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God is Nonexistent

who is god?Does God exist? I don’t think so. But can we prove that?

Proving that God doesn’t exist—or, more generally, that no supernatural beings exist—is impossible as far as I can tell. An omniscient being wanting to remain hidden would succeed. That’s a game of hide and seek we could never win.

To see what we can say about God, let’s look for parallels in how we handle other beings not acknowledged by science—Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, space aliens, leprechauns, fairies, or Merlin the shape-shifting wizard. Any evidence in favor of these beings is sketchy, far too little to conclude that they exist. Do we reserve judgment? Do we say that the absence of evidence is no evidence of absence? Of course not. There’s plenty of evidence (or lack of evidence) to make a strong provisional case. In fact, in common parlance we say that these things don’t exist.

While we’re at it, note the error in the adage “absence of evidence is no evidence of absence.” Of course it’s evidence! Absence of evidence is no proof of absence, but it can certainly be strong evidence. If you’ve spent five minutes poking through that drawer looking for your keys and still can’t find them, that’s pretty strong evidence of their absence.

Note also the difference in the claim that Bigfoot doesn’t exist versus the claim that God doesn’t exist. Science has been blindsided by new animals in the past. The gorilla, coelacanth, okapi, and giant squid were all surprises, and Bigfoot could be another. After all, Bigfoot is just another animal and we know of lots of animals. But the very category of the Christian claim is a problem. Science recognizes zero supernatural beings.

As definitively as science says that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, how much more definitively can science say that God doesn’t exist when the category itself is hypothetical? Perhaps more conclusively, what about the claim that a god exists who desperately wants to be known to his creation, as is the case for the Christian god?

Let’s be careful to remember the limitations on the claim, “God doesn’t exist.” Science is always provisional. Any claim could be wrong—from matter being made of atoms to disease being caused by germs. As Austin Cline said in “Scientifically, God Does Not Exist,” a scientific statement “X doesn’t exist” is shorthand for the more precise statement:

This alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.

The Christian may well respond to science’s caution, “Well, if you’re not certain, I am!” But, of course, confidence isn’t the same as accuracy. This bravado falls flat without dramatic evidence to back it up.

Now, back to the original question, Does God exist? Does this look like a world with a god in it? If God existed, shouldn’t that be obvious? What we see instead is a world in which believers are forced to give excuses for why God isn’t present.

Or, let’s imagine the opposite—a world without God. This would be a world where praying for something doesn’t increase its likelihood; where faith is necessary to mask the fact that God’s existence is not apparent; where no loving deity walks beside you in adversity; where far too many children live short and painful lives because of malnutrition, abuse, injury, or birth defects; and where there is only wishful thinking behind the ideas of heaven and hell.

Look around, because that’s the world you’re living in.

But this isn’t an anarchist’s paradise; it’s a world where people live and love and grow, and where every day ordinary people do heroic and noble things for the benefit of strangers. Where warm spring days and rosy sunsets aren’t made by God but explained by Science, and where earthquakes happen for no good reason and people strive to leave the world a better place than it was when they entered it. God isn’t necessary to explain any of this. Said another way, there is no functional difference between a world with a hidden god and one with no god.

Listen closely to Christian apologists and you’ll see that they admit the problem. The typical apologetic approach is to:

  1. make deist arguments (for example, the existence of morality or design demands a deity to create it)
  2. argue that this deity is the Christian god rather than the god of some other religion.

Mr. Apologist, are your deist arguments convincing? If so, you should be a deist, not a Christian. And why is the first step necessary? It’s because the Christian god is functionally nonexistent—you admit this yourself.

The God hypothesis isn’t necessary. God has no measurable impact on the universe, and science needn’t sit on the sidelines. There is enough evidence to render a judgment.

We apparently have natural disasters whether there is one god, 20 gods, or no god. Prayers are answered with the same likelihood whether you pray to Zeus, the Christian god, or a jug of milk. Religion is what you invent when you don’t have Science.

Can we say that anything doesn’t exist? With certainty, probably not. But with the confidence that we can say that anything doesn’t exist—leprechauns, fairies, or Merlin the wizard—we can say that God doesn’t.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect
if there is, at bottom,
no design, no purpose, no evil and no good,
nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
– Richard Dawkins

Photo credit: Philosophy Monkey

Related posts:

Related links:

  • August Cline, “Scientifically, God Does Not Exist: Science Allows us to Say God Does Not Exist,” About.com.

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Karl Udy

    Bob,
    I have some sympathies with you regarding the trend among apologists to spend a large amount of their time on deist arguments.

    I also agree that that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” would be more accurately phrased “absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence”.

    I think you are barking up the wrong tree though when you say that science recognizes zero supernatural beings. Science cannot recognize many things. Science will never discover a number, for example. Are you going to argue for the non-existence of numbers based on the inability of science to recognize them?

    If we want to play the game of imagining a world without God, try imagining a world where there is no meaning, where there are no jokes, where no one can even begin to understand the concept of God because nothing is transcendent, where every being is fatalistic to the extreme because “from chance we came, and into oblivion we go”, a world where no one cares if anything is right or wrong, or good or bad, or true or false, or beautiful or ugly, or … the list goes on.

    And although science may be able to explain why a sunset is rosy it doesn’t have a hope of explaining why we should attach any value to it.

    Blaise Pascal once said that “there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows for those who don’t.”

    The fact is that you can always find a rationale for your skepticism about God.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Science will never discover a number, for example.

      If you mean that it’s different than discovering an element or a new continent, sure. However, I don’t see this highlighting an inability on the part of science.

      try imagining a world where there is no meaning…

      Is this what a godless world would look like? You have the burden of proof of showing us this.

      You know of Douglas Adams’ puddle? A puddle wakes up one day and thinks, “Y’know, it never occurred to me how nicely my hole is tailored to me. Where I go out, the hole goes out; where I go in, the hole goes in. It’s like it was tailor made for me. No–it must have been tailor made!”

      This is the error we must avoid. Truth is, we have adapted to our environment, not the other way around. We are well tailored to our world (and recognize meaning, jokes, etc.; and have a sense of right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, etc.) by evolution.

      although science may be able to explain why a sunset is rosy it doesn’t have a hope of explaining why we should attach any value to it.

      It explains why we have attached value to it. Evolution is that explanation.

      Blaise Pascal once said that “there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows for those who don’t.”

      OK. Why does this look like a world that holds a loving god who created us and desperately wants us to know him? Pascal’s world looks like a godless world. Why not draw that conclusion?

      The fact is that you can always find a rationale for your skepticism about God.

      I agree. And not all apologists would say that (wish they would).

      But then why believe? Why is believing not wishful thinking? Don’t you have more than enough evidence to conclude that god belief is simply a flaw in reasoning made by imperfect brains?

      • Orbital Teapot

        ««« Evolution is that explanation. »»»

        No it isn’t. Evolution explains facts, it does not teach us what we SHOULD value. Evolution may explain morality empirically, but it does not GROUND it.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Evolution explains facts, it does not teach us what we SHOULD value.

          It explains why we do value what we do. Science doesn’t give us “It’s nice to help people”; instead, it tells us why our programming tells us “it’s nice to help people.”

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          I think you are greatly exaggerating the constraints evolution puts on our moral brain. Actually, xenophobia and war are natural, as E.O. Wilson says in his latest book, yet we are not under any constraint to accept them today. We have human rights. Selfishness is natural too, the outcome of billions of years of individual selection. Yet we have the power to limit it for a greater good. Loyalty to a group is natural, but some people are free enough to challenge injustices that happen within a group. Polygyny is natural, but many of us are able to see how evil it is.

          So we don’t get all our values from nature. Sometimes, our values challenge our instincts.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You seem to imagine that we have a clear list of good traits (generosity, love) and bad traits (xenophobia, selfishness). I don’t see it that way. Too much generosity is bad; a little selfishness is good.

          Society can change how it emphasizes a constraint or an encouragement (eg, xenophobia was encouraged to some extent during WW2). I don’t know where we go with this, but I certainly don’t see any sort of transcendental or objective moral truth.

      • Karl Udy

        If you mean that it’s different than discovering an element or a new continent, sure. However, I don’t see this highlighting an inability on the part of science.

        I’m not sure I completely understand you. Do you agree that there are truths that science cannot discover? And if so, what sort of truths would they be?

        OK. Why does this look like a world that holds a loving god who created us and desperately wants us to know him? Pascal’s world looks like a godless world. Why not draw that conclusion?

        It’s a world where our choices, including what we choose about God, matter.

  • Bob Calvan

    Bob’s sound bite is ” Where is the evidence”. And that is all it is just a sound bite. Evidence can be seen by two different people and how the evidence will be interpreted is by their presuppositions. Every human on the face of the earth starts with their presuppositions. Their basic beliefs. Here is an example.
    A man truly believes that he is dead. His wife, children, psychologist tell him and give him examples why he is not dead. But to no avail the man stills says he is dead. This is his presupposition. So his wife says we will go to the doctor a medical science expert to see if you are dead. The man say fine. So they go to the doctor . The doctor looks at the man and asks him ” Do dead men bleed” And the man says ” No dead men do not bleed”. So the doctor takes a pin and pricks the mans fingertip and the man bleeds. So the man looks at the blood on his finger ( Empirical evidence) And says ” Wow! Dead men do bleed”.

    And the Bible ( the absolute standard of truth) says there are no atheists. Bible says all men know God . So Bob does know God and for some reason rejects God. So all the evidence for God His creation, the complexity of the human body, the laws of logic, morality, and science Bob see’s but through his presupposition takes this evidence and says Wow dead men do bleed.

    One could give all the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. The Christian by his presuppositions will say this is a miracle and strengthen his Christian faith. Some people will say all the evidence does not prove anything to me. And even some will say . Yes, the evidence that this man rose from the dead is over whelming and I believe it. And someday science will tell us how this happened. So the last man still does no hold to the God of the Bible and says science will explain this unusual event in the future. My point is evidence is only as good as one’s presuppositions. And their are no atheist’s . All men know God but have their personal reasons why they reject Him.

    But the unbeliever can not account for the world he lives in. He can not account for Morality, reason, Logic, or how Science works. Only the Christian worldview can account for this.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Where is your evidence that the Bible is “the absolute standard of truth”?

      One could give all the evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

      Or one could give the evidence for the existence of Shiva or Quetzalcoatl. This will strengthen the faith of believers, but the Christian and the atheist will both shake their heads and wonder how people couldn’t see through this sham.

      My point is evidence is only as good as one’s presuppositions.

      Translation: “Yeah, I know that my vision is clouded by presuppositions and that I have them in abundance. But instead of trying to see things clearly, without presuppositions, I’ll argue instead that you have them, too!

      Personally, I’d rather minimize my presuppositions. Science does that. Scientists keep each other honest, and it’s a good thing when one scientist finds an error in the work of others. Science is self-correcting. Religion isn’t.

      Only the Christian worldview can account for this.

      Been there. Debunked that.

  • Orbital Teapot

    To Bob S,

    Like it or not, many people have experienced God or some transcendent reality in their heart. It’s just wrong that God hides: for the people I am speaking of, God is part of their lives. You have had no such experience, fine: neither have I. But don’t claim it never happens.

    It’s like the heterosexual homophobe that is convinced that homosexuality is a choice because he cannot figure out what it is like not to be attracted by people of the other sex.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      People have experienced something. Is it God? Or is it just odd firings in the brain? We know that the brain is quite imperfect (optical illusions, mental illness, cognitive biases, etc.), so the latter explanation seems very much in the running.

      You’re right that we can’t judge people with, “Well, it doesn’t work for me that way, so therefore that way is invalid.” Nevertheless, there’s little to point to the supernatural explanation, it seems to me.

      • Orbital Teapot

        All other things being equal, when someone experiences something, it is ground to believe that what that one experiences is real. In other words, the default stance is that an experience is reliable.

        Even scientists need this principle when it comes to gathering data.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          When you hear or see things that aren’t there, that your experience is real is not a good explanation since we know about hallucinations. We find the most plausible explanation.

        • Orbital Teapot

          Yes, we know about hallucinations, but we don’t assume that what we see around us is one, at least not before we take the red pill Morpheus gives us. Likewise, if someone experiences inside of him the presence of a transcendent being, it is sound to think that this presence is real, at least until we have evidence that such an experience is an illusion.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          OT:

          When we have a truly nutty experience, we don’t say, “Well, experience always takes precedent, so I must assume that my experience is a valid description of reality.” We consider if mundane explanations are sufficient (hallucinations, drugs, lack of sleep or food, wishful thinking, etc.).

          Don’t you agree that we consider explanations in most-likely order?

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          As for “nutty experiences” such as hallucinations, those vanish when we compare them with more stable and publicly shared sensory experiences with which they conflict.

          When there is a conflict between two perceptions, it is sensible to stick to the more reliable one, and/or to ask someone else for help.

          However, most religious experiences, especially the mild ones, don’t conflict with external perceptions. They are just one part of one’s picture of the world. Things are different with psychotic or temporal-lobe epileptic religious experiences*, which are clearly linked to brain diseases. But people with strong mental health experience God. In some instances, they experience psychological healing at the same time.

          * I suspect that Paul and Muhammad had each some kind of temporal-lobe epilepsy.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          When there is a conflict between two perceptions, it is sensible to stick to the more reliable one, and/or to ask someone else for help.

          Right. And “I’m just talking to myself” or “I’m deluding myself” are pretty reliable explanations when we imagine that God is telling us to do something. These are natural explanations, and these self-delusions are experienced by everyone.

      • Orbital Teapot

        No Bob,

        Most people who experience God or a higher being or the presence of the Holy don’t report hearing voices or visual hallucinations.

        Sure, they may just say that their experience of God is an illusion, just as someone else may say that he lives in the Matrix or in a permanent vivid dream, but why should they believe any of these things? If I experience something, all other things being equal I will believe my experience. It’s plain commonsense. If my experience is an illusion, it should be measured by the standard of a better experience, or a better testimony. Or in some instances by the standard of a foolproof reasoning.

        But I don’t think most experiences of God, at least at their cores, disagree with other experiences. It’s true that the religious don’t report the same experiences, but it does not mean that those are nothing but cultural or psychological constructs. For instance, when an accident occurs, the witnesses need not report exactly the same thing. The accident is still real whatever the witnesses thought they saw.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Most people who experience God or a higher being or the presence of the Holy don’t report hearing voices or visual hallucinations.

          Agreed. They experience instead the even less reliable feeling that God is nudging them this way or that. The same kinds of insights or Aha! moments or vague feelings that we all get. That don’t need supernatural explanations.

          If I experience something, all other things being equal I will believe my experience.

          Do I understand what you’re talking about? How is this experience you’re talking about differ from any experience that I might have? How does it differ from a natural experience?

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          You have had no such experience. Why claim that you understand what it is like? It’s a bit like a guy who is trying to convince me that chocolate is tastier than vanilla, but who did not taste vanilla…

          Believers really feel the presence of God. May it be an illusion? Sure. Our experience of the physical world may be, too. But until new evidence turns up, it is advisable to stick to one’s experience as a reliable clue to the truth.

          May it be that such believers claim they are in touch with God to achieve status and dominance? A few of them, undoubtedly, but many others are humble and have no need for power. In one instance, a child with mental retardation just claimed that she experienced God.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Old Testament Teapot (I mean: just Teapot):

          Why claim that you understand what it is like?

          Because I thought it’d been adequately explained to me. But I’m concerned that I don’t get it, which is why I asked in the last comment.

          Believers really feel the presence of God. May it be an illusion? Sure.

          It’s easy to imagine that people impute to their own insights or ideas godly motives. A natural, easy-to-accept explanation. To imagine anything supernatural would take a vast amount of evidence.

          it is advisable to stick to one’s experience as a reliable clue to the truth.

          Agreed. We have fallible brains, and self-deception happens to us all the time. At one extreme, rationalizing that one cookie at lunch won’t hurt the diet much; at the other, that God is giving us vague clues.

  • Rick T

    You are committing a category error here. Of course science can’t proove God’s existence if He doesn’t want to be discovered, as you point out above. But then you use science to demonstrate there is no god in a number of inadequate ways above. Of course physical science can’t find something that is not physical. It is like me telling you, based on the extensive research I’ve done with my car, there is no natural gas under my house. (Guess I needed drilling technology instead of a car. Category error.)

    Let’s leave the experimental science out of it and use philosophical science. Describe how order comes into being from disorder, and give examples. That would be a good start. Show us where this happens in defiance of the second law of thermodynamics. The calling card of God is there. You just have to be open to thinking out of the science box and looking at the bigger picture of the universe, the physical laws, matter, etc.

    Where did God come from? Don’t know. But He is the best explanation for what we see around us that we have. Evolution can’t do it, and you can’t provide evidence of spontaneous generation of a single complex system, over time or not, nor of the first cell spontaneously forming from the ooze. Rethink the big picture. Your explanations are simply inadequate.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Of course physical science can’t find something that is not physical.

      Fair enough. But that’s not what we’re talking about. No category error.

      The Christian claim isn’t that there’s a supernatural realm that keeps to itself and doesn’t affect our world. Rather, it’s that being(s) in that realm interact with and change our world. The Christian claim is very much a testable (in principle) scientific claim.

      Describe how order comes into being from disorder, and give examples.

      Like an oak tree coming from an acorn?

      Show us where this happens in defiance of the second law of thermodynamics.

      I know of no such example. Certainly the growth of the oak tree is no such violation.

      You just have to be open to thinking out of the science box …

      Science has taught us about reality. Why leave that box? Seems to be working pretty well, and (most important) we have no other candidate routes to knowledge about reality.

      But He is the best explanation for what we see around us that we have.

      “God did it” is a fantastic explanation. It can’t be falsified. But then, so does “the Pink People from Pluto did it.”

      Kinda makes it a useless explanation, now that I think about it.

      Evolution can’t do it

      Evolution can’t explain what evolution was never meant to explain, sure. If you’re referring to an explanation of why life on earth is the way it is, evolution is the best explanation we’ve got. Sorry.

      • Rick Townsend

        So you are using an acorn, which contains all the DNA for the tree, as an example of increased complexity from random cause? Seriously??

        If you are going to equate evidences for God with pink people from Pluto, I simply have no response. Such silliness isn’t very convincing for your side. Enjoy the last word on that issue, and celebrate the pink people you made up.

        NO evolution isn’t the best explanation WE’ve got. It’s ALL YOU are wiling to consider. This is shallow thinking.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          So you are using an acorn, which contains all the DNA for the tree, as an example of increased complexity from random cause? Seriously??

          Do you ever read what you write? Or is it just stream of consciousness or something? ‘Cause this makes no sense.

          You asked for examples of order from disorder. I helpfully quoted your request so that the context would be clear. So you read that and are stupefied that I didn’t answer another, unasked question?

          You asked for an example of order from disorder. So I provided one. Seriously.

          If you are going to equate evidences for God with pink people from Pluto, I simply have no response. Such silliness isn’t very convincing for your side.

          There is more evidence for God, but it’s paltry. That puts God in the Pink People category. Bluster all you want, but those outside your religion think that your “evidence” is insufficient. The equivalent evidence for another religion would be insufficient for you, I’m sure.

          NO evolution isn’t the best explanation WE’ve got. It’s ALL YOU are wiling to consider. This is shallow thinking.

          More examples of my “shallow thinking”: I’m not a biologist, and I am only willing to consider germ theory as an explanation for infectious illness–’cause it’s the consensus view. I’m also not a physicist, and I refuse to consider any explanation for how matter is formed than atomic theory. Again, because it’s the consensus view. I’m consistently “shallow” by your definition because I acknowledge my limitations and always accept the scientific consensus (where there is one).

          Yeah, I get that you don’t operate this way. Show me why your approach is sensible. (Looks a bit like hubris to me.)

  • Orbital Teapot

    To RT,

    ««« Describe how order comes into being from disorder, and give examples. »»»

    Actually, it is precisely what happened when Latin evolved into French. French is more complex than Latin overall. Yet no one suggests that there was an intelligent designer behind the evolution of French. And no Frenchman or Frenchwoman had enough power at any time to consciously shape the way French would be spoken. French became more complex through a series of accidents, period.

    • Rick Townsend

      So you are using a change in language brought about by intelligent agents who had the capability to develop new terms over time as an example of randomness creating complexity? News flash — These humans, just to recap history, also used ingenuity to send men to the moon. You can’t use something accomplished within the history of man’s creativity (imbued by the creator, I would suggest, but that’s an aside) as an example in favor of increased complexity.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        as an example of randomness creating complexity?

        You didn’t ask for examples of randomness creating complexity; you asked for examples of order from disorder. I think OT has given that to you.

      • Orbital Teapot

        Sure, language is spoken by intelligent people, but it does not mean that language is intelligently designed. No one decided one day that Latin should evolve into French and that the grammar of the new language would have such and such features. People have some limited influence over the lexicon, but it was very uncommon in the past (especially in the Dark Ages) that new words stuck because they were intelligently designed. Most of the time, the words people used were beyond the control of individual agents. Language is not a natural phenomenon, but neither is it intelligently designed by some agents. It is a cultural tradition.

  • Bob Calvan

    “Evolution can’t explain what evolution was never meant to explain, sure. If you’re referring to an explanation of why life on earth is the way it is, evolution is the best explanation we’ve got. Sorry.”

    Huh? Evolutuion is descriptive tells us what is the case.. It is not prescriptive which tell us what ought to be the case. Evolution can not tell us why. Only the Christian worldview can tell us this.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, evolution is descriptive. So what?

      And you can’t simply assert that the Christian worldview gives us anything without evidence to support your position.

  • Ernst Ghermann

    God is real in the sense that he exists in people’s imagination. Outside of that, he has no reality.

  • Bob Calvan

    TO EMST
    “God is real in the sense that he exists in people’s imagination. Outside of that, he has no reality.”
    How do you know that? And how do you account for reality in your worldview?

  • Bob Calvan

    Bob says;

    ” Science has taught us about reality. Why leave that box? Seems to be working pretty well, and (most important) we have no other candidate routes to knowledge about reality…”

    Bob and his “Science” sound bites. Bob, science works on the principles of induction and the uniformity of nature. Tell us Bob. How does your atheistic worldview account for the uniformity of nature? Science only works because the future will be like the past. How do you account for the future being like the past? For you to make any scientific claim you must borrow from the Christian worldview to make you claim and then reject the Christian worldview to argue your claim. Inconsistency and arbitrary. Science and the new learnings in science will not work unless the future is like the past. So tell us Christians how the future is is like the past? Only the Christian worldview can account for the uniformity of nature as God tells us in Gen 8:22.

    And Bob next tells us about reality? Bob how do you know what you know? How do you know what is real is real in your worldview?

    Only the Christian worldview can account for reason, logic, morality, and science. The proof of the Christian God is without Him you can prove nothing. The atheistic worldview is bankrupted and leads to absurdity, arbitrariness, and as Bob has show relativism.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      How do you account for the future being like the past?

      Is it? It’s certainly not identical to the past. Whatever it is, show me that this is unexpected. Show me that we should’ve (without some divine intervention) seen a world where the future was a surreal mess with no connection to the past.

      And, keep in mind that your evidence-less assertion “Well, if you can’t explain it, Christianity can!” is useless.

      I keep hoping that you’re going to give me something challenging. You’re just a broken record with your short list of from the Fun Arguments to Try with Atheists! book. Here’s a tip: get a more compelling set of arguments.

  • Rick Townsend

    Bob’s comment: You asked for an example of order from disorder. So I provided one. Seriously.

    Mea Culpa. I said randomness instead of increasing complexity. You still didn’t provide an example of increased complexity. The acorn still doesn’t count. Do you read what you write? Do you simply find nits and use them to pick away and never answer the question? Seriously??

    Where is the increasing complexity? The acorn to the tree still doesn’t work, and in my incredulity that you would propose such a non-answer, I was sloppy in my answer.

    I will try to watch that in the future, and would appreciate you simply answering the issue without being so condescending yourself. That doesn’t really advance your argument, does it? It’s your blog and if that’s the way you want to treat those who add hits to your site, feel free. I will simply stop making the effort if you prefer.

    This is not fun.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Where is the increasing complexity?

      An oak tree is no more complex than an acorn? Is that your position? If so, I don’t know how to make progress on this question.

      The acorn to the tree still doesn’t work, and in my incredulity that you would propose such a non-answer, I was sloppy in my answer.

      Yeah, totally understandable. That I would argue that a 20-ton oak tree (with branches and leaves, roots, bark, xylem and phloem for transport through the trunk, and so on) is in any way more complex than a single acorn weighing a few grams and having none of these features … wow. I can see how you’d be flummoxed.

      I will try to watch that in the future, and would appreciate you simply answering the issue without being so condescending yourself.

      Sorry–what am I being accused of? What I think happened was that you asked for an example of X, I provided (what I thought was) a good example, and then you were outraged that I didn’t provide an example of Y. If you’re saying that I didn’t telepathically understand what you were really asking, I’m guilty, but I’m not sure that that demands an apology.

      • Rick T

        I really can’t tell if you are being obtuse, argumentative or just plain difficult here. The complex programming to turn a single cell into a seed, then an acorn, then a tree which produces a seed, etc., etc., makes the DNA sequencing more complex than either the tree or the acorn. So your point is clearly lost on me. Can you help me understand why you seem to be so impressed with your cleverness here?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I really can’t tell if you are being obtuse, argumentative or just plain difficult here.

          Obtuse is possible. Not so the other two.

          Can you help me understand why you seem to be so impressed with your cleverness here?

          Do you mean “Can you help me understand your point?”? I’m not sure why we need to drag my arrogance and pomposity into the discussion.

          A mature oak tree has roughly 10 million times the number of cells as an acorn does (rough calculation). Each isn’t just a pile of identical cells but differentiated cells connected into a living thing. That makes an oak tree far more complex than the acorn (roughly 10 million times more complex, I would say).

          But this is obvious to both of us, so I must be missing the issue.

          You said, “Where is the increasing complexity?” This answers the question in my mind. If it doesn’t in yours, then I clearly am not understanding the question.

  • Bob Calvan

    Bob said:

    Is it? It’s certainly not identical to the past. Whatever it is, show me that this is unexpected. Show me that we should’ve (without some divine intervention) seen a world where the future was a surreal mess with no connection to the past.

    Looks like I did not make myself clear or Bob does not understand how science works? Bob for science to work we must have ” uniformity of nature” . We must know that water will boil at 212 degrees tomorrow, and next year ( In the future) as it did yesterday and last year ( in the past). Science can not be done unless the “future is like the past”. How does the atheist worldview where everything is random chance and molecules in motion account for the Future to be like the past? Tell us how the future will be like the past in your worldview? The Christian worldview can account for the uniformity of nature through the Bible Genesis 8:22.

    You have to this day failed to account for Science , the laws of logic and morality. Only the Christian worldview can account for it. For you to use science , reasoning, and morality you must borrow from the Christian worldview. And you bet I will bring this up as you have failed to account for it.

    After you tell us how you know the future will be like the past. Tell us where the “laws of logic” come from. Tell us how universal, abstract , invariant laws exist in a material world. Can you stub your toe on the laws of logic?

    The Christian worldview can account for logic. Logic is not made of matter, logic is universal, and it does not change. God is universal, not made of matter, and does not change. Your worldview is made of matter and constantly changes. The laws of logic are a reflection of the mind of God. Of course you may not like our answer but that is irrelevant we can account for the laws of logic and they make sense in the Christian worldview how do account for the laws of logic? You can not reason without the laws of logic so how do you account for your reasoning? Do you reason that your reasoning is valid? that is viscously circular. The atheist can not account for science, logic and morality, and you have failed to show your readers how you account for these basic issues of life.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      for science to work we must have ” uniformity of nature” .

      And your challenge is to show that uniformity of nature is unexpected or surprising. That we should expect (in a godless world) something measurably different than what we see in ours.

      The ball’s in your court.

      Only the Christian worldview can account for it.

      We could invent a myriad of religions that could account for it. Accounting for it isn’t the trick. Accounting for it with justification is the trick. You need to show that your religion isn’t like any other Tom, Dick, or Harry religion that could make the same pompous, evidence-less claims that you do.

      The Christian worldview can account for logic.

      A simple “God dun it!” is good enough? Maybe for you, but not for the rest of us. Gotta have that evidence!

  • Bob Calvan

    I love it when Bob ask’s for evidence. Bob defined evidence as that which can be empirically verified.If it can’t be empirically verified it is not evidence. So I then ask you Bob that since only that which can be empirically verified is evidence would they please empirically verify your contention that only that which can be empirically Verified is evidence!

    You have taken this proposition as a self evident truth and indeed is nothing more than a presupposition you will give ma a blank stare. However your proposition is self refuting so it cannot be true since by your own standards of what qualifies as evidence cannot be empirically demonstrated.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      So you pretend to be the champion of evidence? I’m afraid I’m not buying that.

      Why claim that I provide no evidence when you have no use for it?

      This will be a foreign concept to you, since you only demand evidence and never provide it (that I remember), but a scientific approach to knowledge seems to work pretty well. We try it, and it works. If it stopped working, we’d stop using it. There’s no proof involved, so your favorite attack–”Aha! That statement is self-refuting!” doesn’t apply.

  • eikos

    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect
    if there is, at bottom,
    no design, no purpose, no evil and no good,
    nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
    – Richard Dawkins

    “But this isn’t an anarchist’s paradise; it’s a world where people live and love and grow, and where every day ordinary people do heroic and noble things for the benefit of strangers. Where warm spring days and rosy sunsets aren’t made by God but explained by Science, and where earthquakes happen for no good reason and people strive to leave the world a better place than it was when they entered it.”

    I love the incoherence of atheists. We first quote Dawkins then refute Dawkins talking about nobility, heroism amd leavinng the world in a better place.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Nope, no refutation. Dawkins and I are on the same page.

      What Dawkins rejects is the idea of an objective moral truth, objective good and evil, and so on.

      • eikos

        Of course he does and so do you yet you assert that there is such a thing as nobility, heroism, better world. In your world view these do not exist they are mere names for your preferencesTo say something is better presumes something exists that is worse. But in your worldview there is neither worse or better,All there is is “is”. You cannot get an ought from an is.

        One could just as well say

        “But this isn’t an anarchist’s paradise; it’s a world where people live and xlple and grow, and where every day ordinary people do wklmn and lcvxy things for the benefit of strangers. Where warm spring days and rosy sunsets aren’t made by God but explained by Science, and where earthquakes happen for no good reason and people strive to leave the world a jpfrs place than it was when they entered it.”

        • eikos

          Bob,

          Do you hold to the position that there are no absolute truths?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Of course he does and so do you yet you assert that there is such a thing as nobility, heroism, better world.

          Of course. What I see no evidence for is an absolute form of these.

          In your world view these do not exist they are mere names for your preferences

          If we’re wondering what “nobility” (for example) is, the dictionary is helpful. I haven’t seen any requirement for anything absolute, transcendent, or objective in those definitions.

          You cannot get an ought from an is.

          Oh, dear–the atheist’s nightmare.

          It is the case that evolution gave us moral instincts that tell us we ought to do this and not do that. Not much a puzzle, IMO.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Do you hold to the position that there are no absolute truths?

          I suppose 1 + 1 = 2 might be an absolute truth (that is, true for all people in all times and places).

          What’s interesting is the question: Are there absolute moral truths? I’ve seen no evidence of this.

  • eikos

    Following up on Bob Calvans point the other Bob is so behind the times that he continue to espouse a philosophy to quote John Passmore “dead, or as dead as a philosophical movement ever becomes”

    From Wiki

    “Key tenets of logical positivism, including its atomistic philosophy of science, the verifiability principle, and the fact-value distinction, came under attack after the “Second World War by philosophers such as Nelson Goodman, Quine, J. L. Austin, and Peter Strawson. Nicholas G. Fotion comments that, “By the late 1960s it became obvious that the movement had pretty much run its course.”[17] Most philosophers consider logical positivism to be, as John Passmore expressed it, “dead, or as dead as a philosophical movement ever becomes.”[18] By the late 1970s, its ideas were so generally recognized to be seriously defective that one of its own main proponents, A. J. Ayer, could say in an interview: “I suppose the most important [defect]…was that nearly all of it was false.”[18] It retains an important place in the history of Analytic philosophy as the antecedent of contemporary philosophies, such as Constructive empiricism, Positivism and Postpositivism.”

    [edit] See also

    • Bob Seidensticker

      “Bob backs philosophy X, which has been discarded today” is useless. Respond directly to what I’m saying. Give me clear reasons why my argument or thinking is flawed.

  • eikos

    Because your argument is self refuting and incoherent unlesss you can empirically demonstrate that evidence is that which can be emperically verified . Your non answer to Bob has been noted. All you did there was to give a justification of why scientific evidence works but that was not the question Bob asked. All you was move the goal posts and hope no one notices.

    Bob did not ask you if science works pretty well did he? He asked

    “So I then ask you Bob that since only that which can be empirically verified is evidence would they please empirically verify your contention that only that which can be empirically Verified is evidence! ”

    How about answereing the question that was asked not the one he did not ask.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      The hypothesis, “following the scientific method delivers fairly reliable results” needs to be tested. We do so. We tune the method and try again. After a while, we have a decent way to handle evidence.

      Since you think you understand evidence better than I do, clarify for us the correct position. But keep in mind that Science has delivered a tsunami of pretty reliable information about the real world. It’s doing something right. You can say “You’re self-refuting!” all you want, but applying that to science is meaningless. Science works.

      Your non answer to Bob has been noted.

      I thought I could get away with my deception, but you’re too clever. Curses!

      • eikos

        “The hypothesis, “following the scientific method delivers fairly reliable results” needs to be tested. We do so”

        Bob I am not asking you to test any scienetific test!!! I am asking yoo to scientifically test your proposition that only that which can be empirically ( scientifically) verified is evidence.

        • eikos

          “I suppose 1 + 1 = 2 might be an absolute truth (that is, true for all people in all times and places). ”

          “Suppose”, “might be” so you are not sure if there are absolute truths?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          you are not sure if there are absolute truths?

          Correct.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I am asking yoo to scientifically test your proposition that only that which can be empirically ( scientifically) verified is evidence.

          I doubt it. I think you’re doing what you can to spring the punch line, “Aha! You’ve contradicted yourself! That’s a self-refuting statement! Bwa-ha-ha-ha! I win again!

          My approach to your little conundrum is to observe that science works. Do we agree on this? Whatever approach science uses–that we must seek well-verified evidence, say–works.

  • eikos

    Because your argument is self refuting and incoherent unlesss you can empirically demonstrate that evidence is (only) that which can be emperically verified

    • Orbital Teapot

      To eikos,

      The bottom line should be that whatever disagrees with empirical evidence is bound to be wrong. Even if empirical evidence is not everything.

      • eikos

        Eikos “I am asking yoo to scientifically test your proposition that only that which can be empirically ( scientifically) verified is evidence.”

        Bob “I doubt it”

        You doubt what?

        Bob ” I think you’re doing what you can to spring the punch line, “Aha! You’ve contradicted yourself! That’s a self-refuting statement! Bwa-ha-ha-ha! I win again!”

        Interesting response. You pass yourself off as an intellectual, ask others to defend and justify their positions but when you are asked to do the same you refuse. Thats intellectual dishonesty.

        You are making the claim that only that which can be emperically verified is evidence and I am asking you to defend that proposition by the very standard that you advocate. It is your standard not mine yet you refuse to do so. We both know why because your position is incohernet, illogical and self refuting thus irrational and false. What you are left with is to do just what you did was to mock the question as if it has no releveance.

        But here is the relevance . Because you are positing an incohernet, illogical, self refuting position you have entered the realm of irrationailty. If ones world view on what is the only source of acceptable evidence is irrational it cannot be taken seriously. The proposition that only that which can be empirically verified is evidence is false thus the foundation for your judgements or lack there of based on this false foundation are defective.

        Bob”My approach to your little conundrum is to observe that science works. Do we agree on this? Whatever approach science uses–that we must seek well-verified evidence, say–works.”

        I will not be going down any rabbit trails or get side tracked about whether science does or does not work unless and until you either empirically verify that your basic working thesis that only that which can be empirically verified is evidence or admit that the proposition you espouse is indeeed incoherent, illogical and self refuting because the proposition itself is not subject to emperical verification.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          It is your standard not mine yet you refuse to do so.

          Wrong again. I’ve done so several times, just not in the format that you prefer.

          I will not be going down any rabbit trails or get side tracked

          Translation: “Yes, that would indeed resolve the problem, but I have no interest in resolving the problem. I’m only interested in springing my little trap.”

        • eikos

          I already did–”the atheist’s nightmare,” remember?

          I said, ” It is the case that evolution gave us moral instincts that tell us we ought to do this and not do that.”

          Darwinian evolution is a totally random unguided non purposeful process with no goal in mind. It is a material process , materials do not give moral instincts. To put it in terms that even you might be able to understand. Hopefully we can agree a rock is made of material. To say that evolution is what gives us moral instincts is no diffirent than to say that a rock is what gives us moral instincts..

        • Bob Seidensticker

          BTW, here’s a post with a quick summary of how to show comments and formatting. FYI.

          http://crossexaminedblog.com/2011/12/26/html-101-for-more-expressive-comments/

          Darwinian evolution is a totally random

          It’s unguided, but it’s not totally random. Mutations are random; natural selection is not.

          Just a clarification.

          To put it in terms that even you might be able to understand. Hopefully we can agree a rock is made of material. To say that evolution is what gives us moral instincts is no diffirent than to say that a rock is what gives us moral instincts..

          Even this valiant–nay, noble–attempt at getting through my rock-like head has failed. But thanks for trying.

          You’ve agreed that evolution can give us instincts. I don’t see why moral ones are special. “Morality” is simply that category of principles dealing with appropriate behavior to other people.

        • eikos

          eikos “Wrong again. I’ve done so several times, just not in the format that you prefer.”

          This is just an outright flasehood. You have yet to subject your proposition to any empirical test.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          This is just an outright flasehood.

          Touché. I gave you a pass when I said that my response had simply been “not in the format that you prefer.” Closer to the truth would probably be to come right out and state that you’re not eager to resolve this issue and refuse to meet me anywhere near halfway in exploring this issue.

          Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

        • eikos

          Touché. I gave you a pass when I said that my response had simply been “not in the format that you prefer.” Closer to the truth would probably be to come right out and state that you’re not eager to resolve this issue and refuse to meet me anywhere near halfway in exploring this issue.

          Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.>/blockquote>

          Not only did you not give me a pass you also never gave me an answer. I am very eager to resolve this issue and it is easily resolvable. Emperically confirm your proposition that only that which can be empirically verified is evidence. There is no halfway. Either you can or you cant.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I am very eager to resolve this issue

          Excellent! Then consider my response to your question. I’ll repeat it: “My approach to your little conundrum is to observe that science works. Do we agree on this? Whatever approach science uses–that we must seek well-verified evidence, say–works.”

          Your phrasing of the issue is of the “When did you stop beating your wife?” variety–a naïve and transparent attempt to trap me into saying something embarrassing rather than an honest search for ideas and truth.

        • eikos

          “Excellent! Then consider my response to your question. I’ll repeat it: “My approach to your little conundrum is to observe that science works. Do we agree on this? Whatever approach science uses–that we must seek well-verified evidence, say–works.” Your phrasing of the issue is of the “When did you stop beating your wife?” variety–a naïve and transparent attempt to trap me into saying something embarrassing rather than an honest search for ideas and truth.”

          I am not tryinng to embarass you,what I am trying to do is dispel your cognitive dissonance and expose your hidden unscientific asumptions.

          When you hold to the position that evidence is only that which can be empirically verified you are making an incoherent, illogical and self refuting propososition. The proposition itself cannot be true because the proposition itself is not subject to empirical verification. Of course you know this at least you know this by now. This was the stake put in the heart of Logical Positivism. So your demand for scientific evidence as the final abritrator and judge as what is acceptable evidence is flawed.

          When you proclaim science works that is an argument for accepting it as a high order source of evidence which I heartily agree. However in my opinion it is not the only source of evidence nor even the highest order of evidence one can bring to the table.

          Having said that I would have no poroblem with you asserting that you” presuppose that evidence is only that which can be empirically verified.” I dont agreee with that presupposition but you are free to presuppose whatever you want. When you insist on accepting only empirical evidence you need to know that you are espousing a metaphysical position.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          So your demand for scientific evidence as the final abritrator and judge as what is acceptable evidence is flawed.

          Tell us what you recommend instead.

          When you insist on accepting only empirical evidence …

          Have I insisted this?

        • eikos

          So your demand for scientific evidence as the final abritrator and judge as what is acceptable evidence is flawed.

          Bob “Tell us what you recommend instead. ”

          I will time permitting sometime today

          So your demand for scientific evidence as the final abritrator and judge as what is acceptable evidence is flawed.
          When you insist on accepting only empirical evidence …

          Bob “Have I insisted this?

          From my take it seems that you do. Do you accept other forms of evidence? If so what?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          So your demand for scientific evidence as the final abritrator and judge as what is acceptable evidence is flawed.

          I have no idea what this refers to. Did I say, “scientific evidence is the final arbitrator”?

          If I’m being found guilty by this kangaroo court, I hope that I’ve at least committed the crime.

          From my take it seems that you do. Do you accept other forms of evidence? If so what?

          None that come to mind. But propose an alternative.

          And if we can put aside your attempt at entangling me in a self-refuting statement for a moment, can you respond to my question? Here it is: “My approach to your little conundrum is to observe that science works. Do we agree on this? Whatever approach science uses–that we must seek well-verified evidence, say–works.”

        • eikos

          So your demand for scientific evidence as the final abritrator and judge as what is acceptable evidence is flawed.
          “I have no idea what this refers to.”
          Sure you do its on this post “And if we can put aside your attempt at entangling me in a self-refuting statement for a moment” A self refuting statement cannot be true. Here is my prediction the next thing you will start to deny is logic itself. Just a prediction because its coming down the road.
          “Did I say, “scientific evidence is the final arbitrator”? If I’m being found guilty by this kangaroo court, I hope that I’ve at least committed the crime”

          I will let you answer your own question

          From my take it seems that you do. Do you accept other forms of evidence? If so what?

          Bob “None that come to mind”

        • Bob Seidensticker

          So your demand for scientific evidence as the final abritrator and judge as what is acceptable evidence is flawed.

          What demand?

          Here is my prediction the next thing you will start to deny is logic itself.

          Wrong again. The next thing I’ll do is what I’ve already done 3 times: assume that you are in an honest search for the truth and encourage you to respond to this: “My approach to your little conundrum is to observe that science works. Do we agree on this? Whatever approach science uses–that we must seek well-verified evidence, say–works.”

          I’m feeling lucky! I’m sure you’ll actually want to engage in the conversation and share ideas and will discuss this. Or am I being hopelessly naïve?

          And BTW, what is your goal here? Just to show how big a dick you can be? You’re succeeding at that. If you have another goal, make it explicit and we might be able to work toward it.

        • eikos

          “Wrong again. The next thing I’ll do is what I’ve already done 3 times: assume that you are in an honest search for the truth and encourage you to respond to this: “My approach to your little conundrum is to observe that science works.”

          Bob reread my post dated June 25 7:29 pm

          No rabbit trails until you acknowledge that when one insists that evidence is only that which can be empirically verified is espousing a metaphysical position.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          in my opinion [science] is not the only source of evidence nor even the highest order of evidence one can bring to the table.

          (Again) I’m happy to listen to your ideas on this.

          No rabbit trails until you acknowledge that when one insists that evidence is only that which can be empirically verified is espousing a metaphysical position.

          I’ve (twice) encouraged you to tell me what you propose instead of empirical evidence. Seems to me like I’m meeting you more than halfway.

          Why bring up this arbitrary demand? Why all the rules? What’s your point?

          You’re getting to be a time waster. This conversation needs to get interesting soon or you get banned.

        • eikos

          “I’ve (twice) encouraged you to tell me what you propose instead of empirical evidence. Seems to me like I’m meeting you more than halfway. Why bring up this arbitrary demand? Why all the rules? What’s your point? You’re getting to be a time waster. This conversation needs to get interesting soon or you get banned.”

          I bring it up because otherwise the dice is loaded by the atheists in the atheists favor and the game is rigged. When one passses off metaphysical positions disguised as science the theist is no longer playing in a fair game.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Do we agree that whatever approach science is taking, it yields pretty good results?

        • eikos

          No rabbit trails until you acknowledge that when one insists that evidence is ONLY that which can be empirically verified is espousing a metaphysical position. I have stated my reasons already why your acknowledgement of this FACT is neccessary going forward. I am not going to lay a rigged game with the other party rollong the loaded dice

        • eikos

          “Do we agree that whatever approach science is taking, it yields pretty good results?”

          I know you think I am just arguing for arguing sake but I am not .I just want a fair playing field. I will make an exception and answer this question as a sighn of my good faith.

          Science does not only produce good results it produces great results.

  • Bob Calvan

    And your challenge is to show that uniformity of nature is unexpected or surprising. That we should expect (in a godless world) something measurably different than what we see in ours.

    I love how Bob S . Avoids the questions . I asked you 3 times how does the Atheist account for the uniformity of nature? Tell us Bob how do you know the future will be like the past? I have given the Christian answer Genesis 8:22.
    Now it is your turn? How do you account for the uniformity of nature in your worldview. Hume dealt with this. Now it is your turn. We are waiting? You also forgot to tell us how the athesit accounts for the laws of logic in a material world? Have you empirically triped over the laws of logic? Do you ave thame in a jar in your kitchen so you can study them?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      And I’ve answered the best I can. Guess I’m just not up to the challenge of satisfying you.

      We know the future will be like the past because the contrary would be unexpected.

      And how is your Bible quote relevant? You do know that I’m an atheist, right?

    • eikos

      “You’ve agreed that evolution can give us instincts. I don’t see why moral ones are special. “Morality” is simply that category of principles dealing with appropriate behavior to other people.”

      Because there is no such thing as moral coming from matter. Instincts as to how species acts are just that. Species act in certain ways and as they say “thats all there is folks”

      • Bob Seidensticker

        I think we disagree on what “moral” means. For me, it’s simply those actions that deal with the correct way to interact with other people.

        If we can have instincts (hardcoded principles), why not instincts for morality?

        • eikos

          Let me put this way. You are an atheist and subscribe to evolutionary materialism. Like a rock matter is an “is”. One cannot get an “ought” from an is. Once one starts talking about morality they are talking about an ought. That is one ought to do this rather than do that. One ought to do appropriate behavior rather than inappropriate behavior.

          Since one cannot get an ought from an is you can give me no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. Since you are an atheist and subscribe to evolutionary materialism there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically then that for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. In your world view all actions are permissible.

          That you don’t like certain actions does not mean these actions are immoral. What you want to refer to as “moral” is just your personal preference of how you think people should act. But preferences are neither moral nor immoral. I prefer chocolate; you prefer vanilla no morality involved in preferences.

        • eikos

          “I think we disagree on what “moral” means. For me, it’s simply those actions that deal with the correct way to interact with other people. ”

          Because all actions are permissible all are acting in a correct way. Your preferences do not in any way make some ones actions incorrect.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You are an atheist and subscribe to evolutionary materialism.

          Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how you define that.

          Far better than declaring what philosophical school I subscribe to is to ask (or propose) what I think.

          One cannot get an “ought” from an is.

          One may not be able to get an absolute ought from an is, but you can get a regular ought (that is, grounded simply in what any one individual thinks) from an is, as I’ve pointed out several times.

          “Ought” is simply what our moral programming (instinct) tells us.

          It follows logically then that for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action.

          “there’s no description of anything in the natural world”? How about: my moral instincts tell me that I ought to be nice to people?

          For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. In your world view all actions are permissible.

          Thank you for that nice, clear example. But, obviously, this is not at all what I think. “Hitler was wrong to do X” is something that I could say and believe. The platform (grounding) from which I state that is just myself. If I were FDR, I would have had a very different and more powerful platform as Commander in Chief. “Hitler was wrong to do X,” coming from my mouth, obviously has an implied “in my opinion” or “from my platform” appended to it.

          Hitler would have his own view. But in a conflict between my moral position and anyone else’s, obviously I think that mine is right and should be followed (as, I imagine, everyone thinks). If I see a trivial moral infraction (littering, say), I’ll probably let it go. If I see an egregious moral infraction (an assault, say), I’ll at least call 911, if not impose myself on the attacker.

          That you don’t like certain actions does not mean these actions are immoral.

          Not in an absolute sense (since I see no example of absolute morality). But certainly from my standpoint.

          But preferences are neither moral nor immoral.

          When they have to do with our interactions with other people (“principles of right and wrong in behavior,” according to Webster’s), of course they are.

        • eikos

          Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how you define that.

          Far better than declaring what philosophical school I subscribe to is to ask (or propose) what I think.

          I did propose what I think. You are an atheist and you subscribe to evolutionary materialism.

          One may not be able to get an absolute ought from an is, but you can get a regular ought (that is, grounded simply in what any one individual thinks) from an is, as I’ve pointed out several times

          If you cant get an absolute ought from an is you cannot get a regular ought either. But this disagreement can be readily resolved.Give me the scientific evidence how matter produces an ought. .

          “Ought” is simply what our moral programming (instinct) tells us.

          Scientific evidence please?

          “there’s no description of anything in the natural world”? How about: my moral instincts tell me that I ought to be nice to people?

          Scientific evidence please that you have moral instincts.

          But, obviously, this is not at all what I think. “Hitler was wrong to do X” is something that I could say and believe. The platform (grounding) from which I state that is just myself.

          Thanks for confirming what I have already pointed out what you call morality is nothing more than your personal preference.

          Not in an absolute sense (since I see no example of absolute morality). But certainly from my standpoint.

          Once again thanks for confirming what I have already pointed out what you call morality is nothing more than your personal preference.

          When they have to do with our interactions with other people (“principles of right and wrong in behavior,” according to Webster’s), of course they are.,/blockquote>

          Three things give me the scientific evidence that Webster’s definition is correct. Secondly this is nothing more than your personal opinion. Finally Webster’s definition has nothing to say how you get an ought from an is. what gets an ought so it is irrellevant.

          From my perspective (which is the only one that I have access to), of course they do! ,/blockquote>

          Once again thanks for confirming what I have already pointed out what you call morality is nothing more than your personal preference.

          Example: you litter and I point that out. You say, “So what? ” I say, “It’s a moral infraction. You shouldn’t have done that.” You say, “It’s not a moral infraction in my book.”How am I going to respond? Obviously, from my standpoint, it’s a moral infraction.

          Once again thanks for confirming what I have already pointed out what you call morality is nothing more than your personal preference.

          Of course, you could convince me otherwise, in which case I’d change my mind. But failing that, you’re wrong and I’m right (as would always be the case, in my mind, in any moral clash between the two of us).

          I dont care to convince you otherwise nor if I tried and failed does not make me wrong just because it offends your personal preferences on littering. You have your personal preferance and I have mine. You like vanilla so what? I like chocolate.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Your preferences do not in any way make some ones actions incorrect.

          From my perspective (which is the only one that I have access to), of course they do!

          Example: you litter and I point that out. You say, “So what? ” I say, “It’s a moral infraction. You shouldn’t have done that.” You say, “It’s not a moral infraction in my book.”

          How am I going to respond? Obviously, from my standpoint, it’s a moral infraction. Of course, you could convince me otherwise, in which case I’d change my mind. But failing that, you’re wrong and I’m right (as would always be the case, in my mind, in any moral clash between the two of us).

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You are an atheist and you subscribe to evolutionary materialism.

          Thanks. I like a little domination now and then. I like it when you slap me around.

          If you cant get an absolute ought from an is you cannot get a regular ought either.

          Show me in the dictionary where “ought” (or “moral” or “ethics” or “wrong”) requires an objective (that is: absolute/transcendental) basis.

          Scientific evidence please?

          I was explaining my worldview.

          Thanks for confirming what I have already pointed out what you call morality is nothing more than your personal preference.

          Since you already understood my position, it’s hard to understand how you could have come up so hideously and laughably wrong by stating, “if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible.”

          give me the scientific evidence that Webster’s definition is correct.

          Huh? I’m pretty sure that scientific evidence is not how we validate dictionary definitions. Unless you’re simply asking that we use the consensus definition. That’s fair—and I have.

          Secondly this is nothing more than your personal opinion.

          Maybe I didn’t make it clear. I’m using the dictionary definition here.

          Finally Webster’s definition has nothing to say how you get an ought from an is. what gets an ought so it is irrellevant.

          You seem to be saying that “ought” has an objective (absolute/transcendental) grounding. If that is indeed what we’re talking about, Webster’s shows this to be false.

          Once again thanks for confirming what I have already pointed out …

          You sure do enjoy being agreed with. (Makes you sound like God.)

          You have your personal preferance and I have mine.

          Yes, and as I’ve said before, when there is a clash between your moral opinion and mine (or Hitler’s and mine), I always win in my opinion. You do see now how your Hitler claim (“every action Hitler performed was permissible”) is false, right?

        • eikos

          “Show me in the dictionary where “ought” (or “moral” or “ethics” or “wrong”) requires an objective (that is: absolute/transcendental) basis.”

          As I wrote before dictionary definitions are irrelevant regarding getting an ought from an is. As a evolutionary materiaalist the only thing that exists is matter. What material is this “ought” you claim can come from matter made of? What is its chemical composition? Where can I get a hold of this oughtness material and measure or weight it? What is its atomic structure? If all there is is matter then “ougthtness” must be matter as well. Can youu send me a picture of this “oughtness” matter?

          “Since you already understood my position, it’s hard to understand how you could have come up so hideously and laughably wrong by stating, “if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible.”

          Since one cannot get an ought from an is you can give me no description of anything in the what natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. Since you are an atheist and subscribe to evolutionary materialism there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically then that for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action.
          Unless you can show me this ought matteial you speak of every action Hitler performed was permissable.

          “Maybe I didn’t make it clear. I’m using the dictionary definition here.”

          Yeh you made it clear that it is your personal preference to adopt Websters personal preference as to what an ought is. Big deal.

          “You seem to be saying that “ought” has an objective (absolute/transcendental) grounding. If that is indeed what we’re talking about, Webster’s shows this to be false.”

          Let me repeat :
          As I wrote before dictionary definitions are irrelevant rgarding getting an ought from an is. As a evolutionary materiaalist the only thing that exists is matter. What material is this “ought” you claim can come from matter made of? What is its chemical composition? Where can I get a hold of this oughtness material and measure or weight it? What is its atomic structure? If all there is is matter then “ougthtness” must be matter as well. Can you send me a picture of this “oughtness” matter?

          “Yes, and as I’ve said before, when there is a clash between your moral opinion and mine (or Hitler’s and mine), I always win in my opinion. You do see now how your Hitler claim (“every action Hitler performed was permissible”) is false, right?”

          You dont have a moral opinion you have a personal preference opinion. Nor do you always win, whoever has the power wins. Every action Hitler made was permissable.
          When might I expect a picture of this material called oughtness?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          As I wrote before dictionary definitions are irrelevant regarding getting an ought from an is.

          We may be tackling different questions.

          I think that the definition of “ought” is the issue. The dictionary says nothing about the need for anything objective/absolute. I think you disagree.

          Let’s try to make some progress on this point instead of your repeating (with ever shriller voice), “Yeah, but you can’t get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is.’”

          What material is this “ought” you claim can come from matter made of?

          Good question! And while we’re at it, what is “courage” made of? How much does “sadness” weigh? What is the chemical composition of “hunger”? Can you send me a photo of “privacy”?

          You’ve convinced me–whoever suggests that “the only thing that exists is matter” is an idiot. Good thing that has never described me.

          Since one cannot get an ought from an is you can give me no description of anything in the what natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’.

          Is it impossible that we have moral instincts that we consult to find how we should best interact with our fellow man?

          Unless you can show me this ought matteial you speak of every action Hitler performed was permissable.

          So your strategy is to ignore my responses and simply repeat your claims? Perhaps try all caps next time–maybe that’ll convince me.

          I’ve already responded to and laughed at your Hitler example. I’ve made clear that this doesn’t apply to me, and I’ve said why. You can respond to that, but simply repeating your claim doesn’t help to advance the conversation. (Advancing the conversation, with learning on both sides, is your goal, right?)

          you made it clear that it is your personal preference to adopt Websters personal preference as to what an ought is.

          I like to use words the way they’re defined. I’m funny that way.

        • eikos

          “We may be tackling different questions. I think that the definition of “ought” is the issue. The dictionary says nothing about the need for anything objective/absolute. I think you disagree. Thoughts? “

          The definition of ought is not the issue the issue is how you get an ought from an is. So why dont you do this, go to Websters and get me his definition of how one gets an ought from an is.

          I have not brought this up before but you are aware that an argument from authority is fallacious thus invalid. But since you are so fond of accepting Websters definitions and thus the sum of all knowledge on the matter you should have no problem with his definition of what is Philosophy.

          “The object of Philosophy are to ascertain facts or truths and the cause of things or their phenomena to enlarge our views of God and His works” Websters American Dictionary 1828

          “Good question! And while we’re at it, what is “courage” made of? How much does “sadness” weigh? What is the chemical composition of “hunger”? Can you send me a photo of “privacy”? You’ve convinced me–whoever suggests that “the only thing that exists is matter” is an idiot. Good thing that has never described me.”

          So non material things exist?

          “Is it impossible that we have moral instincts that we consult to find how we should best interact with our fellow man? “

          It is impossible to have moral instincts if morals do not exist. I suppose one can find a definition of unicorns but that does not establish their existence , quoting Webster does not establish its existence. Besides it’s a fallacious argument for the reasons already stated. You are making an argument from authority.

          “So your strategy is to ignore my responses and simply repeat your claims? Perhaps try all caps next time–maybe that’ll convince me. I’ve already responded to and laughed at your Hitler example. I’ve made clear that this doesn’t apply to me, and I’ve said why. You can respond to that, but simply repeating your claim doesn’t help to advance the conversation. (Advancing the conversation, with learning on both sides, is your goal, right?) “

          Couple of things you have not demonstrated where the logic fails that is why I repeated it. That you find Hitlers actions impermissible does not make his actions impermissable so your answere is irrelevant. His actions were as permissible as any of your actions. I did say all actions are permissible. His actions were permissible and your actions are permissible, all actions are permissible.

          “I like to use words the way they’re defined. I’m funny that way.”

          Me too so you should like Websters definition of Philosophy.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          The definition of ought is not the issue

          The definition of “ought” is certainly the issue if we’re using two different definitions.

          If you don’t much care, then use my natural definition of ought–that is, ought without an objective or absolute element.

          the issue is how you get an ought from an is.

          And I’ve already explained how this works. This should be no problem for you if you accept my definition of “ought” and see our morality as simply a natural consequence of our programming.

          I have not brought this up before but you are aware that an argument from authority is fallacious thus invalid.

          Yes, an appeal to authority is fallacious. However, I’m not sure why you bring up this aside since I didn’t make this error.

          But since you are so fond of accepting Websters definitions

          What’s the problem here? We have words (ought, morality, etc.) that we need a shared definition for. I look to the dictionary for the definition. I don’t understand why this frustrates you so much.

          So non material things exist?

          English has concrete nouns (car, house, tree) and abstract nouns (courage, lightness, happiness). Yes, courage exists. No, courage isn’t material.

          It is impossible to have moral instincts if morals do not exist.

          Granted. But why bring this up when neither of us thinks that morals don’t exist?

          That you find Hitlers actions impermissible does not make his actions impermissable so your answere is irrelevant.

          Some of Hitler’s actions are impermissible from my standpoint.

          Every moral statement (“That is wrong!” etc.) has an implied platform from which it comes. The Bob Platform is pretty small. The platform of the Pope or the Commander in Chief are much more powerful.

          His actions were as permissible as any of your actions.

          His actions are as permissible as any of mine from an absolute standpoint. I’ve made this clarification before. If you don’t understand, let’s get on the same page before we move on and you make this blunder again.

          Me too so you should like Websters definition of Philosophy.

          The meanings of words change. (But you knew that already.)

        • eikos

          the issue is how you get an ought from an is.

          “And I’ve already explained how this works. This should be no problem for you if you accept my definition of “ought” and see our morality as simply a natural consequence of our programming.”

          Giving me the definition of “ought” does not explain how one gets an ought from an is. You have not explained how it works other than say “evolution did it” All evolution has to work with is material, ought, courage, nobility, etc are not made of material. So take me through the scientific evidence and show me how the process of evolution working only on matter produced immaterial things.

          “Yes, an appeal to authority is fallacious. However, I’m not sure why you bring up this aside since I didn’t make this error. “

          Other than ‘evolution did it” this is your answer to how one gets an ought from an is. That is an appeal to authority.

          “Some of Hitler’s actions are impermissible from my standpoint”

          Big deal! That does not mean his actions were impermissible from his standpoint.

          “Granted. But why bring this up when neither of us thinks that morals don’t exist? “

          You told me morals do not exist. For you there is no absolute objective thing called good that exists. For you there is no objective moral absolute that exist. That is the absurdity of your position you believe in things that you deny exist!!! How crazy and irrational is that?

          “His actions are as permissible as any of mine from an absolute standpoint. I’ve made this clarification before. If you don’t understand, let’s get on the same page before we move on and you make this blunder again.”

          I thought you did not believe in absolutes? At a minimum you are unsure that they exist. Here you are appealing to an absolute. So you do believe that absolutes exist. This just gets better and better.

          “The meanings of words change. (But you knew that already.)”

          Really what words are you referring to? Furthermore if you were living in 1828 holding your current worldview you certainly would not be appealing to Websters Dictionary to validate your argument now would you?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Giving me the definition of “ought” does not explain how one gets an ought from an is.

          Never said it did.

          What I said was that it is the case that we have moral instincts that, when consulted, tell us what we ought to do in social situations.

          Other than ‘evolution did it” this is your answer to how one gets an ought from an is.

          Nope.

          That does not mean his actions were impermissible from his standpoint.

          And that means what to me?

          Look–I’m simply trying to explain my position. You claim that it’s incoherent, and I’m making clear how it’s not. Don’t agree with me, just understand so we can avoid this round and round on the same frikkin’ issue.

          You told me morals do not exist.

          Wrong. I told you that I see no evidence for objective (absolute) moral truths. There’s plenty of room for regular kind as is defined in the dictionary.

          For you there is no absolute objective thing called good that exists.

          Correct. And if you claim that objective morality (grounded outside humans) exists, show me.

          How crazy and irrational is that?

          None at all, since I don’t hold to that position. What’s crazy is having to repeat my position to you over and over.

          I thought you did not believe in absolutes?

          I see no evidence for absolute moral truths.

          Here you are appealing to an absolute. So you do believe that absolutes exist. This just gets better and better.

          Gotta read my stuff clearly. I would also encourage a charitable interpretation–that is, assuming that I’m making sense when you read a comment rather than going into it certain that it’ll be full of logical errors. That helps you avoid looking idiotic. Like now.

        • eikos

          Other than ‘evolution did it” this is your answer to how one gets an ought from an is.
          “Nope.”

          Let me quote you Bob “It is the case that evolution gave us moral instincts that tell us we ought to do this and not do that. Not much a puzzle, IMO.”
          Bob again:“And I’ve already explained how this works. This should be no problem for you if you accept my definition of “ought” and see our morality as simply a natural consequence of our programming.”

          Unless something other than evolution did our programming indeed your whole argument in your own words is that “evolution did it” yet you deny it! Since you have not explained how it works other than say “evolution did it”, and all evolution has to work with is material,and ought, courage, nobility, etc are not made of material, take me through the scientific evidence and show me how the process of evolution working only on matter produced immaterial things.

          “That does not mean his actions were impermissible from his standpoint.
          And that means what to me? Look–I’m simply trying to explain my position. You claim that it’s incoherent, and I’m making clear how it’s not. Don’t agree with me, just understand so we can avoid this round and round on the same frikkin’ issue.”

          Yes you explained your position. Hitlers action were impermissible to you. To conclude that because his actions were impermissible to you means that his actions were impermissible and thus refute my contention that all actions are permissible does not follow. Hitlers actions were permissible to him. That they are impermissible to you does not mean they were impermissible to him. Its not that hard Bob.

          Why would I want to go on to other issues when you have not dealt with the ones that are currently on the table? That would be foolish because if you can’t give adequate answers to my current questions I have to assume the same type of behavior will be forthcoming in the future. That would be foolish on my part to engage in another subject matter when you have not substantiated your claims or refuted mine.

          You told me morals do not exist.

          “Wrong. I told you that I see no evidence for objective (absolute) moral truths. There’s plenty of room for regular kind as is defined in the dictionary.”

          If there is no objective moral truth that exists then there is no regular moral truth. To put it into terms that hopefully even you can understand.” I don’t believe that there are objectively unicorns that exist but there is plenty of room for regular unicorns to be roaming around out there”.

          “Gotta read my stuff clearly. I would also encourage a charitable interpretation–that is, assuming that I’m making sense when you read a comment rather than going into it certain that it’ll be full of logical errors. That helps you avoid looking idiotic. Like now.”

          So its my fault that you don’t read your stuff clearly and that makes me an idiot? This is the second ad hominem argument you have directed my way.

          “What’s crazy is having to repeat my position to you over and over”

          Whats crazy is that you have been incapable of justifying your position other than make one claim after the other without any evidence to back them up, and you want me to move on to other issues? I am the bad guy for asking you to do what you require from theists?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like we’re in agreement on a lot of stuff. I assume that all the points of mine that you’ve simply let stand are points on which we agree.

          You enjoy repeating your mantra, “Ya cain’t get an ought from an is!! Nuh uh!!” I think that I’ve given a plausible explanation that shows that, yes, ought can come from is. Once you drop the presupposition of anything objective/absolute in the concept of “ought,” it’s not too hard.

          Another point of agreement: you say that my explanation that evolution gave us moral instincts needs backup. Agreed. Let’s avoid yet another topic until we’ve agreed that this is-ought problem has been dispelled.

          Its not that hard Bob.

          Then I wonder why we had to go round and round with our old buddy Hitler so many times.

          You told me morals do not exist.

          Wrong again. I told you that I see no evidence for objective moral truths. (Wait—haven’t I said this before? In my previous comment?)

          If there is no objective moral truth that exists then there is no regular moral truth.

          This is an interesting claim. Show me that objective moral truth exists.

          And perhaps this highlights the reason why I’ve been referring to the dictionary. Is objective grounding part of the very definition of the word “morality”? Let’s look in the dictionary to see.

          To put it into terms that hopefully even you can understand …

          I applaud your optimism, but I think you’ve yet again lauded me too highly.

          This is the second ad hominem argument you have directed my way.

          Did I do that before? I didn’t notice.

          You’re welcome!

          BTW, what is your goal in hanging out here? Mine is to hear new challenges to test my thinking on various topics. Yours seems to be to spread bile and anger, but maybe I’m just catching you on a bad day.

        • eikos

          If there is no objective moral truth that exists then there is no regular moral truth.

          “This is an interesting claim. Show me that objective moral truth exists”

          I have never made the claim that objective moral truth exists. I have made the claim that if it does not exist there is no such thing as morals.If one claims that something does not exist then claims that it does those are two contradicting statements. I don’t believe that there are objectively unicorns that exist but there are unicorns roaming around out there.

          “Yours seems to be to spread bile and anger”

          Have I called you an idiot? Have I called you a dick? The bile and anger seems to be coming from you. You say you want to be challenged yet when challenged you call it bile and anger.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I have never made the claim that objective moral truth exists. I have made the claim that if it does not exist there is no such thing as morals.

          OK, if objective moral truth doesn’t exist, then morals don’t exist. Then if you think that morals exist, you think that moral truth is objective, right?

          I’m looking for either your defense of objective moral truth or your rejection of it.

          Have I called you an idiot? Have I called you a dick? The bile and anger seems to be coming from you.

          I’m simply responding in kind, bro. Think of me as a mirror.

        • eikos

          “OK, if objective moral truth doesn’t exist, then morals don’t exist”

          What does ok mean? Does it mean you agree that if objective moral truth does not exist then morals don’t exist?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          No, I don’t agree.

          I was stating things from your standpoint.

        • eikos

          “No, I don’t agree. I was stating things from your standpoint.”

          Then the ball is back in your court. substantiate your “evolution did it” claim.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Do you have some aversion to answering questions? If you’re a Christian, shouldn’t you be seizing every opportunity to explain your position?

          You need to respond to my question, “I’m looking for either your defense of objective moral truth or your rejection of it.”

          A little less bob and weave and a little more honest engaging with the conversation, please. As I said, I’m getting tired of your evasion and game playing. You’ve become high maintenance.

        • eikos

          “Do you have some aversion to answering questions?”

          Yes when one has not answered mine.

          ” If you’re a Christian, shouldn’t you be seizing every opportunity to explain your position?” You need to respond to my question, “I’m looking for either your defense of objective moral truth or your rejection of it.”

          Bob you are the one that needs to be defending your position not me. You started this topic not I. You were the one that made the claim that there are no objective morals that exist.

          “Bob Seidensticker on June 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm said:
          Nope, no refutation. Dawkins and I are on the same page.
          What Dawkins rejects is the idea of an objective moral truth, objective good and evil, and so on.”

          I then made the claim that one cannot get an ought from an is. You assert that one can get an ought from an is and ever since then I have beeen asking you to substantiate that claim. As has been well documented your answer is that “evolution did it” yet you have not substantiated how the process of evolution evolved matter into non mattter (immaterial things).

          You are the one that has to make the defense of the claim that you brought up. As of yet I have not made one claim that objective moral truth exists. I stated this June 26th at 2:57 pm. Why should I defend a claim that I have not made? What I have posited is that if something has no existence it has no existence I will gladly defend that proposition. You are asking me to defend a claim I have never made yet refuse to substantiate the claim you have made.

          “A little less bob and weave and a little more honest engaging with the conversation, please.”

          Bob just think of me as a mirror.

          ” As I said, I’m getting tired of your evasion and game playing. You’ve become high maintenance.”

          I have not evaded anything, I have simply asked you to substantiate your position scientifically that the process of evolution can perform a version of alchemy. If asking one to substantiate their claims is what you call high maintenance so be it.

          I am only requesting from you the very things you request from others, for that I get warnings that I am going to be banned from the site. I will let the readers make their own conclusions why you would do that.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You were the one that made the claim that there are no objective morals that exist.

          Not exactly. I said that I see no evidence of objective morals and invited you to show me some. You’ve not done that.

          Working hypothesis: you can’t defend the claim.

          your answer is that “evolution did it” yet you have not substantiated how the process of evolution evolved matter into non mattter (immaterial things).

          Are you asking me to defend evolution? Do you reject evolution?

          As of yet I have not made one claim that objective moral truth exists.

          Then clarify: do you claim that objective moral truth exists?

          I have simply asked you …

          In the honest conversations that I engage in, it’s a give-and-take. You imagine that you’re the Lord High Executioner who gets to ask the questions.

          Doesn’t work that way here.

          I am only requesting from you the very things you request from others

          Cool. Since you demand lots of answers, you’ll have no problem providing some yourself. Like those in this comment.

          I will let the readers make their own conclusions why you would do that.

          I’m delighted to let the readers critique this conversation to see who’s being evasive.

        • eikos

          “Not exactly. I said that I see no evidence of objective morals ”

          What do you accept as evidence of something that objectivly exists?

        • eikos

          “Not exactly. I said that I see no evidence of objective morals and invited you to show me some. You’ve not done that. Working hypothesis: you can’t defend the claim. ”

          As I said I have not made any claim other than one cannot get an ought from an is.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Here’s a chance to step up and actually respond to a question. Shoulder some of the burden to move the conversation along.

          Drop the idea that you’re the interrogator and actually become an equal in the conversation by telling us why you think that objective morality exists (or reject the idea, if that’s your belief).

        • eikos

          “Here’s a chance to step up and actually respond to a question. Shoulder some of the burden to move the conversation along. Drop the idea that you’re the interrogator and actually become an equal in the conversation by telling us why you think that objective morality exists (or reject the idea, if that’s your belief).”

          Why should I shoulder a burden when you refuse to scientifically demonstrate how the process of evolution converts matter to non matter, how do we get an ought from an is.? You are the one not shouldering the burden. You want to move on to something else without scientifically substantiating your claim.

          I reject that there is such a thing as objective morality if you can scientifically demonstrate that the process of evolution working on matter created non matter. But I want details not “hand waving” or “just so stories”

          I also reject that there is such a thing as objective morality if there is no objective morality. One can’t believe in the existence of something that does not exist, something you have no problem in doing.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You’re done. Bye.

  • eikos

    I would say that whatever disagrees with empirical evidence that we have accurately percieved correctly is bound to be wrong.

    But no that is not the bottom line. The bottom line is that only that which can be empirically verified is evidence is self refuting and incohereent.

  • Bob Calvan

    Bob seems you have failed to answer these questions
    1.Do you hold to the position that there are no absolute truths? ( from eikos)
    2.Bob did not ask you if science works pretty well did he? He asked

    3.“So I then ask you Bob that since only that which can be empirically verified is evidence would they please empirically verify your contention that only that which can be empirically Verified is evidence! ”

    How about answereing the question that was asked not the one he did not ask. ( from eikos)
    eikos on June 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm said:
    Because your argument is self refuting and incoherent unlesss you can empirically demonstrate that evidence is (only) that which can be emperically verified

    4.I love how Bob S . Avoids the questions . I asked you 3 times how does the Atheist account for the uniformity of nature? Tell us Bob how do you know the future will be like the past (from B Calvan)
    5. You also forgot to tell us how the athesit accounts for the laws of logic in a material world? Have you empirically triped over the laws of logic? Do you ave thame in a jar in your kitchen so you can study them? (B. Calvan)

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Is this supposed to be a helpful summary of all pending questions?

  • eikos

    Bob “Of course. What I see no evidence for is an absolute form of these.”

    You see no absolute form because in your worldview they are just names for preferences.

    Bob “If we’re wondering what “nobility” (for example) is, the dictionary is helpful. I haven’t seen any requirement for anything absolute, transcendent, or objective in those definitions.”

    I am not wondering what nobility is I am asserting that in your world view they are just names for preferences. They are just actions that are neither noble or un noble.

    eikos “You cannot get an ought from an is. ”

    Bob “Oh, dear–the atheist’s nightmare.”

    Oh, dear Bob admits his incoherence and has affirmed everything I have asserted. Were making progress

    Bob “It is the case that evolution gave us moral instincts that tell us we ought to do this and not do that. Not much a puzzle, IMO.”

    “Evolution did it”! LOL thats no different than saying “God did it” Evolution is an is and we have already established that one cannot get an ought from an is. Darwinian evolution has no plan, no purpose and no goal in mind.Evolution is incapable of giving “moral ” instincts all it can give are instincts.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      You see no absolute form because in your worldview they are just names for preferences.

      I see no absolute form because I see no evidence for such a claim. The natural explanation (that, say, morality is a shared instinct, not a transcendental truth) is adequate.

      They are just actions that are neither noble or un noble.

      Nope, noble actions are noble. And if we’re puzzled about what “noble” means, we consult the dictionary.

      “Evolution did it”! LOL thats no different than saying “God did it”

      Yeah, except for all that evidence supporting the theory of evolution.

      we have already established that one cannot get an ought from an is.

      Oh yeah–because you said so. I forgot.

      Darwinian evolution has no plan, no purpose and no goal in mind.Evolution is incapable of giving “moral ” instincts all it can give are instincts.

      What about the definition of “moral” tells us that it can’t come from evolution?

      • eikos

        Lets just quote your favorite author “[t]he universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference” —

        There is no nobility, no better, no evil just pitiless indifference. You are no denying the very quote you used to sum up this topic at the top of the page!!!

        As for definitions just for fun since you are so fond of insisting that only scientific evidence qualifies as evidence why dont you scientifically and empirically prove the definition of “moral’ that you find in the dictionary?

        I take it now you disagree with Dawkins on the matter?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Atheists are just kidding when we say that Richard Dawkins is the atheist pope. He’s not really, and I accept, dismiss, or reinterpret his writings as I see fit.

          But there is no need to disagree with Pope Richard I in this case, because “at bottom” means “in an absolute sense” as I read the quote.

          That is, there is no absolute evil or good (etc.). That’s my view–there is no absolute (or objective or transcendental) moral truth, evil or good, or purpose in life. But of course there is morality, evil and good, and purpose, and we recognize these things in our individual lives.

        • eikos

          eikos “we have already established that one cannot get an ought from an is.”

          Bob “Oh yeah–because you said so. I forgot”

          I am all ears tell me how one gets an ought from an is.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I already did–”the atheist’s nightmare,” remember?

          I said, ” It is the case that evolution gave us moral instincts that tell us we ought to do this and not do that.”

  • eikos

    Bob “That is, there is no absolute evil or good (etc.). That’s my view–there is no absolute (or objective or transcendental) moral truth, evil or good, or purpose in life. But of course there is morality, evil and good, and purpose, and we recognize these things in our individual lives.”

    Let me see if I get this straight. Thre is no absolute evil but there is evil, there is no purpose but there is purpose, there are no morals but there are morals.Totally incoherent!!

    But that is not Dawkins view.

    Dawkins “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Totally incoherent!!

      Maybe if I type slower it’ll work better.

      In my opinion, there is no absolute evil but there is evil–that is, evil from our non-absolute perspective. Similarly, there is no absolute purpose, but we can find purpose in our lives. There is no absolute morality, but we have moral instincts and society develops moral customs. And so on.

      Not really too difficult (or incoherent).

      But that is not Dawkins view.

      As I said before, I think it is.

      Anyway, I have no obligation to follow or even care about Dawkins’ view.

      • eikos

        How do you find something that does not exist?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          No idea.

        • eikos

          You have no idea how one would find something that has no possibility of existence? I would think that would rather be an easy question to answer. You cant!

  • eikos

    I tried using the blockquote thingy and really botched up my latest post

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Use angled brackets around “blockquote” and be sure to precede the final one with a slash.

  • Bob Calvan

    Bob said:
    ” We know the future will be like the past because the contrary would be unexpected.”

    Wow! Talk about viciously circular reasoning. Bob just said we know the sky is blue because the contrary would be unexpected. So Bob is telling us the future will be like the past because it always been like that. (Viciously circular) Bob is telling us water will boil in the future because it has always boiled in the past. (viciously circular) Here is what you are doing Bob. You are affirming in the past there has been uniformity ( what science relies on) but how do you know in the future there will be uniformity, unless you already assume that the future reflects the past (i.e.. uniformity) Whenever you use past experience as a basis for what is likely to happen in the future, you are assuming uniformity. So when you or any atheist evolutionist says that he believes there will be uniformity in the future since there is uniformity in the past, you are trying to justify uniformity by simply assuming uniformity. A vicious circular argument.

    Also you have not addressed the question . You are telling how the past is and what has happened in the ” past future”. We are asking how you know the “future” ( something you have not expienced yet) will be like the past? So telling us this is the way it has always been is to beg the very question. And is viciously circular.

    So again only the Christian worldview can account for how basic science works ( the uniformity of nature) can account or reasoning ( how we know what we know) the laws of logic and morality. I know you do not agree with the Christian worldview but that is irrelevant to the argument. You must admit if the Christian worldview is true it can account for science, the laws of logic, and morality, and how we know what we know. I do not hold to or believe in the Atheist worldview but I can show it can not account for science , intelligence, or morality. As I have shown you over and over. For you to argue about science, laws of logic, and morality you must borrow from the Christian worldview to argue against it.

    So Bob want to try again and tell us how you account for the uniformity of nature? ( Science) This time without a circular argument? something rational?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Bob just said we know the sky is blue because the contrary would be unexpected.

      Wrong again. I said that “expecting blue sky tomorrow because sky has been blue in the past” is a reasonable position.

      You are affirming in the past there has been uniformity ( what science relies on) but how do you know in the future there will be uniformity

      I don’t. I’m not certain that the future will be like the past (but that’s the way to bet).

      We can expect uniformity because we’ve seen uniformity. Now the ball’s in your court: tell me why uniformity is unexpected (and why we need God to ensure uniformity).

      So again only the Christian worldview can account for how basic science works

      Yeah, ’cause “God dun it,” right? That’s as compelling as saying “‘Cause Brahma dun it”–in other words, not compelling at all.

      So, no, simply asserting that the Christian god did it doesn’t account for anything. Gotta have that evidence.

  • Orbital Teapot

    To Bob S,

    Do you admit that there is a difference between explaining morality and grounding it? Because the former pertains to science, while the latter pertains to philosophy and theology.

    Another problem is that our so-called “shared moral instincts” are rather ineffectual. It took thousands of years to realize that slavery, sexism and homophobia are wrong. If there were a moral instinct of the kind you postulate, those wrongs should have been obvious from the outset. You need to add something more to your instincts to get the full picture of morality.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Do you admit that there is a difference between explaining morality and grounding it?

      I don’t see the difference. In the case of objective (absolute) morality, then there could be a difference. But for the ordinary, natural morality that I envision, I don’t see what remains of the grounding question if we explain it with “much of morality is encoded in our DNA and winds up as moral instinct.”

      It took thousands of years to realize that slavery, sexism and homophobia are wrong.

      You act as if this is our realization of a vaguely perceived objective morality. I see no evidence of objective morality.

      You need to add something more to your instincts to get the full picture of morality.

      Quite so. As a shorthand, I’ve only discussed the instinctive part here. I see another part, which is the cultural component.

  • Bob Calvan

    Bob said:
    “..Hitler would have his own view. But in a conflict between my moral position and anyone else’s, obviously I think that mine is right and should be followed…. ”

    Here is a good example of your inconsistency of your moral relativism. If you think Hitler’s moral opinion is wrong and your moral opinion is right. This assumes you hold to an absolute wrong or right to determine who is wrong or right ( you or Hitler.) Do you not see the elephant in the room. If you truly believe morality is instinctive than what you believe is the result of the functions of the chemical reactions of your brain. Even though you have never physically observed these reactions but say you have) And What Hitler did is the result of the chemical reactions in his brain. Neither one of you are doing wrong or right. Is “is” just the way the physical instincts of how your brain works. This is what “IS” the case. For you to assume you are “right” and Hitler is “wrong” this has now changed from the physical chemical reactions of the brain to and ought which is not in the physical brain but in the mind. You can not get a physical reaction ( what is the case) to a what ought to be the case from your mind ( your mind is not physical your concepts are not physical, moral ought’s are not physical. So for you to say Hitler was wrong and you are right there must be an absolute wrong and right. So again we see your illogical and inconsistent statements. there are no right and wrongs or ought and ought not’s in you physical worldview of matter in motion. Again only the Christian worldview can account fro absolute immaterial Moral laws. Eiko’s asked you over and over that you say all your evidence from what you know and science is empirical. So when did you empirically observe this evidence that you empirically got you knowledge from? You are a walking contradiction.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      This nice thing about being Bob Calvan is that you always know what your opinions will be tomorrow–the same as they were today.

      This assumes you hold to an absolute wrong or right to determine who is wrong or right ( you or Hitler.)

      Wrong again.

      Y’know, you can seriously consider my position (which is only polite, after all) without being forced to change your mind. It will make the conversation more interesting because we could actually move beyond you misstating my position (again) and me correcting you (again). Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?

      When I evaluate Hitler’s position, I don’t hold it up against an absolute standard, I hold it up to my standard. Not absolute at all (and quite fallible).

      Neither one of you are doing wrong or right.

      <sigh>

      Neither of us is doing anything absolutely wrong or right. But from any one person’s standpoint (mine, yours, Hitler’s), an action could be wrong or right.

      You are a walking contradiction.

      I bask in the warm glow of your wisdom. I always know I’m going to get a nice dose of Christian love when I read one of your comments.

  • Bob Calvan

    “..Wrong again. I said that “expecting blue sky tomorrow because sky has been blue in the past” is a reasonable position…”

    Yup viciously circular.
    “..So, no, simply asserting that the Christian god did it doesn’t account for anything. Gotta have that evidence…”

    Genesis 8:22:
    22 “While the earth remains,
    Seedtime and harvest,
    And cold and heat,
    And summer and winter,
    And day and night
    Shall not cease.”

    So the Christian world view comports with how science works. ( whether you believe it or not is irrelevant) But our worldview tells us why the future will be like the past is because God has decreed it so. We have a standard and can account for the uniformity of nature.

    All you can say is expecting the future to be like the past is a reasonable position. Is meaningless. It does not account for the uniformity of nature. All your worldview can say is well it’s always been like that before. Which is viscously circular. You can not tell us why the future will be like the past. The Christian worldview can. Again your worldview is bankrupted, arbitrary, and leads to absurdity.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Yup viciously circular.

      Wrong again. Keep in mind that just because you said it doesn’t make it true.

      So the Christian world view comports with how science works.

      Let me get this straight. You take science and then you find passages in the Bible that vaguely sound in accord with some bit of science. Then you claim that the Bible had it right all along.

      That would make sense only if we got the science from the Bible. That we don’t (and never have) is pretty damning evidence that the Bible is just the diary of some Iron Age desert nomadic tribe. Not much to guide your life by, if you don’t mind my saying so.

      Let’s just get our reality from science and avoid the process where we try to hammer the Bible into a science textbook.

  • Rick Townsend

    Reference “You’re done. Bye,” to Eikos

    The last blocked blogger you blocked was blocked for being verbally abusive, not for asking questions for which you had no answer. Why not simply acknowledge that you don’t know the answer to some of his questions and agree that your world view doesn’t answer everything. No world view does. Even Christianity can’t answer the questions about where God came from since we believe he is pre-existent, but that in our time frame of reference we can’t really conceive of that. We hold it by faith and trust that God exists outside time, a reference He created.

    Similarly, yours can’t answer LOTS of things (matter from nothing, order from disorder, laws of physics to name a few), and you would be more intellectually honest if you could simply acknowledge that. I think that is what frustrates so many of your readers—your arrogant refusal to acknowledge the limits of your own knowledge and the limitations of the atheist world view.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      The last blogger I blocked was indeed abusive, but it wasn’t just that. His game was apparent–do the “ask questions but refuse to answer any” rope-a-dope. I need someone who will engage. I count 46 comments by him, more than enough time to settle in, see that there’s an opportunity for give and take, and (maybe) even learn something. With time, I only saw him retrench into his “I’m not playing your game” attitude.

      Not a problem. If my “game” (honest give and take) isn’t his cup of tea, then let’s part ways.

      I don’t like blocking anyone, but it’s a matter of time. Anyone who will engage honestly–best of all, someone who will prod me with questions I hadn’t considered–is welcome. But there are simply too few hours in the day to coddle someone who wants to antagonize rather than participate.

      Why not simply acknowledge that you don’t know the answer to some of his questions and agree that your world view doesn’t answer everything.

      I have unanswered questions. “What happened before the Big Bang?” “Is abiogenesis a valid hypothesis, and, if so, what is the explanation behind it?” And so on. If that’s what you’re saying, then I agree.

      matter from nothing

      I know of no consensus theory that posits matter from nothing (though Lawrence Krauss would be one physicist who proposes this).

      order from disorder

      We all accept order from disorder. Sugar crystals forming as sugar syrup evaporates, for example.

      laws of physics

      Do you mean, “Where did the laws of physics come from?” That’s a good one. Science has said quite a bit on that (how the fundamental forces were combined as you go back in time, for example), but there’s much more to learn, certainly.

      your arrogant refusal to acknowledge the limits of your own knowledge and the limitations of the atheist world view.

      I’ve said many times, I think, that science celebrates its ignorance. “I don’t know” is no cause for shame but rather an opportunity for new research. Perhaps we’re on the same page here, and I’d be surprised if this is news. If there are other unacknowledged limitations that you see, let me know.

  • Orbital Teapot

    To Bob S,

    As an atheist, are you committed to eternal recurrence as the alternative to divine creation? If not, why?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      What is “eternal recurrence”? Reincarnation? Cyclic Big Bang?

      • Orbital Teapot

        To Bob S,

        Eternal recurrence just means cyclical time. It means that the same events (down to their minutest details) will eventually come back and that they did come back ab aeterno. No end of history.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Then no, I don’t subscribe to the idea of eternal recurrence because I see no evidence for it.

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          Really?
          If the number of elements in the universe is finite,
          if the universe is eternal
          if the universe has no goal,

          then the universe MUST be cyclical. There is no other view accounting for those three properties.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          If you say so.

          I don’t know that those properties all hold.

      • Orbital Teapot

        To Bob S,

        Really? Then would you say which one is dubious to you?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          No dubious, simply unclear. Maybe you’ve stated them correctly, but how would we know? Science has unanswered questions.

          “The universe is eternal,” for example. What does “universe” mean–just the stuff that came out of our Big Bang? Or is there something larger? And what does “eternal” mean? Did it have a beginning infinitely long ago or no beginning at all?

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          By the universe, I just mean the set of all physical things. Whatever exists in the natural realm. It may cover things beyond the big bang and the multiverse.

          By eternal, I mean no beginning, not an infinitely remote beginning (which seems to be self-contradictory).

        • Bob Seidensticker

          OK.

          Until we know that your presuppositions are correct, this is just speculation. Doesn’t much interest me, I’m afraid.

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          But since you think that God does not exist, you must at least have some theory about where things come from. You can’t just say “I don’t know” if you know of no possible alternate cosmology to theism. Because in that case, theism would win by default.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Must I? We ask science, and science says, “I don’t know.” I’m content to just be patient.

          You seem to imagine some sort of vacuum that simply must be filled with a tentative answer. I can only fill it with an outline: the explanation is probably natural. And (obviously) I offer that outline since the last ten zillion puzzles have been answered with natural explanations.

          What possible justification (except wishful thinking) could imagine that the explanation would be supernatural?

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          The issue is not scientific, but philosophical. It is about the ultimate origin of the things, not about big bangs or parallel universes.

          Of course you may dodge the issue, but then you would be like the ostrich hiding its head in the ground. Or like a believer who won’t open an atheistic book. Don’t shun philosophy, it’s part of atheism.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          We’re trying to figure out reality. What good is philosophy?

          A bad attitude? Maybe. Maybe philosophy actually delivers the goods sometimes. Maybe the leading edge of philosophy is delivering practical, useful, meaningful information. But I sure haven’t seen it.

          I’ve seen philosophy used only as a smokescreen by apologists, so maybe I just need to see the broader picture. All I’m saying is that, from my limited perspective, I see no value.

          Looks like mental masturbation to me.

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          Really? What do you think this blog is all about? It is not about science, it is not about literature or personal growth and not always about politics. It is not religious. Then it MUST be about philosophy (of religion). YOU have been doing philosophy since the beginning. You may choose to do so properly, by studying philosophers, or you may choose to do so randomly and aimlessly, by avoiding the contact of philosophers.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Sure, we can define philosophy that way. But that doesn’t address my concern. Those at the esoteric leading edge of science deliver the goods.

          What have philosophers done for me lately?

  • Hanan

    Very interesting conversation (as much as everyone was getting conversation)

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