Let's say you're faced with two choices, A and B. Each letter represents a different belief. That's all you know; you have no idea what the specific beliefs they represent are. Suppose you're asked which belief, A or B, is true, and suppose that you *must* choose one or the other. Further suppose that if you get the answer wrong, you'll be killed. Finally, suppose that you only have one piece of information about A and B: 90% of all the people who have ever lived have believed A, and 3% of all the people who have ever lived have believed B.

    Which would you choose?
    --------------------
    B. Because people are FUCKING STUPID. For evidence of this, just look at how many people believe in christianity!

    (No, seriously, I'd actually choose B. How many people believe in something is LESS THAN EVIDENCE. People will believe in anything. They always have been like that. History shows this, over and over. In fact, the one 'true' belief system, if there is one, would likely be one that very few people believe in at all, since it would logically be very different from those which came before it.)

    Appeals to popularity are beneath the serious logician, no? Eric? Aren't they?
    Oh right, I forgot that you're desparate.

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  72. Eric said " For arguments for the supernatural, see any of the arguments for the existence of god, or for the reality of any particular miracle, or for the existence of the soul, and so on."

    Putting the cart before the horse, no?

    All those argument require the presuppostion that the supernatural exists.

    What is it rational to presuppose tha the supernatural exists? (or however the F you would phrase it).

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  73. Me: "Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) is not mathematically sound in its premises. You know this already."

    Eric: "...I've seen no mathematical problem with the argument *that affects the conclusion of the argument*."

    Maybe because you're not a mathematician?

    Plantinga assumes WAAAAAAY too much with the "suppose each of us has 1,000 beliefs. the likelihood that 3/4 of them are true is ~ 1*10^-59, therefore our 'believing faculty' is unreliable"

    This is what I'm talking about, not the Bayesian construction of his main argument.

    See also this, especially section 1.1. Plantinga's argument rests on "R", which is what he's casting doubt upon with his screwy math (that he had to hire aniother guy to do for him because he can't).

    If his formulation of the "reliability factor "R" is bogus, what does that do to the rest?

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  74. "LOL That had *nothing* to do with PW, but with the relevance and the evidential value of a consensus..."

    Taking the safe path isn't at least a sizeable chunk of Pascal's Wager?

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  75. "Taking the safe path isn't at least a sizeable chunk of Pascal's Wager?"

    No, my thought experiment had *nothing* to do with Pascal's Wager, but with whether appeals to popularity are epistemically *irrelevant*. As I said, they're weak, but not irrelevant.

    "Plantinga assumes WAAAAAAY too much with the "suppose each of us has 1,000 beliefs. the likelihood that 3/4 of them are true is ~ 1*10^-59, therefore our 'believing faculty' is unreliable""

    This seems to have been included only in a popular level introduction to the EAAN that I cannot access. I have his most recent scholarly formulations of the argument, and that calculation is nowhere to be found in them. So, since I can't access the popular level article you're referring to, I can't reach a conclusion about whether his math was off, but since the calculation is not included in any of his recent scholarly pieces on the argument, it seems that, as I said, it wouldn't affect the conclusion of the argument even if it were mathematically problematic.

    "See also this, especially section 1.1. Plantinga's argument rests on "R", which is what he's casting doubt upon with his screwy math"

    Have you read Plantinga's response to Fitelson and Sober? Heck, have you read any of Plantinga's scholarly formulations of the argument? If so, which ones? (I would really appreciate an answer to that question; it will tell me how sincere you are here.) Or have you only read a few criticisms of the argument? And what *specifically* is the main problem you see?

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  76. While you're waiting, here's one of Plantinga's more recent scholarly formulations of the argument (pages 1 - 12), and here's one of Plantinga's responses to Fitelson and Sober.

    ReplyDelete
  77. "Appeals to popularity are beneath the serious logician, no? Eric? Aren't they?"

    It depends. If the appeal is part of a deductive argument, it's fallacious. If it's part of a cumulative case argument for X, where X is also supported by other arguments, then it's one small, but relevant, strand of the argument.


    It also depends on what the appeal is to. If it's to a belief about the distance between our planet and another galaxy, it's likely to be worthless, since whatever the answer to that question is, it will depend on a specific line of reasoning, and not on any universal insight. But if the object of the appeal concerns human experience, then it will be much more obviously relevant.

    Learning the name of various logical fallacies and their basic application is like learning your ABCs; it's a necessary point to begin with, but you've got to learn to move beyond the basics to understand their more nuanced applications.

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  78. If it's part of a cumulative case argument for X, where X is also supported by other arguments, then it's one small, but relevant, strand of the argument.
    ----------------------
    Is it really?

    Hmm...

    So my argument that christianity is a contageous 'computer virus for brains' which, as a part if it's very design (whether intentionally planned that way or whethere 'evolved' that way over time) spreads itself to others maximally at all times, neutering the believer's ability to accurately test reality, would show up how in the world?
    As huge numbers of believers, given the time involved and the powers that used it.

    So your argument there also supports mine.

    Even the 'weak' version of my argument is boiled down to, 'Gee, let's see... which religion is the most enforced and proseletyzed and 'missionaried' and self-promoting religion in all of human history?

    Er, that'd be christianity of course.

    And therefore I get to sound snooty and say 'ERGO...'

    You get the rest, I assmue. So don't be so proud about the membership thingy there. Using it to actually SUPPORT the VALIDITY of your religion there, is actually offensive to me, considering how many people your religion KILLED in order to ensure that it wouuld be so popular that one day, someone like you could actually try to support it just by citing that sad fact.

    Shame, shame.

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  79. Brian; for the christian, appealing to concensus only works for deism/theism, otherwise Islam wins.

    It's just the part of the argument that gets the foot in the door.

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  80. This quote is from Plantinga's original formulation (sorry, I had to copy/paste it from Pharyngula; but I once found a way to get into the actual paper and it said exactly this):

    "So consider any particular belief on the part of one of those creatures: what is the probability that it is true? Well, what we know is that the belief in question was produced by adaptive neurophysiology, neurophysiology that produces adaptive behavior. But as we've seen, that gives us no reason to think the belief true (and none to think it false). We must suppose, therefore, that the belief in question is about as likely to be false as to be true; the probability of any particular belief's being true is in the neighborhood of 1/2. But then it is massively unlikely that the cognitive faculties of these creatures produce the preponderance of true beliefs over false required by reliability. If I have 1,000 independent beliefs, for example, and the probability of any particular belief's being true is 1/2, then the probability that 3/4 or more of these beliefs are true (certainly a modest enough requirement for reliability) will be less than 10(to the power -58). And even if I am running a modest epistemic establishment of only 100 beliefs, the probability that 3/4 of them are true, given that the probability of any one's being true is 1/2, is very low, something like .000001.[7] So the chances that these creatures' true beliefs substantially outnumber their false beliefs (even in a particular area) are small. The conclusion to be drawn is that it is exceedingly unlikely that their cognitive faculties are reliable."

    Later versions of his formulation (and I think that this is in response to some robust criticism, or he wouldn't have budged) look like this:

    "C. THE ARGUMENT AGAINST NATURALISM

    1. THE DOUBT DEVELOPED AGAIN
    Of course the argument for a low estimate of P(R/N&E) is pretty weak. In particular, our
    estimates of the various probabilities involved in estimating P(R/N&E) with respect to
    that hypothetical population were pretty shaky. So perhaps the right course here is simple
    agnosticism: that probability is inscrutable; we just can't tell what it is."

    So, when people challenge his math (and rightfully so!) he comes back with some hand-waving dismissal that says in essence,

    "even IF my math was weak, it doesn't change the fact that the probability is inscrutable"

    while neglecting to tell anyone that inscrutable doesn't equal infinitesimal, it means can't be determined, in which case he hasn't GOT an argument.

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  81. "Unfortunately, science can say nothing about the existence of the supernatural..
    Some of what you believe to be true today about the universe is almost certainly going to turn out to be false. That's guaranteed. So what exactly is your point? Is your problem that Christians tend to go with the best that science has to offer at any particular time? That's a strange problem..."

    What's it to be Eric? Are you telling me that your basing your belief in the natural and supernatural on historical theism which took for granted that the sky was supernatural or not?

    You are dodging the issue that you brought up.

    You brought up the natural versus supernatural here.

    "Well, since god is not a natural being in the natural world, such that if you catalogued everything in the natural world, 'god' would be included in the catalog, and since science studies only the natural world, it follows that the question of god's existence is not a scientific question."

    Now you're bringing up 'scientific questions' versus 'non-scientific questions' and saying that the old Christians were just using 'bad science'???

    "But the question of god's existence..", and by extension the supernatural realm, THE SKY(for them oldies), "..is not a scientific question."

    And that other stuff you brought up Plato's ideas and such are only real in the sense that they are 'communications', ideas, notions, which is the only sense that 'supernatural' and 'god' are real.

    No, Eric, you're wrong. You've caught yourself up in the terminology and crap that is the bread and butter of philosophy. Crap.

    "..god is not a natural being..", is self-referential, since YOUR question is asking about the existence of a being who lives outside of our reality and your negative implication is that he lives outside of our reality, and therefore 'exists'.

    What is wrong with your brain?

    I'd say 'nothing'. You've fooled yourself and now you're trying to fool us.

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  82. Some nuggets from the quotes:

    "We must suppose, therefore, that the belief in question is about as likely to be false as to be true; the probability of any particular belief's being true is in the neighborhood of 1/2."

    Absolutely untrue, unless he's talking about raw beliefs that have no basis in evidence.

    "If I have 1,000 independent beliefs, for example, and the probability of any particular belief's being true is 1/2, then the probability that 3/4 or more of these beliefs are true (certainly a modest enough requirement for reliability) will be less than 10(to the power -58)."

    The math is correct, considering he went to a statistician to fondle the calculator for him; the part that's WRONG is his bold assumption that an individual can have "1,000 independent beliefs" that AREN'T utterly trivial, i.e., "that is a girl", or "that is a red dress", or "my car is right where I left it last night".

    Nor do these 1,000 beliefs operate in a data vacuum; they are informed by our perceptions of "red", "dress", "girl", "I remember locking my car last night, and it's a POS that no one would steal anyway..."

    As for the non-trivial, un-evidenced beliefs we're talking about here (that incidentally all belong to religious thought, not naturalism and evolution), any of us probably doesn't have more that a dozen or so that fit this description.

    See how the math is premised badly?

    See how Plantinga backed away from using this math, but still insists that the argument is valid?

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  83. "So your argument there also supports mine."

    No, my one piece of admittedly weak evidence, which weakly supports my conclusion, also supports your conclusion weakly. It also supports a number of other conclusions weakly. But *all* evidence supports mutually exclusive conclusions, for theories are always underdetermined by the evidence.

    "for the christian, appealing to concensus only works for deism/theism, otherwise Islam wins."

    Well, I only use it to support theism. But there are more Christians worldwide than Muslims, so I don't know what you meant with the Islam remark.

    "So, when people challenge his math (and rightfully so!) he comes back with some hand-waving dismissal that says in essence,
    "even IF my math was weak, it doesn't change the fact that the probability is inscrutable"
    while neglecting to tell anyone that inscrutable doesn't equal infinitesimal, it means can't be determined, in which case he hasn't GOT an argument."

    No, that's not what he's doing. Plantinga has *always* argued that the P(R)/N&E is *either* low *or* inscrutable, and his point is that *even if* you don't think the arguments supporting the conclusion that it's low are strong, the arguments supporting the conclusion that it's inscrutable are, *and inscrutibility works just as well as a defeater for R*.

    Re: the Pharyngula quote, the calculations are correct, as far as I can see. What mathematical errors are you referring to? Or are you referring to the assumption that the probability that any particular belief is true is .5? What exactly is your problem with it?

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  84. What's amazing to me, Eric, is how you react if your argument runs into a 'stone wall'.

    You can't argue that god isn't natural for the reason I explained. Now you just switch to whether the supernatural is scientific, the same damn thing.

    You said that part of your reason is historical belief, but that won't wash because a lot of what they thought was supernatural turned out to be natural, therefore they believed, not in bad science, but in bad reasons for being religious in the first place!

    But we both argee that science hadn't advanced sufficiently for them NOT to include science AS supernatural, that's fine.

    What's NOT fine is appealing to THEM as the reason that you NOW believe in GOD's existence as if they hadn't simply been mistaken about a lot of things, including a lot of their reasons for believing that there was/is a GOD!

    Isn't THAT right?

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  85. Floyd, I can't make any sense of your post.

    "Absolutely untrue, unless he's talking about raw beliefs that have no basis in evidence."

    You missed the four ways he discussed concerning how our beliefs can be related to our behavior, and how only one of them provides us with any reason to think that the probability that the belief is true is greater than .5. As I asked before, have you actually read any of Plantinga's scholarly treatments of the argument (excepting the one I just linked to)? You don't seem to be familiar with it at all.

    "part that's WRONG is his bold assumption that an individual can have "1,000 independent beliefs" that AREN'T utterly trivial"

    Um, Plantinga wasn't saying, "Look, people in the real world hold a thousand independent beliefs" and so on, but was providing an obviously simplified example of the sorts of problems that the issues he's considering raises for R given N&E. Think about the way economists explain the basics of supply and demand by using overly simplistic models to illustrate the basic points. No one says, "But hey! People aren't always rational decision making agents, they don't always seek to maximize utility, they don't always have complete information, etc." Anyone who did raise such objections would thereby demonstrate that he didn't understand the role such simplified examples and basic lines of reasoning play in economic; the same thing seems to be happening here. Again, you don't seem to have any familiarity with the argument at all, Ed.

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  86. Eric, is prostantism, the baptist faith and all the differeng other sects of christianity, the same religion to you?
    I guess my point is it's strange to me how you're all one big faith when you're arguing the numbers but you disagree with each other enough to have had huge holy wars over the differences, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of 'brethren' of your same 'faith' and 'religion...'
    That's pretty retarded from where I sit, bro.

    Christianz R funny.

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  87. "You can't argue that god isn't natural for the reason I explained."

    Floyd, please explain that reason *as clearly as you can* because I completely missed it. Not that I missed the post -- I've read your posts -- but I didn't see that "reason you explained" explained anywhere. Please don't just repeat what you said, since I didn't understand it the first time; just be direct, to the point and clear about it this time.

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  88. Of course, that must be because of your moral superiority, that you murdered the world, pretty much...
    At least, most parts of it that didn't agree with you. You guys screw up on the 'murdering all the muslims' thing though... You guys missed a few. And they have long memories, as it turns out.
    Of course, the fundamentalist wing of your religion is more than willing to take up that baton once again, if given the chance. They've got a real hard-on for the apocalypse.

    How do you defend this 'faith?' How can you look at yourself in the mirror?

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  89. Seems to me that if one is willing to argue that we can scientifically measure and explain the Earth and natural phenomena happening here, then explain phenomena happening in the air as natural phenomena, then explain what's happening in the Solar System as natural phenomena then explain what's happening galaxy wide as natural phenomena and on and on, you are simply being childish pushing 'God and his supernatural realm' even FURTHER AWAY or out of the 'picture' all together!

    Can you honestly claim roots in something that you turn around and laugh at their 'silly' premises???

    C follows from B which follows from A but from C we can now deny the validity of A?

    I think that that is called 'bootstrapping' and you can't bootstrap God from the idea of God.

    Conversely we CAN bootstrap reality from the idea of reality, because here we are!

    I think that you are creating a pseudo-scientific model of God, as you admit that the old theists did, using the old theists' beliefs, while abandoning the old theists' reasoning.

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  90. Suddenly Eric had a stroke or something.

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  91. "Eric, is prostantism, the baptist faith and all the differeng other sects of christianity, the same religion to you?"

    Well, they agree more than they differ, and they agree on the essentials -- Nicene Creed -- but yes, they do have significant differences, so they're not the same; I'd say they're different versions of the same religion, though.

    "I guess my point is it's strange to me how you're all one big faith when you're arguing the numbers but you disagree with each other enough to have had huge holy wars over the differences"

    That's not surprising: the heretic is always hated more than the infidel (for obvious reasons). This isn't unique to religions: we saw it in communism, psychoanalysis and we see it today among atheists.

    But I never said that the numbers support *Christianity*; I said they support theism. And I said, very clearly, that they weakly support theism, and even then only as part of a cumulative case with a number of other, stronger arguments. Christians believe that god's existence and the essentials of his moral law are knowable by reason alone, so on the Christian worldview we would expect most people to believe in some kind of god, and we would expect most people to agree on broad moral principles, and that's just what we find. In this sense, the appeal to popularity supports -- weakly supports, but supports, as a small strand in a rope supports the rope -- the Christian view of the world.

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  92. In fact, ya know what, Eric, that's my question to you. I'm not gonna challenge you on your logical defenses since that's where you think you've got it made in the shade; I'm just gonna go for the real 'throat' of the matter here:

    How can you look at yourself in the mirror?

    I just really want to know. I mean, I know it'll go into all that about how you really believe in God and how this is your way of defending him, but it just seems so very, um, what's the word?
    Hmm..

    Craven.

    Yeah.

    That captures the emotional mix I'm feeling here.

    You shift like a chimera all the time in order to find that one thing to say that counters the present argument, and have all this information at your disposal that allows you to do a fairly good job of it, but sir...

    Have you no honor whatsoever? You're a sophisticated liar, and for god, of all things. That seems to make it even worse, to me.

    Is it the money? It is Dinesh's success that drives you to do likewise?

    You could do it. You're as good, if not better.

    However...

    Is that really who you want to be? How you want to spend this life?

    Hey, whatever. No need to answer. I have a feeling that whatever you said, it wouldn't 'satisfy.' Nothing you ever say does.

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  93. I'd say they're different versions of the same religion, though.
    ------------
    Yah. Different ebnough that they're not the same religion anymore, to an UNBIASED observer.

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  94. "Look, is god, if anything, understood to be the creator of the universe (whether he exists or not; I'm just talking about the term 'god' here)? Yes. If god is understood to be the creator of the universe, then doesn't he kinda, by definition, exist 'outside' the universe, i.e. isn't he, by definition.."

    God is DEFINED to be the creator of the universe.

    Changing that definition to an 'understanding' is misleading because now you can define God as 'existing' based on that understanding, which is simply a 'definition'

    God is a rotten tomato!
    Now that we 'understand' this, we can go on to 'define' HIM as 'squishy', and extant!

    Well no.

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  95. "God is DEFINED to be the creator of the universe."

    No, you define something by referring to its essential properties, not to what it contingently does.

    "Changing that definition to an 'understanding' is misleading because now you can define God as 'existing' based on that understanding, which is simply a 'definition'"

    I have no idea what you're talking about. I've never defined god as existing. Don't I try to make it clear every time I talk about how god is understood that I'm not saying he in fact exists, but that if he exists, then he is such and such? Just look at the quote you used one more time:

    ""Look, is god, if anything, understood to be the creator of the universe (***whether he exists *or not*; I'm just talking about *the term* 'god' here***)? Yes. If god is understood to be the creator of the universe, then doesn't he kinda, by definition, exist 'outside' the universe, i.e. isn't he, by definition.."

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  96. "Re: the Pharyngula quote, the calculations are correct, as far as I can see. What mathematical errors are you referring to? Or are you referring to the assumption that the probability that any particular belief is true is .5? What exactly is your problem with it?"

    I believe I was explicit already.

    First, to postulate that every belief is a 50/50 toss-up is obviously incorrect, unless it concerns a belief for which there is NO evidence informing one on which side of the coin to bet.

    Second, I challenge his notion that anyone has more than maybe a dozen or two beliefs of this (non-trivial) sort, where he says that "oh, let's call 1,000 independent beliefs reasonable, shall we?"

    Then:

    "You missed the four ways he discussed concerning how our beliefs can be related to our behavior, and how only one of them provides us with any reason to think that the probability that the belief is true is greater than .5."

    Actually, I didn't miss that.

    "(1) "epiphenomenalism" (belief isn’t causally connected with behavior at all),

    (2) "semantic epiphenomenalism" (belief is causally connected with behavior, but just by virtue of its
    neurophysiological properties and not by virtue of its content),

    (3) belief is causally related to behavior by virtue of content as well as neurophysiological
    properties, but is maladaptive, and

    (4) the common sense possibility"

    "This proceeds in terms of a weighted average principle:
    P(R/N&E) is equal to the weighted average of P(R/N&E&Pi), weighted in
    each case by P(Pi/N&E)....I argued that P(R/N&E&C) is not very high (or inscrutable) and that
    P(R/N&E&Pi) for each of the other Pi is low (or inscrutable); the result is that P(R/N&E) is itself low or inscrutable."

    But like I said, his probability math is screwy. If it was solid, he wouldn't be saying "low OR INSCRUTABLE", he'd be saying "LOW."

    If he includes 'or inscrutable', then inscrutable it IS, and he has no basis for claiming otherwise, and for him to continue placing "low or..." in the stataments is denial that he has no basis for argument any more.

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  97. In fact Eric, I'd say that one of the major divisions within your 'blanket' religion there, is the churches (and individuals) that follow the 'gentle Jesus meek and mild' 'Do unto others' 'Love thy neighbor' philosophy versus those who follow the 'Jesus is a warrior' 'Onward christian soldier' philosophy, focusing instead upon 'revelations Jesus,' and forgetting all about 'the least of my brothers' altogether. You know, the decent Christians (note my cap) and the republican tea-party racist evil fundy types, or for that matter, the loathsome vatican christian beaurocrat types like the Poop, or whatever they call that old nazi transvestite whore you all think is infallible now.

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  98. "Um, Plantinga wasn't saying, "Look, people in the real world hold a thousand independent beliefs" and so on..."

    Um, yes, he said EXACTLY that, as premise for his flawed math.

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  99. I believe I was explicit already.
    ------------
    Yes, he most certainly was. Crystal clear.

    C'mon Eric. It's not nice to be so shady.

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  100. "nazi transvestite whore..."

    *chortle*

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  101. "No, you define something by referring to its essential properties, not to what it contingently does."

    This is 'fluff'.


    And no, if(as you say 'if') there was a God, who BY DEFINITION is the Creator of the Universe, that just means that up until that point the Universe consisted of 'HIM'.

    You can play with words all day and all night and all the next day and so on.

    So what?

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  102. There are no gods, not even one.

    You cannot appeal to historicity while denying the premises of the historical believers.

    Historically, believers have split the universe into the natural, the Earthly, and the supernatural, the Heavenly.

    Guess what Eric?(and I think you know this)

    They. Were. Wrong.

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  103. AHA! moment:

    here's the equation:

    0.5^1000*(1000!/((1000-750)!*750!))

    The answer comes out 4.5 * 10^-59

    This rests again on the assumption(s) that there is a toss up in the acquisition of beliefs that the chance of true / false is roughly equal, that there are 1000 beliefs, and that the chance of having 75% of the 1000 being "true" (ignoring any informative factors like observation of bad results occurring to others that held false beliefs; i.e., we didn't evolve in a vacuum!), is at best excessively assumptive.

    I doubt that any of us have more than a couple dozen non-trivial beliefs, if even THAT many.

    Plantinga's math is absurd, and too conjectural.

    July 4, 2010 2:58 PM

    (From the thread "My First Guest Speaker", right here on St.Brian's Chronicles!)

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  104. This is why he used 1,000 beliefs as his starting point:

    Because it gives him the infinitesimal result he needs to chortle (I like that word!),

    "The Probability of my cognitive faculties being reliable given the conjunction of Evolution and Naturalism is low or inscrutable:

    P(R/N&E) = tiny or unknowable."

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  105. Well, now that you bring factorials into it, SURE!

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  106. I DO understand the argument. And I understand the math. And, after having plowed through it, I can folow along with the Bayesian logic format, too.

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  107. I didn't invoke the factorials, peeb; it's a necessary part of a statistical analysis.

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  108. All I'm saying is that factorials sound so 'facty'.

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  109. .. as in, "It's not just a fact, it's a factorial!"


    What? What is this? Country and Western reason and logic?

    You can 'just make words mean what you want them to mean', but your conclusions are imaginary.

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  110. No more "theolgebra" tonight. My back is killing me, and I'm fresh out of muscle relaxers...

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  111. Did you hear about the two gay Irishmen?

    Gerald Fitzpatrick and Patrick Fitzgerald.

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  112. "There's a boogey-man in my closet and some gremlins under my bed!"

    Millions of children agree that it is possible. They must be philosophers because they understand, much as philosophers do, that gremlins and boogey-men do not necessarilly 'live' in the natural universe! These beings are not discoverable by the scientific method!

    Still, I appeal to the millions of people who believed in them as children and the children who believe in them now, as justification for the possibility of their existence!

    Ludricrous?

    Well, duh!

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  113. What else?

    Oh yea, the purpose of boogeymen and gremlins is to scare the bejeezuz out of kids, this is well understood.

    Understanding this, we can ask the question, "Are there children who are having the bejeezuz scared out of them by boogeymen and gremlins?

    YES! INDEED THERE ARE!

    Therefore, they DO TOO exist!

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  114. Ed; the main reason, in my humble opinion, that the EAAN fails is because it looks at statistics the wrong way.

    The odds that evolution would lead us to where we are right now is exactly 1:1, because we are where we are right now.

    If things had been different, things would be different. It's baffeling to me that people have such a hard time.

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  115. "I DO understand the argument."

    The things you're saying about it belie this claim.

    Here's the summary of Plantinga's EAAN that I gave on that Pharyngula thread; it seems to me to be accurate enough to reproduce here, and I think it will help you understand just what the argument is:

    If naturalism (N) is true, then our cognitive faculties are the products of unguided (note, not random) evolution (E).

    E is blind with respect to our beliefs. E acts on our behavior.

    Given N, there are roughly 4 ways our beliefs could be related to our behavior: (1) epiphenomenalism, (2) semantic epiphenomenalism, (3) maladaptive, (4) adaptive.

    If relationship (1), (2) or (3) obtain, we have (obviously) no reason to trust our cognitive faculties. (Short explanation: If (1), then our beliefs don't in any way affect our behavior; if (2), then beliefs do affect behavior, not because of their semiotic content, but because of their physical properties, i.e. as electro-chemical activity in the brain; if (3), then beliefs affect our behavior, but are maladaptive, and we can reasonably conclude that maladaptive beliefs are not likely to be true in most cases.)
    If (4) obtains, i.e. if our beliefs cause our behavior by virtue of their content and are adaptive, we still don't have good reasons to believe that they are true. Why not? First, remember that evolution acts on our behavior. Second, think about all the ways false beliefs -- whether considered in isolation, or in complex webs of belief -- could result in adaptive behaviors.

    There are far, far more false belief/adaptive behavior combinations than true belief/adaptive behavior combinations (since there are countless ways for a belief to be false, and only one way for it to be true).

    So, even if our beliefs cause our behavior by virtue of their semiotic content, and are adaptive, we still don't have good reasons to conclude that they're true, i.e. we don't have good reasons to trust the reliability of our cognitive faculties (R).

    Now, remember that there are roughly four possible belief-cum-behavior scenarios. The probability of R on the first three is obviously low, so even if the probability of (4) is high, the overall conditional probability of R is low (or inscrutable, given the nature of the variables we're working with). However, as we've seen, the probability of R on (4) is not likely to be high.

    Therefore, since the probability of R given N and E is low or inscrutable, we have no good reasons to trust the deliverances of R.

    But one of the deliverances of R is N. Hence, given N and E, we have no good reason to believe that N is true. Hence, naturalism is self defeating.

    "Still, I appeal to the millions of people who believed in them as children and the children who believe in them now, as **justification** for the possibility of their existence!"

    Ugh. Did I say that appeals to popularity *justify* a conclusion? *No*. I said that they can, in the appropriate context, play a role -- a weak role, but still a role -- in an overall cumulative case for some conclusion, a cumulative case which *must* include, if the conclusions is to be justified, much stronger arguments.

    "There are no gods, not even one."

    Do you have an argument that supports this conclusion? Let's hear it.

    "And no, if(as you say 'if') there was a God, who BY DEFINITION is the Creator of the Universe, that just means that up until that point the Universe consisted of 'HIM'."

    This is confused on so many levels, but perhaps worst of all is your abuse of the English language -- that's not what the term 'universe' means.

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  116. Sorry, I only skimmed till Pliny's post on Oct. 1st.

    I'm picking Pliny because I could not disagree with him more, and I think other atheists, including the biologist/philosopher Massimo Pigliucci (whom Pliny "introduced" me to) would agree.

    Evolution does not do away with gods, that's a fallacy of scientism, or its chutzpah, a.k.a the universal eye, which Nietzsche himself had a few choice words to say about.

    The problem is this.

    As atheists, agmystics, what have you, we cannot ignore the encroachment of what amounts to criticism qua theory into our textbooks.

    If they (creationists, IDers) want to criticize, be my guest, but they can't call it a fuckin theory until they have some testable evidence (Pliny, and Harvey can correct my generalities here).

    What ultimately I'm getting at with the 'narrative' and the commentary above is that one, narratives are stories told for absolutist ideologies. They do not have to waver or apologize, just simply jump about to fit empirical data.

    How does science fall into this dogmatic storytelling?

    In the most annoying arrogant puissant pissant way possible.

    Periodicals. Oy vey.

    "Hi, we're science (tell a story about whatever) and we know everything." If you think science doesn't do that through Scientific American or National Geographic you are fuckin deluded.

    Even given all that, the above would be "fine," except science, unlike other actual narratives is self correcting.

    So what's the real impression, these so-called speculations leave because of how they're presented?

    New periodical cover: "Hi we're science, and we were wrong. So we knew everything, but now we REALLY know everything. Here's our story!"

    Poppycock.

    Science cannot build an absolute from the past, sorry Pliny. It needs to have people keep the lunatics off its back while it does its job the best it can, but it needs to remember its limitations. Including not falling into absolutes which submit to no temporal authority, or proving a negative. That's the realm of religion's dogmatists.

    My final assertion...kids will, if we can get to them early enough, not be susceptible to fairy tale bullshit except that it offer a wonderful poetry to life and that's it.

    -----

    So who's to blame, since it seems like I'm going off about actual scientists who work their ass off trying to make genuine discoveries that will hopefully have meaningful impact?

    It's sure as shit not Pliny, or Harvey, or some of my relatives. It's Dawkins, the clumsy atheist apologist, who's setting himself up for brilliant putz of the decade, and science rags trying to sell copies.

    For every miracle there's a counter miracle.

    So why's that so bad?

    Look at it another way, for every capitalist success story there's a communist one... and how does this get the public or our kids to think about economics?

    It doesn't.

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  117. Eric quoted Ian "There are no gods, not even one."

    and then said "Do you have an argument that supports this conclusion? Let's hear it."

    He doesn't need to make an argument until evidence for a god is made available.

    You can make arguments till you are blue in the face, but that doesn't mean you have evidence*.

    *actual evidence.

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  118. Harry, Harry, Harry.

    Have a nice glass of chianti!(swirling the valium in the bottom of the glass hoping that they are dissolved before I hand it to him)

    "..critisism qua theory.."

    Really?(handing laced chianti with one hand hiding the 'shot' of thorazine behind back)

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  119. Yea Eric, I knew you'd say that.

    Why do you bother mentioning this fluff if you know it's fluff, we know it's fluff, you know that we know that it's fluff, and so on?

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  120. "..criticism qua theory.."

    Gotta love it Harry. I do believe that you are the first person on the planet to use the word 'qua' ironically, or cynically or 'like that'. (don't feel like being corrected by Eric(E) on my use of words(W) here.)

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  121. Harry; I get what you are saying about the narrative, and when I read scientific american, I don't see it that way, but that's because I read all those articles presupposing that the conclusions are tentative. I get that others might not do that.

    But...

    You said "Evolution does not do away with gods, that's a fallacy of scientism..."

    It does, very specifically, do away with special creation, Adam, being made in gods image, original sin, etc...

    So it does at least do away with many versions of god.

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  122. "He doesn't need to make an argument until evidence for a god is made available."

    Not so.

    There are two issues here:

    (1) The "is absence of evidence evidence of absence" issue.

    Some of the time, absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. Let's say I'm afraid of big dogs, and I ask you to look in a big house to tell me if there's a big dog in it. You look through the house, don't see a big dog, and conclude from the absence of evidence that there's a big dog in the house that there is in fact no big dog in the house. This is perfectly reasonable. Why? Well, we know exactly what we would expect if there were a big dog in the house -- e.g. we'd expect to see the dog clearly, to perhaps hear it or smell it, and so on -- and those expectations have not been met.

    But let's suppose I ask you to tell me if there's a flea in the house. You could go in and look around, just as you did in the case with the big dog, and let's say you don't come across a flea. Can you be as confident, on the basis of the same evidence as before, that there are no fleas in the house? Clearly not; in this case, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    What about god? Well, what should we expect to find if there were a god roughly like the god of classical theism? What sort of evidence would you expect to be there that is lacking? Until you answer this question satisfactorily, you cannot claim that you don't need to provide an argument for atheism until you're presented with "evidence" for god's existence. First, you need to demonstrate that with respect to god's existence, and with respect to our expectations of how the world would be if god existed, that the absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence.

    Can you do that?

    (2) The second issue is the "burden of proof" issue.

    Question: Did Floyd make a claim when he said, "There are no gods"? Clearly, he did. But if he made a claim, he's obligated to defend that claim. That's how the burden of proof works. It's *not*, contrary to popular level internet atheist sites, limited to whoever makes a "positive" claim. Here's Walton from the most popular introduction to informal logic there is: "He who asserts must prove." Now, "There are no gods" is undeniably an assertion, so Floyd is obligated to provide an argument to defend that assertion.

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  125. Eric; big dogs and fleas exist. Bad example.

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  126. Absolutely I did. We know fleas and big dogs MIGHT be in a house.

    We can be reasonalby sure that a fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmoster is not.

    Of a god for that matter.

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  127. "Eric; big dogs and fleas exist. Bad example."

    Ryan, please tell me you're kidding me. If you're kidding me, cool. If not, please reread my post. If, after rereading it, "big dogs and fleas exist" *still* seems to be a meaningful response, then this conversation is over.

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  128. "Absolutely I did" was in reference to the comment Eric deleted at 8:34 PM.

    I'm not just talking to myself.

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  129. Eric; just becuase you used a terrible example, you threaten to end the conversation, weak sauce. If you want to end the conversation, that's fine, I'll keep responding to your giberish though. But we know fleas exist, so there's a chance that a flea will be in a house.

    Like I said before (apparently to no one), there's no chance a fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmosters or a god will be, so it's a terrible example.

    I'm not kidding you. But I will slap your face off your face, Renzo.

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  130. Eric said (and I read this in Plantinga's paper before just now),

    "...So, even if our beliefs cause our behavior by virtue of their semiotic content, and are adaptive, we still don't have good reasons to conclude that they're true, i.e. we don't have good reasons to trust the reliability of our cognitive faculties (R)."

    Here's the disconnect. If beliefs DON'T cause our behavior, then there's no reason to think that it makes the slightest bit of difference in an evolutionary sense. Again, trivial things are rarely deadly, beliefs are not formed in a data vacuum, etc...

    Furthermore, Plantinga gives unwarranted respect to 'traditional theism' (TT), as if it doesn't fall under the set of "beliefs" that are unreliable due to our 'unreliable cognitive faculties'. 'Theism' isn't immune from this argument.

    What's good for the goose...

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  131. ""Absolutely I did" was in reference to the comment Eric deleted at 8:34 PM."

    I deleted my response to the comment you deleted.

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  132. "Eric; just becuase you used a terrible example, you threaten to end the conversation, weak sauce."

    The example was not "bad"; your response was perhaps the most irrelevant response to any comment I've ever seen. It wouldn't have been much more irrelevant if you had said, "Bad example. The Pope is a Catholic." Honestly, it's that bad.

    Let me try to explain why (patience, patience). My examples were merely used to *clarify* the absence of evidence issue, since the absence of evidence is only the evidence of absence in certain cases. *That's all the examples were meant to do: to show one obvious case in which the absence of evidence implies evidence of absence, and another obvious case in which the absence of evidence does not imply evidence of absence*. Now do you see why your response was *completely* irrelevant?

    With that distinction out of the way, I challenged you to explain why, in the case of god, absence of evidence is evidence of absence, since, as I just explained, it's not always the case that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

    And your response: "Bad example, for fleas and dogs exist."

    Now do you see why your response was simply ridiculous?

    So, I'll ask again: Can you defend the notion that, wrt god, the absence of evidence is to be taken as evidence of absence?

    And I note that you didn't bother to respond to my burden of proof point.

    "Here's the disconnect. If beliefs DON'T cause our behavior, then there's no reason to think that it makes the slightest bit of difference in an evolutionary sense."

    It would make quite a bit of difference with respect to R!

    "Furthermore, Plantinga gives unwarranted respect to 'traditional theism' (TT), as if it doesn't fall under the set of "beliefs" that are unreliable due to our 'unreliable cognitive faculties'. 'Theism' isn't immune from this argument."

    Are you even familiar with Plantinga's proper function epistemology? If not, then what grounds do you have for that conclusion? None, I suspect. You still have never told me which of Plantinga's scholarly pieces on the EAAN you've read (excepting the ones I linked to yesterday).

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  133. "You said "Evolution does not do away with gods, that's a fallacy of scientism...""

    Ryan, I stand by my statement. It doesn't do away with gods it does do away with people's claims about them.

    You and I both agree that scientific evidence undermines the authority that men ascribe to Ra, Zeus, Yahweh, whomever, but the claims of what they have done are different than THAT they are.

    It was a specific point, and since frankly you and I agree about this subject 99.99% I will accept an apology from you in order to smooth things over.

    If you say, "I Ryan, by disagreeing with Harry on a philosophical minutiae, have committed the unpardonable sin of smelling like the anus of a chinchilla. And I do humbly ask that Harry go fuck himself..." then we can be compatriots again.

    Until then you are unclean!!

    ------

    While I see what you mean, I do feel I have to toe the line at the 'proving the non-existence of anything.' The God hypotheses will fall weakly against the mounting evidence but if "they," whoever "they" are get us to try and prove the non-existence of something they'll have us flailing like idiots for eternity.

    Surely you see what I'm talking about? It's not just a philosophical point, it's a scientific one too.

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  134. Eric said,

    "But let's suppose I ask you to tell me if there's a flea in the house. You could go in and look around, just as you did in the case with the big dog, and let's say you don't come across a flea. Can you be as confident, on the basis of the same evidence as before, that there are no fleas in the house? Clearly not; in this case, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

    This is a BAAAAD analogy.

    God (we hear) is not some microscopic pest that might escape our attention if we weren't diligent enough to search every little crack in the woodwork.

    Eric himself has argued that god continuously sustains the universe, and that the universe itself is "evidence" of God.

    Still, there are those of us who don't see the existence of the universe as evidence of God, Alvin Plantinga notwithstanding.

    His EAAN argument is BS, and whether I can put my finger on the reasons why isn't as important as I'm not a trained philosopher. I look at the FACT that other people (from philosophy departments at respected universities!) challenged his statistical formulations, and HE BACKPEDALLED and said, "Well, *hrrumph* we don't need to have REAL REASONS to call these things low or inscrutable (waves hand) we can STILL say they are 'low or inscrutable' without any reason at all, and I win".

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  135. Eric said,

    "...First, you need to demonstrate that with respect to god's existence, and with respect to our expectations of how the world would be if god existed, that the absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence."

    Our expectations of how the world would be if god existed are FAULTY, because our rational faculties are unreliable, and therefore we can't believe what we want to believe.

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  136. Eric; "I challenged you to explain why, in the case of god, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.."

    That's what I was getting at with the fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmosters comment. Absense of evidence of fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmosters is evidence of the absense of fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmosters.


    Or gods.

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  137. Eric; "And I note that you didn't bother to respond to my burden of proof point."

    Well with that, you are right, Ian's comment was too absolute.

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  138. I Ryan, by disagreeing with Harry on a philosophical minutiae, have committed the unpardonable sin of smelling like the anus of a chinchilla. And I do humbly ask that Harry go fuck himself.

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  139. "Absense of evidence of fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmosters is evidence of the absense of fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmosters."

    Oh, if only it were that easy. Define the term, fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmoster; until you do, all you've done is make a claim about the absence of evidence wrt the existence of fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmosters. So, what is a fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmoster?

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  140. i missed all the mudslinging...

    What happened?

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  141. A fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmoster is a three headed monster that sustains the universe and you get to have a personal relationship with it! Enjoy!

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  142. "Wtf is wrt?
    Pompass ass."

    Pompous? Not at all; it's actually as pompous as 'lol' or 'brb' or 'imho,' since it's just a lazy, computer chat way of saying, "with respect to."

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  143. "A fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmoster is a three headed monster that sustains the universe and you get to have a personal relationship with it! Enjoy!"

    If it has three heads, and if it's a monster, it must be physical; what's it made of? If it's physical, it must occupy space; where is it? If it's physical and occupys space, it must be contingent; what does it depend on for its existence? If it's contingent, it can't sustain the universe in any meaningful sense. And if it wants to have a relationship with me -- and by "me" I suspect you mean "people" -- then I should expect to find plenty of people who claim to have a relationship with it.

    So, by examining the definition, I have reasonably concluded that the absence of evidence is, in this case, evidence of absence.

    Now can you do the same with god?

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  144. Ryan,

    Have you been hitting the sauce again...?

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  145. Ed; I have not. Yet.

    Eric; it's an ineffiable monster. It's also afraid of iron and has a butt.

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  146. It has a BUTT???

    I did not know that...

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  147. Well, I believe in fahrvergnugens, even ifthey DO have butts...

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  148. Okay. I say there are no gods not even one.

    Now you 'argue' the old 'absence of evidence' bullshit is, I dunno, a million points to me?

    In your example, we know there ARE big dogs, we know there are fleas, so what you're arguing is that I'm saying that there are no gods that I have found, right?

    But I'm not saying that at all!

    If you were to give me some acceptable evidence(i.e. not circular or self-referential).. meh.. but I already know you can't.

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  149. Let's say that I say(and I do) that there is no chupacabra.

    Are you trying to tell me Eric(E) that because I cannot prove to YOU that there isn't such a thing, that there might be?

    How dare you poopoo my suggestion that the boogeyman and gremlins are real on account of they are understood to scare kids and in fact DO scare kids!

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  150. Ian; "Eric(E)"

    Wins the "Funniest thing this blog post" award, in my opinion.

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  152. "...If it has three heads, and if it's a monster, it must be physical; what's it made of? If it's physical, it must occupy space; where is it? If it's physical and occupys space, it must be contingent...

    God has a beard (ever seen the roof of the Sistine Chapel? Form the inside?) AND a butt (Exodus 33:23).

    If HE has a beard, and if He has a butt, He must be physical; what's His beard and butt made of? If He's physical, He must occupy space; where is He? If He's physical and occupies space, He must be contingent...

    Wow, that was easy, too!

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  153. So.

    Completely beside the point, on the police scanner, which Emma monitors, around the corner from us, there is a bear, knocking on someone's door!

    He/she is sleeping in the basement of an empty house and is likely just wanting a spare sack of garbage or, you know, left overs.

    I can't wrap my head around how smart they are. Of course they're not smart enough to realise that it's just not going to happen, they're NOT going to be accepted into our society.

    Still. Nice try Yogi.

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  154. Yes Ed, and I imagine him poopooing me with a nice chianti and some fava beans!(fi fi fi fi)

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  156. Yup.

    That way, he can eat you AND love you, and he won't be violating anybody's morals, either.

    It's a win-win situation!

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  157. If it has three heads, and if it's a monster, it must be physical;
    --------------
    It metaphorically has three heads; this symbolizes the three-in-one aspect of the fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster; The Sire Monster aspect, the Dame Monster aspect, and the Cosmic Egg Monster aspect, which is reborn each universal cycle, renewed. It is not physical except when perceived within its own spiritual reality, by someone who is also non-physical; then and only then is it perceived physically, which I must tell you, is most impressive to the other denizens of said spiritual realm, who cannot themselves be, and are awed at the solidity. This spiritual fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster realm is separate and apart from this reality and there is no intersection of the two except that said spiritual fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster realm is the quantum basis for *this* realm, so in actuality they're interconnected at all points, only not. The Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster hears all prayers, but is not in any position to do anything about them, except feel really guilty for not being able to help.

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  158. It's important to remember that gods butt is in the same book that Eric get's one of the keystones to his entire argument for god (Exodus 3:14). God's butt is the essence of pure being.

    Nothing but cherry picking.

    Don't forget which god Eric is actually arguing for, it's the one with the butt whether he admits it or not.

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  159. You can have a personal relationship with the Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster, however it's never satisfying. He has a really small 'you know.' Plus, it's incorporeal, which is another turn-off for many.



    What are we talking about again?

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  160. Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster?

    Surely you mean Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster(F)?

    Have we learned NOTHING from Eric(E)?

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  161. "It metaphorically has three heads; this symbolizes..."

    Fair enough. Now can you provide me with any arguments supporting its existence?

    Oh, and just to save some time, this sort of move has been made before you know -- many, many, many times before, that is, and always unsuccessfully (as the link clearly shows). A rose, by any other *name*, and all that stuff, you know...

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  162. "Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster?"

    It's 'FluergeneaheimengEffensteinmonster, with an 'E', not an 'I'!

    Heretic!

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  163. I'm founding a new church:

    Orthodox Fluergeneaheimengeffen-steinmonsterianity.

    It's based on the TRUTH that His Holiness has three butts, along with His three heads, which you heretics obviously DON'T believe.

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  164. This is where I don't get the 'I used to be an atheist' story, Eric(E).

    You know as well as us that you're using logical syllogisms with weak premises doesn't make your god any more likely than anyone elses.

    As soon as you go into detail about our supposed relationship with your god it all becomes just as hokey as anyone elses god.

    Having holy languages and/or your own definitions of words is simply a cover.

    Did you see the results of the poll on religious knowledge?

    50% of Catholic respondents knew NOTHING of transubstantiation?

    Look around you next time you attend mass. Half the people around you are just eating a fuckin' cracker!

    You really think that it would matter to them if your syllogisms were or weren't logical?

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  165. So Dr. Craig calls it god, the other guy calls it a computer, we call it Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster. But did you know tht Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster in the original Fluergeneah can be translated as "fuckifiknow".

    Dr. Craig it seems to me goes to great lenghts to argue for a first cause, and then just lables it god after the fact.

    I know he makes the argument that it has to be personal, but that's the weakest of his arguments in this vein.

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  166. Ian "50% of Catholic respondents knew NOTHING of transubstantiation?"

    And 54% of Catholics (or voting catholics) voted for Obama, and similar numbers support abortion rights and use contraception.

    It's almost as if being catholic has no effect on people, other than puttig them at a slightly higher risk of being molested as children.

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  167. "But did you know tht Fluergeneaheimengiffensteinmonster in the original Fluergeneah can be translated as "fuckifiknow"."

    That's all well and good, Ryan, but REAL scholars all use the 'Kevorkian Texts', and you already know this.

    Heathen.

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  168. Kevorkian Orthodox Fluergeneaheimengeffen-steinmonsterianity is the only TRUE religion.

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  169. Watching a nature show that was covering baboons.

    Funny thing about baboons is that they're so curious. They came right up to the camera trying to figure what it was, decided that 'we'(the cameraman and soundman) were 'just like them' and 'cool'. Next thing you know they were grooming the humans.

    We humans were enough like them for them to consider us cool. That 'speaks to me' of a World, no gods necessary.

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  170. Eric(E), it seems, cannot accept that any reasonably intelligent(?) individuals do not see the irrefutable clarity of his logical arguments for the existance of a god(s), even when they are based upon "very weak" premises (by his own admission). Dr Craig, it appears, does the same. He "defines" any abstraction as "God" when he has no other recourse. Eric is, of course, quite correct in noting that these same discussions have been had previously, over and over again, with no "winners", inasmuch as Deists (let alone Christians) MUST win, lest their entire belief structure collapse around them. Even if we give Eric(E) the benefit of the doubt regarding his self realization of the reality of the Christian God and the resulting falsity of Atheism, he is now in the same boat as all the majority of "believers" who have simply been indoctrinated into a particular religion from childhood. The main difference between them seems to be that Eric(E), having invested what appears to be a great deal of thought and time into his arrival at belief, is not yet able to ignore even the little, niggling doubt that must remain after all this sincere self examination as blithely as most of his co-religionists can.

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  171. Harvey said,

    "The main difference between ["cradle" christians and thoughtful believers] seems to be that Eric(E), having invested what appears to be a great deal of thought and time into his arrival at belief, is not yet able to ignore even the little, niggling doubt that must remain after all this sincere self examination as blithely as most of his co-religionists can."

    And that, folks, is why Eric(E) can't resist coming back in here to engage us.

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  172. "Eric(E), it seems, cannot accept that any reasonably intelligent(?) individuals do not see the irrefutable clarity of his logical arguments for the existance of a god(s)"

    This is soooo frustrating...I said on this very thread,

    "Unlike those atheists who think they "have reason and logic on their side," I've always said that atheism is a rationally tenable position (and agnosticism is even better), but that in my opinion, as I've studied the arguments on both sides, the theistic arguments are the stronger arguments. Some honest, intelligent and informed people draw the opposite conclusion. When atheists reach their conclusions as I've reached mine -- i.e. largely through reason -- we can discuss the issues that divide us."

    "even when they are based upon "very weak" premises (by his own admission)."

    Again, where have I said I accept an argument with a very weak premise? Such an argument must be rejected. What I've said is that an appeal to authority is weak *evidence* for a claim, but evidence nonetheless. I also said that it's evidence that *must* be supplemented by strong arguments, and a strong argument cannot have weak premises. (On other threads I've said that the premises of a good argument must minimally be more plausibly true than their negations; that's hardly 'weak'!)

    "He "defines" any abstraction as "God" when he has no other recourse."

    No, there is a basic principle in logic called the identity of indiscernible: If X and Y possess the same properties, then X is Y; the distinction was only apparent. Now if you want to call something a computer or a whatchamacallit monster (that is, if you want to *name* something so and so), but if that something possesses the same properties as god, then you're just using another name for god. See?

    "The main difference between them seems to be that Eric(E), having invested what appears to be a great deal of thought and time into his arrival at belief, is not yet able to ignore even the little, niggling doubt that must remain after all this sincere self examination as blithely as most of his co-religionists can."

    *Of course* I doubt my conclusions; so should you. We should all question our big, worldview conclusions, and question them incessantly (and intelligently).

    "I know he makes the argument that it has to be personal, but that's the weakest of his arguments in this vein."

    What is that argument, Ryan, and why do you think it's among his weakest?

    "You know as well as us that you're using logical syllogisms with weak premises doesn't make your god any more likely than anyone elses."

    If I agreed that the premises were weak, I'd agree with you here.

    "Look around you next time you attend mass. Half the people around you are just eating a fuckin' cracker!"

    Yes, and many of the people I know of who claim to support evolution think we evolved from monkeys. How is that relevant? There will always be more poorly informed people for any belief, whether religious or secular, than better informed people. It's irrelevant.

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  173. Best unintentional 'funny' EVER.

    The Andromeda Strain docs are checkin' out the village, come across the doctor with the infectious open capsule in front of him.

    One doctor starts manhandling the dead local M.D., whips of the guys pants and says, "Have a look at his buttocks!"

    The other guy, assuming that his partner is taking advantage of their deaditude to check out their pretty bums, I guess, and says sternly, "That's not funny!"

    The gravity of the supposed situation, the entire village dead, they're looking for clues, and one doctor thinks the other one is a necrophiliac bum-looker!

    HILARIOUS!

    They should have had a third actor shoot the bum-looker while the second one explained that he was pointing out that the blood wasn't settling. The shooter coulda said, "I don't care, that was just creepy!"

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  174. Eric; the whole point is that "God" is just another name for the still unknown first cause.

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  175. You said Craig's argument for the cause being personal is weak, Ryan. What is the argument, as you understand it, and what specifically is it that makes it weak?

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  176. Eric; I remember it being the weakest part when you restated it here last spring.

    I've not committed it to memory, and I don't feel like looking it up just to restate it to you, that's your schtick :).

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  177. And so, to set myself back on the track of "right-thinking", I'm watching "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" again.

    Of partigular interest is the scene where the mob brings the witch to Sir Bedemere, and the correct logical formulation that follows....

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  178. So, Eric, do you really think that your philosophy isn't biased towards your conclusions?

    You say GOD is outside the universe, outside the purview of science.

    God is not part of nature. How many ways can you tell us that you feel that you can make a case for God with reason alone, no science required??

    But I think that your reasoning involves asking loaded questions designed to give you the answer that you want.

    Now you may start off from a scientific perspective, asking, "Why is there a Universe?", perhaps going on about the Big Bang and such, even though you admit that you don't WANT there to be a scientific reason, you're not LOOKING FOR a scientific reason.

    But if you're not looking for a scientific reason, you are looking for a prime mover, for a creator, for a designer with HIS OWN mysterious reasons and not so mysterious reasons involving us, aren't you?

    But you're a smart guy Eric, supposedly an ex-atheist, like C.S.Lewis?

    Can you not see that the questions are loaded to 'reasonably' only have the solution that you're looking for?

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  179. Fair enough. Now can you provide me with any arguments supporting its existence?
    -------------
    Absolutely. They were discovered in my printer. A miracle, to be sure.

    The point being, *neither can you!*

    If you're thinking of the Bible here as your supporting documentation, there's nothing there EITHER, dude. All heresay, really old, old heresay, obvious myths, even rumors. Not one iota of PROOF, sir. Case dismissed.

    (You really can't grasp that the Bible is all just made up, can you?)

    ;-)

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  180. And as to the famous christian apologists, they should be. Apologizing. For being such blatant liars for their religion.

    Saint Thomas Aquinas is a silly old fart who probably lied even to his own reflection just out of sheer habit. Face it. You'll live a more fruitful life if you do. Just imagine, not having to prevaricate to everyone all the time, yourself included.... now wouldn't that almost be 'heaven?'

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  181. Watched that vid, Eric...

    That old dude OWNED the christian, didn't he? Cool. Wow. I loved his style. The audience was obviously a bunch of silly religious fools, but that old dude ruled, even if they were too lowbrow to even see it.
    Thanks! Awesone clip.

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  182. Ryan, pboy, harvey et al, you guys should see that clip on eric's last post to me... the 'it's been tried before' one...
    Tell me, yes or no... didn't that old british guy utterly destroy that goddidit dude?

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  183. Brian; my thoughts exactly, but Eric apparently doesn't think so.

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  184. Yeah, I guess... But, heck, I mean, that guy kept demonstrating over and over again how all the christian's arguments were just assumptions, and then at the end the christians big trump card response was 'well, that's god then' I just about split a side. It's like the response of a twelve year old in special ed. He wasn't LISTENING to that other guy's responses at all, didn't get what he was so sucessfully doing to his arguments. Never even saw it. Sad.

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  185. Eric:
    I did view the video before my last post to you. I think I understood your reasons for linking us to it, as it did, indeed, provide yet another example of these same arguments in the past. To me, however, it actually supported the idea that that Dr Craig was reduced to "defining" the other discussant's facetiously offered "computer" as God, since it was presented as having the characteristics believers choose to accept for their Deity.
    However.....
    "Unlike those atheists who think they "have reason and logic on their side," I've always said that atheism is a rationally tenable position (and agnosticism is even better), but that in my opinion, as I've studied the arguments on both sides, the theistic arguments are the stronger arguments. Some honest, intelligent and informed people draw the opposite conclusion. When atheists reach their conclusions as I've reached mine -- i.e. largely through reason -- we can discuss the issues that divide us."

    It seems to me that that you are doing the same thing here. You suggest that your God must have certain characteristics (coincidentally based upon those generally accepted by the Abrahamic religions) and then use logic to conclude that IF such an entity exists, then it MUST have those characteristics. As I see it, most of us non-believers would say,: "There does not appear to be any good reason to accept the characteristics you have put forward, at least no more than any other theoretical construct or explanation for our understanding of the Universe that Man can devise, save only, perhaps, our historical propensity to create a Deity in every culture that we know about." The protagonists in the video essentially made this statement by describing a "computer" with the characteristics of the Abrahamic God, clearly tongue in cheek and intending to demonstrate the flimsiness of the Dr Craig's arguments. In any event, who says that "atheists (must) reach their conclusions as I've reached mine --" in order to refute your arguments? Your conclusions have been reached in your own way; ours are not so much conclusions, but failure to see any evidence that your conclusions are valid or in any way necessary for us to live a fully rational life within the confines of the observable and (thus far) knowable Universe.

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  186. The protagonists in the video essentially made this statement by describing a "computer" with the characteristics of the Abrahamic God, clearly tongue in cheek and intending to demonstrate the flimsiness of the Dr Craig's arguments.
    -----------------
    Agreed, tongue-in-cheek, but also clearly all actually POSSIBLE examples, including the 'self-programming computer' which I've even put forth as a possible explanation of my pet "BB" speculations. The point being, the christian ASSumed that such answers were not possible and it was just that old guy being a smartass or something, when the answers, tongue-in-cheek as they may have been, silly-sounding as they might have been, were no more IMPOSSIBLE than any deity. (Nor any sillier, for that matter; in fact, significantly *less* silly than theism, unorthodox as they may have sounded.)

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  187. So, I did remember a bit from our conversation in the spring about the Kaalam Cosmological argument that is germane to the clip you posted. It’s all about conflation with the apologists, it seems. Just like the WLC technically argues for a very narrowly defined “god”, it’s my opinion that he does nothing to disabuse his audience (the choir!) to read the word with the same disciple required to make his argument work. It seems to me he’s fine (given how he proceeds) with everyone reading “Little Baby Jesus” instead of “Theoretical first cause”.

    And in the very same way, it seems to me that he’s subtly trying to achieve more than he’s due by using the term “personal”. His argument for a personal god gets him nothing more than “Theoretical first cause” that had to exert some sort of will at least once. And there are better words to use, more honest words, then “Personal”. But he uses that word anyway and this audience eats it up because they think his arguments supports their belief that they can have a “personal” relationship with “Little Baby Jesus”.

    It's all about define the term as you require it, then loosening the definition as much as possible to achieve as much as possible. It’s this type of subtle dishonesty that does more damage to these argument then any counter argument ever could. At least as far as I’m concerned.

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  188. I think that perhaps Eric has given up.

    He's smart enough to know when his cover is blown.

    By excluding hard science from the 'question of God', theistic philosophy tries to tell us that the question 'belongs to them'.

    But we're AREN'T left with 'nothing at all' without hard science to play with, no.

    We're left with the soft sciences, psychology, sociology etc. which might include philosophy in some people's minds.

    The trouble with these soft sciences is that they overlap and tend to cover a broad scope and tend to touch on stuff like, "What would a person 'in their right mind' do? 'What's a person in their right mind' to think?

    The 'natural law' of C.S.Lewis is social science which we practice every time we communicate with others and there is logic and reason to it, but it concerns interactions.

    So, under the guise of philosophy, theists can practice social science, loading questions, seemingly quite reasonably and logically, which is aimed at having your debate opponent agree that the universe is a social interaction, hence, between personalities.

    I think we can take Eric(E)'s silence as a "YES! YOU'RE RIGHT!", here.

    I think that the trouble with trying to teach 'the controversy' is that some of the people you teach, may learn.

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  189. But Ryan, "personal", "little baby Jesus", "morals" etc. are social terms.

    Apparently, what we atheists 'don't see' is the social function of religion and the completely twisted logic and reasoning behind their beliefs.

    "Science will never answer our basic 'ultimate questions', such as 'Why is there a universe!"

    This is a simple trick. It's a statement defining the universe in terms of social science, specifically excluding hard science.

    So there can be only one 'answer' to this 'ultimate' question, a socially interactive one.

    We are 'logically' and 'reasonably' strong-armed into saying that the answer has to do with morals, goodness, love etc.

    So, the upshot of this is that I-was-an-atheist-Eric(E) switched from the hard science perspective, to the social science perspective, mixing and matching when he feels it benefits his arguments, as if he doesn't REALISE that he has made this change.

    Lame sauce.

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  190. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  191. "I think that perhaps Eric has given up."

    No, I wrote a long post yesterday in which I responded to a number of points, but it ended up as yet another 'phantom' post, and I haven't yet felt like going through all the posts a second time.

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  192. "No, I wrote a long post yesterday in which I responded to a number of points, but it ended up as yet another 'phantom' post..."

    Eric,

    For once in complete accord. Blogger's got some anomalies that will destroy your post, or my favorite latest one, is say that it's too long, but it posts it anyway. And you end up looking like a shmuck by publishing it two or three times....

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