10 Tough Questions for the Atheist to Answer (2 of 3)

10 Tough Questions for the Atheist to Answer (2 of 3) April 26, 2017

Shadows on crosswalkWe’re exploring ten tough questions from Christian apologist J. Warner Wallace that supposedly provide strong evidence for the Christian claim. Let’s continue.

4. Why Does There Appear to Be Evidence of Intelligence in Biology?

“Most scientists are quick to agree that biological systems often ‘appear’ to be designed. There are many examples of biological ‘machines’ that appear to be irreducibly complex, a sure sign of design. . . . Perhaps the most important evidence suggesting the involvement of an intelligent agent is the presence of DNA and the guiding role that this DNA plays in the formation of biological systems.”

Appearances can be deceiving. ELIZA was a computer program with which users could have a typed conversation, as if with an attentive friend. Originally written in 1966, it could be assigned as a homework problem today. It convincingly mimics intelligence, though it contains none. Perhaps we’re seeing an ELIZA effect when we look at DNA, imagining intelligence where there is none.

Is the marvelous complexity we see in the cell a clue to an omniscient designer? Or is this clumsy, non-optimal Rube Goldberg machine actually evidence for evolution? Biologists are satisfied that evolution explains it. Laymen have no grounds by which to reject the scientific consensus as the best provisional explanation we have (more here).

The claim of irreducible complexity doesn’t convince biologists either. I’ve written more on that here.

As for DNA being strong evidence for intelligence, guess again. In fact, DNA alone demolishes this Argument from Design. DNA is a record of evolution’s sloppy progress, not the perfect blueprint of an omniscient designer.

The Christian might point out that for every instance of information, we find an intelligence behind it. That may be so, but for every instance of intelligently caused information, that intelligence is natural, not supernatural.

Given the long list of things we thought were supernatural but are actually natural (disease, earthquakes, and so on), you’d think that apologists would be more cautious. But no, once science resolves a puzzle, they’ll just retreat to another unanswered question to defend their God of the Gaps.

5. How Did Human Consciousness Come Into Being?

“[As evolution proceeds, naturalists must] imagine that spatially-arranged matter somehow organized itself to produce non-spatial, immaterial mental states. Naturalism has no reasonable explanation for how this might come to pass.”

Ah, but it does: emergent properties. Consider a water molecule. It doesn’t have the properties of wetness, fluidity, or surface tension, but once you get trillions of trillions of them, then these properties emerge.

Or take the human brain. Our brains have roughly 100 billion (that’s 1011) neurons. A single neuron doesn’t think 10–11 times as fast; it doesn’t think at all. Thinking is another emergent phenomenon. (I’ve written more on that here.)

If the point is that we have plenty to learn about consciousness, that’s certainly true. Again, science’s long to-do list of unanswered questions does nothing to support the Christian claim.

Wallace also insists on the existence of the mind as something separate from the brain, but he gives no evidence of this dualism. For every instance that we know of, a mind is supported by a physical brain.

Remember the story of Phineas Gage, the man who had a steel rod shot through his head while working on a railroad tunnel (more here)? Or consider an Alzheimer’s patient. As the physical brain is damaged or deteriorates, the mind is also damaged. The “mind” is simply what the brain does.

If Wallace thinks that the mind (or soul) is something separate or that consciousness is not the inevitable end result of a sufficiently large brain, he needs to show evidence.

6. Where Does Free Will Come From?

Wallace imagines various philosophical problems with free will and then solves them with God as the first mover. Of course, he doesn’t explain the new puzzles that the God hypothesis introduces—where God came from or how God could always have existed or what laws of nature (if any) God breaks to do his miracles. This hypothesis teaches us nothing new. God becomes a synonym for “I don’t know.”

If God is the reason that we have free will, then Wallace is saying that a godless universe would have no free will. I await evidence of this claim.

I have little interest in philosophical puzzles. In the apologetics context, they seem like nothing more than smoke screens. (More here.)

7. Why Are Humans So Contradictory in Nature?

Humans can be altruistic and compassionate, but we can also be hateful and murderous. “Philosophical Naturalism struggles to explain how creatures capable of genocide and cruelty are also capable of compassion and sacrificial generosity.”

What’s puzzling? Humans have a large palette of personality traits and drives. They came from evolution, and we’re stuck with them, though we can try to adapt to modern Western norms.

These drives, both “good” ones like patience and perseverance and “bad” ones like lust or envy, can be useful. The problem arises when any are used too much.

For example, generosity is a good trait because we usually aren’t generous enough, but you need to be a bit selfish so that you don’t damage your own life by giving away too much. Anger is a bad trait because we can be angry too often, but the focus and drive that it gives can be useful occasionally when righting a wrong.

Different conditions create a wide variety of norms (the Nazi prison guard is a classic example) that encourage actions inconceivable in healthy modern society. We don’t need to handwave about Mankind’s fall to explain the good and bad we see in human actions.

Concluded in part 3.

In dark ages people are best guided by religion, 
as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; 
he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. 
When daylight comes, however, 
it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides. 
— Heinrich Heine

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/20/13.)

Photo credit: Z S, flickr, CC

 


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  • Pofarmer

    Interesting article from National Geographic

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/03/160306-bible-apostle-jesus-christian-religion-ngbooktalk/

    These 12 Men Shaped Christianity—But Were They Real?

    Get’s some basic things wrong and is garbled in places, but, interesting nonetheless.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Some people say that the ossuary is real but the inscription, which says “James, the Brother of Jesus” in Aramaic, is not.

      Mmmm yes. And some of the people who say that are on the Israeli Antiquities Authority which looked into the “Jesus tomb” claims, which eventually ended in a fraud trial. These are not random “man on the street’ naysayers.
      Faith, forgery, science — and the James Ossuary

      The fact that Josephus and others
      regarded the Roman destruction of Jerusalem as divine revenge for the
      death of James, who was killed circa A.D 66 right before the Jewish revolt against Rome, tells you everything you need to know about how significant he was.

      Total WTF?

      At least it’s a trifle more skeptical than the article NatGeo ran on the Christian apostles in 2012. That was pandering of the worst sort.
      In the footsteps of the apostles
      The 2012 article took the tone, “Who cares if its true? This is what people believe.” They even included the story that the apostle Thomas allegedly went to Kerala, India.

      • GubbaBumpkin

        Does anyone have an idea what he was intending with the Josephus remark?

        • Kevin K

          Antiquities of the Jews. It’s the second “interpolation” mentioning that Jesus. See if you can spot it.

          1. And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he
          had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was
          also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority].
          Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most
          equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not
          lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.

          Without the funny-business “who was called Christ” nonsense, it’s clear that the Jesus being talked about here is a son of Damneus, and that Jesus became high priest after his brother James was killed.

          Following this scene is a discussion of the causes of the great uprising that became the Jewish Wars…Josephus doesn’t lay this at the feet of the killing of James, however. He says it was due to the workers on the temple not being paid.

          So…just another lie in Jesus-land.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Thanks. I knew about the “James, brother of Jesus H. Christ” bit, but the confounding of that with “divine revenge” and the Jewish war threw me off.

          And this guy thinks he knows enough to be writing books about events of that time.

        • Kevin K

          Yeah, that part was purely his invention. It’s nowhere in Josephus.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, it’s a little scary. The more I read, the more appalled I got.

    • Kevin K

      NatGeo. Fuck. The death of a once-great publication.

      • Pofarmer

        I tend to agree.

      • Greg G.

        I only read it for the pictures.

      • TheNuszAbides

        who just bought it? Koch? Murdoch?

        • Pofarmer

          Murdoch.

        • Kevin K

          Murdoch. A while ago.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    non-spatial, immaterial mental states

    I am looking forward to Wallace’s evidence that mental states can exist without a material instantiation. If he can’t do that. then he’s just talking gibberish.

    • Kevin K

      That doesn’t even rise to the level of oxymoron, does it? It’s pure nonsense. Gibberish.

    • Yeah, but all information comes from minds!

      So there.

  • Herald Newman

    6. Where Does Free Will Come From?

    Damned good question I say.

    First, the apologist needs to define what they mean by “free will.” Then they have to show me that “free will” actually exists. Then we can start talking about “where does free will come from?”

    I’m inclined to believe that free will is an illusion, and we have no control over our actions.

    • Kevin K

      I’m perfectly content with the notion that humans can make “free will” decisions — whether to have the chicken rather than the fish. I don’t think the universe declared at the Big Bang that it would be fish and only fish for that particular meal. After all, the entire field of quantum physics recognizes that everything in nature is merely a set of probabilities.

      However, the theist notion of “free will” is different. It’s the concept that explains why mankind was “allowed” to “sin” against the god who has clearly laid out its desires for human behavior.

      It’s hard to even begin to list the ways that concept is moronic.

      • Speedwell

        Well, the way I usually explain it (you’re not far off) is that at the level of subatomic particles, my desk is empty air and electricity. And at the level of philosophical analysis, my thoughts are biochemical processes over which I have no control. But up here where we actually live and experience things, the desk is a solid object and I can and indeed must make choices. On more macro scales than that, only the aggregate actions of the community of which I am a part mean anything, and the desk is just an instance of a product design. It’s all in your frame of reference.

        • Greg G.

          It the biochemical processes that are your thoughts, control your memories, and make your choices before they allow you to think you made a choice.

        • Speedwell

          That’s true, but we can’t directly perceive that. The distinction is critically important.

        • Kevin K

          I think there is much we don’t understand about consciousness and conscious and subconscious thought…scientists haven’t even been able to adequately define those terms, yet. But this much I’m sure of … all thoughts are products of your brain. Both conscious and subconscious thoughts are your brain at work.

          I think there is a “command-and-control” mechanism that includes a “reporting” mechanism whereby your conscious mind requests some brain processing power of the subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind reports back its findings. Otherwise, you’d be 1) unable to articulate any thought derived from the process of “thinking”, and B) unable to point your mind to performing a task — mental or otherwise. You’d be literally stumbling around in the dark.

          I think the neuroscience is pretty clear that your subconscious mind makes decisions and reports those decisions upwards to the conscious mind. The subconscious mind even causes the body to act in a seemingly non-volitional way — this has been shown in the lab, and most certainly is the reason some baseball players can hit a fastball better than others.

          But at the end of the day, it’s still your brain doing those things. Making those decisions. Swinging at that fastball, even before you’re aware that you’ve made that decision.

      • After all, the entire field of quantum physics recognizes that everything in nature is merely a set of probabilities.

        Incorrect. From David Bohm:

            The assumption that any particular kind of fluctuations are arbitrary and lawless relative to all possible contexts, like the similar assumption that there exists an absolute and final determinate law, is therefore evidently not capable of being based on any experimental or theoretical developments arising out of specific scientific problems, but it is instead a purely philosophical assumption. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, 44)

        Bohm probably should have gotten a Nobel Prize for the Aharonov–Bohm effect. This is from Ilya Prigogine, who did get a Nobel Prize:

            Nearly two hundred years ago, Joseph-Louis Lagrange described analytical mechanics based on Newton’s laws as a branch of mathematics.[33] In the French scientific literature, one often speaks of “rational mechanics.” In this sense, Newton’s laws would define the laws of reason and represent a truth of absolute generality. Since the birth of quantum mechanics and relativity, we know that this is not the case. The temptation is now strong to ascribe a similar status of absolute truth to quantum theory. In The Quark and the Jaguar, Gell-Mann asserts, “Quantum mechanics is not itself a theory; rather it is the framework into which all contemporary physical theory must fit.”[34] Is this really so? As stated by my late friend Léon Rosenfeld, “Every theory is based on physical concepts expressed through mathematical idealizations. They are introduced to give an adequate representation of the physical phenomena. No physical concept is sufficiently defined without the knowledge of its domain of validity.“[35] (The End of Certainty, 28–29)

        Aren’t you a science writer or something?

    • curtcameron

      I also think that free will is an illusion, but it’s a mistake that “we have no control over our actions.” Of course I have control of my actions – who else would? It’s just that the “I” is a product of chemical reactions in my brain.

      • Herald Newman

        Of course I have control of my actions – who else would?

        Perhaps “nobody” is the answer. If every action is determined by previous interactions, how exactly do you have control?

        • curtcameron

          I have control in that case, because I *am* the physical interactions in my brain. That’s who I am.

          By the way, I don’t consider myself a compatibilist. There is no free will. But when someone says “we have no control,” that makes it sound (to me) like there is a separate self somewhere, and this self is not in control of our actions, that they’re the product of physics and chemistry. But I like to point out that what we really are is the combination of these reactions, so “we” really are responsible for the actions, it’s just a different “we” than the supernaturalists are referring to.

        • Greg G.

          Are you sure you have control? Experiments with computers reading brain waves show that the decisions you make can be predicted well before you know you have made a decision. You get a feeling of control for a decision that was made several seconds earlier.

          The pathways of the brain signals have been optimized for size and energy use to an acceptable error level. What you decide may just be an error correction that isn’t even correct. If the error correction makes an incorrect correction that happens to be correct in another sense, you have creativity.

        • curtcameron

          Sure, Greg G, I agree with all of that, and I don’t think it conflicts with what I’m saying.

          I’m pushing back on the phrasing of “we have no control,” because that makes it sound like there is a separate “we” out there, separate from the physical body. That’s using supernatural language to describe something, which is counter-productive.

          I have no problem with the idea that my unconscious mind can come up with decisions before my conscious mind is aware of it, and my conscious mind will retroactively rationalize the decision that my unconscious makes. But both of those are still ME. My decision is made by the physics and chemistry going on inside my head, and those processes are WHO I AM.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          I think Greg G. is confusing determinism with fatalism.

        • Greg G.

          My understanding of quantum mechanics leads me to think they are random events but they are so pervasive and random that they tend to cancel one another out. But that does not rule out that some local quantum event could cause a butterfly effect that could lead to an “alterations” of higher level events.

          But if such an event resulted in a different decision being made, it would still not be will that made the decision.

          So, I don’t think determinism or fatalism applies. As to Free Will, the Free part isn’t Will and the Will part isn’t Free.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          But if such an event resulted in a different decision being made, it would still not be will that made the decision.

          Well, if you look at the writings of Christians like Ken Miller (finding Darwin’s God) he argues that those quantum events are not really random, they are guided by God.
          My response is that if he wants to argue for a God that is indistinguishable from random events, I’m not likely to get involved in the argument. Such a puny God is a far cry from the all-knowing, all-powerful Being we were promised.

        • Greg G.

          For a physicist, Miller is a pretty good biologist.

        • Anat

          I don’t think those experiments show we don’t make the decisions, only that we are not conscious of our decision-making process (which means introspection produces bogus results).

        • Greg G.

          I think it does show that will is not at the conscious level, though.

          I have said elsewhere that the brain signal channels are optimized for weight, energy use, and signal reliability which means trade-offs are made. That means there would be some error correction for any wild errors that get passed along but the error correction may not restore the original signal. That would allow an element that could be free, though it controls the will. It could also be a source of creativity.

        • Phil Rimmer

          I had a theory that large brains, needing to parse a huge amount of often conflicting data inbound and internal, and having a strong energy conservation predisposition to use it minimally (brains cost 20% of our energy budget , 8% back office and 12% actual thinking/neural processing) and a powerful pre-frontal cortex, spindle cell, anterior cingulate cortex action-veto mechanism, may well have a problem initiating any actions.

          It seemed to me by creating a strong illusion of willfulness through the post hoc narrative we create to actions that we found ourselves performing, then we may actually predispose ourselves to greater action rather than less or, fatally, none.

          Indeed the post hoc narrative account of the feeling of free will gives us grist for our predictive mill. How will I behave in this forthcoming encounter? We rehearse our actions and refine our choices, by consciously rejecting those propositions from our subconscious that fail conscious (cultural) tests. Rehearsal, building and strengthening a habit, is how we can have conscious access to the determination of our future actions.

          Jonathan Haidt likens the human experience to be like a rider and elephant who learn to work in concert through practice. In our rehearsals we train the unconscious beast that does our heavy lifting.

          Insufficient rehearsal and we may surprise and disappoint ourselves by our “failure of will”.

        • cc: Of course I have control of my actions – who else would?

          HN: Perhaps “nobody” is the answer. If every action is determined by previous interactions, how exactly do you have control?

          “If I deny that agent causation could exist, then how can agent causation exist?”

  • RichardSRussell

    If God is the reason that we have free will, then Wallace is saying that a godless universe would have no free will. I await evidence of this claim.

    This segues nicely from the old observation “If everything has a cause, what caused God?” to “If God already knows everything, including how every speck of matter and instant of time will play out for all eternity, can he be said to have free will himself?”

  • busterggi

    Why Does There Appear to Be Evidence of Intelligence in Biology?

    For the same reason some people see Jesus in their Cheetos.

    • Cozmo the Magician

      or even a dog’s arse.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Wallace imagines various philosophical problems with free will and then solves them with God as the first mover.

    Wallace’s God is most certainly not the God of the Bible.

    ‘Free will’ is so important to Christian theology that the term appears in the King James Version of the Bible precisely zero times. And YHWH frequently violates free will, such as when He ‘hardens the heart’ of pharaoh so that He can show off by killing more people and animals.

    • adam
      • GubbaBumpkin
      • Michael Neville

        When Ol’ Yahweh gets into smiting mode then no one is safe. That’s why the Hebrews had to mark their houses so the wrong kids didn’t get killed.

      • Speedwell

        It makes me wonder whether Pharaoh was like Trump, and the Egyptians like his supporters. Still, kids weren’t at fault.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          It makes me wonder whether Pharaoh was like Trump

          No. The Pharaoh of the Bible had the distinct advantage of being fictional.

        • Kevin K

          I do find it fascinating that every other character in the bible is identified by name … except this one “Pharaoh”. Almost as if they didn’t want anyone looking at the historical record of any particular pharaoh.

          It’s a deliberate deception. One that guarantees the entire story is a fiction.

        • Greg G.

          His name was Pharaoh the Pharaoh.

        • Kevin K

          Kinda like God’s name is God in some circles.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          It sound better in the original Flemming “Bond, James Bond” (ok, i never actually read the novels, so no idea if that line was ever written by Flemming) Note to self. Read the originals..

        • epeeist

          Almost as if they didn’t want anyone looking at the historical record of any particular pharaoh.

          Or they had heard of Pharaoh’s but didn’t know they had names, or they didn’t know the name of the one in power when the story was devised.

          I am struggling to think of anyone in the Iliad or Odyssey who is referred to only by their title.

        • Kevin K

          That’s a bit of a stretch…Egypt was the dominant power in the area for centuries. It would be like the people of Canada not knowing who was President of the US today.

          Heck, the land now called “Israel” WAS Egypt for a long time, which would be like the people of New Mexico not knowing who the President was.

          AFAIK, only fables of a certain “there once was a king…” type didn’t name the king.

        • epeeist

          That’s a bit of a stretch

          Quite possibly, I was just trying to point out that other explanations are possible. The corollary would be that unless there is a specific reason to do so can’t choose one particular explanation over another.

        • Kevin K

          The theist explanation is that the Jews were afraid of reprisals from the Egyptians if they named which pharaoh. Which is like — um, didn’t Yahweh kick his ass already? You want your second born to die as well?

          Of course, you’re right, there are a ton of other explanations. None of which hold much water, in my opinion. The most likely explanation is that the entire book is a fiction. Especially since not a single word of it can be backed up with empirical evidence.

        • Greg G.

          I am struggling to think of anyone in the Iliad or Odyssey who is referred to only by their title.

          The Suitors?

        • Kevin K

          Only because there were so many of them…but weren’t there some specific suitors? An old rival of Odysseus? I read the thing when I was in the 8th grade — original Greek translation. That was a LOOOOOONG time ago, back when Fred and Barney were still working down at the rock quarry.

        • Greg G.

          The Sirens, then.

        • Kevin K

          Ha! But not kings…are they?

        • Anat

          Also the story is supposedly set in Egypt, but uses Assyrian terminology to describe the slavery system. Also borrows the birth story of king Sargon for Moses. Almost like it was written in a Mesopotamian sphere of influence but uses Egypt as a stand-in.

      • mobathome

        That’s not what the story says. It specifically says god did it to show off, and furthermore, that when the pharaoh was going to let his people go, god messed with him to make sure he would refuse.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s the opinion of Egyptologists and many Biblical scholars that Exodus is fiction. It’s a propaganda piece where a small country is saying their god is a bigger badass than the gods of the local superpower.

        • mobathome

          MONSIEUR JOURDAIN.- Quoi, quand je dis : “Nicole, apportez-moi mes pantoufles, et me donnez mon bonnet de nuit [16] “, c’est de la prose ?
          MAÎTRE DE PHILOSOPHIE.- Oui, Monsieur.
          MONSIEUR JOURDAIN.- Par ma foi, il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose, sans que j’en susse rien ; et je vous suis le plus obligé du monde, de m’avoir appris cela.

        • Michael Neville

          Qu’est-ce que fuck?

        • mobathome

          It’s what the story says. Fiction or not is irrelevant.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Humans can be altruistic and compassionate, but we can also be hateful and murderous.

    This mixture of traits is not exclusive to humans. Wallace’s claim evaporates at the most minimal inspection.

    • Kevin K

      Evidence of our evolutionary history as part of the ape family, to be specific. All great apes live in cooperative tribal groups that compete — sometimes war — with their neighbors.

      In-group compassion and cooperation are pro-adaptive behaviors. Out-group competition, even violent competition, was also pro-adaptive as well back in “the day”.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    4. Why Does There Appear to Be Evidence of Intelligence in Biology?

    Why does there appear to be evidence of stupidity in biology? And I am nominating
    J. Warner Wallace as Exhibit A. Many people are stupid. Many biological “designs” are stupid, or at least sub-optimal. Does not speak of a perfect Creator.

  • Kevin K

    There are many examples of biological ‘machines’ that appear to be irreducibly complex

    Name one.

    Hint: the bacterial flagellum ain’t it. Michael Behe, whose idiotic contention this is, earned his PhD after the evolutionary pathway of the bacterial flagellum had been elucidated. He was wrong before he even got started.

    • busterggi

      Does the ‘funny bone’ count because only an intelligent designer would have a sense of humor?

      • Jim Jones

        Any suggestion of intelligent design I would counter with Cymothoa exigua.

        • Kevin K

          Well, it’s intelligent for the parasite.

        • Phil Rimmer

          This is from the fevered imagination of a Douglas Adams, surely?

        • Jim Jones

          The study of parasites ought to convince anyone that a ‘designer’ would scare the Old Ones.

  • Major Major

    I wonder if we could understand what animals such as dolphins, chimps, orcas, crows etc were saying, that they in some sense would be conscious, or at least exhibit a sort of protoconsciousness too.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Probably. I think we would discover that the world is not black and white, but shades of grey, and that our simplistic conceptions do not account for what will be revealed by extensive inquiry. A prominent past example is the question of whether viruses are ‘alive’ or not.

      • Kevin K

        Not just viruses. Prions as well. Self-replicating … damned difficult to stop from replicating once started, actually.

        • Jim Jones

          A New Physics Theory of Life

          From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.

          “You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant,” England said.

        • Kevin K

          I saw that paper. Fascinating. 2nd LoT.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Intelligent looking designoids happen in biology because of two processes. Evolution isn’t proactive it responds to a world of chaotically changing selective pressures and has no goal per se but to relieve those pressures. Second evolution is a lazy bodger. It uses processes developed to respond to an earlier pressure to respond to a new pressure. Teeth to help cartilaginous fish tear apart other fish were formed before bones. Erroneously deposited around the head, the extra brain (well nerve centre) covering protects against the teeth of other fish. First a skull, then a spine protecting the muscle activating coms of the notochord. Fish scales (guanine deposits appearing in the eyes of one species endowed then with an ability to surreptitiously spy on prey below them whilst appearing disinterested.

    Developing toolkits of adaptive genetic functions each tool conferring an historical solution either to exploit or escape a novel (not addressed yet) resource or threat appears increasingly as sophistication especially when the tools work together.

    The land arch seems impossible but we don’t see the hard flint pebbles of a river bed overlaid by sands of a flood and the sedimentary compacting and the underground washing away of the pebbles, loosening downstream and working upstream leaving an unsupported arch….

    The ever changing niches and re-purposing of old capabilities creates “design”. Jaw bones become the malleus, incus and stapes of the inner ear.

    As a designer, this is actually how I develop. I create the appearance of intelligence….

    • RichardSRussell

      Phil, you sound as if you have a lot of interesting things to say. You should gin them up into an essay relevant to this blog and offer it to Bob as a guest post. He does that sort of thing from time to time.

      • Phil Rimmer

        I’m just trying to find my feet here and rather screwed it by calling Bob a dick. I’d better take it slowly for a while. Cheers!

  • Phil Rimmer

    There is no free will, except for those who need to make you guilty.

    I would rather my “will” led me to the right answer rather than an independent answer. Accepting ownership of your own actions and achieving a happy integrity , with or without the benign or malign interference of others seems a good goal.

    The freedom I want is the freedom that comes with an increasing number of excellent offered choices of actions, when I need a solution.

    • I would rather my “will” led me to the right answer rather than an independent answer.

      Isn’t this what Enlightenment folks thought when they spoke of ‘Reason’? The problem is that ‘Reason’ is an adaptation from ‘God’ and doesn’t exist if God doesn’t exist. Evolution is not teleological; it merely selects for organisms which are better adapted to the environment—to what is ultimately appearance. From whence is there further ‘leading’, on naturalism?

      • Tommy

        So… What’s your point?

        • You aren’t allowed to call upon entities or forces or persons which your metaphysics denies possible existence.

        • Tommy

          In English, please.

        • Which of the following terms do you not understand:

               1. call upon
               2. entities
               3. forces
               4. persons
               5. metaphysics
               6. possible existence

          ?

        • Tommy

          It’s not the individual words, it’s the way you put them together that makes you nonsensical.

        • You don’t understand how a metaphysic can prohibit certain things from existing?

        • Tommy

          I can understand the metaphysical prohibition of reciprocal entities presiding over total transparent domains, which entail that all theists antidisestablishmentarianistically call upon the sum of all fractions to conjure certain non-existing living beings into a solid worldview of realistic realities. How about you?

        • You don’t buy that people have building blocks with which they try to understand reality?

        • Pofarmer
        • Tommy

          Yes. They’re called LEGOs.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Thank you, I was hungry and that world salad just hit the spot. Yummy.

        • Rudy R

          His point is to see his own words in the combox.

        • Kevin K

          The point is for you to click on the little downward triangle, highlight the “Block User” and then click “OK”.

          Nothing he says is remotely honest, or interesting.

          I blocked him a while ago, and am completely and utterly content with not seeing whatever he vomits up.

        • Joe

          We will never know.

      • Phil Rimmer

        The problem is that ‘Reason’ is an adaptation from ‘God’ and doesn’t exist if God doesn’t exist.

        Luke, I’m sure you believe this, but why on earth should I?

        You do understand that things act and are acted upon out of their own nature? That the “Laws of Nature” are an adaption from Man derived from the application of Reason and the innate properties of mathematics that under-girds them both? (These “Laws” are a reasoned commentary upon natural behaviours not a motor for them.) That the Laws of Nature have no super-empirical hypothesis needed for the completeness of their account? That God, has no place, therefore, among them? Yet Reason, you claim, is his bitch. Nah. God was one of Reason’s bitches, the runt of the litter, the others grew up to be strong, healthy, predictive “Laws of Nature”..

        From whence is there further ‘leading’, on naturalism?

        Ah! No one taught you about meaning and how to find it!

        Expect less to find more, perhaps?

        • Luke, I’m sure you believe this, but why on earth should I?

          Logic:

          LB: I think that one of the biggest problems the naturalist faces is this that on that model of reality:

               (1) Physical laws are the only causal powers.
               (2) All beliefs are caused by physical laws.
               (3) Some beliefs are true, others false.
               (4) Physical laws cannot distinguish true from false beliefs.
               (5) Therefore, truth and falsity of belief is unknowable.

          Note that this applies to a class of models of reality, but one I find extremely prominent among atheists on the internet. Indeed, I have not found a single one who holds to an incompatible model, and I’ve exposed at least a dozen to this argument so far. And of course I’ve probed the metaphysics of hundreds.

          PR: I would rather my “will” led me to the right answer rather than an independent answer.

          LB: … Evolution is not teleological; it merely selects for organisms which are better adapted to the environment—to what is ultimately appearance. From whence is there further ‘leading’, on naturalism?

          PR: [1] Ah! No one taught you about meaning and how to find it!

          [2] Expect less to find more, perhaps?

          [1] I tried to extract scientific meaning from this and failed.

          [2] Do you mean to promote reductionism?

        • Phil Rimmer

          Note that this applies to a class of models of reality, but one I find extremely prominent among atheists on the internet.

          So you didn’t notice that that is explicitly not my model? Or you did notice but went on to strawman any way? Don’t let me down now, Luke. I’ve argued for the non-dishonesty (sic) of some Christian apologists with your name still fresh on my fingertips…

          Laws as causal actors is wrong and fatuous. It is used mostly by the religious and lazy scientists and science journalists.

          Illusion is reliably the result of false expectation as Richard Gregory suggested and later illustrated in “Eye and Brain” and The Intelligent Eye.” Now I may have misread your dissatisfaction, but your use of “appearance” implying a vacuity and an (urgent?) need to be led on to a satisfying why-of-an-answer, and to be supplied by science of all things, seems to confirm my fears for you. I suspect, for you,-

          meaning is expected to be given. It is expected to be the answer to a why question. And it is believed to donate personal value. And your own natural emptiness until this is done is also expected.

          Your expectations, I propose, are planks in your eye.

          Meaning is what we create/discover for ourselves in my experience. It is contingent, personal and manifold. Maybe my expectations are my undoing, maybe my life spent half in the arts, richly rewarded, dissipates some spiritual…er…fulfillment. But more than ever I feel the luckier to be increasingly an author of myself and my acts, a petty little god able to shame the best of the fantasy sky daddies.

        • So you didn’t notice that that is explicitly not my model?

          It’s not clear how your “strong, healthy, predictive “Laws of Nature”” is obviously not my model. Given that it seems to function as a summary to your “things act and are acted upon out of their own nature”, I don’t see how I have erred. And so, I cannot yet see how your model deviates from the class of models my argument targets. Perhaps your understanding allows for causation that is not nomological? (See my excerpt of Gregory W. Dawes’ Theism and Explanation.)

          Or you did notice but went on to strawman any way? Don’t let me down now, Luke. I’ve argued for the non-dishonesty (sic) of some Christian apologists with your name still fresh on my fingertips…

          Seriously?

          Laws as causal actors is wrong and fatuous. It is used mostly by the religious and lazy scientists and science journalists.

          That is irrelevant, if the structure of causation is accurately captured by scientific laws (≠ Laws of Nature). That appears to be precisely what you’ve stated with your “strong, healthy, predictive “Laws of Nature””. Unless you believe there to be additional structure which the “Laws of Nature” do not capture? That could make for an interesting discussion.

          Now I may have misread your dissatisfaction, but your use of “appearance” implying a vacuity and an (urgent?) need to be led on to a satisfying why-of-an-answer, and to be supplied by science of all things, seems to confirm my fears for you.

          You misread.

          I suspect, for you, meaning is expected to be given.

          Your suspicion is wrong.

          Meaning is what we create/discover for ourselves in my experience.

          Do you believe that even a single, non-random causal chain originates within you, @philrimmer:disqus? If so, do you know of any science whatsoever which supports such a thing?

          … the best of the fantasy sky daddies.

          In my experience, it is atheists who want a sky daddy, not I. This is not a fantasy sky daddy:

          Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

          “Dress for action like a man;
              I will question you, and you make it known to me.
          Will you even put me in the wrong?
              Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
          Have you an arm like God,
              and can you thunder with a voice like his?

          “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
              clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
          Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
              and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
          Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
              and tread down the wicked where they stand.
          Hide them all in the dust together;
              bind their faces in the world below.
          Then will I also acknowledge to you
              that your own right hand can save you.
          (Job 40:6–14)

          This expects nothing short of theosis.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Unless you believe there to be additional structure which the “Laws of Nature” do not capture?

          Not being omniscient, I can’t know. My laws must necessarily remain “…as if there were a Force X…”

          So your explanation of Reason (to me, an imperfect process posited on the seeming perfectability of maths) remains mysterious. Popper upgrading Wittgenstein’s downer on metaphysical certainty (metaphysical objects though existentially un-provable per W, may yet find a near correlate in a testable reality) has it for me. Reason may synthesise new concepts and deliver them to science’s door, where observation and modeling (mathematics) may be brought to bear with higher confidence. Reason alone can never suffice and science creates greatest certainty by disproof.

          Seriously?

          Er..no. I’m not good at this stuff…banter. It needed a wink, I guess, but the actual possible implications of smileys still confounds me.

          You misread.

          I need a better (another) account of the significance of “appearance”.

          This is not a fantasy sky daddy:
          Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

          “Dress for action like a man;
          I will question you, and you make it known to me.
          Will you even put me in the wrong?
          Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
          Have you an arm like God,
          and can you thunder with a voice like his?

          “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;

          Not given meaning? Its true you may be given purpose (and put in your place!) and remain obtuse or disagreeable to the task, but curiously that is not the way of believers…..

          Do you believe that even a single, non-random causal chain originates within you, Phil Rimmer? If so, do you know of any science whatsoever which supports such a thing?

          Possessing neither a soul nor an American passport I am not overburdened by the idea of being a sovereign individual. I share genes. I share culture. I share much personal history. I love, am mutual in many ways. I have no soul to save nor tax dollars to begrudge….so what on earth is the problem you are trying to convey here?

        • LB: Unless you believe there to be additional structure which the “Laws of Nature” do not capture?

          PR: Not being omniscient, I can’t know. My laws must necessarily remain “…as if there were a Force X…”

          I don’t see how that follows. Why must all causation be nomological?

          So your explanation of Reason (to me, an imperfect process posited on the seeming perfectability of maths) remains mysterious.

          I haven’t attempted to explain ‘Reason’; I’ve attempted to attack our ability to know it if we claim that all causation is nomological.

          LB: Evolution is not teleological; it merely selects for organisms which are better adapted to the environment—to what is ultimately appearance.

          PR: I need a better (another) account of the significance of “appearance”.

          First, what don’t you understand about the difference between “adapted to the environment” and something like “connected to what is true”? The environment can shift under your feet; the truth cannot.

          Second, it would help for you to indicate whether you can comprehend any of pp410–411 of Bernard d’Espagnat’s On Physics and Philosophy. That is the summary of an attempt to update philosophy with what we know from quantum physics, but it is quite dense.

          Not given meaning? Its true you may think you are given purpose (and put in your place!) and remain unhappy with or disagreeable over the task, but curiously that is generally not the way of believers…..

          I don’t think you understand; I see Job 40:6–14 as a goal for Christians, as something completely in-line with theosis. There is no room for permanent social stations in this scheme. In this scheme, God has infinite amounts of grace to pour into each one of us to make us more than we were before.

          PR: Meaning is what we create/discover for ourselves in my experience.

          LB: Do you believe that even a single, non-random causal chain originates within you, @philrimmer:disqus? If so, do you know of any science whatsoever which supports such a thing?

          PR: Possessing neither a soul nor an American passport I am not overburdened by the idea of being a sovereign individual.

          Do you or do you not create a single thing? If zero non-random causal chains originate within you, then what on earth does it mean for you to create meaning?

        • Phil Rimmer

          Why must all causation be nomological?

          I am not arguing any such thing. I can’t know that with absolute certainty and I put “Laws of Nature” in scare quotes whenever things turn philosophical. “Laws of Nature” are a construct of human reason and substitute for some earlier imagined theistic principle that allegedly ordered the universe. They’ve done an exemplary job so far when reflected in the Scientific Principles that seek to enumerate, identify and characterise them. These new Principles have (so far) always demonstrated that the old Principle (Theo) was, at least, no longer necessary for a sufficient account (of GapA , B etc.)

          Now though a construct of reason and tested using science, I don’t presume these metaphysical objects, “Laws of Nature” are either necessary or, indeed, necessitate anything. I talk of things “acting out of their own nature” and I trade in Scientific Principles which seemingly makes this all tractable (and indeed with the better ones, richly predictive). I’m not convinced it is correct to say that entity A and entity B interact through the necessitation of principles C and D. My GUTs suggest otherwise.

          And don’t get me started about causation! Feynman diagrams started the rot there.

          I did physics at university. We had an excellent Swiss guy for Quantum Mechanics. I’m not going to read a bunch more stuff on it without reason, so why don’t you crack on and say what you need. Then I’ll go look if needed,

          Do you or do you not create a single thing?

          “Create” is this weeks problem concept. The start of this universe may just be a reconfiguration of extant properties. I create lots. I mostly invent tech. Inventors are not the solitary genii often painted. Some 150 individuals had some form of telephone or telephone concept on the go when Bell was nicking patent ideas. Radio too had a plethora of folk from Hertz to carnival show men. Invention happens in a sea of similar ideas. Memes (well ideas at least) have lives of their own to live and like genes evolving respond to pressures, demands, problems that need solving. These problems are common enough. Lesser memes are assembled in idle subconsciousnesses of very many, mutate and are then tested for merit, shared added to and subtracted from.

          Properly it is rich cultures that are generative not individual minds. This is why creativity accelerates as cultures develop.

          Creativity cannot be bidden. Even at the age of twelve I would say, “How do I know what I think until I hear what I say?”

        • LB: Unless you believe there to be additional structure which the “Laws of Nature” do not capture?

          PR: Not being omniscient, I can’t know. My laws must necessarily remain “…as if there were a Force X…”

          LB: I don’t see how that follows. Why must all causation be nomological?

          PR: I am not arguing any such thing. I can’t know that with absolute certainty and I put “Laws of Nature” in scare quotes whenever things turn philosophical.

          Then I don’t understand your use of “must necessarily remain”. Are you saying that while reality might be different, your model of it must be nomological?

          I did physics at university. We had an excellent Swiss guy for Quantum Mechanics. I’m not going to read a bunch more stuff on it without reason, so why don’t you crack on and say what you need. Then I’ll go look if needed,

          That deals with my “Second”, but not my “First”.

          I create lots.

          If in fact no chain of causation originates in you, then “I create lots” is technically incorrect, but perhaps a convenient way of speaking. Sort of like teleonomy. Let’s recall that this tangent started here:

          PR: Ah! No one taught you about meaning and how to find it!

          LB: I tried to extract scientific meaning from this and failed.

          PR: Meaning is what we create/discover for ourselves in my experience.

          You seem to think there is something important I don’t understand. When I push toward a rigorous account of what it is I’m missing out on, you go vague. Isn’t that the strategy apologists are supposed to practice?

        • Phil Rimmer

          Are you saying that while reality might be different, your model of it must be nomological?

          No. It is “as if” that is a necessary addition. I cannot know that all causation is nomological. For instance, there are events that appear lawful in general, but at the minutest inspection seem acausal, nuclear decay … Generally the appearance of phenomena in our space time from a quantum reality substrate is a consistent challenge to our ideas of causality.

          “First” explain this

          Evolution is not teleological; it merely selects for organisms which are better adapted to the environment—to what is ultimately appearance. From whence is there further ‘leading’, on naturalism?

          …again. Maybe you can more direct your answer knowing my position on other matters?

          This may be an aside but it may help with how I think of things.

          “Meaning” is never a term I use with “scientific”. It is personal. Meaning is what stops why questions, and the possession of which may or may not stop how questions. Explanations come with two ingredients understanding and mastery. We may construct (and master) models of reality that are perfectly predictive of it, wherever we look, but the sense of understanding my yet elude us. Understanding is often got by metaphorical thinking, perfectly elastic billiard balls, in a box, the precession of a spinning plate. It is a “satisfaction of knowing in some sense” that ultimately allows us to set it aside and move on. The quantum world increasingly eludes us as our middling scale in the universe gives us a limited set of metaphorical understandings. But here’s the thing. This satisfaction of understanding is sometimes simply and finally got through familiarity.

          “I create lots”, given my caveat that nothing is created, merely transmuted or re-organised, is obviously a convenience. Lots was created (was manifested) in me. It took me to finally synthesise it.

          If you can answer my question above then maybe we can clear up what is a possible misapprehension of mine in

          From whence is there further ‘leading’, on naturalism?

          Ah! No one taught you about meaning and how to find it!

        • I cannot know that all causation is nomological.

          Ok. Can you know that the causation involved in you coming to know what beliefs are true vs. false is not nomological? Because that’s the specific causation my argument targeted. All other causation is kind of irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion.

          “First” explain this

          LB: Evolution is not teleological; it merely selects for organisms which are better adapted to the environment—to what is ultimately appearance. From whence is there further ‘leading’, on naturalism?

          …again. Maybe you can more direct your answer knowing my position on other matters?

          I attempted once and you ignored it:

          LB: First, what don’t you understand about the difference between “adapted to the environment” and something like “connected to what is true”? The environment can shift under your feet; the truth cannot.

          I’m not going to attempt again until you somehow deal with that.

          “Meaning” is never a term I use with “scientific”. It is personal. Meaning is what stops why questions, and the possession of which may or may not stop how questions.

          Ok, but scientifically, aren’t “why questions” in some sense about nothing? After all, science deals with only “how questions”. On this schema, “Why is the sky blue?” is really “How is the sky blue?” Are you saying there is some extant realm which science cannot possibly touch?

          “I create lots”, given my caveat that nothing is created, merely transmuted or re-organised, is obviously a convenience. Lots was created (was manifested) in me. It took me to finally synthesise it.

          Again, I don’t know what this really means if no chain of [non-random] causation originated in you. Synthesis is generally seen as an active operation, not a passive one.

          erm…lol?

          Again, you seem to think I am making some error. For example, that I take meaning to be [pre-]given, while you say you can create it. And yet when I press on this, we find that you cannot create anything. At best you are a conduit. But is not that precisely your criticism of religious folk who expect meaning to be given, who expect to be mere conduits?

        • Phil Rimmer

          In reverse order.

          At best you are a conduit.

          That fails twice. As I described, I’m piping stuff in from many different sources. I’m a confluence of conduits. More to the point I’m also outputting to all of those. I’m rather more a bi-directional nexus of influenced and influencing. My mix is unique, in and out, yet as sibling peers I have mutuality and the shared adventure of what we craft together. This is Ours not His.

          We can talk a lot about this if you want. Why I am yet happy to have ownership of my actions including the shaming ones. Why I strive for some internal integrity. Why I am powerfully relieved we don’t have that free will as conceived by the religious and the libertarian that is irrational and would be indistinguishable from maximum entropy…the end. Why brains sit on the edge of chaos. How all evolutions, genetic, memetic and neural/inferential depends on a sufficient anarchy. How its fatal creativity is reined in to a contingent sweet spot depending on environment and the need to adapt….

          Determinism, sitting in a sufficient energy flux, and with enough elements in play, drives entropy down and is….well…generative.

          Must stop have to get up early. I’ll come back and deal with the substance of your post.tomorrow.

          Oh,oh. “Inventing the Individual” Larry Siedentop. You may love it.

        • LB: Again, you seem to think I am making some error. For example, that I take meaning to be [pre-]given, while you say you can create it. And yet when I press on this, we find that you cannot create anything. At best you are a conduit.

          PR: That fails twice. As I described, I’m piping stuff in from many different sources. I’m a confluence of conduits. More to the point I’m also outputting to all of those. I’m rather more a bi-directional nexus of influenced and influencing.

          I was going to say ‘nexus’ instead of ‘conduit’, but then I thought about the term ‘command nexus’, which is the place from which commands are issued. There is a strong connotation of causal chains originating from a nexus. There can be conduits within conduits, so I don’t see how I have failed at all, unless you believe that [non-random] causal chains can originate within @philrimmer:disqus. Do you?

          Why I am yet happy to have ownership of my actions including the shaming ones.

          I’m not against taking ownership; indeed this was one of the huge mistakes of Adam & Eve. But I am curious about what kind of ownership your metaphysic can allow you to take.

          Oh,oh. “Inventing the Individual” Larry Siedentop. You may love it.

          Thanks; it does look interesting!

      • Herald Newman

        The problem is that ‘Reason’ is an adaptation from ‘God’ and doesn’t exist if God doesn’t exist.

        This is nothing more than an assertion with absolutely no evidence to support it. “Reason” is an adaptation that allows to survive better in groups. We’re a social species who can’t really survive without the help of others. All of our cognitive faculties can be explained through the lens of evolution.

        Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

        From the article:

        Stripped of a lot of what might be called cognitive-science-ese, Mercierand Sperber’s argument runs, more or less, as follows: Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to cooperate. Cooperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain. For any
        individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even
        to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed
        to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.

        Further, to your point about God giving us reason:

        If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias.

        • Michael Neville

          The problem is that ‘Reason’ is an adaptation from ‘God’ and doesn’t exist if God doesn’t exist.

          Our boy Luke is using presuppositionalist arguments?

          Presuppositionalism has little respect even among conservative Christians. Apologist William Lane Craig said: “As commonly understood, presuppositionalism is guilty of a logical howler: it commits the informal fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question.” The argument is only convincing to believers. Most non-believers see the fallacy immediately.

        • LB: The problem is that ‘Reason’ is an adaptation from ‘God’ and doesn’t exist if God doesn’t exist.

          HN: This is nothing more than an assertion with absolutely no evidence to support it. “Reason” is an adaptation that allows to survive better in groups.

          That is not what the Enlightenment philosophes meant by ‘Reason’ (capitalization intentional). Shall we dig into Henry Steele Commager’s The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment and the like? You could also do a quick search on “Goddess of Reason”.

          All of our cognitive faculties can be explained through the lens of evolution.

          Is this a falsifiable statement? If so, would you please show me where scientists have attempted to ingeniously falsify it? Apparently they failed, giving us reason to believe it. Or maybe you cannot point to any such attempts, and are uttering dogma and not science.

          Further, to your point about God giving us reason:

          If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias.

          I didn’t say that God gave us reason; I said that “‘Reason’ is an adaptation from ‘God'”. We can revisit my argument which ends with “(5) Therefore, truth and falsity of belief is unknowable.” if you’d like. On any metaphysics of causation which seems to have traction among naturalists these days, that seems to be the inevitable conclusion.

          As to Mercier & Sperber 2011, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask for a model of how a finite being can understand the world which won’t have a failure mode of confirmation bias. As a start, you could consult Grossberg 1999, which provides a possible mechanism for the Attention Schema Theory described in the Atlantic article A New Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved. I’ve never really taken a deep dive into confirmation bias; I’d be happy to do that if you are up for it. What I’m going to be interested in are the outliers to various scientific studies. Why? Because the West is pretty screwed up these days when it comes to reasoning based on the evidence (see the surprise at Brexit and Trump), so I expect sound reasoning to be an outlier. Unless your understanding of confirmation bias has fallen prey to confirmation bias?

  • Phil Rimmer

    I have suggested elsewhere that consciousness is a mark of those subconsciously triaged sub-conscious perceptions that are judged the most likely to be salient. In the Cartesian Theatre of the mind these potentially salient perceptions are paraded and subject to more rigorous cultural testing using language and logic, maths and myths. Those passing this much more energy intensive, PFC, saliency testing then get to start the transition from short term chemical potentiation to more robust memorialised wiring.

    We scour for saliency with such intensity and with such odd distinction in this final pase of conscious interrogation because we are modelers of the future. We have models of others, specific and in archetype, We simulate outcomes of looming encounters say and need fast process times to predict the potentials for disaster of success and alter our plans accordingly …Is he going to hit me.

    Missing from all of this is the crucial model of ourselves. What will we do in this new encounter? We need to know if we are fit and healthy. How needy at the moment, horny or hungry, how skilled, how scarey, how determined and confident we feel. We have a super abundance of information about ourselves (unlike others) but to run a fast simulation with all of it is a problem. Simulations slow disproportionately with each added new factor, it needing checking against every other factor. To get the best results in the shortest time we need a simple model of ourselves but one that is up to the minute, no, up to the second. The top five pertinent elements, say, in the situation are needed. So we ask our selves, in effect, “who are we now?”, knowing the answers will change contingently, This scanning of experience (interior as well) and our response to it is endless and more wildly present in us than any other mental process and perhaps confers that unique quality to it.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Humans are a kludge of neural apparatus stretching back 450million years and more. An amygdala could parse a few inputs and decide friend or foe in a quick if crudish sort of way, The much later Anterior Cingulate Cortex overlaid this with a just-in-time counter to the bite-it-and-run response the antique Amygdala detector sub-consciously proposes. This creates the first real trace of a possible social mutuality.

    In humans we have the super broadband neurons of Spindle Cells, fat and fast, (and used in huge whale brains to reduce signalling time) Used in humans, these speed high quality but slowly got inferences from the Pre-Frontal Cortex into the error detector of the ACC. Biting mother in law is going to prove costly the PFC eventually says. The Amygdala said she needs biting and got the muscles going pretty quickly, though they themselves move slower than thought. Bit of a snarl there, but just caught it in time…..Think we got away with it.

    As we get older or drunker and neurally slower this just in time censor may start to let us down…

  • Jim Jones

    > Or take the human brain. Our brains have roughly 100 billion (that’s 1011) neurons.

    Megaphragma mymaripenne is a microscopically sized wasp. At 200 μm in length, it is the third smallest extant insect, comparable in size to single celled organisms. It has a highly reduced nervous system, containing only 7400 neurons, several orders of magnitude fewer than in larger insects. This is the smallest known number of neurons in all insects and in all flying animals. Its average lifespan at adulthood is 5 days.

    Uniquely, by the time M. mymaripenne reaches adulthood 95 per cent of its nervous cells have lost their nuclei. There are only 339–372 nuclei throughout the central nervous system, of which 179–253 are found in the brain.

    Despite their reduced nervous system, adult wasps retain the ability to fly, to feed, and to locate hosts for them to lay their eggs in. The wasp eggs are deposited in the eggs of thrips. To emerge, the wasps cut an 80-90 μm near-circular hole in the eggs.

    So what are the rest of the human neurons doing? Finding Burger Kings?

    • Greg G.

      Arguing with theists.

      • Jim Jones

        Theists: Just slightly smarter than M. mymaripenne?

        • Greg G.

          Not all of them.

      • Joe

        I think that’s why the wasp loses so many neurons.

    • Maoh

      Yes, actually. Do you see any of your wasps making international corporate franchises?

      • Jim Jones

        No, but then I’ve never seen them destroy a corporation like Radio Shack either.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      You appear to be quoting material from Wikipedia without attribution. This is 1) rude 2) a crime. You should provide a reference or at least a link.

    • Cozmo the Magician

      Watching porn? Voting republican? /snark

  • GubbaBumpkin
  • 5. How Did Human Consciousness Come Into Being?

    “[As evolution proceeds, naturalists must] imagine that spatially-arranged matter somehow organized itself to produce non-spatial, immaterial mental states. Naturalism has no reasonable explanation for how this might come to pass.”

    Ah, but it does: emergent properties.

    God Emergence works in mysterious ways, eh?

    For every instance that we know of, a mind is supported by a physical brain.

    Sure, with a definition of ‘physical’ which is not locked down. Either you give a precise description which will be overturned just like QM overturned Newtonian mechanics, or you give a vague description which hardly rules out anything. This game gets boring.

    The strategy is simple: if the universe is infinitely complex and you finitely complex, then you can only approximate it. The most simple explanation for any finite set of data points is finite. If you discover new structure in reality (perhaps required to understand consciousness), it will be subsumed by ‘physical’. As long as progress past approximations is slow enough, this strategy works and Max Planck’s observation can hold:

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. (Max Planck)

    So, one way a Christian could point people to God is via rapid enough approximation-shattering, such that the more rational people start looking to the limit-value. But there’s a huge problem which Bertrand Russell observed: humans tend to use scientific advances to dominate and oppress other humans and the rest of creation. What to do?

    • eric

      If you discover new structure in reality (perhaps required to understand consciousness), it will be subsumed by ‘physical’.

      Ah yes, the old “if you discovered the supernatural, you’d just call in natural, so there is no way for us to win” defense. IMO I find it utterly unconvincing, because it mistakes the label given to evidence for the evidence.

      Imagine a future in which science confirms faith healing, confirms OBEs, confirms ghosts, confirms prayer can resurrect people and let them walk on water, etc. Those discoveries would lend support to theism – and depending on how the prayer stuff worked, could even lend support to one specific religion over others. It wouldn’t matter how scientists and philosophers pigeonholed them: theistic claims that these phenomena are real would still have gained empirical support while “naturalist” claims that they are mere stories would have been undermined. If you can throw down a stick and have it turn into a snake, then suddenly the story of Moses doing it gets a lot more credible, and it gains credibility regardless of whether I refer to it as divine miracle or quantum transmutation. Because if you can do it, then he could’ve too.

      Your side’s problem, Luke, is not what we call these phenomena. Its that there is no evidence they exist.

      • LB: If you discover new structure in reality (perhaps required to understand consciousness), it will be subsumed by ‘physical’.

        e: Ah yes, the old “if you discovered the supernatural, you’d just call in natural, so there is no way for us to win” defense.

        I’d rather not use the word ‘supernatural’, because it appears to have a wider semantic domain than I believe Christianity requires. For more, see Christian Naturalism and Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles.

        IMO I find it utterly unconvincing, because it mistakes the label given to evidence for the evidence.

        What label(s) am I mistaking for being evidence?

        My own motivation actually flows from mathematical biologist Robert Rosen’s Life Itself. He criticizes the trend to try to understand everything in terms of ODEs and PDEs. He argues there are more kinds of structure in reality than those formalisms permit; he argues that life itself cannot be defined without more kinds of structure.

        For further motivation in the realm of consciousness, one can consult Colin McGinn’s The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World. He is a new mysterian, along with folks like Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, and Noam Chomsky. He suspects that the mind is material, and yet we will never be able to understand how it works (see also cognitive closure (philosophy)).

        If you can throw down a stick and have it turn into a snake, then suddenly the story of Moses doing it gets a lot more credible, and it gains credibility regardless of whether I refer to it as divine miracle or quantum transmutation. Because if you can do it, then he could’ve too.

        You appear to have reduced personal causation (agent causation) to impersonal causation. (See this excerpt from Gregory W. Dawes’ Theism and Explanation, noting the usage of ‘nomological’.) It is not clear to me that any empirical evidence can distinguish between these two stances; it rather seems that this is a purely philosophical position.

      • Kevin K

        The definition of supernatural as being a demonstration of the violation of the laws of physics, is, I would argue, sufficient to separate it from any natural phenomenon.

        Were we to find ghosts (which are impossible because their existence would violate the laws of thermodynamics), we’d have no other choice but to accept the existence of the supernatural.

        Ghosts, fairies, demons, angels, gods, devils…all cut from the same cloth. The finest weave. Completely imaginary.

        • Herald Newman

          I’m really curious how you would actually determine that a violation of [current] physical laws is because of something non-natural, versus something natural that we don’t understand?

          Laws are, essentially, our generalizations about how reality behaves. They don’t prescribe behavior, they describe, meaning that if we start observing something different, our laws will change to reflect that.

          As an example, suppose that tomorrow we observed a type of particle that moves at twice the speed of light. Should we conclude that it’s supernatural, or that our understanding of reality needs to be adjusted to accommodate the new observations?

        • Kevin K

          Tachyons are proposed as being faster-than-light. Einstein thought that, if they were found, they could be used to send messages back in time. They haven’t been found, though, so are just theoretical.

          So, no, we wouldn’t have to rewrite our physics texts for that one.

          Michio Kaku has written about the physics of the impossible and his “Class III” impossibilities precognition and perpetual motion machines. If discovered, they would completely rewrite physics as we know it.

          Ghosts, demons, angels, gods, and devils are a form of perpetual motion machine. So, it would either be back to the physics drawing board (hard to do since what we do know is damned useful right now), or it would be a demonstration of something beyond physics … beyond the “natural” world.

          That’s why all of those ghost hunter shows on TV are so laughably inane. I saw one trailer where the guy (wandering around in the dark in some old building) had a moth or something brush him and he scratched himself on the neck in terror. And THAT was supposed to be evidence of a ghost. He scratched himself.

          True prophecy (not the phony baloney stuff that we’ve been subjected to for 3000+ years) would also qualify. It would also get you $1 million from James Randi — I think, unless he’s withdrawn the challenge.

        • Herald Newman

          Ghosts, demons, angels, gods, and devils are a form of perpetual motion machine.

          I’ll generally agree with you, although I’m still not sure how anybody could actually verify that the entity really is a PMM, and not just disguising its energy source very carefully. After all, what’s more likely: That some entity has a way to get around the apparent physical limits of our reality, or that we’re being deceived?

        • Greg G.

          I’ll generally agree with you, although I’m still not sure how anybody could actually verify that the entity really is a PMM,

          Tell me about it. I invented an elixir of immortality but the FDA testing is going to take forever.

        • Kevin K

          Jim Bakker will sell it for you on his channel, if you re-brand it as an all-natural supplement that “supports” immortality.

        • busterggi

          At least yours got to the testing stage.

          I invented a universal solvent years ago but every time I make up a batch it dissolves itself.

        • Greg G.

          You should sell it as two components that are mixed when needed, like with epoxy or bombardier beetles.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i regret that i have only one upvote to give.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          No kidding. Two words spring to mind ‘Cold Fusion’

        • Greg G.

          You have to watch out for vampire moths possessed by ghosts.

          The Randi Foundation did withdraw the award with nobody ever claiming it.

        • Kevin K

          I thought they might have done so, but was too lazy to look it up. Thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Terry Pratchett had an inventor who pointed out that there was something faster than tachyons. That would be monarchy. When a king or queen dies, the next in line immediately becomes the replacement. The inventor reasoned that if you could torture a monarch at the point of death, you could modulate an instantaneous signal.

        • Kevin K

          If you shot a monarch into deep space and then opened the hatch, it would be action at a distance.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Leonardo of Quirm? I’ve read and re-read the entire discworld series several times and don’t remember that. Citation pretty please.

        • Greg G.

          http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/66881-the-only-thing-known-to-go-faster-than-ordinary-light

          monarchy, according to the philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle. He reasoned like this: you can’t have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to the heir instantaneously. Presumably, he said, there must be some elementary particles — kingons, or possibly queons — that do this job, but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the bar closed.
          Terry Pratchett, Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1)

          Some may have gone a little too far:

          https://h2g2.com/entry/A513695

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Thank you (: Time to re-read me some Sir Pterry

        • Greg G.

          Sometimes you can miss something funny because you are still laughing at the previous page.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s pTerry.

          /pedant

        • Matt Cavanaugh

          Exactly. Every observed phenomenon requires an explanation, ghosts, angels and souls included. If one of these were actually truly observed, its properties could be known, and the laws of physics suitably adjusted to encompass them.

          Believers aren’t interested in that process. They just accept it as either a mystery, or as beyond Physics, like the crook who’s raced across the county line to escape the imposition of the sheriff’s law.

        • Kevin K

          I think an observed ghost, angel, soul, etc., would pose a huge problem for the laws of physics. You would have to create an entirely new physics to account for such things. Separate and apart from the physics we’re familiar with which says such things are not possible. That separate physics could rightly be called the physics of the supernatural.

          And I’d be more than willing to grant such a thing, were it to be demonstrated. As a non-believing skeptic, if something is demonstrated to the satisfaction of a disinterested (or hostile) third party, I’d be pretty foolish to stick to my previous viewpoints. It would be like not accepting plate tectonics.

          After all, I’ve said all along that I would believe in whatever deity is being proposed, if evidence of its existence could be demonstrated. And if all religions everywhere subsequently agreed upon the status of the components of the bacon cheeseburger…and the wearing of hats. What is it with all the different hats?

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Bacon Cheeseburger as religion. Works for me. Now we just need to agree on medium-rare or well done (; Oh and which kind of lettuce. And what about the fact that i HATE mustard. Some people think a burger MUST have mustard. And, you never did mention which type of cheese? Cheddar? Swiss? So called ‘american white’. I like provolone. Would that make me a heretic? I think we would see just as many problems with the bacon cheeseburger as any other religion. Just look at all the various Pastafarian sects that have already popped up (;

    • catfink

      Emergence works in mysterious ways, eh?

      Yes, the means by which consciousness arises from physical processes is a mystery.

      Sure, with a definition of ‘physical’ which is not locked down.

      No, it means matter. Atoms and molecules. Minds arise from brains, and brains are made of matter. As far as we’re aware, there’s no other way of producing a mind.

      So, one way a Christian could point people to God is via rapid enough approximation-shattering, such that the more rational people start looking to the limit-value.

      Incomprehensible word salad, like so much of what you write.

  • 7. Why Are Humans So Contradictory in Nature?

    Humans can be altruistic and compassionate, but we can also be hateful and murderous. “Philosophical Naturalism struggles to explain how creatures capable of genocide and cruelty are also capable of compassion and sacrificial generosity.”

    What’s puzzling? Humans have a large palette of personality traits and drives. They came from evolution, and we’re stuck with them, though we can try to adapt to modern Western norms.

    Modern Western norms … such as the following:

    Schäuble came under criticism for his actions during the “Grexit” crisis of 2015: it was suggested by Yanis Varoufakis that Schäuble had intended to force Greece out of the Euro even before the election of the left-wing Syriza government in Greece.[77] This was confirmed by former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in early 2014; calling Schäuble’s plan “frightening,” Geithner recorded that Schäuble believed a Greek exit from the Eurozone would scare other countries in to line.[78] Schäuble also received extensive criticism toward his austerity recommendations from Twitter via the hashtag #ThisIsACoup.[79] Such criticism focused on the fact that Schäuble’s insistence on policies of austerity was contradicted both by the empirical evidence that the policies he had insisted on had shrunk the Greek economy by 25%, a degree hitherto paralleled only in wartime, but also by reports from the IMF insisting that only massive debt relief, not further austerity, could be effective.[80][81] (WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism)

    ? Discipline and Punish can be practiced in a variety of ways; people don’t have to die [too much]. You and I are good people though, right? Even if we do stuff like employ slaves via globalization? After all, truly achieving those modern Western norms is impossible—but making pretend about them makes it easier to sleep at night!

    • catfink

      Yes, modern Western norms are imperfect and we haven’t fully adapted to them. So what? That doesn’t invalidate Bob’s point that science shows us that there is nothing surprising about the fact that human nature is a complex mix of altruism and selfishness.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Human intelligence is forbidden to the pious. They have to stay sheep-like so that the wolf in the pulpit can maintain an income.

  • Lark62

    “Why Are Humans So Contradictory in Nature?”

    Who says we are?

    Nearly every human characteristic is on a continuum and can be bad, good or neutral.

    Group loyalty is good, right?. Supporting your employer is healthy. Patriotism is natural. Rooting for the local sportsteam is fun. But the same human characteristic leads to brutal beatings of fans from rival teams.

  • Jefferson Schaeffer

    “6. Where does free will come from?”

    As much as modern Evangelicals like to cite free will every chance they get, from where I sit it seems like much more of a problem for their side of the argument than the atheist’s. If the universe is actively, consciously ruled, by an infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing being that created everything, is aware of everything at all times, and is present in all places simultaneously sustaining everything, then how is free will even remotely possible?

    • Kevin K

      The tricky thing when discussing “free will” with a theist is that their definition is likely to be far different from yours.

      Initially, theistic free will was invented to explain why the naked mentally challenged mud man and rib woman in the terrarium garden could disobey a direct order from their maker. Some theists will even declare that the act of eating the IQ-raising sin-fruit bestowed free will upon the mud man and rib woman (but clearly not, because otherwise they couldn’t have disobeyed).

      • Greg G.

        The tricky thing when discussing “free will” with a theist is that their definition is likely to be far different from yours.

        I have found that the definition of “free will” is modified to save it in many circles.

        • busterggi

          Free will is the ability of pathetic ignorant powerless humans to completely go against the will of the omnipotent ruler of the universe’s preordained plans.

        • Kevin K

          I guess I’m supposed to be a “compatabilist”, whatever that means. I don’t think the laws of physics were set in motion 14.7 billion years ago so that I would be predestined to order the fish instead of the chicken last Thursday.

        • Greg G.

          You ordering fish was predestined to keep that fish’s offspring from evolving into a land shark.

        • Kevin K

          Well then, thank goodness I ordered the fish!

        • Matt Cavanaugh

          I still reflexively eat fish on Fridays. Where’s the free will in that?

        • Kevin K

          Have a salmon BLT! That’ll show your will what’s free and what isn’t.

        • busterggi

          That’s what you’re supposed to think.

        • Kevin K

          Ha! Touche.

        • Anat

          I guess I’m an anti-compatibilist or something. I believe in neither determinism nor free will.

        • catfink

          I guess I’m an anti-compatibilist or something. I believe in neither determinism nor free will.

          So you think our behavior is just random? Or what?

        • Anat

          Things happen as a result of the sum of causes and randomness. Our decision-making process is no exception. If we reran the universe from the Big Bang we might get dramatically different outcomes from the same starting point due to the accumulation of random deviations. Yet causality remains intact.

        • Greg G.

          I’m a radical semi-compatibilist. I think everyone has free will except me. That means everybody else is responsible for their actions except me.

          http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/free-will

      • Just to point out, the theistic version of “free will” is not necessary to explain Eve’s actions. The Christian God created Adam, they bonded building & naming stuff together and then the god told Adam the prohibition concerning the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Later, when Adam became lonely, the god created an imperfect clone to be Adam’s companion (I’ve actually heard Eve described as such in order to explain around the problems presented by modern knowledge of genetics. But how could a perfect god create an imperfect creature? I digress..).

        Anyway, there is no proof in the Bible that Eve was ever told to avoid the tree as she was not even created when it was professed. At some point she took an apple from it, found Adam (he and God were probably drunk and making platypuses at that point, with their bizarre sex chromosomes) and gave it to him to taste or eat. All in all, Free Will does not enter into the story at all, as neither Adam nor Eve it would appear knew they were doing wrong by eating that specific apple.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Are you a lawyer by any chance? That was just beeeee-yooo-teee-full.

        • Thanks. Raised in the conservative Christian world, educated through college in their schools. I actually learned how to read their damn book & dissemble it looking for “truth” under the guidance of some truly amazing scholars. IMO 99% of what most American Christians “believe” is B.S. manufactured to garner their unequivocal buy-in via ego stokes & increase donations.

          I took the LSAT long ago and scored high enough – 99th %-ile nationwide – to get flattering letters, but I looked around & saw who my classmates were & what the job would look like. Nothing against them, just not my crowd or values. Also, too many lawyers in the extended family already. This was before there were any prominent LGBT equality lawyers that I knew of (ie before the Internet as we know it now) and before I figured myself out, or I might have made other plans…

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    In Climbing Mount Improbable, Dawkins introduces the neologism, designoid, for things that seem designed but are not, providing several illuminating examples. The subject is, of course, also the focus of his The Blind Watchmaker

  • mobathome

    @BobSeidensticker:disqus, the fourth question is why we see evidence of intelligence in the structure of biology, and not why we see biology itself as intelligent. (We don’t.) But whether or not some people thought the ELIZA program was intelligent or experienced emotions, most people correctly perceived that it was designed by an intelligent person, Joseph Weizenbaum. Then, it seems that either the first paragraph of your answer either misses the point of the question, or even worse, actually accepts its premise that there is intelligent design to be seen as there is in ELIZA, or I completely missed the point of the paragraph. If it is in fact this third option, would you please clarify it for me?

    By the way, you can experience ELIZA yourself by installing the Emacs text editor, and having it run its version of the program.

  • G.Shelley

    What does free will even mean?

    If it means people make decisions no related to their genetic make up, life experience and brain chemistry, what is supposed to be making the decision and on what basis?
    If it is some sort of soul, why isn’t it still affected by the same constraints as a purely physical mind?

  • KeithCollyer

    Minor correction, Gage’s accident was while building a railway, not mining

    • Greg G.

      Or is it a “miner” correction? Anyway, it went off the rails.

    • Thanks, fixed.

  • rtgmath

    Okay. Without any extension discussion of the fact that the author is unlearned in science and is content to be so (other than just enough to be argumentative), let me point out this uncomfortable fact.

    Nothing in the argument points to the Christian god as being the god who created everything. Nothing. If God is necessitated, the Christian God is almost certainly eliminated.

    Once we get past the question of “is God necessary,” we find that there is zero evidence that the God of the Bible is the Creator, especially since the facts in the world around us have nothing to do with the assertions in the Scriptures. Which leaves the poor religious believer even worse off than the atheist. At least scientists get their facts straight and understand the implications. Too bad the author does not.

    • I’m not sure what I’m missing. I agree with you that the Christian claims are without foundation.

      Which leaves the poor religious believer even worse off than the atheist.

      Why is the atheist in a bad situation? Aren’t atheists backing the right horse?

  • onlein

    Most atheists and many religious people don’t believe in the same god: the god of childhood. To set themselves apart from religious believers, atheist should not believe in the god of adults who have no problem with the explanative power of science. There may not be as much to argue about as we think. The problem comes from either or both sides making declarative statements like there is a god or there is no god. No big prob if one side says I believe in god and the other says I don’t believe in god. No big deal. Who cares what someone else thinks?

    • Greg G.

      like there is a god or there is no god

      Atheists usually say that there is insufficient evidence to believe in gods. All that is needed to prove the atheist wrong is to supply sufficient evidence.