Who Has the Burden of Proof? Apparently Not the Christian. (4 of 4)

Who Has the Burden of Proof? Apparently Not the Christian. (4 of 4) January 24, 2020

We started with a couple of arguments from popular Christian apologists with an evasive approach to the burden of proof in part 1.

Reevaluating the strategy

Returning to apologist Greg Koukl’s “Professor’s Ploy” in part 1, note that he wasn’t making a claim of parity. He wasn’t saying, “My God hypothesis is in the running just as much as a naturalistic explanation, and I demand a seat in this debate as an equal.” That would be bold enough. No, he was going further by taking the role of the Socratic questioner, assuming that he was right and guiding the student (the professor, in his example) through a pre-planned series of questions to a predetermined conclusion.

To the extent that Koukl’s goal is to help inexperienced Christians ease into the intimidating world of public speaking and debate with antagonistic strangers, that’s fine. He encourages them to ask questions to learn, to admit when a topic is new to them, and to ask permission to respond to the atheist after some research. However, his tactics go too far when he ignores that the atheist is defending the default hypothesis (naturalism) and that the Christian is making the extraordinary claim, which must be defended. Attack has its place, but that’s subordinate to making and defending the Christian claim. And, of course, his goal isn’t to follow the evidence, it’s to support a predetermined conclusion.

(In case it’s not obvious, I do want to follow the evidence. Atheism is my provisional conclusion, but evidence could change that. If atheism is incorrect, I want to find the evidence that shows this.)

We’ve seen the same contempt for honest debate with Koukl’s metaphor of arguments committing suicide by being self-defeating. Here’s an example: if I said, “I’m offended at Christians condemning homosexuals; in fact, I think it’s wrong to condemn anyone for anything,” he could reply, “Then you shouldn’t be condemning me.” Or if I said, “There are no absolutes,” he could reply, “You might want to reconsider your position because that certainly sounded like an absolute.” Many of these “suicides” are easily corrected, but Koukl has no interest in engaging with the valid points at the core of any opponent’s argument. He just wants a technicality with which to dismiss it. (More here.)

Clumsy reversal of the burden of proof: more examples

Here are two more quick examples that illustrate the wrong approach to the burden of proof. These have nothing to do with religion, so both Christians and atheists should be able to see the flawed thinking without distraction.

Beginning in the 1970s, psychic Uri Geller claimed to be able to perform a number of impressive feats, most famously bending spoons with his mind. While these were part of the standard repertoire of stage magicians, Geller claimed to be able to do them with paranormal powers given to him by aliens, not with stage magic.

Magician and psychic debunker James Randi publicly showed that he could duplicate all of Geller’s tricks. Geller admitted that but said that just because Randi could do his tricks with fakery (like any stage magician would) didn’t mean that Geller wasn’t doing it for real. Randi replied, “If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine powers, then he’s doing it the hard way.”

Let’s map this onto Christianity. It’s true that just because Christianity arose from a region in the world at the crossroads of cultures with religious dogma including supernatural births, dying-and-rising gods, and other miracles familiar to Christians, that doesn’t mean that Christianity’s stories about Jesus’s virgin birth and resurrection weren’t real. Just because Christianity looks like just another religion, and we toss all those other religions into the bin labeled Legend and Mythology, that doesn’t mean that Christianity isn’t the real deal.

We can’t prove that Christianity is just one more manmade religion, and we can’t prove that Uri Geller uses trickery to bend spoons, but in both cases, that’s the way to bet. (More on Uri Geller here.)

Here’s an example from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the inventor of the ruthlessly empirical detective Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle was fascinated with spiritualism, and he discussed this interest with illusionist Harry Houdini. Each was an expert in deception in his own way, but curiously, they were on opposite sides of the spiritualism question. Deaths of people close to Conan Doyle pushed him to see spiritualism as a legitimate way to contact the dead, while Houdini spent much of his life debunking the spiritualist Uri Gellers of his day. Houdini encouraged Conan Doyle to reject spiritualism, pointing out that all his stagecraft was deception.

After Houdini’s death in 1926, Conan Doyle wrote a book about spiritualism. Without Houdini to refute him, the book included a chapter summarizing Houdini’s feats. In it, Conan Doyle argued that Houdini used supernatural powers but lied about it. He said,

Can any reasonable man read such an account as this and then dismiss the possibility which I suggest as fantastic? It seems to me that the fantasy lies in refusing its serious consideration. . . . As matters stand, no one can say positively and finally that his powers were abnormal, but the reader will, I hope, agree with me that there is a case to be answered.

(More on Conan Doyle and Houdini here.)

Closing thoughts

The person making the extraordinary claim has the burden of proof. If I claim there’s a teapot orbiting the sun or that pixies and unicorns exist or that we’re living in the Matrix or that our world came into existence last Thursday, I would have the burden of proof.

There’s another definition of “burden of proof”—the obligation someone has to defend a statement they made—and that’s fair, but keep these two definitions separate. Don’t let this definition allow the person making the Christian claim to demand any sort of parity. There is no parity between the extraordinary claim (the theist’s position) and the default hypothesis (the atheist position). The theist is starting at a deficit—don’t let them forget that.

He’s not the Messiah,
he’s a very naughty boy!
— Brian’s mum
(Monty Python co-founder Terry Jones)

.

Image from Mariam Shahab, CC license

.

"I am saying that God considered something else far more important. More/less important is just ..."

God Has 2 Heels, and They’re ..."
"I like the variety of Gospels of Peter mentioned in Bart Ehrman's Forged."

Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid #50: ..."
"No omniscient god would create a Bible with contradictions of any sort...Hey, omniscient doesn't mean ..."

Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid #50: ..."
"Ehh, I'm always dubious about the assignment of religious meaning to old structures. I'd just ..."

More on the Bible’s Confused Relationship ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


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

    He’s still around.

    Uri Geller offers UK his ‘psychic powers’ in job bid (AFP, 8 January 2020, 2:45 pm)

  • eric

    Arthur Conan Doyle was also taken in by the Cottingley Fairies, magazine cut-outs that two girls hung in their garden and then took photographs of. He thought they were real.

    What should we draw from this? That being a great writer of detective stories means you are a great…writer. Not necessarily a great detective. A lesson that applies equally well to all sorts of famous people branching outside their area of expertise (Gwyneth, I’m looking at you).

    • Ignorant Amos

      Doyle also insisted Houdini was using magic, even though Houdini explicitly insisted and swore to Doyle he wasn’t.

      Compartmentalization has a lot to answer for.

  • Milo C

    Christianity: the Uri Geller of religions.

    • Maltnothops

      I’m sure there is a joke there based on Christianity evolving from Judaism and Geller being Jewish and all of the preceding being frauds but I can’t quite make it brief enough to be funny.

      • Greg G.

        Maybe something about how successful are the 2000 years of Rapture predictions.

        • Maltnothops

          I’m still working on it.

        • Steven Watson

          There are 3 jokes in there: Xtianity, Judaism, and Uri Geller.

  • Ficino

    Good series, thanks, Bob.

    Random thoughts:

    No, he was going further by taking the role of the Socratic questioner, assuming that he was right and guiding the student (the professor, in his example) through a pre-planned series of questions

    Just now I was reading about how the person posing the questions is or can be in the position of relative power in the dialogue, controlling the pace and direction of the discourse, setting parameters for what will or won’t be an acceptable answer, etc. We see this in Plato and Xenophon when they portray Socratic dialogues. Socrates always takes the driver’s seat while professing to assert no or virtually no positive position.

    Koukl’s metaphor of arguments committing suicide by being self-defeating.

    There’s a considerable literature on self-refutation arguments. Edward Feser is fond of using them, which he calls “retorsion” arguments. It’s been pointed out by logicians that when an argument is exposed as failing to satisfy its own requirements, or that it “refutes itself,” it doesn’t follow from that that the contradictory of the argument’s thesis is established as true.

    • eric

      Feser can say that “scientism refutes itself.”

      Even if true, I’m skeptical most scientist actually support any sort of hard scientism. This is the paranoia problem: he thinks everyone is focused on him and his issues. In reality, nobody cares. The woman designing a neutrino cosmology experiment isn’t thinking about how necessary it is to claim science can answer religious questions – she’s not thinking about Feser or his issues or the religious implications of her research at all. She just wants to perform a successful experiment that produces new or better information about the physical world.

      • Ficino

        Feser also says that metaphysical naturalism refutes itself, but as far as I have seen, his arguments for that contention betray ignoratio elenchi, because as he presents his target, that target boils down, again, to “scientism.”

    • Very often, the faulty argument can be easily rewritten into something defensible.

  • Lex Lata

    The burden of proof we are obliged to bear in connection with ontological claims about Yahweh is no greater than the burden of proof Christians feel obliged to bear with respect to analogous claims about Apollo, Balder, Cinteotl, Dionysus, Eris, Freya, Gnowee, and countless other divinities they readily dismiss as products of the human imagination.

    • Either that or demons.

    • Jim Jones

      Or even proving that Bat Boy, Elvis and Marilyn aren’t sharing a trailer in Nevada, as claimed by the Weekly World News.

      • HematitePersuasion

        They aren’t?

        Oh how easily my illusions vanish 🙁

      • eric

        I miss the WWN. Their telescopic images of Heaven were the best.

    • Sample1

      The Catholics, Mercury bless them, have contrived a way around this. Bear with me here and if you once identified as a Catholic maybe it will be a refresher.

      Catholics, typically, do not have their focus on dismissing countless other divinities (my auto correct replaced divinities with sick jobs initially!). Their focus is on the pagan’s recognition of some higher power. They interpret that higher power, even if it’s a different god, as being an imperfect recognition of the Catholic God!

      This is how easy-to-vary explanations work. It’s akin to medical panaceas. The explanatory framework is contrived to absorb any ad hoc auxiliaries without negatively affecting the principle orthodox theory.

      We are admonished for recognizing gender fluidity while being tasked to accept polyamorous divinity!

      Mike

  • Michael Neville

    “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist” is one of the weakest arguments that theists have. We also can’t prove that unicorns don’t exist, that a monster isn’t swimming in Loch Ness, or that every proton in the universe will spontaneously decay in the next ten minutes.

    • Greg G.

      that every proton in the universe will spontaneously decay in the next ten minutes.

      I could but the proof takes 601 seconds.

    • Otto

      You can’t prove that I am not a King.

      Woo Hoo! I am a King!

    • rationalobservations?

      Evidence of the nonexistence of the nonexistent is nonexistent because the nonexistent is nonexistent.

      The onus remains with those who claim the undetected and undetectable somehow exists.

      There appears no difference between the undetectable and the nonexistent to most of us in the free, peaceful, educated democracies of the developed world.

    • Illithid

      For practical purposes, the Loch Ness Monster could be excluded with enough effort. Given a reasonable lower bound for size.

      • Jim Jones

        Just pump out the lake through a filter.

    • RichardSRussell

      “We cannot know that Santa definitely doesn’t exist. This is technically true. But what’s your best guess? Go on. Be bold.” —Ricky Gervais, British comedian

  • Jim Jones

    > Randi replied, “If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine powers, then he’s doing it the hard way.”

    You could open bank vaults if you had that power – just sense when the tumbler dropped.

    > we can’t prove that Uri Geller uses trickery to bend spoons,

    Actually, Randi did that repeatedly. Sometimes it just took simple things to stop Geller (and others) doing their tricks. That was pretty convincing.

    • HematitePersuasion

      I think Mr. Geller’s inability to perform under the scrutiny of professional skeptics and qualified debunkers such as Mr. Randi speaks volumes.

      • Michael Neville

        Bad vibes, man, bad vibes. Randi was harshing Geller’s connection with the paranormal.

        • eric

          It’s a common problem. Skeptics of all sorts seem to kick angel/Jesus/God butt. All we have to do is show up, and a miraculous crying statue suddenly transmutes into a leaky sewage pipe.

        • Otto

          and then get arrested for pointing out the problem.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          /s (just in case…)

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    However, his tactics go too far when he ignores that the atheist is defending the default hypothesis (naturalism)

    I’m still not a huge fan of this wording. Koukl’s problem is that his claim makes no predictions, is untestable and requires reevaluating much of what we think we know about reality without having sufficient basis or a superior replacement explanation. Yes, these seem to be regular features of “supernatural” hypotheses, but it is plausible that a “natural” hypothesis could have the same flaws.

    Rather than point to superfluous labels, why not refer to the actual problems the labels are acting as imperfect proxies for?

    • RichardSRussell

      “It is wrong, always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” —W. K. Clifford (1845–1879), “The Ethics of Belief” (1879)

      • epeeist

        “A Wise man proportions his belief to the evidence” – David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

        • Michael Neville

          Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. –Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary

    • Likewise. You can’t just say naturalism is the default. Rather, the demand is “Prove it”.

    • Likewise. You can’t just assert that naturalism has to be the default. Rather, the demand is “Prove it”.

  • WayneMan

    Until someone claims there is a 7 headed purple unicorn, no one would just up and deny 7 headed purple unicorns out of the blue. If there were no god claims, this debate wouldn’t even exist. Of course the burden of proof is with the theists.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      So what’s your stance on 7-headed purple unicorns?

      • Greg G.

        My stance is that they are not purple. They are pink and they are invisible. We know they are invisible because we have never seen them. We know they are pink by faith. That’s my mantra and I’m stickin’ to it.

        • Maltnothops

          I’m colorblind and have seen with my own eyes that invisible unicorns are grey.

        • Ficino

          When ya gonna stop equivocating on ‘unicorn’?

    • I will pray Lurue, the Unicorn, for you.

  • RichardSRussell

    Philosophy is questions that may never be answered.

    Religion is answers that may never be questioned.

  • I think Holmes’ rationalist credentials have been overblown. When you’re written to be right, of course you will be. A lot of his “deductions” (actually inductions) exclude other possibilities and in reality might have been wrong. Given this, the poor thinking Doyle showed in regards to the paranormal might not be that surprising.

    • Maltnothops

      Even though I love the Sherlock stories, I completely agree with you.

      • Thanks. I’m not trying to knock it completely-I liked what I’ve read of the stories, it just has flaws like they all do.

    • Cozmo the Magician

      Look over there my dear friend. See that man standing in front of the Starbucks? I can tell you he has 3 children, went to school in Kentucky. Drives an old Ford pickup. Enjoys fishing, but hates hunting. And thinks trump was sent by god.

      Amazing! How did you deduce all that by just looking at him?

      Facebook dear Watson…. Facebook.

      • Yes… some detective work has become easier since people obligingly put so much about themselves out on the Internet for anyone to see.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Skeptical Inquirer has articles about many modern ‘psychics’ just hot reading people from their facebook.

        • Yeah, not surprising. Even in the old days they’d dig up stuff.

    • sandy

      I just happen to be reading the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes right now complete with all the illustrations by Simon Paget as they were published in the Strand. I’m quite impressed with Doyle’s command of the english language and his ability to build suspense and tell a story. But I was saying to my wife, his deductions aren’t that impressive or can be understood when you start from the conclusion of the story and work backwards, as you note. I got thinking and that pretty much sums up how Mark wrote his gospel knowing the conclusion then and adding in the info from the old testament to make up his story. The other gospel writers did the same thing plus they had Mark. Anyway, I’m off to read more adventures of Sherlock…they are so well written and do keep you in suspense until the end.

      • I think this relates to a larger problem with fiction (which includes the Gospels, I’m sure we’d agree). Some people seem to think in some cases that they “prove” things. Usually in the areas of politics, philosophy or religion. This is just ludicrous of course. An author can make their world work how they like-it proves nothing about our world. Yet there is a persistent belief about this being valid. Of course, they will claim admittedly that it relates to the real world. Atlas Shrugged is rather infamous for this. How anyone could take it as related to the real world is beyond me. People do though, and Ayn Rand did. I realize that’s a bit different, but in the same way making a literary detective always right is not difficult, since the author knows how to solve everything. I mean, writing it well is still hard, but not making their conclusion correct.

        • Michael Neville

          Isaac Asimov overheard a chance remark by a stranger and realized it would make a great solution for a mystery story. He said that setting up the story was easy since he knew what the ending would be.

        • Indeed.

  • Brian Curtis

    The most common attitude I encounter among theists in dealing with the burden of proof is one of overwhelming annoyance that their theory isn’t being treated as true by default. Their reasoning process seems to be as follows:
    .

    “Step 1: God is obviously true. Now, I’m willing to let logic and evidence operate here within reason, so I’ll permit you to offer some conjectures about how something else might possibly be true… maybe. Because I’m humoring you. But it’s your responsibility to come up with some evidence to prove your cockamamie story. And it better be absolutely airtight evidence, too! Because if I find one single flaw anywhere in it–or even imagine I found one–then we’re back to the Bible being true. Which we both already know it is. Now thank me for being so reasonable and patient as to listen to your silly arguments.”
    .
    Still, it’s an improvement over the previous responses to doubt, such as “What do you mean, ‘where’s the evidence’? This hot torch I’m holding to your groin is all the evidence you need, sinner.”

    • David Eickstaedt

      Perfectly said! They don’t even see the programming they went through, most of them when I was young anyway…same propaganda every week for how many years? They awaken in childhood to repeating and memorizing words they have no idea of the meaning… tested at age 14 in a public confirmation of what they’ve ‘learned’ ….they now make the stretch in their minds that this belief system has provided them answers so that they now KNOW God and how the universe works…..So you are right, they have said in essence, ” I believe what this book says and that makes it the truth!” Well, believing something is the truth and knowing the truth (which is one diamond in the book) are two different things…..ch people believe they have the truth through their belief….sorry, doesn’t work that way. You actually have to experience things to know them….they also trust their governments without questions, or they should, as the book tells them too….never mind it’s the same correct bastards that wrote the book….oh ch peeps, please start listening to those who are trying to wake your sorry snoring ass up….You’ve been placed in a box of belief and you think your cell is life, it’s actually death….I know I am one who has figured it out.

      • Otto

        They don’t even see the programming they went through…

        My favorite is when I am told I don’t know what I am talking about in regard to the religion I was trained and socialized into from childhood.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s especially fun when, after telling some Catholic that I went to Catholic grade school, high school and college, they tell me I never was a Catholic and I know nothing about Catholicism.

        • David Eickstaedt

          And of course, the more you sincerely want to help them, the more deeply they are offended and mainly only are thinking of what’s wrong with YOU!!!!! They’re so into their indoctrination, and they would absolutely go through the ceiling on mentioning that term, that they actually hear nothing of the logic behind why they are clueless……if you’re a fisherman, they’re gut-hooked….most will NEVER get loose….and when you all check out the Christian Whistleblower Jeff Daugherty on You Tube, you’ll get an education as to what the original Greek actually meant; not only is this a dead end religion, it has tremendous negative dynamics…..human blood sacrifice, cannabalism, etc etc…..he’s a former 20 yr evangelist who saw the light in reverse….very articulate and he single handedly debunks all the fine points of the religion.

    • Very true. Even if that is to be expected when they talkto their sheeps, theirs -“the book” being 100% accurate is the default position. Everything else is interpreted on its light.

    • Raging Bee

      For example, see Don Camp’s blithering above.

  • Jim Baerg

    “teapot orbiting the sun”
    Too bad Musk didn’t put a teapot labelled ‘property of Bertrand Russell’ on the Tesla he launched.

    • Phil Rimmer

      It won’t be long before an artist will put a cluster of classic Brown Betties at Lagrange 5.

  • Greg G.
  • Don Camp

    You have to be kidding, Bob, or intentionally ignoring history. It is the scientific Materialistic worldview that is new on the stage and making extraordinary claims. Prior to the Enlightenment the default position was a reality that included both the material world and the spiritual world. A godless world would have been virtually unthinkable.

    Don’t let this definition allow the person making the Christian claim to
    demand any sort of parity. There is no parity between the extraordinary
    claim (the theist’s position) and the default hypothesis (the atheist
    position). The theist is starting at a deficit—don’t let them forget
    that.

    It is the atheist who has the burden of proof that reality is wholly material. It is atheism that is in the dock. But I am willing to listen to your evidence and reasoning.

    • aikidaves

      You are asserting that there is a spiritual world. Please show us the evidence that supports your assertion. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. I’m saying that convincing evidence hadn’t been presented to me. THAT is the burden of proof. Do you understand now?

      • Don Camp

        Oh, yes,I understand. And I will do that as soon as the convincing evidence for a wholly Material is presented. Since Materialism is the newcomer on the block, tell me why the newcomer should prevail.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s very simple. There’s zip point zero evidence that a “spiritual world” exists. None whatsoever. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence. So what’s your evidence that your “spiritual world” isn’t just a figment of your imagination?

        • Bob Jase

          Having dealt with DC for years I can give you his evidence – he has fee-fees.

        • Michael Neville

          I assumed as much.

        • aikidaves

          I’m not saying it should. If you can point at convincing evidence that a spiritual world exists, I’ll accept it. Until you do, or someone else does, I’ll remain skeptical.
          I’m not trying to convince you that ‘wholly material,’ as you call it, is true. I’m asking you to back up your assertion that there’s a spiritual world. The burden of proof is on you, because you’re the one making an assertion that requires evidence to be accepted.

        • epeeist

          I’m asking you to back up your assertion that there’s a spiritual world.

          Not.going.to.happen.

        • aikidaves

          Which is why he keeps trying to get us to prove a negative. It’s a face-saving move to cover up his inability to produce convincing evidence.

        • epeeist

          It’s a face-saving move to cover up his inability to produce convincing evidence.

          Don has been posting on this blog for a while so we are well aware of his games.

          I would make one change to your sentence above, replace “face-saving” by “dishonest”.

        • Zeta

          When Don Camp was the “resident” apologists at Debunking Christianity for a few years, I don’t recall that he ever asked commenters there to prove a negative until a few months (if I recall correctly) before he was kicked out by John Loftus. He started on this dishonest practice of repeatedly asking atheists/skeptics to prove a negative as if he had just discovered a genuine gotcha argument. I asked him to prove that Russell’s orbiting teapot does not exist but I don’t recall seeing a response from him.

        • Raging Bee

          In other words, you’re admitting you understand our reasoning, but you’re still refusing to do what you know you have to do.

    • Greg G.

      Prior to the Enlightenment the default position was a reality that included both the material world and the spiritual world. A godless world would have been virtually unthinkable.

      It is the atheist who has the burden of proof that reality is wholly material. It is atheism that is in the dock. But I am willing to listen to your evidence and reasoning.

      Ever since Newton, explanations involving supernatural beings have failed and been replaced by natural processes. We don’t need angels pushing the planets around or the demon theory of disease. It is so overwhelming that the whole technique of explaining things in terms of the supernatural has been called into question and justifiably abandoned because of how spectacularly wrong they have been.

      You need to provide evidence without the wishful thinking now rather than pitiful excuses to believe without evidence which is what you have been doing since you found this blog.

      • Don Camp

        We don’t need angels pushing the planets around or the demon theory of
        disease. It is so overwhelming that the whole technique of explaining
        things in terms of the supernatural has been called into question and
        justifiably abandoned because of how spectacularly wrong they have been.

        No, we don’t need angels pushing the planets around. But that is a cartoon and unbiblical characterization of what Jews and Christians believe about God’ and the spiritual being called angels and demons. I think you do well to reject that idea.

        But I do not need to provide evidence until you, a representative of the newcomers, have provided evidence for your new fanglerd idea thatn the Material is all there is.

        • Michael Neville

          So why are the Judaic and Christian gods (you do realize that while there’s some similarities between the two they’re two completely different gods) to be preferred over any of the millions of other gods dreamed up by human imagination?

        • Otto

          So you are pleading that your supernatural beliefs are special…ugh

        • Don Camp

          Special pleading according to wiki is “Special pleading is an informal fallacy wherein one cites something as an exception to a general or universal principle. This is the application of a double standard.”

          No. I am arguing that supernatural beliefs are a general or universal principle. It has only since the Enlightenment that Materialism has taken the place of the general principle that reality that is both material and spiritual. It is in fact Materialism that depends on special pleading.

          But when we fuss about logical fallacies, we avoid the actual issue, don’t we? That issue is whether reality is wholly material or whether it is both material and spiritual. For most of the people of the world, past and present, the latter is the general principle. You might argue for Materialism.

          You could show that the cosmos is wholly material by providing evidence that the origin of the cosmos or the existence of the cosmos is wholly explained by physical forces. You could do that by providing evidence that there is no intelligent design in the cosmos. You could do that by providing evidence that Jesus was not a supernatural being from the spiritual world or was not enabled in what he did by a supernatural entity. Remember, EVIDENCE.

        • Bob Jase

          “I am arguing that ignorance is a general or universal principle.”

          fify

        • Otto

          You are rejecting certain supernatural beliefs as silly and espousing your supernatural beliefs as rational. Yes there have been Christians that have believed demons cause disease…and still do.

          You could do that by providing evidence that Jesus was not a supernatural being from the spiritual world or was not enabled in what he did by a supernatural entity.

          You would first need to supply reasonable evidence that Jesus was supernatural being, or even that there is such a thing as a supernatural being.

        • Raging Bee

          I am arguing that supernatural beliefs are a general or universal principle.

          So is racism. That doesn’t mean we can’t dismiss it for lack of supporting evidence.

        • epeeist

          Remember, EVIDENCE.

          Absolutely Don, so why don’t you supply some for this “spiritual realm” of yours.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, he can’t, it’s immaterial ya know.

          But he can tell us all about it.

        • epeeist

          As usual Jesus and Mo is apposite when it comes to Don (and Ed and Jesse and….).

          https://www.jesusandmo.net/wp-content/uploads/kit.png

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          LOVE Jesus and Mo

        • Raging Bee

          Their toolkit consists of fear, faith, and fanatical devotion to the Pope…and maybe a comfy-chair…

        • Brian Curtis

          Common mistakes are still mistakes. If everyone throughout history made a wrong assumption, it’s still wrong.

        • Raging Bee

          But when we fuss about logical fallacies, we avoid the actual issue, don’t we?

          No, because your logical fallacies ARE the “actual issue.”

        • Otto

          But when we fuss about logical fallacies, we avoid the actual issue, don’t we?

          The issue is whether their is anything beyond the natural, you claim there is. You use fallacies to try and substantiate your claim in lieu of evidence, so no, talking about fallacies does not avoid the issue

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I am arguing that supernatural beliefs are a general or universal principle.

          So? So is fiction…I’d argue that they’re one and the same.

          You seem to be arguing that because supernatural beliefs exist, there MUST be something behind them. All reality disagrees with you, as NEVER in recorded history has a supernatural ‘explanation’ supplanted a SCIENTIFIC explanation of a phenomenon…and the scientific explanation has always demonstrated itself to be USEFUL to all, not merely the power-hungry authoritarians out there.

        • epeeist

          But I do not need to provide evidence until you, a representative of the newcomers, have provided evidence for your new fanglerd idea thatn the Material is all there is.

          And that really is all you have got isn’t it, the illicit attempt to shift the burden.

          Talk about “all hat and no cattle” (though I prefer the British version, “all mouth and no trousers”).

        • Raging Bee

          He can’t even sound credible about it either.

        • Raging Bee

          We’re not making any positive claims that “the Material is all there is.” We are merely dismissing positive claims about the existence of supernatural things, for lack of evidence.

        • Don Camp

          You should if your opinions are to raise above mere opinion.

          I refer you to a collection of informed opinions about the existence of God from scientists: https://godevidence.com/2010/08/quotes-about-god-atheism/

        • Michael Neville

          Why are those opinions any better or worse than our opinions? We have an argument to support our opinion, that collection of quotes is evidence-less.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOUR KIND need to hire yourselves out as cherry-pickers.

          If you’d checked the entire oeuvre of each of those you misrepresent here, you’d be forced, if willing to be honest, to admit that those to who you refer DON’T support your assertions.

          BTW, pulling selected quotes like that, from people conversing OUTSIDE the area of their expertise, is the very definition of the ‘Argument from Authority’ fallacy.

        • Raging Bee

          Nah, cherry-pickers don’t make any money. He should practice goalpost-moving, and maybe get to the Olympics, right after the caber-toss.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Opinion through reasonable expectation based on prior evidence.

          Every single thing that was once attributed to the supernatural and that has ever been sufficiently explained. Has not been explained by the supernatural.

          Methodological Naturalism has a 100% success rate. Spiritual naturalism has a success rate of zero, zilch, zip, nil, none, nada.

        • Zeta

          Which god are you talking about?
          From the fact that there are several Einstein quotes, it is obvious that Scott Youngren was trying to conflate different “gods” in order to bolster his case.

          Wikipedia (Emphasis mine):

          Albert Einstein’s religious views have been widely studied and often misunderstood.[1] Einstein stated that he believed in the pantheistic God of Baruch Spinoza.[2] He did not believe in a personal God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings, a view which he described as naïve.[3]

          Was Einstein one of your fellow god believers? Using his name and quotes this way when your ilk are really referring to the Christian god is dishonest.

        • Brian Curtis

          You’re offering an argument that “because people believed X for a really long time, it should be treated as a default truth until something provably better comes along.” But that’s not a good enough reason. It’s an argument from antiquity, and antiquity has no truth value.

        • Don Camp

          How well stated as a man of the modern world. That is why moderns think the world began some time in the 1600s with the Enlightenment. Everything before that is nonsense, right? How sad.

          But what I am saying is not that antiquity confers truth; what I am saying is that the wisdom of the past has been tested over a long period of time and was found by many intelligent and learned men and women to be profoundly true.

        • Brian Curtis

          Except that it wasn’t tested at all. It was simply assumed. Once humanity got around to testing it, we learned that it was false. Do try to keep up.

        • aikidaves

          Many intelligent and learned men and women tested and found (and continue to find) that alternatives such as Allah, Rama, Ahura Mazda, and other supernatural beings are profoundly true, yet I doubt you find their beliefs persuasive. They present the same types of arguments that you do.
          I accept the material world theory because it fits the evidence familiar to me. I disregard spiritual world theories because no verifiable evidence is ever presented.

        • Michael Neville

          You appear to be missing part of the last sentence of your post.

        • aikidaves

          My phone spazzed. I edited and it’s there now.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          There you go…making sense and valid comparisons of similar ‘objects’ / concepts…

          😉

        • Michael Neville

          If these “many intelligent and learned men and women” determined that there is a “spiritual world” then it should be child’s play for you to regurgitate their evidence for them making that determination. So regurgitate already.

        • Susan

          That is why moderns think the world began some time in the 1600s with the Enlightenment.

          Nope. Strawman. Try to be less dishonest.

          Everything before that is nonsense, right?

          Nope. Strawman. Please try to be less dishonest.

          How sad.

          How sad that you have no qualms about being dishonest.

        • epeeist

          How sad that you have no qualms about being dishonest.

          Is it just me or do others get a whiff of misogyny as well?

        • MR

          Yes, I’ve picked up on that more than once.

        • Susan

          Is it just me or do others get a whiff of misogyny as well?

          I don’t know. It’s hard to get a whiff of anything with all the bulls69hit he’s throwing around.

          I hadn’t noticed. He seems to be condescending to everyone, not just the women.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He seems to be condescending to everyone, not just the women.

          That’s true. But there is something different in the way he waves off the women. I just couldn’t see what it is, but misogyny is a valid candidate.

        • Susan

          there is something different in the way he waves off the women.

          Possibly, but I haven’t noticed it. Maybe I’ve just grown numb from dealing with so many apologists here and elsewhere. I have noticed extra hostility from some of them, many of them, towards women who question them.

          In Don’s case, I just see a mediocre liar who talks down to a lot of people who are smarter than he is, most of whom (in this case) are men.

          I don’t claim to be smarter than Don (I do claim to be more honest), but I’ve observed his condescension toward very qualified people on subjects about which he has no expertise.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t claim to be smarter than Don

          Oh yer smarter alright.

        • Bob Jase

          Ah the great wisdom of the past! The Earth is flat under a dime called the firmament in which tiny dots of light can be seen when the sun slides down below the horizon into the bottom side of the disc of the Earth. Disease is caused by demons or curses. Rain or snow occur when doors in the firmament open and release it from the storeroom in heaven.

          Nothing like that time tested old wisdom.

        • Don Camp

          Dome a favor. Check and see if that is poetry. Then think back to your literature classes and remember what the characteristics of poetry are.

        • Bob Jase

          Maybe all the references to god are also mere poetry.

          Once you start that game anyone can play.

        • Don Camp

          Which basically means you do not know what poetry is. A pity. I blame the English teachers.

          Poetry uses figurative language to express ideas the may be quite true and events that may be quite historical. Lyrical poetry, which is what we see in the Psalms express the writer’s emotional reactions to an actual thing or event. Hebrew poetry incorporate parallelism to further define the idea presented.

          Narrative poetry, which we find in the prophets, intends the poetic genre to communicate the message more powerfully than prose can do.

          BTW poetry is the oldest form of spoken or written literary communication. It was used rather than prose because it is memorable at a time when people were either non-readers or when written materials were rare. Poetry is memorable. If you are going to read OT biblical literature, you will need to think about the ways poetry communicates.

        • Zeta

          Don, you have been playing the poetry card for so long that it is really stale.

          Some poetry may contain some grains of truth. But if you think that claiming something is poetry exempts it from verification, you are really sadly mistaken. This is one of the ways you have been defending nonsense in your ancient book.

          If I have the time, I’ll list most of your standard evasion techniques when you are confronted with half-truths and patently false claims in your ancient book.

        • Greg G.

          Poetry can communicate falsity as effectively as it can communicate truth. It works for propaganda, too.

        • Michael Neville

          Poetry uses figurative language to express ideas the may be quite true and events that may be quite historical.

          The word “may” means something might or might not be true. So we can disregard your attempt to show Biblical poetry as having anything to do with reality.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          So what?

          Poetry expresses EMOTIONAL ‘truths’, which work because people have pretty much the same emotional spectrum.

          The fact that we can SEE thought and emotion now using fMRI means that we can quantify it…not so with your unsupported ‘spiritual’, actually supernatural, assertions for which you provide ZERO evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          BTW poetry is the oldest form of spoken or written literary communication. It was used rather than prose because it is memorable at a time when people were either non-readers or when written materials were rare.

          Another loada unsupported fuckwittery.

          The earliest forms of “written” communication we know of is cave “art”. Their purpose isn’t known. Theories range from instruction manuals, place names, spiritual symbolism, or just graffiti.

        • Susan

          Dome a favor.

          Says passive-agressive guy who can’t navigate a simple paper bag.

          think back to your literature classes and remember what the characteristics of poetry are.

          You haven’t shown yourself to be especially literate since you got here. You’re certainly not poetic.

          But let’s say you have something to say on the subject.

          Then, say it.

          If you are saying it’s not poetry, then provide a source. (Hint: You are not the source of poetry.)

          Don’t smugly bluff.

          If that’s alll you do, people here will naturally get sick of it.

        • Don Camp

          Really, Susan, your prejudices are showing. This is not your conversation. Your job is to come up with a positive defense supported by evidence for any alternative to the biblical worldview.

          The failure of any vigorous and persuasive presentation of a Materialistic worldview is what keeps me from serious consideration of it. That may be my prejudice showing.

          But on the other hand I have presented what I am convinced is a worldview based on reality. I am not just debunking; I am presenting an alternative.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Really, Susan, your prejudices are showing.

          ^^^^See also, “Every accusation is a CONFESSION”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Do you buy the lightweight goalposts?

          Only asking because YOUR KIND move them whenever you can’t win a point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It was ancient cosmology ya lying auld fuckwit. It only became poetry in order to save the nonsense because religion. You need it to be poetry to support your ballix. Scholar of literature? My arse.

          6th century BCE — The Babylonian world map shows the Earth surrounded by the cosmic ocean, with seven islands arranged around it so as to form a seven-pointed star. Contemporary Biblical cosmology reflects the same view of a flat, circular Earth swimming on water and overarched by the solid vault of the firmament to which are fastened the stars.

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

          The intelectual dishonesty has been hanging right out of you for weeks now.

        • Bob Jase

          As someone who dealt with Don years ago at Debunking Christianity trust me, he’s never been intellectually honest.

        • Greg G.

          Even with himself.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          That is why moderns think the world began some time in the 1600s with the Enlightenment.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e4f3150ef1736a97f38e5331eec815059a13ac6a27961f02da4b1e26161c6dbf.jpg

        • Raging Bee

          Which “moderns” are you talking about? The ones who exist only in your imagination?

          You should go to the next Republican Convention and have an on-stage argument with an empty chair. You’d be a big hit there!

        • Ignorant Amos

          And people didn’t believe X for a lot longer before they started believing in all manner of silly fuckwit X’s, so if he wants to insist on that line of argument, he is hoist by his own petard…yet again. Scientists know the reasons why, too. Don has been told this already. He just jumps from thread to thread hitting the reset button and shiteing all over the place. It’s his MO.

        • Greg G.

          But I do not need to provide evidence until you, a representative of the newcomers, have provided evidence for your new fanglerd idea thatn the Material is all there is.

          First, you prove that your claim of the spiritual realm is not purposefully contrived to be unfalsifiable.

          The old claims of spiritual caused events have been explained by natural means and can now be predicted. The god botherers have run out of things to blame on god thingies. Now your explanations are looking for something to explain.

          Believers in nonsense can always plead “supernatural” to exempt their pet deities from scrutiny.

        • Don Camp

          First, you prove that your claim of the spiritual realm is not purposefully contrived to be unfalsifiable.

          Okay. But why don’t you suggest what that might be to your satisfaction. Understand the claim, however. It is that thee spiritual entities and the spiritual realm is supernatural. That means non-material and beyond or above the physical material realm/.

          Next, promise me that you will present a evidence for your position that the material world is all there is that is falsifiable. I’ll respond when those conditions are met.

        • Michael Neville

          None of us are making the claim “that the material world is all there is”. There could be a supernatural component to reality, we don’t know either way. As a result, we will not and cannot comply with your demand for evidence to support a claim we don’t make. However you make the positive claim that there is a “spirit world” so let’s see your evidence to support your claim.

        • Greg G.

          Okay. But why don’t you suggest what that might be to your satisfaction. Understand the claim, however. It is that thee spiritual entities and the spiritual realm is supernatural. That means non-material and beyond or above the physical material realm/.

          I have no idea what it would be like so I can’t possibly suggest evidence for it. It is in your imagination. You provide evidence I can see without opening your cranium.

          Next, promise me that you will present a evidence for your position that the material world is all there is that is falsifiable.

          We cannot possibly believe that everything ever imagined by everybody who has ever lived is real. Evidence for something is how we distinguish what is real from what is imagined. If you do not have evidence you can present, you have only imagined its existence. I cannot possibly prove something doesn’t exist if it is contrived to be impossible to prove it doesn’t exist, but that does not mean it exists. It is just another thing that is contrived.

          I’ll respond when those conditions are met.

          If you had sufficient evidence to warrant belief, you would have presented it instead of playing games.

        • Susan

          thee spiritual entities and the spiritual realm is supernatural. That means non-material and beyond or above the physical material realm/.

          That tells us nothing. It just tells us what it isn’t. Without defining “physical” and “material” and the boundaries of that. Just just that it “isn’t” that.

          Tell us what it is and how you know.

          WHEN you tell us how you know, don’t appeal to a physical book written by humans to tell us.

          Tell us what it is and how you know.

          present a evidence for your position that the material world is all there is that is falsifiable.

          Show us how your claim is falsifiable and stop burden-shifting. It’s embarrassing.

        • Don Camp

          Without defining “physical” and “material” and the boundaries of that

          Okay,but using a what it i not is part of any good definition. The spiritual entities are persons. They are able to relate to persons and human persons are able to know them as they experience that relationship. BUT they are not made of the material of the universe known by science.

          These spiritual entities are intelligent and wise. They make sense when they communicate. They know things that we do not know. They know the future, for example. They know the attitudes of our hearts.

          Tell us what it is and how you know.

          I know it by personal experience and by the reports of others who also know by experience.

          It is now your turn, Susan. Present your claims to a wholly material universe. No burden-shiftig please.

        • Bob Jase

          “I know it by personal experience and by the reports of others who also know by experience.”

          As I said, your ‘evidence’ amounts to fee-fees and nothing more.

        • Don Camp

          Bob, you know people (persons) by experience and interaction. It is totally normal. A person who is just a physical presence might as well be a wax figure or a human being who has lost the ability to communicate due to dementia. Wer simply expect persons to be personalities. If a spiritual entity is a person in that sense, we would expect the same. And that is what everyone reports when there is iteration with spiritual entities.

          There can, of course, be a sense of the spiritual without interaction. But usually what people mean by that is that the beauty of a rose or a sunset touches them more deeply than can be expressed in words – except maybe in poetry or music. It touches them in their spirit.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          So NOW you’re trying for the ‘how do you know you’re not a brain in a vat’ idea?

          We have to ACT as though we aren’t, because it’s what we experience.

          The fact that YOUR KIND ‘feel’ some idea, claiming ‘experience’, and then attack us for not accepting your subjective assertion SINCE IT FLIES IN THE FACE OF ALMOST ALL AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, is all I need to see that you’re a pathetic huckster looking for gullible marks to fleece.

        • Bob Jase

          Change your metabolism , change your fee-fees, change your god.

        • Susan

          using a what it i not is part of any good definition.

          I don’t see how it’s necessary, in most cases, nor how it provides a definition.

          “Cats are not tables. They are beyond tables.”

          That’s a pretty shi69tty definition.

          Or even description.

          While true, it contributes nothing.

          The spiritual entities are persons. They are able to relate to persons and human persons are able to know them as they experience that relationship.

          This is another (of countless of your examples) of argumentum ab rectum.

          Define “person” and support your claim that there is a “not physical” version. Don’t just assert things. It’s disgusting. Define “physical”, show us that you know its boundaries, and that you can identify something

          I know it by personal experience and by the reports of others who also know by experience

          Nope. My personal experience is that you’re a lying weasel who feels no responsibility whatsoever when making grandiose claims, like the one above, to support those claims.

          You’re a person who wants to sell their own personal snake oil and would be happy to preach all day, until someone asks you to support it. When someone does ask you to support it, you rely on evasion, fallacies, and repetition instead of showing any actual work that supports it.

          Now, I think there’s plenty of evidence for anyone who has the patience to navigate PatheosDisqus and to deal with apologists here who just keep churning out the same unsupported cr69ap. If there weren’t, I wouldn’t expect someone to take my personal experience as the final word.

          Present your claims to a wholly material universe.

          I never made that claim. How many strawmen is that now?

          Now, if you’re going to claim that someone here has made that claim, you’ll have to define your terms in a reasonably clear (at least make a good effort) way and show us how anyone here has done any such thing.

          Back to cats and tables.

          Try to explain by one negating the other, without any other qualification or modifier.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          How many years have you been lying to people now, and weaselling your way out of it when they call you on it?

        • Don Camp

          Sorry. Is is your turn, Susan.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Sorry. Is is your turn, Susan.

          Yet ANOTHER unsupported assertion, you trog.

          YOU made a bunch of positive assertions, including strawmanning our position.
          Support them or crawl back under your lightless fetid rock.

        • Raging Bee

          What personal experience, exactly?

          And mind you, there’s plenty of people with stories of personal experiences that “prove” a completely different set of supernatural beliefs from yours.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What personal experience, exactly?

          I feel a punt to his blog coming.

          Don nearly died last year. He was touch and go and suffered immensely while he was knocking on deaths door. He’s closer to his version of God as a result, and wouldn’t swap the experience for anything, including not having gone through the whole fiasco. That’s if he’s not lying. Who can tell?

          He also claims to have researched his religious believe some 50 years ago. And that strengthened his new found faith.

          One wonders wtf his God was doing for the 49 years prior to his NDE last year. And what happened that was so special that he hadn’t experienced it previously that his faith needed re enforcing last year apparently…with a lot of suffering and a NDE no less.

        • nydiva

          Now c’mon Ignorant Amos. It took Don 25 years before he learned how to pray correctly (his words, not mine). Don’s imaginary friend obviously takes its time revealing things to him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And mind you, there’s plenty of people with stories of personal experiences that “prove” a completely different set of supernatural beliefs from yours.

          And some that aren’t even supernatural, but still a loada ballix. Alien abduction and UFO sightings for example.

        • Don Camp

          Sure. I know that experiences differ. That is true even of the most mundane experience.

          When that happens, I ask myself why. Why, for example, is my experience and interpretation of a comment made by a friend different from another person’s who heard the same comment? The answer is often the background we bring to the experience. I may interpret the comment as friendly and kind because that is how my friend has always been with me. The other person, without that background, may think the comment as just the opposite. So which is right?

          So when I hear or read of others who have had “experiences” that they interpret as “proving” a different set of supernatural beliefs, I ask how they interpreted the experience, not whether the experience was real. What background did they bring to the experience?

          I also ask whether the experience was in fact the same as mine. Since I understand from my background that there are some experiences that are demonic and deceptive and some that are purely the product a mental disorder, I also ask where that experience came from. The clue that provides an answer to that question is usually what the outcome of the experience is.

          Mental disorders rarely if ever produce good. Demonic experiences do not produce good. Any real experience with God, I believe, will always produce good.

        • Sample1

          There’s even more nuance involved than you touch on but these are good questions Don. If you’re interested you might find that video of Feynman explaining how he and a mathematician friend of his solve problems quite differently in terms of conceptualization and resultant abilities.

          On the other hand one may also ask why a supernatural force would not construct an easy and universally attainable method of discovery for said deity’s existence? As a naturalist, wouldn’t that at least be a reasonable question to consider?

          A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… when many of us first visited the so-called top internet discussion site between atheists and Catholics, one of the first red flags was an embedded sidebar article titled, 20 Proofs For The Existence of God. Knowing why such an article seems powerful for those believers yet problematic for naturalists can help you understand the gulf between us Don.

          Mike
          No reply necessary.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re *still* presupposing this ‘god’ of yours.

          DEMONSTRATE it before you start attempting to conjure your fell and evil magicks of authoritarian overreach, abuse and hate.

        • Don Camp

          ‘n my reply to another comment, I said at the heart of every worldview, at least those I am acquainted with, is an assumption that cannot be demonstrated with direct evidence. That probably includes your.

          I think it is almost to me expected that when worldviews clash there will be the kind of anger you illustrate here. A challenge to our worldviews is a challenge to the core if what motivates us. I’ve gotten used to that.

        • Michael Neville

          So it’s our fault that you can’t provide evidence to support your worldview. Shabby, Don, very shabby.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          We aren’t required to refute YOUR KIND’s absolutist strawmen, concocted to vilify us.

          All we have to do is demonstrate the world as it is, and what DOES discover new things, rather than lying and claiming to already know it.

          Also, duration isn’t necessarily a marker of reliability…after all, Hinduism has been around a LOT longer than xtianity…as have paganism and animism.

        • Ficino

          No, we don’t need angels pushing the planets around. But that is a cartoon and unbiblical characterization of what Jews and Christians believe about God’ and the spiritual being called angels and demons.

          False. It is precisely the explanation given as long as an Aristotelian conception of the cosmos dominated. Read your Aquinas. Aristotle’s unmoved movers, which on the old cosmology moved the spheres of heaven in their ecliptics, were recast in Christianity as angels, i.e. immaterial substances, agents of the one first unmoved mover, God.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But I do not need to provide evidence until you, a representative of the newcomers, have provided evidence for your new fanglerd idea thatn the Material is all there is.

          Dishonest Don lying again. No surprise there then.

          Why do people believe in God? For most people in the world, the answer seems obvious: Because it’s self-evident that God exists. From the point of view of the believer, the really puzzling question is how anyone could not believe.

          And yet, as University of California at Irvine psychologist Brett Mercier and his colleagues point out in a recent article, there was once a time in the prehistory of our species when nobody believed in a god of any sort. Our evolutionary ancestors were all atheists, but somewhere along the way they found religion.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/talking-apes/201808/why-do-people-believe-in-god

          You reiligidiots are the newcomers Don.

    • Michael Neville

      A couple of thousand years ago all phenomena had supernatural explanations. Thunder happened when Thor hit mountains with Mjölnir, the winds were the Anomei blowing, the Sun was pushed across the sky by the dung beetle Kephri, earthquakes were caused the giant catfish Namizu thrashing around underground. Over the years, particularly in the last two or three centuries, these supernatural explanations have been replaced with natural explanations. Never, not even once, has the movement been in the other direction. Never has a natural explanation been superseded by a supernatural explanation.

      So why do naturalists (you do realize that naturalists include theists as well as atheists) have to provide any additional evidence that the world is material? If you claim that the “spiritual world” is anything other than a figment of the imagination, then you need to provide evidence for that hypothesis.

      My favorite Dara O’Briain quote is apropos: “Science knows it doesn’t know everything; otherwise, it’d stop. But just because science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.”

      • Don Camp

        Yes, I realize that Theists as well as Atheists are naturalists. That is entirely appropriate for the natural world is real. But I use the word “Materialistic” as a philosophy and capitalize it to make that point. As a philosophy it has become the worldview of the Western world. It is that worldview with which I differ. I do not deny the ability of science to explain the natural world. I applaud science.

        Serious scientists who are not on a mission to oppose the idea of the supernatural do not extend their concern to philosophy. They may hold to one philosophy or another (many are Christians or Jewish believers, some are Muslims and some are atheists but that has really rather little to do with science) , but they recognize that science is science and philosophy is philosophy and one does not

        On your other point,what evidence would you consider admissible for proving the reality of the spiritual world?

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t oppose the supernatural, I just don’t believe it exists for the simple reason that there’s no evidence for its existence.

          I’m not interested in proof, that exists in mathematics, logic and alcohol. What I ask for is evidence. I have no idea what evidence I’d find convincing that the “spiritual world” is real. I can tell you what evidence I automatically reject:

          1. Anything involving logical fallacies. I particularly rule out presupposition, also called petitio principii or begging the question.

          b. I discard all arguments based on semantic ambiguities. The most famous is the ontological argument first put out by Anselm of Canterbury and later modified by Emmanuel Kant, Kurt Gödel, Alvin Plantinga (a philosopher I have zero respect for), and William Lane Craig.

          iii. Personal testimonies are meaningful to the person having the testimony, not necessarily for anyone else. I don’t care if you feel the spirit in your heart, that’s your experience but I don’t share it.

          D. Emotional appeals are not evidence.

          I’m rather in the position of the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who wrote in an opinion: “I cannot describe obscenity but I know it when I see it ” I don’t know what evidence I’d find convincing but I would recognize it if I see it.

        • Michael Neville

          Don has yet to reply to this response to his appeals for evidence. Could it be that he realizes I’ll reject any evidence he can muster since none of that evidence passed my criteria?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Don realizes that *he* would reject any ‘evidence’ he can offer, if it was offered by somebody supporting *any other* ‘deity’.

        • Lark62

          what evidence would you consider admissible for proving the reality of the spiritual world?

          That is a riduculous question. In the history of mankind, no one has shown even one piece of evidence for the supernatural. Ever.

          Think about it. What evidence would convince you that someone else’s supernatural claim is true? What evidence would convince you that Quetzalcoatl is the supernatural ancestor of all Mesoamerican people or that Norsemen who die in battle go to Valhalla? List the evidence that would convince you.

          Are you obligated to believe in Valhalla? Are you obligated to list the evidence that would convince you that imaginary places are real?

          Then what right have you to demand that others list what evidence would convince them that fairy tales are true.

          When you produce evidence for your pet fairy tale, then the rest of us will consider it.

        • Don Camp

          Then what right have you to demand that others list what evidence would convince them that fairy tales are true.

          Because I want to address the question that was asked as directly and completely as possible.

          When you produce evidence for your pet fairy tale, then the rest of us will consider it.

          So then explain what kind of evidence would be sufficient for you.

          I’ve already described the spiritual entity/entities at some length. Here is a brief.

          1) personal;

          2) intelligent

          3) spirit/non-material (supernatural)

          4) powerful

          What evidence would you accept for such an entity?

          What evidence would convince you that someone else’s supernatural claim is true?

          Wouldn’t that depend on the description of the entity or the specifics of the claim? So give me an example of a claim and I’ll try to answer the question.

          *********************************************************8

          You must know where I am going with this exchange. It has to do with each of our worldviews. Let me briefly describe what I mean by worldview.
          1) It is what we consider to be really real.

          2) It is what we consider important given what is really real.

          3) It is how we live given what is really real and important.

          I’ve picked up a description of an atheist’s worldview from a book I referenced some time back. He described it as “scientific.” By that I think he means that what is really real is what science describes. To that I add “Materialistic: because I think that word focuses the idea more clearly on what is really real.

          So a scientific Materialistic worldview would look like this
          1) the material cosmos and only the material cosmos is really real
          2) ???????? (you can fill in what you think is important given #1)
          3) ???????? (you can fill in how you should live given #1 and #2)

          A biblical worldview may be described as

          1) both the material and spiritual dimensions are really real
          2) It is important to pay attention to both the material and spiritual
          3) I should live according to the pattern given me from God and with the material world in view.

          Several have asked for evidence of the spiritual dimension/entities. I’ve answer that since God is as described at the beginning of this port the evidence would be essentially the same as evidence for a personality of any other sort: relationship and evidence of the power of the entity.

          I’ve asked in return what evidence would support the scientific Materialistic worldview in contrast to the biblical worldview.

          The usual answer have been that the material is detectable and sufficiently proven to be real by science. But that is not incompatible with the biblical worldview. What makes it incompatible is the conviction that only the material is really real. So I’ve asked what makes you certain about that? What evidence is there for a reality that is only material?

        • Bob Jase

          what evidence would support the scientific Materialistic worldview in contrast to the biblical worldview.

          Bats aren’t birds, insects have six legs rather than just four, pi doesn’t equal 3, exposing goats to shadows doesn’t make their offspring striped, rain doesn’t fall out of doors in the sky…. why should anyone believe a book that says these things?

        • Raging Bee

          So then explain what kind of evidence would be sufficient for you.

          Whatever you have, or claim to have.

          Bluff: called. Again.

        • Don Camp

          That is a fair question. But first the evidence that would be sufficient for you.

        • Raging Bee

          Quit dodging and show us whatever evidence you have. If any.

          You really don’t know how or when to bluff, do you?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOUR KIND don’t get to demand that we do the work of defining ‘sufficient’ evidence.

          YOUR KIND have *one* duty: to provide what evidence you *have*, and defend it.

          YOUR KIND, and *you* in particular, are *failing* miserably at that.

        • Michael Neville

          Just a few comments below I gave criteria for evidence (actually arguments, but let’s not cloud the issue even more than it is already) that I would not accept. That gives you a baseline. Now it’s your turn, show us some evidence that the supernatural world isn’t a product of the imagination.

        • Greg G.

          So then explain what kind of evidence would be sufficient for you.

          That isn’t how evidence works. People see things and try to explain those things. Ancients saw the sun and moon in the sky taking regular paths. They saw patterns of stars showing up on a regular schedule and noticed that their food sources varied with the constellations and the weather. They also noticed that some of the stars moved around in the constellations but didn’t appear at the same time in the seasons. They reasoned that the constellations brought certain plants and animals to them. They thought the other moving stars must be more powerful. Storms, thunder and lightning, floods, and the occasional earthquakes seemed like temper tantrums.

          So they explained all that with god thingies and used that to explain what happened when they die. They wanted to find how to appease the god thingies and confirmation bias led them to arbitrary solutions.

          But as humans made better observations and figured out how to test explanations, those old explanations fell by the wayside. Now we are left with explanations that have nothing to explain. Those people who insist on keeping the explanations that failed to actually explain what led to the explanations being conceived now must contrive ways to protect their beliefs from scrutiny.

          The scientific hypothesis explains known observations while offering the implications of the hypothesis to scrutiny. A scientific hypothesis will predict observations that have not been seen before. If an observation is made that does not support the hypothesis, it is discarded or modified with improvements to be tested by new implications. If the observations predicted are found, it gains support.

          Newton’s theory of gravity worked well but failed to account for the observations of the orbit of Mercury. Einstein’s theory of relativity did work with the orbit of Mercury but it also predicted that the path of light would be bent by gravity.

          A while later, astronomers noticed that during an upcoming eclipse, a certain star would be behind the sun and moon but if Einstein’s theory was correct, that star would be visible. So astronomers fanned out over the path of the eclipse to make the observations. They saw the star precisely where Einstein’s theory predicted it would be seen.

          All you have offered about your god thingy dimension is hand-waving and burden-shifting. If there is a spiritual realm as you say, tell us what observations we will be able to make that would distinguish this universe from being purely materialistic or having a spiritual realm, too. Do it without hand-waving, burden-shifting, and confirmation bias.

          Here is a sample of the kind of test you could do. This one supported that prayer was useless unless the person being told they were being prayed was told that they were, then it was detrimental. In the Aught decade, the Templeton Foundation wanted to test the power of prayer. Many investigations showed some support for it but they were methodologically flawed, so they were unreliable. The Templeton Foundation developed a methodology that corrected those experiments that came before. If intercessory prayer was as powerful as believers expected, it should be supported by the experiment.

          They had a large sample of patients who were assigned to groups randomly, not selected by humans, the care givers didn’t know who the patients were, the evaluators didn’t know what group the patients were in. That eliminated the possibility of human bias affecting the experiment.

          The patients were assigned to three groups, one group would be prayed for by churches and told they about it, another group would be prayed for by churches but not told about the prayer, and a third group wasn’t prayed for by the churches and were not told that they were.

          The two groups that were not told that they were being prayed for had similar results. The group that was told that they were being prayed for did the worst, nearly reaching the deviation that would have been considered significant.

          Yet believers still think prayer is effective. It is confirmation bias from counting the few hits as significant while ignoring when it fails.

        • Raging Bee

          You must know where I am going with this exchange.

          Yeah, bluffing and running away.

        • Michael Neville

          There is no evidence that supports the “biblical worldview”. None, nada, zip. If you want to parade your superstitions and delusions then you have to show that there’s the slightest morsel that perhaps some tiny part of them could maybe be possibly almost close to having the merest relationship to reality.

          Since none of us are arguing that reality is only material, then we don’t have to show any evidence to support a claim you’re making on our behalf.

        • Don Camp

          There is no evidence that supports the “biblical worldview”.

          I think there is. I’ve made reference to the evidence, some of which is subjective and some of which is objective, in other comments

          Since none of us are arguing that reality is only material,

          I do not know what anyone of you thinks about what is really real. You are right about that. But I do know what other atheists have said. I referenced one. It was from his book that I picked up the description of his atheistic worldview. I also know from your words and others here what you think is not real really real. But in fairness, why not fill in the blanks of the model of worldview: Or create your own paradigm and share that.

          1) What is really real? ________________________________
          2) In view of what i really real, what is important? ______________________________
          3) In view of what is really real and important, how should I live? _____________________

          Everybody does have a worldview, even if they have not articulated it. So thinking it through might be interesting for you.

          The other feature of most if not all worldviews is that they are built on something that is taken by faith without evidence, an assumption, in other words. . That may be over-stating it, but it is true of most. It is true of my worldview. It is true of the scientific Materialistic worldview. Neither of us can be absolutely certain by direct evidence that what we believe to be really real is true.

          So when I ask you to prove with evidence the first statement in the worldview paradigm, I don;t expect you to be able to do it. I cannot do it for mine either. However, we both think that our worldviews are demonstrated indirectly by evidence that supports them even if it is not sufficient to prove them. Coming to recognize that is helpful to me. I hope that it may be for you.

        • Michael Neville

          There is no evidence that supports the “biblical worldview”.

          I think there is. I’ve made reference to the evidence, some of which is subjective and some of which is objective, in other comments.

          Of course you think there is evidence and you even think, incorrectly, that some of it might be objective. The Bible is a collection of myths, fables and lies. The only people who think it has any relation to reality are Christians.

          I do not know what anyone of you thinks about what is really real.

          Yet you keep demanding that we provide evidence that reality is solely material, even though several of us have said that’s not what we necessarily think. But we’re used to Christian hypocrisy.

          You’ve found an atheist who makes the argument that reality is only material. Why don’t you ask him why he holds that belief instead of repeatedly asking those of us who are agnostic about the concept? Or is that asking too much?

          “What is really real?” The material aspect of reality is so obvious that even you admit it exists. The supernatural or “spiritual” aspect of reality might or might not exist. There’s NO evidence to support that it does and therefore I don’t believe it exists but I could be wrong. Unlike you, I’m honest.

          “What is important?” The material aspect is definitely important. The ONLY reason why the possible but highly unlikely “spiritual” aspect is important is because theists try to force their “spiritual” beliefs on the rest of us. If you guys kept your superstitions to yourselves then you wouldn’t hear anything about them from me. But since there are Christians who insist that everyone live by their rules I will speak out against them.

          “How should I live.” I try to live as moral a life as possible. How about you?

          Everybody does have a worldview, even if they have not articulated it. So thinking it through might be interesting for you.

          Until this comment I haven’t condescended to you. But your pompous condescension just begs for me to reply similarly. And so I have. Incidentally, there’s one thing you should know about me. I’m a retired US Navy Chief. If you continue to patronize me I can show you what the expression “swears like a sailor” means.

          I’ll be 72 next April. I’ve got a graduate degree, I’m well read, and I like to think I’m reasonably intelligent. So believe it or not I have given my worldview a bit of contemplation.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I’ve already described the spiritual entity/entities at some length. Here is a brief.

          1) personal;

          2) intelligent

          3) spirit/non-material (supernatural)

          4) powerful

          What evidence would you accept for such an entity?

          In the immortal words of TAE: “What have you *got*?!”

          You’re trying to shift the burden of proof again, by demanding a standard that you’ll weasel-word and pettifog your way to ‘satisfying’ without actually doing so, then attempt to pillory us as ‘hard-hearted’ and ‘inconsistent’, not to mention ‘closed-minded’.

        • Sample1

          When you say your deity is intelligent, what exactly do you mean by that? Intelligent like spiders who plan their attacks? dolphins who detect mines for a navy? astronauts playing guitars? You? Me?

          I ask this because it’s been many an atheists’ experience that all so-called justifications for the supernatural require an appeal to a naturalistic comparison if only analogically. Why is that?

          In naturalism we explain the seen in terms of the unseen. How? By placing theory laden explanations between us and what is observed. It’s a bit more but we will get back to that should you reply. Consider something we see, starlight (as David Deutsch mentions in his example). Our ancestors saw what they thought were small, cold dots of light in the night sky. Today we know that stars are actually enormous objects reaching tens of millions of degrees in temperature. And yet no human being has ever traveled to one. But I know you accept that stars are not merely small cold specks of light. Same here.

          Presumably you may also try to justify your supernatural claims similarly, if not precisely, as something you see but is further explained in terms of the unseen. I support this. By doing that you too are placing an explanation between yourself and what you see. We are both engaging a method of understanding through an intermediary: explanation.

          I do not deny that you have an explanation and I know you and I both agree on the explanation for the unseen as it refers to starlight.

          Now, back to what I said earlier about being a little bit more. How do you determine what a good explanation is? I’ll submit to you, using Deutsch once again, that a good explanation is one that is hard-to-vary and a bad explanation is one that is easy-to-vary. I’ll pause here but will be happy to explain those distinctions later if needed. For now, my agreement remains.

          You, and all religious are essentially doing what naturalists do: placing “theory“ between yourself and what you observe using the unseen to explain the seen. Where we differ is rather simple and it can be demonstrated by asking how do you know if you have a good explanation? What philosophical criterion are you using to make your explanation one of value in terms of knowledge? To cut to the chase, I’m guessing it will be different than the criterion of hard-to-vary which works for both of us for starlight but doesn’t when it comes to the supernatural.

          You may want to pause and reflect why that should be so. Why shouldn’t the method we use to arrive at knowledge, knowledge we already both agree upon (starlight), be different when it comes to the supernatural? Not asking for a reply to this question.

          For now I just have one. How do you know your explanation for the supernatural is good?

          Mike

        • Don Camp

          Okay. I’ll follow.

          When you say your deity is intelligent, what exactly do you mean by that?

          Simply I mean intelligent in much the same we are. He is able to understand things.

          Presumably you may also try to justify your supernatural claims similarly, if not precisely, as something you see but is further explained in terms of the unseen.

          Yes.Some of my supernatural claims at least. But that is little different than what a crime scene detective does when he examines a crimes scene and looks for evidence that might point to the cause of the crime.

          How do you determine what a good explanation is?

          I’ll go with Deutsch, at least tentatively awaiting your unpacking of that.

          how do you know if you have a good explanation?

          Multiple pieces of evidence that point to the same conclusion and little or no robust evidence that points to something else.

          Having served a time or two on a jury, this is what seals a case. Usually, the kind of evidence presented in a trial does not lead to absolute certainty. But that is not the criterion. It is whether the preponderance of evidence leads to a conclusion of guilt where doubt of guilt is far less likely. The more evidence the better the case, of course.

          Why shouldn’t the method we use to arrive at knowledge, knowledge we
          already both agree upon (starlight) different when it comes to the supernatural?

          I am not sure it does

          I’ll read the website. I wanted to reply freshly to your reasoning without getting overwhelmed by what is likely to be more than you have used. .

        • Sample1

          Great.

          -From my perspective being intelligent as we humans are just indicates that another human exists. Intelligent must be something more I should think.

          -Ok, for some of your supernatural claims you explain the seen in terms of the unseen. For other supernatural claims what are you doing?

          -If you go with Deutsch for explanation, we can, for starters examine supernatural attributes and see if they are logically cohesive.

          -Ok, you value evidence that points to the same conclusion. Is this a syllogistic conclusion using only reason by following true premises and/or something else?

          -I agree about not achieving absolute certainty. Naturalists are also fallibilists in that we recognize human beings make mistakes. Let’s plant a flag here as I can predict we’ll be returning to that.

          -You’re not sure it does. I do think it does. In another post I asked what changed a few centuries ago that hadn’t been discovered for most of our species’ existence? An existence where for tens of thousands of years a human could live without ever experiencing something new? Deutsch makes the case that what changed was discovering hard-to-vary explanations. Prior to this our species used easy-to-vary explanations when describing observed phenomena. With an easy-to-vary explanation new facts can be absorbed without changing the overall explanation, even if that overall explanation is wrong. Deutsch uses the ancient Greek’s explanation for seasons as an example. No matter what facts were found in subsequent generations, for instance lands in different hemispheres with opposite seasons, the overall explanation of Persephone,
          Hades and Demeter could accommodate those new observations. But neither you nor I believe winter is caused because Demeter, mother of Persephone, is sad therefore making the land cold and barren when Hades routinely steals her away for conjugal relations.

          Axial tilt, how angled surfaces reflect and absorb light, orbits, etc., go into a hard-to-vary explanation insofar as of one component of the modern explanation for seasons is changed, the entire theory would fail. Not so with easy-to-vary explanations which can accommodate new discoveries without destroying the overall explanation even though that explanation is wrong.

          Minus the unpacking, have I otherwise fairly described your claims for the other points?

          Mike

        • Ignorant Amos

          Having served a time or two on a jury, this is what seals a case. Usually, the kind of evidence presented in a trial does not lead to absolute certainty. But that is not the criterion. It is whether the preponderance of evidence leads to a conclusion of guilt where doubt of guilt is far less likely. The more evidence the better the case, of course.

          Am glad you will never sit on a jury judging me ffs.

          And I notice you have avoided the term “beyond reasonable doubt”.

        • Don Camp

          Having read the website, I wonder about the applicability of Popper’s falisfiability test to what is basically a philosophical claim rather than a scientific hypothesis. Talk to me about that.

        • Sample1

          Well, there are two things going on. Philosophy on the one hand and science on the other. Both flow from reason, that’s where I’m at. We use philosophy to establish the criteria for what we find, for lack of a better description, that which is cognitively valuable, namely knowledge.

          Deutsch, who extracts much of his philosophy from Popper and others (Quine, Pierce), distinguishes between two different types of knowledge. In his latest iteration, he describes knowledge rather succinctly: information that has causal power. The latter is used in the context of a knowing subject. Another kind of knowledge would be DNA, genetic information that itself is not a knowing subject.

          I haven’t fleshed it all out but I do understand his thinking on this and tentatively agree about the distinctions between a knowing and unknowing object which he gets from Popper. My intuition is to unite them but haven’t thought much about this lately. At any rate…

          As an aside, I am unlike Feynman who was fairly derogatory of philosophy as has been Krauss (though he has tempered his thoughts on that lately). I’m further removed from Harris’ approach which seems to be that the is/ought dichotomy is ultimately an illusion. That said, I applaud Harris for his work in that area and hope he succeeds some day.

          I’ve no problem with philosophy living alongside science. However, depending on the philosophy we may use scientific methodology to dispatch good philosophies from bad ones which seems to suggest science may have more comparable value for some circumstances.

          Clear as mud?

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • Don Camp

          Thank you. If you don’t mind I will follow lowly o I have a chance to think through what you are saying – a well as because I have another life to live as well a the one on the internet.

          information that has causal power. The latter is used in the context of a knowing subject.

          I’ll agree with that. I, as a Christian am regularly impressed with how much emphasis i placed on knowing in the Bible. And that knowing is always described as causing something. I am alo impressed by the somewhat regular use of the Greek word epignosko rather than the word gnosko. (The attached preposition intensifies the idea.) It means to know deeply and personally. That kind of knowing causes change in people and ultimately change in the part of the world they touch.

          But as to Popper’s falsifiability test. It has good use in science, though even then it may fail to screen out bad ideas from good. But in philosophy where ideas are tested by logical consistency and coherence, how does it work?

        • Sample1

          But as to Popper’s falsifiability test. It has good use in science, though even then it may fail to screen out bad ideas from good. But in philosophy where ideas are tested by logical consistency and coherence, how does it work?

          Logic is used in both disciplines, science and philosophy. Popper, however, established falsifiability as a criterion in science, not philosophy. Philosophy is tool of reason, a tool of thinking and questioning. In this case we are using that tool to determine, through thinking, what we want to value in reality; in this one case it is the empirical. Just to be clear, saying “the empirical” is not to be confused with the philosophy of empiricism (namely the assertion that all knowledge comes through the senses, which is rejected by theory laden explanations describing the seen [senses] in terms of the unseen [not through the senses]). Empirical for this post’s purposes refers to: (from dictionary)

          based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

          Scientific theories are incrementally corroborated and verified through experimentation. Those theories are not absolutely proved but through the criterion, which is a philosophical axiom of science, can be tested and shown to be false. Not being absolutely proved is a philosophical or theological fear, not a scientific fear. Scientists find all the confidence they need, and likely you do too, when explanations are theory laden and, crucially, hard-to-vary. I think it’s ok to have that philosophical, theological fear but until it can replace science with a superior method of fact finding, it’s an abstract fear in and of itself and as a result lacks a convincing proportionality. But the door is always open in science for better philosophical criteria.

          So contrary to what you’ve said, when it comes to the empirical, we precisely do screen out the bad from the good. But when you say bad ideas from good ideas you’re incorrectly conflating categories (intentionally or not) if by ideas you are meaning thinking and questioning which gets back to philosophy, not science.

          Lastly, some, like Sean Carroll, seem to take issue with some aspects of falsifiability, namely that even if some theories cannot be shown to be false that doesn’t necessarily mean they are unscientific. Both Carroll and Deutsch, for instance, support the Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics even though some claim that interpretation has untestable predictions. Because Deutsch is a Poppperian I suspect he understands falsification as not being a problem for the interpretation. I have ideas why Deutsch may disagree with Carroll’s concerns with falsification but haven’t seen them talk about that yet. Something I hope they do soon.

          tl;dr: Falsification àla Popper, has reasonable utility for the scientific method not philosophical methods.

          Thanks for the question. This is how I understand these topics, others may chime in.

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re purposely conflating ‘philosophical’ naturalism with ‘methodological’ naturalism, because you can’t defeat the latter, which is what the world runs on.

          You’re also trying to discredit your opponent’s position rather than supporting your own, which is the method of poltroons and weak-livered sissies.

          I mean, can’t you do better than THIS drivel you’re spewing?

        • epeeist

          You’re purposely conflating ‘philosophical’ naturalism with ‘methodological’ naturalism

          You’re sure he knows the difference?

        • Sample1

          It is that worldview with which I differ. I do not deny the ability of science to explain the natural world. I applaud science.

          That’s cool and all. Your worldview is yours to choose. Nobody here is against thinking or having the right to hold various philosophical beliefs.

          The problems come in when some have world views that “applaud science” yet push for their non-scientific philosophies to be taught in public school science curriculums. Or when non-scientific philosophical claims are used in medicine.

          Most atheists I know get along fine with believers and likewise. And I understand those who are anti-theist or anti-atheist. It’s when philosophy steps out of the abstract and into the real that emotions get flamed. I think that’s understandable too.

          We’ve come a long way in our species’ history and it’s always best, is it not? arriving at and solving problems through discussion rather than force.

          These internet discussions between atheists and believers often amount to Carl Sagan dragons in garages on the one hand and the limits of science on the other. The challenge is to utilize the strengths of both and concur on a worldview that allows progress insofar as that word can be agreed upon in some measure.

          What most in the West don’t seem to want are extremes like the bad bits of the Enlightenment (building cathedrals to reason) and the bad bits of religion (dogmas that demand obedience at the expense of conscience).

          But we should both reserve the right to call out lunacy as we see it. It just so happens, on the intertubes, religions provide a lot more crazy. Surely you understand where I’m coming from.

          Or something like this, just my .02..

          Mike

        • Don Camp

          The problems come in when some have world views that “applaud science” yet push for their non-scientific philosophies to be taught in public school science curriculums (not saying you do that).

          It happens that I agree, though as a teacher, I think that education should address life more broadly than just science. Even in high school I think it is appropriate that the ideas that have formed our society be given a place.And allow the students to probe the validity of those ideas.

          It’s when philosophy steps out of the abstract and into the real that emotions get flamed.

          How is that even possible? We can talk about philosophy or philosophies in the abstract, but each of us has a philosophy of life, often called a worldview, that orders their life in very practical and obvious ways. .Even philosophers do not live in an ivory tower. In fact, my first introduction to philosophy was in a college class at Portland State University where the professor was far from abstract regarding his views of religion and challenged every one who identified a a Christian.

          I have to say it was the bet thing that happened to me, but I doubt it was the professor’s intention..

          it not? arriving at and solving problems through discussion rather than force.

          That is definitely my philosophy of life.

        • Sample1

          By stepping out of the abstract this is what I meant. I am referring to actions in reality that are motivated by specific philosophies. As an analogy, there are young Earth creationists who are Jews, Christians and Muslims. Would you support their motivated philosophical reasoning (in large part theological) if your child or someone else’s child went to a public school? I should think not for, *gasp* do you want Islamic philosophy instructing your child about what reality is according to their philosophy?

          Children can learn about religions and their philosophies from their own parents or in extra curricular activities at the direction of the parent. We don’t teach logic 101 (explicitly) to children either. We do our best when we guide children to learn in a manner that fosters independence and success when adulthood is reached.

          But on balance, I agree with most of what you’ve stated. Let’s celebrate.

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • Don Camp

          Would you support their motivated philosophical reasoning (in large
          part theological) if your child or someone else’s child went to a public
          school?

          If there was opportunity to provide an equally cogent introduction to Christian motivated philosophical reasoning, I might. But the fact is our society is in large part the product of Christian philosophy, not Islamic. I think it is appropriate for all of u to understand the bases of our society. And to have the opportunity to examine them critically. It does not need to be a class on comparative religions or Logic 101 to achieve that end.

          Isn’t that the goal of a liberal art education in college, the examination of ideas and the building the skill to do it? No class in college or high school for that matter should be indoctrination in any one philosophy. I include science in that statement. As you know modern science is philosophy based. Why not be open about the philosophy that drives science and have the opportunity to think critically about it?

          The real problem I see with education in America is that it has become the spokesperson (a politically correct term) for whatever philosophy is politically correct at the moment. That should be balanced by a critical appraisal of the philosophy.

          Now, a a teacher in high school, that is a huge job. We have difficulty even teaching the skills of critical thinking – English/writing and science are usually the places where those are introduced. So the ideal may not be the practical. But I do think schools must stop being the agent for enforcing politically correct ideas by demonizing alternative ideas.

        • Sample1

          Lots of red meat to attack here Don! And I was just thinking of going back to a more vegetarian lifestyle. I’m hungry but I’ll pass
          on all the juicy fare offered.

          There are plenty of others who can lick this plate clean!

          Mike

        • Don Camp

          *SMILE* I am noting if not provocative. But let’s do get back to the original topic.

        • Sample1

          If nobody else takes it up by tomorrow I’ll take a crack at it but no guarantee.

          Mike

      • Ignorant Amos

        Don needs to, “get in the fookin’ sack!”

    • Raging Bee

      It is the scientific Materialistic worldview that is new on the stage and making extraordinary claims.

      Such as…?

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        It is the scientific Materialistic worldview that is new on the stage and making extraordinary claims.

        Such as…?

        Being silly here:
        – Conversing in real-time with people tens of thousands of miles away
        – Curing diseases that prayer can’t TOUCH
        – Providing an ethos that actually empowers people to live their own best lives

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        This seems to be a rather obvious fallacious appeal to antiquity. This unfounded claim was around first, so pointing out that it is unfounded is extraordinary!

        Pretty stupid stuff.

        • Raging Bee

          I guess we should consider it a promising sign when apologists are down to such obviously st00pid and implausible arguments.

    • Raging Bee

      It is the atheist who has the burden of proof that reality is wholly material.

      The existence of material things and events has been proven. The existence of NON-material things and events has not. You theists are the ones claiming the existence of the latter, so it’s YOUR job to prove those claims.

    • eric

      It is the atheist who has the burden of proof that reality is wholly material.

      If they make that strong claim.

      I don’t claim to know or assert ultimate nature of reality. What I do know is, so far every phenomena we’ve been able to explain has had a material explanation. Based on that, my provisional expectation is that supernatural claims of ghosts or past life memory or telepathy or faith healing have one too. Also based on that, I bet currently unexplained things like the big bang will have a material explanation. I could be shown to be wrong in the future, but that’s my provisional expectation. And if you want me to give up that provisional expectation, all you have to do is show good evidence of a non-materialistic explanation for some observed phenomena. But until you do that, I’m sticking with my provisional expectation.

      • Don Camp

        so far every phenomena we’ve been able to explain has had a material explanation.

        Explain intelligence appearing in the cosmos against all the odds by purely material means.

        if you want me to give up that provisional expectation, all you have to do is show good evidence of a non-materialistic explanation for some observed phenomena.

        If I alone were to suggest a non-material cause for the cosmos and its present form, you would probably shrug that off as insignificant. So let me send you to several who do have some credibility in that they do understand the limits matter and the puzzle of the emergence of present comos.

        1) “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a

        corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world

        began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of

        every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the

        earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces

        they cannot hope to discover…. That there are what I or anyone would

        call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically

        proven fact.”

        –Robert Jastrow, the astronomer and physicist who founded NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, as cited in his book God and the Astronomers.

        2) “It is relatively unusual that a physical scientist is truly

        an atheist. Why is this true? Some point to the anthropic constraints,

        the remarkable fine tuning of the universe. For example, Freeman Dyson, a

        Princeton faculty member, has said, ‘Nature has been kinder to us that

        we had any right to expect.’”

        –Quantum chemist Henry F. Schaefer III, five time nominee for the Nobel Prize, as quoted in his essay Stephen Hawking, the Big Bang, and God.

        3) “I think only an idiot can be an atheist. We must admit that
        there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight
        and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first
        place.”

        —Christian Anfinsen, winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on ribonuclease.

        • eric

          If I alone were to suggest a non-material cause for the cosmos and its
          present form, you would probably shrug that off as insignificant.

          Sure, because suggesting is not providing evidence. I thought I was pretty clear: I’ll consider changing my provisional expectation when someone shows me evidence of a non-material explanation.

          None of your three quotes do that. They simply give the argument from incredulity – i.e. that they can’t see how a material explanation will be found. But that’s not evidence for a non-material explanation.

          Let me illustrate the diference:

          Your quotes are like: “I can’t see how Newton’s mechanics will ever be able to explain the precession of Mercury.”

          What you need is something more like: “Angels push Mercury out of it’s proper orbit, and I can show you them in my telescope.”

        • Michael Neville

          Bob, I’ve got a comment pending your approval. I have absolutely no idea what word tripped the Official Patheos Naughty Word List™.

        • Greg G.

          Did you notice that you posted that to Don?

        • Michael Neville

          I posted a comment and got the “your comment is awaiting approval”. I know it was visible for a while because you upvoted it but it isn’t there now.

        • Greg G.

          I looked at the comment that I assume was the one but I didn’t see a word on the hit list.

        • Michael Neville

          I didn’t either. It was a quite harmless comment with no profanity, sarcasm or anything that I could see that might be objectionable.

        • Greg G.

          Explain intelligence appearing in the cosmos against all the odds by purely material means.

          I don’t know that it is against the odds. There are billions of galaxies with billions of stars. Planetary systems are not that rare. It is likely that there will be at least one planet with liquid water. Once you get self-reproducing molecules, stochastic processes will become more complex. Then it is a matter of how much energy the intelligence uses verses how much more energy it can gain by extra intelligence and reproductive benefits.

          It’s not a matter of odds, it is likely to be inevitable, not a matter of if but when.

          And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover

          Clarke’s First Law:
          When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
          Clarke’s Second Law:
          The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
          Clarke’s Third Law:
          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

          My addendum for Clarke’s First Law:
          When a distinguished but elderly scientist pontificates about god thingies, he is certainly wrong.

        • Susan

          Explain intelligence appearing in the cosmos against all the odds by purely material means.

          God of the Gaps, strawmen, argument from authority, argument from antiquity. Just in the last few comments of yours that I’ve read.

          A lot of argumentum ab rectum since you got here.

          And repetition of all of the above.

          And you wonder why nobody’s buying your snake oil.

          (Actually, you don’t wonder at all. You ignore their explanations and create strawmen instead.)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Explain intelligence appearing in the cosmos against all the odds by purely material means.

          Explain how YOUR KIND somehow ‘calculate’ odds of intelligence arising.

          Be specific and show your work.

          I’ll wait.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I also noticed that he made no attempt to explain how intelligence arises by non-material means…. or even what “non-material means” means. He left it casually unstated, as if we can just presume it is possible and highly probable.

        • Raging Bee

          re your #3: there’s plenty of atheists who aren’t idiots, and plenty of theists who are. So that assertion is demonstrably false, and further sinks what little credibility you may have once had.

        • Don Camp

          Those words are not mine. Your quarrel is with Dr. Anfinsen.

        • Raging Bee

          You quoted them, so they sink your credibility along with his.

        • Zeta

          I knew virtually nothing about Anfinsen. When I read that quote from him, I conclude that he is a very naive or delusional believer, just like that laughable Oxford mathematician John Lennox.

          I have long realized that great achievement in science or other areas has very little to do with their authority in religious belief. Quoting them on something totally outside their areas of expertise is itself naive. They can be just as delusional as any preacher like Don Camp. I always wonder whether they had spent time looking into the history of their god who was invented in the Ancient Near East as a tribal war god and later became the most powerful god in the Universe because some of his believers with political power declared so. Laughable indeed!

        • epeeist

          So, you found a few high level scientists who are Christians, something that surprises nobody.

          You weren’t trying to add hasty generalisation to the list of fallacies you have committed while you have been here are you?

        • Raging Bee

          Yeah, he seems to be ignoring the high level of scientists who are/were Muslims.

        • Don Camp

          So, you found a few high level scientists who are Christians, something that surprises nobody.

          Actually I found people who were able to combine the spiritual and the material in one reality.

          Looking back over the last 1600 years we have swung from one extreme to the other. For a thousand years in the West the focus was on the spiritual. And because that was out of balance, we got it pretty messed up. The Enlightenment marked the point of change in direction toward the recognition that the material world is also real and important.

          There was a moment in which the pendulum was at mid-swing and men and women were able to put the spiritual and the material together in a balance. At that mid-swing there were scientists who lived comfortably in both realities. Maybe the best known is Isaac Newton, but there were many others.

          Today the swing has gone beyond center to another extreme, from the Age of Faith to the Age of Reason. In this extreme the spiritual is neglected or even denied and the material is the only reality that matters. Except for a few. The scientists that are listed ion the website are some who have been able to live in the center balance point. There are also others who are not scientists who are living in the center balance point denying neither the spiritual nor the material. But there are a lot who have followed the siren song of our age of reaction to the spiritual and have denied it altogether.

          I think we may, should we live long enough, look back on this age as a second Dark Age. A dark age that will be as messed up as the first.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Actually I found people who were able to combine the spiritual and the material in one reality.

          Show me where even ONE of those people you quoted used this ‘spiritual’ whatever in their special field of scientific endeavor. Unless they did, your assertion is flat-out invalid.

        • Don Camp

          Why would it need to?

          The modern point of view is that science is king and the benefits of science for mankind trump everything else. But that is not the view of God. Of far greater importance is recovering the lost creation to fellowship with him. Consequently, the focus of the Bible is on that. After all, God did give us brains, and we know our brains can solve the problems we encounter in most fields of science, and he gave us a a natural world that can be understood.

          I would not be surprised, however, if a researcher who was engaged in solving scientific challenges and who also believed that God does guide us, would pray for that guidance. It is the pattern of dependence on God for wisdom that is part the relationship between God and man implied in Genesis 2,3.

          But you could ask a Christian scientist if you are interested.

        • Michael Neville

          So what has theology taught us that’s of any use? Science discovers things about our world (and universe) that affects each of us, sometimes in good ways, sometimes not. The reason why the Earth’s human population went from 990 million in 1800 to 7.7 billion today is improved health and food production. In 1600 three of five children died before the age of 5. Now the world-wide death rate for children aged 1 to 4 is 34.6 per 100,000. It wasn’t theology that improved childhood morbidity.

        • Don Camp

          So what has theology taught us that’s of any use?

          Oh my goodness! Thanks for asking.

          Right thinking about God and man (theology) has radically changed the world for good. Everywhere the message of Jesus has gone society has been changed. Obvious changes are seen in contrast to the cultures before the gospel was received. So take Rome. Roman culture was unusually brutal. Remember the gladiators? Probably. But do you remember to the practice of exposing unwanted babies to get rid of them (equivalent of abortion). Probably not. But when people became Christians they rescued and raised these babies. Eventually the culture was changed so that the practice of neonatal murder ceased.

          One more.. In New Guinea when missionaries first arrived was a culture of retribution where a wrong done one tribe by another demanded a greater harm be done to the guilty tribe. It was the Hatfields and McCoys super-sized That ended when those people received the good news of salvation and were changed by God, You can read the whole story in Peace Child by Don Richardson. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LA9G8HY/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

          But it was not only the primitive people who were changed. Europe was changed. Almost all hospitals and educational institutions in Europe were created and run by Christians, people who had themselves been changed by the good news of Jesus.

          The same can be said for America.

          One personal one, well, maybe two. I have a good friend whom I’ve known since the 1970s. He was an Air Force surgeon at the time at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. He shortly left the service and went to Africa where he served as a doctor in Kenya and elsewhere and established a program for training nationals to be doctors and nurses. I stood in his operating room one day twenty years ago as he taught surgery to Africans. He served there for nearly 40 years. And he served because as a Christian he believed he was called to make a difference for people who suffered. He was thinking right about God and man.

          My daughter went to India for the same reason. She and a colleague established a home for rescued trafficked girls in New Delhi. Their mission was to receive girls damaged by that experience and help them recover and acquire the skills to make their own way in the world. Over the years she served there, hundreds of girls were changed by that experience. My daughter was thinking right about God and man.

          Right thinking about God and man (theology) did all of that and is multiplied thousands if not millions of times across the centuries since the beginning of Christianity. Yeah. Right thanking about God and man changes everything.

        • Michael Neville

          Right thinking about God and man (theology) has radically changed the world for good.

          For reasons that I’m not going to go into I’m a student of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which started as a religious war between Catholics and Protestants. About one-third of the population of Central Europe died during the war and it took Germany centuries to recover from the conflict. Explain how that changed the world for good.

          You’re preaching at me, I’ve heard it before and, frankly, I’m unimpressed. As for your stories about your doctor friend and your daughter, I’m reminded of Steven Weinberg’s comment:

          Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

          You should be impressed by Weinberg since he’s a Nobel Physics Prize winner like many of the scientists you like to quote.

          In short, theology has brought hate and warfare to the world. And you praise it.

        • Don Camp

          Explain how that changed the world for good.

          I can explain how it did not. Right thinking about God and man was corrupted.

          I am a student of historical theology. This book and various seminary classes have been the doorway into this subject. https://www.chegg.com/textbooks/historical-theology-2nd-edition-9780470672860-0470672862?c_id=sem&c_id=sem&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=tb–long_tail-googleshopping_group6&utm_content=PRODUCT_GROUP&gclid=CjwKCAiA98TxBRBtEiwAVRLquwvsgG74KtjfMHGFoQ316hahix4CmGd2svuIKOJ5bKSU-7o7B0c_IRoC0KQQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

          Through history, right thinking, is regularly corrupted by poor thinking. When the failures of poor thinking become obvious and they are eventually, they have been corrected by right thinking. It has been an oft repeated cycle.The Thirty Years War is but one example of many where poor thinking created huge disaster. I can think of many others: the Crusades, slavery in America under the mistaken idea that slavery is biblical, the merger of church and state in Rome and attempted merger in America, etc.

          I would agree with Weinberg. I have said the same myself. Institutional religion is prone to corruption by people who use it for personal power or download into it their own agendas or simply allow poor thinking about God and man to dominate. That has been true for as long as there has been institutional religion and is true of every religion.

          However, that is a caution but not an argument against right thinking about God and man and the implementation of that in one’s life, (That is why doing theology is an ongoing pursuit though a slow process.) And it is the personal implementation of right thinking that motivated my daughter and my friend and the Christians in Rome to do what they did, not institutional religion.

          So how can you tell poor thinking form right thinking about God and man in any practical way? By the outcome. Right thinking results in good. Poor thinking result in dysfunction and disaster. So what do you think? Was the rescue of exposed babies from neonatal murder a good think or a disaster? Was my doctor friend’s medical service and training of doctors and nurses in Africa a good thing or a disaster? Was the creating of hospitals across Europe a good thing or a disaster? Was the ending of the revenge culture in New Guinea a good thing or a disaster? For that matter was the ending of slavery in America a good thing or a disaster? It was driven by Christian, you know. These things are the things I praise.

        • Raging Bee

          I am a student of historical theology.

          I am a student of historical REALITY. You got nothing.

        • Michael Neville

          How can I have right thinking about God and man when I don’t believe God exists? You forget that you’re writing to an atheist who believes your God is a figment of your imagination.

          But I agree about how religion, that’s all religion, is about power for the hierarchy. While some individual theists make concern themselves with helping people, the folks in charge of religions are solely interested in controlling others. We see this in the various rules they impose on the laity. Catholic bishops, who are elderly, supposedly celibate, male bachelors, make up rules forbidding contraception and abortion. These rules are about controlling women. If the bishops were interested in stopping abortions they’d promote the two things shown to lower abortion rates, comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraceptives.

          Fundamentalist Protestants go out of their way to make life miserable for LGBTQ+ people because “Gawd thinks butt sechs is icky“. The same chapter of Leviticus that calls homosexuality an abomination also calls eating pork and shrimp abominations, but we don’t see fundamentalists forgo bacon or shrimp cocktails. The fundamentalist leadership is being a bit more subtle than the Catholic bishops. The leadership isn’t so much interested in hating gays and transgenders as they are in bonding their flocks with joint hatred of “the other”.

          I could give other examples of Christian hatred and disregard for people but I know you’ll just find excuses to show they’re not so bad. Suffice to say that religion and blind worship of imaginary gods have been forces for evil in the world. So please consider how your worship is actually anti-humanistic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Alister McGrath?

          Bwaaaahahahaha!

          No wonder yer heads fucked.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Tc6EQ94GE

        • Sample1

          That was interesting particularly because McGrath seems to find value in the fact that there are many explanations for his faith but what he doesn’t do is establish here his criteria or even a theological criterion to critique many explanations. He seems to value the plurality of explanations for their own sake.

          Natural explanations are theory-laden (we model incrementally and reveal what our senses do not) and indeed, there may be multiple ways to explain the same observation, but Popper and others lay out philosophical criteria to distinguish the strengths and weaknesses between them; the most obvious shift from antiquity being how we view knowledge and that looking for foundations, as our ancestors did, is problematic because foundations are not immune to criticism and even failure. When that happens a new foundation is sought without realizing that the problem is the methodology that thinking foundations exist, that one can be found and then we’re done. This is theology.

          Instead we now recognize that knowledge is cumulative, multi-directionally, without foundations per se, (not to be confused with fundamentals). And it’s the explanation, one that is hard-to-vary such that theories are rejected rather than absorbing ad hoc auxiliaries. Something that easy-to-vary explanations (myths) do.

          It’s the HTV explanation in the form of theory, for any given observation or experience, that continues driving the unrelenting progress we’ve experienced these last few centuries and something no other known prior civilization uncovered despite having the same brain structure of modern human beings. This is Deutsch’s hypothesis at any rate, one that I find convincing, more than any other. But fortunately we don’t need to know what caused the shift, whether it was gradual or abrupt. Whether some historical cultures paved an easier path to discover it or not. We have it now and must protect it because there is no guarantee such a discovery is impervious to the whims of a fallible species prone to mistakes.

          As an aside, it may be important to know what caused that shift, something that was absent for at least 100,000 years in an environment of brain hardware similar enough to our own hardware today if, perhaps, it’s vital to get AGI developed similarly. But I’m just speculating.

          Anyway, thanks for the vid. Is it the camera that’s crooked or Alistair’s neck?

          😀

          Mike

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anyway, thanks for the vid.

          The interview ended up on the cutting room floor. It never got aired on the telly.

          Is it the camera that’s crooked or Alistair’s neck?

          McGrath’s neck. He often sits/stands with his head tilted.

          https://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-we-live-in-a-world-of-competing-narratives-in-the-end-we-have-to-decide-for-ourselves-alister-e-mcgrath-146-51-06.jpg

          He’s originally an Ulsterman to my embarrassment. His nasally voice gets right on my wick. Have ya noticed that about Christian apologists…from squeaky D’Souza to gish galloping Lame Craig…their voice grates.

        • Raging Bee

          Um…the Thirty Years War prevented Naz1 Germany from being created sooner! Yeah, that’s it…

        • Michael Neville

          There’s an argument that the Naziis came into power because of the Thirty Years War. But it’s quite speculative. Certainly the war delayed German unification for at least a century.

        • Raging Bee

          Yeah, the conditions for Nazism were created more by WW-I and the reparations fiasco afterword, plus the Great Depression.

        • Bob Jase

          How about Islamic Right Thinking? Buddist Right Thinking? Hindu Right Thinking? Jewish Right Thinking?

          Oh, those Right Thinkings are all wrong because you say so. Theological Right Thinking needs to get its shit together.

        • Don Camp

          Oh, those Right Thinkings are all wrong because you say so.

          I don’t think I ever aid that. There is some right thinking in every one of those and in secularism. And I think I also just said that Christians and Jews many times aren’t thinking rightly about God and man.

        • Raging Bee

          There is some right thinking in every one of those and in secularism.

          Yeah, and it’s the right thinking in secularism that’s consistently done the most good. And most of that good was done in the face of opposition by dogmatic religious authoritarians.

        • Zeta

          Don Camp: “Everywhere the message of Jesus has gone society has been changed. ”

          Yeah, sure. This reminds me of a quote from Desmond Tutu:

          “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

        • Raging Bee

          Right thinking about God and man (theology) has radically changed the world for good.

          Most if not all of that positive change was brought about by people using their own brains and organizing to create objectively verifiable solutions to observed problems. Religious and other supernatural beliefs were, at best, superfluous.

        • Raging Bee

          Right thinking about God and man (theology)…

          Wrong as always. That’s not what theology is, and you know it. Theology is about god(s), not about man.

          So once again, the only way you can pretend your superstition is at all relevant, is by pretending the thinking that HAS done any good is part of your superstition. Argument by labelling and miscategorization doesn’t work. We’ve seen it before.

        • Don Camp

          Theology is about god(s), not about man.

          Strictly speaking, that is right, though theologians would call that “theology proper.” Almost all theologians, however, recognize that theology proper is incomplete without understanding how other things relate to who God is. That is called systematic theology. If you are interested I’ve linked a book on systematic theology so you could look at the table of contents. https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Theology-Millard-J-Erickson/dp/0801021820

          You’ll note there is a chapter on humanity.

        • Raging Bee

          In New Guinea when missionaries first arrived was a culture of retribution where a wrong done one tribe by another demanded a greater harm be done to the guilty tribe. It was the Hatfields and McCoys super-sized That ended when those people received the good news of salvation and were changed by God…

          Yeah, right. The Spanish Catholics made the same claim about the Native South Americans, and British and other Protestants made the same claim about the Native North Americans. I call bullshit.

        • Greg G.

          The Protestants and Catholics have a culture of retribution to the present era, too, as seen in Africa and Northern Ireland.

        • Raging Bee

          Yabbut that’s CHRISTIAN retribution. As described in the Old Testament. Not at all like those heathen savage practices!

        • Michael Neville

          You know what those heathen darkies are like. They’ll kill you for no good reason, not like Christians who’ll kill you for not being a Christian or not being the right sort of Christian.

        • Don Camp

          You are welcome to your opinion.

        • Pofarmer

          Blah, blah, blah, blah fuckin stupid. Oh. My. Gawd. Is this one brainwashed.

        • Otto

          But that is not the view of God.

          It is always some human who has to pontificate on and on about what some gods view is….gods seem to be completely powerless to do it on their own. I wonder why that is…?

        • Zeta

          Don Camp: “if a researcher who was engaged in solving scientific challenges and who also believed that God does guide us, would pray for that guidance.”

          Don, we have been through this several times. Tell me what guidance can a god (if he exists) who is so ignorant and wrong about the world and the Universe (as revealed and documented in your ancient book) provide to scientists in their research?

        • epeeist

          Actually I found people who were able to combine the spiritual and the material in one reality.

          Begging the question of course, in that you haven’t established that your “spiritual reality” actually exists. We are still waiting for some objective evidence from you on this front.

          Oh, and I note that your people all just happen to be Christians. Is it only they who have managed this combination or have Muslims, Hindus, Jews etc. also combined their “spiritual reality” (which is of course different to the Christian “spiritual reality” as my appeal to Leibniz shows)?

          Maybe the best known is Isaac Newton, but there were many others.

          You mean the heretic Isaac Newton, the one who held the Lucasian chair at Cambridge, the holders of which include Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking?

          I think we may, should we live long enough, look back on this age as a second Dark Age

          You seem to be using “dark ages” in a way that no modern historian does.

        • Pofarmer

          I think we may, should we live long enough, look back on this age as a
          second Dark Age. A dark age that will be as messed up as the first.

          Just when I think I’ve read the dumbest fuckin thing on the internet.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        so far every phenomena we’ve been able to explain has had a material explanation.

        There is no alternative. “Material” just means the entity’s effect conveying mechanism is understood. Like light and space(time) before it, if the effect for anything “spiritual” were ever demonstrated, we would incorporate this new information into a more robust description of material reality.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Donnie-poo, why set up those strawmen just to knock them down?

      You KNOW that’s not the atheist postion…just as well as you know YOUR KIND, having the positive claim of something’s supposed existence, bear the burden of producing EVIDENCE.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Prior to the Enlightenment the default position was a reality that included both the material world and the spiritual world. A godless world would have been virtually unthinkable.

      Prior to the Enlightenment the default position would have been that SLAVERY was okay, too.

      Prior to the Enlightenment, the default position would have been that women were second-class citizens, too.

      Prior to the Enlightenment, the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ denied the very possibility of democratic governance.

      I could go on ALL DAY about all the good that the Enlightenment has provided AT THE EXPENSE of your hateful religion.

      And there isn’t a damned thing you can say against it.

    • Sample1

      You’re correct. Depending on how one dates it, it’s accurate to say that prior to the last three or four centuries, one could not safely criticize supernatural claims.

      So what happened? We have brains that are structurally similar, if not identical, to those ancestors who lived tens of thousands of years ago. And yet post Enlightenment reasoning escaped them. For a hundred thousand years humans could live an entire lifetime and never experience anything new.

      What changed in humanity where we now see relentless progress from about the 17th century onwards? And why did every other known society in human history fail to obtain what we’ve experienced these last few centuries?

      They had the same brains. What changed?

      Mike

      • Don Camp

        They had the same brains. What changed?

        Learning in creased. as a teacher I know that one skill or truth is built on another. In education we identify the goal – skills or knowledge – that we want our students to achieve in a particular year. Then we develop strategies to get them there from where they are. It is called scaffolding. That is what happened, and continues to happen in history.

        Historically in the West there was a period of time when our attention was on one aspect of reality, the spiritual, to the neglect of others. That impeded progress in learning. Those were rightly called the Dark Ages. But that wasn’t true worldwide. Other cultures continued to build upon the skills and knowledge of the past.

        The Enlightenment at the onset simply reset the ground rules of learning so as to include learning about the world around us. One outcome of that reset was the rejection of the spiritual. I think that is as much a mistake as that made by the men of the Dark Ages.

        • Sample1

          Learning in creased. as a teacher I know that one skill or truth is built on another.

          Correct. Now why did learning increase so dramatically in only the last 3-4 centuries? The ability to learn, after all, has been with our species for tens of thousands of years. There is no reason to believe that if we could pluck a person out of time from say 3,000yrs ago that he or she could not earn a professional degree today.

          Hint: for millennia human beings observed phenomena around them and they placed explanations between themselves and the phenomena.

          The Enlightenment at the onset simply reset the ground rules of learning so as to include learning about the world around us.

          Reset to what? To an historical period prior to the Enlightenment that also experienced unrelenting progress? There is no known period in history.

          Mike

        • Don Camp

          I went back to your list of posts and find that for some reason I don’t get notification of all of them. So in response to earlier questions:

          And why did every other known society in human history fail to obtain what we’ve experienced these last few centuries?

          I’ll take a guess based somewhat on the year I spent in India and reading in the history of the East. . I’d say it has been because different cultures hold different values. Every culture tends toward being ethnocentric and finds the values of other cultures strange and maybe even wrong.

          India right now is strongly protective of Hinduism. (That is the reason I am back in the States rather than in India.) Hinduism and the heritage of contemplation rather than confrontation is a high value to them. Ironically, the nationalists of India have taken to violence to protect it. It has not helped that India for several thousand years has been at the crossroads of cultures and religions that threaten the peace and rest in their valuess Indians seek.)

          That is changing, however. India is gradually adopting the values of the West whether PM Modi likes it or not, and it i not Christianity or Islam that is fooling that change and a danger to Indian values. It iss Microsoft and Hollywood.

          China has from very early valued their isolation from the rest of the world. That is changing also. But for India and China those values were more important than technological advance.

          There is no reason to believe that if we could pluck a person out of

          time from say 3,000yrs ago that he or she could not earn a professional

          degree today.

          The question would be whether they would want to earn a professional degree.

          Reset to what? To an historical period prior to the Enlightenment that
          also experienced unrelenting progress? There is no known period in
          history.

          There was Greece. There were the philosopher, whom we even today study and honor as the founder of philosophical inquiry into the nature of life as well as human freedom that made possible for them the artistic and scientific advancement that we continue to admire.

          The refocus on the classics of Greece toward the end of the Dark Ages/Age of Faith opened up the possibility of advancing in technology and art and social institutions.

          Ironically, the values of Christianity which should have welcomed a merging of spiritual and and practical values related to living in the physical world (It is certainly part of the theology of the Bible.) was hijacked in the fourth century and with its merger with the state turned to empire building and the protection of the institutions it created. .Christians were held captive to a dysfunctional understanding of God and man. Until the society it created was so dysfunctional that Christians themselves resisted. .That was the beginning of the Enlightenment that set free artists and scientists and philosophers to explore their spiritual roots,to create, to express; and it created the Western world of today.

        • Sample1

          I’ll take a guess…I’d say it has been because different cultures hold different values. Every culture tends toward being ethnocentric and finds the values of other cultures strange and maybe even wrong.

          That’s a decent guess insofar as yes, different cultures hold different values. Agreed. What we know today is this. Every culture maintaining absolute theocracies (Islam), monarchy (Holy See) or hermit kingdoms (NK), are stunted in terms of developing explanatory knowledge compared to those cultures that have adopted a tradition of criticism. There are many metrics one can point to: Nobel Prizes, inventions, published papers, etc. New explanatory knowledge. It is no coincidence that cultures without a tradition of criticism are always playing catch up with those who have it. Catch up not only in science and technology but also human rights and even morals.

          And that’s the answer I was getting at. Deutsch claims, and I’m compelled by it, that what kept human beings living lives, for trillions of years, where almost nothing new happened in the course of their meager lifetimes is almost assuredly, directly related to two factors: 1.) using easy-to-vary explanations for their experiences and observations; 2.) a failure to adopt a tradition of criticism. Two knowledge creating criteria ignored, hidden, suppressed, scorned, or accidentally missed for virtually all of our ancestors. I don’t know about you but that just astounds me.

          That is changing, however. India is gradually adopting the values of the West whether PM Modi likes it or not, and it i not Christianity or Islam that is fooling [sic] that change and a danger to Indian values. It is Microsoft and Hollywood.

          If it’s changing, that may be romantically lamentable, I can appreciate the tone in your post, but I’m unaware of a culture that doesn’t evolve. Evolution in cultures does not always mean the culture will fare well or as well though it can mean just that, or better. But it’s simplistic to focus on Hollywood and Microsoft. Joining the West is not all bad or even half bad. Cosmopolitanism has benefits
          lacking in isolation. It’s attractive enough, evidently, to effect a shift in an enormous population. They are the architects, ultimately, of their culture. There will be costs and benefits. And that goes for the culture they are shifting toward which will also see costs and benefits. This is a complicated topic to address and I’m limited, not even aware of any likely biases in how I’ve chosen to respond. And there it is. This was the most difficult of your paragraphs to respond to.

          The question would be whether they would want to earn a professional degree.

          If this is humor, fair enough. But if you’re serious, you’ve entirely missed the take away: humans 3,000yrs. ago, 30,000yrs. had the same brains we have today yet as far as we know, they all failed to discover what our ancestors did just a few centuries ago. It’s not about getting a professional degree. It’s about having the ability to if they wanted.

          There was Greece. There were the philosopher, whom we even today study and honor as the founder of philosophical inquiry into the nature of life as well as human freedom that made possible for them the artistic and scientific advancement that we continue to admire.

          Yes, that’s a plausible argument for further investigation. But remember, they ultimately failed to hold on to a tradition of criticism, if they once had it, and there is no evidence they outgrew their ETV mythologies for explanations about the natural world. Virtually anyone you know Don, today, knows more facts and explanations about reality than anyone from ancient Greece, including their brightest and best. But more importantly, anyone alive today wields a force so intuitive it is not even thought about. Like walking. We just do it. That force is understanding that knowledge is information with causal power and the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Neanderthals et al., all failed discover that. Their cultures perished.

          The refocus on the classics of Greece toward the end of the Dark Ages/Age of Faith opened up the possibility of advancing in technology and art and social institutions.

          I don’t know. HTV explanations and a tradition of criticism was still almost a millennium away. Not persuaded. But it is an interesting question. One could also argue how the decline and eventual destruction of the Library of Alexandria contributed or detracted to what we have now. Was there a single event or something gradual, a mixture of both that paved the way for HTV and TOC? I’m not sure. The mental acuity was always there, if nascent. That’s the utterly amazing fact. Could it be wrong to think a way, per se, was even paved? Shall we ignore cultural powers fundamentally adverse to criticism and explanatory shifts that transfigure doctrines into folklore?

          Ironically, the values of Christianity which should have welcomed a merging of spiritual and practical values related to living in the physical world (It is certainly part of the theology of the Bible.) was hijacked in the fourth century and with its merger with the state turned to empire building and the protection of the institutions it created. .Christians were held captive to a dysfunctional understanding of God and man. Until the society it created was so dysfunctional that Christians themselves resisted. .That was the beginning of the Enlightenment that set free artists and scientists and philosophers to explore their spiritual roots,to create, to express; and it created the Western world of today.

          I don’t know how to respond to a lot of this. So instead, I’m definitely going to fake that I can! Maybe you’re on to something. What we do know is HTV and TOC were not adopted in those eras and, in point of fact, were met with resistance from the powers that be when the Enlightenment was barely a flicker. You might be correct. I don’t think anyone has nailed down the definitive cause of the Enlightenment but when it refers to progress, many do want that credit! Those so quick to claim
          causal credit for progress deserve, inho, extra scrutiny. To me that’s less important than protecting what we’ve discovered because there is no guarantee we will keep it and plenty of evidence that some cultures are mere frenemies with it.

          Thanks for the replies. I’m not satisfied with this post but will leave it as is rather than delete and retreat. I already see I haven’t included much what I wanted to touch on as I was thinking about this whilst driving to pick up my fettuccine. Another time perhaps.

          Goodnight Don.

          Mike

        • Don Camp

          Thank you for a very interesting non-adversarial conversation. That is rare.I value that.

          A couple of thoughts:

          1) I think you may still be thinking ethno-centrically. You are making the assumption that our values as a scientific and technological culture valuing advancement in those areas is the best and should be adopted and will eventually be adopted by every culture. That would be the best possible outcome for the human race. But would it be?

          I read a sci-fi novel a long time ago when I was an aficionado that imagined a future world culture that .after the experience of a technological culture for millennia chose to value contemplation. It was imaginative, but it did recognize one truth about humans: values change.And that is your observation as wll. It may be that 1000 years hence we will not value science but will have adopted some other value. The scary thing is that not all values are beneficial. Some cultures value conflict and domination. If that were to prevail, the outcome would be disastrous.

          2) However, there are at least two reasons why science and advancement in knowledge about the cosmos is the expected destiny of cultural value change. It is the argument of two guys, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, in The Privileged Planet. that our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery. (They may mean that in a God designed way, but it would be the same ifour place in the cosmos was simply by chance.) Our place in the cosmos does invite discovery. I don’t think that is debatable.

          The second reason is our brains. We are hard wired for learning. We have both the ability to gain and organize knowledge that has causal power and the ability to criticize but the insatiable drive to do so. I think that is a cross-cultural fact. We can see it in ancient cultures as well as modern. The Sumerians, for example,, made huge and groundbreakig discoveries about the nature of the universe as much as 2500 years ago. Even before that the discovered temple (???) at Gobekli tepe demonstrates an incredible command of technology as much as 10,000 years ago. Slow in implementation in some cases we might be, but our destiny as a species ultimately is an increase in knowledge that has causal power.

          So in a real way we are destined to advance in science.

          However, it seems to me that as a species we are also hardwired to apprehend and connect with the spiritual. That too seems to be the message of Gobekli tepe. If it was not a temple, it at least had spiritual overtones. That apprehension of the spiritual has been characteristic of our species from as early as we can detect intellectual curiosity.

          And that brings us back to the original topic that had to do with how we can know there is a supernatural reality and how critically we have examined that knowledge.

          Enough for now. Breakfast calls.

        • Raging Bee

          “I think you may still be thinking ethno-centrically,” says the guy who thinks his ethnic group brought light and civilization to the rest of the dark(-skinned) world.

        • Don Camp

          Well, so does Sample1. Even more than me. Why not talk to him about that?

        • Raging Bee

          However, it seems to me that as a species we are also hardwired to apprehend and connect with the spiritual.

          That doesn’t mean anything non-material is real. Just like we’re also hardwired for racism, but that doesn’t mean whites really are superior to anyone else.

          ETA: Also, “spiritual” =/= “supernatural.”

        • Don Camp

          Also, “spiritual” =/= “supernatural.”

          Yes.

          No, being hardwired for connection with the spiritual.supernatural doesn’t mean it is real.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We have both the ability to gain and organize knowledge that has causal power and the ability to criticize but the insatiable drive to do so.

          Something Christianity has endeavoured to stifle in the past. And what Islam is doing in the present.

          The Sumerians, for example,, made huge and groundbreakig discoveries about the nature of the universe as much as 2500 years ago.

          Like what? What did the Sumerians discover about the “universe” that was ground breaking 2500 years ago?

          However, it seems to me that as a species we are also hardwired to apprehend and connect with the spiritual.

          How many times already? That’s now a bug, not a fix. There is no longer any need for it. This is understood by experts in the field. It is a by-product of evolutionary traits such as HADD. When we went from small groups of hunter-gathers, to larger communities, particularly with the advent agriculture, the spiritual world of “big brother” is watching you, became useful.

          This would have been a major issue in prehistory. As hunter-gatherer groups grow, they need to be able enforce a punishment mechanism – but the greater the size of the group, the less chance there is of being found out.

          Enter full-access agents: “We don’t see what you do on Saturday night, but there is somebody who does, so beware,” as Dunbar puts it.

          This idea was consonant with the intuitive mental tools such as HADD and intuitive morality, so it was well-received by our ancestors’ evolved brains. Plus it had the added bonus of regulating behaviour from the bottom up.

          “You always get better behaviour from individual commitment,” says Dunbar, “not coercion.”

          That too seems to be the message of Gobekli tepe. If it was not a temple, it at least had spiritual overtones.

          So what? Folk believing in woo-woo, tens of thousands of years ago, is not an argument.

          That apprehension of the spiritual has been characteristic of our species from as early as we can detect intellectual curiosity.

          Yes, but why? How many times have I and others shown you that the reasons are understood? You’ve failed to address this every time. Returning to the same tired horse, flogged to the bone, like it’s a new point.

          Religious beliefs are shared – and they’re shared by human animals with a shared neural anatomy. Our mental toolkit contains built-in biases, such as HADD, which is responsible for a number of false positives. (Most of the time it is just the wind!) For brains that seem wired to find agency and intention everywhere, religion comes very naturally.

          https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190529-do-humans-have-a-religion-instinct

          You don’t engage honestly. Weeks ago I cited from the following article. You ignored it. That’s before you were ignoring me officially.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/talking-apes/201808/why-do-people-believe-in-god

          Contrary to what my friend Mike thinks, you are not interested in engaging in fruitful and honest conversation. Though no doubt he’ll come to realise that going forward.

        • MR

          One of the things I like about Mike besides his honesty, diligence, patience and tenacity, is that once he recognizes the dishonesty in someone, he tends to end the conversation. I wish that happened more often around here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I wish that happened more often around here.

          It would probably be the more pragmatic approach.

          For some here, engaging the chew toy is like catnip. For others, shining the light on the continuous dishonesty and disingenuous tactics, might well let those in the audience see the nonsense for what it is. For some it hones the skills in dealing with the different ways the Christer, or whoever, attempts to weasel. Other reason abound no doubt.

          Each to their own, I say.

        • MR

          But I think that allowing the trolls to dominate pushes out more interesting conversation that would achieve those goals better. Let the troll make his case, expose the dishonesty and move on.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s fair enough when there’s a glut of chew toys to choose from.

          Some days are slower than others.

        • Pofarmer

          There is no “moving on”. They’ll just keep posting and posting And posting anyway. I remember having some very nice conversations with regulars years ago about some topics and the theistic trolls just come in and wreck it.

        • Greg G.

          But then the dishonest liars would post without rebuttal.

        • MR

          But there has to be a limit, otherwise you’re just giving them a platform. Months and months of trolling behavior from the same. ‌damn. trolls. is very not fun.

        • Susan

          otherwise you’re just giving them a platform. Months and months of trolling behavior from the same. ‌damn. trolls.

          I agree.

          I have no interest in chew toys.

          I always feel compelled to call people out on their claims and their subsequent dishonesty.

          But they just change the subject to more dishonesty, and get away with it. Whenever, they’re cornered, they just utter some other piece of rubbish and escape their last claim.

          After a while, it’s pointless. There’s no winning. You’ve just allowed them to set up shop.

          Why do the honest ones always leave? (rhetorical question)

        • Sample1

          1) I think you may still be thinking ethno-centrically. You are making the assumption that our values as a scientific and technological culture valuing advancement in those areas is the best and should be adopted and will eventually be adopted by every culture.

          This is a very good misunderstanding but I’m appreciative that you raised it. Something said or not said obviously contributed to your position about this. Let’s clean this up as best we can. Not a cleaning and forgetting as if it’s wholly irrelevant. On the contrary, achieving that will show something sublimely universal about human beings. First, a primer:

          Ethnocentrism is a term applied to the cultural or ethnic bias—whether conscious or unconscious—in which an individual views the world from the perspective of his or her own group, establishing the in-group as archetypal and rating all other groups with reference to this ideal. This form of tunnel vision often results in: (1) an inability to adequately understand cultures that are different from one’s own and (2) value judgments that preference the in-group and assert its inherent superiority, thus linking the concept of ethnocentrism to multiple forms of chauvinism and prejudice, including nationalism, tribalism, racism, and even sexism and disability discrimination. -Intro, Oxfordbibliographies.com

          There is nothing in my worldview that prohibits any society from directing their own future or cultural ethos. Even if it differs from mine, assuming a mutual respect for one’s right to continue existing is shared. Here are two observations, not assumptions, that punch above their weight from group differences to universality:

          1.) Human beings experience problems. Problem here encompasses virtually any scenario when a person is, in some measure, unsure about what to do next.

          2.) All problems are the result of lacking knowledge (Deutsch).

          Ethnocentric? How? These logically impervious observations require agreement as universal features for human beings. Humans encounter problems when they lack knowledge. Even having knowledge presents new challenges, problems, that rest once again, upon lacking further knowledge.

          Compare that with theological metaphysics and religions generally. For Christianity, Jesus is the way. For Jews, keeping the Commandments, for Muslims, the five pillars, for Hindus the four goals, and on and on. Each one implicitly contends, that their ways and their values are better than others, if not superlatively best. I’m not saying all religions are necessarily ethnocentric, but religions have been an excellent vehicle for it. I don’t think this should be surprising considering many of the great world religions’ origins are tribal and old. Another discussion between the lines here is how have historically tribalistic world views, via religions, changed over time and what forces acted upon them to help that change? But let’s not go there now.

          As Sam Harris states, we don’t have a Christian physics or a Muslim algebra or a Jewish biology. These disciplines are not geographic like religions, they are universal.

          That would be the best possible outcome for the human race. But would it be?

          I don’t know. Is it sensible to consider that a universal desire to solve problems exists?

          I read a sci-fi novel a long time ago when I was an aficionado that imagined a future world culture that .after the experience of a technological culture for millennia chose to value contemplation. It was imaginative, but it did recognize one truth about humans: values change. And that is your observation as wll. It may be that 1000 years hence we will not value science but will have adopted some other value. The scary thing is that not all values are beneficial. Some cultures value conflict and domination. If that were to prevail, the outcome would be disastrous.

          It would take a bit to explain why, but there is nothing in this paragraph I substantially disagree with. A few additions I’ll add, following your next paragraph can be applied to this paragraph too.

          2) However, there are at least two reasons why science and advancement in knowledge about the cosmos is the expected destiny of cultural value change. It is the argument of two guys, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, in The Privileged Planet. that our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery. (They may mean that in a God designed way, but it would be the same ifour place in the cosmos was simply by chance.) Our place in the cosmos does invite discovery. I don’t think that is debatable.

          Everything is debatable! That’s philosophy. But yes, some ideas do fit together tighter than others. Rather than calling our planet a place that invites discovery how about what Deutsch says, our planet is a hub for knowledge. Particularly explanatory knowledge and perhaps the only such planet. It appears the universe produced nothing new for about 13 billion year. A billion years or so after the Big Bang came the Big Boring. Now here we are, possessing a force (knowledge) that can shape not only our immediate landscape but even the galaxy and beyond, being limited only by the laws of nature. But there is no guarantee that’s unavoidable.

          The second reason is our brains. We are hard wired for learning. We have both the ability to gain and organize knowledge that has causal power and the ability to criticize but the insatiable drive to do so. I think that is a cross-cultural fact. We can see it in ancient cultures as well as modern. The Sumerians, for example,, made huge and groundbreakig discoveries about the nature of the universe as much as 2500 years ago. Even before that the discovered temple (???) at Gobekli tepe demonstrates an incredible command of technology as much as 10,000 years ago.

          If the word hardwired is going to be used, that draws me to biology. From that POV, we have been hardwired through evolution for maximizing reproductive potential. Our genes also have that trait, and it’s no hyperbole to say our bodies are vehicles for maximizing gene propagation. The Sumerians and any culture you might name before the 16th century lacked the discovery of hard-to-vary explanations and adopting a tradition of criticism. None of them produced the quantity and quality of progress via knowledge creation and its exponential scaffolding of good explanation that has been done in the last few centuries. I’m not sure you’re appreciating what Deutsch is saying. Let’s look at the Wright brothers. From first flight, seventy years later we were on the Moon. For thousands upon thousands of years Chinese, Middle Eastern’s, Alaskan Native’s, Egyptian’s and all others’ technologies and explanatory methods led to exactly what comparable avalanche of new knowledge? It’s mummified crickets. Moreover, as previously mentioned, there was nothing so significantly different about their ancient brains that if we had a Tardis and brought one to our future, there is no good reason to think they couldn’t assimilate and thrive in modernity. Yet they could not achieve what we have now in their own day. ETV explanations, a lack of a tradition of criticism held them back. That’s the Deutsch hypothesis.

          Slow in implementation in some cases we might be, but our destiny as a species ultimately is an increase in knowledge that has causal power.

          Not sure how you support that. Our destiny seems to be spatial oblivion even if we could, in some form, survive hundreds of trillions of years into the future. But current evidence supports that the destiny of our far future universe is maximal dilution. And there are plenty of challenges before us, more immediate than worrying about something as close to nothingness that can be conceptualized. 99% of all known prior life groans in agreement.

          So in a real way we are destined to advance in science.

          I have cautious confidence that such a possibility exists but it is far from certain. Almost every life form having their lightbulbs turned on are now burned out. There are a few inescapable limits to knowledge. One is that we cannot know what problems and challenges future knowledge may bring. The future is ours to keep but I see no evidence or good explanation that we are destined to keep it.

          However, it seems to me that as a species we are also hardwired to apprehend and connect with the spiritual…That apprehension of the spiritual has been characteristic of our species from as early as we can detect intellectual curiosity.

          The word spiritual is a bit nebulous, would you agree? Without specificity on that term, couldn’t we correlate curiosity to spirituality in the same way some label hockey or football as religions? I’m not sure that’s a point in favor of spiritual hardwiring. Can I offer a different view? Intellectual curiosity is one way to increase reproductive potential, if indeed it was directly selected for rather than a spandrel (an indirect secondary result). Let’s postulate that’s a deep characteristic of our species: curiosity. I’ve a few problems with that but let’s go with that hypothetical. Now, wouldn’t you agree that complex religions developed in time after such a deep trait? And furthermore, could those religions look backward in time and relabel a trait that was not initially religious as now being spiritual and do so through an easily-varied theological explanation?

          And that brings us back to the original topic that had to do with how we can know there is a supernatural reality and how critically we have examined that knowledge.

          I’m all ears. Perhaps it would help to know, from you, what constitutes a good explanation. You are proposing to demonstrate knowledge by explanation I presume?

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • Raging Bee

          You’re a teacher?! Given the utter crap you’ve spouted here (most of which you don’t even try to defend when called out), I think we should all pray to Apollo for your poor students.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’re a teacher?!

          Didn’t ya know? Hardly surprising, other than the self-proclamation, Don demonstrates nothing that would illustrate to the observer that he is a teacher, and a teacher of literature at that. Conversely, what he does demonstrate is completely the opposite.

        • Raging Bee

          Maybe he “teaches” at Liberty Madrassa…

        • Ignorant Amos

          He’s retired…or was retired.

          Of course he lies like a cheap watch. So a large pinch of salt must be taken.

        • Raging Bee

          The Enlightenment at the onset simply reset the ground rules of learning so as to include learning about the world around us.

          Yeah, because NO ONE EVER thought of learning about the world around us until the Enlightenment, amirite?

          One outcome of that reset was the rejection of the spiritual. I think that is as much a mistake as that made by the men of the Dark Ages.

          How was that a mistake? Did it cause us to stop making progress?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          rejection of the ‘spiritual’ makes it harder for authoritarians to abuse gullible marks.

      • eric

        prior to the last three or four centuries, one could not safely criticize supernatural claims.
        So what happened?

        We made heresy and blasphemy legal?
        The threat of burning at the stake is a pretty pragmatically effective method of getting people to pretend to theism. It doesn’t mean there is evidence of God, it just means people won’t publicly deny it.

        • Sample1

          Well, blasphemy laws remain in effect today with various levels of enforcement, up to death, in 77 countries across the planet.

          What you say is technically true. I agree. However, I’m hoping to discuss with DC the underlying change that provided the fertile ground whereby blasphemy laws could one day be made irrelevant.

          Mike

    • Ellabulldog

      Knowledge matters. You claim that reality is more than materialism.
      It’s not on others to prove the supernatural does not exist. You likely know that but know you can’t prove your burden.

      Yet, I can show you what gods and religions are. Yours too.

      Humans are emotional superstitious creatures. It’s part of our evolutionary history.
      Religions are cultural. They have also evolved over the centuries.

      We have knowledge of how the human mind works and how gods and religions are formed.

      Cognitive science, psychology, anthropology, comparative religion, archaeology and even biblical scholars can provide us with knowledge on what gods and religions are.
      The conclusions are not that these gods exist. We study such things so that we can understand why the human mind is so easily manipulated by others and why people believe irrational things.

      The Enlightenment happened when the Church and others lost their power to kill dissent.
      Today 82% of philosophers are agnostic. The 18% that are not likely live in the Middle Eastern countries that still kill atheists.

      Simple way to prove YOUR Christian god doesn’t exist. The Bible has errors. Evolution proves Adam and Eve did not exist and are myth. Genesis is wrong. 14 billion years is not 6 days and one to rest. No flood ever happened.

      Now I know you trust the false authorities that told you this story. I am sure you have a lot of sunk costs put into your faith. Likely you fear losing a mate, family or friends if you don’t keep “believing”.

      Lot’s of confirmation bias goes into holding onto such beliefs.

      Scientology is just as true as Christianity.
      A belief that witches are real is the same as a belief that Jesus is the “Son of God”.

      You likely were born more pre-disposed towards authority and also less rational/skeptical and more emotional.
      It’s nature and nurture.

      • Don Camp

        It’s not on others to prove the supernatural does not exist.

        I don;t think I have asked anyone to do that. I have asked them to justify their worldview with reason and evidence. To date every atheist who has responded has chosen to address the question by dismissing Theism. And that is what you are doing here.That is not a positive description of their worldview.It is declaring what you are against but not what you are for.

        Since many have challenged me to explain what I am for and to justify that with evidence and reason, I thought it only fair that they be as forthcoming as they ask me to be. So why don’t you give it a try?

        Simple way to prove YOUR Christian god doesn’t exist.

        i am sorry, but proving “my God”does not exist is not the issue. It is justifying your worldview.

        Now I know you trust the false authorities that told you this story.

        Actually if you had been following my conversation, I don’t believe in a six days creation, a worldwide flood, or the creation of man in his entirety (spirit, soul and body) de novo.. I think these foundational stories are not really intended to say any of those things. They are stories that are intended to carry truth about the nature of the world and man. In that sense they are truer than mere history or science.

        • Raging Bee

          I don;t think I have asked anyone to do that.

          Yes, you have — and you do it again in your very next sentence:

          I have asked them to justify their worldview with reason and evidence.

          Please go back to your FSB, GRU or ROC controller and tell them to send a better liar to work here.

        • Michael Neville

          No, you haven’t asked us to justify our worldview with reason and evidence, you’ve demanded that we provide evidence to show that only material reality exists. Since several of us have told you that we don’t hold that view, then your demand is meaningless.

          Our belief that gods (note that’s all gods, not just the immoral, sadistic bully you prefer) don’t exist because there’s no evidence to support their existence. You’ve also been told this several times. Maybe you’ll believe us when we tell you this but I doubt it. You’re more interested in arguing with the atheist who exists solely between your ears than with those of us who frequent this blog.

        • Don Camp

          So I know what you don’t believe. What do you believe? That is hat I was getting at. What is really real in your mind? This isyour chance to correct my assumptions.

        • Michael Neville

          I believe in the same sorts of things that most middle class, liberal Americans believe in. The only thing that’s unusual about my beliefs is that I do not believe there’s a magic sky pixie who created hundreds of billions of galaxies and has an unhealthy obsession with what people do with their genitalia. That’s it.

        • Raging Bee

          Why should we waste time describing our beliefs to someone who’s proven himself to be dishonest and arguing in bad faith for his own beliefs?

        • Susan

          You’re more interested in arguing with the atheist who exists solely between your ears than with those of us who frequent this blog.

          He’s invested in being a flashing billboard and completely disinterested in anything that impedes that function.

          There are many possible incentives for behaving like that.

          I’m not going to guess at what Don’s are.

          All I know is that he’s a propaganda delivery system and that he’s not interested in discussion.

          Repetition is his goal.

        • Michael Neville

          He’s asked me at least twice to explain what evidence I’d accept for his god not being imaginary. I told him what evidence I wouldn’t accept and got no reply.

          Like many theistic apologists he’s got what he thinks is the killer argument and tries to spring it on us. We don’t respond properly so he tries a variation or three to get us to play according to his rules. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that we’ve all seen this game before and we don’t care to play it.

        • Ellabulldog

          Not all atheists are the same. Other than they don’t have a belief in a god.

          Regarding a worldview? I don’t have a worldview. I live in reality. As do you.
          How some interpret reality can differ. Yet objective facts never change. We can gain more knowledge. We can learn that we were wrong about something. It’s a process that will never end for humanity.

          Humans are a tribal animal and developed behavioral traits over millions of years. Many of the things we do are automatic and we respond before our cerebral cortex kicks in.

          It’s all cognitive science/psychology.

          Some people follow/trust authority blindly.
          Others are more skeptical.
          Fear is a strong emotion and over-rides reason.
          Lot’s more…

          Now humans have to trust because that is how we survive. It works most of the time.
          People have to trust their doctors. ” still get second/third opinions”.
          Kids trust their teachers.
          Citizens trust their leaders. “today I’m not so sure”.
          Of course many trust their “religious” leaders too. They are held in high esteem by many. Why would kid’s or anyone question them?

          Some know this intuitively and have for thousands of years. Today we can teach it. Doesn’t mean everyone can change their behaviors or their minds.

          I want to know why millions of Christians will kill millions of other Christians in wars only because they were told to by their leaders.

          Cognitive science can give us knowledge about this.

          I’m not just interested in the religious aspect. It’s the cultural aspect. The political as well.

          It’s why sports hooligans attack the other teams fans.
          It’s why Sunni and Shia have been fighting for centuries.

          All about human behavior.

          I want knowledge.

        • Don Camp

          Regarding a worldview? I don’t have a worldview. I live in reality. As do you.

          That then is your worldview, and you amplify that is what follows. Okay! That is what I was hoping for,lear headed thinking about you life.

          Cognitive science can give us knowledge about this.

          And this i exactly what the author of the book I originally quotes said. He called it a scientific worldview.

          Thank you. I think you done a great job – the best of any who have tried – of getting in touch with your core beliefs and values.

          My question is the question my favorite street epistomologist, an atheist philosophy professor at Portland State University teaches his students to ask: Why do you believe that?

        • Ellabulldog

          not really.

          to clarify…

          I knew gods didn’t exist when I was a child. Science had nothing to do with it.

          Science is only a mechanism to learn more and we can use it to learn why people believe things.
          Which isn’t just about religion.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      FYI, “materialism” is not the constraint you think it is. It just means we understand the mechanism by which something conveys its effect. If souls, for instance, are ever uncovered, we’ll incorporate their mechanisms into a more robust understanding of “material” reality.

      Supernatural claims are not dismissed because they aren’t material, it’s because they are poorly defined, untestable and without predictive power. Solve these problems and you will find the traction you seek.

      • Don Camp

        It just means we understand the mechanism by which something conveys its effect.

        Or think you do. That is the dogma of Materialism, but that is the point I am challenging.

        If souls, for instance, are ever uncovered, we’ll incorporate their
        mechanisms into a more robust understanding of “material” reality.

        Actually “soul” comes from the word psyche. So in fact, that is considered by science. But that also leaves some questions about the psyche unexplained by reference to the physical only. Consciousness is an example. In an article for Scientific American David Chalmers lays out th4e hard problem. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/david-chalmers-thinks-the-hard-problem-is-really-hard/

        He is not religious and his expectations for any possible explanation are not religious. But he is claer that consciousness is a hard problem not yet solved and perhaps never solved.

        Supernatural claims are not dismissed because they aren’t material, it’s
        because they are poorly defined, untestable and without predictive
        power.

        I think that is an overstatement. And that is what several have been exploring with me here. But I appreciate your willingness to express your opinion.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Or think you do

          All understandings are provisional and proportioned to the evidence. It is not dogma and in no need of challenging.

          More importantly, you isolated a quote and lost the context it was in. It would behoove you to read my prior comment with an eye toward learning rather than looking for something to rebut. As a primer, consider that if anything spiritual exists it isn’t immaterial, but differently material.

          I think that is an overstatement.

          This is easy enough to for you to prove. Just provide a spiritual hypothesis that meets one of the criteria o mentioned. If you can, I will gladly concede error.

        • Sample1

          I’m kind of new in this forum (usually sticking to another on another network). But that network is boring me and I’ve exhausted any talents I may have for subjects that just keep getting recycled.

          When I first looked in here I saw a lot of topics on your plate and heated exchanges ensued. I’m not a tone-troll and generally don’t begrudge anyone’s style or use of speech.

          But what you closed with here, thanking someone for their views is great to see. It means you’ve read what they offered. And at the end of the day that’s a lot of what goes into good conversation, knowing that each side is at a minimum being listened to.

          Just offering this observation because I think you want to have conversations. Proceeding as you have, particularly with me, will find an ear from even those who vehemently disagree with you.

          Good luck!

          Mike

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just offering this observation because I think you want to have conversations.

          Unfortunately mate, it pains me to say, but your observation on this occasion is dead wrong. Probably because of your short term experience with Don, it’s totally understandable.

          He’s lied, preached, quote mined, tone trolled, used a huge bag of fallacies, hit the reset button multiple times, intellectual dishonesty, promoted his crappy blog ad nauseam…you name it, Don’s used every Christer ploy there is out there.

        • Sample1

          Understood and thank you. Perhaps such a history of apparently disagreeable behavior suggests he is exactly the kind of person who needs engagement from different voices than he’s previously learned from?

          But I hear you. We all have our limits.

          Mike

        • nydiva

          Perhaps such a history of apparently disagreeable behavior suggests he is exactly the kind of person who needs engagement from different voices than he’s previously learned from

          LOL! Your comment reminds me of when I was a student teacher and my master teacher warned me about a troublesome student I had taken under my wing. No one understood the poor kid, I thought. My mentor predicted I was going to get burned and she was right.

          Don Camp has been around on at least two atheist blogs and you are not the first to suggest this but Don’s dishonest behavior speaks for itself. He was kicked off Debunking Christianity for deliberately ignoring the blog host’s house rules. But this is a public forum, so have at it as you like. Enjoy his preaching.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, certainly using a different approach is a tactic I support wholeheartedly.

          There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

          I was just giving you a heads up.

        • Sample1

          Some people would have serious moral qualms in this scenario: a guy of some prior long standing and unfortunate criminal delinquency murders yet another woman. All previous social contract programs aimed to assist the most destitute among us have failed.

          This guy goes back to the state penitentiary and kicks his cell mate in the head. The cellie dies from a brain bleed but before he does managed a near lethal defensive punch of his own against his attacker. And now that failed and broken prisoner who just killed his cell mate is on a hospital stretcher. He stared upward, before losing consciousness, at more strangers who’ve signed the social contract and with their life saving technologies, contemplate how best to save his life. Someone blurts out, “this is a piece of human excrement lying here”. Someone else nods. But they get to work.

          The doctor arrives and after much difficulty finds a way to halt what a contract-less Nature would claim for the worms without blinking.

          Later one of the staff, the one who nodded, asks, “what an utter waste of time and expense for someone who is incapable of rehabilitation. We have a serious healthcare crisis in this country!” “True,” says the doc. “But the next time there is someone in my ER who meets a higher ideal in terms of social admiration, my work on that prisoner honed my skills that much more and allows me to help more people like the nice one here now.”

          The prisoner goes back to jail where hopefully the medical counterparts will once again resume rehabilitation for him. Knowing if they too fail, their skills will be honed for the next person. That’s the loop, a loop that ultimately values human beings. A loop we’d all be poorer for if abandoned.

          I’m not comparing any interlocutor here to that prisoner. At all. But the benign corollary holds. Discussion engagements may fail with one but they add to experience and because I believe all problems are the result of lacking knowledge, I can’t be picky where that knowledge comes from. What’s the current problem? I think it’s not being aware of what it means to say an explanation is good.

          So that’s why I continue. But yes, knowledge can also inform us when we’re being played or engaged dishonestly. When our time can be better spent elsewhere. So far, I’m not at that point. Should it come, there are plenty of loops elsewhere online to take up the discussion, or I should hope so. As an aside, my time at SN is almost at an end.

          Those are my thoughts on discussion challenges like these. But your input is just as valuable. It all adds.

          Thanks Paul, always appreciate you. You’re the monkey on my shoulder. 😉

          Mike
          Edit done. Final.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fair analogy. No one can know the future.

          I’m not comparing any interlocutor here to that prisoner. At all.

          Of course not. And analogies can only go so far. Don would be the murderer that keeps reoffending over and over again. There comes a point, that it behooves the system to place the safety of others above repeated failed attempts to fix his brokenness. That’ll be when the moderator steps in.

          But the benign corollary holds. Discussion engagements may fail with one but they add to experience and because I believe all problems are the result of lacking knowledge, I can’t be picky where that knowledge comes from.

          Indeed. Hence the reason some continue to engage his nonsense. Even me, who he has blocked. Feet held too close to the fire is my reckoning. But tone trolling is the excuse.

          What’s the current problem? I think it’s not being aware of what it means to say an explanation is good.

          A few years back, Don wrote a scathing critique of a Dr. Hector Avalos video. Avalos was so incensed with Don’s stupid fuckwittery that he wrote a 28 rebuttal paper. Don demonstrates no knowledge of even having read the paper. The two of them got into an extended back and forth on Debunking Christianity. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Don will not be swayed. And that’s fair enough. Sticking to one’s guns. The problem here is not that. It’s that Don Camp would have ya believe that the subjects have not been addressed. He keeps repeating the same bilge like it is novel. Especially when he gets a new interlocutor. It’s like everyone else has just vanished. He’s like a Rick Delano or Luke Breuer, but worse.

          Anyway. What’s relevant here is your gentlemanly conduct in giving Don enough rope to hang himself and not letting others views cloud your judgement. Enjoy the ride.

        • Raging Bee

          Actually “soul” comes from the word psyche. So in fact, that is considered by science.

          No, boy, changing your use of a word doesn’t make anything more “scientific” than it was before.

          I think that is an overstatement.

          Okay, show us how it’s wrong. We’re waiting…

          I love the smell of exhausted blither-points in the evening…

        • Don Camp

          Just trying to be more precise than the common usage of the word soul.

          Biblically, soul/psyche is the seat of our personality. It is where emotions arise. It is It is the outward and visible us.Psychologists (scientists???) study and deal with the psyche. It is interesting that some animals also have souls. That is they have emotions; they think; they relate; they have personalities. The human soul does continue after the death of the body.

          The essential me, however, is described as spirit (sometimes called heart). That is the me that is not so visible and, in fact, is often hidden. It is the part of me from which my intentions and the direction of my life arise. The spirit can be wicked. It can also be redeemed and renewed in righteousness. The spirit continues after death.

          The body sometimes called flesh and blood) does not continue.after death. It is resurrected in a new body that is not susceptible to death. All animals have bodies. Bodies, of course, being physical can be examined and explained by science.

          I know that is more information than you want or need, but these are the accurate terms to use in reference to human beings, if you wish to be precise.

        • Raging Bee

          No, in most religious doctrines, the soul is a SUPERNATURAL entity that lives on after its worldly vessel has died. You can choose to use the word differently, of course, but that won’t change what it means to those who believe in “immortal souls” and the like.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yes, this is the most blatant equivocation I’ve ever encountered. Does Don really think an atheist objects to the idea of a psyche? Is he willing to concede that is all “soul” means and nothing survives bodily death?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just trying to be more precise than the common usage of the word soul.

          No. As usual, you are employing obfuscation in order to dishonestly support your nonsense. Conflating two definitions of psyche in the process.

          psyche:- The human soul, mind, or spirit.

          Which means…

          soul (religion, folklore):- The spirit or essence of a person usually thought to consist of one’s thoughts and personality. Often believed to live on after the person’s death.

          So fuck all to do with science.

          psyche (chiefly psychology) The human mind as the central force in thought, emotion, and behavior of an individual.

          Which is the science definition.

          The dishonesty is hanging right outta ya.

        • Michael Neville

          The human soul does continue after the death of the body.

          How could you possibly know this?

        • Don Camp

          All my replies to biblical questions are based on what the Bible says to the best of my ability.

        • Michael Neville

          So you don’t have good or even mediocre evidence that the soul as described by you continues to exist after death. Remember that atheists consider the Bible to be a collection of myths, fables and lies. But don’t think we’re only picking on the Bible, we have the same opinion about all other “holy” books.

        • Don Camp

          Michael, I don’t have time to deal with every topic. If you want to you could pursue the topicby looking at near death out of body experiences.

        • Michael Neville

          Near death experiences just show that the brain throws up some weird stuff when it’s oxygen starved.

          You made the claim that souls and the psyche are synonymous. Okay, I’ll accept that as a working hypothesis. Then you claimed that the soul/psyche live on after death. Without strong evidence I’m rejecting it.

        • Don Camp

          okay

        • nydiva

          Don Camp: “The human soul does continue after the death of the body.”

          Michael Neville: “How could you possibly know this?”

          Don Camp: “Michael, I don’t have time to deal with every topic. If you want to you could pursue the topicby looking at near death out of body experiences.”

          In other words folks, Don Camp doesn’t know this; he simply believes this. Don Camp obviously doesn’t have any objective testable evidence for this religious claim that the human soul even exist much less continues after the death of the brain.

        • Don Camp

          Since the word for soul i a translation of the word psyche and seems to mean something very similar to what we mean by psyche, I’d say there is certainly reason to believe it exists. l.

          Here’s the defintition:

          [Greek psychē] a : soul, personality the nation’s consumer psyche— D. J. Kevles b : the totality of elements forming the mind (see mind entry 1 sense 2) specifically, in Freudian psychoanalytic theory : the id, ego, and superego including both conscious and unconscious components

          If it is not real, then psychologists and psychiatrists are practitioners of the black arts???

        • Ignorant Amos

          If it is not real, then psychologists and psychiatrists are practitioners of the black arts???

          The words have more than one definition ya stupid fucker.

          The current scientific consensus across all fields is that there is no evidence for the existence of any kind of soul in the traditional sense. Many modern scientists, such as Julien Musolino, hold that the mind is merely a complex machine that operates on the same physical laws as all other objects in the universe. According to Musolino, there is currently no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the existence of the soul; he claims there is also considerable evidence that seems to indicate that souls do not exist.

          The word “mind” is preferred by cognitive scientists to “psyche”. The mind is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity’s thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.

          Neuroscience as an interdisciplinary field, and its branch of cognitive neuroscience particularly, operates under the ontological assumption of physicalism. In other words, it assumes—in order to perform its science—that only the fundamental phenomena studied by physics exist. Thus, neuroscience seeks to understand mental phenomena within the framework according to which human thought and behavior are caused solely by physical processes taking place inside the brain, and it operates by the way of reductionism by seeking an explanation for the mind in terms of brain activity.

          To study the mind in terms of the brain several methods of functional neuroimaging are used to study the neuroanatomical correlates of various cognitive processes that constitute the mind. The evidence from brain imaging indicates that all processes of the mind have physical correlates in brain function. However, such correlational studies cannot determine whether neural activity plays a causal role in the occurrence of these cognitive processes (correlation does not imply causation) and they cannot determine if the neural activity is either necessary or sufficient for such processes to occur. Identification of causation, and of necessary and sufficient conditions requires explicit experimental manipulation of that activity. If manipulation of brain activity changes consciousness, then a causal role for that brain activity can be inferred. Two of the most common types of manipulation experiments are loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments. In a loss-of-function (also called “necessity”) experiment, a part of the nervous system is diminished or removed in an attempt to determine if it is necessary for a certain process to occur, and in a gain-of-function (also called “sufficiency”) experiment, an aspect of the nervous system is increased relative to normal. Manipulations of brain activity can be performed with direct electrical brain stimulation, magnetic brain stimulation using transcranial magnetic stimulation, psychopharmacological manipulation, optogenetic manipulation, and by studying the symptoms of brain damage (case studies) and lesions. In addition, neuroscientists are also investigating how the mind develops with the development of the brain.

          Stop conflating your woo-woo definitions, with the scientific definitions,

        • nydiva

          Don Camp: “The human soul does continue after the death of the body.”

          Michael Neville: “How could you possibly know this?”

          Don Camp did not reply to Michael.

          NYdiva: Don Camp obviously doesn’t have any objective testable evidence for this religious claim that the human soul even exist much less continues after the death of the brain.

          Don Camp: Since the word for soul i a translation of the word psyche and seems to mean something very similar to what we mean by psyche, I’d say there is certainly reason to believe it exists.

          Sheesh. You were specifically asked how you know the human “soul” continues after the death and you evaded the question. Spare us your usual condescending word salad.

          Edit: You are using the word “soul” is a much different context from psychologists and psychiatrists when they use the word “psyche.”

        • Don Camp

          diva, you actually asked or posed two questions: “Don Camp obviously doesn’t have any objective testable evidence for
          fthis religious claim that the human soul even exist much less continues after the death of the brain.”

          I responded to the first, the existence of the soul. It seems like this is the first question that needs to be adfdressed.

          You are using the word “soul” is a much different context from psychologists and psychiatrists when they use the word “psyche.”

          I don’t think that I am using it in any substantial way differently, except the idea that the soul continues after death. Still that question only is important if you agree that humans have souls that are real and are described as personality including ego, id, and superego. Do you agree that humans do have these? ? ?

          If so we can go forward to the issue of continuing after death.

        • nydiva

          First, I didn’t posed or asked two questions. I simply stated the fact that you have NEVER established the existence of a soul much less whether or not it continues after death. This is not the first or hundredth time you have posted comments about this subject. And in each and every time you have FAILED to provide objective evidence for your claims. This is why so many here are contemptuous of your disingenuous posts. You are playing a religious con game. Our brains (minds) are not distinct from our bodies and there is “no ghost in the machine.” When our physical brains dies, so does our conscious existence. Based on your past posts, you obviously have no proof otherwise. So I am ignoring your pretensions questions because as usual you are looking for an opportunity to preach not have an honest discussion.

        • Raging Bee

          Do you agree that humans do have these? ? ?

          As I said before, no, we don’t have to agree to use the word “soul.”

        • Don Camp

          Well I see that you do agree that the soul is real. Great. Now we can go on to the evidence for the soul continuing after death and medical Drs and physicists who find evidence for that very thing.

          Here’s one in National Geographic https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/04/dying-death-brain-dead-body-consciousness-science/

          Dr Parnia, who is director of the Human Consciousness Project at the University of Southampton in an interview:

          “So actually we have this window of time where we can bring people back to life and the experiences that they have given us is an indication of what it is like to go through death.

          “Today we call the soul consciousness in science, so we can test the theory scientifically.

          “The evidence we have is that when a person dies, that part that makes us who we are – the soul or mind, or whatever you call it – it does not

          become annihilated.”

          Sir Roger Pernrose et al.

          Researchers from the renowned Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich are in agreement with Penrose that the physical universe that we livein is only our perception and once our physical bodies die, there is an infinite beyond. Some believe that consciousness travels to parallel universes after death.

          Neither Parnia nor Penrose are coming from a religious assumption.

          See also https://dailygalaxy.com/2019/07/illusion-of-death-in-the-quantum-universe-we-exist-indefinitely-as-soul-holiday-feature/

          I have a distant acquaintance with a Medical Dr. who had an out of body experience after a kayaking accident in South America. She tells of experiencing heaven and hearing there that here son would die in the future. He did, in a traffic accident a few years later. Seven Lessons from Heaven by Mary C. Neal, MD https://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Heaven-Dying-Taught-Joy-Filled/dp/045149542X/ref=pd_sbs_14_t_0/134-8051053-2326011?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=045149542X&pd_rd_r=512ddcd9-066a-43ea-b1c8-80dffc168d1b&pd_rd_w=6w9EN&pd_rd_wg=CZyWb&pf_rd_p=5cfcfe89-300f-47d2-b1ad-a4e27203a02a&pf_rd_r=VQPJYDFBYKHAM85880VT&psc=1&refRID=VQPJYDFBYKHAM85880VT

          Take a look.

        • Raging Bee

          Since the word for soul is a translation of the word psyche and seems to mean something very similar to what we mean by psyche…

          Non sequitur. They’re two different words now, and they’ve been meaning two very different things to a LOT of people for a LONG time now. The fact that they used to mean the same thing (or so you say) doesn’t mean they’ll always mean the same thing forever.

        • Don Camp

          They’re two different words now, and they’ve been meaning two very different things to a LOT of people for a LONG time now.

          The popular usage of “soul” by both Christians and non-Christians conflates the biblical ideas of soul and spirit. I thought it would be best to be precise and maker the distinction. But even then Christians mean that the person along with the particular aspects of personal -such as ego, id and superego – is included in what they mean by soul.

          So do you agree that human being have soul in that sense?

        • Raging Bee

          No, I don’t, because the primary meaning of the word is still religious/supernatural. And I don’t have to, because — as you’ve already admitted — there are PLENTY of words, without the religious baggage, that we can use instead; and all of them are more precise and descriptive than “soul.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, fer feck sake…you just can’t help yerself, can ya?

          The popular usage of “soul” by both Christians and non-Christians conflates the biblical ideas of soul and spirit.

          But the non-Christians you used were experts in the sciences that are conflating no such thing, ya lying shitstain.

          Stop trotting out the same stupid crap.

          Christian soul = supernatural mumbo jumbo nonsense.

          Scientific psyche (psychology) = study of the qualities of the natural mind.

          I thought it would be best to be precise and maker the distinction.

          You are spewing incoherent gibberish and lies.

          But even then Christians mean that the person along with the particular aspects of personal -such as ego, id and superego – is included in what they mean by soul.

          That’s not the problem. The problem is the fuckwit woo-woo nonsense that those Christers believe is part of the soul, that scientists have no truck with. FFS, learn something.

          So do you agree that human being have soul in that sense?

          No, because the “soul” is not a word that scientists use. That’s because arseholes like you will jump on it and assert the same dishonest lying mindwankery you keep doing.

          Christer soul is not synonymous with Psychologies psyche.

        • Bob Jase

          For Don everything comes down to fee-fees but only those of Christians.

        • Susan

          Michael, I don’t have time to deal with every topic.

          Then, stop raising so many. You keep bluffing and getting called on it, then bluffing to avoid the call, and getting called on that.

          Stay still, for once, and support something.

          (The reason you don’t use that strategy is that you have no support for any of your claims.)

        • Raging Bee

          Anyone who blithers about “the dogma of Materialism” — capital-“M” and all — is thereby admitting he’s an anti-rational idiot.

          …but that is the point I am challenging.

          With what, exactly?

        • Ignorant Amos

          So in fact, that is considered by science.

          Not the way you are trying to force it, it isn’t.

          But that also leaves some questions about the psyche unexplained by reference to the physical only.

          So what?

          Consciousness is an example. In an article for Scientific American David Chalmers lays out th4e hard problem. https://blogs.scientificame

          Did you even bother to read that article ya cited numbnuts? Chalmers claims that whatever consciousness is, it will be explained in the physical.

          Chalmers has never been tempted by mysterianism. (Although Colin McGinn is most closely associated with that position, Owen Flanagan coined the term.) Chalmers has always believed that “there’s a solution out there somewhere and we ought to be able to find it. Or we ought to try. We’re not going to know if there’s no solution there until we try and try and try.”

          Does he ever waver from that optimistic belief? “Of course,” Chalmers replied. “I think there is some true story about why there is consciousness in the universe. There is some basic set of laws or something that explains it as well as it can be explained…. Whether we are going to be in a position to come up with that really great story is a further question.”

          “I’d be happy if we got to the point where, say, in 50 or 100 years we at least have some candidate theories, serious, well-developed mathematical theories that are consistent with the data… But we’re not even close to that point yet. I guess I’m inclined to think we can always make a lot of progress. Whether we get all the way is an open question.”

          Hoist by yer own petard…yet again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But he is claer that consciousness is a hard problem not yet solved and perhaps never solved.

          Nope. What you are not making clear is that Chalmers believes there is an answer out there. And whether or not it gets found, whatever it is, will be in the physical material realm of the sciences, not the woo-woo realm of the theologian.

    • Doubting Thomas

      You have to be kidding, Bob, or intentionally ignoring history. It is
      the scientific Materialistic worldview that is new on the stage and
      making extraordinary claims. Prior to the Enlightenment the default
      position was a reality that included both the material world and the
      spiritual world. A godless world would have been virtually unthinkable.

      Bob said that because he’s going by success rate, not historical belief. Every explanation we know is correct has been naturalistic. Bob is pointing out that track record.

      You’re basically saying “Well the most ignorant people who have ever existed though pretty much the same way I still do. I think that counts for something.”

    • The materialistic worldview is making extraordinary claims? Hmm–I can’t think of any. Maybe “a car will hurt you if you get in its way” or “you won’t learn French without a lot of work”?

      It is the atheist who has the burden of proof that reality is wholly material.

      I don’t make that claim. Last time I checked, you were making the supernatural claim. Go.

      • Don Camp

        That’s fair. It is what I hoped might happen, that people would examine their worldviews. That gives them a chance to think about themselves and what they do believe rather than pick apart others.

        • I pick apart stupid claims. You’re giving me lots of fodder.

        • Raging Bee

          Yeah, right…you made an ass of yourself, and now you’re taking credit for making us think? MoFoPuhLease, it never took much thought or self-examination to see through your unoriginal BS.

  • Ignorant Amos

    At least Iceland is getting it’s act together.

    Iceland Declares All Religions Are Mental Disorders

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/laughingindisbelief/2020/01/iceland-declares-all-religions-are-mental-disorders/

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Parody, FWIW.

      • Greg G.

        He always mentions “Andrew Kanard” or “Andrew Canard”.

        • Michael Neville

          Plus, for some reason, the countries which do something or where something happens are always Scandinavian (I consider Iceland to be part of Scandinavia).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just splitting hairs here. I think Scandinavia is the Denmark, Norway and Sweden subset of the Nordic countries. Though to all intents and purposes, Iceland is Scandinavian…definitely culturally.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Andrew Hall, Laughing in Disbelief”s owner, describes it this way…

          “Under normal circumstances, my humble blog is similar to The Onion. As many of you know, The Onion publishes satirical stories poking fun at everyday problems everyday people face as well as pointing out the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful. Think of Laughing in Disbelief as The Onion on drugs. Like meth. Or bath salts.”

      • Ignorant Amos

        Nice though.

  • Ellabulldog

    simple.
    your god is the same as all the other gods. myth.
    or call it like it is.
    they belong to a cult.

    let them prove different.
    no need to treat any god differently than the Ancient Greek gods.
    no need to treat any religion different than any other scam cult that takes advantage of people using indoctrination, threats and lies.

  • Steven Watson

    Yawn. |I’ll concede Jesus spoke to Paul, I’ll concede Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians are the unmediated (apart from Paul having it written down) Word of God, I’lll concede Sola Scriptura. Whoops! If I use the Protestant Playbook JC turns out to have been killed by daemons, powers, and principalities who were ignorant of who he was in some place and at some time that is unknown, but appears to be sometime well before 72BC. This guy has a real problem because you can’t argue with Paul, let alone the Unmediated Word of God! Seriously, you don’t need multiple blog posts, you just need to tell the loon you believe what St Paul wrote. He’ll either dissolve into gibbering or or dismiss Paul for reasons that are even more applicable to the rest of the New Testament.