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We Will if You Will

In response to Dr. Torley’s post here, commenter Graham asks:  “Can we now drop the pretense and just declare UD/ID to be religious”? 

Well Graham, let’s think about that.  ID theory posits that some observations are best explained as the result of the acts of an intelligent agent.  The theory does not posit any particular agent and the agent need not be a deity.  It could, for example, be the aliens Dawkins speculated about in his interview with Ben Stein. 

To be sure, many ID proponents believe the intelligent agent is God.  But that is a possible implication of the theory, not part of the theory itself.

Neo-Darwinian evolution (NDE) posits that unguided material forces are sufficient to produce all that we see and thus there is no need for a designer.  The obvious implication of the theory is that atheism is a valid scientific conclusion.  Again, Dawkins:  “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

Many proponents of NDE are atheists.  But atheism is a possible implication of the theory, not part of the theory itself.

You ask if we can declare ID to be religious because some people take ID and run with its implications in theological directions.  Well, a lot of people take NDE and run with its implications in theological directions.  (Atheism is nothing if not a “religous” position)

Tell you what, I am happy to call ID religious if you will also call NDE religous to the same extent.  Deal?

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130 Responses to We Will if You Will

  1. Those who call intelligent design a religious theory should clean their own house first by getting rid of all their (anti) religious reasoning in support of the theory of evolution — except that such reasoning really does not support the theory. Such reasoning can succeed only to the extent that it raises doubts in the minds of the theists. Such evidence starved reasoning does nothing to bolster the case for evolution.

    I always find it interesting that atheists who deny the existence of God also contend to know the mind of their non-existent God. They seem to know exactly what God would or would not do.

    Don’t we really want to know what evolution can or cannot do?

  2. Oh, dear! You’re using logic and reasoning; that will never do!

  3. I found this quote yesterday. It is very telling to the fact that neo-Darwinism functions exactly like a religion;

    In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core. This did not surprise me. From my conversations with leading researchers it had became clear that modern experimental biology gains its strength from the availability of new instruments and methodologies, not from an immersion in historical biology. – Philip Skell
    http://www.the-scientist.com/2005/08/29/10/1/

    In fact Dr. Behe did exactly what Dr. Skell suggested in this following video at the 6:54 minute mark, and removing the word evolution had absolutely no effect on the paper’s core;

    Michael Behe – Life Reeks Of Design
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdh-YcNYThY

    ———-

    Evolution Is Religion–Not Science by Henry Morris, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality,,, Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.
    Darwinian atheist Michael Ruse – Prominent Philosopher
    http://www.icr.org/article/455/

  4. The Big Bang also implicates a creator. Is it therefore not a scientific theory?

  5. Barry:

    Atheism is nothing if not a “religous” position.

    Not collecting stamps is nothing if not a “hobby”

    Sigh.

    Has this point not been made clearly thousands of times already? Atheism is a lack of belief in God, and therefore a lack of a religious belief. There are atheists who have other religious beliefs, like Buddhists, but atheism itself isn’t a ‘religious’ belief any more than ‘not playing’ soccer is a sport, or ‘not being a doctor’ is a profession.

  6. jurrasicmac,

    Has this point not been made clearly thousands of times already? Atheism is a lack of belief in God, and therefore a lack of a religious belief. There are atheists who have other religious beliefs, like Buddhists, but atheism itself isn’t a ‘religious’ belief any more than ‘not playing’ soccer is a sport, or ‘not being a doctor’ is a profession.

    The analogies of soccer and stamps don’t apply, for atheism is a belief, just like theism.

  7. I think the distinction about atheism vs religion is that atheism is a belief about religion, not a belief in religion.

  8. NeilBJ:

    I always find it interesting that atheists who deny the existence of God also contend to know the mind of their non-existent God. They seem to know exactly what God would or would not do.

    If someone says “Darth Vader was a sweet, caring, thoughtful guy,” and I respond “No he wasn’t, he was evil, selfish, and power hungry,” does that mean that I’m professing a belief in the existence of Darth Vader? No.

    Most of the time, skeptics are merely pointing out logical contradictions in theist’s claims about God. They’re not necessarily saying things like “God wouldn’t send people to hell, or create organisms in such a way that they looked like they evolved,” as much as they’re pointing out that “It is inconsistent to think that your God as you describe him would torture people for eternity (because you say He’s omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, and infinitely merciful)” or “It is inconsistent to think that your God as you describe him would create things that look like they are the end result of common ancestry & natural selection. (because you say he is infinitely creative, and omnipotent, so He would have no design constraints on Him.)

    You don’t have to ‘believe’ in a character that you think is fictional in order to point out logical contradictions in descriptions of it by people who do believe in it.

  9. Clive:

    The analogies of soccer and stamps don’t apply, for atheism is a belief, just like theism.

    You are simply misdefining atheism. Theism is the belief in a God, atheism is the lack of belief in a God, it’s as simple as that.

    If someone isn’t convinced that bigfoot is real because they have no reason to be, is that a belief, or a lack of a belief?

  10. You can’t just lack a belief about God. Trees lack belief. Rocks lack belief. Cats lack belief.

    Humans do not.

    If you have ever heard or thought about God, you believe something about God. Is it really that difficult to understand?

  11. There is a growing questioning of intelligent design based upon Augustinian beliefs as well, based around the phrase fides quaerens intellectum faith seeking understanding. Alister McGrath for instance wants to recover a Trinitarian Natural Theology from Augustine’s theology. Alvin Plantinga argues for Augustinian science where Christians may begin science from what is known from Christian faith. This is because all start from a place of belief, whether religious or non-religious belief. Atheists may not have religious beliefs, but they do have beliefs that shape science.

    Most creationists today have adopted pressupositional apologetics as opposed to the evidential apologetics that still seems characteristic of ID.

  12. I would characterize atheism as a philosophical belief, not a religious one (and certainly not a scientific one!)

  13. Hey, Jurassicmac,

    You write:

    “Atheism is a lack of belief in God, and therefore a lack of a religious belief.”

    While I think your overall point – that the word ‘Athiesm’ isn’t a religious statement – may have some merit, ‘Atheists’ themselves tend to be pretty religious when it comes to their beliefs as well.

    I mean think about it. You have an origin story (several actually), You have texts to read (God Delusion, God is Not Great’, Origin Of Speicies), men & women in funny dress telling you how we came to be and how to live life (scientists in lab coats and what not) and you even have an apocalypse predicted (universal heat death, ne?). You believe all of these things (or at least most of them) are absolute truth, and for many of you the idea that you may be wrong is something to sneer at… an attitude which ‘religious’ people have down to a science these days unfortunately.

    You may be ‘godless’, but you’re certainly still religious.

    - Sonfaro

    P.S. If you ‘lack belief’ that a God exists, it means you believe no God exists, which is a positive statement that should be defended. Belief isn’t the same as a sporting event. By not believing one thing you take an opposite position. Either you believe, you don’t believe, Or you’re unsure. And anyone who calls him/herself an Atheist isn’t unsure.

  14. 14

    jurassicmac

    The dictionary defines atheism as:

    1. the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
    2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    Both definitions undercut your argument. Atheism is an active belief, not a state of being.

    You write: “atheism itself isn’t a ‘religious’ belief any more than ‘not playing’ soccer is a sport, or ‘not being a doctor’ is a profession.”

    You are correct. Not playing soccer is not a sport, and not being a doctor is not a profession. Neither of these propositions has any bearing on what we are talking about.

    Atheism is an active belief. The atheist has weighed the evidence and made a conclusion about God, i.e., that he does not exist. You can say many things about that conclusion, but you can’t say it is not a conclusion about a vitally important religious issue.

  15. In his book “Signature in the Cell” Stephen C. Meyer addresses the issue of Intelligent Design and religion:

    First, by any reasonable definition of the term, intelligent design is not “religion”.- page 441 under the heading Not Religion

  16. In “The Design Revolution”, page 25, William Dembski writes:

    Intelligent Design has theological implications, but it is not a theological enterprise. Theology does not own intelligent design. Intelligent design is not a evangelical Christian thing, or a generally Christian thing or even a generally theistic thing. Anyone willing to set aside naturalistic prejudices and consider the possibility of evidence for intelligence in the natural world is a friend of intelligent design.

    He goes on to say:

    Intelligent design requires neither a meddling God nor a meddled world. For that matter, it doesn’t even require there be a God.

  17. HT to Pez.

    As if it had to be said-

    In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.1

    The frequently made assertion that modern biology and the assumptions of the Judaeo-Christian tradition are fully compatible is false.2

    Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.3

    As the creationists claim, belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism.4

    click here for a hint:

    ‘Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.’ 5

    Thank you for your honesty Will Provine.

    1- Academe January 1987 pp.51-52 †

    2-Evolutionary Progress (1988) p. 65 †

    3- “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life” 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address 1 2 †

    4- No Free Will (1999) p.123

    5- Provine, W.B., Origins Research 16(1), p.9, 1994.

  18. Leslie:

    You can’t just lack a belief about God. Trees lack belief. Rocks lack belief. Cats lack belief.

    Humans do not.

    Leslie, do you lack a belief in the magical half-dinosaur, half-turnip creatures called boingalfluffins? I’m willing to bet that prior to reading this, you did; It is therefore quite possible for humans to lack specific beliefs. (and what reason do you have to think that cats lack beliefs? My sister’s cat believes that the sound of a can opener means food is coming, or at least, he acts like he does)

    Barry says in the OP that atheism is a religious belief; That’s like saying that believing lightning is caused by electric discharge, and not Thor, is a religious belief.

    Believing in Thor is a religious belief. Not believing in Thor is not also a religious belief, It’s the lack of one; else everybelief would be a religious belief, and that would render the phrase meaningless.

    If you have ever heard or thought about God, you believe something about God. Is it really that difficult to understand?

    Is it accurate then to say:

    “If you have ever heard or thought about Thor causing lightning, then you have a religious belief about what causes lightning.”

  19. Barry:

    Atheism is an active belief. The atheist has weighed the evidence and made a conclusion about God, i.e., that he does not exist. You can say many things about that conclusion, but you can’t say it is not a conclusion about a vitally important religious issue.

    That is simply incorrect. Even Richard Dawkins has pointed out on several occasions that he is not 100% sure that God does not exist. He has stated several times that if belief were mapped on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being absolute certainty that God exists, and 7 being absolute certainty that God does not exist, he would be a 6, or perhaps a 6.5.

    Atheism is not: “I do believe god does not exist,” (although an atheist can think this as well) but rather, atheism is: “I do not believe that God does exist.”

    The atheist has weighed the evidence and made the conclusion that there is insufficient reason to believe in God. Some go on to say that it is therefore safe to believe that God probably doesn’t exist, and a small fraction (I can name only one) go on to say that God certainly doesn’t exist.

    And regardless of how you define it, disbelieving a religious claim is not automatically itself a religious view itself.

    If someone told me that my bowl of cereal had an immortal soul, and I told them that I had insufficient evidence to accept their claim, am I making a religious claim? Do I have a ‘religious’ belief about cereal bowls?

    If so, then everything is a religious belief, and the term is meaningless.

  20. I realize that Darwinists have a terrible time understanding the context of a rational discussion, but I will, once again, try to illumninate the subject matter for them.

    [A] In order to justify their special brand of Theistic Darwinism, badly educated Catholics try to argue against ID science by twisting and obfuscating Aquinas’ arguments on Divine causality. To correct the errors of those badly educated Catholics, well-educated Catholics must untwist and clarify those arguments so as to give a fair account of what St. Thomas actually said.

    Just to provide a little repetition for the sake of the Darwinists: In order to untwist and clarify the religious subject matter that has been artificially injected into the discussion, one must also discuss that same religious subject matter that is to be untwisted and clarified.

    [B] For those uninitiated Darwinists who think ID methodology is “about religion” [a mindlessly vague phrase], I always ask this question: How do you extract religion from “Irreducible Complexity” or “Specified Complexisty.” So far, no one has ever taken up the challenge.

  21. If children come up with an imaginary friend their social environment will not accept the existence of this imaginary friend. Are you suggesting that not believing in the existence of this imaginary friend is on the same level as the introduction of the imaginary friend by the child?

  22. jurassicmac

    Atheism is a belief *about* God, and therefore, a religious *position*. Your soccer analogy is invalid because people who don’t play soccer (usually) don’t have anything *against* soccer. Atheists have something against the existence of God. It is contrary position *about* theism.

    A better analogy for you would be liberals and conservatives in politics. Opposite viewpoints.

  23. As a Christian, I believe atheism is a philosophical, not a religious position. Religious positions imply more than simply belief; they imply moral and self-obligations as a result of that belief. Even Buddhism, though it has no position on God, is a religious system in that sense. Deism, by this reasoning, is also a philosophical position.
    To say that atheism (or agnosticism, or deism) are religious is to elevate them beyond their proper sphere.

  24. 24

    Seqenenre,

    Does it help make your little story about children seem more valid to you by assuming your conclusion from the outset?

    I am guessing that is why you did so, is that correct?

  25. 25

    jurassicmac writes: “Atheism is not: ‘I do believe god does not exist,’ (although an atheist can think this as well) but rather, atheism is: ‘I do not believe that God does exist.’”

    The Dread Pirate Robert to Vizzini: “Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.”

    Seqenenre, your “imaginary friend” sophistry gets you nowhere.

    You and jurassicmac have both failed to heed Wittgenstein: “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” The issue is not whether belief in God is reasonable or unreasonable. The issue is whether belief in God is a religious belief. By definition, it is. Accordingly, atheism is a religious belief.

  26. Seqenenre, to suggest ‘imaginary’ denotes what you think is a non-conformity to reality. Yet, there are several lines of evidence that point to the reality of a ‘higher dimension’ above this 3-Dimensional (3-D) reality;

    Please note how 3-D reality folds and collapses into a tunnel shape, in direction of travel, as the constant for the speed of light is approached, in this following video. Please pay particular attention to the full relativistic effect at the 3:22 minute mark;

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    Note how the full relativistic effect at the 3:22 mark matches the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ effect noted in many Near Death Experiences;

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.(Barbara Springer)

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    As well Seqenenre, please note mass would disappear from our sight if it could go the speed of light, because, from our non-speed of light perspective, distance in direction of travel will shrink to zero for the mass going the speed of light, whereas conversely, if mass could travel at the speed of light its size will stay the same while all other frames of reference not traveling the speed of light will disappear from its sight.

    Special Relativity – Time Dilation and Length Contraction – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSRIyDfo_mY

    As well Seqenenre, please note how special relativity also confirms the reality of a higher ‘eternal’ dimension for time, which is also noted in very many Near Death Experiences;

    ,,, when traveling at the speed of light time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop for light, i.e. speed of light travel gets us to the eternal, ‘past and future folding into now’, framework of time. This higher dimension ‘eternal’ inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not ‘frozen within time’ yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest
    http://www.readersdigest.co.za.....26pageno=3

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

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

    ‘When you die, you enter eternity. It feels like you were always there, and you will always be there. You realize that existence on Earth is only just a brief instant.’
    Dr. Ken Ring – has extensively studied Near Death Experiences

    As well Seqenenre, please note how quantum entanglement cannot be reduced to this 3-D material framework;

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    and please note, Seqenenre, how this quantum entanglement, which blatantly defies any constraints of this 3-D material realm, is found to be integral and foundational to molecular biology;

    Quantum Information In DNA & Protein Folding
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Further evidence that quantum entanglement/information is found throughout entire protein structures:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-373214

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint – 2010
    Excerpt: “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

  27. Seqenenre continued;

    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH
    Excerpt: It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/journals.asp?iid=47

    Please note Seqenenre, the ’4-Dimensionality’ that pervades every measurement for ‘power scaling’;

    The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology
    Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale
    with body size as power laws of the form:

    Y = Yo M^b,

    where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent.
    A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling.
    http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~dre.....18_257.pdf

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-369806

    4-Dimensional Quarter Power Scaling In Biology – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5964041/

    Though Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini rightly find it inexplicable for ‘random’ Natural Selection to be the rational explanation for the scaling of the physiology, and anatomy, of living things to four-dimensional parameters, they do not seem to fully realize the implications this ‘four dimensional scaling’ of living things presents. This 4-D scaling is something we should rightly expect from a Intelligent Design perspective. This is because Intelligent Design holds that ‘higher dimensional transcendent information’ is more foundational to life, and even to the universe itself, than either matter or energy are. This higher dimensional ‘expectation’ for life, from a Intelligent Design perspective, is directly opposed to the expectation of the Darwinian framework, which holds that information, and indeed even the essence of life itself, is merely an ‘emergent’ property of the 3-D material realm.

    As well Seqenenre, please note the uniqueness of this 3-Dimensional image on this 2-Dimensional surface:

    Shroud Of Turin’s Unique 3 Dimensionality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041182

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

    Seqenenre, you state ‘imaginary friend’ to denote non-conformity to reality, but perhaps it is your belief in a ‘absolute material frame of reference’ that is what is truly ‘imaginary’ in the first place?

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (personally I feel the word “illusion” was a bit too strong from Dr. Henry to describe material reality and would myself have opted for his saying something a little more subtle like; “material reality is a “secondary reality” that is dependent on the primary reality of God’s mind” to exist. Then again I’m not a professor of physics at a major university as Dr. Henry is.)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    Seqenenre, I would hope that this would give you enough solid reason as for you to look up, to that ‘higher dimension’ which is more real than this dimension, and to ask Christ, who has conquered death, into your life.

  28. Barry, I respectfully submit that you’re in error about this. Belief about something that some people consider a religious issue is not necessarily the same thing as a religious belief. As I said above, this needlessly elevates teh non-religious. You’re giving too much credit to atheism in order to make a tu quoque argument.

  29. The problem I have is that if something is “religious” then it gets banned from public schools while something not religious is allowed. So under jurassicmac’s view, atheism can be taught in school but no counter arguments would be allowed.

    Jurassicmac, I think that if you lack a belief in God then you are an agnostic, not an atheist. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    The term “religious” isn’t very well defined in our discussion I think. We should define it first and then argue about whether something is a religious belief or not.

  30. kornbelt888:

    Atheism is a belief *about* God, and therefore, a religious *position*.

    Ok, let’s see if that concept holds up elsewhere:

    That lightning is caused by electrical discharge and not by Thor is a belief *about* Thor, and therefore, a religious *position*.

    Uh, nope.

    Your soccer analogy is invalid because people who don’t play soccer (usually) don’t have anything *against* soccer.

    What in the world does liking something have to do with whether not playing it is it’s a sport? Or a religious belief?

    Atheists have something against the existence of God. It is contrary position *about* theism.,

    You could not possibly be more mistaken. I don’t have anything against the existence of God; in fact, having been a Christian for most of my life, I freely admit that I would even prefer that He existed. I (and many other) atheists are atheists for 1 reason, and 1 reason only: We are not convinced that the proposition “God exists” is true. It’s no different than not being convinced that the proposition “Bigfoot exists” is true. It wouldn’t matter If I preferred that God existed or preferred that he didn’t, in my opinion, the available evidence does not warrant belief. I obviously could be wrong about the evidence, but that is the sole determiner of my position.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t consider ID to be a religious argument. The statement “The complexity of life is best explained as the result of an Intelligent Designer” is an empirical statement through and through. However, It’s apparent that in most cases (myself included when I was an ID proponent) ID proponents are religiously motivated.

  31. Collin:

    Jurassicmac, I think that if you lack a belief in God then you are an agnostic, not an atheist. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    No, agnostic means “I don’t think the existence of God is knowable.” It is not a midpoint between theism or atheism. One can be both a Christian and and agnostic: “I believe that God exists, but I can’t know for sure,” or an atheist and an agnostic: “I don’t believe that God exists, but I can’t know for sure,” or somewhere in between: “I have no strong leaning one way or the other on God’s existence, but I don’t think it’s knowable.”

    I am not an agnostic. I think that If a God existed it could (not necessarily would) be possible to know for sure. If a God did not exist, it would not be possible to know for sure. (You can’t prove a negative) One can test the veracity of testable claims made about Yaweh.

  32. Barry:

    The issue is not whether belief in God is reasonable or unreasonable. The issue is whether belief in God is a religious belief. By definition, it is. Accordingly, atheism is a religious belief.

    Barry, let’s take your criteria for labeling a position a ‘religious’ belief and see if it holds in any other scenario:

    “The issue is whether belief that my toaster is God is a religious belief. By definition, it is. Accordingly, not believing that my toaster is God is a religious belief.”

    Err…not so much for that one. Let’s restructure it:

    Claim: My TV is an archangel in the form of a TV.
    Response: I do not believe your TV is an archangel in the form of a TV.

    Is the response a religious claim by default? Nope.
    Now, the reason for rejecting the claim is important. If the response were “I do not believe your TV is an archangel because I happen to believe that archangels always appear as forks, not as TVs,” then yes, that would be a religious argument. If, however, the response was “I do not believe your TV is an archangel because you have not provided sufficient evidence that your claim is true,” then that would obviously not be a religious argument.

    Since pantheist believe everything is God, then by your criteria Barry, saying that I don’t believe my iPod is God is a religious statement.

    By your criteria, any statement is a religious statement, and like I said, that strips the term of any meaning whatsoever.

  33. Upright Biped:

    Seqenenre,

    Does it help make your little story about children seem more valid to you by assuming your conclusion from the outset?

    I am guessing that is why you did so, is that correct?

    Ok, let’s modify Seqenenre’s example:

    “If children come up with an imaginary friend and their social environment does not accept the existence of this imaginary friend, are you then suggesting that not believing in the existence of this imaginary friend is on the same level as the introduction of the imaginary friend by the child?

  34. @Collin…. & everybody else I guess

    Just so we’re all in agreement with what the word ‘religious’ means, I went and checked Dictionary.com. The def’s they gave are:

    1. of, pertaining to, or concerned with religion.
    2. imbued with or exhibiting religion; pious; devout; godly.
    3. scrupulously faithful; conscientious.
    4. pertaining to or connected with a monastic or religious order.
    5. appropriate to religion or to sacred rites or observances.

    Any of these work for everybody?

    - Sonfaro

  35. Not collecting stamps is nothing if not a “hobby”

    Except for the fact that those who don’t collect stamps don’t crash the comment sections of those who do in order to proclaim that THEY! DO NOT! COLLECT! STAMPS!!!!!!!

    AND, BTW, EVERYONE WHO DOES IS AN IDIOT!!!!!

    In that respect, atheism bears no resemblance at all to not collecting stamps.

  36. You beat me to the punch, Matteo.

  37. You can’t just lack a belief about God. Trees lack belief. Rocks lack belief. Cats lack belief.
    .
    Humans do not.
    .
    If you have ever heard or thought about God, you believe something about God. Is it really that difficult to understand?

    Naa, the understanding of it business isn’t at all difficult — what these “atheism is simply lack-of-belief” people/parrots-for-Dawkins are having a problem with is the intellectual honesty business end of it.

  38. jurassicmac:

    It is inconsistent to think that your God as you describe him would create things that look like they are the end result of common ancestry & natural selection.

    Michael Behe said this in The Edge of Evolution:

    Malaria was intentionally designed. The molecular machinery with which the parasite invades the red blood cells is an exquisitely purposeful arrangement of parts. …What sort of designer is that?

    Dr. Behe has inferred design from the purposeful arrangement of parts. His reasoning may be flawed, and it is certainly legitimate to point out where he has gone wrong.

    The argument that a benevolent God would not have created the malaria parasite does nothing to help us understand the origin of the parasite. We learn nothing new from the argument.

  39. To the moderators: I understand fully that posting here is a privilege, not a right. I understand that that this blog is the equivalent of private property, subject to the wishes of the authors. My motives for posting here are to be able to freely exchange ideas with others. I am not dogmatic in my views; my mind is always subject to change. I respectfully request to have my comments not have to wait (sometimes days) to go through moderation, as this inhibits conversation. I will do my best to be on topic, respectful and courteous. I understand that if abuse this privilege, then the hosts have every right to kick me out of the party.

    I wish only to be able to join in the conversation in this subject. Like many of you, I find this to be the most interesting subject in world.

    for your consideration, and thanks for your time,

    Jurassicmac.

    Feel free to remove this post, whatever your decision is.

  40. Matteo:

    Not collecting stamps is nothing if not a “hobby”

    Except for the fact that those who don’t collect stamps don’t crash the comment sections of those who do in order to proclaim that THEY! DO NOT! COLLECT! STAMPS!!!!!!!

    AND, BTW, EVERYONE WHO DOES IS AN IDIOT!!!!!

    Who here has ever said anything to that effect? I certainly haven’t. Two of the three smartest people I know are Christians. Almost my entire family are Christians. I was a Christian for almost 30 years. And I wouldn’t say that participating open discussion message boards is ‘crashing’, is it? What are the point of comments on a blog? So that posts that pat the author on the back can be collected with all others discarded, or is the purpose of comments to be able for a group of people interested in the same subject to be able to exchange ideas? The comments section of this blog is heavily curated, so I don’t think a statement like that would make it up even if someone did say things like that.

    I reply on posts where I think I have something to add to the conversation. This post made some particular claims about atheism and atheists, and being a (recent) atheist, I thought I would try to correct what I consider to be a misunderstanding/misrepresentation

    In that respect, atheism bears no resemblance at all to not collecting stamps.

    Well of course the analogy breaks down at some point. If analogies mapped to reality at every conceivable point, they wouldn’t be analogies.

  41. Ilion:

    what these “atheism is simply lack-of-belief” people/parrots-for-Dawkins are having a problem with is the intellectual honesty business end of it.

    I’m confused. You’re obviously talking about me, so are you of accusing me of actually believing in God, but lying about it? I don’t know what I can do besides assure you that that is not the case. I used to believe in God, i.e. I used to think that the proposition “God exists” was true. Now, I don’t think that proposition is true. I could be wrong about the existence of God. That would be a pleasant surprise, He was a nice guy as I understood him. But as I have tried to explain, (or will have tried to explain, once my comments go through moderation,) is that it is not ‘religious’ in and of itself to reject a religious claim. It is not ‘religious’ to not believe a proposition due to lack of evidence.

    I do have a positive belief about belief in God; I think it’s incorrect. I don’t think it’s stupid, I don’t think it’s ignorant, and I don’t even think it’s irrational. It’s just that I’m not convinced, due to lack of evidence. I don’t ‘hate’ God, I didn’t have a tragedy in my life that made me turn away (my life is pretty great, if I must say) I simply am not convinced by the evidence at this point.

    I don’t know what more to say on the topic.

  42. So the essence of Intelligent Design theory is something like:

    a)vjtorley – More Catholic than the Pope? > “Intelligent Design theory claims that life, and indeed the cosmos, can only be explained as the work of an intelligent agent”, “Is an unnamed Designer closer to God than inanimate matter? Of course.”

    b)William Dembski – The Conway Morris Disclaimer > “Speaking for myself, I’ve been saying this till the cows come home that (1) design can be implemented through an evolutionary process (albeit a non-Darwinian one) and (2) design does not require supernatural intervention.”

    c)David Klinghoffer – The Universe Is Haunted: Reflections on the “Nature of Nature” [Evolution News and Views] > “You could put it this way: The universe is haunted.

    Haunted not by ghosts but by a source of ancient, unseen, immaterial agency. Whether agents or one Agent, you simply can’t tell from the scientific evidence”, “Whatever its nature, such an intelligent force must have set in motion the 13.75-billion-year history of the cosmos and guided the unfolding of life from its origin 3.7 billion years ago.”

    d)Barry Arrington – We Will if You Will > “ID theory posits that some observations are best explained as the result of the acts of an intelligent agent. The theory does not posit any particular agent and the agent need not be a deity. It could, for example, be the aliens Dawkins speculated about in his interview with Ben Stein.”, “You ask if we can declare ID to be religious because some people take ID and run with its implications in theological directions. Well, a lot of people take NDE and run with its implications in theological directions. (Atheism is nothing if not a “religous” position)

    Tell you what, I am happy to call ID religious if you will also call NDE religous to the same extent.”

    Have I missed anything?

  43. 43

    Have I missed anything?

    Yes. You missed:

    “['Seeing a broader purpose to the evolutionary process'] makes you someone willing to accept some bad arguments in an attempt to prop up antiquated religious beliefs that should have been abandoned long ago, but that is a different sin. Creationists are well-deserved targets of derision and contempt.”

    and

    “[Dr Eugenie Scott] said in an interview that graduate admissions committees were entitled to consider the difficulties that would arise from admitting a doctoral candidate with views “so at variance with what we consider standard science” … “That is not religious discrimination, she added, it is discrimination “on the basis of science.”

    and

    “”Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There’s no way I can personally get them – my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I’m sure – but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart.” – Prof Paul Meyers, University of Minnesota as quoted in a forum advertised as “The World’s Largest On-Line Community dedicated to Science”.

  44. Matteo,

    You pretty much summed up everything that I think is wrong with the first generation of cybermormons that have started to take any chance they can to spam on about non-belief.

    I’d explain the origins of that conjunction, but it would require linking to a video that might not fit the tastes of UD.

    To the mods on UD: Is it okay if I link to a video featuring a consistently swearing agnostic ranting against atheists (aka “…the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Youtube”)?

    @ NielBJ-“His reasoning may be flawed, and it is certainly legitimate to point out where he has gone wrong.”

    Then by all means, please do so.

    I do have a question though about what exactly distinguishes an IDer from a non-IDer. Here’s the definition that I typically refer to:

    http://www.discovery.org/v/2

    Now let’s say I do feel that taking a design-theoretic approach leads to a far greater understanding of physical features than non-telic alternatives, but don’t actually hold that a designer actually exists. Under this view I would hold that agency is sort of like the typical textbook atom diagram which while not correct, does allow people to understand what someone is actually working with.

    Am I no longer in the ID camp if I take this sort of view?

  45. H’mm:

    I find it a bit amusing to see the now old “atheism is absence of belief in god or gods” — notice the lower case, as is usual — dodge.

    And, dodge it is.

    Belief/non-belief in God — notice the uppercase — is a worldview level core belief about fundamental reality, as God in this context is a term that refers to the Creator and ground of the cosmos.

    A worldview, per that ever handy secularist-leaning crowd-source, Wiki testifying against interest, being:

    A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.[1] The term is a calque of German Weltanschauung [?v?lt.?an??a?.??] ( listen), composed of Welt, ‘world’, and Anschauung, ‘view’ or ‘outlook’. It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it . . .

    Point being, “non-belief in god . . .” NEVER comes in isolation, from other worldview level commitments, visions, ideas, agendas and consequences; contrary to pretences that are often made.

    For instance, we may see Richard Lewontin confessing in his infamous 1997 NYRB review article that shows how a priori atheistical evolutionary materialism as philosophy now systematically distorts origins science, which is then — in a grand question-begging circle — used to prop up the system and dress it in the holy lab coat:

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

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

    [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.]

    In short, we are really dealing with a priori evolutionary materialism, often imposed by the back-door of so-called methodological naturalism; which last question-beggingly redefines science as making NATURALISTIC [= evolutionary materialistic] explanations of observed phenomena.

    The gostak distims the doshes and the doshes are distimmed by the gostak.

    A wiser approach to science, science education and general discussion and public policy analysis, would take diversity of worldview commitments seriously, and would address issues in light of comparative difficulties analysis across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory elegance [as opposed to ad hocness and/or being simplistic].

    Once that is done, we are back to Plato and co “on the way back” as usual, here from The Laws, Bk X. For, it turns out that an evolutionary materialistic view inescapably has in it no IS sufficiently strong to support the weight of OUGHT. That is, it is inescapably amoral and radically relativistic, in Plato’s words, ending in the conclusion that the honourable is one thing by nature and another by the laws of man, where on such a view, “the highest right is might.”

    Plato’s onward point is that from this arises factions and tyranny, as the amoral and radically relativistic — as a class — gain and hold power.

    BUT, WE DO KNOW THAT THERE ARE REAL WRONGS, AND REAL RIGHTS. (Is it ever right to torture young babies, or to slit their throats while they sleep, even in a place called Ithamar?)

    So, in the end the only morally credible and tenable worldviews are those that can adequately ground such moral truth. The best candidate for that is: the good Creator God.

    And, to — in the face of the evidence of a fine-tuned, C-chemistry life-supporting cosmos that had a beginning, the implications of the reality of morality, the implications of the credibility of mind, etc — try to say that one finds “no evidence” — the usual phrasing, one reflective of ideologically laced, deeply polarised closed-minded selective hyperskeptical dismissals of inconvenient evidence — that there is such a God, is ludicrous.

    No, the truth is a little different: one REJECTS the evidence and constructs a more “comfortable” view of reality.

    Whether that can stand up to the credibility of mind, the reality of morals, the origin of a fine-tuned cosmos, etc, are a different matter entirely.

    So, please, let us lay such sophomoric rhetorical gambits as the question-begging strawmannish redefinition of atheism as “absence of belief in god . . .” to one side.

    GEM of TKI

  46. F/N: Plato’s analysis, from The Laws, Bk X (made after first carefully and subtly distancing himself from the pagan myths of his day):

    _______________

    >> Ath[enian Stranger]. [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . . [[I]f impious discourses were not scattered, as I may say, throughout the world, there would have been no need for any vindication of the existence of the Gods-but seeing that they are spread far and wide, such arguments are needed; and who should come to the rescue of the greatest laws, when they are being undermined by bad men, but the legislator himself? . . .[[Jowett translation. >>
    ________________

    Why, that Bible-thumping fundy!

    NOT: 360 BC, Athens.

    It would be interesting to see the response to his onward argument and inference on the cosmos to its designer, as is discussed here.

    Then, we can turn to the modern, scientific discussion, e.g. here for starts.

    GEM of TKI

  47. F/N 2: A better general-level definition of science (informed by Newton’s Opticks, Query 31):

    science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive pursuit of the truth about our world (i.e. an accurate and reliable description and explanation of it), based on:

    a: collecting, recording, indexing, collating and reporting accurate, reliable (and where feasible, repeatable) empirical — real-world, on the ground — observations and measurements,

    b: inference to best current — thus, always provisional — abductive explanation of the observed facts,

    c: thus producing hypotheses, laws, theories and models, using logical-mathematical analysis, intuition and creative, rational imagination [[including Einstein's favourite gedankenexperiment, i.e thought experiments],

    d: continual empirical testing through further experiments, observations and measurement; and,

    e: uncensored but mutually respectful discussion on the merits of fact, alternative assumptions and logic among the informed. (And, especially in wide-ranging areas that cut across traditional dividing lines between fields of study, or on controversial subjects, “the informed” is not to be confused with the eminent members of the guild of scholars and their publicists or popularisers who dominate a particular field at any given time.)

    As a result, science enables us to ever more effectively (albeit provisionally) describe, explain, understand, predict and influence or control objects, phenomena and processes in our world.

    F/N 3: Wm Lane Craig on the absence of belief dodge: here.

    (This debate vid excerpt shows how the redefinition rhetorically conflates atheism with something significantly distinct: agnosticism, the position that one does not know that God exists, and doubts the existence of God. Of course, some go on to the further idea that is one doubts, one may dismiss. But in fact, very few real-world knowledge claims indeed are beyond dispute or possibility of doubt or correction; high confidence and tested reliability to moral certainty — it would be irresponsible to act as though the matter was not true — are not proof beyond possibility of correction. There are literally millions across the ages and today who claim to know God personally, in miraculous life transforming ways, on grounds at least as credible as those on which we accept that others around us have real minds, and act towards us out of love, e.g. our mothers.)

  48. F/N 4: Craig further explains:

    _________________

    >> Certain atheists in the mid-twentieth century were promoting the so-called “presumption of atheism.” At face value, this would appear to be the claim that in the absence of evidence for the existence of God, we should presume that God does not exist. Atheism is a sort of default position, and the theist bears a special burden of proof with regard to his belief that God exists.

    So understood, such an alleged presumption is clearly mistaken. For the assertion that “There is no God” is just as much a claim to knowledge as is the assertion that “There is a God.” Therefore, the former assertion requires justification just as the latter does. It is the agnostic who makes no knowledge claim at all with respect to God’s existence. He confesses that he doesn’t know whether there is a God or whether there is no God.

    But when you look more closely at how protagonists of the presumption of atheism used the term “atheist,” you discover that they were defining the word in a non-standard way, synonymous with “non-theist.” So understood the term would encompass agnostics and traditional atheists, along with those who think the question meaningless (verificationists). As Antony Flew confesses,

    the word ‘atheist’ has in the present context to be construed in an unusual way. [In short, ther eis a definitional switcheroo game afoot] Nowadays it is normally taken to mean someone who explicitly denies the existence . . . of God . . . But here it has to be understood not positively but negatively, with the originally Greek prefix ‘a-’ being read in this same way in ‘atheist’ as it customarily is in . . . words as ‘amoral’ . . . . In this interpretation an atheist becomes not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God, but someone who is simply not a theist. (A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, ed. Philip Quinn and Charles Taliaferro [Oxford: Blackwell, 1997], s.v. “The Presumption of Atheism,” by Antony Flew) [This is of course before Flew became Deist under the impact of the evidence for design in the cosmos.]

    Such a re-definition of the word “atheist” trivializes the claim of the presumption of atheism, for on this definition, atheism ceases to be a view. It is merely a psychological state which is shared by people who hold various views or no view at all. On this re-definition, even babies, who hold no opinion at all on the matter, count as atheists! In fact, our cat Muff counts as an atheist on this definition, since she has (to my knowledge) no belief in God.

    One would still require justification in order to know either that God exists or that He does not exist, which is the question we’re really interested in. >>
    __________________

    Craig’s answer?

    In effect, the redefinition is a rhetorical trojan horse that works to create the impression that one can in fact assume the claim that there is no God, by default, i.e. without having to provide positive warrant for it.

    NOPE.

    EVERY worldview stands before the bar of comparative difficulties, in the face of first principles of right reason, warranted credible truths and the challenges of factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    And, evolutionary materialism does not do particularly well before such a bar . . .

  49. Upright Biped,

    I dont understand how your comment relates to mine

  50. Well we can start out with:

    paragwinn,

    If I may:

    What is Intelligent Design?

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

    Design theory—also called design or the design argument—is the view that nature shows tangible signs of having been designed by a preexisting intelligence. It has been around, in one form or another, since the time of ancient Greece.

    ID is based on three premises and the inference that follows (DeWolf et al., “Darwinism, Design and Public Education”, pg. 92):

    1) High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

    2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

    3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

    IOW ID claims that Complex Specied Information, not Shannon’s “mere complexity”, is an indicator of agency involvement.

    IOW just as archaeologists claim that artifacts require an artist and just as forensic scientists claim a murder requires a murderer, ID claims that CSI requires a designer.

    Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. In virtue of their function, these systems embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the same sense required by the complexity-specification criterion (see sections 1.3 and 2.5). The specification of organisms can be crashed out in any number of ways. Arno Wouters cashes it out globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms. Michael Behe cashes it out in terms of minimal function of biochemical systems.- Wm. Dembski page 148 of NFL

    In the preceding and proceeding paragraphs William Dembski makes it clear that biological specification is CSI- complex specified information.

    In the paper “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories”, Stephen C. Meyer wrote:

    Dembski (2002) has used the term “complex specified information” (CSI) as a synonym for “specified complexity” to help distinguish functional biological information from mere Shannon information–that is, specified complexity from mere complexity. This review will use this term as well.

    So science asks the question:

    “How did it come to be this way?” and ID claims that agency involvement was required.

  51. KF:I find it a bit amusing to see the now old “atheism is absence of belief in god or gods” – notice the lower case, as is usual – dodge.
    .
    And, dodge it is.”

    Indeed, it is a[n intellectually dishonest] dodge. It is the attempt to disguise the assertion, “God is not,” as a non-assertion which therefore needs no defense.

    KF:Belief/non-belief in God – notice the uppercase – is a worldview level core belief about fundamental reality, as God in this context is a term that refers to the Creator and ground of the cosmos.

    The affirmation or the denial of the reality of God is, as I like to put it, The First Question — for, all other questions one may ask about the nature of reality, and all other beliefs one may hold about the nature of reality, follow from the answer one adduces to the question, “Is God?

  52. Joseph (and others):

    Over at MF’s blog, they have triumphalistically taken up the claim that CSI is an ill-defined, meaningless concept as MG kept on insisting on in a now closed thread here at UD.

    Your summary at 43 above is an apt reply.

    In my own IOSE course survey page, I have also now taken time to add the Orgel cite from 1973 that introduced the concept “specified complexity,” and have drawn out the infinite monkeys result discussed in an earlier UD thread on ID founds 4, the CSI concept. The infinite monkeys result shows how, beyond a certain point, given the exponential growth of configuration spaces as number of contingent items goes up, the likelihood of origin by random walk and blind trial and error selection on an arbitrary initial point, falls to a practical zero.

    By the same principles — the cite from Wiki quoting Kittel is absolutely precious! — that ground the second law of thermodynamics, in its statistical form. (Cf my own discussion here in my always linked, which was itself recently updated to bring out how order easily reduces to chaos as raw energy is pushed into a system, and how such disorder is not easily or naturally reversed.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Pardon if this is a bit directish, but somehow, I wonder if MG has seriously addressed such statistical thermodynamics, in her repeated demands for mathematical grounding for the concept of CSI, and dismissals of the actual calculations and analysis that have been repeatedly offered. Similarly, after repeated requests, she has not yet come back on the question of whether Orgel and Wicken were making meaningless noises when they raised the issues and concepts of CSI and FSCI, in the 1970′s.

  53. kairosfocus, this is very interesting and helps me (as a lay reader). But I had thought arguments about evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics had long been discredited. I’m reading the link, which may help clarify.

  54. F/N: My comment at the MF blog is here.

  55. It seems to me that atheists are increasingly backpedaling into agnosticism these days, and are continually in need of being told what they (claim to) believe. Atheism is defined by taking a position, a stand, that says God does not exist. But since this position just isn’t defensible, they must always become reluctant agnostics and say, well, I guess it’s possible . . .

    This is embarrassing, of course, so the recent trend is to pedantry: “a” = lack of, and “theism” = God, so atheists aren’t making any claims, they just don’t believe. Too silly!

  56. Brent, ‘coincidentally’ I just saw Dr. Craig have to correct an ‘atheist’ that he, from his lack of providing arguments for his ‘belief’, was really an agnostic.

    It is at the 2:00 minute point in this video;

    William Lane Craig vs Lewis Wolpert 10/12
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBXYL9XdGV0

  57. Bornagain, after seeing another video where WLC has to keep from pulling his hair out over the unbelievable inconsistency, I noticed that almost all atheists do the same thing. Before that I think I remember noticing only one, possibly two, instances of this in various discussions. I guess I just never caught it before, but it’s amazing. There isn’t one whit of logic that supports atheism.

  58. BA, nice vid… really feel sorry for that Wolpert guy though. He sorta got spanked in that clip. Love how patient Craig was.

    - Sonfaro

  59. jurrasicmac,

    You are simply misdefining atheism. Theism is the belief in a God, atheism is the lack of belief in a God, it’s as simple as that.

    No, atheism is the positive belief that there is no God.

  60. QI:

    Please do not confuse dismissive rhetoric with what is well-warranted analysis.

    The usual “open systems can increase their order” rebuttal is a strawman tactic.

    We are discussing information-rich organisation of an energy conversion device, not mere order. In fact for injected energy to do more than increase disorder — cf my analysis on Clausius’ energy exchange of “open” subsystems in a wider isolated system — there needs to be a coupling mechanism that converts energy to work according to a pattern.

    The key question, therefore, is the energy conversion device, and such a device that exhibits FSCO/I is only coming from one known, observed source: intelligence. Sure, something like a hurricane is self-organised due to planetary scale convection forces and Coriolis forces, but it does not exhibit Wicken’s functional complex organisation on a wiring diagram, nor does it create FSCI-rich organisation of the targets of the physical work it does. Notoriously, it breaks up and destroys organisation!

    Similarly, and as Orgel and Wicken point out, and as Thaxton et al build on, the thing to be explained for living cell based things is the origin of functional, complex, specific, information- rich organisation, not mere increase in order like in crystallisation, or in complexity like in a random tar.

    Orgel and Wicken put those issues on the table between 1973 and 1979! Polanyi raised some of the same concerns and issues in the 1960′s!!!

    As I specifically discuss with an example here, raw energy injected into a system that does not have a coupling mechanism to create shaft work towards organisation, will strongly tend to INCREASE the disorder, by natural processes linked to the statistical view of teh second law of thermodynamics.

    The discussion and videotape here, will be helpful at a simpler level.

    Pardon, but I am sick of strawman tactics and dismissive misleading rhetoric by evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers.

    It is high time that a serious, sober and sound discussion was entertained instead.

    At the relevant levels, no wedge can be driven between information origins concerns and thermodynamics issues. And,the point was adequately made as long ago as 1984 in TMLO, chs 7 – 9. That’s right, the very first design theory technical level work.

    So why is it, 25 years and more later, we are still seeing strawman tactics?

    Methinks we are owed a serious explanation by those who are still playing at strawman tactics over a 1/4 century later.

    GEM of TKI

  61. BA and Brent:

    Observe carefully in that vid, the dismissive argument, that there is “no evidence” pointing to the existence of God.

    This is of course, Sagan’s “extraordinary claims require extraordinary [ADEQUATE] evidence” fallacy, based on Clifford’s hopelessly self-referentially incoherent evidentialism.

    What it boils down to is a declaration of brazen selective hyperskepticism. begging he question on steroids, as Craig in part pointed out.

    The fallacy lieth here: “whatever evidence you can bring forth that points to God, I will reject because it cannot meet arbitrarily high standards of warrant.” (Standards that significant claims in history, psychology, science, and in some cases even mathematics — post Godel — cannot meet. Double standards, in short.)

    So, the proper epistemological rebuttal is to first diagnose, point out and correct the self-serving closed mindedness locked up in such selective hyperskepticism, then — take a slow read there, please — bring such a person to the table of comparative difficulties analysis on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power in light of first principles of right reason and basic warranted credible truths such as the Roycean self-evident truth that “error exists.”

    (This last is actually a surprisingly powerful truth. to try to deny it ends up giving an instance of its truth, so it is undeniably true on pain of reductio ad absurdum. From this as a corollary, truth exists, though we may make mistakes about it, and knowable truth exists. Knowable to in this case an utterly stringent standard of warrant that to reject it is to immediately fall into absurdity. Entire popular worldviews and their popular talking points fall before just this one WCT: e.g. knowable truth exists so it is nonsense to imagine there is no more to truth than what seems true to you or me.)

    Once that is dealt with, then the actual state of evidence can be addressed, starting with say the implications of the radical contingency of our observed cosmos [i.e it credibly had a beginning at a finite point in the past, often said to be 13.7 BYA] and its status of being exquisitely fine-tuned in many complex, interacting ways for C-chemistry, cell based, intelligent life. Such demands a necessary being — thus, one beyond the world of inherently contingent matter and energy — of great power, knowledge and skill as the source of our cosmos, and such a being is at once the best candidate to explain the functionally specific complex organisation and information we find in life.

    An interesting cluster of evidential factors if you ask me, and pointing in an interesting direction, if you ask me.

    No wonder that Lewontinian evolutionary materialists are busily trying to question-beggingly redefine science to be only naturalistic explanations of observed phenomena. As in:

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

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

    [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.]

    The game’s afoot!

    And, like rabbits are said to, it is running in circles . . .

    GEM of TKI

  62. This video is SO COOL! Not only do Atheists have beliefs, but their beliefs are exactly opposite of the truth!

    From Atheism to Theism In Reverse
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=9C2E1MNU

  63. kairosfocus, are you upset at me? I was asking a serious question and was surprised by the intensity of your response.

    A little context. Back when I as a YEC, I learned from other YEC’s not to use the second law argument because it was not worth defending. Now, as an ID advocate, I try to use only sound arguments, and I’m wary of using arguments that I’ll have to give up later. That’s why I asked.

    I’m reading your suggested link and the articles you link to, and the arguments seem somewhat different from the YEC one I used to hear. Thanks. (By the way, one of the links goes to a 404 Not Found page — you might want to fix that.)

  64. OT: The most inspirational painting I’ve ever seen;

    Painting the Resurrection – Education Videos
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KLLLZWNX

  65. QI:

    Pardon me, I am not upset or angry with you.

    I am — pardon directness or “uncool” intensity, I am here speaking as a physicist looking at people playing games with the integrity of my native science (happening in several fields, like people have never heard about “blowback” . . . ) — quite fed up with willful distortions by people who should or do know better, who play at games with “open systems,” and strawmannise those who they object to.

    I am quite aware of what YEC’s have said, indeed I had a fair correspondence with the late Dr Henry Morris some 15 years ago.

    He impressed me for his gentlemanly behaviour and attitude.

    I also have the Gish book on rebuttals, which goes into a fairly lengthy response on the subject.

    You will see that the immediate antecedents of my remarks are:

    1 –> Clausius, on talking a closer look at just what is happening with his key examples. (In turn this builds on a remark in my thermo-D textbook on open and isolated systems, on whether or not the universe is an isolated system.)

    2 –> The discussion in TMLO, which pointed me right.

    3 –> Aspects of Robertson [rooted in Jaynes et al], which put the question of links from thermodynamics to information theory firmly on the table.

    Of course, I am also looking at the basics of comms theory as I learned, used and taught it many years ago too. (You will see some excerpts from Connor’s series of short books, from BEFORE the debates over ID.)

    I do understand why YECs would shy away from the hornet’s nest, and this is a topic that gets technical real fast, e.g. with partial differential equations marching away across the chalkboard or page. (Look what happened when I took it up as a part of the foundations of ID blog posts series, here.)

    But in fact, they had a point back in the 70′s – 90′s and still do.

    Just, since the pivotal issue as pointed out by Thaxton et al from a design view is the type and source of the energy converter in question, and this just happens to be pivoted on functionally specific complex information, it makes sense to go to the easier to handle information based view. Except, that the thermodynamics issues have not gone away, and in fact lie underneath the issue of isolated islands of function in large configuration spaces — which is a cut down version of phase or state space.

    And, it turns out that a lot of the evo mat argument, especially on OOL, boils down to thinking the bare possible is empirically credible, in the teeth of the config space challenge identified. The infinite monkeys analysis shows us why there is no informational free lunch.

    Thanks

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Thanks for the update on a broken link. Dr Sewell must have moved a page. I’ll have to go hunt it down. Hope I don’t have to go all the way to the Internet Archive!

  66. QuiteID:But I had thought arguments about evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics had long been discredited.

    Without myself taking a position on that question, I’d like to point out that when Darwinists “discredit” a challenge to Darwinism, what they mean is something like: “We’ve ignored that for a time, then denied that it has any present relevance (on the grounds that it is “old news”), then mocked (and, when possible, used the power of the state against) the persons advocating the view. So, why are you asking about this now?

  67. KF:We are discussing information-rich organisation of an energy conversion device, not mere order. In fact for injected energy to do more than increase disorder — cf my analysis on Clausius’ energy exchange of “open” subsystems in a wider isolated system — there needs to be a coupling mechanism that converts energy to work according to a pattern.

    Also, part of the mutual misunderstanding may be that people, on both side, are using the term ‘order’ equivocally (whether intentionally or not).

    When one speaks of a crystal as being ‘ordered’ one is speaking of something very different — opposite, in fact — to the ‘order’ of life processes, or the order of a clean room before ‘entropy’ (probably also being used equivocally) ‘disorders’ it. The ultimate ‘order,’ in the sense of the ‘order’ of a crystal or of compressed data, is death.

  68. KF at 65:

    “PS: Thanks for the update on a broken link. Dr Sewell must have moved a page. I’ll have to go hunt it down. Hope I don’t have to go all the way to the Internet Archive!”

    If the article you were trying to link was the one from Applied Mathematics Letters, you won’t find it. The journal retracted it.

  69. Muramasa, you mean this article:

    A second look at the second law
    http://www.math.utep.edu/Facul.....L_3497.pdf

    ,,If true, why did they retract? was there a proven violation of the second law and somebody forgot to inform every newspaper in the entire world that the most rigorous law in all of physics was violated?

  70. * The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
    o Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1915), chapter 4

    * A theory is the more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises, the more different kinds of things it relates, and the more extended its area of applicability. Therefore the deep impression that classical thermodynamics made upon me. It is the only physical theory of universal content which I am convinced will never be overthrown, within the framework of applicability of its basic concepts.
    o Albert Einstein (author), Paul Arthur, Schilpp (editor). Autobiographical Notes. A Centennial Edition. Open Court Publishing Company. 1979. p. 31 [As quoted by Don Howard, John Stachel. Einstein: The Formative Years, 1879-1909 (Einstein Studies, vol. 8). Birkhäuser Boston. 2000. p. 1]

    * Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and the second law of thermodynamics. All three are processes in which useful or accessible forms of some quantity, such as energy or money, are transformed into useless, inaccessible forms of the same quantity. That is not to say that these three processes don’t have fringe benefits: taxes pay for roads and schools; the second law of thermodynamics drives cars, computers and metabolism; and death, at the very least, opens up tenured faculty positions.
    o Seth Lloyd, writing in Nature 430, 971 (26 August 2004)
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thermodynamics

  71. “there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems.”
    John Ross, Chemical and Engineering News, 7 July 1980

    “…the quantity of entropy generated locally cannot be negative irrespective of whether the system is isolated or not.”
    Arnold Sommerfel, Thermodynamics And Statistical Mechanics, p.155

    Bertalanffy (1968) called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology.”
    Charles J. Smith – Biosystems, Vol.1, p259.

  72. Clive Hayden:

    No, atheism is the positive belief that there is no God.

    Oxford Dictionary: atheist: a person who does not believe in the existence of God or gods.

    Dictionary.com: atheist: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    Wikipedia: Atheism is commonly defined as the position that there are no deities. It can also mean the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. A broader definition is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.

    We could post definitions all day. I’m actually amused to have people tell me what I believe so often. I lack the belief that God exists. I am not certain that He doesn’t. My position is atheistic, not agnostic. I do not believe that God exists, currently. If I were met with convincing evidence that He existed, I would reverse my position instantly.

  73. 73

    “Atheism” from the Greek: “a” (without) and “theos” (God).

    jurassicmac in [72] continues to twist himself into linguistic knots trying to argue that a word that contains the root word “God” is not a word about God (i.e, a religious word).

    There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. And I might add that the most pathetic lie is the lie told to oneself. For example, jurassicmac says he would believe in God if here were presented with convincing evidence. Sad. We have all witnessed him reject evidence after evidence after evidence. No evidence is convincing if one has decided in advance to rule all evidence out.

  74. I thought that Applied Mathematics Letters had posted a brief note on the retraction, but I can’t find it.

    Is suppose that there are several reasons that the paper was pulled.

    Maybe it had been posted as part of a rapid publication process and on further review was found lacking.

    Maybe the paper was found to be little more than rehashing of prior works, and lacking originality, it was retracted.

    Or maybe the Darwinist cabal threatened the editors with excommunication if they didn’t pull the paper.

    Perhaps someone who knows Dr. Sewell personally could contact him and get some more information.

  75. Barry @73,

    Two things. One, of course, we can say also to the atheist, alright, I’ll accept the meaning of atheism as you assert it and say that it only means without God. Fine. But, atheists are those who affirm that atheism is true and accurately describes the universe to be without God, so atheists are, in fact, asserting that God does not exist.

    Two, one must ask the atheist who claims that he/she would be open to evidence while refusing any and all evidence, what kind of evidence they would accept. It can be pointed out, at least from Christianity’s point of view, that Jesus was asked to do the very things that would supposedly convince skeptics, and He said plainly that He would only do so much—which was a lot, to be sure—and no more, to convince people of who he was and is.

    “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” -Matthew 16:4

    Jesus didn’t say He wouldn’t give a sign, but that He wouldn’t give more than the resurrection. If one won’t accept that, they won’t accept anything.

    But the resurrection confirmation is also tied to Moses and the prophets.

    “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” -Luke 16:31

  76. Hmmm . . . Regarding my previous @75, was Jesus teaching us that belief in a Creator God was a properly basic belief, and that if one can’t, or won’t, see that, that they won’t accept even Jesus rising from the dead??? Was the former quote from Matthew only referring to the deity of Jesus, and the second referring to, first, a basic belief in the reality of God, without which the resurrection couldn’t be accepted???

    I’d never thought of it that way, and it seems hard to imagine Jews of that time not believing in God. Any thoughts anyone?

  77. Muramasa:

    Actually, I am speaking of the longstanding Appendix D to his — peer reviewed — Wiley textbook on Differential Equations, in which he applied the knowledge to the particular case of those involved in the second law of thermodynamics, much in the context I discussed in my appendix.

    Ah, yes, Copernic search to the rescue, here it is now: “Can anything happen in an open system?”

    Enjoy.

    Money quote:

    _________________

    >> It is a well-known prediction of
    the second law that, in a closed system, every type of order is unstable and must eventually decrease, as everything tends toward more probable (more random)
    states: Not only will carbon and temperature distributions become more random (more uniform), but the performance of all electronic devices will deteriorate, not improve. Natural forces, such as corrosion, erosion, fire, and explosions, do not create order, they destroy it. The second law is all about probability; it uses
    probability at the microscopic level to predict macroscopic change: The reason carbon distributes itself more and more uniformly in an insulated solid is, that is what the laws of probability predict, when diffusion alone is operative.

    The reason natural forces may turn a spaceship, or a TV set, or a computer into a pile of rubble but not vice versa is also probability. Of all the possible arrangements
    atoms could take, only a very small percentage could fly to the moon and back, or receive pictures and sound from the other side of the Earth, or add, subtract, multiply, and divide real numbers with high accuracy.

    The discovery that life on Earth developed through evolutionary “steps”, coupled with the observation that mutations and natural selection—like other natural
    forces—can cause (minor) change, is widely accepted in the scientific world as proof that natural selection—alone among all natural forces—can create order out
    of disorder, and even design human brains with human consciousness.

    Only the layman seems to see the problem with this logic. [NB: allusion tot he fable of the Emperor and his new clothes]

    In a recent Mathematical Intelligencer article [Sewell 2000], after outlining the specific reasons why it is not reasonable to attribute the major steps in the development of life to natural selection, I asserted that the idea that the four fundamental forces of physics alone could re-arrange the fundamental particles of Nature into spaceships, nuclear power plants, and computers, connected to laser printers, CRTs, keyboards, and the Internet, appears to violate the second law of thermodynamics in a spectacular way. Anyone who has made such an argument is familiar with the standard reply: The Earth
    is an open system, and order can increase in an open system, as long as it is “compensated” somehow by a comparable or greater decrease outside the system.

    S. Angrist and L. Hepler, for example, in Order and Chaos [Angrist and Hepler 1967], write: “In a certain sense the development of civilization may appear contradictory to the second law… Even though society can effect local reductions in entropy, the general and universal trend of entropy increase easily swamps the
    anomalous but important efforts of civilized man. Each localized, man-made or machine-made entropy decrease is accompanied by a greater increase in entropy
    of the surroundings, thereby maintaining the required increase in total entropy.”

    According to this reasoning, then, the second law does not prevent scrap metal from reorganizing itself into a computer in one room, as long as two computers in
    the next room are rusting into scrap metal—and the door is open. A closer look at equation D.5, which holds not only for thermal entropy but for the “entropy” associated with any other substance that diffuses, shows that this argument, which goes unchallenged in the scientific literature, is based on a misunderstanding of the second law. Equation D.5 does not simply say that entropy cannot decrease
    in a closed system, it also says that in an open system, entropy cannot decrease faster than it is exported through the boundary, because the boundary integral
    there represents the rate that entropy is exported across the boundary: Notice that the integrand is the outward heat flux divided by absolute temperature. (That this
    boundary integral represents the rate that entropy is exported seems to have been noticed by relatively few people [e.g., Dixon 1975, p. 202], probably because the isotropic case is usually assumed and so the numerator is written as ?K[dU/dn, d's being curly] , and
    in this form the conclusion is not as obvious.) Stated another way, the order in an open system cannot increase faster than it is imported through the boundary. According
    to D.4, the thermal order in a system can decrease in two different ways—it can be converted to disorder (first integral term) or it can be exported through
    the boundary (boundary integral term). It can increase in only one way: by importation through the boundary. Similarly, the increase in “carbon order” in an open
    system cannot be greater than the carbon order imported through the boundary, and the increase in “chromium order” cannot be greater than the chromium order imported through the boundary, and so on.

    The above analysis was published in my reply “Can ANYTHING Happen in
    an Open System?” [Sewell 2001] to critics of my original Mathematical Intelli-gencer article. In these simple examples, I assumed nothing but heat conduction or diffusion was going on; but for more general situations, I offered the tautology
    that “if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable.” The fact that order is disappearing in the next room does not make it any easier for computers to appear in our room—unless this order is disappearing into our room, and then only if it is a type of order that makes the appearance of computers not extremely improbable, for example, computers. Importing thermal order will make the temperature distribution less random, and importing carbon order will make the carbon distribution
    less random, but neither makes the formation of computers more probable. What happens in a closed system depends on the initial conditions; what happens in an
    open system depends on the boundary conditions as well.

    As I wrote in Sewell [2001], “order can increase in an open system, not because the laws of probability are suspended when the door is open, but simply because order may walk in through the door…If we found evidence that DNA, auto parts, computer chips, and books entered through the Earth’s atmosphere at
    some time in the past, then perhaps the appearance of humans, cars, computers, and encyclopedias on a previously barren planet could be explained without postulating
    a violation of the second law here (it would have been violated somewhere else!). But if all we see entering is radiation and meteorite fragments, it seems clear that what is entering through the boundary cannot explain the increase in
    order observed here.” >>
    __________________

    My own analysis is that Sewell is correct. Mere injection of raw matter and/or energy does not explain counter-flow, constructive work based transformation in accordance with a Wicken “wiring diagram” specifying function. (Cf my remarks here at UD and my more extended discussion here in my always linked briefing note — cf my handle.)

    As for the recently rejected paper, that was plainly a political move, so I would not wave that around like a flag were I in your shoes.

    It says a lot more about what is wrong with contemporary academia than about the actual state on the merits.

    FYI, there were also a couple of earlier articles in Mathematical Intelligencer.

    GEM of TKI

  78. Brent:

    Jesus is spotlighting selective hyperskepticism and resulting closed mindedness.

    He was even more explicit in Jn 8:

    Jn 8:43Why do you misunderstand what I say? It is because you are unable to hear what I am saying. [You cannot bear to listen to My message; your ears are shut to My teaching.] . . . .

    45But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me [do not trust Me, do not rely on Me, or adhere to Me] . . . .

    47Whoever is of God listens to God. [Those who belong to God hear the words of God.] This is the reason that you do not listen [to those words, to Me]: because you do not belong to God and are not of God or in harmony with Him. [AMP]

    If one is not open to the message of the prophets, then one will not be open to a key sign of their prophecies being fulfilled, and will instead be willing to go along with a manufactured dismissal. Such as: while the guards slept — with one eye open? — the body was stolen by the ‘fraidy puss disciples!

    The OT simply starts from the presumption that the reports of credible patriarchs and prophets are true, that they walked with God and saw his hand in power. It was the history of the nation, even as the visions and resulting amazing feats of Joan of Arc — and her subsequent betrayal and shameful imprisonment, kangaroo court trial and execution by the English as a “witch” — are foundational to French history.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, as just linked, is devastating:

    It was at the age of thirteen and a half, in the summer of 1425, that Joan first became conscious of that manifestation, whose supernatural character it would now be rash to question, which she afterwards came to call her “voices” or her “counsel.” . . . .

    Joan was always reluctant to speak of her voices. She said nothing about them to her confessor, and constantly refused, at her trial, to be inveigled into descriptions of the appearance of the saints and to explain how she recognized them. None the less, she told her judges: “I saw them with these very eyes, as well as I see you.”

    Great efforts have been made by rationalistic historians, such as M. Anatole France, to explain these voices as the result of a condition of religious and hysterical exaltation which had been fostered in Joan by priestly influence, combined with certain prophecies current in the countryside of a maiden from the bois chesnu (oak wood), near which the Fairy Tree was situated, who was to save France by a miracle. But the baselessness of this analysis of the phenomena has been fully exposed by many non-Catholic writers. There is not a shadow of evidence to support this theory of priestly advisers coaching Joan in a part, but much which contradicts it. Moreover, unless we accuse the Maid of deliberate falsehood, which no one is prepared to do, it was the voices which created the state of patriotic exaltation, and not the exaltation which preceded the voices. Her evidence on these points is clear . . . .

    No words can adequately describe the disgraceful ingratitude and apathy of Charles and his advisers in leaving the Maid to her fate. If military force had not availed, they had prisoners like the Earl of Suffolk in their hands, for whom she could have been exchanged. Joan was sold by John of Luxembourg to the English for a sum which would amount to several hundred thousand dollars in modern money. There can be no doubt that the English, partly because they feared their prisoner with a superstitious terror, partly because they were ashamed of the dread which she inspired, were determined at all costs to take her life. They could not put her to death for having beaten them, but they could get her sentenced as a witch and a heretic.

    And of course, that is exactly what the English leaders did. To their everlasting shame.

    But, that only reveals the stoniness of the closed mind and the hardened heart.

    Goingt back, in the days of the OT, the big problem was with those who would promote real or imaginary earth and sky bound spirits or heroes to higher status and then use idols and idolatrous rituals in their worship. The idea that one could seriously look around and entertain the notion that there is no God, was seen as utter pathological folly beyond even bothering to argue.

    When in the diaspora and then the era of C1 missions, the ancient forms of evolutionary materialism were doubtless encountered alongside the more prevalent idolatry, the apostle Paul observed:

    __________________

    >>Rom 1:18 . . . God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

    19For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

    20For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],(B)

    21Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [c]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

    22Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

    23And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles. [NB: in the old days, idols in temples and on street corners, but many icons of evolutionary materialism in our day seen in museums, on TV or PC screens, in textbooks and popular magazines, etc, would fit precisely under this label]

    24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin],

    25Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen (so be it).(C) >>
    ___________________

    Immoral and amoral disintegration of community is said here to be a consequence of rebellion against God, including its sexual aspects. In addition, the evidence pointing to God as author of creation — from the world without and our minds and consciences within — is held to be self-evident; i.e. to reject it is to immediately land in such patent absurdity that one knows or should know better, there is no excuse. The incoherence of amorality is one form of this, we cannot consistently live as amoral creatures, and admitted immorality implies a moral order, which in turn points to a foundational lawgiver for the cosmos.

    Protestations of brilliant informed skepticism to the contrary notwithstanding, these are held to be self-warranting on pain of absurdity. Dismissive objections reflect, rather, en-darkened minds and consciences.

    So, the question now becomes, is this picture painted by the apostle true? (My response is here on, in light of here on.)

    GEM of TKI

  79. 79

    Brent and GEM,
    I am reminded of Jesus’ parable of the Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. In hell the rich man asked that Lazarus would be sent to testify to his brothers:

    27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:

    28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

    29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

    30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

    31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

    Jesus rose from the dead. Yet our atheist friends say the evidence is not good enough, thus proving verse 31.

  80. Mr Arrington:

    So it is.

    (Cf. my remarks on the minimal facts evidence here.)

    of course, all of this is somewhat of a tangent to the main theme of this blog, on specifics of substance. But, the underlying problem of en-darkenment of mind through that closed-minded question begging selective hyperskepticism that imagines itself brilliant, educated and enlightened, is central.

    Indeed, astonishingly, being “skeptical” is seen as an intellectual virtue today.

    Not so, to be critically aware and insist on adequate warrant for knowledge claims is one thing, and a good one.

    But, to give oneself over to question-begging, self-referentially incoherent, closed minded selective hyperskepticism that does not spot the fatal inconsistency in “extraordinary claims [by my lights] require extraordinary [adequate] evidence,” is utterly another.

    How utterly, inadvertently sadly revealing and telling is the now constant refrain “there is NO evidence . . . “

    Perhaps, such should take a pause and look here, from Plato, on false enlightenment. (Do, take time to watch the long-sought video.)

    Then, may another Dominical saying may strike sparks on the tinder of our minds and hearts:

    Matthew 6:21-23 [AMP]

    21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    22The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light.

    23But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your [a]conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness!

    Footnotes:

    Matthew 6:23 Hermann Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon.

    [Jesus was quite the intellectual virtues and duties approach epistemologist, nuh?]

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I have now updated the always linked, to ver 1.7.1a with the working links. Thanks.

  81. OOPS: Forgot to link Plato’s parable of the cave and the onward video. Here, please.

  82. Barry Arrington [73]

    jurassicmac in [72] continues to twist himself into linguistic knots trying to argue that a word that contains the root word “God” is not a word about God (i.e, a religious word).

    Barry, my comment at 32 was stuck in moderation over the weekend, perhaps you missed it. By your criteria, every belief is a religious belief. You have just provided another example. Let’s apply your reasoning to any other scenario to see if it holds up:

    Claim: Breaking a mirror causes 7 years of bad luck.
    Response: I don’t believe that breaking a mirror causes 7 years of bad luck.

    Now, we see that the response contains the words ‘bad luck’, words that are superstitious. Since it contains superstitious words, the response is therefore also a superstitious belief. Accordingly, if someone describes themselves as ‘asupertitious’ {meaning without superstitions] they are tying themselves in a knot if they try to argue that a word containing the root word ‘superstitious’ is not a word about superstitions (i.e. a superstitious word)

    Now, reading back over my posts, I do agree that i should have been more explicit in defending my statement that atheism isn’t a religious belief. Sure, it’s a philosophy, a worldview, but to call a lack of a belief is a stretch, but let’s say I give you that for sake of argument. It still isn’t a ‘religious’ belief any more than not believing my toaster is God is a ‘religious’ belief.

    There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. And I might add that the most pathetic lie is the lie told to oneself. For example, jurassicmac says he would believe in God if here were presented with convincing evidence. Sad. We have all witnessed him reject evidence after evidence after evidence. No evidence is convincing if one has decided in advance to rule all evidence out.

    Barry, what you’re doing here is making proclamations about the inner workings of a total stranger’s mind, then accusing the stranger of lying about his own thoughts. Isn’t that a little preposterous if you think about it?

    I was a devout Christian for almost 30 years because I thought the evidence pointed in that direction. A few things were brought to my attention regarding those lines of evidence, and I no longer find them convincing. Now, I fully admit that I could very well be mistaken in my evaluation of those lines of evidence. But that does not mean that my belief, or lack thereof, is not contingent on evidence.

  83. Barry, here is what I said at 32, reposted for convenience.

    Barry:

    The issue is not whether belief in God is reasonable or unreasonable. The issue is whether belief in God is a religious belief. By definition, it is. Accordingly, atheism is a religious belief.

    Barry, let’s take your criteria for labeling a position a ‘religious’ belief and see if it holds in any other scenario:

    “The issue is whether belief that my toaster is God is a religious belief. By definition, it is. Accordingly, not believing that my toaster is God is a religious belief.”

    Err…not so much for that one. Let’s restructure it:

    Claim: My TV is an archangel in the form of a TV.
    Response: I do not believe your TV is an archangel in the form of a TV.

    Is the response a religious claim by default? Nope.
    Now, the reason for rejecting the claim is important. If the response were “I do not believe your TV is an archangel because I happen to believe that archangels always appear as forks, not as TVs,” then yes, that would be a religious argument. If, however, the response was “I do not believe your TV is an archangel because you have not provided sufficient evidence that your claim is true,” then that would obviously not be a religious argument.

    Since pantheist believe everything is God, then by your criteria Barry, saying that I don’t believe my iPod is God is a religious statement.

    By your criteria, any statement is a religious statement, and like I said, that strips the term of any meaning whatsoever.

  84. Barry [79]

    31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

    Now in this parable, the two characters are presumably many, many, generations removed from Moses and the prophets. So essentially, what the speaker is saying is:

    “If they don’t believe ancient stories that can not be directly confirmed, why would we expect that they would change their mind with direct, tangible, first hand evidence?”

    That’s setting the bar kind of low, I think.

    The point that the story is trying to make is that belief in the absence of, or in contrast to direct evidence (i.e., faith) is a commendable thing. It is not, at least if the goal is to ascertain truth.

    Jesus rose from the dead. Yet our atheist friends say the evidence is not good enough, thus proving verse 31.

    Jesus died nearly 20 centuries ago. We know this via conflicting accounts to which we don’t have the original documents, accounts that we know for a fact have been modified over time. (even Bart Ehrman’s most vociferous opponents concede that there are over 200,000 textual variants in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.)

    Surely you must realize why some view the claim that Jesus rose from the dead with a bit more skepticism than the claim that water boils a 212 °F? Especially seeing as how 100% of the evidence comes from a collection of ancient documents that otherwise make demonstrably false claims about reality (communicable diseases are caused by evil spirits, not germs; epilepsy is cause by evil spirits, not neurological conditions, etc)

  85. Barry:

    For example, jurassicmac says he would believe in God if here were presented with convincing evidence. Sad. We have all witnessed him reject evidence after evidence after evidence. No evidence is convincing if one has decided in advance to rule all evidence out.

    For reference, what evidence of God’s existence did you present to me, let alone what evidence did I reject? If I missed, it I apologize. perhaps you could summarize for me, or at least give me the post numbers and/or links.

    And to be fair, I must point out that I said I would change my mind If I were presented with convincing evidence, not merely ‘evidence’. I’ve seen evidence that the moon landing was faked, that 911 was an inside job, and that Mormonism is true. I have not seen convincing evidence for any of those 3. For example, “because the Bible says,” is not convincing evidence, unless it could be demonstrated why the bible should be considered infallible. (not merely inerrant; which it doesn’t seem to be either.)

    thanks.

  86. Correction: In my 4th paragraph in [82], the sentence should read: “but to call a lack of a belief a belief itself is a stretch,”

  87. 87

    Jurassicmac,

    Re [82-86]

    The books of the New Testament are the most highly authenticated ancient manuscripts in existence by several orders of magnitude. Sorry, that dog won’t hunt.

    I am sure you have your reasons for saying you reject the existence of God. None of them is warranted by lack of evidence.

    Do you know why the Bible says “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’”? Because everyone, without exception, knows there is a God. And only a fool proclaims to be false that which he knows to be true.

    You understand that the universe cannot account for its own existence. You have asked yourself the question: “Why is there something instead of nothing,” and you know there is only one answer to that question. Despite your protestations to the contrary, sir, you know there is a God, and I am sorry you continue to twist yourself into linguistic knots in an ever more feverish attempt to deny it.

    Have you ever stopped to think why you are so evangelically zealous in proclaiming that you DON’T believe something. After all, you say you don’t believe the moon landings were faked, but you don’t spend hour upon hour on the internet defending your lack of belief in fake moon landings. Let me suggest that the reason may have to do with the fact that more than anyone else, you are trying to convince yourself of something you know, deep down, is untrue, and it takes a lot of effort to beat the drum so loud you cannot hear your own conscience. I am truly sorry for you sir.

  88. 88

    Onlookers, I commend to you GEM’s links in [80].

  89. Barry:

    The books of the New Testament are the most highly authenticated ancient manuscripts in existence by several orders of magnitude. Sorry, that dog won’t hunt.

    Barry, I agree with you 100% that the books of the New Testament are the most highly authenticated ancient documents by an order of magnitude. I’m not sure how you got that I was arguing against that. But “best, compared to others” does not mean “good.” Again I point you to the uncontested 200,000 textual variants in the manuscripts. (there are more textual variants in greek manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.) It’s like saying that Spiderman is an order of magnitude more plausible than Superman or the Hulk, therefore Spiderman is plausible. If we compare the Bible to all books, not just books written as long ago as it was, then we can say the Book of Mormon is an order of magnitude more attested than the New Testament. (It was, after all, written recently, well after the invention of the printing press.) If ‘well-attestend-ness compared to other books’ is our criteria for determining reliability, would you consider the Book of Mormon more reliable than the Bible?

    I am sure you have your reasons for saying you reject the existence of God. None of them is warranted by lack of evidence.

    Again with the declarations of my inner mind. I find that humorously amazing.

    Do you know why the Bible says “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’”? Because everyone, without exception, knows there is a God. And only a fool proclaims to be false that which he knows to be true.

    And again with quoting what someone wrote 3,500-ish years ago to prove your point.

    Despite your protestations to the contrary, sir, you know there is a God, and I am sorry you continue to twist yourself into linguistic knots in an ever more feverish attempt to deny it.

    I’ve been waiting for that shoe to drop. I’m just incredulous that someone could make a claim like this with a straight face. I can understand perfectly how an intelligent person can be a Christian. (many are) I can understand perfectly how an intelligent person can be an ID proponent (many are) But I can’t for the life of me understand how an intelligent person can honestly believe that everyone actually agrees with them in secret, but for some inexplicable reason denies it, and even argues against it. That’s the most outlandish conspiracy theory I’ve ever heard. You’re doing a disservice to your comrades here when you post such nonsense.

    Have you ever stopped to think why you are so evangelically zealous in proclaiming that you DON’T believe something. After all, you say you don’t believe the moon landings were faked, but you don’t spend hour upon hour on the internet defending your lack of belief in fake moon landings.

    For the nth time, you’re doing nothing less than claiming to be psychic. How in the world do you know I don’t spend hours debating the moon landing? The least you could do is throw a ‘probably’ in there somewhere. As a matter of fact, I have discussed it the moon landing at length on some conspiracy theory boards, and It’s very possible that the amount of time adds up to hours. But the main difference is that a large number of people don’t take claims that the moon landing was faked seriously. If a vast majority of people did, and wanted to make legislative decisions based on such a belief, you can bet I’d be discussing it more. I must bring to your attention that the only reason I posted on this particular article is because I was (indirectly) accused of having a religious belief in an area in which I don’t. I am simply trying to explain my position, not be ‘evangelically zealous’ in proclaiming my disbelief. I believe that when someone tells me I believe something, I have the right to inform them that I don’t. (although it seems odd that I would have to continually defend it)

    Let me suggest that the reason may have to do with the fact that more than anyone else, you are trying to convince yourself of something you know, deep down, is untrue, and it takes a lot of effort to beat the drum so loud you cannot hear your own conscience. I am truly sorry for you sir.

    I simply can’t imagine believing, let alone confessing in public, that I harbor a belief that those who disagree with me, actually agree with me in secret, but are lying about disagreeing with me. That’s just preposterous, I must respectfully say.

  90. JM:

    belief/disbelief in God — remember, the necessary being, intelligent, powerful and skilled enough to make a cosmos fine tuned for C-chemistry, intelligent, morally governed life — is a worldview foundational belief, with all sorts of implications for the rest of one’s thought, life and community.

    For instance:

    a: what is the observed universe, and whence cometh it, given that it credibly had a beginning?

    b: how did it come to be fine tuned to support C-chemistry, cell based, intelligent life?

    c: if there is no God, why do we find ourselves morally governed, and what is the is that GROUNDS ought — or, does ought reduce to “THE HIGHEST RIGHT IS MIGHT?

    d: If there is no ought, but we find ourselves deluded that we are subject to its force, what does this imply about the general credibility of mind to form any belief worth trusting and acting on?

    e: Likewise, what then is our significance as beings in our world, personally and collectively?

    (I suggest to you that such worldview level issues are profoundly and inescapably religious, one way of another. We may reject God, but not without consequences for our worldview that do in fact have a functionally and substantially equivalent role in our lives. In particular, we are never simply “without belief in God.” the matter is too close to the heart of what we are.)

    The comparatives you have tried to put up show that you are refusing to accept this plain matter, indeed that you are begging the question and trivialising the questions that directly hinge on the issue of whether or not God is.

    As to the “no evidence” dodge, that has been repeatedly addressed and linked on above. This talking point is a diagnostic sign of selective hyperskepticism, which is self-referentially incoherent and absurd. All, detailed in the linked.

    Please, think again.

    GEM of TKI

  91. Kairosfocus:

    a: what is the observed universe, and whence cometh it, given that it credibly had a beginning?

    I don’t pretend to know how the universe got here. But I must point out one oddity in your question. We have every reason to think that time, space, and matter arose simultaneously in the big bang.; there was no ‘time’ before the big bang. That being the case, it may not make sense to ask what happened ‘before’ the big bang, since ‘before’ is a time-dependent word.

    b: how did it come to be fine tuned to support C-chemistry, cell based, intelligent life?

    I don’t pretend to know why the universe is the way it is. But this question has an oddity as well; you’re assuming from the outset that the universe is ‘fined tuned’. The top minds in physics don’t yet understand enough about the laws and constants to make comments about their relationships to each other; for all we know, given the value for the strength of gravity, it may be that the electromagnetic force, and strong & weak nuclear forces, etc could not possibly have been other way. With a sample size of one, it’s hard to make informed speculations about ways that universes could possibly be, but that doesn’t seem to keep people from trying.

    c: if there is no God, why do we find ourselves morally governed, and what is the is that GROUNDS ought — or, does ought reduce to “THE HIGHEST RIGHT IS MIGHT?

    To divide your question into two parts: Why do we find ourselves with a moral instict? Because in social animals, cooperation brings with it a selective advantage. It’s the same reason we have an instinct to eat, an instinct to mate, and an instinct to avoid pain: it is advantageous in our case to have such instincts. The second part of your question illustrates the fallacy of argumentum ad consequentiam and thus is not a valid objection.

    d: If there is no ought, but we find ourselves deluded that we are subject to its force, what does this imply about the general credibility of mind to form any belief worth trusting and acting on? e: Likewise, what then is our significance as beings in our world, personally and collectively?

    Also mostly an argumentum ad consequentiam, you assume that everyone is ‘deluded that we are subject to “ought’s” force.’ (whatever ‘ought’s force” means in this context) If you’re asking what reason there is to think that evolution would have equipped us to gather ‘truth’, then that’s simple: having the ability to accurately model our environment, i.e, to have beliefs and conceptions about reality that are closer to being ‘true’ than to ‘not true’ is abundantly advantageous for survival. The last sentence of your question is again, an argument from consequences.

    Hope that clarifies things. Thanks for the questions.

  92. F/N: on a 2,300 year old challenge to evolutionary materialist accounts of reality, by Plato:

    ____________________

    >> [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . >>

    ____________________

    Cf discussion here.

    Please, think afresh.

  93. kairosfocus:

    I suggest to you that such worldview level issues are profoundly and inescapably religious, one way of another. We may reject God, but not without consequences for our worldview that do in fact have a functionally and substantially equivalent role in our lives. In particular, we are never simply “without belief in God.” the matter is too close to the heart of what we are.

    If I were to suggest to you that the entire cosmos was sustained by the will of clippy the magic paperclip, that would obviously be ‘worldview level that was profoundly and inescapably religious.’ Is not believing that the entire cosmos is sustained by the will of clippy the magic paperclip equally religious? If it is, then isn’t every every single possible idea, or rejection thereof, religious?

    I’m starting to get the impression that you guys don’t like the word ‘religious’; you use it almost as a slander: “You call me religious, but you are too!

  94. kairosfocus:

    As to the “no evidence” dodge, that has been repeatedly addressed and linked on above. This talking point is a diagnostic sign of selective hyperskepticism, which is self-referentially incoherent and absurd.

    You are misquoting me. I’ve never said that there is ‘no evidence’ only that there is no evidence that is convincing to me personally.

    To say that I’m “selectively” hyperskeptical, it seems to me like you would need to know some of the other things I’m skeptical about, and the degree to which I’m skeptical about them. Perhaps you’re psychic like Barry, but if not, how do you know I’m not consistently skeptical? What other areas do I not apply the same amount of skepticism, more importantly, how did you know before calling my skepticism ‘selective’?

  95. jurassicmac, I think your arguments against the reliability of the Bible manuscripts is quite flawed and a good example of selective hyperskepticism, whereby you hold those manuscripts to standards that are not reasonable, and accept as invalidating easily reconciled “problems”. But, I don’t want to deal with that here. I only say that to put it on the table, possibly for later.

    What I want to ask you is, what would you consider credible evidence for the existence of God?

  96. Brent:

    What I want to ask you is, what would you consider credible evidence for the existence of God?

    A question I’m more than happy to answer. There are innumerable types of evidence that would make me provisionally accept the existence of God, so I’ll pick just one type for now. For simplicity’s sake I’ll list what would convince me of the Christian God. (I can’t really say what evidence would convince of ‘a’ god, a generic undefined God, because without specific claims to test, how would one even go about looking for evidence?)

    Most Christians agree that God is omniscient, and that he can communicate with humans in some way. Some Christians maintain that they can hear God as an audible voice, but far more would say something like God ‘leads’ or ‘guides’ them; at the very least, being omnipotent, if God has an important message to convey, he can do it. Pastors often talk about having God ‘speak through them.’ Another thing that is nearly universally agreed upon is that God wants everyone to know him and to trust in him. Obviously, accepting the proposition that He exists is a prerequisite for that.
    Also, God is a personal being, with a will, desires, and ability to think and reason.

    With those things established, we get to one example of one of the types of evidence I would accept. Here’s the simplest way to say it: The standard of evidence I would accept for the existence of God is no more or no less than I would accept for the existence of any real person, with two minor exceptions: Since God is incorporeal in some sense, I would not expect to be able to touch Him or take a blood sample or some such nonsense as that. Also, I would not expect to be able to hear him directly for two reasons: obviously being incorporeal, He would not be able to emit sound waves, and many (but not all) Christians maintain that God mainly speaks to his followers. (being an ex-follower, I would not fit that bill) So essentially, I would be willing to accept slightly less evidence for the existence of God than I would for the existence of a fellow human being, because with the human I would have a reasonable expectation of being able to see them (in at least a photograph if not in person), or if they were in a far away locale, to converse with them on a telephone.

    So in fairness, I could not demand a different kind of evidence for God then I could demand for a living human (who we’ll cal Mr. X) whom I hand no physical access to, and whom I had only one way communication with (I could send messages to him, but could not receive messages directly from him.) But of course, others who knew him could receive the messages. (For the sake of this thought experiment, the channel of communication is completely secure, no one could possibly intercept my message to him.)

    So the claim is: There is a person, Mr. X, who exists, can receive secure messages from you, who can communicate directly with his associates who you have direct access to, and he has a desire that you believe he exists.

    So, how would I test that particular claim? Easy. I could send him a very specific message, one that would be impossible to guess by an outside party. I would then ask those who claim to know him what that message was. If they could recite the message, the existence of Mr. X would be confirmed. If they made excuses as to why Mr. X didn’t wan’t to be tested, or they said they couldn’t hear him because I ‘didn’t believe’, my skepticism would rightfully remain intact.

    How does this apply to God? Four months back, I used a random number generator to output a series of alphanumeric characters, which I then wrote down and and carefully sealed in manilla coin envelopes, which I keep on my person at all times. (I have three copies, all with different sequences) I mixed them up, so I don’t know which folder contains which sequence; not that I would remember anyways. ( I can’t remember my wife’s cell phone number, let alone a random string of characters.)

    So, since God is omniscient He knows what is written in each folder, and no one else does, including me. (not even deep in my subconscious) A Christian who is in close relationship should be able to receive the sequence from God, and recite it to me because God, if He exists, can read my mind, and therefore would know that this truly would convince me. (That’s why I went through the trouble of preparing the envelopes in the first place; I thought long an hard about what would convince me) He therefore would have no reason not to participate.

    I usually get two immediate responses. One is that it is somehow and ‘unreasonable’ expectation. I don’t buy this; as I pointed out, it is actually less evidence than I would require for the existence of another human. The second is that “God doesn’t like to be tested” to which I usually reply: “You mean the God of the Bible? That God? The one who in Malachi 3:10 says:

    Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

    Now, if you weren’t talking about the God of the Bible (the primary deity of interest here, it seems) then that’s a different conversation.

    Is my standard of evidence unreasonable? If so, why? If not, would anyone care to post the characters God has revealed to them? I’ll record the opening of the envelope and post it for all to see.

    Anyway, that’s one type of evidence that would convince me.

  97. JM:

    You have posed a target rich environment.

    I have to be selective.

    So, first: pardon, but there is simply no comparison between the question of a foundational necessary being to explain the radical contingency of our observed cosmos [start with: it had a beginning -- thus a CAUSE external to it -- and that matter in particular is plainly contingent as a result . . . which you dodged above] and your magical paper clip:

    the entire cosmos was sustained by the will of clippy the magic paperclip . . .

    Do you have any evidence that paper clips have minds, or cosmos-generating capacity? The observed cosmos itself shows it is not self-explanatory, and the logic of a fine tuned cosmos with a beginning cries out for cogent explanation that requires at its root a necessary being. (Have you worked through the issues tabled here?)

    And BTW, the presumption that “evolution” will likely equip us — BTW, itself a major begging of some very big, body-plan origination on functionally specific, complex organisation questions — to accurately perceive our environment is based on a confusion between pragmatic workability and truth as that which is accurate to reality. The history of science itself shows us that many things that work, even work very well, are not accurate to reality. Grimmer history shows us that ruthless and oppressive might may not make for right, but it often makes for success.

    In short, you are repeatedly trivialising, creating strawman caricatures that you can dismiss.

    Going further, the evidence is — and on your dismissal as a “presumption” have you looked at the 101-level summary here? The real issue in current cosmology is not whether there is that sort of fine balance, it is why . . . — that the observed cosmos is exquisitely, and in many, many ways, fine-tuned for the existence of C-chemistry, cell-based intelligent life, such as we experience. That implies a functionally specific, complex “wiring diagram” organisation of the physics, parameters and circumstances of the cosmos. As BA is fond of observing, in some cases as fine a tuning as one grain of sand to the observed atomic matter of the cosmos.

    Your suggested magic paper clip strawman is — material — i.e. it does not even begin to compare. And yes, a “magical” paperclip is a religiously loaded view; one loaded with worldview level implications that have significance for our view of the roots of being, and our nature and duties as a consequence. It is no accident that magicians are often villains in our stories, as magic[k] is about the manipulation of occult forces.

    On selective hyperskepticism, let me observe that radical, global skepticism is even worse. The claim to know that knowledge is not possible — the key global skeptical claim — is immediately self-contradictory, and absurd. And to draw an arbitrary datum line between say some point in C13 or so and the deeper past, fails to see tha the same evidential issues and principles apply on both sides of the line. Indeed, nigh on 200 years ago, someone brilliantly parodied the rising skepticsm of that day, by making a spoof argument against the historicity of Napoleon. (IIRC, some actually took it seriously. Someone more recently did a spoof on the hyperskeptical NT criticism and had the paper published in one of those German journals, with all due seriousness, then exposed the spoof. believe it or not, some then still tried to defend the position. I need not draw on the Sokal affair on pomo, and in fact that is not really parallel as there was a violation of trust involved, i.e. authors were expected to be giving serious documents that were implicitly certified as being in good faith.)

    A better start point for addressing corrosive hyperskepticism is Josiah Royce’s: Error exists.

    For to try to deny this immediately entails giving an example of error.

    So, it is true, and knowably, undeniably, certainly true on pain of immediate absurdity. It is self-evident. Worldviews that deny or dismiss the possibility of knowing truth beyond a relativistic “true to me or you” are all discredited. That sweeps the table of radical relativism, including radical skepticism and a lot of so-called post- [in fact, ultra-] modernism.

    So also, truth exists, undeniably and certainly knowable truth. That is, strong form knowledge.

    But equally, it is a humbling first truth: we may be mistaken about the truth, so we need to be aware of our prone-ness to error. So, we must be open-minded, and critically aware, especially when we practice disciplines (like the sciences) that create or are based on weak form knowledge: warranted, credibly true beliefs that we provisionally accept and trust based on their reliability.

    Selective hyperskepticism especially may enter at this point, through some form of the Clifford-Sagan blunder: extraordinary claims require extraordinary [ADEQUATE] evidence.

    Nor, BTW, am I misquoting you. The “no evidence” assertion is a COMMON rhetorical talking point out there. And in your case, the “convincing to me” declaration actually spotlights the selective hyperskepticism: you are implicitly categorising certain claims as requiring “extraordinary” evidence and are ducking your epistemic responsibilities to what you know or should know to moral certainty. You may not use the phrase “no evidence” but you imply that the evidence that is out there can be dismissed as having no bearing on the truth. Indeed, you have set out to triviaslise or discredit it, i.e. subtly reduce it to the status: no evidence.

    That is, despite such trivialisation and attempted dismissals, there are some things that have adequate warrant that we are irresponsible to not act as though they were true.

    To give non-controversial illustrations, medical findings are not certain beyond all doubt, or even in many cases beyond reasonable doubt. But, we are morally responsible to act on them. Similarly, it is not provable beyond all doubt or challenge that other people around us have minds of their own, or have rights, or are owed duties of care, but there is sufficient evidence that we have a responsibility to act as though these conclusions on good warrant, were true. Just ask any tort lawyer, or a rape defendant — consent being a volitional, mental act.

    Further to this, the issue of our being social animals is besides the point of moral duty.

    A wolf-pack are social, and so is a gang. Gangs cooperate, to steal, pillage, rape and murder. Moral duty is not traceable to being social, or to personal or group advantage. Just ask the most successful thieves in all history, the imperial age British elites.

    The very fact that you made such a resort tells us that you have indeed lost the key point and force of ought: duty, especially to those too weak to deter aggression.

    In short, you are inadvertently revealing the precise amorality that Plato warned against 2,300 years ago. Your evident atheistiacal evolutionary materialism has in it no IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT.

    And, onlookers should take due note of the implication of that: “ought” is reduced to raw power and/or manipulation, in a radically relativist framework.

    Might makes right, in short.

    A grim warning, in light of the history of the past century.

    Will Hawthorne is apt:

    Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces]. (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)

    Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

    Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’.

    For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

    Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument.

    In short, evolutionary materialistic atheism is amoral and patently morally absurd.

    [ . . . ]

  98. Further yet to this, the pivotal issue of morality as delusion on evo mat premises that I raised, turns on the obvious implication that if we are under a delusion that OUGHT is real and binding, then a major aspect of our view of reality and the way we live in that light is delusional.

    Whether or not you want to face it, that does raise the question that the mind, on evo mat premises, is profoundly delusional.

    Which then raises the serious further question of whether we can trust the “secretions” of a jumped up monkey brain, on any subject of significance.

    Nor is this novel: Darwin raised the question, and so did Haldane, so has Crick by implication, and so on.

    Ducking and dismissing such a serious and self-referential question as a fallacious appeal to consequences, has not addressed the material issue.

    Sadly, strawman again.

    There is another example that clinches the seriousness of the problem.

    For, in the case of the Biblical, NT text, you have said:

    Jesus died nearly 20 centuries ago. We know this via conflicting accounts to which we don’t have the original documents, accounts that we know for a fact have been modified over time. (even Bart Ehrman’s most vociferous opponents concede that there are over 200,000 textual variants in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.)

    Surely you must realize why some view the claim that Jesus rose from the dead with a bit more skepticism than the claim that water boils a 212 °F? . . .

    1 –> You here immediately reveal your reliance on a selectively hyperskeptical former evangelical.

    2 –> You resort to the uncalled for injection of a radical disharmony into accounts where there is diversity, and seem to forget that it is NORMAL for true testimony from separate eyewitnesses to conflict on minor details, with these conflicts resolving themselves in many cases on deeper examination. [E.g. cf my examination of a similar accusation about the timeline of the first Easter morning, here. It is always possible to make diverse accounts seem to be in contradiction, but in fact if there are circumstances under which the diverse accounts can be harmonised, on strict logic the claim, contradiction falls to the ground. Difficulties and apparent conflicts we may have and may have to think hard about, but we should not toss the rhetorical grenade "contradiction" around loosely. And, difficulties are a NORMAL state of historical investigations. Where, all that is needed to bring the crucial gospel event issues to focus is that the NT documents are reasonable as history. Inspiration by God and questions over inerrancy are secondary to that, and are theological-philosophical conclusions, not critical points that if questioned overturn the credibility of say 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 as eyewitness lifetime history tracing to the circle of witnesses in Jerusalem by 35 - 38 AD, in the teeth of the opponents; and in the further ("according to the scriptures") context of Isa 52 - 53 as predictive prophecy put down on paper so to speak 700 years before the fact.]

    3 –> Your “accounts that have been modified over time” and appeal to the want of the autograph copies are both strawmanish and a snide suggestion of overall deliberate falsification. So is your comment on more variants than places in the NT.

    4 –> Any reasonable, as opposed to selectively hyperskeptical examination, would accept that it is NORMAL for texts of classical times, not to have autographs — though the Rylands fragment c. 125 AD [and which aptly contains Pilate's cynical: what is truth] is so close to autograph times as makes little difference — so, the “no originals” claim is blatantly selectively hyperskeptical. So also you know or should know that we are dealing with in the main scribal errors in MSS typical of any document [where the same variant spelling or mis-spelling 100 times, is 100 variants by the way such are counted], and that there is a whole discipline that compares across 24,000+ MSS and is highly confident of the integrity of the original text. There is no good evidence of organised, continent-wide text tampering, by direct contrast with the Uthman attempted recension of the Quran on Hafsa’s copy that left such a noise of protest in the record and variant readings intact down to today that show what was done and that it was done. Ehrman’s army of strawmen and sensationalising that exploits our ignorance of the wider context have misled you badly.

    5 –> Worse, you pass over in a convenient silence the abundant corroboration of the accuracy of the NT as historical documentation, and that of its provenance in C1; whilst the gnostic works that many are wont to promote nowadays, are equally plainly of C2 and later provenance. That is, the one is eyewitness lifetime and credibly eyewitness based, the other is not — indeed the plain evidence is that it is a syncretistic accommodation to the vulgarised platonism and the popular magical views of the time. The NT stands out by direct contrast with such views. (And, BTW, speaking of appeal to prejudice on the temper of the times: there is a lot more and a lot more objective evidence of the continued, present day reality of the demonic than you are wont to think. Your evident evolutionary materialistic prejudices are closing your mind.)

    6 –> You then compound with a categorical error that directly shows the selective hyperskeptical problem. The boiling point of pure water at sea level is a direct observational fact of the present. History — by contrast — is about the past, just as a court trial [crucial to social stability] is about the past. And, we are fully capable of obtaining moral certainty about the past, on testimony, record and supportive evidence of that record.

    7 –> What you have done then is two things: (a) implicitly you are holding historical record you would dismiss to the standards of present day observations, and (b) you are INCONSISTENT in your standards of dealing with history. (I suggest you read on standards of evidence on the past, starting here, from Simon Greenleaf, a founding father of the modern theory of evidence. Start with the ancient documents rule.)

    8 –> How can I know this last? Simple, science itself relies on historical record for many of its key findings, and to make progress. So, historical standards of evidence cannot neatly be severed from scientific work. So, to imply such a severance, is to be selectively hyperskeptical and inconsistent.

    9 –> Going beyond, you are passing over in silence the minimal facts issue, where the majority to the overwhelming consensus of scholarship has come to certain conclusions regarding the NT record — and notice, I am not here relying on the strawman issue of infallibility or the like that Ehrman likes to set up, just to view them as authentic and credible record — accepts certain facts that cry out for an adequate explanation.

    10 –> Where, the standard skeptical explanations of the past have fallen apart, and the common one today, “visions,” is equally impotent in the face of the body of evidence as a whole. (Cf also here.)

    11 –> Any way, this excursus on the NT side issue, is about showing the selective hyperskepticism problem you need to address, it is not the main focus.

    ++++++++

    JM, pardon directness, but I think you have some serious rethinking to do.

    GEM of TKI

  99. F/N: It is worth excerpting JM’s responses to the cluster of Q’s above and specifically commenting on points. Q’s A and following were posed by me:

    ______________

    >> a: what is the observed universe, and whence cometh it, given that it credibly had a beginning?

    I don’t pretend to know how the universe got here.

    1 –> But, that the universe credibly had a beginning immediately implies that it has necessary causal factors external to itself, and has a cause.

    2 –> Even through a suggested chain of multiverses and oscillations etc, that points to the root of such a contingent order: a necessary being with the knowledge, skill and power to create a cosmos such as we observe, one that is fine-tuned for C-chemistry, cell based intelligent life.

    3 –> this already points to the reality of a Designer and maker of the cosmos, who is personal, mentally capable, immaterial [the origin of matter, which is contingent ans so not necessary, is in question] and awesomely powerful

    4 –> So, pardon, but that is a rhetorical dodge, especially as just a link away, there was a significant discussion to be engaged.

    But I must point out one oddity in your question. We have every reason to think that time, space, and matter arose simultaneously in the big bang.; there was no ‘time’ before the big bang.

    5 –> thus, we see a beginning therefore the implication of radical contingency and external cause

    That being the case, it may not make sense to ask what happened ‘before’ the big bang, since ‘before’ is a time-dependent word.

    6 –> Strawman. At no point did I use the term before/after. Instead I pointed to the existence of a beginning, and onward to the contrast between contingent and necessary beings.

    7 –> that a necessary being would have to exist in a different order that transcends our observed space-time reality may be strange to us, but it is a logical implication of a space-time order that has a beginning.

    8 –> From the moment our order came into being, whether 13.7 BYA or whenever, it had a cause that was necessarily external to it, and which traces onward to a necessary order of being.

    b: how did it come to be fine tuned to support C-chemistry, cell based, intelligent life?

    I don’t pretend to know why the universe is the way it is.

    9 –> Another dodge. the issue, plainly is an inference to best explanation on our experience of cause and effect.

    10 –> By the very act of dodging, the implication is that JM knows or should know that the best empirically credible explanation for a Wicken wiring diagram based complex functional organised entity is design, which in turn points to a designer.

    But this question has an oddity as well; you’re assuming from the outset that the universe is ‘fined tuned’.

    11 –> Had JM bothered to attend to the linked 101 level discussion on cosmological finetuning, he would have discovered (i) that the reality of fine tuning is a commonplace of cosmology, resting on the work of principals such as Hoyle et al, and (ii) that this fine tuning includes major aspects where it pivots on things that we do know very well such as the properties of water and the reasons for the relative abundance of four key elements: H, He, C, O.

    12 –> So, the assertion that I am “assuming” is a rhetorical strawman put in my mouth and ducking the weight of evidence.

    The top minds in physics don’t yet understand enough about the laws and constants to make comments about their relationships to each other;

    12 –> WHAT! This is patently false, flying in the face of the very reason why, on examining and commenting on just such relationships, the implication of fine-tuning has emerged.

    13 –> this is a blatant, brazenly false, utterly discrediting declaration.

    for all we know, given the value for the strength of gravity, it may be that the electromagnetic force, and strong & weak nuclear forces, etc could not possibly have been other way.

    14 –> If there is a super-law that forces the cosmological forces into relationships, that would point to finetuning at the next level up. The long sought theory of everything, if it specifies such finetuning, would in turn be fine tuned. So, this objection is pointless.

    15 –> In addition, the issue is not just on relationships of laws, but of boundary conditions and brute givens, such as the balance of the number of protons and electrons on a cosmological scale to achieve essentially neutral electrical charge on the whole — the EM force is long range and is vastly stronger than gravity. Similarly, the mass of the cosmos is quite delicately balanced, and many more.

    With a sample size of one, it’s hard to make informed speculations about ways that universes could possibly be, but that doesn’t seem to keep people from trying.

    16 –> Dismissive and even disrespectful rhetoric in the teeth of evidence. On a sample size of One we can indeed see that there are relationships that are set up in ways that facilitate C-chemistry cell based intelligent life, such as the parameters and properties of H2O and relative abundance of the required elements, which go right to the heart of physics of atoms, stars and the universe as a whole.

    [ . . . ]

  100. c: if there is no God, why do we find ourselves morally governed, and what is the is that GROUNDS ought — or, does ought reduce to “THE HIGHEST RIGHT IS MIGHT?

    To divide your question into two parts: Why do we find ourselves with a moral instict?

    17 –> Diversionary and caricaturing. The issue is not moral perceptions but he reality of being under the obligation of OUGHT and the grounds for ought.

    18 –> Are you prepared to argue that torturing and murdering 3 month old infants is not wrong, but merely cuts across the instincts and perceptions of a social animal?

    19 –> In that case, you have implied the point: evo mat entails that might makes right and is morally absurd.

    Because in social animals, cooperation brings with it a selective advantage.

    20 –> indeed, that is why gangs form and go out on pillage, small scale up to grand scale, as say happened with the Nazis.

    21 –> Indeed, they were arguing precisely to the advantage of the evolutionarily superior, too. That is why we had a holocaust: eugenics on steroids.

    It’s the same reason we have an instinct to eat, an instinct to mate, and an instinct to avoid pain: it is advantageous in our case to have such instincts.

    22 –> You have diverted, as already corrected.

    The second part of your question illustrates the fallacy of argumentum ad consequentiam and thus is not a valid objection.

    23 –> Actually, you are here diverting attention from the patent moral absurdity of evolutionary materialism. It is amoral, tries to reduce ought to advantage or some other relative factor and ends up in the utter and destructive absurdity of might makes right.

    24 –> the concerned onlooker should take note.

    d: If there is no ought, but we find ourselves deluded that we are subject to its force, what does this imply about the general credibility of mind to form any belief worth trusting and acting on? e: Likewise, what then is our significance as beings in our world, personally and collectively?

    Also mostly an argumentum ad consequentiam, you assume that everyone is ‘deluded that we are subject to “ought’s” force.’

    25 –> Compounding the fallacy. It is evo mat that lacks an IS that can ground OUGHT, and that is what was pointed out, By your dismissal, you imply the correctness of that point.

    26 –> on that alone, many people will find good reason to conclude that evo mat CANNOT be right.

    (whatever ‘ought’s force” means in this context)

    27 –> Further confirming the amorality and absurdity of evo mat, as well as its inability to face basic moral facts as certain as any other of consequence.

    If you’re asking what reason there is to think that evolution would have equipped us to gather ‘truth’, then that’s simple: having the ability to accurately model our environment, i.e, to have beliefs and conceptions about reality that are closer to being ‘true’ than to ‘not true’ is abundantly advantageous for survival.

    28 –> as already pointed out, a category confusion. That which works well enough to be reinforced and that which is actually accurate to reality are utterly distinct.

    29 –> If you need an example, consider the utility of electronics circuit models or even Newtonian dynamics, which are both known not to correspond accurately to reality. But they work well enough to be the foundation of our technical culture.

    The last sentence of your question is again, an argument from consequences.

    30 –> Yet another dismissive dodging of a serious question, and one that evo mat — as usual — has no adequate answer to: what then is our significance as beings in our world, personally and collectively?

    31 –> the answer that cannot mnet the light of day: we are accidents, the mindless result of a mindless chaos we imagine is a cosmos, and therefore we have no significance, and no value as beings, individually and collectively.

    32 –> So, on evo mat there is no value of the person, no dignity, no moral equality that demands respect and dignified treatment. All reduces to power and “right” is a question of might makes right.

    33 –> Thank God, evo mat is logically self-refuting by virtue of being self-referentially incoherent, as say Haldane recognised in the 1930′s:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    >>

    _______________

    JM has some serious re-thinking to do. As do other evolutionary materialists.

    GEM of TKI

  101. F/N 2: I think some remarks on temporality are in order.

    a: Consider a sheet of graph paper with the usual origin in he middle and axes like: +

    b: For any point on the Y-axis, all points along X correspond, and vice versa.

    c: In particular, the origin is a polar point, where all points along both axes correspond.

    d: Now, let us consider our globe. What is the time at the North Pole? (Since all lines of longitude intersect there and all lines of hours of right ascension in the celestial sphere intersect at the North Celestial pole above it, THERE IS NO ONE LOCAL TIME AT THE NORTH POLE. Usually, we arbitrarily reckon it in universal — Greenwich — time and done.)

    e: This brings out a broadening of our concepts, helping us in understanding of time and times and eternity.

    f: Extending, if one sits at the metaphorical “north pole of time” — notice that text on the sides of the north BTW — one is simultaneously present at all times and the focal time is a matter of what is important.

    g: Likewise one can be at the metaphorical north pole of space. (BA will appreciate that this view allows for non-locality of hidden variables in quantum mechanics etc.)

    h: Now, we are not saying that this is the case, only that the contradictions and apparent absurdities many perceive are more a matter of inadequacy of concept than of true logical challenges. (I used to ask whether it was possible to be at one and the same point and be due north of London UK 0 long, Bridgetown Barbados 59 W and Kingston Ja 76 W. usually, people were puzzled until the north pole was highlighted.)

    i: Now, when we look at the Hubble results, we see that the observed cosmos’ expansion points back to a singularity, usually estimated at 13.7 BYA. So, credibly, our cosmos had a beginning and is a contingent being.

    j: That means there are external circumstances under which it was not possible, and others under which it was and became actual. That is, it is caused.

    k: Even through a multiverse and/or an oscillating cosmos model, that points onward to a necessary being as the root of the observed contingent cosmos. Such a necessary being has no beginning, has no necessary external causal factors, and cannot be of the material order thst our cosmos is — for matter plainly [consider E = m*c^2] is contingent.

    l: In other words, if something now is, which is self-evidently so, SOMETHING always was. That root something is a necessary, immaterial being, the foundational cause of our contingent cosmos.

    m: In addition, as has been discussed and linked — and fallaciously dismissed — our cosmos is on many diverse aspects credibly fine tuned for the existence of C-chemistry, cell-based intelligent life.

    n: That points to a necessary being with the knowledge, skill power and intent to cause the existence of such a cosmos.

    o: One may choose to reject the line of reasoning, but one then has an intellectual responsibility to provide a superior explanation per inference to best explanation; not merely one that better fits how one wishes the world were.

    p: Such abductive reasoning is of course the foundation of science, especially origins science.

    GEM of TKI

  102. F/N 3: If space-time is more complex than we commonly understand scientifically, of course this also opens up possibilities for the reality of sci fi’s hyperspace or fold space! (Just saying, let’s keep an open mind. I do confess to wishing that one true, though; I would love for there to be a means to travel truly long disstances across the cosmos!)

  103. Well, that’s quite a barrage, KF :-) (and, a five thousand word diatribe is hardly a ‘selective’ reply to 4 questions) Since I often don’t know if or when my replies will make it through moderation, I don’t have the inclination to write novellas to match your (thoughtful) replies. I’ll start with your numbered objections from 98:

    1 –> You here immediately reveal your reliance on a selectively hyperskeptical former evangelical.

    Quite the opposite. It was the data point I was highlighting. (200,000 variants) I mentioned Ehrman specifically to showcase that I wasn’t relying on him; that that number is uncontested even among evangelicals. And you keep using the term ‘selectively hyperskeptical’. I take it that you don’t believe that the Koran or Book of Mormon are true. Are you being selectively hyperskeptical in rejecting those books out of hand? Why not?

    2 –> You resort to the uncalled for injection of a radical disharmony into accounts where there is diversity…

    Again, putting words into my mouth. I never made any comment whatsoever as to the amount of conflict. I never said anything to the effect of ‘radical disharmony.’ Please read what I say.

    3 –> Your “accounts that have been modified over time” and appeal to the want of the autograph copies are both strawmanish and a snide suggestion of overall deliberate falsification. So is your comment on more variants than places in the NT.

    I’m not sure how that is strawmanish, or snide. The documents have been modified over time. Are you suggesting that an evolutionist thinks that modification over time implies willful intent? ;-) That there are more textual variants in the Greek New Testament manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament is a simple fact. If you see presenting facts as ‘snide’, well, there’s nothing I can do about that.

    4 –> Any reasonable, as opposed to selectively hyperskeptical examination, would accept that it is NORMAL for texts of classical times, not to have autographs…

    This is where your argument gets bizarre. I’ve NEVER said, implied, suggested, or hinted that it’s not perfectly normal for ancient texts to not have autographs. You’re practically putting words in my mouth. (that’s a much more appropriate use of the term ‘strawmanish’) You proclaim that I’m being selectively hyperskeptical with the NT compared to other ancient documents without knowing my views on other ancient documents. If, over the next few decades, 10,000 autographs of the Odyssey were found, each in perfect harmony with each other, I still wouldn’t then start believing it was a true story. That a text has been adequately preserved through time is a necessary condition for accepting it as ‘true’, but is by no means a sufficient condition. Like I’ve pointed out, we have good reason to think that the Book of Mormon is nearly identical to what was originally written, but that has no bearing on it’s veracity. Accurate preservation over time is simply the least one would expect from a book written by God.

    5 –> Worse, you pass over in a convenient silence the abundant corroboration of the accuracy of the NT as historical documentation,

    That’s a critique of something I didn’t say! Is there an expectation that every single post has to include every fact about the subject ever put forward? (buy the length of your posts, I fear the answer may be ‘yes’)

    6 –>… And, we are fully capable of obtaining moral certainty about the past, on testimony, record and supportive evidence of that record.

    No, we are not. History is about determining what probably happened, not what certainly happened. If you don’t already see the problem in your claim, it is beyond the scope of this post to explain it.

    7 –> What you have done then is two things: (a) implicitly you are holding historical record you would dismiss to the standards of present day observations, and (b) you are INCONSISTENT in your standards of dealing with history.

    It would facilitate things if you would just directly claim to be psychic. In the case of (b), there is no possible way you could know that, even if it were the case, because you haven’t asked me the first thing about how I deal with other areas of history. It is absurd to accuse someone of being inconsistent in their views, when you have only a single instance of one of their views.

    8 –> How can I know this last? Simple, science itself relies on historical record for many of its key findings, and to make progress. So, historical standards of evidence cannot neatly be severed from scientific work. So, to imply such a severance, is to be selectively hyperskeptical and inconsistent.

    When did I ever imply such a severance? Or did I merely think it?

    9 –> Going beyond, you are passing over in silencethe minimal facts issue,

    Again, you’re criticizing me for something I did not say. Astounding.

    10 –> Where, the standard skeptical explanations of the past have fallen apart, and the common one today, “visions,” is equally impotent in the face of the body of evidence as a whole. (Cf also here.)

    I’m not sure what that means, let alone how it relates to anything I’ve said.

    11 –> Any way, this excursus on the NT side issue, is about showing the selective hyperskepticism problem you need to address, it is not the main focus.

    Again, in order to say that I’m ‘selective’ or ‘inconsistent’ you need to know something about my other views. I could just as easily accuse you of being selectively hyperskeptical in rejecting the truth claims of the Book of Mormon.

  104. Brent, since my responses take up to a few days to go through moderation they sometimes get lost in the conversation since they appear in place, and not at the bottom. (especially when kairosfocus or bornagain77 are posting mini-novels as responses) My answer to your question “What evidence would you accept for the existence of God?” is at post [96]

  105. JM:

    I will be brief for now, save for a contextual excerpt that will show plainly what is going on. If not to you, then at least to onlookers.

    I will simply note that the precise problem is that Ehrman wrenches a number out of its context, and turns it into an extravaganza of selective hyperskeptical rejectionism. The material issue is not that there are 200 k variants, across up to 24,000 MSS, but that these include every misspelling or variant spelling or the like. By picking on a number out of context, you have distracted from the material fact that the underlying text is actually highly c4redible and shows no overall across the board centrally controlled tampering, a la Dan Brown’s assertions or the like; and by direct contrast with the issue over Uthman with the Quran. @Which I noticed you seem to have overlooked, but this is precisely a hard hiatorical data point that shows what happens when the sort of centralised tampering you suggest is done. And indeed, someone did try, Marcion.

    He was rejected and dismissed, indeed a major gift was it 12,0000 sesterces, was returned to him by the church of Rome in C2. In short, the evidence is that deliberate modification was not done, was not tolerated, and that he text as a whole is very reliable.

    Observe, therefore, what you have precisely not cited, from my remark, and then see what has gone wrong from there on with your response:

    3 –> Your “accounts that have been modified over time” and appeal to the want of the autograph copies are both strawmanish and a snide suggestion of overall deliberate falsification. So is your comment on more variants than places in the NT.

    4 –> Any reasonable, as opposed to selectively hyperskeptical examination, would accept that it is NORMAL for texts of classical times, not to have autographs — though the Rylands fragment c. 125 AD [and which aptly contains Pilate's cynical: what is truth] is so close to autograph times as makes little difference — so, the “no originals” claim is blatantly selectively hyperskeptical. So also you know or should know that we are dealing with in the main scribal errors in MSS typical of any document [where the same variant spelling or mis-spelling 100 times, is 100 variants by the way such are counted], and that there is a whole discipline that compares across 24,000+ MSS and is highly confident of the integrity of the original text. There is no good evidence of organised, continent-wide text tampering, by direct contrast with the Uthman attempted recension of the Quran on Hafsa’s copy that left such a noise of protest in the record and variant readings intact down to today that show what was done and that it was done. Ehrman’s army of strawmen and sensationalising that exploits our ignorance of the wider context have misled you badly.

    5 –> Worse, you pass over in a convenient silence the abundant corroboration of the accuracy of the NT as historical documentation, and that of its provenance in C1; whilst the gnostic works that many are wont to promote nowadays, are equally plainly of C2 and later provenance. That is, the one is eyewitness lifetime and credibly eyewitness based, the other is not — indeed the plain evidence is that it is a syncretistic accommodation to the vulgarised platonism and the popular magical views of the time. The NT stands out by direct contrast with such views. (And, BTW, speaking of appeal to prejudice on the temper of the times: there is a lot more and a lot more objective evidence of the continued, present day reality of the demonic than you are wont to think. Your evident evolutionary materialistic prejudices are closing your mind.)

    In short, snipping out of context makes for a nice strawman set up for a selectively hyperskeptical dismissive rebuttal — I am sure you would not treat any other serious document like that.

    This is the proverbial slice of the cake that has in it the ingredients form what follows. Including on the scientific and worldview level issues.

    G’day for now,

    GEM of TKI

  106. Hello KairosFocus.
    Pardon me if this is besides the point, but I wanted to find a comprehensive rebuttal to rationalwiki’s critique of Dr. Dembski’s law of conservation of information.
    Do you know where I could look or maybe do you have any thoughts on this?
    Thank You

  107. 107

    kairosfocus, I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying in post 105. It seems to be written hastily, and I can’t make out some of the sentences. Are you saying that I’m taking the 200,000 textual variances out of context? Or are you saying that I took your questions out of context? If the latter, perhaps you missed the fact that I cited the post that your questions were posed in, so readers could read the questions in their entirety. I placed ellipses to indicate where I had only repeated part of the question, to save space. If you’re accusing me of the former, would you please indicate how many of the 200,000 variances are ‘important’, and how many are ‘unimportant’?

    …you have distracted from the material fact that the underlying text is actually highly c4redible and shows no overall across the board centrally controlled tampering…

    When did I ever say, indicate, insinuate, hint at, or otherwise allude to anything about a ‘centrally controlled tampering? Please tell me. And you accuse me of erecting straw men? This is at least the fifth time you’ve tried to rebut claims I haven’t made.

    The main point I was trying to make, and I apologize if I didn’t communicate this clearly, is that it wouldn’t matter if one could demonstrate that the Bible we have to day is exactly the Bible that was written down; that is a necessary condition for accepting its veracity, but by no means is it a sufficient one.

    I have good reason to think that Dianetics is almost exactly as L. Ron Hubbard wrote it; that fact alone does nothing to convince me that it is true or even useful.

    So again, unless you can point out another document that I’m treating differently, I’m afraid your charges of ‘selective hyperskepticism’ are entirely vacuous.

  108. Jurassicmac, thanks for pointing out your response that appeared directly after my question posed to you. I may well have missed it had you not pointed it out.

    I’ll commence with destroying your position later ;)

    P.S. Be careful how you respond to Kairosfocus. I’m watching . . . LOL

  109. 109

    jurassicmac,

    You don’t lack the belief God doesn’t exist, you believe that God doesn’t exist. You have an opinion, and that is a belief.

  110. 110

    Jurrasicmac,

    ”If they made excuses as to why Mr. X didn’t want to be tested”

    Of course, such excuse-making would offer some sense of confirmation. But the idea that such excuses might appear actually presupposes at least two prior conditions. In one instance they could be completely genuine and genuinely want to fulfill your request. And in the another, Mr X might not submit to your test.

    How is it that your experiment could tell the difference? Or should we assume your answer from the start?

  111. Brent, I look forward to it. :-) I hope you mean that you’re going to explain why my criteria for evidence is flawed, but any other critique is welcome as well.

  112. —jurrasicmac: “There are innumerable types of evidence that would make me provisionally accept the existence of God, so I’ll pick just one type for now. For simplicity’s sake I’ll list what would convince me of the Christian God.”

    What are the arguments in favor of the Christian God that you are aware of and have found wanting?

    —“Barry, I agree with you 100% that the books of the New Testament are the most highly authenticated ancient documents by an order of magnitude. I’m not sure how you got that I was arguing against that. But “best, compared to others” does not mean “good.” Again I point you to the uncontested 200,000 textual variants in the manuscripts. (there are more textual variants in greek manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.)”

    Your comment about “200,000 textual variants” needs a context. Who is making this claim? How many texts are involved and how many variations per text are being claimed? What is a variant? How are the variations measured? How many variations should be expected per manuscript as a standard for reliability?

    The Scriptural science for determining the level and amount of corruption that has occurred over time is called textual criticism. I will not spend a good deal of time discussing methodology [unless you need it] but I will give you the bottom line. An average of about one to two words per page has been affected and the integrity of the Gospel narratives, epistles, and basic Biblical teachings are completely in tact. There are many ways to measure these results, some internal to the text and some external to the text.

  113. That should read, “on the average, about one or two words per page have been affected”……..

  114. Hi kuartus,

    You will see that I do not cite Dembski’s summary law of conservation of information.

    I have no need to cite him as authority, or for that matter his critics; or their ad hominem-laced critiques, e.g. see how RW begin their remarks on Dr Dembski here. Instead, I am going to the heart of the matter based on my own knowledge base on information and communication theory, and thermodynamics in light of the situations with OOL and origin of body plans: what is the empirically and analytically credible source of functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information? (Where, I have used 1,000 bits as a reasonable threshold for complex enough to be beyond the search resources of the observed cosmos.)

    The answer is quite simple, though of course objectors and detractors labour long and hard to obscure it:

    (i) in every case where we directly know the answer, the source is intelligence,

    (ii) thanks to the infinite monkeys type analysis, we see that such islands of function are going to be deeply isolated in configuration spaces, and so it is maximally unlikely and implausible that blind trial and error on a random walk will stumble across such an island, on the gamut of our observable cosmos across its lifespan.

    (iii) So, we are empirically and analytically well-warranted to see that FSCO/I is a reliable sign that points to intelligent cause.

    That is what those committed to evolutionary materialist theories of origins (to the point where they are involved in a question-begging attempted redefinition of science a la Lewontin et al)wish to distract our attention from.

    And, in absence of active, intelligently directed correction, information does in fact tend to at most be conserved, and actually to deteriorate. That is why we have checksums and error correcting codes. It is why DENA has entire subsystems that are continually at work to repair errors, and why there are cross checks in the cell.

    Now, on the link I found, Rational Wiki first misrepresents Dembski as a “creationist” arguing against “evolution,” so we know from the outset that he issues are being addressed on rhetoric not fairness or soundness. This carries on to how they cite the issue:

    As the law goes (no mutation may occur which creates more than 500 somethings of information), evolution cannot give rise to complex structures. Problem is, no one accepts the law of the conservation of information, probably because Dembski came up with it on his own. No new fourth law of thermodynamics here….

    This is a strawman, where they cannot even accurately cite what Dr Dembski has argued, much less what its evidential and analytical base is, much less the antecedents in the stream of academic thought on the matter — names like Orgel, Wicken, Polanyi, Brillouin, Szillard and more. The “no one accepts . . . because Dembski came up with it on his own” is both a mocking ad hominem and a fallacious appeal to the crowd, as well as the consensus of the evolutionary materialist high priesthood duly dressed in the holy lab coat. (See how the shoe pinches when it is on the other foot?)

    The real issue is that 500 BITS of functional information specifies a configuration space of 3.27 * 10^150 possibilities. Where, the ~ 10^80 atoms of our observed cosmos, across its thermodynamic lifespan, about 50 mn times the time since the usual date for the big bang, and changing state every Planck time — about 10^20 times as fast as the fastest, strong force interactions — would go through about 10^150 states. So, if something is at least as deeply isolated in a config space as that, it is not credibly reachable on a blind random walk fed into trial and error. And, mechanical necessity, by definition, is about natural regularities, not contingency. (Natural law explains how a heavy object falls, it is not responsible for how a die may come up in diverse values under similar circumstances. That is due to chance and/or intelligence.)

    What Dembski actually said, as is easily accessible at ARN, is:

    ______________

    >> I shall (1) show how information can be reliably detected and measured [he develops in outline the usual negative log probability metric that traces to Hartley], and (2) formulate a conservation law that governs the origin and flow of information. My broad conclusion is that information is not reducible to natural causes, and that the origin of information is best sought in intelligent causes. Intelligent design thereby becomes a theory for detecting and measuring information, explaining its origin, and tracing its flow . . . . In Steps Towards Life Manfred Eigen (1992, p. 12) identifies what he regards as the central problem facing origins-of-life research: “Our task is to find an algorithm, a natural law that leads to the origin of information.” Eigen is only half right. To determine how life began, it is indeed necessary to understand the origin of information. Even so, neither algorithms nor natural laws are capable of producing information . . . .

    What then is information? The fundamental intuition underlying information is not, as is sometimes thought, the transmission of signals across a communication channel, but rather, the actualization of one possibility to the exclusion of others. As Fred Dretske (1981, p. 4) puts it, “Information theory identifies the amount of information associated with, or generated by, the occurrence of an event (or the realization of a state of affairs) with the reduction in uncertainty, the elimination of possibilities, represented by that event or state of affairs.” . . . . For specified information not just any pattern will do. We therefore distinguish between the “good” patterns and the “bad” patterns. The “good” patterns will henceforth be called specifications. Specifications are the independently given patterns that are not simply read off information . . . .

    The distinction between specified and unspecified information may now be defined as follows: the actualization of a possibility (i.e., information) is specified if independently of the possibility’s actualization, the possibility is identifiable by means of a pattern. If not, then the information is unspecified. Note that this definition implies an asymmetry between specified and unspecified information: specified information cannot become unspecified information, though unspecified information may become specified information . . . .

    there are functional patterns to which life corresponds, and which are given independently of the actual living systems. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. The functionality of organisms can be cashed out in any number of ways. Arno Wouters (1995) cashes it out globally in terms of viability of whole organisms. Michael Behe (1996) cashes it out in terms of the irreducible complexity and minimal function of biochemical systems. Even the staunch Darwinist Richard Dawkins will admit that life is specified functionally, cashing out the functionality of organisms in terms of reproduction of genes. Thus Dawkins (1987, p. 9) will write: “Complicated things have some quality, specifiable in advance, that is highly unlikely to have been acquired by random chance alone. In the case of living things, the quality that is specified in advance is . . . the ability to propagate genes in reproduction.” . . . .

    To see why CSI is a reliable indicator of design, we need to examine the nature of intelligent causation. The principal characteristic of intelligent causation is directed contingency, or what we call choice. Whenever an intelligent cause acts, it chooses from a range of competing possibilities. This is true not just of humans, but of animals as well as extra-terrestrial intelligences . . . . A bottle of ink spills accidentally onto a sheet of paper; someone takes a fountain pen and writes a message on a sheet of paper. In both instances ink is applied to paper. In both instances one among an almost infinite set of possibilities is realized. In both instances a contingency is actualized and others are ruled out. Yet in one instance we infer design, in the other chance. What is the relevant difference? Not only do we need to observe that a contingency was actualized, but we ourselves need also to be able to specify that contingency. The contingency must conform to an independently given pattern, and we must be able independently to formulate that pattern. A random ink blot is unspecifiable; a message written with ink on paper is specifiable . . . . CSI is a reliable indicator of design because its recognition coincides with how we recognize intelligent causation generally. In general, to recognize intelligent causation we must establish that one from a range of competing possibilities was actualized, determine which possibilities were excluded, and then specify the possibility that was actualized. What’s more, the competing possibilities that were excluded must be live possibilities, sufficiently numerous so that specifying the possibility that was actualized cannot be attributed to chance. In terms of probability, this means that the possibility that was specified is highly improbable. In terms of complexity, this means that the possibility that was specified is highly complex . . . .

    To see that natural causes cannot account for CSI is straightforward. Natural causes comprise chance and necessity (cf. Jacques Monod’s book by that title). Because information presupposes contingency, necessity is by definition incapable of producing information, much less complex specified information. For there to be information there must be a multiplicity of live possibilities, one of which is actualized, and the rest of which are excluded. This is contingency. But if some outcome B is necessary given antecedent conditions A, then the probability of B given A is one, and the information in B given A is zero. If B is necessary given A, Formula (*) reduces to I(A&B) = I(A), which is to say that B contributes no new information to A. It follows that necessity is incapable of generating new information. Observe that what Eigen calls “algorithms” and “natural laws” fall under necessity . . .

    Contingency can assume only one of two forms. Either the contingency is a blind, purposeless contingency-which is chance; or it is a guided, purposeful contingency-which is intelligent causation. Since we already know that intelligent causation is capable of generating CSI (cf. section 4), let us next consider whether chance might also be capable of generating CSI. First notice that pure chance, entirely unsupplemented and left to its own devices, is incapable of generating CSI. Chance can generate complex unspecified information, and chance can generate non-complex specified information. What chance cannot generate is information that is jointly complex and specified.

    Biologists by and large do not dispute this claim. Most agree that pure chance-what Hume called the Epicurean hypothesis-does not adequately explain CSI. Jacques Monod (1972) is one of the few exceptions, arguing that the origin of life, though vastly improbable, can nonetheless be attributed to chance because of a selection effect. Just as the winner of a lottery is shocked at winning, so we are shocked to have evolved. But the lottery was bound to have a winner, and so too something was bound to have evolved. Something vastly improbable was bound to happen, and so, the fact that it happened to us (i.e., that we were selected-hence the name selection effect) does not preclude chance. This is Monod’s argument and it is fallacious. It fails utterly to come to grips with specification . . . .

    The problem here is not simply one of faulty statistical reasoning. Pure chance is also scientifically unsatisfying as an explanation of CSI. To explain CSI in terms of pure chance is no more instructive than pleading ignorance or proclaiming CSI a mystery. It is one thing to explain the occurrence of heads on a single coin toss by appealing to chance. It is quite another, as Küppers (1990, p. 59) points out, to follow Monod and take the view that “the specific sequence of the nucleotides in the DNA molecule of the first organism came about by a purely random process in the early history of the earth.” CSI cries out for explanation, and pure chance won’t do. As Richard Dawkins (1987, p. 139) correctly notes, “We can accept a certain amount of luck in our [scientific] explanations, but not too much.”

    If chance and necessity left to themselves cannot generate CSI, is it possible that chance and necessity working together might generate CSI? The answer is No. Whenever chance and necessity work together, the respective contributions of chance and necessity can be arranged sequentially. But by arranging the respective contributions of chance and necessity sequentially, it becomes clear that at no point in the sequence is CSI generated. Consider the case of trial-and-error (trial corresponds to necessity and error to chance). Once considered a crude method of problem solving, trial-and-error has so risen in the estimation of scientists that it is now regarded as the ultimate source of wisdom and creativity in nature. The probabilistic algorithms of computer science (e.g., genetic algorithms-see Forrest, 1993) all depend on trial-and-error. So too, the Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection is a trial-and-error combination in which mutation supplies the error and selection the trial. An error is committed after which a trial is made. But at no point is CSI generated.

    Natural causes are therefore incapable of generating CSI. This broad conclusion I call the Law of Conservation of Information, or LCI for short. LCI has profound implications for science. Among its corollaries are the following: (1) The CSI in a closed system of natural causes remains constant or decreases. (2) CSI cannot be generated spontaneously, originate endogenously, or organize itself (as these terms are used in origins-of-life research). (3) The CSI in a closed system of natural causes either has been in the system eternally or was at some point added exogenously (implying that the system though now closed was not always closed). (4) In particular, any closed system of natural causes that is also of finite duration received whatever CSI it contains before it became a closed system.>>
    ______________

    That was in 1998, 13 years ago.

    One would hope that objectors could have found time to excerpt what was actually said, and address it on the merits.

    That they have instead consistently strawmannised what was actually said, and its context, tells us that they do not have a cogent answer on the merits.

    That boils down to, once we see at least 500 – 1,000 bits of functionally specific, complex information, on analytical and empirical grounds, this is best explained by intelligence, rather than blind mechanical necessity and/or chance. I have used 1,000 bits as that is a threshold where the Planck time state capacity of the observed cosmos is 1 in 10^151 of the possible configs, i.e. the odds of finding ANYTHING that is deeply isolated have fallen to something that approaches 1 in 10^150. This gives teeth to the infinite monkeys analysis.

    Or, in search terms, the search of 1 in 10^150th part of a space rounds down to so superficial a look, that it is functionally equivalent to no search.

    And yet, 1,000 bits is 125 bytes or 143 7-bit ASCII characters, leaving off the usual parity check bit. That is a small amount of information for an intelligent cause to produce.

    GEM of TKI

  115. JM:

    Pardon, but your response at 107, in light of what has long since been put on the table, does not come across as a serious reply.

    In particular, you know or full well should know that when you used the term “modified” in respect of the NT text, it invites the inference that the variants reflect tampering. And, you know of should know that ill-founded assertions of tampering have been given considerable and sensationalistic publicity, starting with the Jesus Seminar and going on to the bottom feeders like Dan Brown in his novel and film, who tries to vilify the Concil of Nicea and Constantine. [Onlookers, kindly cf here for my slide show summary of 1,000's of pages of research on the relevant subjects. BTW, when JM complained above of 5,000 words, did it ever cross his mind that that may be a summary of 5,000++ pages of research, reading and analysis, not to mention serious dialogue and debates?]

    You also know or full well should know that the state of the case on textual criticism of the NT is precisely as SB has described: no doctrinally or historically substantial matter is in question, there are two or three well-known passages of at most a few sentences that are questioned (and there are reasonable answers on the texts: Mk 16 may be original, or it may be a rounding off appendix put in early in the life of the text, 1 Jn 5 was a marginal comment that got incorporated into the text but makes no difference to the foundation of Biblical theology. BTW, that seems to be the likeliest explanation of the controversial text in Josephus, too. the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery may or may not belong to Jn but is plainly historically authentic.)

    Going beyond textual authenticity to accuracy, you know or should know, that the Lk-Ac historical backbone to the NT has been abundantly vindicated, for over 100 years now, starting with Ramsay; who set out to disprove it.

    When you go on to compare the NT and the history of the life of Jesus and the rise of the church to Hubbard and Dianetics, that tells me that you are not serious, but are simply being dismissively hyperskeptical, on Sagan’s blunder: extraordinary [to me . . . closed mindedness and question-begging enter here] claims require extraordinary [ADEQUATE] evidence.

    And, I need not point out particular documents that you are treating differently, you are playing games with the well-established grounds for evaluating historical and forensic evidence, which I have linked on and explained in adequate details above.

    What I can do is challenge you: do you or do you not accept the general history of say the Peloponnesian war, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and his successors such as Tiberius and Nero down to Diocletian?

    If you say yes, then at once the selective hyperskepticism stands nakedly revelaed.

    If you say no, then at once it still stands revealed,a s you operate in a culture where such history is long since generally understood to be well warranted in the overall pattern [despite debates on details], So, your latterday rejection of such would obviously be driven by desire to dismiss the NT. And, it would expose you as a crank.

    So, let’s cut to the chase, the minimal facts surrounding the events that underlie the 55 AD text in 1 Cor 15:1 – 11, which credibly traces to meetings in 35 – 38 and 48/9, in Jerusalem and on testimony of 500+ eyewitnesses to events of c 30 AD, waaaay too short for legendary distortions; and a testimony so strong that the only semi-effective responses were bribery, slander, whips and fire and sword.

    Habermas and others have surveyed academic opinion across the spectrum, and find the following to be the majority to overwhelming consensus view as accurate, authentic on the ground C1 fact:

    ____________

    >> 1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
    2. He was buried.
    3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
    4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).
    5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).
    6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.
    7. The resurrection was the central message.
    8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
    9. The Church was born and grew.
    10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
    11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).
    12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic). [Cf. Habermas' paper here.]>>
    _____________

    the issue is, what historical explanation best explains these facts — to reject them, you would have to find good grounds for dismissing the scholarly consensus or overwhelming majority view across the spectrum — and so commends itself to us as sound history?

    The astonishing birth, rise and success of the church in the teeth of both Jewish and Greek-Roman objection and opposition up to and including fire and sword, tells us the historic explanation: 1 Cor 15:1 – 11 tells us the plain truth. In recent centuries a welter of skeptical dismissive counter-explanations were advanced, but have deservedly fallen by the wayside. today’s favourite tactics, are to try to allege myths and fabrications centuries later [at popular levels] and at more serious levels, to suggest “visions,” i.e mass delusions. The former of these is nonsense, and the second runs into the problems that:

    (a)that is not how subjective visions work,

    (b) it still does not explain the missing body and empty tomb,

    (c) it fails to explain the rise of the church in the face of the opposition in Jerusalem and elsewhere at the hands of competent authorities who would have known the facts,

    (d) it does not account for the conversion of James and especially Saul, sword of the Sanhedrin,

    (e) it cannot account for 2,000 years of manifested miraculous life transforming power in the name of Jesus with MILLIONS of cases in point.

    In short, the explanation that best accounts for the facts cuts clean across the anti-supernaturalist prejudices and skepticism of our day. Unfortunately, in too many minds, that simply means, so much the worse for the inconvenient facts. So, they closed-mindedly and blatantly beg the question and willfully chose inferior explanations that patently cannot fit the historically — apart from antisupernatural prejudice — credible facts.

    Enough on the side issue relative to the main focus of this blog. (though, the issues go to the heart of the problem of worldview level evolutionary materialism driven closed mindedness, which is also at the heart of the problem with origins science. )

    Later . . .

    GEM of TKI

  116. KF @ 113,

    Beautiful post.

  117. F/N: I observe that JM has focussd on the NT questions, and has so far not responded — since responses were posted, it does not look like a moderation delay — on the main set of origins and worldview roots issues addressed from 97 on, and with a point to point response to his earlier remarks, in 99 – 100 on my questions a to e.

    Let us await his onward response.

    In the meanwhile, I see in 96, he has issued a challenge for God to communicate with him with a specific message. Apparently, he is unaware of the warning in the story of Lazarus and Dives that such a specific personal message is not on the cards, given that there is already a sufficient message there, the sign of Jonah; resurrection from the dead, leading onwards to the Spirit poured out in miraculous, life-transforming power and with the historically well warranted record to communicate to us in the here and now.

    Jesus’ warning was that if one would not heed the authentic, written testimony, s/he would not believe one risen from the dead. (Which is precisely what happened in C1 and continues to C21.)

    So, instead of an attempted prophetic revelation of the secrets of men’s hearts, I will point out that there is more than enough evidence that is acessible, and that the question is not God proving himself to us, but us revealing the inner councils and intents of our hearts by how we respond to the evidence we already have. On this, the apostle is quite plain:

    Rom 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse . . . . 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done . . . .

    Rom 2:6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[e] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

    Those are strong words, but that is the counsel of the apostles. the question, then, is whether we respond to the testimony of the cosmos around us and our minds and consciences within, that point to God as the grounding reality of the world and of our own existence. Beyond that, do we heed the candle within, of conscience guided by right reason? After that, do we seek to heed counsels of authentic prophets and the sign of Jonah?

    If not, John Locke has a few choice words, from the intro section 5 of his essay on human understanding:

    _____________

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

    I think we all need to pause and reflect soberly on what we are about in this thread.

    Obviously, if there is no credible evidence form the world witrhout and the inner light within, that points to God, then we have nothing to dear from such texts. But, if there is, and rejecters are forced to resort to closed minded question-begging dismissive tactics to suppress that testimony, then that is a first sign that something is seriously amiss.

    GEM of TKI

  118. F/N 2: Let us hear, yet again, what Lewontin had to say, c. 1997:

    _________________

    >> To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

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

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.] >>
    _________________

    A sobering confession, in light of the above.

  119. RF/N 3: In 360 BC, Plato knew better, as we may read in his The Laws, Bk X:

    ________________

    >> [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . . >>
    _________________

    We can hardly claim to lack adequate warning and evidence, methinks.

  120. jurassicmac, your random number ‘experiment’ reminds me of this ‘God’s got Your Number’ miracle:

    A musician and inspirational speaker, one day Ken was traveling with his family to his next concert. Contemplating giving up the road, he was growing weary of singing the same songs and repeating the same message.

    As Gaub shares in his book God’s Got Your Number, while the rest of his group went to dinner he stayed on the tour bus to think and pray about his future. After awhile he decided to get a drink at the gas station down the road.

    As he walked across the parking lot to the station a nearby payphone began to ring. Since no one was around he decided to answer the ringing phone, and seconds later his life was changed forever.

    On the other end of the line was an operator who said, “Person-to-person call for Ken Gaub.” In complete shock Ken told her, “That’s impossible.” Sure he was the victim of an elaborate prank, he looked around for cameras. “How in the world did you reach me here? I was walking down the road, the pay phone started ringing, and I just answered it on chance.”

    The operator continued, “Is this Ken Gaub.” He assured her that it was. At that point the operator connected him to a woman who was ready to commit suicide.

    He listened as this woman poured her heart out to him, telling him that she told God she needed a miracle if he didn’t want her to end her own life. She explained that one day she had seen Gaub on television, and his words provided tremendous comfort and she was desperate to talk to him in person.

    Suddenly she saw a series of numbers in her mind and dialed them, thinking maybe she had reached his West Coast office. Instead she found out she had been connected to a phone booth alongside a gas station in Ohio.

    Both of them immediately realized a miracle had happened; evidence for Ken of God’s call and evidence for her of God’s love.

    We don’t often receive such clear cut verification that our prayers are heard and that God’s presence is real. But sometimes moments are emblazoned with the hand of God in a way we can’t help but recognize.

    Most of the time the divine presence is more subtle, yet just as real. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning reminds us,

    Earth’s crammed with heaven,

    And every common bush afire with God;

    But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,

    The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

    http://www.articlesbase.com/sp.....53498.html

  121. Jurassicmac,

    I’ll quote you since the post is so far up the page:

    There are innumerable types of evidence that would make me provisionally accept the existence of God, so I’ll pick just one type for now. For simplicity’s sake I’ll list what would convince me of the Christian God. (I can’t really say what evidence would convince of ‘a’ god, a generic undefined God, because without specific claims to test, how would one even go about looking for evidence?)

    Most Christians agree that God is omniscient, and that he can communicate with humans in some way. Some Christians maintain that they can hear God as an audible voice, but far more would say something like God ‘leads’ or ‘guides’ them; at the very least, being omnipotent, if God has an important message to convey, he can do it. Pastors often talk about having God ‘speak through them.’ Another thing that is nearly universally agreed upon is that God wants everyone to know him and to trust in him. Obviously, accepting the proposition that He exists is a prerequisite for that.
    Also, God is a personal being, with a will, desires, and ability to think and reason.

    With those things established, we get to one example of one of the types of evidence I would accept. Here’s the simplest way to say it: The standard of evidence I would accept for the existence of God is no more or no less than I would accept for the existence of any real person, with two minor exceptions: Since God is incorporeal in some sense, I would not expect to be able to touch Him or take a blood sample or some such nonsense as that. Also, I would not expect to be able to hear him directly for two reasons: obviously being incorporeal, He would not be able to emit sound waves, and many (but not all) Christians maintain that God mainly speaks to his followers. (being an ex-follower, I would not fit that bill) So essentially, I would be willing to accept slightly less evidence for the existence of God than I would for the existence of a fellow human being, because with the human I would have a reasonable expectation of being able to see them (in at least a photograph if not in person), or if they were in a far away locale, to converse with them on a telephone.

    So in fairness, I could not demand a different kind of evidence for God then I could demand for a living human (who we’ll cal Mr. X) whom I hand no physical access to, and whom I had only one way communication with (I could send messages to him, but could not receive messages directly from him.) But of course, others who knew him could receive the messages. (For the sake of this thought experiment, the channel of communication is completely secure, no one could possibly intercept my message to him.)

    So the claim is: There is a person, Mr. X, who exists, can receive secure messages from you, who can communicate directly with his associates who you have direct access to, and he has a desire that you believe he exists.

    So, how would I test that particular claim? Easy. I could send him a very specific message, one that would be impossible to guess by an outside party. I would then ask those who claim to know him what that message was. If they could recite the message, the existence of Mr. X would be confirmed. If they made excuses as to why Mr. X didn’t wan’t to be tested, or they said they couldn’t hear him because I ‘didn’t believe’, my skepticism would rightfully remain intact.

    How does this apply to God? Four months back, I used a random number generator to output a series of alphanumeric characters, which I then wrote down and and carefully sealed in manilla coin envelopes, which I keep on my person at all times. (I have three copies, all with different sequences) I mixed them up, so I don’t know which folder contains which sequence; not that I would remember anyways. ( I can’t remember my wife’s cell phone number, let alone a random string of characters.)

    So, since God is omniscient He knows what is written in each folder, and no one else does, including me. (not even deep in my subconscious) A Christian who is in close relationship should be able to receive the sequence from God, and recite it to me because God, if He exists, can read my mind, and therefore would know that this truly would convince me. (That’s why I went through the trouble of preparing the envelopes in the first place; I thought long an hard about what would convince me) He therefore would have no reason not to participate.

    I usually get two immediate responses. One is that it is somehow and ‘unreasonable’ expectation. I don’t buy this; as I pointed out, it is actually less evidence than I would require for the existence of another human. The second is that “God doesn’t like to be tested” to which I usually reply: “You mean the God of the Bible? That God? The one who in Malachi 3:10 says:

    Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

    Now, if you weren’t talking about the God of the Bible (the primary deity of interest here, it seems) then that’s a different conversation.

    Is my standard of evidence unreasonable? If so, why? If not, would anyone care to post the characters God has revealed to them? I’ll record the opening of the envelope and post it for all to see.

    Anyway, that’s one type of evidence that would convince me.

    Well, as is often the case, I seem to be a little late to the party, but I’ll set my dish on the table for this potluck anyway . . .

    You say the evidence for God that you would accept is no more or less than for any real person, though you go on to say you’d accept slightly less evidence than for a person. You make it sound not quite like you are bending over backwards, but at least leaning back a little bit, do you not? I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t flatter yourself like that. I’ll let you know why below.

    You then go on to explain about your random number test—and that’s what it is, a test, as you point out—in which you wait for God to reveal through some of His “associates” what those numbers are. This simply boils down to seeking a miracle, which I think is fine. After all, we’re talking about God.

    You say that it shouldn’t be unreasonable to test God as He has himself given people a challenge in the past to do so. I could say, “well, that was just for a specific thing” (and be right), but then there are examples of this (essentially the same thing) in the NT as well such as when Paul in 1 Cor. 15 appeals to the Corinthians to check his story out, and in Acts 17 where the Berean’s are praised for checking out what Paul was telling them.

    You wrap up by saying, “Is my standard of evidence unreasonable?” And to this I must say, yes.

    You say that you would accept the same evidence that you would accept for another person, indeed a little less. But undoubtedly you believe in many people whom you only have evidence for through books and writings by and about them. And in this case there happens to be a Book, a compilation of 66 in fact, both of and about God. It’s as if God couldn’t have made it more plain or simple. God, GOD!!! used the most common way of dispensing knowledge among us so that we couldn’t miss it! I pity the poor atheist that can come up with enough courage to ask God on the day that they meet Him why He didn’t make Himself more plain. God will say, “I wrote a bestseller!”

    You want a private miracle, too, but the Book that contains the evidence of the existence of God, which by your own standards you should be required to accept, has a miracle that far outdoes the random number test, and many, many more! So let me ask you: Why should God come and pander to your petty little request when He has done so much greater already??? THINK ABOUT THAT!

    Sorry for the caps, but seriously, think about that. I’ll make a frank confession. One of the things that makes me the most borderline insane is when my wife worries about some things because, to me, it just shouts that she is totally disregarding my trustworthiness up to that point in taking care of and providing for our needs. I am, however, quite imperfect. God is not. I would think that your position in relation to God is essentially the same as the one that my wife (infrequently, but sometimes) exhibits towards me. I would think that it makes God quite unhappy too.

    So, do you see why I say I think you shouldn’t flatter yourself that you are “leaning” backwards in your requirements for the evidence of God’s existence? You have outlined a stance that paints you in a very awkward position, yes, but “bending over backards”? No.

  122. 122

    bornagain11 @ 120

    It would be similar to my experiment (not sure why the quotes are needed) if it were true, and if it were verifiable. Your example does raise an objection to those who would say my standard of evidence is unreasonable. Apparently, that kind of supernatural confirmation happens often.

    kairosfocus@ 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 105, 115, 117, 118, 119…

    Seriously dude, your posts are probably north of ten thousand words, with dozens upon dozens of questions/comments. I love conversing with you (you are thoughtful, polite, and thorough) but I can’t make this a full time gig :-)

    Perhaps you could whittle it down to 5-10 questions/comments at a time?

  123. jurassicmac @ 9,

    (First, sorry to go way back to an early post and discussion but I wanted to comment)

    Simply put you are wrong. What you are describing (the simple lack of faith or belief in the existence of God) is not atheism it is agnosticism. Atheism is an active belief- a certain faith, that there is no God without truly knowing this for sure with certainty. Agnosticism is clearly what you are describing in that it is essentially a vacuous position on the existence of God- that is one would have no faith that God exists because they have no reason to think he exists. But this is different than atheism because true agnostics don’t militantly argue against God’s existence because they don’t know whether God exists or not, and hence they recognize that arguing against God’s existence would be to argue FOR a position they themselves do not hold.

    Think of it in terms of a sporting event. The Theist thinks their team will win the game. The atheist thinks that same team will surely loose the game. The agnostic has no belief concerning the games outcome either way.

    In your Bigfoot example- if someone believes Bigfoot exists that formally be anological to the Theist position. If someone was not convinced either way concerning Bigfoot’s existence that would be akin to the agnostic position- and if someone was convinced Bigfoot does not exist that would be the atheist position.

    Of course, I think God exists and that Bigfoot (most probably) does not.

    No offense, but this is not that hard to understand.

  124. It makes no sense to claim to be an atheist and that it only means a lack of belief because atheism means “without God”. As I said earlier, claiming to be an atheist necessarily means to affirm that atheism is true, i.e., God does not exist.

    I think that atheist can be used in a way that only means “without”, or “lacking”, God, but when one says of themselves that they are an atheist, it can only mean that they are affirming that atheism is true, and the “is true” part is where the positive assertion comes in.

    All that said, I do think that there are many truly confused “atheists” out there who really should call themselves agnostics. Sure, they may only mean that they personally are “without God”, but if they are not dogmatic about claiming God does not exist, they’d better take up the moniker of agnostic and leave atheist to those who make no bones about the supposed non-existence of God.

  125. Clive Hayden [109]

    You don’t lack the belief God doesn’t exist, you believe that God doesn’t exist. You have an opinion, and that is a belief.

    I used to find it supremely amusing how often I’m told what I believe, but the novelty is wearing off. I will muster up all my linguistic abilities to try and say this as simply and clearly as possible:

    I do not believe that God does not exist.

    I don’t know any better way to communicate that. If I were to say, as Clive puts it, “I believe God does not exist,” that would be inaccurate; it is not a reflection of my position. What more can I say to explain my view? The only possible way I could amend that statement is to throw a ‘probably’ in there somewhere; I could say that “I think that God probably doesn’t exist.” Saying I think Bigfoot probably does not exist is not the same thing as saying I am certain Bigfoot does not exist. One is pointing out a lack of positive belief, one is making a claim of absolute knowledge.

    Frost122585 [123]

    In your Bigfoot example- if someone believes Bigfoot exists that formally be anological to the Theist position. If someone was not convinced either way concerning Bigfoot’s existence that would be akin to the agnostic position- and if someone was convinced Bigfoot does not exist that would be the atheist position.

    No. No, no, no, no, no. Please invest 30 seconds in looking up ‘agnostic’ in a dictionary, any dictionary. An agnostic is not someone who simply does not have a belief one way or another. An agnostic is someone who believes that it is not knowable whether something Is true or not. I am not an agnostic with regards to God; I think it would be in principle knowable, if He existed.

    Frost122585 [123]

    Atheism is an active belief- a certain faith, that there is no God without truly knowing this for sure with certainty.

    That doesn’t even begin to make sense.

    Now it would be one thing if you guys said to me “Jurassicmac, you’re using the word ‘atheist’ improperly,” but that’s not what’s happening. You’re telling me what I ‘actually’ think. I can assure you, that none of you knows what I think better than I do.

    Obviously a impairment to conversation is that we don’t agree on the meaning of the word. Simple enough. For purposes of conversation, let’s use a different word, and assign an agreed upon meaning to it. I am a non-theist, one who does not believe that God exists, but is also not certain that he doesn’t. (again, this does not make me an agnostic, because I don’t claim that knowing whether God exist or is impossible from the outset)

    Everyone happy? Can we move on?

  126. And remember, just because you don’t see a response from me, doesn’t mean I haven’t responded. If I can get back on the whitelist of commenters, I promise to always be as courteous and polite as possible.

  127. 127

    Brent at [121]

    thanks for the response. I will try to be delicate in dismantling it. :-)

    You say the evidence for God that you would accept is no more or less than for any real person, though you go on to say you’d accept slightly less evidence than for a person. You make it sound not quite like you are bending over backwards, but at least leaning back a little bit, do you not? I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t flatter yourself like that.

    A common theme here is attributing words and attitudes to me that I’ve never expressed. I simply don’t know how you got that I was ‘flattering’ myself. I was asked what kind of evidence I would accept, and I made an effort to even explain why I would accept it.

    You then go on to explain about your random number test—and that’s what it is, a test, as you point out—in which you wait for God to reveal through some of His “associates” what those numbers are. This simply boils down to seeking a miracle, which I think is fine. After all, we’re talking about God.

    O.k., you think this is fine, by which it seems like you mean ‘reasonable’. I agree.

    You say that it shouldn’t be unreasonable to test God as He has himself given people a challenge in the past to do so. I could say, “well, that was just for a specific thing” (and be right), but then there are examples of this (essentially the same thing) in the NT as well such as when Paul in 1 Cor. 15 appeals to the Corinthians to check his story out, and in Acts 17 where the Berean’s are praised for checking out what Paul was telling them.

    Again, good so far. Verifying claims is a good thing. Agree completely.

    You wrap up by saying, “Is my standard of evidence unreasonable?” And to this I must say, yes.

    You seem to have suddenly changed your mind, but I missed where.

    You say that you would accept the same evidence that you would accept for another person, indeed a little less. But undoubtedly you believe in many people whom you only have evidence for through books and writings by and about them.

    Here’s where your argument breaks down. The question that you asked me, essentially “What evidence would convince you,” explicitly presumes that I’m not already convinced, that I harbor doubts for some reason or another. If it were the case with any other individual person that I doubted their existence, I can assure you that books about them or ‘by’ them alone would not convince me. There are many books about fictional characters, there are many books ‘by’ fictional characters. (by which the words of the book are said to be those of a fictional character, even though they’re transcribed by another.)

    And in this case there happens to be a Book, a compilation of 66 in fact, both of and about God.

    Like I said, there are books of and about fictional characters. I hope it’s not patronizing to point out that this is not evidence.

    It’s as if God couldn’t have made it more plain or simple. God, GOD!!! used the most common way of dispensing knowledge among us so that we couldn’t miss it!

    Actually, writing is nowhere near the most common way of dispensing knowledge in a historical context. The vast majority of people who have ever lived have been illiterate. And I beg to differ. God could have made it more simple, and in fact he supposedly used to, but stopped for some reason. He used to appear directly to humans and converse in person. He used to perform dramatic miracles on request often. (again, according to scripture)

    I pity the poor atheist that can come up with enough courage to ask God on the day that they meet Him why He didn’t make Himself more plain. God will say, “I wrote a bestseller!”

    A muslim may pity the poor Christian who can come up with enough courage to ask Allah on the day that they meet Him why He didn’t make himself more plain. Allah will say, “I wrote a bestseller too! (and not only that -was it not blindingly obvious that my followers were an order of magnitude more devout? )”

    You want a private miracle, too,

    You say that as if it’s unreasonable, even though you said just a few paragraphs earlier that “This simply boils down to seeking a miracle, which I think is fine. After all, we’re talking about God.” Is it ok to seek a miracle, or isn’t it. If not, why not?

    …but the Book that contains the evidence of the existence of God, which by your own standards you should be required to accept,

    My own standards do not require me to accept as evidence things I find in a book. (Where in the world are you are you getting this?)

    …has a miracle that far outdoes the random number test, and many, many more!

    No, it has claims of miracle that far outdoes my random number test. But so do the Quran, the Book of Mormon, and many other books. I presume you don’t accept the miracle claims of these books, yet I’m the one who’s called inconsistent and selective.

    So let me askyou: Why should God come and pander to your petty little request when He has done so much greater already??? THINK ABOUT THAT!

    For the love of- I’m not claiming that He should! I’m answering your question: “What would it take to convince you?”

    I could ask you an equally valid question: “Why shouldn’t God fulfill my ‘request’? If he actually has done so much greater already, It shouldn’t require a great deal of effort.

    Sorry for the caps, but seriously, think about that. I’ll make a frank confession. One of the things that makes me the most borderline insane is when my wife worries about some things because, to me, it just shouts that she is totally disregarding my trustworthiness up to that point in taking care of and providing for our needs.

    That is an issue for a marriage counselor; I don’t see how it relates to the subject at hand.

    I am, however, quite imperfect. God is not. I would think that your position in relation to God is essentially the same as the one that my wife (infrequently, but sometimes) exhibits towards me.

    I would think that it makes God quite unhappy too.

    You’re asserting that, not demonstrating it. Remember, this whole conversation is based around the premise that I’m not convinced that God even exists, let alone that He has certain attributes.

    So, do you see why I say I think you shouldn’t flatter yourself that you are “leaning” backwards in your requirements for the evidence of God’s existence? You have outlined a stance that paints you in a very awkward position, yes, but “bending over backards”? No.

    No I don’t see why you say you think I shouldn’t flatter myself that I am leaning backwards, because again, I never said that!

    Read my post one more time. Someone claims to you that Mr. X exists, that he can receive communications from you, that they can receive communications from him, and he has a strong desire that you are convinced of his existence. You then propose a test of his existence that takes all those claims into account. Before you even have a chance to carry out the test, the adherents start trying to explain why the test won’t work. “Mr. X doesn’t like to be tested,” (even though He’s often requested to be tested) or “Why should Mr. X demonstrate his existence to you?” (Uh, I thought you said he had both the capability and the desire to) “If the stories you’ve already heard (written by Mr. X, no doubt) don’t convince you, then confirming his existence in an empirical way sure won’t” If you heard objections like that, would skepticism wane? It shouldn’t. Actually, the hesitancy of the adherents to have their claims tested in a direct manner should increase your skepticism, if anything. You might think them a little kooky, if not deluded.

    I’m sorry, but you have not explained why my experiment, which would be valid in determining the existence of a human, is unreasonable in determining the existence of another being. You also have not presented a single argument here that doesn’t also apply to almost every other religious claim.

  128. 128

    Jurrasicmac,

    I do not believe that God does not exist.

    This is a double negative, so you do believe that God exists then.

  129. I said:

    I do not believe that God does not exist.

    Clive Hayden:

    This is a double negative, so you do believe that God exists then.

    No. I can’t understand why sentences with the word ‘God’ are treated so inconsistently from the rest of the English language.

    Saying “I do not disagree” (which has two negatives, [do not] and [dis]) does not necessarily mean the same thing as “I agree.” It can (and often does) mean simply: “I don’t have enough information to say that you are certainly right, nor enough to say that you are certainly wrong.”

    Sometimes, the use of a second negative can act as an intensifier to a negation. So, a ‘double-negative’ does not always resolve into a positive.

    The two negatives in the sentence “I am not at a disadvantage,” do not cancel out to mean “I am at an advantage.

    The statement “I believe there is no God,” is a positive claim; akin to saying “I believe that there is not a fork in that drawer.” It is a claim of knowledge. Stating that you do not possess such knowledge does not mean that you believe the opposite; someone who had not inspected the drawer, when asked if they believed there was no fork inside, (a positive claim) may properly respond: “No, I do not believe there is no fork in the drawer.” They may elaborate by adding; “because I have not inspected the drawer, I can not make such a claim,” but the meaning of the original sentence is clear enough. For most people, at least.

    So in that exact same way, saying “I do not believe there is no God,” does not resolve into “I believe there is a God,” any more than “I do not believe there is no fork,” resolves into “I do believe there is a fork.” It is simply a way of saying “I do not claim to know that God does not exist.”

    Please pardon me for being repetitive, but this seems to be a serious area of contention. I’m just trying to be as thorough as possible. This is no longer a discussion about the meaning of the word ‘atheist’, it is about English grammar.

    Saying “I don’t believe Bigfoot exists,” Is not the same thing as saying “I believe Bigfoot does not exist.” The former is expressing uncertainty, the latter, certainty. There is no reason, in principle, to not believe that there is an as-of-yet undiscovered primate somewhere in the world. It falls completely within the realm of possibility. It would then be inaccurate to say “I believe that no such creature as Bigfoot exists.” However, I have not seen convincing evidence that Bigfoot exists. There is evidence , just none that is convincing to me, personally. I don’t have a different standard of evidence for establishing the existence of an unknown primate as I would an unknown amphibian or an unknown beetle. Since there is no particular reason to disbelieve in Bigfoot, and no particular reason to believe, it is accurate to say “I do not believe in Bigfoot.”

    I also do not believe intelligent aliens have visited earth, but I would not say that I believe they have not; there is no way I could possibly know that.

    Again, not believing in the existence of something isn’t the same as believing the nonexistence of it.

    And to be perfectly clear, I am not making the claim that no atheist believes that God does not exist with absolute 100% certainty. Some do, I’m sure. Most though would never say they are certain of His onexistence, not even Dawkins. Certainly not me.

    If I have been unclear or unconvincing, tell me which part.

  130. Jurrasicmac,

    A common theme here is attributing words and attitudes to me that I’ve never expressed. I simply don’t know how you got that I was ‘flattering’ myself. I was asked what kind of evidence I would accept, and I made an effort to even explain why I would accept it.

    What I said was, “you make it sound like . . .”, which makes it clear that it came across as implicit in how you wrote your reply. Whether you feel you are flattering yourself or not, I doubt I’m the only one who would think that’s what was being conveyed. You certainly think you are being “more than fair”, do you not?

    Please realize that people tend to pick up on other’s thoughts and feelings from what they write. If someone has picked up the wrong “vibe”, explain and correct, but just saying, “I never said . . .” doesn’t necessarily exculpate you, or anyone else.

    Now, the implicit is also what you missed in my rebuttal to your initial reply.

    You note that we agree that seeking a miracle is reasonable, and that verifying claims is good, but that you therefore cannot understand my position that you are being unreasonable. You say, “I missed” where you changed your mind.

    Well, it should be pretty obvious that my point is that both the miraculous and verifiability of God have already presented themselves to you and the world. You are fine in expecting God to both give signs for His existence and miracles to prove He’s more than a man. But to ask for and expect these things when He has already given ample evidence is unreasonable.

    And this is where it dovetails with my story about my (great) wife. Thanks for your concern over my marriage, lol. But to not discern the connection I was portraying is almost troubling. It’s simple, but I’ll explain it anyway.

    If my wife suddenly starts to worry that we’re not going to be able to meet our financial obligations, put food on the table, or whatever, it cuts at the heart of my trustworthiness and providence up to that point, whether months or years. But, what am I to do? Say, “don’t worry, I really, really promise to not let you down”? But she is already implying with her worry that she doesn’t trust me, so why would she trust my words? The only thing that makes sense is to point her back to the months and years before where I was able to meet our needs. If she won’t accept that, there is nothing I can do, or would really want to do, either. If she disregards what was done before, she is being unreasonable, NOT ME!

    Now hopefully you can get what I’m implying already, but I’ll explain a little further in case you don’t. Your situation is exactly the same. You are asking God to do something super special to help you to trust Him, to believe in Him, but He has already done everything reasonable to help you do so. If you don’t accept that, it is your problem. You are the one who is being unreasonable, NOT GOD! He is not going to “bend over backwards” . . . yet again!

    You also, apparently (i.e., I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt), missed the implicit in my argument that books are enough to believe in other historical figures without further proof, so it should be enough for God as well. You rebut this by saying that there are books that you do not accept the character(s) or “author(s)” as real. That has no bearing on the fact that there are other books where you do accept the historicity of the character(s) and author(s). The implicit point is, it’s enough; it’s sufficient. Did you really think that I meant that since something is written in a book that one has to accept it as true? I doubt that you did.

    With that said, see Kairosfocus and other’s responses above as to the reliability of the Bible. Look up Gary Habermas and contemplate his arguments from critical scholars, where he makes the case from only what even critics must admit as credible.

    Please also check out this video. It’s short, and I wish for you to pay attention to everything that is said. There happen to be a couple of lines especially that I’d like you to hear and hope they cause you to ponder.

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