Motive guessing at my dad

My father is back to jumping on people in the forums of his local newspaper.  If this happened more often, if there were accountability for saying silly things with conviction, I’d wager we’d see it slow down.


STUART RIDLING says,

“…what all religions have in common is a choice in belief as well as the possibility of misinterpretation.”

What does this even mean?  That people can choose to believe or to not believe in a particular religion?  Well, duh. It cannot mean that each religion provides for a choice in belief for other religions.  How could that possibly dovetail with the first commandment of the decalogue:  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

He says,

“There are many among our current society that question the presence of God. They justify themselves by citing atrocities, disease, ill will, crime, etc. I personally believe this is an attempt to paint the world in an evil tone so they can feel better about themselves, but as I lack a degree in psychiatry, this is only a layman’s theory.”

Correct…he doesn’t have a degree in psychiatry and his theory is stupid.  Religion/God/gods are hypotheses about how the world works.  As such, those hypotheses are subject to questioning and criticism, just like any other hypothesis about how the world works such as socialism, Communism, Keynesian economic theory, germ theory, heliocentrism, and so on. It isn’t an attempt to “justify themselves”—whatever that means—it is a simple matter of applying logic to a hypothesis to see if the hypothesis makes sense.

Instead of explaining why it makes sense, he attacks the questioner. This is the old tried and true “Kill the messenger” approach to things you don’t like to hear.

He says,

“Natural disasters destroy the lives of many and that is a tragedy for all, but on the same day that disaster strikes for some, there are many others that live to see the end of the day.”

How profound.  Exactly how does that help the lives destroyed?  Isn’t that like saying , “You were mugged and robbed today, but just think about all those who weren’t!”  Big whoopie deal.

I am amazed at how so many bible thumpers come on here and just prattle gibberish.

  • Rieux

    “Big whoopie deal”?

    This is no way to score points in the The Meanest rankings. JT still > Dad.

  • Mark

    God is not a hypothesis; God is a postulate.

    • IslandBrewer

      I first read that as “pustule”.

    • Drakk

      Do you have anything relevant to say or are you limited to dispensing one-liners in an attempt at laconic wit?

      • Drakk

        In an attempt to avoid the irony associated with being rather brief in my previous comment…

        Okay. Fine then.

        Postulate (n): A thing suggested or assumed as true as the basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief.

        Very well. Given the postulate A god exists and all implications that follow, construct a framework of ideas and equations which allows quantitative analysis and prediction of any physical phenomenon.

        Then use that framework to make a prediction as to the expected behaviour of a physical system under a particular set of conditions.

        Finally, perform an actual test of this physical system and compare the results to the predictions constructed from the god-postulate.

        • Mark

          Except for the fact that God is not limited to the physical and neither is the system with which we are engaged, I do, every day.

          • Drakk

            “Except for the fact that God is not limited to the physical”

            What observations do you make that result in this claim?

            “neither is the system with which we are engaged”

            As above.

            “I do, every day.”

            Elucidate.

            It does you no good to say “I totes did that already” when asked to explain your experimental process. I did that on a lab report, I’d be laughed out of the course and rightly so.

            Since you claim to have a coherent theoretical framework based on the god-pustule postulate, I will attempt to test the predictive capability of your theory. Please predict the energy levels of a hydrogen atom in accordance with the hypothesis you have based on the god-postulate. You may not use any formulae or principles from modern quantum physics unless your theory results in their derivation (and you must explain how).

        • Mark

          Drakk,

          I hope that some day I will be close enough to God that He could entrust me with such predictive power as to not use it for my own glory or to aide you in your homework. See Matthew 4:7.

          • Drakk

            I do not need to be aided in my homework (which this question is not) by unproven hypotheses based on assumptions of questionable validity, thank you.

            I am not putting your god to the test. I am putting the theoretical framework you claim to have built up around the assumption that a god exists to the test. I am testing you.

            You don’t seem to understand how science works. The point of this exercise is I already know the energy levels of a hydrogen atom, or rather, I am able to easily calculate them. If, under your theory, the answer is different, I will know that your theory is wrong. The answers given by quantum physics are definitely correct, because if I were to measure the energy levels of an actual hydrogen atom I would find results that matched up with the predictions of quantum mechanics.

            It is exactly the same as if I were to ask you to derive the near-Earth-surface gravitational acceleration. This is common knowledge amongst physicists (~9.81 m/s^2 so I don’t get accused of needing aide(sic) with my homework). However, if following your theory led to a different answer, that would be evidence that your theory is wrong, because it makes an incorrect prediction.

            Furthermore, in the context of me aksing you to use your theory to derive and test a predicted observation, you say:

            I do, every day.

            However, when asked to make a prediction to compare with known results, you say:

            I hope that some day I will be close enough to God that He could entrust me with such predictive power

            Which is contradictory.

            So, were you lying then, or are you lying now?

            Given that you have not successfully managed to make a prediction based on your theory or even explain in full the theory itself, I am inclined to think it is the former. So tell me, Mark. Do you have a theoretical framework capable of making predictions, or do you not?

        • Mark

          Drakk,

          Who said anything about science? While God is not limited to the physical world, science surely is and therefore not applicable in testing the spiritual. I can only guess that you are defining “science” as “perform[ing] an actual test of this physical system and compar[ing] the results to the predictions constructed from [a] postulate.” But I wonder if YOU really understand science. In your “testing” of me, you certainly have not applied the proper controls. Any result of your inquiry is not falsifiable as it discounts the possibility that I may know this number off hand, or may have such familiarity with an equation, constant, and periodic table that the number could too easily be calculated without proper reference. I also will not discount the possibility that you would dismiss a correct answer as a deception of how I arrived at it. Further, for me to give no answer within the framework I aspire to operate under, could simply mean “no” to the request for a specific value from a sovereign person (this is in fact the answer I predict I would receive). This “test” would be inconclusive in regard to existence of the spiritual.

          I do have a framework, which I believe is Biblical, under which to make predictions, however, the quality of the predictions is predicated upon my own understanding of God’s will and person and is therefore an iterative approach whose purpose is not designed for material gain, but rather a strengthened personal understanding of God’s person and will. Here is a summary:

          http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3234901/Faith%20and%20Religion/prayer.htm

          • Drakk

            So you are capable of longer than single sentence replies.

            While God is not limited to the physical world

            You still have not given any evidence for this claim.

            science surely is and therefore not applicable in testing the spiritual.

            The what now? Something else you claim exists, with nothing to support your claim?

            In your “testing” of me, you certainly have not applied the proper controls.

            You’ve got me.

            Course this isn’t proper science. I’m humouring you and your “postulate” by granting it and trying to see where it leads us, to anything particularly useful (you have not passed this test). As a scientist I shouldn’t even grant it in the first place, seeing as you have not shown that it is a reasonable assumption to make based on available evidence. I ought to demand evidence that your postulate is reasonably grounded and not pulled out of thin air. In the context of debating with theists however I find that method rather overused despite being completely valid scientifically. What’s that quote about playing chess with a pigeon?

            I also will not discount the possibility that you would dismiss a correct answer as a deception of how I arrived at it.

            I will dismiss an answer you give (even if correct) if I do not think your theory supports that answer, i.e. upon you presenting me with the full derivation of a result from basic principles set by your theory, I would examine that derivation for inconsistent reasoning. If any were to be found, I would not accept that your theory is able to produce correct answers.

            Further, for me to give no answer within the framework I aspire to operate under, could simply mean “no” to the request for a specific value from a sovereign person (this is in fact the answer I predict I would receive).

            You’ll have to forgive me. I don’t understand what the fuck any of that meant (and this is a general observation, you don’t tend to be very easy to follow). I’ll try to respond anyway though: If you have no answer for a particular question, then it seems reasonable to assume that is because your theory does not enable you to provide an answer to that question. This calls the usefulness of your theory into question (especially for a theory that is supposed to encompass not just the physical world but also some nebluous as-yet-ill-understood realm beyond physical existence). Does your theory give useful answers or doesn’t it?

            I do have a framework, which I believe is Biblical, under which to make predictions[...]

            Then use it. Make a prediction based on its terms. Or can’t you? So I ask again: does your theory make useful predictions about the physical world or doesn’t it? If it doesn’t, then for all your claim about your “god being not limited to the physical world” it seems very much to me like your god is certainly limited to the non-physical world.

            In which case the whole theory is a waste of time, given lack of evidence for even the existence of a non-physical world.

          • Mark

            Drakk,

            I obviously do not subscribe to scientism; therefore it appears that we have no common frame of reference.

    • Drakk

      I obviously do not subscribe to scientism…

      You reject the universal application of the scientific method.

      You reject the proposition that the techniques responsible for every human achievement over the past ten millennia if not longer, are not universally applicable.

      You reject the proposition that the method of making an observation and drawing up a framework to explain it in a manner consistent with other observations, is not universally applicable.

      You reject the proposition that the system by which we have made accurate models of everything from stars to skyscrapers to subatomic particles is not universally applicable.

      You reject the notion that the framework by which we discovered the relation between space and time themselves, the framework that gives us insight into the fundamental nature of matter and energy is, somehow, not universally applicable.

      You had better present some extraordinary evidence, friend. Nature itself seems to deny your proposition.

      • Mark

        Yes, you are right, I reject the universal application of the scientific method. To be clear, I do not reject the scientific method itself, but the dogma that it can be universally applied. You have given some fine examples of scientific triumphs, but your list is far from universal and does not account for aspects of love, law, philosophy, preference, belief in right and wrong, creativity, or imagination; to name a few. To say that science can be applied universally, when the universal is not known is unscientific. So, I must wonder why, if one were to say that science can be applied universally, one would use such an un-scientific statement to do so.

        • Drakk

          In no particular order, and with overlaps between them? Your examples are addressed by, or fall under the umbrella disciplines of:

          Neuroscience, social science, psychology, cognitive science and evolutionary biology.

          Do you understand what exactly you’re saying? You are saying that there exists a case whereby phenomena manifest from nature are not best investigated by observing the phenomenon in question, making a prediction as to its mechanism, and then using that prediction’s implications to make predictions that can be compared to other phenomena to determine the validity of the theory.

          You are saying that there exists a case where the logical framework whose history is a chronicle of endless innovation and constant refinement, is, at some point in the universe, invalid. And that not only do the laws we know not apply at this point, but the system we used to figure out the laws everywhere else is also non-useful.

          To say that science can be applied universally, when the universal is not known is unscientific.

          Oh really.

          Tell me now. Given the 410 nonillion (10^30) cubic light years that make up the observable universe, all of them obeying the same laws, and all of them able to be investigated using the same logical framework, why should I believe with any certainty that the next outer shell revealed by the universe’s expansion should be any different? More pertinently, why should I believe that this exception also applies to a small, nondescript planet orbiting an average star in a galaxy similar to countless others

          • Drakk

            well that was an interesting glitch.

            …an average star in a galaxy similar to countless others…

            …just for the simple fact that this one appears to have a thin layer of organic carbon compounds on its surface? A phenomenon which happens to be explainable by the scientific method anyway?

            To say nothing of the fact that no alternative appears to exist anyway. How do you propose we acquire additional knowledge of the universe, then? And what will this do that inquiry, hypothesizing, verification and refinement cannot?

          • Mark

            It really depends on what you mean by universe. By the term “universal,” I am assuming you are using it as a cosmological term meaning the whole of reality. If the universe is limited to the physical, sure, knock yourself out with the scientific method, but the physical does not constitute the whole of reality. It is nonsensical to require physical evidence of the non-physical.

          • Drakk

            By the term “universal,” I am assuming you are using it as a cosmological term meaning the whole of reality.

            And I see nothing in reality that cannot at least be investigated, if not yet fully explained, by the method of scientific inquiry.

            but the physical does not constitute the whole of reality

            You are stating the same thing in different ways. The response, thankfully, is simple:

            Where is the evidence?

            And furthermore:

            How should this be tested if not using a framework of investigation and reasoning?

            It is nonsensical to require physical evidence of the non-physical.

            Do you understand that this implies your “non-physical world” would have to be completely separate from the physical universe? If “non-physical” processes gave rise to phenomena in the physical universe, those are physical phenomena, and therefore physical evidence, which can be observed and investigated using scientific principles.

            Working the other way, assume there is no physical evidence of a “non-physical world”. Therefore this “non-physical world” manifests no phenomena in the physical universe, anywhere. It cannot have any effects on physical constructs such as atoms, stars or humans as that would constitute physical phenomena and therefore physical evidence. So any theory involving it is not only completely unsupported, but makes no predictions – more explicitly, cannot make predictions – of any effects on the physical universe because none exist.

            “This is so bad, not only is it not right, it’s not even wrong!
            -Wolfgang Ernst Pauli

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=611844223 Balstrome

    Of course, these type of people would not use “You were mugged and robbed today, but just think about all those who weren’t!”. They would rather go with the rape option, which also allows, in their mind, the chance to blame the victim for being a slut and deserving the rape.

    Unfair, maybe, untrue I think not.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    “Natural disasters destroy the lives of many and that is a tragedy for all, but on the same day that disaster strikes for some, there are many others that live to see the end of the day.”

    How does Mr. Ridling’s god fit into this? Is Ol’ Yahweh a capricious asshole who only kills some people and lets others live?

    • Rory

      That seems to fit remarkably well with what we know of Him.

      • Aquaria

        The better turn of phrase would be “based on what morons make up about their imaginary friend.”

  • Drakk

    Unrelated, but JT, do you have limited quote-nesting enabled in the comments? I don’t see a reply button on my earlier one which is 5 nested replies.

    Not that I’m complaining. Reading ultra narrow columns of text is annoying as hell.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Sure do. Not sure why you don’t see the button. :(


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