8 Reasons to Reject C. S. Lewis’s Argument from Desire

8 Reasons to Reject C. S. Lewis’s Argument from Desire September 4, 2018

The Argument from Desire looks at innate desires and sees the shadow of God. We feel hunger, so therefore there must be food. We thirst and therefore there’s water; we yearn for companionship and therefore there are companions; we yearn for god . . . and therefore there is a god.

C. S. Lewis said,

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. . . . If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Lewis was popularizing a concept that theologians have expressed for centuries. John Calvin referred to the sensus divinitatisa sense, not of the environment like sight or smell, but of God. Blaise Pascal proposed a “God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man.”

This apologetic is easy to understand and has an intuitive appeal, but it fails under closer inspection.

1. Why do we fear death? If our inclinations are a reliable instinctual pointer to the supernatural, then why the fear of death? If we instinctively know that there is a god and an eternal place for our soul to live after life on earth, humans should differ from other animals in having an ambivalence about death or even a longing for it. We don’t.

2. The puddle problem. Lewis imagined that hunger points to the existence of food, but it’s the other way around. Consider Douglas Adams’ puddle, which marveled at how well-crafted its hole was: “Fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well; must have been made to have me in it!”

Lewis’s error is the same as the puddle’s backwards thinking. We don’t notice hunger and then conclude that food must exist; rather, creatures need food to survive, and evolution selects those that have a hunger to successfully get it.

3. Desire for God isn’t an innate desire. If the desires for food, water, sex and other basics are never fulfilled, the human race dies out. The “hunger” for the supernatural has nothing to do with survival. Lewis doesn’t show that this very different desire for God logically fits in with the fundamental desires necessary for life.

4. This is just a deist argument. If you find this argument compelling, this should point you to deism. Like many other arguments, this one only claims that there is some anonymous clock maker behind the universe. There is nothing here to argue for the Christian god over any other god or supernatural pantheon. (More here.)

If you argue that this god desire actually does point you to the Christian god, you must explain the myriad ways God belief plays out in practice. And why would the Christian god give you a vague sense of some sort of celestial clockmaker instead of pointing our desire specifically to him? What we see instead is that the specifics of god belief are just a local custom. (More here and here.)

5. Consider what else comes along with the argument. C. S. Lewis said, “It would be very odd if the phenomenon called ‘falling in love’ occurred in a sexless world.”

And would it also be odd if the phenomenon “belief in magic” occurred in a magic-less world? It’s not odd at all, because that’s the world we’re living in. Belief in magic is still widespread and was even more so a few centuries ago. We in the West shouldn’t be too smug that we’ve largely turned our backs on magic, because our thinking is still influenced by superstitions and evidence-less beliefs in things like coincidences, fate, and homeopathy.

We don’t need to puzzle over falling in love, because we know that love and sex exist in our world. But, despite Lewis’s efforts, the God belief looks like just another human belief poorly grounded in evidence.

6. The Ontological Argument again? You can imagine perfect justice, world peace, or a loving god, but that doesn’t make them reality. As with the Ontological Argument, thinking of it doesn’t make it so.

7. What is “innate”? Proponents of this argument list fundamental innate physical needs and drives like food, drink, sex, safety, and sleep. They may also throw in higher-level desires for beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship.

The skeptic can retort with demands for Aladdin’s lamp, Shangri-La, or superpowers. Because they’d be great to have, does that mean that they exist? To avoid this, the apologist may distinguish between innate desires (the first sort—things that actually exist) and contrived desires (the second).

Let’s work with that distinction. In several ways, God desire does not appear to be innate.

7a. The category of innate desires is those things for which there is a clear target of the desire. No one doubts that food and drink exist, but there’s plenty of doubt about superpowers. (Guess which bin God desire fits into.)

7b. Everyone must satisfy the needs of hunger and thirst. Not everyone finds satisfaction for a God desire, and not everyone even has such a desire. The apologist may respond that that might also apply to the higher-level desires such as beauty and justice, but this only makes the innate category seem more arbitrary.

7c. Another way of seeing the innate/contrived distinction is that the innate desires (for food, sex, and companionship, for example) are those we share with other social animals. Since no animal desires God, why call that desire innate?

8. Don’t let your desires run away with you. We must be skeptical of fluffy arguments guided by desires.

Even C. S. Lewis himself argues against trusting too much in desire and Joy because the sane, rational person must be very suspicious of where moods and emotions might lead: “Unless you teach your moods where they get off, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.” The C. S. Lewis of this passage would insist that we regard our inner states, including desires and Joy, with suspicion if not discount them entirely. (Source: About.com)

Searching for the best spin on this argument

If the list of innate desires were 10,000 long, the apologists’ argument would have some weight. They’d say, “Every single item on this enormous list is a desire for which we know that a corresponding target exists! The only question left is our yearning for god. How likely is it that this one thing is a counterexample?”

But even with the cerebral desires (justice, love, etc.), the list of innate desires is maybe a dozen items long. At its foundation, this is a weak argument. And given the problems highlighted above, the argument no longer has credibility.

God belief is a poor fit as an innate belief, but here’s a better comparison. Wishful thinking in religion is like wishful thinking in the health and beauty aisle, or in diets, or in end-of-life care. What’s the loss of a little money when you could look better, be thinner, or live longer? Hope springs eternal, in religion as in more mundane areas. It’d be great to look younger or more fit, and it’d be great to have an all-powerful Friend looking out for me. That doesn’t make it true.

As with claims for cosmetics and cure-alls, we must be skeptical.

In the factory we make cosmetics;
in the drugstore we sell hope.
— Charles Revson (founder of Revlon)

.

This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/19/14.)

Image via Dawn, CC license

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • epicurus

    Humans need for air and food and water and sleep is a design flaw on God’s part. Never mind that the act of swallowing food is always dancing on the edge of choking.

    • Kevin K

      If I lie on the “wrong side” at night, I occasionally will have a reflux episode where the contents of my stomach are spilled out and all the way up. Let me tell you … that is NOT “intelligent design”.

      • epicurus

        Yikes!

      • Raging Bee

        God’s design is PERFECT…if you believe hard enough.

      • Have you considered the role of sin, my brother?

        • Otto

          Mat 15:11

          A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but” by what comes out of it.

        • heleninedinburgh

          In other words, swallow don’t spit.

      • Ignorant Amos

        When my partner lies on her back while sleeping her sinuses cause her to stop breathing until she has to choke and either wake or role over, It’s a nightmare to listen to and I have to nudge her sometimes. ID, my arse.

        • Kevin K

          She needs a CPAP machine. It will definitely change her life. And yours.

        • Greg G.

          It took God long enough to design the CPAP, I’d say.

        • Ignorant Amos

          She has a litany of ailments….fibro being the top of the list.

          She couldn’t wear the mask.

          It takes a bottle and a glass of rose wine…or a sleeping tablet…to get her over.

        • Kevin K

          I am not a clinician, but when was the last time she tried? There are quite a number of new masks/breathing apparatuses that have been developed. She may find one useful.

          I do know that the type of sleep apnea you’re describing is not good for the heart. Particularly the right side of the heart.

          But I completely understand the frustration with the masks. My dad tried wearing one — he was living with me at the time. Poor guy just could not get used to it. It was one of the happiest moments of his later years when I finally said “Dad, do you just want to not use this anymore?”

      • David Peebles

        Can’t help wondering how many “intelligent design” proponents wear glasses, get cataracts, have artificial knees and hips, have chronic back pain, have reflux disease, any of the myriad forms of cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, etc. Evolution looks much like the renovation of an old building. You don’t tear out the old plumbing and wiring, you just plug up that old stuff, then put in new stuff, leaving the old stuff to cause problems eventually.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          That’s just the vast reality warping powers of sin at work. If God hadn’t been a dumbass and put the tree in the garden Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten fruit we wouldn’t have any of those.

        • Well, keep in mind that God was new to parenting. Cut the guy some slack–he didn’t know how to childproof stuff.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Feck sake Bob…he left his kids alone with a snake…not just any snake mind, the worst snake possible…no slack being cut.

          The welfare shoulda been brought in and the kids taken into care, because of his blatent negligence.

        • The neighbors call Child Protective Services on God–that’s a nice image.

        • Greg G.

          They did that. They even put guards at the gate to make sure they didn’t go back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They are all part of a gods plan….and it’s a mystery.

    • sandy

      Design flaw #2, putting the sewage plant right next to the pleasure centre or in the case of gay men….

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        The sewage plant is integral to the pleasure center. The penis gets far more use as a urine spigot than a sperm depositor.

    • Len

      God’s not well known for his skill in designing us. Take planned obsolescence, for example.

      • RichardSRussell

        You or I or your 8-year-old kid could probably design a better knee.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Teeth and eyes too…the lens could be a lot better…I’ve had to wear glasses since I was 45…but then we aren’t really supposed to live as long as we do…god couldn’t even get that right…what a fuck up.

        • Greg G.

          Even the vertebrate retina would be better if it was like that of squids and octopi. Creationists will say that it is because they live in water but they realize that doesn’t work because fish eyes are like mammal eyes.

          My 81 year old mother had the lenses of her eyes replaced with synthetic lenses recently. Now she can do crossword puzzles without glasses.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I wish I could afford it…maybe that’s why God invented money…In God We Trust…wise up fer feck sake….meanwhile there’s children in third world countries starving to death so I need to grab what I’ve got and be thankful for it, thankful to whom is the question…?????

        • Greg G.

          A coworker told me her sister had it done several years ago. It was good at the time but she developed scar tissue, so it’s not perfect.

  • Anthrotheist

    The argument also appears to clash with Christian morality regarding sex. The existence of abortion and contraception (neither of which are new), and the reality of infanticide (which is older yet), indicate that humans have an innate desire for sex but don’t necessarily have an innate desire for children. That would mean, by the desire argument, that no-strings sex is natural and therefore must exist; this flies in the face of Christian morality which maintains that sex’s “natural function” is procreation and therefore anything else is sinful (and especially ‘the gays’).

    This is definitely one of the sillier arguments I have seen for God.

    • Nice. That’s a clever angle.

    • skl

      “The existence of abortion and contraception
      (neither of which are new), and the reality of infanticide (which is older
      yet), indicate that humans have an innate desire for sex but don’t necessarily
      have an innate desire for children.”

      So, humans have an innate desire to kill their little products of sex and so an innate desire to bring the family line, and the
      entire species, to extinction.

      “That would mean, by the desire argument, that no-strings sex is natural and therefore must exist”

      And a man willingly offering his woman to other men (and his woman happily giving her man to other women) must therefore
      exist. Except it doesn’t, normatively.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        Nope, it is not a desire to kill children and end the human race, it is desire to have sex without the consequences. why do you always try to re-frame a quote that is directly above your own and so you dishonesty is obvious, i mean at least try and be sneaky about it.

        Polyamory is a real thing that real humans actually do, just because you aren’t interested is no reason to pretend it doesn’t exist. Next you will be telling me that BDSM is not a thing because you find it personally distasteful. As i have said before reality does not give a fig about your opinions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Polyamory is a real

          It is, but that wasn’t even being punted too in the original comment…I don’t think…that’s skl’s twisted reading. Casual sex was my take on the original comment…there’s shed loads more of that going on than polymorous relationships. And in this day and age it is much more prevalent given all the tech at everyone’s hand. I dabbled a bit in it myself about 20 years ago when I first got on the internet and was free to do so. And quite enjoyable it was too until I got bored.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          Oh i quite agree, SKI is doing the usual of derailing a conversation by whipping out one of his preferred hobby horses and then flogging it, to mix a metaphor. I was addressing his banal comments rather than commenting on the op

        • skl

          “Nope, it is not a desire to kill children and end the human race, it is desire to have sex without the consequences.”

          So, we have both a desire for sex without consequences and a desire for children. I would agree with that.

          “Polyamory is a real thing that real humans actually do”

          So is bestiality.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          Some people have both, some people have one and not the other, it’s almost like people are complex and hence making sweeping generalizations about complex topics is a fairly silly thing to do.

          And yet these are not the same, one is unethical and immoral and one is not, would you like to play again and try to pick something that is not so laughably easy to dismiss. what are you going to do for your next trick? equate homosexuality with pedophilia

        • Ignorant Amos

          Engaging the idiot skl is like shooting fish in a barrel.

          I once thought he was being moronic on purpose, but not now.

        • skl

          “Some people have both, some people have one
          and not the other, it’s almost like people are complex and hence making sweeping generalizations about complex topics is a fairly silly thing to do.”

          I agree that the comment which started this thread –
          “The existence of abortion and contraception (neither of which are new), and the reality of infanticide (which is older yet), indicate that humans have an innate desire for sex but don’t necessarily have an innate desire for children.

          was fairly silly.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fuck all silly about it ya fuckwit.

          Human beings…at least the normal ones, enjoy having sex just for the fun of it.

          Lots of people couldn’t give a fiddlers fuck about having children, but still like fucking…or whatever else that floats their boat to get there sexual jollies.

          You do know why prostitution is the oldest trade, yes?

          How many Gay people are having sex for the procreation of children?

          You have no idea how much a complete moron you are…it’s very sad.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          you do realise that you are not making any sense. the op statement is very clear. you, on the other hand, seem to think that conversation is an unconnected series of statements. could you attempt to clarify your point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Beastiality isn’t consensual ya fucking moron.

          Do you have a special stupid school ya go to?

        • epeeist

          Do you have a special stupid school ya go to?

          He is somewhere in the crowd below:

          https://tommygirard.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/wicker-man-2006-burning-of-the-wicker-man-ending.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s a weeker…a mean wicker….

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          “Do you have a special stupid school ya go to?”

          Yeah, it’s called “church”. And based on skl’s posts, it’s the Catholic sort.

      • Anthrotheist

        You are hilarious. Surely you jest?

        So, humans have an innate desire to kill their little products of sex and so an innate desire to bring the family line, and the
        entire species, to extinction.

        How does that go exactly?
        “Oh, how I wish I had a baby to kill! But alas I do not. Darling, come to me, let us make a baby together so that we might kill it!”
        “Oh my dear, but we would have to have sex to do such a thing! How awful I tell you, I simply can’t stand the thought of it.”
        “Please, my love. My burning need for infanticide is too great to bear another moment.”
        “Very well, and only because I love you. Do try to be quick, and for pity’s sake don’t give me one of those dreadful orgasms.”

        And a man willingly offering his woman to other men (and his woman happily giving her man to other women) must therefore
        exist. Except it doesn’t, normatively.

        Aha! Yet another desire that has manifested in reality that must be natural and true! Slavery! Yes, the desire to own or possess another human being for one’s own benefit. That institution is also ancient, also reveals a desire, and must therefore reflect a real thing that fulfills that desire.

        Thank you, that was fun.

        • skl

          Surely you jest.

        • Anthrotheist

          Of course I am! The desire argument is a bad joke. But it’s fun to ridicule.

        • skl

          “a bad joke”

          Yes. Like
          “The existence of abortion and contraception
          (neither of which are new), and the reality of infanticide (which is older yet), indicate that humans have an innate desire for sex but don’t necessarily have an innate desire for children.”

          Much like
          And the existence of rape and murder (neither of which are
          new) indicate that humans have an innate desire for extreme and unreasonable violence but don’t necessarily have an innate desire for consent or for bodily protection.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Do you not understand the argument that is being made?
          Yes, the “Argument from desire” is garbage.
          Lewis’s logic leads to conclusions that conservative Christians would not accept, and ones that even moral people would not accept.

        • skl

          “Do you not understand the argument that is being made?
          Yes, the “Argument from desire” is garbage.”

          I find certain twisting of the argument to be garbage, as in
          Anthrotheist’s comment.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Then why don’t you show what is wrong with Anthrotheist’s reasoning, rather than supporting it?

        • skl

          I was never supporting Anthrotheist’s reasoning.
          Apparently you missed my sense of sarcasm.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Yes, you were. You were continuing to show how Lewis’s logic falls down.

      • Ignorant Amos

        So, humans have an innate desire to kill their little products of sex and so an innate desire to bring the family line, and the
        entire species, to extinction.

        Pure fuckwittery from the faux atheist again…that’s how we know your not an atheist…even the stupid of us are not as imbecilic as you are skl.

        The other clue is the Christian inability to read for comprehension. Something witnessed around here regularly. Moron.

        Do you know why most a lot of women have abortions? Do you know why a lot of folk use contraception? Do you know why a lot of the infanticide was committed?

        I’ll give you a clue…think resources and practicality?

        Many Neolithic groups routinely resorted to infanticide in order to control their numbers so that their lands could support them. Joseph Birdsell believed that infanticide rates in prehistoric times were between 15% and 50% of the total number of births, while Laila Williamson estimated a lower rate ranging from 15% to 20%. :66 Both anthropologists believed that these high rates of infanticide persisted until the development of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution. :19 Comparative anthropologists have calculated that 50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents during the Paleolithic era. From the infants hominid skulls (e.g. Taung child skull) that had been traumatized, has been proposed cannibalism by Raymond A. Dart. The children were not necessarily actively killed, but neglect and intentional malnourishment may also have occurred, as proposed by Vicente Lull as an explanation for an apparent surplus of men and the below average height of women in prehistoric Menorca.

        Infanticide continues today in some places because there just isn’t enough resources for everyone.

        And a man willingly offering his woman to other men (and his woman happily giving her man to other women) must therefore
        exist. Except it doesn’t, normatively.

        Where do you pull such mindfarts from skl?

        Try reading for comprehension and wise up fer feck sake.

        No strings sex doesn’t equate to an open relationship ya Bozo. No strings sex means having a good shag with no obligation on each party to hang around and the freedom to move on for another good shag with someone else, ya dopey tit.

        • skl

          “Pure fuckwittery…”

          And we’re done.

        • Susan

          And we’re done.

          Done with what? Your pure fuckwittery?

          Wouldn’t that be nice?

          Off you go then.

          No one will miss your pure fuckwittery.

        • Greg G.

          4 hours ago
          “Pure fuckwittery…”

          And we’re done.

          Hey, everybody say “Pure fuckwittery” to skl.

          Pure fuckwittery. Pure fuckwittery. Pure fuckwittery.

        • Is it a Beetlejuice kind of thing? He’ll go away?

        • Greg G.

          It could work two ways – either by a Beetlejuice curse/spell or by a mental situation that that has the same effect.

        • Susan

          either by a Beetlejuice curse/spell

          Every now and then, I wish curses would work (but only for me).

          or by a mental situation that has the same effect

          In a perfect world, everyone on the internet would say it and he would block them one by one.

          And poof! He’d disappear.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bob knows an easier and far more efficient method.

        • epeeist

          All Amos has done is identify you as a stupid cunt, the rest of us had done this long ago but were too polite to say it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope….ya dopey bastard….we’re not done. You might be done, but I’m not done…yet.

          Wherever I see you posting asinine shite, I’ll be calling you out on it. You don’t get to decide when I’m done ya oxygen thieving, knuckle-dragging, moronic cunt.

          I owe it to society.

        • Tommy

          And we’re done.

          Good. Get the fuck outta here.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          “And we’re done.”

          We pretty much all wish we could believe you when you say that. But we know your just a lying liar who lies.

      • Guestie

        Abortion is normative in human history.

  • Raging Bee

    Blaise Pascal proposed a “God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man.”

    So we yearn for a God who’s small enough to fit inside each of us? That says a lot…

    • Kevin K

      Mine’s filled with pizza. And Pringles.

      • Raging Bee

        SACRILEGE!!!

      • Greg G.

        In college, we bought Pringles mainly to have battles where we squeezed the container to fire the lids at each other. They didn’t give us our degrees until we stopped that.

        • Raging Bee

          Pringles — the least edible potato-based product EVER. Seriously, they never even advertized them as a tasty snack, just an elegant-looking symmetrical one.

        • Greg G.

          They weren’t even aerodynamic enough to be a projectile.

        • Raging Bee

          They weren’t supposed to fly, they were supposed to look pretty on a sterling silver tray.

        • It was just an excuse to eat salty greasiness. And, as you say, not particularly good salty greasiness at that.

        • Raging Bee

          WHAT salty greasiness?! That’s why they sucked — they didn’t have nearly enough salt or grease. If I want to eat potato-stuff without salt or grease, that’s what baked or mashed potatoes are for — with plenty of butter, of course, or gravy.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          And I used to eat the french fries that had fallen out of the frier cage and floated in the oil for a couple hours.

      • Well, that’s smart. It was empty, so you might as well use it for something.

  • Raging Bee

    Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists…

    Has this guy EVER experienced the phenomenon of wanting something and not being able to get it, or not knowing whether the thing/person/experience he wants even exists at all?

    Wishful thinking by any other name…of all the silly and ignorant things Lewis has ever been quoted as saying, this has gotta be the stoopidest.

    • LastManOnEarth

      Well, as Confucius says: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you might find
      You get what you need.”

      • Ignorant Amos

        Fer feck sake…a thought that was The Rolling Stones, dammit.

  • Raging Bee

    The only question left is our yearning for god. How likely is it that this one thing is a counterexample?”

    VERY likely, given that God is (real or not) so totally different from all the other things we yearn for…

  • guerillasurgeon

    “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. . . . ”
    He seems to know very little about my desires. The potential for satisfaction of some of them is infinitesimally small. 🙂

    • Zeropoint

      “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. . . . ”

      Wait, this means that hoverbikes and robot catgirl maids are REAL!

      • guerillasurgeon

        Yeah…. Come to think of it, I remember a headline in Popular Mechanics years ago that said something like “Where’s my Flying Car?”

        • Greg G.

          I think it is the liability issues more than the technological issues.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Hard enough getting drivers to keep an eye out for people to the right and left of them when driving. Wouldn’t want to have to add two more directions to that.

        • Greg G.

          People with jetpacks would be the pedestrians.

          People think about how it would be when there are a few dozen flying cars. What happens when there is three dimensional gridlock?

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          And even professional pilots, in air-traffic that is nowhere near as heavy as traffic on an average freeway, needs the help of air-traffic controllers to safely negotiate passage around airports.

      • Bob Jase

        Heck, I’d settle for a real catgirl.

  • Grimlock

    John Calvin referred to the sensus divinitatis God-detector—a sense, not of the environment like sight or smell, but of God.

    Fixed.

    • Kevin K

      My god detector is busted.

      • Greg G.

        You can have mine. I’m not using it.

      • Raging Bee

        How do you know that? Was it detecting gods before?

  • Grimlock

    Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. . . . If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

    Formalized, I guess this’d look a bit like this:
    1. The desires of creatures can be satisfied by something that exists in our world.
    2. Lewis desires within himself an experience that can’t be satisfied by something that that exists in our world.
    3. There exists something outside our world that satisfies the desire Lewis possesses.

    This… is a rather silly argument. While I might be constructing a straw man, I’m not really sure how to make this strong. Off the top of my head…

    (i) No distinction is made between different types of desires; desire for experiences, desire for objects, desire of states of existence, etc. Clearly this is rather too wide.
    (ii) Premise (1), even if we make it probabilistic, isn’t really justified.
    (iii) It seems blatantly obvious that experiences that are interpreted as being experiences of something transcendent exists. So the desire appears to be satisfied without the actual existence of something transcendent, and (2) is false.
    (iv) Let’s accept (1), and agree that our desires always can be satisfied by something in our world… How can one then generalize this so that a desire that is the exception from (1), rather than contradicting (1), means that a desire can be for something outside of – transcendent of – our world? That just doesn’t follow.
    (v) Some Christians will make a big deal out of some atheists – like Thomas Nagel – who claim to have a desire for a godless universe. Can this desire be satisfied? Unless a distinction can be made between this desire, and a desire for god, then the argument appears to be undercut.

    • Good point. Formalizing it does help shine a light on the flabby parts of this argument.

      • Grimlock

        […] the flabby parts of this argument.

        Does it have any other parts?

        There are, I guess, a couple of good things about this argument. One is that, when an apologist uses it, it’s a nice way to illustrate how low standards that apologist has. Another good thing is that it is a nice way to illustrate some objects that are analogous to objects to other apologetic arguments. For instance, the argument from desire appeals to how something is the case inside our world to generalize to something outside our world, while the Kalam appeals to something inside our world – cause and effect – in order to justify cause and effect outside our world.

  • skl

    “1. Why do we fear death?”

    The argument in question is the “argument from desire”.
    Point #1 could consequently be restated as
    “Why do we desire to live forever (and so, not die)”.

    I suspect the C.S. Lewis answer would be ‘Because eternal life exists.’

    “2. The puddle problem.”

    I don’t get this one. Puddles are not necessary for one’s
    happiness. I’m not aware of anyone desiring puddles. I’m aware of people desiring, usually, to keep their feet clean and dry.

    “3. Desire for God isn’t an innate desire.
    If the desires for food, water, sex and other basics are never fulfilled, the
    human race dies out.”

    You and me and, eventually, the entire human race will die out.
    But virtually all people don’t warm to this idea. And we return to #1 above.

    “4. This is just a deist argument.”

    Possibly so. But as in my comment on #3, we return to #1.

    “6. The Ontological Argument again? You can
    imagine perfect justice, world peace, or a loving god, but that doesn’t make
    them reality.”

    Neither does it make them not reality. The desire for these things could be considered evidence, however weak or strong,
    of their existence.

    “7. What is “innate”?”

    Good question. Possible answer: That which is normative in humans.

    A belief in god/gods appears to be normative in human history. True atheism continues to be ab-normal, a viewpoint espoused by a small
    percentage of the world’s population.

    “8. Don’t let your desires run away with you.”

    Virtually everyone would agree with this. But not all
    desires are created equal (e.g. desire for pornography vs. desire for truth).

    • Raging Bee

      How can you not “get” the puddle problem, when it’s pretty clearly explained here?

      A belief in god/gods appears to be normative in human history. True atheism continues to be ab-normal…

      Ignorance and irrationality appear to be normative in human history. True intelligence continues to be ab-normal. What was the point of that argument again?

      • A belief in god/gods appears to be normative in human history.

        And yet religion can’t even agree on how many gods there are.

        Some consensus.

        • Kevin K

          Poking other people with sharp objects is normative in human history. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        Poking the troll can be fun, its a shame they so quickly fall back on the pretense of stupidity and claiming all around them cant explain themselves

    • eric

      I don’t get this one. Puddles are not necessary for one’s
      happiness.

      [Facepalm]
      …just…
      [Facepalm]

      Bob explains it in the very next paragraph. Did you not read the next paragraph, or not understand it?

      • Raging Bee

        I really don’t think he understood what Douglas Adams meant. The satire was that far above him.

        • Susan

          I really don’t think he understood what Douglas Adams meant.

          No. This is skl. One of his strategies is to say “I don’t get it.”

          skl is a disingenuous weasel who likes to shit disturb.

          He likes to pretend he doesn’t get things, no matter how clearly people spell them out.

          It’s a game. He’s a complete ass.

          The best thing we can do is ignore him.

          He is more banworthy than many people who’ve been banned here.

    • I’m glad you’ve dropped the “but I’m totally an atheist!” shtick. It was tedious right from the start.

      I’d respond to your questions, but, as Raging Bee explained with one point already, it’s all there in the post.

      • skl

        No reason for you to be glad. Because I’ve never had a “but I’m totally an
        atheist!” “shtick.”

        I’m not an atheist. I’m just a nonreligious skeptic.

        No need to say anything more to you on your points. It’s already all there
        in my post.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      ‘Neither does it make them not reality. The desire for these things could be considered evidence, however weak or strong,
      of their existence.’

      This is not evidence for the existence of anything, weak or strong, stating a thing can be imagined (or desired) is not the same as evidence that it exists, otherwise there would be a good deal more dragons around these parts. reality does not give a fig what you want.

    • Guestie

      “A belief in god/gods appears to be normative in human history.”

      A willingness to say that one believes in gods appears to be normative. So is lying.

      “True atheism…”

      What the heck is that and how is it different from atheism?

      • Ignorant Amos

        What the heck is that and how is it different from atheism?

        That’s the doucheness of skl…deepity city. Maybe he’s the only “true atheist” and we’re all pretending.

    • David Peebles

      My interpretation of the puddle problem is not that we desire puddles, but that puddles think the universe was designed for them. Similar to the anthropic principle, which in essence says that the universe must have been designed for intelligent life (specifically, us). There’s something about that argument that I find extremely annoying.

      • skl

        Maybe you can say some words about Bob’s “Lewis imagined
        that hunger points to the existence of food, but it’s the other way
        around.”
        .

        If it’s the other way around, then Bob must mean that,
        because X exists, a desire for X must exist. I don’t agree with that. Perhaps you do.

        • David Peebles

          Please don’t guess as to what I agree with or don’t agree with. Your response to what I said makes no sense. The whole “desire creates existence,” or the other way around, is gibberish as far as I can tell.

        • skl

          So you’re saying Bob’s comment was gibberish, as far as you can tell.

        • epeeist

          Hey, skl is good with gibberish, in fact gibberish is what skl does best.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You realize that just because what we label food, isn’t actually it’s purpose for being here…right?

      • Ignorant Amos

        There’s something about that argument that I find extremely annoying.

        The unnecessary size of the feckin’ hole for starters. What sort of buck eejit digs such a big hole [universe] for such a small puddle [we humans]. Pure unadulterated nonsense of an apologetic argument.

    • “The argument in question is the ‘argument from desire’. Point #1 could consequently be restated as ‘Why do we desire to live forever (and so, not die)’.”

      I don’t know how anyone who’s really thought about it could retain that desire. But even before really considering it, it’s not something I’ve ever wished for. When I was a believer, Heaven was not a selling point. (Nor did Hell scare me.) I was a Christian because I thought it was the right way to live. A desire to live forever just doesn’t register in my brain.

      Now that I’ve actually given thought to the idea of living forever… no way would I want that! Of course, popular Christianity tells you you’ll be unimaginably amazed and happy to be at Yahweh’s throne and that the feeling will never go away, but that’s beyond my ability to imagine.

      • skl

        “Now that I’ve actually given thought to the
        idea of living forever… no way would I want that!”

        If one is greatly enjoying life, one normally doesn’t want the enjoyment to end. Such a one normally wouldn’t want to die in such circumstances.

        Perhaps you’re saying a) life is not enjoyable and so you want it to end, or b) life is enjoyable but you want the enjoyment to end.

        “… but that’s beyond my ability to imagine.”

        Perhaps you’re saying that if you can’t imagine something, it can’t exist.

        • Regarding the first “perhaps”, no. I enjoy parts of life, and of course there are the struggles as well, but life changes and remains interesting. The brevity of it makes it seem precious. Eternal life would not be precious at all, as it would be eternal, and one would truly have nothing to live for… for eternity!

          Regarding the second “perhaps”, no, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that there’s no appeal.

          You’re really into the deepities, aren’t you?

      • Pofarmer

        And the funny thing is, those that are supposed to believe they are going to live forever in Heaven, seem to be some of the most terrified of death.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Most people really don’t think about what forever entails…here’s a James Joyce quote I keep for these kind of occasions…

        “What must it be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell [heaven] forever? Forever! For all eternity! Not for a year or an age but forever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness, and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of air. And imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all. Yet at the end of that immense stretch time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been carried all away again grain by grain, and if it so rose and sank as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals – at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not even one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time, the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would have scarcely begun.”

        Heaven or Hell…an eternity of anything would eventually become a Hell.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Good question. Possible answer: That which is normative in humans.

      Like wanking…but not infanticide ya clown.

    • Ignorant Amos

      “2. The puddle problem.”

      I don’t get this one. Puddles are not necessary for one’s
      happiness. I’m not aware of anyone desiring puddles. I’m aware of people desiring, usually, to keep their feet clean and dry.

      Of course ya don’t get it…and you’re too dumb to go find out before cramming you’re foot in your mouth and demonstrating to everyone the arsehole you are…hilarious. Cretin.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDC_NcihiV8

  • Kevin K

    Shorter Lewis: There IS a pony under all that manure!!!

    I completely desire to be 6-foot-2 and have a 3 handicap.

    • Greg G.

      I am 6-foot-2 and have 3 handicaps. The first one was that I was born with no teeth.

      • I was born with no teeth.

        A handicap for you, perhaps, but not for your mother.

      • Ignorant Amos

        I have 3 handy caps in the cloakroom….well more than 3, but ya get the jest of it.

    • Raging Bee

      What if someone else wants his pony?

    • Zeropoint

      “I completely desire to be 6-foot-2”

      Yeah, being shorter would make some parts of life more convenient.

    • sandy

      Hey I’m 5 foot 7 and a One HNCP. Shorter IS better. lol

      • Kevin K

        The best I ever got to was a 10. I’m greatly impressed with anyone whose handicap is in the single digits.

        • Otto

          It took me the better part of 40 years to get to a 7, but the funny part is that when I quit caring as much (having a desire) about being good, and just played for the enjoyment, that is when I improved.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s not really all that uncommon, actually. I coach shotgun. We teach trap a lot to first time shooters. We sometimes play a game called “Annie Oakley” or knockout, where if the shooter before you misses you can knock that shooter out by getting that bird. It’s amazing how much better kids do when playing that game. The concentration changes and they are having FUN, not just repetitive rote shooting.

        • Otto

          I never used to drink when I played because I wanted to do well, I often did not do well and was grumpy. I finally let go of that and would have some drinks, either I did well and enjoyed a few drinks, or I didn’t do well and enjoyed a few drinks…it became a win-win.

        • Pofarmer

          No drinking and shotgunning, unfortunately. Lol.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Yeah, it’s not safe. You could spill your beer!

        • sandy

          Thanks. I’m a retired golf pro and as a lifelong golfer you quickly realize there is a god, the golf god and…he’s not very nice.

        • Greg G.

          All I know is that if the shot turns to the right, it is a slice. If it turns to the left, it is a hook. If it goes straight, it is a miracle.

        • Otto

          You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and 99% of the shots you do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Duffer!

  • Raging Bee

    I desire a body that stays young, healthy and energetic forever. So where is it already?!

    • Ficino

      It’s right here if you buy the supplements that I’ll sell you.

      • Raging Bee

        Will they make my dick bigger and reverse the circumcision?

        • Len

          God can’t grow lost limbs back, so I’d not hold my breath for your foreskin.

          On the other hand (in the other hand?) maybe he has to start small and work up to bigger things. I’d better stop now.

        • Greg G.

          God can’t grow lost limbs back, so I’d not hold my breath for your foreskin.

          Then how do you explain all of those foreskins of Jesus at the medieval churches?

        • Bob Jase

          Jesus was the penile version of the Hydra.

        • It’s a gosh-darned miracle, that’s how!

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’d 22 stitches that looked like a crown of thorns after the procedure….does that count?

        • Pofarmer

          Holy crap. A muslim guy here talks about a local man being found, I think in Pakistan, uncircumcised, and a mob basically grabbed him and did it with a machete.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is a medical risk factor to having the procedure later in life…even in the sterile environment of a hospital day procedure.

          Fuck that machete Malarkey…my eyes are watering just thinking about it ffs.

        • Greg G.

          A guy goes to the hospital and demands to be castrated. The doctors argue with him but he still demands a castration for his religious reasons. So they do it.

          He comes to in the recovery room and sees another guy who had just come from surgery. He says, “What kind of surgery did you have?”

          The guy replied, “I had a circumcision.”

          The first man says, “Dammit, that’s the word I was looking for!”

        • Sam

          Although, IRL, he’d have realised this once the procedure was explained to him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unless he was a follower of Attis of course.

        • heleninedinburgh

          You had a crown of thorns on your cock? You should have got in touch with the Vatican so they can award you a miracle certificate!* Mind you, they’d probably chop it off so that they could stick it in a church somewhere and have it start earning its keep. All that gold-plated shit’s got to be pricey, not to mention the massive payments to survivors of child abuse.

          *Quick OT on miracles. I had an argument with Dave Armstrong and Jim ‘argument from authority boy’ Dailey on Dave’s blog about medical miracles, and at one point said that I was open to believing in their god given enough evidence but would never worship it as if the stories in the Bible were accurate it belonged in Broadmoor. A quick quarrel with Dave over the morality of killing every single person in the world ensued. He subsequently copied the exchange (minus a couple of my points and a question which he hadn’t answered) into a new article without telling me. How exclusive a club have I (accidentally) joined?
          (Sorry that didn’t have much to do with lopping bits of people’s penises off.) /OT

        • Sorry–not that exclusive a club. I’m in it, and a few other commenters here as well.

          You would think that repurposing comments as a blog post, while technically probably legal, would need a warning up front (or request for permission afterwards), wouldn’t you? But that’s not have Dave rolls.

        • heleninedinburgh

          If I hadn’t gone back to check a link I’d never have found out that he’d… recycled the comment skirmish. (Upcycled? Downcycled?) The annoying thing was that he’d described it as ‘a conversation with atheist/agnostic (?) heleninedinburgh,’ when just by being polite he’d have been able accurately to describe his opponent’s views. Of course he might have wanted to imply that I was being evasive, there is that.

        • Dave gets the last word, and if you’re getting in too many words, he has a solution for that.

          I wouldn’t have thought that his asshole tactics (I’d say “hardball,” but that’s not really the right word) wouldn’t reflect well on the philosophy he’s trying to support, but if he wants to shoot holes in the bottom of his boat, whatever.

          What’s frustrating is that he’s a smart guy, and we could’ve had some back-and-forth blog posts exploring apologetics, but by the time he got into his “Bob is an Incredible Doofus” series, it was already clear that thoughtful debate wasn’t where he wants to go.

        • Greg G.

          (I’d say “hardball,” but that’s not really the right word)

          Spitball? Scuffball?

        • heleninedinburgh

          “he’s a smart guy”
          Bloody hell, he’s a master of disguise.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are in the “lying straw man club” with Bob S, so good company. That Dave Armstrong is a real lying for Jesus pious fraudster piece of shit fer sure.

        • MR

          I’m not sure how exclusive a club it is when virtually anyone who dares to challenge him is summarily packaged into a post and banned. It doesn’t take much to join!

        • Grimlock

          How exclusive a club have I (accidentally) joined?

          Not particularly exclusive. I got six or so such blog posts before I got banned.

          I hung around for a few months (until I got banned – not quite sure why, and he declined to explain when I asked). Based on that time I’d say there’s around a 50 % chance of getting such a post if you have an exchange on his blog.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Best thing that happened to me was a medical circumcision…though I didn’t think that at the time.

          P.s. the other thing is just fine,

    • Anthrotheist

      Surely you were paying attention?

      That body is in another world. Presumably you will go to that world after this one and it will be absolutely divine, just heavenly.

      • Greg G.

        1 Corinthians 15:51-54 (NRSV)51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

        “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

        Paul seems to have got that idea from:

        Daniel 12:2-3 (NRSV)2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

        But Daniel purports to have been written several centuries before Paul. Its prophecies are very accurate and detailed up to 167BC but completely wrong after 164BC. A sensible person would figure that the prophecies were written around 165BC. This was pointed out about 18 centuries ago.

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        Yeah, but if you can’t do anything FUN with that body, what’s the point?

        • Raging Bee

          Sure you can, but only if it results in pregnancy.

      • heleninedinburgh

        “absolutely divine, just heavenly.”

        Oh darling, it’s fabulous.
        As it were.

  • Polytropos

    This has to be one of the most ridiculous arguments for God in the history of theism.

    • Raging Bee

      Maybe it was carefully crafted to make all the other arguments look solid and unimpeachable by comparison.

      • Taneli Huuskonen

        Maybe all of them were.

    • Taneli Huuskonen

      The competition is fierce, though.

  • igotbanned999

    Christians do believe in magic though.

  • Sastra

    If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

    One big problem here is that the basic elements of people’s idea of God are not at all unworldly. The concept involves love, justice, authority, explanations, comfort, forgiveness, gratitude, parenting, beauty, awe, morality, and so forth. We desire these experiences in this life, they can all be satisfied in this life — and routinely are.

    The only extraordinary factor ‘God’ brings to the table is an implausibly massive abundance. Otherwise, God simply piggybacks on nature.

  • eric

    Ah yes, the sensus divinatus argument. But which way did Lewis go with it?
    1. All atheists are liars and secretly know God exists, and God damns us to hell for that.
    2. God took it away from us, and then damns us to hell for not listening to it
    3. We broke ourselves, it’s all our own fault for not having it, and God damns us to hell for that.
    4. You have to be Christian before you get it. Just try it!

    • Ficino

      With C.S. Lewis, I go as far as his argument that Jesus wouldn’t have been a lunatic on the order of the man who thinks he is a poached egg. Then I reach for my revolver.

      • Pofarmer

        Lewis seems really good at ignoring the obvious to make his arguments, although, granted, we’ve learned a lot about the Bible in the last 60 years.

  • Ficino

    Just this morning in Aquinas I was reading how human happiness will be incomplete if it does not consist in the vision of God. So, yeah, I want my happiness to be complete, so therefore it will be fulfilled in the vision of God. QED

    • sandy

      Apparently Paul McCartney found true happiness as he said he saw god on a drug trip years ago.

      • I hope he said Hi for me.

        • sandy

          I’ll pass that on.

      • epicurus

        He probably was thinking of John Lennon

        • sandy

          mmmm Paul thinking John was god? I don’t think so but then it WAS John’s band.

        • epicurus

          Sorry I should have posted the story of John announcing to the other Beatles that he was Jesus, then it would hsve made more sense. Here it is along with link:
          On 18 May 1968, Lennon summoned the other Beatles to a meeting at Apple Corps to announce that he was the living reincarnation of Jesus: “I have something very important to tell you all. I am Jesus Christ. I’m back again.”[41] The meeting was adjourned for lunch and Lennon never mentioned the subject again.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_popular_than_Jesus

    • Pofarmer

      I’m probably just missing something, but I’m not sure that even means anything.

  • Raging Bee

    If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world
    can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for
    another world.

    Translation: “I can’t handle this reality, therefore I was meant to be in another one.”

    Escapism romanticized is still escapism.

    • heleninedinburgh

      I wanted a three-inch-high talking cat which I could carry around in my pocket when I was little. Where can you get three-inch-high talking cats?

      • Ignorant Amos

        You’re a bit picky…where can ya get an any size talking cat?

        Anyway, yer showing yer age….that would be a 7.62 cm cat.

        • Otto

          So basically a cat you could fire in a number of guns?

        • Pofarmer

          That would be 7.62 mm cat.

        • epicurus

          African or European?

        • Pofarmer

          Mediterranean.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…your thinking of the NATO round 7.62 mm….my favourite calibre as the SLR was a stopping weapon, unlike that 5.56 mm piece of crap SA80 introduced during my time.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.56%C3%9745mm_NATO#Criticism

          Yer arms would be sore carrying a weapon that fired a 3 inch round.

          BTW…a gun is an artillery piece.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, firing 7,.62 cm cats sounds kind of fun, in retrospect.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Like those potato canons that is a thing over there.

          I could launch my daughters cat without a second thought. I hate the fucker and it knows it. She makes a beeline for me as soon as I walk into the house…pish taking bastard.

        • heleninedinburgh

          Yes, but employment laws…

        • Ignorant Amos

          No such thing in the third world…firing cats of any size with abandonment…hey, there’s an enterprise opportunity to exploit.

        • epeeist

          Something to remember, that: cats for missiles.

          Mervyn Peake,Titus Groan

        • Otto

          They tried halfheartedly to teach the metric system to us back in the 70’s…the results speak for themselves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Same here…except I had no choice but to adopt the metric from the imperial…still, that means knowledge in both…for what it’s worth.

          We still drive here imperially ffs.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Americans know that a “2 liter” is a unit of measure for soda, and a newton is fruit and cake.

        • Bob Jase

          Don’t forget that a meter is what you put quarters in so you can park your car and not get a ticket and a cubic centimeter, a cc, is what you type when you send a copy of a letter to someone other than the main addressee.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          And a joule is a pop-singer from the 90s.

        • Bob Jase

          I thought Joule was the name of the character Samuel L. Jackson played in Pulp Fiction.

        • epeeist

          Nah, it’s a brewery here in the UK.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or the metaphorical measuring instrument that explodes here on a regular basis when engaging fuckwit religidiots who abuse irony.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “2 litre” get it right…the French came up with it.

          Never heard of a newton fruit cake…internet thinks it might be a cookie.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          the litre might be the metric unit, but soda is sold in 2 liters.

          The Fig Newton (available in other flavors, but fig is the standard) had a series of commercials were people snootily insisted they weren’t cookies but were instead “Fruit and cake”

        • Ignorant Amos

          the litre might be metric unit, but soda is sold in 2 liters.

          Really? Naaaaaah….

          http://seesoftinc.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/coca-cola-2-liter-bottle-target-coca-cola-2-liters-as-low-as-each-thru-5.jpg

        • Will the US be dragged into a metric reality with soft drinks rather than logic?

          Whatever works, I guess.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          besides, I fully support the changing of spelling of foreign words so that they fit English norms (to the extent that they exist)

        • Ignorant Amos

          I go to the pub and drink pints….but I buy beer from the off-licence or supermarket by the milliliter, but when it reaches a 1000 milliliters, it miraculously morphs to a litre…unless I’m stateside of course.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. I build cabinets part time. I use European hardware that is all metric on the “32mm system” which is common in Europe. So I have a couple of tape measures that are both metric and English, and the charts for things like hinge setback and slide mounting have charts to convert metric to english. It’s a pain in the ass. lol.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A just got maself a new Kreg jig and and a can’t wait to get it into action.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, the Kreg jigs are pretty awesome. I used to use a biscuit joiner a bunch but it mainly just sits in the case now unless I need a completely hidden joint for whatever reason. The Kreg Jigs make finished ends on cabinets much less of a hassle.

        • Greg G.

          If you think the conversions are complicated in cabinetry, try landing a spacecraft on Mars. Even rocket scientists can screw it up.

        • epicurus

          I had a photo darkroom as a kid, and the measurement beakers would list British gallons quarts etc, but the American Kodak chemicals I bought listed American gallons etc. I screwed that up many times when I was mixing chemicals.

        • Pofarmer

          Speaking of chemicals. I’m a farmer. When mixing, a lot of the stuff I’m mixing is in so many ounces per acre. The problem is, some of it is fluid ounces and some of it is dry ounces, and 16 ounces per pound is WAY different than 128 ozs per gallon. I think I’ve messed up once, and luckily, it was converting from liquid to dry so I just wound up with a very low rate of one product on one field, instead of 7x.

        • epicurus

          My parents refused to use it – communist plot. I would always have to translate the weather forcasts for them from degrees F to C. Although, 40 below is the same in both, and we got our fair share of those days.

        • epicurus

          Just to nitpik I should have said C to F

        • heleninedinburgh

          I’m not being picky. If you were carrying a talking cat in your pocket, you wouldn’t want it to be six feet long. Especially if you were five. And in any case, I would have been prepared to accept a talking cat of any reasonable size, not necessarily exactly 7.62 centimetres.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yer just being daft now…who the fuck has a pocket that can hold a six foot cat…especially if they are only five foot….am 5′ 6″ btw…and a six foot talking cat is more practical if one wants to make money and go on tour.

        • heleninedinburgh

          No, I didn’t mean five foot, I mean aged five. It would be a bit more practicable if you were 5′. You would probably be able to construct some kind of pouch, even if it had to be disguised as a shoulder-bag or rucksack or something similar.
          Of course if you got a talking cat that could shrink and grow at will, that whole problem would be eliminated.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, I didn’t mean five foot, I mean aged five. It would be a bit more practicable if you were 5′.

          Even worse…what 5 year old has a pocket with space for a cat…period?

          You would probably be able to construct some kind of pouch, even if it had to be disguised as a shoulder-bag or rucksack or something similar.

          There’s a weight factor to be considered…unless the cat is indeed a pooka.

          Of course if you got a talking cat that could shrink and grow at will, that whole problem would be eliminated.

          Now yer talking…a still don’t like cats though.

        • Greg G.
        • Bob Jase

          You need to have several tabs set up in advance I believe.

  • eric

    C. S. Lewis said, “It would be very odd if the phenomenon called ‘falling in love’ occurred in a sexless world.”

    Well, he always was a bad science fiction writer. Took me about 30 seconds to think about how emotionally supportive partnerships could be a asset/adaptation for animals that reproduced through parthenogenesis. Doesn’t take much imagination to think of “you help my kid, I help yours.”

    • Grimlock

      It’s reminiscent of both his argument for God from universal morality, and the reliability of our cognitive faculties. All the arguments seem to rely on a rather limited conception of how selective pressure through an evolutionary history can form behavior.

      • eric

        All the arguments seem to rely on a rather limited conception of how selective pressure through an evolutionary history can form behavior.

        I think there’s also a huge dollop of confirmation bias going on. IOW the fundies we’re talking about are perfectly intellectually and educationally capable of understanding at least the basics of evolution, they just avoid putting the mental effort into doing so, in order to preserve their beliefs.

        As a great example, I give you skl, below, who evidently didn’t understand Adams’ puddle/Bob’s evolutionary argument in the OP, even for a trait as obvious as the adaptive value of feeling hungry. Think about that: he implies he doesn’t understand Bob’s response to Lewis’ ‘we feel hunger, so food exists’ argument, which is basically that feeling hunger is a useful adaptation. I look at that and I say to myself “which is more likely – that this is really beyond him, or that he reflexively rejects an argument included as part of an atheist post against theism?” Call me optimistic, but I gotta think it’s the latter.

        • Grimlock

          Agreed!

        • Pofarmer

          There’s a poster, I believe it’s Mathew Newland who posts on Strange Notions who told me that he knew God was real because he got this incredible warm feeling when he though about God. And I said, Oh, Ok, it’s like when you think about Grandma hugging you? And he was like, “No, No, No, it’s nothing like that.” So, the moron has basically conditioned a physical response into himself and things it’s something divine. This is apparently what advanced degrees in theology and metaphysics are good for.

        • Ficino

          I get incredible warm feelings from just thinking about kitties, and then when I play with and hug a kitty, desiderium in bono quiescit!!

        • Pofarmer

          xactly.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Cats torture their prey.

  • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

    While “falling in love” might be connected with the physical act of sex (though the two are not inseparable), what about strong bonds of friendship? Should we assume there is some direct physical act associated with that?

  • Bob Jase

    Damn but Lewis was nothing but the beta test for The Secret and a few dozen other wishful thinking scams.

  • RichardSRussell

    I continue to be puzzled over why C. S. Lewis is often considered the most compelling of all the huckster apologists out there. Maybe it was just that he was a better writer? Because he sure as hell isn’t a better logician!

    • Grimlock

      Maybe it’s because he sounds good to Christians? An accessible writer, perhaps? Also he’s famous, cause of, y’know, Narnia.

    • I’ve wondered that myself. Maybe he was a pioneer, one of the first to popularize these silly arguments?

      • Bob Jase

        Well he did have a British accent.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…he was a fellow Belfast man.

    • I agree. When I first started to realize that Christianity was bullshit and I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something, someone told me “read C.S. Lewis… he’s amazing!” This was a smart guy, too, but I read Mere Christianity and found it to have critical logical flaws. He claims every human has a common sense of morality so it must have come from a god, then turns around and says we’re all totally depraved. Can’t be both! In fact, it’s neither. Most individuals have an aversion to, and most cultures prohibit, murder, but there are still sociopaths who don’t comprehend sympathy. And beyond murder, I can’t offhand think of anything that would constitute a moral rule in common.

      So basically, because of the “that’s all you got?” principle, it helped me to deconvert.

    • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

      I guess because even atheists and lukewarm Christians may be familiar with Narnia and thus have a certain affection for Lewis, and they hope that affection will lead to people believing his arguments.

    • Doubting Thomas

      Because the rest of the apologists set the bar really low? It’s easy to be the best when everyone else sucks.

      • Ignorant Amos

        The thing is, Lewis isn’t the apologist that they all think he is…maybe they’ve read as much of his works as they’ve read their holy text…not much that is of course.

        • Pofarmer

          Lewis confirms what’s they believe, so, perfect.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The thing is, he doesn’t…at least a lot of not what they’re supposed to believe anyway.

        • Pofarmer

          You and I both know they pick and choose what to beleive anyway.

        • Ignorant Amos

          True dat!

    • Raging Bee

      Because he got famous for rewriting the Bible to make it more interesting to kids? That’s pretty much how my dad tried to introduce me to his apologetics: I was raving about the Narnia books, and he tried to say “Well, if you liked those books, you might like his apologetics.” He had to explain what “apologetics” was, and right away I knew it was bullshit. He gave me “Mere Christianity,” and I never read it.

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        If Christianity is so great, why does he have to apologize for it?

        • Raging Bee

          That was pretty much my reaction. I also noted that it was called “apologetics” and not “reasoned argument,” “proof,” or “information.”

    • eric

      Because Narnia!

      No seriously, I expect his success at writing children’s fiction with Christian elements made a much broader spectrum of people pick up and read his theology. And since for probably 90% of his readers that was the only theology they’d ever read, they thought it was great.

      • Raging Bee

        Perhaps he also got extra cred by pissing off the rigid doctrinaire old guard by re-packaging Christianity as adventure-fantasy stories for kids, with Jesus as a bold, inspiring lion instead of the sacrificial pawn preaching passivity and forgiveness. That made him look like a maverick inspiring kids to question “the Establishment,” even as he repackaged the established religion.

      • heleninedinburgh

        The only reason I read ‘The Screwtape Letters’ was that it was written by the person who wrote the ‘Narnia’ books so I thought it would be just as good and fun. All I got from it was that I would be tortured forever if I didn’t say the magic words, and it didn’t tell you the magic words, you were supposed to already know them, and I didn’t know the magic words so I would be tortured forever. I was seven at the time. So thanks for that, C. S. Lewis. Twat.

        • Pofarmer

          I think I started reading “The Screwtape Letters” once when I was in high school, or maybe college, and I was like, “What the hell is this shit?”

          I was an atheist long before I admitted it, I guess.

        • Raging Bee

          I saw the play. I might have found it convincing if I’d seen or read it when I was younger and still kinda-sorta-maybe thinking Christianity had to be true. Or…not. It at least pretended to be the work of someone who is definitely a believer, but thinking outside the rigid old doctrinal box and showing us God’s Plan from a new and (relatively) interesting angle.

        • eric

          The Screwtape Letters is great fiction compared to his sci-fi. Don’t pick it up. Don’t buy it. Not even for your enemies.

    • Pofarmer

      I was told yesterday that I just needed to read “Mere Christianity” with an open heart, that it was “Really Profound”. I kind of let it drop, because it wasn’t going to end nicely. But, Bleh.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Particularly by Catholics…to whom he had to be a heretic…as he was to most Christians.

      https://yuriystasyuk.com/cs-lewis-the-most-beloved-heretic/

  • “7. What is ‘innate’? Proponents of this argument list fundamental innate physical needs and drives like food, drink, sex, safety, and sleep. They may also throw in higher-level desires for beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship.”

    I was listening to a discussion about yawning on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast. Part of the discussion had to do with why we yawn when we see someone else do it, and the possibility was pointed out that there may be no benefit at all to it, but, rather, that it’s a side-effect of some other trait that evolved. Just because our minds are “wired” to do a certain thing doesn’t mean it necessarily serves a purpose.

    Atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes the heart to “flutter” rather than to beat in a solid rhythm, occurs when a nerve near the one that’s supposed to control the beat “learns” to do the same thing as a person ages. The ability of that nerve to do that may be the result the of evolution of a beneficial trait, but it doesn’t serve a purpose… it eventually causes death!

    It’s often impossible to say why or how some trait exists. People tend to try to speculate as to why or how something evolved, and make the mistake of thinking that the trait evolved toward a goal, i.e. the body could use this function, so it develops a way to do it. That doesn’t happen — ever. That’s not how evolution works. Evolution progresses when the results of mutations help an organism survive in such a way that it produces more offspring. It’s results based, not goal based. The ability to detect agency allows organisms to avoid danger, but it results in an over-abundance of caution, assuming agency where none exists. It’s easy to see why people would have started thinking there must be gods. It’s the by-product of a beneficial function.

    • Pofarmer

      Thing is, it’s not just people who yawn when other people yawn. Watch dogs. Or better yet, if you have a dog, yawn around your dog and see if he yawns back. It’s a trait much older than humans.

  • Douglas Bailey

    Even if you accepted the “god” desire, why would it be just one? Using the watchmaker analogy, there are different components made by different people and perhaps even assembled by different people. And “love” leads to sex, or is it the other way around? Doesn’t he really mean lust?

  • Rennyrij

    “Why do we fear death?” – I wonder if that is the real question. I wonder how many people really Fear Death, as opposed to Fearing The Process of Dying; that is, fearing the possibility of long suffering, of extreme, unremitting pain and the consequent indignities and loss of capabilities that all-too-frequently accompany dying. I would agree that the idea of dying before one is sure of their children’s abilities to fend for themselves in this world, and worries about other loved ones and friends, can be dismaying, but for one’s self, Death should be, if not totally welcome, certainly not something to fear.

    Rather than a “God-desire”, I think that we humans may feel, in differing amounts, a “need to say thank you” in certain circumstances, such as when something wonderful happens to us, or when we observe something from nature that amazes us, like star-filled night skies, or spectacular lightening, or the Northern Lights, and we are filled with awe. Since there isn’t a noticeable person to whom we can sensibly give credit for these things, we invent Super Notable Person(s). If we can get a whole community to “believe” in these Super Notable Persons, we’ve got a religion, and the community begins to depend on this religion to keep us together. We know we need community. We know we need to express gratitude. Religion is one way we may choose to fill those needs. Or we may walk a more honest and lonely road, and hope to find some community along the way.

    • “I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” — Woody Allen

      • Greg G.

        “Why should I fear death?
        If I am, then death is not.
        If Death is, then I am not.
        Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?”
        ― Epicurus

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Is this dying? Is this all? Is this what I feared when I prayed against a hard death? Oh, I can bear this! I can bear this!”

          –Attributed to Cotton Mather

          (this always struck me as a powerful statement, maybe in a EUREKA! kind of way…)

      • Greg G.

        Vae, puto deus fio. (Oh dear, I think I’m becoming a god.) –Vespasian, Emperor of Rome, on his death bed.

        • “Either this wallpaper goes or I do.” — last words of Oscar Wilde

          (Yeah, that’s right–you don’t want to play dueling quotes with me.)

        • Greg G.

          Don’t let it end like this. Tell them i said something. –last words of Pancho Villa.

    • Greg G.

      I wonder how many people really Fear Death, as opposed to Fearing The Process of Dying

      Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. –Isaac Asimov

      • Tommy

        But for many, Life is unpleasant, Death is peaceful, and the transition is violent.

    • Gary Whittenberger

      The desire (not need) to say “thank you” grows from a social context. The universe as a whole is not a social context.

    • epicurus

      I’m doubly chicken – I fear both the act of dying and the cold dark void of eternal death.

      • heleninedinburgh

        Scaredy-cat.

        • Lark62

          Just a word of warning. It is not an “honor” when Dave Armstrong uses and twists your words for a plagiarized blog post.

          There is a reason why no other atheists are commenting at Dave Armstrong’s site. He has a long track record of using an atheist’s words but banning them so they cannot reply. He will string you along for a bit, but sooner or later he will make a post that totally twists your words and you won’t be able to reply. But that won’t stop him from mocking you for not replying on a site you’re banned from.

          He did this to me, even bringing in out of context excerpts from posts I made on other sites. He mocked me for not defending myself, but he blocked me before using my words. He has done this to dozens of others.

          Just be careful. And if you can help it, don’t give him more fodder.

          (For obvious reasons, I couldn’t make this comment at that other place.)

        • heleninedinburgh

          Is Bob banned at Dave’s place?

        • Susan

          Is Bob banned at Dave’s place?

          Yes.

        • MR

          Oh, who isn’t?

        • heleninedinburgh

          I think I might ban myself from Dave’s, actually. This is a man whose pageful of links about how his god seriously totally really really really exists contains articles from the 1980s which assert that the Turin Shroud is authentic. There are people who are worth arguing with. There are people who are not.

        • Susan

          Oh, who isn’t?

          I first became aware of Dave Armstrong because of an exchange Andrew G. (Evil Overlord of Estranged Notions) had with him in 2015.

          http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/2015/10/galileo-vs-bellarmine.html

          You can read about that (in the link) and also about the exchanges others had (in the comments).

          (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named tries to frame it as an ingroup/outgroup thing as though Dave’s behaviour might be no different than Andrew’s.

          But that was a standard schtick of HWMNBN. And continues to be so. Thank goodness he was banned here.

          Other than that, the comments are an interesting read.)

        • heleninedinburgh

          Ah, thanks for that link.

          I love the fact that Dave calls his blog posts ‘papers.’ Do you think if I ask him nicely he’ll name me as a co-author on the conversation he ripped off, so I can put it on my cv? Any future employer will be impressed by my authoring a paper with renowned professional apologist Dave Armstrong.
          … ‘Papers.’ Bitch, please, build a bridge and get over yourself.

        • MR

          😀

        • That reminds me of a David Thoreau story. Apparently his publisher had him take possession of 800 copies of one of his books (I forget the circumstances). At a later date, he bragged to a friend (in jest, I’m sure) that he had a library with about 1000 books, 800 of which he wrote himself.

        • Sample1

          Still laughing at a new word DA used: sub-infallible.

          It evokes the nonsensical power of Poseidon at the tiller or the foam of doctrine evaporating upon the sand.

          Mike

        • Lark62

          Yes, and I understand it was long before he began his current series of “let’s misquote Bob” posts
          – in which he mocks Bob for responding.

        • heleninedinburgh

          My lack of god, what a tit.

        • Twice, in fact.

        • heleninedinburgh

          Twice? How does that work?

        • It doesn’t just happen, my friend. You have to earn it.

          I apparently got banned long ago, and then I went to make a new comment and was told I was banned. So I protested, and Dave released me from Ban Jail. Then I got banned again. (Will I never learn? Don’t contradict Dave!)

        • MR

          Don’t contradict Dave!

        • heleninedinburgh

          ” It is not an “honor” when Dave Armstrong uses and twists your words for a plagiarized blog post.”
          Well… I’m not honoured honoured. In fact I was a bit worried when I saw he’d ripped me off, since I thought he wouldn’t quote an argument that he hadn’t won.
          I was pleasantly surprised to find that that was not the case, and even with his editing (euphemism) he made himself look a pillock. Of course it is difficult to defend the proposition that ‘it’s morally right to kill everyone on earth,’ so he was at a bit of a disadvantage.

        • Otto

          >>>”Of course it is difficult to defend the proposition that ‘it’s morally right to kill everyone on earth,…'”

          I would be willing to place a large bet Dave brought up abortion rather quickly.

        • heleninedinburgh

          “I would be willing to place a large bet Dave brought up abortion rather quickly.”

          PING PING PING we have a winner! A round of applause for Mr Otto, please!

        • Otto

          He is like a doll with a pull string.

        • epeeist

          Of course it is difficult to defend the proposition that ‘it’s morally
          right to kill everyone on earth,’ so he was at a bit of a disadvantage.

          Didn’t his god do just that, or as near enough as makes no difference?

          Yeah, yeah, he is a Catholic and the story is just a metaphor it isn’t meant to be taken literally. Though what killing 99.99996% of the world’s population with the rest of the biosphere as collateral damage is a metaphor for escapes me.

        • Grimlock

          Though what killing 99.99996% of the world’s population with the rest of the biosphere as collateral damage is a metaphor for escapes me.

          It’s a metaphor for how overkill is a good thing.

        • Pofarmer

          and even with his editing (euphemism) he made himself look a pillock.

          He does that regularly but can’t see it.

        • Susan

          it is difficult to defend the proposition that it’s morally right to kill everyone on earth.

          That is a toughie.

          Bonus points for use of the word “pillock”.

          Perfect.

          🙂

  • wannabe

    How is the fact that billions of pagans, over the centuries, have found comfort in worshipping idols evidence for the existence of the god who prohibits worshipping idols?

    The Argument from Desire is, at best, an argument against monotheism.

    • Pofarmer

      I wish I’d had this yesterday when someone on facebook posted C.S. Lewis argument from Desire. That’s pretty great.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I passed a billboard today and apparently the world famous Christian apologist Kirk Cameron is coming to town later this month. This directly contradicts what I desire.

    • Ignorant Amos

      I’d say “world famous” is stretching it a wee bit.

    • heleninedinburgh

      Kirk Cameron’s billboard-worthy?

      • Doubting Thomas

        It was actually an electric sign in front of the church, but it was billboard sized and even had a picture of Kirk on it. It’s the kind of sign that lets you know that the churches around here aren’t hurting for funds.

        • heleninedinburgh

          And that shows you their priorities.

          Treasurer: Pastor, I’ve checked the accounts and we’ve got an extra thousand dollars! What do we do with that – shall we donate it to the soup kitchen?
          Minister: Nah, bollocks to those wasters. What we really need is a huge fucking picture of Kirk Cameron out front.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          But apparently they are hurting for taste.

  • Jessi Khan

    Haha apparently this person knows the desires of animals? Aaaay?
    So what was the point of this article? To pretend to be “rational” against philosophical thought/religious thought or to counter philosophy with philosophy?
    As if not being a believer makes one more “rational”..
    As if the counter theories presented here are anything more than just that..

    • Tommy

      What’s YOUR point?

    • Ignorant Amos

      As if not being a believer makes one more “rational”..

      You think believing that imaginary stuff exists is rational? Dime Bar.

      • Jessi Khan

        You think believing in nothing makes you “rational”? Or that *believing* something came out of nothing makes you smart? What a joke. Your username works for you..

        • Ignorant Amos

          You think believing in nothing makes you “rational”?

          Oh dear…what a wooden one. Who believes in nothing?

          Or that *believing* something came out of nothing makes you smart?

          But I don’t “believe” that something came out of nothing…creatio ex nihilio is a religious belief…try again. Btw, when was there nothing?

          What a joke. Your username works for you..

          I have to say, you are the quickest ever to fall for that one…hook, line, and sinker.

          I’m quite aware of the limitations of my knowledge. We are all ignorant about most things. You included. But ignorance can be remedied with learning. Your idiotic stupidity will take a bit more effort.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          What persons believe in nothing? I don’t know any.

          Don’t people who believe in God believe that he created something (the universe) out of nothing? Does that make them smart or the opposite?

        • Otto

          According to Christianity God created something from nothing, so it is rather ridiculous for you to say it can’t happen.

        • Greg G.

          He believes in everything that has a rational reason to believe it. There is nothing irrational about that. People who believe in things with no rational reason to believe it are the irrational ones.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You think throwing around strawmen in a way that vividly illustrates either your ignorance, your bad faith, or both, is helpful in any way?

          I mean, c’MON…that believing in nothing trope went out *decades* ago for anybody willing to examine the evidence.

          The only ones who still use it are YOUR KIND, who need it to strawman and demonize our moderate and reasonable position.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Believing in nothing doesn’t make us rational. Being rational makes us not believe in gods.

    • You have reasons for us to change our beliefs? Tell us what your supernatural beliefs are and give us good reasons to change. It’s easy.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Observation allows us to discern animals’ preferences.

    • Jessi Khan

      Actually the belief is that God CREATED something. Everything has a creator. So no, it’s not the same as a random poof that happened out of absolutely nothing and was done by no one.
      Not just a random poof that happened to create the universe without a purpose. It’s funny because to believers this is irrational.
      And no, you have no evidence to prove otherwise either. “For anyone willing to examine evidence”, isn’t that a strawman? lol.. What evidence do you have to prove that it DID NOT happen from nothing? And if you do have evidence, then you would have to prove where that something came from as well.

      Lol yeah “observation” allows one to know what the beliefs of animals are? So “rational”..

      As for the “ignorant amos” person, sure, we should all be learning. But many atheists are the arrogant ones pretending to “know” the answers yet not able to answer the simple “something out of nothing” argument. At least a lot of believers can admit that they *believe* a Higher Power (God) is the Creator.
      You should admit your beliefs too.

      Your idea of an arbitrary universe without any intelligent system behind it just does not work for everyone.

      Have fun.

      • epeeist

        Everything has a creator.

        Really? Got evidence?

        What evidence do you have to prove that it DID NOT happen from nothing?

        Ah, number 2 on the all time theist fallacy list, the illicit attempt to shift the burden.

        As ever, “he who avers must prove”. If you want to claim that the universe was created from nothing by your particular deity then the burden is yours to demonstrate this, not ours to show that it did not happen.

        As for me, I don’t know how the universe came into existence, but there again neither do you.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        “Everything has a creator.”

        As a good skeptic, I won’t believe this until you demonstrate it.

        And actually demonstrating it, were that possible, presents you with a paradox, because if EVERYTHING is ‘created’, then what created your ‘god’? And what created *that*? etc….

      • Everything has a creator.

        And modern physics says that some events have no cause. As usual, it gives evidence for this.

        How about you? Got any evidence?

      • Dom Saunders

        And I suppose you see dolphins and whales going to church everyday? That’s how you want to start off your argument?

        You just lost it by writing the first few words. Belief in a deity is not needed to survive in the world, contrary to other things we’ve developed desires for, like food, water, relationships, and sex. Hell, the fact atheists exist at all should prove that to you. As for why any of us are uniquely susceptible to deist beliefs, it’s because we’re naturally inquisitive. We have the intelligence to not only live and survive but also to contemplate our existences in ways most other animals don’t, and that often leads to an inflated sense of self-importance. There’s a reason god or most any other deity is spoken of in terms that would be used to only describe humans, or otherwise given qualities that would primarily subscribe to people.

        Basically, most of us can’t or refuse to see beyond ourselves and God or whatever you want to call it is a projection of that feeling. You practically screamed at Bob that you refuse to accept we live in a universe that doesn’t care at all people (i.e. “has an intelligent system”) and would moreover, be perfectly normal without us in it. That’s a projection of your own existential insecurities. That doesn’t mean a god or creator has to exist simply to fulfill that need for you, so grow up and get over it, or at the very least, don’t come here and talk down to people like you have all the answers. We don’t care what doesn’t work for you, all the article states is why this argument fails to hold up to common sense.

        Now you can go have fun, sis. Or better yet, just relax.

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        Everything has a creator

        Not really. Very few things have a creator.

      • Raging Bee

        The idea of a round Earth doesn’t work for everyone either. Your point…?

      • Doubting Thomas

        Everything has a creator.

        So who created god?

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Desire leads to pain and suffering. Oh wait, that probably belongs in the Buddhist section. But, regardless of where it belongs, that is how i feel on the matter. CS lewis although im sure he meant well, is not the best philosopher and i take what he wrote with a grain of salt.

    • Pofarmer

      Oh, I’d say he took himself pretty seriously.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Released today…I’ll just leave this here…

    The most recent British Social Attitudes survey reveals that the number of Brits who identify as Church of England has more than halved since 2002, falling from 31% to 14%.The sharpest decline happened among 45 to 54 year olds (35% in 2002 vs 11% in 2017). The proportion of people who describe themselves as Roman Catholic (8%), belonging to ‘other Christian affiliations’ (10%) and ‘of non-Christian faiths’ (8%) have remained fairly stable. 52% of people now say they have no religion, compared with 41% in 2002. Men are more inclined to say they follow no religion than women (57% compared with 48%).

    http://www.natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2018/september/church-of-england-numbers-at-record-low/

    That and this…

    https://disq.us/url?url=https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2Fe29aHS4zYZY%3AKMjs92A63_mS5OaO8f2Kef9UKpA&cuid=2796044

    …the day just gets better and better. A celebration is in order methinks.

  • Greg G.

    SMBC slays Calvinism in Dungeons & Dragons:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/cleric

  • Gary Whittenberger

    Another good article, Bob. I agree with you. I’d include this:

    Human persons are not born with a desire for God. Babies and young children know nothing about God. They have to be taught the concept. Some may come to wish and to desire that God would exist.

    • eric

      I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis to say humans have a natural, innate tendency to assume/attribute agency to the unknown. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it seems a reasonable evolutionary bias to expect. If the grass is blowing and one guy thinks “wind” and stays around while the other guy thinks “tiger” and runs, the first guy might be more accurate most of time but the the second guy lives longer. Finding God in the lightning bolt that hit your village is simply a side effect of the healthy paranoia needed to survive in a world where tigers not often, but occasionally, lurk in the grass.

      • heleninedinburgh

        Also the reason we have pareidolia.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        E: I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis to say humans have a natural, innate tendency to assume/attribute agency to the unknown.

        GW: That may be. I think there may be some evidence for this in children. It may, however, just be an overgeneralization from the parent concept.

        E: I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it seems a reasonable evolutionary bias to expect. If the grass is blowing and one guy thinks “wind” and stays around while the other guy thinks “tiger” and runs, the first guy might be more accurate most of time but the the second guy lives longer.

        GW: That may be true in general, but the other thing to remember is that every time there is a false positive, i.e. running when there is no tiger or similar threat, this takes energy, and the over expenditure of energy may work against survival. Imagine a hypervigilant or oversensitive primate who expends lots of energy and then has none to respond to a real threat. There is probably some kind of “break-even point” in the evolutionary “wisdom.”

        E: Finding God in the lightning bolt that hit your village is simply a side effect of the healthy paranoia needed to survive in a world where tigers not often, but occasionally, lurk in the grass.

        GW: Yes, we have a tendency to overgeneralize. Also, if we believe that a super-person is in control of the lightning bolts and other forces of nature, we may come to believe that we can pray and/or worship this super-person in order to influence it to favor us.

        • Greg G.

          GW: That may be true in general, but the other thing to remember is that every time there is a false positive, i.e. running when there is no tiger or similar threat, this takes energy, and the over expenditure of energy may work against survival. Imagine a hypervigilant or oversensitive primate who expends lots of energy and then has none to respond to a real threat. There is probably some kind of “break-even point” in the evolutionary “wisdom.”

          This tends to be a matter of the build of the creature. A bird that is built to fly away from danger does not have a skeleton that can survive heavy combat, so they usually fly to safety at the first hint of a threat. A bully bird can bully other birds. It has been shown that the flight-fight response is optimized for that scenario.

          An adult lion cannot be chased away from a kill by a single hyena but there is a ratio of hyenas to lions where lions will give it up.

          Natural selection is an excellent way to optimize the trade-offs.

          Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs plays a role, too. Hunger adjusts the risk-reward strategy. Safely starving is not a good evolutionary strategy.

        • Pofarmer

          Also keep in mind humans and other primates nearly always exist in groups, probably for this very reason. Now you only need one hyper vigilante individual to watch out for many.

        • Greg G.

          There are advantages to having eyes pointed in the same direction, but it would be easier to evolve that in a species that lived in a social group to watch one another’s backs than it would be to evolve another eye or two.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anecdote time.

          Back in the day when I was a young Sapper out on exercise, “stagging on” guard through the night while the rest of the troop got some much needed shut eye was a thing.

          The death stag, 02:00-04:00 and 04:00-06:00 hrs, was the time when ones HADD would work overtime. I lost count how many times I challenged a bush or a tree as it morphed right before my eyes into a potential enemy. Better to challenge a bush and stand the unit to, than everyone get wasted as they slept.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GG: This tends to be a matter of the build of the creature. A bird that is built to fly away from danger does not have a skeleton that can survive heavy combat, so they usually fly to safety at the first hint of a threat. A bully bird can bully other birds. It has been shown that the flight-fight response is optimized for that scenario.

          An adult lion cannot be chased away from a kill by a single hyena but there is a ratio of hyenas to lions where lions will give it up.

          GW: Yes, it may depend on the matter of the build of the creature, but I think the same trade-off principle would apply. In the end survival value (and reproductive value) is what counts, so the minimization of false positive and false negative errors in the right balance is what counts, given any creature build.

          GG: Natural selection is an excellent way to optimize the trade-offs.

          GW: I agree.

          GG: Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs plays a role, too. Hunger adjusts the risk-reward strategy. Safely starving is not a good evolutionary strategy.

          GW: I agree. If a species is always being over-reactive to threats, making many false positive errors, and feeding in interrupted, this can’t be a good thing.

        • Greg G.

          GW: Yes, it may depend on the matter of the build of the creature, but I think the same trade-off principle would apply. In the end survival value (and reproductive value) is what counts, so the minimization of false positive and false negative errors in the right balance is what counts, given any creature build.

          About 15 years ago, I read an article in a magazine that said some scientists used Games Theory to find the optimal strategy for fight or flight. Never fighting was not optimal when bullied but always fighting took away from time eating. Then they observed the behavior of birds and saw the same percentage of reactions as predicted. It was something like fight 5% of the time.

          I don’t recall whether it was Scientific American or something like OMNI. I got rid of those old magazines when I got married. It was for the better.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          That sounds accurate to me.

  • Otto

    It seems to me that what humans desire are answers to questions and we will make up the answer if one is not available.

    I think Lewis just assumed what the desire was because it fit the conclusion he wanted.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Why do we fear death? ”

    I don’t fear death because I do not believe I will experience death.

    The dying is another matter……

  • Clement Agonistes

    3. Desire for God isn’t an innate desire. The “hunger” for the supernatural has nothing to do with survival.

    Then where does it come from? Wouldn’t there have to be a survival benefit?

    4. This is just a deist argument. If you find this argument compelling, this should point you to deism. Like many other arguments, this one only claims that there is some anonymous clock maker behind the universe. There is nothing here to argue for the Christian god over any other god or supernatural pantheon.

    1. Deism – generally – argues that God does not interact with humans. A “call” is an interaction. It may be more than strict deism.
    2. If there is a good argument for a call to deism, then there is a good argument the call exists. From there we would begin the doctrinal arguments. In science, one answer merely leads to the next question(s).
    3. At deism, atheism has been rejected. It would be a good argument against your view.

    7. What is “innate”? Proponents of this argument list fundamental innate physical needs and drives like food, drink, sex, safety, and sleep. They may also throw in higher-level desires for beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship.
    7a. The apologist may respond that that might also apply to the higher-level desires such as beauty and justice, but this only makes the innate category seem more arbitrary.

    I’m not sure I get all of your point here. Beauty is something we all seem to view as a real thing, yet can’t really pin it down. “Show me the evidence” . . . . beauty exists. Well, it’s personal.. . . . accept my testimony . . . Yeah, it is kind of arbitrary. Now we are back to the analogous doctrines of beliefs about God – we would have satisfied ourselves that God exists, but are having a tough time nailing it down precisely. We’re then theists, arguing the details of theism, and no longer atheists.

    • Grimlock

      Then where does it come from? Wouldn’t there have to be a survival benefit?

      I suspect this means you accept the following proposition:

      Given naturalism and the theory of evolution, it is expected that every biological feature (including internal desires) has had some evolutionary advantage, at some point in an organisms evolutionary history.

      Is this, or some version of, correct?

      • Clement Agonistes

        You state it far more eloquently, but yes.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks.

          However, the proposition that I stated is false. There are many ways that such a feature can come about it other ways. Off the top of my head…

          1) Random genetic drift. If a feature in some environment is neutral with respect to selection, then it can – and if enough such features pop up, some will – spread through the entire population.

          2) A genotype can have multiple phenotypes. Meaning that a gene can express itself in many ways. It is the net effect of the ways that a gene expresses itself that determines whether it will be selected for. Meaning that if a gene has two effects – one advantageous and one detrimental in some environment – the gene will be selected for if the advantage outweighs the detrimental.

          Note that this is even more pronounced if the non-advantageous effect is simply neutral.

          3) Bi-effects. Presumably, we didn’t evolve our thumbs to easily type on a phone (such as I’m doing now), but it is undeniably a feature of my thumbs. Yet it was not selected for. Meaning that even though some part of an organism evolved due to a specific selective pressure, that doesn’t mean that part can’t be used for other stuff. Particularly, our brains are sufficiently complex and flexible that it’s no surprise they have bi-effects.

          This is a roundabout way of getting to it. But my point is that your objection relies on an erroneous premise, which basically boils down to a very common misconception of evolutionary theory.

          What do you think?

        • Ignorant Amos

          He knows already…

          3) Bi-effects. Presumably, we didn’t evolve our thumbs to easily type on a phone (such as I’m doing now), but it is undeniably a feature of my thumbs. Yet it was not selected for. Meaning that even though some part of an organism evolved due to a specific selective pressure, that doesn’t mean that part can’t be used for other stuff. Particularly, our brains are sufficiently complex and flexible that it’s no surprise they have bi-effects.

          Exactly.

          There is general agreement among scientists that a propensity to engage in religious behavior evolved early in human history. However, there is disagreement on the exact mechanisms that drove the evolution of the religious mind. There are two schools of thought. One is that religion itself evolved due to natural selection and is an adaptation, in which case religion conferred some sort of evolutionary advantage. The other is that religious beliefs and behaviors may have emerged as by-products of other adaptive traits without initially being selected for because of their own benefits.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology_of_religion

          Theory of Mind and Hyper Active Detection Device…may help explain it.

          http://www.humanreligions.info/hyperactive_agent_detection.html

          http://www.humanreligions.info/causes.html#Conclusions

          Clement has been on this merry-go-round, he is a dishonest interlocutor. Good luck on your journey with him. Let’s see how long your patience survive where others here have failed.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The exception to the rule was the kind of thing I was asking for.

          Your Point 3 used the example of thumbs and I certainly agree they did not evolve for the purpose of texting. I would argue that texting merely exploited an existing adaptation. I would speculate that the opposable thumb developed as an advantage at some point in human evolution – perhaps a climbing advantage. So, if I asked, “Where did it come from?” we have a plausible – albeit speculative – answer.

          I like Point 2, as well. The hunger for God (shorthand for a Supernatural Something) would be tied to some other characteristic that is a survival benefit – it is of no benefit (at a minimum), itself. Were we able to isolate the gene for that hunger and remove it, we’d discover the linked characteristic (since it is missing, too), as well.

          Neutrality (Point 1) also makes sense. Would it explain the ratio of hunger:not-hunger we are seeing?

          Bob asserted that the hunger is not innate, as a genetic characteristic would be. If it is not innate – natural – then what is it? It could be learned, but that seems like a natural explanation, as well. And, if the relationship between the hunger and some other – survival – characteristic is indirect, the relationship still exists, right?

        • Grimlock

          First off, can I take this as an assertion that you withdraw your commitment to this proposition?

          Given naturalism and the theory of evolution, it is expected that every biological feature (including internal desires) has had some evolutionary advantage, at some point in an organisms evolutionary history.

          Beyond that, your make some further remarks. I’ll note that my examples weren’t particularly fitted to the discussion of “desires” towards God. Regardless…

          1) I disagree that we’re seeing some specific ratio of desire for God vs a lack of such a desire, because I don’t find this alleged “desire” for God to be well defined.

          It would need to be specified in some detail, and I expect we would see, as you touch on, that this so-called “desire for god” is a melting pot of distinct desires. Such as a desire for belonging or control in the world.

          2) As noted, the alleged desire seems to plausibly be a collection of different desires. Calling everything that can be considered a desire for something supernatural a desire for God is also not something I find plausible. Theism is after all a small subset of supernaturalism.

          While I’m not a biologist, my understanding is that something as complex as a desire is expressed through the brain, which in turn is the result of many different genotypes, and not one specific gene.

          3) And I think that what a person calls a desire for god is an expression of the brain, which probably didn’t evolve to believe in supernatural beings. So, leaving aside numerous other problems with the argument from desire, we have a plausible, albeit somewhat speculative, explanation for desires of the supernatural. An explanation that doesn’t needlessly bloat our ontological commitments.

          Additionally, it is clear that our societal circumstances also impact our desires. An alleged desire for God can not easily be separated from the cultural context in which it originated. (This is yet another way the proposition in the beginning of this post is, if not erroneous, then misleading.)

          Bob asserted that the hunger is not innate, as a genetic characteristic would be. If it is not innate – natural – then what is it? It could be learned, but that seems like a natural explanation, as well. And, if the relationship between the hunger and some other – survival – characteristic is indirect, the relationship still exists, right?

          Here I think you’re being unreasonable in your interpretation of Bob. Reading it in context, it seems clear to me that Bob intends to contrast the alleged desire for god with the more basic desires with which such a desire is often compared. Your focus on whether the alleged desire can be considered natural or not strikes me as an irrelevance.

          I think this objection of Bob’s succeeds.

          What I think is required to move the discussion forward is one or more of the following.

          (I) A more detailed specification of what this alleged desire actually is. Is it a desire for a leader, as Jim Jones suggests above? Is it a desire for the community and societal support provided by Christianity? Is it a desire for moral certainty? (I don’t think such a detailed specification can be done without revealing fatal flaws in the argument.)

          (II) Some way to identify how common these desires are in the population.

          (III) An argument for why these desires can’t be satisfied in some other way.

          (IV) A comparison of the alleged desire with desires of a similar nature. For instance, a comparison with other comparably abstract desires.

          What do you think?

        • Clement Agonistes

          First off, can I take this as an assertion that you withdraw your commitment to this proposition?

          Given naturalism and the theory of evolution, it is expected that every biological feature (including internal desires) has had some evolutionary advantage, at some point in an organisms evolutionary history.

          LOL. No, don’t throw me in that briar! I, of course, don’t find Bob’s claims to be strong ones. Here, he presents 2 premises:
          1) Desire for God isn’t an innate desire, and
          2) The “hunger” for the supernatural has nothing to do with survival.

          If it is not “innate” (“inborn”; “natural”), I ask, then what is it – acquired; unnatural? Our discussion of genetics may be a red herring.

          His second point is the one we seem to have settled on. Your argument seems to be one of plausibility – we can speculate about plausible alternatives that are indirectly related to survival. We don’t KNOW that it has nothing to do with survival, but it is at least plausible that it might not. This sounds a lot like the argument in favor of God’s existence – since it is plausible and we can’t know for certain it isn’t true, then it must be true. I don’t think you guys really want to make this the standard for supporting claims.

          I’m pressed for time right now. I haven’t forgotten your other points, but before we go off on some interesting discussion, I didn’t want us to lose sight of the relevance to Bob’s original points.

        • Grimlock

          I can certainly agree to go back to Bob’s original point. But let’s not forget my original point, which was to rebut the proposition you commited yourself to. From your response, I’m not quite sure if you still hold it as valid. Do you consider the proposition you previously commit to as being valid? (I think it’s a fairly straightforward yes or no question.)

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t think that is being fair to you. YES, I reject the premise that the sense that God exists has a survival benefit! That makes my alternative more plausible. My purpose in asking was to see if you guys were giving that one up.

        • Grimlock

          That’s not what I’m asking.

          I’m asking whether you still accept this general proposition:

          Given naturalism and the theory of evolution, it is expected that every biological feature (including internal desires) has had some evolutionary advantage, at some point in an organisms evolutionary history.

          You said you held this proposition as true. Do you still do so?

          Basically, when acknowledging that this proposition is false (and that the mechanisms i outlined above are valid ways for features to develop), one acknowledged that on naturalism and evolution, features can develop that are not selected for.

          This has some interesting consequences, not just for the argument from desire, but also for Plantinga’s EAAN and moral arguments.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I think we have a miscommunication here. The proposition we have been discussing was the premise of my original question. It was not “my” proposition in the strictest sense that I created it. It is a proposition that assumes nature as the only reality. I, of course, assume there is more to reality. God most assuredly uses natural means to achieve His goals, but that is not the same as saying that nature runs on its own without divine influence. I could conceive that God might use genetics to implant the desire for God that we are discussing. It could also be some spark of inspiration that is individually implanted.

          My purpose in asking was to clarify Bob’s comment. He asserted as fact that the desire for God was not innate. He clarified by asserting as fact that it had no survival benefit. Given the naturalist understanding of reality (presumably Bob’s), this did not make sense. Clarification was needed.

          I can take the proposition or leave it. It does not impact my hypothesis one way or another. OTOH, it strikes me as crucial to the naturalist hypothesis. If you want to throw it under the bus, be my guest.

          You want a simple “yes” or “no”. I’m OK with either one. Yes, I accept it as a means of clarifying Bob’s comment. No, I reject it if ti rules out God’s influence.

        • Grimlock

          Perhaps we’re talking past each other. I’ll try again.

          Let the following proposition be called A:

          Given naturalism and the theory of evolution, it is expected that every biological feature (including internal desires) has had some evolutionary advantage, at some point in an organisms evolutionary history.

          I asked if you agreed with A, as it seemed to be an underlying assumption in something you wrote.

          You agreed to A. [1]

          I then explained why A is false. [2]

          Now I want to know if you have changed your mind about A, seeing as I put some effort into explaining why it’s false.

          Do you now consider A to be false?

          [1] https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/8_reasons_to_reject_c_s_lewiss_argument_from_desire_75/#comment-4085650496

          [2] https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/8_reasons_to_reject_c_s_lewiss_argument_from_desire_75/#comment-4085681269

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. You put me in the position of defending a proposition that I am happiest being untrue.

          2. Your “explanation” worked best as showing that it could plausibly be untrue under certain, specific circumstances. As logic, it is not a lock-solid guarantee of being true 100% of the time. The best it can do is give a high probability of being true. Assuming naturalism, that is sufficient.

          3. My agreement was that it was the underlying assumption of the proposition i was asking about. Yes, i agree with that. That has not changed. It is still the underlying assumption. You have not changed my mind that it was the underlying assumption. Your arguments against the proposition haven’t been THAT good. It’s not in my interest to explain to you why your objections are weak/invalid (see #1), but i am willing to do for the enjoyment of an good intellectual discussion.

        • Grimlock

          1. You put me in the position of defending a proposition that I am happiest being untrue.

          How so?

          2. Your “explanation” worked best as showing that it could plausibly be untrue under certain, specific circumstances. As logic, it is not a lock-solid guarantee of being true 100% of the time. The best it can do is give a high probability of being true. Assuming naturalism, that is sufficient.

          Not really. What it did was provide three distinct mechanisms by which evolution provides features that aren’t due to selection on those features. As proposition A was phrased as a general statement, this is sufficient to demonstrate that it’s false. If you are uncertain of any of the mechanisms, I can of course elaborate.

          3. My agreement was that it was the underlying assumption of the proposition i was asking about. Yes, i agree with that. That has not changed. It is still the underlying assumption. You have not changed my mind that it was the underlying assumption. Your arguments against the proposition haven’t been THAT good. It’s not in my interest to explain to you why your objections are weak/invalid (see #1), but i am willing to do for the enjoyment of an good intellectual discussion.

          Interesting. Turns out you misunderstood what I asked, then. That’s good to know. I am then left to wonder, on whose part was it an underlying assumption? Yours or Bob’s?

          Feel free to criticize any of my arguments. I really don’t see why you would prefer A to be untrue, though.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. You put me in the position of defending a proposition that I am happiest being untrue.

          How so?

          Let’s look at both claims:

          1) Desire for God is not innate. The alternative is that it is unnatural/external/not genetic. That opens the door wide open for it to be supernatural. I would prefer this option. I am happiest if an atheist sees ANYTHING as being of unnatural origin.

          2) DFG has no survival benefit. If this is true, then evolution has a tougher time explaining it. Again, the door that had previously been closed, locked, and barricaded has been cracked open. I’ve made this argument myself and been called a lying idiot for it. Now, the same people who called me names for saying this are nodding their heads in agreement. Why would I argue against my own position?

          2. Your “explanation” worked best as showing that it could
          plausibly be untrue under certain, specific circumstances. As logic, it
          is not a lock-solid guarantee of being true 100% of the time. The best
          it can do is give a high probability of being true. Assuming naturalism,
          that is sufficient.

          Not really. What it did was
          provide three distinct mechanisms by which evolution provides features
          that aren’t due to selection on those features. As proposition A was
          phrased as a general statement, this is sufficient to demonstrate that
          it’s false
          .

          Right – if it is false 0.1% of the time, that is sufficient to prove plausibility. If it is true 99.9% of the time, that is a “high probability”. Normally, I am the one arguing plausibility and the atheist is arguing probability. I’m loving this!

          Interesting. Turns out you misunderstood what I asked, then.

          Don’t think so. I think I understood you arguments, but didn’t find them that persuasive. You argued the exceptions, not the rule. DFG has not survival benefit . . . . except that it might be indirectly linked to one. “Maybe it’s wrong” is not a strong argument.

          And, why did you quote that paragraph of mine when it had nothing to do with your comment?

        • Grimlock

          Let’s look at both claims:

          1) Desire for God is not innate. The alternative is that it is unnatural/external/not genetic. That opens the door wide open for it to be supernatural. I would prefer this option. I am happiest if an atheist sees ANYTHING as being of unnatural origin.

          2) DFG has no survival benefit. If this is true, then evolution has a tougher time explaining it. Again, the door that had previously been closed, locked, and barricaded has been cracked open. I’ve made this argument myself and been called a lying idiot for it. Now, the same people who called me names for saying this are nodding their heads in agreement. Why would I argue against my own position?

          1) Except this is not something I’ve argued, and when considering how Bob uses “innate” in #7 (such as in 7a) clearly doesn’t mean that non-innate desires (in those terms) are “unnatural”. Not genetic, perhaps, because beliefs and desires are shaped by culture, but that’s not the same as unnatural. Those terms are vastly different from each other.

          2) Evolution has multiple mechanisms for explaining features that doesn’t have explicit survival benefits. I mentioned three mechanisms for this:
          a) Genetic drift (Wiki link)
          b) Selection on one of many phenotypes of a genotype.
          c) The adaption of existing general tools for new problems. (This one depends a bit on what one considers to be a feature.)

          The first two are well-established parts of the theory of evolution. They’re not new, they’re not surprising. It’ not a “crack” in the door – it’s the door not being there in the first place. I don’t know with whom you’ve been discussing before, nor do I particularly care.

          I’m not asking you to defend anything, though, nor am I asking about those two cases you mention here. I’m asking whether you accept proposition A as being true. I’m inclined to think that you do [not].

          Right – if it is false 0.1% of the time, that is sufficient to prove plausibility. If it is true 99.9% of the time, that is a “high probability”. Normally, I am the one arguing plausibility and the atheist is arguing probability. I’m loving this!

          Last I checked, it’s not clear to what extent these mechanisms affect the features. But sure, selection is probably the most influential of the effects. But that’s neither here nor there, as I was pointing out how the general principle is false.

          Don’t think so. I think I understood you arguments, but didn’t find them that persuasive. You argued the exceptions, not the rule. DFG has not survival benefit . . . . except that it might be indirectly linked to one. “Maybe it’s wrong” is not a strong argument.

          I discussed the general principle, not specifically as applied to the alleged desire for god. I believe I’ve made it clear that I don’t think there is one specific “desire” for god, and that the burden to establish that there is such a desire is square on the shoulders of the proponent of the argument from desire.

          And, why did you quote that paragraph of mine when it had nothing to do with your comment?

          To imply why I believed you held to that general principle, so it wasn’t entirely unrelated.

          I’m still curious as to on whose part you believe it was an underlying assumption, by the way.

          ETA: Was missing a “not” at a vital place. Change in [brackets]. Also added a missing parenthesis.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Right – if it is false 0.1% of the time, that is sufficient to prove plausibility. If it is true 99.9% of the time, that is a “high probability”. Normally, I am the one arguing plausibility and the atheist is arguing probability. I’m loving this!”

          Last I checked, it’s not clear to what extent these mechanisms affect the features. But sure, selection is probably the most influential of the effects. But that’s neither here nor there, as I was pointing out how the general principle is false.

          The nature of a generalization is that it is true most of the time, but has exceptions. You are pointing out that the generalization has exceptions. In an argument to probability, the generalization is sufficient. Given a choice of being correct 0.1% of the time or 99.9% of the time, which would you choose?

        • Clement Agonistes

          “And, why did you quote that paragraph of mine when it had nothing to do with your comment?”

          To imply why I believed you held to that general principle, so it wasn’t entirely unrelated.
          I’m still curious as to on whose part you believe it was an underlying assumption, by the way.

          You stated that my comment showed that I misunderstood what your were saying, but never pointed to anything in the quote that related to that conclusion.
          The underlying assumption – that we have been discussing – is that there is no relation between DFG and survival benefits as a justification for concluding DFG is not innate. Your counter is that . . . . maybe . . . there might be . . . an indirect relationship. Since, it might be false in some tiny fraction of cases, therefore the proposition has no value.

          My argument against probability is that the supernatural interacting with the natural world IS an unlikely event. The odds of a miracle ARE slim. The claim of theists is that such things are exceedingly rare. Assuming naturalism, however, probability makes enormous practical sense. Assuming the supernatural, no odds are so low as to be impossible. That’s why I threw in the modifier, “assuming naturalism”.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “1) Desire for God is not innate. The alternative is that it is unnatural/external/not genetic. That opens the door wide open for it to be supernatural. I would prefer this option. I am happiest if an atheist sees ANYTHING as being of unnatural origin.”

          1) Except this is not something I’ve argued, and when considering how Bob uses “innate” in #7 (such as in 7a) clearly doesn’t mean that non-innate desires (in those terms) are “unnatural”. Not genetic, perhaps, because beliefs and desires are shaped by culture, but that’s not the same as unnatural. Those terms are vastly different from each other.

          You don’t have to argue for my POV, just shoot down the argument against it. In my original post, I asked if it isn’t innate, what is it? I got no reply to that point.

          In my 3rd post, I said, “If it is not innate – natural – then what is it? It could be learned, but that seems like a natural explanation, as well. We’re finally back to coming up with an alternative – MAYBE it’s culture . . . . . as opposed to “learned”? And, no, as I pointed out, it IS natural. But, is culture genetic? Isn’t it a survival benefit; a spin-off of the genetic demand for leadership, companionship, etc.? We’re going to have to throw one hypothesis (stated as fact) under the bus in order to make room for another.

          And, as I discussed in a different post, Bob’s discussion in #7 is all over the place. He finishes with the highly-problematic, if animals don’t have it, it isn’t innate. 7a is about doubts about reality, asserting that if anyone doubts God’s existence, then the desire for God cannot exist. Hey, let’s subject my conclusions to claims that don’t have to be supported, too! If you got a coherent definition out of 7a that matches up with the dictionary, this is your mutant power. It looks to me like he was just stacking the deck there; setting up a false goal and then achieving it. He was not defining previous terms. You’re going to need to walk me through that one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I got no reply to that point.

          Lying cunt.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your reply was, “You’ve been told…a number of times…now here you are with the “reset button” pressed.

          LOL. You might as well have given me football scores. Pressing the “Reply” button doesn’t automatically make what follows a reply.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whether you agree on the explanation or not, don’t pretend ya never got one…ya lying cunt.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You have me on a technicality, counselor. A cat walking across the keyboard could make the same claim.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I have you lying yer arse off again.

          You agree with very little here, so strictly speaking, you could pull that defence everytime you lie.

          You hand wave away explanations right, left, and centre…but don’t pretend you don’t get any, that’s being a lying cunt and highlights your lack of intellectual integrity.

          Scientists are working on these mechanisms. They’ll probably one day nail it down, but they might not. That doesn’t allow you to shoe horn in your my-particular-god-did-it fuckwittery.

          Anything that has ever been investigated and resolved, the answer has never been a god-did-it…never, nadda, nothing, zero, zip, zilch…ever…in the history of mankind. The belief that a god-did-it has in each and every case been resolved by an alternative reason. Every time. So I have reasonable expectation based on prior probability that the answer to this question will not be a god-did-it.

          But if you have evidence to the contrary, put up or shut up.

          You claim to be on the side of science. At some point in our evolution we weren’t humans, there was no innate desire for something like a god to fill a god shaped hole. We were like all those other animals with no god desire. It developed as a bi-product of other evolutionary traits that were useful for something else. You don’t like the answer, but don’t lie like a hairy egg about not getting an answer.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Scientists are working on these mechanisms. They’ll probably one day nail it down, but they might not.

          Scientists are working on understanding God’s creation. They’ll probably one day nail it down, but they might not.

          There, now we’ve got Science Of The Gaps and God Of the Gaps covered. No matter what happens, each of us will be able to claim we were right all along. Truly, you are the Jar Jar Binks of this Star Wars episode.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whateva!

          It’s you that everyone is laughing at ya cretin.

        • Clement Agonistes

          No, no, like this:
          Me-sa tinkin’ it you-sa dat everyone be laughin’ at, you-sa poo-poo head. Oooh, moi.moi!

        • Ignorant Amos

          And still ya haven’t a valid response. Ya cretin.

        • Susan

          Your reply was, “You’ve been told…a number of times…now here you are with the “reset button” pressed.”

          No. While that’s a common reply to you (because you have shown a marked pattern of not supporting your points but returning to the reset button without shame.), that’s a separate issue from the fact that you did receive a reply to the “point” which you claimed received no reply.

          Pressing the “Reply” button doesn’t automatically make what follows a reply.

          No, it doesn’t.

          As you have demonstrated for over a year now.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It was an exact quote, Susan – of the ENTIRE post. Please, check into the facts if you doubt me. I did not edit out substance from Amos’ post (as if .. . . .).

        • Ignorant Amos

          This was discussed weeks ago….but the most recent reference was when I informed Grimlock that you were playing the silly bugger here….

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/8_reasons_to_reject_c_s_lewiss_argument_from_desire_75/#comment-4085770488

        • Clement Agonistes

          Amos, I am sure that you truly believe that you addressed the issue. You didn’t. I doubt if you even know what point you would have been addressing, much less what your cite was saying. No self-respecting atheist would equate “general agreement” with “fact”. Any discriminating reader would recognize “two schools of thought” means a maximum of one can be factual.

          I have no hope of making you into something you cannot be, but go back and read Bob’s point #7, and see if you can twist your response into fitting. The contortions you would have to go through to make it fit would convince any rational person that it was a pointless endeavor.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Amos, I am sure that you truly believe that you addressed the issue.

          Me, and others. Explained why gods are not necessary, for anything. Desire for a god is not innate in and of itself. It might be a bi-product created to fulfill more basic desires as one professor hypothesis’s.

          https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/611824/Why-humans-believe-god-Professor-Steven-Reiss

          You didn’t.

          Yeah, a did. A god belief is a bi-product of HADD and ToM.

          And I’m not alone…

          Psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists and even neuroscientists have suggested explanations for our natural predisposition to believe, and for the powerful role religion seems to play in our emotional and social lives.

          You might not like them, but they’ve been given. So quit lying about it.

          This particular latest attempt you make, supporting the argument from desire…is fuckwittery.

          https://tafacorianthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/a-critique-of-the-argument-from-desire/

          What is a desire and the problem with it?

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/hide-and-seek/201411/the-problem-desire

          I doubt if you even know what point you would have been addressing, much less what your cite was saying.

          Not a problem I’m struggling with, you on the other hand…

          No self-respecting atheist would equate “general agreement” with “fact”.

          Oh I think they would be okay with it. Facts are provisional on the evidence and they are derived from general agreement aka the scientific consensus.

          Apart from the fundamental inquiry into the nature of scientific fact, there remain the practical and social considerations of how fact is investigated, established, and substantiated through the proper application of the scientific method. Scientific facts are generally believed independent of the observer: no matter who performs a scientific experiment, all observers agree on the outcome. In addition to these considerations, there are the social and institutional measures, such as peer review and accreditation, that are intended to promote factual accuracy (among other interests) in scientific study.

          Any discriminating reader would recognize “two schools of thought” means a maximum of one can be factual.

          Correct…it’s called contrasting hypotheses…but none involve innate belief in gods. So whichever one wins the day, it won’t be a god-did-it as that has never been the conclusion of anything that we have ever concluded.

          I have no hope of making you into something you cannot be,…

          Something most of us here…even the most patient, discovered about you. You remain a dishonest turd. But maybe Grimlock will come up with the goods.

          It was Grimlock that most recently addressed the issue. I was pointing out that you had already been given an explanation from a scientific perspective…which of course, you have ignored each time it was presented.

          …but go back and read Bob’s point #7, and see if you can twist your response into fitting. The contortions you would have to go through to make it fit would convince any rational person that it was a pointless endeavor.

          I’ve no interest in engaging you on your terms anymore…you are a lying piece of shite. I’ll leave that to Grimlock. At least until he too see’s you for what the rest of us already have.

          Ignoring an explanation and claiming not to have received one, are not the same things. The later is a lie.

        • Susan

          if it is not innate-natural-then what is it?

          Innate and natural are not synonyms.

          If you are suggesting it’s “supernatural”, then, you will have to define the limits of “nature”, show where nature ends and supernature begins and show that a supernatural explanation is a good one.

          Something neither you nor Lewis do.

          Instead, you dodge requests that you define your terms and that you support them, and pretend that inserting a god of the gaps is an argument.

          It’s not.

          It never has been.

          It never will be.

          Take a month off and try to come back with something less fallacious.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Innate and natural are not synonyms.

          This is low-hanging fruit, Susan. Not only are they synonyms, “natural” is the very definition of “innate’. This points out how pointless it is to provide you with definitions because you plunge on with your denials regardless of how absurd your position has become.

          Challenging you to support your claims always gets the boilerplate “burden-shifting” accusation. I invite you to consult a dictionary to satisfy your demands, but you steadfastly refuse to seek out the facts or accept them when they are presented to you.

          If you are incapable of admitting even the most obvious factual errors, what chance is there that you would ever acknowledge a more nuanced error? You make it so easy to dismiss your arguments that you do more harm than good.

        • Susan

          This is low-hanging fruit, Susan.

          LOL. 😉

          NOt only are they synonyms, “natural” is the very definition of “innate”

          EDIT:

          No. “Innate” is not the “very definition” of “natural”.

          That’s why “innate” is not a synonym for “natural”.

          . It’s just a synonym in a very specific definition of many of the terms of “natural”. It is not the “very definition”.

          Paricularly when you seem to be trying to ask “If it’s not natural, what is it?”

          I flat out asked you if you are suggesting it’s supernatural if it’s not innate.

          If you’re not, then be more specific. “Not innate” is not equivalent to “supernatural”.

          I should point out here that you’ve never even defined God or supernatural, let alone shown them to be any sort of valid model.

          For more than a year, you’ve misrepresented physics, logic, morality/ethics and now, natural selection.

          Never once, have you made a case for your position.

          LIterally, not once.

          Just attacked strawmen and pretended that made a case for a “God” that you are unable to represent by answering a perfectly basic question:

          “What are you claiming and how do you support it?”

          Rather than answer, you accused me of shenanigans for asking what is considered in most fields to be a basic and charitable question.

          Challenging you to support your claims always gets the boilerplate “burden-shifting” accusation

          Pointing out that “innate” and “natural” are not synonyms is not an unsupported claim.

          You have shifted the burden since you got here. That’s why I keep pointing it out. You have never supported your deity. You don’t even have the wherewithall to define it

          you steadfastly refuse to seek out the facts or accept them when they are presented to you.

          Lol.. 😉

          You make it so easy to dismiss your arguments that you do more harm than good.

          Lol. ;-).

        • Clement Agonistes

          Susan, 2 days ago:

          It’s just a synonym in a very specific definition of many of the terms of “natural”.

          Susan, 7 days ago:

          Innate and natural are not synonyms.

          Say . . . . . anything.

        • epeeist

          Innate and natural are not synonyms.

          You know that, and I and just about everyone here knows that. But it isn’t going to stop Clement from using them as though they were and indeed using them as synonyms with any other words he needs to claim are the same.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I extend the same offer to you that I extended to Susan – go definition shopping, consult as many dictionaries as you want, searching for a definition that supports your claim, and present the one most friendly to it. FTM, since we are talking about “synonyms”, go thesaurus-shopping and present one that doesn’t have “natural” as a synonym.

          Of course, should you find that to be impossible, then you’ll understand why your argument-by-insinuation rings so hollow. You would not have to present a suggestion of my error if a true obvious error existed. Since you are using the same tactic on other points, those arguments will also ring hollow. This kind of thing would never pass muster in a scientific paper.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s all about the context though, isn’t it?

          Words are defined by their use in common parlance…dictionaries are guidelines.

          Natural is a related term of innate. Innate is a related term of natural.

          As adjectives the difference between innate and natural is that innate is inborn; native; natural; as, innate vigor; innate eloquence while natural is that exists and evolved within the confines of an ecosystem.

          In that context, is god belief innate or natural. I’d say that it isn’t there from birth. It is more the later. But it isn’t a natural state for all. It is a vestigial remnant of evolution that developed from HADD and ToM.

          Natural works and will probably be understood in context but natural can be interpreted to mean things other than possessed at birth. If your talent is playing the violin and my talent is shooting lightning bolts from my fingers, your talent might be called natural and mine might be called unnatural. Although it’s doubtful that either is innate.

          https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/99746/natural-vs-innate

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yeah, I couldn’t find a dictionary or thesaurus that supported you guys’ contention, either. The context of “inborn” works for my question about genetics also. I asked if it was not innate, was it something taught (like the violin), or unnatural (like lightening bolts from the fingertips). If it has a vestigial or indirect survival benefit, then Bob’s claim that it had no survival benefit component needs clarification.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you are using the two words as synonymous, then to what point?

          While natural and innate can be synonymous, they are not necessarily so.

          If you are using them as synonyms then you’ve committed a tautological pleonasm (see what a did there?) and it is a nonsense redundancy. So which is it?

          If it has a vestigial or indirect survival benefit, then Bob’s claim that it had no survival benefit component needs clarification.

          What had a survival benefit may not have been god belief in and of itself, but god belief flourished as a by-product from what had the survival benefit.

          This has been explained, but you just keep ignoring it.

          God belief is not innate, Hyper Active Detection Device and Theory of Mind are what is innate.

          There are a number of schools of thought, and it could be that all played a part.

          A by-product of our HADD and ToM.

          Adaptive value.

          Memes.

          The evolutionary psychology of religion is the study of religious belief using evolutionary psychology principles. It is one approach to the psychology of religion. As with all other organs and organ functions, the brain’s functional structure is argued to have a genetic basis, and is therefore subject to the effects of natural selection and evolution. Evolutionary psychologists seek to understand cognitive processes, religion in this case, by understanding the survival and reproductive functions they might serve.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology_of_religion

          These are the hypotheses scientists are looking into…none of them are the god-did-it hypothesis, because gods have never been the answer to why anything. Ever.

          http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/12/believe.aspx

          That god belief is innate is nonsense, because we have one example that proves it isn’t, and one example is all it takes to refute the hypothesis that god belief is an innate human trait.

        • Clement Agonistes

          If you are using the two words as synonymous, then to what point?
          While natural and innate can be synonymous, they are not necessarily so.
          If you are using them as synonyms then you’ve committed a tautological pleonasm (see what a did there?) and it is a nonsense redundancy. So which is it?

          It is more than just a synonym; it is the very definition:

          in·nate
          [iˈnāt]

          ADJECTIVE
          inborn; natural.

          If it has a vestigial or indirect survival benefit, then Bob’s claim that it had no survival benefit component needs clarification.

          What had a survival benefit may not have been god belief in and of itself, but god belief flourished as a by-product from what had the survival benefit.

          So, “what had the survival benefit” would be a direct benefit, and god-desire would be indirectly related to the benefit.

        • Susan

          and god leprechaun desire would be indirectly related to the benefit.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I stipulated as much early on.

        • Susan

          go definition shopping, consult as many dictionaries as you want, searching for a definition that supports your claim, and present the one most friendly to it

          Except that it’s standard to ask a person in the field of philosophy, physics, biology, etc. what they mean by the terms they use. It’s basic. If you can’t define your terms with some sort of precision, don’t use them.

          This kind of thing would never pass muster in a scientific paper.

          Give me an example of anything that passes muster in a scientific paper where the paper doesn’t refer to definitions that have already been agreed upon and/or in which the paper doesn’t have to go to some pains to define its terms.

          That you see it as a “tactic”, not a fundamental step, says much about your thinking.

          You won’t define your terms.

          When people guess, you say “nuh uh”.

          When people point you to standard definitions, you mock them and provide no further definitions.

        • Pofarmer

          So, you’ve read and understood Churchland et al. already?

        • epeeist

          So, you’ve read and understood Churchland et al. already?

          ROFL

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yes, and I think I’ve got a grip on it. What specifically would you like to discuss from it?

        • Pofarmer

          You’ve read “Braintrust”. In like 3 days?

        • Susan

          You’ve read “Braintrust”. In like 3 days?

          No.

        • Clement Agonistes

          More like 10 days. I’d prefer time to digest it, but if you are chopping at the bit, we can at least start discussing it.

          I thought it had a feel a lot like Dawkins’ Selfish Gene theme of self being served first, then offspring, family, clan, friends, community. Her twist was describing the motivation in terms of neurochemicals. As an aside, scientists can duplicate, to some extent, a spiritual experience by selective stimulation. LSD is famous for doing this kind of thing. So, what she is saying makes sense.

          I think you or Grimlock had commented on Plantinga’s rejection of pure chance evolution as an explanation for what we observe. The issue of whether God gave us some sort of undetectable spark, or whether He guided a tangible characteristic isn’t something I struggle with. In the theist view, there has to be an intersection between the supernatural and that natural at some point, or else we’d have no possibility of sensing its existence. I think this is at the core of what Lewis said and what Bob is arguing against.

          What did you get out of it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I thought it had a feel a lot like Dawkins’ Selfish Gene theme of self being served first, then offspring, family, clan, friends, community.

          You think that was the theme of The Selfish Gene? Wow…it’s even worse than I suspected.

        • epeeist

          Yes, it’s almost as though the comment had come from someone who hadn’t read the book but an apologetics review of it…

          Or alternatively, someone who had read it but didn’t understand it.

        • Greg G.

          I thought it had a feel a lot like Dawkins’ Selfish Gene theme of self being served first, then offspring, family, clan, friends, community.

          No, it’s gene first, and that’s it.

          Butterflies that taste bad to birds, live a while after laying their eggs. If it teaches a young bird that a butterfly of that color tastes bad by dying, that bird will not eat its descendants. That bird might live in the same area for many butterfly generations.

          Moths that rely on camouflage tend to die shortly after laying its eggs. It wouldn’t be good for a young bird to get practice recognizing the camouflage.

          It is about making more copies of the gene in whatever genome it is in. A gene for extended life is detrimental in one case and beneficial in another for making more copies.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But, but, but, Clement is so clever and he knows better.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My memory is certainly fallible, but I understood him to say that altruism (equating with morality – possibly a mistake) existed as genetics only as a means to the preservation and propagation of the gene. A spouse , for instance, does may be a different gene, but is necessary for propagation and survival of the gene. One would be altruistic toward the spouse for that – genetically determined – reason. The clan shares many genes in common, and offers protection. It is not as important as the immediate family, but is worthy of altruism to the extent that it can aid in survival of the gene. Churchland discussed it in terms of the neurochemicals produced by the genes.

        • Greg G.

          From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kin_selection

          J.B.S. Haldane in 1932 set out the mathematics of kin selection, with Haldane famously joking that he would willingly die for two brothers or eight cousins.

          This page discusses the quote and its variations more as literature but covers a lot of the science:
          https://quoteinvestigator.com/2016/05/05/brothers/

        • Clement Agonistes

          The point being that the more distantly related, the less valuable (to the DNA being propagated)?

        • Greg G.

          I do not recall that argument but I doubt that it would have used “spouse”.

          Aside:
          Last night, I got email notifications of replies in near real time, but I got this one about 18 hours later.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Guilty as charged, Greg. I am lazy, and used “spouse” as shorthand for “relationship as breeding and/or child-raising partner”.

          I’m baffled about the delay, but it’s possible that I got interrupted in the process of writing, and didn’t post it until much later. Then again, sometimes Disqus feels like demon possession of my computer.

        • Greg G.

          I have seen delays in the email notifications before but I have never noticed them being out of order before.

          Maybe they have different servers with different databases. When one stops sending emails, they may not notice immediately, then they have to reload the software to send out the emails from the database. But I am SWAGging.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Last night, I got email notifications of replies in near real time, but I got this one about 18 hours later.

          Happens to me quite regularly. Another thing that bugs the life outta me, is the send e-mail notifications field unchecks itself and it is a sudden lack of e-mails when lots are to be expected is what alerts me to go to my settings and recheck the feckin’ thing. Demon possessed Disqus…the Devil done it.

        • Greg G.

          I did the settings when Patheos switched to Disqus and haven’t checked them since then. I should check to see if there are improvements once in a while.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ave just got 4 notifications for comments posted a day ago by The Destroyer.

        • Greg G.

          I got one a short time ago. I saw it yesterday in Recent Comments. I think that is the last of them until he changes his socks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This brings me to the first point I want to make about what this book is not. I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave. … If you wish to extract a moral from it, read it as a warning. Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have a chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do. ~ Richard Dawkins, “The Selfish Gene”

        • Sample1

          Haha, I started reading your reply to CA thinking at first, for many sentences, that they were literally CA’s words (the italics threw me). By the fourth sentence I was thinking holy shit CA is making sense, he gets it! It was the strangest yet happiest sensation, to think a person had figured something out.

          And then I got to the last sentence (before seeing the true authorship) and my sense of elation dropped off faster than an spent erection. Hang on, I know this tune. I know these words. Dick Dawkins himself.

          Well, it was good while it lasted. 😉

          Mike
          Edit done

        • Clement Agonistes

          How does this quote support (and not contradict) your argument?

        • Ignorant Amos

          What argument of mine does it contradict?

          You wrote…

          I understood him to say that altruism (equating with morality – possibly a mistake) existed as genetics only as a means to the preservation and propagation of the gene.

          Not possibly a mistake, I was quoting Dawkins to show you are mistaken

          Dawkins doesn’t equate morality to altruism…because the one has nothing necessarily to do with the other.

          The empathy-altruism hypothesis states that empathic concern produces altruistic motivation. In this hypothesis, empathic concernrefers to other-oriented emotion elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of a person in need; it includes feelings of sympathy, compassion, tenderness, and the like. Altruistic motivationrefers to a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing the welfare of the person with the empathy-inducing need. Over 35 experiments designed to test the empathy-altruism hypothesis provide remarkably consistent support. One—possibly surprising—corollary of this hypothesis is that empathy-induced altruism is not necessarily a source of moral behavior. Like egoism, it can promote violation of one’s moral standards.Experimental evidence supports this corollary. The evidence suggests that altruism and moral motivation are distinct goal-directed motives, each with strengths and weaknesses as a source of moral behavior. Wise orchestration is needed to harmonize their strengths.

          http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969470.001.0001/acprof-9780199969470-chapter-2

        • Clement Agonistes

          My question related to your quote from Dawkins. In your quote, he mentioned altruism and generosity in the context of morality as being contrary to our genetics. Our biology would not be helpful to those – like Dawkins – who wished for there to be morality. In his series on PBS that I have been citing, I understood him to be saying that the only circumstances in which altruism would be genetic would be in the sense that the selfless act would promote a selfish end.

          Did I misunderstand either the series, or the quote you provided?

        • Sample1

          Well, you’re demonstrating some jumbliness of thought with group and individual selection ideas but that’s ok for now. You’re trying. Evolution is both easy to understand and also very slippery when delving deeper into its presumed mechanism of action: natural selection.

          One way to think of it is that an organism is the vehicle for its genes. Even if an organism only makes one generation and goes extinct that is a small success for that prior vehicle. Of course, we add the meaning that many successful generations is better than just one. But a gene doesn’t think, to anthropomorphise, beyond its next destination, it just has to get there once for evolution to technically take place. To support this one only needs to think about aging. Antagonistic pleiotropy is a term which means, briefly, genes can have more then one function. In early life one gene may be important for initial development of the vehicle but later, that same gene may be detrimental to the vehicle. As long as reproduction occurs before the detrimental gene can go to work, the gene survives. Take calcium. Early on, it is important for bone development in humans, without good bones we couldn’t get to mating age. But in advanced years the same calcium may be deposited in the vascular system, compounding arteriosclerosis, hardening of the arteries which increases mortality. So, one genetic trip, one destination is a success technically.

          Longer road trips by the vehicle allow for further destinations. And with further destinations come new opportunities for the genes. It may also help to think of genes as packets of information rather than objects (an orthodox view espoused by Williams though not sure by Dawkins, but probably). Longer trips, more potential information opportunities. At any rate, those opportunities manifest in all kinds of ways, including, for us, the vehicle, the imparting of human meanings about our lives. Those imparted meanings could be beneficial for even longer road trips or, also possible, they could mean the extinction of the genetic line (Shaker beliefs).

          If altruism is an imparted meaning we give at the large vehicle level and it works in one’s environmental niche, then all that means is the tiny packets of information, the genes, were successful in doing what they do. We could call that a selfish success for genes but of course, packets of information aren’t thinking, they’re just doing. At least, that is one way for the vehicle to use a manifested opportunity via longer road trips: reason and meaning, which we find useful and, well, even sexy.

          Mike

        • Clement Agonistes

          Please, set me straight if I make any mistakes, but I think the twist to Dawkins theory was treating it on the small scale – genes – rather than to large scale – species. I recall him also saying that he spoke in terms of anthropomorphizing the genes, but doing so as a shortcut of sorts to communicate the idea.

          Churchland, IMO, pointed to the products of those genes – chemicals. If the gene was successful (beneficial) in being passed on to future generations, then that explained why we see the chemical we see where we see them.

          You make an interesting point about the Shakers. They would seem to point to our ability to overcome our genetic instinct through some other factor. If we only sacrifice in order to see our genes thrive, then it is tough to explain sacrifices that accomplish the opposite.

        • Sample1

          Haven’t read Churchland but have been meaning to. Darwinian evolution is emergent from chemistry. It is a stand alone observation that meets its own experimental facts. I think when you go lower, to chemistry and certainly to physics you don’t have evolution in the same biological sense anymore. And that’s fine as long as you’re careful to see the reasons behind the distinctions. The important part is the scalability. Evolution is in harmony with underlying science even if that science isn’t about evolution.

          That scalability is utterly lacking for faith based models of reality. Whether that is a problem completely depends on what one finds intellectually honest.

          Mike
          Edit done. Shortened up.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Right – if it is false 0.1% of the time, that is sufficient to prove plausibility. If it is true 99.9% of the time, that is a “high probability”. Normally, I am the one arguing plausibility and the atheist is arguing probability. I’m loving this!

          Last I checked, it’s not clear to what extent these mechanisms affect the features. But sure, selection is probably the most influential of the effects. But that’s neither here nor there, as I was pointing out how the general principle is false.

          It’s false . . . . except when it is true. Let’s not mix our terms here. Your point is that when those exceptions happen, THEN the rule doesn’t apply. You can only say it is false in the sense that it is not true 100% of the time. This has the feel of one of those Capt. Obvious issues. Surely, we agree on this? And, ultimately, whatever truth exists must be applicable to the DFG (our topic), right?

        • Grimlock

          I’d appreciated it if you noted it when you made significant edits. As far as I can tell, you edited in this part:

          […] but that is not the same as saying that nature runs on its own without divine influence. I could conceive that God might use genetics to implant the desire for God that we are discussing. It could also be some spark of inspiration that is individually implanted.

          My purpose in asking was to clarify Bob’s comment. He asserted as fact that the desire for God was not innate. He clarified by asserting as fact that it had no survival benefit. Given the naturalist understanding of reality (presumably Bob’s), this did not make sense. Clarification was needed.

          I can take the proposition or leave it. It does not impact my hypothesis one way or another. OTOH, it strikes me as crucial to the naturalist hypothesis. If you want to throw it under the bus, be my guest.

          You want a simple “yes” or “no”. I’m OK with either one. Yes, I accept it as a means of clarifying Bob’s comment. No, I reject it if ti rules out God’s influence.

          I realized that you asked in order to clarify his position. Incidentally, I also asked in order to clarify your position.

          While it is a common position among theists that God somehow guided or tinkered with the universe, I find it to be redundant in terms of explanatory power. And redundant ontological commitments are something I prefer to dismiss.

          You mention that the proposition discussed, that I in my other response to this comment called A, is crucial to the naturalistic worldview. However, I explained to you various ways in which it is false on the naturalistic worldview, so I find this assertion of yours to be erroneous.

          As to whether it clarifies Bob’s comment, I don’t know. I don’t speak for him. I only speak for me.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’d appreciated it if you noted it when you made significant edits. As far as I tell, you edited in this part:

          Yeah, somehow that got posted in mid-sentence. I finished it a minute later. I don’t get the rationale for announcing a correction – is the thought that days later I would be changing what I said? I didn’t see it as a big deal, but I will make the effort in the future.

          Your explanations still didn’t shed light on the theme of “not-innate” that the sentence you would have been clarifying referred to. His “survival benefit” comment was a clarification itself – an aside, if you will – not the main focus. And, we’re still stuck with a claim supported by speculation, not science.

          Speaking of which, I edited this post to put a “/” before the final “blockquote”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t get the rationale for announcing a correction – is the thought that days later I would be changing what I said?

          Well that…and other deceptive reasons.

          I didn’t see it as a big deal, but I will make the effort in the future.

          Why does that not surprise me?

          So it wouldn’t be a big deal if someone went along behind your responses to their comments and changed them to make your responses look ridiculous and in doing so, making you look a prize dick to anyone reading the thread later?

        • Grimlock

          Yeah, somehow that got posted in mid-sentence. I finished it a minute later. I don’t get the rationale for announcing a correction – is the thought that days later I would be changing what I said? I didn’t see it as a big deal, but I will make the effort in the future.

          I consider it basic courtesy to facilitate an honest interaction. Whenever one makes an edit, it is clear that one cannot expect one’s discussion partner to be aware of the edit. Thus it seems reasonable to acknowledge the edit, both to acknowledge that it was indeed added at a later time, and to make it easier for other readers to understand the flow of a conversation.

          Your explanations still didn’t shed light on the theme of “not-innate” that the sentence you would have been clarifying referred to. His “survival benefit” comment was a clarification itself – an aside, if you will – not the main focus. And, we’re still stuck with a claim supported by speculation, not science.

          I wasn’t attempting to clarify Bob’s position with the explanation for why proposition A is false. I intended to explain why proposition A is false. As I’ve noted, I don’t speak for Bob.

          I’m not sure what claim to which you’re referring.

          You didn’t follow up on this particularly part of our exchange. (The innermost quote is yours.)

          I can take the proposition or leave it. It does not impact my hypothesis one way or another. OTOH, it strikes me as crucial to the naturalist hypothesis. If you want to throw it under the bus, be my guest.

          You mention that the proposition discussed, that I in my other response to this comment called A, is crucial to the naturalistic worldview. However, I explained to you various ways in which it is false on the naturalistic worldview, so I find this assertion of yours to be erroneous.

          Do you concede that A is not crucial to a naturalistic worldview, in light of my explanation of why A is false? (An explanation which basically boils down to how well-established mechanisms in the theory of evolution implies that some features develop for non-advantageous reasons.)

          I’d also like to follow up on this part from your previous comment:

          You want a simple “yes” or “no”. I’m OK with either one. Yes, I accept it as a means of clarifying Bob’s comment. No, I reject it if ti rules out God’s influence.

          (Emphasis mine.)

          I’m a bit surprised you don’t accept or reject a proposition on its own grounds. This could be interpreted to read that if a proposition somehow goes against your view of God, then that is sufficient reason for you to dismiss it. However, that doesn’t seem like a very charitable interpretation. Would you mind clarifying what you meant?

        • Greg G.

          Yeah, somehow that got posted in mid-sentence. I finished it a minute later. I don’t get the rationale for announcing a correction – is the thought that days later I would be changing what I said? I didn’t see it as a big deal, but I will make the effort in the future.

          The instant the comment is first posted, that version goes out as an email and any browser window on that page is open will receive that version as a new comment notification. Edits do not correct versions that have gone to someone else’s computer. Someone may respond to the version they received the next day. If you change it after the other person has quoted you in a reply, then one of you will look bad.

          If you note that you altered the original, it will be clear that neither person is being deceptive.

        • Clement Agonistes

          That makes sense. Thanks.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1) I disagree that we’re seeing some specific ratio of desire for God vs a lack of such a desire, because I don’t find this alleged “desire” for God to be well defined.
          It would need to be specified in some detail, and I expect we would see, as you touch on, that this so-called “desire for god” is a melting pot of distinct desires. Such as a desire for belonging or control in the world.

          It reminds me of the famous quote from the Supreme Court case on pornography – “I know it when I see it. I liked your “control” point. People long for some controlling force in the world that will set things straight in the end. When you go down the list of attributes of God, they all seem to center around this point. Even with Buddhism, this rings true.

          Bob asserted that the hunger is not innate, as a genetic characteristic would be. If it is not innate – natural – then what is it? It could be learned, but that seems like a natural explanation, as well. And, if the relationship between the hunger and some other – survival – characteristic is indirect, the relationship still exists, right?

          Here I think you’re being unreasonable in your interpretation of Bob. Reading it in context, it seems clear to me that Bob intends to contrast the alleged desire for god with the more basic desires with which such a desire is often compared. Your focus on whether the alleged desire can be considered natural or not strikes me as an irrelevance.
          I think this objection of Bob’s succeeds.

          Here is what Bob said:

          Lewis said,
          Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. . . . If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

          3. Desire for God isn’t an innate desire. If the desires for food, water, sex and other basics are never fulfilled, the human race dies out. The “hunger” for the supernatural has nothing to do with survival. Lewis doesn’t show that this very different desire for God logically fits in with the fundamental desires necessary for life.”

          I read Bob as pointing to Lewis’ claim that creatures are not born with desires unless a satisfying counterpart exists, and claiming the desire for God is not innate (inborn). So, he would be contrasting – as you say – a desire for God (not-inborn) with desires for food, water, etc. (inborn). Bob clarifies with his claim about survival benefit and says Lewis needs to show that a desire for God is necessary for life. I don’t even see how that relates to the contrast – all desires must be necessary for life? Surely, Lewis acknowledged that atheists were alive – he had debates with them. Lewis did not make the claim Bob points to. Logically, Lewis should not make that point. Yet, it is the argument Bob is knocking down. And, in your mind, Bob’s argument succeeds?

          The point about the desire being innate (natural; inborn) is in bold on Point #3. The entire paragraph is claims about the nature of the desire for God, contrasted with desires that are necessary for life. I agree with your interpretation that Bob is making a contrast, but my issue is whether his arguments are rational or not. He makes unsupported premises that do not follow logically. Map out Bob’s logic vs Lewis’. See which one makes sense and which one doesn’t.

        • Grimlock

          When quoting both of us, could you put the quotes in nested blockquotes?

          1) I disagree that we’re seeing some specific ratio of desire for God vs a lack of such a desire, because I don’t find this alleged “desire” for God to be well defined.
          It would need to be specified in some detail, and I expect we would see, as you touch on, that this so-called “desire for god” is a melting pot of distinct desires. Such as a desire for belonging or control in the world.

          It reminds me of the famous quote from the Supreme Court case on pornography – “I know it when I see it. I liked your “control” point. People long for some controlling force in the world that will set things straight in the end. When you go down the list of attributes of God, they all seem to center around this point. Even with Buddhism, this rings true.

          That quote by the Supreme Court strikes me as a bit of a cop-out by the SC.

          I don’t think you’re addressing my point, but that might be because I wasn’t quite clear enough. Let me try to rephrase a bit.

          When Christians are asked about why they believe they give various answers. Some do so because they find the idea of an unguided universe to be utterly baffling, others because they think it simply too unfair if there’s no eternal justice, and so on.

          To my mind, this translates to different needs. Needs for a sense of justice, or control, or moral certainty, or whatever. But these are distinct needs (or desires, if you will). They are not one specific need or desire.

          Do you agree?

          The control thing is fascinating. It’s probably why there is – as a general trend – more religious people where there is greater existential uncertainty. See for instance: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1069397111402465

          What this implies is that this need for control can indeed for most people be satisfied in the natural world. (As it appears to be so for a growing part of the population in secular countries, such as my own country where more than 40 % of the population does not believe in a God or a higher spirit.) So if it was supposed to be a need for god, it fails.

          Now you might object that perhaps not everyone can have this need for control be satisfied. This is true. But it also goes for other needs, such as the need for sex. So such an objection, while valid in a sense, rebut the greater argument. Oh well.

          (Yet another flaw of the argument – not all needs, even those allegedly capable of being satisfied by natural means, can be satisfied for everyone. Of course, we tend to refer to such individuals as suffering from some addiction or other ailment, like sex addiction.)

          What Bob wrote:

          “3. Desire for God isn’t an innate desire. If the desires for food, water, sex and other basics are never fulfilled, the human race dies out. The “hunger” for the supernatural has nothing to do with survival. Lewis doesn’t show that this very different desire for God logically fits in with the fundamental desires necessary for life.”

          Emphasis mine on what I think underlines the point that I consider to be valid.

          The argument typically compares fundamental needs, such as the need for sustenance, with the need for God. What I see this objection from Bob doing is undercutting this comparison, and thus undercutting the justification for why we’d think that every need has something that can satisfy it.

          I do think the way Bob phrased this objection was unfortunate. However, I don’t think you’re justified in equating innate and natural, as you do. Note that Bob elaborates on this in (7), which does seem to argue the same point, and it is clear that he doesn’t equate innate with natural.

          As for whose logic makes sense, I’ve found Lewis’ reasoning, as I understand it, to be somewhat sketchy.

        • Clement Agonistes

          What I think is required to move the discussion forward is one or more of the following.
          (I) A more detailed specification of what this alleged desire actually is. Is it a desire for a leader, as Jim Jones suggests above? Is it a desire for the community and societal support provided by Christianity? Is it a desire for moral certainty? (I don’t think such a detailed specification can be done without revealing fatal flaws in the argument.)

          IF we are using science, we need more than speculation. All speculation gets us to is a hypothesis. We need evidence, right? You are speculating that the desire for God may be an expression of some other gene (leadership, community). Have we even established that genes for such things exist? If it is linked to such a gene, then the desire IS innate – Bob’s point (3) fails.

          (II) Some way to identify how common these desires are in the population.
          (III) An argument for why these desires can’t be satisfied in some other way.
          (IV) A comparison of the alleged desire with desires of a similar nature. For instance, a comparison with other comparably abstract desires.
          What do you think?

          (II) I don’t think this is that difficult. 90% of people believe there is more to reality than the natural. I don’t think a complex definition is necessary.

          (III) Any satisfaction alternative is still an expression of the desire motivating it.

          (IV) I agree. Love, beauty, justice and knowledge were examples Bob mentioned elsewhere in the article. Are they necessary for life? Are they not-innate because they are unnecessary?

          My 2 cents worth . . . . . at a substantial discount.

        • Grimlock

          What I think is required to move the discussion forward is one or more of the following.
          (I) A more detailed specification of what this alleged desire actually is. Is it a desire for a leader, as Jim Jones suggests above? Is it a desire for the community and societal support provided by Christianity? Is it a desire for moral certainty? (I don’t think such a detailed specification can be done without revealing fatal flaws in the argument.)

          IF we are using science, we need more than speculation. All speculation gets us to is a hypothesis. We need evidence, right? You are speculating that the desire for God may be an expression of some other gene (leadership, community). Have we even established that genes for such things exist? If it is linked to such a gene, then the desire IS innate – Bob’s point (3) fails.

          I’ll note that we still don’t have a nuanced specification of the alleged desire for god. It seems to me that the proponent of the argument from desire is simply asserting that we have such a desire, without specifying what this desire actually is a desire for. As I’ve noted in other comments it seems clear that this desire is in fact multiple different desires.

          As for the part about genes, I’ll note that I stated that I think needs are expressions in the brain, which is a general tool, which in turn is the result of a number of genotypes. The idea that a single gene expresses something that complex strikes me as naive.

          As for the alleged failure of Bob’s point (3), you do not account for how he uses the term “innate”, as he elaborates on in (7).

          However, my main point here remains unanswered. Namely that alleged desires for God are multiple distinct desires, and that this ambiguity renders the argument from desire nonsensical. Unless you want to assert that it’s a common desire for there to be a maximally great being, who is a trinity, and who sacrificed himself for our sins. A desire that is separate from cultural contexts.

          (II) Some way to identify how common these desires are in the population.
          (III) An argument for why these desires can’t be satisfied in some other way.
          (IV) A comparison of the alleged desire with desires of a similar nature. For instance, a comparison with other comparably abstract desires.
          What do you think?

          (II) I don’t think this is that difficult. 90% of people believe there is more to reality than the natural. I don’t think a complex definition is necessary.

          (III) Any satisfaction alternative is still an expression of the desire motivating it.

          (IV) I agree. Love, beauty, justice and knowledge were examples Bob mentioned elsewhere in the article. Are they necessary for life? Are they not-innate because they are unnecessary?

          (II) You’re ignoring the related point about the need to distinguish different alleged desires for God. Once this distinction is done, one can investigate how frequent each of these needs are in the population. (One can then also see whether these needs vary in different populations – and if they do indeed differ, this implies that these needs can indeed be satisfied in the natural world.)

          (III) I don’t understand what you mean.

          If a desire that is alleged to be a desire for god, namely one that can’t be satisfied in the natural world, turns out to be a desire that can indeed be satisfied in the natural world… Why, that rebut the argument from desire.

          (IV) With respect to the innate part, see my other remarks about that.

          This comparison can’t be properly done until one has specified what the alleged desires for God actually entail.

        • Clement Agonistes

          IF we are using science, we need more than speculation. All speculation gets us to is a hypothesis. We need evidence, right? You are speculating that the desire for God may be an expression of some other gene (leadership, community). Have we even established that genes for such things exist? If it is linked to such a gene, then the desire IS innate – Bob’s point (3) fails.

          I’ll note that we still don’t have a nuanced specification of the alleged desire for god. It seems to me that the proponent of the argument from desire is simply asserting that we have such a desire, without specifying what this desire actually is a desire for. As I’ve noted in other comments it seems clear that this desire is in fact multiple different desires.
          As for the part about genes, I’ll note that I stated that I think needs are expressions in the brain, which is a general tool, which in turn is the result of a number of genotypes. The idea that a single gene expresses something that complex strikes me as naive.
          As for the alleged failure of Bob’s point (3), you do not account for how he uses the term “innate”, as he elaborates on in (7).

          1) I addressed #7 in my original post, and no one has commented on that part yet. He introduces new concepts in #7 that he excluded in #3. Had he included them, it would have given #3 a different context, and undercut his thesis in #3. IOW, if #7 clarifies #3, then #3 was invalid to begin with. . . . .as I have pointed out. I account for it.

          2) You keep demanding a more detailed definition for “Desire for God”. I have yet to see you make the case that such a thing is relevant to the discussion. Lewis is conceding from Square One that it is exceedingly subjective. We all know what he is talking about, so detail merely changes the subject instead of dealing with it. If Lewis’ logic is bad, there is no need to change the subject.

          3) I agree that thought is an extremely complex process. There are naturalists who will argue that our every thought is pre-determined by DNA. I think our thoughts are something unique and original to us, defining who we are separate from our DNA. . . . . . but then, maybe my DNA made me think that. I don’t think either side as conclusive science. We are speculating no matter what hypothesis we put forward – one gene/2/1 million – we don’t know. At some point, we would have to possess the science to distinguish on expression from potential links. Neuroscience is making spectacular leaps these days. Maybe we’ll know in my lifetime. To say – as fact – that the DFG is linked to some other survival characteristic still means a survival benefit and is speculative, not fact.

          (III) I don’t understand what you mean.
          If a desire that is alleged to be a desire for god, namely one that can’t be satisfied in the natural world, turns out to be a desire that can indeed be satisfied in the natural world… Why, that rebut the argument from desire.

          Your question was whether anything other than God can satisfy the desire. Yes, any of the myriad beliefs in a supernatural, controlling force could do that. Anyone looking for the counterpart for the desire is aware of the desire, or else they wouldn’t be looking. I think Lewis even stated that he thought mythology had its roots in a faint awareness of God. I guess the issue would be just HOW satisfying satisfying needs to be in order to qualify as satisfying. IMO, the person who looks at awesome beauty and has a spiritual experience is realizing a satisfaction of that desire.

        • Grimlock

          Nested blockquotes, please.

          1) I addressed #7 in my original post, and no one has commented on that part yet. He introduces new concepts in #7 that he excluded in #3. Had he included them, it would have given #3 a different context, and undercut his thesis in #3. IOW, if #7 clarifies #3, then #3 was invalid to begin with. . . . .as I have pointed out. I account for it.

          You did indeed make some remarks on #7. Yet as he there clarifies his use of the term “innate”, it clearly means that the way you’ve interpreted it is not the way Bob used it. That’s my point, not the validity of his argument in #7, and as far as I can tell, it is abundantly clear that you misunderstood the way he used it. If you’re neglecting to consider the terminology he uses and defines throughout the entire post, you’re not in a position to make assertion about how he uses terms such as “innate”.

          2) You keep demanding a more detailed definition for “Desire for God”. I have yet to see you make the case that such a thing is relevant to the discussion. Lewis is conceding from Square One that it is exceedingly subjective. We all know what he is talking about, so detail merely changes the subject instead of dealing with it. If Lewis’ logic is bad, there is no need to change the subject.

          As I’ve argued for why I think that the alleged desire for god is in fact multiple distinct desires (e.g. here), your assessment here is simply wrong. Or perhaps you didn’t read it yet.

          3) I agree that thought is an extremely complex process. There are naturalists who will argue that our every thought is pre-determined by DNA. I think our thoughts are something unique and original to us, defining who we are separate from our DNA. . . . . . but then, maybe my DNA made me think that. I don’t think either side as conclusive science. We are speculating no matter what hypothesis we put forward – one gene/2/1 million – we don’t know. At some point, we would have to possess the science to distinguish on expression from potential links. Neuroscience is making spectacular leaps these days. Maybe we’ll know in my lifetime. To say – as fact – that the DFG is linked to some other survival characteristic still means a survival benefit and is speculative, not fact.

          I wonder which naturalists take the position you name there. Probably not someone particularly updated on biology. It sounds more like a strawman than anything else to be honest.

          I have no idea what you mean by the last sentence.

          Your question was whether anything other than God can satisfy the desire. Yes, any of the myriad beliefs in a supernatural, controlling force could do that. Anyone looking for the counterpart for the desire is aware of the desire, or else they wouldn’t be looking. I think Lewis even stated that he thought mythology had its roots in a faint awareness of God. I guess the issue would be just HOW satisfying satisfying needs to be in order to qualify as satisfying. IMO, the person who looks at awesome beauty and has a spiritual experience is realizing a satisfaction of that desire.

          No, that wasn’t quite my question. Rather, I suggested that one way to move this discussion was the following:

          (III) An argument for why these desires can’t be satisfied in some other way.

          Which I elaborated on a bit. Let’s say, as we discussed above, the need for control is what someone interprets as a need for god. (You seem to acknowledge this implicitly above here.) As this need for control disappears, indeed – is satisfied – in the more well to-do nations in the world, it seems clear that this need can be satisfied without any supernatural sheenanigans.

          But that means that this desire can be satisfied by something in this world. So this alleged “desire for god” was no such thing.

          The same, I suspect, can be done for the other needs that people attribute to being a desire for god. This is related to the part of the exchange that you neglected to follow up on (where the inner quote is by me):

          (III) An argument for why these desires can’t be satisfied in some other way.

          (II) I don’t think this is that difficult. 90% of people believe there is more to reality than the natural. I don’t think a complex definition is necessary.

          (II) You’re ignoring the related point about the need to distinguish different alleged desires for God. Once this distinction is done, one can investigate how frequent each of these needs are in the population. (One can then also see whether these needs vary in different populations – and if they do indeed differ, this implies that these needs can indeed be satisfied in the natural world.)

          Basically, once one investigates what the alleged desires for god actually represent, I suspect that it will be clear that these needs – such as the need for control – can be satisfied in purely natural means.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Nested blockquotes, please.

          What does this mean? What am I doing that could be done better?

          1) I addressed #7 in my original post, and no one has
          commented on that part yet. He introduces new concepts in #7 that he
          excluded in #3. Had he included them, it would have given #3 a different
          context, and undercut his thesis in #3. IOW, if #7 clarifies #3, then
          #3 was invalid to begin with. . . . .as I have pointed out. I account
          for it.

          You did indeed make some remarks on #7.
          Yet as he there clarifies his use of the term “innate”, it clearly means
          that the way you’ve interpreted it is not the way Bob used it. That’s
          my point, not the validity of his argument in #7, and as far as I can
          tell, it is abundantly clear that you misunderstood the way he used it.
          If you’re neglecting to consider the terminology he uses and defines
          throughout the entire post, you’re not in a position to make assertion
          about how he uses terms such as “innate”.

          I need clarification here. What you are giving me is an assertion without the supporting evidence. IOW, I am wrong because . . . . you claim I am wrong. Let’s go to the source:

          7. What is “innate”? Proponents of this argument list
          fundamental innate physical needs and drives like food, drink, sex,
          safety, and sleep. They may also throw in higher-level desires for
          beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship.

          Here’s what Bob said about DFG in #3:

          Lewis doesn’t show that this very different desire for God logically fits in with the fundamental desires necessary for life.

          “Beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship” are not “necessary for life”. This is inconsistent with his definition in #3. We all know these concepts are real. They exist, but only in the mind. They are unlike food, water, etc. in that respect. We desire things which are tough to define, and the satisfaction for those desires exists also, but may not be tangible or easily defined.

          The evidence, IMO, is crystal clear. A simple claim on your part isn’t sufficient to counter this evidence. You need to present evidence for your claim.

        • Grimlock

          What does this mean? What am I doing that could be done better?

          Put one blockquote inside another blockquote when you’re quoting both yourself and me. Sometimes, when you cite me, you also cite what I responded to, which is fine, but you put both in the same blockquote.

          I need clarification here. What you are giving me is an assertion without the supporting evidence. IOW, I am wrong because . . . . you claim I am wrong. Let’s go to the source:

          You equated innate with natural. Here is how Bob distinguish innate from non-innate:

          7a. The category of innate desires is those things for which there is a clear target of the desire.
          […]
          7b. Everyone must satisfy the needs of hunger and thirst. Not everyone finds satisfaction for a God desire, and not everyone even has such a desire. The apologist may respond that that might also apply to the higher-level desires such as beauty and justice, but this only makes the innate category seem more arbitrary.
          […]
          7c. Another way of seeing the innate/contrived distinction is that the innate desires (for food, sex, and companionship, for example) are those we share with other social animals. Since no animal desires God, why call that desire innate?

          Clearly, these doesn’t exclude other desires from being natural in some sense.

          The evidence, IMO, is crystal clear. A simple claim on your part isn’t sufficient to counter this evidence. You need to present evidence for your claim.

          Fair enough. And you need to follow up on more of the threads of our discussions, such as…

          2) You keep demanding a more detailed definition for “Desire for God”. I have yet to see you make the case that such a thing is relevant to the discussion. Lewis is conceding from Square One that it is exceedingly subjective. We all know what he is talking about, so detail merely changes the subject instead of dealing with it. If Lewis’ logic is bad, there is no need to change the subject.

          As I’ve argued for why I think that the alleged desire for god is in fact multiple distinct desires (e.g. here), your assessment here is simply wrong. Or perhaps you didn’t read it yet.

          Note that my response contained a link to a specific comment.

          3) I agree that thought is an extremely complex process. There are naturalists who will argue that our every thought is pre-determined by DNA. I think our thoughts are something unique and original to us, defining who we are separate from our DNA. . . . . . but then, maybe my DNA made me think that. I don’t think either side as conclusive science. We are speculating no matter what hypothesis we put forward – one gene/2/1 million – we don’t know. At some point, we would have to possess the science to distinguish on expression from potential links. Neuroscience is making spectacular leaps these days. Maybe we’ll know in my lifetime. To say – as fact – that the DFG is linked to some other survival characteristic still means a survival benefit and is speculative, not fact.

          I wonder which naturalists take the position you name there. Probably not someone particularly updated on biology. It sounds more like a strawman than anything else to be honest.

          I have no idea what you mean by the last sentence.

          Your question was whether anything other than God can satisfy the desire. Yes, any of the myriad beliefs in a supernatural, controlling force could do that. Anyone looking for the counterpart for the desire is aware of the desire, or else they wouldn’t be looking. I think Lewis even stated that he thought mythology had its roots in a faint awareness of God. I guess the issue would be just HOW satisfying satisfying needs to be in order to qualify as satisfying. IMO, the person who looks at awesome beauty and has a spiritual experience is realizing a satisfaction of that desire.

          No, that wasn’t quite my question. Rather, I suggested that one way to move this discussion was the following:

          (III) An argument for why these desires can’t be satisfied in some other way.

          Which I elaborated on a bit. Let’s say, as we discussed above, the need for control is what someone interprets as a need for god. (You seem to acknowledge this implicitly above here.) As this need for control disappears, indeed – is satisfied – in the more well to-do nations in the world, it seems clear that this need can be satisfied without any supernatural sheenanigans.

          But that means that this desire can be satisfied by something in this world. So this alleged “desire for god” was no such thing.
          […]
          Basically, once one investigates what the alleged desires for god actually represent, I suspect that it will be clear that these needs – such as the need for control – can be satisfied in purely natural means.

          Do you concede that
          a) the need for a sense of control in the world is what some people consider to be a need for god, and
          b) the need for control appears to be able to be satisfied in the natural world?

          Or else, do you disagree with this?

        • Clement Agonistes

          How about if I put my context in quotes along with your reply?

          I need clarification here. What you are giving me is an assertion without the supporting evidence. IOW, I am wrong because . . . . you claim I am wrong. Let’s go to the source:

          You equated innate with natural. Here is how Bob distinguish innate from non-innate:

          7a. The category of innate desires is those things for which there is a clear target of the desire.
          […]
          7b. Everyone must satisfy the needs of hunger and thirst. Not everyone finds satisfaction for a God desire, and not everyone even has such a desire. The apologist may respond that that might also apply to the higher-level desires such as beauty and justice, but this only makes the innate category seem more arbitrary.
          […]
          7c. Another way of seeing the innate/contrived distinction is that the innate desires (for food, sex, and companionship, for example) are those we share with other social animals. Since no animal desires God, why call that desire innate?

          Clearly, these doesn’t exclude other desires from being natural in some sense.

          1. It doesn’t clarify.

          2. Your argument seems to be that Bob has a definition other than the dictionary definition. I am OK with that to some extent, since people don’t always use words properly. 7a might be defining a new term, “innate desires”, – “things for which there is a clear target.”. Now, maybe he is splitting hairs that people have different beliefs (doctrines) about the nature of God, so the target isn’t “clear”. I don’t think that fits what Lewis is saying. He clearly says God is the target. It is as clear as “food”.

          3 . 7b uses the food and water contrast. We are back to #3 and his assertion that it must be fundamental to life, itself. You told me that is not what he meant. Beauty and justice are not fundamental to life (as I pointed out), but this just makes the desire more arbitrary. Now there’s an assertion in need of clarification. With a wave of his hand, he dismisses what he says is the argument of the other side. They are desires, and they are analogous, but he has declared them arbitrary, and therefore won’t address them. “Arbitrary”, like defining words in ways other than the dictionary?

          4. 7c states that if animals do not have a desire for God, then the desire isn’t innate. Well, that rules out any number of innate characteristics of humans that are not shared. I get reamed out here for arguing that animals don’t have higher functions of humans. yet here, his comment is met with the sound of crickets as heads nod in agreement. Bob makes 2 logical leaps here that beg for support.

          about

        • Susan

          “Beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship” are not “necessary for life”

          That’s debatable. But as you are just handwaving toward abstract nouns, none of which are defined, and each of which deserves its own treatment, I’m afraid your handwaving (once again) won’t do.

          The evidence, IMO, is crystal clear.

          But you never provide any.

          A simple claim on your part isn’t enough to counter this evidence.

          What evidence?

          Exactly what are you claiming and how do you support it?

          You need to present evidence for your claim.

          Lol.

          Grimlock has presented lots of evidence.

          You have yet to do anything but attack strawmen and shift the burden.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship” are not “necessary for life”

          That’s debatable. But as you are just handwaving toward abstract nouns, none of which are defined, and each of which deserves its own treatment, I’m afraid your handwaving (once again) won’t do.

          LOL. You have a talent for self-parody. Great stuff!

        • Susan

          LOL.

          You’re not LOLing me, are you, you great big, fucking hypocrite?

          You have a talent for self-parody.

          No. I’ve just pointed out that all you have is handwaving. Doing something so obvious takes no special talent.

          Great stuff!

          Congratulations on your one-thousandth-and-something (gazillionth?) comment in which you fail to respond with any substance.

        • epeeist

          Congratulations on your one-thousandth-and-something (gazillionth?) comment in which you fail to respond with any substance.

          In a repellent sort of way it is interesting to watch him duck and weave, never answering, always seeking to obscure and fudge the arguments being made against him.

          Here is a person to who truth is unimportant, only to be used when it is in his favour. All he is concerned about is not allowing his dogma to be shown in a bad light and if this means he has to use a Christian version of Taqiyya, then so be it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I wrote two lengthy replies to his recent comments to me in reference to the Dawkins quote I cited from “The Selfish Gene”…I spent a bit of time going back to the book…I have the 30th anniversary edition, but I see there is a 40th anniversary edition…anyway, I cited a number of places in the book where Clement should be aware of the content of Dawkins position, if he’d read it…for comprehension that is…then I realized he really couldn’t have read it given his apparent lack of understanding, so why bother getting into it with him, life is too short, he’s nothing but a vampire sucking the life out of this forum. The lying cunt cherry picks what he replies to, avoiding the awkward stuff. So I’ll probably only address his mind numbing fuckwittery as and when I choose.

        • epeeist

          So I’ll probably only address his mind numbing fuckwittery as and when I choose.

          Personally I choose not to address his lying fuckwittery at all.

          I don’t choose not to post at No Longer Quivering, they just banned me for “mansplaining” about the Serena Williams fracas. From what I can see this means that a) I am a man and b) I had a contrary opinion to the one in the article.

        • Susan

          Frustrating.

        • epeeist

          But as you are just handwaving toward abstract nouns, none of which are defined, and each of which deserves its own treatment, I’m afraid your handwaving (once again) won’t do.

          And which he won’t hesitate to Humpty-Dumpty in a way that suits his purposes.

        • Jim Jones

          The “desire for god” is actually a desire for a leader to follow. Humans have a strong desire to join a team. Being expelled from a family, tribe or city was a death sentence for most of our existence. Think of any grouping of humans; not only is there a leader, there is almost always a special word for him (her).

          A god is the ultimate leader.

        • Grimlock

          I sort of agree?

          It seems plausible that what some calls a desire for god is in fact an expression of authoritarianism. Though I suspect that “God” is being used as a term for all sorts of desires and needs.

        • Jim Jones

          They can’t define ‘god’ in a sensible way.

          I can.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Then where does it come from? Wouldn’t there have to be a survival benefit?

      You’ve been told…a number of times…now here you are with the “reset button” pressed.

  • Raging Bee

    Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those
    desires exists. . . . If I discover within myself a desire which no
    experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is
    that I was made for another world.

    Did CS Lewis never meet a poor person? He sounds totally oblivious to the fact that there are MILLIONS of people who want all manner of things that either don’t exist, don’t exist in sufficient quantities for everyone who wants them, aren’t available in their areas, aren’t affordable to them, or are being forcibly kept from them by more powerful people. This sounds like the “best of all possible worlds” argument, made even sillier than it originally was (which might be considered something of a miracle).

    Can we retroactively give Lewis the Upper-Class Twit of the Year Award for whatever year he said that in?

  • Albionic American

    I don’t understand the appeal of C.S. Lewis’s works. I think of him as Jack Chick with a few more IQ points, an elite education in a useless subject and an inability to draw cartoons. But mentally they belong in the same ballpark.

    • epicurus

      I’m guessing it’s because his books came out in a less critical era, became enshrined in the apologetic canon, and now we are just arguing against ghosts. I think it’s the same with the old “how do you explain the empty tomb” business – an argument for a previous age when most believed the general storyline but just questioned a few supernatural elements.

      • Albionic American

        The tomb of the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae, Iran, has stood empty for centuries, but no one believes that it shows that Cyrus rose from the dead.

        • epicurus

          Might be different if a movement started and became influential saying he did.
          There is a good chance an Emperor is probably going to be put in an elaborate tomb, whether the one we now have is actually that exact one is questionable. With an illiterate peasant like Jesus, more likely a common mass grave or pit is a good or better explanation, making empty tomb moot.

        • Raging Bee

          Also, really famous people, especially kings, sometimes have multiple memorials built for them in multiple places, and later generations might mistake them for tombs, and then wonder why the person isn’t buried in them. (Westminster Abbey has several such memorials among the actual tombs — the ground floor is literally littered with them, it’s a messy hodgepodge that, IMHO, really borks the energy I normally feel in such cathedrals.)

          PS: Yes, Jesus may have been at the peasant level (or not, aren’t peasants part of feudal-agrarian societies?), but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t illiterate. The Bible at least says he was very well-read for his age, and argued with wiser guys about religious laws and writings, like the upstart punk he was.

        • Greg G.

          2. Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law.

          Oh, wait, that is from Josephus’ autobiography. Luke says Jesus was only 12 (a more “religious” number) when that happened to him and was missing for three days (blatant foreshadowing).

        • Raging Bee

          Are you kidding? Miley is alive and doing concerts all over the place! Oh wait, you’re not talking about that Cyrus? I’ll come in again…

        • Greg G.

          You have an Achy, Breaky Heart.

        • Clement Agonistes

          What made the tomb of Tut so remarkable was that it hadn’t been looted like so many of the others. It makes sense that the tomb of a rich man would be emptied. It doesn’t make sense that the tomb of a beggar would be emptied. You’re trying too hard. epicurus’ argument is better – there never was a tomb in the first place since there was never anyone to bury. It has fewer moving parts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It doesn’t make sense that the tomb of a beggar would be emptied.

          How many beggars could afford tombs? How would potential looters know a beggar was in a rich man’s tomb?

          You’re trying too hard.

          Nope…given the Christian assertion of an empty tomb…Devil’s Advocate.

          epicurus’ argument is better – there never was a tomb in the first place since there was never anyone to bury. It has fewer moving parts.

          Definitely. But a lot of Christian’s insist on an empty tomb, so what is the most pragmatic and reasonable probable cause. An executed dead man supernaturally rose miraculously and walked off…or what was a common enough theme in antiquity, the body was rogued by grave robbing looters?

    • The elite aspect is an important part, I’m thinking. Lewis was an academic at both Oxford and Cambridge.

      • David Evans

        So was Stephen Hawking. Going to a very good university does not necessarily give you elite attitudes.

        • The elite aspect I was talking about was how he was perceived, not how he acted.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Define elite?

    • Raging Bee

      To be fair, his Narnia books were far better written than any Chick Tract, and actually went a long way toward making Christ’s actual teachings (the bits our parents wanted to teach us at least) relevant and meaningful to kids who are starting to become responsible adults. His apologetics only got this far because they had a talking lion to ride on on.

    • David Evans

      English literature a useless subject. Really?
      I still re-read his The Discarded Image and A Preface To Paradise Lost. They help me understand aspects of the past, which might conceivably be useful.

      • epeeist

        English literature a useless subject.

        I took it to refer to theology rather than English Literature.

        • David Evans

          He had no formal education in theology. In fact he was an atheist from the age of 15 to 32.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Try reading for comprehension.

          AA said…

          I don’t understand the appeal of C.S. Lewis’s works. I think of him as Jack Chick with a few more IQ points, an elite education in a useless subject and an inability to draw cartoons. But mentally they belong in the same ballpark.

          By “works” we take to refer to his theological apologetic’s. Whether he had no formal education or not is irrelevant. Are you saying that his education in his knowledge of religion was not elite?

          He was the son of a C of I minister and lived in a highly religious household. His atheism and return to theism seem to bolster the issue of gaining an elite perspective.

          He had an honorary doctorate in Divinity from St. Andrews, so someone recognized his theological skills as elite. Theology qualifications aren’t really all that anyway.

          He is certainly considered one of the most elite, if not thee most elite, Christian apologist of his time.

          In fact he was an atheist from the age of 15 to 32.

          Yeah…we know.

          There has been some very in-depth discussion here on C.S. Lewis and his theism/atheism…maybe a catch-up is in order before commenting further.

          Michael Faraday had no formal education in science…would I be remiss in stating he still had an elite education in science? I don’t think so.

          But I’m going with your comment as just being a tad pedantic.

        • David Evans

          I think you are not using the word “elite” in the same way as AA. Honorary degrees are given for achievement. J. K. Rowling has honorary degrees. I don’t think AA was using “elite” as a synonym for “high-achieving”, I think he meant to imply that Lewis was out of touch with the common people, which would not be true of him (or of Rowling).

          “Are you saying that his education in his knowledge of religion was not elite?”

          I am saying he was not educated in theology as a member of a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society (to borrow a dictionary definition of “elite”). He often made a point of saying that he was speaking as a layman to other laymen, not as a qualified theologian.

          I don’t think I am being pedantic. Knowing that Lewis’s education and his scholarly works were in English literature I naturally took AA’s comment to be about English literature. If he had meant theology he should have been clearer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Could be…maybe AA will answer. But if that was his usage, it still doesn’t make your comment make anymore sense.

          His “elite” education does not necessarily entail qualifications in theology. His exclusive boys club of 16 years of talking things theology is sufficient for the elite descriptor.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The comment (about Lewis’ degree) was an effort to discredit the source of the argument rather than addressing the substance of the argument itself. The message was not well-received, so the decision was made to attack the messenger.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wise ta fuck up, will ya? Ya tit.

        • Sample1

          [URL=http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/AlaskanAtheist/media/Our-Discussion_zps6375f4c2.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o539/AlaskanAtheist/Our-Discussion_zps6375f4c2.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

        • Michael Neville

          Disqus uses HTML, not BB Code. I’d give your link in HTML but Photobucket wants me to disable my ad blocker, which I’m not going to do.

        • Clement Agonistes

          LOL!

        • Bob Jase

          Honestly there is no education in theology, only mental masturbation.

        • epeeist

          The OP did not refer to English literature but to his theological works. It was you who drew the conclusion that he was talking about English literature.

      • Albionic American

        I don’t see the accomplishment of getting degrees in a language you grew up speaking any way. Lewis’s contemporaries in the UK who studied the languages of the peoples in the British Empire as preparation for entering government service at least learned something useful.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s not what English Lit. is, that’s English Language…and learning a language is more than just knowing how to speak it…just saying.

  • Albionic American

    The bad apologetic arguments never go away, even when the Christians who use them know that they won’t hold up to criticism, because they continue to work on enough unsophisticated people in every generation.

    • Perhaps they’re more effective than you give them credit: they tamp down doubt in Christian minds (sometimes, anyway).

      • Raging Bee

        Or they help some Christians to tamp down doubt in their own minds, while feeling intelligent about doing it.