A Clarification on the Theist's Guide

I feel as though I need to clarify something.

In my Ebon Musings essay, “The Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists“, I wrote that I would link to any theist who was willing to post a list of things they would accept as proof that atheism is true. That offer has been open since I first posted the essay in 2001; it is still open now and will remain open as long as practical.

However, for me to consider your essay a valid answer to that challenge, it must answer the question I actually posed: What argument or observation could convince you to not believe in God? If what your essay argues is, “You could never persuade me to not believe in God and here’s why,” then you are not answering the question that I asked. I will not link to responses that do not give a legitimate answer to this question.

In fact, responses of this nature emphasize my point rather than contradict it: for most theists, belief in God is an unfalsifiable construct bearing no relation to the facts of the world. That is what I wrote at the beginning of the Theist’s Guide:

Many theists, by their own admission, structure their beliefs so that no evidence could possibly disprove them. In short, they are closed-minded, and have been taught to be closed-minded.

What this means is that, for me to account your answer valid, it must consist of something that we could, at least in principle, either agree upon or discover to be true. This rules out logical impossibilities, such as “I would become an atheist if I died and then discovered that there was no consciousness after death.” (I’ve heard that one.) It also rules out counterfactual statements – saying that you would cease to believe in God only if the world was different than it is, for example, that you would become an atheist if there were no such thing as love or goodness. (I’ve heard both of those as well.)

If all the items that would drive you to atheism are counterfactuals, i.e., things that we already know not to be true, then what you’re essentially saying is that there are no possible discoveries that would make you an atheist, and you have again failed to respond to the point of the challenge. This would be like me saying, “The only possible thing that would make me believe in God would be if the world was a perfect paradise that contained no death, evil or suffering.” I think most theists would consider this unfair, and rightfully so. I’m ruling out their answer from the start by making my belief contingent on something that we already know is not true.

Now, if you’re arguing that you would cease to believe in God if some particular, widely held proposition were falsified, that is a different matter. But in that case, I’d expect that you would supplement this answer by explaining what evidence would falsify the proposition in question. On the other hand, when someone says they’d be an atheist only if there was no love in the world, that’s clearly not their intent. They’re not imagining a discovery that might be made in this world, but speculating that they’d be an atheist in a different world altogether. I trust that the difference between those two things is clear.

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  • Christopher

    Ebonmuse,

    This rules out logical impossibilities, such as “I would become an atheist if I died and then discovered that there was no consciousness after death.” (I’ve heard that one.)

    Actually, I did know a guy back in college who lost his faith for that very reason: he was involed in a snowboarding accident and died three times on the operating table – and experienced absolutely nothing. This experienced convinced him that religion was a lie and he stopped believing in the supernatural altogether.

    I’ll admit that the odds of such things occuring are unlikely, but they aren’t logically impossible…

  • Eric

    This seems to me to mainly be a question of leaving a line of retreat.

  • Adrian

    This would be like me saying, “The only possible thing that would make me believe in God would be if the world was a perfect paradise that contained no death, evil or suffering.” I think most theists would consider this unfair, and rightfully so.

    I think that’s a legitimate statement if we agreed that “God” is all-powerful and all-loving. It is an unfair statement if we’re talking about any gods, however. Which means:

    On the other hand, when someone says they’d be an atheist only if there was no love in the world, that’s clearly not their intent. They’re not imagining a discovery that might be made in this world, but speculating that they’d be an atheist in a different world altogether.

    In fact that may be a legitimate statement if this person first says that the only possible source of love in this world is from God. We may disagree on the premises but with that in place, it’s not such an incorrect statement. The real question should be why they think that love is incompatible with atheism and get them to say what would falsify that premise. The same thing with the earlier atheists, if they state their premise that an all-powerful, all-loving god is incompatible with the observed suffering then it is perfectly rational to say that only a perfect paradise would convince them.

    What’s wrong with saying that your beliefs would be different but only if the world itself was different? Our beliefs form in this world.

  • TommyP

    One thing that I enjoy so much about rational discourse is it’s ability to admit to refinements and clarification. I think that the desire for clarity and accurate communication of ideas is one of the primary differences between atheism in general, and theism in general.
    Clarity and an honest attempt to reach an intelligible conclusion are things that were really lacking from my old Christian faith. Good to see so many people and so many good books that are stepping up to the task of clarity.

  • Leum

    I agree with Adrian. I’ve concluded that it would be almost impossible for me to become religious again, because the sort of evidence that most religious people say they’ve had (i.e. revelation) is so easily attributed to confirmation bias, hallucination, emotional desire, etc.

    In other words, I find this universe to be one in which God’s existence is either counter factual or entirely indemonstrable. A theist would probably feel the same way, that the a universe lacking God is contrary to the universe we have.

    Eric’s idea of attempting to imagine a world without (or with) God is the best way to know if your ideas are wrong, but I don’t think it’s sufficient, especially for people who define God as the source of love and goodness.

  • Leum

    Ack! Eric’s idea of attempting to imagine a world without (or with) God is the best way to know if your ideas are wrong is good, but I don’t think it’s sufficient, especially for people who define God as the source of love and goodness.

  • John

    In our world today we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God; for me, it is experiential faith. For me, atheism is false, for you atheism is true. You have no proof of God’s nonexistence, and I have no empirical proof of His existence. It is and always has been a matter of faith.

  • http://www.wayofthemind.org/ Pedro Timóteo

    John, can you, for once, actually comment on a post while reading it in full, and the linked article as well?

  • http://thereisnobeep.blogspot.com/ heliobates

    John, can you, for once, actually comment on a post while reading it in full, and the linked article as well?

    The chances of that happening are exactly equal to the chance that the FSM will give me my Beer Volcano in time for Christmas, instead of making me wait for the afterlife like every other schmuck.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Well, since Ebonmuse is talking about my response to Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists (TGTCA), I suppose I have to get in the mix here, but I was really hoping to take a break from the blogoshpere for second. Pre-emptive apologies for the verbosity; it’s just my style when to be thorough during legit debate.

    Backstory: Some time ago, Greta Christina had a post on her blog where she exposited on Ebonmuse’s questions as delineated in TGTCA. In fact, Greta’s post was how I learned of Daylight Atheism in the first place. The questions and arguments from TGTCA popped in and out of my head for quite a few months before I decided to give them a tackle. I spewed out maybe 800 words on the subject and sent it to Ebonmuse. He came by my blog and left a thoughtful comment about developing hypotheses on how random processes might produce non-racemic mixtures, and how this relates to the phenomenon of homochirality found universally in the double-helix. I was hoping he would link to the post and reproduce snippets of the arguments from it so that you all could rip on them your best, but that never happened. After about six weeks, I noticed he still hadn’t made any mention of it, whereas he made prompt mention of both previous responses. Out of curiosity, I emailed Adam to see what was up, and he politely explained he felt my post didn’t meet the criteria. Such, I believe, is the likely motivation behind today’s post.

    Ebonmuse references a perfunctory argument I made, that I admitted was not logical and an oxymoron, in the opening body of my response, and well before stating any logically supportable arguments:

    If it were possible for me to feel this (an oxymoron in itself, I know) then I might be convinced that my belief in God and the afterlife was mistaken. Since experiencing a cessation of consciousness seems impossible, what else might persuade me I was wrong? (emph. mine)

    To this end, Christopher’s comment at the top of the thread was tangentially interesting:

    I did know a guy back in college who lost his faith for that very reason: he was involed in a snowboarding accident and died three times on the operating table – and experienced absolutely nothing.

    Epicurus might take issue with this idea of “experiencing nothing.” Other questions arise: Was your friend really dead? How do the doctors know? Because the machine said so? Last time I checked, death was still a curious phenomenon that remained aloof to empiricism. I can imagine of posthumous situations that would make me think my beliefs were mistaken in a heartbeat, and posthumous consciouness would immediately render most stripes of atheism void. At any rate, I wasn’t offering “experiencing a cessation of consciousness” as any respectable answer to TGTCA in the first place; it was a perfunctory argument. I simply expanded on the questions TGTCA asked and contemplated them posthumously.

    When I developed my response, I thought about Ebonmuse’s question from two angles: things that might convince me before I died, and things that might convince me after I died. BTW, I think Ebonmuse should further clarify the criteria by stating whether or not it has to occur before biological death. Granted, most atheists believe life = (birth – death), but concepts of an afterlife need not be inherently synonymous with God or religion – especially in a logical discussion, where it might actually harm the discussion if we operate from such a presumption. If there is some sort of afterlife, it could be very different than the afterlife your average Christian, Jew or Hindu might be expecting. Therefore, direct posthumous experience of something radically different than what was expected while corporeal would be a powerful confirmation that the beliefs one held while corporeal indeed were mistaken. If a believer dies, and Zeus is like, “Jesus ain’t here…” that would be evidence supporting the case that believer’s presumptions about the God and the afterlife were false. I also realize this approach presumes an afterlife, and that’s why I had decided beforehand to approach the question from both sides of biological existence.

    As far as the second category of things that might “prove atheism was true,” things that might persuade me on this side of biological death, let’s get straight to the point:

    “Many theists, by their own admission, structure their beliefs so that no evidence could possibly disprove them…” (Ebonmuse, TGTCA)

    To this I originally replied,

    What Ebonmuse says is certainly true; many (perhaps even most) theists are indeed a hard-headed, non-intellectual breed. But the hidden assumption is that religious beliefs or God’s existence falls into the category of falsifiable phenomena. Evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs, and to even ask for evidence refuting or confirming God’s existence is to presuppose that God’s existence is a falsifiable construct.

    I myself don’t think God is a falsifiable construct, so this applies to me in a sense, but please note that well-reasoned and logically supportable conclusions should not be viewed as being on equal par with smug and shallow fundamentalist denial. Sure, in a very literal way, my beliefs are structured so that no evidence can disprove them, but not in the context of a conscious or subconscious retreat from empiricism. IOW, I don’t think you can turn over a rock, discover some star, or discern something new and illuminating about Planck time that will ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ God.

    “But what about Charles Darwin, sir?” So what? “What about the Big Bang, sir?” So what? “What about all these cases from neurology?” So what? These are just facts, and facts are often far more silent than the mouths of those who would profit from them. I approach God much like I approach Planck time or the concept of what might have been before the Bang – with humility, awe, wonder, even fear. After all, “the universe” could kill us all just as quickly, and probably more remorselessly as well.

    One of the things I offered was “an absence of love.” Ebonmuse rejected this as “asking that the world be something different than it is,” and to that I rebut although love need not be presumed inherently theist, as Adrian noted above, reasoning from the harmony of the disparate but near-universal occurrence of love in the world and the assumption that God is love, an absence of love would not only be valid evidence that an all-loving God didn’t, but also empirical evidence. So in a sense, although I’ve not offered empirical evidence that would “prove atheism true” for me, I have offered a very real empirical potentiality.

    And last, but not least -

    Regarding facts that would make me think my particular beliefs about the Bible were wrong, or that the idea of an afterlife was mistaken, well how can anything prove that but direct, empirical experience? I suppose facts could arise that demonstrate the falsity of the Bible, and the strongest issue I have at the moment is the whole controversy over Luke, Quirinius and the census. But even granting that the Bible is wrong about this, such a discovery need not ripple so hard as to justify abandoning the ideas of God and an afterlife entirely.

    Either way, my short answer to Ebonmuse’s “challenge” he poses to believers in TGTCA is that you can’t prove a negative. Therefore, it’s both ironic and illogical for any atheist to ask a believer,

    …to respond by preparing a list of things that they would accept as proof that atheism is true.

    It’s illogical because one can’t prove a negative. It’s ironic, because when believers ask atheists to ‘prove’ there’s no God, traditional atheist responses include shifting the burden of proof, or citing the fact that you can’t prove a negative.

    This side of death, the best a human can roll with is an interpretation of life that accounts for macroexistence and harmonizes with each of our own unique microexistences as well. As such, aside from manifestation, what new ‘fact’ can ‘prove’ atheism or theism? That’s difficult, especially since we are a diverse breed and we each walk different walks at different times. I chose to believe there was a God a long time ago, and to this day what I learn, see and experience continues to harmonize with that belief. Sure, new challenges can and do arise, but they nearly always deepen my understanding as opposed to questioning it.

    Although I realize TGTCA is offered with the probable intention of being a healthy and potentially paradigm-shifting intellectual exercise, and I agree that it is, please note that Ebonmuse is essentially asking believers to prove a negative.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    In fact that may be a legitimate statement if this person first says that the only possible source of love in this world is from God. We may disagree on the premises but with that in place, it’s not such an incorrect statement.

    Adrian, I think that’s actually the entire point. A belief in God is not a conclusion –it’s a premise. And in the forms that most people hold the belief, it’s one that can’t be falsified. (Or else it has been falsified — such as with young- earth creationism — but it’s so well armored that it persists despite having been falsified.)

    And a premise that can’t possible be falsified by any possible evidence isn’t a useful premise. A hypothesis that will be confirmed by any possible outcome — such as the hypothesis that all love comes from God — isn’t a useful hypothesis.

    Ebon has listed a number of possible outcomes that would convince him his atheism was incorrect. This makes his atheism a substantially different animal than a religious belief that will be supported by confirmation bias no matter what happens.

  • Justin

    It’s illogical because one can’t prove a negative.

    There is no green cheese on the Moon. You could argue we don’t really know that, but we know it beyond a reasonable doubt. I could also argue why we know that, but that’s getting off topic.

    Sure, in a very literal way, my beliefs are structured so that no evidence can disprove them, but not in the context of a conscious or subconscious retreat from empiricism.

    Empiricism is belief based on some sort of evidence. If you use evidence for your claims, then your claims are falsifiable. If your claims could not (potentially) be disproven by any evidence, then you are avoiding empiricism.

  • Alex Weaver

    In our world today we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God; for me, it is experiential faith. For me, atheism is false, for you atheism is true. You have no proof of God’s nonexistence, and I have no empirical proof of His existence. It is and always has been a matter of faith.

    This would be reasonable if it didn’t rely on the intellectually dishonest but popular belief that a proposition does not default to “false” unless sufficient evidence is found to support it.

  • John

    Ok then Pedro,

    I did read this article, but not “the linked article.” So I read the linked article per your suggestion, and I found my wee little response on subject. However, I thought to respond to the linked article which asked for;

    “Scientific knowledge in holy books that wasn’t available at the time.”

    So I submit to you one of the theories for the origin of life. You will of course trivialize this. The Bible clearly states that God created life out of dust, which is clay. I would not at all be surprised that in the future, scientists will have proven that clay is where life started. Then of course there is the field of physics, which has the greatest percentage of theists than the other sciences. How we got from an impossibly small point of energy(temperature) to a universe of increasing complexity through pure chance and no ID is also a quantum leap of faith.

    I have included some Bible verses, and 2 secular links

    Gen 2:7 And Jehovah God formeth the man–dust(clay) from the ground, and breatheth into his nostrils breath of life, and the man becometh a living creature.

    Job 10:9 Remember, I pray Thee, That as clay Thou hast made me, And unto dust Thou dost bring me back.

    Job 33:6 Lo, I am , according to thy word, for God, From the clay I–I also, have been formed.

    http://www.origins.rpi.edu/clayandtheoriginsoflife.html

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1864&theme=Printer

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Justin, you said,

    If you use evidence for your claims, then your claims are falsifiable.

    I disagree, and so do you, unless you want to say that ID and YEC are falsifiable. People use evidence to advance unfalsifiable claims all the time.

    The correct statement, and the one more aligned with traditional interpretations of falsifiability used in scientific and philosophical circles, would be, “If your claims can be proven false, then your claims are falsifiable.”

    Alex Weaver,

    You make a note about what you call the

    …intellectually dishonest but popular belief that a proposition does not default to “false” unless sufficient evidence is found to support it.

    Could you clarify what you’re saying here?

  • Alex Weaver

    It’s the alternative to the “null hypothesis” approach to conclusion-forming.

  • Adrian

    Maybe I can elaborate a little bit on my original response, especially in the light of so many articulate follow-ups.

    I believe that the only things which would convince me that an all-powerful, all-loving God exists would be a dramatically different world. I simply cannot see any way to reconcile these attributes with observation. I consider this god to be falsified and I think this is a perfectly rational, reasoned position so I get a little miffed when Ebonmuse implies that this position is obstinate or unreasonable. I think the same thing is true if we’re talking about a theist who defines God to be “love”. With that starting point, it is perfectly reasonable to say that the only thing that would convince them that God/love doesn’t exist is an absence of love. Instead of saying that this is irrational or “unfair” I think the proper response would be to address the underlying issues, that of definitions. When we take “god” to mean something other than “all-powerful and all-loving creator” then my argument fails. If we take “god” to mean something other than merely “love” then the theistic argument fails. Frankly I think that the claim that God is totally, 100% synonymous with love is absurd – read the bible and replace “God” or “Lord” with “love” and it reads like a nonsense poem. However, some pantheists (panentheists?) may in fact believe this. It doesn’t make it unfair.

    Gretta C says that a belief in God isn’t a conclusion but a premise. Perhaps it may be in some and there are presuppositionalists who argue that this is fair and good. But many disagree and think that their belief in God is a conclusion based on evidence and reason, and it is to these people that I think these posts are aimed. If a person says they have no rational basis for belief then no reasoned argument will change their minds. There are people who do think that a belief in God is justified by reason and evidence and I think the Theist’s Guide is an attempt to get them to make these reasons explicit in order to expose the underlying illogic. When someone as cl has done above, tries to lay out their arguments and find themselves having to say that God is no less but no more than “love”, you quickly see that love doesn’t resurrect, doesn’t think, doesn’t promise, doesn’t write, doesn’t act, doesn’t create, doesn’t listen to prayer, doesn’t respond, doesn’t do anything, it merely is. While cl may not see it, this argument reduces God to something so far removed from the bible that he is less than the weakest deist. In the fight to reinflate God to a proper god status, I think cl will quickly have to abandon this position and make a mockery of his arguments. Perhaps one day he will see this, perhaps not. Some people will and that’s what matters.

  • Alex Weaver

    So I submit to you one of the theories for the origin of life. You will of course trivialize this. The Bible clearly states that God created life out of dust, which is clay. I would not at all be surprised that in the future, scientists will have proven that clay is where life started.

    The Bible says that fully adult modern species of animals were formed from terrestrial dust (clay?) by Yahweh’s direct action, and endowed with life, in that form, with a miracle. It is known conclusively that this did not actually happen. Saying that this is “close enough,” to some hypothetical role clay substrates may have played in the formation and perpetuation of early self-replicating organic molecules, that the Biblical version “predicts” the latter version is ridiculous on its face. It is as absurd as saying that the fact that the n-body problem in physics can only be solved exactly for less than three bodies is proof that the Creator intended for sexual relations to take place only in one monogamous marriage per person per life. If you’re going to set the bar for “corroboration” this absurdly low then almost ANY passage in the Bible – or in Shakespeare, or Mother Goose, for that matter – can be twisted to “corroborate” some later discovery or another.

    …that’s the point, isn’t it?

    Then of course there is the field of physics, which has the greatest percentage of theists than the other sciences.

    Citation plz?

    How we got from an impossibly small point of energy(temperature) to a universe of increasing complexity through pure chance and no ID is also a quantum leap of faith.

    In other words, if you can’t get your mind around it, it couldn’t happen?

    *ponders* I can’t imagine the Daylight Atheism commenter known as John ever having been born.

    …didn’t work, did it?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    The following is relevant to John’s comment, November 15, 2008, 6:00 pm, which I am neither defending nor attacking. I’m no geologist nor do I hold a Ph.D in biology, but among other quandaries, Genesis does assert that man’s body was composed of the dust of the earth. Genesis 2:7 reads, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” The Hebrew word used to denote dust in this passage is apar, and as opposed to dirt, many definitions of apar refer to the fine or porous particles of the earth, often alluding specifically to “clay, dirt, or lumps of earth.” Today, science confirms that the protoplasm which forms man’s flesh is a composition of (I’m going off the top of my head here) oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous, chlorine, sulfur, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, silicon, iodine, fluorine, manganese, etc. At least some of these can be reasonably described as dust, even more specifically the porous or fine particles of the Earth, and I’d bet at least some of them are present in clay as well. Interesting, either way.

    @ Alex Weaver,

    It’s the alternative to the “null hypothesis” approach to conclusion-forming.

    What do you offer as the best conclusion-forming approach?

    @ Adrian,

    You said,

    When someone as cl has done above, tries to lay out their arguments and find themselves having to say that God is no less but no more than “love”, you quickly see that love doesn’t resurrect, doesn’t think, doesn’t promise, doesn’t write, doesn’t act, doesn’t create, doesn’t listen to prayer, doesn’t respond, doesn’t do anything, it merely is. While cl may not see it, this argument reduces God to something so far removed from the bible that he is less than the weakest deist. In the fight to reinflate God to a proper god status, I think cl will quickly have to abandon this position and make a mockery of his arguments. Perhaps one day he will see this, perhaps not. Some people will and that’s what matters.

    Um, excuse me but why do I have to abandon my argument or make mockery of it on account of your own failure to properly articulate it? What matters to me is that people see what I actually believe and stated as opposed to your incorrect caricaturization of it. Adrian, the argument offered in my response to TGTCA was not that “God is no less but no more than love.” Rather, I posited the absence of love in our world as one of a few things I would accept as suggestive of the nonexistence of the God I believe in. BIG difference, but then again, since Ebonmuse didn’t link to my OP I can’t fault you that hard for not catching this.

  • Justin

    Justin, you said,

    If you use evidence for your claims, then your claims are falsifiable.

    I disagree, and so do you, unless you want to say that ID and YEC are falsifiable. People use evidence to advance unfalsifiable claims all the time.
    The correct statement, and the one more aligned with traditional interpretations of falsifiability used in scientific and philosophical circles, would be, “If your claims can be proven false, then your claims are falsifiable.”

    YEC has already been falsified; we know the Earth is more than 6000 years old and took more than 6 days to form. The “evidence” for ID stems from an argument from lack of imagination, i.e. the idea that life couldn’t form on its own. I could as easily point to the inefficiency of the human body as evidence that there wasn’t a “designer” involved (at least not an intelligent one). Neither instance gives a good standard of evidence; it’s speculation.

    Today, science confirms that the protoplasm which forms man’s flesh is a composition of (I’m going off the top of my head here) oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous, chlorine, sulfur, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, silicon, iodine, fluorine, manganese, etc. At least some of these can be reasonably described as dust, even more specifically the porous or fine particles of the Earth, and I’d bet at least some of them are present in clay as well. Interesting, either way.

    The Bible doesn’t list these elements, nor does it state with any specificity how life began. It just says that Goddidit. I don’t think its a stretch to say that the ancient Hebrew people thought that the material for the human body came from the Earth (where else would they think it came from?) but since the Bible is not specific on this point, I’m not that impressed. (Besides, hydrogen is usually found in water on Earth and nitrogen is usually found in gas form).

    If the Bible had said, “Lo, I create thee from carbon, the element with six protons in its nucleus…” your argument would carry greater weight. Surely the all-knowing creator of the universe could be more specific than to say “dust” “clay” or even “particulate matter.” If the writers of the Bible had included a meticulously-detailed explanation of evolution and every part was correct, then that would be enough proof for me.

  • John

    Alex,

    “The Bible says that fully adult modern species of animals were formed from terrestrial dust (clay?) by Yahweh’s direct action, and endowed with life, in that form, with a miracle. The Bible says that fully adult modern species of animals were formed from terrestrial dust (clay?) by Yahweh’s direct action, and endowed with life, in that form, with a miracle. It is known conclusively that this did not actually happen. Saying that this is “close enough,” to some hypothetical role clay substrates may have played in the formation and perpetuation of early self-replicating organic molecules, that the Biblical version “predicts” the latter version is ridiculous on its face.”

    Yes, and if interpeted literally, The Bible has the age of the earth at 5,700 years. Our time scale is totally irrelevant in The Bible.

    The point is The Bible clearly states that God breathed life into the clay. So according to The Bible, life came into being from clay. I do not take the creation of Adam as one human being, rather Adam consists of all of us, and Christ also consists of all of us. We are the body of Adam and we are the body of Christ. The body of Adam was created out of clay, and this could have taken billions of years of evolving. For God a billion years is nothing.

    I have been searching for “a citation.”

    “In other words, if you can’t get your mind around it, it couldn’t happen?”

    But the “Big Bang” did happen. You’re right, I can’t get my mind around it. What a concept, no matter, just pure energy existing for who knows how long. No that’s wrong, time began with the Bang. No wonder Dr. Crick, an atheist, proposed transpermia as his belief on the appearance of DNA. He couldn’t believe DNA would arise on its own.

  • Alex Weaver

    Yes, and if interpeted literally, The Bible has the age of the earth at 5,700 years. Our time scale is totally irrelevant in The Bible.

    What parts of the Bible are not meant to be taken literally, and how do you tell?

    The point is The Bible clearly states that God breathed life into the clay.

    If interpreted literally.

    So according to The Bible, life came into being from clay.

    If interpreted literally.

    I do not take the creation of Adam as one human being, rather Adam consists of all of us, and Christ also consists of all of us. We are the body of Adam and we are the body of Christ. The body of Adam was created out of clay, and this could have taken billions of years of evolving. For God a billion years is nothing.

    How does any of that follow from the text?

    But the “Big Bang” did happen. You’re right, I can’t get my mind around it. What a concept, no matter, just pure energy existing for who knows how long. No that’s wrong, time began with the Bang. No wonder Dr. Crick, an atheist, proposed transpermia as his belief on the appearance of DNA. He couldn’t believe DNA would arise on its own.

    It’s easier once one gets over the arrogant insistence that the functioning of the universe conform to one’s intuition. (And if you realize that matter and energy are different manifestations of the same thing, rather than separate phenomena).

  • Alex Weaver

    What do you offer as the best conclusion-forming approach?

    Somewhat clumsily phrased since I’m in a hurry.

    There are two basic methods. One, which I attempted to encapsulate briefly by a reference to the null hypothesis, is to start by assuming all positive propositions false until sufficient evidence is offered to support them, and to actively look for evidence that would confirm or falsify propositions. The other uses the following rules of thumb:

    1) Any proposition must be proven either true or false. A proposition that has not been decisively falsified, no matter how implausible, illogical, or lacking in evidence, is “up in the air” and taking a position on it is at best a matter of opinion (see 4, below).

    2) If one wants a proposition to be true, believing it is justified if it cannot be shown to be a known impossibility. If one wants it to be true badly enough, the exception for propositions that have been shown to be known impossibilities may be disregarded, and the known impossibility of that proposition is treated under rule 3 below.

    3) If one does not want a proposition to be true, no rationalization is too contrived, contorted, or flimsy in order to dispose of evidence provided to support it.

    4) If all else fails, pretend that the objective character of reality is a matter not of fact or even “opinion” but of “taste” (IE, a purely subjective personal feeling with no meaningful standard of truth or falsity).

    In other words, there’s scientific (slightly liberal usage) thinking and wishful thinking. I believe that granting the validity of the concept of “legitimacy by results” in principle is sufficient to prove the superiority of the former.

  • Alex Weaver

    I’m no geologist nor do I hold a Ph.D in biology, but among other quandaries, Genesis does assert that man’s body was composed of the dust of the earth. Genesis 2:7 reads, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” The Hebrew word used to denote dust in this passage is apar, and as opposed to dirt, many definitions of apar refer to the fine or porous particles of the earth, often alluding specifically to “clay, dirt, or lumps of earth.” Today, science confirms that the protoplasm which forms man’s flesh is a composition of (I’m going off the top of my head here) oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous, chlorine, sulfur, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, silicon, iodine, fluorine, manganese, etc. At least some of these can be reasonably described as dust, even more specifically the porous or fine particles of the Earth, and I’d bet at least some of them are present in clay as well. Interesting, either way.

    There’s a simpler explanation, namely that the ancient Hebrews assumed that living things had been made in a manner consistent with the pottery they were at least passingly familiar with. In light of this, seeing the reference to “dust” as a very oblique and cryptic reference to elements in the body that are crumbly, crystalline solids in their elemental form (in which most of them are rarely if ever found in nature) is kind of like insisting that the repeated patterns of the number 13 on the back of the US dollar bill are evidence of the Illuminati (I’ve heard that one).

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Justin,

    When is something falsifiable in your opinion? Earlier you said,

    If you use evidence for your claims, then your claims are falsifiable.

    Is not the correct definition of falsifiability something that can be proven false? For example YEC as you point out? (I shouldn’t of listed YEC anyway; that was a bad example. ID, however, or the theory that God created life, are not falsifiable), but people provide evidence they believe supports these claims left and right, so explain the contradiction between your definition of falsifiability – because to me, something is falsifiable if we can prove it wrong; not just because we use evidence to support it.

    You also said,

    If the Bible had said, “Lo, I create thee from carbon, the element with six protons in its nucleus…” your argument would carry greater weight. Surely the all-knowing creator of the universe could be more specific than to say “dust” “clay” or even “particulate matter.” If the writers of the Bible had included a meticulously-detailed explanation of evolution and every part was correct, then that would be enough proof for me.

    I hear variations of this argument often. Ebonmuse phrased his something like, “If Jesus would have said, ‘Verily I say unto you the speed of light is E=mc2,” then he would believe. I don’t expect you to be impressed by these types of arguments, and I don’t by any means offer them as ‘proofs’ of God or the Bible’s divine authorship. Interestingly, though, the writers of the Bible were more specific; as noted, the Hebrew apar also refers to the ‘fine or porous particles of the Earth’ – very similar to your request of ‘particulate matter.’

    Alex Weaver,

    In light of this, seeing the reference to “dust” as a very oblique and cryptic reference to elements in the body that are crumbly, crystalline solids in their elemental form (in which most of them are rarely if ever found in nature) is kind of like insisting that the repeated patterns of the number 13 on the back of the US dollar bill are evidence of the Illuminati (I’ve heard that one).

    No offense but your analogy fails badly IMO.

  • Alex Weaver

    The common element is “ignoring a simple and fairly straightforward, if not outright obvious, explanation in favor of one that’s cryptic, oblique, and quite possibly purely the backward projection of one’s own attitude and prejudices onto a somewhat incomplete record of the thoughts of now-dead individuals, essentially because one finds the latter explanation more satisfying emotionally.”

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

    CL said,

    It’s illogical because one can’t prove a negative. It’s ironic, because when believers ask atheists to ‘prove’ there’s no God, traditional atheist responses include shifting the burden of proof, or citing the fact that you can’t prove a negative.

    It’s not that you can’t prove a negative. Negatives can be proved. Such as Justin pointing out that you can prove that the moon is not made out of cheese by going there and bring back rocks that are not made out of cheese. Simple enough. What my beef with atheists being asked by theists to prove that no God exists is that the claim of God’s existance is an extraordinary claim.

    IOW, If you claim something that I am going to be skeptical about, why should the burden of proof be on me when I am not actually making the claim. The claim that God exists is, in my opinion, an extraordinary claim and as such it requires extraordinary evidence.

    Here’s an example. If I claim that I ate a hamburger, would you want proof of that? Probably not. That’s not really an extraordinary claim. Now, if I claimed that I ate a dinosaurburger, you’d want to see evidence. It would not be fair of me to require that you prove that I didn’t eat a dinosaurburger. As a matter of fact, you’d have a hard time proving that I didn’t, even though the claim is ridiculous. The burden of proof should be on the one making the extraordinary claim.

  • Leum

    “Fine or porous particles of the earth” isn’t a very meaningful term. Sediment fineness is related to weathering, and porosity is largely due to crystal formation and/or the manner of deposition*. So while most of the chemicals found in the human body could be found in fine or porous sediments, there’s nothing special about that: virtually all elements and chemicals common to Earth can be found in sediments.

    Still, if evidence emerged that abiogenesis occurred in porous silt or mud, I would at least concede that “apar” was not an inaccurate term (though still a horribly imprecise one).

    *Some solids are almost never porous, others may or may not be depending on how tightly interlocked they are. Sand, for example, can be made less porous when subjected to moderate heat and pressure (creating sandstone) or not at all porous if metamorphosed.

  • Justin

    When is something falsifiable in your opinion?

    My view of falsifiability is that if evidence could prove a claim, different evidence could disprove it. For example, someone might use their vantage point on Earth to conclude the planet is flat, but satellite imagery would be evidence that the Earth is a (near-perfect) sphere.

    to me, something is falsifiable if we can prove it wrong; not just because we use evidence to support it.

    My argument was that if you use evidence to support a claim, then it follows that evidence could forseeably disprove your claim. It doesn’t mean that someone will disprove it if given enough time, just that it is possible. You said, however that

    in a very literal way, my beliefs are structured so that no evidence can disprove them

    so therefore your beliefs are unfalsifiable.

  • Christopher

    cl,

    Epicurus might take issue with this idea of “experiencing nothing.”

    But he wouldn’t take exception to the concept of death being final – after all, he did say “when death is I am not, when I am death is not – why should I fear that which shall be when I am not?” The point is this: he had no experience of an afterlife, which religion said he would have – end of story.

    Other questions arise: Was your friend really dead? How do the doctors know? Because the machine said so?

    The only reason death has become complicated in our society is because we have mechanisms capable of restarted organs that have ceased to function – ancient man (the inventors of religion) had no such mechanisms and for them death was a simple affair. If a person’s heart wasn’t beating and he wasn’t breathing, he was counted as dead.

    As far as my old college classmate goes, he met that standard and would have been counted as dead by the (now dead themselves) creators of religion. And that’s all that matters in his book.

  • equine potamuse

    One of the principal problems with religion is that there are so many of them. So many religions, so many sects… Who’s got the right one? The other guys sound just as convinced. Are they all deluded, denying the Truth to serve their own selfishness, or maybe worshiping demons? And yet, believers tell us that God (or Jesus, or whoever) often speaks directly to them, letting them know that — at least — He is there.

    So here’s an experiment that can quickly determine who’s got the actual Truth, the correct interpretation of scripture, the pipeline to the Holy One: Have those to whom God has revealed Himself ask Him to tell them the digits of a sequence of random numbers, given to each of them separately and simultaneously. It is not mind-reading or communication between humans since the numbers are not ours, but His. A test that can serve no purpose on Earth except to help us fallible humans find Him; how could He resist? Those who agree on the same sequence — a hundred digits will do fine; no obvious sequences, please! No Pi! — are clearly listening to Him, and others who stumble will be unmasked as the shameful pretenders they are, and justly cast into the outer darkness. (From whence they still may, like the prodigal son, find their way home.)

    This would be a nice test if only to show that there are not even two people who know the same God. Maybe there are instead, six-and-a-half billion Gods.

  • Brad

    To cl,

    (1) Why do you think “evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs”? In a presuppositional system where we work for best explanations (based preferably on minimal assumptions and maximal explanatory power), then something need not be completely falsifiable or verifiable to fit into a best explanation, does it?

    (2) Why do you think God is an unfalsifiable construct? What kind of attributes in God make him lend to explaining the universe but not falsified by it?

    (3) Do you think God is a verifiable construct? If no, then on what basis do you think one may believe/disbelieve? If yes, do you think God has been verified? Following up on that – If no, then do you use God as a “best explanation” of the universe+world? If yes, by what has God been verified?

    I have offered a very real empirical potentiality.

    A “potentiality” in a different possible world – which to my mind is not “very real.” I think that although such philosophizing about “counterfactuals” is interesting, it is beside the point. Like I said in my response to you on your blog,

    I don’t regard your postulations of the “cessation of consciousness” and the “complete and total absence of love in the world” as belief-killers to be valid critera, since they require a different world than the one we are in. I think I should qualify Ebonmuse’s request for “a list of things that they would accept as proof that atheism is true” to only include things that do not already contradict facts of this world. To do otherwise, like you do, is an exercise in theoretical philosophy, which is not of genuinely practical concern here.

    To John and cl,

    Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

    Genesis 2:7

    Notice that Genesis says man was created from dust. Genesis didn’t say biological life was created from dust, or even set up the universe in the way that man would come from other life (as in Common Descent). This means to hold this interpretation of Genesis and stay consistent, we have to take it semi-literally and semi-metaphorically.

    My question is, if the Hebrews were to make up a myth of where man came from, would it be improbable for them to look to the ground? I mean, they obviously noticed that humans mysteriously “went into” the Earth, why wouldn’t they posit that their god created them out of it?

  • Brad

    Oh, and John,

    In our world today we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God; for me, it is experiential faith.

    Do you mean you experience God? What do you mean by “faith”? Please elaborate.

  • TEP

    I’m no geologist nor do I hold a Ph.D in biology, but among other quandaries, Genesis does assert that man’s body was composed of the dust of the earth. Genesis 2:7 reads, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” The Hebrew word used to denote dust in this passage is apar, and as opposed to dirt, many definitions of apar refer to the fine or porous particles of the earth, often alluding specifically to “clay, dirt, or lumps of earth.” Today, science confirms that the protoplasm which forms man’s flesh is a composition of (I’m going off the top of my head here) oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous, chlorine, sulfur, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, silicon, iodine, fluorine, manganese, etc. At least some of these can be reasonably described as dust, even more specifically the porous or fine particles of the Earth, and I’d bet at least some of them are present in clay as well. Interesting, either way.

    Science also shows that paper is comprised of cellulose, which contains carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. What is interesting to note is that ethanol also contains carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Hence, they must make paper out of ethanol.

    And furthermore, the other day I heard someone suggest that humans were created from barrels of radioactive waste from an alien nuclear power plant. Well, science today confirms that humans are comprised of atoms, as is radioactive waste. I guess that must be evidence that the guy might have been onto something!

  • terrence

    For you, gravity is true. For me, gravity is false. It is and always has been a matter of faith. I’m going off to my daily cliff jump now.

  • mike

    Notice that Genesis says man was created from dust. Genesis didn’t say biological life was created from dust, or even set up the universe in the way that man would come from other life (as in Common Descent).

    Comment by: Brad | November 16, 2008, 10:49 am

    Not to mention that the Genesis 2 creation story (which is the one that mentions dust) has humans being created before any other animals.

  • john

    Alex,

    You have a very good point. Do I just pick and choose what is literal and what is spiritual. It is all spiritual – the spiritual(unseen) will manifest in this plane.
    My personal study of His Word is far from complete. I don’t have all the answers, and I doubt I ever will in this life.

    Rom 1:20 for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world, by the things made being understood, are plainly seen, both His eternal power and Godhead–to their being inexcusable;

    To others trying to understand dust/clay here is a verse which says dust and clay are the same. There are many more verses to testify to this. If science finally proves that life came from clay, I will just chuckle.

    Job 10:9 Remember, I pray Thee, That as clay Thou hast made me, And unto dust Thou dost bring me back.

    Brad,
    Yes I have experienced God, and “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)
    I will not go into how I experience God, for it is off topic, and not only that, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

    I merely posted a reply to Ebon’s challenge. Will this be enough? No.

    Mike,
    Genesis doesn’t mention a lot of things. What is a few billion years of our time to God? Just the blink of an eye. Everything mentioned in The Bible has already happened. Not for us to be sure, but “the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”(ecc1:9) Gen 1 has the order you are looking for, gen 2 is a different account of creation, concentrating on the making of man.

  • Brad

    Brad,
    Yes I have experienced God, and “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)
    I will not go into how I experience God, for it is off topic, and not only that, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

    I respect your saying that. I used to think I experienced God but now, obviously, I think differently. As for that definition of faith, I now find it lacking. If I’m reading it correctly, it implies faith is wishful thinking and that belief itself counts as evidence. (The idea behind it that the wish for God and the belief in him comes about because of God, hence our justification in holding to it.)

  • prase

    The Theist’s guide is, as I understand, intended to facilitate the communication between atheists and theists who believe that the question of existence of god is decidable by reason. There are many theists who think so, the official position of the Catholic church for example states that we can prove God’s existence with reason. I don’t see why those who think that God is unfalsifiable (like cl) should respond to the challenge. It’s simply aimed at different sort of theists.

    On the other hand, the rejection of counterfactuals seems to me a bit unfair. Ebonmuse, you’ve yourself written for example this

    If the Bible, for example, said, “On the first day of the first month in the year two thousand and ten, the pillars of the earth will shake and a great part of the New World will be lost to the sea,” and then January 1, 2010 comes and a tremendous earthquake sends California to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, I would become a believer.

    This is a typical counterfactual (something that we know with reasonable certainty is false). There is nothing in the Bible like this.

    If somebody asked me what would convince me that the Earth is flat, I am not sure that I would be able to list one thing that couldn’t be classified as counterfactual. Does it mean that I am closed-minded?

  • MS Quixote

    I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise, and appreciated your responses to my “theist guide”. Certainly Ebon’s criteria are fair and well-thought out.

    In fairness, however, this exercise is by far easier for the atheist. It is easy to imagine scenarios/evidence that falsify atheism. It’s not so easy for theism. Feel free to correct me.

    I think in large part this is representative of the debate in general. If atheism is true, we are going to have trouble proving it ultimately; if it is false, we may discover its falsity.

    The converse seems apparent: If theism is true we may empirically verify it; if false, we may never be able to know with empiric certainty. If this is indeed the case, it would seem that we would predict theists to have a much harder time developing criteria in response to this challenge, considering the nature of the problem itself.

    After the sin/holiness disconnect, the evidential/warrant/epistemic disconnect appears to be one of the primary impediments to discussion between theists and atheists.

  • Brad

    Hmm, good catch, prase.

    for me to account your answer valid, it must consist of something that we could, at least in principle, either agree upon or discover to be true.

    Obviously Ebonmuse put forth the California idea not as a valid possibility, but as a hypothetical in order to demonstrate what form of argument he was looking for. I think cl was doing the same thing with his “counterfactuals,” and so, although he doesn’t give a valid response to the Theist’s Guide, he gives an interesting hypothetical one. In the end, though, nothing is accomplished if we’re only working with hypothetical scenarios.

    The next step is to scrutinize our foundations, and I think I was doing that with my 3 questions to cl. (To be fair, cl also made some cases for scientific knowledge in the Bible in his blog entry.)

  • 2-D Man

    MS Quixote said:

    In fairness, however, this exercise is by far easier for the atheist. It is easy to imagine scenarios/evidence that falsify atheism. It’s not so easy for theism. Feel free to correct me.
    I think in large part this is representative of the debate in general. If atheism is true, we are going to have trouble proving it ultimately; if it is false, we may discover its falsity.

    Get a god to drop by sometime so it and I can have a chat. That’d sure falsify atheism beyond reasonable doubt. Why does the theist having to perform such a simple task favour the atheist? Also, why isn’t atheism considered the default position until evidence for one flavour of theism arises?

    Prase said:

    There is nothing in the Bible like [geek speak].

    The point isn’t that we want some equations to have been in the Bible. I think it’s that there should be some description that is at least as insightful as our most determined research. These insights do not necessarily have to come from a holy text, they could arise from prayer. An acceptable example would be, a description that we don’t know how it works, comes from praying to one specific deity, and when implemented, gives us more efficient machines or a universal cure, or some advancement that we didn’t have before.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    First, sorry for yet another ridiculously long reply. Even of commenters that are raising points worth responding to, there are at least a half-dozen.

    Alex Weaver,

    Thanks for clarifying. You seem to be advocating,

    …assuming all positive propositions false until sufficient evidence is offered to support them.

    This is not meant to be an insult to you or anyone else who might think this way, but the more I hear people try to offer any justification for the basis of their ‘rationalism’ the more the concept actually loses appeal to me, which is unfortunate because I do consider myself a fairly rational person. This statement just doesn’t jibe with me.

    For example – from your elaboration, is seems you would agree with the comment left by Tom (November 12, 2008, 3:03 pm on Jesus Never Laughed), that the “foundation of rational thought” is

    …the assumption of falsehood of all positive assertions in the absence of positive evidence due to the impossibility of proving a negative.

    I can see examples where this approach is justified, for example, after a person’s been ripped off by 2-good-2-be-true scams X number of times, if they are observant they will likely adopt the assumption that all 2-good-2-be-true offers are scams, in absence of evidence supporting the contrary. Note that such an attitude does not prevent the possibility that a legitimate 2-good-2-be-true offer exists.

    If we’re trying to find the answer to some question and trying to start with as little as possible, what I’ve always believed up to this point was that the most logical, objective and unbiased position to begin from is NULL. Analagous is the fact from programming that variables remain NULL until the developer or user assigns ‘true’ or ‘false’ to them (or some other non-Boolean value).

    You also offered the following, presumably from another source. You offered it in the context of a response to me not liking your Illuminati analogy, but it appears the original context is in reference to belief in scripture:

    “ignoring a simple and fairly straightforward, if not outright obvious, explanation in favor of one that’s cryptic, oblique, and quite possibly purely the backward projection of one’s own attitude and prejudices…”

    This makes your analogy more sensible, I suppose. I understand the ostensible logic here but are the presuppositions apparent or even valid? What might be straightforward or obvious to you might not be straightforward or obvious to the next guy, and this statement’s truth rests entirely on a false presupposition – that there is some ‘correct’ standard of human perception and experience. Everybody walks a different walk. Belief is credible and justifiable to some people, and believe me, it’s not just the dummies and fundies as commonly misportrayed by Dawkins, Hitchens, PZ et al. To others belief is neither credible nor justifiable. Do you prefer coffee or tea? Just as you imply John can’t ‘get his mind around’ an atheist creation account, to me, you contradict yourself because in an inverse or corollary way, you can’t ‘get your mind around’ John’s faith or belief or whatever it is he posits.

    I believe atheists and all sorts of other thinkers fall into God of the Gaps just as often, only we do need a better name for the atheist version of this particular fallacy – for example the ‘Natural Gaps Fallacy’ or something similar – and I define it simply as the converse of the traditional God of the Gaps response: “God can’t (or didn’t) do X, Y, or Z; naturedidit!”

    Leum,

    You said,

    “Fine or porous particles of the earth” isn’t a very meaningful term. Sediment fineness is related to weathering, and porosity is largely due to crystal formation and/or the manner of deposition*. So while most of the chemicals found in the human body could be found in fine or porous sediments, there’s nothing special about that: virtually all elements and chemicals common to Earth can be found in sediments.

    Granted. I’m not resting my faith on apar, and I’d guess most believers don’t either. If we’re understanding apar and the writer’s context correctly, I think the ancient Hebrews’ reference to ‘particulate matter’ / ‘fine and porous particles’ in general is noteworthy, especially long before Democritus or Leucippus were getting their thing going.

    At any rate, I don’t offer the argument as a ‘proof’ of anything, and the extent of the liberty I’m willing to give it is that if life did begin in mud or anything else supportable by a reasonable definition of apar, then we have in the Bible another account that is generally confirmed by science.

    Justin,

    It appears we each articulate falsifiability uniquely, which to me is neither here nor there for the sake of the thread. But notice how when worded like this your interpretation breaks down logically:

    …if you use evidence to support a claim, then it follows that evidence could forseeably disprove your claim.

    True, but only if you advance a claim that is actually falsifiable. People use evidence to demonstrate ID. This does not make ID falsifiable. It is impossible to prove that God didn’t set process X, Y or Z in motion.

    If your claims could not (potentially) be disproven by any evidence, then you are avoiding empiricism.

    I don’t agree with this. People who believe in ID believe in something that cannot be disproven by any evidence, and some of them go about this business very empirically.

    The only reason I asked you to clarify your position on falsifiability was so I could be sure I understood what you meant when say to me:

    …your beliefs are unfalsifiable.

    Which specific claims of mine do you allege are unfalsifiable? Should you think atheism falsifiable, remember that atheism and theism are both logically flawed, and here’s the paragraph of mine you pulled from in full context:

    Sure, in a very literal way, my beliefs are structured so that no evidence can disprove them, but not in the context of a conscious or subconscious retreat from empiricism. IOW, I don’t think you can turn over a rock, discover some star, or discern something new and illuminating about Planck time that will ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ God.

    Since I offered Ebonmuse scenarios that would potentially disprove my beliefs, my beliefs are falsifiable. Please note that well-reasoned and logically supportable conclusions should not be viewed as being on equal par with smug and shallow fundamentalist denial. Also, if the Bible made the same claims but was much less credible, I would probably not believe in it anymore than I believe in Moby Dick.

    Besides all this talk about rationalism and supporting claims get dry and cold after so long. How does the conversation change if we refer to belief as a choice?

    Robert Madwell,

    Negatives can be proved.

    Depends what you mean by ‘negatives’ – sure, you can prove the moon is not made of green cheese, but then you’ve simply proven that the moon is positively made of something other than green cheese. Can you prove that a moon in the Andromeda galaxy is not made of green cheese? Why or why not, or more accurately, when?

    You cite your

    …beef with atheists being asked by theists to prove that no God exists… Here’s an example. If I claim that I ate a hamburger, would you want proof of that? Probably not. That’s not really an extraordinary claim. Now, if I claimed that I ate a dinosaurburger, you’d want to see evidence. It would not be fair of me to require that you prove that I didn’t eat a dinosaurburger. As a matter of fact, you’d have a hard time proving that I didn’t, even though the claim is ridiculous.

    That would irritate me as well if I was an atheist. I’ve not asked any atheists to prove no God exists because I know they can’t.

    Either way the analogy fails IMO. We have empirical confirmation that dinosaurs once existed, and everything we know about science tells us they should not be available for burgers. On the other hand, science remains silent about when, where, how and of course if God even exists.

    …the claim of God’s existance is an extraordinary claim… The burden of proof should be on the one making the extraordinary claim.

    Whether God is an extraordinary claim or not is absolutely subjective. Even so, the idea has no direct evidence to counter it – whereas a dinosaurburger is contradicted by enough evidence you might as well add space fries with Andromeda cola.

    Christopher,

    But (Epicurus) wouldn’t take exception to the concept of death being final – after all, he did say “when death is I am not, when I am death is not – why should I fear that which shall be when I am not?” (paren. mine)

    I agree, and didn’t mean to imply anything different if I did. Great quote by the way.

    Regarding your friend, I respect his courage, experiences and the unusual manner in which he was able to form a conclusion. However, note that his rejection of religion or the afterlife on account of the experiences you describe presumes that consciousness should proceed uninterupted during the transition, when there appears to be no logical reason to assume such. Who knows how long it might take to ‘re-awake’ so to speak?

    Brad,

    I do still intend to get to your other comments over at my site, which I appreciate.

    Why do you think “evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs”?

    Evidence doesn’t mean anything in certain situations, for example, when one is not making a case or a claim; and also when the case or claim one makes is not of the type that is amenable to evidence. Whoever left that Epicurus quote left a banger:

    when death is I am not, when I am death is not

    Exactly. So sans revelation or direct experience, on what grounds are any cases or claims for what happens after death falsifiable?

    You say that although we ought to

    …work for best explanations (based preferably on minimal assumptions and maximal explanatory power), something need not be completely falsifiable or verifiable to fit into a best explanation, does it?

    Of course not. That’s the 100% certainty trope. I said this earlier in the thread:

    This side of death, the best a human can roll with is an interpretation of life that accounts for macroexistence and harmonizes with each of our own unique microexistences as well. As such, aside from manifestation, what new ‘fact’ can ‘prove’ atheism or theism? That’s difficult, especially since we are a diverse breed and we each walk different walks at different times. I chose to believe there was a God a long time ago, and to this day what I learn, see and experience continues to harmonize with that belief.

    The day the things I think, see, and feel cease to harmonize with my interpretations of God and the afterlife is the day I become an atheist, and searching for best explanations along with new experiences is exactly how I approach the matter myself. What I believe is the ‘best’ explanation may not be what you or others believe is the ‘best’ explanation. Granted, there are certain interpretations of facts that appear to be simply not permitted by logic – flat Earth, static universe, etc. – but I just don’t grant that concepts of God or the afterlife fall into this category.

    I’ll take each of these shortly as my fingers are killing me over here..

    Why do you think God is an unfalsifiable construct?

    I say this mainly in a scientific context. I don’t think fact of science X, Y or Z can prove or disprove God. Fact of history X, Y or Z might give the Bible a run for its money, however. Same as earlier: I don’t think you can turn over a rock, discover some star, or discern something new and illuminating about Planck time that will ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ God… This side of death, the best a human can roll with is an interpretation of life that accounts for macroexistence and harmonizes with each of our own unique microexistences as well. As such, aside from manifestation, what new ‘fact’ can ‘prove’ atheism or theism?

    What kind of attributes in God make him lend to explaining the universe but not falsified by it?

    Creatorship. No fingerprints? No DNA? Zero evidence? You can’t prove who did or didn’t do something without evidence.

    Do you think God is a verifiable construct?

    If God is real and at all interested in us, God will provide verification.

    A “potentiality” in a different possible world – which to my mind is not “very real.”

    I agree with what you and Ebonmuse say about counterfactuals, and their inadmissibility is justified. I include them only to show that I can think of things that could happen in the future that might shift my spiritual paradigm. I agree also with you that Ebonmuse should clarify things in the criteria, as I’ve made a few suggestions myself.

    Notice that Genesis says man was created from dust. Genesis didn’t say biological life was created from dust, or even set up the universe in the way that man would come from other life (as in Common Descent). This means to hold this interpretation of Genesis and stay consistent, we have to take it semi-literally and semi-metaphorically.

    How so?

    …if the Hebrews were to make up a myth of where man came from, would it be improbable for them to look to the ground? I mean, they obviously noticed that humans mysteriously “went into” the Earth, why wouldn’t they posit that their god created them out of it?

    Certainly. And if life did in fact originate in anything reasonably inferred from apar, perhaps the Hebrews didn’t make up a myth.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Just saw these ones too, figured I had a second why not:

    Prase,

    You make a keen observation and expose quite the contradiction!

    Not that my response is going undiscussed which is all I wanted in the first place, but Ebonmuse initially refused to link to it on grounds of the falsifiability problem and counterfactuals in particular. In an email, he said something to the effect that I was, “Asking for the world to be something other than it was.”

    I forgot that he does just that in TGTCA and in doing so catches a charge of special pleading.

    MS Quixote,

    I agree. TGTCA is more geared for those interested in ontological arguments and think that God can be proven via reason.

    2-D Man,

    …why isn’t atheism considered the default position until evidence for one flavour of theism arises?

    That would amount to maintaining a position in the absence of evidence, which is not illegal but arguably illogical.

  • Brad

    cl,

    For my #1 you gave me one situation where evidence didn’t apply to a falsifiable construct. That doesn’t fully support your more general assertion “evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs.” The way I see it, we take evidence and then make up explanations to fit them – whether or not we invoke unfalsifiable and/or unverifiable constructs. As for my #2, I grant you have a valid answer – if “creatorship” is the backbone attribute that defines “God.” Many more specific and detailed conceptions of God happen to be falsifiable. And for my contention that we must interpret Genesis semi-literally and semi-metaphorically – I think that to stay consistent with evidence and our best theories of the evolution of life (common descent), as well as see that Genesis is true, we have to take the parts of Genesis that contradict Big Bang and Common Descent metaphorically, but then take “in the beginning” as a literal allusion to the big bang, or “from dust” as a literal allusion to the origin of life.

  • prase

    2-D Man, I understand what sort of evidence in the Bible or anywhere else could make Ebon to convert, and that among his listed examples are few that can possibly happen in the future.

    My point is a bit different. A counterfactual is a proposition which is false AND whose falsity we know for sure. The more you know about the world, the more propositions you can evaluate with certainty and the broader is the class of counterfactuals (from your perspective). It can easily happen that all conceivable things that would count as evidence against X fall under that category (i.e. you already know them to be false). But this neither does somehow exclude X from rationality nor it means you are closed-minded.

    That’s why I mentioned the flat-Earth hypothesis. If a flat-earther challenged me to sum up things which would convince me that the Earth is flat, what I could possibly say? Perhaps that I would believe if the shade on the moon was not round, or if America could be seen from Europe on a clear day, or if there were no pictures of round Earth taken from the space… All of this are counterfactuals. Yet still I don’t think my disbelief in flat Earth is dogmatic or closed-minded.

    This is the reason why I don’t support the exclusion of counterfactuals. The falsifiability criterion is essential for evaluating the predicability of newly proposed hypotheses. To count as irrational beliefs based on already evaluated evidence on behalf of their non-falsifiability (all relevant evidence is known and agrees, there is no chance to falsify) seems to me as wrong use of the concept.

  • prase

    To add a comment: what I have said doesn’t mean I endorse theist’s approach based on statements similar to “I would deconvert if there was no love in the world”. But the problem with these statements is not that they incorporate counterfactuals. The problem is that they are post hoc rationalisations. They serve the purpose of avoiding the question. The Overcoming Bias link (and refs. therein) given in the second comment by Eric is really relevant.

  • MS Quixote

    Get a god to drop by sometime so it and I can have a chat. That’d sure falsify atheism beyond reasonable doubt.

    That’s exactly it, 2D-man.

    Why does the theist having to perform such a simple task favour the atheist?

    The favor is simply in the construction of a guide for deconversion. I, as a theist, can’t really ask the non-god to drop by and have a chat with me to disprove theism; thus, the criteria are harder to develop.

    TGTCA is more geared for those interested in ontological arguments and think that God can be proven via reason.

    Interesting comment cl, because I represent that school of theism, and still had trouble devising a list that was acceptable to all. The refutation of the known or standard proofs for God is not a defeater for the proposition that God exists. Perhaps, though, they should be incorporated into the “things that would not be conclusive, but would make atheism more probable” category.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Prase,

    But this neither does somehow exclude X from rationality nor it means you are closed-minded.

    I don’t know if you were alluding to me here or not, and I don’t mean to imply that you’re backing me up or anything, but thank you for noting this – I was trying to make this point somewhere back in one of my previous verbal morasses.

    As for this,

    what I have said doesn’t mean I endorse theist’s approach based on statements similar to “I would deconvert if there was no love in the world”… The problem is that they are post hoc rationalisations. They serve the purpose of avoiding the question. The Overcoming Bias link (and refs. therein) given in the second comment by Eric is really relevant.

    At least in my own case, I disagree that offering counterfactuals serves the purpose of avoiding the question. The question was what one would accept as “a list of proofs that atheism was true.” I’ve addressed the question directly. To me, it feels like the challenge is biased towards arguments from science or history, possibly a few of the soft sciences too. It’s like TGTCA is asking, “What new discovery or fact would persuade you to lose faith?” My answer is nothing short of direct experience. Science can answer questions about God or gods only so long as proposed God or gods are amenable to empiricism. Although there are a few hot issues I have at the moment, nothing in any subject I’ve studied or heard about yet has successfully undermined the Bible’s general premises, and IMO that’s because the Bible’s religious claims aren’t falsifiable. How can we prove God didn’t set the universe in motion? I grant all atheists justification for doubting the resurrection, but how can we prove Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? How can we prove whether there really will be a ‘new heaven and new Earth?’ To me, it is clear that the Bible’s religious precepts can only be proven or disproven via direct experience, which is interesting, because the Bible says stuff like “Taste and see the Lord is good.” In fact, that humans can’t force proof in these areas is noteworthy.

    The link you cite contains the following: “If you’re really curious about something, you probably can figure out a good way to test it…” This is true, and not necessarily synonymous with genuine falsifiability. For example, as a kid I performed some simple God experiments with a broken watch. They failed, but I can’t offer this as credible evidence to anybody.

    Does my perfunctory experiment qualify as falsifiable in your opinion?

    Brad,

    For my #1 you gave me one situation where evidence didn’t apply to a falsifiable construct. That doesn’t fully support your more general assertion “evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs.”

    What situation are you referring to? Can you elaborate a tad?

    The way I see it, we take evidence and then make up explanations to fit them – whether or not we invoke unfalsifiable and/or unverifiable constructs.

    I agree. I think of belief more like a choice than a case or claim. I think that for whatever reasons, we choose to believe proposition X, Y or Z, or not, and then we process everything through respective lenses. This explains how two or more perfectly rational individuals can come to opposing conclusions. One of my favorite quotes:

    Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing…
    It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different… There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. (the wise Sherlock Holmes.)

    As for your,

    …contention that we must interpret Genesis semi-literally and semi-metaphorically – I think that to stay consistent with evidence and our best theories of the evolution of life (common descent), as well as see that Genesis is true, we have to take the parts of Genesis that contradict Big Bang and Common Descent metaphorically, but then take “in the beginning” as a literal allusion to the big bang, or “from dust” as a literal allusion to the origin of life.

    What do you posit from Genesis as contradictory to either Big Bang or LUCA?

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

    cl,

    People use evidence to demonstrate ID.

    No, actually they don’t. ID is nothing more than “goddidit” in a cheap tuxedo with faux-empirical backing. Real biologists do work and then the ID people swoop in and post hoc claim that it somehow supports their religious ideals.

    This does not make ID falsifiable. It is impossible to prove that God didn’t set process X, Y or Z in motion.

    Exactly, and in a strict sense, they don’t actually have any evidence to support their claims, because their claims can be made in the absence or presence of any evidence.

    …remember that atheism and theism are both logically flawed…

    This is a common mistake. Atheism is the denial of the logically flawed assertion of theists. Denying your logic does not entail a logical flaw of my own.

    I don’t think fact of science X, Y or Z can prove or disprove God.

    It can and has disproven many conceptions of god, including (at least most of) the Xian one(s).

  • http://effingtheineffable.wordpress.com Peter Magellan

    John:

    …I do not take the creation of Adam as one human being, rather Adam consists of all of us, and Christ also consists of all of us. We are the body of Adam and we are the body of Christ. The body of Adam was created out of clay, and this could have taken billions of years of evolving. For God a billion years is nothing.

    You’re just making this up as you go along, aren’t you?

    Incidentally, it is indeed possible to prove a negative, particularly in the case of the Christian god.

    And finally, to John et al, I would put the same question I put to all theists: assuming you expect to live on after you die, roughly how long, in years, do you expect that posthumous life to be?

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

    I grant all atheists justification for doubting the resurrection, but how can we prove Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?

    Why should we have to? Actually, why should we believe that Jesus did rise from the dead sans evidence to show that he did?

  • john

    Prase,
    “that the question of existence of god is decidable by reason.”

    I really doubt this and becides this.

    2d-man,
    “Get a god to drop by sometime so it and I can have a chat”

    This has happened. Now suppose, in the privacy of your house, that it happened to you Mr. 2D-man. Just suppose, Jesus appeared to you in a vision or dream. The dream would be very real. Now go back to your atheist buddies and tell them your dream and that you now know Jesus Christ is for real. They, being great thinkers would want evidence. Your sudden conversion would not pursuade them; you’ve just gone mad. You, on the other hand, have evidence, a very personal, powerful evidence.

    Try a google search of “vision” and “Jesus.” I think you will find a few instances of visions of Jesus. Now try a search “visions” and “Mohammed” or “visions” and anything or anyone.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    Greetings.

    We’re being sloppy with language here. ID represents an entire gamut of claims and ideas, some of them are falsifiable, others are not. To argue over whether ID is falsifiable or not is sort of to start off on the wrong foot IMO.

    Either way, I disagree with you; I think people do offer evidence for ID and at least some of ID’s particular claims are in fact falsifiable. For example, Behe’s claims about blood clotting could not have been disproven (Doolittle) were they not falsifiable. But the general claim that God created the universe, or the more loosely phrased ‘ID is falsifiable’ are not, IMO, falsifiable statements – sans direct manifestation that is.

    As for,

    (Science) can and has disproven many conceptions of god, including (at least most of) the Xian one(s). (paren. mine)

    Such as?

    And as for,

    Why should we have to? Actually, why should we believe that Jesus did rise from the dead sans evidence to show that he did?

    I don’t imply or ask that you do. My point in mentioning it at all was to grant atheists their ground and concede the resurrection account as something that is fairly classifiable as an extraordinary claim. Why you believe or disbelieve is up to you.

  • Leum

    Try a google search of “vision” and “Jesus.” I think you will find a few instances of visions of Jesus. Now try a search “visions” and “Mohammed” or “visions” and anything or anyone.

    31,800,00 and 3,700,000 respectively. What’s your point?

    To me, the fact that people from many different religions all have had visions of their deity is one of the strongest indications that these visions have an internal source rather than an external source.

    It is this, in fact, that would make me skeptical if I did receive a vision of Jesus, I would know that billions of others had received similar visions of different beings. I could swear Greta Christina has an article on her vision of Jesus (with similar results), but I can’t find it.

  • john

    Leum,

    I can see your point. You have to experience it to really understand it, that’s all I can say about the experience. You should be skeptical, I know I was.

    My point on the google search is that even though dreaming is a major part of all religions, no other religion seems to have the visions of their deity, at leist none that I know of, and at least in the numbers that occur of Jesus. This is hardly the evidence Ebon is looking for.

  • Leum

    john,

    Would you care to explain what you mean by “dreaming”? I’m not sure I follow you.

    Also, I would suggest that the greater number of Christian visions described online is related to the greater number of Christians online, not the total number of visions.

  • 2-D Man

    John,

    Just suppose, Jesus appeared to you in a vision or dream. The dream would be very real. … Your sudden conversion would not pursuade them; you’ve just gone mad. You, on the other hand, have evidence, a very personal, powerful evidence.

    No. I would not have evidence in that instance. In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “There’s more of gravy than of grave about you.” Get the gist?

    MS Quixote,

    The favor is simply in the construction of a guide for deconversion.

    Ah, I see.

    Prase,
    That clarifies a lot, thanks. But…

    …among his listed examples are few that can possibly happen in the future.

    This isn’t true. Of the five things, the first one and the last three are, or can be, contingent on the future, and special cases of the first and third items causes the second to become obsolete.

    cl,

    That would amount to maintaining a position in the absence of evidence, which is not illegal but arguably illogical.

    Evidence is not needed to support a lack of a positive claim.

  • Brad

    What situation are you referring to?

    Specifically the post-death situation you offered, cl. To say that evidence is irrelevant “when one is not making a case or a claim” is beside the point, and to say it doesn’t apply when a case/claim is “not of the type that is amenable to evidence” is simply a fancy way of saying “evidence doesn’t apply when it doesn’t apply,” which is an obvious tautology that still doesn’t support the general assertion “evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs.” Let me try and clarify what I’m trying to get at here. In my view, under the “best-explanation” method we take all of our observations of the world (read: empirical evidence), our inferences from the world (read: rational evidence), and then try and explain these with whatever theories we can make up that are intelligible to our own understanding, work preferably by minimal assumptions / maximal explanatory power, et cetera. Within this method, discovering new evidence does matter – even for unfalsifiable and/or unverifiable constructs, because it can reveal greater or lesser explanatory power. I think that, at heart, we agree here:

    The day the things I think, see, and feel cease to harmonize with my interpretations of God and the afterlife is the day I become an atheist, and searching for best explanations along with new experiences is exactly how I approach the matter myself.

    Your second question:

    What do you posit from Genesis as contradictory [read literally] to either Big Bang or LUCA?

    (Insertion mine.) To take only a few examples from the first chapter,

    (1) Genesis 1:1 states that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Our scientific findings indicate that the universe is 13.5-14 billion years old, whereas the Earth is only 4.5 billion years old. Thus, Genesis read literally is inconsistent with modern scientific theory.

    (2) Genesis 1:13-16 states that God created the lights [Sun, moon, stars] in the heavens [sky/universe] on the third day – after the Earth’s formation of land (Gen 1:10-11) and the emergence of vegetation and plant life (Gen 1:11-12) on the second day (Gen 1:8). According to modern scientific theory, the Earth with its land and vegetation came after stars were already present in the universe. (And not in single days either.)

    (3) Genesis 1:26,27 imply man was created ['asah and bara'] in God’s image – not evolved from ancestors and naturally selected for survival.

    You catch my drift, right?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Brad,

    I still don’t see your point about the first issue. If an idea or claim is not falsifiable, evidence doesn’t apply to it. That’s what I mean when I say “evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs.” Can you clarify? Have I clarified?

    As far as your points 1-3, yes, I get your gist. We could probably go on for eons about the meaning of yowm but let’s just say for now that nothing in yowm demands a 24-hour day. With that in mind…

    As far as 1, to me, you’re reading too charitably. The verse you offer simply states that the heavens were created before the earth, which is a scientifically valid statement as far as I can see.

    I grant you 2. This is admittedly rough for me as well, because I either have to take the position that modern science is incorrect, or that the writer meant the words to be taken in some other context, or that this particular part of scripture was in fact not “God-breathed.” I could also attempt to justify why I think God is not obligated to provide factual information in scripture, but I probably wouldn’t go that route.

    Unless I’m missing its purported relevance, I’ll also disregard 3 entirely – whether or not “in God’s image” excludes evolution is subjective.

    So in response to your contention that I asked you to clarfiy, I’m not really sure when it is appropriate to maintain a literal vs. metaphorical interpretation of scripture. I do count the instances where a basic Bible statement is corroborated by reality as evidence supporting the claim scripture is “God-breathed.” I also count the instances such as 2 as evidence supporting the claim that not all scripture is God-breathed.

    BTW, I did get around to your comment over on TWIM (my site). I addressed nearly all of your points, but I figure we’re both in no hurry to finish, and I will get to the last two as well as any new rebuttals that might arise.

  • Brad

    cl,

    You keep clarifying what you mean by your statement “evidence only applies to falsifiable constructs,” and I keep asking you to support it and then give you my thoughts that evidence can give falsifiable constructs more or less explanatory power, which means evidence does apply (though not in a strictly scientific sense).

    (1) How in the world do you figure “created the heavens and the earth” to mean heavens before the earth?

    (2) I don’t mean to imply God has to provide factual information or that he has to inspire fully literal or fully metaphorical stories. I’m just supporting my original assertion that to remain consistent with modern scientific theory, as well as grant Genesis scientific knowledge, we must take Genesis semi-literally and semi-metaphorically.

    (3) Number three says man was created – which, when taken literally – is different from evolved. You can take bara’ non-literally, I suppose.

  • Justin

    cl,

    Sure, in a very literal way, my beliefs are structured so that no evidence can disprove them, but not in the context of a conscious or subconscious retreat from empiricism. IOW, I don’t think you can turn over a rock, discover some star, or discern something new and illuminating about Planck time that will ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ God.

    Since I offered Ebonmuse scenarios that would potentially disprove my beliefs, my beliefs are falsifiable.

    Couldn’t those “scenarios” be considered evidence? If no evidence could disprove your beliefs, then no scenarios or situations could, as such situations would presumably introduce new data.

  • ex machina

    cl:

    What do you posit from Genesis as contradictory to either Big Bang or LUCA?

    What do you posit from the Gita, the Yoga Sutra, the mythology of Rome and Greece, the oral traditions of the Native Americans, Moby Dick, my cup of coffee, my everything bagel with cream cheese as contradictory to the Big Bang?

    That one can find instances in a text that can sort of kind of maybe be construed to outline a scientific truth is meaningless. While parts of Genesis can be interpreted to outline the beginning of the universe, they don’t describe it in enough detail to be conclusive. It might be compelling evidence when coupled with more specific data that reflects our current understanding, but by itself it’s demonstrative of nothing. It’s possible that Genesis refers to the Big Bang, but far to vuage to be conclusive, so we look for more data, and there is none. As such I don’t find it very probable or plausible. It’s far more likely that the authors echoed other similar creation myths that existed before Genesis.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    So in response to your contention that I asked you to clarfiy, I’m not really sure when it is appropriate to maintain a literal vs. metaphorical interpretation of scripture. I do count the instances where a basic Bible statement is corroborated by reality as evidence supporting the claim scripture is “God-breathed.” I also count the instances such as 2 as evidence supporting the claim that not all scripture is God-breathed.

    This is post hoc reasoning. It’s easy to say, “The parts that are right are from god and the parts that are wrong are not from god,” but it’s hardly compelling.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    ID represents an entire gamut of claims and ideas, some of them are falsifiable, others are not.

    At its heart, ID makes one claim; that god created us. This is not falsifiable.

    Either way, I disagree with you; I think people do offer evidence for ID and at least some of ID’s particular claims are in fact falsifiable. For example, Behe’s claims about blood clotting could not have been disproven (Doolittle) were they not falsifiable.

    No, they don’t. Behe has made some claims that have been falsified, but they were not necessarily in favor of ID – IOW, they were non sequitors, because “goddidit” can explain everything and anything. Saying that X is irreducibly complex simply does not support “goddidit,” especially since an evolutionary pathway could, in principle, lead to an IC system.

    Such as?

    As Brad pointed out, the Genesis account is particularly troublesome. Reason has also ruled out certain attributes of god, like omni-max attributes.

    I don’t imply or ask that you do. My point in mentioning it at all was to grant atheists their ground and concede the resurrection account as something that is fairly classifiable as an extraordinary claim.

    And I’m asking why believe it at all without evidence to support it?

  • Chet

    Ebonmuse rejected this as “asking that the world be something different than it is,” and to that I rebut although love need not be presumed inherently theist, as Adrian noted above, reasoning from the harmony of the disparate but near-universal occurrence of love in the world and the assumption that God is love, an absence of love would not only be valid evidence that an all-loving God didn’t, but also empirical evidence.

    Very well.

    I propose an emotion/feeling called “bleem”, and bleem is even better and more uplifting than love. In fact bleem makes love seem like nothing but the warm fuzzies, by comparison. Further, if God could choose whether to be the God of love or the God of bleem, surely he must choose to be the God of bleem, since bleem is so much better than love. Ergo, God must be the God of bleem.

    Unfortunately there’s no such thing as bleem. It doesn’t exist. Universally, human beings live their lives from beginning to end in complete ignorance of bleem, and not a single living being in this universe has ever felt bleem. It is completely and utterly absent from our world.

    Are you convinced, now, that God does not exist? No? Then in the world where love does not exist, where the idea of “love” is as absurd as I’m sure you find the idea of “bleem”, would you be convinced that God did not exist?

    If love did not exist, how would you know to find its absence noteworthy? That is why your “proof” is no such, and why it fails to be empirical.

  • jack

    John,

    Yes I have experienced God, and “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) I will not go into how I experience God, for it is off topic, and not only that, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

    Strictly speaking, I suppose it is off-topic, since Ebon’s post is about his challenge to theists for things that would convince them their belief in God is false. But in a broader view, I would argue that this is the essential point of this discussion. I would argue that your personal subjective experience of God is the real reason you believe, not because Genesis says something about God sculpting humans from lumps of clay, or because Michael Behe is so persuasive, or because only God could have set off the Big Bang, etc.

    I for one would be very interested in the details of how you (or any other theist commenters) experience God. I realize that can be a very personal thing to discuss in a public forum, so just ignore my request if you wish.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Brad,

    …evidence can give falsifiable constructs more or less explanatory power, which means evidence does apply (though not in a strictly scientific sense).

    Did you mean to say that evidence can give unfalsifiable constructs more or less explanatory power? In which case my statement that evidence “only applies to falsifiable constructs” would become a false statement?

    As for 1, ‘heavens’ comes before ‘earth.’

    As for 2, there are other options.

    As for 3 – so you are arguing that inherent meanings in the Hebrew bara are inconsistent with evolution? Specifically how so?

    Justin,

    In response to my mention of “scenarios that would potentially disprove my beliefs,” you said,

    Couldn’t those “scenarios” be considered evidence?

    No – they are potentialities, things that haven’t been known to happen yet, but that could theoretically happen.

    If no evidence could disprove your beliefs, then no scenarios or situations could…

    I disagree. A “scenario” or “situation” implies a future potentiality, which cannot be considered evidence, because it has not yet happened.

    One aspect of my belief system that factual discoveries can and do affect is the degree of credibility I assign to the Bible. The emergence of new facts and discoveries can and does challenge this all the time.

    ex machina,

    What do you posit from the Gita, the Yoga Sutra, the mythology of Rome and Greece, the oral traditions of the Native Americans, Moby Dick, my cup of coffee, my everything bagel with cream cheese as contradictory to the Big Bang?

    Hmmm…. If you want to posit an argument that the Big Bang corroborates first significant act in the Iroquois creation account, let’s hear it.

    While parts of Genesis can be interpreted to outline the beginning of the universe, they don’t describe it in enough detail to be conclusive. It might be compelling evidence when coupled with more specific data that reflects our current understanding, but by itself it’s demonstrative of nothing. It’s possible that Genesis refers to the Big Bang…(ital. mine)

    This is just another subjective opinion, and I hope you correctly identify it as such.

    Also, in the original essay, I myself concede that these things are by no means ‘proofs’ or truth claims; I only offer them as interesting areas where the Bible can be reasonably described as corroborated by science. They are areas where the Bible cannot be alleged as contradictory to science. As you concede yourself – there is enough detail to support the plausibility of the idea. I also concede there are areas of the Bible that do contradict current scientific consensus’ as well.

    OMGF,

    This is post hoc reasoning.

    Save it. I’ve not said, as you caricaturize,

    The parts that are right are from god and the parts that are wrong are not from god…

    The description of mine you select is of a man still weighing the evidence. BTW, this business about the Bible being the word of God comes from 2 Timothy 3:16,17. In this verse, the Bible says that “All scripture is God-breathed…” The Greek is graphe theopneustos for anyone who cares. There are valid issues I have with scripture before I can state anything conclusively on this subject of graphe theopneustos. I’m collecting evidence, OMGF, and I put the evidence that corroborates the Bible in one stack, and I put the evidence that challenges the Bible in another stack.

    Dig?

    Moving on, you said,

    At its heart, ID makes one claim; that god created us. This is not falsifiable.

    Hey, we agree 100%!

    Until here,

    Behe has made some claims that have been falsified…

    If Behe has made claims that have been falsified, then those claims were falsifiable.

    As for,

    Reason has also ruled out certain attributes of god, like omni-max attributes.

    Well I didn’t know we had an official representative from Reason here to make such an authoritative claim. I think that you and anyone else who advances this claim actually says in the subtext, “My reasoning has also ruled out certain attributes of god, like omni-max attributes.” This is of course subjective.

    As for,

    …why believe it at all without evidence to support it?

    That’s between you and God and/or the universe and always has been. I can’t provide you with a reason to believe.

    Earlier when I posited that atheism and theism were both logically flawed, you said,

    This is a common mistake. Atheism is the denial of the logically flawed assertion of theists. Denying your logic does not entail a logical flaw of my own.

    I’ve not said that for one to deny another person’s logic entails a logical flaw of one’s own. I’ve said that atheism and theism are both logically flawed. Let nobody forget that the only current, scientifically-acceptable answer to the question of life’s ultimate origin is “I don’t know.” Although there is no observable data which directly contradicts a natural cause for the universe, the belief that the universe had a natural cause cannot be proven by observable data.

    As Brad pointed out, the Genesis account is particularly troublesome.

    Much more so for some than others, and I definitely concede that all creation stories are particularly troublesome when we’re trying to fit them into our puny little pool of knowledge. We can test gravity, measure electromagnetism and formulaically standardize the chemical composition of sulfuric acid, but the beginning of the universe was a one-time event and attempting to define its ultimate cause by simply studying the aftermath is not unlike attempting to define the mineral attributes of a rock thrown into a pond by studying the outermost ripples in the water. Obviously, there are inherent disadvantages in the situation, let alone a confounder of dwarfing magnitude – the idea that perhaps Somebody threw the rock.

    Chet,

    IMO, your ‘bleem’ analogy undermines your criticisms. You say,

    If love did not exist, how would you know to find its absence noteworthy?

    This is in itself an excellent question – however, note that we are reasoning from the stated claim that “God is love.” So when you ask,

    Then in the world where love does not exist, where the idea of “love” is as absurd as I’m sure you find the idea of “bleem”, would you be convinced that God did not exist?

    Most certainly if there were a book that claimed God was love!

    When a claim exists that God is love, and there is something like love in the world, corroboration occurs.

    In absence of a claim that God is bleem, and in absence of something like bleem in the world, no corroboration can occur because no premise has been made – and as you point out, one would never have reason to find bleem’s absence noteworthy at all.

  • Christopher

    cl,

    I agree, and didn’t mean to imply anything different if I did. Great quote by the way.

    I didn’t think you did – I was just pointing out that I was using a figure of speech rather than implying that it is literally possible to “experience nothing.” And don’t thank me, thank Epicurus for the qoute.

    Regarding your friend, I respect his courage, experiences and the unusual manner in which he was able to form a conclusion. However, note that his rejection of religion or the afterlife on account of the experiences you describe presumes that consciousness should proceed uninterupted during the transition, when there appears to be no logical reason to assume such. Who knows how long it might take to ‘re-awake’ so to speak?

    If you take the supernatural claims of religion seriously, you must admit that consciousness exists apart from the body – thus the state of one’s consciousness should be unaffected by the death of the body (if anything, the body’s experiences should be tied to the state of the inhabiting consciousness instead).

    But regardless, I never implied that I agreed with his reasoning – after all, just because there is no afterlife doesn’t necissarily mean there’s no “god” or paranormal (although the lack of an afterlife deprives religion of a potent motivational tool). It only means that a hypothetical “god” (assuming there is such a thing) insn’t involved in afterlives afterlives (probably never saw the point in making them…).

    The whole point of me posting that anecdote was just to let Ebonmuse know that some of his claims of logical impossibility were false – please don’t read anything else into it, as that’s all I intended to say.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Christopher,

    The whole point of me posting that anecdote was just to let Ebonmuse know that some of his claims of logical impossibility were false…

    I did read your initial post and understood it in context.

    …please don’t read anything else into it, as that’s all I intended to say.

    I wasn’t. :)

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    Save it. I’ve not said, as you caricaturize [snipped]

    Not trying to mangle your words, but it’s still post hoc rationalization. Your attempts to claim that the Bible is somehow supportive of big bang theory (or vice versa) is a great example.

    I’m collecting evidence, OMGF, and I put the evidence that corroborates the Bible in one stack, and I put the evidence that challenges the Bible in another stack.

    Evidence for the Bible does not necessarily equate to evidence for god. Please be careful with this.

    If Behe has made claims that have been falsified, then those claims were falsifiable.

    Those claims were false for sure. Those claims, however, were not sequitors as I already pointed out. I can make the claim that the moon is made of green cheese and that this means ID is true, but it simply does not follow that ID comes from the moon being made of green cheese. When you falsify my claim that the moon was made of green cheese, it does not mean that ID is somehow falsifiable or that I’ve made an ID claim that is falsifiable.

    Well I didn’t know we had an official representative from Reason here to make such an authoritative claim. I think that you and anyone else who advances this claim actually says in the subtext, “My reasoning has also ruled out certain attributes of god, like omni-max attributes.” This is of course subjective.

    Um, no. There’s actually disproofs of god. See here.

    That’s between you and God and/or the universe and always has been. I can’t provide you with a reason to believe.

    It’s not about that, it’s about asking what rational reason there is to believe in something sans evidence. If it is rational to believe in god, why is it not similarly rational to believe in leprechauns?

    I’ve not said that for one to deny another person’s logic entails a logical flaw of one’s own. I’ve said that atheism and theism are both logically flawed.

    Make up your mind. Atheism is, simply put, the denial of the flawed logic of the theist. What is logically flawed about that?

    Although there is no observable data which directly contradicts a natural cause for the universe, the belief that the universe had a natural cause cannot be proven by observable data.

    It is not logically flawed to say that the only evidence we have leads us to this provisional conclusion and that we reject the idea of a completely unevidenced god.

    Much more so for some than others, and I definitely concede that all creation stories are particularly troublesome when we’re trying to fit them into our puny little pool of knowledge.

    Pointing out the flaws of other false creation stories does nothing to shore up the problems with your own. Don’t you think it is weird that a supposedly omni-max deity that created the universe would be mistaken in his re-telling of the accounts?

  • Chet

    In absence of a claim that God is bleem

    Why do you say the claim is absent? I made that very claim, and showed how it’s a necessary consequence of the definition of “bleem” that God must be bleem, just as, in your view, it’s a necessary consequence of “love” (and “God”) that God must be love.

    There is a claim that God is bleem. Yet bleem does not exist. Nonetheless, you don’t find this proof of the non-existence of God convincing when it’s based on the non-existence of bleem. Why should we expect that you would find it convincing based on the non-existence of love?

    That’s what I’m getting at. In the alternate universe where love does not exist and friendly regard is the highest emotion humans can feel for each other, you would not be an atheist. You would still be a theist, singing the praises of the God of friendship.

    That is why your position is disingenuous.

  • ex machina

    Also, in the original essay, I myself concede that these things are by no means ‘proofs’ or truth claims; I only offer them as interesting areas where the Bible can be reasonably described as corroborated by science. They are areas where the Bible cannot be alleged as contradictory to science. As you concede yourself – there is enough detail to support the plausibility of the idea. I also concede there are areas of the Bible that do contradict current scientific consensus’ as well.

    Then I don’t understand what you are saying. It seemed you were using similarities in certain interpretations of Genesis as proof of correlation with modern science. But if you admit that parts of the Bible do flatly contradict modern discoveries, then why use it as evidence?

    Anyway, like many people, you misunderstand the word “possible.” Of course it’s “possible” that Genesis and The Big Bang theory describe the same thing. But similarly, I saw a car that was roughly the shape of a pair of shoes that I was wearing. It’s “possible” that they were created by the same person due to their vague similarity. But is it likely that they were? Would you continue to think so after you found contradictory evidence? When used in this context you see “possible” for the word it really is: One that is at at the extreme of uncertainty (just short of impossible), and accomplishing very little other than spurring further investigation. In the absence of hard corroborating evidence, possibility is worthless, it is a distinction too easily earned.

    Although, I may have missed too much of the conversion for the above to have any real bearing, insofar as you may not be saying what I think you’re saying. If so, disregard.

  • Brad

    cl,

    1. How does the text support the idea that the heavens came before the Earth? Am I wrong in interpreting “heavens and the earth” to imply simultaneity instead of sequence?

    2. Okay.

    3. Straight-up creation is different from emergence and evolution. (Perhaps bara doesn’t have to literally mean strict creation – is that what you’re getting at?)

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    I feel you frequently read much more into your opponents’ words than is necessary, and to be honest it makes it unnecessarily taxing to exchange with you. For example,

    Not trying to mangle your words, but it’s still post hoc rationalization. Your attempts to claim that the Bible is somehow supportive of big bang theory (or vice versa) is a great example.

    You did mangle my words, you’ve done it before and you did it again in the very same sentence in which you apologized for doing so! OMGF, if you wish to persuade when you debate – and you should respect that wish because you are a strong debater – don’t paraphrase your opponent! Extend your opponent courtesy by clearly understanding their argument – I don’t make ontological arguments and that’s not the point of this thread. Your entire understanding of context is incorrect here. In my responses to TGTCA, I’m not selling anyone a truth claim. I’m telling the reader that I’m weighing evidence – when a fact does not appear to directly contradict a scripture it goes in one pile; Genesis 1:1 and the Big Bang are currently in that pile. When a fact appears to contradict a scripture it goes in another pile; Luke and the census are currently in that pile. What is irrational or credulous about this? Contrary, it is an entirely reasonable and logical approach.

    How can we ever move forward if I’m constantly having to backtrack because you read too charitably? Seriously, I’m the visiting team here, often handling 3-6 conversations at once, and it’s hard enough to aptly respond to those who don’t encourage strawman argumentation by misrepresenting my claims. Another lesser example is here,

    Make up your mind. Atheism is, simply put, the denial of the flawed logic of the theist. What is logically flawed about that?

    I’ve never wavered in my statement. And BTW, defined neutrally, atheism is the disbelief in gods.

    OMGF – you are clearly intelligent, fearless and passionate for truth – such is evident – but your mind also appears clearly made up about these things. This is not tantamount to retreat, but I see little reason to continue bantering with you. Your haste precludes accurate understanding of my arguments which is legitimately frustrating, and I get the impression from your comments that you are out there more to prove theists wrong than to honestly welcome any genuine paradigm shift of your own.

    Chet,

    I don’t think “it’s a necessary consequence of love that God must be love.” That’s you paraphrasing me.

    In the alternate universe where love does not exist and friendly regard is the highest emotion humans can feel for each other, you would not be an atheist. You would still be a theist, singing the praises of the God of friendship. That is why your position is disingenuous.

    I think you’re wrong, and not sure of your overall point or goal. Put simply – the jist of TGTCA is, “what would convince one their faith was mistaken.” Since the Bible is a part of my faith, facts that directly challenge it can be considered evidence against it. If there were no love in the world, yet we still had this book called the Bible that said God was love, I would consider this evidence against the existence of God. IOW,

    That God is love and that love exists provides no problem.

    That God is love when no love exists provides a problem.

    But either way, what were you trying to get at?

    ex machina,

    I may have missed too much of the conversion for the above to have any real bearing, insofar as you may not be saying what I think you’re saying. If so, disregard.

    Disregarded.

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

    cl,

    You did mangle my words, you’ve done it before and you did it again in the very same sentence in which you apologized for doing so! OMGF, if you wish to persuade when you debate – and you should respect that wish because you are a strong debater – don’t paraphrase your opponent! Extend your opponent courtesy by clearly understanding their argument…I’m telling the reader that I’m weighing evidence – when a fact does not appear to directly contradict a scripture it goes in one pile; Genesis 1:1 and the Big Bang are currently in that pile.

    I’m not sure how you can level this charge at me when you’ve directly confirmed what I just said.

    How can we ever move forward if I’m constantly having to backtrack because you read too charitably?

    Re-phrasing what you are saying is not automatically wrong, as evidenced by what you just wrote. It is simple post hoc reasoning to assert that Genesis and the big bang are mutually supportive arguments or at least non-contradictory. There’s no reason to separate out the big bang and Genesis 1 into a separate pile unless one is supportive of the other in some way.

    I’ve never wavered in my statement. And BTW, defined neutrally, atheism is the disbelief in gods.

    I never claimed that you wavered in any way. What I claimed was that you made a factually incorrect statement. Atheism is the denial of god belief. If that god belief is based on logical fallacy (as you basically admit) then it simply does not follow that denying that belief and the logical fallacy contained in it is its own logical fallacy.

    OMGF – you are clearly intelligent, fearless and passionate for truth – such is evident – but your mind also appears clearly made up about these things.

    I don’t think I am missing the point of your comments, as your comment above indicates.

    Your haste precludes accurate understanding of my arguments which is legitimately frustrating, and I get the impression from your comments that you are out there more to prove theists wrong than to honestly welcome any genuine paradigm shift of your own.

    I only jumped in because I saw a couple of errors in your comments, like the comment about atheism necessarily entailing a logical fallacy. Other than the things I’ve pointed out, I’ve let most else try to run its course…for once.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    I’m not sure how you can level this charge at me when you’ve directly confirmed what I just said.

    Let’s see what you ‘just said:’

    Not trying to mangle your words, but it’s still post hoc rationalization. Your attempts to claim that the Bible is somehow supportive of big bang theory (or vice versa) is a great example.

    Provide a suitable, readable definition of post hoc rationalization and let’s talk.

    As far as this,

    I never claimed that you wavered in any way. What I claimed was that you made a factually incorrect statement.

    No – this is wrong – you claimed both. My original statement was, “atheism and theism are both logically flawed” and you alleged this was a “common mistake.” So you did claim I made a factually incorrect statement and I grant you that. But did you not also taunt, in a subsequent comment and in the same context, “Make up your mind?” Is that not a direct implication that I alleged A at one point and non-A elsewhere? To this I’ll accept any answer that begins with, “Yes, but…”

    And here you go again:

    If that god belief is based on logical fallacy (as you basically admit)…

    I do not admit anything of the sort and again you’ve paraphrased your opponent resulting in muddied waters. My statement was that theism and atheism are both logically flawed – this is not tantamount to concession that either of them are based on a logical fallacy. Although there is no observable data which directly contradicts a natural cause for the universe, the belief that the universe had a natural cause cannot be proven by observable data. This just means that sans manifestation or some critical mass of knowledge being reached, all logical attempts to justify either system will break down. New evidence is continually pouring in; our logic and our reason are directly dependent on our scientific and cultural progression, so the event horizon continually expands. Also note that even if you grant that atheism and theism are both ‘logically flawed’ (admittedly I could find better words), this still does not preclude the potential truth nor entail the falsity of either.

    I only jumped in because I saw a couple of errors in your comments, like the comment about atheism necessarily entailing a logical fallacy.

    Oh, you mean because my remark that atheism was logically flawed rubbed you the wrong way? What other actual errors exist in any my comments then?

  • Chet

    If there were no love in the world, yet we still had this book called the Bible that said God was love, I would consider this evidence against the existence of God. IOW,

    If love didn’t exist, what would the word “love” mean? If you read that word in the Bible, how would you know it was describing something that wasn’t in the world?

    I mean, I’ve presented you with the word “bleem”, which must have as little meaning in this world as the word “love” would in a world without love; yet the fact that the lack of bleem contradicts the existence of a God of Bleem has not made you an atheist.

    Thus I’m forced to conclude that the lack of love, even if you could know what it was in a world that didn’t have any, would not cause you to be an atheist. The Bible would simply describe God as the God of Being Friendly, and you would point to the existence of friendliness as proof of that God, and you would continue to be a theist. You’ve not met the challenge.

    But either way, what were you trying to get at?

    I thought my point was simple. I can meet the criteria of your supposed test-for-atheism now, in this world, by simply changing the words around. Since it doesn’t convince you in this world where bleem is what is missing, why would it convince you in the world where love is missing?

    Because the Bible would say “love”, and yet no love could be found? Why would the writers of the Bible use a word that had no meaning? Even if they did, how would you know what it meant? How would you know it wasn’t there?

    Since the Bible is a part of my faith, facts that directly challenge it can be considered evidence against it.

    Woah, really? I mean, then we’re really wasting time talking about love, when we should be talking about the archeological record, the fossil record, the lack of any evidence for a flood, the contradictions (internal and empirical) within Genesis and other books, the impossibility of the Exodus, the complete lack of evidence for a historical Christ, the mythology of the Passion, the failed prophecies, the incredible time lag, and all the other evidence against the historicity of the Bible.

    Or did you mean something else?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Chet,

    If you read that word in the Bible, how would you know it was describing something that wasn’t in the world?

    Because you have a definition of something alleged to exist; the Bible posits “love” and explains its fruits, so we can look around us and see if there is anything in the real world bears this out. If there is; no problem. If there is not; problem.

    I can meet the criteria of your supposed test-for-atheism now,

    I have no idea what you’re talking about? What test is this? Where do I propose a test for atheism??

    Woah, really? I mean, then we’re really wasting time talking about love, when we should be talking about the archeological record, the fossil record, the lack of any evidence for a flood, the contradictions (internal and empirical) within Genesis and other books, the impossibility of the Exodus, the complete lack of evidence for a historical Christ, the mythology of the Passion, the failed prophecies, the incredible time lag, and all the other evidence against the historicity of the Bible.

    State the first claim to which you’d like me to rebut; please go one at a time.

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

    cl,

    Provide a suitable, readable definition of post hoc rationalization and let’s talk.

    It seems that you aren’t upset with my interpretation of your arguments so much as my argument against them.

    Anyway, it’s post hoc because you are taking the result and then arguing back to shoehorn what Genesis says into what we already know.

    But did you not also taunt, in a subsequent comment and in the same context, “Make up your mind?” Is that not a direct implication that I alleged A at one point and non-A elsewhere?

    You’re right, and I apologize for my error. I had forgotten I had said that, although it doesn’t change my argument one iota – you are still making an error. Looking back, I was pointing out that you were claiming both that it is correct that denial of the theist’s flawed logic was not illogical, but that atheism was still logically flawed. Seeing as how atheism is simply a denial of the theist’s flawed logic, it’s rather contradictory to posit that atheism is both not logically flawed and logically flawed.

    I do not admit anything of the sort and again you’ve paraphrased your opponent resulting in muddied waters.

    Did you or did you not claim that both theism and atheism are logically flawed? I don’t see how you can deny that.

    My statement was that theism and atheism are both logically flawed – this is not tantamount to concession that either of them are based on a logical fallacy.

    Please explain, because it sounds like you are splitting hairs that can’t be split.

    Although there is no observable data which directly contradicts a natural cause for the universe, the belief that the universe had a natural cause cannot be proven by observable data. This just means that sans manifestation or some critical mass of knowledge being reached, all logical attempts to justify either system will break down.

    You are claiming that both systems are guilty of begging the question. I disagree, but that’s beside the current point. Begging the question is a logical fallacy, so you are, in effect, claiming both systems are guilty of being logically fallacious. Being logically fallacious does not mean that it is wrong, per se, but it is illogical. Your complaint doesn’t seem to be holding up.

    Oh, you mean because my remark that atheism was logically flawed rubbed you the wrong way? What other actual errors exist in any my comments then?

    Your comments on ID spring to mind as do your comments on disproofs of god. Another thing that springs to mind is your insistence that I’m mangling your arguments, when it appears that I’m not, and you are really objecting to what I’m saying about them in my objections. Please take this in the spirit it is given, which is not at all malicious, snarky, sarcastic, or anything similar – just because someone disagrees with you or points out an error in what you said doesn’t mean that they misinterpreted you or didn’t understand you correctly. I’ve seen this charge quite often from you lately, and sometimes it is warranted, other times it is not.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    No, I am frustrated with how you keep presenting paraphrased caricatures as my statements, but why dwell on it? State specifically what you mean when you say I’m trying to,

    shoehorn what Genesis says into what we already know.

    After that, explain this please:

    I was pointing out that you were claiming both that it is correct that denial of the theist’s flawed logic was not illogical, but that atheism was still logically flawed. Seeing as how atheism is simply a denial of the theist’s flawed logic, it’s rather contradictory to posit that atheism is both not logically flawed and logically flawed.

    I do not admit anything of the sort and again you’ve paraphrased your opponent resulting in muddied waters. (cl)

    Did you or did you not claim that both theism and atheism are logically flawed? I don’t see how you can deny that.

    Sorry, but I’m just not following you there. If you’re trying to imply I’ve posited that atheism is both not logically flawed and logically flawed, I disagree.

    What’s wrong with my comments on ID? I’ve alleged always that it is not falsifiable.

    I do reject the so-called disproofs of God that arise from the problem of evil, question of suffering, etc. One can do so and withstand accusation of factual error.

    Another thing that springs to mind is your insistence that I’m mangling your arguments, when it appears that I’m not, and you are really objecting to what I’m saying about them in my objections.

    ARE YOU KIDDING!?!? Who first used the word? Who first said November 17, 2008, 4:23 pm,

    Not trying to mangle your words…

    And that’s two times now in one comment that you’ve taken enough liberty to claim you know what it is I’m ‘really’ upset about. First you paraphrase my arguments, and now you paraphrase my inner reactions? Here’s what I object to: I object to the way you ever-so-slightly manipulate your opponents words and then knock them down, and I sometimes object to the factual matter of statement X, Y, or Z that you make.

    …just because someone disagrees with you or points out an error in what you said doesn’t mean that they misinterpreted you or didn’t understand you correctly.

    Granted. But when somebody presents a caricature of your argument and then argues against it, that’s annoying. That’s what you’re doing. I have no problem when people disagree with me. I object when people claim error and don’t back it up, as you are, especially when they themselves have made bona fide factual errors in the very same thread, as you have.

    Again, what factual errors are in my words anywhere in this thread to justify your charge? Quote me – not what you think I mean.

  • Chet

    Where do I propose a test for atheism??

    Sorry if I somehow wasn’t clear; I was talking, you know, about the whole subject of our conversation so far. Your assertion (or test) that you would be an atheist in a world with no love.

    Because you have a definition of something alleged to exist; the Bible posits “love” and explains its fruits, so we can look around us and see if there is anything in the real world bears this out.

    Interesting. Here is the Bible on love:

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Is there anything in the real world that bears that out? I think human love is a great thing – the greatest thing we men and women are capable of, perhaps – but it is, nonetheless, practiced by humans and therefore in practice falls short of the Bible’s ideal. People are people and we cannot help but be boastful, impatient, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered at times. Even in love.

    I think love is the best humans have to offer. Some might consider it divine but I reject that. Love is human.

    (Now, maybe you’re thinking “but Christ’s love is that perfect love the Bible describes”, and you may very well believe that, but that’s a bit circular, don’t you think? If the only example of the perfect love the Bible refers to is in the Bible itself? A bit too convenient, isn’t it? Especially when we’re talking about what exists outside the Bible? What I’m getting at is this – among the men and women who are your contemporaries, do you see the perfect love that keeps no record of wrongs, is patient, is kind – always? Or do you see human love as practiced by humans?)

    State the first claim to which you’d like me to rebut; please go one at a time.

    Not necessary. The Bible has been refuted to my satisfaction.

  • Virginia

    On love and goodness, I read in “God Delusion” that human species, and a lot of mammals, show “love” to their kins and even same species, is a desirable Darwinian outcome — to preserve the species’ gene but not just survival of an individual of a species, but to make the surviving species’ nummber as large as possible.
    Love, showing kindness, also induces reciprocal behavior so that within the species they will watch over each other and again enhance the survivabililty of it as a whole.
    In a way, “love”, “moral”, “goodness” as a very utilitarian objective aside from the very good and happy feeling we derived from it — and it existed long long before the first words of the Bible were spoken.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Virginia,

    Good observation. It’s not problematic though, because the Bible also asserts that God existed long, long before the first words of the Bible were written.

    Chet,

    What I’m saying about the whole God and love thing is no more or less than this: If the Bible claims God is X, but X does not exist, that is problematic. Yes or no?

    People are people and we cannot help but be boastful, impatient, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered at times. Even in love.

    Of course. I fully agree.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,
    You seem to be letting your emotions get the best of you, so I’ll try and keep this brief.

    You claimed that both theism and atheism are logically flawed, yet you also admit that denial of the logical flaws of theism do not in themselves entail logical flaws. Considering how atheism is simply the denial of the logical flaws of theism, your statement that atheism is logically flawed is incorrect.

    Your complaints about my treatments of your arguments are also without merit, as I’ve shown in previous comments. I might have used the word “mangle” first, but you were already accusing me of all kinds of strawmen, etc. before that occurred. Don’t get so hung up on specific words when it is the meanings and the flow of the discussion that matters. Yes, sometimes specific words matter, but it’s a bit disingenuous to insist that somehow I’m at fault because I used the word “mangle” before you did.

    And, no, there’s no nefarious plot to misinterpret your words, and I reject this accusation of yours. It rings particularly hollow when you accuse me of doing this, and then agree that my statement of your argument is correct, as you did with the correlation between the big bang and Genesis.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Oh, I should add that the book I linked does a lot more than argue from the problem of evil. It presents logical disproofs of the actual supposed attributes of god, including single attribute and multiple attribute disproofs. I strongly suggest that others read it.

  • Chet

    (I guess we use blockquotes instead of italics, here.)

    What I’m saying about the whole God and love thing is no more or less than this: If the Bible claims God is X, but X does not exist, that is problematic. Yes or no?

    Sure, I can accept that.

    I just can’t seem to believe that you do, since the Bible says that God is many things that don’t exist, but your faith persists regardless.

    The Bible says that God is perfect love but perfect love does not exist. The Bible says that God is infinite but infinity does not exist. The Bible says that God is omnipotent but omnipotence does not exist.

    Yet, you’re still a theist. The situation that you say would lead you to atheism is true, we’re in the world where God’s kind of love cannot be found, yet you’re not an atheist. Are you?

    If the Bible made a claim that God was X, and I tried to tell you that X did not exist, wouldn’t you simply counter that claim with the assertion that X must exist because God was the sole exemplar of it? Or perhaps I’ve judged you unfairly and you’re intellectually honest enough to recognize a circular argument before you make it. I hope so.

    Also I think there’s a possibility that we’re confusing what it means for an ideal quality to “exist.” I can point to many objects that have the quality of being blue. Is that the same as saying that the color blue exists? Does “blue” really exist in any form apart from things that are blue?

    It seems like we should have agreed on that beforehand. :)

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    BTW Chet, I love your “bleem” argument.

  • Chet

    BTW Chet, I love your “bleem” argument.

    Normally I don’t like arguments predicated on funny words, but here it seemed appropriate. And the point is pretty basic – there’s really no way to discern the lack of existence of something we haven’t even thought of.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Chet,

    I want to really address your concerns so let me reread all of our correspondence and get back to you.

    OMGF,

    As far as your contention that God can be disproven, – whatever, we disagree. That’s your opinion, and I’m not interested in changing your mind about it at all.

    I’ve tried my best to explain politely in several different contexts where and why I think you’re in error, and why it’s unpleasant for me to debate with you, and how you actually do commit very subtle but significant strawman-type fallacies.

    That you tell me to “not get so hung up on words” is interesting. My last comment to you left off with a charge to expose a factual error in any of my statements in this thread. Not that I’m saying they don’t exist, because surely they must, but note that you’ve still failed to provide even a single instance of a factual error in any of my comments on this thread! Instead, you interject your own definitions of words and fault me when my statements contradict your definitions.

    Take this for example. You said I,

    …claimed that both theism and atheism are logically flawed (I did and do) yet also admit that denial of the logical flaws of theism do not in themselves entail logical flaws (I did and do admit that). Considering how atheism is simply the denial of the logical flaws of theism, your statement that atheism is logically flawed is incorrect. (paren. and ital. mine)

    You don’t have me in some cute little trap like you think. You’ve offered your own definition as the definition, then you judge my statement against your own self-imposed definition. Notice the italicized words. You’ve alleged that my statement is incorrect because it conflicts with your definition of atheism. Notice that atheism is not “the denial of the logical flaws of theism.” Atheism is the lack of belief in gods, but atheism can and usually does entail denial of the logical flaws of theism.

    What’s that logical fallacy called, that one where you misrepresent your opponent? Remember, I do not believe that ‘atheism is simply the denial of the logical flaws of theism,’ and you are accusing me of being wrong because I don’t agree with your belief of what atheism is – and because you read some book you think makes atheism provable – is this not exactly what the fundamentalist does when he or she decries her opponent for not defining God the same way the he or she does?

    …there’s no nefarious plot to misinterpret your words, and I reject this accusation of yours. It rings particularly hollow when you accuse me of doing this, and then agree that my statement of your argument is correct, as you did with the correlation between the big bang and Genesis.

    Excuse me? I’ve never agreed to that, and I don’t think there’s a plot – I allege you debate in haste, and I allege you put words in your opponents’ mouth. In fact, you just did it again above – note the italics. I never agreed to that, but by forcing your own interpretation of what I said you are able to create this illusion that I contradict myself.

    Want other examples?

    1) You alleged that I’d wavered about the ‘logically flawed’ comment when I had not, then denied your own allegation!

    2) You complained about my comments surrounding ID when I’ve maintained that ID is not falsifiable all along!

    3) You said, “Sorry I mangled your words,” then chastised me for noting that you mangled my words!

    How fun or productive is any of that to cogent debate?

    I suspect we’ll never see eye to eye, and if you can’t admit you are charging me with factual error simply because I reject your ad hoc definition of atheism, we are at a point where we need third party arbitration. Without that, or a new method of debate that we might both agree to, I have little interest in continuing.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    As far as your contention that God can be disproven, – whatever, we disagree.

    Certain gods can be disproven based on the attributes that they supposedly have. Certain gods lie beyond the ability to disprove, although I wonder what’s the utility of having a god of this kind.

    Not that I’m saying they don’t exist, because surely they must, but note that you’ve still failed to provide even a single instance of a factual error in any of my comments on this thread!

    That’s simply not true. Your comments on atheism were factually incorrect.

    You don’t have me in some cute little trap like you think. You’ve offered your own definition as the definition, then you judge my statement against your own self-imposed definition.

    Not trying to trap you, just pointing out your error. The definition I’m using is the definition of atheism. Atheism is simple the denial of gods – that theists have not proven their point, mostly because of the logical fallacies inherent in theism.

    Notice that atheism is not “the denial of the logical flaws of theism.” Atheism is the lack of belief in gods, but atheism can and usually does entail denial of the logical flaws of theism.

    You’re trying to split hairs that can’t be split.

    Remember, I do not believe that ‘atheism is simply the denial of the logical flaws of theism,’ and you are accusing me of being wrong because I don’t agree with your belief of what atheism is – and because you read some book you think makes atheism provable – is this not exactly what the fundamentalist does when he or she decries her opponent for not defining God the same way the he or she does?

    Take a deep breath. OK? Good. Nowhere did I claim that atheism is provable. It’s well known that it’s nigh impossible to prove a negative. What I said was that some conceptions of god are disprovable and disproved. What was it you were saying about misinterpreting or misrepresenting someone’s argument?

    Either way, atheism is not necessarily logical flawed as you have contended. If I deny your god because you rely on logical fallacy, that doesn’t mean that I am making a logical fallacy of my own. That is your error, which you persist in making.

    In fact, you just did it again above – note the italics. I never agreed to that, but by forcing your own interpretation of what I said you are able to create this illusion that I contradict myself.

    Sorry, that was sloppy. What I should have said is that you objected to my characterization of your argument, then proceeded to state the same thing that I said. Oh wait, that’s what I said originally that you are arguing about now. I think you are projecting, seeing as how you have much difficulty understanding what others are saying to you. You can’t comprehend my words and you’ve still not figured out Chet’s rather straight-forward argument.

    If I’m the kettle, you must be the pot.

    1) You alleged that I’d wavered about the ‘logically flawed’ comment when I had not, then denied your own allegation!

    I did not deny it, I stated that I had forgotten about my statement. In fact, I apologized for my error in mistaking my own words. Who is mangling words now?

    2) You complained about my comments surrounding ID when I’ve maintained that ID is not falsifiable all along!

    You have. You’ve also made rather erroneous statements about the work of IDers and their use of evidence, which is what I directed my arguments towards. If you are confused about ID and the use of evidence, that’s not my fault – I was simply pointing out where you were in error or at least not being precise.

    3) You said, “Sorry I mangled your words,” then chastised me for noting that you mangled my words!

    Again, you look the hypocrite now. I never acknowledged that I was mangling your words, because I don’t think I was. You accused me of such (not using the actual word “mangle” or “mangling” so don’t act like I’m saying you did) and I replied that it was not my intent to mangle anything and that I didn’t feel like I was doing so. This was your opening to attack me as if I had instead of dealing with the problems in your own arguments.

    Not only do you make yourself the hypocrite, but I have the sneaking feeling that this is your way of dodging arguments and not having to deal with anything beyond the superficial. The more you allow us to dig into your beliefs, the higher the possibility that we will find your logical flaws and problems in your beliefs – problems that are inherent with any theistic belief. I may be wrong, but it seems like you are trying to shield yourself from any criticism by continually claiming that others don’t understand you, etc. By doing this instead of illucidating your views, you are safe to simply continue to deny anything and everything that is problematic.

    How fun or productive is any of that to cogent debate?

    Considering that you are doing exactly what you accuse me of, you tell me. My points still stand. You are in error about atheism being logically flawed while also admitting that theism is logically flawed. (That was not a smart position to walk into, was it?) You are also guilty of post hoc reasoning in regards to the Bible and what we know from science. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

    I suspect we’ll never see eye to eye, and if you can’t admit you are charging me with factual error simply because I reject your ad hoc definition of atheism, we are at a point where we need third party arbitration.

    I’m more than willing to see what others here say about atheism’s alleged inherent logical flaws. The fact remains that I am not employing an ad hoc definition. Atheists hold that the theist has not met his/her burden of proof, therefore it is illogical and irrational to believe in the god posited by the theist. This does not entail a logical fallacy. So sorry for you, but you are simply wrong.

  • Brad

    Metadebate appears to have a very selfsimilar pattern…

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    What’s scary is that I don’t even consider that to be a metadebate! I was trying to keep to a few specific points and we kinda did, it’s just that we are both too long-winded for our own good.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Chet,

    Your first comment occurred November 17, 2008, 2:29 pm. After the words ‘very well’ you began your bleem argument:

    1) You propose bleem as an emotion better than love;

    2) You imply that God is bleem;

    3) You then state that bleem doesn’t exist.

    4) You then ask me if I would be convinced that God did not exist under those conditions. I said yes.

    And although I’ve not proposed any ‘proof’ of anything, you closed your first comment with,

    That is why your ‘proof’ is no such, and why it fails to be empirical.

    Your next comment comes November 17, 2008, 4:55 pm. You say,

    There is a claim that God is bleem. Yet bleem does not exist.

    Okay…

    Nonetheless, you don’t find this proof of the non-existence of God convincing when it’s based on the non-existence of bleem.

    and you clarify yourself in a subsequent comment:

    …there’s really no way to discern the lack of existence of something we haven’t even thought of.

    Correct. You correctly posit that in a world with no love, even with a book that said “God is love,” one wouldn’t know what to look for because one would have no empirical precedent. However, if that book also described love, then we would have some clues.

    Your third comment comes November 17, 2008, 9:07 pm and you expand on this point:

    If love didn’t exist, what would the word “love” mean? If you read that word in the Bible, how would you know it was describing something that wasn’t in the world?

    Again – I wouldn’t, unless clarification was provided. However, I could decide if I believed that the Bible was describing something I actually felt, and if your hypothetical book also told us what bleem was, we would know roughly what to look for even if it didn’t exist. Lack of perception does not preclude existence.

    Now – you say,

    …yet the fact that the lack of bleem contradicts the existence of a God of Bleem has not made you an atheist.

    Actually, Chet, it has, and regarding the God of bleem, I am an atheist, so when you say that you are “forced”

    …to conclude that the lack of love, even if (I) could know what it was in a world that didn’t have any, would not cause (me) to be an atheist,

    I can only ask, Why? Who or what is forcing you to conclude such? Your next comment comes November 18, 2008, 12:36 pm. In response to my,

    If the Bible claims God is X, but X does not exist, that is problematic,

    you said,

    Sure, I can accept that. I just can’t seem to believe that you do since the Bible says that God is many things that don’t exist, but your faith persists regardless.

    and you attempt to justify this ‘conclusion’ with no less than three red herrings:

    The Bible says that God is perfect love but perfect love does not exist.

    I won’t claim to know that.

    The Bible says that God is infinite but infinity does not exist.

    I grant the Bible implies God’s eternal nature, but that infinity does not exist is an unknowable, subjective claim. I won’t claim to know that.

    The Bible says that God is omnipotent but omnipotence does not exist.

    The Bible says “with God all things are possible.” I won’t claim to know whether omnipotence exists or not, because it’s a subjective claim.

    After offering those, you continue,

    The situation that you say would lead you to atheism is true, we’re in the world where God’s kind of love cannot be found, yet you’re not an atheist. Are you?

    No, I’m not an atheist, and the situation I said might cause me to doubt theism (notice the difference between that and your italicized words?) is not true. That we are in a world where “God’s kind of love cannot be found” is yet another subjective claim, and your opinion.

    If the Bible made a claim that God was X, and I tried to tell you that X did not exist, wouldn’t you simply counter that claim with the assertion that X must exist because God was the sole exemplar of it?

    No. Isn’t that presuppositional apologetics? I don’t buy that crap. Talk to Sye T.

    Or perhaps I’ve judged you unfairly and you’re intellectually honest enough to recognize a circular argument before you make it. I hope so.

    I don’t know if you’ve judged me unfairly or not. I am intellectually honest enough to admit any mistake and I understand what a circular argument is.

    I don’t feel I’ve made a circular argument. I feel I’ve withstood your criticisms and successfully refuted your logic.

    If you disagree, I’m always willing to reevaluate.

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

    I won’t claim to know whether omnipotence exists or not, because it’s a subjective claim.

    What is subjective about a claim of omnipotence or the existence of non-existence of infinity?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    I will address your comment November 18, 2008, 4:48 pm. For now,

    What is subjective about a claim of omnipotence or the existence of non-existence of infinity?

    No one posited that a “claim of omnipotence” or “the existence of non-existence of infinity (whatever that means)” were subjective. Chet posited that such a thing as omnipotence does not exist, that perfect love does not exist, and that infinity does not exist. These are unknowables, subjective claims, free lunches, and most importantly, in mine and Chet’s discussion about bleem they were irrelevant red herrings introduced to support a conclusion the chain of logic didn’t.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    “the existence of non-existence of infinity” should have been “the existence or non-existence of infinity.”

    I’m still not seeing how this is a subjective claim. I can see maybe that the claim of perfect love might be subjective, but not the claims of omnipotence or infinity. Both of those have specific definitions that are not open to subjective interpretation. If I claim that omnipotence does not exist, I’m making a factual (right or wrong) claim about the universe. Being unknowable does not equal subjective.

    Further, I don’t see the difference between your first sentence and the second. No one posited that omnipotence or the existence of infinity are subjective? But, they did claim that (the existence of) omnipotence and the existence of infinity are subjective? I’m not seeing a difference there.

  • Chet

    I can only ask, Why? Who or what is forcing you to conclude such?

    Conclude what? You’ve radically altered my words by exchanging “you” for “me.” It’s not my atheism we’re talking about, it’s your theism. But perhaps I’ve simply misunderstood your quoting style.

    Which I’m forced to conclude would be unchanged even under the conditions you’ve claimed might lead you to atheism. And what’s forcing me to conclude that is you, and the way you respond to my arguments. Like so:

    I won’t claim to know that.

    Wait, what? You’re covering your ass, here. If you won’t claim to know that perfect love doesn’t exist in this world, presumably because there’s much of the world you’ve never seen, or because “perfect love” is a term subject to interpretation (although I felt that the Bible verse I gave you gave a pretty diagnostic set of criteria), why couldn’t you make the same ass-covering argument in the alternate, loveless world?

    Do you see, yet, why I’m forced to conclude you’d remain a theist? The tenuous fig leaves you reach for to cover the intellectual inadequacies of your theism in this universe would certainly be available in that other. Why should I assume you wouldn’t reach for them in that world, when you’re so eager to do so in this one?

    That we are in a world where “God’s kind of love cannot be found” is yet another subjective claim, and your opinion.

    So now you’re hiding behind subjectivity? How would you avoid making the same claim in the alternate, loveless universe? “Oh, it’s just your subjective opinion that there’s no such thing as love.”

    As I said it’s the arguments you reach for here to cover the deficiencies of your theism that force me to conclude that you’d reach for the same arguments in the loveless, alternate universe where you claim you might be an atheist. I’m forced to conclude that, no, you’d still be a theist, making much the same argument you’re making now.

    Indeed it’s pretty easy to imagine a third alternate you, in the universe where bleem is real, pointing to the existence of bleem as evidence of God, and asserting that, on the other hand, in the alternate universe where bleem was not real and love was the best we had, you’d consider that pretty strong evidence for atheism.

    And here you are, in that universe’s counterfactual, as theist as ever. That’s really the problem with counterfactual arguments – the factual is always the counterfactual of something.

    The Bible says “with God all things are possible.”

    Only if He exists. Try not to assume what you’re trying to prove, ok?

    I grant the Bible implies God’s eternal nature, but that infinity does not exist is an unknowable, subjective claim.

    How so? The universe is finite. It’s known to be finite. Both in time and space. (Were the universe infinite in either of those dimensions, the night sky would not be a dark firmament of stars, but infinitely bright, washed out by the infinite light of an infinite number of stars.)

    How can a finite universe have room for an infinity? This doesn’t seem all that controversial.

    I don’t feel I’ve made a circular argument.

    I’m not saying you have. “Presuppositional apologetics”, as you quite succinctly call it, is the circular argument, and you’ve wisely rejected it. I give you full credit for that, at least. (I only referred to it because it’s a common argument, as you must know, and I was hoping to head it off at the pass, as it were. But I think we agree that it’s irrelevant. Forget I even mentioned it.)

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Chet,

    You’ve radically altered my words by exchanging “you” for “me.”

    My apologies for your confusion. I forgot to include (paren. mine) when I attempted to clarify context there. I do this only because nested quotes with undetermined pronouns can get pretty difficult to follow after a while. Again, I do apologize for causing you confusion here.

    Okay, think I found it. Here’s your original, in the context of you speaking to me, November 17, 2008, 9:07 pm:

    Thus I’m forced to conclude that the lack of love, even if you could know what it was in a world that didn’t have any, would not cause you to be an atheist.

    This is identical in meaning to,

    Thus (Chet is) forced to conclude that the lack of love, even if (cl) could know what it was in a world that didn’t have any, would not cause (cl) to be an atheist.

    These two statements are identical in meaning – Yes or No?

    I think yes. So, when I say November 18, 2008, 9:40 pm, in the context of me speaking to you,

    …so when you say that you are forced “…to conclude that the lack of love, even if (I) could know what it was in a world that didn’t have any, would not cause (me) to be an atheist,” I can only ask, Why?

    this is identical in meaning to the following (paren. mine):

    “…so when (Chet) says that (Chet) is forced ‘…to conclude that the lack of love, even if (cl) could know what it was in a world that didn’t have any, would not cause (cl) to be an atheist,’ (cl) can only ask why”

    So I’ve not radically altered anything, but correctly preserved context. Yes or no?

    I think yes.

    You also told me “the Bible says God is omnipotent…” Yes or No?

    Yes, you did, and I added that the Bible says “with God all things are possible” to corroborate your statement. So when you taunt,

    Try not to assume what you’re trying to prove, ok?

    I find it quite silly. I’m not trying to prove God and I reject ontological arguments anyways.

    The Bible says that God is perfect love but perfect love does not exist. The Bible says that God is infinite but infinity does not exist. The Bible says that God is omnipotent but omnipotence does not exist.

    Although ‘omnipotence’ and ‘infinity’ might exist objectively, to claim whether they do or do not is simply outside the jurisdiction of the available evidence. That’s why I denounce these as subjective. However, I do see how and why you think these support your bleem analogy – but they don’t. They do support implied charges of special pleading. As such, your statements about whether perfect love, omnipotence, and infinity exist do not directly support your counterfactual argument; they are red herrings.

    Are you not arguing that although these things don’t exist here in our universe, my faith remains even though the Bible says these things do exist, and that’s why you doubt that in a universe without bleem I would be an atheist?

    The analogy / argument fails.

    In this world, the Bible claims that God is love, and love exists. I have experienced what the Bible describes as love; so this is a bit of evidence in the God of the Bible’s favor, IMO.

    In bleem-world, the book of Chet claims God is bleem, yet no bleem exists. If no bleem exists, then I have not felt bleem and cannot feel bleem; so this lack of evidence produces a logical disconnect, and the claims that God is bleem, that bleem exists, and that God exist all become specious and logically untenable in their respective contexts.

    I maintain that in a world where God was bleem, and there was no bleem, and I never felt bleem, I would consider that preliminary evidence against the God of bleem. So I said that I am an atheist regarding the God of bleem, and in reference to this you told me,

    Sure, I can accept that. I just can’t seem to believe that you do since the Bible says that God is many things that don’t exist, but your faith persists regardless. (emph. mine)

    So, because you offer three red herrings that imply special pleading, I can’t possibly be genuine in what I say? Interesting… Essentially, Chet, after all this, your argument amounts to “I don’t believe you,” and it’s not based on logic, reason, nor evidence, but doubt.

    See, no contradiction, special pleading, or retreat from empiricism (ass covering) on my behalf; rather, clear and specific address of your argument, in which you successfully demonstrate not that I’ve breached any logic, but simply that you don’t believe me.

    Hmph.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    Regarding omnipotence and infinity, you said

    Both of those have specific definitions that are not open to subjective interpretation. If I claim that omnipotence does not exist, I’m making a factual (right or wrong) claim about the universe. Being unknowable does not equal subjective.

    Correct. If one claims that omnipotence, love, and infinity do not exist, one is making an objective (factual) claim, in the sense that what one claims is a matter of fact and not opinion – IOW, omnipotence, love, and infinity either exist or they do not – no middle ground. I agree to that. Do you?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    So, why did you claim that it was subjective? You said:

    Chet posited that such a thing as omnipotence does not exist, that perfect love does not exist, and that infinity does not exist. These are unknowables, subjective claims…

    Yet, now you are saying the opposite.
    You also said,

    Although ‘omnipotence’ and ‘infinity’ might exist objectively, to claim whether they do or do not is simply outside the jurisdiction of the available evidence. That’s why I denounce these as subjective.

    Which doesn’t make sense. Why would you “denounce” something as subjective? Is “subjective” a bad thing? And, would you claim that any over-reaching statement is subjective? This is not what subjective means. You should instead say that the claim is unproven or something similar.

  • Chet

    My apologies for your confusion. I forgot to include (paren. mine) when I attempted to clarify context there.

    I don’t want to get too much into the metadebate but I guess I understand now what was going on there. It just threw me for a second (and it wouldn’t have been the first time I’ve had someone misrepresent my argument for their own purposes by actually redacting material they attributed to me.) Not important.

    Although ‘omnipotence’ and ‘infinity’ might exist objectively, to claim whether they do or do not is simply outside the jurisdiction of the available evidence

    How would that be different than assessing whether or not love existed as defined in the Bible? If you can’t just look around and see that omnipotence and infinity don’t exist, how could alternate-you be convinced that love doesn’t exist?

    Do you see what I’m getting at? The point here is whether or not, despite what you say now, you would find the criteria you’ve presented persuasive if it were actually true. But you continue you make it obvious that you would not – that a world without love would be no obstacle to your theism. You would simply say “whether love exists or not is simply outside the jurisdiction of the available evidence” and persist in theism.

    As such, your statements about whether perfect love, omnipotence, and infinity exist do not directly support your counterfactual argument; they are red herrings.

    To the contrary; they’re quite on point, as I’ve shown. The question, to be absolutely blunt, is whether or not you are lying/mistaken when you say that you would find a lack of love conclusive as to the non-existence of God (or at least, significant.)

    Since we can substitute other things that God must be that don’t exist in this universe for “love” in your argument without changing its validity, thus making it true in this universe, the fact that you remain unpersuaded proves pretty convincingly that you are not telling the truth when you say that you would be convinced to consider atheism by a lack of love in the universe.

    So, because you offer three red herrings that imply special pleading, I can’t possibly be genuine in what I say?

    You can’t be genuine because when I meet the criteria you’ve set forth, you accuse me of having not done so. You can’t be genuine because you’re not giving your own argument genuine consideration when it’s turned back against you.

    You can’t be genuine, in other words, because I can see you palming the pea (so to speak.) You can’t be genuine because you’re not behaving genuinely.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    So, why did you claim that it was subjective? … now you are saying the opposite… You also said… (blah blah blah) (paren mine.)

    Slow down will you? Please, just answer my comment November 19, 2008, 6:33 pm with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and let me explain my own position..

    Chet,

    If you can’t just look around and see that omnipotence and infinity don’t exist, how could alternate-you be convinced that love doesn’t exist?

    Alternate-cl wouldn’t be ‘convinced’ that love doesn’t exist. Alternate-cl would simply note the Bible both claims love exists and describes it, and if Alternate-cl had not experienced love, Alternate-cl would sense a logical disconnect, and state such as sufficient preliminary grounds to deny the logical plausibility of either God, love, or both.

    But you continue you make it obvious that you would not – that a world without love would be no obstacle to your theism. You would simply say “whether love exists or not is simply outside the jurisdiction of the available evidence” and persist in theism… The question, to be absolutely blunt, is whether or not you are lying/mistaken when you say that you would find a lack of love conclusive as to the non-existence of God (or at least, significant.) (emph. mine)

    Look… if you want to persist in telling me what I would do in a counterfactual world, what can I honestly reply to you, and more importantly, what’s the point of further discourse? You simply re-iterate that you don’t believe me. Your attempts to prove such by offering omnipotence and infinity fail. I have not felt anything close to infinity nor omnipotence, and BTW, because of that, I sense a logical disconnect, and state such as sufficient preliminary grounds to deny the logical plausibility of either God, omnipotence, infinity or all three.

    You close with,

    You can’t be genuine because when I meet the criteria you’ve set forth, you accuse me of having not done so.

    What criteria did I set forth? Was it not you who set up the bleem analogy?

    You can’t be genuine because you’re not giving your own argument genuine consideration when it’s turned back against you. You can’t be genuine, in other words, because I can see you palming the pea (so to speak.) You can’t be genuine because you’re not behaving genuinely.

    Yes I am being genuine, and I’ve spent hours flipping this argument back on me. You argue that although omnipotence and infinity equally don’t exist here in our universe, my faith remains even though the Bible says they do. You allege such is not justifiable, and that’s why you doubt that in a universe without love I would be an atheist.

    To recap:

    1) cl says, “given X and Y, I would assert Z”

    2) Chet says again, “given X and Y, I don’t believe cl would assert Z”

    Seriously, how is that a logical argument? How am I not behaving genuinely? Please, explain.

    My intent is not to patronize you but to reach common ground.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    Slow down will you? Please, just answer my comment November 19, 2008, 6:33 pm with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and let me explain my own position..

    Why should I slow down and answer your question when the issue on the table was brought up several comments ago and you are on record as contradicting yourself? What is there to explain, and how would my answer to your question change anything in your explanation?

  • Chet

    Alternate-cl wouldn’t be ‘convinced’ that love doesn’t exist. Alternate-cl would simply note the Bible both claims love exists and describes it, and if Alternate-cl had not experienced love, Alternate-cl would sense a logical disconnect

    How can you say that? When, in this very thread, you responded to my claims of the non-existence of various things – things that I know you have not experienced because it would be impossible for you to have done so – with the rebuttal that it was simply my “opinion”, that it was “subjective”, that “you could not possibly know” that there was no such thing as love?

    Why would bizzaro-cl make different arguments than you’ve been making, here? Why would I expect bizarro-cl to live behind any less of a bulwark of invincible ignorance than you appear to live in, here?

    Look… if you want to persist in telling me what I would do in a counterfactual world, what can I honestly reply to you, and more importantly, what’s the point of further discourse?

    There’s probably no point. Why do you keep replying? And in your replies, why do you keep missing the point – why should I believe that bizzaro-cl would defend his theism with any less tenacity than the real cl does? Why should I believe that alternate version of you wouldn’t simply reach for the same arguments predicated on the same faulty premises?

    I have not felt anything close to infinity nor omnipotence, and BTW, because of that, I sense a logical disconnect, and state such as sufficient preliminary grounds to deny the logical plausibility of either God, omnipotence, infinity or all three.

    But you’re still not an atheist. So isn’t it the case that your theism has absolutely nothing to do with logic? Even if bizzaro-cl could be convinced to his satisfaction that the lack of love was a critical disproof of the existence of God, why should I believe that he wouldn’t continue to defend theism?

    And if that’s true, isn’t it disingenuous for you to portray a counterfactual non-existence of love as a criteria for your conversion to atheism, when it’s obvious that it would be no such thing? Wasn’t the point here Ebonmuse’s challenge? “What argument or observation could convince you to not believe in God?”

    Isn’t the answer to that question obvious, at this point? Isn’t it the same as it is for every theist – absolutely nothing at all?

    To recap:
    1) cl says, “given X and Y, I would assert Z”
    2) Chet says again, “given X and Y, I don’t believe cl would assert Z”

    Here’s the missing third and forth step:
    Chet: Here are X and Y.
    Cl: I do not assert Z.

    Do you see why I can’t believe your assertions about your alternate self? Because, when given the opportunity – indeed, the necessity – to arrive at the same conclusion you say your alternate would have to, you balk.

    Which makes me think your alternate self would balk, as well. I don’t think you can be convinced against theism by any argument.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Chet,

    There’s probably no point. Why do you keep replying? And in your replies, why do you keep missing the point

    For me, it’s been the desire to understand your argument which I believe I do, and also the challenge to better articulate myself. I keep replying to be sure I’ve not misunderstood your argument, which I believe I haven’t, and also to demonstrate that I’ve thought your argument through, which I have, several times.

    Now, I was thinking about all this at dinner last night, and had a moment of clarity as to why you might be having such difficulty finding my statements credible. It has to do with the scope of your bleem analogy. Please, let’s see this interesting dialog to the end, because we’ve both invested much and I think we’re really close to common ground.

    I’ve said that if I lived in a world where book X said God was Y, and there was no Y, that I would sense a logical disconnect and consider that a strike against either book X, God, Y, or some combination. Right?

    And you maintain,

    How can you say that? When, in this very thread, you responded to my claims of the non-existence of various things – things that I know you have not experienced because it would be impossible for you to have done so – with the rebuttal that it was simply my “opinion”, that it was “subjective”, that “you could not possibly know” that there was no such thing as love?

    I did remark that your claims that perfect love, omnipotence, and infinity do not exist were subjective opinions. They are. As of yet, we can’t know whether the claims you make are true. However, you brought them up to make a valid comparison, which I’ll take liberty to paraphrase here: “But cl, book X says Y and Z exist right here and now, and you haven’t felt Y or Z, yet your faith remains!?” Right?

    I have not been inconsistent.

    For the sake of this argument, I’ll agree that the Bible says God is both omnipotent and infinite, and I’ll agree that I’ve not felt either of those in my life. As I admitted, I do feel an authentic logical disconnect on both of these points, and this logical disconnect is a direct challenge to my faith, today. You claim I’m being dishonest, because I make a statement like the one I just made, and still maintain faith in this world. However, in this world, the disconnect I sense over not having felt omnipotence or infinity is quite small compared to the connect I sense on many other related issues.

    I’m not being dishonest – I did say that my lack of ability to experience God-attributes omnipotence and infinity were strikes against belief, and I meant it. However, IYO, these strikes justify tearing the whole house down (atheism), when IMO they justify only a few cracks in the foundation (preliminary doubts). The free lunch is that my ability to experience God-attribute X, Y or Z is (or should be) the only evidence I factor into my decision, when I’ve never agreed to that.

    So you have to clarify your bleem analogy: In bleem world, is the existence of stated God-attribute X, Y, or Z my only admissible piece of evidence? Or, in bleem world, do I have a reservoir of other ‘connects’ that the bleem ‘disconnect’ must first sufficiently topple before atheism becomes a logically tenable conclusion?

    Make sense? I hope so, ‘cuz my brain hurts.

    OMGF,

    Why should I slow down and answer your question when the issue on the table was brought up several comments ago and you are on record as contradicting yourself?

    You should slow down and answer my question if you want to truly understand me and/or my position, and for me, better and more revealing questions are, Why are you pressing a tangential issue of thread drift so hard if my contradiction is allegedly already on record? If the issue on the table was brought up several comments ago, and you allege that I am on record as contradicting myself, why would a rational individual devote further energy to rehashing?

    What is there to explain, and how would my answer to your question change anything in your explanation?

    Well, we can never get to that if you unwilling to answer a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to comment November 19, 2008, 6:33…

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    You should slow down and answer my question if you want to truly understand me and/or my position…

    I understand you perfectly, and I understand that you are making errors in your arguments. For example,

    I did remark that your claims that perfect love, omnipotence, and infinity do not exist were subjective opinions. They are.

    This is why I’m still replying, because you keep making the same elementary errors and saying erroneous things, even after agreeing that the claims as to the existence of these things are NOT subjective. What is wrong with you? Seriously? Are you that addicted to never being wrong that you can live with this much cognitive dissonance? If you don’t know what “subjective” means, then stop using the term.

    Well, we can never get to that if you unwilling to answer a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to comment November 19, 2008, 6:33…

    OK, this is just pathetic. Because you ask an irrelevant question that I have to answer before you will say anything, you will instead complain that I’m being mean by taking you to task for using words that you don’t understand?

    Let me tell you what else you don’t understand, and that’s Chet’s argument. It’s pretty straight-forward too. The fact that you can’t grasp it should be embarrassing for you, considering that it’s that easy to grasp. I’m actually laughing at you for flailing so badly and being completely unable to figure out how badly he’s exposed your argument. And, yes, you can come back at me with your, “And you taunt me with…” or with your, “You’re being mean to me,” complaints, to which I’m going to simply say, “Want some cheese with that whine?” I’ll probably also say that you should examine the log in your eye before making more accusations that don’t hold up, and that you are projecting.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    …you are making errors in your arguments…you keep making the same elementary errors…saying erroneous things…addicted to never being wrong…this is just pathetic…you ask an irrelevant question that I have to answer before you will say anything…you will instead complain that I’m being mean…let me tell you what else you don’t understand, and that’s Chet’s argument…the fact that you can’t grasp it should be embarrassing for you…I’m actually laughing at you for flailing so badly…completely unable to figure out how badly he’s exposed your argument…want some cheese with that whine…examine the log in your eye before making more accusations that don’t hold up…

    My, my… aren’t you going to huff and puff and blow my house down! :) Now let’s get to it…

    If you don’t know what “subjective” means, then stop using the term… Let me tell you what else you don’t understand, and that’s Chet’s argument.

    Hmmm… You claim I don’t understand Chet’s argument, yet, as I’ve also done in two previous comments now, in my comment to Chet November 20, 2008, 3:54 pm, I articulate Chet’s argument quite accurately:

    “But cl, book X says Y and Z exist right here and now, and you haven’t felt Y or Z, yet your faith remains!?”

    So, Chet doubts I would doubt in a world where I felt no bleem, because we live in a world where I feel no omnipotence or infinity now, yet my faith remains. Correct?

    Now, OMGF – you are also implying that I misunderstand subjectivity, correct? And you are advising that I should either demonstrate that I do understand subjectivity, or shut the hell up, correct? Yet, when I ask whether you agree with my elucidation of objectivity, you refuse to grant a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to this point, correct? The answers to each of those are undeniably ‘Yes.’

    So, for reasons very analogous to those Chet rests upon in doubting that I would doubt in a world without bleem, I doubt you would grant that I understand subjectivity correctly even though I can demonstrate that I do, because we live in a world where I’ve correctly defined objectivity now, yet you persist in your refusal to grant a straightforward ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to that point.

    So why should I believe you’d grant that I understand subjectivity?

    Hey, that argument sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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

    cl,

    Hmmm… You claim I don’t understand Chet’s argument, yet, as I’ve also done in two previous comments now, in my comment to Chet November 20, 2008, 3:54 pm, I articulate Chet’s argument quite accurately:…

    Stop being so full of yourself, because you still don’t get it.

    So, Chet doubts I would doubt in a world where I felt no bleem, because we live in a world where I feel no omnipotence or infinity now, yet my faith remains. Correct?

    That’s part of it, nice of you to finally figure part of it out. How long did it take?

    So, for reasons very analogous to those Chet rests upon in doubting that I would doubt in a world without bleem, I doubt you would grant that I understand subjectivity correctly even though I can demonstrate that I do, because we live in a world where I’ve correctly defined objectivity now, yet you persist in your refusal to grant a straightforward ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to that point.

    Except that you’ve demonstrated that you don’t know what subjective is, so you should correct that. Instead of making blow-hard noises and banging your drum as loudly as you can, you should correct your mistake and learn from it.

    So why should I believe you’d grant that I understand subjectivity?

    Because I’ve only challenged you on concepts that you’ve shown not to understand.

    Hey, that argument sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

    Not really, and it shows that you still haven’t grasped Chet’s simple argument. Man, you must feel really embarrassed now…at least you should. And, not because you didn’t understand something, but because of all your false bravado. Seriously, we aren’t impressed by people who act like they know what they are talking about. We see through that stuff. You have to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Sure, in most situations, most people are cowed by someone who talks loudly, forcefully, and confidently that they know their topic and that they know what it is they are saying. But, that doesn’t work here, with the caliber of people that we have at this blog. No one is fooled by your bluster. Please take this in the spirit it is given. Be yourself. Don’t try to artificially prop yourself up or speak to things that you don’t understand or know. If you don’t understand Chet’s argument, don’t argue against it, try to figure out what he means. If you don’t know what “subjective” means, don’t use it. Try to find some other way of expressing the thoughts that you have.

  • John D.

    If I may butt in to this somewhat heated exchange (OMGF and cl)…:

    I would just like to say that, OMGF, having read the debate as a neutral observer, some of the things cl says about your style of argument are true, IMO. It is quite hasty, which means you occasionally haven’t got the central point cl is trying to make (I don’t pronounce on who is right or wrong); the tendency to paraphrase inaccurately is also present, despite your protests. It seems in general that you are not approaching the debate in a spirit of openness, willingness to listen and readiness to learn. I would say these things are essential in any fruitful debate.

    This SEEMS to be the case from what I have read; perhaps I have got the wrong impression. In either case, I thought it might be worthwhile for you to know the impression you can give off by your style.

    No offence at all intended, my good man; I sincerely hope none is taken.

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

    John D,
    Please point out specific examples. Can’t. K, thxbai.

  • John D.

    OMGF
    I’ve said what I felt I should say; how you accept it is up to you.

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

    IOW, you can make accusations as to my character, but you can’t back them up? Good, you and cl can go have a pity party. He couldn’t back them up, and in the process of trying did everything he accused me of, and you can’t either. Good day, and stop blaming me because you can’t defend your arguments or your accusations.

    Oh, and stop thinking that I’m some mean atheist that isn’t nice enough to you. You and cl don’t like how I don’t sugar-coat stuff? Too bad. I’m not going to nice-ify things just to make you feel better? Why? Because I’d rather treat you like adults than like kids that need to be coaxed along and have their egos stroked. But, perhaps you would like me to condescend to you? If that’s what you really want, I can do that, but I don’t see why you’d ask me to disrespect you and cl like that.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    IOW, you can make accusations as to my character, but you can’t back them up? Good, you and cl can go have a pity party. He couldn’t back them up, and in the process of trying did everything he accused me of, and you can’t either.

    I can back my claims about your hasty debating style for sure, and I will present my claims, but for now less is more. For now, I’m hoping to hear from Chet because I introduced new material in my last response to him that I’m curious to see how he processes. You didn’t make any mention of it, which left me to wonder if you caught it or not… Did you?

    Oh, and stop thinking that I’m some mean atheist that isn’t nice enough to you. You and cl don’t like how I don’t sugar-coat stuff? Too bad.

    That believers think atheists are mean is a stereotype, OMGF, and actually, I love that you are blunt and bold. I appreciate the fact that you don’t pull punches. It’s a fantastic quality for a debater to have. So you confuse my frustration with your haste as distaste for your delivery. I don’t think you’re mean at all, just kinda snarky, but I really don’t mind your snark, it’s humorous and rather revealing…

    While I’m not going to post another 10 or 20 comments to this thread, I’m far from done with you, OMGF, just pausing momentarily, because as evidenced by your behavior at DA before, you’ll go on and on and on and on with somebody until Ebonmuse even tires of it and pulls the plug…

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    …full of yourself…nice of you to finally figure part of it out…you don’t know what subjective is…making blow-hard noises and banging your drum…

    (I added those to the list for you)

    Two things, though:

    If you don’t understand Chet’s argument, don’t argue against it, try to figure out what he means.

    I’ve claimed I do understand it, I’ve articulated it correctly, and I’ve very seriously entertained the possibility that I don’t understand it. You persist in your claim that I’m missing part, yet you don’t say what part you feel I’m missing. If you maintain that I don’t understand it, yet won’t explain why, how can we move forward?

    And BTW, this offer still stands. I said,

    If one claims that omnipotence, love, and infinity do not exist, one is making an objective (factual) claim, in the sense that what one claims is a matter of fact and not opinion – IOW, omnipotence, love, and infinity either exist or they do not – no middle ground. I agree to that. Do you?

    It’s very simple – do you agree with my definition of objectivity as posited above? Yes, or no?

    If yes, say ‘yes’ – if no, say ‘no’ – and if ‘no’ feel free to explain why.

  • Chet

    As I admitted, I do feel an authentic logical disconnect on both of these points, and this logical disconnect is a direct challenge to my faith, today.

    That’s fair enough. You’ve reversed my opinion by that admission.

    In truth I don’t know where we can go from here. If you can accept the issues I’ve raised as evidence against God, then that’s probably as convincing as I’d ever have hoped my argument to be. If you really do weight the breadth and the scope of the available evidence and, nonetheless, find it more consistent than inconsistent with the existence of a God (especially as described by Christianity) then the only thing I can do is wonder if you’re really aware of all the evidence (or perhaps you weigh it differently than I do); but teasing out what you may or may not know is somewhat beyond the scope of this thread. It’ll have to wait for another opportunity.

    I hope so, ‘cuz my brain hurts.

    Let’s leave it for now, in this place of brief mutual understanding, since such places are rare on the internet. (Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.)

    Plus I think you need the concentration back. OMGF still has a few bones to pick with you, looks like. (Funny, usually I’m the guy everyone accuses of acting like a total asshole in these threads. I think he has some good points, though, and is really guilty of nothing but a brevity of style that comes off as abrupt.)

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Chet,

    That’s fair enough. You’ve reversed my opinion by that admission.

    Right on man, glad we see eye-to-eye at least on this, and that neither of us accuses the other of jacked logic anymore. Feels great to have a clean slate.

    …the only thing I can do is wonder if you’re really aware of all the evidence (or perhaps you weigh it differently than I do); but teasing out what you may or may not know is somewhat beyond the scope of this thread. It’ll have to wait for another opportunity… Plus I think you need the concentration back. OMGF still has a few bones to pick with you, looks like… I think he has some good points, though, and is really guilty of nothing but a brevity of style that comes off as abrupt.

    I welcome your criticisms any time. They are a challenge and a benefit. I would say I’m aware of much, I have several ideas of my own that I don’t see too much of, and of course I weigh things differently than the next man – we all walk a different walk. Regarding OMGF, I think almost all of his points against me on this thread would be %100 spot-on if he made them in appropriate context. And yes, I will explain and show with evidence exactly what I allude to, so feel free to sit back in the sidelines if you wish.

    Funny, usually I’m the guy everyone accuses of acting like a total asshole in these threads.

    If you say so! No, but I don’t think that, and I don’t think OMGF is an asshole, or even mean. Mean people are the type that try to stab you, so I’m not trippin’ off OMGF. And at least with me, in this thread, you’ve not acted like an asshole at all. Contrary, you had patience, you gave me credit when you thought it was due, and you didn’t just ‘attack, tear down, denigrate, attack, tear down, denigrate.’ I respect you and your candor.

    Thank you, no hard feelings, I’m just glad we did hit a common ground. That’s happened with myself and a few others a few other times lately. I could tell you weren’t the type of guy to waste our time, I didn’t want to waste our time, and I’m glad we stuck it out. BTW, just so I can be sure, did I demonstrate that I actually did understand your analogy, like when I tried to explain it back to you? IMO, we worked through a pretty severe logical clash, only to find we were both actually quite logical.

  • Chet

    BTW, just so I can be sure, did I demonstrate that I actually did understand your analogy, like when I tried to explain it back to you?

    There’s a few aspects that I don’t think we got to the bottom to (and therefore I don’t think you took my meaning as clearly as I would like), but I see them as minor points. For the most part I think you got the gist of it just fine even if you, personally, weigh its significance differently than I do.

    I think OMFG expected you to be blown away by it, maybe, but I guess only you can decide that.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Chet,
    Actually, I didn’t think he would be blown away by it. I thought it was a clever argument and I still do, especially due to the equivocation that cl had to do in order to say that he agreed while also saying that he didn’t. I’m under no illusion that cl can be reasoned to, but I do like following a clever argument like the one you had. In fact, I’m a little jealous that I didn’t think of it.

  • Chet

    In fact, I’m a little jealous that I didn’t think of it.

    Feel free to shamelessly plagiarize me on other websites. (Or this one, for that matter.)

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Chet,

    I think OMFG expected you to be blown away by it, maybe, but I guess only you can decide that.

    Actually, I can’t decide that. For me to posit whether OMGF thought I would be blown away by the bleem analogy would be to speak presumably for another. I could simply ask OMGF whether he thought, but getting a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ from the man has, thus far, proven to be elusive.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    In the following, I critique 15 statements you made against me that I feel were not justified.

    In short, you’ve took me to task for 1) Not understanding Chet’s argument; 2) Not understanding subjectivity; 3) Stating that “People use evidence to support ID”; and 4) You alleged that regarding the Bible, I said “the parts that are right are from God and the parts that are wrong aren’t.” This is all incorrect, though I did make at least two genuine but minor errors here, one with Justin and yes, the other with you. I’ll get to those, and there’s also the whole “logically flawed” thing I’ll get to as well, but let’s address the main complaints first.

    Ready?

    1) CHET’S ARGUMENT.

    I did understand Chet’s argument, as evidenced by our ability to reach common ground, something that occurs somewhat rarely in these types of debates, and which I correctly foreshadowed in my comment to Chet November 20, 2008, 3:54 pm:

    Please, let’s see this interesting dialog to the end, because we’ve both invested much and I think we’re really close to common ground. (cl to Chet)

    Consider the following six claims, each belittling me because you did not think I understood Chet’s argument. Any observer can note that at the time of your comments here, I had already correctly articulated Chet’s argument in the thread, yet you persisted:

    …you’ve still not figured out Chet’s rather straight-forward argument. (OMGF, November 18, 2008, 4:48 pm)

    Let me tell you what else you don’t understand, and that’s Chet’s argument. It’s pretty straight-forward too. The fact that you can’t grasp it should be embarrassing for you, considering that it’s that easy to grasp. I’m actually laughing at you for flailing so badly and being completely unable to figure out how badly he’s exposed your argument. (OMGF, November 20, 2008, 4:17 pm)

    Stop being so full of yourself, because you still don’t get it… [Y]ou still haven’t grasped Chet’s simple argument. Man, you must feel really embarrassed now…at least you should. (OMGF, November 20, 2008, 7:45 pm)

    Quite a mouthful; six separate charges, to be exact.

    There’s a few aspects that I don’t think we got to the bottom to (and therefore I don’t think you took my meaning as clearly as I would like), but I see them as minor points. For the most part I think you got the gist of it just fine… (ital. mine)

    Besides, even if I was misunderstanding Chet, why should I be embarrassed? I’ve stated I’m here to learn. At any rate, all six of those charges are false, as I did understand Chet’s argument.

    2) ID, FALSIFIABILITY

    After your first two comments, and sensing the magnetic pull away from anything relevant to the OP, one of the first things I said was:

    To argue over whether ID is falsifiable or not is sort of to start off on the wrong foot…

    Note that you persisted, although I expressed clear and justifiable disinterest in discussing ID or falsifiability. At any rate, let’s look at the first phrase of mine you took issue with in this respect:

    People use evidence to demonstrate ID. (cl)

    Your response was,

    No, actually they don’t. ID is nothing more than “goddidit” in a cheap tuxedo with faux-empirical backing. Real biologists do work and then the ID people swoop in and post hoc claim that it somehow supports their religious ideals. (OMGF)

    Correct, but slow down a second. I was talking to Justin, who offered the following as his definition of falsifiability:

    If you use evidence for your claims, then your claims are falsifiable. (Justin)

    I replied that I disagreed, because that is not the definition of falsifiability. Falsifiable claims are not claims “you use evidence for” – as ID’ers verify, you can ‘use’ (as in bastardize) evidence for any claim. A falsifiable claim is a claim that can be proven false, or that has already been proven false.

    So, when I said, “People use evidence to support ID,” such was not support for ID, nor a claim that any evidence for ID exists, because I don’t support ID and as of today I don’t think any evidence for ID exists. When I said,

    People use evidence to support ID

    it was to Justin, and in the limited, hypothetical context of ID as a falsifiable claim, which it is not, but was only proffered as such to demonstrate that Justin’s definition of falsifiability could not be tenable.

    IOW, if Justin’s definition of falsifiability was correct, then ID is falsifiable, because people use evidence they say supports ID all the time. The evidence, however, does not support ID. To this end, you note correctly,

    “When you falsify my claim that the moon was made of green cheese, it does not mean that ID is somehow falsifiable…”

    Of course! But I’ve not posited that ID was falsifiable, except hypothetically to demonstrate that Justin’s definition of falsifiability was untenable. In the context Justin and I were in, I made a correct statement, and again, you come along, read it hastily, and misunderstand a very delicate context, thus missing the central point as John D correctly pointed out and obfuscating the entire rest of the discussion.

    3) POST HOC REASONING:

    Your third comment comes November 17, 2008, 10:43 am. You appear to have made it without noticing my response to you, which also indicates haste as John D notes. The evidence for this is that your fourth comment comes only 7 minutes after your third, which shows you decided to harp on yet another new topic before even listening to what I had replied about your first ones.

    In response to the following (which I said in a question Brad asked me that had nothing to do with you),

    I’m not really sure when it is appropriate to maintain a literal vs. metaphorical interpretation of scripture. I do count the instances where a basic Bible statement is corroborated by reality as evidence supporting the claim scripture is “God-breathed.” I also count the (logical disconnects) as evidence supporting the claim that not all scripture is God-breathed. (paren. mine)

    You interjected,

    This is post hoc reasoning. It’s easy to say, “The parts that are right are from god and the parts that are wrong are not from god,” but it’s hardly compelling.

    Well sure, it would be easy to say that. Too bad that’s not what I’ve said, though, and again, classic OMGF, take your opponents position, state it incorrectly, and knock it down.

    In my opinion, the Bible is inspired by God in its entirety as it suggests, or it is not. I believe that the type of claim made in 2 Timothy is an objective claim – it says “all scripture is god breathed…” Note – all. So, the Bible itself argues that its entirety is inspired by God. It seems to be an all-or-nothing claim, and that’s how I’ve always interpreted it. I’ve never once said, argued, or wrote that, “The parts that are right are from god and the parts that are wrong are not from god.” Again, classic OMGF, paraphrase his opponent, tweek his claim ever-so-slightly, then attack without relent.

    What I said was,

    I do count the instances where a basic Bible statement is corroborated by reality as evidence supporting the claim scripture is “God-breathed.” I also count the instances such as 2 as evidence supporting the claim that not all scripture is God-breathed. (cl)

    IOW, either all scripture is God-breathed or it is not. I’m still weighing and collecting evidence. I put evidence that does not directly challenge a biblical statement in one pile, and I put evidence that does directly challenge a biblical statement in another pile.

    And again I’ve shown how you caricaturize your opponent in a way that obscures his or her actual position.

    4) SUBJECTIVE VS. OBJECTIVE CLAIMS

    You persisted rather strongly again, making at least 6 other claims related to this issue:

    …concepts that you’ve shown not to understand….you don’t know what subjective is…if you don’t know what “subjective” means, don’t use it…you’ve demonstrated that you don’t know what subjective is…instead of making blow-hard noises and banging your drum as loudly as you can, you should correct your mistake and learn from it…you keep making the same elementary errors and saying erroneous things.

    I offer the following as evidence that I have clearly and undeniably understood the difference since the nineties, and at least since 2003, when the book the following passage was contained in was published:

    “If I state, ‘my favorite place to ride a skateboard is a smooth, empty asphalt parking lot,’ that statement can be true for me but untrue for another, whose favorite place to ride a skateboard may very well be the Santa Monica boardwalk. It is absolutely true that in this author’s opinion ice cream is the best dessert, but it is not absolutely true that ice cream is the best dessert, because the matter of the best dessert is subjective in that it will inevitably vary from one individual to the next. Now on the other hand, the existence of ice cream is not open to either opinion or debate, and thus cannot be classified as subjective; that ice cream exists is an absolutely true statement regardless of any human position either for or against it.” (cl, 2003)

    Now – I grant that although this falsifies your claims that I don’t understand subjectivity vs. objectivity, such does not entail that I’ve used the term correctly in this thread, so let us get to that now.

    OMGF, you assumed I used the phrase ‘subjective claims’ in reference to the intrinsic nature of Chet’s claims, when I did not. I used the phrase ‘subjective claims’ to describe the manner in which Chet was advancing his claims, which themselves are actually objective. Do you see the difference? You read ‘subjective claims’ and thought innocently but mistakenly that I was implying Chet’s claims over the existence of infinity or omnipotence were intrinsically subjective. See, OMGF, in the context I was in, ‘Chet’ was the subject of the sentence; not ‘claims’ – but in the context of the sentence you were in, the ‘claims’ were the subject. I meant not that the claims were subjective, but that Chet made them subjectively, ie, proffered his opinion that such things did not exist.

    In philosophy, a subject is a being which has subjective experiences. Chet claimed omnipotence and infinity did not exist. That omnipotence and infinity do not exist are Chet’s subjective experiences. That’s what I meant, and I know the difference between a subjective and objective claim just fine. But, again, thanks for giving your opponent the benefit of the doubt.

    Of course, you’ll probably still persist that I don’t understand subjectivity, and you’ll probably still persist that I don’t understand Chet’s argument, and you’ll probably still persist that I claim the correct parts of the Bible are from God while the bad parts are not… Who knows.

    Funny thing is, even if you were correct, which I maintain you are not, your strongest point against me would still only amount to disagreement over the specific manner in which I used a word that I proved I understood beforehand, in a conversation you weren’t even involved with in the first place.

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

    Wow cl,
    I’m an evil, mean atheist and you are so good at whining. Instead of using Ebon’s bandwidth to continually make the same claims over and over that have already been dealt with, why don’t you use your own blog if you want to continue to flame me. Or, I can open a thread on my blog and you can come flame me there. How does that sound?

    As for Chet’s argument, you should be embarrassed because of your bravado. In fact, I already said that. Again, we find you doing what you accuse others of doing.

    As for ID, the point you still don’t get is that if one posits “evidence” that doesn’t actually support one’s point, then one is not actually using evidence to support the position. I understand that you are claiming that no evidence supports ID, so when you make the statement that people do use evidence to support ID, you are incorrect.

    Post hoc reasoning – If you want to explain yourself better, that’s fine, but the first sentence where you are talking about when to interpret literally vs. metaphorically sure makes it sound as though you are claiming what I said. But, hey, you can keep harping on stuff that I had dropped long ago if you like.

    Finally, thank you for showing that you do understand subjective claims. I was wrong that you don’t understand them. But, you are wrong as well to claim that you were correct from the beginning. Even though Chet is making the claim, it’s still not subjective. He’s not making a subjective claim at all.

    Now, can you stop whining and get a life?

  • Brad

    All right you two. Get off this thread, come back in a month, and then see if you have anything to say.

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

    Agreed Brad. I was done a long time ago until whiner had to make it personal.

  • bipolar2

    ** it’s often easy to establish that some god cannot exist **

    There’s no need to agree with theists or deists or agnostics that gods’ non-existence can not be established. When they refer to god(s) to what (if anything) are they referring?

    That is, the statement ‘the god X exists’ can be shown to be false. It’s up to claimants to specify just what concept of god they’re playing with. (Dealing with an irrationalist or a mystic requires different approaches not discussed here.)

    Some concepts are simply inconsistent. For example is the concept of god X just like the concept of the round-square? “The” round-square does not exist because its (supposed) concept is incoherent.

    In the Middle Ages an attempt was made to explicate “the” concept of God’s omnipresence by recourse to an analogy drawn from plane geometry. God is like . . . a circle whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere. Clever stuff.

    But there can be no such circle. Among closed plane figures, the circle shares the property of always being finite. The analogy backfires — well if God’s omnipresence is like that; then, there can be no such God.

    A different approach to showing conceptual limits of any concept of God also comes from the Middle Ages. “Can an omnipotent God create a stone too big for Him to lift?” To say either yes or no immediately implies that God is not omnipotent. And, consequently, not the god of the so-called big 3 monotheisms.

    Language here is being misused. Adjectives are always relative to some context. A context free absolute adjective describes nothing. Stretching language past it limits is a commonplace in discourse about gods. A related gambit is to claim that the word ‘good’ when applied to some alleged divinity does not mean the same thing as ‘good’ when applied to human acts.

    Obviously, most theists or deists won’t immediately offer up lucid concepts of god. Though the panto-divinity: all powerful, all knowing, all merciful, will often make His (Her, Its) appearance. This conjunction of attributes is easy to undermine. Epicurus did so 300 years BCE — that is, two thousand three hundred years ago. Too bad Jesus didn’t get a proper education in philosophy.

    Xianity has spent so much time trying to shore up a failed pantocrator that there’s even a name for this branch of theological special pleading, theodicy.

    Can the negation of an existential claim be proved. Sure. Yaweh, God, and Allah simply do not exist because they can not exist.

    bipolar2

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Ebonmuse,

    I feel as though I need to clarify something.

    I agree. As prase also noted, please clarify why counterfactuals are allowed in your criteria, yet rejected in mine. How is this not special pleading? To refresh your memory:

    On the other hand, the rejection of counterfactuals seems to me a bit unfair. Ebonmuse, you’ve yourself written for example this: “If the Bible, for example, said, ‘On the first day of the first month in the year two thousand and ten, the pillars of the earth will shake and a great part of the New World will be lost to the sea,’ and then January 1, 2010 comes and a tremendous earthquake sends California to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, I would become a believer.” This is a typical counterfactual (something that we know with reasonable certainty is false). There is nothing in the Bible like this. If somebody asked me what would convince me that the Earth is flat, I am not sure that I would be able to list one thing that couldn’t be classified as counterfactual. Does it mean that I am closed-minded? (prase)

    Well?