Monday, December 18, 2017

The Evil God Hypothesis: Some Observations and Answers


A friend asked:
Hope you've been well!!!! Not sure if you've answered this already, but is it possible for a necessary being to be all-evil? I would think it's not. That only an all-good being can be a necessary being.

My response:

I agree. I could say more, but here's a succinct response to the challenge. I recommend William Lane Craig's debates against Peter Millican [or Here] and Stephen Law, and the times he has addressed this issue in his Question of the Week articles [e.g. #387, and #238] . See also his podcasts on the topic.

I. Presuppositionally, it seems to me that non-theists have a difficult (if not impossible) time making sense of objective good and evil. Therefore, unless and until non-theists rationally provide an independent standard or source of goodness (and therefore a basis for also identifying evil), they cannot launch the "Evil God Hypothesis" challenge as an **External** critique. It can only be an **Internal** critique. However, if Christian theism were shown to be internally consistent, then the "Evil God" challenge against Christianity would fail. And I don't see such internal contradiction.

II. There are different ways of defining "evil". I'll focus on one. One way Augustine did (which he borrowed from Platonism and Neoplatonism) was to see evil as privation, deviation, negation, twisting, defection [think defect], corruption [etc.] "from" or "of" the good and of being. In the Neoplatonic scale/chain of being, being was good, and non-being was evil. There's a Christian analog to that. God originally created all things good. However, evil is that which goes contrary to God's design and/or revealed will for the character of creatures. Evil has no independent existence and being. Evil is parasitic on the good. Evil doesn't have positive ontological reality/status. It's like coldness. It's the absence of heat (to some degree or another). Or a shadow, the absence of light (to some degree or another). An analogy would be like that of a perfect dress. If part of the dress were eaten by a moth, then that would be an "evil" in the dress (which could represent the world or some other being). A perfectly evil dress would be no dress at all because it has been completely eaten by moths. Similarly, a perfectly evil God would be no God (or any type of being) at all. Even the devil, who is arguably the most wicked of creatures has soon good qualities. Qualities that reflect God's original good creation and His communicable attributes. For example, the devil has personality and possesses extremely high intelligence. These are good things in themselves, but he harnesses them in a way contrary to God's revealed will for His creatures. In other words, the devil commits/does evil.
Concerning this paragraph, recall my blogposts:
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2013/11/distinctions-in-gods-will-from.html
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2014/05/god-in-relation-to-law-ex-lex-sub-lego.html

III. Steve Hays has addressed the Evil God challenge multiple times at Triablogue. One of his common points is that the issue is ultimately irrelevant. As Steve wrote in a YouTube comment:

//What argument in particular? The evil god hypothesis? That's just a poor man's version of the Cartesian demon........If the evil god existed, that would be a defeater for atheism no less than Christian theism, so assuming we're supposed to take that thought-experiment seriously, the onus lies on the atheist as much as the Christian. If the evil god exists, there's nothing anyone can do about it. Arguments are futile in that event. If the evil god doesn't exist, arguments are unnecessary in that regard.?//

In other words, if one were to take the Evil God Hypothesis seriously, then it would immediately become a moot point.

IV. I've shown above that a perfectly evil God couldn't exist ontologically. Some theists like William Lane Craig also argue that such a being couldn't exist given the definition of "God" and what's called "perfect being theology" in the theological and philosophical literature. Craig basically defines away the possibility of such an Evil God. Something that has some merit, but which wouldn't be very persuasive for non-theists (and especially anti-theists). In the Western theological and philosophical tradition since Anselm, God has often been defined as the greatest conceivable being, possessing all great making properties [in every possible world]. Such a Maximally Great Being would be morally perfect because moral perfection is one of those great making properties it would necessarily have and possess. Since an "Evil God" would be both a morally imperfect AND a morally perfect at the same time and in the same sense, it's a contradiction, and contradictions are impossible. Therefore, such a being cannot possibly exist. Just as a Square Circle cannot exist. At most, there could only be a very evil and very powerful being, but that being couldn't be "God" or an "Evil God" [i.e. "God" as defined in the Ontological Argument or Anselmian way]. Let's call such a finite being who is very evil [but not perfectly evil], very intelligent [but not omniscient or omnisapient] and very powerful [but not omnipotent] an Evil god [lower case "g"]. Or, better yet, Very Evil Greatly Empowered Spirit [VEGES]. Incidentally, three year olds inherently dislike VEGES. Especially green ones.

V. Rationally a Very Evil Spirit [i.e. VEGES] doesn't make much sense. From the atheistic proponents of the Evil God Hypothesis [EGH] I understand that such a being would perform both good and evil things in such a way to maximize suffering, but that we wouldn't be able to tell from the percentages of evil and good that the being was either good or evil. The main point of the EGH is to undermine the evidence for the existence of God based on all the good we DO see in the world. Craig has pointed out that theists don't at all (or don't merely IMO) conclude that God is good based on an inductive survey of the balance of good and evil in the world. There are other evidences and arguments that support the existence of God (e.g. the Moral Argument, the Contingency Argument, the Kalam Cosmological Argument et al.). A proponent of EGH could argue that every evidence and argument for God could appear plausible to us only because the Evil God/Spirit/Cartesian Demon tampers with our brains to make us think they are plausible or valid or even sound. Such a powerful being could be tricking us to think that 2 + 2 = 4, when in actuality [ad arguendo] 4 is the wrong answer. If that's the case, then all argument is moot, as Hays pointed out.

But assuming at least some of our observations and ratiocinations are reliable, then an Evil Spirit [VEGES] doesn't make much rational sense. Such a being would seem to more likely create an unpredictable cartoonish world than the world that we actually observe; which is intricately structured, uniform, elegant, mathematical, consistent and apparently designed and finely-tuned. When we consider all of the physical sciences [e.g. physics, cosmology, cosmogony, chemistry etc.], it seems to me to be clear that if there was a very powerful being who created the world we live in it would have to be EXTREMELY intelligent. Yet, what possible motivation could such a very intelligent and rational being have for maximizing the evil or calamity or suffering in the world? Wouldn't such a being have enough of an ego and self-esteem so as to challenge itself to create something wonderful rather than awful? Making awful things is easy. idiots can do it. But making/creating wonderful things is hard. Executing the latter would be better for its self-esteem than the former since its creation(s) would be a reflection of its own nature and character. That's consistent with a maximally great being, viz. God. Though, admittedly it's conceivable that a finite Evil Spirit [VEGES] might have low self-esteem and so wreaks havoc on its creatures like a disturbed child who burns insects using a magnifying glass. But such petty behavior would seem to be beneath the dignity of a highly intelligent finite being [much less a maximally great one]. This makes some sense even if the Spirit doesn't intend for us to know it or worship it. However, were such a being to exist, it's also the case that there are other rational conscious agents which it created that can evaluate its creation, namely us human beings. Wouldn't such a being want to impress us with its power and wisdom [cf. Rom. 1:19-20ff.] instead of the lack of power and wisdom? How much more if it does want us to worship it? IF it WOULD want us to worship it for its moral perfections even though it secretly knows its own evil behavior, that would seem to lead to its Cognitive Dissonance. Intelligence usually prefers consistency over inconsistency. The consistency and uniformity we see in the physical world would imply an internal rational, existential and psychological consistency on the part of the creator/Creator that argues against the VEGES favoring, creating, planning and enjoying pointless evil and suffering.

VI. If a VEGES existed, then it would (IMO) likely NOT make the evidence for one religion greater than that for others. Yet, from my (admittedly) limited inductive research (and that of others whose research I stand on), the case for Christianity is much stronger than for other worldviews. If the religions of the world were inspired by the VEGES to confuse mankind, then why providentially make Christianity have a better apologetical case for it than (most or [apparently via induction] all) other worldviews? If that's true, then that tips the scales away from an VEGES. For at least two reasons. 1. There's independent evidence for the truth of Christianity and its specific God, as Craig has pointed out. So, that tips the scales away from and equal 50/50 balance. 2. Given EGH/VEGES, it's unlikely that any one theistic worldview would have better credentials. It's true that one could argue that the EG/VEGES could have providentially created the Christian religion for it to be worshipped (along with the other religions). But that suffers from at least two problems. 1. The Cognitive Dissonance I mentioned above. 2. The numbers of people who worship the Christian God, while consistent with Calvinism, is not so consistent with a being that wants to (nearly?) maximize belief and devotion to it from its creatures. Though, in all honesty, and to play the VEGES advocate, this is not strictly illogical/inconsistent. Especially since such a being could have created multiple worlds/universes, some of which have entire civilizations that uniformly worship it, so that of all rational creatures in the entire multiverse, only a small percentage of them don't worship it in one similar form [a form that intersects all universes but that's also dishonest since it doesn't accurately represent its true nature and character]. Or, given all civilizations in all universes, on average, there is no singular worldview that has better credentials. However, WE only have this world/globe to do an inductive investigation, and IMO Christianity does stand out better than the rest. Logical possibilities which we have no evidence for shouldn't automatically trump inductive observations.
See my blogpost here on a related topic:
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-problem-of-evil-brief-conversation.html

VII. Finally, the existence of Evil, if acknowledged and granted as a premise, suggests or even requires an ultimate Good. The Moral Argument for God's Existence (argued by many theists like William Lane Craig) has as its corollary the inference that evil (and evils) actually proves the existence of God. Theists have argued that objective evil can only exist in contrast to an objective standard of Good/Goodness. Such a standard is more plausibly personal than impersonal [see video below]. Therefore, if objective evil exists and can only exist if God [the maximally great being] exists, then God exists. In which case NEITHER the Evil God [of the EGH] or the Very Evil Greatly Empowered Spirit exist [since God does exist], and their Hypotheses fail as a challenge to theism and (IMO) especially Christian Theism.

Is Atheistic Moral Platonism More Plausible Than Theism?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Atheist Discussion with "CN" and "MRJ" on Science and Presuppositionalism

The following discussion occurred on Facebook in May 2017. My first name is James. So, it's usually me who is being referred to when the name "James" is used. My comments are those by "AP" [for Annoyed Pinoy]. The discussion has been slightly edited and it's not always chronological (since Facebook threads can be commented on at any time). I've only included those portions where I interacted with others, or others interacted with me. Initials are used to maintain anonymity.

FYI, Many of the comments and points I made in the original Facebook discussion (which I've recorded in this blog) I also wanted to make in John Loftus' blogpost HERE. Both discussions occurred approximately the same time. However, by the time I was ready to make the same points there, I was already mentally fatigued because I had already had long involved discussions with multiple people in multiple threads simultaneously. In addition to that, it was clear to me that the atheists I was dialoguing/debating with there were especially unreceptive, resistant and antagonistic. I felt I had done more than enough to clear the field of objections to Christianity so that those with a seeker's heart might reconsider the possible truth of Christianity. On Loftus' blogpost, I posted with the Nickname "BibleLosophR". 


The Original Post on Facebook that began the discussion was the following by CN.



CN: William Lane Craig, the man to whom our little club is dedicated, has spent his life selling the notion that Christianity is a truth which can be realized by carefully studying history, nature, and the physical universe. He makes his living assuring his followers that the religion they were taught as children need not merely be accepted on blind faith, but that anyone who sincerely and thoroughly evaluates the available evidence can reasonably conclude that the core claims of Christianity are, in fact, true.

His religion, he claims, rests not on uncritical acceptance of culturally transmitted stories, but on a rigorous foundation of intellectual analysis and inference.

A week or so ago, I posted an argument here demonstrating that Theism cannot be rationally affirmed. This argument was met with no significant opposition. It undermines Craig's approach the matter of Christianity's truth wholesale.

It proves, in fact, that Christianity is *not* a conclusion to which a sincere and careful thinker can arrive by evaluating the evidence. It is *not* a conclusion which can be reached by carefully analyzing the nature of the universe or the historical facts surrounding the resurrection narrative. It is *not,* in fact, reasonable at all.

I am actually quite comfortable, on the strength of this one essentially unopposed argument, in declaring that the purpose of this page has been fulfilled. "Reasonable Faith," referring both to the body of work around which Craig has built his ministry and the notion that his religion can be reasonably affirmed by a sincere and careful seeker of truth, has been debunked. Craig's faith is not reasonable, and if you believe the same thing that he does, we can say with essentially perfect confidence that your faith is not reasonable either.

AP: I'd say that only a knowledgeable and philosophically adept presuppositionalist could answer your arguments. Unfortunately, most presuppositionalists like myself aren't very capable. In general, we'd point out that in comparison to atheism(s) [i.e. various atheistic worldviews], Christianity better provides for the preconditions of intelligibility. Grounding the metaphysical existence of, and/or epistemological belief in things like the laws of logic; abstract entities; laws of nature; laws of morality; genuine objective value (e.g. human dignity etc.); assumption of the general reliability of our sensory and cognitive faculties to serve as truth gatherers and as sources of justified true belief; the existence/knowability/orderly nature of the external world; the adequacy of language to describe the world; the use of the principle of induction; causation etc.).

Some capable presuppers include folks like Paul Manata, James Anderson, Steve Hays et al.


CN: Yeah, I gotta tell you, presuppositionalism is not promising.

AP:  I'm curious, have you ever listened to the Paul Manata vs. Dan Barker debate? I think Manata did a great job. The only major disagreements I would have with Paul in the debate is his assumption of Young Earth Creationism (I'm an Old Earth Creationist), and his cessationist position on Revelation (which made his response to Dan's "talking cat" parallel weak). If you're interested, here's the debate on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/140QVvwL9dU


CN:  i'll have a listen

CN:  Well, I'm through the first ten minutes, wherein Paul makes a remarkable fool of himself. Either his argument is an attack on something Dan actually believes, in which case it is irrelevant to the question, here, because Dan's beliefs are silly and not representative of atheism, or Paul's attack is against a pure straw man, in which case it is still irrelevant.

His basic contentions, that there cannot be any atheistic grounds for rational epistemology and that atheism is internally inconsistency, are both obviously false.

It may be that what *Dan* believes provides him no grounds for rational epistemology, or that what Dan believes is internally inconsistent, but Paul has made it inescapably clear in his intro that his critique cannot possibly apply to atheism in general.

AP: Well, it is a debate and so it only makes sense that he addresses his opponent's position. If I recall correctly, later on he'll make more comments that do apply to atheism in general.

CN:  I'm about five minutes into Dan's response, and in all fairness, it is...bad. like, he's all over the place. He's rambling. His presentation is *way* worse than Paul's.

Even so, Paul *at best* may have some critique of Dan's particular melange of beliefs. He's going to have to change tack almost completely in order to actually offer any argument that's even *relevant* to the issue under discussion in this thread.

CN: Paul's first rebuttal is scattered. Dan isn't capitalizing--I suspect if he were familiar with the typical presupp spiel, he would be able to, because Paul's stuff is predictable and mostly nonsense, and the result is sort of a scattered back and forth where Paul doesn't have any points to make and Dan isn't on the ball enough to point that out.

AP: Well, I'll grant you that Evidentialist, Classical, and Cumulative Case apologetics (by themselves apart from a presuppositional framework) are very weak. There are 5 major approaches to Christian Presuppositionalism, except for one, they all affirm the use of evidences [without being "evidentiaLIST"].

I haven't read your latest argument against theism, I probably wouldn't understand it. But even assuming (ad arguendo) that theistic belief cannot be arrived at rationally, that doesn't mean it's necessarily irrational (i.e. contrary to reason). I don't know if you do claim theism [i.e. theistic belief] is IRrational.


MJR: Yup, exactly why Dan Barker is one of my least favorite atheist debators.

CN: Dan has made a significant mistake in his treatment or morality, here in the middle of Paul's first cross-examination, but Paul of course fails to actually make any relevant points off of Dan's error.

CN: What I claim is that theism is not a belief that can be affirmed rationally.

AP: "What I claim is that theism is not a belief that can be affirmed rationally."

Affirmed rationally, or defended rationally? Are you saying all forms of theistic belief are necessarily irrational, illogical and incoherent? Surely, some things are rational to believe even if one couldn't rationally or empirically or historically defend the belief (e.g. your belief that your grandmother told you you're her favorite grandchild on your 10th birthday).

AP: You're within your epistemic rights to believe your grandmother said you were her favorite despite the fact that you can't prove it and despite the fact that your siblings and cousins reject your claim.


CN:  "Affirmed rationally, or defended rationally?"

Both.

"Are you saying all forms of theistic belief are necessarily irrational, illogical and incoherent?"

No.

"Surely, some things are rational to believe even if one couldn't rationally or empirically or historically defend the belief (e.g. your belief that your grandmother told you you're her favorite grandchild on your 10th birthday)."

Memory typically serves as sufficient evidence for high-prior proposals.

You might adopt some logical rules or rules of thought without evidence, but we wouldn't call this "rational" and, indeed, we could say pretty easily that it would be irrational to accept these rules *as ontologically weighty propositions* without going through some rational process to justify the ontological weight of those propositions.

CN:  Yeah, sorry, man. I'm about halfway through this, and I gotta stop. This debate is grating. Dan is doing a terrible job, and Paul is just reciting the typical presupp spiel, and not even doing a good job of it. He makes no points, does not argue against atheism in general or for Christianity in general. All he is doing is picking at isolated bits from Dan's book while the two of them bicker ineffectually back and forth about...nothing, basically.

I think if I engaged in the same debate with this guy, it would be obvious that he has nothing to contribute to the conversation. My guess is that he doesn't really understand most of what he is saying, so word-for-word typical is his spiel. He sounds like he's reading off of cue cards he downloaded from Turek's website.

AP: Fast forward to his rebuttal period.

I think Paul's rebuttal is at 39 minutes and 55 seconds.


CN:  I'm at 40:55. I guess I could keep listening, but, frankly, it just dropped dramatically in quality.

Paul was coming off as (at least sort of) polished when he was just reciting his script, and Dan has been a mess the whole time, but as soon as Paul actually started departing from the script to start making his own points, it became immediately obvious that he had no more intelligent contribution to offer than Dan did.

AP: Are you saying that your belief regarding your grandma's statement is non-rational or arational?

AP: I don't know if you're still listenin, but Paul's closing statement is at 1:00:00.


CN:  Well, I don't personally have any such belief.

If I did, it would depend on the details of my memory, and whatever evidence speaks to how generally reliable my memory is.

CN:  I'm not. I'll jump to 1:00:00 if you really think it's worth it, but I have no expectation at this point that it will be.

I'll bet it's just the same predictable script he started out with, completely ignoring whatever was said in response

HP: his assumption of Young Earth Creationism proves his emphatic ignorance. He must have failed geology

AP: Science on secular grounds cannot prove or disprove anything. Much less YEC.

Science has presuppositions or axioms which cannot themselves be proven scientifically but must be assumed in order for science to be done. Some of those presuppositions include:

(1) the existence of a theory-independent, external world;
(2) the orderly nature of the external world;
(3) the knowability of the external world;
(4) the existence of truth;
(5) the laws of logic;
(6) the [general] reliability of our cognitive and sensory faculties to serve as truth gatherers and as a source of justified true beliefs in our intellectual environment;
(7) the adequacy of language to describe the world;
(8) the existence of values used in science (e.g., "test theories fairly and report test results honestly");
(9) the [presumed] uniformity of nature and [propriety of the use of the principle of] induction;
(10) the existence of numbers.
(11) causation

These make sense in theism, but the various atheistic worldviews have difficulty grounding such axioms. Most atheists live by "faith" (so to speak) when they operate with these working/operating assumptions.

Also, atheism has to overcome the problem of Eliminative Materialism which defended by even some atheists. Elminative Materialism holds that human consciousness, thoughts, desires, beliefs, deliberations, decisions and acts of will aren't real. If you can't overcome the problem of Eliminative Materialism then you have no business arguing against YEC.

AP: Generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century, Karl Popper wrote:

"First, although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it.... [W]e know that our scientific theories always remain hypotheses.... [I]n science there is no "knowledge" in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth.... Einstein declared that his theory was false: he said that it would be a better approximation to the truth than Newton's, but he gave reasons why he would not, even if all predictions came out right, regard it as a true theory.... Our attempts to see and to find the truth are not final, but open to improvement;... our knowledge, our doctrine is conjectural;... it consist of guesses, of hypotheses, rather than of final and certain truths."- Karl Popper

Popper went on to say: "It can even be shown that all [scientific] theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero."

The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.- Karl Popper

Basically, "science" on atheism reduces to conjectures (i.e. guesses) and alleged "refutations". But even the "refutations" aren't really true refutations since science, on secular grounds, cannot lead to any truth.

AP: Some secular books that destroy the possibility of science on secular grounds see the following books:

Mathematics: the Loss of Certainty by Morris Kline
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume
The Scientific Outlook by Bertrand Russell
Unity, Identity, and Explanation in Aristotle's Metaphyics

Or read Christian philosopher Gordon Clark's book, "The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God" which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. He's a Clarkian Presuppositionalist (I'm Van Tillian presupper). Nevertheless, his critique of science is devastating. Though, I'm not an empiric skeptic like he was.


CN:  Well, most of that is pretty obvious nonsense, of course. We can construct a logical and rigorous theory of science without most of those assumptions, as Jaynes proved in "probability theory, the logic of science."

Moreover, theism does no better a job grounding any of those assumptions than any number of comparable atheistic worldviews.

JP: James wrote: "secular books that destroy the possibility of science on secular grounds"

Destroy? I honestly don't think there's much merit in those things you list. Not because they don't carry any merit in their own right, but because of how you're using them here.

Of course science doesn't "disprove" solipsism. :)
And, sure, most epistemic endeavors suppose the 1st law, self-identity, for example; I'm not sure why you think that's somehow an argument against science. By all means, try to toss that out, and give it some thought; there isn't anything in particular that's itself, including this statement, no individuation either.
What of causation then? Science has demarcated seemingly acausal events, and come up with coherent models thereof.

If "the ground" of existence is something else, then "it" does not exist.

Science is model ==> evidence convergence. Empirical, self-critical, bias-minimizing. The convergence methodologies are commonly inductive. Obviously you can't change the evidence (observations, facts, experimental results, etc), hence the models converge on that. That's roughly scientific justification standards, and science remains the single most successful epistemic endeavor in all of human history, no contest (medicine, physics, you name it). And you may take that as evidence of self-justification, science meets it's own criteria.

Au contraire. It's kind of telling that critique has been pushed into such corners. But, I for one, do indeed want to see objections. Why on Earth would they come from theism, though?

MJR:  Basal assumptions: the universe exists (we aren't just a brain in the vat)

We can learn something about the universe.

Models with predictive capabilities are more likely true that models without.

Presupps make all of these assumptions and more. This makes their position inferior. It makes extra unnecessary assumptions.

P.S. science most definitely can demonstrate that the earth is much much older than 6k years.

AP: "And, sure, most epistemic endeavors suppose the 1st law, self-identity, "

While some atheists are not materialists (e.g. some are Platonists), most atheists are materialists. Given materialism, there's nothing material you can point to that's unchanging. The logical law "A is A" doesn't apply to anything physical because everything physical is contingent and changing. Moreover, such atheists still have to surmount many of the issues I brought up earlier. For example, the problems and implications of Eliminative Materialism, justify their assumption of the uniformity of nature, make sense of their use of induction, the assumption of the general reliability of their sensory and cognitive faculties etc. Most forms of atheism are like boats littered with holes. It's not enough to plug one hole. One needs to plug most or all holes simultaneously and in a non-contradictory fashion. Some solutions atheists offer for one problem contradict or undermine their solutions for other problems and vice versa.

" I'm not sure why you think that's somehow an argument against science."

What I'm against is a secular foundation for science. I'm not against science. As a Christian I believe that God made the world to be investigatable and discoverable. Also, that our cognitive and sensory faculties are, by design, adapted to our environment. While EAAN might not be sound, it does show the difficulties rationally affirming naturalism. Also, there are problems with Evolutionary Reliabilism.

The Evolutionary Basis of Self-Deception
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B78fS_Vf9Y1iRUtwdVJsOTVuOTQ/view

Two Senses of 'Reliability' in Evolutionary Epistemology
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B78fS_Vf9Y1iZE5VUlNycFVoSU0/view

The Circularity of Evolutionary Reliabilism
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B78fS_Vf9Y1iMnhOUXVPZ2RhUTQ/view


"What of causation then? Science has demarcated seemingly acausal events, and come up with coherent models thereof."

Secular science has never proven either causation or acausal events. Regarding the former, David Hume has demonstrated that. Regarding the latter, just because something doesn't seem caused doesn't mean it wasn't caused. You'd have to be omniscient to rule out all causal factors. Just because you can't detect a cause doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

"The convergence methodologies are commonly inductive."

Induction, on secular grounds, can never lead to truth or certain knowledge, as Popper said in the quotes I gave. That's because no amount of induction can tell us anything final. For all you know, any future discovery could controvert absolutely everything one once held as certain or provisional. Secular science must and can only ever be provisional. At best most atheistic worldviews can only lead to an operationalist or instrumentalist view of science. It's only pragmatic, and can never lead to apodictic truth.

"Obviously you can't change the evidence (observations, facts, experimental results, etc), hence the models converge on that. "

That assumes that the universe is uniform. For all you know, the fabric of spacetime along with it laws and constants are constantly changing from metaphorical cotton, to gold weave, to polyester, to clay but you never realize it. Just like in those time travel movies where people don't realize the world has changed (e.g. Time Cop). For all you know the laws of nature are different in other galaxies. No earthbound scientists has proven universal uniformity. Universal both in in time and space.

"...and science remains the single most successful epistemic endeavor in all of human history, no contest (medicine, physics, you name it)."

Theories can work which are nevertheless false. For example Newtonian physics can get men on the moon and back even though most acknowledge it's false. There is no such attraction between bodies as Newton postulated. Examples could be multiplied.

"And you may take that as evidence of self-justification, science meets it's own criteria."

No, you haven't show how secular science isn't just stipulating things and playing games with made up baseless rules.

Many scientific studies can’t be replicated. That’s a problem.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/08/27/trouble-in-science-massive-effort-to-reproduce-100-experimental-results-succeeds-only-36-times/

Most Scientific Findings Are Wrong or Useless
http://reason.com/archives/2016/08/26/most-scientific-results-are-wrong-or-use

Is Most Published Research Wrong?
https://youtu.be/42QuXLucH3Q

AP: "Basal assumptions: the universe exists (we aren't just a brain in the vat)"

You'd need to explain what you mean by "ex-ists". Its etymology means to be "out of being". As R.C. Sproul said, "Now the idea of existence says to exist is to stand out of something. And the idea meant to stand out of being. So that something that exists is something that has one foot in being, and the other foot in becoming, or in non-being. Unless it’s connected somehow to being, it couldn’t be. We wouldn’t be human beings, we would be human becomings. And if it had both feet in being, it couldn’t be a creature. Well the point I’m saying is that we don’t want to think of God like this."

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/rc-sproul-proves-god-does-not-exist/

Stipulating we aren't brains in a vat isn't an argument. For all you know you are Hilary Putnam's brain in a vat. Being manipulated by an Ungerian Mad Scientist. With no other real brains to keep you company. Or maybe you're dreaming, or being tricked by a Cartesian Daemon. In fact, for all you know, divine idealism or divine occasionalism might be the case.

"We can learn something about the universe."

Another unargued assumption.

"Models with predictive capabilities are more likely true that models without."

That assumes that there is no Cartesian Demon who's trying to trip you up intellectually. And even granting that slogan, so what? Theories believed to be false sometimes work better than theories believed to be true. False theories sometimes work.

"Presupps make all of these assumptions and more. This makes their position inferior. It makes extra unnecessary assumptions."

I don't know which assumptions you're referring to. The ones I mentioned, or the ones you just mentioned. Either way, such assumptions make better sense given theism than atheism. Christian theism can ground them, while the various atheistic worldviews either can't or have much more difficulty doing so. Nor have you addressed the problems I outlined above in my previous posts.

"P.S. science most definitely can demonstrate that the earth is much much older than 6k years."

I'm an Old Earth Creationist who believes the universe is billions of years old. But given atheism, there's no way one could really tell us the age of the earth. In fact, given atheism, maybe the B theory of time and Minkowski's block universe is true. Which means eternalism is true. In which case, the earth has no age.

P.S. Christianity is compatible with either the A or B theory of time.


MJR: They are the Base assumptions we all make. You don't argue for assumptions. They're assumptions. And you can't escape them anymore than I can.

MJR: You have to start with the same assumptions I just mentioned. It doesn't make any more sense to add god to your assumptions then make some assinine remark that they make more sense under theism. Considering I make fewer assumptions, sticking to the bare minimum of what's necessary, I'm not seeing any evidence for any sort of god.

AP: Some assumptions cohere more and better in some worldview than in others. Also, Christianity is all for faith assumptions. Atheists usually berate theists for their "faith" assumptions. Yet, they themselves have unargued for assumptions which they exempt by labeling them "working/operating assumptions". But it begs the question to assume they're 1. true, and 2. actually work.

You stipulate the the universe exists and can know things about it. You haven't given us a plausible worldview that can make sense of that. How do you know you can know anything about the universe, and what do you think you know about it? Do you know enough to know that God isn't necessary metaphysically or epistemologically?

Occam's Razor isn't an infallible principle. It doesn't tell us what is necessarily true, only what is to be preferred. Scientists sometimes count elegance in a theory as a greater guide than simplicity in telling them which theory is more likely true. So, sometimes a more complex theory is preferred if it provides greater explanatory power and scope.

Moreover, I showed you how atheism often undermines or at least seriously calls into question those assumptions, given atheism. You haven't actually addressed my points above which I posted to to you or to others in this thread.


AP: Given Christian theism, we were meant to have such working assumptions because we were to infer them from General Revelation and Special Revelation. However, given atheism, the universe didn't guide the evolution of our sensory and cognitive faculties to be truth acquiring and producing. For all you know, you never learn anything really true about the universe. You're like the slave in Plato's Cave who never sees things for/as what they really are. Like a color blind dog who'll never know about the blue sky.

The philosopher William James once said, “We may be in the world as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the meaning of it all.”Read more:
www.reasonablefaith.org/emotions-and-deciding-whether-christianity-is-true

Given theism, humans are more like Newton when he said, "I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."- Isaac Newton

Science first truly flourished in Christian Europe because Christianity instilled an expectation of discover in the world from it's wise, rational and intelligent Creator.


MJR: They're necessary to function. That doesn't make them a "faith" assumption. We all make them. I just keep my assumptions limited to the bare minimum, and infer from there.

AP:  Given atheism, maybe CHAOS rules the world. As Aristophanes put it:

Whirl is King, having driven out Zeus-Aristophanes

Alternatively translated:
No, a thousand times no! The ruler of the world is the Whirlwind, that has unseated Zeus.

"There is not, no; for Vortex reigns having expelled Jupiter."

Vortex is king, and has deposed Zeus.

It is wholly irrational to hold any other position than that of Christianity. Christianity alone does not slay reason on the altar of 'chance.' - Van Til


 MJR: Atheism isn't threatened by the bare minimum assumptions unless there were actually evidence for god.

MJR:  I would say given the evidence, Christianity is almost certainly false.

AP:  I've listed some evidences in my comments at this thread:
[I've created a blog based on those comments HERE]

I've also collected some in my various blogs. For example here:

http://misclane.blogspot.com/

I need to begin my day and so have to leave the conversation for now. I'll be back tonight. Thanks for the chat.


MJR: Great, but if you're using evidence and arguments for god, that can only possibly follow after the base assumptions. Though I still find the logic trying to demonstrate gods existence is seriously flawed.

CN:  " Some assumptions cohere more and better in some worldview than in others."

Note that this isn't quite right. Coherence is binary. There is no such thing as cohering "more" or cohering "better." There is only "coherence" or "incoherence."

JP: James wrote: «[...] there's nothing material you can point to that's unchanging. The logical law "A is A" doesn't apply to anything physical because everything physical is contingent and changing»

I don't think you quite understand the 1st law. :D The processes that occur are the processes that occur - ontological self-identity. At any one time, an object is the object - ontological self-identity. Tautologies are true - propositional self-identity.

James wrote: «Secular science has never proven [...]»

Since my background is over in mathematics, I can't help but notice the haphazard use of the word "proof". Technically, proofs are deductive, whereas by far most epistemics go by justification. And justification come in various forms, not just deductive.

That aside, why on Earth have you inserted "Secular" in front of "science"? As briefly mentioned above, science is largely methodological. I know you'd like to hijack science for religious apologetics, but you might as well write "Yellow science".

James wrote: «Induction, on secular grounds, can never lead to truth or certain knowledge»

Ah, certainty. So, by "knowledge" you mean "certainty" (in your various posts here)? To know p (some proposition), you then also have to know that you know p. Ad infinitum. Sorry, that's not how it works. And then there's the diallelus. By inserting your variety of theism you've just added more to your burden.

James wrote: «That assumes that the universe is uniform»

Suppose there are no regularities. This would make it impossible for us to learn. We find both.

James  wrote: «playing games with made up baseless rules»

:D

Your demand for others to disprove solipsism (and brains in vats and all that) is misplaced. By all means, go right ahead and disprove solipsism; take it as a challenge.

That aside, how do you think you ever learned anything, from the time you were born? By interacting with the world. In absence of non-deductive learning we get exactly nowhere.

JP: MJR wrote: wrote: "I would say given the evidence, Christianity is almost certainly false."

Not just Christianity. Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, ... It's all fantastic speculation, that has become ritualized ignorance. Contemporary theology is the fossilized remains of superstition acquired by non-teleological evolution. And then theists start deferring to ontologized abstracts, making their "otherworldly" entities sterile and inert. Go figure. :)

AP:  I've been busy and I've already devoted a lot of time to this thread. Thanks for the chat everyone. Here are my final comments:

"I don't think you quite understand the 1st law. :D The processes that occur are the processes that occur - ontological self-identity. At any one time, an object is the object - ontological self-identity."

The very reason Plato denied knowledge was possible in this contingent world was because its changing. For example, Apples can turn into humans, humans into sharks by the process of digestion. A is never A because there never is an unchanging "A". Only in the unchanging realm of forms did Plato think knowledge was possible.

"Great, but if you're using evidence and arguments for god, that can only possibly follow after the base assumptions. Though I still find the logic trying to demonstrate gods existence is seriously flawed."

Your base assumptions float in nowhere. I would argue you don't have enough axioms [much less justifiable ones] to make sense of the world or develop a viable worldview.

"That aside, why on Earth have you inserted "Secular" in front of "science"? As briefly mentioned above, science is largely methodological. I know you'd like to hijack science for religious apologetics, but you might as well write "Yellow science"."

I already explained that. One can attempt to do science with a secular or atheistic worldview(s). Whether one postively and explicitly holds to metaphysical naturalism or one takes the more modest position of methodological naturalism. IF, hypothetically speaking, Christianity is true [as I believe, rightly or wrongly], then only science done with Christian presuppositions would count as true knowledge from God's, and therefore as well man's, perspective. Fortunately, non-Christians borrow enough from the Christian worldview that much of secular science is useful. I'm hesitant to say "leads to scientific truth" since, I'm not sure it does. I lean toward scientific anti-realism.

"Ah, certainty. So, by "knowledge" you mean "certainty" (in your various posts here)? To know p (some proposition), you then also have to know that you know p. Ad infinitum. Sorry, that's not how it works. And then there's the diallelus. By inserting your variety of theism you've just added more to your burden."

Yes, the regress problem is real. I anchor my knowledge to the ontology of God's existence and the epistemology of God's revelation. Non-theists cannot make that move. I don't claim an internalist and infallibilist epistemology. It seems to me that it's incumbent on non-theists 1. to claim, 2. to actually possess and 3. to fulll an internalist and infallibilist constraint on knowledge. Otherwise, they really don't know anything (as I claimed above). Like they say, there are no free lunches in philosophy.

As Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til wrote regarding knowledge, "My unity is that of a child who walks with its father through the woods." Elsewhere, he wrote, "Man can rejoice in the mystery that surrounds himself because he believes that no mystery surrounds God. If mystery should be thought of as surrounding God, then nothing would remain for man but utter despair. A child who knows that his father is a millionaire does not need to have more than a dollar in his hand."

The consistent Christian unashamedly/unabashedly acknowledges he's walking by faith in God's revelation. Whereas various non-Christians who lean toward rationalism, when pushed can't given rational arguments to ground their rationalism. The non-Christians who lean toward empiricism can't rationally or empirically ground their empiricism. While irrationalists are self-contradictory in speech and behavior.

"Suppose there are no regularities. This would make it impossible for us to learn. We find both."

No, you're asserting and begging the question of both. Just because it appears to you, or you think you are learning or that there are regularities in the world doesn't mean you are or there is. Given, Christianity, I agree both are true. But given atheism, I'd like to know how such is possible ontologically and epistemologically.

"Your demand for others to disprove solipsism (and brains in vats and all that) is misplaced. By all means, go right ahead and disprove solipsism; take it as a challenge."

I was challenging non-theistic (specifically non-Christian) epistemologies which begin with man as the source and measure (homo mensura). I begin with God (deus mensura), God as the measure of all things. Mine is a revelational epistemology. I was looking for how non-theists can claim to have any knowledge at all. I haven't see any good arguments.

"That aside, how do you think you ever learned anything, from the time you were born? By interacting with the world. In absence of non-deductive learning we get exactly nowhere."

Christianity allows for the use of deduction, induction, abduction, reduction, innoduction etc. It's because I live in a world created by an orderly God that there are such things as kinds, categories, species, universals. Why I can have confidence in the general reliability of my sense perceptions and rational faculties etc. Why I can assume things like causation, regularity, order, induction, general uniformity etc. Why I can think in terms of laws of logic, laws of nature and laws of morality.


 MJR:  //Your base assumptions float in nowhere. I would argue you don't have enough axioms [much less justifiable ones] to make sense of the world or develop a viable worldview.//

And yet due to your own subjective lens, you're stuck in the exact same boat I am. You make the exact same assumptions and then make more. I would argue that your additional assumptions are unwarranted.

CN:  Note that axioms are allowed to '"float in nowhere," so to speak. They do not need to be grounded in prior ontological assumptions.

AP: "Note that axioms are allowed to '"float in nowhere," so to speak. They do not need to be grounded in prior ontological assumptions."

Technically, that's true given some systems and mathematics. When it comes worldviews, that's a weakness since such axioms could be completely arbitrary and ad hoc. The difference is that in "Omni" types of theism (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam) some axioms or presuppositions are revealed from by an omniscient and omnisapient all powerful providential God.


to MJR:

" You make the exact same assumptions and then make more. I would argue that your additional assumptions are unwarranted."

Our common assumptions fit with the remainder of my worldview, while yours often do not. I say often since there are different types of atheistic worldviews and I don't know which one you hold to. For example, most forms of atheism are materialistic and so have to overcome the hurdles of Eliminative Materialism. Given my worldview, my presuppositions are warranted and non-arbitrary. Most forms of atheism undermine (or seriously call into question) our common assumptions.

AP: The overarching point is that theism (like that in Christianity) can in principle consistently claim knowledge and truth. Whereas in atheism, one cannot, even in principle, claim knowledge and truth. At best atheists can attempt to argue for what works/pragmatism (though, even that's questionable).


MJR:  I'm sorry but that just looks like word salad to me. You make the same base assumptions I make. I try to keep my assumptions limited to the bare minimum. I'm not assuming materialism or naturalism or whatever you want to call it, I believe that's where the evidence points.

MJR: Christianity doesn't give you any special powers of knowledge that I don't already possess.

AP: Tell me one substantial thing you know given your epistemology and ontology. Not something like, "I know I'm not omniscient." Something really positive.

MJR:  I don't even know what your actually asking for?

MJR:  Are you suggesting that because I can't know with certainty that I'm not a brain in a vat that I can't really know anything?

Great. But we're all in that boat.

AP: Christianity, gives us the framework in which to make sense of the world, as well as making sense of making sense of the world. As C.S. Lewis said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
Given your atheism, you can't know that the sun has risen, nor can you make sense of your your knowledge that it does rise. As a Christian, I believe you do know things, but you can't explain your knowledge given your non-Christian worldview. If you were consistent with your worldview, you'd admit you don't know anything of consequence. But, because you're made in God's image and live in God's created world, you actually do know things.

AP: So, you admit that you can't really know anything? Good. I agree. I disagree that we're in the same epistemological boat.


MJR: Christianity doesn't give you any extra special power to know with certainty anymore that I could.

MJR: You haven't shown that your not. you've basically just said that you were because Christianity blah blah blah, but the reality reality is your stuck behind your own subjective lens just as I am behind mine.

AP: The power is not in me. I agree we're the same. The power is in God and in His General Revelation (which reaches everyone) and Special Revelation (which reaches some). That coupled with the inner witness of the Holy Spirit provides a basis for genuine knowledge (even if not apodictic or infallible).

MJR: Which could all be part of the program feeding into your brain.

MJR:  I have no general revelation of any such god. So that doesn't reach everyone

AP: I admit I'm fallible. I"m glad you admit that given atheism, no true knowledge is possible and that everything of consequence is provisional. Hence, you can't say that Christianity is false. Only that I might possible be wrong about Christianity. I'm content with that. Especially since there are many other lines of converging evidence that suggest Christianity is true.

AP: The topic of General Revelation is discussed in my books on Christian apologetics. This isn't the medium to describe it in full and defend the concept.

AP: oops, not ***MY*** books on apologetics. I mean in books by Christian apologists.


MJR: If by "true knowledge" you mean 100% certainty, then I would argue that no world view at all can offer you that. So I'm not really sure what your issue is?

AP: I"m not talking about psychological certainty. That comes and goes for even false beliefs. I'm talking about knowledge. In fact, it's possible to have knowledge with a low degree of certainty, while another person can have a high degree of certainty of something that's actually false. IF Christianity is true, then I can have knowledge because the Revelations of the Christian God are from a God who is all knowing, all powerful, all controlling [providentially], and all truthful God.

MJR: Sorry but "if" isn't a very convincing argument. Further I've seen no reason to believe a god is giving us any sort of revelation much less exist.

MJR:  I recognize that I can't prove the external world exists. But I can at least learn about the reality I inhabit. And we all do that regardless of God's existence.

Also, I'm still not even sure what you mean by true knowledge? You seem to agree that we could all be wrong, which only puts you back in the same boat I'm in.

CN:  James: it's not really a weakness in world-views at all.

You assume that God exists and then deduce from that that inference works.

I just assume that inference works.

Your grounding for inference is precisely as shaky as mine, mine just cuts out an unnecessary and unhelpful extravagance that yours includes.

AP:  The IF wasn't an argument for the truth of Christianity. I asked you to see things from the perspective within the Christian worldview.

MJR:  I still don't see what you mean by "true knowledge"? If Christianity is true god gives you revelation? So what? I've seen no reason to think Christianity is true.

MJR: And a lot of reasons to think it's false.

AP: CN, why assume that inference works in light of the problems Eliminative Materialism gives you along with the problems of Evolutionary Reliabilism? Along with the fact that if there is no God, then maybe acausal things happen all the time and you're not aware of it such that the reasoning of your brain isn't reliable. The fabric of the universe and its laws might be continually changing analogous to the timeline of a time travel movies.

AP: It's refreshingly honest of well known atheist and debunker John Loftus to admit for years (and on multiple occasions) that 1. Christianity has not been absolutely refuted/disproved (i.e. proven false); and 2. despite all that he knows and all the arguments against Christianity, it's still possible that Christianity is true. He thinks the likelihood is less than 1%. Nevertheless, no one can say that their rejection of Christianity is based on the positive evidence against Christianity.

AP: MJR, If you like, you can tell me what you think is the THE GREATEST "proof" or evidence that disproves Christianity. If I can show why it isn't really a good reason, then maybe that would go a long way in making room for Christianity in your mind.

MJR: James, I said I've seen plenty of reasons to think it's false. I've also been repeatedly admitting that I agree 100% certainty is impossible. So why should him giving it a less than 1% chance of being true be any different than anything I've been saying here?

MJR:  // Along with the fact that if there is no God, then maybe acausal things happen all the time and you're not aware of it such that the reasoning of your brain isn't reliable. The fabric of the universe and its laws might be continually changing analogous to the timeline of a time travel movies.//

You realize that this could still be the case even if God exists?

AP: Because, Loftus' arguments against Christianity are terrible. See the book review links I've collected in my blogpost here:
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2013/09/book-reviews-of-recent-atheist-authors.html

AP: "You realize that this could still be the case even if God exists?"

Not the Christian God.


MJR: Only if you assume the Christian god actually is exactly how it's described. But I've seen little reason to think it exists, much less exactly as described.

AP: That's an external critique, not an internal critique of Christianity. Either way, I'm not aware of a good argument against Christianity. Or even one that would undermine any of his claimed attributes in Scripture.

MJR:  I've been doing this long enough to know your just making a general statement. I'm sure you don't find them convincing else you would drop it. I'm afraid I do find them very convincing.

MJR: I'm not interested in arguing whether it's internally consistent. Lots of things can be internally consistent and still be wrong. Internal consistency isn't a measure of if it's true.

AP: Name your best example of an argument or an evidence that seriously undermines the truth of Christianity.

CN:  "eliminator materialism" has nothing to do with my position.

There is no problem of "evolutionary reliabilism."

More to the point, you are *missing* the point. Why assume that there is a god?

Because, according to you, this affords you the grounding you need for functional epistemology.

But, of course, assuming the functionality of some Epistemology accomplishes the exact same thing. I have exactly the same reason for assuming the functionality of some logic as an inferential and Epistemology all framework as you have for assuming that God exists, and there simply aren't any significant problems that follow from this approach.

MJR: //MJR, Name your best example of an argument or an evidence that seriously undermines the truth of Christianity.//

while I think there's several, I think asking for this is just just a distraction.

AP: I'm not sure it's true, but it's been said by William Lane Craig that most philosophers now generally agree that the deductive problem of evil (PoE) fails, such that philosophers now focus on (or resort to) the inductive/probabilistic PoE based on gratuitous evil. But then the skeptic has to argue for gratuity.

Which version of PoE are you presenting/putting forth as a good argument against Christianity?


MJR: James, I really think that's just a distraction from the actual conversation. I know there's a bunch of cop-out answers to the objections, but I just don't find them even slightly persuasive.

CN:  The more important issue is that there is nothing which undermines the assumption that the logic of of probability theory actually grounds a functional epistemically and inferential methodology.

Even if I just made this assumption as my basal assumption, I would have neatly escaped the entire force of your argument, here, James.

AP: "But, of course, assuming the functionality of some Epistemology accomplishes the exact same thing. I have exactly the same reason for assuming the functionality of some logic as an inferential and Epistemology all framework as you have for assuming that God exists, and there simply aren't any significant problems that follow from this approach."

Don't you find your approach completely ad hoc and arbitrary? I mean, given atheism, it would be just as plausible (if not more so) that nihilism and global skepticism are the natural position to take.

Take for example the laws of logic as abstract entities. Abstract entities makes sense in my non-materialistic worldview. Do, they make sense in your atheistic worldview? Are you a materialist? If so, do you think the laws of logic are material? Or are you an atheistic Platonist? If the later, on what basis do you believe in Platonic forms?

Or given materialism, why assume you can actually deliberate and reason? Presumably you know about the EAAN. I acknowledge that it isn't sound, but at least it should give atheists a reason to question whether they are reasoning.

Given cosmic impersonalism, why assume that reasoning is possible. Whereas, given cosmic personalism (i.e. theism), it only makes sense that some creatures would reason and be rational like their Creator.

I'm not sure, but I think even atheist Sam Harris is doubtful that emergentism can account for consciousness.

Atheist Thomas Nagel himself was strongly criticized by his fellow atheists when he doubted the presently offered naturalistic explanations of consciousness (cf. his book [I believe "Mind and Cosmos"].


AP:  Is Consciousness an Illusion? by Thomas Nagel
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/03/09/is-consciousness-an-illusion-dennett-evolution/

The Case Against Reality
http://www.gregwelty.com/2016/05/the-case-against-reality/

Evolution May Obscure Reality, Says a Cognitive Scientist and Evolutionist
https://evolutionnews.org/2016/05/evolution_may_o/

The Hard Problem of Consciousness
http://www.iep.utm.edu/hard-con/

Problems of Consciousness
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness/#ProCon

Eliminative Materialism
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/materialism-eliminative/


CN:  My assumption is no more ad hoc than yours, and atheism is a conclusion which follows from applying my assumption rigorously to the task of learning about the world--not a further assumption that I also make.

So, no, this just isn't an issue.

Also, I'm not a materialist (not that this would be a problem, either.)

AP: There is a difference. Mine is a revealed worldview (or at least a claimed one). Yours admittedly, is not. Given your worldview, maybe ultimate reality or just plain reality is beyond your ability to know. You're dislike of that possibility doesn't make it any less possible or ("probable" given the problems that consciousness has in a world without God).

CN: The mistake you're making here is in your interpretation of the ordering of my beliefs.


"Given cosmic impersonalism, why assume that reasoning is possible?"

I don't.

I assume reasoning is possible, then use that reasoning to conclude that cosmic impersonalism is probably true. Does this undermine my assumption that reasoning is possible? No. Because cosmic impersonalism is not inconsistent with reasoning being possible. That I could not go the other direction (assume cosmic impersonalism, then use that to justify a belief that reasoning is possible) simply isn't relevant at all.

AP:  As the philosopher William James once said, “We may be in the world as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the meaning of it all.”

CN, you might be like that dog. Never really understanding even basic reality.

AP: Why assume reasoning is possible?

CN: Why assume God exists?

CN: James: you might also be like that dog, never really understanding even basic reality.

AP:  Determinism doesn't *necessarily* preclude the possibility of reality of reasoning. Whether of materialistic/naturalistic determinism, or theistic determinism (I do hold the latter). However, determinism is compatible with undermining reasoning. Given atheism, maybe, the laws of nature, biology, chemistry (etc.) interfere with man's reasoning capacity. You're not really deliberating, you're just coming to conclusions which are forced upon you deterministically by physical laws.

CN, I'm glad you're not a dogmatic materialist.

AP:  "Why assume God exists?"

Because God has revealed Himself in nature, in Scripture, through the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. Because there are historical reasons, textual reasons, inductive reasons (like scientific), philosophical reasons, deductive and and abductive reasons. Because of supernatural reasons (e.g. answered prayer and miracles). Because of existential reasons. Because of moral reasons. etc. etc.


MJR: That's not an assumption if true. But I've seen no reason to think it's true.

CN:  You're not answering the question: all of those are alleged reasons for concluding that God exists, but recall that you assume God basally, a priori. None of those can be reasons for the a priori assumption of God's existence.

After all, you rest the reliability of your reasoning in your assumption that God exists. You can't then turn around and justify that assumption by the very reasoning you assume it in order to ground.

So, again: why do you assume, as a basal assumption on which you ground your confidence in reason, that God exists?

AP: Read for example Craig Keener's two volume book on Miracles. If you've already read atheist christopher hallquist's review of the book, read the book for yourself. Instead of depending on a secondary source who's got a clear ax to grind. He's not the most objective critique. See for example the fact that Jeffrey J. Lowder disagree with him when he (Hallquist) claims William Lane Craig is totally dishonest.

MJR: Why? What does that have to do with what's being discussed?

AP: CN, "After all, you rest the reliability of your reasoning in your assumption that God exists. You can't then turn around and justify that assumption by the very reasoning you assume it in order to ground."

Presumably you've listened to the Greg Bahnsen (Christian) vs. Gordon Stein (atheist) debate. Stein asked the same question. Bahnsen said that it's no inconsistent to both presuppose God's existence as well as to believe (and argue) that God's existence is evidenced in the world. I totally agree. That's not contradictory at all. Otherwise, it would be illegitimate to argue for the laws of logic using logic. Of course it's legitimate to argue for the laws of logic, and to use them to argue for them.

AP: Why? What does that have to do with what's being discussed?"

Keener's book is just one line of evidence that supernatural event happen. Or if you want a non-Christian evidences for the supernatural or something like the supernatural, listen to the podcasts at http://skeptiko.com/.

AP:  For those who haven't listened to it, Here's the famous Bahnsen vs. Stein debate:
https://youtu.be/anGAazNCfdY

AP:  I'm done for tonight. Thanks for the discussion MRJ and CN. Good night. :)


CN:  James: I haven't, it's just an obvious flaw in your response.

There is no inconsistency in both assuming God's existence and concluding that the evidence points to his existence, but you still can't say that your reason for accepting his existence is the evidence when you ground your inferential methodology on the assumption that he exists.

Why do you make the assumption that he exists in the first place?

CN: Also, it *is* illegitimate to argue for a logic from within the system defined by that logic.

JP:  Whoa. This sub-thread became busy. :)

James  wrote: «The very reason Plato denied knowledge was possible in this contingent world was because its changing. For example, Apples can turn into humans, humans into sharks by the process of digestion. A is never A because there never is an unchanging "A". Only in the unchanging realm of forms did Plato think knowledge was possible.»

I'm guessing you're referring to Heraclitus. Yet, that's still not the same as the law of self-identity. Even process-philosophers don't just toss out identity.

James  wrote: «Fortunately, non-Christians borrow enough from the Christian worldview that much of secular science is useful.»

As mentioned, science is methodological, doesn't matter what you believe, your medical doctor is still your best bet if your kids fall ill. But, what exactly is borrowed here...?

James  wrote: «I anchor my knowledge to the ontology of God's existence and the epistemology of God's revelation.»

Really? Why? Should we all just make things up as we go along?

James  wrote: «Whereas various non-Christians who lean toward rationalism, when pushed can't given rational arguments to ground their rationalism. The non-Christians who lean toward empiricism can't rationally or empirically ground their empiricism.»

Reasoning and evidence are two of a pair; thinking otherwise is just a false dichotomy. I don't think a whole of people aren't eclectic.

But what "ground" would you want? Logic is internally consistent, that's all. Existence (expressed as "truth" linguistically) is already the ground. As mentioned, if "the ground" of existence is something else, then "it" does not exist.

James  wrote: «No, you're asserting and begging the question of both. Just because it appears to you, or you think you are learning or that there are regularities in the world doesn't mean you are or there is. Given, Christianity, I agree both are true. But given atheism, I'd like to know how such is possible ontologically and epistemologically.»

No, not begging the question at all, just following the evidence. It's not related to a/theism either. If there were no regularities, then these posts wouldn't have come about. And strict determinism isn't required either, rather we've found certain phenomena comes through as non-deterministic (and can be modeled and understood as such). I have no particular reason to think otherwise.

James  wrote: «I was challenging non-theistic (specifically non-Christian) epistemologies which begin with man as the source and measure (homo mensura). I begin with God (deus mensura), God as the measure of all things. Mine is a revelational epistemology. I was looking for how non-theists can claim to have any knowledge at all. I haven't see any good arguments.»

You keep mentioning this "God" character. :) You also appear to reject anything non-Christian. How odd. Protagoras aside, don't confuse the measurer (us) and the measured (whatever). Simply supposing Christianity is not epistemology.

Going back to the list you posted on May 15th, I still don't see much of consequence to a/theism. You can presuppose anything you like, even solipsism if you prefer, but that doesn't make it so.

Let me ask: How do you determine /what/ something is (quiddity)?

https://www.facebook.com/notes/XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Atheist Discussion with "RS"

The following discussion occurred on Facebook in May 2017. My first name is James. So, it's usually me who is being to referred when the name "James" is used. My comments are those by "*AP*" [for Annoyed Pinoy]. The discussion has been slightly edited and it's not always chronological (since Facebook threads can be commented on at any time). I've only included those portions where I interacted with others, or others interacted with me. Initials are used to maintain anonymity. The initials RS is common to two people. They are distinguished as "RS" and "RS2".

The Original Post on Facebook that began the discussion was the following by CF.

CF: Christianity: the religion of suspiciously "round" numbers. 500 people witnessed Christ's zombie. 5000 people were fed. "Many" people were resurrected the day Jesus rose from the dead. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. They were lost in the desert (between towns a 6-day walk apart) for 40 years. Is it only me or are these numbers all rather suspiciously "round"? It's clear to a rational brain that these sloppy figures were made up by fiction writers.

*AP*:  It was accepted and understood literary practice to round numbers up or down without explicitly saying so. There's no problem there. When it comes to the feeding of the 5,000, both Matthew and Luke explicitly say it's was an approximation (Matt. 14:21; Luke 9:14). Matthew explicitly points out that the 5,000 were men not counting women and children.

AC:  It's also accepted practice today. If someone asks me for the capacity of the stadium of our local football team and I say, "27,000", am I wrong? It's actually meant to be 27,244, but people would twig that my number is approximate without me having to say so.

RS:  27,000 is dramatically closer to 27,244 than 40 years is to 6 days.

*AP*: to RS - That's because Carlos is Biblically ignorant. They weren't lost for 40 years. The 40 years were a punishment because they refused to enter the Promise Land out of fear. Read Numbers chapter 13 and 14.

AC: to RS - Er, yes. Why do you point that out?

*AP*:  to AC - Carlos thinks that the Israelites were lost for 40 years. They weren't. God commanded them to enter the Promised Land, but when the scouts returned, most of them said that the indigenous peoples were too big and powerful for them to defeat. So, God punished them by having them stay in the desert for 40 years.

RS:  I don't read bibles even though I own one. I don't think there's any strong supporting evidence of a mass migration of people in that area at that time.

Yes, I'm familiar with a popular film which talks about it and that film is also rejected by at least one christian group and thus some christians.

RS:  I point it out because guessing the capacity of a stadium is of little importance nowadays but back then (I would think) that approximating travel distance by time would by highly important.

AC: to RS -  I point it out because guessing the capacity of a stadium is of little importance nowadays but back then (I would think) that approximating travel distance by time would by highly important.

AC - Apologies, I think I might be mixing up which posts you are referring to. Which travel distance are you saying is a problem?

RS:  Not necessarily a problem. I'm basically just stating what Carlos did in his OP but using other words. He uses the word 'lost' instead of 'wandering' but I think there's good support for the lost position (at least at some point during those 40 years).

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

*AP*: We use approximations all the time. If I drove 94.0438 miles to visit friends, I wouldn't be lying if I said I drove 100 miles to see them.

RS: Again, that doesn't compare with a 40 years of wondering versus a roughly 6 day walk.

*AP*: to RS - Just to make it clear, according to the Bible the Israelites weren't lost for 40 years in the desert. They were commanded by God to enter the Promised Land immediately, but because they were cowardly God punished them by condemning them to stay in the desert for 40 years till a new generation would arise to enter the Land. Read Numbers chapter 13 and 14.

RS: Again, to make it clear, I don't read bibles even though I own at least one. To my knowledge, there's no strong supporting evidence that suggests such an event even took place in that area at that time.

*AP*: The historicity of the account doesn't matter. Even assuming the it didn't happen, the point still stands that Carlos F [CF]. and your internal critique fails because they weren't lost or wandering in the desert for 40 years as if they didn't know how to get to the Promised Land or that it took them 40 years to arrive at a destination that should have only taken a week.

RS:  What kept them from getting there? Can you provide the verse?

TW:  They had to fight the sand people along the way.

YYYYYYYYYYYYY

*AP*: Just to make it clear, according to the Bible the Israelites weren't lost for 40 years in the desert. They were commanded by God to enter the Promised Land immediately, but because they were cowardly God punished them by condemning them to stay in the desert for 40 years till a new generation would arise to enter the Land. Read Numbers chapter 13 and 14.

RS: Again, to make it clear, I don't read bibles even though I own at least one. To my knowledge, there's no strong supporting evidence that suggests such an event even took place in that area at that time.

RB: I see not supporting evidence for Yeti but I never look.

*AP*:  It's your prerogative to remain ignorant. Just as it's other people's prerogative to dismiss ignorant and ill-informed objections.

RS:  Do you mean Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman?

RS: What am I ignorant about?

*AP*: Ignorant about the Bible. That's why you claimed that the Israelites should have arrived in the Promised Land in 6 days not 40 years.

RS: Just because I do not currently have an interest in reading the bible doesn't make me ignorant.

You don't know me nor my past so it's actually ignorant of you to make such claims about me.

*AP*: Look up the word ignorance. It's not necessarily a degrogatory term. It says nothing about your attitude about a topic (whether positive or negative). It merely means you are not informed on a topic. We're all ignorant about a lot of things.

By the dictionary definition, you are ignorant about the Bible. Just as I'm ignorant about hyper-dimensional mathematics. There's no necessary shame in ignorance. Unless it's a topic that one ought to know about. And when it comes to the Bible, most everyone says a truly educated person would know the contents of the Bible. Even many atheists would say that.


RS:  Thanks for assuming that I was ignorant about the term 'ignorant' which seems to suggest that you were making that assumption in ignorance.

Please inform me of how you concluded that I'm ignorant about bibles.

*AP*: You demonstrated your ignorance of the Bible by making assumptions about the Bible that weren't true. I never said you were ignorant about the meaning of the term "ignorance". What I wrote is consistent with me merely reminding you of the definition and demonstrating why you fulfill the conditions of ignorance regarding the Bible. You ASSUMED I was assuming you don't know the meaning of the term.

 Also, it's possible to know the meaning of a term and not understand the wider implications of the term or its application.

 It's also possible to misunderstand the term or misapply it as well.


RS:  Since you provided the definition AND instructed me to look up the definition, then you displayed that you were making that assumption.

Additionally, your claim is too broad. I would have been more accepting that I might be ignorant of this particular story or account in the bibles, but to say that I'm ignorant about its entirety is a big leap that I don't think you can support.

So now you don't think I "understand the wider implications of the term or its application" or that I "misunderstand the term or misapply[ing] it"?

LOL, you're backpedaling.

Also, would you politely stop tagging me. It's basically just you and I in this conversation. At this point, I know your comments are directed at me.

*AP*:  1. I'm not back pedaling at all. I intentionally phrased my statements in such a way that it would apply to you whether you did or didn't understand the definition of ignorance. The natural assumption of course would be that you know it since there's no indication that English is your second language.

2. My statement is also consistent with sarcasm and ridicule. I leave it up to you to decide whether I was giving you a jab or not. Especially when i said, you should look up the dictionary definition of ignorance.

3. Not understanding a basic Bible story does qualify as Biblical ignorance. Even Sunday school children know that story.

4. I've stopped tagging you.


RS:  1. If the assumption is that I already know the term & it's meaning & it's correct application, then there's no need to tell me to go look it up or provide what you mean by the term. Thus, you were showing that you assumed that I was ignorant about the term 'ignorant'.

2. There's no need for that kind of rhetoric in honest intellectual discussions about controversial, personal, & emotional issues/topics.

3. Yes, and the story in some Sunday schools is that they were wandering the desert. Heck, in some bibles studies the story is understood as wandering lost in the desert. Again, I'd like to see a biblical verse which supports your position. A link is completely acceptable in my book (pun intended).

4. Thank you. It just fills up my notifications list unnecessarily.

 Seems like a fairly common understanding of the text considering Wiki portrays a similar understanding.

"their wanderings in the wilderness up to the borders of Canaan."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus

 According to Exodus 12:37–38, the Israelites numbered "about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children", plus many non-Israelites and livestock. Numbers 1:46 gives a more precise total of 603,550 men aged 20 and up. It is difficult to reconcile the idea of 600,000 Israelite fighting men with the information that the Israelites were afraid of the Philistines and Egyptians.[19] The 600,000, plus wives, children, the elderly, and the "mixed multitude" of non-Israelites would have numbered some 2 million people.[20] Marching ten abreast, and without accounting for livestock, they would have formed a line 150 miles long.[21] The entire Egyptian population in 1250 BCE is estimated to have been around 3 to 3.5 million,[22][20] and no evidence has been found that Egypt ever suffered the demographic and economic catastrophe such a loss of population would represent, nor that the Sinai desert ever hosted (or could have hosted) these millions of people and their herds.[23] Some have rationalised the numbers into smaller figures, for example reading the Hebrew as "600 families" rather than 600,000 men, but all such solutions have their own set of problems.[24][Notes 2]

From the same Wiki page.

*AP*:  1. I didn't assume you did or didn't know the definition of ignorance. Nowhere did i state explicitly that I positively believe you don't know the definition. Also, this #1 of yours doesn't take into account my possible use of sarcasm and ridicule. If you didn't get the hint yet, yes, I *was* using sarcasm and ridicule because, while I wasn't sure either way whether you knew the definition, I suspected that in all likelihood you did.

2. Yes, sometimes I take on the attitudes I often find in hostile skeptics and atheists. I should be more patient with non-Christians like yourself.

3a. I'm not aware of sunday school material saying that the Israelites were lost. I'd like to see your documentation. 3b. When Christians talk about the Israelites "wandering" (not wondering) in the desert it's literal. They were wandering because God kept them moving both *before* and *after* the punishment of 40 years. According to the story (irrespective of whether it's true or not), a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night led them through the desert. Whenever either of them moved they moved with it.

 BTW, I too (in times past) have said that the Israelites wandered through the desert. That doesn't mean I believed they were lost. That's a non-sequitur.

 Presumably you know that the word "wandering" has nothing to do with whether the person or persons wandering know or don't know where they are at.

 Regarding the numbers that left Egypt during the Exodus, even conservative scholars have argued (in various ways without deny Biblical inerrancy and inspiration) why 2 million may not be the amount that left. I believe in inerrancy, but I don't think the truth of Christianity depends on or hinges on the truth of inerrancy.

Also, the Israelites would have been fighting enemies while their families were relatively near which is much more difficult both logistically and emotionally. How many times in movies are the good guys in a tough spot because they had to not only fight the enemy with one metaphorical hand, but also protect loved ones using the other metaphorical hand. Whereas their enemies would have their families back at home. Giving them an advantage. Wandering caravans are more susceptible to attack than cities. Last year I read The Walking Drum and that story points that out really well. This can account for their fear and trepidation in moving forward boldly and courageously into the Promised Land in faith.

 BTW, James K. Hoffmeier is a respected archaeologist who defends a real Exodus in his books and lectures. Some lectures are on YouTube.

Apparently, the majority of Egyptologists believe in the historicity of the Exodus.
https://faithfulphilosophy.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/vast-majority-of-egyptologists-believe-the-exodus-happened/

BTW, I responded to your posts. You may not know that because I stopped tagging you as you requested. So, I tagged you in this post. I'm going to sleep now. thanks for the chat.


RS2:  James, I am wondering if you have a source outside of "faithfulphilosophy" that supports your claim that respected archaeologists defend a real Exodus.

I know several archaeologists, and have also searched this topic quite a bit, and I haven't seen any normal academia support this claim. The only ones who do support it tend to do so because their faith leads them to the conclusion prior to the evidence, such as the Wheaton College and Divinity professor you mentioned, James Hoffmeier. His work is largely dismissed in standard academia, but he is quite popular among those who are predisposed to believe his claims. That doesn't make him "a respected archaeologist" among other archaeologists, only among those who don't know anything about archaeology and get impressed when he knows some terminology.

*AP*: I said "apparently" in the sense of seemingly or having the appearance. I didn't say it as a definite fact. The article itself said that the survey was an *informal* survey, not a scientifically rigorous survey. Also, the average archaeologist is not necessarily also an Egyptologist. So some archaeologists can have opinions on issues they don't have an expertise on. Furthermore, just as theistic archaeologists have their presuppositions and biases, so secular/atheistic archaeologists have their biases and presuppositions. Also, I said Egyptologists "believe" not "defend". While fewer Egyptologists may defend the Exodus, there are more that believe it but don't attempt to defend it historically. That's because there are at least two senses of "history". One can believe something historically happened without attempting to defend the historicity of an event. As I understand it the former has to do with what actually happened even if no one now knows or can support it by evidence, the latter meaning has to do with "doing" history. Meaning, based on the surviving and fragmentary evidence, what can we infer probably happened. The fact is that there are many things that happen historically that leave no evidence. For example, it's logically possible that Abraham Lincoln did 100 jumping jacks on his 10th birthday. But there's no positive evidence for it. And even if a historical event does leave evidence, sometimes those evidences get lost or are destroyed via the passage of time on account of human activity and natural processes due to age (e.g. erosion, deterioration, decay etc.). Sometimes there is no positive evidence for a historical proposition, while other times there's positive evidence against a historical proposition. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. So, just because there might be a paucity of evidence for the the Exodus doesn't necessarily mean it didn't happen. Another question is whether there is positive counterevidence that the Exodus didn't or couldn't have happened. I'm not aware of anything that logically precludes the possibility of the Exodus actually having happened.

RS: Wow, this as escalated quickly.

*AP*:  I don't see any escalating on either my part or Rob's.

RS: What I meant was the amount quantity since the last time I posted.

*AP*: ah..

RS:  1. If the assumption is that I already know the term & it's meaning & it's correct application, then there's no need to tell me to go look it up or provide what you mean by the term. Thus, you were showing that you assumed that I was ignorant about the term 'ignorant'.

//"I didn't assume you did or didn't know the definition of ignorance. Nowhere did i state explicitly that I positively believe you don't know the definition."//

That's why I said your instructing me to "look it up" and also provide a definition is what implies that you were assuming that I didn't know what 'ignorance' was. You don't have to be explicit because that's the entire point of implying it! You've got no where to back track to. You were talking down to me by giving me a comment & providing a definition for 'ignorance' implying that I was ignorant about ignorance. You can't have you cake & eat it too.

2. I'm an atheist. I didn't hang onto the material that I used to use in sunday school & bible studies. Why would I? More importantly, I haven't seen you provide a biblical reference for your position.

3. It's not solely the term wandering (thank you for the correction) that implies or suggest that they were "lost".

Why accept bible inerrancy?

*AP*: Regarding your latest #1, I answered that already. I don't even have to appeal to the fact that I was using sarcasm and ridicule. But since I did, that doubly answers your charge.

Regarding your latest #2, how convenient. Maybe you can show us using other Bible study materials that they taught the Israelites were lost. Regarding a Biblical reference I already told you in another thread in this post to read Numbers chapters 13 and 14. It's not my duty to spoon feed people information. Especially when context is important. Therefore, pointing to one or two verses isn't sufficient. One actually needs to read the entire passage to understand what's going on. Insisting on one verse on this issue is analogous to asking someone to prove or explain the General Theory of Relativity in one sentence. It can't be done.

Regarding your latest #3, I obviously agree. So, then what other things suggest it to you?

Regarding your question on inerrancy, I accept it as a matter of faith. I could be wrong on it, but like I said, the truth of Christianity doesn't hang on it. Christianity could still be true even if Biblical inerrancy is false. And EVEN IF, inerrancy is false, it's still possible that the Bible is generally reliable. It's a non-sequitur for someone to conclude that if the Bible contains errors that therefore it's entirely worthless or unreliable.

Also, inerrancy doesn't equate with inspiration. Something could be inspired and not inerrant. Conversely, something could be inerrant, yet not inspired (e.g. a book teaching basic mathematics like addition and subtraction).


RS:  1. How were you using sarcasm & ridicule in your comment which gave me a comment to "look it up" & you gave me your own working definition? How is that being sarcastic? How is that ridiculing? I think that comment was genuine & sincere in making the assumption that I was ignorant about the term 'ignorant'. If you want to beat around the bush & use "sarcasm & ridicule" as a scapegoat, then that's fine & it's on you. But, I'm under the impression that this is a group for armchair intellectuals to share views & have them scrutinized & criticized for everyone's betterment. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there's isn't a place & time for humor. However, complete strangers are not going to pick up on those subtleties.

2. Me - "I'm an atheist. I didn't hang onto material that I used to use in Sunday school & bible studies."
Your response - "how convenient. Maybe you can show us using other bible study materials...."

What do you not understand about my comment? What other materials are you talking about?

"I already told you in another thread in this post to read Numbers Ch. 13 & 14."

I haven't seen that post yet, hence, my asking here as well. How about you provide the specific verses that you're talking about instead of me doing your homework for you? Your response is equivalent to asking one of my professors a direct question & responding with "read the textbook."

"It's not my duty to spoon feed people."

Actually, it is. It's all of our duty to due so. That's what teaching is & support & defending a position. What specific verses are you referring to in Numbers Ch 13 & 14? You're welcome to point out main ones and narrow it down (Ex: Numbers 64-74; Yes, I know it doesn't go that high).

RS:  Correct me, if I'm wrong, but it seems that your position of biblical inerrancy is something that you accept but if shown wrong, then it's no big deal. It wouldn't jeopardize your overall faith. Is that accurate?

I don't accept biblical inerrancy because I might view that bible as unreliable. I think there are many things within the pages which directly oppose strong scientific consensus. Science supersedes so-called "holy text." However, even worse I don't accept the presupposition about the bibles.

*AP*: Regarding your #1, I've already answered that. If you don't accept my answer, that's up to you. I think it's perfectly clear, coherent and consistent. I'll let other readers of the thread decide that. As well as whether I would actually think it's more probable that you were ignorant of the definition of ignorance. Clearly, you have a grasp of English that's strong enough that it would be foolish of me to positively assume you don't know the meaning of that basic term. The fact is I didn't assume that, though in my mind I was open to that possibility since the average people have unexpected lacunae in their knowledge.

"However, complete strangers are not going to pick up on those subtleties." <===== You got me there. That's true. Especially in this medium.

"What do you not understand about my comment? What other materials are you talking about?"

Wasn't it your claim that it's common for Sunday School material to claim that the Israelites were lost in the desert for the 40? If so, then it would make sense that other Sunday School materials would say that too. Not the the brand of materials you're alluding to (of which we have no evidence). For all I know, you're making that all up, or are mis-remembering what the materials you used to have.

"Your response is equivalent to asking one of my professors a direct question & responding with "read the textbook."

Like 2 chapters is equivalent to a thick textbook. It's more likely that you're being intellectually lazy. Why should I enable and encourage your intellectual vice. Especially since you were willing to ridicule and criticize the Bible on an issue you didn't know anything about. And you may still not know about it because you still may not have read the chapters.

"Actually, it is. It's all of our duty to due so. That's what teaching is & support & defending a position. "

I'm not your teacher. I defended my position by explaining why your and Carlos' objection is based on Biblical ignorance. An explanation that anyone who has studied the Bible would know. It's as basic a Bible story as Moses killing an Egyptian. In dialogue and debate it's not uncommon to cite a passage without quoting it in full. Especially if (and I said this before), one or two sentences isn't enough to get the context.

"Correct if I'm wrong, but it seems that your position of biblical inerrancy is something that you accept but if shown wrong, then it's no big deal. It wouldn't jeopardize your overall faith. Is that accurate?"

That's correct. If you like, you can listen to the podcast (or read the transcript) where William Lane Craig talks about inerrancy here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-is-inerrancy

I agree with some of what he says there.

" I think there are many things within the pages which directly oppose strong scientific consensus. Science supersedes so-called "holy text."

If you like, you can name the #1 most egregious contradiction/error/discrepancy in the Bible and we can talk about it later. I have a gathering to attend today and I need to take a shower and leave. I need to be there in 1 hour. Thanks for the chat.


RS:  I'm fine with setting #1 aside for the other readers. We have more pressing things to get to anyway.

// "Wasn't it your claim that it's common for Sunday School material to claim that the Israelites were lost in the desert for the 40?" //

I don't remember making that claim. I think I said that it is a common understanding & posted the Wiki link article that even states the same understanding. It's my experience that I've been in bible school & bible studies that have pass around the idea or some have told the story in that manner. Not all, not most, not a majority, but just a few times that I'm aware of. Additionally, what I'm referring to is conversation not necessarily materials though I'm feel confident in my view because I probably took notes of it in the way they were portraying it.

// "Like 2 chapters is equivalent to a thick textbook. It's more likely that you're being intellectually lazy. Why should I enable and encourage your intellectual vice. Especially since you were willing to ridicule and criticize the Bible on an issue you didn't know anything about. And you may still not know about it because you still may not have read the chapters." //

Again, you don't know about the scope of my ignorance.

// "Just to make it clear, according to the Bible the Israelites weren't lost for 40 years in the desert." //

I don't think it would be difficult for you to find the main versus even with context to support this position of yours. Why won't you support & defend your position?

// "In dialogue and debate it's not uncommon to cite a passage without quoting it in full. Especially if (and I said this before), one or two sentences isn't enough to get the context." //

So, provide the full context. Your position is that the full context for this minor issue requires the entirety of 2 chapters? That's laughable.

RS:  I'll withhold diving into biblical inerrancy considering, for me, it gives too much legitimacy to the work right off the bat.

Say we discuss that topic, would you also be willing to discuss the inerrancy of the Qur'an or other so-called "holy text" from a non-christian, secular, or even from the Muslim viewpoint?

Again, I'm fine with dropping this topic for the time being as well. We'd have to discuss something prior to it before we can determine if it's even worthy of discussing.

*AP*: "I think I said that it is a common understanding & posted the Wiki link article that even states the same understanding. "

I don't recall you quoting anything in the Wiki article that says that the Israelites were lost. Only that they were wandering. But since wandering doesn't necessitate being lost, then nothing you quoted said they were lost or that for some dumb reason they couldn't find their way to the Promised Land even though it was only approximately on a weeks journey to get there. Or that somehow the fact that it took them so long to arrive at the Promised Land that that is evidence the whole story is made up.

" It's my experience that I've been in bible school & bible studies that have pass around the idea or some have told the story in that manner. Not all, not most, not a majority, but just a few times that I'm aware of. "

What "manner" is that specifically? That they were lost? Maybe I just completely don't understand your claim or objection or accusation. You mentioned that there was a discrepancy between 6 days and 40 years. You made that statement in the context of rounding or approximations. So, maybe you were thinking that the author(s) of the Pentateuch were exaggerating or rounding way too high? Or was your objection that the story was implausible because it took them 40 years to accomplish what should have taken only a week? I get the impression that you're not even sure you know what your objection was. That it was enough to throw together some numbers in comparison to each other and claim some vague discrepancy. If I'm wrong, then please tell me specifically what your original objection was and whether you take it back or modify it for clarification.

"Additionally, what I'm referring to is conversation not necessarily materials though I'm feel confident in my view because I probably took notes of it in the way they were portraying it."

Well, that's the problem of getting one's information second and third hand anecdotally instead of going to the primary sources. Something which I've been encouraging you to do by reading Numbers chapter 13 & 14. It's not like you don't have access to the internet. You are communicating to me via internet, and there are literally dozens and dozens of websites that host copies of the Bible in dozens and dozens of translations into various languages. People are notoriously ignorant of the Bible (and of facts in general). Why would people trust other people's claims about the Bible if they don't have some expertise on it? I'd avoid that to spare me some embarrassment.

I'm reminded of Kathleen Parker who interpreted Ted Cruz's admonition for the body of Christ to rise up and support him as meaning Jesus should rise from the dead and support Cruz. When, anyone who knows the Bible knows that the phrase "body of Christ" refers to the church. Also that the Bible claims that Jesus *already* rose from the dead (and so doesn't need to because He's no longer buried in a tomb). Yet, Kathleen claimed that she knows many other people who were offended by that comment. <g> Here's one of many YouTube links that posted that clip:
https://youtu.be/0Iufqv9RPkY

"Again, you don't know about the scope of my ignorance."

I'm know enough to know that regarding this pericope you are ignorant. Otherwise you wouldn't have made such a basic mistake. And like I said before, there's nothing necessarily wrong about being ignorant. The problem is that you're refusing to own up to it on this passage and admit ignorance. Rather you're still trying to defend yourself. This is rampant among both Christians and non-Christians. The problem sometimes is that people (including atheists) living in their own bubbles, conclaves and echo chambers. They repeat each others slogans not knowing what they're talking about and assuming others do.

"So, provide the full context. Your position is that the full context for this minor issue requires the entirety of 2 chapters? That's laughable."

What's laughable is that after all this time complaining that I don't spoon feed you, you could have read the two chapters a dozen times already. If you have, then you should know what I'm talking about, and either say you now know what I mean and agree or disagree.

"Say we discuss that topic, would you also be willing to discuss the inerrancy of the Qur'an or other so-called "holy text" from a non-christian, secular, or even from the Muslim viewpoint?"

Sure. But I know less about the Qur'an than the Bible. And I'm willing to admit that up front. I'm not going to pretend to know more than I actually do (and so end up embarrassing myself in the long run). Unlike other people who ignorantly talk about the Bible. Some who are so "gung ho" at rejecting and opposing the Bible and alleging contradictions/errors/discrepancies that they don't bother to check out whether the criticism actually works.

P.S.
I may not be able to continue this conversation till Monday (depending on how busy I am this weekend). Regardless, I hope you have a good and relaxing weekend. Ciao.


RS:  This is getting way too long.

1. Do you acknowledge that I never made the claim that you said I did?

// "Wasn't it your claim that it's common for Sunday School material to claim that the Israelites were lost in the desert for the 40?" //

My position is about the wandering not the lost and I challenge you to quote me otherwise. If I did say that they were lost, then I'll acknowledge my mistake and retract it. However, I am defending Carlos in that "wandering the wilderness" for 40 years does imply that they were probably lost during that time. You're in a massive group so why wouldn't you settle down into an area near water for those 40 years and make the best of it instead of wandering around?

I'm keeping this short and sticking to a topic instead of 2-4+.

*AP*: In another thread in this post you wrote:

" 27,000 is dramatically closer to 27,244 than 40 years is to 6 days."

Explain to me what you mean by this statement? You seemed to be agreeing with Carlos when he wrote in the OP (original post): "........They were lost in the desert (between towns a 6-day walk apart) for 40 years......"

What do you agree with Carlos about? If you weren't agreeing with Carlos that they were "lost" (he used the exact word "lost"), then what were you agreeing with? I think it's fair for me to infer you agreed with Carlos' statement that they were lost.

In your last post you seem to be saying you didn't saying anything about being lost. Yet, at the same time you said you're defending Carlos' statement that they were probably lost. You seem to be saying both things.


RS: Again, you don't have to tag me anymore. At this point, I have a good idea that you're probably directing your comments at me.

*AP*: On the one hand you seem to be saying no. Yet, on the other hand you seem to be saying yes.

 please keep on tagging me if you can. I'll be less likely to miss a response from you to me.


RS:  I never said that they were lost. However, I'm willing to attempt to defend Carlo's position. Many things in the bibles are not to be take literally, right?

"Wandering in the wilderness" for 40 years, to me, implies being lost for at least some part of that.

However, we don't know considering there's no archaeological evidence that they were even there!

I don't think I've ever tagged you but since you are requesting it, then I can do so.

 Put yourself in that environment. With that amount of people, I would want to find a place to settle near water as to save everyone energy wandering around. Less complaining, less dangerous, regular supply of food & water, shelter, etc. Putting roots down & creating a town seems much more logical than being nomatic.

*AP*:  Okay, i think i understand your position now. Now is your objection and critique an internal or external critique? Meaning, you claiming that even if one took on the Biblical narrative as if it were true, that it would still not make sense and be implausible (internal critique)? Or are you claiming that that given some other worldview and standards, the Biblical narrative is implausible and problematic (external critique)?

What does 6 days and 40 years have to do with your critique(s)?

Since it doesn't seem you're willing to read the two chapters, I'll just tell you that the essence of my point is in Num. 14:20-35. According to the Biblical narrative Israel's wandering in the wilderness for 40 years is God's punishment for not obeying God's command to immediately enter Canaan (out of fear of it's current inhabitants). Whatever your current (and seemingly changing) objection (singular) or objections (plural) are, Carlos' objections seem to either be confused, or ignorant or possibly intentionally strawmanning for the sake of making the Biblical claims seem ridiculous/ludicrous/nonsensical.

 "Put yourself in that environment. With that amount of people, I would want to find a place to settle near water as to save everyone energy wandering around. Less complaining, less dangerous, regular supply of food & water, shelter, etc. Putting roots down & creating a town seems much more logical than being nomatic."

This begs the question whether their wanderings were merely natural or whether there was a supernatural element to their sojourning from place to place. Remember that the narrative claims miraculous supplies of water and food. Also, if there are dangerous tribes and nomads there as well, then they would obviously want to move away from them or engage them militarily. Also, God was guiding them from place to place, if they were finally trying to be semi-obedient, then they would have gone to where the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night directed them. For the sake of provision, protection and to avoid further divine punishment.


RS:  I'm unsure if you're talking about the bibles as a whole or just the exodus. My personal critique of the bibles as a whole is honestly an external critique using logic.

Carlo's critique and the one that I'm trying to defend in the most favorable way would be an internal critique and that it seems to be unlikely & at times not make sense but not logically impossible, though, I would grant implausible.

One of my main concerns with the writings is just how vague & broad they are. I would think a "word of god" or "inspired word of god" wouldn't allow for skepticism or at least not this overwhelming amounts of skepticism. Even christians can't agree which is how denominations form.

Well, it supposedly takes about 6 days to travel one of the suspected routes. I think being stuck wandering the wilderness for 40 years is a really stupid punishment. Talk about survival of the fittest and thinning the herd. Seems like a petty & stupid punishment for a god to place on a group of people. Additionally, they were wandering for 40 years in an area which supposedly took 6 days to travel. I don't know about you but that seems to imply some problems along the way like natural disasters, sicknesses, death, searching for food & water, and yes, even probably getting lost for a few days, weeks, months, years, or even decades! That's a one hell of a detour. Again, setting roots down or staking a claim of land seems much more reasonable given their circumstances than just wandering around.

RS:  What versus did all of this come from?

"This begs the question whether their wanderings were merely natural or whether there was a supernatural element to their sojourning from place to place. Remember that the narrative claims miraculous supplies of water and food. Also, if there are dangerous tribes and nomads there as well, then they would obviously want to move away from them or engage them militarily. Also, God was guiding them from place to place, if they were finally trying to be semi-obedient, then they would have gone to where the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night directed them. For the sake of provision, protection and to avoid further divine punishment."

*AP*: "What versus did all of this come from?"

The whole Exodus and wandering story. Read the books of Exodus.....Numbers, and Deuteronomy. My statements in that paragraph are distillations of those books.

" I'm unsure if you're talking about the bibles as a whole or just the exodus."

I was talking about the Exodus narrative because that's the context of our conversation. If you want to discuss the Bible in general I'm willing to do that too. Though, I also don't want to invest too much time in conversation. We all live busy lives. But I'll do what I can if you're seriously interested.

"One of my main concerns with the writings is just how vague & broad they are. I would think a "word of god" or "inspired word of god" wouldn't allow for skepticism or at least not this overwhelming amounts of skepticism."

I disagree. Especially as a Calvinist. I don't hold the Arminian assumption that God is doing his very best to reveal Himself to mankind to the highest degree. God regulates the evidence for Himself for various reasons. Some of which I've mentioned and argued for in my two blogposts here:

http://gospelcrumbs.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-hiddenness-of-god.html

http://gospelcrumbs.blogspot.com/2013/07/detecting-and-finding-god.html

The same thing for the various denominations. I think various denominations are sufficiently Biblical holding to the essentials of the Christian religion. While others don't. So for example, Evangelicals all agree on the doctrine of the Trinity, justification through the instrument of faith alone (sola fide), on the basis of Christ's finished work alone (solo Christo/solus Christus), all by the Grace of God alone (sola gratia). Yet, Evangelicals can disagree on the issue of the mode and subjects of baptismal, of the Lord's supper, on predestination, on the charismatic gifts etc. As the apostle Paul said, "for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized" (1 Cor. 11:19). Factions and disputes among purported believers reveal who have the more correct doctrines. The book of Ephesians says that the church will develop in doctrinal understanding throughout the church age till Christ's return.

"11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,"- Eph. 4:11-15

Regarding the 40 years of wandering, much of what you said was speculation (which is in keeping with an external critique). Given an internal critique, the Biblical story is coherent. You may say it's petty for God to punish the Israelites this way, but God is a God of history and providence. God has certain purposes for treating the Israelites that way. To teach various lessons to them and those who would eventually hear and read about their story. To tell us something about God's character and God's expectations on His covenant people to believe, obey and act in faith and courage. Also, those who died during the 40 years weren't necessarily lost spiritually. Maybe some of them went to heaven. God's temporal punishments don't necessarily reflect God's eternal attitude toward people. In our world that's very Western in thinking we often think in very individualistic terms. But God doesn't just deal with us individually, but also as collectives. As well as in Covenants. God was dealing with Israel also as a group, and as His special covenant people. You normally expect greater things from those who are closest and most special to you. Also, to those whom you have most benefited, blessed and loved. For delivering them out of Egypt and performing many signs and wonders on their behalf, the Israelites should have learned from those lessons and have boldly entered the Promised Land believing God's promise to be with them and to grant them success and victory.


RS: Carlos's statement of being lost due to "wandering around the wilderness for 40 years" when it supposedly takes 6 days to travel the distance by foot is his "distillation of those books."

Off to bed for me. I could say more about your last comment but again I'd rather keep things brief. Like you said, we both have other things to do too.

RS: How or why do you accept, trust, or find the writings within the bibles to be true?

RS2:  James, sorry for the delay, but going way back up the thread, in regards to archaeologists, please try not to confuse the subject by suggesting that other archaeologists can't sniff out inaccuracies even if they don't socialize in a certain region. And if you want to "like" an actual Egyptologist then I suggest you search Kara Cooney. One can learn quite a bit from her, as she also studies the Bible quite extensively but in terms of understanding the region and the times, not for miracles and promises of everlasting life. But actual academic Egyptologists don't find evidence suggesting there was ever an actual Exodus.

*AP*: There have been and are various lines of converging evidence (empirical, rational, experiential, existential, supernatural, historical, scientific, personal, communal etc) and arguments (inductive, abductive, reductive, deductive, transcendental) that have had (and still have) a cumulative effect on my psychology that has lead me to my current belief in the truth of Christianity. I've included some of them in my various blogs and blogposts. See for example my posts at:

http://misclane.blogspot.com/


 RS:  I don't recognize supernatural or personal as lines of evidence as well as transcendental & reductive arguments. Although, I would include predictive arguments (basically induction though).

*AP*: "I don't recognize supernatural or personal as lines of evidence..."

Yes, not all evidences one can *personally* have for Christianity are publicly available. In the nature of the case some of them will be private. An analogy would be your belief you were your grandmother's favorite grandchild being based on her statement to that effect. For all you know, she could have been lying, but assuming your memory is generally reliable and that she generally told the truth, then you'd be justified in such a belief despite the fact that you couldn't rationally, historically or empircally prove it. And despite the fact that your siblings and cousins refuse to believe your testimony.

There's the distinctions between 1. what you believe, 2. the rational reasons why you believe it, 3. reasons you can provide to others for why you're justified in believing it [irrespective of whether they could/should/would be convincing to others], 4. reasons you can provide to other people for why they should also believe it, 5. the cause(s) or your believing it.

" I don't recognize....transcendental & reductive arguments."

I would use transcendental and reductive arguments, but I'm not smart enough to formulate them properly. So, I often will use abductive arguments. Better known as inferences to the best explanation. Or reasoning to that theory/hypothesis that provides the greatest explanatory scope and explanatory power etc. Of the worldviews I've encountered in my limited induction of the world, I haven't come across a worldview that does as good or better than Christianity at providing for the preconditions of intelligibility and human experience. So, I feel justified in continuing to be a Christian until someone can provide a better alternative.

"Although, I would include predictive arguments (basically induction though)."

The Bible teaches a beginning of the universe and it's interesting that there is scientific evidence that suggests (not "proves") that the universe had a beginning. This is despite the fact that for millennial philosophers had argued for an eternal universe. As Craig said (paraphrase), "For centuries the Judeao-Christian tradition held to the doctrine of creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) in the face of ancient Greek philosophy, modern enlightenment naturalism, and modern materialism and idealism. All of which said that the universe is eternal and uncreated. And in the face of that almost universal opposition, the Judeao-Christian tradition has held to the doctrine of creation out of nothing. "

Intelligent Design predicted years ago that so-called "Junk DNA" would later be discovered to have functionality. In the past few years that prediction has been basically fulfilled. Some claim (rightly or wrongly) that the Bible predicts that the Jewish people would not only survive, but be regathered into a sovereign state. If the prediction is true, then it was fulfilled in 1948.

Theism predicts that the universe would have some semblance of the appearance of fine-tuning. As a matter of fact there is now evidence (not "proof") of fine-tuning. Mind you, that fine-tuning and design doesn't necessitate the often subjective observation of "optimal" design or tuning. "The cosmological constant needs to be set to one part in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion" [at 18 minutes http://youtu.be/oyH2D4-tzfM]

The level of fine-tuning of only the two parameters of gravity and the cosmological constant is to a precision of one part in a hundred million, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion.

Then there's the issue of scientific discovery. There's fine tuning for 1 life, 2. conscious life (embodied conscious agents), 3. for scientific discovery, 4. discovery of discoverability. The discovery of discoverability is very interesting [see for example Robin Collins here:
https://youtu.be/tdjjHsABSpk

"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible"- Albert Einstein from "Physics and Reality"(1936), in Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Bonanza, 1954), p292.

“The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”- Freeman Dyson; Disturbing the Universe New York: Harper & Row, 1979, p. 250

"A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."- Sir Fred Hoyle

Paul Davies has moved from promoting atheism to conceding that "the laws [of physics] ... seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design." (Superforce, p. 243) He further testifies, "[There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all ... it seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe ... The impression of design is overwhelming." (The Cosmic Blueprint, p. 203):
Paul Davies
Superforce, p. 243
The Cosmic Blueprint, p. 203

See more quotes here:
http://www.arn.org/quotes/universe.html


RS:  1. Granny. - I don't have a belief nor do I accept that I'm the favorite grandchild to either of my grandmothers. Their both highly religious and I'm quite out now about being an atheist & adeist. However, your example is one of an inductive argument. Just as doctors use symptoms to make diagnoses so too are we in regards to determining the favorite grandchild of grandmothers. History doesn't prove anything. Induction isn't a method of proof.

In your opinion, what are the causes of beliefs?

2. Worldviews. - Secular Humanism, Methodological Naturalism, & Evolutionary Psychology explain an awful lot for me. I would argue that these have a monumental explanatory power over christianity.

3. Creation vs Eternal. - I'm unsure of how Craig & you are using the term 'universe' even in the context that you provided and I still maintain an eternal reality.

4. Predicitons. - I think you and I would disagree heavily on what a 'prediciton' is.

5. Fine-Tune Flop. - The fine-tuning position is based on equivocating the term/phrase with how physicist use it. The fine-tuning has been around for sometime now and was well refuted by Douglas Adam's puddle theory.

I think most of what I've already typed can go towards responses for the quotes you provided.

RS: Here are two valid deductive arguments put together in one full argument.

P1. If there was a time of nothingness, then there would not be something now.
S1. Philosophically - Something does not come from nothing (as far as we know).
P2. There is something now (E.g., You & I, Earth, the Sun & starts, etc.
C1. There was never a time of nothingness. (From P1 & P2)

P3. If there was never a time of nothingness, then something must be eternal/necessary.
C2. Something must be eternal/necessary. (From P3 & C1).

*AP*:  "Granny. - I don't have a belief nor do I accept that I'm the favorite grandchild to either of my grandmothers. "

I was speaking hypothetically of course. I obviously don't know anything that your grandmother ever said to you.

"In your opinion, what are the causes of beliefs?"

Well, there can be penultimate and antepenultimate causes for beliefs. But as a Calvinist, I believe the ultimate cause of my belief in the Christian God's existence is God Himself. Though, I'm not denying the reality of human deliberation and rationality. God works through those things too.

"2. Worldviews. - Secular Humanism, Methodological Naturalism, & Evolutionary Psychology explain an awful lot for me. I would argue that these have a monumental explanatory power over christianity."

If you're interested, you can read my comments about atheistic worldviews in the threads here:
[I've created a blog based on those comments HERE]

"3. Creation vs Eternal. - I'm unsure of how Craig & you are using the term 'universe' even in the context that you provided and I still maintain an eternal reality."

There is no one Christian position on the issues of A-theory vs. B-theory of time, or presentism vs. eternalism vs. possibilism. Or even whether God is timelessly eternal, temporally eternal or whether God is timelessly eternal SANS creation, but temporal SINCE creation. The point is that from the perspective within the universe, there does seem to be a "beginning" of the universe.

"5. Fine-Tune Flop. - The fine-tuning position is based on equivocating the term/phrase with how physicist use it. The fine-tuning has been around for sometime now and was well refuted by Douglas Adam's puddle theory. "

Here's one Christian response to the Puddle theory: http://answersforhope.org/destroying-the-puddle-analogy/

As I understand it, the case for fine-tuning is so strong that many scientists acknowledge it. Though, they attempt to explain it away by appealing to the world ensemble or multiverse theory. Here's my blogpost on the Multiverse:
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2014/09/problems-with-multiverse.html


Here are some representative quotes:

"…it is the height of irrationality to postulate an infinite number of universes never causally connected with each other, merely to avoid the hypothesis of theism. Given that simplicity makes for prior probability, and a theory is simpler the fewer entities it postulates, it is far simpler to postulate one God than an infinite number of universes, each differing from each other in accord with a regular formula, uncaused by anything else."
- Richard Swinburne on the multiverse theory in his book The Existence of God

“[The multiverse theory] can explain anything . . . If a theory allows anything to be possible, it explains nothing; a theory of anything is not the same as a theory of everything.”- John Polkinghorne (is an Anglican priest and philosopher, a theist. He was also at one time a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge.)

Polkinghorne's statement renders the multiverse theory trivial—or at least the infinite universes version of the theory.

Multiverse-theory is designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, and that is to defend atheism. It makes no predictions, it gives no insight, it provides no control, it produces no technology, it advances no mathematics, it is a science in name only, because it is really metaphysics.- physicist Rob Sheldon
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/bloggers/2746500/posts

To the hard-line physicist, the multiverse may not be entirely respectable, but it is at least preferable to invoking a Creator. Indeed, anthropically inclined physicists like Susskind and Weinberg are attracted to the multiverse precisely because it seems to dispense with God as the explanation of cosmic design.- Bernard Carr

But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature’s fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics. One might argue that the hope that a mathematically unique solution will emerge is as faith-based as ID." - From the New Scientist interview of Leonard Susskind

William Lane Craig has made an interesting point when comparing the competing hypotheses of cosmic design and a multiverse. There's independent evidence for the existence of God, but there is no independent evidence for the multiverse/world ensemble. Much less that it's also infinitely numbered and randomly ordered.
John Lennox rightly noted that though atheists may present the options of either God OR the multiverse, that's a false dilemma since God could have created the multiverse. Don Page is a Canadian Christian who is a colleague of Stephen Hawking and he believes in the multiverse. Craig has pointed out that theism is the best hope for the existence of the multiverse because an omnipotent God can create as many worlds as He wants.


"P1. If there was a time of nothingness, then there would not be something now.
S1. Philosophically - Something does not come from nothing (as far as we know).
P2. There is something now (E.g., You & I, Earth, the Sun & starts, etc.
C1. There was never a time of nothingness. (From P1 & P2)

P3. If there was never a time of nothingness, then something must be eternal/necessary.
C2. Something must be eternal/necessary. (From P3 & C1)."

From the Christian perspective, God is that eternal necessary being. Christianity also denies there ever was a state of pure nothingness, because God has always necessarily existed. You wrote, "Philosophically - Something does not come from nothing (as far as we know)." But given atheism, you can't rate, determine or predict the probabilities or possibilities of whether uncaused events take place. There's nothing in basic atheism that precludes that possibility. Finally, the various atheistic worldviews either have a serious difficulty or entirely preclude the possibility of knowing or predicating anything at all whatsoever. As I argued in the thread I posted above. Here's the thread again:
[I've created a blog based on those comments HERE]

RS:  1. Granny. - I understand that you were talking hypothetically and I responded to that hypothetical by analogy. My analogy was that the reasoning that grandchildren would be using would be the exact same reasoning that doctors use to induce a diagnosis or conclusion from symptoms or premises. This is suppose to be an example of personal evidence. Personal evidence, to me, would be subjective emotional feelings about situations which isn't a line of reasoning. Heck, there's even a fallacy called Appealing to Emotion.

2. Worldviews. - I'll make an honest attempt at reading your thoughts on atheistic worldviews but I can't make any promises.

3. Creation vs Eternal.
// "There is no one Christian position on the issues...." //

Shouldn't that be a strong indication at christianity's ability at arriving at truth?

// "The point is that from the perspective within the universe, ..." //

Ah, so you're using the term 'universe' scientifically to mean "the observable cosmos." Again, I think Puddle Thinking refutes this. Additionally, I think we would agree that even if our observable cosmos did have a beginning, then that doesn't necessarily mean or imply that it came about supernaturally or anything. Creationism, multiverse, & eternal/necessary would all still be competing hypotheses.

5. Fine-tuning Flop.
// "As I understand it, the case for fine-tuning is so strong that many scientists acknowledge it." //

Which scientists? Some physicists, astronomers, chemists, mathematicians, etc. or meteorologists?

6. WLC - //"There's independent evidence for the existence of God, but there is no independent evidence for the multiverse/world ensemble." //

There's independent evidence for the existence of a god? What would that evidence be?
There's no independent evidence for the multiverse? How do you know that?

I also disagree with the notion of randomness. What seems random to us might not be random at all. Quantum Mechanics would be the most extreme case of randomness but our current technology is based on Quantum Mechanics so there must be some people out there that know enough to make it useful for society.

RS:  The argument(s).

I'm familiar with christianity & many of the claims that are made within it. As you can see, the argument that I present concludes with something necessary or eternal (i.e., a necessary something). It's quite a lot to jump from a "necessary something" to a "necessary being." If you'd like to assert that these are the same thing, then that's fine by mean but I would appreciate sticking with "necessary something" as "necessary being" seems to imply some kind of sentience.

// "But given atheism, you can't rate, determine or predict the probabilities or possibilities of whether uncaused events take place." //

What do you think atheism is & entails?

I ask because my atheist is a single position about a single topic. It's not a worldview or ideology. I don't even know if I have a worldview or ideology but if I do then Methodological Naturalism (MN) would probably be one of the closest things to being one for me.

I can rate, determine, & predict the probabilities or possibilities of whether uncaused events take place.
We call those events miracles, magic, superstition, etc. Miracles - "breaches of natural law" seem to not occur. If they did, then we could determine it and it would only inform us that the natural laws might be flawed or at least incomplete. Of which, we already suspect that they are due the problem(s) of time travel.

RS: What's the statistical probability of this......?

https://youtu.be/DzbCn5SnVok

*AP*:  "Granny. - I understand that you were talking hypothetically and I responded to that hypothetical by analogy. "

The point was that not everything you can justifiably believe must be able to be evidenced by you to others.

"This is suppose to be an example of personal evidence. Personal evidence, to me, would be subjective emotional feelings about situations which isn't a line of reasoning. Heck, there's even a fallacy called Appealing to Emotion."

My analogy didn't depend on emotion. I could have used any number of hypothetical situations. Say your grandmother told you that she was Jewish. That she kept this secret for many years and none of her descendants have known until now. Something similar happened with Christopher Hitchens. Of course, nowadays there's DNA testing that could support such a claim, but in times past one would be hard pressed in supporting such a claim with evidence. Or say you grandmother claimed to have dated a famous actor etc.

"Shouldn't that be a strong indication at christianity's ability at arriving at truth?"

I'm wondering if you mean a strong indication at Christianity INability at arriving at truth. If so, not at all. The Bible doesn't claim to exhaustively reveal all the secrets of the universe or of God's or the universe's mode of existence in relationship to each other.

"Again, I think Puddle Thinking refutes this. "

I'm not sure it does. The evidence for fine-tuning is so strong that knowledgeable scientists realize they need something like a multiverse to account for it. That's all I'll really say about that because I'm no scientist (and presumably neither are you).

The point is that I attempted to provide just few evidences (in this limited format/medium) suggesting creation by an intelligent designer which would be in keeping with theism [or aliens, Matrix, etc.] but not necessarily proof.

"Additionally, I think we would agree that even if our observable cosmos did have a beginning, then that doesn't necessarily mean or imply that it came about supernaturally or anything. Creationism, multiverse, & eternal/necessary would all still be competing hypotheses."

Agreed. The mere beginning of the universe doesn't necessarily prove the existence of God. As I've argued in my blogpost, no amount of induction can lead to certain knowledge of God's existence:
http://gospelcrumbs.blogspot.com/2013/07/detecting-and-finding-god.html

"Which scientists?"

I already quoted a few who aren't theists. I'm not claiming that fine-tuning has been proven. Only that the evidence is in keeping with fine-tuning such that even some non-theistic scientists think there might be something to it. If you've read my blogposts you'd know that I believe God regulates the evidence for Himself in fluctuating degrees depending on where in Redemptive History we're at. I've repeatedly cited this quotation from Blaise Pascal's Pensées in my many discussions with non-Christians:

"Willing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart, God so regulates the knowledge of himself that he has given indications [or "signs"] of himself which are visible to those who seek him and not to those who do not seek him. There is enough light for those to see who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition."

"There's independent evidence for the existence of a god? What would that evidence be?"

My blogposts document some of them. If you're really interested you can browse my blogposts. Also, there the cumulative effect and weight of the various evidences which should be factored in. Often atheists believe they've refuted one line of evidence and then examine another line without thinking about all the other evidences put together. One snowflake is easy to dismiss, but enough snowflakes can cause an avalanche. Though, like I've argued in my blogposts, I believe God has intentionally kept the evidence from being rationally coercive for most of humanity. It gives room for the manifestation of one's character etc. [as I argued in this blogpost:
http://gospelcrumbs.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-hiddenness-of-god.html]


"There's no independent evidence for the multiverse? How do you know that?"

As I understand it, currently there is no such positive evidence. Though, scientists are looking for way to provide such evidence. So, far scientists have only pointed to facts that would be consistent with a multiverse. Some scientists are doubtful that such positive evidence is ever possible because multiverses (at least the types theorized in QM) are causually unrelated from each other.

"I also disagree with the notion of randomness. What seems random to us might not be random at all. "

It seems we agree. If so, then any apparent acausal events (e.g. QM) may in fact be causal.

" If you'd like to assert that these are the same thing, then that's fine by mean but I would appreciate sticking with "necessary something" as "necessary being" seems to imply some kind of sentience."

If I were an atheist, I would take seriously the possibility that some things exist or happen without a cause. Just as anything apparently acausal might be caused [which I just said above], the converse might be true. Meaning, anything apparently caused might in fact be uncaused. That's what atheism allows for. Atheism allows for determinism and/or indeterminism, as well as both causality and/or non-causality. Given atheism, there's no guarantee of order or disorder.

"What do you think atheism is & entails?"

Atheism, at the very least entail a lack of belief in gods/goddesses/Gods/God. Generally speaking, there's strong/hard atheism and weak/soft atheism. The former claims there are no gods, the later only claim the psychological lack of belief in the existence gods. Though, in European tradition for the last few hundred years, atheism was a postive belief in the non-existence of gods.
See my blogpost on the Definitions of Atheism:
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2013/12/definitions-of-atheism.html

"I ask because my atheist is a single position about a single topic. It's not a worldview or ideology. "

Atheism can be attached to various worldviews. That's why I often use the phrase "atheistic worldview(s)" with the "s" implying plurality.

"I can rate, determine, & predict the probabilities or possibilities of whether uncaused events take place."

Not if you have no reason to assume the uniformity of nature. As I've argued in my comments in the OP here:
[I've created a blog based on those comments HERE]

""breaches of natural law" seem to not occur. "

Atheism cannot demonstrate or have rational grounds for the assumption of "natural law". What you call natural law is not prescriptive, but only descriptive of how things have behaved as far as you can tell. For all you know the laws of nature have been, or will or once did change yet you're not able to detect either because it's too slow (cf. boiling frog) or because you couldn't detect the change. Just as in those time travel movies where people within the timeline never notice how it has changed (cf. the movie Time Cop).

"What's the statistical probability of this......?"

That would depend on your worldview. Possibilities/Impossibilities, probabilities/improbabilities, plausibilities/implausibilities are both rated by and are a function of one's worldview.


RS:  1. Granny. - // "The point was that not everything you can justifiably believe must be able to be evidenced by you to others." //

You haven't made that point. You've attempted to provide an example of "personal evidence" but the analogy of a doctor making a diagnosis shows that both the doctor & the grandchildren are using inductive reasoning.

How is any of that "personal evidence" when it seems like you're just giving an example of a person's word. There are claims in my family that we have some Native American in us and that some ancestors were horse thieves. These are merely unsubstantiated claims, not "personal evidence."

2. Bible. - Well, it is claimed that the bibles are the "word of a god" or the "inspired word of a god." Either way, I see/read no signs of the divine but rather evidence of ignorant human men.

3. Fine-tuning Flop. - Fine-tuning isn't a problem. My position is that scientists (specifically physicists) use the phrase slightly differently than the christians. In that, scientist are using the phrase in regards to their model of reality whereas the christians are using it in regards to reality. I don't think the physicists are saying that the natural laws are fine-tuned towards life. Rather, I think they would acknowledge that they are "fine-tuned" for life as we know it. The multi-verse hypothesis alone explains how the christian understanding of "fine-tuning" is incorrect which is because life as we know it could be different but still be life.

4. Pascal. - The problem with Pascal's quote is that even those that have made an honest, sincere, & thorough attempt to seek a god have come up empty handed. The Clergy Project is a great example of those that have made honest, sincere, & thorough attempts but came up empty handed. In short, gods are not only hidden from those that do not seek them out but are also hidden from those that do seek them out.

5. Evidence for at least one god. - I reject your snow analogy. A single argument could be convincing. 100 invalid, weak, fallacious, or problematic arguments pale in comparison to a single valid, strong, or non-problematic argument. St. Augustine had numerous arguments for the existence of a god but they're all problematic in some shape or form.

6. Atheism - Atheism is an open book. In other words, on any topic, any two atheists will probably disagree with one another. That's becasue atheism isn't an ideology, worldview, or dogmatic. All atheists share a single thing which is a single position on a single issue: their atheism.

7. For me, atheism would be equivalent to what you consider "weak atheism" and adeism would be equivalent to what you consider "hard atheism". I ask because your comment, "But given atheism, you can't rate, determine or predict the probabilities or possibilities of whether uncaused events take place" seems to make atheism into something that it's not. I would make a suggestion of what you might have meant but I have no idea.

8. Atheistic worldviews. - If something is a worldview, then it's a single thing. Attaching atheism to various worldviews doesn't make them atheistic worldviews. Say we consider atheism a worldview and concludes with atheism, then it's just a worldview that results in atheism. It doesn't mean that it's an atheistic worldview. Skepticism might be another which might conclude with atheism. I think you're confusing atheism with secularism.

9. // "Not if you have no reason to assume the uniformity of nature" //

And........if I do?

10. // "Atheism cannot demonstrate or have rational grounds for the assumption of "natural law"........." //

You gave your understanding of atheism yet it doesn't seem to tie in with this comment. Atheism isn't a method of demonstrating anything. It's a position. It's not a system, methodology, ideology, worldview, or set of position. Atheism is a single position about a single issue: the existence of gods.

*AP*: Here's Alvin Plantinga's argument. What if all the evidence says you murdered someone. Yet, your clear memory says you didn't and couldn't have. Are you obligated to believe you kill someone merely because all the evidence "proves" you did? And given there are no defeaters to your memory (e.g. there's no evidence that you were drugged, or had your memories tampered with)?

RS:  I'm not done with my response. Pressed 'Enter' on accident. Currently editing it.

*AP*:  The point I was making, which shouldn't be controversial, is that one can justifiably believe something even if one couldn't prove it or provide supporting evidence for it to someone else (singular) or to other people (plural).

RS:  // "The point I was making, which shouldn't be controversial, is that one can justifiably believe something even if one couldn't prove it or provide supporting evidence for it to someone else (singular) or to other people (plural)" //

I couldn't disagree more.

*AP*:  "I couldn't disagree more."

So, if you saw a shooting star last night you wouldn't be justified in believing you did see one unless you could prove to other people that you saw it?

Does that also mean that if no one could prove that you've committed a crime (or sin), you're not guilty of it? heh A lot of people behind bars would like that epistemology.

While some crimes have been shown to have been committed by someone beyond a shadow of a doubt, others are only beyond a reasonable doubt. Those jailed based on the latter might wish to be set free based on your epistemological approach. I'm being facetious of course. [smiley face]

RS:  // "So, if you saw a shooting star last night you wouldn't be justified in believing you did see one unless you could prove to other people that you saw it?" //

My understanding of your earlier comment was one of relativism. In that we all are justified in "believing" whatever we want (UFO abductions, Bigfoot, Nessie, tiny living pink elephants, etc.). In other words, that which is not empirical. We're justified in "believing" things which are rational.

RS: By "my initial comment," I meant the one that I was typing and accidentally pressed "Enter" but went back to edit it to provide a more thorough breakdown of your last lengthy comment.