# The Argument from Mathematics Doesn’t Add Up to God (2 of 2)

The Argument from Mathematics Doesn’t Add Up to God (2 of 2) January 19, 2019

A Christian apologist with a new argument is like a kid with a new toy. William Lane Craig is excited to show us the Argument from Mathematics (part 1 of the discussion here). He marvels at what he calls “the uncanny effectiveness of mathematics” in describing the world around us. Unsurprisingly, he’s quick to push forward his favorite deity as the explanation.

#### Limits on math

So how effective is math? It’s fundamental in physics, but it doesn’t do much for other fields like literature. Or art. Or history, geology, sociology, politics, human relations, or lots of other fields. Impressive attempts have been made to find mathematics to model human behavior—catastrophe theory, for example—with little success. Compared to the scope of human endeavors, math is actually quite limited.

Consider where math does its impressive work, the intersection of Math and the Physical World.

There’s a lot of the physical world that benefits little from math (on the left of this diagram), and there’s a lot of math that has little direct applicability to the real world (on the right). In addition, math in the real world isn’t always tidy and simple.

• The orbits of planets aren’t simple circles but rather ellipses.
• Fundamental particles are composed of three quarks, not one or two.
• The n-body problem has no simple solution.
• Chaos theory shows that some systems are deterministic but not predictable.
• NP-complete problems like the traveling salesman problem are computationally difficult.
• Important numbers like pi or e are transcendental (nonrepeating and nonterminating).
• Quantum mechanical events are describable only with statistics and may have no individual cause.
• There is no simple rule for enumerating primes.

Math gives neat, simple answers where it does, and it doesn’t where it doesn’t. Our awe at math’s effectiveness may be due to confirmation bias, in which we count the hits and ignore the misses. We marvel at the places where math provides a neat solution and ignore those where it doesn’t.

Another bump in the road to math’s “uncanny effectiveness” are Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, which argue that finding a complete and consistent set of axioms for all mathematics is impossible.

And consider whether God or reality calls the shots. Take just one primitive truth in our reality, 2 + 2 = 4. Could God have made it anything different? If so, we await the evidence. If not, what role is left for God if reality defines the fundamentals from which the rest of math follows? God is sidelined without much to do.

Craig’s antagonist in this discussion, Dr. Daniel Came, raised many of the points I’ve mentioned here. About math’s applicability, he said,

If you think of the number of possible questions that human beings can ask, the number that are actually tractable with science and mathematics is a vanishingly small percentage.

#### Craig’s weak explanation

Craig claims that “God did it” is an inference to the best explanation. He wants the teacher to declare that time is up because he has an answer. Problem is, it’s not much of an answer.

He doesn’t care that the consequences of his explanation are either untestable (such as the existence of an afterlife) or have been tested and failed (such as answered prayer).

He doesn’t care that his claim isn’t even falsifiable.

He doesn’t care that “God did it” raises more questions than it answers—questions about who or what God is, his motivations, how and why he created the universe, and so on. “God did it” is no explanation at all.

He doesn’t care that whenever science has found an explanation, it’s always natural. Science has accepted zero supernatural explanations.

He doesn’t care that, when you look around at God’s project with its natural disasters, parasites, childhood illnesses, and so on, it looks more like an experiment of the kid who burned ants with a magnifying glass, inexplicably given omnipotence, than the design of an all-loving deity.

He doesn’t provide evidence that his god even exists.

No, Craig says, his answer has great explanatory power, “unless you’re closed to theism.” (Did you see that clever role reversal coming? If there’s a problem with embracing Craig’s position, it must be that the atheist is simply closed-minded!)

We see cracks begin to form, however, when he admits that his isn’t an empirical explanation but rather a metaphysical one. But then what good is it—I mean, besides advancing Craig’s pet theory?

#### Craig retreats

Craig says that simple math would always apply to the physical world in any universe. That sounds plausible to me, but Craig is overconfident as usual as he tosses out claims about which he couldn’t possibly have definite knowledge. And if Craig admits that God isn’t needed for simple math, how can you exclude the rest when complex math is built on simple math? As an example of “simple math,” Craig includes the Bridges of Königsberg problem, which was the beginning of graph theory.

Craig demands an explanation because that’s where he imagines his advantage lies. He’s got an explanation, pathetic though it is, which is more than the other side has.

The problem, of course, is that “we don’t have an answer” is a perfectly reasonable response from the side of reason and science. The last ten thousand puzzles that science resolved started from that position of honest ignorance. Every Christian explanation of “God did it!” for these puzzles was wrong, and yet here Craig pops up again like a Weeble with the same childish and simple-minded proposition. “Well, how about now? Is God an explanation now?”

Christianity assures its flock that it’s doing important work as it pretends to answer science’s unresolved questions with the same mindless, one-size-fits-all answer, but this is just god-of-the-gaps reasoning. (In my list of 25 stupid arguments Christians should avoid, this is #20a: Science can’t explain everything; therefore, God.)

As his antagonist chipped away at Craig’s ice floe, Craig’s argument essentially dribbled from “math’s effectiveness is uncanny” down to “math’s effectiveness is kind of uncanny.” All he could do was whine that what was left was still extraordinary and needs an explanation. Sure, let’s work on an explanation, but in the meantime, don’t imagine that you have one.

#### William Lane Craig and Barbie—separated at birth?

Craig reminds me of Teen Talk Barbie, a doll from 1992 that could say a number of phrases, including one that has been paraphrased as “Math is hard!” Craig seems to confuse difficult math (and there’s plenty of that) with math that depends on God, and his argument seems to devolve into little more than Barbie’s observation.

Yes, math is hard, but both Barbie and Craig have yet to show that mathematical explanations of the real world would fail in a godless universe. They seem to even be unaware of the problem.

Related posts:

The good Christian should beware of mathematicians
and all those who make empty prophecies.
The danger already exists that mathematicians
have made a covenant with the devil
to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell.
— Augustine

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/9/15.)

Image from stuartpilbrow, CC license

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• ephemerol

Lord Zeus Almighty, this is no more effective at shoring up christianity than are cosmological arguments, which if they held water, which they don’t, still wouldn’t carry water for any specific deity.

It’s not a mystery why math works. It will work whenever quantities are conserved. It’s like saying that accounting is proof of god. Physics is just physical accounting, in which you’re accounting not for dollars and cents, but matter and energy. Assuming you’re not burning your money, accounting works, and there’s nothing uncanny about it. (Not sure why economics isn’t in that intersection in the Venn diagram, since economics is basically all math.)

And just for giggles, math is not even objectively hard. It’s hard for architectures that are not particularly efficient at calculation (neural nets), but drop dead easy for architectures that are (semiconductors).

P.S. There are no new arguments for christianity, only old ones. Very old ones. Very old ones all of which were debunked centuries ago already.

• Michael Neville

(Not sure why economics isn’t in that intersection in the Venn diagram, since economics is basically all math.)

Economics uses math, primarily statistics, for its models. However these models often have little relationship with reality, being useful only to examine one or two particular questions about economic behavior. Like all other social sciences, economics is an attempt to quantify incredibly messy human endeavors and relationships. Sometimes the models work and sometimes they don’t.

• ThaneOfDrones

The current sad state of economics is that economic theories are driven by political considerations. If economics were truly a science, theories that do not work properly (i.e. do not model the real world) such as supply-side and trickle-down would be quickly abandoned. And yet, we still have the Republican Party.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

But they keep slapping a fresh coat of paint on the arguments and attempting to sell them as new (not even hiding the expiration dates…)

• Raging Bee

Does Craig actually, you know, DO ANY MATH in his “argument from mathematics?” Or does he just say “math is so uncanny and freaky, therefore God!”? I guess we’ll just have to wait for part 2 for the answer. ‘Cause this is starting to sound like that Morgue guy from the goth-metal band with his “ontological mathematics,” where every point in space was a computer that stored every number in existence, so that they all cancelled out to zero, but he never did any real math to prove anything or solve any problem.

• Graham Heron

Apologetics are arguing more and more from ‘I can confuse the heck out of you – therefore god’.
The debunking of the older mainstays are more easily found on the internet and so more and more people either know of, or know where to find, valid responses.

Gollum and Bilbo asked each other a set of riddles. Apologetics are going down the same path to protect their precious.

• David Howard

Unfortunately, in attempting to outflank Craig, this article gives him fresh ammunition. The “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” (from Eugene Wigner) is a real phenomenon that needs explanation. By desperately declaring it a non-issue, atheists concede the field to the theists.
The arrogance of ignorance is an asset for religious fanatics but a liability for atheists.
Furthermore, “we don’t have an answer” is not a reasonable response; it is a pathetic response. Science DOES provide answers; we just have to find them. “There are some thing we are not meant to know” is the logic of religion, not science, mathematics or genuine philosophy.

• Michael Neville

“We don’t know” isn’t pathetic or unreasonable, it’s honest. There are some answers science doesn’t know, some answers science will never know and some answers that science cannot know.

Apologists and science deniers will always think their ignorance and incredulity are reasonable objections to what science does know. I’ve been in too many debates with creationists not to have seen this over and over again.

• Jim Jones

> By desperately declaring it a non-issue, atheists concede the field to the theists.

Rubbish. We’ve replaced ridiculous claims by theists about how the universe works with workable explanations, often quite simple ones.

OTOH, we are now thinking about quantum entanglement, a hypothesis which perplexed Einstein.

• I Came To Bring The Paine

The arrogance of ignorance is an asset for religious fanatics but a liability for atheists.

What’s so arrogant about admitting ignorance?

Furthermore, “we don’t have an answer” is not a reasonable response; it is a pathetic response.

Says who?

• Greg G.

Furthermore, “we don’t have an answer” is not a reasonable response; it is a pathetic response.

That is not unreasonable. It is only unreasonable to say you have an answer when you don’t.

• Cynthia

This. Science has made tremendous progress but there is still a ton we don’t know and we need some humility about that.

In both scientific and religious realms, false certainty causes harm.

• True, but it’s a little odd putting science and religion in the same sentence. Science has taught us many new, correct things about reality, while religion has taught us none.

• Cynthia

People have strived for
centuries to make sense of the world. Science and religion, along with other disciplines, are just different ways of exploring questions. I don’t think religion works as a science guide, but I also don’t think that science alone should direct morality.

In any case, false confidence and overly broad pronouncements are a problem in both fields.

• Ignorant Amos

There is no need to espouse any religion for morality.

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

• Damien Priestly

No, mathematics is a language to help describe many things both theoretical and real. It is can be both effective and a mere intellectual exercise.

• Kuno

Furthermore, “we don’t have an answer” is not a reasonable response; it
is a pathetic response. Science DOES provide answers; we just have to
find them.

And before those answers are found we don’t have them. I don’t see the problem.

• Michael Neville

Fundamental particles are composed of three quarks, not one or two.

There are six quarks (and six anti-quarks): up, down, strange, charm, top and bottom. (Personally I would have liked the t and b quarks to have been truth and beauty but wiser minds prevailed.)

• eric

“Why was there an naming dispute between the discoverers?”
“Because while Europeans wish to discover the naked truth, Americans prefer to find bare bottoms.”

• Anri

I’m not certain why the assumption that there are a few reasonably elegant intellectual formulae that explain myriad phenomena supports the idea that a literally omnipotent god created the universe in the exact way he chose.
It would only support this idea if the assumption is that god is somehow constrained by math or logic, thus invalidating omnipotence.

I don’t think it opposes it, per se, just doesn’t support it.

• God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover and the presence of existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

your position is one of willful ignorance. Not because you are unintelligent, but because you realize that reality as it actually is has no room for a grown man oananist who likes “my little pony” and thinks that he will wishful thinking himself to the status of God one day.

Logic is the lowest form of thought as it relies on the senses and math has no place in philosophy. That you are tying to use them to understand what is above nature shows that maybe you do have a severe impediment.

• Campaigner1

You have done nothing more than make a series of unsupported assertions. There is no evidence the universe is “contingent” upon anything, nor is there evidence the universe was “created”, only that it likely transitioned from one state to another. There is NO example of a “nothing”, i.e., a void empty of all matter and energy.

All human beings rely on their senses; they are the only means we have of perceiving our shared, observably consistent reality. And yes, I recognize our senses are both limited and subject to misinterpretation. But no better means of receiving input has been demonstrated.

There is no evidence of anything “above (what does that even mean?)” the natural world.

• So you are so desperate to claim yourself to be God that you deny contingency and causality? Or is it that you just have a reprobate mind and cannot tell basic things anymore?

It is actually both: your ambition has lead you to infinite ignorance of even the most basic things of reality. Meaning that capital sin of pride lead you to insanity.

you make a philosophical argument to claim that there is nothing outside of empiricism. A self-refuting bit of nonsense that you are too far gone to realize what you are saying.

It is like saying the old hitchens nugget those of your religion repeat: “that which is presented without evidence can be refuted without evidence.” This is another example of a textbook “stupid” statement, meaning that if it is true then it is wrong.

Saying that “empiricism is the only valid thought” is a philosophical opinion of taste, something that is not empiricical and therefore rejected by its own premise.

Saying “things without evidence must be discarded” is stupid because EVERYTHING must be based on axioms (first principles) which by definition must be unprovable because they must be uncontingent. you can only study something by its contingency, so the true foundation of everything must be uncontingent.

This is all too complicated for you, I am well aware of that going by your poor display above, but that is what “those” like you get when you think 2 year old foot-stomping tactics works on highest level eschatology.

The final stupid statement I will mention is another one that you are using, in which you are domatically stating there are no dogmas, or that you cannot find natural measurements of what is above nature.

• Raging Bee

Incoherent troll is a;sd ghaeorgh ao ga;lfgh adfh lakjfnla;

• Is that your demon talking? How incoherent and sad.

Say a Rosary, if you have the strength to.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Now you’re asserting ‘demons’.

EVIDENCE, my good man! EVIDENCE!

• This is the 14th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

damned spirits who (out of jealousy of fallen mankind being salvagable) have dedicated themselves to preying on the weakest of the weak of fallen mankind to ensure as many humans as they can are damned with them.

In other words: your dark masters from whom you never question anything they ask of you.

• kyuss

show some evidence that “spirits” actually exist.

• Doubting Thomas

So you’re a member of the world’s largest pedophile club. It all makes sense now.

• This is the 20th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

I am neither a freemason, satanist, nor a policeman or teacher. So no.

The Church is actually most clean of any place of that kind of devilry. Orthodox Jews are the second cleanest.

• Doubting Thomas

I would like to invoke that “ignorance is bliss” quote, but for you I would alter it to “Ignorance is crazy, rambling, ranting, nonsensical, angry delusion.”

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

So you are so desperate to claim yourself to be God that you deny contingency and causality?

Are you so desperate that you have to build and attack strawmen rather than directly answering another’s statements?

That does NOT look good for your cause…

• This is the 13th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

I am attacking your intentions as a classical education (which you do not have) would have told you that actions cannot be judged without their intentions.

the motivator of your kind is what your religion’s creator feuerbach said in his founding statement of atheism: “the ‘no’ to God is the ‘yes’ to man.”

your entire religion is simply gnosticism based on the idea of presenting God as your competitor and therefore hoping saying it enough “gnosis”es reality into twisting to your desires.

To the Magesterium of the Church, this is the capital sin of pride. Which is the delusional belief that you have arrogated to yourself Divine Will. THAT is your intent and it is as childish as it was when the devil invented it for his own suicide.

• Doubting Thomas

It is like saying the old hitchens nugget those of your religion repeat:
“that which is presented without evidence can be refuted without
evidence.”

Nope.

• This is the 21st message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

Those of your religion do say that and have even seen it multiple times in my feed today. Continue reading from that point to see why I explain that statement is dumb in every sense.

• Doubting Thomas

The actual quote is:
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens.
It’s a subtle, but meaningful difference from the one you made up.

• Kit Hadley-Day

of course i can refute something that is said without evidence, i have no compelling reason to believe you, in fact based on your current posting history you seem to be very much someone who’s accuracy and authenticity is in question, you seem to think that an argument from authority is compelling rather than a fallacy.

do you believe everything you are told? no matter how outlandish, if not why?

• you can refuse to receive it, but you cannot refute something without an argument.

To have an argument you need axioms which MUST be uncontingent and therefore unprovable.

That is why the statement is such stupidity, because your axiom is that axioms must be rejected. That means if your statement is to be taken as true, it refutes itself. That is pathetic, and seemingly your best try.

That you reject all authority just means you are without foundation, which is corroborated by your cluelessness. I don’t know who you are, but there is no reaching you.

• Kit Hadley-Day

what you have is an unstated premise of bob exists, i am challenging that premise and as such i don’t need to address any of your argument until you have supported that premise. You are making the positive claim, you need to support it, it’s not my job to believe you, it’s your job to be convincing.

i am not rejecting axioms, i am rejecting your unevidenced statement, like i said if i told you i owned an invisible fire breathing dragon would you just accept that is true?

I do not reject all authority, i am not an anarchist, i reject your authority to make a statement about a fundamental truth of the universe without giving a whiff of a reason to accept it.

Tell you what, let me give you a massive hand, i will grant you the premise that the universe had something start it, something which is currently not settled, now you prove that thing was a sky wizard? and not a natural force or a giant sky tribble that just eats ephemera and poops out universes. I have as much evidence for GST theory as you have for bob.

• Susan

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover

Let me guess, though. It’s also Yahwehjesus, right?

No. There’s no reason to accept that there is an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover, and even less reason to think that if there were, it has anything to do with Yahwehjesus.

your position is one of willful ignorance

Nice to meet you, too.

No, I’m afraid you’re wrong about that.

Logic is the lowest form of thought

What do you mean?

as it relies on the senses

What do you mean?

to understand what is above nature

What does “above nature” mean and how would you know you were understanding it?

maybe you do have a severe impediment

Well, you sure told us.

What are you claiming and how do you support it?

• God is God. Though you think of yourself as a possible usurper of God, you really are just a vain, credulous believer of demons. That capital sin of pride of yours make you believe all manner of nonsense.

If you want to know what I am claiming, it would be helpful to read my post in full instead of gibbering off in a corner at disembodied half sentences.

All things are contingent and caused, this is proven by basic reason. Reason is pure thought and is above the lowest that you claim.

That all things are contingent is proven by contingency is ACTUAL logic, so I am using your own favored weapon against you. Then again I have a highest order eschatology, and you only have ego.

Do you know what a mortal sin is? It is a sin capable of killing your soul outright.

Trying to project your faults onto others in the hopes of making them guilty of your crimes is called the mortal sin of despair.

• Susan

God is God.

Fnnrt is Fnnrt.

Though you think of yourself as a possible usurper of God

Nope. Wrong again.

If you want to know what I am claiming, it would be helpful to read my post

You missed the “how do you support it?” part. Also, the uncaused cause thing doesn’t necessarily exist, if it does, there’s no reason to assume it’s an agent, and even if exists as an agent, that it has anything to do with Yahwehjesus. It would be nice if you read the responses to your post. I specifically addressed several points. You came back with more unsupported assertions and unsupported accusations.

The rest of your post is more disjointed assertions and accusations.

What are you claiming and how do you support it?

• As St Thomas Aquinas said, the will is only created when you understand Good as Good.

God is the fundamental of everything. This is called Faith, which is founding yourself in the only possible foundation. Without Faith, reason is totally blind, and all other thought is totally disordered.

I may have been aggressive about this in my previous message, but it isn’t incorrect in that you are being petty and nonsensical. All because of your ambition. All I am saying is very clear, IF you are capable of understanding the topic at its most basic level. IF you are not capable of understanding the topic at its most basic level, then you have no right to speak on it.

Basically your protest is that you cannot understand the topic at all, and therefore I am wrong. Is a calculus teacher in the wrong if the protestor cannot understand basic math?

• Susan

the will is only created

Why should I believe the “will” was “created”?

God is the fundamental of everything.

You’ve provided no reason to accept that.

but it isn’t incorrect in that you are being petty and nonsensical.

Of course it is. I’m asking you what you’re claiming and how you support it and you just make vague assertions and attack people’s character, both without showing warrant.

your protest is that you cannot understand the topic at all

Look at that. A two-fer. A bare assertion and a character attack rolled into one.

It’s not petty and nonsensical to ask someone specifically what they’re claiming and how they support it. It’s basic stuff.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

As St Thomas Aquinas said, the will is only created when you understand Good as Good.

So? Aquinas was *also* trying to define your ‘god’ into existence, for lack of evidence.

Why not just bring evidence? It would make life SO much easier!

• God is the only foundation for anything, and St Aquinas needed to point to God to show his works were based in Absolute Truth.

Evidence of what, reprobate?

That God is some created, contingent being like you that you could usurp and fulfill your pride? your pride has no reasons to exist.

• Damien Priestly

You are just doing “Special Pleading”…The rules that you apply to everybody else, you don’t apply to your “uncreated” mover. So you just try to define a god, that nobody else is allowed to argue against.

Note that most atheists are intellectually honest enough not to do that. We could argue that the Cosmos is itself is an uncreated prime mover…eliminating the need for any deity via Occams Razor…Yet, unlike you, we are wise enough, when appropriate, to simply say we don’t know instead of using twisted logic to invent things.

• God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. Everything was created by God and all corruption and since all is contingent upon God, death is a result of being separated from our Creator.

you are contingent and created. the demons you worship are contingent and created. The universe is created and contingent.

Everything (especially you and your demons) are contingent upon God and created by God.

you are offended by this because the capital sin of pride (delusion that you have usurped Divine Will) makes you believe that you will one day replace God.

• Damien Priestly

You just confirmed my previous point.

Also, all you can do is repeat yourself or are you a bot?

• kyuss

All things are contingent and caused, this is proven by basic reason…

Quantum theory begs to differ.

• This is the 7th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

your gnostic religious dogma masquerading as “science” may claim to refute the Magesterium of the Church and therefore actual science, but it does not.

All of this is a pathetic shell game of you trying to pretend that your have a right to sin. you do not.

• kyuss

that’s an impressive word salad that you’ve served up. and, as per usual, your reply bears no resemblance to the point that you are, allegedly, responding to.

also, the notion of “sin” is a religious stupidity that I don’t subscribe to. i’d like to see some evidence that your shrinking, weakling “god” actually exists.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

God is God.

I’ll take ‘Tautologies’ for \$1000, Alex.

YOUR KIND aren’t allowed to simply *define* this ‘god’ into existence, you have to DEMONSTRATE it.

Until then, stop polluting our discourse with your sewage.

• This is the 11th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

God is fundamental. God is the only possible foundation God could have built anything on.

God is ipsum esse subsistens. The SUBSISTENT (i.e. uncreated AND uncontingent) act of “to be” itself. That means God is so fundamental and we are so lesser that we can only recognize God through his actions.

you have no “discourse,” you have dogpiles that stupidly think rationalization will make your well-earned shame over sin go away. It won’t.

• kyuss

this is stupid crap. provide some evidence or actual argumentation that shows your baseless assertions to be true. otherwise, honk on bobo.

• Raging Bee

All things are contingent and caused, this is proven by basic reason.

So why should we believe anyone’s claims about anyone/anything that isn’t?

• Otto

All things are contingent and caused…

So God isn’t a ‘thing’?

• This is the 18th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

God is the subsistent act of “to be” Himself.

God is not in His creation anymore than a painter is in a painting.

Substistent means uncreated and uncontingent. Being a created and contingent invention living in a created and contingent sandbox at God’s pleasure, you cannot possibly even imagine what uncreated and uncontingent means.

Act of being itself, meaning that since we are but a creation serving at the pleasure of God we can only witness God through His actions in the universe He created for us.

• Otto

Lots of words but none of them answer the question. You wanna try again? Is God a ‘thing’?

Oh and go fuck yourself…

• Doubting Thomas

Looks like we have another contestant for my favorite game: “Religious Fundamentalist or Mentally Ill??!!”

• Raging Bee

“Or?”

• Doubting Thomas

I’m a perpetual optimist.

• This is the 19th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

The soviets used to declare Christians as “mentally ill” to have Christians imprisoned and euthenized because we got in the way of your delusions of “godhood” that you call political ambitions.

Where did you learn it from?

• Doubting Thomas

I learned it from watching crazy people on street corners ranting about imaginary things. You seem like the internet version of the same.

• Doubting Thomas

A quick diagnostic question for you:

Have you ever seen someone on the street waving a Bible and yelling about demons and thought to yourself, “That guy seems reasonable and makes some good points?”

• Ignorant Amos

The soviets used to declare Christians as “mentally ill” to have Christians imprisoned and euthenized because we got in the way of your delusions of “godhood” that you call political ambitions.

Untrue generalization.

You’re a liar and it makes baby Jesus weep.

The soviets didn’t declare Christians “mentally ill” ya moron

And when you say soviets, you mean communist soviets….except when they didn’t.

Joseph Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort and presented Russia as a defender of Christian civilization, because he saw the church had an ability to arouse the people in a way that the party could not and because he wanted western help. On September 4, 1943, Metropolitans Sergius (Stragorodsky), Alexius (Simansky) and Nicholas (Yarushevich) were officially received by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin who proposed to create the Moscow Patriarchate. They received permission to convene a council on September 8, 1943, that elected Sergius Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.[83] The church had a public presence once again and passed measures reaffirming their hierarchical structure that flatly contradicted the 1929 legislation and even Lenin’s 1918 decree. The official legislation was never withdrawn, however, which is suggestive that the authorities did not consider that this tolerance would become permanent. This is considered by some a violation of the XXX Apostolic canon, as no church hierarch could be consecrated by secular authorities. A new patriarch was elected, theological schools were opened, and thousands of churches began to function. The Moscow Theological Academy Seminary, which had been closed since 1918, was re-opened.

• Joe

All things are contingent and caused

No.

• Yes, they are. Are you really denying contingency and causality?

Are you this desperate to try to rationalize your sin that you become absurd?

• Kit Hadley-Day

if all things are contingent and caused why does your god get a pass to not be? sounds like special pleading to me, and if the answer is because something has to be, then why not just say the universe is and cut out the unneeded extra actor of a space wizard

• Because God is not a created or contingent thing or a thing at all. God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

The reason you monsters panic when I say that is because you desperately want to pretend to compete with God, and will reject anything that gets in the way of that delusion.

• Otto

Because God is not a created or contingent thing or a thing at all.

So God isn’t a thing…God is no thing….God is nothing.

You lose.

• Kit Hadley-Day

more unsubstantiated claims, was does bob get a special class all to himself? you never explain you just state. the need to justify why bob gets a pass and the universe dosn’t

and that sound you here is not screams of fear but gales of laughter, you are literally repeating apologist arguments that where destroyed centuries ago, the only people they can possible work on are people that already agree with them. I do not need to compete with bob, i have already surpassed it by being real.

• Joe

I’m denying everything is caused. We simply don’t know that to be true.

• Greg G.

All we know is that causes acting on something has an effect. That in no way implies that causes acting on nothing can have effects.

• God created all things, from the same nothingness He created everything else.

your desperate delusion here is to try to present God as a mere contingent, created being like you that you can one day usurp to fulfil your capital sin of pride. Of course, you have to deny who God is to even maintain your delusion.

• Susan

your desperate delusion

No one’s desperate here. We just have no reason to believe you.

All you do is make unsupported assertions and then insult people when they ask reasonable questions and bring up reasonable points..

Then, you ignore the reasonable questions and reasonable points and insult us some more and make more unsupported assertions.

You’re not by any chance catholic, are you? 😉

(I’m going to guess that you’ll ignore my efforts to communicate here, as you’ve ignored all efforts to communicate since you got here, and that you’ll just repeat the formula I described above. I really hope you prove me wrong but I’m not hopeful.)

• ildi

God created all things, from the same nothingness He created everything else.

No, I BELIEVE Nature made nature

(oops, sorry, wrong troll, carry on)

• Greg G.

Instead of defending causality, you abandoned it and attacked me instead.

If ever there was such a thing as “the sin of pride”, your crowing and taunting without a shred of persuasiveness would be the prime example of it.

• (((Hornèd Pontilibratificus)))

Somebody done drank up all the kool-aid, it would seem. LOL

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

…and mixed a *fresh* batch, then dun drunk THAT, too…

• Jim Jones

What?

• Raging Bee

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover and the presence of existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

Even if we took that statement at full face value (which I, for one, don’t), it still says nothing at all about what this “uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover” actually is, or whether it’s anything remotely like any of the gods anyone on Earth has ever believed in. It doesn’t even settle any of the bitter and long-running disputes we’ve had between and within all the various religions; so what good is it really? So even though it’s the most coherent-sounding sentence in your entire stupid comment, it’s still just plain meaningless. That’s the best you can do?

• God is the word we use to describe the absolutely required uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover of all.

The pagan “gods” that you worship are all demons. demons are all contingent, created brings just like you are contingent, created being. Therefore there is no comparison.

Venerable Fulton Sheen said that insane, novelty-driven reprobates would make the claim “some say this and some say that, therefore there is no Truth.” which is like Christopher Columbus hearing some say “the earth is flat” and others saying “the earth is round” and therefore coming to the “tolerant” conclusion of “the earth does not exist.”

• Raging Bee

You still haven’t proven anything ABOUT this prime mover. You clearly have no clue what you’re talking about, and zero grasp of logic.

• Rudy R

No one has proven the “prime mover” is not a natural non-god mover.

• So you are saying that no one has proved that uncontingent and uncreated isn’t contingent and created? Contingent and created like you per chance?

Looking for a new job, reprobate?

• Rudy R

Yes, no one has proven a god exists, let alone the supernatural. When you resign to name-calling, you’ve lost the debate.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

You’re just making assertions.

I DON’T BELIEVE YOU.

Bring evidence or grow up and stop having tantrums about being ridiculed for peddling idiocy.

• And? Are you under some protestant belief that “believing” in something means anything at all?

Begin first by questioning the only thing you have a right to: yourself.

• Joe

God is the word we use to describe the absolutely required uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover of all.

God is the person people thank when they find their car keys, or a bearded philanderer who lives atop mount Olympus, or the deity the Aztecs offered up human sacrifice to. God has many meanings, why is yours true?

• This is the 23rd message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

Person? So you are so desperate to try to usurp God that you want to present him as a human being like you?

Then you try to equate God to two demons.

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

Both humans and demons are created, contingent brings like you are.

• Joe

I’m not desperate to usurp anything I don’t believe in.

The prime mover would be the prime mover. Gods are human creations.

• ildi

some say “the earth is flat” and others saying “the earth is round”

Others say the earth is an oblate spheroid.

• And the point was that some are so cowardly they seem to be unable to sift Truth from error, and so deny Truth.

• ildi

And the point is, neither one is Truth.

• Kit Hadley-Day

No, that is your, very specific, definition of the word god, that conveniently fits your argument, it is not the common or even sometimes used definition of a god, you could just swap god in your sentence with any word (Bob for example) and using your definition it is just as valid, humpty dumpty should stay in the wonderland

• It is who God is.

“Bob” is short for Robert. It has no relation to the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. I suppose you could change any word in any situation with your absurd system since you outright reject reality in every way.

That you try to claim God Himself and the demons you are enslaved to are equitable is little different than when you subversives claim Truth and error are equitable.

• Kit Hadley-Day

no bob is the new word i am using that has exactly the same definition as yours for god, (here on known as bob), this is to differentiate bob from all the other proposed definitions of the Abrahamic god. I mean i know it’s confusing when someone takes a common word (bob) and starts using it in a totally new way but that appears to be standard practice in apologetics so i am sure you will catch on.

so could you expand on the definition of bob for me? is it just the uncaused cause, or is it also the omnipotent sky wizard of the bible? and i see you believe in daemons, where they created by bob? or are they independant? if they are his subjects why does he let them be such jerks? so many questions

• Kit Hadley-Day

it doesn’t even imply intelligence, just that before our current understanding of time and causality there had to be a something that kicked us of, could be an all knowing space wizard, could be giant tribble just pooping out universes as it goes, we have no idea, but neither does Mr Teapot

• Anri

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover and the presence of existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

Modern physics says otherwise. Sorry that’s inconvenient for your bronze-age belief system.

your position is one of willful ignorance. Not because you are
unintelligent, but because you realize that reality as it actually is
has no room for a grown man oananist who likes “my little pony” and
thinks that he will wishful thinking himself to the status of God one
day.

First of all, please quote where I said I was a man or own up to sloppy thinking.

Secondly, I don’t believe in god, and that includes people rising to that status. Again, sorry this is inconvenient for your belief system.

Logic is the lowest form of thought as it relies on the senses and math has no place in philosophy. That you are tying to use them to
understand what is above nature shows that maybe you do have a severe
impediment.

Are you stating that your philosophy is inherently illogical?
That statements arising from other statements have no bearing on it?
Is your “prime mover” argument based on a logical argument? It contains no contingent statements?
Or did you just not understand the ramifications of what you wrote?

• epeeist

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover and the presence of
existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent
Prime Mover.

Groan, not another person subscribing to Aquinas’ bastardised version of Aristotle’s metaphysics.

You do realise that Aristotle based his metaphysics on his physics and that this is wrong?

That Aristotle’s “prime mover” is nothing like the god of Aquinas, that it is incapable of acting since this would mean that it would no longer be perfect; that it is not moral, since morality is derived from a lack and a perfect being can lack nothing?

• This is the 4th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

All contingency requires the uncontingent. All causality requires the uncreated.

This is not opinion, but a basic requirement for existence to even be possible in the first place.

Good is anything as God created it to be. evil is a mere absence of Good caused by a thing dying due to sin. sin is division from God.

That you have tried to replace the basic building blocks of thought itself with your ego, only refutes your ego as poisonous against actual thinking. What you have done is come up with a mythology that has no right to exist, and then deny the Truth because it does not fit your ego-dramatic mythology.

We call that insanity in psychology and a reprobate mind in the Magesterium. you’ll have an eternity to think about that.

• epeeist

This is the 4th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

You expect me to commiserate with you, especially after you called me a “reprobate”?

I note that the rest of your post is essentially a standard copy-paste and addresses none of the points I made.

you’ll have an eternity to think about that.

And according to Aquinas the “just” will be able to look down on us and enjoy our suffering.

It always comes down to ad baculum with people like you.

• Otto

…you’ll have an eternity to think about that.

You zealots always get around to the proxy threats eventually. Grow up.

• This is the 4th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

Poor baby. I can think of a quick solution.

• Does it involve cowering and letting your delusion of grandeur continue unabated? I prefer to stand my ground.

Here is something you may recognize:
“**** you, I won’t do what you tell me.”

• “**** you, I won’t do what you tell me.”

Ah, but you will. Begone, Satan!

• Rudy R

The severe impediment is trying to prove a god through metaphysics, because you can’t through the scientific method. Funny thing about metaphysics is that you can prove no-god, so who is right? The person who applies the scientific method tips the scales.

• This is the 5th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

Metaphysics is the study of what is above nature and therefore cannot be observed, but it necessitates because nature is lowly and cannot account for anything outside a narrow scope.

The scientific method was established by a Priest and was used to make inferences about natural things by observing natural things. you are claiming that nothing exists outside of nature because your disembodied attempt to co-opt the tool of empiricism cannot account for thins outside of nature.

Really, you are just a child who is trying to use daddy’s stuff without knowing what it is and therefore not realizing it is just one limited tool.

The Church created the sciences under the two assumptions:
1) the earth is not divine
2) all is intelligible

Which are two fundamental things you cannot understand because they cannot be justified outside of Catholic Dogma.

your whole life is a lie, and if you think I have an ounce of sympathy for you because of your chosen eternal fate, you are dead wrong.

• Rudy R

You, or anyone else, does not know what started the Big Bang. There can be only be a hypothesis with two options: natural or supernatural cause. We still have much to learn about the natural forces in this universe and one day we may be able to answer that question, but until then, we don’t know and all the metaphysical hand waiving by theists will not change that fact.

BTW, god magic has no explanatory value, unless you are a child.

• epeeist

The scientific method was established by a Priest

Actually the first person to produce an exact solution to the Einstein field equations was a Soviet physicist named Alexander Friedman, somehow I doubt that he was a Catholic, neither was Einstein for that matter.

Now nobody is denigrating the work that Lemaitre did, but he was second on the scene, which is why talk of the Friedman, Lemaitre, Robertson, Walker metric.

As for observational support for the Big Bang, the initial data was produced by Hubble, who was probably a deist.

Now while Lemaitre produced a Big Bang theory the person who produced the Big Bang theory was another Soviet physicist named George Gamow.

• Grimlock

[…] the presence of existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

Why?

• Why not have a man standing on solid ground in the middle of the air? Because it is a contradiction.

Causality needs the uncreated, and contingency needs the uncontingent.

Causality means something was put into effect by something else.

Contingency means something needs to be connected to another thing to exist at all.

you (along with everything else) were created by God and are contingent upon God and therefore must be connected to him to sustain yourself.

A contingent thing has contingency and therefore a contingent thing is reliant on something else and therefore cannot possibly be the Ultimate.

• Grimlock

Why? You’re simply asserting things. What makes what you say more than loose assertions?

• Kevin K

Evidence required.

• Of what? evidence is the byproduct of the sciences. The sciences study contingency of natural things. Guess what the presence of contingency indicates the requirement of: the uncontingent.

The sciences were created by the Church with 2 axioms:
1) the earth is not divine
2) all is intelligible

ONLY Catholic Dogma can account for those 2, as only we know God is not a part of creation, and we know we all have the same creator.

• Kevin K

only we know God is not a part of creation, and we know we all have the same creator.

Who is “we”? I know no such thing. You can’t even define what a god is, much less demonstrate that it is “not a part of creation” (whatever that bit of gobbledygook is supposed to mean). And there are several billion people living on the planet right now who disagree with you as to the name of the “creator”. And there are probably several hundred million to a billion people who understand the brute fact that the universe did not require a “creator” in any event.

You’re going to have to do much better than that.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

The sciences study contingency of natural things.

^^^^Citation required.

That sounds more like philosophy to me.

• epeeist

That sounds more like philosophy to me.

Sounds like gibberish to me.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover

I don’t believe you.

Demonstrate it sufficiently to convince somebody who doesn’t *already* believe your superstition, or admit you’ve got nothing.

• This is the 9th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

you mean explain basic facts of reality to someone who is not only ignorant of basic reason, but rejects to the point of refusing to acknowledge reality at all? No, nothing can help you.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Stop sticking words in my mouth so you can strawman me.

I told you I don’t believe you, or your explanation.

Demonstrate it, or admit that you’re just demanding blind obedience.

• Raging Bee

Yep, yet another religious idiot using a timeworn excuse to flounce. Buh-bye, don’t let the “Back” button his your ass on the way out…

• RichardSRussell

That which is asserted without evidence may safely be ignored without regret.

• This is the 15th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

ALL is based, and MUST be based, on the uncontingent.

In philosophy, these uncontingent Prime thoughts are called “axioms” or first principles. Axioms must be unprovable as proving something requires looking at its contingency, and axioms must never be contingent or else they are worthless foundations.

I will send my bill for the philosophy tutoring once I figure where you are.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

ALL is based, and MUST be based, on the uncontingent.

I DON’T BELIEVE YOU.

*Demonstrate* the reality of your assertion, with *evidence*, or recant and begone.

• RichardSRussell

Speaking of figuring out where someone is, are you yourself in orbit out around Mars or something? You sure seem to think the Sun shines on you all the time.

• Otto

LOL…you think your drivel is philosophically sound?

You are an arrogant, condescending asshole, no surprise you are Catholic.

• Raging Bee

Actually, no, axioms are not unproven — they’re mathematical expressions of things we observe in the real world.

• Taneli Huuskonen

The axioms of some particular axiomatic systems are indeed mathematical expressions of things we observe in the real world, as you say, but that’s a special case. From the mathematician’s point of view, the axioms of a system are simply statements that are accepted as true without a proof in the system itself, and it’s irrelevant if they correspond to anything observable in the real world or not. So, if you squint and tilt your head sideways, you can see something resembling a true claim within that drivel.

• Otto

Defining God into existence….yawn

• Raging Bee

God defined us into existence, so now we gotta return the favor. Fair’s fair…

• Existence defines its own foundation, which is how we know about the nature of God.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Existence defines its own foundation

Then why do you continue to feel the need to insert your ‘god’ into the discussion?

• Otto

That is a horrible tautology. Try again.

• Raging Bee

Which god?

• Max Doubt

“God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover…”

Your continued unsupported assertions do not show that your premise is true.

“… and the presence of existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.”

Nonsense. The fact that things exist tells us nothing about any prerequisites for existence.

“… and thinks that he will wishful thinking himself to the status of God one day.”

I have already achieved the status of a god. Better than a god. More powerful. We know there is nothing your god can do outside your imagination that I can’t do, too. And there are many things I can do that your god clearly can’t. Every time I ask someone to invite their god over so I can kick its ass, they always wuss out. Is it your god who’s a chicken shit coward, or is it you?

• This is the 17th message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

you again, why did I not block you?

That you cannot make inferences from even observation of how things exist means that the lowest form of thought (Logic) is unavailable to you.

I can only wonder what evil you did to make you such a reprobate and such a textbook example of the capital sin of pride.

But I can tell you that this mickey mouse persona is not worth what it is buying you in eternity.

• Greg G.

you again, why did I not block you?

Blocking someone is the equivalent to sticking your head in the sand. The blocked person can still read and reply to your posts, and everyone else can see their replies. You are the only person who doesn’t see those posts.

• It is blocking them to throw hem in the trash where they belong. I do it to every single worthless troll attacking me in this thread after I have cleaned out my message queue.

you monsters honestly think that denying God will make your shame over son go away. Some of you are smart enough to realize that doesn’t work, but the rest of you are dumb enough to think that attacking Christians will finally be what makes your shame over sin go away.

If you were at all intelligent enough to realize that attacking Christians will not aid you in any way, you would have no capability of maintaining your capital sin of pride. So therefore your mental illness leads you to not only attack me out of the blue, but in large numbers and without ceasing. I have seen the stamina of your kind and you will repeat your religion’s rhetoric for up to 12 hours at a time and every day for weeks. I have not a single ounce of patience for even a small message of your idiocy like you have given here, so I am not letting the damned try to pull me into your grave with you.

user “max doubt” is a particularly insidious example of what happens when your mind goes reprobate and therefore has absolutely no protection against demons. That adherence to pride is some of the most basic and archetypical I have ever seen.

• Greg G.

If you were at all intelligent enough to realize that attacking Christians…

If you were intelligent enough, you would be able to distinguish between attacking Christians and attacking the ideas of Christians. An response to what you say is not an attack on you.

Perhaps you have lost yourself in your rhetoric.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Nigey-poo, YOUR KIND don’t get to dictate the terms and conditions around here.

I realize that chaps your buttocks…and have sweet schadenfreude about how emotionally distraught you are about losing your unearned, undeserved privilege.

• Greg G.

Allow me to bestow honors for how you triggered NIGELTEAPOOPOO.

• Joe

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover and the presence of existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

Not really. Please don’t be so arrogant in future.

• This is the 22nd message out of 23 from reprobates I have to deal with today.

arrogance is the theft of authority that does not belong to you.

The most textbook example is the capital sin of pride, which involves you believing that you have usurped God’s Will.

pride leads to despair, which is the mortal sin of you thinking you can use your usurped “Divine Will” and absolve yourself of wrongdoing through projection.

Thank you for giving an example of both, reprobate, but it is unnecessary.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Show evidence.

I DON’T BELIEVE YOU.

• Otto

Oh…you think you have authority by proxy. Yeah that explains a LOT.

• Joe

You may want to take a look in the mirror before you go accusing others of pride.

• Greg G.

As if mirrors reflect his image.

• Thanks4AllTheFish

Hi Nigel,

I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with so many people on this blog who obviously don’t have the close personal relationship you enjoy with God. I’m truly envious of the certainty-in-all-things that God has instilled into you and that you have been so gracious to share with us in spite of our pathetic clinging to pragmatism, knowledge and skepticism. It’s easy to see why you might be exasperated with those of us who demand empirical evidence about supernatural claims.

I mean,…really?

If there was empirical evidence of the supernatural, it wouldn’t be supernatural, would it?

I just wanted to compliment you for bearing your own cross through Christian humility, kindness and faith. To lead by example as you do, without being arrogant and prideful and eschewing the temptation to belittle or demean those of us who lack your level of enlightenment, bodes you well.

Thank you for stopping by, it has been a real blessing. Help yourself to free cookies before you leave.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

/s

• Thank you, though I feel you have some strange desperation to try to pass this off as passive aggressive when it is probably the first thing in your entire life that has been fully truthful.

Per Flannery O Connor, In the land of the deaf you must scream and in the land of the blind you must startle. I have done just that, and you are both startled and scared.

Good, hopefully you wake up before the end.

arrogance means trying to steal authority that does not belong to you. By trying to passive aggressively project it onto me by claiming it for yourself, you have accidentally been honest.

What have you been arrogant about? Well the capital sin of pride is trying to arrogate to yourself Divine Will. Another thing you tried to project passive aggressively.

you could not keep your arrogance down completely though. skepticism is merely doubting everything but what you have the only right to doubt: yourself. pragmatism is the evil ideology based on the idea of basing everything on your ego to the point of unreason and insanity.

Then you claim to have “knowledge.” Of which you have none of the real thing, but yet your satanic religion is based on the idea of “gnosis” (or wishful thinking) isn’t it? you just “know” you will usurp God if you sneer at Christians enough, don’t you reprobate?

The insistence on asking for the byproduct of observation for things that are above nature is a defect bordering on genuine mental deficiency.

That you even attempt to ask for empiricism for a philosophical discussion tells me you don’t actually know what empiricism is despite your worship of it.

• Thanks4AllTheFish

You nailed it Nigel. Everything you said about me is absolutely true and I am simply flabbergasted at the depth of your perception after only one exchange of online squiggles. I can only marvel at your insightful mastery of all things psychological, philosophical and spiritual. We should all be eternally grateful that someone with your obvious intellectual acumen deigns to spend time to post on this insignificant little blog and feels compelled to enlighten us pitiful reprobates. Bless you sir, I am humbly indebted to you.

• Thank you, now get your head out of you know where and wake up while you still can.

• Thanks4AllTheFish

Your commands are my desires.

• As Chesterton said: you hard-shelled materialists are on the edge of belief in anything at all.

• Thanks4AllTheFish

“We are but a sum of our quotes.”
–Thanks4AllTheFish

• Here’s another from Chesterton:

The modern mind is more like a motor-car on a lonely road which two amateur motorists have been just clever enough to take to pieces, but are not quite clever enough to put together again. Under these circumstances kicking the car has never been found by the best experts to be effective. … And the final point is so plain; no sceptical philosopher can ask any questions that may not equally be asked by a tired child on a hot afternoon. “Am I a boy?—Why am I a boy?—Why aren’t I a chair?—What is a chair?” A child will sometimes ask questions of this sort for two hours. And the philosophers of Protestant Europe have asked them for two hundred years.

• Thanks4AllTheFish

Speaking of chairs,…

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Infinite Improbability Drive? Here’s a short primer:

• So a reference to a trashy reference to a series written by an english nihilist?

• epeeist

As Chesterton said

Chesterton, a second rate writer these days known for poor detective stories.

• Raging Bee

I think you just won this round of Insulting Christian Bluff Bingo! And you’re calling US arrogant?

• Kit Hadley-Day

You claim that logic is the lowest form of thought, and then making a logical argument, i think you are confused, also as pointed out below unsubstantiated claims can be ignored with a simple ‘i disagree’

• No you cannot, as that is not an argument. your disagreement or approval of something is meaningless.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

“that which can be asserted without evidence may be dismissed without consideration”

(bastardization of Hitch’s statement)

• Otto

No argument is needed for bare assertions…and a bare assertion is all you offer.

• Kit Hadley-Day

as are your evidence free assertions. given neither of us present evidence then prudence dictates the null hypothesis be presumed untill some data becomes avaliable. also the act of decrying logic while using a logical argument does rather mark yoh as someone who has no real clue what you are talking about .

• Kit Hadley-Day

neither are your evidence free assertions, in the absence of any actual data the prudent thing to do is assume the null hypothesis, ball is still firmly in your court, show evidence.

• JustAnotherAtheist2

God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover and the presence of existence makes an absolute necessity for an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover

For the sake of argument, I’ll grant the second premise. Let’s revise the first premise to be more accurate:

God is a hypothetical uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover

How do we go about demonstrating that your hypothetical god is actually part of reality?

• Otto

We don’t…it’s an axiom! Checkmate atheists!

• God is the word we use to describe the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. Reality is a creation of God as much as you are a creation of God.

your desperation is that you must try to present God as something you can compete with and then usurp. Meaning you have no clue who God is, you are just driven to total insanity and slavish pride.

That you need to add and subtract from my words to be able to answer then means you know I have defeated you. Something for you to think about, you will have time to.

• epeeist

God is the word we use to describe the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. Reality is a creation of God as much as you are a creation of God.

You know I have seen bots more intelligent than you.

Whatever the question that is put to you your response is the same endlessly repeated, unsubstantiated and unjustified pabulum.

• Phil Rimmer

Ace.

A quantum reality, “ever” existing, time symmetric, we can hypothesise by various models to lead to the emergence of spacetimes, time asymmetric, with structure forming from decaying energy fluxes.

Hurrah! We agree but for one small superfluity in your ever un-modeled account…. God. No mind, no teleology is needed for my uncreated quantum reality. You have a whole other explanation for complexity and mind still to begin. Or is God the ultimate simple mind?

You are staring into an abyss, Nige.

• Abyss of idiocy? Sure, we call that a reprobate mind.

you have basically just tried to rationalize an absurdist infinite regress because you think denying God will make your shame over you evil go away. That is just pathetic.

At no point can your ego-drama account for miracles, contingency, causality, existence, thought, or anything.

Since the requirement for the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover is absolute, you have just tried to claim that everything is its own uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. This is totally refuted by contingency and causality. That is a little bit of Isaac Newton for you on why denying God is absurd.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

The computer you’re using to pollute this thread is the product of a multitude of ‘reprobate’ minds, as is the Internet.

You sanctimonious hypocritical *ungrateful* wretch!

• Phil Rimmer

Ah, Newton. I see your problem. A billiard ball philosopher would have problems with a quantum reality, especially as cause and effect are identical depending on stance.

Infinite regress? No. Not the least little loop. That’s the elegance of some of those science based “cosmogenies”.

Its like the old steady state ideas. It is what it is what it is. Nothing is created from nothing. But transformation is what is going on. A principle like thus and so can transform into a a spacetime, a net nothing, where energy and mass, through their oppositely signed equivalence would cancel, were this no longer (all) time symmetric.

There is not and never has been any literal creation (ex nihilo) that cannot be considered a transformation.

Evil? I’m evil? Your mother might have explained to you that you admit defeat by threats? No?

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Nope.

You don’t get to define this ‘god’ of yours into existence.

Evidence only, thank you…and *reputable* evidence.

• JustAnotherAtheist2

God is the word we use to describe the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

So “god” is merely a label that houses all possible uncreated, uncontingent prime movers? Does “god” have any other attributes?

• Otto

He thinks gay people are icky….

• Ignorant Amos

God is the word we use to describe the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. Reality is a creation of God as much as you are a creation of God.

Ah…a placeholder name for “we don’t know yet”….scientists, and the rest of the rational folk, have no need for such a label…especially when you tack on a big “G” at the front allowing us to see the nonsense behind your curtain.

• Ignorant Amos

Logic is the lowest form of thought as it relies on the senses and math has no place in philosophy. That you are tying to use them to understand what is above nature shows that maybe you do have a severe impediment.

Some shite being spun there. Try telling those philosophers that are using logic and Bayes Theorem.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bayes-theorem/

• Kuno

What’s an “oananist”?

• Greg G.

Onan’s brother died so Onan was supposed to get his brother’s widow pregnant. But he pulled out before ejaculation.

Masturbation is called “the Sin of Onan” because the seed is spilled on the ground. But according to the following Wiki link, if she remained childless, Onan would have received his older brother’s birthright. I had never heard that aspect of the story before.

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

• Kuno

I was trying to test how well Nigel knows his bible.

• Ignorant Amos

If he is typical of the average holy roller, that’ll be not much.

• Greg G.

Sorry. I deleted it.

• Kuno

No problem. Apparently he already got hit with the ban hammer.

• Ignorant Amos

Nigel is on the naughty step for being a Clampett, so he can’t answer ya.

• Kuno

Yeah, I saw that too late.

• Jim Olsson

Considering the embarrassing blue and pink Venn diagram:

Who’s the imbecile that thinks math doesn’t belong in economics? Jesus! No wonder we have a 22 trillion dollar debt!

No math in politics??? Are you kidding? You mustn’t have heard of statistics! Allocating resources and running entitlement programs requires no math? No sense of proportion?

War is pure number theory!

Art and architecture are full of mathematical theory as is morality. If I have 100 loaves of bread and you have none… well… do the math!

Math governs the proportions and interactions of all objects, thoughts, and interactions. What is human attraction? Is she carrying TOO MANY pounds on her sides, have too many pimples, quantitatively talk too much, etc.?

• Rudy R

Math is used in philosophy as well. Think Bob really dropped the ball on this one.

• Grimlock

I reacted to the diagram too. Then I read the sentences below the diagram, and found them to provide some much needed nuance.

Though I don’t think the diagram is particularly helpful.

Oh, and I wouldn’t really draw an equivalence between war and number theory.

• Ignorant Amos

I seen it as the union of two sets. At least a kinda representation anyway.

https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/wp-content/uploads/Union-in-python.jpg

The math in the intersection is that which applies to everything in the blue part, the natural world elements listed, while still remaining part of the pink bit, math.

But then what do I know about such things, perhaps it’s use is directed at my ignorant self on such stuff?

• Politics is 100% math? Fascinating–tell me more.

• Jim Jones

> Christianity assures its flock that it’s doing important work as it pretends to answer science’s unresolved questions with the same mindless, one-size-fits-all answer.

So does Scientology, although I know of nothing useful it has ever done despite sucking enormous amounts of money from its followers.

• Michael Murray

Mind you there is one of my favourite sci-fi short stories in which mathematics is central

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

• Raging Bee

Oh that one. I used to be a fan of Clarke, but that one just got a big fat “meh.”

• Rudy R

Stating “god did it” is the equivalent of “pixie faeries did it.” Prove there is a god. But unfortunately, theists of the likes of skl, et al, would have you prove that pixie faeries don’t exist…oh wait a minute, that would be god.

• skl

He doesn’t care that whenever science has
found an explanation, it’s always natural. Science has accepted zero
supernatural explanations.
… Christianity assures its flock that it’s doing important
work as it pretends to answer science’s unresolved questions with the same
mindless, one-size-fits-all answer, but this is just god-of-the-gaps reasoning…Science can’t explain everything; therefore, God…

Whereas the atheist uses “nature-of-the-gaps” reasoning…Science can’t explain everything; therefore, “nature-did-it.” And maybe
nature made nature.

Everybody got gaps.

• sandy

No. Atheist says “I don’t know”. I think you have a huge gap…between the ears.

• skl

No. Atheist says “I don’t know”. I think you have a huge gap…between the ears.

No. An agnostic says “I don’t know”. An atheist says “I know it’s not god.”

Good night, big gapper.

• Michael Neville

No, you stupid Christian, we say “we don’t know” when we don’t know. It’s only Christians like you who claim to know all the answers.

• Doubting Thomas

Or we can just be honest and say we don’t know.

And I’ve never heard an atheist make such a dumb strawman claim as you presented. You should try to be honest too.

• skl

Or we can just be honest and say we don’t know.

An agnostic might say that.
But an atheist would say “I know it’s not god.”

• Michael Neville

Like many Christians, you don’t know the difference between atheists and agnostics. Agnosticism and the related gnosticism is about knowledge. Do I know if gods exist? No I don’t, which makes me an agnostic. Atheism is about belief. Do I believe that gods exist? No, I do not believe that any gods exist, which makes me an atheist.

After all the time you’ve spent on this blog I’d have thought you’d have come across the distinction between atheism and agnosticism before.

• Susan

you don’t know the difference between atheists and agnostics

Oh, he knows. He’s been told more than once. He just pretends he doesn’t.

This is skl we’re talking about.

• Michael Neville

You’re right, as usual. skl, the “skeptic” with an “open mind”, is just shit stirring.

• Greg G.

“Open mind” or “open head wound”?

• Susan

shit stirring

Upvoted not because I agree about the part about me usually being right. (Because I’m so not. I am struggling to understand most of the issues that come up here.) but because, yes, if there’s anything that is perfectly clear, it’s that skl’s only motivation is to stir shit.

I have no idea what his motivation is. But it’s obvious that his interest lies, not in having a discussion, but in inhibiting discussion.

He could just be a troll.

He could be a christian trying to piss off atheists so that he can cherrypick their eventual hostile reactions after many attempts at honest discussion and use that to perpetuate the “hostile, angry atheist meme” (not unlike he-who-must-not-be-named).

Whatever his motivation, he’s a thoroughly dishonest shit-disturber and nothing more.

He might just enjoy waggling his naked bum in our general direction.

But he’s an ass. A dishonest ass. An ass that contributes zero. And an ass that gains whatever he wants by taking advantage of the hard work people here try to do (especially Bob).

• skl

So you believe nature made nature. Fair enough.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Nope.

We don’t KNOW how it happened, yet.

Doesn’t mean any supernatural assertion can be stuck in to make somebody feel better.

• skl

We don’t KNOW how it happened, yet.

But you BELIEVE nature made nature.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

How do YOU know what I believe.

I DO know that there is has been NO valid evidence ever accepted for anything supernatural.

• Susan

you BELIEVE nature made nature

Everything we know about is part of what we call nature.

Everything in nature that we’ve figured out seems to be a result of something else in nature that we’ve figured out.

There is a long list of “supernatural” explanations that occupied gods-of-the-gaps that have fallen by the wayside as hard work and reliable methodologies study the problem.

e.g. lightning, earthquakes, volcanoes, the behaviour of celestial bodies,, disease, variation of species…

No supernatural explanation is coherent. The term “supernatural” isn’t even coherent.

It is not an explanation.

When it becomes one, get back to us.

Now, I will take a big breath and wait for you to respond with something insipid that completely dodges the points I’ve tried to make.

• Kit Hadley-Day

we don’t have to believe anything, we don’t know and would be interested in finding out, based on previous experience there is probably a very natural, if complex, answer and we won’t find a sky wizard waving a wand.

I mean according to you magic did it. which is far more unlikely than it was a naturally occurring event we currently don’t understand.

• skl

we don’t have to believe anything…

No, you have to believe ‘god-didn’t-do-it’.

• Raging Bee

Please at least TRY to learn the difference between “believe,” “observe,” and “conclude.” No, we don’t “believe god-didn’t-do-it,” we conclude that “goddidit” explanations simply don’t work, and aren’t based on any evidence, so we disregard them.

• Susan

Please at least TRY to learn

This is skl we’re talking about. He isn’t interested in learning. He brings these things up over and over and then ignores the answers.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Not quite.

We *can* NOT believe ”god’ did it’.

Not semantically equal.

• skl

Not quite.
We *can* NOT believe ”god’ did it’.

Not quite.
‘We *must* NOT believe ”god’ did it’…
where “We” be atheists.

• Greg G.

We are atheists because we do not see sufficient evidence to warrant a belief in gods.
It is not, “We are atheists therefore we do not see sufficient evidence to warrant a belief in gods.”

If presented with sufficient evidence for god thingies, we would stop being atheists.

• skl

IOW, a true atheist could sincerely say
“We *can* believe ”god did it.”

• Greg G.

We are capable of believing anything with sufficient evidence but we do not believe in god thingies. If an atheist starts believing in god thingies, they are no longer an atheist. That person doesn’t disappear, just one aspect changes. A person walking to where their car is parked is a pedestrian. When that person gets in the car, they are no longer a pedestrian.

Sometimes I think you fall down stairs and wonder what all that noise was.

• Yeah? Show me that in the Atheism Manual.

Moron.

• Ignorant Amos

You insult us morons, everywhere….he’s an idiot.

Can ya tell it’s 02:45 hrs and I’m on one?….Yet?

• Kit Hadley-Day

Nope, i am reserving judgement on the matter, but until there is solid evidence i will continue to operate as if the cause was a natural (for some definition of the word) event and not an immortal sky wizard, based on the utter lack of evidence of any sky wizards, and all the times we have found natural causes to things, please refrain from trying to read my mind, you are clearly not very good at it.

• Joe

No. Chemistry formed nature.

• skl

So you believe chemicals and chemistry are not part of nature.

• Joe

They are part of nature. It’s not a matter of belief.

• skl

So you believe nature made nature.

• Joe

No.

Are you defining non nature as nature? Of course you are, it’s what you do.

And why do you keep saying “made”?

• skl

So you believe nature formed nature.

• Joe

No. Chemicals formed nature.

• skl

But you said chemicals are part of nature.
So you believe part of nature formed all of nature.

• Joe

Yes. Much like Lego sculptures are formed entirely from Lego. Or a cake is comprised of the ingredients that make up a cake. That shouldn’t surprise you, so why are you asking these questions that a five-year-old should know?

• skl

Legos are formed by a company in Denmark, cakes are formed
by bakers. But you believe nature is formed by nature.

• Joe

No, I believe it’s formed by magic pixies. But don’t ask me to prove it, because I will just avoid the question.

• Kit Hadley-Day

i have explained it to him more than once, he is either too stupid or to biased to process the information

• Ignorant Amos

A dichotomy I’m not prepared to grant you am afraid…the feckin’ arsehole is both and more. };O)~

• Doubting Thomas

And once again the “I’m not a Christian” guy uses another dumb Christian argument.

• Susan

another dumb Christian argument

He’s been doing it for at least a couple of years now. He recycles the same crap

“Why doesn’t Bob write about other stuff?”

“Maybe if you disproved the resurrection.”

It’s not the first time he’s intentionally tried to contrast atheist and agnostic.

And other hits.

He never acknowledges the answers. Ever. He just starts up again.

His purpose is to shit disturb and nothing else.

He’s a disingenous weasel and a liar.

I wish Bob would ban him. He’s never contributed a single thing to discussion.

And he clogs up discussion.

• Doubting Thomas

He is annoying and laughably repetitive with his Christian tropes. But on the upside, he is fun to mock.

• Kit Hadley-Day

an activity that gives me a few seconds fun while waiting for code to run

• Michael Murray

I was about to reply but you’ve talked me out of it. Thanks Susan 🙂

• Doubting Thomas

And I consider myself a gnostic atheist and I say “I don’t know” to any of our current knowledge gaps. You’re just not very good at telling people what they think.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Agnostic-Gnostic is one axis.
Theist-Atheist is another axis.

One can be both agnostic and atheist.

You’re conflating ANTI-theist with atheist.

• Joe

There’s no nature of the gaps.

Preference to assume natural rather than supernatural explanations is built on observations from the entirety of human existence.

• Damien Priestly

No, scientists are happy to say “We don’t know”…then investigate, not speculate like WLC.

• skl

I wasn’t talking about scientists.

• Kit Hadley-Day

sorry you are saying that people that don’t believe in god refuse to accept ‘god did it’ as an explanation, well that’s a self evident statement, but barely worth committing to ink (or bits in this case)

• Damien Priestly

No, you were! You mentioned science. Atheists say the same thing, ‘I don’t know”. Theists just make stuff up…that they hope is true.

• Kit Hadley-Day

hardly, materialists say ‘we don’t know’ and ‘ i wonder why that is’ a gap to a scientist is a chance to expand knowledge, a gap to a theist is a place to hide an all powerful deity.

Also until we have some evidence of the sky wizard, the ‘we don’t know but based on previous experience it has a natural, not supernatural explanation’ is just a reasonable exercise of Occam’s razor.

• Otto

Nature exists….now show that God does. That would at least be a start.

• Science can’t explain everything; therefore, “nature-did-it.”

Citation needed.

• skl

Science can’t explain everything; therefore, “nature-did-it.”

Citation needed.

To be clear, I wasn’t presenting science’s view but rather the atheist’s
view. The full thought was intended as ‘The atheist uses
“nature-of-the-gaps” reasoning; if science can’t explain a cause or phenomenon,
the atheist assumes “nature-did-it.”’

Science is in the business of observing, testing, understanding natural phenomena.
Atheism is in the business of believing there is nothing but natural phenomena.

If those last two sentences are wrong, I’d appreciate citations showing them
to be wrong.

• epeeist

To be clear, I wasn’t presenting science’s view but rather the my straw atheist’s view.

FIFY

• Ignorant Amos

To be clear, I wasn’t presenting science’s view but rather the atheist’s view.

So in other words, this is your view…giving that you claim to be an atheist?

The full thought was intended as ‘The atheist uses “nature-of-the-gaps” reasoning; if science can’t explain a cause or phenomenon, the atheist assumes “nature-did-it.”’

Nope. The rational atheist says “I don’t know” to questions that have to have an “I don’t know” answer. That doesn’t prevent the speculation that whenever the “I don’t know” question is eventually answered, that answer will be one grounded in the natural world and not the supernatural. Nothing in the history of our species has been discovered to have had a supernatural conclusion. Not a thing, nil, nought, nadda, zip, zero, zilch. So with that in mind, I have a reasonable expectation that all things being equal, nature-did-it will have an extremely high probability of being the correct conclusion to any given hypothesis.

Atheism is in the business of believing there is nothing but natural phenomena.

Is that what you believe? Is that what you believe atheism is in the business of believing? You are a dopey Dime Bar.

• Greg G.

Atheism is in the business of believing there is nothing but natural phenomena.

Atheism is in the business of not believing in gods without sufficient evidence of such a thing. When there is sufficient evidence of such a thing, the ex-atheist will be in the business of believing god thingies exist.

• To be clear, I wasn’t presenting science’s view but rather the atheist’s
view.

Oh, that’s right. I forgot that you’re an atheist, kind of. My bad, but in your case it’s so easy to forget.

The full thought was intended as

No, you weren’t brief so much as wrong. But nice try.

Atheism is in the business of believing there is nothing but natural phenomena.

That’s cute, but you should probably avoid making declarative statements. Atheism is the lack of a god belief.

• skl

Oh, that’s right. I forgot that you’re an atheist, kind of. My bad, but in your case it’s so easy to forget.

I don’t know why you’d forget. I’ve never claimed to be an atheist, and on multiple occasions I’ve explicitly stated that I am not an atheist. I’m just non-religious.

• You say po-TAY-to and I say po-TAH-to.

Maybe the problem is that I just need to pay more attention to your stuff.

• Interestingly, some theists will say that God is bound by logical and mathematical truths such as 2+2 equals 4. So they would agree with you to that extent.

Side note: the Augustine quote appears to be dubious. It seems he meant astrologers or numerologists, rather than mathematicians, who at the time also made “predictions” based on the stars that he considered demonic or Satanic in origin.

• I Came To Bring The Paine

Interestingly, some theists will say that God is bound by logical and
mathematical truths such as 2+2 equals 4.

Except when God is not bound by logical and mathematical truths such as the supernatural, miracles, virgin birth, resurrections, etc.

• Well yes, the Incarnation and Trinity, along with properties of God, are self-contradictory. They seem to forget that.

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

here again a few quotes from wigner’s paper “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” (mentioned in the first part) i think might be interesting:

“The world around us is of baffling complexity and the most obvious fact about it is that we cannot predict the future. […] It is, as Schrodinger has remarked, a miracle that in spite of the baffling complexity of the world, certain regularities in the events could be discovered. One such regularity, discovered by Galileo, is that two rocks, dropped at the same time from the same height, reach the ground at the same time. The laws of nature are concerned with such regularities. Galileo’s regularity is a prototype of a large class of regularities.”

“However, the point which is most significant in the present context is that all these laws of nature contain, in even their remotest consequences, only a small part of our knowledge of the inanimate world. All the laws of nature are conditional statements which permit a prediction of some future events on the basis of the knowledge of the present, except that some aspects of the present state of the world, in practice the overwhelming majority of the determinants of the present state of the world, are irrelevant from the point of view of the prediction.”

“The principal purpose of the preceding discussion is to point out that the laws of nature are all conditional statements and they relate only to a very small part of our knowledge of the world. Thus, classical mechanics, which is the best known prototype of a physical theory, gives the second derivatives of the positional coordinates of all bodies, on the basis of the knowledge of the positions, etc., of these bodies. It gives no information on the existence, the present positions, or velocities of these bodies.”

“It is true, of course, that physics chooses certain mathematical concepts for the formulation of the laws of nature, and surely only a fraction of all mathematical concepts is used in physics. It is true also that the concepts which were chosen were not selected arbitrarily from a listing of mathematical terms but were developed, in many if not most cases, independently by the physicist and recognized then as having been conceived before by the mathematician. It is not true, however, as is so often stated, that this had to happen because mathematics uses the simplest possible concepts and these were bound to occur in any formalism. As we saw before, the concepts of mathematics are not chosen for their conceptual simplicity even sequences of pairs of numbers are far from being the simplest concepts but for their amenability to clever manipulations and to striking, brilliant arguments.”

“Mathematics would soon run out of interesting theorems if these had to be formulated in terms of the concepts which already appear in the axioms. Furthermore, whereas it is unquestionably true that the concepts of elementary mathematics and particularly elementary geometry were formulated to describe entities which are directly suggested by the actual world, the same does not seem to be true of the more advanced concepts, in particular the concepts which play such an important role in physics.”

“The great mathematician fully, almost ruthlessly, exploits the domain of permissible reasoning and skirts the impermissible. That his recklessness does not lead him into a morass of contradictions is a miracle in itself: certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess. However, this is not our present subject.”

• hrurahaalm

The great mathematician fully, almost ruthlessly, exploits the domain of permissible reasoning and skirts the impermissible. That his recklessness does not lead him into a morass of contradictions is a miracle in itself: certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.

It is not hard to believe at all. Our reasoning power is highly flawed, and in fact usually seems to be wrong when we can’t test our reasoning against experience (as we have tested Darwin’s theory of evolution). That’s the whole point of science.

In the specific instance of mathematical set theory, which seems like one of the fields most separated from experience, we find that Cantor’s “recklessness,” or more accurately his religious attitude towards the Infinite, did in fact “lead him into a morass of contradictions” which later thinkers had to carefully remove. Our current trust in the self-consistency of the theory is largely based on long experience with using the modified version. Wigner should have known this.

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

yes, cantor famously had a “religious attitude towards the infinite,” but he was far less reckless as a mathematician than you seem to think, especially if you look at his math with a modern attitude. the generality and very abstract nature of his set theory was not easy to accept. now we grow up with it, so to speak (with nice axioms, rigorous definitions and all that). still, i think cantor is a nice example of the kind of “great mathematician” wigner is talking about (another mathematician i thought of, who arguably fits the description, is euler).

cantor’s set theory is often described as naive (naive set theory), mainly to contrast it with axiomatic set theories like ZFC, but this doesn’t mean cantor himself was naive about it, especially not about contradictions. if you ignore his attempts to interpret his math in theological terms, then it’s, well, just math.

one notable example of this you can find on the wikipedia page about “the absolute infinite” (wikipedia – absolute infinite). in a letter to dedekind he proves that the well-ordered “multiplicity” of all ordinal numbers is not a “consistent multiplicity” (“The system Omega of all numbers is an inconsistent, absolutely infinite multiplicity.”). this is already pretty close to the more modern distinction between sets and classes. another related example is cantor’s paradox (wikipedia – cantor’s paradox), which is about the class of all cardinal numbers.

… mathematical set theory, which seems like one of the fields most separated from experience.

well, one of cantor’s original motivations for set theory, transfinite ordinal numbers in particular, was a question in analysis (which itself is very much motivated by “experience”):

“Beweis, dass eine für jeden reellen Werth von x durch eine trigonometrische Reihe gegebene Function f(x) sich nur auf eine einzige Weise in dieser Form darstellen lässt.”, Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik, volume 72, 1870.

“Ueber die Ausdehnung eines Satzes aus der Theorie der trigonometrischen Reihen.”, Mathematische Annalen, volume 5, 1872.

this led to the notion of a derived set, for example (wikipedia – derived set).

it’s also interesting to remember why zermelo found it necessary to introduce his axioms for set theory (the axiom of choice in particular). one reason was to make his proof of cantor’s “well-ordering principle” more precise (first cantor thought of this principle as a “law of thought”. later he also tried to prove it):

“Beweis, daß jede Menge wohlgeordnet werden kann. (Aus einem an Herrn Hilbert gerichteten Briefe)”, Mathematische Annalen, volume 59, 1904

“Neuer Beweis für die Möglichkeit einer Wohlordnung”, Mathematische Annalen, volume 65, 1908 (in the same volume, in the next issue, you find zermlo’s paper “Untersuchungen über die Grundlagen der Mengenlehre.”, where he presents his axioms of set theory).

in this paper he also talks about some of the criticisms of his 1904 proof (in “§ 2. Diskussion der Einwände gegen den früheren Beweis.”)

• hrurahaalm

Sidenote: I don’t really know that concepts in physics Wigner could be referring to here. If he means imaginary or complex numbers, their coherence is easily proven starting from that of the real numbers (ie, geometry plus counting) if we accept a small part of set theory. As far as that goes, see my sibling comment.

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

i don’t think wigner questions the consistency/coherence of complex numbers or any other mathematical concept he mentions (i didn’t quoted the whole text, obviously):

“The complex numbers provide a particularly striking example for the foregoing. Certainly, nothing in our experience suggests the introduction of these quantities. Indeed, if a mathematician is asked to justify his interest in complex numbers, he will point, with some indignation, to the many beautiful theorems in the theory of equations, of power series, and of analytic functions in general, which owe their origin to the introduction of complex numbers. The mathematician is not willing to give up his interest in these most beautiful accomplishments of his genius.”

yes, the complex numbers can easily be defined, with hindsight. there are a few possibilities: as pairs of real numbers, as 2×2 matrices, as equivalence classes of real polynomials (see wikipedia). even so, neither these constructions, nor original discovery of complex numbers by cardano (“… theorems in the theory of equations …”) suggest or suggested their applicability and use in physics (the same with the algebraic concept of groups, incidentally).

• hrurahaalm

You can largely assume I already know anything you want to post unless it’s literally in German.

The problem that should concern Wigner is the fact that evolution did not select for reliability in human thinking, except insofar as it helped reproductive fitness in some ancestral environment. Any mental process not used to anticipate the future (or govern behavior) in a past environment might as well be garbage, for all that evolution would do about it. Proving consistency, for a fairy-tale cloud-castle that we humans just made up, seems like the hard part. (We might also want to prove that some of its models are standard ones, with no extra integers or the like. Of course this follows at once if we base a model of complex arithmetic on the standard reals.) Once we’ve established that this difficult-to-prove quality follows from the trustworthiness of practical reasoning, according to more-or-less trustworthy tested reasoning, why would you be surprised to find that we can use the new abstraction in physics? The whole point of abstractions is that they could apply to many things.

As far as the real number line goes, you’re mainly talking about theorems we can prove by applying infinite set theory (a fairy-tale product of a deranged mind) to real arithmetic (a formalization of the way we reason about the space between a spear and an animal). The only property of set theory that I think we can actually test is consistency. Any conclusions that don’t follow from that (by somewhat practical reasoning) should maybe be taken with a grain of salt.

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

… unless it’s literally in German.

i’m sure there are translations of zermelo’s and cantor’s papers.

As far as the real number line goes, you’re mainly talking about theorems we can prove by applying infinite set theory (a fairy-tale product of a deranged mind) to real arithmetic (a formalization of the way we reason about the space between a spear and an animal).

before cantor, dedekind and others introduced “real arithmetic” properly, we used euclidean geometry to “reason about the space between a spear and an animal”, yes. it was also a source of mathematical problems and the attempts to solve them led to the development of analysis, the real numbers, algebra, and ultimately set theory.

in his 1872 paper “Über die Ausdehnung eines Satzes aus der Theorie der trigonometrischen Reihen” cantor introduces/defines the real numbers as “equivalence classes of sequences of rational numbers,” effectively (he just didn’t used the word “equivalence class” or any well-developed set theory). he was careful to distinguish his “numerical quantities in any further sense” from the points on a line (he stated it as an axiom that there is a one-to-one correspondence between his “numerical quantities” and the points on a line). why did he did all that? to discuss the infinitude/transcendent nature of god? no. he did it for far more mundane mathematical (not philosophical/theological) reasons: to extend an earlier result of his about the uniqueness of trigonometric series. this led him to consider infinite point sets very unlike the the kind of point sets you’d consider in geometry. here a maa article about this paper: “georg cantor at the dawn of point-set topology”.

… by applying infinite set theory (a fairy-tale product of a deranged mind) …

cantor? yes, cantor famously had mental health problems (depression, apparently), and maybe the reception of his mathematical work partly exacerbated it, but this is irrelevant to judging his mathematical work.

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

by applying infinite set theory (a fairy-tale product of a deranged mind) to real arithmetic (a formalization of the way we reason about the space between a spear and an animal).

here what dedekind had to say about relationship of “real arithmetic” and “real” space (in his essay “continuity and irrational numbers”):

“To this i may say that I am glad if every one find the above principle so obvious and so in harmony with his own ideas of a line; for I am utterly unable to adduce any proof of its correctness, nor has any one the power. The assumption of this property of the line is nothing else than an axiom by which we attribute to the line its continuity, by which we find continuity in the line. If space has at all real existence its is not necessary for it to be continuous; many of its properties would remain the same even were it discontinuous. And if we knew for certain that space was discontinuous there would be nothing to prevent us, in case we so desired, from filling up its gaps, in thought, and thus making it continuous; this filling up would consist in a creation of new point-individuals and would have to be effected in accordance with the above principle.”

beforehand, he describes the introduction of new kinds of numbers as a creative act by the human mind, starting with the “simplest artithmetical act” of counting.

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

… their coherence is easily proven starting from that of the real numbers (ie, geometry plus counting) …

geometry? ok (i think …) counting? ok. the real numbers? hm, about that see this nice post on “math with bad drawings:” why the number line freaks me out.

• Joslyn Renfrey

As a mathematician, WLC should know how much hard work people had put in to make mathematics useful for everyday work. To say that this utility was granted to us from on high is an insult to the important work of mathematicians of the last 10,000 years.

• Michael Murray

I thought WLC was a philosopher and theologian ?

• Joslyn Renfrey

Oh, seems I was wrong. I thought he studied mathematics at university.

• Greg G.

I thought you were saying, “As a mathematician, WLC is a pretty good religious apologist.”

• Joslyn Renfrey

I like the implication that its in spite of his education, -that he’s a good apologist.

• Greg G.

Several years ago, I saw an argument on his site on the Euthyphro dilemma, but despite multiple advanced degrees, he misquoted it and argued against a strawman. I couldn’t find it later so somebody might have point that out to him.

Here’s one I enjoy pointing out:

At http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-god-exist-1 , William Lane Craig says,

“Alvin Plantinga, one of the world’s leading philosophers, has laid out two dozen or so arguments for God’s existence. Together these constitute a powerful cumulative case for the existence of God.”

If there was one successful argument for God’s existence, Craig would cite that one. It seems to me that the cumulative weight of the failures of the two dozen or so best arguments for the existence of God is a powerful case for the non-existence of God.

• sandy

Reading that article made my head hurt. Really like your last paragraph. I am going to use that if you don’t mind.

• Greg G.

OK, just send me a dollar every time you use it. 8o)

• Susan

It seems to me that the cumulative weight of the failures of the two dozen or so best arguments for the existence of God is a powerful case for the non-existence of God.

A while back, someone on this site (I regret that I forget who) used the example of giving a loan officer two dozen bad arguments for authorizing your loan.

(Was it @michaelneville:disqus?)

• Greg G.

I don’t think I saw that one but thank you for bringing to my attention. That is good.

I applied for a job but the guy said he didn’t have enough work to hire another person. I said, “That shouldn’t be a problem, you probably won’t notice the amount of work I do, anyway.”

“I work hardly.”

• Michael Neville

I don’t remember making that analogy but it is good.

• Joslyn Renfrey

I mean, my favorite case against god’s existence is that god gets used as an instrument to command obedience from the most vulnerable people for purposes of sexual molestation and as an instrument to beat down gays and transes. I know its an emotive argument, but maybe most of us aren’t sociopaths weighing our options on uncaring scales.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

It seems to me that the cumulative weight of the failures of the two dozen or so best arguments for the existence of God is a powerful case for the non-existence of God.

Adding up zeroes and expecting to get to One.

• Ignorant Amos

Ditto.

• Polytropos

Huh, so that’s where The Simpsons got that reference. Anyway, this claim from WLC is bizzarre. Math is math. If simple math doesn’t require god, complex math doesn’t either. In fact, call me a cynic but I think the whole point of this argument is not to prove complex math requires god, but for WLC to give himself an opportunity to say “Aha! You can’t explain it, so it must be god!” WLC knows most people don’t understand complex mathematical models and even those who do can’t usually explain them in a simple sound bite. He doesn’t need to be aware of the problem with this approach, because the vast majority of his audience isn’t aware of it.

• Pofarmer

I’m pretty sure that Craig doesn’t understand complex mathematical models, either. At least he gives no indication that he does.

• WLC has made an odd world for himself. He looks around, not for evidence for God, but for a way to dupe his followers.

• JustAnotherAtheist2

Craig demands an explanation because that’s where he imagines his advantage lies. He’s got an explanation, pathetic though it is, which is more than the other side has.

He has an hypothesis…. maybe. Proper characterization goes a long way toward illustrating the feebleness of his offering.

He doesn’t care that whenever science has found an explanation, it’s always natural. Science has accepted zero supernatural explanations.

I’m still waiting for a definition of “supernatural” that isn’t either:

A. An argument from ignorance in word form.
B. Merely a linguistic distinction that presents none of the bias issues theists complain about.

Good stuff, Bob.

• Ficino

Do we get to blame God for “fuzzy math”?

And do I remember correctly when I think that Thomist apologists like Edward Feser contend that intellectual activity in Western Europe all started going downhill when our ways of talking about nature shifted from Aristotle’s qualitative language of act, potency and form/matter, to the language of maths? Of course, Craig is no Thomist…

• epeeist

A long while back we had a Thomist here who essentially claimed the same thing. I gave him a couple of problems (throwing a rock at a certain angle with a certain force and asking when it would hit the ground; a simple problem in chemical reaction kinetics) and asked him how he would formulate these in Aristotelian terms.

Strangely enough he departed shortly afterwards…

• I Came To Bring The Paine

The hard-hitting Thomists would then accuse you of “Scientism” by appealing to physics when Thomism is all metaphysics. But then we also have to remind them that metaphysics is tied to physics and metaphysics that is divorced from physics is indistinguishable from fantasy and the imaginary.

• Ignorant Amos

Seen enough A/T mental masturbation over at Strange Notions to last another lifetime.

• Pofarmer

NO, no, no, it’s based in LOGIC, so it’s all good. It’s truly fundamental belief.

• ThaneOfDrones

Another bump in the road to math’s “uncanny effectiveness” are Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, which argue that finding a complete and consistent set of axioms for all mathematics is impossible.

As I mentioned previously, I am reading Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty (by Morris Kline. 2011 edition, 978-1435136069). I am now about 100 pages in. The incompleteness theorems of 1931 were the capstone of the loss of certainty, but the doubts started over a century earlier, with the development of non-Euclidean geometry. This was started off by the discovery that replacing Euclid’s fifth postulate with something different still led to consistent mathematical systems which could in fact describe the physical world.

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Spherical and hyperbolic geometries?

• ThaneOfDrones

ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE FOLLOWING THE LINK? DO YOU NEED INTERWEBS ASSISTANCE?

• HairyEyedWordBombThrower

Strangely enough, it’s not presenting as a link for me?

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

spherical geometry is an interesting case. it’s an old, simple and useful example of a non-euclidean geometry. it wasn’t accepted or recognized as such for a long time (a bit ironic for something called *geo*metry). a few conceptual problems which weren’t easy to overcome are:

– one interprets *straight* lines as great *circles* (obviously ridiculous. we all know how *straight* lines look like …/s).

– an obvious model for spherical geometry is a sphere, but this sphere is still embedded in three-dimensional euclidean space, so you still can use/assume euclidean geometry.

– there are more than one “line”/great circles through two antipodal points (this can be fixed by “identifying” those antipodal points. this leads to *elliptic* geometry).

– if one uses so called absolute/neutral geometry (euclidean geometry without the parallel postulate) one can still prove the existence of parallel lines (just not uniqueness), but there are no parallel lines in spherical or elliptical geometry.

– the third postulate of euclid says that there are circles “with any center and radius.” spherical and elliptical geometries are “bounded”, so there aren’t arbitrarily big circles (if that’s how one understands “any radius”).

saccheri (correctly) excluded the spherical/elliptical case when trying to prove the parallel postulate. unfortuantely, he also thought hyperbolic geometry is contradictory (because, he thought, the consequences were too preposterous, see wikipedia: saccheri quadrilateral).

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

does he also mention “the analyst” by george berkeley? (edit: ah! there is a chapter titled “the illogical development: the morass of analysis” …)

(funny subtitle: “A DISCOURSE Addressed to an Infidel MATHEMATICIAN. WHEREIN It is examined whether the Object, Principles, and Inferences of the modern Analysis are more distinctly conceived, or more evidently deduced, than Religious Mysteries and Points of Faith”)

analysis is particularly interesting because it didn’t have a rigorous (or satisfying) foundation (by modern standards) for quite a while, produced some striking paradoxes or (apparent) contradictions, but nonetheless was (and is) pretty sucessful or useful in describing “the physical world” (one might say it was “unreasonably effective”).

btw, gödel’s incompleteness theorem doesn’t apply to all axiomatic systems. one example are tarski’s axioms for (a fragment of) euclidean geometry (see tarski’s axioms):

“This fact allowed Tarski to prove that Euclidean geometry is decidable: there exists an algorithm which can determine the truth or falsity of any sentence. Tarski’s axiomatization is also complete. This does not contradict Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem, because Tarski’s theory lacks the expressive power needed to interpret Robinson arithmetic (Franzén 2005, pp. 25–26).”

i don’t know if this makes me feel more or less certain about euclidean geometry, however.

… but the doubts started over a century earlier, …

yes, even before math developed far enough to discover/invent (and for mathematicians to recognize/accept) non-euclidean geometries:

“So in this case the fact that, when the right angles are lessened, the straight lines converge is true and necessary; but the statement that, since they converge more and more as they are produced, they will sometime meet is plausible but not necessary, in the absence of some argument showing that this is true in the case of straight lines. For the fact that some lines exist which approach indefinitely, but yet remain non-secant, although it seems improbable and paradoxical, is nevertheless true and fully ascertained with regard to other species of lines [for example curves like the hyperbola that has asymptotes]. May not then the same thing be possible in the case of straight lines that happens in the case of the lines referred to? Indeed, until the statement in the Postulate is clinched by proof, the facts shown in the case of other lines may direct our imagination the opposite way. And, though the controversial arguments against the meeting of the straight lines should contain much that is surprising, is there not all the more reason why we should expel from our body of doctrine this merely plausible and unreasoned (hypothesis)?” (proclus about the parallel postulate – link)

• ThaneOfDrones

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
Albert Fucking Einstein

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

this particular quote is from his talk “geometry and experience” (link). in this talk he distinguishes “practical geometry” and “purely axiomatic geometry”:

“Geometry thus completed is evidently a natural science; we may in fact regard it as the most ancient branch of physics. Its affirmations rest essentially on induction from experience, but not on logical inferences only. We will call this completed geometry “practical geometry,” and shall distinguish it in what follows from “purely axiomatic geometry.” The question whether the practical geometry of the universe is Euclidean or not has a clear meaning, and its answer can only be furnished by experience. All linear measurement in physics is practical geometry in this sense, so too is geodetic and astronomical linear measurement, if we call to our help the law of experience that light is propagated in a straight line, and indeed in a straight line in the sense of practical geometry.

I attach special importance to the view of geometry which I have just set forth, because without it I should have been unable to formulate the theory of relativiy.”

also einstein (in another lecture):

“If, then, it is true that the axiomatic foundation of theoretical physics cannot be extracted from experience but must be freely invented, may we ever hope to find the right way? Furthermore, does this right way exist anywhere other than in our illusions? May we hope to be guided safely by experience at all, if there exist theories (such as classical mechanics) which to a large extent do justice to experience, without comprehending the matter in a deep way?

To these questions, I answer with complete confidence, that, in my opinion, the right way exists, and that we are capable of finding it. Our experience hitherto justifies us in trusting that nature is the realization of the simplest that is mathematically conceivable. I am convinced that purely mathematical construction enables us to find those concepts and those lawlike connections between them that provide the key to the understanding of natural phenomena. Useful mathematical concepts may well be suggested by experience, but in no way can they be derived from it. Experience naturally remains the sole criterion of the usefulness of a mathematical construction for physics. But the actual creative principle lies in mathematics. Thus, in a certain sense, I take it to be true that pure thought can grasp the real, as the ancients had dreamed.” (quote from his 1933 herbert spencer lecture, see sep – einstein’s philosophy of science)

• hrurahaalm

As soon as I saw “William Lane Craig,” I knew I’d have to make his argument for him.

There’s a theory called Tegmark IV. It’s also sometimes called the Mathematical Macrocosm Hypothesis (by me, since I hate the word “multiverse”). It says you’re the same type of object as the number 4. Not only do we live inside a mathematical object defined by the laws of physics, the theory goes, but all mathematical objects are real in exactly the same way. There would be an alternate universe where you live to the age of 50 and then your clothes are suddenly replaced by a crocodile, since in principle this could have a mathematical description – more on that in a second.

Tegmark IV tries to do away with the idea of a magical reality fluid, so to speak, that adheres more to one mathematical assumption than to another. I would not say it succeeds. Naively, there would be no end of places to insert crocodiles – given some physical laws with no discontinuities like that, we should always be able to add discontinuities and have another valid set of mathematical axioms. Then we could keep doing that. Naively, a random observer inside the Mathematical Macrocosm would likely observe many discontinuous crocodiles. I do have to add that we’re somewhat confused about how to assign probabilities in a case like Tegmark IV, so perhaps when we clear up the confusion we’ll find Tegmark was right all along. However, I think his theory will turn out to be instructively wrong.

Now, the apparent failure of Tegmark IV seems like the best argument for a creator God that I can think of. Except, if we actually saw crocs popping in and out of existence, people would unquestionably use that as evidence for God as well. You can’t get evidence for the same theory both by the occurrence of an event and its absence. So this example all by itself would suffice to show that humans tend to see human-like minds everywhere, whether these exist or not. It shows that we have an irrational tendency toward anthropomorphism and should regard any vaguely anthropomorphic theory with suspicion. Once we start doing that, we find that croc-free mathematical laws are just not a prediction of the God Hypothesis. We know this because for a long time, from the start of the Dark Ages through Thomas Aquinas, a lot of smart people thought about God and the implications thereof for much of their lives. Not a one of them predicted mathematically ‘simple’ laws of physics in the sense that we find today. (Amusingly, the closest match might be Descartes with his strict materialism.) Naively, we’d expect that a human-like Creator would make physical laws that mentioned humans, and these would be wildly complicated and discontinuous if they also had to talk about fundamental particles. So croc-free simplicity is just not something an unbiased person would say follows from God. WLC is trying to shove his God in every hole without asking if it fits or explains anything.

• martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

tegmark addresses this kind of criticism of his idea in his 2007 paper “the mathematical universe” (arxiv: 0704.0646), section V, “D. The ‘anything goes’ critique”.

“The MUH and the Level IV multiverse idea does certainly not imply that all imaginable universes exist. We humans can imagine many things that are mathematically undefined and hence do not correspond to mathematical structures.”

“A closely related misconception relates to the issue of ‘baggage’ described in Section II B. If a mathematical structure is objects with relations between them, then is not any theory a mathematical structure? The answer is no: unless it can be defined in the form specified in Appendix A, with tableaus or algorithms explicitly defining all relations, it is not a mathematical structure. Consider the proposition ‘God created Adam and Eve’, where there are entities ‘God’, ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ linked by a relation denoted ‘created’. When we humans read this proposition, words like ‘God’ come with baggage, i.e., additional properties and connotations not explicitly spelled out.”

… given some physical laws with no discontinuities like that, we should always be able to add discontinuities and have another valid set of mathematical axioms.

in chapter VII tegmark also introduces his “computable universe hypothesis” (CUH) and in section VII D, “levels of mathematical reality”, he explicitly asks how “well-defined mathematical structures need to be to be real, i.e., members of the level IV multiverse”, so he doesn’t necessarily think that any “valid set of mathematical axioms” will do, like the axioms describing the real numbers. about that he says (in section VII F):

“However, my guess is that if the CUH turns out to be correct, it will instead be because the rest of the mathematical landscape was a mere illusion, fundamentally undefined and simply not existing in any meaningful sense.”

“A more immediate challenge is that virtually all historically successful theories of physics violate the CUH, and that it is far from obvious whether a viable computable alternative exists. The main source of CUH violation comes from incorporating the continuum, usually in the form of real or complex numbers, which cannot even comprise the input to a finite computation since they generically require infinitely many bits to specify. Even approaches attempting to banish the classical spacetime continuum by discretizing or quantizing it tend to maintain continuous variables in other aspects of the theory such as field strengths or wave function amplitudes.”

in some sense he does want “discontinuities”, but not to replace clothes by crocodiles.

• hrurahaalm

The reason I care about Tegmark IV is that it holds out hope of removing the need for a magical reality fluid, attaching more to one mathematical system than another. Starting by eliminating “the rest of the mathematical landscape” does not convince me. (Yes, I’m aware this sits uneasily with my other comment just now.) It will definitely convince zero of the critics who started out more resistant to being called mathematical objects.

• hrurahaalm

Oh, I should also note that the difficult part in describing a Law of Crocodiles seems to be describing a crocodile and a particular person in terms of fundamental particles or similar. Otherwise, writing an algorithm to output a croc at the proper time seems trivial.