Atheists Are Proof God Exists, Says Catholic Priest

If you spend any amount of time around the atheist community — on blogs, on videos, at in-person meet-ups, reading books, etc. — you quickly find that the arguments given in favor of the existence of a god tend to repeat themselves. I’m sure you’ve heard most of the following:

There is a god because…

  • Nothing can’t give rise to something.
  • We have moral laws, so we must have a moral law giver.
  • The eye/flagella are irreducibly complex, so something must have designed them.
  • The Bible/Koran/Torah says there’s a god, so there must be one.

Some arguments draw from bad philosophy, while others pretend to be scientific arguments, even if they fail miserably.

Every so often, though, you come across an argument so weird, so delightfully incoherent, that you have to stop and admire the mental contortions that went into its creation.

Take Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest and the author of the Standing on my Head blog on the Catholic Channel of Patheos. He thinks he has very good evidence for God’s existence.

If an atheist exists, then God must also exist. To understand this maddening and confusing statement we must first examine whether God exists. If he exists then we can breathe a sigh of relief and conclude that atheists also exist.

Does that make no sense at all to you? Don’t worry, it’ll make even less sense soon. I’m shortening the argument somewhat for convenience.

Whether God exists or not depends on whether anything exists. The question is not whether God exists, but the more fundamental question of “why is there anything at all?” We see that there are things that exist. There are trees and animals and human beings and rock and plants and there are atheists too. But do they really exist? Yes and no. They are here now, but they will not be here forever. All the things we see (including the atheists) are mutable. They change.

….

In the long view, all the things that exist around us are ephemeral. They will eventually cease to exist. They will be no more. They will be dust. They will be deceased. Since they will one day be dust, how can we say that they really do exist at all?

If they exist — even for a time — then there must be some other quality to their existence that enables them to exist. Something must be holding them up.

Feel free to read the whole post, but I’m sure you can guess what he thinks is “holding them up.” Essentially, the argument is that the very fact that anything exists means that God must exist.

I guess I can be grateful that the good father at least is willing to accept the premise that things exist. He then goes on to say that things “cease to exist,” which would be a non-controversial statement in the hands of someone following the ordinary rules of reasoning, but in this case it requires closer examination.

What, exactly, does Fr. Longenecker mean when he says that something “ceases to exist”? When we die, the atoms that compose our body don’t disappear. They merely get reconfigured into something else. At which point did things stop existing, in his view? It would be reasonable to assume then that Fr. Longenecker is referring to the particular configuration of atoms and interactions that compose our living bodies. However, then what “enables them to exist” becomes a scientific question, and one with an increasing number of answers coming from the fields of physics, chemistry, and biology, to name a few.

However, this is not the most ridiculous part of the argument. Let’s allow that things exist and then cease to exist. Fr. Longenecker then says that the fact that things don’t last forever is a clear sign that something (i.e God) is holding them together. This is asserted with no supporting evidence or even an attempt at a rationalization. It is assumed to be self-evident. Why should any cause beyond our presence in a universe with certain physical constants be required? What if there were things that were unchanging? Would they be exempted from this requirement of Divine Glue? Why?

Fr. Longenecker concedes that this is not a “watertight proof” of God’s existence (ya’ think?) and dismissively says that he knows some will “bluster about ‘logical fallacies’ and so forth.” The fact that this argument is so weak as to be almost incoherent cannot be dismissed by calling criticism of it “bluster.” All this argument achieves is to demonstrate yet again the knots certain people are willing to tie their brains into in order to fit the square peg of God into the round hole of reason.

(image via Shutterstock)

About Claudia

I'm a lifelong atheist and a molecular biologist with a passion for science and a passionate opposition to its enemies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1351473675 Matthew Baker

    what?

  • Discobisc

    Begging the question. Very philosophically immature, apart from being just plain wrong. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kwieser Karl Wieser

    But I’m not just an atheist, I’m also an a-purple-unicornist, and an a-teapot-behind-the-moonist.

    If your argument proves that anything conceivable exists, than it doesn’t prove anything at all.

  • Tom S

    Philosophers have been familiar with this sort of argument for centuries (the author refers to Thomas Aquinas, e.g.)., and it has a long and respectable pedigree, so perhaps your mocking tone is not really the best approach to criticism of it.  It certainly is not incoherent (and I think “weak” is an uninformative way to characterize it); he is merely relying on a principle that I think most of us here reject, that a thing that exists contingently (as opposed to necessarily) requires some cause, and that the best candidate for that cause is God.  Mind you, I agree, the argument does not work, but it sure would be a whole lot nicer to criticize the argument without mocking it or the person who made it.  Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the philosophical literature on this sort of argument, however.  It’s worth studying.  

  • C Peterson

    So are priests proof that Satan exists?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    …..??!

  • Canadian Atheist, eh!

    My thought was (and I did not follow the link), here’s a guy who’s read Descarte’s Meditations on First Philosophy and figured it was time for an update. Sure, we got good old “cogito ergo sum” out of that particular bit of work from Descartes, but nothing much else. And so it goes.

  • gladre

    Just because an argument has a long pedigree, respectable or not, does not mean it is weak or incoherent. Furthermore a long pedigree does not protect an argument from ridicule. Mocking such arguments and those who make them is a fair tactic.

    I agree the philosophical literature on this sort of argument is worth studying.

  • Tom S

    Even old Rene’s claim doesn’t work, sadly.  :)

  • hoverFrog

    Let’s turn this round again (for the lols) 
    If an atheist exists, then God must also exist. Ergo if theists exist, then gods must not exist. If the lack of belief in deities is contingent on their existence then the belief in deities must act as a counter to their existence.

    Or in the real world, it doesn’t matter how hard you wish for something to be true. If it isn’t real then wishing won’t make it so.

  • Tom S

    I disagree that mocking is generally a good tactic for atheists — folks already have a bad opinion of us, for which reason it seems to me that we have to be especially careful.  

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Perhaps we could use Fr. Longenecker’s argument as inspiration for our own counter argument:

    The fact that apologists exist is evidence that gods do not exist.

    There are no apologists for the sun.  That’s because there’s so much readily available and convincing evidence for the sun’s existence. So nobody gets advanced degrees in arguing for the existence of the sun. People get advanced degrees in observing, measuring, and analyzing all that evidence, and coming to understand its workings with remarkable intimacy, even though it’s physically 93 million miles away.

    The sun is immense compared to us and to our tiny planet, but it is extremely, extremely small and insignificant when compared to the concept of the Almighty Maker of the Universe, Mover of All Galaxies and Quarks, Expander of Spacetime, and Seer of The Fall of Every Sparrow.

    But there’s no evidence for that concept, as gargantuan as it is, so instead there are apologists, people who have advanced degrees in sitting around spinning silly arguments to fill in the vast emptiness where the evidence ought to be.

  • Anna

    The question is not whether God exists, but the more fundamental question of “why is there anything at all?”

    Why is that a fundamental question? Because he says so? It seems that all of these theists are putting the cart before the horse, insisting on there being cosmic reasons for things when there is no evidence to support such an assumption.

  • Grizzz

    The only word….the ONLY word that comes to mind after reading this steaming pile of horses hit is HUH?

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Every reason for God boils down to this.

  • MargueriteF

    “‘But you must respect another man’s religious beliefs!’

    “For Heaven’s sake, why? Stupid is stupid–faith doesn’t make it smart.”

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  • Question Everything

    If things that exist eventually don’t exist, and he claims that a god at one point existed, that god must at some point not exist anymore, possibly by now, possibly in the future. If he wishes to claim that god is a special exception, I want to know why, and can he please prove how I won’t exist forever, given that a) I existed before he knew of me and b) I may still exist beyond his life.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Ateapotbehindthemoonists are immoral, depraved, depressed, untrustworthy, and un-American. I feel sorry for you. Believing in The Teapot is the only way to happiness.  May the Teapot cozy you.

  • Ghdcpa

    He did have one thing correct.  His statement was “maddening and confusing.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    In this context, his name reminds me of Pinocchio…

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    what’s really odd is that this guy seems to close down the comments to his articles only when they start generating a lot of feedback. Any old article of his that doesn’t have much feedback stays open.

    And then he feels put down that his blog isn’t getting more readers. You can’t grow a blog by silencing commenters.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OFCT2JLB5U57DVSABYYMRCYTDE BeezerQ

    Okay, since atheists exist, it’s proof that God exists.

    Taking a hypothetical situation, if atheists did not exist — if there were no atheists anywhere — that could also be used as proof that God exists.

    Ergo, the existence or non-existence of atheists is irrelevant to proving that God exists.

  • phhht

     “I disagree that mocking is generally a good tactic for atheists…”

    Then don’t do it.  Leave that weapon to those of us who can wield it effectively.  You can’t because you don’t think it’s a good weapon.

    “folks already have a bad opinion of us…”

    You, maybe.  People seem to respect me.

  • Tom S

    Which misses the point.  Respect for a person does not mean that we have to accept or not criticize their ideas or beliefs.  

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

    This is actually an old argument, he just switched the person whose existance is in question from “me” to “atheists.”

    “I am a Catholic by virtue of my believing in a
    God; and if I am asked why I believe in a God, I answer that it because
    I believe in myself, for I find it impossible to believe in my own
    existence (and of that fact I am quite sure) without believing also in
    the existence of Him, who lives as a Personal, All-seeing, All-judging
    Being in my conscience.”
    —John Henry Newman

    From “The Heart of Newman.”

    Not that this gives any more credibility to the argument.  I’m just trying to say that he wasn’t being especially creative. And how can you be creative when you are constrained by dogmatism and church tradition?

  • Levon Mkrtchyan

    I noticed that in the comment thread over there, the author responded to comments that disagreed with the article with answers that amounted to “shut up” instead of taking it as an opportunity for discussion.  I wanted to call him out on it in the comment thread, but then I saw that he had closed the comments for that article.

  • http://profiles.google.com/vic.tanner Vic Tanner

    I like how, in a post in which he claims to prove that god exists he says, “The question is not whether God exists …”. The whole post is completely nonsensical. Word soup. Hope he goes in for a check up some time soon. 

  • westley

    Exactly.  He also stops approving comments from some people (like me), even if their comments are well within his supposed guidelines, and even deletes entire articles.  He simply isn’t interested (or prepared) to hold genuine discussions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.pearce.nz David Pearce

    Actually I think it predates Newman – this is effectively Catholic Bishop George Berkeley’s philosophical argument from the early 1700s that nothing exists if it is not perceived, therefore if no one is around to perceive something it doesn’t exist, and the only way to solve the problem of potentially disrupted existence that this raises is that an omnipresent god perceives all things at all times, and therefore all things exist.  

  • Drew M.

    Sounds right to me!

  • Coyotenose

     Please provide examples of where being careful to not offend anyone because you’re already a scapegoat has made things better in society.

  • DougI

    Ray Comfort wrote a book saying that Atheists don’t exist, therefore Comfort would be presenting evidence that god really doesn’t exist if the Catholic priest believes Atheists are evidence of god.

  • neo

    You want to know what proves God does not exist…..The BIBLE !!! See for yourself by reading   Leviticus 23:27 to 31 .It basically says that if you do any work on July 10 God will destroy you himself and that “it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings”. I cant speak for everyone but im pretty sure ive worked many a July 10.

  • pagansister

    I feel SO much better now that that question has been answered!   Gee Thanks, Father!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/gmillar Gavin Millar

    I’m not an atheist in order to be popular.

  • DSkews

    “Delightfully incoherent” – I must remember that phrase. It’s marvelous.

    On topic: Longenecker’s argument seems to be a confused, and slightly extended, form of the “something cannot come from nothing” argument. It’s extended in that it’s now “something cannot stick together because of nothing”. Apparently Longenecker missed the memo explaining that we have a reasonable idea of how matter manages to stick together and he should be more vague.

  • jose

    He uses “essence” and “being” as real things of the world (alarmingly similar to “soul”), when they are simply mental categories we use to clasify things in order to understand them better.

    For example, what is the “essence” of Chair? None. No such thing. We categorize a group of objects as “a chair” according to our ability to sit on them simply because it’s handy to have that concept in everyday life so we understand each other. Nothing profound about it. If we use other criteria, like color, size, material, etc. we will have different classifications.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    The lack of respect started with the theists. They’ve completely demonized atheists in the United States. Our simple existence is seen by them as a raging pustule on the perfect skin of This Christian Nation. Making nice with them hasn’t worked in decades. Why would that change now?

    Better that we strive to marginalize them utterly. I’m perfectly willing to have a civil discussion, but when one side lays claim to a position rooted in total nonsense that has been used as a tool to oppress others, I have a hard time seeing why mocking said claim is inappropriate.

  • Awcrgslst

     Obama is the “essence” of Chair!!

  • John Lynch

    Something as William Lane Craig. If I think something can exist it must exist. I think god exists so therefore there is a god and he is thought of as one of the better debaters.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MFJPDLZBICPNQF273EBMHASC3E Raspina

    Using that same logic isn’t the Catholic god then just one of an infinite number of imaginable gods and therefore no longer the one true god? Awkward…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MFJPDLZBICPNQF273EBMHASC3E Raspina

     I prefer Santanism myself. hail Santa!

  • Alyson

    I’d like to sort of play devil’s advocate here, and say that this Catholic priest does not speak for the rest of us? Just because he says something does not mean that he will always be right about it, and that it’s set in stone.

    Someone was wrong about something, no need to start a war over it.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I think, therefore god exists? 

  • Jonas Green


     If he exists then we can breathe a sigh of relief and conclude that atheists also exist.”

    If I am dressed for work, I am wearing underwear.
    I am wearing underwear, therefor I must be dressed for work.

    The Father fails to understand the difference between ‘If Then’ and ‘If and Only If’

  • AntieQ

    Clint Eastwood seems to think so, anyway!

  • Matt O’Neal

     Well said, Jonas. I would always explain it with, “A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t necessarily a square.” I like your underwear example better..

  • Mike Laing

    Who does this dude think he is, William Lane Craig?

  • ortcutt

    We reject his principle because there is nothing to justify it, and he has presented nothing to justify it.  If his argument depends on that premise, and he has nothing to justify it, then why should I take it seriously?  If I made an argument that relied on the premise that gnomes pulling on invisible strings are the cause of gravity, would you think that my argument is “worth studying” even if I give no evidence whatsoever to believe that the gnome principle is true?  I’m sorry, but there’s no reason to honor Mr. Longenecker’s fantasies as anything more than that.

  • Ibis3

     A good tactic to achieve what? Perhaps your goals are different from that of the mockers.

  • http://messiestobjects.typepad.com/ Messiestobjects

    If he’s arguing that first things exist and then they don’t therefore God is responsible for “holding things up” in a state of existence… isn’t that only “proof” that God does a terrible job of holding things up?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=518827315 Scott Schafer

    I think the argument can be reduced to this: there is something rather than nothing, and we don’t know why, so therefore there’s a God. Which is perfectly fine if God means “the reason there’s something rather than nothing.” The problem is when people claim that God is a sentient being who has certain expectations of us, which doesn’t follow at all.

  • Keulan

    What is this I don’t even…

  • JohnnieCanuck

    The only way someone could be conned by lies like this is if they already wanted to believe them. Presumably he is getting paid well to make up this truthless drivel.

  • french engineer

    That reminds me of an argument from a “prophecies specialist” that used to troll Ray comfort’s blog as AnswersNOW. His argument went like this :

    -the Bible says some people won’t believe the Bible
    -atheists don’t believe the Bible
    - therefore atheists are proving the Bible is true.

  • Willy Occam

    For years, I was one of those atheists who didn’t make waves, muttered criticisms of ridiculous theists under his breath, and respected people’s right to believe whatever the hell they want, no matter how absurd or how much their beliefs affected our public policies.  I didn’t keep my atheism a secret, but I certainly didn’t go around broadcasting it.  I guess reading Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, et al has emboldened me to be a lot more outspoken about my opinions on the matter.  The way I figure it, most theists misunderstand and demonize us as a group regardless of how nice we are, so what’s the point of walking on eggshells? 

    I think our cause is great enough to accommodate all kinds voices, but we should not be concerned about hurting the feelings of irrational people. 

  • OregoniAn

    “Atheists Are Proof God Exists”, Says Catholic Priest ~ cementing his points firmly  without even the merest hint of truth or even rudimentary logic . . Proving once again that if you really want to “believe”  something -  you won’t let inconvenient facts or truths of any sort get in your way. Have we really only come this far, in all this time?  
     

  • Georgina

    Atheists exist because theists exist. If there were no theists we would not be necessary. 

  • TheBlackCat

     I don’t think that is true.  Atheists literally means someone who lacks belief in a deity.  If there were no theists there would be no concept of a deity so there would be no term theist, but people would still fit the definition of atheist. 

    Similarly we are all aterhtwethetweists, since we lack belief in terhtwethetwe.  We don’t have a concept of terhtwethetwe, so by definition we cannot believe in it, so by definition we are aterhtwethetweists. 

  • Rachel Rachel

    This made my brain ache but also reminded me of the deceased parrot sketch from monty python. I imagined the priest as a John Cleese character (it helped).

  • Msironen

    So basically you’re saying it’s a (spectacularly weak and incoherent) formulation of the Leibniz Cosmological Argument?

  • Ned Ludd

     Physicists Lawrence Krauss and Victor Stenger have the same explanation, though in different words on the quantum level. Krauss says that from nothing you will always get something. Stenger is a bit more explicit in saying that you get something because nothing is unstable.

  • GraemeL

    Not only does he close down the comments when they start to get interesting. He also chooses to only to reply to the petty, sniping comments while completely ignoring the serious rebuttals.

    To be brutally honest, he reads like somebody who is on the verge of losing their faith, but is desperately grasping at straws to keep his belief.

  • The Other Weirdo

    But the funny thing is that, even if things turn to dust and are no more, they are no more merely according to our viewpoint. They still exist as dust, though, of course, they can’t interact with us(or we with them) as we did when they were not yet dust. Things change, people die, buildings collapse. In the end, though, it all just changes.

  • The Other Weirdo

     I don’t know. Is that really true? Are we really atheists in absolutely every single thing for which we have no concept? I find it hard to have faith in that.

  • Blondin

    Maybe Fr. Longenecker could be convinced to tackle the bigger question (posed by Neil deGrasse Tyson): what is the square root of a pork chop?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Here’s the thing. If some random dude on the street says something, I totally agree with you. But the Catholic Church(and all religious institutions, really) claims to speak for God, at least their particular version. Shouldn’t it, and its priests, be held to a higher standard?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    But the Catholic Church(and all religious institutions, really) claims to speak for God…

    Actually, God claims to speak for the leadership of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

    Matt 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and
    whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and
    whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
    .
    Matt 18:18Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound
    in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in
    heaven.

    Jesus was speaking to Peter, the Bishop of Rome, aka the first pope. According to the doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, this incredible power to determine the laws of Heaven devolves to Peter’s successors, the popes of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

  • jose

    I lol’d :D

  • Wwmlcd

    Ah yes, the argument from delightful incoherence. We can now add that to the long list Christian apologists’ gibberish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.holly1 Brian Holly

    Seems to be a version of the contingent vs necessary version of the cosmological argument.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    Well, there’s one reason….

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    It’s the “first cause” argument wearing yet another funny hat. Which is worth studying. However, there’s also some really old counterarguments to it. And once you’ve recognized that this is an incredibly old and hard-packed trail through philosophical territory, almost all that’s left is mocking the funny hat.

    His admission that it’s not a watertight proof suggests it’s just Attitude Bolstering — trying to keep the yet-faithful from being persuaded by the infidels by generating ideas that are consistent with the original belief, without directly responding to the actual arguments made against that belief.

  • Brian Pansky

    My first impression is that he thinks atheist means “someone who knows there is a god but denies it” (hence his “god needs to be shown to exist before atheists can be shown to exist)

    Then he GOES NUCLEAR.

    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.ca/2011/09/going-nuclear.html

    Though it might be a bit different from going nuclear. It is still a destruction of the question “does a god exist like matter exists?” because that is too scary of a question to face without warping the key word ‘exist’.

  • Axgenous

    “If there were no theists there would be no concept of a deity so there would be no term theist, but people would still fit the definition of atheist. “If there were no concept of a deity, thus no theism, then there would be no atheism, because atheism is 100% dependent on theism’s existence, even it’s definition is dependent on the definition of theism.atheism doesn’t actually exist, it’s a relational term, what exists is theism, atheism is just the relational absence, much like how darkness doesn’t actually exists, what exists is light, darkness is a relational state. 

  • Axgenous

    Thats quite the mental floor routine.     He seems to think atheism is the lack of belief in only his god.        He’s probably not aware of it, but his argument if taken as true, is basically an argument that allows not only for his god existing, but as well every other god that man has ever believed to exist as well, since atheism is the lack of belief in all deities.

    So he’s unknowingly arguing for a polytheistic universe.    Which is actually more plausible to me.

  • Mandocommando23

    That just makes way to much sense.

  • Baal

     It was a sad day for metaphors when we got telescopes powerful enough that they could have found an actual Bertrand Russel teapot that was orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars.  Curse you scientists!!!

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Well, I was expecting something really absurd, but, his is just a different, much-less-sophisticated take on the First Mover argument. I’ve never seen a successful counterargument against it, either. So, in short, I think you’ve given his argument short thrift (even though I agree it’s stated a bit kitschy).

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    I suspect what you really mean is, of all the evidence presented for God, you don’t find any convincing. That’s far, far different than, “no evidence.”

    Should you wish to challenge this, that’s fine, but you’ll have to explain how you define “evidence.” It might be the case that you have a different definition of “evidence” than I.  That would explain the apparent discrepancy.

  • Dave

    Yes, haven’t you heard on the news? If homosexuals are evil and priests rape little boys; ergo priests are evil. Satan is the essence of evil, therefore priests are proof Satan exists.

  • Baal

    “Something must be holding them up.”  <–silly priest

    So merry-go-rounds used to be a fun piece of playground equipment until their recentish phase out.  Part of their fun was the centripetal acceleration and using it to launch stuff.  Since the earth spins (flat or not), why aren't we flung into space?  Answer, the hand of god holds us on the planet.  Give hiM thanks for saving you.  You may now start your bluster about the laws of physics and the role of gravity and newton's first law.

  • Baal

      /looks around at the pile on on Tom S’s mild statement that mocking should be used carefully.

    Really folks, when you mock, you have (in on-line game lingo) flagged yourself as a combatant and everyone is now free to take the gloves off.  This includes not fighting fair and using collateral attacks (i.e. at some thing that isn’t your argument).  You folks are also the same ones to complain when the argument devolves into free for all and you get hit with the wrong side of the collateral attacks.

    This kind of behavours gets outside of truth and puts issues into Us vs Them.  Being right hardly matters in that case.

    All that being said, I do think there are fair and appropriate targets for mocking.  Here, the priest has butchered basic physics (let alone the rest of the bs).    He also isn’t a generic no-body (though he’s isn’t that far away either).  He holds himself out as a Catholic priest and as a representative of the RCC.  As a public figure, mocking is more appropriate.

  • Concerned Citizen

    “Every contingent entity must have a cause, therefore there must be an all-powerful benevolent deity with very specific opinions about human social behavior.”

  • Concerned Citizen

    How much did you get paid to post your comment?

  • Concerned Citizen

    I thought the counterargument was that if you assume special pleading to allow God to be the Uncaused Cause, why not just move your assumption up one step to allow the next action in the chain to be the one that was uncaused?

    The person claiming that argument makes an assumption (everything must have a cause) and then promptly ignores it (…except this one thing which need not have a cause) just to confirm what they wanted to believe all along (…and therefore, God).

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Hmmm… I got an email saying this was in reply to me, but it doesn’t appear threaded. Odd. At any rate…

    The person claiming that argument makes an assumption (everything must have a cause)…

    I reject the assumption that everything must have a cause, which means I’m not making any special exception for God. Therefore, no special pleading.

  • Edmond

    He’s talking about what I like to call “the universe”.

  • charlesjthornton

    The argument of Anselm and Descartes which was destroyed by Hume and many more.  A priest should know better – or not assume the ignorance of others.

  • Zendruid

    He’s a storyteller. He only needs to know how the words sound together, not what they mean.

  • TheBlackCat

     Which telescope is that?  Assuming my math is correct the most powerful optical telescope in the world would barely be able to see a teapot in medium earth orbit, not to mention in an orbit between Earth and Mars.  The most powerful planned telescopes wouldn’t be able to see a teapot 1/0th the distance to the moon.

  • TheBlackCat

    Actually, God claims to speak for the leadership of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

    Assuming you believe the Bible, and assuming you believe the Catholic Church’s interpretation of the Bible, and assuming you believe the Catholic Church’s claims about its history.

    According to the doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church,

    Right, because they are totally unbiased here.

    “We were given the right to speak for God because we say so” isn’t really a very convincing argument.

  • TheBlackCat

     If you don’t have that assumption, then on what grounds do you conclude there must be a “First Mover” to begin with?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    In short, logic and Ockham. Feel free to check out “Aristotle’s Argument From Kinesis” 1 & 2 on my blog. I’d link directly to it, but that would open me up to accusations of blog whoring and whatnot.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I think it’s clear from my post what kind of evidence I would find convincing.  The kind of evidence that would make apologists for gods unnecessary. The kind of evidence that does make apologists for the sun unnecessary. The kind of evidence that we use to understand the workings of the sun, and which allows us to put that understanding to work right here on Earth. The kind of evidence that you would want supporting your innocence if you stood accused of a serious crime. The kind of evidence you use to walk across a busy, dangerous street.  The kind of evidence that you use and demand every day to make important decisions, with the exception of this one thing that you let pass.

    You know what I’m talking about, don’t pretend that you don’t. Empirical, tangible, observable, recordable, confirmable, testable, reproducible, etc. Not a warm, fuzzy feeling, not a subjective conviction, not claimed “miracles” or “fulfilled prophesies” which are all hearsay scribbled in an old book with a very suspicious provenance, and certainly not arguments, which, without the kind of evidence I’m describing at their foundation instead of nothing but wishful thinking, can be used to argue for the existence of anything. Just plug in whatever whimsical assertion you want, and run the same empty arguments. If you really, really, really want that assertion to be so, you’ll convince yourself that the argument is somehow its own evidence for the truth of itself.

    The kind of evidence that matches the size and significance of the claim. As I said, the claims of gods existing are gigantically larger than the claim of the existence of the sun, yet we have gigantically more evidence for the sun.

  • REVID

    I wonder how much Patheos pays him to quell discussions on a blog network that is suppose to be about RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

  • TheBlackCat

    Your argument is even worse than the standard one, since not only does it have the same special pleading problems with the standard ontological argument, it also depends on long-abandoned Aristotelian notion of potentiality, which, to the extent that it is distinct from the standard ontological argument, completely clashes with our modern understanding of both physics and matter.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Empirical, tangible, observable, recordable, confirmable, testable, reproducible, etc.

    See? It’s as if you’re completely unaware of the schtick you’re pulling. You demand scientific evidence for a metaphysical proposition. Quite literally, you’ve stacked the deck before the game can start. 

    Feel free to get your last digs in, because I refuse to take your bait. Although, if you say something interesting enough, I may press on.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Naked assertions != valid critiques. Try again.

  • TheBlackCat

    Alright, its not that complicated but considering you can’t even bother to look up the real definition of “junk DNA” then I probably have to spell it out for you:

    1. you are still arguing that the universe needs something outside it to move it, while the “unmoved mover” does not.  That is special pleading.  You assert that the universe is not an “unmoved mover” but provide no basis for this conclusion, in fact you take it as a given.

    2. In order for your “unmoved mover” to be anything other than a “first cause”, you must assume that entities have some special “potentiality’ property that is distinct from ordinary cause and effect, and thus distinct from matter and energy. 

    But at a metaphysical level there is no such thing, to the extent that it exists such “potentiality” is just a mental abstraction that makes it easier to lump together chains or combinations of causes and effects to make it easier to think about them.  Clouds have no fundamental “lightning” potentiality, the lightning potentially is merely a combination of mechanics, chemistry, and electromagnetic properties.

    I should also add that even if we assume that the unmoved mover argument works, you provide no basis whatsoever for the claim that unmoved mover needs to be intentional.  That never appears in any of the quotes form Aristotle that you provide, and although you provide reasons for why the other properties are necessary, you never provide such a basis for it being intentional.  You base your entire conclusion on this one property being essential, yet your provide no argument, even an argument from authority, to justify it.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    No, I’m completely aware of what I’m demanding. That’s because the people who assert this “metaphysical proposition” want to impose very physical, real-world demands on me and on society in general in the form of laws and public policies, justified by nothing but their “metaphysical” assertions. They want me to make very physical, real-world decisions about my resources, my time, and my effort,  yet they don’t want to be held to the same standard for supporting their very physical, real-world demands.  They and I and everyone else use the kind evidence I described for justifying all sorts of other physical, real-world decisions, but when they’re challenged, they plead that somehow the “metaphysical” can make demands upon the physical, but the physical cannot make any demands in return.

    Nope. If the metaphysicians want to come down to solid Earth and try to throw their weight around, then they’ll have to play by solid Earth’s rules.

  • TheBlackCat

     Also, I should add that at a basic level humans are no more “unmoved movers” than clouds are.  We cannot do anything without a long chain of inanimate process providing us with energy and raw materials.  So all things we know about that you consider unmoved movers are within the normal chain of potentiality.  You provide no basis for making “unmoved movers” distinct in this regard, rather than just a special case an intermediate mover.

    Also, the whole idea of entities moving between distinct states is overly simplistic.  Again, it is a useful abstraction that makes things easier to think about, but for example a tree is not really a distinct state, there is no clear cut-off point between “seed” and “tree”, rather there is a continuum where a seed slowly transitions into becoming a tree.  And both, although useful abstractions, are still abstractions for a very complex series of chemical and physical processes.  Unless you are still hung up on Aristotle’s long-discredited concept of “essences”, of course.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    I know, I know… you’re the smart atheist, I’m the dumb Christian, so you need to “spell it all out” for me. Trust me, you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.

    …you are still arguing that the universe needs something outside it to move it, while the “unmoved mover” does not.  That is special pleading.

    No, it isn’t. From IEP, note the bold: 

    [special pleading] is the fallacy of applying a general principle to various situations but not applying it to a special situation that interests the arguer even though the general principle properly applies to that special situation, too.

    The general principle—that which begins to exist needs a cause—cannot be applied to that which never began to exist. Consider: that which is blue must be a hat. You’d laugh if I said, “hey, that’s red, it must be a hat,” right?

    In order for your “unmoved mover” to be anything other than a “first cause”, you must assume that entities have some special “potentiality’ property that is distinct from ordinary cause and effect, and thus distinct from matter and energy.

    False. I adhere to the principles of ordinary cause and effect. The entire argument relies upon them. To say that a seed is “in potency” to become a tree does not violate cause and effect.

    I should also add that even if we assume that the unmoved mover argument works, you provide no basis whatsoever for the claim that unmoved mover needs to be intentional.

    Ah, thank you. That is actually a valid shortcoming of the argument. I *DID* skip the “intentional” property. I definitely need to address that to tighten the noose, but the fact that I failed in that regard does not overthrow the argument by any means. I trust you can see that.

  • RobertoTheChi

    Did good ol Father Longpecker write Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy for the old SNL skits? That’s what his inane ramblings remind me of.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    I don’t understand your phrase “refuse to take your bait.”

    I know you don’t. That’s because you actually *DON’T* realize the incoherence of your request, despite your protestations to the contrary. I mean, 90% of your last reply to me was an irrelevant rant about “society” that has nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion on evidence. As if your ilk (atheists) don’t also want to impose “real world demands” on the rest of us.

    You asked me what kind of evidence I would find convincing, and I described it.

    You described scientific evidence. You demand scientific evidence for a metaphysical proposition. IOW, the only type of evidence you’re willing to accept is, conveniently, the only type of evidence that is logically impossible given the nature of the theist’s claim. All you’re doing is insulating your atheism to the point of indefeasibility—whether you realize it or not. 

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    You are deliberately ignoring my stated reason why I demand empirical evidence for metaphysical claims. One more time, it’s because of the very real, solid demands that religionists make upon society, and yet they want to be immune from demands for real, solid evidence to justify their real, solid demands. They want “But it’s metaphysical” to be their excuse for not having any real, solid justification for their real, solid demands on society.

    If people wish to float around in metaphysical realm, that’s fine. But if they want to make laws and public policy based on their metaphysical assertions, they should have to go by the same standards as someone who wants to assert that the bridge they have designed is sturdy, or that the medicine they’ve developed is safe and effective, or that they can safely walk across a busy, dangerous street.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    You are deliberately ignoring my stated reason why I demand empirical evidence for metaphysical claims.

    No, I’m not. You are for some reason (unlike you I won’t have the arrogance to assume I know it’s deliberate), ignoring the fact that it’s logically impossible to produce scientific evidence for a metaphysical proposition.

    The rest of your rant is irrelevant.

  • Phasespace

    You’re only saying it is logically impossible because you refuse to recognize the real world implications of your metaphysical proposition. Implications that should be readily available for everyone to see without needing recourse to apologetics.
    All you’re doing is insulating your theism to the point of indefeasibility-whether you realize it or not.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    No, I’m saying it’s logically impossible because it *IS* logically impossible to produce scientific evidence for a metaphysical claim. If you disagree, bluster isn’t the way to resolve it. You can throw up a smokescreen all you want, but any impartial observer will note the utter absence of apologetics in that statement.

    All you’re doing is insulating your theism to the point of indefeasibility-whether you realize it or not.

    I’m flattered that you boosted my line, but the problem is that you’re wrong. My position is defeasible. What would convince me I’m wrong? To begin, a valid takedown of my arguments. Keyword: valid. If you think you’ve got what it takes, give it a shot.

  • Rob

    Are you making any physical claims about god? If so, it’s not a metaphysical claim.
    Physical claims include, but are not limited to:
    * Creation of the universe
    * Intercessionary prayer
    * Judgment (information transfer)
    * Prophets or sons of god
    * resurrection
    * Floods or other disasters

    If you don’t make any of these claims, your god is not in the purview of science. Does a god like that match any of the worshipped ones?

  • Phasespace

    No, I’m saying it’s logically impossible because it *IS* logically impossible to produce scientific evidence for a metaphysical claim.

    We’re not asking for scientific evidence of your metaphysical claim, we’re asking for scientific evidence that we should expect to see and is a direct consequence of your metaphysical claim being true.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Physical claims include—SNIP

    I’m afraid you’re not getting it: God, the purported cause behind each of the phenomena you list, is metaphysical. Take, for example, the resurrection: according to Wade’s criteria, it needs to be “recordable.” Well, that’s odd, because it was recorded. It was written down, but that’s not good enough for Wade. Wade says it must be “testable,” but such an event is not testable, even in principle. Wade says it must be “reproducible” but I shouldn’t even have to explain why that’s absurdly irrational.

    Similar objections befall the rest of your criteria as well.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Gah, are you kidding? This is the worst-looking threaded comment column I’ve ever seen. How much skinnier is it going to get?

    …we’re asking for scientific evidence that we should expect to see and is a direct consequence of your metaphysical claim being true.

    TRANSLATED: we’re asking for scientific evidence for your metaphysical claim, just as I said.

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    Metaphysical = abstract = not real.

  • hoverFrog

    God, the purported physical cause behind each of the phenomena you list, is metaphysical. 
    You are making a claim about the physical universe. We are asking for physical evidence to support that claim. Worry yourself about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin if you like but the claims you make about reality should be supported by reality or we can simply dismiss them as nonsense.

  • TheBlackCat

     

    The general principle—that which begins to exist needs a cause—cannot be applied to that which never began to exist.

    Wait, what?  Where did “begins to exist” come from?  You said you specifically rejected the standard ontological argument, neither of your articles made a big deal about that issue.  You arguments were all about “potency”, the concept of “begins to exist” was a minor part if it was there at all.

    And that is still special pleading, because it assumes the universe began to exist. 

    This is one of the most basic arguments against the ontological argument.  You cannot have spent ten minutes researching the subject without knowing this.  But then again your other articles show demonstrate a strong aversion to researching what your opponents actually say, so perhaps you haven’t actually bothered to read anything but apologetics.

    I adhere to the principles of ordinary cause and effect. The entire
    argument relies upon them. To say that a seed is “in potency” to become a
    tree does not violate cause and effect.

    Then your argument is identical to the standard ontological argument, you just changed the words into something less clear.  All the standard refutations still apply.

    To say that a seed is “in potency” to become a tree does not violate cause and effect.

    It does if “potency” is a real metaphycial property and not a convenient abstraction.

    You can’t have it both ways, either you are just restating the standard ontological argument or you are invoking a long-disproven metaphysical construct.

  • Georgina

    Wow, I didn’t realise it was that profound.
    Actually, I was just playing with the old saw: If god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent her”. So if theists invented god in  order to be theists, seems to me, they invented atheism too. 

  • Rob

    Metaphysical and physical are different magisteria. They can not interact. You’re claiming interaction, ergo it’s not a metaphysical claim

  • Rob

    Ra is written down, why do you not accept that? Quetzalcoatl is written down, why do you not accept that? Voldemort is written down, why do you not accept that? Xenu is written down, why do you not accept that? Allah is written down, why do you not accept that?

    I could list thousands more. Why is yours any different?

  • Bad_homonym

    If god exists he must be beyond just the metaphysical. He has manifest himself in the creation of all things and performed miracles etc. in the physical realm. Surely there must be some physical evidence then!

    Cheers. Call me when you have some

  • Phasespace

    So in other words, you’re free to gerrymander your metaphysical claim any which way you want, and you expect anyone that sees things differently to take you seriously? Sorry, but you need a better epistemology before your claim can even begin to be considered as possibly true.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Sorry you don’t understand even the rudimentary principles of science. I’m making a claim that a metaphysical entity created the physical universe. Such a claim is not testable. It is not reproducible. Etc.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    And that is still special pleading, because it assumes the universe began to exist.

    That’s incorrect. I explained, with a definition, what special pleading is. Also, the available, empirical, scientific evidence strongly suggests that the universe began to exist.

    This is one of the most basic arguments against the ontological argument.  

    Again, incorrect. I’m not even advancing the ontological argument. You don’t even know what special pleading is, and you don’t even know that I’m not advancing the ontological argument.

    All the standard refutations still apply.

    Naked assertion.

    If you want to muster up a valid objection, do so. I appreciate your catch on the “intentional” thing, I’m more than willing to have a reasonable discussion with you. Else, we’re done.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    They can not interact.

    Says “Rob,” some atheist on the internet, without a lick of evidence or argumentation. Hardly compelling.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    If you’re really interested in knowing, come on over to my blog where I don’t have to combat a horde of ten different atheists where only one (BlackCat) is actually trying to make a substantial criticism. This is not my blog and I’m trying to get away from the thread if you haven’t noticed. So, come to my place and we can talk til the cows come home. If not, take care. 

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Like the others, you don’t get it. Yes, a resurrection or miracle has effects in the physical realm. The problem is that these events are not testable, not reproducible, etc. A miracle represents a temporary violation of the laws of physics. Think about it. If you want to discuss further, please track me down at my blog. I can’t combat 10 different atheists and pretty soon the blog owner is going to tire of this. If not, take care. Not to mention this thread comment feed is horribly un-user friendly, forcing all the comments in these tiny little columns.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Sorry, just realized I posted a duplicate so I deleted it.

  • TheBlackCat

    Split because of threading:

    That’s incorrect. I explained, with a definition, what special pleading
    is.

    Naked assertion.  I explained exactly why it was special pleading, which fit your definition exactly.  You ignored this and just assert that it was wrong.

    Also, the available, empirical, scientific evidence strongly
    suggests that the universe began to exist.

    No, it doesn’t  Available emperical scientific evidence strongly suggests the universe began to take its current form, but nothing in any established part of physics has anything to say about whether it came into existence.  There are a number of extensions of the standard model that have something to say on the matter, some say the universe began, others don’t.  But the standard model is incapable of dealing with even the early moments of the big bang, not to mention its origin.

    Again, incorrect. I’m not even advancing the ontological argument. You
    don’t even know what special pleading is, and you don’t even know that
    I’m not advancing the ontological argument.

    Naked assertion.  You keep insisting that you are not advancing the ontological argument, but your argument is identical to the ontological argument.  I have already explained in some detail why you argument is the same as the ontological argument, but again you completely ignore that and just assert that it is wrong with no basis.

    If you want to muster up a valid objection, do so. I appreciate your
    catch on the “intentional” thing, I’m more than willing to have a
    reasonable discussion with you. Else, we’re done.

    That would be more compelling if you were actually bothered to respond to my objections.  Instead you cherry pick a few sentences, ignoring the arguments I made backing those statements up, and then pretend that I didn’t make any arguments at all. 

    You do realize that people can actually see there is more to what I wrote than what you quoted, right?

  • TheBlackCat

    The reason it is not testable is not because it is metaphysical.  A metaphysical being can still have measurable, testable impacts on the physical world. 

    For instance a metaphysical being can answer prayers, in which case it would be testable.    The properties of the metaphysical being may not be testable, but its impact on the physical world most certainly could be, and in fact should be.

    The real reason it is not testable is because you have made it so vague that it is impossible to come up with tests.  If you gave some details about what sort of influences it has on the universe, what its goals are, when or where it interacted with the universe, or other such details, we very well might be able to come up with tests.  But you don’t.

    You can also make descriptions of physical systems too vague to be testable.  In fact the “discovers” of cold fusion did exactly that, leaving out sufficiently details that others could test their claims.

  • TheBlackCat

     You haven’t provided any evidence or argument either.  You just assert that anyone who disagrees with you is ignorant.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    If I told you there was an invisible pink unicorn in my back yard, would YOU accept the claim on face value? No. You would want actual, physical, testable evidence of the unicorn’s existence.

    Likewise, your claim requires actual, tangible, testable evidence of god’s existence.

    I don’t particularly care what you choose to believe, but when you’re using your beliefs to bludgeon others (literally or figuratively), well, you’re harming people, and I have a problem with THAT.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    I hope you understand why I do not commit special pleading with regard to Aristotle’s argument, and I also hope you now understand that said argument is NOT a version of the ontological argument.

    As for what you write above, trust me, I understand the reasoning behind what you’re saying. I’ve explained why I think those who think as you do are in error, though earnest. Please understand, I’m not saying people can’t try to “test” God via prayer studies or whatnot. Rather, I reject prayer studies as inherently unscientific, for the reasons I explain in that link, and more. I’m more than happy to continue that discussion over there, but, as did the others, this column is slowly shrinking to less than an inch wide and getting very annoying to read and write in. The webmaster needs to fix this!

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    I don’t mean to come off on a high horse, so I apologize if that’s what you’re feeling, but it’s true that those who ask for scientific evidence for metaphysical claims are ignorant of the scientific method’s foundational requirements. Consider: is the creation of the universe testable? Reproducible? Falsifiable? Etc. I know you’re smart enough to know the correct answer to those questions. As for the rest of the commenters, I get the feeling they just want to jab without even thinking critically about what I’m trying to say here. I cannot provide “evidence” for my claim that scientific evidence is impossible WRT metaphysical claims. I would also like to clarify that I *DO* believe physical evidence is possible for a metaphysical claim. This hinges on the stricter criteria for scientific evidence, which is essentially physical evidence controlled rigorously. 

    As for arguments, I respectfully disagree with you. I’ve given several arguments in this thread to support my belief that scientific evidence for the metaphysical is impossible to obtain, in principle. So far, I’ve been mocked, but nobody has provided a counter-argument explaining why I should abandon my belief.

    Cheers.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    I’m sorry that you also misunderstand the basic principles of the scientific method.

    I’m not bludgeoning anybody. All I did was leave a single comment, addressed to nobody in particular, stating that Longnecker’s argument is just a poorly articulate version of the First Cause argument. Then I stated that I’ve not seen a valid objection to that argument, ever. Then, *I* got “bludgeoned” by about a dozen different atheists, all of whom also misunderstand the basics of science. I don’t know what else to tell you.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    No. YOU are making claims pertaining to reality.

    Reality, by it’s nature, IS testable, with consistent, reproducible results.

    Your claim that a metaphysical entity has, in the past, interfered with the physical world (and that it continues to do so) requires testable, tangible evidence. You have not provided any evidence other than “because I said so”.

    Until you can show us the evidence requested — ANYTHING testable will do — we have every reason to dismiss your claim as false.

    Science is based on observable, testable, reproducible experiments and a little thing we call “reality”.

    Your claim is based on fantasy and wishful thinking.

    Now, EVIDENCE OR GTFO.

  • TheBlackCat

    First, no, I don’t trust you have properly thought out or properly researched your position.  None of the positions I have read on your blog so far are, so why should I expect this to be?

    Second, we are having the discussion here, people have repeatedly asked you to back up your claims here, so you need to provide backup here. 

    Third, if there are problems with the threading, just continue the discussion at the bottom with a new thread.

  • hoverFrog

    You’re making a claim about the physical universe and you’re refusing to back that up with evidence of any kind. Now you say that it cannot be tested because…God.

    Your assertion is indistinguishable from make believe.

  • Earl G.

    “evidence that is logically impossible given the nature of the theist’s claim”

    That’s right, you have no logical evidence.  Glad you realize it.

    Now, I’d like you to worship the Purple Princess Twinkle Fairy.  You want evidence that she actually exists?  Sorry, that’s a “metaphysical” question.  How dare you demand evidence I cannot provide!  So anyway, I want a bunch of tax breaks for my worship of the Twinkle Fairy.  That’s cool with you, right?

  • TheBlackCat

     Also the link doesn’t work anyway

  • TheBlackCat

     Science doesn’t have to be reproducible.  A particular supernova or earthquake isn’t reproducible be we can learn a lot about it by studying the traces it leaves behind.  Similarly the origin of the universe is certainly tetsable (I notice you used the term “creation” of the universe, nice try).  We can learn a lot about it by studying what is left.  We don’t know everything about it yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t.

    The fact is you simply don’t understand how science works.  The constraints that you try to apply to metaphysical claims would apply just as well to any historical science where we can’t reproduce what happened. 

    By your logic, then these are also not science: astronomy, geology, paleontology, anthropology, and subsets of pretty much every other branch of science.

    But of course they are science, for the simple fact that reproducibility is not a necessary part of science.  What is required for science is that it makes testable predictions about what we should see.  Metaphysical beings certainly can do that as long as they are well-defined.  Yours isn’t.

    Further, metaphysical claims can be reproducible, you implicitly assume they can’t be while providing no basis for this.  As long as the metaphysical being acts in a consistent manner than it is certainly rteprodcuible.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Science doesn’t have to be reproducible.

    I never said it did. I responded to Richard Wade, who said he’ll only accept evidence with certain criteria, one of which was replicability.

    A particular supernova or earthquake isn’t reproducible be we can learn a lot about it by studying the traces it leaves behind.

    I agree.

    The fact is you simply don’t understand how science works.

    No, you’ve got it backwards. The fact is, my attitude is inline with science. Those here who say science can pronounce facts on the supernatural are the ones who don’t understand science. The NAS agrees with me, not you. Look into it.

    The constraints that you try to apply to metaphysical claims would apply just as well to any historical science where we can’t reproduce what happened.

    False. Historical claims are falsifiable in principle. For example, we could discover an artifact that overthrows historical claim X. Supernatural claims don’t have this luxury, by their very nature. That’s why the NAS’ official statements agree with me and not the atheists here (who actually approach science more like the religious fundamentalists).

    By your logic, then these are also not science: astronomy, geology, paleontology, anthropology, and subsets of pretty much every other branch of science.

    False, but, nice try.

    As long as the metaphysical being acts in a consistent manner than it is certainly rteprodcuible.

    Sorry, but you still don’t get it.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    BlackCat,

    Sorry, double-posting this because the webadmin apparently doesn’t care about legibility.

    Science doesn’t have to be reproducible.

    I never said it did. I responded to Richard Wade, who said he’ll only accept evidence with certain criteria, one of which was replicability.

    A particular supernova or earthquake isn’t reproducible be we can learn a lot about it by studying the traces it leaves behind.

    I agree.

    The fact is you simply don’t understand how science works.

    No, you’ve got it backwards. The fact is, my attitude is inline with science. Those here who say science can pronounce facts on the supernatural are the ones who don’t understand science. The NAS agrees with me, not you. Look into it.

    The constraints that you try to apply to metaphysical claims would apply just as well to any historical science where we can’t reproduce what happened.

    False. Historical claims are falsifiable in principle. For example, we could discover an artifact that overthrows historical claim X. Supernatural claims don’t have this luxury, by their very nature. That’s why the NAS’ official statements agree with me and not the atheists here (who actually approach science more like the religious fundamentalists).

    By your logic, then these are also not science: astronomy, geology, paleontology, anthropology, and subsets of pretty much every other branch of science.

    False, but, nice try.

    As long as the metaphysical being acts in a consistent manner than it is certainly rteprodcuible.

    Sorry, but you still don’t get it.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    My site is under maintenance right now. It should work in a day or two.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    You’re making a claim about the physical universe and you’re refusing to back that up with evidence of any kind.

    False. You misunderstood the original criticism. If you want to learn of the evidence I think supports God’s existence, hit my blog in a few days (it’s on maintenance mode right now).

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    You’re making a claim about the physical universe and you’re refusing to back that up with evidence of any kind.

    False. You misunderstood the original criticism. If you want to learn of the evidence I think supports God’s existence, hit my blog in a few days (it’s on maintenance mode right now).

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Second, we are having the discussion here, people have repeatedly asked you to back up your claims here, so you need to provide backup here.

    The person making the positive claim retains the burden of proof. I did not make any positive claims here. My first comment only said that Longnecker’s argument is just a less-than-articulate version of Aristotle’s, which I’ve not seen refuted yet. My second comment asked Richard Wade to clarify what he meant by “evidence,” and my third comment is a DENIAL of Wade’s claim that such evidence is possible for God. You and the rest of the atheists here are the ones making the positive claim that science *CAN* make pronouncements on “supernatural” phenomena (despite the fact that the National Academies of Science flatly disagrees with you). So far, you are the only one who’s even tried to have a reasonable discussion on the matter, but all you’ve done is say that metaphysical claims can be reproducible if the being acts consistently. If that’s the case, then why don’t you go tell your spiel to the National Academies of Science? Maybe you can change their mind. Until then, I side with the experts, not online atheists.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    I’m sorry you still don’t understand. I’m not the one making the positive claim here. I’m DENYING the positive claim. It’s y’all who need to pony up the evidence, not me.

    Remember, we weren’t arguing about God’s existence. We are arguing whether science has any say on the supernatural. The NAS and myself are saying no. You and your atheist buddies are saying yes. 

    So, evidence, or… you know the rest :)

  • hoverFrog

    You don’t have any evidence for your god. Still, I’ll lurk and take a look at your site when it’s up again. It’s funny to see what passes for evidence in the minds of believers. Though why you can’t simply explain here escapes me.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Well. Funny how quiet it gets when I point out that the National Academies agree with my POV, and that the atheists here actually hold the same POV as the fundies who say science can prove God. At any rate, here are these from the National Academy of Science:

    Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science. [National Academies Press, Chapter 3, Creationist Perspectives]

    Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. [NAS, Evolution Resources]

    Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral. [National Academies Press]

    So, here’s the challenge to all you insulting little know-it-alls: can any of you give me ONE GOOD REASON to accept your unsubstantiated opinions over the official statements of the National Academies?

  • hoverFrog

    You are making a claim about the real world. You. Then you claim that you’re not making a claim because “supernatural”. That’s why you’ve been called out on your bullshit. When you say that God is the cause of the physical universe you are making a claim about reality that falls under the purview of science. That claim is unsubstantiated.  You rant and rave about your claims not needing to be justified by science but you’re simply missing this very important point.

    As soon as you make a claim about the natural world, any claim, you deviate from metaphysics and enter the realm where science rules. I hope that’s clear and you can stop throwing your insults at people just because they disagree with you.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    So the National Academies are wrong, too?

  • hoverFrog

    You’re missing the point. What the National Academy says is neither here nor there (and an argument from authority to boot) because it doesn’t support the claims that you are making. When you make a claim about the real world we can use science to determine the veracity of that claim. When you claim that God created the universe or if you claim that miracles occur then these are not metaphysical claims. If you claim that God loves you or that heaven exists in a plane apart from reality then you’re making a metaphysical claim and science cannot answer these questions. But you’re not doing that and if you were I’d have to ask how you know these things.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    When you claim that God created the universe or if you claim that miracles occur then these are not metaphysical claims.

    False. The purported mechanism behind these claims is supernatural. Science cannot study supernatural mechanisms.

    it doesn’t support the claims that you are making.

    False. It *DIRECTLY* supports the claim I’m making, you just refuse to see it.

  • hoverFrog

    Regardless of what you imagine are the mechanisms or causes you are still talking about the physical universe. If I claim that dragons made me late for work because they devoured my tyres I am making a claim about the real world even if dragons are metaphysical ones. The tyres aren’t metaphysical and neither is my lateness for work. I could examine the remains of the tyres for teeth marks and the time it takes me to get to work could be measured and compared to my claim.

    You seem blind to this and keep asserting that the normal rules of investigating phenomena can be thrown out of the window because you claim that some magic man in the sky is responsible. That’s just bullshit and special pleading. Something you also seem to be blind to.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    The tyres aren’t metaphysical and neither is my lateness for work.

    Correct, but the proffered cause *IS* metaphysical and thus not in the purview of *PHYSICAL* science. It’s you who seems blind, and it’s you who pleads specially by paying lip service to the principles of science on one hand, then throwing the same principles out when they contradict your claims.

    Like I said, if you’re so right, go petition NAS to change their official policies. This is a bore already.

  • hoverFrog

    Correct, but the proffered cause *IS* metaphysical and thus not in the purview of *PHYSICAL* science.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Your explanation for the natural phenomena is useless. It isn’t even an explanation, it’s an excuse as to why you don’t know something. When you say that god created the universe you aren’t offering an metaphysical explanation, you’re saying that we don’t know and that we can never know. That’s just a call for ignorance.
    Science might say that we don’t know but it will keep looking for an answer. That’s why it doesn’t use pointless metaphysics and the supernatural as explanations.

    Anyway, it is clear that you don’t wish to have your views challenged. That much is obvious just from the way that you insult rather than try to address the points being made against your arguments. If you’re bored with that then stop making baseless assertions that you refuse to support.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    When you say that god created the universe you aren’t offering an metaphysical explanation, you’re saying that we don’t know and that we can never know. That’s just a call for ignorance.

    See whatever you want to see.

    Anyway, it is clear that you don’t wish to have your views challenged.

    It’s not that. Quite contrary, I thrive off having my views challenged, from a competent challenger, which you aren’t. You’re simply too stubborn and too cocksure of your own correctness to have a fruitful conversation with. You wear the rally flag of science whilst failing to grasp even it’s most rudimentary principles, then have the audacity to condescend to those that disagree with you.

    That much is obvious just from the way that you insult rather than try to address the points being made against your arguments. If you’re bored with that then stop making baseless assertions that you refuse to support.

    Give it a rest already. I’ve not made any baseless assertions. Contrary, I supported my position with 3 official statements from the National Academies. You called that an “argument from authority” which just shows how poor a grasp you have on philosophy, and you failed to give even a single reason why I should accept your baseless assertions over the NAS’ official statements. You are a walking contradiction of your own ideologies.

    Feel free to get your last digs in, because I won’t be feeding your trolling again. Take care.

  • hoverFrog

    You’ve failed to address any points being made and have resorted to ad hominem attacks. That fact is that you’ve made a claim about the real world and refuse to back it up using the claim that you don’t have to because your claim is metaphysical. It isn’t and you refuse to admit that.

  • TheBlackCat

     I’ve given examples demonstrating that supernatural claims can be falsifiable.  You simply ignored them.  You have provided no logical basis for your position, no examples, no reasoning.  I have provided all of this, but you have systematically ignored them, only quoting the points that are convenient to your argument while ignoring the points that aren’t.

  • TheBlackCat

     I have given several, you ignored them all.  And the NAS doesn’t say what you think it says:

    Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural
    intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because
    they are not testable by the methods of science.

    This is consistent with what I said.  The claims are vague and lack any real content.  If we had more specific we could test them, and in fact scientists have been begging IDers and other Creationists for such details for decades.  But the IDers and other Creationists have intentionally kept their claims to vague to be addressed by science. 

    Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science.

    I explicitly stated this myself.  What is testable by science is not the entities themselves, but rather their effect on the world.  Those are two entirely different things.

    Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to
    explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say
    nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question
    about which science is neutral.

    Again, science cannot say anything about the supernatural, but it most certainly can say things about the effects of the supernatural on the universe.

    It is especially ironic that you use these quotes, since they are dealing with evolution and the age of the Earth.  By your logic science can say nothing about these topics, since it could potentially involve a supernatural being.  But in the case of biblical young-earth creationism, we can definitively rule that out, since it does not fit with the evidence.  They have only been able to work around this by either ignoring evidence, or making their claims more vague.

    IDers have tried to work around this by making their claims too vague to be directly addressed.  But if they provided specifics, as they are often asked to but almost never oblige, then it would certainly be possible to investigate those specifics scientifically.

    Similarly, if someone claims God fulfills all prayers of believers, then it is certainly possible to test that (that may not be your claim, but it is certainly a claim about a metaphysical being).  Claims about Jesus’s miracles are in principle testable, we can’t test them due to the sparsity of historical records. 

    But claims of modern-day miracle workers are certainly testable.  Claims by some people that they can live without food and water are easily testable.  Claims about mind reading, seeing at a distance, telling the future, talking to the dead, remembering past lives, and other such supernatural things are routinely tested.

    So it is simply false that supernatural claims cannot be tested by science.  Not only can they be, they are tested routinely as part of the investigation of claimed modern-day miracle workers, often doing the exact same sorts of supernatural things Jesus is claimed to have done.  These sorts of claims have only been preserved by making them more vague, making up excuses afterwards, or more often just outright avoiding tests,

  • TheBlackCat

    “”Quite contrary, I thrive off having my views challenged, from a competent challenger,”

    Baloney.  You systematically ignore any points inconvenient to your position.  You pretend they never happened them claim victory since nobody could refute you. 

    People can see that you are only responding to bits and pieces of other peoples’ posts, you are not fooling anyone.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    You systematically ignore any points inconvenient to your position.

    That’s false. For example, did I, or did I not *OPENLY* concede that you made a valid point WRT my presentation of Aristotle’s argument from kinesis, on the “intentionality” point? Since the answer is an unequivocal “yes,” that falsifies your claim. That’s *PROOF* that I’ll concede a valid criticism. Naked assertions != valid criticisms.

    You pretend they never happened them claim victory since nobody could refute you.

    I’m not “pretending” anything here. Since I got on this thread, there has only been *ONE* legitimate criticism of anything I said, and that was your remark about the “intention” thing. Other than that, I’ve had to correct the many errors from atheists. For example, you apparently didn’t know that Aristotle’s argument from kinesis is *NOT* an ontological argument, and you also appeared not to know what special pleading was. Hoverfrog similarly accuses me of “ad hominem” while apparently not even realizing what that means. Lastly, WRT supporting my claims, I’ve used official statement from the NAS as supporting evidence. They agree with *ME* not you, and this isn’t an argument from authority. So, really, it’s *YOU* who are ignoring things, not me, and I can imagine why you’re upset: it’s probably somewhat of a blow to one’s ego to be shown so wrong on such a fundamental aspect of science, especially since y’all are supposedly the enlightened atheists and me the dumb simpleton Christian.

    Lastly, like I said before, I welcome your commentary at my blog, unless you continue to descend to Hoverfrog’s level of making blatantly false claims like the one above, at which point you’ll be ignored. All you have to do is try. So far, you haven’t tried once. So if anyone’s serving baloney here, it ain’t me.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Well. Despite the fact that you refuse to take responsibility for the false claim you made about me “dodging points,” I’ll still extend charity and continue. I’m confident that others can easily spot out the falsity of your claim, and that should put all this “cl doesn’t want to have discussion” crap permanently to rest.

    [science] most certainly can say things about the effects of the supernatural on the universe.

    “Saying things” isn’t science. The most a scientist could do is *SPECULATE* that any given effects were the result of supernatural entities, as opposed to hitherto undiscovered “natural” ones. Unfortunately, speculation is not science.

    It is especially ironic that you use these quotes, since they are dealing with evolution and the age of the Earth. By your logic science can say nothing about these topics, since it could potentially involve a supernatural being.

    False. That is a gross mischaracterization of what I’ve said. As far as prayer studies, I already pointed you to my post explaining why I reject them as inherently unscientific. You’re more than welcomed to comment on that, too.

    Claims about mind reading, seeing at a distance, telling the future, talking to the dead, remembering past lives, and other such supernatural things are routinely tested.

    Correct, but these tests are conducted on *HUMAN* or *NATURAL* subjects, not supernatural entities purported to transcend space / time. Furthermore, the aforementioned difficulties still apply. Take, for example, the work of Rhine, Puthoff, Targ and many others. Can science identify effects? Sure. However, that does not mean that science can establish a supernatural entity as the *MECHANISM* behind said effects. That can only be assumed. Contrast that with the original topics of discussion here—creation of the universe, the Resurrection—these are of an entirely different category. Those things cannot be tested by science, at all.

  • TheBlackCat

     

    Despite the fact that you refuse to take responsibility for the false
    claim you made about me “dodging points,” I’ll still extend charity and
    continue.

    You say this, then ignore many of my points again.

    “Saying things” isn’t science. The most a scientist could do is
    *SPECULATE* that any given effects were the result of supernatural
    entities, as opposed to hitherto undiscovered “natural” ones.
    Unfortunately, speculation is not science.

    No, what science can do, as I keep saying and you still keep ignoring,
    is that they can test the claims made about the supernatural being’s effects on the world.  That is what science does, it makes predictions and then tests them.  Whether the predictions are based on is irrelevant.

    Your objections regarding unknown natural causes applies equally well to natural mechanisms.  For all we know atoms might not be real, there might be some other undiscovered natural cause for what we are seeing.  There is nothing special about supernatural causes in this regard.

    False. That is a gross mischaracterization of what I’ve said.

    How, exactly?  It is a metaphysical claim that is testable.  How in principle is it any different from your claims about the origin of the universe, except for the fact that it is specific enough to develop tests for?

    As far as prayer studies, I already pointed you to my post explaining why I reject them as inherently unscientific

    You completely ignore my point again.  None of your objections in the article apply to the situation I described.  It may not match your beliefs about prayer, but it is certainly a metaphysical claim, and it is certainly testable.  It is easy to avoid the placebo effect by asking for effects on inanimate objects (move this mountain), and it is easy to avoid extra-study prayers by asking for something random that no one would ask for (like certain numbers appearing in clouds, for instance). 

    Correct, but these tests are conducted on *HUMAN* or *NATURAL* subjects,
    not supernatural entities purported to transcend space / time.

    First, if the powers or abilities come either from God, some supernatural being, or a supernatural soul, then it most certain is tests about supernatural beings.

    Second, you never restricted this to “supernatural beings”, you said, and I quote, ” it *IS* logically impossible to produce scientific evidence for a metaphysical claim.”  These are metahphysical claims.  You are now moving the goal posts.

    Can science identify effects? Sure. However, that does not mean that
    science can establish a supernatural entity as the *MECHANISM* behind
    said effects. That can only be assumed.

    Science cannot establish anything as the mechanism behind anything.  It can only test that the effects are in line with what you would expect from the mechanism.  This is the case for both natural and supernatural claims.

    Contrast that with the original topics of discussion here—creation of
    the universe, the Resurrection—these are of an entirely different
    category. Those things cannot be tested by science, at all.

    Of course they can.  I already provided an example where claims regarding the creation of the universe can be tested.  Your specific claims cannot be tested yet because they are too vague.

    Claims regarding the resurrection can, in principle, be tested as well.  For instance the resurrection requires that Jesus actually existed.  If we had detailed enough historical records it would certainly be possible to test that claim, we only can’t because the historical records from the time are not detailed enough.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    TheBlackCat,

    You say this, then ignore many of my points again.

    I *DISAGREE* with you. Disagreeing with you is not the same as ignoring a point. Look: regarding your false claims of “ignoring” you, it’s a straight, simple question. Actually 4 at this point:1) Did I, or I did not concede your point about intentionally?2) If yes to 1, does that, or does that not mean I’m willing to both *ACKNOWLEDGE* (as opposed to ignore) and concede a point when I agree that you have one?3) If yes to 2, what “points” of yours are you whining about now?4) If I’m “ignoring” your points, then what on Earth do you keep responding to? 

    No, what science can do, as I keep saying and you still keep ignoring, is that they can test the claims made about the supernatural being’s effects on the world.

    I *ANSWERED* that. Look at my last reply. I said, *YES* science can study effects but anything that comes after is speculation, since the purported *MECHANISM* is not testable. Sure, a scientist can speculate that the effects are from some god, or say “these effects are in line with a claim about a god,” but that part isn’t science. Now, if you want to have an intelligent discussion, then explain *WHY* you disagree with that. Don’t keep hand-waving and saying, “Science can test effects cl.” Yeah, duh, I’m aware that science can test for effects. That doesn’t solve the problem, and it damn sure doesn’t explain science’s utter ineptitude WRT claims such as “God created the universe” or “God rose Jesus from the dead.”

    For all we know atoms might not be real, there might be some other undiscovered natural cause for what we are seeing.

    Total nonsense, not at all what my line of reasoning entails. Scientists can isolate, test and directly interact with atoms. Not to mention *MEASURE* them.

    It is easy to avoid the placebo effect by asking for effects on inanimate objects (move this mountain), and it is easy to avoid extra-study prayers by asking for something random that no one would ask for (like certain numbers appearing in clouds, for instance).

    Pure foolishness for several reasons: what if the people didn’t pray correctly or strong enough? What if some of the people are undercover Satanists hoping to thwart the process? What if God doesn’t feel like moving mountains just to prove His existence to a bunch of doubting Thomas’? What if positive results aren’t actually from a “supernatural” entity, but some hitherto undiscovered “natural” psychological forces in man? Last but not least, what of the clear command in Scripture which says *NOT* to test God like this? It’s not a matter of what I “believe” about this; it’s a matter of separating real, natural science from pseudoscience. 

    First, if the powers or abilities come either from God, some supernatural being, or a supernatural soul, then it most certain is tests about supernatural beings.

    Your sentence isn’t sufficiently clear. If by “come from” you mean that the “supernatural” entity endowed the subjects with the powers, then, what you say is irrelevant because the mechanism remains the “natural” human subject as I said. If by “come from” you mean that the “supernatural” entity *IS* the mechanism, then the aforementioned problems still apply.

    Science cannot establish anything as the mechanism behind anything.  

    False. Heat is a known mechanism for boiling water. Countless other examples exist.

    It can only test that the effects are in line with what you would expect from the mechanism.

    Correct: science can observe effects and then *SPECULATE* that said effects result from a supernatural entity because they’re in line with the claim. But again, speculation isn’t science. There is also the problem of necessary assumption: the scientist in this case must *ASSUME* their expectations are correct. I like my science based on factual, empirical observations, not speculations grounded in assumptions about supernatural beings.

    I already provided an example where claims regarding the creation of the universe can be tested.

    Well then, would you mind repeating it? We’ve had so many back-and-forth’s I honestly can’t remember what you said, or what I said in response.

    Claims regarding the resurrection can, in principle, be tested as well.  For instance the resurrection requires that Jesus actually existed.  If we had detailed enough historical records it would certainly be possible to test that claim, we only can’t because the historical records from the time are not detailed enough.

    Wow. This is getting really bad. Now you’re responding to a strawman. My claim is *NOT* that we can’t obtain “any evidence whatsoever” for the Resurrection. My claim is that the Resurrection cannot be tested scientifically. History is not a natural science. If you’re going to be a worthwhile critic, at least critique the claims I’m making, not strawmen.

  • TheBlackCat

     

    I *DISAGREE* with you. Disagreeing with you is not the same as ignoring a
    point.

    No, what is the same as ignoring me is not responding to the points I make.

     

    1) Did I, or I did
    not concede your point about intentionally?2) If yes to 1, does that, or
    does that not mean I’m willing to both *ACKNOWLEDGE* (as opposed to
    ignore) and concede a point when I agree that you have one?

    All it means is you are willing to concede points when they are not important to the message you are trying to push.  You clearly stated you did not think intentionality was important to your argument, so it not that impressive that you were willing to concede it.

     

    3) If
    yes to 2, what “points” of yours are you whining about now?

    I listed several in my response to you.  Other things you ignored: my point about vagueness of ID and creationist claims, my point about ID and creationism being metaphysical claims.

    In this post, you ignored my pointing out that you are moving the goalposts regarding metaphysical claims vs supernatural entities, you ignored where I pointed out that your issues with prayer studies do not apply to the situation I described, and you ignored my request for you to explain how I was misrepresenting your opinion on creationism.

     

    4) If I’m
    “ignoring” your points, then what on Earth do you keep responding to?

    You are responding to things that are convenient to you while ignoring the things that aren’t.  That way it seems that you are responding while you still get to avoid having to deal with my actual points.  People are used to that tactic here, it won’t fool anyone I’m afraid.

    Now, if you want to have an intelligent discussion, then explain *WHY*
    you disagree with that. Don’t keep hand-waving and saying, “Science can
    test effects cl.”

    The problem is that “test for effects” is all science can do.  Ever, period, under any circumstances.  That is the whole point of science, it is how science works, it is what scientists do, it is the sole mechanism by which science accomplishes anything.

    Total nonsense, not at all what my line of reasoning entails. Scientists
    can isolate, test and directly interact with atoms. Not to mention
    *MEASURE* them.

    No, scientists can measure effects that are consistent with isolated atoms.  Scientists can measure effects that consistent with an interaction with atoms.  But there is no way to be certain those really are due to atoms, and not something else that produces the same effects.  No one can see, touch, or directly interact with atoms.  Everything we think we know about atoms, and anything else in science, is gained by testing whether the effects we see are consistent with the hypothesis.  That is what hypothesis testing is.

    Pure foolishness for several reasons: what if the people didn’t pray
    correctly or strong enough?

    I specifically said we could test the idea that “god answers all prayers”.

    What if some of the people are undercover
    Satanists hoping to thwart the process?

    I specifically said we could test the idea that “god answers all prayers”.

    What if God doesn’t feel like
    moving mountains just to prove His existence to a bunch of doubting
    Thomas’?

    I specifically said we could test the idea that “god answers all prayers”.

    Got it yet?  You are not responding to the what I proposed testing, you are responding to something completely different, almost totally unlike what I am talking about.  I explained this in the last post, but you conveniently cut that bit out of your response.

    What if positive results aren’t actually from a “supernatural”
    entity, but some hitherto undiscovered “natural” psychological forces in
    man?

    That could apply to anything in science, as I keep saying.  I challenge you to name one thing in science for which there is no other possible explanation.  Anything, anything at all.  I guarantee I can come up with another explanation.  You may not like it, you may think it is silly, but it will nevertheless be fully consistent with what we have seen.  That is why science doesn’t deal with proofs, there is always, always, always a possibility that something else is responsible for what we see.

    Your sentence isn’t sufficiently clear. If by “come from” you mean that
    the “supernatural” entity endowed the subjects with the powers, then,
    what you say is irrelevant because the mechanism remains the “natural”
    human subject as I said. If by “come from” you mean that the
    “supernatural” entity *IS* the mechanism, then the aforementioned
    problems still apply.

    No, as long as the effects are sufficiently well specified, it can be tested.  The fact that people can make the claims vague is not a disproof of this.

    False. Heat is a known mechanism for boiling water. Countless other examples exist.

    Heat isn’t a mechanism, it is a quantiy, a measurement.  Electromagnetic interactions are what we think is the mechanism for boiling water, but there were others ideas in the past (caloric, for example).  There is no way to prove that electromagnetic interactions really are the mechanism, though. 

    Quantities exist independently of the mechanism underlying them.  Heat is heat, whether it is caused by caloric or electromagnetic interactions.  Light intensity is light intensity, whether it is due to ether or photons.  Gravitational acceleration is gravitational acceleration, whether it is due to general relativity or invisible pink flying elephants.  What is important is what values those quantities have under specific situations, and how those values match up with the effects we would expect under various hypotheses.

    There is also the problem of necessary assumption: the scientist in this
    case must *ASSUME* their expectations are correct. I like my science
    based on factual, empirical observations, not speculations grounded in
    assumptions about supernatural beings.

    Scientists must always assume that.  That is what an experiment is, a set of expectations we have regarding what effects we would see if a hypothesis is correct.  I challenge you to find any experiment ever that doesn’t require that assumption.

    Well then, would you mind repeating it? We’ve had so many
    back-and-forth’s I honestly can’t remember what you said, or what I said
    in response.

    Uh, biblical young earth creationism.  You said I was misrepresenting your point, but when I asked how you again just ignored me.

    My claim is that the Resurrection cannot be tested scientifically.
    History is not a natural science. If you’re going to be a worthwhile
    critic, at least critique the claims I’m making, not strawmen.

    Wait, what?  When did you restrict this only to natural sciences?  You were the one saying before that “False. Historical claims are falsifiable in principle. For example, we
    could discover an artifact that overthrows historical claim X. ”

  • TheBlackCat

     Before you use any of that “the answer is no” equivocation, as I explained several times before, when I say “god answers all prayers” I mean “god carries out all prayers”.  If you start trying to claim “the answer is no” it would only prove you have ignored all my previous posts on the subject.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Here you go, point by point, so you can’t cry about “ignoring” anymore:

    Other things you ignored: my point about vagueness of ID and creationist claims, my point about ID and creationism being metaphysical claims.

    Yeah, I did ignore those. You know why? They’re irrelevant. I’m not making vague ID or creationist claims. What, I’m supposed to respond to whatever you pull out of thin air, regardless of whether it applies to *MY* position or not? 

    In this post, you ignored my pointing out that you are moving the goalposts regarding metaphysical claims vs supernatural entities,

    Nonsense. I haven’t moved anything. You’re the one moving goalposts, from, “scientific evidence” regarding the Resurrection to “historical evidence.” Pure hypocrisy on your behalf.

    …you ignored where I pointed out that your issues with prayer studies do not apply to the situation I described,

    Nonsense again. I clearly countered that with *REASONS* why I disagree. You haven’t addressed them.

    You are responding to things that are convenient to you while ignoring the things that aren’t.

    No, I’m responding to every point you make, you just don’t like what you hear. Like I said: we disagree. That isn’t ignoring anything.

    The problem is that “test for effects” is all science can do.  Ever, period, under any circumstances.

    Wrong again. Science can falsify claims (e.g. a DNA mismatch), science can establish truth (e.g. a DNA match), and science can establish mechanisms (e.g. heat boils water).

    No one can see, touch, or directly interact with atoms.

    Nonsense.

    I specifically said we could test the idea that “god answers all prayers”.

    …which is totally irrelevant to the God of the Bible, unless you’re a literalist, which I am not.

    You are not responding to the what I proposed testing,

    To “the what” you proposed testing? Nice proofreading. Hurried a bit? Ah, nevermind. Why should I respond to what you proposed testing, since I don’t believe in it?

    That is why science doesn’t deal with proofs,

    Again, irrelevant, because I never said it *DID* deal with proofs. You seem to agree with me, despite being bent on arguing.

    There is no way to prove that electromagnetic interactions really are the mechanism, though.

    Why do you keep introducing strawmen? Heat is the mechanism for boiling water. You know it, I know it, that’s all there is to it. To imply otherwise is pure sophistry. Nobody said anything about “proofs” or whatever. Stick to what’s said instead of pulling crap out of thin air.

    Quantities exist independently of the mechanism underlying them.  Heat is heat, whether it is caused by caloric or electromagnetic interactions.  Light intensity is light intensity, whether it is due to ether or photons.  Gravitational acceleration is gravitational acceleration, whether it is due to general relativity or invisible pink flying elephants.  What is important is what values those quantities have under specific situations, and how those values match up with the effects we would expect under various hypotheses.

    Irrelevant to anything I’ve said.

    Uh, biblical young earth creationism.

    That’s your point? LOL! Sure, science can try to approximate the age of the Earth. That says nothing about whether God or some fairy unicorn pulled it out it’s backside. That’s what you don’t seem to get.

    When did you restrict this only to natural sciences?

    Are. You. Kidding? In the original arguments with Wade, you dense BlackCat you. For crying out loud. Just quit wasting our time already. 20 exchanges later, and you still haven’t got the slightest idea what the original point of contention was? Bah.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    TheBlackCat,

    You know what? You need to be called out for your nonsense here. You keep claiming I’m “ignoring” you, yet:

    1) When I pointed out that you either didn’t understand what special pleading was, or didn’t understand why positing a First Mover is not special pleading, you dropped that ball, and didn’t return to it. IOW, you *IGNORED* that. You can’t say you just disagree, because, you didn’t even challenge or respond to what I said.

    2) When I pointed out that you didn’t even know what the hell you were talking about—that Aristotle’s argument from kinesis is not the ontological argument—you dropped that ball, and didn’t return to it. IOW, you *IGNORED* that. You can’t say you just disagree, because, you didn’t even challenge or respond to what I said.

    So, go ahead. Have the last word. Since you persist in erecting strawmen about everything from ID to creationism to historical evidence as opposed to scientific evidence, and since you persist in the typical Gnu tactic of claiming I’m ignoring you when in fact I respond to everything you say unless it’s irrelevant, I’m done. Unchecking the comment notification, so, have the last word, I won’t be back.

    You did better than HoverFrog, and I’ll take the two legitimate points you actually made into consideration, but, this is just a total waste of time. Take care.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b cl

    Crap. It’s Disqus here. I *CAN’T* unsubscribe. Whatever.

  • TheBlackCat

     I’m not responding anymore.  The moment you tell me that a metaphysical claim doesn’t count because it doesn’t match your particular religious beliefs, there is no point continuing the conversation. 

    I’m sure you will think you won this, but eople can judge for themselves who is actually giving honest responses
    and who is ignoring anything inconvenient to their position.  Bye.

  • TheBlackCat

    There is a link to do so at the bottom of the emails.

  • Encorechih

    Claudia if you need supporting evidence to believe in something, why are you atheist? do you have an actual proof that god doesnt exist? im not speaking of your “rationalizations”  the only thing you have is a twisted kind of faith, like the theist you hate so much BIATCH


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