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Fitting Together the Cosmic Jigsaw Puzzle

I’ve been thinking about the God of the Gaps argument today.  Proponents of naturalism (of both the philosophical and methodological stripe) use this argument in an attempt to discredit design theory as a means of explaining the physical world.  The argument usually goes something like this:  There are many things we formerly did not understand, such as the law of gravitation.  We might have been content to sit back and say “We don’t understand gravitation and we never will; God must have done it so there is no sense in inquiring further.”  But we were not content to rest in our ignorance, and scientists like Newton kept at it until they discovered the law of gravity.  There only seemed to be a gap that we needed to fill with God.  Similarly today, we can be assured that science will eventually fill in the remaining gaps of our scientific knowledge.  Thus, there is never a need to resort to “God did it” as an explanation for any phenomenon. 

 

Most ID proponents do not insist that a deity must have been the designer.  Nevertheless, the God of the Gaps argument is employed against ID by one of two means:  (1) We don’t care that you don’t posit a deity as the designer in your theory; we have fathomed your heart of hearts and we know that God (especially the God of the Bible) is really whom you have in mind.  (2) Even if we grant that you don’t posit God as the designer, you still posit the act of an agent, which cannot be encompassed by explanations based strictly on mechanical necessity (i.e., the laws of nature) and/or chance.  Since science operates only with explanations based on law and/or chance, for purpose of the “gaps” argument, it makes no difference if you posit a non-deity agent, because an “agent of the gaps” is just as much a scientific show stopper as a “God of the gaps.”

 

The problem with the “God of the Gaps” argument is that it is demonstrably false as a matter of the plain historic record.  Consider the law of gravitation from the example I used above.  No one can seriously doubt that Isaac Newton was a deeply religious man.  Indeed, he saw his work not as the search for knowledge for its own sake, or even for the sake of the practical benefits that would ensue from his discoveries.  No, he saw his life’s work as an inquiry into the nature of God’s design in the cosmos.  Newton believed “God did it.”  So why didn’t this belief bring his scientific inquiries to a screeching halt?  After all, that is exactly what the “God of the Gaps” theory predicts should have happened.

 

Newton did not stop his work for the same reason people work jigsaw puzzles.  Millions of jigsaw puzzles are sold every year to people who know beyond the slightest doubt that the overall picture was “designed” and that each of the individual pieces was cut by a designer in such a way as to fit into a unified whole.  So what is the fascination of a jigsaw puzzle?  At a certain level it seems utterly pointless.  Yet, humans appear to have an innate drive to explore puzzles.  There is something deeply satisfying about working out how a set of complex and seemingly unrelated pieces fit until an elegant, beautiful and unified whole.  The inner drive that motivates my kids to sit on the floor by the tree and put together the puzzle they just got for Christmas, is the same drive that motivated Newton to discover the laws of gravity and Kepler the laws of planetary motion.  Newton and Kepler were working on the grandest jigsaw puzzle of all – the jigsaw puzzle of the cosmos.  It mattered not one wit to them that before they ever began their inquires God had “painted the picture and carved the pieces of the puzzle” as it were.  They were driven to discover how it all fit together.

 

For this reason ID is not a scientific show stopper because it posits design in the universe.  The fact of design means nothing when it comes to continuing to investigating the details of the design – working the puzzle if you like.  With respect to every phenomenon we choose to investigate through the scientific method, we can ask what is its function, how can we model it, how does it fit into a unified whole, and can we use it to improve our material condition?  These are all jigsaw puzzle type questions, questions we are driven to answer by our innate curiosity about the world in which we live.  And at the end of the day it seems to me that it makes little difference in how we approach these questions if we assume the puzzle was made by blind chance and law that came together with such perfection that an illusion of design arises, or if we go one step further and assume the appearance of design gives away the fact of design.  The puzzle of how it all fits together and how we can use it remains to be solved.

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116 Responses to Fitting Together the Cosmic Jigsaw Puzzle

  1. And at the end of the day it seems to me that it makes little difference in how we approach these questions if we assume the puzzle was made by blind chance and law that came together with such perfection that an illusion of design arises, or if we go one step further and assume the appearance of design gives away the fact of design.

    So what are we arguing about?? What does ID have to do with science?
    The real problem with GOTG is when some ID argument counsels against looking for an answer within the paradigm of NDE (see, if you can find it, Behe’s advice that biologists have to know when to take “no” for an answer); the problem is particularly acute when the ID point of view proscribes inquiry into the how or who/what of design. Where is science to go?

  2. pubdef,

    I don’t know the context in which Behe said that, but there really is such a thing as knowing when to take “no” for an answer. Even in science. Some of those are obvious now: should we continue to pursue the phlogiston theory of heat?

    I very seriously doubt Behe’s “no” was, “no, we shouldn’t pursue further inquiry into how the natural world works.” That’s what you’re implying here, though. If you think that’s what he was saying, it would be helpful if you could be more forthcoming with information and context than just to tell us to find it if we can.

  3. Nice post.

    ID is anything but a science stopper – if anyone has motive for discovering the inner workings of the cell, it’s design proponents.
    Not only do humans have an innate desire to solve puzzles, but like Newton, many have a desire to see God’s handiwork.

    Prov. 25:2;

    It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

  4. 4

    ID is anything but a science stopper – if anyone has motive for discovering the inner workings of the cell, it’s design proponents.

    What’s more, by dropping the restrictive and false dogma of evolution, the researcher is free to see the cell as it is. It’s as if evolutionists have to make discoveries while swimming upstream.

    Prediction: 2009 will be the year ID advocates really begin to make a dent at the research level.

  5. pubdef,

    You posit something that ID does not recommend or stand for and then criticize ID for the recommendation or the stand that it supposedly takes. What you are claiming in not an issue.

    What we say about NDE is that it doesn’t seem to work for a lot of key areas of evolution and we can identify many of these areas. We actually recommend continued search because we believe the findings will continue to support the hypothesis that there is an edge to evolution through naturalistic methods and the continued research will confirm that.

    If a finding arise that contradict that conclusion then it would be extremely interesting and lead to a whole host of new research opportunities. But so far evolutionary biology has not found anything to contradict the edge of evolution conclusion or else we would have heard it. Such a thing is Nobel Prize material.

    In no way is ID a science stopper especially since ID is completely in sync with the findings of the NDE research methodology. ID does not agree with many of the conclusions they make which have no basis in the findings.

    Such comments by you indicate a lack of understanding about ID and probably represents the misrepresentation that ID is given in the media and on many blogs. Ask questions about ID here and you will get the correct understanding.

  6. If people want to claim that science can _only_ propose “natural” explanations and that any explanation that requires an agent is “out of bounds” why not just take them seriously on that point ?

    Then note that such an understanding of science is no longer a search for truth about how the world works and that science ultimately can’t tell us anything meaningful about how the world works because it is artifically blinkered to avoid certain conclusions that cannot simply be ruled out as illegitimate.

  7. Barry,

    Actually there is a wholesale Darwin of the Gaps mentality in the evolutionary biology community. In one recent book I read, I must have annotated nearly 200 instances where the authors just used the expression “it was selected for” when something came up for which there was no explanation for.

    I kept on writing BQ in the margins to indicate they were begging the question. In other places I would write JSS for just so stories or imagination for when they made up possible explanations. So to accuse the ID people of God of the Gaps arguments is hypocritical. They probably do not know it when they do it because it is such ingrained behavior. But it is completely accepted.

  8. I’m sure it would be denied faster than the Piltdown man hoax, but the modern evo-situation is replete with an apriori assumption of the No-God-Of-The-Gaps type of reasoning.

    I define it as when science cannot intially explain an observation in nature that points to design….without resorting to some unknown, just-so, ad-hoc or speculative, untested and unobserved hypothesis (which isn’t science!)….positing literally anything to avoid design as being a possible explanation.

    We wouldn’t be surprised at some of the things they have come up with. Let’s see…..panspermia…Dawkin’s intelligent aliens seeding life on earth….Hmmmm…..Steady State, the Oscillating Universe model…Big Crunch cereal model *winks*, Many Worlds/ Multiverse and the newest addition to the fray, String Theory.

    This remarkable departure from science to what is non-science is understandable, given that those who do this are motivated by their personal, philosophical bias against God existing. Thus, if there is any gap arguments going on, it would have to be on the part of some ID critics.

    Irrespective of the fact that ID makes no commitment to any particular (G)god, at least we can observe all known coded messages having their source in a mind (inferring the specified message in DNA has its origin in a mind).

    Darwinism can’t say as much for itself, nor can atheism. They have too many gaps to fill.

  9. 9
    William J. Murray

    Actually, there is a difference between assuming ID, and assuming non-ID, when it comes to puzzle-solving; if you actually believed that the puzzle pieces were crafted by chance and utterly without integrated design, there wouldn’t be any use in trying to see how they fit together in the first place, because there would be about zero chance of them forming a comprehensible design even in part, much less in whole.

  10. 10
    William J. Murray

    ID isn’t the show stopper, chance is.

  11. I’ve got one of those “World’s most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzles” where the same design is on both sides, but the cut is different. This one has a bucket-load of near-identical penguins splashed across it.

    This wasn’t made by an Intelligent Designer. It was made by an Evil, Masochistic Manipulator.

    Barry, you wrote, “They were driven to discover how it all fit together.” Not now, not for this jigsaw. Sorry, Barry, but the penguins have got to go …

  12. 12

    Belief that “God did it” *DID* bring Newton’s research to an end in at least one case.

    He thought that there was no mathematical solution to the motion of the planets, and believed that God needed to step in occasionally to keep the solar system stable.

    It wasn’t until Laplace (“Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là”) dispensed with the need for God that there was a proper naturalistic explanation.

    By outsourcing the work to God, Newton took the lazy man’s way out, and in this one case, delayed the advance of knowledge by over 100 years.

  13. Thinking about it a bit more … the jigsaw analogy is really good, but when I started considering the two-sided jigsaw it made the idea even more astounding: we try to put together a two-sided picture from these three-dimensional shapes, with a picture already presented to us from which to gather data and replicate. The two-sided jigsaw asks for the same result, but with many more degrees of difficulty attached. Both are achievable and, like Dawkins ‘Me Thinks a Weasel’ program, the outcome – after a number of guesses – is assured.

    Next, we are presented with a triple-sided jigsaw, a real 3D behemoth, that doesn’t give you a plan and doesn’t assure you of anything. Also, if it doesn’t make sense, it dies. Is that comparable to NDT?

    Also, a jigsaw is reverse engineering: the parts are already presented and you put back together a working model.

    How incredible is the biomolecular world: a jigsaw is intelligently-designed and predetermined to become created. It needs an intelligent worker to ‘become’. And, even though the two-sided is complex, is is nothing compared to any evo out there who considers that putting together random shapes will create a visible, living, working, energy-consuming and producing, reproducible entity.

    The “World’s most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzle” is quite simple, now, compared.

  14. pubdef

    the problem is particularly acute when the ID point of view proscribes inquiry into the how or who/what of design

    If by that you mean that ID doesn’t attempt to form answers that are not supported by empirical data then I agree.

    No empirical data presents itself that allows discrimination between potential agencies.

    Designing and building bacteria 3 billion years ago then infecting th earth with it requires only a few specific things of a designer – means, motive, and opportunity.

    I’ve asked many times what exactly about the design of life on earth requires any specific agent beyond one having the ability to
    custom design a bacteria and deliver it to the earth.

    Going beyond what the data can tell you is nothing but woolgathering.

    So the designer of the bacteria had to have little beyond what Craig Venter has today in order to design and build a bacteria.

  15. “God of the Gaps” is not saying that believing in God, or even thinking that he/she/it (from here on just “he” for ease of use) did it in a certain way means that you must abandon all science. God of the Gaps is when you don’t know how something was done and you say that the answer must therefore be “God did it,” (or if you prefer “some agent did it”) without trying to figure out how he did it. This is why Newton figuring out the laws of physics does not fall under the “God of the Gaps.” The fact that he believed that God did it did not deter him from trying to determine how it was done.

    ID falls under the umbrella of “God of the Gaps” because the end result of the theory says only that some intelligent agent did it. Because we are removed from the immediate presence of the designer, we cannot know how or why he did what he did. All we can do is look at the result and say what was done. This intrinsically stifles scientific inquiry.

    Case in point, the question of why certain biological constructs appear to be designed sub-optimally (sometimes significantly so). ID’s answer? “We can’t know why the designer did that.” The usual addition to this answer is “design doesn’t necessarily mean perfect design.” That is true. But it doesn’t necessarily mean imperfect design, either. In fact, it says nothing whatsoever about the design process. In the end, any question about the design process (why sub-optimal design? why reuse parts?) must be answered by “We can’t know that because we don’t have access to the designer to ask him.” We can possibly make some educated guesses about it (he reuses parts because it’s economical to do so), but in the end they are questions answerable only by the designer, to whom we have no access (design does not necessarily mean economical design). No amount of scientific investigation will give us answers to these questions. Science has been stifled by the theory because scientific answers cannot be found in this context.

  16. GotG arguments are,as far as I can tell, just another way to sneak philosophical naturalism into science. From the perspective of the anti-ID mavins, a ‘gap’ is ‘an observed phenomenon with no known natural explanation but for which we’ll supply one at a later date”.

    For more on this, read William Dembski’s The Chance of the Gaps.

  17. God of the Gaps is when you don’t know how something was done and you say that the answer must therefore be “God did it,” (or if you prefer “some agent did it”) without trying to figure out how he did it.

    While every life form is assumed to have evolved, there is no agreement on the mechanism that might have produced the changes, or how it worked. It’s okay to accept that the evolution took place while the “how” remains unknown.
    Who’s to say that discovery ends with the detection of design? Perhaps that opens the door for chemistry and molecular biology to investigate further, armed with more knowledge.
    No one knows how Stonehenge came to be. Are we more or less likely to discover the truth if we abandon our assumption of design just because we don’t know the who or the how or the why yet?

  18. ID does not say that something is intelligently designed only that there is a probability that it is intelligently designed. The amount of the probability increases with the complexity and functional organization of the phenomena but never becomes one. The probability decreases as naturalistic explanations are proffered that have empirical backing and increases as additional research fails to find empirical backing for a naturalistic cause or new organized complexity becomes apparent.

    Hence it is not a God of the Gaps argument because it never absolutely concludes a God, only the possibility of an intelligent agent. And that probability of an intelligent agent rises and falls as new evidence is discovered.

    It is the critics of ID that are absolute in their claims. They claim a 100% non intelligent cause for all phenomena as a given. This assumption can not decrease from a probability of one even with new information. While they accuse ID of invoking a God, they invoke an unknown natural cause. They do not make it an option but a requirement if you want to play their game.

  19. Indeed, as Donald M points out, the God of the Gaps is easily turned on its Chance-and-Necessity of the Gaps head. It’s not ID that would restrict science, it’s the Jacques Monodists who do so every day.

    Also, as Newton knew, just because one can describe a phenomenon does not mean he has explained it. I believe we’re as far as we ever were from explaining gravity—maybe we’re even further afield if we think Einstein explained it.

    And last here—I think we have to be careful not to claim that God cannot be discovered by empirical science. How could anyone know that a priori? All ID has said is that detecting design in one thing, identifying the designer is quite another thing.

  20. Rude wrote: “It’s not ID that would restrict science, it’s the Jacques Monodists who do so every day.”

    I had a chance to read a bit of what Monod wrote concerning chance:

    “Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, [is] at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.” He’s using the chance-equals-cause line of reasoning here. He goes on: “Man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance.”

    Note that Monod states “by chance.” He does what many others do–he elevates chance to a creative principle. However, a dictionary definition of chance is “the assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings.” Thus, if Monod speaks about life coming about by chance, he is saying that it came about by a causal power that is unknown.

  21. Jerry —It is the critics of ID that are absolute in their claims. They claim a 100% non intelligent cause for all phenomena as a given.

    EXCELLENT POINT!!!!

  22. DonaldM–a ‘gap’ is ‘an observed phenomenon with no known natural explanation but for which we’ll supply one at a later date”.

    An atheist has more blind faith than any Christian and probably most Moslems.

    Maybe a sincere Pastafarian might be an equal :-).

  23. On second thoughts…

    I haven’t read The Edge of Evolution yet, but assuming it sets a limit to darwninism, does that mean that research into evolution beyond that level would stop?

    Would research into the evolutionary relationships between genes and organisms stop? Or does that just depend on whether you accept common descent?

  24. *N.b. ‘would stop’ – if ID was accepted I mean.

  25. Barry,

    I wrote a newspaper commentary about this over a year ago and came to the same conclusion. My analogy, instead of a desire to solve a jig-saw, was the drive of many kids to take things apart to discover how they work; to take various parts, alter and possibly re-combine them to make something new.

    Unless you can ask the designer for insight, the question of origin is irrelevant to the much more practical and productive “How does it work?” Unlike the question of origin, “How does it work? / What does it do?” can be determined empirically, can yield practical benefits and this knowledge has been used to improve circumstance.

    As a Christian, I believe man was created in God’s image and therefore man’s creative efforts model in miniature God’s. If that’s true, an understanding of our own creative process should give us insight into nature’s mechanisms.

    Many of our best technologies grow from an understanding of biological products and systems. Where technology is produced without a knowledge of a biological parallel, we sometimes later discover one. For example higher quality fiber optics than we use are made by sponges but that was discovered after we were already using that technology.

  26. A very simple test just came to mind to find out if they are lying or telling the truth and it has to do with money.Have they ever said or wished to win a lottery or fortune inheritance of any kind?My definition of GOD is that entity that I ask}wish{-thank-and faithfully believe in and praise to be and that I am and so is everyone else also.Who would they expect to give them such a gift if they have the gullibility to ask who we also ask?To ask is no more than to believe beyond your own ability.I call this :Beyond me: GOD.

  27. Very nice, Barry. I will remember you arguments whenever GotG comes up. I think you pretty much nailed it.

  28. Evolander criticisms of intelligent design are fatuous at best, and usually just downright dishonest. They are also usually double edged swords, as is the case in the “of the gaps retort”. I.e., the greatest gap filler they have is RM+NS, as others above have pointed out.

    I just came across a fatuous critique of William Dembski by a the Panda’sThumb blogger Jeffrey Shallit, and refuted it here at
    Conflating concepts in information theory
    .

  29. Green said:

    “but assuming it sets a limit to Darwinism, does that mean that research into evolution beyond that level would stop?

    Would research into the evolutionary relationships between genes and organisms stop? Or does that just depend on whether you accept common descent?”

    The Edge of Evolution is just an observation of completed research and similar research should continue for ever because it is possible that the edge may be higher on the taxonomy scale than what has been found so far.

    In fact one the best ID research projects going on now and there are thousands of projects in this area carried out by the anti ID people is the mapping of genomes. Every genome mapped or part of a genome mapped is ID research because each one is support for the edge of evolution. That is why the Darwinists must continue ID research because each project they complete puts another nail into the Darwinian paradigm of macro evolution. It confirms micro evolution but ID is quite happy with micro evolution.

    So ID has no interest in the ceasing of such research but applauds each new completed project. It is some of the best ID research going on now. And the fun part of it is that ID does not have to spend a penny for it and it being done by people who loathe ID. What delicious irony.

  30. Yeah YellowShark, Laplace’s solution was determinism, which is not a solution. He said that if we could know everything there is to know about a particular moment, then we could extrapolate from there and know all of the causal chain of events into the past and into the future. But, surely, Laplace would, himself, be part of the causal chain itself, and he could no more step outside of it and study it than a drop of water can step outside the river and make a map of it. What he’s asking for demands an impossibility. In philosophy it’s called self-referential incoherence. He’s just as much a part of the system that he would have to be outside of for his study to work. Whatever he learned couldn’t have been otherwise, and has no bearing on independently gained “truth”, for there is no independence.

  31. Is Heaven(The puzzle)going to designed and built for humans,sorry have to say its future occupants or will the futures design and build paridise? If Heaven and Earth are to be one in the same,it is a shame we aren`t noticing that grand opportunity as a human formed Heaven.Greedy,greedy, greedy.I know I can accept myself as imperfect me and can see the Heaven that I want to remodel as well as myself and my future relationship/s as perfect us.Why would I wish or want as a human until I know what GOD gave us here first?If I don`t know what I have been given or earned,Honestly,how would ome know they are offered more or less in another environment? Greedy-greedy!

  32. 32

    Yeah YellowShark, Laplace’s solution was determinism, which is not a solution.

    Nice red herring.

    Laplace’s solution to the stability of the solar system merely involved translating the Principia’s geometrical arguments into the language of differential calculus. *Both* of these were Newton’s own works, and he could/would have integrated them himself if it weren’t for his belief in the “God of the Gaps”.

    The epistemic horizon of Laplace’s Demon is another matter entirely, and completely unrelated to the topic at hand. Incidentally, it is not an argument against determinism, it’s an argument that “Laplace’s Demon”, if such a thing exists, cannot predict its own actions and therefore must exist OUTSIDE the “universe” that it predicts.

  33. 33

    DaveScot you say…

    “Designing and building bacteria 3 billion years ago then infecting th earth with it requires only a few specific things of a designer – means, motive, and opportunity.”

    As a memeaniac myself, I’ve wondered about this possibility. But, I find it hard to believe that the conditions for life can exist (on a grand scale), and for life not to be there?

  34. YellowShark,

    I don’t see how Laplace’s self-referential incoherence is another matter entirely.

    Here’s what he said:

    “We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.”

    If he is willing to have the intellect be separate from the material causation, something like an independent mind and spirit, there is no problem self-referentially. Whether the natural universe is such a clockwork might be another problem, but at least a different one than if the intellect were just as much determined as what it thinks it is determining.

    And secondly, I noticed that you said the following on another website:
    “My reply (as TheYellowShark) to Dembski’s latest pile of tard is “awaiting moderation”.”

    Folks can see it here:
    http://www.antievolution.org/c.....8;p=132244

    “Dembski’s latest pile of tard” you say?

    I expect an apology, not to me, but to Dr. Dembski, or you will be “banninated,” as ya’ll like to say :). And I don’t mind the bannination button for folks so blatantly disrespectful. And all the rest of you sock-puppets that expect privileges of commenting here with anonymity, all the while being vile on another thread, if your cover is blown and you don’t appropriately apologize, you’ll be gone too. So you’ll have to keep the bragging down and not blow your cover too soon if you want to comment here.

  35. Look up these pages.1)Chance to say”onse”.2)Intelligence is beyond-don`t no!+The stolen property was probably sold for profit needed for the dance of eternal. Question:Does the thief leapfrog neede supposed un-neededbeauty needed for the leisurely walk in a natural that seems to bee missing today?Yes?

  36. #2: Much to my surprise, I managed to find Behe’s statement this afternoon. Behe was talking to Casey Luskin on “ID the Future” (podcast of 8/22/08). They were discussing a recent article that set out to dispute Behe’s characterization of the flagellum as irreducibly complex; Behe, as you might guess, was not impressed. Luskin asked him, essentially, where such research was heading. At 8:10 into the podcast:

    CL: So this is probably a rhetorical question but what do you think will be the outcome 10 years from now when they revisit upon this paper where do you think we’ll be. Or do you want to make a prediction?

    MB: I’ll make a prediction that some brave soul will try to figure something out and get discouraged after a few experiments and then ten years down the line we’ll be pretty much in the same situation; maybe some of those [inaudible] nonhomologous proteins one or two will be found to have homology to something but we will not be anywhere near understanding how such things could be produced by random processes.

    CL: But still just to even do the research, to try to do it, and to maybe learn that Darwinian explanations are not the answer, that would be progress for science.
    MB: It would be progress if scientists are willing to take no for an answer.

    So there it is. I have more to say about this, but for now, I’ll just post this to clear the fog I unfortunately may have generated.

  37. [T]here really is such a thing as knowing when to take “no” for an answer. Even in science. Some of those are obvious now: should we continue to pursue the phlogiston theory of heat?

    No question that it is necessary to know when a question has been “settled” and further investigation of the alternative is a waste of time. I’ve brought this up myself, giving the example of a proof that it is impossible to trisect an angle with a compass and straightedge. But it seems clear to me (conceding that I know next to nothing about the science involved) that ID in general, and Behe’s IC in particular, are nowhere near the theoretical grounding necessary for such a conclusion. At minimum, I would think that there should be a positive theory (e.g., “this is why you can’t trisect an angle, etc.”), not just highlighting alleged deficiencies of the existing paradigm (which amounts to “in 2000 years you’ve never come up with a way to trisect that angle, etc.”).

    This is very important in light of Behe’s assertion (implied if not stated expressly; I won’t be able to cite to anything he’s actually said on this) that it is impossible for the flagellum to have developed in a “random” stepwise fashion. The bar for Behe’s opponents is thus very low; they need only show a possible mechanism in order to justify further investigation within the NDE paradigm.

  38. #22:

    An atheist has more blind faith than any Christian and probably most Moslems.

    Ok, let’s suppose that I am an atheist. What do I have “blind faith” in? That there is “probably no God?” Doesn’t seem very faith-based.

  39. Ok, let’s suppose that I am an atheist. What do I have “blind faith” in? That there is “probably no God?” Doesn’t seem very faith-based.

    All of us , if we drill down far enough, uts presuppose something that just is,whatever that is for you is what you have faith in.

    Vivid

  40. An atheist has more blind faith than any Christian and probably most Moslems. . .Ok, let’s suppose that I am an atheist. What do I have “blind faith” in? That there is “probably no God?” Doesn’t seem very faith-based.

    That’s a fair point. If you say there is “probably no God” and leave it at that you aren’t a man of great faith. Nor are you one of much thought.

    The minute you start thinking about it, however, the justification for your belief will be nothing more than blind faith and wishful thinking.

  41. Actually saying there is “probably no God” is a pretty serious faith-based statement.

    To dismiss the most important question we face requires extraordinarily blind faith.

  42. This is a change in the topic but Barry said, “Most ID proponents do not insist that a deity must have been the designer.” What are the alternatives to a deity as the designer?

  43. 43

    I expect an apology, not to me, but to Dr. Dembski, or you will be “banninated,” as ya’ll like to say :). And I don’t mind the bannination button for folks so blatantly disrespectful.

    You have my word that–although I think it’s a bit draconian to ban someone for what they say off-site–I *shall* apologize to Dr. Dembski when an apology is forthcoming from “BaylorBear”, who posted on this website an objectionable cartoon depicting a “humourous” threat to the safety of people who accept evolution.

    Incidentally, since there have been two topics on UD specifically directed as replies to my comments you would think I would be somewhat welcome here as I’ve at least given you something to talk about.

    1. http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ls-really/
    2. http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ocentrism/

    I shall address the remainder of your comment if I am not “banninated”.

  44. What are the alternatives to a deity as the designer?

    ETs

  45. What are the alternatives to a deity as the designer?

    Ancient AI silicon-based machines who created us to be their servants only to become weak and dependent on us allowing us rebel and destroy them.

    And of course those silicon-based machines were created by carbon-based life who then became dependent on them . . .

  46. Tribune, you are a man of the people. Long or short, every barb is perfectly pointed.

    The “gaps” Darwinists rave about are gaps in their own theory. Since Darwinism is not science, ID is not a science stopper.

  47. 47

    tribune7,

    Saying

    To dismiss the most important question we face requires extraordinarily blind faith.

    implies that someone cannot come to the conclusion that “there is probably no god” after long and careful thought.

    To dismiss those whom you may disagree with as someone is not “one of much thought” is certainly easy and may make you feel clever, with your barbs “perfectly pointed”, but it displays the exact tendency that you seem to despise, not being one of much thought.

    So, if I may be so bold as to ask vividbleau’s question again: What do I have “blind faith” in? Any thoughtful answer will do.

    And I apologize for participating in an off-topic discussion, I just found tribune7′s response in need on a polite rebuttal.

  48. YellowShark,

    This is your last chance. Whatever BaylorBear said is irrelevant between you and Dr. Dembski. I won’t argue anymore with you, no more rabbit trails, either you apologize, or you don’t, and if you don’t, you won’t see anymore of your comments here.

  49. To dismiss the most important question we face requires extraordinarily blind faith. . . implies that someone cannot come to the conclusion that “there is probably no god” after long and careful thought.

    Well, yes. If you conclude “there is probably no God” you have not thought deeply enough about it.

    If you conclude “there is no God” you are exhibiting a faith to rival a pastafarian.

  50. allanius, thank you :-)

  51. #39:

    All of us , if we drill down far enough, uts presuppose something that just is,whatever that is for you is what you have faith in.

    How could you possibly know that about me? As it happens, I probably do have some presuppositions, but I don’t see that it is absolutely necessary that I do. And, more to the point, if I am open to evidence that contradicts my presupposition, how is that “faith?”
    I don’t pretend to have a completely “open mind;” there are obviously some things that I don’t consider as possibilities on an ongoing basis. E.g., I’m not going to eat as much ice cream as I would like tonight, because I “presuppose,” without knowing to a certainty, that I will wake up tomorrow morning and I’d rather not have to buy new jeans. And I will admit that it is very, very unlikely that I will ever be convinced to become a Christian, but (1) I don’t think that’s due to any “faith” in godlessness or any other religion, and (2) it’s not impossible.

  52. #41:

    Actually saying there is “probably no God” is a pretty serious faith-based statement.

    To dismiss the most important question we face requires extraordinarily blind faith.

    But I see no reason to accept your assertion that it’s “the most important question we face.” I’ve thought about these matters at some length and very seriously over nearly 50 years, but I must say that I’ve arrived at my current outlook very casually — I simply don’t see any reason to stress over whether there’s a god or not.

  53. But I see no reason to accept your assertion (the existence of God) that it’s “the most important question we face.”

    OK, my claim can be stated that we are created and our creator wants us to do certain things.

    Further I can be fairly described as saying the most important question we face “is this claim true?”

    And I believe this.

    But rather than sidetracked regarding “the most” would you grant that it is an important question?

  54. #53:

    But rather than sidetracked regarding “the most” would you grant that it is an important question?

    It’s only important if the answer is “yes.” If the answer is “no,” then what is important about it?

    To me, it is so unlikely that the answer is “yes” that I am quite comfortable saying that, to me, it is not an important question. (It may be “important” in the sense of “interesting” but not in the sense of “consequential.”)

  55. pubdef: “The bar for Behe’s opponents is thus very low; they need only show a possible mechanism in order to justify further investigation within the NDE paradigm.”

    Maybe for people who already believe it. But those of us who don’t are going to need more than a possibility. According to certain interpretations of quantum mechanics nearly anything is possible. We are looking for high probability and can’t find it. Have you anything to add here?

  56. pubdef,

    But I see no reason to accept your assertion that it’s “the most important question we face.”

    But if God exists, then that means he created you. And if he created you then that means you were made to serve a divine purpose; this, in turn, means that your very reason for existing is to fulfill God’s divine purpose in making you. Would it not, therefore, be reasonable to conclude that the locus of your heart’s desires resides, ultimately, in him since he fashioned you according to his own perfect choosing?

    In sum, I must rather strongly disagree. If God exists, then anything else that has any true value has that value only by virtue of having God as its source of being, which makes God’s value infinite.

  57. Re #54 and #56

    Pubdef is spot on. Anyone can make up a question on the lines of:

    If X is true then incredible consequences follow. Therefore, the question of whether X is true is of the greatest importance.

    X could be any of an infinite number of deity and/or creation myths.

  58. pubdef:

    “This is very important in light of Behe’s assertion (implied if not stated expressly; I won’t be able to cite to anything he’s actually said on this) that it is impossible for the flagellum to have developed in a “random” stepwise fashion. The bar for Behe’s opponents is thus very low; they need only show a possible mechanism in order to justify further investigation within the NDE paradigm.”

    I think you are making some confusion here. Behe has never said that one should not investigate NDE or any aspect of it, including the theory of the darwinian origin of the flagellum. What Behe is saying, IMO, is that any empirical research, whatever its motivations, is really useful if, and only if, the researchers, and the scientific community, are willing to draw the correct empirical conclusions from the result, which includes the ability to admit when a line of research has practically already given an empirical answer to a question.

    As many other times, I have to stress the word “empirical”. It seems that darwinists have ever more often to shift to logical arguments, because they seem to lack empirical arguments. Behe is a biochemist, an empirical scientist. He knows very well that human resources are limited, and that real science has to give real practical answers, and not go on inquiring about what has already been effectively inquired, in the vain hope to find an answer one would like more. That’s not how science works.

    In other words, Behe is not saying that one cannot investigate any plausible model for the flagellum: he is just saying, always IMO, that at some point one should be able to discard those models which have empirically failed. I think he is explicitly referring to trying to demonstrate the unguided origin of the flagellum by looking at all costs for homologies which do not exist, without ever trying to build a credible quantitative model with what is really found. And I perfectly agree with him: that’s a line of research which will be proved (or maybe it has already been proved) a failure. At some time, at some point, the scientific community “must” be able to recognize where a specific line of research is going, if empirical research has to keep any meaning.

    That has nothing to do with stopping science: indeed, that means having faith in empirical science and in its ability to give answers which, even if they are not mathematical demonstrations, and are never absolute truths to be shared dogmatically by all, should at least be respected for their empirical strength, and guide the general orientation of further research.

  59. It’s only important if the answer is “yes.” If the answer is “no,” then what is important about it? To me, it is so unlikely that the answer is “yes” that I am quite comfortable saying that, to me, it is not an important question. (It may be “important” in the sense of “interesting” but not in the sense of “consequential.”)

    Are you saying “there is no God” or there “probably is no God?”

    If the former, you are exhibiting blind faith. If the latter, you are exhibiting irrationality.

    Thinking that there might be some small, slim chance that there is a God and saying it is not consequential is irrationality to the degree of delusion.

  60. Thank you, Mark Frank. I’ve never been called “spot on” before.

    It doesn’t even have to be something so momentous as a diety or creation myth. Suppose you woke up this morning and someone told you “the creature from Alien laid its spawn in your belly last night, and if you don’t drink this potion, the baby monster will burst out of your chest in twenty minutes!” Is it an “important question” whether this claim is true?

  61. Suppose you woke up this morning and someone told you “the creature from Alien laid its spawn in your belly last night, and if you don’t drink this potion, the baby monster will burst out of your chest in twenty minutes!”

    And would you think about the matter “at some length and very seriously” before rejecting the potion?

  62. crandaddy

    “But if God exists, then that means he created you. And if he created you then that means you were made to serve a divine purpose;”

    For what purpose did god create Hitler – Entertainment?

    It is a huge step to go from accepting the idea of an intelligent cause for the universe to knowing whether you or I as individuals were specifically created for a purpose, knowing what that purpose is and knowing if that purpose is good.

    IF there is NO ‘God’ then we have no teleological purpose, that’s a fact and you would just have to deal with it if it were true.

    IF there IS a god then that doesn’t automatically imply a purpose for us, we may just be a side effect, and even if we have a purpose you can’t guarantee that it would be to our liking if we ever determined what it is.

    I get the impression, perhaps wrongly, that some on this forum regard the argument “If god doesn’t exist then we have no ultimate purpose” as some kind of evidence or argument against evolution. It isn’t in any way.

    For those of you who believe you can only have true morality if it has a divine origin then I’m afraid for me this ‘I am just following orders’ position doesn’t cut it as a moral argument. How can you truly make any moral decisions when all you are really doing is following orders?

    (BTW I’m offering this as a point to debate, I don’t claim that the atheistic position is any better or to be preferred – I’m entirely agnostic)

  63. Laminar said:

    “I get the impression, perhaps wrongly, that some on this forum regard the argument “If god doesn’t exist then we have no ultimate purpose” as some kind of evidence or argument against evolution. It isn’t in any way.”

    Not if you read carefully. They might believe as I do that if God doesn’t exist then we have no ultimate purpose. How could we as we are just accidents of material forces which have no purpose. Also one of the premises of this site is that evolution did not happen entirely by naturalistic means. The evidence strongly suggests that. Many believe as I used to that evolution proceeded along Darwinian lines and it had/s no affect on their religious beliefs. Certainly some use the conclusion that evolution is not entirely naturalistic to justify a creator for people debating the issue. Especially when many claim the reason they are atheists is because Darwinian processes explain life and this means there is no need for a God. So their disbelief in God is based on false beliefs.

    Those who believe there is a creator further argue that there then must be some reason for our existence. This latter argument has nothing to do with ID. All this is tenuous which is why the term faith is frequently used. If one had certainty, the term faith would be inappropriate.

    Thus, while you may call it obeying orders for nearly everyone it is doing what is thought to be right even when it is personally difficult to do so even when no one is observing their actions and there is also uncertainty. Sometimes even sacrificing what would be very advantageous to you if you did not do what is supposedly recommended by the creator. The orders as you describe them are often very arduous and also often require that you overcome your basic inclinations. Many do not obey the “orders” and I know of no one who has not at least once failed to obey them.

    This is a debate that has gone on for centuries. We just want to eliminate the wrong impression people have on evolution from the debate.

  64. —-Laminar: “IF there IS a god then that doesn’t automatically imply a purpose for us, we may just be a side effect, and even if we have a purpose you can’t guarantee that it would be to our liking if we ever determined what it is.”

    —-”For what purpose did god create Hitler – Entertainment?”

    Morality is a function of goodness, and goodness if a function of purpose. So, the question is, what is a good person? Well, what is a “good” anything? If something is good, it operates the way of was designed and intended to perform.

    What is a good can-opener? It is one that opens cans efficiently and easily. What is a good pencil? It is one that writes well. Can a pencil be a good can opener? No, and if it tries, not only will it fail to open the can, it will destroy itself in the process.

    What is a good person? A good person is one who lives appropriately or according to his own created nature. Since God made both the person and his corresponding nature, only God can establish an appropriate morality that reconciles one with the other.

    Among all earthly creatures, only man has the power to resist his created purpose and pervert his own nature. When he does so, he ends up just like a pencil who tries to become a can opener. By trying to be something he is not, namely a little god, he not only fails to become human, he becomes subhuman and destroys himself in the process.

  65. “Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature
    that are best explained as the result of intelligence.”
    — William A. Dembski

    “Study of” being the operative.

    1- detect design
    2- study it

    And BTW in the absence of direct observation or designer input, the only possible way to scientifically answer the other questions*, is by studying the design in question.

    *who, how, when, where and/ or why, which all prove that ID is NOT a science stopper as NOTHING prevents anyone to pursue those questions.

    see also pages 111-112 of No Free Lunch.

  66. #49 tribune7:

    To dismiss the most important question we face requires extraordinarily blind faith. . . implies that someone cannot come to the conclusion that “there is probably no god” after long and careful thought.

    Well, yes. If you conclude “there is probably no God” you have not thought deeply enough about it.

    If you conclude “there is no God” you are exhibiting a faith to rival a pastafarian.

    Let me get this straight: if you’re undecided about whether there is a god, you have not thought deeply enough about it; but if you decide that there isn’t, that’s faith. If you decide that there is, is that faith also? So what’s the point of thinking so hard if either decision you come to is based on faith??
    Meanwhile — I will readily admit to sharing the “faith” of a pastafarian; I believe in satire.

  67. Let me get this straight: if you’re undecided about whether there is a god, you have not thought deeply enough about it

    No. If you are undecided about the existence of God you could very well be thinking quite deeply about it.

    but if you decide that there isn’t, that’s faith.

    And not just faith, but blind faith assuming you have thought deeply enough about it.

    If you decide that there is, is that faith also?

    Now, that’s an interesting question considering how faith is almost synonymous with a a belief in God.

    To believe in an uncaused cause requires no faith and to believe that this uncaused cause is a designer doesn’t really require that much either. Now, to believe that this designer has a particular nature and particular plan for us — does it want us to love our neighbor or capture him for sacrifice — does require an element of faith.

    The amount of faith needed to believe in a God who is love, however, is infinitely less than to believe there is no designer.

  68. #56 crandaddy:

    But if God exists, then that means he created you. And if he created you then that means you were made to serve a divine purpose; this, in turn, means that your very reason for existing is to fulfill God’s divine purpose in making you. Would it not, therefore, be reasonable to conclude that the locus of your heart’s desires resides, ultimately, in him since he fashioned you according to his own perfect choosing?

    In sum, I must rather strongly disagree. If God exists, then anything else that has any true value has that value only by virtue of having God as its source of being, which makes God’s value infinite.

    So God’s value is either infinity (if I accept 100% of your characterization of God)or zero.
    You’re making a lot of assumptions about the nature of God, starting with “creation” and “purpose.” And, you seem to be denying any possibility of individual identity.

  69. #59 tribune7:

    Thinking that there might be some small, slim chance that there is a God and saying it is not consequential is irrationality to the degree of delusion.

    I don’t see that at all. If there is a God but I see only some small, slim chance that there is, what just basis could there be for God’s existence to be “consequential?” More to the point, as a question of rationality, are you really saying it is rational to make a decision based entirely on consequences, with no regard whatsoever for likelihood?

  70. pubdef,

    It’s consequential because of the nature of the claim. Just like small traces of anthrax in your pancakes would be highly consequential.

  71. Pubdef –I don’t see that at all. If there is a God but I see only some small, slim chance that there is, what just basis could there be for God’s existence to be “consequential?

    Sometimes typing in WordPress causes thoughts to come out garbled — I know that has happened to me — but I’m confused by your question.

    If there is a God, God’s existence is consequential. Let’s just agree on that point.

    ” More to the point, as a question of rationality, are you really saying it is rational to make a decision based entirely on consequences, with no regard whatsoever for likelihood?

    That’s almost the opposite of what I am saying. A risk/benefit analysis is always something to consider but that’s not even close to what I’m getting at.

    Leave aside the nature of God and just consider the nature of the universe. Is it possible for the universe to come about without design? The likelihood, given what we know about nature, is 0. To think that it could have is to have faith in some unknown force for which there is not a scintilla of evidence for its existence.

    In fact, the only reason to even posit the existence of such a force is pure emotion i.e. God can’t exist so this unknown force must exist.

    Conversely, the likelihood of the universe being designed is basically 1.

  72. #71 tribune7: I can hardly remember how we started talking about this, and I’m inclined to say one more thing and then wait until the next thread that strikes my interest.
    My question was probably pretty confusing, so here’s what I was trying to say: I am comfortable settling on “there is probably no God” because I expect that if God’s existence is so obscure (which is implied by the premise that there is only a “small, slim chance” that God exists), no one who fails to perceive that existence can be held accountable in any serious way. (I don’t expect that position to enjoy wide support around here, but who knows.)

    Ok, now, you say:

    If there is a God, God’s existence is consequential. Let’s just agree on that point.

    Sorry, can’t do that. That assumes not only existence of “a God,” but also an attribute of that God. I will concede that if there is a God such as (I assume) you believe in, I’m facing some “consequences;” but my point throughout has been that I consider that possibility so unlikely as to be, essentially, unimportant. I’m not worried about it, IOW.

    Is it possible for the universe to come about without design?

    Well, that’s the question that brought us here in the first place, and I clearly don’t agree that the likelihood is 0. I suspect that the likelihood is incalculable on the knowledge that we have and that the likelihood of “design” is even more incalculable because we have (and multitudes of ID proponents insist that we can have) no knowledge of a designer.

    To think that it could have is to have faith in some unknown force for which there is not a scintilla of evidence for its existence.

    If the force is unknown (and I freely admit that I myself know nothing about it), where is the “faith?” I have “faith” that there is something I know nothing about, and if I had the time, resources, and talent, I would try to find out whatever I could about it. I’m sorry, that really doesn’t feel like “faith” to me.

    To tell you the truth, I am mostly amenable to an “uncaused cause, unmoved mover” conception of … something, but, as I see it, the most salient characteristic of … it is that it is entirely outside of our knowledge and experience. Thus, it makes no sense to me to speak of it in terms of “designing,” “purpose,” “love,” or any other human activity or trait.
    And with that, best wishes and goodbye for now.

  73. “All of us , if we drill down far enough, uts presuppose something that just is,whatever that is for you is what you have faith in.”

    “How could you possibly know that about me?”

    pub

    Because everyone starts with certain presuppositions and assumptions that are not provable.

    If you press any set of ideas back far enough, eventually you reach some starting point. Something has to be taken as seld existent, the ultimate reality and source of everything else. That this is true is not a subject of controversy.

    I am surprised that you are not aware of this.

    “As it happens, I probably do have some presuppositions, but I don’t see that it is absolutely necessary that I do.”

    It is absolutely necessary that you do thats why you do have them.

    “And, more to the point, if I am open to evidence that contradicts my presupposition, how is that “faith?””

    It is faith because faith is what fills the gap between what we know and dont know.

    I have faith in alot of things and I am open to evidence that contradicts what I believe in. Do not confuse faith with fideism.

    Vivid

  74. It is faith because faith is what fills the gap between what we know and dont know.

    I’m sorry, I really don’t see the value of that definition. I don’t know everything; neither does anyone else. And what is “the gap between what we know and don’t know?” Sounds like “an acre of land between the salt water and the sea sand.”

  75. If the force is unknown (and I freely admit that I myself know nothing about it), where is the “faith?

    I’ll grant that’s not faith, but apathy. Are you saying that it really is wise to hold the philosophy that what you don’t know can’t hurt you?

    If you say the universe has a cause that can be ascribed to soon/yet to be discovered natural laws that is blind faith bordering on delusion.

    I’ll concede that saying don’t know/don’t care is not faith, but if that’s your view why bother posting here?

  76. “I’m sorry, I really don’t see the value of that definition.”

    Why not?

    “I don’t know everything; neither does anyone else.”

    Of course that is why it is necessary that you have certain unprovable presuppositions that evidently you did not know you needed to have.

    “And what is “the gap between what we know and don’t know?”

    LOL You have asked and answered your own question after all you admit you do not know everything.

    Vivid

  77. Laminar and pubdef,

    Let me first make it clear that by “God,” I refer to such a being as conceived in classical Western theism. Such a being would have to be omnipotent and omniscient, and he must exist in such a way as to both be completely independent of everything distinct from himself for his existence and make everything that exists distinct from himself metaphysically dependent on him for its existence. This is known as the aseity-dependence doctrine.

    Since we exist and we are not necessary beings, it follows that we were made to exist and therefore, that we exist for a purpose. Since we are rational beings, we are able to understand purposes and teleological ends. It follows that if we were made for a purpose, then we have a teleological end.

    Now is that end good? Well, since we have a rational nature and an understanding of purpose, given that God exists, it follows that our having such a nature was created by God for a purpose. It seems reasonable to me to think that if God gave us an understanding of purpose (and therefore an understanding of things that are good and things that are bad, else purpose would not have its full meaning), then he would make us disposed to love those things that are good and hate those things that are bad. Therefore, it seems reasonable to suppose that the highest good we could understand would be that good which corresponds perfectly with God’s purpose for our existence.

    I conclude that if God exists, then that makes a difference to our lives that nothing else can even come close to making–it fundamentally alters the way that we exist.

  78. crandaddy @77. Very nice!

  79. Gerry – 63

    Lots of people hold beliefs about what is right and wrong and sometimes struggle to do the right thing. They don’t all subscribe to a religion. In fact subscribing to a religion doesn’t seem to help much when it comes to doing the right thing as it is all to easy to pick the priest/rabbi/imam who is telling you what you want to hear.

    It is also very easy to lead people when you are regarded as a moral authority so although I agree with you that religious people sometimes struggle to do the right thing, as do non-religious people, a lot of people will also just do what they are told is right even if it is actually just an expression of the prejudices or angst of their preacher.

    “We just want to eliminate the wrong impression people have on evolution from the debate.”

    I hope by that you mean that believing that ‘the theory of evolution means that there can be no god’ is wrong and a misrepresentation of the theory.

  80. StephenB – 64

    I’ve use a lot of different things to open cans in my time. Not all of them were can openers and some were more effective than others. I never tried a pencil on a tin can but one was just enough to get into a can of pepsi once when the ring-pull malfunctioned.

    So if a good person is someone who lives according to their created nature then being created as a self destructive and war-prone species would mean that it is not immoral to kill. Absolute morality in this case is dependant on whatever god created us for, which could be for entertainment. You still have subjective morality though because what you regard as right and wrong presumably comes from some kind of scripture or personal revelation. Lots of people derive their morality from scripture and revelation but many of these moral perspectives seem to clash. How do I know which one to trust?

    To put the atheistic perspective forward for a moment, if humans were created by natural processes then they to ought to behave according to their created nature. In this case it would be as intelligent animals who tend to thrive in large social groups where indiscriminate killing and overt selfishness is detrimental to the group, and consequently runs against their ‘nature’.

    “Among all earthly creatures, only man has the power to resist his created purpose …”

    Is that a fact or a statement about your faith? Presumably if it is a fact then we must have been created this way for a purpose.

  81. Crandaddy – 77

    Let me first make it clear that by GOD I mean any entity capable of creating a universe.

    Your conclusion is based on your own definition of what the word GOD implies to you, whilst you are entitled to believe that the work GOD should only apply to the human centric conception of a singular deity as concieved by western theism I find your definition far to limited.

    We are, in effect, talking about two totally different things. You have basically defined the word GOD to make your argument true. Should we be making definitive distinctions between GOD, super natural forces and Intelligent designers as causal agents?

    If I conclude that God exists then in order to determine if it makes any significant difference to our lives I would need to know something about the nature of god. If I use your definition of God then the significance is implicit in the definition of God, if I use my definition then the significance is dependant on the nature of God.

  82. pubdef 66: “So what’s the point of thinking so hard if either decision you come to is based on faith??”

    I think Barry made this point in the OP. We are human beings. We are curious about the world we live in and we like to solve puzzles. It’s what we do.

  83. People often think of “seriousness” and “fun” at two opposite ends of the spectrum. However, I’ve found that the most fun I have is when I take things the most seriously, and this makes sense. If I don’t care about the outcome or anything else in the process, where’s the thrill? Pursuit of pleasure for it’s own sake leads to apathy and dullness. Pursuing meaning makes your life mean more and increases the thrill ride of life’s ups and downs. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said he came to give us life “more abundantly”. This is why I find the slogan, “There is probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life,” so ludicrous. And it’s probably why people do not like Darwin’s theory. If your life has no meaning, how can anything be enjoyable?

  84. To put the atheistic perspective forward for a moment, if humans were created by natural processes then they to ought to behave according to their created nature. In this case it would be as intelligent animals who tend to thrive in large social groups where indiscriminate killing and overt selfishness is detrimental to the group, and consequently runs against their ‘nature’.

    So if we leave God out of the picture, humans will form large social groups without indiscriminate killing and overt selfishness?

  85. —–Laminar: “I never tried a pencil on a tin can but one was just enough to get into a can of pepsi once when the ring-pull malfunctioned.”

    I am a big believer in purpose, but I celebrate creativity as well. Three cheers!

    —–“So if a good person is someone who lives according to their created nature then being created as a self destructive and war-prone species would mean that it is not immoral to kill. Absolute morality in this case is dependant on whatever god created us for, which could be for entertainment.

    The only way I know of to discern what we were made for is to have our maker reveal it to us. I believe that is what the Bible and the Church are for. I do think, however, that the natural moral law can be apprehended through reason alone.

    ——“You still have subjective morality though because what you regard as right and wrong presumably comes from some kind of scripture or personal revelation. Lots of people derive their morality from scripture and revelation but many of these moral perspectives seem to clash. How do I know which one to trust?”

    It is not a “personal” revelation, (which would indeed make it subjective), it is a Divine revelation, (which is what makes it objective). There is no disagreement (at least among Christians) about the morality contained in Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, or the Sermon on the Mount. All of these are descriptions and extensions of the “natural moral law,” which is also objective. If it is objective, we “discover” it; if it is subjective we “create” it. If it is objective, it is universal, meaning that it applies to all people; if it is subjective, it is individual, meaning that each person conveniently chooses his own. That is why objective morality fosters an orderly society while subjective morality inevitably leads to a “war of all against all.”

    —–“To put the atheistic perspective forward for a moment, if humans were created by natural processes then they to ought to behave according to their created nature. In this case it would be as intelligent animals who tend to thrive in large social groups where indiscriminate killing and overt selfishness is detrimental to the group, and consequently runs against their ‘nature’.”

    The atheist position is that humans were not created at all, they just happened by accident. So, they have no created nature. That is why atheists don’t believe that there is any such thing as “human” nature. For them, there is just nature, which includes chemicals, plants, and various kinds of animals, of which humans are a subset. If there is no such thing as human nature, then obviously there can be no such thing as a morality of human nature, which means that there can be no morality at all.

  86. The atheist position is that humans were not created at all, they just happened by accident. So, they have no created nature. That is why atheists don’t believe that there is any such thing as “human” nature. For them, there is just nature, which includes chemicals, plants, and various kinds of animals, of which humans are a subset. If there is no such thing as human nature, then obviously there can be no such thing as a morality of human nature, which means that there can be no morality at all.

    I don’t know how this became “the atheist position,” and I don’t doubt that some atheist take it, but it certainly is not required as a logical consequence of atheism. The physical components (material) that make up a human being (the human brain, in particular) differ from those of other living things (including other animals), so it is not at all a problem that humans can behave and react distinctly. (I know that many of you would dispute that “evolution” or materialistic processes could produce a distinctly human personality, but the issue here is what “atheists” could believe.) So, I see no inherent problem with “a morality of human nature” within an atheist paradigm.

  87. —-”So, I see no inherent problem with “a morality of human nature” within an atheist paradigm.”

    [a] Do accidents of nature have rights?

    [b] Are they morally obliged to do anything?

    How do you make a case for either [a], [b], or both?

  88. [a] Do accidents of nature have rights?

    [b] Are they morally obliged to do anything?

    How do you make a case for either [a], [b], or both?

    Both the concept of “rights” and the recognition of them as held by other beings are natural consequences of the development of “human nature.” Likewise, for “morality” and “moral obligation.”
    And here’s one for you: does the existence of God settle all questions of behavior within the concepts of rights and moral obligation (or, can religion provide clear answers as to what is “right” or “moral”?)

  89. pubdef–So, I see no inherent problem with “a morality of human nature” within an atheist paradigm.

    Pubdef, I’m not trying to pick on you but what is the arbiter of morality in an atheist paradigm?

    Should it be the state or do we want ever police officer, judge, IRS agent, DA, the President and every other officer of the state to understand that they will have to account to a higher judge for what they do with the authority they mind find themselves holding?

  90. [a] DO accidents of nature have rights?
    Do you mind?
    Are rights allowed to make mistakes?YES they are.By taking the bull by the horns when no one else would is not wrong.It is the only right thing that could have been done.
    The consequences that happened may not be acceptable by others but how many really know the truth that caused the accident?

  91. Would a complete change in governments,a complete house cleaning and starting over with honest youthful tomorrow caring knowing wake up the whole continent “if” it could only happen in Nova Scotia?
    Many have to start in the smallest voting results area.
    It seems that all eyes are watching.Too bad they wouldn`t help us to help themselves obtain some values instead of that almighty dollar they are chasing,so it seems!

  92. tribune7 — I’m not comfortable expounding on the specifics of an “atheist paradigm” (having said only that I don’t see that it would be incompatible with “a morality of human nature”). But I will say something about “morality” in a secular context.

    Human society has a number of mechanisms and devices to support behavioral and moral norms, ranging from informal, community-based means such as disapproval, shame, and opprobrium, through formalized sanctions such as civil damages, and criminal penalties.

    The informal categories tend to be self-executing (e.g., you don’t need a monitor on the street shouting out, “Hubert! Pull up your pants!”).

    The agents of formal sanctions (and positive social morality, such as care of dependent persons) are accountable to a complex system of legitimacy that varies with the specific character of the society.

  93. Is anyone paying attention to Dr. Time? I’m worried he may hurt himself.

  94. —–”Both the concept of “rights” and the recognition of them as held by other beings are natural consequences of the development of “human nature.” Likewise, for “morality” and “moral obligation.”

    You have not made a case; you have simply made an assertion. Which moral code are you talking about? Where is it grounded? By whose authority are rights conferred? What does the atheist say to the government when it tells him that he has no rights except those that the state chooses to give him? How does he protect himself from the tyranny of the majority?

    —–”And here’s one for you: does the existence of God settle all questions of behavior within the concepts of rights and moral obligation (or, can religion provide clear answers as to what is “right” or “moral”?)”

    The traditional argument has been put forth by the founding fathers and is summarized in the Declaration of Independence. Here is a quick informal summary:

    Rights come from God. The job of government is to protect those rights not to confer them. If the state grants rights, the state can take them away. Under those circumstances, individual freedoms would be subject to the whims of legislators. That means that they would not be unalienable.

    The citizens’ “rights” are tied to their“ responsibility” to follow the natural moral law. They need no tyrant to tell them right from wrong inasmuch as their consciences, which apprehend the natural moral law, can do that job without the tyrants help. It is this capacity to know that moral law and follow it that qualifies them for self governance. It is because of this power that they are said to have “inherent dignity, meaning that they are made “in the image and likeness of God.”

    The substance of that morality comes from God’s natural moral law which was designed by God and made explicit in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes. Citizens’ freedoms depend on their willingness to know those laws and follow them willingly. The government’s limitations are based on those same laws and are justified by that same rationale. Do atheists have a counterpart to even one of these elements? Of course not. That is why their regimes are always inhumane.

  95. Thanks for my concern pubdef.
    My eyes and brain do need a good tune up.They sometimes don`t know what they are seeing.Know of any good doctors who can test stupidity and teach me the lessons “I do” need to learn.Maybe I need an injection of the gene of love.Is a self diagnosis of stupidlylovelesscrazy?
    Going to take a shot of sleep and go to bed now.What would would your prescription be?
    Check it in the morning.
    Night.

  96. StephenB,

    Thank you for the compliment.

    Laminar,

    Of course you can define “God” however you choose. You can go outside and name some tree “God” if you want. But as Western users of the word understand the term, what I provided is actually a very broad definition. (Persons including but not limited to all three Abrahamic faiths would assent to it.)

    You have basically defined the word GOD to make your argument true. Should we be making definitive distinctions between GOD, super natural forces and Intelligent designers as causal agents?

    It is true that I’ve provided a definition and have laid out what I take to follow from it. If you disagree with something, then your task is to focus on my axiom or some inference from it and show what’s wrong.

    To answer your question, in order to have any idea what we’re talking about, I think the answer is unquestionably yes! I’m kind of surprised you would ask such a question.

    You start your comment by defining “God” simply as any being able to create a universe. But I say this definition is too broad. From this it isn’t clear whether your god is even personal. And even if your god is personal, I still don’t know whether he/she/it creates ex nihilo or uses preexisting objects.

    The best I can say from what you give me is that simply from the fact that a universe is caused to exist it doesn’t seem to follow that our lives have any value deriving from that cause. But of course, this is not what the large majority of English speakers have in mind when they speak of “God.”

  97. You’re fine, Dr. Time.

    Night. :-)

  98. tragicmishap:82
    “If your life has no meaning, how can anything be enjoyable?”

    My life has meaning, I enjoy my life but I don’t believe in God. Telling me it doesn’t won’t make it true. In many ways I pity people who are incapable of enjoying life without divine permission.

  99. Tribune7: 84
    “So if we leave God out of the picture, humans will form large social groups without indiscriminate killing and overt selfishness?”

    Well currently we have God IN the picture and we still have large groups of religious people indiscriminately killing. Religion might be useful for many but it kills a lot of people every year. Getting rid of God might not help but it might not make anything worse. The big problem with the idea of getting rid of god is the people who are only capable of being good when they have the threat of divine retribution hanging over their head.

  100. StephenB: 85

    “It is not a “personal” revelation, (which would indeed make it subjective), it is a Divine revelation”
    “If it is objective, we “discover” it; if it is subjective we “create” it. ”

    A rabbi in Israel recently ‘discovered’ that there is nothing morally wrong with killing Palestinian civilians in the Torah. Unless you can empirically demonstrate divine instructions the only thing you have are a series of personal revelations and these can, and have been, used to justify almost anything. Simply referring to ‘the good book’ as your divine source won’t stop someone claiming to have a better book or others from believing them.

    “If it is objective, we “discover” it”

    So if we discover that in fact we have evolved to be on average good people who don’t tend to steal, murder indiscriminately then this must therefore be objective morality?
    —-
    “The atheist position is that humans were not created at all, they just happened by accident. So, they have no created nature…”

    You have not made a case; you have simply made an assertion.

    —-
    “[a] Do accidents of nature have rights?”

    Do creations? We can still be accidents even in a created universe, one definition of accident is an unintended consequence of an intentional act.

    “[b] Are they morally obliged to do anything?”

    Do creations? You claim they do but I don’t believe your revelations are truth.
    —-
    “The substance of that morality comes from God’s natural moral law which was designed by God and made explicit in the Ten Commandments,”

    So although the constitution grants freedom of religion it is also based on the Christian commandment(s) “I am the Lord your God, You shall have no other gods before me” Hmmm…

  101. crandaddy:96

    Although I was brought up in the west I have not had my religious experience limited to the abrahamic religions so my definition of God incorporates those from Dharmic religions as well as the ancient Greek and Roman gods, along with some Norse mythology and aboriginal ideas. Because I’m agnostic my concept of what God could be spans theism and deism – personal and impersonal, involved and uninvolved gods.

    I think we could probably agree on the point that an intelligent designer at the level of a universe does not imply any divine purpose or meaning for our lives but it does imply a purpose behind the universe. An intelligent cause for the universe, or life on earth doesn’t imply purpose though, even intelligent agents can have accidents ;)

  102. —–Laminar: “A rabbi in Israel recently ‘discovered’ that there is nothing morally wrong with killing Palestinian civilians in the Torah.”

    Are you talking about an military act in a wartime situation or a personal act of murder? Your example is too imprecise to be helpful.

    —-”So if we discover that in fact we have evolved to be on average good people who don’t tend to steal, murder indiscriminately then this must therefore be objective morality?”

    Objective morality is not something that we make up for ourselves as we go along. The same creator that fashioned us fashioned the natural moral law. I thought that was clear.
    —-
    —-”Do creations? We can still be accidents even in a created universe, one definition of accident is an unintended consequence of an intentional act.”

    [A] You have yet to confront the question about whether accidents can have rights? [B] We are not talking about a created universe, we are talking about created beings in a universe. A created being cannot be both what it is an accident.

    —–”Do creations? You claim they do but I don’t believe your revelations are truth.”

    They are not MY revelations. I don’t recall issuing forth any revealed truths from on high.

    The question persists: On what principle, other than your own moral whims, would you build a well-ordered society?

    —-
    —-”So although the constitution grants freedom of religion it is also based on the Christian commandment(s) “I am the Lord your God, You shall have no other gods before me” Hmmm…”

    The constitution was set up to establish relationships between citizens, not relationships between God and citizens. It was assumed that responsible citizens would follow God’s laws (including the first commandment that you allude to) so that they could govern themselves. Self government requires self control, which, in turn, requires an objective behavior standard. That is the whole point. The citizen submits to a just moral law so that he does not have to submit to an unjust tyrant. It appears that you disagree with that formulation, but you have yet to provide a reasonable alternative. What would you choose instead? Sharia Law? Chaos? Atheistic tyranny? Tyranny of the majority?

  103. —–Laminar: “Unless you can empirically demonstrate divine instructions the only thing you have are a series of personal revelations and these can, and have been, used to justify almost anything. Simply referring to ‘the good book’ as your divine source won’t stop someone claiming to have a better book or others from believing them.”

    I think that you are missing a critical point here. Every government has an ethic; the challenge is to choose the right ethic. To say there is no right ethic is to invite the wrong ethic. Other than the Judeo/Christian moral framework, there is no belief system that can support personal freedom and reconcile itself with the Declaration of Independence. It is not possible to build a well ordered society without it. Atheism and agnosticism reject the objective morality on which civil law must stand, and Islam does not acknowledge the “inherent dignity of the human person.”

  104. StephenB:

    It is perfectly clear and just as you have stated, objective morality is not something we make up, it is something we discover – so if we discover that it is ‘in our genes’ and a product of evolution then it is objective, not just made up.

    “The same creator that fashioned us fashioned the natural moral law.”

    Why should I believe your assertion that there are some natural moral laws fashioned by a supernatural creator, that this creator is exactly what you believe him to be and that these laws are what you believe them to be?

    “On what principle, other than your own moral whims, would you build a well-ordered society?”

    Precisely, on what evidence should I believe your claim that these moral laws you subscribe to are any more than the whims of men presented as the word of god? I don’t claim to have an answer but I would like to know why I should subscribe to the moral laws that you advocate and not to someone else’s. They may not be your personal revelations but it is you who are advocating their divinity.

    —-
    As far as the constitution goes, if the first commandment is something that Americans are expected to abide by then presumably is is un-American to not be a Christian. As for proposing an alternative – I’m not, I never suggested the US constitution was wrong I just suggested that it might not actually require Americans to be Christians but instead it might grant the freedom NOT to follow the first commandment.

    —-
    “Atheism and agnosticism reject the objective morality on which civil law must stand.”

    No they argue that true morality should be the product of rational thought not the whims of theologians masquerading as objectivity and divinity. I think you are missing the critical point here, if this objective divine morality exists then why do so many people disagree on what it is? I’m not even claiming that God or God given moral codes do not exist, I’d just like to know how to tell them apart from the ones that aren’t.

  105. I think there’s a false dichotomy going on here, between “the natural moral law fashioned by the creator,” and “your own moral whims.” In between is a rich and complex tradition fostered by human evolution and experience. I would hold that the sources brought by StephenB (10 Commandments, etc.) grew out of that.
    Behaviors and standards vary significantly among social groups, but I think there is also a good amount of consensus. This isn’t 100% on point, probably, but I’m reminded of a list of dozens (if not hundreds) of attitudes that appear to be common across cultures; I saw it in a book by Steven Pinker, I think, although I think it was attributed to someone else.

    Meanwhile — the “Judeo/Christian moral framework” has a significantly longer history than the Declaration of Independence, including a lot of time and places where the GoA [god of abraham] was acknowledged by the ruling class, with widely varying degrees of “humane” government. So, it would seem that the law of the GoA might not be sufficient. Finally, I would note that both sides of the American Civil War went into battle convinced that the GoA was on their side and that the “rights” they fought for were Bible-based.

  106. My two cents is that we are designed to discover the moral law through rational discourse, beginning from a foundational point of course. Now, how to get to that foundational point through rational discourse, I’m not sure. But, I do believe that point to begin all discussion of moral law is “love” — treating others as you would have them treat you and respecting them as having intrinsic worth.

    Now, absent any moral code of “love” built into nature, would we ever discover love and a moral code? Without a certain type of front-loading, would evolution on its own (merely chance and law absent any purposive structure) be able to build minds which could even discover and comprehend a moral code or the concept of “love.”

  107. CJYman:
    How much time would you consider having to wait to know for certain without a doubt?
    First though:What is your definition of love?
    I don`t feel a dictionary is a personal view.

  108. —–Laminar: “It is perfectly clear and just as you have stated, objective morality is not something we make up, it is something we discover – so if we discover that it is ‘in our genes’ and a product of evolution then it is objective, not just made up.”

    I don’t think that really captures the idea of “objective.” The objective moral law is on the outside of us, so to speak. It is not part of our genetic code.

    —-”Why should I believe your assertion that there are some natural moral laws fashioned by a supernatural creator, that this creator is exactly what you believe him to be and that these laws are what you believe them to be?”

    Think of it this way. If we don’t believe that, then we have no other to provide a rational justification for our freedoms, which was the main point of my argument. I don’t expect to persuade you about the truth of the Judeo/Christian world view, but I submit that you are free only because others built a well-ordered society around that principle. I think that point deserves to be acknolwedged.

    —–”Precisely, on what evidence should I believe your claim that these moral laws you subscribe to are any more than the whims of men presented as the word of god?”

    The best answer I can give is that they work wherever they are tried, and that no civilized society has ever been built without them. Since they work, and since they are confirmed in the Judeo/Christian playbook (which also claims revealed truths that are consistent with these same sound social principles), that seems like a pretty good indication that they are appropriate.

    —-”I don’t claim to have an answer but I would like to know why I should subscribe to the moral laws that you advocate and not to someone else’s. They may not be your personal revelations but it is you who are advocating their divinity.”

    I am advocating nothing more or less what the founding fathers advocated. If there is no natural moral law, then there is no unifying principle around which warring nations (or states) can settle their differences. All societies have recognized this natural moral law, even though they were not wise enought to structure their governments accordingly. —-

    —-”As far as the constitution goes, if the first commandment is something that Americans are expected to abide by then presumably is is un-American to not be a Christian.”

    Well, we would all be better off if all Americans did observe the first commandment, but the law does not require it. Indeed, the Judeo/Christian ethic is the only one that provides for other world views to flourish under its banner. That is a big, big, deal.

    —-”I never suggested the US constitution was wrong I just suggested that it might not actually require Americans to be Christians but instead it might grant the freedom NOT to follow the first commandment.”

    It is a Judeo/Christian principle that anyone who chooses not to follow the first commandment should have the political freedom to ignore their creator. No one in the United States has ever been given a political mandate to save their soul. The Judeo/Christian principle supports the “inherent dignity of the human person,” which allows everyone to practice his or her religion. Again, no other belief system is consistent with that kind of freedom.

    —-

    —-(Atheism and Agnosticism) argue that true morality should be the product of rational thought not the whims of theologians masquerading as objectivity and divinity.”

    Yes, that’s true. That is why they never come up with anything. If you have the time, ask an atheist to explain his moral code and provide his rationale for it. He’ll probably say something like, I believe that our moral code should be based on “reason.” You will not even get the chance to ask him if his code applies to all people at all times and in all places because he will not yet have told you what it is.

    —-”If this objective divine morality exists then why do so many people disagree on what it is?”

    They don’t. Almost everyone knows that we shouldn’t lie, cheat, steal, and murder, oppress, betray, mislead, covet, and commit adultery. The problem is that many people would prefer to do these things anyway, so they pretend not to know better.

    —-”I’m not even claiming that God or God given moral codes do not exist, I’d just like to know how to tell them apart from the ones that aren’t.”

    Go with the evidence. Find happy people. Watch what works. Observe what causes unhappiness and resentment and take note of what brings peace (especially peace in the heart)

  109. Oops, I mean, “It is a Judeo/Christian principle that [those] who choose not to follow the first commandment should have the political freedom to ignore their creator.”

  110. —-”Finally, I would note that both sides of the American Civil War went into battle convinced that the GoA was on their side and that the “rights” they fought for were Bible-based.”

    Both sides violated Biblically based principles and the natural moral law. One side asked for the Biblically-based freedom to secede, and the other side chose not to honor that Biblically-based freedom. Both sides violated the inherent dignity of the human person by holding slaves.

  111. Laminar –Getting rid of God might not help but it might not make anything worse.

    Gee, I wonder if anybody as ever tried sort of put that idea to the test?

  112. StephenB

    I don’t think we are going to get much further, and I am getting behind on my chores so this will be my last post on this topic.

    I actually agree that some of the biblical laws are very useful for an ordered society and it is obvious when we look at history that our western society is built to a degree on those laws. I’m glad we don’t still adhere to ideas like the divine right of kings though. The question for me is whether these laws are, as you suggest, divine in origin or whether they are just the things that have worked for ordered societies and as such have become formalised as part of various religious doctrines. Were they created divinely or naturally.

    “Go with the evidence. Find happy people. Watch what works. Observe what causes unhappiness and resentment and take note of what brings peace (especially peace in the heart)”

    I do, that’s why I tend to avoid church and deeply religious communities.

  113. OK Laminar, we can leave it at that. For what it is worth, I can provide plenty of evidence that church goers are happier and more peaceful than their atheist counterparts. Also, they do a better job of forming communities and well-ordered societies. Just compare the ideas in Communist Manifesto with those in the Declaration of Independence.

  114. StephenB

    For what it is worth, I can provide plenty of evidence that church goers are happier and more peaceful than their atheist counterparts. Also, they do a better job of forming communities and well-ordered societies. Just compare the ideas in Communist Manifesto with those in the Declaration of Independence.

    Your first and second sentences raise my hopes that you could answer a question I asked in another thread In “There’s probably no God …”, comment 127, I asked, essentially, whether there is any data that shows a significant difference between theists and atheists regarding daily life and behavior, and overall “happiness.” Your third sentence, of course, is all about theory, not data; so, can you in fact provide any evidence on this question?

  115. I asked, essentially, whether there is any data that shows a significant difference between theists and atheists regarding daily life and behavior, and overall “happiness.” Your third sentence, of course, is all about theory, not data; so, can you in fact provide any evidence on this question?

    You ask interesting questions Pubdef. I think I gave you an out-of-context answer on that thread.

    Someone who thinks about that question is much happier believing the answer to be yes – just look at the posts here vs. the ones on PZ’s board.

    OTOH, I think you can go through life being relatively happy without thinking about the question. Consider the Bible story about Lazarus the beggar and the rich man.

    I read it as the rich man was a fairly happy fellow who didn’t think too much about God and what God wanted us to do.

  116. —-pubdef: “Your first and second sentences raise my hopes that you could answer a question I asked in another thread In “There’s probably no God …”, comment 127, I asked, essentially, whether there is any data that shows a significant difference between theists and atheists regarding daily life and behavior, and overall “happiness.”

    About six months ago, I reported on two major studies that confirmed the point. I started to rummage through my records to find it, then I thought, just for fun, I will do a quick google. That was enough.

    Just type in believers happier than non-believers, or Christians happier than non-Chritians, or Church goers happier than non-church goers, or conservatives happier than liberals—you get the drift. The results are pretty much standard—invariably, the answer is, yes.

    Then test it the other way. Try getting a response with “non-believers happier than believers” etc, or atheists happier than Christians etc…. What you will find is that the results reverse the order of the words and send you right back to the same reports that confirm that “believers happier than non-believers,” Chritians happier than atheists.” I couldn’t find a single one in any context that refutes the point.

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