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Is Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

First, I’d like to thank Mr. Arrington for granting me posting privileges.  I consider it quite an honor, and I hope this post (and any future posts) warrants this trust.

Second, the following is an argument I think will help us to focus on a fundamental issue that lies behind ever so many of the debates here at Uncommon Descent, and elsewhere.  That is, is the sort of implicit or even explicit atheism that is so often built in on the ground floor of a “scientific” mindset truly rationally justifiable? Such cannot be assumed, it needs to be shown.

I’ll begin by defining some terms for the sake of this argument:

Definition of God (for the purpose of this thread): First cause, prime mover, root of being, objective source of human purpose (final cause) and resulting morality, source of free will, mind, consciousness; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent inasmuch as principles of logic allow; an interventionist as necessary to facilitate movement towards final cause and also inasmuch as logical principles are not violated; source of logic — “reason itself.” (I am not talking in particular about any specifically defined religious interpretation of god, such as the Chrstian or Islamic God.)

Definition: Weak, or negative atheism is the lack of any belief that a god exists, and the position that a god probably doesn’t exist, and is not the positive belief that gods do not exist (strong atheism), and is not agnosticism (the lack of belief that god either does or does not exist and the further view that there is a lack of sufficient probability either way).  Strong atheism is the belief that no god or gods exist at all.

Definition: A worldview or mindset is rationally justified when it answers adequately to the facts of the real world as we experience or observe it, makes good sense and fits together logically, is simple but not simplistic, and honestly faces the issues and difficulties that all worldviews face.

Definition: Intellectual dishonesty occurs when (1) one deliberately mischaracterizes their position or view in order to avoid having to logically defend their actual views; and/or (2) when someone is arguing, or making statements against a position while remaining willfully ignorant about that position, and/or (3) when someone categorically and/or pejoratively dismisses all existent and/or potential evidence in favor of a conclusion they claim to be neutral about, whether they are familiar with that evidence or not.

These will be important as we consider:

Evidence in favor of God:  The following is a brief summary of the evidence that typically leads many people to make a general finding that a god (as described above) exists, even if variantly interpreted or culturally contextualized:

(1)
Anecdotal evidence for the apparently intelligently ordered anomalous, miraculous (defying expected natural processes and probabilities) events attributed to god, such as signs, supernatural events (e.g. Fatima, Guadeloupe, Paul’s Damascus Road Experience), or answers to prayers to god;

(2)
Testimonial evidence (first-hand accounts) of experience of such phenomena, including interactions with a god-like being or accounts of god-like interventions;  Also, the testimony of religious adherents of various specific gods can be counted as evidence of the god premised in this argument in the manner that various cultures can vary widely in their description of certain phenomena or experiences, and come up with widely variant “explanations”; what is interesting as evidence here, though, is the widespread crediting of similar kinds of phenomena and experience to a “god” of some sort (which might be the case of blind or ignorant people touching different parts of an elephant and thus describing “what the elephant is” in various ways). Such testimonial evidence can be counted in favor of the premise here, but cannot be held against it where it varies, because it is not testimony that such a god doesn’t exist.

(3)
The various Cosmological and Ontological Arguments for the existence of god;

(4)  The Strong Anthropic (or Fine Tuning) argument and other evidences for design of our world and of life in it;

(5) The empirical, scientific evidence assembled in support of the design arguments in #4 (such as recently persuaded Antony Flew — formerly the world’s leading philosophical atheist — that there is a god);

(6) The Moral arguments for the existence of god.

(7) Empirical and testimonial evidence of phenomena closely correlated to the existence of a god as described above, such as the survival of consciousness after death, and the existence of an afterlife realm; the evidence for interactions with correlated entities such as angels and demons (which seem to act to influence our free will towards or away from our human purpose), etc., gathered by various serious and scientific investigations into what is often referred to as the “paranormal”, including mediumship studies dating back to William Crooke and ongoing through the work at Pear Labs and the Scole Experiment, including consciousness-survival research published in the Lancet. While indirect, this evidence tends to support the proposition that god exists.

While the various arguments listed above have been subjected to counter-arguments and rebuttals of varying strengths and weaknesses across the ages, one must not lose sight that while there is much evidence of all sorts (as listed above) in favor of the existence of god; there is zero empirical evidence (to my knowledge) or and little in the way of rational argument that no such god exists.  In other words, decreasing the value of the arguments and evidence for god does not increase the value of the position that there is no god; it can only increase the reasonableness of the “weak atheist” (there isn’t enough evidence) or an agnostic position.

The commonly seen rebuttals to these argument are simply attempting to show weaknesses in or alternatives to the arguments themselves so that such arguments cannot be taken as demonstratively convincing (that god exists); such counter-arguments as a rule do not actually make the case that god (as described above) in fact does not exist.

The argument against weak atheism:

The above shows us that, ironically, strong atheism is a weak position. That is probably why atheism advocates seldom defend it in informed company. So, we must first focus on the “stronger” atheist position, the one they defend in public: “weak atheism,” generally described as absence of belief in god or gods. I will argue that it too is far weaker than is commonly recognized.

I know of no positive arguments for the strong “there is no god” position, other than the argument from evil which has been addressed by Boethius, Adams  and Platinga. Aside from that, there are only rebuttals/reactions to various “there is a god” arguments. This exemplifies how rebutting an argument does not eliminate it as evidence, it only offers an alternative perspective that one  can evaluate along with the original argument.   Depending on the strength of the rebuttal or alternative explanation, that particular positive evidence for god may be decreased in value, but there is no concurrent increase in the value of an argument against the existence of god (as described above).

If a “weak atheist” claims to “lack belief” because there is “no evidence for god,” he or she is necessarily being intellectually dishonest, because we certainly aren’t privy to all potential or available evidence. Are such atheists claiming to be omniscient? If not, then, a more modest and reasonable point would be that they are not aware of evidence for god. However, given what we have already seen, such “weak atheists” cannot genuinely claim to not know of “any” evidence for god after having perused any of the above evidence.  That is to say, there is evidence for god, just, they don’t accept it. But incredulity or hyper-skepticism on your part does not equate to “no evidence” on my part. Testimony from otherwise credible sources is not made “less credible” simply because the testimony is about something the listener personally finds to be in-credible; it is not intellectually honest to discredit the credibility of testimony only on the basis of the subject matter being debated.

Also, strong atheists often only refer to themselves as weak atheists because they have realized that the strong atheist position is an assertion they cannot support in informed company.  They do this to provide cover for their real view, which is an obvious form of intellectual dishonesty.  One can often discern when this is going on when the person ridicules belief in god or makes categorical dismissals about evidence they have never even seen; they believe there is no god, and so assume there can be no valid evidence for god, and advocate for that position rhetorically via ridicule.

Even if the “weak atheist” is not aware of any compelling evidence for god, he or she must know that we humans are quite limited in what we know, and may often be unaware of mistakes in what we think we know. That means that any categorical claim a “weak” atheist makes about the available evidence he or she is not privy to — that it is not credible or convincing — is again intellectually dishonest because you cannot justifiably make a categorical claim about something you have no knowledge of.

So, if we have a weak atheist who is aware of the existence of the above evidence and agrees that there might be more evidence they are not privy to; and who does not categorically assert problems with the evidence they have not yet seen; and who does not categorically dismiss the available evidence as “non-evidence” due to hyper-skeptical bias but rather states that the available evidence they have seen is not compelling towards a conclusion that god exists; then one must ask the following:

In the face of such overwhelming amounts of evidence — thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories; many serious arguments based on credible empirical evidence and apparently necessary logical premises and inferences; and, the complete lack of any generally successful attempt to make a sound argument that god in fact does not exist — one must ask: how can any intellectually honest person come to any conclusion other than that on the balance of the evidence, god probably existseven if god is poorly and diversely defined, and even if the experience of god is open to various interpretations and even to misunderstanding?

As an analogy: even if one has never personally experienced “love”; in the face of thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories that love exists, and empirical evidence supporting that certain physical states correspond to assertions of experiences of love, would it be intellectually honest to “lack belief” that love exists, or would it be intellectually honest to hold the view that even though one doesn’t experience love (or using the same argument, color, joy, dreams, etc.), that love probably exists – even if people are widely disparate in their explanation, description, or presentation of what love is?

Another analogy: because witnesses disagree in their description of a criminal suspect in a crime, or disagree about the particulars of the crime they witnessed, this doesn’t mean there is no criminal at all.  Depending on the testimony and evidence, one may hold that it is likely that a crime occurred, and so it is likely that a criminal exists, but that the arguments, testimony and evidence are  not enough reach a finding of “guilty” for any particular suspect.

As far as I am aware of there is no anecdotal or testimonial evidence that god does not exist (because lack of experience of a thing isn’t evidence the thing doesn’t exist), very little in the way of logical argument towards that conclusion, and there is a vast array of logical, anecdotal, testimonial and empirical evidence that god (at least as generally described above) does exist. Because a billion people did not witness a crime, and only a handful did, doesn’t tilt the scales in favor of no crime having been committed at all; imagine now a billion people that report witnessing a crime, and handful that did not, and you have something more comparable to the state of evidence concerning the existence of god.

Even if one doesn’t find that evidence compelling for for a final conclusion that god exists,  when one weighs the balance of the evidence for and against god, one should be willing to at least consider whether it is more probable that god (as described above) exists than that god does not exist.  Problematically (for the atheist), the view that it is more likely that god exists than not is not any sort of an atheistic position.

The argument against strong atheism:

Strong atheism is defined as the assertion that no god or gods exist whatsoever.

First, it is obvious that strong atheism cannot be logically supported, simply because it is impossible to prove (not in the absolute sense, but in the “sufficient evidence” sense). There may be evidence and good argument that certain gods, or kinds of gods, do not exist; but there is certainly no generally accepted evidence or successful argument that no significant, meaningful god or gods whatsoever exist, including the one as defined for this thread.

Instead of trying to actually support their own claim, strong atheists usually attempt to shift the burden of proof onto theists by essentially asking the theists to prove the atheist position wrong, implying or asserting that atheism must be held true by default.  That is, such try to argue that they have nothing to argue and can sit comfortably on their view as a default. However, that is not so; every worldview of consequence has a duty to show that it is factually adequate, coherent and explains reality powerfully and simply.  Strong atheism is not a default position; it is a positive assertion that no god or gods exist.  The default position is always “I don’t know” or true agnosticism.

Strong atheism is a sweeping, categorical assertion that something does not exist. As such, It has the job of proving a universal negative.  Perhaps this could be accomplished by showing the converse positive claim to be self-contradictory, and readers advocating strong atheism are invited to make their case based upon the definition of God at the top of this post.

Also, however unlikely it may seem to an atheist, it might be true that a god of some sort exists outside of the circle of what she or he knows or what the collective of atheists actually know. After all, we all know full well that “to err is human.” So, since the atheist could be mistaken or ignorant of the key fact or argument that would be decisive,  the strong atheist position unjustifiably excludes a potentially true explanation from consideration.  What is the rationally useful point of a metaphysical position that excludes a potentially true explanation from consideration?  Especially when it requires asserting an unsupportable universal negative? What, then, does strong atheism bring to the table of debate other than the potential for intractable error and denial of potential truth for the sake of a sweeping, unsupportable, universally negative assertion?

Conclusion: atheism is an untenable position for any intellectually honest, rational, and informed person. The belief that god (as described above, which is supported by the listed evidence) does not exist, or that it isn’t more likely that god exists than not, can only be a position based on ignorance of the available evidence and argument for god, or a hyper-skeptical, intellectually dishonest, ideologically biased, a priori dismissal of all of the evidence for the existence of god.

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683 Responses to Is Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

  1. WJM:

    Welcome aboard, mon!

    You are raising some pretty serious issues about the reasonableness of atheism, which is a significant challenge to a view and agenda that are running pretty rampant these days.

    Let us see what the atheists have to say, and where that will lead.

    KF

    PS: Here are my own reflections on the reasonableness challenges of evolutionary materialism, which is a key feature of the relevant forms of atheism we deal with. (There are some oddball varieties out there and some variant forms that are more important in other civilisations or eras, but the kinds that are common like to wear the lab coat.)

  2. 2

    Thanks for the kind words, help & input, KF.

    I actually presented this basic argument in several other forums over the past few years, and have never seen anything more than superficial (and largely irrational) responses – a lot of rhetoric and ridicule, but nothing substantial. Which points, IMO, towards the conclusion that a lot of atheism (especially in the West) is fueled by emotion (outrage that evil exists, anti-authoritarianism) and not sound logic or evidence.

  3. I have a general question. Is it possible to believe in either strong or weak atheism and reject materialism? I have never understood people who claim they are atheists, but not materialists. I look at this as more intellectual dishonesty. I think that logic demands that once you admit that something exists beyond materialism, there must be at least one God. Any answers for me?

  4. BTW – I think that “belief in materialism” is a self-refuting argument, because if materialism is true then “belief” is merely an illusion since belief implies choice and (I believe) choice is excluded in a materialistic world. If belief in atheism logically implies materialism, then it suffers from the same internal inconsistency and one has to declare either atheism wrong or logic wrong.

  5. JDH: There are various kinds of idealists who reject materialism, but such highly philosophical forms are not in fashion these days. KF

  6. Do you really mean to say that if I profess to be an atheist that I am either intellectually dishonest, irrational, uninformed, or some combination of these?

    Do you really think the seven items given as “evidence in favor of God” are so good and iron-clad that one cannot find all of them rather weak and un-compelling?

    It seems to me that we have very good ways of formulating worldviews, morality, government and society without needing to resort a God or gods. I’m not making a positive assertion that no gods exist so much as acknowledging that you tell me there are gods (or is a God, as the case may be). That’s very nice that you think so, but if you want me to accept your view or even take it seriously, you need to bring much, much more to the table.

  7. Premises and Conclusion:

    1. There is no evidence against the existence of God.
    2. There is at the very least some evidence in favor of the existence of God.
    3. Therefor it is more probable that god exists than that God does not exist.

  8. Welcome, WJM. Your comments have always been absolutely fascinating, I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

  9. LarTanner:

    That’s very nice that you think so, but if you want me to accept your view or even take it seriously, you need to bring much, much more to the table.

    In light of Box’s formulation in comment #7, why?

    Also:

    …without needing to resort a God or gods.

    Why? This suggests that there is a prior need to NOT resort to God. Where does this prior need arise, particularly in light of WJM’s OP, and Box’s summary in comment #7?

  10. 10

    Box: yes, that’s the TL;DR version :)

    LarTanner asks: “Do you really mean to say that if I profess to be an atheist that I am either intellectually dishonest, irrational, uninformed, or some combination of these?”

    Yes. That is the case I’ve made above.

    LarTanner asks: “Do you really think the seven items given as “evidence in favor of God” are so good and iron-clad that one cannot find all of them rather weak and un-compelling?”

    No. However, finding the evidence and argument “weak” and “not compelling” doesn’t give one the rational basis for a finding that it is more likely that god doesn’t exist than does. It only gives one the rational basis to not commit to the conclusion that “god exists”. Given that virtually all of the available evidence and argument falls on the side of theism, and none on the side of atheism, one must provide support for their position that it is not at least more likely that a god exists.

    LarTanner says: “It seems to me …”

    I don’t really care how things “seem” to you. I’m interested in rational debate.

    Also, I’m not telling you there is a god; I’m arguing that atheism is either based on ignorance of the evidence, or it is an irrational or dishonest worldview. Whether or not there is actually a god is irrelevant to that argument.

  11. In light of Box’s formulation in comment #7, why?

    Box’s formulation provides no light, in my opinion. I imagine the professional philosophers here can adequately explain what’s wrong with Box’s logic.

    This suggests that there is a prior need to NOT resort to God.

    Well..this prior need to NOT resort to God suggests an even more prior need to NOT NOT resort to God. From where does the second need arise?

  12. Great first post WJM.

    Question for you and you’ll have to forgive my ignorance. When you speak of “Anecdotal evidence”, would that also include well documented cases of demoinc possession, such as the case documented by Dr. Gallagher in the 2008 February issue of the New Oxford Review?

    Link below for anyone interested in reading about it.

    http://www.wnd.com/2008/03/58835/

  13. Given that virtually all of the available evidence and argument falls on the side of theism, and none on the side of atheism, one must provide support for their position that it is not at least more likely that a god exists.

    Well that’s a rather charitable reading of reality!

    I’m arguing that atheism is either based on ignorance of the evidence, or it is an irrational or dishonest worldview. Whether or not there is actually a god is irrelevant to that argument.

    Uh, what? Your position is that the fact of the matter is irrelevant to the various arguments we might make about the fact.

    I bow to your Darkside philosophy.

  14. 14

    KRock: Absolutely – that evidence would be more a combination of #1 and #7, or fall somewhere between. I consider such things to be supportive of the existence of god even if it doesn’t directly implicate a god.

  15. Can we, finally, abandon any pretense that UncommonDescent is Scientific ?

    Its theology all the way down.

  16. Mr. (Or Dr.) Murray This may be of interest: Dawkins stated:

    “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” ” – Richard Dawkins

    Yet the ironic thing in Dawkins’ claim is that Darwinism relies primarily on Theological argumentation:

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes:

    I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation):

    1. Human begins are not justfied in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.
    2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.
    3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.
    4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.
    5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.
    6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.
    7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.
    8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.
    9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    The role of theology in current evolutionary reasoning – Paul A. Nelson – Biology and Philosophy, 1996, Volume 11, Number 4, Pages 493-517
    Excerpt: Evolutionists have long contended that the organic world falls short of what one might expect from an omnipotent and benevolent creator. Yet many of the same scientists who argue theologically for evolution are committed to the philosophical doctrine of methodological naturalism, which maintains that theology has no place in science. Furthermore, the arguments themselves are problematical, employing concepts that cannot perform the work required of them, or resting on unsupported conjectures about suboptimality. Evolutionary theorists should reconsider both the arguments and the influence of Darwinian theological metaphysics on their understanding of evolution.
    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....34/?MUD=MP

    From Philosopher to Science Writer: The Dissemination of Evolutionary Thought – May 2011
    Excerpt: The powerful theory of evolution hangs on this framework of thought that mandates naturalism. The science is weak but the metaphysics are strong. This is the key to understanding evolutionary thought. The weak arguments are scientific and the strong arguments, though filled with empirical observation and scientific jargon, are metaphysical. The stronger the argument, the more theological or philosophical.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....riter.html

    Dr. Hunter comments on the dilemma this line of argumentation presents for the atheist:

    “The strength of materialism is that it obviates the problem of evil altogether. God need not be reconciled with evil, because neither exists. Therefore the problem of evil is no problem at all.,,, And of course since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use evil to justify atheism. The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil-the very thing the materialist seems to deny. The argument (from Theodicy) that led to materialism is exhausted just when it is needed most. In other words, the problem of evil is only generated by the prior claims that evil exists. One cannot then conclude, with Dawkins, that there is ‘no evil and no good’ in the universe.,,,
    The fact that evolution’s acceptance hinges on a theological position would, for many, be enough to expel it from science. But evolution’s reliance on metaphysics is not its worst failing. Evolution’s real problem is not its metaphysics but its denial of its metaphysics.,,,
    Cornelius Hunter – Darwin’s God – pg. 154 & 159
    http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-.....1587430118

    Perhaps some atheists are incredulous that they could possibly be using a self-defeating theological line of argumentation to try to make their case for atheism, but the evidence is overwhelming that this is how it is, here are a few examples:

    In this following video Dr. William Lane Craig is surprised to find that evolutionary biologist Dr. Ayala uses theological argumentation in his book to support Darwinism and invites him to present evidence, any evidence at all, that Darwinism can generate functional complexity:

    Refuting The Myth Of ‘Bad Design’ vs. Intelligent Design – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

    Here, at about the 55:00 minute mark in the following video, Phillip Johnson sums up his, in my opinion, excellent lecture by noting that the refutation of his book, ‘Darwin On Trial’, in the Journal Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world, was a theological argument about what God would and would not do and therefore Darwinism must be true, and the critique from Nature was not a refutation based on any substantiating scientific evidence for Darwinism that one would expect to be brought forth in such a prestigious venue to support such a, supposedly, well supported scientific theory:

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – lecture video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

    And in the following quote, Dr. John Avise explicitly, apparently completely oblivious to his Theological presuppositions, uses Theodicy to try to make the case for Darwinism:

    It Is Unfathomable That a Loving Higher Intelligence Created the Species – Cornelius Hunter – June 2012
    Excerpt: “Approximately 0.1% of humans who survive to birth carry a duplicon-related disability, meaning that several million people worldwide currently are afflicted by this particular subcategory of inborn metabolic errors. Many more afflicted individuals probably die in utero before their conditions are diagnosed. Clearly, humanity bears a substantial health burden from duplicon-mediated genomic malfunctions. This inescapable empirical truth is as understandable in the light of mechanistic genetic operations as it is unfathomable as the act of a loving higher intelligence. [112]” – Dr. John Avise – “Inside The Human Genome”
    There you have it. Evil exists and a loving higher intelligence wouldn’t have done it that way.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....it-is.html

    What’s more ironic is that Dr. John Avise’s theological argumentation from the overwhelming rate of detrimental mutations to the human genome for Darwinism turns out to be, in fact (without Darwinian Theological blinders on), a very powerful ‘scientific’ argument against Darwinism:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....7430067209

    Anyone who has debated atheists over Darwinism for any length of time on the internet can readily identify with the following comment made by Eric:

    “One of the great ironies of the atheist mind is that no-one is more cock-sure of exactly what God is like, exactly what God would think, exactly what God would do, than the committed atheist. Of course he doesn’t believe in God, but if God did exist, he knows precisely what God would be like and how God would behave. Or so he thinks”,,,”
    Eric – UD Blogger

    Here is a very good video that exposes the Theological roots of Darwinism:

    The Descent of Darwin – Pastor Joe Boot – (The Theodicy of Darwinism) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKJqk7xF4-g

    Thus, though Dawkins and company may deny God, the fact of the matter is that they are absolutely dependent on a fairly sophomoric conception of God in order to make their argument from Theodicy to work in the first place.

  17. Of related note:

    Dawkins says he’s only ’6 out of 7′ sure God doesn’t exist – early 2012
    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/320143

    In the following video, Stein challenges Dawkins, after Dawkins had laid out his Theodological based argument against God, to put a number on his belief that God does exist:

    Ben Stein vs. Richard Dawkins Interview – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlirc

  18. 18

    Graham2: Is it your intent to derail the topic of discussion? It should be apparent to you by now that UD presents all sorts of topics for discussion and debate.

    BA77: William or Bill is fine. I’m no doctor. It is amazing to me that any anti-IDist ever made any “argument from bad design” without recognizing how irrational the argument is. You cannot tell how good or bad a design is unless you know the full intent of the design, and the full impact of limiting parameters.

  19. Its theology rationality all the way down.

    Yup.

  20. Quick question: Why is the God of your definition bound by the principles of logic?

  21. I’m OK with a designer that isn’t God nor has a God complex. A designer that is NOT omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. A designer who does not care about salvation.

    Just sayin’…

  22. Graham2-

    If God did Create us and the universe, then THAT IS SCIENCE, because science only cares about REALITY.

  23. William J Murray,
    Do you mind if i ask what your background or education is here? Especially, regarding the topic of this post (e.g. sciences, philosophy, philosophers and debate).

    If you choose not to answer, that will not be taken as negative. I know there is a reason to not post credentials in order to mitigate bias in either direction. Good reasoning should stand regardless.

    I’m just curious.

    JGuy

  24. WJM: Some previous threads were complaining that Wiki got it all wrong, ID is not related to creationism, its all Scientific, by golly. Yet UD has degenerated to nothing but philosophy/theology. Sure, you can discuss anything you like. Dental flossing is important for oral hygeine, but how is related to ID ?

    If there were any real progress in ID, we would hear about it (on this blog). There are real papers related to Evolution published more or less daily, but ID ?

  25. Semi related note that may be of mild interest:

    Both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day and shared many strange similarities:

    “Both men lost their mothers in early childhood, both suffered depression and both struggled with religious questions. The two also had poor relations with their fathers and each lost a child in early childbirth. Lincoln and Darwin both share “late bloomers” disease: Neither found real success until their middle years — Darwin published The Origin of the Species at 50 and Lincoln was elected President one year later.”

    http://www.tressugar.com/Linco.....nk-1757730

    But the one common thing that separated the two men drastically was the way they choose to handle evil in their lives. Darwin, though drifting away for a long while earlier, was permanently driven away from God because of the death of his daughter:

    “The death of his daughter was a significant event in Darwin’s life, and certainly consolidated his belief that a bad world is incompatible with a good God.”
    http://askjohnmackay.com/quest.....ristianity

    Whereas Lincoln was driven from his mild skepticism into a deeper reliance upon God because of the death of his son:

    Abraham Lincoln’s Path to Divine Providence
    Excerpt: In 1862, when Lincoln was 53 years old, his 11-year-old son Willie died. Lincoln’s wife “tried to deal with her grief by searching out New Age mediums.” Lincoln turned to Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington. Several long talks led to what Gurley described as “a conversion to Christ.” Lincoln confided that he was “driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go.”
    Similarly, the horrors of the dead and wounded soldiers assaulted him daily. There were fifty hospitals for the wounded in Washington. The rotunda of the Capitol held 2,000 cots for wounded soldiers. Typically, fifty soldiers a day died in these temporary hospitals. All of this drove Lincoln deeper into the providence of God. “We cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”
    His most famous statement about the providence of God in relation to the Civil War was his Second Inaugural Address, given a month before he was assassinated. It is remarkable for not making God a simple supporter for the Union or Confederate cause. He has his own purposes and does not excuse sin on either side.
    “Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away…. Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”
    http://www.christianity.com/th.....99728.html

  26. In ‘Why I Am Not A Christian’ (1927), Bertrand Russell takes on arguments in favor of God one by one.
    Some of his objections are simply outdated. Trying to deal with the cosmological argument he states: “There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination. Therefore, perhaps, I need not waste any more time upon the argument about the First Cause.” Bertrand was of course unaware of the Big Bang theory. For the same reason he wasn’t able to address Fine Tuning arguments.
    He pays no attention to anecdotal and testimonial evidence at all. He isn’t impressed by Jesus and hates churches.

  27. 27

    JGuy: I have no notable related background or education, other than that I had a couple of philosophy books published in the mid 1990′s.

  28. 28

    Box,

    Sure, but since I didn’t propose a Christian definition of god anyway, are his arguments really relevant here?

  29. Mr. Murray,

    Thanks for the post and opportunity to hammer out the different kind of atheism. I greatly appreciate it.

    What I would like to see from strong atheists is “I have justified true beliefs that there is no God and here they are: _____, __________, ___________.

    So far all I have seen is sneering.

  30. How would naturalism fit into atheism? Which is prior (encompasses the other)?

  31. Logic is no more than the skill to work out the things you WANT to understand, and is anything but proof against the most arrant lunacy, if the individual using it, no matter how prestigious his accreditations, chooses not to base his premises on sound, internally-coherent hypotheses, e.g. the internally-conflictual, nay, internecine, symbiosis of theodicy and materialism. (Cornelius isn’t the only one who can use big words, even if he does so to better effect!)

    Leading lights of professional Establishments tend to be career-driven, rather than driven by a burning para-messianic zeal for truth and the common weal. Intellectual integrity would not figure high on the list of the professional or personal desiderata of many such luminaries. Ergo, the World is every bit as crazy as Christ taught us.

  32. William J Murray: “Sure, but since I didn’t propose a Christian definition of god anyway, are his arguments really relevant here?”

    Not the part about Jesus and churches of course.
    Does B. Russell declare himself to be an atheist and is he therefor intellectually dishonest? Well … B. Russell draws very near to atheism. “An agnostic, in any sense in which he can be regarded as one, may hold that the existence of God, though not impossible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so improbable that it is not worth considering in practice.” To the question ’Do you think it is certain that there is no such thing as God?’ Russell answered, “No, I don’t think it is certain there is no such thing — I think it is on exactly the same level as the Olympic gods, or the Norwegian gods; they also may exist, the gods of Olympus and Valhalla. I can’t prove they don’t, but I think that the Christian God has no more likelihood than they had. I think they are a bare possibility.”

  33. It seems that in distinguishing the features of formal logic, Russell, arguably, led mankind up the garden path, threw us a red herring, since it is too easy for the intellectual to see logic, itself, as having autonomous merit, irrespective of the merit of the premise.

    To me. Formal logic is a kind of crossword for people with mathematical minds, and about as useful as a bicycle-frame without wheels. (But then, I could be biased, as I could never understand it! So, I insist it’s a parlour-game for nerds).

    At least the notation, ‘infinity’, however entirely notional it apparently is, serves a very useful purpose to you bods with minds like Kairo, bornagain and the rest of you, in your mathematical forays.

  34. Graham2:

    There are real papers related to Evolution published more or less daily, but ID ?

    What kind of “evolution” are those papers related to? Unguided, ie blind watchmaker, evolution? Or guided/ directed, ie Intelligent Design, evolution?

    I know how to test Intelligent Design evolution. And no one appears to know how to test blind watchmaker evolution.

    Strange, that…

  35. G2:

    Now, it seems the problem is as bad as twisting the still in progress deconstruction of Wiki’s hatchet job on ID into pretzels.

    Here is the root problem with addressing origins science, as addressed by Lewontin in a cat out of the bag quote that says it all:

    the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, this is another logical error, begging the question, confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[--> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . .

    [ --> and if you think you can wiggle out of this by pretending that a priori materialism does not mean just what it says, understand that to such materialists the ONLY reality is physical and/or derived therefrom, ever since Lucretius and co. That means that physical reality is the only thing there to be understood, that's why to them science (which studies the physical world in its various aspects) is the only begetter of truth, a big blunder: scientism. Similarly, the common diversion that this is quote mined fails, cf here on for the fuller quote and discussion. As to the notion that those who believe in God believe in a chaos that frustrates the possibility of science, let the brute historical fact that it was theists who founded and launched modern science from within a view that the God of order and reason made a reasonable and intelligible world for our benefit and invites us to explore and make good of it speak to that, as well as the related fact that theology highlights that to stand out as signs pointing beyond the usual order of the world, which is what miracles would be, there must first be a usual order of the world. That is, by their very nature miracles would be necessarily rare and in contexts that make sense of such signs. Not to mention, the lawful order of the world is itself a big sign, as Newton and others pointed out.]

    That is why atheism, in the a priori evolutionary materialism form, cannot be ducked in the end. It is being written into the science and is begging the questions before the facts can speak. And is quite evidently in key part driven by hostility, as we see in ever so many forms.

    I call that throwing the first punch.

    A favourite distraction from that little logical blunder, is to try the turnabout accusation (the one I have objected to here that you are now trying to twist about), oh design thinking is not about the design inference, no, no, no, it is about creationism hiding in a cheap tuxedo to try to evade US Supreme Court rulings.

    Which is — as noted and linked — what Wiki says, and which (for cause) is what I call out as a piece of propagandistic fabrication of false history.

    As in, Wiki is playing the “they hit back first” card.

    Do me a favour: you tell me on the facts — the thread is still open and the facts are laid out step by step, why the actual history of ID’s founding era from 1953 – 1984 (as was laid out as just linked), is not able to speak for itself, say in the voice of Nobel Equivalent prize holder Fred Hoyle, circa 1981/2. And remember, the date of the first ID technical book, TMLO, is 1984. As, in it cannot reasonably be said to be a reaction to the Edwards decision of 1987. That is why — frankly, deceitfully — Wiki makes much of a 1989 high school supplement book, instead of dealing with the real deal, TMLO in context of 1953 – 1984.

    Where I come from, that is a strawman tactic, and where Ms Forrest and co of the NCSE and Louisiana Hummanists [= Atheists . . . hint, hint . . . ] come from, it is a strawman tactic, too.

    Having thrown your attempted rhetorical sucker punches, put up your dukes.

    If you cannot back up on facts all the material facts not just half truths, you are guilty of further trying to spread a propagandistic lie, in order to trollishly derail a thread that takes the a priori materialism jag back home to where it belongs.

    Namely, atheism in the form of a priori evolutionary materialism as underlying ideology.

    And in taking the issue back home, this thread is raising some serious questions about strong and weak form atheism and warrant that need to be answered on the merits.

    Maybe, WJM has it all wrong, and a priori evolutionary materialist atheism in some form can stand up in serious worldviews company.

    If so, feel free to show it.

    So far, though, what we are seeing is the same tactics that are so familiar and which he reports have been used against him for years.

    They have passed sell-by date.

    You have thrown the first punch.

    So, put up your dukes.

    In fact, let me extend the 3 months plus, no takers to date 6,000 word challenge to produce an article to make the case for materialist evolution on OOL and OO body plans accounting for the tree of life.

    On similar terms, I am willing to host here at UD an article that lays out the worldviews level warrant for Lewontinian a priori materialism/atheism.

    As the one who tried the turnabout tactic, I make it first and foremost personal: YOU are hereby invited to put up your dukes and provide the article.

    Let’s see you make the case.

    Put up your dukes.

    KF

  36. I should have said, ‘… and about as useful as a bicycle-frame without wheels…. or, a crossword.’

  37. 37

    Box:

    Unfortunately, Russell isn’t here to make his case or share his views concerning god as I’ve defined above. Theism is not not a philosophy subsumed by Christianity + Nordic + Greek pantheons.

    I think many people in the west have thrown the theistic baby out with the bathwater in a fit of ill-considered outrage and/or a sensation of intellectual superiority over what is often referred to as “stone-age myths”.

  38. 38
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Axel @ 32:

    Yes, that’s correct: formal logic is study of validity, of what it is for one assertion to follow from another assertion.

    It won’t tell you if your initial assertions are true, and even more importantly: if you put a whole bunch of sentences into a logical system, the system will tell you which ones are inconsistent with which other ones, but it cannot tell you which sentences should be tossed.

    To do that, one needs a much more powerful system that a simple deductive system. For example, you might assign probabilities to the sentences, and toss out the lower-probability sentences if they are not consistent with the higher-probability sentences.

    But that’s really one big Red Herring, since Russell’s criticisms of organized religion do not depend on formal logic at all.

  39. F/N: G2 is trying the old, ID does not publish talking point, neatly ducking the exposeed reality of materialist censorship in the name of peer review, and the fact that if a certain Judge Jones had cared to acknowledge bare facts presented to him in his own courtroom, was past sell-by date in 2005. Cf the list of publications here, which does not address the cosmological side in detail, which has a lot more.

  40. My point is that if ID was as fertile as you guys claim (the growing army of ‘ID theorists’), we would see, at least a dribble, of original results. I thought that was the point of this blog … to discuss ID, but it has more or less totally degenerated to theology.

    When shall we see the latest ID research/discoveries that finally kill off materialism ? I dont think material Science is feeling particularly threatened.

    The death of the IDEA clubs is significant.

  41. Axel: Infinity, the continuum and infinitesimals are all over the place in mathematics and its applications, so we need to have a working theory for dealing with them, well do I remember seeing this in action with calculus, curve sketching, limits, etc. The trick in our contexts of the debate points we face is that we deal with issues tied to traversing a countable of cardinality aleph null, such as infinite regress of causes or warrants. You simply cannot either count up to or count down from infinity step by step, neither can you reach to or from it in a step by step process. That is what has to be squarely faced and then we have to drive out question begging circles and self referential and incoherent frames of thought. KF

  42. G2: you have not even bothered to see that there is in fact a growing body of published, peer reviewed research [now at about 50 papers IIRC], never mind the censorship, expulsion and slander games. And I cannot let up on the point that say the expulsion of Gonzalez HAD to have had an impact. And that was a piece of unjust career busting if I ever saw one. Besides, the issue is, to find well warranted truth about our world in light of empirical investigation and reasoned analysis. Where, also, on the table for this thread is the challenge to warrant the Lewontinian a priori evolutionary materialism that is so often smuggled in as a mere, centuries long methodological rule. You are playing at subject switching to derail discussion again. Put up your dukes. KF

  43. PS: It seems you don’t know enough — or don’t care — to address the difference between theology and philosophy. FYI, the issue on the table is philosophy, not theology, and phil becomes relevant when science gets derailed by hidden assumptions or ideologies. Which is exactly what Lewontinian a priori materialism — whether blatant or hidden under “mere” methodological rules — is about. You threw the first punch, now, put up your dukes.

  44. KF: 50 papers ? We have all seen the list and they are a mix of ‘ID friendly’ papers, magazine articles, ‘peer-edited’ articles, etc, but say we grant that ID has produced 50 papers. How long have you been at it … 10 years ? 20 years ?

    50 papers would be the typical output of a couple of researchers for this time. What happened to the army ?

    And while we are at it, perhaps we could check the fecundity of PCID ?, Bio-Complexity?

  45. Graham2, can you tell me if this paper, which came out today, either supports or questions the blind material processes of Darwinism?

    Unlocking nature’s quantum engineering for efficient solar energy – January 7, 2013
    Excerpt: Certain biological systems living in low light environments have unique protein structures for photosynthesis that use quantum dynamics to convert 100% of absorbed light into electrical charge,,,
    “Some of the key issues in current solar cell technologies appear to have been elegantly and rigorously solved by the molecular architecture of these PPCs – namely the rapid, lossless transfer of excitons to reaction centres.”,,,
    These biological systems can direct a quantum process, in this case energy transport, in astoundingly subtle and controlled ways – showing remarkable resistance to the aggressive, random background noise of biology and extreme environments. “This new understanding of how to maintain coherence in excitons, and even regenerate it through molecular vibrations, provides a fascinating glimpse into the intricate design solutions – seemingly including quantum engineering – ,,, and which could provide the inspiration for new types of room temperature quantum devices.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-n.....nergy.html

    If Graham2 you say, against all common sense, that it supports blind Darwinian processes, please demonstrate for those of us who can’t quite muster that much blind faith in the undirected processes of Darwinism that the protein complex, that they are drooling over, can arise by purely Darwinian processes!

    further notes:

    Scientists unlock some key secrets of photosynthesis – July 2, 2012
    Excerpt: “The photosynthetic system of plants is nature’s most elaborate nanoscale biological machine,” said Lakshmi. “It converts light energy at unrivaled efficiency of more than 95 percent compared to 10 to 15 percent in the current man-made solar technologies.,, “Photosystem II is the engine of life,” Lakshmi said. “It performs one of the most energetically demanding reactions known to mankind, splitting water, with remarkable ease and efficiency.”,,, “Water is a very stable molecule and it takes four photons of light to split water,” she said. “This is a challenge for chemists and physicists around the world (to imitate) as the four-photon reaction has very stringent requirements.”
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-s.....hesis.html

    The Miracle Of Photosynthesis – electron transport – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj_WKgnL6MI

    Electron transport and ATP synthesis during photosynthesis – Illustration
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bo.....iggrp.1672

    The Elaborate Nanoscale Machine Called Photosynthesis: No Vestige of a Beginning – Cornelius Hunter – July 2012
    Excerpt: “The ability to do photosynthesis is widely distributed throughout the bacterial domain in six different phyla, with no apparent pattern of evolution. Photosynthetic phyla include the cyanobacteria, proteobacteria (purple bacteria), green sulfur bacteria (GSB), firmicutes (heliobacteria), filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs (FAPs, also often called the green nonsulfur bacteria), and acidobacteria (Raymond, 2008).”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....8048253561

    In what I find to be a very fascinating discovery, it is found that photosynthetic life, which is an absolutely vital link that all higher life on earth is dependent on for food, uses ‘non-local’ quantum mechanical principles to accomplish photosynthesis. Moreover, this is direct evidence that a non-local, beyond space-time mass-energy, cause must be responsible for ‘feeding’ all life on earth, since all higher life on earth is eventually completely dependent on this non-local, beyong spane and time, ‘photosynthetic energy’ in which to live their lives on this earth:

    Non-Local Quantum Coherence In Photosynthesis – video with notes in description
    http://vimeo.com/30235178

    Unusual Quantum Effect Discovered in Earliest Stages of Photosynthesis – May 2012
    Excerpt: The quantum effects observed in the course of the experiment hint that the natural light-harvesting processes involved in photosynthesis may be more efficient than previously indicated by classical biophysics, said chemist Gary Wiederrecht of Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials. “It leaves us wondering: how did Mother Nature create this incredibly elegant solution?” he said.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....092932.htm

    Quantum Mechanics at Work in Photosynthesis: Algae Familiar With These Processes for Nearly Two Billion Years – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: “We were astonished to find clear evidence of long-lived quantum mechanical states involved in moving the energy. Our result suggests that the energy of absorbed light resides in two places at once — a quantum superposition state, or coherence — and such a state lies at the heart of quantum mechanical theory.”,,, “It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans,” says Scholes.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....131356.htm

    A few notes on the theistic implications of light itself:

    It is found that light is extremely fine tuned to the atmosphere, to biological molecules and to water, for life to exist:

    Extreme (1 in 10^24) Fine Tuning of Light for Life and Scientific Discovery – Richards, Gonzalez – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/7715887

    Visible light is incredibly fine-tuned for life to exist. Though visible light is only a tiny fraction of the total electromagnetic spectrum coming from the sun, it happens to be the “most permitted” portion of the sun’s spectrum allowed to filter through the our atmosphere. All the other bands of electromagnetic radiation, directly surrounding visible light, happen to be harmful to organic molecules, and are almost completely absorbed by the atmosphere. The tiny amount of harmful UV radiation, which is not visible light, allowed to filter through the atmosphere is needed to keep various populations of single cell bacteria from over-populating the world (Ross; reasons.org). The size of light’s wavelengths and the constraints on the size allowable for the protein molecules of organic life, also seem to be tailor-made for each other. This “tailor-made fit” allows photosynthesis, the miracle of sight, and many other things that are necessary for human life. These specific frequencies of light (that enable plants to manufacture food and astronomers to observe the cosmos) represent less than 1 trillionth of a trillionth (10^-24) of the universe’s entire range of electromagnetic emissions. Like water, visible light also appears to be of optimal biological utility (M.Denton; W.Bradley; G.Gonzalez; J.Richards).

    etc.. etc…

  46. Hilarious article in the New Scientist, implicitly demonstrating the decadence of the post-Christian West, in its comparison of the effectiveness of our respective education systems.

    In the UK, the atheist, Socialist politicos want religious schools to be denied government funding, yet they all want their children to be educated in them, and will lie and cheat to do so. Even move house, if necessary!

    However, what makes the article comical is that the author seeks to downplay its significance by saying how much more commercially successful and prosperous we’ve been in the West (never mind that it’s been increasingly for the few at the dire expense of the many, and on the back of a Ponzi debt-bubble, bringing us via this polarisation, to the brink of an economic tsunami)!

  47. Ba77: You are missing the point. Unless your point is that you (ID) just sit around, waiting for (materialist) Science to do all the hard work for you.

    Regarding the paper Unlocking nature’s quantum engineering …, just because it has the magic word ‘quantum’ in it, you jump to the conclusion that, by golly, gee whiz, Evolution couldnt have done it. Why not?. I would rather place my ‘faith’ in Evolution than an invisible friend in the sky.

  48. Graham2, since you think ‘evolutiondidit’ please provide a demonstration of the protein complex, they are drooling over, arising by purely Darwinian processes! Trouble is for you, and for the researchers who are floored by the ‘engineering’ of the protein complex, is that you don’t have ANY examples of ANY molecular machines arising by material processes (you don’t even have an example of a single novel protein arising in such fashion), whereas I have examples of Intelligence producing both molecular machines and proteins. Go figure!

  49. I allowed myself to be sidetracked a bit there.

    ID seems to be like Scientology all over again.
    Extravagant promises + messianic zeal, followed by a long slow death as it is realized the emperor has no clothes.

  50. G2 at 48.
    That precise description reminds me of Marx and Freud, and of another ideologue of that same century, of much influence even now, whose name strangely escapes me.

  51. Graham2, are you aware of any evidence against the existence of god?

  52. Box: No. You are asking for evidence of absence, and there isnt any, just as there is no evidence for the absence of the celestial teapot.

  53. @Graham2
    There is no evidence for Russell’s teapot. What do you think about the evidence in favor of god’s existence as presented by William J Murray?

  54. Box: Its mostly rubbish. The morality stuff, testimonials, NDE’s etc are all pretty hopeless. About the only one I find interesting is the fine-tuning one (as did Hitchens).

  55. “I allowed myself to be sidetracked a bit there.”

    You certainly did. I noticed that you were so sidetracked you forgot to cite any evidence whatsoever of Darwinism producing ANY molecular machine.

  56. @Graham2
    So do you agree with William J Murray, after weighing the evidence, that atheism isn’t rationally justifiable?

  57. BA77: I think you know as well as I that its not possible to ‘observe’ evolution in progress. Have you ‘observed’ god doing his stuff ? Were you there to watch the designer creating life ?

  58. Graham2-

    The problem with materialism is it ain’t even wrong. The refusal to accept God or the design inference is NOT positive evidence for materialism.

    Your faith in mother nature, father time and magical mystery processes, while amusing, is not positive evidence for materialism.

  59. Box: Not at all. I find the fine-tuning argument interesting, but not enough on its own. The idea of a disembodied intelligence is so preposterous, such an extreme violation of Ochams principle, that you are going to have to do a lot better. Lots better than the paltry list above.

  60. William J Murray-

    What do you do when the atheists have faith in their God substitute of mother nature, father time, and unknown processes? Are they really atheists, or just denialists?

  61. Speaking of photosynthesis:

    Despite its complexity, C4 photosynthesis is one of the best examples of convergent evolution, having evolved more than 50 times in at least 18 plant families (Sage 2004; Conway Morris 2006).

    Phylogenomics of C4 Photosynthesis in Sedges(pdf)

  62. Graham2-

    You are confused- one designing agency is more parsimonious than millions upon millions of just-so cosmic collisions and atomic-level accidents.

    Your position can’t even muster a testable hypothesis- it is all faith. That “paltry” list above is by far more than your position will ever muster. And I understand that has you all upset.

    Well maybe this year someone will find some positive evidence for materialism…

  63. as to: “I think you know as well as I that its not possible to ‘observe’ evolution in progress.”

    Actually, I’ve seen headlines saying that ‘evolution has been ‘caught in the act’.

    But anyways your claim that it is ‘not possible’ to ‘observe’ evolution is patently false, we SHOULD be able to observe SOMETHING of vertical evolution happening. The fact that we don’t see ANYTHING AT ALL happening, in a vertical direction, is a tremendously strong indication that molecules to man evolution is false:

    In fact Neo-Darwinists claim that evolution is an observed fact on par with the observed fact of gravity. But very contrary to their claims, the plain fact of the matter is that there is ZERO observed instances of neo-Darwinian evolution:

    Where’s the substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism?

    Many of these researchers also raise the question (among others), why — even after inducing literally billions of induced mutations and (further) chromosome rearrangements — all the important mutation breeding programs have come to an end in the Western World instead of eliciting a revolution in plant breeding, either by successive rounds of selective “micromutations” (cumulative selection in the sense of the modern synthesis), or by “larger mutations” … and why the law of recurrent variation is endlessly corroborated by the almost infinite repetition of the spectra of mutant phenotypes in each and any new extensive mutagenesis experiment (as predicted) instead of regularly producing a range of new systematic species…
    (Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Mutagenesis in Physalis pubescens L. ssp. floridana: Some Further Research on Dollo’s Law and the Law of Recurrent Variation,” Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology Vol. 4 (Special Issue 1): 1-21 (December 2010).)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....42191.html

    Four decades worth of lab work is surveyed here, and no evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution surfaces:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Michael Behe talks about the preceding paper in this following podcast:

    Michael Behe: Challenging Darwin, One Peer-Reviewed Paper at a Time – December 2010
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....3_46-08_00

    How about the oft cited example for neo-Darwinism of antibiotic resistance?

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    Excerpt: Resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials is often claimed to be a clear demonstration of “evolution in a Petri dish.” ,,, all known examples of antibiotic resistance via mutation are inconsistent with the genetic requirements of evolution. These mutations result in the loss of pre-existing cellular systems/activities, such as porins and other transport systems, regulatory systems, enzyme activity, and protein binding.
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    That doesn’t seem to be helping! How about we look really, really, close at very sensitive growth rates and see if we can catch almighty evolution in action???

    Unexpectedly small effects of mutations in bacteria bring new perspectives – November 2010
    Excerpt: Most mutations in the genes of the Salmonella bacterium have a surprisingly small negative impact on bacterial fitness. And this is the case regardless whether they lead to changes in the bacterial proteins or not.,,, using extremely sensitive growth measurements, doctoral candidate Peter Lind showed that most mutations reduced the rate of growth of bacteria by only 0.500 percent. No mutations completely disabled the function of the proteins, and very few had no impact at all. Even more surprising was the fact that mutations that do not change the protein sequence had negative effects similar to those of mutations that led to substitution of amino acids. A possible explanation is that most mutations may have their negative effect by altering mRNA structure, not proteins, as is commonly assumed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....teria.html

    Shoot that doesn’t seem to be helping either! Perhaps we just got to give the almighty power of neo-Darwinism ‘room to breathe’? How about we ‘open the floodgates’ to the almighty power of Darwinian Evolution and look at Lenski’s Long Term Evolution Experiment and see what we can find after 50,000 generations, which is equivalent to somewhere around 1,000,000 years of human evolution???

    Richard Lenski’s Long-Term Evolution Experiments with E. coli and the Origin of New Biological Information – September 2011
    Excerpt: The results of future work aside, so far, during the course of the longest, most open-ended, and most extensive laboratory investigation of bacterial evolution, a number of adaptive mutations have been identified that endow the bacterial strain with greater fitness compared to that of the ancestral strain in the particular growth medium. The goal of Lenski’s research was not to analyze adaptive mutations in terms of gain or loss of function, as is the focus here, but rather to address other longstanding evolutionary questions. Nonetheless, all of the mutations identified to date can readily be classified as either modification-of-function or loss-of-FCT.
    (Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’,” Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4) (December, 2010).)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51051.html

    Now that just can’t be right!! Man we should really start to be seeing some neo-Darwinian fireworks by 50,000 generations!?! Hey I know what we can do! How about we see what happened when the ‘top five’ mutations from Lenski’s experiment were combined??? Surely now the Darwinian magic will start flowing!!!

    Mutations : when benefits level off – June 2011 – (Lenski’s e-coli after 50,000 generations)
    Excerpt: After having identified the first five beneficial mutations combined successively and spontaneously in the bacterial population, the scientists generated, from the ancestral bacterial strain, 32 mutant strains exhibiting all of the possible combinations of each of these five mutations. They then noted that the benefit linked to the simultaneous presence of five mutations was less than the sum of the individual benefits conferred by each mutation individually.
    http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/1867.htm?theme1=7

    Now something is going terribly wrong here!!! Tell you what, let’s just forget trying to observe evolution in the lab, I mean it really is kind of cramped in the lab you know, and now let’s REALLY open the floodgates and let’s see what the almighty power of neo-Darwinian evolution can do with the ENTIRE WORLD at its disposal??? Surely now almighty neo-Darwinian evolution will flex its awesomely powerful muscles and forever make those IDiots, who believe in Intelligent Design, cower in terror!!!

    A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
    The numbers of Plasmodium and HIV in the last 50 years greatly exceeds the total number of mammals since their supposed evolutionary origin (several hundred million years ago), yet little has been achieved by evolution. This suggests that mammals could have “invented” little in their time frame. Behe: ‘Our experience with HIV gives good reason to think that Darwinism doesn’t do much—even with billions of years and all the cells in that world at its disposal’ (p. 155).
    http://creation.com/review-mic.....-evolution

    Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution, pg. 162 Swine Flu, Viruses, and the Edge of Evolution
    “Indeed, the work on malaria and AIDS demonstrates that after all possible unintelligent processes in the cell–both ones we’ve discovered so far and ones we haven’t–at best extremely limited benefit, since no such process was able to do much of anything. It’s critical to notice that no artificial limitations were placed on the kinds of mutations or processes the microorganisms could undergo in nature. Nothing–neither point mutation, deletion, insertion, gene duplication, transposition, genome duplication, self-organization nor any other process yet undiscovered–was of much use.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....20071.html

    Now, there is something terribly wrong here! After looking high and low and everywhere in between, we can’t seem to find the almighty power of neo-Darwinism anywhere!! Shoot we can’t even find ANY power of neo-Darwinism whatsoever!!! It is as if the whole neo-Darwinian theory, relentlessly sold to the general public as it was the gospel truth, is nothing but a big fat lie!!!

  64. @Graham 58

    Tell me where I go wrong here:

    1. There is no evidence against the existence of God.
    2. There is at the very least some evidence (e.g. Fine Tuning) in favor of the existence of God.
    3. Therefor it is more probable that god exists than that God does not exist. So atheism isn’t rationally justifiable.

  65. GR2: “The idea of a disembodied intelligence is so preposterous”

    Why exactly??? you must have a some parameter that prevents God from being real, some scientific finding, or something basic law of physics being violated. Your personal tastes as to what you find preposterous is not going to cut it. I mean you really are going to have to do a lot better than personal incredulity to make your point. For instance, What ‘disembodied’ entity brought the entire universe into being? (note that the entity must be ‘disembodied’ since no space-time matter-energy existed before the creation event of the universe)

  66. BA77: Evolution is a long process, carried out over years, in many individuals, and at many levels. I keep putting ‘observe’ in quotes because its really a nonsensical idea. Its like trying to ‘observe’ an earthquake. You insist on this cartoon-simple idea that we can watch it, like watching a kettle boil.

    What we see is evidence of the results of evolution, all around us.

    Have you ‘observed’ god creating life? perform miracles ?

  67. Graham2: that post did not even rise to the level of a shallow excuse!

    but Okie dokie Graham2, lets really give Darwinism some time:

    Static evolution: is pond scum the same now as billions of years ago?
    Excerpt: But what intrigues (paleo-biologist) J. William Schopf most is lack of change. Schopf was struck 30 years ago by the apparent similarities between some 1-billion-year-old fossils of blue-green bacteria and their modern microbial counterparts. “They surprisingly looked exactly like modern species,” Schopf recalls. Now, after comparing data from throughout the world, Schopf and others have concluded that modern pond scum differs little from the ancient blue-greens. “This similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times,” says Schopf. As evidence, he cites the 3,000 such fossils found;
    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/.....a014909330

    Though it is impossible to reconstruct the DNA of the earliest bacteria fossils, scientists find in the fossil record, and compare them to their descendants of today, there are many ancient bacteria spores recovered and ‘revived’ from salt crystals and amber crystals which have been compared to their living descendants of today. Some bacterium spores, in salt crystals, dating back as far as 250 million years have been revived, had their DNA sequenced, and compared to their offspring of today (Vreeland RH, 2000 Nature). To the disbelieving shock of many evolutionary scientists, both ancient and modern bacteria were found to have the almost same exact DNA sequence.

    The Paradox of the “Ancient” (250 Million Year Old) Bacterium Which Contains “Modern” Protein-Coding Genes:
    “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ;
    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/...../19/9/1637

    Evolutionists were so disbelieving at this stunning lack of change, far less change than was expected from the neo-Darwinian view, that they insisted the stunning similarity was due to modern contamination in Vreeland’s experiment. Yet the following study laid that objection to rest by verifying that Dr. Vreeland’s methodology for extracting ancient DNA was solid and was not introducing contamination because the DNA sequences this time around were completely unique:

    World’s Oldest Known DNA Discovered (419 million years old) – Dec. 2009
    Excerpt: But the DNA was so similar to that of modern microbes that many scientists believed the samples had been contaminated. Not so this time around. A team of researchers led by Jong Soo Park of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, found six segments of identical DNA that have never been seen before by science. “We went back and collected DNA sequences from all known halophilic bacteria and compared them to what we had,” Russell Vreeland of West Chester University in Pennsylvania said. “These six pieces were unique”,,,
    http://news.discovery.com/eart.....vered.html

    These following studies, by Dr. Cano on ancient bacteria, preceded Dr. Vreeland’s work:

    “Raul J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki discovered the bacteria preserved within the abdomens of insects encased in pieces of amber. In the last 4 years, they have revived more than 1,000 types of bacteria and microorganisms — some dating back as far as 135 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs.,,, In October 2000, another research group used many of the techniques developed by Cano’s lab to revive 250-million-year-old bacteria from spores trapped in salt crystals. With this additional evidence, it now seems that the “impossible” is true.”
    http://www.physicsforums.com/s.....p?t=281961

    Dr. Cano’s work on ancient bacteria came in for intense scrutiny since it did not conform to Darwinian predictions, and since people found it hard to believe you could revive something that was millions of years old. Yet Dr. Cano has been vindicated:

    “After the onslaught of publicity and worldwide attention (and scrutiny) after the publication of our discovery in Science, there have been, as expected, a considerable number of challenges to our claims, but in this case, the scientific method has smiled on us. There have been at least three independent verifications of the isolation of a living microorganism from amber.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-357693

    In reply to a personal e-mail from myself, Dr. Cano commented on the ‘Fitness Test’ I had asked him about:

    Dr. Cano stated: “We performed such a test, a long time ago, using a panel of substrates (the old gram positive biolog panel) on B. sphaericus. From the results we surmised that the putative “ancient” B. sphaericus isolate was capable of utilizing a broader scope of substrates. Additionally, we looked at the fatty acid profile and here, again, the profiles were similar but more diverse in the amber isolate.”:
    Fitness test which compared ancient bacteria to its modern day descendants, RJ Cano and MK Borucki

    Thus, the most solid evidence available for the most ancient DNA scientists are able to find does not support evolution happening on the molecular level of bacteria. In fact, according to the fitness test of Dr. Cano, the change witnessed in bacteria conforms to the exact opposite, Genetic Entropy; a loss of functional information/complexity, since fewer substrates and fatty acids are utilized by the modern strains. Considering the intricate level of protein machinery it takes to utilize individual molecules within a substrate, we are talking an impressive loss of protein complexity, and thus loss of functional information, from the ancient amber sealed bacteria.

  68. “The idea of a disembodied intelligence is so preposterous, such an extreme violation of Ochams [sic] principle, that you are going to have to do a lot better.”

    Since William of Ockham, in addition to being one of the greatest of medieval philosophers, also believed in the existence of the Christian God (who does not have a body but has intelligence), Ockham obviously believed in a “disembodied intelligence.” It follows that Ockham was guilty of “an extreme violation of Ockham’s principle.” Glad we have Graham2 on board to help us correct Ockham. Maybe he will also point out the self-contradictions in Plato, Aristotle, and Kant for us as well.

    In the meantime, he might want to ask whether, if Ockham was inclined to propose “preposterous” things, Ockham’s principle itself (the Razor) might be another of those preposterous things. Why should we trust the logical principles of a man who believes in preposterous things?

  69. @G2

    I’m curious, why do you find human experience (such as NDE’s, and testimonials) to be hopeless in the way of evidence?

    If you’re interested, I posted a link to an article at post #12 of a board-certified psychiatrist and professor at New York medical college, who documented what he believes to be, an undeniable case of a demonic possession.

  70. BA77 @66: You may not have meant to link to the Schopf article: it supports evolution. The rest I ignored, brevity is not your strong point.

  71. Timaeus: I cant help what Ockham/Occam believed. As he lived in the 12th century I am prepared to give him a bit of leeway, but not now, we know just a little more about the world around us. The fact is that to accept an invisible spirit that violates just about everything 400 years of Scientific enquiry has given us, and based on no evidence is just a bit lop-sided. Sort of a no-brainer.

  72. GR2:

    So this,,,

    ““They surprisingly looked exactly like modern species,” Schopf recalls. Now, after comparing data from throughout the world, Schopf and others have concluded that modern pond scum differs little from the ancient blue-greens. “This similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times,” says Schopf. As evidence, he cites the 3,000 such fossils found;”

    supports evolution for you GR2???

    No dogmatism in all that huh Graham??? Fair as fair can be huh Graham?

    further notes for you to ignore in your impartiality:

    Does Deep Time Help Darwinism Work Miracles?

    Atheistic neo-Darwinists claim that given enough time the improbable becomes probable. i.e. Evolution, no matter how improbable, becomes certain if you allow enough time according to their reasoning. Thus to counter such simplistic reasoning in the power of time to work miracles, here are a few notes to the contrary of what the neo-Darwinists take on blind faith in the power of time;

    William Lane Craig – If Human Evolution Did Occur It Was A Miracle – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUxm8dXLRpA

    Quote from preceding video – In Barrow and Tippler’s book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, they list ten steps necessary in the course of human evolution, each of which, is so improbable that if left to happen by chance alone, the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have incinerated the earth. They estimate that the odds of the evolution (by chance) of the human genome is somewhere between 4 to the negative 180th power, to the 110,000th power, and 4 to the negative 360th power, to the 110,000th power. Therefore, if evolution did occur, it literally would have been a miracle and evidence for the existence of God.
    William Lane Craig

    A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
    Excerpt: The numbers of Plasmodium and HIV in the last 50 years greatly exceeds the total number of mammals since their supposed evolutionary origin (several hundred million years ago), yet little has been achieved by evolution. This suggests that mammals could have “invented” little in their time frame. Behe: ‘Our experience with HIV gives good reason to think that Darwinism doesn’t do much—even with billions of years and all the cells in that world at its disposal’ (p. 155).
    http://creation.com/review-mic.....-evolution

    Waiting Longer for Two Mutations – Michael J. Behe
    Excerpt: Citing malaria literature sources (White 2004) I had noted that the de novo appearance of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was an event of probability of 1 in 10^20. I then wrote that ‘for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would have to wait 100 million times 10 million years’ (1 quadrillion years)(Behe 2007) (because that is the extrapolated time that it would take to produce 10^20 humans). Durrett and Schmidt (2008, p. 1507) retort that my number ‘is 5 million times larger than the calculation we have just given’ using their model (which nonetheless “using their model” gives a prohibitively long waiting time of 216 million years). Their criticism compares apples to oranges. My figure of 10^20 is an empirical statistic from the literature; it is not, as their calculation is, a theoretical estimate from a population genetics model.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/9461

    The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway – Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe – April 2011
    Excerpt: We infer from the mutants examined that successful functional conversion would in this case require seven or more nucleotide substitutions. But evolutionary innovations requiring that many changes would be extraordinarily rare, becoming probable only on timescales much longer than the age of life on earth.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2011.1

    When Theory and Experiment Collide — April 16th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied.
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....t-collide/

    Is There Enough Time For Humans to have Evolved from Apes? Dr. Ann Gauger Answers – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN7NwKYUXOs

    More from Ann Gauger on why humans didn’t happen the way Darwin said – July 2012
    Excerpt: Each of these new features probably required multiple mutations. Getting a feature that requires six neutral mutations is the limit of what bacteria can produce. For primates (e.g., monkeys, apes and humans) the limit is much more severe. Because of much smaller effective population sizes (an estimated ten thousand for humans instead of a billion for bacteria) and longer generation times (fifteen to twenty years per generation for humans vs. a thousand generations per year for bacteria), it would take a very long time for even a single beneficial mutation to appear and become fixed in a human population.
    You don’t have to take my word for it. In 2007, Durrett and Schmidt estimated in the journal Genetics that for a single mutation to occur in a nucleotide-binding site and be fixed in a primate lineage would require a waiting time of six million years. The same authors later estimated it would take 216 million years for the binding site to acquire two mutations, if the first mutation was neutral in its effect.
    Facing Facts
    But six million years is the entire time allotted for the transition from our last common ancestor with chimps to us according to the standard evolutionary timescale. Two hundred and sixteen million years takes us back to the Triassic, when the very first mammals appeared. One or two mutations simply aren’t sufficient to produce the necessary changes— sixteen anatomical features—in the time available. At most, a new binding site might affect the regulation of one or two genes.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....rwin-said/

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume.....k_726.html

    Dr. Sanford calculates it would take 12 million years to “fix” a single base pair mutation into a population. He further calculates that to create a gene with 1000 base pairs, it would take 12 million x 1000 or 12 billion years. This is obviously too slow to support the creation of the human genome containing 3 billion base pairs.
    http://www.detectingtruth.com/?p=66

  73. Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681

    Dr. Stephen Meyer comments at the end of the preceding video,,,

    ‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’ – Stephen Meyer – (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate – 2009)

    Dr. Hugh Ross – Origin Of Life Paradox – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4012696

    Archaean Microfossils and the Implications for Intelligent Design – August 2011
    Excerpt: This dramatically limits the amount of time, and thus the probabilistic resources, available to those who wish to invoke purely unguided and purposeless material processes to explain the origin of life.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....49921.html

    Without enzyme, biological reaction essential to life takes 2.3 billion years: UNC study:
    In 1995, Wolfenden reported that without a particular enzyme, a biological transformation he deemed “absolutely essential” in creating the building blocks of DNA and RNA would take 78 million years.“Now we’ve found a reaction that – again, in the absence of an enzyme – is almost 30 times slower than that,” Wolfenden said. “Its half-life – the time it takes for half the substance to be consumed – is 2.3 billion years, about half the age of the Earth. Enzymes can make that reaction happen in milliseconds.”
    http://www.med.unc.edu/www/new.....-unc-study

    “Phosphatase speeds up reactions vital for cell signalling by 10^21 times. Allows essential reactions to take place in a hundreth of a second; without it, it would take a trillion years!” Jonathan Sarfati
    http://www.pnas.org/content/100/10/5607.abstract

    Not only do we not have enough time for Darwinian evolution, we don’t, as massive as it is, even have a big enough universe for Darwinian evolution:

    Abiogenic Origin of Life: A Theory in Crisis – Arthur V. Chadwick, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: The synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids from small molecule precursors represents one of the most difficult challenges to the model of prebiological evolution. There are many different problems confronted by any proposal. Polymerization is a reaction in which water is a product. Thus it will only be favored in the absence of water. The presence of precursors in an ocean of water favors depolymerization of any molecules that might be formed. Careful experiments done in an aqueous solution with very high concentrations of amino acids demonstrate the impossibility of significant polymerization in this environment. A thermodynamic analysis of a mixture of protein and amino acids in an ocean containing a 1 molar solution of each amino acid (100,000,000 times higher concentration than we inferred to be present in the prebiological ocean) indicates the concentration of a protein containing just 100 peptide bonds (101 amino acids) at equilibrium would be 10^-338 molar. Just to make this number meaningful, our universe may have a volume somewhere in the neighborhood of 10^85 liters. At 10^-338 molar, we would need an ocean with a volume equal to 10^229 universes (100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000) just to find a single molecule of any protein with 100 peptide bonds. So we must look elsewhere for a mechanism to produce polymers. It will not happen in the ocean.
    http://origins.swau.edu/papers.....fault.html

  74. BA77: Golubic interprets the data about blue-green bacteria quite differently. Just because these organisms have persisted 2 to 10 times longer than other “living fossils” –crocodiles and the like–doesn’t mean they follow a different set of evolutionary rules, he argues.

    I think the article is remarking on how some species dont appear to have evolved, but there is no argument about the validity of Evolution … this is assumed.

    Next question ?

  75. So the whole plethora of bacteria fossils stays unchanged and this is proof of evolution to you somehow? Okie Dokie. Guess I just got to have more faith and imagination instead of looking at the evidence!

    As to you comment on the last 400 hundred years of science, you do understand that it was the Christian worldview that brought modern science to a sustained level of maturity don’t you? So I don’t think it is to wise of you to claim science as a atheistic enterprise!

    In fact I would say the whole of science is thoroughly Theistic in its implications save for your cherished pseudo-science of Darwinism.

  76. Its not ‘proof’ of anything. The article seemed to be suggesting that some life forms were pretty static, but it in no way, whatsoever, questioned the validity of Evolution. Both authors were pretty clear about that. What I dont understand is why you bothered quoting it, perhaps you didnt bother reading past the first juicy line.

    As for christian science, please, give me a break.

  77. So far I have seen Graham2 talk about everything but how a strong atheist knows there is no God.

    Graham2: If you are a strong atheist, please make your case or stop running down trails.

    Show us that a strong atheist has a positive case. If you are not a strong atheist, then tell us what you are.

  78. WJM’s argument, while an interesting stimulus for debate, has a couple of deficiencies. First charge of intellectual dishonesty should not be thrown around loosely. It creates animosity and escalation. While it is certainly true of some atheists, it is definitly not true of others. The most extreme people on both sides acheives the highest profile. As a theist I spend more time reading skeptics than believers to test my own arguments. One of my worries has been that what’s available in the public arena are the views of the dishonest(and for that matter the not very bright), Thus I might be denied access to the best case against my own position. Second the claim that there are no arguments against the existence of God, is just wrong. When I was 9 I believed in God because people said there was. I had never been to Cleveland, but didn’t think to question it’s existence, at least until I got there. Reading a book by an atheist put me into a state of doubt. One day I heard a Paley type of teleological argument and became convinced there was a God. I was a theist for a good 20 minutes, till it ocurred to me that atheists must have some kind of answer. I therefore had to suspend judgement until I heard that answer. I finally read the argument that allowed Dawkins to become intellectually fullfilled thought it was good and was bck to agnosticism. Over the course of a few years I went from there to virtual atheism, based completly on arguments. I’ll review a couple of those, but first I was being both honest and to the limits of my experience(age 15) and ability, rational. Number one the problem of suffering and evil. This is mentioned by WJM and then dismissed by referring to an answer. Now I haven’t read this answer, or at 15 any answer, but I have since read many theodicies and come up with answers of my own. The argument still has some residual power and I am now a theist in spite of the arguments. Between the ages of 10 and 15 it dawned on me that there was an incredible amount of suffering in the world which involved children and even animals. Now I was thinking of God in the usual christian sense and the two are prima facia incompatible. I even thought how strange that a kind and benevolent God would arrange things so that living creatures had to eat each other to survive. I don’t think I was being irrational. In fact the journey back from atheism through agnoctism to a rational conviction that God exists took 20 years and a lot of study and thought. Another argument that is rational has to do with looking at any evidence that exists that mind and consciousness are nothing but products of the nervous system. If that’s true the closely related issue of life after death is greviously harmed and it makes implausible the existence of any non physical entities. Now there is evidence on both sides, and I believe the majority is with the Theists. Still the other side isn’t being irrational to consider it. If I’ve failed to irritate anyone, let me know.

  79. It’s the disembodied evolver!

    Evolution – change under time.

  80. Steve_Gann: I dont ‘know there is no god’ in the same way I dont ‘know there is no teapot’ (evidence of absence and all that). My default position is that there is no teapot until someone can provide good evidence for the existence of the teapot. God is like that but more so, much much much more so. This was all covered way up above somewhere.

  81. One of the things I love about this site is that the community is typically very reasonable and even charitable towards opposing viewpoints. I trust G2 recognizes that one who voices opposition on a skeptics board is very roughly shouted down without addressing any of the arguments presented.

    Two question from a fairly neutral observer:
    1) Can you back up the claim that 400 years of science contradicts Christianity?
    2) The question raised by the Schlopf excerpt is interesting. Why doesn’t evolution perform better as a predictive thoery? Why are there so many surprises and adjustments as unexpected results emerge?

  82. ecs2: charitable towards opposing viewpoints

    Outside this site, there is a distinct, and I believe well deserved view that UD are extremely intolerant of dissenters. Does the name Barry ring a bell ? (Sign up to Aristotle something or get banned!).

    I have been allowed to rant for some time now, though, and I get the impression, (though without any evidence!) that someone in UD may be waking up.

  83. ecs2: Science is, in its entirety, materialistic and successful. No priest ever cured a disease, no science text (that I have ever seen or heard about) invokes the supernatural. Its a tired line, but Science works. If you get sick, you may pray, but you also take your medicine. There is evidence that Science works, but no evidence for phantoms in the sky. As Dawkins is wont to point out, if you, by an accident of birth, were born in another culture, you would, right now, be swearing belief in some other god (there are plenty to choose) but the Science you apply to make things work would be the same.

    3000 gods, but only 1 Science. Makes you think, doesnt it ? Why so many gods ? Why only 1 Science ?

  84. 84

    Carig said @ 77: This is mentioned by WJM and then dismissed by referring to an answer.

    I didn’t dismiss anything; I mentioned both argument and rebuttals as examples of competing evidences that must be weighed by the reader.

    Carig said @ 77: “I even thought how strange that a kind and benevolent God would arrange things so that…”

    Yes, many people wonder why god would do a lot of things. The problem is that without a rational argument stemming from sound principles, that something seems “strange” to you is not a rational position in which to bank a worldview.

    What is the evidence that mind and consciousness are “nothing but products of the nervous system”?

  85. Hmmm. There are numerous studies tgat indicate medical benefit of faith.
    There are numerous Christians (and other religions) who were born in to families and cultures absent religion. If you know Mr. Murrays backgound, I believe you will agree he is one such example. I myself have been effectively agnostic or at least religiously indifferent (interestingly a fresh unbiased look at the 1 science you refer to is a large part of what challenged the assumptions underlying that world view).

    Finally, what does the existence of 3000 conceptions of God suggest? I draw different conclusion than you. It suggests a common impulse, perhaps a mutual recognition of key questions the world around us raises. Logically, the presence of many does not however suggest 1 may not be true.

  86. I will agree there are and should be some distinctions and differences between science, philosophy, and theology.

    The strengths of one d oes not invalidate the othets though.

    Further, the intersection of philosophy and science is a weakness of evolution in my view. History tells us that the assumptions and conclusions of evolution have been highly influenced by philosophy from the beginning.

  87. 87

    Joe @59: The powerful, beautiful and terrible nature of free will is that we can believe and deny anything.

  88. Graham2 (70):

    Ockham was writing in the 14th century, not the 12th.

    I don’t see how the increase in empirical knowledge since Ockham’s day has any bearing on whether or not a “disembodied intelligence” can exist. If such a thing existed, by its very nature it would not be directly observable, and its relationship to the world of physical cause and effect might be very indirect. In any case, it has been well established by historians of science (those who aren’t still living mentally in the scholarly world of the 19th century, with its “warfare” model) that modern natural science, which arose in the West in the 17th century, owes a great deal to the metaphysical assumptions made by Christian theology — the most central of which was that a “disembodied spirit” — God — existed. You can find the details of the argument in any serious scholarly book on the historical relations of science to religion. Have a look at the writings of Jaki, Hooykaas, Collingwood, etc. They’re in any university or college library.

  89. Timaeus: OK, 14th.

    The increase in knowledge has no bearing on whether it exists (or not), but it does have a bearing on our confidence in stating that it does (or doesnt).

    We are more confident now that there is no god of thunder, that disease is not due to evil spirits, etc. Where did this confidence come from ?

  90. Timaeus,

    Good point on the warfare thesis. Though discredited decades ago, it lives on like a zombie.

    Graham2:

    You need to read about the idea of the clockwork universe as it relates to the rise of modern science. Its easy to find.

    You should also read about the voluntarism debate that came to a head in 1277. Then you will be on your way to understanding how science as we know it owes its existence to Christianity.

    As of now, you appear to be stuck in the whig-history 1890′s.

  91. Steve_Gann: Im not particularly concerned if Science owes its existence to anything. Religious belief permeated society then more than it does now, Newton practised alchemy, etc, but so what ? The Science we practice now doesnt invoke the supernatural in any way, we have grown up. If you dont agree, then can you provide an example ?

  92. Mr Murray, if these so called rational agents knew your background… Which they don’t. I’ve learnt that atheists are by for the most ignorant on matters and the least informed of all, and here I speak of my former self. Truth does not really matter to an atheist how can it if its all relative?

  93. No, Gray, there are two(2) sciences:

    (1) The science pioneered by the great Judaeo-Christian IDers and paradigm-changers of the last century; and

    2) The pedantic, Mr Magoo, latter-day science of the corporate shills, myrmidons, drudges and general ‘second-raters’, of which those earlier IDers had either a fathomless and universal contempt (as had Einstein), a terminally-wearied contempt (as had Planck) or a benign, inevitably patronizing, and, alas, vainly didactic attitude, such as Bohr.

    But it’s all about pink pixies and dragons ‘n’ stuff, isn’t it, Gray? I mean those long screeds of Bornagain77, citing detailed evidence from peer-reviewed papers on the findings of leading-edge research.

  94. Who needs it Gray!

  95. Graham2

    I have a question for you. How can an effect be greater than its cause? How did non-intelligence (the cause) create intelligence (the effect)? I would love to know how this happened, science is all about cause and effect, In all our repeated experiments in science, we know empirically that effects can never be greater than their causes, so please do tell how the naturalistic account contradicts all of science?

  96. ‘No priest ever cured a disease, no science text (that I have ever seen or heard about) invokes the supernatural.’

    Plain bull-sh*t, Gray. You are decidedly more ignorant on this subject than you realize.

    The primordial claim of Max Planck, considered to be the founder of quantum theory, was:

    ‘As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.’ -Max Planck

    Or what is your definition of magic? You never did say. In what way does quantum mechanics differ from it. Both describes their effects, but are no nearer to explaining them; or indeed, the many cures effected by the priests and saints down the centuries.

    Read the latest article in New Scientist on the further, yet more mysterious counter-rational ambiguity of the wave-particle dualism of quantum mechanics.

    You want to ‘magic’ mind from matter, have nothing turn itself into everything – poofery not so much writ large as writ cosmic. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what could be!

  97. Spot on, Andre. But don’t hold your breath…

  98. Funny how Graham2 thinks there’s only 1 science.

  99. Groan. Quantum mechanics again. Yes, its counter-intuitive. Got that.

    Science texts, as far as I can tell, are universal. They dont teach have one periodic table for Europe, and another for USA. Science texts are translated to many languages and used throughout the world. Scientists travel to institutions round the world, receive trainining, then return home and no-one questions if they have been trained in the French version of Quantum Mechanics (or whatever).

    Does carbon have a different weight in Alaska ? Do electric motors run differently there ? Maybe the law of gravity is different in Texas ? (but then again…).

    And yes, great scientists can be religious, and wax eloquent, but it doesnt show in the applications of Science.

    Now, as for religion, the picture is rather different.

  100. Graham2

    Are these the same universal science text books that still have now debunked and fraudulent information in?

    Is this the same 1 single science that come to two different conclusions on the effects of causes? You know unguided vs. guided. Designed vs. non-design….?

    Do you think the greats like Kepler, Newton, Galileo and Pascal made the evidence fit their world view or do you think the evidence supported their world view?

    I have to understand how you can believe in a material process being responsible for everything because honestly it takes much greater faith to believe that!

    Any attempt to tell me how the material account contradicts all of science yet? I’m eternally hopeful for an answer!

  101. G2, @ 82:

    ecs2: Science is, in its entirety, materialistic and successful. No priest ever cured a disease, no science text (that I have ever seen or heard about) invokes the supernatural. Its a tired line, but Science works. If you get sick, you may pray, but you also take your medicine. There is evidence that Science works, but no evidence for phantoms in the sky. As Dawkins is wont to point out, if you, by an accident of birth, were born in another culture, you would, right now, be swearing belief in some other god (there are plenty to choose) but the Science you apply to make things work would be the same.

    This is the closest I see to his actually addressing the matters on the merits, and it simply underscores the depth of willfully dismissive, in parts dishonest contempt and arrogant ignorance at work.

    Much as WJM highlighted as the typical response he faced over years.

    Let me do a bit of a markup on points interwoven with the assertions:

    __________________

    >>Science is, in its entirety, materialistic and successful.>>

    1 –> Simply asserts Lewontinian a priori materalism, check. Somehow, he fails to understand the serious issues in such and the historical fallacies in the sort of pronouncement he has just made. he is also plainly ducking the duty of care to warrant the worldview of materialism, in a context where one of the immediate and serious challenges it faces is irretrievable self referential incoherence — i.e. self-refutation. let us hear Haldane, again, and let us see if we will ever get a serious answer:

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

    2 –> This pattern of a priori materialism seen as the essence of science ignores the well-documented history of science and the issue of a certain question begging imposition of a materialistic circle of thought, which in this context of easily accessible correction, is plainly rationally unjustifiable. yes another riff on the WJM point.

    3 –> Johnson’s rebuke to Lewontin et al is thus all too apt:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    4 –> The bottomline is, that so long as a priori materialism censors science like this, by imposing a question-begging “rule” science loses credibility on any subject where that rule censors the investigation, i.e. especially on origins.

    >>No priest ever cured a disease,>>

    5 –> A lie, by willful neglect or suppression of easily accessible truth and speaking with disregard to the truth, in hopes of profiting by the declarations being seen as true. G2, you need to look up the history and current reality of medical missions and their contribution to the development of medicine. have some basic respect, especially for people who risked their lives to do good to their fellow man, in service to God.

    >>no science text (that I have ever seen or heard about) invokes the supernatural.>>

    6 –> This is of course, first, an allusion to the notion that the design inference and wider design theory are about invoking the supernatural in science. This willfully ignores even the correction of the past few days, that highlights that inference on natural [= chance and/or mechanical necessity] vs ART, is a long since well known, and empirically grounded pursuit.

    6 –> Second, it artfully suppresses the history of the founding of science, which grew up in the soil of the Judaeo-Christian worldview, and which expected that the God of order who is reason himself would build a rational world, in which creatures equipped for reason and observation could investigate, discover and apply. This too was presented in correction to Wiki but is suppressed willfully.

    7 –> It also suppresses the actual issue of a priori materialism as a question-begging censorship on origins.

    8 –> Then, there is the little fact of what we may find in the greatest textual work of modern science — where Newtonian dynamics and the law of gravitation were introduced to the public [calculus was by and large kept in the background], Newton’s Principia, i.e. the General Scholium. This, too, was recently cited in correction to Wiki, but of course it does not fit the party-line — how this reminds me of the dreary work of dealing with the marxists and their agit-prop — so it is ignored:

    . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.

    This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler . . . .

    And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done . . . .

    In him are all things contained and moved [i.e. cites Ac 17, where Paul evidently cites Cleanthes]; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God. It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where . . . .

    We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing.

    9 –> So thoroughly indoctrinated are such doctrinaire materialists, that they often do not understand that a world of order speaks of an author of that order, especially in a context where for sixty years it has emerged more and more, that we live in a world that seems very carefully engineered to support the kind of life we enjoy.

    >>Its a tired line, but Science works.>>

    10 –> Which, properly understood in light of being informed on worldview alternatives in a balanced way, is what one expects on theistic principles. Indeed, that is a major part of the story on the rise of modern science. And this is one reason why a fairer summary of the roots of science needs to be in our textbooks, people are being indoctrinated into a false, long outdated C19 rationalist view by default.

    11 –> but instead, what is really meant here is that a priori materialism delivers the goods. However, on origins, it is patently begging big questions, censoring investigations, and career busting those who try to take the slightest step outside of the party line. (Where G2 evidently cannot bring himself to acknowledge that that has something to do with the number of papers out there. And of course, he is only too willing to broad brush dismiss what he cannot acknowledge and address fairly on the merits.)

    >>If you get sick, you may pray, but you also take your medicine.>>

    12 –> of course, he does not acknowledge that he is here dealing with someone who, absent a miracle of guidance — there is no way my mother would otherwise have found the right doctor — would be dead forty years now. So, there are various kinds of miracles involved even in cases where one prays and takes one’s medicine. In my cases adrenalin injections and two years of a regime of 20 – 30 pills per day, in doses that shocked the pharmacists.

    13 –> That took courage on the part of the doctor, serious courage. But it worked.

    14 –> G2 is also suppressing that the majority of physicians actually believe that miracles of healing occur today. And, it is of course the very same doctors who are best poised to know this.

    >>There is evidence that Science works, but no evidence for phantoms in the sky.>>

    15 –> Loaded language, as usual, and the selective hyperskeptical dismissal of evidence disagreed with as “no evidence.”

    16 –> G2 needs to take a few moments and inform himself of the evidence that the cosmos as a whole is designed, pointing to an extracosmic immaterial designer as root cause, maybe starting with the 101 here at UD. Even through a multiverse speculation. And, he needs to attend to the voice of the lifelong agnostic astrophysicist, Hoyle, on that matter, as was repeatedly cited in recent days in the review of the Wiki hit piece on ID.

    17 –> he also needs to acquaint himself withthe evidence that points to our minds as being beyond matter organised by blind chance and mechanical necessity through accidents of genetic endowment and cultural influences.

    >> As Dawkins is wont to point out, if you, by an accident of birth, were born in another culture, you would, right now, be swearing belief in some other god (there are plenty to choose) but the Science you apply to make things work would be the same.>>

    18 –> Irrelvant, warrant does not boil down to cultural obsessions, and this ignores the fact that people do change their worldviews dramatically under the influence of considering evidence.

    19 –> in addition, this hints at an absolutisation of science that fails to reckon with the limitations of its methods. Sorry, science changes and indeed in some times, diverse schools of thought obtain at the same time in different places or institutions; that is what all that stuff about scientific revolutions, paradigms, research programmes and core ideas protected by belts of auxiliary concepts and hypotheses etc is about.

    20 –> Scientific conflict is as much a part of the story of science as is scientific consensus. And, after C20, no properly rational person who knows the implications of the revolutions in Physics in C17 and C20 can but recognise that consensus is not a criterion for truth in science.
    __________________

    What is clear is that we see nowhere a serious attempt to warrant a materialistic worldview, only an attempt to dress it up in the holy lab coat and demand genuflection. All the while a shotgun is held to the back of science, to demand its allegiance to materialism.

    Enough is enough.

    Put up your dukes!

    (Show your substantiation, or stand exposed as holding to what is rationally unjustifiable, and imagining that by throwing mud at alternatives, you justify it. Every tub must stand on its own bottom.)

    KF

  102. F/N: let me cite from Sir Fred Hoyle, as is in the already linked, and as appears here as part of an original post marking up the Wiki hit piece on ID:

    ___________

    >> let me cite here a certain scientific hero of mine, the lifelong agnostic, Sir Fred Hoyle:

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect [--> as in, a Cosmos-building super intellect] has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.]

    This seems to have been part of the conclusion of a talk he gave at Caltech in 1981. Let’s clip a little earlier:

    The big problem in biology, as I see it, is to understand the origin of the information carried by the explicit structures of biomolecules. The issue isn’t so much the rather crude fact that a protein consists of a chain of amino acids linked together in a certain way, but that the explicit ordering of the amino acids endows the chain with remarkable properties, which other orderings wouldn’t give. The case of the enzymes is well known . . . If amino acids were linked at random, there would be a vast number of arrange-ments that would be useless in serving the pur-poses of a living cell. When you consider that a typical enzyme has a chain of perhaps 200 links and that there are 20 possibilities for each link,it’s easy to see that the number of useless arrangements is enormous, more than the number of atoms in all the galaxies visible in the largest telescopes. This is for one enzyme, and there are upwards of 2000 of them, mainly serving very different purposes. So how did the situation get to where we find it to be? This is, as I see it, the biological problem – the information problem . . . .

    I was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe. So try as I would, I couldn’t convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes – by what are called the blind forces of nature . . . . By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by thought, not by random processes . . . .

    Now imagine yourself as a superintellect working through possibilities in polymer chemistry. Would you not be astonished that polymers based on the carbon atom turned out in your calculations to have the remarkable properties of the enzymes and other biomolecules? Would you not be bowled over in surprise to find that a living cell was a feasible construct? Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use: Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. Of course you would, and if you were a sensible superintellect you would conclude that the carbon atom is a fix. [--> not exactly the strawman G2 would like to address, C atoms weighing more or less in Alaska, where actually they do, there is a variation of weight with latitude due to earth's rotation, that is part of why mass is used instead of weight in physics]

    OF COURSE, IT IS WORSE THAN THIS.

    It turns out that on many dimensions of fine tuning, our cosmos spits out the following first four atoms: H, He, C, O. with N nearly 5th overall, and 5th for our galaxy. That gets us to stars, the rest of the periodic table, organic chemistry, water, terrestrial rocks [oxides or oxygen rich ceramics] and proteins.

    That I find is a big clue.

    Where, we must then see what Hoyle also said:

    I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. [["The Universe: Past and Present Reflections." Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]

    In short, the numbers [on dates] do not add up as Ms Forrest would have us believe, and the personality who is actually pivotal — evidently including for Thaxton et al — is not by any means a Christian, but a lifelong agnostic.

    And remember, the cosmological ID thinking emerged first, from the 1950?s to 70?s. It ties naturally into the issues being run into by OOL researchers who had by the 1970?s realised they had to account for functionally specific complex information in biology. >>

    ____________

    Remember, this is a lifelong agnostic, the holder of a Nobel equivalent Prize for his work in Astrophysics, and one of the leading astrophysicists of the past century. Speaking, on his base of expertise.

    And, just to get the timeline straight, he is speaking and writing c 1981 – 82, not the post 1987 of the false history of the roots of ID promoted by Wiki, echoing the talking points of Barbara Forrest et al of NCSE and Louisiana Humanists [= Atheists] etc.

    KF

  103. F/N 2: In light of the above, a telling little footnote that reveals the driving force of dismissive, selective hyperskepticism and a priori materialist assumptions:

    50
    BoxJanuary 7, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Graham2, are you aware of any evidence against the existence of god?

    51
    Graham2January 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Box: No. You are asking for evidence of absence, and there isnt any, just as there is no evidence for the absence of the celestial teapot.

    G2 needs to address the evidence summarised by Sir Fred and others, down to today, and indeed tracing back to Plato in The Laws Bk X on the source of the cosmos.

    It sure seems to me that Sir Fred Hoyle saw a lot of evidence of the type that G2 wishes to assert does not exist.

    KF

  104. A response to this article will be delivered tomorrow at my site elvestedt.se.

  105. F/N 3:

    A skeletal outline of the arguments that G2 dismisses as “rubbish”:

    ——–

    >> B. Cosmological:

    (NB: This appears out of the classical order, as IMHO it makes A far more clear if this is done, by distinguishing and rationalising “contingent” and “necessary” beings. This is an example of a cumulative argument.):

    1. Some contingent beings exist. (E.g.: us, a tree or a fruit, an artifact, the planets and stars, etc. — anything that might not have existed, i.e. is caused.)

    2. Contingent beings do not exist by themselves – that is in part what “contingent” means – so they require a necessary being as their ultimate cause.

    3. If any contingent being exists, then a necessary being exists.

    4. Thus, there exists a necessary being, the ultimate cause of the existence of the many contingent beings in the cosmos.

    A. Ontological:

    1. If God exists, his existence is necessary. (NB link to B.4 just above.)

    2. If God does not exist, his existence is impossible.

    3. Either God exists or he does not exist.

    4. God’s existence is either necessary or impossible.

    5. But, God’s existence is possible (i.e. not impossible).

    6. So, God’s existence is necessary.

    C. Teleological/design:

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

    2. The universe (and/or a specific part of it[3]) is just such a highly complex object.

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

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

    5. Probably, there is a God.

    D. Moral:

    1. People, in practice, invariably act as though there are binding moral obligations. (For instance, as C. S. Lewis points out, that is how we quarrel.)

    2. Probably, such objective, binding moral obligations exist.

    3. Probably, unless there is a God, there cannot be objectively binding moral obligations.

    4. Probably, there is a God who is the author of the moral order of the universe.

    E. Religious experience:

    1. If and only if God exists, can God reveal himself to us — through direct encounters/revelations, and/or through miracles, and/or through indirect witness (such as the voice of conscience or the glories of creation, or the intellectual and moral incoherence of other views about ultimate reality), etc.

    2. A great many people report that they have had just such experiences of/encounters with/discoveries about God; often sensing union with and/or the utter otherness of God.

    3. Many of these are in the list of greatest minds and/or greatest lives in human history.

    4. It is extremely unlikely that all of these people are lying, mistaken or deluded.

    5. It is therefore highly probable that God exists, as the ground of such experiences. (This argument brings us back to Pascal’s wager.)

    These arguments are of valid — or at least inductively strong — forms, and they mutually reinforce like the strands and fibres in a rope[4], but objections can be made to at least some of their premises. However, such rejection comes at a price:

    Cosmological: major objections assert that the universe may be eternal, the result of an infinite chain of contingent beings and cause-effect links, and/or that the universe’s existence is a brute – inexplicable – fact. (The first runs head-on into the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which implies that the universe is running down so probably is not infinitely old; but more importantly, the above argument makes no assumptions about the age of the cosmos. The second main objection in effect rejects the principle of sufficient reason: if things happen, there is a good/adequate reason for it. Which alternative is more plausible/ “reason”-able?)

    Ontological: from premises # 4 & 5, God’s existence is only possible if it is necessary – inviting the objection that God’s existence is impossible, but this is in turn a very strong claim (and far harder to prove than to assert)!
    Design: Objections try to deny the link between the observed complexity of the universe or objects in it and the existence of an Intelligent Designer, aka God. Or, they may point to the gap between the Designer and the God people wish to worship. (The latter is largely irrelevant: teleological arguments do not set out as a rule, to prove ALL that we may wish to know about God, just to argue that the design in the cosmos implies a Designer. The former hinge on providing alternative explanations for complexity in the cosmos, in effect asserting that even very improbable complex systems, given enough time will happen by chance. But, for instance, the calculated odds that a living cell could arise by chance are estimated at ~ 1 in 10 ^ 40,000 – i.e. 1 followed by 40,000 zeroes, a fair number of pages worth. This is so close to impossible as makes no practical difference: it is not likely to have happened once in the whole known universe in any reasonable timeframe for its existence, usually judged at 10 – 15 billion years. Indeed, odds of 1 in 10 ^ 200 are generally regarded as effectively zero.)

    Moral: often people simply assert that there are no binding obligations, or claim that there is no set of universally accepted moral principles. Others seek to suggest ways in which moral obligations can exist in a non-theistic world; or else simply say that these obligations are yet another brute – i.e. inexplicable — fact. (The common fact that relativists wish to assert binding moral principles themselves, such as “tolerance,” indicates that relativist claims are self-defeating, sometimes even hypocritical. Disagreement over principles needs not imply their non-existence, just that reasoning about morality has its pitfalls just like any other type of reasoning. Also, C S Lewis and others have highlighted that in fact when individuals and cultures speak of those they care about, they do assert a surprisingly consistent set of values. Evolutionary theories of morality run into difficulties explaining say, self-sacrificing behaviour, and may argue in a circle from “survival is good” to “good is survival.” Many moral obligations cut right across our instincts, to the point where our daily challenge is usually whether we should go with conscience or impulse. And, the “brute fact” claim is actually a major concession: “I cannot explain morality on the basis of my core beliefs, but I have to accept it as a fact.” If so, then why not accept a framework that can make good sense of morality?)

    Religious Experience: Some object that religious experiences are simply subjective perceptions: i.e. that they are not veridical. Others add that such experiences are not publicly checkable, i.e. that they lack objectivity. Further, it may be pointed out that different traditions have different, conflicting experiences. (But, to say some religious experiences are not veridical is one thing; to claim that ALL are only subjective and/or delusional is another — especially given that some of those so indicted are central to the world’s intellectual and cultural history; e.g. Moses and his Law, Jesus of Nazareth, the Apostles and their experience of the resurrection of Christ, and a great many others, such as the great scientists Newton, Pascal and Maxwell. Further, just because experiences are mediated through our senses and consciousness does not imply that they are dubious, apart from specific reason to suspect delusion. Thirdly, if we insist on public tests for all experiences, then we face an infinite regress. And, it is more appropriate to observe that there are conflicting interpretations of the experiences rather than contradictory experiences as such; especially as regards union with God and/or of God’s utter otherness.)

    Thus, we see that there are no universally compelling theistic arguments, but that rejecting them all comes at a metaphysical price that may be steeper than one is willing to pay. >>

    ——–

    Let us see if G2 is willing to flesh out his dismissals, in light of up to date technical presentations and to show whether or not he is paying a stiff metaphysical price to do so.

    Yes, we know, we know, P => Q, NOT-Q so Not P, but what does asserting NOT-Q mean?

    (In a context of seeing the implication as a context for inference to best explanation across comparative difficulties on worldview alternatives, so we look at options that posit explanations of the facts F1, F2, . . Fn, and then are to be weighed on absolute and relative ability to account for facts, be coherent and have elegant, simple but not simplistic explanatory and predictive power.)

    KF

    PS: For grounding a generic, philosophically rooted theism — god of the philosophers, not yet God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the Christ the apostles, martyrs and confessors — cf here on. See if G2 can provide a better balance for us ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked fundies out in the boondocks.

  106. G2 as to:

    “Science is, in its entirety, materialistic and successful.”

    REALLY? Wow! Then G2 what in blue blazes are we to do with a experimental result like the following in which the researchers, using free will, conscious observation, and a operation of logic, destroyed a material particle in one place and instantaneously teleported it to its entangled particle?

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves – April 2011
    Excerpt: In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.
    http://www.popsci.com/technolo.....-computing

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://researcher.ibm.com/view_project.php?id=2862

    Note:

    The role of each conscious observer, and the choice(s) of each conscious observer in the experiment, and the specific operations of logic, used to achieve quantum teleportation are summarized on the following site:

    Quantum Teleportation – A summary

    Excerpt: Assume that Alice and Bob share an entangled qubit ab. That is, Alice has one half, a, and Bob has the other half, b. Let c denote the qubit Alice wishes to transmit to Bob.

    Alice applies a unitary operation on the qubits ac and measures (i.e. consciously observes) the result to obtain two classical bits. In this process, the two qubits are destroyed. Bob’s qubit, b, now contains information about c; however, the information is somewhat randomized. More specifically, Bob’s qubit b is in one of four states uniformly chosen at random and Bob cannot obtain any information about c from his qubit.

    Alice provides her two measured classical bits, which indicate which of the four states Bob possesses. Bob applies a unitary transformation which depends on the classical bits he obtains from Alice, transforming his qubit into an identical re-creation of the qubit c.,,,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....#A_summary

    summary of logical operations
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....The_result

  107. Well it looks like Graham2 is just another ignorant and cowardly equivocator.

    Hey Graham2- do you even know what the debate is all about? Your posts say that you don’t have a clue.

  108. Axel @95: You seem to be saying that Quantum mechanics is magic. Is this correct ? Perhaps you could rephrase it in plain English (without the spittle).

    Andre @99: Is this the same 1 single science that come to two different conclusions on the effects of causes? You know unguided vs. guided. Designed vs. non-design….?

    Eh? Could you give a concrete example from some commonly accepted current Science ?

    KF: I made the claim that current Science, as applied in industry, etc, seems to be pretty solid, (my phrase was ’1 Science’), and I gave a bunch of examples to illustrate this. Nothing you wrote seemed to address this. Please note I am referring to current Science. Hoyle, Newton, Aristotle are all interesting history, but I am referring to current Science. Also, I just know you are going to refer to Quantum mechanics. Yes, yes, yes, its weird. I know that. We all know that, but it seems to be pretty well established and agreed upon (it is often quoted as being a very good predictor of reality).

    And could you convert from cliche-ese to English … In a context of seeing the implication as a context for inference to best explanation across comparative difficulties on worldview alternatives !!!!!

  109. as to:

    ‘Quantum mechanics. Yes, yes, yes, its weird. I know that. We all know that, but it seems to be pretty well established and agreed upon (it is often quoted as being a very good predictor of reality).’

    UHHH G2, Quantum mechanics is completely antagonistic to materialism.,, Perhaps that is why you find it so ‘weird’?

    Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism – By Bruce L Gordon:
    Excerpt: Because quantum theory is thought to provide the bedrock for our scientific understanding of physical reality, it is to this theory that the materialist inevitably appeals in support of his worldview. But having fled to science in search of a safe haven for his doctrines, the materialist instead finds that quantum theory in fact dissolves and defeats his materialist understanding of the world.
    http://www.4truth.net/site/c.h.....ialism.htm

  110. Corrected link:

    Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism – By Bruce L Gordon:
    http://www.4truth.net/fourtrut.....8589952939

  111. Graham2 is just another clueless loser. He can’t support his position so he HAZ to lash-out at ID with his ignorance.

    Nice job Graham, but do you really think that your ignorance is going to convince anyone?

  112. @Graham2
    Do you agree with William J Murray, that atheism is not rationally justifiable? If not, tell me where I go wrong:

    1. There is no evidence against the existence of God.
    (In posting 51 Graham2 agrees with premise 1.)
    2. There is at the very least some evidence in favor of the existence of God.
    (In posting 53 Graham2 agrees with premise 2)
    3. Therefor it is more probable that God exists than that God does not exist. So atheism isn’t rationally justifiable.

  113. G2: do you understand the difference between experimental science and observational science? operational and origins/historical? Do you know what inference to best (current) explanation is? Do you understand the degrees of warrant that are applicable? And, do you understand that both Newton and Hoyle are still very current and applicable? Explain how — so far, you are coming across as sophomoric at best. KF

  114. Graham2 (88, 89):

    We have ancient Greek authors arguing that Zeus is not the cause of the thunder and that disease is not caused by evil spirits. They’re from the 5th century B.C. So what we’ve learned in the past 400 years has nothing to do with that.

    Regarding the past 400 years, what you fail to perceive is that the reason scientists came to believe that the world is ruled by orderly laws in the first place is that science grew up in a Christian milieu and understood God as a cosmic lawgiver. Why should nature be orderly? Why isn’t it a chaos, with one unexplained thing happening after another? And if there are laws, why are those laws accessible to human reason? All of these questions were asked and answered with reference to Christian theology, by Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Boyle, etc. This is now well-known to historians of science.

    You wrote to Steve Gann:

    “The Science we practice now doesnt invoke the supernatural in any way”

    Neither does ID. ID says that living things could not have obtained the structures and functions they have without the input of information. It isn’t committed to saying that the information is input by supernatural means. The fact that you think it *is* so committed tells me that you aren’t familiar with the claims of ID. Have you read Michael Denton’s second book, *Nature’s Destiny*? If you haven’t, I would suggest that you withhold further criticism of ID until you have.

    There is a difference between saying (i) that there is a mind or intelligence responsible for certain features of nature, and (ii) that a divine being intervenes in the processes of nature. Until you grasp this distinction, you will confuse ID with creationism. And we weary of explaining this over and over again, to people who object to ID, based on hearsay, without taking the time to actually read ID books and articles and learn what ID people are arguing. If you are faking it based on secondhand knowledge, please stop wasting all our time here. Read Behe’s books. Read Denton. Read *No Free Lunch* by Dembski. Read Meyer’s *Signature in the Cell*. Come back with your objections only after you have carefully read these works. You won’t be taken seriously here until your comments show familiarity with them.

  115. PS: G2, have you done a good phil 101? I suggest here may help. Inference to best current empirically reliable explanation in the context of live, uncensored alternatives/schools of thought and the building of a cumulative case [think: rope not chain] — an idealised courtroom is I gather actually a model that goes back to Bacon — is also how a lot of how real world inductive reasoning in science etc works, forget that stuff on simplistic generalisation or superficial analogies.

  116. 116

    Graham2 @ 90 said: “The Science we practice now doesnt invoke the supernatural in any way, we have grown up. If you dont agree, then can you provide an example ?”

    Apparently, you missed where I provided such examples in the O.P. From Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands, The Lancet, Volume 358, Issue 9298, Pages 2039 – 2045, 15 December 2001 :

    With lack of evidence for any other theories for NDE, the thus far assumed, but never proven, concept that consciousness and memories are localised in the brain should be discussed. How could a clear consciousness outside one’s body be experienced at the moment that the brain no longer functions during a period of clinical death with flat EEG?

    Also, in cardiac arrest the EEG usually becomes flat in most cases within about 10 s from onset of syncope.29,30 Furthermore, blind people have described veridical perception during out-of-body experiences at the time of this xperience.31 NDE pushes at the limits of medical ideas about the range of human consciousness and the mind-brain relation.

    Another theory holds that NDE might be a changing state of consciousness (transcendence), in which identity, cognition, and emotion function independently from the unconscious body, but retain the possibility of non-sensory perception. Research should be concentrated on the effort to explain scientifically the occurrence and content of NDE. Research should be focused on certain specific elements of NDE, such as out-of-body experiences and other verifiable aspects. Finally, the theory and background of transcendence should be included as a part of an explanatory framework for these experiences.

    It appears that the authors have invoked a transcendent consciousness that can operate and sense independent of the physical body as a potential explanation for the NDE phenomena in their research.

    The interesting thing about universally negative claims (“The Science we practice now doesnt invoke the supernatural in any way“) is that it only takes one example to disprove it. You might beware of making such grandiose claims in the future, especially when they are apparently rooted in an ideological, dismissive certainty that blinds you to conclusive evidence to the contrary.

    BTW, the only reason I decided to disprove your universally negative claim, which was shifting the burden on your part, is because I used that very kind of evidence to support the case I made in the O.P. Perhaps you should have actually read and pursued the evidence I offered in the O.P. before making such an easily falsified assertion.

    Instead of simply resting on your ideological certainty about the scope of scientific research and publication, you might at least first have a look around – actually try to find scientific research that “invokes the supernatural in any way”. In the age of google and the internet, ignorance of such information can only be willfully self-inflicted.

  117. T: One of the reasons I find Wiki’s article on ID such a travesty, is that while advertising its vaunted NPOV, it does not provide the sort of balanced, accurate and fair overview that we could simply refer a G2 there, instead of to a clutch of books of multiple hundreds of pages apiece. That is a real disservice. And, I suspect that instead, through informal or formal sources he thought were giving him a good picture, G2 has been programmed with some talking points, perspectives, attitudes and expectations that are leading him off the deep end. In default of which, I suggest G2 should at least read the NWE introduction here before commenting again, and should read it knowing that it gives a more accurate and fair summary than something that sounds like the Wiki article. KF

  118. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, billed as “a peer-reviewed academic resource,” presents a history and positive case for atheism in its article at http://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/.

  119. G2 I appreciate you presenting a contrarian view. It has been a lively discussion.

    What I have found most interesting however is what has been unsaid. You seem to have avoided some questions, especially where the accuracy of your points is questioned.

    What does it mean for you that some of your assumptions or assertions are demonstrably false? Do you question anything or look for answers or do you just push forward?

    I think this is what Mr. Murray is referring to by intellectual honesty – are you willing to examine the issues objectively, without preconceptions.

  120. ecs2, I have to agree I admire the bravery that G2 has shown in trying to defend the indefensible, but now if he would only show as much bravery in following the evidence where it leads no matter what, instead of holding his a priori philosophical bias. ,,, Here is another atheist I admired for his bravery:

    Anthony Flew – The Honest Ex-Atheist – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbyTwmaJArU

  121. Here are the questions I would like any materialist to answer. I ask these in good faith not understanding why you maintain your position against the prevailing evidence.

    I see your position as having several inherent flaws. By inherent flaw I mean that the problem is built into your faith assumptions and no amount of logic can remove it. So in logical order,

    1. Do you not see that since you claim a) no mind beyond that which is built up by evolution using natural law – b) you have no basis to believe that the conclusions made by a naturally constructed mind match truth?

    2. Do you not see that a) given the above fact that you have no solid basis for claiming the truth of your position -b) your claim of materialism as the right answer holds no special place?

    3. Do you not see that a) by insisting on repeatable scientific evidence which can be repeated by you in a controlled experiment b) you exclude all evidence which would be under the control of an independent mind or God?

    4. Do you not see that you believe materialism by faith assumption and in spite of the evidence not because of the evidence?

    Believe me, I do not ask these questions because I want to inflict pain or hurt. I am just truly flabbergasted that you do not see 1-4.

    If “in spite of the evidence” you choose to still believe materialism, then fine. But at least be honest enough to claim your position by faith, and not by preponderance of the evidence.

  122. Timaeus, thanks for the Jaki, Hooykaas, Collingwood reference, I plugged it into google and found a book that looks well worth reading:

    The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

  123. @Graham2:

    Not sure if you missed my post at #68 because of the volume of incoming posts, non the less, I’m still curious as to why you believe human experience (such as NDE’s, and testimonials) to be hopeless when it comes to evidence?

  124. I suspect I am the atypical person that follows such a forum. I am a 63 year old retired avid cyclist currently working my way through an injury and struggling to find things of interest to keep busy.

    I think most secular folks claim to be atheist because its vogue and not through intellectual considerations. I hear people say “I just don’t buy it”.

    I think this speaks to the point that it’s not a debate about the evidence for “no god” but rather a debate about the evidence for god.

  125. LT:

    We are familiar with the IEP, which is a good phil reference, sometimes better than SEP as more concisely to the point.

    It summarised arguments for atheism as follows:

    Arguments for the non-existence of God are deductive or inductive. Deductive arguments for the non-existence of God are either single or multiple property disproofs that allege that there are logical or conceptual problems with one or several properties that are essential to any being worthy of the title “God.” Inductive arguments typically present empirical evidence that is employed to argue that God’s existence is improbable or unreasonable. Briefly stated, the main arguments are: God’s non-existence is analogous to the non-existence of Santa Claus. The existence of widespread human and non-human suffering is incompatible with an all powerful, all knowing, all good being. Discoveries about the origins and nature of the universe, and about the evolution of life on Earth make the God hypothesis an unlikely explanation. Widespread non-belief and the lack of compelling evidence show that a God who seeks belief in humans does not exist. Broad considerations from science that support naturalism, or the view that all and only physical entities and causes exist, have also led many to the atheism conclusion.

    The short responses are obvious.

    Post Plantinga, the deductive argument on evils is dead, and all such arguments face the problem highlighted ever since by Boethius: whence good, if there is no God.

    The evidence of the natural world, with mounting force is that the observed cosmos is designed, is finitely old, and was designed to host C-chemistry, cell based life.

    While many are determined atheists, the overall consensus of humanity is not in their favour.

    And, in a context of the Christian faith, the life, death, resurrection of Jesus with the 500 witnesses and the prophecies leading to the miraculous spreading of the church against all odds, and to the transformation of life of millions of people and entire communities is considerable direct evidence of dealings with God. Evidence that, if it is all delusional, tosses us back to the fundamental problem of evolutionary materialist atheism.

    Namely, it is self referentially incoherent when it has to address the grounding of the knowing, reasoning mind.

    I think we can proceed on the issues, especially if you want the IEP summary to speak for you.

    KF

  126. JDH,

    Your argument #1 on fallible minds is not so strong.

    If you accept the premise that our minds are natural products/byproducts, and if you accept that our cognitive abilities are limited, why does it then follow that any conclusion anyone should reach is 100% incorrect?

    Don’t you think that science and scientific methods, as an aid to both our senses and cognitive abilities, can help us to make conclusions about the world that are consistent, if nothing else?

  127. @LarTanner 123
    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” Darwin, July 3, 1881

  128. LarTanner, are you trying to reason with your material brain? But why should your brain state care if its brain state is more true than anyone else’s particular brain state and what makes you think that by the force of reason alone you can change anyone else’s brain state?

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    C.S. Lewis, Reason, and Naturalism: An Interview with Dr. Jay Richards – audio
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201.....alism.html

    The Argument From Reason – resource page
    http://www.reasonsforgod.org/t.....om-reason/

    “If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.”
    – William J Murray

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” – Charles Darwin – Letter To William Graham – July 3, 1881

    Self-Refuting Belief Systems – Cornelius Hunter – September 2012
    Excerpt: Relativism states that there are no absolute truths, but if true then that statement is an absolute truth. Likewise the statement that evolution is a fact, if true, means that we cannot know evolution to be a fact. Why? Because with evolution our minds are nothing more than molecules in motion—an accidental biochemistry experiment which has yielded a set of chemicals in a certain configuration. This leads to what Darwin called “the horrid doubt”:
    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind.” Darwin to Graham, William – 3 July 1881
    Today evolutionists agree that while a random collection of chemicals doesn’t know anything, nonetheless over long time periods and under the action of natural selection, phenomena which we refer to as knowledge, will and consciousness will spontaneously emerge. And how do we know this? Because evolution occurred and we know that it occurred. Therefore evolution must have created the phenomena of knowledge. The proof is left to the student.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....stems.html

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter”.
    J. B. S. Haldane ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

  129. PS: I have also above put forth skeletal inductive, inference to best explanation forms of classic arguments to God. I think the cumulative metaphysical commitments to reject the “rope” intertwined from these, carries a stiff metaphysical commitments price, e.g. by nature of what a candidate necessary being is, rejection of God — by definition such a being — entails the commitment that God is impossible, which I suspect is going to be hard to sustain post the free will defense in the teeth of the problem of evils, multiplied by the Boethius point on needing to also justify the objectivity of good, thence morals. Kindly explain what price you are willing to pay, why.

  130. 130
    Kantian Naturalist

    I’m going to try to avoid getting mired in this conversation, because I don’t think conversations like this are at all productive, but I suffer from weakness of will.

    One often hears things like this:

    Do you not see that since you claim a) no mind beyond that which is built up by evolution using natural law – b) you have no basis to believe that the conclusions made by a naturally constructed mind match truth?

    This is basically the same worry that Descartes poses in the first Meditation: if my cognitive capacities are the result of chance and necessity, then I have no reason to believe they are reliable.

    And once you find yourself asking Cartesian questions, it’s hard to avoid Cartesian answers — I know that my mind is reliable because God guarantees that my mind is reliable when I use it properly — and then the attendant Cartesian-inspired difficulties, such as the mind-body problem, etc.

    But it is not terribly difficult to free oneself entirely from the whole Cartesian problematic which has shaped modern epistemology, and when that is done, the problem of naturalism can be looked at afresh.

    When a cat stalks a bird, we have no problem with the thought that the cat’s brain is reliably detecting patterns of movement, shape, etc. which are causally grounded in the bird’s activity. Why, then, should we think that in our case, there’s any hint of a ‘gap’ between thought and the world? If there’s no ‘gap’ for cats (or whatever), why would be one for us?

    Such considerations could be developed extensively in both breadth and depth — the point is, a naturalist has every reason to believe that her brain, as a product of variation and selection, reliably detects real patterns and that, as a result, her judgments refer to the world (if they are true) or do not (if they are false).

    I do not think it makes any sense to suppose that my brain is reliably detecting real patterns in the world, but that none of my rational judgments refer to the world. (What gives that supposition the aura of plausibility is the crypto-dualism on which it depends.)

    In other words, rational thought — my thoughts and assertions being about the world, referring to it, getting it right (or wrong) — is just what happens in a natural cognitive system that includes (but of course is not limited to) a complex brain that has been ‘programmed’ with language and culture, and brains reliably detect real patterns in the world because that’s just what brains do in order to mediate between sensory input and motor output.

  131. LT@123

    It’s not that I demand that a conclusion from a naturally constructed brain to be 100% incorrect, it’s just that it the conclusions of that natural mind can’t be trusted. This is what I mean by a solid basis. You have no reason to believe your answers from a natural mind are 100% correct, I have no reason to believe that they are 100% incorrect. So I rightly state that under your assumptions, the conclusions of your brain have no special place in the realm of evidence.

    It seems you have only supported my claims and I await your admitting that you have very little credible evidence on your side and that it is a religious choice you use to believe materialism. After you admit this we can start correctly weighing the evidence, correctly using Occam’s razor, and I believe, if you are intellectually honest you will believe as Antony Flew concluded – in an omniscient God.

    Hopefully from that point we can proceed to the discovery of the Love of Christ.

  132. KN, can you resolve this dilemma of evidence facing the materialist?

    Alan’s brain tells his mind, “Don’t you blow it.”
    Listen up! (Even though it’s inchoate.)
    “My claim’s neat and clean.
    I’m a Turing Machine!”
    … ‘Tis somewhat curious how he could know it.

    Are Humans merely Turing Machines?

    Alan Turing extended Godel’s incompleteness to material computers, as is illustrated in this following video:

    Alan Turing & Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8516356

    And it is now found that,,,

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    Yet supercomputers with many switches have a huge problem dissipating heat,,,

    Supercomputer architecture
    Excerpt: Throughout the decades, the management of heat density has remained a key issue for most centralized supercomputers.[4][5][6] The large amount of heat generated by a system may also have other effects, such as reducing the lifetime of other system components.[7] There have been diverse approaches to heat management, from pumping Fluorinert through the system, to a hybrid liquid-air cooling system or air cooling with normal air conditioning temperatures.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....chitecture

    But the brain, though having as many switches as all the computers on earth, does not have such a problem dissipating heat,,,

    Appraising the brain’s energy budget:
    Excerpt: In the average adult human, the brain represents about 2% of the body weight. Remarkably, despite its relatively small size, the brain accounts for about 20% of the oxygen and, hence, calories consumed by the body. This high rate of metabolism is remarkably constant despite widely varying mental and motoric activity. The metabolic activity of the brain is remarkably constant over time.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/16/10237.full

    THE EFFECT OF MENTAL ARITHMETIC ON CEREBRAL CIRCULATION AND METABOLISM
    Excerpt: Although Lennox considered the performance of mental arithmetic as “mental work”, it is not immediately apparent what the nature of that work in the physical sense might be if, indeed, there be any. If no work or energy transformation is involved in the process of thought, then it is not surprising that cerebral oxygen consumption is unaltered during mental arithmetic.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....4-0127.pdf

    Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories? – By Ferris Jabr – July 2012
    Excerpt: So a typical adult human brain runs on around 12 watts—a fifth of the power required by a standard 60 watt lightbulb. Compared with most other organs, the brain is greedy; pitted against man-made electronics, it is astoundingly efficient.
    http://www.scientificamerican......d-calories

    Moreover, the heat generated by computers is primarily caused by the erasure of information from the computer,,,

    Landauer’s principle
    Of Note: “any logically irreversible manipulation of information, such as the erasure of a bit or the merging of two computation paths, must be accompanied by a corresponding entropy increase ,,, Specifically, each bit of lost information will lead to the release of an (specific) amount (at least kT ln 2) of heat.,,, Landauer’s Principle has also been used as the foundation for a new theory of dark energy, proposed by Gough (2008).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L....._principle

    Thus the brain is either operating on reversible computation principles no computer can come close to emulating (Charles Bennett), or, as is much more likely, the brain is not erasing information from its memory as material computers are required to do, because our memories are stored on a ‘spiritual’ level rather than on a material level,,,

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.
    http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/Res.....sponse.htm

    To support this view that ‘memory/information’ is not stored in the brain but on a higher ‘spiritual’ level, one of the most common features of extremely deep near death experiences is the ‘life review’ where every minute detail of a person’s life is reviewed:

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

    Thus, humans are not merely Turing Machines!

  133. Two more quotations on matter and intelligence:
    “… it is as impossible to conceive that ever pure incogitative matter should produce a thinking intelligent Being, as that nothing should of itself produce Matter.”, John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding(1690) IV, x, 10

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.”, Haldane [1927] 1932. ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]
    - Personally I feel drawn to Locke’s position. I see nothing in matter that resembles thinking. Matter is simply not in the ‘thinking business’, because atoms are occupied with other activities.

  134. But KT@127 there is more than a quantitative gap between man and the cat. The cat does not plan for future abstract events in the abstract world of future time.

    This is why no animal society ( although it may contain many complex relationships ) results in an economy of stocks and bonds, a system of educational institutions, a development of a culture of art and literature, anything that goes beyond survival.

    It is easy to come up with a natural model for simple stimulus and response. I believe this is part of the natural world. But God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Man has a mind capable of going beyond stimulus and response. Man is able to make arbitrary decisions not based stimulus and response, but by weighing two abstract ideas. This type of decisions by its very nature can not be an extension of stimulus, response.

    Now I fully admit man, who has a physical body, is not completely free from the effect of the natural. Lack of sleep makes it harder for me to express the activity of the immaterial mind in my body. But it does not change the nature of abstract thought. An argument between Socrates and Euthyphro about piety does not come from a natural basis. It is an argument that completely takes place in the abstract world of ideas. By its very nature, the overwhelming evidence is that this type of argument has qualities to it that exclude it from the realm of what is purely the result of the natural.

    This is not a mere quantitive difference as your theory purports. Abstract thinking can never be generated by stimulus and response because of the demands of arbitrary decisions which actually generate functionally specified information ex nihilo. I thank you for your carefully selected words, but I must completely disagree with your conclusion.

  135. 135
    Kantian Naturalist

    So what? I never indicated that I thought we were Turing machines. And thinking that we are not Turing machines says nothing at all about the deep metaphysics of mind, at least not without several other assumptions, each of which would be need to be articulated and examined.

    In any event, I only popped in to give a brief overview of why a naturalist who knows a great deal about cognitive neuroscience and philosophy of language can have every reason to believe that Darwin and Haldane are mistaken.

  136. 136

    KN,

    When one defines “rational thought” as “my thoughts and assertions being about the world”, and AS “just what happens in a natural cognitive system”, then one has equivocated “rational thought” to the point of meaninglessness. It has no distinction from any thoughts and assertions anyone has; everything we say and think is by definition “rational”.

    If brains by nature “reliably detect real patterns in the world”, and all such thoughts and assertions and conclusions are rational, then both the atheistic materialist and the kantian naturalist and the spiritual theist have rationally detected real patterns and have come to equally rational conclusions from them. Thus, you are arguing for no significant reason here.

    Surely you’re not going to say that I’m wrong? Since we have equal natural pattern recognition and reasoning machines running our system, by what means will you argue otherwise? You have nothing to appeal to other than that which you have equivocated into meaninglessness. You cannot claim that the lengths marked on my ruler are wrong by comparing it to the lengths on your ruler; what prevents your ruler from being wrong as well? Without assuming an objective arbiter of ruler lengths, there is no resolution to your self-referential problem.

    Such sophistry isn’t an argument; it’s the abandonment of argument in favor of positioning oneself as “beyond” the argument and “above” such quaint and archaic concepts as right and wrong, true and false, rational and irrational, and natural and designed. That you make your arguments here as if they matter, and as if your “natural reasoning” is somehow producing more truthful assertions or conclusions than anyone else’s demonstrates your incapacity to live as if what you promulgate here is true.

    IOW, you argue as if what you are arguing for is not really true; you argue as if what you are arguing against is actually the case. Which is the case for most who do not begin with primacy of mind as fundamental. Caused minds offer only caused thoughts and conclusions and caused sensations about the validity of those conclusions; IOW, there is nothing in your philosophy that differentiates your text here as more than the barking of a dog that has been also caused to think it has said something wise and meaningful.

  137. Graham2, when confronted with the obvious absurdity of his assertion that there is one and only one science, retorts that there is but one and only one science text.

    And then backs that up with a philosophical argument.

  138. Hi William J. Murray,

    I’d just like to thank you for an excellent first post. There’s a lot of food for thought here, and I very much enjoyed reading your argument for the rationality of theism.

    Kantian Naturalist,

    Your account explains why the brain is likely to be good at pattern matching, especially in cases where this is conducive to survival. However, much of our reasoning is carried out at a higher level: that of critical evaluation – your own post being a perfect example. When we critically evaluate a hypothesis, or discuss the theoretical merits of one hypothesis as opposed to another, what is at issue is mot the pattern in Nature that needs to be explained, but the nature of a good explanation. (Consider the dispute as to whether the multiverse is a good hypothesis.)

    Again, when we discuss the merits of competing normative theories – e.g. different theories of morality – we are not trying to match patterns. What is at stake is something deeper: what criteria does an adequate ethical theory need to satisfy?

    It is these critical-evaluative questions which a naturalistic account of mind leaves unexplained. On a naturalistic account, there seems to be no good reason why we should be capable of addressing such issues, let alone arriving at a good answer.

  139. Hey kf, I think you have an apostrophe out of place on your web page. :)

    “A Basic Philosophers’ Toolkit”

    Perhaps rename to:

    “A Basic Philosophy Toolkit”

    Or if you’re into alliteration:

    Finding A Foundation for Philosophers

    Philosophical Foundations for Future Philosophers

    Philosophical Foundations for Former Philistines

  140. The Argument From Reason – resource page

    BA77, thanks for this link and the one to Wigner!

  141. JDH@128,

    So I rightly state that under your assumptions, the conclusions of your brain have no special place in the realm of evidence.
    I think this is correct. A person’s conclusions may very well be incorrect or inaccurate. Yes. We agree.

    Because individual conclusions have no special place in the realm of evidence, WJM’s evidence for God items 1,2,3,4,and 6 must be looked at skeptically.

    I understand you think I have made a religious choice to think atheism is more likely correct than any theism. I don’t hope to convince you otherwise. All I have is my experience and my story to recommend how I came to hold the views I do.

    I was born into a Jewish home and trained as a medievalist. In both regards I have discovered the love of Christ, as you call it. That love often finds scriptural expression in John, a book I personally consider among the most wicked ever devised and interpreted.

    Although your closing message is distastefully arrogant–as if “the Love of Christ” were the only place one could go if one concluded that an omniscient God existed (or Flew’s deistic God)–you may be interested to know that my personal opinion of Jesus is he is one of the duller characters in literature. Besides being almost entirely derivative, he is overshadowed by virtually everyone else with a speaking part.

    If I were to admire a religious figure, I would certainly turn to someone like the Buddha as being superior in life and wisdom.

  142. KN, you state:

    “So what? I never indicated that I thought we were Turing machines.”

    Well that puts you in quite the evidential dilemma doesn’t it KN?, you deny the reality of mind, and now, apparently in your denial of ‘humans as Turing machines’, you deny any basis in reality altogether as to where thoughts can possibly proceed from. Pray tell, just what is generating your thoughts if it is not your brain, which has more switches than all the computers on earth, or your mind which originated from the breath of God?

  143. The relationship between matter and thinking became more clear to me when I stumbled upon the ‘Chinese Room Thought Experiment’ (CRTE) by John Saerle. Searle argues that without understanding (or intentionality), we cannot describe what the computer is doing as “thinking”. But not only does CRTE show us that computers cannot think, it also shows us, in my opinion, that matter cannot think. I see a perfect analogy: just like in CRTE there is no conversation (only the false perception of a conversation), there can only arise the false perception of thinking from matter.

  144. LT claims:

    he (Jesus) is overshadowed by virtually everyone else with a speaking part.

    Interesting comment considering:

    Mark 4:39&41
    He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.,,,
    They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

    and,,

    John 11:43
    When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.,,,”

    OK LT, Jesus may not have been given to saying many words, but no one in history, with such reliable witness as Jesus has, has had more power over nature when he spoke:

    Moreover:

    “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

    Moreover LT, you can go to Buddha’s tomb! In fact the fact is that you can go to the graves of all the other founders of all the other major religions of the world and find the remains of a body,

    Burial places of founders of world religions
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B....._religions

    Yet, as the Shroud of Turin stubbornly testifies despite many repeated attempts to refute the Shroud’s authenticity, if you go to the tomb of Jesus you will not find the remains of a body because Jesus has risen from the dead.

    Matthew 28:5-6
    The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

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

    The following video clearly exposes the infamous ‘Jesus Tomb video’ as fraudulent:

    The Jesus Tomb Unmasked – video
    http://www.youtube.com/view_pl.....16BD4A15DB

    Bottom line: when the math is done correctly, probabilities that might be cited in evidence for the Talpiot tomb being the final resting place of the New Testament Jesus are not very impressive and would not even achieve a minimal level of significance as gauged by conventional statistical theory.
    http://www.designinference.com.....b_Math.pdf

  145. Kantian Naturalist

    And once you find yourself asking Cartesian questions, it’s hard to avoid Cartesian answers — I know that my mind is reliable because God guarantees that my mind is reliable when I use it properly — and then the attendant Cartesian-inspired difficulties, such as the mind-body problem, etc.

    We do not know that our minds are reliable because “God guarantees it.” That would be an act of faith. We know that our minds are reliable because the objects of our perception are common (or potentially common) to two or more individuals. That Descartes was not wise enough to understand this point is irrelevant.

    Our bodily feelings, emotions, and passions are private. Obviously, they cannot be shared precisely because they are subjective. They are distinct for each individual. I cannot take part in your private experience, and you cannot take part in mine.

    Our perceptual experiences, on the other hand, are public. When you, I, and others are sitting at the same table, observing wine glasses, plates, and silverware, we are perceptually apprehending the same objects and we both know it. This is what it means to say that we can reliably know the real world as it is. A spoon is really a spoon and we all apprehend it as such. Religious presuppositions have absolutely nothing to do with it.

  146. Folks:

    I take a different view on all of this, I suppose, because I grew up in the era in which Freudianism and Marxism were in their hey-day, though about to wante dramatically.

    Freudians routinely dismissed critics because of their strict potty training or the like, all with suitably fancy terminology about Oedipus complexes, if-ego-superego and whatnot. Oh yes, God was the blown up image of the father figure projected unto the sky. Sounded very impressive, especially when spoken with true believer fervour.

    Marxists were much into Bourgeois false consciousness driving reactionary forces, superstructures built on the underlying economic and dialectical materialist realities, and so they discounted the views of critics.

    What was never so clearly answered was, what happens wen one raises the issue of self-referentiality. Each of these evolutionary materialist systems has that same problem, and ends up in undermining the views of their own systems. of course, the in effect solution was to make a quiet exception for their views and those trhey agreed with. Hence the issue of selective hyperskepticism.

    So far as I can see there is not a dime’s worth of difference with today’s confident scientistim-laced evolutionary materialist positions.

    Here on is why, in a nutshell:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. "It works" does not warrant the inference to "it is true."] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin -- i.e by design -- tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    . . . . f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    That is why Philip Johnson so aptly said that an implicit exception had to be quietly taken for the materialist theorist.

    Until we see a really good and straightforward warrant for taking this issue off the table, evolutionary materialism is incoherent and unable to account for the fact of human knowledge, rationality and ability to access truth, never mind the challenge we face of falling into error

    And, remember, that includes having a very good reason for telling us why the mouth noises being made or symbolised are anything more than chance and necessity determining outcomes through genes, savannahs in East Africa etc, and more immediate psycho- socio- cultural conditioning.

    KF

  147. 147

    LarTanner said: “… a book I personally consider among the most wicked ever devised and interpreted.”

    Please enlighten me. What does “wicked” mean in the above statement?

  148. I assume from the above that most of you agree that Quantum Mechanics is a display of the hand of god. So now its meaning of words: god, mathematical equations: god, QM: god. Your world is saturated with god. Except ID: thats Science.

  149. Graham2:

    I have not been able to respond to you because of work, but I hope you see this.

    My point about the history of science was to get you to think about your claims concerning the history of science. Christian people were scientists. It was largely their work that created this methodology we call Modern science”. Could other cultures have done so? Yes. But medieval and Renaissance Christianity actually did so. To understand science is, in part, to understand the theology that went into its development.

    But, you have still not done what has been asked of you (that I have seen, even though I did not read the last 40 posts). That is offer a positive case for your position.

    You cannot just say I am an atheist by default and its the theists job to prove everything. I think that is what you have done though. You cannot be an atheist in a vacuum of other ideas. If atheism is true THEN then you have to have and defend a metaphysical position (such as materialism) that results from the atheism. You have not done that. You also have to hold and defend an epistemological position which I have not seen you do.

    So I will get you started….”Hi my name is Graham2 and I am an atheist. Because of my atheism my metaphysical and epistemological positions are ____________, _________, ___________. And I think this way for these positive reasons __________, ___________, __________, _________.”

    Now fill in the blanks please.

  150. Except ID: that’s Science.

    Since there is only one science, that surely follows.

  151. Graham2 is not interested in reasoning.

    re-read the op. :)

  152. BIG QUESTION: Is this: “Therefore we regard the message of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp that is shining in a gloomy place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” – NOT the MOST rational basis for 1. theism in general, 2. Christianity in specific and 3. the actual directed by the Creator METHOD to know their is a God including what God tells us are the reasons (Why, What, Who, and the When) of what is? I say the MOST RATIONAL due to being far far less open to opinion as those evidences offered here are as indicated in the exchanges here. Precise and extensive fulfillment of prophecy can be determined rationally and is even said to be “Infallible Proof” due its shear power to provided to us effective cognitive surety. Exact fulfilled prophecy strongly proves (not just indicates) a Mind “beyond” space and time and one of infinite scope. Here at UD we talk about Functional Specified Complex Directed Information found here in the material world providing “evidence” of Intelligence – Mind – Design: SO – DOES the vast and exact extent of the prophetic execution provides, mathematically speaking, an even greater indication – even PROOF – i.e. NOT debatable? Can anyone do the math and provide a number indicating the amount of Functional Specified Complex Directed Information found in fulfilled prophecy?

    SO the ELEPHANT in this room is:

    New International Version (©1984)
    And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

    New Living Translation (©2007)
    Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place–until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

    Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
    So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

    International Standard Version (©2012)
    Therefore we regard the message of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp that is shining in a gloomy place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

    Paraphrasing: “I tell you things that will come to pass SO THAT you will KNOW” -

  153. Steve: The history of Science is interesting, but not greatly relevant to its current status. Eg: we would have ended up with the periodic table, regardless of our background, because there is only 1 such table. How could we end up with anything else ? Martians (if they exist) also have the identical table. It cant be any other way. If all humanity were erased, and we started evolving again (or were created again, I dont care), we would end up with the same periodic table. It may be printed differently, but it would be identical because it cannot be any other way. If our cultural history is pagan, devout or whatever, we would still end up with the identical periodic table. Ditto for all the rest of Science (QM included).

    However, there are about 3000 gods. If we all started again, we would end up with a (different) 3000 gods. Thats the point. Why only 1 Science, and 3000 gods ? This is the question you (and your ilk) should be asking yourselves.

    Lastly, you use the phrase ‘atheism is true’. Thats not accurate, its like the old saw about not stamp collecting. Atheism is the starting (default) position of not believing anything. From there I will aquire beliefs if justified by the evidence. (Of course Im as capable as anyone else to hold simultaneous crazy ideas). Now, to violate 400 years of spectacularly succesful Science, the evidence has to be equally spectacular. Eg: NDE’s dont cut it, relying on the testimony of someone whose brain is near death would be laughed out of court. Its like relying on the testimony of a drunkard. Similarly ‘miracles’.

    Thats about as clear as I can be. Whether its mataphysical or epistimological, you tell me.

  154. @Kairosfocus

    Reppert: “ . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.”

    This analysis is completely crushing for the idea that a brain can think. I do not see that this is anything other than totally convincing. Physicalism, materialism, naturalism, emergentism or whatever you want to call it, is now dead. Good riddance! Matter cannot think. Period.

    If there is still any doubt left I would like to hear about it.
    Thank you very much Kairofocus!

  155. Therefore we regard the message of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp that is shining in a gloomy place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

    Sounds too much like preterism for my tastes.

  156. G2 – the point about 3000 Gods seems significant to you. I’m not at all sure I follow.

    Are you implying that none could be true because there are multiple? How does that follow logically?

    I also don’t really understand your point about science drawing religion into question? What are you attempting to establish there? Science is the systematic approaching to establishing knowledge about the world around us. True, science has made progress in understanding the world around us. [I'm not sure how 'success' can be gauged in this context. In 1900 science was succesful because they knew more than 1800, same in 1900, same in 2000 vs 1900, and will be true in 2100 vs 2000. How is success defined in that context? Gaining knowledge over the passage of time, explaining some benchmark percentage of the world around us (how would we measure that), other?]

    Are you implying scientific principles somehow contradict or draw the existence of God into question? You’ll have to back that up, because I have quite the opposite view. From the majesty of the cosmos to the complexity of the tiniest cell to the order of nature, in my view science is a testament to God. Do you disagree?

    Finally, I believe agnosticism is the default starting point for any inquiry – I’m not sure whether there is a God or not so therefore I will considering any evidence objectively. Neither theism or atheism are default positions of not believing anything – both have associated presuppositions and assumptions.

  157. ecs2: 3000 gods (or whatever). Why so many ? If the validity of 1 was obvious, why a 2nd, 3rd etc ? The point of only 1 Science is that any attempt to establish a 2nd Science is immediately weeded out by testing/evidence. Eg: cold fusion died because it didnt stand up to scrutiny, so we are back to 1 Science. But its not possible to test the validity of gods. If you believe the Polynesian Octopus god created all life on earth, how is this any different to believing any other god did it ? There is no evidence available to distinguish them.

    That Science challenges religion is obvious, I would have thought. See Evolution.

    Regarding the majesty of the cosmos. Yes, I feel it too, but why is it necessary to attribute it to god ? Maybe its something we generate internally ?

  158. Your definition:

    Strong atheism is the belief that no god or gods exist at all.

    (my emphasis) Followed by:

    Strong atheism is defined as the assertion that no god or gods exist whatsoever.

    and:

    Strong atheism is a sweeping, categorical assertion that something does not exist.

    Such assertions are tantamount to a claim that (s)he knows that there are no gods. However, “I know there are no gods” is not the same as “I believe there are no gods”.
    You seem to have accidentally dropped the original definition in favor of statements which are far more difficult to support and easily refuted. There should be a name for such accidents. Fortunately, you managed to revert to the original definition when you concluded that you had defeated strong atheism rather than one particularly arrogant version of it. (cue obvious jokes)

    Also I think you may have accidentally erred on the weak atheist’s view. It’s not that (s)he knows there is no evidence for gods, merely that no evidence has been presented to him/her which (s)he finds sufficiently convincing. Most of the evidences in your list strike me as evidence that people believe in gods and are prepared to jump through hoops to justify that – not that the gods themselves are real.

  159. EC: Not if your start-point is living encounter with God, individually or as community. Through such living encounters I have no doubt that my mom is no zombie automaton for instance. Part of the rise of widespread skepticism, is that it tends to suppress the most direct reason to believe in God of all, encounter — even in cases where such leads to life transforming experiences, which has been so for millions. Quite literally. For instance, apart from such encounter for my mom and myself some 40 years ago, I would simply not be alive. And such encounter, in the end is at least as convincing as any experience of the world based knowledge claim can be. This, BTW, is one reason why there are a lot of people who look at the sort of debates that go on on the Internet and shake their heads. To such, the problem is not intellectual difficulties but willful shutting the eye and ear to an overwhelming cataract of evidence all around us. KF

  160. SH: Belief in atheistical, scientism-based evolutionary materialist views as strong as we are talking of is closely tied to confident assertions, which are often expressed — whether adequately warranted is another issue — as knowledge claims. KF

  161. G2 -

    Can we pull that string a little further? What about evolution challenges religion?

    I know several proponents of theistic evolution and I believe there are a number of religious denominations, including Catholicism, which have expressed they do not see conflict between evolution and religion.

    What is the specific conflict between religion and evolution?

  162. ecs2: I believe there are a number of religious denominations…

    Thats what I mean by 3000 gods.

    Is Genesis literal or not ? Pretty basic stuff, but the religious just dont seem to be able to make up their minds. I presume that the denizens of this blog believe in creation, no, thats what this site is devoted to, ridding the world of Evolution.

  163. Graham2 @ 150:

    “we would have ended up with the periodic table, regardless of our background, because there is only 1 such table”

    Yes, *if* we ended up with the periodic table, it would have been the same as the one we have now, *BUT* you overlook the point that Steve Gann and I are making, which is that if it weren’t for Christianity, the human race might never have discovered the periodic table at all. The modern scientific enterprise which discovered it arose in a Christian culture, not a Hindu or Chinese or Mayan or even Islamic one. And that Christian culture believed in a “disembodied intelligence” called God. The question that you don’t want to ask — because it upsets your comfortable secularist world view — is whether belief in a “disembodied intelligence” who creates the laws of nature was necessary in order for modern science to come into being at all. Serious historians of science wrestle with this question. It appears you haven’t read any of them.

    You also wrote, in 154:

    “That Science challenges religion is obvious, I would have thought. See Evolution.”

    No, it’s not obvious. It was “obvious” to the vulgar middle-class daily newspaper readers in the Anglo-Saxon world from maybe about 1850 to about 1950, since they were fed an ignorant version of the history of science based on misinformation about Darwin, Galileo, etc. But since the 1930s at least science historiography is greatly improved, and very few historians of science hold seriously to the “warfare” thesis any longer.

    Of course, in many Anglo-Saxon philosophy departments, you still have a predominance of Brit-spawned analytic philosophy, and a programmatic hatred of religion and worship of science that dates back to Ayer’s *Language, Truth, and Logic*. But the historians understand the real score far better than the philosophers, because the historians have actually read the relevant historical texts. The analytic philosophers are too busy bowing and scraping and bestowing osculatory gestures upon the posteriors of scientists to take the time to read any of those texts.

    “Evolution” per se does not challenge religion; many of Darwin’s early supporters were Anglican clerics, for example. And Michael Behe is an evolutionist and devout Roman Catholic, to name just one of millions of people like that. Certain *interpretations* of evolution challenge certain *versions* of religion, but that is not “Science” (with a capital S) versus “Religion” (with a capital R). The “warfare thesis” you are endorsing is simply untenable in modern discussions. No serious thinker holds to it any more. Your thought is decades out of date.

  164. Mung re. preterism;
    no, no, no – Old Testament to Christ, with no need to figure in post 33 AD – last days which have their own if known.
    STILL – OT to Christ – if known – the vehicle to the most rational basis for Theism, not just Jesus. Still the most Functional, Specified, Complex Information in the universe we are aware of and having no need for a search extending to multiverses.

  165. Your references to 1 science are fascinating. I haven’t heard that particular argument before.

    I’m also not sure I entirely understand what you mean.

    When I read scientific journals, I often find conflicting view points there. A point, counter-point is a common feature within academic journals, comparing and contrasting viewpoints on a given topic. So disagreement within the scientific community with at least two predominant opinions is very common.

    However, if I canvassed scientific literature across all disciplines, counting each variant, however minor, of scientific theory as a separate competing version of science, than in the end I would have many, many more than 3000 views on science.

    When you say there is 1 science, you are saying 1 is true (the real story) and the remainder stem from the error or bias in measuring, evaluating, and defining the world around us.

    If one of these religions is true, and thus all 3000 (or however many) variants of that are some derivative (be they partially true or completely untrue) stemming from human perceptions, biases, or errors, is that not similar to the 1 science.

    What distinction are you drawing between these?

  166. 166
    Kantian Naturalist

    There have been several quite interesting responses to my initial foray into this question; I shall attempt to deal with all in turn.

    In re: JDH at 131,

    It is easy to come up with a natural model for simple stimulus and response. I believe this is part of the natural world. But God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Man has a mind capable of going beyond stimulus and response. Man is able to make arbitrary decisions not based stimulus and response, but by weighing two abstract ideas. This type of decisions by its very nature can not be an extension of stimulus, response.

    I certainly agree with Plato that we do need a theory of what concepts are, and that adequately distinguishes concepts from objects. But I don’t think that we need endorse Plato’s own theory of concepts to do so.

    Now, it bears emphasis that naturalism and nominalism are quite different views — one can be a nominalist without being a naturalist, but also one can be a naturalist without being a nominalist. I have a moderate commitment to naturalism and a weak commitment to nominalism.

    On my view, what it is to grasp a concept is pretty much just to have mastered a word, and to invent a new concept is to use an old word in a new way, and occasionally, to introduce a new word, along with guidelines for its use. Socrates and Euthyphro are arguing about the nature of piety, but the background of that discussion is that ancient Greek had different contexts for specifying the use of “piety” (eusebia). Euthyphro believes that he is in possession of the correct knowledge of piety — he believes that he can correctly prioritize between the different uses.

    Most of the time, we don’t notice the divergences between our uses; they are few and far between. Having learned the same language, we follow the same rules for using words. And I think that the concept pretty much just is the rules for using a word. (Note: I don’t identify the concept with the word itself, but with the rules for using it.)

    In re: vjtorley @ 135:

    Your account explains why the brain is likely to be good at pattern matching, especially in cases where this is conducive to survival. However, much of our reasoning is carried out at a higher level: that of critical evaluation – your own post being a perfect example. When we critically evaluate a hypothesis, or discuss the theoretical merits of one hypothesis as opposed to another, what is at issue is mot the pattern in Nature that needs to be explained, but the nature of a good explanation. (Consider the dispute as to whether the multiverse is a good hypothesis.)

    Actually, I mostly agree with this, but with my own distinctive caveats. What animals do in representing their environments is different in kind from what we do. (At one level of analysis, anyway — though differences of kind at one level of description can be differences in degree at another level.)

    That difference in kind is captured in the idea of normativity: that we not only have actions and beliefs but can evaluate our actions and beliefs. So the question is, is the fact of normativity consistent with naturalism? I believe it is, because I think that normativity pretty much just is language, culture, institutions — in a word, sociality, or what Hegel called Spirit or Geist. There are enough manifestations of “proto-normativity” in the behavior of large-brained social animals (primates, elephants, cetaceans) that I don’t see the emergence of normativity as a deal-breaker for naturalism, though I quite agree that normativity is the problem for naturalism — even more so than consciousness. (If consciousness is “the hard problem,” then normativity is “the really hard problem”.) The reason I’m confident it can be solved is because of the ground-breaking work already done by John Dewey, Wilfrid Sellars and (esp.) Robert Brandom.

    In re: bornagain @ 139:

    Well that puts you in quite the evidential dilemma doesn’t it KN?, you deny the reality of mind, and now, apparently in your denial of ‘humans as Turing machines’, you deny any basis in reality altogether as to where thoughts can possibly proceed from. Pray tell, just what is generating your thoughts if it is not your brain, which has more switches than all the computers on earth, or your mind which originated from the breath of God?

    I think it’s a mistake — what Ryle called a “category mistake” — to say that “the brain thinks”. The brain does not think any more than the eye sees. It is I, the rational animal or embodied human person that I am, that thinks, and my brain plays a crucial role in how thinking happens — just it is not the eyes that see, but that I see with my eyes (and contact lenses). I do not think that a disembodied brain in a vat would do much, if any, thinking at all — certainly nothing that we would ordinarily call thinking.

    In re: StephenB @ 142: I agree with everything you say there. Not that I’m surprised at that; I actually think that Scholastic realism and pragmatism are closely aligned. The important thing is to reject the solipsistic starting-point for epistemology; the ego-centric predicament is a trap. I suspect that the main thing we really disagree about, philosophically, is whether the intellect is natural.

  167. alan:

    no, no, no – Old Testament to Christ, with no need to figure in post 33 AD – last days which have their own if known.

    So there is the “last days” of the old testament and the “last days” of the new testament and never the twain shall meet?

  168. Graham2 probably doesn’t think mathematics is a science.

    Or that some sciences are mathematical and others are not.

    That there is only one table of the elements sounds like a statement of faith.

    Graham2 has no reason for the periodic table, much less that there is only one periodic table, or that it was even discoverable by human reasoning.

    It just happened, that’s all, hardly qualifies as scientific, does it?

  169. Kairofocus – I quite agree with #156.

    Early in my academic study and especially during graduate school I worked from a subconscious assumption that only provable conclusions were valid.

    However, I realized I was living a half-life by choice.

    Even as a PhD scientist, I realized that while empirical or scientific evidence are essential to the scientific process, that does not discount experiential intuition as a human being.

    A book I read early in the period where I was seriously seeking was “The Intellectuals Speak Out on God”. I was surprised by how many eminent scientists were religious and further cited science as a supporting element of their faith.

    Science is not in conflict with religion. Some scientists may be, but science itself is not.

  170. KN:

    Now, it bears emphasis that naturalism and nominalism are quite different views — one can be a nominalist without being a naturalist, but also one can be a naturalist without being a nominalist. I have a moderate commitment to naturalism and a weak commitment to nominalism.

    How so!?

    How one could study nature and be a nominalist is beyond me, hehe.

    Forgive my equivocating over the word naturalist. :)

    Can one be a nominalist coherently?

  171. Timaeus @ 160: Whether Science would have arisen in a non-christian culture is an interesting question, but not greatly relevant. Perhaps it wouldnt, perhaps it would but later, or even earlier. I dont really care. Its interesting, but the fact is that we are now off and running. The truth of (say) the periodic table is unaffected. Its been tested and its the right one. If it would not have happened for another 100 years, save for our Christian heritage, then hooray, but its here now. You seem to be obsessed with the history of the subject, like others here who nit pick over whether Darwin beat his wife. Its not important (to the Science). get over it.

    That Science challenges religion is amply demonstrated by the very conversation we are having now, in this very blog. UncommonDescent is devoted to discrediting Evolution because it challenges their world view. Evolution is one story, genesis is a totally different one. They conflict. They both cant be right. Its not just Evolution of course, but that is the hot issue here.

  172. To Mung @ 165: I am too busy for much more of this, but you sucked me in.

    one table of the elements sounds like a statement of faith

    No, no, no. You dont get it at all. The table is exactly NOT a matter of faith. Thats EXACTLY what it is NOT. Its the result of years of observation, trial+error. Its the best fit on what we see in the real world. Yes, there may be other tables. Yes, carbon may spntaneously change to something else on Thursday, but we havent observed it, so we dont record it.

    The periodic table (Im using it as a metaphor for Science) is our best guess. In fact, we know its not complete. The bottom edge is ragged because the very heavy elements are so short lived, its as far as we have got. Presumably it extends further down.
    The point is, it matches reality, so we use it. If someone can provide a better table, one that is a better match on reality, it will be eagerly adopted, but so far the table we have is our best bet.

  173. Mung 164: You are way too smart to not just be playing with this unless I’ve been unclear. The OT prophecies concerning His incarnation and all He would do and why and when are sufficient to indicate “infinite mathematical proof” thus a rational basis for not just Christ, but as a rational foundation for theism generally.

    I know you like to stretch ideas, but here its not worth your time so to speak when a much bigger picture is being presented.

    and…”the twain shall never meet” ? Do chapters of books never “meet” – 33 or even 70 AD are not the end of the story of this world…

  174. 174
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: William Murray @ 133:

    If brains by nature “reliably detect real patterns in the world”, and all such thoughts and assertions and conclusions are rational, then both the atheistic materialist and the kantian naturalist and the spiritual theist have rationally detected real patterns and have come to equally rational conclusions from them. Thus, you are arguing for no significant reason here.

    I like this line of criticism a lot, and it helps me re-formulate my view somewhat.

    I didn’t mean to say that all of our thoughts are correct by virtue of how brains work (or tend to work).

    For one thing, brains are notoriously imperfect. Which is fine, since they only have to work pretty well, most of the time. I only said that in order to undermine the worry about global skepticism.

    For another thing, not all of our reliable pattern-detection amounts to rational thought; it’s that I see reliable pattern-detection as the ‘ground’ (so to speak) of rational thought.

    Now, it’s quite correct that thought, to be genuinely rational, requires some kind of external constraint. And there are kinds of external constraints: rational external constraints and causal external constraints. That the source of causal external constraints is the world is, I would assume, obvious to everyone except idealists. So then the question is, what’s the source of external rational constraint?

    In my view, external rational constraint is provided by the community of language-speakers. The correctness of my thoughts has two different grounds: whether they are the results of the right kinds of causal connections within my brain and between my brain and the objects and events in the world, and whether they conform to the shared norms of my linguistic community. That’s why it makes sense to me for me to be arguing here with you all; we’re all playing the same game of giving and asking for reasons.

    If I really wanted to be provocative — and rest assured, I do! — I’d call my view “rational naturalism.” And this is, perhaps, really the interesting thing — to me — about how naturalism stands in the history of philosophy.

    Ever since Plato got the ball rolling, philosophers have held that perception and intellect are basically the same kind of thing — just as there are perceptible objects detected by our perceptual abilities, so too there are intelligible objects detected by our intellectual abilities. You and I stand in a certain relation to the physical object, the tree, and so we both perceive the tree. Likewise, you and I are both thinking about circles, and so we both ‘perceive,’ intellectually, the circle, or circularity, etc.

    But here’s the alternative, as I see it: to think of the ground of intellect as being fundamentally social or socio-linguistic in character. Whether this yields relativism is an interesting question. I do not think it does, because I think that any community, in order to function as a community at all, must have shared norms of some sort — and that yields external rational constraint, or objectivity. It does not yield a transcendent source for absolute certainty, and some might be made anxious by that, though the abandonment of the quest for certainty doesn’t faze me.

    So, two kinds of external constraint: causal constraint on embodied perception, and rational constraint on embodied thought; the former constraint grounded in the physical environment, the latter constraint grounded in the social environment.

    This is a great view! What’s not to like about this?

  175. Graham2:

    I would rather place my ‘faith’ in Evolution than an invisible friend in the sky.

    I believe you. I don’t doubt at all that your faith that god doesn’t exist is based on your druthers.

    It certainly doesn’t appear to be based on any warrant.

  176. Graham2:

    You said, “Atheism is the starting (default) position of not believing anything. From there I will aquire beliefs if justified by the evidence.”

    Acquiring beliefs trough evidence is an epistemological position. You do have one after all! Since you used the word “justified” you will have to explain what that entails. What system do you use to tell if evidence is “good” (quoted from our original posts)?

    For instance, do you allow that miracles could possibly happen?

  177. 177
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Mung @ 167:

    Nominalism could be construed in two different ways: as denying that there are generals (but only particulars) or as denying that there are abstracta but only concreta. Or one might take the view that there are only concrete particulars, which is in fact my view.

    Or more precisely, I think that generals and abstracta play a fundamentally important role in structuring our thought and discourse about the world, but that not all of our thought and discourse about the world really “makes contact” with the world of concrete particulars. Our thought and discourse is “polydimensional”: there are multiple dimensions of discourse, such as the mathematical, the empirical-scientific, the artistic, the moral, the modal, the semantic, and the philosophical. (The job of philosophical discourse is to understand how all the rest are connected to each other and to the world.)

    Now, let me call “picturing” that causally-grounded relation between cognitive processes and the concrete particulars, the processes, which obtain in the world. An animal, such as one of my dogs, only pictures: she reliably detects patterns amongst the objects and relations that are motivationally salient to her.

    The thought now is this: while the conceptual scheme of an animal mind can only picture, the conceptual scheme of normal mature human minds not only pictures but also contains numerous other dimensions as well. And there are linkages — rational, i.e. inferential linkages — between these dimensions. But only one dimension of discourse pictures, and that is empirical discourse: the discourse pertaining to concrete, particular objects in Space and Time as we perceive them and manipulate them with our bodies and machines.

  178. Graham2:

    You said: “The point is, it matches reality, so we use it. If someone can provide a better table, one that is a better match on reality, it will be eagerly adopted, but so far the table we have is our best bet.”

    That takes the position that Truth can be determined by how well a proposition corresponds to reality. This is a position that needs to be defended.

    One reason why is you have used the word “reality”. What makes reality behave in such a way that you think one can correspond ideas to it? Do you believe it is orderly and uniform? If so, did you arrive at those beliefs by evidence as well?

  179. KN @163

    As far as I’m concerned you are building castles in the sky with your empty sophistry when you do not honestly engage the empirical evidence such as I presented. Like I said before, with your rejection of mind and with your rejection of reductive materialism you have even less evidence for your ‘naturalistic’ worldview than the neo-Darwinists does for his worldview (which is non-existent). And no amount of word play from you will vanquish the absolute empirical poverty you wallow in. In regards to the OP I hold you to be a picture perfect definition of intellectual dishonesty! I’m quite sure you probably believe or at least wish what you write is true, but I can also see how ‘philosophers’ like you, in contrast to the other philosophers on UD who take empirical evidence very seriously, have tarnished the image of philosophy so badly that now many people of the general public view philosophy as completely disconnected from reality!

  180. Graham2 wrote:

    “The truth of (say) the periodic table is unaffected. Its [sic] been tested and its [sic] the right one.”

    So what? Not a single ID proponent has challenged the validity of the periodic table. Nor, for that matter, has the most narrow-minded creationist.

    Nor does the truth of the periodic table have anything to do with the “preposterousness” of a “disembodied intelligence.” I am trying to get you to focus on your claim about the conflict between science and a disembodied intelligence. But either are you willfully avoiding my points, or you don’t grasp them. I suspect it’s the former, but just in case it’s the latter, and you need extra help:

    NEWTON BELIEVED IN A DISEMBODIED INTELLIGENCE. HE GAVE US NEWTONIAN PHYSICS.

    BOYLE BELIEVED IN A DISEMBODIED INTELLIGENCE. HE GAVE US THE FOUNDATIONS OF CHEMISTRY.

    KEPLER BELIEVED IN A DISEMBODIED INTELLIGENCE. GALILEO BELIEVED IN A DISEMBODIED INTELLIGENCE. JAMES CLERK-MAXWELL BELIEVED IN A DISEMBODIED INTELLIGENCE.

    Are you starting to get the picture? Men who contributed far more to science than you will ever contribute in your lifetime, men whose intellect, knowledge, creativity and influence upon the human race utterly dwarf your own, believed in a disembodied intelligence. And they did not think that belief in such a disembodied intelligence was in conflict with “science.”

    Is that clear enough for you? Are you beginning to see the problem with your assertion?

    You also wrote:

    “If it would not have happened for another 100 years, save for our Christian heritage, then hooray, but its here now.”

    You miss the point. My point was not that Christianity *sped up* the birth of modern science, so that it happened some years sooner than it otherwise would have. My point is that MODERN SCIENCE MIGHT NOT HAVE HAPPENED, *EVER*, IF IT WEREN’T FOR CHRISTIANITY, BECAUSE CHRISTIANITY CONTAINS CERTAIN KEY ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT NATURE WITHOUT WHICH THERE CAN BE NO NATURAL SCIENCE, AND (ARGUABLY) NO OTHER RELIGIOUS TRADITION CONTAINS THOSE ASSUMPTIONS. Can you see the difference? And if the upper-case hypothesis turns out to be correct, your idea that a “disembodied intelligence” is “contrary to science” would be completely false. In fact, belief in that “disembodied intelligence” would REMAIN the implicit assumption of all valid science, even if scientists aren’t *consciously* aware of the debt they owe to the notion. Thus, a Buddhist or atheist, in doing science, would be leaning on the Christian understanding of nature without even being aware of it. That’s what you’re not seeing, and won’t see, until you start reading good books and articles on the history and metaphysical foundations of science.

  181. Steve @ 175: Statements like that worry me. Look out the window … thats reality. If you combine elements in certain proprtions, you get a certain result. Thats reality.

    Will it always happen that way ? Who knows ? Reality has been well behaved for a long time now, so the assumption of regularity has served us well. If you have some better idea, then let us know.

  182. “Uncommon Descent is devoted to discrediting Evolution because it challenges their [sic] world view.”

    Really, Graham2? Then how do you explain that Uncommon Descent has over the course of its existence featured a number of columnists who have explicitly or indirectly affirmed belief in evolution, including:

    nullasalus, Denyse O’Leary, Vincent Torley, Thomas Cudworth, Michael Behe, Dave Scot, Steve Fuller, Gregory

    – and that it regularly publishes comments by Christian believers in evolution such as StephenB and Jon Garvey?

    Does that sound to you like a site that is adamantly opposed to “evolution”?

    I think that if you look carefully, you will see that, despite its name, UD actually takes the standard ID position against *Darwinian* evolution. But Darwinian evolution is only one type of evolution. I suggest you learn to discriminate between the generic term “evolution” and the particular versions of evolution, before you make any further comments about what the ID or UD position on evolution is.

  183. Timeaus: I know great scientists believed in god, etc. I dont need to be lectured about it. But if you read a physics text, there is no mention of god. Newton may have believed in pixies (or not). So what ? The expression F=Ma remains as true despite his beliefs. And if Newton didnt believe anything, he may have never have bequeathed us this piece of knowledge. I rather doubt this, but again, so what ? It doesnt affect the nature or truth of the expression F=Ma.

    And why just the Christian religion ? The Muslims did pretty well, for a while.

    As for the disembodied thingy, this is not supported by any known Science. There is simply nothing in Physics, etc, that can possible support this idea. Where does it reside ? Does it have mass ? Can we ever see it ? Is it affected by magnetism ?

    All these questions are simply absurd, because the mind/soul/god/whatever is simply undefined. Its like talking about Santa Clause: Science simply has nothing that can support it.

    A question for you: Does our mind die when our body dies ? More to the point, can you justify your answer ?

  184. Graham2: I’m glad it worries you because the discussion of whether or not reality is knowable has been a big topic for a few centuries.

    I think I have made my point to you and any onlookers. If you don’t get it by now then let me spell it out for you. Then I am done.

    Atheism is not your default position.

    That there is a reality and that it is knowable.
    That there is this thing called Truth which is testable by correspondence to reality.
    That nature is regular (which you admitted you assume).

    These are your default positions. These are the things you have to presuppose in order to test evidence and see if it is “good”. Your Atheism is a result of these prior commitments. That was the point of Mr. Murray’s post. You have to make a positive case for each of these foundational ideas. To deny otherwise is to just stick your head in the sand.

    Thank you for the discussion.

  185. Graham2:

    Genesis (which should be spelled with a capital letter) only “conflicts” with “evolution” if Genesis is read in a certain way. But there are many different Christian (and Jewish) readings of Genesis. Vincent Torley is not Ken Ham, and Michael Behe is not Henry Morris.

    You don’t seem to have read very widely in these debates, because the sweeping generalizations you make suggest someone who has only a glancing acquaintance of the various positions. You would be more successful in debate if you would first familiarize yourself with the positions you are arguing about. And you should perhaps be aware that many of the people posting regularly here on these subjects have been studying them for 10 or 20 years or more, and that many of them have advanced degrees in the natural sciences, philosophy, theology, and history of science. In such an environment, a barroom-style of argument, where one makes up the argument as one goes along, is not likely to be successful. There is no substitute for doing one’s homework in this particular “classroom.”

  186. Perhaps Graham2 can come up with 10 arguments in favor of atheism.

    The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology

    Introduction ix
    William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland

    1 The project of natural theology 1
    Charles Taliaferro

    2 The Leibnizian cosmological argument 24
    Alexander R. Pruss

    3 The kalam cosmological argument 101
    William Lane Craig and James D. Sinclair

    4 The teleological argument: an exploration of the fine-tuning of the universe 202
    Robin Collins

    5 The argument from consciousness 282
    J. P. Moreland

    6 The argument from reason 344
    Victor Reppert

    7 The moral argument 391
    Mark D. Linville

    8 The argument from evil 449
    Stewart Goetz

    9 The argument from religious experience 498
    Kai-Man Kwan

    10 The ontological argument 553
    Robert E. Maydole

    11 The argument from miracles: a cumulative case for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth 593
    Timothy McGrew and Lydia McGrew

  187. G2 – You are brave but not well informed.

    There are most certainly literal interpretations of Genesis that are compatible with evolution. The day-age interpretation is one. There are others. Look into it.

  188. The point being, Graham2, that in order to argue against theism you have to make certain assumptions, all of which you are not entitled to make without making a rational argument for them. Unless you’re irrational.

    Good luck.

  189. Is Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

    Sure, if you’re willing to give up atheism.

  190. Timeaus @ 182: there are many different … readings of Genesis

    Incredible. Yes, I agree I am no theologian, but how can it possibly be taken seriously when your foundational text cannot even get the most basic idea right ? Is the bible to be read literally or not ? It pretty basic, isnt it ? The great creator hasnt even mastered English Expression 101. I would have some smidgin of respect for this stuff if the first chapter of the book could even be read.

    Even IKEA does better than that.

  191. Timeaus: Could you answer my question about the mind @ 180. ? I am most curious.

  192. Graham2:

    You continue to miss the point.

    You say that God does not appear in physics books, and that F = ma remains true no matter what a scientist’s religious belief. I grant all this. Nobody here has denied it. No ID person in the world denies it. But the fact that we live in the kind of universe for which we should expect things such as F = ma to be true, and can count on uncovering other such relationships through research, raises questions: Why is the universe seemingly law-bound? And why do the laws take a mathematical (rational) form? And why do there exist beings (human beings) capable of discovering these mathematical laws? You don’t appear to have given such questions even a moment’s thought.

    But never mind that. Go back to your original claim. Your claim was that belief in a disembodied intellect went against “science.” Your claim was that such a notion was “preposterous.” If you are now modifying that claim, if you are now admitting that belief in a disembodied intelligence is neither preposterous nor against science, and if you are lowering your claim to the claim that “scientists don’t appeal to miraculous interventions of disembodied intelligences to explain natural phenomena,” then you will find agreement with a good number of ID proponents. But that wasn’t your original claim.

    Your original claim, put crudely, was that only a dummy or an ignoramus could today still believe in a disembodied intelligence, because science has made such a belief impossible. And that claim was false, (a) because science, per se, has no power to refute the existence of such an entity, (b) because many who are far from scientifically ignorant, and who in fact know the results of modern science both in detail and in general outline far better than you do, accept the existence of disembodied intelligences, and (c) because — at least if a certain historical/philosophical analysis is correct — science depends upon an empiricism which depends upon certain features of Christian theology, making the existence of “disembodied intelligence” not only not “against science” but in fact the very presupposition of all science.

    I conclude that your claim — as originally stated — has been adequately refuted. And if I am right in supposing that you are now modifying that claim as I have suggested, I conclude that your modified claim is trivial, since everyone (ID people included) acknowledges that the normal practice of scientists is not to appeal to supernatural interventions. And in any case, nothing in ID *requires* supernatural interventions (though ID is compatible with them — but that’s a different thing).

  193. Timeaus: I think we have done this to death. If you think Science rests on Christian theology, so be it.

    Im still interested in an answer to my question about the mind though. Could you indulge me ?

  194. Graham in 180 you state:

    “As for the disembodied thingy, this is not supported by any known Science. There is simply nothing in Physics, etc, that can possible support this idea.”

    Well perhaps you should add physics to the list of things you need to study:

    the argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Three intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

  195. Graham2:

    Your comments about the Bible in 187 are blather. Genesis 1 can’t be measured by “English Expression” because it was written in Hebrew. (And someone who hasn’t mastered apostrophe and capitalization rules is in an awkward position to lecture anyone on English expression in the first place.)

    Further, Genesis 1 does not claim to have been written by the Creator. Others have made that claim for it, but the text itself is silent about who wrote it.

    Next, Genesis 1 is readable, and more than readable; it is an extremely well-constructed text. Any good book-length commentary can explain why. I would guess that by “unreadable” you mean “makes no sense as an explanation of the kind offered by modern science” — which is true; it makes no sense of that kind. But the logical conclusion is not necessarily that Genesis is confused or bad science; one logical conclusion is that Genesis is trying to do something other than science. And this is the view of the world’s leading Biblical scholars.

    Finally, to ask whether Genesis is meant to be understood literally, before *first* understanding its literary structure, is to put the cart before the horse. Until you see the plan of the chapter, questions about historicity are premature and can be seriously misleading.

    (And of course, the question arises why you are talking about Genesis in the first place, when ID people have repeatedly shouted themselves hoarse in declaring that their arguments are not based on Genesis. Obviously you equate ID with creationism. This raises the question whether you have even the most elementary reading comprehension skills, since ID people have told you that ID is not creationism and have explained in great detail why. You can consult the FAQ here or you can read any number of articles on the Discovery site if you cannot yet grasp the difference.)

  196. 196
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: bornagain77 @ 176:

    I’m sorry to hear you feel that way. And we were getting along so well.

  197. Graham2:

    I’ll answer your question about mind when you do the following things:

    1. Withdraw your claim that *modern science* has made belief in a disembodied intelligence no longer credible (I’m not asking you endorse the existence of disembodied intelligence, but only to admit that modern science has not falsified or even seriously diminished the possibility of such an entity);

    2. Give me a full list of the books and articles by ID proponents (Nelson, Behe, Wells, Dembski, Meyer, Denton, Axe, Gauger, Minnich, Sternberg, etc.) that you have read entirely through.

    3. Give me a full list of your university and college degrees (you don’t have to name the schools, just the degrees), specifying subjects as clearly as possible.

    Otherwise, you’ll never hear my views on the subject you’ve asked about.

  198. Timeaus: Perhaps you would like my social security number as well. I dont respond well to demands.

    Modern Science hasnt falsified gods, because it cannot. It simply has not, in many years of investigation, provided evidence for the supernatural. Thats why the supernatural plays no part in how Science is applied. Do we pray that a bridge stays up ? No. We trust the engineer.

  199. @Graham2:

    “A question for you: Does our mind die when our body dies?”

    This may be of interest to you, or it may not. Dr Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, stated the following in a Q&A:

    “One thing that we will have to let go of is this kind of addiction to simplistic, primitive reductive materialism because there’s really no way that I can see a reductive materialist model coming remotely in the right ballpark to explain what we really know about consciousness now.

    Coming from a neurosurgeon who, before my coma, thought I was quite certain how the brain and the mind interacted and it was clear to me that there were many things I could do or see done on my patients and it would eliminate consciousness. It was very clear in that realm that the brain gives you consciousness and everything else and when the brain dies there goes consciousness, soul, mind—it’s all gone. And it was clear.

    Now, having been through my coma, I can tell you that’s exactly wrong and that in fact the mind and consciousness are independent of the brain. It’s very hard to explain that, certainly if you’re limiting yourself to that reductive materialist view.”

    Dr Eben Alexander’s experience is not so easily dismissed and I for one, would certainly not consider it “hopeless”.

  200. 200

    Hi! First time caller here. So, help me out: how do IDers make the leap from “there might be an intelligent creator” to “the intelligent creator is the Abrahamic God specifically”?

    UD Editors: They don’t.

  201. 201

    KN said:

    For one thing, brains are notoriously imperfect.”

    And yet, brain (not “your” brain, because that would imply a false separation, as if there is another player involved) issues forth this statement with such certainty, not cognizant of the self-defeating nature of the claim.

    KN said:

    I didn’t mean to say that all of our thoughts are correct by virtue of how brains work (or tend to work.

    So, without the schizophrenic reference to non-existent commodities (a separate “I” and a separate means of evaluation), you are saying: “Flawed brain is going to use flawed brain to assess the quality of flawed brain’s output.”

    Good luck with that self-defeating position.

  202. What a tool.

    Modern Science hasnt falsified gods, because it cannot.

    Why can’t science falsify gods? It cannot even falsify natural gods?

    Why can’t science at least make their existence less likely?

    It [science] simply has not, in many years of investigation, provided evidence for the supernatural.

    So what? Maybe it is incapable of doing so. Maybe it can no more provide evidence for the supernatural than it can falsify gods.

    It [science] simply has not, in many years of investigation, provided evidence for the supernatural.

    How do you know?

    And what has science told us about gods which are not supernatural?

    Thats why the supernatural plays no part in how Science is applied.

    Huh? Science has no evidence for it so it plays no role in how science is done? That doesn’t even make sense.

    For many many years there was no evidence that the universe had a beginning, yet that didn’t affect how science was done. Or did it?

  203. G2 this statement is simply outlandish:

    “It (modern science) simply has not, in many years of investigation, provided evidence for the supernatural.”

    Quantum Evidence for a Theistic Universe

    “Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting.”
    – Ernest Rutherford

    From the best scientific evidence we now have, from multiple intersecting lines of evidence, we now have very good reason to believe that the entire universe came instantaneously into origination at the Big Bang. Not only was all mass-energy brought into being, but space-time itself was also instantaneously brought into being at the Big Bang!!!

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970

    “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” – (Paper announced at Hawking’s 70th birthday party)
    Cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston – January 2012
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....beginning/

    Thus it logically follows that whatever brought the universe into being had to be transcendent of space-time, mass-energy. Yet the only thing that we know of that is completely transcendent of space-time, matter-energy is information. Thus the question becomes did information bring space-time, mass-energy into being?,,, simple enough question, but how do we prove it? It turns out that quantum teleportation breakthroughs have shed light directly on this question!,,, Here are a few experiments establishing the ‘beyond space and time’ ‘information theoretic’ origin, and sustaining, of this universe,;

    Quantum Mechanics has now been extended by Anton Zeilinger, and team, to falsify local realism (reductive materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it. i.e. one must now appeal to a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause to explain the continued existence of photons within space-time:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    The following experiments demonstrate that energy and mass reduce to quantum information;

    How Teleportation Will Work -
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.
    http://science.howstuffworks.c.....ation1.htm

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....portation/

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    ,,,The following articles show that even atoms are subject to ‘instantaneous’ teleportation:,,,

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    ,,,These following experiments show that the teleportation of information is indeed ‘instantaneous’, thus demonstrating transcendence, and even dominion, of space and time;,,,

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

    Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves – April 2011
    Excerpt: In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.
    http://www.popsci.com/technolo.....-computing

  204. Here is another experiment which demonstrated quantum information’s dominion over space and time (specifically time);

    Physicists describe method to observe timelike entanglement – January 2011
    Excerpt: In “ordinary” quantum entanglement, two particles possess properties that are inherently linked with each other, even though the particles may be spatially separated by a large distance. Now, physicists S. Jay Olson and Timothy C. Ralph from the University of Queensland have shown that it’s possible to create entanglement between regions of spacetime that are separated in time but not in space, and then to convert the timelike entanglement into normal spacelike entanglement. They also discuss the possibility of using this timelike entanglement from the quantum vacuum for a process they call “teleportation in time.” “To me, the exciting aspect of this result (that entanglement exists between the future and past) is that it is quite a general property of nature and opens the door to new creativity, since we know that entanglement can be viewed as a resource for quantum technology,” Olson told PhysOrg.com.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ement.html

    and this experiment:

    Here’s a variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which highlights quantum information’s transcendence of time so as to effect ‘spooky action into the past’;

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    ,,,Whereas these following experiment gives strong indication that that quantum information is ‘conserved’,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    ,,,Moreover, the quantum wave state (superposition), which is defined as a infinite dimensional state, and which can theoretically be encoded with infinite information, collapses to its particle state, the collapsed state yields only a single bit of information:,,,

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Single photons to soak up data:
    Excerpt: the orbital angular momentum of a photon can take on an infinite number of values. Since a photon can also exist in a superposition of these states, it could – in principle – be encoded with an infinite amount of information.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/7201

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    Zeilinger’s principle
    The principle that any elementary system carries just one bit of information. This principle was put forward by the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 1999 and subsequently developed by him to derive several aspects of quantum mechanics.
    http://science.jrank.org/pages.....z17a7f88PM

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:

    ,,,moreover, encoded information, such as we find encoded in computers, and yes, such as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘conserved’ quantum information:,,,

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

  205. ,,,It is important to note that the following experiment actually encoded information into a photon while it was in its quantum wave state, thus destroying the notion, held by many, that the wave function was not ‘physically real’ but was merely ‘abstract’. i.e. How can information possibly be encoded into something that is not physically real but merely abstract?,,,

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

    Information In Photon – Robert W. Boyd – slides from presentation
    http://www.quantumphotonics.uo.....-InPho.pdf

    Information in a Photon – Robert W. Boyd – 2010
    Excerpt: By its conventional definition, a photon is one unit of excitation of a mode of the electromagnetic field. The modes of the electromagnetic field constitute a countably infinite set of basis functions, and in this sense the amount of information that can be impressed onto an individual photon is unlimited.
    http://www.pqeconference.com/p.....td/013.pdf

    Here is a more rigorous measurement of the wave function which establishes it as ‘physically real’;

    Direct measurement of the quantum wavefunction – June 2011
    Excerpt: The wavefunction is the complex distribution used to completely describe a quantum system, and is central to quantum theory. But despite its fundamental role, it is typically introduced as an abstract element of the theory with no explicit definition.,,, Here we show that the wavefunction can be measured directly by the sequential measurement of two complementary variables of the system. The crux of our method is that the first measurement is performed in a gentle way through weak measurement so as not to invalidate the second. The result is that the real and imaginary components of the wavefunction appear directly on our measurement apparatus. We give an experimental example by directly measuring the transverse spatial wavefunction of a single photon, a task not previously realized by any method.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....10120.html

    ,,,The following paper mathematically corroborated the preceding experiment and cleaned up some pretty nasty probabilistic incongruities that arose from a purely statistical interpretation, i.e. it seems that stacking a ‘random infinity’, (parallel universes to explain quantum wave collapse), on top of another ‘random infinity’, to explain quantum entanglement, leads to irreconcilable mathematical absurdities within quantum mechanics:,,,

    Quantum Theory’s ‘Wavefunction’ Found to Be Real Physical Entity: Scientific American – November 2011
    Excerpt: David Wallace, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford, UK, says that the theorem is the most important result in the foundations of quantum mechanics that he has seen in his 15-year professional career. “This strips away obscurity and shows you can’t have an interpretation of a quantum state as probabilistic,” he says.
    http://www.scientificamerican......vefunction

    The quantum (wave) state cannot be interpreted statistically – November 2011
    http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1111.3328

    Moreover:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    ,,,The following logical deduction and evidence shows that consciousness precedes the collapse of the ‘infinite information’ of the quantum wave state to the single bit of the ‘uncertain’ particle state,,,

    The argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either precedes all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Three intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”
    Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    ,,,Wigner stated this in regards to his Nobel Prize winning work on Quantum Symmetries,,,

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    ,,,i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”,,,

  206. The following solidified Wigner’s work from another angle;

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications.Preceding quote taken from this following video;

    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D (Shortened version of entire video with notes in description of video)
    http://vimeo.com/37517080

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.
    Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    Nonlocal “realistic” Leggett models can be considered refuted by the before-before experiment – Antoine Suarez Center for Quantum Philosophy, – 2008
    Excerpt: (page 3) The independence of quantum measurement from the presence of human consciousness has not been proved wrong by any experiment to date.,,, “nonlocal correlations happen from outside space-time, in the sense that there is no story in space-time that tells us how they happen.”
    http://www.quantumphil.org/SuarezFOOP201R2.pdf

    And to further solidify the case that ‘consciousness precedes reality’ the violation of Leggett’s inequalities were extended in 2010:

    Violation of Leggett inequalities in orbital angular momentum subspaces – 2010
    Main results. We extend the violation of Leggett inequalities to the orbital angular momentum (OAM) state space of photons, which is associated with their helical wavefronts. We define our measurements in a Bloch sphere for OAM and measure the Leggett parameter LN (where N is the number of settings for the signal photon) as we change the angle ? (see figure). We observe excellent agreement with quantum mechanical predictions (red line), and show a violation of five and six standard deviations for N = 3 and N = 4, respectively.
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/12/12/123007

    Now, I find the preceding to be absolutely fascinating! A photon, in its quantum wave state, is found to be mathematically defined as a ‘infinite-dimensional’ state, which ‘requires an infinite amount of information’ to describe it properly, can be encoded with information in its ‘infinite dimensional’ state, and this ‘infinite dimensional’ photon is found to collapse, instantaneously, and thus ‘non-locally’, to just a ’1 or 0? state, out of a infinite number of possibilities that the photon could have collapsed to instead! Moreover, consciousness is found to precede the collapse of the wavefunction to its particle state. Now my question to materialistic atheists is this, “Exactly what ’conscious cause’ has been postulated throughout history to be completely independent of any space-time constraints, as well as possessing infinite knowledge, so as to be the ‘sufficient cause’ to explain what we see in the quantum wave collapse of a photon???

    John 1:1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    ,,,In my personal opinion, even though not hashed out in exhaustive detail yet, all this evidence is about as sweet as it can get in experimental science as to providing proof that Almighty God created and sustains this universe.,,,

    The Word Is Alive – Casting Crowns – music video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5197438/

  207. For a much simpler ‘common sense’ way to understand, I suggest this video:

    What Properties Must the Cause of the Universe Have? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SZWInkDIVI

  208. 208
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: William Murray @ 197

    So, without the schizophrenic reference to non-existent commodities (a separate “I” and a separate means of evaluation), you are saying: “Flawed brain is going to use flawed brain to assess the quality of flawed brain’s output.”

    Good luck with that self-defeating position.

    But we’re constantly receiving corrections, both from the world and from other people. We are not only fallible but also “corrigible” (correctable). I don’t see what’s “self-defeating” about this. I mean, am I supposed to think that either there are rock-solid absolutes or else it’s all arbitrary and subjective? How does that dichotomy make any sense?

  209. Kantian Naturalist

    Nominalism could be construed in two different ways: as denying that there are generals (but only particulars) or as denying that there are abstracta but only concreta. Or one might take the view that there are only concrete particulars, which is in fact my view.

    Excuse me please, but this is the deadliest of all intellectual errors. Our knowledge is not limited to concrete particulars. On the contrary, it is only by means of abstract concepts that we can understand what is common to all particular humans, trees, spoons, and chairs.

    Or more precisely, I think that generals and abstracta play a fundamentally important role in structuring our thought and discourse about the world, but that not all of our thought and discourse about the world really “makes contact” with the world of concrete particulars.

    If, as you mistakenly believe, our knowledge is limited to concrete particulars, then our thought and discourse would consist solely of our own private experiences. Under those circumstances, there could be no such thing as reliable knowledge about the real world, a misguided claim that I refuted earlier on this thread.

    The thought now is this: while the conceptual scheme of an animal mind can only picture, the conceptual scheme of normal mature human minds not only pictures but also contains numerous other dimensions as well.

    Excuse me again, but you are contradicting your own philosophy. In your first paragraph, you argue that we can apprehend only concrete particulars, which would mean that we can know only “this” mind or “that” human. Now, in referring to “normal human minds,” you reverse course and acknowledge a knowable universal that transcends the world of particulars–an intellectual faculty common to all humans.

    So, two kinds of external constraint: causal constraint on embodied perception, and rational constraint on embodied thought; the former constraint grounded in the physical environment, the latter constraint grounded in the social environment.
    This is a great view! What’s not to like about this?

    It does not correspond to reality.

  210. 210

    But we’re constantly receiving corrections, both from the world and from other people. We are not only fallible but also “corrigible” (correctable). I don’t see what’s “self-defeating” about this. I mean, am I supposed to think that either there are rock-solid absolutes or else it’s all arbitrary and subjective? How does that dichotomy make any sense?

    Let me strip out the misdirection of non-existent secondary entities (as per your philosophy):

    Flawed brain interprets data received by flawed brain from what flawed brain interprets as other flawed brains and uses flawed brain in an attempt to correct flawed brain.

    Well, it is – after all – the product of an admittedly flawed brain.

  211. This is your brain on nominalism.

    It’s decidedly different from my brain on nominalism.

  212. Graham 2

    1.) Is it at all possible for you to give me any kind of answer on why you believe that non-intelligence (cause) gave rise to intelligence (effect)even if the science that you so steadfastly believe in clearly indicates that effects can never be greater than its cause. Please Graham2 I need to understand the thought process on why you choose to accept this position that it can despite all the evidence saying it can’t.

    2.) The 1 science question was to make it clear that there is more than one science doing the rounds…. they’re is “just so” science (neo-Darwinian evolution), pseudo-science (evolutionary-psychology), and real science ( Newtonian science)

  213. Correction

    2.) The 1 science question was to make it clear that there is more than one science doing the rounds…. there* is “just so” science (neo-Darwinian evolution), pseudo-science (evolutionary-psychology), and real science (Newtonian science)

  214. Graham2 (195):

    I made no demands. I offered a trade. You have declined the trade. Therefore, you won’t get my answer to your question. It’s just a business decision; no hard feelings on my part.

    You write:

    “It [science] simply has not, in many years of investigation, provided evidence for the supernatural.”

    This is a much weaker claim than you originally made. Your original claim was that belief in a disembodied intelligence is “preposterous” and has been rendered incredible by modern science. It was that claim that I contested, not the one above. If you are withdrawing your original claim, please summon the intellectual courage to say so directly.

    Just to be clear: I’m not offended that you are an atheist, reject ID, etc. No position offends me, even if I strongly disagree with it, if it’s held in an intellectually responsible way. What offends me is lack of argumentative responsibility. For example, you speak publically about ID when you don’t know what it’s about, and apparently have no intention of doing any research to find out what it’s about. You apparently intend to ignore all corrections regarding ID (as you’ve ignored mine) and continue to argue against a straw man. The only reasonable public responses to such an attitude are indignation and contempt. I think I’ve expressed my indignation already, so now I’ll switch to contempt, and ignore your discussion of ID as uninformed and therefore irrelevant.

  215. G2:

    Perhaps, a step back from the cut and thrust of point exchanges will be helpful.

    By now, it should be obvious to you that you are in a forum where several participants are present or former college professors, lecturers or holders of advanced degrees who are making a living doing something else (usually, software engineering or consultancy or the like). There are a few medical practitioners, some engineers and applied scientists, etc. I think there are some lawyers hanging around. Some, are the sort of amateur who used to carry philosophy and science until the modern university emerged and you could make a decent living from scholarship. I should not neglect, the sort of people who have bookshelves measured by the hundreds of shelf feet, and perhaps rent warehousing space for more — and not on trashy topics either.

    In this particular thread you have a concentration of people with a particular interest in philosophy and in the history and pivotal ideas of science and natural theology.

    These are not dumb people, nor are they ignorant in general or on this topic.

    We are not insane.

    Nor are we unduly wicked — any orthodox Christian (and most other reasonable people) will agree that we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed. All of which influences unfortunately potentially have epistemological consequences. Which we are aware of and strive to address seriously.

    In addition, if you will review the thread above, you will see that most references to the Bible come from objectors, or in response to objectors. A passing acquaintance with the general tone of say AIG, ICR, CMI or even RTB, will show that the patterns of thought are quite different.

    (On a passing note, LT, John is not antisemitic [take a read here noting the obvious about the name of the author . . . ], but has indisputably unfortunately been abused by those who are; which fits in under some pretty grim warnings on scripture twisting by the ignorant, foolish, ill-advised and unstable. It is following in the Hebraic prophetic tradition of afflicting the comfortable, especially manifestly corrupt power elites. Think about a power culture where a ruler gaols a man for rebuking his seducing and taking his brother’s wife and provoking a foolish [and losing] war with his former wife’s father then –on being inflamed by a provocative dance by the 14 year old daughter of his stolen wife, promises half the kingdom. Head on a platter, duly delivered with not a voice of recorded protest from the assembled elites. Multiply, by a governor who finds a man innocent, then sends him to his death for reasons of fear of the power balances. Where, a generation later, when another man is brought before a successor on a similar accusation of stirring up trouble by denouncing the elites and their institutions, there is an obvious Instruction lurking so the man is “only” whipped. Multiply by the obvious tensions between the Judaeans and the Galileans. Then, pause. Look in a fair-minded fashion at the denunciations of Gentile power elites and culture in the NT, especially the cumulative case in Rom 1 – 3 (including the implicit denunciation of the current emperor, before whom Paul would later be tried, it seems twice). You will have a choice: NT Christianity is guilty of misanthropy, or it is deeply concerned to call all of humanity to repentance and reform. A fair and charitable reading will at once show that the latter reading holds a much better warrant. [And, I think to be fair minded, you need to read here, which is written on behalf of Christians and Jews in my region, in response to regional attacks on Israel/Zionism and Jews, by cultural Marxists full of the anticolonialist narrative who have formed an unholy alliance with the Jihadis. A part of the motive for that stance, which will cost me in dealings with elites influenced by that pattern of thought, is precisely the spiritual and general respect for Israel taught in the same NT that is so often despised as the root of antisemitism.])

    It should be quite clear to you that modern science was born in the matrix of the Judaeo-Christian worldview, and that that worldview specifically — and by contrast with the direction of influences driven by other worldviews — contributed pivotal ideas, respect for reason and the potential accuracy and generality of observations and inductive generalisations, etc. Indeed, the peculiar term, LAW of Nature, should be a beacon pointing to that influence. As was already highlighted from Newton in his General Scholium to Principia.

    That was written in Latin to the elites.

    Let me now cite what he wrote at the turn of the 1700′s in English, in Opticks, Query 31:

    Now by the help of [[the laws of motion], all material Things seem to have been composed of the hard and solid Particles above-mention’d, variously associated in the first Creation by the Counsel of an intelligent Agent. For it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it’s unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages . . . .

    And if natural Philosophy in all its Parts, by pursuing this Method, shall at length be perfected, the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will be also enlarged. For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature. ”

    This, BTW, is the exact same context in which Newton laid out the summary of the methods of scientific investigation that is echoed in traditional school definitions. The sort that have not been loaded up with gratuitous a priori materialism at the behest of today’s new magisterium in the holy lab coat. (Cf. here on for just what I mean when I say this.)

    Let me clip that definition in its context, which should also serve to highlight the epistemological subtleties involved:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    The inescapable provisionality of scientific reasoning on empirical evidence is clearly highlighted. We also see the hint that topics in science will be subject to debate and controversy on the strength of the conclusions drawn, in light of points where limitations or even possible corrections may be emerging.

    A fair reading of what design theory is about, will show that this is the context of the rise of this school of thought. (Have you read even the NWE 101 on ID yet? If so, how has it affected your views, why, especially the clip from Hoyle in which he introduces a certain term?)

    I hope this will be helpful to you.

    KF

  216. F/N: Blackwell Companion to nat theol, at Amazon, paper — hard cover is over US$ 200 [I guess, mostly for libraries . . . I could buy the soft cover and get it hard bound for a lot less [or could even pull my volume on the topic of book binding and try my hand . . . ]), as is now distressingly typical for too many text and reference works. BTW, I see Kindle prices are creeping up too, to match the paperback prices of books. Looks like the contention is that it is the cost of services to create the work, not paper and warehousing, that are driving costs. I guess in a world of highways and steel-frame construction computer managed warehouses that can ship from anywhere, that is the trend. Somehow, I cannot slip the feeling that print is doomed and the future belongs to the EPUB survey read on a sub- US$100 tablet, maybe 7 – 8″ diagonal. In short, long term, bet on server farms. Unless some idiot launches an EMP attack . . .

  217. F/N 2: Here is a simplified version of an ontological argument in the BCNT. Also, forgive, as it seems my built-in noun-verb agreement module is buggy these days.

  218. Timeaus: It has been an interesting trip for me. I actually admire your patience. What I didnt appreciate was the role the supernatural played in the lives of people here, they are swimming in it. When bornagain77 claimed math equations came from God, I took this as an aberration, but apparantly not. This now forms a sort of benchmark for me.

    If you take ID seriously, good luck, I think you may need it.

  219. G2:

    You keep coming across as one who thinks that his particular perspective is and is self evidently true, and so if someone else has a different view it is wrong or even absurd. That attitude is sophomoric at best.

    Your implicit dismissal of the significance of mathematics in a theistic view, just above, seems to be a case in point; one among several.

    Some days ago, I took up the issue of mathematics’ unity and relevance as signs of an underlying Reason behind reality. I think it can be taken for granted that mathematics is a big deal in Science and other serious endeavours, and that there have been those who remark on the “unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics,” in Science and other fields.

    Could that be trying to tell us something, something about the underlying integrated and intelligible Reason behind our cosmos — as in not a chaos?

    Th3e essence of mathematics is that on a few core assumptions, called axioms, it deduces consequences by logic. A capital instance was in Einstein’s exploration of early relativity, in which he came across a result for the energy of a moving body, that had a zero velocity term, which — at least, as it came across to us in Physics classes and texts — was unexpected. The solution was to infer that there is a rest-energy related to mass, E = m*c^2.

    A decade or so later, he ran across the tendency of the General Relativity equations to project an expanding or collapsing universe, and felt this a defect, inserting a control term that could set it to non-expansion. Lo and behold, ten years still later, the Hubble results came out and bang, we have cosmological expansion. The control term is till there, but now as the “yeast bubbler” feature that governs the expansion.

    There are many other cases.

    For some reason, reality seems mathematically connected, thus logically and rationally connected.

    Have you ever observed that reason tends to reside in minds?

    Does that not raise the hairs on the back of your neck when you look at the way such is spread all across reality as we understand it?

    In that context, look at how the rise of geometry led to the significance of pi. The operation of taking a square root — what is the side of a square of a given area, then led to the notion of an imaginary root of a negative number. The area under 1/x behaves logarithmically, and so we have a natural log linked to the area under that curve beyond unity. (Where of course Cartesian coordinates are ever so interesting.)

    Mix in a bit of calculus, sequences, series and the idea of sines and cosines to get triangles, then do series expansions that ecxpress sine, cosine and exponential functions. We are at e^i*theta = cos theta plus i sine theta. Make the angle rotate, theta = i*omega*t. We have a route into Fourier frequency domain analysis [frequency components of time domain events . . . ], Laplace transient analysis, the dynamic behaviour of systems, and so much more. Indeed, this gateway leads to a situation where for years I lived more in this domain than time domain, at least analytically. And I used to love to use the heavy rubber sheet picture to teach my students how to see the behaviour of systems, then set them to pole spotting. That leads into instrumentation and control. Mix in Z transforms and memory/delay elements in registers with arithmetic/logic units to manipulate, and the whole field of digital signal processing lies open before you.

    Come back tot the little expression on the sinusoidal and the complex exponential forms of the complex number on the unit circle in the Argand plane. (Which is BTW, a way to deal with 2-d vector analysis. I*x is a way of saying rotate the position vector 0-x by 90 degrees anticlockwise i that plane. Do it again and you get – 0-x. The meaning of sq rt (-1) drops out.)

    Work out for pi rads, the radian being the natural measure of angle.

    Bang, we see an astonishing result:

    0 = 1 + e^i*pi

    Math comes all back together from ever so many diverse fields and unifies the five most important numbers and three most important operations in one equation.

    And we see that what was apparently cobbled together bit by bit to go here and there is all of a piece.

    if that does not point to our being explorers and re-discoverers of something that somebody else — someone who is Reason himself — thought of before the world began, I don’t know what is.

    The best explanation I know is that, built into the logical structure of reality is an astonishing unity that points to a unifying highly mathematical mind behind reality.

    You may discard or deride this, but that does not make it any less so.

    Even if you choose to reject such thinking, at least have the respect to recognise that others are going to see this as the best explanation for it, and that they are not just making up silly notions out of whole cloth.

    Complex, powerful coherence like that that is so strongly anchored to the reality of the world as we have explored it, is pointing somewhere, somewhere that looks a lot like the same where that we see when we find the astonishing fine tuning of the cosmos that supports the sort of life that we enjoy. And again the same where that we see when we notice that — of all things — he same locations that are best fitted to such life as we are are locations that practically beg us to explore and discover the world through math and sci. And then look at how we came up with digital computers from the 1830′s to 1940′s, then, bang in the 1950′s – 60′s we find the same sort of digital info processing in the heart of the living cell.

    More and more put up jobs all pointing in the same direction, as Sir Fred Hoyle would say.

    I hope that your encounter with UD will at least help broaden your thinking.

    KF

  220. KF: I work in the field of structural analysis, writing software to solve large systems of (sometimes) non-linear equations, so I am familiar with some of this stuff.

    Yes, maths is pretty cool stuff, I revel in it, often just for the enjoyment, but at the same time I am often struck by just how ineffective it is: Its only just recently that the 4-colour problem was solved. You cant generate closed functions to integrate the simplest problems, eg: the length of an ellipse.

    I dont see the work of the supernatural here, maths just is. It doesnt make it any less cool, it just removes any ghosts.

  221. 221

    One wonders, if all we are is brains that evolved pattern recognition and survival skills that may or may not reflect anything true about the world, but only necessarily reflect an advantage in long-term reproductive success, why do materialist atheists (or kantian naturalists) bother arguing against any other philosophy or set of beliefs on any other grounds whatsoever?

    If there is no objective standard of truth, or morality, then what we are left with is whatever our brains happen to have found useful for our evolutionary success. It is obvious that belief in god and spiritual beliefs in general are great evolutionary successes, so what is the basis for argument against them?

    Why the outrage against religious persecution or laws based on morality? Why ridicule ID and theism in general? Why make arguments here when the only naturalist or materialist question worth asking is: “How many descendants are you responsible for?” I have 6 children and 12 grand-children; by any naturalist or materialist standard (that means anything in terms of their philosophy), my belief system is valid on that account.

    Yet, here they cling, scratching and clawing and demeaning and philosophizing, ranting and ridiculing and debating as if whatever they are arguing for matters in some way other than the only meaningful measurement available in their philosophy: what is your progeny success rate?

  222. Thanks KF, G2 you state:

    “When bornagain77 claimed math equations came from God, I took this as an aberration, but apparantly not.”

    a few footnotes to KF’s excellent remarks:

    Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.
    Galileo Galilei

    “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way.. the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”
    Albert Einstein – Goldman – Letters to Solovine p 131.

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
    The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Mario Livio, or the Poverty of Atheist Philosophy: A Review of “Is God a Mathematician?”
    Excerpt: In short, Wigner committed a treason against science. He didn’t, in an Einsteinian fashion, just declare a personal faith in a God that had only marginal relevance to his scientific studies. He went farther than that: he implied that science was impossible and inexplicable without accepting a higher reality, transcending the mind of man and its capabilities for reasoning and experimentation. The short and ostensibly innocent article faced some really violent reactions; some objected to the conclusions in it, others to the premises, and still others refused to even deal with it, pretending it had never been written. But Wigner remained right about one thing: Despite the many attempts, no one could give a rational explanation for what Wigner described as the “uncanny ability of mathematics to describe and predict accurately the physical world.”
    http://americanvision.org/4333.....ematician/

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity . . . all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency . . . no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness . . . all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Presuppositional Apologetics – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    Random Chaos vs. Uniformity Of Nature – Presuppositional Apologetics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6853139

    Alan Turing and Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    Sir Isaac Newton stated this in regards to his own discoveries:

    I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily…. All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer. — Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), considered by many to be the greatest scientist of all time

    etc.. etc..

  223. G2 claims

    “I dont see the work of the supernatural here, maths just is.”

    Really, that is a pretty specific claim, care to overturn the incompleteness theorem? Or perhaps explain this?

    Finely Tuned Big Bang, Elvis In The Multiverse, and the Schroedinger Equation – Granville Sewell – audio
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4233012

    At the 4:00 minute mark of the preceding audio, Dr. Sewell comments on the ‘transcendent’ and ‘constant’ Schroedinger’s Equation;

    ‘In chapter 2, I talk at some length on the Schroedinger Equation which is called the fundamental equation of chemistry. It’s the equation that governs the behavior of the basic atomic particles subject to the basic forces of physics. This equation is a partial differential equation with a complex valued solution. By complex valued I don’t mean complicated, I mean involving solutions that are complex numbers, a+bi, which is extraordinary that the governing equation, basic equation, of physics, of chemistry, is a partial differential equation with complex valued solutions. There is absolutely no reason why the basic particles should obey such a equation that I can think of except that it results in elements and chemical compounds with extremely rich and useful chemical properties. In fact I don’t think anyone familiar with quantum mechanics would believe that we’re ever going to find a reason why it should obey such an equation, they just do! So we have this basic, really elegant mathematical equation, partial differential equation, which is my field of expertise, that governs the most basic particles of nature and there is absolutely no reason why, anyone knows of, why it does, it just does. British physicist Sir James Jeans said “From the intrinsic evidence of His creation, the great architect of the universe begins to appear as a pure mathematician”, so God is a mathematician to’.

    i.e. the Materialist is at a complete loss to explain why this should be so, whereas the Christian Theist presupposes such ‘transcendent’ control of our temporal, material, reality,,,

    John 1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

  224. a few more notes of the ‘spirituality of math’:

    Centrality of Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579

    It is interesting to note that ‘higher dimensional’ mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, or even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss and Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    When one looks at the 4-D space time of relativity, and the centrality of conscious observation in quantum mechanics, a very interesting ‘anomaly’ pops out:

    The Galileo Affair and the true “Center of the Universe”
    Excerpt: I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

    The following is another very ‘spiritual’ finding from mathematics:

    The Scale of The Universe – Part 2 – interactive graph (recently updated in 2012 with cool features)
    http://htwins.net/scale2/scale.....olor=white

    The preceding interactive graph points out that the smallest scale visible to the human eye (as well as a human egg) is at 10^-4 meters, which ‘just so happens’ to be directly in the exponential center of all possible sizes of our physical reality (not just ‘nearly’ in the exponential center!). i.e. 10^-4 is, exponentially, right in the middle of 10^-35 meters, which is the smallest possible unit of length, which is Planck length, and 10^27 meters, which is the largest possible unit of ‘observable’ length since space-time was created in the Big Bang, which is the diameter of the universe. This is very interesting for, as far as I can tell, the limits to human vision (as well as the size of the human egg) could have, theoretically, been at very different positions than directly in the exponential middle;

    Here is another finding from mathematics that has very strong ‘spiritual’ implications:

    There is a mysterious ‘higher dimensional’ component to life:

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

    Y = Yo M^b,

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

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/16037/

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

    Earth’s crammed with heaven,
    And every common bush afire with God;
    But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
    The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
    – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    Music and verse:

    YOU ARE GOD ALONE, Philips, Craig and Dean
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OICArFHAa9c

    Revelation 4:11
    Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

  225. G2: An apt illustration of willfully closing one’s eyes. Yes, math is hard and we finite fallible thinkers struggle with it, that is why it can take centuries to advance in key areas. But, advance it does, and when we look at what we have achieved, we see that it points like a compass needle to a unity of the cosmos that in turn is eloquent testimony to a unified, rational source. And of this the Euler expression is as emblematic as we get: 0 = 1 + e^i*pi. All you can say in reply to such an astonishing result is “maths just is,” and to try to dismiss the evident mind behind it as a “ghost” — a term of contempt used to dismiss superstition. In the face of such a result and its implications, that is an epitaph of a contempt-driven, willfully purblind system of thought. Open your eyes, and LOOK! KF

  226. ‘maths just is’,,, KF: Does make one shake their head!,,,What if one of your students told you ‘maths just is’? I’m sure you’ve seen as such in your years of teaching,,, did such students who held such a non-inquisitive attitude fair well in the course of their studies?

  227. F/N:

    C15 BC, Moshe (compiler), Gen 1:1 – 3:

    1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

    3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

    C1, John 1:1 – 5:

    1 In the beginning was the Word [THE LOGOS -- Reason and Communicative Expression Himself], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,1 and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [ESV]

    C17 – 8, Boyle et al: science is “thinking God’s thoughts after him.”

    C18, Euler: 0 = 1 + e^i*pi

    C20, Einstein: E = m*c^2 (Inter alia implying that “Fiat lux,” serves as basis for a material world. Add in general Relativity and the cosmology of an observed cosmos with a credible beginning, one that is fine-tuned for the existence of C-chemistry, cell based life. Don’t forget that little resonance effect that leads to the peculiar abundance of C and O, which with H get us to organic chemistry and water, bring to bear N and we are at proteins. He is the gateway to the rest of chemistry, including of course C. H, He, C, O are the first four elements in abundance, and N is not far away. Another of Sir Fred Hoyle’s “put up job[s]“? )

    C21, Sewell on Schroedinger:

    I talk at some length on the Schroedinger Equation which is called the fundamental equation of chemistry. It’s the equation that governs the behavior of the basic atomic particles subject to the basic forces of physics. This equation is a partial differential equation with a complex valued solution. By complex valued I don’t mean complicated, I mean involving solutions that are complex numbers, a+bi, which is extraordinary that the governing equation, basic equation, of physics, of chemistry, is a partial differential equation with complex valued solutions. There is absolutely no reason why the basic particles should obey such a equation that I can think of except that it results in elements and chemical compounds with extremely rich and useful chemical properties. In fact I don’t think anyone familiar with quantum mechanics would believe that we’re ever going to find a reason why it should obey such an equation, they just do! So we have this basic, really elegant mathematical equation, partial differential equation, which is my field of expertise, that governs the most basic particles of nature and there is absolutely no reason why, anyone knows of, why it does, it just does. British physicist Sir James Jeans said “From the intrinsic evidence of His creation, the great architect of the universe begins to appear as a pure mathematician”, so God is a mathematician . . .

    Open your eyes, mon, and LOOK!

    KF

  228. Graham2

    I’m hoping you’ll answer on why you believe that non-intelligence created intelligence…. please can you tell me how a rational mind could believe that effects can be greater than its causes?

  229. Graham2

    I’m hoping you’ll answer on why you believe that non-intelligence created intelligence…. please can you tell me how a rational mind could believe that effects can be greater than its causes?

  230. BA77: My students? As in: “more work, sir . . .”? They didn’t dare not be inquisitive and diligent! (Bawl they did on workload, until they realised what I was doing for them! Years later, they were still complex frequency domain pole-spotting as they looked around.) KF

  231. KF at 122,

    I introduced IEP to demonstrate that there is a positive case for atheism that can be made and has been made. Steve Gann has been asking for such a case. William J. Murray claims there is no rational basis for atheism of either the strong or weak varieties. The IEP articles answers Gann and shows that WJM is incorrect.

    Certainly, Plantinga and others have their objections and defenses to some of these arguments, but having read Plantinga and responses to his work, his philosophy in not unassailable. That’s what happens in scholarship. Who would be so bold to claim that these matters are settled permanently?

    JDH seems to have dropped out after my response to him at 138, which I take as a sign he agrees and has been corrected.

    But, again, if the question is whether atheism is rationally justified (or justifiable) the answer must be “yes.” What’s more, the rational basis for atheism is not inferior to the rational basis for deism/theism; in fact, many philosophers, scientists, and millions of other people have good reasons to think the case for atheism is better than the cases for deism/theism.

    Instead of focusing on the case for atheism, I am still foolishly interested in the positive case for intelligent design of biological life and/or the physical universe. I understand, poorly, the FSCI argument. I also realize that other arguments, such as “fine-tuning,” are marshaled as indirect supports for ID. Does anyone else think to gain further acceptance and interest that ID requires additional, direct material studies and arguments? For instance, it does not seem to me that the “signature in the cell” argument has gained enough traction yet; what new data or examinations would bolster it?

    As for John, I know it primarily from the Douay-Rheims version of the vulgate, and also the KJV. To my ear, to my background, and to my understanding of its reception and use in history, its text relates a zealotry and ideology that many would consider intolerable if it were thought to be the scripture of another religion. The starkness of its vision is something only religion can achieve, I think.

  232. For me, the argument for why the brain cannot think, as presented by Reppert (see Kairosfocus post 143), is completely convincing. In post 151 I already stated my conviction.

    It boils down to this: matter is subject to natural law, while thinking – or mind – is subject to laws of an entirely different (mental) level (logic, knowledge, overview, coherence, purpose and so on).

    There is a cascade of impenetrable walls between these two totally different levels. One of them being the fact that we cannot reduce the laws of the mental level to natural law.
    Can someone explain to me why this is not totally convincing? Why is it not obvious that the brain cannot think? Why is physical causal closure, and so physicalism, materialism, emergentism etc. still considered to be option?

  233. 233

    William J. Murray claims there is no rational basis for atheism of either the strong or weak varieties. The IEP articles answers Gann and shows that WJM is incorrect.

    Inaccurate – I never said there was no rational basis for atheism; however, “basis” isn’t all that is required for a rationally sound belief system. I have a rational basis for believing that the sun revolves around the Earth (confirmed, empirical observation), but there is more required than just a rational “basis” for that belief.

    What I argued is that atheism is a rationally untenable position – it is not ultimately justifiable.

    Also, you might want to look over how many of those arguments actually apply to the god as defined in the O.P.; for instance, the argument that god is bad or inefficient designer, or allows evil to exist, has no significant bearing on god as defined. I don’t posit that god is all-loving, maximally efficient, always produces optimal design, or is even kind, because those qualities are not (1) generally convergent vectors in testimonial/anecdotal descriptions of god, and (2) are not, IMO, required by the arguments that conclude a necessary god-like being, and (3) are simply too vague and problematic to make a sensible case for one way or another.

    IOW, arguments that god is not loving, not kind, a bad designer and inefficient are not germane to the argument I initiated, leaving atheists with very little in the way of positive argument or evidence.

    Also, we have the problem of simply dismissing thousands of years of testimony by billions of people whose testimony about other things would largely not be dismissed; atheism has no counterbalance to the immense weight of testimony on the subject.

  234. Here is a tidied response to G2′s ‘maths just is’ claim:

    The ‘Spirituality of Mathematics’

    An atheist (G2) claimed, in response to my observation that mathematics must ultimately be based in God, that:

    ‘maths just is’

    Well, contrary to the G2′s commonly held belief that ‘maths just is’, the belief that ‘maths just is’ is now demonstrably false. First to be noted, there is a profound epistemological mystery as to why our minds should even be able to grasp and understand reality through the enterprise of mathematics in the first place:

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

    “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way.. the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”
    Albert Einstein – Goldman – Letters to Solovine p 131.

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
    The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Second in response to G2, in the last century Kurt Godel, in a breakthrough that is breathtaking, showed mathematics to be ‘incomplete’:

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity . . . all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency . . . no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness . . . all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

    In other words, the truthfulness of any given mathematical equation is not found within the equation itself, but the truthfulness of any given mathematical equation, and indeed of all of math, must be derived from and source outside of the equation(s). Moreover, being that mathematical equations are completely transcendent of any space-time constraints, (i.e. mathematical equations are always true no matter what part of the universe you are in and are true regardless of whatever year it happens to be), then this outside source (cause) that guarantees the truthfulness of any mathematical equation must also be transcendent of any space-time constraints.

    Also of note, Godel’s incompleteness theorem is hardly the only line of argumentation in this line of thought:

    Not Understanding Nothing – A review of A Universe from Nothing – Edward Feser – June 2012
    Excerpt: A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. So when physicist Lawrence Krauss begins his new book by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional philosophical theology, we know it isn’t going to end well. ,,,
    ,,, But Krauss simply can’t see the “difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one.” The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary. There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ng-nothing

    But of more interest as to drawing out the ‘spirituality of mathematics’, and refuting the ‘maths just is’ conception of mathematics, it is worthwhile to focus in on the Schroedinger equation:

    Finely Tuned Big Bang, Elvis In The Multiverse, and the Schroedinger Equation – Granville Sewell – audio
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4233012

    At the 4:00 minute mark of the preceding audio, Dr. Sewell comments on the ‘transcendent’ and ‘constant’ Schroedinger’s Equation;

    ‘In chapter 2, I talk at some length on the Schroedinger Equation which is called the fundamental equation of chemistry. It’s the equation that governs the behavior of the basic atomic particles subject to the basic forces of physics. This equation is a partial differential equation with a complex valued solution. By complex valued I don’t mean complicated, I mean involving solutions that are complex numbers, a+bi, which is extraordinary that the governing equation, basic equation, of physics, of chemistry, is a partial differential equation with complex valued solutions. There is absolutely no reason why the basic particles should obey such a equation that I can think of except that it results in elements and chemical compounds with extremely rich and useful chemical properties. In fact I don’t think anyone familiar with quantum mechanics would believe that we’re ever going to find a reason why it should obey such an equation, they just do! So we have this basic, really elegant mathematical equation, partial differential equation, which is my field of expertise, that governs the most basic particles of nature and there is absolutely no reason why, anyone knows of, why it does, it just does. British physicist Sir James Jeans said “From the intrinsic evidence of His creation, the great architect of the universe begins to appear as a pure mathematician”, so God is a mathematician to’.

    i.e. the Materialist is at a complete loss to explain why this should be so, whereas the Christian Theist presupposes such ‘transcendent’ control of our temporal, material, reality,,,

    John 1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    Of note: ‘The Word’ in Greek is Logos. Logos is the root word from which we derive our modern word ‘logic’.

  235. But the mystery of the Schroedinger equation goes even deeper to further reveal ‘the spirituality of mathematics’ to us.

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    “Thus one decides the photon shall have come by one route or by both routes after it has already done its travel”
    John A. Wheeler

    Alain Aspect speaks on John Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment – video
    http://vimeo.com/38508798

    Genesis, Quantum Physics and Reality
    Excerpt: Simply put, an experiment on Earth can be made in such a way that it determines if one photon comes along either on the right or the left side or if it comes (as a wave) along both sides of the gravitational lens (of the galaxy) at the same time. However, how could the photons have known billions of years ago that someday there would be an earth with inhabitants on it, making just this experiment? ,,, This is big trouble for the multi-universe theory and for the “hidden-variables” approach.
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2.....r.html.ori

    Moreover,

    Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment – 2010
    Excerpt: The Delayed Choice experiment changes the boundary conditions of the Schrodinger equation after the particle enters the first beamsplitter.
    http://www.physics.drexel.edu/.....elayed.pdf

    But why should a mathematical equation even care when I decide to implement boundary conditions to look at a particle? Mathematical equations can’t care about anything! Only God can care if and when I decide to look at any particular particle!

    In fact, as if the preceding was not enough to refute G2′s ‘maths just is’ belief, ‘the spirituality of mathematics’ has now been revealed to a even deeper level through recent quantum entanglement experiments. The foundation of quantum mechanics within science is now so solid that researchers were able to bring forth this following proof from quantum entanglement experiments;

    An experimental test of all theories with predictive power beyond quantum theory – May 2011
    Excerpt: More precisely, we perform various measurements (conscious observations) on distant entangled photons, and, under the assumption that these measurements (conscious observations) are freely chosen (free will), we give a upper bound on how well any alternative theory could predict their outcomes.,,,,
    Hence, we can immediately refute any already considered or yet-to-be-proposed alternative model with more predictive power than this (Quantum Theory).
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1105.0133.pdf

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free will assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current mathematical theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future mathematical theory is simply unprecedented in the history of science! It is, in my unsolicited opinion, a very significant milestone in the history of science! Moreover, the belief that ‘maths just is’ is simply completely demolished by the fact that our best mathematical description of reality is absolutely dependent on the starting assumptions of conscious observation and free will. Moreover, since our best mathematical description of reality requires conscious observation and free will as starting assumptions, then this necessarily implies that consciousness and free will precede the mathematical equation.

    Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    Ravi Zacharias – How To Measure Your Choices – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Op_S5syhKI

    You must measure your choices by the measure of
    1) eternity
    2) morality
    3) accountability
    4) charity

    A few more notes of the ‘spirituality of math’:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-443433

  236. A song for you G2 and LT:

    MercyMe – You Are I Am (Official Lyric Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JI4CPfuLW0

  237. WJM @233,

    Inaccurate – I never said there was no rational basis for atheism; however, “basis” isn’t all that is required for a rationally sound belief system. I have a rational basis for believing that the sun revolves around the Earth (confirmed, empirical observation), but there is more required than just a rational “basis” for that belief.

    What I argued is that atheism is a rationally untenable position – it is not ultimately justifiable.

    I now see the distinction you are making. Thanks for clarifying.

    IOW, arguments that god is not loving, not kind, a bad designer and inefficient are not germane to the argument I initiated, leaving atheists with very little in the way of positive argument or evidence.

    Hold on. One of the positive arguments for atheism is that the God you define (a definition that includes qualified omniscience, omnipotence, and such) is logically incoherent as a concept. Yes, many have defended coherence, but that’s beside the main point. That main point is that this is an example of a positive case being made and being rationally tenable.

    Another of the positive cases being made is that the God concept is unnecessary for explaining natural objects and occurrences. You can read the entire IEP summary, and its referenced sources, but my point is (again) that there are several families of argumentation presenting positive cases for atheism being the actual state of the universe.

    Finally,

    The problem of simply dismissing thousands of years of testimony by billions of people whose testimony about other things would largely not be dismissed; atheism has no counterbalance to the immense weight of testimony on the subject.

    I don’t see the problem, partly because I don’t think testimony is being dismissed. Quite the contrary. Surely, you agree that any testimony from any source ought to be evaluated, and evaluated in context. You’ll also agree that no testimony or source can be given a pass in advance. This is part of taking testimony seriously, but another big part of taking testimony seriously is acknowledging that the testimony may be outright false, biased, mis-remembered, mis-characterized, or otherwise incomplete. It may also be 100 percent true.

    So, I personally take seriously the testimony of so-and-so that he was visited by an angel and had verses of scripture revealed to him. Should I believe this specific testimony? Should I believe it fully? Should I believe every detail? Or do I need to say only that it’s possible that the event happened because angels are real and they sometimes do visit people and sometimes do reveal information to people?

    I also take seriously the testimony of so-and-so, who tells of the prophet who gained insight into all human suffering after some 40-50 days of prayer, meditation, and fasting. But again, what is the proper attitude to such testimonies, in specific and aggregated?

    Perhaps it would help if you had a specific testimonial you saw being dismissed, and how so dismissed. But I think your issue is more that the atheist can (and frequently does) take supernatural claims seriously and still reject (or doubt) that they are true. That’s one thing that always strikes me about these discussions: To conclude atheism is always to be irrational and wrong.

  238. Bornagain77,

    Thanks for the song link. I was noticing the lyrics:

    I’ve been the one held down in chains
    Beneath the weight of all my shame
    I’ve been the one to believe
    That where I am You cannot reach

    It’s interesting how the voice of the lyric seem himself/herself as one who is bound and un-free, one who feels enornous shame. That must be very painful, emotionally.

    Yet, these emotionally-driven worship songs seem to focus intently on the body and on a deep, impassioned intimacy between the worshiper and the deity. Here, for instance, is part of the song, “The Potter’s Hand”:

    Take me, mold me, use me, fill me.
    I give my life to the Potter’s hand.
    Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me.
    I give my life to the Potter’s hand.

    Another example, this is from “Forever Reign”:

    Oh, I’m running to Your arms
    I’m running to Your arms
    The riches of Your love
    Will always be enough
    Nothing compares to Your embrace
    Light of the world forever reign

    Can I ask you, as a believer, is this intimacy important in how you understand the deity and your relationship? No need to respond if it’s too personal. Apologies if it is. I was just curious, as I said, from seeing the lyrics.

  239. 239

    LT said:

    Hold on. One of the positive arguments for atheism is that the God you define (a definition that includes qualified omniscience, omnipotence, and such) is logically incoherent as a concept.

    Refer back to the OP:

    omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent inasmuch as principles of logic allow; an interventionist as necessary to facilitate movement towards final cause and also inasmuch as logical principles are not violated; source of logic — “reason itself.”

    One can hardly claim that these attributes are logically contradictory in terms of this argument if I specifically state that they only apply as far as logically permissable.

    This is why simply pointing towards a website full of atheistic arguments is problematical in this case; they don’t address the “boiled down” concept of god I’ve posited here.

    As far as testimony is concerned: I’ve never been to China. I will likely never go to China. I consider the aggregate amount of testimony of people that have been there, mapmakers, and the overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence available that support a conclusion that China exists to be sufficient for a finding of “China more likely exists than not” without having to examine any individual testimony or grill any individual about their supposed “China experience” – even if many different people describe China in very different terms.

    It would be unreasonable of me to say that it is not more likely than not that China exists in the face of the sheer weight of anecdotal and testimonial evidence avaialable.

  240. LT you ask:

    ‘Can I ask you, as a believer, is this intimacy important in how you understand the deity and your relationship?’

    Well actually I’ve been wondering as to why I have not felt the overwhelming love of God as have so many people have told me about in their conversion experiences. All I know, from my personal experience, is that God was there for me in a tangible, caring, way at a very low point in my life that left no doubt whatsoever as to His reality. As to this ‘overwhelming love’ you are wondering about, perhaps it will help you, as it did me, to look at NDE’s of people who were actually in the presence of God so that you might get a feel for the overwhelming love they are talking about:

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

    “The Light was brighter than hundreds of suns, but it did not hurt my eyes. I had never seen anything as luminous or as golden as this Light, and I immediately understood it was entirely composed of love, all directed at me. This wonderful, vibrant love was very personal, as you might describe secular love, but also sacred.
    Though I had never seen God, I recognized this light as the Light of God. But even the word God seemed too small to describe the magnificence of that presence. I was with my Creator, in holy communication with that presence. The Light was directed at me and through me; it surrounded me and pierced me. It existed just for me.” – testimony taken from Kimberly Clark Sharp’s Near Death Experience
    http://www.near-death.com/sharp.html

    video – Howard Storm continues to share his gripping story of his own near death experience. Today, he picks up just as Jesus was rescuing him from the horrors of Hell and carrying him into the glories of Heaven.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....KvFrYYsE31

    Of note:

    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
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin....._gydvW8jbI

    All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’, while having a deep NDE, have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    Near-death experiencers who have actually seen the brilliant light and experienced the ecstatic love, know without a doubt they have seen God. Once they enter into the light of God, they never want to leave.
    http://www.near-death.com/expe.....rch21.html

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

    further notes;

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: 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

    Another very interesting point about the Shroud is, since the Shroud had to be extremely close to the body when the image was made, I mean ‘extremely close’ as to mean in an order of a few inches as opposed to a few, or several, feet as was once suggested by the camera obscura method proposed to be used by DaVinci, and also considering the lack of any distinctive shadow patterns on the image, it is apparent the only place this supernatural light could have possibly come from, that made the image on the Shroud, was directly from the body itself ! Yes, you read that last sentence right:

    THE SOURCE OF LIGHT WAS THE BODY ITSELF !!!

    God’s crowning achievement for this universe was not when He created this universe. God’s crowning achievement for this universe was when He Himself inhabited the human body He had purposely created the whole universe for, to sanctify human beings unto Himself through the death and resurrection of his “Son” Jesus Christ. This is truly something which should fill anyone who reads this with awe. The wonder of it all is something I can scarcely begin to understand much less write about. Thus, I will finish this article with a scripture.

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    “Since we, God’s children, are human beings – made of flesh and blood – He became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.”

  241. WJM@239,

    I used the word “qualified” to acknowledge your “inasmuch as principles of logic allow.” However, the problem is that it is unclear that the principles of logic allow such traits as omniscience and omnipotence. And of course, if you add too much qualification and make God the servant of logic, then the ontological argument goes out the proverbial window.

    But the main point, if you must address only one, is that I have not simply pointed you “towards a website full of atheistic arguments.” I have given you the means and resources to see for yourself that atheism is a tenable position for an intellectually honest, rational, and informed person. And what’s more, it’s no longer correct or proper for anyone to say as you do that “The belief that god does not exist…or that it isn’t more likely that god exists than not, can only be a position based on ignorance of the available evidence and argument for god, or a hyper-skeptical, intellectually dishonest, ideologically biased, a priori dismissal of all of the evidence for the existence of god.”

    I understand your argument on China, that the aggregated weight of people seeming to say that such a place exists is good enough for you. If I interpret you correctly, you are saying that individual testimonies (of angels, say) may be flawed or outright frauds but the sheer number of similar stories makes it likely that something like angels themselves do in fact exist.

    Let me know if I have this right. If so, I hope you understand that I think there are good reasons not to subscribe to your argument.

  242. LT, you seem to be much more impressed with your referenced site than is warranted. For instance I noticed a picture about half way down the page:

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/wp-cont.....theism.jpg

    Now LT, are you really going to sit here and say that Naturalists, after being drug kicking and screaming to the reality of a creation event of the entire universe, have anything close to coherent answer to the creation event of the Big Bang? If you believe they do you are hopelessly whistling in the dark. You may play word games in your imagination is you wish but it is just plain metaphysical folly to hold that they are coherent in their formulation!

  243. BA77,

    Now LT, are you really going to sit here and say that Naturalists … have anything close to coherent answer to the creation event of the Big Bang?

    No, I won’t say this because it’s irrelevant to WJM’s OP, which is strictly about the positive case for atheism.

    Now, I don’t know what question about the Big Bang you think needs answering; maybe you’ll enlighten me. But are you saying theists already have the coherent answer to the problem? If so, is the answer settled and done or are there, just possibly, open questions about one or more aspects?

  244. Andre @228: effect greater than the cause

    Could you define ‘greater’ ?

  245. LarTanner (241): “I have given you the means and resources to see for yourself that atheism is a tenable position for an intellectually honest, rational, and informed person.”

    ‘Logically incoherency’ is out. So which atheistic arguments remain valid?

  246. 246

    LT said:

    And what’s more, it’s no longer correct or proper for anyone to say as you do that “The belief that god does not exist…or that it isn’t more likely that god exists than not, can only be a position based on ignorance of the available evidence and argument for god, or a hyper-skeptical, intellectually dishonest, ideologically biased, a priori dismissal of all of the evidence for the existence of god.”

    I hold that it is, based on an objective examination of the accumulative evidence and argument for both positions.

    Note that I’m not saying that this proves that god exists, any more than an aggregate acceptance of accumulative evidence and argument proves that the Earth is the center of the universe; but in the presence of such a glacier of testimony, evidence and argument, one requires clear and definite evidence for heliocentrism to balance or tip the scales in the other direction. We do not have such evidence for atheism that can balance the scales and then tip them in favor of atheism.

    Note, I didn’t argue that agnosticism wasn’t a rationally tenable position.

    Let me know if I have this right. If so, I hope you understand that I think there are good reasons not to subscribe to your argument.

    It’s not people “seeming” to say it; they say it. History is full and replete with testimony and anecdote that support the existence of a god of some sort, which I’ve boiled down for my premise, throwing out (more or less) the “dirty bathwater” (and probably some clean) to keep the baby in the crib for debate.

    Let’s also remember that I’m not claiming that it’s not rational to doubt the existence of god based on good arguments to the contrary; but doubt just cannot carry the house from one side of the divide to the other – not rationally, anyway.

    I would like to hear your rebuttal to my China analogy, though.

  247. Graham You are kidding right? The question is simple, can effects be greater than their causes?

  248. WJM,

    The rebuttal to your China analogy is that testimony of China’s existence is different than testimony of God’s existence.

    For instance, how many testimonials do you know of human beings who have had the direct, personal face-to-face interaction with the God you define in the OP?

    I’m looking for the anecdotal evidence of having met that particular and singular being you have define. Not Jesus. Not the Holy Spirit. Not angels. Not demons. Not witches. Not Nature. Only the God you define.

    So, let’s start with the testimonial evidence of direct interaction with God.

  249. BA77,

    Better watch out for that American Vision outfit, they’re preterists. :)

  250. With #248 LarTanner is now officially reaching for straws.

  251. Andre: Im back at work now, so I dont have much time for games.

    Could you give a simple exapmple to illustrate the point ?

  252. LT you state in 237:

    “One of the positive arguments for atheism is that the God you define (a definition that includes qualified omniscience, omnipotence, and such) is logically incoherent as a concept.,,,, there are several families of argumentation presenting positive cases for atheism being the actual state of the universe.”

    To which I submit that your perceived logical incoherency of Theism is not really a logical incoherency at all but that,,,

    “the “paradox” is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality “ought to be.”
    Richard Feynman, in The Feynman Lectures on Physics, vol III, p. 18-9 (1965)

    In other words the logical incoherency arises not from how reality is actually structured, but how you, as a naturalist, imagine reality ought to be structured

    “It is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. In fact, some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it is that it is unquestionably correct.”
    Michio Kaku, in Hyperspace (1995), p. 263

    But to counter the charge of incoherency for a omniscient, omnipotent Being (God) to account for reality, I want to draw a few pieces of evidence from my earlier posts on “Quantum Evidence for a Theistic Universe”. One piece of evidence I submitted was:

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Now many naturalists have tried to say that this infinite dimensional Hilbert space that describes the wave function of each photon particle is merely abstract (I guess it is logically incoherent for them to imagine that an actual infinity exists), but recent work has verified the reality of this infinite dimensional Hilbert space:

    Direct measurement of the quantum wavefunction – June 2011
    Excerpt: The wavefunction is the complex distribution used to completely describe a quantum system, and is central to quantum theory. But despite its fundamental role, it is typically introduced as an abstract element of the theory with no explicit definition.,,, Here we show that the wavefunction can be measured directly by the sequential measurement of two complementary variables of the system. The crux of our method is that the first measurement is performed in a gentle way through weak measurement so as not to invalidate the second. The result is that the real and imaginary components of the wavefunction appear directly on our measurement apparatus. We give an experimental example by directly measuring the transverse spatial wavefunction of a single photon, a task not previously realized by any method.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....10120.html

    ,,,The following paper mathematically corroborated the preceding experiment and cleaned up some pretty nasty probabilistic incongruities that arose from a purely statistical interpretation, i.e. it seems that stacking a ‘random infinity’, (parallel universes to explain quantum wave collapse), on top of another ‘random infinity’, to try to explain quantum entanglement (within parallel universes), leads to irreconcilable mathematical absurdities within quantum mechanics:,,,

    Quantum Theory’s ‘Wavefunction’ Found to Be Real Physical Entity: Scientific American – November 2011
    Excerpt: David Wallace, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford, UK, says that the theorem is the most important result in the foundations of quantum mechanics that he has seen in his 15-year professional career. “This strips away obscurity and shows you can’t have an interpretation of a quantum (wave) state as probabilistic,” he says.
    http://www.scientificamerican......vefunction

    The quantum (wave) state cannot be interpreted statistically – November 2011
    http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1111.3328

    ,,,It is also interesting to note that the following experiment actually encoded information into a photon while it was in its quantum wave state, thus destroying the notion, held by many, that the wave function was not ‘physically real’ but was merely ‘abstract’. i.e. How can information possibly be encoded into something that is not physically real but merely abstract?,,,

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

    Information In Photon – Robert W. Boyd – slides from presentation
    http://www.quantumphotonics.uo.....-InPho.pdf

    Information in a Photon – Robert W. Boyd – 2010
    Excerpt: By its conventional definition, a photon is one unit of excitation of a mode of the electromagnetic field. The modes of the electromagnetic field constitute a countably infinite set of basis functions, and in this sense the amount of information that can be impressed onto an individual photon is unlimited.
    http://www.pqeconference.com/p.....td/013.pdf

    Moreover, the naturalist simply has no way to get behind ‘infinitely fast’ correlations found within quantum mechanics:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

  253. To WJ Murray:
    No one has taken my “challenge” in this thread (#152, 164, 173). Perhaps you would.
    Scripture is often sited on this blog and if it wasn’t I wouldn’t present it. ALL the arguments/positions presented so far attempting to answer your question from analyzing the natural World – Universe are fine, but apparently not good enough. I present one that is from “nature” (space time fulfillment of a plethora of exact and wide ranging prophecies), but from “beyond nature” presenting inescapable proof of a divine Creator. Yes and in this specifically eyes to see and ears to hear apply most profoundly, but still this evidence is surely beyond debate. This burning bush is just too hot for the natural mind/heart. I am saying the many fulfilled and exact prophecies eliminate any possibility of atheism being rational and vise versa – theism can be totally rational if fact rather than religious philosophy is the foundation for it.

  254. But it gets more interesting LT. This infinite dimensional quantum wave state, which requires a infinite amount of information to describe it properly, and which can, theoretically, be encoded with an infinite amount of information, is found to collapse to just a single bit of information:

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (consciously observed) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1) ,,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    Moreover, consciousness is found to precede wave collapse to a single bit state:

    Logical Proofs of Infinite External Consciousness – January 18, 2012
    Excerpt: (Proof # 2) If you believe in the theory of Quantum Mechanics, then you believe that conscious observation must be present to collapse a wave function. If consciousness did not exist prior to matter coming into existence, then it is impossible that matter could ever come into existence. Additionally, this rules out the possibility that consciousness is the result of quantum mechanical processes. Either consciousness existed before matter or QM is wrong, one or the other is indisputably true.
    http://www.libertariannews.org.....ciousness/

    Now, I find the preceding to be absolutely fascinating! A photon, in its quantum wave state, is found to be mathematically defined as a ‘infinite-dimensional’ state, which ‘requires an infinite amount of information’ to describe it properly, can be encoded with information in its ‘infinite dimensional’ state, and this ‘infinite dimensional’ photon is found to collapse, instantaneously, and thus ‘non-locally’, to just a ’1 or 0? state, out of a infinite number of possibilities that the photon could have collapsed to instead! Moreover, consciousness is found to precede the collapse of the wavefunction to its particle state. Now my question to materialistic atheists is this, “Exactly what ’cause’ has been postulated throughout history to be completely independent of any space-time constraints, as well as possessing infinite knowledge, so as to be the ‘sufficient cause’ to explain what we see in the quantum wave collapse of a photon???

    Now LT you may think this is ‘logically incoherent’ but all I can say is ‘deal with it’ because this is the way reality actually is:

    Verse and Music:

    John 1:1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    God of Wonders by Third Day – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CBNE25rtnE

  255. Re. “fact” in last sentence – fact of this special nature rather than etc.

  256. LarTanner 248:
    Good example: You define yourself right out of what you say you are seeking by being ONLY “natural” – If you really WANT what you ask – Find and study the indisputable evidence provided by that “Person” in the exact and extensive prophetic fulfillment. You may meet him in this way, but it won’t, and can’t in the “way” you want. True prophecy is beyond nature and serves a true seeker to see beyond the confines of his own intellect, ideas, beliefs, desires even….but it is HOT!

  257. 257

    LarTanner asks:

    For instance, how many testimonials do you know of human beings who have had the direct, personal face-to-face interaction with the God you define in the OP?

    I would guess the same number of people that have had a face-to face interaction with China; zero. Even when you’re in China, that you’re actually in China can only be inferred from your understanding of what it would be like. It’s not like China can answer questions. People experience god, I suggest, in much the same way they experience China. Or in much the same way they experience love. Or color. Or joy. Or logic. Or morality.

    Also, interactions with god-like beings (Jesus, White Buffalo Woman, etc.) count as far as #7 is concerned, just as experiences of people claiming to be chinese or of chinese descent count. It tends to support the central premise.

    I wonder if you would answer a question for me: why work so hard trying to undermine the evidence for god? From your belief system point of view, what’s the point?

  258. 258

    Alan,

    Via my argument here, fulfilled prophecy from those speaking on behalf of god only tends to support the conclusion (that it isn’t rational to be an athiest given consideration of available evidence and argument).

    Outside of that, I don’t hold myself qualified to speak on the subject of scripture. KF and BA are far wiser and more informed than I about scripture and the reasoning and rationale surrounding it and its importance in Christian philosophy/doctrine.

  259. LarTanner

    “So, let’s start with the testimonial evidence of direct interaction with God.”

    I’ve posted this on here once before, and don’t suppose anyone will look at it, but I came face to face with God in a drugs rehab in 2006. I have just recently published a book about my life, and how meeting God transformed my heart and mind.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Design.....038;sr=1-1

  260. F/N: I have a moment again, so let me address the attemp0ts to dismiss the Plantinga free will defense.

    When the attempts move beyond vague we have an objection claims — an objection is not a warrant — they usually pivot on misreading a defense as a theodicy. Then, the idea is that since I reject or deride one or more terms the argument fails.

    Mistake.

    (Usually, piled on the further error of failing to address the Boethius point: if no God, whence good? Until atheists can ground morality, good and evil objectively on a foundational IS in their views, they should not be allowed to appeal to the problem of evil. Attempts to appeal to infinite regresses or circular patterns fail (as has been discussed elsewhere circles cannot ground anything and infinite regresses cannot be traversed by warranting step by step), and so the first problem atheists need to answer is whether they have a right to the argument at all.)

    The pivot of the atheistical claim on the problem of evil is that there is an incoherence in the claimed nature of God. That is, there are elements that affirm and deny one and the same claim, or imply such.

    That is extremely stringent, and it opens the way to the strategy Plantinga exploits. If claims X1, X2, . . . Xn are thought to be self contradictory, but some augmenting claim E can be added and then the set {X1, . . . Xn} now is seen to be consistent with E, the original set cannot be inconsistent, so long as E is itself a coherent logical possibility — there is a possible world in which E AND {X1, . . . Xn} holds means that {X1, . . . Xn} must be coherent. Possibility, not plausibility to a skeptical mind. We can call this the missing piece solution or strategy, from its resemblance to a way to solve a jigsaw puzzle.

    So, in a skeletal nutshell, here is how Plantinga uses the strategy — I am of course summarising a much more complex deployment in a full bore technical phil presentation by a former president of the American Philosophers Association. A presentation that won the grudging acknowledgement of champions of the incoherence argument:

    ____________

    >> Plantinga’s free-will defense, in a skeletal form, allows us to effectively address the problem. For, it is claimed that the following set of theistic beliefs embed an unresolvable contradiction:

    1. God exists
    2. God is omnipotent – all powerful
    3. God is omniscient – all-knowing
    4. God is omni-benevolent – all-good
    5. God created the world
    6. The world contains evil

    To do so, there is an implicit claim that, (2a) if he exists, God is omnipotent and so capable of — but obviously does not eliminate — evil. So, at least one of 2 – 5 should be surrendered. But all of these claims are central to the notion of God, so it is held that the problem is actually 1.

    Therefore, NOT-1: God does not exist.

    However, it has been pointed out by Plantinga and others that:

    2a is not consistent with what theists actually believe: if the elimination of some evil would lead to a worse evil, or prevent the emergence of a greater good, then God might have a good reason to permit some evil in the cosmos.

    Specifically, what if “many evils result from human free will or from the fact that our universe operates under natural laws or from the fact that humans exist in a setting that fosters soul-making . . . [and that such a world] contains more good than a world that does not” ?

    In this case, Theists propose that 2a should be revised: 2b: “A good, omnipotent God will eliminate evil as far as he can without either losing a greater good or bringing about a greater evil.” But, once this is done, the alleged contradiction collapses.

    Further, Alvin Plantinga – through his free will defense — was able to show that the theistic set is actually consistent. He did this by augmenting the set with a further proposition that is logically possible (as opposed to seeming plausible to one who may be committed to another worldview) and which makes the consistency clear.

    That proposition, skeletally, is 5a: “God created a world (potentially) containing evil; and has a good reason for doing so.” Propositions 1, 2b, 3, 4, and 5a are plainly consistent, and entail 6.

    The essence of that defense is:

    “A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures . . . God can create free creatures, but he can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For . . . then they aren’t significantly free after all . . . He could only have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.” [NB: This assumes that moral good reflects the power of choice: if we are merely robots carrying out programs, then we cannot actually love, be truthful, etc.] [From: Clark, Kelley James. Return to Reason. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 69 – 70, citing Plantinga, God, Freedom and Evil, (Eerdmans, 1974), p. 30.]

    Nor is the possible world known as heaven a good counter-example. For, heaven would exist as a world in which the results of choices made to live by the truth in love across a lifetime have culminated in their eternal reward. This we may see from an argument made by the apostle Paul:

    Rom 2:6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 78 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. [NIV]

    Anticipating the onward response that in at least some possible worlds, there are free creatures, all of whom freely do what is right, Plantinga asserts a further possibility: trans-world depravity. That is, in all worlds God could create in which a certain person, say Gordon, exists; then that person would have freely gone wrong at least once. And, what if it is further possible that this holds for every class of created, morally capable being? (Then, there would be no possible worlds in which moral good is possible but in which moral evil would not in fact occur. So the benefit of moral good would entail that the world would contain transworld depraved creatures.)

    Moreover, Plantinga proposes that there is a possible state of affairs in which God and natural evil can exist.

    For instance, if all natural evils are the result of the actions of significantly free creatures such as Satan and his minions, then since it is logically possible that God could not have created a world with a greater balance of good over evil if it did not contain such creatures, God and natural evil are compatible.

    At this point, albeit grudgingly, leading atheologians (Such as Mackie and Williams) concede that the deductive form of the problem of evil stands overturned. Thus, a new question is put on the table.

    It is: But what if the world seems to contain too much evil, and evil that is apparently pointless, i.e. gratuitous?

    First, the greater good “absorbs” at least some of the evils. To this, the Christian Theist further responds that there are goods in the world that are left out of the account so far; especially, that the fall of mankind led to the greatest good of all: that God loved the world and gave his Son, setting in motion the programme of redemption as a supreme good that absorbs all evils. That is, it is rational for a Christian to believe there are no unabsorbed evils, even though the atheologian may beg to differ with the Christian’s beliefs.

    However, it should be noted that there is an existential or pastoral form of the problem of evil (as we saw above): where the overwhelming force of evil and pain brings us to doubt God. To that, no mere rational argument will suffice; for it is a life-challenge we face, as did Job. And, as a perusal of Job 23:1 – 7, 38:1 – 7, 40:1 – 8, 42:1 – 6, God may be more interested in exposing our underlying motives and calling for willingness to trust him even where we cannot trace him, than in satisfying our queries and rebutting our pained accusations. That is, it is at least possible that God is primarily in the business of soul-making. >>
    _____________

    Remember, this all pivots on a crucial distinction between a theodicy and a defense [which takes the common skeptical demand for plausibility to "me" off the table], and the way that we can show a set of [propositions to be coherent by augmenting them, i.e. often by constructing a logically possible model world in which these propositions are seen to cohere. Typically, such is an “explanation,” but that is not always so.

    I trust that this outline will prove helpful as a summary of a complex argument.

    KF

  261. Peter, I looked at your testimony and I believe you.

  262. 262
    Kantian Naturalist

    The conversation seems to have moved on quite a bit here, so I will wait for another opportunity to engage with Stephen’s objection to nominalism @ 209, though I believe I can meet it. Whether or not I can actually meet it, of course, is a separate issue.

    However, William Murray’s objections @ 221 are, I believe, pre-empted by my remarks @ 166. I did not claim that we are our brains, and I consider it quite foolish to identify oneself with one’s brain. As I emphasized at 166, I qua perceiving, acting, and thinking being am an embodied person, a rational animal, not a brain.

    A brain is a part of an animal, and a well-functioning brain is part of a well-functioning animal, and a brain that encodes social and linguistic norms is part of a rational animal. I could not think if I did not have a brain, but I could not digest good if I did not have a stomach. Brains don’t think; it is animals who think, and brains are part of how thinking happens. As thinking animals, our brains are constantly receiving information from our social and physical environments and use that information to modify their mediation between sensory input and motor output. The social environments of large-brained primates include implicit norms and rules, and with the acquisition of language comes the ability to render those norms explicit, to consider whether and how they might be revised, and so on. The norms that it seems impossible to use to revise are called “principles” or sometimes “laws”.

    So I really don’t think that a commitment to rationalism is incompatible with naturalism; put otherwise, I don’t think that one must be committed to theism in metaphysics in order to explain rationalism in epistemology.

    As my motivations and purposes: I don’t think that theism is irrational, or unsupported by evidence, or what-have-you. I’m quite fond of my theistic parents and friends. I’ve been in serious relationships with people of faith. So I’m not out to heckle or harass theists, or argue that they’re wrong to believe that they do, or whatever. My agenda is to argue that atheism/naturalism does not “shirk any epistemic burdens,” to use Plantinga’s lovely phrase — that it is not less reasonable than theism — nor is it any more reasonable. Considered philosophically, theism and atheism are on a par.

    I’d imagine that this would be welcome news to those who are religious on Kierkegaardian or Jamesian grounds, but perhaps there is no one here who answers to that description.

  263. @ PeterJ

    Amen brother!

    What about all the testimonial evidence of people coming face to face with evil?

    I posted (post #12) a link to an article in which I find to be compelling evidence to the existence of evil, the very same evil recorded in scripture that Jesus and the Apostles often dealt with.

    Can’t help but post this link to Chris Tomlin’s song “Awake My Soul” because I feel that over the last few years, that’s exactley what God’s done in my life…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALW1AwdKEnM

  264. WJM@257

    I would guess the same number of people that have had a face-to face interaction with China; zero. Even when you’re in China, that you’re actually in China can only be inferred from your understanding of what it would be like. It’s not like China can answer questions. People experience god, I suggest, in much the same way they experience China. Or in much the same way they experience love. Or color. Or joy. Or logic. Or morality.

    Are you trying to move the goalposts? I asked a very simple, straightforward question about direct, first-hand experience with God himself. You’ve answered zero, no one has seen God (although the Torah says that Moses saw God in person, and there are some other scriptural vagaries that could be brought in). We agree!

    Now, for a refresher, here’s what you said about China in #239:

    I’ve never been to China. I will likely never go to China. I consider the aggregate amount of testimony of people that have been there, mapmakers, and the overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence available that support a conclusion that China exists to be sufficient for a finding of “China more likely exists than not” without having to examine any individual testimony or grill any individual about their supposed “China experience” – even if many different people describe China in very different terms.

    Here, you accept having set foot in China as acceptable first-hand experience and evidence of there being such a place. There’s no waffling around “experiencing” China as if it were love or a ham sandwich.

    So, we can say that between the two of us, the total number of testimony that says “I’ve seen and met God” amounts to Moses and PeterJ in #259.

    To add insult to injury, you’re creating a new category of “god-like” beings. That category is undefined in the OP, and it seems like a separate question to rationally accept or reject the existence of god-like beings.

    Surely, onlookers see all the mental and emotional gymnastics involved in holding on to a God concept that actually seems to have very, very little testimonial support. Yet you maintain that atheism is rationally untenable.

    Tell me, are all the people who have not met God face-to-face to be counted as evidence against the being existing?

    Finally, you ask:

    why work so hard trying to undermine the evidence for god? From your belief system point of view, what’s the point?

    Sorry, but it seems like you are asking the question out of desperation. I’m not actually working so hard at it. You said that atheism was rationally untenable, I joined the discussion to take the opposing view.

    From my point of view, the point of the discussion is rooting around the details. Kairosfocus hates when I want to look at details and ask questions. He says over and again that I’m playing word games and seeking to distract. But I find the details most fascinating of all. Perhaps that’s why I gravitated to textual scholarship in early medieval texts: the most boring part of the most boring part of scholarship.

    I like the details, and I find very often that when we look at the details, what we find is they usually don’t allow the kinds of grand inferences that people like to make. They sit there, ugly and brutish, waiting for someone to spin a magical, mystical narrative from them.

  265. PJ: I add, when my mom reached desperation and I was at death’s door due to childhood asthma, a miracle of guidance led her tot he doctor who saved my life. A doctor we probably would never have heard of otherwise. Looking back across 40 years, that probably was pivotal in my mom’s conversion and my own — that reaffirmed my sense that God had a hand on my life which dated to when I was 5 or so and had a Samuel as a child type experience. And that is just the beginning. I am aware that there are many skeptical types who will dismiss any and all such testimonies, but to do so in aggregate they are sawing off the branch on which we must all sit. And, at this stage in cultures like my own, where there is enough openness to discuss such and a culture in which it is realised that a LOT of people have had such experiences and have been healed (which most doctors accept as happening today), delivered from bondages of all sorts and so forth, skeptical dismissals sound decidedly hollow. For me, ID is NOT about proving God is real, that is something I have known since I was 5, and really never doubted before. KF

  266. @PeterJ

    I’m in Canada and do not currently own a Kindle device, how else can I obtain a copy of your book?

    Thanks

    K

  267. @Kantian Naturalist

    Kantian Naturalist: “I did not claim that we are our brains, and I consider it quite foolish to identify oneself with one’s brain. As I emphasized at 166, I qua perceiving, acting, and thinking being am an embodied person, a rational animal, not a brain.”

    Your ideas are unexpected. What is the location of your “I”?

    Kantian Naturalist: “I could not think if I did not have a brain, but I could not digest good if I did not have a stomach. Brains don’t think; it is animals who think, (…)”

    You seem to be arguing for agency (“I”) at the level of the ‘embodied person’ as a whole. Or do I get you wrong?

  268. 268
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Box @ 267

    Your ideas are unexpected. What is the location of your “I”?

    I am wherever my body is. Right now I am seated at my desk in my apartment. I don’t think of “the I” as being somewhere inside my body; “I” am my body, as a living thing.

    I don’t make any claims for originality, really. My ideas are mostly based on Merleau-Ponty and Wilfrid Sellars. My main contribution is that no one has tried to synthesize the ideas of those two philosophers. Among post-Sellarsian philosophers, I’ve been influenced in approximately equal measure by Churchland and Brandom.

    You seem to be arguing for agency (“I”) at the level of the ‘embodied person’ as a whole. Or do I get you wrong?

    That’s exactly what I’m arguing for! :)

  269. kairosfocus:

    F/N: Blackwell Companion to nat theol, at Amazon, paper — hard cover is over US$ 200 [I guess, mostly for libraries . . . I could buy the soft cover and get it hard bound for a lot less [or could even pull my volume on the topic of book binding and try my hand . . . ])

    If you can pull my email address from my profile, or get someone to do it for you, and send me an email with your mailing address I’ll send you a copy. Paperback.

    You’ll have to get it hard-bound yourself. :)

  270. KN states:

    ““I” am my body”

    Yet:

    ,,If ““I” am my body” as KN holds, then if half of a person’s brain were removed, then the ‘I’ in ““I” am my body” should be less of a “I” as they were before, but that is not the case. The whole ‘I’ in ““I” am my body” stays intact even though the brain suffers severe impairment:

    Miracle Of Mind-Brain Recovery Following Hemispherectomies – Dr. Ben Carson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994585/

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    Thus KN suffers empirical failure once again for his worldview!

    Behold KN’s forthcoming sophistry Box :)

  271. @Kantian Naturalist – 268
    You are the most ‘spiritual’ naturalist I have ever encountered. You are demanding a very special role for consciousness despite the narrow boundaries of physicalism. In this internal struggle you are very persistent and at the same time it is not always understandable how this ambition will fit.
    Maybe one day you will decide to release yourself from the shackles of naturalism. Maybe that’s why you feel drawn to people of faith.

  272. Following up on my last comment before I had back to work for the rest of the evening. Assume we imagine God’s existence or non-existence is equiprobable:

    Given that we have but two testimonials out of all humanity that say “I have actually encountered God in person,” is the existence of God more or less likely than our baseline? Less likely, I say.

    Plus, given that we have no unambiguous first-hand testimonials from God himself saying “I exist” (Torah included), is the existence of God more or less likely than our baseline? Less likely, again.

    Everything else is a footnote. Thank you for the discussion. I hope my points have provoked you to take the atheist position and the body of atheist philosophy more seriously than before.

  273. Well LT, let’s say that we take the atheistic position and the Theistic position as equiprobable.

    Given that epistemological failure is 100% certain in the atheistic/materialistic worldview yet finding 100% certainty is not possible in the atheistic worldview, then I am 100% certain the Theistic worldview is correct and the Atheistic worldview is incorrect.

    Thanks for playing probabilities with me.

  274. 274
    Kantian Naturalist

    ,If ““I” am my body” as KN holds, then if half of a person’s brain were removed, then the ‘I’ in ““I” am my body” should be less of a “I” as they were before, but that is not the case. The whole ‘I’ in ““I” am my body” stays intact even though the brain suffers severe impairment.

    That hardly disproves anything I’ve been talking about. All it shows is that certain very simplistic and crude hypotheses about cognitive localization are false.

    You are the most ‘spiritual’ naturalist I have ever encountered. You are demanding a very special role for consciousness despite the narrow boundaries of physicalism. In this internal struggle you are very persistent and at the same time it is not always understandable how this ambition will fit.

    I’m interested in exploring philosophical options that are not confined by the matter/mind dichotomy. I believe that this dichotomy inherits all the problems of Manichaeanism.

    If one begins with this dichotomy in place at the fundamental level, then one is limited to the following options: materialism/physicalism, idealism/phenomenalism, and dualism. I don’t believe that any of those views are ultimately tenable, and part of the reason why is because they presuppose an untenable dichotomy between mind and matter. I believe that we need a much richer set of basic concepts to start off with in order to build an adequate metaphysical system.

    Maybe one day you will decide to release yourself from the shackles of naturalism. Maybe that’s why you feel drawn to people of faith.

    Maybe! :)

  275. WJM 258: “rationale surrounding it and its importance in Christian philosophy/doctrine.”
    My point is that the historical fulfillment of precise functional complex information given prior to the taking place of that information is NOT PHILOSOPHY and it goes will beyond mathematical probability – statistical
    computations.
    As far as trying to see God or have an “encounter” like PeterJ portents which is highly subjective and speculative not to mention rare in human experiences thus doubtful in the conclusions drawn on many levels and not such good advise to LarTanner as a means to encounter or see God, the precision of fulfilled pre-stated information provides a true rational basis for Theism. The natural information within the material world can point to, but can not do what
    can (not necessarily though – a different subject re. revelation) happen via prophecy of the unique nature and detail of pre-Christ information fulfilled to the letter.
    I don’t have much hope my point will be taken anyway for revealed reasons, but I felt moved to for some strange non rational reason (the natural man perceives the things of the Spirit” etc, but there goes hope for ya… remember all you Christians – its the Word that is effective, NOT all these natural arguments from nature as they just leave those so inclined “without excuse.”

  276. WJM 258: “rationale surrounding it and its importance in Christian philosophy/doctrine.” -
    My point is that the historical fulfillment of precise functional complex information given prior to the taking place of that information is NOT PHILOSOPHY and it goes will beyond mathematical probability – statistical
    computations.
    As far as trying to see God or have an “encounter” like PeterJ portents which is highly subjective and speculative not to mention rare in human experiences thus doubtful in the conclusions drawn on many levels and not such good advise to LarTanner as a means to encounter or see God, the precision of fulfilled pre-stated information provides a true rational basis for Theism. The natural information within the material world can point to, but can not do what
    can (not necessarily though – a different subject re. revelation) happen via prophecy of the unique nature and detail of pre-Christ information fulfilled to the letter.
    I don’t have much hope my point will be taken anyway for revealed reasons, but I felt moved to for some strange non rational reason (the natural man perceives the things of the Spirit” etc, but there goes hope for ya… remember all you Christians – its the Word that is effective, NOT all these natural arguments from nature as they just leave those so inclined “without excuse.”

  277. 277

    LarTanner said:

    I hope my points have provoked you to take the atheist position and the body of atheist philosophy more seriously than before.

    You mean, more seriously than when I was an atheist, for many years, and argued that case vigorously? Just because I disagree with you, and have a different view of the ultimate rationality of the atheistic position, doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously; I take it very seriously.

    Sorry, but it seems like you are asking the question out of desperation.

    I asked asked the question because it interests me as to why people (notably, atheistic materialists) argue against theism – I wasn’t trying to keep you from arguing against it out of concern for the condition of my argument.

    I’m satisfied with the current state of our particular debate, and I also found it quite enjoyable.

  278. Graham 2 Cause and effect….

    Take a row of domino’s that you push over… what is greater? The cause (pushing the domino’s over) or the effect? (falling over of the domino’s)

    Give it some thought and lets chat about it!

  279. Kf,

    Thank you for sharing your testimony and for standing with me. It’s very much appreciated as I’m sure it lays you open to attack, as I’ve seen happen on many occassions to those who contribute to the running of this forum when they take this stance. Bless you.

    KRock,

    Thank you for your interest. I’m fairly sure that you can download a Kindle App for your computer, and therefore you could recieve it that way.

    Failing that the only other way would be to contact my local Christian Bookstore. I will provide a link below.

    http://www.ttcb.org.uk/?page_id=100

    Thanks again.

    Ps. Only last week i wrote a letter to my local paper (The Shetland Times) after a barrage, it seemed , of very anti-Christian articles in various local media outlets. The letter itslef has now been produced on their website and it has of course stirred up many people. I will post a link here. Well … it’s good for a laugh if nothing else.

    http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk.....n#comments

  280. You may need to scroll up to read the article when opening link. PJ

  281. LT:

    We have just two testimonies of encountering God in person?

    [Are you speaking of Saul of Tarsus and Pascal? If so, you are leaving off, just off the bat: Peter, James and John, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Moshe, Abraham and Elijah, simply from the foundational record behind the Judaeo-Christian view. All of these are on record in the most easily accessible book from classical times, which happens to be foundational to our civilisation.)

    Where did you get that idea, please explain?

    Just for one more instance, are you aware of the movement among Muslim peoples based on visionary encounters with Jesus of Nazareth?

    Are you aware of the many people in our own civilisation and even this day and age who have had Damascus road experiences or Samuel-type experiences or encounters with God through miracles of deliverance, guidance, healing, revelation, confrontation leading to change of life and more, much more?

    Just in this thread, PJ has had a Damascus Road encounter, and I have had a Samuel experience. I am also alive because of a miracle of guidance that led us to the doctor who saved my life, in answer to my mom's tear-stained prayer of surrender of my life to God after she reached breaking point, having nursed me through yet another desperate night. (There was another night they tell me of, of rushing me to hospital to be treated as an emergency, that I have no recall of whatsoever; I must have been too far gone, maybe status asthmaticus.)

    I should add, from my grad student days, the account of one of my friends, daughter of a pentecostal bishop and a Jamaica Scholar who was a clinical medical student, and all around lovely young lady of the first rank.

    Ovarian cysts that were suddenly discovered late, and were suspected to be bad news indeed, type-C bad, bad news. Prayer by here home church, and by friends. By the time that the first exploratory interventions were to be taken vanished.

    There are so many cases of healings in response to prayer in my homeland that when I had a resurgence of asthma due to the kicking-up of our friend to the south here and the ash, that when I told a medical doc during a workplace checkup that my asthma had last surged due to this and came back under control when I was called out by name for prayer at my second home church in Barbados (by my former Sunday school teachers) -- I had not responded to the call for sick people to come forward for prayer -- she responded that they hear that sort of thing all the time, and it is not surprising news that this sort of healing happens.

    We could go on and on, but the point is that here are so many cases of people's lives transformed in diverse ways due to encounters with God in one form or another, that the dismissal of all these, becomes a questioning of the credibility of the human mind as a means to know and understand or analyse the real world.

    But then, that is the same issue that simply comes up from the evolutionary materialist account of the origin of mind, as was already pointed to above, at was it 146? [yes.]

    KF

  282. PJ:

    I am one of God’s draftees, not a volunteer!

    (Believe it or not, I fought God’s known call on my life, through an extended period of being “under conviction,” until the night when I was beaten in the battle of wills and surrendered. That’s another story for another day, but it should count as another personal encounter with God in my life: my private battle of wills with God. I lost, He won, and so I won. [And, I am not a Calvinist!])

    Looking at your announcement and the reactions, it is clear that there is a presumption of scientism at work, and a tendency to resort to snide dismissals. Much as just happened when I had the temerity to post the West video on C S Lewis.

    I see too that the people involved do not understand the underlying bigotry involved in Dawkins’ sneer about “ignorant, stupid, insane (or, wicked . . .)”.

    A pity.

    Let me clip a particularly significant case:

    we treat people who hear voices and claim to talk with gods in one of two ways depending on the amount they shout in the streets. Mr [PJ] is still restricting himself to rambling in the newspaper so we should not try and talk him out of it. Suffice to say that his fellow believers until recently claimed the earth was only a few thousand years old and that dianasors where a test of faith. As usual religion has been playing catch up to science and reason.

    Oh, dear:

    1 –> Apparently, this interlocutor has not understood the biggest gap of all in evolutionary materialist views on origins of the minded embodied creatures that we represent, i.e where does that “I” that has a unified, personal, conscious, continuing experience come from, where is it grounded, and how can we have reasonable confidence in the veridicality of our perceptions.

    2 –> The problem, in a nutshell, is not hearing disembodied voices in the head or seeing spirits, it is hearing and seeing and perceiving consciously and at all being able to have a conversation with the other.

    3 –> in short, I here allude to the hard problem of consciousness (where, we must never forget, consciousness is our first fact, the fact through which we perceive all other facts — rendering this the first problem of all). As Wikipedia once had it aptly summed up:

    “The term hard problem of consciousness, coined by David Chalmers[1], refers to the “hard problem” of explaining why we have qualitative phenomenal experiences.”

    4 –> For, as Ned Block observes in an article for The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science:

    The Hard Problem of consciousness is how to explain a state of consciousness in terms of its neurological basis . . . . There are many perspectives on the Hard Problem but I will mention only the four that comport with a naturalistic framework . . . . Eliminativism . . . . Philosophical Reductionism or Deflationism . . . . Phenomenal Realism, or Inflationism . . . . Dualistic Naturalism.

    5 –> As my always linked note continues:

    Let us therefore note how, in Block’s — clearly influential — formulation, the materialistic-naturalistic perspective is imposed, right from the outset, via the presented definition of the problem (and the underlying assumed definition of “Science”): explain[ing] a state of consciousness in terms of its neurological basis. So, any explanation that does not set out to in effect account for consciousness on the basis of neurons and their electrochemistry or the like is excluded from the outset. AKA, begging the question.

    Block then sets out to look at four “naturalistic” alternatives: [1] the view that “consciousness as understood above simply does not exist,” [2] allowing that “consciousness exists, but they ‘deflate’ this commitment—again on philosophical grounds—taking it to amount to less than meets the eye,” [3] the view that in effect consciousness emerges from but is not reducible to neurological activity [a comparison is made to how heat as a concept may be explained as tracing physically to thermal agitation of molecules, but is conceptually different], [4] views that “standard materialism is false but that there are naturalistic alternatives to Cartesian dualism such as pan-psychism.” [This last is explained here.]

    But, what is never seriously on the table is the key issue that the design inference points to: we know, immemorial, that there are three major causal factors, chance, necessity, intelligence. Necessity is associated with mechanical regularities [e.g. how heavy objects fall and come to rest on a table], so is not associated with highly contingent outcomes. Contingency [e.g. which face of a die, having fallen to and settled on a table is uppermost] traces to chance or agency. When we have functionally specified, complex information, we have a situation that in observation and on grounds of inadequacy of required search resources, reliably traces to intelligence, not chance.

    It is thus — vast erudition of many discussions by scholars of the highest calibre notwithstanding — utterly unsurprising to see that the whole evolutionary materialistic project to “explain” consciousness grinds to a halt in the face of self referential incoherence and failure to adequately reckon with the radical differences between the properties of mind and matter. So, options 1 and 2 fall apart directly, and 3 and 4 boil down to defiantly flying the materialistic flag and passing out promissory notes in the teeth of consistent explanatory failure. But persistent explanatory failure is not just a matter to be fobbed off with a promissory note or two on future deliverances of “Science” and/or alternative materialistic explanations, it is inherent in the materialistic imposed — historically and philosophically suspect — redefinition of what science is and tries to do. For, the exclusion of intelligence from explanation when it is inconvenient to the evolutionary materialist view, ends up in question-begging, and is in violation of basic facts on the history of science. It is also philosophically ill-founded, and is self referentially incoherent; as has been shown above.

    That is — as the case of Sir Francis Crick vividly illustrates — such evolutionary materialist “explanations” cannot even coherently explain the intellectual works of the researchers themselves. For, we know that complex, functionally organised information such as apparent messages, reliably trace to mind, and that mind has capabilities that do not credibly trace to chance + necessity acting on matter + energy. In short, we have strong, empirically based reason to see that once mind is viewed through the characteristics of its traces, we are dealing with something that strongly points beyond the world of matter + energy acted on by forces tracing to chance + necessity only.

    6 –> THAT is how revolutionary the design perspective is.

    7 –> And BTW, there are a few words that should be pondered on overconfident reconstructions of the remote, unobserved past as are so often passed off as though they were facts on the level of the roundness of the easrth (which BTW was known from about 300 BC and which was accepted by Columbus’ objectors, their issue was that Columbus’ estimate for the circumference was far too low and they were right . . . ). Let me cite the voice out of the storm in Job 38, as a caution to those who would indulge in overconfident scientism at this point:

    Job 38:1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?

    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
    6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone-
    7 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy?
    . . .

    8 –> In short, a little due humility in the face of the inescapable limitations of origins science, would be appropriate. Let me clip the onward IOSE remarks on that (noting the unit on cosmology and timelines here on too):

    When we turn to origins sciences, as already noted in brief, we can see another problem. For, just as Job 38:2 – 4 points out, we were not “there” to see the facts directly. Nor, do we have generally accepted record form those who indisputably were there.

    Plainly, this is a very good and deep challenge to the project of origins science.

    The best answer we can give is that:

    (i) once we can establish a knowledge of empirically reliable causal patterns and their traces in the present,

    (ii) where also we can observe traces of the past in the present, and

    (iii) where finally we can suggest a credible set of initial circumstances and change processes based on known causal patterns that would give rise to sufficiently similar traces,

    ____________________________________________

    (iv) then, we may scientifically infer on best explanation, that the suggested circumstances and dynamics are a credible — albeit inevitably provisional — origins narrative.

    One thing that we have no right to do, is to claim that such an inferential reconstruction is a fact beyond reasonable dispute or doubt. (Sadly, it is necessary to note this, as there is a tendency to over-claim the factual basis for theories of origins.)

    As a result, we do not independently and directly know the indisputably true facts or even dates for what happened in the remote past.

    So also, while we can build models that reconstruct what we may think the past was more or less like, we cannot make direct, theory-independent observations that give us indisputable access to the true facts of the remote past.

    Therefore, we cannot scientifically know or explain the true facts on our origins beyond reasonable dispute or possibility of correction.

    9 –> Methinks, a little humility in light of a sounder grasp of the epistemological limitations of science on origins, would be in order. (And, this also underscores how often, how badly we have been taught concerning the methods, strengths and limitations of science, in school and in popular venues, or even in college. Let us not ever forget that scientism is a substitute religion, a means of inducing gullibility and a means therefore to improper assumption of undue influence and power. Which is what the video on Lewis here that so stirred the ire of some objectors that there was a resort to improper personal attacks, speaks of.)

    KF

  283. Mung: let’s talk! (I particularly have this in mind.) KF

  284. per post 270 ,,,KN states:

    ““I” am my body”

    Yet:

    ,,If ““I” am my body” as KN holds, then if half of a person’s brain were removed, then the ‘I’ in ““I” am my body” should be less of a “I” as they were before, but that is not the case. The whole ‘I’ in ““I” am my body” stays intact even though the brain suffers severe impairment:

    Miracle Of Mind-Brain Recovery Following Hemispherectomies – Dr. Ben Carson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994585/

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    Thus KN suffers empirical failure once again for his worldview!

    Behold KN’s forthcoming sophistry Box.

    per post 274

    KN: “That hardly disproves anything I’ve been talking about. All it shows is that certain very simplistic and crude hypotheses about cognitive localization are false.”,,,

    HMMM,,,,

    BA77: And that would be your simplistic and crude ““I” am my body” hypothesis that was shown to be false by the empirical evidence. Just because it disagrees with your preferred worldview does not matter one iota! You made a claim, the claim was shown to be bunk, deal with it!

    BA77: As well, Thanks KN for being right on target with the ‘forthcoming sophistry’ especially towards Box! Tis a mighty fine word salad you toss indeed . :) What dressing do you use Denialism or the more spicy Delusionalism

  285. BA77 Awesome post as always to compliment that here you go;

    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

    Now the question? Does this mean that we have some sort of redundancy built-in to our brains and some sort of High Availability too? I must admit this makes the case for design even stronger than it already is because these kind of system only arise from planning them…… What can I say wow!

  286. 286

    KF & BA:

    There are some things I don’t bother debating with people, such as when they repeatedly deny what is obvious. I do, however, have a great appreciation for those that tirelessly address such denials. You never know when, or even why, but that at some point someone might seize upon such information for their benefit.

  287. William J Murray – in his article “Is Atheism Rationally Justifiable?”(at uncommondescent.com) – is of the opinion that there is evidence of god´s existence to an extent that it is more probable that the god exists than that the god does not exist. An atheist is therefore either ignorant of this evidence or boasting of an intellectually dishonest belief. In any case, atheists are put to blame. Only a theistic belief can be “intellectually honorable”.

    The validity of Murray´s conclusions depends on what sort of god he is talking about and the strength of his evidence as related to that god. Murray does not produce any new findings or ideas here. His listed evidence, seven items, is a mixture of well known personal, philosophical, theological and scientific arguments. It has been demonstrated many times before that these arguments are not sufficient to prove the existence of “the perfect god”(omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, infinitely merciful, infinitely righteous, free will). In fact, it can be shown that the perfect god cannot possibly exist, not even as a theoretical construct. Such a construct will always contain logical inconsistencies.

    Murray does not explicitly define “his” god as perfect but he is close to it. He talks about a god as “source of free will, mind, consciousness; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent inasmuch as principles of logic allow”. Keywords here are “inasmuch as principles of logic allow”, an amendment and evasion which shows that Murray is aware of the logical problems involved with the perfect god concept. But he does not tell us what he means with his amendment so his definition of god has in fact no operational meaning. We simply don´t know what sort of god Murray is talking about. It is obviously a weaker god than the perfect god but weaker in what way and how much? The situation becomes even more confused when we ask ourselves how Murray´s god is related to the god of Abraham, the monotheistic god. My conclusion is that Murray´s conclusions about atheistic ignorance and dishonesty is totally without meaning.

    However, I am very fond of the “intellectually honorable belief”-concept, a concept I have used myself at several occasions. But my views are quite different than those of Murray and other monotheistic propagandists. Allow an outline;

    First of all we have to distinguish between the two fundamental aspects of divine presence; creation on the one hand, revelation and providence on the other. These capacities of the alleged divine are two quite different things and should therefore be treated separately in any logical analysis of divine presence. To be sure, “proving” divine creation is quite another thing than “proving” divine providence.

    Murray makes the assertion that “a worldview or mindset is rationally justified when it answers adequately to the facts of the real world as we experience or observe it”. Murray of course believes in divine providence. Therefore, in my opinion, he becomes a victim of his own assertion.

    There are no scientific or else objective arguments in favor of divine providence, miracles and other sorts of divine intervention, particularly not benevolent intervention, in human affairs. Educated monotheists are aware of this. They have pondered over the théodicée-dilemma for thousands of years and their sharpest brains have still not been able to present a solution to it(this is not very strange as there is no solution!). But that is not all. Adding Darwin´s evolution theory(with no “Vatican exceptions”) and research results within scientific fields such as genetics and quantum mechanics should lead any logical observer to the conclusion that a stochastic, dynamic evolution model explains earthly life much better than any (deterministic, static) religious model of divine providence. Anecdotes, personal experiences and testimonies of divine presence now and then do not alter that conclusion. Such “evidence” is often triggered by religious belief and religious hysteria and should therefore not be referred to as “proofs” of divine existence. Hallucinations, wishful thoughts, planted rumors and gossips do not belong to a principal discussion of religion.

    In any case, divine providence is out of my worldview and should be out of anybody´s worldview unless in some sense objectively “confirmed”.

    Now creation;

    The so called “new atheist debate” is very much focused on divine vs natural creation and the mega question how matter and life can come into existence without a helping hand(word?) from supernatural beings. This is not the place to indulge into this debate. Suffice it to say that science not as yet has delivered a complete answer to that question. Therefore, an “intellectually honorable” standing is that it is possible that an external supernatural power has created our universe. But the mental distance from the acknowledgement of a possible creator to a belief in the monotheistic god is long, infinitely long. Just think about the small, geocentric universe – a sun and its seven planets – that is presented in the holy scriptures and the infinite universe with all its galaxies and solar systems we know to exist today. Why would a creator of this infinite universe only care about our solar system and the wellbeing of humans? Isn´t it a bit presumptuous to believe that?

    Anyway, acknowledging a supernatural creation of the universe does not make us understand the actor behind it. We do not even know if a supernatural creation, if ever carried out, was a conscious, purposeful act. Nor if it was intended to be an act of benevolence! Perhaps universe is the result of a devil´s act as proposed by the Gnostics?

    Now it should be evident to the reader that a theistic belief is not what I think of as an “intellectually honorable” belief. To me an honorable belief is basically atheistic, at most deistic(the creator is gone or does not care about humanity). This is sad in a way. It is indeed hard to accept life as a stochastic process with no divine purpose – to me and to many atheists. Taking “the leap of faith” and forget all about stochastic and evolutionary processes is of course no option for convinced atheists and deists. That would indeed be dishonest!

    Thank you!

  288. 288

    Elvis4708 @ 287:

    I enjoyed reading your rebuttal.

    You are correct that I offered nothing new other than to aggregate the supportive evidence and argument (that was not self-contradictory or easily dispensed) into a civil case format (“more likely”) instead of a criminal one (“beyond reasonable doubt”).

    I’m not going to rehash points and counter-points already made throughout this thread except for a couple of things.

    First, I will point out that your use of the term “perfect god” is as subjective and vague as your claims about how I have defined that god. Does absolute omnipotence (the ability to make a 4-sided triangle) make god “more perfect” than one inherently confined to logic, and if so, by what standard of “perfection”? How would one make an assessment of “more perfect” or “less perfect” without adhering to logical principles, then how would that assessment be valid when assessing a being where perfection is measured by it’s capacity to void or contravene logic?

    Your argument against my definitional structure of god appears to me to be both self-serving (a convenient definition of “perfect”) and inherently self-contradictory (a logic-based judgement of something assumed to be beyond the reach of logic).

    Also, please note your unsupportable use of a universal negative claim:

    There are no scientific or else objective arguments in favor of divine providence, miracles and other sorts of divine intervention, particularly not benevolent intervention, in human affairs.

    … is something I referred to in regards to intellectual dishonesty. Or, perhaps you can support this assertion without shifting the burden? (I’m assuming you meant to say “scientific or else objective evidence“, because I’m not sure what a scientific or objective argument would be.)

    I would like to ask you the same question I asked LT, and have yet to receive a response. I would like to ask it of any atheist reading:

    Under your worldview/philosophy, what is the point of arguing against theism and for atheism? What ultimate purpose does it serve?

  289. WJM@277,

    A few important points will sew up the discussion for me. First, my “desperation” comment was over-zealous; I mis-read your intent in asking it at the time you did.

    Next, I get (I think we all do or should) that atheism or theistic views may in fact be finally untenable. It’s possible that in the last analysis, atheism fails to match reality. It’s no less possible that theism fails to match reality. It’s also possible that reality somehow is a strange hybrid that make both views partly correct. I personally accept that my conclusions may ultimately be incorrect, but right now I think they are correct and that there are good reasons for thinking so.

    But what actually galls me about these debates is the strong implication you given in the OP: that I am an atheist not because I really think it’s true but because I have ulterior motives. You can imagine how insulting it is to have someone who doesn’t know you say that you’re an atheist because you’re captive to hedonism, or a warped political view, or a dislike of authority, or egotism, or whatever. In all cases, the one thing never granted is that the atheist arrived at the conclusion through serious, sincere reflection.

    The companion to this view of atheists is that the atheist is ideology first and conclusion second. I know this point will being in the usual quotes from Lewontin and Philip Johnson, but I am talking about atheism and not any -ism in the performance of science. People, not atheists and not theists, do not escape ideology; we’re all embroiled in on or more, and all the time. It helps to realize that one is enmeshed in ideology, but that hardly helps one transcend it. This is why I’ve always thought the usual Johnson criticism of the materialism coming first was banal: it merely recapitulates what Lewontin argues except implying a nefarious object to the science.

    One of my main objections to theistic views in general has not–I think, I might have missed it–been addressed: theism is unnecessary as an explanation of anything in reality. To my knowledge and mind, no one has made a positive case that God (the god of the OP) must be invoked in order to explain the origin and operation of X. Of course I am aware that ID targets the cell and DNA as sites where an ID might be required, yet even so, what would make the specific God of the OP the one and only source? In any even, I’m not yet convinced that ID arguments in the area of the cell hold up. Time will certainly tell on this, I imagine.

    Finally, to KF in #281: the two testimonies I was referring to–partly tongue-in-cheek–were Moses and PeterJ. I am of course aware that other folks in Torah and other writings are reported to speak and interact with God. The key factor to bear in mind, however, is that we are talking about first-hand testimonial of dealing with God “face-to-face.” I specifically excluded a voice from a cloud or wrestling with angels or interacting with Jesus (a la Damascus) because first-hand knowledge was the initial parameter WJM offered in his China analogy. But Moses is said in Torah to have been the only one to see God’s face (Deut. 34:10, “And there was no other prophet who arose in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”) PeterJ also claims to have met God in person.

    I acknowledge what you say, KF: “the point is that here are so many cases of people’s lives transformed in diverse ways due to encounters with God in one form or another, that the dismissal of all these, becomes a questioning of the credibility of the human mind as a means to know and understand or analyse the real world.”

    Pleas note first that there has been no dismissal of these encounters, only a recognition that very few of these encounters have been encounters with God himself. Another recognition is that some cases have not been encounters with an agent of God.

    You may be surprised to learn that atheists too experience life transformations and such.

  290. 290
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: bornagain77 @ 284, that’s it — I’m done here.

  291. LT:

    I think you are seriously off base.

    In my own life, we can start with two direct experiences. at five, a Samuel type auditory encounter with God that twice over, I thought was my cousin acting as big sister cum aunt cum mother substitute calling me from the back to the front of the house. At this time I did not know the Samuel story.

    after the second run to the verandah, to be told, no I did not call you, my cousin told me the Samuel story and suggested I answer as Samuel was advised to.

    At that time, the THIRD time I heard my name called I did so. A Presence filled the room, and a message that my life was under a call was clearly, vividly impressed on my mind.

    This shaped me all my childhood.

    (Even, in the period when I was under conviction, knew exactly what was happening, knew I was fighting God, and did not want to surrender. I am not sure if I felt fear or was just being stubborn or believed that God would have to break me at his time of choosing.)

    The already described incident of miraculous guidance occurred when I was about nine, and saved my life.

    If you want more famous people, try C S Lewis’ conversion, where his resistance to the Unwelcome was gradually broken. (And I did not know of this till I began to read Lewis at age 178 – 19.)

    Try also, Blaise Pascal’s night of fire, Nov 23, 1654 — which he kept secret, sewn into his jacket till his death:

    “The Memorial”:

    The year of grace 1654
    Monday, 23 November, feast of Saint Clement, Pope and Martyr, and of others in the Martyrology.
    Eve of Saint Chrysogonus, Martyr and others.
    From about half past ten in the evening until half past midnight.

    Fire
    ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,’ not of philosophers and scholars.
    Certainty, certainty, heartfelt, joy, peace.
    God of Jesus Christ.
    God of Jesus Christ.
    My God and your God.
    ‘Thy God shall be my God.’
    The world forgotten, and everything except God.
    He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels.
    Greatness of the human soul.
    ‘O righteous Father, the world had not known thee, but I have known thee.’
    Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
    I have cut myself off from him.
    They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.
    ‘My God wilt thou forsake me?’
    Let me not be cut off from him for ever!
    And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’
    Jesus Christ.
    Jesus Christ.
    I have cut myself off from him, shunned him, denied him, crucified him.
    Let me never be cut off from him!
    He can only be kept by the ways taught in the Gospel.
    Sweet and total renunciation.
    Total submission to Jesus Christ and my director.
    Everlasting joy in return for one day’s effort on earth.
    I will not forget thy word. Amen.

    There is much more out there, many lives turned around.

    KF

  292. Andre 285, thanks great link:

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old.
    Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says.
    Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

  293. 293

    LT @ 289:

    Well, I hope you’re not “done here” (290) because I enjoy the exchange. I agree that in the end my view may not match up to reality.

    You said:

    But what actually galls me about these debates is the strong implication you given in the OP: that I am an atheist not because I really think it’s true but because I have ulterior motives. You can imagine how insulting it is to have someone who doesn’t know you say that you’re an atheist because you’re captive to hedonism, or a warped political view, or a dislike of authority, or egotism, or whatever. In all cases, the one thing never granted is that the atheist arrived at the conclusion through serious, sincere reflection.

    You once again fall prey to an incorrect inference. Instead of assuming the worst about me, how about extending the courtesy of best interpretation? Just because I hold that atheists hold their views (ultimately) irrationally or out of a lack of information doesn’t mean I think they have “ulterior motives” (at least that they are aware of), are not sincere, or have not employed “sincere self-reflection”.

    I was an atheist for many years. I was entirely sincere, and I was very self-reflective. That doesn’t mean my worldview was – in the end – rationally justifiable.

    If you feel like it, I really would like an answer to the question I posed and reiterated at the end of #288. I ask not because I think you have some “ulterior motive” for arguing against theism and for atheism; my unspoken assumption is that you (and others) argue for atheism and against theism because you think atheism is true and theism false.

    However, I’m not going to just assume that to be the case, which is why I ask, given the complex philosophical positions people often hold here.

  294. 294

    LT: Sorry, I mis-attributed the “I’m done here” to you; that was KN.

  295. Elvis4708

    I suggest you re-work your thinking in an inference to best explanation context.

    In so doing, ask yourself what commitments you are making at metaphysical level to reject the theistic views as developed in modern forms. And, ask yourself whether these are demanding a cumulative metaphysical price you are truly willing to py, why.

    Such as, are you able to ground morality, good and evil objectively in a foundational IS of your view? (If not you cannot open your mouth to pose the problem of evil, much less try to respond to Plantinga’s defense.)

    Similarly, are you truly willing to argue that god is inescapably, inevitably IMPOSSIBLE (as god will be a necessary being candidate and can only be blocked by impossibility)?

    again, are you sure that your perceived incoherence of the concept of god is not based on strawman caricatures?

    What is your own worldview, how do its core presuppositions cohere, address the facts of experienced reality, and explain elegantly but not simplistically?

    Do you have an adequate account of: the origins of a cosmos fine tuned for life, math showing the astonishing unity in 0 = 1 + e^i*pi (and all that that points to) which is at the same time deeply embedded in physical reality, the origin of digital code using algorithm based cellular life, mind and morals?

    And so forth.

    KF

  296. KN 290, don’t get upset at me, get upset at the evidence! It’s the evidence that falsified your ”I’ am my body’ claim. I merely pointed the evidence out and refused to buy your sophistry!,,, If you were truly open, and brave enough, to following the evidence wherever it led, then you would thank me for pointing out the evidence correcting you instead of being upset at me. And, IMHO, you would have ‘traded up’ to something more glorious and wonderfully real than any mere human words, even with your talent for wordsmithing, can pay credit to:

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    William Shakespeare – Hamlet

    Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video)
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....tantsearch

  297. @bornagain77 – 284
    I’ll see your gigabyte and raise you a terabyte:
    Do we need a brain at all?
    “There’s a young student at this university,” says [professor] Lorber, “who has an IQ of 126, has gained a first-class honors degree in mathematics, and is socially completely normal. And yet the boy has virtually no brain.”
    ‘Is Your Brain Really Necessary?’,by Roger Lewin, Science, New Series, Vol.210, No.4475 (Dec. 12, 1980), 1232-1234. <a href=”http://www.psych.ufl.edu/~steh/PSB4504/brainnecessary.pdf”(PDF)

    Other links on this subject: <a href=”http://www.neardeath.woerlee.org/almost-brainless.php”G.M. Woerlee and <a href=”http://flatrock.org.nz/topics/science/is_the_brain_really_necessary.htm”Flatrock.org.nz

  298. WJM, My response at the end of #264 was intended as an answer to your question. I like the details of the discussion.

    Your question at #288 is a bit different. For me, one point to engaging in the discussion is to promote the legitimacy of an atheist view. It’s reasonable to be an atheist, and it’s a moral and socially legitimate identity category.

    Recall what you write in the OP:

    atheism is an untenable position for any intellectually honest, rational, and informed person. The belief that god (as described above, which is supported by the listed evidence) does not exist, or that it isn’t more likely that god exists than not, can only be a position based on ignorance of the available evidence and argument for god, or a hyper-skeptical, intellectually dishonest, ideologically biased, a priori dismissal of all of the evidence for the existence of god. [Boldface added]

    I still read this as ascribing atheism to motives other than fair assessment, even on a charitable interpretation.

    So, I think it’s important for people to know atheism is a valid and healthy view of the world. That’s a big point for me.

    KF@291: I understand you think I’m seriously off-base, but I have no desire, means, or requisite expertise to comment at all on your recollection of your experiences. I want to acknowledge what you say and not come across as dismissing it in any way, yet I am exchanging with you the fact that I too have had transforming experiences that I cherish. It’s a remarkable thing to be a human being and to live on this planet in the time that we do.

  299. Thanks Box!

  300. @bornagain77 – 284
    I’ll see your gigabyte and raise you a terabyte:
    Do we need a brain at all?
    “There’s a young student at this university,” says [professor] Lorber, “who has an IQ of 126, has gained a first-class honors degree in mathematics, and is socially completely normal. And yet the boy has virtually no brain.”
    ‘Is Your Brain Really Necessary?’,by Roger Lewin, Science, New Series, Vol.210, No.4475 (Dec. 12, 1980), 1232-1234. (PDF)

    Other links on this subject:
    G.M. Woerlee and Flatrock.org.nz.

  301. 301

    LT said:

    So, I think it’s important for people to know atheism is a valid and healthy view of the world.

    Why is it important?

  302. F/N: Pardon, but valid != sound. Sound is where truth enters, and it is where we need to address well warranted, i.e. the exact question of reasoned justification. KF

  303. 289 LarTanner wrote: “that I am an atheist not because I really think it’s true but because I have ulterior motives. You can imagine how insulting it is to have someone who doesn’t know you say that you’re an atheist because you’re captive to hedonism, or a warped political view, or a dislike of authority, or egotism, or whatever. In all cases, the one thing never granted is that the atheist arrived at the conclusion through serious, sincere reflection.”

    Please, and I am not “insulting” you here, just a question and if you have answers I would greatly appreciate receiving your research and determinations. You say your “serious, sincere reflections” have allowed for you an honest, lacking “ulterior motives”, conclusion re. atheism – so – in your study of the 300+ prophecies concerning the details of the first advent, how did you determine they are all dismissible?
    thank you and would really like to examine your research and conclusion – really and sincerely.

    p.s. TO WJM – you said you don’t know this subject very well – interesting – my first post opened with – “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and YOU WILL DO WELL TO PAY ATTENTION to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

    p.p.s. WJM – Why do you think scripture says it important? What “weight” to this discussion do you think it has? Could it be of a type that mathematically confers your thesis? Its not a side subject. It has more power than all the evidences you have presented here – all natural. I point this out because these natural argument don’t move one out of that box, they just keep repeating themselves interesting as they are.

  304. 304

    Alan,

    I have zero informed understanding of scripture, so I simply cannot offer any meaningful opinion thereof.

  305. WJM@301, It’s important because many people don’t know, and perhaps they will be helped personally or philosophically by knowing.

    KF@302, agreed. But soundness and truth are still in play. Hence, we discuss.

    alan@303. The 300 prophecies trope is interesting, and I was once more familiar with it than I am now. I seem to recall a tongue-in-cheek statement to the effect statement that each of us may be fulfilling 300 prophecies just by sitting here today and reading the Hebrew Scriptures in the suitable frame. My answer is that the Hebrew Scriptures of Judaism are entirely different from the Christian Old Testament. The Old Testament is, in fact, a certain way of reading the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the results (such as Christology) of that way of reading. To be sure, The Hebrew Scriptures are a certain way of reading the many pre-existing texts of ancient Israel’s library, but this again goes to my overall thesis that the two are different; what’s more, they are fundamentally irreconcilable. You cannot read the Hebrew Scriptures and get to the Christian Jesus. Only the OT can do that. Neither can you read the OT and get to Judaism.

    The rest of this argument requires more detail and textual/historical analysis (to say nothing of debate!) than I am able to muster. My best recommendation for research is to pursue two areas: one, scholarship on Second-Temple-Era Judaism, and two, very early Christianity.

  306. The Most Amazing Prophecy – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejHX3uyySQQ

  307. LT:

    You can see a 101 level survey of what I think it takes to build a worldview here on, as you are familiar with (I added a little bit recently). (As an aside, the “prophecies” point pivots on the matters discussed here on in context.)

    Some very serious issues lurk underneath the surface of this thread, on the challenge of warrant.

    And, the issue of soundness vs validity is a useful start point for addressing warrant for claims, much less going on to address warrant for worldviews on comparative difficulties.

    I would be interested to see your addressing of the implied issues in my remark to Elvis4708 at 295 above, e.g.:

    ask yourself what commitments you are making at metaphysical level to reject the theistic views as developed in modern forms. And, ask yourself whether these are demanding a cumulative metaphysical price you are truly willing to pay, why.

    Such as, are you able to ground morality, good and evil objectively in a foundational IS of your view? (If not you cannot open your mouth to pose the problem of evil, much less try to respond to Plantinga’s defense.)

    Similarly, are you truly willing to argue that god is inescapably, inevitably IMPOSSIBLE (as god will be a necessary being candidate and can only be blocked by impossibility)?

    again, are you sure that your perceived incoherence of the concept of god is not based on strawman caricatures?

    What is your own worldview, how do its core presuppositions cohere, address the facts of experienced reality, and explain elegantly but not simplistically?

    Do you have an adequate account of: the origins of a cosmos fine tuned for life, math showing the astonishing unity in 0 = 1 + e^i*pi (and all that that points to) which is at the same time deeply embedded in physical reality, the origin of digital code using algorithm based cellular life, mind and morals?

    Some pretty serious claims and assertions have been made in recent days, especially by leading atheist spokesmen such as Dawkins. All that stuff about ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, or else about child abuse or else about following barbaric, genocidal etc bronze age sky warrior gods etc comes to mind. If the atmosphere seems a bit strained or polarised, it is not all coming from one side.

    So, let us put such to one side and speak to matters on the merits.

    I think it is quite fair to ask for warrant — what rational justification is getting at. Remember, for just one instance, that it is seriously arguable that — per necessary being logic — you (as an atheist) are implicitly committed not just to the view that there is no god, but that such a god is IMPOSSIBLE.

    That is a pretty strong claim, and it implies several pretty strong ones, including a scale of delusion that would bring the stability, capacity and trustworthiness of the human mind under serious question.

    How do you warrant such?

    I think it is every tub must stand on its own bottom time.

    KF

  308. @LarTanner

    LarTanner: ”One of my main objections to theistic views in general has not–I think, I might have missed it–been addressed: theism is unnecessary as an explanation of anything in reality. To my knowledge and mind, no one has made a positive case that God (the god of the OP) must be invoked in order to explain the origin and operation of X.”

    Can you elucidate your objection? Given the cosmological, ontological, fine tuning and moral arguments it seems inappropriate for anyone to state ‘to my knowledge and mind, no one has made a positive case that God (the god of the OP) must be invoked in order to explain the origin and operation of X’.
    —-

    @bornagain77 -299
    You are welcome! Did you know about John Lorber?

  309. 309

    LT:

    It’s important because many people don’t know, and perhaps they will be helped personally or philosophically by knowing.

    Please don’t think I’m being facetious:

    Why is it important for you to help others?

  310. Thank you for your interest. I’m fairly sure that you can download a Kindle App for your computer, and therefore you could receive it that way.

    Free Reading Apps

  311. LarTanner:

    My best recommendation for research is to pursue two areas: one, scholarship on Second-Temple-Era Judaism, and two, very early Christianity.

    A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New

    Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

    Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation

    The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts?: Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New

    My best recommendation for research is to pursue two areas: one, scholarship on Second-Temple-Era Judaism, and two, very early Christianity.

    To what end?

  312. Box,

    I appreciate the question, and perhaps my thinking is more muddled than I realized on this point.

    But let me ask: Can the origin and continued existence of planet earth be explained without invoking not just an ID but the God of the OP?

    If yes, then what good is the god concept?

    Substitute any number of specific objects for “planet earth” and you start to see what I’m getting at, which is really a transformation of the statement attributed to von Neumann:

    You insist that there is something a machine cannot do. If you tell me precisely what it is a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that.

    It seems to me (pardon my need to qualify opinions, as I don’t wish to be accused of stating things as facts) that every time we insist that something could not have arisen without God’s divine hand or foot, then when we zone in on precisely what it is that could not have arisen — we find a way that it either could have or did.

  313. WJM,

    It is important to me. It’s something I value because hearing such a case articulated plainly and directly helped me immensely. It’s also something I value for my children.

  314. LT:

    First you know that a great many things are not subject to reduction to algorithmic description, which is what it takes to create a machine to do it. Just off the top of my head, construct a machine to show the truth of any arbitrary set of mathematical claims relative to any arbitrary set of axioms, by proof on some arbitrary set of logical calculus principles.

    Second, you are ducking the actual challenge you have: your atheism, in light of modern forms of the arguments to god, implies that god — a serious candidate necessary being — is IMPOSSIBLE (= there is no possible world in which a being recognisable as god exists, similar to there is no possible world in which 3 + 2 = 4, on the usual meanings . . . ), and that is how he would not be necessary.

    Have you actually credibly shown this, or has any other atheist?

    If so, kindly show us.

    If not, kindly explain your claims on holding a satisfactory position.

    (And that is before we get to issues of the fine tuning required of the physics and constituents of the cosmos to get to a planet like earth, which is another issue you are gliding by quietly while setting up strawman arguments to brush aside, or trying to twist the issue about as though you hold a default. Every tub must stand on its own bottom here..)

    KF

  315. LarTanner, machines cannot lie

  316. @Mung

    Thanks for the link…

  317. LarTanner: ”But let me ask: Can the origin and continued existence of planet earth be explained without invoking not just an ID but the God of the OP? .”

    No sir, I hold that to be a logical impossibility. The origin and continued existence of matter cannot be explained by matter itself. There simply has to be a transcendent cause.

    LarTanner: ”If yes, then what good is the god concept? .”

    I agree, if there are solid physicalistic explanations for the origin and continued existence of the universe, life, consciousness, morality and such, the god concept isn’t any good.

  318. KF@314,

    This is incorrect:

    your atheism…implies that god…is IMPOSSIBLE

    Improbable, not impossible. See, for example, Dawkins’s chapter 4, “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God.”

    My atheism views natural forces, objects, and “laws” (so to speak) as sufficient to understand reality and explain it. It also views human behavior and psychology as the source of, and solution to, various worldly ills. God is unnecessary.

  319. Dear Mr Murray,

    Thanks for reading my rebuttal. I´m glad you enjoyed it.

    Now, the “perfect god” is not a subjective and vague god. It is an infallible one that can do everything. Not just best in relation to any other god, but best in an absolute sense. The perfect god has its origin in Greek philosophy(Xenophanes) and is of course an unattainable ideal. Still the common theist thinks that it exists. Lamentable…

    A discussion of the perfect god and its importance for the monotheistic construct is a big thing. I will return to the matter on my site.

    Of course you are right. I meant “evidence”, not “arguments”. Things get wrong without proofreading. Another error I am guilty of is writing “honorable” instead of “honest”. I´m glad you didn´t pinpoint that.

    Now to your question; Why am I doing this? My answer is this; I do not want to take spirituality from people, but I want to dismantle religions from all sorts of political power and to support reason. I think the deistic way is the right way to go in these endeavors. If the ordinary man was convinced that there perhaps is a god, but that this god doesn´t care about him, then religions would collapse. That´s good enough for me!

  320. 322

    Elvis,

    Adding Darwin´s evolution theory…and research results within scientific fields such as genetics and quantum mechanics should lead any logical observer to the conclusion that a stochastic, dynamic evolution model explains earthly life

    Try transferring recorded information (the genotype) into a material effect (the phenotype) without using immaterial relationships instantiated in matter. When you fail at that (as you will most certainly do) and concede that it cannot be done (which you will most likely not do) then you can set out to demonstrate how enegry-independent relationships come into existence from inexorable law — prior to the onset of information-based organization, and prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution.

    When you work all that out, then perhaps you can promote your “logic” as justifiable … or as you construe it, “intellectually honorable belief”.

  321. OK – but my problem is that the information is still there regardless of what you call it which to me anyway is coming off as a very thin and transparent fig leaf. Your naive labeling of this information as trope and your mis-use of Hebrew vs OT does nothing whatsoever in dealing with the information. I’m sure I don’t have to point out your atheism provides you a questionable interpretive lens because it seems to give you what you want, but it does appear to bring into question your claim of “serious, sincere reflection.”

  322. Sorry – #323 refs. #305

  323. alan@323,

    the information is still there regardless of what you call it

    This statement tells me you’re in way over your head and don’t know it. Have you ever done any serious textual study–not of biblical texts, but of any texts–in different languages? If so, I don’t know you you could possibly say such a thing.

    That Hebrew versus OT distinction is hardly my own invention, and the the interpretive lenses I’m bringing in include those of Second-Temple era Judaism (Judaisms, really) and early Christianity (Christianities, really). There’s more things in the heaven and earth of that history than you’ve dreamt of.

  324. @Elvis4708

    “Now to your question; Why am I doing this? My answer is this; I do not want to take spirituality from people, but I want to dismantle religions from all sorts of political power and to support reason. I think the deistic way is the right way to go in these endeavors. If the ordinary man was convinced that there perhaps is a god, but that this god doesn´t care about him, then religions would collapse. That´s good enough for me!”

    So let me get this straight, you don’t want to take spirituality away from people, so long as these people don’t adhere to a religion in which their God cares about each person individually, right? You also welcome the collapse of organized religions but at the same time, you want to build one based on a deistic God.

    That’s one incredibly “reasonable” answer you’ve come up with.

  325. Dear KRock,

    I have no intentions whatsoever to build a new religion. This is a hopeless project as a deistic god never can form the basis of religion. Divine providence is a necessary condition for the existence of monotheism and a deistic god can not provide that. You don´t pray, you don´t look for divine signals around you, you don´t go to the church/mosque/synagouge, you don´t pay the congregation fees etc if you don´t think that your god listens to you. If the god doesn´t care about you, you don´t care about the god.

  326. LarTanner, you’re joking right, that’s not science, a machine does not have a conscience , thus it can not wilfully mislead anyone or anything, no wonder you’re struggling with the issue, you somehow view as as mechanistic of sort. Here is a good read on seeing past Darwin…. It’s worth it mate!!!

    http://www.thebestschools.org/.....-metaphor/

  327. LT:

    Sorry, but that is what is wrong:

    [LT:] This is incorrect:

    [KF:} your atheism…implies that god…is IMPOSSIBLE

    {LT:] Improbable, not impossible.

    Not so.

    It is an essential part of the nature of god, as a concept and candidate being, that god would be the necessary being who is the root of reality.

    It is a well known result that if a being is a candidate necessary being and is possible, it will be actual.

    That is because, such a being, if possible, exists in at least one possible world, but if necessity is indeed essential to its nature, it will be actual in all possible worlds. Just like 2 + 3 = 5 is like that. Thee is no possible world in which the truth so expressed will not hold.

    If instead 2 + 3 = 4 were the candidate, it is dismissed not on being improbable but impossible, there is no possible world in which this will hold.

    Atheism is not left to argue that god is merely improbable [then dismissed], as is commonly done — rhetorically (you cite a particularly notoriously ill-thought through source . . . ) — but to find the concept impossible.

    Indeed, that is what used to be commonly argued by putting up the deductive problem of evil. But, post Plantinga’s free will defense, that has collapsed. (And even before that there were serious questions on the right to argue in terms of good and evil, absent a warrant on worldview premises that grounds such objectively. Borrowing a concept from the culture that rests on other worldview foundations is not good enough at this level.)

    You can try to argue instead that god would not be a necessary being, but that would not be what is meant by god.

    These are examples of the sort of unacknowledged metaphysical price that commitment to atheism extracts.

    KF

  328. Andre,

    “that’s not science”

    “a machine does not have a conscience.”

    I didn’t realize I was speaking with the arbiter of science. Classic.

    Nevertheless, I’ll refer you to von Neumann’s famous quote, which bears out true more and more over time:

    You insist that there is something a machine cannot do. If you tell me precisely what it is a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that!

    I actually have been to that best schools site. Horrible, horrible stuff. A physical pain to read.

  329. Andre @278: The dominos. I presume the ’cause’ is the initial push, and the ‘effect’ is the fall of the dominos.

    Which is greater ? I havent a clue. What does ‘greater’ mean ?

    If there are many dominos, then the chain-effect appears to be ‘greater’ than the cause, but I still dont know what ‘greater’ means.

    Could you explain your take on all this ?

  330. LT:

    Another conceptual problem:

    My atheism views natural forces, objects, and “laws” (so to speak) as sufficient to understand reality and explain it.

    Here’s your first problem: the cosmos we inhabit is credibly contingent, it is not a necessary being. For instance, it has a beginning [think, big bang rooted in Hubble expansion and things like the evident age of white dwarfs etc . . . they are simply cooling off . . . ], which immediately implies there are enabling causal factors that must be “on” for the cosmos we inhabit to be possible. Similarly, by E = m*c^2, we see that matter and energy are contingent also, i.e. they can be turned one into the other.

    That is what leads to the situation where something beyond our cosmos must exist as a necessary being without such external enabling factors.

    (This is part of the reason why there was such an attachment to the steady state theory in cosmology, as it would have left us with an eternal cosmos, but that got put on ice with the discovery of the microwave background in the 60′s.)

    Subsequently, there have been attempts of various sorts to suggest oscillating universes, branes and whatnot, but the bottomline is, in light of what we have observational evidence for, contingency. Switch over to metaphysical speculations — that is what too much cosmology is these days — and all options perforce must be on teh table on an equal footing.

    You also run into further troubles, as you now need to account for the credibility of the knowing mind on your materialistic, physicalist view. The forces of survival in an East African savannah are simply not relevant to the problem of grounding warrant, reasoning and so forth, as has been repeatedly pointed out in this thread above, on many reasons. Indeed, such materialism is seriously arguably self referentially incoherent.

    Materialism cannot credibly ground our mindedness, knowing and reasoning. (Computers are NOT reasoning, they are simply executing patterns of processes built into them and coded in from without. They will just as happily switch their transistors to do rubbish as to do sound processes, indeed that is a big part of the headache of debugging.)

    And, the materialistic picture runs into further difficulties grounding morality. Start with the case of it being wrong to kidnap, torture and murder a young child. Show us, beyond might and manipulation make ‘right’ how a materialist view can ground this sort of reality of our being under moral government.

    An evolutionary materialist view may be culturally comfortable, given the dominance of today’s scientism in our educated and chattering classes, but that is not at all the same as that it is well founded.

    KF

  331. But, KF, defining God as a necessary being doesn’t solve all your problems!

    If God is a necessary being, then what is God’s relationship to the universe, which exists contingently? In other words, are God and the universe connected necessarily or contingently? It must be one or the other. There is no middle ground.

    If the connection is necessary, then God’s choice to create is a necessary consequence of a necessarily existing being. That makes the existence of the universe necessary and not contingent. In turn, this contradicts the assumption that the universe exists contingently because, as you know, anything that follows necessarily from that which is necessary must also be necessary. So the connection between a necessary being and his universe cannot be necessary. It must be contingent.

    But if the connection is contingent, then what explains or accounts for it? Certainly not something wholly necessary, for the reason given above.

    So either the connection between God and the universe has no explanation or else the connection is explained in terms of some other contingent fact. In the first case, you are stuck with a brute contingency. In the second case your universe must be either brute or contingent, and the same problem recycles.

    Either way, we inevitably end up with some fact that is brutely contingent.

    It follows, then, that pure, unresolved, and brute contingency is inescapable if there is any contingency at all. It is not only impossible to account for the contingent in terms of the necessary, but impossible to account for the contingent at all.

    Our explanation of the universe must, in the end, bottom out in pure brute contingent fact.

    I must say that this is not my own working out of the matter, but I do not recall the source and am trying to replay the argument from old notes. Nevertheless, the word “improbable” still seems the most prudent descriptor.

  332. LT 325 – “This statement tells me you’re in way over your head and don’t know it.”

    OK – like I said its still the information and I do have a fair amount of exposure to many tools and schools of biblical information along with 40 years of just about daily “looking into these things” – most if not all versions, Interlinear, Hebrew text, lexicons concordance, dictionaries commentary – Christian and Jewish and hermeneutical approaches etc.,
    but I’ll take you seriously and ask you, being knowledgable of thing I’m not aware of, but important enough for you to conclude what your have and count on, then for example tell me, and not many can, what Daniel 9:25 (using any text you like) means. Is it exact, correct and what does it target exactly in the future and then the nature and weight of that information.
    thanks

  333. F/N: Re, at 305, as a FYI:

    the Hebrew Scriptures of Judaism are entirely different from the Christian Old Testament

    Discounting the apocryphals (viewed as deuterocanonical by Roman Catholics post Trent . . . ), the Heb Tanakh and the OT are the same, but organised differently. The Talmud is different but it is post the split between church and synagogue across C1. (Let us not forget that, as Josephus notes, the head of the Jerusalem church by the 60′s, James, was generally known as James the Just.)

    The understanding my vary in parts, esp on Isa 53, but that is a 2,000 year old debate that started among Jews on the two sides of the question of Jesus of Nazareth as the prophesied messiah.

    Just a FYI to bring a bit of balance, this is not a scripture debating forum. (Which is why I am willing to go along with “god” in this thread to denote some version or other of the god of the philosophers.)

    KF

  334. p.s re 325 Early Christianity – “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
    For some word fun -
    An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Creed in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 -
    http://carm.org/analysis-pre-p.....ans-151-11

    Also – what or why do you think scriptures, theologies etc developed after 516 BCE have anything to do with my position? What is not useful and significant of information arriving on planet Earth that is proven to come from beyond space and time and material or philosophical causes?

    May I say also your hermeneutical is one reason for you position and sadly like most if not all of the “christian” churches unable to hold correct doctrine while thinking they do – big other story and not meant to intrude here. Example: The “Temple” 1st – 2nd ARE NOT PHYSICAL ultimately, but are type and shadow of that made without hands – eternal as Abraham stated no matter how you contrive the words.

  335. 337

    LarTanner: “If the connection is necessary, then God’s choice to create is a necessary consequence of a necessarily existing being. . . . But if the connection is contingent, then what explains or accounts for it? Certainly not something wholly necessary, for the reason given above.”

    You seem to have bedazzled yourself with language and in the process created a false dilemma.

    God is necessary. The universe is contingent. The universe exists because God chose to create it

    Your argument rests on a subtle equivocation on the word “necessary.” Yes, the connection between God and the universe is necessary in the sense that the universe could not exist unless it was created by God. But “necessary connection” and “necessary existence” are wholly separate concepts that you have tried to make equivalent. At bottom you have committed a category error. To say that a being exists necessarily is to make an ontological statement. To say that one being is necessarily connected to another being is to make a statement about the logic of cause and effect.

    A necessary being can create a contingent being if it is possible for the necessary being to have chosen not to create the contingent being. The contingent being’s existence is accounted for as a consequence of an act of the necessary being’s will. Thus, we see that the contingent being is still contingent even though — if the contingent being in fact begins to exist — the connection between the contingent being and the necessary being is necessary.

  336. Kairosfocus, I’m an admirer of your summarizations of atheistic problems – e.g. post 332 is extremely to the point. Unfortunately I do not understand all of them.

    Kairosfocus (329)
    “It is a well known result that if a being is a candidate necessary being and is possible, it will be actual.
    That is because, such a being, if possible, exists in at least one possible world, but if necessity is indeed essential to its nature, it will be actual in all possible worlds. Just like 2 + 3 = 5 is like that.

    Can you elucidate your thesis? Why must a ‘possible candidate necessary being’ necessarily be actual in ‘at least one possible world’? I’m at a loss here. What do you mean with ‘possible worlds’? Are you referring to the multiverse?

  337. KF if you will allow me to try to answer Box:

    The materialistic conjecture of an infinity of universes to ‘explain away’ the fine tuning of this one also insures, through the ontological argument, the 100% probability of the existence of God:

    God Is Not Dead Yet – William Lane Craig – Page 4
    The ontological argument. Anselm’s famous argument has been reformulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. God, Anselm observes, is by definition the greatest being conceivable. If you could conceive of anything greater than God, then that would be God. Thus, God is the greatest conceivable being, a maximally great being. So what would such a being be like? He would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and he would exist in every logically possible world. But then we can argue:

    1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.
    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
    5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
    6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
    7. Therefore, God exists.

    Now it might be a surprise to learn that steps 2–7 of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist. So the whole question is: Is God’s existence possible? The atheist has to maintain that it’s impossible that God exists. He has to say that the concept of God is incoherent, like the concept of a married bachelor or a round square. But the problem is that the concept of God just doesn’t appear to be incoherent in that way. The idea of a being which is all-powerful, all knowing, and all-good in every possible world seems perfectly coherent. And so long as God’s existence is even possible, it follows that God must exist.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....ml?start=4

    Where the has gained purchase is in the materialist/atheist appeal to the multiverse (infinite possible worlds) to ‘explain away’ the extreme fine tuning of this universe, the materialist/atheist, without realizing it, ends up conceding the necessary premise to the ontological argument and thus guarantees sucess of the argument and the 100% probability of God’s existence!

    I like the concluding comment about the ontological argument from the following Dr. Plantinga video:

    “God then is the Being that couldn’t possibly not exit.”

    Ontological Argument – Dr. Plantinga (3:50 minute mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCXvVcWFrGQ

    Is God a Necessary Being? (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndmnIs2gMzI

    This following video deals with many of the technical objections that atheist/materialist have tried to raise to the ontological argument:

    The Ontological Argument (The Introduction) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQPRqHZRP68

    And as weird as it may sound, this following video refines the Ontological argument into a proof that, because of the characteristic of ‘maximally great love’, God must exist in more than one person:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

    Verse and Music:

    Psalm 115:2-3
    Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

    Casting Crowns – “Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)” – Live
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqrqPGt11bA

  338. LT:

    This is not a matter of playing definitional games.

    It is inherent to the theistic concept of god that god is a necessary being, and to the philosophical one as a result. You can debate all you want about another concept that does not embrace being the eternal — as in no beginning, no end — root of being, but it will not be the same.

    Maybe, as a pause, I need to discuss on causal factors much as I do in the NCSTS unit on building a worldview.

    Start with a fire.

    The necessary and sufficient causal conditions include: heat, fuel, oxidiser and heat-evolving chain reaction. Block any one and no fire begins or can be sustained. This is the fire tetrahedron, just ask a fire fighter.

    The fire is a contingent being, dependent on the four factors, each of which is necessary, all four being together sufficient. If you doubt, halon fire extinguishers interfere with the chain rxn.

    That is we have some on/off factors that must be on and a sufficient cluster, or no fire. Fires can begin, are sustained and can end.

    Now, ask what of a different class of being that has no external necessary causal factors? It does not go on or off, it is eternal, and it is present in all possible worlds.

    The truth in 2 + 3 = 5 is a simple case in point. There is no possible world that this does not hold in. If a world is possible this holds and it holds in the actual world.

    Now, consider a candidate: 2 + 3 = 4.

    There is no possible world in which it holds. It is impossible on pain of patent absurdity.

    That is where the issue of god lies.

    If inherently a candidate necessary being and possible, then actual.

    Conceptually, as eternal root of being, obviously a candidate.

    So, the issue is, possible or impossible?

    The older atheist argument on evils said, self-contradictory so impossible. That has collapsed as discussed.

    The logical positivists tied the route of ruling meaningless that which is not subject to empirical tests of verification or is not analytic, in crude terms. The various forms of the verification or verifiability principle then proceeded to cut its own throat.

    As to the connexion between god and the universe, it is the obvious one: god is creator; the ground and ultimate cause of its being.

    You seem to miss out the whole point of personhood too, persons are first causes, self-moved actuators of chains of consequences. Persons act by their power of choice as the start point for action. The eternal god would be the ultimate case in point.

    That may be a problem for a chance plus necessity materialist view but that is a view that then runs into all sorts of problems because of its attempt to extract persons with knowing, warranting, reasoning consciously aware minds from matter, even brain matter. As, this exchange between Crick and Johnson shows:

    Sir Francis Crick is on record, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    See the problem?

    KF

  339. Box:

    Sorry, that got somewhat technical.

    The possible worlds talk is one way of bringing out what is contingent and what is necessary. A possible world is logically possible, needs not be actual.

    A possible being exists in at least one possible world. In your case you exist in the actual one.

    A necessary being candidate, is conceived of as necessary but may not be real. But if such a being exists in one possible world, it exists in all possible worlds.

    That is another way of saying that the block to a necessary being candidate is that it is impossible or it is misconceived.

    The truth in 2 + 3 = 5 is in the relevant sense a being, and it is such that in no possible world will this truth fail. Not even an empty one that has no material objects in it. For, we can construct numbers out of sets that start with the empty set {} and build up from there as collections, equated to numbers. Then we can define operations and off we go.

    More than that, this did not begin at any time, nor can it cease. It is an eternal necessary truth, mind you a bit trivial! (BTW, there is an argument to God from the eternality of truth, and ending up as viewing such as eternally residing in the mind of god.)

    By contrast 2 + 3 = 4 cannot hold in any possible world. it is impossible.

    The point about god is that such a being would by definition be eternal, and that means not having external necessary factors that have to be “on” for it to exist. It is a serious candidate necessary being and so the objector to god has the choice of showing impossible or facing the implications of a possible necessary being.

    You may want to work your way through here on.

    This and this have a discussion that may also be helpful.

    Failing that, get out a box of matches and start playing around with them to understand necessity and sufficiency of causal factors. Then work out the logic of a suggested being that has no necessary causal factors. (I am sorry about how one word has to do more than one job in close proximity.)

    KF

  340. BA and BA77: Thanks a lot! KF

  341. F/N: BTW, notice how mathematics is actually independent of material entities, i.e. it is a wholly mental construct, that happens to anchor down to experienced reality through the sheer logical necessity [that word again!] of the consequences of something being so in this world? Favourite case, one objection to the Young wave theory of interference was that a small spherical object would have a dot of light in the middle of its shadow. That was imagined absurd, a disproof by contradiction. Until someone checked. You guessed it, yup, the dot is there all right! The “unreasonable” effectiveness of maths strikes again, and of course I have already held forth on how the unity and power of that math points to the mind behind it all . . . who was it was mocking math as a compass needle pointing to the ultimate mathematician again? KF

  342. @Elvis

    I’m not intending to be rude here, but you’d be wise to read up on deism before you suggest a deistic God could never form the basis of a religion. I’ll refer you too this website. http://moderndeism.com/index.html

    You’re right though; divine providence is a necessary condition for the existence of monotheism, that being said, it’s certainly not a necessary condition for the existence of a religion.

  343. LarTanner:

    This statement tells me you’re in way over your head and don’t know it. Have you ever done any serious textual study–not of biblical texts, but of any texts–in different languages?

    Does analysis of blog posts count?

    But really, what an absurd milestone.

    I have at best a very rudimentary familiarity with Hebrew and only slightly more in Greek. Serious textual study in the original languages? Hah.

    So I, as do most people, have to rely upon scholars. Not just in Hebrew and Greek, but in almost every other aspect of life. And in many cases we have to rely upon popularizations of scholars. So freaking what!?

    And for any particular scholar you chose to trot out I could probably trot out a scholar who has a contrary view.

    And if he had exposure to serious textual study in the original languages and so did you, do you really think the two of you would just auto-magically agree? Dream on.

    It is the wise amongst us who will readily admit that we do not know as much as we ought. It will motivate us to strive to more knowledge.

    None of which makes any sense given atheism.

  344. LarTanner:

    That Hebrew versus OT distinction is hardly my own invention, and the the interpretive lenses I’m bringing in include those of Second-Temple era Judaism (Judaisms, really) and early Christianity (Christianities, really). There’s more things in the heaven and earth of that history than you’ve dreamt of.

    Well, multiple Christianities in the midst of multiple Judaisms. Seems that they fight right in with the times.

    But why do you call the Judaisms “Judaisms” and the
    Christianities “Christianities” if there were no identifiable attributes that they shared, and by what basis did you decide that any particular Christianity was not just one amongst other Judaisms?

    And, might I ask you, how was it that Judaism (singular) was protected by the Roman empire and Christianity (singular) was not?

    How on earth did they decide who to throw to the lions!?

    The Romans just don’t seem to have had the same problems you have. Go figure.

  345. 347

    LT said:

    It is important to me. It’s something I value because hearing such a case articulated plainly and directly helped me immensely. It’s also something I value for my children.

    You’ve only reiterated that it is important to you to help others. That you were helped in the past by something similar doesn’t answer why you help; it only answers why you choose this form of help. Why should you help others at all?

    I’m not being facetious; you implied that you are deeply reflective about your views. If so, then please explain to me why you want to help people. Can you explain it in terms of your philosphy?

    Elvis4708 said:

    My answer is this; I do not want to take spirituality from people, but I want to dismantle religions from all sorts of political power and to support reason. I think the deistic way is the right way to go in these endeavors. If the ordinary man was convinced that there perhaps is a god, but that this god doesn´t care about him, then religions would collapse. That´s good enough for me!

    Why do you want to accomplish the collapse of religion?

  346. You insist that there is something a machine cannot do. If you tell me precisely what it is a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that!

    LOL! Really? Where to start.

    Make a perpetual motion machine.

    Make a machine that can make a machine that is not a machine.

    Make a machine that travels into the past and makes a machine that sucks up all available energy.

    and on and on and on

  347. Graham 2

    Yes indeed the effect does seem to appear “greater” but is in fact not because part of the cause was the time and energy used to setup the falling domino’s in the first place. So in this instance much more energy was spent on the cause than what was spent on the effect. What I’m trying to show you is that an effect will be greater than its cause as for the meaning of greater here goes….

    greater comparative of great

    Adjective

    Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.

    Adverb

    Excellently; very well.

    Synonyms

    major – larger

    Hope that helps!

  348. LarTanner

    And here is a fantastic read on why machines will never be what you might hope them to be.

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/allen/story.htm

    “There are roughly 10 billion neurones in a typical brain, and each neurone is, on average, connected to 1000 others. We still have very little idea of how this network of cells forms a cognitive mind, so the task of emulating it is extremely difficult. No one knows if it is even possible. “

  349. Correction

    Graham 2

    Yes indeed the effect does seem to appear “greater” but is in fact not because part of the cause was the time and energy used to setup the falling domino’s in the first place. So in this instance much more energy was spent on the cause than what was spent on the effect. What I’m trying to show you is that an effect can never* be greater than its cause as for the meaning of greater here goes….

    greater comparative of great

    Adjective

    Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.

    Adverb

    Excellently; very well.

    Synonyms

    major – larger

    Hope that helps!

  350. Andre: So your units of ‘greatness’ are Joules or some measure of energy ? Is that right ?

    My point was, how do you measure ‘greatness’ ?

    Say I give someone a present, and they are pleased. Is the effect (happiness) measurable ? In Joules ?

  351. Graham

    Greatness is of course not the same as greater…. nice try. Funny you should ask about happiness because just like love and beauty your precious materialistic science that explains everything and is the only truth and reality can not measure any of it. But lets get back to the original question you’ve been avoiding.

    What is greater? Intelligence or non-intelligence?

  352. I dont think Ive ever seen the goal-posts move so fast.

    Anyway, lets apply the definition of ‘greater’ that you so helpfully provided …

    Is intelligence more or less ‘intense’ than non-intelligence ?

    Is Intelligence of more or less ‘amount’ than non-Intelligence ?

    etc.

    To save time, perhaps you could simply define how Intelligence is ‘greater’ than non-Intelligence.

  353. Graham 2

    1.) Intelligence

    “The aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment.”

    David Wechsler

    2.) non-intelligence

    Incapable of thought thus, no rational thought, no acting purposefully, and unable to deal with its environment.

    So since intelligence does give us the ability to act purposefully, and deal with our environment it does stand to reason that it is greater than non-intelligence. The fact that we can’t even weigh it (amount) or measure its density (intensity) should be an indicator to you that its non-material. I can weigh a rock, I can measure its density but not intelligence. So intelligence therefor must be transcendent.

    And so man, as existing transcendence abounding in and surpassing toward possibilities, is a creature of distance. Only through the primordial distances he establishes toward all being in his transcendence does a true nearness to things flourish in him.”

    ? Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Reasons

  354. Andre
    I think by ‘greater’ you really mean ‘more impressive’ or something similarly vague. Intelligence is such an abstract concept its impossible to say it is ‘greater’ or ‘lesser’ than something else. The question is meaningless. Even worse, ‘non-Intelligent’ is a non-concept! I suspect that as soon as you see the ‘non’ in front of something, you assume it is inferior in some way.

    Is ‘green’ greater than ‘non green’ ?

    Sorry, this discussion is simply not coherent. As Dawkins frequently puts it, just because it is gramatically correct English, doesnt mean it has to make sense.

  355. Graham

    I do not see it as inferior, that is an assumption on your part, nothing can never be greater than something and non-intelligence is exactly that, its nothing.

    You’re taking advise from Richard Dawkins? LOL!

  356. Graham 2

    When something is “non” it does not describe what it is, but it describes what it is not, and in your example its describing that it is not green….

  357. Dear KRock,

    I´m perfectly aware of the existence of different deistic interpretations and that there deists that congregate regularly, performing rituals etc. But these movements are few, tiny small and have no ambitions to get involved with politics. Deism is philosophy, an intellectual standing and will therefore never be a mass movement.

    No, belief in providence is not necessary for the existence of religions. But the belief in gods whose activities in one way or the other affect man´s earthly life is. Generally; the common believer wants divine help in her daily struggle on earth. That´s what creates religions!

  358. Murray;

    In due time I will deliver answers to your question on my recently opened homesite elvestedt.se. Some “quickies”;

    1. (Ethnic) intolerance,
    2. Gender discrimination,
    3. Divine and prophetic sayings in conflict with human reason and democratic standards,
    4. Time used for religious practice could be used better
    5. Religious leaders do not take responsibility for their extremists´ doings

  359. 361

    @Andre:
    How does one objectivly define “greater”? Aren’t relations like greater, lesser and equals context-sensitive?

  360. Elvis:

    I think this gets close to the heart of the motivating force that drives a lot of what we are seeing:

    I do not want to take spirituality from people, but I want to dismantle religions from all sorts of political power and to support reason

    We have too often been taught a jaundiced view of history that sees it as irrational, dangerous to liberty and blames it for ever so many of the troubles of history. Religion as cultural scapegoat — oops, that is a religious image — or, as bogeyman. And yet, somehow it too often does not register that the religious impulse is a very dominant one in human history and culture, and that it — personally, as a worldview and motivating context for ethics and reform, in liberation struggles, in families and communities, in institutions and in the academy — has been the root of a LOT of what is right, not just what is wrong.

    That is, there is a major balance problem. The lack of it, that is.

    This is similar to the way that Capitalism and Western Civilisation, or the blue eyed, blond or red haired devils [too often with a certain kind of nose held typical of a certain particular caucasoid ethnicity] have come in as the stereotypical scapegoats for the world’s ills.

    I think the time has more than come for a more balanced, less polarised, more understanding view of the human predicament, and for an appreciation that is critically aware but fair minded and better informed.

    Bernard Lewis, in his epochal essay on the roots of Muslim rage, put it well:

    . . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet . . . .

    In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation. We do not hold Western medical science in general, or Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Alzheimer in particular, responsible for the diseases they diagnosed and to which they gave their names.

    Of course, for much of the time when both the problems were going on and the reforms were being made, this civilisation was known as Christendom. And of course, many of the perps and most of the reformers went to church; often to different churches in very different degrees of spiritual health (cf. Rev 1 – 3 on that . . .). I think that has led to a post hoc problem that has improperly assigned the blame, one driven by what comes across to me as a wrongheaded view of the human heart and predicament.

    I usually sum it up more or less like this: we are finite, fallible, morally struggling/fallen, and too often ill willed, rage-driven [a notoriously blinding emotion] and closed minded. So, we would be well advised, to pause and listen to one of those great religious teachers, who happens to be the most powerful reformer of all time, in his most famous sermon:

    Matt 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

    Notice, the careful balance. First attend to planks in our own eyes, then seeing clearly, help others. However, beware of the pigs, who don’t know or care about the difference between pearls and acorns, and have no value on pearls. Finding pearls not acorns, they become angry and go into attack mode — and I have been astonished at the dagger-like tusks on big pigs [which can be as big as a lion!], I would call them FANGS.

    With that view, we are in a better position to see that the problem lies in our own desperately deceitful and sinful hearts. Turning from this to the path of virtue and right and truth step by persistent step is the way forward, genuinely forward. Then, we can see that the problem is not that corrupt power seized control of churches, but corrupt power. That can seize control of parliaments, universities, government bureaucracies, police offices, prosecutors’ offices etc today.

    Indeed, if you look on the history of Nazi Germany, you will see that Wiemar Germany had a lovely constitution, but the people were willing to let the monster in the door — thinking they could control it and get back to stability, progress and prosperity. BIG MISTAKE.

    It seems they don’t properly teach that history today: a failed democracy that led to a dark night of tyranny.

    Over in Russia, the monarchy discredited itself, and in crude summary the moderate socialists took over under Kerensky who tried to institute a more progressive version — involving stakeholder participative groups known as soviets — on what looks like something that emerged form a view of the British model, constitutional monarchy. Then he declared a republic in the fall of 1917, unwisely thought that he had no enemies on the left (the right was the obvious target . . . ) and he managed to alienate those he would have needed to save him from what was coming. The Bolsheviks then led a coup in October (Julian Calendar) and Kerensky could not muster enough force in enough time to fight for the provisional government, was defeated and exiled. Civil war followed and then a ruthless, radically secularist atheistical totalitarian dictatorship that had power to select its successors. Dozens of millions dead internally.

    Now, are these familiar stories to us? Or, do we have little or no knowledge of them?

    But, these are the stores behind the major alternatives of C20 to the Judaeo-Christian worldview derived democratic republic or constitutional monarchy that seeks to govern based on law that embeds accountability, checks and balances not power in the hands of unaccountable men.

    What is that telling us about the hidden curriculum in our formal and informal education systems?

    Why is it we are so often so preoccupied with the dangers of “religion” but not with the dangers of secularism and occultic neopaganism, fascism [which is a LEFT wing, statist, politically messianistic system] and radical statist power?

    Yes there can be such a thing as a theocratic, church-state alliance dictatorship, just as a secularist one. The problem is loss of liberty and establishment of unaccountable power in the hands of sinners. Where the set of sinners and the set of human beings are so overlapped that all of us are vulnerable.

    We can also point out that democracies can go out5 of control, doing folly based on losing sight of reality, and that they can be tempted to oppress minorities. That points to the importance of checks, balances and rule of law that enshrines liberty and mutual respect.

    Which brings up the need for ethics to guide all, and for a grounding of ethics.

    Thence the IS-OUGHT gap that is so characteristic of secularist systems of thought, and the point that there is but one place where OUGHT can be successfully inserted into a worldview, its foundational reality.

    Where by far and away the best candidate for this is the inherently good God our creator and loving Lord. Who would perforce be worthy of worship and service in love, truth purity and spiritual power.

    Which shows us the role of reformed, balanced, wholesome religion in society.

    So, can we please think again?

    Before, we have to relearn the lessons of the Russian and German revolutions oft he century just past the hard way?

    When it comes to supporting reason, we need to ask, what is reason and what grounds it.

    We can rest assured that evolutionary materialism, as has been outlined above, ends in self-referential incoherence on the subject of the reasoning, accurately understanding, warranting and knowing mind. if you doubt me, look carefully at the sort of objections that are made to this observation on where genetic and sociocultural determinism in a world of chance and necessity lead us.

    The God who is Reason himself, who is Communication himself, who made a world on principles of order that we know as laws of nature and can identify through investigation, who sustains nature by his powerful word, is a very powerful basis for reason and reasonableness.

    Look above, and ask yourself, does the ignorant, stupid insane or wicked taunt fit the theists you are seeing? Does someone who sees in mathematics a powerful rational order reflective of the architect of reality sound to you like someone who is likely to be irrational?

    Does someone who stands up for the priority of first principles of right reason and insists on every tub must stand on its own bottom worldview grounding sound like an irrational idiot?

    Does someone who champions democracy under sound law with checks and balances sound like an enemy of liberty?

    Not to mention someone who has not only studied science at graduate level but who taught it at secondary and college levels, and who actually developed degree programmes for others and is presently trying to found a cyber based college with computer science as a major feature sound like a superstitious, benighted, religion-maddened, theocratic totalitarian would be censor and inquisiiton torturer, a enemy of reason and progress?

    Or, are we seeing some very nasty stereotypical strawmen set up for convenient pummelling?

    Please, think again.

    KF

  361. Elvis4708, It may, or may not, interest you to know that modern science has confirmed the Theistic, not Deistic, worldview as correct.

    In what I consider an absolutely fascinating discovery, 4-dimensional (4D) space-time was created in the Big Bang and continues to ‘expand equally in all places’:

    Where is the centre of the universe?:
    Excerpt: There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a “Big Bang” about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualized as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.
    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/.....entre.html

    Thus from a 3-dimensional (3D) perspective, any particular 3D spot in the universe is to be considered just as ‘center of the universe’ as any other particular spot in the universe is to be considered ‘center of the universe’. This centrality found for any 3D place in the universe is because the universe is a 4D expanding hypersphere, analogous in 3D to the surface of an expanding balloon. All points on the surface are moving away from each other, and every point is central, if that’s where you live.

    Centrality of Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879

    As well Quantum Mechanics has now shown that the Quantum Waves of photons collapse to each unique point of conscious observation in the universe:

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579

    Double Slit Experiment – Explained By Prof Anton Zeilinger (a leader in quantum teleportation breakthroughs) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6101627/

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality. [14]
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Three intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries: Wheeler’s Delayed Choice: Leggett’s Inequalities) https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    The Galileo Affair and the true “Center of the Universe”
    Excerpt: I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3D state is centered on each individual conscious observer in the universe, whereas, 4D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism, Christian Theism in particular, offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe. [15]
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    Moreover Elvis, besides caring about each of us individually, God is literally ‘continuously infinite’ to each and every photon in the universe’: i.e. God continually ‘upholds’ the universe in His infinite power:

    Particle and Wave-Like Behavior of Light Measured Simultaneously (Nov. 1, 2012)
    Excerpt: Dr Peruzzo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: “The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment. This represents a strong refutation of models in which the photon is either a wave or a particle.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141107.htm

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

  362. Moreover Elvis, you also have this little ‘front loading’ problem confronting your preferred Deistic model:

    The following article shows why the Deistic model of ‘front loading’ into the initial conditions of the universe, is insufficient to explain the appearance of any subsequent life on earth:

    The Front-loading Fiction – Dr. Robert Sheldon – 2009
    Excerpt: Historically, the argument for front-loading came from Laplacian determinism based on a Newtonian or mechanical universe–if one could control all the initial conditions, then the outcome was predetermined. First quantum mechanics, and then chaos-theory has basically destroyed it, since no amount of precision can control the outcome far in the future. (The exponential nature of the precision required to predetermine the outcome exceeds the information storage of the medium.),,, Even should God have infinite knowledge of the outcome of such a biological algorithm, the information regarding its outcome cannot be contained within the system itself.
    http://procrustes.blogtownhall.....tion.thtml

    A few more notes along that line:

    Is “Front Loaded” Evolution Plausible? – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5337990

    “Limits to Self-Organization (From Initial Conditions)” – podcast
    Excerpt: Dr. Johns shows that Darwinian evolution is actually a type of a self-organizing process, and that it is limited in the types of biological structures it can produce.
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....9_44-07_00

    But, Elvis, why should you even personally prefer the Deistic model to be correct over the correct Theistic model? I see no advantage over the nihilism of atheism. ,, It is literally beyond our greatest wishes and aspirations that the Creator of this universe should actually care about each of us rather than to disregard us as trash!

    Music and verse

    Casting Crowns – Who am I? with lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt7OZyBj5Ik

    Psalm 8:3-4
    When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

  363. 365

    Elvis4708 @ 360:

    1. (Ethnic) intolerance,
    2. Gender discrimination,
    3. Divine and prophetic sayings in conflict with human reason and democratic standards,
    4. Time used for religious practice could be used better
    5. Religious leaders do not take responsibility for their extremists´ doings

    Telling me that you’re trying to stop Y because it does X only moves the question back to why you’re trying to stop X.

    If I accept the above for the sake of argument, why should you seek to put a stop to those things?

    I’m not asking you what you’re trying to accomplish; I’m asking you why you’re trying to accomplish it.

  364. To answer as many comments as I can:

    alan@334: It’s said in a later comment that UD is not a biblical exegesis forum, so I’ll respect that and not remark on Daniel 9:25. I wonder, however, why you ask the question and what you hope it will accomplish. The question is way peripheral to the larger point I was making, which boils down to different interpretive approaches generating very different readings and reading traditions. Hardly controversial.

    KF@335: We basically agree. The larger traditions of Judaism and Christianity boil down to a(n irreconcilable) conflict of interpretive strategy. The figure of Jesus himself is not so much the issue, at least from a Jewish perspective.

    alan@336: I am not and have never been a Christian.

    Barry@337: Surely you see that your dancing to divine volition does not escape the problem I highlighted in #333. Your problem is with the philosophy you’re trying to wield as a sledgehammer, not with my language. Weak appeals to my “bedazzling with language” and “definitional games” are but a ploy to cover over your own frustration with being unable to close your case.

    KF@340: I have to confess that as soon as I wrote #333 i knew the fire tetrahedron was coming. You also completely avoid the specific problem I highlight in #333. Surely you know the controversies on necessary beings, whether they are really beings and/or really necessary. That you’ve made up your mind on the matter doesn’t mean the matter is settled.

    Mung@345: The point is that through textual study, especially textual study, one sees concretely that the information is never “just there.”

    Mung@346: have you just gone “full special,” as the kids say, or do you have a conspiracy theory to introduce?

    WJM@347: I am trying to answer your question directly. I don’t know what you are getting at when I answer and it’s somehow not good enough. I help be cause I want to. it’s my personal preference. I like the subject matter and I like discussing it. I don’t know what else to tell you. is it possible that you are looking for a particular response so that you can make a larger point? If so, please recall our earlier discussion on ulterior motives.

    Mung@348: Again into the realm of “full special.” I cannot take you seriously.

    Andre:@350: Sure, mate. Man will never do it. People will never walk on the moon. Yatta, yatta. Let’s now sing “How great is our dog,” or however the song goes. Have you met Mung? Talk with him. I think you’d like each other.

  365. JWTruthInLove

    You say;

    It is deciding which account of the context-sensitivity of knowledge is favored by the balance of considerations.

  366. I should just give up on block quotes hehehehehe….

    Your answer to your question JWTruthInLove is;

    It is deciding which account of the context-sensitivity of knowledge is favored by the balance of considerations.

  367. LT, perhaps instead on telling others about what your preference for reality ought to be, and how it is not irrational to hold a atheistic worldview, (in fact I get the impression that you are quite smug in your belief that atheism is better than other worldviews) ,, perhaps you could be a little more specific and clearly demonstrate how blind unintelligent ‘natural’ processes can generate functional information so that, at least I, don’t think you are operating on blind faith that would a suicide bomber to shame?

  368. BA,

    How could I hope to demonstrate such a thing myself? I am not a scientist and not a mathematician. In your request, you use language that already smuggles in the concepts that need to be elucidated: and I’m the one who gets accused of playing games with words!

    All you and I have are our experiences, observations, reflections, and the work of others.

    You think I’m too aggressive, assertive, confrontational, assured, or whatever. Maybe I am. I don’t think it’s blind faith, as you charge. I hope that at least some of my comments give you reason to think that there is a little depth to my views.

    So, if you think I’m trying to tell you what reality is or that my view is more or less rational than yours…well, I don’t think that’s the case and it’s not what I’m going for anyway. No offense, but I prefer trying to discuss these things instead of linking to a bunch of sites and papers in what to me appears as a giant act of ventriloquism.

    Keep pressing that button in the lobby…that’s what makes the elevator come faster.

  369. 371

    LT said:

    I am trying to answer your question directly. I don’t know what you are getting at when I answer and it’s somehow not good enough. I help be cause I want to. it’s my personal preference. I like the subject matter and I like discussing it. I don’t know what else to tell you. is it possible that you are looking for a particular response so that you can make a larger point? If so, please recall our earlier discussion on ulterior motives.

    I’m not looking for ulterior motives; I’m trying to understand your motive, trying to understand the guiding principle behind your trying to help others and what quality makes it “helping” as opposed to, say, “harming”.

    Above you say, “I help because I want to.” Is “I want to” the justifying principle or reason that informs why you do what you do, and is it the justification for defining those actions as “helping others” by providing them the information you about atheism/theism?

    If so, how is that principle – according to your philosophy – different from the reason why theists supply the information they do? Is what priests and popes and ayatollahs and inquisitors do not “what they want to do” (as per your explanation) and then, as such, are they not equally entitled (via your principle of “I want to = action = helping”) to call what they are doing “helping others”?

    IOW, when you boil it down in your philosophy, aren’t you just doing whatever you want to do, and then calling it “helping” others? If not, then what principle beyond “what I want” makes it different from what anyone else wants/does?

  370. WJM, I would not say there is a single guiding principle. There’s desire, a subjective/subjunctive determination of what would benefit others, time relative to other activities in my life, a need to interact with people, a chance to learn and/or argue.

    I can’t speak to why others supply the information they do in the manner they do.

    IOW, when you boil it down in your philosophy, aren’t you just doing whatever you want to do, and then calling it “helping” others?

    I don’t know if anything I’ve ever said on the internet in these discussions has helped another or not. At one point in this thread, you said something I took to mean you enjoyed the dialogue too. So, perhaps we have helped each other simply by talking.

  371. 373

    Apparently, Elvis’ claim that Science informs logically-minded observers of the falsity in theism, is a claim he/she doesn’t wish to defend.

  372. 374

    LT said:

    I don’t know if anything I’ve ever said on the internet in these discussions has helped another or not. At one point in this thread, you said something I took to mean you enjoyed the dialogue too. So, perhaps we have helped each other simply by talking.

    LT, the line of questioning isn’t about whether or not anything you’ve said or done has actually helped anyone or not; it’s about the motivation of wanting to help others, and the principle that guides how one sorts the difference between “helping” and “harming”.

    In my philosophy, “enjoying” a thing, or “wanting” a thing, is not a sound principle by which to arbit whether any action of mine can be reasonably considered “helping” anyone. Someone may want to torture children; they may enjoy torturing children. Does that mean they are helping the children? Someone may want to continually smoke crack with their friends; their friend and them may enjoy doing it. Is the first guy “helping” his friend in any reasonable sense?

    You told me once in this thread not to assume that you hadn’t deeply reflected upon your atheistic philosophy; yet here you are stymied to give me an accounting of your motivation for helping others other than “I want to”, and unable to provide any rationale that justifies your use of the term “help” in regards to your activities, other than that you enjoy it.

    Since there is no principle guiding either your motivation or your use of the term “help” that differentiates between what you do and what anyone else does (under your philosophy), then doing what you do under the guise of the term “helping others” is nothing more than an empty attempt to characterize yourself in a positive light by using terms that have no substantive meaning in your philosophy – other than, “because I want to” and “because I enjoy it”.

    Reasons that any mass murderer or vicious lunatic could equally apply.

    I don’t say these things to attack you; I say them to reveal to you that you may not have reflected as deeply upon your philosophy as you might think, and that further thought may be warranted – unless, of course, you are satisfied living by the behavioral principles of “because I want to” and “because I enjoy it”.

  373. Now LT, I noticed that you dismissed the empirical science we now have by saying ‘you are not a scientist’ as if this excuses you from the obligation you have of grounding your preferred atheistic belief within reality, and moreover you offered snide comments to my linking of the broadly accepted empirical results of others. LT, since you refuse to provide empirical warrant that your preferred atheistic worldview is grounded in reality, just what am I to make of all your philosophical posturing save to think that you are debating that you think your dream is more enjoyable than someone else’s dream is? So What? I don’t care what you think of your dream, I only care to see what reality actually is!,,, For instance I brought up functional information because, despite challenging atheists, for several years now, I have not seen any convincing evidence whatsoever for even one, JUST ONE, single novel functional protein worth’s of functional information being generated by ‘natural’ processes, but, on the other hand, I know for a fact that conscious intelligence, something that I experience first hand, can generate it. You yourself provide empirical evidence that conscious intelligence can generate far more functional information than has ever been observed, or that ever be reasonably expected, to be generated by the entire material processes of the universe over the entire history of the universe. And seeing that the simplest bacteria on earth has an estimated 10^12 bits of information in it (well over the library of congress has), this should give you a big clue that your atheistic ‘dream’ is not panning out for how reality actually is!. Moreover LT, quantum mechanics has consistently, and strongly, indicated that ‘non-local’ consciousness precedes wave collapse to a particle state. Needless to say, all this should be a tremendous wake up call to your atheistic dreamland state, but no what do we get from you, and other self assured atheists as yourself? We get blatant denialism and willful distortion of the plain facts that we now have in hand. This is simply completely shameful for anyone who contends they are ‘only’ wanting to get to the truth.

  374. LT:

    The fire tetrahedron shows that a contingent being is one that had dependence on enabling causal factors.

    It shows why such a being may not come to be, why it has a beginning, and why it has an end if such a factor is withdrawn.

    By those facts, it immediately raises the question, what of a being that does not have such enabling factors, and it answers that such would have no beginning, no dependence and no end, it would be eternal. And to block a serious candidate — something that is not simply a contingent being being improperly promoted (think of the pink unicorns attempted rebuttal to the modal ontological argument in one of the vid clips) — the issue is going to be that it is impossible, not that it is not essentially different from a contingent being.

    All of that so far is if, then, on simple logic.

    Dismissing such does not make it go away.

    Do such beings exist?

    Yes, the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 is a true proposition that necessarily obtains in all possible worlds. (And of course you know that the usual understanding is, that this lives eternally in the mind of God.)

    Is our cosmos such a being? No, it is credibly contingent on many grounds.

    But that contingency points immediately to dependence on enabling factors.

    The root of being is going to lie in a necessary being.

    Formerly, many scientists thought this was the cosmos as a whole, but then along came the big bang evidence.

    So, we are looking at a cosmos with a beginning that cries out for a beginner.

    Dismissing such does not make it go away.

    Branes, oscillating and budding univcerses, quantum fluctuations, declaring such to be pulling a cosmos out of nothing, etc show that we are really in need of a necessary being, and trying to dismiss such does not make it go away.

    Add in things like the fine tuning of reality and out being credibly under moral government, as well as the astonishing unity and utility of mathematics and we see ourselves pointing to MIND, designing mind, as the root of being.

    Now, you want to put up objections on claims that necessary beings are not necessary or don’t exist.

    Okay, produce your evidence, not a dismissive summary or an appeal to opinion or consensus.

    And, remember, I am NOT offering deductive proofs that depend on assent to propositions serving as premises, I am pointing to a best explanation framework overall, and I am pointing out that a contingent cosmos cries out for a necessary being as root of its existence, where also there are simultaneously other issues crying out for explanation.

    A very serious candidate is God, a necessary being and one who grounds the fine tuned cosmos and the morals and our own minds.

    But all of this is on a tangent, you were trying to deny that atheists are committed to the impossibility of God. If what you are trying to say is that necessary beings is a category that is incoherent or empty, kindly show us how that is so. And do so in a way that retains the credibility of your knowing, reasoning and consciousness, and does not deny that we live in a real and credibly contingent world in which at least some moral obligations — thus moral government — are real.

    KF

  375. PS: Remember, we start from being in a world that self-evidently, exists. We cannot deny its reality without absurdity — which some do not hesitate to do. So, we are living in a situation that confronts us with the challenge, why something rather than nothing, and why a world like we experience. Similarly, it is highly credible that the only cosmos we have evidence for — the one we inhabit — is contingent. I take it as also self evident that that which is not cannot cause that which is, i.e from nothing (non-being) nothing can come about. So, if something now is, necessarily something always was. Somewhere there is something eternal, and it is not credibly an infinite chain of contingencies, as the thermodynamics alone would have run it down into heat death by now. Far more credible is: a necessary being, and one that fits the other criteria above.

  376. PPS: Note too, that I have expressed what contingency and necessity of being are dynamically, and on our basis of experience of such orders of reality. Recall, numbers will exist even in an immaterial world, once the sort of empty set logical procedure is employed, and the operations and relationships will follow.

  377. One more post and then I am off to enjoy a weekend that hopefully includes an easy victory for my New England Patriots.

    Once more into the breach, then.

    WJM@374: I told you my motivation and I gave you a set of guiding principles, just like you asked. Then you have the gall say I have “no principle guiding either your motivation or your use of the term “help” that differentiates between what you do and what anyone else does (under your philosophy)”? You have insight the reasons applied by mass murderers or vicious lunatics apply. I don’t, and don’t see how this relates to the OP. But if you think that, as a Christian, your own motivations and guiding principles are of a different order than mine, then you are simply fantasizing.

    BA@375: “Dismiss”: it’s the favorite word of the tantrum-thrower. Unless I get down on my knees, confess my sinful nature, and start singing one of those creepy psycho-sexual songs you like so much, I’m not taking your arm’s-length interpretations of the years/decades of work done by others seriously enough. Ridiculously, you give a loaded question that demands I initiate a one-man microbiological research program. I may as well ask you when you stopped beating your wife: it’s the same dirty tactic. I don’t care at all about what you make of my philosophical posturing. At the end of the day, we’re in the same boat. Go on, keep pressing that button for the elevator to come, I won’t stop you. Just get off my back for not doing so myself.

    KF@375: I have not dismissed anything about contingent or necessary beings. On the contrary, I took the notion seriously and asked what the relationship was between the a particular, hypothesized necessary being and the contingent universe. Is that connection necessary or contingent? The consequences are spelled out for you in #333, and you are left with a brute contingency. And I do not deny that some atheists assert the impossibility of God. Some deny rhetorically and others make a more philosophic case for it. Many do not assert this, Dawkins for example. You can accuse Dawkins of being philosophically naive, and perhaps he is. Indeed, he probably is. To my knowledge, Dawkins is more interested in the God people believe in, the God of the Bible, who is a far cry from the philosopher’s God. In any case, the soundness of your argument is not established, as you know. So, it’s a nice argument that just needs a final kick to be convincing for me.

  378. LarTanner,

    What’s the point of textual study of you miss the message?

    Or is that the point?

    Have you ever done any serious textual study – not of biblical texts, but of any texts – in different languages?

    Why exclude Biblical texts?

    Why on earth are you asking him to study second temple Judaism while asking if he’s done any textual study that doesn’t include Biblical texts? Seems self-defeating.

  379. 381

    LarTanner #379:

    Your assumptions about my beliefs are erroneous.

    I appreciate the exchange; however, it reveals that while you want to “help others”, you cannot answer (1) why one should strive to help others in the first place, other than “because I want to”, and (2) how “helping others” can be meaningfully distinguished from “harming others”, other than by the measurement of “enjoyment”.

    I didn’t say that I knew how mass murderers et al justified their behavior; I said they could justify it by applying your “because I want to” and “enjoyment” explanations.

    It appear that you have not been “deeply reflective” of your philosophy, considering your reaction to some rather elementary questions about it.

    I’m still waiting for anyone else up to the challenge to explain to me why they, as atheists and/or materialists, argue against theism and for atheism/materialism, and then to boldly and unflinchingly answer questions about their motivations and justifications.

  380. LT, cutting through all the rhetoric, you state:

    “you give a loaded question that demands I initiate a one-man microbiological research program.”

    No LT, I demanded no such thing. In fact, I’ll do the “work” for you and show you the results of the last 4 decades of microbial research that Dr. Michael Behe has so graciously gone through the trouble of summarizing for us:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.(that is a net ‘fitness gain’ within a ‘stressed’ environment i.e. remove the stress from the environment and the parent strain is always more ‘fit’)
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Or perhaps you feel that Dr. Behe is biased in all this, thus I will show you the results of Dr. Lenski’s work on e-coli after 50,000 generations which is equivalent to about 1 million years of supposed human evolution:

    Mutations : when benefits level off – June 2011 – (Lenski’s e-coli after 50,000 generations: equivalent to about 1 million years of human evolution)
    Excerpt: After having identified the first five beneficial mutations combined successively and spontaneously in the bacterial population, the scientists generated, from the ancestral bacterial strain, 32 mutant strains exhibiting all of the possible combinations of each of these five mutations. They then noted that the benefit linked to the simultaneous presence of five mutations was less than the sum of the individual benefits conferred by each mutation individually.
    http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/1867.htm?theme1=7

    New Research on Epistatic Interactions Shows “Overwhelmingly Negative” Fitness Costs and Limits to Evolution – Casey Luskin June 8, 2011
    Excerpt: In essence, these studies found that there is a fitness cost to becoming more fit. As mutations increase, bacteria faced barriers to the amount they could continue to evolve. If this kind of evidence doesn’t run counter to claims that neo-Darwinian evolution can evolve fundamentally new types of organisms and produce the astonishing diversity we observe in life, what does?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47151.html

    I have a hunch that the true reason you want to “dismiss’ this evidence is not because you have any imagined ‘moral’ objection to me ‘throwing tantrums’, but is instead because you know full well that you cannot ground your preferred atheistic worldview within reality, and thus the only option you have is to try to deflect attention away from the sheer absence of evidence you have for your worldview.

  381. LT: Your attempted dismissal — yes it is — on incoherence was answered, you just don’t want to accept it. Also, you have been side-slipping away from the key issue I have posed in the context of a best explanation cumulative case. namely, what is the metaphysical price you have to pay? To build your world, what is it that you have to start with and what is it that you have to show? In a context where certain things have to be credibly accounted for. I find nowhere a coherent answer from you, only the isolated suggestion that you can put up a counter argument. Do so, in a factually adequate, coherent and simple but not simplistic way, please. It is that level of the challenge that is really decisive, and in general I find that too many atheists are content to play the default and object game. KF

  382. F/N: Just in brief reminder, agent explanations inherently are about self-moved first causes, and they are not explained on being necessitated or being chance driven. Indeed if you have done decision tree analysis you will see that, that is why probability distributions are not assigned to agent actions. Now that we are here, obviously it is necessary that some cause acted adequate to ground that. That is not the question. What is the question is that we are part of a credibly contingent world in a context where a beginning is also highly credible. We need to reckon with the absence of causal efficacy of non-being, and account for contingency. That leads to necessity as ground of contingent reality. That necessity has been drawn out on the terms of lacking enabling causal factors and so being eternal. Multiply by fine tuning and evident design and we are at purpose, skill, knowledge and power to effect same. Bring in our being under moral government and we have a necessary being who is the purposeful, enormously powerful, knowledgeable, rational and skillful architect and maker of the world who is moral governor as the explanation to beat. So far, nothing proffered from the atheistical side has come close.

  383. bornagain77;
    Wow! I´m impressed by all your talking. I need some time to digest and evaluate what you are saying. I´ll come back.

  384. F/N 2: Maybe this from Plato in The Laws Bk X will help:

    ____________

    >> Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.] >>

    ____________

    Now, remember, we are not looking for a classic deductive proof on premises that are evident and acceptable to all [after Godel that is probably a hopeless project in any case once we have any rich system], but for a worldview framework that per the alternatives is factually adequate, coherent, and elegantly simple and powerful but not simplistic in explanations, on comparative difficulties. Remember, all worldviews have clusters of first plausibles on which they stand, and that is what we are fishing for here.

    Now, look back above, have you seen in outline or linked the various options? Which has been most satisfioactory, why?

    KF

  385. Murray;
    A hypothesis of mine is that religious people, living today, to at least 90 per cent are brought up by religious parents. What about you? Were your parents religious?

  386. @ LarTanner – 313

    LarTanner: “It [telling people about atheism] is important to me. It’s something I value because hearing such a case articulated plainly and directly helped me immensely. It’s also something I value for my children.”

    I have had an atheistic upbringing. And I vividly remember that at the age of 6 my mother explained ‘death’ to me in terms of ‘total blackness’ and ‘the end’. I also remember that I objected: ‘But that does not go for us, right mom? You and me are not going to die, right mom?’. ‘We are going to die as well as anybody else my son’, she answered. This ‘news’ was completely shocking to me. I remember that I was laying in my bed staring in the darkness and was not able to sleep. There was no reason to check this with anybody else, everything my mother said was the absolute truth. I don’t think that I exaggerate when I say that this has had a major impact on me for a very long time.
    But of course not all children are alike, maybe your children will benefit from atheism.

  387. I almost forgot: My thanks to bornagain77 (339) and kaiofocus (341) for their explanations. I’m still trying to figure it out.

  388. LT: One excuse after another (“various interpretations” = bla, bla, bla), obfuscate the subject, and don’t deal with evidence, – just sad.

    AGAIN: (everyone – anyone) the type and precision of the information found in ancient pre Christ writings (regardless of who, why or language used or interpretations) is MUCH BETTER EXPLAINED as having arose by an INTELLIGENT AGENT and of such precision and character as having a weight far beyond computing ALL the constants and uniquely unlikely characteristics melding together to allow life and the observation and exploration of both life and the material construct of the universe. In this I am making a scientific / mathematical argument – NOT a “religious” one though really any belief system or position is religious having it own faith component.

    As I tried to point out: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
    So how does all this relate to atheism being rational? – With this type of information existing on planet Earth – well it just isn’t, only seemingly so from the imaginations of a materialist conditioned mind set.

    LT: I am eager for you to help me understand why you said I am “way over my head” on this and would truly love specifics and teaching to show me as I am truly open to correction.

    I guess we are all ready to move on though…

  389. I’d like to meet a rational atheist some day, just to be able to say I’d done it before I pass on. I just added that to my “bucket list.”

  390. LT:
    alan@334: It’s said in a later comment that UD is not a biblical exegesis forum, so I’ll respect that and not remark on Daniel 9:25. I wonder, however, why you ask the question and what you hope it will accomplish. The question is way peripheral to the larger point I was making, which boils down to different interpretive approaches generating very different readings and reading traditions. Hardly controversial.

    Well – you are the one claiming to have put all this to bed with you contextual
    analysis etc., but what it might accomplish could be beyond your imagination
    and I don’t mean that in any way patronizing.

    OH – the end – maybe….

  391. p.s. unless you can tell me what it means that is sufficient to correct what I know about it and many many more – thus the statistical improbability question.

    quit already Alan will ya!

  392. 394

    A hypothesis of mine is that religious people, living today, to at least 90 per cent are brought up by religious parents. What about you? Were your parents religious?

    I have a hypothesis as well. My hypothesis is that all people, living today, were brought up by fallible parents who held a range of beliefs, where some of those beliefs were correct while others were incorrect. One wonders how I could possibly construe this fact as interesting in a discussion where I attack what others believe and have been challenged to justify what I believe. Such an exercise on my part could only demonstrate that I seek to confirm my beliefs with meaningless observations, in place of justifying them with reason.

    :|

  393. Reason, is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.

    There’s that nasty I word again.

  394. F/N:

    For those willing to kick it up several notches, cf here on modal logic, esp S5. Then you may want to look at the discussion here.

    Hey, let me clip this last:

    Hartshorne’s ontological argument is based on Anselm’s second argument and claims that God’s existence is logically necessary. Hartshorne’s argument is given here, where “N(A)” means “it is logically necessary that A,” “~A” means “it is not the case that A,” “–>” is strict implication, “v” means “or,” and “g” means “God exists”:

    g –> N(g)
    N(g) v ~N(g)
    ~N(g) –> N(~N(g))
    N(g) v N(~N(g))
    N(~N(g)) –> N(~g)
    N(g) v N(~g)
    ~N(~g)
    N(g)
    N(g) –> g
    g

    This argument is valid. Furthermore, given an Anselmian conception of God, premises one and five are sound. Premise two is just the law of the excluded middle, and premise three is a law of the modal logic S5. Premise nine is obviously sound, so this leaves premise seven as the only premise to question. Premise seven says that it is logically possible that God exists . . . .

    The argument turns on the distinction between necessity and contingency, and upon the distinction between mere possibility and the nature of necessary being as not mere possible. In other words, God is either necessary or impossible. If God exists than he is ontologically necessary, because he is logically necessary by definition. But if he does not exist than it is ontologically impossible that he exists, or could come to exist. This is because God cannot be contingent, by definition. A contingency is just not God. So if God is possible, he can’t be “merely possible” and thus is not impossible, which means he must be necessary.

    The key point comes back to where the exchange started, as eternality is core to the concept of God and is known to mean necessity of being, the objector to the existence of God faces the challenge that he implies that God is impossible.

    KF

  395. 397
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Kairosfocus @ 284

    What is the question is that we are part of a credibly contingent world in a context where a beginning is also highly credible. We need to reckon with the absence of causal efficacy of non-being, and account for contingency. That leads to necessity as ground of contingent reality. That necessity has been drawn out on the terms of lacking enabling causal factors and so being eternal. Multiply by fine tuning and evident design and we are at purpose, skill, knowledge and power to effect same. Bring in our being under moral government and we have a necessary being who is the purposeful, enormously powerful, knowledgeable, rational and skillful architect and maker of the world who is moral governor as the explanation to beat. So far, nothing proffered from the atheistical side has come close.

    That’s because the theist has a single explanation for (i) the existence of the universe; (ii) the existence and history of life; (iii) the nature of rational norms, including moral norms. The atheist doesn’t have a single explanation for all three things; she has three different explanations for each of those three things, each of which has some degree of plausibility.

    But I really do not believe for a moment that either theism or atheism has a rational basis. I think that William James was exactly right when he criticized evidentialism in his “The Will to Believe.” When it comes to embracing a comprehensive world-view, it’s not that we believe what we ‘want’ to, but that we embrace a vision of things that we need to embrace, that calls out to us. I’ve known people who were miserable as atheists and overjoyed to become theists, and likewise, people who were miserable as theists and overjoyed to become atheists. And I know quite a view who are perfectly happy as agnostics.

    I have absolutely zero interest in arguing against theism. I’m interested in defending atheism against some of the criticisms raised against it. Is atheism rationally justifiable? To a considerable extent, I think it is, but there are limits, and it’s interesting to see where those are.

    The problem, as I see it, is just this: theism offers a single, nice, coherent explanation for the existence of the universe, the history of life, the objectivity of morality, the necessity of mathematics, the regularity of empirical nature, etc. Atheism doesn’t offer a single, nice, coherent explanation that covers all those topics. In a sense, what it really means to be an atheist is to deny that there is any such tidy explanation. An atheist needs to accept many different explanations. So there’s a certain pluralistic patchwork to the atheist’s worldview.

    I don’t think that the real conflict here — pluralism and monism — I don’t think that is amenable to reason. I think that some people are perfectly content with pluralism, and others are not, they want monism. And from where I sit, they’re fine to want that — they’ll get no grief from me.

  396. Box: sorry, we are in deep waters here, as my just above will show. (That was lurking under the surface [this same issue was debated at UD some time ago), and I now think it necessary to “go naked.” It will help to follow to read aloud, e.g. N(g) v ~N(g) says, it is necessary that God exists OR it is not necessary that God exists, i.e. this is a dichotomy.) KF

  397. KN: It seems that what is at stake here is, first, whether reality and truth are a unified coherent whole that adequately answers to the facts and is sufficiently intelligible to make elegant, simple (not simplistic) powerful sense. This is of course the vision that drove the rise of modern science. Second, the implications of the sense of sufficient reason, that for that which is, it can be asked why, bring to bear issues of cause and that which is, being uncaused — necessary being. Somewhere in this lurks the same point made way above: you may choose to reject the theistic world picture and its rational vision, but that comes at a metaphysical price. One that, cumulatively may be surprisingly stiff. I see for instance a shock on the issue of implying and needing to warrant the impossibility of God. KF

  398. 400
    Kantian Naturalist

    I have a question about the proof at 396. It looks as though it’s supposed to be read as:

    (1) g –> Ng
    (2) Ng
    ——————
    (3) g

    Put that way, it looks like “affirming the consequent”:

    (1) p –> q
    (2) q
    ——————
    (3) p

    and that’s formally invalid.

    Revise and resubmit! :)

  399. PS: Evidentialism is patently self refuting. A worldview that acknowledges that we have first plausibles that we accept as just that without further “proof” (though we may compare difficulties and address factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power) is NOT evidentialist. But, it may seek to be a reasonable — as opposed to unreasonable — faith. Which echoes a certain recent book’s title, I know.

  400. Atheism doesn’t offer a single, nice, coherent explanation that covers all those topics.

    “It just happened, that’s all,” pretty much covers it all.

    It’s true, that’s not all that coherent or even remotely satisfying an explanation. Therefore, science.

    IOW, science stands in opposition to atheism.

  401. Kantian Naturalist:

    That’s because the theist has a single explanation for (i) the existence of the universe; (ii) the existence and history of life; (iii) the nature of rational norms, including moral norms. The atheist doesn’t have a single explanation for all three things; she has three different explanations for each of those three things, each of which has some degree of plausibility.

    Given that theism has a single explanation for everything, how do you explain the rise of science in the context of a theistic world view?

    The atheist, on the other hand, does not have a separate explanation. “It wasn’t God,” is the unifying underlying metaphysic (or I really really hope it wasn’t god).

    The problem, as I see it, is just this: theism offers a single, nice, coherent explanation for the existence of the universe, the history of life, the objectivity of morality, the necessity of mathematics, the regularity of empirical nature, etc. Atheism doesn’t offer a single, nice, coherent explanation that covers all those topics. In a sense, what it really means to be an atheist is to deny that there is any such tidy explanation. An atheist needs to accept many different explanations. So there’s a certain pluralistic patchwork to the atheist’s worldview.

    Atheism sees no unity and yet science proceeds as if all is unified. Go figure.

  402. KN: Not so, there is no sequence like that, the intervening steps are key. And, Necessarily (God exists) DOES entail that (God exists) — necessary beings exist in all possible worlds. (At the tail it is a bit pedantic on symbol reduction.) The critical step is the assertion that it is possible for God to exist, which is the point, once it is possible for a necessary being candidate to exist, it exists in at least one possible world and this propagates to all such including the actual one. Or, it is impossible to build a possible world in which an actually necessary being does not exist. The 3 + 2 = 5 example, thanks to the power of the empty set and abstract manipulations, will even exist in an empty world. The issue is back to: God’s existence [remember, eternal so necessary], for the atheist, is implicitly impossible. So, what is the warrant for that claim or implication, now that the deductive form of the problem of evil is dead and things like no being can be omnipotent because such cannot make the equivalent of a square circle have also fallen by the wayside? KF

  403. 405
    Kantian Naturalist

    To some extent, a pragmatic naturalism of the sort I advocate looks askance at excessive rationalism. Reasoning is a powerful tool in human life, and one that I sincerely wish was more often displayed by those in power. But that doesn’t mean that everything must have some reason or other.

    At any rate: the power of reason to guide human affairs, to indicate the possibilities for action, to suggest new avenues for empirical inquiry, and to check our passions and prejudices, is not the slightest bit imperiled by the thought that it is simply a brute fact that the multiverse is of such a nature that our particular universe, with its biogenic laws of physics, just happens to be among those that it causes.

  404. PS: Remember, too, how we get to the affirming the consequent [ATC] fallacy: confusing implication for equivalence. Showing double implication step by step in light of additional info is not ATC, for example. And where there is substantial additional information at work, that is not a tautology nor begging the question.

  405. KN:

    I doubt there is a case of affirming the consequent, lol.

    It is not possible that x is the case, therefore y must be the case. Sounds more like a reductio.

    But I am seriously out on a limb here, admittedly.

  406. I probably should have written;

    It is not possible that x is the case, therefore ~x must be the case.

    But the limb is still shaking. :)

  407. KN, you are a strange bird! Not insult intended.

    Theists believe things happen for one reason.

    Atheists believe things happen for many reasons (or at least three).

    You seem to want to tread a middle ground, some things happen for no reason at all.

    Assuming your view is correct, how do we differentiate?

  408. 410
    Kantian Naturalist

    If I were inclined to argue against the existence of God on logical grounds — and since it’s a Friday night and I haven’t yet decided to go out or not, so at present I have nothing better to do — I would be inclined to the following line of thought: how does one establish that it is possible that God exists? How do get to that starting point? We don’t get that “for free,” so to speak. Or, put otherwise, yes, it’s true that in strictly modal terms, that’s where we’d have to begin, but are we entitled to use modal terms?

    So, there’s this interesting discussion about the relationship between conceivability and possibility (conversely, between inconceivability and impossibility). One might think, “well, I can conceive of God’s existing, so it’s possible that God exists.” Not so fast, buckaroo, because that only works if conceivability entails possibility, and it’s just not really clear if it does.

    In fact, it’s just got to be the case that conceivability doesn’t entail possibility, because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to conceive of impossible things, such as geometrical objects that have both four internal right angles and all the points of which are equidistant from the center, or formal systems that are both rich enough to express arithmetic and in which all sentences can be proven either true or false.

    To show that God is impossible is a much taller order — I mean, He certainly seems possible, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. If God is impossible, it would be because the concept contains a contradiction. So, is the concept of God contradictory?

    I don’t know, but I certainly have entertained from time to time the following bit of sophistry. God has psychological properties — He has desires and beliefs. (Ex hypothesi, He has all the true beliefs that there are.) And certainly He wants certain things, such as it being the case that humanity desires and pursues the good. God is a mind (though perhaps also more than a mind?). He is an (or the?) infinite mind.

    But, is there a contradiction within the concept of an infinite mind? A mind is, among other things, something that perceives, thinks, and acts. But perception and action require that there be something external to the mind — namely, a world. But since God is infinite, nothing is external to Him. Before He created, He was; He was the infinite mind that He is prior to anything other than Himself coming into existence. But does it even make sense to suppose that a mind could exist without some world? Is the very concept of an infinite mind something like a square circle?

  409. …how does one establish that it is possible that God exists?

    It is either possible, or it is not. Unless you reject reason.

    And no doubt the fact that we exist enters in to the equation.

  410. KN, you’re not a reductionist. Do you accept top-down causation?

  411. Kantian Naturalist (397)
    I don’t think that the real conflict here — pluralism and monism — I don’t think that is amenable to reason. I think that some people are perfectly content with pluralism, and others are not, they want monism.

    First I want to praise you for your analysis of the conflict: ‘pluralism and monism’. You bring light to the discussion; a fine example of intellectual honesty. But I’m not sure about your assessment of the scope of reason in regard to conflicts of this order. What about heliocentrism vs geocentrism, is that conflict too beyond the scope of reason? What do you think about the role of Ockham’s razor in these matters?
    The limited scope of reason is a returning theme in your reasoning:

    Kantian Naturalist (405) :”To some extent, a pragmatic naturalism of the sort I advocate looks askance at excessive rationalism. Reasoning is a powerful tool in human life, and one that I sincerely wish was more often displayed by those in power. But that doesn’t mean that everything must have some reason or other.”

    If not ‘everything must have some reason’ are there any objective rules to guide our reason? Or are we allowed to choose what to explain and what not to explain in order to get results that we ‘want’?

  412. 414
    Kantian Naturalist

    KN, you’re not a reductionist. Do you accept top-down causation?

    To be quite honest, I’m not thoroughly familiar with the concept. But insofar as I have any grasp of it, yes.

  413. I’d like to explain my increasing girth in ways that have nothing to do with my food intake and lack of exercise!

  414. Box at 388, how sad for your mother to say that to you at 6, and Richard Dawkins accuses Christians of child abuse. Perhaps this comment from Pam Reynold’s may bring more remedy:

    “I think death is an illusion. I think death is a really nasty, bad lie. I don’t see any truth in the word death at all” –
    Pam Reynolds Lowery (1956 – May 22, 2010)
    http://christopherlovejoy.com/.....eally-are/

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The Extremely “Monitored” NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

  415. 417

    Excessive Rationalism: when logic gets in the way of believing what one wants.

  416. Elvis a word of advise, look up who William J Murray is….. you might just see these discussions in a very new light….

  417. WJM, are you THAT WJM? (Knocks side of head, hearing hollow sound, blushes . . . ) KF

  418. KN:

    I find this quite interesting:

    [KN:] the power of reason to guide human affairs, to indicate the possibilities for action, to suggest new avenues for empirical inquiry, and to check our passions and prejudices, is not the slightest bit imperiled by the thought that it is simply a brute fact that the multiverse is of such a nature that our particular universe, with its biogenic laws of physics, just happens to be among those that it causes.

    Pardon a first rough reaction, but that sounds uncommonly like, having no foundational grounding for the reliability of the conscious, knowing, reasoning, warranting etc mind, I take it a brute fact. This sounds a lot like the same on morality and the same relative to the question of worldviews and foundations.

    (You will recall my pointing to yes, the raft is always under/subject to reconstruction, but also it sits in the sea which provides support and foundation for the structure AND for the sharks waiting to have lunch if we mess up royally and cause the systems to break up. As in you see a sort of foundherentism and “intelligibility-ism” in my views. Also a serious concern that if the lunatics run the asylum on the ship and manage to break it up, the sharks are waiting to have lunch. For a slightly different historical-cum-management take look here, as in messing up royally by playing advocacy and manipulation games, following who butters your bread rather than duties of care and a public manipulated into artificial stupidity, can be disastrous. It will not be a surprise to you to learn that this is one of my big concerns for our civilisation, and that — having seen my homeland torn apart and ruined economically by glib messianistic pols, I take a very dim view of such indeed.)

    I think I am reading you as resorting to a sort of emergentism, multiplied by a pattern of disintegration of domains of the life of the mind.

    You will of course realise that to one from my perspective, that looks uncommonly like conceding the basic point of a want of foundation. In other moods, I have spoken of materialistic poof-magic, and there it is, folks, take it on trust.

    To that, I must respond, that the forces of chance variation and natural and/or sexual selection and of psycho-social conditioning etc, are such that there is no good reason to accept that a credible mind is likely to arise on such. I have laid out my 101-level reasons already, in 146 above in this thread.

    Now, as a humble[d? . . . ] applied physicist, I find this intriguing: the multiverse is of such a nature that our particular universe, with its biogenic laws of physics . . .

    1 –> What is the empirical observational basis for a multiverse, strings, branes etc? [Last I checked, it seemed to be nil, but perhaps someone can inform me, maybe I overlooked something about our ability to observe other space-time manifolds, or the like. I do know that there is a strong feeling that far too much of cosmology and linked fields these days is more of speculative highly mathematical metaphysics, than actual empirically grounded science.]

    2 –> Never mind that, what is your response to the issue of finetuning in even a multiverse as was raised by Leslie in his convergence observation and his fly on the long wall metaphor:

    CONVERGENCE: One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning? [Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998]

    FLY-SWATTING: . . . the need for such explanations does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.

    3 –> I am also intrigued by the phrase about biogenetic laws of physics. Kindly, let me know what laws, discovered and verified by whom, are responsible for spontaneously setting up a cosmos in which the first four elements are H, He, C and O, with N near the top, and giving such properties that aqueous medium organic chemistry is enabled in the teeth of the comments by Hoyle on monkeying with physics.

    4 –> Further to these laws, do let me know which ones are responsible for spontaneously writing code in the living cell starting at about 100,000 – 1 mn bits [along with creating the execution machines], and for spontaneously writing the 10 – 100 mn further bits, dozens of times, t5o account for the major body plans. By whom discovered, how empirically verified, when? (Why no Nobel or equivalent prizes and no blazed headlines to date?)

    5 –> In light of the linked concerns at 146, how did these laws account for the credibility of the material mind and our sense of consciousness and its features that gave rise to the hard problem of consciousness?

    _________

    You will understand that until solid answers to these and related questions are in hand, I would be led rather to infer that I am seeing a creedal declaration and a hope not an achievement.

    I ask you to reflect on what you are acknowledging in light of the base issues in the thread.

    KF

  419. Mung,

    I do understand, and indeed I am thinking that it would be good if the cited had also used a simple symbol for the possibility mode, maybe p(X) = it is possible that X.

    Then there are the quantifiers, I suppose A and E could stand in for universal and existential quantifiers. (I am not going to try to compose a blog comment post that goes looking for whatever special codes have been developed to do that!)

    I note that reading aloud and translating helps. In any case the point was to highlight that the truly contentious point is the issue: God is in the end necessary or impossible, as if a candidate necessary being is possible, it exists in some possible world, and that means that there is nothing wrong with the logic of the construct, so it is actually not possible to construct a world in which it is not real. So, in the actual world, that being is present.

    I used the truth in the expression 2 + 3 = 5 to show this, and highlighted the existence of numbers for the same reason. Notice, in an empty world, the empty set is valid, and from it we can define operations and so we collect the succession of sets: {} = 0, {0} = 1, {0, 1} = 2, etc, i.e. we have numbers, and off we go to the world of mathematics. Once we are here, mind is here, and we can look at an imagined world that is possible, that is empty, and see that numbers and the links between them are unavoidable even in an empty world.

    That is itself a big clue about the underlying nature of reality, as mind so plainly here is prior to matter.

    I think it cannot be emphasised enough, that all of this is built on the underlying fact that is self-evident: here we are, minded, conscious, reasoning, knowing, embodied, morally governed creatures in a physical world that is credibly contingent, a world that is a cosmos not a chaos . . . it gives every indication of being a unified intelligible ordered whole. THAT is the core cluster of facts that any self-respecting worldview has to seriously and satisfactorily (hopefully, soundly) account for.

    This, too, is what makes KN’s concessions above overnight so significant in light of the point in the OP and also in light of the boasts of ever so many “brights.”

    It is sure beginning to look like some shoes are on the other foot.

    KF

  420. 422

    KF,

    If you mean the son of O’Hare, no.

  421. Of serendipitous note to the cause and effect and falling dominoes comments:

    Physicist creates math model to predict maximum incremental domino size (with video) – January 11, 2013
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-p.....omino.html

  422. 424

    Elvis4708 @ 387:

    My parents weren’t particularly religious. We went to church on Sunday, but that was pretty much the extent of it and IMO they went just because it was the socially expected norm back then in that area. I don’t remember ever hearing a peep from them about God, Jesus or the Bible. They stopped going by the time I was 10 or 12.

    I guess it depends on what you call “religious” as to whether or not I would be considered religious. I haven’t been to church of any sort for a service since I was about 12. There is no written, formal doctrine I adhere to.

    However, I have not always been like this. I have at times in my life been very religious, and at another time a hardcore atheist (although some might consider such atheism a kind of religion).

    I will agree with your premise, though, that most people follow in the steps of their parents when it comes to what they believe. IMO, most people – whether atheist or theist – live lives under the rule of largely unexamined beliefs. IMO, most theists are theistic, and most atheists are atheistic, for irrational, unexamined reasons.

    The question is: which view holds up to rational scrutiny?

    I can easily understand the view that belief in god is ridiculous – I’ve been there – but I have since realized that just because on has a ridiculous notion of god, doesn’t mean all notions of god are ridiculous.

  423. KN:

    Following up, re:

    One might think, “well, I can conceive of God’s existing, so it’s possible that God exists.” Not so fast, buckaroo, because that only works if conceivability entails possibility, and it’s just not really clear if it does.

    In fact, it’s just got to be the case that conceivability doesn’t entail possibility, because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to conceive of impossible things, such as geometrical objects that have both four internal right angles and all the points of which are equidistant from the center, or formal systems that are both rich enough to express arithmetic and in which all sentences can be proven either true or false.

    To show that God is impossible is a much taller order — I mean, He certainly seems possible, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. If God is impossible, it would be because the concept contains a contradiction. So, is the concept of God contradictory?

    1 –> No-one has claimed that conceivability implies possibility, that is a shadow opponent.

    2 –> What has been done is to ask, what does contingency mean, in light of a very familiar and instructive case study, namely a fire and the fire tetrahedron that lays out necessary causal factors, i.e enabling factors that must be present or “on” for the fire to begin, or continue, and of course as fire fighters know, taking out a factor (putting to “off” state) kills the fire.

    3 –> So, we have isolated the necessary external, enabling causal factor as pivotal to contingency of being.

    4 –> From this we see that hat which begins to exist, or may cease from existing or otherwise depends on enabling factors, is contingent. (This may be explored in more details with a box of matches.)

    5 –> So, now we can freely ask: what would follow from a candidate being, say X, being such that it has no such external enabling factors? It would have no beginning, it cannot end, it is eternal, it is necessarily so, if it exists at all.

    6 –> This is a logical exercise, yes, but an important one.

    7 –> We then see that if something is like this, a genuinely necessary being, it is such that it is eternal, and that IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO CONSTRUCT A FEASIBLE WORLD IN WHICH IT IS NOT PRESENT. (That is the only way that it can be there, it has to be written into the DNA of a possible world, i.e. the issue is what is ordering that world. Hence the examples from mathematics.)

    8 –> We have a clearer picture of what necessary being means.

    9 –> Can such fail? Obviously, we may mistake a contingent being for a necessary one, as was done with the attempt to dismiss the ontological argument by substituting a pink unicorn. Nope, a unicorn, if possible (existing in some possible world) is obviously contingent. Go back and play with that box of matches again.

    10 –> The other way that a candidate necessary being, X, can fail is obvious: for some reason, it is not possible at all, it is present in no worlds, i.e. it is impossible. The concept much less the existence of X is fatally flawed, like the proverbial square circle. We can make mouth noises about it, but once we move beyond such, we see that it cannot be constructed or existent in this or any world. Usually, for the reason that the concept embeds a contradiction that would force something to be and not be in the same sense and locus.

    11 –> Now, it is obvious that eternality is a core part of the concept of God, which — per our box of matches — means, God is inherently a candidate necessary being. That is, if God is not an impossible notion, then inevitably we cannot construct a feasible world in which God is not present.

    12 –> Where also we have seen that if a candidate necessary being is possible [i.e. we can have a feasible world in which it is present], it will be there in all possible worlds, and it will be in the actual one.

    13 –> Which brings us back to the point of the discussion of worldviews on a cumulative case warrant basis, namely, that the rejection of God implies the view that God is an impossible being.

    14 –> You actually imply that, by arguing:

    is there a contradiction within the concept of an infinite mind? A mind is, among other things, something that perceives, thinks, and acts. But perception and action require that there be something external to the mind — namely, a world. But since God is infinite, nothing is external to Him. Before He created, He was; He was the infinite mind that He is prior to anything other than Himself coming into existence. But does it even make sense to suppose that a mind could exist without some world? Is the very concept of an infinite mind something like a square circle?

    15 –> oddly enough, the answer to this was there long since, when Paul cited was it Cleanthes to the Athenian elites of the Areopagus council c AD 50, there in Athens:

    Acts 17:22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[b] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way towards him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

    “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[c]

    as even some of your own poets have said,

    “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[d]

    29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” [ESV]

    16 –> That is, there is a misconception on what perception entails. I can perceive within myself, through meta cognitive processes closely tied to my being a conscious minded reality, so why not God? And, linked closely, why on earth would perception, thinking and acting require a world “external” to the entity?

    17 –> Has not this been the foundational view of Christian theism for 2,000 years? is it not the view that God is the creator and sustainer of the world, who is everywhere present and actively sustaining it by the world of his power? For instance, from Col 1, speaking of the Logos/Son:

    Col 1:16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [ESV]

    18 –> Why are you dismissing such by an anonymous side-swipe? Have you shown this to be impossible, or is it that it only seems so to you?

    19 –> Which brings us back full circle again, to the issue of the implicit atheistical commitment to the impossibility of God. On fair comment, such needs to be shown, not assumed or implied.

    20 –> With the logic of necessity of being in play, i.e. if a candidate necessary being is not instead contingent or impossible, it will be actual. Here, in the guise of God as the eternal ground of reality, actual or possible.
    ___________

    So, we see the importance of these core worldview issues.

    And BTW, in Paul’s opening, he pointed to the situation where the assembled elites and guardians of the Western intellectual tradition being based in a city where tehy had — apparently for centuries — maintained a monument tot heir ignorance on teh foundational, most important reality of all.

    He whom you acknowledge your ignorance of even as you blindly grope in worship, he it is whom I proclaim prophetically to you (and explain as well so you can understand), in the context of that which is reasonable and evident from 500+ eyewitnesses to the resurrection of the man at the crux of all history, God’s man himself.

    The same, who is powerfully and evidently at work, rescuing and transforming the lives of millions across history and all around us as we speak today.

    So, let us seriously inquire with a genuinely open and reasonable mind.

    KF

  424. 426

    Correction to bottom of above:

    I can easily understand the view that belief in god is ridiculous – I’ve been there – but I have since realized that just because one has a ridiculous notion of god, doesn’t mean all notions of god are ridiculous.

  425. Okay, a different WJM, then. KF

  426. F/N: Do you see the issue that emerges? Namely, that if God is indeed a necessary being, it will not be feasible to construct a possible, coherent, factually adequate world in which God — underlying grounding necessary being who is the basis for reason, order, sustainability, morality, mind etc — is not present, even if we may only imply that presence. As a result, worldviews that reject God, will in the end be infeasible, i.e. groundless, absurd, circular, incoherent, irrational, amoral, factually inadequate and either reducing to being simplistic or else becoming after the fact ad hoc patchworks, etc. Sounds familiar? (Also cf here on for a critical survey of our own civilisation in light of these issues, building on an amended form of Schaeffer’s visionary ideas.) KF

  427. OT: A detective looks at the historical evidence for Christianity: (Dec. 28, 2012)

    Razor Swift — Cold Case Christianity – W: J. Warner Wallace – radio interview
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsPm8JOw7Tw

  428. “Coincidentally” Frank Turek’s radio program this morning:

    Cold Case Homicide Detective Evaluates Evidence for Christianity! Join me and J Warner Wallace Today 10:05-11 am ET, 144 stations &
    http://crossexamined.org/radio.asp

  429. WJM 417: don’t you mean the other way around. Unless you can elaborate – define excessive rationalism as being un-rational.

  430. 432

    Alan,

    My comment was meant to be humorous.

    “Logic contradicts your view.”

    “Not if you stop using logic!”

  431. KN

    If I were inclined to argue against the existence of God on logical grounds — and since it’s a Friday night and I haven’t yet decided to go out or not, so at present I have nothing better to do — I would be inclined to the following line of thought: how does one establish that it is possible that God exists?

    When atheism confronts reason, reason will always lose. That is why skeptics feel the need to abandon reason even before they enter the arena. All the classical objections against God’s existence are riddled with logical errors that become popularized, such as Russell’s silly question about “Who made God?” or Hume’s denial of the intellectual faculty or Kant’s doubts about noumenal knowledge. The idea is to construct unnecessarily complicated barriers as a means for avoiding reason’s obvious conclusions.

  432. F/N: On contingency of unicorns. Horses eat and breathe etc, they are born, they die. A hypothetical horse with a horn like a Rhino’s, would reasonably be about the same. Indeed within a century, presumably we should be able to genetically engineer one, though I doubt the length of horn described would be sensible, albeit a Texas Longhorn comes close. KF

  433. If it were, atheists would be the last people competent to do so. That’s all too clear.

  434. Atheists detest Reason with every bit as much passion as they love the concept, which they have the brass neck to tout as their special charism.

    Reminds me of the old clerical joke about the nun who said that humility was the special charism of their order.

  435. 437
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Box @ 413

    First I want to praise you for your analysis of the conflict: ‘pluralism and monism’. You bring light to the discussion; a fine example of intellectual honesty.

    Thank you; it’s nice to know that my efforts are appreciated.

    But I’m not sure about your assessment of the scope of reason in regard to conflicts of this order. What about heliocentrism vs geocentrism, is that conflict too beyond the scope of reason? What do you think about the role of Ockham’s razor in these matters?

    The conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism is a local conflict, specific to a particular domain of inquiry, with more-or-less agreed-upon criteria for how to resolve it. (Though maybe that’s too anodyne a reading of how the conflict really played itself out, historically — one might think that it through this particular debate that the domain of “astronomy” was constituted. I’m not sure.)

    Mind you, I’m thoroughly fascinated with comprehensive metaphysical systems. I’m just not very confident that we will ever hit upon one that is ultimately true for all times and places. The most a comprehensive metaphysical system can do is make explicit how things stand to those who are situated at a particular time and place.

    The limited scope of reason is a returning theme in your reasoning

    Yes, I try to be consistent. :)

    If not ‘everything must have some reason’ are there any objective rules to guide our reason? Or are we allowed to choose what to explain and what not to explain in order to get results that we ‘want’?

    I think that having an attitude of, “hey, this is interesting! Let’s try and figure out what caused it!” is central to empirical inquiry (including but not limited to science). But I also think that justifications and explanations do come to an end somewhere, and the goal is just keep on pushing the envelope.

    I do think that one is permitted to make some choices here and there, without shirking one’s intellectual obligations. I’m deeply interested in the problem of abiogenesis, but actually I’m much more interested in what I call “the problem of ‘alogogenesis’” — the problem of how rational cognition evolved from other kinds of animal cognition. Compared to those problems, the question about the origin of the cosmos as a whole does not interest me terribly. Maybe that shows a lack of intellectual integrity on my part, but I don’t believe so.

    I do believe that there are “objective rules to guide our reason,” but I have a pretty modest conception of “objective”. By my lights, “objective” just means “independent of the private mental life of any particular person”, whereas “subjective” means “dependent on the private mental life of some particular person.” So how I’m feeling right now is a set of subjective facts — if my mental life were different, the facts would be different.

    I thereby distinguish between “objective” and “absolute.” I use “absolute” to mean “what comes into view as being the case from no particular perspective”, whereas “relative” means “what comes into view as being the case from a particular perspective”. Using the terms in that way, I think of both science and ethics as being both objective-and-relative. The norms and principles of rational thought and conduct have an objectivity-for-us, and objectivity-for-us is all the objectivity that I want or need. The absolute is nothing to me — perhaps in that sense I’m not so much an atheist as a post-theist, someone who is trying to get past “theism or atheism?”

  436. 438
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Kairosfocus @ 420

    Pardon a first rough reaction, but that sounds uncommonly like, having no foundational grounding for the reliability of the conscious, knowing, reasoning, warranting etc mind, I take it a brute fact. This sounds a lot like the same on morality and the same relative to the question of worldviews and foundations.

    Actually, I do think that there’s a perfectly good argument for the reliability of rational cognition; I don’t take it as a ‘brute fact’. (By this I mean that I think there’s a good argument for defeating Cartesian skepticism. But that might not be what you have in mind here.) I just don’t think that establishing the reliability of rational cognition stands or falls with any particular claims about the origins of the universe.

    You will recall my pointing to yes, the raft is always under/subject to reconstruction, but also it sits in the sea which provides support and foundation for the structure AND for the sharks waiting to have lunch if we mess up royally and cause the systems to break up.

    I have a feeling that I don’t really understand what you mean by “the sharks” in this extended metaphor. Insofar as I can make sense of it in my own terms, I would say that I have my own reasons for thinking that contemporary Western civilization is headed straight off the cliff. And I think that because we have managed to build for ourselves a society in which alternatives to capitalism are basically non-existent and a topic for ridicule whenever mentioned. So we’re unable to stop ourselves from destroying the ecosystems upon which human life and flourishing depends.

    I think I am reading you as resorting to a sort of emergentism, multiplied by a pattern of disintegration of domains of the life of the mind.

    What strikes you as a single explanation strikes me as multiple explanations, the domains of which are interconnected in various ways.

    To that, I must respond, that the forces of chance variation and natural and/or sexual selection and of psycho-social conditioning etc, are such that there is no good reason to accept that a credible mind is likely to arise on such.

    The reason I disagree is due to two claims: (1) I think that we have perfectly good reasons to accept that evolutionary pressures produced reliable pattern-mapping cognitive systems, such as what we see in many different kinds of animals; (2) the differences between rational human cognition and ‘brute’ animal cognition can be explained largely in terms of the evolution of language.

    In a much earlier discussion with Mung, I raised the question, “what else is needed to produce an autopoeitic system besides an autocatalytic set and a semi-permeable membrane?” Likewise, for me the question here is, “what else is needed to produce a rational minded animal besides a minded animal and a natural language?”

    As for the fine-tuning argument, I’ll admit that it looks like a decent argument for something like a divine creator. The reason why it doesn’t convince me is because I just don’t see why a divine creator is a better explanation than infinite universes. At the end of the day, the Democritean response to Anaxagoras still looks pretty good to me, too: don’t underestimate what infinity can do! I just don’t think that the multiverse explanation is any better than a divine creator, either.

    As I keep stressing, from my perspective it’s a leap of faith either way.

  437. KN: “The most a comprehensive metaphysical system can do is make explicit how things stand to those who are situated at a particular time and place. (…) But I also think that justifications and explanations do come to an end somewhere (…) “

    Do you mean that some things have no explanation? IOW that some things are ‘miracles’? In post 405 you stated, KN: “(..) that doesn’t mean that everything must have some reason or other.” Or do you mean that our reason is not capable of discovering the reasons for certain things?

    KN: “The question about the origin of the cosmos as a whole does not interest me terribly.“

    This I find truly amazing and disappointing to be frank. How can any philosopher say this about this grand old question? ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’, and where does it all come from? … Well … that does not interest me terribly ??? I don’t get it.

  438. 440
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Box @ 439:

    This I find truly amazing and disappointing to be frank. How can any philosopher say this about this grand old question? ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’, and where does it all come from? … Well … that does not interest me terribly ??? I don’t get it.

    There are several different ways of hearing the question, “why is there something rather than nothing?”.

    For me personally, I’m terribly fond of Wittgenstein’s rejoinder: “it is not how things are, but that they are, which is the mystical” (TLP 6.44).

    Meaning, of course I’m interested in explanations of all kinds, but one feature of explanations is that they situate what is to be explained in relation to something that does the explaining. But the whole is that which has nothing external to it — if it did, it would not be the whole — hence, the whole cannot be explained — though it can be, of course, beheld, appreciated, marveled at, etc.

  439. KN:

    I think we have had a good exchange across several threads now.

    Given the undue hostility and patently hate-driven personalities I have seen across the past couple of years (and hate site operators, I am not bothering to look at whatever lies, smears and threats you may be spewing forth these days, and hope that others only do so to see what you are pushing and manifest as character . . . please, have the decency to look yourself in the mirror, stop, reform, and make amends), that is not to be underestimated.

    I see your lack of confidence in comprehensive metaphysical/worldview systems. My problem here is, that such cannot be avoided, they can only be shunted to the side of being implicit, assumed and unexamined. Unexamined metaphysics, notoriously, is bad or even dangerous metaphysics. And in particular, I have excellent reason to see that evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers are very dangerous indeed.

    As to sharks, I speak of the destructive forces of chaos, within our civilisation and in the wider world. Call them the street nihilists and the organised enemies if you will. My concern is that if we do not make sure to first do no harm, we may inadvertently trigger a disintegration of that which has maintained a relatively wholesome culture that has fostered liberty, genuine progress and reformation for centuries (don’t ever underestimate the fact that I am descended from slaves and that my very name writes in the story of standing up to and paying a horrific and unjustly imposed price at the hands of of abusive oppressive government into my personality). First, do no harm, I say.

    Next, I see your:

    The reason I disagree is due to two claims: (1) I think that we have perfectly good reasons to accept that evolutionary pressures produced reliable pattern-mapping cognitive systems, such as what we see in many different kinds of animals; (2) the differences between rational human cognition and ‘brute’ animal cognition can be explained largely in terms of the evolution of language.

    In a much earlier discussion with Mung, I raised the question, “what else is needed to produce an autopoeitic system besides an autocatalytic set and a semi-permeable membrane?” Likewise, for me the question here is, “what else is needed to produce a rational minded animal besides a minded animal and a natural language?”

    As for the fine-tuning argument, I’ll admit that it looks like a decent argument for something like a divine creator. The reason why it doesn’t convince me is because I just don’t see why a divine creator is a better explanation than infinite universes.

    First, I have excellent reason to believe that while we do have functioning minds, there is no good reason to believe that blind chance multiplied by differential reproductive success suffices to account for the mind, starting from full language capacity on up. There are just so stories and handwaving that embed a priori materialism, but I find no reason to have confidence that even the baseline of the amount of functionally specific complex organisation and information that would have to be programmed into say a population of chimp like creatures somewhere in E Africa 6 MYA, can be generated by the atomic-temporal resources of the observed cosmos in its credible thermodynamic lifespan [~ 50 mn times the estimated age of the observed cosmos to date . . . and the sort of polarisation and strawman tactic snip, misrepresent and snipe games I have faced -- most recently on cancer-causing viruses -- do not even allow me to cite just "cosmos"].

    We are talking millions of bits of info, vs a credible FSCO/I threshold of 1,000 bits.

    That is one key — and unanswered — point that design theory brings to the table. In other words,t eh very ability to express yourself in verbal, symbolic, abstraction-expressing language is on the table as needing to be explained on evolutionary materialist premises.

    In short, in the clip above, you have summed up the first major point of the problem and handed it back as the solution, begging the big and unanswered question involved. Through the evident word-magic of a priori evolutionary materialism.

    So, pardon my lack of confidence that such blind forces are capable of explaining accuracy of thought, concept formation, reasoning on abstract matters and morally tinged logical judgements etc. Inded, as I have pointed out above, the very notion of reducing mind to a neurological processor system, is fraught with self-referential incoherences in many ways, ways that come out so soon as one becomes specific. The fate of Freudianism, behaviourism, Marxism etc are sign posts that point to the much broader class of problems faced by any evolutionary materialism-driven attempted account of human mental capacities and the credibility of the world of thought.

    What is required to explain cell based, Carbon Chemistry, aqueous medium life starts, of course withe the fine tuned cosmos that accounts for these ingredients and the sites that life is found in. Pause on that . . .

    Skipping to the case of some warm little pond or the like, we then see the need to account for digitally controlled chemistry that uses complex information rich molecular machines as execution units for codes, algorithms and the like, implicating encapsulated metabolic automata with the additional feature of a von Neumann self replicator that codes for replicating the whole unit.

    This poses a major organisation and information barrier to attempts to explain OOL on blind chemistry and physics. One that has not been crossed, is nowhere near being crossed and is getting wider as our understanding of the complexities involved deepens. It is not an accident that he actual — as opposed to projected, propagandistic — roots of design theory arose in connexion with the cosmological and thermodynamic-reaction kinetics- informational challenges (not to mention atmospheric physics, ocean chemistry and geological challenges that also obtain) confronting OOL speculations and experimentation.

    Since the turn of the 1980′s, the situation has got worse and worse, not better.

    As for the notion of an infinite regress of sub cosmi or the like, have you worked through the thermodynamics involved, and addressed the implications of ever-increasing entropy in any fundamentally physical system? The answer comes up: finite lifespan, and heat death.

    I have already pointed to the problem of traversing a countable infinite succession of steps to reach the present, which is tied to the issue that mathematics is connected to the deep necessary structure of any possible world. I do not think, on this alone, that such a world is even feasible. 9the old Steady State theory had matter and energy popping out of nowhere, feeding in steady fresh materials and I would infer a non-closed system. That itself had serious problems.)

    the need for a sub-cosmos bakery to do the world popping in a context where in the cosmological config space vicinity of our observed world, there is credibly an extremely sharply peaked operating point zone, i.e. local fine tuning. There is no good reason to imagine that a cosmos bakery would be likely to do what we used to do in labs: sample much more tightly near a knee or a resonance peak.

    In short, you have simply exported the fine tuning problem up one level. It is suprisingly hard to get rid of, even on multiverse scenarios.

    That brings up the next problem, multiverse speculations, even when constructed while wearing the proverbial lab coat, are not observationally anchored. metaphysics on cosmology, not strictly speaking, science.

    We are still back at the issue of fine tuning pointing to contrivance rooted in monkeying with the physics of the cosmos, thirty years after Hoyle put the issue squarely on the table in those terms.

    Of course, in the end a worldview is going to rest on a cluster of first plausibles, implying a faith-point.

    That is why the business of serious worldviews choice pivots on comparative difficulties, and it is why it is improper to permit the imposition of a priori materialist censorship on a discussion that has now crossed over — too often, unannounced — into outright philosophy.

    So, we are back, full circle, at the challenge of reasonable faith and worldviews, on as broad a topic as can be named: roots of being and of the cosmos we live in.

    With fine tuning being absolutely crucial, fine tuning that strongly points to an awesomely powerful cosmos building architect of astonishing knowledge, subtlety, skill and evident intent to create conditions that set up the exact kind of C-Chemistry, cell based life we experience.

    Where also — shock — the sites that are best suited for such life, seem also to be practically begging one to investigate, explore and reflect on the cosmos.

    As in, a big hint . . .

    Okay, it has been a very useful exchange, for which I must thank you [for myself and for onlookers who are benefitting from simply seeing what a serious exchange on these issues looks like], even as we may go forward a bit more.

    Moretime, time to get back to rest if not sleep, as insomnia power has its limits . . .

    KF

  440. KN:

    As for the fine-tuning argument, I’ll admit that it looks like a decent argument for something like a divine creator. The reason why it doesn’t convince me is because I just don’t see why a divine creator is a better explanation than infinite universes.

    This is not really a rational option. Infinity is a concept. It cannot do anything, explain anything, or be instantiated in nature.

    There are several different ways of hearing the question, “why is there something rather than nothing?”

    No, there are not different ways of hearing that question. The whole point of the quote was to reduce the problem to it simplest essence.

    For me personally, I’m terribly fond of Wittgenstein’s rejoinder: “it is not how things are, but that they are, which is the mystical” (TLP 6.44).

    That is just another way of saying that the “why” is more important than the how, which is the point of the original quote. Why do you construct all these unnecessarily complicated barriers in order to avoid confronting basic issues?

    But the whole is that which has nothing external to it — if it did, it would not be the whole — hence, the whole cannot be explained — though it can be, of course, beheld, appreciated, marveled at, etc.

    Don’t you think it would be a good idea to define the word “whole” prior to making a statement like that? The relationship between a whole and its parts is different than the relationship between a whole and its cause? Further, a caused “whole” may be different from the “whole” of reality, which, in turn, could include many wholes and their parts. Again, you appear to be wallowing in complexity in order to avoid rational discourse.

  441. kairofocus;

    I´m sorry for this late response. You have much to say of which some parts are incomprehensible to me(e.g. undefined variables in your math formulas). My response is therefore a bit selective.

    1. Comment 295; I don´t know what you mean with “theistic views developed in modern forms”. I would guess there are several interpretations of that expression. Anyway, I have read books by guys like Francis S Collins, who promulgates a view that attempts to integrate theism with natural science. The natural laws are looked upon as parts of God´s plan and it is a scientific duty to, as much as possible, reveal this plan and, by doing so, get humanity closer to the divine. However; What´s the difference between this view and deism?

    2. Comment 295; I have stoic ideals. To me, morality is an individual quality even though many people today do agree on what is evil and good. Morality on objective or divine ground does not exist. In a democracy voters decide what is good and bad moral and that´s the way it should be!

    3. Comment 295; As I wrote in my first article a creator of some sort cannot be entirely ruled out. But that´s a deistic creator. Whether or not there is or was a creator has no importance for my anti-religious attitude as I think that the existence of religion is justified by divine providence – that does not exist!

    4. Comment 362; Theists, criticized for all the wrongdoings monotheism has committed for millennia, are often delighted to point out fallacies of secularist and “democratic” political regimes. And that´s how it is; crooks, bandits, maniacs etc will be there no matter political system. But democracy is at least an ideal worth striving for. Theocracy is not since monotheism is based on fundamental elitist and undemocratic “interpretations” and dogmas(see 365). We must also remember that democracy, true(not Greek) democracy, is a very young phenomenon as compared to religion. Some patience is certainly needed in the global democratic evolution.

  442. KN: You have a lot going on in your brain, but that doesn’t mean is the whole thing! – just a thought. Or – how to confuse oneself and others to avoid not realizing that’s what your doing.

  443. What Is That To You?
    Words and Music, Alan Pomper
    (C) 2006 – All rights reserved

    1.
    There was a time before the past – when things to come were clearly cast
    On Earth below and Stars above – Of what He’d do – Mercy – Love
    Of what He then made true – What is that to you? 

    2.
    How much time does man require – To see the things that made their hour?
    What else can His arm reveal? – His story told that then came real
    Of sacrifice He’d do -What is that to you?

    What will make us feel – The weight of history real?
    With eyes to see and heart to feel -

    Open our eyes – all You provide – All You gave to know the way

    And still we choose to hide!

    3.
    The Word to me, this plaintive song – The Truth upon this world so long 
    Before this world was formed in space – He laid His plan – eternal grace
    His Word made to come true -

    With eyes to see the cross - With heart to feel the cost
    With faith not to be lost

    4.
    We find the lines before they passed – Isaiah now, history fast
    Of pains for us He’d do – There is not found another way
    That gave so much that is to say – He gave His all for you
    He  gave  His  all  its  true - What is that to you?

  444. KN (440): But the whole is that which has nothing external to it — if it did, it would not be the whole — hence, the whole cannot be explained — (..)

    This – of course – makes sense. The whole has no exterior cause. This notion is fundamental to the cosmological argument, the Uncaused Cause, the Prime Mover.
    What exactly is your point?

  445. Elvis: Pardon, I was giving a shorthand way of saying that the arguments to God has not stopped at the stage of from Aquinas up to Kant et al, and there are pretty serious modern forms put up by Plantinga et al. KF

  446. E, Pardon, I will make some points:

    1 –> Deism can be viewed as a form of theism.

    2 –> Collins is hardly doing something new, the view that a cosmos stems from a mind behind its unified order goes back on the record through Newton to at least Plato.

    3 –> There are all sorts of notions about morality and morality in a democratic community about. My remarks are shaped by my ancestors having been enslaved and liberty having to be won through democratic liberation struggle on Bible rooted principles of justice led by men like Wilberforce and Buxton. So, I take a clear, sharp, instructive case: A YOUNG CHILD, KIDNAPPED, RAPED AND TORTURED, THEN KILLED FOR SOMEONE’S SICK PLEASURE AND PROFIT THROUGH A SNUFF VIDEO. Is this or is this not objectively wrong? Not, as a matter of opinion and balance of views, but as an objective matter.

    4 –> If your worldview’s foundations do not contain a convincing IS that objectively grounds an OUGHT that gives a clear answer here, it is useless or worse than useless. (Remember, my ancestors simply did not have the resources to defeat the British Empire and win liberty, and Wilberforce started as a minority of one in parliament, backed by a literal handful of supporters.)

    5 –> If you cannot answer to this decisively, you have nothing to stand with when the ruthless nihilists come with their manipulation and intimidation tactics. And, don’t fool yourself that “it will never happen here.” That is what the Jews of Germany thought in the face of clever, manipulative, demonic evil presenting itself as political messiah in a day of unprecedented crises.

    6 –> We are not dealing with “Religion” or with particular religions, but with the question of what really obtains about our world, in a context of critical analysis of worldviews.

    7 –> Surely you know that corrupt but clever men can seize dominion over any powerful institution and bend it to their power and domination games, from a temple [never forget the TWO incidents of cleansing a temple with a whip!], to a court, to a church to a school to a business to a parliament. If I have any bedrock political credo, it is this: “power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely, great men are bad men” — Lord Acton, historian.

    8 –> and you had better believe I see the usurpation and manipulation of science and education by ideological, a priori materialists in our day in that light.

    9 –> The philosophy of monotheism is not the root of power abuse by corrupt men. And never forget the two end points of passion week: cleansing out a temple turned into a den of thieves, and a man declared innocent then cruelly whipped and crucified in light of the power games of corrupt elites, both religious and secular. Thank God, that was Friday, but Sunday was coming.

    10 –> I find it a serious warning sign that after a century in which secularist, evolutionary materialist regimes have been responsible for over 100 millions murdered by govenment gone bad, and just in the leading democracy over the past 40 years under a corrupt ruling by its leading court 55 millions have been slaughtered in the womb, the fixed focus is on how religion is such a danger to us. I cry, red herring, led away to strawman soaked in poisonous ad hominems and set alight to distract attention from the dangers of amoral radical relativism backed up by the ideological captivity of science to materialism.

    12 –> Kindly, tell me who is seriously advocating for theocracy, apart from IslamISTS that the self same secularists tiptoe around? This is a poisoned strawman set alight to cloud, confuse, choke, polarise and poison the atmosphere. (For one, it resolutely refuses to acknowledge the contribution of the Judaeo-Christian frame to modern liberty and democracy, distorting history willfully to do that by creating a scapegoat. In short, you have been fed a bill of manipulative false narrative talking points 4rooted in half truths and outright lies that exploit gaps in your knowledge base, and cannot seem to see the obvious, even when it is spelled out. No prizes for guessing how that was done, by whom and to the benefit of what agenda.)

    13 –> If I were hearing a more balanced, more nuanced view, I would not be so strong in saying what I am saying, but you have to realise I can smell an agit prop subversion agenda and its signature talking point patterns upwind a dozen miles off, having lived through a society that narrowly escaped a major communist subversion attempt.
    ____________

    I hope I have been plain enough to at least trigger you to think again and ask, what if at least some of what this fellow off in the Caribbean who went through a mini civil war that pivoted on extremely ruthless nihilistic manipulative follytricks backed up by murder — which cost him an “aunt” — during his uni days might just have a modicum of truth in it?

    Please, please, please, think again.

    KF

  447. 449

    Elvis47089 said:

    Morality on objective or divine ground does not exist. In a democracy voters decide what is good and bad moral and that´s the way it should be!

    Who says? Why should I submit to democracy when it comes to morality?

  448. @LarTanner at 231 – states “JDH seems to have dropped out after my response to him at 138, which I take as a sign he agrees and has been corrected.”

    Please LT never again make the absurd statement that my silence to respond to your non-answer means I admit defeat and stand corrected.

    It is a testament your inability to comprehend the well thought out and logical arguments against your thesis that you would assume my moving on to more important things ( such as job, life, family ) implies my assent. I have many better things to do than trying to convince a fool to part with his folly.

  449. 451
    Kantian Naturalist

    I should re-phrase my attitude towards comprehensive metaphysical systems (CMSs). I enjoy figuring out a CMS works, I have very definite views about which CMSs are more plausible, coherent, and powerful than others, and I share the conviction that we all have a loosely connected body of implicit metaphysical commitments. Making them explicit, organizing them in relation to one another, and setting it in relation to other CMSs are all part of the trade of the practicing metaphysician. The main reason I enjoy the discussions I have here at Uncommon Descent is because I believe that a CMS is made better by taking seriously criticisms (and critics) of that system.

    In previous discussions we’ve talked about “the raft” metaphor for knowledge, and while I do like Neurath’s image, it’s not the one I would chose for myself. Rather, my metaphor is the ouroboros, the snake that devours itself. Here’s why that symbol speaks to me.

    We could begin with listing some very basic facts of human cognitive experience (e.g. Royce’s “error exists”), and organize those in order to figure out what basic kinds of cognitive experience we have.

    My own preference here is to think about different kinds of discourse that we have: empirical discourse, mathematical discourse, moral discourse, aesthetic discourse, semantic discourse, modal discourse, etc. Each kind of discourse is constituted by its own rules which provide criteria for what assertions can count as objective within that discourse.

    Then we engage in ‘transcendental reflection’: we describe the basic capacities and incapacities that must be realized in order for us to have these kinds of discourses and correlated experiences.

    That much is recognizably Kantian. In my own thinking, which is deeply indebted to Kant but not orthodox Kantianism, I would say that our discourses and correlated experiences are grounded in two kinds of capacities: the capacities of embodiment and of sociality.

    (The emphasis on sociality traces the line of thought from Kant through Hegel to Dewey and contemporary pragmatists like Robert Brandom; the emphasis on embodiment traces the line of thought from Kant through Schelling to Bergson and Merleau-Ponty.)

    From the transcendental level, two different kinds of questions could be posed. One question is, “how do these capacities and incapacities explicate our ability to construct empirical explanations of how things stand in the world?” Another question is, “how did it come about that we have the sorts of capacities and incapacities that we have?” Following through on the first question yields an account of how sciences is possible; following through on the second question yields an naturalistic explanation of how our cognitive capacities came into being in the first place. (Kant, from what I can tell, did not think it made sense to pose the second question, whereas I think it does.)

    The “ouroboros moment” arises when we realize that we can construct an empirically-grounded explanation for our capacity to construct empirically-grounded explanations.

  450. KN claims: “Another question is, “how did it come about that we have the sorts of capacities and incapacities that we have?”,, following through on the,, question yields an naturalistic explanation of how our cognitive capacities came into being in the first place.”

    “The “ouroboros moment” arises when we realize that we can construct an empirically-grounded explanation for our capacity to construct empirically-grounded explanations.”

    And this ‘naturalistic empirically-grounded explanation’ is what exactly for our cognitive capacities?

  451. KN: Pardon an in brief. First principles of right reason are necessary as foundations, starting with ability to recognise identity and mark distinctions. Next, you just argued for circles of discussion, i.e. coherence or dominance in circles. That is back to the raft game and skirting the issue of foundations and the need for overall coherence and grounding. In short, it looks like a disguised concession. KF

  452. PS: And, of course — as BA 77 highlights — the problem of actually grounding adequate reliability of mind, consciousness and reason as well as morals (beyond might and manipulation make ‘right’) lies assumed rather than addressed from the baseline of the chimp like creatures some 6 MYA. Remember WJM’s thesis in the OP.

  453. 455
    Kantian Naturalist

    I wouldn’t call it a concession on my part — I thought I’d been pretty explicit in my commitment to anti-foundationalism! The bit about the symbol of the ouroboros is there to give some metaphorical expression to my particular version of anti-foundationalism.

    Of course there are groundsepistemic norms or principles — that are discovered through transcendental reflection on our cognitive experience. And these principles regulate successful empirical inquiry into nature, effective moral deliberation, and so on. But that doesn’t require that the fundamental structure of reality itself conforms to those principles or that “mind” exist prior to “matter”.

  454. kairosfocus;

    1. I´m somewhat astonished by your allegation of my not so balanced and nuanced view. Haven´t you heard or read worse? I at least accept a possible creator (of unknown nature) which most of my anti-religious friends don´t. Most of them are inspired by Richard Dawkins who really is a hard-skinned atheist.

    2. I have pondered on these matters for several years and I feel quite comfortable with my position.

    Murray;
    I believe in man and that sound and educated people can define their own moral codes in a democratic order. We are not there yet in all corners of the world but hopefully we will be.

  455. KN, you claim:

    “But that doesn’t require that the fundamental structure of reality itself conforms to those principles or that “mind” exist prior to “matter”.”

    And yet, as far as empirical evidence is concerned, we are warranted to believe that mind precedes “matter”:

    the argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Three intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    Logical Proofs of Infinite External Consciousness – January 18, 2012
    Excerpt: (Proof # 2) If you believe in the theory of Quantum Mechanics, then you believe that conscious observation must be present to collapse a wave function. If consciousness did not exist prior to matter coming into existence, then it is impossible that matter could ever come into existence. Additionally, this rules out the possibility that consciousness is the result of quantum mechanical processes. Either consciousness existed before matter or QM is wrong, one or the other is indisputably true.
    http://www.libertariannews.org.....ciousness/

    Thus KN, you are obviously a smart fellow, so why all the word games? You clearly have no basis in empirical science, as you seemed to claim that you had, and yet you waste thousands of words acting like you have a basis in reality to make your argument.

  456. F/N: It may be useful to view this, on founding morality. KF

  457. 459

    Elvis4708: I didn’t ask you to reiterate what you believe; I asked you why I should submit to democratic determination of moral rules.

  458. Elvis you claim:

    “I believe in man and that sound and educated people can define their own moral codes in a democratic order. We are not there yet in all corners of the world but hopefully we will be.”

    Man can be like God ehh Elvis, knowing good and evil??? Where have I heard that line before???

    Stephen Meyer – Morality Presupposes Theism (1 of 4) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpdh1b0X_M

    Objective Morality (1 of 5) – William Lane Craig – video playlist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....BB622A22F7

  459. E: Please LOOK at what you did above, and ask you what makes you itch to react like that. Especially, to someone who long since took time to address the issue of the sins of Christendom [remember, my ancestors were oppressed due to one of the major, longstanding sins of humanity, reformed through the decades long work of men who (having gone through Christian revival and being in a position where for the first time there was a decent shot to use parliament to do this) stood up, Bible in hand to say --- this is wrong, starting with the trade], and to highlight that the pivotal issue is that we all face being finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill willed. That looks extraordinarily like, you have a loaded, prejudicial stereotype that has been indoctrinated into you and triggers a program to issue a put-down whenever the “threat” of right wing creationist theocracy — as you seem to have been programmed to project — seems to appear before you. If I had heard from you a balanced appraisal that for instance would have acknowledged the significance of the specifically Christian contribution to the rise of liberty and democratic self-government under God, I would have made a different response. But you came out with the same, well known pattern of turnabout talking points. That game only tells me you are pushing the typical false narratives. Please, stop and think again. KF

  460. PS: Watch the short vid just above please and address the utilitarian challenge on 90% oppressing 10% to gain benefits [and which BTW is also directly relevant to the game of blaming "the 1%" and seeking to impose ever increasingly disproportionate burdens, which can easily end up driving out especially small scale innovative entrepreneurship to the ultimate harm of all but few will see that in time to avert it, cf my comment on a historical case here], then ponder the problem of democracy coming down to three wolves and two sheep voting on what is for lunch.

  461. What Does The World Look Like Without Christianity? – Larry Taunton – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs_Enln-E2A

    Larry Taunton – The Grace Effect – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZxu7wJYOcc

    The Grace Effect – book
    http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Ef.....1595554408

    From Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity, in giving examples of the influence of Jesus Christ cites many examples. Here are just a few:
    1. Hospitals
    2. Universities
    3. Literacy and education for the masses
    4. Representative government
    5. Separation of political powers
    6. Civil liberties
    7. Abolition of slavery
    8. Modern science
    9. The elevation of the common man
    10. High regard for human life

  462. Kantian Naturalist

    But that doesn’t require that the fundamental structure of reality itself conforms to those principles [right reason] or that “mind” exist prior to “matter”.”

    So, for you, the fundamental structure of reality doesn’t conform to the Laws of Identity and Causality? Are you now saying that Jupiter can, indeed, exist and not exist at the same time?

  463. 465
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: bornagain77 @ 457, the argument seem valid but I do not think it is sound, since I take issue with the first premise. That is, I don’t see why consciousness must be epiphenomenal if it is not more fundamental than matter. Why couldn’t consciousness be both an emergent phenomenon and causally efficacious? That alternative would need to be examined and rejected in order to establish the dichotomy assumed in the first premise.

    Moreover, it’s really not clear to me that “consciousness first” interpretations of quantum mechanics is really better, empirically or metaphysically, than interpretations that do not give consciousness priority. There are, after all, “no collapse” interpretations (the wave-function does not collapse) as well as interpretations where the collapse is not explained in terms of consciousness (e.g. Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory).

    Apart from specific issues in interpretations of quantum mechanics, “consciousness first” interpretations tend to be grounded in an instrumentalist conception of scientific theories, and I find that instrumentalism has pretty serious problems as a view of scientific theories generally, as explored quite thoroughly by the discussions about scientific realism.

    In re: StephenB 464, since I already answered that exact question earlier, I leave it to you to ask me further questions based on my previous response.

  464. KN,

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

  465. KN, your word salad response to the clear evidence facing you in quantum mechanics is much like your word salad response to the evidence facing you in biology. We have clear unambiguous evidence for mind preceding material reality in quantum mechanics, and you have no coherent mechanism to propose to deal with it, just as you have no coherent mechanism to deal with the functional information we find in life (since you reject both reductive materialism and mind),,, Don’t you think tis time for you to wake up and smell the coffee instead of playing such shallow self deceptive head games???

    Chris Tomlin – Awake My Soul (with Lecrae) [Official Lyric Video]
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0902E1NU

  466. notes:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free will assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Particle and Wave-Like Behavior of Light Measured Simultaneously (Nov. 1, 2012)
    Excerpt: Dr Peruzzo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: “The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment. This represents a strong refutation of models in which the photon is either a wave or a particle.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141107.htm

  467. also in response to Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory:

    Quantum Theory’s ‘Wavefunction’ Found to Be Real Physical Entity: Scientific American – November 2011
    Excerpt: Action at a distance occurs when pairs of quantum particles interact in such a way that they become entangled. But the new paper, by a trio of physicists led by Matthew Pusey at Imperial College London, presents a theorem showing that if a quantum wavefunction were purely a statistical tool, then even quantum states that are unconnected across space and time would be able to communicate with each other. As that seems very unlikely to be true, the researchers conclude that the wavefunction must be physically real after all.,,, “This strips away obscurity and shows you can’t have an interpretation of a quantum state as probabilistic,” he says.
    http://www.scientificamerican......vefunction

  468. and:

    On the reality of the quantum state – Matthew F. Pusey, Jonathan Barrett & Terry Rudolph – May 2012
    Abstract: Quantum states are the key mathematical objects in quantum theory. It is therefore surprising that physicists have been unable to agree on what a quantum state truly represents. One possibility is that a pure quantum state corresponds directly to reality. However, there is a long history of suggestions that a quantum state (even a pure state) represents only knowledge or information about some aspect of reality. Here we show that any model in which a quantum state represents mere information about an underlying physical state of the system, and in which systems that are prepared independently have independent physical states, must make predictions that contradict those of quantum theory.
    http://www.nature.com/nphys/jo.....s2309.html

  469. 471
    Kantian Naturalist

    Do you actually have specific objections to my “word salad”? Or is it just incoherent nonsense to you?

    From what I can tell, you haven’t presented anything that is “clear unambiguous evidence for mind preceding material reality in quantum mechanics”.

    What’s you’ve presented is strongly indicative of the claim that quantum mechanics is committed to non-local realism, i.e. we have to give up on locality, and we have to give up on mere instrumentalist interpretations of quantum mechanics.

    I can see how that might lend some support to an emanationist metaphysics, but frankly, it looks pretty suggestive to me, and hardly the smoking gun you make it out to be.

    I don’t think we have any idea what the metaphysics of quantum mechanics are really going to turn out to be. I think the theory itself is in too much turmoil for there to really be much agreement on what the theory commits us, metaphysically speaking.

  470. 472
    Kantian Naturalist

    I managed to find a nice little articl