The Most Popular Logical Fallacy in Christian Discourse?

I wade through many Christians’ comments and blog posts in which the point boils down to something like, “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.” Or, “I got that job after I prayed for it; therefore, God exists.” Or, “I just know that Grandpa is in heaven; therefore, God exists.”

These Christians imagine a situation like this:

where the arrow indicates causation. That is, God exists, and this causes my sense of God’s presence.

The argument can be expressed more formally:

1. If God existed, I would sense his presence

2. I sense God’s presence

3. Therefore, God exists.

But any argument of this form (If P then Q; Q; therefore, P) is a logical fallacy. Specifically, this is the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

That this is a fallacy is easy to see. For example:

1. If it’s raining, then I have my umbrella

2. I have my umbrella

3. Therefore, it’s raining.

The conclusion in step 3 doesn’t follow because I could have lots of other reasons for having my umbrella. Maybe it completes my outfit. Maybe I want to fly like Mary Poppins. Maybe I need it to act out a Monty Python silly walk or Gene Kelly’s “Singing in the Rain.” Maybe it’s a weapon. Maybe I always carry it, just in case.

The same is true in the “I sense God’s presence” case. The beginning of a more complete map of causes might look something like this:

where HAAD = Hyperactive Agency Detector, a brain trait that natural selection could have favored in early humans. Those who imagined agency (intelligence) behind a rustling in the bushes would run away and live, while those who thought, “Not to worry—probably just the wind” might pay for an error with their lives. A sound might be only the wind or a squirrel … or it might be a leopard. Those who survived (our ancestors) would be the ones with a hyperactive agency detector, which occasionally saw agency where there wasn’t any. For example, this HAAD might assign agency to thunder, drought, and illness.

In this diagram, two possibilities are shown that could create the Christian’s sense of God’s presence, and there might be many more.

Learning correct logical inferences and the long list logical fallacies won’t hurt anyone eager to think more rationally, but if you only learn one, this might be a good one to understand and avoid.

This crime called blasphemy
was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines
not able to take care of themselves.
― Robert G. Ingersoll

Photo credit: Enno Lenze

About Bob Seidensticker
  • SuperMark

    Thanks for this post Bob, I have found that studying logic is good for the mind. For me it helped wash away lots of cognitive dissidence.

    Loved the quote at the end, it reminded me of this one:

    Blasphemy is a Victimless Crime – Dawkins

    • wtfwjtd

      Right on Mark–if god is so butt hurt about something, let him take care of it himself.

  • RichardSRussell

    I once sensed God’s presence as an upwelling within me.
    Fortunately, a short stint driving the porcelain bus cured me of it.

    • wtfwjtd

      Seen on Big Bang Theory(paraphrased):
      Leonard’s Mom, who’s had a few drinks: “I have a warm feeling, spreading in my chest. Is that love?”

      Penny: “No, that’s the Del Taco. And if you get a warm feeling trickling down your leg, head to the bathroom, fast!”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The Lord moves in mysterious ways, brother.

    • Greg G.

      You should inspect your toast to be sure it doesn’t have God’s picture on it before you butter it.

  • SuperMark

    I know this is a little off topic but the current discussion on the previous thread and this post made me think of it:

    “If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward then, brother, that person is a piece of shit and I’d like to get as many of them out in the open as possible. You gotta get together and tell yourself stories that violate every law of the universe just to get through the goddamn day? What’s that say about your reality?” – Rust Cohle

  • smrnda

    This seems like it could be easily explained away by confirmation bias; a person who believes in a god will probably feel the presence of the god, given the right triggers, the way someone who believes in ghosts might *feel* a building is haunted and may even experience or see *something* they take as evidence.

  • MNb

    This version totally applies to me:

    1. If God existed, I would sense his presence
    2. I don’t sense God’s presence
    3. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
    For some reason no christian buys it. Then why should I buy the christian’s version?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      And, of course, your version isn’t a fallacy! Modus tollens is logically sound.

      • James Walker

        well, it’s a bit early to jump on the celebratory bandwagon…

        the problem is in claiming that God is somehow detectable by any sensory apparatus possessed by humans. until that is properly addressed in the opening statement, the conclusion (whether positive “God exists” or negative “God does not exist”) is fallacious.

  • King Dave

    If a tragedy is God’s way of bringing children to heaven then gravity is god’s way of dragging the rest of us to hell.

    Off topic, but merely substitute the word Christianity for Islam and this blog Instantly becomes “hate group” Jihad Watch

    I don’t care because I like both blogs
    Just saying!

  • KarlUdy

    I think your introduction of the particular logical fallacy you discuss is erroneous.

    Let me explain.

    If we change the terms to something other than God, then you can get something like this:
    – The sun exists, therefore I sense its warmth
    – I sense the sun’s warmth, therefore the sun exists

    Where is the logical fallacy? It appears very difficult, perhaps impossible to argue how the two statements could not be either both true, or both false.

    The difference is in the ambiguity of the word “therefore”. In the first, “therefore” is used in a causative sense. In the second, “therefore” is used in a deductive sense.

    If a Christian were to argue that their sensing God’s presence caused God’s existence, that would be the logical fallacy you accuse them of. Just as it would be fallacious for someone to argue that their sensing the sun’s warmth caused the sun to exist. However, to deduce that our sensing of something implies its existence is logically consistent with attributing that thing (the sun, or God) as the cause for our experience.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The logical fallacy is pretty thoroughly explained in the blog post, I think.

      Let’s stick with the examples I gave. If there are errors there, point them out.

      • KarlUdy

        Bob,

        You have not accurately formulated the logical argument. It should read:
        1. God’s existence is the cause of the sense of God’s presence
        2. I sense God’s presence
        3. Therefore God exists

        You can argue about the truth of premise 1. But the argument is not fallacious.

        It works with your rain example too:
        1. It happening to be raining is the cause of my having an umbrella
        2. I have an umbrella
        3. Therefore it is raining

        Again, you could argue about premise 1. But again it is not fallacious.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You have not accurately formulated the logical argument.

          Obviously. The point of the post is that many people make an argument that’s logically fallacious.

        • KarlUdy

          But the problem is that you are saying that Christians use an argument (that happens to be fallacious) that they don’t actually use.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I marvel at your clairvoyance. You don’t think you’re just a bit overconfident?

        • KarlUdy

          For Christians to actually be using the logically fallacious argument you accuse them of, they would need to be claiming that their sensing God’s presence causes God to exist.

          I don’t think I’m overconfident in thinking that Christians don’t use such an argument.

          I’d actually be surprised if you thought they did too.

        • Pofarmer

          “For Christians to actually be using the logically fallacious argument
          you accuse them of, they would need to be claiming that their sensing
          God’s presence causes God to exist.”

          You know, that’s an interesting way to put it, because that’s almost exactly the way I’ve experienced it, and what many Christians use. Think of the statement, “I can sense God in the beauty of nature.” What they are really saying is that ” I can sense the beauty of nature, therefore, God.” So in fact, sensing the beauty of Nature, caused God to exist for them.

        • Greg G.

          Francis Collins comes to mind.

        • KarlUdy

          I’ve had a busy couple of weeks so I haven’t been able to continue this conversation in proper time.

          Looking over things again, I agree that the argument that Bob put is a logical fallacy. However, I still maintain that it is not a fallacy that Christians commonly use.

          In my experience, Christians will not normally formulate the syllogism as Bob put it, but the idea of “I sense God’s presence, therefore God exists” is used to mean that the sensing of God’s presence is enough evidence to rationally come to the conclusion that God exists.

          I think I started off with something along these lines, but probably not expressed clearly enough. And in the to and fro I probably misunderstood some of the criticisms of my not-well-expressed ideas.

        • MNb

          One thing escapes me, Karl. What exactly is the difference between BobS’ syllogism and

          “the sensing of God’s presence is enough evidence to rationally come to the conclusion that God exists.”
          ???
          BobS’ analogy still applies.
          “the sensing of my umbrella is enough evidence to rationally come to the conclusion that it’s raining.”
          And it’s still a logical fallacy.

        • KarlUdy

          Because it is not being said as a logical proof per se, but rather as a statement of evidence that informs their belief.

          “The sense/perception of P implies P” is technically a logical fallacy. This I believe was Bob’s point. However, to choose to generally distrust our senses/perceptions, though it would avoid this particular logical fallacy, would not be considered sensible or rational. Our senses/perceptions are generally considered good evidence.

        • MNb

          The statement of evidence is still incorrect as the umbrella analogy still shows.

          “Our senses/perceptions are generally considered good evidence.”
          By christians like you perhaps. People who rather rely on the scientific method usually are skeptical, though not nihilistic. Hence you’re presenting a false dilemma:

          “to choose to generally distrust our senses/perceptions would not be considered sensible or rational”
          I have heard voices about twice a year for several decades. Just before falling asleep I sometimes feel like falling down. According to psychological research there are quite a few people who have these perceptions.
          That my senses/perceptions clearly do not provide good evidence in these two cases does not imply that they should be distrusted always. What senses perceive always needs to be cross-checked, first of all with the perceptions of other people and immediately afterward with theories formulated by means of deduction. Only then we can increase credibility of both senses/perceptions and those theories.
          There are some additional demands (especially consistence and coherence), but basically this is it.
          So your comment is still a logical fallacy. It only got another label. I might also call it a hasty generalization or a non-sequitur; perhaps even a god of the gaps.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is the sense of God evidence of God? Perhaps so. That’s not what we’re talking about.

        • KarlUdy

          If that is what Christians mean when they say “I believe in God because I sense his presence”, then it does mean they are not committing the fallacy you accuse them of.

        • MNb

          No, another one.

        • Greg G.

          Welcome back to the internet!

          Of course Christians don’t use that exact phrase. Christians commit this fallacy with words like “I know God is real because I feel Jesus in my heart!”

          If this is not the most common fallacy used by Christians, which fallacies do you rank above it?

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know if it’s specifically a fallacy or not, but I’ve also heard “Look at all the good things Cristians do, how could it be a lie?”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you sense God’s presence, then I guess God exists. What we’re talking about is the apparent sensing of God’s existence, and many things can cause that. That’s the fallacy.

        • KarlUdy

          Actually it would still be a logical fallacy, and the logical fallacy you accuse Christians of making. It would still be a logical fallacy if it was anything else (eg The sun’s existence is the cause of our sensing the sun (warmth, visible, etc); I sense the sun, therefore the sun exists also can be expressed as P=>Q; Q=>P) and as Colin explained elsewhere, there is a logical possibility of our senses deceiving us.

          I think one of the difficulties in understanding each other here, is that it is perfectly natural to generally trust our senses/perceptions. Even though such trust does not constitute logical proof, it is usually considered sufficient evidence to justify belief.

          What is more, the level of trust we usually give to our senses/perceptions is such that we would usually require a burden of proof for any argument as to why we should not trust our senses/perception in any particular case.

        • MNb

          “it is usually considered sufficient evidence to justify belief”
          Not in science or we would still use Aristotelian mechanics.

        • KarlUdy

          From memory, observation is extremely important to science.

          In any case, I did say, “usually”. And the transition from Aristotelian to more recent understandings of the universe could be fairly said to have been accomplished only by the burden of proof being carried out by those leading the change. And even then, it was a pretty traumatic development.

        • MNb

          Strawman. I never wrote that observation is less than extremely important to science. I contradicted that it is sufficient evidence to justify believe. That’s absolutely not the same. Hence your comment is irrelevant.
          Moreover I was not talking about Aristotelian understanding of the Universe, but about something much more modest: understanding of movement and especially projectile motion.
          Galilei and Newton, the main culprits, did not only observe. They developed a new, complete theorie, which is in our days called Newtonian mechanics. The first time you met it was probably with the formula s = v*t – distance equals velocity * time.
          This is vital to understand science: it rests on two pillars. One is observation, experiment, empiry, induction. The other is theory, hypothesis, deduction. Both are equally extremely important. Neither is sufficient on its own to justify anything.
          As a belief “god” may or may not be justified. As a hypothesis “god” totally fails. Hence “I sense God’s presence, therefore God exists” remains a logical fallacy, no matter which way you interpret it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Isn’t this just a variation of the old “to experience god, you have to believe in him first” fallacy that we’ve seen several Christian types assert while trying to argue a point here?

        • MNb

          In it’s core yes.

        • 90Lew90

          May I ask, then, if you have no sense of God, what makes you think it exists?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No, I don’t think they do. Straw man.

          “If God existed, then I would sense his presence” does not have us imagining God into existence.

        • KarlUdy

          The statement we were discussing here was, “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists”.

          Now there are at least two ways that one could interpret this statement.

          One is “I sense God’s presence, and as a consequence I deduce that God exists”

          Another is “I sense God’s presence, and this causes God to exist”.

          If you choose the first interpretation there is no logical fallacy.

          If you choose the second interpretation, there is a logical fallacy but you are using an argument that no Christian uses.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Perhaps you didn’t read the post. Let me copy the relevant part for you:

          1. If God existed, I would sense his presence

          2. I sense God’s presence

          3. Therefore, God exists.

        • Lbj

          Are you saying that the existence of God depends on someone sensing His presence?

        • Greg G.

          No, Bob is not. Karl is trying to say that Bob was saying that.

        • Pofarmer

          Karl is doing to Bob what he accused Bob of doing to him, ie twisting his argument. It seems to be common apologetic tactic, accuse someone of doing what you yourself intend to do.

        • MNb

          “If you choose the first interpretation there is no logical fallacy.”
          Sure there is – the deduction is a non-sequitur for exactly the reason BobS provided with his umbrella argument: one might deduce from “I sense God’s presence” all kind of other things.

          ” you are using an argument that no Christian uses”
          I suppose you have spend your time on the bottom of a pond last few days, because it is exactly what CodyGirl has claimed a couple of times. In fact I suspect – even before I had read any comment – that she had inspired BobS to write this piece.

        • Greg G.

          Alvin Plantinga – sensus divinitatis – uses it. He is considered by many Christians to be an intellectual professional philosopher and a sophisticated theologian. Many Christians subscribe to his arguments.

        • smrnda

          If you tell me that you sense god’s presence, I will ask you for specifics on what you are sensing. I can tell you that I am sensing the presence of cthulhu – great, so what? That statement is nothing but argument by assertion.

          If I say ‘when I sense the presence of cthulhu my hands shake’ we might be going somewhere but then we’d be looking at something for which another explanation could be possible.

        • Greg G.

          Alvin Plantinga – sensus divinitatis
          John Calvin – semen religionis
          Jonathan Edwards had a version of it

        • MNb

          You’ll have to formulate your version even more precisely. Statement 1 has to be
          It happening to be raining is the one and only possible cause of my having an umbrella.
          This is acceptable because the I character may witness that this is the case. The god-version becomes

          1. God’s existence is the one and only possible cause of the sense of God’s presence

          And now the result will be some Homeric laughter.
          And you’ll still have to address my version:

          1. God’s existence is the one and only possible cause of the sense of God’s presence
          2. I don’t sense God’s presence
          3. Therefore God doesn’t exist

          See the problem? If apologists formulate their arguments correctly they lose their credibility.

    • SuperMark

      Thank you Karl for not being like Justas and Cody, it is honestly refreshing to see a Christian who can actually think about what he believes.

      That being said i think your comparison is false for one simple fact. The sun emits (sorry if that’s the wrong word, produces maybe) photons, something that is measurable by scientific instruments.

      Muslims can sense Allah’s presence and see him influencing their lives does that mean that Muhammad was a true profit?

      Or perhaps I’m missing your point?

      • KarlUdy

        Thanks SuperMark :-)

        My point was that Bob was attributing a logical fallacy to Christians that I don’t think they make.

        I think that the real issue is that Christians and atheists have different opinions on the truth of some of the premises eg most Christians would say that “God is the cause of the sense of God’s presence”; Bob says that “Hyperactive Agency Detector is the cause of the sense of God’s presence”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No Christian says, “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists”?

        • KarlUdy

          When a Christian says that, they are using “therefore” in a deductive as opposed to causative sense.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          If there were monsters under my bed and in my closet, I would sense them. When I was a child I often sensed monsters under my bed and in my closet. Therefore there were monsters under my bed and in my closet.
          I am of course using “therefore” in a deductive as opposed to causative sense.
          I no longer sense them, therefore they have moved somewhere else. Maybe they are in your closet.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Premise 2 is self-contained. “I sense the sun’s warmth; therefore, the sun exists” is true, but it’s a tautology.

      Where are you going with this? “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists”? Yes, I agree–that is a correct sentence. It is also a tautology.

      I’m walking in a fog of obfuscation. What is your point?

      • KarlUdy

        For the logical fallacy to exist, you must interpret “I sense God’s presence; therefore God exists” as meaning that God’s existence is logically dependent on our sensing his presence, in other words, that by sensing God’s presence we cause God to exist.

        Show me a Christian who believes that they cause God to exist by sensing God’s presence and I’ll agree that they are committing the logical fallacy you are accusing Christians of.

        Otherwise, you’re barking up a tree of your own imagination.

        • 90Lew90

          Are you going to prove less impenetrable than your cohorts here? I certainly hope so. As Bob has correctly pointed out, both formulations (God/the Sun) are tautological. But there’s an extra layer by which we can test your Sun-claim in that it’s falsifiable. The God-claim isn’t. The God-claim is not only tautological (and we’re really talking about rhetorical tautology here as opposed to formal logical tautology, which is different and not relevant), it’s tautology on blind assertion. The Sun has myriad attributes which are apparent to all people and indeed to all living things. God? Who knows?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The 3-step proof above is a logical fallacy (you know how if-then propositions work?). Look it up by name if you want.

          No, I’m not imagining anyone conjuring up God by imagining him. That is indeed ridiculous–as ridiculous as the ontological argument.

          And how we jumped to the conclusion that zero Christians think this way escapes me.

        • smrnda

          These words are being used in the usual sense of logical propositions in which causality is irrelevant.

    • MNb

      You formulate it incorrectly.

      – The sun exists, therefore I sense its warmth
      – I sense warmth, therefore the sun exists”

      is a logical fallacy indeed. The warmth may come from another source. If this is difficult for you I don’t think high of your logical skills. The rest of your comment confirms this.

      • KarlUdy

        I like the way you edit my logical argument so you can accuse me of a logical fallacy. Fortunately, anyone who actually reads what I wrote will be able to see you have misrepresented me.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          Reading comprehension must not be your strong point. MNb clearly stated that you had formulated your argument incorrectly and rewrote it for you. The reason you had it incorrect is not because your original syllogism was fallacious, it is because it was not analogous to the argument used by many Christians. It was pretty clear in context what MNb meant, but you somehow managed to misinterpret it.

        • MNb

          I didn’t accuse you of a logical fallacy. I accuse you of incorrect formulating. BB underneath has it right. Compare

          1. If it’s raining, then I have my umbrella
          2. I have my umbrella
          3. Therefore, it’s raining.

          with

          1. The sun exists, therefore I sense its warmth
          2. I sense the sun’s warmth
          3. therefore the sun exists

          BobS’ statement nr.2 doesn not mention “rain”, but yours does mention “sun”.
          You are the one who did the editing. If you had provided the correct version of your analogous argument the logical fallacy would have become clear immediately and exactly the same as in BobS’ version.

    • avalon

      Hi Karl,
      “If a Christian were to argue that their sensing God’s presence caused
      God’s existence, that would be the logical fallacy you accuse them of.
      Just as it would be fallacious for someone to argue that their sensing
      the sun’s warmth caused the sun to exist. However, to deduce that our
      sensing of something implies its existence is logically consistent with attributing that thing (the sun, or God) as the cause for our experience.”

      You make a good point about causative vs deductive. But a deduction based on our sense experience can still be objectively wrong. This is where science is useful. For example, let’s modify your deductive example (I sense the sun’s warmth, therefore the sun exists):

      ‘I sense the earth is stationary, therefore the earth is stationary’.

      What science does in this case is provide the counter-intuitive fact that the earth is not stationary. It then explains the reasons we don’t sense it’s motion.

      Saying that Christians deduce the existence of God based on their sense of His presence merely tells us what your intuitive interpretation of your experience is. Science explains your experience of God’s presence in an objective way. It is not your experience that’s in question, it’s your interpretation of that experience.

      Science seeks to understand what is real, not just what we sense intuitively. Your statement “I sense the sun’s warmth, therefore the sun exists” is a flawed deduction. A few simple questions proves why:
      Does the sun cease to exist at night? Or when it rains? Do other suns exist if you can’t feel their warmth? If you see the light from other suns, millions of light-years away, does that mean they still exist?

    • Greg G.

      This is not an argument against the existence of gods. It’s a counter-argument to an argument for a god. It’s similar to the paranoid man who irrationally senses that people are out to get him. But there may be somebody who really is out to get him that he doesn’t even sense. Likewise, every theist could have a false sense of God’s presence though a God who wouldn’t allow himself to be eensed may exist. Plantinga’s sensus divinitatis may simply be “hyper-active agency detection” disorder. Unless causes like that are ruled out, it’s not evidence for a god.

    • smrnda

      I know that internal fire gives off warmth. If I feel warm, I would be wrong to assume that I *must* be near a fire.

    • Rudy R

      You are guilty of the same logical fallacy you accuse Bob. To reconstruct your reasoning, X = sun exists; Y = I sense its (sun’s) warmth
      X, therefore Y
      Y, therefore X

      Your conclusion is among its premise, so you have used circular reasoning.

  • Rick

    I agree with the main point of your argument, Bob. My disagreement here is that I don’t know of any real Christians who make the logical error you assert they do as if it is commonplace. Therefore you have set up a strawman argument to tear down.

    • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

      • https://anodeofranvier.wordpress.com/ Steven Rowlinson

        That is fucking brilliant my friend; I nearly spilt my beer!

    • Greg G.

      The Sensus divinitatus discussed by Plantinga and “semen religionus” by Calvin, plus all their followers commit the fallacy Bob points out. WL Craig speaks of “personal experience” in the same sense. It is not a strawman argument.

    • GeorgiaPeach23

      Sure they do. Every time a Christian cites a commonplace experience or strong emotion as proof of God, they’re committing this fallacy. On my Facebook feed today, the person thanking God for saving their son is failing to consider any other reason he survived. This family is already incorporating these events into their god-meme.
      1) god saves Christians
      2) my son survived an accident
      3) god saved him
      4) god exists

      What’s kind of mind boggling is that people do this with crap as mundane as nice weather on a holiday weekend or a discount at target.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Agreed–there are myriad variations. Arguments of this sort that reinforces Christians’ religious belief by ignoring other explanations might fall into this category.

        • GeorgiaPeach23

          Thanks. I think people are stuck on the phrase “sense his presence”. As a Christian I didn’t often feel a physical presence of god, but I often “sensed” or intuited his hand (will? power?) in daily events or especially in dramatic situations.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s the mental trap you fall into. You are basically operating in an alternate reality.

      • Pofarmer

        If God were really all that, wouldn’t he avoid the accident in the first place.

        • GeorgiaPeach23

          I asked a friend this recently (he gave god credit for airport security being fast then faulted nature for a weather delay). He said he knew God is good so he knew God wouldn’t delay him. Straight face too.

        • Pofarmer

          That skips torturing logic, and kills it outright.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          God is an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

        • Lbj

          There are all kinds of things that are falsifiable.

        • hector_jones

          But if God prevented accidents from happening in the first place, he’d never get any thanks. So he has to set up the mishap, then save a person from the danger He created, in order to get thanks, much like Richard Jewell was accused of doing.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, there was the deal with the “Missouri Angel” last year in here somewhere, and people were going on about how it was such a miracle that the girl survived the crash. Hell, she was in an old Mercedes 320, I think, which is about as close to a tank as is still on the road.

        • SuperMark

          Nice observation! I actually still drive one of those things best car I’ve ever owned. I thought the same thing when i read an article about that incident, of course jebus saved her and it had nothing to do with the car she was driving.

        • Pofarmer

          There was just so much stupid in that whole story. The car was on it’s top. The volunteer fire dept had tried to cut through the FRAME of the car with their Jaws of life equipment. Of course it wasn’t going to cut through that huge old frame, it’s not designed for that. So the priest says his prayer with the girl, and they flip the car so they can cut from the top, and, with fresh equipment from another department, they cut through the thinner upper portions of the car just fine, why, it was a MIRACLE the equipment did what it was made to do. I was practically banging my head on the desk reading this nonsense.

      • Rick

        You have all made my point by citing overly simplistic examples that are mostly hypothetical or very shallow, nominal Christians at best. As I said, I don’t know any serious Christians who make the arguments Bob does. You have all helped to make my point clearer. Thanks. The strawman lives.

        • Pofarmer

          Giving actual examples is not a strawman argument, and, like it or not, most christians are simple folk and most faith is simple faith, I see it constantly and repeatedly in my own family, my kids friends, neighbors, you name it. I don’t know what to make of your nominal christians comment. I can gaurantee you most if the faithful I know that make this exact fallacious mistake repeatedly, would be highly offended.

        • Compuholic

          most faith is simple faith

          I would argue that all faith is simple. The only thing that varies is the degree to which believers care about the contradictions with reality.

          And if you care about reality the convolutions you have to go through to justify your beliefs are getting more and more complicated. Faith itself is not complicated.

        • Rick

          Some elements of faith are simplistic. Like the over-reliance on blind random chance having the ability to create complex structures that have the appearance of design. How is the atheist’s faith in that any different from shallow Christians’ faith? Check out where information originates in DNA. Accident? Whose faith is shallow?

        • SuperMark

          You diminish your own beliefs by comparing acceptance of science and acceptance of the unknown to faith. I hear this shit all the time and it drives me crazy, just because I accept scientific consensus and accept that we don’t know everything and that science doesn’t have all the answers doesn’t mean “I have faith in science”. I don’t think you truly know what faith is or how science works.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, it’s just a god of the gaps argument, as NDT says–“god is just an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s weird when Christians claim that “I have faith in God” is evidence based while “I have faith in science” is not.

        • SuperMark

          Ha! Great point Bob, I’ll use that one for sure next time it comes up. Which is actually more often than I’d like to admit.

        • MNb

          Yeah, I’m going to steal this one from you at the first opportunity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Please do. I’ve learned quite a bit from you and other commenters.

        • Greg G.

          If it looks like plagiarism, it’s only because I couldn’t remember how to spell Seidensticker.

        • Compuholic

          I get it, you are easily impressed by big words and shiny graphics. Evolution has no problem with creating complex structures. In fact complexity is easy to generate. Making things as simple as possible to perform a given functions is hard.

          And btw. the word “blind random chance” reveals that you don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about.

          You might want to have a look at some genetic algorithms like this one which evolves something car-like for you. Starting randomly, breeding from successful predecessors with random mutations

          Since SuperMark has already pointed out the irony that in order to diss science you are dissing faith, I will leave it at that.

        • Greg G.

          The video is still buffering 60% of the way through. The process is not as tidy as depicted. All the interactions are regulated by the magnet-like charges of covalent molecular bonds of amino acids that happen to float by. If their combination of positive and negative charges line up with the opposite charges, it is held in place, otherwise it is repelled. When a section is improperly fit in an egg or sperm the error can be passed on. Voila! New information! This event doesn’t happen to every copy of the gene, so no information is lost.

          It either causes the fertilized egg to not function and die, or it may change the structure of the organism. The change may be neutral to function. The change may be detrimental and will be selected agaisnt by natural selection. If the change is beneficial, natural selction will have a great impact on the other alleles of the gene, allowing the change to prosper.

        • MNb

          “blind random chance having the ability to create complex structures”
          Yeah yeah, when your god the creator takes a break from creating new forms of life and human souls he keeps himself busy with designing snowflakes and grains of sands.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          Two quick points about the video:
          1. Could you have found a less credible source than the Discovery Institute?
          2. The video gives a horribly inaccurate depiction of how a cell works. Real cells are nothing like that. They are chaotic places with molecules constantly bumping into each other in cramped, messy spaces. They bind to the wrong thing, get jammed, and fall apart constantly. They are not neat, tidy places full of purposeful movement and elegant design.

          As to where information originates in DNA, the “information” contained in DNA is in no way analogous to the information you deal with in your daily life. Thus no comparison can be made or conclusions drawn based on where you think information typically comes from.
          And yes natural processes are fully capable of creating the type of “information” that is in DNA, since that “information” is just chemistry. However, as you said, mere blind random chance cannot. Which is why no competent scientist, atheist or otherwise, says it can. The forces are blind, however there is much more than random chance involved. At least take the time to take some upper level biology courses before you comment like this.

        • SuperMark

          Hell Yes! Thanks Ben I was hoping you would respond to Rick’s post. Schooled!!!

        • Lbj

          1-Right. Discovery Institute is not credible because you say so.

          1- If the “”information” contained in DNA is in no way analogous to the information you deal with in your daily life” then what it is analogous to? How did the forces of nature create the DNA?

        • SuperMark

          Ben already answered this in the previous thread why don’t you go back and read it? Thanks for your input Ben some of us are paying attention.

        • Greg G.

          Oh look. The one who is questioning a serious student of the sciences, with the same questions again, numbered both points with a “1”.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          Information isn’t really a good word, but it’s a word we are stuck with due to language evolving to deal with every day occurrences rather than the molecular scale goings-on of a cell. A better word would be to call it what it is: chemistry. Everything that goes on in the cell is chemistry. Everything that forms, alters and propagates DNA are the natural forces of chemistry. Everything that results from the “information” in DNA is chemistry. I don’t see why this is difficult to understand.

        • Lbj

          What exactly is DNA if its not information? What is the nature of this chemistry?

          For example, if we were to put all the chemical components of DNA in a test tube would we get DNA?

        • Benjamin Bastin

          1. I already told you it is a chemical. The nature of its chemistry is no different than the chemistry you should have learned about had you paid closer attention in school.
          2. Under some conditions yes, we would. But we should really be talking about RNA, since most scientists agree RNA most likely preceded DNA. I suggested a book to you in Bob’s previous post; Life Ascending the ten great inventions of evolution by Nick Lane. In the first few chapters he describes how it has in fact been confirmed that RNA spontaneously forms, polymerizes and propagates in conditions like those found in deep sea vents. This has been known for quite some time.

        • Greg G.

          I would try to explain DNA in analogy to hydrocarbon chains but your question about the nature of the chemistry leads me to believe it is hopeless. If they didn’t offer chemistry in your home school, you should demand your money back.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          Oops I forgot to respond to your first point. The Discovery Institute is not credible because they don’t do research, have been caught lying, and by their own admission have no theory

        • Lbj

          Other scientists have lied also. Have you read Meyer’s book Signature of the Cell?

          I thought they they promote ID as a theory.

        • MNb

          As always you thought wrongly. Here is the latest place they conduct their “research”:

          http://faithandscience.ag.org/

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangel_University

          Note that IDiot nr. 3 Klingdiddlehopper used Meyer’s crap Signature of the Cell to make his case that IDiotery is not about science indeed:

          http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/04/whats_the_natur084971.html

          “Only theism, of course, allows for a source of design”
          Ie theology.
          He confirms it here:

          http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/04/as_you_look_for084391.html

          “which demands a transcendent cause.”
          More theology.
          Casey Bumpkin has gone the same road last few months. but I don’t feel like looking up the relevant articles now. There is only so much crap I can stomach on one day.

          Edit: BobS provided an example just above.
          ID is not about science.

        • Greg G.

          In common English, “theory” means hypothesis. In science, the term “theory” means “explanation that has been thoroughly tested”. ID has not come near to being a scientific theory.

          Originally, they believed that they would discover things that would overturn science. Then it was pointed out that the approaches they were taking had been anticipated and solved with natural explanations decades earlier.

          For example, their big idea was “irreducible complexity” but Hermann Muller had predicted it by evolutionary means almost a century ago (1918) and referred to it as “interlocking complexity” in 1939.

          Now the Discovery Institute has been overrun with Young Earth Creationists.

        • MNb

          Actually the Dishonesty Institute is silent about that issue – the Big Umbrella idea. Unfortunately Ol’ Hambo, the Australian Ayatollah doesn’t cooperate. If he flames the Disco Tutes they remain totally silent.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          There’s a difference between a scientist lying and an entire organization lying about their purpose which the Discovery Institute is guilty of. Tell Stephen Meyer to get his Signature of the Cell thesis peer reviewed and published in a reputable journal. I mostly read the primary literature, but will read popular books written by experts in the field, which Meyer is not.
          And the Discovery Institute has publicly admitted they have no theory. Try to pay attention to the real world.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s the main point IMO: here is a non-biologist critiquing biology. Without an agenda, who would care?

          If he actually has new ideas that could plausibly lead to the overturning of evolution, great. Like you said, there’s a field (Biology) in which he could get his ideas critiqued. IDers could wake me up when they’ve changed the scientific consensus. I have no interest until that point, especially since this is screaming out as a religion-driven activity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • MNb

          Ah, thanks. After finding two articles by fellow IDiot Klingdiddlehopper (see underneath) I hadn’t the stomach anymore for looking up that one.
          Yup, as noted over at The Sensuous Curmudgeon the IDiots from Seattle have given up any pretension that they are about science.

        • MNb

          In addition to BenB underneath: the IDiots from Seattle are not credible because they have admitted lately that they are about theology, not about science. If you like I can give you the relevant links. But you won’t be interested, because your existential fear has stopped you from learning anything since years.

          Edit: you can find a few links underneath.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          1. I can imagine someone responding, “But look at how cool the graphics are!”

          2. One response I get a lot is “the only source of information that we know about is an intelligence.” My response has been, “OK, then I guess DNA shaped by evolution is the sole exception.” Your response seems to be that there are different kinds of “information.” Can you suggest any other responses to this Creationist challenge?

          I’ve argued evolution with Rick for many years, and it’s amazing that, after being corrected myriad times when he calls it random chance, he’s back at it. I marvel at some people’s determination not to be educated.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          I don’t think it’s completely wrong to say DNA has information, but it requires a very different definition of information than what creationists need for their argument to make sense. Nevertheless, the fact is “information” is routinely created by natural processes all the time. Tree rings contain all kinds of information such as the age of the tree, relative amounts of precipitation per year, fluctuations in ratios of carbon isotopes, and so on. It would be silly to insist it required intelligence to make that information.
          I guess a simple response to a creationist would be since every single example of intelligence ever discovered is the product of a physical brain, the intelligence that created the info in DNA must also be the product of a physical brain.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Maybe what I need is an “Information” scale with tree-ring or glacier-layer data at one end and a computer program at the other. You’re saying that DNA is on this scale somewhere, and it isn’t all that close to the computer program.

          Does this exist?

        • Benjamin Bastin

          No it’s not a scale. I don’t think the different types of information are in any way comparable to each other. I think if we talk about scales people will tend to think we are talking merely about differences in degree or complexity; in which case it would be strange to say DNA is closer to tree-rings than a computer program. This is why I don’t like the word information at all when it comes to DNA. It brings with it thousands of years of linguistic baggage that isn’t relevant to what DNA is. DNA is not a code, or a recipe, or a blueprint, or a set of instructions. It is a chemical, and I think the best way to disabuse people of the “information therefore intelligence” idea is to focus on the chemistry and what actually happens inside a cell rather than the semantic shortcuts we often use to describe it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, it’s a chemical, but its action is very different from some that we know of. ATP turns into ADP to release energy. Carbon combines with oxygen to release energy. And so on.

          But then you have DNA with lots of reasonable analogs with information: it can be copied, errors can creep in, there are error-correcting mechanisms, this or that might happen depending on what a certain section of DNA holds, etc. It looks like base-4 data.

          If your point is that I simply have a cramped view of chemistry, I’m sure you’re right. Then instead of a scale like I suggested above, maybe a list of the different categories of stuff (“molecule made with release of energy,” for example) that chemistry can do.

          On such a list, would DNA be unique in some of the things it “does”?

        • Benjamin Bastin

          I don’t think there is anything particularly unique about ATP + H2O -> ADP + Pi + energy. It is the hydrolysis of a high energy phosphate bond which releases energy. How common phosphate bonds are outside of biomolecules I really don’t know, but the chemistry involved is nothing unique. Absorbing or releasing energy is just something chemical reactions do. One of the great discoveries in chemistry was the synthesis of urea which showed scientists there was no difference between organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry.
          I will have to think longer about the rest of what you wrote. I will point out that I am far from an expert in information theory. I’m not even an expert in my own field yet. As I’ve said before there are no doubt definitions of information people have come up with that apply to DNA, but I do think the best way to think about DNA is in terms of chemistry rather than information regardless of how many analogs between them we can come up with.

        • Benjamin Bastin

          Sorry Bob, I’m going to have to take the lazy way out here. I found this link to John Wilkins’ website on a recent PZ Myers post, and he says it much better than I can right now. One of the things about being a PhD student is realizing that although your understanding of a subject may be growing quickly, your ability to communicate it to others often lags far behind. At least, that is the problem I have.

          Although I wasn’t able to answer your questions on my own, I appreciate you making me think about it.

        • Benjamin Bastin
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks. Yeah, I saw that article. Not super helpful, but something.

        • Greg G.

          I think what Ben means by DNA not really being like information is that there are many types of information. The IDiots seem to want to apply Shannon information which measures how much information is lost in transmission or how much useful information can be transmitted given the limits of how much information can be transmitted.

          A parent can only transmit half its DNA but it is combined with half the other parent’s so there is no loss. But any mutation is a degradation in Shannon terms. Even a duplicated gene with one having a new mutation, thus creating new information is counted as a loss in Shannon terms.

          Shannon is useful though when used to measure distortion in a stereo system. The signal coming out may be distorted.

          But apply that to the light of a star that starts out with a full spectrum of wavelengths. The atomic ions that make up the star absorb certain frequencies of the spectrum causing a loss of Shannon information. However, to an observer on Earth, the spectrum absorption can be used to identify the elements of the star and the Doppler shift of the absorption bands tells us the relative velocity between us and the star. Other absorption patterns in the spectrum can tell about gas clouds the light passed through, their chemical make-up, and their relative velocity.

          So what an IDiot calls a loss of information can actually be an increase in information if you measure it with the proper information definition.

        • Pofarmer

          So, Ricks idea of not simple faith, is to fall into the completd idiocy of young earth creationism?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, Rick is a YEC.

          What has always surprised me is that many YECs don’t take the easy out, which is to simply say that they just believe it and that’s that. That’d be fine, and we’d find something else to talk about. Instead, they say that the evidence argues in their favor. That is, on the field of epistemic battle, they will prevail.

          With a gauntlet slap like that, I have a hard time turning the other cheek. (But, of course, saying that they care about evidence is just a front, and the long debate goes nowhere.)

        • Ron

          “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.” ~Proverbs 26:11 :)

        • SuperMark

          So Rick is this your view on genetics?

        • Rick

          The fact that you have relatives who would be offended does not falsify my contention. In fact, you agree with my position. Their expression of faith on this basis is shallow.

        • Lbj

          The most simplistic “faith” I have found is atheism. All it asserts by faith is that God does not exist.

        • Philmonomer

          You cannot even get the definition of atheism right?

          (Is this mere ignorance, or trolling? I suspect that whoever said you were a troll above is (almost certainly) right.)

          (Ugh. I am feeding the troll.)

        • Lbj

          Of course I got it right–“Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.” https://www.google.com/search?q=atheism&rlz=2C1CHFX_enUS0537US0538&oq=atheism&aqs=chrome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8

        • Philmonomer

          The people who use the word here mean “Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist.” (as your own citation says).

        • SuperMark

          Yeah that’s what Justas does, he will soon tell you what you believe no matter what you say.

        • MNb

          Don’t you love that kind of christian humility?

        • Ron
        • Greg G.

          There must be a joke about that cat that ends with “Anywhere he wants.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • Lbj

          Agreed.

        • Greg G.

          When Justas says “agreed”, it means he doesn’t understand your point. When he disagrees with you, it means he doesn’t understand your point.

        • Lbj

          Ditto for ye

        • Greg G.

          I must say, that is the cleverest reply you have made yet.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Perhaps ol’ Justas has been a Poe all along.

        • Greg G.

          Poe or no, I’m beginning to feel sorry for him after thinking about how he defended the idea that the meaning of life must come from an external source. He gave the example of a school where the education didn’t matter, it was only the grades you got from the teacher. It seems that the only meaning life has for him is the approval he gets from others. He may go tell his church group or his family that he has been battling atheists and brag that he hasn’t learned anything from them. Abandoning an argument would be an admission of failure so he doesn’t even change them in light of new evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          The arguments get dumber and more desperate.

        • Greg G.

          I gave you Alvin Plantinga and his sensus divinitatis. Do you consider him a shallow, nominal Christian? Maybe you are lobbying for the No True Christian as the #1 fallacy.

        • Rick

          Give me your synopsis of please “senses divinitatis” please.

        • Greg G.

          Plantinga says the humans have a sense of the divine which justifies religious belief in general and some people have a defective “sensus divinitatis”.

          You should address Plantinga’s case rather than my brief synopsis.

        • MNb

          Do we once again enjoy the spectacle of atheists knowing apologetics better than christians?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensus_divinitatis
          http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/20008123?uid=3739064&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21104206500607
          http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=381C67F95B72B662ACE7DC42B6020A11.journals?fromPage=online&aid=26701
          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/books/alvin-plantingas-new-book-on-god-and-science.html?_r=3&ref=books&

          From the last link, page 2:

          ““I think there is such a thing as a sensus divinitatis, and in some people it doesn’t work properly,” he said, referring to the innate sense of the divine that Calvin believed all human beings possess.”

        • Greg G.

          Thank you. That quote is what I had in mind.

        • Greg G.

          I provided a link to some famous theologians who espoused it.

          Your strawman argument needs a brain.

          Thanks for playing.

        • Rick

          Famous theologians can be wrong. I agree with you. These reasons for faith, as stated by Bob if repeated by any theologians as the sole basis for faith, are shallow.

        • Greg G.

          I think famous theologians, infamous theologians, not famous theologians, sophisticated theologians and shallow theologians are wrong.

          You are shifting the goalposts. Nobody has said these are the sole bases for faith, only the most commonly stated.

          People who criticize science with phrases like “random chance” are rejecting it on a shallow basis. If one’s faith requires a shallow understanding of science, the faith is shallow.

        • MNb

          Good for you. It doesn’t matter for the article, simply because BobS is addressing this basis as used by believers and theologians. That there are more versions of christian belief than actual christians is one of the first things we atheists learn when debating christians.
          So “I sense god” is not the basis of your belief. Once again, good for you. Then this article is not for you and every single comment of yours on this page is irrelevant.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Rick is apparently saying that the way of finding evidence suggested in the post is never used by a single Christian. Not a one out of the nearly 2 billion Christians? That surprises me.

        • wtfwjtd

          Rick: “I don’t know any serious Christians who make the arguments Bob does.”

          Which makes one wonder–how does one distinguish between “serious” and “un-serious” Christians? Is one free to dismiss the arguments put forth by “un-serious” Christians? Or is this just the No True Christian fallacy rephrased?

        • Greg G.

          It’s a new one: The No True Serious Christian fallacy. Wait, I’m not sure this is a fallacy, though.

        • wtfwjtd

          Can’t you just picture it now–the un-serious Christian getting up to testify before the congregation: “I just want everyone to know, I sorta kinda accepted Jesus as my savior, and I think he’s an important part of my life, pretty much…”

        • Greg G.

          When they come to your door and say, “There might be a heaven and a hell and we might have a way to get to heaven. You wouldn’t want to talk about, would you?”

        • wtfwjtd

          Ha ha, yeah, as in “This might be sorta kinda important, but, we don’t want to inconvenience you…”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          :-)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m guessing that’s it–there are wannabe “Christians” who have sloppy thinking, but they’re not true Christians.

          I wonder how many “true Christians” there are?

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, as Justas pointed out above, according to Rick even Paul isn’t a True Christian(TM).
          Oh wait–maybe it’s like the “Shake a Snake” song–“They’re a weedin’ out the hypocrites, the heathens, and the fakes, ya might fool a brother, but ya don’t fool a snake” (or Rick)…

          So,only True Christians(TM) can handle snakes, drive out demons, and drink poison, maybe? If you can’t do this stuff, then you are obviously a fake! Who says Christianity has no use for the scientific method?

        • Greg G.

          I think we have a candidate passage that the fallacy in question predates Christianity:

          Wisdom of Solomon 13:1-5
          1 For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists, nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;
          2 but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
          3 If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them.
          4 And if people were amazed at their power and working,
          let them perceive from them how much more powerful is the one who formed them.
          5 For from the greatness and beauty of created things
          comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.

          It sounds like CodyGirl’s argument for God.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a great find Greg, and you are right, Cody must have gotten her God argument from this.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That reminds me of the cases of the snake handlers who’ve died recently. Incredibly, if anyone knows that God has no interest or ability in keeping people safe from snakes, it’s them. They know it doesn’t work, and the evidence does nothing for them.

        • Greg G.

          Only those who agree with Rick. Every other one is shallow.

        • Rudy R

          Bob refutes a god exists using a logical fallacy
          A logical fallacy is a pattern of reasoning that is always wrong
          Therefore, a god exists.

        • Greg G.

          A logical fallacy is a pattern of reasoning that is always wrong

          I would say a fallacy is just “not always right”. A fallacy might be enticing because it is usually right but the fact it could be wrong makes it a fallacy.

        • SuperMark

          Using logic to explain logic, I love it!

        • Greg G.

          Rudy R is pretty sharp. If he meant to have something like “in a deductive argument” at the end of the sentence, he would be right.

    • Ron

      From GotQuestions:

      Question: “Does God exist? Is there evidence for the existence of God?”

      How do we know God exists? As Christians, we know God exists because we speak to Him every day. We do not audibly hear Him speaking to us, but we sense His presence, we feel His leading, we know His love, we desire His grace.

      You were saying?

      • Lbj

        This describes the atheist the tee:

        “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. “Romans 1

        • SuperMark

          Don’t feed the trolls everybody! This thread is going very well, don’t let this troll ruin it!

        • Greg G.

          But Justas just provided us with a great data point in support of Bob’s claim.

        • MNb

          It’s such a gem that it doesn’t need any answer, not even from bottomless me. But in the near future I will try if I can drag him even lower.

        • davidk

          “Shut up, ” he explained.

    • Greg G.

      Justas has provided us with another data point to show that it is not a strawman argument.

      Romans 1:19-20
      19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

      Romans 1:19-20 speaks of “invisible qualities” that are “clearly seen”. Either the verse is completely absurd or the “clearly seen” is referring to another way of sensing that is not from the five senses. So even Paul says that knowledge of God can come from a sense of God.

      So the shallow Christians must include Paul and his followers for the last 2000 years.

    • LunaMoth

      Personally, I grew up with Christian school, Sunday school, and church, and heard this one quite a bit, and can assure you most of those people, were “real Christians” (as in people who believed in teachings in and the god of the bible and who believed Jesus is their lord and savior). I understand that this experience would likely vary from person to person and possibly even geographically. I don’t think that this fallacy is limited to Christians either, I’ve heard non Christian theists assert the same- that if you have a “feeling” that you interpret as meaning that the particular god that you happen to believe in is near, that it is evidence for that god’s existence.

  • Ron

    I sense God’s presence.

    You can easily demonstrate the presence of heat, humidity, pressure, radiation, electro-magnetic fields, etc.

    But I challenge the theists to demonstrate the presence of a shapeless, immaterial being that leaves no imprint upon our five senses or any instrument of measurement. How does one “sense” something that triggers no physical sensors?

    • asmondius

      With that part of you which is not physical.

      • 90Lew90

        Ah of course. That bit. Hang on. Which bit?

        • James Walker

          that would be the “imagination” bit. it’s a fairly useful bit but sometimes difficult to demonstrate.

        • 90Lew90

          I wasn’t aware that bit is not physical.

        • James Walker

          well, ok, it is properly explained by the “brain” bit, which is physical… but we have no idea as yet which neurons are responsible for imagining non-physical things so… 😉

        • asmondius

          ‘…imagining non-physical things…’

          Such as integers, for example?

        • Greg G.

          FYI, Justas399 had to find a new hobby after he repeated another argument that had been refuted at least six times.

        • MNb

          That bit you have lost due to too much religious infight, but all those fighters agree upon: your soul.

      • MNb

  • Greg G.

    Is there a god above the god that can be sensed by humans? Can the god above humans sense the god above itself if that upper god wishes to remain hidden for ineffable reasons? Just because the god above humans can’t sense the upper god doesn’t mean the upper god doesn’t exist. It could be gods all the way up.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Nope, it doesn’t work that way. The god above us says that he’s the top dog. You ask if he could be mistaken about that–no, because he said so.

  • Sven2547

    I had someone seriously try this argument on me:
    * God is love
    * Love exists
    * Therefore God exists.

    No joke. I was speechless.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      CodyGirl, a commenter here, has made a similar argument. She didn’t start with love but some other thing (the universe?) that we all agree exists and then concluded that we all believe.

    • Sophia Sadek

      An even worse one is, “God is love, so if you say there is no God, then you are saying that there is no love.”

  • RoverSerton

    Love is blind, God is love, God is blind.

    • Greg G.

      God is love.
      Love is blind.
      Stevie Wonder is blind.
      Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

      • MNb

        Well, I’m not a fan of SW, but still that conclusion makes more sense than the original version!

  • SuperMark

    I came across this quote today and the last part really reminded me of the conversations I’ve been having with Christians here the past few days

    To the Christian their holy book is more important/authoritative than any logical or fact based idea:

    Water is to parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

    What do we do if someone doubts the truth of this proposition? What if someone comes forward and says, “I’m sorry, but that’s not how I choose to think about water”?

    All we can do is appeal to scientific values.

    If a person doesn’t share those values, the conversation is over. We must appeal to the value of understanding the world, value of evidence, the value of logical consistency.

    If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide that proves someone should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you invoke to show that they should value logic? – Sam Harris

    • MNb

      Then there is still one thing left. That person almost always has the need to show that science backs up his/her belief system one way or another. Even Ol’ Hambo from AIG does. Ie that person claims to share the scientific values, even if that claim is wrong.
      Hence you can show what the scientific values really are, which in my experience more often than not causes some discomfort.

      • SuperMark

        I totally agree, and I honestly think that’s a good thing. I was told growing up that the bible was historically accurate, validated by archaeological evidence, and scientifically valid. Once I actually started looking at the “evidence” it became very clear that this was all a lie. While there will always be people who can ignore their cognitive dissidence, the ones who cannot will see the truth.

        • MNb

          Science may or may not be the enemy of all religions, it’s certainly the enemy of fundamentalism. Hence I liked Justas’ analogy of teachers/diploma’s giving meaning to education. It implies that people stop learning anything new as soon as they have left school. So his analogy may very well explain their bigotry.

  • ColinConnaughton

    I have to disagree with you that the first argument, the sequence of statements, 1, 2, & 3, are equivalent to P=>Q, Q=>P. Suppose I said 1) If it’s raining and I am in the open I would sense (i.e. feel) the rain, 2) I feel the rain, 3) Therefore it is raining. That would be a good argument. You present a straw man representation. And I’m on your side. I’m an atheist. I stopped reading from that point on. Also, I think the a more common argument in my experience is the argument from popularity, ‘Everyone else believes it. They can’t all be wrong.’ Also fallacious, of course.

    • Philmonomer

      This issue is addressed in the comments below.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      If you feel rain, then I guess it’s raining. There are no other options. You’ve changed the argument.

      If there’s a specific problem with the rain/umbrella formulation that I have above, point it out.

      • hisxmark

        Or it could just be a passing flock of birds.

        • Philmonomer

          I think Bob is pointing out that Colin has changed the argument into a tautology:

          “I feel rain, therefore its is raining.”

          Colin didn’t say, “I feel liquid falling from the sky, therefore it is raining.”

        • hisxmark

          But religious folks can’t usually tell the difference between getting rained on and the other.

    • ColinConnaughton

      OK Bob. I’ve read the whole article now. I believe you did not get my point which is understandable since I did not spell it out fully. I will try to explain myself fully and apologies if it is a bit long and verbose.

      I would prefer to use the conventional mathematical symbols ‘=>’ for ‘implies’ and ‘Q where P = ‘I sense God’s presence’ and Q = ‘God exists’.

      So in your representation:-

      (1. If God existed, I would sense his presence

      2. I sense God’s presence

      3. Therefore, God exists.)

      it seems to me that you have statement 1) back to front.

      You then equate that to

      (1. If it’s raining, then I have my umbrella

      2. I have my umbrella

      3. Therefore, it’s raining.)

      Now, in my post, I just replaced 2) with ‘I sense it is raining’ simply because it seems to me to be closer to your earlier version of 2) (‘I sense God’s presence’) and to try to show that this sequence is fairly reasonable (but not watertight). Now, I know that my sequence (including ‘I sense it is raining’) is also not representative of “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.” so there is no point is faulting it. I know it is faulty.

      To try to point out how your representation of “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.” is equivalent to ‘P=>Q, Q=>P’ (which is, of course, as you state, a classic circular argument) I would ask you to state what is P and what is Q in “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.” and then which is the statement ‘P=>Q’ and which is the statement ‘Q=>P’?

      So that’s my attempt at critiquing your article.

      I would refute the theist’s argument of “I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.” as follows:-

      Sensing has some value as evidence when it is a physical sensing by the five usual senses which can also be supported by some sort of scientific measure that can be measured by someone else (e.g. of presence of water, sound of water falling, seeing water falling, and seeing and touching puddles formed). Now even this evidence value is not absolute because ones senses could be mistaken. One could be dreaming or hallucinating. It is subjective. Now the point of being subjective is made much stronger when there is no physical effects that can be measured scientifically by another person. I believe Christopher Hitchens points this out as a refutation of revelation being evidence in ‘God is Not Great’.

      So, that’s my response. I agree with a lot in your article especially the assertion that we all can benefit from exercising and examining logic.

  • Psycho Gecko

    The first fallacy that jumped to my mind for them was the No True Scotsman fallacy, which they use often enough it should be renamed No True Christian. You’re probably right about this one being the one they’re worst about, though.

  • davidk

    I guess everyone needs a hobby.

  • voxvot

    It’s not a fallacy. A fallacy occurs when someone claims that a proposition is rationally true. When someone says that they, “sense the presence of God”, they are explaining their personal faith in a deity in specifically non-rational terms. They are not positing this as a reason why you should believe in God or why the existence of God should be generally accepted; it’s a peronal statement of faith, so Bob, your discourse here is based on a fallacy, the strawman fallacy

    • Dys

      Actually, quite a few of them directly or indirectly make the argument all the time. They sense that God exists, so God must exist, and the atheist must therefore be wrong. They then descend into silly little accusations of close-mindedness and the like for pointing out that their personal experience could be mistaken.

      If you don’t think it happens, all I can say is that you need to get out more.

    • MNb

      “A fallacy occurs when someone claims that a proposition is rationally true.”
      Which is exactly what happened here.

      http://www.strangenotions.com/god-exists/#18

      It’s combined with an Argumentum ad Populum.

      So Voxvot, your accusation towards BobS is based on ignorance or ill will from your part – perhaps both.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The fallacy of affirming the consequent is (wait for it!) … a fallacy.

      When someone says that they, “sense the presence of God”, they are explaining their personal faith in a deity in specifically non-rational terms.

      Are some Christians who say this just passing the time of day? Then your point makes sense. I suspect that quite a few are giving this as an apologetic argument.

      • voxvot

        They are defending their belief by citing their personal experience. “Apologetics” are specifically rational arguments for the existence of the Christian God. These are formal rational arguments usually made by scholars and are objective. Personal statements of faith are subjective and therefore are not apologetics. To conflate the simple faith statements of laypeople with formal apologetics is self serving nonsense.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You say you never do this? Good for you. I owe you a hug.

          If you’re piling on by showing additional reasons why this thinking is foolish, that’s great. But let’s not pretend that people don’t do this. You and I both say they shouldn’t, but they do, hence the post.

        • voxvot

          I didn’t say that people didn’t do this, I said that it was a personal vindication of belief and is valid within its own logical parameters, but that it is not apologetics. You critiqued it as apologetics and that is a strawman argument, case closed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          People put it forward as an apologetics argument, and I critiqued it as such. Case closed.

        • voxvot

          It’s not, show me an example of someone claiming that this is a subjective rational argument.