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Holy Rollers, Pascal’s Wager, If ID is wrong it was an honest mistake

A scandalous documentary about Christian gamblers was released in 2012 with me listed in the credits. :-)

The documentary is about a group of Christians, the Holy Rollers, that took the casinos for 3.5 million dollars. Myself, by comparison, I’ve accumulated a relatively paltry sum of $30,000 or so over the years. I’ve been tossed out of casinos and abused because I tried to use my brain in the casino. Casinos, like Darwinists, will say: Expelled No Intelligence Allowed!.

I took Turtle Creek Casino in Michigan for $6,000 before they illegally backroomed me. Similarly, I was forcibly escorted out of Hollywood Tunica (thankfully Hollywood got sued for $729,000 for pulling such stunts on other honest players like myself in an illegal way). My photo was then circulated to various casinos via the S.I.N. network:

American casinos refer to these local agreements they have with each other to immediately fax information on suspicious or undesirable players as a S.I.N. (Surveillance Information Network), an appropriate acronym.

I then started wearing quasi disguises and countermeasures to foil the S.I.N network and Facial Recognition Systems. My favorite quasi disguise was the pimp look. Unfortunately, my pimp persona got busted, and the casinos started circulating photos on the S.I.N. Network of me in my pimp outfit…I was walking into casinos, and they were already waiting for me. I had to call it quits…

And as somewhat documented in Lauren Sandler’s book Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement in the course of my casino adventures, I was pulled over for suspected drug trafficking which I described at UD in 2006 New Face of Evangelical Christianity

She reported that I pay my bills by playing cards. Well, I did not say that, but I did tell her over dinner that I won about $1,400 over the previous few weekends when I visited the casinos. She kidded me that it was rent money, but that was her perception, and it was nothing I said seriously.

She reported that I traveled to upstate New York for a card game after an IDEA meeting. That was true. But she missed the really juicy part of the story. After visiting the casino, I was put under arrest for 45 minutes by state troopers and border patrols for suspected drug trafficking up near Akwesasne, New York. About 8 squad cars descended on me. That was really cool. They released me after they determined I was just a harmless tourist….

Apparently the police thought I completed a drug deal at the casino. Come to think of it, some guy with a Mowhawk and lots of jewelry was at my table betting $400 a hand….

But my casino adventures pale in comparison to the accomplishment of my dear friend and mentor Michael Canjar professor of mathematics. He took Turtle Creek for $60,000 before they showed him the door. Canjar’s total winnings were around $250,000, a large portion of which was donated to charity…

Canjar was professor at a Catholic school in Detroit, and he managed to even recruit one of the nuns and other professors in his holy crusade against the evil casinos. Canjar reminds me of Father Fahey:

BOSTON — When the Rev. Joseph Fahey sat at the blackjack tables, he once said, it was “all for the greater glory of God.”

The Rev. Fahey, assistant for finance of the New England province for the Jesuit order, donated tens of thousands of dollars to his order with the help of card counting — the same skills that landed him on blacklists at casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J.

Card counting involves keeping track of the proportion of high and low cards as cards are dealt from a deck.

The Rev. Fahey died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 65.

“Many Jesuit missions owe a great debt to him and his abilities at the card table,” said John Dunn, who worked for the Rev. Fahey at Boston College High School.

As president of the school from 1988 to 1998, he boosted its endowment by 500 percent, financing an athletic center, library and computer laboratory.

He had a doctorate in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was ordained a priest in 1968, and was a teacher and administrator at Holy Cross College and Boston College.

He treated Boston College students to a lesson on card counting on the last day of each semester.

But Canjar and Fahey’s crusade against the evil casinos was out done by the crusade waged by the Holy Rollers:

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Beyond the Holy Rollers there were several generations of the MIT Blackjack Team, Tommy Hyland’s Teams, Ken Uston’s Teams and others. I heard of one non-blackjack team once referred to as “punters” who supposedly made 2.5 billion, but their methods are guarded secrets…

Curiously, one skilled gambler by the name of Kevin Blackwood really likes ID:

There are many things about God and the Bible I still don’t quite comprehend, but I do believe firmly in an intelligent design behind the universe. I recommend Michael Behe’s excellent book, DARWIN’S BLACK BOX, for more information on the irreducible complexity of the universe.

How is it possible to beat a game of pure chance? It can be done if the rules of the games allow you to gain an advantage through Expectation Values (or Expected Values). The principle is known as Statistical Arbitrage.

Mathematician Blaise Pascal is considered the father of the notion of Expectation Values (or Expected Values). Pascal was a skilled gambler, and the notion of expected values was originally applied to gambling but has now found application in economics, finance, physics (particularly quantum mechanics).

Pascal is one of the most brilliant, and most tormented, figures in the history of mathematics. Forbidden by his father to study mathematics… was troubled by constant illness, including recurrent migraines and what proved to be cancer of the stomach. His various contacts with illness and death from 1646 on, and his own near death in a carriage accident late in 1654, together with the influence of a morbidly religious sister, turned him toward the Jansenist version of Catholicism. On this, his mental energies were increasingly expended.

http://www.umass.edu/wsp/statistics/tales/pascal.html

The notion of expectation values has played a role in a minor scuffle over ID. See: The Law of Large Numbers vs. Keiths, Eigenstate, and my other TSZ critics and SSDD: a 22-sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins?.

So how does this apply to ID?

If ID is wrong, it was at least an honest mistake because even Dawkins will admit, the world looks designed.

Some of the greatest scientists who have ever lived ­ including Newton, who may have been the greatest of all ­ believed in God. But it was hard to be an atheist before Darwin: the illusion of living design is so overwhelming.

Richard Dawkins
You ask the questions

But in view of expectation values, what is the better wager? Darwin or Design? To answer that question, let me make a variation of Pascal’s Wager. At a personal level, suppose one accepts ID and it turns out to be false. Suppose further that a person presumed the Intelligent Designer was God, but in the end there was no God, no ID. What is the loss? But if ID is true, and further if the Intelligent Designer is God, so much might be gained. Will you throw your soul away because of the flawed ideas of Darwin, Dennett, and Dawkins?

Even though I’m a Doubting Thomas ID-ist and creationist, despite all the pain in the world, I find it too hard to believe the universe was some mindless accident. From all that I’ve learned in the world of skillful wagering on uncertain truths (of which there are many in skilled gambling), at a personal level, as far as which wager has the most favorable expectation value, I’d take Design over Darwin any day…


[me on the Las Vegas Strip near Mandalay Bay Casino, with Luxor and Excalibur Casinos in the background]

PS

What was one of the nicest experiences in my casino adventures. One that ranks highly are the intelligently deisgned Fountains of the Bellagio Casino set to Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody:

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128 Responses to Holy Rollers, Pascal’s Wager, If ID is wrong it was an honest mistake

  1. I am impressed by your gambling exploits – less so by your understanding of Pascal’s wager. Suppose there were a designer God but he/she/it valued above all else intellectual honesty. I would be condemned to hell fire for pretending I believed in a God designer when in all honesty I don’t.

  2. Sal wrote:

    The notion of expectation values has played a role in a minor scuffle over ID.

    But not as a point of dispute.

    The dispute was over Sal’s false accusations and his failure to retract them.

  3. I am curious as to what coin tossing has to do with any supposed theory or hypothesis of “intelligent design”.

  4. I am impressed by your gambling exploits

    Thanks.

    – less so by your understanding of Pascal’s wager.

    In Casino Gambling, the distribution function (binomial in the case of blackjack), is well known, and so are the payoff tables. FWIW, the Casino wins 50% of the hands, the player 42.5% of the hands, and the rest are ties. The player is able to gain an advantage by:

    1. basic rules that allow larger payoffs on wins such as blackjack, and the famous “Double Down”

    2. using information of cards dealt to change the probability estimate of win in the binomial distribution

    in Pascal’s Wager, the distribution function and payoff table is completely unknown, however, it might be correct to say, if one supposes a distribution function and payoff table he can live his life or search for ID more consistent with his unproven (possibly wrong) distribution function. That is all that can be said, it does not make the presumed distribution function correct, but it does provide a way for measuring the consistency of one’s life against one’s beliefs.

    Suppose there were a designer God but he/she/it valued above all else intellectual honesty. I would be condemned to hell fire for pretending I believed in a God designer when in all honesty I don’t.

    I accept you honestly don’t believe. I’m sorry I have no good answers for where you are in your beliefs. I do thank you for taking the time to read over the years what ID proponents have offered. You’ve given us a good share of your personal time.

    If its not too personal, and because I want to understand, not condemn, if you believe there is no God, why spend time debating ID proponents? For myself, if I believed there was no God, I’d probably be out there partying or something more enjoyable than the shouting matches on the net, spending time arguing with people (ID proponents and creationists) who are presumably deluded.

    I don’t believe in astrology, but I don’t spend time arguing with astrologists. Not to offend those of other faiths, I’m a Presbyterian, but I don’t go around arguing with those from other denominations.

    If there is no God and Darwinian evolution is true, I don’t understand why there is a crusade to crush ID except maybe if one is an evolutionary biologist and his paychecks are in jeopardy. The irony is on the net, and in popular culture, evolutionary biologists don’t show up to debate nearly as much as I would expect. In Louisianna, its Zack Koplin, and freshman history major.

    I cited John Hartnett, John Sanford, Ben Carson as examples of the irrelevance in my opinion of evolutionary theory to operational practice. Even if ID is wrong, it doesn’t seem to have done much to hinder scientific progress, contrary to the claims of some, it only has made evolutionary biologists (who can’t even resolve their phylogenetic trees) a little frustrated.

    Suppose there were a designer God but he/she/it valued above all else intellectual honesty. I would be condemned to hell fire for pretending I believed in a God designer when in all honesty I don’t.

    I have no answer, but perhaps that’s why I posted this essay, in the hope maybe someone might reconsider and be saved from hellfire. If people, after reading ID literature, still decide they honestly don’t believe, then at least my conscience is clear that I tried. In some forms of Christian theology, belief in God is ultimately through grace, not reason. May God’s grace be upon you.

    Sal

  5. If someone asked me why I spend time on the net arguing ID, it is in part because I’ve had doubt about its truthfulness. The process of debate has reassured me of some ideas, cast doubt on others, and falsified still others.

    The net has been a public diary of my search for truth…

    Right now, I find it personally difficult to think the universe and life were mindless accidents. I don’t think Darwinian evolution is true, and I don’t have reason to believe OOL will ever be solved.

  6. I am curious as to what coin tossing has to do with any supposed theory or hypothesis of “intelligent design”.

    It illustrates the ability to reject the chance hypothesis. No free lunch theorems show on average Darwinian Evolution should not do better than the chance hypothesis on average. Population and neutral evolution show Darwinian evolution is mostly moot since most of the genome isn’t under selection anyway.

    The coin toss example and binomial distribution was to show the chance hypothesis can be reasonably rejected in specialized cases without appeals to CSI or the formal explanatory filter. Coin toss examples have analogy to the case for design in the homochirality of biology. It is not an airtight case, but neither is it something an OOL researcher or Dariwnist should casually dismiss. It is a serious challenge to chemical evolution.

    It also has relevance to dating of the geological column based on racemic chemistry of dead proteins. Biotic material discovered is not sufficiently racemic to indicate the geological column is actually as old as claimed. The presence of C-14 in the fossils also cast doubt on the dating of the column. The binomial distribution and coin toss examples illustrate the problem of chirality in this case as well. If the geological column is young, Darwinian evolution has even less time to work, and it should be viewed as false as a result.

  7. The coin toss example and binomial distribution was to show the chance hypothesis can be reasonably rejected in specialized cases without appeals to CSI or the formal explanatory filter.

    But evolutionary theory is not a theory of pure chance. It is a reiteration of variation in the genome by “sifting” due to natural selection. But that does not answer my question. How does coin tossing advance a hypothesis of design?

  8. F/N: I should say that the answer to MF’s agument is that Pascal spoke from the perspective of a successful seeker. His point was that, were the evidence to be seen as in equipoise, on balance of expectations — and recall enough to give general balance is all that is needed — the sensible bet is that God is. Then, if one is sincerely open, one can actually personally meet God (as have millions across the ages — evidence that is unduly discounted by too many skeptics) and that is decisive. For myself I add that the further evidence is that God is a serious candidate necessary being, so on first principles of right reason including PSR, if God is possible, he is ACTUAL, and in reality the one who doubts God’s reality needs to show that a being with the NB characteristics of God is impossible. Post Plantinga’s free will defense, that is not even seriously argued. Cf here on. KF

  9. Thanks for joining the conversation Kairos Focus. From your thread I cross posted this comment: Of coin tosses, expectation…

    You’ve failed to comprehend that the probability of flipping all heads is tiny, but not zero.

    I think everyone accepts that. A better way of framing the argument is whether its an outcome worth betting on.

    From a gambling stand point, one would wager on the chance outcome unless the payoff justified it, and even then, that presumes one will have enough trials of this game to rely on the convergence to expectation. For example, in casino gambling, just because a gambler has a 3% advantage over the house in a bet, it is ill advised he wager his life savings, and the case of 500 coins it’s even more true because the “casino” the “house” has a

    1 – [(2^500-1)/(2^500)] = 99.9999999999999999999999…..%

    edge over the player. It’s not a favorable wager. There is actually a whole discipline of Kelly fraction and risk management to size ones wagers to avoid gambler’s ruin but that a whole nother topic!

    And curiously, in the case of Darwinian evolution, there isn’t any payoff anyway if the chance hypothesis (or the Darwinian variation thereof) is correct. On a philosophical grounds and at a personal level, it’s dubious that so many people stake their lives and reputations on Darwinian evolution being correct. There is no payoff, imho.

    The atheist agnostic Bertrand Russell said it well:

    Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.

    I’m grateful Darwinists show up and debate us. It’s beneficial to ID proponents that we have our ideas vetted, but what benefit is it to Darwinists to debate us. Why are the stakes so big for you guys as if your souls depended on it.

    For many ID proponents, the stake are high in that some believe in eternal life and God, but given the payoff is zero for Darwinists at the personal level if Darwin was right, why waste trying to disprove ID. It is not a rational wager, imho. You’re time in otherwords, doesn’t seem well invested in this debate unless of course you really enjoy the tortures of shouting matches.

    Correction, I think the house edge formula should be

    [1 – [(2^500-1)/(2^500)]] – [(2^500-1)/(2^500)] = 99.9999999999999999999999…..%

    which given the large numbers is almost a moot point!

  10. But evolutionary theory is not a theory of pure chance.

    But the no free lunch theorems say evolutionary theory should perform no better than the chance hypothesis, and neutral theory says it’s moot anyway since there aren’t enough population resources relative to genome size for selection to influence much of the genome anyway…

    Further, evolutionary algorithms that supposedly model evolution don’t encapsulate the legitimate issues I raised in Death of the Fittest. If they did, we might not be having this conversation…

  11. Alan Fox:

    But evolutionary theory is not a theory of pure chance.

    Sure it is. Natural selection just eliminates the weak and defincient. Despite what evos say that isn’t anything that would turn chance into anything else.

  12. F/N (footnote):

    The usual expression tracing to Darwin is chance variation plus differential reproductive success leads to descent with modification:

    CV + DRS –> DWM

    It is patent that chance is envisioned as incrementally writing the software that controls the hardware of life, step by incremental step in a branching tree pattern to form the world of life.

    Differential reproductive success is a subtraction of varieties less fit or less lucky, so it does not add info. The source of info left to us is chance variation.

    Worse, the model implies that:

    1 –> the world of life sits in a vast continent of functional forms

    2 –> forms that are incrementally traversible in a geologically and paleontologically plausible time

    3 –> by populations of plausible size in light of

    4 –> reasonable incidence of variations and

    5 –> reasonable population genetics times to fix incremental change.

    Not a single one of these is reasonable.

    Multipart function depending on well matched properly arranged and coupled parts comes in narrow islands in the space of possible configs.

    Complex code that works does not get written incrementally.

    The pop sizes and times to fix increments on the models explode the time required to say make a whale out of a cow-like creature or the like.

    And, at the root of the tree of life, there is simply no reasonable basis for a chance driven blind search of a pond or the like ending up in a viable cell based life form, no matter what intermediate steps are imagined. And that is before we get to the question of empirical evidence, which underscores the point.

    no roots, no shoots, branches, twigs or leaves.

    No wonder the pro-darwin essay challenge sits unanswered after nine months.

    KF

  13. Here is a common saying in the casino:

    What’s the difference between praying in church and praying in a casino?

    When you pray in a casino, you really mean it!

  14. But the no free lunch theorems say evolutionary theory should perform no better than the chance hypothesis

    But, as evolutionary theory is not a theory of pure chance, the comparison is not valid. Wolpert does not think Demski’s use of his NFL is at all rigorous, particularly when he relies on some of the “No-Free-Lunch (NFL) theorems” of the geometry of induction.

  15. PS let me quote Wesley Elsberry:

    Dembski’s invocation of Wolpert and Macready’s “No Free Lunch” theorem suffers from the same error as his last use of it in “Explaining Specified Complexity”. Wolpert and Macready’s results are about comparative efficiency, not essential capacity. As mentioned before, Wolpert and Macready treat all algorithms as having the capacity to solve the problem at hand on every possible cost function for that problem. The example that they give of hill-descending algorithms solving hill-climbing problems illustrates this point nicely.

    One can characterize the fitness functions which cause some evolutionary algorithm to become less efficient than other algorithms or blind search: the fitness function is “misleading”. That is, nearby candidate solutions in genetic space map to worse-performing points when evaluated by the fitness function, and thus away from the solution that would terminate the search. What Dembski needs to do is show that biological genetics instantiates such a situation. Unfortunately for Dembski, the diversity of variants of proteins which perform the same functions would tend to indicate that, in general, that the biological fitness functions do not match the relevant features of misleading cost functions.

    here

  16. Alan,

    Why can’t evolutionary algorithms solve passwords of any non-trivial length? No Free Lunch. Biology is rich with password type systems such as protein binding.

    Evolutionary algorithms solve only a limited set of problems. Darwinists falsely assume biology fits into that limited set of problems that can be solved by evolution. That’s false.

  17. Biology is rich with password type systems such as protein binding.

    Poor analogy, as is lock and key. I would agree if you said binding affinity is paramount in biological systems but binding affinity is not all-or-nothing. Any catalytic activity is better than none.

    Evolutionary algorithms solve only a limited set of problems. Darwinists falsely assume biology fits into that limited set of problems that can be solved by evolution.

    Evolutionary processes by their nature find alternative (“better”) solutions close to the current combination of alleles. You and nobody else can say anything about the richness of as-yet-unsearched space, such as catalytic activity of proteins.

  18. Oops

    “catalytic activity of novel proteins”.

  19. Sal,

    Why can’t evolutionary algorithms solve passwords of any non-trivial length? No Free Lunch.

    It has nothing to do with NFL.

    The reason evolutionary algorithms are bad password solvers is that the fitness function gives them no information to indicate when they are getting close to a solution (a correct password).

    The fitness function is essentially a binary function that returns ’1′ if you get the password exactly right and ’0′ otherwise. It doesn’t guide you toward a solution; it just tells you when you happen to get lucky and hit the password on the nose.

  20. It does have to do with NFL and even if not it still poses reasons to reject Darwinism. Darwinism in this case is clearly no better than chance.

    As pointed out appropriate fitness may be one of other problems such as population resources. Still think Darwinism is a good bet?

    Btw, what’s the payoff if Darwinism is right At least Mark Frank posed a counter question I could not answer. I admitted it.

    You’re invited to state what you gain by arguing in favor of Darwin and what you gain if Darwin is right. In a meaningless world, does truth really have value over delusion?

  21. You’re invited to state what you gain by arguing in favour of Darwin and what you gain if Darwin is right.

    Hope that was a general invitation and not just for Keith. I’m not arguing in favour of Darwinism (or presuming you mean the current raft of evolutionary theories). It happens to be the only theory that fits the facts. If it turned out to be wrong, then it would need to be modified or abandoned. If there were an alternative theory that better fitted the data and made more accurate predictions that could be confirmed by experiment, there is no doubt it would be quickly adopted. As yet there is no competing theory.

    In a meaningless world, does truth really have value over delusion?

    I personally would prefer to have at least the partial or provisional truth to delusion. Whether the world is meaningless or not is an open question. Carpe diem is my motto. When you only have one shy at the coconut, you better make it count.

  22. Thanks for responding Alan. I appreciate hearing what motivate you guys.

  23. Sal,

    It does have to do with NFL…

    That would be more persuasive if you could explain why it has anything to do with NFL.

    …and even if not it still poses reasons to reject Darwinism. Darwinism in this case is clearly no better than chance.

    It would be a reason to reject “Darwinism” in nature only if you could show that all fitness functions in nature are as uninformative as the fitness function in your password example. Of course that isn’t so; if it were, then microevolution wouldn’t be possible. Surely you don’t deny the reality of microevolution, do you?

    As pointed out appropriate fitness may be one of other problems such as population resources. Still think Darwinism is a good bet?

    Your statement is unclear, but why should it be a problem for Darwinism if resource dependence factors into the fitness functions?

    Btw, what’s the payoff if Darwinism is right[?]

    That’s the wrong question. It’s not up to us. The choice is whether we accept Darwinism.

    You’re invited to state what you gain by arguing in favor of Darwin and what you gain if Darwin is right.

    What I gain if Darwin is right is irrelevant. He’s either right or wrong on any given point. The real question is “What do I gain by pursuing the truth?” See below.

    In a meaningless world, does truth really have value over delusion?

    Enormous value, across all aspects of life. As just one small example: the next time you’re really thirsty, ask yourself whether the truth of how to obtain water has any value to you.

  24. Keiths@19 is correct but also wrong if the password was known beforehand and specified as the target ie: “ME_THINKS_THIS_IS_THE_PASSWORD123_zZ”. Now apply a fitness function that counts the character proximity of the current random string at the current iteration relative to the target.
    GA’s work with “target relativity” per generation. Now ofcourse a pre-specified target is a useless demonstration of the Darwinian account (and useless in general for solving engineering problems) which is why an on-the-fly target is usually used (ie: if consume more memory and/or CPU… translates into Darwinian evolutionary context as to consume more resources and flourish at a faster rate). But such a fitness function is too “broad” to know whether FCSI is actually being produced and sustained or whether its just running an infinite loop and wasting CPU cycles (as per the above defined fitness function). It is also as far as I can tell just as useless apart from the trivial possible optimization that can result and not of new significant/unique function.

  25. The reason to reject darwinism is there isn’t any evidence tat darwinian processes can construct anything.

  26. Alan Fox:

    But, as evolutionary theory is not a theory of pure chance, …

    Just repeating your bald assertion doesn’t make it so.

  27. Regarding those who believe that evolutionary theory is not a theory of pure chance:

    The answer of modern molecular biology to this much-debated question is categorical: chance, and chance alone, did it all, from primeval soup to man, with only natural selection to sift its effects. This affirmation now rests on overwhelming factual evidence., philosopher Christian de Duve (http://philosopedia.org/index......an_De_Duve)

    Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, is at the very root of the supendous edifice of evolution.” (Jacques L. Monod, Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology, New York, Vintage Books, 1972, pages 112, 180).

    Are de Duve and Monod wrong in asserting that chance is responsible for evolution?

  28. Alan sez:

    It happens to be the only theory that fits the facts.

    It can’t even muster a testable hypothesis. That alone means you are full of it, Alan. And it doesn’t make any predictions either.

  29. computerist,

    Sal’s question was:

    Why can’t evolutionary algorithms solve passwords of any non-trivial length?

    He is clearly talking about EAs in which the fitness function gives no indication other than “hit” or “miss”. If we allow fitness functions of the kind you describe, then we are no longer cracking passwords, and Sal’s question would no longer be correct.

    The fitness function you describe is more like Dawkins’ Weasel than a password cracker. Your choice of target string acknowledges this.

    But such a fitness function is too “broad” to know whether FCSI is actually being produced and sustained or whether its just running an infinite loop and wasting CPU cycles…

    If you’re using ‘FCSI’ to mean something like Dembski’s CSI, then no EA or Darwinian process can produce it by definition. It’s a circular argument: define CSI to exclude Darwinian processes, and then assert that CSI indicates that something didn’t evolve!

    If you’re using ‘FCSI’ in a non-circular way, then your statement misses the point. The EA doesn’t “care” whether it’s producing ‘FCSI’. It only cares about whether the fitness is increasing.

    Observers can determine whether ‘FCSI’ is being produced if you supply them with a tractable definition and method for measuring it.

  30. CSI exists regardless of what produced it and EAs are an example of Intelligent Design Evolution.

  31. Barb,

    It depends on the definition you use. To me, “pure chance” in the context of evolution means “pure randomness”, and by that definition, evolution is far more than pure chance.

    If you use the phrase “by chance” to mean “not by design”, then of course unguided evolution is a chance occurrence under that definition.

    De Duve was using chance in the latter sense, as can be seen by considering his statement along with the question that prompted it:

    According to science writer Malcolm W. Browne, when de Duve was asked whether “some guiding hand” was needed for the process, he responded,

    The answer of modern molecular biology to this much-debated question is categorical: chance, and chance alone, did it all, from primeval soup to man, with only natural selection to sift its effects.

    Monod is using “chance” in the first sense, but you have misinterpreted his statement. He does not say that evolution is nothing but chance; he says that chance is at the root of evolution, which is a very different meaning.

    This is clear if you read Monod’s statement in context:

    We call these events [mutations] accidental; we say that they are random occurrences. And since they constitute the only possible source of modifications in the genetic text, itself the sole repository of the organism’s hereditary structures, it necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution…

  32. Are de Duve and Monod wrong in asserting that chance is responsible for evolution?

    Yes. Evolutionary theory is composed of two elements that act reiteratively. There is the generation of new genetic variation which is (in my view) completely random (though there is room for a theist to propose that the randomness is apparent bot really being guided) and the selection element where each generation of a population is tested in the lab of the niche environment and the better adapted individuals are more likely to produce more offspring. I think of it as environmental design.

  33. Ah, I’m assuming your reading of de Duve and Monod is correct. I see Keith suggests Monod is being quote-mined.

  34. Just noticed this from Sal

    If its not too personal, and because I want to understand, not condemn, if you believe there is no God, why spend time debating ID proponents? For myself, if I believed there was no God, I’d probably be out there partying or something more enjoyable than the shouting matches on the net, spending time arguing with people (ID proponents and creationists) who are presumably deluded.

    Good question! I often think I should spend time doing something more constructive but it is fun and slightly addictive. I find the arguments for ID intellectually interesting – much more so than the arguments for astrology. I am convinced they are faulty, but not obviously so, and it is interesting to understand why.

    Also it is interesting to study online debate – how people behave in ways they would never contemplate were they face to face.

    Finally there is an element among many IDists here I find slightly threatening and maybe I can contribute a little bit by publically confronting it from time to time. It is not actually to do with ID. I am concerned about the absolute certainty that many in this community have that their religion means that they know what is morally correct. In my view the very worst of the things to happen in this world have arisen from people who felt they had discovered some principle or other which means they know what is right. The principle is not necessarily religious – communism was another such principle, so was the French revolution. It is particularly dangerous when it is mixed with a fear that others are threatening that certainty. I absolutely don’t include you in this. You seem very able to think pragmatically and for yourself.

    I am not very good at this. Lizzie is brilliant. Unfailingly polite, takes (almost) everyone seriously, – yet clear, logical and determined in making her case. Just by being a model debater I suspect she is winning over many lurkers.

  35. Alan,

    I see Keith suggests Monod is being quote-mined.

    Not deliberately, necessarily, but his intended meaning is much clearer in context.

  36. Of course that isn’t so; if it were, then microevolution wouldn’t be possible. Surely you don’t deny the reality of microevolution, do you?

    Of course I don’t deny micro evolution. The creationist blyth pioneer natural selection before Darwin, and Darwin plagiarized and distorted Blyth’s work..

    That said, blind cavefish are a good example of fitness function at work. Destroying function, not creating. I’m not so sure closer scrutiny of such matters will show that we have blind watchmaker instead of blind watch breakers.

    Further, mass extinction, slow extinction, mutational meltdown are examples where the evolutionary algorithm stops in nature.

    So I could show you in nature:
    1. the negative fitness function
    2. the cessation of the fitness function
    3. the meltdown of fitness in principle (like Muller’s ratchet)

    The probability of extreme rube-goldberg functionality evolving is dubious. I’ve been trying to formulate testable hypotheses for field observation to show death of the fittest. That’s the way to settle this debate eventually — in the field, not on the internet.

    Sal

  37. Mark,

    Thank you very very much for your response to my question. It was enlightening. Thank you also for your kind words.

    I appreciate your participation in my discussions.

    Sal

  38. I really don’t understand the Bayesian vs. Fisherian arguments well regarding ID, but Bayes play an important role in understanding probability distributions in blackjack.

    With respect to card counting, unlike coins, the presumed distribution function MUST be revised in light of observations because of conditional probability (Bayes). Current and past observations of an abundance of low and middle cards (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) implies a later abundance of higher or neutral cards (8,9,10,J,Q,K,A) in the remaining shoe. Re-estimating conditionally the change in distribution allows advantage over casinos to be gained.

    We don’t jump immediately to the conclusion of non randomness in a shoe merely because of slight variation the presumed distribution. These short term fluctuations from expectation are predictable, but not the long term deviation from expectation with large numbers. That is one feature of the statistical arbitrage in play.

    Interestingly, some shuffles are non-random (either by illegal design or accident). One level of blackjack play that is a super advanced skill is shuffle tracking. Individuals or teams will memorize or track the sequences of cards and then, if the shuffle doesn’t sufficiently randomize the shoe, a player can exploit that flaw.

    Dominic O’Brien can memorize an entire shoe consisting of 6 decks. His shuffle tracking is unreal.

    Before Nevada outlawed it, computers inside shoes that were activated by the players feet were used to record the sequence of cards being dealt out. When the shuffle was performed there was some non-randomness left, and the player would again input the cards into the shoe computer as the next set of cards were dealt. The computer simultaneously recorded the new set of cards and alerted the player via vibration when to raise or lower his bets.

    Dastardly wonderful. :twisted:

    That had to be one of the most ingenious attacks on a casino ever conceived. Claude Shannon with Ed Throp tried to do similar feats with non random roulette wheels.

    For those that love Bayes theorems, I suppose blackjack ought to be fascinating. Here is info on the non-random shuffle tracking shoe computers:

    http://www.blackjackforumonlin.....ftint.html

  39. Alan Fox:

    the selection element where each generation of a population is tested in the lab of the niche environment and the better adapted individuals are more likely to produce more offspring.

    Really Alan? Why do evolutionary biologists say that NS is eliminative and not how you describe it?

    BTW even as you describe it doesn’t mean it all isn’t just chance…

  40. I listed the following:

    So I could show you in nature:
    1. the negative fitness function
    2. the cessation of the fitness function
    3. the meltdown of fitness in principle (like Muller’s ratchet)

    This was just an outline, and it is worth a separate discussion about how Darwinism is supported by cherry picking, and the scientific community is giving Darwinism a free pass. What I mean by “negative fitness” functions are things like blind cave fish. Mass extinction shows that selection can be halted. Muller’s ratchet, irreversible genome deterioration (U-paradox), so many other considerations……

    Then we have cherry picked computer simulations to boot. This is like saying all coins heads is highly probable because we’ve recorded samples of individual coins being heads. In any other scientific discipline such an inference would be readily rejected, but not in Darwinism. I could just as easily write computer simulations and demonstrate selection failing to build complexity. The fact that such simulation are easier to build, and require much less intelligence to build ought to say something….

    Further, at what point is selection really a mechanism vs. outcome? Say I selected one car over another because one car was more technologically advanced. Since selection played a role in choosing one car over another, is it valid to say selection created the cars? Absolutely not! Yet that distinction isn’t adequately addressed. Fodor was right to object to the linguistic characterizations of Darwinian evolution, it is not amenable to anything but superficial analysis. The deeper one looks, the more irredeemable Darwinism appears.

    These are worth separate discussions. I’m sorry I have to disagree with my highly civil critics like Mark Frank and Elizabeth Liddle, but if they want to understand some of the ID objections to Darwinian evolution, I’m willing to lay them out. I’ve happily acknowledge what I think are a good set of reasons to reject ID, Good and bad reasons for rejecting ID and I sincerely believe Darwinian evolution isn’t one of those good reasons….

    In my opinion, these considerations make Darwinian evolution a dubious bet at best, one I wouldn’t make. Sorry I must disagree so intensely with my civil colleagues from TSZ, but that nominally relates to a story I will offer in the next comment.

  41. Ok, the story. If you don’t want to read that’s fine since it has little ID content, just casino anecdotes related to my motivations for exploring ID. This anecdote is actually a few experiences mixed together to tell a parable, but they are rooted in real experience.

    I was once in a casino and there was this lady in her middle thirties at my blackjack table. Let us call her LaToya.

    She was typical of the people casinos prey on. Addicted, drunk, confused, self-deluded. She frequently criticized my play and blamed her losses on me. She would exclaim, “Why you do dat? You f–king da cards?” She was lamenting in the last 2 hours she’d lost $3,000, she was making some mathematically sound plays but a few enough really bad plays to ensure the casino would capture their prey that day…I’m sure the pit bosses were smiling that they just fleeced a patron for $3,000. They kept offering her meals, rooms, and alcohol….In addition to mathematically unsound plays, her risk management strategy was non existent.

    I wasn’t about to try to explain Kelly fractional risk management theories that I was employing that day, nor try to explain The Ace-Reckoned, Advanced Omega II estimation and playing strategy that I was also putting in use. Yet she had the gall to say I was “f–king da cards and making her lose.”

    Then an nice elderly lady (maybe in her late 60s) joined our table. Let us call her Elenor. She noticed by the size of my pile of chips that I was having a good day (I don’t have good days about half the time, just for the record).

    She sat down and fumbled. She looked so sweet and helpless like a grandmother. I felt really sorry for her. I wanted to tell her to leave this place and don’t come back. This isn’t the place for decent people like her. Mercifully she only bought in for $60 and was betting table minimum of $5.

    LaToya kept trying to tell the Elenor how to play her hands, “I’m a professional, don’t split.” Professional my eye. :roll: LaToya just lost $3,000 through incompetent play and had the audacity to say she was a professional and then tell Elenor how to play her hands. The blind trying to make someone else blind.

    Finally in frustration, and because I had some compassion toward Elenor, I couldn’t take it. Elenor seemed to trust me, and I felt a responsibility to tell her the right way to play. “Mam, this is the proper play. I understand the math, that is my background. Splitting will maximize your expectation. Don’t listen to LaToya.” Not that I expected she would actually understand what I meant by “maximizing expectation”, but under stress one doesn’t always express oneself well…

    I hoped she would recognize I was trying to tell her the truth. Luckily I had a pile of chips in front of me to maybe suggest that I actually knew what I was talking about (as I said that isn’t true in general, about half the days I leave the casino with less money as skilled blackjack players only have a 1.5% edge over the house).

    I then, perhaps unwisely, explained the way to beat the game is to estimate the number of high cards remaining in the shoe. The dealer started giving me mean glaring looks. Casinos hate people they can’t prey upon. I was waiting for them to say something to the effect: “Mr. Cordova, your going to be expelled, no intelligence allowed at the blackjack table.”

    For once my conscience really pricked me. I didn’t care about getting expelled for championing intelligence. I had to tell Elenor the truth or at least give her bits and pieces in the short time we had. I gave her as many basic strategy tips as possible in 10 minutes and told her to keep her bets to the minimum hoping her husband would shortly swing by and take her to lunch and Elenor would never visit the card tables again….

    Then, the “count” of the shoe tanked and I estimated the house now had a 3% edge over the players. I left the table to save myself, while I knew LaToya and Elenor would be facing a formidable house edge plus lots of variance. But what could I do? Stand out the casino doors and tell everyone unless they have appropriate skills they’re fools for coming to this place? I hope Elenor at least had a good time and didn’t lose too much money.

    What does this have to do with ID? It illustrates what I feel about Darwinism. Darwinism is a mathematically and empirically unsound hypothesis. A wrong hypothesis. If, like LaToya, people want to swear by a cherry-picked theory, I won’t stop them, but I might be able to help some see things a little more clearly, especially those on the sidelines.

    LaToya’s ideas about blackjack were based on naïve and confirmationally biased statistical sampling, not careful considerations of important nuances that were developed by mathematicians for the last 60 years. Darwinism suffers from the similar cherry picking methods to support it. Therefore, in terms of truthfulness, Darwinism is a bad bet.

    It’s a bad bet not just relative to ID, but a bad bet to simply saying, “I don’t know”. So though it would be nice to get along with Mark and Elizabeth, I feel a responsibility to articulate what I believe to be a more sound analysis of Darwinism. If one rejects ID, at least don’t reject ID because of Darwinism. Reject it for other reasons such as those I suggested (or some reasons of your own, just not Darwinism).

    Some of our readers who maybe on the fences need to hear these discussions, and if it means I must intensely disagree with people I like, I still have an obligation to do so.

  42. Chance, as both de Duve and Monad use it, means happenstance/ accidental/ not planned/ not by design. Mayr also uses it that same way.

  43. Sal,

    But the no free lunch theorems say evolutionary theory should perform no better than the chance hypothesis…

    No, they don’t. What the NFL theorems show is that no search algorithm performs better than blind search when averaged across all possible problems.

    To successfully challenge evolution, you would have to show that the particular problems and fitness functions found in nature are problematic for a Darwinian algorithm.

    Dembski couldn’t do that, and neither can you, Sal.

    …and neutral theory says it’s moot anyway since there aren’t enough population resources relative to genome size for selection to influence much of the genome anyway…

    Most of the genome is nonfunctional and nonconserved. No one expects such regions to be influenced by selection.

  44. Dembski couldn’t do that, and neither can you, Sal.

    If so, neither can Darwinists, and Darwinists need the violation of NFL averages more than ID-ists don’t they? Darwinsits are in effect saying its possible, therefore true. Mistake #1. Btw, averages and expectation count for something, as in the coin toss example. Remember?

    To successfully challenge evolution, you would have to show that the particular problems and fitness functions found in nature are problematic for a Darwinian algorithm.

    On the contrary, Darwinists have to show they are free of problematic fitness functions and that favorable fitness functions actually exist in nature such that the expectation is increase in complexity not reduction.

    That hasn’t been done theoretically or empirically, just hand waving in the face of empirically verifiable mass extinction, selection selecting for loss of function (like Blindness in Cave Fish, winglessness in beetles, sickle cell anemia in humans, etc.), genome deterioration, and then even more challenging theoretical problems posed by neutral evolution.

    IC problems are legion and cast doubt that there are existing fitness functions that can resolve those systems. Miller and Matzke equivocated what was meant by co-option, but that’s another topic. And the flagellum is only one of many systems, Darwinists will be faced by an avalanche of IC problems as the data come in….The burden is on the Darwinist to prove their theory is credible in the face of these reasonable objections.

    Darwinism is unproven at best, falsified at worst. Hang on to it if you wish, but it’s a bad bet imho.

    Most of the genome is nonfunctional and nonconserved. No one expects such regions to be influenced by selection.

    Unproven speculation. And I pointed out, there is evidence there are lots of non-selectable but functioning systems in biology. See:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....omplexity/

    If lots of the genome is functional, but not subject to selection, we then have functions that emerged independent of Darwinian evolution. Which disproves Darwinian evolution. Neutral theory was developed not because of the presumed lack of function, but analysis of the population resources relative to genome size. I.e. if you have genome of 4 gigabases, how can a population of 100 individuals possibly select individually for each nucleotide? It can’t, hence neutralism of necessity must dominate.

    Proof by cherry picking data and simulations isn’t science. That is what supports Darwinism. Reminds me of casino patrons who’ve lost their life savings because they only focus on their winnings and not losses, thus not coming to terms that they are playing negative expectation games. Rather than be objective, they choose to remain in the dark and keep cherry picking data…

    Darwinists will hail trivial accomplishments such as peppered moths and finch beaks, but sweep under the implications of mass extinction, slow extinction, blindness in cave fish, winglessness in insects, mutational meltdown, Haldane’s dilemma, Nachman’s Paradox, Muller’s ratchet, neutral evolution, and so many other considerations. They’ll create simulations like Weasel and Avida, when there could easily be simulations that demonstrate the opposite result of complexity increase.

    Darwinism is supported by the same sort of cherry picking of data I see in practice by ruined gamblers. But unlike the gamblers choosing to remain in the dark, Darwinists not only stay in the dark but actually encourage others to go into the dark about these obvious challenges that have been ignored through cherry picking empirical data and theoretical challenges.

    Distressing on many levels….

    Thanks for your comments.

  45. Sal,

    If so, neither can Darwinists, and Darwinists need the violation of NFL averages more than ID-ists don’t they?

    No. We have independent and overwhelming evidence for unguided evolution over ID.

  46. KeithS:

    No. We have independent and overwhelming evidence for unguided evolution over ID.

    In your link, you mention common descent as evidence against ID. Common Descent is compatible with ID. Even supposing common descent, one is posed with the problem of convergence, which are common designs not attributable to descent such as the eye.

    And given there is evidence eyes have degraded from real evolution (i.e. myopia and numerous other eye problems), the loss of vision in cave fish– maybe selection failed to prevent this loss of function, or worse selection selected against these designs!

    Some forms of flight also came about through convergence, not common descent: birds vs insects vs bats. And we have cases of functionless wings, missing wings, or wings used for swimming not flying. In the case of missing wing or functionless wings, this doesn’t bode well for selection building functioning wings, actually the opposite.

  47. 47
    CentralScrutinizer

    keiths: Enormous value, across all aspects of life. As just one small example: the next time you’re really thirsty, ask yourself whether the truth of how to obtain water has any value to you.

    An easier way to solve the desire for water is to simply kill myself. Problem solved. In a meaningless world, what difference would that make?

  48. CentralScrutinizer,

    An easier way to solve the desire for water is to simply kill myself. Problem solved.

    Easier than getting a drink of water? Killing yourself sounds like a lot of trouble.

    In a meaningless world, what difference would that make?

    Well, if we were talking about a literally meaningless world — one in which nothing mattered to us, nothing at all — then it wouldn’t make any difference, although getting a drink of water still sounds easier to me.

    However, I don’t think Sal was talking about a truly meaningless world. He was just talking about a world in which “Darwinism” was true and God was absent.

    I don’t think such a world would be meaningless at all (we seem to be living in it, after all).

    Would you stop loving your spouse and children if you became convinced that God didn’t exist and that Darwinism was true? Would you abandon your friends? Would nature, love, intellectual challenge, good food, beauty, and kindness lose their luster?

    They haven’t for me. I don’t think they would for you, either, at least not permanently. You might have to go through a grieving process over the loss of your faith, though. It’s not easy to give up belief in God, though the rewards are worth it in the end. I know this from personal experience.

  49. 49
    CentralScrutinizer

    keiths: Easier than getting a drink of water? Killing yourself sounds like a lot of trouble.

    Maybe, maybe not. In a meaningless world, the easier one would be the preferable one. Why not?

  50. 50
    CentralScrutinizer

    Would you stop loving your spouse and children if you became convinced that God didn’t exist and that Darwinism was true?

    Me? Probably not. But I would probably be a lot more kill you for whatever reason suited my fancy. Why not?

  51. 51
    CentralScrutinizer

    “a lot more LIKELY to kill to suit my own fancy” I mean to say.

    And why not.

  52. 52
    CentralScrutinizer

    If life had no ultimate meaning, and if I didn’t think a creator existed who would be majorly pissed off at me if I were to kill myself, I would probably do it tonight. Why not? No more worrying about finding water. No more worry about anything. Oblivion sounds pretty damn nice to me.

  53. Sal,

    In your link, you mention common descent as evidence against ID. Common Descent is compatible with ID.

    You didn’t read my OP very carefully, or even its title:

    Things That IDers Don’t Understand, Part 1 — Intelligent Design is not compatible with the evidence for common descent

    I am not talking about common descent itself. That is compatible with ID, as you point out.

    It’s the evidence for common descent that is not compatible with ID.

    The same evidence that establishes the truth of common descent also establishes the objective nested hierarchy (ONH). Unguided evolution fits the evidence of the ONH literally trillions of times better than ID. Anyone who doubts this should follow the link and read the post.

    The evidence is so lopsided in favor of unguided evolution that one cannot rationally choose to be an IDer. ID is a faith-only position, not a rational one.

    If you follow the evidence where it leads, you find that ID is untrue and that immaterial souls don’t exist.

  54. 54
    CentralScrutinizer

    Would nature, love, intellectual challenge, good food, beauty, and kindness lose their luster?

    But nobody gets to enjoy that without a lot of bullshit mixed into the process. But no matter how charmed your life is, you’re still going to die anyway. Why prolong the inevitiable? I’m sure you have your subjective reasons. (Probably largely due to the way your brain happened to be wired up at birth for self-preservation.) But that’s no reason why I shouldn’t hunt you down and kill you for my own pleasure. (Not that I would.)

    They haven’t for me.

    Then by golly, you keep doing what you’re doing. But why spend precious time arguing with creationists when you could be having sex, playing with your kids, or enjoying a good meal?

    I don’t think they would for you, either, at least not permanently.

    That’s because you don’t know me.

    You might have to go through a grieving process over the loss of your faith, though.

    I’ve grieved plenty over a lot of things.

    It’s not easy to give up belief in God,

    I probably don’t believe in any sort of god you probably have in mind, so it’s a non-issue for me.

    though the rewards are worth it in the end.

    Such as?

    I know this from personal experience.

    One thing I’ve learned in life is most peoples’ experience of such things rarely informs mine. I doubt yours could. And couldn’t possibly for reasons too involved to go into here.

    But thanks for stopping by :)

  55. It’s not easy to give up belief in God, though the rewards are worth it in the end. I know this from personal experience.

    You’re welcome to elaborate since this thread was about Pascal’s wager.

    If it’s not too much to ask, how much did your acceptance of Darwinian evolution contribute to your journey form theism to atheism?

    This is a good chance to speak your mind on such topics. That’s why I posted this thread to explore the more philosophical (not merely scientific) issues.

  56. 56
    CentralScrutinizer

    keiths: If you follow the evidence where it leads, you find that ID is untrue and that immaterial souls don’t exist.

    I seem to be the night owl tonight…

    Both of those thread are not impressive to me personally. If I have some time (I usually do not) to jump into the fray I will explain to you why the split brain experiments do not indicate what you think they do, but rather the opposite.

  57. 57
    CentralScrutinizer

    Now, Keiths, you seem like a decent fellow, but according to your philosophy of life, what good reason can you give me to convince me (other than appealing to my fear of prison or the firing squad) that I should not hunt you down and kill you for my own pleasure and amusement? (Not that I would.)

  58. The same evidence that establishes the truth of common descent also establishes the objective nested hierarchy (ONH). Unguided evolution fits the evidence of the ONH literally trillions of times better than ID. Anyone who doubts this should follow the link and read the post.

    The nested hierarchy can be used as evidence against common descent from fish. See:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....from-fish/

    By way of extension it resist other claims of common ancestry. The invocation of nesting is not as airtight a demonstration of common descent as you suppose. The reader is invited to see what I wrote on conceptual ancestors versus physical ancestors in the discussion.

  59. CentralScrutinizer,

    Oblivion sounds pretty damn nice to me.

    Compared to life? If you aren’t just being flippant, and if you honestly feel that way, then you might be clinically depressed. I am completely serious about this. If your belief that God would be “majorly pissed” at you is the only thing keeping you from killing yourself, then you probably are depressed, and should seek some help immediately. Depression is treatable.

    I hope instead that you were just being flippant and hyperbolic. If so, then I would just point out that it’s common for religious people to feel that their lives would be meaningless without the “ultimate meaning” that religion provides. Those of us who have made the transition from theism to atheism can tell you that it just isn’t so.

    Life is full of meaning even without God. We create our own meanings, whether you realize it or not. It just isn’t “ultimate” meaning.

  60. CentralScrutinizer, Sal,

    I’m calling it a night, but I expect to have some time tomorrow to respond to your questions.

  61. CentralScrutinizer

    Excuse me jumping in … this comes up so often and I think the answers are well known.

    You write:

    according to your philosophy of life, what good reason can you give me to convince me (other than appealing to my fear of prison or the firing squad) that I should not hunt you down and kill you for my own pleasure and amusement? (Not that I would.)

    There are so many reasons. Four important ones:

    1) Retribution as you point out
    2) If you do it to someone then it sets a precedent for other people doing it to you
    3) Most people want to be admired and accepted by their peers
    4) Most people do not like inflicting suffering and death i.e. they are compassionate

    Of course you may not be like most people. That’s would make you a psychopath. But I don’t for a moment think you are.

    Now what good reason do you have other than fear of disapproval of your God?

  62. keiths:

    We have independent and overwhelming evidence for unguided evolution over ID.

    LoL! Unfortunately there isn’t any evidence for unguided evolution in that link. Even Theobald says his evidence do not supoort any mechanism, and keiths relies heavily on Theobald.

    IOW keiths is lying, again.

  63. keiths:

    To successfully challenge evolution, you would have to show that the particular problems and fitness functions found in nature are problematic for a Darwinian algorithm.

    LoL! “darwinian algorithm” is an oxymoron, ie it doesn’t exist.

  64. keityhs:

    Unguided evolution fits the evidence of the ONH literally trillions of times better than ID. Anyone who doubts this should follow the link and read the post.

    I followed the link and refuted what keiths spewed. Heck keiths can’t even produce a testable hypothseis for unguided evolution…

  65. keiths thinks that unguided evolution expects an objective nested hierarchy- he is wrong and ignorant. Gradual evolution would expect a smooth blending of traits and an ONH cannot have that. An ONH requyires distinct categories and we should NOT see that with gradual evolution.

    Darwin himself had to rely on timely extinction events in order to explain the ONH. But he correctly admitted that the exietence of the transitional forms would muck up the scheme.

    So if keiths is too stupid to understand that gradual evolution does not expect an ONH, he is too stupid to understand anything wrt biology.

  66. 66
    CentralScrutinizer

    Mark Frank. Is this the best you’ve got?

    1) Retribution as you point out

    Agreed, as already indicated. I think evem a lion would hesitate to kill a gazelle if it understood such a consequence would follow.

    2) If you do it to someone then it sets a precedent for other people doing it to you

    That’s essentially the same as #1. Fear of retribution. Assuming I’m willing to risk it.

    3) Most people want to be admired and accepted by their peers

    This is probably true by most people. And assuming that’s true, one could kill another in a way that nobody else would find out. This sort of thing happens all the time. And if you happen to be in power, then you don’t even care if someone finds out.

    Most people do not like inflicting suffering and death i.e. they are compassionate

    That’s not a reason likely to convince someone who does not possess compassion. Assume I don’t.

    Of course you may not be like most people. That’s would make you a psychopath. But I don’t for a moment think you are.

    Same answer as previous question.

    I’m not arguing for God or morality. I’ll let God, if he exists, fight his own battles. At any rate, even if God or some “absolute morality” exists, it doesn’t change the nature of the discussion we’re having, so no need to go down that road.

    So, Mark, if I met up with you, and I had a gun, and I wanted to shoot you just for the fun of seeing you squirm, what are you going to say to me to convince me otherwise as you stand there pissing your pants?

  67. 67
    CentralScrutinizer

    Me: Oblivion sounds pretty damn nice to me.

    Keiths: Compared to life? If you aren’t just being flippant, and if you honestly feel that way, then you might be clinically depressed.

    What’s “wrong” with being depressed and wanting to end it all? Oblivion cures it all! No more toil under the sun. Sounds great! And guess what? YOU are heading there sooner or later anyway. Why prolong the inevitable? Theist or atheist, makes no difference.

    I am completely serious about this. If your belief that God would be “majorly pissed” at you is the only thing keeping you from killing yourself, then you probably are depressed, and should seek some help immediately. Depression is treatable.

    Tell my sister that. She’s being dealing with this for 25 years with no relief. Is it “wrong” for her to kill herself? Oblivion sounds VERY nice to her. Why shouldn’t she “go there” immediately?

    I hope instead that you were just being flippant and hyperbolic.

    Why? Death is coming. To me. To you. To everyone. What’s the difference when it happens? What’s so damn precious about all this clamor of life? All these molecules in motion.

    If so, then I would just point out that it’s common for religious people to feel that their lives would be meaningless without the “ultimate meaning” that religion provides. Those of us who have made the transition from theism to atheism can tell you that it just isn’t so.

    I’m not religious in any way you would recognize. So you can forget it. The matter is irrelevant anyway, because whether there is some “higher power and purpose” or not, we’re all going to die like dogs anyway. Why prolong it? For fun? Pleasure? OK then, what good reason is there for me to not eat your liver with fava beans for the sheer pleasure of it?

    Life is full of meaning even without God. We create our own meanings, whether you realize it or not. It just isn’t “ultimate” meaning.

    And then you die. Just like any dog or reptile or amoeba. And very soon too. Oblivion takes away all the worry. No more fuss and clamor. So why not go “there” ASAP?

    Now, I’m sure you can give many reasons why *you* don’t want to face your inevitable oblivion. But they won’t wash with me. We’re just different that way. And quite frankly it amazes me that you atheists are not scrambling to kill yourself. I guess that conscious thing inside you just simply doesn’t want to die. Programmed by nature, I guess. I can understand that. Pardon me if my programming disagrees.

  68. So, Mark, if I met up with you, and I had a gun, and I wanted to shoot you just for the fun of seeing you squirm, what are you going to say to me to convince me otherwise as you stand there pissing your pants?

    I think Mark would be well advised to keep the Atlantic Ocean between him and you.

  69. 69
    CentralScrutinizer

    Mark Frank: That’s would make you a psychopath. But I don’t for a moment think you are.

    By the way, are killer whales (orcas) psychopaths because they toss sea lions around for sport before they gobble them up? Or lions psychopaths for killing gazelles? What about cats toying with mice before they eat them?

    Why should humans be any different? Don’t give me any claptrap about how society benefits from certain behavior. That argument only works on non-psychopaths. Psychopaths don’t generally give a crap about society. They just want (need?) their human livers and fava beans.

  70. CS: Unfortunately, there ARE such people. KF

  71. She’s being dealing with this for 25 years with no relief. Is it “wrong” for her to kill herself? Oblivion sounds VERY nice to her. Why shouldn’t she “go there” immediately?

    I’m sorry for your sister’s burden. I happen to think that it is one’s personal choice and no one else’s as to whether to live or die so long as you are able to decide rationally. I don’t discount the huge problem in deciding when someone else is making a rational decision. A friend’s son committed suicide while depressed but without receiving much treatment. He left his wife with a two-year-old son. It’s over twenty years ago now and I still wonder whether someone, including me, could have done more at the time.

  72. By the way, are killer whales (orcas) psychopaths because they toss sea lions around for sport before they gobble them up?

    Easy to fall into anthropomorphism here. How to you know orcas do things “for sport”?

  73. 73
    CentralScrutinizer

    Alan Fox: I’m sorry for your sister’s burden.

    Thank you for that.

  74. 74
    CentralScrutinizer

    AF: Easy to fall into anthropomorphism here. How to you know orcas do things “for sport”?

    Sure looks like they do. But then again, how do I know other humans enjoy eating the same way I do, just because they appear to? I don’t even know if other people are conscious. So to answer your question, I don’t know. But they sure seem like they are. And then a cat “plays” with a mouse, then kills it, and doesn’t even bother to eat it, well, same deal.

  75. 75
    CentralScrutinizer

    To be clear, I am not homicidal, and have no intention of hunting down Mark and Keith. :D

    FWIW, I happen to agree with Mark and Keith’s conclusions, but for different reasons.

    My reasons are rational and emotional.

    BTW, I am one of those #3 types that Keith describes in his blog entry at Dr Liddle’s site. But I don’t think he makes his case. If you’re interested, I’ll tell you why soon. I look at the entire swath of information as an engineer, and I think details of what’s going at the molecular level militate against his conclusion. To me, the biosystem on earth is a brilliant piece of design.

  76. Kairosfocus is back to deleting comments again:

    SNIP — I instructed you by warning and you responded by alluding to a particularly nasty slander. I hope I do not need to tell you further that you have long since worn out any welcome you may have had. I will leave this for you as a way you may return: have the decency to apologise and amend your ways. Shame on you! GEM of TKI

    Here’s the comment he deleted:

    William,

    If bare possibility is enough to satisfy a Darwinist or materialists that 500 heads in row is sufficiently explained by chance, then there is no evidence that can be presented that can change their minds about either the fine-tuning of the universe or about Darwinistic evolutionary “explanations”.

    “Bare possibility” is NOT enough to satisfy me, or Lizzie, or anyone else that I’m aware of. We would be highly suspicious upon seeing 500 heads in a row.

    However, you seem to enjoy battling imaginary foes, so have at it.

  77. And of course, I didn’t “allude to a particularly nasty slander.”

    I linked to a comment written by kairosfocus himself.

    You made yourself look ridiculous, KF. Don’t blame me.

  78. LoL! keiths, your posts make you look ridiculous.

    We are still waiting for a testable hypothesis for unguided evolution. And an explanation of why unguided evolution expects an ONH would help your case.

  79. KeithS,

    I know we’re overwhelming you with questions, but if you have time, this issue is somewhat along the lines of this thread on Pascal’s Wager.

    It’s not easy to give up belief in God, though the rewards are worth it in the end. I know this from personal experience.

    You’re welcome to elaborate since this thread was about Pascal’s wager.

    If it’s not too much to ask, how much did your acceptance of Darwinian evolution contribute to your journey form theism to atheism?

    This is a good chance to speak your mind on such topics. That’s why I posted this thread to explore the more philosophical (not merely scientific) issues.

  80. Sal,

    I’m happy to elaborate, and no, it’s not too much to ask.

    Let me do a little searching first. I’ve written on this topic before, and I may be able to save myself some time and trouble by copying and pasting from my earlier comments.

    However, I’ll also make sure I directly address your questions, including the one about the impact of Darwinian evolution on my deconversion.

  81. CentralScrutinizer

    2) If you do it to someone then it sets a precedent for other people doing it to you

    That’s essentially the same as #1. Fear of retribution. Assuming I’m willing to risk it.

    Kant would argue that it follows logically that if a rule applies one person then it applies to everyone. But I won’t argue the point.

    3) Most people want to be admired and accepted by their peers

    This is probably true by most people. And assuming that’s true, one could kill another in a way that nobody else would find out. This sort of thing happens all the time. And if you happen to be in power, then you don’t even care if someone finds out.

    It is not just a case of being found out – although that makes a difference. We often want to behave in a way that others would approve of, even if there is no prospect of others ever knowing – it gives us self respect.

    Most people do not like inflicting suffering and death i.e. they are compassionate

    That’s not a reason likely to convince someone who does not possess compassion.

    Absolutely – such a person would be a psychopath.

    I’m not arguing for God or morality. I’ll let God, if he exists, fight his own battles. At any rate, even if God or some “absolute morality” exists, it doesn’t change the nature of the discussion we’re having, so no need to go down that road.

    So you don’t have an answer to the very question you are asking me?

    So, Mark, if I met up with you, and I had a gun, and I wanted to shoot you just for the fun of seeing you squirm, what are you going to say to me to convince me otherwise as you stand there pissing your pants?

    If you know of a good way of convincing a pyschopath not to kill you under these circumstances I suggest you publicise it quickly – you can make a fortune and save some people’s lives.

  82. Well Mark, if you want to decrease overall Psychopathic tendencies, then nurturing belief in a soul and God would be a good place to start:

    There are actually studies that show that people who do not believe in a soul are a little bit more anti-social than the majority of people who do believe in a soul:

    Anthony Jack, Why Don’t Psychopaths Believe in Dualism? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?l.....zOk#t=862s

    What Lies Behind Growing Secularism by William Lane Craig – May 2012 – podcast (steep decline in altruism of young people since early 1960′s when prayer was removed from schools)
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....secularism

    United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note: The slight decline in crime rate from the mid 90s until now is attributed in large part to tougher enforcement on minor crimes. (a nip it in the bud policy)
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    Cruel Logic – video
    Description; A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic of his debate with his victim: His moral right to kill them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qd1LPRJLnI

    The Moral Impact Of Darwinism On Society – Dr. Phil Fernandes – video
    http://www.nwcreation.net/vide.....ciety.html

    Verse and music:

    Matthew 22:37-39
    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

    Foreigner – I Want to know what love is
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loWXMtjUZWM

  83. corrected link:

    Cruel Logic – video
    Description; A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic of his debate with his victim: His moral right to kill them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq9A-c8bsjc

  84. [cross posted from TSZ Bayes vs. Fisher: Comment

    Skilled gamblers are often called Advantage Players (APs).

    In practice in professional Advantage Player teams (of which Blackjack Teams are the most prominent), the issue of cheating comes up. As I’ve read the anecdotes of teams that threw out members of for cheating, Bayes theorem was usually not the method used to determine cheating, but deviation from expectation.

    Perhaps that’s from operational convenience, but it suffices because the frequentist approach often works and the statistics are less controversial because the sample sizes are enormous. In the case of professional blackjack, teams were probably dealing on the order of millions of hands played to determine if a player is skimming profits rather than honestly pooling them with his teammates.

    Honesty surely had a role in the success of the Holy Rollers. The members had a sacred obligation to be honest to one’s teammates especially since $100,000 was routinely given to teammates to go out into the casino on their own, and they were on their honor to accurately account for their winning or losses. Frequently, a player would lose around $70,000 in a few hours of play since to earn money at an expectation $2,800, that implied a potential $70,000 one-standard deviation to the downside! The variance to reach their accumulated winnings of 3.5 million must have been sickening.

    The team counted on honesty that the player actually lost $70,000 and didn’t skim the money. If there wasn’t honesty, the team would have easily failed.

    There was a stretch where the team underperformed and it was suspected people were skimming profits. It was decided that one player could not be trusted and they fired him (curiously it was the one atheist on the team, so there is probably a cultural dynamic in the decision to let him go), but the larger explanation was quality control. The team was recruiting insufficiently skilled gamblers.

    Not that I had some major point, but why choose the Bayesian approach when a simpler avenue might suffice in practice? My “siding with mathgrrl” post argued for using simplicity when it is available.

    I can see using Bayes if one has a limited sample size, but in questions of OOL, it seems the frequentist approach would work just as well to establish a defensible (not absolutely proven) hypothesis.

    There is a chance the managers of the Holy Rollers team were wrong, that the chance hypothesis could have been a remotely possible explanation for their season of underperformance, but again, what hypothesis are you willing to bet on when it really counts? In the Darwin vs. Design Debate, I’ve decided to cast my lot (pun intended) with the Intelligent Designer.

  85. Semi OT, but related to the posts about psychopathic behavior: psychopathic criminals recidivate at a much higher rate and much earlier than other criminals. They make up about 15% of the prison population. The characteristics of psychopathy (a personality disorder) include loyalty to themselves only, lack of empathy or guilt, and being without conscience.

    When asked to what extent do nature and nurture influence the development of the traits and behaviors that define psychopathy, the answer is both. A study of 271 twin pairs (done by Blonigen, Carlson, Krueger, and Patrick) noted “substantial evidence of genetic contributions” in the personality construct of psychopathy. Subsequently, a study of 1,090 adolescent twin pairs (by Larrson, Andershed, and Lichtenstein) showed that “a genetic factor explains most of the variation in the psychopathic personality.”

    (all sources: Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, by Paul Babiak PhD, and Robert D. Hare, PhD, 2006).

  86. I heard of one non-blackjack team once referred to as “punters” who supposedly made 2.5 billion, but their methods are guarded secrets…

    I found data on one of the “punters”. Alan Woods (aka Mr. Huge):

    http://computerprediction.com/.....ul-gambler

    My friend and mentor Australian Alan Woods, passed away on January 28th 2008 at the age of sixty-two. He was, without a doubt the world’s most successful horse-race gambler. It was estimated that at the time of his death, he was worth over £320m ($670 million US). For twenty years, he was regarded as one of the worlds best gamblers (or punters) and was generally named as one of the three biggest bettors alive.
    We called him…Mister Huge.He did not see racing as a sport of horses and humans, he only saw it as a never ending string of statistics and numbers. He did not socialize with the upper crust of racing. In fact he couldn’t even recognize common names of Jockeys, trainers, or important racing personalities.

    He would brag that he had not been to a racetrack for over twenty-five years. He was the best of the game and had little interest in the beautiful animals that make up the sport. Alan was strictly a numbers guy.
    ….

    He was a losing punter at university and never developed gaming interest until later on.

    He was a mathematician and worked as an actuary in the 1970s. His job was to figure out how long you would live if you smoked two packs a day and didn’t exercise. The insurance companies would then sell you insurance based on his numbers.

    In the mid 70?s, he was intrigued by reading a copy of The Revere Point Count Strategy on blackjack card counting. This was his initiation as a serious gambler, long before he was known as the Worlds Best Gambler. For three years he undertook disguises to avoid identification as he traveled from Australia to Las Vegas, playing alone or with teams of blackjack pirates. In 1982 he was tired of the travel, fake identities, and dodging the casino bosses
    ….
    For twenty years, Woods would rise to the zenith of this business and become one of the world’s largest horse players. His teams of computer experts and money running agents made it all work. He directed his empire them from a luxury high-rise apartment in Manila. Over the journey he had his ups and downs but it?s reported that during one race day in 1995, Woods made $8 million. It was estimated that in the 2006-07 season, Woods accounted for 2% of the $71.46 billion total Hong Kong Jockey Club betting turnover.

  87. 87
    CentralScrutinizer

    Mark Frank: So you don’t have an answer to the very question you are asking me?

    I’ve asked a few. To which do you refer?

  88. Sal,

    Since you asked, here are some bits about my personal history of deconversion, taken from old comments at UD:

    December 7, 2005:

    Gumpngreen writes:
    “Well, there are people out there that have claimed dinosaurs fossils were put in the earth as a test of some odd sort.”

    Aquinas (the poster, not the saint) writes:
    “Personally, I find it theologically dangerous and philosophically absurd to say that God deceived us in such a way.”

    I was raised as a biblical literalist (Missouri Synod Lutheran). For us, the Bible was the inspired word of God, front to back. It was intended to be read by all people, with no priestly interpretation required (this was a big issue for Martin Luther), so God made sure it was understandable and straightforward.

    The six days of creation? Six 24-hour days. The rainbow as a symbol of God’s promise not to send another global flood? Yep — rainbows didn’t happen before Noah’s time (I guess refraction is a postdiluvian phenomenon; no word on how Adam and Eve’s eyes were able to function without it).

    It was a sin to doubt any part of the Bible. Furthermore, doubting the Bible could lead you to doubt Jesus, and doubting Jesus could land you in hell if you died in a state of unbelief. So as a child I avoided questioning the Bible, and spent many an anxious night lying in bed, wondering if I “really” believed, and whether I might find myself in hell before morning:

    Now I lay me down to sleep;
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
    If I should die before I wake,
    I pray the Lord my soul to take.
    (And if He refuses…)

    I know that many of my Christian and ex-Christian friends suffered the same fears as children.

    Around age 12, reading what geology and astronomy had to say about the age of the heavens and the earth, doubts started to surface which I was unable to suppress. Giving up my faith in the authority of the Bible was unthinkable, but I could see no way to reconcile Genesis with what science had discovered.

    You can probably see where I’m going with this. It finally occurred to me that because God placed such a premium on faith, he might want to test it. After all, God explicitly allowed Satan to test Job’s faith in a horrendous way, and God Himself tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac. Imagine Isaac’s terror when his own father tied him up, placed him on the altar, and raised the knife to kill him. Imagine Abraham’s anguish at being commanded to do this.

    I felt that if God would subject Job and Abraham to such severe tests, he could certainly subject us to the much milder test of planting fossils and arranging rock layers to make the earth look ancient, or creating light already in transit to the earth from distant galaxies, to see if we really trusted His Holy Word.

    I felt an enormous relief at this realization, because it allowed me to maintain my trust in the Bible without forcing me to doubt the empirical discoveries of science. I discussed the idea with my pastor and he sort of half-heartedly agreed. I think he was uncomfortable, as Aquinas (the poster) is, with the idea of God doing something so deceptive. On the other hand, he may have sensed that this dilemma was threatening my faith, and so he didn’t rule it out. In any case, this accommodation in my thinking mitigated the crisis, and I continued to believe in the literal truth of the Bible for another couple of years.

    Eventually I allowed myself to question the Bible as I would any other book, but that is another story.

    My point is that people who believe that fossils are a test of faith aren’t necessarily being unreasonable, if you grant the truth of their premise that the Bible is literally true and should be interpreted straightforwardly.

  89. Another one, from December 18, 2005:

    Josh [Bozeman -- remember him?] stoops to putting words in my mouth again:
    “It’s okay tho, the full 1/3 of the world’s population is probably okay with your view that they probably aren’t men and women of conscience, considering they could worship such an immoral God.”

    I do think that most Christians are men and women of conscience. I grew up as a Lutheran, my grandfather was a minister in the church, and my mother is still practicing. I have many friends and relatives who are Christian. These are good folks, and I resent Josh’s cheap attempt to imply that I doubt the strength of their consciences.

    As a young Christian I was taught to revere the Bible and to take it literally. I had a crisis of faith when I noticed that the science I was learning was in conflict with a literal interpretation of the Bible. This conflict ended up as an important factor in my eventual loss of faith, but another contributor was my discomfort at what I was reading in the Bible about law and morality.

    As just about every American kid does, I learned that slavery was wrong and felt the truth of it in my gut. It was therefore a shock to learn that the God of the Bible not only tolerated slavery, but also treated slaves unfairly (and brutally) under his law. This was not the God I had learned to love and worship. My pastor told me that most of the Old Testament laws had been superseded by Jesus, and that I should focus on the new law rather than the old.

    But I was still uncomfortable with the idea that God had done something seemingly immoral in the past. The pastor told me that what God did was by definition good, and that if what God did conflicted with my moral intuitions, then my moral intuitions needed to be modified in suitable humility. I tried to do that and was successful for a while. In the long run I arrived at the conclusion, as most of us do, that things are not good because a just God defines them that way, but rather that a just God does them because they are good.

    Having felt a similar urge myself, I sympathize with the need that Josh and some other Christians feel to whitewash the Old Testament and thereby align Jehovah with their morals. They want to take the Old Testament seriously, but they cannot reconcile its seamier parts with their morals except by distorting its words and messages. This takes a toll on them.

    Many (perhaps most) other Christians don’t even know about the strange things in the Bible, like the slavery verses and the serial genocide. They imagine the Old Testament God as a stern but always loving and just deity. I think of this God as the ‘Sunday School God’. The God they worship in their hearts is the Sunday School God. He is a far better God than the one described in the pages of the Old Testament. They’re simply not aware of any discrepancy between the two. You can hardly fault their consciences for that.

    Other Christians know about the problematic verses but don’t take them seriously. These Christians often see the Old Testament as the all-too-human attempt of a nomadic desert people to personalize and mythologize the ineffable God they were worshipping. These folks have no problem with the God of the Old Testament, because they see him only as a crude approximation to the real God of Christianity. They need not trouble their consciences.

    Josh cops out:
    “Keiths, you hate Christianity and you hate the Bible, so you will continue to distort everything you see within it- so I won’t even deal with the many items above you confuse.”

    That may be the right strategy, Josh. It’s certainly easier to play the hate card than it is to construct a rational argument to show why I am mistaken. It also deflects attention from the fact that you’re unable to answer my challenges. And this way you can accuse me of distortion without having to provide any evidence for your charges.

  90. From December 16, 2005:

    “Ask God to help you understand.”

    I did that many times and quite sincerely when I began losing my faith as an adolescent. I tried to ignore my doubts and let the Holy Spirit do its work. I read Christian books. I talked to ministers, one of whom introduced me to C.S. Lewis. I read Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Problem of Pain, and The Screwtape Letters. For a while, I managed to prop up my trust in the Bible. But the problems with Christianity remained, and I was forced to jettison my faith.

    “He gave you a brain. Don’t use your brain to question his credibility. Use it to understand what he is saying to you.”

    It’s not God’s credibility I’m questioning, but the Bible’s. And I AM using my brain to try to understand what he is saying, if he is there at all, by rejecting sources like the Bible that are clearly not from him.

    I have been accused by Christians of arrogance for believing that my human intellect is equal to the task of deciding whether the Bible is true. But what choice do I have? None of us is born already believing in the truth of the Bible. We have to decide to trust it. That decision is our responsibility, especially by the time we become adults. We can’t push the responsibility onto someone else by saying “so-and-so believes the Bible and I trust him,” because the obvious response is, “How did you know that so-and-so was correct?” We can’t say “the Bible says it’s the Word of God” because then we are assuming the truth of the claim we are testing. We can’t say, “I know the Bible is true because the Holy Spirit makes me feel its truth”, because we know that other religions have followers who feel just as sincerely and fervently that their beliefs are true. We have to use our intelligence. The responsibility is inescapable.

    Suppose we have souls, and that after our deaths God questions us about our beliefs. I will be able to say honestly that I used my intelligence, to the best of my ability, to seek the truth, and that I rejected the Bible because it did not appear to be God’s word.

    What will you say if God asks why you accepted the Bible with its contradictions, its inaccuracies, and its unflattering portrait of him? Will you be able to honestly say that you tried your best to evaluate it before deciding to believe in it?

  91. Sorry for the long quotes. I’m not trying to pull a BA77.

    This is the last one, from May 7, 2009:

    For what it’s worth, I was raised in a Christian home and had a strong faith as a child and a young teen. My pastor even asked me to consider whether I had a calling for the ministry. I had a Mormon friend with whom I would argue religion for hours, and after one such argument I realized that it was dishonest not to apply the same critical scrutiny to my own beliefs that I was applying to his.

    I found, to my shock and dismay, that my own beliefs held up no better than his. A painful period of soul-searching followed. I felt that what I had believed so strongly had to be true, and that it was impossible that my parents, my minister, and other trusted elders had taught me something that wasn’t true. It seemed impossible that so many Christians, whose faith was so palpable, could be wrong. I thought that my doubts must be a sign of weakness in me, and I felt ashamed and guilty that I had reneged on my confirmation vows. I beseeched God for guidance and for evidence of his existence.

    But the spark of that idea — that if Christianity (or any other idea) were true, it should hold up to critical scrutiny — never left me. I realized that knowing the truth was more important than clinging to a set of comforting beliefs, and so I remained determined to examine my beliefs critically.

    The process was slow and painful, and I gave up my beliefs in stages, but in the end I concluded that atheism was the only tenable position.

    So here I am. Though the process of discarding my Christianity was painful, I have found that the search for truth is exhilarating and that life is as wonderful, interesting and joyful for me as an atheist as it was for me as a Christian. And to my relief, it’s no longer necessary to fight the evidence in order to rationalize my faith.

  92. Sal,

    So as I think you can see, my deconversion started with my concerns about the truth of the Bible. Doubts about a young earth were more important than evolution in that regard.

    I shed my faith in layers. Evolution wasn’t important in my deconversion from Christianity, but it did play a role in my final move from theism/deism to atheism.

  93. CentralScrutinizer #87

    This one will do:

    ….. if I met up with you, and I had a gun, and I wanted to shoot you just for the fun of seeing you squirm, what are you going to say to me to convince me otherwise as you stand there pissing your pants?

    Mark

  94. KeithS,

    Actually, that’s some of the bests posts I’ve ever read from you. Thank for taking time to look back 8 years back in the UD archives.

    Though my pastors would cringe to hear me say this, I’m not an inerrantist, I don’t know that I ever was. More on that later…

    I was raised in a Roman Catholic home, accepted Old Earth and evolution, believed in God. I became an Old Earth creationist while catholic and then became a Presbyterian. I nearly lost faith in 2000-2002 timeframe when my dad was terminally ill. This was also the time after the 9/11 attacks. I was almost, but not quite an agnostic…

    I then read ID literature written by agnostics and atheists: Denton, Hoyle, Berlinski, Shutzenberger, Jastrow, Yockey, and later Jack Trevors. They’re work was influential because I didn’t want evangelistic tracts, I wanted something modestly impartial. I felt the TalkOrigins website to be too biased. Jack Trevors is an atheist, and his work on OOL has been influential on me…

    I also read mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell, whom I quoted above. Russell actually persuaded me of the futility of materialism if true — that the payoff in the end was zero.

    I also read the book Solar System Evolution and ironically that book ended so many chapters with “this is an major unsolved problem”, I began to think the problem isn’t solvable except via special creation.

    The debates on the net convinced me Darwinian evolution could not be correct, it wasn’t on the same footing as electromagnetism. Common descent is a good argument but not Darwinian evolution.

    I then began inquiring about the geological ages, and am convinced of the youth of fossils and indications of a global cataclysm.

    I also now believe in the deterioration of the genome.

    Further, I began to have doubts about mainstream cosmology. I got accepted into an engineering program that was rich with physics for engineers in the space industry. So I got to learn cursory astrophysics, relativity, and cosmology. I fumble through the topics as you can see, but I wanted to learn. Now that I actually know what is debated, I can see why FLRW expanding space has dissent from secular quarters….

    I have in the back of my mind some astrophysical observations that suggest light has travelled in a “superluminal” fashion or how ever you want to term it. When I learned of “superluminal” in cosmology class it was the first I’d heard of this as mainstream. Astronomers say the stars at the edge of our observation look awfully “old” or not much younger than stars close. Alternatively one could say, there is not much change in age of stars the farther out you look, which could mean the stars are either all old or they are all young! In any case a solution to this problem is superluminal velocity. John Hartnett wanted me to be his student as well. Maybe a good thing I wasn’t, I probably would have disappointed him as I’m not that good a student. But Hartnett is a successful YEC physicist, or successful physicist period.

    I do not have the answers I’d like to have, but the gist of this post is that I can’t comfortably write off a bet on ID, creation, and even YEC. Even if they have a remote chance of being true, the payoff at a personal level would be immeasurable. Bertrand Russell, ironically, made me believe the futility of the world if there is no God, that this whole business of us “making our own meaning” is as delusional as false religion making its own beliefs. Don’t mean to offend you, but that’s how I feel. If I didn’t believe in God, I’d probably just want to be doped up all the time to drown out the sad state of the human condition….

    Now what if YEC becomes more credible, then no matter how distasteful the Old Testament may be, no matter how cruel it makes God look to us, I would have more reason to respect it.

    My acceptance of the Bible today begins with ID, the possibility of creation, even YEC — not the other way around.

    Anyway, I’m not saying we should agree, but I like your above postings more than anything else I’ve read from you because I can identify such as the issues of genocide and slavery and God’s fearful cruelty.

    I had posted on UD my thoughts on the matter since I felt it on the minds of many:
    Mallicious Intelligent Design and Questions of the Old Testament God.

  95. 95
    CentralScrutinizer

    Mark Frank,

    Probably not much. I’d probably just try to take the gun away from the guy.

  96. 96
    CentralScrutinizer

    keiths, your story is nearly exactly the same as mine. And probably many thousands of others. Thanks for sharing.

    One difference, however, that I have with you. I have had, many, what you might call, “numinous experiences.” Which is to say, I have had mystical experiences that transcend ordinary “space-time reality.” So while I’m not a theist in the traditional sense, I am 100% certain that consciousness transcends the “material universe”, that consciousness is primary, and our conscious experience of space-time (via brain interfaces) has a purpose, and that other entities on the same consciousness/interface nature exist that are a lot more intelligent than humans that are guiding earth’s evolution and progress. I don’t expect you to agree, but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. And I am not unique in my experiences.

    Why am I relating this? Because you seem like a sincere fellow, and your particular station at which you find yoruself is not the end of the line. There is much more beyond it.

  97. keiths, your story is nearly exactly the same as mine. And probably many thousands of others. Thanks for sharing.

    One difference, however, that I have with you. I have had, many, what you might call, “numinous experiences.” Which is to say, I have had mystical experiences that transcend ordinary “space-time reality.” So while I’m not a theist in the traditional sense, I am 100% certain that consciousness transcends the “material universe”, that consciousness is primary, and our conscious experience of space-time (via brain interfaces) has a purpose, and that other entities on the same consciousness/interface nature exist that are a lot more intelligent than humans that are guiding earth’s evolution and progress. I don’t expect you to agree, but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. And I am not unique in my experiences.

    Why am I relating this? Because you seem like a sincere fellow, and your particular station at which you find yoruself is not the end of the line. There is much more beyond it.

    I had some reluctance to post about my casino adventures because it was scandalous and some people in ID circles expressed concern that I was associated with the underground subculture of Advantage Players, but maybe that got some people to loosen up in this discussion and talk about stuff they normally wouldn’t.

    The last several comments by KeithS and this comment by CentralScrutinizer and Mark Frank’s comments about his reasons for engaging in debate have made this discussion worthwhile for me, and hence I’m glad I came out of the close about my checkered past.

    I also had to come out of the closet regarding my unsavory associations with Advantage Players, because so much of my understanding of life and ID is seen through the lens of skilled gambling. Many of my future posts at UD will relate the way I see ID through the lens of Advantage Play.

    Advantage Players recognize they will be wrong frequently, but Advantage Play is about wagering on the best bet in a sea of uncertainty, not necessarily betting on what is ultimately true (impossible if one isn’t God Himself).

    This post was an expression of how I’ve come to have peace about my doubts about ID, creation, YEC. It’s the best bet for me personally given what little I know….

  98. 98
    CentralScrutinizer

    keiths: Evolution wasn’t important in my deconversion from Christianity, but it did play a role in my final move from theism/deism to atheism.

    Evolution was not important in my lost of faith in the Old Testament (particularly the Torah) as a source of actual history. Textual criticism, obvious lifting of other sources (such as Sumerian creation tales), and the fact that modern archeology has all but nailed the last coffin nail in any notion that something like the Exodus happened the way the text says it happened.

    However, at this point, opposite of your experience, the more I learn of the Modern Synthesis, the less confidence I have in it as anything close to a sufficient explanation. It’s the best science we have, but it’s not good science. It’s as soft as it gets. And for me, as an engineer, what I see going on with regard to cell replication, and the internal protein based processes within cells is loud (albeit intuitive) evidence that some super-intellect has been involved.

    Time will tell.

  99. CentralScrutinizer:

    keiths, your story is nearly exactly the same as mine. And probably many thousands of others. Thanks for sharing.

    Yeah, I think there are a lot of us out there.

    One difference, however, that I have with you. I have had, many, what you might call, “numinous experiences.”

    I’ve had a couple of powerful experiences, myself. One of them when I was running an extremely high fever. That’s the problem. How can you determine that an experience, no matter how powerful or even “numinous”, is true and not just an unusual brain event with a perfectly prosaic cause?

    Why am I relating this? Because you seem like a sincere fellow, and your particular station at which you find yoruself is not the end of the line. There is much more beyond it.

    I’m open to that possibility, which is why I think these questions are important and very, very interesting. I just don’t think the evidence is there.

  100. Sal,

    Advantage Players recognize they will be wrong frequently, but Advantage Play is about wagering on the best bet in a sea of uncertainty, not necessarily betting on what is ultimately true (impossible if one isn’t God Himself).

    Your comment epitomizes one of the biggest problems with Pascal’s Wager. It doesn’t ask the question “What is most likely to be true?” It only asks, “How can I get the best payoff?”

    That’s anathema to anyone who truly cares about truth.

  101. 101
    CentralScrutinizer

    keiths: I’ve had a couple of powerful experiences, myself. One of them when I was running an extremely high fever. That’s the problem. How can you determine that an experience, no matter how powerful or even “numinous”, is true and not just an unusual brain event with a perfectly prosaic cause?

    We could generalize it and ask, how can you determine you’re not a brain in a vat? Or that Last Thursday-ism is not true. The answer is, I don’t know. All I really know, in the truest sense of that word, is that I’m a conscious thing, and am having experiences. Beyond that, I accept certain assumptions about these experiences and do the best I can.

    But to answer your question specifically, I’ll give the same answer: I don’t know. But the sheer power of the experience is inescapable. Rational explanations are, and can only ever be, secondary to the conscious experience itself. Consciousness is primary. Rational ruminations are secondary. That’s the way I see it.

    So in the most basic sense, I’m existing in a “spiritual” state all the time, passing thru various brain states that get fed into my consciousness, which is primary.

    BTW, with regards to your citation of the split-brain experiments (and people who suffer from that due to injury, etc). I was involved in one of those split-brain experiments myself. (Which is possible by temporarily numbing the corpus callosum.) And believe me, it was the damnedest thing. The thing is, even though different parts of my brain were acting as if they had no knowledge of “each other”, behind it all was still “me”, consciously experiencing the strange disconnection. It’s akin to having different senses, like hearing and sight. You, a normal person (I assume), have hearing and you have sight, and you consciously experience them both concurrently. But sight and hearing are RADICALLY different experiences within consciousness. Hearing is not sight. Yet, they are somehow unified in that single consciousness which is “you.” The split-brain experience does weird things, and causes different “circuits” to become unaware of other “circuits.” Even to the point of having different “will” about various actions. But behind the weird disconnect the conscious “you” are still experiencing all the weird disconnects. All through-out there is never more than a single consciousness, even though much confusion about how the mechanics of brain processes are apparent.

    So, while I’m convinced that much of what we think of as “free will” is largely automatic and not free, the consciousness in back of it all, experiencing it all, is a single unified “entity.” And for reasons previously stated in another post, I’m firmly convinced it’s “outside” of space-time, and merely interfaced to space-time via brains.

    This won’t convince anyone of anything, but that’s that way I see it.

  102. Your comment epitomizes one of the biggest problems with Pascal’s Wager. It doesn’t ask the question “What is most likely to be true?” It only asks, “How can I get the best payoff?”

    That’s anathema to anyone who truly cares about truth.

    I care about truth if there is a God. But why should I care about truth if there is no God? In fact if there is no God, maybe I shouldn’t care about truth because it would be too sad to know…I’d rather live out my life with the illusion of happily ever after in that case.

    Why, logically speaking should an atheist care about truth in a meaningless universe? Perhaps the logical answer is no answer. If you say, truth has a better payoff, well, then you’ve just put payoffs ahead of truth! Right back where you started.

    Not to pick on your statement, but “we create our own meaning” is pretty much to me “we concoct our own unproven falsehoods to make us feel better”.

    Thanks for you comments. This some of the best stuff I’ve seen you post ever…

    I think your objections to the Bible are those I could sympathize with, and have shared myself, that’s not to say I think those are grounds to reject the Bible. There are a lot of truths I don’t like, but have to come to terms with.

    Obviously, with respect to evolution we’ll never find agreement, but at least for once, I could empathize deeply with your viewpoint, particularly the serial genocide in the Old Testament.

  103. 103
    CentralScrutinizer

    Sal: Not to pick on your statement, but “we create our own meaning” is pretty much to me “we concoct our own unproven falsehoods to make us feel better”.

    I think that’s worthy of framing. :)

  104. keiths:

    I’ve had a couple of powerful experiences, myself. One of them when I was running an extremely high fever. That’s the problem. How can you determine that an experience, no matter how powerful or even “numinous”, is true and not just an unusual brain event with a perfectly prosaic cause?

    CentralScrutinizer:

    We could generalize it and ask, how can you determine you’re not a brain in a vat? Or that Last Thursday-ism is not true. The answer is, I don’t know.

    That’s right. We can never be sure.

    All I really know, in the truest sense of that word, is that I’m a conscious thing, and am having experiences.

    Cogito, ergo sum.

    Beyond that, I accept certain assumptions about these experiences and do the best I can.

    Yes, though it is perhaps surprising how few assumptions you really need in order to get by. Or to put it differently, you can treat many of your assumptions as provisional. They don’t need to be treated as absolute, inarguable truths.

    But to answer your question specifically, I’ll give the same answer: I don’t know. But the sheer power of the experience is inescapable.

    The sheer power of an experience doesn’t underwrite the truth of one’s interpretation of it. My fever experience was enormously powerful — I heard “celestial” music of a staggering beauty that I have never experienced before or since. It brought me to tears.

    But it happened in the midst of a high fever. Which explanation is more likely — that I just happened to tap into the numinous in the midst of a high fever, or that the high fever itself caused my brain to malfunction in a particularly moving way? The latter seems far more plausible.

    Rational explanations are, and can only ever be, secondary to the conscious experience itself.

    Only in the sense that rational inferences about the world depend on the information we gather through our conscious sensory experiences. That doesn’t automatically validate every conscious experience, obviously.

    Your split-brain experience sounds fascinating. Could you post your description on the “soul thread”, or better yet in my TSZ thread on the topic?

  105. CentralScrutinizer, thanks for your split brain testimony. Very fascinating to have a first person account of what happens!,,, If you don’t mind me getting asking, how in the world were they able to entice you into such a bizarre experiment?

  106. Sal,

    I care about truth if there is a God. But why should I care about truth if there is no God?

    Because the value of truth doesn’t depend on the existence of God. Why would it?

    In fact if there is no God, maybe I shouldn’t care about truth because it would be too sad to know…I’d rather live out my life with the illusion of happily ever after in that case.

    I think you may actually be living that way. Your attraction to Pascal’s Wager seems to be based on a belief that the truth isn’t very important to your “payoff”.

    Why, logically speaking should an atheist care about truth in a meaningless universe? Perhaps the logical answer is no answer. If you say, truth has a better payoff, well, then you’ve just put payoffs ahead of truth! Right back where you started.

    Of course “payoffs” are primary. It’s just that you don’t seem to think that the truth leads to better payoffs. I do.

    If we were actually better off not pursuing the truth, and if we somehow knew that with near certainty, then I would advocate not pursuing the truth.

    Of course, to find out that we were better off not pursuing the truth, we would have to pursue the truth of that statement itself. And we would want to keep questioning it in case we made a mistake. That would mean considering the truth of related ideas, and before we knew it, we’d be back in full pursuit of the truth again.

    Not to pick on your statement, but “we create our own meaning” is pretty much to me “we concoct our own unproven falsehoods to make us feel better”.

    Not at all. The fact that X does (or doesn’t) love me is an objective truth. The meaning I attach to her love is subjective (in the emotional sense of the word ‘meaning’, which is the relevant one here).

    I think your objections to the Bible are those I could sympathize with, and have shared myself, that’s not to say I think those are grounds to reject the Bible. There are a lot of truths I don’t like, but have to come to terms with.

    Obviously, with respect to evolution we’ll never find agreement, but at least for once, I could empathize deeply with your viewpoint, particularly the serial genocide in the Old Testament.

    I’d be curious to hear how you reconcile that with your faith. Your attraction to YEC seems to be motivated by a hope that the Bible is true and trustworthy and that YEC could help establish that, but if the Bible is true, then all of those nasty stories about God are also true.

    Wouldn’t that be bad news for you?

  107. 107
    CentralScrutinizer

    BA77: how in the world were they able to entice you into such a bizarre experiment?

    Because I’m a bizarre person? :D

    Seriously, one of my best friends is a neurologist research scientist.

  108. bornagain77:

    CentralScrutinizer, thanks for your split brain testimony. Very fascinating to have a first person account of what happens!,,,

    I knew BA would be ecstatic. Don’t get too excited, BA. CS’s experience doesn’t mean what you (and he) think it means.

    I’ll explain on the other thread.

  109. CS,

    I’m envious. I would love to have that experience, though I’d be a little nervous about the procedure.

    I’m more likely to volunteer for a transcranial magnetic stimulation study.

    I knew about the Wada test, where an entire hemisphere is anesthetized, but I didn’t realize that they could confine it to the corpus callosum. How do they do that?

  110. keiths, in case you don’t know by now, since you don’t really respect empirical evidence except when you can twist to suit your purposes, I really have a very low view of your opinion on anything.

  111. 111
    CentralScrutinizer

    CC: We could generalize it and ask, how can you determine you’re not a brain in a vat? Or that Last Thursday-ism is not true. The answer is, I don’t know.

    Keiths: That’s right. We can never be sure.

    I would say we can never know at all, full stop. “Surety” pertains to a feeling of confidence. I have learned not to put much stock in feelings with regards to the adjudication of reality. :)

    CC: All I really know, in the truest sense of that word, is that I’m a conscious thing, and am having experiences.

    K: Cogito, ergo sum.

    I would put it a bit differently, since “thinking” is a brain-triggered, secondary mode that informs consciousness. I would simply say: “I’m conscious.” Full stop. It’s the fundamental truth. The only truth I know without qualification. Therefore, there is no “therefore” about it. :)

    CC: Beyond that, I accept certain assumptions about these experiences and do the best I can.

    K: Yes, though it is perhaps surprising how few assumptions you really need in order to get by. Or to put it differently, you can treat many of your assumptions
    as provisional. They don’t need to be treated as absolute, inarguable truths.

    I agree. I call them my “working hypotheses.”

    K: The sheer power of an experience doesn’t underwrite the truth of one’s interpretation of it.

    I agree. An interpretation is not the experience itself. For example, one can have a vision of a glorious cross in the sky and then conclude Jesus or Mary is trying to communication to them. The basic fact of the vision is primary and any interpretation that follows is secondary by definition. Some conscious experiences are simply what they are with absolutely no path to a rational interpretation. And yet there is meaning there. Primary meaning. Just like the conscious experience of “blue” simply is what it is. There is no interpretation.

    K: My fever experience was enormously powerful — I heard “celestial” music of a staggering beauty that I have never experienced before or since. It brought me
    to tears. But it happened in the midst of a high fever. Which explanation is more likely — that I just happened to tap into the numinous in the midst of a high fever, or that the high fever itself caused my brain to malfunction in a particularly moving way? The latter seems far more plausible.

    Those are not mutually exclusive. Both are true, in my view. Your brain was in a very unusual state when it was all “fevered up.” Various psychoactive chemicals can trigger amazing things too not normally experienced. This is well known, obviously. There is no doubt that the brain determines the states of consciousness. But as I see it, it is “merely” a trigger or interface to consciousness. But not the “thing” of consciousness itself. Correlation but not causation. Your fevered brain was in such a mode that informed your consciousness to react in a particular mode.

    Now, you might say, why invent some thing called “consciousness” if the brain states are obviously driving the experience. Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it. All I can say is that I know that it is, and many others do to. How we know it is impossible to explain. So, of course, it’s useless information to you. But some of the readers here know what I’m talking about.

    CC: Rational explanations are, and can only ever be, secondary to the conscious experience itself.

    K: Only in the sense that rational inferences about the world depend on the information we gather through our conscious sensory experiences. That doesn’t automatically validate every conscious experience, obviously.

    Depends on what you mean by conscious experience. I agree that interpretations (which are based on neural processes) are always subject to failure. But a conscious experience, per se, can never be wrong. It simply is what it is. I hope you’re seeing the difference.

    If any of this seems to make no sense, try to keep in mind that where I’m coming from, consciousness is primary. The brain informs it and determines its states. Maybe that will help.

    K: Your split-brain experience sounds fascinating. Could you post your description on the “soul thread”, or better yet in my TSZ thread on the topic?

    I’ll see what I can do.

    P.S. how did I get off the rails onto this topic? Oh well. That’s what happens when I post stuff late at night like I did last night. :)

  112. Because the value of truth doesn’t depend on the existence of God.

    Value means PAYOFF! What is the payoff if there is no God.

  113. Sal,

    You’re not paying attention. Please reread this comment, in which I affirm the importance of “payoff”.

    Our difference seems to hinge on whether seeking the truth leads in general to a better payoff. I think it does, and nothing about that depends on assuming that God exists.

    Why would it?

    Truth has lots of payoffs, both practical and esthetic. Why wouldn’t an atheist seek it?

  114. 114
    CentralScrutinizer

    keiths: I knew about the Wada test, where an entire hemisphere is anesthetized, but I didn’t realize that they could confine it to the corpus callosum. How do they do that?

    I got drilled. Some people go rock climbing. (The thought of that terrifies me.) I let myself be an experimental guinea pig. But as I said, one of my best pals is a neurologist brain researcher.

    By the way, I also did get the sodium amylate or whatever the hell that stuff is for putting 1/2 your brain to sleep on two separate occasions. Given my dual nature as an engineer and a musician I found that quite fascinating. I didn’t realize how darn integrated BOTH activities are, and yet there are “compartments” as best as I can describe. Of course, half your physical body goes to sleep too during that, which was weird as hell, and I didn’t like that too much.

    We sometimes hear people say that music and art and emotions tend to be one hemisphere, and logical thinking and language on the other, there’s a lot to that, but it’s not quite so cut and dried. That’s a story for another day. But I can tell you one thing, the brain is one funky “device” from the standpoint of conscious experience. And no matter what bizarre mode I was in, (like dual streams of verbal thoughts at the same time during the corpus callosum “test”, although one seemed “stupid” and other seemed “smart”), there was still always one conscious “me” observing the madness. Impossible to fully explain. And analogy would be kind of like looking at a solid object and seeing the solid as a solid AND looking right though it at the same time. How you convey THAT to someone who hasn’t experienced it?

    Anyway, I’m rambling…

  115. . Your attraction to YEC seems to be motivated by a hope that the Bible is true and trustworthy and that YEC could help establish that, but if the Bible is true, then all of those nasty stories about God are also true.

    Wouldn’t that be bad news for you?

    Don’t know for sure, but the Bible is kind to Doubting Thomases (see Jude 1:22). For that matter all the Apostles were Doubter’s even John the Baptist. At least I’m trying to find faith. If it’s bad news for me its badder news for….

    I accept that you and others have honestly tried to believe, at least that’s the way you guys see it. But I’m saying, imho, this whole “we create our own meaning” is worse than the religious ideas you are criticizing. You “know” there is no meaning, but you’ll pretend there is anyway. Reminds me of Coyne who “knows” there is no free will but he’ll pretend there is anyway.

    You talk about the value (and value implies payoff) of truth, yet you criticize me for expressing ideas in terms of payoffs. Ok, would you prefer is said value as in expectation value. Truth has payoff, it has value in and of itself if there is a God, because God is truth. But how can you logically demonstrate inherent payoff of truth in a meaningless, Godless, expiring world. As Russell pointed out, the universe will burn out. Everything you lived for, even truth will be erased as if it never was — at least that would be the case in Godless, meaningless, expiring world.

    I’m just arguing, you’re supposed rationality doesn’t seem to me as airtight as you suppose. It seems your presumed payoff table (truth has intrinsic value) isn’t consistent with your world view. If Darwinism and atheism are true, then the value of truth is undetermined at best and may be negative in certain contexts. Painful truths like painful surgery in that case need anesthesia. The anesthesia for painful truth is this falsehood: “we create our own meaning”.

    You think Dawkins and your current views are rational. This essay is actually an indirect criticism such supposed rationality as “we create our own meaning”.

  116. 116
    CentralScrutinizer

    Sal and Keiths,

    If God exists, it is incumbent on us to do what he says or else.

    If God doesn’t exist, then why shouldn’t it be an “eat, drink and be merry” pragmatism?

    I can’t see why it’s a complicated matter.

  117. FWIW KeithS,

    I know we’re in disagreement on many things, but I feel your last several comments have been the best stuff I’ve read from you ever!

    Why? Deep down, there is a part of me that would find reason to lament if the Christian God is real. That means there is a Judge who will have a judgement day, that the plagues of Egypt and Noahs flood were real, plus all the intelligently designed retribution toward the children of Israel and eventually even the intelligently designed retribution of hellfire. Darwin himself found it unacceptable:

    I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished.

    I empathize with your revulsion at the possibility such a Deity exists. Myself, I can’t run away from what seem credible possibilities of the Christian God’s existence even if I don’t like what it would imply.

    If I felt ID had no chance of being true, I wouldn’t be here at UD arguing with you. Maybe I’d be trying to figure out how to “create my own meaning”.

  118. 118
    CentralScrutinizer

    sal: there is a part of me that would find reason to lament if the Christian God is real.

    Sal, I realize this is not the time or place, but if the Bible accurately describes God, then God’s got a LOT of explaining to do. Don’t you agree?

  119. God is real.

    Sal, I realize this is not the time or place, but if the Bible accurately describes God, then God’s got a LOT of explaining to do. Don’t you agree?

    I wouldn’t necessarily put it in those words, but I understand the sentiments. :-)

    Bill Dembski did say, the deeper mystery is why an individual found grace. It seemed a tough pill to swallow, but well, why am I luckier (blessed) more than others? I surely didn’t deserve it. Maybe it’s just as well in some cases I don’t know why…

    The reason I liked KeithS recent postings is he actually gave substantive reasons for his rejection of God — things I could identify with. But Darwinian evolution? I wouldn’t throw my faith away for that, it isn’t even science, it isn’t true. I don’t see how it can be. Bad bet.

  120. CentralScrutinizer if I may,

    Sal, I realize this is not the time or place, but if the Bible accurately describes God, then God’s got a LOT of explaining to do. Don’t you agree?

    yet preciously you stated:

    If God exists, it is incumbent on us to do what he says or else.

    Ergo, ‘if’ the Bible accurately describes God then it is incumbent on us to best correct why we think God should behave in a way contrary to the way the Bible accurately describes Him acting.

    Myself, I find starting off from the fact that Jesus actually did rise from the dead to be an extremely humbling place to approach scripture for it is in that light that everything else within scripture falls into place:

    A British agnostic once said “let’s not discuss the other miracles; let’s discuss the resurrection. Because if the resurrection is true, then the other miracles are easily explained; and if the resurrection is not true, the other miracles do not matter.”

    and to that end:

    Shroud of Turin – Carbon 14 test proves false (with Raymond Rogers, lead chemist from the STURP project) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxDdx6vxthE

    THE SHROUD AS AN ANCIENT TEXTILE – Evidence of Authenticity
    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

    Here is a fairly good ‘unbiased’ article on the ‘laser’ test which undermined the credibility of the carbon dating from a completely different angle;

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

    Scientific hypotheses on the origin of the body image of the Shroud – 2010
    Excerpt: for example, if we consider the density of radiation that we used to color a single square centimeter of linen, to reproduce the entire image of the Shroud with a single flash of light would require fourteen thousand lasers firing simultaneously each on a different area of linen. In other words, it would take a laser light source the size of an entire building.
    http://www.30giorni.it/articoli_id_22597_l3.htm

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image on the Shroud I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before.

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffery Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,,
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79741.html

  121. Since this thread talked about Casino’s and the Holy Rollers, one might wonder how God was able to reach souls in an industry that has a reputation for harboring degenerates (maybe myself included in that list, ha!).

    Dawkins suggests Christianity spreads via indoctrination and bullying. Maybe that can explain some of it, but take a look at this story in Wikipedia of famous gambler Doyle Brunson. This was heart warming:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doyle_Brunson

    Brunson met his future wife, Louise, in 1960 and married her in August 1962. Louise became pregnant, but later that year, a tumor was discovered in Doyle’s neck. When it was operated on, the surgeons found that the cancer had spread and declared it incurable. They felt that an operation would prolong his life long enough for him to see the birth of the baby, so they went ahead with it. After the operation, no trace of the cancer could be found.[8] The doctors said that his recovery must have been a miracle, and Brunson has attributed his cure to the prayers of friends of his wife and their correspondence with Kathryn Kuhlman, a self-proclaimed Christian faith healer.[9] Louise developed a tumor shortly afterwards and, when she went for surgery, her tumor was also found to have disappeared. In 1975, their daughter Doyla was diagnosed with scoliosis, yet her spine straightened completely within three months.

    Doyla died at 18 when she took too much potassium for a heart-valve condition. Over the following year, Brunson read Christian literature and converted to Christianity.

    Maybe I shouldn’t divulge the following because it was from a private forum, written by my friend and famous blackjack author Mike Bootlegger Turner. He passed away, and I’m posting this because I think even though it came from a private forum, he’s surely told the story elsewhere publicly, and I think he wouldn’t mind because Bootlegger was a Christian:

    Here is a true example of faith healing of which I am personally aware. Like myself, my first cousin was raised in the Pentacostal church. Pentacostals take the gifts of the Holy Spirit very seriously, to the point where those gifts form the foundation of their theology. One of those gifts is healing and they believe in faith healing.

    This cousin, who is named Bill, was living in California at the time. I suppose one could call him a “lapsed” Pentacostal. They would use the term “back-slid.” He was a heavy drinking, drug using womanizer. But that religious background was still in him somewhere.

    He was living in an apartment complex in Los Angeles and he became acquainted with a woman in the complex. She had a daughter who was around 12 years old at the time. The daughter was afflicted with some form of bone cancer and it had progressed to the point where she was confined to a wheelchair. There was no cure at the time and her disease was considered to be terminal.

    Bill took great pity on her and convinced her Catholic and Hispanic mother to bring her daughter with him to a service being conducted by a well-known faith healer at the time named Katherine Kuhlman. They went and Kuhlman prayed for the daughter and laid hands on her. The daughter literally rose up out of her wheelchair and walked.

    Later, upon examination by her physicians, the cancer was nowhere to be found. This happened more than 40 years ago. Bill has long since moved back to Ohio as a reformed man. The daughter still makes periodic contact with him, usually through Christmas cards and the like. She grew up and became a mother herself and as far as I know, has lived a cancer free and healthy life.

    I don’t know how it happened and I can’t say that every alleged faith healing performed by Katherine Kuhlman was as effective as this one. But it did happen and it is something I would call a miracle. We may find a scientific explanation for these kinds of things someday. But for now, a miracle it remains.

    Even granting the Kuhlman had maybe some not so flattering facts about her, Jesus is the healer ultimately, not flawed individuals.

    If Darwinian evolution were true we might have reason to dismiss miracles as an illusion from our lack of scientific knowledge. If ID is true, miracles become more plausible. Indeed, in my book, life is a miracle, so is healing, however God chose to bring it about — but some healings make a bigger statement than others.

    Stories like this abound if one is willing to look. People that had little or no Christian upbringing or who walked away from the faith, somehow God invades their lives. ID gave me a rational basis for accepting many of these accounts as true. And for what its worth, I’ve had my experiences as well, too personal to talk about. Rare, but hard to dismiss.

  122. CentralScrutinizer, if I may plug Harvard neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander’s book ‘Proof of Heaven’ a couple of more times, since I know your friend is a neurosurgeon. I really enjoyed his book and it is a popular book that I’ve shared with my friends.,, Plus I look forward to his forthcoming book (I don’t know when he will release it) since he says he is going to try to analyze his experience from a quantum mechanical perspective.

    A neurosurgeon confronts the non-material nature of consciousness – December 2011
    Excerpted quote: To me one thing that has emerged from my experience and from very rigorous analysis of that experience over several years, talking it over with others that I respect in neuroscience, and really trying to come up with an answer, is that consciousness outside of the brain is a fact. It’s an established fact. And of course, that was a hard place for me to get, coming from being a card-toting reductive materialist over decades. It was very difficult to get to knowing that consciousness, that there’s a soul of us that is not dependent on the brain.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ciousness/

    and

    Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife – Dr. Eben Alexander – Oct 8, 2012
    Excerpt: One of the few places I didn’t have trouble getting my story across was a place I’d seen fairly little of before my experience: church. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. The colors of the stained-glass windows recalled the luminous beauty of the landscapes I’d seen in the world above. The deep bass notes of the organ reminded me of how thoughts and emotions in that world are like waves that move through you. And, most important, a painting of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples evoked the message that lay at the very heart of my journey: that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned of as a child in Sunday school.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....rlife.html

  123. And as an antidote to BA’s uncritical embrace of anything in line with his theological preconceptions:

    This Must Be Heaven

  124. Tell you what keiths, if you can refute Leggett’s and Bell’s inequalities which have overthrown your materialistic/atheistic preference for how reality ought to be constructed, you will garner my respect as a man who respects science, until then, especially citing Harris, you are just another Darwinian troll who doesn’t care what lie he has to tell to believe as he wants!

  125. 125
    CentralScrutinizer

    BA77,

    Lot of ground to cover there in your posts. And I will deal with the jist of your points soon. But let me just say that if Jesus really resurrected from the dead, and I met him, the first thing I would ask him is why the Bible contains so many contradictions and so much demonstrably false information.

    I concede it is possible a Messiah figure could have died and rose from the dead in the first century, and still maintain that the Bible is loaded with problems. Keep in mind that “the Bible” is not “one book” but rather a collection of many different texts, some of which may contain truth, and some which may be patently false, and some a mixture of true and false. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. Just ask any Jew. The subject is a very interesting one, and has occupied a great deal of my time.

    More later. Time for ZZZZzzzz.

  126. By the way, are killer whales (orcas) psychopaths because they toss sea lions around for sport before they gobble them up? Or lions psychopaths for killing gazelles? What about cats toying with mice before they eat them?

    Or Darwin for shooting birds just for fun or beating puppies simply for enjoying the sense of power!

  127. Well CentralScrutinizer, I’ve found Dr. Timothy McGrew to be a very good resource for addressing and refuting the overall claim from atheists that the gospels are filled with contradictions:

    Alleged Contradictions in the Gospels – Dr. Timothy McGrew – video
    https://vimeo.com/59940602

    These following videos were also helpful:

    Who Wrote the Gospels? – Dr. Timothy McGrew – Week 1 – video
    https://vimeo.com/57485839

    The Gospels as History: External Evidence – Dr. Timothy McGrew – video
    https://vimeo.com/58486762

    The Gospels as History: Internal Evidence – Dr. Timothy McGrew – video
    https://vimeo.com/59012954

    As I am sure you are well aware CentralScrutinizer, there are many other apologetic resources in this area,,, but as to the main claim, the only claim that really matters to us personally, the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, (and really what other claim can really matter to us since we all must die?), once again I find the Shroud of Turin to be a powerful piece of evidence that stubbornly refuses to be refuted by atheists.

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

    Condensed notes on The Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/15IGs-5nupAmTdE5V-_uPjz25ViXbQKi9-TyhnLpaC9U/edit

    But what I find completely unexpected CentralScrutinizer, is that the Shroud of Turin also provides actual physical evidence that lends strong support to the position that the ‘Zero/Infinity conflict’ that we find between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics was successfully dealt with by Christ:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    http://www.academicjournals.or.....onacci.pdf

    Now CentralScrutinizer, in all honesty, this very credible reconciliation between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics should not even be on the ‘radar scope of reason’. But there it sits, this enigmatic cloth that refuses to be swept under the rug, and of all things this cloth offering a very credible solution to the number one problem in science today. i.e. the reconciliation of quantum mechanics and general relativity into the ‘theory of everything’. It should certainly raise any honest persons eyebrows as to how a supposed superstitious old religious relic could find itself in such a bizarre position, right in the middle of the number one problem in science today. CentralScrutinizer, There is something that is just a little bit ‘too neat’ in all this! But as to the person who believes the central claim of the gospels, that Jesus Christ is actually who He says He is, then this fits perfectly:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Glorious Day – Casting Crowns – music
    http://myktis.com/songs/glorious-day/

  128. Not having followed this thread, but just linked to it, I thought this was worth noting:

    “much of my understanding of life and ID is seen through the lens of skilled gambling” – Salvador T. Cordova

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