Christianity, the Ultimate Unfalsifiable Hypothesis

Christianity, the Ultimate Unfalsifiable Hypothesis December 7, 2015

Christian truthCharlie Brown keeps trusting in Lucy, and she keeps pulling away the football at the last minute. And still Charlie Brown comes back for more. Doesn’t he ever learn? What would it take for him to see that his trust is misplaced?

This is how God belief works. Christians tell themselves that God exists, and maybe they have a special experience or feeling that reassures them that they’ve backed the right horse. But then there’s that tempting call to connect with the external world and provide evidence that the belief is firmly grounded. Like Lucy with the football, they’re often disappointed when the evidence doesn’t stand up.

A popular example of Christian “evidence” is that when you pray and get what you wanted, then God did it. When you don’t get what you wanted, God did that too.

If I point to puppies, sunsets, and other good things in life, the Christian might say it’s because God is a perfect designer. If I point to cancer, tsunamis, and other bad things, that’s because of the Fall. God can’t lose.

When something good happens, that’s God’s gentle and loving hand taking care of his special people. But when something bad happens, that’s God testing us or improving us.

If someone is good, then that’s due to nudging from the Holy Spirit. If they’re bad, that’s their fault.

There’s a snappy answer or rationalization for every situation. If God’s existence is always a given, then we’re going to bend the reality to fit that assumption. But no one approaches truth that way in any other sector of life. We don’t start with an assumption and then try to twist the facts to support it. It’s the other way around: we start with the facts and ask what the most reasonable explanation is.

To any Christian reading this, what would it take for you to see Christianity as false? What would it take for you to see that God doesn’t exist?

I’ve talked to lots of Christians who say that they do demand evidence, and that they would go where the evidence points. I have my doubts—I think that for many of them belief comes first and evidence is marshaled after the fact to support this presupposition— but let’s leave that for now.

I’ve also talked to Christians who admit that nothing would change their minds. That is, they can’t (or refuse to) imagine anything that could remove faith from their lives. Christianity is then the ultimate unfalsifiable hypothesis—“ultimate” because God is the most fantastic thing imaginable and “unfalsifiable” because for many believers, nothing will change their minds.

World famous apologist William Lane Craig uses rational arguments and points to science to support them. You’d think that he above all other apologists would put evidence ahead of agenda.

Not so:

It is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity’s truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role. (Reasonable Faith, Third Edition, p. 47)

(I’ve explored Craig’s unhealthy relationship with evidence more here.)

Some people are beyond evidence. Christianity for them is like the T-1000 in the film Terminator 2, the liquid metal robot that takes a beating and then reshapes itself after an injury to continue its rampage.

Consider a much more wholesome attitude toward evidence. Artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky said, “As scientists, we like to make our theories as delicate and fragile as possible. We like to arrange things so that if the slightest thing goes wrong, everything will collapse at once!”

Scientists want their theories to collapse if they’re wrong. If they’re wrong, they want to know it, since their goal is the truth, not to support a Bronze Age presupposition. Imagine a world where all Christians were this eager to understand reality, where they followed the evidence where it led rather than making their worldview unfalsifiable.

You can’t rationally argue out 
what wasn’t rationally argued in.
— credited to George Bernard Shaw

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/5/13.)

Image credit: Nic Fonseca, flickr, CC

"When Naomi and Ruth wanted to be redeemed, Naomi said to watch where Boaz settled ..."

What Is a “Real Man,” According ..."
"I read somewhere that "feet" meant Moses' dick and his wife wiped the blood on ..."

What Is a “Real Man,” According ..."
"You deserve a place to vent. I would be damn proud of my 17 year ..."

What Is a “Real Man,” According ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • MNb

    This comment is partly a reaction to Karl Udy’s

    “You say that scientists want their theories to fail. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t support your statement.”
    which refers to Minsky’s

    “As scientists, we like to make our theories as delicate and fragile as possible.”
    We have a way too common misunderstanding here that very well may go back to Popper and his falsifiability principle himself.

    First two facts.

    1) Stephen Hawking – someone who knows a few things about building theories – explicitely accepts falsifiability at the end of chapter 1 of A Brief History of Time.
    2) Open any random scientific text, whether a thesis, a book or an article in a magazine, and you will find an abundance of falsifiable statements.

    However that doesn’t mean that Thomas Kuhn was wrong. See, Kuhn did not object to falsifiability and hence to Minsky’s quote. It seems that Popper incorrectly assumed that scientists always were actively trying to refute theories and hypotheses. That’s what Kuhn had huge problems with. Scientists are human too and tend to look for confirmations of theories. Two famous examples are Gregor Mendel, whose observations hardly justified his theory, and Robert Millikan, who carefully selected his test results.
    It’s not the first time an apologist uses this to criticize atheists relying on science. The suggestion is something like “falsifiabily doesn’t work so why should god be falsifiable?”
    It doesn’t work that way.

    Science walks two paths. It collects empirical data to use induction. That can be very problematic. Millikan for instance could not be sure how reliable and accurate his measuring equipment was. Then it’s very reasonable to have doubts regarding deviating data. For instance only a few years ago this became clear when physicists at CERN, Geneva, claimed to have surpassed the speed of light. Only after a year they found a bug in their equipment.
    The other path is building theories and formulating testable hypotheses. Theories have to be falsifiable, as I already wrote. String theory is doubted exactly because it doesn’t seem to be falsifiable and hence cannot be compared with other theories. That is what Minsky is talking about. He does not talk about the way scientists treat experimental data as quite correctly described by the Thomas Kuhn quote.
    It’s nice I can ride my favourite horse once again. BCS theory was formulated in 1956 and rewarded with the Nobel Price in 1972. It was experimentally falsified by Bednorz and Müller in 1986; they received their Nobel Price within a year, which is a record. That’s how high at least physicists value falsifiability. That many scientists don’t live up to that standard doesn’t change that even a bit.
    And that’s the misunderstanding. Popper’s falsifiabilty and Minsky’s quote (I’m not sure of BobS got it; he isn’t clear about this) are not fact nor theory. Falsifiability is a norm and a very high one. As soon as you realize that you’ll notice how much effort scientists indeed put in practicing that norm. The effort apologists make in this respect however, including specifically Karl Udy, is close to zero. He notably neglects the word “like” in the Minsky quote, which indicates that it’s about a norm indeed. As a result he attacks a strawman with the Kuhn quote.
    Why theism is unfalsifiable and whether that’s as bad a thing as BobS suggests is an entirely different issue. Here I have shown that it by no means is justified by Kuhn’s criticism of Popper.

    • KarlUdy

      Thanks for your input here MNb. Just to clarify, I was not referring to the Minsky quote, but Bob’s sentence in the next paragraph: “Scientists want their theories to collapse if they’re wrong.”

      Further, the piece from Kuhn I found most intriguing was not regarding falsifiability per se, but rather how the process of drawing up hypotheses and interpreting results, etc is often tightly bound to preserving existing paradigms, the very thing that Bob is suggesting science does not do in contrast to theology.

      • MNb

        “Scientists want their theories to collapse if they’re wrong.”
        That’s still about theories.
        The Kuhn quote you gave is about collecting empirical data.
        BobS should clarify himself of course what he exactly meant, but my point remains: what he wrote here does not necessarily conflict with Kuhn’s (correct) theory of paradigma shift. Paradigmas shift (ie theories collapse to make room for new and better ones) when empirical data convincingly show its necessary, ie leave scientists no other options.
        Theology doesn’t work that way. Theological paradigmas may shift of course, but not necessarily under the influence of new empirical data.
        That point still stands.

        • KarlUdy

          From what I understand from what Bob wrote, he would say that paradigm shift is welcomed in science, but not in theology. (That would be the main idea of what I took from his post.)

          I would suggest that paradigm shifts are not particularly welcomed in either field.

        • Scientists can have preferences, of course. They’re only human. But “I’ve fought your hypothesis as long as I can, but I see that the evidence in your favor is overwhelming; I was wrong” is what a scientist would say. Not every time it’s warranted, but often. Theologians aren’t as likely to do so.

        • KarlUdy

          Just out of interest, what is the evidence that you have backing up your belief about the respective likelihood of scientists and theologians accepting a point of view they’ve previously opposed?

        • Greg G.

          Good point. There are many cases of theologians, or those on the path to be theologians, who have changed their point of view along the way. Some drop out of seminary, some become secular New Testament scholars, and the Clergy Project is full of pastors who lost their faith.

        • Anecdotes. I’ve not seen

          For example, an example from Dawkins here and a quote from Carl Sagan here.

          Ask yourself why it is that when a scientist accepts a new way of thinking because the compelling new evidence makes his previous position untenable, everyone cheers. But when a theologian or pastor decides he’s made a mistake, it’s a mixed bag–those he’s adopting thing he’s a genius, but those he’s rejecting think he’s a heretic. Ask those pastors in the Clergy Project for how bad the rejection can be.

          Adam’s summary is a good one.

        • MR

          Not to mention that it’s not a single scientist in isolation. Peer review, rival theories, competition (on several levels, wouldn’t China love to show the US wrong, for example), future knowledge and understanding, the test of time…, a lot of factors go into honing scientific theories. A scientist who doesn’t accept a new way of thinking ultimately gets left behind. The proof is in the pudding. Bias is part of human nature and science does its best to mitigate that bias both internally and externally. Religion has no such controls. Their control is punishment when you don’t believe, threats, excommunication, etc. Challenging belief is frowned upon, unlike with science.

        • KarlUdy

          It’s really a question of how much people have invested in the respective positions. A religious belief that most people are not highly invested in (eg whether the fourth gospel was written by John of Zebedee or John the Elder) will not result in emotional responses for the most part.

          On the other hand, any scientific research that has implications for environmentalism (especially climate change) will result in very emotional responses on both sides because lots of people are very invested (financially and/or emotionally) in the different positions.

        • Scientists stick with a position or are moved from it by evidence. Ask them, and they’ll say that this is fundamental to being a scientist. If you’re saying that egos enter into it, sure, that can be an issue.

          Contrast this with religious scholars. Remember when Mike Licona lost two jobs for violating his faith statement? He was fired for following the evidence.

          The emotional response about climate change is from politicians, pundits, and laypeople.

        • adam

          “It’s really a question of how much people have invested in the respective positions.”

          Maybe to individuals but not to SCIENCE.

        • KarlUdy

          Maybe to individuals but not to SCIENCE

          While technically correct, your statement is useless in practice.

          I wonder, what exactly does science do that is not done through individuals?

        • Susan

          what exactly does science do that is not done through individuals?

          -Recognizes bias and devises systems to root it out (unlike religion, which enshrines bias and exalts it, calling it “faith”)

          -Exposes its models to falsifiability (unlike religion which insulates its claims from falsifiability)

          -Abandons models that are inconsistent with the reality we are part of (unlike religion, which retreats into some combination of pure defiance and vague metaphor in order to maintain its models)

          Everything humans do is done through individuals. It doesn’t make everything humans do the same. It doesn’t make all truth claims equal because they are uttered by individuals.

        • adam

          “While technically correct, your statement is useless in practice.”

          No, it is in practice that it actually works, by examination of the evidence,

        • MNb

          You would be partly wrong regarding science. This is also well researched. The older generations of scientists generally resist paradigm shifts, though eventually most of them give in. Fred Hoyle is a famous exception. He’s also famous for becoming totally irrelevant. The young ones at the other hand welcome them with open arms.

        • adam

          “I would suggest that paradigm shifts are not particularly welcomed in either field.”

          Then you ;would be mistaken:

    • The faster-than-light issue is discussed here.

      The Nobel anecdote is a new one to me; thanks.

  • MR

    To any Christian reading this, what would it take for you to see Christianity as false? What would it take for you to see that God doesn’t exist?

    That crackling sound you hear is cognitive dissonance settling in. My question would be, would you want to know if there is no God?

    Scientists want their theories to collapse if they’re wrong. If they’re wrong, they want to know it.

    If they’re wrong *I* want to know. If they’re wrong, I bet Bob and every other atheist wants to know it. If there isn’t a God, I want to know. If there is a God, I want to know. I don’t get the feeling that the theists that participate here feel the same way, and I often wonder whether they can even consider the possibility that he might not exist. Perhaps the act of thinking it would cause the whole illusion to collapse.

    • I think WLC has made it clear that nothing would shake his faith. There’s nothing you could show him that would get him to reject his belief.

      • Odd Jørgensen

        It`s the same stance as ken “I have this book” Ham, :God is evident all around us and in our lives”
        But what abou,,,”LA LA LA LA I CAN`T HEAR YOU NA NA NA

  • Aram

    What would it look like if God forsook you? is a good question.

    *crickets*

    • calduncan

      Assho1e

      • Aram

        Would you care to expand on that? Who’s the asshole here?

        • Greg G.

          Being forsaken by God would look like you were living in an indifferent universe but if you remember the prayer hits and overlook the prayer misses while attributing every not so bad event to a blessing, you could still believe God has not forsaken you.

        • Aram

          But that’s the point. You survive a brush with death. Praise Jesus. You die. Jesus needed an angel. You get paralyzed. Jesus wants to bring you closer to him and teach your partner patience or some fucking thing. Jesus not forsaking you looks like nothing so much as pure random chance. Put simply, it is impossible for Jesus to forsake you. No matter what happens, it’s part of his grand plan.

        • adam

          “You survive a brush with death. Praise Jesus. You die. Jesus needed an angel.”

          Its psychopathic:

        • Greg G.

          I know. You can’t really tell the difference whether God forsook you, or Allah forsook you, or Zeus forsook you…

        • Diaris

          You, HIV btch

        • calduncan can’t come out to play. He’s been banned.

        • Aram

          Ah so. But he seemed so nice.

        • Greg G.

          For misspelling “asswhole”?

  • Greg G.

    If the Fall is so bad that is causes the eternal damnation of billions of people, why are there still puppies?

    I see that links from Recent Comments go directly to the post. That is different that what it was doing this morning. Thank you Software Gods.

  • SteveK

    Many beliefs are incapable of being falsified. The belief that something is wrong with you if you cannot falsify your belief is itself an unfalsifiable belief. You cannot falsify a case built upon circumstantial evidence either. Meh. I’m not impressed.

    • adam

      “Many beliefs are incapable of being falsified.”

      Yes, like those of Zeus, Ganesh, Shiva, Leprechans, Flying Invisible Pink Unicorns..

      So what is your point?

      • SteveK

        My point is that the issue of falisifiabilty is irrelevant as to whether a person thinks they are justified in believing something is accurate/true.

        • adam

          “My point is that the issue of falisifiabilty is irrelevant as to whether
          a person thinks they are justified in believing something is
          accurate/true.”

          Yes, but it IS relevant as to REALITY…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d017b64960fd469dbc68df0fec489cd1fc735f598e1efc49afd2415a8e6441c2.jpg

        • SteveK

          Speaking of reality, if Christianity were true then the ‘problem’ with it being unfalsifiable wouldn’t actually be a problem.

        • adam

          IF Shiva were true, then it wouldnt be a problem either.
          Spiderman, Zeus, and ON and ON and ON

          Problem is that your bible, makes claims that are obviously NOT TRUE.

          ” And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 NAB)”

        • SteveK

          So you’re saying Bob was wrong about it being unfalsifiable. Okay. Good to know.

        • adam

          The bible is certainly falsifiable.

          People make CLAIMS of unfalsifiability out of chrisitanity, by making EXCUSES and ignoring those things I am point out.
          THAT is what Bob is talking about,

          Apologetics is all about this kind of deception.

          But in your deceptive manner, you want to ignore that.

        • Your “If Christianity were true …” hypothetical is meaningless. Who can know that with certainty? We’re just fallible humans who do the best with what evidence we have.

          “God exists” is a belief. Is that belief well founded? If it’s unfalsifiable, then the answer is No.

        • SteveK

          A well founded belief supported by good reasons trumps falsification. You said it yourself in the other comment.

        • Give me an example of a belief supported by good reasons (that is, evidence) but that’s not falsifiable (that is, can’t be overturned by any evidence).

        • SteveK

          I gave you 2 already.

        • You’ve given me two examples of beliefs we agree are true. Now I need compelling evidence that they’re unfalsifiable.

        • MNb

          Sorry (as I’m on your side here), but imo you’re on the wrong track. His two examples are unfalsifiable by evidence indeed.
          The first one because “good” is subjective and the second one because right the way he uses the word (a moral thing) can’t be tested either.
          It’s better not to fall for his trick to confuse “is” with “ought”. The latter is unfalsiable by definition.
          His two examples only are “worth holding” as opinions. During Antiquity people generally thought his second one not worth holding. Hence in this discussion “true” is a meaningless word by definition; so is my favoured “incorrect”.
          But when you wrote “worth holding” a few comments above you weren’t talking about opinions, but about claims regarding reality, if I understood you correctly.

        • Food for thought, thanks.

        • SteveK

          What is true cannot be shown to be false. The compelling evidence that leads you to conclude that the beliefs are true is the compelling evidence that also leads you to conclude that it’s unfalsifiable.

        • MNb

          “What is true cannot be shown to be false.”
          Excellent!
          Everything in science can be shown to be false (by contradicting empirical data), so nothing in science is true.
          As the scientific method is the most reliable method to gain knowledge and influence our material reality you just have shown what I have maintained for years now: that truth is a meaningless word.

          “The compelling evidence …. to conclude that it’s unfalsifiable.”
          After such a good start you produce some prime balderdash again, alas.
          In science no evidence is compelling enough to justify the conclusion that something is unfalsifiable.
          The possibility never, ever can be excluded that you will fall upward one day when jumping off a tower. Hence G = m*g remains falsifiable, no matter how much and how compelling the evidence.
          This is a prime principle in science. It may give us superconductivity at room temperature one day.

        • SteveK

          You’re thinking about what is logically possible to justify your conclusion about what can be falsified, whereas I am not.

          Based on your criteria, everything logically possible can be falsified. It’s possible to falsify Christianity just like it’s possible to falsify the force of gravity, the location of the planets or the function of the human heart.

          But I’m not thinking about it this way. While it’s logically possible for people to fall upward when jumping from a tower, we have no justifiable reason to think they ever will. For that to occur gravity would have to cease to exist or reverse direction.

          But we have no reason to think gravity can cease to exist or reverse direction other than “hey, it’s possible”. Correct me if I’m wrong.

          Because we have no justifiable reason that gravity will cease to exist or reverse direction, we are justified in concluding that falling downward cannot be falsified.

          That’s how I’m looking at it.

        • adam

          “You’re thinking about what is logically possible to justify your conclusion about what can be falsified, whereas I am not.”

          Yes, we understand you are thinking about is logically impossible to justify YOUR conclusion that YOUR ‘god’ is Real.

          “While it’s logically possible for people to fall upward when jumping from a tower, we have no justifiable reason to think they ever will. For that to occur gravity would have to cease to exist or reverse direction.”

          So it is NOT logically possible for people to fall upward, because gravity.

        • MNb

          “everything logically possible can be falsified.”
          That’s exactly what the highest norm in science consists of.

          “That’s how I’m looking at it.”
          And that’s what makes you a science denier.

          “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
          Richard Feynman.
          If anyone manages to design an experiment that shows falling upward, ie defying gravity, then “our prior understanding of gravity has been falsified” – something you explicitely rejected above.
          Thanks for confirming my inductive hypothesis that every single christian sooner or later has to reject the scientific method.

        • SteveK

          Science denier?? LOL
          Get a grip.

        • adam

          “Science denier?? LOL
          Get a grip.”

          You first:

        • MNb

          Ah, the ultimate rebuttal of the apologist. Don’t address anymore what the opponent writes – just shout a random slogan like “get a grip”. It’s of course also a sign of total failure.
          Thanks, science denier SteveK.

        • SteveK

          If only you knew what you are talking about. If only…

        • adam

          “If only you knew what you are talking about. If only…”

          ABSOLUTELY the VERY BEST response that YOUR ‘faith’ prepare you for in dealing with reality….

        • SteveK

          I would also add that IF people began falling upward we would conclude that something about the gravitational force has changed to make this happen. We would not conclude that our prior understanding of gravity had been falsified.

        • adam

          “We would not conclude that our prior understanding of gravity had been falsified.”

          We absolutely would.

        • SteveK

          LOL!

          Because our understanding of gravity has been falsified today, that person who died yesterday by falling to the ground didn’t actually fall to the ground. We just falsified that hypothesis. Gravity doesn’t work that way.

          LOL!

        • adam

          ” Gravity doesn’t work that way.”

          Exactly

          LOL!!!!

        • Greg G.

          Suppose relativity was not understood when they put the GPS satellites in place. They would have been useless. Would we have thought something had changed about how time worked or would we have assumed we didn’t understand something fundamental about the universe? If we thought the former, we would have been wrong.

          But if gravity stopped working, the planet would fly apart from centrifugal force, so we wouldn’t really worry about that so much.

        • MNb

          “we would conclude that something about the gravitational force has changed ….”
          Nope – that’s an unfalsifiable statement. Plus it contradicts the assumption that our Universe is incoherent.

          “We would not conclude that our prior understanding of gravity had been falsified.”
          Thanks for admitting that you’re a science denier. That’s exactly what scientists would do and have done in the past in similar cases, like the speed of light and superconductivity.

        • We can do our best to conclude that something is true or false; that’s it. We can’t know that something is true, so your “What is true cannot be shown to be false” isn’t helpful.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I fear you are not distinguishing between “false” and “falsifiable.” The latter describes claims that could *in principle* be shown to be wrong. It doesn’t mean they *will* be shown wrong, but that they *could* be.

          Falsifiable claims are the only useful kind.

          “Penicillin cures strep throat” is a falsifiable claim. If lots of people with strep take penicillin and don’t get better, we know the claim was wrong, and we look for a different cure.

          “Prayer cures strep throat” turns out not to be falsifiable in the minds of believers. Doesn’t matter how many people you pray for that don’t get better. (For non-believers, the claim is quite falsifiable and has, indeed, been shown to be false.)

        • SteveK

          >> I fear you are not distinguishing between “false” and “falsifiable.”

          Suppose you have two opposing claims –
          1) the red ball weighs more than the blue ball
          2) the red ball does not weigh more than the blue ball

          If I’m understanding you correctly, each claim is falsifiable because each *could* in principle be shown to be wrong.

          However since one claim must be true as a matter of logical necessity, it means one claim cannot possibly, in principle, ever be wrong. One claim is not falsifiable. We know this before any experiments are done.

          ??

        • adam

          “Suppose you have two opposing claims –
          1) the red ball weighs more than the blue ball
          2) the red ball does not weigh more than the blue ball”

          ” One claim is not falsifiable.We know this before any experiments are done.”

          Which one is not falsifiable?
          1,
          or
          2.

        • SteveK

          It’s the one that we thought was falsifiable, but isn’t.

        • adam

          “It’s the one that we thought was falsifiable, but isn’t.”

          ” One claim is not falsifiable.We know this before any experiments are done.”

          Which one is not falsifiable?
          1,
          or
          2.

          ‘before any experiments are done”

        • adam

          thought
          Definition of THOUGHT
          past and past participle of think

          We know this before any experiments are done.”

        • adam

          “Suppose you have two opposing claims –
          1) the red ball weighs more than the blue ball
          2) the red ball does not weigh more than the blue ball”

          ” One claim is not falsifiable.We know this before any experiments are done.”

          Which one is not falsifiable?
          1,
          or
          2.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Now I think you’re trying hard not to understand.

          First, each of those claims is falsifiable. Each one could be proven wrong. Someone who holds either belief can state a priori what evidence would prove the belief wrong (i.e., data from a scale). Only one of the claims is false, but both are falsifiable. This is why it is useful to actually know which one is false.

          Second, this is different from believers’ claims that God exists. For them, there is no conceivable evidence that would falsify that claim–sunshine, leukemia, puppies, and plague are all compatible with the belief that God exists; there is nothing that would falsify it, so it tells us exactly nothing about the world.

        • MNb

          “I think you’re trying hard not to understand”
          It’s one of his beloved tricks. Don’t expect him to correct hsi error; he’s not honest enough to do so.

          Later addition: I wrote this before I read SteveK’s reaction underneath. Sure enough he pulls off another one of his beloved tricks: a semantic game.

        • SteveK

          >> Someone who holds either belief can state a priori what evidence would prove the belief wrong (i.e., data from a scale).

          This helps, thanks. Now I understand what you’re saying – at least I think so.

          >> Second, this is different from believers’ claims that God exists. For them, there is no conceivable evidence that would falsify that claim

          That is because God is a necessary being that cannot cease to exist.

          >> …so it tells us exactly nothing about the world.

          It doesn’t? It seems to me that God tells us why something exists rather than nothing.

        • adam

          “That is because God is a necessary being that cannot cease to exist.”

          No, it didnt exist before human imagination created it, and it will cease to exist when human beings GROW UP and give up CHILDISH superstitions.

        • SteveK

          I know what my claim is, and my claim is God is a necessary being. Strawman me all you want and I’ll ignore it with a smile.

        • adam

          I am not strawmaning.

          And YOU constantly ignore those posts that demonstrate your dishonesty.

        • MR

          And YOU constantly ignore those posts that demonstrate your dishonesty.

          ^1

        • Kodie

          You have never shown god to be necessary. Smile all you want, idiot.

        • Kodie

          You’re addicted.

        • SteveK

          As mentioned in my prior comment, God as a necessary being explains why something exists rather than nothing.

          There is a similar atheistic claim that is on the table. It too attempts to explains why something exists rather than nothing. Whatever that claim is, can that claim be falsified? Let me know.

        • MNb

          No god is a necessary being, including yours. That’s why your god doesn’t explain why something exists any more than Zeus explains thunder and lightning.
          No matter how fancy your terminology, it remains a god of the gaps.
          Unless “why” has a teleological component, in which case your non-explanation is circular. Science denier as you are you probably won’t mind.

        • SteveK

          >> No god is a necessary being, including yours.

          That doesn’t fit my claim. Don’t strawman.

        • Greg G.

          Why should a stable nothingness exist if there is no god? An unstable nothingness that adds up to zero at all times makes a god an unnecessary being.

        • SteveK

          Is your theory falsifiable?

        • adam

          Falsifiable?

          You’ve been dishonest on that subject as well:

          ” One claim is not falsifiable.We know this before any experiments are done.”

          Which one is not falsifiable?
          1,
          or
          2.

          ‘before any experiments are done”

        • Greg G.

          Certainly. Just show that a stable nothingness is possible or show that the physical energies and forces of the universe do not equal zero.

        • adam

          Don’t strawman.

          YOUR latest display of dishonesty….

        • adam

          “God as a necessary being explains why something exists rather than nothing.”

          But you’ve not demonstrate such a ‘god’ in the first place nor that it is needed for anything to exist.

          And of course, based on YOUR CLAIM, another ‘god’ would be necessary to explain why YOUR ‘god’ exists, etc, etc, etc….

          Where does your ‘god’s’ KNOWLEDGE come from?
          We understand that knowledge EVOLVES…

        • Dys

          In other words, God is the explanatory equivalent of “it’s magic!”.

          Why does something exist rather than nothing? Magic!
          Why does something exist rather than nothing? God did it!

          No difference whatsoever. It adds nothing to anyone’s understanding. It’s a vacuous answer.

        • adam

          But WHERE does the MAGIC come from?

          And the KNOWLEDGE to use that MAGIC?

        • SteveK

          What is your theory?

        • Greg G.

          My theory is that there are some things we will not have enough information to explain but that jumping to a supernatural explanation is always presumptuous. The Demon Theory of disease may have delayed the Germ Theory of disease.

          Gods and and other supernatural beings have been used to explain many things in history and apparently prehistory. Practically everything they imagined was caused supernaturally has been shown to have natural causes.

          Now the God Hypothesis is an explanation looking for something to explain as it is being applied to ideas that were millennia away from being conceived when the god was made up.

          When you are looking for a gap to slide a god into, you should probably do it quietly and avoid doing it in public.

        • SteveK

          >> My theory is that there are some things we will not have enough information to explain but that jumping to a supernatural explanation is always presumptuous.

          “I don’t know” isn’t a theory. You knew that.

          >> Practically everything they imagined was caused supernaturally has been shown to have natural causes.

          False. My claim is that God is the cause of all efficient causation that you attribute to this mysterious entity called nature that you haven’t defined.

          As far as I can tell, your current theory regarding the cause of orderly efficient causation that results in orderly natural events is the “Turtles all way down theory of causation”. Keep working on that theory and let me know when you have something other than turtles or “I don’t know.”

          >> When you are looking for a gap to slide a god into, you should probably do it quietly and avoid doing it in public.

          God doesn’t exist in the gaps. That’s never been my claim.

        • Greg G.

          “I don’t know” isn’t a theory. You knew that.

          I didn’t say that. My theory can be falsified by having enough information to explain everything.

          False. My claim is that God is the cause of all efficient causation that you attribute to this mysterious entity called nature that you haven’t defined.

          As far as I can tell, your current theory regarding the cause of orderly efficient causation that results in orderly natural events is the “Turtles all way down theory of causation”. Keep working on that theory and let me know when you have something other than turtles or “I don’t know.”

          Saying “I don’t know” is more honest than saying “God is the efficient cause of nature” because you don’t have the evidence for that.

          God doesn’t exist in the gaps. That’s never been my claim.

          Science does not have the evidence to determine what happened before the Big Bang. Science hasn’t reconciled the Theory of Relativity with quantum physics but the problem is less than a century old. That means there is a gap in the scientific explanation. You are trying to put God into that gap. That is exactly what God-of-the-gaps is. You are doing it yet claiming to not do it.

          It took until about the 18th century for technology to reach the level the Romans had in the early days of Christianity. Look how our knowledge and technology has increased since then, mostly because scientists stopped trying to explain everything in terms of God.

          These “essence of all being” theologies are no better than solipsism. One can interchange “brain-in-a-vat” or “hooked-up-to-a-Matrix” without changing anything else and the explanation works out as well. But you have no way to distinguish which is more likely. It is only that you would prefer that it be a god.

        • SteveK

          >> My theory can be falsified by having enough information to explain everything.

          Well, well, well…ditto for the God theory, eh? It’s satisfying to know that “just wait, you’ll see” serves to transform your claim (or your ignorance) into a legit theory that can be falsified – if only I trust you that it can one day.

          >> Saying “I don’t know” is more honest than saying “God is the efficient cause of nature” because you don’t have the evidence for that.

          “more honest” is a subjective judgement. I don’t accept your subjective criteria in the midst of a discussion about demands for evidence and falsifiable theories.

          >> That means there is a gap in the scientific explanation. You are trying to put God into that gap. That is exactly what God-of-the-gaps is. You are doing it yet claiming to not do it.

          Haha! Ironically you are doing this and cannot see it. “Just wait, science will show that nature without God fills all the gaps in our understanding. You’ll see.”

          But as I said before I’m not a gapper. God does not exist in the gaps. My claim is that God is necessary for nature to exist as it does. My claim is that God, as the first cause of all, explains everything – including the ability to do science.

          What is your claim? As far as I can tell your claim is “Trust me when I tell you that everything that exists will be explained without the need for God”. Nice.

          >> These “essence of all being” theologies are no better than solipsism. One can interchange “brain-in-a-vat” or “hooked-up-to-a-Matrix” without changing anything else and the explanation works out as well.

          This proves without a doubt that you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you did, you’d know why this is just plain nonsense. You’re either not well suited for understanding philosophy, or you haven’t bothered to study it much.

        • Greg G.

          Well, well, well…ditto for the God theory, eh? It’s satisfying to know that “just wait, you’ll see” serves to transform your claim (or your ignorance) into a legit theory that can be falsified – if only I trust you that it can one day.

          Ditto except that they are entirely different. My statement would be tautological except that is falsifiable and is true until it is falsified. The existence is always a question. The proponents of God try to define it as untestable. That seems to be intentional.

          “more honest” is a subjective judgement. I don’t accept your subjective criteria in the midst of a discussion about demands for evidence and falsifiable theories.

          Listen to you. How is saying “I don’t know” when you don’t know not true?

          Haha! Ironically you are doing this and cannot see it. “Just wait, science will show that nature without God fills all the gaps in our understanding. You’ll see.”

          I hope you have merely lost track of the argument. That is the exact opposite of what I said.

          My claim is that God, as the first cause of all, explains everything – including the ability to do science.

          Yes, that is god-of-the-gaps topped off with solipsism.

          This proves without a doubt that you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you did, you’d know why this is just plain nonsense. You’re either not well suited for understanding philosophy, or you haven’t bothered to study it much.

          I have certainly missed where philosophy gets around the solipsism problem without making an assumption. When philosophers resort to “properly basic beliefs”, it is basically a concession to the solipsism problem. Your presuppositional apology is just a form of solipsism. A brain in a vat, or any other solipsism, can explain our ability to do science just as well as your presuppositional solipsism.

        • MNb

          “My claim is that God is necessary for nature to exist as it does. My claim is that God, as the first cause of all, explains everything – including the ability to do science.”
          And again you confirm that you’re a science denier. According to physics there is no first cause, because our Universe and everything it contains is probabilistic.

          “You’re either not well suited for understanding philosophy,”
          That may be correct, but you have about 80 years of physics to make up for. Given the fact that physics has been much more successfull in those 80 years than philosophy – and especially apologetics – you are worse off.

        • SteveK

          >> According to physics there is no first cause, because our Universe and everything it contains is probabilistic.

          This is not a scientific statement – at all.

        • Susan

          This proves without a doubt that you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you did, you’d know why this is just plain nonsense.

          Another knock down argument from you, Steve K. If you could show a difference, you would. Instead you state that “Greg G. doesn’t know what (he’s) talking about”.

          You’re either not well suited for understanding philosophy; or you haven’t bothered to study it much.

          That’s rich coming from you.

        • Greg G.

          I overlooked this earlier.

          If you did, you’d know why this is just plain nonsense.

          I know it is non-sense and your claim fits it. That is why I used it as a reductio ad absurdum approach. You didn’t even attempt to show why yours is less non-sensical than the others.

          How could your God know that it was not a brain in a vat that was fed inputs to make it think it had created a universe and was omnipotent or a dream of Vishnu?

        • SteveK

          >> You didn’t even attempt to show why yours is less non-sensical than the others.

          If you don’t know the difference between God and brains in vats, or anything else there’s nothing I can do to help you. I suggest you first learn the difference.

        • MNb

          Of course you’re too dishonest to teach us.

        • Kodie

          Demonstrate the difference? Without invoking your bullshit fairy tale?

        • Susan

          If you don’t know the difference between God and brains in vats, or anything else there’s nothing I can do to help you. I suggest you first learn the difference.

          So… you’ve got nothing?

        • Kodie

          Why not trust science or Greg G.? You “trust” an imaginary figure. You’re all, like, “trust” isn’t good enough for science, but you are a hypocrite, and we all know it. You will put trust and more in an imaginary figure without any promises whatsoever but your fairy tale. And you have any reason to wonder why atheists don’t buy that dumb bullshit?

        • SteveK

          Trust isn’t allowed. Only evidence and science – or so I’m told..

        • Greg G.

          Trust is unreliable without evidence, especially it is no more than wishful thinking.

        • Kodie

          You argue that you don’t trust the “promise” that science may someday answer your question, but you have never ever argued positively why anyone should throw that idea out and cling to your superstition.

        • SteveK

          I’m not arguing “do not trust science”. Not at all.

          I’m arguing that the same evidence that points to atheism also points to theism. The evidence does not conclusively demonstrate that either one is true, but it allows either side to justifiably trust (believe) that it is true – until philosophy gets to work on the problem.

          When that occurs, atheism starts to unravel. Not entirely. It’s not a slam dunk, but argument after argument shows that atheism is not conducive to realism. Philosophically speaking, atheism is as real as the idea that human have no free will or the idea that we are brains in vats.

        • Kodie

          Oh. Wow, you just blew my mind.

        • SteveK

          Sarcasm, noted.

        • Kodie

          When you make such clear and honest explanations, I don’t know what else you’d expect.

        • until philosophy gets to work on the problem.

          Good point. Things really get straightened out when philosophers roll up their sleeves.

          But tell me: what problems have philosophers solved lately? For all the good that philosophers do, I just can’t seem to put my finger on anything tangible.

        • SteveK

          Sarcasm noted. I’m not sure if this is “lately”, but philosophers helped resolve the ID debate by straightening out the misconceptions that both sides were making about the nature of design.

        • I hadn’t heard that. That biologists were helpful in clarifying things, I could believe.

          I’ll buy that scientists doing philosophy (itself a slippery word) can yield good results. That professional philosophers add to science is a stretch.

        • Susan

          philosophers helped resolve the ID debate by straightening out the misconceptions that both sides were making about the nature of design.

          Which philosophers were those? How was it resolved?

        • Pofarmer

          Going all Aristotlean? Here’s a clue. Aristotle was pretty much Universally wrong in his physics. The only place you see him brought up today is metaphysics, because it’s considered non falsifiable.

        • SteveK

          The Genetic Fallacy won’t buy you an inch.

        • Pofarmer

          Awwww, that’s so cute.

        • Kodie

          You don’t have the humility to say you don’t know. You are a coward with a superstition who claims to know or at least be deferential to an imaginary abuser whom you believe will fuck the shit out of you if you dared to say you don’t know.

        • SteveK

          You don’t know, but you know your worldview is the correct one?

          “Humility” and “I don’t know” and “Trust me, science will figure it out” are not theories.

        • Kodie

          Can you falsify it?

        • Susan

          You don’t know but you know your worldview is the correct one?

          Do you believe in Immaterial Tornado Gremlins, Steve?

          “Humility and “I don’t know” and “Trust me, science will figure it out” are not theories.

          What is a theory, Steve? Please be clear about what you mean by the term. When you did all your philosophical lurnin’, you must have missed the chapters on special pleading or begging the question or burden of proof. Were you away sick when they delved into equivocation?

          “Catholicyawhehjesus did it” is not a theory.

          “Humility” is a reasonable response to “I don’t know”. Being an arrogant sod and pretending to know is a less reasonable response but that doesn’t seem to bother you.

          “Trust me, science will figure it out” is a strawman.

          Here is what Greg said:

          My theory is that there are some things we will not have enough information to explain but that jumping to a supernatural explanation is always presumptuous.

          I can’t tell if you’re just not very smart or if you’re a dishonest fuck. I worry it might be both.

          God doesn’t exist in the gaps. That’s never been my claim.

          That’s funny. Sad and funny at the same time.

        • MR

          Both.

        • Susan

          Both.

          *sigh*

          Yep.

          From A-Z since he got here, for so many months now, that I typed “dishonest fuck” on the internet for the very first time after well over five years.

          Steve’s an idiot. And a deeply dishonest one, at that.

          Oh… and he’s not very nice.

          That’s twice, now.

          I am so tired of these homeopaths anti-vaxxers Raelians climate change deniers psychics solipsists theists.

          They claim their philosophy trumps evidence ’cause “philosophy”.

          It looks good on a T-shirt so they call it a “worldview” and they call our eyerolls in response “the other worldview”.

          Some of them fall into one of two categories. “The deceivers” and “the deceived”.

          Enough fall into both that bad ideas can travel around the planet twice before reason (which seems best honed by evidence) can get its shoelaces tied.

        • MR

          that I typed “dishonest fuck” on the internet for the very first time after well over five years.

          That’s huge coming from you. And, sadly, well deserved on his part. This is the state of apologetics.

        • Dys

          I don’t think the question is all that interesting. All we have evidence for is ‘something’. No one has ever demonstrated that ‘nothing’ is even possible. ‘Nothing’ is pure speculation – in essence, asking the question involves making an unwarranted assumption concerning possibilities.

          The point, however, is that simply attributing things to God doesn’t actually explain anything. It just pushes things back a level, providing the shallow convenience of having an answer without any actual knowledge.

        • SteveK

          >> I don’t think the question is all that interesting.

          Sure you do.

          >> The point, however, is that simply attributing things to God doesn’t actually explain anything.

          That’s you being interested in the question. You think it’s crucial to answer the question a particular way and it concerns you if someone doesn’t get it right.

        • Dys

          You need to work on your reading comprehension. I explained why I don’t think it’s an interesting question and the problem with it, and I pointed out that using God as an answer doesn’t actually accomplish anything useful.

          You don’t get to ignore all that with a “nuh uh” response. Well, not if you think you deserve to be taken seriously anyway. Get back to me when you’ve found a way to establish that ‘nothing’ is possible. Until then, you’re just blowing smoke.

        • SteveK

          >> I pointed out that using God as an answer doesn’t actually accomplish anything useful

          I find it very useful. To each his own, I guess.

          >> No one has ever demonstrated that ‘nothing’ is even possible.

          I agree – from nothing comes nothing. This universe did not always exist so it requires an explanation with some thing as the cause of it. What? You don’t find the question to be interesting so okay we can drop the discussion.

        • Dys

          I find it very useful. To each his own, I guess.

          As I stated, attributing things to God allows people to pretend at knowledge. Nothing more. I can accomplish the same thing by saying “It’s magic!”.

          This universe did not always exist so it requires an explanation with some thing as the cause of it.

          Should I bother pointing out that the origins of the universe is not the same thing as asking “why is there something rather than nothing”? The origins of the universe is interesting; the other is not.

        • SteveK

          >> I can accomplish the same thing by saying “It’s magic!”.

          You can, but it’s not the same thing. I know what magic is and it’s not anything like God. You say you know about God, but you’re pretending to know.

          >> The origins of the universe is interesting; the other is not.

          I intended them both to be the same question. Good to know my question is interesting.

        • Dys

          You can, but it’s not the same thing.

          In terms of an explanation it is. You can tack on other things to “goddidit” to make it a more personally fulfilling attempt at an answer, but it still doesn’t actually provide an answer. It’s essentially confusing belief with knowledge, possessing the former yet pretending to have the latter.

          I intended them both to be the same question. Good to know my question is interesting.

          Then your intentions are misplaced, because they’re not the same question at all. The “something rather than nothing” question assumes too much.

        • SteveK

          >> In terms of an explanation it is.

          Not at all. What you’re telling me here is that you don’t know much about Christianity or God.

          >> You can tack on other things to “goddidit” to make it a more personally fulfilling attempt at an answer, but it still doesn’t actually provide an answer.

          God is not window dressing tacked onto an explanation just to pretty it up. You continue to pretend to know what you’re talking about.

        • Dys

          You can tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, but you’re just continuing your trend of “nuh uh”-ing everything.

          If you want to believe “goddidit” provides an answer, fine. It’s not testable, and it certainly can’t come close to constituting actual knowledge, but it’s a case of whatever floats your boat.

          However, it’s not as if someone couldn’t make up an equally elaborate story about magic that performs the same function. You’re just pushing the answer back a level. That’s it.

        • SteveK

          >> However, it’s not as if someone couldn’t make up an equally elaborate story about magic that performs the same function.

          You can tell me that it’s the same, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s not even close.

        • Dys

          Possibly because you feel that you have a personal connection with your non-answer. I’ll also point out that you’ve completely neglected to state what you actually mean. But I’m tired of the “nuh uh” answers, and it appears that’s all you’ve got to offer me. So I’ll bid you adieu.

        • Kodie

          You continue to procrastinate telling us what you’re talking about. How did god do it? God is immaterial and he had no materials to work with. Stop dodging.

        • MR

          I know what magic is and it’s not anything like God.

          Ha! Now magic exists. Precious.

        • MNb

          What’s the difference between magic and god? The only difference I see is that you worship only one of them.

        • Kodie

          Magic is the manipulation of the audience to display an illusion of something seemingly impossible that is in reality physically possible, and must be in order to accomplish it. God is not even that much. You have yet to explain what you mean.

        • MNb

          “from nothing comes nothing”
          And SteveK keeps on denying science.
          Moment X: nothing – no electron, no positron.
          Moment X = x: a positron-electron pair, uncaused.
          Math totally allows the very same for universes.
          But SteveK doesn’t want to know.
          ‘Cuz god.

          “it requires an explanation with some thing as the cause of it. What?”
          I already offered one. One without any supernatural magic like “god creates”. SteveK doesn’t want to know. Fortunately I’m a stubborn guy.

          https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/a-mathematical-proof-that-the-universe-could-have-formed-spontaneously-from-nothing-ed7ed0f304a3#.2qbxfac3l

          Sad, isn’t it, how science continues to progress while you have to ruminate the same worn out arguments over and over again?

        • SteveK

          Space/time is not “nothing” so there’s your error.

          I saw a guy once “prove” that God exists using a math proof. Its’ amazing what you can do with numbers.

        • Kodie

          An immaterial nothingness created everything from no materials whatsoever – and your beliefs explain this how?

        • SteveK

          How’s your falsifiable theory doing? Oh, yeah, all you have is “Humility”, “I don’t know” and “Trust me, science will figure it out”. The Three Horsemen

        • Greg G.

          You have no humility, you cannot admit when you do not know, and you don’t understand how science works, yet you try to criticize others.

        • SteveK

          When will you admit that “I don’t know” and “Trust me” is not a falsifiable theory? But beyond that….

          Even if atheism were true, so what? I find it uninteresting and rather boring so I wouldn’t live like it was true. I would live as if God exists because it’s more interesting to me.

          I hear this same response from atheists concerning God so I figure it must be a valid answer.

        • Greg G.

          When will you admit that “I don’t know” and “Trust me” is not a falsifiable theory?

          I’m more than happy to admit that. They are not even theories. “I don’t know” is either a statement of fact or it is a lie if whatever in question is known. “Trust me” is your windmill that you are dueling on by yourself. It is the opposite of what I said. I said that there may be things that science will never understand. One of the things science will never get would be how you got “Trust me, science will figure it out” from that.

          Even if atheism were true, so what? I find it uninteresting and rather boring so I wouldn’t live like it was true. I would live as if God exists because it’s more interesting to me.

          Think how interesting and not boring life would be if you were married to Kate Upton. You should pretend you are living that fantasy.

          You can live however you want to live if you live and let live. But why go to atheist blogs to talk about it? Why say you believe for reasons and demonstrate that you believe for pathetically bad reasons? Are you trying to convince yourself that you are right?

          Atheism is just one little part of valuing critical thinking. Not all atheists do but no theists do.

          Life is better without nagging cognitive dissonance in your core beliefs.

        • SteveK

          >> You can live however you want to live if you live and let live.

          Then why do you nag me about the way I live out my life? I see some glaring hypocrisy here.

          >> Life is better without nagging c ognitive dissonance in your core beliefs.

          If it’s true that a person can live however they want to live, this statement seems to be entirely irrelevant.

        • MNb

          You see hypocrisy because your perception has been seriously affected by your theism. You begin talking about how you lead your life with “I would live as if God exists because it’s more interesting to me.” Greg G merely reacts to this. You blame him for what you do yourself.

          “If it’s true that a person can live however they want to live, this statement seems to be entirely irrelevant.”
          If you think it irrelevant if a person lives a good life (whatever good means here) you’re correct.

        • Greg G.

          Then why do you nag me about the way I live out my life? I see some glaring hypocrisy here.

          I don’t nag you about the way you live your life, I nag you about using fallacies in your method of argument. If you happen to live your life based on those fallacies, that is beside the point, it is your problem.

          >> Life is better without nagging c ognitive dissonance in your core beliefs.

          If it’s true that a person can live however they want to live, this statement seems to be entirely irrelevant.

          It’s something I learned when I could look at my subjective religious feeling from an objective perspective. Now, it’s part of my testimony. I recommend it to you free of charge.

        • SteveK

          >> I nag you about using fallacies in your method of argument.

          Which is an example of you nagging about the way a person lives.

          >> It’s something I learned when I could look at my subjective religious feeling from an objective perspective.

          You’re saying the objective perspective leads to knowledge of what things are “better” (Life is better). How does that work from a scientific perspective?

        • Kodie

          How is “wait until you die and find out” working for you?

          You are really just a know-nothing asshole, your arguments suck, your demeanor sucks, you pretty much have nothing positive to support your shitty claim.

        • SteveK

          Ha! The irony is just too much

        • Kodie

          I wish you would tell us what you mean sometime, but you choose to be a prick about how little you know.

        • MNb
        • Kodie

          It’s called “humility”. Not the fake kind like you claim to have.

        • SteveK

          “humility” is not a theory.

        • Kodie

          You have nothing to offer but arrogance.

        • Maybe he’s like the little drummer boy. He doesn’t have much by which to honor Jesus, but he does the best he can.

        • Pofarmer

          “God ….explains why something exists rather than nothing.” Except it doesn’t. It’s circular question begging.

          “There is a similar atheistic claim that is on the table. It too attempts to explains why something exists rather than nothing. ”

          It’s not even clear that why is the correct question.

          “Whatever that claim is, can that claim be falsified? Let me know.”

          Absoutely, or it’s not science. Every theory and model by a Laurece Kraus or a Sean Carroll or a Neil DeGrasse Tyson is falsifiable, at least in principle, depending on our abilities.

        • SteveK

          >> Except it doesn’t.

          Except it does. (that was easy)

          >>It’s circular question begging

          It’s not (another easy “refutation”). Care to explain?

          >> It’s not even clear that why is the correct question.

          HOW is it that something exists rather than nothing. Try that one instead.

          >> Absoutely, or it’s not science.

          Lots of claims in this post. Care to elaborate on your scientific theory, or do you just say stuff as if it’s true?

        • Pofarmer

          Well, cosmologists have got the how back to the Planck epoch, which is when current models run into problems. To get further than that, you’re gonna have to refer to the work of the likes of Sean Carroll or laurence Krauss. Dr. carroll even has a blog, PreposterousUniverse. Check it out, he’ll even respond to questions.

          What other claims? The scientific theories are falsifiable? That’s fairly basic and noncontroversial? That theoretical physicists consider their models falsifiable? I dunno. Ask one, or read one. You could certainly use it.

        • SteveK

          I’ll repeat what I said to Scott since you mentioned the Planck epoch.

          Me: I think you’re assuming too much here. What if the explanation in the form of a hypothesis is one that science cannot test? You have to allow for that very real possibility. Considering that the explanation might exist where the laws of physics are very different (pre-big bang), it would be impossible to carry out the tests necessary to falsify the hypothesis.

        • Pofarmer

          So, just throw a God in there and Shazam!

        • MNb

          Yeah, that’s a serious and unsolved problem. Imo that (like the example “pre-Big Bang” is where physics becomes philosophy. However it still is a fact that science is chock full of falsifiable statements, while no religious system is.
          The question asked you is: now what?

        • SteveK

          If it’s possible that the explanation cannot be tested by science – which is the situation we are in – then God has not been ruled out.

        • adam

          Where does YOUR ‘god’ get it’s KNOWLEDGE?

          We know knowledge EVOLVES.

          Where did YOUR ‘god’ get its ability to create from?

          What was YOUR ‘god’s’ first thought?

        • Greg G.

          Neither can Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy be tested by science

        • SteveK

          Ah, yes, the this old gem of a tactic.

        • MNb

          Yeah, and it shines as brightly as it did when it was brand new.
          Ah well – the favourite copout of apologists again. Yell something random to avoid addressing the actual argument.
          Dishonest to the core. Definition of apologetics: looking for lame excuses.

        • MR

          Excellent example of God of the Gaps, thank you!

        • SteveK

          Except, no. I’m only saying that God is a logical possibility.

        • MR

          It’s god of the gaps, bud, sorry.

        • SteveK

          Nice.

        • MR

          It’s an empty appeal that says exactly nothing. You could just as easily say it doesn’t rule out that a giant, green rabbit is projecting what you think is reality into your brain, or any number of ridiculous other scenarios, and it would be just as relevant. It’s classic god of the gaps. It shows nothing and serves no purpose other than a baseless appeal like a child saying, “Yeah, but it could happen.

          Nice.

        • SteveK

          >> It’s an empty appeal that says exactly nothing.

          It’s not.

        • MR

          It’s an empty appeal that is as relevant as the green rabbit. I tells us nothing relevant.

        • Kodie

          If it says something, you haven’t described what that is. It’s almost, almost like you have a hard time believing it yourself. You haven’t given one reason (good or otherwise) to believe it. You are devoid of content, translating your god as a big nothing that says nothing. Your fail. Not ours.

        • MNb

          “the explanation cannot be tested by science”
          The explanation provided by quantum fields totally can be tested by science. That’s why I mentioned electron-positron pair production. It cannot be tested in that single respect, which is not nearly the same. Many scientific theories cannot be tested in some respect. You cannot test Newtonian Laws on some distant unknown planet, for instance. That’s not a reason at all to reject them.

          Science never aspired to rule out any god. Neither did I ever make that claim.
          You claimed that your god is a necessary entity to explain why there is someting rather than nothing.
          I showed you there is another explanation – one that can be empirically tested – one that’s completely natural.
          Hence your god is not necessary and your claim is false.
          Dishonest as you are you now sneakily try to change it in “god has not been ruled out” – something nobody ever claimed in the first place.
          Sorry for you, SteveK. I have been tricked by dishonest apologists like you a couple of times too often. If you want to trick me without me noticing you’ll have to do a lot better.
          In the meantime you nicely have confirmed that apologetics only can claim to be rational by being intellectually dishonest.
          Thanks.

        • SteveK

          >> You cannot test Newtonian Laws on some distant unknown planet, for instance. That’s not a reason at all to reject them.

          I agree. It would, however, be a reason to conclude there is no way to falsify the theory.

          >> I showed you there is another explanation – one that can be empirically tested – one that’s completely natural.

          Showed?? You didn’t show me anything. Then you claimed it *could* be the explanation before you actually knew if it IS the explanation. “Trust me, it will be the explanation we’re looking for”, you say. That requires faith on my part and I thought that this was taboo.

          >> Hence your god is not necessary and your claim is false.

          That is philosophy masquerading as science. You haven’t shown me that my claim is false. If it’s science you should be able to show me. I’ll wait here…

          Your unending vitriol adds a nice touch. Classy.

        • MR

          In the meantime you nicely have confirmed that apologetics only can claim to be rational by being intellectually dishonest.

          Dishonesty is never a good tactic when one is claiming the moral high ground.

        • Kodie

          Let me see. God has not been ruled out, therefore, inspect the bible for groups of people and behaviors to hate on.

        • Greg G.

          What if the explanation in the form of a hypothesis is one that science cannot test?

          The human mind is quite capable of imagining scenarios that cannot be tested scientifically. That does not make them worthy of consideration. The supernatural is just contrived to be not testable by natural means. Every time that science has developed the ability to test a supernatural claim, the claim has been falsified. Nobody has to debunk every god claim ever contrived. The claimant needs to provide some reason to think it is more than imaginary.

        • Susan

          Except it does.

          .

          There is no explanatory value in your claim. What does it explain? Nothing.

          It’s not (another easy “refutation”)

          Good thing you put “refutation” in quotes. You’re hilarious. It absolutely is begging the question.

          Care to explain?

          http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/begging-the-question.html

          . Begging the Question is a fallacy in which the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true. This sort of “reasoning” typically has the following form.

          Premises in which the truth of the conclusion is claimed or the truth of the conclusion is assumed (either directly or indirectly).

          Claim C (the conclusion) is true.

          So, yes. Begging the question.

          HOW is it that something exists rather than nothing?

          How could nothing exist?

        • MNb

          “HOW is it that something exists rather than nothing. Try that one instead.”
          I already told you.
          Quantum fluctuations.

          https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/a-mathematical-proof-that-the-universe-could-have-formed-spontaneously-from-nothing-ed7ed0f304a3#.rgwnay4fr

          As the good science denier you are you of course preferred to neglect this when I told you.

          “Care to elaborate on your scientific theory, or do you just say stuff as if it’s true?”
          Check some scientific texts – books, magazines, whatever. You’ll find they are crammed with falsifiable statements.

        • Kodie

          HOW is it that something exists rather than nothing. Try that one instead.

          You haven’t answered that yourself. On the one hand, we have hundreds or thousands of superstitions that pretend they have an answer to that question, and you don’t believe most of them. On the other hand, we have a historical review of scientific answers to once-mysteries of the universe that we no longer attribute to superstitions*.

          *Crazy religious people ignore these answers.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Your question is actually a good one, and for any good scientific hypothesis, the answer will be “yes.” Until a claim is clear enough that it runs the risk of being wrong, it is not a useful hypothesis.

          Some claims about God appear to be useful in this sense–God will protect my brother as he fights in Iraq; God will heal my friend so she doesn’t leave her two babies without a mother; or God will prevent the scourge of legal same-sex marriage in the US–but when the claims turn out to be wrong, believers don’t alter their basic belief that God exists, is powerful, and loves them personally. Instead, they do something like change their definitions of “power” and “love.”

          Note that I am not saying a scientist will abandon his or her theory at the first sign of contradictory evidence. First they’ll double, triple, and quadruple check to make sure the data are correct. Then they’ll look for explanations that would still fit with their theory. Then they’ll seek to modify the theory a little. But over time, they’ll eventually have to abandon it if contradictory evidence keeps popping up. One of the tasks of organized religion is to make sure adherents never abandon the theory (i.e., the religion), no matter what evidence pops up.

        • SteveK

          >> Your question is actually a good one, and for any good scientific hypothesis, the answer will be “yes.”

          I think you’re assuming too much here. What if the explanation in the form of a hypothesis is one that science cannot test? You have to allow for that very real possibility. Considering that the explanation might exist where the laws of physics are very different (pre-big bang), it would be impossible to carry out the tests necessary to falsify the hypothesis.

          >> Then they’ll look for explanations that would still fit with their theory. Then they’ll seek to modify the theory a little.

          Nothing wrong with that. But people complain when religious people do this regarding theology for some reason. It’s called misinterpretation or misreading or misunderstanding and there’s room for that in Christianity. We expect it will happen because we are imperfect.

          >> One of the tasks of organized religion is to make sure adherents never abandon the theory

          Don’t paint with such a wide brush. Not all religions do this. Not everyone is a blind “adherent” who just goes along without questioning and challenging. Let history be your guide.

        • Scott_In_OH

          What if the explanation in the form of a hypothesis is one that science cannot test?

          Then scientists will keep looking for clever ways to test it. Without the tests, it’s just pretty math. At worst, someone might say, “I guess we’ll never know.” No scientist, however, would say, “We can’t test this claim, so I must be right.”

          Nothing wrong with that. But people complain when religious people do this regarding theology for some reason.

          I almost made this point explicitly but left it implicit instead. Yes, there can be a tendency among skeptics to paint scientists as unbiased truth seekers going where the evidence leads. Reality is much messier. BUT–and this is important–the discipline itself will abandon false claims over time. The drip, drip, drip of new evidence is relentless, and hypotheses and theories fall to it over time. There is no similar force in religion.

          Not all religions do this. Not everyone is a blind “adherent” who just goes along without questioning and challenging. Let history be your guide.

          These are 3 different statements.

          1. I think all organized religions do, in fact, do at least some of this. That’s what makes them organized religions. They are not all cults, but they try to keep members on the “straight and narrow” in the face of contradictory evidence.

          2. You are right. The fact that organized religions try to hold on to their members (or, more charitably, try to help their members avoid crises of faith) does not mean none of the members question anything.

          3. I don’t know what you mean by “let history be your guide” in this instance, but my own history is one of many years–decades even–as a deeply believing Christian. Over time, however, I noticed claims from Christianity that didn’t line up with reality. It took a VERY long time before I saw those problems as a big enough challenge that I should question my faith entirely, but when I did–when I allowed for the possibility that God didn’t exist–a great deal of what I observed about the world made much more sense.

        • Pofarmer

          “but when I did–when I allowed for the possibility that God didn’t exist–a great deal of what I observed about the world made much more sense.”

          This.

          As Christopher Hitchens said, “We are evolved Primates, not fallen Angels.”

          Pow.

        • SteveK

          >> the discipline itself will abandon false claims over time.
          >> There is no similar force in religion.

          The picture is not quite so rosy for science and not quite so gloomy for religion. Everyone is human and has their faults. There are scientists that have held onto false theories and there are religions that have dissolved because they were untenable. The force that works to keep both of them in check over time is called reality.

          >> I think all organized religions do, in fact, do at least some of this. That’s what makes them organized religions. They are not all cults, but they try to keep members on the “straight and narrow” in the face of contradictory evidence.

          This is news to me. Give me an example from Christianity.

          >> Over time, however, I noticed claims from Christianity that didn’t line up with reality.

          Examples? I honestly don’t know of a single example so I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

        • adam

          >> Over time, however, I noticed claims from Christianity that didn’t line up with reality.

          ” I honestly don’t know of a single example so I look forward to hearing what you have to say.”

          HONESTLY? Do you have any concept what the word means?

          MAGIC doesnt line up with reality.

          Yet it is the FOUNDATION of christianity.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Your first response misunderstands mine. The reason I italicized “the discipline” and “over time” is precisely because individual scientists can have biases and hold on to hypotheses in the face of contradictory evidence. Over time, however, other scientists without the same biases will rectify the matter–thus, the discipline tends to discard inaccurate hypotheses over time. On the flip side, it is not true that religions are systematically discarded by the community of believers because evidence builds up against them. Both young-earth and old-earth creationism persist more than a hundred years after Darwin (and both groups are sure the Bible supports them). If a believer prays for healing and doesn’t get it, it does not affect his or her belief in the efficacy of prayer. Yes, religions evolve (see another of Bob’s recent posts), but not as the result of testing hypotheses against evidence.

          Sunday worship, revivals, and summer camps are all examples of organized religions trying to fortify their adherents against “temptations” of the world, including the temptation not to believe anymore. “‘The world’ tells you X [that prayer doesn’t work, that there is no afterlife, that just being a good person is good enough], but ‘The Word’ tells you Y [that we don’t understand God’s ways, that we must have faith, that we are only saved by believing in Jesus].” It is constant reinforcement, including emphasis on the value of believing counter-intuitive claims, not being distracted by what seem like contradictions, and maintaining your faith.

          On Christian claims that don’t line up with reality and/or facts that make more sense if there’s no God:

          — Christianity makes several scientific claims that are contradicted by evidence. The escape, of course, is to assert the Bible is not to be taken literally on these questions, but then it’s hard to know why it should be taken literally in other areas.
          The creation story
          The flood
          The existence of a literal Adam and Eve from whom all humans are descended
          The non-existence of evolution (This is not stated explicitly in the Bible, but most versions of Christianity insisted it couldn’t be true long after The Origin of Species, and plenty still insist.)

          — On the flip side, the Bible does nothing to explain our natural world that science doesn’t do much better. Sure, it can be re-interpreted after the fact, but it doesn’t generate a single hypothesis that we are currently testing. (Not even the young-earth creationists seem to be using it for that. They try to take scientists’ hypotheses and refute them with cherry-picked facts.)

          — The inefficacy of prayer. You know what the most effective prayer is? The prayer for inner peace. God was much more likely to help me calm my nerves before a presentation or accept the death of a loved one without falling apart than He was to bring a friend I prayed for to salvation or to heal a young mother of her pancreatic cancer. So either God is a bit of a jerk, or He’s no more powerful than the yoga instructor at the YMCA who taught me breathing and meditation, or He’s not there at all. (That last option would also explain why so many “miraculous” cures tend to be conducted through the hands and medicines of doctors.)

          — The enormity of the universe. Sure, maybe God made this space that is billions of light years across, didn’t say anything about it to his original authors, took billions of years to help humans evolve on an unremarkable speck of dust within that space, put souls in them at some point, and thinks they are the epitome of His creation and wants nothing more than for them to worship Him forever. Alternatively, maybe we and the universe are products of impersonal forces, even though we are able to make our own meaning and derive our own satisfaction.

          — God is not, in fact, the perfect teacher or father. (This raises another example of how organized religion tries to inoculate its adherents against contradictory evidence. We are told God is perfect, and when it doesn’t look that way, we are told we simply don’t understand.) A good teacher doesn’t knowingly let his or her students persist for too long in misunderstanding a fundamental lesson. God looks down and sees people killing each other in His name and doesn’t do squat. A good parent matches discipline to infraction and patiently explains the reason for the punishment. Unless the child is truly a danger to the parent or someone else, the good parent will always welcome the child back to try again. On a more mundane level, a good parent routinely talks and spends time with the child. God doesn’t communicate clearly or directly, doesn’t match punishment with crime in this life (bad things happen to good people; good things happen to bad people; there is no pattern of human behavior and divine punishment), and in the afterlife, he inflicts infinite punishment for finite transgressions. That’s not a good parent, much less a perfect one.

          — Many, many Christians, including myself, have struggled mightily to ascertain God’s will in their lives and not heard Him reply. Mother Theresa didn’t feel His presence for the last 50 years of her life. She persisted in believing He was hiding Himself for some reason (another example of being inoculated against contradictory evidence). When I wondered if maybe He wasn’t there at all, puzzle pieces fell into place.

        • SteveK

          >> Both young-earth and old-earth creationism persist more than a hundred years after Darwin (and both groups are sure the Bible supports them).

          There will always be dissenting viewpoints no matter how strong the evidence is. Science has these people and so does every area of study. This is no different than the scientist that believes in a flat earth (they exist) and insists that science supports them.

          Most believers take the old earth view *because* of the evidence for it. This fact flies in the face of your claim that believers ignore/suppress evidence. There is no organized attempt to keep members on the “straight and narrow” in the face of contradictory evidence. That was your original claim and it is in large part false.

          >> If a believer prays for healing and doesn’t get it, it does not affect his or her belief in the efficacy of prayer.

          Why should it affect it? There’s no guarantee that healing will occur. That fact is Christian Theology 101.

          >> It is constant reinforcement, including emphasis on the value of believing counter-intuitive claims, not being distracted by what seem like contradictions, and maintaining your faith.

          It’s purpose serves as a constant reminder to stick to the correct theological understanding of God as it has been revealed to us. No more, no less.

          As to the rest of your list, I sympathize with your struggle because we all go through it to some degree or another. I do. Some of it is mostly emotional but a lot of it is not.

          Trust me when I say that every issue you’ve raised stands or falls on having the correct theology – and a humble attitude. If your *core* theology is messed up, you will come to some of the conclusions you have reached. Yes, that’s me saying you have some false views about God. I suggest you read a trusted source. It helps a lot. Also, if you have a prideful attitude then that chip on your shoulder will keep you from seeing the truth. That is a truism for every situation – not just this one.

          >> When I wondered if maybe He wasn’t there at all, puzzle pieces fell into place.

          In my opinion the exact opposite happens. You’ve exchanged one belief for another – a belief that God explains it all for a belief that it all makes sense without God. Yours is a belief, make no mistake. I hope you are willing to apply the same degree of skepticism to it as you had before. All the best to you.

        • There’s no guarantee that healing will occur [with prayer]. That fact is Christian Theology 101.

          The Bible itself guarantees it. Or maybe you just discard the Bible as some old book.

          I sympathize with your struggle because we all go through it to some degree or another. I do. Some of it is mostly emotional.

          That must be difficult. But no atheist I know has problems with his faith. Give it a try.

          If your *core* theology is messed up, you will come to some of the conclusions you have reached.

          You may be right, but there are so many correct theologies to choose from. What’s a Christian to do?

          You’ve exchanged one belief for another – a belief that God explains it all for a belief that it all makes sense without God. Yours is a belief, make no mistake.

          An evidence-based belief, the best kind.

        • Kodie

          The Bible doesn’t sync with reality, they know that and we know that. The difference is, it’s easy to discard it on that basis, almost too easy. It’s much more interesting to them, in a pathological way, to pretend god has reasons for not doing anything he doesn’t want to. We get random statistical results, and they insist on calling it design. We alter statistical results, perhaps through medical or technological advances, for example, and they will call it a miracle.

          Remember that guy whose major argument was the so-called miracles of Lourdes? Who was impressed that nearly everyone who goes to Lourdes is not healed by the very experience, but the impressive scientific/medical team assembled by the Vatican to assess claims of healing, healing rates, recovery duration, etc.? And even if they were sensitive and picky about these patients, weren’t allowed to declare miracles. I explained over and over that the Vatican designs this test to seem scientific, and takes over when their own non-scientific criteria are met by a majority vote of the team, not even a consensus, declaring “miracles”?

          Partly impressed that the Vatican uses real doctors they hand-pick for the team, and partly impressed that the process weeds out so many claimants. Most people who go to Lourdes do not get any healing enough to even file a claim, and from what I could pick up, was either their last resort hard cases that didn’t work magic, or was complementary to traditional medicine, which may or may not have been working, so by the time they got home from their vacation, they might attribute their near-immediate wellness to their trip instead of the course of medical treatments they had undertaken prior. The medical team is supposed to weed these out, and I imagine most of the time, people aren’t as good at covering as they think they are. Imagine using medicine, going to Lourdes, recovering, and wanting to believe it was a miracle, and the fucking Vatican tells you no, no, it was medicine, again.

        • I think it was about 67 claimed miracles in over 100 years. And none of those “miracles” are validated by science.

          Surely some doctor/scientist would be eager to write the first paper documenting modern science’s first validated miracle healing?

        • Kodie

          I asked multiple times how the rate of “healing” compares with staying home. Lourdes is a tourist site – 2nd most hotels per km in France. I mean, I guess they had to accommodate those who made the trip, who think they’re going to get miracle healed.

          It is estimated that in recent years about 5 million pilgrims a year visit the shrine at Lourdes. Over the past 150 years, some 200 million people have made the pilgrimage.* For those who care, that’s a success rate of .0000335% or 1 out of every 3 million. Furthermore, since 1947 anyone claiming a miraculous cure has to go before a medical board. “From 1947 to 1990, only 1,000 cures were claimed and only 56 were recognized in that time, averaging 1.3 cures a year,against 57 a year before 1914.”* Since 1978, there have been only four recognized cures.* So, if you’re thinking of going to Lourdes for a miracle cure, the odds are not very high in your favor.

          http://skepdic.com/lourdes.html

        • When you consider that a trip to Lourdes will be expensive and the risk of accident along the way are probably bigger than the cure rate, one wonders why anyone bothers.

        • MR

          Why go all the way to Lourdes when you can visit Chimayó.

        • Eating magic dirt. Wow.

        • MR

          Oh, ye of little faith.

          I stumbled on this place by accident. People were rubbing it on themselves and gettin’ all emotional, and I was, like, “Holy what?!” When I got home, I was telling one of the girls about it and her eyes got all big…, “I’ve been there! I brought back a gallon zip-lock bag! I’ll bring you some.” What was I gonna say, “No?” So, if you need some holy dirt, Bob, I can spot you a pinch for your rheumatism.

        • Pofarmer

          You’re doing a better job of arguing against your God than I ever could.

        • Greg G.

          Most believers take the old earth view *because* of the evidence for it.

          That’s not a huge majority of Christians in the US though. Polls consistently show that around 45% of the population are evolution-accepting Christians but 40% favor YEC. That shows that believers will suppress evidence that is contrary to their beliefs.

          The Bible promises that prayers will be answered. The prayer study was done with thousands of people. It showed that those prayed for did worse than those not prayed for. Christianity 101 is lessons on how to stop thinking.

          Your response is nothing but apologizing for the impotence of an omnipotence.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I think we’ve learned a few things, but our conversation’s fruitfulness has probably about petered out.

          I think you learned what “falsifiable” means, which is a good thing.

          I think I learned that we agree on almost all the empirics, but we draw different conclusions. That’s interesting, but it makes it hard to go forward.

          I would be grateful, though, if you could tell me what “the correct theology” is. It would be good if you could be more specific than “read a trusted source.” I’ve read the Bible, the Catholic Catechism, the Church Fathers (including Aquinas, whom you sometimes reference obliquely), and much else. I would prefer if you could summarize the correct theology yourself and maybe then tell me what I should read.

        • SteveK

          If you’ve read those sources then you should be in pretty good theological shape – but you’re not. I see the errors in your comments. Somehow you let other outside sources tell you who God *actually* is and then it all unraveled.

          Anyway…thanks for the chat and all the best to you, and Merry Christmas.

        • People read the same theology that you do and come to different conclusions. Sounds like the Bible etc. are ambiguous.

          I’d be disappointed if my god could get his message across no more clearly than this.

        • MNb

          It struck me that the only method SteveK provides is “read the context and you’ll see” – a method (it’s called hermeneutics) that has been known to be problematic since many, many decades. Not that hermeneutics is bad per se, but as with all methods you must accept its limits. SteveK rather thinks it’s a miracle cure.

        • And it’s reliable, too! That’s why there’s only one way to answer any question within Christianity.

        • MNb

          Plus of course at best it only shows what the author of a given text meant. But I gave up explaining him that point before I even contemplated to try.

        • SteveK

          Happens with all forms of communication. You know this.

        • I do indeed know this. Still, I’m shocked that you would admit that God’s communication to his most cherished creation would look like just another error-ridden Bronze Age document from a pre-scientific tribe.

          Again, I have far, far higher standards for your god than you do. Weird.

        • Greg G.

          Somehow you let other outside sources tell you who God *actually* is and then it all unraveled.

          It’s called “education”. You are implying that one must remain ignorant of anything outside the Bible in order to maintain belief in the Bible.

          If one seeks truth, one should not pick a “truth” before considering other possible alternative and stick with it no matter what.

          Merry Christmas!

        • Kodie

          The drip, drip, drip of new evidence is relentless, and hypotheses and theories fall to it over time. There is no similar force in religion.

          The analogous force in religion seems to be a patchwork of ass-pulled answers meant to satisfy the confronting question that highlights religion’s disagreement with science. I find that the apologist’s tactic of using many weak arguments to equal one strong one not only doesn’t, but that these arguments contradict other of their own arguments. It’s funny when they want to ask a zillion Gish Gallop questions at once, since the answers that defeat each argument tend to defeat many of them at once, and should make them question some of their others. Science finds new information that disqualifies some of their claims, and there are always other claims and arguments. If you find the beginning of the universe isn’t god scientifically, they will come up with something else. The beginning of the universe seems to be the last shred they are holding onto, but if you can’t answer that question, that means it’s legit to hate on gay marriage and abortion. If you can satisfy that answer scientifically, they will come up with another vague human-type question that can only be answered by god (if science doesn’t know), and use it to keep promoting that shitty book and all the lies and garbage rules in it.

        • Greg G.

          The analogous force in religion seems to be a patchwork of ass-pulled answers

          The drip, drip, drip of incontinence.

        • Susan

          Not everyone is a blind “adherent” who just goes along without questioning and challenging.

          True. Not all religious people are like you.

        • MNb

          “But people complain when religious people do this regarding theology for some reason.”
          Your god is supposed to be perfect. It doesn’t make him look good if he appears uncapable of communicating his message perfectly, ie unambiguously, ie his message is open to multiple contradicting interpretations.
          But yeah, I’m willing to grant you this. Because it gets worse. For you.

          “It’s called misinterpretation or misreading or misunderstanding and there’s room for that in Christianity.”
          What’s your method? Let’s consider a concrete example.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobus_Capitein

          Pick your favourite theologian who interprets the Bible in such a way that he/she concludes that the Bible is against slavery. How do you decide that your theologian has the correct interpretation, while Capitein’s interpretation is the wrong one?
          Just to compare: I can exactly tell you in which respect the classical equations of kinematics are incorrect. I can exactly tell you which standard I use.
          Can you regarding theology of slavery? Given your claim that morality is objective you should.
          Of course not answering this question will also be an answer. It will be taken as a “no”, which makes your position untenable. I mean – highly peculiar that your perfect god is uncapable of providing the scholars who study his ambiguous message with a tool to decide how to interpret that message correctly.

        • SteveK

          I decide which interpretation of the text is correct by consulting the text and considering the context. That’s how it’s done.

          Try it yourself. Read any book and tell me how you know your understanding of the text is accurate, versus my understanding, and you’ll give me the same answer – read the book and consider the context.

        • adam

          “I decide which interpretation of the text is correct by consulting the text and considering the context.”

          And of course YOUR ‘wishful thinking’ that MAGIC is true.

        • MNb

          Why would I need to try it? Jacobus Capitein, who unlike me was a christian like you, already has done so. He has consulted the same text as you. He has considered the context exactly like you.
          Still he concluded that the Bible allowed for slavery, while you don’t. Not exactly the same answer. How come?
          Btw this problem has been know for more than 100 years.

          http://www.livius.org/articles/theory/hermeneutics/

          Scroll down a bit, to Objections.

          “the scholar starts with a lot of assumptions, dictated by his own class, nation, gender, or education.”
          Your method is notoriously unreliable for deciding which interpretation is correct and which one is a misunderstanding. That’s why Capitein and you arrive at different conclusions – different class, different nation, different education, different time.

          Or is this just another scientific tenet you reject?
          Btw typical that you refuse to apply what you write to the concrete example I provided. It’s as if you’re not capable of showing that Capitein was incorrect and misunderstood what he wrote.
          It still looks bad for your objective morality, of course.

        • SteveK

          >> Not exactly the same answer. How come?

          Uh, because people misinterpret things. How do we know a misinterpretation has occurred? Because we see the error when we read the book and consider the context.

          Show me I’m incorrect.

        • MNb

          Its’ impossible to show that you’re incorrect, because you don’t provide a method and/or standard at all.
          How do you see the error in the way Jacobus Capitein read the same book as a scholar of your choice and he considered the same context as that scholar of your choice?
          You simply don’t have such a method or standard but are too dishonest to admit it. Hence you just repeat your previous answer. The second time it remains of course as unsatisfactory as the first time. That’s why you refuse to address Capitein’s view on biblical slavery. I repeat:
          Jacobus Capitein, who unlike me was a christian like you, has consulted the same text as you. He has considered the context exactly like you. Still his conclusion totally differs from you. And you’re not able to show his interpretation incorrect.
          Thanks.

          Like I already wrote, not answering is also an answer.

        • SteveK

          Textual criticism is field of study. It’s not limited to religious texts. There are methods and standards.

          Look it up, genius.

        • MNb

          I did, stupid.
          I provided a link just above, stupid.
          It’s from a pro, stupid.
          I quoted from it, stupid.
          You totally neglected it – and that’s not stupid, that shows you’re dishonest to the core.

        • Kodie

          I remember from high school we analyzed literature. You imagine that the literature of the bible is written by someone other than human, though. You can textually criticize all you like, but show that there is a reason to analyze this book for evidence of a god and not just some really dumb shit superstition.

        • Greg G.

          When the Bible is against something; there is often a “Thou shalt not” in front of it.

          Exodus 20:13-17 (NRSV)13 You shall not murder.14 You shall not commit adultery.15 You shall not steal.16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

          Leviticus 19:19 (NRSV)19 You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.

          Deuteronomy 14:8 (NRSV)8 And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses.

          We don’t see a “Thou shalt not” against slavery. Other cultures of that time and in that vicinity ate pork but not the Hebrews so it is not just a cultural norm.

          Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

          Leviticus 22:10-11 (NRSV)10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food.

          These passages show that purchased slave were not indentured servants.

          Leviticus 25:44-46 (NRSV)44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

          Slaves could be kept forever and could be bequeathed to the owner’s heirs. They could be treated like slaves and they are excluded from the injunction of not being treated harshly.

          Exodus 21:20-21 (NRSV)20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

          A slave could be beaten to death without punishment if they could walk away from it and suffer through the night, or at least until sunset when the next day started.

          Deuteronomy 15:12-17 (NRSV)12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13 And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever.You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

          Exodus 21:2-6 (NRSV)2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

          These passages show that even a Hebrew could be made a slave for life. Exodus spells out exactly how to use family values to con an illiterate teenager into becoming such a slave.

          But the New Testament is different, right? Jesus says to not have slaves, right? Wrong!

          Luke 12:47-48 (NRSV)47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

          Jesus is in favor of slaves being beaten, even for no reason.

          In Philemon, Paul is writing to the owner of Onemisus in order to return the slave to his rightful master. He doesn’t make a plea for his release, only that he not be treated badly, because that apparently didn’t go without saying in the first century Christian community.

          But the rest of the New Testament calls for slaves to be freed, right? Nope. They are to obey their earthly masters.

          Ephesians 6:5-9 (NRSV)5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6 not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8 knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. 9 And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

          Colossians 3:22 (NRSV)22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

          1 Timothy 6:1 (NRSV)6 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed.

          Titus 2:9 (NRSV)9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back,

          1 Peter 2:18-20 (NRSV)18 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.

          Was that because it was just the way society was in the first century? No, here is a Roman pagan writer who thinks of slaves as friends who should be treated well.

          “‘They are slaves,’ people declare. NO, rather they are men.

          ‘Slaves! NO, comrades.

          ‘Slaves! NO, they are unpretentious friends.

          ‘Slaves! NO, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike. That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave.

          But why should they think it degrading? It is only purse-proud etiquette… All night long they must stand about hungry and dumb… They are not enemies when we acquire them; we make them enemies… This is the kernel of my advice: Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.

          ‘He is a slave.’ His soul, however, may be that of a free man.”

              — Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 65 AD), Epistulae Morales, 47.

          Jesus doesn’t think slaves should even be thanked for their service.

          7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” –Jesus, Luke 17:7-10

          Both the Old Testament and the New Testament allow for slavery and even harsh treatment of slaves. It is dishonest when Christians try to equivocate slavery with indentured servitude, the way foreign slaves are treated with the way Hebrew servants are treated.

        • Greg G.

          >> Then they’ll look for explanations that would still fit with their theory. Then they’ll seek to modify the theory a little.

          Nothing wrong with that. But people complain when religious people do this regarding theology for some reason.

          The modifications to the theory are because reality doesn’t agree with the theory and the modifications are to make the theory testable and therefore falsifiable. When religion is modified, it is to make it less testable. When religious people make a testable claim, other religious people criticize it. Remember Harold Camping? People who didn’t disagree with his basic claim that Christ would return still criticized him for setting a testable date.

          Let history be your guide.

          Yes, we see religions with testable claims falling by the wayside while religions with vague, untestable claims still existing but with no more evidence than the refuted ones.

        • Pofarmer

          Not sure if SteveK is aware of all the testable claims that Christianity used to make. As more of those got falsified, religion basically had to go on the defensive and make it’s beleifs more and more fluid, so you get the ” ground of all being” instead if the God who does x and y. This, of course, doesn’t stop the believers from believing in the God who does x and y, or the preachers from preaching it. But it does give the leaders some defense.

        • Dys

          What if the explanation in the form of a hypothesis is one that science cannot test?

          Then it’s not really a hypothesis at all.

          But people complain when religious people do this regarding theology for some reason.

          That’s what happens when people attempt to claim that a book is inerrant. The problem with theology is that it doesn’t actually have a solid base. In many ways, it’s not unlike fan fiction. Things can be retconned, adjusted, etc. as long as they don’t upset the core narrative too much.

        • Kodie

          Are you arguing that your imaginary being, being “unfalsifiable”, overrides/defeats falsifiable claims that are based on real-life observations?

        • MNb

          If that weren’t a problem christianity would cease to be meaningful regarding reality.

        • Greg G.

          Speaking of reality, if Islam were true then the ‘problem’ with it being unfalsifiable wouldn’t actually be a problem.

          Speaking of reality, if astrology were true then the ‘problem’ with it being unfalsifiable wouldn’t actually be a problem.

        • MR

          If my non-existent big brother were here he’d kick you’re ass.

        • MNb

          Ah – but he did. Your non-existing big brother gave Greg G a non-existing kick in a non-existing part of the ass. Now if Greg G really tries hard and has enough non-existing faith he might feel a non-existing pain in that non-existing part of his ass – a non-existing feeling, of course.
          Isn’t theology wonderful? Anything goes!
          Oh wait, that’s exactly the problem for us skeptics. Why can’t we just embrace the wonder of it all?

        • MR

          Why can’t we just embrace the wonder of it all?

          What boggles my mind is that we’re talking about a being who supposedly so loves the world that he can’t be bothered to come out from behind the unfalsifiability curtain. Fine for a deistic god, he doesn’t care if we know him or not, but if God truly loved the world, he wouldn’t be hiding himself, and he wouldn’t be creating people knowing their ultimate fate meant he was creating them for eternal torment. That is not love.

          This isn’t something to wonder at, it’s broken thinking.

        • Kodie

          They will say you just need to read it again and pray on it to get that access.

        • MR

          God, woman, I have missed you. Welcome back!

        • Kodie

          I didn’t get any notice or acclamation that I was right, but I guess things seem back to normal for now, and I need a good place to waste some time.

        • MR

          Ahem…, (shuffles feet), you’re right, we should have given you notice…, as far as acclamation…, guess we just didn’t want to upset our host.

          Glad your back, though. 🙂

        • Feel free to criticize the features of WT or my decision to adopt it. There’s already been plenty of both.

        • MR

          No, no, I’ve said my piece. I’m quite happy you brought back Disqus. As I said, I’m willing to give WT a chance, but I did just try again and am unable to log in.

        • If there’s anything new there that WT doesn’t know about, be sure to let them know. Given all the complaints, I’d sure like as many of them as possible to be solved if/when WT/666 becomes the primary commenting system.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what they don’t know. There were a lot of things about it that didn’t work technically like I think a commenting system should work, if the blogger would enjoy a lot of repeat traffic, and all that could be reinvented if they want to, but the main problem then is still the tone trolling, I mean their idealistic fantasy that commenting in their system would clear out pointless riffraff and let regulars exist in peace to talk it out calmly is dumb. I was abusive and nasty, and still have the highest WT rating on this blog. We stamped out the tone troll who rushed to usher in this new WT era with their passive aggressive ratings and polite grievances down to a 22 at last sighting! Where can they post now that their reputation is ruined? I got what I wanted, and that’s all that matters right now. I still think you should urge Patheos that WT ideals are unwanted and unneeded. WT seems like more of a personal blogging decision, if it worked properly, that I can see some bloggers using, but I wouldn’t post somewhere that uses it. I see no reason that commenting systems need to be uniform over this site. I won’t use my real name either, and I won’t be coerced into connecting with any social media accounts to prove I’m a real person with real opinions.

          Just letting everyone know – when Patheos forces commenting system conformity to WT, I’ll leave again.

        • That’s an idea–having individual bloggers pick the commenting system for their blog rather than it being uniform across Patheos.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you have access to, dashboard-wise or other amenities as the blogger, like a hidden blogger forum and some other documentation to help make your blog personalized to your own preferences where bloggers can ask help questions and get answers or opinions of other bloggers’ experience of something. It just seems like something you’d be able to pitch, take a survey of other bloggers.

          You make patheos sound like a dictatorship that makes universal decisions about something that may not work for your demographic. Like, where you can say, my regular posters are less likely to comment at all if […] decision alters my blog. I think they want you to have as much traffic as you can get. I understand why they think the WT philosophy would open up discussion or cut down on anonymous trolls making truly inane comments, but most of your typical morons were static recognizable persons using English words to communicate what was on their mind, and not merely blasting disruptive blah blah garbled up nonsense in every corner. If you have gotten as far as you can with someone, I’d ban them, but you have a lot more patience. I don’t really feel bothered by this difference of opinion, since it’s you’re blog. I do feel bothered if other people can vote me off your blog though, and internet-wide ruin my ability to communicate with others. What the fuck is right with that? That closes up communication as far as I’m concerned, that makes people afraid to say things and really say them. We’ve seen already that, no matter how polite or reasonable someone is, if you don’t like what they said, you can just ruin them anyway, and WT wants it so you can ruin them everywhere. It’s much easier to take points away from someone than to form a response, since “rating events” can’t be rated themselves.

        • Greg G.

          Ratings by highly rated people are factored more heavily than low-rated raters. So WT creates a need for a cabal blog where any post made automatically gets 100% for each rating from a thousand socks that are only at that blog and each is constantly up-rating all the others. Anybody down-rating any of the socks gets down-rated by all of them on all of their posts on other blogs.

        • Kodie

          Having each rating event visible, as it was, created a lot of clutter with just a few rating events. By the way, I think “rating event” sounds really douchey. But on the other hand, I can see why, for the system to work ideally, you’d want to know which posters were making a pest of themselves only downvoting everyone to fuck up their reputations. Now, compare with disqus. You have upvotes and downvotes. You can still downvote someone, but it doesn’t do anything. They took it away, but it’s still there. On other comment systems, I can see upvotes and downvotes, but not who is doing it, but if a comment gets too many downvotes, you can still read what it said if you want. With 4 subjective qualities to measure and each rated 1-4, it’s super complicated, and some some schmo thinks I’m 3/4 honest and 0/4 helpful, how hard is it to tell me? Why is my ability to communicate based on someone’s inability to draw me out, and whatever line I might cross as to the expected tone of commenters of that blog? I think the moderator/owner should decide what kind of company they like. What happened to lurking and see if it’s your scene?

          So rating people are allowed to fill the blog comments with noise of ratings, spamming and trolling people even worse. Or one day, I’m allowed to comment, and I come back later and some anonymous invisible obscured legion of trolls has effectively banned me (if they do away with posting every single rating event). I watched the WT video in horror. Some people need a lot of help controlling their comments sections, but it’s the wrong kind of help.

        • It just seems like something you’d be able to pitch, take a survey of other bloggers.

          I did that yesterday.

          You make patheos sound like a dictatorship that makes universal decisions about something that may not work for your demographic.

          Not every decision will please everyone. There’s plenty of opportunity to complain and suggest. I don’t recall any decision they’ve made that seemed wrong or unfair.

          I think they want you to have as much traffic as you can get.

          Certainly. I have several routes to go through if I want something changed/fixed or if I have a complaint/suggestion.

          I understand why they think the WT philosophy would open up discussion or cut down on anonymous trolls making truly inane comments

          The atheist blogs get the most hits of any blog category, but I sense that a Christian outlook predominates within Patheos. Given that, WT’s goal of creating a nicer world (in a domain known for being hateful) appeals.

          I do feel bothered if other people can vote me off your blog though, and internet-wide ruin my ability to communicate with others. What the fuck is right with that?

          I hear you. Their standards and yours may not line up.

          (As an aside, it’d be nice if getting banned not for being disruptive but simply because the blogger doesn’t agree with you would go away, but WT is no answer to that.)

          If you’ve not yet made your views known to WT, I encourage you to do so. They probably do, since they’ve been monitoring (especially the post about WT), but this is important.

          It’s much easier to take points away from someone than to form a response, since “rating events” can’t be rated themselves.

          And you could imagine a schoolyard kind of thing where someone rates you down, so you get even by rating them down, and so on.

        • MNb

          Ah, I’m as glad to have you back as MR.

        • Greg G.

          Ah, that explains my psychosomatic pain in my gluteus maximus.

        • SteveK

          Yep. You catch on quickly.

        • MNb

          Then why accept one and reject another? Just because it warms your underbelly?

        • Greg G.

          The possibility of falsification is a method to eliminate error if you start down the wrong path. Science attempts to make predictions that can be objectively verified or debunked by observation. A verification does not prove a scientific theory but it does raise the confidence in it. Science tends to converge on conclusions about reality no matter where or by whom it is done.

          A religion sometimes tries to refine itself as beliefs are falsified but the patches that are applied are to make it less falsifiable. They don’t try to reconcile it with reality. If it is not correct at the beginning, it goes off in any direction. That results in many different religions with no way to distinguish a false religion from a true one.

          It seems remarkable that false religions are indistinguishable from a true one.

        • SteveK

          >> It seems remarkable that false religions are indistinguishable from a true one.

          What’s remarkable to me is that you are unable see any differences, as if you are blind to the notion of morality and the concepts of virtue, vice, good and evil.

          If some religion preached that love and kindness were human vices to be avoided I’d think you’d be able to determine that it was clearly a false religion.

        • Greg G.

          I can see lots of variations in religions. It’s how we tell them apart.

          We see lots of religions that believe in prayer and in answered prayer, yet they all seem to depend on confirmation bias. None can show that their religion is far superior to all others. They all have excuses though.

          Yes, it is not hard to find religions that are clearly false. It’s just that the only way to find a religion that is not clearly false is to not hold it to as high of a standard as you would other religions. When viewed objectively, they are all clearly false.

        • MR

          Morality, virtue, vice, good, evil, love…. They’re like magic to a believer. They don’t see them as descriptors of behaviors and actions. They reify them.

        • SteveK

          Behaviors and actions are objective so the descriptor must be objective if it can be said to accurately describe them. Just as the action of running cannot be both running and not-running at the same, rape cannot be both good and not-good at the same time.

          No magic here.

        • adam

          “Just as the action of running cannot be both running and not-running at the same, rape cannot be both good and not-good at the same time.

          No magic here.”

          Rape can be good for the perp but not-good for the victim.
          Boy, you are an idiot.

          No magic here.

        • MNb

          Another nice is-ought fallacy.
          Yeah, we can describe behaviors and actions in an objective way. That’s what psychology does. However it does not use terms like “good” and “not-good”, exactly because they are not objective.

          “running and not-running ….. good and not-good”
          “No magic here.”

          Indeed – just a logical fallacy, hence very human.
          It’s a false equivalence.
          It’s perfectly possible that X says action A is good, while Y says that action A is non-good.

        • SteveK

          >> However it does not use terms like “good” and “not-good”, exactly because they are not objective.

          Take up your complaint with MR who thinks that moral terms are descriptors of objective reality (behaviors and actions).

        • adam

          don’t blame MNB for responding to your words just as they were written.

        • MNb

          No – the false equivalence is your incorrect conclusion, not MR’s. Not the most honest guy around, are you?

        • MR

          Never has been.

        • adam

          ” Not the most honest guy around, are you?”

          How honest can you be selling 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound sack?

        • MR

          Behaviors and actions are objective so the descriptor must be objective if it can be said to accurately describe them.

          Not at all. I’m not even sure that makes any sense.

          cannot be both good and not-good at the same time

          To whom?

        • SteveK

          Not at all??

          To whom??

          If descriptors aren’t objective descriptors in the sense that the term accurately describes objective reality then “Action A” can be walking to me and sitting to you. That wouldn’t make any sense, would it?

        • MR

          To whom is the action good or not good? They are the one making the judgment.

          That something happened can be described objectively. Making a judgment about it is [edit: oops!] subjective.

        • SteveK

          You said moral terms describe behaviors and actions. Do they, or don’t they?

        • MR

          [If I ] really have to parse it down for you, moral terms describe our judgment of the behavior which is different than describing the action itself.

          John shot Hitler describes the action.
          My opinion of what he did describes my opinion of that action. Subjective.

        • SteveK

          You didn’t say that above. I accept your clarification but don’t blame me for responding to your words just as they were written.

          Your position is that moral terms are NOT descriptors of behaviors/actions, they are descriptors of your opinions.

        • MR

          don’t blame me for responding to your words just as they were written.

          Yes, you’re always looking to trap.

          To whom is the action good or not good?

        • SteveK

          I’m not trapping, I’m trying to understand. If a person says a word describes an action I want to ask questions.

          >> To whom is the action good or not good?

          Everyone answers the question differently based on their understanding of “good”. You know my thoughts on the subject but I’ll be happy to repeat them here.

          If there is no objective understanding of the term “good” then all responses are accurate/correct in the sense that they accurately describe their own individual views/opinions.

          And with that, objective moral progress becomes a useful fiction because EVERY pursuit of “good” is a success when it aligns with an individual’s understanding.

          The slave owner who understands “good” to be forcing others to work for him, succeeds in doing a lot of good (to him). The mother who understands “good” to be providing food and shelter to her child, succeeds in doing a lot of good (to her).

          Both the slave owner and the mother are doing good and no lawmaker, no social reformer, no humanist, no judge can cite a FACT that could possibly show either of them to be incorrect.

          I reject this understanding of morality.

        • MR

          Everyone answers the question differently based on their understanding of “good”.

          Congratulations, you just showed us that “good” is subjective.

          If there is no objective understanding of the term “good”…

          Clearly there is not.

          …objective moral progress becomes a useful fiction because EVERY pursuit of “good” is a success when it aligns with an individual understanding.

          Objective morals are fiction, period. The second half of your sentence appears to be a non sequitur.

          The slave owner who understands “good” to be forcing others to work for him, succeeds in doing a lot of good (to him). The mother who understands “good” to be providing food and shelter to her child, succeeds in doing a lot of good (to her).

          Congratulations, you’re describing subjective morals.

          Both the slave owner and the mother are doing good and no lawmaker, no social reformer, no humanist, no judge can cite a FACT that could possibly show either of them to be incorrect.

          You forgot to insert the word “objective” in there.

          I can subjectively make those judgments, whether as a individual, as a member of a tribe, as a citizen, as a human being. Collectively we make those subjective judgments as a society.

          You may have noticed that on the individual level, we don’t all agree. Most humans can empathize with the slave, and as humans we subjectively make that judgment.

          But objectively? Show me.

          I reject this understanding of morality.

          And what bearing does that have on reality? You’ve done nothing but show subjectivity, all the while insisting on objectivity, but have yet to provide us with an example.

          We can talk about subjective morals all day long and you can continue to provide examples of subjective morality all day long and it gets us nowhere closer to the real question. Show us an example of this objective morality of which you speak.

        • adam

          “Show us an example of this objective morality of which you speak.”

          Didnt he start out claiming that he would do this?

        • MR

          I don’t remember. Me, Susan…, we’ve been trying to get it out of him from months ago. If he claimed he would do this, he certainly hasn’t attempted it.

        • MNb

          IIrc – I’m too lazy to look it up – he gave “rape is bad”.

        • adam

          But apparently not to the rapists or they wouldnt be raping.

          Or at least paying the silver to the father https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/429bebd7a25f5a4f3fb2828266c9b5b6360c08f6ad253658afffda9458458c1a.jpg

          Rape is not OBJECTIVE bad in the bible….

        • MR

          Then I was wrong about him not attempting; I should have just said he hasn’t yet.

        • Kodie

          If rape is bad, why is it when someone rapes someone else, it’s so easy for most people to blame the victim for allowing or inviting it? I think in future discussions, people who use rape as a “bad” moral behavior ought to explain what they mean and don’t mean.

        • Susan

          Kodie!!!! 🙂

          (I was worried we’d lost you.)

        • MNb

          I have no idea – in this case I don’t belong to “most people”. I have always automatically sided with victims.

        • Kodie

          There is zero justification to force someone to have sex in any case whatsoever. There is more justification to kill a person than whatever they were doing, the only way to handle the circumstance was to force them to have sex. Yet, when we all talk about how wrong rape is, I have to wonder what the concept of rape they are thinking, in the abstract. In the actual event that someone is raped, it’s quite common to come up with some reason the perpetrator had no alternative, or made a wee bit of bad judgment but shouldn’t lose their future over it, and/or the victim had no reason to expect protection from being raped. With the generally Christian idea that sex is a sacred act, and punish women for acting on their animal lust (intentionally), suddenly it’s not that big a deal if you’re the one who is violated, and you should get over it, you should simply accept that men are going to behave as though animal lust sex were their prerogative, regardless of the tenets of their own dogma, and women are just objects whose purity is their own responsibility.

          I mean, why ruin some young man’s future and put him in jail since he is a danger to society and women, and can’t be trusted to keep it in his pants? Meanwhile, in their own dogma, she is now garbage, she didn’t heed the warnings, and if she is pregnant, her future prospects can be ruined without regard. That’s her punishment for leaving the house, or her role is to please a husband any time he wants it (to prevent him from straying, as if that even works, and even if he does, it’s to be swept under the rug), he can rape her and her desires or non-desires mean nothing.

          I never really understand why Christians particularly bring “rape” up as an example of an immoral thing, since it is, but they are the most likely to disagree with their own example in practical examples.

        • Aram

          You’re back! I was beginning to worry 🙂

        • MNb

          “I have to wonder what the concept of rape they are thinking, in the abstract.”
          Again I have no idea. When I think of rape or other forms of physical violence I always think of concrete things: fear, suffering, pain, humiliation.

          “why ruin some young man’s future”
          For the same reason that’s something I can relate to. I’m not a big fan of punishment anyway. But no way that can serve as a justification or even a downplay of rape.
          So what I’d like to see is teaching the young man a harsh lesson, so that he’ll understand the rest of his life how wrong the rape was. But that’s where my line of thinking ends, because I don’t have a good answer how that should be done.
          So when it comes to sending rapists to jail I’m a bit half-hearted.
          Your main point, that christians are so inconsistent – rape is objectively wrong at one hand and the victim is to blame at the other hand – is undisputed. I reject christian morality anyway. In that respect I’m a bit extreme. Of course I understand that “lust object” usually has a negative meaning. But I also think it has because christian approaches to sex and lust are so negative. If I see lust and sex as something positive (and rape is not mainly about sexual lust anyway; it’s largely about power) then lust object must have a positive meaning as well.
          So I sincerely hope my female counterpart sees me as a lust object, amongst others.

          This is one example of what I wrote elsewhere (iIrc in answer to Greg G): I have done quite some effort to shake off christian language.
          In this case it means that I think a rapist doesn’t see his victim as a lust object (the OT hardly distinguishes between rape and sex, retarded as it is) but as an object to humiliate.

        • SteveK

          >> Congratulations, you just showed us that “good” is subjective.

          I’ve reported what is true about everyone. That sentence doesn’t show that good actually is subjective – it doesn’t say anything about what good is.

          >> The second half of your sentence appears to be a non sequitur.

          Is every pursuit of “good” a success when it aligns with an individual’s understanding of ‘good’ – yes or no?

          >> Congratulations, you’re describing subjective morals.

          I intended to describe it that way.

          >> You forgot to insert the word “objective” in there.

          It’s implied. Facts are always objective and so is my usage of the term incorrect.

          >> And what bearing does that have on reality?

          Based on my understanding it means no lawmaker, no social reformer, no humanist, no judge can cite a FACT that could possibly show any person’s understanding of ‘good’ to be incorrect.

        • adam

          “Based on my understanding it means no lawmaker, no social reformer, no humanist, no judge can cite a FACT that could possibly show any person’s understanding of ‘good’ to be incorrect.”

          So?

          You mean like you cant cite a FACT that demonstrates that YOUR ‘god’ is anything but IMAGINARY?

          Doesnt stop you or people like you from worshiping it anyway….

        • SteveK

          >> So?

          The “so” is that people cite facts all the time as if those facts can demonstrate a person’s correct/incorrect understanding of good.

        • adam

          So?

          What does that have to do with whatever point your are avoiding about OBJECTIVE morals? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/02b8f15dff5bc008042ffafa51c4c80b6c995f9830ffdab92604124c4f464335.jpg

        • SteveK

          So? If that suffices as a thoughtful response then let that be the answer to every one of your replies.

          “Something is wrong here?”
          So?

          God did something you don’t like?
          So?

          Disease, death, poverty?
          So?

          Not impressed with God?
          So?

        • adam

          It is AT LEAST as thoughtful as your vacuous responses and more honest.

          “”Something is wrong here?”
          So?”

          So what is wrong here?

          “God did something you don’t like?
          So?”

          Exactly, god is an imaginary character in a book, that is actually unimpressive.

          “Disease, death, poverty?
          So?”

          So, it is OBVIOUS that YOUR IMAGINARY god does nothing to prevent these.

          “Not impressed with God?
          So?”
          Exactly, god is an imaginary character in a book, that is actually unimpressive to reality.

        • MR

          That sentence doesn’t show that good actually is subjective… it doesn’t say anything about what good is.

          You need to start using capital G when you refer to objective Good, because we’re not talking about the same thing. You are reifying Good. You believe Good is something. Show me.

          When we use the term ‘good’, we’re expressing our judgment, good is not a thing. It is not Good, captial G.

          People are not ‘good’, nor do they possess ‘goodness’ as a thing inside of them. When we say someone is good, all we are saying is that they tend to do things that are beneficial, they do things we agree with, etc. There is no Good inside of them doing those things, it’s just a shortcut to refer to an accumulation of judgments we have made over time about people. We don’t pursue Good. We try to act in positive, beneficial ways, etc. Labeling someone as ‘good’ is just a placeholder for referring to all those acts; it’s not a thing in itself. If it is, show me.

          [The word ‘objective’ is] implied. Facts are always objective and so is my usage of the term incorrect.

          That last sentence must be mangled or I’m not understanding. I know objective is implied, and I was implying that Objective Good doesn’t exist. If it does, please show me.

          Based on my understanding it means no lawmaker, no social reformer, no humanist, no judge can cite a FACT that could possibly show any person’s understanding of ‘good’ to be incorrect.

          That’s because you are referring to Good, capital G, which doesn’t exist. Your sentence is meaningless. This is why I say you aren’t trying to understand. You go right back to your definition of Good every time and simply ignore my definition. You’re not trying to understand.

          That we as humans can come to a collective agreement is the best we have. There is no objective Good. We’re all made of the same stuff, we mostly agree, almost universally agree on some things, but that doesn’t mean it’s objective. And even though it’s not objective, doesn’t mean it’s simply a matter of opinion either. We do have common feelings, beliefs and innate sense of empathy that does us well. But Objective Good is just wishful thinking.

        • SteveK

          >> You believe Good is something.

          >> When we use the term ‘good’, we’re expressing our judgment, good is not a thing.

          You think it’s a subjective thing, whereas I do not. Opinions, theories, judgments, thoughts, concepts etc, etc are real things in that they exist as part of reality.

          >> When we say someone is good, all we are saying is that they tend to do things that are beneficial

          Beneficial is always good. You’re saying “we are good when we tend to do things that are good” so I have no idea what this sentence means.

          You don’t have to explain moral subjectivism to me because I get it. The “good” is grounded in your judgement/opinion and that’s as far as it goes.

          By that I mean to say that nothing exists (person, object, opinion, rule, purpose, argument, fact, etc) prior to, or independent from the individual that can trump the judgement/opinion of the individual and render the current view false.

          >> That’s because you are referring to Good, capital G, which doesn’t exist. Your sentence is meaningless. This is why I say you aren’t trying to understand. You go right back to your definition of Good every time and simply ignore my definition. You’re not trying to understand.

          I’m not going back to my definition. I’m accepting your subjective moral reality and then pointing to a very odd situation where people are arguing as if objective morality were true. Subjectivists do this all the time.

          As I said above, subjective morality entails that nothing exists prior to, or independent of, the individual moral judgement that can render it false. People don’t act that way.

          >> And even though it’s not objective, doesn’t mean it’s simply a matter of opinion either.

          It means exactly that. You’re contradicting yourself. If it’s a FACT that something else can render my moral judgement/opinion false then that FACT would *objectively* ground morality.

          Since you seem to think that it is possible, what is it that can render my moral judgement/opinion false?

        • adam

          “If it’s a FACT that something else can render my moral
          judgement/opinion false then that FACT would *objectively* ground
          morality.”

          Interesting how the VERY BEST way to demonstrate the GOOD ‘god’ of the bible is through deception and bearing false witness like this.

          The FACT that a law against public urination can render your opinion that it isnt false, false,says NOTHING about the ‘objective morality’ of public urination.

          Try another LIE.

        • SteveK

          So?

        • adam

          So you are LYING AGAIN.

          Or UNBELIEVABLY stupid.

        • MR

          Sigh…, as I suspected. You’ve got it wrong. So much for you trying to understand.

          You think it’s a subjective thing,

          Nope, not a thing.

          Opinions, theories, judgments, thoughts, concepts etc, etc are real things in that they exist as part of reality.

          Define what you mean by ‘real thing.’ ‘Exist as a part of reality’ in what way?

          You’re saying “we are good when we tend to do things that are good” so I have no idea what this sentence means.

          Of course you don’t understand. Cognitive dissonance. Define ‘good,’ use it consistently.

          You don’t have to explain moral subjectivism to me because I get it.

          No, you don’t.

          The “good” is grounded in your judgement/opinion and that’s as far as it goes.

          Wrong.

          I’m not going back to my definition. I’m accepting your subjective moral reality….

          Wrong.

          It means exactly that. You’re contradicting yourself.

          Nope.

          If it’s a FACT that something else can render my moral judgement/opinion false then that FACT would *objectively* ground morality.

          It’s not.

          Since you seem to think….

          Not what I think.

          Man can you mangle things.

        • SteveK

          >> Define what you mean by ‘real thing.’ ‘Exist as a part of reality’ in what way?

          A ‘real thing’ is not non-existence. It is not a non-existing thing, which would be a contradiction. A real thing is an existing thing. Simply put: it exists. In what way does it exist? Doesn’t matter for now. It exists.

          Your opinions exist in reality as your opinions. Your thoughts exist in reality as your thoughts. Etc.

          As for the rest, either tell me what I have wrong or let’s just stop right here.

        • MR

          As for the rest…

          The point is, you’re not trying to understand. I asked for a synopsis of my stance and you got so. much. wrong. After weeks of dialog, like a dog to its vomit, you go straight back to your strawman. Don’t pretend your trying to understand when you’re not.

          …it exists. In what way does it exist? Doesn’t matter for now. It exists.

          It absolutely does matter. How do your opinions and thoughts exist as a real thing? Show me. When I make an opinion about something, am I then bringing a “real thing” into existence? Where does this “real thing” reside? Floating in my head? And then when I change my mind do I bring a new “real thing” into existence? And what happens to the “real” other opinion? Now I’ve brought two contradictory “real things” into existence. Oops. Now what? Does the one cancel the other out? Does it cease to exist, or just hang around useless now that I’ve brought it into existence and have discarded it. Where does it go from there?

          What are these real things composed of? For example, when I form the opinion “Mary is a kind person.” What is the “real thing” that now exists? The simple concept “Mary is a kind person,” or have I brought into existence various concepts composed of “Mary” and “is” and “kind” and “person….” What about all the reasons that are behind that statement that led me to believe Mary is kind? Do I bring them into existence as concepts, too? Does every person, then, who thinks Mary is a kind person somehow bring into existence these concepts separately? I’ve got my “real thing” concepts of Mary over here, and you have your “real thing” concepts of Mary over there. Seems very inefficient.

          I mean, I just don’t see how this “”opinions and thoughts are ‘real things'” works, and it absolutely does matter because if you can’t show that these “real things” exist, then it’s all based on nothing.

        • SteveK

          >> How do your opinions and thoughts exist as a real thing? Show me.

          This is silly. Do you have thoughts? If yes, they must exist in order for you to HAVE them. If no, they don’t exist.

          >> When I make an opinion about something, am I then bringing a “real thing” into existence? Where does this “real thing” reside?

          All good questions. I don’t pretend to know all the answers. We can say that IF you have an opinion, that opinion has existence in some form. If the opinion didn’t exist in some form you could not conclude that you HAVE an opinion. You cannot posses a thing that does not exist.

          >> Does it cease to exist, or just hang around useless now that I’ve brought it into existence and have discarded it? Where does it go from there?

          I tend to think it’s like playing music. You bring individual notes into and out of existence as you play the notes one at a time.

          >> I mean, I just don’t see how this “opinions and thoughts are ‘real things'” works, and it absolutely does matter because if you can’t show that these “real things” exist, then it’s all based on nothing.

          All real things have existence in some form, otherwise you would not refer to them or be able to HAVE them. You refer to your opinions because they exist. You cannot HAVE a thing (opinion) that does not exist.

        • MR

          This is silly.

          I agree. When we say we HAVE an opinion, it’s a metaphor, silly. If a computer produces a coherent sentence, do the concepts in that sentence then “come into existence?”

          What is the process that brings these things into existence, because it seems to me you’re just begging the question. I think something is good, therefore the thought that something is good then comes into existence? How does the trigger to think the thought without thinking it work?

        • SteveK

          Do metaphors exist? They must exist, otherwise an opinion can not be an example of one.

        • MR

          As a “real thing?” Show me.

          The brain makes connections, I see no reason to imagine it’s a real thing in and of itself. If it is, then it’s not even my thought. It’s its own thing and isn’t even tied to me. If that thought is brought into existence, what is that process? How can I think a thought without first thinking the thought? You’re begging the question.

        • SteveK

          If I’m begging the question then I’ll leave it to you to show me that your opinions exist as your opinions. If you can’t show me, they must not exist. Until then…

        • MR

          That they exist as part of my thought process is one thing. That they exist as a “real thing” is another. We’d be popping real things into existence all the time. I have a thought, bam, real thing. My thought about the thought, bam, real thing, my thought about the thought about the thought…. Where does it end? I look at a word, and the concept of the word becomes a real thing, the concept of the letters become real things. The concept of the letter ‘l’ becomes a real thing, the concept of the letter ‘e’ becomes a real thing, my thoughts about the concept of the concept of the letter of the word of the context of the…. pop, pop, pop, pop. “Real things” that you can’t demonstrate. Magic, woo, Plato. Silliness.

        • MNb

          “We’d be popping real things into existence all the time.”
          Well, given electron-positron pair production I don’t mind that at all. However this only makes sense within the context of your brain. It thus rather argues for subjectivity.
          But no, no magic, woo or Plato involved.

        • MR

          I was referring to his definition of Real Things (TM), not, you know, real things like electrons and positrons that can be demonstrated.

        • SteveK

          Still can’t show me that your opinions exist as your opinions? I guess they don’t exist.

        • MR

          Yeah, and your ambiguity is deliberate in this case. Nice.

        • SteveK

          I hope I’m not stopping you from showing me that your opinions exist. I can’t respond to a thing that doesn’t exist.

          Keep me posted.

        • MR

          Did you hit a brick wall? Can’t show us God from here? Damn.

        • SteveK

          Serious question…

          Suppose I could provide the evidence you’re looking for. Whatever that evidence would be, why would that evidence count as evidence for God?

        • MR

          Excellent question. Now: What is the minimal evidence you would require to prove that the polytheism of Hinduism is true?

        • SteveK

          I don’t know much about this religion. The only deity that would interest me would be the deity that had attributes of God. Anything less than that would be a being that was dependent, ignorant at times, possibly fearful, could die, has faults, shortcomings and limitations just like every other being alive. That being would not be God.

          If Hinduism has such a being as God then I’d be willing to look at the evidence. I’ve looked at Christianity and am convinced of that, but will consider other serious contenders.

        • MR

          Ha ha ha! ZZzzztt! Cognitive dissonance!

          Think about it Steve. Suppose everything you believe about God is wrong. That Hindu is correct and true in spite of your worst fears. You absolutely, positively don’t want it to be true, but it is. It simply is.

          What is the minimal evidence you would require to prove to you that Hinduism is true?

          Forget your beliefs of God. Hinduism and everything it entails is true.

          What would it take for you to believe it?

        • SteveK

          >> Forget your beliefs of God. Hinduism and everything it entails is true.

          I have no problem with it being true, but don’t try to shoehorn god into God as if they are the same being. If these deities are not God, they are lesser beings by their own admission. That is all the evidence I’d need to know. They are fallible beings that can be defeated in some way. I don’t worship fallible beings and neither should you. So Hinduism can be true, yes, but so what?

        • MR

          What would it take for you to believe it?

        • SteveK

          I believe that all kinds of lesser beings exist right now so I’m way ahead of you already. I’m not aware of these specific beings by name, just like I’m not aware of some guy on the other side of the planet, but I do believe there is such a guy. I believe.

        • MR

          I love this. No one ever answers this question. You can’t go there. Your brain is frying in cognitive dissonance. It’s like the third rail. It’s like, “Poke it again, poke it again!”

          Steve, what would it take for you to believe it?

        • SteveK

          Since I already believe what answer are you looking for? I haven’t been introduced to these specific, fallible lesser beings and have no idea what kind of lesser being they are.

          If they are physical beings, a physical introduction would be nice. But then again I would also believe on the basis of several strong testimonies.

          Now, can you answer my question?

        • MR

          Squirmy wormy. Can’t answer without qualifying, can you? Ha!

          What constitutes a strong testimony?

        • SteveK

          Let me know when you feel like answering my question.

        • MR

          You’re five posts in and you haven’t answered mine. My answer lies in yours if you could be honest and answer without qualifications.

          What would it take for you to believe Hinduism is true?

        • Susan

          Let me know when you feel like answering my question.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weasel_word

        • MNb

          The only question you asked is “so what”.
          Hinduism and christianity contradict each other. If both can be true according to you you don’t care about that – unsurprising for a science denier like you.

        • MR

          The only question you asked is “so what”.

          No, he asked me, “Suppose I could provide the evidence you’re looking for. Whatever that evidence would be, why would that evidence count as evidence for God?”

          He didn’t realize the Catch-22 he was getting himself into because if we ask him the same kind of question, it puts him in quite a pickle—as evidenced by his hemming and hawing and qualifying comments and ultimate abandonment of attempting to even answer the question.

          See, if he answers the question honestly, his demand for evidence would be reasonably high, but in doing so, he sets the bar high for his own god as well. Set the bar too low, and you have to accept the evidence for other religions. Damn, what’s an apologist to do? Wriggle his way out of the question, that’s what.

          As I noted, my answer likely lies in his answer. He can’t simply just answer the question, because he realizes he has to find an answer that would include his candidate while excluding all other gods. He has to tailor his answer to fit his preferred choice.

          If he were honest, he’d set the bar at a reasonable level, but setting the bar at that level excludes any evidence he could provide for his god, while setting the bar too low opens it up to a free for all.

          I had an apologist say that the evidence would have to include a Christ-like figure. Bwah-ha-ha! Talk about stacking the deck!

          It’s a question that reveals their gullibility, hypocrisy, and in attempting to answer it, their dishonesty.

          Part of my answer to the question would have to do with God’s supporters, like Steve, being able to answer these questions straightforwardly and honestly. How can I believe you represent God if you have to resort to weaseling?

        • MNb

          Yeah. Actually I think it a pity that apologetics is such a scam. If done honest it could generate some interesting questiond, like “what does it mean to say that God created quantum fields?”
          Even sadder is that apologists apparently don’t have a very strong faith and need to back it up with reason so badly that they allow for all kinds of weaseling.

        • SteveK

          >> Hinduism and christianity contradict each other.

          If these deities are lesser beings – then no, there is no immediate conflict. If you can’t see that, you’re an idiot. Because I don’t know much about this religion I would maintain this position until an actual conflict came up.

        • Susan

          Your brain is frying in cognitive dissonance.

          Consider it a burnt offering. The stench is pleasing to Yahweh’s nostrils.

        • Greg G.

          I’m way ahead of you already.

          You’re not ahead of us because we’re not going to Crazy Town.

        • MNb

          How do you know that they are lesser beings? For all I know your god – that necessary entity you call God – could be the housemaid of Quetzalcoatl or Parama Purusha.

        • SteveK

          >> How do you know that they are lesser beings?

          I said that I don’t know much about this religion. I wasn’t corrected by MR so I must be correct.

        • Kodie

          You automatically assume deities you don’t know anything about are “lesser” than your own god, never mind that none of these exist, then you are correct? Nice try, dipwad.

        • Greg G.

          Our existence is just Vishnu’s dream. Your God could be a part of Vishnu’s dream, too, and not even know it.

        • SteveK

          I have no reason to believe that. I’m not into “you could be a brain in a vat” type of arguments. Yes, that could be the case, but I have no reason to believe it.

        • Greg G.

          Of course you don’t have any reason to believe it. But you can’t rule it out either. If you presuppose any of the other solipsisms or combinations of them, the argument is the same as yours is for gods.

          Your belief breaks down to wishful thinking.

        • SteveK

          You’re missing the crucial difference: I have reasons to believe what I do, whereas I do not have reasons to believe in the brain in a vat.

          So, no, the argument is not the same.

        • Is the argument any stronger for God than for vats? It sounds like “Aha–you haven’t proven me wrong!” is a key element of each.

        • SteveK

          Your pretend knowledge is showing more brightly with every comment. There’s a reason the philosophical arguments for vats don’t get as much traction with people as the arguments for God. One has much greater strength.

        • The arguments for vats are simply uninteresting. There aren’t billions of vat-people eager to be assured by scholars that they’ve backed the right horse.

          I forget–have you advanced your best argument(s) for God yet? If not, feel free to do so.

        • SteveK

          Whether or not any argument is interesting is a different issue, and a matter of personal preference.

          I was talking about the truth of the situation. There’s a reason nobody thinks the vat situation is true, whereas that is not the case with God.

        • Greg G.

          People want to believe in God. They are taught to be afraid to not believe. But the BIV or the supernatural cannot be ruled out because they are contrived to be that way, not because there is an actual reasons to think they are real.

          Believing in the supernatural requires the same fallacies as believing in the BIV. It illustrates how weak your position is. Actually your use of the ad populum fallacy, to which you just appealed, is one that can’t be applied so well to the BIV so it has one less fallacy going for it.

        • SteveK

          >> Believing in the supernatural requires the same fallacies as believing in the BIV.

          This is not true. The evidence that your statement is false is the fact that almost nobody believes that the BiV argument is reality. It’s anti-realistic to everyone. There must be some real humdingers in the BiV argument that cannot pass the smell test of realism.

        • Kodie

          Or just not as appealing to the foolish, selfish, and arrogant. I mean, come on, you don’t like the idea of being a brain in a vat. It’s not glamorous. Nobody loves a brain in a vat. Nobody will reward the brain in a vat for obedience, or punish a brain in a vat for misbehavior. You don’t like it, you like your implausible fallacious beliefs because they’re pretty and make you feel like someone. Do you think anyone else would? Marketing.

        • Greg G.

          The evidence that your statement is false is the fact that almost nobody believes that the BiV argument is reality. It’s anti-realistic to everyone.

          Do I need to point out to you that I was saying that it is wrong to use fallacies and the ad populum fallacy is a fallacy that you should not use? What shape was the planet Earth when almost everybody thought is was flat? How big was the universe when almost nobody thought there were other galaxies?

          That the BIV argument seems anti-realistic is evidence that the inputs fed to the BIV are excellent but the BIV has nothing else to compare them to except dreams, which may or may not be induced.

          How do you know the universe didn’t come into existence 15 minutes ago with false memories for everyone? Couldn’t a god like yours do that for ineffable reasons?

        • SteveK

          >> Do I need to point out to you that I was saying that it is wrong to use fallacies and the ad populum fallacy is a fallacy that you should not use?

          I’m not forming an argument. I’m stating a fact. For the argument, you’ll need to look at the reasons why people don’t think the BiV is actual reality.

          >> How do you know the universe didn’t come into existence 15 minutes ago with false memories for everyone?

          I know because I have reason to think that I know that it didn’t. How do you know? Is your knowledge based on an uncontrolled one-off, personal experiment or did science prove this for you by controlling the necessary variables? I hope it was the latter because apparently that’s the only true way to know anything.

        • Greg G.

          I’m stating a fact. For the argument, you’ll need to look at the reasons why people don’t think the BiV is actual reality.

          What reasons do they have to not believe it? All they have is that it is a contrived solipsist argument with no unambiguous evidence in its favor.

          Your best argument against it is the ad populum fallacy. Two-thirds of the world’s population doesn’t believe Christianity is true. So your best argument against the BIV works against your belief as well.

          >> How do you know the universe didn’t come into existence 15 minutes ago with false memories for everyone?

          I know because I have reason to think that I know that it didn’t. How do you know? Is your knowledge based on an uncontrolled one-off, personal experiment or did science prove this for you by controlling the necessary variables? I hope it was the latter because apparently that’s the only true way to know anything.

          We cannot be certain that it didn’t. It is just unlikely that it did. The thought experiment is contrived to be not falsifiable. There is no positive reason to indicate that it had, except for those two Christmas cards that I had a memory of placing on the coffee table in the TV room were found in the kitchen. I have a memory of being married so if that is true, maybe she moved them.

          A religion is contrived to be not falsifiable or it has already been falsified or it is too new to be scrutinized. If you believe in a benevolent omnipotence, the existence of suffering is incompatible with your belief concept. If your omnipotent being despises evil, you should not see evil.

          Humans are quite capable of coming up with unfalsifiable scenarios. They are obviously capable of coming up with false religions since there are so many conflicting ones so most have to be wrong. You just don’t have a valid reason to think yours is the right one.

        • SteveK

          >> Your best argument against it is the ad populum fallacy.

          You haven’t made an argument yet. Your claim is that people are believing in God based on logical fallacies and that has yet to be established by evidence. I was merely stating a fact that people think, on the basis of reason, that the BiV scenario isn’t reality compared to the reality of God.

          >> It is just unlikely that it did.

          How do you know? You explain later.

          >> The thought experiment is contrived to be not falsifiable. There is no positive reason to indicate that it had…

          Yet you know it’s unlikely. How? You tell us next.

          >>…except for those two Christmas cards that I had a memory of placing on the coffee table in the TV room were found in the kitchen.

          So your personal experience is the thing that determines the truth of your premises, the plausibility and the likelihood. Not science, not falsifiable theories, not mathematical models of the universe, not experiments, not double blind studies, not a logical argument, not verificationism.

          Not all the things you told me were *required*. Amazing.

        • Greg G.

          Your claim is that people are believing in God based on logical fallacies and that has yet to be established by evidence.

          Great point, Steve. People could believe for valid reasons but only present fallacies and evidence-free claims to atheists like me. That’s exactly what we did when I was a Christian but we didn’t have any of the valid reasons.

          How do you know? You explain later.

          Yet you know it’s unlikely. How? You tell us next.

          Because there is no limit to how many imaginary, unfalsifiable, and contradictory scenarios can be produced, all with no evidence in favor so we cannot rank them by likelihood, so each is equally likely with our knowledge, so the likelihood is less than one in however many scenarios we have, because we don’t know how many other unfalsifiable scenarios we didn’t think of.

          It is really basic probabilities.

          So your personal experience is the thing that determines the truth of your premises, the plausibility and the likelihood. Not science, not falsifiable theories, not mathematical models of the universe, not experiments, not double blind studies, not a logical argument, not verificationism.

          Not all the things you told me were *required*. Amazing.

          We cannot run experiments to determine those things because they make no investigable predictions. That’s why they are unfalsifiable.

          These cannot be confirmed or falsified because they have the same characteristics as religious claims. I am not claiming they are strong arguments. I am only claiming that they are just as strong as the claims of religion and superstition.

        • SteveK

          >> Great point, Steve.

          It happens from time to time. 🙂

          >> I am not claiming they are strong arguments. I am only claiming that they are just as strong as the claims of religion and superstition.

          This is very fascinating. Your belief that the universe didn’t pop into existence 15 minutes ago (or one second ago) is on par with superstition. Wow.

        • Kodie

          Just because people believe it doesn’t mean there’s a good reason to.

        • As I mentioned before in a comment to Greg G, it’s easy to imagine a world with civilization a million years more advanced than ours. Simulating a universe like ours might well be a homework assignment. So then are we in the one real universe or the thousands or maybe billions of simulations? Just by rolling the dice, obviously we’re likely in the simulation. In other words, brains in vats (simulated).

          Now that we’ve shown the plausibility of BiV, tell me about the plausibility of the God hypothesis. I’m well aware of all the obvious apologetic arguments. Do you have any others? What Christian argument(s) do you think are most compelling to nonbelievers?

        • Greg G.

          If those in a simulated don’t know that they are, they might decide to run their own simulations. It’s like an omnipotent god could give the illusion of omnipotence to any being yet hide for ineffable reasons. There could be simulated gods.

        • SteveK

          The reasons go beyond mere plausibility, Bob. If mere plausibility were the only criteria, people would equally think we are a BiV and that God exists. But that is not the case.

          One plausible argument, the God argument, has more strength than the others. It’s more compelling, hence people are more convinced it is true.

        • Kodie

          Try something new and answer the question.

        • I don’t subscribe to BiV for Occam’s Razor reasons. Perhaps that’s why I don’t subscribe to the God hypothesis.

          All you’ve done is argue that the God argument is compelling. Make the argument and let the rest of us judge.

        • SteveK

          Occam is a great principle to uphold. Supposedly you’ve heard the arguments already and you disagree with most people as to the conclusion. Nothing more I can do.

        • MNb

          No. The only thing you ever could do was repeating ad nauseam that your god argument has more strength than the brain in a vat argument – without ever making clear what that strength consists of.

        • Kodie

          Its a cosmetic strength. Being a brain in a vat offers zero comfort and hardly any hymns.

        • Greg G.

          A BIV is far more plausible than an omnipotent being, which is itself is more plausible than a being that is both omnipotent and benevolent which is implausible when there is constant suffering in the world.

        • SteveK

          What experiments demonstrate the plausibility of each scenario? I’d like to see the test data from each so I can judge for myself.

        • Greg G.

          What experiments demonstrate the plausibility of each scenario?

          We have artificial hearts and dialysis machines to support a body. That makes it plausible that a brain could be supported with artificial organs.

          We have been able to feed signals to the visual center of the brain with artificial eyes that can produce a detected image. Images and even decisions can be read by machines using sensors outside the skull. Cochlear implants convert sounds to electrical impulses sent to the brain. That makes it plausible that a machine could feed images and sounds to the brain.

          A friend once told me that when she first got glasses as a kid, she was surprised that she could see individual blades of grass in the lawn. She had no idea what a person with normal eyesight saw. She didn’t know her sight lacked qualia. A person blind from birth would never know what sight was like. A person deaf from birth would never understand the qualia of different frequencies of sound.

          Scientists did an experiment with a monkey with sensors on its head where it was taught to move a mouse so that when the cursor was on a certain spot on the screen, a food reward was produced. When the computer learned what signals were produced when the arm was moving the mouse, they disconnected the mouse so that the computer moved the cursor by reading the brain waves of the monkey. Then the monkey figured out how to produce those brain waves so the cursor moved without moving his arm. This has led to a paralyzed man walking with his mind controlling electrodes connected to his leg muscles.

          That provides plausibility that a brain could be supported with machines.

          There have been many scientific tests for the supernatural, from extra-sensory perception to prayer. When done with sound procedures, they have always shown no supernatural effects.

          The best prayer study was done by the Templeton Foundation which tries to produce scientific support for religion. They had three groups: one was not prayed for, one was prayed for but not informed about it, and one was prayed for and informed about it. They thought it would be unethical to tell a patient people were praying when they weren’t. The most significant finding was the group that was told about the prayer did the worst. It was chalked up to them relying more on the prayer than doctor’s orders in the follow up treatments. Another reason to not be gullible about religion.

          So we have technology that can read minds and relay signals that can be interpreted by the brain without involving actual sense organs. We can replace non-functioning vital organs. This is far beyond what was imagined in Mary Shelley’s time, less than two hundred years ago.

          At the same time, we have had zero objective evidence for the supernatural, even going back to the time the pyramids were built.

          QED

          I’d like to see the test data from each so I can judge for myself.

          Excellent idea! Apply that attitude toward your religion, too.

        • SteveK

          >> QED

          It’s difficult not to laugh while reading your thought process about the plausibility of you being a BiV. What you’re saying is this: on the basis of the evidence I discovered, it’s quite plausible that I’m incapable of discovering evidence.

          If you were actually a BiV, you could never get yourself into a position to know what is true about yourself by way of discovery.

        • Greg G.

          It’s difficult not to laugh while reading your thought process about the plausibility of you being a BiV. What you’re saying is this: on the basis of the evidence I discovered, it’s quite plausible that I’m incapable of discovering evidence.

          It is difficult not to laugh at the thought that you are having so much difficulty grasping this concept.

          If you were actually a BiV, you could never get yourself into a position to know what is true about yourself by way of discovery.

          Exactly! If you were a BIV, you might think you were not a BIV, or you might think you are a BIV because you can’t rule out the possibilty. Hence, whether you think you are a BIV or not, you are thinking like a BIV would. So, you cannot rule out the possibility any more than a BIV can.

          Or you could be thinking exactly like a person in the Matrix who can’t tell they are in the Matrix but can’t rule it out. Neither can they rule out the BIV scenario.

          Or you could be in Vishnu’s dream, an ancient belief of Hindus and still held by some. A person in that state can’t rule that out, nor the BIV scenario, nor the Matrix scenario. A person couldn’t even rule out that Vishnu was a BIV.

          Or your god could be BIV in a dream of Vishnu who is in the Matrix.

          We can pile layer upon layer like this.

          I haven’t seen you consider whether the god you worship is the Supreme Being. An omnipotence could give a false sense of omnipotence to any creature, creating anything that comes to the mind of the creature, and being omnipotent, the creature would have no way to know that it was all a ruse.

          But that god is in the same position, too. Is your God an atheist or an agnostic? Its own sense of omniscience may be nothing but an illusion from an omnipotence that hides itself for ineffable reasons just as you have excuses for the Divine Hiddenness of your deity.

        • SteveK

          You said a BiV reality was more plausible than a God reality. I’ve show that the only way you can possibly KNOW this by way of discovery is IF the BiV reality is false – which means it’s not plausible at all.

        • Greg G.

          I said a BIV is more plausible than an omnipotence.

          An omnipotence implies omniscience as it would have the power to know everything. But an omnipotence could create an entity with an illusion of omnipotence and an illusion of omniscience. This follows from the definition of omnipotence. The second entity could not know that its power was an illusion and its exercise of power was actually done by the hidden omnipotence. Because the second entity is not omnipotent, it would not be able to tell that it was deceived by the omnipotent power to deceive. Since even a real omnipotence cannot tell if it is actually omnipotent or perfectly deceived into thinking that it is, it is not truly omniscient or omnipotent. But neither can the other omnipotence know the answer to whether it is omnipotent or deceived into thinking it was omnipotent.

          Therefore omnipotence is not just implausible, it is impossible.

        • A clever analysis, thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Also, a sufficiently powerful being could also give the illusion of omnipotence to another entity, where “sufficiently powerful” is defined as powerful enough to do it but not necessarily omnipotent itself.

        • You don’t think much of the brain-in-a-vat (BiV) scenario, which is odd because your favorite hypothesis seems to me to be no more plausible.

          Is there an easy proof against BiV that I’m missing? Is it easy to see that it loses when compared against the God hypothesis?

        • Greg G.

          One has much greater strength.

          Yes, one is an argument for skepticism and it has far greater strength than the other.

          http://www.iep.utm.edu/brainvat/

          That presents some arguments against but they seem to be based on false premises. They seem to assume who ever created the BIV is a beginner. We have no evidence of that.

          Putnam’s Argument
          1. Assume we are brains in a vat
          2. If we are brains in a vat, then “brain” does not refer to brain, and “vat” does not refer to vat (via CC)
          3. If “brain in a vat” does not refer to brains in a vat, then “we are brains in a vat” is false
          4. Thus, if we are brains in a vat, then the sentence “We are brains in a vat” is false (1,2,3)

          It is equivocation to point to the difference between a brain in a vat vs. a brain in a cranium. They are not identical things.

          Bruekner’s Argument
          1. Either I am a BIV or I am not a BIV
          2. If I am a BIV, then “I am a BIV” is true iff I have sense impressions of being a BIV
          3. If I am a BIV, then I do not have sense-impressions of being a BIV
          4. If I am a BIV, then “I am a BIV” is false (2,3)
          5. If I am not a BIV, then “I am a BIV” is true iff I am a BIV
          6. If I am not a BIV, then “I am a BIV” is false (5)
          7. “I am a BIV” is false (1, 4, 6)

          Step 2 is false unless we have inputs that are detectable as inauthentic. That makes Step 4 indeterminate.

          Dennett (1991) for example has argued that it is physically impossible for a brain in a vat to replicate the qualitative phenomenology of a non-envatted human being.

          How would a brain in a vat know the qualitative phenomenology of a non-envatted human being? The qualitative phenomenology of a non-envatted human being may be far more robust than we can experience.

          Your reasons for thinking there is a god may be information fed to you by the BIV facilitators, whatever they are.

        • Greg G.

          That you think you have better reasons to believe what you believe than what you think a vat-brain believer might have is more wishful thinking. So far, I have seen you give a reason to believe beyond presuppositional apologetics.

        • SteveK

          You think you have better reasons for your position so you’re exactly like me. That’s how it all works.

          But since you never believe anything without evidence and science and falsifiable theories and stuff – what is the evidence, the science, the falsifiable theory for the existence of “better reasons”?

          Lay it all out. Show me. I’ll wait here.

        • Greg G.

          Your reasons for believing in God might be programmed into the Matrix. Therefore we should be skeptical of our beliefs about things that cannot be known, especially when they are designed to assuage our fears and appeal to our hopes. That’s how scams work.

          Whether we are brains in vats or a dream of Vishnu, we get pain or pleasure and comfort or discomfort depending on how we interact with the reality presented to us. We should learn what to expect from it but we should be careful to not let our confirmation bias cloud our judgements. The best we can do is interact as if the reality presented to us is real. The most reliable way to figure out how this apparent reality will respond is the scientific method. The worst way is to use the religious method. When I find a better method for determining how the reality presented to me works, I will use that.

        • MNb

          “The worst way is to use the religious method.”
          Too much credit. Faith and religion don’t provide a method at all.

        • SteveK

          I don’t see any of the things I asked for. You believe your position is supported by better reasons, but apparently you believe this without any of the requirements you demand of others. Show me.

        • Greg G.

          Steve, it is not better supported. It is not my position. It does not have evidence that actually points to it. But neither does religion. Both are contrived to be immune from falsification. If you argue that it is not true, your argument can be turned around to religion or any supernatural explanation.

          Except for the Problem of Evil. Christianity’s excuse for the Problem of Evil boils down to God Almighty created a perfect world in six days or 14 billion years and Lucifer ruined it with a single conversation.

        • Kodie

          Your beliefs are as ridiculous as a brain in a vat, maybe even moreso. Whatever reasons you have for believing in god seem to be your own very special secret, and all you are willing to do about it is ridicule atheism because. I don’t even know your reasons for objecting to it, not really. That’s what makes you kind of a moron to talk to.

          I demand evidence or reasons or supporting arguments, and without them, I cannot believe in your ridiculous assertion that there is any god. If you look at the brain in vat scenario and find it ridiculous only for reasons that nobody else around you believes it either, that’s not a very good reason to reject it if you are willing to believe some other horseshit without examination. You didn’t give any reason to reject it, other than some unstated reason nobody believes it. If everyone believed it, that would be your guess too? Is that why you believe in a Christian god? Bandwagon? If everyone did believe they were a brain in a vat, which you can’t say nobody does believe, would you have a different, by which I mean, valid, reason to reject it?

          I mean, you get on our cases all the time because you don’t think we have a good reason to reject Christianity. Without a good reason to believe it, that’s why I’m an atheist. We are now getting to the point where you deliver the good news or something, an actual reason why we’re doomed to suffer in hell or something. It’s just painful to watch you dance around the point, which is your good reason to believe Christianity and why we should believe it too or not reject it because it’s stupid or whatever. From here, there’s no better reason to believe it than to abstain from believing it.

        • And if you lump in the plausible idea that computer simulations of universes will at some point (maybe now) be far more common than universes, there’s a lot going for the “all that you think is real isn’t” hypothesis.

        • Susan

          You’re missing the crucial difference.

          So far, there isn’t one.

          I have reasons to believe what I do

          So far, those reasons appear to be as non-existent as your deity.

          So, no. The argument is not the same.

          So far, it’s exactly the same.

        • Greg G.

          I can’t wait until he tells us his reasons. It has been my experience that the longer someone holds back those reasons, the more hilarious they are when revealed.

        • Susan

          I can’t wait until he tells us his reasons.

          It has been months now and SteveK doesn’t provide anything.

          He stands on the outside and aims his peashooter, imagining he is wielding a bazooka.

          He thinks “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is a deep question. He’s never thought about it.

          He hasn’t bothered to look into “nothing”.

          He lectures us on being philosophically naive though he doesn’t recognize special pleading and question begging at the heart of his position. This is first term stuff.

          It’s on record. Over and over and over again.

          Catholicyahwehjesus.

          Therefore, reason.

          Don’t hold your breath. Just saying.

        • MNb

          “He’s never thought about it.”
          Let alone that he ever cared to look up what, you know, physics has to say about it.

        • Kodie

          You have no reasons to believe what you do that you’ve shared. Try to see how they’re the same from over here. SteveK has reasons is not a crucial difference to me.

        • MR

          What would it take for you to believe you were a brain in a vat?

        • Susan

          I have no reason to believe that.

          You’ve never provided a reason to believe what you do believe that is distinguishable from “brain in a vat” logic or “catholicyawhehjesus as Vishnu’s dream” logic.

          That’s the point. What you’re “into” is irrelevant.

          Yes, that could be the case but I have no reason to believe it.

          Bingo.

        • Pofarmer

          So, you’re worshiping a definition.

        • Susan

          Suppose I could provide the evidence you’re looking for. Whatever that evidence would be, why would that evidence count as evidence for God?

          Do you have such evidence?

          What do you mean by “God”? That is, what is your specific claim? What evidence supports it?

        • MNb

          Evidence for god? Not hard.
          First we assume that your god is an immaterial being capable of interacting with our material reality; we ignore that that doesn’t make sense. Then we assume that your god is omnipotent, omnipresent and omnivolent.
          Your god sees natural disasters coming, like the Japanese tsunami of 2011. He wants to avoid needless suffering, so he sends the potential victims a warning, for instance by means of a collective nightmare. Other ways also are permitted; the requirement is just that the source of the warning can’t be traced back.
          This happens on a statistical significant base, ie with a strong correlation.
          When the source cannot be traced back every single time, no matter how hard we try, we must conclude that natural explanations systematically fail. According to BobS we still could describe it to aliens with a superior technology. But I would be ready to worship that alien civilization as divine, because I would not be able to see the difference.

          Evidence for christianity is not hard either. The christian god supposedly send himself disguised as his son. Let’s ignore again that it doesn’t make sense. If the christian god could do it once he could do it twice. Give me a lost tribe, ie a group of humans that hasn’t had contact with christian civilization for at least 2000 years, say somewhere in the interior of Amazonia or Papua New-Guinea. That lost tribe also knows the story of the Gospels. Of course only the core elements are preserved: the messias-claim, the preaching, the torturous death (but rather no crucifxion, as that was a Roman specialty and would make us suspicious) and above all the Resurrection.
          That would be awesome, because very hard to explain on atheism.

        • Greg G.

          Suppose I could provide the evidence you’re looking for. Whatever that evidence would be, why would that evidence count as evidence for God?

          There are a several hundred things in the room I am in. I accept every one of them as real so the level of evidence is not that high for me to accept something as real. Common things just have to do common things while extraordinary things would have to be able to do whatever extraordinary things do.

          An omniscient being would know the minimal amount of evidence that would be persuasive to me. An omnipotent being could easily exceed that amount. Do you have an excuse for Jesus and God not meeting that so far, even when I was an on-fire believer? Do you have an excuse for why Jesus and God don’t provide that information to you?

        • SteveK

          >> An omniscient being would know the minimal amount of evidence that would be persuasive to me.

          Agreed.

          >> An omnipotent being could easily exceed that amount.

          Agreed.

          >> Do you have an excuse for Jesus and God not meeting that so far, even when I was an on-fire believer?

          So you were persuaded. In that case, God did what you asked.

        • God did what you asked.

          What about those Christians who, as their faith was waning, begged God to show himself?

          God works in mysterious ways–when something good happens, praise God, and when something bad happens (or his very existence is in doubt), that’s God being ineffable.

          I should write a post about God belief being unfalsifiable. (But I bet there are Christians who would say, “Yeah–so what?” If you could believe such a thing!)

        • Greg G.

          I was persuaded by people when I didn’t ask for it. When I began to see through the poor logic, I continued to believe though with no means of support. God never persuaded me when I asked to have my faith restored.

          I was going to Christian functions 3 or 4 times a week. At one, we sat in a circle witnessing to one another about miracles God had performed in our lives. One that had stuck with me was when a friend told how he and a friend of his went fishing in a boat in the evening. As darkness fell, the mosquitoes started feasting on them. Eventually, they decided to pray about it and almost immediately, the mosquitoes stopped biting. Right when I needed a good one, God helped one of my friends find his car keys.

          That one pretty much pushed me out the door to the point that I went back home to the church where I got “saved”. The sermon was on why people cuss and the reason give was “BECAUSE THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME!” That’s how the preacher kept saying it. I kept thinking “BULLSHIT!” Oh, there’s the same power in that word, too.

          There were other incidents that eroded my faith. At either of these times, an inspiring story might have helped but I only got the most stupid messages I could imagine. My faith in Christianity was destroyed though I was still some sort of a theist or a deist for a few years.

          A few years later, I read that mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, after it is too dark for insectivorous birds to hunt and not dark enough for the bats to come out. The secret to getting prayers answered is to pray when what you want to pray for is about to happen anyway.

        • You were frustrated that you didn’t get the miracle stories you needed, but you weren’t seeing God rightly. He was giving you the miracle stories you needed–you heard about praying for mosquitoes to stop was indeed just what you needed to see the world correctly.

          Thanks, God.

        • Kodie

          All the time I’m reading this, I am thinking about how often Christians will bag on other Christians. Even from a “true” Christian perspective, they can detect how foolish someone is being, how easily persuaded they were to go along with their group of non-true Christians, or that they must be faking it. Even “true” Christians can tell you when someone says some “miracle” sounds like a remarkable coincidence and they are being silly, but then there was some other “true” coincidence that had to be more of a miracle.

          And there’s no irony at all here, they are well aware how it works on other people who are doing it wrong.

        • Kodie

          Why do you even claim that it was god? It seems to me a former believer could better analyze what persuaded them to believe. You seem to have still no idea how easily persuaded people can be, and that your religion is just marketed well. So far, you’ve given many indications that one of the primary reasons you believe is because there are other people who do, and the shitty arguments they give you are persuasive to you that you think they should be persuasive to everyone. I know, I know, it’s so hard for a current believer to admit they could be scammed and blinded by this idiocy, but a former believer will admit how it worked on them. You think you’ll win by sheer conviction.

        • adam

          “That they exist as a “real thing” is another. ”

          SteveK is correct on this, but not in way meaningful to his argument.

          Thoughts and ideas are physical things, they are neural connections in the brain, this in essence is what is allowing science to read minds to some degree.

          Think of in the terms that his ‘god’ is all in his own mind, it is a physical pattern IN HIS BRAIN, it is REAL as a product of HIS imagination manifest as neural connections. This is fundamentally why it is so difficult for him to see his own delusion, due to the inherent ‘firewalls’ that come from indoctrination into ‘faith’. These are physical patterns in his brain, that have to be rerouted to overcome the delusion. That is why it is so less traumatic for children to overcome their belief in Santa, than adults for belief in a Sky Daddy.

          So they are in essence ‘real’, but an idea to you and the same idea to me dont meet the ‘Law of Identity’ criteria.
          Because while we may come to a general consensus of what feeling ‘blue’ means, it is still unique to the individual.

          So the only part of an idea that is Real, that is it exists the same in my reality as it does yours are these physical patterns in a brain, not the idea itself, as SteveK so dishonestly represents.

          Now I need to go wash up, after even remotly defending such a deceptive IDiot, I feel all dirty

        • MR

          Yes, I understand that, but Steve is not using the same definitions. Underlying the argument he’s claiming these things are “created” as a “real thing” which is tied back to (grounded in) objectivity, “objective good”, for example. He separates the thought “as a thing” from the thought process, created, reified ad hoc, suckling from the teat of objectivity. This is not the same as what you are describing. He needs to define his terms and use them consistently. What does “exist” mean? Can he apply that definition to both Mary exists and the thought that Mary is good exists. He’s relying on ambiguity to cloud the issue.

        • Greg G.

          What thought is the furthest from your mind? You cannot even consider it because it becomes the immediate concern of your mind as soon as you consider it.

        • MNb

          Exactly. Saying that a thought exists only makes sense in the context of the human brain.

        • Greg G.

          A thought is a process of the brain, an electromagnetic interaction of chemicals. A thought may be about a physical thing but it is not the thing itself. Thinking is no more a thing than flying is a thing. Just because something is a noun does not mean it is a physical thing.

        • SteveK

          >> A thought is a process of the brain, an electromagnetic interaction of chemicals.

          See, a thought is a real thing. You say it’s “a process of the brain…”

          >> Just because something is a noun does not mean it is a physical thing.

          I agree. This doesn’t affect my position at all.

        • Greg G.

          When you look at something, is the image you see actually a physical thing? What about when you stare at a dark colored dot on a white page for a minute, then look at another spot on the page. You see a dot with the complementary color. Do you consider the after-image a thing? The after-image is the result of transmitter depletion. It is the absence of a thing or things?

          Your working memory is thought to work that way. A thought held in your short-term is a depletion of things.

          It’s like you are arguing that an absence of something is a thing.

        • MNb

          While I agree that it matters in what way something exists I must point out here, somewhat in defense of SteveK, that it’s extraordinarily difficult to answer that question.
          However that is no justification for SteveK’s deliberate ambiguity, something he needs to argue for his objective morality.

        • MR

          Which is why I ask the questions. Is he willing to go where his rabbit hole leads, or hand wave for his favored interpretation?

          I’m not convinced it’s (always) deliberate ambiguity. I think at times he really doesn’t make a distinction. It’s not just a religious problem, look at how our culture itself treats things like love, good, evil…, the language we use foments an erroneous and ambiguous view of these things, and people like Steve are incapable of separating out the distinctions.

          The language we use regarding evolution is also problematic when we use words like designs, builds, drives…, these are intent words and misleads someone who doesn’t take the time to understand.

        • MNb

          “A ‘real thing’ is not non-existence.”
          OK. Then quantum fields do exist. Your favourite question becomes “why are there quantum fields rather than nothing?”. Indeed your god may provide a possible answer. Your god is a gambler with loaded dice.
          Not exactly christian. Reconvert, heathen!
          But you won’t of course, because you’re intellectually dishonest.

        • Kodie

          Do you think you’re a good person? I think you’re terrible.

        • adam

          ” is a success when it aligns with an individual understanding.”

          BUT society morals are NOT dependent on individual understanding.

          THIS is where where you are being DISHONEST.

        • MR

          I’m trying to understand.

          You haven’t tried to understand since I started engaging you months ago.

        • adam

          “You haven’t tried to understand since I started engaging you months ago.”

        • SteveK

          So you can read minds now?

        • MR

          If you were trying to understand, you wouldn’t have to resort to strawmanning my position at every turn.

          Edit: Do you think you can give an accurate assessment of my position?

        • SteveK

          I’m not knowingly strawmanning your position. I don’t think I’m too far off and at the same time am probably not getting some of the finer points correct.

          Take 2 of the things I’ve said that are the most incorrect and show me where I went wrong.

        • adam

          1. Your ‘god’, failing to demonstrate that it is anything but IMAGINARY
          2. Objective morality, failing to demonstrate that it is anything but IMAGINARY

        • SteveK

          So?

        • adam

          There is your 2 things

        • MR

          See my other post and see if you can accurately state my position.

        • adam

          No, but we can all read your ‘posts’, your ‘claims’ and your dishonesty….

        • MR

          As I reread this, I sense more word games on your part. Moral terms are not descriptors of our opinions. We use moral terms to describe our judgment of an action. Describing the action is not the same as describing our opinion/judgment of the action.

          You didn’t say that above…. don’t blame me for responding to your words just as they were written.

          Also, the original comment wasn’t to you. I have no doubt that Greg G. is smart enough to understand the nuance and honest enough not to play games with my meaning.

          When we speak of morality, to whom is the action good or not-good? Or they may be indifferent for that matter. We look at the actions of other species with a dispassionate eye. We do not assign judgments when one animal kills another animal, for example. Morals, talk of right and wrong, good and evil, are subjective.

          The lion killed its cub: The action.
          Bad kitty: Moral (subjective) judgement of the action.

          John killed Hitler: The action.
          Bad John: Moral (subjective) judgement of the action.

          Lions sometimes kill each other. People sometimes kill each other. How you feel about it is your moral judgment. You many empathize and judge it bad. You may be of the opinion someone deserved it and judge it good.

          To speak objectively of an action is to speak dispassionately of it and discuss it in terms that strip away the moral judgment. Spock or Data might speak of such actions in terms of the harm or benefit of the parties involved. Objective. As humans, we are likely to color such talk with our judgment or opinion. She did wrong. Subjective.

          Now, can you show me an example of objective morality? That would indeed be magic. Just like Good as a thing.

        • adam

          “When viewed objectively, they are all clearly false.”

        • SteveK

          >> None can show that their religion is far superior to all others.

          Again, I find this to be a remarkable statement. You actually think the Greek and pagan religions are equally superior to all the others.

        • adam

          “You actually think the Greek and pagan religions are equally superior to all the others.”

          No equally INFERIOR to all the others.

        • MNb

          When it comes to human psychology indeed ancient Olympian religion is superior to christianity. The Pantheon reflects the human condition a lot better than the Bible, including the NT.

        • Greg G.

          Again, I find this to be a remarkable statement. You actually think the Greek and pagan religions are equally superior to all the others.

          That’s the opposite of what I said. When it comes to distinguishing a false religion from a true one, they all fail. I never hinted that any were better than another. They all appear to be contrived.

        • SteveK

          >> never hinted that any were better than another.

          You used the word “superior”, that’s where I got the hint. I understand that you think all religions are false, but c’mon, if you think they are all equally superior (or inferior) then you haven’t been paying attention to how each one has impacted human history.

        • adam

          ” if you think they are all equally superior (or inferior) then you haven’t been paying attention to how each one has impacted human history.”

          Maybe you are correct…

          Christianity has been EXTREMELY destructive…

        • Greg G.

          Of course some religions can be better than others. A religion can be better than it was the day before just by dropping one stupid belief. It’s not like any religion doesn’t have room for improvement.

        • adam

          But that is a relative judgement, not an OBJECTIVE one…..lol…..

        • Kodie

          Don’t overlook the fact that SteveK is likely Christian now due to an ISIS-like effort made by Christians at some earlier point in human history, and not because it was simply “good news”.

        • Greg G.

          I see. I only meant it in terms of truth value.

          Sure, some religions are superior in quality than others. Christianity without the Inquisition is better than Christianity with the Inquisition.

        • adam

        • adam

          “If some religion preached that love and kindness were human vices to be
          avoided I’d think you’d be able to determine that it was clearly a false
          religion.”

          No, if you cant know the ‘god’, you cant know it’s nature.

          We KNOW the nature of the bible ‘god’ and it is monsterous.

        • adam

          “What’s remarkable to me is that you are unable see any differences, as if you are blind to the notion of morality and the concepts of virtue, vice, good and evil.”

          No WE understand this well, it is YOU who seem to have problems with it.

          YOU seem to think that the bible ‘god’s’ actions and his commands for mass murder, genocide and frivolous killing are not at all evil.

        • Susan

          What’s remarkable to me is that you are unable to see any differences

          None that separate false religions from a true one. Can you provide an example that does? That was Greg G.’s point and you haven’t addressed it.

          as if you are blind to the notion of morality and the concepts of virtue, vice, good and evil.

          Now, you’re changing the subject to a subject that you have never shown the willingness or ability to engage in, though you love to bring it up as though it adds any weight to your supernatural beliefs.

          Those concepts existed long before yahwehjesus beliefs and yahwehjesus doesn’t contribute much to their exploration.

          I know. You’re not going to reply to me because I had a nasty pattern of asking you to take your claims seriously and follow them through to their logical conclusion. (yawn)

          What does your religion have to say about dishonesty and evasion? 😉

          If some religion preached that love and kindness were human vices to be avoided I’d think you’d be able to determine that it was clearly a false religion.

          If anyone preached those things, I would disagree. Religion has nothing to do with it. Do you have an example of a religion that preaches these things?

        • adam

          “What does your religion have to say about dishonesty and evasion? ;-)”

          THUS demonstrating that his religion is false.

        • MNb

          “What’s remarkable to me is that you are unable see any differences”
          What’s remarkable is your lack of comprehensive reading skills, Or it’s just your dishonesty.

          “you’d be able to determine that it was clearly a false religion”
          Nice is-ought fallacy.

        • adam

          “It seems remarkable that false religions are indistinguishable from a true one.”

          Not if they are all FALSE.

        • Andrea Fitzgerald

          Not remarkable at all. All religions are false.

        • adam

          You dont seem to catch on at all.

        • I have mustache envy.

        • adam

          What a brush, huh?

        • Yes, people will believe what they want to believe. Careful observers like you and I, however, know that their belief is poorly founded if it’s built on no evidence and could be overturned with no evidence.

        • Andrea Fitzgerald

          I have been a student of world religions for some sixteen years now, which is why I’m an atheist. Was raised a Catholic and attended twelve years of Catholic school and survived! Tossed aside the idiocy of Catholicism, as well as all others, because none of them make any sense to me. It still amazes me how people just refuse to give in to scientific evidence and believe in an invisible man in the sky. 🙂

    • Many beliefs are incapable of being falsified.

      Give examples of some that are worth holding.

      The belief that something is wrong with you if you cannot falsify your belief is itself an unfalsifiable belief.

      Shot myself in the foot, have I? Very clever.

      Science says that it’s good for claims to be falsifiable, and we test that claim. Science delivers, and its rejection of unfalsifiable beliefs isn’t just an arbitrary bias—it serves science well.

      So, no–there no contradiction here.

      Meh. I’m not impressed.

      So the fact that the Muslim is determined to hold onto his belief, and no evidence could ever possibly sway him, is A-OK from your standpoint? You applaud his stance?

      • SteveK

        >> Give examples of some that are worth holding.

        1) The belief that, all things being equal, it’s good for humans to place a higher value on human life compared to animal life.

        2) The belief that all humans have an inalienable right to life.

        >> Science says that it’s good for claims to be falsifiable, and we test that claim. Science delivers, and its rejection of unfalsifiable beliefs isn’t just an arbitrary bias—it serves science well.

        Of course. This is the way science works. Not everything is subject to scientific investigation, Bob.

        >> So, no–there no contradiction here.

        Not a contradiction, just an inability on your part to know when unfalsifiability is a problem that needs to be resolved.

        • adam

          “Not a contradiction, just an inability on your part to know when unfalsifiability is a problem that needs to be resolved.”

          Easy, when it posits the worship of a monsterous god

        • MNb

          For neither example of yours we need any god, let alone christianity. Now where is William of Ockham?

        • ”Give examples of some that are worth holding.”

          1) The belief that, all things being equal, it’s good for humans to place a higher value on human life compared to animal life.

          2) The belief that all humans have an inalienable right to life.

          You can’t justify this? This is just a faith tenet that you hold for no good reason, just because?

          Of course. This is the way science works.

          Yes, it does. So then the bias against unfalsifiable beliefs is indeed well founded, despite your claim.

          Not a contradiction, just an inability on your part to know when unfalsifiability is a problem that needs to be resolved.

          I’m missing the problem. When someone holds a belief that has consequences (instead of some trivial belief that doesn’t), and that belief is unfalsifiable, that’s a bad thing.

          A repeat from last time: “The fact that the Muslim is determined to hold onto his belief, and no evidence could ever possibly sway him, is A-OK from your standpoint? You applaud his stance?”

        • SteveK

          >> You can’t justify this? This is just a faith tenet that you hold for no good reason, just because?

          The issue you’ve been complaining about is a belief being unfalsifiable, and none of these beliefs can be falsified. Your questions here imply that falsification isn’t necessary when there are good reasons.

          You’re content with beliefs that can be justified with good reasons, but without the ability to be falsified. I’m good with taking that approach too.

          Regarding the Muslim, his belief in God is justified for the same good reasons I would give. I don’t know enough about Islam to tell you where they might be wrong regarding specifics. I think they are mistaken about God, but I’m not bothered that they believe in God and that they choose to live their life as a Muslim and raise their family that way. I’m not bothered when I’m asked to be reasonably tolerant of their unfalsifiable Muslim beliefs either.

        • The issue you’ve been complaining about is a belief being unfalsifiable, and none of these beliefs can be falsified.

          So you can find evidence to support them, but you’re certain that there is none against them?

          Notice also the difference between evidence against God: it’s trivial to prove that any such evidence is no proof against God because God is not understandable. QED—no proof is possible. Show me the same thing for these other beliefs.

          If I found falsifying evidence against these beliefs (or any other that I accepted), I’d reject the belief. How about you?

          Regarding the Muslim, his belief in God is justified for the same good reasons I would give.

          So you’re saying that your belief is no stronger or weaker (and no more or less justified) than the Muslim’s?

          I think they are mistaken about God

          Who cares? I’m sure you don’t since they have an unfalsifiable belief, just like you. Because of symmetry, his belief must be as well grounded as yours.

        • SteveK

          >> So you can find evidence to support them, but you’re certain that there is none against them?

          I’m not saying that I’m certain but maybe you are. I’m saying there are good reasons to think the circumstantial evidence justifies the conclusion.

          >> If I found falsifying evidence against these beliefs (or any other that I accepted), I’d reject the belief. How about you?

          I would too.

          >> So you’re saying that your belief is no stronger or weaker (and no more or less justified) than the Muslim’s?

          I can’t tell you if it’s stronger/weaker or more/less unless you get more specific. I’m not interested in going down that path though. I’m referring to non-religious reasons here.

          >> Because of symmetry, his belief must be as well grounded as yours.

          I’m referring to reasons that are not specific to any particular religion, so yes they would be well grounded.

        • adam

          “I’m referring to reasons that are not specific to any particular religion, so yes they would be well grounded. ”

          And yet the whole conversation is about religion and how grounded the assumption about ‘god’ is.

    • MNb

      “Many beliefs are incapable of being falsified.”
      Correct. And exactly here it’s where William of Ockham comes into play. Guess what? Laplace’ “I don’t have any need for that hypothesis applies” as much today as it did 200+ years ago.

  • Greg G.

    An SMBC way of looking at quantum physics:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3961

  • XCellKen

    “But no one approaches truth that way in any other sector of life. ”

    Ever talk to a 3rd Wave feminist ? (Hint: The man is ALWAYS wrong)