The wisdom of Erick

Today begins with the wisdom of Erick.

I once heard someone state that all reasoning, at their most elemental, are based on faith.

In cosmology, for example, if you agree with Dr. Stephen Hawking that you don’t need God to create a universe, you must have faith that gravity can do the job.  Faith, because gravity creating a universe has not been observed and up to now is impossible to observe (in the scientific sense of observe).

Why then would belief in a God attested to by human experience and historical record (as Catholics believe Jesus to be) be less of a rational belief than others?

Don’t you see?  If all beliefs are based on faith then they’re all equally likely to be true!  Therefore if you believe that kittens exist, it also makes sense to believe that a Canaanite Jew rose from the dead!

And the existence of god is attested to by historical record?  Where?

As for human experience, that has only shown us that humans can believe some pretty wonky things in complete error.  Even a Catholic must believe this since, for their faith to be right, literally every other human to have ever believed in god (almost every person throughout history) must be wrong.  They must either be lying, deluded, or crazy.

Because it’s obvious that, at the very minimum, almost every theist throughout history couldn’t be right, is it so strange to think every theist is either lying, deluded, or crazy?  Not only because the starting probability of somebody having an erroneous belief in god is so high, but because they’ve had thousands of years to come up with a good reason to justify god’s existence and they still, every time, rely on shit reasons (like the false equivalence of beliefs bullshit Erick tried to pull).

  • Michaelyn

    We have faith in gravity? That’s not how that works. We see things happen, and use gravity to describe what is observed. Can we fully explain why gravity works the way it does? Not yet. But that doesn’t mean it makes sense to attribute this phenomenon to a personal god.

  • http://peopleofpublictransport.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    The difference between gravity and god: Jump off a high building and pray you’ll fly. See who wins.

    • Erick

      I know you’re trying to be funny. But since God did not create me to fly, why would I do that?

      You know what I do though. I pray to God that somehow I can pass a test that I didn’t study for. And he’s granted that to me quite a few times.

      • kagekiri

        Wow. And against your anecdotal evidence, I have passed tests and finals both with and without prayer and often without studying nearly as hard as peers.

        How MAGICAL that we can both underestimate how unprepared we are for tests, right? Obviously, it’s God’s blessing! All those other Christians who fail tests no matter how they pray or study? That’s evidence they’re not very good at praying, eh?

        Oooh, how about this anecdotal evidence. When I was Christian, everyone who I prayed for who had a high chance of dying or not recovering, well, they died or failed to recover.

        Family friend whose mom was abducted? Found long dead months later. Friend with sudden heart cancer? Dead in a month. Others with cancer? No miraculous recoveries, those who made it had to have chemotherapy. Grandparents who had terminal illnesses? Died of them. My own vision? Never cured. My injuries? Still took normal time to recover from if I prayed or didn’t. My crushing depression? Prayers unanswered until I stopped believing in God and actually went to therapy.

        I agree with Jesus’ words in this case: if he didn’t have power to heal my earthly ailments or even affect any physical changes, how the heck could I believe that he could magically forgive my supposed sins?

        More on fun anecdotes as evidence: do you really accept that Travolta, Smith, or Cruise are famous movie stars because of their magical Scientology powers, like they like to cite as proof of Xenu or whoever the hell they believe in? That seems like much more convincing anecdotal evidence than “I passed tests I didn’t think I was ready for”.

        • Erick

          You seem not to understand the idea of “being funny”.

          If you would like to hear the serious answer to jumping off a bridge,

          1) I’ll quote Jesus in the bible — Luke 4:12. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

          2) I don’t believe myself to be so special that God would single out my jumping off a bridge as proof of his existence.

          3) Suspending the course of gravity is not even how Catholicism defines God. After all, to us God created gravity, and he created it for a very good reason!

          • anteprepro

            1. Dealt with immediately below after someone else brought up that same escape route. Nice try, though.

            2. You believe your special enough that praying to God will actually have an effect on your test taking abilities but not special enough to believe that God would save your life? Well, at least your humble. But we’re getting “God is a douche” confirmation here.

            3. What the fuck do you think miracles are? You realize that this line of argument tosses large chunks of the Bible under the bus, right?

            “Reversing death is not even how Catholicism defines God. After all, to us God created death, and he created it for a very good reason!”

            Goes Jesus and Lazarus never rose from the dead. Because God never makes exceptions to natural laws. Nope. Never.

          • kagekiri

            That’s “being funny”? You’re doing it wrong. Sorry for taking your faith more seriously than you do.

            Fuck that bullshit “God doesn’t want you to test him”.

            Psalms 34:8 “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

            Wow, that sounds like testing!

            James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

            Hey, guess what the Bible says: Pray for healing! So this wasn’t even fucking testing, it was having faith in Scripture and following its commands. And yes, it wasn’t just me, so you can’t just say “well, you’re an atheist now, so obviously you had no faith then.”

            Several of those dead people had literally hundreds of people worldwide praying for them, including entire missionary societies and networks of pastors. So you can pretend they’re all faithless and not gifted with healing, but that’d just further prove you’re utterly blind to the truth.

            As for God not fucking with gravity, what do you call the story of stopping the sun in the sky when Joshua asked? That’s definitely fucking the hell out of the basic laws of inertia and the heliocentric model of the solar system. Why? So that the Israelites could finish the battle in a day instead of having to re-engage the next day. So yeah, maybe your faith is not important, but killing more people with Israelite sword in those few hours was?

            God can stop literally all we know about the fundamentals of physics to kill some people, yet can’t prove himself by levitating some prophet in the view of cameras and with skeptics watching and testing? Your God-who-hides-and-hates-cameras/testing/proving-himself is worse than a God who just doesn’t actually exist: he’s an utter asshole who doesn’t really love even at the most basic human level. “It’s only love if I don’t show up when I said I would!” and “well, someone’s gotta go to hell, why would I want more people to have evidence they need to be saved?”

      • http://peopleofpublictransport.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        Apologies, I didn’t come back to this thread in time to read your unexpected response in time to be polite.

        Yes, I was trying to be funny, but I appreciate your serious response.

        I pray to God that somehow I can pass a test that I didn’t study for. And he’s granted that to me quite a few times.

        I have achieved the same result without prayer, and without the interference of a deity. If I achieved it without a deity’s help, your statement proves nothing, except to say that you would perhaps rather credit another entity for your own intelligence, which is sad. If I received the result due to a deity’s unbidden intercession, prayer is irrelevant and your anecdote is meaningless.

        since God did not create me to fly, why would I do that?

        What did your God create you to do? Do you just go around trying things, and if they work, your God created you to do that? How does that square with, as you say later, Luke 4:12? Either your God told you what he created you for, or you have to “test” Him to find out what you were created for… Or maybe you weren’t “created” for anything.

    • Mark

      Your suggestion is covered in Luke 4:9-12 and Matthew 4:5-7, it is worth a quick read.

      • kagekiri

        I assume that’s the “don’t test God” stuff in the wilderness?

        What about “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened to you”? Does asking for evidence constitute testing God?

        What about Gideon asking for multiple signs to prove that the MAGICAL VOICE TALKING TO HIM IN VISIONS was actually God? God didn’t say “nah, what you’re saying is against physics and has no purpose, deal with it Gideon!” Nah, apparently, he answered every stupid request.

        Same with Moses when he was worried that people wouldn’t believe him: God gave him a way to show the doubters using a magical staff transformation. Same with Jesus, who gave physically palpable proof to Thomas. Same with the early church, where Paul said that the doubters were shown proof in miracles, and their doubt in the face of evidence was worthy of damnation.

        This sudden aversion to testing is pretty suspicious and an obvious change in behavior, if you ask me.

      • anteprepro

        Ah yes, the old “Sure, I am an invisible all-powerful God who will protect you via magic, but don’t you DARE try to verify that I will do so, because I might totally not do anything, just to spite you”. I love how the Bible is clearly showing how that God’s magical, benevolent protection and blessing cannot be verified because God might choose to be an asshole if you try to verify it, and somehow, for Christians, this is a GOOD thing. It makes your God a tremendous douche and it means that God is, explicitly, according to the Bible itself, unfalsifiable. Yet not a single eyelash will be batted over that. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

      • Drakk

        Matthew 17:20 – “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

        A testable, and falsified, prediction.

        • Erick

          This is falsified, because, you without faith (an atheist), tested it? Haha.

          Ok. Enough jokes.

          I’m sure that’s what engineers who had to build train tracks around the world through mountain ranges said. They said, “Yup. We can’t build this.” Yet, with a little faith, they were able to find the mathematical and scientific solutions to do so.

          I would think in this day and age, even an atheist knows humans can actually move mountains if we wanted to — just using science the people of biblical times didn’t even know about yet!

          • anteprepro

            Curious. Suddenly, according to you, when it suits your argument, atheists don’t have faith. Too busy joking and yukking yuk yukking around to bother arguing “in good faith”?

          • Erick

            Only because the contextually, the bible is talking about faith in God. A-theism, faith in God. See the contradiction.

            When I’ve been using the word faith, it’s been faith in general, with faith in God just being a subset.

            I thought it was funny. Sorry you didn’t see the humor.

          • Drakk

            And oh look it doesn’t take a jot of faith in god to do that, just a little bit of properly applied scientific methods.

          • Drakk

            Actually, it’s falsified whenever a True Believer gets on his knees and asks for something – and usually something that requires less expenditure of energy than moving a mountain, like winning the lottery, or healing their sick relative, or turning a gay person straight – and hey look, nothing happened.

          • Erick

            Mark,

            It’s a very uninformed opinion from Drakk isn’t it? To believe that the only way a human of faith could move mountains was via a handout from God?

            So they tell us faithful that when we’re told “say to this mountain”, it’s to be taken always literally, as if creative language is impossible for God to achieve.

          • anteprepro

            Hahaha. Yeah, you too are just sophisticated interpreters of a sophisticated passage in a sophisticated book and we are all so foolish for interpreting claims of being able to perform magic by faith alone from a book where nothing magical happens at all. Nothing at all. I guess it is convenient that neither of you accused someone of taking that quote out of context and instead bluster about it being metaphorical: The quote comes immediately after Jesus banishes a demon from a boy with seizures and chews out his disciples for not having enough faith to do the same. But yeah, it isn’t implying that faith gives you magic powers. It is all about having faith in human ingenuity and invention! Totally!

        • Mark

          Do atheists deny the existence of quarries as well?

          • Drakk

            No, but I do deny the existence of True Christian Quarries(tm) that manage to get their stone mined by asking mountains to please move.

            Proper quarries, in case you were not aware, work on the principles of manual labour augmented by technology. Incidentally, technology developed by people who realised the stone was never going to move if all they did was get on their knees and ask nicely.

          • Mark

            Mr. Drakk,

            If you are getting hung up on the word “say” (direct, command, or call), and reject that the concept of common grace is eluded to in this passage, note that in context, just prior the disciples failed at healing a sick person. (It is not clear if they attempted this through speech.) When they asked why, Jesus said it was because of the “littleness” of their faith; then the comparison is made using the mustard seed. Reading it literally as you are doing, the verse is expressing that the disciples’ faith was far “littler” than a mustard seed. Can you convincingly affirm that you, or anyone else who has sought to test this teaching of Christ has faith greater than that of the apostles? I wonder why you did not include the full verse. Finally, who was Jesus talking to? You, me or the disciples? If you want to construe this as a prediction that failed, you would have to provide some evidence that those Jesus was speaking to, i.e. the disciples privately (v.19), attempted to call the Mount of Transfiguration to move from here to there.

            The common grace perspective on this passage is not uncommon and is referenced in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Sons of Martha.” Erick may be thinking of this as well considering his reference to “engineers.”

          • anteprepro

            So…you are acknowledging that the passage comes immediately after Jesus banishes a friggin’ demon to stop a young boy’s seizures, and somehow think this is a good way to defend against the perspective that Jesus is saying “faith alone can move mountains”? Jesus using superior faith to succeed in exorcism/healing where disciples failed somehow defends against the accusation that Jesus is saying “Faith -> Magic!”? Yeah, not buying it.

            Oh yeah, wharglgarbl about “common grace”, quibble about “he was only talking to the disciples” or go about implying that if the disciples didn’t have enough faith, then we can’t expect anybody to. It would be much simpler to say that the verse is simple hyperbole and then maybe we could disagree about exactly HOW MUCH the passage is meant to be an exaggeration and get on with it. But the way you and Erick are going about this? Blatant posturing.

          • Mark

            anteprepro, have I written something inaccurate? I don’t think the verse uses hyperbole; simile perhaps. Regardless, Mr. Drakk is applying Matthew 17:20 literally, so I have pointed out the implications of that approach to his position.

          • anteprepro

            Ugh. Yes, it is hyperbole. Because obviously no one, in reality or in the Bible, used faith alone to move a mountain. Not even Jesus. Complain all you like about a “literal” interpretation, but a completely figurative interpretation completely ignores the fact that this statement is occurring in the context of Jesus explaining to his disciples why they couldn’t banish evil spirits. That context makes it clear that it is, in fact, suggesting that faith alone can do things. Even if those things aren’t necessarily “move a mountain”. The ACTUAL debate should be over exactly how much magic one can expect to gain from the power of faith. The debate you want to have is whether the passage is completely literal (faithful people can move mountains with their mind!) or completely figurative (faithful people might be able to find a way to reach their goals if they are lucky and persistent!). You are right to criticize the former but wrong to think it means the latter is a good interpretation. Some degree of magic is implied due to the context of the passage and denying that, even when acknowledging that context, does you no favors.

          • Mark

            As I said, I don’t really think the mountain and mustard seed comparison is hyperbole. While I know of no recording of this happening (other than inconclusive attempts by unbelievers described in prophesies of Hosea 10, Luke 23, and Revelation 6), moving a mountain with faith is not quite on the scale of stopping the sun (Joshua 10:13). Of course, it is followed by “nothing will be impossible for you.” I am not sure it is saying that faith alone can do things. Jesus describes two things involved in mountain moving. 1. faith the size of a mustard seed, and 2. To “say” (command, direct, call) to the mountain what the disciples want it to do. To argue literal, or not literal is not my intent. Rather, I am arguing for an internally consistent application of the passage. Drakk says it is “a testable, and falsified, prediction.” If this is so, he needs to provide documentation that 1. the disciples had faith the size of or greater than a mustard seed (which they did NOT at the time of the conversation) AND 2. at least one of the disciples Jesus was talking to failed in an attempt to call a mountain to move itself. Otherwise, if he wants to make it figurative, he needs to document that it was intended as figurative. If you want to read it as general and applying to anyone, not just the disciples involved in the conversation, you need to describe why. If you do take a leap to make it general, you need to describe why generality only applies to those performing the task, and not the action involved, i.e. “saying” vs. blasting/digging/trucking.

            The question being asked here is why Erick will not ” jump off a high building and pray, . . . etc.” The answer is (as previously stated) that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when confronted with the same question, warned not to put God to the test (Luke 4:9-12 and Matthew 4:5-7). The partial verse Drakk brought up seems to be an attempt to say, “Why not? You are supposed to be able to do anything.” Well, no, the disciples failed for “littleness” of faith (Matthew 17:20), so I wouldn’t expect them to be jumping off of buildings either. I cannot speak for Erick, but I would not presume my faith is any greater than that of the disciples who had witnessed Christ’s miraculous works.

            In regard to, “how much magic. . . ?” We are given a pretty clear faith-to-result ratio: mustard seed to mountain (if not taken in hyperbole). Can this be pro-rated linearly? I don’t know. I do know that in times I have exercised even miniscule faith, God has come through in ways I would not have thought possible and always for the purpose of His glory. I understand anecdotal evidence is not well regarded here, but it is part of what you are up against to reverse my opinion (and apparently Erick’s). Remember, it is God who allots faith (Romans 12:3) and Christ who perfects it (Hebrews 12:2).

  • Nick Johnson

    All he had to do was look up faith on dictionary.com: “belief that is not based on proof

    • Erick

      Notice Nick that the first definition of faith is “confidence in someone or some entity”. It is not always about having no proof.

      Thanks.

      • kagekiri

        Read Hebrews 11. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

        That sure sounds like believing things without tangible evidence is what Christians would define as faith.

        Or read the Gospels and the story of doubting Thomas. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

        Sure sounds like Jesus is saying belief without evidence is better than needing evidence.

        So yeah, the dictionary definition helps your argument, but your argument contradicts Biblical source material on faith and belief.

        • Erick

          Tell me, when you fly a plane do you see the wires inside the carry the signals from the computers that fly the plane? You don’t.

          You only have confidence that everything is working properly, and hope that everything will be fine even though you don’t see what’s happening to the plane internally.

          Faith.

          Thanks.

          • anteprepro

            You really are a one-trick pony, huh?

          • Drakk

            However, when the wires don’t work properly, things that you can see and feel, like your flight instruments or maybe rudder control, also stop working. And then you know your faith was misplaced.

            Religion is basically this, except you keep insisting the plane’s still flying while the rest of us are kicking the emergency exits open.

      • Leo

        Yes, but that’s the “false equivalence…bullshit” JT already called you out on. The thing is, when religious people use the word “faith,” they are more often than not using the definition Nick provided.

        But, even if I grant you that definition merely for the sake of argument, you still have a problem in regards to whether or not that confidence is justified. To play off your Stephen Hawking example, some high school drop out* could tell me that his invisible pet dragon created the universe. I could have “faith” in that person. But would I be justified? What about having that sort of faith in Hawking, who has spent many years studying that sort of thing?

        Getting away from the sake of argument, it is hard to have confidence in something that does not exist. Or I guess you could…but what kind of confidence would it be for me to have confidence in my imaginary friend (if I had one)?

        By the way, how do you go from “agree with Hawking that you don’t need God to create the universe” to “you must have faith that gravity can do the job”? Why can’t I, say, agree with Hawking on that first part about not needing a god, but not necessarily agree that gravity can do the job? (Which is where I actually stand on the issue, FYI.)

        * That’s not to say high school drop outs are necessarily stupid…but that they probably shouldn’t be my first source for cosmological wisdom. Conversely, Hawking wouldn’t be my first source for advice on how to improve my soccer (football) skills in the goalkeeper position. That high school drop out might be, though.

        • Erick

          > The thing is, when religious people use the word “faith,” they are more often than not using the definition Nick provided.

          That may be true, but I have no use for those people either. The original comment was about belief in a God attested as a historical figure. Per Corinthians 15, if Christ was not a historical figure who actually rose from death, then we are fools. We do not deny that at all as Catholics.

          > you still have a problem in regards to whether or not that confidence is justified. To play off your Stephen Hawking example, some high school drop out* could tell me that his invisible pet dragon created the universe. I could have “faith” in that person. But would I be justified? What about having that sort of faith in Hawking, who has spent many years studying that sort of thing?

          But I’m not asking you to believe in something invisible. According to my faith, God was visible if for only 30 some years. We just didn’t happen to live in the timeframe He was visible. So I rely on human eyewitness sources.

          Yes, there are a whole load of issues and gaps in the knowledge I base my faith on. But there is no such thing as knowledge that is without issue or gaps… even with Hawking, brilliant as he is. Imagine you lived in the time between Newton and Einstein. The guys who were justified in Newton’s theories on gravity ended up wrong. And that was testable, repeatable, predictive science.

          I’m just saying we are all dealing with the same kind of framework in reaching our belief systems. At best, you could say I’m less justified. But unjustified? Or less rational?

          • anteprepro

            Per Corinthians 15, if Christ was not a historical figure who actually rose from death, then we are fools.

            I think it is quite obvious, regardless of whether Jesus was a person or not, that you guys are fools anyway. And “fools” is putting it nicely.

            Yes, there are a whole load of issues and gaps in the knowledge I base my faith on. But there is no such thing as knowledge that is without issue or gaps… even with Hawking, brilliant as he is.

            Wow. I think I may have called it.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Erick: Please buy or borrow Dr. Hawking’s books.

    Sit down and actually read them.

    Thank you.

    • Erick

      You are right. I haven’t read his book. I’ve only watched the programs on TV where he explains what he said in the book. He wasn’t ready to say it out loud, but that is where he is leading. I wouldn’t mind reading though.

  • Taz

    Why then would belief in a God attested to by human experience and historical record (as Catholics believe Jesus to be) be less of a rational belief than others?

    Because in the case of the “others” there are people who can show you the math.

  • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

    It’s so ridiculous to me that people have to bend reasoning to such an extent in order to extol the wonders of their god when there are so many amazing things to wonder at right in front of you; like gravity. We know for a fact that if you jump of a building on this planet you will fall at 9.8 m/s² and make a splat. But why does that happen, how does gravity work? This is still quite a bit of a grey area and may involve things like gravitons, virtual particles or gravitational waves. People at NASA can do the math on how to use gravity to slingshot a spacecraft with the computing power of current day calculator around Jupiter to increase it’s speed accurately enough to get a flyby of Neptune without actually knowing what Gravity really is.

    I find that to be gobsmackingly amazing and a testament to the power of science. Perhaps this why we trust acclaimed scientists like Dr. Hawking.

  • fastlane

    Alternately, change ‘God’ in Erick’s last line to Allah/Zues/FSM/IPU, or any number of the thousands of gods humans have invented over the years. As usual, their ‘logic’ falls flat on its face.

    • Erick

      Sorry I can’t speak for other religions. I can only speak for my own beliefs.

      • anteprepro

        You are thick as a brick, aren’t you?

        Here’s a clue: If you can use your argument to successfully argue for the ridiculous, you don’t have a very good argument. If your argument works equally well for almost every other religion, you have to do one of the following.

        1. Show it is possible for every relevant religion to be true.
        2. Provide further argument showing that only your religion is the one proven by the argument.

        For all intents and purposes: An argument for everything at once is an argument for nothing, due to the sheer number of contradictions involved.

        • Erick

          Please read the comment that JT uses in his post. I am clearly using a specific set of religious belief, which does NOT include all religions.

          • anteprepro

            Are you really this much of a dumbass, or do you just play one on the internet?

            Your entire argument:
            1. It requires (*cough* a small amount of *cough*) faith to believe that gravity fully explains existence.
            2. It requires (*cough* a massive amount of *cough*) faith to believe in Catholicism.
            3. Ergo, 1 is not better than 2.

            The problem that is being pointed out to you, that you are too illiterate to fully grasp: You can replace “Catholicism” with VIRTUALLY ANYTHING and make the basically the same exact argument. This leads obviously ridiculous conclusions, but you are far too daft to understand that.

          • Erick

            No, there is no difference in the amount of faith in gravity versus faith in eyewitness. They require the same amount of faith. What’s different is why the faith is required.

            In a way, you can say that scientific knowledge is in more solid footing factually since science tests itself innumerable times. Eyewitness testimony on the other hand can be false as many have pointed out.

            However, in another way it is also on looser footing factually. Over time our scientific conceptions have changed, with paradigm shifts possible as time goes forward. Science is continually refining as someone put it, and so factually speaking science can be fairly ephemeral.

            With eyewitness testimony, it’s the same for people throughout time. The witness is either true for all time or false for all time. It’s more definitive.

            That is why I say science also requires faith. You are hoping that the knowledge humanity has defined scientifically right now will last as the “objective” truth for all time. And when it comes to knowledge of first causes, science has proven itself unable.

          • anteprepro

            No, there is no difference in the amount of faith in gravity versus faith in eyewitness.

            And yet…

            In a way, you can say that scientific knowledge is in more solid footing factually since science tests itself innumerable times. Eyewitness testimony on the other hand can be false as many have pointed out.

            Ding ding ding. Eyewitness testimony is NOT a smoking gun and is less reliable than science, ergo requires MORE faith.

            However, in another way it is also on looser footing factually. Over time our scientific conceptions have changed, with paradigm shifts possible as time goes forward. Science is continually refining as someone put it, and so factually speaking science can be fairly ephemeral.

            Bullshit. This has been explained to you already. Modern science, where the scientific method was actually used, has resulted in elaboration upon previous facts, not undermining of previous facts. The only example of a “paradigm shift” you’ve been able to muster is relativity and quantum mechanics, which added to Newtonian physics, tweaking it at certain scales. It DID NOT overturn them.

            Also: You do understand what “refining” means, right?

            With eyewitness testimony, it’s the same for people throughout time. The witness is either true for all time or false for all time. It’s more definitive.

            Yeah. And with science it’s either right for all time or is wrong and will be righted. How is that not clearly better? Oh, but we don’t know whether it is right at the time, right? That’s your angle? Well this might blow your feeble little mind: We don’t necessarily know whether eyewitness testimony is true or false at the moment of the testimony either, and, just like with science, testimony that we believe to be true might be later found to be false. Amazing, I know. The only difference is that scientific self-correction helps steer it towards the truth and weeds out falsehood. Eyewitness testimony, all on its lonesome, does not, as you admit in lauding it for being static.

            That is why I say science also requires faith.

            Yeah, well, you say a lot of things. Most of them are the same thing slightly reworded, but still.

          • Stevarious

            No, there is no difference in the amount of faith in gravity versus faith in eyewitness. They require the same amount of faith.

            Bah, what a stupid thing to say. Gravity works exactly the same, every single time we test it. It is perhaps the most reliable thing we know of.
            Eyewitness testimony is wrong constantly. In fact, more innocent people go to prison based on faulty eyewitness testimony than all other reasons put together.
            I would put a single DNA test showing (somehow) that Jesus had no earthly father over a thousand gospels – especially if those thousand gospels all disagreed on the details of the events, like the 4 gospels we have do. Eyewitness testimony is junk.

  • Erick

    Wow! I got my own post. Let me read… and then I’ll get back to you.

  • The Lorax

    Simple: at its core, science (like, say, gravity) is testable, repeatable, and follows a pattern without significant statistical deviation. Pick up a ball and drop it = more evidence for gravity. No one has “faith” in gravity, we assume it exists because nothing has ever gone against it. We even call it a “law” because it works 100% of the time. Oh sure, we can’t explain why, but at the same time, no one claims to or tries to. And by going beyond “something dropped” and looking at the math, we can refine the pattern; this allows us to look for gravity elsewhere. And sure enough, we find it… everywhere. And everywhere we find it, it all works exactly the same.

    To call science a faith-based enterprise is comparing boxes of chocolates to boxes of birthday presents. In one, you know what’s in there; every time you open the box, chocolates. Testable, repeatable, follows a pattern without statistically significant deviation. Yes, every now and then you’ll find a box missing a chocolate… some malfunction at the factory. But it does not happen often. In fact, it occurs so infrequently that you are 100% confident when you buy a box of chocolates that it will contain chocolates. No faith required. However, for birthday presents, you never know what you’re going to get. Maybe a squirt gun, maybe some new socks, maybe the box will contain chocolates. You don’t know, and you can’t predict. You can only have faith that someone has given you chocolates for your birthday; faith, because you don’t have enough data to be certain.

    From a philosophical standpoint, science is faith-based insofar as we don’t know if we’re in the Matrix. It’s entirely possible that our universe is a construct, and the “real universe” is unlike anything we could imagine. However, the scientific worldview discards this premise because, le gasp, there’s no evidence for it.

    Faith starts at the top and makes grand assumptions based on little to no data. Science starts at the bottom and makes no assumptions that it cannot test.

    • Erick

      Science is testable, repeatable and predictive and all that. But that doesn’t mean the science you are working with now is actually the correct science to explain stuff.

      Isaac Newton’s ideas on gravity was very good at explaining it and humans lived on that truth for hundreds of years without anything terribly wrong resulting. Yet, as we all know now, Newton was wrong! That’s why the gravity we cling to now is defined by Einstein. And he could be wrong, because his explanation of gravity has holes in it too.

      So what I was saying is how can you be so sure that your knowledge is not faulty on some elemental level. You can’t. Yes, a Catholic could be faulty. But you could be faulty too. And it takes faith (that the bases are not faulty) for us to leap from our axioms to the rest of our proofs.

      That’s all I was saying.

      • skepticalmath

        You’re getting the wrong lesson from this. The fact that science refines its theories based on new evidence is precisely why a belief in the scientific process and empirically verifiable theories is different from faith: science is capable of refining its views based on data. So when you believe in empiricism, when you believe in the scientific method, you are believing in an epistemic system that will change if evidence shows up to indicate it is wrong, or simply not accurate enough, in a system which will reflect the best information we have about the world.

        And Newton was *not* wrong. Newtonian physics is an excellent description of our universe, just in a limited range of energies. Einstein is much more accurate, and perhaps something else (string theory, whatever) will be *yet more accurate*, but I think you are drawing the wrong idea from the fact that Newtonian physics breaks down at certain energy levels.

        • Erick

          Science is capable of refining it’s views… but in the meantime, we as individuals and as people are stuck with the science we have now. And the info we have know is what we base our system of beliefs on.

          If I may speculate, let’s say in the distant future, science finds that God does exist. How does that help you, who are atheist, now exactly? It doesn’t. Or the opposite, how does that help me? It doesn’t.

          • Drakk

            Of course it helps me, moron. I’m not the one dogmatically refusing to change my conclusions despite evidence. If science does it fact “find god” (and if “god” survives all the criticism and falsification attempts that the likes of relativity or quantum mechanics did), I’m going to do a complete about face and say I was wrong all the while, because that’s what the evidence shows.

            I’m not going to take it on the word of some dusty old book and its fanfiction writers though. That’s just silly.

          • Drakk

            Turning that on its head however – if it was shown to an acceptable standard of scientific certainty that:

            -god does not exist, or
            -god does exist and is the FSM/IPU/Thor/Allah, or
            -god is powerless, or
            -god is evil

            or really anything that would show that god isn’t what you hypothesize. Would you care to know? And more importantly, would you change your beliefs to match?

  • Erick

    > Don’t you see? If all beliefs are based on faith then they’re all equally likely to be true!

    Nope, didn’t say such a thing. Only saying that using faith-based axioms does not make logic facially unsound or invalid.

    >Even a Catholic must believe this since, for their faith to be right, literally every other human to have ever believed in god (almost every person throughout history) must be wrong.

    Nope, Catholics do not believe every other human must be wrong with regards to their faith. Only that their approaches do not bring a guarantee with it. Perhaps you confuse me with a Protestant?

    We don’t even fault others for believing as they do since they’ve never experienced God as we believe we have (hence the whole evangelizing commission from Jesus). Believing others to be without a guarantee is not the same as saying they are wrong. Just because Hyundai offers a guarantee on their cars, it doesn’t mean that Ford sells crappy cars.

    We only say our way is better. And isn’t it funny that that’s all you are saying too. Or are you saying that you can with 100% certainty tell others they are wrong? Because to believe you are 100% certain… well, that takes a lot of faith.

    ==

    The reason I brought up Hawking and gravity is because that is what Hawking believes. He believes there is no need for a God to explain how a Big Bang came from nothing, because we have gravity! (or to be a little more correct, because we have the fundamental forces of physics).

    So basically Hawking asks us to choose between gravity and God as the explanation for our existence. Even though as of now, gravity is still largely unexplainable (like God).

    We believe it exists only because we have measured the behavior of matter in the universe, i.e. the Earth goes round the Sun, an apple falls from a tree, light bends around stars and planets, etc. (kinda like I believe because people have died – a behavior – for God)

    There is no actual manifestation of gravity itself that is known. There is no graviton that has ever been discovered; quite unlike the other forces whose particles have already been found.

    In fact, our current theory on gravity (Einstein’s) isn’t compatible with quantum mechanics, another big scientific theory under physics.

    ====

    I saw someone post in reply to my original post that there is a difference between having a “high degree of confidence” versus having faith. I say there is no difference at all. Having faith is defined in the dictionary as confidence in someone or something.

    When we fly planes, we are putting our trust in the men and women through history who have been involved in the building, maintenance, and flying of the plane. We have faith that someone did not mess up along the way. We know someone could, but we still believe 100% that our time is not the time it will happen. That’s faith.

    When Catholics believe Jesus really existed (and hence God really exists), it’s the same process.

    • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

      “When we fly planes, we are putting our trust in the men and women through history who have been involved in the building, maintenance, and flying of the plane. We have faith that someone did not mess up along the way. We know someone could, but we still believe 100% that our time is not the time it will happen. That’s faith.

      When Catholics believe Jesus really existed (and hence God really exists), it’s the same process.”

      Not even close to same thing. We have decades of planes almost always not crashing, let’s call this evidence. In fact the odds of the plane you choose to fly on crashing is somewhere around 0.00001%. As for Jesus, well … there is no reason to believe that he was the son of God or that he was divine or resurrected. Not same.

    • Leo

      As a software engineer who is “involved in the building, maintenance, and flying of the plane,” I must say I find your comment about Catholics quite insulting. As usingreason said, it is not even close to the same process. I, for example, held two peer reviews on my work today. That’s so that other engineers can approve of my work and make sure what I did won’t f*** things up (and sometimes, that can lead to quite intense discussions). Peer review is actually quite critical to the process. Are you seriously going to tell me that Catholics have any such thing?

      • Erick

        Let me see, according to the story, Jesus had twelve disciples. I guess they didn’t do any peer review with each other before they passed on their teachings.

        Catholics have ecumenical councils, where bishops from all over the world, discuss and then declare what can be held as faithful and unfaithful. I guess that’s not peer review either.

        Before the pope writes or says anything, he talks about stuff with fellow bishop advisers, gets synods and conferences to study stuff and make recommendations.

        Even if you think they were making this stuff up just to fool everyone, you can’t seriously say there’s no peer review?

        • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

          Yeah the disciples all sat around analyzing and correcting Jesus, that’s totally what happened. Grow the fuck up, if you knew anything about your religion you’d know that umpteen different versions of Christianity appeared almost instantly in the first century. Paul, the father of the Catholic church disagreed with things the disciples were teaching; we know this from his own writings. You have failed again.

          As far as Bishops deciding what you should believe for you; do I really have to tell you what is wrong with that?

      • Erick

        Let me ask you Leo, you do a lot of peer reviews as a software engineer.

        But tell me, are there or are there not software at release that are still bugged, have loopholes that can be taken advantage of, etc.?

        • Rob

          Let me get this straight.

          The Son of God, who is also God, who is omnipotent and omniscient, can’t get something right the first time?

          • anteprepro

            Yep. Biblically supported perspective, too. See: Noah’s Ark.

  • anteprepro

    Nope, Catholics do not believe every other human must be wrong with regards to their faith.

    Really. So Catholics, despite saying Jesus is God Incarnate, agrees with Muslims that Jesus wasn’t God Incarnate? So catholics, despite saying that transubstantiation occurs during Communion, agree with Protestants that communion is only symbolic? So Catholics, despite believing in salvation from Hell, agree with religions that believe there is no Hell and thus no salvation? So Catholics, despite believing in one God, are in strong agreement with faiths that have multiple gods? Or a distinctly different God?

    I knew that Christianity relied on arguing everything and its opposite, but this is going too far!

    (I suppose all those Catholics which labeled things “heresies” were just some senile extremists from way back when that Catholics disown nowadays. Mmm-hmm, yessiree.)

    We only say our way is better.

    You might have a point if one of your goals in life was “child rape”, “covering up child rape”, or “contributing money to institutions that cover up child rape”. If those weren’t your goals, considering that those were things that your clearly superior church managed to accomplish, I wonder what exactly your definition of “better” is.

    So basically Hawking asks us to choose between gravity and God as the explanation for our existence. Even though as of now, gravity is still largely unexplainable (like God).

    Here’s the thing though: Gravity and the forces of nature are observed reliably and objectively and are not speculated to do much more than we have observed them doing. This is blatantly not the case when it comes to God.

    (kinda like I believe because people have died – a behavior – for God)

    Holy shit, you are hilarious! Whatever the fuck Heaven’s Gate and the folks at Jonestown believed in have now been proven true! Clue: People die for a lot of things. The only thing people dying “for God” proves is that people really really take their belief in God seriously. But, seriously, cut the shit. If a bunch of Communist atheists stood up to terrorists and were blown to smithereens, you can bet you’d suddenly get real quiet about sincere belief, up to the point of martyrdom, proving accurate belief.

    When we fly planes, we are putting our trust in the men and women through history who have been involved in the building, maintenance, and flying of the plane. We have faith that someone did not mess up along the way. We know someone could, but we still believe 100% that our time is not the time it will happen. That’s faith.

    When Catholics believe Jesus really existed (and hence God really exists), it’s the same process.

    Statistics regarding plane crashes : Odds of being involved in a plane crash, 1992-2011.
    Bottom 25 safest airlines: 1 in 1.3 million.
    Top 30 safest airlines: 1 in 11.4 million.

    Sources proving Jesus totally existed, dude :
    -Pliny mentions “Christ” only in talking about Christians, 112 AD.
    -Tacitus in 116 AD.
    -Suetonius, at time unknown, says simply “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [ Claudius ] expelled them [the Jews] from Rome”.”
    -One guy paraphrased by a guy writing in 220 supposedly mentioned Jesus.
    -A satirist named Lucian, born in 112 AD, who mentions Jesus (and also says that Christians are gullible and believe things without evidence)
    -Some supposedly official documents mentioned by Justin Martyr in 150 AD and Tertullian and otherwise unseen by us.
    -Josephus, in 93 AD, which was tampered with.
    -Mara bar Sarapion, between 73 AD and 200 AD, with a vague passage about a “Wise King”.
    -The Talmud, where Jesus was born of an adultery, and was a teacher of the torah who became a sorcerer with 5 disciples, and was hanged (200 to 500 AD)
    -And, of course, the New Testament books (68 to 110 AD for the Gospels).

    Yeah. Believing that you are safe based on the record of millions of flights is TOTALLY equivalent to believing that Jesus was real and was magic based on religious texts and a handful of sentences written at least half a century after Jesus supposedly died. You keep on telling yourself that, Erick. It might even start helping you sleep at night if you repeat it enough!

  • FedUp(OrJustFed)

    In reply to Erick’s puerile maunderings, please read Isaac Asimov’s “The Relativity of Wrong”, and then, using it as a framework, decide whether to attempt continuation of your corkscrew logic. Here’s a link: http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm

  • FedUp(OrJustFed)

    Oh, yeah, Erick, I forgot…the difference between science and faith is that science has a method that makes testable, falsifiable predictions. When the prediction is falsified, science examines the results of the test and adjusts to observable reality.

    Religion only changes when it fears alienating the rubes by being too horrible by contemporary social standards (divine right of kings, slavery, racism, sexism, democracy, etc.)

  • anteprepro

    Mark sez:

    moving a mountain with faith is not quite on the scale of stopping the sun (Joshua 10:13).

    So then: Yes, magic.

    Of course, it is followed by “nothing will be impossible for you.”

    So then: Yes, magic.

    I am not sure it is saying that faith alone can do things. <Jesus describes two things involved in mountain moving. 1. faith the size of a mustard seed, and 2. To “say” (command, direct, call) to the mountain what the disciples want it to do.

    Wow. It isn’t “faith alone” because it also involves Magic Words! Go into stand-up comedy, please.

    Rather, I am arguing for an internally consistent application of the passage. Drakk says it is “a testable, and falsified, prediction. If this is so, he needs to provide documentation that 1. the disciples had faith the size of or greater than a mustard seed (which they did NOT at the time of the conversation) AND 2. at least one of the disciples Jesus was talking to failed in an attempt to call a mountain to move itself.”

    If we are going to assume that every passage stating what seems to be generally applicable principles are only relevant to Jesus’s disciples, then I suppose we can just throw the majority of Jesus’s teachings right out the fucking window.

    But, yeah, “internal consistency”! You only care about that on a verse by verse basis, huh? It’s pretty obvious. Especially considering how well you’ve defended your “you can’t test God!” nonsense that contradicts other Biblical nonsense.

    Otherwise, if he wants to make it figurative, he needs to document that it was intended as figurative.

    One: That doesn’t even make sense. How do you “document” that?
    Two: If only Christians even put half that much effort in to proving something is “figurative” when it happens to be convenient for them. For reference, see your claim that the passage is about “common grace”, citing such prestigious bits of evidence as a random poem and (???).

    If you want to read it as general and applying to anyone, not just the disciples involved in the conversation, you need to describe why.

    See above. If the default assumption is that Jesus is only talking about the disciples until proven otherwise, then we have pared down the number of Jesus’s “teachings” to a ridiculously small number.

    The question being asked here is why Erick will not ” jump off a high building and pray, . . . etc.” The answer is (as previously stated) that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when confronted with the same question, warned not to put God to the test (Luke 4:9-12 and Matthew 4:5-7).

    Okay, stop right there. You have been called out on those passages and have offered NOTHING in defense of your usage of them. And yet, despite your suspicious silence on that issue, and your continuing to quibble, at length, about this one, you still offer up those passages in the exact same manner, without even hinting at the fact that legitimate points have been brought up against your usage of them?

    Fuck. Right. Off.

    We are given a pretty clear faith-to-result ratio: mustard seed to mountain (if not taken in hyperbole).

    I sincerely doubt that the results were anywhere large enough if we accept this ratio. Using Mount Rushmore as a baseline for comparison, the ratio of size between mustard seed and mountain is roughly 1: 10^15. This means that if someone had faith the size of a helium atom (!), they would be able to be able to command/magic-move something with a volume of 18 cubic meters (635 cubic feet, something 8.5 meters on all sides). So, even those with the most pathetic amount of faith should be able to telekinetically move around other people, if the ratio scales. And if that ratio doesn’t scale: THERE IS NO FUCKING POINT IN MENTIONING IT.

    I do know that in times I have exercised even miniscule faith, God has come through in ways I would not have thought possible and always for the purpose of His glory.

    So, then: Yes, magic. “Magic” that is indistinguishable from chance and/or indistinguishable from you bullshitting us. What wonders the Lord, your god, graces us all with!


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