Open Thread: Battle Royale Edition

This comment was left on a different post by a visitor calling himself Ty:

I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world. I am 14, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. I’m almost offended that you could think there is no God. If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I’d like to hear your claims. No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would be irrelevant compared to the strong evidence of every prophesy that Jesus fulfilled perfectly. Please submit some feedback.

He indicated to me in e-mail that he was willing to return and give fair consideration to any responses offered to this question. We’ll see how that works out. Readers, have at it!

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://www.dvorkin.com David Dvorkin

    Burden of proof, Ty. It’s on you, not us. I want to see you disprove that Zeus is father of the gods. Or that everything was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  • whololo

    Anyone: What prophecies did Jesus fulfil, and what is the evidence that he did so?

    Ty: Why do you believe that Jesus was the son of God, and not for example that Mohammed was a prophet of God? I really can’t see how your belief is more credible than Islam or Hinduism, but I’d honestly like to hear it!

  • Tom

    What evidence is there that Jesus even existed, let alone was the messiah? All we have is a text that lists a lot of prophecies and myths mixed up with very probably biased ancient history, then asserts that a certain person existed and fulfilled those prophcies, attributing to him many unverifiable actions that have never been shown to even be theoretically possible. To make matters worse, Jesus shows similarities to many other mythical figures (born from a mortal and an immortal, virgin birth, astounding elders at a very early age, returning from death/the afterlife, transmutation, conversing with and outwitting/withstanding supernatural entities – even the crucifixion isn’t unique.) Since most of these figures are mutually exclusive and thus most of them must be fictitious, why should one particular one be given any credibility? Given equal treatment, and that most of these similar mythical figures must be false, surely it is most probable that they are all false.

    We do not have thousands of witnesses to the alleged miracles of Jesus, as some Christians proclaim; we have one single source, itself unverified, that claims there were thousands. We have no solid archaeological evidence even of Jesus’ existence, much less his divinity. The multiple accounts within the new testament contradict each other in the details (and since the four canonical gospels were interpreted by a single authority, they can only be taken as a single, secondary source anyway), and don’t even fit the original prophesies that well, if you go back and read them properly. This last, at least, is consistent with the alleged story of Jesus’ death. Why would the religious authorities and the mob fail to recognise their own messiah and subsequently kill him, unless he wasn’t as obvious a candidate for fulfilling the prophesies as everyone seems to think today?

  • http://stereoroid.com/ brian t

    Kid, you’re only 14! You don’t know anything about life, which is a good thing – it means there’s so much more fun stuff you ought to be doing, none of which will damn your soul to eternal damnation. If I was in your shoes, I’d be furious at my parents and other “elders” for brainwashing me with poisonous ideas.

  • Hydra

    Even assuming the prophecy thing works out, and I don’t think it does, (see http://www.fstdt.com/winace/napoleon_messiah.htm) how on Earth does one make the extremely dubious logical leap from a man getting executed to a man/God getting executed, then ascending to heaven to determine who shall go to heaven and who shall go to hell?

    Or for that matter, why should any claim in the Bible should be taken at face value? Especially considering that dozens of other holy books make similarly imaginative but mutually exclusive claims? On what basis does one believe one and disbelieve all else?

    It’d be interesting to see this argument fleshed out some more.

  • http://kozue.wordpress.com Anino

    Ty, I would recommend taking some time to read through this website thats called “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?”. Since you mentioned that Jesus fulfilled so many prophecies, I’ll direct you to this page as a starting point: http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/god23.htm

    This website is for Christians who are strong enough in their faith to actually challenge and test some of the things that they hold true. I believe you’re a smart kid and you’re not afraid of a challenge. So why not test your beliefs? If the word of God is the truth, if Jesus Christ indeed is the truth, then they will stand every test thrown at them. Just be willing to take some time and think about it.

  • http://forknowledge.wordpress.com Penguin_Factory

    My reasons for not believing in Jesus as a saviour:

    - There have been many supposed saviours and prophets throughout human history, both in recent and ancient religions. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that Jesus is any more likely to be the real deal than any of the other supposed messiahs.

    - The prophecies Jesus supposedly fulfilled cannot be verified. The only historical evidence we have that any of this actually occured is the Bible itself. The authors of the gospels would have been aware of the prophecies, and it would have been simple for them to write Jesus’s story to fit them.

    - There are many previous mythical figures who share an uncanny simialarity with Jesus and his supposed life story. I cannot believe that this is a coincidence.

    Let me ask you two questions, Ty.

    - You believe strongly in Jesus. If you had been raised as a Muslim, do you think you’d believe strongly in Muhammad?

    - If you had never read any holy book or been told about any religion before now, and someone gave you a selection to read, do you honestly think that the Bible would stand out among the rest? (Incidentally, have you ever read another religious text?)

  • http://bridgingschisms.org Eshu

    Ty, why are you “almost offended?”. People will disagree and they have a right to do that, don’t you think? It might seem odd to you if Christianity is all you’ve known, but there are hundreds of religious and non-religious beliefs out there, all different, all contradictory. Most of the people in the world are not Christians. The main reason for this is that the people they grew up with were not Christians. Just like how you didn’t grow up with Hindus, so you’re not a Hindu. It’s a simplification, but that is how most people “choose” their religions.

    However, you’re taking the right approach – actually asking some atheists why they believe what they do. Best to get such answers from the people whose beliefs you are asking about. I hope your visit here is enlightening.

    - Eshu

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com Robert Madewell

    Ty, remember that you do have the right to be offended, but no one has the right to not be offended. Just because you may be offended by something I say, or just because I am an atheist, doesn’t mean that I have offended your freedom of religion. Many people get the freedom of religion (which is the greatest thing in the world) confused up with a right to not be offended (which does not exist). Be offended all you want, just don’t try to take my freedom of/from religion away. Also, I give you this proverb: Truth is not offended by honest inquiry.

  • http://liquidthinker.wordpress.com LiquidThinker (formerly TimJ)

    Well, if you don’t mind, questioner, I would like to turn this around and ask you to do some self examination (I was like you when I was 14). Why is it that you believe? What convinces you that 1) there is a God, and 2) that Jesus as the road to salvation as taught by Christianity is this God’s actual plan? If you were not born in a predominately Christian nation to what are presumably Christian parents, do you think you would still be a Christian? Why or why not? To what prophecies specifically are you referring? Every prophecy of which I am aware has been thoroughly debunked, a matter which I do plan to comprehensively address elsewhere (if I ever get more than 5 minutes to sit down and write). Not to mention the fact that one could write the story of Jesus to fit prophecies, and even there, the gospel writers failed horribly, at least for anyone familiar with the contexts in which the alleged prophecies were written.

  • Rowan

    Hello Ty,
    I’d like to say four things: First, thank you for coming by with an open-minded attitude; good for you. Second, I believe it is possible that you have been misled about how strong a proof for Christianity fulfilled prophecies are; in most of the debates I have seen, Christian messianic prophecies have not made a strong case, and you may want to consider how much trust you place in them. Third: I iamgine that you have a personal experience of God or Jesus – that you would say you know God personally, or have felt his presence? It is worth reflecting that there are people who would say the same thing about other gods, who cannot be right if the Christian God exists – and therefore, if they are wrong about their sincerely-held views, could you be wrong about yours?
    Finally, I would like to say: nobody likes to be proved wrong, and I hope you will not take it the wrong way if your views are challenged. Remember, the important thing is not WHO is right, but WHAT is right; not who wins the argument, but what the truth is.
    All the best,
    rowan.

  • http://stepping-stones.livejournal.com/ D

    I got one: how about the fact that the Bible is the only source we have for Jesus that’s even remotely contemporaneous (and even granting that is a stretch). The gospels themselves weren’t even eyewitness accounts: they don’t pick up until about AD70, shortly after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the second temple.

    So you want me to believe that a man walked around the Middle East doing miracles, and nobody went home and wrote about it? No other scribes documented, “Hey, all these plebeians are yellin’ about this Jesus character, what a strange lot!” We don’t have anything – except the Bible – to proclaim the existence of Jesus. Sorry, but a religion’s own book just isn’t enough for me – if I accepted that as my standard, I’d have to believe in every religion, because they’ve all got at least that much. Actually, I’d probably be a Buddhist – we do have historical evidence outside Buddhist teachings to suggest that Siddhartha was a real person, after all. Shouldn’t Jesus have more facts on his side than the Buddha?

    Now consider that Elvis lived and died during the 20th century, and we know for a fact where and when he was born, more or less how he lived, and we’ve got a pretty damn good idea of how he died (and we know for a fact that he did die, and is still dead). Yet despite all this, there are plenty of otherwise sane people who claim that Elvis is not only alive and well, but [insert conspiracy du jour here].

    Add this all up, and what do you consider more likely to be true? (Remember, this is not what you want to believe, but what is likely to be true) Option one: Jesus was really the Savior of All Mankind, but nobody at the time felt that this was worthy of writing down until decades later, and the events in his life just so happen to match those attributed to other messianic figures who preceded him, such as Horus, Mithras, and Krishna. Option two: Turns out, Jesus was really just the equivalent of Superman comics about two thousand years ago, and we can still learn about their culture by reading their fiction, and even get some decent moral lessons out of it if we know where to look, even though it’s not historical fact.

    Me, I go with option two.

    Man, you’re lucky you just asked about Jesus, and not Yahweh/Jehovah/El, the genocidal maniac. I’d have a lot more to say about that guy. Although, I suppose they are the same person, going by the doctrine of the trinity… OK, yeah, I guess I can lump him in. Real quick-a-like: an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good entity apparently got bored one day and made a bunch of stuff. One of his creations didn’t like him – I guess he must have had a manufacturer defect – so of course he had to be kicked out forever instead of, I don’t know, kissing and making up. Then he makes a bunch more stuff, but kicks his next creations out of paradise for making one stupid mistake instead of fixing it with a snap of his all-powerful figures. Apparently, this guy has never heard the phrase, “Back to the drawing board.” Or the one about pencils and erasers. But whatever. Then he noticed some people were doing what they liked and not what he told them to do, so he blew up their city. Then the world did what it liked and not what he told it to do, so he flooded it to destroy evil once and for all, which totally worked and wasn’t the most epic waste of life in all of ever. For his next trick, he ruined a nation for enslaving his chosen people on his watch, then forced them on a death march instead of just plucking them out and putting them wherever he wanted, during which time he yelled at them a lot for doing insignificant crap. Really, the jealousy and general control-freakery of this guy seems to indicate some deep-rooted insecurity issues. Later on, some of his greatest hits include: failing to stop iron chariots (Judges 1:19), submitting to an empirical experiment (1 Kings 18:24-39), sending bears to kill forty-two children for laughing at a bald guy (2 Kings 2:24), and others! So this guy, this wild and crazy guy, he then decides to sacrifice himself to himself to half-way fix something for some people which he could have prevented in the first place with a fence. Or perhaps just uprooting a tree.

    And you trust this decision? You really think this is how it went down?

    So not only does the Jesus story not make sense, the background behind it that supposedly justifies it also makes no sense. People don’t need a savior, each individual person needs to become a mature, intelligent, and responsible adult. Trying to lean on a god as a crutch is actively standing in the way of that.

  • Mark C.

    Ty,

    I don’t know how strongly one could say I was doubting Christianity when I chose to discover what atheists believed and why, but Ebon’s main site for information on atheism (and theism and evolution) was one of the sites I found and read voraciously. It’s ebonmusings.org, which you can probably link to from this page.

    Another site that I recently found, but which is EXTREMELY good, is The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christianity:

    http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/

    Click on “The Central Thesis” to enter. Seriously, it’s a great site, so don’t skip over it! It’s not just an argument against Pascal’s Wager, by the way–it has stuff on just about everything related to Christianity.

    Anyway, to add some actual substance to my comment, I have to say that being an atheist doesn’t imply that we believe that there is no god, but it just means we are without the belief that there IS. Concerning Jesus, I’ve heard some atheists say they are positive he existed but was only a man to which mythical stories were attributed, and others who say he most likely never existed at all. Personally, no matter which of the two options I go with, he was not in any way anything other than human, if he even existed. Why would I go with one of these options and no other? Simply because people back then were extremely ignorant of things that science and critical thought have led us to discover, and I have been presented with no credible evidence indicating that the “existed+divine” option is plausible. And more importantly, I have never been presented with credible evidence or even a sound argument that supernatural entities, properties, or events can even be real.

    I have something else for you to consider, but I want you to just think about it and not bring it up in the discussion (since I’m not interested in a long conversation):

    Assuming Christianity is true and that God knows everything about the past, present, and future…. That means he is directly responsible for what occurred in the Garden of Eden, and that he is therefore responsible for humanity’s current sinful condition. So he then sends his-son-who-is-actually-God-himself to be sacrificed–to himself (which isn’t a sacrifice, anyway, since “the son” still exists)–so that HE might forgive people for violating HIS OWN ARBITRARY RULES. And remember, HE is the one responsible for their violation of said rules.

    It doesn’t make any sense.

  • Polly

    We really don’t know who wrote any of the Gospels. Two are attributed to Gentiles, who wouldn’t have been eyewitnesses (Mark and Luke) as JC’s followers were all Jewish. Matthew records things about JC’s birth that the others don’t contain. John has notes apparently for people who are not familiar with Judaism (explaining terms like “Rabbi” John 20:16) which may indicate that he wasn’t Jewish and not the the disciple John).
    The resurrection is sketchy and the few details given in the Gospels all differ from each other in a way that makes me wonder why they couldn’t get their story straight. If this were a cross examination, and I were a cop, I’d suspect they were lying.

    Paul’s writings preceded the Gospels and he corroborates virtually NOTHING contained in the Gospel stories. So, where are the witnesses? Outside of the Bible, JC is hardly mentioned except tangentially when Josephus speaks of his followers.

    The great miracles of Jesus, the most amazing miracle in history – greater than just a single man rising from the dead – where the righteous dead rise up and walk into Jerusalem after Jesus’s crucifixion (Matt 27:52-53), and the earthquake are not recorded by any historian of the time. Surely, the most marvelous event – a bunch of dead people rising up and walking around in a major city would have been remembered outside of the Gospel of Matthew.

    The books of the NT were all written after JC supposedly died. The more detailed accounts came well after his estimated year of death – as late as 90-110AD.

    Moreover, his life contains many common mythological elements. The idea of a god dying and rising again is FAR from unique to Christianity. Jesus most resembles the god, Mithra. But, there are many others.

    It’s quite clear that the Gospel writers, whoever they were, wrote out an account of JC’s life that coincided with their favorite OT scripts.

    They couldn’t even decide on the list of the 12 disciples. They’re different in different Gospels.

    Contradictions:

    1)How did Judas die? Did he hang himself or did he throw himself off a cliff? Who bought the field in which he was buried and with whose money and why did they call it “the field of blood”? Acts 1:18 vs. Matt 27:3-10. BTW Matthew doesn’t know his OT, there’s no prohpecy like the one he refers to in the book of Jeremiah.

    2)Where did Jesus tell his disciples to meet him after the resurrection – in Gallilee or in Jerusalem? Matthew 28:16 vs. Luke 24.

    3)Did both thieves on the cross hurl insults at JC or was one penitent? Matt 27:44; Mark 15:32 vs. Luke 23:40-43

    4)It appears taht JC was not in the tomb for 3 days, not eve reckoning it the “Jewish way.” I’ll let you research that question, yourself.

    Aside from this, let’s talk about the sheer injustice of throwing people into Hell for not believing this ridiculous story that happened 2,000 years ago. THIS is the best plan an all-wise god could come up with – Making guilty people innocent using the evil machinations of a pagan government and culture to torture an innocent man? What kind of justice is that, anyway? Guilt isn’t like money, someone else can’t just pay for your bad deeds and call that justice.

    Jesus and his disciples clearly expected to usher in the VISIBLE kingdom of Heaven about 1,970 years ago. Matthew 16:27-28
    Christians have been expecting Jesus to return almost every century since aobut 300AD, maybe even earlier.

    I could go on, but you get the point. Know this, the version of Christianity you believe in was VOTED on in 325AD. Funny way to determine the will of god.

  • lpetrich

    Prophecies? Ty, why don’t you look at prophecies fulfilled by:

    * Zeus
    * Perseus
    * Oedipus
    * Romulus
    * Krishna
    * The Buddha

    I’d created an IIDB thread, Lord Raglan Mythic Hero Problems on this subject, which has some more details.

  • Justin

    I second what D said about Elvis. It’s way too easy for a mundane story to become an urban legend even within a decade or so, and (if I remember correctly off the top of my head) the Gospels weren’t written for decades, maybe a century after Jesus supposedly died.

    Try this experiment: At the end of the day, write down every (noteworthy) thing you did that day. One week later, write down every (noteworthy) thing you did on that first day. Then, (only then) look at the first list (must be complete with details) and see if anything on the lists doesn’t match up. Human memory can be very inaccurate, and when people use it to tell word-of-mouth stories, the stories are quickly blown out of proportion.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we discuss Jesus, someone whose existence on this earth is controversial enough, we need to figure out if there is any merit to this idea of god. I have yet to see a logically coherent definition of god that resembles the god in which Christians claim to believe. What is this god? What properties does it have? If we cannot arrive at a meaningful view of this god, there seems to be little reason to move ahead.

  • Brad

    Hello Ty! It’s good of you to go expanding your boundaries like this. I hope you see our responses as viable explanations for nonbelief.

    I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world.

    I advise you to try and imagine – you won’t know unless you seriously try thinking freely with an open mind. We have theist commenters here at DA who have changed their theological views and learned quite a lot from exploring “the other side” and giving atheism a fair trial. (The benefits of discourse go the other way, too.)

    I’m almost offended that you could think there is no God.

    I am somewhat puzzled by this. Are our intentions bad? Do we do nothing but scoff at and dismiss religious claims at face value? Given that many atheists are deconverts from religion, and from the “educated” spheres within at that, I would venture to say that we are not ignorant.

    If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I’d like to hear your claims. [...] irrelevant compared to the strong evidence of every prophesy that Jesus fulfilled perfectly.

    Yes, of course! No offense taken – everyone deserves to hear evidence and reason to support their ideas. I will mostly be referring to pages and articles at this site for my points below, but I think they give a pretty holistic view of why you should not believe in God. (Actually, I think I’ll effectively be summarizing this entire site… sorry to EM if this post is redundant or unnecessary on this forum!)

    I. As for Biblical prophecy, I think you really should investigate the credence of these things. From The Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists: Prophecies should not be vague, unclear or garbled, trivial, obviously contrived for other reasons, self-fulfilling, fulfilled at time of writing, or a lone success out of multitudes of failures. Instead, prophecies should be detailed, specific and unambiguous both in prediction and wording, as well as predicting something surprising, unlikely or unique. As EM fleshed out before here, here, and especially here, the Bible is a total failure in terms of prophecy.

    II. As for the evidence about Christ, I think such evidence in support of even his existence is lacking and so we should refrain from being over-credulous (i.e. gullible) in believing he was a real person. (EM wrote on this in Choking on the Camel, and this is explored much more in Doherty’s The Jesus Puzzle.) There are many more major historical problems with the Bible. (Specifically, the divine events described within.) How Did the Apostles Die?

    Even if we think of him as a real person, however, there are much better natural explanations that work better than theistic ones, even if only for the simple reason that theism brings up way more irreconcilable questions than questions it puts down. And so here come the bigger, more general philosophical issues with religious belief in God…

    (a.) Ebonmuse writes clearly, succinctly, and powerfully on what’s known as “The Problem of Evil” in the essay All Possible Worlds, the series A World in Shadow, and the article Improving on God’s Handiwork. (“The argument’s logic is ironclad, and its simple but far-reaching conclusion is that the existence of evil in the world disproves the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly loving god.”) On Daylight Atheism we argued over this problem at length in this open thread.

    (b.) In One More Burning Bush, the “Argument from Divine Hiddenness” is presented:

    This essay has argued that God, if he existed, would have strong reason to reveal himself to humanity in a meaningful and obvious way, and no strong reason to refrain from doing so. But no such thing has happened. It is therefore more reasonable to believe that God does not exist than to believe that God does exist but chooses to remain hidden, and it is therefore reasonable to be an atheist. This is the conclusion to which the argument from divine hiddenness leads.

    EM also makes three very good Biblical analogies to our present situation with his essay A Modern-Day Doubting Thomas, and another great analogy in saying that doubting a supposedly self-evident god should be like “Doubting the Sun,” but this is clearly not the case.

    (c.) In The Argument from Locality, The One True Religion, and The Cosmic Shell Game, the entire idea of religion is inspected. Why does God play favorites with the Hebrews in the first place, anyway? Why does God choose to have his Earthly embassy mimic the forms of other, false and fake embassies from us humans? Why does religion need child indoctrination and emotional manipulation (see here and here) to support itself? Also see Thoughts in Captivity.

    There’s much more to say here about religion, the Bible, and Jesus. For now, I’ll leave it at that.

    P.S. Sorry if this is too much to respond to here on this forum. You can just regard this as a springboard for future reference.

  • Leum

    Hi Ty! Thanks for coming over.

    I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world.

    Why? Because you feel the need for salvation or because you have evidence of a savior? The desire to be saved from a world full of pain is common and found in many religions. Here’s the problem: desire and possibility are not equivalent. As near as I can work out, we’re all just muddling through life, hoping to do what’s right, and often failing. Would it be nice if we could become perfect? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we can.

    If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I’d like to hear your claims.

    When we wish to examine ideas about reality, we have to start from a particular assumption. The burden of proof is always placed on the positive claim. In other words, you need to provide evidence that Jesus is the Christ. Proving that Jesus is not the Christ would be almost impossible, unless I could demonstrate that someone else is.

    No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would be irrelevant compared to the strong evidence of every prophesy that Jesus fulfilled perfectly.

    None taken. The argument from prophecy is, however, a poor one. It is very easy to write a story in which every event foreshadowed occurs. Matthew is not, I’m afraid, a sufficiently credible source.

    Fundamentally, I do not believe in any deity because there is no evidence for any. There is not, I confess, much evidence beyond absence to suggest the non-existence of such beings, although Ebon’s article A Ghost in the Machine casts doubt on the existence of the soul.

  • bipolar2

    Hello Ty:

    Here’s my suggestion. Get on internet and search for Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” Start reading from the start . . . and go right to the very end.

    Maybe you and Huck have almost nothing in common, especially if you’ve grown up in a strict Baptist sort of way. (Or Catholic, or Mormon . . .) Huck is pretty much a heathen, never been to school, his Dad’s a cheating drunk, and his mother’s dead.

    But, Huck is smart for all his lack of learning and some very deep prejudices. He’s about your age. With time on his hands. He lives hobo like on a raft on the Mississippi River, near Hannibal, Missouri just before 1860. He lives as he pleases. Until fate throws him into a spin, what to do with a runaway slave about to be caught. Jim could be money is his pocket and Huck’s poor. Aiding a runaway is a crime. And a black man has no soul. Nor humanity. Go off down river? Hiding a slave? There’s no percentage in it.

    Like I said, Huck’s a heathen. Nobody’s religion has anything to do with his choices. I think that the roots of your capacity for good derive from your ability to see yourself in another. Not to educate and strengthen and act on this innate capacity never degrades the other person, it lowers me.

    Mr. Twain couldn’t be a better friend or a better story teller.

    bipolar2

  • John

    Hi Ty;

    A lot of the responses are correct in saying that there is no proof of Jesus existence in history; neither is the Old Testament a history book. The Bible is a spiritual book and not concerned with our temporal world. By keeping your mind open(even if it means getting atheists’ opinions) and by searching with a pure heart, you will get understanding. Your “evidence” will come. Be diligent.

  • Valhar2000

    I am 14, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world.

    Ah, the Argument from Extra Belief!

  • Christopher

    I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world.

    Then you have a small imagination kid.

    I am 14, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world.

    That old now… And already strongly attatched to your beliefs – so was I at that age. It seems to me that the most devout believers in any cause are the very young (who are indcotrinated into it) and the very old (who are set in their ways and fear change).

    I’m almost offended that you could think there is no God.

    Listen kid – if you are offended at the idea that other people don’t think or believe as you do, you are in for a lifetime of disappointment. Hardly anyone sees eye-to-eye with me (even many of the other Atheists think my ideas are eccentric) and I learned to deal with that: the sooner you do the same, the happier you will be for it.

    If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I’d like to hear your claims. No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would be irrelevant compared to the strong evidence of every prophesy that Jesus fulfilled perfectly.

    There’s hardly any evidence to suggest that a historical Jesus ever existed at all – let alone that he was anything like what those half-crazed prophets thought he would be. It not so much that we have proof that “there’s no Jesus” so much as it is “there really isn’t much in the way of evidence to suggest he was ever here.”

    We aren’t making the claim that there never was a Jesus (personally, I find the existence/non-existence of Jesus irrelevant), but rather that we strongly doubt the claims to his existence – it’s up to the one making a positive claim to provide evidence, not those who simply don’t believe a claim.

  • AnonaMiss

    To the questioner:

    I know that a lot of the previous comments probably sounded hostile or dismissive to you, especially the parts where we have said that the burden of proof is on you. They weren’t intended to be hostile. This is in fact the accepted order of things in science and logic – the burden of proof is on the person making the claim – but I understand that that’s not a very helpful statement to you, who have such different baseline assumptions from us. To you it seems like we’re the ones making a claim, since Christianity is the default you’ve lived with since childhood.

    Though we may try to convince you of what we believe to be true, ultimately it’s up to you to sift through the arguments and determine which are good and which are poor. That in mind, I suggest you start by formulating not the arguments for our position or even the arguments for your position, but instead what your current position actually means. Make a list; write down what you believe, and why you believe it. Probe your assumptions, write down any sub-assumptions or unconscious assumptions you discover, then probe again. Reevaluate. Are your assumptions sound? What are their implications? Would you accept these assumptions as valid, or these deductions as reasonable, if you received them from another source, arguing for a different position?

    For example, you believe that Christ is the savior of the world. The first step is to take a look at your terms. “Christ” – by that you mean Jesus Christ, and you have a host of assumptions to go along with what it means to be Jesus Christ. I don’t know your denomination, so I don’t know what all of those assumptions are, but they’re probably some combination of the stories told about his life in the Bible (e.g. born to a virgin in a stable, had a large following, crucified by the Romans and/or Jews) and things not explicitly mentioned in the Bible (e.g. simultaneously equal to and a sub-part of a trinity god). “Is” is tellingly present tense, with all the associated implications of that. What makes you think that Christ was, i.e. existed? What makes you think that he is, i.e. still exists? Would you accept this evidence as the continued existence past death of another person, say Louis the XIV? What does existing after death even mean, and is it really existence? “Savior of the world” – what does it mean to be a savior? How did he save it? What did he save it from? Why did his method of saving it succeed in saving it, and what else would have qualified as saving it? Why did the world need saving from whatever he saved it from? Why was that reason for needing saving there in the first place? And why was that one?

    I took my first small step down the road to atheism when I took some time to contemplate the nature of the god I believed in, and specifically his omnipotence. In mathematics there’s something called a proof by contradiction, which means that if you assume something is true, and then prove contradictory claims based on that assumption, you have in fact only proved that your assumption is false. I realized that the question of whether god could create a rock so heavy even he couldn’t lift it, which had been presented to me as a sort of a koan on the unfathomability of god when I was in child, in fact fit perfectly into the mold of a proof by contradiction. If we assume that god can do anything, then it follows that god can create a rock so heavy he can’t lift it, and also that god can lift any rock. The reaction presented to me as appropriate when I was a child was awe and wonder; but the reaction presented as appropriate by formal logic was rejection of the assumption.

    Proving to myself that god wasn’t omnipotent didn’t deconvert me straight off, but it did help me to open my mind to the possibility that I shouldn’t trust what everyone said about god, and should instead investigate him and his properties on my own, using reason and what evidence I could find. I urge you to do the same. Question yourself! No search for truth should build on un-tested ground.

  • http://sagacious-sycophant.net Tess

    There’s a lot of good stuff in here. Unfortunately a few people are choosing to be condescending. If a 14 year old atheist walked in here talking about his/her well reasoned viewpoints, we would applaud them for their clarity.

    I think it’s uncalled for to use more age/life experience as an argument against his views. Are you honestly saying you’ve never met anyone older than you who was intellectually lazy or dishonest and attributed their knowledge to “life experience.”

  • Leum

    I agree with you, Tess. I meant to say something about that in my last comment, but I forgot to.

  • Jerryd

    Ty, I’m glad to see that your wrote Adam and are asking questions, that is so important. Here’s what I would suggest you do, that might seem odd coming from an atheist, but it has worked for me.

    I’m going to guess that you’ve never really read the entire Bible. Like most you have gone to church, listened to preachers, family and friends as they tell you what they believe and what they think the Bible says. Perhaps you’ve read selected chapters or verses, but I want you to find out for yourself exactly what the entire Bible says. Thus to read it as though you had never heard of it before; to become a Christian or non-Christian based upon your honest and open interpretation of what you read. I prefer the King James Version, but read whichever you choose.

    Read it from the beginning, not with some study guide or input from any other help source (other than a dictionary), but to understand what you as an intelligent person are able to interpret. Ask yourself these questions as you read:

    1. Does this demonstrate that a perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful god wrote or inspired these words? If so be able to say why, if not do the same. Remember that perfection means every word is necessary and meaningful, flawless. Could you remove unneeded words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters? Can you understand all of what you read? Could you improve on what you read?

    All-knowing means able to see everything in the past, present and future. What do you read that shows the God of the Bible had knowledge beyond that of humans writing in that era?

    All-powerful means able to do anything. What did God do for which there is incontrovertible evidence of his existence and omnipotence?

    2. Does what you read show god to be moral? If your father acted as god does in the Bible would he be described as moral by society? If so, why? If not, why not? I define morality as that which brings the most happiness and does the most good while doing the least harm. Perhaps your definition is different, if so use it.

    3. Does the Bible show that God is love? Not that it “says” that, but that by his actions, words and deeds he personifies love? If your father did what God does or commands in the Bible would you feel loved by him? Why or why not?

    In summary, read the Bible with an open and inquiring mind to find out what it means to you. This might take some effort on your part because to do what I want requires you to not read as a Christian, but as a scholar open to the truth and willing to question what you read. Then, if you don’t mind, come back and tell us what you have learned.

    Good luck in your search for truth and knowledge.

  • http://the-before-life.livejournal.com/ Sam

    (I’m sorry in advance if this has already been said.)

    Ty,

    I’m not doubting that Jesus Christ existed at all–what I’m doubting is that he was sent from God. I could completely believe that there was a guy named Jesus who claimed that he was sent by a higher power and that he was the son of this higher power. The thing is not that I don’t believe in Jesus, just that I don’t believe in what he says. I haven’t read the Bible (only a child’s Precious Moments version from when I was younger–I’ve been an atheist since 6th grade) but I do know that there are many inconsistencies in it. There’s also stuff that I don’t know how could have gotten in there. In church one day I remember hearing that Jesus was on Gethsemane with two disciples (apostles?) and he asked them to stay awake with him, and they both fell asleep. No one else was with them that night–so who wrote about it? How can we trust in the Bible? I agree that it’s you and not me who has to prove something. You’re the one claiming for something to exist, then you’re the one who should show the proof. However, I have thought about the whole Jesus thing and I leave it at this–he was a brilliant man: nothing more, nothing less.

  • Brad

    not with some study guide or input from any other help source

    Ask yourself these questions as you read:

    To a believer, that might be seen is a contradiction. Just keep in mind all questions and try not to have a bias. (Don’t be tempted to mistake subjectivity for a “spirit,” either.)

    Remember that perfection means every word is necessary and meaningful, flawless.

    In religion’s defense, there is theology revolving around the question of whether a “perfect” god could choose to communicate by “minimalistic” means, thus resulting in flawed holy books.

  • Christopher

    Tess,

    If a 14 year old atheist walked in here talking about his/her well reasoned viewpoints, we would applaud them for their clarity.

    I’ll appluad anyone if they present a well reasoned viewpoint to back it up – even points I don’t agree with. Ty presented no arguement of any kind, just assertions.

    He may be young, but he’s got to learn why he thinks the way he does before shooting his mouth off – the faster he learns that the easier it will be for him to get through his existential angst.

  • silentsanta

    That’s a bit unfair, Christopher; I think what Ty fundamentally misunderstands is the concept of burden of proof.

    Hey Ty, here is my 2 cents, I’ll keep it short.

    Basically, I contend that the best way human beings can live their lives is with a rational view of the world – skepticism, use of evidence before accepting extraordinary claims, using logic and deduction from established premises, trying to avoid believing in self-contradictory things etc.

    The reason that I no longer believe in Jesus is because of the simple rationalist concept of Burden of Proof which you should read if you haven’t come across it before. I will provide a short description here also:

    In short, if I try to convince you that there are such things as unicorns or fairies, the sensible thing for you to do is to disbelieve me unless I can come up with some convincing evidence that unicorns or fairies exist.

    In much the same way, if I try to convince you that ghosts or sorcerers or Loki or Thor exist, you should disbelieve me unless I can provide some strong evidence for them.

    In many cases, there is a sensible default belief (such as ‘there are no fairies), and one or more alternative beliefs (‘fairies exist’) that should only be adopted if the evidence is strong enough.

    Your comment to the author of this blog, ebonmuse, seems to suggest that the burden of proof is on him to prove that god does not exist.
    Take a minute to think about this, before deciding who has to provide the evidence for their position.
    Like fairies, your god cannot be seen, felt, heard or demonstrably communicated with. Like ghosts, your god defies all attempts to reliably establish his existence. You are the one proposing that this invisible, inaudible creature called ‘God’ exists and we are merely suggesting that it would be insensible to do so without adequate evidence. The position of most of the people on this site is that the evidence presented thus far is inadequate. In fact, we find the evidence proposed for the Christian God to be about as convincing as the evidence for Allah, or Zeus, or Shiva or Krishna. Which is to say, we don’t find it convincing at all.

    That is, we believe the burden of proof is on Christians to provide convincing evidence that God (and Jesus) exist. And we haven’t seen any convincing evidence.

    One final point- if you understand the ‘burden of proof’ argument I just made, you might find it useful to spend a few days just thinking about why you are a Christian. Did you encounter a lot of evidence when you made your decision? (If so, is your evidence manifestly better than the evidence that a Hindu or a Muslim saw when they made theirs?)
    Most people take their positions on religion without even bothering to look at the evidence- in fact, most seem to be brought up in their religion almost from birth. If you found a few dozen people at your church and asked them why they were Christian and not Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist, I believe you’d find most of them couldn’t give sensible, convincing reason for their choice, and none of them would be able to say “I thought it was a very important decision so I went out and looked at the evidence for all the different religions and I decided that Christianity had far better evidence than the others”

  • Tom

    In religion’s defense, there is theology revolving around the question of whether a “perfect” god could choose to communicate by “minimalistic” means, thus resulting in flawed holy books.

    If the end result is flawed then surely those means are subminimal.

  • Gary

    Ty, don’t feel turned away by the torrent of comments. Feel free to reply to as many or as few as you wish, or just present your beliefs here with reasoning to back them up. We’re genuinely looking forward to your reply.

  • Ulrich

    Hi Ty,

    since the people above me have already written a lot about the burden of proof and the lack of evidence for God – which is also the reason why I lost my (Catholic) faith -, I’m going to offer some comments on another topic that you brought up: the concept of sin and salvation.

    Christianity teaches that Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit – the “original sin” – corrupted humanity. According to this doctrine, we all are sinners from the moment we are born, and need to be “saved” by God’s mercy. It is also said that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross to atone for our sins. Most variants of Christianity also teach that we still have to accept the salvation that we are offered, by “letting Jesus in our lives”. Most of them, I think, agree that doing good deeds is not enough to be saved.

    First of all, I’d like to quote a phrase I once read, about Jesus’s death being necessary for our redemption. It sums up my thoughts very well. It goes like this: “Why would God have to sacrifice himself to himself to allow him to change a rule he made himself?” Surely, if he wanted us to be saved, he could just do so by his will. The idea that he had to send his son, who is actually himself, to Earth to be executed for our salvation – it makes no sense to me.

    Now, back to original sin. In my eyes, this doctrine is a prime example of collective punishment – punishing a whole family (humankind) for the crimes of one of its members (Adam). Collective punishment was a common practice in ancient times, but today it is no longer used except maybe in a few countries because it is seen as highly unjust. If God is supposed to be perfectly just, can you imagine him committing such a great injustice as damning the entire humanity, for countless generations, to sin just because Adam ate an apple he should not have eaten?

    It becomes even worse when you read the story and realize that at the time Adam did it, he didn’t even know what is good and evil! The snake told Eve that eating the fruit would give them this knowledge. That would not make sense if they already knew, right? Now, according to modern law, persons that do not know good and evil (such as little children) cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions. Again, it would not be just to punish them. But God does exactly that.

    Not to mention that it was God who made the tree, and the snake, and thus set things up in a way that Adam and Eve had no real chance to avoid the temptation. And since he is supposed to be all-knowing, he must have known that they would eat the fruit. So I think there is only one logical conclusion: God wanted Adam to eat it. Because if he did not want it, he could have easily prevented it, for example, by not creating the tree at all. But if he wanted it, then he is the one who is responsible for all the evil and suffering in the world – poor Adam never had a choice.

    (Writing this remembers me of the line in the Lord’s Prayer: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Since, according to my interpretation, God started evil by leading Adam into temptation, that line now sounds extremely cynical in my ears.)

    I strongly dislike the doctrine of original sin. (You probably figured that out already.) Not only because it is highly unjust, as I explained, but also because it paints a very negative image of humans. What it tells you, me and everyone else is this: we are fatally flawed – “hopelessly and irreversibly sinful”, as someone else put it – and entirely dependent of God’s mercy. Now, I think we can all agree that none of us is perfect; but surely you can see why some people take offense with this doctrine. I, for one, would not like being called names like that. Do you?

    And thus I am quite happy with my conclusion that Genesis is a myth, that there is no original sin, and no reason to believe in a divine “savior”. Instead, I believe that we are responsible for our own salvation – not through faith and prayer, but through speech and action. Instead of turning to an invisible god, we must take matters in our own hands if we want to make this world a better place. And we should, because it’s the only world we have.

    In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Even as a non-Christian, I agree with this quote – from my own point of view: There are no absolute truths in religion; you must find your own ‘truth’. Searching for it is often not easy – it requires an open mind and free, independent thinking. But it is well worth the effort; a belief that you have sincerely questioned and found worth keeping is much more satisfying and reassuring than one that you have just because you’re told so.

    I wish you well for your search. May you find your truth, and may it be a source of comfort and inspiration for you; may you find respect among your fellow humans for what you believe; and may you also respect those that believe differently.

  • KShep

    Ty, if you’re here, I have to say congratulations for asking for some feedback on atheism. There’s a lot of information in these comments to sort through. It’s clearly quite overwhelming. I’m not the most eloquent writer, so please bear with me as I try to help.

    I would suggest that you first work on critical thinking skills. You already are, if I read your post correctly. Critical thinking is just a process of trying to sort through all the fluff that often accompanies discussions of religion, and prevents people from seeing the obvious. For an example, I’ll use the story of Noah’s flood. Many people, perhaps yourself included, have listened to that story and simply took it at face value, but critical thinkers hear that story and think, “wait a minute, you’re telling me that there was once a flood so enormous that is engulfed even Mt. Everest? I know that rain is simply reconstituted water vapor falling from the sky. Just how could that much water be suspended in the air? And Noah built a boat big enough to hold two examples of every species in the world, including dinosaurs? With primitive tools? And why didn’t the tigers eat the antelopes? Also, wouldn’t a worldwide flood destroy every habitat that all the animals lived in? And all this to rid the world of sin? Why didn’t god just rid the world of sin anyway?” etc. etc.

    I could go on and on, but you get the point, I hope. If the Noah’s flood story is suspect, what about all the other stories in the bible? Should you just automatically accept them, or look a little more closely at them?

    Where I live, a few years ago some anonymous person took out a lot of billboard space with simple, religious messages like, “We need to talk—god.” One of them said, “I don’t question YOUR existence.” The implied message of that billboard is, of course, “Do not question my existence.” And my reaction to that is, wouldn’t the christian god WELCOME questions of his existence? What is he afraid of?

    You, Ty, need to be unafraid of asking questions like that.

    Ultimately, just think before you accept what you’re told. Ask pointed questions. Demand answers. And that includes us atheists. We like to be challenged.

  • Nightshadequeen

    Why Jesus? Why not Muhammad, or Buddha, or the FSM, or Ra, or Zeus? Or, indeed, why not Othello, or Romeo, or Harry Potter, or Holly Short?

    An if indeed Jesus, why your brand of Christianity. There’s over 2000 dominations of Christianity. Why yours?

    What is the proof that your god is real and not all the other gods?

    Also: Do you consider the god of the Bible to be moral? I’m not talking about the funky stories as the Levi and his concubine. I’m talking about the stories you probably already know of. Like Noah and the ark.

    First of all, the Epic of Gilgamesh is surprisingly similar to the story of Noah. Yahweh tells Noah to build an ark to save “two of each” “of all that lives, or all flesh.” Ea tells Utnapishtim to “build a boat…then take up into the boat the seed of all living creatures.”(Oh, by the way, the quote from “Noah and the Flood” runs “And of all that lives, of all flesh, you shall take two of each into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female.” I had to do some funky sentence gymnastics to get the sentence to be correct grammatically.)

    And, of course, they have to do that because the deity/deities-in-charge are going to flood the world/a city because of the sins caused by the inhabitants of the world/the city. Also interesting to note that both came from the area of Mesopotamia, which contains two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which flooded constantly till people got around to damming them up.

    But more to the point. When Yahweh floods the world, he kills everything that was not on the ark, presumably. Right? Everything, including the young and innocent of the animals, and the babies of the other families who were too young to have caused any harm yet?

    Is that moral?

    But you might say that the entire story is a metaphor. Okay. So, if it’s a metaphor, what does it mean? That collateral damage is A-OK? That we should exterminate our enemies, even the young and innocent, like Qin Shih Huangdi did to the people he conquered, or the Nazis did to the Jews? What else could it mean? Does it mean that we should kill the children of sinners, like Mao killed the children of the counterrevolutionists?

    Oh, wait. Yahweh regrets what he did. Right. So does that mean that Hurricane Katrina shouldn’t be blamed on that lesbian comedian? If your deity says, “Hey, wait, this was a stupid mistake, collateral damage is immoral,” then why not just live and let live? Our existence doesn’t affect yours, you know. Neither do the gays and lesbians who just want to get married by the law, or the women who need abortions. According to “Noah and the Flood”, your deity isn’t going to attack innocents to fight the guilty. So why are you offended when the rest of the world–the non-Christians–take a look at the Bible, and think “What the heck?”? I haven’t even started to mention the Bible’s really odd spots–Ebonmuse has three seperate articles on funky passages in the Bible. After all, it shouldn’t matter to you. Your own holy book states that you won’t be collateral damage.

    Furthermore, in the story of “Noah and the Flood”, if your deity is omni-max, shouldn’t he have known beforehand that collateral damage=bad? He knows everything, right? And if he can do anything, too, couldn’t he have killed only the sinners with things like lightning or, I dunno, heart attacks? If he could flood the world, couldn’t he have pinched the coronary arteries of so many people?

    Finally–if the world did flood, why the heck in the world did the rest of the world not notice? China, for example, has an uninterrupted record of its history from the year 2000ish BCE onwards…

  • Aaron

    Ty,
    If you didn’t know about Jesus, what kind of things would you expect from the saviour of all mankind?

    I would expect that the saviour of all mankind would save all peoples, not just some jews (and for that matter, if Jesus didn’t convince most of the Jews living at that time, isn’t that kind of a sign that he didn’t really fulfill their prophecies?). He or she would tell the whole world about himself/herself, in such a convincing way that no-one would doubt it. Everyone would write about him or her, build statues, monuments, etc, and document his or her life, not just three or four people. He or she would make some sort of effort to revisit the world as it changed, offering advice and wisdom for the new challenges of the era. S/he wouldn’t expect that things s/he said thousands of years ago were still being copied correctly or that they were relevant.

    In short, I would expect more than a few self-fulfilling prophecies and a lack of evidence.

  • Rowan

    Hi Adam,
    Do you know if Ty has read these comments and if he intends to respond?
    To be fair, if I was Ty, I would find it a difficult situation, arguing with a whole board full of well-practiced atheists. Ty, if that is the case, can I suggest the General Apologetics forum on Christian Forums, or some similar place?
    However, we are looking forward to hearing from you!
    Rowan.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Do you know if Ty has read these comments and if he intends to respond?

    He told me in e-mail that he would. We’ll see if he keeps his word.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Hi Ty,

    First off, one would have to provide evidence that we have “souls”, that is that there is a part of us that survives the death of our physical bodies. Where does the soul come from? After all, biologically, we are all the result of a male sperm cell joining with a female egg soul. How does the union of a male sperm cell and a female egg cell lead to nonphysicality? When you look at it clinically, the idea that there is a part of us that is nonphysical is unsupportable.

    In order for Christianity to be true, there has to be a nonphysical part of us that requires “saving” and that can feel either pleasure or pain outside of our physical bodies. If you cannot provide evidence for this apart from “the Bible says so” then there is really only one logical conclusion to be arrived at.

    And don’t let some of the harsher comments here get to you, because when I was 14 years old, I was you.

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    When I was 14, I was Ty.

    But I was Jewish, not Christian.

    Think about the fact that people of every one of hundreds of faiths think theirs is the only “correct” religion. Also, consider that you have probably not considered all those other possibilities. We follow the faith that our parents follow, not the one we choose (at least until we are older than you). Ask yourself why you believe — is it because you have honestly considered the other possibilities, or because you were raised in your faith?

    In comparison, my little brother is your age. He has been raised in an irreligious Jewish household and considers himself atheist. Had he and you switched places at birth, do you have any reason to think he would not be Christian and you would not be Jewish or atheist?

    Finally, ask yourself not why you believe in what you do, but why you disbelieve in everything else. Why are you NOT Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc? We disbelieve for many of the same reasons you do — we simply extend that to one more God.

  • Jeremy

    Hello, Ty

    I can speak from personal experience about the difficulty of training the credulous mind to be critical of claims, especially when one is raised in a religious environment. I was raised in Pentecostal Christianity, a version of Christianity that to my mind is the most credulous of all the factions.

    Although I was born with a questioning temperment, my religious indoctrination mananged to subdue it for many years as the authority figures in my life taught me that God rewards those who become like little children (who simply believe what they are told) and sends to hell those who refuse to believe without sufficient evidence. This was very difficult for me, a questioning person, to accept. As I grew older and my capacity to reason grew along with me, it became much harder to reconcile the fantastical stories of my religion with the rational, evidence based mindset I used in every other area of my life to great effect.

    Provided that you, Ty, are more concerned with discovering what is likely to be the truth than simply defending your confessional interests, then there is a simple question you must apply to your religious beliefs, starting with the presumption of the spiritual realm:

    “How do I know it’s true?”

    How do you know that there is an afterlife? How do you know that you possess an immortal soul? How do you know that the writings about Christ can be trusted to the very word?

    The foundation of your religion rests on the above ideas of a spirit realm.

    If you find it ridiculous or sacreligious to question these concepts, then you will not be able to have a productive conversation with any of us here.

  • Uncivilized

    Ty,

    I just stumbled onto this website, but this line of discussion caught my interest.

    Like many others here I applaud your willingness to ask questions as opposed to verbally attacking.

    I am here not encourage aetheism or christianity. Those are for each individual to choose themself. Hopefully they choose their views based on their own informed research and decisions rather than based on views of other. I chose to be an atheist because I have found too many flaws with religions.

    As a recommendation, read the Bible cover to cover. Take notes as you do. Ask questions as you read. I own a Bible that is very highlighted and notes in the margin. As further reading read “Letters From the Earth” from Mark Twain. Twain questioned the Bible in great detail, pointing out glaring flaws. If your findings show christianity to be infailable in your view, then you have made your choice. If it is riddled with unanswered questions, try to find answers.

    Whatever choice you make, be sure it is the right one for you and that you stand by it. Remember to respect other’s choices. Using reason and discussion to encourage others to believe as you do is one thing. Telling others their beliefs are wrong and they must change without reasoning is the wrong approach no matter what your point of view is. Be able to defend your beliefs with strong facts. Armed with knowledge and research is the only way to do so.

  • Virginia

    Ty
    When I was 19, I walked the path you are now on.
    Religion was never something about fact, but about fulfilling a yearning.
    Yet as I grew up I realized the yearning was never fulfilled. This will be a long process for you to realize — but to save you from future regret and anguish, start early in really using reasoning, researching of facts, and give up the exclusive claim to truth.
    Instead of parroting what your minister tell you, try thinking about it yourself and you would have a lot of new understanding

  • Steven

    Well, if nothing else I hope that all of the thoughtful comments here will dispel any misconceptions Ty may have had about atheists. Kudos to everyone who has gently countered Ty’s assertions and offered some sugar-free food for thought.
    My own disbelief comes from the simple fact that none of the religions, past or present, make any sense unless you realize that they are all man-made. Each one reflects the cultural prejudices and limited knowledge of it’s time. Christianity is no exception and contains echoes of many older myths.
    I’d encourage Ty to do some reading – Greek myths, Norse myths, and the eastern ones as well. It won’t hurt his GPA and might allow him to draw some interesting parallels between ancient mythology and the slightly more recent variety.

  • Polly

    I’d like to add to Uncivilized’s comment. I read the Bible cover to cover and the NT multiple times as well as the “interesting parts” of the Old Testament multiple times. While that alone didn’t convince me to abandon the faith, I now feel that it should have. The sluaghtering of men, women, and children by Joshua at god’s command (JC’s father), King Saul, and Jehova himself, gave me cause for great and anguished reflection about just who I was worshiping.

    Another good critique that’s accessible is Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason.” Especially the second part, when he actually has access to a Bible. Thomas Paine is also the man who wrote “Common Sense” which laid out the case for the American Revolution.

  • Lux Aeterna

    Hello Ty,
    First off I’ll like to say that I’m 14 too. I’m an atheist and I started my journey in seeking out the truth around 12, when I felt that God’s existence is a possiblity that warrants some attention (Hey.it potentialy concerns our eternal fate!). My interest was further aroused when someone close to me who was as staunch an atheist as I’ve ever known became a Christian. I’ve read both books and websites (like this one!) by both theists and atheists. I won’t go into the evidences for and against — there’s a wealth of it out there for you to discover yourself. But I’ll like to offer you some tips from the perspective of someone the same age as you, on the same journey of discovery.

    1) Cover both points-of-views. Read both sides and try to read rebuttals to the arguments you hear. For example, you can start by reading Richard Dawkin’s God Delusion, followed by another book attempting to rebut him called “Dawkin’s Delusion”! Don’t stop there — try reading rebuttals to rebuttals and so on and so forth. Try to subject both theist and atheist evidences to equal amount of scrutiny. Don’t be biased!

    2) Religion probably plays a very big role in your life. It’s more than a religion to many theists friends I have–it’s an outlet for networking and meeting friends. Your family members are probably theists too. At 14, the social pressures to conform to your religion may be a bit overwhelming for you to really make any significant independent moves that they disapprove. But keep in mind that you have the right to search for your own answers, and no one can force you to believe in something you don’t. Also, you must keep in mind that what you want to be true, what you have been constantly told by your closest associates to be true, has no bearing on what really is true. You can seek their opinions of course, but come to your own decision. And don’t be afraid to stand up for what you think is true.

    3) Read and find out more about other religions like Islam and Buddhism. This can help put your religion in perspective with the plethora of religions out there. If nothing else, it can help you understand other faiths and broaden your perspective.

    I hope the above points, though albeit messy, will help you in your search. Also, if you have anything you wish to discuss and is looking for someone close to your age to do so, drop a note here and maybe we can chat via MSN?

    I wish you an enriching journey of discovery, whatever conclusions you may reach.

  • Kik

    Oddly enough, Ty (and Lux), I, too, am a 14-year-old atheist (who LOVES this site and EbonMusings). When I was in about fifth grade, I went through a short period of intense Christianity. The thing is, though, I came out of it. I have been to many, many church services (not with my parents, who are, respectively, atheist and agnostic, but with several of my friends) and read the Bible (well, parts of it) several times. I would also be happy to chat with you over MSN or IM, and I agree with Lux that your first step should be to read atheist books and their Christian rebuttals. Richard Dawkins is a GREAT place to start, and Christopher Hitchen’s God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is another great book.

    Good luck with your reading! Were I not an atheist, I would pray for you. As it is, I hope you’ll find happiness with whatever you choose!

  • velkyn

    If someone is old enough to claim that they have proof of something, I certainly hope they can be brave enough to come back and read things that show that they are wrong.

    But age seems to make little difference in this. In my experience, many Christians are liars and cowards who only know what they’ve been told and who are content to remain willfully ignorant.

  • Joffan

    Hello Ty. Let’s see what I can add to the erudition above, if anything. A personal view, anyway.

    I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world.

    There have been plenty of saviors, for particular people and situations. Some times other people, sometimes animals, sometimes even the weather. But no one all-saving Savior.

    I am 14,

    An age of immense possibility. Congratulations, have fun and take risks carefully.

    and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world.

    That’s tricky. How do you think that works? Everybody’s sins. How many sins do you think that is? On average, how many sins does someone commit per year, say?
    Dying – that’s a very strange thing to do, don’t you think? Not very… mmm… useful? And why is it that Jesus’ death was more effective for that purpose than other, more painful, much more protracted, equally undeserved and much better documented deaths?

    I’m almost offended that you could think there is no God.

    Well, that’s your choice. It’s a fairly useless thing to get (almost) offended about, though, if you want my opinion.

    If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I’d like to hear your claims.

    I think first I’d need to be convinced that there is a Savior of the world. Then we can talk about about whether Jesus is it. What practical difference does a Savior of the world make? How would I know there is one? How would I know if there was not one?

    No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would be irrelevant compared to the strong evidence of every prophesy that Jesus fulfilled perfectly.

    Oh, OK, so if I have some evidence to counter your claim, you’re going to ignore it? Thanks for saving me some time.

    Please submit some feedback

    There you go.

  • Ty

    I’m overwhelmed by the amount of responses. I don’t have very much time, so I’m only going to answer the last comment (for now). I will go in chronological order.

    I can see where there have been saviors throughout the history of the earth (which, by the way, I believe was created approx. 6,000 years ago, give or take a few hundred years). Moses saved the people of Egypt (unless you do not believe in the exodus from Egypt either). Another story that is lesser known is when Abram saved Lot from the kings of the east in Genesis 14. But that’s getting off topic. These men saved other men from their earthly oppressions; Jesus saved all people on the earth from eternal damnation (if they so choose to believe).

    Our minds cannot comprehend how God works things. Our minds are bound by time and space. Throughout time, people have sinned a LOT. It’s more than any number could comprehend. Imagine: six billion people on earth. Most people sin every few seconds just with some kind of thought. That’s a ton of sins. The reason Jesus had to die to accomplish the forgivness of sins is that He is the perfect sacrifice. Jewish people up to the time of Jesus had to sacrifice animals to cleanse their sins. Since these animals weren’t perfect, and obviously not without sin, this only temporarily cleansed their sins. Jesus was God on earth. He lived a perfect life, and was a human, and thus, fit the criteria to permanently cleanse our sin.

    I can see your point by that. I shouldn’t be offended by something like this. I am, however, concerned for the well being of atheists everywhere. Although you don’t believe in God, you’re His creation, and He loves you dearly. No Christian (should) want any person to go to hell, even a complete stranger. So I pray that God would change your heart (if you would allow Him to). God does not interfere with free will, however, so I pray that you would open your heart to Him.

    This comment opens up the door to many things. How can I convince you that there is a savior to the world? Do believe that the world needs a savior? Do you even believe that there is something wrong with the world?

    If you can find concrete evidence that Jesus never existed, and all martyrs died terrible deaths for no reason, I would be willing to listen.

    Thank you for your feedback.

    Anyway, I’d like to state again that I am praying for the non-believers of the world. I truly hope that you will be converted. Also, props to David Dvorkin for quoting South Park on the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Although I don’t see how there is a burden of proof on me. Anyway, thanks for your comments. I hope I will be able to read them very soon.

  • Ty

    Also, I would recommend “The Case for Christ,” by Lee Strobel. Lee was an atheist much like you, but when he started asking himself questions about Christianity, he was converted. Enjoy.

  • heliobates

    Also, I would recommend “The Case for Christ,” by Lee Strobel. Lee was an atheist much like you, but when he started asking himself questions about Christianity, he was converted. Enjoy.

    You should take some of the advice you’ve been given.

    Read critical reviews of TCfC and Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

    In front of an impartial jury, Strobel would have lost.

    Twice.

  • Polly

    Hi Ty,

    Also, I would recommend “The Case for Christ,” by Lee Strobel.

    I, for one have Read it. I also read “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. Both books are very superficial and cannot stand up to even a little scrutiny.

    You could even try Francis Collins’s book – he’s the guy who headed the team that cracked the genetic code – “The Language of God.” Despite his great scientific credentials, he cannot muster an original or half-way persuasive argument to defend his faith in Jesus, either.

    Read the opposing side. You’ll see how weak the so-called evidence is for Jesus as world savior.

  • Jim Baerg

    Hello Ty:

    I’ll only address your comment about the ago of the earth by pointing you to the website http://talkorigins.org/ especially http://talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-youngearth.html .

    See also Ebon’s post http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2007/11/calling-the-earth-to-witness

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Ty,

    …unless you do not believe in the exodus from Egypt either…

    A group of people that big wandering through the desert for that long would have left behind some archaeological trace, yet there is no evidence for the exodus. There are no trinkets left behind, no camps, nothing. So, no, the exodus most probably did not happen.

    …Jesus saved all people on the earth from eternal damnation (if they so choose to believe).

    What does my belief have to do with anything? Consider this: my belief or disbelief is a matter of interpretation of evidence; a factual question. It has no bearing on my morality. Why would god condemn us to hell for eternity for not being smart enough or clever enough to correctly interpret the world on a factual matter?

    Our minds cannot comprehend how God works things.

    Then how do you know that god is good?

    Most people sin every few seconds just with some kind of thought.

    I fail to see why thought-crime is acceptable for god to use to condemn us.

    The reason Jesus had to die to accomplish the forgivness of sins is that He is the perfect sacrifice.

    I fail to see how doing something as evil as killing an innocent person somehow absolves us of our sins. Two wrongs don’t make a right, especially when the wrongs are so barbaric in nature.

    Jesus was God on earth. He lived a perfect life, and was a human, and thus, fit the criteria to permanently cleanse our sin.

    Was part of his perfection using a weapon to threaten others with bodily harm? Was it when he killed a fig tree for not producing fruit out of season? Perhaps it was the part where he forced a woman to claim that she was lower than a dog before he would help her child be healed? Or, maybe it was when he got angry at people then went and said that anger is tantamount to murder, thus showing his hypocrisy? Should I go on?

    Although you don’t believe in God, you’re His creation, and He loves you dearly.

    So dearly that he will cast us into hell to be tormented and tortured for eternity? Do you think you could cast a loved one into hell?

    No Christian (should) want any person to go to hell, even a complete stranger.

    I’m glad that your morality is better than god’s. But, this is logically inconsistent. Since god created hell and designated it as a place for people to go, he must have meant for some people to go there, hence by wishing that he did not do it you are contradicting god’s will and hence sinning. This does raise an interesting question, however. If you do not will others to go to hell, what will you do in heaven when you can see the suffering of people in hell? Will you be happy about that?

    So I pray that God would change your heart (if you would allow Him to). God does not interfere with free will, however, so I pray that you would open your heart to Him.

    It’s demonstrably false that god changes people’s hearts, as shown by the fact that most atheists on this site are former Xians.

    Do believe that the world needs a savior?

    No. We have problems, obviously, but those problems will not be fixed by looking towards divine intervention. If we want to solve our problems, we will have to do it ourselves, just as we have done since history began.

    If you can find concrete evidence that Jesus never existed, and all martyrs died terrible deaths for no reason, I would be willing to listen.

    There’s scant evidence that Jesus existed, and far less evidence that he did, said, or was the things claimed in the Bible. Yet, that’s not my job. Why should I have to disprove Jesus? Why would it not be fair for me to say that unless you can disprove Mohammed, then you should be a Muslim? Once you understand this, you will hopefully understand the burden of proof is on you to support your claims.

    As to the “martyrs” there’s scant evidence as to what happened to them. We don’t know that they all died horrible deaths. Some of them we have some historical evidence for, most we do not. Even so, it’s nothing new for people to die for their beliefs! Suicide bombers do it all the time.

    Although I don’t see how there is a burden of proof on me.

    The burden of proof is on the one making a positive claim. For example, if you get arrested, the burden of proof in on the state to show that you performed the crime that you are accused of. In the same way, if you make a claim of god’s existence, it is up to you to show that it has merit. Otherwise, it would be rational to believe in anything that anyone could come up with, which is clearly not the case.

  • Brad

    Ty, I do respect your concern for our well-being, but we sincerely believe there is nothing to fret over at all.

    The Earth is obviously not 6,000 years old (EM’s essay Calling the Earth to Witness talks about this, and Talk.Origins in much more detail). As OMGF says, there is no evidence for the exodus (EM wrote about OT evidence in systematic detail in Let the Stones Speak). Does the Bible portray God as a glorious hero, or as An Almight Screwup? The concepts of “sin,” “cleansing,” and “sacrifice” are tribalistic notions that are remnants from cultures that indeed did not comprehend the universe. Today we have an understanding of the universe that goes beyond firmaments and angels; our explanations are demonstrably better, and adding God to the equation (especially the Christian God), like you seem to admit, makes the universe utterly incomprehensible.

    And as the title of Strobel’s “Case for Christ” indicates, the burden of proof is on the believer. As others here have said, there is much wrong with Strobel’s works and they can easily be picked apart in critical reviews. Most atheists are ex-Christians, so witnessing and subjective testimony will not bring us back.

  • silentsanta

    Ty,

    I think your choosing to focus on the comment ‘[there is] no one all-saving Savior’ is a shame.

    Basically all of us here are contending that you have inadequate reasons to believe in the religious claims you make. Your response of listing those claims out in more detail (lots of sins, jesus live a perfect life) does nothing to support your position. What we want is evidence and reason.

    You get near the question at hand when you ask “How can I convince you that there is a savior to the world?”
    If, when you adopted your religion, you did so for rational and defensible reasons, then convincing us should be the easiest thing in the world – all you would need to do is take the evidence that convinced you and tell us what it is, and then we would be convinced.
    I contend that you didn’t adopt your faith for defensible reasons; and you are welcome to dispute this by providing the reasons that convinced you.

    Regarding Strobel’s books, I haven’t read ‘the Case for Christ’ but I have read ‘the Case for a Creator’, and I was horrified by Strobel’s lack of journalistic integrity. I had no training in biology at the time, but some training in Critical Thinking, and I could tear arguments on every page to shreds without even trying. Interestingly, I now have several years of training in biology related disciplines and the book looks even more laughable now. You can read about the problems with Strobel’s work here. I might read his earlier book ‘The Case for Christ’ over the summer. (I think I have read about a quarter of it ages ago at one point).

  • silentsanta

    Ty,

    Also I want to add one last thing. You will find that many people here on daylight atheism have actually read many of the books from people with opposing positions, like Lee Strobel, CS Lewis etc. I want you to consider whether the people in your camp do likewise and seek out views opposing their own. Note; we do not expect you to have read as many books on the subject as us (due to your age, and due to the simple fact that we outnumber you on this forum.)

    But I want to stress here is that many of us atheists almost make a habit of trying to seeking out the arguments of people whose views we do not agree with. Many Christians do not exhibit this behaviour; and I congratulate you that it seems to be a character trait of yours, and a noble one at that.
    Regardless of what the discussion here leads to, I hope you will continue to engage with and try to understand people with whom you disagree. There is a sore lack of this trait in much of the world.

  • Ingersoll’s Revenge

    To make a completely unrelated point:

    I’m amazed to see that some of the younger people who posted comments on this thread have impeccable grammar and spelling. It’s nice to see that the text message-obsessed culture hasn’t buried all sense of literacy for today’s youth!

    M’kay, brief interlude over. Round two.

    *DING*

  • Jerryd

    Ty, you ask: “How can I convince you that there is a savior to the world?”

    In a previous post I asked you to read the Bible with an inquiring mind, asking yourself how it proves that God was perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, etc. That is how you can convince me that Jesus is god. Show me that he had the traits attributed to him, and more importantly still does.

    If my neighbor claims to be alive, and to be able to bowl a 300 game every time he bowls, how do I prove that? Either I go to his house (God never told me where his house is, so he can only come to mine when we get to proving God’s existence), or he comes to mine, I check that he is alive and breathing, verify his credentials, and we head to the bowling alley to watch him bowl. If he indeed bowls a 300 game each time, I have proven to my satisfaction that both his claim to be alive and to be a 300-game bowler are true. He didn’t just write about his abilities, he SHOWED THEM TO ME.

    The God of the Bible (Jesus, the Holy Ghost and God all rolled up into one), claims to be all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect, etc. If he existed, he could write something or say something that all humans will read or hear because he can do anything–he created the universe in its incalculable vastness. He walked the earth, talked to people, showed his backside in the Old Testament and his front side when he came as Jesus. So I don’t think it is too much to ask him to show his omniscience, by perhaps telling who the victor of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election will be with a exact state-by-state vote count and that of the electoral college. He could write that in a magic envelope that is attached to everyone’s body, which they can’t touch, open or move, and that will magically open election day the second the polls close showing the results. And he could heal the amputated limbs of a few hundred people back to normal form and function on that day to show that he is a loving, caring god all-powerful god. In summary, he could do ONE SINGLE MIRACULOUS THING BY HIMSELF and that would go a long way toward convincing me. Someone writing a book that tells me about their abilities doesn’t qualify as proof.

    He could have written even one word in the Bible that showed that he knew what the future was. He could have written the Bible in a manner dissimilar to that of first-century and earlier humans. He could have written his top-ten list of most important things so that they were really important and universally applicable throughout history. If you can’t write a better top-ten list than the Ten Commandments, you have not read them with your mind engaged, or you are illiterate. I’ve read your writing, Ty, and I know without the slightest reservation that you could write a list that out shines the one purported to come from God. He could have written the Bible so that believers don’t have to spend their life making excuses for his lack of knowledge, strength, perfection, love, kindness, etc.

    When you read something your perspective defines what you think about it. If you read “Star Wars” as non-fiction, you are going to spend your life making excuses for why you can’t find the Enterprise, or you can’t zap people with the lasers, or heal them with magic hand-held scanners or beam them to other planets. But if you read it as science fiction, no excuses needed. If you read the Bible as though it was the words of men who were utterly ignorant of science, cosmology, medicine, microbiology, chemistry, anatomy, economics, everything that we understand in today’s first-world countries, it makes perfect sense. No excuses needed, nor are any wild ideas to explain how a 14 -billion-year-old universe and a four-billion-year-old planet were created at the same time. Or how a loving god could tell his flock not to murder–leaving absolutely no wiggle room–”You shall not murder.” Then a few pages later tell you to murder homosexuals, women who are not virgins on their wedding night, old men who pick up sticks on the Sabbath, etc., etc., etc. You can’t be a perfect God and fill your one single book that you managed to write over 15 billion years with a single contradiction, much less dozens or hundreds of them.

    So give me some evidence and proof that Jesus exists, can do what he says he can, and you’ll convince me. Without that, he is a myth, and a dangerous one because some people believe that myth so strongly that they might stop at nothing to please the mythical god they worship.

  • Lux Aeterna

    I’ve read Strobel. But do you have the courage to read Dawkins?
    Discussion is two-way. If you want us to read Chrisitan literature, you might wanna take the time to read atheist literature too. :)

  • Lux Aeterna

    Oh, and I hope you’ll take up my offer of chatting via MSN, especially seeing that we’re same age. I’m looking for someone to discuss religious matters with, as it’s awkward for me to do so with most theists (even those my age).

  • karatemack

    @TY:

    I remember stories from the Bible. They don’t always make a lot of sense when you put yourself into the shoes of the character in the Bible story. Just think about it:

    God told Abraham to kill his son Isaac. This was the son of promise. Imagine Abraham trying to explain that to Sarah. Yet, Abraham believed God even when it seemed like God was demanding cruel things of him.

    When Joseph was sold as a slave and then sitting in a prison because he was falsly accused of rape I bet he had some difficulty seeing God. I imagine being Joseph and wonder what that must have been like.

    Moses was confronted by God directly from a burning bush. Yet Moses questioned God’s command (directly to God no less) to go speak to Pharaoh. Then once Moses got there things just seemed to get worse. I wonder what it was like for Moses when he stood before Pharaoh and his (Pharaoh’s) magicians turned water into blood.

    Try imagining what it was like for Jesus’ disciples right after Jesus got arrested. Or once they had seen Him die. To them it must have been over. Surely Jesus was a fake, right? I mean you can’t kill God…

    I guess my point is that, admittedly, God doesn’t seem (even in the Biblical stories) to supply much in the way of “EVIDENCE” up front. The “PROOF” is only witnessed and understood AFTER the fact. I suppose this is why people refer to faith as blind faith. It’s blind because we don’t know exactly how or when God is going to act.

    What assurances do we have then? Because many will tell you that we have NO evidence whatsoever. Well Ty, it’s not that we don’t have ANY evidence, it’s just that some critics have examined the evidence we do have and have decided for themselves that it isn’t enough to make them want to pursue a lifelong relationship with God. For your sake here are some of the evidences they have rejected:

    We have the witness of countless others who have come before us who tell us that you can trust God. We now have His Word (the Bible) which teaches that God is faithful and will fulfill His promises. We have the advantage of seeing the complete story of people like Joseph, in which we learn that God can be trusted even when life’s circumstances do not seem to make sense. We have the guiding of the Holy Spirit which speaks to us of our own salvation.

    Some would bring up things like historical or scientific evidence here. The problem is, even if you were to prove the Bible is historically or scientifically accurate (which many will reject anyhow) that doesn’t prove that the Bible’s claims about God are true. Why then do people (christians) argue about these points? More often than not these subjects are brought up in Church as a defense of the Bible, not as an attack against unbelief.

    Did Paul convince King Agrippa to follow God with his arguments? Did all the Israelites who saw the miracle of the red sea enter the promised land? Was Judas ever present for any of Jesus’ miracles? Did everyone who heard Jesus speak accept Him? We know the answer is “no” to all of these questions. Truth, arguments, and even miracles do little to convince people to follow God with their whole heart. That’s because people still have a choice. I don’t know if others on this site will disagree with this, but I wonder how much difficulty they have in convincing everyone of their ‘truth’ despite their excellent arguments (as certainly there are many here with very high intellects).

    So make no mistake. There is an element of faith involved. The only God experiment which is re-creatable is to put your faith (believing that God is who He says He is, and will do all He has promised to do) in Him and then examine the results at the end of your life which you dedicated to God. The “problem” with this is that you have to trust in God and you’re trusting Him with your entire life (which is, no doubt, a big deal… we are instructed to count the costs). Scientists this side of eternity reject this experiment because the results mostly lie just on the other side of eternity. It seems that many of those on this site have rejected God because He did not supply all the evidence they wanted up front on their terms. Of course we will not always dwell on this side of eternity but, once we get there, by then there will be no question… either way.

  • Brad

    As karatemack’s comment illustrates, a key element in proselytizing is making the idea of faith out to be an interpersonal act – like accepting, trusting, and loving an actual person. Of course, instead of having faith in someone you can regularly talk to and communicate with, you are supposed to have faith in a ‘spirit,’ some otherworldly being that does not manifest in this world as anything like a normal person would. As an atheist, I find it funny that people ask me to “accept Christ” as my “personal savior” when Jesus is just a legendary figure who I cannot talk to even if I wanted to. It’s a vexing problem that average people just hand-wave. As far as I can see, believers of all religions (including me when I was one) merely confabulate their divine communication, and continue to assume it exists in the same vein as Asch’s conformity experiment. (As Chris Hallquist puts it: “Well, this lack of God is awkward.”)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Truth, arguments, and even miracles do little to convince people to follow God with their whole heart.

    The Bible says differently in at least three different stories, as I wrote in “A Modern-Day Doubting Thomas“.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    karatemack,

    Well Ty, it’s not that we don’t have ANY evidence, it’s just that some critics have examined the evidence we do have and have decided for themselves that it isn’t enough to make them want to pursue a lifelong relationship with God.

    Actually, wrong on a couple of counts. There is no evidence for god unless you engage in begging the question and circular logic, which are both logically fallacious. Also, it’s not that we don’t “want to pursue a lifelong relationship with god,” it’s that we don’t see any evidence to make us believe that god exists. You do see the difference, do you not?

    We have the witness of countless others who have come before us who tell us that you can trust God.

    There are also countless others who say you can trust Allah or Shiva.

    We now have His Word (the Bible) which teaches that God is faithful and will fulfill His promises.

    Or so you claim, but you can’t verify that it is his word or that the Quran is not the word of Allah, etc.

    We have the advantage of seeing the complete story of people like Joseph, in which we learn that God can be trusted even when life’s circumstances do not seem to make sense.

    Only if you can show that the Bible is what you claim it to be and that it is accurate, etc.

    We have the guiding of the Holy Spirit which speaks to us of our own salvation.

    Again, so you claim, but where is the evidence for the holy spirit, and how do you know that it is real?

    We know the answer is “no” to all of these questions.

    And why is that? Why is this omni-max god so ineffectual?

    Truth, arguments, and even miracles do little to convince people to follow God with their whole heart. That’s because people still have a choice.

    This makes no sense for a variety of reasons. First, people do all sorts of things in order to convince themselves that they do believe. If most people saw a miracle, that was definitely god, they would believe. They would not believe and then choose not to believe simply because they wish to. Second, what does this say about god’s creation and his abilities if he can’t even convince people that he exists? Third, you are assuming that we have free will, which is logically impossible if god is omni-max.

    The only God experiment which is re-creatable is to put your faith (believing that God is who He says He is, and will do all He has promised to do) in Him and then examine the results at the end of your life which you dedicated to God.

    And why must we wait until the end of life in order to find out that god is real? By then, it is too late and your bloodthirsty god will throw us all into hell. It sounds to me like you are saying that we should simply have faith in god and hold onto it no matter what until we die, but I see no reason to do so. Why god? Why not have faith in Allah or in Shiva. Maybe you should have faith in the invisible, pink unicorns. There’s no rational reason to select the Xian god as the thing to have faith in.

    Scientists this side of eternity reject this experiment because the results mostly lie just on the other side of eternity.

    And for good reasons (see above for just some of the good reasons).

    It seems that many of those on this site have rejected God because He did not supply all the evidence they wanted up front on their terms.

    I don’t think it is too much to ask for at least a shred of evidence.

  • silentsanta

    I have had a similar discussion twice in the last week, involving the points that karatemack raises about personal experience as the basis of belief.

    My primary objection is this; if people really, honestly believe that personal experience is the best basis on which to base one’s notion of God (or Gods) then surely they should spend a great deal of time seeking out all the different ideas about God and religion, such as Islam, the Hare Krishnas, Mormonism, Shintoism, Animism, Peyote or MDMA (with props to Sam Harris), Buddhism etc and try to experience as many of these as they can, gaining as much personal experience as they can before committing to one.

    No one I have met seems to live like this; and I think it’s because people are actually being somewhat disingenuous when they put forward personal experience as a compelling basis for belief. Other belief systems tend to make them uncomfortable rather than curious, and they continue to act as if proselyting people with alternative beliefs that they haven’t personally experienced is somehow warranted.

    As almost no-one else seems to be taking this path, I have resolved to try to gain a broad range of religious experience, but I haven’t seen anything yet that is a remotely compelling indicator that there is some kind of god.

  • karatemack

    @Ebonmuse:

    I found your article on “A Modern-Day Doubting Thomas” very interesting. You present a good case for your argument, as you always do, however I am left with a few questions after reading this post…

    It seems that you know the Bible very well (or have at least turned a few pages in your time). I wonder why you list only these three examples. Moses parted the Red Sea as proof of God’s deliverence. (In addition to bringing the 10 plagues which caused Israel to be released from Egypt.) Joshua seems to command the sun to stand still so he can defeat all of his enemies. Peter speaks to Ananias and Sapphira and they drop over dead. Paul is bitten by a deadly snake and simply shakes it off into the fire. Jesus raises Lazerus from the dead. All of these occurences (along with many others that I did not list) seem to be God revealing Himself in real and obvious ways… why did you avoid commenting on these?

    In the story of Elisha it seems like you make a good case… until you read the rest of the story. In Chapter 19 Ahab tells Jezebel everything which had just happened (fire from heaven included) and her reaction is obviously belief? Nope. She seems to accept the account as accurate as she doesn’t do any investigation. She vows to kill Elisha. Elisha then musters the forces he gathered of those who saw the miracle and believed in God now and overthrows the woman… right? Nope, he goes into hiding and claims that all Israel except for him had abandoned God. (c19 v10) God has to reveal to Elisha that there are actually still 7000 others left who haven’t served Baal… how come Elisha didn’t know about all those who had converted because of his miracle?

    Paul is an interesting person in the Bible. He was seeking God zealously… and he found Him. Sounds like seek and ye shall find isn’t that far off. Did Paul doubt God’s existence altogether? Or did he just need a nudge in the right direction? I can’t tell you what is in the hearts of other people. But I believe that all who truly seek will find. So to respond to another person; I think it is an excellent idea to challenge what you believe and explore what other people believe. That’s what brought me to this site.

    Then there’s Thomas. Again, did Thomas doubt the existence of God? When Thomas saw Jesus risen from the dead, he believed. But didn’t Thomas see other miracles performed by Jesus before that? But all those other countless miracles (walking on water, feeding 5000, raising people from the dead, healing the sick, killing the fig tree) along with hearing all of Jesus’ arguments and sermons did nothing to compel him to believe. Strange. All those miracles did nothing to convince him. He was willing to throw Jesus out the window unless he saw Him alive for Himself. The disciples didn’t really understand exactly what Jesus was saying about His death and resurrection until after these events occurred. (the Bible teaches this) So it seems to me that Thomas wasn’t rejecting God altogether, but rather was unsure if he had placed his faith in Jesus as God correctly. When Jesus appears to Thomas, it is not the starting point of his faith (as Thomas had been with Jesus for years before this), it is the confirmation of his faith. But that’s not what you’re trying to make it seem like. You’re trying to make a case that this is the ONLY reason Thomas felt he had to believe in Jesus or in the existence of God at all (at least that seems to be the analogy you’ve drawn), which just isn’t true.

    No one seems willing to accept ‘personal experiences’ of others as ‘proof’ for God’s existence. So it kinda seems silly that you would demand a personal revelation from God. Sure, that might benefit you but how would you convince anyone else that your experience was real? I guess you wouldn’t be more successful than I have been.

    @OMGF:

    “Also, it’s not that we don’t “want to pursue a lifelong relationship with god,” it’s that we don’t see any evidence to make us believe that god exists. You do see the difference, do you not?”

    “And why must we wait until the end of life in order to find out that god is real? By then, it is too late and your bloodthirsty god will throw us all into hell.”

    It kinda… seems like… you have a problem with the whole “lifelong pursuit of God” thing… In saying you have no proof that God exists, you’re saying you shouldn’t pursue Him (since He doesn’t exist) (reason 1 you have a problem with it). Then you state that it’s unfair for you to wait until judgment to receive ‘concrete’ proof (reason 2 you have a problem with it). I guess I don’t understand… cause it still seems very much like you have a problem with it (I never said you didn’t feel you had reasons to not pursue God, simply that you had a problem with the idea of a lifelong pursuit of God). Also, in your response you ‘examined’ the ‘evidence’ I offered, and found it lacking the ability to convince you to pursue a lifelong relationship with God… so it would seem (on the surface) that you have reacted exactly as I told Ty you would. Maybe I’m missing something.

  • Brad

    To karatemack:

    First, my guess is that Ebonmuse referred to those three stories because they were specifically focused on the subject of doubt and because those are the most popular stories relevant to the argument. Ask even a secular believer, and they will probably recognize at least one or two of the stories.

    Second, it doesn’t appear you are understanding OMGF correctly. When he says,

    And why must we wait until the end of life in order to find out that god is real? By then, it is too late and your bloodthirsty god will throw us all into hell

    … he is taking his understanding of theism as a hypothetical and then calling the idea absurd and ridiculous. It’s the informal, rhetorical equivalent of a “reductio ad absurdum“: assume the opponent’s premises, logic, or conclusions, and use them to draw out obvious falsehoods or absurdities in an effort to win others over to your side of a debate and show your opponent’s reasoning to be wrong. Whenever atheists disparage God in criticism, this is probably what’s going on – not the mad lashing-out of an angry person. (Although there will be frustration and impatience, and maybe passion involved in the criticism. I also don’t deny that some people do in fact harbor past emotions felt towards “God”.) Many times apologists misinterpret this tactic, as Mr. Hinman does with me on CADRE:

    I hate X, boo X. Everytime you say you like X I’m going to tell you how very very much I hate X.

    Third,

    No one seems willing to accept ‘personal experiences’ of others as ‘proof’ for God’s existence. So it kinda seems silly that you would demand a personal revelation from God. Sure, that might benefit you but how would you convince anyone else that your experience was real? I guess you wouldn’t be more successful than I have been.

    Actually, way too many are willing to accept “personal experiences” as witness of God’s existence. Religion gets a lot of power that way, unfortunately. As an atheist, I don’t demand anything from any supposed god I don’t know to exist – I merely try to figure out what in the world could count as reason to believe. And to your last two sentences: exactly. God could do much better for us than these half-baked religions we have today. (Like I said, hypothetical …)

  • Virginia

    ty: If you can find concrete evidence that Jesus never existed, and all martyrs died terrible deaths for no reason, I would be willing to listen.

    First of all, in your statement above, you assumed that there were many martyrs died terrible deaths for Christianity.

    If you checked the history, claims of “multitudes of Christians” being martyered, especially during earlier years of Christianity under Roman Empire, had little or no evidence to back them up. The so called martyrdom of the Apostles were all “supposed facts” being “claimed” many years after their death.
    Check this out: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2007/06/how-did-the-apostles-die

    If you even try to check for historical refererences of such persecution, you would find none of those “martyrs died terrible deaths” you claimed.

  • Virginia

    ty,

    Another point about martyrs died terrible deaths for Christianity. People will do things beyond comprehension out of sheer zeal towards an ideal or a belief regardless if that belief/ideal is true.

    Look at suicide bombers, look at those “Gates of Heaven” followers who took poison — people, when touched by powerful emotions or experiences, and when they decided to shutdown their senses, are capable to die for no reason (or for bad reasons).

    In short, martyrs died terrible deaths for Christianity does not make “Jesus Savior” exist.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    I can’t tell you what is in the hearts of other people. But I believe that all who truly seek will find.

    Are you really going to contend that none of us here that deconverted from Xianity really tried to find god? That we didn’t really seek with our hearts? Sounds like you’re saying none of us are true Scotsmen!

    In saying you have no proof that God exists, you’re saying you shouldn’t pursue Him…

    No, I’m saying that we have no rational reason to believe in god, and further that we have no rational reason for deciding that it is the Xian god that we should pursue instead of any other fanciful notion.

    Then you state that it’s unfair for you to wait until judgment to receive ‘concrete’ proof…

    Correct, that is unfair and unjust. god is asking us to weigh the evidence and come to a factual conclusion. Only at the end does he provide the evidence we need in order to make an informed decision. At this point, however, it is too late and he tosses us into hell for not making being able to factually discern the world around us correctly. This is inherently unjust.

    I guess I don’t understand… cause it still seems very much like you have a problem with it (I never said you didn’t feel you had reasons to not pursue God, simply that you had a problem with the idea of a lifelong pursuit of God).

    Your original statement gave the impression that atheists are simply choosing not to believe. This is incorrect.

    Also, in your response you ‘examined’ the ‘evidence’ I offered, and found it lacking the ability to convince you to pursue a lifelong relationship with God… so it would seem (on the surface) that you have reacted exactly as I told Ty you would.

    No, this is incorrect. You have given no evidence for god. All of your “evidence” is predicated on begging the question and special pleading. One must believe that god is real and that this somehow leads to the “evidence” in question, and then viola, it somehow constitutes evidence for god? No, sorry, it doesn’t work that way, that way is logically fallacious.

    Also, there’s a difference between “lacking the ability to convince [me] to pursue a lifelong relationship with god” and “decid[ing] for themselves that it isn’t enough to make them want to pursue a lifelong relationship with god.” The former indicates that the evidence is suspect, while the latter indicates that I’m simply choosing not to accept the evidence.

  • karatemack

    Sorry if it seems harsh to you to say you were never really Christians because you chose to leave… It seems like this is what the Bible implies in 1 John 2:19 though.

    If there were evidence which convinced you to believe in God, would you automatically accept the Bible as His Word? I suspect not. If the Bible were accepted as God’s Word, would it be safe to assume we can draw all morality strictly from the Bible? I suspect again the answer you would give would be no.

    It seems like there are three (3) issues you want dealt with at once. (1) The existence of God. (2) Proof that God is good if He does exist. -and- (3) Proof that the Bible is God’s Word if He does exist.

    Am I correct in at least this much?

    Either way, I’ve given more depth to the discussion of suppossed ‘miracle’ conversions which lends to my argument that even if God did ‘show’ Himself to you in a very evident way, it would not overwhelmingly cause you to make Him your God. (a crude way of saying it) The Biblical character “Satan” knows that God exists. He has seen God face to face, stood in His presence, initiated a rebellion against God. All this ‘concrete’ evidence wasn’t enough to prevent Satan from questioning God’s authority and leading the rebellion against God.

  • silentsanta

    karatemack:

    It seems like there are three (3) issues you want dealt with at once. (1) The existence of God. (2) Proof that God is good if He does exist. -and- (3) Proof that the Bible is God’s Word if He does exist.

    In essence, Yes. Which of these strikes you as unreasonable to ask for? Which of these did you ask for before you made your decision?

    Note: Technically I’m not actually asking for ‘proof’, I’m simply asking for evidence that makes it significantly more compelling than the alternatives. Demanding an absolute ‘proof’ would be unfair, as almost all knowledge is provisional.

  • silentsanta

    ty,

    I discourage you from spending much time determinine when and/or how many apostles and early beleivers were martyred. This is because even if there were many (which I suspect) rather than few, this doesn’t make the case for the existence of God (or the specifically christian version of God) any more likely.

    Therefore the death count of early Christian believers (just like the deaths of early Muslim believers, or early Mormon believers) are basically irrelevant to the question of the existence of God.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sorry if it seems harsh to you to say you were never really Christians because you chose to leave… It seems like this is what the Bible implies in 1 John 2:19 though.

    It doesn’t seem harsh, it seems logically fallacious as in the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    If there were evidence which convinced you to believe in God, would you automatically accept the Bible as His Word?

    It would depend on the evidence. I think we would have to have evidence that the Bible is the word of god, however, in order to believe that the Bible is indeed the word of god.

    If the Bible were accepted as God’s Word, would it be safe to assume we can draw all morality strictly from the Bible?

    The answer is no because the Bible is not a very moral book.

    Am I correct in at least this much?

    I don’t care if you do them all at the same time or not. You can do one or another, but let’s see some evidence.

    Either way, I’ve given more depth to the discussion of suppossed ‘miracle’ conversions which lends to my argument that even if God did ‘show’ Himself to you in a very evident way, it would not overwhelmingly cause you to make Him your God.

    How so? Because I would want evidence that the Bible is the word of god? If god is real and omnipotent and desires us to believe in him, then it is not impossible for god to provide us with evidence. In fact, it would be quite easy for him (as anything must be to an omnipotent god). He would know what evidence each of us requires and be able to provide it with no issues on his end. This is not what we see, however, so one of the assumptions made must be false.

    The Biblical character “Satan” knows that God exists. He has seen God face to face, stood in His presence, initiated a rebellion against God. All this ‘concrete’ evidence wasn’t enough to prevent Satan from questioning God’s authority and leading the rebellion against God.

    That’s a bait and switch. Rebellion is quite different from disbelief.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    If there were evidence which convinced you to believe in God, would you automatically accept the Bible as His Word? I suspect not. If the Bible were accepted as God’s Word, would it be safe to assume we can draw all morality strictly from the Bible? I suspect again the answer you would give would be no.

    It seems like there are three (3) issues you want dealt with at once. (1) The existence of God. (2) Proof that God is good if He does exist. -and- (3) Proof that the Bible is God’s Word if He does exist.

    They wouldn’t have to be dealt with all at once, karatemack. God could certainly demonstrate (1) and (3) very easily, though, and in time, if we actually got the chance to know God, we might very well come to believe (2). The notion that strong evidence that God actually exists would have no effect on the number of people willing to do as God says is ridiculous.

    Seriously, does your argument really boil down to “You wouldn’t believe even if you did have evidence”?

  • karatemack

    @Lynet:

    “Seriously, does your argument really boil down to “You wouldn’t believe even if you did have evidence”?”

    If the only evidence you will accept are ‘miracles’, then yes. That is exactly what I’m arguing. I find no evidence that lasting heart change occurs in people through a single subjective experience.

    Interventions, counseling and treatment can help an alcoholic suppress his desire for alcohol. These are long processes which take time. Only the alcoholic who commits themselves to the change will experience it. I’ve encountered many who struggle with drinking and have had ‘close calls’ of one sort or another. After avoiding that almost fatal car accident or nearly dying from alcohol poisoning or after they come to realization that they are about to lose their family many times an alcoholic will seem to respond to the sudden and drastic life event which occurred. In the first few moments after this tramatic experience, the alcoholic seems very much to change. Unfortunately, unless they commit themselves to treatment and accountability, this shallow change slowly disappears and the alcoholic is back to the same old habits they had before. Talk to any counselor (non-christian even) and ask them the importance of committment to change. Ask them if a tramatic life event is enough (all on it’s own) to produce life change.

    Even if God appeared to you tonight, I wonder how long it would take until you slowly started to question your own experience. Over time your confidence would fade and more ‘rational’ approaches to explain the ‘emotional’ state which caused you to ‘imagine’ God would take over.

    How many people were in church the Sunday after 9/11 (for americans)? Did all those people commit to a permenant life change?

  • Brad

    Since this open thread is a “battle royale,” I’ll feel free to continue this discussion.

    Sorry if it seems harsh to you to say you were never really Christians because you chose to leave…

    (No, that’s not harsh to me in the least, although I’m not sure you you’re addressing with “you”.) Let me state this: I believed in God, I believed in Christianity, and I readily identified myself as a Christian. I grew up that way and never thought – never even dreamed – of anything different. Whether or not I fit into the Bible’s exclusionist retroactive definition of “Christian” does not change this fact nor the insights it has given me.

    Okay, now I’ll take some of your stated theism, and pair it up with two other scenarios:

    The Biblical character “Satan” knows that God exists. He has seen God face to face, stood in His presence, initiated a rebellion against God. All this ‘concrete’ evidence wasn’t enough to prevent Satan from questioning God’s authority and leading the rebellion against God.

    “A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”

    “Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle–but no dragon.

    “Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

    “Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

    You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

    “Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floates in the air.”

    Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

    “Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

    You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

    “Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.” And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

    The year is estimated to be around 2199 and humanity is fighting a war against intelligent machines created in the early 21st century. The sky is covered in thick black clouds created by the humans in an attempt to cut off the machines’ supply of solar power. The machines responded by using human beings as their energy source, growing countless people in pods and harvesting their bioelectrical energy and body heat. The world which Neo has inhabited since birth is the Matrix, an illusory simulated reality construct of the world as it was in 1999, developed by the machines to keep the human population docile in their captivity. Morpheus and his crew are a group of free humans who “unplug” others from the Matrix and recruit them to their resistance against the machines. Within the Matrix they are able to use their understanding of its nature to bend the laws of physics within the simulation, giving them superhuman abilities.

    (Sources here and here.) To me, it seems like your apologetic is an attempt to explain why there is conspicuously insufficient evidence for God. Of course, this kind of apologetic can work towards all other ends, too, as illustrated above. The epistemological problem then becomes: which explanations are better than others? Theoretically, the reason us muggles don’t see wizards in real life is because they have magical powers to shield themselves from our view. So, which is the better explanation of the world as we see it: there are wizards that we can’t see who shield themselves from view, or there are no wizards and the whole idea has been contrived by our fantastic imaginations and pushed to the limits of intellectual defensibility? The problem is that this anything-goes apologetic merely retreats into relativism, where you appear to have no standard to judge whether or not a lack of evidence can be negative evidence. (And this, I personally hypothesize, is why so much Christian apologetics must rely on strategy involving ‘faith’ and supposed interpersonal communication with God.)

    Even if God appeared to you tonight, I wonder how long it would take until you slowly started to question your own experience. Over time your confidence would fade and more ‘rational’ approaches to explain the ‘emotional’ state which caused you to ‘imagine’ God would take over.

    Yes, trying to convince individuals with such simplistic means would be silly of an omnipotent God. However, there are even more obvious, permanent, and global solutions that God should have at his arsenal. Just use your imagination. (Ebonmuse’s One True Religion has some idea about this.)

    If he is all-powerful, and desires for us to know him above all else, then what is stopping him? Does free choice not beg for informed choice?

  • karatemack

    @Brad:

    “To me, it seems like your apologetic is an attempt to explain why there is conspicuously insufficient evidence for God.”

    I am younger than most here, not as articulate and perhaps (actually almost definately) not as intelligent or educated as most on this site (in my first year of Bible college now). Because of this I do find myself seeming to communicate ideas poorly. (I’m trying to work on that) The only thing I meant to point out in my last few posts is that the ‘evidence’ most demand of God lies in miracles and personal subjective experiences. I only wish to state that I do not feel like this would be an effective way for God to drive the nail in the coffin of His existence.

    Is God ‘holding back’? Or better, are there other ways in which God could reveal Himself which would leave no doubt? Yes, God does have more in his ‘arsenal’ to ‘prove’ His existence. Why then, does He not reveal Himself clearly now? (IE: Why does God leave room for doubt?)

    Every time God revealed Himself to people in the Bible, the reaction was the same. The immediate response is similar to that of the Israelites who witnessed the fire falling from heaven. (note that in some cases the event led to a closer relationship with God, in others it made no difference… so while the miracle or special event was sometimes an element involved in changing people, it was definately not the deciding factor as some have made it out to be… or else everyone who encountered Jesus would have become Christians) So, if God can “show” Himself… and the result is “everyone believes in God” then why doesn’t He do this?

    While in the presence of God it is difficult (I would say impossible) to ‘resist’ God. I believe in free will. I believe we can only have free will if there is room for failure. If God revealed Himself fully to all people at all times there might not be room for failure. If there’s no room for failure then people would never have a choice. I believe God wants people to have a choice. Therefore, He leaves room for doubt.

    But, by my own definition, if I believe God is perfect then God has no choice… which means God has no free will… right? Sure, in a certain sense of viewing God. God is a slave to God. God must be God.

    But… free will is something to be desired isn’t it? And if God doesn’t have free will (IE: the ability to do evil) then God lacks something good… doesn’t he? This assumes that free will is the substance and not the result. The substance of the good (to me) is the ability to choose God. In granting people the ability to choose Him, God must also allow for an alternate choice (to do evil). Free will is the term we use to describe our state which results from God granting us the ability to choose Him (which is a good thing). So… again we’re faced with the same thing… God can’t choose to not be God.

    So then God is limited. Ok. I don’t feel like having the omnipotent conversation anymore. Let’s not describe God as omnipotent then. Let’s say that God can do everything but not be God. What is wrong with viewing God this way? (in light that we’re not calling God omnipotent?) How does this limit God’s ability to help or provide for His people or bring about any results He wants to?

    What do we believe… God’s Word or our perception of the world? Eve was perhaps the first scientifically minded person. She knew God said (or at least she was told God said) she should not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She looked at the fruit. It didn’t look bad. It seemed to her like this fruit would make her wise. Who was Adam to create this invisible ‘God’ to tell her what to do or not do? She chose to obey her senses rather than the commands of God. I suppose she should be commended on this site for being the first woman to reject the rule of her husband and belief in religion in favor of her ‘scientific’ experience.

    I tell my children what to do or not do all the time. They don’t always understand why. I undertand why. They just have to obey. But… the children grow up… the eventually learn why… right? Sure. And who says God won’t one day reveal to us the why… (He reveals to us the ‘why’ for many of the stories in the Bible, but much after the obedience came) Either way… even in our human experience we expect obedience to come before understanding.

    If I drive into a state I have never gone into without a seatbelt on and am pulled over by a police officer do I have a case? He can see my out of state liscense plate. Is my claim of ‘not knowing the rules’ going to spare me from getting a ticket? Hop in the car with a friend for a quick drive… during which they are involved in a hit and run… I’m not sure how familiar you are with the legal system… but your lack of knowledge that there would be a hit and run does not make you less responsible (than if you had known, the driver bears greater guilt) in the eyes of the law (even though you were only a passenger). Or we could step out of western society for a moment (as I know you must be aware there are many cultures much different that ours). Go to Singapore and spit on the street. Then claim innocence because you did not know the rules. What about accidental crimes that you didn’t mean to commit? If I accidentally drive my car into the back of yours am I still responsible to pay the damages even though I didn’t know I would hit your car (when I got in to drive) and certainly didn’t mean to hit your car… It just doesn’t hold up even by our human standards. Responsibility does not require knowledge of the ‘rules’.

    Proof for God… does it exist? Yes. But again, there’s no point in going into any of that because it’s been clearly stated by most on this site that they will only believe in God if He personally reveals Himself to them through a subjective experience or miracle. For now I wish only to establish that this would not necessarily cause them to have a personal relationship with God, though if they already believed but had doubts it could be the ‘straw which breaks the camels back’ so to speak. As it is only one method (not even the best) by which God could compel people to obey Him, then why would He continue to employ it?

    Why did He ever choose to act or work this way? Perhaps it was to provide us with the example we needed to understand that our demanded evidence (even if supplied) would not compel us to worship the One True God.

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    You’re absolutely right about the fact that belief doesn’t necessarily mean worship. Personally, I suspect that if God or Allah as depicted in certain holy books did unambiguously exist, all of us here on this board would believe in him, but almost none would worship him. For good reason — as depicted in the Bible and the Koran, he is evil by pretty much every normal standard. Of course, you might assume that God knows better than us — that he is so far above us that he can see patterns we can’t, and so in his universe (as opposed to ours), his evil acts are truly good in some sense. This is entirely possible, of course, but in such a case, we are definitely NOT made in God’s image, because by this definition he is decidedly inhuman — he does not share our definitions of good and evil. In this case, belief in God would morally REQUIRE us to oppose him, not to worship.

    Another option, which comes up occasionally in fiction, is that God is imprisoned or otherwise impotent, in which case God does not require our prayers or worship and they may even be counter-productive. I can’t prove this, of course, but then you can’t prove the opposite, so we’re even. (grin)

    As long as there’s no unambiguous evidence he exists in the first place, of course, this is all irrelevant. But like Isaac Asimov, if I ever do end up before his judgement seat and am about to be cast into hell, I hope I will have the guts to tell him off for not providing said unambiguous evidence. Not to mention his questionable morality. I don’t expect this, of course — for reasons God, if he exists, is surely well aware of, and can make clear to everyone on earth at any time.

    I’m still waiting…!

  • silentsanta

    karatemack wrote:

    Proof for God… does it exist? Yes. But again, there’s no point in going into any of that because it’s been clearly stated by most on this site that they will only believe in God if He personally reveals Himself to them through a subjective experience or miracle.

    NO.

    You don’t get to just make a claim like that and just walk away from it.
    You don’t get to obfuscate the issue by presupposing what our reactions might be. If you are an intellectually honest person interested in an earnest discussion of the existence of God, you cannot simply refer to ‘proofs of the existence of God’ and then not cite them, or lay them out for inspection, or provide a reference to some author who expresses the case in a manner you agree with.

    I don’t think there is a single atheist on this site that would dismiss a structurally valid, compelling ‘proof of God’ by demanding a personal experience as well. At the very least, it would make us all re-examine our positions.

    Out with it.

  • Joffan

    Ty, I was fortunate to be the last comment on the trail when you dropped by, and I hope you’re taking the time to read all the other interesting points raised ahead of mine (eg. Sam’s point: who wrote about Gethsemane?), and indeed the responses since too. I’m afraid you betray a deep lack of knowledge by clinging to a 6000-yr old earth, and let me reassure you somewhat that the significant majority of Christians do not believe that. So please take the time and effort investigate that, for example using Jim Baerg’s links above, because there’s no reason to put yourself in the uncomfortable position of believing in a proven error.

    I said:

    What practical difference does a Savior of the world make? How would I know there is one? How would I know if there was not one?

    and you said:

    How can I convince you that there is a savior to the world? Do believe that the world needs a savior? Do you even believe that there is something wrong with the world?

    but the problem here is that you’re not answering my questions, and the questions you raise, presumably rhetorically in the hope that they have obvious answers, do not address the same points. It makes no difference whether the world needs a savior or whether there’s something wrong with it. My point is, how would you or I be able to tell whether or not any such all-encompassing savior existed, by observing the state of the world? If there is so much wrong with the world (as you seem to think), isn’t that rather a strong indication that no such savior exists?

    Something to think about. Incidentally, your sin-rate-estimate exceeded my expectations by some margin. 5 trillion sins per hour – wow, that’s going some.

  • Brad

    karatemack:

    I’m not even legally an adult yet, so you’re definitely not the youngest here. You don’t need to worry much about communication, intelligence, or education; I personally think you write just as well as the average DA commenter. Your ideas, on the other hand, are not the norm in this sanctuary so you’re pretty much surviving in the lion’s den.

    Now, I have quite a few nitpicks. Yes, I am tired of you and OMGF arguing omnipotence, so we can drop that. (Except I will link to An Impoverished Infinity.) Personally, I do not see any weight against your position when some atheists say “God is a slave to God.” (Atheists normally gripe about question-begging behind the scenes at this point, but I’ll dodge this topic right now.) Some more points:

    Every time God revealed Himself to people in the Bible, the reaction was the same.

    My counter is that, within the stories of the OT, God did a lousy job of “revealing Himself.” Aside from questionable large-scale miracles, there were only individual prophets and officials to trust (many of them wavering in their trustworthiness…), and so God wasn’t quite the most easy to communicate with during these times, according to legend. Not to mention he played favorites by having a “Chosen People” and sending them on a [insert adjective here] path to the “Promised Land.”

    Free will is the term we use to describe our state which results from God granting us the ability to choose Him (which is a good thing).

    You can see most of my qualms with “free will” in this comment of mine. There are further qualms, which I briefly summarized earlier in this thread for Ty:

    Why does God choose to have his Earthly embassy mimic the forms of other, false and fake embassies from us humans? Why does religion need child indoctrination and emotional manipulation to support itself?

    Next,

    What do we believe… God’s Word or our perception of the world?

    … or perhaps our perception of “God’s Word”?

    Responsibility does not require knowledge of the ‘rules’.

    The government is not omnipotent; it cannot really see who is innocent and who is guilty. An omnipotent, omnibenevolent rule-maker would act with compassion, not with mindless and blind metaphysical calculation. To say otherwise is to make this God nothing more than a divine mechanism, not a loving intelligence. Responsibility, whatever it is, should indeed require the knowledge of the rules if the instigator really is all-powerful and all-good.

    even in our human experience we expect obedience to come before understanding.

    I think there are two oddities here. One, is that if God chooses to teach the human race like a child growing up, then he is a collectivist. (Some people live in some time periods while other people live in others – this becomes inherently unfair. Why were those people handed over to be killed by Mao Zhe-Dong?) The second oddity is that we, as children, don’t even understand if we have parents or what their orders are, so this is a little bit different from the original portrayal in your analogy of children and parents.

    On to business – let me try and get our two theses correct. You say,

    it’s been clearly stated by most on this site that they will only believe in God if He personally reveals Himself to them through a subjective experience or miracle. For now I wish only to establish that this would not necessarily cause them to have a personal relationship with God

    I do not agree with the first part, but I agree with you on the second. Things like near-death experiences and miracles would not necessarily convince us, because for us to be honest and unbiased, we would have to give weight to naturalistic explanations as well. However, I would like to see you back up the statement before this thesis: “Proof for God… does it exist? Yes.” I would be very interested in seeing new and original proposed proofs of God that I have yet to look at. I have already found that what I call “nonreligious” proofs of God, or philosophical proofs (such as appeals to necessity, causation, cosmology, anthropology, teleology, etc.) are conceptual equivocations. I think if there’s going to be any convincing argument for God, it would be one that better explains our knowledge of reality with God than without it, and which does so with minimal assumptions (via Occam’s razor, or parsimony). And thus I bring myself to my own thesis countering yours:

    The epistemological problem then becomes: which explanations are better than others?

    So far as I can tell, the Bible, Christianity, and the world is more rationally explainable without God than with God, and thus I am an atheist. I know that, hypothetically, if I were to ever reconvert to Christianity, I would never regret being an atheist. I am being honest with all that I know. And that is why I am unapologetic.

  • silentsanta

    Brad said:

    So far as I can tell, the Bible, Christianity, and the world is more rationally explainable without God than with God, and thus I am an atheist. I know that, hypothetically, if I were to ever reconvert to Christianity, I would never regret being an atheist. I am being honest with all that I know. And that is why I am unapologetic.

    Superbly well put.

  • karatemack

    @Brad:

    “Why does God choose to have his Earthly embassy mimic the forms of other, false and fake embassies from us humans?”

    I would answer this by stating that Satan is a real being who is intelligent and crafty. I would say that from the beginning of time Satan crafted false religions which reflected certain portions of the real one. I realize this isn’t concrete ‘proof’ that my ‘version’ is the best… however it does at least give the possibility that this might be the case. (IE: You can either say Noah is reflected in Gilgamesh, or you could counter by saying Gilgamesh is reflected in Noah.)

    “Why does religion need child indoctrination and emotional manipulation to support itself?”

    I like the phrase child indoctrination. I use it flippantly now. I wonder if teaching children bedtimes is also not a form of child indoctrination. What I mean is not to state that Christians do not attempt to teach their children their beliefs (IE: indoctrinate them), but I question if this is actually wrong assuming the beliefs are correct. (big assumption I know, but then I wouldn’t teach my kids the things I currently believe except that I believe them)

    I believe this “child indoctrination” is not vital to the success of Christianity. Many people “find” God in adulthood. (just as some reject their upbringing and decide to become atheists as many here have indicated they have) Rather, I believe “child indoctrination” in religion is the result of love. Allow me to explain. Let’s say I believed something irrational and untrue… let’s say I thought that eating a banana would cause my child to die. Because I love my child I don’t want them to die. Therefore I will not allow my child to eat bananas and will teach them the dangers of eating bananas because I love my child and don’t want them to die. My point here is not that it’s ok to teach our children irrational things… my point is that teaching children religion is not the result of my wanting my child to ‘protect my faith’… it is a result of me wanting my faith to protect my child. As an atheist, will you not try to warn your child about the dangers of religion? You will do so though you don’t deny you cannot prove beyond doubt that God does not exist. Do you consider your unproven belief child ‘indoctrination’ or ‘abuse’? Furthermore, do you assume that atheism depends upon the indoctrination of children?

    “… or perhaps our perception of “God’s Word”?”

    It seems silly to question the interpretation of God’s Word until we at least accept there is a God and He has supplied us with His Word. Therefore I started with the broader distinction which must first be settled. If you are willing to accept God exists and has supplied us with His Word… then we can get into a debate about which is the best method to interpret His Word.

    If you claim you will accept God’s Word once it becomes reasonable to you, then you are assuming that the Word of God is subjective. Which, if God supplied us with the Bible, then isn’t it safe to assume He originally intended the people who wrote it to deliver a specific message to those it was directly written to and to all who would later read it? I’ve brought up the HGRT method before. I’m not sure if you accept this method, but I suppose we could argue why or why this is not the best method to interpret the Bible.

    Proofs for God’s existence:

    Well… to be honest… I’m not sure I really can offer you anything new. I’ve almost always argued for CCG. (Creation, Conscience, and God’s Word) I’m not very good at articulating what I mean, although I do appreciate your compliment.

    Creation (1)- We can observe things in nature which display characteristics of God. With all of our knowledge and technology we cannot “stop” hurricaines or reproduce the electrical power of a lightning bolt. Certainly this is only reflective of God’s attributes if you believe in God, so I offer this as merely exhibit A for proof of God’s attributes for those who believe in God.

    Creation (2)- There is complexity in nature. How it go there is the real question. Was it through nature or by divine cause? I understand the argument that support systems could have once existed which are now long gone… I also understand that God (being the original cause) has no “God” above Him and while the complexity of nature suggests an infinately complex Creator God, this does nothing more than affirm the attribute of God’s infinate superiority to all creation (and therefore to any created being). I will concede that both explanations are logically possible (given the presuppositions vital to both arguments are accepted), however I have decided that creation is the more likely account. Why?

    (Original Cause)- Science admits that there is no original cause. 3rd law of thermodynamics which I’m sure many here know much better than I. I suppose that an atheist could counter that energy and matter have always existed. After all, as a Christian, I appeal to God’s eternal existence to support my claim. So let’s be fair. Fine. Let’s assume for both models that either God always existed or that energy and matter always existed. In the creation model, there is an intelligent being to cause things to change. In the energy and matter model I do not know if science has provided a reasonable explanation for why the state energy and matter always existed in would have changed (originally) to form any star or solar system or anything which resulted in the big bang or which supplied the device for the scientific theories we have. For this reason, it seems more logical (to me) to believe in an intelligent Being controlling the entire process… rather than to believe that energy and matter simply changed one day. (again, I’m sure I’ve done a horrible job of explaining what I mean)

    (Missing evidence in the fossil record)- Some scholars reject the historicity of the Bible because of claims it makes which are not currently supported by archaelogical record. If this is a fair critique of the Biblical historical accounts, then I feel it is fair to question macroevolution on the same grounds. (please don’t cringe that I said macroevolution… i know it is sometimes considered a scientific sin)

    A nice video which kinda sums this up can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2RD4vTuPN0&NR=1

    Conscience- Well… since I first used this argument I have heard decent arguments how morality and concepts of morality could have evolved over time. Of couse I accept the view that morality is nothing more than comparing our actions to the standards of a righteous God. Again, both are plausable explanations. I’m left again with accepting the one which seems to make more sense to me. In the concept of evolutionary morality, things would become moral or immoral as the affected either the individual or society. Therefore, it is not necessary that morality remain the same. However I find that within social groups there exists universally binding moral standards. (IE: rape, murder, etc.) But, you might argue, sometimes Israelites were ordered to ‘murder’ babies and women and defenseless old people. Let me be clear. When I refer to morality within a social group I mean actions of a member of a certain group committed against other members of that same group. If an Israelite killed another Israelite in cold blooded murder, it was wrong. If a ‘barbarian’ from the celtic tribes murdered one of their own, we have on record it was considered wrong. Take any civilization, that I’m aware of, and there are certain moral standards which are found nearly universally when applied to members of any given group concerning their actions towards others also within their group. (excluding acts of war, tribalism, etc) If morality were based upon an evolutionary process, then as the races of humanity divided we should no longer find so many similarities between the moral standards of seperate groups. This makes the God standard the most logical explanation to me.

    God’s Word- To me it is the best religous writing after the OT which explains the OT. (which is why I believe it instead of the Quran) As I read the OT I am left with the impression that God is not done working. (this is confirmed by the fact that practicioners of Judaism look forward to what God is going to do in Messiah) I believe the NT explains perfectly how Jesus could be the Messiah described in the OT. I believe the Bible has been more influential than any other religous book in terms of not only it’s practicioners, but also the fact it has been a major influence of world politics and affairs longer than any other religous book, more literature has been written about the Bible than any other religous book, and the fact that the Bible remains despite the attempts to remove it from culture and the world. I’m getting tired and this post is getting long, but I believe the Bible is preeminent among all literature, proving (or at least validating) it’s claim as the Word of God.

    To be honest, I haven’t really considered an ‘argument from logic’ for God before I came to this site (or at least not as seriously). I wonder if there is an argument from logic which will convert an atheist. I’m not sure the Bible states there is one. Anyhow, I’ll leave you with one last thing. This website supplies what I feel is a decent argument from logic for the existence of God. Follow it the entire way through and let me know what you think (well… I’m sure you will):

    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    I’ll start by addressing that last point:

    “I believe the NT explains perfectly how Jesus could be the Messiah described in the OT.”

    Since most Jews, who tend to know the OT better than most Xians, disagree, I suspect you’re wrong on this point. The most obvious discrepancy, the one that stopped the Jews of the time from going Xian in the first place, is the bit about how the Messiah must be descended from King David. No amount of sophistry ever convinced the Jews that the Messiah was actually supposed to be born of a virgin (since the OT never says that except in certain badly-translated passages), and that Joseph would have nothing to do with it, or that Mary, even if SHE was descended from David, would count for this purpose (remember, women didn’t count for purposes of familial descent. In most cases, including our own society, they still don’t). If God intends to give us valid prophecies, you’d think he’d stick to them.

    For that matter, and this is the key point — the Jewish Messiah was never intended to be a God, God’s proxy, avatar, vessel or anything else — he’s just a messenger and wise man. For that matter, it’s unclear whether he will ever come, or needs to. Jesus’s wisdom can be easily challenged, and his skill in passing on the message was clearly lacking.

    Granted, that’s if you believe in Judaism (I used to). If you’re atheist, it only gets worse, because there are thousands of faiths, most of which have a mixture of the same beliefs stolen from each other. Read up on Zoroastrianism to find the womb of Christianity.

    Is this particular point important to the whole? Not particularly, except that it neatly points up the fact that every religious group’s holy book can very easily be countered by someone else’s holy book. This means that you can’t really go by holy books to decide which faith is right. You have to use other criteria… such as some of the others you suggested.

    Unfortunately, these are just as unworkable. The rest of your comment contains too many fallacies for me to enumerate or explain in one post. As far as I can tell, every one of them is discussed and dismissed by Ebonmuse in one or more of his essays. Since I have to go to work, I’ll let others deal with that.

  • karatemack

    @Ms. Burdoo:

    “Since most Jews, who tend to know the OT better than most Xians, disagree, I suspect you’re wrong on this point.”

    That’s just a cheap shot. What evidence do you have to practicioners of any religion research their beliefs more than any others? In fact, it has been said again and again on this site that most religious folk never seriously consider their beliefs. Amazing how quickly goes out the window in favor of an appeal to Jewish authorities on the OT which you haven’t shown. Besides, you’re not criticizing most Christians, you’re criticizing me. (granted there may be some Jews who know the OT more than I who disagree with me, but then there are also Christians who know the OT more than I who agree… so I feel you’re overall point here is moot)

    “The most obvious discrepancy, the one that stopped the Jews of the time from going Xian in the first place, is the bit about how the Messiah must be descended from King David.”

    Are you familiar with the Jewish customs on adoption preceding and during the time of Jesus?

    “For that matter, and this is the key point — the Jewish Messiah was never intended to be a God,”

    It is true that the Jews of Jesus time rejected the idea He was God. Of course Jesus did an amazing job showing them from scripture that they should expect Him to be God. But I’ll let you read that for yourself again if you’re interested to take an honest look. See: http://www.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/Gods.html and http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/e-gods.html for a decent starting point if you’re interested.

    “‘most of which have a mixture of the same beliefs stolen from each other. Read up on Zoroastrianism to find the womb of Christianity.”

    So then you either ignored, rejected or missed my comments on the pointlessness of saying one religion came from another. How do you we know Zoroastrianism came first? (chicken or the egg syndrome) Not that proving this is a moot point proves my view of religion. It does, however, leave us with a choice, if we are to have a religion, of the one which makes the most sense. (i’m assuming you aren’t referring to any ‘holy book’ as you’ve told me you reject these as ‘evidence’, so I’ll ignore date of writing vs date or origination for now)

    “As far as I can tell, every one of them is discussed and dismissed by Ebonmuse in one or more of his essays.”

    I warned at the outset that I might not offer anything new. Did you follow the process the entire way through on the logic site? If so, I believe that was new (or at least the way it was presented was), what did you think of that?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    I would answer this by stating that Satan is a real being who is intelligent and crafty. I would say that from the beginning of time Satan crafted false religions which reflected certain portions of the real one.

    Does Satan have omniscience? Did he know in advance what the story of Jesus would entail? And, if so, why would he only create partial re-tellings of Jesus instead of the whole thing from the start, which would completely steal god’s thunder?

    It seems silly to question the interpretation of God’s Word until we at least accept there is a God and He has supplied us with His Word.

    I don’t see why we have to accept that. We can provisionally say that if god exists and if this is his word, then what does it mean.

    If you claim you will accept God’s Word once it becomes reasonable to you, then you are assuming that the Word of God is subjective.

    Huh?

    Creation (1)- We can observe things in nature which display characteristics of God.

    Objection. What characteristics of god, and how do you know what those characteristics are, especially when you don’t know that this god even exists? This is begging the question in that it depends on first assuming that which you are trying to show.

    Creation (2)- There is complexity in nature.

    As you point out, both models fit, but isn’t one more parsimonious than the other? Doesn’t one better fulfill Occam’s Razor? To add the god layer onto this is not only unnecessary, but also begs the question as to where you got the idea to add the god layer in the first place.

    For this reason, it seems more logical (to me) to believe in an intelligent Being controlling the entire process… rather than to believe that energy and matter simply changed one day.

    The most logical is to realize that we don’t know exactly what happened, not to insert your god into the gaps in our knowledge. There is no reason to expect that any intelligence was behind anything in our universe’s formation.

    (Missing evidence in the fossil record)- Some scholars reject the historicity of the Bible because of claims it makes which are not currently supported by archaelogical record. If this is a fair critique of the Biblical historical accounts, then I feel it is fair to question macroevolution on the same grounds.

    Except macroevolution is well supported by independent lines of science, not just the fossil record.

    Of couse I accept the view that morality is nothing more than comparing our actions to the standards of a righteous God.

    Have you considered Euthyphro’s dilemma?

    In the concept of evolutionary morality, things would become moral or immoral as the affected either the individual or society. Therefore, it is not necessary that morality remain the same. However I find that within social groups there exists universally binding moral standards.

    Have you considered that these “universally binding moral standards” evolved early in the history of mammals/primates/humans?

    If morality were based upon an evolutionary process, then as the races of humanity divided we should no longer find so many similarities between the moral standards of seperate groups.

    Except that those groups intermingled for the most part. When they didn’t intermingle, we got the “morality” that blacks were 3/5 of human beings. How does that fit with your god hypothesis?

    I believe the Bible has been more influential than any other religous book in terms of not only it’s practicioners, but also the fact it has been a major influence of world politics and affairs longer than any other religous book, more literature has been written about the Bible than any other religous book, and the fact that the Bible remains despite the attempts to remove it from culture and the world.

    By “the Bible” do you mean the OT, the NT, or both?

    The influence the Bible has had is tied to the lucky fact that it happened to catch on in the culture that became dominant in the time in which you live. During the middle ages, Islam was certainly more influential. That’s not to mention that Hinduism has been around a lot longer and has had many more followers. As to the claim of more literature, source? And, I find the claims of attempts to remove the Bible to be unrealistic.

    I’m getting tired and this post is getting long, but I believe the Bible is preeminent among all literature, proving (or at least validating) it’s claim as the Word of God.

    Sorry, but the Bible being better than another holy book (even if that is true) does not mean that it came from god or that it is true. The Bible is barbaric, immoral in a lot of spots, and inaccurate about a great many things. It contradicts itself quite often, etc.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack

    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/

    I can see why you like that site. A visitor is only one click away from a categorical error and a fallacy of the excluded middle.

    Click on “I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists”. You’ll be taken to a screen saying “I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists” and offering only two choices: “Absolutely true” and “False.” If you click on “Absolutely True”, then you’re taken back to the original 4 options with a warning that “This is not a glitch.”

    Fercryinoutloud! I can be absolutely sure that I’m not absolutely sure that Absolute Truth exists. An absolute statement about one category (my personal outlook) does not automatically translate into an absolute statement about any other category (“Absolute Truth – True for all people at all times, universally true.”). I didn’t commit a logical fallacy, the apologists trying to mousetrap me did.

    More “cargo cult logic”.

    Look at this page: http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/no-logic.php for another example.

    Makes me want to chew tinfoil just to get rid of the stupid.

  • karatemack

    @Heliobates:

    “I can see why you like that site. A visitor is only one click away from a categorical error and a fallacy of the excluded middle.”

    No, I don’t like this site simply because it supports my pet ‘view’. I like this site because to me it makes sense and explains better than I the logic I use to form my beliefs.

    “Fercryinoutloud! I can be absolutely sure that I’m not absolutely sure that Absolute Truth exists.”

    Can you? Well, you can’t without admitting absolute truth exists. You’re trying to have it both ways. You’re trying to say you can say something (even about yourself) with absolute certanty of it’s truth. Either absolute truth exists or it doesn’t. Actually, if absolute truth does not exist, then it seems to me that all arguments or ‘proofs’ of anything lose their meaning.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “Sorry, but the Bible being better than another holy book (even if that is true) does not mean that it came from god or that it is true.”

    No one said it did prove this. (or at least I didn’t meant to imply this) Again, the argument was that if we are going to say God exists, and if we believe that one of the Holy Books got it right, then I choose the Bible for the reasons I supplied.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    No one said it did prove this. (or at least I didn’t meant to imply this)

    Fair enough.

    Again, the argument was that if we are going to say God exists, and if we believe that one of the Holy Books got it right, then I choose the Bible for the reasons I supplied.

    We have no reason to believe that in the first place is one problem. Another is by what standards do you say that the Bible is right? Again, even if it is true that the Bible has been more important in world affairs, that’s due to the rise of people that happened to live in the area that took a dominant stance and then forced their religion on others. To the victor goes the spoils, so to speak.

    Also, I see no reason to confer special status on the Bible if it is true that more literature has been written about it, because that simply indicates that Bible followers (and maybe detractors as well) were inclined to write about it for whatever cultural reasons/factors they had.

    Let me ask you this: if you had been born in India, do you think you would be saying this about the Bible right now, or would you be contesting that the Hindu scriptures were the best supported?

  • heliobates

    Can you? Well, you can’t without admitting absolute truth exists.

    karatemack, I like you. As much as it is possible to sense a “personality” behind words on the screen I do like the person I imagine you to be. I admire your tenacity, your willingness to be called on your rhetoric, and the courage you show by coming to an atheist online community and taking on some very tough customers (most of whom are former believers). I think that if you and I knew each other in meatspace, we’d probably get along very well. But Jesus-Haploid-Christ-on-a-Popsicle-Stick ur doin logic rong!

    If you want to find a logical argument for the existence of God, please, for the sake of the kittens*, don’t latch on to one that commits at least three informal fallacies on each page.

    You’re trying to have it both ways. You’re trying to say you can say something (even about yourself) with absolute certanty of it’s truth.

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

    proofthatgodexists.org defined Absolute Truth as “True for all people at all times, universally true.” Stop and read that again. You need to have that proposition firmly in your mind before we continue. Got it? Okay, I am then asked to choose from 4 options, one of which is “I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists.”

    In what way can the statement “I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists” be “True for all people at all times, universally true.”? A statement I make about my personal certainty is of a completely different category than a statement I make about what may or may not be true FOR EVERYONE AT ALL TIMES ET IN SECULA SECULORUM AMEN! Please don’t read any further until you understand this point.

    Oh, who am I kidding? You need further explanation.

    If I hand you a red tennis ball and ask you if the object I just handed you appears “red”, you will answer “yes”, unless you’re deliberately fucking with me or unless you’re red colorblind. Or maybe you don’t understand English. But let’s say that you aren’t fucking with me or you aren’t red colorblind and you do understand English. So then your answer is “yes”.

    Remember the question: “does this appear ‘red’ to you?” You answer “yes” because the ball does appear “red” to you. If I then ask you “are you absolutely sure that the ball appears red to you?”, you will probably look at me strangely but then, with complete confidence say “Yes, I’m absolutely certain that the ball I’m holding appears red to me.” Can I then say “Gotcha: absolutes don’t exist so you can’t possibly say that?” If I ever do that, you have my expressed, written permission to kick me right on my vasectomy scar.

    But wait, it gets better. What if I had handed the ball to your friend and gone through this exercise with him. So Joe says “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that the tennis ball appears ‘red’ to me.” I turn to you and say “Is this true for you?” How can you possibly answer that question, assuming that you are confident that Joe isn’t fucking with me, isn’t red colorblind and understands English? In what way is “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that the tennis ball appears ‘red’ to me” even the same kind of statement as “‘Something that is true for all people at all times, universally true, exists’ is true”?

    Now let’s say the ball was actually a particular shade of green but Joe is red colorblind (and we don’t know it at that moment). When he, unable to distinguish between red and some shades of green, says “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that this ball appears red to me” has he made a true or a false statement and how do you know? Even if his observation is wrong by our external standard (i.e. it looks green to us), that has no bearing on Joe’s certainty about what he’s perceiving.

    Catching on?

    I can be absolutely certain that “I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists” because I have been asked a question about my feeling of certainty about the truthiness of a proposition, not whether or not the proposition is actually true. Or are you going to tell me that when I feel that don’t know something, I really don’t feel that I don’t know it? Step to the right a bit. I’m aiming for your scar.

    Either absolute truth exists or it doesn’t.

    If you don’t define “absolute”, “truth”, and “exists”, then it’s impossible to agree or disagree with your question. And this is not merely rhetorical trash talk to throw you off your game. The issue of “truth” is a contentious and unsettled occupation for thousands of philosophers around the world.

    So, one click in and we have:
    *category error (see above)
    *question begging (assuming the definition of “absolute”, “truth”, and “exists” are meaningful in all contexts)
    *fallacy of the excluded middle (when the same question assumes that absolute truths
    are always true in every context)

    Three fallacies already! In a supposed “logical proof”.

    Actually, if absolute truth does not exist, then it seems to me that all arguments or ‘proofs’ of anything lose their meaning

    Welcome to the 19th Century. You have a bit of reading to do to catch up. I recommend Goedel, Escher, Bach. That should get you to about 1980 or so.

    Sorry buddy. ur still doin it rong.

    * Every time an apologist for Jesus commits a logical fallacy, God kills a kitten. It’s true. It’s in the Bible, somewhere.

  • Brad

    I can be absolutely sure that I’m not absolutely sure that Absolute Truth exists.

    heliobates, there is no fallacy on that specific part of the website. The question is, is the statement “I am unsure that Absolute Truth exists” an absolutely true or false statement? It is a valid question, and forces the test-taker to assume that there are absolute truths. (Or “facts” – we have some people here who dissent with standard terminology.)

    Now, as expected, my response for karatemack:

    I would answer this by stating that Satan is a real being who is intelligent and crafty.

    By itself, this does not explain the fact. Presumably, it could factor into a consistent explanation, but alone it is worthless. Why does Satan have any sort of power and control over people or the world? Is it necessary for free will to force us to play the Cosmic Shell Game? I suppose you could assume ‘God knows the answer’ and move on with your reasoning, but this would be appallingly question-begging and unparsimonious.

    I wonder if teaching children [bedtime stories] is also not a form of child indoctrination. What I mean is not to state that Christians do not attempt to teach their children their beliefs (IE: indoctrinate them),

    I’m going to stop you there, karatemack. Believers often wonder why telling their children what they believe is wrong – and I think this misses the point. Atheists should very clearly and cautiously explain what they mean on this matter. The general feature of religion that is referred to by atheists go by a slightly different definition. From Wikipedia:

    Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology. It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned. As such it is used pejoratively. Instruction in the basic principles of science, in particular, can not properly be called indoctrination, in the sense that the fundamental principals of science call for critical self-evaluation and skeptical scrutiny of one’s own ideas.

    (Emphasis mine.) Richard Dawkins points out the fact that children are told their identity as a Christian from the get-go. To question Christianity later on is to question your identity. If you read some deconversion stories from ex-believers (from, say, Into the Clear Air), you’ll notice the very obvious fact that the persons were not accustomed to doubt, and were even “terrified” by it. There is a very simple reason behind all this. Indoctrination has one main goal: belief for the sake of belief. (i.e. the ‘virtue’ of Faith.) As a believer in free-thinking, I feel obligated to criticize this.

    It seems silly to question the interpretation of God’s Word until we at least accept there is a God and He has supplied us with His Word.

    Let me be clear on what I was talking about. There are many religions, many denominations of them. Even if we accept the position that there is a God, we still have yet to find out what sacred texts are inspired by him (if any), and to what degree they were ‘inspired.’ If the Bible is 100% his word, then why are there contradictions? How much of it is truly his word? (Can we accept the canon as is, or should we look into apocryphal texts?) After you have this sufficiently figured this out can you ask “how is this supposed to be interpreted?”

    We can observe things in nature which display characteristics of God.

    You imply that this is a self-evident fact to believers. What if other believers, even theologians, disagree? (This is a rhetorical question; it is not important for discussion.)

    There is complexity in nature. How it [got] there is the real question.

    Complexity emerges over time. (Here I link to Sephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science.) Certain types of organization (e.g. biological life) require special conditions to emerge (an open system – such as the Earth with the Sun providing energy).

    For your “Original Cause” argument.

    Firstly, the law of cause and effect is an oversimplification that we humans make from intuition. As John Sowa says in Processes and Causality:

    Relativity and quantum mechanics have forced physicists to abandon these assumptions as exact statements of what happens at the most fundamental levels, but they remain valid at the level of human experience.

    Secondly, even if we accept the law of cause and effect, and infer a first cause, there is no reason to view anything other than the Big Bang as the first cause. Also, matter and energy have always existed for a simple reason: time is defined in terms of them. We know of no “time” “when” there was no matter or energy. At every single point in time, there was/is/will be matter and energy. (This is the problem with the Kalaam Cosmological argument.)

    Now for your “Conscience” argument.

    Of [course] I accept the view that morality is nothing more than comparing our actions to the standards of a righteous God.

    There is obviously going to be disagreement here. Many people define “morality” differently. I think Jonathan Haidt makes a pretty good one that I’ll slightly alter for our purposes: “Moral systems are interlocking sets of values, practices, institutions, and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible.”

    Therefore, it is not necessary that morality remain the same.

    Not necessary, but extremely probable. Some types of activities are inevitably going to be seen negatively in all cultures by the mere fact that they always (or nearly always) confer evolutionarily stable disadvantage.

    If morality were based upon an evolutionary process, then as the races of humanity divided we should no longer find so many similarities between the moral standards of [separate] groups.

    This is exactly what history and empirical data supports.

    proving (or at least validating) it’s claim as the Word of God.

    I am short on time, so I won’t go into a full critique of your “God’s Word” argument at the moment. It suffices to say that I do not agree that any part of it counts as evidence for the existence of God, or even that the Bible would be the inspired word of an existing god.

    One last thing about that website you linked to. The “Absolute Moral Laws” page is fallacious, and the conclusion “The Proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn’t prove anything.” is an unsupported “non sequitor.”

    Might I suggest CARM from this point? >;)

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    “Are you familiar with the Jewish customs on adoption preceding and during the time of Jesus?”

    Yes, I am. Are you suggesting that Jews of the period weren’t? To Jews then and now, it makes no difference, since you cannot *logically* claim that someone you adopted is genetically descended from you, no matter how legal and official the relationship is. Jews are and were pretty big on logic, which probably has something to do with why so many of them go into science today! (grin)

    “It is true that the Jews of Jesus time rejected the idea He was God.”

    For good reason — God, in the Jewish conception of things, is noncorporeal. And worshipping anything that isn’t is, to Jews, wrong. You would think that God would expect the Jews to do… exactly what he told them to … and disbelieve.

    “Of course Jesus did an amazing job showing them from scripture that they should expect Him to be God.”

    Apparently not, since he failed signally to convince them. Keep in mind before you answer that they “hardened their hearts”, that just because you lose an argument doesn’t require you to instantly switch sides. I lose arguments with my Xian friends all the time — that says much more about our respective debating skills than it does about the evidence. (I do promise to take a look at your links, however, and get back to you. Do you use online messaging?)

    “How do you we know Zoroastrianism came first?”

    History, written by folks who were there. Zoroastrianism is not only demonstrably older than Xianity (even without archaeology), it draws on myths even older than that. Heck, the Egyptians (older still) had “virgin birth” elements in their faith. So, just what makes this particular virgin birth myth more compelling than all the others, which presumably you do not believe in? Keep in mind that many of the justifications you might use can be, and have been, used by those other faiths.

  • heliobates

    @Brad

    heliobates, there is no fallacy on that specific part of the website.

    I respectfully disagree, and you need to read my “tennis ball” explanation again.

    The question is, is the statement “I am unsure that Absolute Truth exists” an absolutely true or false statement?

    No it isn’t. Your paraphrase changes the meaning and almost, but doesn’t quite, obscures the category error.

    The “set-up” question is “I don’t know if absolute truth exists.” where “(Absolute Truth – True for all people at all times, universally true.)” The options are “Absolutely True” and “False”. If I answer “Absolutely True” then I am stating “It is absolutely true that I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists.” I am then taken back to the original question and asked to reconsider. Oh what a clever mousetrap. Not!

    At no point is a thinking person required to reevaluate her position on the existence of “Absolute Truth:True for all people at all times, universally true”.

    See my points above about the false dilemma and question begging going on. That also seems to have slipped by you.

    It is a valid question, and forces the test-taker to assume that there are absolute truths. (Or “facts” – we have some people here who dissent with standard terminology.)

    Even paraphrased, it’s still not a valid question because it conflates statements about one’s self-conscious state with statements about universal absolutes. That’s a category error and completely destroys the credibility of anyone pretending to offer a “logical proof” of anything.

    Remember, in what sense can “It is absolutely true that I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists” be “True for all people at all times, universally true?”

    Did you catch the carefully placed quote from Proverbs? I’m thinking something about a “mote” and “beam” in this instance.

    The entire site is a gigantic “banana in the tailpipe” routine and I ain’t gonna fall for it.

  • heliobates

    Here’s a clearer version of proofthatgodexists.org.

    It’s at 4:20.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na1g7YKPZfU

  • heliobates

    Oops. Make that 3:20.

    Way to spoil a joke!

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “We have no reason to believe that in the first place is one problem.”

    No, it isn’t a problem as I’ve admitted the conclusion I have reached relies upon this premise. It would be a problem if my point were you should believe in God or believe that He wrote a Book. My point was that having arrived at those conclusions I chose the Bible for the reasons I listed. Since my logic relies on you first believing God exists (or at least that He could exist) and then second upon the premise that He wrote a Book for us… it seems to follow that I must convince you in proper order so that you can arrive at the same conclusion I have. Arguing these things out of order won’t do us any good, which is why I’m pushing to keep the possibility of the existence of God (or the more likely probability of it compared to the alternative suggestions) the primary focus of my argument.

    “Another is by what standards do you say that the Bible is right?”

    Once we establish points one and two, then we can get to this question. (and if we ever do arrive there, I will be more than happy to give a more detailed answer to this question)

    “Let me ask you this: if you had been born in India, do you think you would be saying this about the Bible right now, or would you be contesting that the Hindu scriptures were the best supported?”

    Are you suggesting that to convince you of the supremacy of the Bible as the Holy Word of God all I have to do is cite one example of a person born in India who rejects the Hindu scriptures and embraces the Bible? What if I were able to honestly say this were my actual experience? Would it change your view? I doubt it. This question is based upon false premises and you know it.

    @Heliobates:

    Well… as much as I have a strong disdain for trading kicks to the groin… here we go. I was thinking along the same lines as Brad. That to admit that we know anything, we must admit ‘fact’ or ‘truth’. I do see your clarifycation that to add the word ‘absoulte’ it must apply to all people at all times. I will agree with you this far.

    So, let’s tackle the question of whether or not you can be ‘absolutely’ sure that you ‘don’t know if absolute truth exists or not’. Well, by even attempting to answer the question you have assumed that it has an answer. In your responses you gave logical reasons why your answer fit, but you never even questioned whether or not there was an answer to the question. In answering the question at all you have admitted there is an absolute truth. (the truth being that there is an answer to the question of absolute truth) You argued that your answer could change to different people over time… but the fact that there was an answer remained the same. So, even in arguing against absolute truth, you have argued for it. Let’s consider your example of the tennis balls:

    You said… “Now let’s say the ball was actually a particular shade of green but Joe is red colorblind (and we don’t know it at that moment).”

    Wait a second! Are you relying on absolute truth to prove there is no absolute truth? (let’s say the ball was actually a particular shade of green) Why must the ball be green? And why must Joe be colorblind. And why must we not know it? In your own example you had to establish three absolute truths about your hypothetical situation in order for it to make sense. (1. the ball must surely be a particular shade of green. 2. Joe must surely be red colorblind. 3. we must not know it at the moment.) I have a pretty mean front kick (the karatemack title isn’t for nuthin’) so you’d better watch it :P.

    @Brad:

    “Why does Satan have any sort of power and control over people or the world?”

    Excellent question. My answer comes from the Bible (of course!). So, I feel we must first establish points 1,2 and 3 before we can begin to discuss this. Ultimately Satan only has any ‘power’ over us when we are drawn by our own lustful desires to sin. I view him (Satan) more as an enabler to sin rather than the ‘omnipotent devil who makes people do things’. Anyhow, we can discuss this further if we ever agree on 1, 2 and 3.

    “Indoctrination has one main goal: belief for the sake of belief.”

    Good point Brad. I appreciate the clarifycation. However I do not feel Christianity falls into this category. Jesus told people to ‘count the costs’. We are commanded to know the reason we believe in scripture and to have an answer for every man (woman, person). Paul commands the regular study of scripture. The problem isn’t that the ‘founding fathers’ of Christianity wanted people to ‘indoctrinate’ people into the faith. The problem is that many Christians fear any real challenge to their faith. (perhaps this is because they have very shallow roots) I embrace challenges to my faith and understanding of the world. Trial by fire. Either your beliefs will melt in the heat, or they will harden into something much more solid. (sorry for the corny analogy). Anyhow, as my children grow up, I will encourage them to explore all the options available to them. I want them to have a solid understanding of their faith, which cannot happen honestly if I never leave them room to grow and decide for themselves. I want this also for myself… why else am I here? (it certainly isn’t because I think I’m so intelligent that I will ‘convert all the atheists’) This (the deeper understanding of what one believes and why) is one of the fundamental reasons I believe God allowed Adam and Eve to be tempted…

    “This is exactly what history and empirical data supports.”

    Ok, I might have gotten slightly ahead of myself. Let’s say that morality did evolve. What I meant is that over time (while it is true that common morality formed in ‘early stages’ [rape, murder, etc] could still be evident in many differnt cultures) at least a few cultures should have broken from the traditional norm of morality. And here I’m referring specifically to rape and murder of a member of the same group without some ‘justified’ reason. As I’m sure you can point out; certain differences exist between moral standards of different groups, however the similarities of morals between cultures is amazingly similar for the most part. To me this makes the argument that morality developed through evolution illogical. Given the amount of time mankind could have been on the earth now, we should see many different (and much more different) types of morality out there. It seems to me that mostly morality is based upon either an appeal to a God or god of some sort; or as an appeal to the preservation of society. Why are there not many different ‘types’ of morality based upon a broad range of influences and desired outcomes?

    Why did you suggest CARM? This seems on the surface (I didn’t have too much time to explore it yet) to be a Christian website…

    @Ms. Burdoo:

    “To Jews then and now, it makes no difference, since you cannot *logically* claim that someone you adopted is genetically descended from you, no matter how legal and official the relationship is. Jews are and were pretty big on logic, which probably has something to do with why so many of them go into science today!”

    Lots here to deal with. If I get too sidetracked please remind me to revisit this. I don’t have time to find good sites to link you to, and any explanation by me would not be as good as what’s out there… not to mention the fact it would add another chapter to this book I’m writing…

    “Apparently not, since he failed signally to convince them. Keep in mind before you answer that they “hardened their hearts”, that just because you lose an argument doesn’t require you to instantly switch sides. I lose arguments with my Xian friends all the time — that says much more about our respective debating skills than it does about the evidence.”

    Ok, which is it? Does winning or losing an argument mean you are right or wrong or doesn’t it? If Jesus didn’t convince people and therefore didn’t “do a good job presenting facts”, then you have by the same logic failed to present facts anytime you fail to convince someone. You failed to convince me… do we want to follow this logic?

    Jesus made an argument from the OT about His claim as Messiah and God. Certainly you don’t have to accept His explanation, but it doesn’t take away from the brilliance of it. Even I can appreciate the well stated arguments from Ebon or Dawkins without agreeing with them. I’m sure many here have been astounded by Lewis without being convinced. The point I made is that Jesus was a great speaker who made valid points for His claims from the preferred Holy Book of His audience. They simply rejected His message. (for whatever reason they had) This rejection alone takes nothing away from the argument itself however. (Just as my belief in God does nothing [by itself] to disprove your argument that God does not exist).

    “History, written by folks who were there. Zoroastrianism is not only demonstrably older than Xianity (even without archaeology), it draws on myths even older than that.”

    Older than the beginning of the world? (which is when Christianity claims to have begun). What about oral tradition? Could you cite some of your sources?

    “Keep in mind that many of the justifications you might use can be, and have been, used by those other faiths.”

    My point is that this could just as much be a proof to validate (as you are trying to use it the invalidate) the claims of my belief. For example: If a global flood really did happen and we all come from Noah (his three sons)… then I would expect many cultures to have different takes on the account of the flood. Certainly we would have to go to work to figure out which account was the most likely to have occurred (or true even)… but the fact that different cultures spread out over the earth agree on a common event in history makes me think it was more likely to have happened.

  • Brad

    I still disagree, heliobates, but the point is moot. (And GEB isn’t very relevant to karatemack’s statement. Plus Hofstadter’s sporadic hodge-podge could have easily been condensed into a much shorter space on recursion, representation, meaning, the mind, and implications of formal incompleteness.) It is important to argue only what’s worth arguing here on this forum. I have some other nitpicks to discuss that I didn’t have time to before. Like this: in my previous comment, replace “evolutionary stable disadvantage” to “evolutionary instability and disadvantage.”

    I believe this “child indoctrination” is not vital to the success of Christianity.

    The statistics for conversion versus secularization suggest otherwise. By the numbers, the great majority of believers are so because they were given an identity as a child, and they carried the beliefs with them. This, for example, explains why being Jewish (and Catholic these days) is more of a cultural identity instead of one of creed and doctrine.

    Some scholars reject the historicity of the Bible because of claims it makes which are not currently supported by archaelogical record. If this is a fair critique of the Biblical historical accounts, then I feel it is fair to question macroevolution on the same grounds.

    The two records are way different, so this is a false analogy. Given the evidence we both have and do not have, the best conclusion is that the supernatural events did not occur in the Bible. Ebonmuse writes on this in Let the Stones Speak and on Jesus’ historicity in Choking on the Camel. (Note to Ebonmuse: you need to fix the “Back to Part 1″ link on …/otarch2)

    Referring to Haidt’s definition of morality before, I think there is an additional problem for the believer in the Conscience argument if you also believe in the theory of Common Descent. Where did morality come into play? No matter how you answer that question, it will be in a grossly unparsimonious fashion.

    P.S. As a humorous sidenote, I just discovered that CARM literally has an official cut and paste section. I never noticed that before…

  • Brad

    I view him (Satan) more as an enabler to sin rather than the ‘omnipotent devil who makes people do things’.

    Seems I like that kind of Satan. Shall I become a devil-worshipper? ;)

    Anyway, your argument appears to be that there are other religions because Satan enabled human beings to make them up. I think that’s fair enough, although suspicious. However, this still doesn’t answer my original question of why God chooses to instigate religion in the same novice method that Satan is forced to do it: word of mouth. Why isn’t God up-front and personal? To choose a method that has no self-evident advantage over the devil’s method would be childish of God – so are we forced to believe that God had no other choice because of some other restrictive desire or implication somewhere? (Personally, I view modern apologetics to be question-begging as an extreme sport.)

    The problem is that many Christians fear any real challenge to their faith.

    The problem is that we’re talking about most Christians. It is true that Jesus commanded followers to have reason, but that does not mean today’s Christianity correctly follows this. Child indoctrination is what it is, and it is root of the issue.

    the similarities of morals between cultures is amazingly similar for the most part.

    I think they are mostly similar only where it counts in terms of evolution. The normalization of killing would be horribly detrimental to human evolution. (However, sometimes communities can get away with religious ritual human sacrifices, but of course those groups were so primitive that the more advanced cultures out-survived them just as “survival of the fittest” describes.) As social creatures (this gained us evolutionary advantage in itself) we naturally create cultures, and so then we have to factor in “kin selection” -type theories behind morality. There’s a lot more to this. Darwin even talked about it. I myself intend to read the book The Evolution of Morality when I get the chance. As to the question, “Why are there not many different ‘types’ of morality based upon a broad range of influences and desired outcomes?” My response is that you have given me a “loaded question.” There are a wide range of moralities. Take a look at tribal cultures. Take a look at the modern culture of fundamentalist Islam. (Islam literally translating to “submission” – a very telling definition.) See Shariah law for example. Societies have just begun to question the notions of ‘honor’, ‘loyalty’, ‘authority’, ‘justice’, et cetera. We humans have always been conflicted and fragmented on the concepts of marriage, abortion, money, government, manners and norms and so much more. I do not believe there is any sophisticated and consistent conscience in human beings because it doesn’t play up to the facts. Beyond empathy and the golden-rule mindset, our intuitions are useless (alone).

    But let’s suppose you are right. Say there is an obvious consistency in human morals. How does this point to an intelligent, supernatural mind? It could point to transcendental “Taoistic” ideas, like absolute good and evil. It could mean that love has special magical powers. It could mean a lot of things, so how do we arrive at God?

    Like I said, you have some scratchwork for some decent theistic arguments, but you haven’t truly formed a good one yet. Which brings me to your last question for me:

    Why did you suggest CARM? This seems on the surface (I didn’t have too much time to explore it yet) to be a Christian website…

    Yes…? Why can’t I recommend a Christian website to research modern apologetics? ;)

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    No, it isn’t a problem as I’ve admitted the conclusion I have reached relies upon this premise.

    This is basically saying, “Yes, I’m begging the question, but so what?”

    My point was that having arrived at those conclusions I chose the Bible for the reasons I listed.

    Just a nit here, but you didn’t “arrive at those conclusions.” You assumed those things and then used your cultural biases to arrive at the already concluded idea that the Bible is the correct book.

    Once we establish points one and two, then we can get to this question. (and if we ever do arrive there, I will be more than happy to give a more detailed answer to this question)

    OK, then your aim is to establish that god exists and has written a book. I’ll stop quibbling about whether the Bible is that book if you also agree to stop asserting that it is. Deal?

    Are you suggesting that to convince you of the supremacy of the Bible as the Holy Word of God all I have to do is cite one example of a person born in India who rejects the Hindu scriptures and embraces the Bible?

    No. I’m pointing out that the vast majority of people embrace the religion of their parents and their culture. The reason that you happen to be Xian is most likely not because you have studied all other religions in detail and in depth, weighed all the theistic arguments of all other religions, studied the historical aspects of all these religions, etc. but because you were brought up in a Xian background and therefore are biased towards it.

    What if I were able to honestly say this were my actual experience? Would it change your view? I doubt it. This question is based upon false premises and you know it.

    I don’t doubt that you actually think the Bible is the best supported scripture out there and the Xianity makes the most sense to you. This is because of the fact that you were raised to believe that. If you had been raised in India, you would most likely have been raised a Hindu and would claim that those scriptures are the best supported and that Hindu makes the most sense to you. I’m not sure what false premises you think are entailed in this observation of empirical fact.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    Let’s say that morality did evolve. What I meant is that over time (while it is true that common morality formed in ‘early stages’ [rape, murder, etc] could still be evident in many differnt cultures) at least a few cultures should have broken from the traditional norm of morality.

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution on the order of the well-tread creationist question: “If evolution is true, why don’t we have ‘dats’?” There’s no imperative for evolution to change anything, especially things that work.

    To me this makes the argument that morality developed through evolution illogical. Given the amount of time mankind could have been on the earth now, we should see many different (and much more different) types of morality out there.

    This is literally a non-sequitor.

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    “Older than the beginning of the world? (which is when Christianity claims to have begun).”

    *Blink* *blink* *blink*

    Um…

    Uh…

    “We’re getting into a whole weird area here.” — Tom Servo, MST3K

    I think what you’re trying to say here is that since Jesus was present at the beginning of the universe, Christianity is by definition that old?

    By that definition, George W. Bush was born at the same time as George Washington. But even if we grant this, we’re not discussing immortal souls, we’re discussing material reality, in which one was born physically in the 18th and the other in the 20th century. And I’m not sure what makes you think I’m wasn’t talking about real history.

    Since that’s beside my point, I’ll ask you to address it again, directly this time. Egyptians had a specific virgin birth myth thousands of years before Jesus appeared on Earth. Zoroastrians had a specific virgin birth myth hundreds of years before Jesus appeared on Earth. This is not something I should have to give you resources on, since for one thing you can look them up yourself in, heck, any timeline or encyclopedia, and for another it’s simply nonsensical.

    “For example: If a global flood really did happen and we all come from Noah (his three sons)… then I would expect many cultures to have different takes on the account of the flood. Certainly we would have to go to work to figure out which account was the most likely to have occurred (or true even)… but the fact that different cultures spread out over the earth agree on a common event in history makes me think it was more likely to have happened.”

    I agree with you on this point — to an extent. The trouble is, you would expect to find the exact same thing from simple knowledge of weather and settlement patterns, even had the Bible never existed. First, as you pointed out, there is no evidence that Gilgamesh’s explanation for it is any less correct than Noah’s. Second, major floods occur, on a fairly regular basis, all over the planet. Regional floods in China, North America, Egypt and Mesopotamia do not a global flood make. The fact that every culture has a flood story is more likely due to the fact that floods happen a lot, and people tend to live in flood-prone regions. It does not automatically mean that there ever was a worldwide flood in historical times. It could, of course… if we ever find archaeological justification for it. So far, all we’ve found is regional floods like the Black Sea.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack
    Respectfully, I think that you and Brad are talking past me.

    That to admit that we know anything, we must admit ‘fact’ or ‘truth’.

    You misunderstand me, and proofthatgodexists.org, completely. As I pointed out to Brad, we have to pay attention to the questions we’re asked, not the ones we think we’re being asked. This website does not ask about knowledge, it asks about beliefs. The two do not have to correspond.
    Once again, what’s the opening question: “What do you believe?”
    I answered “I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists”.
    I was not asked “does Absolute Truth exist?”; I was asked what I believe. My beliefs do not have to have any external correspondence. If you think they must, then that’s your preconception and has nothing to do with the correctness of proofthatgodexists.org’s argument.

    I do see your clarifycation that to add the word ‘absoulte’ it must apply to all people at all times. I will agree with you this far.

    karatemack, you have to pay attention. It’s not my clarification. The website is asking me to ask myself “What do I believe?” about Absolute Truth where Absolute Truth is defined as “(Absolute Truth – True for all people at all times, universally true.)” I’m not making anything up, adding anything, presuming anything… I’m simply answering the question that I’ve been asked. It says so, right on the web page.
    I’m being asked what I believe. When I answer that, I’m then being asked if I’m absolutely sure that I believe that. Absolute statements do not have to be correct. They do not have to correspond with “reality”. They are syntactical constructions. I can absolutely make an absolute statement absolutely any time I absolutely-goddamned feel like it. Is my statement warranted? Is it supported by evidence? These are completely separate questions—and proofthatgodexists.org never bothers to ask them.

    So, let’s tackle the question of whether or not you can be ‘absolutely’ sure that you ‘don’t know if absolute truth exists or not’.

    Nope, we’re not tackling that question. Not because I’m being intransigent, but because that’s not the question that the website asks! We’re not tackling it because proofthatgodexists.org doesn’t tackle it either. Maybe you “sense” it coming, but that’s irrelevant.
    They can presume that there is a correspondence, and in so doing undermine their own pretensions towards logical proof (failure to state premises is dishonest in formal logic and immediately invalidates one’s argument).

    Well, by even attempting to answer the question you have assumed that it has an answer.

    Wrong again. The questioner presumes that there’s an answer, else why ask the question?

    …In answering the question at all you have admitted there is an absolute truth. (the truth being that there is an answer to the question of absolute truth)

    See what I mean? You have to pay attention. I never admitted that “Absolute Truth – True for all people at all times, universally true” exists. I chose one of the other options about my belief given by the website’s backstabbing, faux-Socratic decision tree. Once I did that, my only choices were to affirm that “’I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists’ is an absolutely true statement” or to say that it’s a false statement. In order for me to be unable to make absolute statements about what I know about what I believe, proofthatgodexists.org would have to presume that I cannot know that I believe something. Their question, if honestly asked, can only elicit answers about my internal state—whether or not I am certain that I hold the belief that “I don’t know if ‘Absolute Truth – True for all people at all times, universally true’ exists” and still has nothing to do with whether or not “Absolute Truth—True for all people at all times, universally true—exists” is a true statement.
    If proofthatgodexists.org wanted to lure me into a false position, which they could then exploit to overturn my beliefs about, well anything, then they blew it.

    So, even in arguing against absolute truth, you have argued for it.

    Nope. I have chosen the statement “It is absolutely true that I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists.” Neither you, nor Brad, have demonstrated how what is a true internal state for me can ever possibly correspond with something that is “True for all people at all times, universally true”. There is no external metric for my feeling about my belief (remember, the question, Deshi!). You and Brad have to demonstrate that I could never positively assert “It is absolutely true that I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists (given (Absolute Truth – True for all people at all times, universally true)). And you have to do it without reference to external truths because they’re completely irrelevant to my internal representations, given the question and the manner in which it was asked.

    Let’s consider your example of the tennis balls:

    Yes, I wish you would.

    Are you relying on absolute truth to prove there is no absolute truth? (let’s say the ball was actually a particular shade of green)

    Nope. This is you not paying attention. I proposed that the ball is a certain shade of green. This is a starting condition and you have to grant it if you want to understand my point. You can be a prick and ask me how I know that the ball is a particular shade of green, but that’s not only uncharitable, it’s dishonest. I haven’t asserted, absolutely, that the ball is that shade of green. I’ve simply asked, for the purpose of illustration, for you and I to suppose that the ball is “a certain shade of green.”

    Why must the ball be green?

    Because you agreed, for the purpose of illustration, that it was a certain shade of green. If you disagree now, you need to tell me, and state your reasoning why you cannot suppose, for the purpose of illustration, that a hypothetical ball can be a certain shade of green.

    And why must Joe be colorblind.

    Because you’re agreeing, for the purpose of illustration…

    And why must we not know it?

    Finally, an important question. The only way we can know if Joe’s statement “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that the tennis ball appears ‘red’ to me” is in any sense “false”, is for us to know that he’s lying. We’re asking him a question about his perceptions. These are representations internal to the neurocognitive-linguistic-social-entity that is the hypothetical “Joe” (to whose existence you have also agreed, for the purpose of illustration) and we have no access to them. If we know that Joe is red-colorblind then we have reason to suspect that Joe might be fucking with us, because we know that he knows that things which appear red to us appear as certain shades of green to him and he’s used to identifying those shades of green with what most of the world perceives as ‘red’. If Joe knows that we know that he’s colorblind, then he may suspect that we’ve deliberately handed him a ball whose color will confuse his senses and he may decide then to fuck with us, just on principle. Both of those conditions call into question whether or not “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that the tennis ball appears ‘red’ to me” can be a true or false statement and I wanted to bring them to your attention.

    Even given all of this, we still cannot definitively prove that Joe’s statement “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that the tennis ball appears ‘red’ to me” is false in any sense. We’d have to somehow get Joe to admit that he lied. Otherwise, the ball appears (notice that I specifically used that word) ‘a certain shade of green’ to us but Joe is telling us that he’s certain that it appears ‘red’ to him, and that’s all we know. At no point have we concerned ourselves with the actual properties of the ball, only with the internal representations of me, you and Joe, and with our feelings of certainty about those representations. What shade the ball “is” can be settled empirically, but that’s a completely different issue and has nothing to do with how it appears to us (unless we’re studying the mechanics of human perception—yet another completely different issue). You can’t ignore or gloss over that distinction if you want to engage honestly with my argument.

    The tennis ball analogy specifically focused on the disconnection between internal states, about which I demonstrably can have feelings of absolute certainty (because I the only one feeling them) and external, verifiable “truths”. No one can tell me that I cannot be certain about something that I’m feeling, or that I believe. Not you, not Brad and definitely not proofthatgodexists.org. You can present evidence and reasoning to show that my beliefs are not warranted because they do not correspond to externalities, but you can’t tell me that it’s impossible for me to be certain that I believe them.

    This is the categorical mistake. I do not have to have access to any external information in order to be certain about my internal states. Absolute Truth, if it exists, has to exist somewhere “out there”, i.e. outside my internal representations. But this whole question has nothing to do with “what’s out there” because I was asked “what do you believe” and then I was asked “is this statement about what you believe absolutely true”? The issue of the existence of external, universal, absolute truths (“True for all people at all times, universally true”) is completely orthogonal to the question I’ve been asked. I don’t need to reference anything else except my belief (“I believe that I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists”), and my feeling of certainty—to which only I have access— about the statement “It is absolutely true that I believe that I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists” is all that is required to support my assertion. One last time: philosophical issues about “whether or not absolute statements are warranted” are irrelevant to what’s being asked. And if they are crucial to proofthatgodexists.org

    But let’s be honest, proofthatgodexists.org isn’t a logical proof. It doesn’t (assuming propositional logic) clearly state its premises and then offer arguments to support its position. It’s a rhetorical proof which not only commits, but relies upon logical fallacies for its effectiveness.

    If proofthatgodexists.org wanted the trap to spring, they shouldn’t have asked me what I believe. They should, instead, have asked me whether or not “Absolute Truth— True for all people at all times, universally true” exists. Then we could have the conversation that you want to have.

  • karatemack

    @Brad:

    “The statistics for conversion versus secularization suggest otherwise. By the numbers, the great majority of believers are so because they were given an identity as a child, and they carried the beliefs with them. This, for example, explains why being Jewish (and Catholic these days) is more of a cultural identity instead of one of creed and doctrine.”

    It is lamentable that many religous practicioners ‘blindly’ follow their faith. That said, the fact that people follow their faith blindly speaks nothing to the validity of the faith itself. This site is full of well thought out defenses for atheism. Do a google search. This site is NOT the norm. Wouldn’t you have a problem if I questioned the truth of atheism based upon it’s blind followers? How about evolution?

    So that leaves us with a bad problem. Some parents will only teach their kids christianity because they blindly feel it is the ‘right’ religion. What is the solution? Well, if Christianity is truth, the solution is to change the heart of the followers to one who becomes dedicated to understanding their faith. That’s what I hope to do with much of my life.

    @OMGF:

    “This is basically saying, “Yes, I’m begging the question, but so what?””

    Ok. My ‘it isn’t a problem’ statement. I assume your pointing at a ‘first problem’ was meant to ‘show’ me (or others) a flaw in my logic. I said this wasn’t a ‘problem’ as I had pointed it out myself. I admitted it. As I continued my response I let you know when we would be at a point where we could discuss this. Were you to say, “If the world is round X is true.” and you openly admit that you must first convince me the world is round, then it is not a ‘problem’. (unless you expect me to accept X is true without first proving the world is round, which I have not expected of anyone here). My response was to the question of why I believe. I was honest. I have also been honest about my reason for being on this site (to broaden my own understanding of my faith). I want to know the flaws in my beliefs. If they (my beliefs) hold up, fine. If not, then they will either develop further or disappear.

    “This is because of the fact that you were raised to believe that.”

    I love my mother. But my mother taught me many many things about society and the ‘way things work’ which just aren’t true. I have long since developed my own world view. Many here were also raised as Christians. Yet they someone ‘overcame’ their upbringing. The fact you feel comfortable assigning me a predetermined “reason” for my belief leads me to believe you think it is universally applicable. What about adult converts? What about missionaries who convert people of different cultures? It would seem that your statement does not hold to be universally true (unless you believe in absolute truth?) and as such it is a personal attack against my own faith, and is a statement you have not validated by any means. Isn’t my continued presence on this site proof enough that I do (in fact) examine my own beliefs?

    And again… “Just a nit here, but you didn’t “arrive at those conclusions.” You assumed those things and then used your cultural biases to arrive at the already concluded idea that the Bible is the correct book.”

    Wow… where have you hidden the camera in my house? Am I the Truman show? Cultural biases? Which is it…are more americans atheists or Christians? I get so confused when you try to have things both ways. If more scientists are atheists (than Christians) couldn’t we assume that those scientists didn’t ‘arrive at (their) conclusions’ either? They assumed things about science they felt were already ‘proven’ true and then used the biases of the scientific community at large to arrive at the already concluded idea that macroevolution occurs. If it’s a fair attack for you, then it’s open game to me I suppose.

    “There’s no imperative for evolution to change anything, especially things that work.”

    Then why did we have women’s suffrage or the end of slavery? We existed and thrived as human beings with these conditions in place. (also these conditions still do exist in many other cultures) I guess that makes our American culture the ‘genetic defect’. I wonder if these changes will prove useful enough to stand the test of time…

    “This is literally a non-sequitor.”

    I’m sorry, I thought that passage of a certain amount (millions of years) of time meant without question that something would change. I could be wrong in assuming this fits the evolution theory. So… if I take a rock, expose it to 100000 years, there is a chance I can come back to it and expect it to be exactly the same?

    @Brad:

    “Yes…? Why can’t I recommend a Christian website to research modern apologetics? ;)”

    Just wondering. Thanks for the reference :P.

  • karatemack

    @Ms. Burdoo:

    “I think what you’re trying to say here is that since Jesus was present at the beginning of the universe, Christianity is by definition that old?”

    We classify religions. What I’m stating is that if God created the world, and if Adam and Eve were placed into the garden, then the Christian religion began right then and there where God promised Eve a seed. This Word of God (the promise of a seed who would redeem mankind) was either accepted by faith (Abel/Seth) or rejected (Cain). Over time God revealed this message to us more fully and more clearly as He brought His promise to reality, but yes, in this sense Christianity began (the process started) in the garden. (not because “Jesus existed back then”)

    “Egyptians had a specific virgin birth myth thousands of years before Jesus appeared on Earth. Zoroastrians had a specific virgin birth myth hundreds of years before Jesus appeared on Earth.”

    Ok, it was before Jesus existed. But my point is that it wasn’t before Jesus was declared (garden). Satan, if he exists, knowing quite well the Word of God could attempt to bring about false religions which mimic the way in which God has said He will accomplish the redemption of mankind. I only mean to assert that this is a plausable explanation for the many religions which seem to mimic Christiainity (or if you choose, “which Christianity seems to mimic”) Even before the I-phone was released, many other developers were trying to ‘mimic’ the result… of course once the real product arrives you can examine it against the others in order to tell which is the ‘real McCoy’. I am suggesting you can do the same with religion. But for now, on this site, we cannot. First let’s find out if we can agree that God exists. :P

    “First, as you pointed out, there is no evidence that Gilgamesh’s explanation for it is any less correct than Noah’s.”

    No, I said we would have to work to figure out which narrative was the better (or true) account.

    “Second, major floods occur, on a fairly regular basis, all over the planet. Regional floods in China, North America, Egypt and Mesopotamia do not a global flood make.”

    Let’s get real. There are accounts of ‘major’ disasters (both in the Bible and in other ancient cultural records), and there is a clear distinction to be made between an account of major disasters and a story about a worldwide flood. Or do you hold the view that the ancients were stupid?

    @Heliobates:

    Ok. Let me try to understand. So…

    If you can be absoultely sure that you do not know if absolute truth exists… then is it not universally true that all people in all places and all times can (in fact) be sure they do not know if absolute truth exists?

    Because if all people at all times in all places may not be able to be absolutely sure if absolute truth exists… then for all intensive purposes you might fall into this category. If all people at all times in all places can be sure of their belief in not knowing that absolute truth exists, then we have an absolute truth about people and their ability to believe things about themselves.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    k-mack,

    Ok. My ‘it isn’t a problem’ statement. I assume your pointing at a ‘first problem’ was meant to ‘show’ me (or others) a flaw in my logic. I said this wasn’t a ‘problem’ as I had pointed it out myself. I admitted it.

    That’s fine. My comments were meant as a progression. If you aren’t trying to convince us that the Bible is true before convincing us that god exists, etc. then no problem and let’s get to it.

    The fact you feel comfortable assigning me a predetermined “reason” for my belief leads me to believe you think it is universally applicable.

    I’m glad you keyed on the one sentence that could be misconstrued in the two paragraphs that I committed to talking about this…and ignored the rest of those paragraphs it seems. Taken as a whole, what I said was that it is most probable that this is the case, based on the empirical data that we have. Xian parents tend to have Xian kids that grow up and become Xian adults. (Substitute any religion you like into that sentence in all three spots where I say “Xian” and you still have a true statement.) We are culturally biased to see the Bible as being the correct scripture if such a one exists.

    Isn’t my continued presence on this site proof enough that I do (in fact) examine my own beliefs?

    Frankly, no.

    Wow… where have you hidden the camera in my house?

    No camera needed for two reasons. One, you said that you were making those assumptions. Two, the only way that one can “conclude” god is by making those assumptions (which means that one did not actually “conclude” god).

    Which is it…are more americans atheists or Christians? I get so confused when you try to have things both ways.

    I have no idea where you got this from. Nowhere have I intimated that there are more atheists than Xians in the US. In fact, I’ve been arguing that the US culture trains us to be Bible believers.

    If more scientists are atheists (than Christians) couldn’t we assume that those scientists didn’t ‘arrive at (their) conclusions’ either?

    It would depend on how they got there. Don’t make the mistake of demanding equivalency where there shouldn’t be.

    They assumed things about science they felt were already ‘proven’ true and then used the biases of the scientific community at large to arrive at the already concluded idea that macroevolution occurs.

    You’re mixing apples and oranges here. Scientific results are documented and empirically verified as well as open to further challenges as new evidence arises. It’s not so much that scientists make assumptions but that they use previously gathered data. There’s a world of difference there.

    And, if you have a problem with macroevolution, you might want to rethink your support for the Noachian flood (I’m guessing these from your recent comments). If all humans were wiped out and all animals except for specific “kinds” and this happened only a couple thousand years ago, then you would be proposing macroevolution on a scale that really is unattainable in order for us to have the diversity of life that we have today.

    Then why did we have women’s suffrage or the end of slavery?

    What does this have to do with evolution?

    We existed and thrived as human beings with these conditions in place.

    Did we really?

    Either way, you still betray a fundamental lack of understanding of evolution. By arguing that “If evolution is true, then X would have happened” you are imposing your own dictates on what is at heart a random process. There’s no imperative for evolution to follow the rigid set of “oughts” that you think should apply.

    Given that, changes do happen, whether they are the ones that you feel should or not.

    I’m sorry, I thought that passage of a certain amount (millions of years) of time meant without question that something would change.

    And, that is incorrect. Take sharks for instance. They are mostly the same as they have been for many, many years. This is because they fit quite well into their ecological niche.

    So… if I take a rock, expose it to 100000 years, there is a chance I can come back to it and expect it to be exactly the same?

    Rocks don’t evolve.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack

    If you can be absoultely sure that you do not know if absolute truth exists…

    You CANNOT PARAPHRASE this way without CHANGING THE MEANING! Stop doing that.

    The statement is: ” ‘I believe that I don’t know if Absolute Truth exists’ is absolutely true.” At no point are we talking about anything other than my belief and my sense of truthiness of the statement I’ve made about that belief. Reframed, I was asked “Do I believe that I don’t know…” (this does not change the meaning of the question)

    What I know or don’t know is, was and shall ever be, irrelevant to this statement. I am being asked if I am certain that I have stated something that is true for me (hint: the words “what do you believe). I can state, with certainty and no logical contradiction that the statement “I hold this belief” is an absolutely true statement. In what way could it be untrue, assuming that I didn’t lie in the first place and assuming that I’m not a pothead? In the interests of full and frank disclosure, I could discourse at length about whether or not I ever could be certain that my internal states really are as I perceive them to be, but that weaselly website has presented me with a false dilemma and I therefore must chose the option that best approximates my internal state.*

    Therefore, I can affirm absolutely because I, and I alone, have access to the internal states which answer the question “Is this statement about my belief absolutely true?” It doesn’t have to be true for anyone else or in any other sense because my belief about that statement does not overlap anything else or in any other sense. Nothing external to me has the qualities or characteristics of my internal representations. To invoke anything external when discussing my perception of certainty about my belief causes a contextual shift and creates a category error.

    You cannot tell me “that statement is not true” because there’s no way for you to know whether or not the internal states to which it refers are true. Nor can you say to me “how do you know if this is true for anyone else” because that’s a meaningless question given that I was asked “what do I believe? and “am I certain that what I’ve said about what I believe is true?”

    then s it not universally true that all people in all places and all times can (in fact) be sure they do not know if absolute truth exists?

    You would have to find a way to ask all people in all places and at all times about their beliefs in the truthiness of “Absolute Truth–True for all people at all times, universally true”. You would then have to decide whether or not you can believe their answers. Post the updates to your blog.

    Because if all people at all times in all places may not be able to be absolutely sure if absolute truth exists… then for all intensive purposes you might fall into this category. If all people at all times in all places can be sure of their belief in not knowing that absolute truth exists, then we have an absolute truth about people and their ability to believe things about themselves.

    If I had been asked “Is this statement “Absolute Truth–True for all people at all times, universally true–exists” true? Or even “is the above statement ‘absolutely true’”, then we would be having a completely different and equally pointless conversation, and the “proof” at proofthatgodexists.org would not be instantly self-refuting.

    *At no point have we ever discussed what I the neurocognitive-linguistic-social entity using the pseudonym “heliobates” ever believed. This entire go-around has been about proofthatgodexists.org’s stupid (il)logic.

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “I’m glad you keyed on the one sentence that could be misconstrued in the two paragraphs that I committed to talking about this…and ignored the rest of those paragraphs it seems.”

    I’m sorry you find my mimic of your response pattern offensive. I thought it was fair game to do this as you often respond to my every sentence instead of to the ideas I’ve put forward as a complete thought.

    One example of this comes from our last exchange:

    I said: “No, it isn’t a problem as I’ve admitted the conclusion I have reached relies upon this premise. It would be a problem if my point were you should believe in God or believe that He wrote a Book. My point was that having arrived at those conclusions I chose the Bible for the reasons I listed. Since my logic relies on you first believing God exists (or at least that He could exist) and then second upon the premise that He wrote a Book for us… it seems to follow that I must convince you in proper order so that you can arrive at the same conclusion I have. Arguing these things out of order won’t do us any good, which is why I’m pushing to keep the possibility of the existence of God (or the more likely probability of it compared to the alternative suggestions) the primary focus of my argument.”

    You quoted me as saying: “No, it isn’t a problem as I’ve admitted the conclusion I have reached relies upon this premise.”

    Then you replied: “This is basically saying, “Yes, I’m begging the question, but so what?””

    But you’re right… I should really stop responding to YOU out of context…

    “And, if you have a problem with macroevolution, you might want to rethink your support for the Noachian flood”

    I believe microevolution (which I tend to agree with) lends itself quite well to make plausible my beliefs in the Biblical account of the flood.

    “By arguing that “If evolution is true, then X would have happened” you are imposing your own dictates on what is at heart a random process.”

    I imaging many scientists cringing as you refer to natural selection (I’m assuming that’s what you were referring to here) as a “random process”. Someone better check to make sure Darwin didn’t ‘roll over’.

    Anyway. If you want to call evolution a random process… then I am even more compelled to demand cultures and moral structures which vary greatly (and in fact would seem entirely seperate) from ‘main stream culture’. A random process? Can I still hope for wings?

    “Rocks don’t evolve.”

    So then yes, I could expect it to be the same? Even though this object (which itself doesn’t change) is subjected to an environment of change… it should remain the same? If I place a rough stone in a running river and leave it there for about 5000 years… will it change? I guess my original analogy assumed a changing enviorment, I should have stated that. My bad. Anyhow… if something unchanging (like a rock) will change when subjected to different environments over time, then we should witness even greater changes to even greater degrees from things not so ‘solid as a rock’. An argument was made that morality evolves with mankind and our perception of morality. Therefore I am arguing that the basis for morality should no less shift given the changes to the environment of society over time.

    @Heliobates:

    Here’s what it breaks down to for me. You can REASON. You can logically conclude what you do or don’t know. We also assume that all people at all times in all places will have some way to conclude what they know or do not know. Logic… reason… these become our absolute truths.

    “I can state, with certainty and no logical contradiction that the statement “I hold this belief” is an absolutely true statement. In what way could it be untrue, assuming that I didn’t lie in the first place and assuming that I’m not a pothead?”

    Again, even your own reflection upon your own understanding of absolute truth demands that you apply certain laws of logic to arrive at a conclusion. It doesn’t mean everyone’s logic will be the same… only that logic will be applied. Even as we argue this point we are arguing one logic over another. As you try to convince me of your point (and as I try to convince you of mine) we are both appealing to the absolute truth of logic. It is the standard which supplies the ‘rules of engagement’ in argument. Without logic (or the absolute truth that logic exists) we would not be grounded in any belief.

    “Therefore, I can affirm absolutely because I, and I alone, have access to the internal states which answer the question “Is this statement about my belief absolutely true?””

    Your internal states are not what I meant to call into question. It is your assumed ability to evaluate your internal states. This is your ability to think and reason. Reason (logic) is then an absolute truth.

    “You cannot tell me “that statement is not true” because there’s no way for you to know whether or not the internal states to which it refers are true.”

    But if I WERE able to perceive your internal states then it should be without question that I would be able to determine if your statement were true or not. I don’t lack logic, I lack the evidence to consider in light of my logic. Again, even this point is trapped by the fact that you assume I possess the ability to reason (logic).

    “If I had been asked “Is this statement “Absolute Truth–True for all people at all times, universally true–exists” true? Or even “is the above statement ‘absolutely true’”, then we would be having a completely different and equally pointless conversation, and the “proof” at proofthatgodexists.org would not be instantly self-refuting.”

    The fact you feel you have to ability to answer this question reveals that you feel (unquestionably) that you have the ability to reason. You possess logic. It would be quite pointless to try to establish your opinion as universal truth… however this is not what the question seeks to do. The question seeks to bring you to the realization that you already believe in at least one absolute truth whether you are aware of it or not (logic/reason).

  • Brad

    our intuitions are useless (alone).

    I think I should qualify my statement further: our intuitions are insufficient for forming the morals of communities, especially the really theoretical ethics that are always discussed in moral dilemmas.

    Respectfully, I think that you and Brad are talking past me.

    I propose we agree to disagree, heliobates. I don’t claim to be right, I claim to disagree. The problem is that we have expended a large amount of writing here to fight over a tree in the midst of the forest. I have no doubts that the clearly amateur site proofthatgodexists is fallacious, and karatemack hasn’t defended the concluding non sequitor of the site. We need not waste more space and text within this thread. This site’s threads are oversaturated with minutiae-sniping as it is.

    That said, the fact that people follow their faith blindly speaks nothing to the validity of the faith itself.

    You are correct, karatemack, but that doesn’t directly address my previous statement. Let me try and put this on a timeline. (1) You: indoctrination is not bad (given Christianity), and it is not vital to Christianity, (2) Me: Indoctrination is defined as “…”, it is bad because it causes unnecessary ignorance or psychological harm/strain. (3) You: I don’t think Christianity falls under this category. (4) Me: Statistics show that it is the fundamental reason why believers today are Christians. (5) You: It’s unfortunate most people have blind belief, but that does not make the belief itself wrong.

    I agree, mass ignorance does not mean the belief is wrong, but I was arguing something different: the stability and perpetuation of Christianity has been dependent upon this very mass ignorance. (This is why so many atheists immediately think Christians are only so because they were taught to be so. Hence, many Christians in turn think atheists are “smarter-than-thou” egoistic types. The culture wars rage on.) I haven’t provided complete proof that Christianity requires indoctrination to survive, but I have provided some good evidence. I suspect your counter position might contain more assumptions, which only factors in further against you if we are going by Occam’s Razor and my thesis that we should accept the theory that best explains the observed world.

    You also appear to really, really misunderstand evolutionary theory. Rocks don’t reproduce, are not based upon DNA, and cultures are not genetic. (Cultures and genes work side-by-side.) The scientific community works by rigorous testing that outdoes any church’s. Given all of the documented evidence and research on evolution, still viewable today, to disbelieve evolutionary theory we would have to assume a mass conspiracy on the parts of all the world’s reputable biologists, or the ludicrous notion that all those scientists that came to accept evolutionary theory from its first inception to now were biased and erroneous. On the other hand, religions have very little supposedly real evidence that is still viewable today, and they all mutually conflict. When pressed hard enough, I have not seen religious authorities stand their ground well. They have always needed to climb the tree of instrumental assumptions, in league with the Tower of Babel, in order to get to the conclusion of the Biblical god.

    Satan, if he exists, knowing quite well the Word of God could attempt to bring about false religions which mimic the way in which God has said He will accomplish the redemption of mankind. I only mean to assert that this is a [plausible] explanation for the many religions which seem to mimic [Christianity] (or if you choose, “which Christianity seems to mimic”)

    If you first give an answer to the question “where does Satan’s power come from,” (last time you merely called him an “enabler”) and an answer to the subsequent question “why would God execute religion in a method that is repeatable by Satan” (shouldn’t we need informed choice from a powerful loving God?) then we can further assume (beggingly, as usual) that Satan is the root cause of false religions. You’re hanging from quite a few assumptions at this point. In order to continue fighting the uphill battle here, you would have to further present why this theory, with it’s many assumptions, explains the world much better than naturalism, otherwise the Razor will cut it out from the pool of assumption-minimalistic explanations. The most plausible explanation of observed and inferred facts is what we must search for here.

    “Second, major floods occur, on a fairly regular basis, all over the planet. Regional floods in China, North America, Egypt and Mesopotamia do not a global flood make.”

    Let’s get real. There are accounts of ‘major’ disasters (both in the Bible and in other ancient cultural records), and there is a clear distinction to be made between an account of major disasters and a story about a worldwide flood. Or do you hold the view that the ancients were stupid?

    Yes, I do think the ancients were stupid. The ancients were flippantly superstitious and irrational. (The Bible even portrays the Hebrews as primitive.) That is my naturalistic explanation. Floods occur all the time, and the ancients were relatively ignorant, so the weight of the assumption “all over the world many cultures illogically inferred or fabricated global flood stories” is much, much lighter than the legion of assumptions needed for the opposing Biblical-literalist explanation. I quote Ebonmuse from Do You Really Believe That?:

    If continual and arbitrary violations of physical law are invoked at every turn, any chain of events, no matter how ridiculous or impossible, can be allowed. But the sheer number of miracles that would be needed gives some idea of just how implausible the flood story is.

  • Brad

    karatemack, *how* does microevolution “lend itself quit well” to the Biblical flood account? I agree that it *might* cover some of the literalist’s tracks: if we assume the flood to begin with, then we may be able to use microevolution to explain the subsequent change afterwords which produced variety today that was not present back then. But that assumes the flood in the first place, so microevolution is not supporting evidence for the flood story by any means.

    Also, I link to Talk.Origins’ article on Macroevolution.

    Therefore I am arguing that the basis for morality should no less shift given the changes to the environment of society over time.

    Natural selection, by definition, favors that which works best. Hence, if certain moralities “work” better than other moralities, then those would be preferred. (This is a gross simplification, but I think it works.) Thus, in order to really defeat the naturalistic explanation for morality, you either have to give a more compelling argument for why it points to a god, or you have to give a compelling argument that the moralities which animals could assume are more evolutionarily flexible than what is demonstrated by history. That is: you have to actually argue the position I just quoted above. You use the rock as an analogy, but you need supporting evidence to prove to us the analogy is a true one in the first place.

  • heliobates

    Okay k-mack.

    I think part of the problem is that you’re arguing on a few different posts with several different people. You can’t focus on this issue to the point where you understand what I’m saying. Not your fault, really. You’re fighting on a lot of fronts.

    Reason (logic) is then an absolute truth.

    Hopelessly naieve. And I will not concede that point. If you think I’m being thick-headed about it, stay away from real philosophy. They’ve been arguing about this for 2,300 years and the issue is far from settled.

    The question seeks to bring you to the realization that you already believe in at least one absolute truth whether you are aware of it or not (logic/reason).

    My sense of certainty about my belief emphatically cannot be an absolute truth under the conditions proposed by proofthatgodexists.org because by the website’s definition, any absolute truth has to be true for everyone, at all times, your understanding of “absolute truth” and “logic/reason” notwithstanding. What you just said above commits exactly the category error I’ve been trying to bring to your attention and you just don’t understand the distinction. As my daughter says “Ifergiveup!”

    This particular horse is dead and I’ll flog it no more.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    karatemack,

    I’m sorry you find my mimic of your response pattern offensive. I thought it was fair game to do this as you often respond to my every sentence instead of to the ideas I’ve put forward as a complete thought.

    Show me where I’ve done this, or else you should stop acting like a petulant child.

    But you’re right… I should really stop responding to YOU out of context…

    Seeing as how your aims were not clearly defined, and how I was responding in a block of sentences, which I’ve already explained to you, you can bite me.

    I believe microevolution (which I tend to agree with) lends itself quite well to make plausible my beliefs in the Biblical account of the flood.

    No, it most certainly does not, and if you think that then you are even more ignorant of evolution than you’ve so far shown. In order for 6 people to repopulate the land and give the amount of diversity we see today, it would take a macroevolution on the scale of anything way beyond what you currently reject. I find it to be incredibly idiotic to assert that macroevolution can’t work, unless it works at extreme levels beyond any bounds of reason in order to support your Bible’s ridiculous stories.

    I imaging many scientists cringing as you refer to natural selection (I’m assuming that’s what you were referring to here) as a “random process”. Someone better check to make sure Darwin didn’t ‘roll over’.

    The mutations that feed into evolution are random, natural selection is not for eff’s sake. Don’t try to one up me on evolution, as you are badly outmatched. You are still wrong. Your argument isn’t correct, deal with it.

    Anyway. If you want to call evolution a random process… then I am even more compelled to demand cultures and moral structures which vary greatly (and in fact would seem entirely seperate) from ‘main stream culture’. A random process? Can I still hope for wings?

    No, but you can pick up a book and actually learn something instead of just making inane grumblings about stuff you obviously don’t understand. Again, by saying, “If evolution is true, then X should have happened” you show a great misunderstanding of the process of evolution. Go read a book, or visit talkorigins.org. Get a little understanding of evolution before you go gallivanting off to show off your ignorance.

    So then yes, I could expect it to be the same?

    At this point, we wouldn’t be talking about evolution. It would matter how much erosion or other forces the rock experienced. But, you aren’t interested in this, you are just being a smart ass.

    If I place a rough stone in a running river and leave it there for about 5000 years… will it change?

    You’re an idiot, since this has nothing to do with evolution. If you want to talk about geology, so be it, but since we were talking about evolution, you just look like an idiot talking about rocks “evolving.”

    Anyhow… if something unchanging (like a rock) will change when subjected to different environments over time, then we should witness even greater changes to even greater degrees from things not so ‘solid as a rock’.

    Nice try, but ultimately wrong. Apples and oranges at work here. It depends on a lot more factors than rocks don’t mutate, living organisms do, so therefore we should see ‘dats.’

    An argument was made that morality evolves with mankind and our perception of morality. Therefore I am arguing that the basis for morality should no less shift given the changes to the environment of society over time.

    Except for one thing, and that is exactly the same thing I’ve already brought up. Your rock argument got you nowhere.

  • heliobates

    I propose we agree to disagree, heliobates.

    I took that as a given, since you told me the point was moot. I was mentioning you only in passing, because k-mack said he agreed with you.

    We need not waste more space and text within this thread. This site’s threads are oversaturated with minutiae-sniping as it is.

    If you really have no interest in “minutiae-sniping” why open fire on me in the first place, when I so clearly had a dog in the hunt? Was it some bizarre form of object lesson?

    I realize this is your attempt at conciliation and a plea to put aside an issue in which you have no continuing interest, but you don’t really get to decide for other people what is and is not relevant or interesting conversation. So your attempt comes across as condescending, given your own conduct.

    Invest in a mouse with a scroll-wheel and we won’t have this problem, mmkay?

  • Brad

    Your vitriol accomplishes nothing here, OMGF.

  • heliobates

    Aw crap. Don’t respond to that, Brad.

    I posted in a fit of pique. If I could delete and start over, I would.

    My amended post would say: “I gratefully accept the rebuke.”

  • Brad

    Sorry, heliobates. I guess I’m just getting annoyed by what I see as accomplishing zero higher purpose. (Like calling karatemack a “petulant child” or arguing a specific website’s specific fallacy at length.) I shouldn’t have argued my side and then tried to put the case down, that was silly. On the other hand, I wasn’t deciding anything for other people, I was proposing what I think is economical here. Perhaps I was too condescending in the process.

    As for the scroll-wheel: I do not think comments here should be utterly systematic. I think they should be tempered with focus and minimalism. I admit I might not live up to this myself.

  • heliobates

    …or arguing a specific website’s specific fallacy at length.

    Valid point, and well expressed. It would, after all, take me exactly the same amount of time to resurrect my own blog and do my sniping from there.

    If you’re ever in Toronto, the beer’s on me.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Brad,
    I call it like I see it. If k-mack is intentionally going to act in an intellectually dishonest way, then I’m going to call him out on it. His actions are the actions of a petulant child, akin to, “Well, you’re being mean so I’m going to be mean to you to see how you like it, so Nyaaa (with tongue sticking out).”

  • karatemack

    @OMGF:

    “You’re an idiot”

    “I call it like I see it.”

    @Brad:

    “Your vitriol accomplishes nothing here, OMGF.”

    @Heliobates:

    “This particular horse is dead and I’ll flog it no more.”

    I will certainly do more ‘research’ inspired by the questions I had to ask myself during my journey on this site. Thank you for the interaction, and to Ebonmuse for the forum and opportunity to express different viewpoints.

    That said this is definately the end of my journey here. A brief apology is in order though:

    I apologize for those who suffered through long posts. I suppose I could (should) in the future make a blog of my own and link to it for more lengthy responses. This is my first experience trying to leave comments on a blog dealing with such in-depth topics, so I apologize for this ‘poor form’. (I don’t plan to make a blog)

    I apologize for trying to fully ‘deal’ with topics, especially when it seemed like either I or my opponent did not understand what the other was saying. As I said, I came here to try to broaden my understanding of your viewpoint, this was selfish of me. Certainly I can pick up any number of books and read up on these topics, however I had a desire to see how each view held up in debate vs simply reading a book which is written in a persuasive manner.

    It would seem I have overstayed my welcome a bit, so I’ll just leave you with this one last thought:

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was suppossed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too– for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist- in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless- I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality- namely my idea of justice- was full of sense. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning. _C.S. Lewis”

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    That said this is definately the end of my journey here.

    What? Without presenting your much vaunted evidence for god? Color me shocked, shocked I say.

    As I said, I came here to try to broaden my understanding of your viewpoint, this was selfish of me.

    That’s not selfish in the least. I would never take offense to someone who actually wants to learn. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that you honestly wanted to learn anything.

    And thank you for leaving us with that quote from CS Lewis (we’ve all seen it before) where he jumps to his unwarranted conclusions based on bad reasoning.

  • Brad

    Just because love exists, doesn’t mean fairies created it. Same thing with justice and God. Like I said in another thread, the light/dark metaphors are oversimplistic.

  • Ty

    I apologize for not getting on this website very often in the last week. I thought I would let you know that I’m going to take your suggestions, and read some literature on this subject. Until then, I’m going to be taking a break from the web site. I’m sure this will take me awhile, but I’m going to start reading the entire Bible from an unbiased point of view, but I’m not going to completely forsake my faith. Instead, I’m going to try and read the Bible from an atheist’s view point. Apparently, since I’m only a kid, some people think I have no idea what I’m talking about. So if I read the entire Bible, maybe some people will believe me. Unfortunately, this task will probably take me years. I intend on returning to this site (if it still exists), and I will write the URL in the back of my Bible. What worries me is that there is so much that can happen in a few years. Death is inevitable. Jesus could even return before I finish. I will continue to pray for you, and I truly hope that you will think about what I have said, and consider letting Jesus into your heart.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Karatemack,

    Good posts, and thanks for posting the link to my site. Please visit it again, and send me an e-mail. I’d like to compile a list of people to send notes to regarding updates to the site.

    Ty,

    I dont know if you have been to my website, but your idea of reading the Bible from an atheists perspective is a mistake. It is the Christian position that God is the foundation for all reasoning. One does not ‘reason’ to God, as that would make one’s reasoning independent of God, or of a higher authority than God. Becoming a Christian for the atheist, is not a matter of reasoning, but a matter of submission to what they already know, and are suppressing.

    Instead of reading the Bible from the atheist’s perspective, read it knowing that it is the inspired, infallible word of God.

    Cheers,

    Sye

  • silentsanta

    Hey Ty,

    well, good luck with your project. Please note – many of us here have already read the entire bible, and while I encourage you to understand better where your faith comes from, I also think it’s important to ensure you do the best job you can of looking over things critically. The textbook for my critical thinking course was called Consider the Verdict by Bruce Waller and was pretty good (although the course manual we got in class was better.

    It is basically a textbook discussing arguments; good ones, bad ones, and how to tell the difference. Important stuff; I actually think this sort of material should be taught in primary schools; it’s not difficult, and somehow we try to run a democracy but don’t seem to care whether our citizens have any training on how to critically analyse material from all the different sources they will meet during their lives.

  • S Emerson

    Sye T,

    If the Bible truly is the clear, irrefutable word of god, surely Ty’s god-given reasoning abilities shouldn’t interfere with his ability to understand its truth, regardless of how he applies his reasoning. I would think that, for one who has already chosen to submit, no harm could possibly come from studying and thinking about scripture… assuming scripture really is true.

    I am most curious, as always, to know how you (and other theists) know that I am suppressing some kind of knowledge of god or desire to commune with him. Is it really so unacceptable that I may have reached my conclusions about your religion through honest consideration of evidence? Am I so intellectually mighty that I am able to suppress the influence of the creator of the universe by my own will? Or are you simply claiming to know me better than I know myself?

    You are either paying me (and other atheists / agnostics) an incredible compliment or being grossly insulting.

  • heliobates

    You are either paying me (and other atheists / agnostics) an incredible compliment or being grossly insulting.

    It’s not really either It’s equal parts cargo cult and Aura of Infallibility. There’s also a splash of other ways of knowing, and it’s all served on a bed of fresh arrogance.

  • http://thereisnobeep.blogspot.com/ heliobates

    The range is open if you want to trade shots, Sye.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    If the Bible truly is the clear, irrefutable word of god, surely Ty’s god-given reasoning abilities shouldn’t interfere with his ability to understand its truth, regardless of how he applies his reasoning.

    Neutrality is a myth. Either God is the foundation of all reasoning or He is not. One cannot autonomously reason to God being the foundation of all reasoning. To read the Bible from an atheistic perspective, is to assume autonomous reasoning, and abandon the Christian worldview at the outset.

    I am most curious, as always, to know how you (and other theists) know that I am suppressing some kind of knowledge of god or desire to commune with him.

    By the only way anyone can know anything – divine revelation. Romans 1 18:20 says: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

    Not that I need any external confirmation of that passage, but every atheist that I’ve asked, who has become a Christian, has admitted that they knew all along that God existed.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Not that I need any external confirmation of that passage, but every atheist that I’ve asked, who has become a Christian, has admitted that they knew all along that God existed.

    You’re kind of confirming that they weren’t really atheists, then, aren’t you? I mean, from my perspective, you’re confirming that they weren’t atheists in the sense that I understand myself to be an atheist.

    Oh, but I’ll stop now. You say, effectively, that no argument I could make would convince you. Perhaps even if you could see into my head to view my honest doubt directly you’d just doubt your eyes and trust your Bible quote.

    (What about Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims? Do they all know in their hearts that they’re actually wrong?)

  • Brad

    Sye T,

    Your attempt at emotional manipulation is sickening. It is plainly obvious that the thought of someone thinking freely for themselves, as Ty has innocently alleged his intention to do, is a very disturbing and distressing idea to you, even to the point that you paint the world’s skeptics as a grand conspiracy of denialists. (Of course you know their denialists; you have “divine revelation” from God!)

    To address your sad, twisted defense of theism -

    Reason is a higher authority than God. As the apologetics go: God cannot do whatever is logically impossible, and therefore logic transcends God. To take this idea even further: since logic arches over all possible worlds, worlds with gods and worlds without, we can take hold of the reins of this faculty and figure out for ourselves which type of world we are in. In utter spite of your desperate prejudice and denial, people have autonomous reasoning without God.

    Every Christian I’ve ever asked, who has become an Atheist, has conceded they doubted all along whether their “relationship” with God was real.

    I hope you can overcome your delusion similarly.

    Sincerely,

    Brad H

  • S Emerson

    Sye T,

    Thank you for the response.

    You are creating a false dilemma. You suggest two alternatives: either I read the Bible presuming that it’s true, or I read it presuming that it’s false. This is not so. I first read the Bible believing that it could be either true or false. If you consider this to be “reading the Bible from an atheistic viewpoint” then I must ask you whether or not you believe the Bible was written, at least in part, to inform human beings of the existence and will of god. As I said, I read the Bible (and other religious texts) to seek clarification on these issues. I was keeping an open mind. I was not converted, and still am not.

    Do you call me a liar, or perhaps think I’m in the grip of satanic influences? If the former, your arrogant presumptuousness precludes any further discussion. If the latter, some proof would be helpful. In either case, if the Bible is only meant to reinforce the beliefs of the already converted, then why do we need it at all?

    As for your claim that everything you know comes from divine revelation — this is hard to swallow. Are you seriously claiming that you’ve learned nothing from observation of the world, or from your fellow men and women? How did you learn that microbes and virii cause diseases? How did you learn English? How did you learn to use a computer and join this very discussion?

    I learned about the existence of the Christian relgion from other human beings, just as you did, just as Muslims learned about Islam, just as ancient Sumerians learned about An and Nanna. If your god truly exists, why didn’t he speak to my conscience the way you believe he spoke to yours? Again, I state that I read the Bible seeking whatever truths it might hold. I felt no sense of divine revelation.

    So are you calling me a liar? Or are you merely appealing to your own authority? If neither, then why should I believe your baseless claims over anyone else’s?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    I doubt I will be able (or interested) in keeping up with all your responses, perhaps you should pick a spokesperson.

    Lynet wrote:

    You’re kind of confirming that they weren’t really atheists, then, aren’t you? I mean, from my perspective, you’re confirming that they weren’t atheists in the sense that I understand myself to be an atheist.

    Not kind of. I am.

    Oh, but I’ll stop now. You say, effectively, that no argument I could make would convince you. Perhaps even if you could see into my head to view my honest doubt directly you’d just doubt your eyes and trust your Bible quote.

    That’s right.

    (What about Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims? Do they all know in their hearts that they’re actually wrong?)

    Yes

  • Adele

    @ Sye T -

    Congratulations! You have mastered circular reasoning.

    By the only way anyone can know anything – divine revelation. Romans 1 18:20 says: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

    Not that I need any external confirmation of that passage…

    So now we’re using the Bible… to prove the truth of the Bible?

    Exactly how much sense does that make?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Brad H. Wrote:

    Reason is a higher authority than God. As the apologetics go: God cannot do whatever is logically impossible, and therefore logic transcends God.

    Um no, God cannot be illogical as logic stems from His very nature, and God cannot both be God, and not God at the same time and in the same way.

    To take this idea even further: since logic arches over all possible worlds, worlds with gods and worlds without, we can take hold of the reins of this faculty and figure out for ourselves which type of world we are in.

    If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.
    ~C.S. Lewis

    How do you account for the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic according to YOUR worldview? Each one of those elements, let alone all of them, are inconsistent with atheism.

    In utter spite of your desperate prejudice and denial, people have autonomous reasoning without God.

    Alright, please tell us how you know that your reasoning is valid?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    S Emerson wrote

    If you consider this to be “reading the Bible from an atheistic viewpoint” then I must ask you whether or not you believe the Bible was written, at least in part, to inform human beings of the existence and will of god.

    No part of the Bible was written to inform humans beings of the existence of God, as the Bible clearly states, everyone already knows it.

    As I said, I read the Bible (and other religious texts) to seek clarification on these issues. I was keeping an open mind. I was not converted, and still am not.

    As I said, neutrality is a myth. One believes that either God is the foundation of all reasoning, or that He is not.

    Do you call me a liar, or perhaps think I’m in the grip of satanic influences? If the former, your arrogant presumptuousness precludes any further discussion. If the latter, some proof would be helpful. In either case, if the Bible is only meant to reinforce the beliefs of the already converted, then why do we need it at all?

    I would say self-deceived. If that precludes further discussion, so be it.

    As for your claim that everything you know comes from divine revelation — this is hard to swallow. Are you seriously claiming that you’ve learned nothing from observation of the world, or from your fellow men and women? How did you learn that microbes and virii cause diseases? How did you learn English? How did you learn to use a computer and join this very discussion?

    It is only through revelation, that anyone can trust their senses to any degree. I trust my senses as I know they are a gift from God. Atheists take the circular position of sensing that their senses are valid.

    I learned about the existence of the Christian relgion from other human beings, just as you did

    That is question begging. Prove that God does not reveal some things (namely His existence) directly to us.

    If your god truly exists, why didn’t he speak to my conscience the way you believe he spoke to yours?

    Regarding His existence, He has.

    Again, I state that I read the Bible seeking whatever truths it might hold. I felt no sense of divine revelation.

    The very concept of truth requires God. If you doubt this, please tell us something you know to be true, and how you know it, without invoking God.

    So are you calling me a liar? Or are you merely appealing to your own authority? If neither, then why should I believe your baseless claims over anyone else’s?

    As I said – self-deceived. I am appealing to God’s authority when I make that claim (Romans 1: 18-20)

  • http://thereisnobeep.blogspot.com/ heliobates

    So are you calling me a liar? Or are you merely appealing to your own authority?

    You are the Queen of false dilemmas.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Heliobates wrote:

    You are the Queen of false dilemmas.

    Well, naturally I disagree, but still, by what standard of logic do you call anything a ‘false’ dilemma, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to me?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Adele wrote:

    Congratulations! You have mastered circular reasoning.

    At the root, ALL ultimate authority claims have a degree of circularity. No doubt, your ultimate authority is your ability to reason. I don’t suppose you’d like to tell us on what basis you trust your ability to reason, WITHOUT using your ability to reason?

    The difference is, that my worldview can (and does) account for the very foundations of reason, not the least of which, the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic. How do you account for them according to YOUR worldview?

    Perhaps then you could tell me why circularity in reasoning is absolutely not allowed in arrving at truth, according to your worldview.

  • Brad

    perhaps you should pick a spokesperson

    Well, there’s always Ebonmuse. But we’re not one body; we’re a collection of individuals, and we act like it.

    God cannot both be God, and not God at the same time and in the same way.

    You’re saying God is obedient to the authority of the Law of the Excluded Middle. To say that God cannot go against his own nature is to assume logic over him.

    I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.

    If evidence and reason support one cosmologically “accidental” thought over another such thought, then we certainly have “reason for believing.” Beyond that then, no, there is no reason for believing one splash over another. CS Lewis seems to be denying the possibility that a material universe can give rise to intelligent minds, but this is a misguided denial unsupported by evidence and reason.

    How do you account for the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic according to YOUR worldview? Each one of those elements, let alone all of them, are inconsistent with atheism.

    Universal, invariant laws of logic are necessary; they cannot fail to be true. When one postulates a “source” of logic, then we can question about the logic of that source making logic, and then we’re in a conceptual trap. So how do you account for logic? How can a “being” “make” logic? The idea is nonsense. Now tell me more about how universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic are inconsistent with atheism.

    In utter spite of your desperate prejudice and denial, people have autonomous reasoning without God.

    Alright, please tell us how you know that your reasoning is valid?

    There is no God, and I can reason. The conclusion follows from the premises. “How” I know that reasoning is valid would likely require some neuroscience.

    It is only through revelation, that anyone can trust their senses to any degree. I trust my senses as I know they are a gift from God. Atheists take the circular position of sensing that their senses are valid.

    Empirical perception is different from rationality. Technically, there is nothing I know that contradicts the theory that I live in the Matrix or that the universe was just created two days ago. In the pursuit of successful investigation, though, I go by the theories of reality that work best. That is, they must explain the most and assume the least.

    If your god truly exists, why didn’t he speak to my conscience the way you believe he spoke to yours?

    Regarding His existence, He has.

    You betray your righteous messenger complex. To presume another person already knows what you do but just denies it is the only thing you can fall back on to stay consistent. That’s wishful thinking stretched to the point of denying reality.

    The very concept of truth requires God. If you doubt this, please tell us something you know to be true, and how you know it, without invoking God.

    I know I am thinking “2 = 1 + 1″ because I am conscious of the fact. So tell us more about why the concept of truth requires “God,” and please explain what “God” is.

    If the only circularity in reason itself is that it is its own basis, then I am unfazed by your attempt to ideologically profit on mystery and bizarre epistemology.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Brad said:

    You’re saying God is obedient to the authority of the Law of the Excluded Middle. To say that God cannot go against his own nature is to assume logic over him.

    No, I am saying that the laws of logic are elements of God’s unchanging character. God is not under their authority, they are an aspects of who God is.

    If evidence and reason support one cosmologically “accidental” thought over another such thought, then we certainly have “reason for believing.”

    You miss the point. If evidence and reason are themselves cosmological accidents, why should we trust them to give us ‘truth?’

    Beyond that then, no, there is no reason for believing one splash over another. CS Lewis seems to be denying the possibility that a material universe can give rise to intelligent minds, but this is a misguided denial unsupported by evidence and reason.

    You are begging the question. You are basically saying that you have reasoned that a material universe has given us reason? Why trust such a hopelessly circular argument?

    Universal, invariant laws of logic are necessary; they cannot fail to be true.

    I would agree, but I have a worldview that can account for those elements of logic. How do you account for universal, invariants according to your worldview? Why, for instance, are there universal, invariant laws, why not, as Shakespeare said, “Sound and fury signifying nothing?’ On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that logical laws will hold 5 seconds from now?

    When one postulates a “source” of logic, then we can question about the logic of that source making logic, and then we’re in a conceptual trap.

    Not at all, logic is derived from the mind of God, who has always existed, and is in fact, beyond time.

    So how do you account for logic? How can a “being” “make” logic? The idea is nonsense.

    I would agree, since God did not “make” logic. Still though, by what absolute standard is anything nonsense, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to anything?

    Now tell me more about how universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic are inconsistent with atheism.

    1. How can an atheist know anything to be universally true, without access to universal knowledge (God)?
    2. On what basis does the atheist proceed with the assumption that logical laws WILL not change?
    3. How does the atheist account for immaterial entities according to their worldview?

    In utter spite of your desperate prejudice and denial, people have autonomous reasoning without God.

    This is only an assertion, prove this please.

    Alright, please tell us how you know that your reasoning is valid?

    I proceed with the assumption that my reasoning is valid, based on God’s revelation, that He has created us with the ability to reason, and commands it of us.

    There is no God

    Prove this please.

    and I can reason.

    You have yet to tell us how this is possible according to your worldview? How do you know that your ability to reason is valid?

    The conclusion follows from the premises. “How” I know that reasoning is valid would likely require some neuroscience.

    And let me guess, in order to avoid circularity, this would be neuroscience that did not involve reason right? Riiiiiiight.

    Empirical perception is different from rationality. Technically, there is nothing I know that contradicts the theory that I live in the Matrix or that the universe was just created two days ago. In the pursuit of successful investigation, though, I go by the theories of reality that work best. That is, they must explain the most and assume the least.

    But really, you haven’t got a clue. That is exactly my point. Without God, one cannot account for anything they claim to know, including the validity of their senses.

    You betray your righteous messenger complex. To presume another person already knows what you do but just denies it is the only thing you can fall back on to stay consistent. That’s wishful thinking stretched to the point of denying reality.

    It is my position that God reveals some things to us, in such a way that we can be certain of them. You argue against that claim, but tell me, on what does your argument rest? How is it possible to know anything for certain according to your worldview? Surely you see the fallaciousness of arguing “I can’t know anything for certain, but I’m certain that you are wrong?”

    I know I am thinking “2 = 1 + 1″ because I am conscious of the fact.

    How do you know that you are in fact conscious, or that you even exist? Wasn’t it you that said: ” Technically, there is nothing I know that contradicts the theory that I live in the Matrix or that the universe was just created two days ago?”

    So tell us more about why the concept of truth requires “God,”

    Simple, in order to know whether anything is true, one must know everything, or have revelation from someone (God) who does, else you end up with an infinite regress of “and how do you know THAT?”

    and please explain what “God” is.

    I address this on the website, but I’d be happy to repost it here: God is a personal being (not an impersonal force). God is immaterial, omnipresent (everywhere), omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnibenevolent (all good), immutable (unchanging), sovereign (supreme in authority), free, perfect, and eternal (without beginning or end). God is one divine being in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each are equally and eternally the one true God.

    If the only circularity in reason itself is that it is its own basis, then I am unfazed by your attempt to ideologically profit on mystery and bizarre epistemology.

    And you are so, with zero foundation in rationality. I am pleased with that concession.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Sye, aren’t you reasoning that the existence of God would justify your ability to reason? How can you justify that prior to having figured out that belief in God could justify your ability to reason?

    It seems to me that the ability to reason still must take priority over any other inference you make. No human being can escape that. So why add belief in God as an extra?

    Ebonmuse gives answers to some of your other questions in Are Evolved Minds Reliable Truth-Finders?

    The Curiously Postmodern Modern Apologists is also relevant.

  • http://thereisnobeep.blogspot.com/ heliobates

    by what standard of logic do you call anything a ‘false’ dilemma,

    Only by the standard that the rest of the world uses.

    You could start with:

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#False%20Dilemma

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

    http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/X046

    …but you need a more introductory primer: http://www.ucc.uconn.edu/~wwwphil/logic.pdf

    how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to me?

    It applies to you because you presume to offer a persuasive case for the existence of god and you aim this proof at atheists. Using your ‘home-brew’ approach to “logic” is counter-productive. It behooves you, if you intention is to persuade, to use the same kind of “logic” that the rest of the world will recognize. Otherwise, you’re going to do nothing but defend your own failings, to the detriment of your intentions and purpose.

    You’re welcome to discuss this at my blog. I’m not going to clutter Adam’s any more.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Lynet said:

    ”Sye, aren’t you reasoning that the existence of God would justify your ability to reason?”

    No, the existence of God is my presupposition, and foundational to all of my reasoning.

    It seems to me that the ability to reason still must take priority over any other inference you make. No human being can escape that. So why add belief in God as an extra?

    In epistemology beliefs are justified either because they are supported by evidence or are foundational to knowledge (properly basic). Logic is foundational to reason and so is properly basic. The question becomes, which worldview can account for the laws of logic which we hold as ‘properly basic’ beliefs.

    I don’t have the time to point out all the fallacies in the arguments you linked. If you’d like to choose a few points, I’ll see what I can do.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Sye T,
    I only have time to answer a couple quick things here…

    I proceed with the assumption that my reasoning is valid, based on God’s revelation, that He has created us with the ability to reason, and commands it of us.

    This is a textbook example of begging the question and/or circular reasoning. Why do you believe your assumptions to be valid?

    Without God, one cannot account for anything they claim to know, including the validity of their senses.

    Actually, our senses are not always valid. The sun does not, in fact, revolve around the Earth, even though our senses tell us that it does. We’ve developed a method in order to be reasonably sure that the things we think we know are as true as possible. It’s called the Scientific Method. It works without resorting to invoking god. If you wish to invoke god as an added layer, then you run afoul of Occam’s Razor.

    How is it possible to know anything for certain according to your worldview?

    We can’t know anything to 100% certainty, but neither can you. You posit a personal god that performs miracles that violate the laws of physics that we observe. Since this god can literally make the sun stop (as allegedly happened in the Bible) we can’t be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow. The existence of your god throws the world into chaos where we can’t predict what will happen unless we put in the caveat, “As long as a miracle doesn’t occur.” Of course, the greater difficulty would be that our predictions might be based on miracles in the first place, which can throw off our whole prediction scheme.

    I address this on the website, but I’d be happy to repost it here: God is a personal being (not an impersonal force). God is immaterial, omnipresent (everywhere), omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnibenevolent (all good), immutable (unchanging), sovereign (supreme in authority), free, perfect, and eternal (without beginning or end). God is one divine being in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each are equally and eternally the one true God.

    Thank you for actually providing a definition of your god, most apologists won’t do this, because as soon as they provide one, they open themselves up to logical disproof, as you have done. I would suggest you take a look at a book called, The Impossibility of God as it has disproofs for gods holding many of the attributes that you claim your god has.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Heliobates said:

    Only by the standard that the rest of the world uses.

    Um, the rest of the world uses an absolute standard of logic, which, without God, one cannot account for, and you deny.

    It applies to you because you presume to offer a persuasive case for the existence of god and you aim this proof at atheists.

    You could not be further from the truth. Proof does not equal persuasion (as the site states).

    Using your ‘home-brew’ approach to “logic” is counter-productive. It behooves you, if you intention is to persuade, to use the same kind of “logic” that the rest of the world will recognize.

    Again, persuasion is out of my department, but still, why I am ‘behooved’ to use the same kind of logic the world uses? If there is no absolute standard (as you posit), why can’t I just make up my own, and go by that?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    ”This is a textbook example of begging the question and/or circular reasoning. Why do you believe your assumptions to be valid?”

    Let’s back it up a bit first. Why is circular reasoning and/or question begging not allowed to arrive at truth according to your worldview?

    Actually, our senses are not always valid.

    Agree, but my point is that the atheist has zero foundation for trusting the validity of his/her senses, while the Christian does.

    We’ve developed a method in order to be reasonably sure that the things we think we know are as true as possible. It’s called the Scientific Method.”

    Problem is, the foundation of the scientific method is ‘induction,’ or ‘the uniformity of nature,’ which also cannot be accounted for outside of God. To posit that the future will be like the past, because the future has been like the past, in the past, is, as I trust you can see, question begging.

    It works without resorting to invoking god. If you wish to invoke god as an added layer, then you run afoul of Occam’s Razor.

    ”Occam’s razor states that one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything, however, the simple theory must be able to account for or explain what needs explaining. It’s not enough to have a simpler theory if you can’t account for anything. Though we shouldn’t add entities beyond what’s needed, we also should not subtract entities beyond what’s needed. ~ Paul Manata

    We can’t know anything to 100% certainty, but neither can you.

    It never ceases to amaze me that people repeat that line so often. If you can’t know anything for certain, 1. you couldn’t know that you can’t know anything for certain, and 2, you can’t know what I can or cannot know for certain.

    You posit a personal god that performs miracles that violate the laws of physics that we observe. Since this god can literally make the sun stop (as allegedly happened in the Bible) we can’t be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow. The existence of your god throws the world into chaos where we can’t predict what will happen unless we put in the caveat, “As long as a miracle doesn’t occur.” Of course, the greater difficulty would be that our predictions might be based on miracles in the first place, which can throw off our whole prediction scheme.

    A number of problems here. 1. You can’t know this for certain (as you have admitted). 2. You can’t know that God does in fact not invoke higher laws of physics of which we are unaware, rather than violating the ones we are aware of. 3 You assume that God has not revealed, in such a way that we can be certain, that the future will probably resemble the past, and 4. You have exactly zero basis for assuming the uniformity of nature according to your own worldview.

    Thank you for actually providing a definition of your god, most apologists won’t do this,

    I have nothing to hide :-)

    ”because as soon as they provide one, they open themselves up to logical disproof, as you have done.”

    Most apologists do apologetics poorly. Logic assumes the existence of God. When one posits a ‘disproof’ one assumes absolute laws of logic, which are impossible without God, thus making the ‘disproof’ self-refuting.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sye T,

    So I’m following this thread a little and just wanted to ask a few questions: Are you of the opinion that God is a falsifiable proposition? Do you believe there is a successful ontological argument?

    And whey you say,

    Most apologists do apologetics poorly.

    I was kinda put off by that.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    CL said:

    So I’m following this thread a little and just wanted to ask a few questions: Are you of the opinion that God is a falsifiable proposition?

    No. Without God, falsifiability (as well as truth) is itself a meaningless concept.

    Do you believe there is a successful ontological argument?

    No. Any argument assumes intelligibility. It is the Christian position that God is the necessary precondition of intelligibility. If we allow for autonomous reasoning in order to argue for the existence of God, then we refute our position at the outset. Please note, that I am not saying that these arguments are not helpful to Christians, but they are misguided in apologetics.

    And whey you say, Most apologists do apologetics poorly. I was kinda put off by that.

    Sorry, but I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em :-) If it is of any comfort, I argued poorly until I disovered, (was shown) the presuppositional method of apologetics. Any argument for God, which does not begin with God as the foundation of all reasoning, is a poor argument.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sye T,

    I give double “no’s” as well.

    You say,

    It is the Christian position that God is the necessary precondition of intelligibility. If we allow for autonomous reasoning in order to argue for the existence of God, then we refute our position at the outset.

    If you don’t mind, would you phrase this in simple language an eighth-grader could deliberate? I need to be sure I fully understand what you’re actually arguing here. I don’t want to argue against my perception of what you’re actually arguing, which would be strawmanning.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    CL said:

    If you don’t mind, would you phrase this in simple language an eighth-grader could deliberate? I need to be sure I fully understand what you’re actually arguing here. I don’t want to argue against my perception of what you’re actually arguing, which would be strawmanning.

    I like you :-) You have a refreshing style that exudes honesty. I also commented at your blog. I’m currently writing a book on apologetics, and you seem like a good person to bounce things off of. Please keep in touch.

    To your question. I said:

    It is the Christian position that God is the necessary precondition of intelligibility. If we allow for autonomous reasoning in order to argue for the existence of God, then we refute our position at the outset.

    I’m glad that you asked for simpler terms, as I need to write my book at a level that everyone can understand, as most of the time I don’t even understand myself :-)

    Basically stated, Humans reason. Reason requires logic. Logic is universal (applies to all people at all times, invariant (does not change), and abstract (not made of matter). Those attributes of logic can only be made sense of with God (as all of these attribues are found in God, and comport with His revelation).
    Now, if we use ANY argument with the atheist, that says they can bring their own unaided ability to reason to the table, then we contradict what we know about reason. You see, that way, even if you could convince the atheist that God existed, he could easily say, “Ya, but I did not need God for the reasoning that I used to come to that conclusion.” What ends up happening, is the atheist then believes in a god which is not the necessary source for reasoning, or in essence, not God at all, but an idol.

    Hope that helped

  • Brad

    No, I am saying that the laws of logic are elements of God’s unchanging character. God is not under their authority, they are an aspects of who God is.

    First: why does God have to act according to his own character? Because that is only logical. Thus, like I keep saying, there is logic outside of God’s character. Second: how are the laws of logic “aspects” of God’s “character”? Last time I checked, the laws of logic were not a personal trait, no more than colors and the laws of physics. To say that these laws are aspects of “God”‘s character seems like bizarre semantics whose only purpose is to salvage belief in God.

    If evidence and reason are themselves cosmological accidents, why should we trust them to give us ‘truth?’

    Because that is the intrinsic nature of evidence and reason. If I accidentally spill milk on the floor, then there will be evidence of the event, even though the event was unintended.

    You are basically saying that you have reasoned that a material universe has given us reason?

    The ability to reason, yes. How is this position begging the question? That fallacy is based upon an argument where the conclusion is in the premises. The source of my ability to reason has no effect on the ability itself, and so the reliability of such an ability has no dependence upon its origin.

    How do you account for universal, invariants according to your worldview? Why, for instance, are there universal, invariant laws, why not, as Shakespeare said, “Sound and fury signifying nothing?’ On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that logical laws will hold 5 seconds from now?

    I believe that logic is uncaused, because the alternative does not make any sense. Logic must hold; it is necessary and not contingent upon anything.

    Still though, by what absolute standard is anything nonsense, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to anything?

    When something does not make sense, it is nonsense. That standard is by definition.

    1. How can an atheist know anything to be universally true, without access to universal knowledge (God)?

    2. On what basis does the atheist proceed with the assumption that logical laws WILL not change?

    3. How does the atheist account for immaterial entities according to their worldview?

    1. By reason and evidence. 2. Because it cannot; that is illogical. 3. What immaterial entities? The contents of consciousness? Spirits and demons?

    I proceed with the assumption that my reasoning is valid, based on God’s revelation, that He has created us with the ability to reason, and commands it of us.

    How could “God’s revelation” be valid? Could it not be a Cartesian demon? Or my own god-like powers? Seems you’re stuck in your own circularity too, but with one more assumed entity. You keep saying God accounts for things, but all I see is big “CAUTION” tape put up around every single gap you bring up. As for why I know I am conscious, it is because I am conscious of the fact I am conscious. I think, therefore I exist. Whether or not the sense perceptions fed to my consciousness correspond to a reality as I imagine it does not change that fact.

    Now let me straighten another thing up. Circular reasoning is where the conclusion sits within the premises. Just because reason is sovereign in its own right, without a source, does not mean that all logical arguments have their conclusions in their premises. You’re trying to tell us that without God, there is inevitable solipsism and no “foundation for rationality.” The issue is that there is still solipsism (why trust God?) and your “foundation” makes no sense, and to boot is unnecessary because rationality needs no foundation.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Sye T,

    Let’s back it up a bit first. Why is circular reasoning and/or question begging not allowed to arrive at truth according to your worldview?

    Let’s back up even further. Why is it allowed in your worldview? If logic and reason supposedly come from god – and I have yet to see a compelling argument why logic and reason must come from god and be bestowed upon us – why is it necessary for you to use logical fallacy to argue in favor of god? This is quite independent of whether my “worldview” works or not, because arguing against my “worldview” does not prove that your worldview is correct.

    Agree, but my point is that the atheist has zero foundation for trusting the validity of his/her senses, while the Christian does.

    Again, I dispute this, as you are positing a god that can and does change the rules.

    To posit that the future will be like the past, because the future has been like the past, in the past, is, as I trust you can see, question begging.

    No, actually it is not. It’s induction, just as you said. Induction is not the same as begging the question. We get our ideas of rationality and logic from observing the universe around us – empiricism.

    ”Occam’s razor states that one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything, however, the simple theory must be able to account for or explain what needs explaining. It’s not enough to have a simpler theory if you can’t account for anything. Though we shouldn’t add entities beyond what’s needed, we also should not subtract entities beyond what’s needed. ~ Paul Manata

    The problem for you is that what we can account for in science, we have no need to invoke god for. If you are claiming that we can’t account for anything, which it appears you are, then you have to show why we can’t account for anything. So far, all I’ve seen is assertions that we can only have logic, reason, etc. if god exists, but no compelling reason why this is so.

    It never ceases to amaze me that people repeat that line so often. If you can’t know anything for certain, 1. you couldn’t know that you can’t know anything for certain, and 2, you can’t know what I can or cannot know for certain.

    We could be in the Matrix and live in a world where absolute certainty is possible, so yeah, it’s a possibility. But, it’s not rational to believe that. Given what it is rational to believe, we can’t know with certainty anything. We can (and do) get to the point where we can rationally believe in things (scientific theories, laws, etc.) without ever achieving 100% certainty, but that doesn’t mean it is rational to disbelieve them. Either way, you live in the same world as me (given that we aren’t in the Matrix or some other universe, etc) and are bound by the same rules. If you are asserting that you can know things to 100% certainty, then you are claiming to have god-like powers.

    A number of problems here. 1. You can’t know this for certain (as you have admitted).

    I fail to see how this is a problem.

    2. You can’t know that God does in fact not invoke higher laws of physics of which we are unaware, rather than violating the ones we are aware of.

    Again, this is not a problem for the issue I brought up. If god is invoking higher laws of physics or not, you claim he has the ability to change the laws of physics, does he not? In so doing, he could completely destroy that which we know (to a reasonable degree) and makes it so that you can not count on the world being the same.

    3 You assume that God has not revealed, in such a way that we can be certain, that the future will probably resemble the past…

    Has he? The only book that seems to talk about the Xian god is the Bible and in it miraculous things do happen, and judging by it we can’t be sure they won’t happen again. In fact, many people believe that miracles occur all the time.

    4. You have exactly zero basis for assuming the uniformity of nature according to your own worldview.

    Once again, this has nothing to do with the argument I brought up. Even if I can’t defend the uniformity of nature, that doesn’t mean that your statement that you can is correct.

    Logic assumes the existence of God. When one posits a ‘disproof’ one assumes absolute laws of logic, which are impossible without God, thus making the ‘disproof’ self-refuting.

    Interesting. The problem I see here, however is something I’ve already brought up, which is that it is contradictory that logic comes from the god that you posit, yet logic also disproves the god that you posit. So, if the logic is not flawed and god really does not exist, then your argument that the logic is flawed because of your belief that god does exist would be entirely wrong. IOW, your answer to this is question begging.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sye T,

    I’m having a hard time following you as well, and I’m no atheist. What is your empirical basis for saying that reason requires logic? Is logic a tangible thing? To me, reason requires intelligence and the ability to perform inductive reasoning, and I see no empirical evidence which suggests this can only come from God. Is this what you mean by saying ‘reason requires logic?’

    Under all the big words, your argument seems reducible to, “Since I can reason about the issue of whether there is a God or not, there is a God, because such reasoning can only come from God.” If this is in fact your argument, I agree with OMGF that it is circular reasoning.

    Also, I think OMGF is at least partly right on another point – by what grounds are you allowed to say that logic / reason come from God? Atheists and rationalists aren’t obligated to accept such free lunches, and at least in what I’ve read here, you give no compelling reason why logic or reason must come from God.

    Further confusing was that I asked you if you felt God was a falsifiable construct. You said no. Then, I learn your website is called “ProofThatGodExists.”

    How can proof exist for that which is unfalsifiable?

    Please clarify.

  • heliobates

    As a public service announcement, the Internet Infidels online Library has a decent selection of critiques against the so-called “Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God.” Here’s one directly on point. This article will also prove interesting in the current context. Finally, here’s another good one just for background.

    Caveat lector: both are chock full of meanings in common usage, and make extensive use of the kind of thinking “the rest of the world uses”. Yanno, people like this, and this. This makes these articles absolutely useless for understanding Absolute Truth (“True for all people at all times, universally true),” but I find it more useful than Disney.com.

  • MS Quixote

    Sye T, just a couple of quick comments:

    I’m a Christian as well, and following your argument with ease-you seem to possess a talent for written expression. I wish you the best with your labor in writing your book. Nearly all apologists address the realm of logic, thought, reason, and the relationships thereof, and their connection with theism and atheism. However, I have side against you on this one, and only offer this commentary in hopes that it will aid you in writing.

    It seems reasonable to me that logic can exist as a brute fact of the universe, an an abstract expression of the manner in which matter interacts with itself. The law of non-contradiction arises, setting aside the subatomic realm for a moment, as an inherent property of matter: a thing simply cannot be A and non A at the same time and in the same relationship. The law of causality arises form this first brute fact of matter. These laws seem self-evident.

    The remainder of the laws of logic, many of which are not readily apparent and perhaps therefore not self-evident and known a priori, derive from these two source laws. If matter existed eternally, it is fairly easy to envision these laws simply as descriptions as to how the universe behaves. As inhabitants of the universe, they would appear instinctive to us. And if the universe changes, it seems reasonable that the unchangable laws of logic might change as well. I’m no scientist, but I hear tell that things were different in the seconds after the big bang, and certainly within the dim underworld of the subatomic realm.

    I believe you inadvertantly hit on this in one of your posts above, in a brief mention of classic foundationalism, and I believe your comment has disatrous results for your assertions. Here’s the comment:

    In epistemology beliefs are justified either because they are supported by evidence or are foundational to knowledge (properly basic). Logic is foundational to reason and so is properly basic.

    If logic is properly basic, and since some of it is self-evident it is, then the atheist by your own reasoning is warranted in their knowledge of logic, regardless of whether God exists or not, since it’s properly basic.

    BTW-epistemologically speaking, a belief can be warranted under classic foundationalism if it is incorrigible as well, i.e. “I have a stomach ache”. Incidentally, I would argue that supported by evidence should be termed “readily evident to the senses”. IOW: readily evident to the senses, self-evident, incorrigible.

    The question becomes, which worldview can account for the laws of logic which we hold as ‘properly basic’ beliefs.

    So then you turn to what I consider a better line. The question is better put, though: which worldview is more likely to contain, which worldview would be more likely, etc. It’s opinion of course, but then it’s opinion based on the observable evidence, beginning a posteriori with our observation, then reasoning back to the source, rather than presupposing and attempting to justify the presupposition. As OMGF points out, this seems to break one of the very laws of logic you are arguing with.

    This is not to say that I disagree with everything your are arguing, but I think you should take a hard look at presuppositions. By definition, they have the ability to cause us trouble in our reasoning. I wish you the best.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Brad said:

    First: why does God have to act according to his own character? Because that is only logical.

    No, God does have to act according to His nature because it is logical, God acts according to His nature because that is a characteristic of God. Water is not wet because it is logical for it to be wet, water is wet, because that is a characteristic of water.

    Second: how are the laws of logic “aspects” of God’s “character”? Last time I checked, the laws of logic were not a personal trait, no more than colors and the laws of physics.

    They are not personal traits of non-universal, changing, material humans, but they are a characteristics of a universal, non-material, invariant God.

    To say that these laws are aspects of “God”‘s character seems like bizarre semantics whose only purpose is to salvage belief in God.

    I’m looking forward to comparing that to what you believe.

    Because that is the intrinsic nature of evidence and reason.

    How do you know? Surely you are not givng me the argument that you reasoned that that is the intrinsic nature of reason are you?

    The ability to reason, yes. How is this position begging the question? That fallacy is based upon an argument where the conclusion is in the premises. The source of my ability to reason has no effect on the ability itself, and so the reliability of such an ability has no dependence upon its origin.

    Again, how do you know? The question begging is in the assumption that your ability of reason is valid in providing you with the source or valdity of your reasoning. Look at the alternative. If you assume that your ability to reason is invalid, why trust anything it provides you? How do you know that you are reasoning correctly about the source of your reasoning?

    I believe that logic is uncaused, because the alternative does not make any sense. Logic must hold; it is necessary and not contingent upon anything.

    That’s a pretty good definition of God actually. The question is, how do immaterial, unchanging, universal entities make sense in any atheistic worldview?

    When something does not make sense, it is nonsense. That standard is by definition.

    I’m not looking for the definition of nonsense, but the standard of sense, and nonsense. One cannot know if anything is nonsensical, if they do not know what ‘sense’ is. What is your absolute standard of ‘sense’ and how do you account for it?

    I asked:

    1. How can an atheist know anything to be universally true, without access to universal knowledge (God)?2. On what basis does the atheist proceed with the assumption that logical laws WILL not change?3. How does the atheist account for immaterial entities according to their worldview?

    You answered:

    1. By reason and evidence.

    Again, how do you know that your reasoning is valid, and what is the evidence that has given you universal knowledge?

    2. Because it cannot; that is illogical.

    Hmmm, logical laws will not change because they cannot change? You aren’t serious are you? How do you know that logical laws cannot change?

    3. What immaterial entities? The contents of consciousness? Spirits and demons?

    The laws of logic, for instance.

    How could “God’s revelation” be valid? Could it not be a Cartesian demon? Or my own god-like powers? Seems you’re stuck in your own circularity too, but with one more assumed entity.

    This begs the question that God could not reveal some things to us such that we can be certain of them. Surely you would not deny that God could reveal some things to us in such a way that we can be certain of them?

    As for why I know I am conscious, it is because I am conscious of the fact I am conscious.

    I’ll let that one stand on its own :-)

    I think, therefore I exist. Whether or not the sense perceptions fed to my consciousness correspond to a reality as I imagine it does not change that fact.

    It was an atheistic philosopher who pointed out the fallacy of that position. Bertrand Russell positted that it was fallacious to derive existence from thought. All one could hope to postulate is that somewhere in the universe there was thinking goin on, not existence.

    Now let me straighten another thing up. Circular reasoning is where the conclusion sits within the premises. Just because reason is sovereign in its own right, without a source, does not mean that all logical arguments have their conclusions in their premises.

    “Just because reason is sovereign in its own right” is question begging.

    You’re trying to tell us that without God, there is inevitable solipsism and no “foundation for rationality.”

    Which you have been kind enough to help demonstrate.

    The issue is that there is still solipsism (why trust God?)

    Simple, we are commanded to.

    and your “foundation” makes no sense, and to boot is unnecessary because rationality needs no foundation.

    We’ve already been over the circularity of that statement.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    Let’s back up even further. Why is it allowed in your worldview?

    It’s not. Now, why is it not allowed in yours?

    Again, I dispute this

    On what basis do you trust the validity of your senses?

    No, actually it is not. It’s induction, just as you said. Induction is not the same as begging the question.

    No, but assuming the validity of induction is. On what basis do you believe that the future will be like the past?

    We get our ideas of rationality and logic from observing the universe around us – empiricism.

    1. That begs the question, by assuming the validity of your senses and reasoning, and 2. That would make logic contingent to those observations, which clearly it is not.

    The problem for you is that what we can account for in science, we have no need to invoke god for.

    Except of course for science itself. Again, on what basis do you assume that the future will be like the past?

    If you are claiming that we can’t account for anything, which it appears you are, then you have to show why we can’t account for anything.

    You’re doing fine on your own.

    We could be in the Matrix and live in a world where absolute certainty is possible, so yeah, it’s a possibility. But, it’s not rational to believe that.

    But you aren’t certain about that right?

    Given what it is rational to believe, we can’t know with certainty anything.

    I can’t believe you did that again – um, are you certain we can’t know anything with certainty?

    If you are asserting that you can know things to 100% certainty, then you are claiming to have god-like powers.

    Nope, just revelation.

    The only book that seems to talk about the Xian god is the Bible and in it miraculous things do happen, and judging by it we can’t be sure they won’t happen again. In fact, many people believe that miracles occur all the time.

    Well, since you are arguing with me, why don’t you stick with what I believe :-) Your description of miracles occurring “all the time” is inaccurate. Even if I accepted your position that miracles were a violation of natural law, which I do not, they occurred rarely enough that people could quite comfortably proceed with the expectation that the future would probably be like the past. You have no basis for such an expectation.

    Once again, this has nothing to do with the argument I brought up. Even if I can’t defend the uniformity of nature, that doesn’t mean that your statement that you can is correct.

    If you can’t defend the uniformity of nature, then you have no basis from which to evaluate anything let alone my statement.

    Interesting. The problem I see here, however is something I’ve already brought up, which is that it is contradictory that logic comes from the god that you posit, yet logic also disproves the god that you posit.

    Huh? I must have missed the disproof. You’ll have to repost it.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sye T / anyone,

    Why I’m attracted to this conversation is as baffling as the conversation itself.

    1. How can an atheist know anything to be universally true, without access to universal knowledge (God)?

    Ummm… observation? Are you really saying we need to invoke God to know something is universally true? We all know the towers fell on 9/11. Something is universal knowledge because it is universally known; not because it is God.

    2. On what basis does the atheist proceed with the assumption that logical laws WILL not change?

    Because so far for X years they haven’t? In science this is called methodological naturalism and it is an idea that’s helped propel man to the moon. Again, basic observation sustains the belief that natural and logical laws will not change.

    3. How does the atheist account for immaterial entities according to their worldview?

    This, at least more than the others, seems a valid question. I don’t know, I’m not an atheist; but if I was I would just simply call them products of our imagination.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    CL said:

    I’m having a hard time following you as well, and I’m no atheist. What is your empirical basis for saying that reason requires logic?

    It is self-evident. If you disagree, perhaps you could give an example of reasoning sans logic :-)

    Is logic a tangible thing?

    The laws of logic are universal, abstract, invariant entities.

    To me, reason requires intelligence and the ability to perform inductive reasoning,

    Reasoning requires logic, knowledge, and truth, none of which can be accounted for outside of God (and are accounted for with God).

    and I see no empirical evidence which suggests this can only come from God.

    Posit your alternative.

    Under all the big words, your argument seems reducible to, “Since I can reason about the issue of whether there is a God or not, there is a God, because such reasoning can only come from God.” If this is in fact your argument, I agree with OMGF that it is circular reasoning.

    The argument is more clearly stated like this: God is the necessary precondition to reasoning, reasoning exists, therefore God exists. As I stated earlier, all ultimate authority claims are necessarily circular at their base. For example the atheist takes the hopelessly circular position that they reason that their reasoning is valid. The difference is that the Christian worldview accounts for reasoning, while the atheist is reduced to blind faith.

    Also, I think OMGF is at least partly right on another point – by what grounds are you allowed to say that logic / reason come from God?

    1. By the impossibility of the contrary. 2. By God’s own revelation.

    Atheists and rationalists aren’t obligated to accept such free lunches, and at least in what I’ve read here, you give no compelling reason why logic or reason must come from God.

    See above. (and please note, that an argument need not be compelling in order to be valid. Compulsion is subject to one’s presuppositions.)

    Further confusing was that I asked you if you felt God was a falsifiable construct. You said no. Then, I learn your website is called “ProofThatGodExists.” How can proof exist for that which is unfalsifiable?

    Proof as in a logical argument with true premises to arrive at a conclusion. The fact that it is unfalsifiable, does not make it invalid or unmeaningful.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Hello MS Quixote, thanks for your kind words. I will attempt to address your comments.

    You said:

    It seems reasonable to me that logic can exist as a brute fact of the universe, an an abstract expression of the manner in which matter interacts with itself. The law of non-contradiction arises, setting aside the subatomic realm for a moment, as an inherent property of matter: a thing simply cannot be A and non A at the same time and in the same relationship.

    Why not? And, how can one know that this is a universal characteristic of matter absent universal knowledge, or revelation from one who has same.

    The law of causality arises form this first brute fact of matter. These laws seem self-evident.

    Problem is, there are no brute facts. All ‘facts’ are subject to interpretation absent certain revlelation. Also, from my narrow understanding of causation, extrapolating the law of identity to causality, does not allow for any change in the universe, which we know is not the case.

    The remainder of the laws of logic, many of which are not readily apparent and perhaps therefore not self-evident and known a priori, derive from these two source laws. If matter existed eternally, it is fairly easy to envision these laws simply as descriptions as to how the universe behaves.

    Again, is I noted in another post, if that were the case, the laws of logic would be contingent to our limited observations, and expereinces, and would lose their universality. On what basis would one proceed with the expectation that laws experienced to be true in one realm, would be true in an as yet unexperienced realm? Besides, why would there necessarily be laws of logic at all, why is it not just ‘sound and fury signifying nothing?’

    As inhabitants of the universe, they would appear instinctive to us. And if the universe changes, it seems reasonable that the unchangable laws of logic might change as well.

    Just out of curiosity, by what standard would we determine if logic changed, if not an unchanging standard of logic?

    If logic is properly basic, and since some of it is self-evident it is, then the atheist by your own reasoning is warranted in their knowledge of logic, regardless of whether God exists or not, since it’s properly basic.

    The difference being, that the Christian worldview can (and does) account for that properly basic belief, while atheism does not. Universal, abstract, invariant entities, simply do not mesh with atheism.

    BTW-epistemologically speaking, a belief can be warranted under classic foundationalism if it is incorrigible as well

    What is the foundation?

    So then you turn to what I consider a better line. The question is better put, though: which worldview is more likely to contain, which worldview would be more likely, etc.

    That would allow for autonomous reasoning, which does not comport with the Christian position.

    This is not to say that I disagree with everything your are arguing, but I think you should take a hard look at presuppositions. By definition, they have the ability to cause us trouble in our reasoning.

    They are the foundations of our reasoning.

    I wish you the best.

    Thanks, and I woud appreciate your prayers as well. I couldn’t undertand half of what you said, but I’m doing my best :-)

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    CL said:

    Why I’m attracted to this conversation is as baffling as the conversation itself.

    :-)

    I asked:

    1. How can an atheist know anything to be universally true, without access to universal knowledge (God)?

    You answered:

    Ummm… observation? Are you really saying we need to invoke God to know something is universally true?

    Yes.

    We all know the towers fell on 9/11. Something is universal knowledge because it is universally known; not because it is God.

    Alright, how do you know that the towers fell on 9/11? If you invoke your senses, and reasoning, I’m going to ask how you know that they are valid. Without God in the equation, you end up with an inifinite regress of “And how do you know THAT?”

    I aksed:

    2. On what basis does the atheist proceed with the assumption that logical laws WILL not change?

    You answered:

    Because so far for X years they haven’t? In science this is called methodological naturalism and it is an idea that’s helped propel man to the moon. Again, basic observation sustains the belief that natural and logical laws will not change.

    No, if I grant you the validity of your senses and reasoning about the past (which I do not, without God), all you could hope to tell me is what has happened in the past, not what WILL happen in the future. Assuming that the future WILL BE like the past, because the future HAS BEEN like the past, in the past, is question begging. I’m not asking about the past, I want to know how the atheist knows about the future?

    I asked:

    3. How does the atheist account for immaterial entities according to their worldview?

    You answered:

    This, at least more than the others, seems a valid question. I don’t know, I’m not an atheist; but if I was I would just simply call them products of our imagination.

    Problem is, what is an ‘imagination’ in a world of only matter?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Well heck I’ll give it another go…

    Sye T, these are the two areas where I think you’re off point:

    1. Reasoning requires logic, knowledge, and truth, none of which can be accounted for outside of God (and are accounted for with God).
    2. God is the necessary precondition to reasoning, reasoning exists, therefore God exists.

    First, #1 – I agree that reasoning requires logic, knowledge, and truth, and I can account for all of these outside of God. Something is true if and only if it corresponds to actuality. Truth is accounted for and self-evident whenever there are two opposing claims. You seem to be saying that without God, there can be no truth, but this is clearly wrong. If there is no God, for example, it is still true that the towers fell on 9/11. Logic is accounted for whenever there is more than one option to choose from. You seem to be saying that if there is no God, humans have no basis to engage in logic, which is really a series of steps designed to bring about the most favorable or truest conclusion. Even natural selection can explain why humans partake in logic. Whenever they are confronted by a risk or challenge, humans have a definite basis to engage in logic. Knowledge is accounted for by memory. Whenever somebody survives an experience they make a memory of it and this is knowledge. Whether God exists or not, humans would still record history and partake in science.

    As for #2, asking me to posit an alternative DOES NOT give you grounds to use a free lunch in a circular argument. You have not demonstrated why God is a necessary precondition to reasoning, but perhaps that’s why you refer to this style of apologetics as presuppositional.

    In any atheist’s brain, and even in mine, all you need for reasoning is a human brain with an impetus and a motivation to reason.

  • MS Quixote

    Why not? And, how can one know that this is a universal characteristic of matter absent universal knowledge

    Why not? If you deny non-contradiction, then everything you are arguing is nonsense, because you are utilizing it in every step of your argumentation. I am not claiming it is a characteristic of matter, I am claiming it describes how matter interacts. It is universal by virtue that reason is impossible without it. Thus, for everything reasonable, which as far as we are concerned represents the equivalence of universality, it holds.

    Problem is, there are no brute facts.

    Be careful with this. If God exists, he is a brute fact. Likewise, if God does not exist, the universe, or the universe generator, or the space time continuum, or something is a brute fact. If it is the latter, logic simply describes how this brute fact interacts, under the present conditions, naturally.

    the laws of logic would be contingent to our limited observations, and expereinces, and would lose their universality

    This is actually predicted within some physics models, and tends to bear out, theoretically at least.

    Just out of curiosity, by what standard would we determine if logic changed, if not an unchanging standard of logic?

    Most likely, we wouldn’t be here to observe this potentiality; a universe that has the potential to support our life form, seems to require the laws of logic we are arguing about. Again, I’m no physicist.

    The difference being, that the Christian worldview can (and does) account for that properly basic belief, while atheism does not. Universal, abstract, invariant entities, simply do not mesh with atheism.

    I’m satisfied that the number seven is compatible with atheism, but that’s another argument. Properly basic beliefs are an epistemic concern, which is different than arguing what is true. The problem with your post that I commented on originally–and it’s a huge problem–is that you stated that self-evident logic is properly basic (and it is, BTW). That means everyone is rational in holding the belief: theists, atheists, and any other kind of ist’s you can think of.

    What is the foundation?

    Think of it as tautological. If you are convinced you have a headache, then you are convinced you have a headache. Again, this regards warrant, not truth.

    That would allow for autonomous reasoning, which does not comport with the Christian position.

    Didn’t you mean your Christian position :)

    They are the foundations of our reasoning.

    Perhaps. Obviously I agree with that statement, but I don’t think you can assume it to prove it. I’d be willing to discuss this in greater detail, but as a courtesy to Ebonmuse, maybe we should move it over to your blog.

  • Brad

    To Sye:

    Can God be not God? What stops him from being illogical? I understand, it is supposedly his nature to be logical, but why can’t he oppose his own nature? It is because of the law of the excluded middle, which means logic is a higher authority than God.

    I still do not understand how laws can be personality traits. For the sake of the argument, though, I will concede that if we are talking about a being whose “ways are higher than [our] ways,” then we can theoretically make up any semantic construction up so long as there is no direct contradiction. The color blue can be happy when the weather is invalid outside my jacket mother, I suppose. On the other hand, if the weather is, say, valid outside my jacket mother, or invalid inside my jacket mother, then maybe the color blue can be malleable. Maybe it’s conductive if it’s invalid outside my jacket mother. Difficult to tell.

    However, I am happily attached to the idea that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is simply 42.

    You say God accounts for logic, and when I ask why, you ping this back:

    Surely you would not deny that God could reveal some things to us in such a way that we can be certain of them?

    Surely I can doubt that, can’t I? God could make evidence available to us by, say, directly communicating with us, but I don’t see how God could magically instigate certainty in belief within a person’s mind. (The feeling of certainty, perhaps, could be induced upon a person.) Perhaps it’s possible, but I doubt it.

    “I think therefore I exist.” Obviously “I” refers to whatever is doing the thinking, not necessarily what is conscious of the thinking, so Russell’s objection is null. However, I will admittedly flip-flop here and say that I am not so sure there is only one “I.” For example, if my corpus callosum were severed, then according to modern neuroscience there would be two separate consciousnesses. Another thing: I view consciousness as the only form of revelation I know. It could be false revelation (there could be a Cartesian demon), but it is revelation nonetheless. Obviously I know something is conscious of something being conscious, but I do not know it is true self-awareness. Instead of pure certainty, however, I aim for epistemic pragmatism: I accept whatever models of reality that explain most and assume least. (Or try to, anyway.) As such, I assume there is an objective world causing these otherwise arbitrarily patterned perceptions I continuously receive.

    Let me answer a hypothetical question of my own: do I have faith in logic? The answer is no. Faith is belief without reason or evidence, and both rationalism and empiricism prove themselves every time in reality. Thus, I have R+E to believe in R+E. No, I do not have an outside epistemological source for believing in R+E, so if that is “circular” then so be it. I rather think of it as “foundational,” much like you do with God it seems.

    My account for my ability to reason: mathematically speaking, programs that run as learning algorithms are active pattern-recognizing patterns. When sentience emerges in the universe (within “wet-ware” and neural means; which is a little qualitatively different from learning algorithms but the principle of learning remains), by the conditions of it, these minds use their limited ability to make internal representations and simulations of the world. Of course, these minds are filled with cognitive problems throughout (as predicated by the conditions and restraints for emerging in the universe), but they inevitably develop a baseline level of rationality. From there, it’s only a matter of direction that rational and social animals will improve their own learning environments and increase the reliability of their thinking. Here I am today, as such an animal. I can see the patterns in this world, and by self-awareness the patterns in my own thinking, and see the connections between the two. Thus I gather the conclusion that my brain and its resultant thinking (my thinking) is the product of the universe. This is my best explanation.

    Problem is, what is an ‘imagination’ in a world of only matter?

    “Brain” is the noun; “mind” is the verb. Mind is intangible but is the work (i.e. result) of matter’s animation.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    CL said:

    First, #1 – I agree that reasoning requires logic, knowledge, and truth, and I can account for all of these outside of God. Something is true if and only if it corresponds to actuality.

    And how does one know that their senses and reasoning are valid?

    Truth is accounted for and self-evident whenever there are two opposing claims.

    If the truth were self-evident, why would there be opposing claims? It obviously would not be self-evident to the person who had the opposite claim to the truth (unless, of course, they were suppressing the truth).

    You seem to be saying that without God, there can be no truth, but this is clearly wrong. If there is no God, for example, it is still true that the towers fell on 9/11.

    Well, I disagree with that on many levels, but for the purpose of this argument, let me say, that one could not know anything to be true apart from God. If you disagree, please tell me one thing that you know apart from God. Keep in mind that at least one person on this very thread has admitted that they cannot be certain of anything (ignoring the self-refuting nature of that claim of course).

    Logic is accounted for whenever there is more than one option to choose from.

    Huh? The laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant, how are those elements accounted for with ‘choice?’

    You seem to be saying that if there is no God, humans have no basis to engage in logic, which is really a series of steps designed to bring about the most favorable or truest conclusion.

    First, what logic is, does not account for its existence. Second, how do you determine what the most favourable or truest conclusion is without begging the question?

    Even natural selection can explain why humans partake in logic. Whenever they are confronted by a risk or challenge, humans have a definite basis to engage in logic.

    Again, that humans use logic, does not account for logic. Other than the many problems with natural selection, one does not get ‘truth’ from the process. The best one could hope to get is “that which has helped us to survive,” but not truth. For example, let’s say a beach dwelling community decided to move into the mountains because they feared the great “Sand Ogre.” Some in the community thought they were nuts and stayed on the beach. A tsunami came and wiped out the doubters. Those that survived on the mountain, did not survive because of their use of logic, but because of an irrational fear. What you end up getting is not ‘survival of the fittest,’ but ‘survival of the survivors.’

    Knowledge is accounted for by memory. Whenever somebody survives an experience they make a memory of it and this is knowledge.

    Sorry, but that is not at all knowledge. Knowledge is ‘justified true belief,’ how do you get truth from memory? Surely you are not suggesting that everyone’s memories are true? Without revelation to the contrary, how does one know that the memories were not just implanted, and are in fact false?

    Whether God exists or not, humans would still record history and partake in science.

    Without God, there is no foundation for logic knowledge, or truth, let alone the inductive principle (the backbone of science). I hope that you are beginning to see that.

    As for #2, asking me to posit an alternative DOES NOT give you grounds to use a free lunch in a circular argument.

    It helps that you have none :-)

    You have not demonstrated why God is a necessary precondition to reasoning, but perhaps that’s why you refer to this style of apologetics as presuppositional.

    It is true by the impossibility of the contrary. No other worldview can account for reasoning, whereas the Christian worldview does.

    In any atheist’s brain, and even in mine, all you need for reasoning is a human brain with an impetus and a motivation to reason.

    What differentiates ‘good reasoning’ from ‘bad reasoning’ if all that is required for reasoning is the human brain?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    I’ll try to get to more later :-)

  • Brad

    And how does one know that their senses and reasoning are valid?

    There is no perfect certainty in the belief that our senses correspond to the world as we imagine it. In fact, our senses are obviously imperfect. The objective world is the explanation that assumes the least and explains the most, so I go with it with no worries. If it really is a Cartesian demon’s doing, then I have tried my epistemological best, and the demon just plain had more power over my situation than I had power to see through. There would still be no fault with me, only weakness.

    Reason, on the other hand, is “valid” by the very definition of the word. To be skeptical of reason itself is just a meaningless ploy to make it look like you have proof of God, when really you are just saying you have knowledge handed to you directly from God, and that we atheists do too deep down. You claim to know the latter prejudice because God instills you with the perfectly certain knowledge of it. Really, you only end up shooting yourself in the foot here. You claim to know something about us we know is obviously false, which gives us complete license to doubt your arrogant, stubborn, and desperate claim to divine revelation.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sye T,

    OMGF said:

    Let’s back up even further. Why is [logical fallacy] allowed in your worldview?

    It’s not.

    [clarification mine]
    What you’ve just admitted to me is that your assertions are self-defeating. You’re claiming that logical fallacy is not allowed in your worldview, yet you need logical fallacy in order to make the assertions that your worldview makes. This is a logical contradiction.

    Now, why is it not allowed in yours?

    Because we’ve observed through countless experiments that it doesn’t comport with how the world works. We may be wrong now or in the future, but so far what we’ve examined has worked.

    On what basis do you trust the validity of your senses?

    I don’t always trust my senses. Again, if I trusted my senses, I would think the sun travels around the Earth. In a general sense, however, we can trust our senses due to verification and the fact that things are repeatable.

    No, but assuming the validity of induction is. On what basis do you believe that the future will be like the past?

    Because it is rational to do so based on past record. We could be wrong, but we have good reason to suspect that we are not, pending further data.

    1. That begs the question, by assuming the validity of your senses and reasoning, and 2. That would make logic contingent to those observations, which clearly it is not.

    Logic is not an entity unto itself, it’s a way that we have of describing the world. That the world appears to be quite regular allows us to make these descriptions that appear to work for all cases. There is nothing that requires a god in order for this to be so.

    Except of course for science itself.

    Science does not need to invoke god. The process of science is one in which assumptions are to be eliminated when possible, and the assumption of god is one that we’ve not needed.

    You’re doing fine on your own.

    Actually, no, you still need to provide a positive argument for why only god can account for the universe, logic, etc.

    But you aren’t certain about that right?

    I can’t believe you did that again – um, are you certain we can’t know anything with certainty?

    Perhaps you should take a look at the full sentence that you quoted, in which I said, “Given what it is rational to believe, we can’t know with certainty anything.” Note the bolded part.

    I can’t be 100% certain of anything. It could be that there’s a god who created the world yesterday and gave us all of our memories intact and I’m only remembering all the things that happened before then. We could be in the Matrix, I don’t know for sure. It is not rational to believe these things, however, when the evidence we have is that these things are simply not so. I can rationally say that we can’t be sure of anything.

    You seem to think that certainty is necessary for anything and that only with god can come certainty. Yet, you still have the difficulty that I do. You can’t know that a trickster god isn’t messing with you. You can’t know that your god exists. You can’t know that your god isn’t lying to you in the Bible and in your personal revelation, or that an imposter isn’t lying to you. You can’t know that you aren’t in the Matrix. Etc.

    Nope, just revelation.

    Revelation filtered through your human mind/interpretation. In order for you not to be wrong, you’d have to claim infallibility, which is a god-like power.

    Well, since you are arguing with me, why don’t you stick with what I believe :-) Your description of miracles occurring “all the time” is inaccurate.

    1. I never said that you say miracles occur all the time.
    2. It’s quite appropriate to bring that up, since you are positing a god that does perform miracles, are you not?
    3. Any god that has the ability to perform miracles leaves you in a position to not be able to trust that one won’t occur.

    Even if I accepted your position that miracles were a violation of natural law, which I do not, they occurred rarely enough that people could quite comfortably proceed with the expectation that the future would probably be like the past. You have no basis for such an expectation.

    This is just non-sensical. By limiting the number of miracles, you claim that you can be more and more secure in the knowledge that the future will follow the patterns of the past. By eliminating god altogether, you would reduce the number of miracles to zero, which would make one even more certain that the future will follow the past patterns, not less.

    If you can’t defend the uniformity of nature, then you have no basis from which to evaluate anything let alone my statement.

    Once again I will point out to you that whether my “worldview” works or not, you do not support your worldview by claiming that mine is false. You have to actually support your worldview, not denigrate mine.

    Huh? I must have missed the disproof. You’ll have to repost it.

    It was earlier in the post that you were answering. Once again, your worldview is contradictory if you claim that logic comes from god, but that you must use illogical means to arrive at that point.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    MS Quixote said:

    Why not? If you deny non-contradiction, then everything you are arguing is nonsense, because you are utilizing it in every step of your argumentation.

    I’m not denying it, I’m only asking you why it necessarily holds.

    I am not claiming it is a characteristic of matter, I am claiming it describes how matter interacts.

    You said that it was an ‘inherent property’ of matter, I’m just wondering how one would know this based on an extremely limited knowledge of matter.

    It is universal by virtue that reason is impossible without it. Thus, for everything reasonable, which as far as we are concerned represents the equivalence of universality, it holds.

    Why must reason be possible in an atheistic universe?

    Be careful with this. If God exists, he is a brute fact. Likewise, if God does not exist, the universe, or the universe generator, or the space time continuum, or something is a brute fact. If it is the latter, logic simply describes how this brute fact interacts, under the present conditions, naturally.

    I worded that poorly. Outside of God one cannot know anything to be a brute fact.

    This is actually predicted within some physics models, and tends to bear out, theoretically at least.

    Not sure if you are agreeing with me here or not :-) Are you suggesting that the laws of logic are contingent, or universal?

    I’m satisfied that the number seven is compatible with atheism, but that’s another argument.

    Actually, that’s this argument. How is the universal, abstract, invariant concept of ‘seven’ compatible with atheism?

    Properly basic beliefs are an epistemic concern, which is different than arguing what is true. The problem with your post that I commented on originally–and it’s a huge problem–is that you stated that self-evident logic is properly basic (and it is, BTW). That means everyone is rational in holding the belief: theists, atheists, and any other kind of ist’s you can think of.

    The difference being, such a properly basic belief comports with Christianity, but not with atheism. Universals with limited knowledge, abstract entities in a material world, and invariance in a universe that is constantly changing – how do universal, abstract, invariant entities comport with that?

    Think of it as tautological. If you are convinced you have a headache, then you are convinced you have a headache. Again, this regards warrant, not truth.

    Well, for the purposes of this discussion, I am only concerned with knowledge and truth.

    I said:

    That would allow for autonomous reasoning, which does not comport with the Christian position.

    You answered:

    Didn’t you mean your Christian position :)

    Nope :-)

    Perhaps. Obviously I agree with that statement, but I don’t think you can assume it to prove it. I’d be willing to discuss this in greater detail, but as a courtesy to Ebonmuse, maybe we should move it over to your blog.

    Well, if you’d like to argue that reasoning can be done absent presuppositions, you may, but I don’t have a blog :-)

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Brad said:

    Can God be not God? What stops him from being illogical? I understand, it is supposedly his nature to be logical, but why can’t he oppose his own nature? It is because of the law of the excluded middle, which means logic is a higher authority than God.

    No, God does have to act according to His nature because it is logical, God acts according to His nature because that is a characteristic of God. Water is not wet because it is logical for it to be wet, water is wet, because that is a characteristic of water. (Where have I heard this before?)

    I still do not understand how laws can be personality traits.

    Perhaps you could give us your account for the laws of logic then.

    However, I am happily attached to the idea that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is simply 42.

    That would comport with the position that nothing can be made sense of apart from God.

    Surely I can doubt that, can’t I?

    I didn’t ask if you could doubt it, I asked if it was possible.

    “I think therefore I exist.” Obviously “I” refers to whatever is doing the thinking, not necessarily what is conscious of the thinking, so Russell’s objection is null.

    Nope, the “I” is a fallacious postulation.

    Let me answer a hypothetical question of my own: do I have faith in logic? The answer is no. Faith is belief without reason or evidence, and both rationalism and empiricism prove themselves every time in reality.

    That is certainly not an accurate definition of faith from the Christian standpoint. Faith is not absent of reason, it is the foundation of reason.

    Thus, I have R+E to believe in R+E. No, I do not have an outside epistemological source for believing in R+E, so if that is “circular” then so be it.

    I rather think of it as “foundational,” much like you do with God it seems.

    And that would put your trust in the validity of your reasoning in the camp of, wait for it…drumrolll FAITH.

    Here I am today, as such an animal. I can see the patterns in this world, and by self-awareness the patterns in my own thinking, and see the connections between the two.

    And how is it that you know if your perceptions or the reasoning with which you interpret them are valid again? Oh wait, you don’t.

    Thus I gather the conclusion that my brain and its resultant thinking (my thinking) is the product of the universe. This is my best explanation.

    But you could be wrong right? So what do you really know?

    “Brain” is the noun; “mind” is the verb. Mind is intangible but is the work (i.e. result) of matter’s animation.

    So are you saying that the mind is ‘non-material?’ How does that make sense in a world of only matter?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Brad said:

    There is no perfect certainty in the belief that our senses correspond to the world as we imagine it.

    Um, are you certain?

    In fact, our senses are obviously imperfect.

    Um, are you certain?

    The objective world is the explanation that assumes the least and explains the most, so I go with it with no worries.

    Um, are you certain? (Okay, I think you get the point – I just ask, that if you cannot know anything for certain, please be consistent and cease with the knowledge claims).

    Reason, on the other hand, is “valid” by the very definition of the word.

    Eeek, so everyone’s reasoning is valid then?

    To be skeptical of reason itself is just a meaningless ploy to make it look like you have proof of God,

    I am not at all skeptical of reason, I can account for it however, whereas you cannot.

    You claim to know something about us we know is obviously false,

    Um, remember, of the two of us, only I have postulated an avenue to certainty, you can’t know squat remember?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    What you’ve just admitted to me is that your assertions are self-defeating. You’re claiming that logical fallacy is not allowed in your worldview, yet you need logical fallacy in order to make the assertions that your worldview makes.

    Prove that my assertions are fallacious please.

    I asked why logical contradictions were not allowed in your worldview. You answered:

    Because we’ve observed through countless experiments that it doesn’t comport with how the world works. We may be wrong now or in the future, but so far what we’ve examined has worked.

    Couple of problems there. What do past observations have to do with the future, and how do you know how the world is supposed to work?

    I asked: “On what basis do you trust the validity of your senses?” You answered:

    I don’t always trust my senses. Again, if I trusted my senses, I would think the sun travels around the Earth. In a general sense, however, we can trust our senses due to verification and the fact that things are repeatable.

    So, when you trust your senses, you sense that they are trustworthy. I see. Unless of course you gather this information, and do this verification without your senses, but you’d have to explain how that works. (Not holding my breath) :-)
    I asked: On what basis do you believe that the future will be like the past?

    You answered:

    Because it is rational to do so based on past record.

    So where do the molecules and atoms access these past records, and how do they know to follow them, or do they get the information and instruction from you?

    Logic is not an entity unto itself, it’s a way that we have of describing the world. That the world appears to be quite regular allows us to make these descriptions that appear to work for all cases. There is nothing that requires a god in order for this to be so.

    On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that logic WILL hold for as yet unobserved phenomenon?

    Science does not need to invoke god. The process of science is one in which assumptions are to be eliminated when possible, and the assumption of god is one that we’ve not needed.

    Then how do you account for the unifromity of nature? On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that the future will be like the past. Surely you can see that saying “The future WILL BE like the past, because the future HAS BEEN like the past, in the past,” is question begging?

    Actually, no, you still need to provide a positive argument for why only god can account for the universe, logic, etc.

    God, as He has revealed to us, is universal, not made of matter, and invariant. Those characteristics of logic make sense in the Christian worldview. God, as He has revealed to us, controls the world in such a way that we can proceed with the assumption that the future will most likely be like the past. The scientific method makes sense in the Christian worldview. You have no foundation for logic, or science.

    Perhaps you should take a look at the full sentence that you quoted, in which I said, “Given what it is rational to believe, we can’t know with certainty anything.” Note the bolded part.

    I can’t believe you keep doing that! Are you certain that “Given what is rational to believe, you can’t know anything with certainty?”

    I can’t be 100% certain of anything.

    Then please, be consistent, and cease with the knowledge claims.

    You seem to think that certainty is necessary for anything and that only with god can come certainty.

    It is necessary for knowledge, and yes, certainty can only come with God.

    Yet, you still have the difficulty that I do. You can’t know that a trickster god isn’t messing with you.

    Um, are you certain that I have the difficulty you do? No you are not. Besides, surely you would admit that God could reveal some things to us such that we can be certain of them?

    You can’t know that your god exists.

    Um, are you certain about what I can or cannot know??? No, you are not, yet you keep refuting yourself. Perhaps I should be thankful.

    You can’t know that your god isn’t lying to you in the Bible and in your personal revelation, or that an imposter isn’t lying to you. You can’t know that you aren’t in the Matrix. Etc.

    How do you know what I can or cannot know, if you can’t be certain about anything???

    Revelation filtered through your human mind/interpretation. In order for you not to be wrong, you’d have to claim infallibility, which is a god-like power.

    Nope, I claim that God reveals some things to us, such that we can know them for certain. Why is this not possible? Surely you can’t be certain that it is not.

    This is just non-sensical. By limiting the number of miracles, you claim that you can be more and more secure in the knowledge that the future will follow the patterns of the past.

    My assumption that the future will most likely be like the past has nothing to do with the number of miracles, but on God’s promises, His revelation, and His requirements of us.

    Once again I will point out to you that whether my “worldview” works or not, you do not support your worldview by claiming that mine is false.

    Um, are you certain? :-) I really don’t know why I keep entertaining your uncertain blatherings.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Sye T,

    Prove that my assertions are fallacious please.

    You claim that you have to assume god in order to conclude god. This is begging the question. You’ve already admitted that you are using logical fallacy. I don’t have to prove what you’ve already admitted to. Face it, your argument is self-defeating.

    Couple of problems there. What do past observations have to do with the future, and how do you know how the world is supposed to work?

    Again, we’ve noticed that things that are true at time X are usually true at time X+Y. It’s all based on observation of the natural world.

    So, when you trust your senses, you sense that they are trustworthy. I see.

    Nice strawman, but that’s not even close to what I said.

    Unless of course you gather this information, and do this verification without your senses, but you’d have to explain how that works.

    Which is where independent verification and instrumentation comes into play, as well as definitional agreement among parties. It’s really that simple. You can continue to simply deny that the world we live in is there, but you’re simply deluding yourself.

    So where do the molecules and atoms access these past records, and how do they know to follow them, or do they get the information and instruction from you?

    Are you intentionally trying to be bizarre? Your statement makes no sense. No one is claiming that molecules and atoms are entities that are ordered by themselves in the past to be the same in the future. It must be quite easy to argue against the strawmen that you erect, but it’s not very fruitful.

    On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that logic WILL hold for as yet unobserved phenomenon?

    The same way we do for observed phenomenon.

    Then how do you account for the unifromity of nature?

    what we’ve observed has lent itself to the ability to study it. We don’t know why it is that way, it just happens to be that way.

    On what basis do you proceed with the assumption that the future will be like the past.

    Continuing to ask questions I’ve already answered isn’t going to get us anywhere.

    Surely you can see that saying “The future WILL BE like the past, because the future HAS BEEN like the past, in the past,” is question begging?

    No, I don’t see that at all, because it’s simply not so. We are inferring that the future will continue to resemble the past to a reasonable degree of certainty based on the observation of past events. We aren’t concluding that it will based on the assumption that it will, which would be question begging. We are rationally concluding that it most probably will follow the same patterns we have observed.

    God, as He has revealed to us, is universal, not made of matter, and invariant.

    How do you know any of that? How do you know that god has revealed anything to us or that god exists?

    Those characteristics of logic make sense in the Christian worldview.

    How? Only by begging the question is this true, which you said is not allowed in your worldview.

    God, as He has revealed to us, controls the world in such a way that we can proceed with the assumption that the future will most likely be like the past.

    Again, this is not so, as the Bible illustrates. god held the sun stationary for a full day, which is a violation of the laws of physics that we have observed. If god can and did do that, then what’s to stop him from doing it tomorrow?

    The scientific method makes sense in the Christian worldview.

    How does the assumption that god exists impact the god-neutral scientific method in any way?

    You have no foundation for logic, or science.

    You keep saying that, but you refuse to recognize that these things come from the universe regardless of whether god is real or not. You also keep claiming that only through god can one have logic, reason, science, etc, but you continually refuse to back up that claim.

    I can’t believe you keep doing that! Are you certain that “Given what is rational to believe, you can’t know anything with certainty?”

    And I can’t believe that you continually refuse to read the first half of my sentence!

    Then please, be consistent, and cease with the knowledge claims.

    I suppose you think you are clever in making all or nothing commands of us, but frankly it’s not clever at all. We can make reasonable truth claims based on the evidence that we have with the caveat that we aren’t completely certain of things. When I make a claim, it’s with that caveat implicitly in mind. Do I really have to write it out every time or can you handle remembering the caveat?

    It is necessary for knowledge…

    That all depends. One can not know anything to 100% certainty. Once again, we can rationally believe that we know something with the caveat above employed. To claim otherwise is simply ludicrous.

    Um, are you certain that I have the difficulty you do? No you are not. Besides, surely you would admit that God could reveal some things to us such that we can be certain of them?

    I am reasonably certain enough, yes. And, it may be possible for god to reveal stuff to us that we can be certain of, but how would you ever know? How do you know that god has revealed anything to you? I notice that you don’t even bother answering the questions I’ve posed to you. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are right that certainty can be obtained. Arguing from your standpoint, it should be possible for you to answer these questions, so why don’t you?

    Um, are you certain about what I can or cannot know??? No, you are not, yet you keep refuting yourself. Perhaps I should be thankful.

    You’re dodging the questions. I can only surmise that it has to do with a lack of ability to answer them. Prove me wrong and answer them.

    My assumption that the future will most likely be like the past has nothing to do with the number of miracles, but on God’s promises, His revelation, and His requirements of us.

    Well, you’ve got some more thinking to do, because your stance is clearly illogical (and don’t try to counter that I can’t call anything illogical, because I clearly can if you are right about things. By claiming that I can’t call your stance illogical, you are arguing against your own view.) We know that god has caused miracles and god has NOT promised not to cause any more. Given that god has the ability to alter the universe at will, you have no assurance that the universe will proceed as it has in the past, especially because you can’t be sure that your revelations are true and correctly interpreted. You will claim now that I can’t know they aren’t, but that doesn’t answer the objection as to how you know they are, which you so far have tried hard to avoid answering. Logically speaking, your position is a non sequitor.

    Um, are you certain? :-) I really don’t know why I keep entertaining your uncertain blatherings.

    You can keep dodging my objections or you can actually answer them and show how your worldview makes sense and is superior. Until you do that, you look like nothing more than someone whose best/only comeback is a school-yard taunt. Remember, that if you are right, then logic does exist as does certainty and I’m well within my rights to use them against you regardless of whether I have an alternative in mind that works.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    I can’t be 100% certain of anything.

    And lots of other stuff that quite simply has me bored out of my gourd.

    Sorry, but for the purposes of this discussion I am not interested in what you believe, come back when you know something, so we can have a meaningful discussion.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Sye T,
    Another problem with you is that you seem to be married to the idea of the false dichotomy. Note that not being 100% certain of something doesn’t denote 0% certainty. That you can’t or won’t understand this does not speak well to your ability to reason to anything. And, your latest evasion simply underscores your inability to defend your own position.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sye T,

    Alright look – might not be my place to say, but I fail to see the love / salt / grace Peter asks believers to give answers with here:

    …come back when you know something

    IMO, OMGF knows quite a bit and has responded to your arguments quite well, and such language only builds bigger walls and makes the person using it appear arrogant at worst condescending at best. Like OMGF said, the discussion has been reduced to schoolyard taunting. OMGF doesn’t agree with you – so what? Such is the nature of debate and argumentation. Because of that, you feel you have ground to insult him or her (sorry OMGF, I don’t know if you’re a guy or gal)??

    I dunno… but how is any of this bringing glory to the one you preach?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    CL

    It was not an insult, it was a sincere request. Perhaps I should have said ‘please.’

    I would love to have a sincere debate involving knowledge claims, but OMGF has decided instead to share (his) beliefs. I simply do not have the time or desire to discuss arbitrary beliefs. Feel free to take over the discussion from me if this is your desire, perhaps I can learn something.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Perhaps you could start by asking (him) how certain (he) is that (he) can’t be certain of anything.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sye T,

    It was not an insult, it was a sincere request. Perhaps I should have said ‘please.’

    Insult, request… we’ll just have to take your word I suppose. Either way, snarkiness is hard to disguise (it’s even in the above snippet) and seldom productive. (I know this because my original blogging style was very snarky, and it isolated people.)

    I would love to have a sincere debate involving knowledge claims, but OMGF has decided instead to share (his) beliefs. I simply do not have the time or desire to discuss arbitrary beliefs. Feel free to take over the discussion from me if this is your desire, perhaps I can learn something.

    So, since OMGF doesn’t agree with you, or since you perceive that OMGF is using flawed logic, the debate is not sincere? Many others have sided with OMGF in this thread, including at least 2 believers now. To my knowledge, nobody is backing you up here. Are you implying, then, that we are all insincere? Wrong?

    No offense man, I’m just vomiting out my gut. You exude an air of, “I know what’s true about logic; these people don’t” and it just don’t jibe, man. Your style seems to be to not relent until you’ve coerced an agreement out of your opponent (I’ve used this tactic before too, to little avail), but it drives at least some people (like the ones here) away from your ideas. Is that what you want?

    As far as taking over the discussion, hells no! At least let me get myself into my own intellectual embroilments, will ya? I’ve already bantered with OMGF before and I need to rethink my entire strategy with the guy. I got pulled into a long hullabaloo as is going on here, and I notice that during long hullabaloos, both debaters get more likely to make mistakes, as things get heated, and pride and the desire to be right rear their ugly heads.

    Very simply – how can one have a sincere debate if they begin with their conclusion in their premises, as you have? I just don’t understand how you feel inclined to get away with that, and how you expect anybody, atheist or believer, to respect such logic.

    No free lunches, prove your point.

  • Nes

    First, I apologize in advance, but I may not be able to respond to any responses for a few days. I tend to lack time to even keep up to date on all the blogs I read, let alone keep a lively discussion going! In any case, I’m sure OMGF will respond before I do, and usually with the points I would have made anyway, and then some ;-)

    Ty:

    A few years to read the Bible? Man, what do they teach kids these days? I could polish off at least 3 Bible-sized books in a month (actually, with all the reading I do online, I probably already read more than that) as long as they aren’t dry and bor-

    Oh, I see. Carry on!
    (Just a little humour… good luck with your endeavor!)

    Sye T:

    Please allow me demonstrate to you what your argument looks like to me; in fact, I can do it with some simple word replacements. For the sake of argument, I’m a Pastafarian making these claims, and this is a Christian blog. A Pastafarian wrote an email to the blog owner, who then published it. In response to the comments that were made, the Pastafarian decided that he would try reading his holy book from a different perspective, to see how it holds up. This is my response:

    [Fellow Pastafarian,] your idea of reading [The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (henceforth, TGOTFSM)] from [a Christian's] perspective is a mistake. It is the [Pastafarian] position that the [Flying Spaghetti Monster (henceforth, FSM)] is the foundation for all reasoning. One does not ‘reason’ to [FSM], as that would make one’s reasoning independent of [FSM], or of a higher authority than [FSM]. Becoming a [Pastafarian] for the [Christian], is not a matter of reasoning, but a matter of submission to what they already know, and are suppressing.

    Instead of reading the [TGOTFSM] from the [Christian's] perspective, read it knowing that it is the inspired, infallible word of [FSM].

    Neutrality is a myth. Either [FSM] is the foundation of all reasoning or He is not. One cannot autonomously reason to [FSM] being the foundation of all reasoning. To read [TGOTFSM] from [a Christian] perspective, is to assume autonomous reasoning, and abandon the [Pastafarian] worldview at the outset.

    A Christian responds, and I answer:

    Oh, but I’ll stop now. You say, effectively, that no argument I could make would convince you. Perhaps even if you could see into my head to view my honest doubt [that the FSM exists] directly you’d just doubt your eyes and trust your [TGOTFSM] quote.

    That’s right.

    (What about Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, [atheists, Christians,] Muslims? Do they all know in their hearts that they’re actually wrong [about the FSM]?)

    Yes

    The same find and replace could be done on this comment, but I won’t reproduce it in order to save space.

    Would you grant me the claim that logic depends on the FSM? If not, then why should we grant you the claim that logic depends on the Christian god? If you still can’t see why we might find your arguments fallacious, or at the least unconvincing, well then, frankly, I don’t see why these guys should continue trying to argue with you. I feel that they have made their point well enough, and you’ve already conceded that nothing – nothing – could convince you that you’re wrong.

    (Yes, Pastafarian is obviously a made up religion, but that’s not the point, so don’t harp on that, m’kay?)

  • Brad

    Sye:

    Why is water wet? There is a very logical reason behind it. Why can’t water be wet and non-wet? Because that is illogical. So can God oppose his own nature? The answer you keep saying is that God can’t oppose his nature because it his nature to be logical, but this begging the question.

    You keep asking me to account for reason and logic, and I keep telling you that the only theory that makes any sense is that these things stand alone. If you posit a source to R+L, then you must ask can that source be itself and not itself? Either it can, in which R+L is illusory (a self-defeating position), or by reduction to absurdity there is no source to R+L. Furthermore, if you are in the business of trying to account for literally everything, then you still have to account for God. (Why does he exist? Why is it his nature to be logical, instead of his personality to be “Sound and fury and nothing?”) You’re still pushing the alleged issue further back with one more assumption made than me.

    Am I certain that there can be no certainty? You are correct in saying you trapped me there; I don’t really know for certain that there aren’t any perfect certainties, all I can say is that I don’t see any outside of my being directly conscious of thoughts and of sense perceptions. As for how I “know” that my senses are “obviously imperfect,” it is that this is my best explanation. That’s what I go by, as I told you. Optical illusions and studies of the mind show that my brain unconsciously creates false or distorted information about reality in absence of said info. Is the objective world the best explanation for my sense perceptions? Well, it happens to be the best one I’ve ever thought of or heard about, so I assume this explanation without worry.

    So are you saying that the mind is ‘non-material?’ How does that make sense in a world of only matter?

    Yes and it doesn’t.

    I am not at all skeptical of reason, I can account for it however, whereas you cannot.

    Yes you are being skeptical. You ask why trusting reason is valid, or why we should trust reason, and then go on to postulate God as the answer.

    You claim to know something about us we know is obviously false,

    Um, remember, of the two of us, only I have postulated an avenue to certainty, you can’t know squat remember?

    Unless someone hacked my memory, I know that there is no God directly revealing himself to my mind or ever has been. Do I know my mind has not been hacked? No, but I have no reason to believe so and reason to believe not. Hence what you are saying about me (my denying God’s spirit to myself) is clearly false to me, unless you are some demon who knows about my brain being hacked, in which case you clearly win the epistemological war out of pure power, and I lose out of weakness and misfortune. But this explanation holds no promise at all.

  • Nes

    Oops, I forgot to reread the post to make sure I was remembering it correctly; it was a comment that was posted, not an email, though it really doesn’t make any difference.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    CL said:

    Insult, request… we’ll just have to take your word I suppose. Either way, snarkiness is hard to disguise (it’s even in the above snippet) and seldom productive. (I know this because my original blogging style was very snarky, and it isolated people.)

    I realise that apologetics is to be done with gentleness and respect, and I appreciate your pointing out when it does not come across that way. My comments do tend to come with an edge, and it is something I am working on.

    So, since OMGF doesn’t agree with you, or since you perceive that OMGF is using flawed logic, the debate is not sincere?

    No, you have completely misinterpreted what I said. I did not say that OMGF was not being sincere, we were just engaging in a fruitless (albeit potentially sincere) discussion about (his) arbitrary beliefs, whereas I want a meaningful discussion on what (he) knows, or claims to know.

    Many others have sided with OMGF in this thread, including at least 2 believers now. To my knowledge, nobody is backing you up here. Are you implying, then, that we are all insincere? Wrong?

    Sincerity has exactly nothing to do with right and wrong. Of course I believe that anyone who engages in apologetics that does not begin with God as the foundation of all reasoning is doing it wrong. This happens to be the case with the majority of the apologetic community (myslef inclided not too long ago). The Bible clearly teaches that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”(Proverbs 1:7) and in Colossians 2 2:3 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
    To do apologetics with the assumption that God is not the foundation of all reasoning, is to fail before you begin.

    No offense man, I’m just vomiting out my gut. You exude an air of, “I know what’s true about logic; these people don’t”

    Actually it’s worse than that. The air should be that of “One cannot justify anything one claims to know without God as the foundation.” Usually what ends up happening though, is what happened here, rather than submit to the God who makes knowledge possible, the people take the self refuting position of denying knowledge. I mean just look at the statement “I can’t be %100 certain of anything, but neither can you.” Perhaps I should expose the lunacy of that statement in a kinder gentler way, but surely it needs to be exposed.

    Your style seems to be to not relent until you’ve coerced an agreement out of your opponent (I’ve used this tactic before too, to little avail), but it drives at least some people (like the ones here) away from your ideas. Is that what you want?

    No, my ‘tactic’ is to speak the truth. I am not interested in coddling people into Hell, or coercion of any sort.

    Very simply – how can one have a sincere debate if they begin with their conclusion in their premises, as you have?

    What you need to recognize is that ALL worldview debates begin with the conclusion in the premises. The problem is that people do not recognize that this is EXACTLY what the atheist is doing as well. They presuppose the validity of atheistic reasoning, while trying to prove atheistic reasoning. The difference is that no atheistic worldview can account for the presupposition of the validity of their reasoning, while the Christian worldview can and does. The Bible teaches that the reasoning of the atheist is foolishness, why so many Christians deny this truth is beyond me.

    I just don’t understand how you feel inclined to get away with that, and how you expect anybody, atheist or believer, to respect such logic.

    Well, they, and you, seem to respect it when they, and you do it, so why they (and you) do not respect it in me is open for debate.

    No free lunches, prove your point.

    The proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn’t prove anything. Proof requires logic, knowledge, and truth, none of which can be made sense of without God. OMGF has already admitted that (he) cannot know anything for certain, and how ‘uncertain ‘knowledge’ looks is beyond me, so (he) has already proven my point for me.

  • MS Quixote

    Hey Sye,

    You said that it was an ‘inherent property’ of matter, I’m just wondering how one would know this based on an extremely limited knowledge of matter.

    Oops. I did, didn’t I. Nice catch, but I also provided a clarification with it: “I am not claiming it is a characteristic of matter, I am claiming it describes how matter interacts.”

    I think our particular portion of this thread distills to this:

    The difference being, such a properly basic belief comports with Christianity, but not with atheism. Universals with limited knowledge, abstract entities in a material world, and invariance in a universe that is constantly changing – how do universal, abstract, invariant entities comport with that?

    You may fairly argue that the existence of logic appears more likely given theism than atheism, or that since we observe logic, theism seems more likely. To claim, however, that atheists are not warranted in their knowledge of logic is simply a contradiction–you have claimed that it is properly basic. If it’s properly basic, and the self-evident propositions of logic are, everyone is warranted in their knowledge of logic. If logic is not self-evident or evident to the senses, thus not properly basic, then it is difficult to see how it can be presuppositional. My advice, worth what you are paying for it, is to spend some time on this portion of your argument. Or, perhaps you never meant to use the phrase “properly basic” in the first place?

    Regarding the universality of logic, I’m not certain or convinced of how universal logic is within a black hole, at or near the big bang, at the subatomic level, at or near the speed of light, or in hell, for that matter. (no offense intended).

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Nes said:

    (Yes, Pastafarian is obviously a made up religion, but that’s not the point, so don’t harp on that, m’kay?)

    Actually that is exactly the point. Tell me how it is possible for you to know anything according to your worldview, and I will be happy to engage you, but I do not have the time to discuss worldviews neither of us hold to.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Okay Brad, let’s take this one point at a time. The traffic is increasing, and I want to be able to keep up.

    Let me ask you this: Is logic higher than logic? If so why? If not why not?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    MS Quixote said:

    Oops. I did, didn’t I. Nice catch, but I also provided a clarification with it: “I am not claiming it is a characteristic of matter, I am claiming it describes how matter interacts.”

    Not unitl after I called you on it, but still, you have the same problem, how do you have universal knowledge on how matter interacts?

    You may fairly argue that the existence of logic appears more likely given theism than atheism

    No actually, I can’t. One cannot autonomously argue to God being the necessary foundation of argumentation. Neutrality is a myth.

    To claim, however, that atheists are not warranted in their knowledge of logic is simply a contradiction–you have claimed that it is properly basic. If it’s properly basic, and the self-evident propositions of logic are, everyone is warranted in their knowledge of logic.

    Indeed, I may be using the term ‘poperly basic’ incorrectly, but I mean by it that logic is foundational. It is a transcendental – a precondition of intelligibility. Both the Christian and the (honest) atheist take this position. The question is though, whose worldview can account for the elements – universality, abstractness, and invariance, of this transcendental element of reason.

    Regarding the universality of logic, I’m not certain or convinced of how universal logic is within a black hole, at or near the big bang, at the subatomic level, at or near the speed of light, or in hell, for that matter. (no offense intended).

    Are you suggesting that it does not universally apply to this discussion? :-)

  • MS Quixote

    how do you have universal knowledge on how matter interacts?

    I don’t. Do you?

    Are you suggesting that it does not universally apply to this discussion? :-)

    Are you suggesting this conversation is taking place within a black hole? Come to think of it, that may be the best explanation :)

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    MS Quixote said:

    I don’t. Do you?

    Nope, but I (and you) have revelation from someone who does, that is why we are justified in proceeding on the assumption that it holds universally.

  • MS Quixote

    Nope, but I (and you) have revelation from someone who does, that is why we are justified in proceeding on the assumption that it holds universally.

    That’s the response I anticipated, and while I restrictedly concur, I have two final comments, and then I’ll wish you well on your book effort:

    1. I am not aware of a specific revelation that states logic is universal. This must be an inference drawn from the text, or one drawn from the nature of God.

    2. That logic holds universally seems to disregard evidence to the contrary, as I’ve suggested. You must have something else in mind by universal. Universal basis for our thoughts and logical conclusions under the present conditions, perhaps?

    Best of wishes; if I can be of any assistance, let me know.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    MS Quixote said:

    1. I am not aware of a specific revelation that states logic is universal. This must be an inference drawn from the text, or one drawn from the nature of God.

    Indeed, we could discuss the inferences that show this, but Jeremiah 33: 25, 25 does speak of ‘fixed laws’ ” This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.’ “

    2. That logic holds universally seems to disregard evidence to the contrary, as I’ve suggested. You must have something else in mind by universal. Universal basis for our thoughts and logical conclusions under the present conditions, perhaps?

    Nope, I mean universal. I have found any denial of them to be wanting.

    Best of wishes; if I can be of any assistance, let me know.

    I really appreciate the offer, and would be pleased if you sent me an email (sye@proofthatgodexists.org) to have your email address on file for that purpose.

    Blessings,

    Sye

  • Brad

    “One cannot justify anything one claims to know without God as the foundation.”

    Can you justify claims with God as a foundation? Can you justify God is the foundation? With what do you justify such a claim?

    No free lunches, prove your point.

    The proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn’t prove anything.

    Incorrect. Logic proves conclusions based on premises. There is no “proof” of logic itself because proof de facto is based on logic. Logic is either the foundation that scrutinizes all foundations, or logic doesn’t exist. Furthermore, you are trying to prove God by means of proving that without God, there would be no reason, and since there is reason, there is a God. But you don’t support your pivotal presumption that reason requires God to exist, so you are getting a free lunch where I am not when I presume that the existence of reason does not require a cause.

    Let me ask you this: Is logic higher than logic? If so why? If not why not?

    Logic is not contingent upon itself, as that would be circular. If it were contingent upon itself, then it would exist before (i.e. preceding) its own existence. Reduction by absurdity. So, as you were presumably expecting me to do, let me ask you this in return: Is God higher than God?

    Indeed, I may be using the term ‘poperly basic’ incorrectly, but I mean by it that logic is foundational. It is a transcendental – a precondition of intelligibility.

    Exactly. So, can we speak of the intelligibility of the concept of God? How can we do this if logic does not transcend God?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sye T,

    Sorry, but I can’t stand this anymore. I’m beginning to see where you’re coming from at least, but the amount of work required just isn’t worth all this headracking. Besides, I’ve just realized that all these past 100-plus comments basically involve other people’s self-centered arguments and have nothing to do with Ty, the 14-year-old Christian who contacted Ebonmuse. But I suppose that’s expected in Battle Royale Edition.

    Either way, throw the towel in with you I must, but I’m sure we’ll cross paths again. (And sorry Ebonmuse for getting sucked into irrelevant thread drift, if it even matters.)

    And to Ty,

    I would say this my man – always remember that things which might seem totally obvious to you do not seem obvious to anyone. I would suggest taking up the stance that you can’t prove God to somebody. The best you can do is defend and explain your own beliefs respectfully to others, and to really live the walk. Speak, think and question in love and respect. Let people get excited about you – not your religion. Then, perhaps they’ll see something admirable in you, and later on, when they learn about your beliefs, they might just say, “We’ll gee, not all of them are schmucks, maybe there’s something to it.” Above all, don’t get offended or upset with atheists or anyone, and unless you have to defend yourself always hold an outstretched hand.

    I would also say be sure to live a balanced life and don’t get sucked into this sort of crap you see all of us doing here.

  • Nes

    Hmm, a lot of traffic on this site today. I happened to have to load up my browser again and saw replies, and this is a really easy one to reply to.

    Nes said:

    (Yes, Pastafarian is obviously a made up religion, but that’s not the point, so don’t harp on that, m’kay?)

    Actually that is exactly the point. Tell me how it is possible for you to know anything according to your worldview, and I will be happy to engage you, but I do not have the time to discuss worldviews neither of us hold to.

    In other words:

    “I’m going to ignore your demonstration of how absurd my argument is and try to change the subject so other people don’t notice my evasion.”

    Thanks for playing, have a good day!

    I’ll try to get a more substantive response for how my “worldview” can account for knowledge and compare and contrast with your “worldview” later, possibly tomorrow. But please, a more substantive response to my actual post would be nice in the meantime. What I had meant by that line is that you can’t just respond with, “Well, Pastafarian is false, so your whole argument is false.” Well, you could, but it would just be evading answering my questions, “Would you grant me the claim that logic depends on the FSM? If not, then why should we grant you the claim that logic depends on the Christian god?”

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Brad, as I said, let’s take this one point at a time. I asked if logic was higher than logic. If yes why, and if not why not? You answered:

    Logic is not contingent upon itself, as that would be circular. If it were contingent upon itself, then it would exist before (i.e. preceding) its own existence. Reduction by absurdity.

    So, I take it you are saying that logic cannot be higher than logic then? Well let’s take a look at one of your earlier posts (with a few modifications). Can logic be not logic? What stops logic from being not logic? I understand, it is supposedly the nature of logic to be logical, but why can’t logic be both logical and not logical? It is because of the law of the excluded middle, which means logic is a higher authority than logic.

    See, when you put it that way, it is indeed absurd, yet that is what you were doing with God. Ready to move on to the next point now?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Nes said

    In other words:
    “I’m going to ignore your demonstration of how absurd my argument is and try to change the subject so other people don’t notice my evasion.”

    Not at all. You see, if I take the time to refute your argument, then you could easily say “Well, I didn’t believe that anyway,” then go on to posit another diety ad infinitum. What is telling though, is that in order to justify logic you had to posit a deity. If you actually believe in a diety, fine posit that, and we can examine our respective claims. If you don’t fine, then posit your justification for logic and we can examine our respective claims, but as I said, I do not have the time to refute worldviews neither of us hold.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sye T,
    Not only are you being very dishonest now (your treatment of Brad’s argument reveals a severe dishonesty) but you are ignoring where people have presented and defended justifications for logic and reason (myself and Brad come to mind as well as cl and MS).

    You’re also still stuck in “gotcha” mode. You refuse to engage in any objections or answer any questions unless we say that we absolutely know X, in which case you will sweep down and assert that we can only absolutely know something if god exists and therefore you win. The problems with this are many. You still have no defended why logic and reason can only exist with god and you still have yet to answer the obvious point that your argument is self-defeating for just a few examples. Your evasions that I, and others, can be safely ignored until such time as we are absolutely certain of anything and everything is nothing more than that, an evasion. It shows that you can’t defend your assertions and would prefer to divert attentions away from that fact.

    cl,

    As far as taking over the discussion, hells no! At least let me get myself into my own intellectual embroilments, will ya? I’ve already bantered with OMGF before and I need to rethink my entire strategy with the guy.

    I don’t know if this is a compliment or not ;) but thank you for being honest. You’ve definitely “grown” (not to sound condescending, because that’s not what I intend) since we first crossed swords (so to speak) on this forum.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    Not only are you being very dishonest now (your treatment of Brad’s argument reveals a severe dishonesty)

    Sorry, don’t see it, you’ll have to make your case.

    but you are ignoring where people have presented and defended justifications for logic and reason (myself and Brad come to mind as well as cl and MS).

    I’ve tried to address all the claims and point out their fallacies. You deny certainity, and I don’t see how you get logic or reason from ‘maybes.’ I am still willing to address those ‘justifications’ that attempt to comport with logic or reason, and if you care to show me how ‘maybe’ gives us logic or reason, I will endeavour to address that as well.

    You refuse to engage in any objections or answer any questions unless we say that we absolutely know X, in which case you will sweep down and assert that we can only absolutely know something if god exists and therefore you win.

    I think that I have answerd many questions here from many people. I just got tired of answering your claims since they amounted to “I can’t know anything for certain, but I’m certain that you are wrong.”

    As far as a defense of my assertions go, I have a whole website dedicated to that. If there are any that need clarification, I will be pleased to do that. It just strikes me as a waste of time trying to show somebody something who cannot justify knowledge, or the logic which they intend to use to evaluate my statements.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sye T,

    Sorry, don’t see it, you’ll have to make your case.

    Here’s Brad’s original statement:

    Can God be not God? What stops him from being illogical? I understand, it is supposedly his nature to be logical, but why can’t he oppose his own nature? It is because of the law of the excluded middle, which means logic is a higher authority than God.

    This quote you changed to the following:

    Can logic be not logic? What stops logic from being not logic? I understand, it is supposedly the nature of logic to be logical, but why can’t logic be both logical and not logical? It is because of the law of the excluded middle, which means logic is a higher authority than logic.

    If you really can’t see how this is a strawman and misrepresentation of his position, then you have no standing to speak about logic at all.

    I’ve tried to address all the claims and point out their fallacies.

    No you certainly have not, unless refusing to support your position and relying on logical fallacy and the argument of, “You can’t be sure of stuff so I don’t have to listen to you,” somehow counts as addressing objections. In the real world, it doesn’t.

    You deny certainity, and I don’t see how you get logic or reason from ‘maybes.’

    Case in point. You have not dealt with the fact that I and others have pointed out that we don’t need absolute certainty in order to observe the universe and draw conclusions. And, once again, I will point out that not being 100% certain of something does not mean that I am 0% certain of that something. This is a category error that you continue to make.

    I just got tired of answering your claims since they amounted to “I can’t know anything for certain, but I’m certain that you are wrong.”

    This is a gross mischaracterization of my position. I might not be able to know anything with 100% certainty since I don’t know that I don’t live in the Matrix, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t express rational certainty and use logic and reason. That you have not shown that this is impossible for me speaks against you. That you claim that logic only comes from god and that your worldview does not allow for logical fallacy, all the while using logical fallacy means your argument is unsupported and self-defeating.

    As far as a defense of my assertions go, I have a whole website dedicated to that.

    And, you fail to support the assertion that only with god can one have logic and reason. You simply state that this is the case without supporting evidence. You’re looking for a free lunch, and as cl said:

    No free lunches, prove your point.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    If you really can’t see how this is a strawman and misrepresentation of his position, then you have no standing to speak about logic at all.

    It is my position that logic is derived from God’s nature. I replaced ‘God’ with ‘logic’ in his quote to show him the fallacy of his position. I said that I made some changes. The original quote is there for all to see, I was not intending to hide anything. I thought the change, and the point, was obvious.

    No you certainly have not

    See, now this is exactly what I mean, you deny certainty, and tell me what I have certainly not done. I don’t see the point of wasting my time debating that kind of glaring inconsistency.

    Case in point. You have not dealt with the fact that I and others have pointed out that we don’t need absolute certainty in order to observe the universe and draw conclusions.

    Problem is, as I have pointed out, you have zero basis for trusting the validity of the senses with which you ‘observe,’ and the reasoning with which you ‘draw conclusions.’ Sure people can draw conclusions without justification of the validity of their senses and reasoning, but why should anyone care?

    This is a gross mischaracterization of my position. I might not be able to know anything with 100% certainty since I don’t know that I don’t live in the Matrix, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t express rational certainty and use logic and reason.

    Well then, please give me an example of something that you know that you are not certain of.

    And, you fail to support the assertion that only with god can one have logic and reason.

    Sure I do. It’s true by the impossibility of the contrary (which you have been so kind as to help demonstrate).

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sye T,

    It is my position that logic is derived from God’s nature. I replaced ‘God’ with ‘logic’ in his quote to show him the fallacy of his position.

    That much is obvious, and all it accomplished was knocking down a strawman. You made no point there, except to emphasize your view, which we’re all well aware of by now.

    See, now this is exactly what I mean, you deny certainty, and tell me what I have certainly not done. I don’t see the point of wasting my time debating that kind of glaring inconsistency.

    Sigh. Once again, do I really have to insert the caveat, “Assuming we aren’t in the Matrix” before making all my statements? That you can’t or won’t argue deal with this doesn’t speak well for you.

    Problem is, as I have pointed out, you have zero basis for trusting the validity of the senses with which you ‘observe,’ and the reasoning with which you ‘draw conclusions.’

    No, the problem is that you can’t back up that assertion. As I’ve repeatedly explained to you, we can have basis for trusting our senses and our instruments through verification, peer review, etc. Once again, not having 100%, absolute certainty is not the same as having 0% certainty. How many times do you have to be instructed on this before you will understand it?

    Well then, please give me an example of something that you know that you are not certain of.

    This is completely irrelevant. If you want to argue logic, etc, then let’s do that. If you want to go off on tangents and navel gazing, have fun.

    Sure I do. It’s true by the impossibility of the contrary (which you have been so kind as to help demonstrate).

    No, you’ve only asserted that the contrary (using false dichotomies BTW, which is logically fallacious) is impossible. Your justification for that is that you assume that only your way is possible. This is nothing more than circular logic and question begging. Face it, you have no standing.

  • Nes

    Nes said

    In other words:
    “I’m going to ignore your demonstration of how absurd my argument is and try to change the subject so other people don’t notice my evasion.”

    Not at all. You see, if I take the time to refute your argument, then you could easily say “Well, I didn’t believe that anyway,” then go on to posit another diety ad infinitum.

    You have my assurance that this is not what I intended to do; as I said, the religion is obviously false, but that’s not the point. It really is foundational to any further argument that I would make with you to know whether you would grant that logic depends on the FSM. Feel free to insert any other deity of your choice, aside from the Christian god. It doesn’t matter which deity. It has nothing to do with whether we believe in that deity or not.

    What is telling though, is that in order to justify logic you had to posit a deity.

    No, I didn’t. I was simply turning your own argument against you. I haven’t made any justifications for logic yet.

  • heliobates

    you have zero basis for trusting the validity of the senses with which you ‘observe,’ and the reasoning with which you ‘draw conclusions.’

    You, along with every other person on this planet, “trust” your senses every day. Whatever “basis” describes the extent of your trust in the evidence provided by your senses, it has to be greater than zero or you would be incapable of walking to the bathroom to piss in the toilet.

    The collective enterprise of gathering, analysing and generalizing about sense observations is this thing called “science”, about which you’ve apparently never heard. But “science” is really a formal codification of the processes of observation and abstraction available to almost every person on this planet. People using scientific enquiry do not ever have to have complete and absolute confidence in anything. From an evolving body of practice and from observation, scientists can infer the best explanation and their level of confidence is justified by how well they can predict results and test those predictions. If you think that there is “zero basis” for trusting this process because it doesn’t meet your ridiculous self-referential, circular insistence on “absolute logic” and non-demonstrable “certainty”, then don’t get in an airplane, stay off of bridges, stop driving cars, don’t take any medication and please stop using your computer; in fact eschew any and all of the products of scientific inquiry.

    This is how people can, and do, reason without needing the “absolute certainty” that only you are insisting on. Your entire argument is a false dilemma* and self-refuting, given your insistence that your correspondents not discuss anything from the perspective of their beliefs, when your entire logical structure, as you’ve admitted to me, is based on belief–assumed not “proven”.

    I cannot find a single philosophical article that uses the term “absolute truth”, except when preceeded by the qualifier “not”. Nor can I find any reference to “God” when discussing the rules of inference. If “laws of logic” are universal and unchanging, how come nobody else uses them? And none of the theories of truth: Correspondence, Coherence, Pragmatic, Tarski-an, Realist, Anti-Realist… discuss truth in an absolute way. So your refusal to clearly and unambiguously demonstrate the formal presentation of your rules of inference (cite a source! Any frickin’ source!) suggests that the expression of these “laws” exists only in your head.
    However strong is your faith in your presuppositions, the best adjective that describes the faith in which you argue is “bad”.

    * I’m entitled to assess your reasoning as an informal fallacy because you insist on using informal logic–that is the “form” of everyday language and reasoning–to present your “logical proof”. You talk about “logic” but you obviously can’t recognize it when it kicks you right in the nose.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    That much is obvious, and all it accomplished was knocking down a strawman. You made no point there, except to emphasize your view, which we’re all well aware of by now.

    Yet, you accused me of being ‘very dishonest.’ While I disagree with your ‘strawman’ assessment, that is a far cry from being ‘very dishonest,’ especially since I was entirely open about what I was doing.

    Sigh. Once again, do I really have to insert the caveat, “Assuming we aren’t in the Matrix” before making all my statements?

    Nope, just be consistent. If you do not believe that certainity is attainable, stop making knowledge claims.

    No, the problem is that you can’t back up that assertion. As I’ve repeatedly explained to you, we can have basis for trusting our senses and our instruments through verification, peer review, etc.

    And as I have repeatedly said, if you use your senses and reasoning for that ‘verification’ and ‘peer review’ then you are arguing in a circle. You are using your senses and reasoning to determine the trustworthiness of your senses and reasoning. How that gives one certainty to any degree is beyond me.

    Once again, not having 100%, absolute certainty is not the same as having 0% certainty. How many times do you have to be instructed on this before you will understand it?

    I have never denied this. I simply asked you to give me an example of something that you know that is not certain? You say that this is not relevant, where I feel that it is at the heart of the issue.

    No, you’ve only asserted that the contrary (using false dichotomies BTW, which is logically fallacious) is impossible.

    See, there you go again. You accuse my claim of being logically fallacious, but you have admitted that this is something you cannot be certain of. You cannot even justify the absolute laws of logic by which you call anything fallacious. This should be quite simple for you, if you care to refute me, posit the possible contrary justification for the absolute laws of logic (in a worldview without certainty).

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sye T,

    Yet, you accused me of being ‘very dishonest.’ While I disagree with your ‘strawman’ assessment, that is a far cry from being ‘very dishonest,’ especially since I was entirely open about what I was doing.

    It was and is dishonest, yes.

    Nope, just be consistent. If you do not believe that certainity is attainable, stop making knowledge claims.

    I am being consistent. Of course, so are you, consistently unable or unwilling to engage in any actual dialog.

    And as I have repeatedly said, if you use your senses and reasoning for that ‘verification’ and ‘peer review’ then you are arguing in a circle.

    I’ll just refer you to Heliobates’ comment from above. You might consider actually reading it and learning something.

    I have never denied this.

    Not explicitly, but your “answers” depend on it. That’s why you keep claiming that I can’t have any knowledge, etc.

    I simply asked you to give me an example of something that you know that is not certain?

    And I’ve already answered that question days ago.

    See, there you go again. You accuse my claim of being logically fallacious, but you have admitted that this is something you cannot be certain of.

    And there you go again being unable or unwilling to engage in the actual argument. Come back when you get out of the second grade.

  • heliobates

    If you do not believe that certainity is attainable, stop making knowledge claims.

    Post your full and formal theory of truth, including its answers to Gettier-style problems or “stop telling other people to stop making knowledge claims.”

  • Polly

    OMGF, Heliobates,
    This guy is standing among the shards of a former glass house getting pelted in the head with stones yelling “nyah na na nyah na nya na.”
    You’ve put up with his snarky ignorance way longer than courtesy requires.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    I don’t know if this is a compliment or not ;) but thank you for being honest. You’ve definitely “grown” (not to sound condescending, because that’s not what I intend) since we first crossed swords (so to speak) on this forum.

    No problem, no condescension taken… and besides, another reason I wouldn’t want to “take over the discussion” with you on this thread is because, um, well… we both agree that at least part of Sye T’s progression is incorrect.

  • heliobates

    You’ve put up with his snarky ignorance way longer than courtesy requires.

    Well, he starts out looking like a giant until I get up close. And then when I backs away, darn if he don’t look like a giant ag’in. I’m starting to ken that he’s been a windmill all along, but tarnations, I can’t really be sure of anything without God!

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Nes said:

    No, I didn’t. I was simply turning your own argument against you. I haven’t made any justifications for logic yet.

    Actually you weren’t. You were positting what you believe to be a ficticious diety, with a ficticious gospel, against my claim of a real diety, and a real gospel. If you wish to turn the argument back on me, posit the deity you believe in, and the gospel (or whatever) which supports that belief. If you do not believe in a deity, posit whatever justification you have for the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic, and I will be pleased to engage you.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    I’m calling Poe’s Law.

  • Nes

    Yeah, I give up. He refuses to answer the simplest questions, refuses to defend his position, keeps shifting the focus to us, relies on false dichotomies, uses “god of the gaps” to explain a perceived gap in our knowledge (whether that gap exists or not), uses circular reasoning to support his god claim, and has admitted that no argument will ever change his mind.

    And yeah, I’d love to see his full and formal theory too. It was actually going to be one of my questions in my last comment, but I really wanted to see how he’d answer that other question first.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    heliobates said:

    You, along with every other person on this planet, “trust” your senses every day.”

    I never denied this. I am looking for your justification for doing so.

    Whatever “basis” describes the extent of your trust in the evidence provided by your senses, it has to be greater than zero or you would be incapable of walking to the bathroom to piss in the toilet.

    Again, I do not deny that people trust their senses, I want to know your rational basis for doing so.

    The collective enterprise of gathering, analysing and generalizing about sense observations is this thing called “science”, about which you’ve apparently never heard.

    Nope, I’ve heard about science, and know that its very basis is the inductive principle, another thing which your worldview has zero justification for.

    If you think that there is “zero basis” for trusting this process because it doesn’t meet your ridiculous self-referential, circular insistence on “absolute logic” and non-demonstrable “certainty”, then don’t get in an airplane, stay off of bridges, stop driving cars, don’t take any medication and please stop using your computer; in fact eschew any and all of the products of scientific inquiry.

    Again, I have a basis for trusting the validity of my senses, as I know they are a good gift from God, which we are to use to honour Him. You may disagree with my justification, but, again, what is yours? Surely you can see that any justification that you give, utilizes your autonomus senses and is therfore circular.

    Your entire argument is a false dilemma* and self-refuting… …* I’m entitled to assess your reasoning as an informal fallacy because you insist on using informal logic–that is the “form” of everyday language and reasoning–to present your “logical proof”.

    You have a very convenient memory. I suggested that you relied on absolute laws of logic from which to level your accusations, to which you responded “No I don’t.” (On your blog Nov. 2, 11:47 AM.) If you do not believe in absolute laws of logic, how can you call anything I say fallacious? If the laws of logic do not apply absolutely, then nothing can be absolutely fallacious. If it is only your opinion that my arguments are fallacious, sorry, but why should I give a rip what you believe?

    I cannot find a single philosophical article that uses the term “absolute truth”, except when preceeded by the qualifier “not”.

    Are you taking the position that it is absolutely true, that there is no absolute truth???

    Nor can I find any reference to “God” when discussing the rules of inference.

    So what? One can use the rules of inference without justifying them.

    If “laws of logic” are universal and unchanging, how come nobody else uses them?

    Are you saying that nobody uses the universal, unchanging laws of logic?

    And none of the theories of truth: Correspondence, Coherence, Pragmatic, Tarski-an, Realist, Anti-Realist… discuss truth in an absolute way.

    Um, is that absolutely true?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    It was and is dishonest, yes.

    Again, make your case.

    I am being consistent.

    Hmm, you say that %100 certainty is impossible and then say that I ‘certainly have not’ done something. That is your idea of consistency???

    Not explicitly, but your “answers” depend on it. That’s why you keep claiming that I can’t have any knowledge, etc.

    I keep asking you for an example of something that you know which is not certain, and you have yet to provide one. Let me ask you this, if someone is 99.9% certain that Richard Simmons is the current president of the United States, can they know this?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Nes said:

    Yeah, I give up. He refuses to answer the simplest questions, refuses to defend his position, keeps shifting the focus to us, relies on false dichotomies, uses “god of the gaps” to explain a perceived gap in our knowledge (whether that gap exists or not), uses circular reasoning to support his god claim, and has admitted that no argument will ever change his mind.

    Hmmm, what happened to this?

    I’ll try to get a more substantive response for how my “worldview” can account for knowledge and compare and contrast with your “worldview” later, possibly tomorrow.

    Oh well. See ya :-)

  • http://www.answersingenesis.org anon

    Anyone down for a game of charades?

    How do we know the towers fell on 9/11?

    Because God exists!

    How do we know we’re on planet Earth?

    Because God exists!

    How do we know anything?

    Because God exists!

    How do we know God exists?

    Because God exists.

    Who am I?

  • heliobates

    Um, is that absolutely true?

    Is it true that none of those theories concern themselves with “truth” in your absolute sense? Yes. Do you have a link, an article, a book, a dissertation, anything besides your repeated assertions to refute that?

    Don’t bother responding, Sye. You’re going to be too busy posting your full, formal theory of truth, with the solutions for or avoidance of Gettier-style problems. And the formal explication of the “universal, unchanging rules of logic”, and your rules of inference will probably take you a bit longer, as well.

    Looking forward to them, Sye. We can’t proceed them.

  • heliobates

    That is, we can’t proceed without them.

    Drop us a ringy-dingy when they’re ready.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    heliobates said:

    Is it true that none of those theories concern themselves with “truth” in your absolute sense? Yes.

    Absolutely true? Thanks for keeping on doing that.

  • heliobates

    Absolutely true

    Is there something wrong with your monitor, Sye? You don’t seem to see things that are there and act as if you see things that aren’t. But I admire your pluck, kiddo.

    So where’s that theory? And the explication?

    I mean, I can’t find mention of the “universal, unchanging laws of logic” in the SEP, or the IEP. They’re not mentioned in any of my introductory text books, either.

    This must mean that you’re relying on a formal method virtually unknown to any practicing logician, past or present. So, in the spirit of intellectual honesty, you’re going to provide a link or a reference to the full, formal theory of truth with the solutions to or avoidance of Gettier-style problems, along with your formal explication of the “universal, unchanging laws of logic” and the accompanying rules of inference, right? That way you’ll avoid the appearance that you argue completely within the bounds of informal logic and you will no longer leave yourself open to criticisms of informal fallacies. Right thing to do, and all, wot?

    I mean, otherwise, you’re asking us to accept that you argue only from your beliefs.

    And why should we give a rip about what you believe, Sye?

  • Nes

    Sye said:

    Hmmm, what happened to this?

    I’ll try to get a more substantive response for how my “worldview” can account for knowledge and compare and contrast with your “worldview” later, possibly tomorrow.

    Oh well. See ya :-)

    I said:

    It really is foundational to any further argument that I would make with you to know whether you would grant that logic depends on the FSM.

    I can’t go on if you don’t answer the question. I wouldn’t want to compare and contrast with a strawman version of your views, after all. But you’ve refused – repeatedly – to answer, so I’m done with you.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    heliobates said:

    I mean, I can’t find mention of the “universal, unchanging laws of logic” in the SEP, or the IEP. They’re not mentioned in any of my introductory text books, either.

    Well, if the laws of logic do not necessarily apply to our argument, and if they are subject to change, then I see no real point in debating. (As if you live with that assumption).

    Cheers.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Nes said:

    It really is foundational to any further argument that I would make with you to know whether you would grant that logic depends on the FSM.

    I would not. (Thought that was obvious, but if you need my not pointing out the obvious as an excuse to bolt, that’s up to you).

  • heliobates

    Well, if the laws of logic do not necessarily apply to our argument, and if they are subject to change, then I see no real point in debating. (As if you live with that assumption).

    Oh, gosh, Mr. T. I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but you see a lot of us here are really interested in evaluating the truth claim that you put forth here and at proofthatgodexists.org. The problem for us (and, once again, I’m so sorry to keep taking you away from that book you’re working on), is that when you explain it to us, it looks as if you’re making a badly-reasoned informal argument, complete with at least three informal fallacies on each page. But that’s only because none of us has ever had the chance to study the method known as Universal, Unchanging Laws of Logic™ (because none of our lousy professors ever taught it to us, or even put it in any of the encyclopedias, or journals of philosophy, or gave it book-length treatment–stupid academic wannabes!) and so it’s natural for us to confuse the two.

    We’re really keen on discussing your truth claim that “God is the foundation of logic, knowledge and reason”, but, see, without access to your formal explication and your rules of inference, well , it just looks like a pointless circularity (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m soooo sorry, Mr. T., but I even asked Kelly, that girl from third period, and she said the same thing!) And without being able to refer to your complete, formal theory of truth (with answers to or methods for avoiding Gettier problems)… Well, of course it’s obvious to you that we can’t proceed.

    So, like I said, if you could just point us at a web page where all of this is completely and formally explained, or maybe the part of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that we’ve overlooked, or even a journal article, or a book-length treatment, well then we could, in our unworthy way, attempt to possibly, maybe, figure out if your truth claim is in fact a justified true belief, and why this is so (with an explanation of how it avoids or answers Gettier problems, nach!)

    Cause, you know, otherwise, it looks as if you’re just repeatedly asserting a belief using informal logic, and demanding that we argue against it and the Universal, Unchanging Rules of Logic™. And gosh, Mr. T., though we really want to in your case, we still can’t give a rip about what you believe!

    So, how about it, Mr. T.?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Oh, gosh, Mr. T. I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but you see a lot of us here are really interested in evaluating the truth claim that you put forth here and at proofthatgodexists.org.

    By what standard of logic do you plan on evaluating my truth claim, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to my claim?

    How non-absolute, changing laws necessarily apply to anything is beyond me, but I see that you are content with living in your delusion.

  • Brad

    All right, I’m back. I see that we had a mud wrestling championship in my wake. (Too bad I missed it!) Let me first address your alleged reduction to absurdity made of my questions about God, Sye. Namely my rhetoric trying to prove that logic transcended God. You wish to show my questions intrinsically absurd, so you don’t have to answer them. Of course, logic can be applied to itself, so so your revised questions can be answered based upon logic. You have already conceded the permissibility of circularity, so you don’t have that fallacy-card to use on me any more. (My position is that circularity can only be used in the case of necessity – that is, there has to be some intelligible concept. Existence-proofs for entities cannot use circularity unless the entities are necessary.)

    Can logic be not logic? What stops logic from being not logic? I understand, it is supposedly the nature of logic to be logical, but why can’t logic be both logical and not logical? It is because of the law of the excluded middle, which means logic is a higher authority than logic.

    Answers: No, necessity, necessity, no. These are my answers because I cannot conceive of any alternative. (We have both, in previous comments, implicitly agreed that intelligibility is a necessary standard for accepting any concept. Unless you can show another set of answers to also make sense, then we must accept these.) Unfortunately, if this is a fair debate here, you’re going to have to answer the original questions I posted you. Back it up, too. I hope we do not end up going in circles, because it seems we are tempting fate’s sense of irony at this point. And just in case: if you give the same answers as me, then you are working under one more assumption than I am (namely God), which makes your position unparsimonious relative to mine.

    There are six more things I would like you to do. (That makes seven total, and seven is the holy big number, right?) There is no time limit here on the internet, so I don’t care if it takes you 30 seconds or a year to respond, but please consider them all deeply.

    FIRST, support your presumption that logic requires God to exist. You kept initially asking for us to account for logic, which might insinuate that it needs being accounted for and hence is contingent upon something. I made the same reciprocal insinuation that God needs something higher and you ignored me by once again asking for me to account for logic.

    SECOND, explain how God could make absolute certainty possible. If you keep this a mystery, then how are you to respond to the claim “logic mysteriously has the power to make absolutely certain statements”? We can do the same thing as you with mystery-positing, but you do it with the extra assumption of God! You’re getting a free lunch!

    THIRD, explain why there is no necessary precondition for God’s existence, and to exist as he is. I asked it before this way:

    Why does he exist? Why is it his nature to be logical, instead of his personality to be “Sound and fury and nothing?”

    Is it necessary for God to exist and be that way? Why do you say?

    FOURTH, explain how laws can be personality traits. You didn’t answer me earlier when I asked you to do this; you just said it could be done because God is special. You can choose not to answer me, but then your concept of God becomes unintelligible to me, and so I can’t accept it. I satired your idea earlier, if you recall:

    The color blue can be happy when the weather is invalid outside my jacket mother, I suppose. On the other hand, if the weather is, say, valid outside my jacket mother, or invalid inside my jacket mother, then maybe the color blue can be malleable. Maybe it’s conductive if it’s invalid outside my jacket mother. Difficult to tell.

    However, I am happily attached to the idea that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is simply 42.

    FIFTH; as for a recommendation for your apologetic book which you are currently working on, I suggest not only clarifying the above issues but also working to show that the “God” that you [attempt to] prove is the same God that you gave in your definition:

    God is a personal being (not an impersonal force). God is immaterial, omnipresent (everywhere), omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnibenevolent (all good), immutable (unchanging), sovereign (supreme in authority), free, perfect, and eternal (without beginning or end). God is one divine being in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each are equally and eternally the one true God.

    You’ll probably use the Bible to do this after supporting the reliability of the Bible. I think I should tell you that Ebonmuse has written quite a lot to the contrary in the essays Let the Stones Speak and Choking on the Camel. I would recommend them to research the atheistic position against yours. Also, please inform us hear at Daylight Atheism when you publish your book, I am interested in reading it. (Coincidentally Ebonmuse, or Adam Lee, is going to publish a book too by the same title as this site.)

    SIXTH … You say this on your site:

    The Bible teaches that everyone knows God but those who deny Him are ‘suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.’ Apologetics is not about giving evidence to the ignorant, but it is about bringing to light the foolishness of suppressing the truth.

    Emphasis mine, obviously. Later here on this forum, you respond to Lynet thus:

    You say, effectively, that no argument I could make would convince you. Perhaps even if you could see into my head to view my honest doubt directly you’d just doubt your eyes and trust your Bible quote.

    That’s right.

    I retorted back with my own attempted sting:

    To be skeptical of reason itself is just a meaningless ploy to make it look like you have proof of God, when really you are just saying you have knowledge handed to you directly from God, and that we atheists do too deep down. You claim to know the latter prejudice because God instills you with the perfectly certain knowledge of it. Really, you only end up shooting yourself in the foot here. You claim to know something about us we know is obviously false, which gives us complete license to doubt your arrogant, stubborn, and desperate claim to divine revelation.

    I fully stand by that. In fact, that you state something about me I know to be wrong has been the main reason I have kept with this debate. So the last thing I would like you to do is reflect on this. Are you really as dishonest as you display?

  • heliobates

    By what standard of logic do you plan on evaluating my truth claim, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to my claim?

    Gosh, Mr. T.

    You are like the best at the Socrankit method ever. I asked my study group, and most of them are like total brainers, and they all totally agree that you’re wicked clever.

    I mean, pretending to misunderstand that I’m asking you to present the formal rules of inference for Universal, Unchanging Laws of Logic™ so that we can judge your claims by your own logic and within your own theory of truth (that accounts for or avoids Gettier problems, boo-yah) using repeated assertion and what totally looks like logical fallacies to like show us what we really already know but suppressing. That, to quote my bro, is “fuckin’ righteous”.

    But,if it isn’t too much trouble, could we get those links or references? Cause we still can’t give a rip about what you believe.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    The thing that I find most amusing about all this, is that you have one purported atheist arguing that the laws of logic are ‘necessary’ and another arguing against their necessity, and from the lack of engagement, I can only imagine both are fine with that blatant contradiction .(Well, I know why heliobates has to be fine with it :-)

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sye T,

    Hmm, you say that %100 certainty is impossible and then say that I ‘certainly have not’ done something. That is your idea of consistency???

    More dishonesty. I’ve explained multiple times all about this and you continue to ignore it. That is because you are dishonest and cowardly. Your insistence on not answering questions or supporting your position is more cowardice.

    By what standard of logic do you plan on evaluating my truth claim, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to my claim?

    I’ve already used your own truth claim to invalidate your own argument and show that it is self defeating. If we were to assume that you are right and use that assumption to evaluate your truth claims, we would come to logical contradictions, thus showing that our initial assumption was not right from the outset. You can continue to ignore this, but it’s simply more dishonesty and cowardice.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said

    More dishonesty.

    Ha! You haven’t even been able to back up your first allegation.

    I’ve explained multiple times all about this and you continue to ignore it.

    Are you certain? NO, since you have admitted that you cannot be. If you are certain, then you have been refuted AGAIN.

    I’ve already used your own truth claim to invalidate your own argument and show that it is self defeating. If we were to assume that you are right and use that assumption to evaluate your truth claims, we would come to logical contradictions, thus showing that our initial assumption was not right from the outset.

    Well, naturally I disagreee, but tell me, why are ‘logical contradictions’ absolutely not allowed to arrive at truth according to YOUR worldview?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Ha! You haven’t even been able to back up your first allegation.

    Do you deny that you continually ignore the caveats that I put up? It’s a matter of record and no one here is fooled by you.

    Are you certain? NO, since you have admitted that you cannot be. If you are certain, then you have been refuted AGAIN.

    Do you deny that I’ve explained that multiple times?

    Well, naturally I disagreee, but tell me, why are ‘logical contradictions’ absolutely not allowed to arrive at truth according to YOUR worldview?

    That’s irrelevant. You posited a worldview and set up the rules. In order to reach your conclusions you had to violate your own rules. This is self-defeating and logically incoherent/contradictory. It doesn’t matter whether I have a competing stance as yours is invalidated by your own arguments. Thanks for playing, but you are way out of your league here.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Heliobates said:

    But,if it isn’t too much trouble, could we get those links or references?

    Look, I have lots of philosophical papers which address the universality, and invariance of logic, problem is, you will evaluate them based upon your own presupposition that logic is NOT universal or invariant. Your presuppositions simply do not allow you to come to true conclusions, so really, why should I bother?

    You see, if I provide the argument:

    P1 God is the necessary precondition of intelligibility
    P2 Intelligibility exists
    C- Therefore God exists

    how would you know that this was absolutely not true? By what standard of logic would you call that argument untrue, how do YOU account for that standard, and why would that standard necessarily apply to my argument?

    It is a colossal waste of time to argue logically with someone who believes that logic does not necessarily apply to the argument.

    Still though, just so those others who may be reading along can see that I am not being disingenuous, have a look here.

    Not all the articles deal with the universality and invariance of logic, but many do.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said

    Do you deny that you continually ignore the caveats that I put up?

    Nope because your caveat does not get you out of your predicament.

    Your caveat is “We could be in the Matrix and live in a world where absolute certainty is possible, so yeah, it’s a possibility. But, it’s not rational to believe that. Given what it is rational to believe, we can’t know with certainty anything.”

    You say that it is not rational to believe that certainty is possible, then you go on to tell me what I have certainly not done??? How does your caveat get you out of that blatant contradiction??? Are you saying that telling me that I have certainly not done something, is “irrational?”
    Besides, even IF your caveat had any merit, how is ignoring it being dishonest?

    You posited a worldview and set up the rules. In order to reach your conclusions you had to violate your own rules. This is self-defeating and logically incoherent/contradictory.

    Naturally I disagree, but the problem is, if you are using rules which you do not believe in, to posit a refutation (albeit invalid) of a worldview you do not believe in, where does that get you? How do you account for the laws of logic by which you call ANYTHING invalid?

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF’s caveat in a nutshell “I’m rationally certain, that certainty is irrational.”

  • heliobates

    The thing that I find most amusing about all this, is that you have one purported atheist arguing that the laws of logic are ‘necessary’ and another arguing against their necessity…

    Mr. T.:

    The one consistency here is that you do not understand the subject under discussion. Eleventy-billion responses upthread, MS Quixote pointed out some problems with your epistemic approach and what he could discern about your theory of truth. He did so in language used by academic philosophers when describing their field of inquiry and reasoning. He covered material I was introduced to in my first introductory course. You, in what has been your only intellectually honest moment so far, admitted that you didn’t know what he was talking about.

    I have probed in several different ways and I am now as sure as I can be that you are completely unfamiliar with philosophy, as it is practiced in the academic world, and with formal systems of logic. No one–arguing in good faith and familiar with academic philosophy and formal logic–should misunderstand a legitimate request for access to the formal system and formal theory of truth used to underpin one’s argument, as an evasion or capitulation.

    I suspect that, though your apologetic approach has given you canned responses that include the terms “logic”, “contingency”, and “justified true belief”, and also equipped you with a rhetorical strategy that is tantamount to “argument weak, yell louder”, you have no real knowledge of logic or philosophy as the academic world understands them. Indeed, you aren’t even aware that you need them.

    Your argument is invalid if it doesn’t adhere to the form of the system of logic you’re using. I learned this in my first class. You still don’t understand this to be a game rule. None of us needs to engage with the substance of your argument because you use only one form of logic, and that because it’s the only one with which you are familiar. And, since your argument is developed entirely within the compass of informal logic, any and all of the fallacies of form you thereby commit are fair game.

    …and from the lack of engagement, I can only imagine both are fine with that blatant contradiction .(Well, I know why heliobates has to be fine with it :-)

    You have yet to understand anything I’ve said in response to your website presentation or your arguments here. You, in fact, cannot state what I know and don’t know about anything other than the form of your argument, because I haven’t told you. Accusing me of evasion is an amateurish and, frankly, desperate tactic. If you use a formal system of logic and you operate within a formal theory of truth, simply give me references to their full treatments. I can then examine both for myself and, when we argue, we’re on equal footing. If you’re not suppressing your premises or arguing from systems to which only you have access, then the outcome of our discussion will be determined solely by the strength and quality of our arguments, given the constraints of our formal systems. That approach presumes honesty, integrity and, most importantly, that you understand what you’re doing.

    I was enjoyably mocking you when I thought that you were simply being dishonest. Now that I realize you have no fucking clue, then this is no more a sport than is shooting fish in a barrel, with all their depressing similarities.

    I will ask you one last time. Where is the formal explication of the method to which you refer as the “Universal, Unchanging Rules of Logic”, along with your rules for inference? And where is your formal theory of truth, including an epistemic method that accounts for Gettier’s objections to claims that justified true beliefs can be classed as knowledge?

    Don’t bother responding to me unless it’s to provide what I’m asking. Assuming the aims of honest discourse, you have no legitimate objection to this request.

    If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or why I insist on asking for this, then the last remaining question is “Why are you here?” Because you’v shown only that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Come back when you do.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    heliobates said

    Your argument is invalid if it doesn’t adhere to the form of the system of logic you’re using. I learned this in my first class. You still don’t understand this to be a game rule.

    See, your cute language does not hide the vacousness of your argument. In a world where the laws of logic are not absolute there can be no absolute ‘game rules.’

    How do you account for these ‘game rules’ and why do they necessarily apply to my argument? Surely you can see, that “They do because they just do,” is not an argument.

    Tell me by what absolute standard of logic, you are assessing my arguments, how you account for that standard, and why that standard necessarily applies to my arguemnts, and I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

    Until then, what’s the point?

  • heliobates

    How do you account for these ‘game rules’ and why do they necessarily apply to my argument? Surely you can see, that “They do because they just do,” is not an argument.

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    helobates said

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

    Why thank you! I quite agree! :-D

  • Brad

    I have crawled back through heliobates’ comments, and I don’t see him claiming logic isn’t necessary or “doesn’t apply to the argument.” In fact, the opposite is true, as he has asked you continuallly to present the logic behind your argument, not the “informal” rhetoric that he claims is ridden with fallacies. Where do you think the burden of proof, and all that it entails, is here?

    We have apparently awoken fate’s sense of irony…

    See, your cute language does not hide the vacousness of your argument.

    That was actually the first thought expressed in this debate. Against you.

    Until then, what’s the point?

    I’m starting to see less and less point in this debate until you present your own argument in a better manner. “The proof that God exists is that without him you couldn’t prove anything” is rhetoric that I have shot at since the first moments of this battle. In this statement, the latter part you never successfully support nor do you show how the latter part supports the former. That’s why I called it a non sequitor before you got on this thread.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Sye T,

    Tell me by what absolute standard of logic, you are assessing my arguments, how you account for that standard, and why that standard necessarily applies to my arguemnts, and I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

    No one can be this dense. Heliobates is asking you what YOUR standard is, which has nothing to do with his standards for anything.

    I’ve been pointing out that the little bit of YOUR standard that you’ve provided us is inconsistent with YOUR assertions, which again has nothing to do with my standards of anything.

    Are you really that uninformed/uneducated/unintelligent that you can’t grasp that very easy, elementary concept?

  • heliobates

    No one can be this dense.

    Evidence of the ol’ glazzies, droogie.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Not Ludwig Van!

  • heliobates

    I was cured, alright.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Brad said:

    I have crawled back through heliobates’ comments, and I don’t see him claiming logic isn’t necessary or “doesn’t apply to the argument.” In fact, the opposite is true, as he has asked you continuallly to present the logic behind your argument, not the “informal” rhetoric that he claims is ridden with fallacies.

    You should have crawled harder. On Nov. 4 at 7:38 PM I made this comment “You (heliobates) have a very convenient memory. I suggested that you relied on absolute laws of logic from which to level your accusations, to which you responded “No I don’t.” (On your blog Nov. 2, 11:47 AM.)”

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    OMGF said:

    No one can be this dense. Heliobates is asking you what YOUR standard is, which has nothing to do with his standards for anything.

    My standard for the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic is God. If he did not know this, and would have liked to know, he could have asked. Still though, he says that he does not rely on the absolute laws of logic for his arguments, so I see no point in arguing anything with him.

  • heliobates

    You should have crawled harder.

    Well, Brad. I’m sure it’s not worth your time, but you could “crawl” over and see it in context.

    I’m shocked, simply shocked that Mr. T would engage in quote-mining.

    BTW, Brad, what do you mean you “crawled” back through my posts. Try reading them aloud. They positively dance on the tongue. Like little champagne bubbles made of win!

    ;o)

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    heliobates said:

    “Well, Brad. I’m sure it’s not worth your time, but you could “crawl” over and see it in context.”

    Rather than drive traffic over to that trainwreck, I’ll save you the trip and post it exactly as written:

    I said:Naturally I disagree, but what is obvious, is that you assume an absolute standard of logic from which to level your accusations.

    heliobates replied: “No, I don’t. As with the rest of your argument, you try to make that assumption for me and then limit my range of responses accordingly.”

  • heliobates

    Tsk tsk, Mr. T.

    That’s doesn’t present the statement in context. In fact, it was a completely separate discussion from the one we’re having right now (aside from the fact that you’re equivocating about the word “continually”). And my assumptions are still irrelevant. Until you present the formal explication of your Universal, Unchanging Laws of Logic™, and your formal theory of truth, which accomodates Gettier objections, then all you’re doing is presenting your beliefs.

    By your own standard, no one can give a rip about your belief and you have no argument to present.

    Let’s see those formal treatments, T. You have absolutely nothing of consequence to say until then.

    YHBO. HAND.

  • http://www.proofthatgodexists.org Sye T

    Heliobates said:

    That’s doesn’t present the statement in context. In fact, it was a completely separate discussion from the one we’re having right now

    Um, you invited me to your blog to “trade shots’ (Nov. 1 9:49 PM). When you said that you did not assume an absoute standard of logic from which to level your accusations, I figured there was no more reason to argue. Around the same time we started up back here again. It was a brief aside to the same discussion.

    (aside from the fact that you’re equivocating about the word “continually”).

    Where has the word even come up in our discussion???

    And my assumptions are still irrelevant. Until you present the formal explication of your Universal, Unchanging Laws of Logic™, and your formal theory of truth, which accomodates Gettier objections, then all you’re doing is presenting your beliefs.

    By what standard of reasoning am I absolutely obliged to do so, how do you account for that standard, and why does that standard necessarily apply to me? I have given you my justification for the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic, in that they are derived from the very character of God. You may not like my justification, but for the umpteenth time, what is yours?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Is anyone else reminded of #175 from this list?

    Yeah, me too.


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