Atheism

Russian Roulette and Pascal’s Wager

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According to Allen McNeil the Gallup poll results for American scientists are:

Young-Earth Creationist = 5%

Guided Evolution = 40%

“Naturalistic” Evolution = 55%

For members of the National Academy of Sciences*, the results are:

Young-Earth Creationist = 3%

Guided Evolution = 14%

“Naturalistic” Evolution = 83%

*data from the Cornell Evolution Project, http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org

So here’s how I read it.  One in six of the most accomplished living scientists believe in a living God responsible for the creation of mankind.

Pascal compares the risks of belief and disbelief:

1) If I disbelieve in God and I’m wrong, I lose everything.
2) If I disbelieve in God and I’m right, I gain nothing.
3) If I believe in God and I’m wrong, I lose nothing.
4) If I believe in God and I’m right, I gain everything.

The only rational position to take is #4 where you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  That is Pascal’s Wager.

Now if we take our odds of God being real from the greatest living scientists we find the odds of God being real are 1 in 6 (17%).  So this is essentially like playing Russian Roulette with a 6-shot revolver with one bullet in it.  If you pull the trigger and nothing happens you gain nothing but if you pull the trigger and the gun fires you lose your life.  Why play that game?  Even if the odds were a thousand or a million to one against getting a bullet in the head why play? 

Dave Scott

235 Replies to “Russian Roulette and Pascal’s Wager

  1. 1
    Hoki says:

    Pascal’s wager??? Seriously? You should get together with Cornelius Hunter and have a quick chat about religious assumptions.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    I have often remarked tha the most interesting thing about this debate is the behavior of the anti ID people. There is no politeness or good feelings manifest in any of them. They seem to be driven by negative feelings against something with an objective of putting people down or finding a gotcha somewhere. As one commenter said a day or so ago, all they are interested in is poisoning the well.

    Why do they continue to come here when they show such obvious disdain? That is the interesting question.

  3. 3
    Tajimas D says:

    You make an excellent point, and one which I had not considered heretofore.

    I shall henceforth choose to believe—because, as well all know, beliefs are things that people choose, and the Lord would approve of people believing in him merely as a way of hedging their bets—in all of the religions in the world. Of course, I shall also have to ignore the fact that they are mutually incompatible.

    Actually, come to think of it, that last part sounds kinda difficult, so I propose the following method of determining my religion:

    The largest religious sect in the world is Roman Catholicism, encompassing about 1/6th of the world’s population. Ergo, by your logic above, it has the largest chance of being correct—about 17%.

    I note approvingly that the Catholic Church endorses evolution (as does the National Academy of Science), and that ID must therefore be discarded as heretical.

  4. 4
    mereologist says:

    Tajimas,

    Don’t forget that there are possible gods other than the ones worshiped by existing religions. For example, what about the god who rewards people for hopping on one foot in public? Better placate him too, just to be safe.

  5. 5
    Tajimas D says:

    mereologist,

    You clearly do not understand the flawless logic of the argument made above w.r.t. the % of believers in the NAS.

    If 0% of the population believes in something, clearly it cannot be true. Thus, all gods not yet invented can be disregarded.

    I would appreciate it if you would stop positing new gods, as worshipping all of the many other man-made deities is already started to occupy the greater part of my time.

  6. 6
    CannuckianYankee says:

    I’ve never liked Pascal’s Wager, even with this new twist. It seems to me that we ought to present the gospel as true by its merits alone, not as some sort of Russian Roulette game if true and we refuse to believe it. The gospel is more powerful than these kinds of manipulative tricks.

    I prefer the Trilemma, but it has it’s problems too. Clearly there are other options than liar, lunatic or Lord – such as that Jesus never existed. I don’t believe that one for a moment, but people have come up with other options that seem reasonable, so the Trilemma falls as well.

    I don’t beleve there’s any quick substitute for “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.”

    This allows even the atheist to work out his/her problems with the gospel, and doesn’t force him/her into any contrived either/or scheme.

    The only either/or presentation I think is legitimate is the one the gospel presents in John 3:16. In that one we have to place the element of our own sin within the context of a God who provided a way out of sin’s consequence. Neither Pascal’s Wager or the Trilemma present this truth, and so are either incomplete, or negated by it. Jesus is not Lord simply because he is neither a lunatic or a liar, and God would still exist despite our belief in or rejection of Him.

    So the problem with both schemes, is they leave the question up to us, and negate the transcendence of God apart from our belief.

  7. 7
    Mark Frank says:

    It is well known that there is a massive assumption underlying Pascal’s wager – that you lose everything if you disbelief and God exists. Maybe he/she/it rewards intellectual honesty, even when mistaken.

  8. 8
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Mark Frank,

    “Maybe he/she/it rewards intellectual honesty, even when mistaken.”

    Yeah, well that’s another reason why I reject Pascal’s Wager. I depend on what the scriptures state in this matter.

    According to scripture, rejection of belief in God is not intellectual honesty, but foolishness. There’s no wager involved.

    How would I apply this to the atheist still living? Simply to say that perhaps God ain’t done yet.

    How would I apply this to the atheist who died while still an atheist? Truthfully, I don’t know, because God is the real judge of intellectual honesty. I could be mistaken in any guess I could posit.

    It would seem according to the scripture, that in the atheist’s rejection of God, he/she has not been intellectually honest, but that’s not my judgment to make. I have to assume then, that with those still living, they are making an honest attempt at intellectually understanding God. We all make mistakes in our assumptions, though.

  9. 9
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Jerry,

    “Why do they continue to come here when they show such obvious disdain? That is the interesting question.”

    I don’t think they all come here from the same motives. Perhaps some of them are insecure in their beliefs and want to see another perspective. Perhaps some of them come here to artificially strengthen their beliefs by knocking the beliefs of those with whom they disagree.

    I haven’t been here long, and so I’m curious – has there been a case on this blog where someone has reversed their position either for ID or against it – and there’s written evidence? If so, I would definitely like to know the reasons why. If they came to accept ID, what was it that made them switch, and what attitudes or arguments here were the most pursuasive. If they came to reject ID while previously accepting it, – same questions, but in reverse.

    Did Pascal’s Wager play in their decision?

  10. 10
    mad doc says:

    Pascal’s wager highlights that atheism means:- Death is the end and there is no hope.

    I ask atheists: Why do you bother arguing?

  11. 11
    PhiJ says:

    Interesting how you say

    The only rational position to take is #4

    You just assumed that you are correct (and of course, you can’t take this as a starting assumption when supporting your point). The position you take (if you accept Pascal’s wager), is to believe in God, and either #3 or #4 is true (as you say at the end of that sentance with where you have everything to gain and nothing to lose).

  12. 12
    William J. Murray says:

    RE #11:

    Because physics compels them to.

  13. 13
    jerry says:

    “I haven’t been here long, and so I’m curious – has there been a case on this blog where someone has reversed their position either for ID or against it – and there’s written evidence?”

    My first comment here was almost 4 years ago and started reading the blog here a couple months before that. In that time I have seen two types of people challenge ID and none have ever said they changed their minds.

    The first seemed to be an honest inquiry into the issues and when their prior beliefs were challenged and they couldn’t answer the challenges, they disappeared. In other words they faded but may have a new respect for the issues which they were previously unaware of. Since they never reappeared it is hard to say what happened. But they were not reflexively negative as our current anti ID set of group thinkers.

    Then there is a second type of challenger who does not budge an inch over time. They are easy to identify because of their attitudes and arguments. When rebuffed on one thing they move on to another but concede nothing. Currently, the site is loaded with these types and they are easy to identify. They all seem to have the same modus operandi. They are generally unpleasant, mocking and negative.

    There is a third person who says they were lurkers and say they have changed their minds by watching the discussion here but then again it is hard to know the history of any individual.

    Maybe there are some who have a different perspective on this. I personally look at this site as a way to make cogent arguments about the issues and learn from others including the anti ID people. They often have some relevant issues and we should look at this as a way to learn. Allen MacNeill has been a great source of information and to use Behe’s analysis, what is the edge of evolutionary theory. I have zero interest in changing the minds of any anti ID person here. I think it is a waste of time and watch over and over again how some of the pro ID people get baited into long fruitless arguments ostensibly thinking they can change the minds of some anti ID person. I have never seen it happen. Though I will say that Allen MacNeill has made some occasional nice sounds about ID but that hasn’t happened too often. But then Allen usually comes back on a negative tack. Allen has to be careful how he treats ID because he would have a lot to lose if he is ever seen as getting to close to us.

    The real target of the discussions are the lurkers who may be on the fence or are genuinely interested in the truth and logic of the issues. The other target is the other pro ID people as we share our understandings with each other. The anti ID people are useful because their constant tiresome irrelevant arguments are reassuring that they have not got anything and a confidence builder for the pro ID people.

  14. 14
    vividbleau says:

    “I haven’t been here long, and so I’m curious – has there been a case on this blog where someone has reversed their position either for ID or against it – and there’s written evidence?”

    My answer would be the same as Jerry’s.

    Vivid

  15. 15
    Hoki says:

    I have often remarked tha the most interesting thing about this debate is the behavior of the anti ID people. There is no politeness or good feelings manifest in any of them. They seem to be driven by negative feelings against something with an objective of putting people down or finding a gotcha somewhere. As one commenter said a day or so ago, all they are interested in is poisoning the well.

    Why do they continue to come here when they show such obvious disdain? That is the interesting question.

    I take it that your comment was directed at me. I’m seriously interested in knowing why single out anti-ID people as being not polite. Wasn’t it Dembski who compared Jerry Coyne to Herman Munster? Commenter Joseph, the other day, said something about evolutionist morons. I’ve seen plenty of similar examples from ID people on these very pages. I hope you’re not claiming that the ID people are somehow better at taking the high road.

    Don’t you at least find id.com.au’s post slightly amusing, especially in the light of what Cornelius has been writing lately? Cornelius has been accusing evolutionsts of using religious assumptions (although any support for his assertions has often been lacking) and here we have an ID person doing precisely the same thing. The conclusion id.com.au reaches is, while deductively true when using said assumptions, hopelessly wrong. Keep adding gods that don’t have the same requirements as the god that id.com.au is thinking about and the probability that you will believe in the right one decreases. Heck, a lot of these potential gods will even condemn people to hell for believing in them (Tajimad D’s proclamation that “Thus, all gods not yet invented can be disregarded.” doesn’t cut the mustard).

    Don’t you, also, find it interesting that when an ID supporter writes something that is so obviously wrong, you immediately have to write something complaining about the anti-ID person who points it out.

  16. 16
    tribune7 says:

    I ask atheists: Why do you bother arguing?

    That never made sense to me either.

    If truth is subjective and there is no ultimate purpose why expend energy to debate?

  17. 17
    lamarck says:

    I just can’t agree to burning in Hell for daring to think in a way I find logical. If I was created on a time stream then all that’s contained in me isn’t my responsibility.

    If god truly poses this ultimatum and people truly are as innocent and unknowing as they seem to be, yet god is throwing people into hell, then it’s my moral obligation to destroy him to protect the innocent, or suffer forever in the attempt. How could I live with myself if god is torturing all these people and I’m sitting in heaven?

    I believe there was a god or gods that started all things but the afterlife can’t be as black and white as heaven or hell described in the bible.

  18. 18
    Echidna-Levy says:

    Tribune7

    If truth is subjective and there is no ultimate purpose why expend energy to debate?

    Please give me a single example of an objective truth.

  19. 19
    PaulBurnett says:

    CannuckianYankee (#9) asked: “How would I apply this to the atheist who died while still an atheist?

    How would you apply it to the much larger number of “righteous pagans” who died having never heard of God (through no fault of their own)? Are they all consigned to eternal fire because of an accident of history or geography? That hardly seems fair.

  20. 20
    Echidna-Levy says:

    For that matter, as you seem to know what it is, what is “the ultimate purpose” too?

  21. 21
    herb says:

    Pascal’s wager??? Seriously?

    Yeah, I’ve never found Pascal’s Wager to be very convincing either, and I’m a Christian! Still, I think this thread can serve a useful purpose. I’ll challenge all believers here: Which argument in favor of the existence of god would you use on an atheist? Imagine you are speaking with a hardcore materialist evolutionist, sired by Richard Dawkins, who has been exposed from age 0 to nothing but OTOOS, back issues of Free Inquiry, and PZ’s random biological, erm, “emissions” *eyeroll*. I would tend to avoid things like the trilemma or biblical prophecy—evolutionists will just seize on some trivial discrepancy and never see the big picture. Rather, I would try to build a case based on the originality of Jesus’ thought. Can anyone imagine something as radical as the Sermon on the Mount being written by a “normal” human in Jesus’ time?

  22. 22
    lamarck says:

    Echinda,
    “Please give me a single example of an objective truth.”

    “a thing is”

    do you deny this?

  23. 23
    Lenoxus says:

    Tribune7:

    If truth is subjective and there is no ultimate purpose why expend energy to debate?

    Opposite point of Echinda’s: How in the world does truth become objective when moored to God — but otherwise remain “subjective”? I think that’s giving truth some rather short shrift.

    As an atheist, I feel that truth, morality, beauty, etc are “necessary beings”, not contingent on any of us, or on any possible being. If an all-powerful being that had existed until now disappeared today, truth would still exist (unless that being’s disappearance somehow resulted in the disappearance of everything else, of course).

    If I discovered that I was the handiwork of an advanced civilization, that might give me a serious psychological “whoa” moment, but it wouldn’t give me meaning where there was none before. My family and friend and species and planet (and Internet debates!) are plenty to provide the meaning I need. (Nor would I find it rational to wonder how to do exactly whatever this civilization expected of me, thus fulfilling my “true” purpose in life.)

  24. 24
    Borne says:

    Tajimas D et al.: Clearly you have too high opinion of your own abilities as a reasoner. Most atheists do.

    I shall henceforth choose to believe—because, as well all know, beliefs are things that people choose,

    And so your response is something you choose to believe?
    “You are nothing but a pack of neurons”, you don’t actually choose anything.

    A bag of meat containing a pack of neurons is merely the accidental product of millions of years of evolutionary accidents caused by non rational processes. Therefore if naturalism is true, your illusion of mind cuts its own throat.

    and the Lord would approve of people believing in him merely as a way of hedging their bets—in all of the religions in the world.

    Gee, not really – I see you don’t know anything of the Lord. Bet hedging “faith” is is rewarded by losing the bet.

    “Until you have given yourself to him you will not have a real self.” You will always be incomplete… and lonely.

    Of course, I shall also have to ignore the fact that they are mutually incompatible.

    Unless you concede that you must also ignore all the conflicting and self-contradicting “scientific” theories as well when deciding – based on your logic of bet hedging rather than on evidence and logic – which one is most likely true.

    Add in all the conflicting philosophies. Atheism is just another zero evidence based and illogical construct, like so many other incompatible ideologies.

    So apply your logic to all theories whatsoever or not at all.

    Thus, as we know, clearly some scientific theories are much more viable than others. And clearly some are much closer to the truth than others. Therefore, based on your logic, the same must apply to religions as well. So, one must be true or at least much nearer the truth than all the other incompatible ones.

    George Washington said in his farewell address:

    Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

    Disdain of all religion is the realm of fools and madmen.

  25. 25
    johnnyb says:

    Wow! After all of the hullabaloo about no real scientist is a young-earth creationist, we now find that a full 5% of American Scientists are YEC? And 3% of NAS members? This is certainly worth reporting somewhere.

  26. 26
    PaulBurnett says:

    herb (#21) asked: “Can anyone imagine something as radical as the Sermon on the Mount being written by a “normal” human in Jesus’ time?

    A majority of New Testament scholars agree the Sermon on the Mount was not “written” at the time but transcribed later (or much later) from oral histories. The primary source is the Gospel of Matthew, but variants appear in the earlier Gospel of Mark, the Gospels of Luke and Thomas – and then there’s the hypothetical lost “Q Document.”

  27. 27
    Echidna-Levy says:

    Lamark

    “a thing is”

    do you deny this?

    Ah, you want to talk axoims and logic do you?

    Sorry, I’m not interested in the “truth” of “1+1=2”.

    I thought that “objective truth” on offer here might be a bit more sophisticated then that.

    You know, like “there is a designer and here are his moral rules for living”

    Or “the designers plan for humanity is such and such”

    Or “the designer does not want you eat fish on a friday”.

    If you want to start at “a thing is” then please be my guest. However I must warn you that those who have already done a introductory level philosophy course will find it tedious in the extreme. And I won’t be taking part.

    So, any “objective truth” on offer that a 5 year old could not think of?

  28. 28
    Nakashima says:

    Wow! After all of the hullabaloo about no real scientist is a young-earth creationist, we now find that a full 5% of American Scientists are YEC? And 3% of NAS members? This is certainly worth reporting somewhere.

    Wow! I guess Lewontin was wrong. KF’s posts just got one paragraph shorter.

  29. 29
    Borne says:

    Echidna-Levy:

    Please give me a single example of an objective truth.

    How about, “It is always and absolutely wrong to rape and murder children.”? A moral example.

    How about, “1+1 = 2”? A mathematical example. Is this objectively true or are there instances in which 1+1 = 65, or …?

    Anyone who claims there are no objective truths or morals is a walking self-contradiction. Such a one has yet to take the first steps in true reason. Such a one reasons against his own reason being a reliable witness to reality!

    “Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it. Two significant developments have already appeared – the hypothesis of a lawless sub-nature, and the surrender of the claim that science is true. We may be living nearer than we suppose to the end of the Scientific Age.” – M. D. Aeschliman C. S. Lewis on Mere Science 1998 First Things 86 (October, 1998)

    “If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. but if their thoughts -i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy — are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.” C.S. Lewis, in God in the Dock (p52-53 Answers to Questions on Christianity)

    “Long before I believed Theology to be true I had already decided that the popular scientific picture at any rate was false. One absolutely central inconsistency ruins it; it is the one we touched on a fortnight ago. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears. Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula or the remotest part obeys the thought-laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory, in other words, unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based. The difficulty is to me a fatal one; and the fact that when you put it to many scientists, far from having an answer, they seem not even to understand what the difficulty is, assures me that I have not found a mare’s nest but detected a radical disease in their whole mode of thought from the very beginning. The man who has once understood the situation is compelled henceforth to regard the scientific cosmology as being, in principle, a myth; though no doubt a great many true particulars have been worked into it.” (p.162)
    – LEWIS, C. S. They Asked for a Paper. Geoffrey Bles

  30. 30
    Nakashima says:

    Doesn’t Pascal’s Wager have this whole “grace as fire insuraznce” quality that was criticized by Bonhoeffer? I’m surprised it is still around.

  31. 31
    William J. Murray says:

    I’ve always found the convenience argument pretty effective; if it is more convenient, comforting and enjoyable to believe in a god and an afterlife, why not do so?

    If it is not true, there is clearly no penalty in doing so, and as a bonus it helped you to enjoy your life while you are here.

    Remember, if there is no afterlife, being right about it doesn’t matter. That you believed a true thing (or disbelieved a false thing) doesn’t get you an award or special recognition.

    Let’s then turn to how people will remember you; you can be a good or a bad person regardless of whether or not you believe in a god; you can be successful and wealthy and leave quite a good estate and happy, well-adjusted offsring either way.

    If the prospect of a judgemental god bothers you, there are several doctrines that do not believe in such a god or afterlife.

    So, all things being equal, what is the purpose or point of believing that one will be annihilated upon death, when one could just as easily believe that their existence will cotinue, finding extra comfort and a transcendent (even if imagined) source of equanimity and hope?

    I don’t think physics or chance cares one way or another. Of course, if one enjoys atheism (for whatever reason), then I suppose believing that would be the route … but I don’t know of many atheists that claim they became an atheist because they found it enjoyble.

  32. 32
    Echidna-Levy says:

    If 5% of american scientists are YEC where are the peer-reviewed papers regarding YEC?

  33. 33
    lamarck says:

    Echidna,
    You didn’t answer my question. I’m going to add another one in too. I’m sure you’d like to take part in this if you could prove me wrong:

    1. Does an objective truth exist? Yes no or uncertain is fine.

    2. Is “A thing is” an objective truth or not?

  34. 34
    Echidna-Levy says:

    Bourne

    How about, “It is always and absolutely wrong to rape and murder children.”

    Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)

    Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children. (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)

    And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. (Exodus 12:29-30 NLT)

    Anyone who claims there are no objective truths or morals is a walking self-contradiction.

    So that’s your example of a objective moral truth is it?

    Still, I guess god does not have to follow the objective morals it created right? Oh, hang on, can they still be objective morals if they can be broken and the entity breaking them still considered moral? As presumably you believe that your god is a moral being?

  35. 35
    Echidna-Levy says:

    Lamark,

    1: Give me an example of such. And I’ll tell you if I agree it exists or not.

    2: Use it in a sentence.

  36. 36
    Lenoxus says:

    Borne:

    A bag of meat containing a pack of neurons is merely the accidental product of millions of years of evolutionary accidents caused by non rational processes.

    This take on things is more materialistic than my materialism — it actually assumes that if something consists of physical parts, it cannot have any further importance, meaning, or other metaphysical beauties. But take that bag of meat and zap it with a divine spark and voila! It has purpose! If the bag of meat merely takes care of its children bags-of-meat, or creates art for its fellows, or explores its universe, or does any of the myriad other things it can do with its short precious time in the world, its life is hollow and it might as well kill itself. But if it was created by something non-physical — and if that non-physical thing is going to send it to an eternal paradise after it dies — then it’s got something to live for, by Jove!

    Is it really that hard to see why I might contend that a bag of meat is a pretty amazing thing in itself? If you want to argue that it’s downright impossible for something merely physical to have free will or love or the like, fine. But I won’t buy any argument that a being could have those things, yet still somehow have a meaningless existence.

    (BTW, I could as easily spend paragraphs deriding the way theism turns us into mere rag-dolls made by God to do his bidding, but I won’t, because I don’t actually think that’s a fair characterization. Hint, hint :D)

    This essay has some more of the exuberance that inspired my thoughts here.

  37. 37
    jerry says:

    My comment was not meant for anyone in particular but was a general assessment of the anti ID people. As I said only one anti ID person who has come here has earned my respect and this person was probably one of the most knowledgeable persons that has commented here.

    But after 4 years here I have seen the spectrum on how people behave. Generally, the pro ID people are courteous till mocked in some way. Then they respond. There have been a few exceptions and these people get called on it after awhile . Some are always courteous. That is not true of the anti ID people who generally come here with a decidedly negative attitude.

    You should see how Dr. Dembski has been treated on the internet and by the science community. You rarely see such opprobrium hurled at anyone trying to make a legitimate scientific point. You see similar behavior towards Michael Behe who is always a gentleman. The anti ID community is a sewer pit in their behavior and those who come here must behave at a certain level or else they will be banned. But even then they only feign good manners and see what they can get away with in poor behavior.

  38. 38
    William J. Murray says:

    What does quoting the bible have to do with answering the question about whether or not:

    “It is always and absolutely wrong to rape and murder children.”?

    Is an objective truth?

  39. 39
    Lenoxus says:

    William J. Murray:

    I don’t know of many atheists that claim they became an atheist because they found it enjoyble.

    Oooh, pick me!

    If I believed that good people went to heaven when they died, I would feel pretty depressed. Why exactly do we bother saving their lives, then? And if everyone always gets whatever they deserve, though karma or whatever, what’s the point of striving for justice? Etc, etc.

  40. 40
    lamarck says:

    Echidna,
    The only known objective truth is that “a thing is”. If you disagree, then say it. If not, then all things aren’t subjective.

  41. 41
    Lenoxus says:

    What does quoting the bible have to do with answering the question about whether or not:

    “It is always and absolutely wrong to rape and murder children.”?

    Is an objective truth?

    My own, unsolicited answer: well of course it’s an objective truth! It’s an extremely objective truth! The idea that there’s any possible world in which it is not true strikes me as kind of sick.

    Which is the point I’ve been going for in what I’ve been saying. If you asked someone that question — is it always and absolutely wrong to rape and murder children? — how would you feel if the answer was “Well, that depends. Does God exist?” I for one would be a bit disturbed by such an answer.

    (Of course, all this is ignoring the sort of crazy “train-tracks situations” philosophers like to dream up, like “What if it were a choice between that and the end of life in the universe, due to some sick interstellar terrorist?” But I think we can safely ignore those sort of “possibilities”.)

  42. 42
    David Kellogg says:

    The only known objective truth is that “a thing is”.

    This is a curious thing to say, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody else make that claim before. In what sense is the statement “a thing is” an objective truth?

    (NB: I don’t believe in objective truth, and I don’t think that little semantic games attempting to trap the relativist in self-contradiction are at all helpful. For everybody’s sake, but especially for jerry’s — Hi jerry! — I’ll avoiding getting into a long and unrpoductive argument about why.)

  43. 43
    Echidna-Levy says:

    For those of you confused, let me clarify.

    If it’s an objective truth that murdering children is wrong, then does the fact that the origin of those truths (i.e. god) can ignore those truths (i.e. instructions to murder children) when it chooses to not worry you as to if that truth is really objective or not?

    Does that indicate that

    A) it’s not an objective truth.
    B) god is immoral
    C) the bible is not true

    or something else?

    And anyway it cannot be “an objective truth” as somewhere in the universe there might be a race of aliens that have to rape and murder their children in order to be able to reproduce. I’ve read weirder sci-fi. It’s just the way their species does it and that’s how it is and always has been.

    Does that then make it wrong? Would it be better if their race did not exist then for something they do that you happen to consider objectionable to happen? even if to this race it’s perfectly acceptable? And normal?

    Yes, it’s considered wrong to rape and murder children (unless it’s a command from a particular god) but that per se does not make it an objective truth.

  44. 44
    lamarck says:

    David, It’s impossible for there to be no thing. You’re observing things and thinking about things right now.

  45. 45
    David Kellogg says:

    lamarck, ok, but that doesn’t make for “objective” “truths.”

  46. 46
    vjtorley says:

    I believe that Pascal’s wager is a suasive argument for the existence of an unlimited, universal God, but that it is incapable of serving as an argument for Christianity or any other revealed religion which professes to worship an unlimited, universal God. Attacking Pascal’s wager by citing verses from the Old Testament is therefore completely missing the point. Even if the arguments against the God of the Old Testament were valid, all that they would accomplish is to eliminate one possible candidate for the universal Deity (Yahweh).

    I have noticed that some readers on this thread have tried to depict God as an arbitrary, capricious Being, because of certain odd decrees He is alleged to have made. Not so. Some of the decrees may relate to matters where it is impossible to give a reason for one choice over another – e.g. should we all worship together on Friday, Saturday or Sunday? Thus a God who makes ad hoc decrees at certain points in history (e.g. about keeping the Sabbath holy) need not Himself possess any ad hoc or arbitrary essential attributes. That is the difference between God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster: the latter is essentially limited and defined by an ad hoc set of attributes.

    Rather than take up too much space on this thread, I shall simply invite readers to click here if they wish to read my own philosophical defense of Pascal’s wager, which is a little different from common formulations of the wager.

    I would also invite readers to click here if they wish to read Professor Peter Kreeft’s thoughts on Pascal’s wager, which are very profound and insightful.

  47. 47
    lamarck says:

    I see. I’m talking about objective truth, not objective as it relates to physical universe objects. “In philosophy, an objective fact means a truth that remains true everywhere, independently of human thought or feelings.”

  48. 48
    Clive Hayden says:

    Borne,

    That quote from Lewis’s They Asked for a Paper is one of my favorites.

    This is a good one too from his essay De Futilitate:

    http://books.google.com/books?.....8;resnum=1

  49. 49
    Tajimas D says:

    Borne @ 23

    I sense you were almost able to get the joke. My response was supposed to be a poorly argued, idiotic piece of trash; the only person who could be convinced by Pascal’s wager is an idiot.

  50. 50
    Echidna-Levy says:

    Lenoxus

    The idea that there’s any possible world in which it is not true strikes me as kind of sick

    Yet your “designer” apparently does not think all sorts of things are sick.

    Like wasps that drill into the heads of their prey to control them.

    Like bugs that lay eggs in other bugs then eat then from the inside out.

    Like bugs that not only lay eggs into other bugs but then paralyse them so they have to lie there and feel themselves being eaten from the inside out.

    Yep, the idea of an objective morality from a “designer” who also makes those kinds of designs is funny.

    Tell me, if it had of been the Wasps that would be in humanities place do you think that you’d be arguing that sticking your stinger in a grubs brain and controling it was immoral? If that was what you had to do to reproduce?

  51. 51
    David Kellogg says:

    I believe that Pascal’s wager is a suasive argument for the existence of an unlimited, universal God,

    How so? It’s an argument for making the safest choice, but it works — in fact, it’s meant to work — apart from arguments for (or against) God as such.

  52. 52
    Clive Hayden says:

    Echidna,

    How about being able to respond to a question that a 5 year old might ask? 😉

  53. 53
    David Kellogg says:

    Actually, it’s even worse than that: Choice #4, “If I believe in God and I’m right, I gain everything,” is only true not only if God exists but if God cares whether you believe. How many options are there if the loss/gain calculus includes many other things aside from the (really rather trivial) issue of whether we choose what’s behind Curtain #4?

  54. 54
    David Kellogg says:

    lamarck, if “an objective fact means a truth that remains true everywhere, independently of human thought or feelings,” then “a thing exists” is definitely not an objective truth, since there are plenty of places in the universe where it seems nothing exists.

  55. 55
    Bantay says:

    Tajimas D @ 5

    You said..”If 0% of the population believes in something, clearly it cannot be true. Thus, all gods not yet invented can be disregarded.”

    The problem with the first part of your statement is that it just isn’t true. What is true is that 100% of the population freely choose to believe in something.

    Secondly, belief does not establish the truth of a proposition. So the fact that some choose not to believe in God, doesn’t necessarily mean that God doesn’t exist. Similarly, the Judeo-Christian God could be true, but not on the basis of whether people believe in Him or not.

    Rather, if an individual has good reasons to believe God exists, then He may exist. If an individual does not have good reasons for God existing, then he is simply uninformed, or in denial about the good reasons others have for God existing.

    The fact is, many people do have good reasons to believe the Judeo-Christian God exists, but I have yet to hear of a good reason why God either could not or does not exist. Even if all Bible-bashing was justified, it still wouldn’t be evidece that God doesn’t exist.

    And the last part of your statement “thus, all gods not yet invented can be disregarded” is interesting, and easily disregarded. I have no doubt that all man-made deities yet to be invented are all equally dis-regardable. Some atheists believe in Almighty Chance, Undirected Natural Causes… something they claim can accomplish what the theist believes God can or has done. Wow. Chance, Undirected Natural Causes is looking more and more like a man-made god…

    …..something that most definitely does not belong in a public school science class. In fact, I think it belongs in the Philosophy Department, or perhaps Ancient History Studies.

    Class dismissed.

  56. 56
    William J. Murray says:

    Lenoxus,

    I don’t really understand your position here. Are you saying that “nonexistence” is preferable to existence?

    I can imagine all sorts of existence scenarios that would both be enjoyable and motivating, and not enjoyable and not motivating. We can choose to believe in one that is enjoyable and motivating, yes? Isn’t that preferable to “nonexistence”?

  57. 57
    lamarck says:

    David, this definition of objective I gave isn’t a good one. This is gone over in wiki. I didn’t want to go find the perfect definition but the meaning still gets across. It means a truth which is actually a truth.

    Space itself is a thing. I’m thinking much more all inclusive of everything though, not just physical universe examples. All places are things too.

  58. 58
    David Kellogg says:

    lamarck, clearly these are difficult terms to pin down. What is gained by claiming objective truth? I can’t see any advantage.

  59. 59
    Clive Hayden says:

    Echidna,

    ——“Yes, it’s considered wrong to rape and murder children (unless it’s a command from a particular god) but that per se does not make it an objective truth.”

    So, raping and murdering children is not objectively wrong to you. Thanks for clarifying.

  60. 60
    vjtorley says:

    Echidna-Levy

    You wrote:

    And anyway it cannot be “an objective truth” [that raping and murdering children is wrong – V.J.T.] as somewhere in the universe there might be a race of aliens that have to rape and murder their children in order to be able to reproduce.

    One solid prediction of theism is that there would be no such race. For if there were, then these aliens would have to treat other persons (their own progeny) as mere means to their own selfish end (survival). This is utterly incompatible with ethical behavior, anywhere in the cosmos. (There’s another “objective truth” for you – the Kantian imperative.)

    I should add that it would be utterly wrong for a Deity to treat children as mere means to an end, too. For even if God made us, that does not mean that God is entitled to treat any of us as being of purely instrumental value. Human persons (born and unborn) are ends in themselves, even if they are finite creatures.

    Thus if God were ever to deliberately take someone’s life, it would have to be for their own good (i.e. in order to save them from a greater evil had they lived), and not for God’s own personal pleasure.

    It should be self-evident that rape could never be good for anyone; thus God could never order that.

  61. 61
    William J. Murray says:

    David Kellogg,

    Language and reason are used to aspire to objective understanding and judgements; if our position is that truth is relative, why bother with the debate? Why bother using reason? Aren’t the axioms of reason – the necessary foundational stones of logic – also relative?

    One who argues that truth is relative is destroying their own argument; what have you proven? Nothing, except some relative notion that might be suitable for you, but for which I have no obligation to even consider.

  62. 62
    lamarck says:

    “What is gained by claiming objective truth?”

    For me this adds clarity to life. One day I realized that there is actually something somewhere, it was a therapeutic moment. Because something actually is, gives life a sacred quality. So whether we are in a dream or are just a vehicle from some god or whatever, we’re experiencing something, It’s hard to explain.

  63. 63
    vjtorley says:

    David Kellogg

    You wrote that Pascal’s wager is an argument for making the safest choice. You are right. I should also like to add: and the most satisfying choice – that is, one which fulfils the longings of the human heart. Only an unlimited, universal God could do that, as I argue in my linked article in #47.

  64. 64
    vividbleau says:

    DK:“a thing exists” is definitely not an objective truth, since there are plenty of places in the universe where it seems nothing exists”

    What is nothing? Nothing is no thing.No thing is not a thing so your statement does not negate ” a thing is” The writer is is making a claim about things not no things.

    Vivid

  65. 65
    William J. Murray says:

    The assumption of a standard of objective truths gives meaning to debates and arguments of reason and logic, because we assume that we can approach an objective understanding at some point that makes clear our subjective errors of interpretation.

    Unless one presupposed an objective truth, then all argument and debate is nothing more than the attempt to get others to think as you do – not becauuse your thinking better reflects the truth, but just because you wish more people to think like you.

    How can one deny objective truth, and then be confidant in the belief that “no gods exist”? How can one deny objective truth exists, then consider it foolish with prejudice, to the point of ridicule, that others do not believe that “chance and natural law” generated the DNA code?

    If objective truth does not exist, why argue anything, other than to jut get others to agree with you?

  66. 66
    vividbleau says:

    “If objective truth does not exist, why argue anything, other than to jut get others to agree with you?”

    That would mean that NDE is not objectively true.Why should anyone accept a theory that is not true?

    Vivid

  67. 67
    Lenoxus says:

    William J. Murray:

    Lenoxus,

    I don’t really understand your position here. Are you saying that “nonexistence” is preferable to existence?

    I can imagine all sorts of existence scenarios that would both be enjoyable and motivating, and not enjoyable and not motivating. We can choose to believe in one that is enjoyable and motivating, yes? Isn’t that preferable to “nonexistence”?

    Well, of course I would prefer to never die and instead live forever in paradise, but that’s just selfish me. Looking at the big picture, there’s something depressing about the idea that the whole “Let’s save children from leukemia” thing that has been the basis of so much morality and heroism has in fact been completely wrongheaded, because death for children is actually the best thing that could ever happen to them. Not to mention the question of whether those in heaven still perceive any suffering that happens here on Earth, but are unable to do anything about it. I would not want to be so drugged on heaven-pleasure that I would cease to feel bad about the suffering of others. On top of all that, the concept of heaven is often coupled to one of Hell, which has plenty of problems that I’m sure you’ve heard before.

    Echidna-Levy:

    And anyway it cannot be “an objective truth” as somewhere in the universe there might be a race of aliens that have to rape and murder their children in order to be able to reproduce.

    OK, coming from the other side of the “objective truths” question (but not the God question) I must disagree. As soon as members of such a race can recognize the wrongness of their way of life, they must work to change it. If one is born into a slavery-dependent economy, and one is sufficiently knowledgeable about the lives of slaves, one has an obligation to not take part in that particular evil. Thanks to evolution, parents often treat their own children as more important than others’ — a behavior so mild I certainly wouldn’t call it ‘evil’, but not the highest ‘good’ either. Maybe just ‘practical’? Anyway, I’m saying that wicked stepmothers in fairy tales don’t have the evolutionary excuse, even though they have an evolutionary cause. I’m probably not making sense; oh well.

    Earlier, you said “your ‘designer’ apparently does not think all sorts of things are sick”. To clarify, I’m an atheist too. I agree those things are sick, and the creator’s best excuse is nonexistence. You also said:

    Tell me, if it had of been the Wasps that would be in humanities place do you think that you’d be arguing that sticking your stinger in a grubs brain and controling it was immoral? If that was what you had to do to reproduce?

    I might be (as you see what I said earlier). It depends on whether I was intellectually/emotionally capable of seeing that parasitism as wrong. Just as God’s excuse for making the wasp is nonexistence, the wasp’s excuse is not knowing any better. While I might attribute the tiniest smidgen of consciousness to a wasp, I doubt it’s capable of empathy, and I believe it is purely instinct-driven when it comes to moral actions. There’s no sense in which a wasp recognizes a caterpillar as a “being”.

    Yep, the idea of an objective morality from a “designer” who also makes those kinds of designs is funny.

    Indeed. While many seem to argue that objective morality can only come from God, I argue that not only can it not come from God, it can’t “come from” anything but the existence of thinking, feeling beings. And once you have those, nothing in the world can remove morality from the picture.

    Some general thoughts/questions as I see the conversation progress: How does reality + God = objectivity? Why isn’t God just another important being among important beings? If it’s because He’s the Creator, what difference does that make? If God were to give clear, distinct messages to a group of people, how should they know to trust him, and that it wasn’t Satan talking to them? How does God’s being the Creator give Him special privileges? (I’m a very democratically-minded person.) What does God add to the reality/meaning conversation, assuming that people could physically exist without Him?

  68. 68
    Bantay says:

    William Murray @66 “If objective truth does not exist, why argue anything, other than to jut get others to agree with you?”

    I think it’s because a relative truth is the minimum sufficient truth for atheism to be believable. It is just true enough to allow a minimally acceptable level of irrationality (atheist faith?), and the maximum level of personal, instant gratification (sexual permissiveness?).

    Relative truth is philosophicaly therapuetic since it doesn’t make any difficult personal or moral demands. I think a philosophically therapuetic state of mind is more important to the atheist than considering the possibility of absolute truth.

    As such, any relative truth, no matter how ridiculous, is worth defending to the atheist, not for the sake of the truth being relative, but merely to avoid the truth being absolute.

  69. 69
    William J. Murray says:

    Lenoxus,

    It is by avoiding the answering of compelling, simple questions that one can continue to engage in self-deceit.

    If existnce is preferable to non-existence, why believe that one will cease to exist after death?

    Please note, I have not inserted ANY limitations, descriptions or conditions on what form any such “afterlife” might take.

  70. 70
    David Kellogg says:

    Omnibus response here.

    William J. Murray to Lenoxus:

    If existnce is preferable to non-existence, why believe that one will cease to exist after death?

    Because there’s no reliable evidence to the contrary?
    Vividbleau:

    The writer is is making a claim about things not no things.

    Yes. I can’t see how that claim makes a case for itself as an objective truth.

    Lamarck:

    “What is gained by claiming objective truth?”

    For me this adds clarity to life. One day I realized that there is actually something somewhere, it was a therapeutic moment. Because something actually is, gives life a sacred quality. So whether we are in a dream or are just a vehicle from some god or whatever, we’re experiencing something, It’s hard to explain.

    I’m not sure what to make of this, because I don’t know what this has to do with objectivity.
    William J. Murray to me:

    Language and reason are used to aspire to objective understanding and judgements; if our position is that truth is relative, why bother with the debate? Why bother using reason? Aren’t the axioms of reason – the necessary foundational stones of logic – also relative?

    One who argues that truth is relative is destroying their own argument; what have you proven? Nothing, except some relative notion that might be suitable for you, but for which I have no obligation to even consider.

    I disagree with the first sentence, which I’d rewrite as follows: “Language and reason are used to aspire to collective understanding and judgments; if truth is not relative, why is debate even necessary?”
    As for the charge of self-refutation (that people like me are “destroying their own argument”), I said I wouldn’t waste time on that, and I won’t. Those who are interested can search previous debates on this site where I’ve laid out my views in some detail. I’d also recommend “Unloading the Self-Refutation Charge” in Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Belief and Resistance: Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy (Harvard University Press, 1997). Needless to say, the debate on self-refutation takes a while to play out and is unlikely to move people on either side. I think, though, that it might be possible for a non-relativist at least to see why, when the abandonment of objectivity is put in relativist terms, the various charges (of self-refutation, quietism, subjectivism, etc.) fail to be compelling to the relativist.

  71. 71
    William J. Murray says:

    David,

    What difference does it make if there is any evidence for it or not?

  72. 72
    Lenoxus says:

    If existence is preferable to non-existence, why believe that one will cease to exist after death?
    Because in a never-ending existence, all my actions would become increasingly meaningless on an exponential scale. Some say “Why bother doing things well and working for the common good if you’re going to die?” I say, why bother if I’m immortal? Especially, why bother if the people I love are immortal too? I feel this would be the case regardless of what form our immortality would take.

    Like I said before, of course there’s a part of me that would love to live forever in a place I personally would love to live forever, by definition. And if I died at 100, and met someone I could negotiate with for more time alive, I would lick their boots for it. I’m only human. But I think that’s the same part of me that would love to eat nothing but chocolate all day without getting sick. I don’t think that’s the real, grown-up me.

    All that said, I suppose that, if pressed, I could design an eternal afterlife I would be comfortable with, one with increasing challenges and the ability to help others (which in principle couldn’t happen in a truly perfect world). But I’ve never seen such an afterlife proposed, and I certainly wouldn’t automatically start believing in it just because I like the idea. I also love the idea of a Martian civilization, but I don’t think we’re about to discover one.

    I’d also like to apologize to you and any other afterlife-believers if I seem to be patronizing. I totally respect you and your beliefs, I’m just throwing in my tuppence.

  73. 73
    Hoki says:

    Jerry:

    Then there is a second type of challenger who does not budge an inch over time. They are easy to identify because of their attitudes and arguments. When rebuffed on one thing they move on to another but concede nothing. Currently, the site is loaded with these types and they are easy to identify. They all seem to have the same modus operandi. They are generally unpleasant, mocking and negative.

    I’m not saying that you are wrong here, but do you have any evidence of this? Or is this just an example of a subtly religious assertion (to use Cornelius Hunter’s words)? Proportionally, how do these people compare to the ID supporters? Was I being unpleasant, mocking and negative now?

  74. 74
    David Kellogg says:

    William J. Murray:

    What difference does it make if there is any evidence for it or not?

    Huh? I take a small satisfaction in facing reality.

  75. 75
    jerry says:

    “I’m not saying that you are wrong here, but do you have any evidence of this? ”

    I suggest you follow backwards those who oppose ID and watch their behavior. It is not hard to find. I have been here four years and in the last 8 months there has been a large increase of people here who are anti ID and who are consistently rude. Actually a couple of them have been fine but not many. Dave Wisker and Art Hunt have been courteous but on other sites some who are polite here mock us when not here.

    “Or is this just an example of a subtly religious assertion”

    I rarely bring up religion and prefer not to discuss it because it is pointless relevant to ID but will discuss it sometimes to clarify something. It is brought up all the time by anti ID people. I watched a video some time ago by Philip Johnson and immediately some of the questioners afterward tried to steer the debate to religion. Johnson was criticizing Darwinian processes and the questioners wanted to discuss religion. It happens here all the time. Just the other day the term creationist was thrown about without any definition of what it meant. The reason was to discredit someone who supported ID.

    “Was I being unpleasant, mocking and negative now?”

    No, but you were in comment #1. Think of the various ways you could have rephrased that comment.

  76. 76
    lamarck says:

    David, I answered your question. What do you mean you don’t know what is to be gained? We know one objective truth exists. Do you see how I gained from this?

  77. 77
    David Kellogg says:

    lamarck, you may “know one objective truth exists.” I don’t. In my view your “adds clarity to life” response is interesting but not helpful. First, the only value you find such “objective” truth adds is subjective (“for me”). Second, it “adds clarity” but it “hard to explain.” Third, to be honest, the whole comment read vaguely like something written while stoned. You haven’t shown in the slightest that objective truth exists. You’ve shown that you believe it exists, and that that belief is helpful for you, but not much else.

    Sorry. I don’t want to dismiss what you are trying to say. It just doesn’t process as a defense of, or even an articulation of, objective truth (to my relativist brain).

  78. 78
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Lenoxus,

    “Because in a never-ending existence, all my actions would become increasingly meaningless on an exponential scale.”

    I can see that existing forever in this world would become increasingly meaningless on an exponential scale. However, that is not what is promised by scripture. On all accounts, the after life is infinitely rich, with new discoveries and adventure. Boredom will be a thing of the past in the presence of our infinite eternal creator. We don’t currently have any reference to compare. The reason why this life at times is rife with the mundane is because of the current condition of this world and this universe.

    A Creator who has the power, reason and insight to create all that exists, can infinitely create and sustain an existence that is expressed in exponentially increasing magnitude of excitement and pleasure. There’s no limit. In the scriptures we are offered: “enter into your rest.” This seems to indicate that what we worry about and toil over in this life “cannot compare with the glory that is to be.”

    We haven’t experienced eternity, so all our imaginings are inadequate to the reality.

  79. 79
    David Kellogg says:

    CannuckianYankee, have you ever heard the Talking Heads song “Heaven”? Here are the lyrics:

    Everyone is trying
    To get to the bar.
    The name of the bar,
    The bar is called heaven.
    The band in heaven
    They play my favorite song.
    Play it one more time
    Play it all night long.

    Heaven
    Heaven is a place
    A place where nothing
    Nothing ever happens. (x2)

    There is a party,
    Everyone is there.
    Everyone will leave
    At exactly the same time.
    When this party’s over
    It will start again.
    Will not be any different
    Will be exactly the same.

    Heaven
    Heaven is a place
    A place where nothing
    Nothing ever happens. (x2)

    When this kiss is over
    It will start again.
    Will not be any different,
    Will be exactly the same.

    Its hard to imagine
    That nothing at all
    Could be so exciting,
    Could be this much fun.

    Heaven
    Heaven is a place
    A place where nothing
    Nothing ever happens. (x2)

  80. 80
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Lenoxus,

    BTW – I don’t think “after-life” is an adequate depiction of that reality. I think it’s the beginning of life as it was meant to be lived. We are smitten with despair in this life because we reject the Creator. Those whom I have known who have embraced the Creator have increased their life’s satisfaction, but that too cannot compare with what is to come. why? Because not only will the world and the universe change, but we will change as well – from corruptible to incorruptible in every sense of the phrase.

    If this seems like far too much of a religious ideal, well, consider the fact that the world is, and that we are in it. Most of us are not satisfied with what is. Otherwise we would all get along in peace and harmony. The reality is we don’t. If God is a reality, what is now prepares us for what is to come – for in eternity we will have a reference point for that glory. Every lesson we learn in this life – every mistake – every tragedy – every mundane moment will have its opposite: the true ying and yang.

    And the purpose behind it all is not towards our own glorification, but towards the glorification of the Creator – the sustainer of all that is pure, true and good.

    The scriptures only give us a hint of that reality – “the lion will lie down with the lamb,” “every tear will be wiped away.” “a new heaven and new earth,” etc… These are but a taste of the hope we have in that promised paradise.

  81. 81
    vividbleau says:

    DK: “Yes. I can’t see how that claim makes a case for itself as an objective truth.”

    I did not ask whether you could see how the claim makes a case for itself as an objective truth. My comment was directed at your reason for rejecting the claim. The reason you gave was invalid since it did not address the claim.

    Rather than address the substance of my post you go and make an argument from authority ( yours) without any justification.

    Vivid

  82. 82
    David Kellogg says:

    Vivid,

    The claim was “a thing exists.” I don’t reject that claim. I reject that claim as objective truth. I don’t know what it would mean for it to be objective truth and I don’t know why it would matter if it were objective truth.

    Maybe it’s just me. Does it seem nontrivial to you?

  83. 83
    Tajimas D says:

    Bantay @ 56:

    You may not recognize that I was reasoning in parallel to the original statement made by Dave Scott, in which he took the percentage of believers in the NAS as a tentative percentage probability that God exists.

    I realize that his argument is deeply flawed. That’s the joke.

  84. 84
    CannuckianYankee says:

    David,

    No, I was never a talking heads fan. Have you heard of the song Highlands by Bob Dylan?
    __________________________
    Well my heart’s in the Highlands gentle and fair
    Honeysuckle blooming in the wildwood air
    Bluebelles blazing, where the Aberdeen waters flow
    Well my heart’s in the Highland,
    I’m gonna go there when I feel good enough to go….

    Well my heart’s in the Highlands wherever I roam
    That’s where I’ll be when I get called home
    The wind, it whispers to the buckeyed trees in rhyme
    Well my heart’s in the Highland,
    I can only get there one step at a time.

    ______________________________

    The song’s over 16 minutes long, and is on Dylan’s 1997 album Time Out Of Mind. The longest song Dylan ever recorded. It’s pure blues bliss.

    Well, the point is – heaven is imagined very differently from one person to the next. Dylan’s idea of heaven sounds nice – in fact, more preferabel than the Talking Heads’ vision; but my point is that all of our imaginings of it are inadequate – because those imaginings come from our current state of temporality. We don’t really know what an eternity is like. This is why I think the scriptures say very little about heaven. It’s pretty much pointless except with a few promises that give us only a glimpse of what it will be like.

    If we will be new creatures in heaven, then all of our current synaptic processes will be expanded to a new reference point – a change over from temporality to eternity.

    I don’t envision it as a bar party that will end and then repeat itself infinitely, but as an endless celebration of the purity, lovingkindness, goodness and joy of being in the presence of ultimate reality. We simply cannot imagine it adequately enough.

    Think about it this way – I love classical music, and I listen to all the greats – Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Schubert, Brahms, etc…

    I could listen to this music for months and months without tiring of it, as long as I had a very large variety of selections. However, the wondrous nature of our music sadly is only temporary. If I had to listen to only one Beethoven Symphony over and over again for weeks on end, it would be like a torture. If all I had to listen to for the rest of my current life was the catalogue of 300 or so CD’s I possess, then that too would eventually seem mundane and torturous.

    However, Heaven is infinite, and this implies an infinite variety of experiences, profound and changing. When we experience epiphanies of reality in our current life we are struck with what I believe is a sense of the eternal. Heaven will be one long epiphany, of which we will never tire.

    This is one reason (among others) I believe in a personal God – because an impersonal deity could not adequately provide for our personal need for eternal transformation – because such a God does not know us. The Theistic personal God of Christianity knows us intimately – and combined with His infinite wisdom and knowledge, the Heaven provided by him will be tailored to our yearnings. But even that picture is inadequate to the reality.

  85. 85
    CannuckianYankee says:

    David,

    “the Heaven provided by him will be tailored to our yearnings.”

    Well even that is not quite right, because I’m not even certain we will have yearnings anymore – perhaps it’s more like: we will have infinite sustained, wonderous satisfaction.

  86. 86
    IRQ Conflict says:

    “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”1Cor2:9

  87. 87
    William J. Murray says:

    David Kellogg says: Huh? I take a small satisfaction in facing reality.

    In response to my question about “what does evidence matter”, when one is deciding whether or not to believe in an afterlife, all other things being equal, except for the comfort and satisfaction one will enjoy through that belief.

    One might wonder what David Kellogg means by the term “facing reality”? He can’t mean an objective true reality, because he denies objective truths. Perhaps he means that he prefers facing his own subjective reality, which from his perspetive means beleiving only that which is evidenced?

    However, he seems to have missed the point; if there is going to be no difference in one’s life other than enjoying it more, how is it not rational to believe in an afterlife, whether or not there is compelling evidence for it? What difference does “evidence” make in the equation?

    If one admits that what on thinks “reality” is is subjective, and not objective, then who isn’t “facing reality”, whatever they believe, for whatever reason?

  88. 88
    William J. Murray says:

    Is reality objective, or subjective? If it is objectively real, then aren’t there objectively true statements that would correlate to it? Would these not be objective truths?

  89. 89
    David Kellogg says:

    William J. Murray,

    Just a quick response. I don’t want to get hung up on the issue of objective truth. I already let myself get a little sidelined by accepting the terminology as offered (I prefer absolute vs. relative rather than objective vs. subjective. I would say that I’m a relativist and don’t believe in absolute truth, but that the subjective / objective distinction doesn’t even make sense to me.)

    Here’s where evidence comes in. I don’t think there’s evidence for an afterlife. (Yes, my Christianity is that wacky.) I might get some “comfort and satisfaction” from attempting to believe in one, but that would, in my case, be overwhelmed by the discomfort and dissatisfaction that would come from embracing a lie. For me, a greater satisfaction comes from living life honestly. I can’t just choose to believe something against the evidence in the hope that it will make me feel better. In fact, it will make me feel worse.

  90. 90
    sparc says:

    I haven’t been here long, and so I’m curious – has there been a case on this blog where someone has reversed their position either for ID or against it – and there’s written evidence?”

    Not totally reversed but Dr. Dembski had to reinstate the “Explanatory Filter” (a core ID tool for design detection) after having dispensed it before.

  91. 91
    CannuckianYankee says:

    David,

    You’ve probably heard this before, but I think your last post to William warrants this being repeated:

    If I say “There are no absolute truths.” I have just contradicted myself. The statement must be absolutely true, and therefore negates itself.

    However, if I say “There are absolute truths.” There is no contradiction. I have stated the truth.

    If you’re concerned about living a lie, you might want to contemplate this predicament a little more.

  92. 92
    David Kellogg says:

    CY, yes, I have heard that before. I don’t mind hearing it again, — I’m used to it! — but I’ve contemplated it plenty. To the relativist, this doesn’t hold up, and there’s a fairly abundant amount of writing about why. I mentioned one source in 71 above. It’ll have to suffice to say, first, that this ain’t my first rodeo, and second, that the issues are more complex than the seeming paradox presents.

  93. 93
    herb says:

    David Kellogg,

    I don’t think there’s evidence for an afterlife. (Yes, my Christianity is that wacky.)

    What the blue hell?? :O

    Oddly, I agree with you on the absolute truth business.

  94. 94
    merlin says:

    For any who do not believe in objective truth, get in you car and drive into a tree. Either pick a smallish tree or keep the speed down so you can tell us whether you experienced objective, subjective, relative or some other kind of truth.

    Let me suggest, in place of Pascal’s Wager, Merlin’s challenge. And no, I am claiming no similarity to Pascal except faith in Jesus Christ. For all atheists, pray this prayer to the God who does not exist: “God, I know you don’t exist, but on the slim chance that You do, I desperately need to know it especially if You want something from me. Show me the truth and give me wisdom.” Or pick your variation – no copywrite on this.

    If nothing happens you do not have embarrass yourself by admitting that you took the challenge, and if something does happen, tell us.

    There is some historical basis for this: Richard Burton in Lebanon, etc. and similar claims by living people, including former Muslims.

    I don’t know what Heaven will be like, but there is a near infinite universe out there.

  95. 95
    Barb says:

    Echidna Levy: “Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)”

    This is a prophecy relating to the fall of Babylon and is not to be taken literally. The fall of Babylon was permanent, their dynasty was rooted out, and there never has been a renaissance. The reason for this is the desire to dominate others that was at in of the Babylonian kings’ hearts (see Isa. 47:5,6). Ambition and pride are things which God does not tolerate.

    “Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children. (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)”

    Again, a prophecy on the fall of Babylon. Media and Babylon at one time were allies and in 632 BCE they overthrew Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. This led to Babylon becoming the predominant world power. About 100 years later, though, the city of Babylon is overcome by the combined forces of the Medes and Persians.

    “And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. (Exodus 12:29-30 NLT)”

    This was the final of the ten plagues brought on Egypt. Note that each plague was described in advance to the Egyptians. Among the Egyptians, the firstborn were dedicated as sacred to the sun-god Amon-Ra, the supposed preserver of all the firstborn. The tenth plague that Jehovah brought upon the Egyptians served to discredit this god and showed up his inability to protect the firstborn. Bear in mind that the Egyptians had already had several opportunities to stop the plagues from occurring by not keeping the Hebrews as slaves. But they refused.

    The constant quote mining of scriptures is becoming tedious. Please at least examine the context of the verses that you attempt to use to prove a point.

    I believe that objective truth exists. Otherwise, what is the point of learning at school if everything is subjective? Life becomes nothing more than a glorified Monopoly game.

  96. 96
    mereologist says:

    Barb,

    Perhaps it would be best not to criticize others for ignoring context when you yourself are known to ignore parts of the Bible you find inconvenient.

  97. 97
    mereologist says:

    Barb wrote:

    This was the final of the ten plagues brought on Egypt. Note that each plague was described in advance to the Egyptians.

    Barb,

    You are conveniently ignoring the fact that over and over during the plagues, God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” so that he would refuse to let the Hebrews go.

    Here’s the story of the tenth plague:

    And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

    Exodus 11:4-10, KJV

    God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. He is the one responsible for the deaths.

    Indeed, it was only because God kept hardening Pharaoh’s heart that there ended up being ten plagues. Can you imagine any sane ruler who wouldn’t have let the Hebrews go after, say, the third or fourth plague at most? But no, God wanted to make a point and it didn’t matter that innocent people had to suffer for it.

    That’s quite some God you worship, Barb.

  98. 98
  99. 99
    lamarck says:

    David, this isn’t an option which you can discard by SAYING the word “relativism”. It’s not some kind of cure-all, do you see that? In other words, you have to prove that in the slightest way this can be fit into relativism, or just admit that you had nothing at all.

    You just deny it without elaborating. Do you not have any elaboration, or any reason to doubt this, and in fact you’re just saying the opposite without thinking? I don’t even know where you’re coming from. If you’re just saying something without any thought or concept involved then just say so.

    Also, didn’t you ask what is to be gained? What kind of response were you looking for? You’re saying that what I said is subjective so therefore I didn’t gain from the objective truth? So you can’t gain subjectively from an objective truth or what? Why?

  100. 100
    Bantay says:

    Tajimas D @ 84

    “You may not recognize that I was reasoning in parallel to the original statement made by Dave Scott”

    Sorry. I just didn’t notice the parallel, but I think we are in agreement that his conclusion from the NAS scientist probability isn’t good evidence that God exists, only that a percentage of scientists believe God exists…which isn’t saying much. Even a non-scientist can have good reasons for God existing, independent of what the best and brightest believe.

    I don’t see how using scientists as an example of alleged spiritual brightness is, by itself, very convincing anyway. If the the probability was 9 out of 10 scientists believing, it would do nothing to convince the person who wills him/herself against belief in God.

    As such, I see Pascals wager as a thought experiment only, not something that reflects how a normal, sincere inquisitor would approach belief in God. Besides, according to the Bible, Christianity is all about “knowing” Jesus, having a relationship with God. I don’t make probability assessments on my relationships with people, even someone who dies on my behalf. It doesn’t seem like a good way to start a relationship based on faith and trust. But that’s just me.

    I agree with you, that Dave Scot’s argument is both flawed and unconvincing.

  101. 101
    vividbleau says:

    “It’ll have to suffice to say, first, that this ain’t my first rodeo”

    CY FWIW David believes in magic. He is right this is not his first rodeo. Stephen B , myslef and KF have pretty much exhausted this subject on another thread.

    David of course will object to my use of the ter “magic” However to assert that something can just poof into existence from nothing, exist before it exists, is no different than invoking magic. There is one difference however at least when a magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat ther is a hat and there is a magician!!

    Vivid

  102. 102
    jerry says:

    “I don’t believe in objective truth, and I don’t think that little semantic games attempting to trap the relativist in self-contradiction are at all helpful. For everybody’s sake, but especially for jerry’s — Hi jerry! — I’ll avoiding getting into a long and unrpoductive argument about why.”

    I could care less about what you think about objective truth. It has nothing to do with you since it is not a topic I would ever discuss with anyone here including the pro ID people. I just want you to stop using the term creationist. It has a way of mixing religion with science in ways that are not correct. I know it is the number 1 anti ID tactic to get religion into the discussion as fast as possible but in future threads we can dispense with the word creationist or creationism.

  103. 103
    vividbleau says:

    DK”I reject that claim as objective truth.”

    So a thing can have non existence? A thing can be no thing and a thing at the same time and in the same relationship?

    Thats a rhetorical question since I already been down this road before.

    Vivid

  104. 104
    CannuckianYankee says:

    vivid,

    “CY FWIW David believes in magic. He is right this is not his first rodeo. Stephen B , myslef and KF have pretty much exhausted this subject on another thread.”

    Thanks. I guess my relative intuition was right this time then, but I thought I’d give it a shot inspite of it. Yes, I guess we’re all relativists sometimes – or are we? How would we know for sure? Come to think of it, how could we be sure of anything?

    Well since you’ve already put so much into this, I won’t bother then.

  105. 105
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Jerry,

    “Maybe there are some who have a different perspective on this. I personally look at this site as a way to make cogent arguments about the issues and learn from others including the anti ID people. They often have some relevant issues and we should look at this as a way to learn.”

    Actually I’m happy to have the opposing view presented here. I think if this was a forum where everybody agreed with one another, we wouldn’t have much to talk about. I’ve also noticed that debating others with opposing views strengthens our own framework and dialogue in communicating our views. We might also learn to avoid arguments that don’t work. That’s what I’m learning here.

    I would only ask that those who are not of the ID view – please be cordial. Yeah, we might harp on you a bit, but I think what happens here is far more mild than the abuse towards creationists, theists and ID supporters on other blogs – Panda’s Thumb, for example. And also keep in mind, that when you are cordial, we are more likely to learn something from you.

    I used to debate on the theism/atheism newsgroups when I had AOL a few years ago. I made all kinds of errors in my thinking (as I often do here as well), and I was harshly confronted with those errors. But it was all worth it in order to sharpen my thinking. I think the important thing though, is to back off when things get heated. If it doesn’t look like we’re going to pursuade, even if we believe we have given the more pursuasive argument – why bother?

    I like it when someone gives me a particular insight, which can be expanded upon. That’s primarily why I’m here.

  106. 106
    David Kellogg says:

    lamarck [97], I shouldn’t have jumped into this. As vividbleau points out, I have engaged in fairly extended conversations on this subject before at UD.

    vividbleau is wrong about two things, however:

    1. I don’t believe something can “exist before it exists.” vivid is referring (none too obliquely) to my rejection of StephenB’s version of a amedieval proof of God. For StephenB (and apparently for vivid) anyone who fails to accept those arguments as proving a personal God is irrational.

    2. No subject is ever exhausted for kairosfocus. 🙂

  107. 107
    vividbleau says:

    DK:’I don’t believe something can “exist before it exists.” vivid is referring (none too obliquely) to my rejection of StephenB’s version of a amedieval proof of God. For StephenB (and apparently for vivid) anyone who fails to accept those arguments as proving a personal God is irrational.”

    So I am clear you dont deny then that everything that begins to exist must have a cause?

    Vivid

  108. 108
    Clive Hayden says:

    ——“I know it is the number 1 anti ID tactic to get religion into the discussion as fast as possible but in future threads we can dispense with the word creationist or creationism.”

    jerry is right, I’m gaveling this “creationist” discussion.

  109. 109
    Mark Frank says:

    #108

    “So I am clear you dont deny then that everything that begins to exist must have a cause?”

    I won’t speak for David of course but this is a question I find very interesting.

    First. We need to think carefully about causality. Informally we talk about “the cause” of an event but this is highly context dependent. Suppose I am exposed to swine flu and get it. You could say the cause was me meeting someone else who had it. But in another context you could say the cause was the lack of vaccination or my lack of natural immunity or my breathing in at the wrong moment.

    Any real event has multiple antecedents which were necessary for the event to take place. The cause is the combination of all them. In some cases even that is not sufficient. Take the emission of an alpha particle. There are a number of antecedents that are necessary – a suitable radioactive source etc. But even then a particle may not be omitted at any given time. As far as we know the specific emission of that alpha particle at that time has no totally sufficient cause. So in this sense there are events which apparently have no cause. And if it can appear they have no cause then it is logically possible for them to have no cause.

  110. 110
    Tajimas D says:

    Bantay @ 101:

    Yes, we are in absolute agreement about that.

  111. 111
    William J. Murray says:

    David,

    We aren’t talking about living a “lie”; we’re talking about choosing beliefs from a relativist perspective. For a relativist, nothing is “absolute” (if you prefer that term), so what one is doing is making rational decisions about what to believe based on non-absolute knowledge.

    Unless you know there is no afterlife (which you do not), then believing in it is not “living a lie”. I posit that your choice of words there betrays – once again – a non-relativist framework, as did your comment about “facing reality”; you keep using phrases and terms that denote absolute or objective positions and do not seem to be generated from a relativist framework.

    One can easily go and find all kinds of evidence that would support a belief in the afterlife (I’ve already posted references to the William Crookes medium research, the NDE research recently published in the Lancet, and various other research programs that were carried out by very respectable institutions and groups).

    Since there is no evidence that an afterlife (or a god of some kind) doesn’t exist, a reasonable person could certainly weigh the evidence that it does on a cost/benefit basis as to whether or not to believe it for the sake of enjoying life more.

    Unless you adopt a belief only because you think something is absolutely, or objective real, and has been proven to you by evidence that rises to the level of absolute or objective proof (thus contraindicating your claim of relativism), then you adopt beliefs from evidence or reasons that are relative (not requiring absolute or objective proof).

    All you would be doing, then, is adjusting the “grey area” of “acceptable levels of evidence” against a cost/benefit evaluation of a potential belief.

    But, claiming that you cannot believe in god or an afterlife because you would not be facing reality, or that you would be living a lie, IMO reveals an objective/absolute framework.

    There is no evidence that a god of some sort, and an afterlife of some sort, does not exist; there is tons of evidence that a god of some sort, and an afterlife of some sort, exists. A relativist could choose either belief or non-belief without “living a lie” or “not facing reality”.

  112. 112
    mereologist says:

    IRQ Conflict,

    The article at apologeticspress.org attempts to rationalize God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by arguing that those verses really mean that God allowed Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.

    This rationalization fails for a number of reasons. First of all, Exodus doesn’t merely say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart — it says that he did so that God could put on a show for the Egyptians. For example, before the tenth plague, it says that “the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.

    Second, do you really find it plausible that Pharaoh wouldn’t have relented after three or four plagues at most? Put yourself in Pharaoh’s position. Would it really take ten horrible plagues to convince you to let the Hebrews go?

    Last, even if the rationalization were correct, doesn’t it strike you as unfair and immoral for God to punish all of the Egyptians for the stubbornness of their ruler?

    Exodus 10:7:

    And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

    They’re begging Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. Why should God punish them, kill their firstborn, etcetera, when Pharaoh’s recalcitrance is not their fault?

    Even if the folks at Apologetics Press were correct in their rationalization, the story of the plagues still depicts unjust and immoral behavior on God’s part.

  113. 113
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “There is no evidence that a god of some sort, and an afterlife of some sort, does not exist; there is tons of evidence that a god of some sort, and an afterlife of some sort, exists. A relativist could choose either belief or non-belief without ‘living a lie’ or ‘not facing reality.'”

    All good points, William. I would add also that people who accept that there are absolute truths also believe in relative truths – or else, how would we live?

    God’s existence is absolutely true for God alone [well I might make an exception for the Apostles, Moses, and several other Biblical figures]. For everyone else it is relative, because there’s no absolute proof. But nonetheless, there is still good reason for believing in him, and in this I do not feel like I’m living a lie.

    I feel that I would be living a lie if I started to live as though I don’t believe in Him, when I can’t escape the fact that I do. Faith is not something I necessarily chose for myself – in fact I fought it for many years. But the truth came back to me.

    I said this once before I believe, but I think it’s a powerful concept: In the 23d Psalm it is written “surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

    A Hebrew scholar and Jewish Christian friend once explained in a Sunday school class that the Hebrew word for “follow” in this passage is much more precise than in the English translations. It means “to persue with extreme prejudice.” In other words, God’s truth persues us, and doesn’t let up.

    We are lost, and God seeks to find us – perhaps in our weakness, or in the lowpoints in our lives, when we’ve lost all hope, and He finds us. Even when we once claimed to be Christians, but for one reason or another, decided to go in another direction, God persues our hearts, and doesn’t let up. That is my reality. It’s not a lie, but a supreme truth for which there is nothing that compares.

    Indeed, if I’m turning away from that truth, it shows up in the most unexpected places – causing me to rethink and regroup. The unbeliever might look to the prostelytizer as an annoyance, but to a person who gets the urge to turn away – those simple reminders are a powerful way for God to get through to us.

    And then there are the church drive-bys, and the gospel tracts showing up on the sidewalk – or turning the channel just at the right time when a powerful preacher is at the height of his discourse – you can’t escape. Even if you’re not quite agreeing with the kind of religiosity that is being displayed, it doesn’t matter – God is speaking to you through an objectionable medium – so be it.

    Such a predicament can do either of two things – leave the unbeliever cynical towards religion, or the believer convicted.

    So you can see how Christianity is a powerful conviction. It comes from the profound words of scripture, which can be read from a surface perspective with all the faulty assumptions, or dug down deep and personal.

    He’s a personal God, and so we have to take the scriptures in a personal way. We “feed on the Word,” because that is our hope – to know He who is true.

    So faith is far more than simply an intellectual acknowledgement of certain doctrine, or of simple belief in a deity. And to the non believers, we really ought to stop presenting it as such. While doctrine and belief are important, it’s the moments of clarity with respect to one’s life in context with the guidance of scripture, which leads to that conviction – that “blessed assurance” for which there is no escape. Once we were slaves to the world, now we are different kinds of slave.

  114. 114
    Seversky says:

    In my view, the word “truth”, as sometimes used here, is misleading. I would argue that there is an objective reality outside each of us about which we have only limited knowledge. What we call “truth” consists in the degree to which our descriptions and explanations of that reality can be shown to correspond to it. Since our knowledge of that reality is partial and there can be a number of competing explanations for what is observed, to that extent truth is relative.

    On this interpretation there are no objective moral truths because morals have no objective existence. What we call morals are best understood as value judgements formed by people and rules based on those judgements which serve to regulate our behavior towards one another in society. That we find certain moral precepts in most if not all societies is best explained by the fact that all human beings, regardless of ethnic group or culture or religion, have certain basic interests in common which need to be protected in order to maintain social cohesion.

    The foregoing is, of course, a rationalization. At a more emotional level, we can argue that moral behavior springs from our capacity for empathy. Most of us do not steal or rape or murder, not just because some god says we should not, but because we can imagine the suffering caused by such acts and have no desire to inflict it on others. It is summarized as the “golden rule”. We should be very wary of any who claim that the only thing preventing them from behaving badly is some sort of divine prohibition. There are too many examples of self-proclaimed believers who nonetheless are able to ignore the will of their god and commit the worst offenses.

    Any arbitrary claim to absolute moral authority by any faith or political ideology should be treated with extreme caution. In the case of political ideology, we have the object lessons of Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zhe Dong and Pol Pot to show where that can lead. In the case of Christianity, its own holy text, the Bible, is replete with examples of God and his chosen people behaving in ways that we would now find morally reprehensible, to put it mildly. The Noacchian Flood, for example, had it occurred, would have been genocide on a scale of which the worst of the twentieth century dictators could only have dreamed.

    Ultimately, and perhaps paradoxically, our best hope lies in a recognition of our weakness and ignorance, the fragility of our own existence as individuals and as a species and a humility that befits such an understanding. People do not fly planes into skyscrapers because they doubt there is a god or an afterlife, they do so because they are certain of it and that their actions will earn them immortality and the eternal favor of that god. Any faith which encourages such behavior is not worthy of belief and any god who orders or endorses it is surely not worthy of worship.

  115. 115
    William J. Murray says:

    Seversky,

    How do you arrive at the conclusion that morals have no objective existence? If not, where do they come from?

  116. 116
    Barb says:

    Mereologist: “Perhaps it would be best not to criticize others for ignoring context when you yourself are known to ignore parts of the Bible you find inconvenient.”

    I ignored nothing. I provided an explanation which you rejected.

    Again, I will state this: you completely missed the point of the entire gospel of John and you complain about me?

    “You are conveniently ignoring the fact that over and over during the plagues, God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” so that he would refuse to let the Hebrews go.”

    You conviently ignore the fact that Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go at one point but then changed his mind. The Lord God brought nine plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt, in which he manifested his supremacy, power and majesty. In each plague Pharaoh begged release, assuring Moses and Aaron that he would do as the Lord God directed, only to defiantly change his mind and attitude as soon as the plague was relaxed. Then God brought the tenth plague upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, executing the firstborn in all Egypt, from the firstborn of the king on down to the firstborn of the most menial slave in his domain, and even down to the firstborn of the cattle.

    “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. He is the one responsible for the deaths.”

    This is where your so-called reasoning completely goes awry. Let’s put the blame on who is really responsible, Mereologist.

    The Pharaoh of the time of Moses chose to stubbornly oppose God, and so God sent ten plagues, and finally had to wipe out Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red sea. All such were great evils, calamities, which entailed great suffering upon the Egyptians. But they were not wrongs. Pharaoh was the wrongdoer, and God was perfectly within his rights in thus punishing him and thereby settling the issue as to who is supreme.

    Indeed, it was only because God kept hardening Pharaoh’s heart that there ended up being ten plagues. Can you imagine any sane ruler who wouldn’t have let the Hebrews go after, say, the third or fourth plague at most? But no, God wanted to make a point and it didn’t matter that innocent people had to suffer for it.”

    The earlier plagues jarred Pharaoh loose from his hypocritical complacency. He then let the Israelites go, in fact, he rushed them out. But then Pharaoh stirred up within himself retaliatory vengeance and selfishness and determined to bring them back and to hold them for his expansion program. His avariciousness overcame his fear and he gave chase to bring them back. Unrepentant and hardhearted, Pharaoh and his Egyptian army were destroyed in the sea.

    If the Egyptians under Pharaoh had simply let the Hebrews go after the third or fourth plague and hadn’t tried to recapture them, they wouldn’t have had to deal with the rest of the plagues because there wouldn’t have been any!

    The fact that you refuse to examine the context of the scriptures you continually quote is certainly not my fault. It’s yours.

  117. 117
    David Kellogg says:

    William J. Murray,

    We aren’t talking about living a “lie”; we’re talking about choosing beliefs from a relativist perspective. For a relativist, nothing is “absolute” (if you prefer that term), so what one is doing is making rational decisions about what to believe based on non-absolute knowledge.

    Then call it living inauthentically, something I try not to do.

    Unless you know there is no afterlife (which you do not), then believing in it is not “living a lie”. I posit that your choice of words there betrays – once again – a non-relativist framework, as did your comment about “facing reality”; you keep using phrases and terms that denote absolute or objective positions and do not seem to be generated from a relativist framework.

    I’m going to bypass the critique of relativism, as I’ve found the discussion here more productive of heat than light. As an aside, I wish you’d familiarize yourself with some of the literature of relativism rather than just with the caricatures of it.

    I don’t know there’s no afterlife. I used to believe in an afterlife. (To be fair, I believe in the finite afterlife of memory, of human social and cultural accomplishment and contribution. And so Russell’s statement “I believe that when I die I shall rot and nothing of my ego shall survive” needs revision: ego does survive, for a time, passed on in words and deeds and the memory of the living.) On balance, I find the evidence for an afterlife of the sort you’re suggesting to be overwhelmed by the evidence for death as an actual end of life. For me to choose to believe in something that I find highly unlikely “for the sake,” as you put it, “of enjoying life more” seems so inauthentic as to be impossible for me without a heavy dose of self-deception. I’m a little perplexed that you seem to be encouraging such self-deception.

  118. 118
    Seversky says:

    William J. Murray @ 115

    How do you arrive at the conclusion that morals have no objective existence? If not, where do they come from?

    This turns on how you interpret “objective”. I argue that morals, like ghosts or colors, have no existence beyond the confines of the human mind. In that sense, they have no objective existence. If you want to argue that other minds exist as properties of other human beings which have an objective existence then I have no problem. It is a defensible position.

    As for their origins, I thought I had explained my view. We are social animals living together in groups of varying size. Developing rules of behavior which preserve the interests of the constituent members aids social cohesion. Whatever the religious or spiritual or philosophical justification, that is their observed function.

  119. 119
    vividbleau says:

    Mark:” As far as we know the specific emission of that alpha particle at that time has no totally sufficient cause. So in this sense there are events which apparently have no cause. And if it can appear they have no cause then it is logically possible for them to have no cause.”

    Hi Mark,

    To appear to have no cause and to actually have no cause are two different things.

    If you would could you explain how it is logically possible for something to have no cause?

    Thanks and let me take this time to wish you as well as all the posters here a happy independence day.

    Vivid

  120. 120
    vividbleau says:

    Mark,

    I meant to include the following in my revious post.

    To say that something can come into existence without a cause is to say that nothing caused it, that something can come from nothing. Every time I read something like this I start hearing the song in my head “Do you believe in magic”

    Vivid

  121. 121
    Alan Fox says:

    Jerry asks upthread:

    I have often remarked tha[t] the most interesting thing about this debate is the behavior of the anti ID people. There is no politeness or good feelings manifest in any of them. They seem to be driven by negative feelings against something with an objective of putting people down or finding a gotcha somewhere. As one commenter said a day or so ago, all they are interested in is poisoning the well.

    Why do they continue to come here when they show such obvious disdain? That is the interesting question.

    (Sorry for the late response. I have been away for a week visiting aged parent without internet access! Must say it hasn’t taken long to get up-to-speed)

    Jerry, please note, that only a very small subset of critics even visit this site, so you get an unrepresentative sample!

  122. 122
    Joseph says:

    Alan,

    Jerry’s observation runs across the board regardless of whether or not said critics posted here.

  123. 123
    Hoki says:

    jerry:

    They are generally unpleasant, mocking and negative.

    When I prompted you to provide evidence of this, you asked for me to do it myself.

    I did a quick check and found this:

    bornagain77 wrote:
    And to be brutally honest with you, I find you an arrogant jerk.

    Joseph wrote::
    You chimps have proven that the theory van’t even muster a testable hypothesis with the proposed mechanisms.

    jerry wrote:
    Well Darwinian processes are based on Mickey Mouse…

    I can’t remember where, but Joseph also said something about evolutionist morons.

    Of course, these are the comments that I remembered. My memory could, of course, be selective. Perhaps yours is as well?

  124. 124
    dbthomas says:

    Vivid @ 121:

    To say that something can come into existence without a cause is to say that nothing caused it, that something can come from nothing. Every time I read something like this I start hearing the song in my head “Do you believe in magic”

    That’s all well and good, but recalling pop lyrics doesn’t do much to address the actual point you’ve raised. Please tell me what the cause of a Virtual particle is. By doing so, you will also address Mereologist’s example of radioactive decay, which is thought to result from vacuum fluctuations…aka virtual particles.

  125. 125
    Nakashima says:

    Mr vividbleau,

    To say that something can come into existence without a cause is to say that nothing caused it, that something can come from nothing. Every time I read something like this I start hearing the song in my head “Do you believe in magic”

    Closed timelike curves?

  126. 126
    vividbleau says:

    “That’s all well and good, but recalling pop lyrics doesn’t do much to address the actual point you’ve raised. Please tell me what the cause of a Virtual particle is.”

    I dont know. However because I do not know does not invalidate my point which is that to say nothing caused a virtual particle is to say that something can come from nothing.

    Things just poof into existence. Looks like invoking magic to me.

    Vivid

  127. 127
    CJYman says:

    dbthomas:
    “That’s all well and good, but recalling pop lyrics doesn’t do much to address the actual point you’ve raised. Please tell me what the cause of a Virtual particle is.”

    I’m not following your logic here. Are you attempting to state that if we don’t know the cause of something, therefore it doesn’t have a cause? When has that line of logic ever proved fruitful?

    Other than a thing always existing, if something comes from nothing that sounds pretty close to “magic” since in that case there is no future possibility of an explanation since “nothing caused it.”

    Nakashima:
    “Closed timelike curves?”

    But then you couldn’t say that the thing came into existence without a cause, because in that case it never would have “come into existence” — it would have always existed. Unless the “closed timelike curve” itself had a cause.

  128. 128
    dbthomas says:

    Hoki @ 124: You may find this Google search interesting:

    oil of ad hominem site:http://www.uncommondescent.com/

    Searching this site for the words “Darwinist”, “atheist”, and “materialist” will certainly yield many more examples of negative mockery on the part of the positive and polite design proponents implied by Jerry’s categorization of anti-ID folk. I also heartily recommend looking through ex-blogczar DaveScot’s past contributions to the discussions here.

    Here’s another relevant blast-from-the-UD-past:

    Flatulence removed from “The Judge Jones School of Law”

    I’d also recommend searching through Galapagos Finch’s output. He used to have an entire website devoted largely to negative mockery anti-ID folk, but alas, ’tis no more.

  129. 129
    dbthomas says:

    Sorry for that broken final link. Here it is in working order

  130. 130
    dbthomas says:

    CJYMan: According to current theory, virtual particles don’t have a cause in any meaningful sense. You may of course feel free to believe they do, but so far, it has resisted discovery and there is no evidence that it exists.

  131. 131
    dbthomas says:

    Vivid:

    Things just poof into existence. Looks like invoking magic to me.

    There no invocation at all. That’s the point. They are simply a consequence of quantum field theory, which must take the uncertainty principle into account, and their effects can be and are observed. The fundamental forces are in fact described as the exchange of virtual particles. I suppose you could say quantum uncertainty itself “causes” them, but that’s not particularly helpful. As well say “reality” causes them.

  132. 132
    vividbleau says:

    db: “I suppose you could say quantum uncertainty itself “causes” them, but that’s not particularly helpful. As well say “reality” causes them.”

    My point is that something causes them even if the cuases are mysterious to us. It soundsl like you are saying the same thing.

    Vivid

  133. 133
    vividbleau says:

    “My point is that something causes them even if the cuases are mysterious to us”

    I should have written

    My point is that something causes them even if the causes are mysterious to us. To assert the contrary is to embrace the idea that nothing causes them, that something comes from nothing.

    Vivid

  134. 134
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #120

    If you would could you explain how it is logically possible for something to have no cause?

    “Logically possible” means “can be true without breaking any of the laws of logic”. There is no law of logic that says every event has a cause.

    The universe is full of the unimaginable. Go back 200 years. Even the cleverest would have assumed it was somehow necessary that:

    The angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees

    If you observe two objects coming from exactly opposite directions one at speed x and the other at speed y then the speed of one relative to the other is x+y

    That everything has a position at a given moment

    Of course, since then all of these have been found to be false in some extraordinary contexts.

    We have already found events that apparently have no cause. There is no logical necessity for events to have a cause. You are just assuming it because you rarely meet events without causes in your life. It is not magic – remember I am only saying it is possible – I wait for firm evidence to see if it is true.

    A happy independence day to you too (although coming from the UK so my reasons for celebrating a bit different).

  135. 135
    CJYman says:

    dbthomas:
    “According to current theory, virtual particles don’t have a cause in any meaningful sense.”

    What part of the current theory proposes that virtual particles come from nothing? Last I checked they were a way to describe static fields. Where is the evidence that these fields are literally caused by nothing? They have a mathematical structure, do they not?

    The current theory of the quantum world is neither well understood nor complete and there are many different interpretations available. “According to current theory, the cause of virtual particles is not understood” would probably be a more accurate statement.

    dbthomas:
    “I suppose you could say quantum uncertainty itself “causes” them, but that’s not particularly helpful.”

    … and how does this relate to your assertion that “nothing” causes them — that something comes from nothing?

  136. 136
    vividbleau says:

    MK:”There is no logical necessity for events to have a cause”

    Let me be clear. You are saying that it is not illogical to say that something comes into being from nothing?

    MK:”A happy independence day to you too (although coming from the UK so my reasons for celebrating a bit different”

    My bad. I thought somewhere that I read that you were a Professor at Cornell and from that I assumed you were American.

    Vivid

  137. 137
    bornagain77 says:

    Hoki:
    And in what context did I call Levy an arrogant jerk?

    I thought it extremely proper to call him as such since he does act like a pompous know it all on this site, and yet when he is refuted he never admits the refutation of his convoluted facts.

    Thus, unlike Darwinists, I actually spoke a truth!

    And another thing that separates me from most darwinists, is I would be extremely happy to call him an arrogant jerk to his face!

    As well hoki, “arrogant jerk” is extremely small potatoes to the abuse I have suffered, over the years, at the hands of darwinists over at PT and PZ’s blog. For the vast majority of times I let the abuse of civility slide and “turn the other cheek”, but as one preacher once said I only got two cheeks!

    You may say as a Christian I should let people walk all over me, and maybe if I were perfect I would allow that, but I am far from such perfection and in fact am very much “saved by grace not by works”. Though I do not use that truth as an excuse to avoid trying to better myself.

  138. 138
    Hoki says:

    jerry:

    I just found some more examples:

    bornagain77 wrote:
    “…he does act like a pompous know it all on this site…”

    “Thus, unlike Darwinists, I actually spoke a truth! “

  139. 139
    mereologist says:

    Barb wrote:

    This is where your so-called reasoning completely goes awry. Let’s put the blame on who is really responsible, Mereologist.

    The Pharaoh of the time of Moses chose to stubbornly oppose God, and so God sent ten plagues, and finally had to wipe out Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red sea. All such were great evils, calamities, which entailed great suffering upon the Egyptians. But they were not wrongs. Pharaoh was the wrongdoer, and God was perfectly within his rights in thus punishing him and thereby settling the issue as to who is supreme.

    Barb,

    You haven’t addressed any of the points I raised in my replies to you and to IRQ Conflict.

    1. God hardens Pharaoh’s heart over and over during the ten plagues.

    2. No sane ruler would have failed to let the Hebrews go after three or four plagues at most. However, Pharaoh’s behavior makes sense given that God kept hardening his heart.

    3. Exodus specifically says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that “my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” God did it, and Exodus tells us why he did it.

    4. Even if the above were not true, and even if Pharaoh really did harden his own heart without interference from God (contrary to the account), how is it fair for the Egyptian people to be punished for Pharaoh’s stubborn decisions? They didn’t elect Pharaoh. They had no control over Pharaoh’s decisions. The story even tells us that Pharaoh’s servants implored him to let the Hebrews go, saying “knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” What kind of God would punish these innocent people who were urging Pharaoh to do the right thing? Why would God make them suffer? Why would God kill their firstborn children?

    It’s beyond me how anyone could argue that God is behaving morally in this story.

  140. 140
    Mark Frank says:

    #137

    Let me be clear. You are saying that it is not illogical to say that something comes into being from nothing?

    Well there is a difference between an uncaused event and something coming from nothing. But both are logically possible. I know it feels weird. But as I say the universe can be extraordinarly weird. Try allowing yourself to think about the possibility.

    My bad. I thought somewhere that I read that you were a Professor at Cornell and from that I assumed you were American.

    I think you were confusing me with Allen MacNeil – which is very flattering. I am not a professor of anything.

  141. 141
    vividbleau says:

    MK:”Well there is a difference between an uncaused event and something coming from nothing. But both are logically possible”

    It is not logically possible for something to come from nothing.To argue that something comes from nothing requires the denial of logic, specifically the law of non contradiction, the bedrock of science. The law states simply that A cannot be A and non A. (A-) at the same time and in the same relationship. Something can be A and B at the same time but not in the same relationship. I can be a father A and a son B at the same time but not in the same relationship.

    For something to come from nothing it must, in effect, create itself. Self creation is a logical and therefore rationally impossibility. For something to create itself, it must have the ability to be and not be at the same tmie and in the same relationship. For something to create itself it must be before it is. Something can be self existent without violating logic, but it cannot be self created

    MK:”Try allowing yourself to think about the possibility.”

    You mean like this?

    There is no use trying; one can’t believe impossible things.” (Alice)

    “I dare say you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” -Queen

    Vivid

  142. 142
    prhean says:

    Didn’t Richard Dawkins recently say something like there is a one in seven chance that God exists? Then he adjusted the number downward to one out of one hundred. Don’t remember the details but if I were debating Dawkins then Pascal’s wager would very much apply. Why wouldn’t Dawkins spend his life pursuing the one percent possibility of knowing God as opposed to devoting his life to convincing others to disbelieve?

    I thought these guys were supposed to driven by reason.

  143. 143
    Alan Fox says:

    There is no use trying; one can’t believe impossible things.” (Alice)

    “I dare say you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” -Queen

    Vivid

    Anyone here think they can decide what they belive?

  144. 144
    Alan Fox says:

    Oops:- believe

  145. 145
    vividbleau says:

    Alan: “Anyone here think they can decide what they believe?”

    Interesting question Alan.In the end I think we all believe what we most want to believe.

    I know that does not answer your question but it is somewhat related.

    Vivid

  146. 146
    William J. Murray says:

    I believe whatever I wish, regardless of evidence pro or con.

  147. 147
    William J. Murray says:

    David Kellogg:

    I’m not sure how I, as a product of physics (if I am nothing more than the product of physics), can be anything other than “my authentic self”. What else could I be, and how could I be other than whatever I am?

  148. 148
    William J. Murray says:

    BTW, I use the term “belief” in the following manner: “To act as if true.” Since I don’t believe in anything absolutely, the most I commit to when I believe anything is to act – and think – as if the thing is true, but to not be commited to it in any absolute sense.

    Beliefs are my tools, not my masters.

  149. 149
    David Kellogg says:

    William J. Murray, I’m not sure if your recent loopy comments are serious or if you’re trying to suggest in a mocking way how you imagine I must embrace beliefs. I try believe things tentatively, provisionally, but (as much as I can) on the basis of evidence. That doesn’t mean I my beliefs are noncommittal or whimsical.

  150. 150
    William J. Murray says:

    I’m not mocking you at all, David. I also believe things provisionally.

    However, I don’t understand your commitment to “evidence” when it comes to adopting a belief, or your assertion that this system correlates to an “authentic” life.

    First, I don’t understand how one can lead a “non-authentic” life, if they are just products of accumulative interactions of materials (physics).

    Second, from my perspective looking over the history of mankind, the odds of my beliefs being “true”, or corresponding to some actual reality, are very low (IMHO), especially when one looks over the fundamental paradigm shifts in history concerning the very essence of being and nature of our existence – not to mention what nature is, at a fundamental level, and even the mechanisms it operates through (discounting any god for the time being).

    I’m not the most intelligent person that ever lived in the world, nor the most informed; I’m not a great philosopher or scientist. I’m just a regular guy; I think the odds are against me figuring out what “reality” is, and stumbling upon true beliefs about it (out of billions throughout the history of Earth).

    Also, if my physicality is all that really exists, then holding beliefs that correspond to reality is of no ultimate importance (as attested by the billions of people that have lived and died in the history of earth that believed untrue things). So, why should I be committed to believing that which seems to correspond to reality, per se?

    I can see believing things that benefit me in some way, but I don’t see how “correspondence to reality” is in itself a meaningful goal, if my chances of such beliefs actually corresponding to reality are apparently quite low, and there is no ultimate or personally meaningful reason for me to even try to find such beliefs.

    However, you seem to think that this search for and accumulation of “approximately truthful” beliefs (i.e., close correspondence to reality) is the only way lead an “authentic life”, and that you find your system so compelling that you consider it “a lie” to live in any other way. You even seem distressed that I have apperently advocated simply believing what is convenient and comforting and enjoyable.

    Is there a reason you think that accumulating beliefs that are approximations to reality is the only way to lead an “authentic life”? Why do you find it so important? What does it get you? What is the point?

    You seem to think that it is self-evident, but I can’t see what is so important about believing “close approximations to reality” that one would prefer them to simply believing what is the most enjoyable, profitable, or helpful to believe.

  151. 151
    dbthomas says:

    Vivid @ 141:

    For something to create itself, it must have the ability to be and not be at the same tmie and in the same relationship.

    How do you feel about things existing in more than one place at a time? In other words, a particle that is both here and not here, and is also there and not there. This is no more or less logical than your “to be or not to be” dilemma. It is also a direct consequence of uncertainty, and whole atoms (namely, beryllium) have been placed into just such an “illogical” state. Quantum field theory, especially in the form of QED, is an extraordinarily well-confirmed theory, and while you may think there’s some additional explanation for phenomena like this (many in fact do), we have no evidence to suggest that there actually is, and so as illogical as you feel these things to be, you have to take seriously the idea that this may just be the way things are. Or are not, depending on when and where you look.

  152. 152
    David Kellogg says:

    William J. Murray,

    I’m fascinated.

    You seem to think that it is self-evident, but I can’t see what is so important about believing “close approximations to reality” that one would prefer them to simply believing what is the most enjoyable, profitable, or helpful to believe.

    Well, I don’t think it’s “self-evident.” Let’s just say that I would find it quite dissatisfying to embrace something of such global reach that seems very likely false. In fact, I don’t think I could believe in an afterlife even if I wanted to. And because I don’t think there is one, I don’t want to.

  153. 153
    Hoki says:

    Jerry, have you read the “contest question 7” thread?

  154. 154
    William J. Murray says:

    David,

    Reiteration doesn’t help me understand your point of view. I understand that you find it dissatisfying and do not want to believe things that you don’t think have the best correlation to reality.

    I don’t understand why.

    Again, they’re not necessarily going to be the most helpful, or enjoyable, or productive beliefs; they’re not likely to have significantly greater correspondence to “actual reality” than most other beliefs (when one considers that after a thousand years of technological advancement, what we currently believe to be true will likely be regarded as quaint myths from erroneous assumptions), and even if they do have a significantly greater correspondence to reality .. so what? What difference does that make? What’s the point?

    It’s not my intent to badger you, I just don’t understand your perspective here. Is “the truth” as it is defined as “close correlations to reality” meaningful to you in some way you can describe?

  155. 155
    vividbleau says:

    dbt151

    Interesting you deny the law of non contradiction yet use it in order to convince me that it does not apply to science and the indeterminacy principle. Typical invoke it when its convenient and deny its efficacy when its not.

    Anyway after reading your post I will try to take the Queens advice to Alice and try real hard to imagine 6 impossible things everyday before breakfast. Perhaps in a few weeks I too will embrace these great scientific principles that you do, magic, poofery and nothing did it.

    Vivid

  156. 156
    Bantay says:

    dbThomas @ 129

    You said…”Searching this site for the words “Darwinist”, “atheist”, and “materialist” will certainly yield many more examples of negative mockery on the part of the positive and polite design proponents implied by Jerry’s categorization of anti-ID folk.”

    I’m really glad you brought this up, since it is Darwinists themselves who have historically attached the term to themselves, including in scientific journals.

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....php?id=994

    …at least 39 times in the scientific journal “Nature”, among others.

    Also, the term “atheist” is in no way derogatory, unless atheists themselves are in the habit of being self-deprecating. What good reason does a person who believes God doesn’t exist have to insult him/herself by participating in membership of a national organization called “American Atheists”, which has the website atheists.org? Maybe there is some watered down version of the term? Why not just initialize it? ATST? Or just call it something more politically correct, like…Secular Humanism? Oh…somebody’s already tried that. Shucks.

    And finally, the term “materialist”. Referring to the armchair materialst’s (whoops) favorite scientific reference guide, Wiki, we see under the heading “Scientific Materialists”..the following names. Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkins, Jerry Fodor, Paul Churchland and others. Is Wiki wrong? *shudders at the thought*

    This is what happens when a world view begins to go out of style. The mere mention of the term (like materialism) that associates the idea with its adherents (materialists) eventually becomes derogotary to the adherents themselves.

  157. 157
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #142

    For something to come from nothing it must, in effect, create itself.

    Not true. The whole point is that this an event without a cause. Nothing creates it (not even itself). It just happens.

  158. 158
    Bantay says:

    Mark Frank @ 158

    You said “Nothing creates it (not even itself). It just happens.”

    Are you implying that something that does nothing (nothing itself) does something (creates itself?).

    William Lane Craig has an interesting reply to this topic, but I’ll make an abbreviated version of it.

    Mark and his friend are walking along in a forest and suddenly they both hear what sounds like a gunshot. Pow! (bang?)
    Mark exclaims..”What could have caused that?”
    Mark’s friend replies “Nothing!”
    and they both continue walking as if nothing had happened.

  159. 159
    dbthomas says:

    Bantay @ 157:

    Congratulations, you’ve understood my entire point. There is not a thing wrong with “Darwininst”, “Materialist”, “Atheist”, “Creationist”, “Christian” or any other label. They are primarily descriptive. I tried in vain to explain all this to Jerry on another thread, but he still insists that is simply inappropirate to use the term “creationist”. Clive appears to agree.

    And no, it has no fundamental connection to whether or not a world-view is in style. This often happens, I agree. It is not, however, universally the case.

  160. 160
    vividbleau says:

    MF 158

    “Not true.”

    True

    “The whole point is that this an event without a cause.”

    That is exactly what self creation is, an event ( effect) without a cause.

    “Nothing creates it”

    Nothing can create nothing. It (actually there is no it to nothing) has no causal power.There is no it there. This is an absurd and irrational statement….it’s unintelligible

    We cannot even concieve of nothing.Nothing is what rocks dream of.To even try to concieve of nothing you have to think of something.

    “It just happens.”

    Wow!! This is what science has degenerated to?? It just happens?Oops there’s that song going off in my head again ….Do you believe in magic da da da da…

    Vivid

  161. 161
    Bantay says:

    dbThomas @ 160

    Yeah, but if Darwinism was all the rage that they wished it was, then you wouldn’t hear anyone complaining about being called a “darwinist”. Only since Darwinism has been exposed to more public critique have they tried to distance themselves from the term.

    Regarding “creationism”, I do not find the term offensive at all. Like you, I agree it is more of a descriptive term. However, the term “creationist” has been used in the pejorative sense by ID critics who try to associate the term with ID (while never seeming able to show any religious premise of ID). Maybe they don’t know that there are some ID proponents who are atheist and agnostic (whoops! the secret is out!)

  162. 162
    Bantay says:

    vididbeau @ 161

    You said…”We cannot even conceive of nothing.”

    I’ll give it a go.

    “Nothing” is the absence of anything natural in the universe.

    If that definition is true (and I think most naturalists would agree it is), then the universe is necessarily the result of a non-natural cause.

  163. 163
    dbthomas says:

    Vivid @ 156:

    Interesting you deny the law of non contradiction yet use it in order to convince me that it does not apply to science and the indeterminacy principle.

    It’s more interesting that I didn’t deny it, and yet you claim I have. What part of “you have to take seriously the idea that this may just be the way things are” did you not understand? I am not denying that these phenomena may have causes as we normally understand the concept. I simply accept the possibility that our normal understanding of and intuitions about reality may not be correct in every situation and at every scale. Make no mistake: I do understand how problematic and paradoxical this notion is. That’s a good reason to be skeptical. It is not a reason to dismiss the possibility out of hand.

    Anyway after reading your post I will try to take the Queens advice to Alice and try real hard to imagine 6 impossible things everyday before breakfast.

    That’s a lovely strawman. What’s his name? You see, I’m not imagining things. Uncertainty is a fundamental feature of reality, confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. It explicitly allows things to just appear and disappear, or occupy two positions simultaneously, and even requires that this be so. But it tells us nothing about how this works, nor does it give us any inkling of a mechanism.

    Perhaps in a few weeks I too will embrace these great scientific principles that you do, magic, poofery and nothing did it.

    As opposed to magic, poofery and the Designer-not-necessarily-known-as-God did it?

    And, one last time: I do not “embrace” anything, by which I take it you mean “believe”. To continue this theme of seeming contradiction and superposition, I neither believe there is no cause for a virtual particle, nor do I believe there is one. I simply accept that what appears to be the case may actually be the case.

    I’ll leave you with some questions: are you absolutely sure that no entities are ever uncaused? Your beliefs do not require such a thing to exist? I.e., is the chain of causation infinite in either direction?

  164. 164
    vividbleau says:

    dbt 161

    Doubting Thomas

    “I do understand how problematic and paradoxical this notion is. That’s a good reason to be skeptical.”

    I am sincere when I say I am happy to read this.

    “It is not a reason to dismiss the possibility out of hand”

    But I do dismiss the possibility out of hand that something can come from nothing, that the law of noncontradiction is inviolable. Let me explain.

    I would suspect that the difference between you and I has to do with the prorities we assign between logic and empiricism. I may be wrong about this and please let me know if I am. However I would guess that for you the empirical supersedes logic. That is if the empirical gives evidence that contradicts logic you will throw logic overboard, that is you give the empirical more weight than logic.

    I on the other hand, in my hiearchy of importance put logic over the empirical. That is to say that there is no empirical evidence that would convince me something can come from nothing because that would violate logic so it cannot be correct. We have to be missing something, our knowledge must be incomplete. Am I accurately stating what are our evidential differences?

    “Uncertainty is a fundamental feature of reality, confirmed beyond reasonable doubt”

    Agreed.

    “It explicitly allows things to just appear and disappear, or occupy two positions simultaneously, and even requires that this be so. But it tells us nothing about how this works, nor does it give us any inkling of a mechanism.”

    To occupy two position simultaneoulsy or to tranverse space instantaneoulsy would violate the law of non contradiction therefore FOR ME there must be more going on based on our incomplete knowledge. remember for me logic trumps the empirical.

    Let me also say that I do not doubt that this appears to be what is going on. I am not saying that what we are observing are anything different than how you have explained it.

    “As opposed to magic, poofery and the Designer-not-necessarily-known-as-God did it?”

    To invoke something from nothing is magic , poofery ( to quote Mark Frank “it just happens”) and nothing did it. It is a perfect description. If people who embrace such nonsense take umbrage I would suggest they not embrace irrationality.

    “And, one last time: I do not “embrace” anything, by which I take it you mean “believe”. To continue this theme of seeming contradiction and superposition, I neither believe there is no cause for a virtual particle, nor do I believe there is one. I simply accept that what appears to be the case may actually be the case.”

    Mea culpa. If I misrepresented, and it appears that I have,I would hope you would accept my apologies.

    “I’ll leave you with some questions: are you absolutely sure that no entities are ever uncaused? Your beliefs do not require such a thing to exist? I.e., is the chain of causation infinite in either direction?”

    In 142 I stated “Something can be self existent without violating logic, but it cannot be self created” Self existence is an uncaused existence.

    It is not my beliefs that requires me to believe that a neccessary self existence must exist rather logic requires me to believe such an existence exists.

    Hope this helps and will facilitate a better dialog going forward.

    Vivid

  165. 165
    vividbleau says:

    “It is not my beliefs that requires me to believe that a neccessary self existence must exist rather logic requires me to believe such an existence exists.”

    Let me correct the above to

    It is not my beliefs that requires me to believe that a neccessary existence must exist rather logic requires me to believe such an existence exists.

    Vivid

  166. 166
    Mark Frank says:

    vividbleau

    I would suspect that the difference between you and I has to do with the prorities we assign between logic and empiricism.

    I think we must disagree of the meaning of the word “logic”. As I understand it there is no way that you can have different priorities between logic and empiricism. If something is logically impossible then it is no amount of empirical evidence can even begin to suggest it is true. It would like trying to find evidence that all swans are white and at least swan is black.

    The fact that we can imagine for something to appear without cause and even have evidence to support the proposition shows that it is logically possible. Just very strange – like triangles whose angles add up to less than 180 degrees.

    PS I think there was a misunderstanding in #158. When I say Nothing creates it I mean there is no thing which does the creating. I don’t mean that the absence of things does the creating. I mean it in the same sense of “nothing” as in “nothing phases him”. That doesn’t mean that the absence of things phases him – it means there is no thing capable of phasing him.

  167. 167
    Barb says:

    “God hardens Pharaoh’s heart over and over during the ten plagues.”

    Pharaoh was considered the direct descendent of the sun-god Ra. Admitting defeat would have dethroned him from the Egyptian pantheon.

    “No sane ruler would have failed to let the Hebrews go after three or four plagues at most. However, Pharaoh’s behavior makes sense given that God kept hardening his heart.”

    But Pharaoh repeatedly told Moses that he would let the Hebrews go and then changed his mind.

    Remember that the Hebrews were kept as slaves in Egypt. Are you going to suggest that Pharaoh’s keeping them as slaves is morally correct?

    “Exodus specifically says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that “my wonders may be “multiplied in the land of Egypt.” God did it, and Exodus tells us why he did it.”

    Also keep in mind that Israel sprung from Jacob, who was the descendent of Abraham. God promised Abraham in Genesis that his descendents would be a mighty nation. So, God’s causing the ten plagues in an attempt to get Pharaoh to let Israel go was one step in the development of that nation. You fail to see this historical narrative in the Old Testament.

    “ Even if the above were not true, and even if Pharaoh really did harden his own heart without interference from God (contrary to the account), how is it fair for the Egyptian people to be punished for Pharaoh’s stubborn decisions?”

    Oh, please. Think for a moment. A ruler’s actions always affect his or her people. How is it fair for us, the taxpayers, to bail out the financial industry when the decision was made by President Obama? How is it fair for people to starve to death in Africa when the warlords who control the country refuse to allow aid to be brought in?

    It’s not pleasant, but it’s reality. Start learning to deal with it.

    “They didn’t elect Pharaoh. They had no control over Pharaoh’s decisions. The story even tells us that Pharaoh’s servants implored him to let the Hebrews go, saying “knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” What kind of God would punish these innocent people who were urging Pharaoh to do the right thing? Why would God make them suffer? Why would God kill their firstborn children? “

    They were given the opportunity to let Israel go, but they didn’t. They suffered because of the stubbornness and selfishnesss of their ruler. This can also be proven by looking at any one of many nations today and in the past. God told them beforehand what would happen. He gave them the opportunity to forestall the plague by letting Israel go. But they didn’t.

    Remember, too, that being open to new ideas and different viewpoints means being flexible enough to modify your ideas in the light of new information or better insight. Are you willing to do that? We all have a tendency to cling to the beliefs that we’ve been brought up with but, if we’re going to continue to grow as thinkers, we have to modify our beliefs when evidence suggests that we should.

    You seem to want the scriptures to back you up. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen until you study them and examine the context. Otherwise, your repeated quote mining does nothing but prove that you really don’t know that much about the Bible.

    “It’s beyond me how anyone could argue that God is behaving morally in this story.”

    It’s beyond me how unbelievers can attempt to use the Bible to prove their worldview correct when, in fact, the Bible does just the opposite.

    Egypt was the dominant world power at the time and Israel was held in captivity. Is slavery good? Should God not have intervened and freed the slaves? Should God have allowed the Egyptians to think that their pantheon of anthropomorphic gods would save them instead of proving that he was the only true God?

    God made a promise to Abraham to multiply his seed, and that his seed would become a great nation. This was one step in the development of that nation. For you to stubbornly refuse to examine the context of the scriptures and continually harp on how bad you think God is crosses the line from ignorance to stupidity.

  168. 168
    Phinehas says:

    @mereologist

    Even if the folks at Apologetics Press were correct in their rationalization, the story of the plagues still depicts unjust and immoral behavior on God’s part.

    1. Sez who?

    2. So?

  169. 169
    Phinehas says:

    @Alan Fox

    Anyone here think they can decide what they believe?

    I’d say that you cannot help but decide what you believe. You have a choice about what you believe, but you don’t have a choice about choosing. 🙂

  170. 170
    vividbleau says:

    MF 167

    “I think we must disagree of the meaning of the word “logic”

    Yes we do.Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic has its own rules and laws such as the law of non contradiction, etc.

    “If something is logically impossible then it is no amount of empirical evidence can even begin to suggest it is true.”

    I agree.

    “The fact that we can imagine for something to appear without cause and even have evidence to support the proposition shows that it is logically possible”

    False. For something to come into existence without a cause would violate the law of non contradiction.

    Vivid

  171. 171
    mereologist says:

    I wrote:

    Even if the folks at Apologetics Press were correct in their rationalization, the story of the plagues still depicts unjust and immoral behavior on God’s part.

    Phinehas responded:

    Sez who?

    Anyone who thinks it is immoral to punish someone for something he or she didn’t do.

    Suppose we imprison you for a murder you did not commit. Will you appeal, or will you decide that we are acting morally and accept the sentence?

    So?

    If you want to worship an immoral God, be my guest. It’s a free country. Most of us find that idea appalling.

  172. 172
    mereologist says:

    Barb wrote:

    Pharaoh was considered the direct descendent of the sun-god Ra. Admitting defeat would have dethroned him from the Egyptian pantheon.

    Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart if it was unnecessary, as you claim? Isn’t God supposed to be omniscient?

    But Pharaoh repeatedly told Moses that he would let the Hebrews go and then changed his mind.

    Pharaoh didn’t change his mind. God changed Pharaoh’s mind. For example:

    Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the LORD your God to take this deadly plague away from me.” Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. And the LORD changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

    Exodus 10:16-20, NIV

    You wrote:

    Remember that the Hebrews were kept as slaves in Egypt. Are you going to suggest that Pharaoh’s keeping them as slaves is morally correct?

    Of course not. Where did you get that strange idea?

    So, God’s causing the ten plagues in an attempt to get Pharaoh to let Israel go was one step in the development of that nation. You fail to see this historical narrative in the Old Testament.

    Um, didn’t you notice that Pharaoh wanted to let the Hebrews go until God hardened his heart? Read Exodus 10:16-20 again.

    I wrote:

    Even if the above were not true, and even if Pharaoh really did harden his own heart without interference from God (contrary to the account), how is it fair for the Egyptian people to be punished for Pharaoh’s stubborn decisions?

    You replied:

    Oh, please. Think for a moment. A ruler’s actions always affect his or her people. How is it fair for us, the taxpayers, to bail out the financial industry when the decision was made by President Obama? How is it fair for people to starve to death in Africa when the warlords who control the country refuse to allow aid to be brought in?

    You don’t see the difference between those scenarios and the Exodus account, where God himself directly and personally punishes the Egyptians for the actions of Pharaoh — actions that God himself causes by hardening Pharaoh’s heart? Give me a break.

    I wrote:

    They didn’t elect Pharaoh. They had no control over Pharaoh’s decisions. The story even tells us that Pharaoh’s servants implored him to let the Hebrews go, saying “knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” What kind of God would punish these innocent people who were urging Pharaoh to do the right thing? Why would God make them suffer? Why would God kill their firstborn children?

    You responded:

    They were given the opportunity to let Israel go, but they didn’t.

    No, Pharaoh was given the opportunity to let Israel go, and Pharaoh didn’t. Why? Because God hardened his heart. Why should innocent Egyptians lose their beloved firstborn children because God chose to harden the heart of their leader?

    God told them beforehand what would happen. He gave them the opportunity to forestall the plague by letting Israel go. But they didn’t.

    No, God gave Pharaoh the opportunity to let the Hebrews go. When Pharaoh tried to do just that, God hardened his heart so that he changed his mind.

    Remember, too, that being open to new ideas and different viewpoints means being flexible enough to modify your ideas in the light of new information or better insight. Are you willing to do that?

    Yes. Are you?

    We all have a tendency to cling to the beliefs that we’ve been brought up with but, if we’re going to continue to grow as thinkers, we have to modify our beliefs when evidence suggests that we should.

    As I told you earlier, I was once a biblical inerrantist. After pondering the evidence for a long time, I decided the Bible was not perfect. After pondering the evidence even longer, I decided that Christianity was not true. After still more pondering, I became an agnostic, and then an atheist. You certainly don’t need to lecture me about being open to the evidence or about being willing to modify my beliefs.

    You seem to want the scriptures to back you up. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen until you study them and examine the context.

    You keep claiming that I am looking at the Exodus story out of context. What context are you referring to? What context makes it moral for God to punish innocent people for the actions of their ruler, actions that God himself causes by hardening the ruler’s heart? How can anyone consider that behavior to be moral?

    Consider this hypothetical example. Suppose that the US issues an edict to the Taliban in Afghanistan, demanding their surrender. The Taliban leaders refuse. The US leaders confer and decide that “we’re going to show the Taliban that you don’t mess with the US.” They issue an ultimatum to the Taliban leaders, saying “if you don’t surrender, we’ll launch airstrikes that will wipe 25 Afghan villages off the map.” The Taliban leaders refuse to surrender, and so 25 Afghan villages are obliterated the next day.

    If this happened, the world would be outraged at such an immoral act. It would be condemned and regarded as a war crime. Yet when God does something even worse, you defend it as moral.

    Read this:

    Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD.”

    Exodus 10:1-2, NIV

    He’s talking about punishing innocent people so that “you may know that I am the LORD.” This is moral, how?

    The sad thing is that as horrible and immoral as the hypthetical US action would be, it is actually morally superior to the action of God in Egypt. Why? Because the US “only” destroys 25 villages, not the entire nation, and the US, unlike God, cannot reach in and “harden the hearts” of the Taliban leaders.

    Barb, if it would be immoral for the US to do this to innocent Afghans just to prove that “you don’t mess with the US”, then why is it moral when God does something even worse for nothing more than bragging rights?

    I wrote:

    It’s beyond me how anyone could argue that God is behaving morally in this story.

    You responded:

    It’s beyond me how unbelievers can attempt to use the Bible to prove their worldview correct when, in fact, the Bible does just the opposite.

    I don’t use the Bible to prove my worldview. The Bible’s not reliable, after all.

    What I’m doing is showing that if you take the Bible to be inerrant, then the only rational conclusion is that God is immoral.

    It should be obvious by now that it is a huge mistake to regard the Bible as inerrant.

  173. 173
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #171

    “For something to come into existence without a cause would violate the law of non contradiction.”

    But that just isn’t true. Your argue turns on the additional premise:

    “For something to come into existence without a cause it must create itself”

    Well there is no law of logic that says this must be true. It might just not be there one second and there the next second. It might be extraordinary, you might regard it is effectively magic, but it is not logically impossible.

  174. 174
    vividbleau says:

    MF 172

    “It might just not be there one second and there the next second.”

    Then it is not simultaneous which does not violate the law of non contradiction.

    “But that just isn’t true.”

    Sigh.. One cannot have a discussion when someone denies facts. It is a FACT that to say that something can come into existence without a cause violates the law of non contradiction and is indeed a form of self creation. Self creation is something coming into existence without a cause. No amount of protest can change those facts Mark.

    Mark call me crazy but I have a personal policy that when facts dont matter there is nothing more to discuss.

    Vivid

  175. 175
    mereologist says:

    vividbleau writes:

    It is a FACT that to say that something can come into existence without a cause violates the law of non contradiction and is indeed a form of self creation.

    No. If it were self-creation, the thing would be its own cause. We are talking about something coming into existence without a cause. That does not violate the law of non-contradiction.

    If you think it does, show us why.

  176. 176
    vividbleau says:

    Here is why to posit that something can come into existence from nothing ie without a cause is a form of self creation.

    What does it mean to say something is self created? Basically put, it would mean that at one point there was nothing, and out of that nothing something created itself. But this is absurd,for if there is “nothing” then not even the thing in question existed. But if the thing in question didn’t exist then it would not be able to create itself. Self-creation, therefore, results in a logical contradiction: The thing in question exists and yet non-exists at the same time and in the same relationship, if it is self-created.

    To say that something exists and does not exist at the same time and in the same relationship violates the law of non contradiction and therfore is a form of self creation.

    “you might regard it is effectively magic”

    Actually I regard it as worse than magic. As I said earlier at least when the magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat at least there is there is something ie a magiciain and a hat!!!

    Vivid

    you might regard it is effectively magic

  177. 177
    mereologist says:

    vividbleau,

    As I already explained, for something to come into existence without a cause means just that. There is no cause.

    (You didn’t see my comment because it was being held in moderation.)

    That is not the same thing as self-creation, because in self-creation, a thing is its own cause.

    You may not like the idea of causeless things, but they do not violate the law of non-contradiction.

  178. 178
    Clive Hayden says:

    mereologist,

    Do you hold all of your beliefs provisionally? Even the belief that you should hold all beliefs provisionally?

  179. 179
    vividbleau says:

    “That is not the same thing as self-creation, because in self-creation, a thing is its own cause.”

    I have already explained why it is a form of self creation . Saying it isnt doesnt cut it.

    “You may not like the idea of causeless things, but they do not violate the law of non-contradiction.”

    I have demonstrated that it does deal with it.

    Vivid

  180. 180
    lamarck says:

    A good way to define nothing would be to say; whenever you think there could be a way for a thing to come from nothing, that “way” isn’t allowed, logically, empirically or anyway. So just keep trying with that formula and see how far you can go. Whenever you think you have a way, just remind yourself that it isn’t allowed. Because nothing’s definition means it isn’t allowed.

  181. 181
    Phinehas says:

    @mereologist:

    Phin: Sez who?

    Mere: Anyone who thinks it is immoral to punish someone for something he or she didn’t do.

    Are you saying that something is immoral because someone thinks it is?

    Sorry for the confusion regarding my second question. It was intended as a follow-on to whatever answer was given to my first question.

    As in: Someone thinks a thing is immoral.

    So?

  182. 182
    mereologist says:

    vividbleau wrote:

    I have already explained why it is a form of self creation.

    Yes, and I have already shown why your explanation is incorrect.

    Stated semi-formally, you claim that:

    P1. For a thing to be uncaused means that it is self-creating.

    P2. Self-creating things violate the law of non-contradiction.

    Conclusion: Therefore, uncaused things violate the law of non-contradiction.

    We agree on P2, which implicitly assumes that causality never acts backward in time. That seems eminently reasonable.

    However, P1 is false because it is self-contradictory. An uncaused thing has no causes by definition. A self-creating thing has a cause by definition — it is caused by itself. Therefore an uncaused thing cannot be self-creating.

    Since one of your premises is false, your argument fails.

  183. 183
    mereologist says:

    Clive Hayden asks:

    Do you hold all of your beliefs provisionally? Even the belief that you should hold all beliefs provisionally?

    Yes. Isn’t that the sensible position to take, given that we can never be absolutely, 100% sure that we haven’t made a mistake in our thinking?

  184. 184
    mereologist says:

    Phinehas asks:

    Are you saying that something is immoral because someone thinks it is?

    Yes, because subjective morality is the only kind that we have access to. I personally don’t believe that objective morality exists, but even if it did, we don’t have reliable access to it, so it might as well not exist.

    Before you embark on an argument for objective morality, let me stop you and ask you a couple of questions. Do you believe that it is immoral to punish someone for something that she did not do? Do you believe that it is immoral to punish someone for something you forced him to do against his will?

    Those are the moral issues at stake in the story of the ten plagues.

  185. 185
    Hoki says:

    jerry:

    So, jerry, are you going to back your claim up or not?

    Here is something else you wrote:

    Then there is a second type of challenger who does not budge an inch over time. They are easy to identify because of their attitudes and arguments. When rebuffed on one thing they move on to another but concede nothing.

    Is that what you are doing now?

  186. 186
    avocationist says:

    Oh Dave,

    There is another alternative. A loving God who is not going to punish you if you sincerely do not know what this reality contains. A God whose existence, should that prove to be the case, could never be bad news!

    And how are you supposed to believe if you don’t?

  187. 187
    Mark Frank says:

    #178

    “That is not the same thing as self-creation, because in self-creation, a thing is its own cause.”

    I have already explained why it is a form of self creation . Saying it isnt doesnt cut it.

    But you haven’t. You have just asserted that for a thing to happen without a cause it must have created itself. You have made no attempt to show this must be true. You just keep asserting it.

    Try it this way. The law of contradiction says that P and not-P cannot both be true. A quantum particle appears without a cause. What is P?

  188. 188
    vividbleau says:

    RE 183

    MF:”But you haven’t. You have just asserted that for a thing to happen without a cause it must have created itself.

    I have said two things. For something to come into existence from nothing without a cause ( nothing can cause nothing)

    1)It is a violation of the law of non contradiction and

    2) Is a FORM of self creation, in EFFECT self creation.

    Got that?

    “You have made no attempt to show this must be true. You just keep asserting it.”

    From 176

    “What does it mean to say something is self created? Basically put, it would mean that at one point there was nothing, and out of that nothing something created itself. But this is absurd,for if there is “nothing” then not even the thing in question existed. But if the thing in question didn’t exist then it would not be able to create itself. Self-creation, therefore, results in a logical contradiction: The thing in question exists and yet non-exists at the same time and in the same relationship, if it is self-created.

    To say that something exists and does not exist at the same time and in the same relationship violates the law of non contradiction and therfore is a form of self creation.”

    Mark would you care to tell me what about the above you find to be in error or are you just going to cotinue saying I just keep making assertions.

    I have explained my reasons for stating that for something to come into existence from nothing, without a cause, violates the law of non contradiction and is a form of self creation.

    So far the only one making bald face assertions is you.

    Mark I have two questions for you.

    1) Is self creation logically impossible?

    2)If logically impossible tell me why.

    Vivid

  189. 189
    vividbleau says:

    re 183

    “Try it this way. The law of contradiction says that P and not-P cannot both be true.”

    No this is not the law of non contradiction. I spelled out the law in 141

    “The law states simply that A cannot be A and non A. (A-) at the same time and in the same relationship. Something can be A and B at the same time but not in the same relationship. I can be a father A and a son B at the same time but not in the same relationship.”

    The law is not

    “The law of contradiction says that P and not-P cannot both be true”

    It says that P cannot be P and non P (-P)at the SAME TIME and in the SAME RELATIONSHIP. You cant even get the law right and your lecturing me.

    Here is a suggestion for the future try reading what I write.

    Vivid

  190. 190
    Mark Frank says:

    #184 and #185

    1)It is a violation of the law of non contradiction and

    2) Is a FORM of self creation, in EFFECT self creation

    I absolutely understand that this is what you are saying. But I disagree with (2) and (1) relies on (2). Yes – self creation is a logical contradiction – but it does not follow that because something appears without a cause that it created itself.

    You define what (2) is but you don’t give any reason why it must be true.

    My statement of the law of self-contradiction is the usual way of expressing the law and is just a more concise way of expressing yours (I did study logic at uni). But we can use your long version if you like:

    It says that P cannot be P and non P (-P)at the SAME TIME and in the SAME RELATIONSHIP.

    This a bit muddled as to whether P is an object or a predicate – but I get the general idea.

    Now suppose a quantum particle appears without a cause. What exactly is P?

  191. 191
    vividbleau says:

    RE 186

    “Yes – self creation is a logical contradiction”

    I asked you two questions. Tell me why it is a logical contradiction.

    Vivid

  192. 192
    vividbleau says:

    RE 186

    “I absolutely understand that this is what you are saying. But I disagree with (2) and (1) relies on (2).”

    Then ignore it because 1 does not rely on 2 at all. It stands on its own merits. To say that something that comes into existence from nothing ie without a cause violates the law of non contradiction AND is a form of self creation. It does not rely on self creation for its validity. One could just say it violates the law of non contradiction if they wanted to.

    Vivid

  193. 193
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #188.

    If (1) is a contradiction then using your definition of a contradiction:

    “The law states simply that A cannot be A and non A. (A-) at the same time and in the same relationship. ”

    What is A? (remember you are not using self-creation)

  194. 194
    Mark Frank says:

    #187

    “Yes – self creation is a logical contradiction”

    I asked you two questions. Tell me why it is a logical contradiction.

    I am not sure why you are asking me this question. You answered it yourself. For X to create X it must exist shortly before it creates X. Therefore, there must be a time when the proposition “X exists” must be both true and false.

    But of course I am not challenging this. I just don’t think that “X comes into existence without a cause” entails that “X creates itself”.

  195. 195
    vividbleau says:

    RE 190

    “I am not sure why you are asking me this question. You answered it yourself.”

    Is this the answer you are refering to? Am I to understand you have no problems with my answer?

    “It is not logically possible for something to come from nothing.To argue that something comes from nothing requires the denial of logic, specifically the law of non contradiction, the bedrock of science. The law states simply that A cannot be A and non A. (A-) at the same time and in the same relationship. Something can be A and B at the same time but not in the same relationship. I can be a father A and a son B at the same time but not in the same relationship.

    For something to come from nothing it must, in effect, create itself. Self creation is a logical and therefore rationally impossibility. For something to create itself, it must have the ability to be and not be at the same tmie and in the same relationship. For something to create itself it must be before it is. Something can be self existent without violating logic, but it cannot be self created”

    Vivid

  196. 196
    Mark Frank says:

    #191

    That is not the answer I had in mind. But let’s not get drawn into a quibble as to whether you already answered it – my answer is as in #190.

    For something to come from nothing it must, in effect, create itself.

    This is (2) as discussed above in #184 and #186 above. As I have said many times I disagree and you still have not provided any evidence or reason – you just assert it.

    Self creation is a logical and therefore rationally impossibility. For something to create itself, it must have the ability to be and not be at the same tmie and in the same relationship. For something to create itself it must be before it is. Something can be self existent without violating logic, but it cannot be self created

    You have said all this before and I have said I agree with it. Self-creation is impossible. It is simply the initial premise I disagree with. I don’t think self-creation is entailed by the lack of a cause.

    In #188 you said:

    Then ignore it because 1 does not rely on 2 at all. It stands on its own merits. To say that something that comes into existence from nothing ie without a cause violates the law of non contradiction AND is a form of self creation. It does not rely on self creation for its validity. One could just say it violates the law of non contradiction if they wanted to.

    Show me the contradiction without referring to self-creation. What is it that is both true and false?

    Self creation is a logical and therefore rationally impossibility. For something to create itself, it must have the ability to be and not be at the same tmie and in the same relationship. For something to create itself it must be before it is. Something can be self existent without violating logic, but it cannot be self created

  197. 197
    Mark Frank says:

    Please ignore last paragraph of #192 which I accidentally left in after cutting and pasting.

  198. 198
    vividbleau says:

    MF: “I am not sure why you are asking me this question. You answered it yourself. For X to create X it must exist shortly before it creates X. Therefore, there must be a time when the proposition “X exists” must be both true and false.”

    This is what I understand you to be saying. Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible because if X does not exist before creating ( causing) X then this would violate LNC. Is this a fair reading?

    Vivid

  199. 199
    Mark Frank says:

    This is what I understand you to be saying. Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible because if X does not exist before creating ( causing) X then this would violate LNC. Is this a fair reading?

    Yes – except I am not quite sure what the “causation” in brackets means. But of course I deny that having no cause entails self-creation. And you have said that self-creation is not required to show the contradiction.

    I am still waiting for either:

    1) Some proof that lack of causation entails self-creation

    2) An illustration of why the lack of a cause leads to a contradiction, unless you accept the premise that lack of a cause entails self-creation

    I suspect I am not going to get either …

  200. 200
    vividbleau says:

    RE 195

    “I suspect I am not going to get either …”

    Interesting …my desire for clarification in order to respond more cogently is being viewed as a dodge?

    Of course I already know that there isnt anything that I am going to say that will change your mind for several reasons the principal one being your belief in magic. Only irrational people believe in magic thus I have very low expectations of presenting anything to change your position since I will be presenting rational arguments. I have as much chance of convincing a flat earther that the earth is round as I do you that indeed to say something comes into existence from nothing is illogical.

    No I a not writing to convince you because from a practical matter the ultimate judges are the onlookers. They will judge for themselves and that is the audience that I am concerned about.

    Since I do not have access to this blog at my office I do not know when today you can expect my reply. If I can find time to get home midday I will. Rest assured you will be hearing from me.

    Vivid

  201. 201
    vividbleau says:

    One final thought before I go out the door.

    I am rather surprised that you are not faimiliar that what you propose ‘something from nothing” based on quantum physics is generally recognized by the theories proponets that indeed QM observations involve logical impossibilites.

    QM prompted Neils Bohrs dictum “A great truth is a truth of which the contrary is also a truth” Based on QM Bohrs embraced the abrogation of the law of non contradiction.

    The illogic of QM was one of the problems that Einstein could not accept ” Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that is not yet the real thing”

    You might read dbt’s post’s..this from 163

    “I do understand how problematic and paradoxical this notion is. That’s a good reason to be skeptical. It is not a reason to dismiss the possibility out of hand.”

    I suspect dbt is well aware of the problem reconciling logic ( the LNC)and QM. It seems that those who are most involved understand that QM contradicts LNC.

    Off to work.

    Vivid

  202. 202
    SpitfireIXA says:

    I noticed Echidna disappeared from the argument. Trying to define objective truth out of existence is an exercise that can only survive the rarified atmosphere of the cocktail party or philosophy department back room.

    Objective truth: “SpitfireIXA posted in this thread.”

  203. 203
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #196 and #197

    Neither of these posts contain the requested proofs. Possibly this is something you are going to supply when you get back from work?

    As I said I suspect I will never get them. That’s because such proofs do not exist. Whether this is a dodge on your part is not for me to judge.

    Even if you don’t believe you will change my mind surely your chances of convincing a “floating voter” are increased if you offer some kind of evidence or support for these two statements. So far all you have done is reiterate them.

    For completeness I am rewriting the two assertions to be as unambiguously as I can manage:

    (1) If something comes into existence without a cause then this logically entails that it must have created itself

    (2) Even if you do not accept (1) then for something to come into existence without a cause is a logical contradiction

    The more determined reader might want to check through the many comments above to confirm that you have not offered any support for either statement.

  204. 204
    Clive Hayden says:

    mereologist,

    ——“Yes. Isn’t that the sensible position to take, given that we can never be absolutely, 100% sure that we haven’t made a mistake in our thinking?”

    “Never” means 100%. I baited you with this question, I have to admit.

  205. 205
    R0b says:

    “Never” means 100%. I baited you with this question, I have to admit.

    Ha ha! Excellent baiting!

    But where’s the hook? Have you exposed a contradiction? Can’t mereologist believe, without being 100% sure, that something will never happen?

  206. 206
    Clive Hayden says:

    R0b,

    ——“But where’s the hook? Have you exposed a contradiction? Can’t mereologist believe, without being 100% sure, that something will never happen?”

    Sure, but drop the phrase, “we can never”.

  207. 207
    R0b says:

    Clive:

    Sure, but drop the phrase, “we can never”.

    Why? Is “we can never” synonymous with “I’m 100% sure that we can never”?

  208. 208
    Clive Hayden says:

    R0b,

    Yes. It is, because it has no hint of contingency or provisionality in it.

  209. 209
    R0b says:

    Clive, thank you. It’s helpful to know how you interpret what you read. It’s also useful to know that all of the positions you express are non-provisional (with the exception of those that you express with a hint of provisionality). Now we know not to waste our time providing logic or evidence against your immutable beliefs.

  210. 210
    R0b says:

    P.S. Mereologist has said that he holds all beliefs provisionally. Why would you think that this global declaration doesn’t apply to individual statements that don’t include their own hint of provisionality?

  211. 211
    Rude says:

    Pascal’s wager is reality—we make it whether we want to or not—and Dave adds the interesting twist of taking our odds from the greatest living scientists (the odds are of course much better if taken from the greatest scientists who have ever lived).

    But some pooh-pooh Pascal’s wager as a talking point for atheists. They absolutely know that their religion is true and should be presented as such apart from any assessment of risk and reward. Ditto for the atheist.

    But life is full of risks and there are many things that might be fun, chic or otherwise ego titillating but which ultimately yield to hurt and despair, and therefore the wise assess those risks in order to avoid the hurt and reap as much of life’s rewards as possible. Is there a God? Is there justice beyond the grave? And if so is it according to some mechanistic computation of karma? Or is there a Personality whom we could anger?

    Is the risk of ridiculing the God of our fathers worth the reward of the applause or our peers?

    One doesn’t want to die, as Qoheleth observes, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” This, as the exegetes tell us, is from the perspective of our experience. No one really knows for absolute sure what lies beyond the grave.

    Anyone who truly believes that heaven beckons at the death of the righteous—and that it is so much more wonderful than the mundane existence we endure here now—might be tempted to value death over life (perhaps even proclaim himself “pro-choice”?). The problem here is that said doctrine is not biblical, as N. T. Wright argues in Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (HarperOne, 2008). Many disgruntled with established religion find it hard to swallow that a good God would consign anyone to eternal life in absolute anguish and torment, for none of us asked to be born. If God really wanted us to believe in him, then why this “hiding of the face” (hester panim) of Scripture?

    The point here is that we do not know everything, confusion reigns in religion as much as in “science”, and each of us must assess the potential risks and rewards of our actions as we chart our course in this world and for the one beyond.

    Sheldon Lee Glashow, strangely not ashamed to be listed among The Enthusiastic Brights, says repeatedly in The Charm of Physics (Touchstone Books, 1991), that no scientist ever discovers anything significant unless he somehow knows deep in his bones, all evidence to the contrary, that things are good. It’s the old notion that beauty is the best guide to the truth. And so whereas hope springs eternal in the human breast, those who love life will hope that life is not just a cruel tease—that the purposefulness that permeates the cosmos bespeaks a larger purpose wherein beauty and good triumph.

    And so we make Pascal’s wager on way or another whether we like it or not.

  212. 212
    Clive Hayden says:

    R0b,

    ——“Clive, thank you. It’s helpful to know how you interpret what you read. It’s also useful to know that all of the positions you express are non-provisional (with the exception of those that you express with a hint of provisionality). Now we know not to waste our time providing logic or evidence against your immutable beliefs.”

    Thank you. It’s helpful to know that you cannot tell the difference between logic and belief.

  213. 213
    allanius says:

    As Dave’s post suggests (I think), the reason for the poll numbers is that science is a religion. Beginning with the holy trinity of Galileo, Bacon & Descartes, science crossed over from the pursuit of objective fact to faith in the power of science to redeem human existence and provide knowledge of truth.

    This explains why so many self-identified scientists are willing to wager unwisely on Pascal. They are looking at the question through the eyes of faith, not reason. It also explains the white-hot rhetoric of Dawkins, Provine, Myers, Harris, and their acolytes on this blog. True believers are willing to take chances and look foolish. (Al Gore, call home.)

    ID is on the rise precisely because faith in science is waning. No one outside the cradle of the academy takes Marx or Freud seriously as “scientists” anymore. Even Darwin has lost his fearsomeness. In the past, his theory was sacrosanct. Laughing was not permitted. Now microbiology and genetics are making iconoclasm hip.

    Science is losing its cachet, just as philosophy did five hundred years ago, because it failed on its promise to make men happy. It reached its pinnacle with Einstein, the “person of the century,” and now looks on in dread as the weaknesses in its narrative are exposed.

    Resistance and rear-guard actions are futile. Science had its day in the sun. Now the ritual invocation of the word “scientist” in the media produces the opposite effect from what is intended: not awe, but a yawn.

  214. 214
    Barb says:

    Mereologist:
    “Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart if it was unnecessary, as you claim? Isn’t God supposed to be omniscient?”

    I didn’t say it was unnecessary.

    “You don’t see the difference between those scenarios and the Exodus account, where God himself directly and personally punishes the Egyptians for the actions of Pharaoh — actions that God himself causes by hardening Pharaoh’s heart? Give me a break.”

    You keep misconstruing this account and I can’t fathom why.

    “Yes. Are you?”

    Absolutely, once someone has given me good reason to think otherwise.

    “What context are you referring to? What context makes it moral for God to punish innocent people for the actions of their ruler, actions that God himself causes by hardening the ruler’s heart? How can anyone consider that behavior to be moral?”

    Why do atheists like yourself refuse to examine the context of the Bible verses they misquote?
    I have explained this already. Read my post.

    “I don’t use the Bible to prove my worldview. The Bible’s not reliable, after all.”

    Then why did you quote Exodus to begin with?

    “What I’m doing is showing that if you take the Bible to be inerrant, then the only rational conclusion is that God is immoral.”

    Not if you examine the context of the verses. Not if you read the Bible with the goal of understanding not only what happened but why it happened. Not if you read the Bible with an open mind.

    “It should be obvious by now that it is a huge mistake to regard the Bible as inerrant.”

    It’s a huge mistake to debate with atheists who refuse to examine anything that might disagree with their worldview.

    “Yes, because subjective morality is the only kind that we have access to. I personally don’t believe that objective morality exists, but even if it did, we don’t have reliable access to it, so it might as well not exist.”

    There is no objective morality? So raping a child is sometimes okay, or is it always a horrible, despicable act?

    “Before you embark on an argument for objective morality, let me stop you and ask you a couple of questions. Do you believe that it is immoral to punish someone for something that she did not do? Do you believe that it is immoral to punish someone for something you forced him to do against his will?
    Those are the moral issues at stake in the story of the ten plagues.”

    Asked and answered. Try again.

  215. 215
    vividbleau says:

    Mark before I start I think it would be beneficial to summarize our
    respective positions.

    My position:

    That something can come into existence from nothing violates LNC and is a form of self creation (causation)

    Your position:

    Something can come from nothing. That something can be created without a cause by nothing. “Nothing creates it.” # 157.

    That something from nothing is logically possible. “Well there is a
    difference between an uncaused event and something coming from nothing.
    But both are logically possible” # 140.

    If “something is logically impossible then it is no amount of empirical
    evidence can even begin to suggest it is true” #166.

    Self creation (causation) is logically impossible because self creation
    (causation) violates LNC.

    What we both agree on is that a violation of LNC is a logical impossibility.

    Now to the matters at hand.

    Mark when I asked you why self creation was illogical you said.

    “For X to create X it must exist shortly before it creates X. Therefore,
    there must be a time when the proposition “X exists” must be both true
    and false.”

    When asked if it was a fair reading of the above to understand what you
    said as “Self creation (causation) is logically impossible because if
    X does not exist before creating (causing) X then this would violate
    LNC” You said “Yes – except I am not quite sure what the “causation” in brackets means”

    BTW the causation in brackets means create. To create something is to be the cause of something doncha think?

    So the following.

    1) Self creation (causation) is logically impossible because if X does
    not exist before creating (causing) X this violates LNC.

    What does it mean to say “if X does not exist” ? What is this X that does not exist? X stands for something. What does it stand for? You would think it stands for the same X that this X is or is not creating. What is this X that exists that the other X is or is not creating? The X stands for the quantum particle you refer to in 187 . “A quantum particle appears without a cause.”

    Lets revisit what you agree is a correct understanding of what it means to violate LNC. Also remember that you also agree that it is logically impossible to posit anything that would result in the violation of LNC.

    Self creation (causation) is logically impossible because if
    X does not exist before creating (causing) X then this would violate
    LNC.

    Now if the X is a quantum particle it is valid to insert “quantum particle” where we see X.

    Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible if the quantum particle does not exist before creating ( causing) the quantum particle then this would violate LNC.

    When you put it like this you have some real problems because you admit that the quantum particle does not exist! You have an existence of a quantum particle from a quantum particle that does not exist. Yet you say that if this is the case this would violate LNC and thus is logically impossible.

    Now when pressed on this you say in so many words “I am talking about self creation here and since I am not positing that the quantum particle that doesn’t exist is creating the quantum particle that does exist there is no self creation going on. The cause of the quantum particle that does exist is caused by nothing so there is no self creation at all. Furthermore a quantum particle caused by nothing is not logically impossible. Since there is no self creation there is no logical problem”

    So it is not the quantum particle that is the X in “if
    X does not exist” According to you the X is nothing.

    So now we need to insert nothing where before we inserted “quantum particle”

    Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible if nothing does not exist before creating ( causing) the quantum particle then this would violate LNC.

    This is very interesting. Lets parse this some more. It is redundant to say nothing does not exist since one of the definitions of nothing according to my Oxford Dictionary is “what does not exist” !!!

    Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible if nothing exists if nothing exists before creating ( causing) the quantum particle then this would violate LNC.

    There is no need to say the same thing twice when once will do.

    Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible if nothing exists before creating ( causing) the quantum particle then this would violate LNC.

    Mark I agree with you!!! This what I understood you to say and you agreed it is a correcting understanding of what you mean. The problem is that I have been saying this for days and you have been telling me that my reasoning is faulty for days!!

    Pick your poison Mark. X is either the quantum particle in which case even you would agree that this is self creation ( causation) thus logically impossible. Or X is as you say is “nothing” which one of its definitions is “what does not exist” Either way you go you have a violation of LNC which you admit is logically impossible.

    BTW you might have an interest in the other definitions of nothing according to Oxford University Dictionary. They are “not anything“, “no thing“, “non existence”

    We can also analyze things in a different way.

    To say X does not exist is the same as saying X has no existence. If X
    has non existence it is nothing and the X stands for nothing. Since a non
    existence is no thing i.e. nothing and X stands for nothing, to say
    nothing exists is no different than saying X does not exist.

    To say X exists is to say X has existence. Existence is something; To
    say X exists is no different than saying something exists.

    This being the case

    1) There is no difference between saying X does not exist or saying
    nothing exists. There is no difference between saying X exists or saying
    something exists.

    There is no difference between saying “Self creation (causation) is
    logically impossible because if X does not exist before creating
    (causing) X then this would violate LNC” Or saying the following.

    2)Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible because if nothing
    exists before creating ( causing) something this would violate LNC.

    Now its important to point out why you say self creation is logically
    impossible. You did not say it was logically impossible because the same
    thing that exists caused its own existence. According to you it is
    logically impossible because “if nothing exists before creating (
    causing) something this would violate LNC.

    Once again this is of course what I have been saying all along.

    Let me direct my attention to my position that to say something can come into existence is
    also “in effect self creation” and in another post “a form of self
    creation”.

    Mark I try to be precise thus when I use a terms like “in effect” or a
    form of” I do so for a reason. I am well aware that self creation in its
    purest sense is when like creates its exact replica. For instance an
    elephant creates itself. Here we have the claim that the same elephant
    that exists is the same elephant that created its existence. It is for
    this reason that I invoked the terms “in effect” or “a form of”.

    However it is not the exact replica that supposedly causes its own
    existence that makes self creation illogical. It is that there is NO
    existence, (i.e. nothing, what does not exist) causing the existence, (i.e. the something)
    that triggers the violation of LNC. The same reason why self creation is
    illogical is the same reason why proposing that something can come into
    existence from nothing is illogical, they both violate LNC. Thus my
    statement “It is not logically possible for something to come from
    nothing….requires the denial of logic, specifically the law of non
    contradiction”” and my statement “For something to come from nothing it
    must, in effect, create itself” stands!!!

    Vivid

  216. 216
    Phinehas says:

    @mereologist:

    Phinehas asks:

    Are you saying that something is immoral because someone thinks it is?

    Yes, because subjective morality is the only kind that we have access to. I personally don’t believe that objective morality exists, but even if it did, we don’t have reliable access to it, so it might as well not exist.

    Before you embark on an argument for objective morality, let me stop you and ask you a couple of questions. Do you believe that it is immoral to punish someone for something that she did not do?

    According to your admission above, if I think that it is moral to punish someone for something that she did not do, then it is. Is that correct?

    As it happens, I do think it is moral to punish someone for something that she did not do. Thus, following your statement above, it is in fact moral to punish someone for something that she did not do.

  217. 217
    R0b says:

    I won’t presume to speak for Mark, who speaks very well for himself, but I’ll hazard a response to Vivid.

    All contradictions can be expressed as “A and NOT A”. Here’s how we do it with self-creation:

    (1) For X to cause an event, X must exist before the event occurs.
    (2) For X to be created, X must not exist before the creation event.
    (3) Define A as “X existed before the creation event”.
    (4) From (1) and (2), self-creation implies A and NOT A.

    How do you define A for something that comes into existence without a cause?

    And if your definition includes the term “nothing”, it should match Mark’s explicit usage so as to not equivocate. See #166, as well as the proof that a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness. To say “nothing interested him” means that he wasn’t interested in anything. Likewise, when we say “nothing caused it”, it means that it wasn’t caused, not that it was caused by a non-existent entity.

  218. 218
    vividbleau says:

    “I won’t presume to speak for Mark,”

    But I see you are anyway.

    I find it curious that after 216 posts without a peep from you, you all of a sudden have something to say. It would have been nice to have heard from you earlier.

    “And if your definition includes the term “nothing”, it should match Mark’s explicit usage so as to not equivocate See #166,”

    One of the things one must do in order to equivocate is have the intent to decieve. So now I am a deciever. Let the character assasination begin from one who has not said anything in 216 posts.

    You refer me to 166, one of multiple back and forth posts between Mark and I, which I guess is to show me where I equivocated.

    This is part of what Mark said

    “PS I think there was a misunderstanding in #158. When I say Nothing creates it I mean there is no thing which does the creating.”

    No thing is nothing.

    “When I say Nothing creates it I mean there is no thing (nothing) which does the creating”

    Now thats helpfull.Is this the part where I equivocate?

    In this part Mark says

    “I don’t mean that the absence of things does the creating. I mean it in the same sense of “nothing” as in “nothing phases him”. That doesn’t mean that the absence of things phases him – it means there is no thing capable of phasing him.”

    Here Mark is saying that when he says nothing he means something. To say that nothing phases someonse is not to say that there are no things (nothings)that a person is dealing with rather there are things that a person is dealing with but they do not phase him.

    If this is what Mark means when he says “Nothing creates it.” then the “nothing” is actually “something”. One is left to wonder why Mark calls something nothing? Why not call it what it is which is “something” To call what is actually something nothing is quite bizzare.

    Furthermore if it is the case that when Mark says “Nothing creates it” he means “Something creates it” all this back and forth would have been avoided.

    Vivid

  219. 219
    Mark Frank says:

    Vivid

    Thank you for at least attempting to come up with arguments to support your proposition, although I doubt you are going to persuade many floating voters with this lot. I really tried hard to take your comment seriously and understand the thinking behind it. But I am afraid there were so many fallacies and gobbledygook that I gave up. You weren’t by any chance using illegal substances when you wrote it?

    I will give a few examples – then perhaps we should leave this topic.

    When you put it like this you have some real problems because you admit that the quantum particle does not exist! You have an existence of a quantum particle from a quantum particle that does not exist. Yet you say that if this is the case this would violate LNC and thus is logically impossible.

    Does not exist when? It does not exist at one moment and then exists at another. This isn’t a problem. It is exactly what I have been claiming is possible. I did not say this would violate the LNC. It is of course a problem if it exists and does not exist at the same time, and self-creation entails this, which is exactly why I dismiss self-creation.

    So it is not the quantum particle that is the X in “if X does not exist” According to you the X is nothing.

    So now we need to insert nothing where before we inserted “quantum particle”

    Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible because if nothing does not exist before creating ( causing) the quantum particle then this would violate LNC.

    I don’t agree with this step at all. If you change X to refer to “nothing” rather than the particle then the sentence is no longer true.

    Your argument is a bit like this:

    “All swans are white. A swan is black.” is a contradiction.

    You claim nothing is black. Therefore we can substitute “nothing” instead of “swan” above and get

    “All swans are white. Nothing is black.” is a contradiction.

    The remainder of your first argument rests on this fallacy.

    To say X does not exist is the same as saying X has no existence. If X has non existence it is nothing and the X stands for nothing. Since a non existence is no thing i.e. nothing and X stands for nothing, to say nothing exists is no different than saying X does not exist.

    This is fairly priceless. So to say nothing exists is no different from saying the King of France does not exist? As it happens there is no King of France – so nothing exists!

    There is no difference between saying “Self creation (causation) is logically impossible because if X does not exist before creating (causing) X then this would violate LNC” Or saying the following.

    2)Self creation ( causation) is logically impossible because if nothing exists before creating ( causing) something this would violate LNC.

    This repeats the argument and therefore the fallacy from above.

    Now its important to point out why you say self creation is logically impossible. You did not say it was logically impossible because the same thing that exists caused its own existence. According to you it is logically impossible because “if nothing exists before creating (causing) something this would violate LNC.

    But I didn’t say that. I said it was impossible because X (the object being created) does not exist before X is created. It was you who wrongly substituted the word “nothing” instead.

    And so on ….

  220. 220
    R0b says:

    Vivid:

    But I see you are anyway.

    No, I’m not.

    I find it curious that after 216 posts without a peep from you, you all of a sudden have something to say. It would have been nice to have heard from you earlier.

    Yes, it would be nice to have time to keep up on all of the threads on this site. If latecomers aren’t welcome in this discussion, just let me know and I’ll bow out.

    One of the things one must do in order to equivocate is have the intent to decieve.

    I didn’t mean equivocation in the sense of a deliberate trickery. There was no charge of deceit — sorry for the ambiguity.

    You refer me to 166, one of multiple back and forth posts between Mark and I, which I guess is to show me where I equivocated.

    No. It was to remind you of Mark’s usage of the word “nothing” so you could avoid unintentional equivocation if you express the alleged contradiction in the form “A and NOT A”.

    The proof I referred to in #217 is as follows:

    – Nothing is better than eternal happiness.
    – A ham sandwich is better than nothing.
    – Therefore, a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness.

    I trust you see the equivocation in that syllogism.

    So the question is: Can you state your contradiction in the form “A and NOT A” without committing a similar fallacy (unintentionally, of course)?

  221. 221
    Rude says:

    Did somebody mention God hardening Pharaoh’s heart?

    It does say that—at least 19 times just in the book of Exodus—it’s as though the king of Egypt didn’t have it in him to carry through on what he determined to do. The opposite seems to be true of the king of Assyria (Isaiah 10:7),

    Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.

    No mention of God hardening his heart—just (verse 12),

    Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.

    It’s as though even then there was tyranny in the East—as when it says of the final fall of Babylon (Isaiah 14:16-17),

    They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

    In the West, however, there was technological advancement, vast trade and wealth, and so the word to the prince of Tyre was (Ezekiel 28:2-5),

    Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: Behold, … there is no secret that they can hide from thee: With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches …

  222. 222
    vjtorley says:

    On the subject of Pharaoh’s hardness of heart, it occurred to me that the Jews, who have meditated on the book of Exodus for thousands of years, should be able to provide an interesting perspective on this vexing theological conundrum.

    And I was right. While browsing the Web, I came across an interesting response by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg to the question, Did Pharaoh have the ability to release the Israelites? The answer given is so thought-provoking that it deserves to be quoted in full:

    Did Pharaoh have the ability to release the Israelites?

    by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

    Free Choice is the essential component which justifies the notion of reward and punishment. It would be inappropriate to punish a robot for performing an immoral act which it was programmed to do. Nor would one reward a stove for cooking a sumptuous meal, or a bee for producing delicious honey. Humans, on the other hand, are rewarded and punished for their actions because they choose to do good or evil. This is why the story of Moses and Pharaoh has always puzzled Jewish philosophers: How could Pharaoh be punished for refusing to comply with G-d’s demands, if G-d Himself “hardened his heart”? To borrow a line from our Patriarch Abraham: “Will the Judge of the entire earth not perform justice?!”

    Many interesting answers are given to explain this seeming injustice. Nachmanides offers an answer which is as profound as it is astoundingly simple. Nachmanides argues that had G-d refrained from hardening Pharaoh’s heart, he would have then been deprived of the ability to make a coherent and true choice. Indeed, the plagues would have compelled him to let the Israelites go — an option he most certainly would not have chosen in the absence of G-d’s strong hand.

    G-d steeled Pharaoh’s resolve, causing that the plagues shouldn’t interfere with his decision-making process, and allowing him to continue expressing his true desire.

    Pharaoh’s freeing the Israelites after their G-d had ravaged his land with frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence, etc., can be compared to handing over one’s wallet to an armed mugger — neither is an act of free “choice.”

    Since the scale was so heavily weighted towards Pharaoh’s sending the Jews out – after all, what would any normal sovereign choose to do when his country is slowly and systematically being destroyed – G-d steeled Pharaoh’s resolve, causing that the plagues shouldn’t interfere with his decision-making process, and allowing him to continue expressing his true desire. G-d hardened his heart so that he would have the strength and ability to freely choose his course of action – and he freely chose to retain the Israelites as slaves. Thus Pharaoh rightfully earned divine retribution for his shameful behavior.

    The extent to which G-d went to ensure the integrity of Pharaoh’s free choice is nothing short of incredible. And the intended moral is equally compelling and uplifting.

    If the benevolent and all-merciful Creator manipulated Pharaoh’s psyche and cognitive abilities to guarantee his ability to choose evil, certainly He does anything necessary to ensure our ability to choose good!

    It is very popular to blame a plethora of external factors for one’s shortcomings. But the Torah teaches us that even the most awesome and devastating circumstances don’t affect a person’s G-d-given of freedom of choice.

    We must never become discouraged. No matter what is written in the pages of our private history books, no matter our current personal situation, we always have the moral strength to choose the proper path.

    (End of the Rabbi’s response.)
    ———————————-

    So there you have it. You may agree or disagree with what the Rabbi wrote, but if you still find it implausible, then ask yourself this: if the Jews (to whom the Bible was originally given) originally believed in a God who predestined people to commit evil acts, then how did they later come to believe so strongly in free will? And why is there no surviving Jewish tradition of a theological controversy concerning the question of whether God predestined people to sin, as we would expect if the Jews changed their mind on the issue? And why are there no surviving Jewish predestinationists? The notion of predestination is wholly alien to the Jewish faith.

    Historically speaking, I think it is much more plausible to assume that the verses in Exodus about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart originally meant something other than what they appear to mean (on a naive reading), than to assume that Exodus was written by a predestinationist.

    If you’re going to try to interpret a difficult Biblical text, it makes sense to ask how Jewish and Christian believers have interpreted it in times past. Think about it.

  223. 223
    vividbleau says:

    RE 220:

    Rob,

    “Yes, it would be nice to have time to keep up on all of the threads on this site. If latecomers aren’t welcome in this discussion, just let me know and I’ll bow out.”

    Rob I am a poker player. I play for fun and of course I want to win. About 15 mintes before seeing your post I was in a hand with two other players. I had pocket fives. The player in seat two raises, seat three calls and I call. The flop comes AJ5 giving me a set. Seat two makes a big bet, seat three doubles it, I push all in with my set. Seat two goes all in and so does seat three.Huge pot!!

    The turn is a Jack giving me a full house. The river is another JACK!! Seat two shows pocket queens, seat thre beats me with 4 of a kind with runner runner jacks. Im steaming although I know thats just poker and if you play enough you are eventually going to see your sets beat by full houses, your full houses beat by four of a kind, and your quads beaten by straight flushes. Still I was internally steaming.

    Right after that I saw your post and took out my anger on you. You did nothing wrong I was a jerk in my reply to you. I apologize.

    Vivid

  224. 224
    riddick says:

    Re 222:

    Vj,

    This “vexing theological conundrum” is explained by Paul in the ninth chapter of Romans.

  225. 225
    R0b says:

    Vivid, absolutely no offense taken. Losing with a great hand and a big pot can get anyone’s goat.

  226. 226
    vividbleau says:

    “You weren’t by any chance using illegal substances when you wrote it?”

    Well Mark I did promise you I would try real hard to imagine six impossible things before breakfast so I have been spending some time with the Queen in Wonderland.

    MF: The remainder of your first argument rests on this fallacy.

    To say X does not exist is the same as saying X has no existence. If X has non existence it is nothing and the X stands for nothing. Since a non existence is no thing i.e. nothing and X stands for nothing, to say nothing exists is no different than saying X does not exist.
    This is fairly priceless. So to say nothing exists is no different from saying the King of France does not exist? As it happens there is no King of France – so nothing exists!

    I am glad you brought up the King of France because a really weird thing happened to me when I got home from work. I was on my computer and then all of a sudden Napoleon and his horse popped into existence right there in my living room. What a mess the horse made but I mean it ,WOW, poof, Napoleon and his horse “just happening” in my living room. Can you believe it?

    Mark this is fairly priceless. If you are correct that for me to say nothing exists is no different than saying the King of France exists, etc, then to say “does not exist” is no different from saying the King of France does not exist, no different than saying the King of France violates LNC. I am demonstrating that for the purposes of the subject matter we are talking about the words are interchangeable. That it is valid for one to use either “does not exist” if that is what they prefer or “nothing” if that is there preference.

    MF: “I don’t agree with this step at all. If you change X to refer to “nothing” rather than the particle then the sentence is no longer true.”

    Actually I did not change anything. If you follow the progress I started by asking a question about what X was.

    Vivid from 215: “What does it mean to say “if X does not exist” ? What is this X that does not exist? X stands for something. What does it stand for? YOU WOULD THINK IT STANDS FOR THE same X that this X is or is not creating. What is this X that exists that the other X is or is not creating? The X stands for the quantum particle you refer to in 187 . “A quantum particle appears without a cause.””

    “Now IF the X is a quantum particle it is valid to insert “quantum particle” where we see X.” End 215.

    Please note the terms “you would think” and the word if”
    But I conclude that X is not the quantum particle based on what you claim the X is

    Vivid from 215: “So it is not the quantum particle that is the X in “if X does not exist” According to you the X is nothing.” End 215

    In order to correctly define what X stands for one needs to accurately represent what the person says X is. And in # 157 you say

    MF: “Nothing creates it (not even itself). It just happens.”

    So I did not change anything. If I would have changed what X is it would have been to represent it as the quantum particle. Since it would be improper to say X stands for the quantum particle, since that would be a misrepresentation of what you said we need to insert what you said X stands for

    Vivid from 215:“So now we need to insert nothing where before we inserted “quantum particle””

    MK: “Does not exist when? It does not exist at one moment and then exists at another. This isn’t a problem.”It is exactly what I have been claiming is possible. I did not say this would violate the LNC”

    And I addressed this in #174

    MF: It might just not be there one second and there the next second.”

    Vivid: Then it is not simultaneous which does not violate the law of non contradiction.

    Vivid

  227. 227
    vjtorley says:

    I have been following the online debate here about the possibility of something appearing without a cause, and I’d like to make a few comments.

    Several contributors have argued that the sudden appearance of a virtual particle without a cause does not violate the law of non-contradiction (hereafter LNC). Even if this were correct, it would not establish that the event in question is possible. As philosophers are well aware, there are many kinds of possibility: logical possibility is the “thinnest” kind there is. Other kinds of possibility include ontological possibility and nomological possibility. Any kind of possibility which makes no attempt to mirror the deep structure of reality is incapable of telling us what can and cannot happen; all it tells us is what we can and cannot imagine.

    It has been pointed out above that the appearance of large objects (e.g. a man, or a horse) without a cause does not violate LNC either. Neither does the existence of a winged horse. So I would ask the skeptics: do you think these events are possible?

    We also need to keep in mind the limitations of the logical notation we use, when discussing logical possibility. For instance, how do we logical represent the statement “a precedes b,” or for that matter “a causes b”? Sure, we can use relational operators to express these statements mathematically (e.g. Pab or Cab), but unless we know how time and causality actually work, we are just playing with letters. What kind of logic should we use, when talking about time, or causality? We don’t know yet. What does that tell us? It tells us that we don’t yet have a general theory telling us how to think about these subjects. Until we do, the fancy logical notation(s) that philosophers use is a mere fig-leaf covering their embarrassing ignorance.

    Some contributors have berated Vivid for stubbornly insisting that an entity which appears without a cause would have to be a self-created entity. Not so, they vehemently protest: an uncaused entity is not the same thing as a self-caused entity. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the point Vivid is making, and I think I’ve got it.

    The underlying principle that Vivid is appealing to is this:

    If an entity (call it E) begins to exist at time t, then necessarily, there exists some entity at or prior to t which is capable of generating E.

    (I wrote “at or prior to” because I don’t want the discussion to get sidetracked around the metaphysical question of whether causes temporally precede their effects or are simultaneous with them.)

    In other words, an entity having a beginning in time must be actualizable, or realizable if you will; otherwise it will never be actual.

    Thus for Vivid, a self-caused entity would actually be less absurd than an uncaused entity. For at least a self-caused entity would have a generator: itself. That’s absurd, but not as absurd for Vivid as the idea of an entity beginning in time, but having no generator at all. Why?

    The reason is that Vivid envisages possibility as something active, not passive. Things don’t just happen because there is nothing to prevent them from happening. They happen because there is something that is able to make them happen (i.e. actualize them). Without that something, it is meaningless to describe an event as possible. All we can say is that there is no impediment to the event’s occurring.

    The profound metaphysical insight that Vivid is appealing to here is that the notion of actuality is a more fundamental notion than that of possibility. Actuality precedes possibility, in the order of things, and the possible is constrained by the actual.

  228. 228
    herb says:

    vjtorley,

    It has been pointed out above that the appearance of large objects (e.g. a man, or a horse) without a cause does not violate LNC either. Neither does the existence of a winged horse. So I would ask the skeptics: do you think these events are possible?

    I’m not sure if I’m a skeptic in this context or not, but let me try. Suppose we are considering the event of a horse suddenly materializing without cause. I think everyone would agree that this event is either a) incredibly unlikely but possible, or b) impossible. My own answer is “I don’t know”, so I guess I haven’t ruled out position a). How would one prove that b) is correct (if “prove” is the correct word here)?

  229. 229
    Mark Frank says:

    #227

    Vjtorley

    This is a valiant effort to shore up vivid’s case. To do so, you have to put a lot of words into his mouth.

    I will restrict myself to saying that I was only talking about logical possibility. As you say there are many grades of possibility. If we are talking about something as mind-bogglingly inconceivable as the beginning of the universe then I would not feel confident about making any pronouncements about possibility except logical possibility. In earlier comments there are many examples of things that at one time would have been considered fundamentally impossible at some deep metaphysical level but now turn to be possible (e.g. triangles, the sum of whose angles are less than or more than 180 degrees)

  230. 230
    Mark Frank says:

    #226

    Vivid

    I am sorry. I am bored with this. I will let others judge the merits of your argument.

  231. 231
    vividbleau says:

    RE 227

    Hi Vj,

    Interesting post. I disagree with Mark, I don’t think you were trying to make a valiant effort to shore up my case rather you just offered up a different perspective.

    VJ: “Thus for Vivid, a self-caused entity would actually be less absurd than an uncaused entity. For at least a self-caused entity would have a generator: itself. That’s absurd, but not as absurd for Vivid as the idea of an entity beginning in time, but having no generator at all. “

    Correct, at least there is a magician and a hat.

    VJ: “The profound metaphysical insight that Vivid is appealing to here is that the notion of actuality is a more fundamental notion than that of possibility. Actuality precedes possibility, in the order of things, and the possible is constrained by the actual.”

    I may be wrong about this but I really do not think that those who accept the possibility of something coming from nothing reflect deeply on what nothing is. Now the perceptive observer should see that the term “ what nothing is” attributes a something to nothing an “is ness” if you will. However that is the only way one can make a statement about nothing, we have to treat it as something to even talk about the concept of nothing. This is why that to try to even conceive of nothing we must think of something. Because nothing at its core is unintelligible we are always making efforts to make it intelligible. The only way to do that is to treat it as something.

    Regarding your comments about possibility’s, it is important to always keep in mind that nothing has no possibilities.

    Vivid

  232. 232
    vividbleau says:

    RE 225

    Rob , thanks thats very gracious of you.

    Vivid

  233. 233
    Oramus says:

    Mark Frank,

    Quantum mechanics cannot be used as an analogy to support the notion that something can exist and not exist at the same time.

    We can only observe quantum particles being ‘seen’ and then ‘not being seen’. This in no way suggests QPs are existing and then not existing. Rather it suggests they are moving from one dimension to another and back again.

    It is curious you would exclude such a likely scenario from consideration.

    ‘Out of sight is not out of Mind’.

  234. 234
    Mark Frank says:

    #233

    Quantum mechanics cannot be used as an analogy to support the notion that something can exist and not exist at the same time.

    I agree. Luckily I have never suggested that something can exist and not exist at the same time.

  235. 235
    bornagain77 says:

    The blatant way in which Quantum mechanics defies our concepts of time and space, even though this is in itself a falsification of primary predictions of materialism, has been used by materialists to justify all sorts of quackery trying to get around the overwhelming implications of design being brought forth in science. Such as Barrow and Tipplers “weird” postulation of a “evolved human” creating the universe, Dr. Strauss illustrates in this following video:

    Anthropic Principle – God Created The Universe – Michael Strauss PhD.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjn8poWD7tM

    Yet the individual quantum events operate well within the overriding transcendent laws and principles of this universe. i.e. though the individual events defy time and space, these events are rigorously subjected to finely tuned transcendent laws which prevent expression of the unlimited probabilistic resource witnessed in quantum mechanics. (Koonins “Many Worlds” explanation for the Cambrian Explosion completely ignores this obvious fact) It seems the materialists is trying to have his cake and eat it too, all the while completely ignoring the necessity of a transcendent Creator to explain the universe in the first place.

    In this following video, Dr. Strauss brings some much needed clarity to the role of the “observer” in Quantum Mechanics.

    Quantum Mechanics – The Limited Role Of The Observer – Michael Strauss
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elg83xUZZBs

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