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Autumn Reading for Jerry and friends


Japanese maple leaves.

Over at Why Evolution is True, Professor Jerry Coyne has been busy at work. He has not only outlined a scenario that would convince him of God’s existence, but he has written an article entitled On P. Z. Myers on evidence for a god with a point-by-point rebuttal of P. Z. Myers’ assertion (backed up by eight supporting arguments) that there was no amount of evidence that could convince him of the existence of any kind of God. I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so I would like to congratulate Professor Coyne. Let me hasten to add that Professor Coyne is still a convinced atheist. As he writes: “To me, the proper stance is, ‘I haven’t seen a smidgen of evidence for God, so I don’t think he exists. But I suppose it’s a theoretical possibility.’” In the final paragraph of his post, Coyne declares: “I’m writing this post simply to continue a conversation that I don’t think has yet run its course…”

Well, Professor, I’m something of a magpie. I collect good articles. The 200 or so articles I’ve listed below are the “creme-de-la-creme” so to speak, of what’s available on the Web. Taken together, they make a strong cumulative case, on philosophical and empirical grounds, that God does indeed exist, and that the benefits of religion vastly outweigh the multitude of harms inflicted in its name. (There’s even a case where an amputee gets healed! Curious? Thought you might be.) I’ve also included some good articles on God, morality and evil, which will interest you. The arguments for the immateriality of the mind are also significant: they serve to undermine the materialist argument that there can never be a good argument for the existence of an immaterial Intelligence, since all the minds we know of are embodied and complex. Interested? Please read on.

Table of Contents

Section 1 – Philosophical Arguments for God’s existence
Section 2 – Miracles
Section 3 – The Attributes of God
Section 4 – God, Morality, Goodness and Evil
Section 5 – Arguments for the Immateriality of the Mind
Section 6 – Mysteries of the Christian Faith (The Trinity, the Incarnation and the Atonement)
Section 7 – Religion: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

For the list of articles, click here.

Enjoy!

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259 Responses to Autumn Reading for Jerry and friends

  1. Are there reports of a 900 foot Jesus anywhere in your files, vjtorley? How about reports of a man identifying himself as Jesus showing up and turning an atheist’s arms into tentacles, then back again, before disappearing into the sky? Because that’s what Coyne is hunting for.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due, sure. But only as much as is due, and the amount Coyne deserves here is little. If it wasn’t for Myers being hilariously crazy and going against Coyne on one of his key talking points, he’d come across as just as off-base, uninformed, and – frankly – nuts as ever.

  2. #1. “The natural man can not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are spiritually understood – known.”
    #2 What “Spiritual” things – “And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts:
    #3. Coyne must be a natural man. If one can not see the fulfillment of the many prophecies concerning the Christ, one is NOT paying attention and God will allow that heart to get harder and harder by allowing a natural point of view/mind set.
    #4. vjtorley – your list is admirable maybe, but not sufficient for one to come to the “knowledge of the Truth” What is the “power of God” unto the “new creation/new man” except the two edge Sword.

  3. alan,

    I have found what you say to be true: proving that God is real, by objective evidence, is not the same thing as a person developing a personal relationship with God. But sometimes it can motivate them to prayer.

    VJtorley,

    I think that an atheist’s best argument against God is the problem of evil. This is true because it is philosophically strong and emotionally cogent.

    But to me there is a quick way around it but theists are reluctant to do it. It concerns the omnipotence of God. Do Christians believe that God is strictly and totally omnipotent? I mean, can God hate? Can He lie? Can He sin and still be good?

    If not, then there are limitations to what God can do and therefore the problem of evil can be got around. It seems to me that God cannot make a person know what pain is like without having them experience it. And there may be a very compelling and GOOD reason why God wants us to know what pain feels like; even very bad pain. It helps us understand, like nothing else can, the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

  4. Collin,

    While it’s not a belief I subscribe to, Vox Day (author of The Irrational Atheist, one hell of a book) takes that route explicitly. I wonder if Mormons take the same tack.

  5. 5
    William J. Murray

    Collin,

    God can only do what is logically possible to do. In order for “good” to exist, that which contextualizes and defines it must also exist. This is the principle of identity; if god creates “good”, then everything that is “not-good” must also exist.

    Also, if humans are to have free will, there cannot ever be evidence so compelling of god’s existence that one has no choice but to believe in God; god must always be deniable, or else we wouldn’t have free will.

    It seems to me that both of the standard atheist arguments – that evil exists and god could get rid of it if he wanted, and that god could make atheists believe if god wanted – cannot be supported rationally, and in fact are required by logic to be the way they are.

    God may **want** evil to not exist, but it would require the abolition of good as well; god may want atheists to believe, but it would require the abolishment of their free will in order to make it so.

  6. Collin,

    You ask some very interesting questions. If you want an in-depth (albeit somewhat technical) discussion of omnipotence, you might like the article, Omnipotence in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Professor Alfred Freddoso did a lot of good philosophical work on the subject back in the 1980s.

    You ask if God can hate, lie and sin. I would answer that God can do whatever is compatible with His nature and with the natures of His creatures. God by nature knows and loves in the most perfect way possible. Hence I would say that He cannot lie to us, because He would then be thwarting our natural appetite (as rational beings) for truth, which He himself created us with. A perfectly loving Being would not do that.

    Can God hate? He cannot hate persons – even Satan, the fallen angels and the damned who are in hell – because qua persons (i.e. rational agents), they are essentially good, even if their choices are wicked. God can, however, hate the wickedness of a wicked choice – but not the act of choosing, which is essentially good. Evil, in other words, is a privation.

    Can God sin? No, because sin is a failure to be virtuous, and God is by nature perfectly loving. Hence He is incapable of any moral failings.

    As for why there is so much evil in the world, I’m very wary of rationalizations, but I believe the message of Scripture when it traces evil back to the Fall. That said, I would allow that certain kinds of evil can teach us moral lessons in life. And as for why God does not step in and prevent evil more often, I would suspect that God cannot, because He is bound by a promise not to, and God cannot break a promise. Perhaps He promised Adam, at the time of the Fall, that He would respect the human race’s desire for “independence,” and that He would not intervene in certain ways stipulated by Adam. (Of course, Adam never imagined the Incarnation, so that left God with a huge “ace up His sleeve.”) But that’s just my guess.

  7. William Murray,

    Thank you for your post. I would personally agree with your assertion that God “may want atheists to believe, but it would require the abolishment of their free will in order to make it so.” I too believe in libertarian free will, in the sense that persons who are created with it cannot have it taken away from them.

    I’m afraid I would disagree, however, with your contention that “God may **want** evil to not exist, but it would require the abolition of good as well.” In the short term, yes, but what about Heaven? Heaven is free from evil, or even the possibility of evil. Presumably there must come a stage when those whose hearts are open to the goodness of God finally attain to the vision of God, which is the goal for which they were created. Having attained it, they are no longer free to turn away from God; their love of God is by now fixed and unchangeable, as their wills have been confirmed in grace. In other respects, however, their wills would still be free.

  8. nullasalus

    Thank you for your post. You ask:

    Are there reports of a 900 foot Jesus anywhere in your files, vjtorley? How about reports of a man identifying himself as Jesus showing up and turning an atheist’s arms into tentacles, then back again, before disappearing into the sky? Because that’s what Coyne is hunting for.

    If you look at my new Web page, you’ll find that there was a man who was publicly seen to levitate more than 1,000 times, during his life. OK, so it’s not quite up there with Professor Coyne’s octopus, but it’s pretty powerful evidence for the supernatural, at least. If it fails to convince Professor Coyne, I’d like to ask him: if this is not enough to make you change about God, how many orders of magnitude short is it, in terms of getting you to alter your belief? (For example: “If it had been 100 times stronger, I would have converted to belief in God – so that’s two orders of magnitude short.”)

    Also, surely seeing a man levitate should increase a skeptic’s subjective estimate of the probability that God exists. In that case, I would ask Professor Coyne: how did your estimate change? What was it before and what is it now? (For example: “It used to be 1 in 10^6; now, it’s 1 in 10^2, so that’s an increase of four orders of magnitude.”)

    An intellectually honest skeptic should be able to answer all these questions.

  9. allan

    Thank you for your post. I completely agree that my list of articles can never be enough to bring men to knowledge of the Truth, which can only come from the Spirit of God. When compiling this list, I was thinking more of 1 Peter 3:15, which says:

    But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

    If my list can help some believers do that, then it will have served its purpose. And while it may not convert a skeptic, perhaps it may open his/her mind, just a little.

  10. 10

    vjtorley,

    The reason I don’t subscribe to that particular view of the afterlife is because, IMO, it is logically unsustainable.

    A characteristic can only be identifiable via the necessary contextual relationship of “what it is” and “what it is not”.

    There cannot be good without non-good. What you describe for the afterlife may exist, but it couldn’t rationally be identified as “good” unless what is “not good” contextually coexisted to give the characteristic meaning.

    Similarly, IMO free either means free, or it doesn’t mean free. Free will is free to intend whatever it wishes; since (IMO) good cannot identifiably exist without the contextual not-good, it will always be within the capacity of free will entities to choose to do or pursue not-good.

    IMO, of course.

    BTW, I do love your posts and blog submissions, and read them with a great deal of enjoyment.

  11. Thanks for all those who commented on my comment. Lots of interesting things to think about.

    I think that God makes Himself deniable because he doesn’t want anyone believing in Him because it is undeniable, but because they WANT to believe in Him. That’s the test, that’s the separating the wheat and the tares.

  12. 12

    VJ,

    Thanks for your very thorough list. I guess I’ll be busy this fall as well.

  13. 13
    William J. Murray

    Collin,

    I agree. This is why, IMO, god is always deniable; one can always choose to not believe in god and feel justified in so doing. When asked why I believe in god, my first answer is “Because I choose to.”

    I can then support that belief with evidence and argument, but I never say that such evidence compelled me, or should compel anyone, to believe.

    It is only by wanting (choosing) to believe in god that any argument or evidence for god will “make sense” IMO; when one has chosen not to believe in god, no amount of evidence, nor any argument, will suffice.

  14. I too believe in libertarian free will, in the sense that persons who are created with it cannot have it taken away from them.

    Can you explain how Saul of Tarsus’ conversion was an act of free will on his part? He experienced direct communication from the deity, struck blind then healed. If the deity desired Saul’s belief and saw fit to use such strong direct evidence, isn’t it prudent for other non-believers to expect similar evidence and not rely on human testimony?

  15. What does one who chooses “not to believe” have to do statistically from a rational/logical/mathematical endeavor to conclude that the Massive amounts of precise prophetic fulfillments accomplished in and only in Christ are just “literature” and not facts? I suspect the answer is to just ignore them rather than honestly evaluate them. “There was a time before the past, when things to come were clearly cast – what is that to you?”

  16. I agree, it certainly is not through rationality and logic that the denial of the reality of God springs from in atheists minds. It must arise from their emotions and deceptive imaginations.

    Romans 1:19-20
    ‘since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.’

  17. alan (#15)

    Do you by any chance have a good link to an article suitable for non-Christians, on the prophecies that were fulfilled precisely in Jesus? I’m looking for an article that would withstand an attempted battering by a group of disputatious skeptics who might be inclined to question the facts, and say things like, “How do you know Jesus was really born in Bethlehem?” The nearest thing I can find is Glenn Miller’s Response to Jim Lippard’s “The Fabulous Prophecies of the Messiah” (1993), but as you can see, it’s a work in progress.

  18. Collin @ 3

    I think that an atheist’s best argument against God is the problem of evil. This is true because it is philosophically strong and emotionally cogent.

    I’d say of all the primary arguments against the existence of God, the argument from evil by far the weakest. Christian theology had this worked out ages ago: God values free will, and you simply cannot have free will without the possibility for conflict and competition, anymore than you can have a square without corners.

  19. 19

    VJ,

    The following is my understanding. Others are quite welcome to either disagree or to correct me:

    If you do find a comprehensive list, I think you would want to have a thorough working of Daniel’s 70 weeks, which I believe is the most significant fulfilled prophecy of the OT. It predicts some 400 years prior, the date that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem. It also talks about the crucifixion, although not in so many words, and hints at the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, fulfilled in 70 C.E. There are several interpretations of the 70 weeks prophecy, some are more accurate than others.

    It might also interest you that the early critical scholars considered Daniel to have been written sometime after the crucifixion due to the prophecy. That was until the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery in the 1940s, pushing the date back at least 200 years.

    Another interesting little tidbit – It is quite rightly asserted that all records, which could trace the Messiah through a lineage of David were destroyed during the conquest of Jerusalem, marking the time of Christ very significant as far as Messiahship is concerned. Any future “messiah” could not legally trace his lineage apart from that which was recorded in the New Testament, and why would he want to?

    Alan,

    Thanks for mentioning prophecy. It is quite significant, and can’t really be denied without some speculative effort.

  20. I don’t know, these attempts at demonstrating the goodness of God logically are starting to drive me a little batty. I guess the problem is “good” always remains undefined. It becomes axiomatic, like in Greek philosophy, which not only weakens the argument but, frankly, makes it kind of scary.

    Call it the Milton positive. All this content-free talk about “goodness” almost makes us want to run to Satan, who at least is showing a little passion.

    Fortunately the Bible doesn’t make any attempt that I’m aware of at demonstrating God’s goodness through reason and its bloodless “rules.” Instead it makes the bald assertion that God is love and is characterized by graciousness, compassion and kindness, something even I’m capable of understanding.

    As long as I focus on God telling us who he is in his own book, I feel pretty good. If I look away and get absorbed in what our Uzzahites are doing in their eagerness to help God out, I feel that confidence slip sliding away…

  21. William J. Murray @ 5

    Also, if humans are to have free will, there cannot ever be evidence so compelling of god’s existence that one has no choice but to believe in God; god must always be deniable, or else we wouldn’t have free will.

    That’s a convenient explanation as to why we find no compelling evidence for God. Dawkins says it’s the exact same reason we find no compelling evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. How is your argument different?

    I also find that an odd thing to hear from an I.D. proponent. What’s the thinking behind I.D. then, that someday you’ll outsmart God and actually find compelling evidence in the genome somewhere? If God intentionally remains hidden so as not to ‘interfere with free will’, why bother to look for evidence in biology? Or is it that God was only content with hiding from pre-scientific cultures?

    Your comment raises another question: If ‘providing compelling evidence of His existence’ violates free will, why did he have no qualms violating the free will of Lucifer and the angels, Abraham, Moses, the rest of the prophets, the disciples, (especially Thomas), and Paul? Who in the world wouldn’t rather have their ‘free will’ violated and go to heaven than have their ‘free will’ remain intact and be tormented for eternity? I put ‘free will’ in quotes because I’m not sure how providing evidence of something affects the ability to choose one way or the other. Saying:

    god must always be deniable, or else we wouldn’t have free will.

    is like saying “The link between smoking and cancer must be deniable, or else smokers wouldn’t have free will.”

    or

    “The link between eating right and being healthy must always be deniable, or people who like junk food wouldn’t have free will.”

  22. allanius,

    I found this video interesting:

    Does God Exist? – Finding a Good God in an Evil World
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4007708/

    further notes:

    The Common Out Of Body Experience / Near Death Experience
    Excerpt: “At the end of the tunnel was this brilliant and bright light. Brighter then a thousand suns, brighter then a million suns!! When I reached this light, I knew right away it wasn’t just a light, but a BEING of light. Better yet, THE BEING OF LIGHT. The amount of LOVE that came from this being was immeasurable. Literally, words cannot begin to tell you how much love and peace I found within this light. Pure Love, pure acceptance. This was my creator, without a doubt. Here is what happened next…”
    http://www.extremelovespells.c.....ience.html

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The Near Death Experience of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544/

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image, on the Shroud of Turin, I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright “Light” or “Being of Light” who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before . All people who have been in the presence of “The Being of Light” while having a deep NDE have no doubt whatsoever that the “The Being of Light” they were in the presence of is none other than “The Lord God Almighty” of heaven and earth.

    etc.. etc..

  23. vjtorley, the line that really piqued my interest in your list of articles was “There’s even a case where an amputee gets healed! Curious? Thought you might be.”
    However, after reading it, my first though was: I don’t know which is worse, that God never heals amputees, or that He did it just that one time. (odd that he would conveniently choose to do it in a time before photography or x-rays. I guess it’s like William J. Murray said, if God provided too much evidence of His existence, it might violate our free will somehow)

  24. 24

    jurrassicmac,

    I don’t think you’re really understanding my position; for those that choose to believe that the Earth is flat, or that the earth is @7,000 years old, or that their brother didn’t really commit that crime, it might be that there will never be enough evidence to compel them to believe otherwise.

    Whether or not evidence is “compelling” is a subjective matter which largely hinges on ones interpretive bias. It’s no more “convenient” that there isn’t enough evidence to convince an atheist that god exists, than it’s “convenient” that I don’t find the evidence against god’s existence compelling.

    Your questions about the Bible will have to be answered by someone else – I’m not very familiar with it. As far as when it appears that free will has been abridged, it’s not my position that all humans (or other entities) have free will.

    The link between smoking and cancer is deniable. I know several people who deny it, and I personally don’t believe smoking causes cancer.

    Every viewpoint and claim is deniable, at least by those of us who have free will.

  25. 25

    IOW, jurassicmac, those with free will believe as they wish or choose, not as they must, IMO. An entity with free will is never compelled to believe anything by any amount of evidence.

  26. 26

    Jurassic, (William – correct me where I’m wrong, please)

    You presented some interesting thoughts.

    I don’t think William is saying that the evidence for God is necessarily deniable in the logical sense. I think what he’s saying is that we can choose to be irrational concerning God’s existence. Or we can choose to believe that our rationalizations concerning His existence are coherent even when they are not – while at the same time, maintaining other non-religious “beliefs” that are coherent. God does not force us to believe through undeniable evidence – which would essentially be our undeniable experience of His presence among and within us.

    The question of God’s existence is ultimate. It’s interesting that most people claim to have made up their minds about God – some are as certain as they can be that he does exist, while others are as certain as they can be that he does not. Others claim to be in the middle as agnostics, but in my view, this is really a rational impossibility. I think they’ve made up their minds that God cannot be known. In that, they pretty much fall in line with atheists – but they’re afraid to admit it, precisely because it is an ultimate question. If they are as certain as they can be that God cannot be known, how would they ever come to know that He really does exist? I think if I wasn’t as certain as I can be that God does exist, I would probably fall in this category as well, because it would seem so ominous to simply deny His existence, when I’m not certain. After all, if He does exist, it would seem that the stakes are freighteningly high. So I think that the difference between an agnostic and an atheist is found in a certain degree of passivity. So it’s a personality issue rather than a logic issue. And I don’t say this as a judgment on them, as I am quite a passive person myself. This is why I would count myself among them if I wasn’t as certain as I can be. :)

    But clearly there are people who have no problem denying God. They believe they are being rational in doing so. Whether they are truly being rational in their denial is another question.

    Something I have pondered is the fact that there are billions of people in the world who believe in God. Theists have developed an ongoing apologetic for His existence. This apologetic continues to be developed by some of the brightest minds in philosophy and theology. I’ve always wondered if among the billions of people who believe in God, the truly best arguments are yet to surface. Maybe there’s a cloistered monk somewhere who has thought about God’s existence all his life, and has the most powerful argument, but is keeping it a secret for one reason or another. Maybe there’s a girl who’s intelligence defies her youth, who thought up an undeniable argument, but nobody has encouraged her to share.

    Well, regardless of what might be, the best arguments we currently know are written down and distributed for anyone who wishes to inquire. Given that, I think it would be difficult to rationally deny God’s existence with knowledge of the best of them. Very few of the atheists I have encountered are well versed in arguments for God’s existence. What they are more well versed in is God denial, and most of those denials have been sufficiently addressed for those who care to look.

    In fact, I would say that much of the argumentation for God’s existence stems from considering the arguments for His denial. The cosmological argument, for example considers the absurdity of actual infinites as an argument for God’s existence, because if God does not exist, there’s no accounting for the absurdity. The argument from evil considers a universe without God as being without love or justice. The teleological argument considers a universe without God as being chaotic. The moral argument considers a universe without God as a universe with no morality – not simply no basis for morality, but none whatsoever. The Transcendent argument considers a universe without God as a universe without logic or coherent properties. The design arguments suggest that we could find no evidence of art in a universe without God. Even the Bible contributes to considering the denial of God: “The fool says in his heart “There is no God.” While this isn’t an argument in the strictest sense, it does suggest that disbelief in God stems from logical folly, and if you read what follows in the verse, from moral corruption. The ontological argument seems to be the only argument for God’s existence, which does not consider the non-existence of God – but then again, I don’t put much weight on that argument.

    The atheist, is not so burdened with considering the arguments for God’s existence, since the arguments for His denial are seen as sufficient. And I think this may be the reason why quite often debates between atheists and theists regarding God’s existence, often center around the denial arguments. I’ve heard many of WL Craig’s debates with atheists, and while he very effectively presents the positive arguments, he’s even more keen on challenging the arguments of denial from his opponents, since that seems to be all they choose to present. I rarely hear his opponents addressing head-on the positive arguments he presents.

    I couldn’t help but notice that you even presented a denial argument when considering Williams’ statement regarding free will. William wasn’t saying that God hides himself from us in order for us to have free will. He was saying that we can choose to believe God’s evidence for His existence, or we can choose to deny it. He’s not saying that the evidence isn’t there.

    You mentioned Richard Dawkins. He’s a perfect example of the God denialist. His book “The God Delusion” is chock full of denial arguments without much consideration of the positives. He doesn’t debunk them, he simply ignores them. He’s more interested in presenting a straw-man caricature of the Christian God and those who believe in Him, and saying “see, I’ve torn him down.”

    But honestly, if anyone wants to be a true atheist and deny God, they really have to contend with all the arguments for His existence, and not simply the carefully constructed so as to avoid the positive, denialist arguments.

    I fully agree with William when he says that belief is something that we choose based on evidence. If we don’t choose to believe, we will find a reason not to. This does not mean that we are necessarily being rational in such a choice. It may not even be an issue of rationality, but one of preference. We may choose not to believe because we don’t want the morality that comes with belief in God, or because we dislike those who believe in God, or any number of other reasons. It doesn’t mean necessarily that we have thought through all the positive arguments and found them lacking in coherence, and therefore our sense of morality has us choosing to not believe a lie. If that were the case, then the morality of God really does mean something, and we’re contradicting ourselves.

    And it certainly doesn’t mean that God has not provided us with coherent evidence. If that’s what you perceive William to be saying, then I find it unfathomable that he would ignore one of the most important passages of scripture in this regard – Romans 1:18-20. Somehow I doubt if he is ignoring that passage. In fact, I think he knows as well as I know – the passage makes it explicit that God’s existence cannot be denied on moral or rational grounds. The grounds upon which God allows us to deny him are clearly defined in that passage and several verses that follow.

  27. Cannuckian Yankee

    This document might interest you, in connection with Daniel:

    Daniel’s 70 Weeks

    See also

    70 Weeks Chart

    There’s just one point I’d like to query: the claim that the Jewish year was exactly 360 days. Is this correct? I read somewhere that it was 354 or 355.

  28. jurassicmac

    Thank you for your post. I acknowledge that the evidence for the amputee healing which I linked to is not rationally compelling. However, the evidence for the miraculous levitations of St. Joseph of Cupertino is about as rationally persuasive as you could possibly ask for. See here for the full story:

    http://www.messengersaintantho.....171IDRX=55

    And if you think he might have been jumping or hopping, like the “yogic fliers,” forget it. This was a guy who remained floating in mid-air for two or three hours, at times.

    I’ll quote an excerpt from the final paragraph:

    It has been calculated that Joseph’s ‘ecstatic flights’ took place at least 1,000 to 1,500 times in his lifetime, perhaps even more, and that they were witnessed by thousands of people. They were the phenomenon of the century. They were so sensational and so public that they attracted attention from curious people from all walks of life, Italians and foreigners, believers and unbelievers, simple folk, but also scholars, scientists, priests, bishops and cardinals. They continued to occur in every situation, in whatever church in which the saint prayed or celebrated Mass. It is impossible to doubt such a sensational and public phenomenon which repeated itself over time.

  29. Dr. Torley the prophetic year is calculated to 360 days:

    This is the proper Jewish Calender:
    JEWISH YEAR (Biblical or Lunar Year)
    1 Lunar month = 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes = 29.530556 days
    1 Jewish year = 12 Lunar months (solely dependent on moons revolution round the earth)
    Therefore, 1 Jewish year = 12 x 29.530556 days = 354.3667 days

    GREGORIAN YEAR (Julian or Solar Year)
    1 Solar year = 365.2424 days (solely dependent on earths revolution round the sun)
    Therefore, 1 Gregorian year = 1 Solar year = 365.2424 days

    DIVINE YEAR (Gods Year)
    42 Divine months (Rev 11:2) = 1260 days (Rev 11:3; Dan 12:7)
    1 Divine month = 30 days (independent of the positions of the sun and moon)
    Therefore, 1 Divine year = 12 months = 360 days
    http://www.time2alert.com/Hebrew%20Calendar.htm

    further notes:

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241

    The precisely fulfilled prophecy of Israel becoming a nation again is of no small importance, since the restoration of Israel clearly signifies the time immediately preceding the return of Christ.

    The Signs of Israel’s Rebirth: Lesson 1: The Parable of the Fig Tree
    Concluding Statement: Now it should also be perfectly clear what the parable of the fig tree in the Olivet Discourse means (Matt 24:32-34). As the disciples were walking into the city on Tuesday morning after Palm Sunday, they noticed that the tree which Jesus had cursed the day before had withered and dried up. Later, on Tuesday evening, when the memory of the withered fig tree was still fresh in their minds, Jesus spoke the parable in question. He said that when the church sees the fig tree leafing out again, it will know that “it is . . . at the doors.” The Greek for “it is” can also be translated “he is.” In prophecy, “door” is often a symbol for the passageway between heaven and earth (Rev. 4:1). What the parable means, therefore, is that when the nation of Israel revives after its coming disintegration and death in A.D. 70, the return of Christ will be imminent.
    http://www.themoorings.org/pro.....rael1.html

    Even Sir Isaac Newton, who is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scientist who has ever lived, was a avid student of Bible prophecy:

    Sir Isaac Newton’s Prediction For The Return Of Christ – Sid Roth video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041154

    “Prophetic Perspectives, 2008-2015″ – Jim Bramlett
    Excerpt: For years I have been intrigued with Newton’s interpretation of Daniel 9:25 and the 62 weeks and 7 weeks (62 X 7 = 434 years, and 7 X 7 = 49 years), counted “from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem.” In his commentary on Daniel, a copy of which I have, Newton wrote that the interpretation of those 69 weeks is usually incorrect, violating the Hebrew language. He said the two numbers should not be added together as most scholars do, but the 434 years refer to Messiah’s first coming (which he demonstrated), and the 49 years refer to His second coming, after Israel is reestablished, an idea unheard of 300 years ago but happening in our generation The start date for counting has been controversial. Many thought the 49-year-count would be the date of Israel’s rebirth on May 14, 1948, but, alas, that did not work out. Other dates were tried unsuccessfully. But what if the count begins on one of the two most historical dates in Jewish history, the date in the miraculous Six-Day War when Israel captured Jerusalem and the Temple Mount: June 7, 1967? Assume the 49-year count (49 Jewish years X 360 days = 17,640 days), does start on June 7, 1967. Using a date-counter Web site at http://www.timeanddate.com/date/duration.html we learn that the 17,640-day count takes us exactly to September 23, 2015. September 23, 2015 is the Day of Atonement! What are the odds against that? Many have believed that the Second Coming will be on the Day of Atonement. If he knew this, old Isaac Newton would be doing cartwheels and back flips right now.
    http://www.prophecyforum.com/b.....tives.html

    The following scripture, which Jesus Himself spoke, gives significant weight to the idea that we should start our count of 17,640 days from the time Jerusalem came back into the hands of the Hebrews instead of counting the days from when Israel became a nation.

    Luke 21:24
    “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

    This following videos give ‘astronomical’ weight to the preceding prediction by Sir Isaac Newton of how the ‘days of Daniel’ are to be counted and is indeed very sobering:

    Mark Biltz Talks About The Return Of Christ On Sid Roth – Solar & Lunar Eclipses – 2014 – 2015 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4056071

    2012 – 2015 – Is Jesus Coming Soon? – Lunar Eclipses – Bible Prophecy – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4056087

    Here is another line of ‘mathematical’ evidence that lines up with the year 2015 as well:

    Do 70 Jubilees predict the end of the world in 2015?
    Excerpt: The 70 “sevens” in Daniel 9:24 are 70 Jubilee cycles. These 70 Jubilee cycles bring us to the end of the world. When the children of Israel entered Canaan, their promised land, the LORD gave them sabbatical cycles and Jubilee cycles. Sabbatical cycles are 7 years long and Jubilee cycles are 49 years long. Each Jubilee cycle consists of 7 sabbatical cycles. The 50th year is called the Jubilee.

    Seventy “sevens” = 70 Jubilee cycles
    70 x 7 x 7 = 3,430 years

    Daniel 9:24
    Seventy “sevens” are decreed for your people to put an end to sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness.

    The 70 Jubilee cycles point to the time when God’s people will no longer transgress His law. Eternal righteousness will be brought into their lives. Then Jesus will come to take them to heaven. The 70 Jubilees predict Christ’s second coming. The 70 Jubilees began in 1416 BC when God’s children entered Canaan. The 70 Jubilees will end 3,430 years later in 2015 AD when God’s children will enter heavenly Canaan. (Of note: In Bible prophecy 360 days are used for calculating the length of a year:http://www.360calendar.com/#Part%20One)
    http://www.markbeast.com/endwo.....-world.htm

    Another piece of very interesting evidence indicating that the return of Christ is very soon is the “Prophecy of the Popes”:

    Prophecy of St Malachy – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UThJkZuI1c

  30. Dr. Torley the prophetic year is calculated to 360 days:

    This is the proper Jewish Calender:
    JEWISH YEAR (Biblical or Lunar Year)
    1 Lunar month = 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes = 29.530556 days
    1 Jewish year = 12 Lunar months (solely dependent on moons revolution round the earth)
    Therefore, 1 Jewish year = 12 x 29.530556 days = 354.3667 days

    GREGORIAN YEAR (Julian or Solar Year)
    1 Solar year = 365.2424 days (solely dependent on earths revolution round the sun)
    Therefore, 1 Gregorian year = 1 Solar year = 365.2424 days

    DIVINE YEAR (Gods Year)
    42 Divine months (Rev 11:2) = 1260 days (Rev 11:3; Dan 12:7)
    1 Divine month = 30 days (independent of the positions of the sun and moon)
    Therefore, 1 Divine year = 12 months = 360 days
    http://www.time2alert.com/Hebrew%20Calendar.htm

    further notes:

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241

    The precisely fulfilled prophecy of Israel becoming a nation again is of no small importance, since the restoration of Israel clearly signifies the time immediately preceding the return of Christ.

    The Signs of Israel’s Rebirth: Lesson 1: The Parable of the Fig Tree
    Concluding Statement: Now it should also be perfectly clear what the parable of the fig tree in the Olivet Discourse means (Matt 24:32-34). As the disciples were walking into the city on Tuesday morning after Palm Sunday, they noticed that the tree which Jesus had cursed the day before had withered and dried up. Later, on Tuesday evening, when the memory of the withered fig tree was still fresh in their minds, Jesus spoke the parable in question. He said that when the church sees the fig tree leafing out again, it will know that “it is . . . at the doors.” The Greek for “it is” can also be translated “he is.” In prophecy, “door” is often a symbol for the passageway between heaven and earth (Rev. 4:1). What the parable means, therefore, is that when the nation of Israel revives after its coming disintegration and death in A.D. 70, the return of Christ will be imminent.
    http://www.themoorings.org/pro.....rael1.html

    Even Sir Isaac Newton, who is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scientist who has ever lived, was a avid student of Bible prophecy:

    Sir Isaac Newton’s Prediction For The Return Of Christ – Sid Roth video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041154

    “Prophetic Perspectives, 2008-2015″ – Jim Bramlett
    Excerpt: For years I have been intrigued with Newton’s interpretation of Daniel 9:25 and the 62 weeks and 7 weeks (62 X 7 = 434 years, and 7 X 7 = 49 years), counted “from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem.” In his commentary on Daniel, a copy of which I have, Newton wrote that the interpretation of those 69 weeks is usually incorrect, violating the Hebrew language. He said the two numbers should not be added together as most scholars do, but the 434 years refer to Messiah’s first coming (which he demonstrated), and the 49 years refer to His second coming, after Israel is reestablished, an idea unheard of 300 years ago but happening in our generation The start date for counting has been controversial. Many thought the 49-year-count would be the date of Israel’s rebirth on May 14, 1948, but, alas, that did not work out. Other dates were tried unsuccessfully. But what if the count begins on one of the two most historical dates in Jewish history, the date in the miraculous Six-Day War when Israel captured Jerusalem and the Temple Mount: June 7, 1967? Assume the 49-year count (49 Jewish years X 360 days = 17,640 days), does start on June 7, 1967. Using a date-counter Web site we learn that the 17,640-day count takes us exactly to September 23, 2015. September 23, 2015 is the Day of Atonement! What are the odds against that? Many have believed that the Second Coming will be on the Day of Atonement. If he knew this, old Isaac Newton would be doing cartwheels and back flips right now.
    http://www.prophecyforum.com/b.....tives.html

    The following scripture, which Jesus Himself spoke, gives significant weight to the idea that we should start our count of 17,640 days from the time Jerusalem came back into the hands of the Hebrews instead of counting the days from when Israel became a nation.

    Luke 21:24
    “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

    This following videos give ‘astronomical’ weight to the preceding prediction by Sir Isaac Newton of how the ‘days of Daniel’ are to be counted and is indeed very sobering:

    Mark Biltz Talks About The Return Of Christ On Sid Roth – Solar & Lunar Eclipses – 2014 – 2015 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4056071

    2012 – 2015 – Is Jesus Coming Soon? – Lunar Eclipses – Bible Prophecy – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4056087

    Here is another line of ‘mathematical’ evidence that lines up with the year 2015 as well:

    Do 70 Jubilees predict the end of the world in 2015?
    Excerpt: The 70 “sevens” in Daniel 9:24 are 70 Jubilee cycles. These 70 Jubilee cycles bring us to the end of the world. When the children of Israel entered Canaan, their promised land, the LORD gave them sabbatical cycles and Jubilee cycles. Sabbatical cycles are 7 years long and Jubilee cycles are 49 years long. Each Jubilee cycle consists of 7 sabbatical cycles. The 50th year is called the Jubilee.

    Seventy “sevens” = 70 Jubilee cycles
    70 x 7 x 7 = 3,430 years

    Daniel 9:24
    Seventy “sevens” are decreed for your people to put an end to sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness.

    The 70 Jubilee cycles point to the time when God’s people will no longer transgress His law. Eternal righteousness will be brought into their lives. Then Jesus will come to take them to heaven. The 70 Jubilees predict Christ’s second coming. The 70 Jubilees began in 1416 BC when God’s children entered Canaan. The 70 Jubilees will end 3,430 years later in 2015 AD when God’s children will enter heavenly Canaan. (Of note: In Bible prophecy 360 days are used for calculating the length of a year:http://www.360calendar.com/#Part%20One)
    http://www.markbeast.com/endwo.....-world.htm

    Another piece of very interesting evidence indicating that the return of Christ is very soon is the “Prophecy of the Popes”:

    Prophecy of St Malachy – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UThJkZuI1c

  31. JurrasicMac @18,

    thanks. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that argument put so well. God must value free will above His desire to eliminate all evil. He is persuading us to eliminate it by coming to Him.

  32. vjtorley:

    However, the evidence for the miraculous levitations of St. Joseph of Cupertino is about as rationally persuasive as you could possibly ask for.

    Yes, good point. It’s not as if levitations could convincingly be faked. If they could, entertainers could sell tickets to shows where they pretend to levitate people. Or saw people in half. Or pull rabbits out of hats. You’re right – stories of levitations from 3 centuries ago are as rationally persuasive as you could possibly ask for. And it’s not like other cultures and religions have similar stories. How stories like this don’t convince those bone-headed skeptics is beyond me.

  33. jurassicmac @ 23:

    … God never heals amputees …

    It was never really aware that it is such a big issue, so I googled it a bit. I was quite astonished how many websites are obsessed with this question.

    Anyway, Jesus did heal the amputees, or as the King James version puts it the maimed. It is mentioned in explicitly in Matthew 15,30-31.

    And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:

    Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

    The word used there (kyllos) seems to mean lost limbs or other disfigurements, as it is used in Matthew 18,8 again:

    Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

    So Jesus did it.

  34. 34

    VJ,

    “There’s just one point I’d like to query: the claim that the Jewish year was exactly 360 days. Is this correct? I read somewhere that it was 354 or 355.”

    I think what the author of this piece is using is not the Jewish calendar year, which is 12 months of either 29 or 30 days to equal 354 or 355 days. The author is using what is known as a “prophetic year,” which as determined by scripture is 360 days.

    See the following article:

    http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/weeks.htm

    “Another reason some scholars say that we should apply a 360-day calendar to Daniel’s prophecy is because of various Bible references that allude to a fixed 30-day month view of time. For example, in Genesis 7:24, it says that the flood lasted 150 days. And, in Genesis 7:11, it says the flood began in the 17th day of the second month. And in Genesis 8:4, it says that the flood subsided on the 17th day of the seventh month, when the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. So, these passages present us a 5-month period of time that is described as being 150 days in length. And that of course is five 30-day months.”

  35. 35

    BA,

    Sorry, I read your earlier post on the prophetic year after I had already posted.

  36. jurassicmac,

    You really haven’t looked at the evidence, have you? You didn’t know that St. Joseph of Cupertino once helped some workers who were building a church by picking up a heavy wooden cross, carrying it through the air at a height of seven meters above the ground, hovering over the altar and finally putting it in its proper place, did you? It’s all there in the records. And you didn’t know that he once levitated in front of an astonished Pope Urban VIII, did you? Or that he levitated in front of the Duke of Brunswick, causing him to convert on the spot?

    I find your references to stage tricks (e.g. rabbits being pulled from hats) utterly unconvincing. Yes, there might be some clever 21st century magician who could figure out a way to fool an audience into thinking that he was levitating. But St. Joseph of Cupertino lived in the 17th century, and by all accounts he was none too bright. The idea that he could pull off a stunt that could fool thousands of learned people over a period of decades is simply preposterous. Either show me how a 17th century trickster could have pulled off his feats, or follow the evidence where it rationally leads.

    Whether people like it or not, miracles do happen, and for some of them, the evidence is convincing beyond all reasonable doubt.

  37. Alex73

    Thanks very much for the Scriptural references. Here’s another one: Luke 22:51.

    49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

    51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

  38. bornagain77

    Thanks very much for the links. I’ll have a look at them tonight.

  39. Sigh:

    The selective hyperskepticism we can see being showcased in this thread is ever so sad.

    Ever, so, sad.

    I suggest that — in addition to VJT’s most excellent reading list — JM and others may profit from a 101 on that basic problem here, with a particular focus on the text box on the problem of the ideologised, thus closed mind.

    (And BTW, I found it very interesting that I could not find a cogent discussion of this fallacy and the turnabout false and/or strawmannish and/or ad hominem laced accusation in Wikipedia. I know the phrase “selective hyperskepticism” is my own coinage, but it would be nice to see a discussion of the substance of it, in light of say Simon Greenleaf’s remarks. He is a key founding father of the anglophone theory of evidence in jurisprudence, cf. Gutenberg on his key work vol 1 here and vol 2 here. My notes on hyperskepticism pivot on his related discussion of the testimony of the evangelists, cf here and the Kregel reprint.)

    With that preliminary work in hand, I suggest a look at the discussion therein on the credibility of and warrant for the core Christian claims concerning Jesus of Nazareth, as are preserved in the NT, esp. the AD 55 text in 1 Cor 15:1 – 11. Thereafter, JM and co may find it useful to examine the wider discussion on warranted credible truths and foundations of worldviews, here, as in yes, we can use WCTs [including first principles of right reason] to assess the reasonableness of worldviews. Radical skepticism, radical relativism and fellow travellers — such as evolutionary materialism, as is discussed in my own current post [pardon the implied promo] — do not fare well.

    No great surprise.

    I believe that that sort of preliminary brush-clearing and bulldozing of rubble will then help prepare for the most excellent exercise in Autumn reading.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: VJT, do you intend to take Coyne et al on a guided tour of some of he highlights from your reading list? I think that would be a very useful exercise!

    PPS: Can I suggest for those pre-occupied with objections to the Christian faith a little supplement, and maybe a digest, too, for extra credit? (And Vox Day on the Irrational [New] Atheist[s] — yep, he published the whole book online, free in multiple formats; he must be a disciple of Jim Baen — will be useful as well.)

  40. VJT (And CH):

    Looks like I went over the links budget!

    GEM of TKI

  41. Dr. Torley,

    Here is another video on fulfilled prophecy in the past,,,:

    The Bible: The Word of God? Extraordinary Claims Demand Extraordinary Evidence – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....2491778083

    ,,, for me the ‘miracle’ of Israel becoming a nation in 1948, in the preceding video in particular that is was found to be precisely prophesied thousands of years earlier, is the ‘super sign’ that should wake up many.

  42. 42
    William J. Murray

    CannuckianYankee @#26:

    Well said and yes, it represents my view. You’re spot-on about atheists that deny evidence; whenever an atheists says “there is no evidence for god”, I point out that first, that’s a universal, categorically negative, unsupportable claim that demonstrates the a priori position of denial, then second, that billions of people for thousands of years have testified as to their experience and to the existence of God, and that such testimony is by definition evidence.

    Then they wave that evidence away, and any anecdotal evidence, empirical evidence, objective scientific evidence, sound rational arguments, and go so far as to ask for incontrovertible evidence. That is obviously nothing but denial in the form of pseudoskepticism.

    For whatever reason, it seems rational to them to accept the absurdities one must put up with to be an atheist just to avoid the idea of God; it seems to me that many of these people reject god more out of hurt and moral outrage when it comes to evil in the world, and would rather embrace nihilism than what they believe must be a horrible God.

    Someone said earlier that god loves free will more than god would like to do away with evil; IMO for good to exist as good, everything that is non-good must also exist. No “X” can exist without “not-X” in order for X to be identifiable. God can no more do away with evil, IMO, than god can do away with good.

    I know that many people in the ID community disagree with that, but I have yet to see any argument for how an X can exist (good), without the concurrent contextual existence of not-X (not good) to frame it as a meaningful, identifiable thing or characteristic.

    Even God cannot take up a brush and paint one side of a canvas all black and all white at the same time; even God cannot create the good without simultaneously contextualizing it with what is “not good”.

  43. 43
    William J. Murray

    VJTorley #35:

    One wonders that since there are some fraudulent doctors and scientists out there, if we should deny all science and medicine as fraud, according to jurassicmac’s argument.

    It’s interesting that most people who believe in, say, neo-darwinistic evolution, do so generally only on the word of media anecdotally presenting watered-down information, or perhaps by reading the testimony of a few scientists in third-party books or magazines, but refuse evidence of god, or the afterlife, or other things when it is presented to them in the same anecdotal or testimonial format, from people of good character.

    Which is the greater miracle, that a long string of genetic errors can build a human brain and imbue it with foresight and consciousness and awareness from scratch; or that some guy levitated? Even levitation is explicable via some random quantum quirk; but billions of years of “just so” errors producing human awareness and consciousness and a brain capable of holographic memories? Infinite universes? Infinite regress, creation from nothing, or thing creating itself?

    And atheists balk at a guy levitating just because it lends evidence to the existence of God?

    Astounding.

  44. 44

    Jurassic,

    Since KF posted a link to a site, which talks about the arguments for God’s existence, I took a peak, and noticed that the site also links to the arguments against God’s existence. These include:

    The problem of pain
    The problem of evil
    The problem of unvelief
    Science and religion are in conflict
    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (Hume)
    Argument from poor design
    Omniscience opposition and free will
    Omnipotence parodoxes

  45. 45

    ….Woops, I hit “submit” prematurely

    Continuing with the arguments against:

    Who created God?
    The ultimate 747 Gambit (Dawkins)
    The biblical God is immoral

    As you can see, these are all typical denialist arguments, which do not address the positive arguments whatsoever.

    The positive arguments address these, and that’s probably why the atheists avoid them.

  46. kairosfocus

    Thank you very much for the links, and congratulations on your first post. look forward to reading more.

    I hadn’t thought about doing a follow-up on the articles included in my list, but I might do that. Thanks for the suggestion.

  47. Dr Torley:

    Thank you, in turn.

    I think that a follow-up guided tour will be very useful indeed, especially if you pause to highlight the significance of selective hyperskepticism as the key “error of the skeptic,” as Greenleaf pointed out (as well as the onward significance of the ideologised, hostile, closed, blinded mind and the associated tendency to project turnabout accusations or to resort to the trifecta of distractive red herrings, led out to ad hominem soaked strawmen then rhetorically set ablaze to cloud, confuse, polarise and poison the atmosphere).

    Indeed, it is well worth pausing to cite from Greenleaf’s Testimony of the Evangelists, Ch 1:

    _______________________

    >> The docility which true philosophy requires of her disciples is not a spirit of servility, or the surrender of the reason and judgment to whatsoever the teacher may inculcate; but it is a mind free from all pride of opinion, not hostile to the truth sought for, willing to pursue the inquiry, and impartiality to weigh the arguments and evidence, and to acquiesce in the judgment of right reason. The investigation, moreover, should be pursued with the serious earnestness which becomes the greatness of the subject–a subject fraught with such momentous consequences to man. It should be pursued as in the presence of God, and under the solemn sanctions created by a lively sense of his omniscience, and of our accountability to him for the right use of the faculties which he has bestowed.

    In requiring this candor and simplicity of mind in those who would investigate the truth of our religion, Christianity demands nothing more than is readily conceded to every branch of human science. All these have their data, and their axioms; and Christianity, too, has her first principles, the admission of which is essential to any real progress in knowledge. “Christianity,” says Bishop Wilson, “inscribes on the portal of her dominion ‘Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in nowise enter therein.’ Christianity does not profess to convince the perverse and headstrong, to bring irresistible evidence to the daring and profane, to vanquish the proud scorner, and afford evidences from which the careless and perverse cannot possibly escape. This might go to destroy man’s responsibility. All that Christianity professes, is to propose such evidences as may satisfy the meek, the tractable, the candid, the serious inquirer . . . [more]” >>

    ______________________

    Well worth the read.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: CY, The Apologetics Wiki is indeed a very useful (albeit work-in-progress) compendium. The classic works site, topical section, will also be helpful. For quite a number of years now, I have found the rich trove of articles at CCC’s Leadership U very helpful. Dr William Lane Craig’s Virtual Office — and the onward Reasonable Faith site — will be helpful, especially his debates, which allow us to make “live” comparisons with the views of objectors to the Christian faith tradition that has so powerfully shaped our civilisation.

  48. William,

    I would love to hear your arguments for smoking not causing cancer. Sincerely, I love learning about unconventional points of view.

    Concerning good and evil, I wonder if it is wrong to think of them like objects. Obviously, if there is a rock, but no “not-rock” it would be impossible to really identify it. But if there is good, but no not-good, is there no good still?

    I’m trying to think of an analogy. Here’s one: on earth we are surrounded by matter. I cannot sense “not-matter.” But that does not mean that matter does not exist. I can tell that there is matter because matter comes in various forms. Maybe there could be good without evil, if the good came in various forms, textures, weights etc. Good can therefore be distinguished by other good, rather than by evil. Like how one person chooses to serve at a soup kitchen while another chooses to just donate a portion of his wealth to charity, while another gives free medical care on his time off.

  49. “so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.’”
    I have found the value of prophecy or any of the truth/facts offered here to be as affective as the “idea” that Coyne, Dawkins et all would repent in humble fear and plead with Almighty God for forgiveness.
    Here is the best (for those interested) work I know of on
    Daniel 70 weeks:
    http://www.familyradio.com/gra.....ture/frame

  50. Collin # 48: “I cannot sense “not-matter.” But that does not mean that matter does not exist.”

    Interesting, but what is around or next to matter that is not matter? Are we not able to sense it?

    If “good” becomes relative when would the “less good” (maybe the soup kitchen helper) become “evil” compared to a better good (the free medical giver) and who could judge?

    :-)

  51. 51

    Collin,

    Whether or not one can directly experience the contextual “not-X” isn’t imnportant. For example, I cannot directly experience “not-gravity”; but that doesn’t mean that “not-gravity” doesn’t exist, or that it cannot be imagined and then pursued. One can easily imagine a state where no matter exists, and pursue the development of such a state, because such things necessarily exist as the opposite of what one is identifying.

    In the post I was responding to, #7 by vjtorley, he stated: “Heaven is free from evil, or even the possibility of evil.” and ” Having attained it [the goodness of God], they are no longer free to turn away from God; their love of God is by now fixed and unchangeable, as their wills have been confirmed in grace.”

    However, if one experiences matter, or gravity, how can one eliminate the potential to imagine and pursue non-gravity, and non-matter? If someone says “A”, how can “not-A” be removed from the equation as a necessary contextual, contrasting implication?

    Identifying “mass” always carries with it the concept of more mass, or less mass; infinite mass, or no mass; more gravity, less, infinite, zero; good – more good, less; infinite, none.

    That’s just the logical necessity of a characteristic. If good exists, and is identifiable, not-good must be at least an imaginable condition.

  52. 52

    In the first paragraph I mean:

    … because such things necessarily exist conceptually as the opposite of or contextually “not” what one is identifying.

  53. CannuckianYankee @ 45 & 26:

    you have an interesting view of atheists. I might be the kind of atheist you have not met before. And I think I am in good company.

    “But honestly, if anyone wants to be a true atheist and deny God, they really have to contend with all the arguments for His existence, and not simply the carefully constructed so as to avoid the positive, denialist arguments.”

    Well, a lot of philosophers HAVE contended with those positive arguments for the existence of deities. I am surprised that you seem utterly unaware of the rich philosophical literature criticizing them. As far as the arguments you mentioned are concerned, I tried it out: you can simply google each one of them and usually have to go only so far as Wikipedia to find a list of philosophers that have discussed and criticized the argument in question. So, if you are truly interested, you can find the sources without much trouble and read them…
    And, like I said, I might be different from all the other atheists that you know, but I have personally spent quite some time contending with these arguments myself. So far, I haven’t encountered any that convinced me after serious philosophical, logical and scientific investigation. Of course, given the large variety of religions that incorporate deities in their belief systems, I can’t claim that my investigation has been exhaustive – I continue to read and engage religious and philosophical texts of a great variety, because I enjoy philosophical questions about the world, honest philosophical discourse, and I enjoy changing my mind.
    But since you have such a stringent standard for all the atheists out there, and you seem to be a true believer in the Christian god and deny Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Wicca, Lamaism, Jainism, Secular Humanism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shamanism, Shintoism, Judaism, etc. etc. etc., I assume that by your own standard, you must have contended with all the arguments for their truth?

  54. Molch and CY:

    While I am still busy with a constitutional crisis, I chanced to see your exchange.

    I think a few balancing words are in order, given the all too common fallacy of selective hyperskepticism and the contrasting key method of philosophical, worldview analysis inquiry: comparative difficulties.

    (I also — in that light — draw attention to a 101 survey of some relevant arguments on worldview options and the reality of God here, and on the core, historically and experientially [as in there are people who have had had -- and still have -- life changing encounters and relationships with the Living God, e.g. a certain Blaise Pascal] anchored positive warrant for the Christian view here and in App. 2 the same page.)

    On step-by-step points:

    1 –> The first problem with an outright declaration of atheism is that it pretends to a degree of knowledge that is simply not accessible to finite, fallible, too often ideologically biased and closed-minded thinkers such as we are. (Wiser atheists become agnostics of one sort or another: we don’t know, we have doubts,and maybe objections. But, we are open to listen seriously to responses to our questions, instead of resorting to habitual distractions, distortions, demonisations and dismissals.)

    2 –> Now, too, the fraction of what is knowable that any one individual or group can actually know to demonstrative or even moral certainty, is so small that a wise thinker will never claim to KNOW that there is no God. So, as just noted, a little epistemological humility is called for.

    3 –> And if one would trot out the so-called problem of evil as a knock down contradiction in theism, then one simply shows s/he is about 40 years out of date.

    4 –> The next issue is with the term “proof.” For, demonstrations are relative to premises, ultimately clusters of first plausibles, and if one does not like a conclusion, one can simply reverse the argument and dismiss one or more now objectionable premises. Perfectly valid. But maybe, not so sound.

    5 –> If instead we understand “proof” to be a loose term for warrant in light of credible first principles of reason and evidence, then the point underscored by Greenleaf in the first linked — and by Plato and Aristotle long before — comes to bear: warrant comes in degrees, and we should strive not to have inconsistent standards for what we are inclined to accept and what we are inclined to reject, for claims of a given kind; e.g. matters of fact can only be warranted to moral certainty, and these days mathematical proofs have to reckon with Godel. That is, we should not be selectively hyperskeptical.

    6 –> In this light, worldviews are responsibly held on the premise of reasonable faith, having done some comparative difficulties — in effect a grand abductive exercise of inference to best explanation of the experienced world. So, we take commonplace facts, well-warranted first truths and principles of right reason, and we assess worldviews across the main families, and then winnow down to the particular variety of the best so far as one can see.

    7 –> On such an approach [cf Section G in the first linked, on WCTs] we easily see that radical relativism and its fellow travellers are incoherent, and that worldviews that lead us to amorality are inconsistent with our experience of the world as morally bound creatures. That cuts a pretty wide swath across worldviews.

    8 –> further to this, as I have argued in my recent UD post on naturalism, that worldview is evolutionary materialistic [what knee-jerk adherence to "science" and rejection of "the supernatural" boil down to]. Consequently, it is exposed to the charge of worldview-level question-begging bias, and is self-referentially incoherent through undermining the credibility of the minds needed to think evolutionary materialist thoughts and believe them well warranted. (It is also inherently amoral as it has no foundational is that can ground ought; as was pointed out by Plato in The Laws Bk X, 2,300+ years ago.)

    9 –> Pantheistic systems — yet another wide swath — run into serious difficulty handling he vexed problem of the one and the many, i.e. unity and diversity in our common world.

    10 –> Against that backdrop the rhetorical gambit that piles up philosophers who produce arguments that the classical or updated theistic arguments are not demonstrative, and/or that one does not like some particular premise or other are rather dated. No worldview is demonstrative relative to universally acceptable premises, so the whole approach is wrong: fallaciously selective hyperskepticism, in one phrase.

    11 –> And the question as to what view best explains the world shapes a very different context for looking at the theistic arguments, especially cosmological, ethical and teleological ones, including the modern design argument. (Which in the end is why the late, former leading philosophical atheist in the world, Flew, became a former atheist. [And that transformation was about 20 years in the building, based on ways he was already thinking in the mid '80's, when Thaxton et al first stirred the pot with TMLO.])

    12 –> Moving over to the positive side of the ledger, the authenticity of the Judaeo-Christian tradition [with Islam a somewhat troubled side-branch] rests on history [cf the linked above for starters], and on the reality of people coming to know God for themselves.

    13 –> For us Christians, there are millions in the world today and across time who have come to know God in the face of the risen, living Christ, in positively life transforming, miraculous ways. We have come to know God as you know your mother [can you PROVE that there is a real independent person, mind and loving spirit there in that body?], and it has changed our lives.

    14 –> Nor are we all delusional — the impact of that knowing God in personal encounter has had utterly transforming and positive impact on our world.

    15 –> Sure there are many bad moments in our lives, and in the history of cultures influenced by Christian faith, but that is to be expected in a world where we at our best struggle to be virtuous. (All the one-sided hateful, lurid litanies by the New Atheists and fellow traveller village atheists are besides the point, especially after we have heard the moans of the ghosts of 100+ million victims of atheistical regimes over the past century.)

    _______________

    So, the bottom-line is whether we will play at selective hyperskepticism, or get serious about worldview choice on comparative difficulties.

    When we get serious, the balance of intellectual credibility takes on a very different colour than many are wont to assume.

    GEM of TKI

  55. 55

    Molch,

    Thanks for your response. Of course you are correct. I should have qualified my statement by pointing out that these are the popular arguments we see coming from the new atheists, and not the more rigorous attempts coming from philosophers.

    I have met many atheists, and most of them prefer the populist arguments, which do not address the positive theist ones.

    I have also met atheists who have looked more carefully at the stronger arguments, and while they have not been entirely convinced, neither have they come up with what in my view is a coherent argument against.

    For example, the cosmological argument is often challenged by some sort of “who created God” argument. Sound familiar?

  56. CannuckianYankee,

    there are always populist arguments from any side of any debate that usually don’t hold much water on close inspection. We agree that these kinds of arguments don’t make a good foundation for building a solid and defensible worldview (most importantly defensible before yourself). I have a habit of examining both the rigorous arguments and the rigorous philosophical critiques of those arguments for all sides before making my mind up about something as important as a philosophical worldview. Considering your rather strong standard for someone to hold a “true” atheist view, i.e. the belief that there are no deities, I simply assumed that you, holding a “true” belief in the Christian god and thereby rejecting a huge variety of competing views, must have done the same in respect to said variety of available worldviews?

  57. 57

    molch,

    “I simply assumed that you, holding a “true” belief in the Christian god and thereby rejecting a huge variety of competing views, must have done the same in respect to said variety of available worldviews?”

    Yes. I would agree that it is not necessary to look into everything that comes down the pike before committing to what one can reasonably determine to be true. That said, there are certain issues to atheism, which fail to consider what I find as THE most important issues.

    Those issues for me are: If there is no god, then why do we as humans value anything?

    If there is no god, then why is the universe not completely chaotic? In other words, where does order come from?

    If there is no god, how does one account for the absurdity of infinite regresses of causes?

    If there is no god, why is there belief in god at any level? It seems to me that ancient people believed in god or gods because such a god exists. In my view, polytheism is a corruption of monotheism. Monotheism is not an evolved higher form of polytheism.

    Atheists often begin with the assertion that monotheism evolved out of polytheism, and much of their argument stems from such an assertion.

    The way I look at it is this (and I gather much of this from scripture’s historical record):

    There is one God, who interacted personally with the first humans. This God created everything that exists.

    A certain event caused by the first humans brought about a significant change in God’s relationship with humans, such that He no longer interacted or made His presence known to humans except in certain special circumstances connected with His overall plans for them.

    Eventually humans developed religions based on what was known and passed on about this God. Many of those religions developed into polytheistic belief systems, which incorporated physical representations of their deities.

    At the same time, God continued to interact with a select group of humans, who recorded both His interactions and his actions among humans.

    Such a record exists to this day in the scriptures of the Old and New testaments.

    Now for the sake of argument here, it does the atheist no good to argue against a belief system (namely Christianity), which has as it’s foundation what I’ve illustrated above as if such events did not occur, by making the assertion that Christianity and monotheism somehow developed out of polytheism. I realize that you haven’t made that assertion, but most of the atheists I come across do make it.

    In other words, I’m challenging atheists to follow the whole argument and not make assertions where none is warranted. The same goes for the positive arguments for God’s existence. I’m asking atheists to answer the very basic questions I’ve asked above – if there is no god, how do you in essence, account for the universe and the things and phenomenon within?

    It’s easy to ask “well, have you considered all the other religions?’ But all that is beside the main issues.

    How do you really account for the scriptural record without making assertions about what you believe actually occurred as opposed to what the scriptures themselves report? I have never encountered a coherent answer to this from atheists, even as I continue to look at both sides of the question. And that is part of the reason I am as certain as I can be that theism and Christianity are true.

    Let’s face it – Christianity is certainly a belief system that holds interest for many people – Christian and non-Christian. I would say that in the history of the world there has never been a belief system, which holds more intrigue. There are many forms of religious belief that are inspired by the Christian scriptures – we have Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarianism, Christian Science, 7th Day Adventism, Bahai faith, Islam, The Unification Church, Christian Deism, New Age Christianity, and all kinds of other belief systems, which have a certain religious interpretation of who Jesus is. We also have Christianity as the focal point of history as in our dating system. For billions of people, the message of Christianity means something very important, and yet there are so many contradictions between them as to what is really important, and what is true. It almost seams as though there’s so many varieties of beliefs based on Christianity that it would be difficult to define what the actual truth of Christianity is.

    But if you follow what scripture actually says about this phenomenon, it’s right in line. Jesus said a lot of things, but one thing he never said is that his teaching would be so compelling that everyone would believe. On the contrary, Jesus predicted that many forms of belief based on his life would arise. Even Paul warned against angels preaching “another gospel,” and what do we see happening with other religions based on Christianity? Many of them begin with a visit from an “angel.”

    So I don’t believe God has left us without a coherent testimony of the truth such that we can’t tell the difference. We can tell the difference, but such an ability comes through faith in Him, and not from questioning the very basis for His existence. That certainly won’t lead to any satisfactory conclusion other than that life is meaningless.

  58. CannuckianYankee,

    Thanks for your detailed reply. It seems you are misunderstanding my point.

    You say: “I would agree that it is not necessary to look into everything that comes down the pike before committing to what one can reasonably determine to be true.”

    In fact, I said almost the exact opposite of what you imply: Although I have certainly not had the time in my life to examine every single possible alternative and argument, I indeed “have a habit of examining both the rigorous arguments and the rigorous philosophical critiques of those arguments for all sides before making my mind up about something as important as a philosophical worldview”. And I assumed that you had done the same. The arguments that you consider as the most important issues in your worldview are arguments for the Christian god that I am very familiar with and have examined and answered to my satisfaction. If you are actually interested in my views on these issues, I would move the conversation to private e-mail, because it would certainly explode the scope of this blog. The arguments and critiques themselves are not what I am concerned with in the current discussion.

    You say:
    “The way I look at it is this (and I gather much of this from scripture’s historical record): […] Such a record exists to this day in the scriptures of the Old and New testaments. […] It’s easy to ask “well, have you considered all the other religions?’ But all that is beside the main issues. […] How do you really account for the scriptural record without making assertions about what you believe actually occurred as opposed to what the scriptures themselves report?”

    In other words, you have examined the Christian scriptures, and you take their account of how the world is as the truth value and measure everything else against it. You are of course entitled to do so. But you are not entitled to expect me or anyone else to put any weight on your belief that the truth about the world according to the scriptures, traditions and truth-finding methods of all the other belief systems of the world are any less true, especially if you have not, as becomes clear from your writing, actually examined those scriptures, methods, arguments, and their criticisms.

  59. 59

    molch,

    “In fact, I said almost the exact opposite of what you imply: Although I have certainly not had the time in my life to examine every single possible alternative and argument.”

    What you implied was that I hold a higher standard to the atheist than myself because I obviously have not looked into every other religion in order to determine whether Christianity is true. I was agreeing that one does not need to look into every alternative claim in order to know the truth of a particular claim. Do you not believe this?

  60. 60

    molch,

    “In other words, you have examined the Christian scriptures, and you take their account of how the world is as the truth value and measure everything else against it.”

    Not at all. That’s not what I’m saying. There are reasons outside the scriptures for why I hold them as truth. The scriptures make sense of the world, the universe and my experience. Atheism does not.

  61. CannuckianYankee:

    “I was agreeing that one does not need to look into every alternative claim in order to know the truth of a particular claim. Do you not believe this?”

    When it comes to worldviews, I do indeed believe that “one does not need to look into every alternative claim to conclude the truth of a particular claim.” Note that I replaced the word “know” from your sentence, and replaced it with the word “conclude”. But it seems that you don’t actually believe that when it comes to people NOT sharing your view. If you really did believe that, then why do you require an atheist to look into every argument for the truth of the Christian faith, when he/she has already concluded that deities are not likely to exist, and the Christian faith is one of a multitude of beliefs that include deities?

    “There are reasons outside the scriptures for why I hold them as truth.”

    Ok. Sorry I misinterpreted you there.

    “The scriptures make sense of the world, the universe and my experience. Atheism does not.”

    Well, your conclusions in that respect are obviously opposite to mine. It explains why you are a Christian and to some degree why I am an atheist. So that’s completely fine by me.

  62. CannuckianYankee:

    “Let’s face it – Christianity is certainly a belief system that holds interest for many people – Christian and non-Christian. I would say that in the history of the world there has never been a belief system, which holds more intrigue. There are many forms of religious belief that are inspired by the Christian scriptures – we have Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarianism, Christian Science, 7th Day Adventism, Bahai faith, Islam, The Unification Church, Christian Deism, New Age Christianity, and all kinds of other belief systems, which have a certain religious interpretation of who Jesus is. We also have Christianity as the focal point of history as in our dating system. For billions of people, the message of Christianity means something very important, and yet there are so many contradictions between them as to what is really important, and what is true. It almost seams as though there’s so many varieties of beliefs based on Christianity that it would be difficult to define what the actual truth of Christianity is.”

    I can take this paragraph you wrote and replace the words Christianity and Christian with e.g. Buddhism and Buddhist, the word Jesus with Buddha, and your list of Christian Faith versions and derivatives with Theravada, Mahayana, the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tendai, Shinnyo-en, etc. and it sounds just as convincing or unconvincing (take your pick) as an argument to adopt a particular belief system as your original version.

  63. Molch & CY:

    I suggest you might find the remarks at 54 above helpful.

    GEM of TKI

  64. wmurray re 42 “IMO for good to exist as good, everything that is non-good must also exist. No “X” can exist without “not-X” in order for X to be identifiable. God can no more do away with evil, IMO, than god can do away with good”

    I dont think that the existence of good requires the existence of non good or evil. Good makes the existence of non good possible but I dont think it does so by necessity.

    Vivid

  65. Greetings molch

    I second KF’s suggestion especially when he writes

    kf “6 –> In this light, worldviews are responsibly held on the premise of reasonable faith, having done some comparative difficulties — in effect a grand abductive exercise of inference to best explanation of the experienced world. So, we take commonplace facts, well-warranted first truths and principles of right reason, and we assess worldviews across the main families, and then winnow down to the particular variety of the best so far as one can see.”

    Vivid

  66. Hi vivid -

    I completely agree with KF’s #6 which you cite; I thought that was obvious from my earlier posts; it is exactly by exercises of comparative difficulties and inference to best explanation of the experienced world that I have arrived at my present worldview.

    I also agree with this statement of his in #10: “No worldview is demonstrative relative to universally acceptable premises”

    …which is related to this from #2: “Now, too, the fraction of what is knowable that any one individual or group can actually know to demonstrative or even moral certainty, is so small that a wise thinker will never claim to KNOW that there is no God.” …which obviously also entails the opposite end of that bargain.
    I don’t agree with much else KF has to say in 54. It’s anybody’s guess why he assumes that I claim to KNOW that there is no god. I don’t, never did, never will. I have CONCLUDED that there is no god. I trust you see the difference, even if he doesn’t.

    I am not inclined to discuss 54 any further with KF, since I don’t get much enjoyment or education out of discourse with someone who parades his pervasive arrogance in sweeping dismissive statements such as #9, or by calling Islam a “troubled side-branch of Judeo-Christianity”.

    But I am happy to engage in further discussion with you, vivid, as I find time!

  67. 67
    William J. Murray

    It’s interesting that the fall from grace is illustrated in the Bible as Adam and Even eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    That indicates to me that in a state of grace, there is no knowledge of good or evil, so to characterize existence in heaven as “all good” seems at least a semantic misnomer.

    Please note that I haven’t claimed heaven doesn’t exist – I believe there is an afterlife – but I don’t see how any concept of good can exist without the concept of not-good (principle of identity), and I think the Bible’s description of what facilitated the fall bears this out.

    It might be that in a state of grace one no longer divides existence up into good and evil, but sees it rather as the manifest perfection of god’s creation.

    I have often thought that to know something is like letting the genie out of the bottle (or out of pandora’s box), and that said knowledge cannot be “removed” except as a violation of one’s free will. This represented a difficulty for achieving any “heaven” state of grace afterward; how can one just “forget” about good and evil?

    I think, however, that the perspective supplied by grace, which is willingly pursued and accepted, might move one beyond “knowledge of good and evil” and into a perspective that transcends that mortal dichotomy and into the perfect (godly) perspective.

  68. Molch:

    Pardon, a few correctives seem to be needed.

    First, it is a commonplace in epistemology that there is a strong assymetry in warrant between grounding a universal negative and grounding a positive assertion.

    For instance, no number of observations of white swans can show beyond doubt that a black swan does not or cannot exist. Just so, a finite, fallible creature with bounded rationality faces a bind when trying to assert a universal negative. Save, where a contradiction can be shown, i.e the positive assertion leads to a reductio.

    That is what a-theologians in the past generation thought they had in the modernised form of the traditional problem of evil. But by the 1970′s Plantinga demolished that hope on their part.

    Of course, a simple trip to Australia and an observation of the famous Black Swan of that continent, suffices to demolish the universal negative. One exception demolishes a universal negative.

    And, as you may note from the above, there are several cumulatively strong lines of evidence pointing to a specific exception to the universal negative claim: “there is no God.”

    (Also, onlookers: to present the claim “I have concluded” in the context of worldview warrant, is to imply a claim to warranted, credibly true belief, i.e. to knowledge.)

    So, Molch, your assertion just above of an “obvious” entailment of a symmetrical challenge to theism fails, and this error shows that your reasoning has not been as soundly instructed as you imagined.

    As to your attempted atmosphere-poisoning ad hominem-laced red herring and strawman caricature on Islam, I will simply note that a well-informed critical survey [e.g. cf here] of the circumstances surrounding the historical origins of Islam as a view related to and derivative of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, sadly, abundantly warrant my summary terms. (It may not be politically correct to point to such circumstances, but alas, they are well warranted. Cf e.g. here on the story of a 9 y.o. child bride taken from her dolls, and other related concerns. Sorry to be so painfully specific, but such details are necessary given your attempt at personal attack.)

    When it comes to the problem of the one and the many for pantheistic and related systems of thought [which you tried to dismiss by attacking me in your remarks on my brief point no 9 (see how if you are brief you can be misconstrued and if you are detailed, you are derided for prolixity . . .)], it is a well-known, even commonplace observation that in such systems a common claim is that “one is the number of truth and two, that of error.”

    That is, unity swallows up diversity.

    Inter alia, this leads to enormous challenges addressing the reality of evil and pain, cf the tendency to infer to Maya, a world of illusion to describe our experienced world, and the linked concept of Karma. (Cf the discussion here as an introduction.)

    Similarly, there are challenges for such views relating to the diversity issue implied by the logical principle of non-contradiction. (A telling case in point comes up here, on cosmology of origins. Note the in extenso quote from R. K. Lahiri in section A, including his remarks on logical disagreements.)

    In short, my point 9 in 54 above was indeed a highly compressed summary remark but that did not mean that it has no warranting context that should have been immediately accessible to one discussing worldview choice across major systems of thought on a reasonably informed basis.

    There were no just grounds for the resort to personal attack you made.

    Similarly, I note that you have simply failed to address the severe, specific worldview challenges of evolutionary materialism [cf my recent UD post here and especially the continuation here], in light of first principles of right reason and the self-referential question of the credibility of the mind on such premises.

    Nor, have you taken up the issue that on inference to best explanation, to reject the set of evidence pointing to theism leads to commitments that have very strong challenges on difficulties.

    So, perhaps it would be well advised for you to reconsider the issues regarding the potentially deleterious impact of selective hyperskepticism on worldview choice/ conclusions.

    GEM of TKI

  69. Onlookers:

    As I just noted, Molch has played the card of the trifecta fallacy, then has claimed that he needs not address the substance, having in his mind discredited the man.

    Unfortunately, this is a classic tactic of those caught up in selectively hyperskeptical systems: divert, distort, deride, dismiss.

    One hopes he will reconsider his slamming of the door, and that he will similarly reconsider the issues on the merits.

    For, there are some serious unanswered questions on the table for evolutionary materialistic atheists.

    (And even if he does not address them, we should bear them in mind.)

    GEM of TKI

  70. F/N: Mrs O’Leary’s remarks in her new post here provide additional reasons and context on why Molch should reconsider what he did above, and how: a turnabout accusation rhetorical tactic.

  71. 71

    KF,

    Thanks for your clarifications – based on reason and on the literature.

    I was thinking of a similar answer to molch regarding the inability to reasonably conclude a negative, and that is:

    The atheist certainly has a disadvantage in asserting that there is no God, for any evidential example of God would disprove such an assertion. This is why atheists are now saying such things as “I see no evidence that there is a God.” There really is no such thing as a hard atheist anymore. Such positions have been eliminated through a painstaking interaction with the logical issues. All they are really saying now is that an example, which would show that there is a God is not present (to them). Such claims are typical of materialist claims – as in question-begging. Except that it makes a meager attempt at avoiding the begging of questions by implying that the evidence has not reached them – rather than that there is no evidence.

    It would seem to me many (not all) atheists are of the opinion that believers must present them with the evidence. Such is not the case. The evidence is present to them in “the things that are made.” It’s another issue of materialism discounting what even the atheist has determined as “designoid,” or having the appearance of design. Such would be for any reasonable person not invested in materialism, evidence for a designer. But atheists believe they can escape this implication through a tricky a priori metaphysical assumption.

    The Christian theist on the other hand is not so burdened. All we have to do is show a reasonable propensity of evidence for God’s existence. I believe we have that in the abstract arguments from logic and first principles, the testimony of scripture, the testimony of nature and the cosmos, and the testimony of several millennia of believers and the true work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Not only that, but we have 2,000 years of philosophical debate on the merits of Christianity, beginning with the early Church fathers, and continuing to this day, which offer ever strengthening insight into the truth of Christianity – the focal point of modern history.

  72. 72

    molch, KF (and the rest of the choir)

    Another issue is regarding other faiths. I should point out that Christianity is evangelical. The Christian desires to share his/her faith with others so they too can come to salvation. The field of apologetics is not only concerned with presenting evidence and a coherent argument for the truth claims of Christianity, but also with comparative analysis of other faiths, which counter Christian truth claims.

  73. CY:

    Thanks for some kind words. Such help restore the atmosphere from polarisation.

    Let us see how Molch or others of like ilk will respond onwards to the issues above, and the responses to the specific stridently dismissve claims made above.

    I note that the “no evidence” claim is in fact a manifestation of selective hyperskepticism, Cliffordian evidentialism form, probably filtered through the likes of Sagan’s blunder: extraordinary claims require extraordinary ADEQUATE evidence.

    (Note, the thread is on readings for the likes of a Mr Coyne and co, providing a considerable body of that evidence that Molch et al would dismiss.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I have had to add Mr Coyne’s unfortunately rather over the top remarks in his USA Today article to my excerpt of the classic Lewontin a priori materialismremarks, in my IOSE summary module; including some links to onward readings. I have also taken on some excerpts in Mrs O’Leary’s new thread, here (no 7).

  74. Is this a great thread or what? :-)

    CY @ 57 ” I’m asking atheists to answer the very basic questions I’ve asked above – if there is no god, how do you in essence, account for the universe and the things and phenomenon within?”

    In “The Grand Design” (in which he claims that there is no Design) Hawking accounts for it like this on page 180: “That’s why empty space is stable. Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can.” And later on the same page: “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the the universe exists, why we exist.”

    And Daniel Dennett explains in “Breaking The Spell” on page 244 that: “It (the universe)… does perform a version of the ultimate bootstrapping trick; it creates itself ex nihilo.”

    So there you have it. From two of the intellectual leading lights of “the new atheism.” Unbelievable. The irrationality is staggering.

  75. Just like the KF I know and love: putting words in my mouth and then attacking what he just made up:

    ”So, Molch, your assertion just above of an “obvious” entailment of a symmetrical challenge to theism fails”

    Here is what I actually said: “a wise thinker will never claim to KNOW that there is no God.” …which obviously also entails the opposite end of that bargain.”

    In the context of the actual discussion I was having with CY, you might have glimpsed that what I was talking about here were the truth claims of the multitude of alternative worldviews we were discussing (i.e. there is no Tao, there is no Karma, there is no Boddhisattva, there is no [insert whatever concept you want]). But I guess I am expecting too much by asking for contextual reading.

    “and this error shows that your reasoning has not been as soundly instructed as you imagined.”

    Well, at least your comments are good for a chuckle – feel free to question my reasoning all you wish without knowing anything about my reasoning, I’ll be content with questioning your reading comprehension…

    “I have concluded” in the context of worldview warrant, is to imply a claim to warranted, credibly true belief, i.e. to knowledge.”

    That’s nice that you think that. I disagree. Belief (warranted credibly true or not) is fundamentally different from knowledge. Look it up in the dictionary. The conclusion that A = B is fundamentally different from the knowledge that A = B.

    “It may not be politically correct to point to such circumstances, but alas, they are well warranted. Cf e.g. here on the story of a 9 y.o. child bride taken from her dolls, and other related concerns. Sorry to be so painfully specific, but such details are necessary given your attempt at personal attack.”

    You want some “painfully specific details” why calling Christianity “troubled” might be “well warranted”?

    “In short, my point 9 in 54 above was indeed a highly compressed summary remark but that did not mean that it has no warranting context that should have been immediately accessible to one discussing worldview choice across major systems of thought on a reasonably informed basis.”

    Let’s see – how about some highly compressed summary remark that I find Christianity an ethically highly questionable, internally inconsistent cult for a barbaric god, and Alvin Plantinga outdated and far from the mark in addressing the problem of evil. After all, these views have a lot of warranting context, as someone as well versed in Christian apologetics as you should know. And after saying this, I’ll expect you to have a fair-minded, productive discussion on the merits of different world-views…

    “Nor, have you taken up the issue that on inference to best explanation, to reject the set of evidence pointing to theism leads to commitments that have very strong challenges on difficulties.”

    I am sorry that it irks you that I don’t feel like debating the roots and reasonings behind my world-view with you. If I want to do that, I go to much more intellectually and philosophically challenging places than here. Like I pointed out in the discussion with CY, I am not here to discuss my world-view, or his, or yours. I entered the discussion to challenge his somewhat strange and in my eyes inconsistent standard for adopting a world-view.

    “Unfortunately, this is a classic tactic of those caught up in selectively hyperskeptical systems: divert, distort, deride, dismiss.”

    Thanks for summarizing your pervasive debating technique so beautifully. That’s exactly why I find discussions with you neither productive, nor educational, nor enjoyable. Have fun deriding the next customer!

  76. CY: any comments to my 61 & 62?

  77. A man walks into a room with a friend and notices a red ball sitting on the table. He says, “Look, there is a red ball sitting on the table. I wonder how it got there.” His friend responds: “Are you kidding me? Obviously, someone put it there.” For all rational people, that is the end of the discussion.

    Now blow up the ball so that it fills the entire room. Has the argument changed? No. The answer is still the same. The only thing that has changed is the size of the ball. Obviously, someone put it there. Now blow the ball up to the size of a city. Has anything about the argument changed yet? No. Now blow the ball up to the size of the earth–to the size of the solar system–to the size of the Milky Way Galaxy–to the size of the universe. Nothing has changed. Obviously, someone put it there.

    Why is it that the atheist/agnostic will acknowledge that the presence of small red ball on the table requires an intelligent agent but cannot recognize the fact that the presence of a super large red ball also requires an intelligent agent. That’s easy. His desire that the agent not be there clouds his judgment and causes him to deny the obvious. Atheist/agnostics always deny the obvious [someone put it there] and affirm the impossible [something can come from nothing]. The two practices are inextricably tied to one another.

  78. 78

    molch,

    Let’s get this discussion back on track here.

    “Like I pointed out in the discussion with CY, I am not here to discuss my world-view, or his, or yours. I entered the discussion to challenge his somewhat strange and in my eyes inconsistent standard for adopting a world-view.”

    I’m sorry, but this statement appears rather contradictory. You’re not here to discuss my worldview, but you are challenging my worldview? Maybe you could fix that a little so I understand exactly why you’ve come to this thread.

    I don’t believe you’ve captured the essence of how I have formed my worldview. I personally believe that worldviews are important not simply as an intellectual exercise, but in order for us to understand our place; our significance in the world. I personally find atheism utterly lacking in any coherent accounting of the basic questions most of us find ourselves asking – why are we here? why does such a universe exist rather than not? How did the universe come to be?

    It seems now that the true atheist answer – after many years of intellectual debating and considering the evidence, is approaching an unavoidable nihilism due to it’s premise. Such a nihilism is now dismissing the very logic upon which humans have based their reasoning and inquiry (including science itself) for millennia. As TG pointed out in his last post, when the populist atheists are now claiming the absurd – such
    as that the universe created itself out of nothing, what would you truly expect from us?

    The new atheists have been making charges against Christianity in particular over the past decade or so, which when you weigh such charges against the utter absurdity of the new cosmological speculations coming from Stephen Hawking and others, it makes even the ill-founded assertions regarding Christianity sound pretty good.

    You say that you’re not here to discuss your worldview, but your worldview is what this thread is concerned with.

    “any comments to my 61 & 62?”

    Yes,

    “Note that I replaced the word ‘know’ from your sentence, and replaced it with the word ‘conclude’.”

    Christians have a peculiar way of looking at this exercise in semantics, and yes the difference does matter. But from the Christian’s perspective we have experienced the presence of God in our lives. So God’s reality is not something we merely “conclude,” but we “know” as well as we can know. So I can see from your perspective why you would make such a distinction, but from a Christian perspective it is different. If you haven’t had the Christian perspective, how would you know? So you’re way of looking at it from an atheist perspective is perfectly fine as far as it goes. But to say that a Christian cannot “know” based on his/her own experience of the presence of God, is again, to beg questions.

    Now this brings up a related issue, which you mentioned; how does the Christian deal with other faiths, which also make claims of a transcendent reality?

    As I mentioned, Christian apologetics IS concerned with other religious truth claims, and such claims are weighed both for their internal consistency and their consistency with the reality we find in the world around us. Also, what Christians perceive as quasi-Christian belief systems, which claim the scriptures as their foundation, are weighed for their consistency with the scriptures themselves.

    I won’t get into the specifics of this, and perhaps you are aware of some examples.

    But my overall point is that not all truth claims are coherent with the parts of reality that are plain and clear to most of us. Many atheists, for example, are quite fond of the “flying spaghetti monster” analogy when making charges against religion – Christianity in particular. This analogy falls flat when considering that Christianity has an epistemological history, which has been examined quite extensively. So when you ask why one and not the other, or what’s the difference between Christianity’s truth claims and that of any other religion; we are strongly supported by Christianity’s epistemological history, as well as a propensity of evidence from a number of disciplines. Furthermore, Christianity’s basic focal point is an historic event, which if it could be shown to be untrue, would topple the entire belief system. Not all religions have that unique quality such that if the central figure were shown to have not existed, or not done what is claimed of him, would falsify the entire faith. Christianity is rather unique in that respect.0

    The problem atheism has with Christianity does not appear to stem from Christianity being unreasonable if God does truly exist, although there are such arguments, but with the very premise that God does not exist. Again, this is a negative, which at best can only be adhered to as a possibility – it is possible that God does not exist. I personally believe that Dawkins is way off base when he suggests that God’s non-existence is “probable.” Because the atheist has not personally found evidence for God’s existence does not imply that God probably does not exist. Where does the probability come from other than the atheists own lack of experience? For the Christian, God does exist, and as such, the Judaeo-Christian scriptures are quite consistent with that reality.

    If you have some familiarity with Hume at all, his argument against miracles is completely incoherent if the existence of God is a given. So he too was begging questions with his argument. However, within his argument, he made some valid points regarding some claims of miracles. His overall problem is that he ruled out all miracles, rather than simply those, which could not be verified through reasonable means. He ruled them out because they did not fit within his own criteria of verifiability, which of course is fallacious, since he is being inconsistent with his own premise that what we know must be experienced:

    Hume believed that one can only know what is related to one’s own direct experience. I would agree with this. So for him to validly rule out all miracles, he would of necessity be able to share the experiences of all those making claims of miracles, and rule them out based on other explanations.

    For the Christian, God is known through direct experience. I would guess that your view is that God cannot be known in this way (or at least that it is doubtful – perhaps not?), because He is necessarily immaterial. But if that is your view, even that would be an assertion, and that you yourself could not know, because based on the same premise, you have not experienced Him.

    Let’s put this in human terms. I know my mother. It would be logically incoherent for you to say “You cannot know your mother, because I haven’t experienced her.” This seems to be in short, what the atheist position is regarding knowledge of God. Let’s revisit what I stated earlier – atheists state: “We have not found evidence that there is such a God, so it is probable that such a God does not exist.” This type of “conclusion” to use your terminology is therefore inconsistent with the billions of people who claim to have direct experience of God in their lives. Is that not evidence? It may not be the type of direct evidence such as you having your own experience of God, but it is none the less evidence, which should be met with at least some consideration, even if there is much that you can dismiss based on the internal consistency of such a claim or belief. Otherwise, your atheism is partly founded on a belief that the billions of people who claim to have experienced God’s presence are all wrong or “delusional.”

    “I can take this paragraph you wrote and replace the words Christianity and Christian with e.g. Buddhism and Buddhist, the word Jesus with Buddha, and your list of Christian Faith versions and derivatives with Theravada, Mahayana, the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tendai, Shinnyo-en, etc. and it sounds just as convincing or unconvincing (take your pick) as an argument to adopt a particular belief system as your original version.”

    Well that may be true. It would certainly be true if my point is concerned with the number of adherents to Christianity vs. the number of adherents to Buddhism, but that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about Christianity’s intrigue and let’s add impact, particularly among Western cultures – but if you want to get into it, I would say that Christianity has had more of an impact throughout the world than has Buddhism. I’m not saying this out of some sort of spite for Buddhists, but the fact remains that one will find Christians in more countries around the world in larger numbers than one will find Buddhists. With the exception of a few population pockets in countries where religion is tolerated, Buddhists for the most part are concentrated in Eastern Asia.

    But Christians have been in Asian countries in large numbers for centuries, even where Christianity has not been tolerated. It is estimated that there are more Christian believers in China for example, than there are in France or Germany.

    Furthermore, Christianity has had an impact around the world, and that impact continues to increase in relation to the values, which cultures adopt – particularly with civic law, human rights, health care and technology, much of which have their basis in Western Christian (and to some extent, secular) culture – not all, but much.

    So I fail to see your point in switching the sects.

    “why do you require an atheist to look into every argument for the truth of the Christian faith, when he/she has already concluded that deities are not likely to exist, and the Christian faith is one of a multitude of beliefs that include deities?”

    For the simple reason that Christianity teaches that atheism can and should be eliminated through right reason and respectful challenging of it’s foundations. This hasn’t always been a part of the Christian apologetic by any means, but it is what is taught in scripture – tolerating the views of others, while attempting to persuade them through reason, example and respect.

    It seems, on the other hand, that atheists believe theism should be eliminated through intolerance – by labeling a huge portion of the world’s population as “delusional,” “unscientific” and in some cases, “evil.” It would be quite tolerable in our world if atheists left well enough alone and respected the views of those who believe in God. But atheism’s most prominent spokespersons have been less than tolerant, and we have a right to ask for a reason for their desire to eliminate faith if they’re going to include believers in such an agenda towards an even more intolerable nihilism. Beliefs have consequences.

  79. Molch:

    I don’t have a lot of time just now to take up what is again a rather personalised, loaded response, so I will pick up one slice of the cake that has in it all the ingredients of the problem:

    Belief (warranted credibly true or not) is fundamentally different from knowledge. Look it up in the dictionary. The conclusion that A = B is fundamentally different from the knowledge that A = B.

    1 –> Let’s start with the Oxford English Dictionary’s version of he classic philosophical definition of knowledge:

    Philosophy: true, justified belief . . .[OED 2001]

    2 –> In short, we know what is believed true on warrant — we accept it as true [= believe it], and we have good reason for that belief [= it is warranted as credibly true]. (And, I have used warrant because of the now classic Gettier counter-example problem to subjective justification.)

    3 –> So, in epistemology [the relevant discipline on this] knowledge is a subset of belief. Belief that has warrant and is certainly — or, in many practical situations — credibly true.

    4 –> Of which last scientific knowledge (as opposed to knowledge claims made in the name of science) is a classic case in point.

    5 –> And, indeed, one may conclude A = B without knowing that A = B, if one has not got good warrant. That was one of my key points you accept but present as though it were a refutation. (But, one suspects your atheistical conclusions are not held by you to be poorly warranted; never mind what has been shown above about the gaps in atheistical reasoning.)

    _________________

    I trust this will be enough to spark a re-think.

    Later, when I have more time.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  80. CY

    “Let’s get this discussion back on track here.”
    Yes – thanks.

    I said: “Like I pointed out in the discussion with CY, I am not here to discuss my world-view, or his, or yours. I entered the discussion to challenge his somewhat strange and in my eyes inconsistent standard for adopting a world-view.”
    To which you replied: “I’m sorry, but this statement appears rather contradictory. You’re not here to discuss my worldview, but you are challenging my worldview?”

    Ok, I thought you understood my point earlier, but it seems I was wrong. I am not challenging your world-view, I am challenging the standard you are applying to your judgement of whether someone has done enough research to adopt a certain world-view. I’ll try to be more clear by using an example: According to your standard, a Buddhist (who might very well be an atheist, in case you didn’t know) is required to justify why he/she is not a Christian, but a Christian is not required to justify why he/she is not a Buddhist.

    “I don’t believe you’ve captured the essence of how I have formed my worldview.”

    Well, I mean no offense, but I don’t really care that much how you have formed your worldview, I care about what you prescribe onto others as to how you think they should form their world-view.

    “I personally believe that worldviews are important not simply as an intellectual exercise, but in order for us to understand our place; our significance in the world.”

    I completely agree with you there, and thought that was evident from my earlier posts.

    “I personally find atheism utterly lacking in any coherent accounting of the basic questions most of us find ourselves asking – why are we here? why does such a universe exist rather than not? How did the universe come to be?”

    That’s completely fine by me that you feel that way – I feel quite similarly about all the monotheistic religions and many other religions.

    I said: “Note that I replaced the word ‘know’ from your sentence, and replaced it with the word ‘conclude’.”
    To which you replied: ”So I can see from your perspective why you would make such a distinction, but from a Christian perspective it is different. If you haven’t had the Christian perspective, how would you know? So you’re way of looking at it from an atheist perspective is perfectly fine as far as it goes.”

    Great – I’m glad we can agree on that

    “But to say that a Christian cannot “know” based on his/her own experience of the presence of God, is again, to beg questions.”

    I never said that, and never implied it either, so that should settle that.

    “my overall point is that not all truth claims are coherent with the parts of reality that are plain and clear to most of us.”

    I completely agree with you here – and there are a lot of truth claims in ANY faith that are not coherent with the parts of reality that are plain and clear to most of us.

    “when you ask why one and not the other, or what’s the difference between Christianity’s truth claims and that of any other religion; we are strongly supported by Christianity’s epistemological history, as well as a propensity of evidence from a number of disciplines.”

    If I dig enough I can find you hundreds of examples of the exact equivalent claims made by practically every other religion.

    “Furthermore, Christianity’s basic focal point is an historic event, which if it could be shown to be untrue, would topple the entire belief system. Not all religions have that unique quality such that if the central figure were shown to have not existed, or not done what is claimed of him, would falsify the entire faith.”

    I’m not sure why you think that that’s a strength – to me it’s quite obvious that that’s a big weakness of Christianity.

    I said: “….and it sounds just as convincing or unconvincing (take your pick) as an argument to adopt a particular belief system as your original version.”
    To which you replied: “Well that may be true.”

    Yes, it is true. Just because a lot of people believe something, doesn’t make it any more or less true.

    “the fact remains that one will find Christians in more countries around the world in larger numbers than one will find Buddhists. With the exception of a few population pockets in countries where religion is tolerated, Buddhists for the most part are concentrated in Eastern Asia.”

    That fact is entirely unsurprising, given that Christianity has a strong component of evangelism, whereas most Eastern religions, including Buddhism, do not. And, as I said earlier, that point is really irrelevant to me for a reason to adopt a world-view. I don’t adopt a world-view by majority vote.

    I said: “why do you require an atheist to look into every argument for the truth of the Christian faith, when he/she has already concluded that deities are not likely to exist, and the Christian faith is one of a multitude of beliefs that include deities?”

    To which you replied: “For the simple reason that Christianity teaches that atheism can and should be eliminated through right reason and respectful challenging of it’s foundations.”

    Sure, I have no problem with that. I personally believe that monotheism can and should be eliminated through right reason and respectful challenging of it’s foundations.

    “It seems, on the other hand, that atheists believe theism should be eliminated through intolerance – by labeling a huge portion of the world’s population as “delusional,” “unscientific” and in some cases, “evil.”

    Did you find me using any such labels or any signs of intolerance in my discussion with you at any point? No? So why then do you throw people of a certain belief all in the same pot, when you yourself don’t wish to be thrown in the pot with adherents of your faith for whom “tolerating the views of others, while attempting to persuade them through reason, example and respect” has demonstrably NOT been the method of persuasion?

  81. 81

    molch,

    I’m going in a somewhat non-specific order in response:

    Me: “Furthermore, Christianity’s basic focal point is an historic event, which if it could be shown to be untrue, would topple the entire belief system. Not all religions have that unique quality such that if the central figure were shown to have not existed, or not done what is claimed of him, would falsify the entire faith.”

    you: “I’m not sure why you think that that’s a strength – to me it’s quite obvious that that’s a big weakness of Christianity.”

    Why?

    It would indeed be a weakness if one begins with the assumption that Christianity is not true. Of course if you begin there, then you’re not really considering Christianity’s truth claims, are you?

    The strength in that point is that Christianity does not depend on some esoteric “truthiness,” which can be accepted or rejected and still maintain a foundation. Christianity depends on an historic event, which if it did not happen, renders Christianity false. The gospel writers understood this, and Paul understood this; yet they boldly proclaimed it.

    But let’s not belabor the point here. For you to charge that a truth claim, which has as its premise something that can be falsified, as a weak point for that claim, would seem to fit in what KF has categorized as hyper-skepticism, and I would add – to the extreme. And you’re questioning my basis for worldview foundation? On what basis do you make the charge that an element that can be falsified is a weakness for a truth claim? What is your reasoning here? Do you think all religions should only contain “truthiness” and not truth?

  82. 82

    “Did you find me using any such labels or any signs of intolerance in my discussion with you at any point?”

    No, not at all. I’m enjoying the exchange. If you read my posts carefully I qualified that with the “new atheists.” Not all atheists are Dawkins devotees, but on the other hand, many are, and many of the atheist forums on the internet seem to be of that ilk. So when I say “atheist,” please understand that I’m not making a charge against any one individual, but to a certain segment of the atheist movement that is very vocal, and has a lot of influence. I believe I have made that quite clear. But my overall argument against atheism would include all – that the atheist worldview is based on a faulty premise, that “since I as an atheist have no evidence of a god or gods in my experience, therefore, a god or gods probably (or for some ‘possibly’) do(es) not exist.”

  83. CY:

    “It would indeed be a weakness if one begins with the assumption that Christianity is not true. Of course if you begin there, then you’re not really considering Christianity’s truth claims, are you?”

    Well, obviously you agree that it is indeed a weakness from at least one possible perspective. And my perspective, not by “beginning with the assumption”, but after reaching the conclusion from the inspection of many, many arguments and truth claims, is that Christianity is not true.

    “a truth claim, which has as its premise something that can be falsified, as a weak point for that claim”

    So, following from the point made above, after concluding that Christianity is not true, my conclusion already entails that many of the biblical claims about the historical figure Jesus are false, since at least some of those claims are inherently related to what I rejected based on inspection of arguments; Thus, the premise is already falsified after inspection of other arguments; I’d call that a weakness.

  84. CY:

    I have no idea what “truthiness” is supposed to be?

  85. CY:
    “my overall argument against atheism would include all – that the atheist worldview is based on a faulty premise, that “since I as an atheist have no evidence of a god or gods in my experience, therefore, a god or gods probably (or for some ‘possibly’) do(es) not exist.”

    that brings me back to the point: why should this premise be any more faulty than “since I as a Christian have no evidence of Vishnu, therefore, Vishnu probably does not exist”?

  86. 86

    molch,

    “Ok, I thought you understood my point earlier, but it seems I was wrong. I am not challenging your world-view, I am challenging the standard you are applying to your judgement of whether someone has done enough research to adopt a certain world-view.”

    And your point was well understood, but I disagree. If you think adopting a certain worldview necessitates “enough research,” in order to judge, then it would seem to me that the only people in the world who could be worthy of holding any particular worldview would be an elite few – or perhaps none of us. By what and who’s standard is “enough?” I’m reminded of the post in which you charged me with being stringent with atheists. That’s funny. I wasn’t being stringent, I was asking for reason as opposed to mere skepticism firmly grounded in a priori assumptions.

  87. “If you think adopting a certain worldview necessitates “enough research”, it would seem to me that the only people in the world who could be worthy of holding any particular worldview would be an elite few – or perhaps none of us.”

    now you are confusing me – when I referred to “the standard you are applying to your judgement of whether someone has done enough research to adopt a certain world-view”, I was paraphrasing your position: weren’t you the one who required non-Christians to “do the research” of inspecting every single argument for Christianity before you allow them to reject it?

    In case you forgot, this is what you said: “But honestly, if anyone wants to be a true atheist and deny God, they really have to contend with all the arguments for His existence, and not simply the carefully constructed so as to avoid the positive, denialist arguments.”

    “I wasn’t being stringent, I was asking for reason as opposed to mere skepticism firmly grounded in a priori assumptions.”

    And I was asking for a reason why you think it’s ok on the other hand to reject Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. etc. etc. based on the assumption that they must be false under a priori Christianity.

    To clear up what your position seems to be, let me re-iterate my example:
    According to your standard, a Buddhist (who might very well be an atheist) is required to justify why he/she is not a Christian, but a Christian is not required to justify why he/she is not a Buddhist.

  88. 88

    molch,

    “that brings me back to the point: why should this premise be any more faulty than ‘since I as a Christian have no evidence of Vishnu, therefore, Vishnu probably does not exist?’”

    Because that’s not how a Christian would necessarily approach the issue. The Christian would more likely approach it from the evidence for God. It would go more like this: “Since I have evidence that the God of the scriptures exists, and that He transcends all else that exists, many of the truth claims based on Vishnu are probably untrue insofar as they are at odds with the God of scripture, who exists.”

    The Christian is not even required by this to state that Vishnu necessarily does not exist. In fact, the Christian would agree that Vishnu if understood as the supreme God does exist, but that some (maybe not all) of the truth claims attributed to Vishnu by Hinduism are probably untrue insofar as they contradict the truth claims of scripture. And of course this is given that we have some sort of basis for why we hold the Judeo-Christian scriptures as truth above the scriptures of other faiths. I believe we do, but that will have to be another discussion.

    So as KF has carefully illustrated, Christians base their affirmation of Christianity as truth against other truth claims based on comparative difficulties.

    So it’s not true that a Christian would say “since I have no experiential evidence for the existence of Vishnu, Vishnu probably doesn’t exist,” if Vishnu is understood as the supreme God. The Christian would state more like: “I believe I have experience with Vishnu, but I understand Him differently than what Hinduism teaches about him, and I believe I am warranted in such a difference….” and further laying out the case.

    So the Christian is not necessarily denying the existence of Vishnu, or Allah, or any other god or gods. The Christian is challenging the truth claims based on these gods. Also, the Christian would affirm that even if such a god or gods exist, either they are misrepresentations of the God of scripture, or they are other supernatural beings, which God created, and which humans had experience with, or they could be some other form of belief system based on ancient myths – true or not.

    Let’s get back to the issue here – the atheist has no point of reference on which to base a statement such that if they experience no evidence for God’s existence, such a God probably does not exist. The Christian does have a point of reference for the comparative difficulties between two opposing religious truth claims, while not needing to entirely dismiss the foundation for the opposing claim. And I think this is what KF means with regard to Islam.

    Islam has certain voluminous inconsistencies with scripture, while at the same time, holding the Judeo-Christian scriptures as authoritative (but corrupted). In fact, the beginnings of Islam are very similar to the beginnings of Mormonism, which also departs from scripture and holds extra-biblical texts above scripture, since the Christian scriptures are said to be “corrupted.” There’s no basis, in my view, for the charge that the Judeo-Christian scriptures are in fact corrupted as is claimed, in order for Islam (or Mormonism) to justify a certain theological departure from the truth claims of Christianity and Judaism.

    So in that respect, the Christian is quite warranted in pointing out that while Islam holds the Judeo-Christian scriptures as (somewhat) authoritative, it grossly departs from the essential truth claims, which make those very same scriptures what they are, while preferring an extra-biblical text, which contains equally gross departures from Christianity and Judaism.

    Now that’s how I view Islam as a religion. It has no bearing on how I view adherents to Islam, whom I have experienced as wonderful people. I have lived in Islamic countries to be able to say this with some degree of experience. In fact, it was Muslims, who first challenged me out of my atheism, so I owe them much in that respect, and I can’t dismiss Islam insofar as it is a belief system that does accept the existence of God as I do. The parts I challenge, are those voluminous parts, which first challenged the foundations of Christianity some 1,400 years ago, and which continue to this day.

    This is essentially what I mean by having a point of reference. The Christian is not making claims pertaining to what he or she believes does not exist, but of what does exist. Differing religions make differing truth claims. As such, we are able to compare and carefully weigh the differences against the reality we can plainly see or with the internal consistency of the claims, and so forth.

  89. 89

    molch,

    Before I respond to the rest of your posts:

    “Truthiness is a ‘truth’ that a person claims to know intuitively ‘from the gut’ without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.[1]”

    From Wikipedia.

    Sorry, it’s a rather new term, and it’s definition might have a certain truthiness of it’s own. ;)

    Suffice to say, that many faith claims are not necessarily based on evidence or logic – this may be true of some claims within the Christian worldview as well as outside – including atheism.

  90. 90

    molch,

    “To clear up what your position seems to be, let me re-iterate my example:
    According to your standard, a Buddhist (who might very well be an atheist) is required to justify why he/she is not a Christian, but a Christian is not required to justify why he/she is not a Buddhist.”

    No, not at all. First of all, not all Buddhists are atheists – some are. I’m distinguishing this here for the sake of my argument:

    I would approach the beliefs of a theistic Buddhist with the same comparative difficulties exercise I illustrated briefly in my next to last post.

    For the atheist though, as I pointed out, there is no point of reference for “I find no experiential evidence for a god or gods, therefore a god or gods probably (or for some ‘possibly’) do(es) not exist,” other than inexperience. That doesn’t leave me or them for that matter, much to go on, so that is why I suggest that the atheist needs to consider more the positive arguments for theism in order to have a firm point of reference apart from his/her inexperience with evidence. And it is this lack of a frame of reference, why I believe the new atheists at least resort to what I have termed the denialist arguments against theism, which theism itself adresses quite sufficiently in my view.

    Again, the bottom line to all of this is:

    If there is no god, then why do we as humans value anything?

    If there is no god, then why is the universe not completely chaotic? In other words, where does order derive?

    If there is no god, how does one account for the absurdity of infinite regresses of causes?

    Can you answer these questions while still maintaining a coherent position of atheism? If you can answer them, fine. If you can’t answer them, I see no problem except in your firmly held belief that there is (possibly or probably) no God. This is partly why I challenge atheists towards a(n) (re-)examination of the evidence.

    Of course, I’m sure that the other posters and onlookers here who are theists, could come up with more questions for you in that regard. My list is rather minimal.

  91. CY and molch, you may find this recent article by Michael Egnor interesting:

    What I Really Believe – Michael Egnor – October 2010
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....39671.html

  92. 92

    molch,

    “So, following from the point made above, after concluding that Christianity is not true, my conclusion already entails that many of the biblical claims about the historical figure Jesus are false, since at least some of those claims are inherently related to what I rejected based on inspection of arguments; Thus, the premise is already falsified after inspection of other arguments; I’d call that a weakness.”

    And I would call it a strength in that you have a basis (though faulty in my view) for rejecting Christianity from it’s claims of historical truth. What other religions can claim to fall based on the veracity of an alleged historical event – namely, the resurrection?

    In other words, is Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus, or on the actions and events of Jesus’ life? The Christian scriptures seem to suggest that the teachings of Jesus are in fact closely tied to the events and actions of his life.

    Is Mormonism based on the actions and events of Joseph Smith’s life, or on the teachings found in the Book of Mormon and other extra-biblical texts?

    Is Islam based on the actions and events of Mohammed’s life, or on the teachings found in the Quran?

    I find it interesting that you conclude that Christianity is not true prior to concluding that the specific historical events concerning Jesus are not true (that’s if I’m reading you correctly above). I personally think you have it backwards. If the historical events concerning Jesus are true, then Christianity itself is true. In other words, If Jesus lived, claimed based on the Jewish scriptures to be the Messiah, fulfilled the relevant prophecies, preached in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, was arrested, crucified and rose from the dead according to those historical accounts as well as according to the prior prophecies concerning the Messiah that he would complete such actions as evidence of the foreknowledge of God, then Christianity is most likely true absent the strain of materialist metaphysical assumptions.

    The issue then returns to the same (or similar) issue with your denial of the existence of God. You have the problem of trying to prove a negative – as in an alleged historical event, and against the testimony from the historical period in question that such an event did in fact occur, as well as in the absence of historical contemporary testimony to the contrary. While the event itself and it’s testimony is not the only basis for why Christians believe it, you don’t appear to have (again) a point of reference from which to deny the claims other than (again) that you have experienced no evidence for such an event, since in order to actually experience the historical evidence you would have to have been there at the time. The issue then would have to of necessity disregard the likelihood of experiencing the physical evidence and adhere to accepted criteria of and applications for historical accuracy based on the experiences and record of others. For that, I think the historical record for Christianity fits well within the accepted criteria for historical accuracy more than any other ancient historical event, with testimony from multiple sources both contemporary (as far as is possible in ancient times) with Jesus’ life and within a couple of hundred years following the events – which is almost unheard of for most significant ancient historical events; and if it were not due to (again) an a priori materialistic metaphysical assumption regarding the veracity of “religious” texts, one be well within warrant to accept that historical testimony according to commonly accepted criteria. That seems to me to be where a glaring problem lies for your view.

    And since this will probably be my last post on the matter, I’d like to thank you for your thoughts. I really value the time we’ve spent considering each others’ positions, and I respect you for raising the issues you did, while remaining in disagrement.

  93. 93

    BA,

    Thanks for the link. Dr. Egnor wrote at the end of his essay:

    “P.Z. Myers and others also answered the eight questions, and I’ll review and critique them when I can.”

    Do you know if the answers are available? If so, do you have another link. I think this is completely relevant to the questions I asked molch, and I’m curious what they answered.

  94. CY,

    so the core of your argument basically boils down to this:

    “the atheist has no point of reference on which to base a statement such that if they experience no evidence for God’s existence, such a God probably does not exist. The Christian does have a point of reference for the comparative difficulties between two opposing religious truth claims, while not needing to entirely dismiss the foundation for the opposing claim.”

    That is a very curious belief on your part, which demonstrates to me that you don’t have much experience with the actual world-view, or rather enormous variety of world-views, that atheism can entail. You simply assume that the only truth claims an atheist can make are negative (i.e. such-and-such does NOT exist). Nothing could be further from the truth. I have a very rich repertoire of reference points in the form of beliefs/concluded truths about the world to compare opposing truth claims and evaluate their relative validity against. The existence of a deity is incredibly far from being the only relevant point of reference in any belief system, and if you know anything about Eastern religions, then you know that from their perspective, it is even farther from being the most important one.

    “And I would call it a strength in that you have a basis (though faulty in my view) for rejecting Christianity from it’s claims of historical truth.”

    ???

    In 81 you said: “It would indeed be a weakness if one begins with the assumption that Christianity is not true.”

    No matter – we can agree to disagree!

    “The Christian is not making claims pertaining to what he or she believes does not exist, but of what does exist. Differing religions make differing truth claims. As such, we are able to compare and carefully weigh the differences against the reality we can plainly see or with the internal consistency of the claims, and so forth.”
    and: “Since I have evidence that the God of the scriptures exists, and that He transcends all else that exists, many of the truth claims based on Vishnu are probably untrue insofar as they are at odds with the God of scripture, who exists.”

    So, like I expected, you base your acceptance or rejection of the truth claims of other world-views on the comparison and compatibility with your own. Well, like I said above, my truth claims likewise are based on what I have concluded does exist, is unlikely to exist, is true, is unlikely to be true, and the comparison and compatibility of other truth claims.

    “I find it interesting that you conclude that Christianity is not true prior to concluding that the specific historical events concerning Jesus are not true”

    Although it probably seemed like it from my earlier post, one conclusion did not really precede the other, they go hand in hand and affirm each other.

    “And since this will probably be my last post on the matter, I’d like to thank you for your thoughts. I really value the time we’ve spent considering each others’ positions, and I respect you for raising the issues you did, while remaining in disagrement.”

    thanks – respect reciprocated!

  95. CY:

    “Can you answer these questions while still maintaining a coherent position of atheism?”

    This issue is kind-of besides the point of our main discussion, but my answer is obviously yes. Like I keep pointing out, although I don’t find your requirement for the defensibility of my world-view justified, I do indeed fullfill it: I actually HAVE spent quite a bit of time with the arguments for the Christian god, and answered them to my satisfaction.

  96. CY, here is Michael Egnor’s response to P.Z. Meyers;

    Theologians nice to Myers…naaasty little Theologians…
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....39731.html

  97. correction,, Myers

  98. Onlookers (and CY, BA and Molch, also SB [cf 77!]):

    CY, during the onward exchange, has captured the heart of the problem Molch and many other Neo-Atheists have (I make an adjustment or two, pardon CY):

    [CY, 88:] the atheist has no point of reference on which to base a statement such that if they experience [ACKNOWLEDGE] no evidence for God’s existence, such a God probably does not exist. The Christian does have a point of reference for the comparative difficulties between two opposing religious truth claims, while not needing to entirely dismiss the foundation for the opposing claim. And I think this is what KF means with regard to Islam [CORRECT!] . . ..

    The Christian is not making [universal negative] claims pertaining to what he or she believes does not exist, but of what does exist [per experience of God and his transforming power as experienced through the gospel by millions across thousands of years, with clearly authentic and authoritative records and eyewitness testimony recorded within the lifetime of those witnesses tot he key events in Jerusalem at the turn of the 30s of our common era] . Differing religions [indeed] make differing truth claims. As such, we are able to compare and carefully weigh the differences against the reality we can plainly see or with the internal consistency of the claims, and so forth. [And, for good reason, we find that the Judaeo-Chrisian worldview and faith stands up very well to that process of comparative difficulties.]

    As I skim back above, my mind is brought back to a much overlooked remark by John Locke in the introduction [section 5] to his famous essay on Human Understanding:

    ________________

    >> Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke's allusions and citations.] >>
    _________________

    As I reflect on the thread above — which per its original post, is on the question of warrant for worldviews and the issue of falsifiability as a criterion of such warrant, then the assignment of a set of collected readings relvant to the credibility of Judaeo-Christian theism — it is sadly but increasingly clear that at no time has Molch seriously engaged the issues of warrant, limitations of warrant, the fallacious nature of either absolute or selective hyperskepticism, much less the process of institutional and individual comparative difficulties that is needed if one is to address worldview choice seriously. Thus, a fair comment: his epistemological foundations are thus found wanting when he draws his “conclusions.” (this is unfortunately typical of the Neo-Atheists, as can be easily seen in their various best selling books and all too often utterly strident, outright rude, egotistical and disrespectfully slanderous and dismissive web sites. For, the trifects fallacy of distraction, distortion, denigration or demonisation leading on to dismissal, has become standard, even habitual procedure for such advocates. Vox Day’s expose, as already linked [this gives the e-book downloads page], is a useful first rebuttal.)

    I also must spotlight and reject the sort of epistemological egotism that so often joins itself to selective hyperskepticism and thinks the world of knowledge pivots around what one is willing or unwilling to accept as so.

    The path of epistemological humility, instead, starts from acknowledging that one is finite, fallible, morally fallen and too often ill willed and/or blinded by all sorts of influences. In that context, one examines serious alternatives on an objective basis, and will check authenticity then hear out credible authorities. And, as Simon Greenleaf so wisely counselled long ago now, one will hold to a conclusion based on warrant, to the relevant degree applicable to the matter at stake:

    a: In mathematics, we accept demonstrations tracing to first principles (though for most of us, tha tmeans we accept the credible testimony of teachers).

    b: In the natural sciences, we mark the distinction between the operational world we live in and can test by direct observation, and attempted reconstructions of the remote and unobserved past of origins.

    c: We also accept that scientific warrant is provisional, and that across time, scientific theories and even fact claims rise and fall.

    d: In history and law, we recognise the principles of testing testimony and once a relevant witness or record is authenticated, we recognise that the burden of proof properly shifts to the objector. [Cf discussion here on this, in the context of the authenticity and credibility of the NT record -- notice how Molch has yet to seriously address any specifics, even as he is ever so eager to dismiss.]

    e: In common sense and managerial decision-making situations, we recognise and apply more or less looser forms of such criteria, on the principle of prudent cost-benefit analysis, i.e. we weigh the situation, the resources to hand and the cost of the different kinds of mistakes, then take the relevant calculated risk on degree of warrant needed to act in the face of fleeting opportunities and challenges.

    f: We also understand that our senses, reasoning capacity and intuitions, once they are not misled by warped perspectives, and are operating correctly in their designed, environments, are generally trustworthy. (To reject this principle leads immediately to an absurdly infinite regress of skepticisms.)

    [ . . . ]

  99. With these in hand, I now wish to respond on selective points in Molch’s comment at no 75 [and one or two from later on], noting but setting to one side the immediate unwarranted resort to personalities.

    I note that — contrary to his ad hominem-laced allegations — I have not put words into Molch’s mouth, but as a perusal of the thread above will document, I have responded to the general tenor and many specific claims he has made.

    (Actually, M is trying a turnabout, as I have exposed the tendency of Neo-Atheists and fellow travellers to distort and denigrate instead of responding squarely on the merits.)

    Now, on cited points:

    1] M, 75: I was talking about here were the truth claims of the multitude of alternative worldviews we were discussing (i.e. there is no Tao, there is no Karma, there is no Boddhisattva, there is no [insert whatever concept you want]).

    In short, M is underscoring the old fashioned Atheistical denial of the reality of God, using the classic, “Christians deny the reality of gods a though y, well we add to that, god z.” Of course, this ducks the precise point of the positive warrant for the Christian faith anchored on 2,000 years of living, life-transforming encounter and relationship with God in the face of the crucified, risen Christ, starting with the 500 eyewitnesses at the core of the church’s mission, in addition to the force of the result of serious comparative difficulties analysis: Judaeo Christian theism, on a grand inference to best explanation exercise, holds up excellently, thank you.

    And, in particular [the context for what has developed starts with CY's remarks on my links at 39, in 44 - 45, and M's "different kind of atheist" remarks at 53], when we look at the arguments to God from an inference to best explanation on comparative difficulties perspective, to reject ALL of these arguments ends up forcing some pretty extreme and quite hard to defend worldview commitments, and I linked a summary discussion on that here (from a course I presented some years back), which M of course has never specifically addressed. That is why, in 68, I said: there are several cumulatively strong lines of evidence pointing to a specific exception to the universal negative claim: “there is no God.”

    2] M, 53: I might be the kind of atheist you have not met before. And I think I am in good company . . . . a lot of philosophers HAVE contended with those positive arguments for the existence of deities. I am surprised that you seem utterly unaware of the rich philosophical literature criticizing them . . . . I might be different from all the other atheists that you know, but I have personally spent quite some time contending with these arguments myself. So far, I haven’t encountered any that convinced me after serious philosophical, logical and scientific investigation.

    Thus, M contends that he is an atheist, has investigated on phil, logic and science, the classic theistic arguments and has rejected all of them. So, he immediately falls under the category I highlighted in 1 just above: to reject the full set of classic theistic arguments, one has to commit to denials of premises that put one on a pretty sticky wicket. Just picking a point or two from the above linked 101 survey, is M able and willing to cogently defend claims of the following ilk:

    [cosmological argument:] the [overall physical] universe’s existence is a brute – inexplicable – fact

    Ontological: from premises # 4 & 5 [of this argument, cf. the link], God’s existence is only possible if it is necessary [i.e. part of the meaning of God in theism is that He is a necessary being, logically to explain the contingent world, and ontologically as the ground of all being] – inviting the objection that God’s existence is impossible, but this is in turn a very strong claim

    [Design/teleological:] even very improbable complex systems, given enough time will happen by chance. [That is, have evolutionary materialistic atheists succeeded as yet in empirically showing that functionally specific complex organisation and associated information can and do arise by undirected cofces of mechanical necessity and chance? If not, why then -- apart from Lewontinian a priori commitment to materialism -- do they dismiss the abundant observation that such FSCI routinely comes about by design, and that the resources of he observed cosmos are utterly insufficient to create such systems once the required or implied information storage capacity to sustain function is in excess of say 500 - 1,000 bits?]

    Moral: often people simply assert that there are no binding obligations, or claim that there is no set of universally accepted moral principles. Others seek to suggest ways in which moral obligations can exist in a non-theistic world; or else simply say that these obligations are yet another brute – i.e. inexplicable — fact.

    Religious Experience: Some object that religious experiences are simply subjective perceptions: i.e. that they are not veridical. [In blunter terms, all people, in all times and places, who claim to have met and have a relationship with God are to that extent, delusional.]

    And, that leaves off the fundamental problem of today’s “science”-glorifying atheism: the question-begging and incoherence of evolutionary materialism, as I recently posted on at UD here. In short, the cumulative implicit commitments of atheism are extreme and hard to defend. That is why ever so many atheists spend their time on the attack, instead of sitting down to a serious comparative difficulties exercise.

    [ . . . ]

  100. 3] Molch, 75: Belief (warranted credibly true or not) is fundamentally different from knowledge.

    As I pointed out in my quickie response at 79, this reveals that M is evidently ignorant of the classic, basic definition of knowledge in epistemology, and/or the reasons behind it. Further, simply on the strength of this assertion by M, we can seriously question the claimed depth of his logical and philosophical investigation of the arguments to God.

    In short, this inadvertent admission of ignorance on M’s part is decisive.

    For, in his haste to reject any connexion between faith — acceptance and trust sufficiently held to act on [think: why do I sit on a chair?] — and knowledge, he has — by his own confession — failed to understand the significance of warrant, credibility and truth in moving from belief as such to knowledge.

    (Observe, onlookers, how studiously M has avoided addressing this correction. I link my introductory level discussion of the point here in the relevant course notes.)

    This unfortunate error is sadly typical of Neo-Atheist forays into philosophical waters.

    4] M, 75: You want some “painfully specific details” why calling Christianity “troubled” might be “well warranted”?

    Neo-Atheists too often do not understand that the history of Christendom — that of a civilisation partially (and profoundly) influenced by Christian teaching and institutions in various stages of fidelity to or apostasy from the foundational teaching and example, and the latter usually followed by reformation by appeal to foundational sources and principles — is utterly distinct from the historic foundations of and example set for us by the founder of the Christian Faith. As the previously linked work by Nehls and Eric documents in painful detail, it is the latter that is precisely what is the root problem with the foundation of Islam.

    I further find that it is a commonplace for such Neo-Atheists to try to dismiss and/or denigrate well-warranted observations on major (indeed, positively transformative) positive contributions of the Christian faith and of Christendom to the progress of human history. the jaundiced tone and shrillness of a Dawkins or a Coyne et al are utterly telling.

    5] M, 75: how about some highly compressed summary remark that I find Christianity an ethically highly questionable, internally inconsistent cult for a barbaric god, and Alvin Plantinga outdated and far from the mark in addressing the problem of evil.

    This little bit of ill-founded turnabout rhetoric simply shows the superficiality of M’s objection.

    (Onlookers, in addressing the problem of the one and the many relative to pantheistic views, I linked extensive discussions, which warrant my claims. Plantinga’s defense — as opposed to theodicy — on he deductive form of he problem of evil is decisive, and decisive precisely because of the stringency of the asserted contradiction pushed by skeptics. In addressing the inductive form of the problem, we are now in the province of comparative difficulties, and it can be seen that Judaeo-Christian theism more than holds its own. Observe again, how M does not actually engage substantial reasoning, starting with the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialistic atheism.)

    6] M, 75: I am sorry that it irks you that I don’t feel like debating the roots and reasonings behind my world-view with you. If I want to do that, I go to much more intellectually and philosophically challenging places than here.

    We can take the measure of this confident declaration by observing he basic blunder remarked on at 3 above.

    If M does not seem to coherently understand what knowledge at its root is and how it is connected to belief, he is simply not equipped to seriously discuss merits of worldviews on comparative difficulties.

    7] M, 75: Thanks for summarizing your pervasive debating technique so beautifully. That’s exactly why I find discussions with you neither productive, nor educational, nor enjoyable.Have fun deriding the next customer!

    M, sadly, concludes with a classic example of a turnabout, and false, accusation; then slams the door on the way out.

    Onlookers, this example is sadly typical of Neo-Atheist rhetoric.

    __________________

    Let us understand, and let us correct. Also, if you are of that inclination, let us pray.

    GEM of TKI

  101. PS: Since the issue of what knowledge is is pivotal, I link and excerpt [with a few notes in parentheses] from a NWE article as a useful 101 based on their usual cleanup of the Wikipedia article:

    ___________________

    >> Knowledge is evaluated and organized information with implications of being true, justified, and believed. Knowledge is often distinguished from opinion. Opinion implies one’s perspective without a claim for general or universal validity. The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject, potentially with the ability to use it for a specific purpose . . . .

    Other definitions

    * Knowledge is “information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and reflection. It is a high-value form of information [notice the implication of warranted credibility] that is ready to apply to decisions and actions.” T. Davenport et al., 1998.

    * “Explicit or codified knowledge refers to knowledge that is transmittable in formal, systematic language. On the other hand, tacit knowledge has a personal quality, which makes it hard to formalize and communicate.” [this is not strictly a definition, indeed it is circular] I. Nonaka, 1994.

    * “Knowledge is the human expertise stored in a person’s mind, gained through experience and interaction with the person’s environment.” [notice the unaddressed but implied issue of warrant] Sunasee and Sewery, 2002.

    * “Knowledge is a physical, mental, or electronic record of relationships believed to exist between real or imaginary entities, forces, and phenomenas.” [focuses on storage, but what determines what is worthwhile of being stored as knowledge?] Worthington, 2005.

    * Knowledge is “the insights, understandings, and practical know-how that we all possess – it is a fundamental resource that allows us to function intelligently.” [again, the issue of warrant lurks] Wiig, 1996.

    * “Knowledge is information evaluated and organized by the human mind so that it can be used purposefully (e.g., conclusions or explanations).” [again, warrant is the key issue] Rousa, 2002.
    >>
    ___________________

    We may observe the central significance of the distinction to be made between opinion and knowledge: warrant sufficient to credibly conclude truth and act on that believed, credible truth.

    Christians, for 2,000 years, and in millions of instances, claim to have personal, miraculously life-transforming knowledge of he Living God, the God of Abraham who raised up our Lord Jesus from death in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Hebraic prophets. Knowledge that is also confirmed by reference to the authentic, accurate record handed down to us at great personal cost by that first generation of eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, and their faithful successors.

    Onlookers, ask yourself, what level of warrant do athestical and other skeptical objectors have for dismissing all such testimony and record as erroneous, delusional or deceptive?

    Similarly, in our day, atheism claims to be rooted in science, in particular, evolutionary materialistic accounts of origins. In light of issues raised here and here, and elsewhere [start with VJT's 200], what degree of actual warrant — Lewontinian a priori question-begging does not count — what degree of actual warrant do such advocates have for their views, relative to the warrant for say Judaeo-Christian theism?

    GEM of TKI

  102. very well put kf,

    you may enjoy this new song:

    Andrew Peterson – Dancing in the Minefields (Official Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtTa81LyuQM

    notes:

    Miracle In A Minefield – The Rebirth Of Israel & 1967 Six Day War – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4159336/

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241/

  103. –molch: “Like I keep pointing out, although I don’t find your requirement for the defensibility of my world-view justified, I do indeed fullfill it: I actually HAVE spent quite a bit of time with the arguments for the Christian god, and answered them to my satisfaction.”

    Can you be more specific? Which arguments for the Christian God have you considered and how did you answer them to your satisfaction?

  104. KF continues to entertain!

    “Molch, 75: Belief (warranted credibly true or not) is fundamentally different from knowledge.”
    KF: “As I pointed out in my quickie response at 79, this reveals that M is evidently ignorant of the classic, basic definition of knowledge in epistemology, and/or the reasons behind it.”

    Let’ s see about that, shall we? Here is what wikipedia says about belief and knowledge:
    “The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy. Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge and belief. The primary problem in epistemology is to understand exactly what is needed in order for us to have true knowledge. In a notion derived from Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus, philosophy has traditionally defined knowledge as “justified true belief”. The relationship between belief and knowledge is that a belief is knowledge if the belief is true, and if the believer has a justification (reasonable and necessarily plausible assertions/evidence/guidance) for believing it is true. A false belief is not considered to be knowledge, even if it is sincere. A sincere believer in the flat earth theory does not know that the Earth is flat. Similarly, a truth that nobody believes is not knowledge, because in order to be knowledge, there must be some person who knows it. Later epistemologists, for instance Gettier (1963)[2] and Goldman (1967),[3] have questioned the “justified true belief” definition.”

    So, this reveals that KF is eminently ignorant about the debate around the relationship of knowledge and belief in epistemology, and the inherent problem that what is a “reasonable and necessarily plausible assertion/evidence/guidance” to one person, is not at all to another person. A sincere believer in flat earth theory will tell you that his belief is justified and true, and he’ll give you all sorts of evidence and assertions that he finds perfectly plausible and reasonable. So, as the epistemologists that KF follows would want to have it, that person “knows” that the earth is flat. But then, those same epistemologists would also say that that belief, being false, is not knowledge; see the problem? I am with the epistemologists that don’t find that concept useful, because it renders the use of the word “knowledge” basically meaningless and completely subjective; I reserve the word “knowledge” by and large for things that I have actually witnessed; thus, in the context of world-views, I use the concepts of belief and conclusion instead;
    But I am sure KF will continue raging on and on about why he “knows” that I am not entitled to this distinction between knowledge and belief in defining my world-view (and why epistemologists that agree with me are idiots). Rage on – I know you have an avid audience. But wait – there’s more: in the following lines KF “proves” that he “knows” that I am a moron. And apparently male; didn’t know that one myself; ah, the things I learn from KF! But read for yourself:

    “Further, simply on the strength of this assertion by M, we can seriously question the claimed depth of his logical and philosophical investigation of the arguments to God”
    And: “it is sadly but increasingly clear that at no time has Molch seriously engaged the issues of warrant, limitations of warrant, the fallacious nature of either absolute or selective hyperskepticism, much less the process of institutional and individual comparative difficulties that is needed if one is to address worldview choice seriously. Thus, a fair comment: his epistemological foundations are thus found wanting when he draws his “conclusions.”
    And: “If M does not seem to coherently understand what knowledge at its root is and how it is connected to belief, he is simply not equipped to seriously discuss merits of worldviews on comparative difficulties.”

    I know it makes you feel better to question my mental capabilities and philosophical investigations (cause non-Christians must obviously be either ignorant or stupid to be non-Christians, duh!) – too bad you don’t know the first thing about either of them. Ahh, well, don’t let that stand in your way! Question away!!!

    Molch: “I was talking about here were the truth claims of the multitude of alternative worldviews we were discussing (i.e. there is no Tao, there is no Karma, there is no Boddhisattva, there is no [insert whatever concept you want]).”

    KF: “In short, M is underscoring the old fashioned Atheistical denial of the reality of God, using the classic, “Christians deny the reality of gods a though y, well we add to that, god z.”

    No. wrong again. I was pointing out that (according to MY use of the word knowledge) a non-adherent of world-view X cannot claim to KNOW that Y (a concept in faith X) does not exist, regardless of what world-view X might be.

    “Of course, this ducks the precise point of the positive warrant for the Christian faith anchored on 2,000 years of living, life-transforming encounter and relationship with God in the face of the crucified, risen Christ, starting with the 500 eyewitnesses at the core of the church’s mission, in addition to the force of the result of serious comparative difficulties analysis: Judaeo Christian theism, on a grand inference to best explanation exercise, holds up excellently, thank you.”

    Seems like you didn’t actually pay much attention to my discussion with CY. Might help to read 62 & 80 again.

    “Let us understand”

    Well, you failed at that so far.

    “let us correct”

    That would require understanding, first

    “let us pray”

    Ok, that’s cute!
    Thanks KF!

  105. StephenB:

    “Which arguments for the Christian God have you considered and how did you answer them to your satisfaction?”

    I extend the same invitation to you as I did earlier to CY: If you are actually interested in my views on these issues I would move the conversation to private e-mail, because it has the scope to fill books. Let me know. Do you know if there is a way to exchange e-mail adresses without making them public on the blog?

  106. Onlookers:

    Unfortunately, the onward comment by Molch makes it further clear that he has not taken the time to read carefully, either above or in the already repeatedly linked.

    He seems dead set against the link between acceptance as true sufficient to act on a claim, i.e. belief, and knowledge.

    He seems to be particularly resistant to the impact of the particular modifiers “warranted” [has he asked himself why I do not use "justified," post Gettier?] and “credibly true,” and how they specify a subset of belief that rises above opinion to knowledge

    The NWE article on knowledge has a helpful Venn diagram, and leads with a most useful summary definition as already cited:

    Knowledge is evaluated and organized information with implications of being true, justified, and believed. Knowledge is often distinguished from opinion. Opinion implies one’s perspective without a claim for general or universal validity. The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject, potentially with the ability to use it for a specific purpose . . .

    [Sadly, the Wikipedia article, in quoting the OED on knowledge, and hastening to say that there is a philosophical debate on knowledge -- in fact there is a philosophical debate on everything in phil, starting with the definition of phil itself -- manages to suppress the definition already cited from OED: "Philos.: true, justified belief."]

    So, we can see how knowledge is distinct from belief in general by being a particular subset thereof, one that is warranted and credibly true.

    In short you cannot know what you do not accept as so, i.e. believe (though one who shuts his eyes to what he ought to know is not without fault). That is why Rom 1:18 – 20 for instance, classically speaks in terms of the moral failure of what one knows or what one should know but suppresses.

    But also, some beliefs may be false, or may be true but held without good warrant.

    Such beliefs are not knowledge.

    To be knowledge, the matter must be accepted, warranted and credibly true.

    Thus, as already pointed out — and stoutly resisted to the point of reductio: knowledge is best summed up as warranted, credibly true belief.

    In the looser sense commonly used of knowledge in day to day affairs, or even science, that credibility may be provisional.

    In the stricter sense, it means demonstrative certainty.

    (And in that distinction lieth much of the debate and disagreement that Wikipedia and New World encyclopedia summarise. It is precisely because I am aware of that debate — cf, my excerpt from Locke in 98 above on that very point — that I have used that modifier, “credibly.”)

    Even more unfortunately, if M so struggles over a basic point, knowledge, that tells us a lot about the way in which he has addressed the more complex issues on the table about worldview choice.

    And, in turn this tells us much, and none of it happy, about his response tot he positive evidence and worldview options on comparative difficulties challenges implicit in accepting or rejecting the evidence regarding Christian foundations and broader theism. (Cf. introductory remarks on that related topic, here.)

    GEM of TKI

  107. 107

    KF,

    As always, I appreciate your thorough handling of the issues here. Great posts. Also, thanks for the link to Vox Day’s expose on the new atheists. I’ve started reading it.

    molch,

    In the interest of maybe settling some issues, rather than in taking this thread into tangential oblivion, it might be beneficial if you simply give us your answers (in brief) to the three questions I asked. Then maybe we can address them here rather than via email where onlookers and participants don’t have access. After all, you made the claim that you can answer the questions (which I don’t doubt you can), so it is only fitting that you demonstrate this here so we can come to some conclusions – although perhaps limited here.

  108. F/N: First, CY, thanks for the kind words. Same, BA.

    Now, the note.

    The following could well be Plato’s clearest definition of how we should understand knowledge, as translated for us by Timothy Chappell, from Symposium 202a5 – 9:

    ___________________

    >> Don’t you know that to have correct beliefs while lacking the ability to give an account [ ~ reasoned ground], is not to have knowledge? For how would anything be knowledge without an account? Yet correct belief is not ignorance either. For how could what hits on reality be ignorance? So presumably true belief is like this: it is in between ignorance and knowledge. >>
    ___________________

    Family resemblance to “Justified, true belief” should be pretty clear.

    We start with belief. Then, we narrow down to true belief, but that is not yet knowledge until we have a rational account for it.

    Blend in my concerns on the looser but very practical sense of knowledge, and the distinction from the tighter, certain sense, and my further concerns on the gap between subjective justification and objective warrant, as well as the gap between what we know and whatwe should know, and you get to where I am. And, why I am there.

    Q: Why take so much bother to pin this issue down?

    A: if we do not have a clear, reasonable and credible understanding of what knowledge is, and its limitations, then we will conflate knowledge with opinion or even ideology and indoctrination. We will be prone to selective hyperskepticism, and we will be hindered from a competent comparative difficulties analysis when we turn to address worldview choice.

    GEM of TKI

  109. PS: BA, interesting music and videos. Dancing in a minefield indeed.

  110. Cheez, I hate it when people disappoint even my most modest expectations:

    Here was my forecast: “But I am sure KF will continue raging on and on about why he “knows” that I am not entitled to this distinction between knowledge and belief in defining my world-view”

    And here goes KF:
    “He seems dead set against the link between acceptance as true sufficient to act on a claim, i.e. belief, and knowledge.”
    … followed by a re-iteration of the same points he already stated countless times before. Oh, he adds that he replaced the word “justified” with the word “warranted”. Awesome. Except that every dictionary I look at tells me that “warranted” is a synonym with “justified”. I am sure that he will come up with some minute subtleties in the use of the word warrant (which I, fallible and imperfect and not-a-native-english-speaker that I am, will have missed), and somehow construe that into not-having-to-address-my-actual-point-at-all.

    But I digress. Where I thought he was going to address my justification for the distinction between knowledge and belief and the way I use them (that in the realm of philosophy and world-views, a belief that seems credible, true and justified/warranted to one person does not seem so to another), and then find something wrong with that observation of mine, he doesn’t even get that far. He simply ignores my point and goes back to repeating the same definitions in the umpteenth version. Unfortunately for him, a gazillion versions of the same definition do not make my criticism of that definition go away.
    But, of course, that circle-running gives him an opportunity to repeat his main point: that I must be stupid and/or ignorant:

    “Even more unfortunately, if M so struggles over a basic point, knowledge”

    Thanks for not missing an opportunity to point that out, so that we don’t forget how intellectually deficient we are, we stupid, ignorant non-Christians!!!

    “that tells us a lot about the way in which he has addressed the more complex issues on the table about worldview choice.”
    And: “And, in turn this tells us much, and none of it happy, about his response tot he positive evidence and worldview options on comparative difficulties challenges implicit in accepting or rejecting the evidence regarding Christian foundations and broader theism.”

    Ah, no. It still tells you exactly nothing about that. But you confirm this assessment of mine from above: I know it makes you feel better to question my mental capabilities and philosophical investigations – too bad you don’t know the first thing about either of them.

    “none of it happy”

    Sorry I make you sad. Since you seem to be running out of new points to bring to the table anyway, I promise to go away soon and not make you sad no more.

    Just one more thing before I stop making you sad:

    “I note that — contrary to his ad hominem-laced allegations — I have not put words into Molch’s mouth”

    Of course, that’s a lie, KF. You said: ”So, Molch, your assertion just above of an “obvious” entailment of a symmetrical challenge to theism fails”.
    Do I need to spell it out? You SAID, that I ASSERTED an obvious entailment of a symmetrical challenge to theism. I didn’t assert anything like that. I clarified for you what I actually SAID. You took the opportunity of my clarification to put words into my mouth AGAIN: “M is underscoring the old fashioned Atheistical denial of the reality of God, using the classic, “Christians deny the reality of gods a though y, well we add to that, god z.”” I didn’t underscore the ”old-fashioned denial” one iota. I never even mentioned it.

    Double-comprehension-fail, that you use to lie about what I am saying. Good job, KF.

  111. CY:

    “it might be beneficial if you simply give us your answers (in brief) to the three questions I asked.”

    My answers are not brief. They are the result of serious, in-depth investigation into many interrelated issues.

    “it is only fitting that you demonstrate this here so we can come to some conclusions – although perhaps limited here.”

    See, that’s the problem: any insight I could possibly give into my world-view in this forum is necessarily extreme piece-meal and won’t really result in any meaningful conclusions. That’s exactly why I don’t discuss my, or your, or anybody’s worldview per se here.
    Hence, I’ll repeat my invitation to anyone to take these questions to a personal e-mail level, if they are truly interested.

  112. CY, since it seems like you are not actually done commenting, I would appreciate a response to 94, so as to maybe close the (still open) point I was discussing with you in the first place?

  113. 113

    mulch,

    “See, that’s the problem: any insight I could possibly give into my world-view in this forum is necessarily extreme piece-meal and won’t really result in any meaningful conclusions. That’s exactly why I don’t discuss my, or your, or anybody’s worldview per se here.”

    One wonders why you’re here then. You’ve challenged others’ world-views but apparently don’t have the integrity to back up your claims of having painstakingly developed one yourself. It’s easy to say that you disagree with us, but I think most of us on here would like to know what specifically you have “concluded,” which makes your world-view more congruous with the evidence.

    If I’m going to go into a forum where my views will most likely be opposed and challenged, I should expect to back up my views with coherent arguments and references. So far you’ve done neither here, and that’s why I offered the opportunity to come clean by answering three basic questions. Instead, it seems that you’re more content to engage in a tangential game of semantics regarding knowledge and belief with KF.

    I’m not asking you to give a defense of your rejection of Christianity, but simply to account for how the universe could exist as it does without a necessary first cause. Answering those related questions in my view would not necessitate a lengthy post. Surely you can give us a brief synopsis of your argument so we can see that you have at least considered the questions at hand, as you’ve stated you have. This will help with the integrity by which you yourself hold firmly to a particular world-view, while it may not help with your charge that I and others have insufficient grounds for our own. Until you do, I can’t help but surmise that the contributors as well as the onlookers – many of whom are sure to share your views, will find your posts here as a mere distraction from the points raised in the OP and the subsequent discussion.

  114. —molch: “I extend the same invitation to you as I did earlier to CY: If you are actually interested in my views on these issues I would move the conversation to private e-mail, because it has the scope to fill books. Let me know. Do you know if there is a way to exchange e-mail adresses without making them public on the blog?”

    The rational arguments for a Christian God can be enumerated in a few paragraphs, and they are not unrelated to the pre-dominant topic being discussed. Why not summarize your objections to the arguments for a Christian God and I will follow with a summary of the answers to those objections?

  115. 115

    molch,

    “CY, since it seems like you are not actually done commenting, I would appreciate a response to 94, so as to maybe close the (still open) point I was discussing with you in the first place?”

    Well, actually I was done commenting for the day, but I revisited this thread today and found that there were still issues unsettled.

    I was going to respond to your last post with “fair enough,” and procede with answering your points in 94, but as I revisited the post it became quite clear that your points are founded on your claim that you have considered the arguments for theism and have determined or rather “concluded” that they are found wanting.

    “I have a very rich repertoire of reference points in the form of beliefs/concluded truths about the world to compare opposing truth claims and evaluate their relative validity against. The existence of a deity is incredibly far from being the only relevant point of reference in any belief system, and if you know anything about Eastern religions, then you know that from their perspective, it is even farther from being the most important one.”

    Also, this is your answer to my charge:

    “I see no problem except in your firmly held belief that there is (possibly or probably) no God. This is partly why I challenge atheists towards a(n) (re-)examination of the evidence.”

    I couldn’t help but notice in your response, your attempt to steer the issue away from belief in God as though it’s not a crucial issue – which was the premise of all our other exchanges. So I have to stress that I’m not interested per se what your world-view has to say about issues not pertaining to belief in God, but what you have to say in order to defend your position of not believing in God. Certainly this is the issue, and not what Eastern religions believe regarding belief in God.

  116. Onlookers:

    It is unfortunately clear that failure to adequately address the preliminary question of what knowledge is and how its relationship to what is believed [= accepted as so] has been more or less understood in one form or another for 2,300+ years has led to much of the strain in the exchange above. So, I must repeat, in the hope that the specific phrasing will sink in: knowledge is warranted, credibly true belief.

    It is particularly sad, then, that, despite repeated highlighting of the significance of the subset-specifying modifiers “warranted” and “credibly true,” we may read in Molch’s last missive:

    Here was my forecast: “But I am sure KF will continue raging on and on about why he “knows” that I am not entitled to this distinction between knowledge and belief in defining my world-view” . . . . a belief that seems credible, true and justified/warranted to one person does not seem so to another

    But plainly, starting with Plato and many others (not just the strawmannish caricature of the undersigned), knowledge has for 2,300 years been distinguished from belief in simple, as we only know what we accept as so [i.e. believe], and have good warrant — and, that term reflects the major discussion in recent decades on Gettier counter-examples, e.g. personal subjective justification is not objective warrant — for accepting as credibly true.

    That definition implies a duty to believe that which is well-warranted as credibly true. This issue of epistemic virtue is central. We may especially see this, when it is multiplied by the classic observation in Rom 1:19 – 20, which was alluded to by John Locke in his remarks in Section 5 of his introduction to his essay on human understanding:

    Rom 1:19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to [men], because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    That is, the classic Judaeo-Christian view has been that there is adequate — as opposed to “extraordinary” — evidence from the structure of the world-order without, and from the conscious, minded, reasoning enconscienced soul within that we know or should know that we are creatures of a Divine Creator, and inhabit a Creation.

    On this view, to reject and suppress such a well warranted conclusion will therefore require at least one exercise in selective hyperskepticism: unwarranted rejection of what one should know, through inconsistent and self- or agenda- serving standards of warrant on pivotal worldview level issues.

    In a design theory blog [and since relevant 101;level readings have already been linked], this can best be drawn out by looking at the inference to design, and where it points, first on a scientific basis, then on a worldviews basis:

    1 –> Let us observe — and this is one of the cases that fits under CY’s questions! — a skeletal, modern form of the classic teleological argument, as previously linked. (NB: To fix a strawmannish distortion: as already cited and responded to, M has not only debated over Buddhism etc, but has specifically contrasted what he implied is the well-warranted conclusion of atheism, on rejecting the cluster of theistic arguments CY raised). Citing:

    1. Highly complex objects with intricate, interacting parts are produced by intelligent designers, at least so far as we can determine from cases where we do directly know the cause.

    2. The universe (and/or a specific part of it) is just such a highly complex object.
    __________________________

    3. Probably, it is the result of intelligent design.

    4. But, the scope/complexity of the universe is such that only God could be its designer.
    _____________________________

    5. Probably, there is a God.

    2 –> This argument pivots on a massively supported fact: in the cases where we directly observe, functionally specific complex organisation and linked information trace to intelligence as key causal factor. (E.g. posts in this thread.)

    3 –> Implicit, is the point that the other relevant causal factors, chance and/or mechanical necessity, are causally inadequate to account for such entities.

    4 –> We then consider relevant natural objects such as cell based life, body plans based on elaboration of the functionally specific complex information in such life, and the observed cosmos as a whole; which is found to be complex and delicately balanced at a multiply fine-tuned operating point.

    5 –> Individually and collectively, on inductive inference to best explanation, these features of our natural world and conscious existence as intelligent beings based on the living cell, on scientific principles, warrant the conclusion that the world and life within it, up to and including our own life, are artifacts of intelligently directed configuration. That is, design.

    6 –> In the case of the cosmos, that inferred designer is extra-cosmic, exhibits sophisticated knowledge and skill, and is enormously powerful [multiply even the cosmological constant's energy per cc by the cosmic volume and you see that space itself contains an enormous quantum of energy].

    7 –> Moreover, the apparent finetuning that sets the observed cosmos to an operating point, one that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life, points to a purpose for the cosmos: to contain C-chemistry cell based life, such as we are.

    [ . . . ]

  117. 8 –> So, far, we have inferred on observation and best explanation across causal factors to intelligence. However, a cosmos-generating intelligence sounds rather familiar, once we put on worldview hats.

    9 –> That is, a highly intelligent and knowledgeable, enormously powerful designing intelligence forming a cosmos suitable for C-chemistry, cell based life sounds much like the grounding entity of theism. God.

    10 –> How do objectors, then, rebut? Can they identify that functionally specific, complex organisation and information are routinely produced by chance plus necessity, without any need for a designer? Not at all. (The data does in fact support the point that FSCI is the product of intelligence.)

    11 –> Lewontin, in his notorious 1997 NYRB article, epitomises the actual response:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material [= chance + necessity only] explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . .

    12 –> In short, on frankly metaphysical prejudice, the question is begged and science is subverted into applied materialist ideology.

    13 –> That is, as the discussion the skeletal argument was excerpted from notes:

    Objections try to deny the link between the observed complexity of the universe or objects in it and the existence of an Intelligent Designer, [in this context] aka God. Or, they may point to the gap between the Designer and the God people wish to worship. (The latter is largely irrelevant: teleological arguments do not set out as a rule, to prove ALL that we may wish to know about God, just to argue that the design in the cosmos implies a Designer. The former hinge on providing alternative explanations for complexity in the cosmos, in effect asserting that even very improbable complex systems, given enough time will happen by chance . . . )

    14 –> So, we come to the problem and fallacy of selective hyperskepticism, as a major — but often overlooked or even hotly dismissed — reason why people subjectively deny the objectively warranted conclusion that a particular potential belief is well-grounded and credibly true:

    The fallacy of selective hyperskepticism occurs when one exerts (perhaps inadvertently) a double-standard on the degree of warrant demanded for accepting testimony, claims or reports on matters of fact; matters which as Havard’s Simon Greenleaf (one of the fathers of the modern theory of evidence) observed, can only be shown to be so beyond reasonable doubt, i.e. to moral rather than demonstrative certainty. [NB: when one has a conclusion to moral certainty, one has a well-grounded right and maybe even a duty of care to act on its presumed truth, even though the matter falls short of demonstrative proof on universally accepted premises and axioms . . . if such exist.] Also, given Kurt Godel’s work in the 1930′s even mathematical demonstrations fail of absolute certainty, as — for sufficiently rich axiomatic mathematical systems — complete sets of axioms will be inconsistent and there is no constructive procedure to create sets of axioms which are known to be consistent. The fallacy is rooted in the problem that if radical skepticism is universally applied, it ends in self-referential absurdity, through corroding confidence in ALL claims; thus, itself as well. That is, subtly, it contradicts and so refutes itself. However, sometimes, when a claim does not sit well with one’s worldview, one is tempted to dismiss it through selectively — thus inconsistently — requiring a degree of evidence that, by the very nature of the case, a matter of fact cannot attain; perhaps through the slogan, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    15 –> And, given this problem, we cannot allow personal or even institutionalised denial of what is objectively warranted as credibly true, to block us from recognising that those who are willing to accept as so that which is objectively well-warranted and credibly true KNOW what they accept.

    16 –> The same pattern of selective hyperskepticism repeats itself with the cluster of arguments that provide a cumulative, inference to best explanation case pointing to the reality of God.

    17 –> NB: it is helpful here to think of a rope: individual fibres are often weak and short, but by twirling such together we gain both length and strength, then using a counter-twist we make a rope that has integrity as the strands lock together.

    18 –> Just so, a cumulative case is far stronger than the individual elements that make it up, due to how the different parts of the case interact. And, it can be far harder to warrant rejecting the whole than to question individual parts in isolation, as the alternative worldview commitments to do that, in aggregate may be extreme and implausible indeed. (Think about the atheist’s dilemma of having to assume the reality of evil to pose the problem of evil seriously.)

    19 –> Which is one reason why the exercise of comparative difficulties across live worldview options is so useful.

    _________________

    GEM of TKI

  118. F/N: W. Jay Wood summarises on the importance of epistemic virtues:

    ______________

    >> Intellectual virtues . . . include character traits such as wisdom, prudence, foresight, understanding, discernment, truthfulness and studiousness, among others. Here too are to be found their opposite vices: folly, obtuseness, gullibility, dishonesty, willful naiveté and vicious curiosity, to name a few. Certain excellences and deficiencies, then, shape our intellectual as well as our moral lives. An epistemology that takes the virtues seriously claims that our ability to lay hold of the truth about important matters turns on more than our IQ or the caliber of school we attend; it also depends on whether we have fostered within ourselves virtuous habits of mind. Our careers as cognitive agents, as persons concerned to lay hold of the truth and pursue other important intellectual goals, will in large measure succeed or fail as we cultivate our intellectual virtues . . . . Careful oversight of our intellectual lives is imperative if we are to think well, and thinking well is an indispensable ingredient in living well . . . only by superintending our cognitive life (the way, for example, we form, defend, maintain, revise, abandon and act on our beliefs about important matters) can we become excellent as thinkers and, ultimately, excellent as persons.

    If we fail to oversee our intellectual life and cultivate virtue, the likely consequences will be a maimed and stunted mind that thwarts our prospects for living a flourishing life. [Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous pp. 16 - 17]
    >>
    ______________

    So, let us reflect, soberly, on where we stand, why. G

  119. F/N 2: Pardon, a mildly OT clarifying expansion on justification vs warrant (but which will link back to the present focus, CY).

    Above, I have used warrant in a way that is distinct from justification. This is driven by the point that it is possible for an act of believing to be subjectively justified — i.e. you (an individual in a particular circumstance, with particular senses and background knowledge and belief, much of it tacit) have a proper right to the belief — but such belief is not objectively well-warranted.

    On the other hand, unless one is justified in holding a belief, that belief cannot be warranted for that person. (That is, justification, here, is seen as a necessary condition for, but not equivalent to, warrant regarded as a key component of knowledge.)

    I have already noted that knowledge understood as warranted, credibly true belief comes in a tight and a loose sense:

    tight: the warrant makes the knowledge demonstratively certain, insofar as such is achievable,

    loose: the degree of warrant, by the nature of the case, is less than certain, and the knowledge-claim is objectively grounded, but provisional

    Obviously, on most matters of practical affairs, and fact, knowledge is in fact used in sense 2. Some would argue that on the strength of Godel’s strictures on Mathematics, the tighter sense may not be achievable for finite, fallible thinkers such as ourselves.

    But in fact, where we are willing to accept that some truths can be self-evident, and where we accept that we may in fact receive truth on the authenticated authority of a perfect knower, i.e. God, we may indeed know things to certainty. 2 + 2 = 4 as a fact self-evident on reflection, does not seem to be dependent on any particular set of axioms for mathematics. “Error exists” and “knowledge is possible” are undeniably true, on pain of immediate self-refutation.

    Similarly, on the credible communication of God, we may rest assured, but we need to first be in that happy state of grace that allows us to be confident of such communication.

    But so soon as we turn to the world of practical affairs and science, we see that we are reduced to the looser, provisional sense of knowledge, and are forced to act in the face of the abstract but very real possibility of error. In these contexts, when something is objectively warranted to sufficient certainty — this is not about mere probability and calculated risk — that we have a right to act on it, or indeed may even have a duty to act on it, then it is reasonable to accept it as [to be pedantic: provisional] knowledge; even, if we must act with fear and trembling on the consequences of that possibility of error.

    We cannot prove that our mothers love us or have minds and hearts to the tight sense of knowledge, but only a madman would infer from that that we do not credibly know that our mothers are minded persons with loving hearts. Only another sort of madman would imagine that since our senses sometimes mislead us, we are free to regard the screeching car we see and hear trying to brake in front of us as real or unreal to suit our whims, so there is no need to jump out of the way. Only a madman of a third kind would regard the overwhelming evidence of potentially bankrupting embezzlement by good old cousin Tom, the family firm’s longstanding book-keeper, as ignorable since it is not proof beyond all doubt. And only a madman of a fourth kind would imagine that since the laws of gravity and aerodynamics rest on fallible observations and analysis, one may freely leap off a 15 story building’s roof and flap one’s arms, to fly off like a bird. And so on.

    [ . . . ]

  120. Multiplying by the cumulative case rope principle of mutual reinforcement and integration of an overall case, we can see why there is a large base of common-sense knowledge of the world that is practically speaking certain. But, beyond that, is a penumbra of opinions that may be more or less probable, but are not knowledge, and should not be confused with it.

    This brings us to the case of the warrant for the Judaeo-Christian theistic world view, and wider theism.

    For that wider context, the claim is that the cumulative evidence sufficiently warrants the conclusion that God is, as the author of reality and ground of being, that we are responsible before the cumulative strength of the evidence. That is, to deny ALL of it [which is what atheism as claimed or implied warranted conclusion -- as opposed to agnosticism as confessed state of provisional ignorance -- is], paints one into such a worldview corner that the result is more or less absurd.

    This is perhaps most easily seen in the case of facing the universal sense of moral obligation and fairness that gives rhetorical force tot eh favourite atheist argument from evil against God.

    For, for evil to count against God, it must be real, but evil plainly is not a matter-energy, physical entity, nor is it being argued as mere potentially delusional and optional perception. As Koukl observes, much hangs by that:

    Evil is real . . . That’s why people object to it. Therefore, objective moral standards must exist as well [i.e. as that which evil offends and violates] . . . . The first thing we observe about [such] moral rules is that, though they exist, they are not physical because they don’t seem to have physical properties. We won’t bump into them in the dark. They don’t extend into space. They have no weight. They have no chemical characteristics. Instead, they are immaterial things we discover through the process of thought, introspection, and reflection without the aid of our five senses . . . .

    We have, with a high degree of certainty, stumbled upon something real. Yet it’s something that can’t be proven empirically or described in terms of natural laws. This teaches us there’s more to the world than just the physical universe. If non-physical things–like moral rules–truly exist, then materialism as a world view is false.

    There seem to be many other things that populate the world, things like propositions, numbers, and the laws of logic. Values like happiness, friendship, and faithfulness are there, too, along with meanings and language. There may even be persons–souls, angels, and other divine beings.

    Our discovery also tells us some things really exist that science has no access to, even in principle. Some things are not governed by natural laws. Science, therefore, is not the only discipline giving us true information about the world. It follows, then, that naturalism as a world view is also false.

    Our discovery of moral rules forces us to expand our understanding of the nature of reality and open our minds to the possibility of a host of new things that populate the world in the invisible realm.

    Food for thought.

    Similarly, the evolutionary materialism that lies at the heart of modern “scientific” atheism, is arguably self-referentially incoherent AND amoral, so it fails to account credibly for mannnishness as we experience it.

    And so on.

    In this context, it would be indeed interesting to see the case that is claimed to warrant the conclusion that the arguments that point to theism in general and the NT-based Christian faith in particular, are unwarranted, and that by contrast the “conclusion” of atheism is well warranted.

    GEM of TKI

  121. molch, kf,

    Keep it civil, no more name calling and/or sarcasm.

  122. molch,

    Let’s see – how about some highly compressed summary remark that I find Christianity an ethically highly questionable, internally inconsistent cult for a barbaric god, and Alvin Plantinga outdated and far from the mark in addressing the problem of evil.

    There is no “problem of evil” unless there actually is a God. Without God, your “problem of evil” becomes “your personal preference of things you don’t happen to like.” And why should your personal preferences have pre-eminence in anyone else’s opinion? You may as well exhort others to have a grave and deep commitment to disliking spam and loving pancakes. When you make yourself the standard (and the community’s standard is only individual standards multiplied), then there really is no objective standard outside of personal preference. And this is nothing to then use to make a moral argument against God, much less to conclude that God doesn’t really exist, which is a non sequitor. It takes a lot of unpacking of your assumptions, to get at the heart of the matter, which is why it is indeed valuable to the discussion that you do explain your presuppositions making up the foundation of your worldview.

  123. CH: Pardon. With all due respect, I have laboured precisely to be as civil and on-point as possible. If I have failed at points, I regret that. (I do however hold as fair comment, that at points offence has plainly been taken where on an objective examination, none was offered by the undersigned; especially, where — to blunt their effectiveness — I have felt it necessary to describe the tactics being used to try to denigrate and dismiss me.) G

  124. PS: Onlookers, I took a look around for a good 101 on the theistic arguments, as some more reading to add to the VJT list. NWE’s article on Arguments for the existence of God seems to be a pretty useful point of departure, much better than Wikipedia. I think that whether or no M — a self-described atheist who claims to have found on serious investigation, that theism and the Christian faith are seriously wanting on logic and phil etc, CH — or someone of like ilk (a wonderful scotch word) summarises the Atheist’s case, someone will have to, so it can be addressed for the onlookers.

  125. CY:

    “You’ve challenged others’ world-views but apparently don’t have the integrity to back up your claims of having painstakingly developed one yourself.”

    Let me repeat it, again: I have not challenged anybody’s world-views (if you disagree, I’d like you to point out where exactly you think I challenged your world-view).

    “One wonders why you’re here then.”

    ???? How many times do I need to repeat it? My purpose of entering this discussion was to challenge this statement of yours:

    “if anyone wants to be a true atheist and deny God, they really have to contend with all the arguments for His existence, and not simply the carefully constructed so as to avoid the positive, denialist arguments.”

    “it seems that you’re more content to engage in a tangential game of semantics regarding knowledge and belief with KF.”

    Notice that it wasn’t me who started running on that tangent. And I am quite content to drop it.

    “I’m not asking you to give a defense of your rejection of Christianity, but simply to account for how the universe could exist as it does without a necessary first cause.”

    1) It is a completely unwarranted assumption on your part that my world-view does not account for a first cause.
    2) This question has no bearing whatsoever on my challenge of your statement.

    “many of whom are sure to share your views, will find your posts here as a mere distraction from the points raised in the OP and the subsequent discussion.”

    If you find my point (the challenge to your statement) a distraction and do no longer wish to address it, that’s fine by me. It seemed like you enjoyed the discussion earlier. But I have no problem to end it by agreeing to disagree and be on my way. Just say so.

    “I couldn’t help but notice in your response, your attempt to steer the issue away from belief in God as though it’s not a crucial issue – which was the premise of all our other exchanges. So I have to stress that I’m not interested per se what your world-view has to say about issues not pertaining to belief in God, but what you have to say in order to defend your position of not believing in God. Certainly this is the issue, and not what Eastern religions believe regarding belief in God.”

    I disagree. And that’s exactly the core point of what I have been trying to discuss with you. Let me use another, grossly simplified example: If somebody’s core world-view centers around re-incarnation, the implications and conditions of the truth of re-incarnation are their point of reference for the comparative difficulties with opposing world-view truth claims. Just like you have a point of reference in the implications and conditions of the truth of the Judeao-Christian god for the comparative difficulties between two opposing truth claims. Since you are Christian, I assume that you deny re-incarnation (please correct me if I am wrong, but the point of my argument is not WHICH truth claims you actually accept or reject, but that there are many many truth claims of other world-views that you DO reject; so if re-incarnation doesn’t work for you here, just substitute some other concept that you DO disagree with). According to your standard (which I am challenging), you are required to answer the re-incarnationist how and why you have answered all the positive arguments for re-incarnation, before you can claim to be a true “anti-re-incarnationist” and deny re-incarnation. As you might notice, both a theist and an atheist can be either a re-incarnationist or an anti-re-incarnationist. But Christians are usually not re-incarnationists. And, as you have pointed out yourself, that is not because all Christians have actually examined all the positive arguments for re-incarnation and rejected them, but because they use truth claims of the world-view they have accepted as true to judge other truth claims against.

    And that’s exactly why this assessment of yours is incorrect:

    “it became quite clear that your points are founded on your claim that you have considered the arguments for theism and have determined or rather “concluded” that they are found wanting.”

    Like I have pointed out earlier: I have a very rich repertoire of reference points in the form of beliefs/concluded truths about the world to compare opposing truth claims and evaluate their relative validity against. My rejection of the existence of the Judaeo-Christian god is not solely, or even primarily, founded on my assessment of the Christian arguments for his existence. Just like a Hindu usually rejects the existence of the Judeao-Christian god based on the incompatibility with the truth claims of Hinduism, I reject the existence of the Judeao-Christian god based on the incompatibility with my beliefs and concluded truths about the world. Which is exactly parallel to this statement of yours: “Since I have evidence that the God of the scriptures exists, and that He transcends all else that exists, many of the truth claims based on Vishnu are probably untrue insofar as they are at odds with the God of scripture, who exists.”

    This also entails another important point: whereas there are some beliefs about the world that I hold that contribute to my finding the existence of deities in general unlikely, I do not find any and all deities EQUALLY unlikely. That is because the claimed traits of different deities are obviously rather different and thus compatible or incompatible to widely differing degrees with my beliefs about the world.

    So, this claim of yours is clearly not true for many atheists, including me:

    “For the atheist though, as I pointed out, there is no point of reference for “I find no experiential evidence for a god or gods, therefore a god or gods probably (or for some ‘possibly’) do(es) not exist,” other than inexperience.”

  126. Clive @ 122:
    My “compressed summary remark” was compressed sarcasm.

  127. 127

    molch,

    Having read your last post, I guess some clarification on my views is needed here.

    The main thrust of my argument is the presence of a reference point for determining a coherent world-view for theists, and an absence of one for atheists. I (and others) based this on the fact that theists refer to what exists in order to form their world-view. On the other hand, the atheist position (for both “new atheists” and others) entirely rests on the ability to prove a negative – the absence of god or gods, and the absence of evidence for a god or gods, and further, the absence of evidence for the veracity of the Christian faith.

    Now you then implied in not so many words that I was being inconsistent, in that I don’t hold the atheist to the same standard as I hold my own basis for a world-view. I certainly do so. If the atheist charges that there is no evidence, while the theist (God, for that matter), HAS provided evidence, it is then placed upon the atheist to deal with that evidence, such that it can be discounted on warrant, based on other present and verifiable evidential factors.

    Furthermore, although it might appear that my standard concerning there being an absence of an argument from atheists is inconsistent with my charge that one cannot base an argument on absence; I don’t base the argument for theism and Christianity on the absence of evidence, but on the presence of evidence. I contend that from my experience with the literature, atheists have not dealt with the evidence for the existence of God and the veracity of Christianity in any coherent way. I reserve the possibility that they could in-fact do so. But the fact remains that the theistic arguments have dealt with the charges of atheists against the theistic arguments. In fact, I pointed out that much of the arguments for God are in relation to arguments against. If there is no god or gods, the universe could not exist as it does. Such a charge is consistent with the first principles of reason and logic, and for the Christian theist, is further emphasized by, and predicated upon a passage of scripture:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/pa.....ersion=NIV

    The reference point for theists, in fact, is the subject matter of this now very lengthy thread, who’s necessity was enlightened upon a statement by Jerry Coyne: “To me, the proper stance is, ‘I haven’t seen a smidgen of evidence for God, so I don’t think he exists. But I suppose it’s a theoretical possibility.” In respect for Dr. Coyne allowing for the “theoretical possibility,” VJT submitted a thorough, though not exhaustive list of the arguments for the existence of God. If you will notice, from the list, it also entails arguments for the truth of Christianity based on historical accounts, (and several, myself included, suggested the inclusion of fulfilled prophecy), and the too vast to accurately enumerate accounts of God’s presence and work in the lives of believers throughout the age of the Church (not an institution, but the family of those who claim Christ as Savior).

    So when Christians deal with other truth claims, which conflict with theism and Christianity, they have a very rich and coherent reference point from which to compare and determine truth over non-truth. This is the thrust of what is called Christian Apologetics, and is the foundation for a Christian world-view.

    It then becomes not an issue of preference for the Christian world-view over others, but of warrant for the Christian world-view over others. I think this distinction needs to be made, since you seem to believe that Christianity and theism are simply world-view preferences without warrant to compel a commitment. Correct me if I am wrong.

    And this is precisely why I emphasized that the Christian faith’s falsifiability rests on the historicity of the resurrection, for which we have insurmountable historical evidence in accord with long established criteria for historical authentication, as KF pointed out.

    Since atheism is predicated on the charge that there is no evidence for the existence of a god or gods, thus there probably (or for some ‘possibly’) is no god or gods, it then becomes essential that an atheist deal with the arguments from Christians and other theists that God does in fact exist, in order on warrant, to maintain that there is no such evidence. This is exactly my concern with the particular statement of mine by which you entered this discussion; which I repeat here:

    “But honestly, if anyone wants to be a true atheist and deny God, they really have to contend with all the arguments for His existence, and not simply the carefully constructed so as to avoid the positive, denialist arguments.”

    My argument here is that the “new atheists” have not done this. What they challenge is based on an a priori metaphysical assumption of materialism, which does not deal with the arguments for God’s existence, rather begs the question of God’s existence. The denialist arguments I refer to are clearly thus.

    You then pointed out that there are atheist philosophers who have contended with the theistic arguments for the existence of God, and I agreed with you. Based on that, and subsequent clarifications in your posts, it became clear to me that you defend your word-view position based on those types of arguments, rather than on the arguments coming from the “new atheists,” which I commend you for, but which I still have not seen you exemplify by submitting at least some references that we can examine here.

    So in that respect, I challenged you to answer three basic questions regarding how the universe could exist without God, since in my estimation, the answer to these three basic questions is probably the basis (or at least part of the basis) for your world-view.

    So far in this thread you have not provided an answer to these questions. So on that omission alone, I fail to see any basis for your initial objection to my statement. However, in fairness, if you were to provide us with answers to those questions, I will be prepared to readjust my stance based on any clarification your answers could provide.

  128. 128

    moch,

    So in the interest of brevity, why not provide us with some links to references that you appeal to for your world-view, rather than you yourself needing to give a thorough answer to the questions.

  129. Onlookers:

    Skimming through the above, we can see M’s bottomline (and a good case of the proverbial “slice of the cake with all the ingredients” in it):

    M, 125: I reject the existence of the Judeao-Christian god based on the incompatibility with my beliefs and concluded truths about the world. Which is exactly parallel to this statement of yours: “Since I have evidence that the God of the scriptures exists, and that He transcends all else that exists, many of the truth claims based on Vishnu are probably untrue insofar as they are at odds with the God of scripture, who exists.”

    Earlier, he had said:

    M, 53: I might be the kind of atheist you have not met before. And I think I am in good company . . . . a lot of philosophers HAVE contended with those positive arguments for the existence of deities. I am surprised that you seem utterly unaware of the rich philosophical literature criticizing them . . . . I might be different from all the other atheists that you know, but I have personally spent quite some time contending with these arguments myself. So far, I haven’t encountered any that convinced me after serious philosophical, logical and scientific investigation.

    1 –> M, here, after repeated requests, still will not give an actual substantial summary of his case, or even give links to an outline acceptable to him. However, his emphasis on “scientific investigation” tells us that his position is naturalistic-evolutionary materialist, which I have critiqued recently here. (Observe the absence of naturalists or explicit materialists with cogent refutations. If they had knock-down refutations, they would have trumpeted them.)

    2 –> In brief summary, naturalism as worldview pivots on Lewontinian a priori evolutionary materialistic “science”, which:

    a: by that a priori imposition begs the question in creating and evaluating scientific explanations [undercutting the ability of science to seek the empirically supported truth about our world],

    b: specifically, by its unfortunate resort to institutional “expulsion” tactics, it censors science from making/accepting an otherwise well-warranted inference to design on the evidence of dFSCI in the DNA etc of the living cell, and the finely tuned operating point of the observed cosmos that sets up an observed cosmos that facilitates C-chemistry cell based life,

    c: is self-referentially incoherent on the credibility of the mind, as it ends up trying to account for a system that operates by ground-consequent links on forces of chance and blind necessity that are irrelevant to logic, and truth

    d: has no grounding IS in it that can ground the oughtness we experience as morally bound agents, and so is inherently amoral (as several spokesmen have publicly admitted, and as has been pointed out by Plato ever since 360 BC, cf discussion here)

    3 –> M’s use of “concluded truths” and technique of dealing with the positive arguments for theism piecemeal fail to adequately respond to the challenge of comparative difficulties and the implication of cumulative warrant for a generic worldview: e.g. to reject ALL the theistic arguments requires adoption of premises that put one on a sticky comparative difficulty wicket indeed. (Cf remarks above on that.)

    4 –> Fair comment: The difficulty of defending such an evolutionary materialist view joined to rejection of the key premises of all the main theistic arguments, protests notwithstanding, easily explains the commonplace reluctance of skeptics to detail their own premises, rationale and answers to those difficult questions. (NB: Hard questions are hard because there are no easy answers, so one compares difficulties and selects on a grand inference to best warranted explanation across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. For this, the warranted credible truths approach is very helpful.)

    [ . . . ]

  130. 5 –> Turning to Judaeo-Christian theism, the positive evidence — notice how we have not seen so much as a link in point by point rebuttal — focuses on two main themes: (i) the authenticity, truthfulness and manifested power of the C1 testimony to the risen, crucified Christ, (ii) the continued manifestation of that miracle-working power through millions down to today whose lives and testimony reflect the transforming impact of encountering and coming to personally know God in the face of the Risen Christ.

    6 –> The skeptical case has to first account for millions of people being utterly delusional but experiencing positive life-transformation that in many cases has been pivotal in history. (Think of the likes of a Wilberforce, or a General Booth, or a Pascal, or a Lincoln [notice his testimony on this], or a Colson [read his The Body!!], or a Mother Theresa etc. Then, spend some time listening to the thousands of testimonies of say an Unshackled. Similarly, if you can get a copy of Don Richardson’s Eternity in their Hearts, read it and ask yourself about the evidence of a preserved witness to the Most High God from cultures all over the world, and how the devotees of that Most High responded when the gospel came to them — or even before the gospel reached them. The Karen of Burma and their neighbours are especially striking. [Notice, the Christian faith is by no means committed to dismissing the authenticity of a great many such cases of people knowing the Most High God, or preserving a memory of him in their culture. And, on abundant testimony, that Most High God has a strange habit of sending his devotees to listen to the gospel; starting with Cornelius in Ac 9 - 10.])

    7 –> This, without ending up in the implication that our minds are so delusional that they are utterly untrustworthy. (Cf the onward discussion for the linked UD post here, esp. point f in context.)

    8 –> Then, the skeptical case has to address and credibly account for the evidence that supports a C1 provenance of the NT — far too short for myth-making to prevail in the teeth of many still living witnesses, friendly and hostile — and the traceability of the key official testimony of the leading witnesses in 1 Cor 15:1 – 11 [cf the previously linked main positive case], to 20+ identifiable individuals among a circle of 500+ witnesses, and to the period 35 – 38 AD in Jerusalem.

    9 –> Worse, this is backed up by the historical backbone provided by Lk-Ac, which can be reasonably shown to have been originally composed ~ 60 – 62 AD, and based on eyewitness testimony [especially that of women involved in or with a ringside view of the key events]; which has also been repeatedly shown to be habitually accurate down to fine incidental details that Luke simply could not have known were likely to be tested.

    10 –> The dilemma here is that if classical studies in general is treated as roughly as the NT has often been, the history of classical times — not generally disputed — would collapse. If the NT instead is treated as we treat other reasonably authenticated prime sources, then we have some very powerful sincere testimony indeed to the believed and perceived impact of God on the stage of history, and shaping the course of our civilisation.

    11 –> Those eyewitnesses, and the millions since who have encountered God through taking their testimony seriously, build a powerful cumulative case that people can and do have real, life-transforming, miracle working encounters with God in the face of Christ. And, such people are not that hard to find today, either.

    12 –> Can skeptics show credible, non- question- begging evidence that ALL such people are or were delusional? (And if we all are or were delusional, what does that imply about the general quality of the human mind to experience and accurately perceive or understand reality?)

    13 –> Thus we come back to the nature of knowledge as well-warranted, credibly true belief, here on inference to best explanation in light of the well-known challenges of authenticating witness and record, and broader comparative difficulties analysis. This, without falling into selective hyperskepticism.

    14 –> I contend that, on the balance, once we avoid hyperskeptical dismissals, the warrant for a design oriented understanding of science is strong, the warrant for theism is strong, and the warrant for Judaeo-Christian theism on positive evidence is actually stronger still, especially for those who have met God in life-transforming power, in the face of Christ.

    13 –> And, we can observe: my ability to confidently know such things is not hostage to your skeptical doubts.

    ______________

    So, we can evaluate and conclude for ourselves.

    GEM of TKI

  131. PPS: Those interested in exploring the significance of the theistic arguments and attempted rebuttals will find the discussions here, here, here, and here useful. (I already pointed to NWE’s excellent introduction here. I do NOT recommend Wikipedia’s survey, and for instance find its treatment of Plantinga and the question of warrant relative to knowledge utterly unsatisfactory.)

    –> More useful autumn reading . . .

    –> The real challenge for rejecters of the arguments to God as a comparative difficulties exercise on inference to best explanation [note I am not claiming to be giving deductively valid and sound proofs . . . one may always reject a proof by denying he conclusion and challenging the premises on that basis], is that the rejection of key premises, in aggregate puts one in a very tight corner. [Cf the introductory discussion here.]

  132. 132

    KF,

    Perhaps I’m not understanding you here:

    “Earlier, he had said:

    “M, 125: I reject the existence of the Judeao-Christian god based on the incompatibility with my beliefs and concluded truths about the world. Which is exactly parallel to this statement of yours: ‘Since I have evidence that the God of the scriptures exists, and that He transcends all else that exists, many of the truth claims based on Vishnu are probably untrue insofar as they are at odds with the God of scripture, who exists.’”

    I don’t believe my statement is “exactly parallel” with molch’s statement, since I have a reference point in the evidence for the existence of God, and the veracity of the Judeo-Christian scriptures as foundational anf authoritative. Molch’s reference point appears to be the incompatibility of other truth claims with his a priori world-view foundation. My world-view foundation is not a priori, but based on that evidence. Perhaps this is not what you meant by the comparison, but I couldn’t help but notice this, and perhaps others noticed it as well. Perhaps I could have been more clear by stating:

    ‘Since I have verifiable evidence that the God of the scriptures exists, and that the scriptures themselves are foundational and authoritative for that view; further that God transcends all else that exists according to that foundation and authority, many of the truth claims based on Vishnu are probably untrue insofar as they conflict with the truth claims of scripture.”

  133. 133

    KF,

    Regarding “The Most High God.” Excellent point.

    A book of related interest would be “From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions” by Ruth A. Tucker.

    http://www.amazon.com/Jerusale.....038;sr=1-1

    This book was used as a text in a course I took many years ago at the college level on Christian World Missions. She begins with Paul, and accounts the major missionary movements of the church up until the 1980s. I highly recommend it

  134. 134

    KF,

    Disregard my next to last post. I was reading it wrong. The clarification regarding that particular statement of mine should go to molch, and not to you, since it was entirely within his own statement, which you quoted. I misread the quote as being your own comparison.

  135. CY

    Understood, and thanks.

    You are quite right to object that your position is not an a priori rejection of what differs from what you believe, but is rooted in your own experience of God [I recall your testimony here at UD some time back], and the general positive case for the Christian form of the Judaeo-Christian Most High God based worldview.

    From M’s remarks on “concluded truth” he seems to be interpreting what we say by how he has arrived at his conclusions. (I would very much like to see how he addresses the foundational history on primary sources of the C1 Christian faith, and the onward consistent experience of transforming encounter with the Living God, the Most High, in the face of the risen Jesus of Nazareth.)

    GEM of TKI

    G

  136. 136

    KF,

    “From M’s remarks on “concluded truth” he seems to be interpreting what we say by how he has arrived at his conclusions. (I would very much like to see how he addresses the foundational history on primary sources of the C1 Christian faith, and the onward consistent experience of transforming encounter with the Living God, the Most High, in the face of the risen Jesus of Nazareth.)”

    It seems that if one discounts the Judeo-Christian reference point found in the propensity of Christian witness, the only alternative is relativism; which we know to be false by right reason.

    The beginning to all of this – and the foundation is God Himself – the author of reason. Without God there is essentially no reason. There is reason. Therefore God exists, and we can come to some decisive conclusions about the universe, the things in it, and the phenomenon of life within it. So molch’s conclusion criteria is met by theism. However, theism goes much further, which is what I think he/she misunderstands, or perhaps simply disregards on principle. The universe is a puzzle for which we do not currently have all pieces in place. However, the pieces we do have in place are sufficient to be able to see and know what the image is and what it is not.

    I think the materialist atheist views the universe more as a puzzle for which we have no idea even how the pieces can be put together, let alone what the image might be. Thus, “your guess is as good as mine” – translated to “your truth is as good as mine.” This would seem to contradict, however the truth claims made by Darwinism – particularly that all life is the result of chance and necessity acting on random variation and cumulative natural selection.

    And in case anyone has doubts about this, I refer back to BA’s post at 91 with regard to a typical materialist’s answer to the questions:

    “why is there anything?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

    “What caused the universe?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

    “Why is there regularity (law) in nature?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

    “Of the Four Causes in nature proposed by Aristotle (material, formal, efficient, and final), which of them are real?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

    “Do final causes exist?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

    “Why do we have subjective experience, and not merely objective existence?” Answer: “Subjective experience seems to be what you perceive in your mind. I presume that’s an epiphenomenon but it’s a very pleasant one.” in other words: “I don’t know.”

    “Why is the human mind intentional, in the technical philosophical sense of aboutness, which is the referral to something besides itself? How can mental states be about something?” Answer: What? What?” in other words: “I don’t know” and “I don’t know.”

    “Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an artifact of nature (natural selection, etc.)” Answer: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as ‘Moral Law.’” in other words: “I don’t know.”

    “Why is there evil?” Answer: “All animals exhibit a range of behaviors. Sometimes those behaviors are clearly beneficial to themselves, or the group, and sometimes they aren’t. There’s no rule that says every animal always has to act perfectly all the time. Some humans, for example, would restrict a woman’s right to choose and would discriminate against gays and lesbians. I wish those people weren’t evil but their behavior isn’t a big surprise to me.” In other words: “I don’t know.”

    PZ Meyers’ answers were to ridicule the person asking them.

    It seems that the materialist doesn’t know a whole lot while claiming to know a whole lot.

    Notice the answer to the question regarding mind refers to it as an “epiphenomenon.” The things the materialist claims to know are in regard to the a priori materialistic metaphysic, which are in relation to the non-existence of God, which is in relation to the materialist claiming no evidence for the existence of God, which is in direct relation to the materialist disregarding the evidence at hand for the existence of God, which brings us back to, and is in relation to the a priori materialistic metaphysic.

    So it would be apparent that it is in the interest of the materialist metaphysic to be careful regarding claiming knowledge about anything. So I would agree with mulch on this much – he/she can’t “know” from his/her perspective, he/she can only “conclude” from the point of reference of materialism, which is essentially not to conclude anything, so it is really not in the strictest sense, a point of reference. The theist can both conclude and know because he/she has a broader point of reference.

  137. CY:

    To “know” that you cannot know, is to claim to know.

    G

  138. CY:

    “I don’t believe my statement is “exactly parallel” with molch’s statement, since I have a reference point in the evidence for the existence of God, and the veracity of the Judeo-Christian scriptures as foundational anf authoritative. Molch’s reference point appears to be the incompatibility of other truth claims with his a priori world-view foundation. My world-view foundation is not a priori, but based on that evidence.”

    Well, you finally clarified why you hold your position: you postulate that everybody’s world-view that is NOT Christian is “a priori”, and not based on evidence. Of course, this conclusion of yours is obviously “a priori”, since you conveniently omitted addressing my point I exemplified on re-incarnation and/or Hinduism:

    “As you might notice, both a theist and an atheist can be either a re-incarnationist or an anti-re-incarnationist. But Christians are usually not re-incarnationists. And, as you have pointed out yourself, that is not because all Christians have actually examined all the positive arguments for re-incarnation and rejected them, but because they use truth claims of the world-view they have accepted as true to judge other truth claims against. Just like a Hindu usually rejects the existence of the Judeao-Christian god based on the incompatibility with the truth claims of Hinduism, I reject the existence of the Judeao-Christian god based on the incompatibility with my beliefs and concluded truths about the world. Which is exactly parallel to this statement of yours: “Since I have evidence that the God of the scriptures exists, and that He transcends all else that exists, many of the truth claims based on Vishnu are probably untrue insofar as they are at odds with the God of scripture, who exists.”

    So it’s fine for you to NOT investigate the positive arguments / EVIDENCE for re-incarnation/Hunduism/all-the-other truth claims you disagree with. You simply postulate that that evidence does not exist (without ever looking at it, thus A PRIORI), and that thus you can call your own world-view the only one that is based on evidence, which would make everyone else who claims to HAVE evidence for their world-view obviously a liar or delusional.

    So, I wish you happiness in your rock-solid belief that non-Christian world-views are “a priori”, with no evidence to support their truth-claims, and that any non-Christian who claims to have evidence to support their concluded truths MUST, a priori, be wrong. Thanks for the discussion.

  139. —molch: “Like I have pointed out earlier: I have a very rich repertoire of reference points in the form of beliefs/concluded truths about the world to compare opposing truth claims and evaluate their relative validity against.”

    If your repertoire of concluded truths is arbitrary, incompatible with reason, and unworthy of being subjected to the light of scrutiny, it must not be very “rich.”

  140. Molch:

    I am not CY, but I can speak for him, as you have twisted his words into pretzels (which sounds all too regrettably familiar to the undersigned from your comments in recent days and how you used my words).

    He was responding to your evident position, and to its a priorism, as I cited from your earlier remarks. Which remarks sound uncomfortably like Lewontinian a priori imposed materialism.

    If the cap does not fit, could you kindly explain, and it would be interesting to see the way you handle the implications of your worldview positions such as those taken to reject the cluster of arguments pointing to God.

    GEM of TKI

  141. PS: Pardon a reminder, but we still have yet to see a summary or a link on your — apparently atheist-naturalist (thus entailing evolutionary materialism) — worldview’s core warrant that led you to “conclude” as you did. Such would be welcome.

  142. 142

    molch,

    “Well, you finally clarified why you hold your position: you postulate that everybody’s world-view that is NOT Christian is “a priori”, and not based on evidence. Of course, this conclusion of yours is obviously “a priori”, since you conveniently omitted addressing my point I exemplified on re-incarnation and/or Hinduism:”

    Not at all. I claimed that my world-view is based on evidence. In that I did not claim anything regarding other world-views with the exception of atheism, for which I pointed out, has no evidential point of reference other than that there is no evidence for the existence of God. Such a claim is not evidential. It is an assertion and so is a priori.

    Other theistic world-views can be based on evidence as well; for example, Judaism, Islam; even Mormonism. I contend, however, that Christianity is more complete than those world-views. I would not be a Christian if I believed otherwise. Christianity makes absolute claims over beliefs which conflict with it. However, I believe there is enough evidence to solidly establish those claims, and I mentioned what that evidence is. I stated that my beliefs are based on a falsifiable foundation – namely, the resurrection. It is therefore on you to show that the resurrection did not occur in order to show that my beliefs are a priori. If the resurrection occurred, my beliefs are on a firm foundation.

  143. F/N: Molch, if you are going to dismiss the resurrection as described in the AD 55 1 Cor 15:1 – 11 (underlying official testimony is traceable as official summary to 35 – 38 AD) and as predicted in the 700 BC Is 52:13 – 53:12, you will need to address the issues summarised at introductory level here. G

  144. 144

    molch,

    Regarding reincarnation; I have no evidence that reincarnation occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that Christianity is true, and reincarnation is incompatible with that truth; since scripture points out that humans live once, and after that there is resurrection and judgment.

    Reincarnation suggests that the living soul is placed in the body of another after death. There is some truth to that in that reincarnation accepts that the soul never dies. However, what is incompatible with Christianity is that the soul is placed in the body of another. Christian scripture states that our bodies are resurrected and our souls remain in them.

  145. CY (captalizations mine):

    “Other THEISTIC world-views can be based on evidence as well;”
    And: “atheism, for which I pointed out, HAS NO EVIDNETIAL POINT OF REFERENCE other than that there is no evidence for the existence of God.”

    Right there is were your argument is wrong. As I have pointed out numerous times.

    “I have no evidence that reincarnation occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that Christianity is true, and reincarnation is incompatible with that truth;”

    Here is what re-incarnationist X will say: “I have no evidence that the Christian god exists. I have no evidence that he does not. I have evidence that re-incarnation is true, and the Christian god is incompatible with that truth.”

    You deny re-incarnationist X the right to say that.

  146. hit the button too soon, add to previous sentence:

    You deny re-incarnationist X the right to say that…without looking at their evidence.

  147. To clarify even more, let’s generalize this:

    In a generalized form, you say:

    “I have no evidence that x occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that y is true, and x is incompatible with that truth”

    For so far completely unexplained reasons, you claim that this statement is uniquely justifiable if y is a god, as opposed to any other concept in any other world-view.

  148. 148

    molch,

    Your premise is simply false. If a belief in reincarnation did not exist and Christianity did, Christianity would still be true based on evidence. It doesn’t become less truthful because there are other truth claims that oppose it. A person can have a valid world-view based on the evidence for Christianity without examining the truth claims of other competing views. Furthermore, a person can have a Christian world-view based on the claims of Christianity without even examining the evidence for Christianity. A mentally retarded person who doesn’t understand the concepts of validity and verification, for example, can have a valid Christian world-view. Developing a world-view, then is not necessarily predicated upon examining evidence even if such evidence exists. A person can have a perfectly valid and justifiable world-view without understanding its validity, in the same way that a person can believe in the law of gravity without understanding all the evidential detail contained in the evidence, which makes it a law.

    Your premise is based on a faulty assumption that the person who believes in reincarnation cares that there is the kind of evidence for reincarnation as the Christian cares that there is evidence for the resurrection. Such is not necessarily the case. Hinduism, for example, as many Hindus will tell you, is not defined, but experienced. It is a collection of esoteric faiths, which do not seek evidential, but experiential basis’. Many other faiths, which incorporate reincarnation into their beliefs are quite similar to this; including Sikhism, Kabbalah, and Rosicrucianism. They are esoteric, non-evidential based faiths. In fact you will find that they emphasize faith as belief without evidence, but with good reason. Christianity, on the other hand emphasizes faith based on reason and evidence. In fact, there are some who claim Christ as Savior, who have more of an experiential than an evidential form of faith, and they are quite vocal, particularly in the US. This phenomenon, I believe has contributed to the materialist’s overall contention that faith is belief without evidence; but this is not the kind of faith expounded on in Judeo-Christian scripture.

  149. 149

    “in the same way that a person can believe in the law of gravity without understanding all the evidential detail contained in the evidence, which makes it a law.”

    Let me rephrase that: in the same way that a person can believe in the law of gravity without understanding it’s evidential basis.

  150. 150

    molch,

    “I have no evidence that x occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that y is true, and x is incompatible with that truth”

    That is exactly correct. However,

    “For so far completely unexplained reasons, you claim that this statement is uniquely justifiable if y is a god, as opposed to any other concept in any other world-view.”

    I claim the statement is justifiable for the reasons I and others here have already explained.

    You, however, have still failed to provide us with any justification whatsoever for your world-view.

    We are justified in our world-view because it is faith based on reason and evidence. If your world-view fits in that same category, it is really meaningless for you to charge a failure in justification without providing us with evidence, which will determine its non-justification, and why yours is more justified.

  151. 151

    molch,

    “‘atheism, for which I pointed out, HAS NO EVIDNETIAL POINT OF REFERENCE other than that there is no evidence for the existence of God.’

    Right there is were your argument is wrong. As I have pointed out numerous times.”

    You have pointed this out; however you have failed to provide evidence, which backs up your pointing it out.

    I provided evidence that this is what atheists say about the existence of God – that there is no evidence. Do you dispute that? Then show us.

  152. 152

    molch and others.

    I have already contended that the atheist bases his/her world-view on the alleged absence of evidence for the existence of God, for which I supplied one example. From a cursory look at websites, which defend atheism, the following is what I found:

    “The question “Why don’t you believe?” is a request for justification from the nonbeliever; the response “I haven’t seen any good reason to bother believing” returns the need for justification back where it belongs: with the believer. Too often, believers fail to realize that their position is the one needing defense and this response may help them understand that.”

    http://atheism.about.com/od/ar.....Reason.htm

    “I’m an atheist about all gods because there’s no reliable evidence for any god, or even for Jesus.”

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/WhyAtheism.htm

    “in the 1990s philosophers developed a flurry of atheological arguments; arguably the most famous of such arguments is the argument from reasonable nonbelief (also known as the argument from divine hiddenness).”

    http://www.infidels.org/librar.....ments.html

    “For example, atheists have argued that a lack of evidence casts doubt on important doctrines of Christianity,”

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/martin.htm

    What we need to sort out beforehand is the position of atheists (or at least the majority of them) on the existence of gods and the truth merit of religions. This can be defended, as “what atheists think”, far less awkwardly.

    “This attempt is probably not definitive, but here goes: the atheist position is that there is no available, substantive evidence for the existence of any god. Therefore it’s likely that there isn’t one.”

    http://asktheatheist.com/?p=231

    “After millennia of trying to come up with arguments for the existence of God, all theologians and philosophers have been able to produce are lame logical fallacies. No credible evidence has ever been found for the existence of a god. Of course, it is impossible to prove conclusively that gods don’t exist just like its impossible to conclusively prove that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Invisible Pink Unicorn don’t exist. However, it is irrational to believe in fanciful creatures for which there is no evidence. As Carl Sagan said,

    ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’
    In the case of theism, not only do we not have extraordinary evidence, we don’t have any credible evidence at all. There is simply no valid reason whatsoever for believing in the existence of God.”

    http://freethought.freeservers.....lview.html

    And from the same:

    “Not only are there no sound arguments indicating that a god exists, there are several sound arguments indicating that God does not exist. This article introduces some of these arguments and provides links to other articles which discuss the arguments more thoroughly.

    Lack of Evidence
    The fact that there is no valid reason to believe that a god exists justifies weak atheism (lack of belief in gods), but not strong atheism (belief that there are no gods). Lack of evidence for a proposition (“God exists” in this case) is, in and of itself, not evidence that the proposition is false. However, lack of evidence for a proposition combined with the expectation that if that proposition were true that evidence would be available does constitute evidence that the proposition is false. As an example of this reasoning, suppose someone claimed that there is a herd of invisible two-ton elephants stampeding through your living room. If such a claim were true there would be plenty of evidence in the form of broken furniture for example. Now you examine your living room and find no evidence for stampeding elephants. It is, of course, rational to believe that the elephant claim was false. Now lets consider the gods of the dominate theistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each of these religions postulate a god that is concerned with human welfare and that performs miracles. If such a god exists, there should be ample evidence of the miracles that he works whenever human suffering is present. But human suffering certainly exists and there is no evidence of the theists’ god. This constitutes evidence that this god does not exist.”

    Of course these websites present other arguments than that evidence simply does not exist; such as the problem of pain, and the alleged lack of cohesion of theistic arguments. However, these are based primarily on an emphasis of a lack of evidence. Some even claim that theists require the provision of a justification for belief squarely in their corner, since atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods.

    Theists have provided the evidence in question. Theists have also provided coherent defenses of those arguments in response to the rejection of them by atheists. Yet atheists still maintain that there is no evidence – and in some cases, no evidence “whatsoever.”

    Furthermore, in order to justify the charge that the theist arguments are fallacious, those arguments are often reframed, such that there is no substantial premise.

    The following website contains a list of such reframed theistic arguments:

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

    Here is their example of the cosmological argument reframed:

    COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT, a.k.a. FIRST CAUSE ARGUMENT (I)
    (1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause.
    (2) I say the universe must have a cause.
    (3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
    (4) Therefore, God exists.

    Anyone care to analyze and clarify what they’re not getting right?

  153. —CannuckianYankee: “Anyone care to analyze and clarify what they’re not getting right?”

    Well, CY, I am sure that I am not telling you anything you don’t already know, but the erroneous reasoning of the atheists that you cite in your examples resembles the approach of those who visit this site. They assume that reason’s foundations, far from reflecting a non-negotiable, self-evident truth about reality, constitute little more than arbitrarily conceived conventions. So, when I explain to them that nothing can begin to exist without a cause, which is nothing less than the law of non-contradicition in action, they insist that there is no reason why they should conform to MY rules of right reason [which is the equivalent of characterizing the law of causality as "If I say it must have a cause, it must have a cause]. They actually believe, or claim to believe, that they can create their own rational foundations and remain rational.

    Of course, like molch, they never get around to sharing those principles with us becuase, in truth, they have none. How could one ever come up with an alternative to the law of identity or the law of causality? There are no alternatives or substitues. That is why they grow silent when we ask them to explain the methods by which they arrive at their conclusions. They are bluffing and they know it. One either chooses to be reasonable or not to be reasonable.

    Frankly, this kind of irrational skepticism is a historical curiosity. Even David Hume, the Godfather of skeptics and critic of causality, admitted that he would never assert anything so ridiculous as the proposition that something could begin to exist without a cause. Yet todays atheists are so irrational that they try to make this principle of causation subjective and arbitrary. Thus, they are impervious to the reason-based evidence for God’s existence because they reject reason-based evidence in principle. Naturally they would say there is no reason-based evidence in this particular case because they have already decided that there is no such thing as reason based evidence in ANY CASE.

  154. 154

    stephenB, others,

    “They assume that reason’s foundations, far from reflecting a non-negotiable, self-evident truth about reality, constitute little more than arbitrarily conceived conventions. So, when I explain to them that nothing can begin to exist without a cause, which is nothing less than the law of non-contradicition in action, they insist that there is no reason why they should conform to MY rules of right reason [which is the equivalent of characterizing the law of causality as "If I say it must have a cause, it must have a cause]. They actually believe, or claim to believe, that they can create their own rational foundations and remain rational.”

    While I can imagine the impact this sort of thinking might have on science in 40-50 years or perhaps quite sooner, my main concern is how it will further and more significantly impact our culture and society.

  155. 155

    stephenB, KF, molch, others,

    I found this article from

    http://secweb.infidels.org/article823.html

    It’s basically the author’s praise for his own book:

    “Paul Young is the author of The Nature of Information, a philosophy book that defines information and the fundamental creative force in the universe in entirely mass-energy terms, and mind and consciousness as wholly material phenenomena, thereby solving, conceptually, the mind-body/brain-mind problem.”

    A few quotes (not from the book but from the author’s article about the book):

    “But for those of us who do not or cannot believe in a god, no comparable worldview [to theism] exists to enable us to understand the ultimate nature of the universe and our place in it. Atheism is not a worldview and provides no understanding of the nature of the universe; it is simply a denial of the existence of God and it is essentially useless as a contribution to our understanding of the world.” [ ] mine

    Really? I agree with the whole statement with the exception of this: “Atheism is not a worldview.”

    But he waxes on about atheism as if it is a world-view:

    “In my book, The Nature of Information, I describe a mechanism by which ‘information’ can be seen to be an entirely physical or material process, resulting not only in the natural unification of matter and mind, thereby solving, conceptually, the mind-body or brain-mind problem, but identification of the fundamental creative and control mechanism immanent in the universe by which physical systems generate and regulate their organization and behavior, obviating the need for any metaphysical or supernatural element, ingredient, or force, to explain them. In this worldview, the idea of God is a concept for which there actually is no place or role, because the creative and control functions of the universe are immanent in the system.”

    Ok, so far, so not-so-good. But then there’s the utopian vision of a world without theism towards the end:

    “Among the prime consequences of a materialist worldview such as this are concerns that we live in a meaningless universe, one with no moral or social core, no absolute values and nothing to prevent us from killing one another or simply doing whatever we feel like because there’s no price to pay to God—the scourge of moral relativism. This is part of the barrier that prevents our evolving from theologically inclined people to scientifically inclined people, and a glaring example of the paternalistic approach to humans that is the core and hallmark of belief in gods. We are children and need the Father, the Lord, someone to tell us what to do, how to behave, and give us rewards and punishments when we behave well or badly. This is the essence of a parent-child relationship. We need someone to tell us what to do because we don’t know, can’t figure it out for ourselves, and are apparently too uncivilized to create our own rules of conduct and morality. Thus, we need commandments.”

    He then goes on a diatribe describing theism as a need for parenting, which we as adults are no longer in need of. We don’t need commandments, because we already instinctively know what is right and wrong, and we can figure things out on our own. Commandments are for children, whereas choices are for “grownups.” Yes, he uses that term.

    Children don’t need choices? Adults don’t need rules?

    But I love the last part where he cites the United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights–:”

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

    –as the new universal guide for human behavior because it contains “no commandments.”

    Really?

    “Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,”

    In other words: “Thou shalt respect the rights of others”.

    If this guy ever becomes influential (apparently he is not because I couldn’t find him on Wikipedia, nor his book on Amazon – and for that I’m thankful) :) we ought to pack our bags and run. What sort of choices is his atheist utopia going to provide us? Incidentally, the UNUDOHR dictates religious freedom and the freedom of conscience. How can we have freedom of conscience in an atheist utopia where the conscience is alleged to not exist?

    The Marxists had very lofty ideas about freedom and choice too. In fact the Soviet Union was a prime example of those Marxist freedoms – freedom to be an atheist OR ELSE!, freedom to not be burdened with land ownership, freedom to stand in long lines for scarce food and become acquainted with your other comrades, freedom to write in newspapers and report on radios what the state wants you to write and report, freedom of the government to spy on you if they think you’re out of line, freedom to live where the government assigns you to live, freedom to vacation at the gulag for no apparent reason, freedom to go to a church (now a museum) dedicated to the defeat of religion by the state, and greatest of all, freedom to not have to bother voting.

    Are these secularists the new Marxists? Scary

  156. CY & SB (and onlookers, and Molch et al):

    You have neatly summarised how ever so much of Neo-Ahteism is a case of selective hyperskepticism in action.

    It is worth pausing to excerpt Simin greenleaf’s rearks fromt he just linked:

    The error of the skeptic [i.e. selective hyperskepticism] consists in pretending or supposing that there is a difference in the nature of things to be proved; and in demanding demonstrative evidence concerning things which are not susceptible of any other than moral evidence alone, and of which the utmost that can be said is, that there is no reasonable doubt about their truth . . . .

    [27] . . . . In proceeding to weigh the evidence of any proposition of fact, the previous question to be determined is, when may it be said to be proved? The answer to this question is furnished by another rule of municipal law, which may be thus stated:

    A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence.

    By competent evidence, is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence, is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt [as opposed to UNREASONABLE doubt]. . . . . If, therefore, the subject is a problem in mathematics, its truth is to be shown by the certainty of demonstrative evidence [SG was almost 100 years too early to know the limitations of Mathematics established by Godel in the 1930's]. But if it is a question of fact in human affairs, nothing more than moral evidence can be required, for this is the best evidence which, from the nature of the case, is attainable. Now as the facts, stated in Scripture History, are not of the former kind, but are cognizable by the senses, they may be said to be proved when they are established by that kind and degree of evidence which, as we have just observed, would, in the affairs of human life, satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man. [Testimony, Sections 26, 27, emphases added.]

    (Onlookers, observe how at no point whatsoever above, has M or any other member of his ilk seriously addressed the incoherence of either radical or selective hyperskepticism as exposed in the above linked. Nor have they appreciated the point that a worldview is a matter of a cumulative case that like a rope draws overall strength from bringing its components together, in a context where much of the substance has to be assessed on induction and comparison of alternatives, per our experience of the world as conscious, intelligent, reasoning, enconscienced creatures and the authenticated record of history, not deduction from some mythical set of axioms accepted by all rational creatures.)

    The declaration that there is “no evidence” for theism, apart from what skeptics love to denigrate piecemeal as “fallacious arguments” — instead of recognising that worldviews have to be assessed through comparative difficulties in light of self-evident first principles of right reason.

    In particular, by spending time on the attack instead of seriously and fairly assessing alternatives, they distract themselves and others from those of naturalistic, scientism-based evolutionary materialism.

    The Saganian form of the self-refuting Cliffordian evidentialism is a particular favourite and is the root of today’s ever so fallacious skeptical mantra:

    extraordinary claims require extraordinary ADEQUATE AND REASONABLE evidence

    Greenleaf plainly anticipated just this sort of error in the excerpt above, by a century. What makes a claim “extraordinary”? Simple: it cuts across our expectations, which in turn are driven by our underlying worldview commitments on first plausibles, indoctrination and particular experiences. So, the Sagan aphorism is little more than an assertion that if something does not accord with his preferred secularist, naturalistic evoilutionary materialist atheism, he would only accept it if it amounted to a sort of level of proof that not even mathematics nowadays can claim; full-bore deductive certainty on indisputable axioms.

    Cleverly packaged question-begging, selectively hyperskeptical Lewontinian-style a priori materialism, in short.

    Worse, the exaggerated form “there is no evidence for god” is an outright willful inexcusable lie by suppression of easily accessible truth one knows or should know:

    1 –> MILLIONS of people across history and in the current world, testify to having come to meet and have a living, life transforming relationship with God, in the face of the risen Christ.

    2 –> Such is personal testimony on personal experience, backed up by transformation of life and impact on the course of civilisations. And, it is simply arrogant contempt to sweep it all away as delusion.

    3 –> Worse, if it is all delusion, that if it were true, it immediately implies that the human mind is so prone to delusions driven by accidents of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning that we have no good grounds for trusting any testimony or reasoning. Including evolutionary materialistic reasoning.

    4 –> Next, Starting with a circle of 500+ eyewitnesses, in the 30′s AD, the Christian faith has testified to the impact of the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth in fulfillment of prophecies then centuries old, and against extreme odds, has prevailed. That core testimony was so confidently held that, on trial for his life, this is what the leading C1 Missionary (and former leading persecutor of the Christian faith, who testified to being personally arrested by the risen Christ right there in the course of his testimony) had to say, c. 60 AD, in the very jurisdiction where the events happened, and where that ever so eloquently empty tomb stood:

    Acts 26:8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? . . . .

    19 “So then, King Agrippa [having recounted the story of his encounter with the risen Christ and commission as a messenger], I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

    24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

    25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? [alludes to Is 52:13 - 53:12 etc, hundreds of prophetic messianic references altogether] I know you do.”

    28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

    29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

    5 –> Remember, this is the former leading persecutor of the Christians. If there were decisive facts against the Christian testimony, he would have known them, and he would have been immune to any claims to the contrary. But plainly, that eloquently empty tomb and its surrounding circumstances spoke, as did those who had been healed, liberated and transformed by the power of that resurrection.

    6 –> On trial for his life, and with the very leaders of his nation as his opponents in court, what does he do? HE CALLS THE KING AND JUDGE HIMSELF AS HIS CHIEF WITNESS FOR THE DEFENSE THAT WHAT HE SAYS IS TRUE AND REASONABLE, HAVING FIRST DEMANDED AN EXPLANATION FOR THE SKEPTICAL DENIAL OF THE POSSIBILITY THAT GOD SHOULD RAISE THE DEAD.

    7 –> And, the judge is unable to dismiss the truth, but plays the usual politically correct evasion, trying to change the subject.

    8 –> And, the record of this (made within a few years) has been authenticated and comes from good chain of custody. There is no good reason to dismiss it because it is inconvenient.

    9 –> Historical and living experience of a Miracle-working, life transforming God, skeptics, is evidence (and is often decisive).

    [ . . . ]

  157. 10 –> Shifting to the broader generic case for theism, we can briefly point to the evidence of design in our world, and of our world.

    a: It is now notorious that there are no counter-examples to the observation that digitally coded, linguistically or algorithmically functionally specific, complex information — whenever we directly see the source — comes from intelligence.

    b: Nor is there credible reason to suppose that chance and necessity acting on the gamut of our observed cosmos, can produce 500 – 1,000 + bits worth of such dFSCI, the relevant subset of complex, specified information.

    c: So, we are inductively entitled to infer that dFSCI is a reliable signature of intelligently directed configuration, i.e. design. Thus, the living cell with its algorithmically functional dFSCI is evidence of the design of life. (Nor do we see any credible, empirically well-warranted spontaneous abiogenesis on chance + necessity model.)

    d: The same obtains for explaining the origin of the 10′s of mega bits or more worth of additional dFSCI to account for embryologically feasible novel body plans, dozens of times over, starting with the Cambrian life revolution. (The evolutionary materialistic answer is not to provide evidence, but as we have repeatedly shown, to a priori rule out design of life or biodiversity by what amounts to a power coup in the instittutions of science.)

    e: The cumulative case gets stronger when we multiply by the recognition that the physics of our observed cosmos sits at a finely tuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life.

    f: This points to a super-powerful extra-cosmic super-intellect who in Hoyle’s words, “monkeyed” with the physics to set such up. best candidate fort such a designer of the universe who set it up for life then put life in it: God. (Which is why such an inference on empirical evidence is so stoutly resisted by the committed materialists.)

    g: But, clearly, evidence of such design is evidence that, at worldview alternatives level, to the unprejudiced mind plainly and strongly points to God.

    11 –> Evidence of strawman distortion can be seen from comparing a genuine version of the cosmological argument with the above typical skeptical caricature, courtesy CY:

    SKEPTICAL CARICATURE: COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT, a.k.a. FIRST CAUSE ARGUMENT (I)
    (1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause.
    (2) I say the universe must have a cause.
    (3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
    (4) Therefore, God exists.

    GENUINE (as previously linked; remember, this is one component of a cumulative case on inference to best explanation): B. Cosmological:

    (NB: This appears out of the classical order, as IMHO it makes A far more clear if this is done, by distinguishing and rationalising “contingent” and “necessary” beings. This is an example of a cumulative argument.)

    1. Some contingent beings exist. (E.g.: us, a tree or a fruit, an artifact, the planets and stars, etc. — anything that might not have existed, i.e. is caused.)

    2. Contingent beings do not exist by themselves – that is in part what “contingent” means – so they require a necessary being as their ultimate cause.

    3. If any contingent being exists, then a necessary being exists.
    _______________________

    4. Thus, there exists a necessary being, the ultimate cause of the existence of the many contingent beings in the cosmos.

    12 –> Notice how the principle of causality is caricatured and projected as though it were an egotistical question-begging. Can skeptics produce a case where an effect occurs without a cause, where we recognise that causes can be contributory, necessary, or sufficient, or even necessary and sufficient? That is, what is the evidence that something can and does come form nothing or anything, anytime, with no constraints? Plainly, no and none respectivley. (Even quantum effects like radioactivity and the photo-effect come form antecedent circumstances and are constrained — they are examples of physical order, not chaos.)

    13 –> So, on widely supported induction, we are entitled to the principle of causality, and it is those who object who have a burden of proof to explain and justify themselves.

    14 –> So, the attempt to dismissively assert “I say . . . ” is an exercise in illegitimate burden of proof shifting, and ducking the implication that the denial of causality is tantamount to accepting a chaos not a cosmos as reality — undercutting the key premises of science and even of reason itself.

    15 –> Amplifying the last, the denial of causality [especially, refusal to recognise that a necessary causal factor is a causal factor] leads to a reductio to absurdum by undercutting science and rationality.

    16 –> Now, we live in a world of many contingent beings, and a world that on general scientific opinion had a datable beginning, typically estimated at 13.7 BYA. So, that world — remember, one that has physics set at a finely tuned operating point that supports C chemistry, cell based life — credibly requires an adequate cause.

    17 –> Going beyond, in addition to the category of contingent beings, it is logically possible that we have necessary beings, which do not need causes as they did not come to be nor do they depend on any particular circumstantial order to continue to exist. That is such a being would be self-explanatory and sufficient in itself.

    18 –> this is the basis for the point that if a world of contingent beings exists, and in an observed cosmos that is also contingent, then — by logical necessity — these beings depend for their existence on a higher order of being. (This is a big part of why Hawking et al want to suggest that our universe emerged by fluctuation from a higher order cosmos. In the old days, the observed cosmos was thought to be in a steady state of matter creation from the vacuum, but that ran into difficulties, leaving he big bang as the most credible explanation, which has a beginning. So, the hunt has been on for a begin-ner.)

    19 –> At least one of those higher order beings will need to be not only logically necessary but ontologically necessary. That is, without beginning and not dependent on any other being for its existence.

    20 –> That is, “there exists a necessary being, the ultimate cause of the existence of the many contingent beings in the cosmos.”

    21 –> It is on other evidence, that cumulatively, we can identify the best candidate for that necessary being as God. But, by suppressing or similarly caricaturing that wider context,and by refusing to put the alternative assumptions on the table for a comparative difficulties exercise, the argument can be made to sound weak.

    22 –> For instance, a great many people have experience of meeting and being transformed in life by God. Similarly, that we find ourselves morally obligated — implied by skeptics when they appeal to the reality of evil — implies that there is a foundational is for the cosmos that so intrinsically embeds good, that OUGHT is grounded in that IS. Also, the implied reality of evil entails that there is a world beyond material reality, and that we are morally bound by the grounding reality of that world

    23 –> To deny these, skeptics are forced to first imply — on consistency — that he mind is so prone to delusion that all rationality and experience are open to question.

    24 –> Similarly, evolutionary materialism has in it no is that grounds ought, so the appeal to the repulsiveness of evil begins to look like manipulative rhetoric that plays on the delusional emotions that we should be fair to one another and should steward our common world. The resulting world of amoral might makes right is its own refutation.

    25 –> Of course, a world in which chaos reigns, so that things happen without causal constraint or control, is a world that cannot be intelligible, and rationality — thus, Science — would evaporate.

    ____________

    Apart from the likes of a Nietzsche — whom such are ever wont to distance themselves from — one looks in vain for a frank self-driven, full and fair facing of the comparative difficulties challenges of such skeptical atheism grounded on naturalistic evolutionary materialist premises.

    But even more plainly, the mantra: there is no evidence, is revealed as a rhetorical gambit based on question-begging dismissal of the evidence that is there for all who are but willing to see and take it seriously.

    GEM of TKI

  158. CY:

    The problem has been well-known since 360 BC, when Plato wrote The Laws, Bk X:

    ________________

    >> Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them. >>
    __________________

    Nor is this just a dusty remark in an old, all but forgotten work — as 100 million ghosts from the last century moan out a grim warning.

    In his recent USA Today article, professor Coyne [the very same addressed by VJT in the OP] does not seem to be aware of the implications of his fulminations that:

    Atheist books such as The God Delusion and The End of Faith have, by exposing the dangers of faith and the lack of evidence for the God of Abraham, become best-sellers. Science nibbles at religion from the other end, relentlessly consuming divine explanations and replacing them with material ones. Evolution took a huge bite a while back, and recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head . . .

    In short, he here first cheers on the outrageous slanders of the Neo-Atheists against not only God but religious believers, falsely portraying believers in God as a menace to society and to freedom. Where was the national and international outcry against such blatant bigotry and hate speech?

    Chirping crickets.

    Going on, when you reduce BEHAVIOUR — which includes cognitive, volitional and moral behaviour — to lumps of jelly in skulls, you fall into the trap long ago outlined by Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    This is the very same trap Crick fell into in his The Astonishing Hypothesis of 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Such materialism is immediately self-defeating, as Haldane pointed out and as I detailed here in my recent UD post. In a nutshell, once thoughts, decisions etc are physically caused and/or psycho-socially determined, one has implied that reason is delusion, and that mechanical necessity and accidental circumstances determine thought, choice and action. Including those of the very materialists themselves.

    Reductio ad absurdum.

    The implications for morality, though are even more dangerous.

    For instance, let us excerpt the Provine 1998 Darwin Day lecture at U Tenn [yes, as in the state of the Scopes trial 80-odd years ago]:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them . . .

    And so, who controls the keys to the institutions will determine, based on their own power, just who need to be locked up and rehabilitated in the prisons and wards for the insane. As happened in the Soviet Union. [And this is in direct response to Provine's naive remark nearly a decade after that atheistical tyranny collapsed: "Without free will, justification for revenge disappears and rehabilitation is the main job of judicial systems and prisons."]

    1984 is arriving a little late . . .

    Will Hawthorne is devastating:

    Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces]. (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.) Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action. Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action. (This is just the standard inferential scheme for formal deontic logic.) We’ve conformed to standard principles and inference rules of logic and we’ve started out with assumptions that atheists have conceded in print. And yet we reach the absurd conclusion: therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’. For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

    Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit. Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can’t infer ‘ought’ from ‘is’.

    That chill wind you feel is special delivery from Siberia.

    GEM of TKI

  159. This is a very fascinating thread, awash with a wealth of exciting arguments that the average believer can use to bolster his personal faith, defend it, and spread it more effectively to his skeptical friends and family members.

    For me one of the best evidences that God is real comes from the occurence of miracles. There are numerous miracles being reported every month from all around the world, aids and deadly cancers are being cured daily, blindness is being reversed, and so the list goes on. I live in Africa where faith healing is like an industry on its own, it’s a part of everday life for many Africans. Perhaps not all of these healings are authentic, but some certainly are.

    I have been to churches were genuinly sick people make up the prayer lines, not actors wearing makeup, I can assure you these people are truly sick, suffering from a variety of illnesses, aids, TB, cancer, blindness paralysis.

    I have seen people with full blown aids, bony people who do not have half the strength to support their little weight brought into churches on mattresses and exit the church on their feet and return a week or month later healthy and well-fed with incredible testimonies.

    These aren’t once off events they happen commonly. I would refer any interested readers to the following website: http://WWW.scoan.org, this website belongs to a church headed by one pastor TB Joshua, an endless list of documented healings have occurred at this church and continue occuring, instant births, kidney stones and other objects have come out of people at the command of TB Joshua. Just visit the site better yet visit the church in Lagos Nigeria.

    On one occasion TB Joshua asked a skeptic in the congregation to pray for a lame woman, to everyones amazement the lame woman stood up and started walking. GOD can use any tool for his glory even the hands of a skeptic.

    Besides healings TB Joshua has made numerous prophecies all are available on his website above. The amazing thing about this prophecies is the fact that they are aired live to many parts of the world before the events they describe becomee actual. A recent prophecy which I believe hasn’t yet taken place states that a president will lose his son in a plane accident, TB Joshua gave the propbecy at least a month ago, and he said that he would expand on this prophecy in the future.

    Another pastor who even evens out uneven leg lenghts and prays for fill-blown Aids victims is known prophet Kobus Van Rensburg, his church Spirit Word Ministries is located in Klerksdorp South Afica. Both these pastors capture their healings on video.

  160. F/N: Documentation from one of those “Onlookers” at UD. Thanks, Cita.

    We owe it to the ghosts of millions to watch these grim videos. G

  161. By the way TB Joshua has an article dedicated to him on Wikipedia, its an interesting article I would urge anyone to read it to get a basic understanding of who be is.

  162. RS:

    The fact that I am alive, that I can sit up to type, that I have the breath to type are all the result of miraculous answers to prayer.

    Most of all, the prayer of release to God when my mother, having nursed me through the night with asthma, at dawn surrendered me to God, as my suffering was too great to bear.

    That was the day that on errors we walked out of Oxford med centre, right into the door of the open taxi with the driver who said: Asthma, I know just the doctor to take him to.

    That saved my life.

    And, when asthma resurged in the aftermath of the volcano here, I was called up for prayer by name while in Barbados; in my second home church. That is the point where the asthma went back under control.

    I recall the workplace checkup doctor later, who on hearing the report, smiled and said that this was no surprise.

    GEM of TKI

  163. 163

    KF,

    I thought my last two posts might spark some further evaluation. I have seriously considered Siberia. At the rate our freedoms are being limited, it doesn’t seem that far off. Liberators often see themselves as better than the regimes they’re liberating others from. With that belief, the Soviets liberated Eastern Germany at the end of WWII.

    Democracy is not something that is derived apart from a recognition of human freedom and dignity. The secularists have failed to demonstrate that such a concept can be established on materialistic grounds, and they have the witness of history to contend with.

    Even the author of that magnificent atheistic manifesto I quoted from acknowledged that atheism “provides no understanding of the nature of the universe; it is simply a denial of the existence of God and it is essentially useless as a contribution to our understanding of the world.”

    And he clearly understands that atheism provides no moral guide; yet he declares that we instinctively know what is right and wrong without a need for such a moral guide. Tell that to the victims of Milosovic, Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, Castro, Pol Pot, Ceausescu, Amin and a host of others.

    I just wonder whose lump of jelly is going to determine the freedoms of the next generation.

  164. 164

    Sure wish we could edit here: “who’s lump of jelly…”

  165. 165

    KF

    “We owe it to the ghosts of millions to watch these grim videos.”

    I watched the video yesterday and read all the literature provided on this incident.

    I tried to find information on it from Wikipedia, and could find none – kind of sad, really. Tito’s biography there shows him to be rather mild.

  166. CY: (Capitalization mine):

    “Your premise is based on a faulty assumption that the person who believes in reincarnation cares that there is the kind of evidence for reincarnation as the Christian cares that there is evidence for the resurrection. Such is not NECESSARILY the case.”

    The capitalized word is the crucial word that shows where your argument fails. Of course that is not NECESSARILY the case. In fact, as you correctly point out, there are lots of Christians, just like there are lots of Hindus, etc. ”who have more of an experiential than an evidential form of faith.” But just like you again correctly point out that is not true for EVERY Christian, it likewise does not allow you to categorically claim that this is the case for EVERY non-Christian and EVERY non-Christian truth claim, as you indeed do. There are plenty of people in this world whose core world-view, e.g. re-incarnation, is indeed evidence-based, who feel just as justified to say this:

    “If a belief in Christianity did not exist and reincarnation did, reincarnation would still be true based on evidence. It doesn’t become less truthful because there are other truth claims that oppose it.”

    …as you feel justified to say this:

    “If a belief in reincarnation did not exist and Christianity did, Christianity would still be true based on evidence. It doesn’t become less truthful because there are other truth claims that oppose it.”

    I said: “For so far completely unexplained reasons, you claim that this statement is uniquely justifiable if y is a god, as opposed to any other concept in any other world-view.”

    You replied: “I claim the statement is justifiable for the reasons I and others here have already explained.”

    No. Explaining why you think your belief in the Judeo-Christian god is supported by good evidence does absolutely nothing to justify either the claim that beliefs in other world-views are categorically NOT based on evidence, or alternatively, that the uncounted pieces of evidence for the uncounted varieties of other world-views are categorically less valuable than your pieces of evidence without you ever having to look at them.

    “it is really meaningless for you to charge a failure in justification without providing us with evidence”

    You still don’t seem to understand that I don’t charge a failure in justification of your world-view. What I AM doing is criticize YOUR charge of failure in justification of ANY non-Christian world-view claiming that their justifications CATEGORICALLY fail. MY evidence is completely irrelevant to this argument. The most important part of YOUR argument is that MY evidence, just as everybody else’s arguments and pieces of evidence are IRRELEVANT, remember:

    “I have no evidence that x occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that y is true, and x is incompatible with that truth”

    YOU SAID: “That is exactly correct.”

    But you still fail to justify why only a Christian should be allowed to say this.

  167. Below is an except from the Wikipedia article about T.B. Joshua:

    Reported miraculous activities
    Healing and health-related events
    Instantaneous baby deliveries,[20] healing of
    cancerous sores, the HIV/AIDS virus,[21]
    barrenness, and raising from the dead,[22] all
    through prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, are
    among the reported miraculous activities taking
    place at the SCOAN. In September 2008, it was
    reported that a man who had been mentally ill for
    14 years was restored to sanity and reunited with
    his family.[23] Spiritual healing at The SCOAN has
    been mentioned by Time magazine.[24][25]
    Thousands from across Africa attend his monthly
    healing services.[26]
    Many also testify to being healed through
    ‘anointing water’ from the SCOAN.[27][28]

    It’s amazing that not many people even in Africa are aware of this man and the miracles associated with him. Yet Monthly at his church feats that defy logic and science occur.

  168. Molch:

    Could you please put up a short summary of the key warranting argument of your worldview, or simply a link?

    (Such would probably take no more effort than one of your usual posts.)

    GEM of TKI

  169. CannuckianYankee, Michael Egnor has responded to P.Z. Myers:

    New Atheist Atheology
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....39891.html

  170. 170

    Go Michael Egnor

  171. 171

    molch,

    “But you still fail to justify why only a Christian should be allowed to say this.”

    Well first of all, I never said that someone is not allowed to believe what they believe. They certainly are. Freedom to believe what one chooses to believe is the backbone of freedom and democracy.

    In that freedom to believe, I’m perfectly justified in saying that Jesus is the Savior of not only past and present Christians, but all others who come to faith in him. I rest my faith in Jesus on the resurrection. If the resurrection occurred Jesus is justified in the claim as Savior. It’s not then my own justification, but Jesus’. My justification rests on him.

    Show us that the resurrection didn’t occur and you might have a case, but until you do, I and others who believe are perfectly justified. And justification takes on much more meaning than simply our world-view foundation.

    That justification is not only for me, but for everyone who believes, including the one who once believed in reincarnation and the one who once was an atheist, as I and several others on this Blog once were.

    Where does your justification come from?

  172. 172

    BA,

    I think Egnor sums up new atheism quite well:

    “New Atheism is an intellectual and moral vacuum. It’s all sneer, mockery, self-contradiction, and juvenilia. New Atheists aren’t defenders of “science and reason.” The inverse is true. They misrepresent science and reason for ideological ends. New Atheists have no answers to the fundamental questions of man. They don’t even have coherent attempts to answer the questions. They don’t understand the profound insights of classical theism. Most New Atheists don’t even understand the questions. And their nihilistic atheist superstition denies even the most basic imperatives of Moral Law.”

  173. CY, Egnor was clearly hitting on all cylinders with that article:

    CY you may appreciate this song:

    He’s Alive – Dolly Parton – 1989 CMA – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbRPWUHM80M

    That song is a favorite of mine for it was what the band at our church played after we got back from this following ‘strange’ Easter sunrise service:

    Miracle Testimony – One Easter Sunday Sunrise Service – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995314

  174. 174

    I should mention that not all atheists are like Myers. A great many who I have encountered have an intensity to their intellect and integrity. I still, however, sense some incongruence with this and their atheistic ideology. There certainly is a disconnect.

    The new atheists are being more true behaviorally to their ideology in my view. They are the ones we need to keep a close watch on for the sake of our freedoms and our democracy.

  175. The deep, dark secret of the dwindling New Atheist movement is that the ‘leaders’ gave up on trying to convince very informed, well-read people of their position early on. They shifted their focus to picking up the easily bullied people (you can see Dawkins saying as much flatly) who are either ignorant, committed for political reasons largely, or just plain ‘not too bright’ (herd-followers, foot soldiers.)

    Have you noticed the considerable number of self-described agnostics who have distanced themselves from the NAs (Sorry, the ‘gnus’) over the past couple years? The above is why. The gnu ranks ended up flooded with dumb, loud, angry people. On the upside, these people are also tremendously easy to lead and fleece. (Witness how quickly so many took to calling themselves ‘gnus’, and how much money they spent on trinkets to buy.. uh.. Dawkins’ webmaster a new house.)

  176. 176

    BA,

    Thanks for the Dolly vid (I love Dolly) and testimony vid. Very well done. I think you posted that vid a while ago. I remember it.

  177. 177

    null,

    I have a tendency to shy away from any charismatic leader. They usually end up with only their own groupies who are easily convinced. When the thinking man/woman understands their deceptions for what they are, they recognize that it’s time to move on. For me this applies to political leaders, religious leaders, and pretty much anyone who draws attention to themselves.

    “Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters.” :)
    B. Dylan

    Anyway, obviously there are leaders I respect. They are usually the ones who keep me focused on Christ, rather than on themselves.

    Atheist movements are necessarily personality driven, as there’s no higher authority. I think this is why they are always doomed to failure; however, much damage can be done prior to the downfall, as history has shown.

  178. Okay:

    In absence of M’s summary of the warrant for his worldview or a link to something that represents him, let’s abstract PZM’s responses to Egnor as a sample of Neo-Atheist thought. (One would be well advised to read the full remarks by Dr Egnor.):

    _______________

    >>1) Why is there anything?

    Myers: ? Nothing is unstable.

    2) What caused the Universe??

    Myers: Nothing caused it.?

    3) Why is there regularity (Law) in nature??

    Myers’ answer: We wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t.?

    4) Of the Four Causes in nature proposed by Aristotle (material, formal, efficient, and final), which of them are real? Do final causes exist??

    Myers’ answer: Material & efficient. How bizarre to think Aristotle is even relevant, except as a historical factor, or that ancient categories are apposite.

    5) Why do we have subjective experience, and not merely objective existence??

    Myer’s answer: “An epiphenomenon of the fact of instantiation.?”

    6) Why is the human mind intentional, in the technical philosophical sense of aboutness, which is the referral to something besides itself?

    Myers’ answer: Because minds aren’t isolated, but a product of brain + environment.?

    7) Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an artifact of nature (natural selection, etc.)?

    Myers’ answer: It doesn’t.?

    8) Why is there evil?

    Myers’ answer: Evil is simply anti-human, and most of the universe is against us. >>
    _______________

    Collins English Dict will help:

    nothing [?n????]
    pron
    1. (indefinite) no thing; not anything, as of an implied or specified class of things I can give you nothing
    2. no part or share to have nothing to do with this crime
    3. a matter of no importance or significance it doesn’t matter, it’s nothing
    4. indicating the absence of anything perceptible; nothingness
    5. indicating the absence of meaning, value, worth, etc. to amount to nothing
    6. zero quantity; nought

    Nothing of course, is NO-THING. As such, it has no properties, is nowhere, and cannot cause anything. This is the first absurdity.

    Second, we may “liberally” interpret PZM’s no 2 — nothing caused the universe — as implying that he holds the wider cosmos, as speculated per multiverse ideas, is a necessary being. On such a view, he accepts the force of the Cosmological argument in its genuine form, and this opens up the comparative difficulties case, which candidate for necessary being makes best sense of ALL the evidence?

    The notion that since we are here the universe has to have been orderly is a side-tracking irrelevancy. the fine-tuned physical order that sets the cosmos to an operating point that supports the possibility of C-chemistry, cell based life is one of the strongest pointers to a supreme intelligence as the author of the cosmos. PZM is ducking the bouncer, and pretending he has hit a four.

    Chronological snobbery against Aristotle is most unfortunate, yet another case of the proverbial live donkey kicking a dead lion. Even Wiki is of help here:

    Aristotle held that there were four kinds of causes:[1]

    * A thing’s material cause is the material of which it consists. (For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.)
    * A thing’s formal cause is its form, i.e. the arrangement of that matter.
    * A thing’s efficient or moving cause[2] is “the primary source of the change or rest.” An efficient cause of x can be present even if x is never actually produced and so should not be confused with a sufficient cause.[3] (Aristotle argues that, for a table, this would be the art of table-making, which is the principle guiding its creation.)[1]
    * A thing’s final cause is its aim or purpose. (For a seed, it might be an adult plant. For a sailboat, it might be sailing. For a ball at the top of a ramp, it might be coming to rest at the bottom.)

    The four-causes analysis is obviously a valid way of looking at things in light of what they are made from, why they are made and how that is effected, and to what end they are made; of course, depending on perspective there may be diverse answers tot he questions. (Other causal analyses are possible: contributory, sustaining, necessary, sufficient, necessary and sufficient factors, etc.)

    PZM’s answers to 5, 6 and 7 reveal the underlying evolutionary materialistic dilemma on man, mind and morality. Reducing mind to brain, and onward to matter in motion under forces of chance and necessity across time, ends in all sorts of absurdities, and undercuts the credibility of mind. For, such causal forces are a-logical, and cause is not equivalent to logically adequate grounds. That is, it is very hard for materialists to address te import that the mind is inescapably untrustworthy and delusional on their premises.

    Similarly, they cannot ground the very first fact: our self-aware conscious experience of the world and ability to focus our attention on things external to ourselves.

    Most worryingly, PZM sees the inherent amorality of such evolutionary materialism, but apparently does not recognise the extremely dangerous implications of such amorality.

    In that context, the warped perception of evil and the cosmos, are chilling.

    Of course, it is a fair inference that all of the views above are held to be properly rooted in “Science,” i.e. Lewontinian style a priori materialism imposed on scientific reasoning, especially on origins.

    It is high time for fresh thinking.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: A 101 level survey of the grounding warrant for the Christian faith is here. (Cf responses to the classical skeptical objections here, and a survey of the minimal facts approach here.) Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is not mere blind faith flying in the teeth of rationality — as opposed to rationalism.

  179. F/N: CARM has a useful index page on atheism themes, neatly counter-balancing Infidels dot org’s introductions here. It is highly significant, BTW, that the logo on the American Atheists site is a sun-and-planets picture of the atom, i.e. the flag that they fly is “science,” i.e. evolutionary materialism. The other major atheist arguments primarily ring off the problem of evil [a bit out of date, post Plantinga, though I have seen some rhetorical distortions of P's point (e.g. equating a defence with a theodicy) that work to make the ill-informed think his case was answered or is ridiculous], and the “no evidence,” selectively hyperskeptical evidentialist claim.

    Here are some excerpts from CARM’s definitional survey:

    __________________

    >>Whichever definition you accept, atheism denies God.

    * “An atheist is someone who believes and/or knows there is no god.”
    * “An atheist lacks belief in a god.”
    * “An atheist exercises no faith in the concept of god at all.”
    * “An atheist is someone who is free from religious oppression and bigotry.”
    * “An atheist is someone who is a free-thinker, free from religion and its ideas.”

    [These all ring off the point that they recognise that to make a universal negative claim to know there is no God, while being finite and fallible with an extremely limited knowledge base, and with the old "evil exposes a contradiction in the idea of God" argument shot down by Plantinga a generation ago, they have to use a weak form definition.]

    [ . . . ]

    Atheist positions seem to fall into two main categories. The first is the lack-of-evidence category where the atheist asserts that the supporting evidence isn’t good enough for him to affirm God’s existence. The second is the category where the athiest believes that the idea of God’s existence is illogical and contrary to the evidence at hand. To simplify, one position says there isn’t enough evidence to conclude that God exists, and the other position says the evidence is contrary to God’s existence.

    [ . . . ]

    there is no definitive atheist organization that defines the absolutes of atheism, but there are basic principles that atheists, as a whole, tend to adopt . . . The only absolute common one to which they hold is that they do not believe in a God or gods.

    1. There is no God or devil.
    2. There is no supernatural realm.
    3. Miracles cannot occur.
    4. There is no such thing as sin as a violation of God’s will.
    5. Generally, the universe is materialistic and measurable.
    6. Man is material.
    7. Generally, evolution is considered a scientific fact.
    8. Ethics and morals are relative. >>
    _____________________

    These views have some pretty serious and hard to defend implications, many of which arguably reduce the atheist to lacking grounds for the credibility of mind, for the experienced binding force of morals [implied by their appeal to the repugnance of evil in one of their favourite arguments, which rebounds against them], and for the cohesiveness of civilisation and liberty premised on mutual respect for the in-build rights we have. (It is no accident that the US Declaration of Independence of 1776 is explicitly Creationist: “All men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights . . . “)

    GEM of TKI

  180. F/N 2: An interesting podcast (mainly on the Cosmological argument) by Frank Turek.

  181. F/N 3: An interesting illustration of what happens when the first principles of right reason are rejected or neglected (as is common with Neo-Atheists and those influenced by them or by similar teachings):

    [M to CY,166:] Explaining why you think your belief in the Judeo-Christian god [oh, how often there is the begrudging of a capital letter!] is supported by good evidence does absolutely nothing to justify either the claim that beliefs in other world-views are categorically NOT based on evidence, or alternatively, that the uncounted pieces of evidence for the uncounted varieties of other world-views are categorically less valuable than your pieces of evidence without you ever having to look at them . . . . What I AM doing is criticize YOUR charge of failure in justification of ANY non-Christian world-view claiming that their justifications CATEGORICALLY fail . . .

    a –> This argument rests on implicit rejection of the principle of non-contradiction [A and NOT-A cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, truth being understood as accurate reference to reality], multiplied by refusal to examine/ a priori rejection of the positive evidence for the Christian faith. Or else — and more likely, a selectively applied radical relativism that is just as much a rejection of the first principles of right reason.

    b –> My reason for this comment, is that if the positive case for the core Christian faith [as is summarised in the AD 55 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 and prophesied in the 700 BC Isa 52:12 - 53:13, and multiplied by the direct experience of millions of life-transforming encounter with God in the face of the risen Christ] is well-warranted and credibly true, then you have good reason to reject anything that contradicts that. (M has in fact applied same concept in claiming that since he has — presumably on claimed good grounds [though he has been a bit non-forthcoming on the grounds] — concluded atheism, he rejects what differs from it. Thus, my remarks on selective application just above.)

    c –> In short, well-warranted positive evidence for the truth of the core Christian faith is a decisive defeater for that which contradicts it. As, would decisive positive evidence for atheism, or pantheism etc.

    d –> The positive evidence for the Christian faith has already been linked. Onlookers are invited to examine for themselves.

    e –> Such does not contradict the concept that people in other situations or traditions may or may not have real experiences of God. Indeed, the explicit teaching of the core NT theology is that just such happens to every sufficiently competent person to be reasonable:

    Rom 1:19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse . . . .

    Rom 2:14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

    f –> The creation of the world, our consciousness, the power of mind and the presence of conscience jointly testify to our Creator. We may also have personal experiences of the transcendent. We may accept such evidence and experiences, reject them, or misunderstand them; usually we have a blend of all three. (That’s why straight thinking in light of right reason and well warranted evidence is so important in untwisting our sometimes ever so easily confused or deceived minds and hearts. Such corrective resources are sufficiently available and accessible that we have no excuse.)

    g –> So, the proper place to begin is (i) the common evidence that we have, which grounds theism as the best explanation of the world as we experience it, and (ii) the positive evidence for the core gospel, which grounds the acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and risen Saviour, also the related acceptance of the NT and OT of the Bible as an authentic record of the gospel and the instructions of God for life.

    h –> Of course, if there is in fact good warrant for say evolutionary materialistic atheism, then that would be good warrant to reject the existence of God, Jesus, the Bible and the gospel. But, such warrant has to be shown not merely asserted or mistakenly believed on inadequate evidence.

    i –> One of the worst consequences of believing an unwarranted and false worldview — and of course, Christians provide reasons why the faith is not merely subjective opinion but well warranted, and credibly true — is that because we accept it, we are inclined to reject that which is true on the grounds of its contradiction to what we THINK is true. In fact, Jesus warned some people in his day who were in a sad case indeed on precisely this problem:

    Jn 8: 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say . . . 45 . . . because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! . . . 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

    j –> Of course, a big part of M’s view above is that he thinks that his atheism is well warranted and so he can afford to reject other claims that differ, then can cast the claimed support for the one as an objection to the other: you Christians reject gods a through y, we only add z.

    k –> This is why we have repeatedly invited M to at least put forth the core warranting case for his atheism, so far with no luck. Similarly, others may bring forth their best case. Thence, comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    l –> But, for that to work, there needs to be a sound appreciation that when we claim to know, we are accepting something as so [i.e. believing it], based on its degree of warrant that in our view makes it credibly true.

    m –> Which opens up the issue of whether the subjective justification we believe we have is objectively warranted. (And if one struggles with this, then one will struggle with everything else connected to the issue of knowledge.)
    ____________________________

    SUBNOTE: In a sense, I wish there was no necessity of addressing such matters in an Intelligent Design blog, as the exercise above invites the twisting of words and context into the slander that equates inference to design on evidence with Biblical Creationism and an imagined would-be tyrannical religious agenda of theocracy (all of which BTW are corrected in the UD Weak Argument Correctives, top right this and every UD page).

    I will note that the inference to design on the empirical warrant that digitally coded functionally specific complex information is a reliable signature of intelligence [notice how there are no exceptions that are credible] leads to the inference that cell based life on earth is designed. The onward inference from the fine-tuned operating point of our observed cosmos that supports such life, to the design of our observed cosmos, empirically grounds an inference to an extra cosmic, intelligent and powerful designer who intended that such life exist. With the generic theistic arguments considered as inferences to best explanation, this warrants that someone would be a theist, in a generic sense [as Flew became when he accepted the design case: a Deist, not a Christian].

    That I am a Christian, specifically, is based on a different set of concerns, the positive evidence for the core Gospel, and the argument runs on very different evidence, as has been outlined and linked above.

    I trust that those who come here or monitor here as critics will have the courtesy to acknowledge the significant differences.

    GEM of TKI

  182. CY:

    “I never said that someone is not allowed to believe what they believe.”

    I never accused you of not allowing people to believe what they believe. I critisized your claim that non-Christians categorically are not JUSTIFIED to believe what they believe. None of what you said in 171 is an answer to why this statement:

    “I have no evidence that x occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that y is true, and x is incompatible with that truth”

    …should be justifiable only by a Christian.

    …nor does your 171 address anything else I said in 166. Instead, you go right back to justifying your own world-view. Which I never challenged. I am not interested in the slightest in your justifications for your worldview. They are just as irrelevant to the question at hand as my justifications for my worldview. Here is one the many versions of the question at hand that you still fail to address: “there are lots of Christians, just like there are lots of Hindus, etc. who have more of an experiential than an evidential form of faith. But just like you again correctly point out that is not true for EVERY Christian, it likewise does not allow you to categorically claim that this is the case for EVERY non-Christian and EVERY non-Christian truth claim, as you indeed do.”

    It seems necessary to repeat this, yet again:

    “Explaining why you think your belief in the Judeo-Christian god is supported by good evidence does absolutely nothing to justify either the claim that beliefs in other world-views are categorically NOT based on evidence, or alternatively, that the uncounted pieces of evidence for the uncounted varieties of other world-views are categorically less valuable than your pieces of evidence without you ever having to look at them.”

  183. Molch:

    Justification and warrant are different, in this context.

    It is objective warrant rather than subjective justification that is at stake here. (We have it on very good source that ultimate subjective justification is the preserve of a higher authority. And, oddly enough the most likely to be justified there are exactly the ones who see themselves as not deserving to be.)

    GEM of TKI

  184. 184

    molch, others,

    “‘I have no evidence that x occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that y is true, and x is incompatible with that truth’

    …should be justifiable only by a Christian.

    …nor does your 171 address anything else I said in 166. Instead, you go right back to justifying your own world-view. Which I never challenged.”

    Oh, but you have challenged my world-view by charging that it must be warranted by the same criteria as your own – which is apparently relativism. I am not a relativist. I believe that certain truths are absolute. Such truths are self-evident – namely certain laws of logic, which are necessarily true in order for anything depending on them to be true. Relativists depend on the rules of logic, but they deny that they are self-evident. In fact, recently I linked to several atheist and relativist websites. It is no surprise that on one of them, in their article on logic, they completely overlook the rules of logic, while concentrating on logical fallacies. In other words, relativists who do not believe the rules of logic are valid, have no basis for declaring ANYTHING as a fallacy.

    The truth of Christianity in relation to reincarnation is established upon one of those self-evident truths, and it is the law of the of the excluded middle.

    Either Christianity is true or reincarnation is true. It’s not an issue of relative truth, but of absolute. Therefore, since I have evidence that Christianity is true, the proposition of reincarnation, that souls are placed in OTHER corporeal bodies after death, is incompatible with the claims of Christianity, which says that souls remain in the SAME resurrected corporeal bodies after death. BOTH CLAIMS CANNOT BE TRUE.

    Furthermore, for either resurrection or reincarnation to be true, either must be evidenced by at least one verifiable incident of the respective phenomenon. The resurrection of Jesus is one such verifiable incident of resurrection. I am not aware of any verifiable incident of reincarnation. In fact, the incidents of reincarnation, which have been suggested in scientific studies, namely the studies from the late parapsychologist Ian Stevenson cannot be verified.

  185. 185

    KF,

    Thanks for the clarification and distinction between warrant and justification. Anybody can justify anything, but not all justifications are warranted. Christianity is not only justified, it is warranted. Reincarnation is justified, but is not warranted.

  186. CY and KF:

    replacing justification with warrant changes absolutely nothing in respect to the question at hand:

    Why this statement:

    I have no evidence that x occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that y is true, and x is incompatible with that truth

    …should be warranted only if y is a deity (preferably the Christian one).

    And:

    “there are lots of Christians, just like there are lots of Hindus, etc. who have more of an experiential than an evidential form of faith. But just like you again correctly point out that is not true for EVERY Christian, it likewise does not allow you to categorically claim that this is the case for EVERY non-Christian and EVERY non-Christian truth claim, as you indeed do.”

    And:

    “Explaining why you think your belief in the Judeo-Christian god is supported by good evidence does absolutely nothing to warrant either the claim that beliefs in other world-views are categorically NOT based on evidence, or alternatively, that the uncounted pieces of evidence for the uncounted varieties of other world-views are categorically less valuable than your pieces of evidence without you ever having to look at them.”

  187. CY:
    “BOTH CLAIMS CANNOT BE TRUE.”

    I agree. It is possible that either one is true, or the other, or that they are both false.

    “I am not aware of any verifiable incident of reincarnation.”

    So, your “unawareness” of any verifiable incident of re-incarnation gives you the authority to claim categorically that it doesn’t exist? Sounds a lot like: I haven’t seen any evidence for the existence of brown swans, so I claim categorically that brown swans don’t exist.

    KF summarized why he didn’t like that kind of argument earlier:

    “Now, too, the fraction of what is knowable that any one individual or group can actually know to demonstrative or even moral certainty, is so small that a wise thinker will never claim to KNOW that there is no [x]. So, as just noted, a little epistemological humility is called for.”

    And:

    “For instance, no number of observations of white swans can show beyond doubt that a black swan does not or cannot exist. Just so, a finite, fallible creature with bounded rationality faces a bind when trying to assert a universal negative.”

    I was under the impression that you agreed with him. Maybe I was wrong.

  188. —molch to CY: “Explaining why you think your belief in the Judeo-Christian god is supported by good evidence does absolutely nothing to justify either the claim that beliefs in other world-views are categorically NOT based on evidence, or alternatively, that the uncounted pieces of evidence for the uncounted varieties of other world-views are categorically less valuable than your pieces of evidence without you ever having to look at them.”

    CY has sufficiently explained why that is not the case. However, I don’t hesitate to also point out that a comprehensive knowledge of comparative religion is commonplace among many Christians.

    There is much historical and reasoned-based evidence to support the Christian God. Indeed, Christianity is based on a rational foundation and invites rational scrutiny. No other religious world view invites, or can survive, rational scrutiny.

    This principle is just as true of the leaders themselves. Other than Christ, no other religious leader was foretold a thousand years before he arrived, nor was anything said about where he would be born, why he would come, how he would live, and when he would die. No other religious leader claimed to be God, or performed miracles, or rose from the dead. No other relgious leader grounded his doctrine in historical facts. No other religious leader declared his person to be even more important than his teachings.

    I should also hasten to point out that Christianity can supply and explain the foundations for the reasoned arguments that it employs, namely the first principles of right reason.

    By virtue of your silence on the matter, we can be confident that you have no rational principles with which to evaluate evidence, make truth claims, or build a case for anything. By virtue of your silence on the matter, and your lack of specificity, we can be confident that, in spite of your claims to the contrary, you are not familiar enough with the arguments for the Christian God to claim that you have considered them and found them wanting.

  189. “The resurrection of Jesus is one such verifiable incident of resurrection. I am not aware of any verifiable incident of reincarnation. BOTH CLAIMS CANNOT BE TRUE”

    is simply a new version of:

    “I have no evidence that x occurs. I have no evidence that it does not. I have evidence that y is true, and x is incompatible with that truth”

    So, you have not made any progress toward “warranting” that non-Christian world-views are categorically unwarranted.

    After searching through your comments I found that you indeed seem to agree with KF on the problem of asserting universal negatives – in 92 you say: “You have the problem of trying to prove a negative,…” but please correct me if I misunderstood that.

    But if this is indeed your position, then, even according to your own standards, you obviously haven’t proven that
    “Reincarnation is justified, but is not warranted.” – because your unawareness of warrant is, under your own and KF’s rules, obviously no proof that there is none.

  190. Well then, StephenB joins the chorus of claiming a universal negative:

    “No other religious world view invites, or can survive, rational scrutiny.”

    Let’s hear KF on that one again:

    “Now, too, the fraction of what is knowable that any one individual or group can actually know to demonstrative or even moral certainty, is so small that a wise thinker will never claim to KNOW that there is no [x]. So, as just noted, a little epistemological humility is called for.”

  191. StephenB:

    “By virtue of your silence on the matter, we can be confident that you have no rational principles with which to evaluate evidence, make truth claims, or build a case for anything. By virtue of your silence on the matter, and your lack of specificity, we can be confident that, in spite of your claims to the contrary, you are not familiar enough with the arguments for the Christian God to claim that you have considered them and found them wanting.”

    I wish you happiness in your confidence. If you would have actually wished to confirm your claims, I am sure you would have e-mailed me by now to find out.

  192. —molch: “I wish you happiness in your confidence. If you would have actually wished to confirm your claims, I am sure you would have e-mailed me by now to find out.”

    Why would I want to retire to a private forum to confirm that which has already been made evident on a public forum? I ask you for specifics, and you evade the challenge; I offer specifics of my own, and you ignore the arguments.

  193. Molch:

    Your silence on the subject of providing a summary of the core warrant for your atheistic worldview is beginning to be interestingly revealing.

    So is the increasingly relativistic tone of several remarks.

    The law of non-contradiction, last I checked, is a self-evident truth and first principle of right reason.

    Is this conclusion warranted — and I use warrant in the fairly common philosophical sense to denote that he grounds are objective by contrast with the subjectivity that is often associated with “justification” — or not?

    And, on inference to best explanation on comparative difficulties, how is your atheist conclusion better warranted than generic theism?

    On what grounds are you able to conclude that the warranting case (cf. 101 introduction here) for the Christian form of the Judaeo-Christian worldview fails?

    Beyond that, can you show us why someone who is justified (or worse, possibly even warranted) to conclude that he accepts the Christian faith as true, is not therefore further justified to accept that on first principles of right reason, he cannot simultaneously agree that he is not obligated to simply accept that which cuts across such justified (or even warranted) conclusions?

    Though, on Christian principles of charity, he is obligated to respect the persons who may hold diverse views. (Respect for persons is not to be confused with agreement with views or refusal to engage the challenge of warrant.)

    GEM of TKI

  194. PS: oops got a bit garbled — it happens: “can you show us why someone who is justified (or worse, possibly even warranted) to conclude that he accepts the Christian faith as true, is not therefore further justified to accept that on first principles of right reason, he cannot simultaneously agree that he is obligated to simply accept or treat as equally justified that which cuts across such justified (or even warranted) conclusions?”

  195. 195

    molch,

    Belief in reincarnation can be supported by evidence. However, such evidence cannot warrant a belief in reincarnation in the same way as belief in the resurrection can be warranted by the evidence of one verifiable incident of resurrection in the historical account of jesus’ resurrection, supported by prophecy and witness, in addition to other testimony to the veracity of the witness.

    Reincarnation would have to have just such a degree of witness as is accounted for in scripture. In other words, a person who alleges to have been reincarnated would need to have the same level of witness (and prophecy, mind you) to make such a case beyond a reasonable doubt. I would not say such a case has not happened – although I am unaware of any such case – but that it reasonably cannot happen.

    Here’s why:

    A person dies, and a person now living alleges to be that person reincarnated in a different body. Now this is the key here, because as we see with the resurrection, Jesus was not reincarnated in a different body, but was resurrected in the same body. Therefore, the witnesses who knew Jesus were able to verify with their eyes that what they saw was the Jesus they knew. Also, since several were involved with the burial of Jesus, they were able to verify that the person they saw with their eyes alive was the same Jesus they verified as dead and buried. The gospel accounts are very clear on this. There were not only witnesses to the crucifixion and the death of Jesus, but some of those very same witnesses, including Mary and Martha were witnesses to the empty tomb and the presence of the identifiable resurrected Jesus among them, who spoke to them and showed them the nail marks on his hands.

    Such is not the case with reincarnation because reincarnation necessitates another body; which cannot be identified in the same way as Jesus. And this is the key issue here. Therefore, for you to suggest that a believer in reincarnation can in any meaningful way have evidence that a person was reincarnated in the same way as in the witness of Jesus’ resurrection, is categorically false.

    Now you rightly stated that either resurrection is true or reincarnation is true, or both are false. Both can be false, but both cannot be true at the same time. If one is true, the other is false. I have reasonable evidence that one is true, which makes it reasonable to suggest that the other is false.

  196. kf and StephenB, perhaps molch also, this video may be of interest,,

    Kevin Lewis: The Theological Coherence of Christian Particularism – Biola University Chapel – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20tgTdC4nQc

    description of video:
    One of the top apologetics questions people ask is why there is only one way of salvation. Once the doctrine of salvation is correctly identified as forgiveness and reconciliation with our Creator, it becomes clear there is only one way to accomplish this: by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone!

    P.S. I quoted part of your 188 entry.. classic StephenB to the point.

  197. 197

    Thanks, BA

    This brings us to:

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....arism.html

    William Lane Craig’s articles on Christian Particularism.

    Here’s some more:

    http://www.leaderu.com/focus/oneway.html

  198. 198

    molch,

    I think KF’s statement at 94 is the crux of the matter here.

    I have warrant for my belief in the resurrection. I have no warrant, nor do I believe there can be any warrant for a belief in reincarnation in the same way as my warrant for the resurrection, for the reasons I’ve already stated in my last post addressed to you.

    Now just for the sake of the discussion, I did look into certain claimed evidences for reincarnation. You will find that a certain Ian Stevenson–

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....n_research

    –conducted research into reincarnation.

    He essentially conducted several decades of interviews with children who allegedly claimed to have memories of a past life. So far so good, and quite intriguing.

    However, I also discovered another report here:

    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skep.....ion_a.html

    A report of a sensationalized account of one such child, who allegedly claimed to have memories of a past life. I can’t determine by this that all such claims are to be dismissed in the way this skeptiko report does. I also understand that this report comes from individuals who may use similar procedures to dismiss the resurrection. However, given the comparison of witness I summed up in my last post, the methodology (which is really the best you can have in this case) lacks the substance of the witness for Jesus’ resurrection as accounted in the gospels. The issue is another body and not the same body.

    Children can have frightful dreams, which already convinced adults can interpret as memories of a past life, and lead a child into believing that such “memories” are in fact evidence that they once lived another life.

    Furthermore, Stevenson contended that birth marks on the alleged reincarnated individual correspond with wounds on the alleged person who died and was reincarnated.

    This is where such “evidence” begins to sound unreasonable. If a person is reincarnated – as in a soul placed in another body entirely, why should one even assume that the other alleged reincarnated individual’s body could have any correlation to the body in which they allegedly died? The body is dead and buried. I suggest that this speculation is intended to lend more physical evidence for the accounts than is actually there, because Stevenson understood that testimony about past lives was not enough to make his studies compelling. I think Stevenson understood the dilemma, and he compensated for it through speculation about birth marks, which is very telling in consideration of the evidence for the resurrection; without a connection to the actual body, you have nothing.

    Now, I have no knowledge of other attempts to prove reincarnation. However, this is besides the point. The issue is not in other evidence, but the nature of any alleged evidence – you still have the same problem with trying to show that a person with one body is the exact same person as one with another body.

    This is why I don’t believe reincarnation can have the same compelling witness as can a resurrection – even if the resurrection itself is indeed false. Seemingly corresponding birth marks to a wound on a dead body can have other explanations – namely coincidence, given that a person can be falsely led to believe that elements of dreams are in fact memories. In other words, the physical evidence can be forced to support the premise based on alleged memories that are manipulated in a child as actual memories, and not simply elements of a dream, which correspond to the child’s real life experiences of having visited a museum.

    So onto the issue of two competing truth claims, once again:

    Let’s put it this way: we have two competing truth claims. You have reason to believe that both claims are false, or at least that neither offers enough evidence to compel you to believe. Is it possible that the evidence used to justify belief in one of the truth claims can be more compelling than evidence used to justify belief in the other?

    I think this is where your premise lies, because you believe that both reincarnation and resurrection contain no compelling evidence, which would warrant your belief in either – that is given that you don’t believe in reincarnation, which you haven’t here claimed either way. However, what you seem to be suggesting is that because both of these have no compelling evidence to cause you to believe, their claims to truth are equal. I would suggest that this is not the case – that the differences between the specifics of the truth claims make one more compelling than the other based on the evidence provided for one, and the impossibility of similar evidence for the other, even if overall (in your view), neither claim compels you to believe on warrant.

    This is so not only because of the issues already raised, but because you have not offered up any reasonable reference or argument on which to dismiss either claim. I have. Now do you want to go ahead and share with us why you don’t find either claim, or one or the other compelling?

  199. 199

    “I think KF’s statement at 94 is the crux of the matter here.” woops, that should read 194.

  200. molch, I really don’t know your personal beliefs about theism atheism pantheism and all, but it seems to me that since Christianity actually offers tangible physical proof that Christ rose from the dead, besides personal witnesses, and that death should be a fairly large concern to you, as it should be to all who are born on this earth since we all must face death, then you should at least be willing to investigate the evidence with a somewhat open, but guarded, mind so as to ascertain if this is actually true. Especially since the promise at the basis of accepting Christ into your life is so huge, i.e. Eternal life promised to you by the Creator of heaven and earth,, for whom it is impossible to be untrue to His promise through Christ!!!

    notes:

    A fact that I always found to argue very strongly for Christianity. The fact is that, as I’ve heard said by many preachers before, you can go to the graves of all the other founders of all the other major religions of the world and find the remains of a body, yet, as the Shroud of Turin stubbornly testifies despite many attempts to refute the Shroud’s authenticity, if you go to the tomb of Jesus you will not find the remains of a body because Jesus has risen from the dead.

    Matthew 28:5-6
    The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

    Burial places of founders of world religions
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B....._religions

    The Shroud of Turin is one of the most scientifically scrutinized artifacts in recorded history. Through a rigid process of elimination, through all materialistic possibilities, it becomes crystal clear; the way in which the photographic negative, and uniquely three dimensional, image of the man on the Shroud of Turin had to be imprinted was ‘supernatural’ in its process.

    The Turin Shroud – Comparing Image And Photographic Negative – interactive webpage (Of note: The finding that the image on the Shroud is indeed a photographic negative is still as much a mystery today as when it was first discovered by Secondo Pia in 1898.)
    http://www.shroud.com/shrdface.htm

    Shroud Of Turin’s Unique 3 Dimensionality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041182

    All attempts to reproduce the Shroud fail:

    Experts Question Scientist’s Claim of Reproducing Shroud of Turin – Oct 6, 2009
    http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/gets.....ber=98037#

    Many solid lines of evidence pointed to the Shroud’s authenticity back in the 1980’s, yet the carbon dating of 1989 indicated a medieval age. In spite of many other, more reliable, lines of evidence establishing the Shroud as authentic, many people unquestionably accepted the carbon dating as valid and presumed the Shroud to be a medieval fake.

    THE SHROUD AS AN ANCIENT TEXTILE – Evidence of Authenticity
    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

    Shroud Of Turin – Sewn From Two Pieces – 2000 Years Old – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109101

    The Sudarium of Oviedo
    http://www.shroudstory.com/sudarium.htm

    In a fairly recent breakthrough, the carbon dating question has been thoroughly addressed and refuted by Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford in 2000. Their research, with textile experts, showing the carbon testing was done with a piece of the Shroud which was subject to expert medieval reweaving in the 1500’s had much historical, and photographic, evidence behind it. Their historical, and photographic, evidence was then scientifically confirmed by chemical analysis in 2005 by Raymond Rogers. Thus, the fact that a false age was shown by the 1989 carbon testing has been accepted across the board scientifically.

    New Evidence Overturns Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4222339

    The following is the main peer reviewed paper which has refuted the 1989 Carbon Dating:

    Why The Carbon 14 Samples Are Invalid, Raymond Rogers
    per: Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425 pages 189-194, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California)
    Excerpt: Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow–brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud. The fact that vanillin can not be detected in the lignin on shroud fibers, Dead Sea scrolls linen, and other very old linens indicates that the shroud is quite old. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1300- and 3000-years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as 840 years.
    http://www.ntskeptics.org/issu.....oudold.htm

    Rogers passed away shortly after publishing this paper, but his work was ultimately verified by the Los Alamos National Laboratory:

    Carbon Dating Of The Turin Shroud Completely Overturned by Scientific Peer Review
    Rogers also asked John Brown, a materials forensic expert from Georgia Tech to confirm his finding using different methods. Brown did so. He also concluded that the shroud had been mended with newer material. Since then, a team of nine scientists at Los Alamos has also confirmed Rogers work, also with different methods and procedures. Much of this new information has been recently published in Chemistry Today.
    http://shroudofturin.wordpress.....s-of-time/

    This following is the Los Alamos National Laboratory report and video which completely confirms the Rogers’ paper:

    “Analytical Results on Thread Samples Taken from the Raes Sampling Area (Corner) of the Shroud Cloth” (Aug 2008)
    Excerpt: The age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case……. LANL’s work confirms the research published in Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) by the late Raymond Rogers, a chemist who had studied actual C-14 samples and concluded the sample was not part of the original cloth possibly due to the area having been repaired.
    Robert Villarreal
    http://www.ohioshroudconference.com/

    Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating Overturned By Scientific Peer Review – Robert Villarreal – Press Release video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041193

  201. molch, I really don’t know your personal beliefs about theism atheism pantheism and all, but it seems to me that since Christianity actually offers tangible physical proof that Christ rose from the dead, besides personal witnesses, and that death should be a fairly large concern to you, as it should be to all who are born on this earth since we all must face death, then you should at least be willing to investigate the evidence with a somewhat open, but guarded, mind so as to ascertain if this is actually true. Especially since the promise at the basis of accepting Christ into your life is so huge, i.e. Eternal life promised to you by the Creator of heaven and earth,, for whom it is impossible to be untrue to His promise through Christ!!!

    notes:

    A fact that I always found to argue very strongly for Christianity. The fact is that, as I’ve heard said by many preachers before, you can go to the graves of all the other founders of all the other major religions of the world and find the remains of a body, yet, as the Shroud of Turin stubbornly testifies despite many attempts to refute the Shroud’s authenticity, if you go to the tomb of Jesus you will not find the remains of a body because Jesus has risen from the dead.

    Matthew 28:5-6
    The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

    Burial places of founders of world religions
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B....._religions

    The Shroud of Turin is one of the most scientifically scrutinized artifacts in recorded history. Through a rigid process of elimination, through all materialistic possibilities, it becomes crystal clear; the way in which the photographic negative, and uniquely three dimensional, image of the man on the Shroud of Turin had to be imprinted was ‘supernatural’ in its process.

    The Turin Shroud – Comparing Image And Photographic Negative – interactive webpage (Of note: The finding that the image on the Shroud is indeed a photographic negative is still as much a mystery today as when it was first discovered by Secondo Pia in 1898.)
    http://www.shroud.com/shrdface.htm

    Shroud Of Turin’s Unique 3 Dimensionality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041182

    All attempts to reproduce the Shroud fail:

    Experts Question Scientist’s Claim of Reproducing Shroud of Turin – Oct 6, 2009
    http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/gets.....ber=98037#

    Many solid lines of evidence pointed to the Shroud’s authenticity back in the 1980’s, yet the carbon dating of 1989 indicated a medieval age. In spite of many other, more reliable, lines of evidence establishing the Shroud as authentic, many people unquestionably accepted the carbon dating as valid and presumed the Shroud to be a medieval fake.

    THE SHROUD AS AN ANCIENT TEXTILE – Evidence of Authenticity
    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

    Shroud Of Turin – Sewn From Two Pieces – 2000 Years Old – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109101

    The Sudarium of Oviedo
    http://www.shroudstory.com/sudarium.htm

    In a fairly recent breakthrough, the carbon dating question has been thoroughly addressed and refuted by Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford in 2000. Their research, with textile experts, showing the carbon testing was done with a piece of the Shroud which was subject to expert medieval reweaving in the 1500’s had much historical, and photographic, evidence behind it. Their historical, and photographic, evidence was then scientifically confirmed by chemical analysis in 2005 by Raymond Rogers. Thus, the fact that a false age was shown by the 1989 carbon testing has been accepted across the board scientifically.

    New Evidence Overturns Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4222339

    The following is the main peer reviewed paper which has refuted the 1989 Carbon Dating:

    Why The Carbon 14 Samples Are Invalid, Raymond Rogers
    per: Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425 pages 189-194, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California)
    Excerpt: Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow–brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud. The fact that vanillin can not be detected in the lignin on shroud fibers, Dead Sea scrolls linen, and other very old linens indicates that the shroud is quite old. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1300- and 3000-years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as 840 years.
    http://www.ntskeptics.org/issu.....oudold.htm

    Rogers passed away shortly after publishing this paper, but his work was ultimately verified by the Los Alamos National Laboratory:

    Carbon Dating Of The Turin Shroud Completely Overturned by Scientific Peer Review
    Rogers also asked John Brown, a materials forensic expert from Georgia Tech to confirm his finding using different methods. Brown did so. He also concluded that the shroud had been mended with newer material. Since then, a team of nine scientists at Los Alamos has also confirmed Rogers work, also with different methods and procedures. Much of this new information has been recently published in Chemistry Today.

    This following is the Los Alamos National Laboratory report and video which completely confirms the Rogers’ paper:

    “Analytical Results on Thread Samples Taken from the Raes Sampling Area (Corner) of the Shroud Cloth” (Aug 2008)
    Excerpt: The age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case……. LANL’s work confirms the research published in Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) by the late Raymond Rogers, a chemist who had studied actual C-14 samples and concluded the sample was not part of the original cloth possibly due to the area having been repaired.
    Robert Villarreal

    Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating Overturned By Scientific Peer Review – Robert Villarreal – Press Release video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041193

  202. molch, I really don’t know your personal beliefs about theism atheism pantheism and all, but it seems to me that since Christianity actually offers tangible physical proof that Christ rose from the dead, besides personal witnesses, and that death should be a fairly large concern to you, as it should be to all who are born on this earth since we all must face death, then you should at least be willing to investigate the evidence with a somewhat open, but guarded, mind so as to ascertain if this is actually true. Especially since the promise at the basis of accepting Christ into your life is so huge, i.e. Eternal life promised to you by the Creator of heaven and earth,, for whom it is impossible to be untrue to His promise through Christ!!!

    notes:

    A fact that I always found to argue very strongly for Christianity. The fact is that, as I’ve heard said by many preachers before, you can go to the graves of all the other founders of all the other major religions of the world and find the remains of a body, yet, as the Shroud of Turin stubbornly testifies despite many attempts to refute the Shroud’s authenticity, if you go to the tomb of Jesus you will not find the remains of a body because Jesus has risen from the dead.

    Matthew 28:5-6
    The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

    Burial places of founders of world religions
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B....._religions

    The Shroud of Turin is one of the most scientifically scrutinized artifacts in recorded history. Through a rigid process of elimination, through all materialistic possibilities, it becomes crystal clear; the way in which the photographic negative, and uniquely three dimensional, image of the man on the Shroud of Turin had to be imprinted was ‘supernatural’ in its process.

    The Turin Shroud – Comparing Image And Photographic Negative – interactive webpage (Of note: The finding that the image on the Shroud is indeed a photographic negative is still as much a mystery today as when it was first discovered by Secondo Pia in 1898.)
    http://www.shroud.com/shrdface.htm

    Shroud Of Turin’s Unique 3 Dimensionality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041182

    All attempts to reproduce the Shroud fail:

    Experts Question Scientist’s Claim of Reproducing Shroud of Turin – Oct 6, 2009
    http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/gets.....ber=98037#

    Many solid lines of evidence pointed to the Shroud’s authenticity back in the 1980’s, yet the carbon dating of 1989 indicated a medieval age. In spite of many other, more reliable, lines of evidence establishing the Shroud as authentic, many people unquestionably accepted the carbon dating as valid and presumed the Shroud to be a medieval fake.

    THE SHROUD AS AN ANCIENT TEXTILE – Evidence of Authenticity
    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

    Shroud Of Turin – Sewn From Two Pieces – 2000 Years Old – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109101

    The Sudarium of Oviedo
    http://www.shroudstory.com/sudarium.htm

    In a fairly recent breakthrough, the carbon dating question has been thoroughly addressed and refuted by Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford in 2000. Their research, with textile experts, showing the carbon testing was done with a piece of the Shroud which was subject to expert medieval reweaving in the 1500’s had much historical, and photographic, evidence behind it. Their historical, and photographic, evidence was then scientifically confirmed by chemical analysis in 2005 by Raymond Rogers. Thus, the fact that a false age was shown by the 1989 carbon testing has been accepted across the board scientifically.

    New Evidence Overturns Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4222339

    The following is the main peer reviewed paper which has refuted the 1989 Carbon Dating:

    Why The Carbon 14 Samples Are Invalid, Raymond Rogers
    per: Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425 pages 189-194, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California)
    Excerpt: Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow–brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud. The fact that vanillin can not be detected in the lignin on shroud fibers, Dead Sea scrolls linen, and other very old linens indicates that the shroud is quite old. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1300- and 3000-years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as 840 years.

    Rogers passed away shortly after publishing this paper, but his work was ultimately verified by the Los Alamos National Laboratory:

    Carbon Dating Of The Turin Shroud Completely Overturned by Scientific Peer Review
    Rogers also asked John Brown, a materials forensic expert from Georgia Tech to confirm his finding using different methods. Brown did so. He also concluded that the shroud had been mended with newer material. Since then, a team of nine scientists at Los Alamos has also confirmed Rogers work, also with different methods and procedures. Much of this new information has been recently published in Chemistry Today.

    This following is the Los Alamos National Laboratory report and video which completely confirms the Rogers’ paper:

    “Analytical Results on Thread Samples Taken from the Raes Sampling Area (Corner) of the Shroud Cloth” (Aug 2008)
    Excerpt: The age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case……. LANL’s work confirms the research published in Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) by the late Raymond Rogers, a chemist who had studied actual C-14 samples and concluded the sample was not part of the original cloth possibly due to the area having been repaired.
    Robert Villarreal

    Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating Overturned By Scientific Peer Review – Robert Villarreal – Press Release video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041193

  203. further notes molch:

    Now that the flawed carbon dating is finally brought into line, all major lines of evidence now converge and establish the Shroud as authentic. This rigidly tested, and scrutinized, artifact establishes the uniqueness of the Shroud among all ancient artifacts of man found on earth. I know of no other ancient artifact, from any other culture, which has withstood such intense scrutiny and still remained standing in its claim of divine origin. It is apparent God thought this event so important for us to remember that He took a “photograph” of the resurrection of Jesus Christ using the Shroud itself as a medium. After years of painstaking research, searching through every materialistic possibility, scientists still cannot tell us exactly how the image of the man on the Shroud was imprinted.

    How Did The Image Form On The Shroud? – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045581

    “The shroud image is made from tiny fibres that are (each) 1/10th of a human hair. The picture elements are actually randomly distributed like the dots in your newspaper, photograph or magazine photograph. To do this you would need an incredibly accurate atomic laser. This technology does NOT exist (even to this day).”
    Kevin Moran – Optical Engineer

    “the closest science can come to explaining how the image of the Man in the Shroud got there is by comparing the situation to a controlled burst of high-intensity radiation similar to the Hiroshima bomb explosion which “printed” images of incinerated people on building walls.”
    Frank Tribbe – Leading Scholar And Author On Shroud Research

    This following video, which I’ve listed previously, and article give fairly deep insight into what the image formation on the Shroud signifies for us:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life! – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    This following recent video revealed a very surprising holographic image that was found on the Shroud:

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041205

    Even with the advantage of all our advanced space-age technology at their fingertips, all scientists can guess is that it was some type of electro-magnetic radiation (light) which is not natural to this world. Kevin Moran, a scientist working on the mysterious ’3D’ nature of the Shroud image, states the ‘supernatural’ explanation this way:

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    http://www.shroudstory.com/natural.htm

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before. All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’ while having a deep NDE have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    It should be noted: All foreign, non-Judeo-Christian culture, NDE studies I have looked at have a extreme rarity of encounters with ‘The Being Of Light’ and tend to be very unpleasant NDE’s save for the few pleasant children’s NDEs of those cultures that I’ve seen (It seems there is indeed an ‘age of accountability’). The following study was shocking for what was found in some non-Judeo-Christian NDE’s:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Bill Wiese – 23 Minutes In Hell – High Quality
    http://vimeo.com/16155839

    Another very interesting point about the Shroud is, since the Shroud had to be extremely close to the body when the image was made, and also considering the lack of any distinctive shadow patterns on the image, it is apparent the only place this supernatural light could have possibly come from, that made the image on the Shroud, was directly from the body itself ! Yes, you read that last sentence right:

    THE SOURCE OF LIGHT WAS THE BODY ITSELF !!!

    God’s crowning achievement for this universe was not when He created this universe. God’s crowning achievement for this universe was when He Himself inhabited the human body He had purposely created the whole universe for, to sanctify human beings unto Himself through the death and resurrection of his “Son” Jesus Christ. This is truly something which should fill anyone who reads this with awe. The wonder of it all is something I can scarcely begin to understand much less write about. Thus, I will finish this portion of my paper with a scripture.

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    “Since we, God’s children, are human beings – made of flesh and blood – He became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.”

  204. BA: Molch, by his own declaration, has “concluded” atheism, cf. my remarks and the excerpts [from 125 and 53] at 129 above. G

  205. 205

    KF,

    molch: “I reject the existence of the Judeao-Christian god based on the incompatibility with my beliefs and concluded truths about the world.”

    Very telling. Only the issue here is that the Judeo-Christian God presents evidence, which is incompatible with his stated a priori world-view.

    Interesting also that I (and I’m certain others here) rest my (our) faith in God on the evidence he has placed in nature, scripture, prophecy, changed lives, evidence from physical relics, verified miracles, the effect of Christianity on history and culture, law and foremost, on the principles of right reason. So it’s not an issue of merely rejecting other faiths because they are incompatible with scripture; it’s an issue of a propensity of evidence God has provided for the Christian faith. Faith for us then truly is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) How do you have evidence of things not seen? Simple; by things that are seen:

    “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)

    These two passages sum up what Christian faith is. It isn’t a blind faith, but a faith based on visible evidence of invisible things.

    One wonders what visible evidence molch has for the non-existence of God other than that belief in God is incompatible with a priori materialism.

    So I guess he’s right in a way. He isn’t like all the other atheists I mentioned. He doesn’t base his faith in the non-existence of God on no evidence for God, but on his a priori materialism. But wait a minute – before I give it all away here; isn’t it necessarily an assumption by a priori materialism that there can be no evidence for God?

    Hmm – back to Lewontin I guess.

  206. Molch:

    It is by now pretty well clear that you do not have a cogent case for your “concluded [scientifically, logically and philosophically grounded] truth” of atheism that you are confident in and willing to publicly state and defend.

    In that context of refusing to engage the project of comparative difficulties on a level playing field basis, your attempts to equate the warrant for the resurrection of Jesus — without actually addressing even the 101 level presentation of the positive case that has been repeatedly linked — to the evidence for any or all other possible alternatives, is revealed as a rhetorical side-track. Similarly, when above, you tried to separate knowledge from its reasonable definition as warranted, credibly true belief, it threw serious questions across your claims to have sufficiently investigated the cumulative philosophical case for generic theism to have warrant to dismiss it.

    In that context, your continued attempts to dismiss or discredit come across as the well-known skeptical habit of being always on the attack, which distracts even such skeptics from the need to warrant their own implicit or explicit system of thought.

    So, it is time to call for a bit of balance:

    1 –> I have already linked yet again today on the positive case for the Christian faith.

    2 –> On the wider question of the warrant for a design oriented view of origins science, I (again) link here.

    3 –> Summaries have been presented several times, on the point that dFSCI is a reliable signature of design, and is found in the cell. Once Lewontin-style a priori evolutionary materialist blinkers are removed, it is warranted to conclude that life is designed, and that major body plan innovations are also designed. Design implies designer, though this does not by itself point to a designer within or beyond the cosmos.

    4 –> Similarly, current cosmological evidence points to the physics of our observed cosmos being set at a fine-tuned operating point, on dozens of conditions, and thus to design by an extra-cosmic, powerful, sophisticated, skilled and knowledgeable designer.

    5 –> in addition, as I have documented in my recent UD post here and in the onward page, the “science” you appeal to is naturalism, which is evolutionary materialistic, thus question begging and self-referentially incoherent because it undermines the credibility of the very minds that are required to think evolutionary materialistic thoughts.

    6 –> Your repeated ignoring of the case summarised in 2 – 5 just above does not make the point go away, nor your need to cogently answer it if you are to sustain the claim that your atheistic view is based on science. The onward linked in 5 just above shows that the claim that your case is based on logic, also credibly fails: that which is question-begging and self referentially incoherent is not logically well warranted. And, that is the fate of evolutionary materialism, a key component of “scientific” atheism.

    7 –> Moving up to worldview level [thus moving on from science and logic to broader phil issues], I contend that not only is a design view well warranted, but that on a cumulative case basis, generic theism is also well warranted.

    [ . . . ]

  207. 8 –> Expanding briefly:

    a: Worldviews are not subject of deductive proof, as they address matters of fact, so they will be warranted on a cumulative case basis.

    b: Such an argument works analogously to a rope: thin, short individual fibres are twisted together to make a strand, and several strands are braided or counter-twisted together to form a much longer, stronger rope that depends on the mutual support of the components for its overall strength.

    c: In short it is a relevant instance of the fallacy of composition to assume or infer that by attacking individual components, one can dispose of a worldview case.

    d: Instead, one has to embark on the comparative difficulties process across live options, including addressing factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power; where,

    e: something like the resurrection of Jesus in the context of prophecies, if well warranted as fact [and we have argued in the linked above that it is] becomes one of the credible facts that has to be accounted for.

    f: In that context, we may effectively argue that the observed cosmos is credibly contingent [cf Big Bang], as well as its constituents, which warrants the conclusion that it requires a cause.

    g: At the root of that chain of cause is a necessary being, with sufficient power and skill to build a cosmos that sits at a fine-tuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life, even through multiverse suggestions [the sub-cosmos bread factory issue . . . what sort of supercosmic bread factory is needed to bake up a rich variety of sub-cosmi instead of the equivalent of a doughy half baked mess of ill-blended ingredients, or a blackened hockey puck of burned ingredients]

    h: Similarly, such a necessary being is either possible or impossible, but plainly it is not impossible: there is no self-contradiction, and indeed the above warrants that it is necessary as the ground of the contingent world we can see. So arguably the force of necessity acts: there is such a necessary being with the relevant attributes to account for a cosmos and for life including ourselves as minded, conscious, enconscienced creatures.

    i: That necessary being is implicated by the evident design of life and cosmos, and has the attributes necessary to account for such design: extracosmic, intelligent, very powerful, purposeful, acting as creator. These are of course features of the being we describe as God.

    j: Going further, as morally bound creatures — something atheists inadvertently acknowledge when they assume the repugnance of evil in mistakenly trying to argue from evil to atheism — a moral universe implies that the ground of its being is an IS that has in it inherent goodness sufficient to ground OUGHT. That is God is moral and specifically good.

    k: To cap off, starting with the 500+ eyewitnesses of C1, and continuing down to today, millions have personally come to meet and know the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. (And if you are offended by Christian particularism, I suggest you look here as a start.)

    9 –> You of course claimed that there is a rich literature in critique of such a cumulative case. What you need to show to us is that that rich literature succeeds, not in showing what was never at issue — that it is possible to reject such arguments by challenging premises and dismissing facts — but that on comparative difficulties, your atheism is a superior conclusion, including in the implications of alternative premises to the rejected ones.

    10 –> In particular, do not forget that if the human mind is so delusional that the millions across time who claim to have met and been transformed by God are deluded,t hen on what alternative grounds can you trust your mind not to be deluded when it arrives at atheistical, evolutionary materialistic conclusions?

    _________________

    I think the ball is now in your court.

    GEM of TKI

  208. F/N: Molch, being accurate to the warranted facts and truth about our world is not a violation of epistemological humility.

    Nor, is insistence on the need for such warrant.

    Nor, is provision of such warrant — unless you are willing to argue that our reasoning capacity is inherently so delusional as to be incapable of grounding well warranted truth, which is self-referentially incoherent.

    (And I have provided reasons for the challenge that evolutionary materialism is indeed both self-referentially incoherent and radically relativist about both knowledge and morality: there is no truth and no right beyond what one concludes personally is true or right for him or her.

    Down that road lies utter self-referential incoherence and amorality. (Which is precisely what evolutionary materialism has stood indicted for ever since Plato’s The Laws Bk X, 360 BC.)

    GEM of TKI

  209. CY:

    Yup.

    I went further looking for atheological arguments, and came up on a video that purported to be a 4 – 5 minute refutaiton.

    Sadly, that video ran in the circle of asserting delusion baswed on no evidence, and that if one is certain of one’s beliefs, one is delusional. But s/he does not even know the difference between moral certainty and demonstrable certainty on warrant vs delusional closed mindedness. I suggest that he poster of that video needs to spend a few hours working through the briefing note on selective hyperskepticism, starting with the introduction, the excerpt from Simon Greenleaf and section A, with a particular focus on the fallacies of the closed ideologised mind and turnabout accusation. A look in a mirror will help.

    Then, I took a look at this seminar by Stenger.

    Right out the starting gates, this presenter does not understand what self-evidence is, so he is in trouble with the first principles of right reason. Similarly, he does not seem to understand the point that all worldviews have difficulties, so that the issue is not whether one may challenge or deny theistic premises, but what happens to your worldview as a whole when you have to embed such denials in its core. So, the proper method is level playing field comparative analysis of worldviews on their difficulties. He also needs to take time to think about how a rope works, and what this has to teach us about cumulative cases.

    Confidence being lost at the outset, I shook my head.

    (Recall, how M struggled above with the concept that when we objectively — even where this is provisionally so — know something, that is because (i) we accept it as so [= believe it] on (ii) being warranted and thus (iii) credibly true.)

    Let us see how M gets on with the challenge to warrant his atheism, and the linked challenge to address the cumulative argument I have presented in outline in 205.

    GEM of TKI

  210. F/N: Let’s take up the very first exchange between strawman Theist and Atheist used by Stenger:

    ________________

    >> T: Where did the universe come from?
    A: Why did it have to come from anything?
    T: Everything has to come from something.
    A: Then, you tell me. Where did the universe came from?
    T: The universe came from God.
    A: Where did God come from?
    T: God did not have to come from anything. He always was.
    A: Then everything does not have to come from something after all. Perhaps the universe always was. >>
    __________________

    a –> Stenger here first ducks the fact that he observed universe credibly had a beginning, so is credibly contingent and credibly has a cause.

    b –> He of course — without acknowledging that this concept is justified by the cosmological argument he would reject — alludes to the possibility of a necessary being with no beginning that thus does not need a cause.

    c –> This is an unfortunately common atheistical debating tactic: stating a point of AGREEMENT with the theistic case as though it is a refutation.

    d –> Similarly, S here fails to acknowledge that the issue is not whether there is a necessary being, but of what character, and how warranted relative to what we know.

    e –> He is by implication arguing for an underlying cosmos as a whole in which our observed cosmos has bubbled up by some fluctuation, and so happens to have the relevant physics and parameters set to a fine tuned operating point that is fitted to C-chemistry cell based life. That is, he has to explain the cosmos baking factory.

    f –> By ducking the linked issues of cosmological design [notice the game of refutation in isolation] he is able to avoid addressing the question of alternative possible necessary beings. (And he is able to avoid the issue that he is here discussing speculative metaphysics, so should be addressing comparative difficulties of alternatives.)

    g –> Notice as well the strawman tactic put in T’s mouth, to set up a rhetorical contradiction to imply utter ignorance and/or stupidity: “Everything has to come from something . . . . God did not have to come from anything. He always was.”

    h –> Stenger knows or should know that the actual informed theistic view is that THAT WHICH HAS A BEGINNING OR MAY GO OUT OF EXISTENCE (i.e. is contingent) has a cause; and that the cosmological argument then very properly infers from a world of contingent beings that is itself also credibly contingent to a necessary, self-sufficient being that is non-contingent and does not have a cause.

    i –> This caricature, frankly, is inexcusable and rhetorically dishonest.

    Remember, it was presented by Vic Stenger, an emeritus physics prof, with the prefatory remark: “A seminar series held in 2002 for atheists, freethinkers and their guests sponsored by the Boulder Atheists, Atheists and Freethinkers of Denver, Freeethinkers of Colorado Springs, and Atheists of Northern Colorado. The goal of the series was to provide nonbelievers with arguments, on a high intellectual plane, that can be use to counter the standard arguments of believers. These counter arguments could be used in personal conversations with theists or in writing thoughtful letters to the editor.A seminar series held in 2002 for atheists, freethinkers and their guests sponsored by the Boulder Atheists, Atheists and Freethinkers of Denver, Freeethinkers of Colorado Springs, and Atheists of Northern Colorado. The goal of the series was to provide nonbelievers with arguments, on a high intellectual plane, that can be use to counter the standard arguments of believers. These counter arguments could be used in personal conversations with theists or in writing thoughtful letters to the editor.”)

    j –> This sort of deceitfully misrepresenting rhetoric presented by so highly educated and experienced a person as training to educate the public is simply inexcusable.

    _______________

    M, what can you say about cases like the above?

    GEM of TKI

  211. PS: Oops on the accidental double post of the cite. In retirement, VS is actually an adjunct prof of phil in Colorado. “Mi cyaan’ believe it.”

  212. 212

    molch,

    Re: 208

    Which is why the cosmological argument begins with the premise:

    Everything that BEGINS to exist has a cause.

    It is the only premise that can logically escape the absurdity of an infinite regress of causes. So it’s not simply an assumption by theists in order to posit God.

  213. CY:

    Traversing an infinite sequence of finite-duration past events [take Planck-time events as a handy yardstick, or the fastest particle interactions] to reach the present is indeed a serious challenge.

    (Infinite sets in Math are not defined by successive steps but all at once, even when set builder notation is used to suggest how in principle they can be built.)

    But equally, when something has a beginning we need to ask: why did it NOT happen up to that time?

    ANS: because at least one necessary causal factor that pushed it across the sufficient causal threshold was not in place. [Think, fuel and air together, but no spark of heat, no fire. Even, when a random variable is acting in some way, leading to a statistically distributed outcome.]

    GEM of TKI

  214. PS: Such as that responsible for he decay constant that causes a population of radioactive nuclei to decay according to a definite collective law.

  215. CY:

    “I have no knowledge of other attempts to prove reincarnation. However, this is besides the point. The issue is not in other evidence, but the nature of any alleged evidence – you still have the same problem with trying to show that a person with one body is the exact same person as one with another body.”

    And:

    “the differences between the specifics of the truth claims make one more compelling than the other based on the evidence provided for one, and the impossibility of similar evidence for the other”

    So, after looking at some possible evidence for re-incarnation, you have concluded that the particular evidence is categorically less compelling than the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection because of bodily identity in the latter case versus different bodies in the former. Let me show you why you are completely mistaken to claim that, because of your conlcusion, that there is “impossibility of similar evidence for [reincarnation]”.

    Here is a scenario that could provide objective, directly observable evidence for the truth of a child’s claim to be the re-incarnated soul of a known dead person: Child X claims that it is the re-born person Y. The investigator finds documents connected to the life of now deceased Y. These documents and their contents have been unknown to child X or any of its associates, and this circumstance can be proven. These documents (e.g. a diary) contain unique information about the life of Y that are impossible (or very unlikely, especially in their combination) to be known through different means than either the documents themselves or having been present at the events described in the documents. The investigator questions child X about this unique information about the life of Y. The child can accurately convey the unique information about the life of Y contained in the documents, down to the smallest detail.

    If a scenario like this, where it is perfectly possible that you yourself could be the investigator and witness the evidence every step of the way, does not count as the possibility for extremely compelling evidence for re-incarnation to you, I think we might as well stop talking altogether, because we are obviously from different planets. I even feel justified here to speculate that this category of evidence is orders of magnitude more compelling than any documents in support of an event that occurred 2000 years ago that you could come up with. But that is indeed besides the point.
    However, I have just shown you that:
    “I have no knowledge of other attempts to prove reincarnation. However, this is besides the point”
    …is obvioulsy not besides the point at all, but exactly the crux of your argument. I have just shown you that your claim of “impossibility of similar evidence for [reincarnation]” is false. You were simply not aware that there is at least one possibility. And that was just me coming up with a simple obvious one after pondering the issue for half a minute. I suspect there are 2 or 3 or dozens or hundreds of other compelling avenues of evidence for reincarnation. And then, besides reincarnation, there are uncounted other truth claims (hundreds of which neither you nor I have ever even heard of) of other worldviews. So how could you possibly claim any longer that “the differences between the specifics of the truth claims make one more compelling than the other based on the evidence provided for one, and the IMPOSSIBILITY of similar evidence for the other” for ANY competing truth claim? Your categorical claim is already wrong for one single example – I hope that you can see that your case for universal dismissal is hopeless.

    If you still cannot, I don’t think it makes any sense for me to keep trying to show you. So, this will likely be my last comment to this thread. Regardless if we agree or disagree in the end, thanks for an insightful exchange. The invitation to e-mail me if you are interested in any particulars of my actual world-view remains open.

  216. Molch: Kindly cf here. GEM of TKI

  217. 217

    molch,

    I thought of just such a scenario as well. You are still dealing with the identity of bodies vs. knowledge, which for an alleged soul suspension occurrence, could come from anywhere. What makes one jump from that evidence to reincarnation? Could there be another possibility to explain the child’s knowledge? I’d have to say, for someone who claims to be a skeptic of supernatural events, you’re quite easily led. Maybe the child has ESP and can sense the information on the documents, or can read the mind of a person who has knowledge of the documents. We’re dealing with an extraordinary claim. Therefore it becomes just as logical with such a claim to infer ESP or some other form of perception such as clairvoyance without having to jump to the conclusion of Reincarnation.

    You see, you have done exactly with this what you’re charging me of doing. I said that Reincarnation cannot be reasonably warranted in the same way as the resurrection – with the force of the warrant for the resurrection. Sure, you could show that a child has knowledge of something that he/she should or possibly could not have knowledge of, but there are still things to rule out with this evidence. You don’t simply jump to “Ahah! Reincarnation! Maybe the ghost of the dead person communicated to the child giving him/her the information – maybe the child is clairvoyant, or has ESP, or came upon the information in some other manner unknown to the participants. It would not, and cannot be as compelling as that provided for with the resurrection.

    Further, in this scenario you’re dealing with just one alleged witness – the child him/herself. Others who knew the dead person are not witnesses, just participants. OK, the documents themselves could be a witness, but they can be a witness for something entirely different than reincarnation.

    For the resurrection there were over 500 witnesses to one event. Even if there are 500 people who all claim to have been reincarnated, each claim would have to be taken as a separate event. With the resurrection there are exponentially more witnesses, which makes the likelihood of false witness much less likely.

    Therefore, you still have no leading information, which would necessitate a conclusion of reincarnation. With the resurrection there is no question – Jesus was dead, confirmed as so, buried, not found at the burial site, and later found alive and communicating with those who knew him, mentioning things he told them before his death, and further fulfilling prophecy from 1000 years prior. There is no reasonable alternative based on the evidence other than that he rose from the dead.

  218. 218

    KF,

    It’s OK, I could go on with the strawman used against me, but frankly I’m getting a little tired, as I’m sure mulch is and others too. At some point one has to deal with the real evidence rather than alleged evidence, or in recent cases, hypothetical evidence. What I’m waiting for is some real and direct charges against the evidence for the resurrection, or the generic evidence for the existence of God – as I’m sure we are all anticipating, but as we have already seen thus far, such charges don’t appear to be forthcoming.

  219. “For the resurrection there were over 500 witnesses to one event.”

    What makes one jump from that evidence to resurrection? Could there be another possibility to explain the sighting of a man that looks and behaves just like an allegedly dead man? I’d have to say, for someone who claims to be a skeptic of most supernatural events (all those which don’t conform with the Christian doctrine), you’re quite easily led. Maybe the man is a ghost that looks extraordinarily corporeal. Or a magician created the walking, talking, real-looking image of the man, or better yet: actually brought the man back to life. Or the witnesses involved had a really good reason to lie about what they really saw (this was 2000 years ago, we can’t even interview anyone there anymore). Or, or ,or, or,…….We’re dealing with an extraordinary claim. Therefore it becomes just as logical with such a claim to infer a huge variety of other physical/metaphysical explanations without having to jump to the conclusion of Resurrection.

    “I’d have to say, for someone who claims to be a skeptic of supernatural events, you’re quite easily led.”

    You fell right into it. I am showing you that even an incredibly convincing piece of evidence can be interpreted in a million different ways.
    And by the way, you still haven’t justified the universal negative of your claim, that is completely separate from the resurrection/reincarnation issue. But I’ll leave it at that.

  220. Molch: Cf here also. GEM of TKI

  221. 221

    Molch,

    “What makes one jump from that evidence to resurrection?”

    I believe in the resurrection based on a propensity of evidence from many sources; including the scriptural accounts, contemporary extra-biblical testimony to certain facts surrounding the events before and after the resurrection, the witness of prophecy, the witness of history, and the testimony of changed lives. I don’t have to jump to the resurrection based on any one factor, I can take them as a whole, because they fit together mutually and harmoniously to form a very valid, compelling and warranted conclusion – compare KF’s rope.

    “Could there be another possibility to explain the sighting of a man that looks and behaves just like an allegedly dead man?”

    Yes, there certainly could be other explanations. But the most reasonable explanation based on the propensity of evidence I just mentioned, is that the resurrection occurred as witnessed and recounted.

    “I’d have to say, for someone who claims to be a skeptic of most supernatural events (all those which don’t conform with the Christian doctrine), you’re quite easily led.”

    Well no, I’m not easily led. I believe there is a warranted difference between the propensity of evidence for the resurrection of Christ and the weak evidence (which can only be so) for reincarnation.

    I’ve already stated reasonably why this is so based on the issue of bodily person identity, which is present with the resurrection and absent with reincarnation. You attempted to shift the issue of bodily person identity onto the resurrection, which by the evidence of scripture alone, no reasonable person would do.

    That you don’t recognize the difference between these two very important distinctions is very telling of the selectively hyper-skeptical tactics you employ in order to score points as is pointedly so in this statement:

    “You fell right into it.”

    I fell into nothing. I stated my points quite reasonably and I stand firm in my position. The burden is on you, the challenger to reasonably show where I am wrong. You haven’t done so here. Furthermore, you continue to refrain from providing us with any warrant for your own beliefs.

  222. 222

    molch,

    Could you say the same for reincarnation that the most reasonable explanations for a child’s knowledge of a dead person’s life, when the child obviously has a different body than the dead person, that reincarnation is the best and warranted explanation according to your own world-view assumptions? That is the real issue here. I don’t mean according to the assumptions of someone who would accept reincarnation even if there was no evidence, but for a person who believes that there is no “supernatural.” Would reincarnation be the more reasonable conclusion in that case? If you say yes, why? Either way, it is your world-view assumptions, which really need examining in this case, because apparently due to your a priori materialism, you can’t distinguish between more reasonable and warranted “supernatural” claims and less warranted “supernatural” claims. They seem to be all the same to you.

    But enough about reincarnation. It is really a sidestepping hypothetical issue meant to draw attention away from the evidence for belief in God and Christianity. I’m not really interested in hypothetical speculation because pretty much anything can be speculated, and we end up going nowhere.

    A person can have a solid foundation for belief in Christ without one bit of consideration of other competing claims, and I stand on that foundation.

    Furthermore, it makes sense that God in his wisdom would provide us with just such evidence as a light shining in a dark place, where competing truth claims abound. We contend that God’s purpose for us is to know truth, which can be known; truth about God, truth about ourselves, and truth about our relationship with Him. Without a solid foundation for that truth, there really is nothing that can be called truth.

    With atheism there is no solid foundation. With Christian theism there is.

    And one of the glaring issues of atheists is the charge that Christians merely force the evidence to support their views – which seems to be what you are suggesting. This is a strikingly blatant disregard for the evidence. If the evidence supports the views of Christians, maybe it’s because the views of Christians are true – rather than that the evidence has been in any way forced to fit.

  223. 223

    molch,

    I started writing this response, then I decided to submit my last two responses. I’ll go ahead and submit this one as well, because I think it leads us in the right direction:

    “I am showing you that even an incredibly convincing piece of evidence can be interpreted in a million different ways.”

    Well I don’t believe you’ve shown me anything, but simply because evidence CAN be interpreted in a million different ways does not imply that it reasonably should. I gather that you’ve come up with an explanation for the resurrection, which convinces you that it didn’t happen. Perhaps this is a good place to continue the discussion. However, I think an even better place to continue would be for you to show us your argument against the existence of God. It is, after all, your disbelief in God, which would obviously discredit in your thinking any claims of resurrections or reincarnations or what have you.

    However (and in the interest of brevity) I will briefly summarize some key points regarding the resurrection. these are not so much the arguments themselves, but the key points of a larger argument:

    “Could there be another possibility to explain the sighting of a man that looks and behaves just like an allegedly dead man?”

    Yes. There could be. Jesus could have convinced others that he was dead and tricked them into believing that he was alive. Someone could have arranged to have a man who looked like him die on the cross for him. He could have survived the crucifixion, or any number of other possibilities. The issue here is what is the best credible and reasonable explanation based on the witness accounts.

    There are a number of problems with the resurrection. None of us has stated that there are not. But when you consider the entire account of Jesus’ last days and the time after the crucifixion, there is more weighty evidence to suggest that he was resurrected than that some other elaborate scheme was concocted in order to fake the resurrection. Many people have written very lengthy books concerning these issues, and there is much detail. Frank Morrison’s was written 80 years ago, and is perhaps the most famous of these.

    http://www.amazon.com/Who-Move.....Descending

    Consider Morrison’s thorough working of just such alternatives.

    But one of the more recent books that I find even more in-depth on these issues is Gary Habermas and Michael Licona’s “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”

    http://www.amazon.com/Case-Res.....038;sr=1-1

    And you might want to look into Licona’s even more recent book: “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” (which I haven’t yet read):

    http://www.amazon.com/Resurrec.....038;sr=1-1

    In the following I’m summarizing Habermas and Licona:

    The sources outside the New Testament, which attest to the fact of the crucifixion are as follows:

    Josephus
    Tacitus
    Lucian
    Mara Bar-Serapion
    The Talmud

    Now in these, and even the agreement of most scholarly skeptics of the resurrection, we come to some basic facts:

    1) Jesus died by crucifixion.

    That is a fact, which no reasonable scholar denies by the evidence, both internally from the scriptures themselves, and externally by extra-biblical account.

    So a premise, which suggests that Jesus somehow faked his death, or that the witnesses to the crucifixion and the resurrection should somehow be mistaken as to the identity of the person they saw alive after the crucifixion, needs to take that fact into account. He did not fake his death, so he could not by any natural means appear to the disciples after his death.

    This leaves problems regarding claims of the resurrection, but it does at least reasonably challenge the question of his death.

    2) The disciples believed that the resurrected Jesus appeared to them, and they claimed such in written accounts, that he spoke to them, showed them the piercings in his side and the nail marks in his hands, he ate with them, and explained many things to them over the course of days.

    This is another fact, which most scholars, even skeptical scholars do not dispute – that they believed he rose and appeared to them.

    And we can add onto this fact, the conversions of

    3) Paul, the former persecutor of the Christians,

    and

    4) James, the brother of Jesus (attested to in Josephus).

    5) The tomb was empty.

    I personally believe that the empty tomb was one of the most significant factors, which attest to the resurrection. If someone went to the tomb the next day and discovered the body of Jesus, given that this event occurred in Jerusalem, the center of Judaism and of the Roman presence in Palestine at the time, such information would most certainly have been announced publicly and the stories of the resurrection easily discounted and buried. Such is not the case. ——

    Now in the next chapter Habermas and Licona cover other explanations regarding these facts. Rather than summarize, let’s hear your version or your dispute with these points.

  224. CY

    Thanks for pulling the matter back on track.

    It is highly significant that after well past 100 comments on the main matter that cropped up in response to the OP’s focus on putting up warranting information in response to Neo Atheist skepticism, we have seen no serious attempt to support the claim that “scientific” evolutionary materialistic atheism is the best explanation for the world as we experience it.

    The resort to side-tracks and attempts to discredit other views, and the level of arguments being used when we go out and find actual skeptical writings is further telling. (I still shake my head when I think of the caricatures of the cosmological argument we have seen above. The distortions and evasions in response to the general design inference are a longstanding notorious point in this blog, as the weak argument correctives document.)

    Above, as well, we can see an utter failure to engage seriously the point of an inference to best explanation chain of reasoning.

    Namely, the issue is not that one can construct any number of far-fetched possible reconstructions [recall, if you selectively hyperskeptically reject what you should bolieve on evidence and reason, that also means that somewhere you accept what is not well-warranted . . . ], but that they are to be compared on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power and the best warranted explanation is the one that shows itself superior on such facts, coherence and explanatory power.

    That Jesus fulfilled then centuries old OT prophecies in his life and service, leading many to see him as messiah is beyond reasonable doubt. That he was taken by the authorities, unjustly mistried and put to death on power games is also beyond reasonable doubt. That there were a reported 500+ eyewitnesses to his being raised form death in the very same body that had been so wickedly mistreated, with some 20 of them identified, is a matter of eyewitness lifetime record. And only the impact of those reported eyewitnesses can account for the dynamism of the church and its witness in the teeth of determined opposition by the powers that were.

    The usual deist-skeptical objections popular in C18 – 19 have long since fallen apart on want of explanatory scope, coherence and power: swoons, mass hallucinations, wrong tomb, stolen body and fraud etc. Today’s favourites ring off sincere but delusional apostles and an uncritical circle of disciples, which simply cannot account for the empty tomb or the conversion of skeptics like James and others in Jesus’ family, or the arch persecutor Saul of Tarsus. Not to mention, real hallucinatory visions just do not fit the pattern that would be required and cannot account for that undeniably empty tomb and otherwise “missing” body.

    This was no conjuring trick with a bag of bones.

    And we can observe the extremely significant point of what happened when I pointed out above what happened when that former persecutor turned leading missionary was on trial for his life in the Roman capital for the jurisdiction, before the client-king, C 59 AD. Paul called the king as his chief witness for the defense, on grounds that the matter was undeniably public knowledge: it was not done in a corner.

    The king, well aware of the political implications, could only give an evasive, side-tracking answer.

    And, lo and behold, in this very thread, we see the exact same rhetorical resort.

    (BTW, let us get it right: the real Hindu doctrine is transmigration of souls, hence sacred cows, sacred rats etc. The doctrine was repackaged in the late C19, when it was discovered that that which with Karma serves as the account for being in this vale of [apparent] tears — remember, the linked doctrine Maya, illusion — could give a hope of after death survival to those temped to believe evolutionary materialist skepticism. Seen any warrant recently that the rat in the glue trap is old great uncle Fred come back to pay the price of his dalliance with those servant girls? For that matter, CY, you are precisely right to highlight that there cannot be a stronger case for claimed reincarnation than for the resurrection of Jesus. Especially, given that — on the authoritative testimony of the one who credibly did rise from death — there is reason to note that there is evidence for deceitful spirits out there. A child with claimed past life memories, or a medium — and we are warned against trafficking with such spirits — is inherently extremely vulnerable to being misled. I think the one who was prophesied 700 years before hand, fulfilled it, and with 500+ eyewitnesses is inherently a lot more credible on comparative difficulties than the sorts of speculations and stories we see above and elsewhere to try to sustain reincarnation [repackaged transmigration of souls]. And, in this thread’s context the rhetorical purpose of that contrast is to try to suggest that the degree of warrant is comparable, and comparably bad: two empty sets may conflict but both are false. But the direct evidence is that the set of the eternally resurrected has at least one member.)

    For that matter, when above I at length presented a cumulative theistic argument, the answer was avoidance and side-tracking.

    Methinks that tells us that the objectors to the theistic inference on evidence are most reluctant to have their own assumptions and reasoning publicly scrutinised.

    That is a very important take-away lesson for this thread.

    GEM of TKI

  225. Onlookers (and Molch):

    I think it is worth the while to reiterate the challenge to address the case for generic theism presented yesterday in comment 207, but pointedly ignored:

    _________________________

    Molch:

    >> 8 –> Expanding briefly:

    a: Worldviews are not subject of deductive proof, as they address matters of fact, so they will be warranted on a cumulative case basis.

    b: Such an argument works analogously to a rope: thin, short individual fibres are twisted together to make a strand, and several strands are braided or counter-twisted together to form a much longer, stronger rope that depends on the mutual support of the components for its overall strength.

    c: In short it is a relevant instance of the fallacy of composition to assume or infer that by attacking individual components, one can dispose of a worldview case.

    d: Instead, one has to embark on the comparative difficulties process across live options, including addressing factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power; where,

    e: something like the resurrection of Jesus in the context of prophecies, if well warranted as fact [and we have argued in the linked above that it is] becomes one of the credible facts that has to be accounted for.

    f: In that context, we may effectively argue that the observed cosmos is credibly contingent [cf Big Bang], as well as its constituents, which warrants the conclusion that it requires a cause.

    g: At the root of that chain of cause is a necessary being, with sufficient power and skill to build a cosmos that sits at a fine-tuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life, even through multiverse suggestions [the sub-cosmos bread factory issue . . . what sort of supercosmic bread factory is needed to bake up a rich variety of sub-cosmi instead of the equivalent of a doughy half baked mess of ill-blended ingredients, or a blackened hockey puck of burned ingredients]

    h: Similarly, such a necessary being is either possible or impossible, but plainly it is not impossible: there is no self-contradiction, and indeed the above warrants that it is necessary as the ground of the contingent world we can see. So arguably the force of necessity acts: there is such a necessary being with the relevant attributes to account for a cosmos and for life including ourselves as minded, conscious, enconscienced creatures.

    i: That necessary being is implicated by the evident design of life and cosmos, and has the attributes necessary to account for such design: extracosmic, intelligent, very powerful, purposeful, acting as creator. These are of course features of the being we describe as God.

    j: Going further, as morally bound creatures — something atheists inadvertently acknowledge when they assume the repugnance of evil in mistakenly trying to argue from evil to atheism — a moral universe implies that the ground of its being is an IS that has in it inherent goodness sufficient to ground OUGHT. That is God is moral and specifically good.

    k: To cap off, starting with the 500+ eyewitnesses of C1, and continuing down to today, millions have personally come to meet and know the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. (And if you are offended by Christian particularism, I suggest you look here as a start.)

    9 –> You of course claimed that there is a rich literature in critique of such a cumulative case. What you need to show to us is that that rich literature succeeds, not in showing what was never at issue — that it is possible to reject such arguments by challenging premises and dismissing facts — but that on comparative difficulties, your atheism is a superior conclusion, including in the implications of alternative premises to the rejected ones.

    10 –> In particular, do not forget that if the human mind is so delusional that the millions across time who claim to have met and been transformed by God are deluded, then on what alternative grounds can you trust your mind not to be deluded when it arrives at atheistical, evolutionary materialistic conclusions?

    _________________

    I think the ball is now in your court. >>
    _________________________

    So, Molch, could you kindly provide us a summary or a link — at least, one better than Stenger’s seminar — on why it is that you concluded that the above fails by comparative difficulties contrast with [evolutionary materialistic] atheism on points of logic, science and philosophy?

    GEM of TKI

  226. F/N: The point of the rope analogy is that weak, short fibres can mutually reinforce where they come into contact, and in so doing build up a strength that does not depend on the weakness of the individual fibres. But instead the added up strength of the whole is based on how the little strengths of individual fibres are added up and the coherence of the whole through twist and counter-twist that holds them together so they take a mutual grip. Consequently the rope builds on strengths and compensates for weaknesses, achieving a suprisingly powerful overall result. (It is familiarity that makes us take what a rope is for granted, it is a showcase of astonishing technology and design strategy.)

  227. Hi everyone,

    Well, I see that the argument has been raging fiercely in my absence.

    Molch has been asking about arguments for the existence of God. The links on my page that I would most recommend that he read are the following:

    A. Modal Cosmological Argument

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....cture.html

    http://www.arn.org/docs/koons/cosmo.pdf

    Also: http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....sible.html

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/.....Theism.pdf

    B. Cosmic Fine-Tuning

    http://home.messiah.edu/~rcoll.....20talk.htm

    http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/ (Scroll down and click on the link to “God and the Laws of Nature.”

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/.....gument.pdf (very good article)

    http://people.pwf.cam.ac.uk/df...../sober.pdf

    C. Miracles

    http://people.pwf.cam.ac.uk/df...../sober.pdf

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com.....le1757984/

    http://www.messengersaintantho.....171IDRX=55 (PLEASE READ the last paragraph)

    http://www.therealpresence.org.....ir/a3.html

    4. Attributes of God

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....us/#NatThe

    http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jross/dunsscotus.htm

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....38;id=8429

    http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/love.htm

    5. Immateriality of the Human Mind

    http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDe.....ualism.pdf

    http://www2.nd.edu/Departments.....allagh.htm

    http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDe.....ellect.pdf

    http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jross/zchap6.htm

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....art-i.html

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....-part.html

    http://www.iscid.org/papers/Me.....103103.pdf

    http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....-empirical

    Well, that’s a start.

  228. “Could there be another possibility to explain the sighting of a man that looks and behaves just like an allegedly dead man?”
    “Yes. There could be.”

    Thanks for admitting that much.

    “the witness of prophecy, the witness of history, and the testimony of changed lives”

    If you think that your world-view is the only one that lays claim to these categories of witnesses, you know even less about other world-views than I thought.

    “I believe in xyz based on a propensity of evidence from many sources; including xyz accounts, contemporary xyz testimony to certain facts surrounding the events before and after xyz, the witness of prophecy, the witness of history, and the testimony of changed lives. I don’t have to jump to xyz based on any one factor, I can take them as a whole.”

    Reincarnationist X is going to tell you something quite like that. And adherent of worldview 1A is going to tell you something quite like that. And adherent of worldview 2A, and, and , and,….

    “Could you say the same for reincarnation that the most reasonable explanations for a child’s knowledge of a dead person’s life, when the child obviously has a different body than the dead person, that reincarnation is the best and warranted explanation according to your own world-view assumptions? That is the real issue here. I don’t mean according to the assumptions of someone who would accept reincarnation even if there was no evidence”

    MY worldview assumptions don’t matter here in the least!!!! The world-view assumptions and EVIDENCES of reincarnationist X matter! And you have absolutely NO GROUNDS, none whatsoever, to claim that reincarnationist X CANNOT have just as many, or more, and better, evidence for reincarnation than you have for the resurrection of one man 2000 years ago! You haven’t checked! If reincarnationist X really does witness the scenario I described, and reincarnationist X already has loads of other reasons to believe that reincarnation is true, this evidence is orders of magnitude more convincing than the documentation you can produce for that one resurrection event 2000 years ago.

    “due to your a priori materialism, you can’t distinguish between more reasonable and warranted “supernatural” claims and less warranted “supernatural” claims. They seem to be all the same to you.”

    And there you go again, making all kinds of un-warranted assumptions. You have no idea if I am a materialist. And IT DOES NOT MATTER TO THE DISCUSSION AT HAND!!!!! I am starting to feel like I am talking to a wall!
    The reason why I introduced the reincarnation example is because it is one of the HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS or MILLIONS (I don’t know, I haven’t counted; neither have you) of possible atheist worldviews.

    That’s why this statement of yours: “With atheism there is no solid foundation. With Christian theism there is.”
    …is still, and absolutely, and categorically, wrong.
    You know the reason why I introduced this example. I said so when I did. I really don’t know why you either don’t understand this or pretend that this is not so.

    The ONLY statement I want you to justify or retract is this: “With atheism there is no solid foundation. With Christian theism there is.” This statement is claiming a UNIVERSAL NEGATIVE. Which is exactly why MY world-view does not matter in the least. Even IF you could show that my particular world-view, or the particular world-view of reincarnationist X, cannot be as rigorously defended as yours, that does not get you ANY closer to justifying a universal negative!!!

  229. vjtorley:

    “Molch has been asking about arguments for the existence of God”

    No. I haven’t. Why does nobody read what I am actually saying?

    But I have a feeling that I’m not going to get an answer to this question either.

  230. Molch:

    Let’s take this from the top, from 207 (and you are again twisting CY’s words into pretzels, BTW).

    Note, the below is a positive case, on inference to best explanation:

    __________________

    >> 8 –> Expanding briefly:

    a: Worldviews are not subject of deductive proof, as they address matters of fact, so they will be warranted on a cumulative case basis.

    b: Such an argument works analogously to a rope: thin, short individual fibres are twisted together to make a strand, and several strands are braided or counter-twisted together to form a much longer, stronger rope that depends on the mutual support of the components for its overall strength.

    c: In short it is a relevant instance of the fallacy of composition to assume or infer that by attacking individual components, one can dispose of a worldview case.

    d: Instead, one has to embark on the comparative difficulties process across live options, including addressing factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power; where,

    e: something like the resurrection of Jesus in the context of prophecies, if well warranted as fact [and we have argued in the linked that it is] becomes one of the credible facts that has to be accounted for.

    f: In that context, we may effectively argue that the observed cosmos is credibly contingent [cf Big Bang], as well as its constituents, which warrants the conclusion that it requires a cause.

    g: At the root of that chain of cause is a necessary being, with sufficient power and skill to build a cosmos that sits at a fine-tuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life, even through multiverse suggestions [the sub-cosmos bread factory issue . . . what sort of supercosmic bread factory is needed to bake up a rich variety of sub-cosmi instead of the equivalent of a doughy half baked mess of ill-blended ingredients, or a blackened hockey puck of burned ingredients]

    h: Similarly, such a necessary being is either possible or impossible, but plainly it is not impossible: there is no self-contradiction, and indeed the above warrants that it is necessary as the ground of the contingent world we can see. So arguably the force of necessity acts: there is such a necessary being with the relevant attributes to account for a cosmos and for life including ourselves as minded, conscious, enconscienced creatures.

    i: That necessary being is implicated by the evident design of life and cosmos, and has the attributes necessary to account for such design: extracosmic, intelligent, very powerful, purposeful, acting as creator. These are of course features of the being we describe as God.

    j: Going further, as morally bound creatures — something atheists inadvertently acknowledge when they assume the repugnance of evil in mistakenly trying to argue from evil to atheism — a moral universe implies that the ground of its being is an IS that has in it inherent goodness sufficient to ground OUGHT. That is God is moral and specifically good.

    k: To cap off, starting with the 500+ eyewitnesses of C1, and continuing down to today, millions have personally come to meet and know the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. (And if you are offended by Christian particularism, I suggest you look here as a start.)

    9 –> You of course claimed that there is a rich literature in critique of such a cumulative case. What you need to show to us is that that rich literature succeeds, not in showing what was never at issue — that it is possible to reject such arguments by challenging premises and dismissing facts — but that on comparative difficulties, your atheism is a superior conclusion, including in the implications of alternative premises to the rejected ones.

    10 –> In particular, do not forget that if the human mind is so delusional that the millions across time who claim to have met and been transformed by God are deluded, then on what alternative grounds can you trust your mind not to be deluded when it arrives at atheistical, evolutionary materialistic conclusions?

    _________________

    I think the ball is now in your court. >>
    ___________________

    Again — third time.

    GEM of TKI

  231. CY:

    your lengthy post in 223 is very telling: you are presenting very detailed arguments for the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. You want me to present my arguments for rejecting them. Only if I can do that, you claim, can I be a “true atheist”.

    Adherent to worldview X can do the exact same thing to you. He can be presenting you with detailed arguments for worldview X. He can ask you to present your arguments for rejecting them. Only if you can do that, can you be a “true anti-X”.

    But no, you say: “A person can have a solid foundation for belief in Christ without one bit of consideration of other competing claims, and I stand on that foundation.”

    Here is your problem (as I have repeated for the umpteenth time): adherent of worldview X ay the exact same thing:

    “A person can have a solid foundation for belief in X without one bit of consideration of other competing claims, and I stand on that foundation.”

    You have no grounds to say he is wrong. Because in order to determine that adherent of worldview X DOES NOT stand on a solid foundation, you would actually have to look at the claims and arguments of worldview X. But you just said that you DON’T have to look at them. You can’t have it both ways.

  232. 232

    molch,

    me: “Could there be another possibility to explain the sighting of a man that looks and behaves just like an allegedly dead man?”
    “Yes. There could be.”

    molch: “Thanks for admitting that much.”

    It’s not an issue of my “admitting that much.” On any proposition one is obligated to allow all reasonable possibilities until more specifics are known. In this case there could be other explanations, and as I have already gone through, there are specifics that are know, which can and do rule out the other possibilities you suggest. Your first assumption here is false. Jesus wasn’t an “allegedly dead man.” He was dead, and none of the evidence should lead one to suggest that he did not die from the crucifixion. And this is the position of most scholarly skeptics; that Jesus died from the crucifixion, and that was the end of it.

    me: “the witness of prophecy, the witness of history, and the testimony of changed lives”

    molch: “If you think that your world-view is the only one that lays claim to these categories of witnesses, you know even less about other world-views than I thought.”

    I don’t think that, and laying claim to something is not warranting something.

    “Reincarnationist X is going to tell you something quite like that. And adherent of worldview 1A is going to tell you something quite like that. And adherent of worldview 2A, and, and , and,….”

    I fail to see how this is at all relevant. As I stated above, laying claim to something is not warranting something.

    “That’s why this statement of yours: ‘With atheism there is no solid foundation. With Christian theism there is.’
    …is still, and absolutely, and categorically, wrong.”

    I base this statement on my “conclusion” based on evidence that God exists, and that He is in fact the God of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. It therefore is not absolutely and categorically wrong apart from your ability to show that the God of the Judeo-Christian scriptures does not exist. That’s the bottom line here. All these issues regarding reincarnation and reincarnationist X are completely irrelevant, while your world-view would seem to be completely relevant.

    “The ONLY statement I want you to justify or retract is this: ‘With atheism there is no solid foundation. With Christian theism there is.’ This statement is claiming a UNIVERSAL NEGATIVE.”

    I’ve already justified it.

  233. “I’ve already justified it.”

    Oh yeah? Wow – I must have missed the part where you showed that each single one of the HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS or MILLIONS of non-Christian truth claims are not warranted.

  234. “As I stated above, laying claim to something is not warranting something.”

    Yeah, and assuming that something is not warranted is not warranting that it is not warranted.

  235. Molch:

    F/N, re:

    in order to determine that adherent of worldview X DOES NOT stand on a solid foundation, you would actually have to look at the claims and arguments of worldview X. But you just said that you DON’T have to look at them. You can’t have it both ways.

    Nope.

    There is an effective infinity of possible worldviews, so the point you just made would knock out your own “concluded” atheism too.

    What is necessary to reasonable ground a worldview choice beyond question begging, is reasonable assessment on comparative difficulties and on positive claims, on key facts, questions and issues, in light of self-evident first principles of right reason. (And, remember here CY is apparently a former atheist himself, so he has plainly been doing some of that.)

    So, for instance, once we have in hand a reasonable cluster of basic, warranted, credible truths, we can have high confidence that if a particular worldview cuts across them, so much the worse for he worldview. (For instance, radical relativism on knowledge is absurd as it boils down tot he claim to know there is no possibility of knowing. Radical relativism on morals and/or amorality are dismissible once one recognises that we are inescapably bound by moral principle . . . as even atheists imply when they try to appeal to the repugnance of evil. And if a worldview asserts, assumes or implies that the mind is not credible as a means to confident positive knowledge — which the above cite is perilously close to — then it is itself exposed as absurd. Implications for evolutionary materialistic views are NOT coincidental.)

    Similarly, if one has met and has actually come to know God in the face of Christ, who has authenticated his claim to Deity by breaking the bars of death [with 500+ witnesses] then he is entirely entitled to take the following remarks by Jesus quite seriously:

    Jn 3: 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

    On the strength of that, one has a reasonable presumption that if some particular claim or teaching radically cuts across or denies that credibly known starting point then it will most likely be false. Of course, one may actually examine it in some level of detail, as being reasonable is not incompatible with believing that one confidently knows some true things.

    Similarly, on looking at the worldview level grounds for generic theism on a basic warrant on comparative difficulties of alternative major premises [not least, in light of basic warranted, credible truths that may not be fashionable today but nonetheless are just that: well warranted and credibly true -- often, on pain of absurdity], one may have good grounds for being confident of theism.

    And, one is then in a perfectly reasonable position to say that my confident knowledge is not hostage to your skepticism.

    But, then, that point has been repeatedly made above, and has never been confuted, just ignored.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Still waiting . . .

  236. —molch: “No. I haven’t. Why does nobody read what I am actually saying?”

    I have read what you say, which is why I followed up with a number of questions that you didn’t answer.

    —”But I have a feeling that I’m not going to get an answer to this question either.”

    The problem is that you have been asking too many questions and answering too few. If you would just try responding to some of them, you would be well on the road to understanding many of your faulty assumptions. Those questions were asked for a reason.

    …”is still, and absolutely, and categorically, wrong.” [atheism has no rational foundation]

    There you go again. You tell us that atheism has a rational foundation, but when we ask you to tell us what it is, you act as if the question was never asked.

    —”MY worldview assumptions don’t matter here in the least!!!!”
    —”The world-view assumptions and EVIDENCES of reincarnationist X matter!”

    Your world view determines how you interpret that evidence. I interpret evidence in light of the first principles of right reason. It is only fair, then, to ask this question yet again: Through what principles do you interpret evidence?

    —”And you have absolutely NO GROUNDS, none whatsoever, to claim that reincarnationist X CANNOT have just as many, or more, and better, evidence for reincarnation than you have for the resurrection of one man 2000 years ago!”

    I can, indeed, make that claim based on a reasonable interpretation of the facts in evidence and on the historical record.

    On the other hand, you are not in a position to make that judgment because you do not know the arguments in favor of the resurrection.

    Here are just three out of a hundred questions that I could ask you on points that you have never considered. Why did the Pharisees bribe Roman Guards to say that the apostles carried away Christ’s body? If they believed their own story, why did they not demand to know where the body was taken? Who moved the stone?

    I could also ask you to explain, in the absence of an omniscient Christian God, how hundreds of prophecies contained in the Old Testament could manifest themselves as historical events in the New Testament. Yet you, blissfully unaware of these and countless other points, tell us that you have considered all the evidence for a Christian God and found it wanting. Sorry, I for one am not buying your story.

    —”The ONLY statement I want you to justify or retract is this: “With atheism there is no solid foundation. With Christian theism there is.”

    What would I want to retract an obvious fact that is easy to verify.

    If you don’t agree, why don’t you explain atheism’s solid rational foundation. It is not as if you have never been asked.

    —”does not get you ANY closer to justifying a universal negative!!!”

    You really need to drop that term because you are using it inappropriately. A double negative applies mainly when making assumptions about things that may exist that we do not know about. There are no major world religions that we do not know about, so please stop indulging in irrelevant semantic quibbles and answer some of the questions that have been put to you.

  237. 237

    molch,

    “your lengthy post in 223 is very telling: you are presenting very detailed arguments for the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. You want me to present my arguments for rejecting them. Only if I can do that, you claim, can I be a ‘true atheist’.”:

    Yes, in a way. First let’s distinguish what I mean by “true atheist.” What I mean by this is a person who can say “there is no god or gods,” or “there probably or possibly is no god or gods” and be logically consistent.

    First of all, I don’t believe there are many atheists who categorically state “There is no god or gods.” While I have met some who say this, it is doubtful they have thought through the problem with such a statement. I would say that most atheists who have thought through this, view their beliefs as “weak atheism” as opposed to “strong atheism.”

    In other words, the “weak atheist” would state more like “There is possibly or probably no god or gods.”

    Now in order to make such a statement and be logically consistent would necessitate some evidence that there possibly or probably is no god or gods. And such evidence would obviously imply a lack of or an absence of meaningful evidence for the existence of a god or gods.

    It seems to me that in order to be coherent in such a position, one should have to deal with the claims that there is a god or gods, which purport to have evidence for such a god or gods – not only the claims of Christianity, but also the claims of all other theistic religions.

    You’re charging that Christianity must also do this, but your charge is simply begging the question of God’s existence. If God exists and He is the God of the Christian scriptures, and He has provided sufficient evidence for such a belief, then there really isn’t a need to go any further. You may disagree with this, and you are certainly entitled to, but I believe the sufficient evidence is there. That’s what this thread is about, and VJT posted plenty of the evidence and arguments for why this is so.

    However, if I charge that there possibly or probably is no god, I would certainly want to know if that were true or not by considering the claims of those who say there is a god or gods, and who claim to have evidence for such a claim.

    So the issue here is this:

    It is the atheist who really needs to look into all the other truth claims regarding God’s existence in order to remain coherent and not beg questions, since to not do so, would be to avoid possible evidence.

    The Christian theist has already dealt with the question of God’s existence, and found a coherent foundation in the Judeo-Christian scriptures and in other evidential factors. It then becomes unnecessary – however valuable, to consider the claims of all the other religions, which make claims about the existence of god or gods, or the non-existence of god or gods. The question has already been sufficiently answered in the positive and by sufficient evidence.

    On the other hand, Christians have considered the claims of other religions, and Christians have given sufficient reasons for not accepting many of those competing claims. Christianity has also considered the claims of atheism, and as I have already pointed out, the arguments for the existence of God address many of those claims. So Christianity is not a faith that doesn’t consider other truth claims. Other truth claims do not need to be considered, however to maintain coherently faith in the Christ of Christianity.

    Obviously the atheist does not need to look into Christianity’s arguments to come to belief in God – such can be done and has been done merely by inference – by concluding that what looks designed in nature is in fact designed, or through a thorough understanding of the cosmological argument, or through many other means.

    But in order to maintain a position of atheism, one would need to rule out the claims of Christianity and all other theistic claims, because one is making a claim of a universal negative – and it remains a negative no matter how weakly one makes the claim – (i.e., “there is no, probably is no, or possibly is no god or gods).

    One can remain an atheist without looking into any of the claims of theism, but one cannot maintain such a belief coherently and without question begging.

    Now you charge also that for a Christian to say that other religious truth claims are false merely by their incompatibility with scripture is to make a universal negative truth claim. Such is not the case. Christianity makes a universal positive truth claim, and as such, what is incompatible with it can be said to not be true on the strength of the evidence in support of that claim. So it isn’t a universal negative truth claim, but as KF pointed out, it’s an issue of comparative difficulties.

  238. 238

    molch,

    Did a man named Jesus exist and walk the Earth? Can we start talking about actualities about what you agree or disagree with about the historical Jesus?

  239. F/N: A universal negative claim is of form that there is no X.

    A single counter instance suffices to break it, unless it can be shown positively that X is impossible (especially by reductio ad absurdum on the implications of the law of non-contradiction. [I suspect, BTW, many of Molch's troubles trace to trouble with that law.]).

    That BTW, is one good reason why worldview analysis should start form first principles of right reason. the chop away a lot of luxuriant foliage and clear up the vistas.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Molch, still waiting . . .

  240. PPS: Onlookers, observe the silent impact of Plantinga’s devastation of the former keystone atheistical argument: that on the reality of evil, the concept of God becomes self-contradictory so we need not consider it further.

    That is why current atheists have moved to ever softer forms of their claim, as they know that absent that sort of formerly claimed self-contradiction in the concept of God, it is a pretty hard row to hoe to claim that a finite, fallible, mostly ignorant creature like we are, confidently knows enough to assert beyond fear of error, that there is no God.

  241. PPPS: And then along come the design theorists a decade or two later and begin to take away the nice neat evolutionary materialistic science that says, we can explain everything without need for cosmic designers.

    P4s: Closely followed by the Minimal fact defenders of the historicity of the resurrection described in 1 Cor 15:1 – 11 . . .

  242. CY:

    “For an adherent to worldview X to say that other worldview truth claims are false merely by their incompatibility with X is to make a universal negative truth claim. Such is not the case. X makes a universal positive truth claim, and as such, what is incompatible with it can be said to not be true on the strength of the evidence in support of that claim.”

    “For an adherent to worldview Y to say that other worldview truth claims are false merely by their incompatibility with Y is to make a universal negative truth claim. Such is not the case. Y makes a universal positive truth claim, and as such, what is incompatible with it can be said to not be true on the strength of the evidence in support of that claim.”

    All you are doing here is change the semantics from the earlier term “warranted evidence” to “universal positive truth claim”. Although you are obviously grounding this “universal positive truth claim” in “warranted evidence”. So this changes nothing. All you have to do now is tell me how you determine the validity of a universal positive truth claim Y, when “It [is] unnecessary to consider the claims of Y” is the central premise of your argument.

  243. CH:

    Re 238: Did a man named Jesus exist and walk the Earth?

    Noted Canadian NT scholar Craig Evans, in the 2004 Benthal public lecture at U of Calgary, observed:

    _______________

    >>My purpose tonight is to lay before you what I believe are key facets in the scholarly discussion of the historical Jesus. In my view there are five important areas of investigation and in all five there has been significant progress in recent years. I shall frame these areas as questions. They include (1) the question of the ethnic, religious, and social location of Jesus; (2) the question of the aims and mission of Jesus; (3) the question of Jesus’ self-understanding; (4) the question of Jesus’ death; and (5) the question of Jesus’ resurrection. All of these questions directly bear on the relevance of Jesus for Christian faith and some of them have important implications for Jewish- Christian relations . . . .

    The story told in the New Testament Gospels—in contrast to the greatly embellished versions found in the Gospel of Peter and other writings— smacks of verisimilitude. The women went to the tomb to mourn privately and to perform duties fully in step with Jewish burial customs. They expected to find the body of Jesus; ideas of resurrection were the last thing on their minds. The careful attention given the temporary tomb is exactly what we should expect. Pious fiction—like that seen in the Gospel of Peter— would emphasize other things. Archaeology can neither prove nor disprove the resurrection, but it can and has shed important light on the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and missing corpse . . . .

    Research in the historical Jesus has taken several positive steps in recent years. Archaeology, remarkable literary discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and progress in reassessing the social, economic, and political setting of first-century Palestine have been major factors. Notwithstanding the eccentricities and skepticism of the Jesus Seminar [the original raw transcript was pungent!], the persistent trend in recent years is to see the Gospels as essentially reliable, especially when properly understood, and to view the historical Jesus in terms much closer to Christianity’s traditional understanding, i.e., as proclaimer of God’s rule, as understanding himself as the Lord’s anointed, and, indeed, as God’s own son, destined to rule Israel. But this does not mean that the historical Jesus that has begun to emerge in recent years is simply a throwback to the traditional portrait. The picture of Jesus that has emerged is more finely nuanced, more obviously Jewish, and in some ways more unpredictable than ever. The last word on the subject has not been written and probably never will be. Ongoing discovery and further investigation will likely force us to make further revisions as we read and read again the old Gospel stories and try to come to grips with the life of this remarkable Galilean Jew.>>
    _______________

    In short, after nigh on 200 years of extreme and unwarranted hyperskepticism, the balance of scholarship backed by archaeological discoveries has come around to the acceptance of the fundamental historicity of the Gospels as primary sources, and has underscored their C1 hebraic context. It has also underscored the contrast between the gospels and the recent wave of Gnostic texts from C2 on, that were recently promoted as though they were of comparable worth as primary sources.

    In that context, Christian thinkers addressing challenges tothe factual basis for the gospel as summarised in the AD 55 1 Cor 15:1 – 11, have emphasised up to twelve so-called minimal facts that have to be accounted for by any serious explanation of the roots of the Christian Faith:

    1. Jesus [by implication accepted as an historical figure recoverable in material part from the record] died by crucifixion.

    2. He was buried.

    3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.

    4. The tomb was empty (the most contested) [and if it were not, why then didn't the authorities simply go to the right tomb and display the corpse? why the record of a bribe to spread the story of a raid by the disheartened disciples?].

    5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).

    6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.

    7. The resurrection was the central [authenticating] message [of the gospel, cf. Ac 2:16 - 41].

    8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem [cf. ditto].

    9. The Church was born and grew [cf. Ac 1 - 12].

    10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.

    11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).

    12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

    When one does an inference to best explanation analysis of the various alternative reconstructions, it soon becomes very evident that the authenticity of the NT record as primary sources is firmly grounded, and the skeptical alternatives — once anti-supernaturalist prejudice is not allowed to beg the question — simply cannot stand up to the minimal facts that are credible.

    GEM of TKI

  244. F/N to Onlookers:

    Similarly, when one takes a comparative difficulties look at the theistic arguments case, on fair comment, the balance is a lot different than what one would get if one simply tired to reject key premises piecemeal and drew the concousio0n that one needs pay no attention to anything but a deductive proof from premises acceptable to all.

    For, the aggregate worldview level commitment to reject a cumulative case such as the following [coming from 207] places one on a very sticky comparative difficulties wicket.

    In short, generic theism and Judaeo-Christian theism are a lot more credible as worldview options than many are wont to acknowledge. And the old theistic arguments, in a suitably modern cumulative case form, pack more punch than many objectors acknowledge:

    _______________

    >>8 –> Expanding briefly:

    a: Worldviews are not subject of deductive proof, as they address matters of fact, so they will be warranted on a cumulative case basis.

    b: Such an argument works analogously to a rope: thin, short individual fibres are twisted together to make a strand, and several strands are braided or counter-twisted together to form a much longer, stronger rope that depends on the mutual support of the components for its overall strength.

    c: In short it is a relevant instance of the fallacy of composition to assume or infer that by attacking individual components, one can dispose of a worldview case.

    d: Instead, one has to embark on the comparative difficulties process across live options, including addressing factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power; where,

    e: something like the resurrection of Jesus in the context of prophecies, if well warranted as fact [and we have argued in the linked that it is] becomes one of the credible facts that has to be accounted for.

    f: In that context, we may effectively argue that the observed cosmos is credibly contingent [cf Big Bang], as well as its constituents, which warrants the conclusion that it requires a cause.

    g: At the root of that chain of cause is a necessary being, with sufficient power and skill to build a cosmos that sits at a fine-tuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life, even through multiverse suggestions [the sub-cosmos bread factory issue . . . what sort of supercosmic bread factory is needed to bake up a rich variety of sub-cosmi instead of the equivalent of a doughy half baked mess of ill-blended ingredients, or a blackened hockey puck of burned ingredients]

    h: Similarly, such a necessary being is either possible or impossible, but plainly it is not impossible: there is no self-contradiction, and indeed the above warrants that it is necessary as the ground of the contingent world we can see. So arguably the force of necessity acts: there is such a necessary being with the relevant attributes to account for a cosmos and for life including ourselves as minded, conscious, enconscienced creatures.

    i: That necessary being is implicated by the evident design of life and cosmos, and has the attributes necessary to account for such design: extracosmic, intelligent, very powerful, purposeful, acting as creator. These are of course features of the being we describe as God.

    j: Going further, as morally bound creatures — something atheists inadvertently acknowledge when they assume the repugnance of evil in mistakenly trying to argue from evil to atheism — a moral universe implies that the ground of its being is an IS that has in it inherent goodness sufficient to ground OUGHT. That is God is moral and specifically good.

    k: To cap off, starting with the 500+ eyewitnesses of C1, and continuing down to today, millions have personally come to meet and know the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. (And if you are offended by Christian particularism, I suggest you look here as a start.)

    9 –> You of course claimed that there is a rich literature in critique of such a cumulative case. What you need to show to us is that that rich literature succeeds, not in showing what was never at issue — that it is possible to reject such arguments by challenging premises and dismissing facts — but that on comparative difficulties, your atheism is a superior conclusion, including in the implications of alternative premises to the rejected ones.

    10 –> In particular, do not forget that if the human mind is so delusional that the millions across time who claim to have met and been transformed by God are deluded, then on what alternative grounds can you trust your mind not to be deluded when it arrives at atheistical, evolutionary materialistic conclusions? >>
    ________________

    So, now, it seems there is a considerable amount of Autumn reading and thinking for skeptics — especially those of evolutionary materialistic stripe — to do.

    GEM of TKI

  245. F/n 2:

    Following up Stenger (in absence of M’s positive case for his “concluded” atheism) in his free thinker seminar just a bit more is further illuminating, though not happily so:

    _________________

    >>T: Philosopher William Lane Craig has argued that the universe had a beginning, therefore it must have had a cause. That cause is God.
    A: Quantum events can happen without cause. Perhaps our universe was a quantum event in a larger universe that always was.
    T: You have no evidence for this.
    A: You have no evidence against it. Current physics and cosmology allow for such a scenario . . . .

    T: Where did the order of the universe come from?
    A: It could have been produced spontaneously by natural processes of a type that are now beginning to be understood in physics. One such process is called “spontaneous symmetry breaking.” It’s like the formation of a snowflake.

    T: Still, the second law of thermodynamics says that disorder, or entropy, must increase with time. It must have started out more orderly than it is now, as created by God.
    A: An expanding universe allows increasing room for order to form. The universe could have started as a tiny black hole with maximum entropy, produced by a quantum fluctuation, and then exploded in the big bang.
    T: You can’t prove that. No one was there to see it.
    A: You can’t disprove it. Such a scenario is allowed by current scientific knowledge.>>
    __________________

    a –> The issue is not whether WLC said something,k but that in fact both in observation and on first principles of right reason, that which is contingent is caused.

    b –> The quantum events are uncaused canard neatly glides over the basic point that causal factors come in several forms — e.g. contributory, sustaining, necessary, sufficient, necessary and sufficient — and that a truly acausal event or effect would have to come from nowhere or anywhere, anytime, with no constraints, leading to a chaos not a cosmos.

    c –> The very existence of physics as a reliable science is eloquent testimony that events and effects are NOT acausal, inclduing quantum ones. (Think about how a population of radioactive atoms shows a definite decay constant and a consistent pattern of decay with a stable half-life.)

    d –> Next VS ducks the point that without observational evidence and without being there to observe, one is actually indulging in metaphysical speculation, not true science. Materialistic metaphysics is metaphysics and needs to come to a level playing field discussion of comparative difficulties across all reasonable alternatives.

    e –> The issue is not that the universe is ordered, but that it sits at a finely tuned operating point that enables C-chemistry cell based life, on many dozens of parameters. So, even through the usual multiverse speculations, we face the question: how did the cosmos bread-making factory get set up that it does this. And a credible candidate explanation is that the observed cosmos is the work of an intelligent and powerful deeply knowledgeable designer.

    f –> The notion that the observed universe started from amximum entropy then transformed itself to a position of an extremely finely balanced operating point through a fluctuation is either an appeal to miraculous luck [a materialistic miracle] or else to a multiverse set up as cosmos-bakery.

    g –> Remember, the fineness of the balance is such that (as BA is fond of noting) it seems that one grain of sand more or less would have tipped the cosmos away from being C-chemistry cell based life permitting.

    h –> So, as BA suggests, go outside tonight, look up at the stars, then take up one grain of sand, and put it next to your computer monitor as a reminder of just how finely balanced our cosmos is for you to be here thinking about it.

    _______________

    In short, what is happening is that the underlying unacknowledged, imposed question-begging evolutionary materialistic premise is driving the conclusions that are here being pushed under the false colours of science.

    (One may wish to have a look here and here to see a 101 level survey of an alternative view, note the embedded video series.)

    GEM of TKI

  246. 246

    KF,

    Habermas and Licona concentrate on the 5 facts which are undisputed by even most skeptical scholars. However, your 12 facts seem to be in line with their 5. In other words, they’re broken down to more detail from the 5 with the exception of facts 6-10. However these facts concern the efficacy of belief, which a skeptic would obviously deny; which I find quite revealing. The typical skeptic does not believe that the force or power of the resurrection accounts to the believer is a factor, but it clearly is.

  247. CY:

    I am actually giving what seems to be GH’s full list of 12, with my parenthetical comments. In debates they usually have limited time and focus on 3 or 4 – 6. (Cf discussion in my note on selective hyperskepticism as linked several times above, here.)

    It should be plain that the C1 NT era believers accepted the resurrection and that their preaching was premised on it as can be seen from Ac 2.

    This holds even if this is taken as a Herodotus or Thucydides style composite representational speech not a recall-based summary of a pivotal speech at a crucial moment in history, with thousands of witnesses. Witnesses that Luke would have had some access to in 57 – 59 AD during Paul’s visit to the Holy Land, imprisonment and trials.

    As I just submitted over at Confident Christianity, the recent attempt to wrench Paul’s term “spiritual body” into more or less ghost, is utterly at odds with the record, e.g.:

    Read this, from a tested and reliable historian with access to the eyewitnesses, giving what is a plainly embarrassing account: they think they see a ghost, they doubt the resurrection they are in context thinking of old wive’s fables, and Jesus had to give them a physical demonstration, on multiple levels, and at he end they were in a state of “mi caa’nt believe it,” i.e. amazement.

    Was this man — or were his sources — lying, on what grounds?

    Let us see:

    Lk 24:36 While they [the 12 less 2 plus Cleopas and companion, etc] were still talking about this [the incident on the walk to Emmaus], Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

    37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost [pneuma -- spirit] does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

    40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. [think about how many levels of collective hallucination would have to be involved here, and then contrast what we know about hallucinations, or "visions" if you will -- and remember the tomb was empty and the guards were spending freely and telling a crazy story about the tomb being robbed by the disciples while said guards slept [oh, sure . . . you know what happens while you are sleeping, and if you crack an eye you are afraid to take on a bunch of ill-armed civilians burdened with a corpse] who were hiding behind locked doors, while they slept . . . ]

    44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” [I.e. claims to be fulfilling the Messianic tradition and prophecies of the OT, e.g. 700 BC Isa 52:13 - 53:12]

    This report credibly dates to 57 – 59 AD, and to a circle of witnesses [cf Lk 1:1 - 4]. The document’s subsequent external attestation begins 95 – 6 AD in Clement’s letters to Corinth.

    A comparison with Ac 2:16 – 41 will abundantly confirm that he C1 teaching is indeed strongly focussed on the resurrection in this hebraic context. (Remember, this is the age of carefully collected bones stored in ossuaries to set the stage for the resurrection of the body,the bones being the last part tangibly preserved. Didn’t they find Caiaphas’ ossuary some years back?)

    What was new in Christianity was not resurrection but WHEN it happened as a pioneer and promise of the end of days, exactly as Paul takes pains to address in 1 Cor 15.

    So, when I see attempts to make out that the C1 church’s message was not based on a robust and justified — yea even well warranted, but justified will do for the argument — belief that the apostles and other core witnesses were eyewitnesses to resurrection in the bodily sense, I conclude that selective hyperskepticism has gone amok.

    (In short I take the minimal facts and argue for further credible facts too. Then the challenge opens up: what best explains the credible facts?)

    GEM of TKI

  248. PS: Don’t forget: think just how embarrassing all of this is to the very core leaders of the C1 church, the 12 themselves, here less 2. Full of doubts, dismissing accounts from those who had already seen Jesus as old wives’ hysterical tales, mistaking their risen Lord for a duppy [is this Caribbean dialect term sufficiently shocking to make the point hit home?], having to be coaxed to touch him, and feed him [remember ANE hospitality rules], having to be instructed again on the prophecies they should by now be connecting to the chain of events. Such are quite serious admissions against interest and would have been ammunition aplenty for supplanting leadership. Save: the principal NT era qualification to be a lead missionary was: eyewitness to the risen Christ.

  249. F/n Wintery Knight has a survey of atheist views here. Interesting reading,

    Sampler:

    _____________________

    >>Question 4: What are your main objections to God’s existence and knowability?

    * I have nothing against religious belief. I don’t feel that I need it to cope with or explore life.
    * All religions are all man-made
    * All religions are the same
    * Religions all have the same goal, to make people act morally
    * Religions all have the same goal, to make civilization survive
    * Belief is when you suspend critical thinking because you want, so much, for something to be true. That’s not very grown up, is it?
    * Evolution shows that a Creator and Designer aren’t needed to explain life
    * The world operates according to natural laws. Even if Creator God, no obvious mechanism how this Creator can communicate with people.
    * Progress of science, naturalistic explanations of natural phenomena
    * The hiddenness of God
    * There is too much moral evil and suffering in the world
    * The suffering in the world makes me wonder whether God is good, even if he existed
    * I don’t a reason why God would allow certain instances of suffering
    * The plurality of religions, and the way your religion is set by where you were born
    * God is unknowable because he is non-material, eternal, etc.
    * I don’t find the scientific arguments from the big bang and fine-tuning arguments convincing because science changes all the time
    * I don’t to drop my own personal moral standard and purpose and exchange it for anyone’s else’s
    * As long as people are good, then then they should not be punished in Hell for an eternity
    * Biblical contradictions
    * Bible outdated
    * I don’t like the idea of Hell
    * Religion is not testable
    * There is no empirical evidence
    * Canonization was done by the victors at Nicea
    * Religious believers are not significantly more moral than non-believers

    Question 5: What is the ontology of moral values and moral duties? [Individual relativism: 8] [Cultural relativism: 2] [Objective: 0]

    * Subjective. The standard varies by each individual. What we ought to do is whatever we want to do.
    * Subjective/Cultural. The standard varies by each culture’s evolved social conventions. What we ought to do is to do whatever the majority of the people are doing in the society we live in. Morality is like driving/traffic laws, just do what is right for where you live
    * Subjective. Abstract values can only exist in brain states of individual people
    * Subjective. They reflect properties of the mind. They can be codified as law and custom.
    * Subjective. Moral values are ideas that get passed from person to person.
    * Subjective/Cultural. They don’t exist. What does exist is a social contract that we make with each other so that we might have a better life.
    * Subjective. Morality exists in our minds and, given what we know about our animal cousins, likely evolved in us as a means to ensure group cooperation and safety.
    * Subjective. Moral and ethical values appear to be properties of minds (which are themselves physical entities with complicated causal explanations).

    Question 6: Does your worldview ground free will, which is required for consciousness, rationality, moral judgments, moral choices and moral responsibility? [NO: 8] [YES: 0]

    * There isn’t any
    * I don’t know
    * No good evidence for free will, and people do what they do because of genes and environment. Still, to the extent that we can change our environment, it’s worthwhile to create an environment that deters atrocities.
    * There is no free will.
    * I do not think the concept of “free will” is logically coherent.
    * I don’t think that there is such a thing as free will – not in the sense that you mean anyway.

    . . . .

    Question 9: Could you condemn slavery in a society where it was accepted, on rational grounds? [NO: 10] [YES: 0]

    * No. I do not believe in praise and blame and judging others. I would not try to persuade them for fear of repercussions, up to and including my death at their hands
    * I would not because slavery is the custom of that society. Each society has different customs, and slavery is their custom. If I moved there, I would not oppose it because I would get used to it
    * Would use evidence that all people are basically similar neurologically, and ask slaveowners to empathize with enslaved. Might work with Thomas Jefferson.
    * I don’t know
    * No but I personally oppose suffering
    * I can oppose slavery by merely opposing slavery. True, moral subjectivism does not provide an objective basis for deciding the question of slavery, in and of itself.
    * If I traveled back into time then it would be me who traveled. So I would oppose slavery. If I were born into that time period, it would be different.
    * I would argue that people deserve the right to be free from slavery because I think that’s a good idea.
    * I wouldn’t “use” atheism as it doesn’t come with any particular tenets or morals or behavioral requirements.
    * I would oppose slavery because I would *want* to, not because I think there’s some extrinsic reason I ought to.

    Question 10: Is there ultimate significance for acting morally or not? I.e. – does it affect your or anyone else’s destination if you act morally or not? [NO: 10] [YES: 0]

    * There is no ultimate significance
    * Acting morally makes life easier
    * Too long after I’m dead for me to care about.
    * It always matters to maximize my happiness now. I don’t care what happens in 20 billion years.
    * There’s a preceding question that hardly ever gets asked. “Is there a meaning to life?” I don’t think there is.

    Question 11: Is there an objective purpose to life, (or does each person decide for themselves)? [NO: 10] [YES: 0]

    * Mine is to feel good about myself and to feel respected by others.
    * Mine is to enjoy it. I’d hope that I go about it in a way that doesn’t interfere with others enjoyment and that when it does we can compromise.
    * Mine is to relieve inordinate suffering, while leaving room for constructive suffering that lead to creativity and progress. Based on empathy.
    * Mine is to help the species survive by having lots of children, because that lasts after you die
    * Each person decides for themselves. My purpose is to have happy feelings
    * My purpose is to have happy feelings by doing what most of the other people are doing and avoiding social disapproval
    * I have no “objective” purpose. I do what I can to be happy, all things considered.
    * To live as contented as possible. To find answers to big questions. To prepare my children for adulthood. I chose these things because that’s what I like. I don’t care what another’s purpose is as long as they don’t harm anyone.
    * My purpose is to seek happiness while doing no harm (or as little harm as is it may be possible to do) for as long as I’m alive. Of course it’s just my own purpose – I can’t presume to choose another’s purpose. That being said, I do presume everyone has more or less the same goal of happiness and fulfillment, but the precise methods of going about it are always going to vary from person to person.
    * I want to be happy. I generally like other people, and I want them to be happy too.

    Question 12: Would you follow (and how would you follow) Jesus at the point where it became clear to you that Christianity was true? [NO: 7] [YES: 2]

    * I have no idea
    * I would not follow. My own goals are all that I have, and all that I would continue to have in that unlikely situation. I would not yield my autonomy to anyone no matter what their authority to command me
    * I would not follow, because God doesn’t want humans to act any particular way, and he doesn’t care what we do
    * I would not follow. Head is spinning. Would go to physician to find out if hallucinating.
    * If I found there was no trickery? I’d have to change my mind wouldn’t I! Not really likely though is it?
    * I would keep doing what I am doing now, acting morally. That’s what all religions want anyway. (In response to my triumphant scribbling, he realized he had fallen into a trap and changed his answer to the right answer) Oh, wait. I would try to try to find out what Jesus wanted and then try to do that.
    * I hope I would be courageous enough to dedicate my life to rebellion against God.
    * I would not have to change anything unless forced to and all that would change is my actions not my values. I would certainly balk at someone trying to force me to change my behavior as would you if you were at the mercy of a moral objectivist who felt that all moral goodness is codified in the Koran.
    * He would have to convince me that what he wants for me is what I want for me.>>
    ____________________

    Unscientific of course, but unfortunately quite typical of a great many experiences of similar discussions or arguments.

    GEM of TKI

  250. PS: Given the significance and inescapable presence of unprovables at the heart of any worldview of consequence, and at the heart of reasoning itself, this is in a sense the most chillingly revealing on superficiality, dismissive superciliousness and selective hyperskepticism of all:

    Belief is when you suspend critical thinking because you want, so much, for something to be true. That’s not very grown up, is it?

  251. 251

    “Belief is when you suspend critical thinking because you want, so much, for something to be true. That’s not very grown up, is it?”

    Who ever said this had to have suspended their own critical thinking. :)

  252. kf here is the 1 in 10^60 fine tuning for mass-density (‘grain of sand’) reference:

    Evidence for Belief in God – Rich Deem
    Excerpt: Isn’t the immense size of the universe evidence that humans are really insignificant, contradicting the idea that a God concerned with humanity created the universe? It turns out that the universe could not have been much smaller than it is in order for nuclear fusion to have occurred during the first 3 minutes after the Big Bang. Without this brief period of nucleosynthesis, the early universe would have consisted entirely of hydrogen. Likewise, the universe could not have been much larger than it is, or life would not have been possible. If the universe were just one part in 10^59 larger, the universe would have collapsed before life was possible. Since there are only 10^80 baryons in the universe, this means that an addition of just 10^21 baryons (about the mass of a grain of sand) would have made life impossible. The universe is exactly the size it must be for life to exist at all.
    http://www.godandscience.org/a.....ntro2.html

    My Beloved One – Inspirational Christian Song – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200171

    Math for ‘grain of sand’ is worked out here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-352314

  253. CY:

    Quite correct. Sad really, but also inadvertently revealing.

    BA:

    Thanks. Calc is of course a rough estimate, but a few orders one way or the other make little difference.

    M:

    Still waiting.

    Maybe, a question will help: do the theistic arguments have a bit more bite than is commonly admitted, once we set them in the more proper context of a worldview level cumulative, inference to best explanation case?

    GEM of TKI

  254. Onlookers (and M):

    For convenience, from 207:

    8 –> Expanding briefly:

    a: Worldviews are not subject of deductive proof, as they address matters of fact, so they will be warranted on a cumulative case basis.

    b: Such an argument works analogously to a rope: thin, short individual fibres are twisted together to make a strand, and several strands are braided or counter-twisted together to form a much longer, stronger rope that depends on the mutual support of the components for its overall strength.

    c: In short it is a relevant instance of the fallacy of composition to assume or infer that by attacking individual components, one can dispose of a worldview case.

    d: Instead, one has to embark on the comparative difficulties process across live options, including addressing factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power; where,

    e: something like the resurrection of Jesus in the context of prophecies, if well warranted as fact [and we have argued in the linked that it is] becomes one of the credible facts that has to be accounted for.

    f: In that context, we may effectively argue that the observed cosmos is credibly contingent [cf Big Bang], as well as its constituents, which warrants the conclusion that it requires a cause.

    g: At the root of that chain of cause is a necessary being, with sufficient power and skill to build a cosmos that sits at a fine-tuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life, even through multiverse suggestions [the sub-cosmos bread factory issue . . . what sort of supercosmic bread factory is needed to bake up a rich variety of sub-cosmi instead of the equivalent of a doughy half baked mess of ill-blended ingredients, or a blackened hockey puck of burned ingredients]

    h: Similarly, such a necessary being is either possible or impossible, but plainly it is not impossible: there is no self-contradiction, and indeed the above warrants that it is necessary as the ground of the contingent world we can see. So arguably the force of necessity acts: there is such a necessary being with the relevant attributes to account for a cosmos and for life including ourselves as minded, conscious, enconscienced creatures.

    i: That necessary being is implicated by the evident design of life and cosmos, and has the attributes necessary to account for such design: extracosmic, intelligent, very powerful, purposeful, acting as creator. These are of course features of the being we describe as God.

    j: Going further, as morally bound creatures — something atheists inadvertently acknowledge when they assume the repugnance of evil in mistakenly trying to argue from evil to atheism — a moral universe implies that the ground of its being is an IS that has in it inherent goodness sufficient to ground OUGHT. That is God is moral and specifically good.

    k: To cap off, starting with the 500+ eyewitnesses of C1, and continuing down to today, millions have personally come to meet and know the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. (And if you are offended by Christian particularism, I suggest you look here as a start.)

    9 –> You of course claimed that there is a rich literature in critique of such a cumulative case. What you need to show to us is that that rich literature succeeds, not in showing what was never at issue — that it is possible to reject such arguments by challenging premises and dismissing facts — but that on comparative difficulties, your atheism is a superior conclusion, including in the implications of alternative premises to the rejected ones.

    10 –> In particular, do not forget that if the human mind is so delusional that the millions across time who claim to have met and been transformed by God are deluded, then on what alternative grounds can you trust your mind not to be deluded when it arrives at atheistical, evolutionary materialistic conclusions?

    _________________

    M, can you show that on a level playing field comparative difficulties basis, the “concl[usion]” of atheism is a superior view?

    GEM of TKI

  255. F/N: Food for thought from Wm Lane Craig, especially for those who think arguing for specific objective truths regarding God — beyond true for me, true for you subjectivism — is intolerant, arrogant, judgemental or even racist. (HT: Wintery Knight.) Astonishing how many seemingly appealing claims are self-referentially incoherent. Notice, too, how easily radically relativist “tolerance” becomes extremely intolerant, hostility-promoting and corrosive of serious, mutually respectful dialogue. GEM of TKI

  256. FYI F/N 2: On knowing when a crucified man is dead; in response to a hyperskeptical remark above. [Cf. 219.]

    Ultimately, crucifixion — if no major blood vessels are cut by the nails (and appar. there were cases of bribery make sure of that: bleed-out in minutes, a relative mercy) — caused death by exhaustion leading to inability to stand the pain required to push up and breathe.

    So, if a victim was sagging and not pushing up for long enough, he was dead.

    No need to have more than common sense to see that.

    And, in this case all heard the death-cry. And, to make sure, a spear was thrust into the heart-lung region. John’s amazed note on “blood and water” coming out bespeaks separation of blood, i.e. inadvertent confirmation of death. (The other men crucified with him were still pushing up to breathe, so they broke their legs, imposing death in minutes.)

    Jesus was not “allegedly” dead, he was obviously so. And that would have been plain to a veteran soldier like a Centurion would have been.

    GEM of TKI

  257. PS: In 247 above, I cited Lk 24, which recounts the way in which the core 20 or so principal, identifiable witnesses came to objectively know that Jesus was risen. Recall, Luke — a demonstrated habitually and finely accurate historical writer consciously writing a history — had motive, means and opportunity to discuss with witnesses 57 – 59 AD, in the general context of a Roman legal case. (BTW, if you have been tempted to think that the post resurrection accounts are hopelessly incoherent, as say Bishop Spong et al have been fond of claiming, cf here as a start.)

  258. PPS: on yet another objection, Jesus’ mother (and appar. his aunt too — her sister it seems — BTW) stood at the foot of the cross, with his best friend and cousin to whom he committed the care of his mother just before he breathed his last. There is no reasonable question as to who was on that cross.

  259. ONLOOKERS: Observe the persistent evasion when atheist advocates were asked to warrant their claims on the conclusion of atheism, and on the rejection of the cumulative cases for generic theism and Judaeo-Christian theism specifically. That is telling, and it is sadly fitting that it be the epitaph for this thread. GEM of TKI

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