More Sloppy Thinking from William Lane Craig

WLC William Lane Craig apologeticsIn a recent post, I explored William Lane Craig’s unhealthy relationship with facts and evidence. Given his two doctorates and his frequent debates, you’d think that he’d be the champion of reason. Not so.

It is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity’s truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role. (Reasonable Faith, Third Edition, 47)

There’s a lot of that going around. Craig is like Jonathan Wells, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, who earned a doctorate in molecular and cell biology. Wells also sees science as the cabin boy to his agenda: “[The words of my spiritual leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon], my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism.”

Is what’s good for the goose good for the gander?

Craig argues that God’s existence is obvious and needn’t be justified. Coming to grips with that remarkable attitude was the topic of my earlier post. Let’s explore further the dark and tangled recesses of the thinking within Craig’s Reasonable Faith.

Craig anticipates the obvious rebuttal. If the Christian is justified in dismissing evidence and argument and instead says the witness of the Holy Spirit is sufficient—indeed, superior—justification for their belief, why can’t the guy from the other religion do the same? Craig observes, “Christian claims to a subjective experience seem to be on a par with similar non-Christian claims.”

It sounds like we see the problem the same way, but here is Craig’s bizarre reply.

How is the fact that other persons claim to experience a self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit relevant to my knowing the truth of Christianity via the Spirit’s witness? The existence of an authentic and unique witness of the Spirit does not exclude the existence of false claims to such a witness. … Why should I be robbed of my joy and assurance of salvation simply because someone else falsely pretends, sincerely or insincerely, to the Spirit’s witness? (Reasonable Faith, 49)

Craig once again throws chum into the waters of thoughtful discourse. He ignores the problem, assumes that he is right, and then shapes the facts to fit. Some other guy says that his beliefs are actually correct? No problem—just assume the guy is mistaken and, like magic, Craig’s presupposition of correctness is validated.

Objection 2

The mental masturbation continues. Given that the other guy is wrong, Craig asks why the Christian couldn’t also be wrong.

We’re gently scolded for asking this, because this has already been addressed:

The experience of the Spirit’s witness is self-authenticating for him who really has it.

Once again, Craig wants to start with the fact that the Christian is correct, and shape everything to fit.

The hole in Craig’s approach is that he gives no reliable way to determine “him who really has [the Spirit’s witness].”

Mother Teresa famously agonized over this question. She had powerful spiritual experiences as a young woman, but then she felt them no longer. Craig’s approach could have offered her nothing.

Objection 3

If human thinking is fallible, as we’ve seen in the Mormon or Muslim who are wrong in thinking that they have an authentic spiritual experience, maybe Christians should also hesitate to trust their own thinking when it declares that their experience is authentic.

Craig responds by denying that there is any parallel between the Christian and the non-Christian. The Mormon or Hindu thinks that his experience is indistinguishable in character from the Christian’s? They’re simply wrong.

Put reason in its place

Craig raises more hypothetical objections to spiritual belief justified by reason rather than by the witness of the Holy Spirit. If we demanded good reasons, he says, “[that] would consign most Christians [who haven’t developed good reasons] to irrationality.” It’d be a pain to have to, y’know, do all that research and stuff. I mean, who’s got the time?

Yes, he really said that. Using reason would be inconvenient, so let’s not.

Craig tackles another issue:

According to the magisterial role of reason [that is, putting reason in charge], these persons [evaluating Christianity’s claims] should not have believed in Christ until they finished their apologetic.

Well, yeah. You usually don’t accept a claim—especially one as remarkable as the Christian one—without good evidence. Do you expect rational people to apologize for that?

And we’re back to the symmetry with the position of the guy from the other religion. Do you want to give him this excuse? Should, “believe first, justify later” be a position that you respect for him as well as the Christian?

Craig next imagines someone justifying their life in front of God. If reasonable arguments for belief were mandatory, then nonbelievers could argue that they simply hadn’t been given sufficiently strong arguments. But we can’t have that since the Bible says that “men are without excuse.”

Follow the drunken reasoning: we start with the correctness of the Bible; so when it says that there is no excuse, it must be correct; so there is no justification for nonbelief, including insufficient reasons; so reasons must not be mandatory. See how that works? Again, Craig tells us that relying on reason would be inconvenient, so let’s not.

William Lane Craig is a professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology. I wonder what standards he imposes on his students. Would he accept this kind of “thinking” from his students? That evidence and reason are subordinate to the students’ internal, nonverifiable conviction? Isn’t this the opposite of what apologetics is supposed to be?

If Christianity doesn’t seem true to you, [C.S. Lewis] says,
then by all means reject it!
But once you are in,
you are no longer responsible to weigh all things.
Indeed, you are responsible not to!
— Robert M. Price, “The Sin of Faith

Photo credit: RHiNO NEAL

About Bob Seidensticker
  • smrnda

    So rather than answering the question ‘how do you know that your experience is not false’ Craig immediately goes ‘the fact that other people might potentially make false claims or have false experiences should not undermine my authentic experience.’ Not answering the question and an outright obvious dodge of the question of how he knows his own experience is valid.

    Really, I don’t think any sensible person places this much stock in a completely internal experience. My experiences of love and friendship are attested to by evidence that I could present to others – they are not based just on feelings, but on verifiable claims about the nature of my relationship with others.

    • JohnH2

      “They are not based just on feelings, but on verifiable claims about the nature of my relationship with others.”

      Yet when I point out exactly that such experiences should lead to measurable results you respond with equal skepticism and claimed counter examples that really don’t relate at all.

      • Pofarmer

        you’re gonna have to be less cryptic.

      • smrnda

        The difference is that the existence of the people I have relationships with is pretty simple to verify.

        Belief in gods may lead to some measurable results. Believe me, I’ve seen all kinds of believers in all kinds of gods get some kind of an emotional fix from worship. At the same time, all I think that means is that belief in a god and worship can produce results, not that the god actually exists. The placebo effect is a thing.

        I am willing to admit that a belief in god may produce measurable results in believers, but this doesn’t mean that the god actually exists, just that *belief* in the god has an effect.

        If you’re complaining that I haven’t provided a detailed list of measurable results about what these relationships do for me, I could point out that since I have been in a relationship with my partner I’ve experienced no major psychiatric episodes whereas that used to be frequent. My medication and doses have not changed. In terms of employment, I’m actually under lots more stress. True, this isn’t lab test perfect but I think that, given what I see, I think that’s a good evidence that my egalitarian, same-sex romantic relationship is delivering results. I mean, I could check my health stats as well but I don’t have a copy of my previous lab tests with me right off hand.

        With relationships, you can look at what actually happens. Are your friends there when you need them? Do people seem to care about your likes and dislikes? Does the relationship show signs of security and stability? Are people honest to each other? Levels of conflict?

        • JohnH2

          And with relationships with god you can look at what actually happens as well; I prefer statistical averages for those of my faith as that partially prevents confirmations bias which personal relationships are so often subject to.

          Basically you have ruled out anyone having a personal relationship with God, under any standard.

        • Compuholic

          I prefer statistical averages for those of my faith

          Would you care to elaborate on those statistics? What exactly were you measuring and how did you obtain those measurements? How was the sample selected?

        • JohnH2

          This is partially a continuation of a prior conversation; in the prior conversation I presented a cohort study, which is the gold standard for population measures which demonstrated conclusively some of the benefits of being of my faith relative to the local population in question (making the Japanese objection to be irrelevant as the correct comparison there would be Japanese who are of my faith). It was a published academic study in a respected journal. I also pointed out, accurately, that there are many more similar studies that demonstrate similar results, as well as demographic statistics which are easily obtained.

        • smrnda

          Why is the evidence of longevity and health among the Japanese irrelevant? I mean, if you want to narrow it and say “Mormon white people in a particular religion of CA were healthier and lived longer than similar white people” the claim is fairly narrow. We don’t know what the heath effects of Mormonism would be on say, the Japanese. Not all things which are good for you effect all groups in a uniform fashion.

          if you can link to the study again, I will check it out since I don’t remember it so well.

          I also don’t see what your claim proves relative to the truth of the beliefs of Mormonism. It just means that, potentially, some practices may be beneficial, or else, since from what I recall Mormons having some greater genetic similarity than other groups may have some predisposition.

          But hey, let’s say a study conclusively showed that atheists had better health and greater longevity. In fact, some studies do show positive traits being more common among atheists. I don’t think that’s evidence that atheism is true – other factors intersect such as class levels of education, so it’s not really ‘atheists versus religious people’ but ‘educated people with more money versus other people.’

        • JohnH2

          “Mormons having some greater genetic similarity ”

          You are thinking of the FLDS.

          The one I linked to:
          http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/PM2008.pdf

          Japanese is irrelevant as it is a different population than the ones being compared; the correct comparison there is Japanese to Japanese Mormon (which hasn’t been studied as far as I know).

          In statistics it is possible to control for education and wealth, that atheists studies often don’t should tell you something.

        • smrnda

          Great, it concludes that health habits common among Mormons are better than average. It seems that this says nothing about the truth of the Mormon religion itself.

          If the argument is that the health habits are the result of a revelation beyond what could have been known at the time, I don’t think the practices are so revolutionary.

          Also, this is still just a study of CA Mormons. As you said, we don’t have a study on say, Japanese Mormons.

          I’ll give you that Mormons have better health practices than average, but I think it’s a huge jump to conclude anything more.

          Most studies I’ve seen on atheists actually done by atheists are keen on making the point about education and such. What I find are studies that atheists refer to often do not do this (no telling who actually did the study, atheist or no) they often do not control, but the atheist posting or referring to the study points it out as a deficiency.

          I mean, there are stats that Jews are better educated than average and that they are over-represented in intellectual pursuits. I look at this as likely a cultural trait and i think it would be absurd to make a conclusion about the truth of the religion. ‘

          All said, I could never convert to Mormonism because I believe it’s founder is an outrageous fraud, and the religion has such a history of racism and sexism and homophobia that I know I am not welcome in it. I think a person can be both a fraud as a prophet and a health guru of sorts – not like that hasn’t happened before.

        • JohnH2

          By itself yes, it is a jump; However, the reason that Mormons have those habits is due to their relationship with God, and we attribute it as such. That the health code was created in the 1830’s further strengthens that position. It is strong evidence in favor of the spiritual witness being accurate.

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

          No, the reasons Mormons have those habits is because their customs and manmade texts say so. The buck stops with humans. Don’t bring God into the conversation when the natural explanation is sufficient.

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

          From the Amazon review of The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? by Ronald J. Sider:

          Evangelical Christians, says Sider, are very much like their non-Christian neighbors in rates of divorce, premarital sex, domestic violence and use of pornography, and are actually more likely to hold racist views than other people. … Sider [marshals] evidence to demonstrate that American Christians’ charitable giving has decreased even while their income has risen.

          I have no problem with a study that shows that a sufficiently small subset of Christianity is better than average on a couple of metrics. I just don’t think that it says much.

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

      And how he doesn’t get pushback from his flock is amazing. I suppose he’d consider such a person simply a bad Christian (or at least a Christian with bad manners).

      • Greg G.

        How can John Q. Pewsitter question someone with that many letters after his name? That’s all that counts when it comes to religion. When he goes all polysyllabic, they must assume they agree with him.

      • MNb

        I don’t think it’s amazing. The flock is comforted.

  • RichardSRussell

    William Lane Craig and my mother would’ve really hit it off. In fact, I offer him gratis one of her favorite lines, which exactly comports with his own mindset: “Because I’m the mom, that’s why.”

    • wtfwjtd

      Yep, it’s the standard rejoinder of moms everywhere:”Because I said so,that’s why.” And so reads the core tenet of Craig’s “reasonable” faith.

  • Southern Skeptic

    I sometimes wonder if WLC is a charlatan. Explanations like these are just so intellectually dishonest. I can understand your average Christian nodding along to these points, but WLC has spent years studying and thinking about these issues. After all this time, how can he continue to believe his own bullshit?

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

      And yet his Reasonable Faith (despite the title that contradicts the contents) is in its third edition. It’s his flagship publication.

      The human mind never ceases to amaze. (… or maybe you’re right and he is a liar).

      • wtfwjtd

        I guess it’s all in the fancy packaging and marketing. Craig can claim there is a 600 horsepower V-8 in his Mustang, and most Christians will never bother to actually lift the hood and be shocked to discover the stock 4-cylinder motor residing there. And, so long as he never actually lines up on a 1/4 mile strip to be put to the real test, his followers will never know the difference. It’s a standard trick of the religious, make big, bold claims with confidence and poo-poo the naysayers. This has made many of them a good living for many a year.

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

          Indeed, he will say that he does run the quarter mile and wins, as he dismantles atheists in his many debates. The takeaway for me is that you can spin the results of the results of just about any debate in a way that will satisfy the flock.

        • wtfwjtd

          Which made the results of that debate with Carroll all the more enjoyable! IIRC, he didn’t post a link to that one. I wonder why?

        • MNb

          The more interesting it is to read WLC’s expectations before the debate:

          http://www.reasonablefaith.org/a-highly-anticipated-debate

        • Pofarmer

          Lol’d at the mention by the host of getting someone like Carroll in Private and “showing him how good the evidence for God” really is.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, hinting that the host didn’t really think that “It is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity’s truth. ”
          Too bad that Craig didn’t bring any of this great evidence to the debate and wipe the floor with Carroll. He’s too modest for that, I guess–just like the many Christians that stop by Bob’s blog here, who are also somehow unable to bring this irrefutable evidence with them. What a pity.

        • JohnH2

          “irrefutable”

          I suppose you think you are a brain in a vat as you don’t have irrefutable evidence otherwise.

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks for making my point John. Yours is the typical Christian response to Bob’s posts–Cryptic quips, catchy insults, sometimes even the thoughtful put-down, but rarely if ever anything of substance that actually addresses Bob’s arguments. Par for the course.

        • JohnH2

          Actually, my point is not cryptic, or an insult, and is very substantial. You are demanding a level of evidence that you don’t have for the existence of anything, which is just wrong. You should hold evidence that supports a claimed experience to a similar standard that you use in other fields of endeavors; as you (and Smrnda and Bob) are clearly demonstrating disconfirmation bias, and not at all going where the evidence leads.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, “irrefutable” is not typically a word I would use in relation to evidence, I was merely parroting the many theist claims I have seen relating to the subject. Okay, you win this round–I’ll drop the word “irrefutable” from my above statement and replace it with “good”. The point, in my book, is still the same. How’s that?

        • JohnH2

          That is fine, ‘good’ in this case is highly subjective and so there can be disagreement about what constitutes ‘good’ evidence. If you can a priori tell me what would constitute good evidence that would be helpful.

        • MNb

          I can’t speak for the others, but I demand for supernatural stuff exactly the same level of evidence as for anything material: the empirical one.
          Now how did we get to measure the mass and size of the Holy Spirit the mormon version again? Two examples of your replies:
          “Why would anyone want to know that?”
          “You don’t know my mass and size either.”
          Cheap copouts of course.
          You systemetically refuse to answer this question and still clinge to this doctrine. Hence you are the one with a variable level of evidence, dear John.

        • JohnH2

          I have told you repeatedly, get the Holy Spirit to agree to be so measured, just as you would with anyone else.

          I don’t judge the existence and relationship of my wife (or you) by knowing her mass or size, but by the effects of that relationship.

        • wtfwjtd

          If your wife had no mass and no size, she wouldn’t be much of a wife, would she? It’s kinda the same thing with the god and other supernatural claims.

        • JohnH2

          I have no idea as to your mass, size, gender, eye color, if you have eyes, hair color, if you have hair, etc. Yet we have a type of relationship, and neither of us doubts the existence of the other. I wonder why that is?

        • MNb

          No, you don’t wonder, dishonest John. If you did you would have given the answer yourself, because you are smart enough for it.
          We know about that relationship because we are communicating by means of computers and internet, using linguistic symbols – all kind of stuff that can be measured. We know from observation that’s it usually a human being behind that communication. Human beings have mass, size, gender, eye color etc. that can be measured in principle.
          Regarding to your Holy Spirit the mormon version you have nothing, nada, zilch to offer in this respect. No means of communication that can be observed or measured, no mass and size that can be measured, not even in principle.
          And you know it. But John can’t permit to admit it, so he prefers, like every single apologist sooner or later, to become dishonest.
          In the end you’re just another WLC.

        • JohnH2

          I am not being dishonest, and I also have written communication to judge in terms of the Holy Spirit, besides my own personal experience which for some reason is deemed inadmissible and confirmation bias, when that isn’t even remotely what confirmation bias refers to. Unless you are referring to your own attitude on the subject, which is more accurately disconfirmation bias.

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

          Uh … because there’s enormous evidence of the other guy’s existence? Or is this a trick question?

          Now, if we only had evidence that compelling for this God dude you keep talking about.

        • JohnH2

          Hence my reference to disconfirmation bias, because we do have similarly compelling evidence for one that doesn’t suffer from that bias.

        • wtfwjtd

          Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Your compelling evidence for God consists of:
          1) The Joseph Smith story;
          2)Some study about California Mormons that have a slightly longer lifespan than the average American;
          3) Personal experiences.

          Have I missed anything? Please add to the list as you see fit.

        • JohnH2

          The gathering and scattering of Israel, additional demographic information and studies regarding Mormons, additional fulfilled prophecy, the experiences of everyone else that believes in a divine being.

          Of course once you say personal experiences then you have covered the sum total of human existence beyond which nothing can be shown to exist; but sure deny the validity of everything you are and know if that is what it takes for you to say that I do not have evidence of God.

        • wtfwjtd

          I was referring to your personal experiences, not those of the sum total of human existence (I think you knew that).
          How is the “gathering and scattering of Israel” evidence for god?

          And whose prophecy being fulfilled makes your list of god evidence?

        • JohnH2

          Again, everything you are and know is via your own personal experience.

          The gathering and scattering of Israel is found prophesied in the Bible and the Book of Mormon; and has and is happening as prophesied.

          Find something that was pre-fulfillment interpreted as being what happened: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel” for example; and attested to outside of a groups sacred text itself, or at least independently reported. Those are the types of prophecies that are evidence of something.

        • wtfwjtd

          Okay, so more prophesies then. What about all those prophesies that didn’t happen? Just a bad guess I suppose?

        • JohnH2

          It was over 3000 years from the time that the gathering of Israel was first prophesied to when it happened, just because something that is prophesied to happen has not yet happened does not mean that it is false; but rather, except in the case of a clear conditional, it is in the future. It does not detract at all from those that have already happened that there are things that are yet to happen.

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

          When given a prophecy, the null hypothesis is that it’s bullshit.

        • JohnH2

          A great way to get slaughtered by the legions rather than being safe in Pella.

        • wtfwjtd

          I guess what it boils down to, is that our definition of the word “prophecy” is far different than John’s definition. More word games that theists like to play, I suppose.

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

          The “prophecies” in the Bible are hopelessly nonspecific. If someone made them for a foreign religion, you’d lampoon them just like I do.

          I’ve talked about the Israel exile “prophecy” here.

          Are you saying the BoM “prophecied” stuff that had already happened (from the date of Smith’s writing it)?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          Whenever someone mentions fulfilled prophecy I always have to say this. Muslims claim fulfilled prophecy from the Qur’an and hadith. Many claims of Islam conflict with Mormon claims (i.e. God was a man who became a god). Obviously, Islam and Mormonism cannot both be true (partly, anyway). Muslims also claim they have some equivalent of the Holy Spirit, so basically every justification for Mormonism also works for Islam. However, as I have stated earlier, they are incompatible religions. How can one know which (if either) is the truth? We haven’t even gotten into other religions yet.

        • JohnH2

          “partly, anyway” Is a very important point in such discussions, and given the purposes of God is actually relevant.

          It is likely that both Islam and Mormonism have some truth and likely that both have some things wrong. However, if any part of Mormonism outside of generic Christianity is true than Mormonism has more truth than Islam even if Mohammad was a prophet.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I assume you believe God wouldn’t give contradictory revelations to different people about the same event or person (because he would have to be lying to at least one of them, and I don’t think you would accept that God has lied because that would make him sinful). The truth of a religion only matters (presumably) if it is divinely revealed truth. So if it was divinely inspired in Islam that God was never a man or less of a god than he is now, and it is divinely inspired in Mormonism that God was man who became a god, then there is contradiction in divine revelation.

          It is possible therefore that any truth of Mormonism or Islam may have been derived from means other than divine revelation. There may also be no possibility of divine revelation in the first place if there are no gods.

          “However, if any part of Mormonism outside of generic Christianity is true than Mormonism has more truth than Islam even if Mohammad was a prophet.” It doesn’t matter how many true things either of them said. If each said something that contradicts something the other said, then at least one of them has uttered a falsehood under the pretense that they received divine revelation. That would cast doubt on their legitimacy as prophets. If Joseph Smith said something that was incorrect but claimed that he received the information from God (or angel or some other method of divine revelation) would that make him a false prophet? Isn’t it possible that any supposed fulfillment of prophecy he made was just clever insight on Smith’s part (or self-fulfilling)? And every miracle he supposedly performed had some mundane explanation instead of being proof of his prophethood? I imagine the same would apply for Muhammad.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and this was quantitatively determined by a disinterested hypothetical, right?

        • JohnH2

          By looking at the various truth claims of each religion, if you need/actually want a more detailed analysis I can walk through the relevant claims; I seriously doubt that you care though.,

        • TheNuszAbides

          i very much care; i just don’t trust that your ‘looking’ was reliable. by all means, back up any claim to the contrary.

        • JohnH2

          The simplest relevant claim is that Mohammad is claimed by Islam to be the final prophet; Joseph Smith is claimed to be a prophet, ergo if Joseph Smith was a prophet than even if Mohammad was also a prophet there is a relevant truth claim which Mormonism holds over Islam.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m sure if you ever ‘discover’ one of those things that Mormonism ‘likely’ got wrong, you’ll keep it to yourself. (can’t have those atheists pouncing all over your honestly-reached conclusions, can we?)

        • JohnH2

          Adam-God, the Priesthood Ban, the accompanying theology, the idea that women are inherently more righteous than men, the idea that death is preferable to letting oneself be raped, the idea that the Book of Mormon is dealing with the entire continent instead of a small population, the idea that the Maya are the nephites, the loss of women’s rites; other things in various contexts. I actually do try to be as upfront about things that Mormonism has gotten wrong as possible, Bob should be able to attest to this, and if I wasn’t relatively okay with people criticizing my beliefs I wouldn’t be arguing religion online, especially not with atheists.

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

          Perhaps that whole “white and delightsome” thing as well.

          Yes, you’re one of the thoughtful theists.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it is to your credit that you are far closer than many religious followers to the realization that any number of mystical flourishes and fabricated (or ‘misinterpreted’ etc.) narratives are absolutely unnecessary in order to live an authentically honest, good, maybe even peaceful life.

        • TheNuszAbides

          thank you. i sit corrected.

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

          Huh? You’re saying that if I didn’t have a bias against your position, I’d see that the evidence for God’s existence in your life is as strong as the existence of me in your life?

        • MNb

          I have told you repeatedly that we don’t need to get the agreement of the Sun to measure its mass and size. If I take the effort and spend the money I don’t need your agreement either.
          I admit it has taken you considerably longer than many an apologist I have met before, but finally you are getting dishonest too.

        • 90Lew90

          How do you know your god “has a dick” if you know nothing of his physical being? Things like mass and size.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I have told you repeatedly, get the Holy Spirit to agree to be so measured, just as you would with anyone else.

          I ask and receive no reply. It’s the same as when I ask MNb’s garden fairies, Carl Sagan’s invisible dragon, and my child’s invisible friend to please let me weigh them, or simply tell me how much they weigh. They don’t consent OR refuse. They are silent.

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

          I have my complaints with JohnH2, though I must point out that he is eclipsed by the real champions of Christian insanity. Norm Donnan comes to mind. Or RealRandomFunction (since banned). Asmondias (sp?) and Jenna Black are also highly skilled at vacuous “arguments.”

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, at least John does seem to make a real effort, and tries to stay somewhat on track. It always seems like that just when the conversation gets really interesting, most of the Christian types disappear. John seems to hang around longer than most, and I commend him for that. Although, he’s not above the semantics games that so many apologists like to play. Oh well, he helps keep things at least a somewhat interesting most of the time.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “highly skilled”
          that seems overly (if backhandedly) generous. i’d go with “well-versed” instead. (but i’m not the one keeping a blog going!)

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

          Though what they’re highly skilled in is not that worthwhile. That kind of expert we can do without.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s an entertaining read, thanks for the link. Several good “LOL” moments in there, for sure.

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

          Favorite quotes from Craig:

          “I don’t think there’s going to be any pummelings in this forum.” (Guess again, dude!)

          “this is a way to lower expectations so that if one manages to just break even it looks like a victory since you haven’t really tried to win.” (Uh, yeah. It wasn’t Carroll who had to worry about eking out a victory.)

        • ohnugget001

          You credit him with a 4 banger? I think not. Rats on a wheel my friend, rats on a wheel.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      We think alike, and I’ve been having a similar discussion on another thread. As much as I understand the human ability to deceive ourselves, I can’t imagine someone spending his career trying to demolish the arguments of other people, and then not realize that his own arguments are crap. I know it’s possible, but it just seems so unlikely somehow.

      It’s one thing if you’re naive and ignorant, like Ray Comfort or Ken Ham. I don’t think Craig is ignorant OR mentally challenged.

      Edited: I do think it’s possible Craig is a believer, but it seems like his deception has to be deliberate. He just justifies it somehow.

  • Greg G.

    The experience of the Spirit’s witness is self-authenticating for him who really has it.

    The last two sentences of this paragraph are true. This paragraph is self-authenticating. The first two sentences of this paragraph are true.

  • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It is difficult for a man to understand certain things when his livelihood depends on him not understanding them.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      Funny how that works, huh? My guess is that the most useful tool in their arsenal of self-deception is the subordination of factual truth to “moral truth,” as if convincing yourself something *should* be true makes it true.

      • wtfwjtd

        Yes, I’ve seen this play out over and over, especially in debates: Contrast the theist belief system with that of atheism, and then ask, “which would you rather be true?” As if we can choose our reality.

        • Pofarmer

          It would be pretty cool if the Christian world were true, but it’s obviously not. The Catholic world would still suck.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, sure, and it would be great if we could mold our reality with our belief system. *Sigh* Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work out that way.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, people have certainly tried it plenty of times.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          Honestly, I think this is a fundamental difference between secularists and religionists. If you think the factual truth matters, even if it isn’t pleasant, you leave religion behind. If you think your perceptions of morality matter more than the facts, you become or remain a religionist.

          It isn’t that they always believe moral truths trump factual ones, but when you get evangelicals talking about why they are Christians, a LOT of the time they’ll talk about the argument from morality. “Christianity must be true because of its “absolute moral standard.”

          The fact that Christianity has no absolute moral standard completely eludes most people. Jehovah orders the Israelites to break every commandment ever ascribed to him, as well as every standard of decency known to man. Rape, murder, lying, stealing, genocide… all of it.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Jehovah orders the Israelites to break every commandment ever ascribed to him, as well as every standard of decency known to man.”

          Good point. This was one of my first real clues that Christianity was just another man-made religion. I grew up heavily steeped in fundamentalist Christianity, and didn’t question its origins until later in life. When I finally took a closer look, I was shocked to discover its weak foundations and finally discarded it entirely.

      • Pofarmer

        It seems to me, that morality needz to be examined on it’s own, free of religious bias. I always thought that church was good because it taught us to be good people, then I got involved with the Catholic Church where they are mors concerned aboit their beliefs being true, than the moral consequences of them, to the point of extreme cognitive dissonance and even harmful behavior.

  • MNb

    You might have formulated it more concise: “The experience of the Spirit’s witness is self-authenticating for him who really has it.”, hence “falsely pretends”, hence “”The experience of the Spirit’s witness is self-authenticating for him who really has it.”
    It’s a combination of a circular argument and the No True Experience fallacy.

    “he gives no reliable way to determine “him who really has [the Spirit’s witness].”
    Of course WLC does! That’s the nice thing of a circular argument. That reliable way is the self-authenticating (for whom you really, really, really has it) experiece of the Spirit’s witness.

    “Isn’t this the opposite of what apologetics is supposed to be?”
    No. Do you remember your post S**t christians say? I quoted from two Dutch theses. Apologetics is what the word implies – making up excuses for your belief – ie arguing for a pre-determined conclusion. It’s a long tradition – WLC simply does what Thomas of Aquino did according to Bertrand Russell:

    “There is little of the true philosophic spirit in Aquinas. He does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever the argument may lead. He is not engaged in an inquiry, the result of which it is impossible to know m advance. Before he begins to philosophize, he already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith. If he can find apparently rational arguments for some parts of the faith, so much the better; if he cannot, he need only fall back on revelation. The finding of arguments for a conclusion given I in advance is not philosophy, but special pleading.”

    You’re still too kind to WLC.

  • MNb

    For fun: a creationist who does some good thinking (in contrast to WLC) and aaaaaaaalllmost nails it.

    “One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn’t possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it.”
    Now only if he/she took the effort to look out of the window on a cloudless day ….

    http://smashboards.com/threads/god-or-big-bang-evolution-where-do-we-come-from.56093/page-6#post-1073734

    • wtfwjtd

      You mean, the sun actually has something to do with life on earth? Who would have thought it?

  • Trent Horn

    I wouldn’t put it like Craig but there’s a kernel of truth there — sometimes you can know something is true but be unable to prove it’s true to other people. Plantinga has a good example of someone being framed for murder. It could be the case that a man knows he’s innocent but the evidence still convinces a jury he’s guilty. Just because the objective evidence points to him, it doesn’t follow that he should automatically believe he’s guilty and discount the subjective evidence for his innocence.

    The problem is if you think the “witness of the Holy Spirit” is indefeatable. In the falsely accused case your belief in your innocence could be defeated, but the evidence to defeat it would have to be really good (e.g. video of you committing the murder, evidence your memory of doing something else during the murder was impanted, etc.). Craig denies the witness of the spirit could ever be defeated, which is debatable.

    Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief deals with these issues and is about proving the following argument is true, “If God exists, then belief in God is justified.” The book is worth a look.

    In any case, I think that God revealing himself to a person, or aliens visiting that person, or even a famous celebrity stopping by his house unannounced could all be things that he couldn’t prove to skeptics but that wouldn’t justify giving up the belief that those encounters happened based on his subjective personal experience of them in the absence of an overwhelming defeater (And remember, these three examples are analogies. Obviously prior probabilities differ for all of them).

    My point is just that we shouldn’t scoff at someone for believing something simply because they can’t prove it to us since, due to circumstances, they might simply be unable to prove it.

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

      I think we’re talking about two different kinds of experience.

      Yes, I see that the accused could know that he’s innocent, but he’s convicted by our imperfect court system. Or a celebrity could drop by. Or you could see a new large mammal (Bigfoot, for example). But those are simply unlikely things that everyone would acknowledge have happened and could plausibly happen in this case. Society has convicted wrongly, ordinary Joes meet celebrities all the time, and unknown large mammals are occasionally discovered.

      The other category is things for which there is no universal acknowledgement that anything is like that. The supernatural is such a category. First, WLC and Plantinga must show that that set is not the null set, because it could very well be.

    • Pofarmer

      But Trent, all the things you are talking about are physical acts. Someone was murdered, even if the wrong person was convicted of it. When you talk about something like “the witness of the spirit”. You are talking about something entirely internal to the person in question. Can such an experience lead to a change in behavior in the person? It obviously can. Can our minds play tricks on us? They obviously can. So, you aren’t talking about something someone can’t prove as such, you are talking about something that has a ready answer that contradicts the pat answer of folks like you and WLC.

    • MNb

      “Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief is worth a look.”
      If you think so Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science is also worth a look as he refutes this argument. Basically the answer is

      “if Hindus are right then polytheism is justified.”

      • wtfwjtd

        Didn’t you have a quote from somewhere about “the easiest person to fool is yourself?” I think that definitely applies in many cases to those who think they may have experienced the supernatural.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s from Feynman.

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

          “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman

    • Compuholic

      Your objection is basically the problem of absolute truth. I would argue that absolute truth is unknowable (with the possible exception of some cases which are debateable). We can only establish the likelihood of truth for two competing hypothesis.

      The victim of framing may indeed know that he is innocent and the available evidence points into a different direction. But for somebody who was not present at the crimescene at the time there is no other way but the objective evidence to judge whether his claim of innocense is likely true.

      Likewise. We usually cannot prove somebody wrong who claims to have had a spiritual experience. But we can address the likelihood of that claim. For example, we could point out that other people had similar experiences and came to conflicting conclusions. So you need to method to determine which of these conflicting experiences was actually genuine. And to do that you are right back in the realm of objective evidence.

    • Apostalypse

      I would challenge the statement that the accused “knows” they are innocent. They may sincerely believe they have not committed a crime, and have no memory of doing so, but it is possible they are suffering from false memory syndrome or just have amnesia. There are cases of people with FMS who claim to know they have committed a crime, and can describe it in detail, but it is demonstrably a false memory.

      • Trent Horn

        That’s why I said that your belief in your innocence can be defeated, but you need a really strong defeater. Just having an eyewitness on the stand who says you did it and your DNA at the scene shouldn’t overturn your belief that you were out fishing that day since those “evidences” can be fabricated.

        It’s pretty uncontroversial to say that nearly all of us “knows” we’ve never murdered anyone.

        • Pofarmer

          problem is, memories can be fabricated, too.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      sometimes you can know something is true but be unable to prove it’s true to other people.”

      And sometimes you can “know” something is true – and be wrong!

      • Trent Horn

        Technically that’s not possible. Knowledge is at the least, “Justified true belief.” You can have a false belief, but it’s impossible to have “false knowledge.”

        • Compuholic

          Knowledge is at the least, “Justified true belief.”

          In the end it comes down to what your definitions are. Personally I dislike your definition of “knowledge” because it would be impossible for knowledge to change or to be refined.

          Personally I would define knowledge as “justified belief consistent with the available evidence” since I don’t think we cannot determine “truth” (at least not in an absolute sense).

        • Trent Horn

          The definition you’re proposing is not really that different. If you define truth as “that which corresponds to reality,” then that’s really not different to “consistent with available evidence.” Go back to my falsely accused example.

          I can know I’m innocent because I belief I’m innocent, it’s true that I’m innocent (my belief corresponds to reality), and I have a good reason to think I’m innocent. It’s possible that such knowledge even contradicts the “available evidence” presented in a court of law.

          I think your contention is really over the certainty of our knowledge or our justification, not what knowledge and truth actually are.

          Also, under my definition knowledge can change because what we thought we knew in the past we can realize we didn’t “know” if it turns out to be incorrect and we can learn knew knowledge in the future.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Technically that’s not possible. Knowledge is at the least, “Justified true belief.”

          For your next assignment, look up the philosophical definition of “truth.”

        • Trent Horn

          Um, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. There are several theories of what truth is (coherence, deflationary, etc.) I prefer the correspondence theory – a statement is true if it corresponds to reality, or if it describes reality as it actually is.

    • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

      I agree with your point, but in that case we would be dealing somehow with subjectivity, while often apologists want us to see it as an objective proof.

  • Compuholic

    The experience of the Spirit’s witness is self-authenticating for him who really has it.

    Awesome. I suggest the following course of action.

    1. Clearly define what the “Spirit’s witness” actually is
    2. Design an objective test for the presence of the “Spirit”
    3. Validate that the presence of the “Spirit” actually confers truth.

    After he has completed these steps maybe I could start taking him seriously…

  • arkenaten

    I have always felt there is something decidedly unsavoury about Craig. To the point if he offered to babysit the kids I would politely decline.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      For me, it’s the way he can stand in the presence of his opponent and deliberately misstate their position to the audience, all the while shaking his head that the misstated argument displays “a surprisingly weak intellectual foundation.”

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

        Yeah, the condescension is one of the most annoying things about his approach.

  • AdamHazzard

    Craig’s argument for the inner witness of the Holy Spirit is an example of a “sorta makes sense” argument, as in the famous Family Guy/Joseph and Mary episode:

    “Yeah, hey, so tell me one more time how it is that God got you pregnant. ‘Cause when you tell me the story, it sorta makes sense. But then when I tell
    the guys at work, they poke all kinds of holes in it.”

    Sic semper William Lane Craig.

  • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

    Always the same thing: these “apologists” say faith is self-reliant, then they feel it is not a convincing argument, so they try to produce something more “sophisticated”, but they fail, so they come back saying faith is self-reliant.
    Meanwhile, more and more forests are destroyed, so they can have paper enough for publishing their futile attempts.

  • johzek

    Believers should be really thankful that atheists exist because without us they would be reduced to arguments and debates with these “other religions”. This would obviously make them rather uncomfortable and it seems that this option is almost always avoided.
    I doubt if Craig has ever debated a believer of another religion and while I am not a fan of the debate format I think such a spectacle would be interesting in an odd sort of way.

    • wtfwjtd

      “I doubt if Craig has ever debated a believer of another religion and while I am not a fan of the debate format I think such a spectacle would be interesting in an odd sort of way.”

      Your setup reminds me of a scene from Toy Story 2: “I’m Buzz Lightyear.” Other Buzz: “NO, I’M the real Buzz Lightyear, and I’m in charge of this detachment.”
      Craig debating a believer of another religion would be comic gold indeed.

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

      It’s always a hoot when two believers argue against each other. Suddenly they’re as coldly rational as the atheist. How can they see that they have a different standard for their own arguments?

  • avalon

    Bob,
    You suggest “maybe Christians should also hesitate to trust their own thinking when it declares that their experience is authentic.”

    Craig states why he won’t do that:
    “Why should I be robbed of my joy…?”

    His rock-bottom reason for believing is: it makes him happy.

    Also, Craig says “[that] would consign most Christians [who haven’t developed good reasons] to irrationality.”
    Like they’re not already irrational?

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

      It’s not surprising that Craig believes because it’s pleasing to believe, not because it’s actually true. That he would actually proclaim that publicly is what’s surprising to me.

      That’s just my naivete, I suppose.

      • avalon

        Seems apologists gave up on reason a long time ago. John Calvin said (faith) “is more of the heart than of the brain”.

        Craig’s “witness of the Holy Spirit” is nothing more than his heart’s desire. But, as he’s said, “To believe that something is true merely because you feel it to be so or because you are sincere in your belief does not make it true.”

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

          And Luther called reason the devil’s whore.

          Check your brains at the door, people. They’re too dangerous inside the church.

        • Greg G.

          When I moved into my house, there were two used car dealers side by side about a mile away. One was called “Reasonable Used Cars” and the other was “Miracle Motors”. The latter’s logo had an arc and three crosses representing Calvary. The former went out of business a few years ago and the latter recently expanded into their ex-competitor’s lot.

          If that doesn’t prove the existence of God, then nothing will.

        • 90Lew90

          If you buy a used car off the miracle guy do you get a free crown of thorns and a couple of thieves to take with you? The cars he sells keep reappearing at his lot?

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, strictly speaking, they have to be “resurrected” before “reappearing”. There’s a difference, y’ know.

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

          Or prove how to pull the right strings.

    • JohnH2

      “Like they’re not already irrational?”

      What an excellent starting position of any argument, assume your opponent is irrational a priori. Your idea of attacking the person you are arguing against is so brilliant that it should have a special name just for it, like, perhaps, ad hominem.

      “it makes him happy.”

      I wonder what type of ethics you are into; I sure hope it has nothing to do with Consequentialism or Utilitarianism given this response.

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

        You’re defending WLC adopting a position because it pleases him rather than because it’s true? That surprises me.

        • JohnH2

          I am neither a Consequentialist nor a Utilitarian, however, lots of atheists are and under those systems of ethics a pleasing lie is preferable to a hurtful truth. Though the truth should also have positive results if it is to be true.

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

          You should know me well enough to know that my focus is simply on whether a claim is true or not.

          You’re saying that all truths have some “positive results”? I can’t think of a snappy counterexample, but that sounds awfully sweeping.

        • avalon

          I think you may have misunderstood, Bob. Let me emphasize what John said:
          ‘truth SHOULD also have positive results IF it is to be true.’

          It’s the apologetic mindset. If a truth doesn’t have positive emotional results then it’s not considered true. They judge truth by the positive or negative result on the psyche.

        • JohnH2

          I said nothing about emotional, but rather evidential; quit reading in things that aren’t there.

        • MNb

          Correct – you said nothing about emotional. You act like that though. That’s why you suddenly are not capable anymore to recognize justifiability when it comes to your belief system. Then the concept of evidence goes out of the window – and you’re too dishonest to admit it.

        • avalon

          “I said nothing about emotional, but rather evidential; quit reading in things that aren’t there.”
          JohnH2

          “If a belief in God makes believers demonstrably happier…” JohnH2

        • JohnH2

          Please at least attempt to follow the arguments I am making in context.

        • JohnH2

          If a claim of truth adds nothing to our understanding of the world then it is irrelevant, otherwise there are results which are positive. In the case of religious truth since the domain is our actions then being true should lead to better actions, and better results from those actions.

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

          I would’ve thought that a new statement of the form, “It is true that X” would add to our understanding of the world. Where do the invariable positive results come from?

        • JohnH2

          The statement must be justifiable, it must be supported in someway thus explain something that was not previously explained; in other-words a positive result.

        • MNb

          Quite ironic to read that coming from you, given the truth-statements you have presented without any justifiability. No, “ask the Holy Spirit” does not justify anything.

        • MNb

          The term religious truth is meaningless, as you show over and over again. Personally I even think the term scientific truth quite meaningless.

        • Greg G.

          Good point. A truth can known, unknown, or even unknowable but not religious, secular, or scientific. A truth could be scientifically verified but a religiously verified truth just sounds dubious.

        • MNb

          Yes, the term scientific truth can have meaning if you use it like Jerry Coyne does in Why Evolution is True. He explicitely explains that meaning. It’s quite different from what John describes.

        • 90Lew90

          The domain of religious truth is our actions? Is it? I’m with the others in holding that what you’ve said is meaningless in the strict sense, but what you seem to be getting at is quite interesting. I don’t see how any kind of “truth” necessarily leads to better actions, especially what you call religious truth. Take antinomianism for instance.

          I may be wrong, but what you seem to reveal in saying that is a sense of a pretty deep lack of self-control. Which would add up since no matter how hard Christians try to hide it, it always slips out one way or another that at the bottom of all their faith is fear. Kinda like The Princess and the Pea. A little kernel of fear under umpteen layers of religious bedding that just keeps nagging.

        • TheNuszAbides

          indeed, Pascal’s Wager by any other name…

        • MNb

          Sometimes it is, yes. Lying itself is harmful though, so it can be a difficult decision. Fortunately pleasing lie vs. hurtful truth is almost always a false dilemma. Remaining silent for instance is also an option. When I visit someone on his/her deathbed and he/she talks enthusiastically about the prospect of going to heaven I’m not going to argue – I’ll just listen. Then I’ll try to steer the conversation to the here and now.
          I became a utilitarian only after I recognized that the problems attributed to it almost always can be avoided and in their pure forms only very rarely occur. But I grant you it’s not perfect. Neither is yours, as you have shown repeatedly on this blog.
          After I became a utilitarian (it took me 15 years) I also began to recognize that lots of believers in practice quite often use utilitarian arguments as well.

      • avalon

        Hi John,
        The truth of factual claims is not determined by the emotion which accompanies them.
        Or as Craig said: “To believe that something is true merely because you feel it to be so or because you are sincere in your belief does not make it true.” (But he applied that to Mormons, not himself)

        • JohnH2

          Craig being inconsistent is not surprising to me; Even if he thought that atheism or Mormonism was true, his job, position, and power depends on him “believing” a certain way. Weird Al’s preform this way would seem to apply.

          Pedantically, I know I love or hate someone or something based on emotion that accompanies that thing. I know what is right or wrong in part due to emotion. So the statement that the truth of factual claims is not determined by the emotion which accompanies them is objectively false as stated.

          More relevantly, emotion can and is often reported to, including in scripture, accompany a witness from God regarding the truth of something. That the emotion is identified with does not imply at all that the witnesses is not from God, but emotion alone does not identify something as being from God.

        • avalon

          I agree that our emotions play a big part in questions of morality. What I don’t understand is what morality has to do with the objective questions of Craig’s beliefs, namely ‘Does God exist?’ or ‘Did Jesus rise from the dead?’.
          You mention scripture. Whether or not scripture is anything special is also an objective question.
          None of these have anything to do with morality. (But your assertion that Craig is lying to keep his job would be a moral question.)

        • JohnH2

          I have to point out that per the theology of the majority of Christians, among some other faiths, the question of ‘Does God exist’ and ‘Is scripture anything special’ is seen as being primarily a moral question. Even though I reject the philosophical underpinnings of that theology, it still has a very valid point. Besides which by not recognizing that scripture is primarily concerned with moral questions and that this dealing with those questions is what makes scriptures to be valid completely denies the entire canon of two major world religions a priori as well as completely misses the point of how the vast majority of everyone in all religions views their own scriptures.

          Next, we have noticed inconsistencies in Craig’s responses that demand explanation. Craig is demonstrably intelligent enough to be self-aware of those inconsistencies. Being aware of his own inconsistencies does not mean that he is lying to keep his job; most likely he does not consider those inconsistencies in any detail: if called on the Mormon question I would imagine, based on experience with atheists that when his first few arguments fall flat he would resort to something along the lines of, the demonstrably false accusation of ‘Joseph Smith was a convicted con-man’, regardless of whether that has anything at all to do with the point in question. That money, prestige, and power are dependent on him not seriously considering his weak points and finding errors in his own beliefs is additional incentive for him to maintain the inconsistencies, again, not that he is lying in doing so.

          Next, my original point dealt not with the truth of those claims but whether the truth was even desirable under commonly held systems of ethics of atheists. If a belief in God makes believers demonstrably happier, less suicidal, have stronger family ties, more social interactions, longer happier healthier lives than those that do not believe in God then if ones morality is dependent on what brings the most happiness or the best results the question of is belief in God true? is less important than does a belief in God increase the desired consequence more than a non-belief in God?.

          Then there is the question of how God would, could, or should communicate with us? (With its required assumption as to what the purpose of God communicating with us and the purpose of life per God is). The scripture of revelatory religions is claimed to contain instances of direct revelation from God so any further revelation from God can be used to judge that revelation and judge the scriptures themselves. In much more than the revelatory religions though there exists the idea that emotion can be tied with truth itself, especially moral truth but also more generally. So that emotion is tied with revelation from God is consistent with what claimed prior revelation from God states, nearly independent of what god or gods or scripture is in question. The question of does God exist can be answered via experience with God and noting that experience with God often includes a still small voice as well as particular emotions can be used to determine whether one has had experience with God; assuming that is the type of experience that one has had (which is not always the case).

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

          If “convicted con man” doesn’t describe Smith accurately, how would you rework the sentiment? Was he at least charged with deception in some regard?

        • JohnH2

          He was an admitted glass looker as established in a hearing that did not include a claim against him, but to his at that time employer; this being something that he even admits to in his own history. Which as he was a seer per Mormonism is precisely to be expected and people testifying in court that he was a glass looker and successful at it is evidence in favor (as far as it goes) to him being a seer and not evidence of him being a con man. To say that because he was a glass looker and admitted that, in fact claims to be a seer, and had people testify favorably to his ability to do so that he was a conman is to a priori assume that all seers are conmen.

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

          What’s a glass looker, and is it a reliable way to learn something? Tell me more.

          If it’s reliable, I’d like to see the modern scientific results that it does what it claims to do.

        • JohnH2

          A glass looker is someone that uses a piece of glass or a stone to view hidden or distant objects or events.

          If the piece of glass happens to be a cell phone it is clearly a reliable way to learn something.

          Claims of being a seer or glass looker appear to have fallen out of favor and related claims such as dowsing appear to be no better than chance.

          In scripture they appear to be relatively rare and special. If you could get one of the top 15 of my church to either agree to testing on the subject or, except for the head of the church for whom it is a title, drop the usage or demonstrate that it is also titular and they don’t have or use seer stones that would be something that I actually am interested in.

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

          I assume you’re joking with the cell phone comment. Yes, I realize that you can say lots of intelligent things with a cell phone connected to the internet and a little time, but that’s not what we’re talking about with J. Smith.

          What I hear you saying is that claims that a glass looker can tell you anything interesting (seeing the future, seeing distant objects/places, etc.) is complete bullshit. If I’m misunderstanding, point me to the studies that show its effectiveness.

          I’m missing the point of your last paragraph. You’re saying that you’re skeptical too and would like to see the LDS leadership admit this?

        • JohnH2

          The existence of a false prophet doesn’t demonstrate that there can not be a true prophet. The tradition of glasslooking being no better than chance does not demonstrate either that Joseph Smith was a conman or that seers do not or can not exist; especially from the christian perspective where such things do appear in the Bible.

          A seer in the Book of Mormon has a very specific meaning which includes looking at stones for the purpose of seeing things. Mormons sustain the top leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators without any knowledge or evidence that they are really anything but the first, prophets, and, potentially, the third. Since seer has a very specific definition in LDS scripture I am interested in knowing why we so sustain them as such, for the head of the church doing so as a title is via revelation, but not so for the rest of them, at least not in anything in the D&C. If they are actually seers I would like at the very least a clear statement of such; If it is primarily a title denoting the potential to be such then I would like to see the revelation stating that, or at the very least an official statement; if neither then why the claim of the title.

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

          The existence of a false prophet doesn’t demonstrate that there can not be a true prophet.

          Yes, and not finding evidence of a god where you’d expect to is no proof that that god doesn’t exist, but it certainly is a clue.

          The tradition of glasslooking being no better than chance does not demonstrate either that Joseph Smith was a conman

          If through experience Smith had no good reason to imagine that his glass gave results but he nevertheless claimed that they did, then he’s a con man. Or are you saying that he was simply self-deceived?

          … or that seers do not or can not exist; especially from the christian perspective where such things do appear in the Bible.

          Yes, but as I’ve already mentioned, the lack of results is certainly a relevant clue.

          A seer in the Book of Mormon has a very specific meaning which includes looking at stones for the purpose of seeing things.

          And this be demonstrated today? If not, why not, and why should we imagine that the stories in the BoM are accurate?

          Mormons sustain the top leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators without any knowledge or evidence that they are really anything but the first, prophets, and, potentially, the third.

          You’re saying that you have knowledge or evidence that the LDS leadership can prophesy? Tell me more.

          Since seer has a very specific definition in LDS scripture I am interested in knowing why we so sustain them as such

          Are you doubtful that their claim is accurate?

        • JohnH2

          I believe that Joseph Smith was a true seer, and that those around him were not, but quite probably self deceived on the subject. If he was not a true seer than the most logical explanation for the evidence is that he was self-deceived.

          If there was an actual seer then it should be demonstrable today, and if there is or is not someone claiming to actually be a seer is precisely something that I am unsure of and would like to know.

          Yes I have knowledge that they can prophesy, the current prophet prophesied the overthrow of dictators and conflicts associated with that; in about this same level of specificity so I don’t expect you to be at all impressed, though you could surprise me. The prior one prophesied the housing collapse starting to so prophesy in the mid-late nineties. Other things like that.

          “Are you doubtful that their claim is accurate?”

          I am actually doubtful that they are even intentionally claiming to be what they appear to be claiming. I am thinking with the way that it is used in more recent talks that it is currently meant as a variation on prophet, despite there being a clear specific definition (Mosiah 8:13-17) of what a seer is.

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

          Yes, that he was self-deceived is a plausible explanation. Or that he was a liar is another one. Or maybe a little of both.

          Natural explanations are sufficient to explain all that we see within Mormonism.

          I agree: we should demand evidence of seers today to support claims from the past. No evidence today casts enormous doubts over claims from the past.

          I’m sure you’re right that vague prophecies from the LDS leadership wouldn’t impress me. Would equivalent prophecies from some other religion impress you? If not, why do you accept these claims as prophecy?

          What would it take for you to reject the supernatural claims of Mormonism?

        • JohnH2

          Equivalent prophecies as those referenced would cause me to take more note of the other religion, but not to say by itself that the religion is true by itself. I accept them as prophecies for validation purposes, I already know the religion to be true but any one claimed to be a prophet should meet the test as found in Deuteronomy, which they do.

          A signed, witnessed, and fully validated statement by Joseph Smith specifically saying that he was a fraud or direct clear theophany would, given what I know and have experienced and researched, be required for me to reject the claims of Mormonism. I know it is true.

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

          So a prophecy during a tense period like “There will be war” and then, 10 years later, there is war, would be a compelling prophecy from another religion?

          The Deut. test says that prophecies must be right? That prophecy you pointed out to me (in the D&C?) wasn’t especially right. Does that mean that Smith was wrong?

          So to see that LDS is false, you demand something that we can be pretty confident doesn’t exist. So this is unfalsifiable for you. (I marvel at the low bar you’ve set for it. Your call.)

          Tell me this, then: how do you know it’s true? Do people in other religions saying the same thing have a warrant for the truth of their religion as strong as you do for yours?

        • JohnH2

          Such a prophecy is evidence in favor of the religion.

          You don’t find it especially right, I disagree, and how it was read by those prior to the events is relevant; that reading also disagrees with you. Nor is that at all the only prophecy of Joseph Smith that is correct; again having parts of prophecy or prophecies that are not yet fulfilled is different from having a false or failed prophecy.

          The only reason that you can be confident that Joseph Smith never admitted that he was a fraud is that despite claims otherwise you already know that Joseph Smith did not believe himself to be a fraud; Otherwise it is completely reasonable that such a statement would exist as such do exist in the case of, for example, L. Ron Hubbard for Scientology.

          I know via experiences from God and the justifiable support from those experiences which prove the experience as being rational and corresponding with reality.

          With someone from another religion what they know would have to be determined and how what I know and what they know relate to each other. I imagine that at least in some religions there are people who know just as I know that they have truth.

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

          Surely you, in a sober moment, would demand serious evidence for a claim of prophecy. When a cult leader (or fill in with someone whose religious beliefs you don’t share) predicts war in the future or some other vague prediction, does this give any credence to his claim of being a prophet?

          If you think that a compilation of Joseph Smith’s prophecies would be compelling to me, show me one. If you think it wouldn’t, show me why my standards for prophecy are out of line and that accepting Smith as a prophet wouldn’t dredge up dozens of other unsavory characters that you don’t think are prophets.

          The evidence that you demand for you to change doesn’t exist. The evidence for me to at least take a second look is trivial to imagine: for example, God giving every human a dream in which he explains his existence (to take one of many possibilities).

        • TheNuszAbides

          “Such a prophecy is evidence in favor of the religion.”

          did Mendel’s “devil’s work” retroactively favor the RCC when his theory managed to escape from the oubliette?

          it’s evidence in favor of people attributing supernatural agency to dubiously-remarkable correspondence. how profound that that would be ‘in favor of the religion’. devotion’s a heck of a thing.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “the claims”. except for the ones you found to be erroneous. is this a “No True Claims” distinction? are you actively dissuading widespread belief in those errors, or are they coincidentally trivial enough to not require actual/official correction? would it not make enough of a difference, or the right kind of difference, if a public retroactive apology (instead of, e.g.,”oh, never mind, God told us it’s the appropriate time to switch from the racist policy of ordainment to a more inclusive policy”) were ever given for one or all of these errors? or would that be too divisive?

        • TheNuszAbides

          “…why do you accept these claims as prophecy?”

          because he’s just rational enough to rationalize his tribal affiliation confirmation bias.

        • MNb

          “as well as completely misses the point”
          Disagreeing does not imply missing the point.

          “not recognizing that scripture is primarily concerned with moral questions”
          Don’t worry. I became a non-believer at the age of 13 or 14 exactly at the moment I recognized this, plus I recognized who much the answers suck. That includes the answers provided by your particular brand. To formulate it otherwise: even if WLC or you convinced me that there is a god (or perhaps more than one) no way that I will convert to some version of abrahamism, including yours. I have way too many objections to the various scriptures.
          Pastafarianism is nice. Or perhaps the pink unicorn.

        • avalon

          Hi John,
          You said, “If a belief in God makes believers demonstrably happier, less suicidal, have stronger family ties, more social interactions, longer happier healthier lives than those that do not believe in God then if ones morality is dependent on what brings the most happiness or the best results the question of is belief in God true? is less important than does a belief in God increase the desired consequence more than a non-belief in God?.”

          This is a valid question. However, it is a DIFFERENT question from ‘Does God exist?’.
          Religious claims often seem to be believed in more for their personal worth in answering our “need for an ultimate meaning to life” than for their logical or empirical merit. This means that the test for a truly spiritual belief is whether it accomplishes the goal of answering our need for meaning (and how well it does so), and this matters more than whether that belief is consistent, proven, or true. Believers like Craig are often interested in things more important to them than the truth. Since the personal, emotional benefits provided by spiritual beliefs do not depend on those beliefs being true, their truth become irrelevant. Having a false source of meaning can lead to personal happiness, but it can lead to conflict and unhappiness in others. More importantly, it displays a dangerous lack of concern about whether we are genuinely right or wrong.

          You also said, “The question of does God exist can be answered via experience with God and noting that experience with God often includes a still small voice as well as particular emotions can be used to determine whether one has had experience with God; assuming that is the type of experience that one has had (which is not always the case).”

          Religious experience is something most if not all of us can agree is a fact: it unquestionably exists, regardless of whether we agree with the conclusions people draw from it. What I question are conclusions people draw from their spiritual experiences, There is no inherent way to distinguish ordinary psychological events from spiritual events. Because they originate within the same domain (our mental life), the possibility always remains that they are merely different aspects of the same thing, and thus may not correspond to anything outside of our own, private mental existence.
          The claim that believers are addressing questions about objective reality is a false one. Since the definition of objective reality is that which is at least in principle verifiable by all observers, spiritual experiences provide no knowledge of objective reality. Thus, even if they happen to contain objective truths, no means exist to identify which aspects of these experiences, if any, actually do contain objective truths. They are largely useless as a means of acquiring knowledge about the world all observers share in common.

        • JohnH2

          A better knowledge about the world allows one to make decisions that are more effective. I am not claiming that the happiness of those who are religious is a proof that religion is true, but it is evidence that it might be; that the subjective experience (which is all anyone has to judge anything on) is supported by the outcomes drawn from acting on the experience; reality appears to support the conclusions of religious experiences rather than deny them as is common with the conclusion of mentally ill patients.

        • avalon

          “I am not claiming that the happiness of those who are religious is a
          proof that religion is true, but it is evidence that it might be”

          Happiness is a subjective, internal state of being. So it can only be subjective “evidence”.

          ” that the subjective experience (which is all anyone has to judge anything on) is supported by the outcomes drawn from acting on the experience”

          First, subjective experience is not “all anyone has to judge anything on”. You claimed earlier that you love your wife. That is a statement concerning your internal, subjective experience. Had you stated, “My wife exists.” then that would be an objective statement and it would require objective evidence. If it turned out that no one had ever seen your wife, and there was no record of your marriage or her existence then your subjective experience of such a person would not be convincing. Neither would any outcome refute the lack of evidence.

          “reality appears to support the conclusions of religious experiences rather than deny them”

          Can you give an example of the reality of God’s existence that doesn’t begin with a strong emotional desire to believe it’s true?

          If, as you say, “the question of ‘Does God exist’ and ‘Is scripture anything special’ is seen as being primarily a moral question”, then you’re admitting to an emotional bias and are incapable of purely rational and logical reasoning on the topic. Like all apologists, you want to limit your logic to only those things which seem desirable to you. Any logic which might detract from the “meaning of life” is rejected on emotional grounds.

        • JohnH2

          “If, as you say, “the question of ‘Does God exist’ and ‘Is scripture anything special’ is seen as being primarily a moral question””

          You are quoting me out of context as that is not my claim. I really wish you would stop doing that and actually pay attention and follow the argument.

          “Can you give an example of the reality of God’s existence that doesn’t begin with a strong emotional desire to believe it’s true?”

          Like the gathering of Israel or are you referring to someone having a vision from God?

          All evidence comes via subjective experience, someone seeing my wife is a subjective experience. A marriage record can only be experienced subjectively.

        • avalon

          “All evidence comes via subjective experience, someone seeing my wife is a
          subjective experience. A marriage record can only be experienced
          subjectively.”

          If I see your wife and you see your wife and everyone else in the room sees your wife then it’s pretty certain that she objectively exists. But religious experience is different in that it is not universally experienced and it’s subject to personal interpretation.

          Since the definition of objective reality is that which is at least in principle verifiable by all observers, spiritual experiences provide no knowledge of objective reality.

          “You are quoting me out of context as that is not my claim. I really wish
          you would stop doing that and actually pay attention and follow the
          argument.”

          Fine, let me ask you outright:

          1. Is the question “Does God exist?’ an objective one?
          2. Do you see the difference between the questions ‘Does God exist?’ and ‘Is it good to believe God exists?’ ?

        • JohnH2

          “least in principle verifiable by all observers”

          Which spiritual experiences are in principle verifiable by all observers, and do provide knowledge of objective reality even independent of universal observation.

          As to your questions, if you took time to actually read what I have written and follow it you would already know that I do think the question of Does God exist is objective, and that there is a vast difference between it is good to believe in God and does God exist.

        • avalon

          Do you agree that our emotion should not play any part in answering an objective question?

          Apologists don’t seem to agree that only facts and evidence should be used to answer objective questions. This was summed up nicely in a recent apologetic book:
          “Hume concluded that the evidence for God is mixed, and since modern people believe only what they can prove, they have no choice but to give up belief in God. Such skepticism may lead to despair, but at least they are being honest. Hume’s arguments startled another eighteenth-century philosopher, Immanuel Kant. Kant agreed there wasn’t enough evidence to prove God’s existence, but he knew he had to find a way to believe in God, otherwise life would lose all meaning.” (Despite Doubt, by Michael Wittmer)
          If, as I’ve said, religion is about finding meaning in life; then it’s not really interested in answering objective questions. Hume answered the question of God’s existence objectively and honestly. Kant rejected that answer, not because he didn’t agree with it, but because he found it depressing.

          Having no objective evidence of God, apologists fall back on the negative reaction they have to that fact. Despite Doubt is filled with emotional reasons to believe in God, but no objective evidence, According to Wittmer, science (in providing objective answers) is “ruthless” presenting a “depressing viewpoint” that will lead to “our demise”. “We cower before the consequences of not believing in God…”

          “I dare you to persuade yourself that God does not exist. Try to make yourself not believe in God, if only for a moment. Tell yourself there is no God, no one who created and redeemed you, no one to raise you from the dead. You live, you die, and then you disappear, never to be seen or heard from again. Try to make yourself accept as fact that God does not exist. I bet you can’t do it.
          Did a wave of nausea just wash over you? Did you break into a cold sweat and find that you had to sit down?”

          This is someone who is more interested in comfort than objective answers.

        • JohnH2

          There are objective questions in which emotion plays a part, already covered that. The existence of emotion in an experience also does not mean that an experience is not real or useful in answering objective questions.

          While there is objective evidence for the existence of God it is also not really that relevant for dealing with what is important. The objective fact of Gods existence does not by itself give comfort or meaning or change ones actions, while having direct experience with God and thus the start of a relationship and understanding of God does.

          Science can not present any viewpoint on the world, it only tells us some of what we can measure and experience and help us determine how those things works. The idea that only those things proven by science are true is self-refuting and ignores all of the true but unprovable assumptions which are required to even conduct science.

          Regarding objective evidence though, there is lots of objective evidence for the existence of God, but as with all evidence one can always construct other theories which match the evidence. Whether hypothesis of God’s existence is the best theory completely depends on heuristics.

          For Bob, as an example, he has explicitly stated heuristics and views on God such that no amount of evidence or experience on his part would be sufficient to have God be the preferred theory, even if the experience in question was a theophany.

        • avalon

          “There are objective questions in which emotion plays a part, already
          covered that.”

          What “part” does emotion play in examining evidence (or lack thereof) of God’s existence?

          “The existence of emotion in an experience also does not
          mean that an experience is not real or useful in answering objective questions.”

          The emotion that accompanies an examination of evidence is irrelevant to the factual nature and the logical conclusions of that evidence.

          “Kant agreed there wasn’t enough evidence to prove God’s existence”, so the logical conclusion is God probably doesn’t exist. “But he knew he had to find a way to believe in God, otherwise life would lose all meaning.” His distress in having his life lose all meaning was not simply a by-product of the facts; it was a motivation to ignore the facts and believe anyway.

          You keep indicating that emotion in apologists is simply tagging along with their factual inquiry. I’m saying emotion is their motivation for rejecting the facts.

          For Michael Wittmer, the fact that he experiences a “wave of nausea” and a “cold sweat” when even considering that God doesn’t exist shows how biased his examination of the question will be. He projects his own emotions on others when he assumes that’s how they’d feel too.

          Assuming everyone will believe in God because he feels ill just imagining He doesn’t exist, Wittmer adds “Deep down everyone believes in God, even outspoken atheists…”.

          So emotion is not just what happens to him AFTER he examines the question objectively, it’s how he frames the question BEFORE he begins an examination at all. He refuses to accept the possibility of no god all because of how it makes him feel. That is NOT how one discovers objective answers in an unbiased manner.

        • JohnH2

          The experience from God is supposed and does bring with it emotion which is part of its defining features. The emotion is not at all fear, explicitly not fear.

          Emotion is part of fact; and the beauty from great masters of art from the past is no less real or factual because measuring it or even defining it is difficult or impossible.

          Fear is not my motivation and should not be anyone’s motivation for believing in God. Fear is the antithesis of faith (trust).

          I know nothing about Michael Wittmer and have no basis to judge what he was doing other than your words. Given the way you started this thread and your continual conduct in it, I am pretty much certain that you are deeply misrepresenting the point he was making and the argument surrounding it; I could be wrong but that is definitely my working hypothesis.

        • avalon

          I see we’ve reached the point where you’re going to ignore my comments and questions and begin making personal attacks. All signs of a weak argument.
          Wittmer’s book is available as a free download, if you’re interested in reading it. So you can see if my quotes are accurate…
          Thanks for the discussion.

        • JohnH2

          Can you point me to the free download?

          Actually, since you started and continued with personal attacks saying anything about weak argument is against you.

          Your argument of what Wittmer says doesn’t mesh with what I know of Christian Apologists, or of Kant, who I have actually read. Given you propensity to misunderstand arguments and attribute irrationality to your opponents my theory is highly justified.

          Furthermore there is this line in the summery ” Doubt is not the fuel of faith” of his book which appears to directly contradict what you appear to have gotten from the book. Which just reinforces my opinion on the subject. As well as this line: “Scripture repeatedly presents faith as our reliance upon what we know”.

        • avalon
        • JohnH2

          Thank you for the link.

          Looking at the first chapters which is where your quotes and conclusions are coming from, you have deeply misunderstood what he was saying about Kant; though it is my opinion that he was also misunderstood Kant.

          He is not saying that Kant believed in God via fear of God’s non-existence. Kant’s position really isn’t that different from what philosophers (and theologians) have claimed for ages, which is that God is derivable from truths but not experiencing and therefore (according to them) in a real sense not knowable. I disagree quite strongly with that, but fear is not at all the motivation for those arguments.

          What he means by God is quite different from what I mean by God, or what you mean by God. Excluding his whole thing with trying to deny God and believing due to discomfort, which means that he is seriously only focusing on those that already believe in God, everything that he says is focused on a particular philosophical view of God; and he isn’t completely consistent about it at all.

          I am confused as to why you think the book is representative of anything? It isn’t designed at all for atheists but for theists of a very particular variety with particular sets of assumptions already held. I must say that the last half of the last chapter descends into nonsense from which your conclusions about him do make more sense.

        • MNb

          “Emotion is part of fact”
          This is nonsense; it’s a fact that a chessboard has 64 squares. Good luck telling me which emotion is part of that fact.
          Otherwise you’re right. Emotion plays an important part in both belief and non-belief. I think too many atheists and agnosts have a blind eye for this. The Problem of Evil is obviously (in my eyes at least) strongly connected with emotion. Hence I see WLC as a j**k-a*s who lacks empathy.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “…their motivation for rejecting the facts.”

          or merely creatively reinterpreting them.
          (or not-so-creatively)

  • Maine_Skeptic

    Bob, I think critical examination of William Lane Craig and his reasoning is important to understanding apologetics and the resistance to evidence-based reasoning. Many people believe as Craig does because they’ve never had cause to seriously examine the questions. Craig doesn’t have that excuse. Because of the cynicism with which he approaches debate, I’m fascinated by the question of how he resolves his own cognitive dissonance. I have my hypotheses, but even if I’m wrong, it seems to me that deconstructing his mindset is a good way to understand many of the theologians who’ve been exposed to the facts but still cling to the myth.

    • primenumbers

      ” I’m fascinated by the question of how he resolves his own cognitive dissonance.” – no doubt a combination of $$$ and the “fame” he achieves among his followers.

      • Maine_Skeptic

        Those are strong motivators to continue, I agree, but unless he’s a sociopath, he still has to have a way of resolving his stated reverence for intellectual honesty and moral integrity with his own cold, premeditated deceptions.

        • primenumbers

          They’re good motivators for sure, but his collected works are his rationalizations. He’s a clever guy, but he obviously believes his own stuff. I don’t think he’s intentionally deceptive, just so deep in his cognitive sinkhole he has no means of escape.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          You may already know that John Loftus, an atheist author and a former student of Craig’s, agrees with you. I can’t bring myself to do so.

          Craig might believe Christianity is true, but I can’t bring myself to accept that someone who has spent his entire career dissecting the arguments of other people can fail to recognize how weak his own arguments are. I try not to underestimate the human ability to deceive ourselves, but he’s too intelligent and too skillful for this to be simple self-deception. It makes more sense to me that he’s fully aware that he’s being deceptive, but that he justifies it somehow in the name of “moral truth.”

        • primenumbers

          I do know John. I think he’s right in this case. I don’t know his reasons on WLC, but mine basically come down to extensive reading on psychology, cognitive dissonance, cognitive biases and the resulting rationalization. I don’t see anything out of the ordinary in WLCs behaviour that would suggest he actually realizes he is being inconsistent and deceptive. And yes, I do think cognitive biases can be that powerful and produce what obviously appears to us as deception and inconsistency while not registering as such to the believer.

          You could of course be right though, and the money and fame is more than enough motivation for him to continue while privately laughing at those that follow is publicly stated beliefs and arguments.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          I don’t know whether it would be worse if you were right or I was. And, of course, we may never know.

          It sounds like I’ve read some of the same types of books you have. If he’s fooling himself, do you think he knows at a subconscious level? Does he admit to himself from time to time that he’s being dishonest, but then stuff it back before he gives it too much thought?

        • primenumbers

          The cognitive biases work at a subconscious level, so I think that would mean he doesn’t know (at any level) that he’s fooling himself, as that realization is hidden or sufficiently diminished by the cognitive biases. Rationalizations are generally very effective, and his rationalizations are immensely intricate and appear effective. He lives in a society that predominantly supports his basic beliefs, and works in an environment that produces mutually supportive rationalizations. His debates are predominantly scripted rather than interactive.

          And yes, we can never really know….. But what we can observe is the potential sources of cognitive dissonance and the resulting rationalizations. I think the type of person where I actually do think that they know they’re being deceptive is exemplified by Benny Hinn. As bad as WLC is, I don’t see his actions quite putting him in that category.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          “…The cognitive biases work at a subconscious level, so I think that would mean he doesn’t know (at any level) that he’s fooling himself…”



          I can see that when it comes to confirmation bias and other cognitive filters, where the mind just refuses delivery of the contradictory information. 


          Were you ever religious? I was, and in my own experience, there was a lot more happening than just cognitive filtering. I instinctively knew that I couldn’t just follow the evidence wherever it led, or I’d end up “bogged down in the wisdom of this world.” My church and I had to construct a whole different type of reasoning that relied more on feelings and proof texts than on facts. A lot of time was spent in what I now understand to be thought-stopping techniques.

          When I did eventually walk away, it seemed to me that the doubts had arisen suddenly and led to a decision quickly, like in a month or two. I later found a journal entry laying out my reasons for leaving, but I’d written it a year to eighteen months before I actually left. I apparently wrote that entry and then stuffed the whole thing down, expecting my thoughts to change afterward.

          It was a lot of work suspending disbelief, though I wasn’t aware of it until I left. If I’d been exposed to debate argument, philosophy, and science during that time, I could never have maintained the suspension of disbelief as long as I did.

        • Asemodeus

          I had the exact opposite upbringing than you. My parents never forced religion on me, as I went all the way through high school never seriously thinking about it. Then youtube happened and I stumbled across the Atheist videos there, and it dawned on me that I’ve been a life long Atheist and never knew it.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          It sounds like in some ways our experiences were surprisingly similar. You’d been doing a lot more thinking about religion than you were aware of. It sounds like the atheist Youtubers didn’t so much change your mind as make you realize what you’d already been thinking.

          I hope your experience becomes a lot more common in the years ahead.

        • primenumbers

          I was religious, but it was only CofE, so I only had a mild exposure. I can appreciate the force of community that you endured though, and how it works to preserve the belief.

          “If I’d been exposed to debate argument, philosophy, and science during that time, I could never have maintained the suspension of disbelief as long as I did.” – that’s why I always engage with believers whenever I can.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know for sure, but it seemz like WLC went into philosophy to bolster his Christianity, not as an honest seeker. The “scientists” at ICR and Answers in Genesis do/did the samd thing, much of the time. They aren’t looking for truth, they are looking to shore up their faith. The whole endeavour is disshonest from the start.

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

          One outrageous example that comes to mind is Jonathan Wells, who has a PhD in some aspect of biology. Rev. Moon told Wells to get the degree so he could undercut evolution, and Wells makes this motivation plain in his autobiographical writings.

        • Pofarmer

          To quote Daffy Duck, “That’s despicable”.

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

          Yes, Looney Tunes is a good source of wisdom.

        • MNb

          Again I wonder: is there any apologist around with another motivation?

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

          Someone with such a bizarre relationship with reason and evidence might be perfectly comfortable with a “the ends justify the means” approach.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          “Someone with such a bizarre relationship with reason and evidence might
          be perfectly comfortable with a “the ends justify the means” approach.”

          I agree. But in order to take that attitude, he would also have to have decided the very process of debating and trying to arrive at the truth logically is pointless. He would have to have contempt for the stated purpose of his own whole career. I actually think that’s more possible than that he believes everything he says.

        • MNb

          “But in order to take that attitude”
          That’s where self-delusion comes in handy.

      • Pofarmer

        Another thing that gets me about WLC. I’ve seen one of his arguments thoroughly refuted in one debate, and then he happily trots out the very same argument in the next debate. This led me to conclude that he is fundamentally dishonest.

        • primenumbers

          Is that because he himself doesn’t believe that his argument was refuted. I’d guess that he thinks his argument was “misunderstood” or some other rationalization. But of course, you could be right that he’s fundamentally dishonest. Hard to tell, really.

        • MNb

          I don’t think there really is a dichotomy here. The best way to lie to other people is to convince yourself of your lie. So even if he doesn’t believe that his argument was refuted he remains fundamentally dishonest.

        • primenumbers

          If you set out to deliberately convince yourself, then indeed, that’s dishonest. I don’t think that’s what has occurred in this case. He’s so deep in the cognitive dissonance and rationalizations he really doesn’t see the issues we see so clearly.

        • MNb

          “If you set out to deliberately convince yourself”
          To me this looks like the very definition of apologetics.

        • MNb

          Hardly unique, I’d say.

        • wtfwjtd

          Haven’t we seen this time and again with the theists who post in the comments here as well? You’ll see someone like Cody or Justas finally get pinned down and thoroughly refuted, and they’ll pop back up a week or two later spewing the same nonsense, as if the conversation had never happened.

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

          Would “the means justify the ends” support this kind of action? Once I understand how an argument is ineffective, I never use it again, even if I know that a new opponent couldn’t find the Achilles heel of that argument.

        • wtfwjtd

          For the theist, the issue of whether god exists or not isn’t open for debate. It’s a “belief” based on fear at its core, not reason.
          As Pofarmer has reminded us, to even express doubt is a mortal sin in Catholicism, so to actually put the issue on the table with the expressed intent to allow the evidence to decide the matter is not an option. Maybe that’s why the Catholic types especially seem so intent on sowing hostility rather than making any kind of actual argument.
          And, maybe that’s one of the reasons why those types revert to the same refuted arguments again and again. Since reason isn’t the basis of their belief in god anyway, why would it matter whether their clever soundbite had been refuted or not? It sounds good to them, so it must be “convincing” for the skeptic as well.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, when you watch the Catholics, the one the other night was wanting to use church tradition, the apostolic fathers and all that jazz to justify the positions of the Catholic church, which is all well and good. But when you pin them on the doctrine of The Fall, which is basically the underpinning of all the theology of the Church, well, uhm, yeah, uhm, suxdenly it becomes allegorical, but that doesn’t work either, because now the literal ressurection makes no sense, and they GOTTA have that, so they ars stuck. At that point they either leave, change the subject, move the goalposts, or ban me if it’s a Catholic blog. The entire underpinning of their oh so convoluted theology is a fairy tale.

        • wtfwjtd

          Trying to make evolution coincide with original sin just don’t work, and opens up all kinds of worm cans, and not just for Catholicism but Protestantism as well. Like you said, too many loose ends and dead ends that lead to nowhere, and usually when the conversation gets to this point the theist disappears. Too hard to face I guess.
          And don’t forget the word games too, they’re forever trying to parse terms in micro-fine ways or constantly changing word definitions within the same conversation and hope you don’t notice. I think that’s part of the convoluted theology you were referring to.

        • Pofarmer

          Aldous Huxley thought the conversation was settled in the 1890’s.

        • wtfwjtd

          If only that were true.

        • MNb

          “Trying to make evolution coincide with original sin just don’t work.”
          I think it can be done, so let me play advocate of the devil. Disclaimer: I think original sin nonsense from even a theological point of view.
          Assume god has to do something with consciousness developing in human beings and their ancestors (ie gods gift to mankind, mankind taken very broadly). Then Adam and Eve are metaphors for the blissfully unaware protohumans; that state is called Garden of Eden. With the development of consciousness (proto)humans also invented the moral categories of good and evil. It went along with (proto)humans getting some basic form of knowledge. Some (proto)humans decided to use this knowledge to harm others. Result: mankind got out of the Garden of Eden. Consciousness and awareness imply evil and an imperfect world. You and I have to bear the burden of it.

        • wtfwjtd

          How is it passed from generation to generation? At what point in evolution did god decide that original sin was a great idea? If God could have created us perfect, as he supposedly did Jesus, why didn’t he? Were humans considered human before this? These are just a few of the questions that pop into my head that make the two ideas incompatible to me.

        • Pofarmer

          You run into the same problem as ever other argument of that type. No evidence.

        • MNb

          Of course. That’s the trick. The judeo-christian who accepts this position will reply “I don’t need evidence; this is theology, not science. An interpretation that coincides with Evolution Theory is good enough.”

          Does your wife accept Evolution Theory? She might like this:

          http://americamagazine.org/issue/350/article/evolution-evil-and-original-sin

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

          wtfwjtd was saying that within Catholicism, it’s a sin to question or doubt. Could you elaborate on this? I’m wondering what a priest would point to. A papal edict? Just tradition? The Bible?

          Thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          I think you’ll have to ask wtfwjtd. There is all kinds of crazy shit on the Catholic Catechism.

        • Pofarmer

          Not sure I’m the original idea. The Catechism certainly has all kinds of crazy shitmin it, though.

        • Pofarmer

          Did a little search on Catholic.com. Holy shit, never knew they cosidered missing Mass a mortal sin. Poor fuckers are scared of theoir own shadows.

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

          C’mon–think about it. Those bills don’t pay themselves, y’know.

          (Snark aside, I visited Hereford Cathedral in England a week ago. The sign at the entrance said that it cost 4000 pounds daily on upkeep. Wow.)

        • MNb

          Remember that when somebody argues that the RCC is rich. The largest part of its fortune is stuck in unsellable real estate. In several European countries the RCC has serious problems with cash flow. Not that I mind.

        • wtfwjtd

          Holy sheep, 4,000 quid a day? That’s quite an extravagant luxury. Are the taxpayers mostly on the hook for that bill?

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

          I imagine. I’m sure the tourists who come for the cathedral boost the local economy to some extent.

        • wtfwjtd

          “wtfwjtd was saying that within Catholicism, it’s a sin to question or doubt.”

          My problem is, I do too much reading, and sometimes I can’t recall where a particular idea stuck in my head. That seems to be one of them, I felt at the time the source was reliable but I can’t point to it at the moment. Oh well…put that assertion on hold for the moment, maybe I just pulled it out of you-know-where. If I run across it again, I’ll try and report back.

        • MNb

          “It’s a “belief” based on fear at its core”
          That happens often enough, sure, but it doesn’t apply to my female counterpart. I never ever noted even a trace of such fear. There are many more like her.

        • wtfwjtd

          What do you feel her belief is based on? I grew up a fundamentalist, so I believed…because I was taught that way. My belief wasn’t based on reason, it was more of a social/cultural thing. But, at times fear definitely was thrown at me every once in a while, especially as a teen-ager.

        • Pofarmer

          I personally try to use my strongest arguments right off the bat. Go for the early knockout, gemerally. I have concluded that theists really don’t have that many strong arguments, and non with any kind of actual evidence backing them..

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

          My reluctance to mix it up with Christians is long gone. I’m delighted now when I’m just able to get a new idea or factoid out of them. The arguments are pretty flabby.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I used to talk about religion. Once in a while she still searches apologetics books. But she lamented, when she couldn’t answer question of evidence, or why their were theological difference or holes, that she wasn’t educatd enough and didn’t know all the arguments. I explained to her, that she did, indeed, know all,the arguments. The magic bullet arguments just don’t exist.

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

          What drives me is Christians who say that they believe because of evidence and reason. Bring it on.

          If, instead, they say that they just believe and that’s it, I’d find something else to talk about. It’s the insanity of having nutty beliefs + demanding that these beliefs are respectable and justifiable.

          You don’t make that claim? You believe just because? Fair enough–let’s talk about something else then.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, it seems that the conversation always comes back to ” I just have faith”. No matter what their reasons started out being.

        • MNb

          If you indeed love your wife you should study some Kierkegaard and tell her about him and his work. My female counterpart doesn’t need any arguments or evidence. She understands almost intuitively the difference: she has faith, I don’t. If you can pass over this view you have imo a good chance to improve your marriage.

        • Pofarmer

          Any suggestions?

        • MNb
        • MNb

          Each his own strategy. I prefer to learn a bit about the actual belief system of the theist, mainly to avoid strawmen. Another reason is that I need some comments to find their weakest spots, especially the ones that are ripe for mockery. Finally I try to lull them a bit, to seduce them to unsuspiciously produce nonsense. That’s not really fair of course. My hypothesis is that theists usually can’t emotionally afford to give in even a little bit, because they feel that admitting one point undermines their entire belief system.
          Take David for example. What would have happened if he just had written “the views of the Hebrews on slavery are not mine and they are no part of my belief system”? My late ex-father-in-law, a practising muslim who left school at the age of 12, understood this: “There are good and bad things in the Quran. Get rid of the bad things and keep the good ones.”

          “non with any kind of actual evidence”
          Frankly I think it kind of sad if a theist feels he/she needs evidence to back up faith.

        • MNb

          In a slightly different version. They believe. They are sure that what they believe is correct. Hence the arguments that back their belief systems must be correct too.
          Here the interesting question becomes: what about the doubters? My guess is that they don’t show up on blogs like yours. Cody etc. are the result of selection bias.
          The one that comes closest to a public doubter is your colleague Ryan Bell, but frankly I already in December thought he essentially was lost for christianity.

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

          I haven’t read much on Ryan Bell. Based on his blog post titles, it sure looks like he’s an atheist, but I don’t know.

          It was pretty hilarious listening to WLC’s Reasonable Faith podcast talking about him. Craig was tsk-ing about how bad it is to entertain doubts like Bell was doing. (More here.)

          At every turn, Craig insists on lowering his own reputation.

        • MNb

          My hypothesis is that all apologists are fundamentally dishonest. That’s why I’m still looking for the one who refutes it. Up to now the only “apologists” who are honest are the one who claim nothing but faith a la Kierkegaard – ie don’t bring up apologies at all.

        • JohnH2

          I have never agreed with your assessment that I am dishonest. I never intentionally say something that I know to be false and thus always try to be honest.

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

        C’mon. Next you’ll be saying that Jim Jones was enthralled by the money and power in his church.

        • primenumbers

          Was he? :-)

  • Flaricka

    According to the magisterial role of reason [that is, putting reason in charge], these persons [evaluating Christianity’s claims] should not have believed in Christ until they finished their apologetic.

    … and they can’t have that, because then how could they go about “saving” all the kindergarteners, thus assuring another generation of followers??

  • Asemodeus

    Craig is a con man. You could tell with the debate he had with the cosmologist Carroll a few months back. Carroll has a PHD in cosmology, Craig doesn’t, but Craig kept trying to claim that Carroll didn’t understand research papers on cosmology. Even after Carroll knocked him down on his deliberate misreading of papers Craig just kept repeating the debunked nonsense.

    It was the intellectual equivalent of a crazy homeless person walking into a open heart surgery and trying to give advice to the doctor. At some point you just have to call security and drag the crazy person away for his own good.

    The only difference here is that Craig gets paid millions in book sales plus on whatever he can make selling DVDs of debates where he losses badly, but since his audience is too stupid to notice, that doesn’t matter either way.

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

      Like WLC, I’d like to get into a contest where most of the judges are audience members guaranteed to give me their vote at the end. The real error, I suppose, is for any observer like us thinking that it’s a contest that actually means much.

      Still, seeing Carroll hand Craig’s ass to him was pretty cool.

      • Asemodeus

        The best part of that debate was when Carroll actually applied theism to the real world and how every theistic assumption was wrong. Then explaining that this isn’t a problem for Christians since they invent up post ad hoc reasoning for why this is happening.
        All of which is possible because theism is a poorly defined term.

        At which point Craig stepped up and proceeded to prove Carroll right by making post ad hoc justifications and partially ignoring his argument.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m going to have to watch it agian. I admit I skipped most of Craigs stuff the first go around, because I’ve already heard it, and the guy us just such a popous ass.

  • smrnda

    Thought I would make a new post here, mostly responding to John’s claim that Mormon longevity says something or anything about the status of Joseph Smith as a prophet.

    I’m assuming that the idea is that if god has a plan, it should deliver results. Fair enough, but if someone says “I know that X is good for you and Y is bad for you” even if it’s something that isn’t known to science at the time, I’m not sure if that necessarily implies divine revelation.

    King James I (King James Bible King James) wrote a tract against smoking tobacco in which he argues it is bad for you. He supplies his reasons which have nothing to do with why smoking tobacco is actually bad. Maybe some people think King James was prophetic. I don’t, since it’s unremarkable for someone to reach a correct conclusion through faulty means, and the idea that smoking might be bad for you (given its propensity to make people cough and it’s effect on endurance) isn’t so far out there.

    A number of Mormon practices such as abstaining from alcohol and tobacco are going to have a positive impact, but the idea that alcohol might be bad for you, or smoking, isn’t really so revolutionary. It isn’t like Joseph Smith figured something out too advanced – a hangover is enough evidence that booze might be bad for you.

    At the same time, I prefer to take each aspect of Mormon practice separately. Is there any evidence that tea is bad for you? I don’t see much of a consensus on that one, it’s certainly not as much a substantiated risk as smoking. I think, like King James, Joseph Smith reasoned as well as he could about why certain things were healthy or not, and given lack of real evidence, got some things right and some wrong.

    I also agree that though we do have populations with better longevity data than Mormons we don’t know whether Japanese or Finnish Mormons would be any better, but I have to ask myself (and everybody else) in the absence of such evidence, how does one choose which lifestyle to follow?

    Let’s say someone is pushing Supplement X. when people do a particular training regimen and eat right and use supplement X, they did better than a control groups that didn’t use supplement X. However, there are people on different training plans that are getting even better results than the Supplement X users in the study. I don’t know that those people wouldn’t have benefit from supplement X, but I don’t think that would make much of a case that the supplement was that worthwhile.

    I just think King James being right about smoking points to evidence that just because someone seems to have ahead of their time knowledge on health, it’s no reason to view them prophetically, and given that James’ reasoning itself is on display, it’s easy to find an alternate explanation which is thoroughly unremarkable.

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

      Mormon’s abstaining from hot drinks doesn’t look so prescient now. And that’s been modified so that it means anything caffeinated? I don’t think Smith’s admonition applied to Pepsi.

      • smrnda

        Hot drinks and alcohol, at some points in time and places where you couldn’t safely drink the water were a good idea. What’s good for your health can be quite a bit dependent on your particular time and location.

        On longevity, I read that people in Macau have pretty solid longevity. So I’m convinced that I should move there :-) Unless someone can show me that Mormons *in Macau* live longer than average for the residents, I’m saying it’s all location.

        On caffeinated soda, I don’t know how Mormons handle that.

        • JohnH2

          “On caffeinated soda, I don’t know how Mormons handle that.”

          Inconsistently.

        • smrnda

          That doesn’t surprise me, but being Jewish I’ve seen similar problems with interpreting laws and rules written down long ago in a world with new technologies and such. There’s a Feynmann bit where he talked about being interested in the question ‘is electricity fire?’ until he found out the person he was talking to was asking this to determine whether the use of electricity on the Sabbath was kosher.

          *personal anecdote on electricity and fire* My Zayda once put the question to me : “Smrnda, is electricity fire?” My answer was that it’s not, and when he asked ‘but it burns when you touch it?” My response to that was (to him) shockingly obscene was I pointed out that ‘burns if you touch’ would mean that pissing while having a bad STI or urinary tract infection might be considered starting a fire, and that would be just too much.

      • JohnH2

        The Word of Wisdom doesn’t apply to Pepsi, though lots of Mormons act otherwise.

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

          So I’m right that it’s just hot drinks but that that’s been corrupted to mean “caffeinated drinks”?

          Weird. How did that happen? Is abstaining from colas pretty universal?

        • JohnH2

          The official meaning of the phrase is tea and coffee, which includes iced tea, iced coffee, and coffee flavored ice cream, usually independently of whether there is actually coffee in the ice cream or not. It does not include Hot Cocoa, is completely inconsistently applied to such things as Mate, and for many includes caffeinated sodas.

          I know that there have been those in authority that have discouraged caffeinated sodas, but also those that have not discouraged them. Mormons have a tendency of assuming that anything a leader speaks is doctrine, especially if it is restrictive to their actions and gives them another check box to fill in. There are both structural and cultural reasons for this. BYU the church university, doesn’t stock caffeinated beverages (unless it happens to start with a G and be imported from Brazil) which further reinforces for many the idea that drinking caffeinated beverages is bad (despite Hot cocoa, Guarana, etc. being okay).

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

          I remember Romney raising some eyebrows when eating coffee ice cream on the campaign trail, but then they were corrected that it’s “hot drinks” and not coffee. Is your coffee ice cream restriction original, do you think?

        • JohnH2
    • hector_jones

      It boils down to “Mormonism: A part of this good breakfast!”

  • Tinyal

    As I have said (at my own nontheist recovery meetings) for decades : “A human being will never work to gain something they think they already have”.
    As WLC – and millions of others – are convinced they know the ‘truth’ vis a vis their revelatory experiences, they will never put in any real effort to learn otherwise. IMOE, on rare occasions a strong life shock can bring them around, it seems sadly unproductive to debate – or even discuss – this with theists.
    I still try, however. I can think of no other method.

    • Pofarmer

      That’s funny. It was just such a “shock” that led me to question my own beliefs. And I wasn’t looking for the truth of religion or no religion, I was looking for the “truth” of Catholicism vs Protestantism, basically. If I found out Catholicism was “true” I was prepardx to convert. Boy, did I fuck that up.

      • wtfwjtd

        Like Greg says, once you see it, you can’t really “unsee” it. I know the feeling.

        • Pofarmer

          Asmondious keeps saying he’s gonna lay the theological whoopass on us, and I guess I’ll just keep waiting.

        • wtfwjtd

          Most theists that visit here, lead in with their best insults and trolling material, supposedly saving their best arguments for later. Like you, I’m still waiting.

  • Ann Kah

    Sorry, Dr. Craig, but if it wouldn’t work in a court of law, it isn’t evidence. But I begin to see the problem in debating this with a believer … If you believe in “self-authenticating witnesses”, there is no common ground upon which to base a discussion.

    • MNb

      I actually disagree. Legal evidence is not the same as scientific evidence, let alone the same as a philosophical argument.
      What disappoints me over and over again (well, I have got used to it) is that “philosophers” of religion do not scrutinize their arguments and point out the problems. Instead they prefer to make up stuff; ie apologetics.
      To go a little deeper: we have know at least since Descartes (or the critique he received) that a conclusion cannot be stronger than the assumptions its based on. I would have thought (and actually thought five, six years ago) that philosophers of religion would ruthlessly investigate what those assumptions are. I have yet to meet the first one; perhaps Swinburne.

      • Ann Kah

        I believe that is exactly what I just said. Perhaps I need to clarify for you what I mean by the word “truth”. I mean fact, evidence, observation, reliable sources. The religious (and, I suppose, the philosophers) may have a different definition. But “truth” about factual matters means factual evidence of the truth, which cannot be given by a “self-authenticating witness”. Legal evidence has a strong correspondnce with scientific evidence, both of them rightly depending on the validity of the evidence, and thus on the validity of the source.

        • MNb

          “I believe that is exactly what I just said.”
          I just reread your previous comment and no, you said nothing in this respect – meaning you didn’t contradict it either.
          Sorry for being unclear; I agree with your point about self-authenticating. It is invalid legally, scientifically and philosophicaly. My point is just that we can accept things in science and in philosophy – Schrödinger’s Cat for instance – which would be rejected in court.
          Hence I don’t have use for the word “truth” in science and philosophy. The word truth implies certainty beyond reasonable doubt; the core of science and philosophy is that always some of such doubt remains. For instance you can’t really exclude the possibility that in some experiment gravity becomes a repelling force.

  • Miguel de la Pena

    Is this where the tin men gather to vent their frustrations about people with hearts?

    • Greg G.

      This is the place where people with brains, hearts, and courage vent frustrations about people who are more concerned with gold-paved roads and pie-in-the-sky than reality.

      • Miguel de la Pena

        Ah yes, very courageous to vent anonymously online.

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

          Ah yes, nice change of topic … although I don’t guess you really had much of a topic to begin with.

          Do you have an argument for God’s existence that we should consider? Or do you want to recommend another route to god belief besides reason?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          What’s your take on the cosmological argument?

          I’ve found it to be quite reasonable.

        • JohnH2

          Which one? The Kalam suffers from a lot of easily seen problems. When we say something has a beginning of existences we always mean that per-existing stuff reaches a state of order such that we call it a new thing. When we say it has a cause we always mean that other per-existing stuff, even if it is an unstable state or background energy, is what caused the newly ordered arrangement to happen.

          When we talk about the Universe as a whole though, what does it even mean to come into being? And what would the nature of the cause be? If we take WLC position that the universe is what comes from the Big Bang than we are left with the argument being that a per-existing state experienced perhaps a quantum fluctuation and thus the Big Bang happened, with no statement as to a God at all; because the Big Bang is not really the start of the Universe, at least not as that term is used philosophically (as in the cosmological argument).

          Even if God did cause the Big Bang though the argument still suffers from drawing a contradictory conclusion as either God came into being and has a cause or God is actually infinite in His existence:

          Then there is the problem of infinity, the actuality of which Cantor derived from the Infinite of God.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          For clarity, am I correct in understanding “per-existing” to mean “pre-existing”? You mentioned it several times so I want to make sure it isn’t a typo.

          “…we always mean that per-existing stuff reaches a state of order such that we call it a new thing.”
          – I don’t see how this applies to time. If background energy is part of that pre-existing stuff, where did that background energy come from? I don’t believe energy to be eternal.

          “…what would the nature of that cause be?”
          – It seems the nature of the cause can be deduced by what’s caused. There needs to be an explanation of the universe’s existence. If we admit that time, space, and matter are not eternal and have a beginning/cause, that cause must be a transcendent entity, existing outside of time, space, and matter. Coincidentally, these are also qualities of God.

        • JohnH2

          pre-, yes sorry, I rely on auto-correct and it apparently failed me.

          What are your assumptions that lead you to believe that energy is not eternal?

          Why does there need to be an explanation of the universe’s existence but not God’s? How does a being outside of time, space, and matter part the red sea, give commandments to man, have a son, speak with prophets ‘face to face as a man speaks to another man’ and create anything in its own image and likeness and form, as man is to God? As a timeless space-less matter-less entity can’t be said to have an image or likeness or form.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Great questions…
          Energy – I could be wrong, but the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics kinda points in that direction.
          God – God, like mathematics, exists in the necessity of his own nature.
          Red Sea/Son/Image – If we agree an entity can create the universe (and natural law), why would we assume it is limited by it’s own creation. Perhaps any attempt at an image or likeness of an immaterial entity would logically fall short, so don’t try.

        • JohnH2

          The Second Law does not contradict the First Law of Thermodynamics, and therefore can’t address the claim that energy is not eternal, which is a direct contradiction of the First Law of Thermodynamics.

          What is your argument for the necessity of God?

          The point of the creation of the Universe, and of natural law, are under consideration though; what is your argument that the Universe itself is what God created? Scripture has God organizing the Heavens and the Earth using the same verb as is used for when digging a well elsewhere, implying the organization of pre-existing material.

          What is your argument that God is immaterial by the way? If it is the scripture that God is a Spirit than the rest of that same verse contradicts you as it also says that we are spirit, and further why privilege that one over the other descriptions of God, such as wind, fire, and most commonly as an embodied being in the express image of Jesus who sits at His right hand.

        • MNb

          “which is a direct contradiction of the First Law of Thermodynamics (FLoT, MNb).”
          Like I wrote above this is incorrect. If the Big Bang was a probabilistic event (likely) and the total sum of energy/matter in The Universe is zero energy could be zero (very possible) before the Big Bang without violating SLoT.
          The issue is far from decided though; energy might be eternal indeed. We simply don’t know. Yet.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          If time, space, matter, etc. were created, only a supremely intelligent entity existing outside of time, space, matter, etc. could have created this.

        • JohnH2

          Again, time, space, matter/energy being created are what you have yet to show.

        • MNb

          They weren’t created, so your conclusion is wrong. They come from a quantum event; sorry for ya (well, not really), but the Universe does play dice. Exit god.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Where did the quantum event come from? I’m going to overlook your personfication of the universe and assume your dice analogy is an appeal to “chance” combinations of everything in existence being the result of “chance”.

          Roger Penrose of Oxford University calculated the odds of the low-entropy state’s existing by chance alone as roughly one in 10 to the 10(123). …talk about faith!

        • MNb

          Quantum events by definition don’t come from anywhere. They just happen. They are not caused. Example: if you consider the decay of a radioactive atom you just see that: there is no cause why it decays at moment X and not at moment Y. Same for electron-positron production.
          Roger Penrose’s calculations have been disputed by other physicists. One is Victor Stenger.

        • MNb

          Btw the dice analogy is not mine, Albert Einsteins. You may remember he was a bit smarter than you and me.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Being smarter than you or I doesn’t mean he’s right about everything.

        • MNb

          That’s correct, but if you think Albert Einstein’s analogy was wrong the burden is upon you to show why. So tell me – how do you combine a causal god with a probabilistic universe?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Uh, re-read the odds above. There’s rolling dice, then there’s a mathematical probability so incredibly slim that it goes far beyond absurd to rely on.

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

          One guy says it so therefore it’s gospel? I think that’s an Argument from Authority fallacy.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Disprove the claim if you have reason tho doubt it. Otherwise, thanks for your opinion.
          …it’s a fallacy when the authority is irrelevant to the topic.

        • MNb

          Read Victor Stenger.

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

          If you simply offer Penrose as a data point, that’s great. If you claim, as you seem to do, that this settles the matter, that’s Argument from Authority. Look it up.

        • MNb

          Uh, reread my answer to it – the calculation that lead to that mathematically probability has been disputed by physicists, amongst others by Victor Stenger.

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

          Well, there you go. If one data point is enough to prove it, as Miguel seems to imagine, then one data point is enough to disprove it.

          QED

        • Pofarmer

          So, you just gave up on man created in the image if God?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Man can create (not reproduce) man?

        • Pofarmer

          You say that any image of an immaterial entity would fall short. So, we are the image of an immaterial entity? You see, what you don’t realize, or maybe do, is that God wasn’t always thought of as this immaterial all powerful entity that is all around us. God and the Angels were thought to live in the Heavens, above the Firmament. They were as material as you and me. That’s how you Get God walking in the Garden, and talking to Cain, and wrestling with Jacob, anf appearing to Moses. God was very much thought of as material. However, as science started pushing nack religious “solutions” for the material world, then the theology had to evolve to make God a little less well, testable. You are defending arguments that failed hundreds of years ago.

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

          I wonder when the omni- attributes became attached to God, because you find few hints of that in the Bible.

          An unchangeable god who evolves with time should be enough to disprove his existence to anyone, though it doesn’t seem to work that way.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, ir seems pretty obvious that the early churches thought materiality was important. The idea that god/jesus is materially present in the eucharist is very old. It was important that God was actually there. Then you get into the hypostatic union and all that nonsense. Sometime around Aquinas, you get Aristotlean metaphysics of accidents and substance attached to it. To explain how something could appear one way materially, but actually BE something else. As our understanding of the universe changed, from the firmament, to the celestial spheres, to the milky way universe model, and finally to the idea of a nearly infinite number of universes, our understanding of God had to change, as well. And one question I really haven’t seen apologists tackle, is that if the point of the Universe is us, then why hundreds of billions of galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars with hundreds upon hundreds of billions of planets. The Ancients terrarium model seems much better suited to “goddidit” than what we actually find. Which, not surprisingly, has been the result over, and over, and over……….

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

          If we find evidence of life on other worlds, making the idea of the universe as humans’ little playground even more foolish, I suppose they’ll just adapt their unfalsifiable hypothesis and praise God. Or maybe deny it, as with evolution.

        • JohnH2

          My religion already says there is life on other worlds, and has since the 1830’s, long before it was known that there were other worlds.

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

          It’s great that JS guessed correctly, but it was just a guess.

          “The next coin flip will be heads” might be an accurate prediction, but if it is, that wasn’t a prophecy or a demonstration of clairvoyance.

          And isn’t it a dangerous game to be demanding that LDS claims be held up to science and history? Because lots of them don’t (elephants and silk in the New World, for example).

        • JohnH2

          There are multiple arguments that can be made regarding silk and elephants and whatever else in the Book of Mormon, each requiring different assumptions about the translation; just as your claim that they don’t match science and history requires a very specific view of translation.

          Did you know that there were multiple types of cloth that the Spanish called silk in the New World? Besides all the plants and animals which we call according to the names of Old World plants and animals but which have no actual relation to them. My preferred view on the subject is then that words of Old World plants and animals were assigned to plants and animals here, because even with actual contact with Old World plants and animals, Europeans still did that. Not the only explanation which possibly matches up science and history with the Book of Mormon, just one possibility.

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

          I don’t think I’ve seen many stretches more dramatic than this.

          What “assumptions about the translation”? It’s in King James English. There’s one interpretation, right?

          Why would JS use the word “silk” if he didn’t mean silk? (Or: why would God tell JS “silk” if it wasn’t really silk?) Are we to question then every single word choice in the LDS canon because the obvious meaning may not be the one JS meant—or is that kind of thinking only necessary to get you out of a bind?

          Let me propose an objective hermeneutical technique: we take the obvious reading, analyze it for craziness, and if the result looks like it was made up or was a myth or legend (or any similar category that’s not history), then we label it as such.

          That you may be desperate to hold on to your intellectual credibility as well as your faith is neither here nor there, I think you’ll agree. Your goal and mine are the same: to treat the LDS canon fairly and follow the evidence where it leads. Right?

        • JohnH2

          Assumptions as to the translation: are the words specifically ones on the plates, ones that Joseph Smith gave to ideas found on the plates, made up whole cloth from Joseph Smith, gotten using the plates as a focus by Joseph Smith, or written by some other author from that time period. What we have is similar to Kings James English, but what was on the plates was not so between what was on the plates and what we have there are choices in translation.

          Why would the Spanish call cloth from the New World ‘silk’ if they didn’t mean silk?

          If there is any reasonable explanation for the anachronisms than the Book of Mormon doesn’t at all look like a myth or legend but an actual history; There are multiple reasonable explanations for the anachronisms therefore it is reasonable to assume that one of them is correct and the Book is an actual history, though of what people and where they lived is not something that is known.

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

          “made up from whole cloth”? Yes, that certainly is a plausible candidate, but how can you be considering this option?

          You’re blurring the focus on the translation process so that you can get out of a bind, but then what does that do when it comes to an important point of doctrine? Why isn’t that subject to debate in the same way?

          Joseph Smith didn’t speak Spanish. To understand his words, we need to master the (not very difficult) task of understanding English from the 1840s. Did the dictionaries at that time include the Spanish definition of the word silk, or was “silk” a cloth made from silkworm thread, like today?

          Multiple reasonable explanations for the BoM’s errors? Tell me one. So far I’ve not heard any.

        • JohnH2

          “Multiple reasonable explanations for the BoM’s errors? Tell me one. So far I’ve not heard any.”

          You can’t be as dense as you are pretending to be in your response. Joseph Smith having a Spanish dictionary is quite irrelevant to whether or not someone from Jerusalem circa 600 BC would call different types of cloth in the Americas as silk, let alone their descendents who have the word silk but no knowledge of silk, or elephants, or whatever. Which doesn’t at all touch the question of the validity of their doctrine.

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

          You can’t be as dense as you are pretending to be in your response. Joseph Smith is reading the plates using magic from God. It doesn’t fail. It doesn’t work 97%; it works perfectly, right?

          whether or not someone from Jerusalem circa 600 BC would call different types of cloth in the Americas as silk,

          He wouldn’t have called it “silk” because he didn’t speak English! He would’ve had a Hebrew word for it, and it got written down in Reformed Egyptian on the plates, right? If there was any confusion injected by the fallible Moroni, God’s magic glasses were there to correct it.

          Wow—what part of “omnipotent” do you not understand?

          And you’re repeatedly skating over the real issue: the sloppier you want to imagine this text is so that you can dismiss the errors, the less of a foundation you have when you want to point to something that’s actually important. Can I just push and pull on the BoM to make it say whatever I want it to? That’s what you’re doing with “silk.” Where does this end?

        • JohnH2

          “He wouldn’t have called it “silk” because he didn’t speak English!”

          I don’t know how to charitably respond to that; the Spanish don’t call silk as the English word of silk, nor does anyone else. That doesn’t mean that no one else has a word for silk such that it can be applied to a different cloth. When translating then would one translate that word as silk or as something else (assuming the one translating knows the correct word to use in English for that cloth), what is the ‘perfect’ thing to do in that case? I’ll give you a hint, professional translators can’t agree on what is a ‘perfect’ translation.

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

          I have no idea what we’re talking about anymore. Let me start over with what I assume you’re saying happened.

          Smith was translating gold plates written in Reformed Egyptian using magic rocks. The magic rocks provided a perfect translation from Reformed Egyptian into (bizarrely) King James English.

          At one point, the rocks said that the next word was “silk.” Whatever the source word was in Reformed Egyptian, it either was the Egyptian word for silk or it wasn’t. If the source word was, say, “top-quality cotton,” or “velvety-soft wool,” then “silk” was the wrong word. But this is impossible, since the rocks did a perfect job in translating.

          That doesn’t mean that no one else has a word for silk such that it can be applied to a different cloth.

          Who cares? We’re talking about English here. Are you saying that Smith’s dictionary (or King James’) had multiple definitions of the word “silk”?

          When translating then would one translate that word as silk or as something else (assuming the one translating knows the correct word to use in English for that cloth), what is the ‘perfect’ thing to do in that case?

          If it’s not silk (y’know, cloth made from silkworms?), don’t use the word “silk.” If the source word means “light cloth” or “velvety cloth” or “airy cloth” or “see-through cloth” or “beautiful cloth,” then those would be the English words to use in translation.

        • JohnH2

          The source word would be silk in Reformed Egyptian, because, as with the Spaniards, applying the word silk to something that is not silk rather than making a new word is reasonable, especially if the ones doing it don’t actually know what silk is.

          If that happens, because things like that do happen, the question is what does a translator translate that as? This is assuming the translator has sufficient grasp of the language to know that is happening. I am not a seer, I don’t know how translating with a seer stone works but I do know that Joseph Smith didn’t understand the language at all but relied on the seer stones.

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

          So you’re saying that there was a word in Reformed Egyptian for silk–let’s pretend that it’s xyz. So the word “xyz” comes up, and the magic spectacles say “silk.” So Smith calls out “silk,” and the word is written down. Is that right?

          You’re imagining a problem that I’m not seeing. Seems that Smith is seeing word after word, and he calls them out. One word he reads is “silk.” Since the stones are infallible, that was a correct translation. That is, the correct translation wouldn’t have been “fine cotton” or “fluffy wool,” for example. Is that right?

        • Greg G.

          I’ll give you a hint, professional translators can’t agree on what is a ‘perfect’ translation.

          It doesn’t seem like an angel should have the limitations of professional translators.

          In Vietnamese, the same word is used for blue and green. Sometimes they add a mention of “the sky” for blue or “a leaf” for green. When something is translated to English without the qualification, the context might provide the proper color to use. Perhaps they would use “teal”.

          So if the original author didn’t have the proper word to describe something but the translator knew what the author was actually referring to and the language had a way to express it, that would be the way to go. If the original author meant chiffon but used the word for silk, it should be corrected. If an ancient person was a prefect but Greek authors used the Greek word for governor because there were no Greek words to distinguish between a Roman military governor (prefect) and a Roman civilian governor (procurator), then it would be more accurate to translate the Greek to prefect.

        • JohnH2

          That is your theory of translation, there are plenty of people that disagree with the assumptions that you have made.

          Also, it was seer stones, which if they were doing direct literal translations of the words on the page would mean that Joseph Smith wouldn’t even be aware that there was an issue; though again if he were aware of what was happening and meant it would still be reasonable to translate as silk; if not in your preferred translation methodology.

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

          And I’m still back at square 1: Smith wrote down “silk,” and you’re trying to find a reasonable way that it actually meant something besides silk. If it meant something else, then why didn’t the seer stones say that?

        • JohnH2

          You don’t know a second language do you?

          Smith wrote down silk, the word being translated say ‘xyz’ means silk, except in this case it is being applied to something that is not silk. A direct literal translation would translate it as silk. Even many translations which go for meaning over literalness would still translate it as silk.

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

          I know a little French (soie = silk).

          So the word on the plates was “xyz,” but it didn’t actually mean silk? Why not? Was it an error? Are you saying that Reformed Egyptian had too small a vocabulary to express the thoughts it was trying to? If it wasn’t silk (that is, “xyz”) then why not use other words to correctly capture what it was?

        • JohnH2

          I feel like I am trying to explain to a first grader; this really isn’t a hard concept to get.

          It meant ‘that cloth that we think is something like silk, may not actually be silk, but having never seen silk we don’t know and especially since we don’t actually speak the language we are writing in we are going to use the word for silk as the name of this cloth rather than try and create something clunky’.

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

          You’d better focus on kindergartener. This helps not a bit.

          Looks to me like you’re being obtuse to avoid responding to this issue.

          In whose head is your last paragraph? Is this the translating stones? Not possible, since you said that “xyz” was the word for “silk.” Is it Smith? Not possible, since he was merely a thoughtless scribe, just reading the words as they appeared. Is it Moroni, the author of the plates? Not possible, because he had a word for silk, “xyz.”

        • JohnH2

          The head of say Moroni since you already brought up Moroni, though Mormon would be more accurate for most of the record, as well as a collection of others authors.

          So Moroni puts ‘xyz’ which meant as I stated above ‘that cloth that we think is something like ‘xyz’, may not actually be ‘xyz’, but having never seen ‘xyz’ we don’t know, and, especially since we don’t actually speak the language we are writing in, we are going to use ‘xyz’, the word for silk, as the name of this cloth rather than try and create something clunky’ at which point translating ‘xyz’ as silk is perfectly reasonable, and examples of such translation, and reuse of names, are commonplace, for instance as with ‘pepper’ which is used both for Capsicum and Piper.

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

          So Moroni is to blame? He used the word for “silk” to refer to a silky fabric that wasn’t necessarily silk? Does the archaeological record support this claim any better than the silk claim? What could he possibly be referring to?

          If you’re saying that “xyz” meant “silk” in Reformed Egyptian but the word has drifted in the centuries these people have been in the New World so that it means something else, then the perfect seer stones should’ve translated it correctly. If “xyz” had come to mean “fine cotton cloth,” say, then that’s what Smith would’ve read.

          And this argument puts you back in the same bind that you have yet to respond to. If Moroni is now an unreliable source for something as pointless as fabric (he doesn’t properly understand what “xyz” means and uses it incorrectly), how do we trust this dude’s understanding of the serious theological issues?

        • JohnH2

          Bob,

          Moroni isn’t to blame, he is using a word that quite likely was redefined centuries prior to his writing. We also use and do such things with our own language and that was the entire point of pointing out that the Spainards called multiple fabrics in the New World with their word for silk; it isn’t that they are wrong or unreliable in doing so but using the word conveys what they mean, if not what you would like them to mean. I don’t know why you are having such a hard time with this as again, WE do this and the SPAINARDS did precisely this with precisely the same concept, and they did know what silk was. In translating a document from Spanish with this usage it is correct to translate it as silk.

          It is only unreliable because you have no idea what you are talking about and refuse to understand or see how we do exactly the same thing and this does not make us unreliable.

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

          Moroni isn’t to blame, he is using a word that quite likely was redefined centuries prior to his writing.

          Then the seer stones would’ve known what he meant and translated it appropriately. If it wasn’t silk, how did the perfect stones show the word “silk” to Joseph Smith? Had the firmware in the stones simply not been updated with the latest release?

          I don’t know why you are having such a hard time with this as again

          No, I think I understand quite well. I understand how meanings in words drift. English example: “awful” meant “full of awe” (a good thing) centuries before it meant almost the opposite today. You’re saying that words in Moroni’s Reformed Egyptian native language drifted with time. I get it.

          What you don’t seem to get is that your hypothesis now puts the blame on the stones. Moroni knew full well what he meant and he recorded it accurately, but the stones couldn’t figure it out.

          And we’re back to the elephant in the room, the topic you are afraid to address: if the stones are unreliable for accurately translating something as pointless as a fabric, how do you trust them for the really important stuff?

        • JohnH2

          Because the word was silk and the author did mean something sufficiently close to silk, as with the Spanish, that translating it as silk is correct, if not your preferred methodology of translation; both Moroni and the stones are correct, they just don’t match up with what you prefer.

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

          Nope. For “sufficiently close to silk,” you don’t use “silk.” English has lots of words that would do a better job for characterizing “not silk” than “silk.”

          Imagine a modern seer. English has the words “silk” and “rayon” for two somewhat-similar fabrics. If the fabric in question really was rayon, it would be an error for the seer stones to say “silk.”

          Yet another unanswered question that I’ll repeat for your convenience: what was this mysterious fabric that Moroni called “silk”? I don’t know what the archaeological record says about North America around 400 CE (that’s the time of the writing of the plates, right?), but I don’t know that they had any woven cloth at all. Did they? If not, what did Moroni mean by “silk”? Buckskin, maybe?

          You might say that it doesn’t much matter since words can drift a lot. Heck, maybe they did call buckskin “silk,” right?

          But then we get back to the uncomfortable point that if the fabric wasn’t silk, why the hell did the stones translate the word that way?? Your apparent conclusion is that the stones were wrong. So what else were they wrong about?

        • JohnH2

          Spun rabbit hair, silk-cotton tree fibers, Pineapple cloth, and fine cotton all existed and have all been called silk, by Europeans, previously (heck one of them still has ‘silk’ in its name (though calling it Ceiba is better in my opinion)); Yes they had woven cloth.

          The stones translated it that way because it is correct to do so, you just disagree with that method of translation.

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

          No one cares about Europeans. We’re talking about America in the 1840s. If the English of that time and place defined silk to include rabbit, pineapple, and so on, then you’re right. Is that your claim? If so, show me the evidence.

          There’s evidence of woven cloth in American in 400 CE? Show me that, too.

        • JohnH2

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

          Pineapple silk is still made and still called silk.

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

          That article tells me nothing. However, the Wikipedia article for Piña says: “Piña … is sometimes combined with silk or polyester to create a textile fabric.” (1) This requires actual silk, which we’ve agreed didn’t exist then, and (2) you’d call this “pineapple silk,” not “silk.”

          English, even in Smith’s time, was a rich language with a large vocabulary. And the translation was perfect, right?

          And keep in mind that if you show me that “silk” is the correct translation, that only allows us to move on to the other anachronisms: cattle, horses, elephants, pigs, wheat, steel, chariots, the compass, and so on that the BoM says were in North America but that archaeology says weren’t.

        • JohnH2

          The article tells you that there was woven cloth in the Americas at that time.

          It does not require actual silk to make pineapple silk. I call it pineapple silk because that is what we currently call it; previously that has not always been the case.

          1. Smith didn’t have a large vocabulary at that time and 2. the translation is perfect for Smith and for the purpose intended, not that it is a perfect translation for anyone else’s idea of what a translation should be necessarily.

          If you are actually interested you can go look up on the FAIR website as I am sure that they have people that are interested in such things and have done the research for those anachronisms. I don’t think you actually care though, you just want to be able to say that the translation must be wrong under your preferred (and idiotic) version of what a translation must be so therefore it isn’t real, regardless of anything else.

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

          The article tells you that there was woven cloth in the Americas at that time.

          I see that it says that looms were in use (1) in Central America (2) in pre-Columbian times. I didn’t see that they existed (1) in North America, where Moroni came from and (2) in 400 CE, when Moroni wrote.

          (Did you say that “Mormon” is the preferred term for “Moroni”? I can change to that if that’s better.)

          It does not require actual silk to make pineapple silk. I call it pineapple silk because that is what we currently call it

          According to Wikipedia, yes it does. If you have a better source (I didn’t try hard), let me know.

          You haven’t shown that Smith’s dictionary would have pineapple silk as one of the possible definitions of “silk.”

          I realize that this is supposed to be just an example (pineapples didn’t grow in western New York state 1600 years ago), but you’ve still not shown what “silk-like fabric” might be.

          One approach you could take is that it doesn’t much matter whether they had pineapples or looms or whatever. They had some kind of cloth, and the word “xyz” had drifted to refer to that. They might’ve had a gossamer-like fabric, or they might’ve had nothing but buckskin, but “xyz” referred to that. You still have the problem that the infallible stones gave “silk” to something that wasn’t silk. Perfect stones would’ve found a better description of this non-silk than “silk.”

          1. Smith didn’t have a large vocabulary at that time

          Could he read letters? If the word “triskaidekaphobia” popped up, couldn’t he have read out the letters and looked it up afterwards?

          2. the translation is perfect for Smith and for the purpose intended

          Perhaps this is the problem. Perhaps I misunderstand the purpose. I thought that the purpose was to convey the correct word of God (as compared to the corrupted Bible) for Smith to share with all peoples of the world. No?

          (Why is the atheist the one who sets high standards for the perfect Word of God?)

          If the purpose was to just give a clumsy hint of the message or to give Smith the excuse to build a religion around him or something similar, I could see that the standards could be much lower.

          not that it is a perfect translation for anyone else’s idea of what a translation should be necessarily.

          Are you saying that the translation was imperfect? If so, where does that leave the doctrine? Was that also conveyed imperfectly?

          Does it still feel like you’re talking to a first-grader?

          you just want to be able to say that the translation must be wrong under your preferred (and idiotic) version of what a translation must be

          Idiotic? I demand that the translation from a perfect source be as perfect as it could possibly be. I’m missing the problem (except that it steps on your theological toes—that part I get).

        • JohnH2

          Yes, it still feels like I am talking with a first grader because your demand for a perfect translation isn’t even coherent. If I translated a text for you in that way it may not be intelligible and would certainly miss a lot of the meaning. There a lots of theories of translation, very few of which remotely agree with what you demand, and you keep insisting that there is a singular perfect translation available when generally for any complex text that isn’t the case, and can’t be the case; When I say things like this though instead of dealing with the fact that you have no idea what you are talking about in terms of translation you say I am upset over theology.

          Presumably if the intent of the stones was to give a literal translations of the words on the page then Joseph Smith could have spelled out the word, which appears to have actually happened for a few words. If the intent was to get the message and doctrine across then that would not happen; in fact there are translations of the Bible for those in the South Pacific which changes talk of desert to talk of oceans, camels to boats, etc. so that rather than dealing with words that don’t really exist in that language and/or puzzling out concepts which are completely tangential to message of the text the text becomes understandable and the message clearer, if introducing complete inaccuracies per your idea of what an inaccuracy is.

          It is in many ways much easier to translate religious ideas than it is to translate details language to language; and it can be desirable, as above, to even have the details be purposefully wrong so that the religious ideas are understandable and clear. This besides the issue of repurposing words for items which are related.

          The Book of Mormon, of whom Mormon was the primary author, describes a tropical setting internally. It was buried in New York and there are and was an idea that it described people living in or around that area, or over the entire North American continent, but internal details to the Book of Mormon directly contradict that assumption. Such as taking a day to cross from one sea to another at a narrow neck of land, so forth.

          The pre-classic Maya lived from about 600 BC as being separate and independent of the Olmec to about 250 AD. They had woven garments, as did the Olmec’s previous to them.

          Also, If you wish to buy pure pineapple fabric you can do it here, the second result on Google for me when searching for Pineapple silk, meaning you really tried hard to not find out the truth, in a clear example of disconfirmation bias: http://www.dharmatrading.com/fabric/pineapple-fiber-fabrics.html
          The blending is because the fiber is expensive as it is extracted by hand.

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

          A perfect translator (like the seer stones) would make a perfect translation. If it’s not silk, why did the word “silk” come up?

          There a lots of theories of translation, very few of which remotely agree with what you demand, and you keep insisting that there is a singular perfect translation available when generally for any complex text that isn’t the case

          Complex text? I’m talking about the fucking word silk. A perfect translation wouldn’t say “silk” if it didn’t refer to, y’know, silk.

          you have no idea what you are talking about in terms of translation

          Then you’re doing a terrible job of explaining it to me. How hard can this be? If not-silk got translated into “silk,” then either Moroni or the stones made a mistake.

          If the intent was to get the message and doctrine across then that would not happen

          We’re just talking about the perfect seer stones here. Were they accurate about the doctrine? Then why not about the mundane stuff?

          there are translations of the Bible for those in the South Pacific which changes talk of desert to talk of oceans, camels to boats, etc.

          so that rather than dealing with words that don’t really exist in that language and/or puzzling out concepts which are completely tangential to message of the text the text becomes understandable and the message clearer, if introducing complete inaccuracies per your idea of what an inaccuracy is.
          It is in many ways much easier to translate religious ideas than it is to translate details language to language; and it can be desirable, as above, to even have the details be purposefully wrong so that the religious ideas are understandable and clear. This besides the issue of repurposing words for items which are related.
          The Book of Mormon, of whom Mormon was the primary author, describes a tropical setting internally. It was buried in New York and there are and was an idea that it described people living in or around that area, or over the entire North American continent, but internal details to the Book of Mormon directly contradict that assumption. Such as taking a day to cross from one sea to another at a na rrow nec k of land, so forth.
          The pre-classic Maya lived from about 600 BC as being separate and independent of the Olmec to about 250 AD. They had woven garments, as did the Olmec’s previous to them.

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

          A perfect translator (like the seer stones) would make a perfect translation. If it’s not silk, why did the word “silk” come up?

          There a lots of theories of translation, very few of which remotely agree with what you demand, and you keep insisting that there is a singular perfect translation available when generally for any complex text that isn’t the case

          Complex text? I’m talking about the fucking word silk. A perfect translation wouldn’t say “silk” if it didn’t refer to, y’know, silk.

          you have no idea what you are talking about in terms of translation

          Then you’re doing a terrible job of explaining it to me. How hard can this be? If not-silk got translated into “silk,” then either Moroni or the stones made a mistake.

          If the intent was to get the message and doctrine across then that would not happen

          We’re just talking about the perfect seer stones here. Were they accurate about the doctrine? Then why not about the mundane stuff?

          there are translations of the Bible for those in the South Pacific which changes talk of desert to talk of oceans, camels to boats, etc.

          There’s nothing tricky here. English had the word “silk,” and it was well understood by Smith.

          The Book of Mormon, of whom Mormon was the primary author, describes a tropical setting internally.

          The interesting quote from Ether 9 is: “They became exceedingly rich—having all manner of fruit, and of grain, and of silks, and of fine linen, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things; and also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man. And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants.”

          We’re talking about North America at this point, right? This is where the silk reference comes from (as you know).

          The pre-classic Maya lived from about 600 BC as being separate and independent of the Olmec to about 250 AD. They had woven garments, as did the Olmec’s previous to them.

          Did they have woven garments in New York in 400 CE? That’s the claim you’re making.

        • JohnH2

          Where does New York even enter the picture?

          I see no indication that we are talking about North America further north than Texas.

          The interesting thing about Ether 9 is that it is a triple translation of a text. Meaning there are multiple chances for the repurposing of words involved. For all we know the listing of animals could have come from Mosiah’s translation.

          And there are clear examples of the usage of silk in english to mean other than silk from a silkworm, as already covered.

          Yes they were accurate about the doctrine, whether they are accurate about mundane stuff is, as I have said, completely irrelevant to various theories of translation. I think they were more accurate about the mundane stuff than that; I think this is the reuse of words in a language.

          If Moroni had a cloth which he called silk his entire life, which we may possibly also call silk or others similar to us speaking our language have in the past called it silk, and he writes the word which is the correct word for silk down then translating it as silk is completely correct.

          As in, we call ‘Pepper’ both Black Pepper and Jalapenos and they are less similar than pineapple silk and silk.

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

          I was coming from the standpoint of Moroni. I see your point—the issue is the early Jews and where they landed.

          Meaning there are multiple chances for the repurposing of words involved. For all we know the listing of animals could have come from Mosiah’s translation.

          Any argument by which you can handwave away an error is just another door through which doctrinal errors could enter.

          And there are clear examples of the usage of silk in english to mean other than silk from a silkworm, as already covered.

          I remember “pineapple silk,” which would’ve been translated as “pineapple silk,” not “silk.” I suspect that anything else that’s not silk would’ve also not been translated as “silk.”

          Your continued tap dancing isn’t working. Show me that the dictionary of 1840 had a definition of “silk” such as, “any fabric made from silkworm thread, or any similar fabric made from plant fibers such as pineapple, cotton, or jute” and you win. (And then we turn the conversation to the other anachronisms. I’m eager to get to “elephant.”)

          Note that that’s not what the dictionary says today. Maybe Smith’s dictionary did say this, but you have yet to show this.

          Yes they were accurate about the doctrine

          How do you know? You admit that you’ve got a process that lets in all sorts of errors. I don’t much care the stories you tell yourself so you can sleep at night, and we’ve spent far too much time on this as it is. The point is, you have an admittedly error-prone process. How will this convey matters of doctrine that must be precisely correct?

          I think they were more accurate about the mundane stuff

          Why? Words are words. The seer stones are perfect. They translated every single word to the best possible English word or phrase. Why admit errors for mundane stuff but not for doctrine?

          If Moroni had a cloth which he called silk his entire life, which we may possibly also call silk or others similar to us speaking our language have in the past called it silk, and he writes the word which is the correct word for silk down then translating it as silk is completely correct.

          No, if it’s not silk, we wouldn’t call it silk. “Downy fabric” or “gossamer fabric” or “cotton fabric” are some of many phrases that might be used to accurately describe a fabric that is not silk.

          we call ‘Pepper’ both Black Pepper and Jalapenos and they are less similar than pineapple silk and silk.

          I agree—“pepper” by itself is ambiguous. Black pepper, jalapeno pepper, bell pepper are all very different things. And if the seer stones were translating “pepper,” I’m sure that it would’ve added the appropriate disambiguating qualifiers.

        • Pofarmer

          You know that story about wrestling with a pig?

        • JohnH2

          “wrestling with a pig”
          What is funny is that I have two friends who are linguists and they said exactly that.

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

          I don’t know if John has wrapped himself up in his argument so that he can’t see straight or if he actually believes it or if there’s a point that he simply can’t convey.

          I think he’s afraid of addressing the issue that if there’s an error at any point along the way–Moroni, the stones, whatever–that that calls into question the entire theology.

          He admits that an error was made with “silk” (and all the other historical anachronisms); what does that say about the overall reliability of the book?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i prefer the ‘playing chess with a pigeon’ version.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Have you ever done a book report on something [putatively] nonfictional by L. Ron Hubbard?

        • JohnH2

          I have the feeling that you have never read either the Book of Mormon or anything from L. Ron Hubbard (The Way to Happiness, Dianetics) to be comparing the two in such a way.

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

          He may be suggesting that the two were made up. That’s certainly where the evidence points IMO.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i primarily think of each instance as peculiarly USAmerican demonstrations of how to carve out a hefty portion of the Seekers of society.

        • TheNuszAbides

          interesting that you choose to infer any particular ‘way’ of comparison
          that i am supposedly engaging in.
          and your feeling as to what i have read
          is entirely inaccurate on both counts.
          now, would you care to establish that you weren’t actively avoiding the question?

        • JohnH2

          I assumed that you were intelligent enough to pick up that my response was an affirmative to your question, I am sorry to have misjudged your intelligence and honesty.

        • TheNuszAbides

          so my [‘way’ of] asking the question implicates my ignorance, and your dropping two titles by way of not actually answering it is supposed to establish your review cred? yep, that’s what assumption’ll get you, smart guy.

        • JohnH2

          Apparently. If you have anything actually interesting to say, let me know.

        • Pofarmer

          You are deep in your delusion for an otherwise reasonable guy. Seer stones are woo. The folden plates are woo.

        • hector_jones

          That impresses you? You do realize that we had discovered other planets well before the 1830s, right? So no, your religion didn’t say there was life on other worlds ‘long before it was known that there were other worlds.’ It said it after it was known that there were other worlds.

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

          In fact, Kepler mapped the 5 extraterrestrial planets known in his day to the 5 Platonic solids in the 16th century. (The guy was smart but still a product of his times.)

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Your worldview obligates you to refer to this as attributed to science. I better understand it as dispensationalism.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. My worldview doesn’t “obligate” me to anything, other than following the evidence where it leads.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I guess if you can’t be honest with yourself, I can’t expect you to be honest with me.

        • MNb

          “I could be wrong”
          You are. What you write about the 2nd LoT only points at your ignorance regarding physics.
          Mathematics doesn’t exist in the necessity of its own nature; it’s a language developed by humans enabling them to do calculations.

          “If we agree …”
          If.

          “any attempt at an image or likeness of an immaterial entity would logically fall short”
          It does, exactly because it leads to inconsistencies, incoherence and lack of meaning. That’s exactly why I’m a 7 on the scale of Dawkins. What you write here is that the only justifiable form of belief is Kierkegaardian – relying on faith despite of everything. That’s OK with me, but then you can throw your Cosmological Argument (and all others) out of the window.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I think I get it now. Man created math and the only way to know anything is to know it with 100% certainty. That’s ok with me, but being that we know very very little with 100% certainty, you’re relying on faith that the Cosmological Argument is wrong and that Dawkins is correct.

        • MNb

          You think wrongly again, though you started off well.

          “Man created math”
          Yup.

          “the only way to know anything is to know it with 100% certainty.”
          Nope. I never claimed that. We can know with 100% certainty that things are wrong though. For instance I’m 100% sure that Obama is not the President of The Netherlands.

          “you’re relying on faith that the Cosmological Argument is wrong”
          Nope. No faith needed. What I know for sure is, for the reasons I gave before, that the CA totally fails as an argument for god, especially yours. I don’t know for sure at all that the objections I raised prove there is no god; I never claimed that. These objections are not the reason that I call myself a 7 on the scale of Dawkins. They are only good for a 5,5 at the very max. As far as I remember I never told you why I call myself a 7. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t; at the moment I don’t feel like. But you might find the reasons if you do a thorough search on this site.
          Moreover I don’t need Dawkins to back up my position. I don’t take my arguments from him. Long before I even heard his name I already was an atheist and he hasn’t had any influence on my position.

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

          And you’re relying on faith that pixies don’t exist? That’s not the way I approach the evidence and the burden of proof, and I doubt that you do, either.

          Let’s not imagine a special set of criteria for Christianity but apply a consistent set against all supernatural claims.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Pixies… I don’t believe in them because I have yet to see or read of any affirmative evidence that they exist. I don’t feel I can say with absolute certainty that they don’t exist, but I can say I don’t believe because I haven’t come across any convincing affirmative evidence that they do. It’s the same criteria.

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

          Yes, that’s pretty much the same respond I would make about pixies.

          Truth is, there is evidence of pixies. And gnomes and fairies. You remember the Cottingly fairies? There were five photos from that. You remember the book Gnomes from 1977? Lots of drawings and descriptions in that. And, to your point, there’s evidence for the Christian god.

          The first example looks like a hoax, the second like fiction, and the third like myth. To your point, the third example has many followers (plus many more who think it’s crap), while very few believe in fairies and gnomes, but I think you’ll also agree that we shouldn’t decide truth in this kind of matter based on public acclamation. (If Christianity were true because it were popular, the same argument would hold for Islam.)

          There is evidence for fairies, just not compelling evidence. Same for religion.

        • Pofarmer

          It must be really handy ti just define your argument into existence.

        • Ron

          that cause must be a transcendent entity, existing outside of time, space, and matter. Coincidentally, these are also qualities of God.

          Not necessarily. There could be many gods. And these are also the qualities of the FSM, fairies, elves, pixies, sprites, ghosts, spooklies, etc.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Uh, yeah, necessarily. We can postulate many Gods, but it goes against logic. (when you don’t have a strong point, reference pixies and fairies – it makes you look really smart)

        • MNb

          Many gods go as much against logic as does one god for exactly the same reasons.

        • Greg G.

          But saying there is one god, plus angels, Satan, demons, cherubim, and what-have-you isn’t different than pixies and fairies. That’s the point of referencing fairies and pixies, thay are as logical as your belief system yet completely absurd. That is using reductio ad absurdum to show a fallacy exists.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          So, you’re saying any supernatural entity must be God, or a God. That ain’t right.

        • Greg G.

          It’s polytheism. The Greek gods were not omnipotent but they were still called gods. Satan is credited by Christians with more powers than the Greek gods were credited with by the Greeks.

          To my mind, we would not be justified in calling Zeus an actual god if he existed because there could be a god a million times more powerful who hides from the Pantheon for ineffable reasons. We couldn’t call that one a god either because there could be one a million times more powerful, and so on. So, we can only justify calling an omnipotent being a god.

          But Megazeus could give an ordinary person or a mollusc the delusion of being omnipotent. So a being that thought it was omnipotent wouldn’t be able to tell if they were perfectly omnipotent or perfectly deluded into thinking they were omnipotent. Without the power to distinguish its own nature, it would not be omnipotent, so we would not be justified in calling it a god.

          Besides, when God says “There is no god besides me”, he is being an atheist. You should be more god-like.

        • MNb

          “There needs to be an explanation of the universe’s existence.”
          Nice how you a priori rule out the option that that explanation is totally material. People who study the subject – ie modern physicists – disagree. I tend to assume they know better what they are talking about than you. Now almost all cosmologists happen to be atheists. So it’s not as easy as you seem to think.

          http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/nd-paper/

          “If we admit that ….”
          If.

          “cause must be a transcendent entity”
          That’s a non-sequitur based on the false assumption of causality, an assumption that goes directly against Modern Physics. Six words, three big mistakes, because you don’t have made clear either why – if I grant you all the previous points – why there must be one and only one transcendent entity. I already told you that there are about 30 natural constants; according to your logic that points at about 30 First Causes, ie polytheism. Polytheism btw also would solve your problem of conflicting with Modern Physics; no form of polytheism has any problem with probabilism in physics. Of course you ignore this, dishonest as you are.
          Finally you haven’t told us yet how your god (and polytheism has the same problem) pulled it off. As long as you don’t your entire belief system, including your cosmological argument, is meaningless. “God created the entire shenanigan” is as empty a statement as “The chair I sit on loves me” or “this circle is square”.
          That’s double dishonesty, because I already told you as well.

          “I don’t believe energy to be eternal.”
          Irrelevant. The total amount of matter/energy in our Universe is likely zero. The Big Bang is likely a quantum ie probabilistic event. Exit god.

        • JohnH2

          “Exit god.” – Not at all, not even from better forms of the argument; but from the formulation of this one that would be correct.

          “God created the entire shenanigan” is as empty a statement” – As empty a scientific statement, but if the point of the statement isn’t science but morality or even just theology then the statement is not empty. Many arguments against the existence of God presuppose the moral nature of this statement, such as the argument from evil, without requiring any knowledge of how God is responsible for the whole shenanigan.

          The Carroll article demonstrates conclusively that cosmologists are not philosophers and don’t know what they are talking about when they move to philosophy. It otherwise doesn’t demonstrate what it claims to; I particularly love his claim that moving religion close to moral philosophy is a redefinition of religion; if it is than that redefinition includes nearly all of the major world religions and has been dominate for close to the past ~2600 years (among religious leaders and theologians).

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

          The Carroll article demonstrates conclusively that cosmologists are not philosophers and don’t know what they are talking about when they move to philosophy.

          That’s debatable–I think Alvin Plantinga was the one who said that philosophy was simply thinking hard about a problem–but let’s assume you’re right. Who cares? If we’re talking about the origin of the universe, for example, we turn to cosmologists. Philosophers have no track record here; cosmologists are another story.

        • MNb

          “Not at all, not even from better forms of the argument”
          Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but theories that describe the Big Bang as a probabilistic event aren’t arguments – they are scientific theories (or hypotheses if you prefer) backed up by empirical data. So your remark is a bit silly. These theories of the Big Bang do not require a First Cause; they do not require any cause at all. And that means exit god as the First Cause of the entire shenanigan.
          What’s more, all versions of monotheism with the exception of The Flying Spaghetti Monster postulate god as a causal concept. That’s what the very word creation means: a causal act. This postulation rejects probabilism. Like Einstein famously wrote: “God doesn’t play dice”. Unfortunately the Universe does.

          “As empty a scientific statement”
          The Big Bang, ie the origin of our Universe belongs to the domain of Modern Physics, more specifically Cosmology. Hence a scientific statement is all you need. Or are you going the Edward Feser way, defending Aristotelian Mechanics as philosophy despite science having thrown it out of the window at least 3 centuries ago?

          “cosmologists are not philosophers”
          Agreed. Point is that they don’t need to. Physicists don’t need to be philosophers anymore either to talk about time, space and movement. Carroll didn’t need to be a philosopher to tear Craig apart in that debate a few months ago; he only needed to know his science. Sorry, John: whenever philosophy/theology conflicts with science the latter wins. Period.

          “Many arguments against the existence of God presuppose the moral nature of this statement”
          Correct, but not the First Cause Argument. That’s a statement pro god that’s based on several assumptions that contradict Modern Physics. Hence no proper discussion about the First Cause Argument has anything to do with morals. You’re right, but also irrelevant.

        • JohnH2

          First Cause arguments don’t require a finite chain of causes but can deal with the cause of an infinite chain of causes. Saying that the First Cause does or does not appear on a finite or infinite chain of causes is to ignore what the First Cause arguments are actually discussing. This isn’t that I agree with them, just pointing that out.

          Saying the Big Bang is the origin of the Universe is to ignore the distinction in the term universe as used in philosophical contexts vs. physics contexts.

          Aristotelian mechanics are not relevant, Aristotelian metaphysics though may still be relevant, I disagree with it, but Aristotle being wrong about mechanics doesn’t disprove his metaphysics, that requires further argument, and some of it is actually correct in the sense that science uses it implicitly.

          Again, First Cause arguments can’t conflict with science, except for very particular ones like the Kalam Cosmological argument. They are asking and addressing very different questions than what science is, and this is not that I agree with them.

          When a philosopher makes scientific claims the scientist will always win the debate, when a scientist makes philosophical claims they have generally lost the debate before it started as they don’t even know what they are claiming.

        • MNb

          Ah, you try to beat science with philosophy and thus head for failure.
          A First Cause is by definition the first link of a chain of cause and effect. Hence the First Cause Argument requires finity.

          “to ignore what the First Cause arguments are actually discussing”
          Bullocks. Even Aristoteles postulated his Unmoved Mover as the first link of a finite chain.

          “Saying the Big Bang is the origin of the Universe”
          I’m not saying that the Big Bang is the origin of the Universe. Either you’re dishonest (given your intelligence I don’t rule it out) or you don’t understand what the Big Bang is: a historical event.

          “the distinction in the term universe as used in philosophical contexts vs. physics contexts.”
          Too bad for philosophy. The Universe has been drawn into the domain of Modern Physics hence philosophy must shut up unless on one condition and one condition only: it must accept as premisses what science postulates. The big fun is of course that Modern Physics hasn’t decided yet, but it’s safe to assume that causality doesn’t play any role. That kills off all First Cause arguments.

          “First Cause arguments can’t conflict with science”
          As soon as First Cause arguments make a claim about our Universe they do, simply because they postulate causality (by definition) and Modern Physics postulates probability. As soon as First Cause arguments refrain making claims about our Universe they become as irrelevant as

          http://www.timecube.com/

          “when a scientist makes philosophical claims they have generally lost the debate before it started as they don’t even know what they are claiming.”
          Like I wrote – the things First Cause arguments talk about – notably causality – totally belong to the domain of physics. What philosophy has to say about it is irrelevant as soon as it contradicts physics.

        • JohnH2

          Sorry, but you have First Cause wrong, Aquinas formulates his off of an eternal universe and only thought the universe was finite due to his reading of scripture.

          Somebody is inconsistent here and it isn’t me:
          “The Big Bang, ie the origin of our Universe” vs. “I’m not saying that the Big Bang is the origin of the Universe. “

        • MNb

          I wrote about your inconsistencies above.
          Sorry about my sloppy wording; that’s inconsistent indeed. My point is just that the Big Bang didn’t cause the Universe, nothing more. It’s a historical event with which our Universe (perhaps more) was brought into existence – the first thing that happened in our Universe. I hope I’m totally clear now.
          My main point thus stands: if Modern Science says that our Universe is probabilistic and philosophy argues for causality then either philosophy loses or it talks about a universe that bears no relevance to us, because it’s nothing but a thought construct without any relation to our Universe.

          Later addition: I now realize that the word origin can have two meanings.
          1. The mathematical meaning, in coordinate systems, is just a point. When I wrote “the Big Bang is the origin of the Universe” I had that meaning in mind.
          2. The theological meaning is “where it all comes from”, which presupposes causality. Understood this way the Big Bang is not the origin of the Universe.

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

          What debate? You mean a debate about science? I’m pretty sure the philosopher will always lose.

        • Pofarmer

          what part of aristotlean metaphysics does science use implicitly?

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          If we admit that time, space, and matter are not eternal and have a beginning/cause, that cause must be a transcendent entity, existing outside of time, space, and matter.

          The problem is that it’s only through a process of research that we can identify, for instance, atmospheric polarity, temperature, and moisture as the cause producing the effect of rain. Our experience of time, space, and matter being created is so limited that any pronouncements about the cause of such a literally universal effect are as presumptuous and speculative as to be meaningless.

        • Greg G.

          If you think cosmological arguments are reasonable, then i don’t think you have any pearls to cast.

          There is more than one cosmological argument. There is more than one version of Christianity. Beliefs vary greatly. That’s why there are 43,000 known denominations.

          Cosmological arguments and such are for supporting faith against doubts, not for becoming a believer.

          Please tells us what you believe and why. Every time I hear a Christian say they believe what most Christians believe, it turns out they don’t know what most Christians believe, only what their denomination believes.

          No need to be coy and play your hand so close to the vest. We can save a lot of time by not arguing things we already agree on.

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

          What a coincidence! I’ve found it to be quite weak.

          I’ve written some on that here and here.

          In short, the “whatever begins to exist has a cause” is simply wrong, as quantum physics will tell you.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Yeah, some people put a lot of stock into quantum physics. I’ll check out the links when I get a chance. I’m always interested in different perspectives.

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

          Since cosmology and quantum physics are intimately tied (the Big Bang was presumably a quantum event), perhaps you can understand why some people do indeed “put a lot of stock into quantum physics.”

          A cosmological argument can’t be naive about quantum physics, and Craig’s hilariously fails right out of the gate.

        • Greg G.

          The quality of your evidence and the strength of your arguments are more important than what your name is when seeking truth and exposing falsehood.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Agreed. That’s how i approach gospel authorship.

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

          Tell us more. Who wrote the gospels, and why do you say that?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I’m not too sure who authored the Bible. Luckily the authorship of the NT isn’t crucial to it’s historicity and reliability.

        • Greg G.

          Various scholars have traced parts of Mark to the most popular Jewish, Greek, and Christian writings of the day. Taken together, there isn’t enough left to call historical or reliable as the remainder basically is just to stitch the seams. The other gospels show dependence on Mark that undermines their own historicity. John draws on Markan fiction, too, but contains other signs of ahistoricity, as most of chapter 3 could only be a Greek conversation, which seems unlikely between Jesus and a Pharisee.

          Extrabiblical evidence is too late to exclude Markan influence so it’s not reliable. That leaves the early epistles, which don’t mention a teaching, preaching Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          now hold on. You takenthe NT Gospels. You have four explicitely different birth accounts, you have four explicitely different crucifixion and ressurection accounts, which Mark never originally had at all. You have Paul, who has quite a different take and story than the Gospels. You have the forst Gospel Mark, believed to have been written in Rome, quite some distance from Palestine, in Greek, and 30-60 years after the supposed events, and yes, all this is crucial the historicity and reliability of the NT, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s before you get into apocrypha, amd early christianity, and marcionism, and, and.

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

          That’s a rather bold and surprising statement.

          Whether Paul wrote the pastoral epistles doesn’t much matter? Whether the same John wrote John and Revelation doesn’t much matter? Whether Matthew was written by an eyewitness or not doesn’t matter?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Indeed. Call him Mark, Benjamin, etc., so long as the written material is historical and reliable the author’s name isn’t crucial.

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

          We’re on the same page about the anonymous nature of the gospels. That’s something. Nevertheless, I’m surprised how easily you give up any claim to knowing who the hell the author is. Yes, the real question is how reliable the claim of historicity is, but a major factor (for many people, anyway) is knowing details about the author.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          If the information is accurate, how important is the author’s correct name or identity?

        • Greg G.

          The Gospel of Mark is based on Greek literature, Jewish literature, and Christian literature. Various scholars have pointed out the passages. The author blended the sources masterfully but when the passages drawn from other literature that was not about Jesus is removed as unreliable and ahistorical, there’s nothing left.

          The other gospels rely on Markan fiction so they aren’t reliable either.

        • MNb

          Researching the credentials of the authors is one way to determine credibility. You just have admitted that’s not possible in case of the Gospels. Now you have to tell us how you do. I can think of a few methods, but given your unsympathetic entrance I don’t feel like helping you out.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          It may be one way, but surely isn’t the only way, and isn’t really the best way. Your comment assumes honest men never lie and liars never tell the truth. That ain’t right.

        • MNb

          My comment assumes nothing, but just points out a common method used by historians of Antiquity. You’re silly.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Agreed. I take the same approach to gospel authorship.

        • Greg G.

          Where does that approach lead you? Do you follow traditional church teachings from 19 centuries ago or do you take a modern approach?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          The essentials of christianity haven’t changed.

        • Greg G.

          Define “essentials”. Origen was an important figure in the late second century but was declared a heretic a few centuries later. Embarrassment is an excuse to assume the reliability of the gospels but the differences between gospels could be explained by changes in the essence of Christianity in that short amount of time. The book of James seems to be a direct refutation of Galatians. Galatians seems to be a refutation of the circumcision faction, as Paul calls James and his cohorts.

          It’s been a series of reformations ever since.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Yeah, it’s easy to draw big conclusions from things that appear to contradict each other. Either way, things such as circumcision aren’t ‘essential’ to the Christian beliefs. A quick Google search should yield a handful of lists of the “essentials” of Christianity (Nicean creed).

        • Greg G.

          So you accept Paul’s position on circumcision and reject James.

          I’m aware of the Nicene Creed. Not all Christians follow it.

          What do you believe and why do you believe it?

          You mentioned the reliability and historicity of the gospels. Scholars don’t think they are reliable or historical. What is your approach?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Personally, I’m not too interested in anyone’s position on circumcision. I believe the Bible is inerrant. Why? There’s an interesting article above about why.

          “Scholars don’t think they are reliable or historical.”
          – Some don’t, some do. My approach sides with those who think they are. Let me guess yours…

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

          What article?

          You say the gospels are reliable and historical? Give us the evidence. You can search here for my contrary opinions.

        • Pofarmer

          Unfortunately, all the ones who side with you, also happen to be christians. Show me a non christian scholar who supports your claims.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Yes, and in a strange turn of events, most atheists support the claim that there is no God. Funny how that works out.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm. Historians can pretty much agree on say, the miracles of Alexander the Great, Ceasar Augustus, and Kim Jung Il, no matter what there religion. That this does not hold true for a figure like Jesus should give one pause.i

        • Miguel de la Pena

          The idea that people see things differently, historians included, also gives me pause.

        • Pofarmer

          Why? People questioning is how we progress.

        • Greg G.

          That is false. Few atheists support the claim that there is no god. Atheists don’t believe there is a god but that is not the same as saying there is no god. I don’t believe I will win the lottery in the near future but I can’t say that I won’t win it either.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Bending over backwards there huh? It’s false that most atheists support the claim that there is no God…. riiiiiiight.

        • Greg G.

          What is so hard about that? Having no belief in something is not the same as believing something doesn’t exist. Most atheists are weak atheists who do not claim there is no god but they don’t believe there is one. Strong atheists believe there is no god. The sentence structure is important as it makes a significant difference in the meaning conveyed.

        • hector_jones

          These days I consider myself a strong atheist. There is no evidence of a god or gods and the people who believe there is rely on speculations of anonymous ancient authors who knew even less about physical reality than we do, or on personal ‘mystical’ experiences that are no different from a million other ridiculous claims that believers themselves would reject.

          Yes there could be some entity out there somewhere that bears some resemblance to what people like to call gods, but I don’t have any reason to believe that any of my fellow human beings have or ever have had any sort of knowledge about or communication with such beings, so I feel no need to hedge in discussions with true believers by conceding there’s any chance they are right.

          God-belief is just speculation and guess work based on wishful thinking and arguments from ignorance. It is not based on reason or knowledge.

        • MNb

          Then I’m even a stronger atheist. I don’t see how “there could be some entity out there somewhere that bears some resemblance to what people like to call gods.” Of course I will change my mind as soon as I’m congronted with new relevant information.
          God-belief is meaningless.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “… no different from a million other ridiculous claims that believers themselves would reject.”

          true in various instances, but not largely accurate, imo. the strength of charismatic movements, vastly embellished storytelling, etc. is in resonance and persuasion and powerful imagery. not every believer is [brow]beaten or otherwise overtly coerced into their belief (though i’d agree that resistance to examination/heresy/etc. is invariably based on fear/dissonance).

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’d almost say it’s not the fault of others that you can’t or won’t wrap your head around the difference between nonbelief and disbelief, but it’s of course entirely possible one or more (or all) of your teachers were critically limited or corrupt in some way.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          You’re cool! Very insightful and unbiased comment.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he could pull Reza Aslan out or something… but then the ‘conflict of interest’ since his wife is apparently Christian is a whole other ball of wax… odd how these ‘people of the book’ can occasionally look out for each other! 😉

        • Greg G.

          Some of the earliest Christian leader thought circumcision was an essential.

          Many who insist that the Bible is inerrant don’t always agree with one another. They each believe their interpretation of the Bible is inerrant. What good is an inerrant Bible if interpretation is fallible? The Bible never had a reliable means of reproduction so it’s meaningless to say the original version of each book was inerrant.

          But there are contradictory claims you need apologetics for. That’s one area of unreliability. Archaeology doesn’t support biblical claims. That’s more unreliability. The Gospels have Jesus repeating deeds of fiction from other literature. That’s more unreliability.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Thank you for sharing your opinion. There are, however, scholars who have sound reason and evidence to disagree with you; I’m siding with them.

        • Greg G.

          There are, however, scholars who have sound reason and evidence to disagree with you; I’m siding with them.

          Some scholars give the illusion of having sound reason and evidence. What sound reasons and evidence do you find compelling.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Ha! Yeah… it’s an illusion if somebody sees something differently! Wow.

        • Greg G.

          You said they had sound reason and evidence. I have seen the claim before but have never been presented with sound reason or unambiguous evidence. You could have refuted my statement by presenting some. I’m sorry that I mis-punctuated my question but I did ask for it. Your failure to present it reinforces my contention.

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

          What amazes me is the fundamental concept of the Trinity being developed and finally solidified in several councils beginning with the Council of Nicaea in 325.

          Essential today, but not present in the mind of Paul or Jesus (or at least too unimportant for them to mention).

        • TheNuszAbides

          the essentials of being a decent, thinking fellow human haven’t really changed ‘either’ (that’s charitably taking your assertion as a given, even though it’s either pointlessly vague or highly dubious). they’ve just become slightly easier to suss out as more social animals have realized that hypertribalism and kowtowing to warlords are objectively shitty ideas.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Big words! You must know what you’re taking about!

        • MNb

          Oh, if you are interested I can provide you my personal data. MNb stands for Mark Nieuweboer; I live in Moengo, Suriname.
          So that’s the end of my anonymity.
          I agree completely with Greg.
          Now what?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Wow, that was very courageous! You are a brave one.

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

          To do what? To give a name?

          You gave a name. Is that your real name?

          I’m pretty sure that no one but you finds this topic interesting. How about moving back to discussing arguments for and against Christianity?

        • MNb

          How do you mean “moving back”? He never started there. Mark my words, he never will provide any argument.

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

          Dang it–stop crushing my hopes! I’m certain that eventually a Christian will come along and provide thoughtful critiques of what we talk about here.

        • Norm Donnan

          Oh Bob did you forget me,lol. I give “thoughtful critique”, its just that it goes over your head.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Yes, so uninteresting that you had to comment.

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

          … and I await an interesting conversation, now that we’ve gotten the name-calling out of the way.

        • Greg G.

          We would like to hear what you believe and why you believe it. I don’t mean about The Wizard of Oz either.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          You know what i believe and why. Instead of throwing pearls to pigs, I’d rather hear your take on the Cosmological argument. If you find fault with any of the premises,I’d love to hear why.

        • MNb

          We have a guess what you believe, but so far you haven’t told us why.
          My take on the Cosmological Argument: it totally fails.

          “If you find fault”

          1. Prove causality; Modern Physics postulates probabilism.
          2. If you can prove causality, prove linearity; the Universe might be circular, ie the First Cause coincides with the Last Effect.
          3. If you can prove causality and linearity, prove finity; the Universe might be infinite in time.
          4. If you can prove causality, linearity and finity: prove there is only one First Cause. There are about 30 natural constants that need a First cause; hence the Cosmological Argument rather argues for polytheism.
          5. If you can prove all that prove that the First Cause must be an immaterial being.
          6. If you can prove all that tell us how that immaterial being pulled it off and which means he used.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          A total failure of the Cosmological Argument would mean each premise fails… unless you’re willing to argue that (1) there is no explanation of the existence of the universe, I’d say you simply don’t agree with it. (I’m referencing Craig’s version of Leibniz’s argument)

          1. Modern physics also postulates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

          2. Linearity – Saying the universe “might be” circular seems to defy modern physics (see above). Further, there’s no reasonable evidence to that leads us to believe linearity is ‘probably’ the best answer.

          3. Finity – the present. Also, the universe “might be” infinite in time but I don’t know of any logical or scientific reason as to why this could be the case.

          4. One First Cause – considering the qualities required of a First Cause, an infinite number of First Causes doesn’t work out logically.

          5. To create material, an entity must exist outside of material.

          6. How God did it all? Good question.

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

          A total failure of the Cosmological Argument would mean each premise fails

          You can define things that way. I don’t.

          One premise wrong? I’m happy to say that the argument
          totally fails. (But you’re not trying to move the goalposts, are you? So that you can save some face by having only some of the premises defeated?)

        • Miguel de la Pena

          If only one premise is wrong, the whole thing falls apart. If you’re looking for some failure of logic, you may want to check out “the central argument” from Dawkins’ God Delusion. It’s literally embarrassing to read someone as ‘smart’ as he is putting together a line of logic so poorly.

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

          Yet another change in subject, but OK. Summarize this argument and tell me what the problem is.

        • MNb

          Well, if I can afford to disagree with the premises of the Cosmological Argument then that Argument is just an opinion; it proves nothing.

          1. Irrelevant. The scenario’s I described – which are simplified versions of what cosmologists (ie physicists) do these days, don’t contradict the 2nd Law of TD.
          2. There is no reason why a Circular Universe contradicts Modern Physics. This is just your lack of imagination; Stephen Hawking describes it in A Brief History of Time. He knows a bit more of physics than you and me.
          3. There is no reason why the Universe might be finite in time either. That’s the point.
          4. That’s defining a First Cause into existence. It doesn’t work that way. Moreover I gave about 30 First Causes as another option, not an infite number.
          5. This again runs into the objection that Modern Physics is probabilistic, not causal – my main point, which you neglect. Electron-positron production is an example of “creating” material without an entity existing outside of that material. You’re anti-science.
          6. Until you provide an answer your entire belief system is meaningless.

          Total failure indeed.

        • Greg G.

          You opened by tacitly calling the regulars here “heartless tin men”, complain when someone explicitly calls you a name, and now call us pigs. This looks like the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

          I assume you refer to the Kalam, more specifically Craig’s version. Nobody has ever become religious because of this argument. It’s what people turn to once they realize their initial reasons for accepting religion are insufficient.

          The cause and effect concept assumes the pre-existence of time. A cause acting on nothing yields no effect. All we know from casual observation is that a cause acting on pre-existing objects can have the effect of creating new forms and functions. It is a non sequitur to conclude that the matter itself can be caused to exist.

          Alan Guth’s model shows that matter/energy and space/time could be opposite components so the net expenditure is zero and cause – effect vs. time problem disappears because it’s all self-caused with time itself being created.

          The need for God is poofed away by mathematics. Then you don’t need the “begins to exist” dodge”.

        • JohnH2

          I have to point out that having mathematics be the base of the universe takes one back to Platonism.

          Also, an eternal temporal loop must under first cause arguments still have a reason for the existence of the loop, you would have to get a Catholic to make this point better.

        • Greg G.

          Having a mathematical model can lead to further research as it can make testable predictions. It’s just a model for reality, rather than the basis of reality, as I take it.

        • MNb

          “I have to point out that having mathematics be the base of the universe takes one back to Platonism.”
          Not necessarily. Some opposite views:

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/
          http://www.math.harvard.edu/~mazur/papers/plato4.pdf
          http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2012/09/on-mathematical-platonism.html

          Personally I think the issue undecided, though you will guess my preference is against Platonism. Given Greg’s reply underneath I suppose he takes the same position.
          Like a former teacher of mine shockingly said in class (back then I didn’t understand him, but I never forgot): mathematics is a language.

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

        • Greg G.

          Yes, I agree. Back in the day when I studied physics and electrical engineering, I did a lot of graphing functions. I could anticipate the form of the graph by inspection of the equation. But I considered it a model instead of reality.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well… unless the current believer-on-the-grill states unequivocally that they don’t take The Bible seriously/literally, anything along the lines of “the map is not the territory” is destined for deaf ears, i reckon.

        • smrnda

          I’m all for mathematical formalism myself personally.

        • JohnH2

          I am not arguing that Mathematical Platonism is correct, just that Krauss and Guth and anyone that says anything along the lines of ‘the need for God is poofed away by mathematics’ is implicitly smuggling in Platonism, regardless of how they otherwise talk about math, physics, or math in physics.

        • MNb

          I understood; I dispute

          “anyone that says …..”
          They aren’t. There is no contradiction between “the need for god is poofed away by maths” and “maths is a language”.
          Though I would not defend myself that “the need for god is poofed away by maths”. That’s because math on its own says nothing about our reality.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, that was a poor choice of words. Perhaps I should have gone with “The need for God is poofed away by plausible mathematical models.”

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

          This looks like the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

          :-)

          I assume you refer to the Kalam, more specifically Craig’s version. Nobody has ever become religious because of this argument.

          Nicely stated. That’s how Peter Boghossian would approach it: if you wouldn’t drop your religion if I defeated Kalam, then don’t waste my time with it.

        • Pofarmer

          A quick search would reveal entire articles and threads in the cosmological argument. It sucks.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Very sophisticated breakdown. I’m going to assume that logically explaining why any of the premises are false is above your head.

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

          Yeah, that is way easier. Doesn’t actually respond to the challenge, though.

        • Greg G.

          WLCraig has argued that there can’t be an infinite regression of events going into the past in order to say the universe had to have a first event.

          That argument implies that God had to have had a first thought. Setting aside the question of what the first thought was, if God had no beginning, then he existed for an eternity without thinking before his first thought.

          If God was capable of creating a human who wouldn’t sin like Jesus, why didn’t he make the first humans like that in the first place?

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

          Maybe God had a long boot-up process.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I don’t see how that argument implies that God had to have had a first thought. It doesn’t follow that finite events in the universe require a first thought of God (then noting that he has no beginning).

          Re: sinless humans… If we’re going down that road, Jesus was fully man and fully God. Man isn’t God.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t see how that argument implies that God had to have had a first thought. It doesn’t follow that finite events in the universe require a first thought of God (then noting that he has no beginning).

          One of the premises of the Kalam CA is that the universe (or multiverse) began to exist. Craig’s argument is that “actual infinities” cannot actually exist. He uses the “Hilbert’s Hotel” thought experiment to illustrate that claim. So he says there cannot be an actual infinite number of events into the past. If there cannot be an actual infinite number of events into the past, there must have been a beginning.

          But that same argument can be applied to events such as God’s first thought or God’s first act. Any argument to get around that can be used for the multiverse so either God doesn’t actually exist or the Kalam falls apart from losing the premise that the multiverse necessarily had a beginning. Alternatively, you could to argue that God had a beginning but the Kalam would imply that God had to have a cause.

          Re: sinless humans… If we’re going down that road, Jesus was fully man and fully God. Man isn’t God.

          Some early churches believed Jesus was fully human and some believed Jesus was fully God. The fully man and fully god was a political compromise so they could have agreement. You can’t explain it without committing logical fallacies or heresy. If this belief was not essential for the first couple of centuries of Christianity, it is not an essential now.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          “But that same argument can be applied…”
          – You’re saying if God exists, he is limited by the laws of the universe He created? I have to disagree.

          “…fully human..”
          – Could it be that the two thoughts were both correct? (yes) Unless some claimed he was ‘only’ human, I don’t see how it’s a fallacy.

        • Greg G.

          You’re saying if God exists, he is limited by the laws of the universe He created? I have to disagree.

          God is subject to logical existence. He does or doesn’t exist. It would follow that he could be subject to other rules of logic. If you are willing to be completely illogical to salvage God, then don’t pretend to be logical.

          Unless some claimed he was ‘only’ human

          Yes, there were some early Christians sects that believed Jesus was completely human and not God. Some believed he was possessed by a spirit that abandoned Jesus when it came time for the crucifixion. Some believed Jesus was fully God and merely manifested as a human. Christianity reconciled these divergent beliefs by compromising the 100% human and 100% god with no way to argue about it or describe it without committing a fallacy of one camp or the other.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          You’re looking to apply the laws that govern the material universe to an immaterial entity. If God exists as a timeless, limitless entity, it doesn’t follow that he would have a 1st though, since he exist outside of time. You might as well ask what the last number is.

          Even today I’m sure we can find supposed ‘Christian’ sects who don’t believe Christ was God. It doesn’t mean they’re correct now, or that they were then.

        • Greg G.

          A timeless being could have zero thoughts or just one continuous thought. There could be no change without time. There would be no deciding to begin something. There could be no regretting killing people with a flood and apologizing with a rainbow.

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

          Doesn’t mean they were correct; doesn’t mean they weren’t.

          That’s the problem with subjective projects like religion. It’s all just my interpretation against yours.

        • Pofarmer

          How is an immaterial entity logically possible? What makes up immateriality? How could you have an immaterial plane? An immaterial universe?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          1. Cosmological argument
          2. You’re asking what material is the immaterial made of.
          3. See 2
          4. See 2

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, which leaves you still with the problem of how the immaterial acts on, or creates, the material. You need to demonstrate that an “immaterial plane” as a causal agent, is even possible or logical. Immateriality is used to demonstrate things like abstract thoughts, but those thoughts or ideas don’t exist without our material brains. Great leaps in knowledge weren’t possible before those immaterial thoughts and ideas were put down as language on material tablets or paper. Know we could pass on knowledge. Now, if you want to suggest that God exists on the same immaterial plane as math, hey, I’m good with that. But if you want to posit that there is some immaterial plane that can have a causal relationship with our material universe, then some kind of proof would be awesome.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Agreed it would be awesome, and is, but in order to recognize an explanation as the best (an immaterial entity and/or plane where God exists), you don’t need to have an explanation of the explanation. Otherwise it would lead to an infinite regress of explanations and nothing could ever be explained.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s just stupid. I asked for evidence or proof that an immaterial plane is even possible. It seems simple enough.

        • JohnH2

          Imagine an SR-72 and you have an immaterial plane.

          More seriously, planes are a feature of stylized geometry and depend on the immaterial concept of a plane; which isn’t hard to prove, given relevant axioms. Is the perceiving and understanding of such a geometric plane the perceiving of something that is real and independent of the person thinking on the subject, and if independent in what way is it independent? Further how can one prove that their idea as to the reality and independence of such things is correct?

          Perhaps not the formulation of plane that either your or Miquel are referring to, but it is the formulation from which Miquel is getting what he is referring to.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Maybe it’s over your head.

        • Pofarmer

          And maybe you’re just being evasive.

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

          Why then don’t you need an infinite regress of explanations for God?

        • MNb

          You’re just too dishonest to admit you can’t tell how an immaterial entity interacts with our material reality. Alas for you, as long as you can’t everything you write about god is meaningless.

        • TheNuszAbides

          why even bother with what ‘follows’ or doesn’t? if bog-in-heaven[or-any/every-where-else] transcends anything we can come up with, there is no need whatsoever for anything to ‘follow’ logically or otherwise when you choose to ramble on about His Munificence. which is, of course, rather telling.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          The transcendental argument. It’s rather telling.

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

          Doesn’t tell me much. I’ve responded to it here.

        • MNb

          You tempt me to start a religion based on the doctrine “God exists and does not exist at the same time – it’s a mystery!”

        • Greg G.

          A god that can exist and not exist at the same time is superior to a god that merely exists.

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

          And the infallible Ontological Argument says that such a god must exist!

          Mark Twain’s observation seems vaguely relevant here: “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

        • MNb

          You will be my first apostle.

        • Greg G.

          I’m trying to think of a symbol, something cooler than a cross, a crescent moon, or a six-pointed star. Maybe a tesseract (4 dimensional hypercube) or something inspired by Escher.

        • Pofarmer

          Fully God or Fully Human are exclusive traits.F

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Incorrect.

        • Greg G.

          What does “fully” mean in your world? You claim that man is not god but it’s possible to be both at the same time. Saying a person can be a mammal and a vertebrate doesn’t work because one is a subset of the other and you excluded that. Saying a man can be a father and a son at the same time is a heretical comparison. An object cannot be fully composed of matter from the Milky Way and fully composed of matter from a galaxy from the other side of the universe.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Remember, God is immaterial.

        • Greg G.

          Are you saying Jesus was fully material and fully immaterial?

        • Pofarmer

          You may have just discovered warp drive.

          On a related note. I’ve never seen WLC refer to anything as “Immaterial.” I would like to see this addressed by a competent physicist. Upon first inspection, the idea does not even seem coherent.

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

          Interesting point. The idea that something has absolutely no substance but yet has its own existence (that is, it’s not simply a property or a thought or idea in someone’s head) is remarkable. I wonder what evidence WLC points to for this.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I’d say being immaterial isn’t only God’s quality (neither is being material a human’s only quality), so such a statement wouldn’t be very accurate.

        • Pofarmer

          Do tell.

        • Greg G.

          Being fully something means possessing all the qualities of that something. Being immaterial means being 0% material. So saying Jesus is fully human and fully god can be accurately said to simultaneously have the properties of being material and immaterial. You should have questioned these things when you were being indoctrinated. You should reject your indoctrination now.

        • hector_jones

          God’s immateriality is an ad hoc explanation cooked up to explain the fact that he can’t be found anywhere. God used to be material back in the good old days when people knew so little about the cosmos that they thought he could be material and up there in the heavens. But as our knowledge grew and god proved to be less and less likely to be found, true believers announced ‘oh guess what? God’s immaterial, that’s why you can’t find him anywhere.’ God is the ether through which your spirituality flows.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          That’s some very old, tired thinking. It works for the atheist because it supports their fairy tale. Dispensationalism helps the rest of us understand reality.

        • hector_jones

          It helps you to rationalize a belief that is contradicted by the evidence, i.e. it supports your fairy tale. Your god becomes more and more immaterial with each passing day.

        • MNb

          Our reality is material. Hence god doesn’t contribute anything to our and your understanding. God is just an empty phrase.

        • hector_jones

          Belief in God or gods is the epitome of ‘very old, tired thinking’ but apparently in that case it’s a feature not a bug.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, miguel has some new whippy dippy theology to prop up his God.

        • hector_jones

          So far his whippy dippy new theology is as immaterial as his god.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          The idea that our reality is material is self-defeating.

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

          Unless he’s Jesus, in which case he’s human. And immaterial and divine and fabulous at the same time because he’s God at the same time. But also human. Or something.

        • hector_jones

          I find God to be very immaterial.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Happy to hear you found God.

        • MNb

          Mormons disagree with you. Weird, eh, how believers can’t agree about such elementary issues?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Ha! Yeah, uh, mormons aren’t Christians.

        • JohnH2

          Under what logic?

        • MNb

          The same logic that makes you claim that your god is material. I call that logic nuts.
          My point is only that believers even can’t agree about the most elementary issues. IIrc BobS has written an article on the contrast with science – all physicists agree about the content of Newton’s Laws ……

        • Miguel de la Pena

          The Law of Non-Contradiction.

        • JohnH2

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not Christian, being one that believes and follows Christ, via the law of non-contradiction? Check your logic again.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          “Christian” Scientists (not Christians who are scientists) also label themselves as Christians. Your logic is faulty. Understand what you’re talking about before coming to a conclusion.

        • JohnH2

          Under what logic are Christian Scientists not Christians?

          You have never actually stated what your standard is for judging who and who is not Christians; I understand quite well what I am talking about when I say that Mormons and Christian Scientists are both Christians.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Refer back to the law of non-contradiction. They aren’t.

        • JohnH2

          The law of non-contradiction itself tells me nothing about why you think I am not a Christian. You have never stated what I supposedly am contradicting with my belief in Christ and God.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Three existing as one vs three separate gods working as one are two contradicting beliefs. Law of non-contradiction.

        • JohnH2

          I agree that three existing as one is a self contradictory belief; I fail to see how that is relevant to determining whether one is a Christian as such a belief doesn’t appear in the Bible, at all. Furthermore, in the ecumenical councils which is probably where you get that self-contradictory idea groups of Christians that do not believe in that idea are called and considered as Christians.

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

          Well, that’s a good point. The idea of the Trinity is absolutely nuts.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Understandable coming from you. Similar to me believing the idea that our entire universe and all the life on our planet created itself from nothing – absolutely nuts.

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

          Yes, that is indeed quite similar … except for the fact that no one says that the entire universe came from nothing. Except the Christians, of course.

          So, no–not even close to being similar.

          And the Trinity isn’t even in your holy book. It’s just a tradition from the 4th century. And if you’re saying that the Trinity is not nuts, that it actually makes good sense, I await your explanation.

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

          If you follow Jesus Christ, I’m pretty sure that Mormons and Christian Scientists follow the same guy. Maybe you’re all entitled to use the term “Christian” to mean “follower of Christ.”

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I’m pretty sure they don’t.

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

          Educate me. How many “Jesus Christs” are there? I thought there was just supposed to be one.

        • MNb

          So what? They still disagree with you.
          Btw mormons do claim they are christians. But that is their and your problem, not mine. I think you all nuts.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I’m sure wiccans disagree with me as well. Your point is meaningless. Your judgmental perspective is likely a result of both fear and ignorance. …and likely your upbringing, but I’d hate to open that can of worms for you.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          So much for Matthew 7:1, as the good christian bigot you are. Has never met me, but thinks he can state all kind of nonsense about me.
          My point is not meaningless. My point is simply a fact: believers can’t even agree on the elementary question if god is material or not. Why should I take anyone of you seriously? Come back when you have settled things.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Hiding behind scripture now? I must’ve hit a nerve. Good luck with that.

        • Pofarmer

          Fear and ignorance of what?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          That’s for you to find out on your own.

        • MNb

          So you’re just sucking things out of your thumb.

        • hector_jones

          Some people have wondered if Miguel and asmondius are the same person. At first I didn’t think they were, but I have noticed that in asmondius’s absence Miguel’s comments have taken on more of an asmondius-like character. Or it could just be that this is the style that christians who don’t really believe their own arguments and who could use a hug resort to.

        • Greg G.

          Asmondius showed up briefly for a flurry of posts recently. I don’t recall if they were during MdlP’s week-long hiatus.

        • MNb

          I don’t entirely rule it out, but for the time being prefer the hypothesis that both MdlP and Asmondius (plus CodyGirl and a few others) rather rely on the same sources: Y-Jesus or something similar. It’s easy to google. If you can muster the courage to wade through that shit you will recognize a lot of “arguments”. I must admit that at first sight (for me it was a few years ago) it looks impressively thorough. It must be convincing for christians who lack the attitude of always looking for counterarguments and falsifying evidence.

        • hector_jones

          In other words, nothing.

        • Ron

          Christian:

          Christianos, Christian, a follower of Christ (Strong’s G5546)

          – a follower of Christ; one who professes belief in Jesus as the Christ and follows his teachings. (about Christianity)

          – a person who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ (Merriam-Webster)

          – relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings (Oxford)

          – professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus. (freedictionary)

          And this excerpt from Foundation For Christian Studies:

          The Testimony of an Apostle as a Definition

          Peter’s testimony can be used as a litmus test for all prospective Christians: do they believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God? If the answer is affirmative, then like Peter we may consider the individual a Christian.

          So… if you profess belief in Christ and make an effort to follow his teachings… you’re a Christian.

          From Mormon Beliefs:

          As Mormons, we are followers of Jesus Christ.

          From What is Christian Science?:

          Following Christ Jesus

          Jesus inspires us to rise up and follow him.

          IOW, both Mormons and Christian Scientists fit the definition of what it means to be a Christian.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          You can copy and paste anything you like, it doesn’t change the fact that mormons don’t worship the Christian God; despite their claims. Christian scientists aren’t even worth mentioning any further.

        • hector_jones

          How can you tell that Mormons don’t worship the Christian God? Is there some other God out there who goes by the same name? How do the two of them sort out which prayers are aimed at which of them?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I’ve spoken a number of times with mormons about their God. It’s a different entity from the Christian God. Worshipping false gods isn’t new though, I’m surprised that this seems new to you.

        • JohnH2

          ” different entity from the Christian God.”

          Really, can you demonstrate that via the Bible?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I can, in a number of different ways. Do i care to? Not really.

        • JohnH2

          I can demonstrate that you are full of it in a number of different ways. Do I care to? Not really, because it is so utterly self-evident.

        • MNb

          All gods are false, including yours. Prove me wrong.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Prove yourself correct.

        • MNb

          Honest people know: the person who makes the claim has to provide the proof. You make the claim that John’s god is false. You have to provide the proof.
          Still the proof that your god is false is simple: it’s exactly the same as your proof that John’s god is false.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          …you mean like, the claim that the universe and everything in it simply came to be from absolute nothingness? Got it.

        • MNb

          Dishonest as always. You don’t address what I write. Instead you try to change subject. Moreover nobody claims the claim that the Universe came from absolute nothingness has been proven. That’s false testimony – but christian pieces of s**t like couldn’t care less about the 9th Commandment.

        • hector_jones

          One thing Christianity certainly does not preach is that it’s wrong to lie to and about non-believers. Christianity and the behavior of christians past and present makes it quite clear that there’s really no limits to how badly a christian is allowed to treat a non-believer. But we are just supposed to ignore that fact in discussion with christians and pretend they are arguing in good faith.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Nobody claims it had been proven…. yet they still believe. Belief without evidence? That’s hypocrisy. Or perhaps you prefer the metaphysical theories of Stephen Hawking?

        • Pofarmer

          Belief without evidence is faith.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Perhaps, in the sense of believing atheism to be true. In the Christian sense it has more to do with trusting in Good.

        • Pofarmer

          So, now you’re gonna Parrott Al? That argument is dishonest no matter who is using it.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Al? I don’t know what or who you’re referencing. You don’t have to like the idea for it to be true.

        • Al

          Wrong.

        • MNb

          Well, if that’s your judgment the safe conclusion is that Pofarmer is actually right.

        • Al

          Rule of thumb to live by: You and Pofarmer are usually wrong.

        • MNb

          Very convenient if you neither have arguments nor evidence. Now I understand why you never provide.

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

          What is belief without evidence then?

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

          What are you talking about? Are you saying that the consensus view is that the universe came from nothing? Show me that–that’s news to me.

          And again, since that’s your view, why should you have a problem with that?

        • MNb

          Dishonesty only spawns more dishonesty. Nobody believes that the Universe came from absolute nothingness. It’s an open question that has to be answered yet by physics, nothing more. Physics claims it’s possible, nothing more.

          If it’s not too difficult for you read this.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/did-the-universe-come-fro_b_739909.html

          “You need to quantize gravity.”
          As long as that hasn’t been done the question is open. The strongest claim that Stenger makes is

          “So the universe need not have had a beginning.”

          If you’ve got that and really want to know what Modern Physics says then you have this:

          http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2012/04/28/a-universe-from-nothing/

          “So modern physics has given us these two ideas”
          Meaning that there is nothing decided yet.
          But I trust you to produce more bla bla on an issue you understand zilch about. That’s good for me, because the more ridiculous you look the more I like it.

          Edit: if the Stenger link to Huffington doesn’t work try the one provided by BobS underneath.

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

          Your Vic Stenger article didn’t come through. Maybe this will work.

        • MNb

          That’s the one indeed.
          But for me the link did work. Weird.

        • hector_jones

          Well those anonymous mormons might support your views, but meanwhile we have a mormon in this thread who says you are full of shit.

          I am aware that worshipping false gods isn’t a new thing. Catholics have been doing it for about 2000 years.

        • JohnH2

          No, they wouldn’t agree with him, because he isn’t saying that they said they weren’t Christian but that from speaking with them he (rightly) understands that our ideas regarding God are very different.

          Where he goes wrong is believing that the differences make one group to not be Christian. Where he goes off the deep end is believing that his view of God is supported by the Bible and demonstrable in the Bible, and that there is any precedent for labeling those with differing beliefs about Christ and God as not being Christian.

          His view on God doesn’t come from the Bible but from Greek Philosophy and involves as “Biblical” support a single verse that only half of it is used and the other half is completely ignored and another verse which was added in much later in order to provide support and this provably.

          Prior to the council at Nicaea called, by a pagan Roman emperor, the Trinity view of the Godhead was not even the most popular, and as Augustine very clearly states is a rejection of what Christians generally and previously believed. The council also labeled groups that very clearly do not believe in anything like the Trinity as being Christian as do other councils; so even rejecting the Trinity is not reason to call someone else as not a Christian.

          What the Bible does support is the idea that those who have different ideas are all Christians as long as their actions are those of trying to follow Christ. Differing ideas about who Jesus was and what he did are as old as Christianity and started with the Apostles themselves.

        • hector_jones

          My point was that being anonymous they are likely made up or easily misrepresented. That’s why they probably agree with him.

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

          Next thing, you’ll be saying that the Trinity isn’t in the Bible.

          (Oh, wait …)

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Appeal to authority often?

        • hector_jones

          When it comes to mormonism yes I will take JohnH2’s interpretation of what mormonism actually preaches over yours.

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

          If one of you has it wrong, how do you know it’s the Mormon?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          The Bible tells me so. =)

        • JohnH2

          Where?

        • JohnH2

          I am a Mormon, please let me know what exactly my belief in Christ is supposed to contradict and where in scripture you find evidence that I don’t worship God?

          I know people that are Christian Scientist; why are they not worth mentioning further?

        • Pofarmer

          Well, if one is fully himan, that would mean you couldn’t have the powers of a God, and if you are fully God, then you wouldn’t have the frailties of a human. It’s not my fault your argued into existence definitions don’t work.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Incorrect. Again.

        • Pofarmer

          How so? Are you going to actually make an argument, or just issue vague assertions?

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

          And next you’ll be saying that the Trinity makes no sense. I mean, c’mon.

        • Greg G.

          – You’re saying if God exists, he is limited by the laws of the universe He created? I have to disagree.

          If God is not bound by the laws he creates, then he could change his mind about the whole salvation for Christians. His ways are not your ways. There would be no sense in having religion at all.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Yes, he possibly could change his mind about anything. It would go against the essence of his existence to lie and there’s no reason to believe that would happen.

        • MNb

          How do you know what the essence of gods existence is and what not? Which method do you use to decide that?
          What reason do you have to believe god would not change his mind about anything?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Special revelation.
          Studying his word.
          Moral Law (re: lying).

        • MNb

          Special revelation translates as what makes your underbelly feel nice, cozy and warm
          We already have established that studying god’s word has yielded nothing. This is the right moment to point out that muslims, christians and jews have studied god’s word for about 2700 years, producing nothing but disagreement.
          If god can possibly change his mind about anything and if he grounds moral law but is not bound by it he can totally lie if it suits him.
          In other words: you don’t have a method except your very own personal predetermined preferences.

        • TheNuszAbides

          to be vaguely fair, ~special revelation~ could be associated with just about any sort of emotion/sensation, including terror, mindbending awe, etc. i think what you’re getting at re: ‘what makes your underbelly feel nice, cozy and warm’ are the most common _interpretations_ or putatively-logical extensions of ~special revelation~.

        • MNb

          Yup.

        • Greg G.

          The Bible says God deceived some prophets so there is inerrant evidence that the essence of Bible God will deceive. Jesus said that some believers will be surprised to learn that Jesus never knew them, if you accept the Bible is inerrant. You can’t know whether your beliefs are what the Bible God wants you to believe.

        • hector_jones

          You know absolutely zilch about the ‘essence’ of God’s existence. You just pulled that out of your ass.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Ok, if you say so.

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

          Yeah, but he said it with conviction. That’s what matters.

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

          God doesn’t lie? I’m pretty sure the Bible documents where he does.

        • TheNuszAbides

          so far I’ve only come across one believer (or at least Arguer on Behalf of Erudite Believers) who shows any ability to discuss ‘could’ve-beens’ like gnostics, manichaeans etc. neither John nor Miguel displays any such grasp (or perhaps they’re merely not interested, which I would believe coming from John). though John does get a point or two for looking like he’s trying (and using relatively profound/universal concepts to do so).

        • JohnH2

          I am a Mormon; I believe things further from traditional Christianity than the gnostic or manichaeans; I try to stick close to the prevailing assumptions in a thread though, I argued against those assumptions with Miquel If you actually want to discuss gnosticism that is a different discussion than this one.

        • Greg G.

          Man isn’t God.

          Genesis 3:22 KJV
          And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Being “like God” is not “being God”.

        • Pofarmer

          If God is immaterial, mysterious, not bound by the laws of this universe. Then how can we know what God is like?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I’m more intrigued by the claim that one has a personal experience of something immaterial. If you can see it then it has the material property of form. If you can hear it then it has the material property of sound. If you can smell it then it has the material property of…er, smell I guess (maybe odor is a better word). If you can feel it then it has the material property of texture. And if you can taste it then it has the material property of flavor. How then, does one experience something that has no material properties?

          I believe I’ve heard a poster say under a recent article of Bob’s that they had a personal experience of God which amounted to, “I should have died in such-and-such situation, but I didn’t. Therefore God.” That’s why I believe in Zeus. I should have died in that thunderstorm a few weeks ago but I didn’t because Zeus spared me (I’m not serious I’m just making a reduction to absurdity).

        • JohnH2

          What properties does Math or Beauty or Love have? By what sense do we know Good or Bad?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          Is this a trick question? Are you speaking of the abstract concept of Beauty and Love or actual instances of Beauty and Love? You experience the instances of them and not the general concepts. Like experiencing a beautiful piece of music (sound) and feeling loving as warmth in the chest (and other places sometimes…). We define something as being in the domain of Beauty and Love ultimately by our physical reactions to them.

        • JohnH2

          So is there no relation between the beauty of music and the beauty of a painting? There is not universality of concept of beauty? Both Modern Art and prior art are doomed to failure, the one rejecting ‘beauty’ in art for the production of other emotions and concepts and the other in its search for ‘beauty’?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I don’t see anything about beauty that isn’t material in some way. I think you might be taking all the material components of beauty (our perception of the form of the painting, or perception of the sound of music, etc.) and the physical reactions we have to them (increased heart rate, pleasure from a surge of hormones, relaxedness of the muscles, smiling, and whatever other physical reaction you might have to something beautiful) and meshing them together into an abstract concept and then declaring “Since the whole is an immaterial concept we must have an immaterial faculty for experiencing it!”

          I hope I’m not strawmanning your beliefs here. I just don’t believe that there is some immaterial component of beauty when you get right down to what beauty is.

          “Both Modern Art and prior art are doomed to failure, the one rejecting ‘beauty’ in art for the production of other emotions and concepts and the other in its search for ‘beauty’?” There’s certainly a lot of intriguing subject matter about the purpose of art in modernity and antiquity but I’m sure you understand this has nothing to do with whether or not finding beauty in something is the result of some immaterial process or not, which is what my original post was solely about.

        • JohnH2

          So taking the right cocktail of drugs is equivalent to beauty? If you haven’t read it, can I suggest you read ‘Brave New World’?

          I don’t even know what an immaterial process or faculty would be or means, but beauty is not material and can be experienced using probably any or all of the material senses, or even none in the case of math theorems. We are material and we experience beauty, which doesn’t have material properties. Meaning we can have personal experiences with things which are not themselves material.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          “So taking the right cocktail of drugs is equivalent to beauty?” That’s essentially what experiencing beauty is, but you’re not really “taking” it (hormones) so much as your brain is automatically producing it. If you see a painting of the Mona Lisa and your body produces the hormones responsible for disgust in response, then you might call the Mona Lisa repulsive or ugly. You’re essentially relaying the physical processes of your brain through speech in the form of the words like “beauty” (or at least, this is what I’m trying to argue).

          You believe that beauty is not material and is therefore not experienced with material senses (which I assume you believe to be feeling, sight, hearing, taste, and smell). I think in order for me to understand why you believe this you need to give me your definition of beauty. If you define beauty as immaterial then you would simply be presupposing the very thing that is in dispute, so define beauty without using the terms “immaterial” or “material” (otherwise I can just define beauty as material and the argument goes nowhere). This is an interesting topic in my opinion and I’d like to know your views on beauty.

          “If you haven’t read it, can I suggest you read ‘Brave New World’?” I’m not really too fond of reading books but I may make an exception. The title sounds familiar though.

        • JohnH2

          “Brave New World” is a famous dystopia, it is quite likely that you have heard of it before. It really should be as popular and referenced as 1984.

          A cocktail of drugs is not beautiful, Morphine is not happiness, Soma is not what one should strive for.

          If one sees the Mona Lisa and is repulsed by it, which is highly unlikely cross-culturally even among those that do not know it is the Mona Lisa, then it is accurate to say that the person who so finds it repulsive is disordered. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder not in the sense that it is a subjective nothing but that it is something experienced.

          The strongest argument for the existence of beauty is not actually the Mona Lisa, but rather it is found in the rejection of beauty of Modern art and thought. To reach that ideal so successfully despite the disperse and widely varied nature of Modern Art demonstrates that beauty far from being subjective nonsense which can be different for different people, or mere attractiveness , or redefined at will is something real, even if it must be experienced to be known.

          Except for the last about 100 years innumerable books have been written by the brightest minds to ever live trying to define and explain what beauty is. The feeling of love and longing of experiencing that even pagan and atheist philosophers have said is the glimpse of the divine, that I think is the best that can be said in way of explaining in words what is beauty. Of course, that is admittedly itself imperfect and even still requires us to define what is love, which is itself something else on which countless volumes have been written.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          “A cocktail of drugs is not beautiful, Morphine is not happiness…” I’d be surprised to find anyone experiencing happiness or beauty without the relevant chemicals flowing through them at the time. Your wording is slightly misrepresentative of what I’m saying however. The “cocktail of drugs” itself is not beauty or beautiful (maybe to some people…) but they are the chemicals responsible for the experience of beauty (of which there are plenty with hopelessly complicated names). Transfer of chemicals inducing physical perceptions like pain or pleasure seems completely material to me.

          It is possible for a person not to feel certain emotions because the parts of their brains that handle feeling the emotions are damaged or underdeveloped (or they lack the chemicals to trigger the emotional responses). This lends credence to the idea that it’s material processes responsible for happiness (which is also related to beauty).

          “Of course, that is admittedly itself imperfect and even still requires us to define what is love, which is itself something else on which countless volumes have been written.” Well if we can’t agree on what love is it’s kind of hard to reach a concensus on whether it is the result of material faculties or not (which was the original topic of our discussion). I also don’t believe that beauty or love is evidence for the the claim that an intelligent being governs the universe, but I can’t nail down why I think that way. I guess it’s something deep in my consciousness that I can’t seem to get at.

        • JohnH2

          Can you explain to me the difference in your view between happiness and taking morphine? If the pursuit of happiness is a natural right then why shouldn’t the government provide everyone with a constant supply of morphine?

          Yes, it is possible for ones brain to be damaged, or for one to not develop ones brain, or one to damage their own brain via addictions, and so forth. That isn’t an argument though that the experiences that are lost via the damage are those parts of the brain. Losing ones eye sight is not the loss of all light in the world but of the capacity to perceive that light.

          I also don’t believe that beauty or love is evidence for the the claim that an intelligent being governs the universe, but I can’t nail down why I think that way. I guess it’s something deep in my consciousness that I can’t seem to get at.

          You have faith in a different set of propositions which you feel is supported by evidence.

        • Greg G.

          Those are concepts that are processed by the brain. Don’t forget that imaginary concepts are also processed by the brain.

        • JohnH2

          So Beauty is an imaginary concept that has no relation to reality and Modern Art and prior eras of art are doomed to failure in the Modern rejection of beauty for other concepts and prior art in its search for beauty?

        • Greg G.

          I did not say that beauty was an imaginary concept, nor math nor love.

        • JohnH2

          Ok, so not imaginary; so what senses do we use to experience beauty or math or love?

        • Greg G.

          Serotonin receptors play an important role for love, beauty, and happiness. Other brain chemistry in various areas of brain function would be for cognition such as math or chess.

          I am not a neuroscientist but I do play one on the internet. 80)

        • Greg G.

          A mother’s love for her offspring is triggered by an increased level of progesterone, IIRC, in the late stages of pregnancy. This has been shown in other species of mammals, too.

          Beauty in the face may have to do with an intrinsic archetype of a typical face, the prettier the face is perceived to be. This has been shown in infants by how long their gaze lingers on faces.

          Birds and chimpanzees can count.

          We have natural affinities for sweet flavors and fats. In the wild, those are necessary for survival and hard to come by but we have developed our agriculture to supply more than is healthy, so our brains are not necessarily proficient at determining good and bad, when something that has been tuned to be good becomes bad from an overdose.

          Most good and bad are learned and might be different from person to person. Beauty is often in the eye of the beholder.

          What about those things are not accounted for by brain functions?

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

          Hey–we had a bad thunderstorm here in Seattle a week ago and I also didn’t die. High five!

          Thanks, Zeus.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          General revelation and special revelation.

        • Pofarmer

          So, making shit up, got it.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I think you just had a tin man moment. Cool!

        • Pofarmer

          I like to call it “being lucid”. Revelation has never been demonstrated as a reliable path to knowledge, just like seer stones or dowsing.

        • Greg G.

          If that worked, an omnipotent being would have everyone on the same page, singing the same hymns, instead of 43,000 Christian denominations and thousands of other religions singing from different hymnals. Maybe it’s that immaterial brain that can’t put two thoughts together that has screwed up revelation so daftly.

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

          Maybe revelation works only for Miguel and we just have to take his word for it. But then it might as well not exist for the rest of us.

        • Greg G.

          Revelation has two requirements: an actual transmission of information from an immaterial entity and the ability to persuade people that you received information from an immaterial entity. If you have the former without the latter, it goes for naught. If you have the latter without the former, nobody will know the difference so it’s as good as the real thing.

          Some people fall for the second example over and over.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, you know Greg, Christians assure us that God is inaudible, invisible, and immaterial, and this is why he is so clearly “seen” by them. Makes perfect sense, right?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          So you’re saying it’s morally just for God to obligate everyone to worship him?

        • MNb

          Doesn’t your god himself decide what’s just and what’s not just for him? He is the one who is supposed to give us humans morals via the Bible.

        • Greg G.

          Isn’t it your belief that God has already obligated everyone to worship him? It would be immoral to damned people to hell for eternity for lack of a convincing revelation.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          “convincing” is a subjective term; as is “immoral” when we’re talking from a ‘morality is subjective’ point of view. If you refuse to believe there is a God, why would it be just for him to compel you to believe?

        • Greg G.

          I don’t refuse to believe. I don’t believe because there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant belief. I believe this computer exists because there is evidence that it exists. It would be a sin for a god to damn someone to eternal torment because said god failed to provide evidence while not punishing gullible people who believed for crappy reasons. Damning people to hell is just silly religious talk.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          So, if someone accused you of a crime you didn’t commit, and there was sufficient evidence to warrant a belief that you were guilty and none that says otherwise – you would believe you are guilty? That’s just silly atheist talk.

        • Greg G.

          The city once sent me a picture of my car running a red light. I recalled being at the intersection about that time of day but I didn’t recall running the light. I accepted the evidence as sufficient.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          If you remembered correctly and knew you hadn’t broken the law, you would ail agree with the city? Awesome.

          People wrongly convicted of crimes should be in prison because that’s where the evidence leads… you’re seriously defending this? Pride is making a fool of you.

        • Greg G.

          You don’t seem to understand the concept of sufficient evidence. First you proposed that there was sufficient evidence to warrant belief that I committed a crime. Now the goalpost has been shifted that I remember correctly. When you say there is sufficient evidence that I am guilty, that implies that the evidence shows my memory is faulty. If the city charged me with violating noise abatement laws, I wouldn’t accept it but if they could prove to me that I snore and snore that loudly, the fact that I don’t remember it is irrelevant. If I remember taking the key out of the ignition before I locked the car door but I see the key is in the ignition, that is sufficient evidence that I did not remember correctly.

          But you are accusing me of not believing in something on insufficient evidence, of which I am guilty, but you have presented insufficient evidence that it’s wrong, that I am on trial, and that there is a judge and executioner for this invisible kangaroo court, when all the judge and executioner has to do is present sufficient evidence that he exists. There are a hundred things in this room that I believe are real because I have sufficient evidence for them. It is easy to present sufficient evidence for most anything that exists. But what you think is most important is impossible to present sufficient evidence for so you can only offer excuses for that failure.

          I notice that my accusers all have an irrational fear of death but pretend they have a get-out-of-hell free card, which makes congregations of them seem very nice, when they are actually a madhouse of indoctrination. Life is better when you focus on life instead of death.

          Ye, it is too bad that our justice system requires fallible people, but we cannot allow dangerous people among society. If there was a just god, mistakes wouldn’t happen as sufficient evidence for guilt or innocence would find its way to the court room in time.

          The comic I attached to my previous comment shows the underlying malevolence of the Christian theology.

        • hector_jones

          If the evidence leads to a conviction, how do you know they were wrongly convicted? If you have some other evidence the court didn’t know about, you should have come forward. What a dirtbag you are, letting an innocent person go to jail like that.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I’m curious, do you also put on an outfit and shake pom poms while cheerleading online?

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, that’s interesting, because people can become convinced both ways. People can become utterly convinced they committed crimes they didn’t, and absolutely convinced that they didn’t commit crimes they did. That’s why the scientific method is important and it works, it prevents us from fooling ourselves, and we are easy to fool.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          So you’re saying people falsely imprisoned are just victims of their minds tricking them. Riiiight.

        • MNb

          He isn’t saying that. You’re dishonest again.

        • Greg G.

          Your religion seems to have warped your sense of reality. Your position is so weak, you have to argue against what you wish people said instead of what they actually say.

        • hector_jones

          Well how much can you expect from someone whose first contribution was, “Is this where the tin men gather to vent their frustrations about people with hearts?” He didn’t exactly up the discourse.

        • Pofarmer

          No, I’m saying that our minds are not always reliable, which is proven.

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

          Wait–these are the same revelations that you don’t have time to justify to us? You want to get points for answering a question with an empty answer? Again?

        • Greg G.

          According to the last part of the verse, the difference is the “live for ever”.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          “Jesus was fully man and fully God. Man isn’t God.”

          Let me use alphabetical symbols to show the contradiction.

          J = Jesus
          G = God
          M = Man

          S1) J = M
          S2) J = G
          S3) M =/= G

          Since J = M and M =/= G, then transitively, J =/= G, contradicting S2. If M =/= G then G =/= M commutatively. Therefore, if J = G and G =/= M, then J =/= M, contradicting S1. Therefore, at least one of S1, S2, and S3 is wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          You may assume whatever you like. Like I said, Bob has done articles on the Kalam and other cosmological arguments. There are thousands of comments. Why rehash it all here?

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

          So Greg is a worthless pig … but you’ll deign to listen to whatever drivel he comes up with.

          Thank you sir, may I have another?!

        • Greg G.

          So Greg is a worthless pig

          To be fair, I get that a lot.

        • MNb

          No, I’m not, for several reasons. But that was not the point. My point was to show the dishonesty of your remark

          “very courageous to vent anonymously online”
          As I have years of experience with pieces of s**t like you I suspected this after reading your very first comment. Thanks for confirming.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Ok, I’ll take your word that you aren’t brave. What have I been dishonest about?

        • MNb

          I quoted that in my previous comment, so you lack comprehensive reading skills too. You only bring up the issue of online anonymity to kill off discussions.

        • hector_jones

          So first you mock us for venting anonymously, then when MNb gives up his anonymity you belittle that. You are a credit to your religion, shithead.

        • hector_jones

          So Miguel de la Puta is your real name?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Name-calling… impressive.

        • hector_jones

          Aren’t you the guy who called us all ‘tin men’? Fuck off, hypocrite.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          “…if I only had a heart.”

    • MNb

      How does WLC show he has a heart when he defends the Canaanite genocide with arguments which were also used by convicted nazi’s?

      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites

      “The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.”
      Yeah, WLC has a huge heart for children who happen to be on the wrong side of his religious demarcation line.

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

        Nice slap down. Crazy talk can come back to bite one.

        • Greg G.

          It seems that Asmondius disappeared when Miguel began posting with a similar M. O. Has anybody else noticed this?

        • wtfwjtd

          His M.O. is pretty similar, isn’t it?

        • Pofarmer

          He certainly doesn’t have a similar argument.

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

          But would be a bit deceitful, and good Christians don’t lie.

          Do the math.

        • Greg G.

          His second post chiding people for using pseudonyms would have been disingenuous at best, or simply two-faced, even if he is now using his real name.

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

          He likes to come in with a bang, doesn’t he?

          And that his image is just ribbons of color doesn’t do much to polish his claim of being the open one in the conversation.

      • Markus

        I read the furnished link and I just finished the most intense vomiting I’ve done since many years ago when a virus knocked me out for a week. WLC is unbelievably frightening and disgusting in his twisted morality. According to his logic, Hitler must be a saint for all the jewish children he killed who surely now must be in heaven but would’ve ended up in hell if they had been allowed to grow up in their non-Christian faith.

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

          The guy’s got two doctorates. You’d think that he’d have high standards.

          He writes stuff that you’d think would get rejected if written by a freshman. And he’s a professor.

          Maybe this is a “the last shall be first and the first last” kind of thing.

    • TheNuszAbides

      try again when you manage to comprehend that ‘hearts’ are not the source of frustration.

      • Miguel de la Pena

        Thank you for proving my point.

        • TheNuszAbides

          your inference skills need… work.


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