Debunking 10 Popular Christian Principles for Reading the Bible (3 of 3)

Debunking 10 Popular Christian Principles for Reading the Bible (3 of 3) March 10, 2015

Let’s wrap up our critique of Jim Wallace’s article, “Ten Principles When Considering Alleged Bible Contradictions.” (Part 1 here.)

Principle #8: Description is Different Than Approval. “Remember, just because a Biblical author writes about something, this does not mean God condones it or supports it.”

Wallace wrestles with the problem of polygamy in the Bible. Many patriarchs are shown with multiple wives, and wise king Solomon in particular had a large harem. Does this make clear that God is fine with polygamy? Nope. Wallace assures us that “from the very beginning, anyone who had more than one wife was in sin and was living in opposition to God’s will.”

His evidence is the vague clue that overseers should have one wife and the demand that kings should have few wives—hardly evidence that God hates polygamy. Wallace must ignore polygamy practiced by most of the patriarchs without a peep of protest against polygamy by God. God also told David that he had blessed him with many wives and would’ve been happy to give him more (2 Samuel 12:8).

Why do you imagine God dislikes polygamy? Just because you do? This is an unusually blatant example of our Christian apologist playing God like a sock puppet by reading into the Bible his own views on a social issue.

Principle #9: Don’t Fret Copyist Variants. True, there are variants in the thousands of Bible manuscripts, but none challenge anything important. And it’s not like these variants are an embarrassing secret—they’re acknowledged in the footnotes of just about every Bible.

The example this time is of conflicting accounts of a battle. In one account (2 Samuel 8:3–4), David captured 700 horsemen, while in the other (1 Chronicles 18:3–4) he captured 7000.

Wallace notes that this isn’t especially important, and I agree. Note, though, that Wallace is again discarding biblical inerrancy. The Bible isn’t magically protected against error, so even he must accept the Bible being occasionally wrong.

But by tossing out this trivial example, Wallace may hope to camouflage an important issue. Here’s where it gets interesting. We agree that copies of Bible books can contain errors, and we agree that very, very few of the original copies from the first couple of centuries have survived. Scholars have thousands of cases of two or more variants of a single passage where we have manuscripts documenting those variants. The famous long ending of Mark is an example. Wallace will point to modern Bibles that show the most reliable version and footnote the alternative version. So where’s the problem?

Precisely here: imagine a fork in the historical road, with two different manuscript traditions of a single verse, for which we have copies from only one tradition. Do we have the accurate version now? We wouldn’t even know to ask the question! We can’t distinguish verses that have been inserted or changed from those that have been copied flawlessly (more here).

Who knows what we’d discover if we could access every single manuscript copy.

Principle #10: Remember Who’s Boss. “Sometimes the God of the Old Testament can seem pretty harsh.… But we need to read the Scriptures carefully and remember God alone is God.… He gets to make decisions over life and death, even when we don’t understand all the details.”

The example he gives is a tough one, God’s demand of genocide for the Amalekites (I discuss this here). Wallace’s response is a bit like what God says to Job: “You talking to me, bitch? Uh yeah, get back to me after you’ve created a universe.”

Wallace’s argument is a popular response to this Problem of Evil. First, we assume objective morality. Second, work God in: “Objective, transcendent standards require an objective, transcendent standard giver.” Finally, declare that the Problem of Evil assumes objective morality; otherwise, “there can be no apparent injustice.”

See how that works? Atheists bring up the Problem of Evil, but this assumes objective morality, which in turn demands God as the objective morality source, and the atheists have shot themselves in the foot!

Let’s consider the problems with each step. First, he gives no support for his claim to objective morality, and I’ve never seen any. What we see around us are shared (and sometimes deeply held) moral beliefs, not objective moral truths.

Second, evolution nicely explains human morality. Evolution selects for altruistic traits in social animals like humans and other primates. We’re all the same species, which is why your moral sense is pretty much the same as everyone else’s.

Finally, morality works just fine without being objective (grounded outside of humanity). Look it up: morality and the ideas behind it such as good and bad are defined in the dictionary with no reliance on objective grounding.

Things get a bit embarrassing as Wallace justifies God’s murderous rampages: “If you create a piece of art, you have the right to destroy it, even though I do not. After all, it is your creation and, therefore, it is your property.” That’s fine, but we’re not talking about art, we’re talking about things that feel. Humans are seen as immoral when they kill a living creature just for the hell of it. In the same way, God doesn’t get a pass when he kills people with no reason besides “because he can.”

Wallace’s goal here was to give fair rules for evaluating the Bible, but his bias is apparent as he concludes:

Am I going to stand as [the Bible’s] critic, or am I going to allow the Bible stand as a critic over me? Either I am going to decide what’s true or false in the Bible, or the Bible is going to decide what is true or false in me.

No one would yield to the sovereignty of something before thoroughly evaluating that source, which is exactly what this article was supposed to help us do. But apparently an honest evaluation of the Bible doesn’t give him the advantage that he needs, so Wallace wants to first assume God and then the Bible’s supernatural claims. This is the Hypothetical God fallacy. It’s also circular logic.

No, we don’t assume God first. Honest adults start with the null hypothesis, which is that Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion. They follow the evidence where it leads, regardless of whether they like it or not.

The lack of understanding of something is not evidence of God.
It’s evidence of a lack of understanding.
— Lawrence Krauss

Image credit: Funk Dooby, flickr, CC

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  • trinielf

    While I still believe the bible contains some golden nuggets of universal and timeless wisdom, after reading some other ancient and MORE ancient writings, I am realizing those golden nuggets aren’t exclusive to the Hebrew world view. Other cultures also have them and MORE.

    Bottom line, there is just far too much iron aged, pre-scientific Northern Palestinian nonsense in the bible for me to think a super intelligent, Higher Being wrote it down word for word. The suspension of disbelief required is more than I can muster. The bible reflects the exact worldview, culture and level of knowledge of HUMANS at that time. Some were clearly more enlightened than others of course.

    • I don’t see any remarkable, I-haven’t-seen-that-before wisdom in the Bible.

      • trinielf

        I agree. The most telling example being the “Golden Rule”. So many cultures conceived of it before, during and after. Cultures far removed from the influence of Northern Palestinian culture. There is a version of the Golden Rule in Maori, Shinto, Yoruban, Cherokee cultures.

        • MisterTwo

          The most frustrating thing, when you point this out, is that Christians will insist that this is because the people of these other cultures at one time knew the true god, because Adam.

        • trinielf

          Ah yes of course. THAT.

        • Rudy R

          Adam sure got around!

        • Charlie Johnson

          It was commonly believed by Christians (and I believe also some Jews) until modern times that the reason Socrates was so smart was … he learned wisdom from the prophet Jeremiah. All your philosophy are belong to Moses.

        • Dang! Foiled again by Zero Wing.

      • MNb

        I do, but on a more abstract level. Jesus (or rather the authors of the Gospels) gave the nobodies of their time a voice. That was rare.

        • To your point, I’ve heard early Christianity also lauded for being pro-women (that didn’t last).

          I was referring to specific wise sayings.

        • MNb

          Yeah, I understand.

  • MisterTwo

    “Wallace will point to modern Bibles that show the most reliable version and footnote the alternative version. So where’s the problem?”

    The presupposition is that because their god could have made sure the exact words he had in mind would reach us, this god would indeed have done that. When they admit differences in the various manuscripts that have survived, this assertion goes out the window. This is especially true in places like Deuteronomy where it’s clear that the Masoretic text removed some of the polytheism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls showed the Septuagint to have been accurate in the first place. This cannot be said to be trivial!

  • Kodie

    If you create a piece of art, you have the right to destroy it, even though I do not. After all, it is your creation and, therefore, it is your property.

    I don’t know why people think so. I may have the right to destroy something that belongs to me and me alone, but I do not have the right just because I created something once I have given it away. Think of all the bridges and buildings that cannot be destroyed just because someone created them. Whoever thinks this makes sense hasn’t followed it to the logical end. The artist cannot come in to a museum exhibit and destroy the art they made – it’s not theirs anymore.

    Creation =/= ownership.

    • Great point. I hadn’t thought of that. The Christian response, I imagine, would be that you still belong to God, so he can do whatever.

      • Jack Baynes

        And you should LOVE him for it.

  • Without Malice

    It’s really hard to believe that these theologians think they’re being logical when they write this nonsense. But then again, you could put all the greatest Christian theologians into one room and it would amount to the greatest collective intellect since the Three Stooges.

    • I’m sure they’re smart people. It is sad to see them waste their energies supporting this ridiculous presupposition.

  • MNb

    #8 Begs the question: what’s Wallace’s method? How does he decide which descriptions don’t have divine approval?

    #10 “even when we don’t understand all the details” admits that morals could be subjective indeed. The example of the Amalekite genocide confirms this. “Genocide is objectively wrong, but God ordered it so in this special case we don’t understand why it is objectively right” is utterly unconvincing.

    “Either I am going to decide what’s true or false in the Bible, or the Bible is going to decide what is true or false in me.”
    I slightly disagree with you, but only very slightly. This is very honest. Wallace chooses the second option, which leads him to “we don’t understand the details” – detail is quite a downplay btw. when discussing the morals of a genocide. He just throws his hand in the air and exclaims “it’s a mystery!”. That’s an attitude we have seen in our catholic Greg as well.
    Well, Wallace already admitted that the Bible may have been divinely inspired, but also is a product of humans (“descriptions by authors”). The words true or false may not apply, but he has to decide indeed what’s divinely inspired and what’s human in his favourite Holy Book. The difference is only marginal. So he nicely has shot himself in the foot.

    • #8: good point. How do you avoid using your own preference for deciding what God likes and doesn’t? God as a sock puppet, again.

      • Dys

        This ties into the point I’ve made to wannabe apologists who insist that God is good. Somewhere along the line, they’ve made a personal judgement call on the matter. There’s simply no way around it. And that fact deflates the primary objection for an atheist stating that God is a dick.

  • Jack Baynes

    Sure if God exists, he can do whatever he wants with his playthings. Send them to hell, destroy their lives, kill their wives and families then give them back different ones to make up.

    But as “playthings” with an abusive creator, we have no obligation to love this God.

    • Skeptiker

      kill their wives and families then give them back different ones to make up.

      I was really, truly shocked when I first read about the Christian god giving “new” children back to Job after permitting Satan to kill Job’s family and kids. Christians seem to think that this is fine. This is horrendous treating children like replaceable toys. It is evil. Where is the moral that they talk so much about?

  • Adam Weber

    “Atheists bring up the Problem of Evil, but this assumes objective morality, which in turn demands God as the objective morality source, and the atheists have shot themselves in the foot!”

    These apologists’ arguments really are getting worse and worse. I don’t see how bringing up the Problem of Evil would shoot any atheist in the foot. We’re only pointing out that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God contradicts the existence of what Christians call “evil.” We are not accepting objective morality by pointing out a contradiction in a system that does.

    • What’s truly crazy is when well-known professional Christians (Koukl, for one) say that the Problem of Evil (which points up the contradiction between our messed-up world and a perfect God) is just as much a problem for the atheist.

      Do they not even know what we’re talking about?

      • Wick Samuel

        The atheist still has to answer the question, “How do I explain evil now, as an atheist? How do I answer the problem of evil from a materialistic worldview?” He no longer has the resources of theism to draw from. So what is he left with?

        There is only one solution for him. The atheist must play the relativism card. Morality is either the product of a social contract or a trick of evolution. That is the best materialism can do. His own answer to the problem of evil, then, is that there is no problem of evil. Morality is an illusion. Whatever is, is right. Nothing more can be said.

        Do you see the difficult place this puts the atheist? If this is the right answer to the problem of evil, then his initial complaint vanishes. The only evil that can get traction as a problem against God must be the real deal—objective evil—not something that is merely a cultural or biological invention.

        Here’s the irony. The existence of evil initially made the atheist furious, yet his own worldview turns the objective evil he was so livid about into a complete illusion.

        Pretty solid stuff from Mr. Koukl.

        • The atheist still has to answer the question, “How do I explain evil now, as an atheist? How do I answer the problem of evil from a materialistic worldview?”

          Is this a trick question? There is no God; ergo, there is no Problem of Evil. Done.

          The Christian is the one flailing. The atheist cuts the Gordian Knot easily.

          The atheist must play the relativism card.

          He’s saying that there is objective morality? I await the evidence of this remarkable claim with breathless anticipation. Don’t disappoint me.

          Do you see the difficult place this puts the atheist?

          I see the atheist standing over the apologist’s broken body. I think that’s a good place, isn’t it?

          Pretty solid stuff from Mr. Koukl.

          A big solid turd, I guess.

        • Pofarmer

          You actually believe that nonsense?

        • Kodie

          There is evil because a naked woman listened to a snake’s advice and ate a piece of fruit she wasn’t supposed to eat, and god’s solution was not to wipe them off the earth and make new people before it was too late, but send them away and procreate an earth full of sinners.

          Sounds to me like theists have nothing to worry about.

        • Adam Weber

          Mr. Koukl shouldn’t start writing until he fully understands the terms he is using. The “Problem of Evil” is a paradox involving God. If he wants atheists to account for “evil” (or whatever it is he wants, I really can’t tell), he should make his demands using the right terms.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          “Morality is the product of a social contract or a trick of evolution, hence there is no problem of evil”
          is a non-sequitur if there ever was one. Thanks for highlighting it yourself.

        • “How do I answer the problem of evil from a materialistic worldview” involves a misunderstanding of what the problem of evil is.

          The Problem of Evil is simply the contradiction between the supposed existence of a god who has both the power and inclination to stop certain things happening (those things being labelled “evil”), and the fact that those things nevertheless happen.

          For example: It is claimed that God loves humans. Love implies a desire to prevent unnecessary suffering. Since God is omnipotent, he has the ability to prevent unnecessary suffering. A person with both the desire and power to do something will do it, so we can conclude that God will prevent unnecessary suffering. Yet, it can be observed that unnecessary suffering exists.

          It doesn’t really matter if you refer to that unnecessary suffering as “evil” or not, the basic problem still remains even if we rename it.

          The problem doesn’t exist for an atheist because in the absence of God, there is no reason to expect that unnecessary suffering will always be avoided. Atheists may label some things as “evil”, but since there is nobody with both the power and desire to stop all evil, it is to be expected that some evil will remain (however we choose to define “evil”).

          So the Problem of Evil is that there is a contradiction between observation and theistic assumptions, and that contradiction does not exist if you remove the theistic assumptions.

      • Adam Weber

        Ah, of course, since atheism is clearly a theistic Christian worldview, obviously we have to explain the Problem of Evil! I mean, it’s not like there’s anything about the word “atheism” that proves otherwise, right?

    • MNb

      “These apologists’ arguments really are getting worse and worse.”
      That seems to be a common experience. Indeed I noticed exactly this when I started to read them.

      • Adam Weber

        The problem is that 99% percent of the arguments are one thousand or more years old. And the subject hasn’t changed. Still no tangible proof for God, and besides ethics, still no major shifts* in the theology. New apologists either have to retreat to worse and worse wording to avoid plagiarism, it seems, or else create arguments of such blinding stupidity that of course no one has thought of them before–they would be fools for having done so. I may not think too highly of Saint Thomas Aquinas, but I can’t imagine him formulating the banana and peanut-butter argument…

        *That would affect apologetics, anyway. Catholics don’t seem too different from Evangelicals here, except in their bizarre insistence that Aristotle was right about everything.

  • Wick Samuel

    No, we don’t assume God first. Honest adults start with the null hypothesis, which is that Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion. They follow the evidence where it leads, regardless of whether they like it or not.

    A. That’s not what the null hypothesis is.. please read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

    NH has to do with statistical correlation.

    B. If you “start with the belief that God doesn’t exist” but then follow the evidence where it leads, you’re heading towards a belief in God! I suspect you rue that phrasing.

    C. You should have REALLY said “honest people don’t start with a bias in either direction, they investigate the evidence and follow it where it leads”

    • I’m not referring to the null hypothesis in a statistical domain. I’m talking about the default hypothesis. The burden of proof is carried by the person who wants to move away from this starting point.

      B. Give me something to rue. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

      C. Yes, we should follow the evidence.

      The idea of the burden of proof and the null hypothesis is to avoid ties. Think about a unicorn claim, for example.

      • Wick Samuel

        The null hypothesis (H0) is a hypothesis which the researcher tries to disprove, reject or nullify.

        The ‘null’ often refers to the common view of something, while the alternative hypothesis is what the researcher really thinks is the cause of a phenomenon.

        the null hypothesis refers to a general statement or default position that there is no relationship between two measured phenomena.[1] Rejecting or disproving the null hypothesis—and thus concluding that there are grounds for believing that there is a relationship between two phenomena (e.g. that a potential treatment has a measurable effect)—is a central task in the modern practice of science, and gives a precise sense in which a claim is capable of being proven false.

        Avoiding ties? what does that mean?

        • A dictionary argument–what fun.

          Call it what you want. You don’t like “null hypothesis”? Then default hypothesis. Starting point. Initial assumption.

          There are no ties in a court case–there’s only win or lose. That’s what the burden of proof allows courts to avoid.

        • Wick Samuel

          Simply incorrect:
          A. Burden of proof is there to protect a persons rights,
          B. There are ties in court cases: hung juries
          C. Ties are typically avoided by having an odd number of people deliberating

          I’m curious, why all this “Atheism wins”, and “no ties” discussion?

        • Think about it.

          There is no “we don’t know” or “undecided” or other middle ground.

          A. The person gets the benefit, so the middle ground goes to the accused. That’s why the burden is on the prosecution.

          B. Wrong. Hung jury means either do it again or the prosecution loses

        • Wick Samuel

          incorrect.
          Our entire criminal justice system is based on selecting jurors that do not bring any bias in, either for or against.
          That is PRECISELY why both defense AND prosecution can request dismissal of biased jurors during the selection process.

          you are seeking to change that when it comes to God, you want to assume God does not exist, and start from there.

        • Kodie

          How much longer will you bring your obtuse lies to the table? If your faith had a leg to stand on, why do you need to lie so much? You lie about Bob’s position, you’ve been corrected, and continue to lie.

        • Jack Baynes

          Our criminal justice system operates under the presumption of innocence. It is the prosecution’s job to prove the defendant’s guilt. If they cannot do that, the defendant should be ruled not-guilty, even if the defense didn’t provide a single piece of evidence proving their innocence.

        • Wick Samuel

          The issue in this context is the bias that a person should or should not bring to the table when investigating a claim.
          That issue is the same issue that confronts prosecutors and defense lawyers when selecting jurors for a trial.

          I am saying that the honest, rational starting point is no bias, either towards or against. Bob is urging as a starting point that belief that God does not exist.

        • Kodie

          You’re mistaken, Bob didn’t say or “urge” anything like that. You’re willfully dishonest, since you’ve been corrected more than once. Since we can see your shameless dishonesty a priori, we’re going to be extremely skeptical of the arguments you’re going to offer.

        • Philmonomer

          The analogy is flawed. This isn’t about starting without a”bias.” It is about starting with certain assumptions. The starting assumption of the jury is that the person is innocent. The prosecution’s job is to show (by a preponderance of the evidence) that the person is guilty. The prosecution is the one making a positive claim about the way the world is, so they have to show it.

          Here, the starting assumption is that there is no God. The theists job is to show, through a preponderance of the evidence, that God exists. The theists are the ones making a positive claim about the way the world is, so they have to show it. That strikes me as the right analogy.

        • Wick Samuel

          no, the starting point for the juror is neutral, that’s why prosecutors can dismiss jurors as well as defense lawyers.

          dont confuse that with the burden of proof.

          Your claim seems to be “well, I the atheist havent found the evidence compelling, therefor I believe everyone should start with a bias that God isnt real”. Which doesnt make sense at all.

          An honest investigation always starts free from bias.

        • Philmonomer

          no, the starting point for the juror is neutral, that’s why prosecutors can dismiss jurors as well as defense lawyers.

          Huh? The starting point for the juror is that the defendant is innocent. That isn’t “neutral.” I think what you are meaning is that the juror shouldn’t come to the trial with any preconceived ideas about what the evidence is, or how it should affect the outcome of the trial. But that isn’t what we are talking about here. We are talking about what the initial assumptions of the juror about the guilt or innocence of the person should be.

          dont confuse that with the burden of proof.

          I’m not.

          Your claim seems to be “well, I the atheist havent found the evidence compelling, therefor I believe everyone should start with a bias that God isnt real”.

          This is confused on several levels. My claim has nothing to do with whether I, as an individual, have found the evidence compelling or not. My claims is about who has to put forward the evidence, and what the initial assumptions should be. Again, it isn’t about “bias.”

          Indeed, I don’t think everyone should start with the “bias” (why do you keep using that word? we are talking about starting assumptions) that God isn’t real, I think everyone should start with the assumption that all the various Gods aren’t real. And then examine the evidence (without bias) to see which one IS real!

          An honest investigation always starts free from bias.

          You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. 🙂

        • Wick Samuel

          – juror should not come in with the belief that the defendant is innocent, or guilty. Don’t confuse that with burden of proof, nor the right of the defendant to be considered innocent.

          ==========

          My claims is about who has to put forward the evidence, and what the initial assumptions should be (Here, the starting assumption is that there is no God. )

          🙂
          your view that the starting point is there is no God, is based on your opinion that there is none.

          you’re trying the old “God doesn’t exist until you prove he does” hack..

        • Kodie

          You’re trying the “theist has to lie to argue that god exists” hack. Doesn’t work.

        • Philmonomer

          – juror should not come in with the belief that the defendant is innocent, or guilty. Don’t confuse that with burden of proof, nor the right of the defendant to be considered innocent.

          Yes, the juror should not come in with any preconceived belief that the defendant is innocent or guilty based on things the juror has heard about the case, personal knowledge of the case, personal biases, etc. That is they, should have no personal beliefs about the case already. [And by the same token, the person investigating a God claim should (ideally) be free of such biases.] But there is a default assumption at work here–an assumption that should guide the juror–namely, that “the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.” THAT is what we are arguing about, what should the default assumption be?

          Why do we have this default assumption? In no small part because that is how we investigate truth claims about the world. The one putting forward the claim has to demonstrate that the claim is true.

          your view that the starting point is there is no God, is based on your opinion that there is none.

          I am arguing about how we investigate truth claims. The one who is putting forward a positive truth claim about the way the world is has to defend it. Note, even if they do not successfully defend the claim, that doesn’t mean the claim is false. For example, just because a prosecutor doesn’t get a conviction, that doesn’t mean the defendant is actually innocent.

          you’re trying the old “God doesn’t exist until you prove he does” hack.

          No. I am saying the default assumption is that we should not believe in God, if it hasn’t been demonstrated. God can still exist, despite not being demonstrated/well established. (Maybe he is purposefully hiding himself?)

        • adam

          “is based on your opinion that there is none.”

          Not an opinion but where the evidence, or lack of evidence of supernatural leads.

          So where is YOUR ‘god’ hiding?
          Why dont you demonstrate for all of that YOUR ‘god’ is not IMAGINARY?

          (I am betting that you WOULD, if you only COULD)

        • You do appreciate that you have the burden of proof, right?

        • Wick Samuel

          as explained to you before, the person making the claim has the burden.
          If you claim that God does not exist, you must support that claim.

        • I think you’re making the claim that God exist and I’m listening with an open mind. Isn’t that it?

        • There’s a (slightly subtle) difference between saying “God does not exist” and “there is not yet sufficient reason to believe in a particular god”. I interpret Bob as supporting the latter statement. It would be wrong to start a priori with the positive claim that “God certainly does not exist”, but I think it’s reasonable to start a priori with “there are multiple incompatible claims of the existence of gods, so I will treat them as equally inaccurate until one of them becomes better supported than the others”.

        • Kodie

          If anyone actually made that claim, but no one did.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, either Wick isn’t getting that on purpose or he’s REALLY stupid. Or both. It’s hard to pick.

        • MNb

          Then you’re neither honest nor rational, because regarding invisible elephants and tooth-fairies you keep on repeating your bias.

        • Wick Samuel

          false analogy, you assume that God and invisible elephants and tooth-fairies have the same evidence.

          If you remove your assumption of naturalism, that argument collapses. There is plenty of evidence in favor of God, accepted by billions of people worldwide, the fact that you personally rejected it doesn’t mean that a warrant for disbelief as a starting point has been established.

        • Kodie

          The fact that billions of people worldwide believe something is not evidence of that belief’s veracity.

          Remember, we’re a priori, we haven’t evaluated the evidence yet. If you think “plenty” is as good as “valid” then let’s see what it is and evaluate it from a position of no bias.

          There is plenty of evidence in favor of God, accepted by billions of people worldwide, the fact that you personally rejected it doesn’t mean that a warrant for disbelief as a starting point has been established.

          You keep saying this as if it’s true, but it is actually a blatant and willfully dishonest misrepresentation of your opponent’s position.

        • MNb

          “you assume that God and invisible elephants and tooth-fairies have the same evidence.”
          The fact that you assume they don’t have the same evidence shows your bias against invisible elephants and tooth-fairies. This fact flat out disproves that you accept

          “the honest, rational starting point is no bias, either towards or against.”
          regarding god, invisible elephants and tooth-fairies. No bias means that at the starting point of your investigation you keep all options open: no evidence at all, evidence against and evidence pro. That applies equally to your god, to invisible elephants and tooth-fairies. The fact that you main it’s a false analogy shows your bias.

          “If you remove your assumption of naturalism, that argument collapses.”
          Totally wrong. The assumption of naturalism is totally unnecessary for

          “regarding invisible elephants and tooth-fairies you keep on repeating your bias.”
          On the contrary – I assume something I reject: that it’s possible to distinguish correct claims about the supernatural from incorrect ones.

          You’re a failure, Wicked Sam.

        • There is plenty of evidence in favor of God, accepted by billions of people worldwide

          Is there? Show it to us.

          And you’re saying that Christians believe because of evidence? Tell me more–that surprises me. I think they believe for emotional, non-evidence-based reasons.

          But perhaps evidence is supporting your own faith–tell us more about this.

        • Kodie

          Billions of people in the world’s largest cult.

        • Without Malice

          Since most of the people on earth who do believe in God, do not believe in the Christian God, then I guess by your analogy the Christian God does not exist.

        • adam

          But there is bias that is unavoidable, thousands of years of disputed evidence AGAINST the claims of supernatural.

        • Are you saying that Jim Wallace was wrong to inject his assumption that God exists into his point #10?

        • Wick Samuel

          A. You’ve sure been uncharacteristically quiet on this topic, seems like you at least at some level realize that your assumption of naturalism is as equally circular as the assumption you accuse Christians of.

          B. I dont see Wallace “injecting an assumption” at all.

          In the final analysis, all of us have to ask an important question. As a reader of the Bible, am I going to stand as its critic, or I am going to allow the Bible stand as a critic over me? Either I am going to decide what’s true or false in the Bible, or the Bible is going to decide what is true or false in me:

          I see him doing what I do all the time. I don’t like many of the things that God does, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t God. I don’t see him saying “this has to be true because we know God is real”, I seem him saying, “we may not like what God did, but we have to accept it because He is God”.

          From what I see, I think your accusation of circular reasoning is inaccurate.
          On the other hand, you are clearly using circular reasoning when you start with the assumption that God does not exist, then argue that supernatural can’t be real simply because it’s non-natural.

        • You’ve sure been uncharacteristically quiet on this topic

          Busy day. Lots of babies to eat.

          seems like you at least at some level realize that your assumption of naturalism is as equally circular as the assumption you accuse Christians of.

          Wrong again.

          Why should I have all the fun? Other commenters have pointed out the relevant information and analyzed it nicely. If I didn’t explore the topic completely, I’m sure that’s been corrected by now.

          I dont see Wallace “injecting an assumption” at all.

          So I must be without bias (I have no idea what that means, but I guess simply being continually in a state of, “Well, God might exist or might not—I guess it’s 50/50”), but Wallace’s assumption that the Bible is the word of God (“Am I going to stand as [the Bible’s] critic, or am I going to allow the Bible stand as a critic over me?”) is A-OK with you?

          I see him doing what I do all the time.

          I’m sure you do. But when you’re analyzing the Bible, you don’t assume the Bible is correct before you start.

          I seem him saying, “we may not like what God did, but we have to accept it because He is God”.

          Yes, that is indeed what he’s saying. And is the problem not obvious? He’s going into the analysis of the Bible assuming that God exists.

          Not quite as open minded as I was hoping for.

          you are clearly using circular reasoning when you start with the assumption that God does not exist

          Wrong. But even if I were doing that, it’s hard to see how would be wrong while Wallace assumes God does exist and he is guilty of nothing.

          But I’m guessing this will be another fruitless conversation. Just like Wallace enters his Bible analysis knowing that it’s the word of God, you know that you’re right. Why bother considering atheists’ pushback?

        • Wick Samuel

          He’s going into the analysis of the Bible assuming that God exists

          and, you are demonstrating he is doing that how? Because he says he doenst know why God does some things? It doesn’t follow from that that he is assuming God exists. I was convinced that Jesus is the Christ by reading the bible, I didn’t assume the Bible was real, nor did I assume that Jesus is the Christ.

          The only person I see urging people to accept something as true without proof, is you.

        • and, you are demonstrating he is doing that how?

          By reading his statement. I pulled it for your convenience in the blog.

          Because he says he doenst know why God does some things?

          Of course not. If that sentence I pulled out doesn’t illustrate the problem, I’m afraid I can’t provide any more illumination.

          It doesn’t follow from that that he is assuming God exists.

          It follows from “Am I going to stand as [the Bible’s] critic, or am I going to allow the Bible stand as a critic over me?” that he’s assuming that the Bible is correct. In an article recommending principles by which to evaluate the Bible. See the problem?

          (No, of course you don’t.)

          The only person I see urging people to accept something as true without proof, is you.

          And the only person urging people to eat babies is you.

          (Say, this groundless accusation thing is fun! Let’s do some more.)

        • Wick Samuel

          how are you divining that Wallace is claiming the bible is true just because he assumes God is real? You already acknowledged that the statement you quoted was just Wallace disagreeing with the bible, not him saying “Well, it’s real because God says it’s real”

          ========

          It follows from “Am I going to stand as [the Bible’s] critic, or am I going to allow the Bible stand as a critic over me?” that he’s assuming that the Bible is correct. In an article recommending principles by which to evaluate the Bible. See the problem?

          you JUST admitted that that is wallace saying he doesnt like sections, but God is God.

          what exactly do you mean by “the Bible is correct”, what point are you attempting to make there?

          ===

          groundless accusation? was your blog hacked and someone else wrote this?:

          No, we don’t assume God first. Honest adults start with the null hypothesis, which is that Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion

          you’re urging people to start with the assumption(accepted as true without proof) that God is not real.

        • how are you divining that Wallace is claiming the bible is true just because he assumes God is real?

          God, you can be annoying. Is that your goal? You win!

          In my post, I introduced Wallace’s quote with this: “Wallace’s goal here was to give fair rules for evaluating the Bible, but his bias is apparent as he concludes:”

          The topic is the Bible. Wallace’s principles are aimed at evaluating the Bible. Wallace assumes the Bible true in his analysis of the Bible. I know that sounds peachy to you, but to the rest of us it seems contradictory to his overall goal of giving the bible a fair analysis.

          you’re urging people to start with the assumption (accepted as true without proof) that God is not real.

          I’ve asked you many times already to show us how it’s done. Model how the Christian does it so we know what you think is the correct way. Cuz it sure sounds like we’d be approaching foreign ideas (Islam, unicorns) in a similar way. Show the distinction.

        • Wick Samuel

          Explain “Wallace assumes the Bible true in his analysis of the Bible”

          what do you mean by that? The bible accurately reflects Gods interaction with humanity? what are you trying to say?

          All I see is Wallace viewing the bible as accurately reflecting Gods will and His interaction with humanity, and telling his readers that “we may not like all of it, but He’s God”.
          ======
          So, your warrant for telling people to accept without proof that God is not real is that you believe Christians do the same yet opposite? Is that it?

        • Kodie

          You’re describing someone who assumes god is real, but your impression of our position is false, and you know it by now.

        • Pofarmer

          wick has now given up on any intellectual argument and flailing.

        • what do you mean by that?

          Nice gambit! When you’re losing an argument, just ask pointless questions until the other person gives up in frustration, then declare that your argument is superior.

          If “Am I going to stand as [the Bible’s] critic, or am I going to allow the Bible stand as a critic over me?” doesn’t sound biased to you in an article discussing the fair way to approach the Bible, OK, thanks for your input. There is no more progress that we can make on this subtopic.

          your warrant for telling people to accept without proof that God is not real is that you believe Christians do the same yet opposite? Is that it?

          No.

        • Wick Samuel

          again, you already acknowledged his statement there was him saying “we dont always understand why God does things”
          so it is entirely unclear to me what hidden assumption you believe is happening there. Where do you see irrationality? Because he believes God is real? Because he believes the bible is an accurate representation of Gods interaction with man?
          It’s a simple question for you to answer..

        • adam

          And DELUSION is the simple answer for those who ‘believe’ that the bible is the ‘word of a ‘god”

        • Thanks for playing.

        • Wick Samuel

          I couldnt figure out what your point was either 😉

        • Here’s a little hypothetical for you. Imagine a Muslim defends the Koran with the following statements:

          “Either I am going to decide what’s true or false in the Koran, or the Koran is going to decide what is true or false in me”.

          “So, who is right, the Prophet (peace be upon him), or the critics? Who are you going to trust; the Divine Lordship of Allah or Modern Scholarship of skeptics?”

          Would you say that this Muslim is being open-minded in his assessment of the Koran? Is this Muslim ever likely to find out if there are really errors in the Koran?

        • and, you are demonstrating he is doing that how? Because he says he doenst know why God does some things? It doesn’t follow from that that he is assuming God exists.

          Just read what Wallace writes about it. The rhetorical dichotomy, “Either I am going to decide what’s true or false in the Bible, or the Bible is going to decide what is true or false in me”, in which the option of “deciding what’s true or false in the Bible” is presented as the undesirable option. So the option you suggest, of reading the Bible to decide what is true in it, is plainly depicted as an improper approach.

          Wallace continues, “So, who is right, Christ or the critics? Who are you going to trust; the Divine Lordship of Jesus or Modern Scholarship of skeptics?” Framing the question as one of Jesus vs skeptics is circular, since the idea that the Bible is supported by Jesus is the thing in dispute. It is no different from a Muslim telling you that God supports the Koran, and then asking whether you trust critics of the Koran more than you trust God. If you trust God, you must trust the Koran.

        • Kodie

          B. I dont see Wallace “injecting an assumption” at all.

          You couldn’t read the part where he grants the bible power over his life?

          If you have to lie about your opponent’s position, and you must know that you are, then how credible could your claims be?

        • Greg G.

          I don’t like many of the things that God does, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t God.

          Isn’t your god defined as omnipotent and omnibenevolent? If he lacks the power to please you, he is not omnipotent. If he lacks the motivation to please you, he is not omnibenevolent. That means your god does not exist. Even your pretend god pisses you off.

        • TheNuszAbides

          that’s a potentially instructive twist on the omnipotence rabbit-hole… we could infer from the existence of depressed, [‘unrighteously’] angry, and other ‘negatively’-inclined conditions/perspectives, that Bog doesn’t actually desire, say, Peace on Earth… then some sloppy ‘free will’ counter-assertion would imply that everyone suffering from non-faith, non-optimism, etc. is willfully/obstinately choosing their attitudes and emotions…

        • MNb

          Your criminal justice system. Not mine. I have never lived in any country with a jury system, so it’s totally irrelevant to me.

        • adam

          Not true, it is the job of the defense to select jurors WITH bias to favor their client.

          Then present YOUR ‘god’ for trial and let’s see if it exists or is just IMAGINARY…

        • I want to evaluate God the same way an open-minded Wick would evaluate Islam.

        • adam

          First believe that the moon was split in half and rejoined and that winged horses fly to heaven, that should be a good start..

        • Wick Samuel

          so.. your argument is that you are justified in starting an investigation with a bias against because you believe that’s what other people do?

        • Greg G.

          The operative concept is “open-minded”.

        • Is an open-minded Wick biased? I would’ve thought not.

        • TheNuszAbides

          biased toward open-mindedness! the most insidious Fruit of all!

        • Geena Safire

          Much of what you say here (and above in this thread) is factually wrong.

          ‘Burden of proof” refer to the “philosophical burden of proof” (the more general case) and the “legal burden of proof” (which emerged from the former).

          For the philosophical sense, the burden of proof has nothing to do with rights. It has to do with epistemology — in this case, the best way we have found over time to discover whether something is likely to be true.

          In the context of criminal legal systems, it can be placed wherever the community decides. In some legal systems (such as in Saudi Arabia), the “burden of proof” is on the defendant to demonstrate s/he is not guilty. In other legal systems, like in the US, the “burden of proof” is on the prosecution to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty.

          The “presumption of innocence” is among several features of our legal system that are there to protect the rights of the accused. Then, because of the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution.

          In criminal proceedings in the US, in a jury trial, all of the jurors must vote unanimously to convict or to acquit.* If even one juror votes “not guilty” — and the jury members believe the impasse is not likely to be resolved, the jury can request that the judge declare a mistrial because of a hung jury (technically, a deadlocked jury). However, the judge, at her/his discretion, can direct the jury to keep deliberating in order to reach a unanimous verdict.

          So, no, there are not “ties” in criminal cases. 11-1 is as deadlocked as 6-6 and 1-11. Also, therefore, since there are no “ties”, then obviously “ties” are not avoided by having an odd number of people on a jury.

          Also, if the judge decides the jury is hopelessly deadlocked, then s/he will declare a mistrial, and then the entire process begins again with a new jury and trial.

          Separately, for hundreds of years of Christianity, the clerical judges let God decide a persons guilt. For example, they would throw a suspected witch into water. If God let hir sink to the bottom, s/he was determined not to have been a witch, so s/he could be buried in a Christian cemetery (because, of course s/he died). If God let hir float, s/he was determined to be a witch, so she was then pulled out and burned at the stake. Perhaps you think a Christian legal system would be better? Let God decide.

          —–
          * States are legally allowed to adopt a less-than-unanimous verdict system, such as 10-2, but only two states have done so. For federal cases, unanimity is still the rule.

        • Dang! Watching Wick fumphering around with these simple concepts was so adorable. Now he won’t have any excuse.

        • Wick Samuel

          – good analysis on the “tie” part, I was incorrect there for sure, although look at the supreme court, they have an odd number of justices for a reason.

          – The non US information is interesting but irrelevant as is the “clerical” stuff, just cheap shots .. I can talk about Pol Pot for a bit if you like?

          – regarding burden of proof, as I said, it is a legal right. It grows out of the basic logical principle that the person making the claim has the burden to establish the claim(like the atheist making the claim that God doesnt exist), but we only have that right because it is legally recognized.

        • Geena Safire

          Good on you, WS, for your acknowledgement. Thank you!

          But you are still wrong about the words you are saying about “burden of proof.” When you talk about legal stuff, you have to use the right words.
          The “burden of proof” is not a right. The “presumption of innocence” is the right. The prosecution’s “burden of proof” is a consequence of the defendant’s right to the “presumption of innocence.”

          It would be like me saying, “The Bible says Jesus is God because he rose from the dead.” I would be wrong. The Bible says Jesus rose from the dead because he is God. Do you get the distinction now?

          Also, I’m pretty sure you’ve been told about a thousand times (in your WS incarnation and in your previous Richard Chad incarnation) that atheism does not claim that God does not exist. (A few atheists may say that, but it is not necessary to atheism.)

          So, please, please, stop saying that.

          The non-US info is not irrelevant. Many Americans think that the “presumption of innocence” is fundamental to law throughout the world. It is most assuredly not so. It is important to be aware of and appreciative of the rights our country give us.

        • Wick Samuel

          The “burden of proof” is not a right. The “presumption of innocence” is the right. The prosecution’s “burden of proof” is a consequenceof the defendant’s right to the “presumption of innocence.”

          fair enough, that’s more precise than my wording.

          that atheism does not claim that God does not exist.

          I typically use “atheist” not “atheism”, but I’ll endeavor to be careful to always use the former.
          If you think only a few atheists make that claim (either explicitly or implicitly), I would have to ask you.. would you be interested in some real estate that I have for sale,?

        • Geena Safire

          I’ve always had my eye on that Brooklyn Bridge…

          Seriously, though, I’m talking about percentages, not the absolute number that personally you happen to run across, WS.

          Plus, you seem to have some, er, fluid, um, inexplicit, ah, different ideas about what you consider qualifies as an “implicit” claim that “no God exists.”

          Maybe we could discuss that sometime.

    • If this helps, it would be different if the claim were different, such as “There is no god.” If that were the claim, it would be up to the person making the claim to prove that there is no god.
      Since the claim we’re talking about here is, “There is a god, and it’s the god of the bible,” etc, it’s up to the person claiming there is a god to prove it. The bible makes claims about God, and about there being a god, so we have to examine the bible critically. I think that’s part of what they mean here. Hope this helps.

      • Wick Samuel

        actually, in this case, bob is making the claim “we don’t assume God first. Honest adults start with the null hypothesis, which is that Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion.

        right? Is that not a claim?

        why dont “honest folks start with no bias, and follow the evidence”

        • The statement you quoted simply says that we should not start off by being less critical of Christianity than other religious claims. Where is the bias there? Why should we start off assuming any one religion is more accurate than the others before we start looking at evidence?

        • Wick Samuel

          “honest folks start with no bias, and follow the evidence”

          is way different than

          “Honest adults start with the null hypothesis, which is that Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion”

        • Kodie

          He’s contrasting with Wallace, who lets his bible tell him what to think instead of critically analyzing it for truth. The contrast would be to critically analyze the claims for biblical truth by reading the bible without a priori granting it authority.

          If you have researched every religious claim and found Christianity superior, please show us this powerful evidence, because it’s not apparent.

        • Wick Samuel

          Bob lets his naturalism tell him what to think instead of critically analyzing it for truth.

          You are assuming that a person couldnt read the bible and determine it was true without the a-priori. On what do you make that claim?

          your response will boil down to “the bible isn’t true because God doesnt exist”. Without that a-priori though, your argument falls apart.

        • Kodie

          I wasn’t making that claim. I don’t know what argument you think is falling apart, but your argument isn’t in response to what I actually said.

          ETA: Bob and other atheists are only coming from the position that the material world is all we know so far. We don’t leap to conclusions about the supernatural from observing the natural world. When you say “follow” the evidence, you only mean “create a bridge to cover the gap and label it ‘evidence'”. But we don’t know that yet, we’re “a priori.” When you show us the evidence for your supernatural claims, we will analyze it for veracity. Spoiler alert: it fails, not from an a priori claim that god doesn’t exist but because it fails to provide the conclusion you made, and we show you where you’re mistaken. You don’t choose to follow the evidence to its conclusion without any bias.

          Just because we don’t have the same conclusion as you do from looking at the evidence doesn’t mean we have an a priori claim that there is no god, or that we entered the investigation with a bias. That’s your bias.

        • You are assuming that a person couldnt read the bible and determine it was true without the a-priori. On what do you make that claim?

          The claim was not about “a person”, it was about Wallace, who is quoted in the article as follows:

          Am I going to stand as [the Bible’s] critic, or am I going to allow the Bible stand as a critic over me? Either I am going to decide what’s true or false in the Bible, or the Bible is going to decide what is true or false in me.

          By rejecting the idea of deciding what is true or false in the Bible, Wallace rejects the legitimacy of reading the Bible and determining it to be true without the a priori.

        • adam

          “You are assuming that a person couldnt read the bible and determine it was true without the a-priori. On what do you make that claim?”

          Contradictions in the bible itself.

        • Wick Samuel

          again, the issue on the table at the moment is the starting point, do you pick up the bible with no bias either way regarding the existence or non-existence, or do you assume God does not exist and start reading with that assumption in place?

          Bob is recommending the later, and much of his and other arguments are based on that assumption being true.
          Atheist: “The supernatural claims in the bible are false”
          Theist: “how do you know”
          Atheist: “well, God isnt real, there is no such thing as non-natural, the only thing that exists is our universe, so how can they be true?”

          it’s circular logic.

        • Kodie

          A priori to investigating the bible for evidence to support your claim, we can see you have to lie and misrepresent your opponent’s position. Doesn’t bode well.

        • What Bob appears to be recommending is to treat the Bible exactly the same way as you would treat the Koran, the Baghavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, the Illiad, the Epic of Gilgamesh, etc etc, and to treat the claims about your god just as you would treat claims about Allah or Krishna or Zeus or Enki. In other words, no bias towards any particular religion.

          I haven’t seen Bob use the non-existence of God as an axiom for determining the Bible to be unreliable. If he has, I’m sure you’ll be able to link to it.

        • adam

          Since the bible, in OUR culture is part of our culture, it doesnt seem possible to pick it up with no bias.

          Our culture indoctrinates its youth to believe in the supernatural and it’s ‘god’ based on FEAR.

          But Ohis is correct below, view the bible the same way you view all other religious stories and their supernatural claims. It makes the claims laughable.

          And to Kodie’s point, if you have to LIE to demonstrate YOUR ‘god’, then what kind of ‘god’ do you demonstrate?

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          I pick up the Bible with the following background knowledge.
          1. It’s written my men.
          2. Some of these men claimed inspiration by God
          3. The books that make up the Bible were determined by men in a highly political environment
          4. Given all the books we know of that claim to have revelation from God but do not, we should be skeptical of this claim, regardless of if God exists.

          Based on the background knowledge, I then do the following:

          If the book demonstrates/provides reason to think that it truly is from divine revelation, for example if is consistent historically with other historical records, is consistent with itself, does not contradict undeniable scientific truths (not all scientific truths are undeniable, which is why I specify) provides multiple clear specific prophecies over thousands of years from many parts of the world to a specific event that happens exactly as described, then we have evidence both of the truth of the revelation, and of an entity capable of at least some form of extra ordinary knowledge and power (given the knowledge of the future). This would then become a reasonable basis for believing in something that can be called God, though it would not be clear if this God is a natural or supernatural entity. If it fails to do so, I would expect that it is actually written my men without revelation from God, even if the authors though they received revelation from God.

          Also, the conversation your suggesting is not how it usually goes. It usually more like this.

          Atheist: “How do you know the supernatural claims in the Bible are true”
          Theist: “By faith”
          Atheist: “I can’t base my belief on your faith. Do you have any evidence for this?”
          Theist: “Not really. Only inductive arguments”

          A bunch of discussion occurs about the inductive arguments…

          Atheist: “I’m not convinced by your inductive arguments. As such, I can’t believe they are supernatural”

          Or perhaps like this.

          Atheist: The superatural claims in the Bible are probably not true.
          Theist: How do you know
          Atheist: The Bible can’t even get it’s natural claims right, contradicts itself, etc. Further, without post-hoc rationalizations, there is no good reason to think that it is true. As such, its only reasonable to conclude that the supernatural claims are also not true.

          It’s only in your straw man arguments that you can find circular logic.

        • Wick Samuel

          1. It’s written my men.

          written down by men.

          2. Some of these men claimed inspiration by God

          All claimed inspiration.

          you can say that inspiration was false, but you can’t claim that all men didnt make the claim they were inspired.

          3. The books that make up the Bible were determined by men in a highly political environment

          A. Guess you are referring only to the books of the New Testament?

          B. canon was inspired

          4. Given all the books we know of that claim to have revelation from God but do not, we should be skeptical of this claim, regardless of if God exists.

          what books are you talking about?

          again, your entire argument falls apart of you remove the assumption that God does not exist.

        • Kodie

          B. Evidence that it was inspired, we only know claims of inspiration.

          Stop lying.

        • Jack Baynes

          Even if we assume that God exists, we have no reason to assume the Bible was inspired by him. We just know people claim it was inspired by him.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          How exactly would assuming a God exists change the way I evaluate the Bible? What difference would it make. You have utterly failed to show what difference assuming a God exists would make.

          To reply.

          1. Written by men or written down by men mean exactly the same thing. The only question we have is what inspired them to write them down.

          2. The writers of Matthew, Mark and Luke did not claim Inspiration. Neither did the writers of the Pentateuch, Esther, Job, and many others. Paul claimed inspiration. Some of the prophets claimed inspiration, and some of the people that didn’t claim inspiration did claim to be writing what was revealed to others.

          Men however, have claimed that the whole Bible is the inspired word of God.

          3 A. Primarily the new testament yes, but the old testament was somewhat political too AFAIk.
          3B. The cannon was determined to be canon by men. In fact, it wasn’t even determined to be canon by vote until 1500 years after jesus died, and then many of the books one church considered canon were still rejected by protestants.

          4. Which books do you think? The Qur’an, The book of Mormon, The writings of Ellen White (merely inspired, not revealed), and many others. One of our oldest texts, the Code of Ur-Nammu claimed to be received from God.

        • Wick Samuel

          you dont seem to be acquainted with Judeo-Christian history or theology.

        • Kodie

          That’s not a valid reason to start from a beginning point assuming “there is a god, particularly Wick’s envisionment of god.”

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          That might be true.

          I’ve only grew up immersed in it in a fundamentalist sect and read about 50 books on theology including swinburne, plantinga, WLC, many less well known writers, a number of conservative christian writers including G.K. Beale, John Walton, D Brent Sandy, Peter Keeft, and J. Warner Wallace (Cold case Christianity), and about 20 on christian church history, which ultimately lead to my rejecting Christianity.

          Despite my limited reading, I’m it seems I’m at least as acquainted with it as you are.

          Nevertheless, it’s irrelevant to your failure to make your point. If anything it highlights why we can’t understand each other. It seems you are starting with Theology and Doctrine and through that interpreting history. Even in my fundamentalist sect, we recognized that was backwards.

        • Wick Samuel

          – Moses didn’t claim to be inspired for example? No idea what you are talking about
          – Old testament was somewhat political? what in the world are you talking about?
          – Canon “nearly universally accepted” mid 300’s AD

          so, I would have to say, no, you dont seem that familiar with it.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          – Moses didn’t claim to be inspired for example? No idea what you are talking about

          Moses didn’t claim to write the pentuatach. You seem remarkably ignorant of this. People claim Moses wrote it, and that is the traditional stance, but nowhere in these books does it say anything that indicates Moses is doing the writing himself. The writers of the Pentateuch claim to write down some of the revelation that Moses claimed to have received, but this is not the same thing as the known author of the book claiming in the book to be writing under inspiration of God. To summarize, they include some things Moses is claimed to have written, (Exodus 2:4, Numbers 33:2, etc), but don’t claim in their texts to be written by Moses as a whole.

          I wrote “and some of the people that didn’t claim inspiration did claim to be writing what was revealed to others.” for a reason.

          – Old testament was somewhat political? what in the world are you talking about?

          Many think some of the books of the old testament were edited for political purposes during the reign of Josiah, or at least within a few hundred years of the captivity when they remarkably found “The book of the law”.

          However, even if that politicization of the text didn’t happen, it’s generally agreed that the canon was compiled in a way similar to the New Testament, through a series of councils by Rabbinical leaders. The last review of it was made around 90 AD by the Council of Yavneh (Jamnia) at which time many books including Song of Songs, Daniel and Ezekiel, Esther, and Ecclesiastes were still considered suspect, despite their being considered cannon today. Councils are generally quite political, both historically and today, due to different factions trying to get their understanding of what is canonical included.

          – Canon “nearly universally accepted” mid 300’s AD

          The books that became the canon were nearly universally accepted within the western church by the mid 300’s, but the eastern church accepted, and still does a larger collection of books. However, the idea that all these books were inerrant didn’t become mainstream until the reformation.

          It seems to me you are so narrowly informed you suffer from the Dunning–Kruger effect

        • adam

          Question: “How did Moses write Deuteronomy if it records his death?”

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          Not sure if your replying to me or to Wick as I don’t believe he did, but Wick does.

          To answer you question though, conservative apologists usually say either:

          1. That Moses would have indicated to his followers to write in the details of his death after he died to ensure completeness

          2. Given that the creation story was revealed to him, so too his death could have been revealed to him before he died.

        • adam

          Just a statement in general relevant to the conversation.

          1. Which means he didnt write it, and therefore casts doubts on if he wrote any of it. Which because it is mythology, makes the most sense.

          2. And the Invisible Flying Pink Unicorns could have told him just as well.

        • Greg G.

          Moses is a character in the story. There is no evidence that the Jews were ever slaves in Egypt and lots of evidence that the Jews originated from the Canaanites as the only difference in the archaeology between the two cultures is the existence of pig bones.

          The Old Testament canon is irrelevant. The Catholics use a different canon than the Protestants and other churches have variations. The funny part is that the New Testament authors favored the Septuagint!

        • – Canon “nearly universally accepted” mid 300’s AD

          It’s not “nearly universally accepted” today. What about the dispute between Catholics and Protestants over the deuterocanon?

        • Wick Samuel

          yes it is..

          you mean “it isnt universally accepted” which is true.

        • Greg G.

          Catholics and Protestants are major portions of Christianity. If they don’t accept the other’s canon, it cannot be “nearly universally accepted”.

        • See Greg G. Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox disagree with each other on the canon. I don’t know what you think “nearly universally accepted” means, but to me it definitely doesn’t mean “rejected by 2 out of the 3 major Christian groups”.

        • MNb

          “Old testament was somewhat political? what in the world are you talking about?”
          Wow, you are the one who is not acquainted with Hebrew history indeed. Like all creation stories and myths the OT served to justify the Hebrew nation and the power of the Hebrew kings.

        • adam

          Then you should demonstrate that your CLAIM is true, otherwise you are the one who seems ignorant about Judeo-Christian history or theology.

        • MNb

          It isn’t. I have already shown you several times why god doesn’t exist. In none of my arguments the Bible shows up.

          Your “dialogue” is a strawman. And it’s not even circular logic, because in the atheist reply the Bible is not used as an argument that the supernatural doesn’t exist.
          That’s quite a fail again, Wicked Sam.

        • adam

          No the issue is that contradictions in the bible itself, eliminates the need for any bias and demonstrates that at least in places it is NOT true.

          Enough for reasonable doubt that any of the supernatural claims are real.

        • Wick Samuel

          you mean to say, your opinion that there are contradictions in the bible justifies having a bias that God is not real when starting your investigation.

          why should your opinion justify that starting bias?

        • adam

          No the issue is that contradictions in the bible itself, eliminates the need for any bias and demonstrates that at least in places it is NOT true.

          Enough for reasonable doubt that any of the supernatural claims are real.

        • Wick Samuel

          You have an opinion that there are contradictions, I (and billions of others) completely disagree with that opinion. You may have strong opinions, but that doesnt make it fact, and that doesnt mean you get to levy your presumption of naturalism on all investigations.

        • adam

          No I demonstrated one contradiction already, there are more…

          No the issue is that contradictions in the bible itself, eliminates the need for any bias and demonstrates that at least in places it is NOT true.

          Enough for reasonable doubt that any of the supernatural claims are real.

        • Wick Samuel

          You mean you are convinced that a contradiction exists, not that you actually demonstrated it..

        • adam

          No I actually demonstrated it with quotes from the bible….

          It is YOUR claim that the bible contains no contradictions?

        • adam

          ” I (and billions of others) completely disagree with that opinion.”

          Of course you do, you have to to justify belief in MAGIC.

        • Wick Samuel

          you mean, I need to convince you that your belief that God is not real, is false?

          How do you get from your opinion, to a warrant that disbelief is properly basic?

        • adam

          No, just demonstrate that YOUR ‘god’ is not imaginary….

          That you and ‘billions of others’ are not delusional about the supernatural.

        • MNb

          That’s not an opinion, that’s the conclusion of text analysis. If a text first says p and subsequently -p that’s a contradiction. Pick your choice:

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

          The fact that apologists do their best to explain them away (like Wallace) only confirms that they are contradictions.

        • Kodie

          We don’t learn about the contradictions until after we’ve started the investigation, so no, but once we’ve started, it’s not looking so hot with those contradictions in there, claims of an infallible god. Pretty poor method of getting the word out to his creation, for starters.

        • Without Malice

          It’s not just the fact that the bible contradicts itself in many places, it the fact that it is wrong in so many places. The world was not created in six days, plants did not exist before the sun, snakes don’t talk and neither do donkeys or stones, the Exodus never happened and neither did the conquest of the not so Holy Land, men aren’t born to virgins, nor can they turn water to wine or walk on water or raise the dead or be raised themselves from the dead. It’s all myth, old wives tales and bull shit from beginning to end.

        • Love to chat about it, but why bother? You can’t get my position straight.

        • MNb

          “your response will boil down to “the bible isn’t true because God doesnt exist”.”
          Repeating a strawman doesn’t make it any better. Nobody here ever wrote that, BobS the least of all. We argue that the Bible isn’t true in large parts because it’s full of all kind of nonsense.

        • Show us how it’s done. Tell us where you start from with a Muslim or unicorn believer who wants to argue for the rightness of his position.

        • You’re going to have to explain your objection to me a bit more, because I still don’t see it.

          “No more accurate” is equivalent to “of equal accuracy or inaccuracy”. So rejection of that position entails an a priori assumption that Christianity is either more or less accurate than (some or all of) the other religions.

          That looks like bias to me. If before looking at the evidence, you start with the assumption that Christianity is either more or less accurate than some other religions, is that not bias for or against Christianity? How can you reject the a priori assumption that all religions are of equal (in)accuracy, without introducing a bias?

        • Kodie

          Honest adults do not start without a bias toward Christianity or any other supernatural belief. Why would an honest adult give Christianity an edge? Bob here is investigating the many arguments Christians have come up with to support their beliefs, but found all of them wanting, for logic or clear uncorrupted evidence. We also don’t know why you would choose Christianity out of all the world’s religions without investigating all of them. It’s so much more like you picked one out of a hat without following your own rule.

        • Wick Samuel

          Bob is saying that it’s rational to start out with the assumption that God does not exist.

        • Kodie

          No he isn’t.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          No, Bob is saying that it’s rational to start out without the assumption that God does exist. Not the same thing as the assumption that God does not exist.

          Let me make an analogy with an invisible elephant in my garage.

          I tell you there’s an invisible elephant in my garage. Are you being irrational if you don’t assume that such a thing is in my Garage? Of course not. Given this, Are you being irrational if you believe that this elephant does not exist if I cannot back up my claim? Again, of course not. This is your tentative conclusion, not what you started. Do you need to prove that the invisible elephant does not exist to conclude pending new evidence that the elephant does not exist? Of course not. The same is true with God.

          Someone tells me a particular God exists. I start out by accepting it is possible, but not assuming that the statement is true. If the person making the claim fails to provide evidence, I then tentatively conclude that this God either does not exist, or does not affect the reality I interact with, in which case this God might as well not exist. If new evidence is provided (or I discover it myself), then I re-evaluate the claim. Until that time though, I conclude tentatively that this particular God does not exist. I accept that it’s possible that this particular God exists, but I don’t believe it does.

          Now on the flip side, consider this statement.

          “There was no god that committed suicide to create the universe.” Let’s start again by accepting that the claim may be true, but not assuming that the claim is true. However, since it is impossible to provide evidence for this claim, it is reasonable to say that it is possible that a God existed that committed suicide to create the universe. This doesn’t mean you now accept the claim that God created the universe by committing suicide, just that you reject the original claim that There was no god that committed suicide to create the universe.

        • Wick Samuel

          The starting point should be no bias in either direction. Right?

          Your example of the “invisible elephant” is a false analogy, you are attempting to equate belief in an “invisible elephant” with belief in God. Attempting to say that they are both equally non-believable , so therefor have the same believability sarting point, ie none.

        • Kodie

          They are equally extraordinary claims, and that’s all. Stop exaggerating and lying to try to win an argument. If your god exists, why do you need to?

          It’s not looking good for the soundness of the arguments you’ll make.

        • adam

          “If your god exists, why do you need to?”

          Because, in his ‘heart’ Wick “knows” that his god is imaginary, he is just afraid of giving up his security blankie…

        • TheNuszAbides

          the two immediate problems being
          – he likely isn’t inclined to care whether nonbelievers think of his ‘arguments’ as structurally/rationally sound, cuz Bajillions of Traditional-Man-Hours Can’t Be Wrong (and can be comforting to the believer who needs to belong)
          – that he frames anything using terms of logic by now indicates (at a bare minimum or lack of understanding) the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          The starting point should be I don’t know, what evidence do you have to support your claim? There should be a bias known as skepticism against any truth claim unless you want to believe everything. This goes for both claims that something exists, and claims that something does not exist.

          Your wrong about the false analogy too. Also, why is an invisible but otherwise normal elephant harder to believe than an incomprehensible God? However, that is beside the point. The point of the analogy is to highlight how we go about demonstrating things that are true or false, and what stance we should take when evidence is not provided. That we have more tangible experiences with elephants than Gods does not change the method of evaluating the claim regarding invisible elephants in my garage. How extraordinary the claim is, is completely beside the point for the analogy.

        • adam

          Not when they have the same lack of evidence of existence.

        • Wick Samuel

          you can only say that honestly we agree that there is no evidence for the existence of God.
          Since we don’t, you are merely stating an opinion, and haven’t provided justification for the disbelief of God as a proper starting point.

        • Kodie

          A priori, we both have no evidence. We have yet to see it and evaluate it for credibility, both of us. Your credibility is damaged by your willful dishonesty a priori to looking at the evidence.

        • MNb

          “Since we don’t ….”
          Thanks for once again confirming your bias. If you want to start your investigation of “god exists” from a neutral starting point you can’t begin with claiming that there is evidence for your god.

        • MNb

          It’s not a false analogy. The fact that you write this without even trying to provide any argument shows your own bias in your own starting point.
          It’s not a false analogy because both your god and the invisible elephant are defined as immaterial entities. I have told you this several times. The fact that you don’t address this confirms your bias.
          You’re violating Matth. 7:1. Plus you violate the 9th Commandment. You’re doing your own belief system a grave disservice.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          I actually tried to make the analogous component slightly different. I wanted it to be invisible entities that can interact with the world, allowing the elephant to be material and interact with the world where God is not material but still assumed to interact with the world for discussion sake. I did this to highlight the point about evaluating truth claims and to make it easy to have a discussion about both the similarities and differences in the truth claims.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i suspect you’re hung up on some rigid form of duality or other ‘binary’ thinking about all of this. there are rarely strictly two positions to take in anything that can take more than a short phrase to encapsulate, but you seem to insist that atheists have a singular/monolithic message. unfortunately for anyone laboring under that assumption, atheism and anti-theism are not synonymous even though any individual could technically identify as both. you seem to have had little-to-no cognitive dissonance exercise in this regard: anti-theism more or less requires a foundation of atheism, but atheism, strictly speaking (which many people all over the map fail or decline to do), does not necessarily imply or include anti-theism.
          do you spend this much effort trying to argue with people who identify as agnostic? many but not all of them fit squarely into the definition of ‘atheist’… but some fit Judeo-Christian pegs fairly neatly, from sheer cultural habit/dominance. i would try further nudging towards your conceptual horizon if i had any expectation (yet) that you could credit the rationality of igtheism…

        • Without Malice

          It doesn’t matter if a person starts with the prior assumption that God does or does not exist. All that matters is that in following the evidence the only conclusion that can be drawn is that there is no evidence for the existence of God.

        • Wick Samuel

          The only way a person can claim there is no evidence, is if they assume that naturalism is true, that God does not exist.
          Removing that assumption wrecks the argument, you then have to deal with the specific arguments themselves instead of bypassing that by claiming that since God exists, it cant be evidence of God.

          1. origin of the universe
          2. origin of life on this planet
          3. fine tuning of the universe
          4. existence of choice
          5. existence of objective morality
          6. God as the best explanation of the origin of the disciples belief that they had met a resurrected Jesus.

          Remember, a response of “that doesn’t prove anything” falls apart when that view that naturalism is true is removed.

        • Pick your favorite. See what posts I’ve already written on that subject (or I can show them to you) and we can discuss further.

        • Kodie

          The only way a person can claim any of that is evidence for god is to ignore all the evidence for everything we already know about the natural world and universe, because they already believe in god a priori, not neutral.

        • Wick Samuel

          People that claim that no rational person could come to a different conclusion than they do, are typically very poor sources of information.

        • adam

          So is YOUR CLAIM that ‘Christian supernatural belief IS more accurate than that of any other religion?

          If not then why treat it as such, or are you FINALLY admitting that you are not ‘honest’?

        • Wick Samuel

          the claim in this context is merely that an a-priori assumption that God does not exist is not warranted.
          One should start the investigation neutral, with no bias in either direction.

        • adam

          “the claim in this context is merely that an a-priori assumption that God does not exist is not warranted.”

          So who besides YOU are making this claim.

          We have had thousands of years to investigate the bible and its claims of supernatural powers and event, and NONE demonstrate to be true.

          So it is not an a-priori assumption but the RESULTS of investigation that warrant CURRENT bias against supernatural claims.
          .
          .
          AGAIN,

          So is YOUR CLAIM that ‘Christian supernatural belief IS more accurate than that of any other religion?

          If not then why treat it as such, or are you FINALLY admitting that you are not ‘honest’?

        • Wick Samuel

          2 billion people world wide consider it true.

          NONE demonstrate to be true

          you need to realize that you are making a claim there, your claim is backed up by your opinion only.

        • Kodie

          Argumentum ad populum. Chronic aversion to honest remarks. Where is the demonstration that it is true?

          You’re the one making the non-neutral claims.

        • adam

          Problem is that these ‘2 billion people’ dont even agree on what is true about it.

          So is YOUR CLAIM that ‘Christian supernatural belief IS more accurate than that of any other religion?

          If not then why treat it as such, or are you FINALLY admitting that you are not ‘honest’?

        • Wick Samuel

          I’m not sure what your claim is, are you saying that since doctrinal differences exist, that the starting point for an investigation should be disbelief?

          getting back to the original point: why shouldnt the starting point for any investigation be neutral?

          Why accept Bobs assertion that the starting point should be disbelief in God?

        • Kodie

          Your persistent need to misrepresent your opponent’s position doesn’t speak well to the credibility of the evidence you’ve yet to provide or your arguments.

        • MNb

          No, unbelief is the conclusion from the empirical fact that not only so many doctrinal differences exist that we hardly can recognize any consensus on anything, but also on the observation that believers lack a reliable method to settle those doctrinal differences.

        • TheNuszAbides

          contemplation in this direction has me wondering how many theologians involved in the much-vaunted Councils that established so much doctrine were driven to[wards] atheism by the experience (of any debates that ensued).

        • adam

          yes, lets get back to the real point

          So is YOUR CLAIM that ‘Christian supernatural belief IS more accurate than that of any other religion?

          If not then why treat it as such, or are you FINALLY admitting that you are not ‘honest’?

        • adam

          Then provide me a list of those who have demonstrated that the bible is True and it’s supernatural claims are true.

          Other than that, just demonstrate to us all the SCIENCE of YOUR ‘god’ and how it works.

          AGAIN,

          So is YOUR CLAIM that ‘Christian supernatural belief IS more accurate than that of any other religion?

          If not then why treat it as such, or are you FINALLY admitting that you are not ‘honest’?

        • MNb

          You’re still invited to start your investigation of tooth-fairies neutral, with no bias in either direction. The moment you began to whine about false analogy though you showed your bias and that was before you even started.

        • Maybe he should have said that, to be more clear, but I think that that was pretty much what he meant.

        • adam

          HIstory and EVIDENCE, or lack thereof when it comes to the supernatural.

          We ARE following thousands of years of evidence.

          You on the other hand have wishful thinking.

          I mean what kind of ‘god’ do you worship who cannot demonstrate that the supernatural is NOT imaginary?

          the why call it ‘god’?

        • MNb

          That’s a claim you consistently fail to address on this page. Instead you attack a strawman, which is a form of bearing false witness.

  • Wick Samuel

    How are you substantiating your claim that people should start with the assumption that God does not exist?

    The usual answers are:

    1. Tooth fairy doesn’t exist, so neither does God. Which commits the fallacy of false analogy. Tooth fairy doesn’t exist so neither does Denmark.

    2. God doesn’t exist until you prove He does. Fallacious reasoning, Gods existence is not dependent on anyone’s ability to prove He does exist. God doesn’t just go away because someone doesn’t believe in Him.

    3. If God exists, He would have done ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’ God isn’t a vending machine.

    The only rational approach to God, is start with no assumptions and follow the evidence where it leads.

    • Jack Baynes

      You want to start with the assumption that God exists.

      Why shouldn’t we also start with the assumption that the tooth fairy exists?

      • Wick Samuel

        You want to start with the assumption that God exists

        The only rational approach to God, is start with no assumptions and follow the evidence where it leads.

        • And that’s how you treat the claims of other people? The Scientologist, the Holocaust denier, the moon landing denier, the Hindu, the believer in magic performed by Sathya Sai Baba, the person who says that unicorns exist–you start with no assumptions? You say, “Well, sure, unicorns might very well exist–who can say?”?

          Do you live your life in a gray area where all claims are plausible?

          This is where the ties come in. When the dust has settled, do you live your life as if unicorns exist or not? Yeah, I know that you don’t know for sure, but what are you going to guess? Go on, be bold–do unicorns exist or not?

        • Wick Samuel

          we’re not talking about walking around in a fog of uncertainty, we’re talking about starting an investigation with no bias. Honestly following the evidence where it leads.

          Why urge people to start off with a bias? Are you concerned where a non-biased investigation may lead?

        • All that I’ve got is to repeat my previous comment.

          Do you think unicorns exist?

          Mr. X says that he wants to argue that they do. How about now? Now do you think unicorns exist, before you’ve had your conversation?

          There’s a difference between bias and a starting assumption (on which you fall back if the argument fails to convince).

        • Wick Samuel

          you urged people to start with the assumption that God does not exist, then evaluate the evidence with that assumption.

          How is that not circular reasoning?

        • Kodie

          Read it again:

          No, we don’t assume God first. Honest adults start with the null hypothesis, which is that Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion. They follow the evidence where it leads, regardless of whether they like it or not.

          You’re a liar.

        • Pofarmer

          He’s an idiot.

        • Susan

          Kodie:

          You’re a liar.

          Pofarmer:

          He’s an idiot.

          Why not both?

        • Kodie

          I think in that context, he read what Bob wrote and decided to reword it to sound more agenda-tastic. We are evaluating the evidence here! The reason that the null hypothesis sounds like “there is no god” is because “there is nothing” but so many god claims. I am an atheist because I reject/am not convinced by any god claims. If there were no god claims, what would we even call ourselves with respect to the question? When you look for the evidence and someone sticks a bible in front and says “look here first,” that’s dishonest. “There is a god” is seen wrongly to be the null hypothesis because most people are raised in a faith or in a culture of faith (at least in the US). It isn’t uncommon for someone leaving their church for one reason or another, seeking a replacement faith that resonates, never contemplating that there might be no god. We’re inundated with claims, that’s not the same as null. That’s the opposite of null.

        • Susan

          he read what Bob wrote and decided to reword it to sound more agenda-tastic.

          Not our Wick! How dare you accuse him of such a thing? 🙁

        • Susan

          you urged people to start with the assumption that God does not exist, then evaluate the evidence with that assumption

          No. We start with the assumption that there is no reason to accept that something exists unless there is evidence that it exists.

          If you have a claim that something exists, easy, peasy. Provide evidence.

          I know you hate this but you would have to define your claim first. This is standard and has served humanity well when evaluating claims. It is not (as you seem to believe) an atheist conspiracy.

          Then, you would have to provide the sort of evidence that would distinguish your claim from unicorn claims.

          There is no bias. If your claim is real, it should be well-defined and supported with evidence.

        • Wick Samuel

          an a-priori is a bias, end of story.

          We start with the assumption that there is no reason to accept that something exists unless there is evidence that it exists.

          A. you’ll need to justify that a-priori

          B. you’ll need to explain why the a-priori “Gode does exist” is invalid
          C. you’ll need to explain why your circular reasoning is any different than what you are accusing wallace of. You are assuming that the evidence isnt there, you’re making a conclusion before you start any investigation at all.

          proof: remove the assumption that God does not exist from your argument, and the argument collapses.

        • Kodie

          A. Is there a reason to assume something is true without evidence, a priori?

          B. “God does exist” as an a priori claim is invalid because it’s a claim of something with no evidence. Additionally, you’ve decided a priori which god, out of thousands of claims, “does” exist.

          C. Once you assume the positive claim is real without evidence, you only look at arguments that support this conclusion.

          Nobody ever said, and you’re a liar for continuing to insist, that “god does not exist” is anyone’s a priori claim. We’re inundated in a culture that claims a god exists, many different versions of a particular one, but that doesn’t mean that’s the starting point.

        • MNb

          And you have an a-priori bias against Shiva and tooth fairies,

        • MNb

          You are urging people to start with the assumption that Shiva does not exist, then evaluate the evidence with that assumption. If BobS is guilty of circular reasoning, so are you.

        • What Bob actually wrote in the article was, we should start with “Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion.” Which I interpret as, don’t give special treatment to one religion when you’re trying to work out if any of them are true.

          What’s wrong with that? Do you think we should start with the assumption that “Christian supernatural belief is more accurate than that of any other religion”? Why treat Christianity any better than any other religion, when we’re starting on the process of trying to work out if it’s true?

        • Kodie

          What makes you imagine that we are starting an investigation? There are a lot of claims for a lot of different gods and many claims each for what all those gods want. It’s not like this is anyone’s first day on earth. We’ve all heard these claims all our lives.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Wick can’t/won’t even construct a plausible vacuum.

        • MNb

          BobS’ question remains valid. That’s how you treat the claims of other religious folks as well?
          You haven’t showed us.

        • AdamHazzard

          we’re not talking about walking around in a fog of uncertainty, we’re talking about starting an investigation with no bias. Honestly following the evidence where it leads.

          There’s an invisible elision here. Into what are we conducting this investigation? Into the claim that something called “God” exists. In order to “honestly follow the evidence where it leads,” the relevant terms must be defined as rigorously as possible and the pertinent evidence must be presented by those who are making the claim.

          “Starting with no bias” means assuming for the sake of the investigation that the claim may be true.

    • Kodie

      Gross misunderstanding of the null hypothesis. It doesn’t make a positive claim, it is blank. Then we do look at the evidence and see where it leads. Still blank, still no god.

      • Wick Samuel

        In statistical inference on observational data, the null hypothesis refers to a general statement or default position that there is no relationship between two measured phenomena.

        “null hypothesis” has nothing to do with the justification for an a-prior assumption, it’s a term used in statistics.

        ==============
        What Bob is talking about the claim that “God does not exist” is a valid a-priori.

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/A_priori

        A priori (literally “from before”) is a Latin term used in formal logic (and philosophy) to mean a fact that is assumed to be true prior to any empirical research

        • Kodie

          Where did Bob say “God does not exist” is the null hypothesis? He said there is no reason to give the bible any more credit than any other religious doctrine. Where you start is blank. When you have evidence for your god, we can fill in that blank.

          Just because there is no god in the blank doesn’t mean “there is no god” is filled in that blank.

    • Susan

      1. There is no more or less reason to accept that tooth fairies, vampires, ghosts, yetis exists than that Wick’s personal assertion of deity exists until Wick gives us a good reason.

      Wick’s claim is not given the special exemption that Wick wants it to get.

      2. Fallacious reasoning? How about begging the question? Get back to me when you can construct your point without using fallacious reasoning.

      3. If the claims you make about an unevidenced agent are inconsistent with reality, your extra assertion that it “isn’t a vending machine” is dismissed. You have to demonstrate its existence before you expect anyone to accept your extra claim.

      The only rational approach to God Wick’s personal choice of deity is start with no assumptions and follow the evidence where it leads.

      Check.

      • Wick Samuel

        your entire post falls apart logically if your assumption that God does not exist is removed.

        • Kodie

          No it doesn’t.

        • TheNuszAbides

          did it feel righteous to post that? because it’s Not Even Wrong.

    • MNb

      1. Thanks for showing yourself that your example actually is a correct analogy. The point here is that both god and tooth fairies are defined as mythical and/or immaterial entities. Denmark is material. I know, because I walked its ground.

      2. “God doesn’t just go away because someone doesn’t believe in Him.”
      BWAHAHAHAHA!

      Here is a goddess that totally went away exactly because nobody believed in her anymore:

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

      Not to mention all the gods and goddesses that have fallen into oblivion – we don’t even know that people used to believe in them in the past.

      3. As X, Y, Z can be substituted literally by anything we can imagine you just have provided an excellent argument for the non-existence of your god. I agree with you – your god doesn’t interact with our material reality. He can’t. By definition. God is a meaningless concept.

    • 1. This is just inductive reasoning. Supernatural/non-material entities so far postulated have generally been found not to exist, and none has been definitively proven to exist. So it’s reasonable to conclude that, in general, supernatural entities do not exist, and therefore God, being an example of a supernatural entity, does not exist. It’s not a disproof of his existence, but it’s a good reason to be suspicious of the claim.

      2. Who the hell is saying that God will pop into existence if you assemble enough evidence, and will disappear if someone else finds some disproof? This is a weird strawman you have here.

      Either (a) God exists or (b) God does not exist. The only way we have to work out whether (a) or (b) is the case, is to check the evidence and engage in reasoning. If you then reach the point of saying “the evidence doesn’t matter, God exists anyway”, then you have left the community of the sane, and entered into self-delusion.

      3. This is just plain stupid. Don’t you assume that other people will act on certain desires? If you think someone wants to do something, and that they can do it, and then they do not do it, do you change your previous assumptions about them? Or do you say “they’re not a vending machine” and assume actions are entirely unrelated to desires and capabilities?

      If I say that God wants the sky to be green, and that he’s capable of making it green, then aren’t you going to point out that the sky is in fact not green and that this evidence is incompatible with my claims? Or are you going to say that God is not a vending machine, his actions are unrelated to what he wants, and maybe he really does want it to be green but made it blue for no reason?

      “The only rational approach to God, is start with no assumptions and follow the evidence where it leads.”

      I’m happy to do that. From what I’ve seen so far, you are not.

      • “The only rational approach to God, is start with no assumptions and follow the evidence where it leads.”

        I’m happy to have an open mind. I’m happy to consider new arguments for the Christian claims. But at what point will Wick allow us to form a working hypothesis?

        • “But at what point will Wick allow us to form a working hypothesis?”

          Presumably, when we agree with him.

    • RichardSRussell

      If you start with no assumptions at all, how do you know what you’re supposed to be looking for?

      • Wick Samuel

        well, that’s just the point, you’re not supposed to be looking for a particular answer, you’re supposed to be open to going where the evidence leads.

        • Ron

          So where is the empirical evidence in support of this god’s existence? And when can we expect to finally see it?

        • Wick Samuel

          what do you mean by empirical evidence? What evidence would satisfy that requirement?

        • MNb

          As for me: potential victims of natural disasters having nightmares that warn them say two weeks before, on a statistically significant base. When can I expect to finally see this evidence?

        • TheNuszAbides

          wait, are you wanting prophecy to be useful for once? heretic!!

        • Kodie

          This question is a dummy question, your canned response is god doesn’t perform on demand, not a vending machine, etc. Why don’t you provide the evidence that made you a believer and see whether it will convince anyone else?

        • Greg G.

          It depends on the god claim. If the god is supposed to be omnipotent and benevolent, it would require an immediate end to all suffering in the universe and a hell of an explanation for why suffering existed in the past.

          EDIT: In regard to Kodie’s response, I’m not asking for the god to act like a vending machine. I’m asking it to act like a benevolent being with the power to end suffering.

        • Without Malice

          How about some evidence that something – anything at all – in the universe works through supernatural intervention? If you have such evidence, please present it or shut the hell up.

        • Wick Samuel

          Everything that begins to exist has a cause;
          The universe began to exist;
          Therefore:
          The universe has a cause.

        • Hasn’t this argument already been sufficiently jammed back up your ass, where it came from? Or do you want to go through all that over again?

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, Geez, Samuel, let’s say I’m totally open to the evidence for whether doodlyborbs exist. Are you saying that I should settle for anything whatsoever that anybody who walks into the room claims is a doodlyborb, with no pre-conceived ideas at all as to whether it qualifies as a doodlyborb or not? No idea at all what it size or shape or color or any other characteristics should be? That is, a completely amorphous entity with zero anticipated attributes (IE, no assumptions at all as to its nature)?

          Because nobody on Earth actually operates that way, you know.

        • Without Malice

          That’s exactly what we did, Wick. The evidence for God leads nowhere.

    • adam

      “The only rational approach to God, is start with no assumptions and follow the evidence where it leads.”

      It is obviously too late for people like you who have been propagandized and indoctrinated into ‘believing’ the whole bible ‘god’ story.

      You cannot possible start with no assumptions,
      Only those who are not exposed to indoctrination can, and it is religions goals to indoctrinate children as early as possible to get them to accept the PROPAGANDA as true.

    • Greg G.

      The only rational approach to God, is start with no assumptions and follow the evidence where it leads.

      Hooray! You are correct. I made a small correction to show that as a general approach to any question, not just the God question. There is nothing wrong with being consistent.

      Theists have used the same approach to evidence for God to come up all kinds of conflicting concepts for gods. It shows that the method is unreliable because it results in contradiction.

      Atheists use the evidence consistently. The same evidence that doesn’t lead to Zeus, Allah, Shiva, Baal, and divine tree frogs doesn’t lead to God, either.

    • Without Malice

      The trouble, Wick, is that you’re pulling this assumption that we atheists and agnostics are “starting” with the assumption that God does not exist right out of your ass. Most of us have studied this very carefully and for many years before coming to the conclusion that the God of the bible is no more real than the gods of the Greeks or Romans or any other peoples of the earth who have their own deities. I was a Christian for most of my life, and it was only through a thorough study of the scriptures that I concluded that it was all a pile of excrement.

      • Wick Samuel

        1. Atheists like Bob urge people to start with the default assumption that God does not exist.
        2. I hear a great many atheists say that same thing, however, they rarely if ever actually back that up with concrete problems with the scripture. That isnt to say that there arent atheists that have done exactly as you claim, Marcus Borg and Dominick Crossan are two examples, but it is extremely rare.

        • 1. I’ve asked Dr. Samuel over and over again how he does it when confronted with the proposition that Allah is the one true god or someone’s been abducted by aliens or unicorns exist. Weird–he never replies. What a shame–so close to that wisdom and yet the Answer is never given.

          I’m guessing he doesn’t have one.

  • Wick Samuel

    No one would yield to the sovereignty of something before thoroughly evaluating that source, which is exactly what this article was supposed to help us do. But apparently an honest evaluation of the Bible doesn’t give him the advantage that he needs, so Wallace wants to first assume God and then the Bible’s supernatural claims. This is the Hypothetical God fallacy. It’s also circular logic.

    yet, you’re recommending that people first assume God does not exist and on that basis reject the claims of the bible. How is that any less a demonstration of circular reasoning?

    • Kodie

      I don’t know why you imagine that’s how we think.

    • 1. Shiva exists
      2. Shiva doesn’t exist

      Are these 50/50 in your mind? Or do you have a starting point when in a discussion with a Hindu?

      The claims “God exists” and “God doesn’t exist” do not have the same a priori probability. Sure, God could indeed exist, but that’s not what all our prior evidence would suggest.

      • Wick Samuel

        I’m always willing to listen to evidence, it’s irrational to start off with an assumption on the evidence if you’ve not done any investigation, right?

        you’re recommending that people first assume God does not exist and on that basis reject the claims of the bible. How is that any less a demonstration of circular reasoning?

        • It’s closed-minded to start off with a conclusion (which is what Wallace does). However, to avoid every single issue being gray (“Well, that next step might be safe … or it might not be”) we have default hypotheses.

          Those of us who are open minded will change our minds given sufficient evidence–maybe that next step isn’t safe, maybe unicorns actually do exist, and maybe God does, too.

        • Wick Samuel

          please explain the difference between you claim that Wallace starts out with the belief that God does exist, and you starting out with the belief that God does not exist.

          You discount claims of supernatural on the basis that supernatural doesnt happen. You are as equally circular in your logic as you are accusing Wallace of being.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          What could prove Wallace wrong such that he would change his mind? What could prove Bob wrong such that he would change his mind? If you successfully answer that, you’ll have explained the difference.

        • Wick Samuel

          Demonstrate that God does not exist.

          What could prove Bob wrong so that he would change his mind? : Prove that God exists.

          same thing, Bob is accusing wallace of starting off with an a-priori, the problem is Bob himself is doing the exact same thing.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          And how do you demonstrate god does not exist if there is in fact no god?

          For that matter, how do I demonstrate that an invisible elephant does not exist in my garage?

        • Kodie

          No, he isn’t.

        • Warren

          Here’s the thing, though: Given sufficient evidence, I and other rational atheists would change our minds about the existence of the supernatural. All we really need is some unambiguous, well-attested miracle. For example, God could instantly banish all human diseases, or cause all humans to have the exact same dream three nights in a row, or turn the seas into blood (though, obviously, we might not think very highly of him in that case). All are miracles that your God could theoretically accomplish, and all would force us to admit that our scientific understanding of the universe is woefully inadequate (which would line up with God’s ostensible goal of making us receptive to his existence).

          Theists, by contrast, cannot change their minds. You say you want us to demonstrate God’s nonexistence, but there is no argument we can make that you cannot rationalize away. We may both bring assumptions to the table, but yours are completely immune to rational persuasion.

        • adam

          Like this:

        • Wick Samuel

          A. Your belief that you don’t have sufficient evidence is hardly reason to recommend that all people start the investigation with a bias against the existence of God.

          B. So, unless God does what you tell him to do, He doesnt exist? that doesnt make any sense at all as a rational argument.

          C. Theists do change their minds, right? No clue what you are talking about, this patheos blog claims to be FULL of theists who changed their minds.

          The key to error in your logic is the part about “force us to
          that would violate free will. Right?

        • MNb

          A. Your belief that you don’t have sufficient evidence for tooth fairies (remember: I defined them as immaterial entities, so it’s a correct analogy) is according to you hardly reason to recommend all people start the investigation with a bias against the existence of those tooth fairies.
          Still you do.

          B. Believing in a god who remains hidden despite many requests to do so makes even less sense as a rational argument.

          C. As soon as a theist changes his/her mind on “god exists” he/she stops being a theist. A Year without God provides an excellent example.

          “force us to that would violate free will.”
          Right, exactly like gravity robs me from the choice to fall upward iso downward. I have exactly as many problems with that one.

        • Right, exactly like gravity robs me from the choice to fall upward iso downward.

          I’m more frustrated with the fact that God blocks my free will when I want to kill someone with my mind.

          God as a champion of free will? I don’t think so.

        • TheNuszAbides

          oh, Bob, you’re only saying that because He just hasn’t happened to feel the same way about those you wish to kill with your mind!

        • Kodie

          A. Dishonest representation of your opponent’s position.
          B. If god exists, he has no reason to expect us to believe he does.
          C. That’s because they finally recognize the arguments in support of theism to be illogical and unreasonable.

        • The key to error in your logic is the part about “force us to that would violate free will. Right?

          Being proven wrong violates free will? Did Galileo violate the free will of geocentrists?

          What if we actually ask God to provide us with this clear evidence? How does providing the information we want violate free will?

          I’m going to ask you a question that I’ve asked before and which you didn’t answer. Why are you so very confident that God won’t choose to provide clear evidence of his existence if we ask him to?

          You’re sure that God exists. I and others have made clear our willingness to have our minds changed by evidence, so it wouldn’t violate our free will. God wouldn’t have any obligation to provide clear evidence, but that doesn’t mean he won’t do it, and it seems reasonable that he would choose to do it, given the Christian claims about him. There is even Biblical precedent for providing clear evidence. Yet you seem confident that he won’t do it again. Why?

        • Wick Samuel

          What if we actually ask God to provide us with this clear evidence? How does providing the information we want violate free will?

          in general it doesnt, and I DO believe that God provides certain evidence. But that’s not what you said earlier. you wanted “All we really need is some unambiguous, well-attested miracle… all would force us to admit

          you were looking to tell God how to do it. You were establishing the guidelines for what you would and wouldnt accept.

          Willing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart, God so regulates the knowledge of himself that he has given indications of himself which are visible to those who seek him and not to those who do not seek him. There is enough light for those to see who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition. — Blaise Pascal

        • in general it doesnt, and I DO believe that God provides certain evidence. But that’s not what you said earlier. you wanted “All we really need is some unambiguous, well-attested miracle… all would force us to admit

          you were looking to tell God how to do it. You were establishing the guidelines for what you would and wouldnt accept.

          That was Warren, not me, that wrote that, but I agree with it anyway so it doesn’t really matter that much.

          Anyway, “telling God how to do it” is in this case just stating what evidence I would find convincing. Like St Thomas did. Like him, I find the claims of Christianity implausible, but also like him, I’m willing to state what kind of strong evidence would change my mind, just in case I’m wrong.

          So if God was willing to provide this evidence to Thomas, why won’t he provide it for the rest of us who are as skeptical as Thomas? And why is it that you know just as well as I do that the evidence will never be better than ambiguous?

        • Wick Samuel

          He IS willing, but, you also need to understand that He see’s through and knows your motives. Clearly Thomas, who had given up everything to follow jesus was looking for confirmation differently than an atheist committed to naturalism, looking for an excuse.. I can’t judge anyone’s heart, but the bible clearly claims that if you seek after Him, He will be found, and I believe that 100%.

          And why is it that you know just as well as I do that the evidence will never be better than ambiguous?

          absolutely 100% false.
          A. you can’t possibly know, so it’s speculation on your part
          B. I can 100% assure you it was 100% unambiguous in mine, and billions of other Christians cases, and I was born into agnostic family.

        • adam

          “I can’t judge anyone’s heart, but the bible clearly claims that if you
          seek after Him, He will be found, and I believe that 100%.”

          Same is true for any god, or unicorns, fairies and invisible flying pink unicorns.

          If you delude yourself enough you can believe that you have found whatever your wishful thinking drives you to.

        • Clearly Thomas, who had given up everything to follow jesus was looking for confirmation differently than an atheist committed to naturalism, looking for an excuse

          St Paul was very hostile to Christianity. The Israelites in Elijah’s time were committed to the worship of Baal. In both cases, God provided clear evidence despite much stronger hostility than I have ever shown. Why is hostility now a barrier to God providing clear evidence, when it wasn’t in these previous cases?

          I can’t judge anyone’s heart, but the bible clearly claims that if you seek after Him, He will be found, and I believe that 100%.

          Don’t you find it odd that those who seek after him seem to be clustered in particular locations and time periods? Where are all the pre-contact aboriginal converts?

          In my case I am seeking him by seeking evidence of his existence. I’m not willing to risk fooling myself, so I want the evidence to be very clear and unambiguous, and I don’t see why this should be a barrier to an omnipotent god.

          absolutely 100% false.
          A. you can’t possibly know, so it’s speculation on your part
          B. I can 100% assure you it was 100% unambiguous in mine, and billions of other Christians cases, and I was born into agnostic family.

          As unambiguous as the evidence in the Biblical cases I’ve mentioned?

          As for the “billions of other Christians cases”, you would presumably admit that most of them believe in Christianity for the same reasons that most Muslims and Hindus follow their religions; they are simply following the religion of their family, or surrounding culture, or a religion that they admire. Evidence doesn’t come into it.

          When in a previous discussion I suggested repeating the test of Elijah, you seemed fairly sure that it wouldn’t work, and tried to justify why it wouldn’t. Do you now believe that it would work?

        • adam

          “Why is hostility now a barrier to God providing clear evidence, when it wasn’t in these previous cases?”

          Because theist cant find a better EXCUSE for why their ‘god’ is absent from reality and only exists as a delusion.

        • Geena Safire

          Wick Samuel, I have had transcendent, unitive experiences of the presence of God in timelessness — and I knew in the deepest way of knowing that I know how to know anything that these experiences were real and true and how I understood them was the only way they could be understood. It was 100% unambiguous. God was more real to me than oxygen.

          And then I studied psychology and neuroscience and neurotheology. I learned to be skeptical of my own brain. Brains can misfire in all kinds of ways.

          Learning and feelings and confidence and belief and knowledge are brain states and functions. We can “learn” things that are incorrect, and we can “feel” things that are inappropriate and we can “believe” things that are wrong and can “know” things that are false.

          People with anorexia “know” their bodies are overweight, despite evidence that they are not.

          People with schizophrenia are unable to recognize that the voices in their heads are their own thoughts, and often unable to recognize that they did things for which there is evidence they have done.

          Stalkers often are truly convinced that the object of their obsession reciprocates their feelings.

          These are more extreme cases, but most people have many situations in their lives where their strongly-held beliefs or feelings are incorrect.

          People can have a misfiring of the “familiarity” feeling in a strange place and incorrectly “feel” like they have been there before. (deja vu)

          People can be absolutely sure they put their keys in a certain drawer, but they turn out to be on the counter.

          In my case, I had “unitive experiences.”

          The eight common features of a unitive experience are:
          – the experience of unity between the subject and the universe;
          – certainty of the knowledge obtained;
          – transcendence of space and time; a feeling of sacredness;
          – paradoxically in terms of ordinary thinking;
          – ineffability;
          – transciency;
          – lasting positive changes in attitude and behavior as a result of the experience.

          I had those experiences, I felt those feelings, I knew that certainty. And I believed I had experienced God, because other people who have had such experiences have believed that and passed down that interpretation.

          But that doesn’t mean that their interpretation was “true.” That doesn’t mean that “God exists.”

          It is more likely that it means that my temporal lobe misfired a few times.

        • TheNuszAbides

          – and I knew in the deepest way of knowing that I know how to know anything that these experiences were real and true

          too bad Wick can’t/won’t let things be other than perfectly simple and straightforward when it doesn’t suit him.

        • Kodie

          Atheists aren’t committed to naturalism. It is the only reliable method any of us have, unless you can demonstrate a better one. We’re open to it, just know we’re not holding our breath for some new and amazing evidence never before shared. You have 100% unambiguous evidence for god, but you instead take us on a tour of terrible arguments and lies to misrepresent your opponent’s position. If you had anything better than that, you would show it to us.

        • davewarnock

          lotta 100%’s here. wow! I say go for 110% now and then. Like the athlete who was “giving 110% out there!”.

        • Greg G.

          I can’t judge anyone’s heart, but the bible clearly claims that if you
          seek after Him, He will be found, and I believe that 100%.

          Been there, done that. I am an ex-Christian. I was on fire for the Lord. I tried very hard to maintain my faith. He was found lacking. Your belief is 100% wrong.

          We know that the evidence will always be ambiguous because God is defined to be evidence-proof. What you take as unambiguous evidence is the same feelings every other religious person feels as unambiguous evidence of their own faiths. That means your evidence is ambiguous.

        • Wick Samuel

          A. you can’t possibly know the nature of my belief
          B. God is most assuredly NOT evidence proof, examples throughout the bible, and personal testimonies like mine abound.
          C. faith isnt something that can be developed on your own, it is a gift.

        • adam

          A. Didnt you say that YOU believe the bible is the word of your ‘god’?
          B. Of course YOUR ‘god’ is NOT evidence proof, otherwise YOUR ‘god’ would be a science instead of a superstition, the bible is a book of mythology, and personal testimonies are not necessarily evidence of anything, but they can be evidence of delusion.
          C. Certainly DELUSION can be developed on your own or can be propagandized and indoctrinated into you.

          So why are YOU so AFRAID of making public the ‘nature’ of your belief, is it really that UNBELIEVABLE and UNSUPPORTABLE?

        • MNb

          “A. you can’t possibly know the nature of my belief”
          Are you such a pathetic liar that you even lie about that? You wrote “I have faith in God”. Assuming that you don’t lie that tells us a lot about the nature of your belief. You brought up fine-tuning and the cosmological argument. That tells us a lot more. You answer the Problem of Evil with free will and neglect natural disasters. You claimed that your god exists independently of any argument. So yes, we actually do know many things about the nature of your belief.

        • Greg G.

          A. I can’t possibly know your social security number either but I’m pretty certain that it has nine digits. Uncanny, right? You pay attention to the differences between your story and the stories told by others but the fallacies at the core tend to be similar.

          B. Your claim of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being is contradicted by the existence of unnecessary suffering and all suffering is unnecessary under an omnipotent being when you really think about the implications of the word. Dentistry has improved over the last four decades to reduce suffering due to tooth issues so there is no logical reason an omnipotent being couldn’t have done that a thousand years ago.

          C. Today you say “faith isnt something that can be developed on your own, it is a gift” as a response to my response to “bible clearly claims that if you seek after Him, He will be found”. You are contradicting what you said you believed 100%. That is the problem with apologetics. You need one to allay the anxiety of an uncomfortable statement or two in the Bible to maintain your belief that the Bible is correct. You need another apologetic to allay a different problem. Your cognitive dissonance can be eased but when your apologetics contradict one another, then the Bible is back in conflict with itself. With my challenge in B, you reduce the meaning of “omnipotence” to “not completely omnipotent” but still sant to believe it still means omnipotent. How flexible does your belief structure have to be to maintain itself when it is supposed to be absolute?

        • Wick Samuel

          you would have to demonstrate that gratuitous suffering exists for the POE argument to work.

          see fall of man, no tooth decay in Eden.

          Biblical faith is “believing that God will do what He says, believing that God exists”. You cant develop that apart from God, if you pursue Him He promises to reveal Himself.

        • Philmonomer

          Biblical faith is “believing that God will do what He says, believing that God exists”. You cant develop that apart from God, if you pursue Him He promises to reveal Himself.

          You’ve said this, or something similar, repeatedly before. For lots and lots of people, it simply isn’t true:

          http://clergyproject.org/

        • MNb

          And again we know a bit more about the nature of your belief.

        • Greg G.

          you would have to demonstrate that gratuitous suffering exists for the POE argument to work.

          No, you have to show that no suffering has ever existed. If there is an omnipotent being, all suffering is unnecessary and, therefore, gratuitous. An omnipotence could do a million miracles a second for everybody to prevent all suffering or more, if necessary, as easily as not doing them. To say that there can be “necessary suffering” is to say that your god isn’t powerful enough to achieve his wishes without the suffering, which is to say that he is not omnipotent.

          I am not arguing the POE. I am arguing the Problem of Suffering. Your arguments against the POE don’t apply.

          This is not an argument that there is no omnipotent being as the OB could be an omnipotent sadist. There are lots of sufficiently benevolent beings who would end all suffering if they were sufficiently powerful. We call them friends and neighbors.

          This existence of suffering proves that there is no benevolent being who is sufficiently powerful enough to prevent suffering. That necessarily eliminates all benevolent omnipotent beings.

          The “fall of man” is a theological excuse for the absence of God.

          Biblical faith is “believing that God will do what He says, believing that God exists”. You cant develop that apart from God, if you pursue Him He promises to reveal Himself.

          Have you discussed this with WaterOnMars? That person says that faith in God is no different than faith in a person. I keep insisting that is a conflation of two meanings of the word “faith”. Biblical faith is a delusion. It is belief without sufficient evidence.

        • Wick Samuel

          suffering isnt incompatible with God, only gratuitous suffering is incompatible.
          biblical faith is always based on something God does, always.

        • Greg G.

          All suffering is gratuitous with an omnipotent being. The word “omnipotent” means “all-powerful” which means there would be the power to make all suffering unnecessary which means all suffering would then be gratuitous.

          An omnipotent being could do anything, anything at all, with or without suffering. If the omnipotent being did something with suffering, then the suffering is gratuitous. The omnipotent being would have chosen to make a sentient being suffer unnecessarily. That would be sadistic. Sadism is not benevolence.

        • TheNuszAbides

          somehow i doubt he is in any way inclined to entertain the notion that there is no Necessary Suffering.

        • adam

          No, biblical ‘faith’ is based on wishful thinking.

        • But you can guarantee to us that there is no gratuitous suffering? Not from a baby born with some defect that puts its parents through two months of agony before it dies? Not when Bambi is injured and dies of starvation after a week in the forest?

        • Can you provide any examples of what you would consider “gratuitous suffering”?

        • Wick Samuel

          well, that’s just the thing, given our limited field of vision regarding it, we cant possibly know what is gratuitous suffering.

        • MNb

          Then it’s meaningless to talk about it and

          “only gratuitous suffering is incompatible with God”
          is an empty statement. You will have to show instead how all suffering is compatible with god. You brought up the free will defense, which failed because
          a) it only talks about the free will of the offenders, not about the free will of the victims;
          b) you have no idea, as you admitted yourself, how this plays out in Heaven;
          c) free will doesn’t address natural disasters.

          So the Problem of Evil stands tall as a serious objection against monotheism.

        • So doesn’t your belief that there is no gratuitous suffering amount to a statement of blind faith?

          I expect you’ll agree that there certainly appears to be gratuitous suffering. You haven’t given any reason to believe that it is not gratuitous suffering. You can’t say what gratuitous suffering looks like, to allow us to tell the difference between gratuitous suffering and the suffering we observe occurring.

          So doesn’t your claim reduce to “I don’t know why suffering happens, but I’m sure God has his reasons”?

        • A small addition: some Christians will say that learning compassion (or some other lesson) the hard way is better than learning the lesson intellectually. That is, feeling/experiencing it is better than simply knowing the lesson to be true.

          But your point applies here as well. Whatever brain state God wants (including “OMG I totally understand compassion now after that powerful experience!”) is achievable by him. Unless he doesn’t exist with the properties claimed by Christians, of course.

        • Greg G.

          “if you pursue Him He promises to reveal Himself.”

          I bet the other Boy Scouts had fun with you going on those snipe hunts.

        • Ask Wick if he ever found that left-handed smoke shifter. When I asked around, everybody seemed to have right-handed ones.

        • Greg G.

          I fell for that one on my first camping trip. It was probably before left-handed smoke-shifters were invented.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, I would try to list all of Wick’s unevidenced positions, but it would probably be longer than this comment thread. Dude is a credulous moron.

        • adam

          Funny how you deny what the bible says ‘biblical faith’ is:

        • if you pursue Him He promises to reveal Himself.

          Guess he’s a liar then.

          You can find within the atheist community loads of people who’ll say that they left the faith kicking and screaming. They desperately wanted to believe. They begged God to support their faith. All they got was silence on the other end of the line.

          Look up Julia Sweeney’s “Letting Go of God” for an example.

        • Without Malice

          “if you pursue Him He promises to reveal Himself.” Uh huh, and if you pursue him and he doesn’t reveal himself than you weren’t pursuing him hard enough; right? And if he reveals himself as something other than what you believe then the pursuer has been hood-winked by Satan; right? Please spare us the circular reasoning bull shit. If your God had the attributes you ascribe to him: all-knowing, all-powerful, etc. etc., then there is no way his creation could have turned out any other way than he intended. It’s just not logically possible for anything in a world created by an all-knowing and all-powerful being to happen if it is not in accordance with his will. Therefore everything bad that would ever happen in this world has your God’s stamp of approval.

        • Wick Samuel

          then there is no way his creation could have turned out any other way than he intended.

          If God created robots that just did whatever He wanted them to, then I would agree with you. But, He didn’t, He created humans with the ability to reject Him, possessing free will.

        • Without Malice

          Please, Wick, try to think above the level of a first grader. If your God can do anything then it would have been very easy for his to make man with both free will and the intelligence and moral uprightness to choose not to sin. Do you think you will be a mindless robot in heaven? Do you think you will sin in heaven? Since all men on earth sin, whether believers or not, then it only stands to reason that all men will, if they retain their free will, sin in heaven. The only thing that will stop them from sinning in heaven as they do on earth is that God will supposedly change them into a new kind of man, one that does not sin. So all your God had to do to keep men from sinning on this earth is to had made them in the beginning to be the same way they will be in heaven. I know it probably makes your head hurt to think like this, but do give it a try.

        • Wick Samuel

          you mean, make humans so they would do exactly what God wanted them to, IOW, robots.

          I have no idea if it’s possible to sin in heaven or not, the bible doesnt say anything about that.

        • You’re imagining a heaven where we have both free will and wisdom to use it wisely and not sin.

          Well, yeah, I see your point that God could give us that wisdom to properly use free will here on earth, but what would be the fun in that?

        • B. God is most assuredly NOT evidence proof, examples throughout the bible, and personal testimonies like mine abound.

          The topic is less evidence you provide for us; rather, would you reject your faith if the evidence turned against you?

          C. faith isnt something that can be developed on your own, it is a gift.

          Sucks to be me then, eh? Spare me a thought or two a trillion years from now when I get turned over to roast on the other side.

          Thank you Jesus, may I have another?!

        • B. God is most assuredly NOT evidence proof, examples throughout the bible,

          That’s my point! The Bible depicts God as willing to provide convincing, undeniable proof of his existence. Sometimes to people who were openly hostile (eg St Paul). So why doesn’t he do so today, to the billions of people who would be convinced by it?

          …and personal testimonies like mine abound.

          Just as they abound among the followers of many other religions, and believers of all manner of crazy ideas.

          There are people in the world who sincerely believe that they have been abducted by aliens, and can describe these experiences in detail. They can even provide circumstantial physical evidence in some cases (eg bodily marks which they claim are the result of alien surgery). They claim, and seem to really believe, that they have seen convincing evidence of aliens visiting Earth. And as a bonus, alien abductions don’t contradict any naturalistic bias you may think I have. What makes your personal testimony any more reliable than theirs? If they can be mistaken despite their experiences, how can you be sure that you are not?

        • So God’s a trickster? Whether we get paradise or hell is in the hands of a God who makes the rules obtuse?

          What an asshole.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, that’s your imagination working. That’s propaganda.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s almost too generous to label it imagination. or even ‘his’.

        • Without Malice

          And just how would God providing better evidence for his own existence violate free will? The idea that it does is idiotic and makes the miracles of Jesus that he did to show that he was the messiah a violation of man’s free will.

        • Damn it! I was all fat ‘n sassy thinking that you didn’t exist. And now you come and ruin it for me!

          Thanks for violating my free will to not believe you exist, bro.

        • Greg G.

          Knock, knock.

          Visitors: Hi, we’re the Baptists from the church down the street and we’d like to talk to you about God.

          Me: Dammit! Now I live in a deterministic universe.

        • Dan N

          A. Your belief that you don’t have sufficient evidence is hardly reason
          to recommend that all people start the investigation with a bias against
          the existence of God.

          Actually, yes it does. Just replace “God” with any concept without sufficient, relevant evidence, like leprechauns (or unicorns, Zeus, the angel Moroni, Shiva, aliens who experiment on humans…), and a reasonable person would likely believe that this concept does not exist, BUT would welcome the person making the claim to provide that evidence and conclusion in a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal that is open for others to respond to.

        • TheNuszAbides

          to recommend that all people start the investigation with a bias against the existence of God.

          okay. we get it. this [mostly-strawman] terrifies you, or is at least unthinkable in the sense that it is essentially at odds with Having Faith.
          best to just walk away, then. your attempts to frame the post as fallacious or ‘vulnerable when you remove the denial of God’s existence’ are just so many incoherent and inconsistent flailings, and you alternately can’t and won’t address numerous ways in which several people have pointed this out to you. start demonstrating comprehension or shoo.

          would it help to suggest that the only people your words are comforting are yourself and those even more poorly informed (or less disingenuous) than yourself?

        • Without Malice

          Sufficient evidence? Wick, there is absolutely no evidence.

        • Without Malice

          Hell, all it would have taken to turn all the world into Christian was for Jesus to stick around. But, it was more important for him to get back up into heaven with his sky daddy and leave the world in as big a mess as it was before he came along.

        • Kodie

          I notice that you’re not defending yourself against my assertion that you’re a liar. Noted.

        • MNb

          I already demonstrated that no god exists, so this is a silly request. It’s also irrelevant.

          “the problem is Bob himself is doing the exact same thing.”

          Above I explained that this is a false accusation. You’re a dumb liar.

        • Greg G.

          I have shown you over and over that the existence of suffering proves there is no being that is both omnipotent and benevolent. You respond that suffering might be necessary but would only prove that there is no being powerful enough to make do without the suffering which is incompatible with the omnipotence claim.

          Suffering cannot be necessary for an omnipotent being. Your concept of god is irrational. You may as well become an atheist.

        • Without Malice

          We don’t have to “prove” that your God (you already disbelieve in all Gods but your own) exists. We merely have to realize the obvious: that there is not one shred of evidence that points to the existence of a supernatural being that you might call God. And no, Wick, some old book filled with fables, old wives tales, myths, and lies does not count as evidence; anymore than the story of Joseph Smith finding a golden book and translating it with the help of magic glasses counts as evidence.

        • Philmonomer

          You discount claims of supernatural on the basis that supernatural doesnt happen

          No. It is based on the fact that the evidence isn’t very good.

          You are as equally circular in your logic as you are accusing Wallace of being.

          You start out from the basis that Zeus doesn’t exist, Quetzalcoatl doesn’t exist, the God that Muslims worship doesn’t exist, etc. The default position is to believe that no God exists, and then evaluate the evidence presented for a God.

        • It’s the same as you listening to a Muslim explain his beliefs even though you enter the conversation with the assumption (not unchangeable, since we assume you’re open minded) that he’s wrong. If he provides evidence that isn’t overwhelming, do you then move Islam from the False to the Maybe pile?

        • Wick Samuel

          red herring

          The issue is, does one START the investigation with a bias against? Is it rational to start off with the assumption that God doesnt exist.
          yes or no?

        • Greg G.

          You start without the assumption that God exists. That is what an atheist is – someone who doesn’t assume the existence of any gods.

        • Wick Samuel

          no, the honest person starts with no a-priori regarding the existence or non existence.

          That is one of the fundamental issues when it comes to atheism, and why bob is asking that that bias be part of all investigations. Without that presumption of naturalism, the atheist argument falls apart.

        • Greg G.

          no, the honest person starts with no a-priori regarding the existence or non existence.

          That’s what “You start without the assumption that God exists” means.

          The fundamental issue, the only issue, of atheism is the insufficient evidence for any gods.

          The issue is where the evidence leads. If evidence leads to it, it is natural. That is why there is no evidence for gods. But that is not the atheist’s fault. Theists define their deities to be immune from evidence just to prevent them from being disproved.

          You define your god as being omnipotent and benevolent but the existence of suffering precludes the existence of that deity so there is no sense in appealing to evidence.

        • adam

        • Geena Safire

          No. If one wants to believe as many true things as possible and as few false things as possible…

          — because one is more likely to make better decisions if one believes things that are true —

          …then if any truth claim is presented, the best position is the skeptical position, which is to not believe a claim is true until sufficient evidence is presented.

          Just because I start with not believing something is true until there is sufficient evidence…

          …that does not mean that I am assuming it is false.

          If you claimed that a jar has an even number of gumballs, my starting position (without evidence) is to not believe you.

          But — and this is the important point — this does not mean that I am assuming that the number of gumballs is odd.

          Until I consider the evidence, I am not assuming either an odd number or an even number. I do not start with a belief either way.

          Believing in the existence of nature is the default position.

          The position of naturalism is a conclusion based on considering the evidence for a supernatural entity or force in addition to nature.

        • Wick Samuel

          Believing in the existence of nature is the default position.
          The position of naturalism is a conclusion based on considering the evidence for a supernatural entity or force in addition to nature.

          A. “existence of nature is the default position” isnt a statement that means anything, unless of course by sleight of hand you are saying “naturalism” is the default 🙂
          B. what is your evidence against “supernatural entity or force in addition to nature”

          what you’ll see, is that your evidence against, is all based on your assumption that naturalism is true. Remove that assumption and you have no evidence..

        • Geena Safire

          You misunderstood what I was saying.

          I wasn’t saying one thing.

          I was saying two things. I’ll number them this time. Maybe that will help.

          (1) Belief in the existence of nature is the default position.

          We all* believe that the world exists. The Earth exists. I exist. The moon exists. Plants exist. The oceans exist. Atoms exist. Stars exist. Water exists. Clouds exist. Mountains exist. Etc.

          Nature exists.

          We all* agree that the world exists. Therefore, we can say that believing in the existence of nature is a default position.**

          (2) In addition to the default position that nature exists, one may also have an opinion regarding the existence of one or more “supernatural” entities or forces.

          (a) If one believes a God or one or more other supernatural entities exists, then one is a theist or a spiritualist or a supernaturalist of some type. This person also still believes in the natural world.

          (b) If one has considered supernatural claims and has reached the conclusion/opinion that there is not sufficient evidence to believe in them, then one is a naturalist. This person also still believes in the natural world.

          There is a difference between saying

          (1) “Nature exists. We agree nature exists. We can agree that the existence of nature is a default position.”

          and

          (2) Either (a) I believe God or spirits or other supernatural things exists in addition to nature. or (b) I do not believe God or spirits or other supernatural things exist in addition to nature.

          *except for solipsists

          **technically, we cannot disprove hard solipsism

        • Wick Samuel

          Virtually everyone believes the natural world exists, so saying “default position” CLEARLY flags this as an attempt to make naturalism the assumption by insinuation. Saying “We can agree that the existence of nature is a default position” in this discussion is about as relevant as saying “we can agree that purple is a color is the default position”.

          That the natural world exists says nothing about the claim that ONLY the natural world exists.
          In fact, KCA shows that the existence of the natural world demonstrates the existence of the non-natural.

        • Kodie

          It seems you would rather ignore explanations and fight a strawman. You’re intellectually dishonest, and the only way you can win is to lie. You know this, we know this. Everyone has explained to you many times in many ways. You’re paranoid thinking that the agreement that nature exists is an attempt to claim that only nature exists. If your starting point is to allow supernatural claims to be true, then all of them must be true until you can prove them all false as well as prove your own true belief is true. You don’t believe all supernatural claims, do you? How good can you feel about yourself in the eyes of your god that you have to ignore corrections to your argument and persist with this lie?

        • Geena Safire

          We are getting closer to an understanding here, WS. Hang in there! We’re close!

          There is a difference between saying “the natural world exists” and “only the natural world exists.”

          You and I agree on this. They are different. Different Different Different.

          I am not trying to say they are the same. I have been trying over and over again to say they are Different.

          I have been trying to get you to understand that I understand that they are Different. And I understand that you understand that that they are Different. Different Different Different.

          And I completely agree with you that the first statement”the natural world exists” does not mean that “only the natural world exists”, just as it does not mean that “more than the natural world exists.”

          The first statement — as the default position — is very relevant to this discussion.
          In fact, I think it is one of the important sources of much of the argument on this page.

          I think many other people (clearly not all) are trying to say to you, “It is reasonable to take as the default position that the natural world exists.”

          But I think you are misinterpreting what some of them are saying. I think you are thinking that they are saying or implying or sneaking in the word “only” into what they are saying.

        • davewarnock

          “We are getting closer to an understanding here”

          Geena, Wick doesn’t want to understand. He wants to argue. He’s dishonest and only wants to proselytize.

        • Geena Safire

          With respect, Dave, I disagree. I think Wick Samuel is a sincere believer and that he is acting on these sincere beliefs. I think his faith is important to him and he experiences his faith at a deep level, that it is fundamentally true to him and his life and his sense of himself and of reality.

          He has also been taught that it is a good thing to defend the faith and taught that non-believers, especially those who defend non-belief, are being influenced by the power of darkness, who is the also the great deceiver and prince of lies, so he acts with the zeal of a warrior and presumes we intend to trick him when we think we are trying to clarify things.

          I also think he does not have a lot of experience in critical thinking or philosophy. I think he is reasonably intelligent, and in factual areas he is willing to acknowledge errors and learn. But because he believes so fervently that the evil one is behind us and trying to trick both us and him, he is sure that there are lies or insinuations or tricks behind our words, so he is not free to think logically in some of these areas. Also, his faith has many ideas that are paradoxical, such as the Trinity, so some ideas that bother us as being conflicting don’t bother him as we expect they would.

          He is also relying a lot on what others have said/written, like William Lane Craig, which for him must be obviously true, especially when stated in such factual ways. This is a particular problem with him because he two behaviors I see as issues: he has a selective memory in that he remembers very well new ideas that fit in with his belief system (while others are filtered out as “unthinkable”), and he is not convinced that logical thinking is good in itself but only to the extent that it serves him in defending his beliefs. He is also taught that suffering persecution for his faith is a blessing, so ridicule is counter-productive.

          I have no need or desire to refute the existence of God per se, even though I no longer believe in God as I previously understood God. God may or may not exist in a way not now known to me. However, I do support people developing critical thinking skills with the goal of better success in life and better relations between people, regardless of their life stance.

          Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

        • davewarnock

          I appreciate your thoughtful response; and I agree that he is most likely a sincere believer. It’s too bad he doesn’t articulate thoughtful responses in like manner. He seems to rely on stock answers that the evangelical apologetics machine has churned out. I watched you try (in vain) to get him to understand that his basic argument was flawed and he seemed incapable or unwilling to simply address it; which I why I said what I did. He kept trying to assert that assumptions were being made that no one was making

        • The meme is strong in this one.

        • Kodie

          A. How could that not mean anything? Do you exist, do things exist? Can you sense the existence of natural things in the world? Can we agree this is the unbiased starting point?

        • Without Malice

          What is your evidence against “supernatural entity or force in addition to nature?” Uh . . . how about this: that mankind has discovered a tremendous amount of facts pertaining to the workings of the universe and that none – and I mean absolutely zero – of those facts point to a supernatural entity being required for the universe to work.
          As to your “fine tuning” argument; it is totally bogus. Given the initial conditions of the Big Bang everything we see in the universe, from galaxies to black holes to planets and to life itself, was baked into the cake from the beginning of time. Given the initial conditions of the Big Bang there is simply no reason to expect any other outcome. And even if the initial conditions had been different there is still no reason to think that the universe would have not evolved much as it has but maybe with slightly different laws of nature that could still have resulted in intelligent life. All the so-called probability studies that seem to point to “fine tuning” are nothing but pure bull shit.

        • Kodie

          The honest person wouldn’t continue to misrepresent his opponent’s position, nor his own.

        • adam

          “The honest person”

          This is the key…

        • Geena Safire

          There is not the presumption of naturalism.

          There is, first, the acknowledgement that the natural world exists. The world exists. We exist. The stars exist. Plants grow. Germ-theory of disease. Yadda yadda.

          This is not a presumption. It is a conclusion based on the evidence of the world around us and study of it.

          However, except for solipsists and presuppositionalists, people generally consider that conclusion to be evident with sufficient evidence to be considered true. The natural world exists.

          If a theist wants to add the claim that, in addition to the natural world, a God exists, then that person bears the burden of proof to provide evidence for that claim.

          If a person has considered God claims and has found them not to be supported with sufficient evidence to believe them, then that person reaches a conclusion of naturalism.

        • MNb

          Well, do you START your investigation which god(s) to believe in with a bias against? Is it rational to start off with the assumption that muslims are wrong about their god?

        • Geena Safire

          There is a difference between “not believing something is the case” and “believing something is not the case.”

          A thought experiment:

          You tell me you think the number of gum balls in a big jar is even.

          I would say, “I don’t believe that .”

          You might say, “Hey, are you starting with an a priori belief that the number is odd?!”

          I would say, “No, I don’t believe that either. The default position regarding a claim is to not believe it until there is sufficient evidence. I’m not saying ‘I believe the number is not even.’ I’m saying, ‘I do not believe, until there is evidence, your claim that the number is even.”

          The default position, regarding a claim, is not to believe it. That is not the same as believing the claim is false.

          The first is not having a belief. The second is having a belief.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i think this is the chief hurdle for Wick to get over. it did look like some form of progress when he acknowledged a distinction between atheism and atheist.

        • Wick Samuel

          thought experiment: what’s your basis for not believing number of gum balls in a big jar is even?

          semantically there is a difference between “not believing something is the case” and “believing something is not the case.”, but in practice both start out with the assumption (belief without proof) that something is false.

          right?

          you should have said

          You tell me you think the number of gum balls in a big jar is even.

          I would say, “I don’t have a belief one way or the other .”

          The default position regarding a claim is to adopt no view on it until there is sufficient evidence to do so, one way or the other.

        • Geena Safire

          My reply has two parts, one at a meta level (you are acting like a petulant whiner) and one at a topical level (you are factually wrong).

          (1) Meta

          Here, Wick Samuel, is the heart of one of your challenges in communication: You do not get to dictate to other people how they express themselves.

          you should have said

          You may wish language itself required people to be precise. Reality has not granted you that wish.

          You may wish that people were required to expressed themselves in ways that were more clear to you. Reality has not granted you that wish.

          You may wish that you could tell people how they should express themselves so that their meaning was more clear to you and that they would comply. Reality has not granted you that wish.

          It is not the fault of other people that you want things a certain way and you cannot get them. It is the way the world is. Since you believe in God, you could consider it God’s ‘fault’.

          There’s a word for complaining that people won’t say things in the way that you want them to say them. It’s called “whining.” There’s a word for a person who complains that people won’t say things in the way that you want. It’s called “petulant.”

          Being petulant and whining are acceptable qualities of a child who has not learned to cope with her emotions, especially her frustration with the difference between her desires and reality. They are not acceptable qualities of a mature adult.

          The actual way mature adults deal with each other when discussing a topic and they seem to use words in different ways is to ask questions and request clarifications in order to better understand each other.

          Language should be used as a tool to better understand each other, even if they have disagreements on the topic at hand, not as a weapon.

          (2) Topical

          Belief: an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
          Believe: to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something.

          semantically there is a difference between “not believing something is
          the case” and “believing something is not the case.”, but in practice
          both start out with the assumption (belief without proof) that something
          is false.

          You are wrong. This is an important point, Wick Samuel. I would very much appreciate if you pay close attention. If you are still not clear about this, after reading this comment, let’s continue to discuss it, please.

          “Not believing something is true” is not the same as “Believing something is false.”

          Here’s a simple example that might help you to understand:
          Does an infant believe France is a country? No. She does not have that belief. She does not believe that France is a country.

          Does that mean that she is “starting out with the assumption” that France is not a country? No.

          The default position with regard to any claim is not to believe it, is to not have that belief. A belief is something one reaches.

          A belief is something you do not have until the point at which you have it.

          With regard to the number of gumballs in the jar, it is completely correct for me to say, “I do not believe that the number is even.” This does not mean that I believe the number is odd. It means that I do not have the belief that the number is even. If I do not have that belief then, with respect to that claim, I do not believe it.

        • MNb

          The other issue is, is it ration to start off with the assumption that there is no invisible elephant?
          Yes or no?
          Labeling this a false analogy DOES show bias, especially if you argue that the evidence for god and for the invisible elephant is not the same. You only can say that AFTER investigation. Hence as an argument it is special pleading, ie a logical fallacy, when used for a different starting point of your investigation of god.

        • Kodie

          How many people do you really think are starting with an assumption that there isn’t a god, given our culture?

          Wallace says he lets the bible tell him what to think because it’s the bible. He can’t dare to read it from the position of no opinion either way. Theists are always telling us that we don’t “get” the bible because we have to believe it first and then read it, put ourselves in a state of mind to receive the message and not simply read the text and freely analyze what it actually says, and whether it matches the claims made by Christians.

        • MNb

          That wouldn’t be if BobS recommends that, but he doesn’t. You’re bearing false witness. Go repent, if you’re a christian indeed.

        • Guest

          So, what’s your evidence that the Christian god exists and that Shiva does not exist?

        • Carol Lynn

          Isn’t the starting point of the discussion the neutral position – “God may or may not exist.” One needs to look at the evidence for either position and go on from there. If the primary evidence for god is, ‘I have a book and it says god exists’ – which can apply equally to Shiva or Zeus or Eru as to Yahweh – I don’t even see how that’s useful as evidence for any god at all. Are you familiar with the concept of fiction?

        • TheNuszAbides

          meh, there are too many other things (besides “it says god exists”) he can claim (truthfully or otherwise, emotionally or otherwise, relevantly or otherwise) about the bible or its contents for that to sink in.

        • davewarnock

          “I’m always willing to listen to evidence”

          …as am I. Ok, so let’s listen to your evidence for the existence of the Christian God. (Biblical references do NOT count as evidence).

          Ok, ready, set, go.

        • Wick Samuel

          Origin of the universe
          origin of life on earth
          fine tuning of the universe
          existence of choice (non-determinism)
          objective morality
          historicity of the Jewish nation
          historicity of Jesus
          resurrection as the best explanation for the origin of the disciples belief

        • adam

          Since you have not demonstrated ANY of these, why should they count as YOUR ‘evidence’?

          So what is the origin of YOUR ‘god’?
          Where did YOUR ‘god’ get it’s knowledge and INTELLIGENCE to do as you claim and ‘create’

          And IF YOUR ‘god’ is so intelligent and loving, why support things like SLAVERY and RAPE.

        • davewarnock

          1, 2, and 3 are not evidence of any deity- much less the existence of your favorite deity. Just because one doesn’t have the answer to origins, one doesn’t get to conclude that their preferred God did it. Your only “evidence” that Jehovah God is the creator is the Bible. Doesn’t count. Sorry.

          Existence of choice as evidence of God??? Wow. That’s all I can say about that. Wow.

          The Judeo-Christian tradition has never demonstrated what any rational human can consider objective morality. It’s more like “god-dictated morality”. If God says its ok to slaughter a people group, then by golly it must be ok, and my moral compass must be broken. Nuh uh. Doesn’t sell here.

          Historicity of the Jewish nation and Jesus is NOT evidence of any deity or God. Jewish nation existed. So what? Jesus existed. So what?

          resurrection is “best explanation”
          That’s evidence? again…wow.

          This is all pretty weak. No, it’s very weak.

          I know I’m wasting my time here with you, but truly inquisitive minds might be watching- so I have indulged you.

        • Wick Samuel

          In general, just saying “no” is typically never viewed as a refutation, rather it’s a demonstration that the person simply is unwilling to engage with the argument.
          ===
          1, 2, 3 indeed DO demonstrate that a creator exists.
          This is not God of the Gaps reasoning, for example, scientists have accepted that the universe had an origin and didnt create itself and are looking for non-natural causes (multi-verse). Their is a recognition that the universe cant explain itself.

          ===

          The Judeo-Christian tradition has never demonstrated what any rational human can consider objective morality

          That’s not the definition of objective morality.

          ===

          how do you explain choice? or do you buy into the view held by so many scholarly atheists that choice is an illusion?

          ===

          you have to look at the nature of that existence.
          ===

          resurrection is “best explanation”

          how do you explain the origin of the belief on the part of those people that they had met a resurrected Jesus?

        • davewarnock

          ok, let’s go with your theory that the origin of the universe points to a creator/god.
          Which one?

        • MNb

          “scientists have accepted that the universe had an origin and didnt create itself and are looking for non-natural causes”
          Repeating your lie doesn’t make it true. Physicists by definition don’t look for non-natural causes. What’s more, they don’t look for causes at all. The origing of our Universe was not a causal event.
          The same for the origin of life on Earth and fine-tuning.
          So 1,2,3 don’t demonstrate anything but you being a liar.

        • adam

          “In general, just saying “no” is typically never viewed as a refutation, rather it’s a demonstration that the person simply is unwilling to engage with the argument.”

          You mean like posted unsupported and unsupportable CLAIMS about an imaginary ‘god’?

        • 1, 2, 3 indeed DO demonstrate that a creator exists.

          This is not God of the Gaps reasoning

          So you’re saying that if any of those arguments (Origin of the universe, origin of life on earth, fine tuning of the universe) have a naturalistic explanation that becomes the scientific consensus, you’ll give up your faith?

          If not (as I’m sure is the case), you simply pick the unanswered question du jour. You’ll just find another one to replace it. Your argument devolves into “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God.”

          ”The Judeo-Christian tradition has never demonstrated what any rational human can consider objective morality”

          That’s not the definition of objective morality.

          Huh?? He didn’t define anything!

          But you go ahead and do so. What is “objective morality,” and why do you say it exists?

          how do you explain the origin of the belief on the part of those people that they had met a resurrected Jesus?

          Huh? Where did that come from?

          All we have are stories of people who met a resurrected Jesus. Stories are easy to explain: a few decades of oral history, and poof!

        • Geena Safire

          Aw gee, Wick Samuel, I thought you were dancing with me on the “scientists have accepted” argument!

          Let’s continue our discussion there, shall we, toward some resolution first before you head off on the same topic with someone else.

        • Greg G.

          So you are saying there is no evidence for God unless you a priori believe the Bible. We can substitute Chinese writings and history as proof that their myths are true. Your method is unreliable. You should be ashamed of yourself for falling for it.

        • adam

          And even more ashamed of promoting it to others….

        • Wick Samuel

          first 5 arguments are theologically neutral, they dont rely on the bible in any way, shape or form.
          Right?

        • Greg G.

          I saw a Chinese dance performance last night that said there were many gods that created the earth. Do those first 5 apply to their myths, too? Just because a myth says their deity created the universe, it does not mean the universe is evidence that the mythical claim was correct. So all you have are non sequiturs.

          The fine tuning argument only proves that the universe is capable of producing beings capable of conceiving the fine tuning argument. If the physics were different, there would be nobody to ask the question. It does not imply that there is a god.

          There is no such thing as objective morality. It is either a meaningless term or an ambiguous term. If you mean absolute morality, it doesn’t exist either.

          Free will is not proven to exist. It could be an illusion. Tests show that the subconscious makes decisions before the conscious mind knows it. When the conscious mind becomes aware of the decision made 20 seconds earlier by the subconscious, it thinks it made the choice.

        • TheNuszAbides

          they also don’t make a supernatural entity (let alone any specific one) evident. i realize you don’t accept ‘no’ as a refutation, but you haven’t actually presented anything falsifiable that merits formal refutation. ‘existence of ___’ [which is not itself God] is not evidence for God unless you can actually establish relevant analysis of the data. (and it might be amusing to watch you imagine/pretend that there is free will data.)

        • MNb

          Wrong. Not relying on the Bible in any way, shape or form is NOT synonymous with theologically neutral. The very fact that you jump from any of those first arguments to “goddiddid” without any justification (even “objective morality hence god” is a non-sequitur) violates theological neutrality. Or, to relate it on your other beloved point on this page, they show that your investigation to the god question did NOT start off without bias. Greg G already explained why:

          “Your method is unreliable.”

        • Pick one, provide evidence, and be prepared to stand behind it.

        • Origin of the universe
          origin of life on earth
          fine tuning of the universe

          Do you have an explanation for any of these? I know you think God was involved, but that alone doesn’t constitute even a hypothesis.

          Take, for example, the origin of the universe. You have said that creation of something from nothing is impossible. So how did God do it? What exactly makes God able to do something that you consider impossible, beyond some variation of “he can do it because he’s magic”? What mechanism was involved, and why does this mechanism require an intelligent being? What predictions does this make about our universe that we can use to test the idea?

          Similar objections apply to the origin of life, and fine-tuning. Your “hypothesis” amounts to, “I don’t know how this happened any more that you do, but I’m pretty sure God was involved along the way somewhere”.

          existence of choice (non-determinism)
          objective morality

          You haven’t established that either of these phenomena actually exists. I personally doubt that the ideas are even coherent (especially the first).

          And again, there’s no real explanation here that’s distinguishable from “it works by magic”. If you don’t know how the brain can explain choice, how does positing a soul help you at all, since you can’t say how the soul causes choice either?

          historicity of the Jewish nation
          historicity of Jesus
          resurrection as the best explanation for the origin of the disciples belief

          I already took this apart once, and you didn’t reply. So here it is again:
          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/how_christian_apologists_teleport_across_lessings_ugly_broad_ditch/#comment-1888451710

          The historical evidence consists of hearsay combined with wild speculation. And as Bob has pointed out in detail in previous blog posts, this evidence is no better than the evidence claimed by other groups such as the Mormons.

    • MNb

      No, BobS is not recommending that. He says (and it’s even disputable) that “there is no god” is the starting point and that from that point on you have to search for arguments and evidence that there is a god indeed. Ie one must try to show that the starting point is wrong. So rejecting the claims of the Bible based on that starting point is not allowed. Indeed BobS never argues something like “the Bible is wrong, because there is no god”. You aren’t capable of giving any quote where he does so.
      Dumb or dishonest? Both a little, I think.

  • MichaelNewsham

    As for point 9, every one of the millions of existing books, articles, essays etc. printed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s agreed that Stalin played a huge role in the Russian Revolution and was the designated heir of Lenin- and they were all lies.

    If the only existing writings on the Russian Revolution were the ones approved by the CPSU in the 30s we would all believe that now

    Same thing with the Bible. The ( what came to be) orthodox writings and teachings survived, the others were eliminated.

    • Sophia Sadek

      This was even a problem for the Assyrians who indicated that their cuneiform tablets were being corrupted by scribes.

  • wtfwjtd

    I see that with point #10, Wallace is employing a slight variant of the popular Christian claim of objective morality–that of Divine Command theory. One of the many problems that immediately pops up here: Who gets to decide what these commands are? How, exactly, are they received, and how are they validated and verified? What, for example, would we think of someone who claims they are told to sacrifice their children to God? How is this different from Abraham’s claim?
    I have yet to hear a theist who can give a satisfactory answer to any of these questions, and I see that Wallace don’t offer much either. Too bad.

    • MNb

      Wallace already replied to this. “We don’t understand all the details” (note the downplay) aka “it’s a mystery!”

  • Pofarmer

    So here we have a brand new Evangelical blog on Patheos. A “philosopher” even, and he’s lobbing softballs and has already disabled comments. There’s an easy way to get strikes. Doesn’t even provide an email I saw. Whadda buncha cowards.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/inklingations/2015/03/02/4-responses-a-non-scientist-christian-can-give-to-science-based-atheism/

    • wtfwjtd

      Oh brother, that’s just weak-tea beginner’s nonsense for the already convinced believer. If that’s the best they’ve got, it’s no wonder people are leaving in droves.

    • Kodie

      Boyce College | We’re Serious About the Gospel
      A BA in Philosophy from this grand institution is his credential.

      2. “Inklingations” – I noticed this horrible word, and then I noticed that he published his banner with the red squiggle under it.

      • Pofarmer

        Well, I sent ole Samuel an email. See what he replies with.

    • wtfwjtd

      What’s the point of a blog without comments?

      • Kodie

        It’s his “notebook”.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah, yeah, sure, how kind of him to share that with us.

      • Pofarmer

        Apparently, he was too highly trafficed. he was getting up to 100 comments a month and having trouble policing them all. Seriously.

        • wtfwjtd

          Whoa, a whole 100 a month, huh? Well, can see how writing easily-refuted stuff like that would keep him busy! Ha!

      • Pofarmer

        Crap can’t link it, but he has a couple posts about comments.

    • Pretty vacuous “philosophy” if you ask me.

    • Greg G.

      I read the article MNb linked to and two others. I upvoted the same comments you did, but not because you did. Grate minds think…. How’s that go again?

      I liked his article on the Charlie Hebdo incident. He seemed to realize that theists were letting secularists do their fighting for freedom of religion.

    • Brian K

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/inklingations/2015/02/02/a-response-to-ken-hams-response-to-justin-taylor/

      “…Ken Ham, a man whose courage and intellect I greatly respect…”

      Yeah, don’t think I’ll need to be reading any more of that blog.

      • Pofarmer

        Missed that, wow. the problem is that’s exactly the kind of thinking that needs to be challenged.

    • Without Malice

      “Christian philosopher”; one of the truly great oxymoronic statements of all time.

  • Greg G.

    “If you create a piece of art, you have the right to destroy it, even though I do not. After all, it is your creation and, therefore, it is your property.”

    If you create a piece of art and give it to me, I can then destroy it but you cannot. If you build a house, you can destroy it as long as you don’t try to collect the insurance for it, but you can’t destroy it with people in it. If you donate a kidney to somebody, you can’t destroy the kidney or take it back.

    So if a god gave life to another being, it does not follow that the god retains the right to end the life.

  • Wick Samuel

    No, we don’t assume God first. Honest adults start with the null hypothesis, which is that Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion. They follow the evidence where it leads, regardless of whether they like it or not.

    if you start with the assumption that God doesnt exist, you certainly arent expressing a willingness to follow where the evidence leads.

    Starting with the assumption that God does not exist, is a failure in logic equivalent to that which you accuse Wallace of, namely starting with the assumption that God DOES exist. They are both equally circular.

    An honest adult starts with no bias and lets the evidence guide the investigation.

    • Skeptical Calvanist

      I should stop replying to you, but you are very wrong.

      1. You confuse assumption and conclusion. If you start with the conclusion God does not exist in response to the claim God exists, then you’ll never conclude anything but that God does not exist. If you start with the assumption God does not exist, then if there is evidence, you’ll quickly realize you assumed wrong and conclude otherwise. Vice versa does not work though, as if you assume God does exist, then an absence of evidence won’t count as evidence of absence and you’ll conclude wrongly that God does exist. The opposite assumption would be warranted if the claim was “No gods exist”, for the same reasons.

      2. You are also completely wrong about starting with no bias. Since we naturally tend to believe credulously, we ought to be biased against the claim being made, aka skeptical of it. The amount of evidence required to overcome your skepticism will depend on your background knowledge, but you should be initially skeptical even of claims you agree with, if only to ensure understanding. It’s possible that the other person agrees with you for reasons that are incompatible, for example, and being skeptical and wondering what you don’t know make it possible to found this out systematically rather than on accident.

      So contrary to your claim, honest adults start with a bias against the claim being made (skepticism), and determine if the presented evidence and argument are strong enough to support the claim given that person’s background knowledge.

      Gullible adults start with no bias and are sucked into believing all manner of false and harmful things as they have no standard by which to evaluate truth claims.

      For example, suppose I doctored a photo 100 years ago to make it look like I was walking on the moon. At this time there was no mechanism for getting to the moon. Should you take this claim with no bias? Of course not. You would immediately be biased against it, and would ask me all manner of questions from how I got there, to what I did there, who went with me, etc. Only once your satisfied with my answers would you belief me. If you started with no bias, you’d evaluate the evidence I did (the photo), vs the evidence I did not (there is none), and have to believe that I walked on the moon.

      Edit:

      To clarify, by assumption I mean working assumption. I wrongly assumed that Wick meant working assumption, as that is the only way I could see him interpreting the spirit of the statement he quoted. He has clarified below.

      • Wick Samuel

        assumption: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

        conclusion :a judgment or decision reached by reasoning.

        your #1 argument makes no sense given the definitions of the words. A decision(conclusion) is FAR more likely to be changed by the presentation of evidence than an assumption, after all , if you accepted it as true without proof, how likely are you to change your mind?

        =========
        your second argument collapses if you remove your assumption that naturalism is true.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          I’m using the word assumption in a sense that the person is aware of the assumption (they are choosing to assume for sake of argument, not merely assuming) and deliberately taking this stance for the purpose of being skeptical. As Ophis said, I take it to mean provisional working hypothesis.

          It seems it does not match the dictionary definition, but this is the sense in which I understand Bob to be using it.

          ————————————-
          The second argument has nothing to do with naturalism. Please demonstrate how this argument fails if naturalism is false.

        • Wick Samuel

          sorta like how Krauss redefines something as nothing.. ok, i get it.

          lot of liberties being taken with the english language.

          ==========
          you skepticism against non-natural claims grows out of your commitment to naturalism.
          remove that, and where does your argument stand?
          your “gullible” person is the person not committed to naturalism.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          Such is life.

          —–

          My skepticism is not against non-natural claims only. It is against ALL truth claims. Natural and non-natural.

          Where did I say i was only skeptical of non-natural claims?

          So again, given this clarification, how does my supposed commitment to naturalism (which I don’t actually hold, I just think God concepts are either non-referential or incoherent, hence why I call myself an igtheist) affect what I said, given it applies to natural and non-natural truth claims.

        • TheNuszAbides

          *ignostic handshake*

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you mean by “committed to naturalism” as if we don’t have a lifetime of experience in which science actually works. We’re not picking naturalism out of a hat like you are picking your religion (denial of naturalism) out of a hat and committing to it. We’re not committed to naturalism, we’re willing to believe something else if there is credible evidence.

          Stop misrepresenting your opponent’s position. If you feel like a winner for cheating at the game, then shame on you.

        • Greg G.

          sorta like how Krauss redefines something as nothing.. ok, i get it.

          Not really. If your dictionary doesn’t list that usage of the word “assumption”, you just need a better dictionary.

        • TheNuszAbides

          at least Krauss can articulate possibilities that he is wrong. (hint: this isn’t merely a byproduct of whether or not he is actually wrong, although at this point it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if you leapt to that.)

        • It’s very obvious here that “assumption” is being used to mean “provisional working hypothesis”.

        • Wick Samuel

          – an idea that is formed without evidence
          – anything taken for granted; supposition
          – The act of taking for granted, or supposing a thing without proof; a supposition; an unwarrantable claim


          looks like you should have picked a different word.

        • Skeptical Calvanist

          Looks like you should stop making dictionary arguments, and instead try to deal with the words in the sense they are being used.

        • adam

          But then his DELUSIONS fall apart….

        • Pofarmer

          This has become ridiculous.

        • I did. I picked the phrase “provisional working hypothesis”. Someone else picked the word “assumption”, and in order to understand how it was being used, I read the 5 paragraphs that he used for carefully explaining what he meant.

      • “… you should be initially skeptical even of claims you agree with, if only to ensure understanding.”

        I really wish more people did this regularly.

    • MNb

      You’re a liar.

      “Christian supernatural belief is no more accurate than that of any other religion”
      is not nearly the same as

      “start with the assumption that God doesnt exist”

      The only thing that speaks for you is that you’re so dumb that you prove yourself with this quote that you’re lying. But we only accept that because we are atheists – dumbness is not brought up as an excuse for violating the 9th Commandment of your favourite Holy Book.

    • Kodie

      None of us is new to the arguments, so your misrepresentation that we are beginning our investigation with a closed mind is false. We’ve concluded that after the investigation, there is no clear evidence or logical argument for god. I know that bums you out, but that’s where atheism comes down. “There is a god” is the positive claim, and I was not convinced or persuaded to seek god with an open heart. That is a mind trick. Anyone can use it on a sucker, and Christianity used it on you.

    • Jerome

      No, we start with the assumption that all gods ever worshipped are equal. There is no reason to make any assumptions regarding whether any of them exist, or not.

      Then examine the evidence that any of them are real. This is easy – there is no evidence. There is only indoctrinated belief, taught to children who are too young to question what they are taught, and who use motivated reasoning to hang onto it when they grow up.

      • Wick Samuel

        assumption: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

        on what basis are you saying that all “gods” are to be considered equal?
        If you remove the presumption that natuarlism is true, that can’t possibly be a valid basis.

        • MNb

          Exactly! That’s precisely why you are biased when we talk about the unbiased starting point of our investigation of the god/fairy/invisible elephant question and you begin to talk about the amount of evidence. At the starting point we cannot say anything about the amount of evidence. I haven’t done so – you have! That’s why you are biased, not BobS and me.
          Right? Then we can make the next step, which still won’t be talking about the amount of evidence.

          No answer, I suppose.

          “If you remove the presumption that natuarlism is true, that can’t possibly be a valid basis.”
          Repeating your error does nothing to correct it. For one time I agree with you and not with Jerome, but naturalism has nothing to do with it. Lack of bias at the starting position of our research also means we haven’t decided about naturalism vs. dualism yet. All options must be open.
          Right? Then we can make the next step, which still won’t be talking about the amount of evidence.

          No answer, I suppose. That will show you’re the biased guy indeed, because you need privilege and special pleading to make your case for god. You are afraid that you will fail without them. I’m not.

        • Wick Samuel

          I’m arguing for a neutral starting point, no assumptions regarding the existence or non-existence.

        • MNb

          Including fairies and invisible elephants? If no because of your “that assumes there is more evidence for X and less for Y” or because of “if you remove naturalism then it falls apart” you are contradicting yourself – not capable of standing on that neutral starting point. A starting point only is neutral when all options are still open.
          I have told you this several times, but you never answered. So I predict again you won’t, but you will make me happy to show my prediction wrong. So I repeat my question, which I would like to see answered with an unambiguous yes or no (note that you avoided that again in your previous comment and also note that cobeliever Lynn was a lot faster than you to get this point underneath the What did Paul Know article):

          Lack of bias at the starting position of our research means we haven’t decided about naturalism vs. dualism yet. All options must be open.
          To which I add: the supernatural might contain fairies and invisible elephants as well – at the starting point we don’t say anything about them.
          Right?

        • on what basis are you saying that all “gods” are to be considered equal?

          It’s a starting point, not an end point. Considering all gods equal means not being biased from the start in favour of one god. Then you start looking at the evidence, and if the evidence for one of the gods stands out above the rest, then you stop considering them all equal.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Christian orthodoxy depends on the perception that the virtual father of Jesus is the same as the sky deity of ancient Israel. This orthodox position was considered heretical by other Christians. The politics behind the elimination of the other paradigm do not speak well for orthodoxy.

    • Pofarmer

      Sounds fun.

  • Greg G.

    I just returned from the Shen-Yun show. It is about the song and dance of ancient China but it cannot be performed in China. The costumes and dance were amazing. They interacted nicely with the animation screen but I doubt that was part of the ancient custom.

    Near the end of the show, a soprano with piano accompaniment sang with the words displayed in English and Mandarin on the screen behind her. One of the lines read “Atheism is a pack of lies”. The next line was “The heresy of evolution now eclipses Divine word.” Another line was “Do not use science to drive humanity toward danger.” Before any theists give a standing ovation, the song was about reincarnation.

    The Sleeves of Grace and the Mongolian Chopsticks dances were worth the price of admission.

    • Miguel de la Pena

      Christianity is growing fast in China. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are cars where they’re incorporating old beliefs with the new.

  • SteveK

    “First, he gives no support for his claim to objective morality, and I’ve never seen any”

    The objective problem of evil is solved! The remaining subjective problem of evil is not anyone’s problem but your own.

    • Greg G.

      What is the “objective problem of evil”? The PoE is an argument against deities.

      • SteveK

        I get that.

        • Greg G.

          OK, I had no understanding of your post at first. Now, I have an understanding but I’m not sure it is what you meant.

        • SteveK

          It means, if there is no objective problem then there can only be a subjective one. I don’t see any basis for an argument.

  • Miguel de la Pena

    It seems that your Hypothetical God fallacy is misapplied here (and likely everywhere else). As you know, there are many lines of reasoning that lead to the conclusion that a God does exist. These are independent of the Bible, meaning that one could easily approach the Bible with a belief in God that is not based on the Bible.

    • So you’re OK with someone assuming their favorite supernatural concept and then evaluating the evidence with that as a filter?

      I wonder if you read the post summarizing the fallacy. Your concerns don’t seem to apply.

      • Miguel de la Pena

        Yeah, i read the post explaining the fallacy.

        I don’t see a problem with anyone holding any type of philosophical belief. People evaluate evidence through an atheist filter all the time.

        • So the atheist says, “Well, if we assume no god, we’d expect X, Y, and Z. And with those three presuppositions, you see that the problem vanishes. I win!” And you’re OK with that?

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Sure, why not? Both theists and atheists do that all the time. If the evidence they’re discussing/evaluating is valid I don’t see a problem with it. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re correct or that their belief is warranted.

        • You’re very understanding with sloppy thinking in others. Good for you, I guess.

          I’m not.

          Both theists and atheists do that all the time.

          Yes, people do it (sloppy thinking, that is) all the time. I don’t care for it.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          Being understanding of others’ sloppy thinking is a positive. Not only does it mean we’re able to identify it, but were also then in a position to help correct any faulty thinking; if they’re willing to listen.

        • Huh? You said you were A-OK with that kind of thinking and now you agree with me that it’s “sloppy”? Color me confused.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          I’m ok with it in the sense that i don’t look to criticize or demean people over it; not that i believe something is true when it’s based on faulty thinking.

        • I criticize flawed thinking, and I criticize people who use it but who should know better.

      • Miguel de la Pena

        Again, your hypothetical god fallacy is misapplied because knowledge of God isn’t dependent on the Bible.

        • The problem is someone assuming their god first and then rearranging the evidence accordingly. And that’s what Wallace does.

        • Miguel de la Pena

          So, if I’m understanding you correctly, your problem with Wallace isn’t the evidence he’s using, but the arrangement of it? If so, can you explain how the arrangement of evidence invalidates any of it? Or is it that you just disagree with his conclusion?

          It’s also a false assumption that an honest adult would begin with the assumption that there is no God. If someone were to look at the universe, our planet, and man and believe that, clearly, this didn’t all just happen by random chance, it would be dishonest for that person to then being with an assumption contrary to what is clear to him.

        • You don’t understand my point. I thought it was plainly stated, but I got it. I guess that’ll just have to be my cross to bear.