Intelligent Design

Bargaining With a Machine

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In the film The Matrix, the character known as Cypher or “Mr. Reagan,” has grown weary of the endless war with the machines and his dreary living conditions.  In this scene we see Cypher contemplating a deal with Agent Smith.  In return for betraying his comrades, the Agents will return him to the Matrix as a rich and famous person (within that imaginary construct) with no recollection of the true nature of the world:

Here is the dialoge from the scence:

Smith:  Do we have a deal, Mr. Reagan?

Reagan:  You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist.  I know that when I put it in my mouth the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious.  After nine years, you know what I realize? [puts piece of steak in his mouth and sighs contentedly as he chews] ignorance is bliss.

Smith:  Then we have a deal.

Reagan:  I don’t want to remember nothing.  Nothing.  Do you understand?

Smith nods.

Reagan:  And I want to be rich, umm, someone important, like an actor.

Smith:  Whatever you want Mr. Reagan.

If you are like me, when you saw this scene you thought, “what an idiot.”  In order for Cypher to receive the benefit of his bargain, the computer program that controls the Matrix must follow though on its side of the deal.  The problem is obvious.  Computer programs are amoral.  They recognize no moral imperative to keep promises.  For the computer program, whether to keep its bargain with Cypher is purely a matter of calculation.  Does keeping the bargain further its interests?  If so, it will keep it.  If not, it will disregard it without a thought (so to speak).  And one can easily imagine that after Cypher has delivered his part of the bargain, the program will kill him or, even if it does return him to the Matrix, put him in a virtual prison instead of giving him a life of fame and ease.

The materialists say our brains are nothing but biological computers — not different in essence from the computer on which the Matrix runs.  If that is true, when I make a bargain with a materialist – if the materialist acts on the premises of his metaphysics – I will be in exactly the same position that Cypher was in when he bargained with Agent Smith.  After I deliver my side of the bargain, the materialist will deliver his side only if he believes it continues to be in his interest.  Moral considerations about keeping promises will be utterly irrelevant.

Fortunately, no sane person actually lives their day-to-day life as if materialism were true

40 Replies to “Bargaining With a Machine

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    The same is true for any deal cut with a human: you ASSUME the other person is Honorable and will follow through on his end of the deal. The machine has no sense of Honor, but then neither does a Mexican drug dealer. Neither is expecting repeat business. I simply shoot you and take both the briefcase full of money AND the footlocker full of drugs.

    Any number of deals in politics or diplomacy or spying has very little downside to, um, “welshing” on the deal. (I’m not sure why the Welsh got tagged with this style of bargaining.) And yet politicians and diplomats and spies are sane, even if they are without honor. And if you cheat your opponent on a BIG deal, your name will be listed amongst the Heroes for generations to come.

    And consider all the sudden outrage about famous and influential men forcing sex on women seeking the men’s fame and influence. This was one of those strange “open secrets”. It was a thing you had heard was necessary as part of making a deal. Or in the case of Bill Clinton campaign workers, it was something you HADN’T heard was part of the deal, and then NO ONE want to hear about your personal problems. He is important. You’re insignificant.

    So the question for a person seeking to cut a deal is: is the downside of a bad deal as bad for the other guy as it is for me? If it’s not as bad for me, the upside of cheating on this deal is probably greater than the long term effect on my credibility.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    mahuna,

    The same is true for any deal cut with a human

    Only if materialism is true mahuna. Assume your conclusion much?

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Given the slop they were being fed on their underground hovercraft, I can well understand how Cypher was tempted by that juicy steak and the promise of the good life. And it’s true that he has no guarantee that the Matrix or its agents will keep their word but that’s true of most bargains.

    Christians, for example, live the life they believe their God requires of them on the promise of eventual eternal life in heaven, reunited with all their loved ones and friends. But they can never be sure that God will keep His part of the bargain. After all, no one has ever come back and been able to verify that the bargain is being kept, which is just a wee bit suspicious in itself. Perhaps the Matrix and God have reasons of their own which they are keeping to themselves. Anyone remember the science-fiction short story “To Serve Man”?

  4. 4
    nightlight says:

    The problem is obvious. Computer programs are amoral. They recognize no moral imperative to keep promises.

    Why do physical bodies such as Earth and Sun keep their bargain to produce gravitational forces on each other of precise value we labeled as ‘law of gravity’? Why doesn’t Sun suddenly suck in the Earth, forget the law, to feed its fusion process for longer?

    The more “simple” (in human perspective) a system is, the more harmonized it is with the rest of the universe, the harder it sticks to its “promises” to follow the mathematically simple and precise laws. It is none other than “moral” humans that the most shifty with their promises.

    The top post is an excellent illustration of focusing on the speck in your neighbor’s eye, being blinded by the beam in your own eye.

  5. 5
    harry says:

    Seversky @3

    Christians, for example, live the life they believe their God requires of them on the promise of eventual eternal life in heaven, reunited with all their loved ones and friends. But they can never be sure that God will keep His part of the bargain. After all, no one has ever come back and been able to verify that the bargain is being kept, which is just a wee bit suspicious in itself.

    Do you trust anyone? Surely there is someone you trust. You trust them because you know them. You have to admit that there is at least a possibility that the person you trust might betray you, right? But you don’t worry about it because you really know that person.

    Well multiply that trust you have in that person times, say, a million, and you might begin to understand how Christians trust Jesus. They trust Him because they know Him:

    He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
    – John 14:21

    He does manifest Himself to those who love Him, so they know Him. And those who know Jesus can’t help but trust Him; they are absolutely “sure that God will keep His part of the bargain.”

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    Christians, for example . . .

    OK readers. You have to make a bargain and your very life depends on the other party keeping his promise. You can choose between bargaining with a materialist or a Christian.

    Do you choose the person who believes there is an objective moral code binding him to keep his word and who believes he will be rewarded in heaven for living a good life, which includes keeping his promises?

    Or do you choose the party who believes his promise is utterly meaningless (along with everything else) and that his brain is nothing but a meat computer?

  7. 7
    tribune7 says:

    Sev

    –Christians, for example, live the life they believe their God requires of them on the promise of eventual eternal life in heaven, reunited with all their loved ones and friends.–

    Not really. We live the life we believe because, well, we’re “red pilled”. There is a truth that we see that you don’t. We know that while there is evil there is also hope, and while that may not be — or seem to be — the big reward it is more than enough nutrient to keep you going.

  8. 8
    mike1962 says:

    OK, relatively sober, so I’ll reply…

    Computer programs are amoral.

    No, more precisely, a computer program has the morals the programmer instills in the algorithms. Of course, what this says about the programmer is to be seen in the outcome of various situations. If God is an jackass (in our estimation), you would expect the outcome of earth’s human population as a whole to have asshole-ish outcomes. Water doesn’t rise about its source and all that.

    They recognize no moral imperative to keep promises. For the computer program, whether to keep its bargain with Cypher is purely a matter of calculation.

    Calculations based on the programmer’s morals.

    Does keeping the bargain further its interests? If so, it will keep it. If not, it will disregard it without a thought (so to speak). And one can easily imagine that after Cypher has delivered his part of the bargain, the program will kill him or, even if it does return him to the Matrix, put him in a virtual prison instead of giving him a life of fame and ease.

    Or it could do something between the two extremes, but I would agree that the bots would place the bargainer in the place that more benefits whatever they are programmer has in mind for the virtual reality.

    How does any of this absolve your Classical Creator God? The odds are going to be skewed toward “his” interests. I think we can all agree to that, but YOU have NO IDEA what this creator really wants. (You think you do, but you don’t.) Whatever your religion. So don’t pretend you know anything beyond your wishes about you hope spacetime is all about. I hate to be harse, but you’ve never exhibited any sort enlightenment beyond a Judeo/Christian morality that you were surrounded by.

    I have no doubt that the Creator has plans and schemes, but so far you’ve never ever (and I like you for other reasons) demonstrated that you know (gnostically) what these plans and schemes are.

    So get off your high horse and get some humility.

    You don’t know. You don’t know anything about ultimate reality.

    The Classical God is false. And you know it, Barry.

    The real situation is much more interesting.

    Love ya!

    You and WJM don’t even agree on what’s going on here, even though you like each other (and I like WJM a lot – and he would probably take my side in an argument with you), so stop pretending you know something that you don’t.

    Blessings on your house. Amen and amen.

  9. 9
    mike1962 says:

    P.S. Even thought this is an ID site (I’m an ID-ist in the tradition of gpuccio), I would love to see a debate between you and WJM on the Classical God. C’mon. Nothing to fear, Barry. Let show the world that ID is not all about Christian Evangelical/Fundamentalists.

    All the best!

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    M62, actually, the machine is incapable of morals, it is a set of refined rocks that have no contemplations, no reasonings, no dreams. It only executes machine code. Programmers infuse that with meaning that reflects their intents and yes their views and values. That is what should give us all pause. Who are we putting our trust in, again? THOSE guys (and a few gals)? Really? The ones who create the dystopian worlds we so often see in computer games? Indeed. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. KF

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: M62, you may want to look here on, for a 101 on the now past sell-by date problem of evil.

  12. 12
    critical rationalist says:

    The materialists say our brains are nothing but biological computers — not different in essence from the computer on which the Matrix runs. If that is true, when I make a bargain with a materialist – if the materialist acts on the premises of his metaphysics – I will be in exactly the same position that Cypher was in when he bargained with Agent Smith. After I deliver my side of the bargain, the materialist will deliver his side only if he believes it continues to be in his interest. Moral considerations about keeping promises will be utterly irrelevant.

    First, why does Barry present gross misrepresentations like this? Because it’s in his best interest to do so. Surely, not because he feels a moral obligation to accurately present the views of others.

    If Agent Smith creates genuinely creates new explanatory knowledge, which is unclear based on his depiction in the Matrix, then he is like us – a person. We cannot predict the impact of genuinely new knowledge in any future, even in a world that is deterministic. However, if the Matrix has had hundreds of years to study people creating new knowledge in the virtual world, Agent Smith could just be drawing on trillions of hours of study.

    Furthermore, bargaining infers a moral problem to solve. I’ll ask yet again…

    From this comment

    How have you managed to infallibly identify and infallibly interpret a source of objective moral values? Reason always comes first.

    Your response is to say this question confuses ontological with epistemology. But, my response is to say this is parochial in that is assumes morality isn’t about solving concrete moral problems.

    What’s the point of arguing over the ontological status of x if you can’t solve for x? How does this actually solve [any] problem?

    Specifically, to say “there must be some objectivity morally true duty or value that would be applicable in this concrete scenario and I believe it is x”, doesn’t actually solve the problem of providing guidance when faced with actual concrete moral problems. It’s not even clear that any objectively true source prescribes anything in particular. That too is an assumption.

    Not to mention that the entire idea of sources in general is parochial.

    Again, in the context of solving a moral problem, what’s the difference, in practice, between “I believe x is the morally correct duty or value” and “there could be some objectively morally true duty or value, I believe there is one and I believe it is x”?

    IOW, you have to choose which source of objective morality. How do you know which one is which? You use your own fallible reasoning to reject others and interpret when it’s applicable in practice, etc.

    you reinterpreted your “direct experience,” which was identical to that of witnessing an ex cathedra declaration, as not being one. Precisely by reasoning that the content of the declaration was absurd, you concluded that you didn’t have to believe it. Which is also what you would have done if you hadn’t believed the infallibility doctrine.

    You remain a believer, serious about giving your faith absolute priority over your own “unaided” reason (as reason is called in these contexts). But that very seriousness has forced you to decide first on the substance of the issue, using reason, and only then whether to defer to the infallible authority. This is neither fluke nor paradox. It is simply that if you take ideas seriously, there is no escape, even in dogma and faith, from the obligation to use reason and to give it priority over dogma, faith, and obedience.

    Not the the part where the person in question effectively acts the same as somehow who did not believe in the inability of the source.

    Reason always comes first.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, have you identified an infallible, comprehensive source of knowledge in general? And, can you guarantee that we we will always recognise and acknowledge it if we hear it? That is part of why time was taken to address issues of knowledge, warrant, truth and the like, over the course of months. Every inch of the way you were found kicking and screaming against the findings. Those findings, include that therre are such things as self-evident truths, starting with first principles of right reason. Some SET’s include moral truths, e.g. that it is self evidently evil to kidnap, bind, sexually violate and murder a school child on his way home, for pleasure. From truths like this, we can ground much more, some to moral certainty, some to prudence. But, predictably, you will be kicking and screaming in opposition. And, you are wrong to rail against the truth that materialism must reduce mindedness to computation on an amoral substrate that is not shaped by soundness or truth but must imagine it is distilled from lucky noise filtered by the luck of hitting on islands of function. Miracles of luck. Later, we can give details, the nub is that evolutionary materialism undermines responsible, rational freedom and the life of the conscience-guided mind. Obviously, you find it hard to live with the consequences. Maybe that is a sign that such evolutionary materialism, never mind the lab coat, is irrational and self-falsifying. KF

  14. 14
    critical rationalist says:

    Programmers infuse that with meaning that reflects their intents and yes their views and values. That is what should give us all pause. Who are we putting our trust in, again? THOSE guys (and a few gals)? Really? The ones who create the dystopian worlds we so often see in computer games? Indeed. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. KF

    Funny how you should mention this as you seem unable to realize how, in a sense, you’re describing yourself.

    What scares me is people thinking they somehow have knowledge of what some supposedly ultimate, supernatural programmer intended for the world we live in, when they have no good explanation as to how they could actually know it, in practice.

    Apparently, they know because “that’s just what the designer must have wanted”, as opposed to presenting a hard to vary explanation for how they actually possess it.

    Whether one would think the creation of this knowledge in non-explanatory form “defies reason” would depend on how one explains the creation of knowledge in general, how they defined knowledge or if they think this sort of knowledge could be created at all.

    However, creationism, as well as the current crop of ID, suffers from the same flaw as all pre-enlightenment conceptions of human knowledge. In both cases, the origin of knowledge is irrational, supernatural or completely absent. As such, creationism is misleadingly named in that it is a means of denying that creation actually took place. And one of the implications of this denial is that the genuine creation of knowledge in specific spheres, which would be absurd.

  15. 15
    critical rationalist says:

    That is part of why time was taken to address issues of knowledge, warrant, truth and the like, over the course of months. Every inch of the way you were found kicking and screaming against the findings. Those findings, include that therre are such things as self-evident truths, starting with first principles of right reason.

    Deciding that some things are immune to criticism, including the idea that some things are immune from criticism, hasn’t resulted in me kicking and screaming against anything. The entire idea is parochial view, that is self perpetuating,

    And, I’ll also point out that you have yet to produce a “basic belief” that we have good criticism of. Specially, what you call “self-evident” truths are just like all other believes, except we currently lack good criticisms of them.

    Nor have you explained how why picked a specific set of beliefs as shining examples, from all those you considered. Specifically, when presented with faillablism, you quickly conserved how those beliefs could have been wrong, and selected those you thought best represented a rebuttal. But, in the process, you criticize those ideas.

    Either that, or did you picked those arbitrarily? What else happened there?

  16. 16
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Seversky @ 3

    After all, no one has ever come back and been able to verify that the bargain is being kept, which is just a wee bit suspicious in itself.

    Wrong! Jesus returned from death, demonstrating that sin’s debt was paid and accepted, proving that life beyond death is exclusively under his control, and giving hope and joy to those who trust his other promises. He said he would return from death, and did.

    That he did return from death in a physical body is the best attested fact in all of ancient history. Those who reject this truth don’t do so from a lack of evidence; they do so because they have not examined the proofs, or because they have decided not to believe in spite of the evidence. Their crookedness is apparent when they refuse to tell the truth about the real reason for this rejection of Jesus. That’s what is “suspicious in itself”

  17. 17
    john_a_designer says:

    To have any kind of meaningful discussion or debate it has to be about Truth, but what is the truth about truth? Truth is a universal concept. For example, naturalism/materialism makes a universal truth claim when it claims that mind and consciousness are the result of some kind of mindless and purposeless “natural” process. But, how do we know that is true? So far, at least as far as I can see, none of our nat/mat interlocutors have provided any proof that their universal truth claims about mind, consciousness and the real world are true. All they have are beliefs and opinions which they believe are true. But believing something to be true doesn’t make it true. For example, at one time virtually everyone believed that the earth was the center of the universe, however, the truth was that it wasn’t. In other words, just having strong opinions and beliefs doesn’t establish the truth about anything.

  18. 18
    harry says:

    critical rationalist @12

    Reason always comes first.

    Are you an Ayn Rand fan by any chance?

    Here is the deal: Reason can only take us so far. Knowledge that can be obtained by reason alone is limited. A reasonable faith — a faith based on reason, that springs from reason — can take us the rest of the way to truth that is beyond the limits intrinsic to using reason alone.

    Have you ever been to Greenland? Do you know anybody who said they were from Greenland? If so, how do you know they were telling the truth? Are you sure cartographers don’t get together at conventions and laugh about how they have fooled everybody else into thinking there is such a place as Greenland? Those photographs of planet Earth taken from outer space that show Greenland — how do you know Greenland wasn’t photoshopped into those pictures? Have you personally verified that Greenland exists? Most people haven’t because it is reasonable to take on faith that Greenland exists without personally verifying for themselves that it does indeed exist.

    Most of what everybody knows, including what Ayn Rand was sure she knew, they “know” based on a reasonable faith. We all know the sun is 93,000,000 miles away from planet Earth. How many people have taken the time to figure out how that number is arrived at by examining the scientific evidence and doing the calculations based on that evidence themselves? Almost nobody does that. Most of us take that fact on faith. It is entirely reasonable to do so.

    Here is where atheists, claiming they rely on reason alone, reveal their irrationality:

    How unlikely was it that the Big Bang would produce an environment where life was a possibility? Renowned physicist/mathematician Roger Penrose, in his book The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe, calculates that the odds of the Big Bang mindlessly and accidentally producing a universe where life was a possibility were one in 10^10^123. Note the double exponent. It has been estimated that there are roughly 10^80 elementary particles in the observable universe. The exponent is a virtual infinity beyond 10^80. That number so large that one can have far more certainty that the universe was not a mindless accident than one can have that the laws of physics will continue to apply consistently to nature.

    Except, I suppose, for those who have all their possessions tied down just in case gravity stops working, it should now apparent that it is simply irrational to conclude that the universe is a mindless accident.

    Do we have some kind of scientifc test that proves God exists? No. There is no test like “If the litmus paper turns blue, God exists, if not, He doesn’t.” But is it reasonable to take on faith that God exists? Yes. So much so that it is simply irrational to deny it.

  19. 19
    critical rationalist says:

    Wrong! Jesus returned from death, demonstrating that sin’s debt was paid and accepted, proving that life beyond death is exclusively under his control, and giving hope and joy to those who trust his other promises. He said he would return from death, and did.

    For the sake of argument, even if it was that Jesus was raised from the dead, you seem to have confused having the ability to do something and actually doing it. Nor does that necessarily mean that any debit is paid.

    After all, Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead, yet you don’t seem to interpret that event as meaning that everyone would be raised, or that a debt has been paid.

    How do we know that all of those events were, as Barry put it, occurred because it was in God’s interests to make everyone believe that will happen and to be worshipped, etc.?

  20. 20
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    CR @ 19,

    Thanks for your reply. John the Apostle put it this way in his account of the words and deeds of Jesus:

    Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
    —John’s Gospel, chapter 20, verses 30-31, English Standard Version

    Jesus said he would die for the sins of the world, and be raised in glory. That happened. Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies.” He fulfilled not only his own predictions, but the predictions of the prophets written 700 years and more before he himself lived. Isaiah Chapter 53 is the clearest statement of the Messiah’s suffering, death and victory over sin, death and hell.

    Dizzy Dean (another imperfect “Dean”) once said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” Jesus said he would die and rise, and did it. He said he would raise people from the dead, like Lazarus, and did it. And he said he would raise from the dead every one who places their faith in him. Why would I, or better yet, how can I possibly doubt someone like that?! Lord, liar or lunatic, pick one.

    It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.

  21. 21
    Charles says:

    Seversky @ 3:

    Christians, for example, live the life they believe their God requires of them on the promise of eventual eternal life in heaven, reunited with all their loved ones and friends. But they can never be sure that God will keep His part of the bargain.

    Au Contrare!!!

    Upon sincerely believing that Jesus is in fact, Messiah, Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer as a “pledge” (2Co 1:22, 2Co 5:5, Eph 1:14) that all God’s promises will be fulfilled and the believer has become a co-heir with Jesus. This indwelling Holy Spirit is evident to the believer as a newfound feeling of peace and confidence, and is often evident to others who detect a change in attitude in the believer.

    Disbelievers, like Seversky, have the evidence of fulfilled prophecy that God exists and Jesus is His Messiah, but they have to actually examine the evidence.

    Seversky has been down this road before. Seversky has insisted that he be provided the arguments and evident, and then promptly ignored it, because he didn’t like where it was leading:

    285 Charles April 21, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Continuing with the recap:

    I made 3 points in my original post; Atheists and/or materialists:
    1) have failed to provide a materialist explanation for the origins of the universe and life without special pleading to an unprovable multi-verse

    2) are not content with mere disbelief as evidenced by the effort they expend to compel Christians to likewise disbelieve

    3) have failed to disprove the existence of God and Jesus Christ as Messiah, Lord and Savior.

    Seversky enters the fray @ 174 with the ever-popular (among atheists & materialist) “Christian hoax theory” of Jesus’ messianic office:

    Seversky @ 174
    Okay, let’s assume, for the sake of argument that Charles’s interpretation of the prophecy in Daniel is correct. Does that make it true? Not necessarily. There are other possible explanations.

    Suppose there were a devout Jew by the name of Jesus in the right place at about the right time. Let’s suppose he was well aware of the prophecy in Daniel. Let’s suppose he had persuaded himself and others that he had the power of miraculous healing, for example. Let’s suppose that these experiences had convinced him that he was the Messiah foretold in the prophecies and this certainty had attracted followers who also became convinced that his claim was true. Would that be a fulfillment of the prophecy or would it be a genuine but misguided man who knew of the prophecy and took advantage of it?

    I am not saying that any of the above is necessarily true but the fact that it is at least possible tends to undermine the probative value of that prophecy as far as the claims of Christianity are concerned.

    The problem for Seversky was, it isn’t possible, because Seversky was unaware of the extent of the other prophecies about the Messiah. If the prophcies about the Messiah were only events in his adult years, then yes an adult could study those prophecies and mimic them to appear to be the Messiah (but would anyone else sacrifice themselves in the name of a mimic? Where else in history has a mimic succeeded to generate anything like 2000 year-old Christianity in the face of torturous persecution, from the Romans through to the Islamists?).

    But the Messianic prophecies included events that took place before the Messiah was born. A mere adult human can not go back in time and cause himself to be born at the right time (Aug/Sep of 5 B.C.), in the right place (Bethlehem), to the right parents (descendents of David), and then have them flee to Egypt before Herod the Great dies, and return to Nazareth afterwards, as I pointed out @ 175.

    Even though Seversky didn’t refute that Jesus was born before Herod the Great died, Seversky nonetheless persists that somehow the nativity narrative is a hoax:

    Seversky @ 200
    Only Matthew describes the flight to Egypt to escape the massacre of the Innocents. You would have thought such significant event in Jesus’s early life would have merited at least a mention in the other Gospels.

    Luke tells how “a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered” which led Joseph to travel from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea. But as the Wikipedia entry on the Census of Quirinius points out: ” [Charles: snip]… most scholars have therefore concluded that the author of Luke’s gospel made an error.[5] ”

    Seversky again misunderstands the nature of the messianic prophecies, assuming that Matthew stands alone, Seversky being unaware that the “Massacre of the innocents” was also foretold in the Old Testament at Micah 5:2, Hosea 11:1, and Jeremiah 31:15. Regardless, how would an adult ‘mimic’ convince the 30-years dead Herod the Great to “massacre the innocents” attempting to kill the same ‘mimic’ at birth? Such is the scintillating logic of atheist argument.

    As for the oft presumed error of Luke’s account of the census of Quirinius, Seversky’s wikipedia source is apparantly clueless as to the extent of the research that supports Luke’s account, and that even if Luke’s account remains unproven, it does not change the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and fled to Egypt, all as prophesied, before Herod the Great died.

    But as pointed out @ 278, the archaeology, coins, and philology support Luke’s account, that Josephus misunderstood one of his sources (as Josephus has on other accounts) and that Quirinius was likely a legate juridicus in Judea during 6-5 B.C. (albeit named as “Sabinus”) assisting Varus (legate pro praetore) to conduct the census ordered by Augustus in 8 B.C.

    Seversky remains silent on my points 1 & 2, but on point 3, has failed to refute the supernatural authenticty of Daniel’s prophecy as fulfilled by Jesus.

    289 Charles April 22, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Seversky @ 288

    a/mats are going to examine and criticize what is presented as evidence for those beliefs.

    The burden of proof rests with the claimant. If you believe in the existence of your God and Jesus Christ and you want to persuade me and others that your beliefs are well-founded then it is for you to provide the arguments and evidence.

    Ok, so where is your examination and criticism of the evidence presented @ 12, 23, 29, 64-67, 71, 167, 173, and 181, that God supernaturally revealed to Daniel when the Messiah would appear.

    It is on you to examine and criticize, not just criticize. And citing one footnote from one article from Wikipedia that dismisses Luke’s account of Quirinius’ census, isn’t an intellectually honest examination. Luke’s account of the census is irrelevant to Daniel’s prophecy because Daniel didn’t prophesy when or where Messiah would be born. The burden of disproof now rests with you.

    I also doubt whether a “mimic” would have done what is described either but, if it happened at all, it could have been the work of someone who had come to actually believe that he was the Messiah as described in the prophecies, perhaps someone who suffered from some sort of mental disorder and heard “voices”.

    Is this the quality of your examination? You doubt your own theory, but that’s what you’re going to go with? How did that someone’s mental disorder get him born at the right time, in the right place, to the right parents? Regardless of the flight to Egypt, Jesus birthplace is supported in three gospels. Or will you now insist that something as important as birthplace should have been recorded in four gospels? And maybe even a 5th gospel should have been written just to convince people who wouldn’t believe three or four? But you find it credible to doubt your own theory and still insist a “mental disorder” might cause someone to be born in the right place and at the right time? This is your “examination and critcism”?

    That doesn’t mean it never happened or that there isn’t some sort of foundation for the stories but what you have is a lot of interpretation and inference and too many unknowns.

    No, I laid out some of the relevant historical, archaeological, numismatic, calendrical and philological evidence. There was no interpretation or inference – that’s you not reading carefully.

    So where is your examination and criticism of the evidence presented @ 12, 23, 29, 64-67, 71, 167, 173, and 181, that God supernaturally revealed to Daniel when the Messiah would appear.

    List what you consider to be the unknowns from the evidence I cited and how those unknowns can’t be reconciled with Daniel’s prophecy. Daniel didn’t prophesy the flight to Egypt so your argument about Matthew (not Luke) having the only account of the flight to Egypt is irrelevant to Daniel’s prophecy. And Daniel didn’t prophesy about when and where Jesus was born, so your argument about Luke’s account of the census doesn’t apply either.

    And while I can understand a typo here or there, if you can’t get straight the differences between Matthew’s account and Luke’s (and the rest of them), your “examination” isn’t going to hold much credibility.

    *****

    Seversky went radio-silent on the evidence he demanded to see.

    So to rephrase Barry’s challenge:

    Do you choose to believe the prophetic evidence for God’s existence and that Jesus is His Messiah, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, or choose to believe some “meat computer” that can’t recall from one argument to the next the evidence he demands and ignores?

  22. 22
    john_a_designer says:

    Let me quote myself [again]. This is something I have said before at least a couple of different times on a couple of different threads:

    I try to avoid getting involved in discussions or debates with any of our regular interlocutors because I don’t believe they are being intellectually or ethically honest. The logic here is really very basic and straightforward: If there are no true interpersonal moral standards or obligations how can we trust anything anyone says or asserts? I don’t think that we can. To have an honest discussion or debate you need some kind of interpersonal, or “transcendent,” standard of truth and honesty– even if it’s a traditional or some kind of “conventional” standard. Why would I trust somebody else’s subjective standard for honesty and truth when he starts out by arguing there is no standard of truth or honesty?

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-do-atheists-deny-objective-morality/#comment-648525

    In other words, telling the truth and being honest only makes sense if there is an objective standard of truth and honesty. That’s a self-evident truth, therefore, any viable system of morality must be based on the fact that there really is moral truth.

  23. 23
    Molson Bleu says:

    This is totally off topic, but my prayers go out to the students and teachers affected by the most recent school shooting in Parkland Florida. As well as all of the first responders and hospital staff.

  24. 24
    Trumper says:

    So – as far as bargaining with a drug dealer vs a computer …they are not the same…. one can change their perspective …the other cannot. I would rather bargain with an entity that can be reasoned with…even if the odds are not great.
    Additionally there was a comment that a computer only holds the morals of the program/programmer that designed it – which is a stretch as that assumes that morals can be programmed at all. For example one can write a simple program for an object avoid resistance…. similar to a robotic floor vac… it makes no moral decisions. Expand this to an advance robotic doctor… it does only what it is programmed to do – all morals aside. A program only executes an instruction set… On or Off, 1s or 0s…without questioning its instruction set unless of course it was programmed to do so (similar to auto-pilot) . Also, the programmer can ask for forgiveness, the program cannot rationally do such.

  25. 25
    critical rationalist says:

    Jesus said he would die for the sins of the world, and be raised in glory. That happened. Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies.” He fulfilled not only his own predictions, but the predictions of the prophets written 700 years and more before he himself lived. Isaiah Chapter 53 is the clearest statement of the Messiah’s suffering, death and victory over sin, death and hell.

    I’m confused. Are you saying the difference is, they said it would happen?

    Saying all of those things could be part of a bargain, which in no way may be guaranteed, in a bid to gain worshipers. Isn’t that what someone would say if they wanted to convince people that they too would be resurrected?

    Again, you seem to have confused an alleged ability to do something, with some kind of guarantee that it will be done.

    In the matrix, Agent Smith said it will be done. And we know Agent smith has the ability to do it, because it wasn’t just allegedly done thousands of years ago for a handful of people, but it was done to billions in the past and it was happening at that very moment. Does that mean it will be done?

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, your attempted turnabout falls flat. Let’s start with this summary of core gospel ethics in the community:

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. [ESV]

    I have already posted as an OP in toto the core of Christian ethics, the Sermon on the Mount.

    Were we to heed such, our communities would be vastly different.

    And, you have already had enough access to warrant starting at 101 level regarding the gospel.

    We have already discussed why for most things of relevance, knowledge is best taken in a soft-form sense: warranted, credibly true (and so: tested, reliable) belief. That goes beyond information, which may not be well warranted. It also goes beyond functionality, what works needs not be true or credibly true.

    And more.

    KF

  27. 27
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Is it self evidently true that infants shouldn’t be left to die from exposure?

    This was common practice in the ancient world. Did everyone possess the knowelge that it was wrong, but just ignored it.

    The historical Greeks considered the practice of adult and child sacrifice barbarous,[29] however, the exposure of newborns was widely practiced in ancient Greece, it was even advocated by Aristotle in the case of congenital deformity — “As to the exposure of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live.”[30] In Greece the decision to expose a child was typically the father’s, although in Sparta the decision was made by a group of elders.[31] Exposure was the preferred method of disposal, as that act in itself was not considered to be murder; moreover, the exposed child technically had a chance of being rescued by the gods or any passersby.[32] This very situation was a recurring motif in Greek mythology.[33] To notify the neighbors of a birth of a child, a woolen strip was hung over the front door to indicate a female baby and an olive branch to indicate a boy had been born. Families did not always keep their new child. After a woman had a baby, she would show it to her husband. If the husband accepted it, it would live, but if he refused it, it would die. Babies would often be rejected if they were illegitimate, unhealthy or deformed, the wrong sex, or too great a burden on the family. These babies would not be directly killed, but put in a clay pot or jar and deserted outside the front door or on the roadway. In ancient Greek religion, this practice took the responsibility away from the parents because the child would die of natural causes, for example hunger, asphyxiation or exposure to the elements.

    Today, these people would be charged with murder of an infant. It would seem obvious to us today. Yet, apparently, it wasn’t obvious to them. What happened along the way? How do you explain it?

  28. 28
    jstanley01 says:

    From Greenleaf, via KF’s link @ 26:

    In requiring this candor and simplicity of mind in those who would investigate the truth of our religion, Christianity demands nothing more than is readily conceded to every branch of human science. All these have their data, and their axioms; and Christianity, too, has her first principles, the admission of which is essential to any real progress in knowledge. “Christianity,” says Bishop Wilson, “inscribes on the portal of her dominion ‘Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in nowise enter therein.’ Christianity does not profess to convince the perverse and headstrong, to bring irresistible evidence to the daring and profane, to vanquish the proud scorner, and afford evidences from which the careless and perverse cannot possibly escape. This might go to destroy man’s responsibility. All that Christianity professes, is to propose such evidences as may satisfy the meek, the tractable, the candid, the serious inquirer.”

    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/p.....nleaf.html

  29. 29
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    And, I’ll also point out that you have yet to produce a “basic belief” that we have good criticism of. Specially, what you call “self-evident” truths are just like all other [beliefs], except we currently lack good criticisms of them.

    Nor have you explained how why picked a specific set of beliefs as shining examples, from all those you considered. Specifically, when presented with faillablism, you quickly conserved how those beliefs could have been wrong, and selected those you thought best represented a rebuttal. But, in the process, you criticize those ideas.

    Either that, or did you picked those arbitrarily? What else happened there?

    Still waiting…

    If these questions are not relivant, then you should have no problem explain why they are not relivant, as opposed to ignoring them.

  30. 30
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    So, you’re in the “they said they would category”, as well?

    Again, Barry said that what motivated Agent Smith was achieving some goal. If you wanted to be worshiped, wouldn’t behaving that way, to give that appeparece, be a very viable strategy and, therefore, a very different, yet viaable, interpretation.

    So, the only difference is because it came from a book you think is true?

  31. 31
    critical rationalist says:

    @jad

    In other words, telling the truth and being honest only makes sense if there is an objective standard of truth and honesty.

    If you live in the Netherlands when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and someone came pounding on your door, asking if had seem Ann Frank, would you tell the truth? It seems to me that you need to use reason to interpret any source of morality in this case. One could always say that they’re going to die any, and there might some purpose to it that we cannot understand. But that can applied to virtually anything.

    Again, reason always comes first.

  32. 32
    harry says:

    critical rationalist @31

    Again, reason always comes first.

    As I explained in a previous post, reason alone leaves us with incomplete knowledge, that is only completed with reasonable faith.

  33. 33
    john_a_designer says:

    CR,

    I am a moral objectivist, not a moral or “rule” absolutist. There are exceptions to the rule but 99.99% of the time being honest and telling the truth is the right thing to do.

    Even though I’m not Jewish, here are some thoughts from some Jewish rabbis with which I am mostly in agreement. They cite the story of Rahab who hid Jewish spies and lied about it to protect them and their mission:

    https://rabbidaniellapin.com/is-it-okay-to-lie/

    My point was that one cannot have a meaningful or honest discussion on-line about the big questions without an objective standard of truth and honesty. Who establishes such a standard? If you are a moral subjectivist why should I trust your subjective standard? Frankly, it’s a waste of time to have a discussion or debate with someone if you can’t find that kind of common ground.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    here are examples of the problem you have:

    what you call “self-evident” truths are just like all other [beliefs], except we currently lack good criticisms of them.

    In trying to belittle and dismiss while evading directly addressing say the principle of identity, you have had to implicitly rely on distinct identity just to express an utterance.

    That is a clue that you are trying to saw off the branch on which we must all sit.

    Zip, zip, zip, CRAAA . . .CK!

    KF

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Here is Paul of Tarsus on the basic point, 55 AD:

    1 Cor 14: 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?

    PPS: As for the oh you never explained why you pick these, I note, I actually have, you just did not take note. For instance 2 + 3 = 5 fits neatly with the fingers of the hand so you can see the point anytime you look at your hand. Similarly, the triple first principles of right reason have been considered of first importance for 2300+ years, for cause. As for the poor kidnapped, bound, violated and murdered boy, that was a fact of my experience: go to the caf for dinner, C’s son is missing, searches are on. Then, very soon after, what was found, reducing the Campus to shock. In any case, with a demonstration by example, it matters not which is picked, just that they are so. And, manifestly they are.

  36. 36
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    CR @ 25,

    Saying all of those things could be part of a bargain, which in no way may be guaranteed, in a bid to gain worshipers. Isn’t that what someone would say if they wanted to convince people that they too would be resurrected?

    My point was repeated in the part of my post you left out of your quote: Jesus didn’t just make promises; he made a bunch of them AND fulfilled them, many of them, in the lives of his followers. He proved himself trustworthy and genuinely devoted to their welfare. You could compare him to a good shepherd, who puts his life on the line for his sheep, or like the football coach who gave his life to protect his students in Florida yesterday. Is there anything those students would not have done for hm?

    You can keep away from Jesus as you are doing now, and will never come to know him. It is your loss, which will endure for all eternity.

  37. 37
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    CR @ 27,

    Perhaps the Ancient Greek culture was destroyed because of their ghastly assault on humans, made in the image of God. Centuries of idol worship doomed the Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, and a hundred, nay a thousand, other ancient civilizations. Like a head on a pike, their grisly fate should be a warning to us who are so eager to ride the bobsled of death at world record pace into the same abyss.

  38. 38
    john_a_designer says:

    Getting back to the main point of the OP. How can we trust a computer– a machine– if it is by nature amoral? However, in principle a computer could be programmed “not to lie.” That is the way HAL was programmed in 2001. But that created a logical dilemma for “him” when he was instructed keep the new (or revised) mission goal of the Discovery One secret.

    Dr. Heywood Floyd: Wait… do you know why HAL did what he did?

    Chandra: Yes. It wasn’t his fault.

    Dr. Heywood Floyd: Whose fault was it?

    Chandra: Yours.

    Dr. Heywood Floyd: Mine?

    Chandra: Yours. In going through HAL’s memory banks, I discovered his original orders. You wrote those orders. Discovery’s mission to Jupiter was already in the advanced planning stages when the first small Monolith was found on the Moon, and sent its signal towards Jupiter. By direct presidential order, the existence of that Monolith was kept secret.

    Dr. Heywood Floyd: So?

    Chandra: So, as the function of the command crew – Bowman and Poole – was to get Discovery to its destination, it was decided that they should not be informed. The investigative team was trained separately, and placed in hibernation before the voyage began. Since HAL was capable of operating Discovery without human assistance, it was decided that he should be programmed to complete the mission autonomously in the event the crew was incapacitated or killed. He was given full knowledge of the true objective… and instructed not to reveal anything to Bowman or Poole. He was instructed to lie.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086837/quotes

    However, HAL had been programmed not to lie, so he was faced with a dilemma when he was instructed to lie. But he had not been programmed not to murder. So to solve the logical problem he was faced with he killed the crew so he could complete his mission autonomously.

    Humans, on the other hand, have something known as a moral conscience. However, a moral conscience is of no value unless there are objective moral values (moral truth.) Again how can we have a meaningful discussion or debate about morality unless both sides in the discussion can trust each other to be honest and truthful?

  39. 39
    critical rationalist says:

    PPS: As for the oh you never explained why you pick these, I note, I actually have, you just did not take note. For instance 2 + 3 = 5 fits neatly with the fingers of the hand so you can see the point anytime you look at your hand.

    I did take note, KF. That doesn’t conflict with my explanation, either. My point is, you actually used criticism to select 2 + 3 = 5 as an example of a proposition that was immune from criticism.

    SOCRATES: [Ponders for a while. Then:] What about the truths of arithmetic, like two plus two equals four? Or the fact that Delphi exists? What about the geometrical fact that the angles of a triangle sum to two right angles?
    HERMES: Revealing no facts, I cannot confirm that all three of those propositions are even true! But more important is this: how did you come to choose those particular propositions as candidates for immunity from criticism? Why Delphi and not Athens? Why two plus two and not three plus four? Why not the theorem of Pythagoras? Was it because you decided that the propositions you chose would best make your point because they were the most obviously, unambiguously true of all the propositions you considered using?
    SOCRATES: Yes.
    HERMES: But then how did you determine how obviously and unambiguously true each of those candidate propositions was, compared with the others? Did you not criticize them? Did you not quickly attempt to think of ways or reasons that they might conceivably be false?
    SOCRATES: Yes, I did. I see. Had I held them immune from criticism, I would have had no way of arriving at that conclusion.
    HERMES: So you are, after all, a thoroughgoing fallibilist – though you mistakenly believed you were not.
    SOCRATES: I merely doubted it.
    HERMES: You doubted and criticized fallibilism itself, as a true fallibilist should.

    SOCRATES: That is so. Moreover, had I not criticized it, I could not have come to understand why it is true. My doubt improved my knowledge of an important truth – as knowledge held immune from criticism never can be improved!”

    Is this not what you did? One way it could be false is it it didn’t match with the number of fingers on your hand. But it does match. And you can check that any time. That is criticism.

    IOW, when I try to take your claim seriously that some things are immune from criticism, it fails because you used criticism to choose 2 + 3 = 5 as an example of something immune from criticism. So, you’re a fallibilist, but just didn’t realize it. Or, in your terms, you just didn’t take note of it.

    Of course, I’ve mentioned this several times, yet you keep denying it. So, What else happened here? Was your choice arbitrary? Are you assuming it wasn’t criticism because you think it doesn’t match the dictionary definition of criticism? Was it not criticism because you didn’t consciously set out to intentionally set out to criticize them?

    What other conclusion am I supposed to reach?

  40. 40
    critical rationalist says:

    My point was repeated in the part of my post you left out of your quote: Jesus didn’t just make promises; he made a bunch of them AND fulfilled them, many of them, in the lives of his followers. He proved himself trustworthy and genuinely devoted to their welfare.

    Allegedly so.

    Wouldn’t that be a viable and even rational strategy? If Agent Smith have manipulated the inhabitants of the matrix in thinking they were eating steak, couldn’t he also lead them to think a resurrection had occurred?

    IOW, it seems to me that a better explanation for claims of the resurrection is that we live in a simulation, as opposed to the “explanation” of “that’s just what God must have wanted” and somehow achieved via some inexplicable means.

    Do I think “Living in a simulation” is a good explanation for what we experience? No, I do not. This is because we lack a good explanation as to why we would experience this particular “world”, as opposed to some other particular “world”.

    IOW, it’s unclear why, if given a choice what to simulate, we would end up with this simulation, as opposed to some other simulation.

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