Atheism Intelligent Design

Debunking The Old “There Is No Evidence of God” Canard

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Recently some of our opponents have trotted out the old, long-since debunked, unsupportable universal claim “there is no evidence of God”. Let me illustrate how this is just another emotionally-addicted, rhetorical maxim atheists cling to without any real thought in the matter.

Facts, as defined by Merriam-Webster:

something that truly exists or happens : something that has actual existence : a true piece of information”. According to Wiki, a scientific fact is: an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.”

Merriam Webster says the evidence is

“something which shows that something else exists or is true”.

Obviously, “something else” is not directly observable as a fact, or else one wouldn’t need evidence for it.

Wiki says that scientific evidence is

That which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis.

People that claim to “go where the evidence leads” are fundamentally missing the fact that without an interpretive expectation, facts don’t lead anywhere. They are just brute facts that stand alone without any theoretical associations.

Theories explain or interpret facts, describing their place in a contextual framework.  Facts, when thusly interpreted, support or contradict those theories. Facts do not come with interpretations or conceptual frameworks. Interpretations exist in the mind of the individual considering a fact. Without a framework that contextualizes the facts in a system of expectations and meaning, facts are just brute sensory data. Facts don’t “lead” anwhere; they only lead where interpretations, intuition, logic or insight can support and understand them. Language itself categorizes the expression of facts into a systematic framework of expectations.

We expect facts to make sense within a consistent and reliable framework of coherent, causal space-time (an interpretive framework). We expect to find recognizable patterns. We expect our environment to have an understandable quality about it. We expect that we can make models that will not only explain facts, but predict them as well. We replace old models with ones that better explain and predict facts in a practical, useful manner.

What does it mean to say: “There is no evidence of god”, when any number of empirical facts can be interpreted favorably towards the existence of a god as commonly referred to as a supremely intelligent creator of the universe and source of goodness and moral law? Setting aside logical and moral arguments, personal experience, testimony and anecdote (all of which count as forms of evidence as I previously wrote about here), if one has a hypothesis that such a god exists, how can it be reasonable for atheists to claim that no physical facts can be interpreted to support the existence of that kind of god? Of course they can – billions do it every day.

Atheists do not have a copyright on how facts can be reasonably interpreted.  Much of the successful heuristic of modern science was founded entirely upon theistic expectations of a rationally understandable universe, metaphysical laws that governed the universe, and a god that favored elegance, efficiency and beauty.  They often referred to their scientific work as uncovering the mind of God.

Simply put, the atheist interprets certain sets of facts according to the expectation “there is no god”. The theist interprets those facts in light of the hypothesis that there is a god. Just because the atheist doesn’t consider the god hypothesis doesn’t mean that facts cannot be intepreted to support that hypothesis.

Take for instance the fine-tuning facts. Each of those force/material constants are facts. Scores of them appear to be fine-tuned for the existence of a universe that can support life. Take also for instance the advanced nano-technology of living cells. These facts can certainly be supportive of the hypothesis that an intelligent, creative god designed the universe and life. Now, throw in the logical arguments, anecdotes and the testimony of billions of people for thousands of years; it is a blatantly false lie or sheer denial to claim that there is “no” evidence for a god of some sort, when the term “evidence” means, among other things, an interpretation of facts that support a theory or hypothesis.  Evidence can also mean testimony; it can refer to circumstantial or anecdotal evidence; it can refer to logical, rational arguments in support of an assertion.

I’ve come to view many anti-ID advocates as having profound psychological resistance to anything that remotely points to the existence of a god of some sort. This cathexis seems to be a deep-rooted hostility towards the god concept in general that generates an almost hypnotic form of neuro-linguistic programming where they cannot see what is before them, and also leads them to see things that are not there.

Atheists/physicalists often talk about “believing what the evidence dictates”, but fail to understand that “evidence” is an interpretation of facts. Facts don’t “lead” anywhere in and of themselves; they carry with them no conceptual framework that dictates how they “should” fit into any hypothesis or pattern. Even the language by which one describes a fact necessarily frames that fact in a certain conceptual framework that may be counterproductive.

Atheists first preclude “god” from being an acceptable hypothesis, and then say “there is no evidence of god”. Well, Duh. The only way there could be evidence of god is if you first accept it as a hypothesis by which one interprets or explains facts.

“God” is a perfectly good hypothesis for explaining many facts especially in light of supporting testimonial, anecdotal, logical and circumstatial evidences. When an atheist says “there is no evidence for god”, what they are really saying (but are psychologically blind to it) is: There is no god, so there cannot be evidence for it. Their conclusion comes first, and so no evidence – in their mind, irrationally – can exist for that which does not – cannot – exist.

There is evidence that all sorts of things are true or exist; that doesn’t mean they actually exist, or are actually true – just that some facts can be interpreted to support the theory. To claim “there is no evidence for god” is absurd; atheists may not be convinced by the evidence, and they may not interpret the evidence in light of a “god hypothesis”. But to claim it is not evidence at all reveals uncompromising ideological denial. If one cannot even admit that there is evidence of god for those who interpret facts from that hypothesis, they cannot be reasoned with.

226 Replies to “Debunking The Old “There Is No Evidence of God” Canard

  1. 1
    mike1962 says:

    What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. –C.S. Lewis

  2. 2
    daveS says:

    There is indeed evidence for the existence of God. Accounts of the empty tomb, bible prophecy, even alleged modern-day miracles (e.g., Fátima). The strength of this evidence is open to question, of course.

  3. 3

    There is an enormous amount of evidence for the existence of at least a classical god (root of existence creator and ground for morality), daveS. Indeed, there is enough to consider strong atheism (assertion that no god exists) an irrational position, and likely enough to even consider weak atheism (the idea that not enough evidence exists for belief) to be intellectually dishonest, as I argued in this prior thread.

    There is so much evidence for the existence of god and the supernatural, in fact, that to deny it requires an enormous amount of blind faith and outright denial.

  4. 4
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    Indeed, there is enough to consider strong atheism (assertion that no god exists) an irrational position, and likely enough to even consider weak atheism (the idea that not enough evidence exists for belief) to be intellectually dishonest, as I argued in the linked thread.

    I’m a weak atheist in the sense that I lack belief in any gods. I don’t know if that means the same thing as your definition, but of course I do not concede to any intellectual dishonesty regarding the matter.

  5. 5
  6. 6

    daveS @4:

    Then I suggest you read the thread I have now linked to in #3. Weak atheism is not a rationally supportable position when one is informed of the evidence for god. Often (I’m not saying it’s true of you), “weak atheism” or saying “I just lack belief in gods” is, IMO, a rhetorical device employed to avoid the evidence in order to preserve a preferred ideology in the face of substantial evidence to the contrary.

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    Then I suggest you read the thread I have now linked to in #3. Weak atheism is not a rationally supportable position when one is informed of the evidence for god.

    With all respect, that’s a mere assertion. And while there are items on your list of evidence for God that deserve to be taken seriously, the PEAR and Scole experiments are no longer in that category.

    Edit:

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

    I do agree with this. Perhaps my concept of “weak atheist” is more modest than yours? I merely state that I lack a belief in gods (based on the vidence I know of). I’m not even claiming that there does not actually exist sufficient evidence to conclude that god exists; if there is such, then I’m unaware of it.

  8. 8

    daveS said;

    With all respect, that’s a mere assertion.

    No, it’s not. I made my case against the rationality of weak atheism on that thread.

    And while there are items on your list of evidence for God that deserve to be taken seriously, the PEAR and Scole experiments are no longer in that category.

    Those two were at best tangential evidences that supported the existence of god, hardly worth even mentioning here as if any doubt about those experiments significantly matters wrt the sum total, importance and weight of the other evidences I outlined in that thread.

    Also, there is much more profound and significant evidence for the supernatural and a designing supernatural agency that I’ll be presenting shortly in a new thread. However, as I said in that thread, the already detailed evidences for god would be sufficient for any rational person to at least come to the conclusion that there is sufficient evidence to support the belief that it is more likely than not that some sort of god exists.

    daveS: are you unaware of the logical arguments for the existence of god? Are you unaware of the fine-tuning evidence? Are you unaware of the moral argument for god? Are you unaware of the existence of testimony from hundreds of years and perhaps billions of people, including that of some of the most credible people to ever exist experiences of god? Are you unaware of the deep code & incredible nanotechnology found at the heart of life?

    Are you actually unaware, daveS? Because it seems, from what you have written, that you are aware of the evidence. Perhaps you are aware of it, but simply choose not to reflect on what it means?

  9. 9
    DonaldM says:

    For a long time now, I’ve argued that when an atheist says “there is no evidence for the existence of any God or gods” all that really means is that there isn’t any data, observation or phenomenon which they take to be evidence for God, which is a very different thing. We are all looking at the same world, the same universe, the same data. But clearly atheists (and agnostics) reach a very different conclusion about what explains what we observe, than do theists. What accounts for the difference is one’s worldview. In denying evidence for the existence of God, then, atheists are not denying the existence of the universe, or the data and phenomenon we all observe. Rather they are denying the legitimacy of connecting those observations with the conclusion that God exists…and doing so without any real argument.

    Disputes about the evidence for God’s existence are never about evidence per se, but about what principles and background knowledge are acceptable to warrant connecting observations, data and phenomenon with the conclusion, God exists. Getting any atheist to see that, though, is another matter altogether. It requires them to admit to the presuppositions inherent in their own worldview, which most simply will not do.

  10. 10
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    daveS: are you unaware of the logical arguments for the existence of god? Are you unaware of the fine-tuning evidence? Are you unaware of the moral argument for god? Are you unaware of the existence of testimony from hundreds of years and perhaps billions of people, including that of some of the most credible people to ever exist experiences of god? Are you unaware of the deep code & incredible nanotechnology found at the heart of life?

    Are you actually unaware, daveS? Because it seems, from what you have written, that you are aware of the evidence. Perhaps you are aware of it, but simply choose not to reflect on what it means?

    I’m aware of them from outside sources and from discussions here, and have reflected on them. I don’t find these lines of evidence to be very convincing, however (especially the logical arguments, I might add).

    I will look forward to your new thread on the supernatural. I do find that an intriguing topic, although in the end I don’t find the case for “supernatural” events to be very compelling.

  11. 11
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    I could best be classified as a weak atheist or an agnostic. Maybe that is because I come from the show me state. I have not seen any convincing evidence for the existance of a god. On the other hand, I have never had any compelling desire to go looking for it.

  12. 12
    HeKS says:

    WJM,

    Completely agree with this. I had actually been considering writing something on this recently but haven’t had much time. Here’s a brief snippet from something I wrote to someone elsewhere a couple years ago on this subject regarding what it means to say there is evidence for God (which covers, by extension, what it means to say there is evidence for anything)

    When I say that there is evidence for God’s existence, I do not mean there is absolute proof of God’s existence. Rather, I mean that there are facts and states of affairs that we are aware of that, on a reasonable interpretation, make God’s existence more probable than it would be if we weren’t aware of those facts and states of affairs, or if they happened to be other than they are. I do not say that there can be no other LOGICALLY POSSIBLE explanations for these facts, since that would amount to saying I could prove for a certainty that God exists. I will only claim for the purposes of this discussion that I do not find any potentially competing materialistic explanations of these facts to be obviously better than, or even obviously as good, plausible or parsimonious as, the theological ones.

    Good job on the article. People really need to get a proper understanding of what it does and does not mean to say, “There is evidence for X

  13. 13

    The root practical meaning of the term “fact”, is that it is a 1 to 1 corresponding model.

    If the police ask for the facts about what happened then they are asking for a 1 to 1 corresponding model of what happened.

    Agency is categorically a matter of opinion. One cannot make 1 to 1 corresponding models of love or hate, or God the holy spirit.

    To say there is no evidence for God is misleading. There is indeed no evidence for God, which is because it is a matter of opinion.

    Only opinion can express the reality of what the agency of a decision is.

  14. 14
    Andre says:

    Interpreting DaveS’s comments what he is really saying is that he knows that he can’t know…..

    DaveS the obvious question then is? How do you know?

  15. 15
    daveS says:

    Andre,

    Interpreting DaveS’s comments what he is really saying is that he knows that he can’t know…..

    Eh? No, I’m not asserting that I know that I can’t know.

    Maybe tomorrow I will decide that the evidence indicates there is a God.

  16. 16
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    I think the question is more: Without devolving into Selective Hyper-skepticism, what kind of evidence would you require in order to believe that the likeliness of God’s existence has been established to a standard of Moral Certainty, as opposed to Absolute Certainty?

    Allow me to paste in some comments I made here a while back about Selective Hyper-Skepticism:

    Normal skepticism is generally equitable and a good thing. It applies a reasonably consistent demand for warrant across the board before some claim of fact or some argument is accepted. It prevents one from being credulous, but allows one to believe what is reasonable to believe once one has received a reasonable amount of supporting evidence and/or argumentation. There’s obviously some subjectivity here in terms of what one person considers to be a sufficient or reasonable amount of evidence or argumentation vs another, but the typical idea is that one is willing to believe if they’ve received sufficient evidence to bring about Moral Certainty rather than requiring Absolute Certainty. In other words, enough to warrant action or acceptance by a person who is not heavily biased.

    Conversely, hyper-skepticism (which is certainly not a term we made up … just google it) is virtually never equitable. Rather it is highly selective. Selective Hyper-Skepticism results when one requires a much higher degree of warrant in order to accept things that they prefer weren’t true. It most often comes up when worldview issues are at stake. It’s the application of a double-standard where one demands sufficient evidence to support absolute certainty (which is generally impossible) on certain facts they’d rather not have to believe, but they are willing to accept a much more lax standard of evidence and argumentation on matters of a very similar profile that don’t threaten their worldview. It also happens that someone demonstrating hyper-skepticism on these types of worldview issues often displays hyper-credulity towards arguments and evidence on the matter that is consistent with their own worldview. This isn’t really an accident, because the hyper-skepticism applied on one side of the equation often leaves the person grasping for any contrary evidence or argument at all on the other side of the equation, no matter how implausible or unsubstantiated.

    Keep in mind that the saying “exceptional claims require exception evidence” makes for a nice soundbite, but it isn’t really true. What is defined as “exceptional” can easily come down to the biases of the one demanding the evidence. Instead, when looking to establish some proposition to a degree of Moral Certainty, the kinds of things we typically want from the proposition is that it is coherent, supported by and consistent with a sufficient degree of evidence given what we could reasonably expect to find if the proposition is true, and, to some significant degree, explains the evidence more fully and plausibly than competing propositions (when one is unburdened by contrary biases) given our knowledge of the cause and effect structure of the universe, such that our doubts, if any, are not genuinely motivated by the inability of the proposition to explain the relevant evidence or by the existence of some other proposition with a similar measure of explanatory power, explanatory scope, and degree of ad hoc-ness

  17. 17
    mk says:

    one example is the flagellum motor. we know that a motor (even a self replicating one) is evidence for design.

  18. 18
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    I think the question is more: Without devolving into Selective Hyper-skepticism, what kind of evidence would you require in order to believe that the likeliness of God’s existence has been established to a standard of Moral Certainty, as opposed to Absolute Certainty?

    I would find miracles, signs, and wonders convincing. Many of my Christian friends talk about how they sense God acting in their lives, and I would also count that as evidence (if I experienced it), although maybe not as conclusive.

    I too have problems with the statement “exceptional claims require exceptional evidence”. Just regular evidence of the form I described above, for example water changing into wine (under controlled conditions) would suffice in my case.

  19. 19
    Andre says:

    DaveS

    You set the bar low for miracles water to wine is easy peasy.

    How about you are THE miracle? A bag of chemical reactions that can say; I think Therefor I am….. Miracles don’t get bigger than that my friend.

  20. 20
    Andre says:

    Mk

    And of all things a rotary motor!

  21. 21

    DonaldM @#9: Good analysis. However, I disagree that such disputes are never about the evidence per se; most of my arguments are with atheists that deny that anything can be reasonably construed as evidence for god by any reasonable person.

    They are quite adamant about not letting a divine foot in the door, and so offer up blanket denials about any evidence for god or the supernatural.

  22. 22
    daveS says:

    Andre,

    You set the bar low for miracles water to wine is easy peasy.

    Ok, where can I witness this?

  23. 23

    daveS @18:

    I suggest that we are all so deeply embedded in an ongoing procession of the miraculous in every location we look that the sheer ubiquitous of the miraculous allows us to consider it all normal and natural.

    For example, you refer to turning water into wine as a miraculous, potentially convincing occurrence, when such a parlor trick pales to insignificance in light of our ability, without any technical understanding whatsoever, to simply intend an action and our body springs into action. Billions of cells and molecular exchanges go off in a glory of precise sequence, quality and quantity as our body operates simply from a conceptual intention, that command translated into countless microsopic actions to manifest the macroscopic goal.

    Doubters always turn their eyes away from the real evidence all around them and point at that which they feel confident they will not ever experience as that which might convince them.

    IMO, for anyone not resolutely committed against theism, there is overwhelming evidence that a god of some sort exists – which is why, as I say, no amount of evidence can pry off the blindfold of denial.

  24. 24
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS @ 22.

    Suppose you are on a jury. The issue is whether a driver negligently ran a red light.

    Witness 1 (call him Sam) is the only one who was in a position to tell the color of the light. Sam testifies that the light was green.

    The evidence closes and the case goes to the jury.

    The jury begins deliberations. One of the other jurors says, “I think we should consider finding for the defendant, because the evidence suggests the light was green.”

    You say, “Evidence, what evidence?”

    The other juror says, “Well, Sam testified the light was green.”

    Don’t you think you would look pretty stupid if you replied: “Ok, where can I witness this?”

    Let me answer that question for you. Yes, you would.

    You can say that you don’t believe the testimony of the witnesses to Jesus’ miracles. You can even say that you don’t believe the testimony was reliably transmitted and is therefore suspect.

    But Dave, for goodness sake, it is just plain stupid to say that you do not believe Jesus’ miracles occurred because you did not personally witness them.

  25. 25
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    For example, you refer to turning water into wine as a miraculous, potentially convincing occurrence, when such a parlor trick pales to insignificance in light of our ability, without any technical understanding whatsoever, to simply intend an action and our body springs into action.

    I’m sure you are aware that people are purported to have found this “parlor trick” convincing 2000 years ago, right? I have no idea how the human body/mind works. I do know that water just doesn’t turn into wine “naturally”. Therefore I would find such an event very persuasive.

  26. 26
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    But Dave, for goodness sake, it is just plain stupid to say that you do not believe Jesus’ miracles occurred because you did not personally witness them.

    Well, I’m not saying that. However in my reply to HeKS, I was referring to witnessing water change to wine myself. That’s something I would find very persuasive.

  27. 27
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    I would prefer to see water changed to beer. My bank account would be larger.

  28. 28
    AnimatedDust says:

    WJM: Have you considered/are you considering/are you working on a book?

    My hope is for the third choice.

  29. 29
    AnimatedDust says:

    DS @ 26:

    My experience is that if you were to witness that miracle, rather than being persuaded, you would contrive any explanation other than, “God did it.”

    With atheists, if you present ten pieces of evidence, they will always require 11.

    I suspect a videotape of the actual resurrection would first be claimed as CGI, and last an admission that finally, all the claims made in the Bible might be just exactly as claimed.

    For as easy as it is to live in denial, someday you have to die, either in possession of denial, or truth.

  30. 30

    I’m sure you are aware that people are purported to have found this “parlor trick” convincing 2000 years ago, right? I have no idea how the human body/mind works. I do know that water just doesn’t turn into wine “naturally”. Therefore I would find such an event very persuasive.

    I said it would be a parlor trick compared to far more miraculous abilities we ALL have, like turning food and air into energy, motion and thought, or turning intent into billions of molecular actions that produces corresponding desired actions of the body, none of which we know anything technical about how to produce or control.

    I find it disappointing that you think someone turning water into wine would be evidence of god. I mean, I grant it would be neat trick and maybe it was even evidence of magic or the supernatural, but evidence of god? Maybe tangentially, but certainly not more compelling as evidence for god than the fine-tuning evidence. Now, that’s some serious, hard-hitting evidence that even had Stephen Hawking scrambling to write a book to offer another explanation for it.

    Let me ask you, if you met a tiger that could talk and the tiger said, “I am god”, would you be inclined to believe him?

  31. 31
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    I said it would be a parlor trick compared to far more miraculous abilities we ALL have, like turning food and air into energy, motion and thought, or turning intent into billions of molecular actions that produces corresponding desired actions of the body, none of which we know anything technical about how to produce or control.

    Well, maybe so, but I also have no idea how to turn water into wine. In fact, I think it’s physically impossible. Such an act, by its very simplicity, would also be relatively easy to monitor and therefore rule out sleight of hand.

    I find it disappointing that you think someone turning water into wine would be evidence of god.

    Here’s how Jesus’ disciples felt:

    This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

    ***

    Let me ask you, if you met a tiger that could talk and the tiger said, “I am god”, would you be inclined to believe him?

    Perhaps if the tiger could actually speak fluently. I have seen dogs that have been trained to mimic human speech at a very rudimentary level, so I would want to rule that sort of thing out. I still would find the water to wine transformation more convincing, again because I think I could rule out alternative explanations with more certainty.

  32. 32

    daveS said:

    Here’s how Jesus’ disciples felt:

    They would likely feel the same way about me if I went back in time with a lighter, a flashlight, and a Glock 9mm with a few rounds of ammo. That wouldn’t make me god, though.

    I still would find the water to wine transformation more convincing, again because I think I could rule out alternative explanations with more certainty.

    Really? Someone turns water into wine and your primary, go-to explanation from a starting point of atheism is “okay, there probably is a god and god changed the water into wine?” Man, that doesn’t even make sense.

    I’ve seen better magician tricks than that. I’ve experienced more impressive supernatural feats by far that, as far as I could tell, had nothing whatsoever to do with god. Do you, as an atheist, think that if the supernatural exists and affects the world, god is the only supernatural thing interacting in the world causing “supernatural” things to happen … you know, like maybe changing water into wine?

    I take it you haven’t read much or investigated at all into religion, spirituality or the supernatural? Even in the Bible, isn’t there a Devil, angels and demons and other supernatural entities that can operate in the world, causing all sorts of unnatural things to occur?

  33. 33

    Honestly, daveS, I get the feeling you’re not really arguing in good faith here. “Maybe if the tiger spoke really fluently”?? Really? That would be the determining factor to go from atheism to belief in god – how fluently a talking tiger could speak?

    It just seems like you must be having us on.

  34. 34
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    They would likely feel the same way about me if I went back in time with a lighter, a flashlight, and a Glock 9mm with a few rounds of ammo. That wouldn’t make me god, though.

    Well, I think time travel of that type is impossible, so this scenario could not happen. The water to wine transformation was not exactly a controlled experiment, granted, but what other explanation would the disciples have?

    Really? Someone turns water into wine and your primary, go-to explanation from a starting point of atheism is “okay, there probably is a god and god changed the water into wine?”

    Well, who else could achieve a physical impossibility?

    I’ve seen better magician tricks than that.

    Notice I specified above that the act would have to take place under controlled conditions, where I could physically examine the water, wine, containers, etc. Perhaps Penn and Teller could assist in checking for trickery. 🙂

    Do you, as an atheist, think that if the supernatural exists and affects the world, god is the only supernatural thing interacting in the world causing “supernatural” things to happen … you know, like maybe changing water into wine?

    People tell me there are angels, demons, and so on, so I do acknowledge that beings other than God might have these abilities. In my experience, people do not. So if I did witness water being changed into wine (again, under controlled conditions), then I would probably become a theist.

    Edit:

    Even in the Bible, isn’t there a Devil, angels and demons and other supernatural entities that can operate in the world, causing all sorts of unnatural things to occur?

    Overlooked this. Yes, but if these things exist, God most likely exists, right?

  35. 35
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    Honestly, daveS, I get the feeling you’re not really arguing in good faith here. “Maybe if the tiger spoke really fluently”?? Really? That would be the determining factor to go from atheism to belief in god – how fluently a talking tiger could speak?

    It just seems like you must be having us on.

    I’m trying to respond seriously to a rather outlandish scenario.

    Some animals can mimic human speech. Tigers cannot, as far as I am aware, but it’s conceivable that someone could train one to grunt out a few syllables, or more likely fake the whole thing.

    If I found that the tiger was able to actually converse, I would have a very hard time explaining it.

    What would you conclude if you witnessed a tiger saying, in basso profondo, “I am God”?

  36. 36
    rvb8 says:

    I have never witnessed a miracle. Or at least not a biblical miracle. I am well aware that God’s miracles have diminished over time, and He now confines Himself to curing cancer, or preventing you boarding a flight that is destined to crash. But, a true, honest to God miracle? No! It seems He really does demand faith, which is fine. But if you are going to talk about ‘proof’, please be adult about it.

    This is probably my last post for some years. I was banned several years ago, around the ‘Dover Debacle’, because I asked questions Mr Dembski deemed impertinant. Good luck with your science.

  37. 37

    daveS said:

    Well, who else could achieve a physical impossibility?

    1. Why would you say that water turning into wine is a physical impossibility? Please explain how it is “impossible”.

    2. Why would you think god can generate a physical impossibility into the physical world? Can god create a triangular object with 4 sides?

    So if I did witness water being changed into wine (again, under controlled conditions), then I would probably become a theist.

    Well, I didn’t think your atheism was rational in the first place, so I can see why some such spectacle might irrationally move you from atheism to theism.

    As an atheist, I saw my wife faith-healed from terminal cancer. My go-to thought was not “there is a god and god did it”. It was, rather, “Okay, I need to open my mind about what this world is and how it works, because that just happened and I’m not going to lie to myself to cover it up.”

    I guess that’s the difference beween you and me. I’ve seen plenty of miracles and supernatural events that didn’t have anything to do with god per se, so someone changing water into wine wouldn’t impress me in the way it would apparently transfix and transform you.

    BTW, I’m just as unamused by irrational theists as I am irrational atheists. Imagine, becoming a theist because one saw water being turned into wine! A rock-solid foundation for theism if any there was one (/sarcasm)! Dontchaknow?

  38. 38
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    WJM: “1. Why would you say that water turning into wine is a physical impossibility? Please explain how it is “impossible”.”

    Ask a chemist.

  39. 39
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    Why would you say that water turning into wine is a physical impossibility? Please explain how it is “impossible”.

    Well, a chemist could probably give a better answer, but here are a few things. The water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen atoms (plus some trace impurities). The wine would contain ethanol, which requires carbon atoms. The other components of wine include sugars, acids, and so forth, that again are not made up purely of hydrogen and oxygen, so the chemistry won’t work out. That is, unless there is nuclear fusion happening?

    Anyway, I quite confidently assert that humans cannot actually turn water into wine.

    Why would you think god can generate a physical impossibility into the physical world?

    Maybe “physical impossibility” is not the right expression. What should we call it when God turns water into wine or parts the Red Sea? Those things, which appear to be physically impossible to us humans, are what I’m talking about.

    Can god create a triangular object with 4 sides?

    No.

    I guess that’s the difference beween you and me. I’ve seen plenty of miracles and supernatural events that didn’t have anything to do with god per se, so someone changing water into wine wouldn’t impress me in the way it would apparently transfix and transform you.

    Yes, we are different in that respect.

  40. 40
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM:

    They would likely feel the same way about me if I went back in time with a lighter, a flashlight, and a Glock 9mm with a few rounds of ammo.

    One of my favorite SF shorts is based on this premise, Frost and Thunder by Randall Garrett.

  41. 41
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    WJM: “As an atheist, I saw my wife faith-healed from terminal cancer.”

    I sincerely wish your wife and yourself well. But, you do realize, that cancer grades on the bell curve. There are people out on the edge of the curve that “beat the odds”.

    I’ve seen plenty of miracles and supernatural events that didn’t have anything to do with god per se, so someone changing water into wine wouldn’t impress me in the way it would apparently transfix and transform you.”

    Maybe you could give us some examples. My experience is that what some people call miracles are simply improbable events. Improbable still means possible.

  42. 42

    WJM

    “BTW, I’m just as unamused by irrational theists as I am irrational atheists. Imagine, becoming a theist because one saw water being turned into wine!”

    I remember when I was a young Christian (19yo) I often heard claims from Christians about healings and other alleged miracles. I had a lot of doubt about these claims. I still do in many respects. However, I too have crossed the threshold of incredulity regarding miracles. They happen. I have experienced them and there is no rational explanation for them. There are of course many reasonable counter arguments that people think of, but what makes them miracles, is that we have exhausted all reasonable accounts, and they come out unscathed by the attacks of human reason.

    But surprisingly, it isn’t these events that convince me that God exists. I’m convinced by the abstract metaphysical arguments alone. Miracles only confirm my prior conviction that God exists.

  43. 43
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    With all respect, miraculous cures assume the infallibility of doctors and their diagnosis. But, doctors will be the first to admit that they are fallible.

  44. 44
    daveS says:

    Further to the water/wine transformation: here is a paper which calculates the energy required to convert 20 to 30 gallons of pure water (the approximate amount mentioned in John) to a 12% ABV water-ethanol mixture, assuming that the carbon is obtained from the atmosphere.

    The end result is roughly 0.3 GJ, or about 80 kWh. The average US home consumes 911 kWh of electricity per month.

  45. 45

    daveS asks:

    What would you conclude if you witnessed a tiger saying, in basso profondo, “I am God”?

    There would be many things go through my mind as options. That the tiger was actually god would be a very, very remote possibility regardless of how well it spoke.

  46. 46

    DaveS @ #44:

    I’m confused now. Are you saying it is possible to transform water into wine with a corresponding expenditure of energy? Are you saying it just “appears” to be impossible to us, but that it’s not really impossible?

    Are you saying that it would just be really, really unlikely and difficult?

  47. 47
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    I’m saying it’s impossible for a human to turn water into wine as Jesus is said to do in the Gospel of John.

    It is possible to convert water and carbon from the atmosphere to an ethanol-water mixture, given special equipment and a power source.

    Here’s the conclusion of the paper:

    The reaction outlined is endothermic and will not chemically proceed spontaneously. However, such a reaction leads to an increase in entropy of the system and is physically allowed. The input of 0.25 GJ — 0.37 GJ of energy is a significant task and this is still under the assumption of a perfect catalyst, thus without additional equipment the extract from John does remain a miracle.

  48. 48
    Andre says:

    DaveS

    And you suspect Jesus was just a man? Can I make a suggestion? If you have time read the following book….

    https://www.amazon.com/Carpenter-Changed-World-Richard-Breese/dp/1419681672

    But I will say it again in case you missed it. YOU are the biggest miracle you will ever witness.

  49. 49
    rvb8 says:

    I agree Andre. The odds against just the right chemicals, coming together in this place, in the universe, annd at this time, to create you/me are astronomically large. That is given the number of carbon and other necessary molecular base ingredients that exist in this universe. That particular natural miracle is more than enough for me, requiring more astonishment borders on selfishness or solopsism.
    I do however understand the need to interpret as miraculous events that are at most highly improbable. It is a human condition which is seen in all cultures. At the Dome of the Rock you can see (according to the faithful) the hoof print of Mohummed’s horse as it jumped to heaven. I cannot say this event didn’t happen, but given what we know of the laws which govern our universe this particular miracle is probably best treated as not actually true.
    As for the Jesus miracles of which I was an avid reader when growing up, I think it is more than safe to catagorize them in a similar manner.

  50. 50
    HeKS says:

    daveS @18

    I would find miracles, signs, and wonders convincing. Many of my Christian friends talk about how they sense God acting in their lives, and I would also count that as evidence (if I experienced it), although maybe not as conclusive.

    I too have problems with the statement “exceptional claims require exceptional evidence”. Just regular evidence of the form I described above, for example water changing into wine (under controlled conditions) would suffice in my case.

    I see. Ok, well I’d like to get your view on something.

    Let’s imagine that right now, in 2016, we observe miracles happening. They are being done by a relatively small group of Christians who credit God for their works and they are widely observed by both believers and non-believers. Even militant atheists who want Christianity done away with are forced to admit these people are doing incredible things and have no idea how it’s happening. However, while all this is going on, the very people who are working these miracles tell people that the miracles are serving a specific purpose in a specific time but that they will soon stop and overt miracles of this sort will not happen anymore because they will have served their intended purpose. As it happens, some of those who have been observing the miracles have also been writing about them, and along with their record of the miracles they record the comments that soon the miracles will stop because they will have served their intended purpose.

    A few years later, the people who were performing the miracles begin to die off until eventually all of them are gone. Nobody is performing miracles anymore. Time passes. One hundred years. Five hundred years. A thousand years. No overt miracles of the sort seen in 2016 have happened in the interim, but people have continued to believe in the historicity of those original miracles and in the existence of the God who was credited for them, and they have discovered further forms of scientific and philosophical evidence that is highly supportive of belief in God existence.

    One day, a skeptical but reasonable agnostic comes along. He has read the records of the 2016 miracles but he’s not sure he believes God exists. When he comes in contact with some Christians, they tell him that apart from the ancient miracles there is strong scientific evidence and sound philosophical arguments pointing to God’s existence. The agnostic is not sure he’s convinced by these either, though he’s also not sure there’s a legitimately better explanation for the evidence than God’s existence, even though he knows some ideas have been bandied about. In response, the Christian asks him, “What kind of evidence would convince you?”

    Given this scenario, here’s my question: Keeping in mind that this agnostic has read the detailed accounts of the 2016 miracles, would it be intellectually appropriate for him to decide that the only kind of evidence that would convince him to a standard of Moral Certainty that God exists and that Christian belief is true would be witnessing overt miracles of the sort that were described as happening in 2016?

    Take care,
    HeKS

  51. 51
    Andre says:

    RVB8….

    Right so you are uninformed then, Mohammed is dead and buried at Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Masjid_an-Nabawi

    Jesus’s body on the other hand, has to this day not been found……..

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

    But many many witnesess, accounted of seeing him alive after his death, and 11 scared, men became the boldest we have ever known enduring major pain and suffering for their witness accounts and during 40 years of persecution that followed nobody could get them to recant or change their minds.

    Nobody goes through that kind of torture unless it’s true.

  52. 52
    Andre says:

    DaveS

    It is possible to convert water and carbon from the atmosphere to an ethanol-water mixture, given special equipment and a power source.

    You do know that those of us who believe that Jesus is God, consider Him the ultimate power source for everything…

    Hebrews 1:3

    “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power”

    Job 38:33-37

    “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, Or fix their rule over the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, So that an abundance of water will cover you? “Can you send forth lightnings that they may go And say to you, ‘Here we are’? ”

    Psalm 104:1-35

    “Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; ”

    Psalm 135:6-7

    “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightnings for the rain, Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.”

    Psalm 145:16-17

    “You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds.”

    Matthew 10:29-30

    “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

    Colossians 1:17

    “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

    Acts 17:28

    “for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.”

    Job 33:4

    “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

    Psalm 36:6

    “Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep O LORD, You preserve man and beast.”

    1 Corinthians 8:6

    “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”

    Genesis 8:22

    “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.”

    Just over 6 years ago I did not believe or have faith in any of it, today I do.

  53. 53
    Marfin says:

    Dave s , maybe if you left the water long enough it might evolve into wine, do you think thats possible.
    As a Christian I believe miracles have ceased 1 cor 13-8, they were always only to show Gods hand and prove that whoever was doing the miracle was from God and spoke on God`s behalf , we dont need miracles now we have the bible.But as for not believing water to wine because you have not witnessed it, well the beginning of life itself no one witnessed it, no one can make life from non life no matter how hard they try.
    The more they try they more problems it raise`s .Now if the greatest minds available cannot make it happen why would any one believe it could happen by chance over time
    from hydrogen gas and helium and maybe some lithium (see big bang).So Dave do you believe water can change to wine by evolution or life from gas by evolution , which to your mind is the bigger miracle.

  54. 54
    Rennie says:

    daveS:

    Miracles are not just confined to obvious supernatural phenomena which you cant explain.

    For example, my sister in law, as a single mother, for years struggled without a her own vehicle. She would commute to work and back whilst at the same time organizing her two boys (one has a mental condition) transportation to school and back. As you can imagine, this is an exhausting task by itself.

    A couple of months ago she was informed that her office will be relocating 50km away from her current residence. Now, for a single mom unable to afford her own vehicle, the costly exercise of moving becomes daunting and basically un-affordable.

    Shortly after receiving this news, she was invited to a work function where she met an older lady from a different branch. As natural conversation generally flows, the two ended up exchanging their life stories. At the end of the evening the older lady, unexpectedly, told my sister in law, that she has a car that is not being used. And she wants to give this car to her. Naturally this was internally met with skepticism.

    Nonetheless, 2 weeks later, the older lady’s son drove this car 800km and delivered the same to my sister in law, no strings attached. It was hers to do as she wish. The car was put in her name, the whole nine yards. All of us was like “whats the catch”.

    During her monthly visit to the local hospital for her younger son’s check-up, my sister in law met a lady whilst waiting in line. The lady seemed nervous, so my sister in law asked if she was OK. The lady (nearly in tears) told her how she felt guilty for having no option but to leave her adult paraplegic son at home, to bring her very ill younger son to the hospital. She had no vehicle and the taxi’s are not suited or equipped to transport a paraplegic man with wheel chair and all. My sister in law offered her a lift back home and the two exchanged numbers in case the lady ever needed a lift again.

    Two hours later, the lady phoned my sister in law and told her that when she arrived home, she found her paraplegic son busy choking to death. It turns out that the son had somehow slipped down the wheel chair, getting his neck caught on the wheel chair waist harness. If the lady did not arrive when she did, her son would have choked to death.

    When my sister in law told the above story to the lady which originally gave her the car, the lady cried saying how this confirms the feeling that was impressed upon her, to give her car away.

    There are miracles like these happening all the time. However i have found that those who do not wish it to be true will always try to find some natural explanation for something like this.

    However, I would pick to see a miracle like this any day, over seeing someone turn water into wine.

  55. 55
    Marfin says:

    Marfin When a body is found and no witnesses to what happened the police are called in to investigate was there any foul play.
    So because there were no witnesses they will use various methods to determine what happened . If there are six gun shot wounds to the head then maybe murder and not suicide is the more likely reason but maybe if poison is found to be the cause and a vial of poison is found next to the body maybe suicide is more likely.Well the universe and all we see is the body and God and nature are the possible causes, now which to anyone’s mind is the more likely and reasonable explanation.This is the crux of the matter there is not absolute proof on either side its just which explanation is to anyone`s mind the more logical and reasonable, So to me mind and intelligence did it because thats seem`s to be how you get complex arrangements of matter , now if someone chooses to believe we came from nothing and everything we see and I mean everything we see, love, life morality,maths,intelligence dogs, cats, butterflies everything came from a cloud of gas a la the big bang this does not seem reasonable to me, but thats just me.
    I know this sounds very simplistic , but the simple explanation is usually the right one.

  56. 56
    bornagain77 says:

    Since the term ‘random chance’ is more a less synonymous with the word miracle, then I hold that the atheist already does believe in ‘miracles’.

    Pauli’s ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science – Harald Atmanspacher
    Excerpt: “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”
    Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28)
    http://www.igpp.de/english/tda/pdf/paulijcs8.pdf

    In fact, seeing that the atheist, nor anyone else, has ever actually seen highly sophisticated molecular machines ‘randomly’ coming into existence, yet the atheist claims to believe they did ‘randomly’ come into existence, then I hold that the atheist also has an amazing level of blind faith to believe in ‘miracles’ he has never seen.

    Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Talbott – Fall 2011
    Excerpt: The situation calls to mind a widely circulated cartoon by Sidney Harris, which shows two scientists in front of a blackboard on which a body of theory has been traced out with the usual tangle of symbols, arrows, equations, and so on. But there’s a gap in the reasoning at one point, filled by the words, “Then a miracle occurs.” And the one scientist is saying to the other, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”
    In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
    This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....randomness

    So it is not that the atheist lacks the faith to believe in unseen ‘miracles’, the atheist simply, for whatever severely misguided reason, refuses to believe in a miracle maker. Now which takes more faith, to believe in ‘miracles’ that happen for no reason whatsoever or to believe in miracles that happen for a purpose?

    I hold that it is far more scientific, and rational, to believe in miracles that happen by a miracle maker than to believe in random miracles that happen for no reason whatsoever. In fact, believing in random miracles undermines science.

    The End Of Materialism? – Dr. Bruce Gordon
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as an explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

    Quoted from the last power-point of this video:

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff_sNyGNSko

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale.
    For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Verse:

    Romans 1:20-23
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    Brooks & Dunn – Believe
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5z-jjWyAJQ

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

    (Centrality Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1143437869002478/?type=2&theater

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

  57. 57
    john_a_designer says:

    I think the real question is not whether there is evidence for God, but what world view best explains the evidence that we presently have?

    In the west the debate appears to currently center around two world views. On one hand, there is naturalism; on the other, there is theism. (With naturalism having been clearly dominant for the past 150-200 years.)

    The late Cornell university astronomer Carl Sagan was well aware of this historical conflict between naturalism and theism, or as he described it, between science and religion. In his book Broca’s Brain, in a chapter titled, “A Sunday Sermon,” Sagan appears to vacillate about the relationship of science and religion. At times he seems to be sounding a conciliatory note, but then, at other times, he’s confrontational. For example, he writes, “A universe that is infinitely old and a God who is infinitely old are, I think, equally deep mysteries.” However, a few pages earlier he praises a book by Cornell universities’ founder and president, Andrew Dickson White, entitled, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. Despite Sagan’s enthusiastic endorsement, White’s book has almost universally been discredited by historians of science as being more an anti-religious propaganda piece rather than a work of serious scholarship. Most historians of science reject the so-called warfare thesis put forth in White’s book as a myth. The relationship between science and the Christian faith is much more complicated and nuanced than White implies. Sagan, however, appears to uncritically swallow White’s thesis hook-line-and-sinker.

    As a Christian-theist, who has thought long and deeply about the basic assumptions underlying my world view, I don’t think Sagan, along with other likeminded naturalist’s, really understand the fundamental differences between the two world views. They are not really equal. For example, the naturalistic worldview that Sagan seemed to prefer, requires an infinite regress of causes. However, is such an infinite regress something that is scientifically provable? Is it even possible?

    Sagan thought it was at least possible. He thought it was possible we lived in an oscillating universe that has gone through an infinite number of cycles, each cycle beginning with a new Big Bang which then ultimately collapses on itself. However that idea has since been discredited. It is now known that the universe is expanding too quickly to ever collapse back on itself. So, we do not live in an oscillating universe.

    However, Sagan also thought that mathematics was on his side. He writes,

    Humans seem to have a natural abhorrence of an infinite regression of causes, and this distaste is at the root of the most famous and most effective demonstrations of the existence of God by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. But these thinkers lived before the infinite series was a mathematical commonplace. If the differential and integral calculus or transfinite arithmetic had been invented in Greece in the fifth century B.C., and not subsequently suppressed, the history of religion in the West might have been very different-or at any rate we would have seen less of the pretension that theological doctrine can be convincingly demonstrated by rational argument to those who reject alleged divine revelation, as Aquinas attempted in the Summa Contra Gentiles.(p.335)

    The famous German mathematician David Hilbert would have disagreed. He wrote,

    “The in?nite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought… The role that remains for the in?nite to play is solely that of an idea.”

    So, according to Hilbert an infinite sequence of real causes does not exist. Of course, other mathematicians would disagree. But the fact that mathematicians disagree about the existence of actual infinities cast doubt on the idea that the theological arguments would have been easily undermined. Indeed one could just as well argue that it would have had little effect over the status quo. It certainly doesn’t provide the knockout argument that Sagan thought it would. But there is more bad news for Sagan…

    One of the inventors of differential and integral calculus, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, also had problems with an infinite regress. However, his argument wasn’t really mathematical but philosophical. According to Leibniz:

    For a sufficient reason for existence cannot be found merely in any one individual thing or even in the whole aggregate and series of things. Let us imagine the book on the Elements of Geometry to have been eternal, one copy always being made from another; then it is clear that though we can give a reason for the present book based on the preceding book from which it was copied, we can never arrive at a complete reason, no matter how many books we may assume in the past, for one can always wonder why such books should have existed at all times; why there should be books at all, and why they should be written in this way. What is true of books is true also of the different states of the world; every subsequent state is somehow copied from the preceding one (although according to certain laws of change). No matter how far we may have gone back to earlier states, therefore, we will never discover in them a full reason why there should be a world at all, and why it should be such as it is.

    Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Philosophical Papers and Letters, ed. by Leroy E. Loemker (Kluwer Academic, 1989); p. 486.

    Basically, Leibniz’s argument is that with an infinite regress you never reach the ultimate explanation. Of course, the naturalist could still argue that maybe there is no ultimate explanation. Bertrand Russell conceded as much in his 1948 BBC radio debate with Fr. Fredrick Copleston about the existence of God. However, even if that could be proven as true (which it can’t) it nevertheless has dire consequences, which we have argued about on other threads, when we begin to consider meaning and morals. (Briefly, if God is not the ultimate explanation for our existence then there is no kind of ultimate explanation in the area of meaning and morals.)

  58. 58

    Rennie @ #54:

    What a beautiful story! It is very similar in nature to many such miraculous stories I have about our lives, many of them with elements few would ever believe, many with bizarre sequences of events that seem entirely arranged from a higher perspective.

    When you have enough of these kinds of arranged sequences occur, you can appreciate that there is a higher plan and an unseen influence guiding and helping you with your life – if you’ll let it. My best accomplishment was getting my “knowledge” out of the way and not actively stopping these miraculous sequences from continuing out of stubbornly clinging to the idea that they could not happen.

    Like your sister-in-law with “what’s the catch” suspicion, my own thing was “well that’s never going to happen” – but, I set that aside because of my wife’s faith that it could and went through the motions, in the beginning, for her sake. I refused to let my skepticism and “knowledge” be what stopped us from trying and what ensued was, IMO, no less miraculous than water turning into wine.

    But, I was at least willing to see it, accept it, and act as if what I was seeing was true. After seeing the miraculous occur repeatedly, I realized that what I thought the world was had to be wrong. I had to choose to set aside that which I was emotionally and intellectually committed to in order to accommodate that which had been demonstrated over and over in our lives.

    Of course, the skeptic will pass everything off as coincidence, misperceptions, etc. No event is so miraculous that denial can be forced from those who choose to remain in it.

  59. 59

    daveS said:

    I’m saying it’s impossible for a human to turn water into wine as Jesus is said to do in the Gospel of John.

    I’m not that familiar with the story. How is Jesus said to have turned the water into wine, and why is it impossible?

  60. 60
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Given this scenario, here’s my question: Keeping in mind that this agnostic has read the detailed accounts of the 2016 miracles, would it be intellectually appropriate for him to decide that the only kind of evidence that would convince him to a standard of Moral Certainty that God exists and that Christian belief is true would be witnessing overt miracles of the sort that were described as happening in 2016?

    No, other evidence should be considered as well. I’m just saying that water/wine type miracles would be most convincing and easiest to evaluate for me. Understanding the miraculous nature of a water-to-wine transformation does not require any specialized background knowledge or anything beyond normal intelligence. I believe even those with intellectual disabilities would be able to comprehend it.

    Now if those types of miracles just don’t happen anymore, then I guess that’s the breaks, and one has to look at other evidence. That can be more challenging for people such as myself who are not scientists or philosophers.

  61. 61
    daveS says:

    Rennie,

    Thanks for relating that story.

  62. 62
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    Here’s the account from John 2:

    Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

    2

    On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

    4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

    5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

    6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]

    7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

    8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

    They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

    11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

    20 to 30 gallons of water was changed to wine, apparently in a matter of minutes. I explained above that water does not have all the chemical elements that constitute actual wine. Jesus did not have the necessary equipment or power source necessary to even “simply” turn the water and ambient carbon dioxide into an ethanol-water solution, let alone a high-quality wine.

  63. 63
    daveS says:

    Marfin,

    So Dave do you believe water can change to wine by evolution or life from gas by evolution, which to your mind is the bigger miracle.

    Well, I don’t think water evolves at all, so water to wine by evolution is an impossibility. Anyway, the episode from John has no connection to evolution. The transformation was completed in a very short time period. I don’t know if there were/are any miracles involved in the formation of life on Earth.

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    “The transformation was completed in a very short time period”

    Time can work Miracles?

    The interesting thing about Darwinists appealing to deep time to work miracles is that time itself is found to be connected to entropy:

    Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012
    Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,
    Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy. ,,,
    The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,,
    http://crev.info/2012/10/shini.....rk-energy/

    Time: The Unlikely Villain
    Excerpt: When confronted with the problem of equilibrium, most scientific materialists will appeal to the magic ingredient of time. In chapter one we saw this appeal by Nobel Laureate, George Wald:

    “Time is in fact the hero of the plot. Given so much time the impossible becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: Time itself performs the miracles.” 49

    However, Dr. (Harold F.) Blum, who is a materialist, points out that Wald’s faith in the miraculous ingredient of time is mere wishful thinking. Prolonged time periods, he asserts, actually worsen the dilemma:
    “I think if I were rewriting this chapter [on the origin of life] completely, I should want to change the emphasis somewhat. I should want to play down still more the importance of the great amount of time available for highly improbable events to occur. One may take the view that the greater the time elapsed the greater should be the approach to equilibrium, the most probable state, and it seems that this ought to take precedence in our thinking over the idea that time provides the possibility for the occurrence of the highly improbable.” 50 (Emphasis added)
    According to Dr. Blum, the magic bullet of time does not increase the likelihood that chains of DNA or proteins will form by chance chemistry. In fact, according to Dr. Blum, increasing the time factor actually ensures that any primordial soup would consist of predominantly unbonded amino acids and nucleotides!
    http://www.bibliotecapleyades......life13.htm

    Moreover, at one time time itself did not exist, so apparently the miracle worker of deep time that atheists appeal to so frequently necessarily required another miracle worker to bring it into existence and endow it with its miracle working powers:

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/bigbang.html

    Big Bang Theory – An Overview of the main evidence
    Excerpt: Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970, they published papers in which they extended Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space.1, 2 According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy.”3
    Steven W. Hawking, George F.R. Ellis, “The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe,” Astrophysical Journal, 152, (1968) pp. 25-36.
    Steven W. Hawking, Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, 314 (1970) pp. 529-548.
    http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

    As to this claim:

    Jesus did not have the necessary equipment or power source necessary to even “simply” turn the water and ambient carbon dioxide into an ethanol-water solution, let alone a high-quality wine.

    You do realize that Jesus was God incarnate, i.e. The only begotten Son of God, don’t you? And with that little caveat that you overlooked, He had access to the infinite Mind of God. Or do you still insanely deny the reality of your own mind just so as to deny the reality of God?

    i.e. In their claim that God is an illusion, the atheist also, in a shining example of poetic justice, ends becoming an illusion instead of a real person:

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession (by Coyne) that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.) Prometheus cannot be at once unbound and unreal; the human will cannot be simultaneously triumphant and imaginary.
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    As to available ‘power source’,

    How the Power of Intention Alters Matter – Dr. William A. Tiller
    Excerpt: “Most people think that the vacuum is empty, but for internal self consistency of quantum mechanics and relativity theory, there is required to be the equivalent of 10 to 94 grams of mass energy, each gram being E=MC2 kind of energy. Now, that’s a huge number, but what does it mean practically? Practically, if I can assume that the universe is flat, and more and more astronomical data is showing that it’s pretty darn flat, if I can assume that, then if I take the volume or take the vacuum within a single hydrogen atom, that’s about 10 to the minus 23 cubic centimeters. If I take that amount of vacuum and I take the latent energy in that, there is a trillion times more energy there than in all of the mass of all of the stars and all of the planets out to 20 billion light-years. That’s big, that’s big! And if consciousness allows you to control even a small fraction of that, creating a big bang is no problem.”
    – Dr. William Tiller – has been a professor at Stanford U. in the Department of materials science & Engineering
    Quote at 23:44 minute mark
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw8dKOZqoFw&feature=player_detailpage#t=1424

    Cosmic coincidence spotted – Philip Ball – 2008
    Excerpt: One interpretation of dark energy is that it results from the energy of empty space, called vacuum energy. The laws of quantum physics imply that empty space is not empty at all, but filled with particles popping in and out of existence. This particle ‘fizz’ should push objects apart, just as dark energy seems to require. But the theoretical value of this energy is immense — so huge that it should blow atoms apart, rather than just causing the Universe to accelerate.
    Physicists think that some unknown force nearly perfectly cancels out the vacuum energy, leaving only the amount seen as dark energy to push things apart. This cancellation is imperfect to an absurdly fine margin: the unknown ‘energy’ differs from the vacuum energy by just one part in 10^122. It seems incredible that any physical mechanism could be so finely poised as to reduce the vacuum energy to within a whisker of zero, but it seems to be so.
    http://www.nature.com/news/200.....8.610.html

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The main originator of Quantum Theory – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)(Of Note: Max Planck was a devoted Christian

  65. 65

    daveS said:

    20 to 30 gallons of water was changed to wine, apparently in a matter of minutes. I explained above that water does not have all the chemical elements that constitute actual wine. Jesus did not have the necessary equipment or power source necessary to even “simply” turn the water and ambient carbon dioxide into an ethanol-water solution, let alone a high-quality wine.

    Couple of questions. These may seem silly to you, but I assure you there is a serious point to these questions.

    1. Does water have all of the atomic elements (protons, neutrons, electrons) necessary to constitute actual wine?

    2. Is there something that physically prevents the subatomic constituents of water from spontaneously transforming into a wine configuration?

    3. How do you know that Jesus did not have the necessary equipment or power source? Just because something isn’t mentioned int the Bible doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

    4. How do you know that there is not a simpler way of reconfiguring water molecules into wine molecules – one that doesn’t require an external power source or any equipment?

  66. 66

    BA77: I was hoping you’d bring the relevant science to the discussion. I hope daveS avails himself of the information you’re bringing to the table.

  67. 67
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    1. Does water have all of the atomic elements (protons, neutrons, electrons) necessary to constitute actual wine?

    I believe it has all particles that constitute wine.

    2. Is there something that physically prevents the subatomic constituents of water from spontaneously transforming into a wine configuration?

    Not that I know of. However, I’d like to see someone with more knowledge investigate the amount of energy required and how much would be released as this happened. Would it be possible without vaporizing the surrounding area?

    3. How do you know that Jesus did not have the necessary equipment or power source? Just because something isn’t mentioned int the Bible doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

    The paper quotes a minimum of 80 kWh required to complete the reaction. I don’t believe the technology existed at that time to supply this amount of energy in a matter of minutes.

    4. How do you know that there is not a simpler way of reconfiguring water molecules into wine molecules – one that doesn’t require an external power source or any equipment?

    You will have to ask a chemist about this.

    However, the paper does conclude that “thus without additional equipment [which I did not believe existed at the time] the extract from John does remain a miracle”.

    My conclusion, which I am extremely confident of, is that if water was converted to wine as described in John, it was a miracle, and if I had been one of Jesus’ disciples at that wedding, I would have considered it to be strong evidence of His divinity.

  68. 68
    daveS says:

    PS to my #67: Obviously if I had been at that wedding and observed the transformation, I would know nothing of modern chemistry or physics. I would still have concluded it was likely a “supernatural” event, provided I was able to check that there were no tricks involved.

  69. 69

    Earlier in the thread, DaveS said:

    Well, maybe so, but I also have no idea how to turn water into wine. In fact, I think it’s physically impossible.

    Also:

    I’m saying it’s impossible for a human to turn water into wine as Jesus is said to do in the Gospel of John.

    Now, more recently, he said:

    daveS said:

    Not that I know of. However, I’d like to see someone with more knowledge investigate the amount of energy required and how much would be released as this happened. Would it be possible without vaporizing the surrounding area?

    The paper quotes a minimum of 80 kWh required to complete the reaction. I don’t believe the technology existed at that time to supply this amount of energy in a matter of minutes.

    You will have to ask a chemist about this.

    However, the paper does conclude that “thus without additional equipment [which I did not believe existed at the time] the extract from John does remain a miracle”.

    My conclusion, which I am extremely confident of, is that if water was converted to wine as described in John, it was a miracle, and if I had been one of Jesus’ disciples at that wedding, I would have considered it to be strong evidence of His divinity.

    And, from a previous post:

    That can be more challenging for people such as myself who are not scientists or philosophers.

    So, this series of responses will suffice to bring us to the point.

    By his own admission, daveS is neither scientist nor philosopher. Even so, he has offered a paper that claims to examine what would be chemically necessary, in terms of ingredients and energy, to transform water into wine. DaveS, not being a scientist, cannot vet the accuracy of this paper himself; he must accept what it says as written testimonial evidence.

    Yet, daveS denies as equally valid the written testimonial evidence provided in the Bible and by billions of people over thousands of years wrt their experience of god. I assume daveS is not a historian or a Biblical scholar; so, by what reasoning does daveS accept one piece of written testimony over other testimonies?

    Furthermore, daveS has asserted that he thinks it is impossible for water to transform into wine; yet daveS is not a chemist. DaveS seems unaware that this may not even be a question best suited for a chemist, but rather, perhaps, a physicist – in particular, a quantum physicist (as BA77’s posts point out).

    DaveS doesn’t account for unknown technologies that may exist, and may have existed at the time.

    After DaveS admits to his lack of qualifications and knowledge in what may be pertinent areas, he then says he is quite confident in his position – that changing water into wine would be a “miracle” – a physical impossibility that (for whatever reason) only god could achieve.

    As we can easily see, daveS has no grounds upon which to rest such confidence. So, one wonders, why would a particular occurrence, which daveS has no capacity to personally vet as miraculous, let alone identify the source of the transformation as “god” (which is where daveS’ lack of philosophy kicks in, drawing an unwarrated conclusion), convince daveS that god exists?

    The answer is not found in either logic or science. I have often run into atheists that demand god “grow a limb back” or some other such challenge before they will believe (even though a limb growing back after prayer doesn’t logically imply that god must exist). What all those challenges have in common is that the challenger is confident that the challenge cannot be met. They unerringly pick something they think will never (and could never) happen to be their litmus test for abandoning their atheism.

    IOW, as daveS’ comments illustrate, they don’t have to go through the trouble of educating themselves about science or philosophy, or deeply examine the arguments for god or understand their own hypocrisy (or do anything about it) when it comes to morality or accepting one set of evidence and dismissing other sets of the same kind. They don’t have to do any work; they want god to meet a personal challenge. “Show me X, and I’ll believe god exists.”

    IMO, it’s the lazy man’s way of staying in denial; as long as their challenge is not met – observing what they, personally, would consider a miracle – they can keep insisting to themselves their doubt is reasonable – a sort of willful ignorance. As long as daveS doesn’t try too hard to understand the arguments, the nature of the arguments or the evidence already at hand, he can remain a blissful agnostic.

  70. 70

    daveS said:

    PS to my #67: Obviously if I had been at that wedding and observed the transformation, I would know nothing of modern chemistry or physics. I would still have concluded it was likely a “supernatural” event, provided I was able to check that there were no tricks involved.

    You don’t have the capacity to check to see if their are “no tricks involved”, daveS. Unless, of course, you’re a magician, a scientist in the related fields, and a decent logician. IOW, if you felt it was a supernatural event (even realizing your own ignorance in any relevant field for ascertaining the legitimacy of the event), for whatever reason you’d become a theist.

    That’s what you’d have us believe, anyway. It’s really a rather ridiculous position you’ve carved out for yourself.

  71. 71
    daveS says:

    WJM, bringing the heat! 🙂

    Much of your criticisms of me also apply to the disciples. Do I even need to address those? I don’t think I do. Of course none of us knows everything, or even more than a tiny fraction of the knowledge that exists.

    Likewise, I can only verify to my satisfaction that the water/wine transformation did not involve trickery. But HeKS asked about evidence establishing the existence of God with moral certainty, not absolute certainty.

    Let me describe what I had in mind for a modern-day water/wine transformation. Optimally, it would take place in a lab setting with mass spectrometers and so forth available. But even a simple demonstration in my own house would suffice. For example:

    I buy several cases of bottled water of various brands.

    I choose one at random and take a sip, observing that the color and taste is consistent with water.

    I close the bottle and place it on an empty table.

    The subject, allegedly with the power to transmute substances, does his thing, without touching the bottle or even approaching it, and the water suddenly turns dark red.

    I taste the contents of the bottle, and find that it tastes like a very high-quality wine.

    I would conclude that this person has powers that, before I witnessed the event, I would have denied exist. You are right that it would be hasty to conclude this person was God himself, but it would at least be a transformational experience for me. I don’t know how I would explain it from my current atheist stance.

    You can call this a ridiculous position, but I will stand by it.

  72. 72
    GCS says:

    I was baptized in 2001. At that time the world did not change one iota. But the world looked different to me because I had changed. The atheist who does not see evidence for God existing reaches that conclusion only because he or she does not want to see it.

    Pascal provides one of the best descriptions of the process and the reasons behind it.

    I do not want to give away the answer yet, but it is found in these questions:

    1 – Do you want love to exist?
    2 – Do you want hope to exist?

    If you want those things to exist then you need to find faith. Now faith need not be complete at the beginning. You just need to be honest in asking for the smallest indication that God exists and THEN accept that answer.

    If you do not want those two things in your life that is your choice. Until you change your mind God will never force you but He will always love you.

  73. 73
    HeKS says:

    daveS @60

    HeKS,

    Given this scenario, here’s my question: Keeping in mind that this agnostic has read the detailed accounts of the 2016 miracles, would it be intellectually appropriate for him to decide that the only kind of evidence that would convince him to a standard of Moral Certainty that God exists and that Christian belief is true would be witnessing overt miracles of the sort that were described as happening in 2016?

    No, other evidence should be considered as well

    Ok, that’s a good start, but my point really went beyond that. It was related to the following point in my earlier post to you:

    Instead, when looking to establish some proposition to a degree of Moral Certainty, the kinds of things we typically want from the proposition is that it is coherent, supported by and consistent with a sufficient degree of evidence given what we could reasonably expect to find if the proposition is true….

    So, you’re saying that other evidence beyond miracles should be considered as well, but in the scenario I described, if the records about the 2016 miracles were true, then overt miracles of the same sort are simply not a type of evidence that people living in much later times should expect to find at all. Examples of God working in people’s lives in ways both incredible and mundane are one thing, but there should be no expectation of grand, overt, public miracles used as a means of establishing God’s support behind a faith community or confirming the identity of an important religious figure. And note that this would not simply be a case of some kind of post hoc rationalization for the absence of miracles, with Christians waving 2016 off as “clearly a different time”. Instead, the claim that the miracles would stop originated at the height of the time the miracles were happening.

    Of course, as you may have guessed, the reason I’ve been describing this scenario is because it exactly represents what happened in Biblical times:

    1 Corinthians 13:8-11 –

    [I]f there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away with; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially, but when what is complete comes, what is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, to think as a child, to reason as a child; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a child.

    Miracles served to establish and build up the Christian congregation when it was in its infancy, as well as to establish the identity of Jesus for those who were disposed to accept it. But once the congregation was established and mature, miracles were no longer going to occur, nor should they be needed, because they were intended for those who were still spiritual children who had nothing else available at the time to help them establish their Christian faith amidst their cultural and religious surroundings.

    I’m just saying that water/wine type miracles would be most convincing and easiest to evaluate for me. Understanding the miraculous nature of a water-to-wine transformation does not require any specialized background knowledge or anything beyond normal intelligence. I believe even those with intellectual disabilities would be able to comprehend it.

    But there is nothing particularly difficult to understand about either the scientific or philosophical arguments for God’s existence, or for the presence of the kind of design in the universe that is highly suggestive of God’s existence.

    A person of normal intelligence can easily look at the fact that Jews and Christians, based on the Bible, believed that the universe had a beginning and was brought into existence by God while materialist leaning philosophers and scientists took the view that that the universe had existed eternally. When the evidence came in that the universe had a beginning, the scientific community was loathe to accept it specifically because of its rather blatant theistic implications. It took WAY longer to be accepted than would be expected based on the strength of the evidence, and the comments of the people who opposed it indicated how central the theistic and even specifically Biblical connections were to their opposition. Ultimately the evidence left them with no choice, but many still actively seek all manner of ways to avoid the idea that the universe had an absolute beginning in a way that goes far beyond the normal efforts of science to test and falsify a theory. A person of normal intelligence, recognizing the cause and effect relationships of reality, can look at the sudden explosion into being of the universe and realize that anything that begins to exist must have a sufficient cause of its existence.

    Such a person can also look to the apparent fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent embodied life and realize that the values determining the behavior and structure of our universe sit within the unfathomably narrow range of values that make our existence possible, and they can observe multiple scientists who are committed atheists saying that the only real choices we have to explain this state of affairs is either God or a massive multiverse (which would probably need to be infinite to account for not only the fine-tuning of the universe itself but also all the fine-tuning within it, such as the hundreds of criteria that must be met for our own planet to be capable of sustaining intelligent life over a long period of time).

    Such a person could also hear about the marvelous complexity of living things, the molecular machines that are crucial to life, the presence of a digital code and information in DNA, and the many hallmarks of design that we see in biology. They can also reason that intelligence is the only cause we actually know of that is capable of bringing about these effects, and see that even scientists who reject design admit that it gives the incredibly strong appearance of having been designed for a purpose while claiming to know better and saying that this was all really the result of natural processes that have never been observed to produce results even remotely connected the generation of the major features of any living organism. They point instead to natural processes capable of making minor adjustments to existing things within strict limits, which itself seems to be part of designed process of adaptation, and then they call for unrestrained extrapolation from the minute to the massive and say that anyone who doubts the sufficiency of such minor changes to add up to spectacular novelty must be stupid, ignorant or insane.

    And these kinds of things are just the beginning. But however technical some of the underlying details might be, the broad strokes supportive of theism are accessible to anyone of normal intelligence and even non-religious and anti-religious scientists who reject God can be found repeatedly acknowledging that fanciful science-fiction-style theories are really the only alternative to God that we have right now. And I haven’t even gotten into any of the massive problems with those alternatives.

    But consider this: In Jesus’ day, they had miracles, because that’s what was required to establish the truth, sustain faith and convince open-minded and right-hearted skeptics in that social climate, and they did their job. After the time of Jesus and his apostles, once miracles stopped, Christians had the completed Bible as a record of both history and prophecy, and that was sufficient to sustain faith and make right-hearted converts in that social climate, and so it did its job. In today’s social climate, science has become the currency of the day, and as that has happened we’ve made astounding scientific discoveries about life and the universe that strongly point to God’s existence, not least of which is the fact that we, quite miraculously, seem to be in an ideal place to make scientific discoveries, including the ones that point directly to God’s existence, and this has been sufficient to sustain faith and to convince many open-minded and right-hearted skeptics, so this evidence has done its job.

    When modern-day atheists say that they would be convinced of God’s existence if only they could observe miraculous events from the days of old, like the turning of water into wine, they are asking for evidence that was suitable for an ancient culture and social climate that didn’t have access to the mountains of evidence available in our own time, which exists in the very currency of our own social climate. This kind of refusal to accept the reality of God’s existence stems not from a dearth of relevant and reliable evidence but from an utter lack of desire to see and believe the evidence that has been made available to us, causing people to grasp at every conceivable alternative, no matter how flimsy and unsubstantiated.

  74. 74
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    BA77: “Since the term ‘random chance’ is more a less synonymous with the word miracle, then I hold that the atheist already does believe in ‘miracles’.”

    Not even close. For a miracle to be considered, random chance must be ruled out as the cause.

  75. 75
    JDH says:

    daveS – I ask you to perform a really simple task.

    First of all – ANYTHING which repeatedly defies the physical limitations of materialism should be interpreted by you as a miracle.

    You CAN BE an eye witness to a most miraculous thing! You can think the thought, “I want to raise why hand in exactly 30 seconds”. AND make it happen. AND you can do it repeatedly.

    Now making something happen AFTER an ARBITRARY amount of time is something a purely physical world is just not tuned for. It makes no sense that the particular collection of electronic impulses that allowed your mind to record the arbitrary number “30” in your thought, could set up AT THAT TIME a system so that your hand without fail was raised in exactly 30 seconds. What would really have to happen after your thought is for you to actively choose to assign the effort to raise your hand to an item that you know ticks off an interval of 30 seconds – such as a wall clock or smart phone. Your mind would quickly form a command that you will raise your hand — not in 30 seconds, but in what your mind chose as a good marker of a period of 30 seconds such as— I will raise my hand when the number “30” appears in the timer app on my smart phone. This ARBITRARY assignment of the causal factor that prompts you to raise your hand, means that NO physical process could have caused this. You had to do the miracle of doing something beyond the physical. You had to create an arbitrary command to facilitate the raising of your hand in 30 seconds. You can do this!!!

    So, go ahead daveS. Witness a miracle. Think the thought “I want to raise my hand in 30 seconds” and then make it happen. — and then do it again, and again, and again.

    You will end up being a witness to a miracle. You will have the opportunity to believe in God after all.

    OR else… you can come up with a reasonable explanation how a physical process can change the causal reason for you to raise your hand from the arbitrary thought “in 30 seconds” to “when my smart phone timer app displays “30”.

  76. 76
    Dr JDD says:

    DaveS:

    If you observed a miracle now as you describe, you would still reject true Christianity.

  77. 77
    bornagain77 says:

    Gordon Cunningham, I know you think fairly highly of your own opinion, but myself I will stick with Pauli’s opinion over yours. In fact I would probably trust a bartender’s opinion over yours.

    Moreover, you are talking about chance as if it is a cause in itself:

    “To personify ‘chance’ as if we were talking about a causal agent,” notes biophysicist Donald M. MacKay, “is to make an illegitimate switch from a scientific to a quasi-religious mythological concept.”

    Similarly, Robert C. Sproul points out: “By calling the unknown cause ‘chance’ for so long, people begin to forget that a substitution was made. . . . The assumption that ‘chance equals an unknown cause’ has come to mean for many that ‘chance equals cause.’”

    The Universal Determinism Dichotomy (UDD) – David L. Abel – 2015
    Excerpt: Sproul argues effectively that chance is not a cause of anything. Chance is nothing more than a statistical description of unknown or complex physical causation. Chance, therefore, cannot have any physical effects, since it is not a physical cause. 13,,,
    13. Sproul RC. – Not a Chance: the Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books; 1994
    https://www.academia.edu/12267097/The_Universal_Determinism_Dichotomy_UDD_

    Thus to say ‘it happened by chance’, as it is usually used by Darwinists, is in reality a ‘placeholder for ignorance’ instead of being an appeal to a known cause.

  78. 78
    mike1962 says:

    Gordon Cunningham: random chance must be ruled out as the cause.

    What is the source and nature of this “randomness” of which you speak? Do you mean by “randomness” something that is simply unpredictable by us, but not actually disconnected from deterministic causality? Or something else?

  79. 79
    vividbleau says:

    GC @74

    “random chance must be ruled out as the cause.”

    Chance is NOT A Thing (nothing). To say that random chance could be the cause is to say that nothing is the cause.

    Vivid

  80. 80
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    Vivid, chance is related to probability. Random is the lack of directionality. Surely you agree that a miracle must be discounted if there is a probability of it occurring naturally. An unexpected cure from cancer may not have a high probability but it is not a miracle. It happens at too high a frequency to qualify as a miracle. This is not to downplay the joy that family members feel when it occurs.

  81. 81
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    Thanks for the detailed post.

    But much of the supposed scientific evidence you cite for the existence of God comes from fields at the frontiers of human knowledge, where even fundamental questions remain open (cosmology, for example).

    If, as you say, there are going to be no more overt miracles, then fine. But I think it’s fairly difficult for the common layperson, such as myself, to come to an informed decision regarding these claims of fine-tuning, design in organisms, and so on.

  82. 82

    daveS:

    I accept that you have described what would be convincing evidence for you to become a theist. I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that your requirements are neither rational or scientific. A really good stage magician could easily amaze you out of your atheism, IMO.

    I’m sure you think your criteria is quite reasonable, and that’s really the pity here.

    But, I do appreciate your civil demeanor and willingness to openly and honestly engage.

  83. 83
    bornagain77 says:

    Random chance cures cancer? Random mutations cause cancer!

    Bad Luck of Random Mutations Plays Predominant Role in Cancer, Study Shows
    –Statistical modeling links cancer risk with number of stem cell divisions
    January 1, 2015
    Excerpt: In terms of cancer, we calculate that two-thirds of the variation is attributable to the random mutations that occur in stem cell divisions throughout a person’s lifetime, while the remaining risk is associated with environmental factors and inherited gene mutations.
    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org.....tudy_shows

    To the extent that a body is able to heal itself from cancer it is certainly not because of anything Darwinian evolution has ever done in the history of life but is the result of what an Intelligent agent has done in designing extensive overlapping DNA repair mechanisms in the cell (or in Drs. designing drugs). Thus however one recovers from cancer, either instantaneously or ‘naturally’ it is to be regarded as ‘miraculous’ since Darwinian evolution had nothing to do with it and Design was the cause of the cure.

  84. 84
    DonaldM says:

    William Murray wrote in #21

    However, I disagree that such disputes are never about the evidence per se; most of my arguments are with atheists that deny that anything can be reasonably construed as evidence for god by any reasonable person.

    Not sure I completely agree. Even with the way you state it here, the dispute really isn’t about the evidence per se, but what gives warrant to connecting the evidence to a certain conclusion. In this case, the conclusion that there is a God, or may be a God. Whatever observation or phenomenon is cited as being such evidence, is what it is regardless of any conclusions one might draw from it. Whatever is being observed doesn’t come with a little label attached telling us what it is evidence for (though if it did that would be powerful evidence!). Rather, evidentiary status is assigned to the evidence based on other principles and background knowledge and, yes, presuppositions, held by the observer. The dispute is over what gives warrant to evidentiary status for a certain observation. In saying there is no evidence for God, or that there can even be evidence for God even in principle (as some atheists seem to do), all they are saying is that there are no circumstances under which they would admit that a certain observation could ever legitimately give warrant to concluding that there is a God. But what gives warrant to that claim is the crux of the dispute. They like to claim its about evidence (or the lack thereof), when its really about protecting their worldview at all costs.

  85. 85
    daveS says:

    WJM,

    I accept that you have described what would be convincing evidence for you to become a theist. I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that your requirements are neither rational or scientific. A really good stage magician could easily amaze you out of your atheism, IMO.

    Could you explain in the “experiment” I described, how a magician would fool me?

    There are a couple of things I didn’t mention in the interest of brevity, but I would of course want to have some “control” bottles, and probably would request the subject perform several trials rather than one. Blinding, if possible, would also be desirable.

  86. 86
    vividbleau says:

    GC @80

    My point is that chance is “a statistical description of unknown or complex physical causation”, it is not a thing. Gotta run need to think about the rest of your comments. As short answer is I’m not sure but I see your point.

    Vivid

  87. 87
    DonaldM says:

    Dave S: The question I would put to you isn’t “what would you take to be evidence for God” but what would you say is the criterion that legitimately gives warrant to connecting any particular observed phenomenon to the conclusion God exists? Conversely, what is the criterion you apply to deny warrant to connecting some observation to the conclusion God exists? Whatever that criterion is, what gives it legitimacy? This is a really tough question to answer objectively.

  88. 88
    daveS says:

    DonaldM,

    Yes, that is a very hard question. I don’t currently have an answer for it.

  89. 89
    HeKS says:

    WJM

    I’m sure you think your criteria is quite reasonable, and that’s really the pity here.

    But, I do appreciate your civil demeanor and willingness to openly and honestly engage.

    I completely agree. daveS is somewhat of a rarity in this respect. I almost get the feeling that if we could help him to see the problematic and inequitable nature of his reasoning on this subject, he might actually come around.

  90. 90
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    I completely agree. daveS is somewhat of a rarity in this respect. I almost get the feeling that if we could help him to see the problematic and inequitable nature of his reasoning on this subject, he might actually come around.

    Do you have a criticism of the water/wine “experiment” I described?

  91. 91
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    Earlier you said this:

    I would find miracles, signs, and wonders convincing. Many of my Christian friends talk about how they sense God acting in their lives, and I would also count that as evidence (if I experienced it), although maybe not as conclusive.

    I’m just wondering here, would you really expect to see God acting in your life if you not only do not ask for it, but actually deny that God even exists?

    You say that this kind of activity would count as evidence for you, but it doesn’t seem to me that you’ve put yourself in any position to actually experience it. And if you did, what reason would you have to recognize it for what it was?

    Consider Hebrews 11:6 – “[W]ithout faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him

    Given this, do you imagine that it is very likely you will be experiencing and recognizing God’s activity in your life even if God exists and Christianity is true?

  92. 92
    HeKS says:

    daveS,

    HeKS,

    Do you have a criticism of the water/wine “experiment” I described?

    To be honest, I didn’t read the details of the experiment because to me the whole issue is irrelevant. As I said, these kinds of overt miracles simply should not be expected in our time even if God exists, Christianity is true, and the record of miracles in the Bible is accurate. They served a purpose in a particular setting, at a particular time, for a particular period and it was foretold while they were still in the process of happening that they would soon come to an end. If Christianity is true, you should not be expecting to see these kinds of things anymore. At least not originating from God. As a Christian, if I saw something like this happening today and was convinced it wasn’t a trick, I would be walking very quickly in the other direction.

  93. 93
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    I’m just wondering here, would you really expect to see God acting in your life if you not only do not ask for it, but actually deny that God even exists?

    You say that this kind of activity would count as evidence for you, but it doesn’t seem to me that you’ve put yourself in any position to actually experience it. And if you did, what reason would you have to recognize it for what it was?

    I wouldn’t expect to see God acting in my life, although I have heard former atheists say that such things happpened to them even before they became Christians, so I consider it a possibility.

    There actually was a brief time in my life when I did pray, asking for faith and guidance. I didn’t sense God in my life at that time either.

    Re #92: Ok, thanks.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    DS

    I suggest, read C S Lewis on Miracles.

    Therein, he points out that God routinely turns water plus CO2 plus light into wine year by year.

    “Naturally.”

    So the miracle — the sign pointing beyond the mundane world — is in compressing the time factor and going around the usual means, grape plant, the picking, treading and fermentation.

    The further issue is responsiveness to evidence and reason.

    Which is emerging more and more at UD as a major issue.

    Indeed, I am moving close to the view that no reasonable quantum of evidence, no signature in observables would ever satisfy some objectors to the design inference, who have displayed argument patterns as seen.

    Outright fallacy of the closed, indoctrinated, unreasonable mind. When one sees games being played with first principles of reason, that is what is on the table.

    I fear, only shocking pain is going to move such minds.

    And likely, given trends with our civilisation, the pain of going over a cliff is coming.

    Maybe, sooner than our worst nightmares could dream up.

    We are in serious trouble with reality, reasonableness and responsibility, as a civilisation.

    KF

  95. 95
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS

    I suggest, read C S Lewis on Miracles.

    Therein, he points out that God routinely turns water plus CO2 plus light into wine year by year.

    “Naturally.”

    And also nutrients from the soil.

    But again, the disciples found the practically instantaneous transformation of water to wine to be especially notable. So would I.

  96. 96
  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    BTW, I found it most remarkable that on a morning after a prayer of surrender by my mom, and the frustration of no docs available at a key med centre, my mom half carried me to the doorway of the centre in despair — I can still see it fresh in my mind’s eye. As we came through, with me semiconscious and wheezing awfully, at the foot of the entrance stairway was a taxicab with passenger door open and a man saying: Asthma, I know just the doctor for him. That is how I came to the physician who saved my life. In answer to prayer of surrender. I count this a pivotal miracle in my life. KF

  98. 98
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    Dr. Craig Keener, author of “Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts” discusses in this web series some of the trustworthy accounts of people being raised from the dead and people being healed of sicknesses from around the world. – video playlist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....fOqOmxOyU=

    Craig Keener – Miracle Reports in the Gospels and Today – lecture video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYBnJF2P_WQ

    Here is a video that gives a short history of Christianity in China:

    “..it is difficult to investigate the phenomenon of Christianity in China today without hearing stories of miraculous healings.”
    -David Aikman (‘Jesus in Beijing’) (40:00 minute mark)
    Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvgveawp4oY

    Eric Metaxas – Miracles
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtsHFc2fHOI

    “Reason and science compels us to see what previous generations could not: that our existence is an outrageous and astonishing miracle, one so startlingly and perhaps so disturbingly miraculous that it makes any miracle like the parting of the Red Sea pale in such insignificance that it almost becomes unworthy of our consideration, as though it were something done easily by a child, half-asleep. It is something to which the most truly human response is some combination of terror and wonder, of ancient awe, and childhood joy.”
    Eric Metaxas – Miracles – pages 55-56

    (GodWinks) SQuire Rushnell & daughter of Emmett Kelly on FOX & FRIENDS 6/16/13
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....9xPfNtbrqw

  99. 99
    HeKS says:

    Perhaps the brevity was part of the problem.

    Personally, I tend to be skeptical of claims about divine intervention in one’s life. It’s not that I think they are inherently implausible, but some people seem very quick to attribute every good thing that happens in their life to the direct intervention of God, and every bad thing to the direct intervention of evil spirits. Or if not every thing, then at least so many that they seem to have a very low bar for judging what probably is and what probably isn’t. I’m more of a minimalist on this issue. I believe it happens, but I also believe that incredible coincidences do happen, so when some kind of one-off unusual thing happens that seems generally unlikely but still within the bounds of plausibility on a chance hypothesis, I usually favor coincidence as the more likely explanation than any kind of supernatural influence or intervention.

    Where I stop chalking things up to coincidence or chance is when they start forming a highly unlikely pattern and/or when aspects of the experience/events don’t seem particularly prone to some kind of confirmation bias.

    For example, let me give you a personal experience, and make of it what you will.

    Almost 20 years ago, when I was a teenager, I was reading a book I’d bought second hand. It was technically in the “horror” genre I guess, but I’d read at least a dozen of the author’s books before. Every time I’d pick up and start reading this book, right from the very first time, I would get a very uneasy feeling, which struck me as odd, because what I was reading was not particularly “scary” and I’d never had that feeling when reading any of the author’s other books. Also, the conditions under which I was reading it were not ones likely to contribute to the uneasy feeling (even though I’m not really prone to that kind of effect anyway). I was reading in the middle of the afternoon in a brightly lit room. After a while, I put the book down and went about my day. That night, the night of the the first day that I owned the book and had started reading it, I had terribly violent and disturbing dreams, which had no relation whatsoever to the content in the book (like I said, I had just started reading the book and nothing remotely disturbing had happened in the story). Over the course of the next week or so, every single time I started reading the book I would get that bizarre uneasy feeling, and whether or not I had read the book during the day I would have the same kind of violent and disturbing dreams.

    Now, as I said, I’m not prone to attributing stuff to any kind of supernatural influence under normal conditions, and this was no exception. I found the whole experience weird, but I was not quick to jump to assumptions about some kind of evil influence. Still, after this kept happening so consistently for so many days on end I was having a very hard time not connecting what was happening to the book, so decided, just for the heck of it, to take the book out of my apartment and put it into a storage closet. Immediately the dreams went away. Still, I told myself that it was probably all in my head and that the sudden absence of these disturbing dreams was purely psychological, because I had connected them to the book in my mind and now that I’d moved the book out of my apartment I had set my own mind at ease, which was enough to explain why the dreams had stopped.

    A couple of weeks went by, then a month, then two. Everything was good. Suddenly, one night, the dreams came back with a vengeance. When I woke up in the morning I kind of laughed at myself for thinking they might have been connected to the presence of this book and then I went about my day as usual. Later in the afternoon I was organizing some stuff in my room and I went to put some papers into a drawer of miscellaneous stuff in my dresser, which I hadn’t opened in a few weeks. When I opened the drawer, I was shocked to see the book sitting there, and I immediately thought about my dream the night before. Still, being skeptical about the connection, I reasoned to myself that clearly someone had come across it and put it in there, but that for all I knew it had probably been there for a couple weeks without me having the dreams, so they were probably still just a coincidence. A few hours later I was talking to my mother (I still lived with my parents at the time) and I mentioned the book I’d found in my drawer. She said she’d come across it when going through the storage closet and had put it in my drawer, as I’d suspected. Then I asked when she had done it, and it turned out she had only done it the previous afternoon, just hours before I’d had the dreams again for the first time in months. That was the last straw for me. I had had no idea whatsoever that the book was back in our apartment, much less in the dresser by my bed, and the very first day that it was back there I had exactly the same terrible and violent dreams I’d had months before, on every night that the book had been in my room, which had been the first time I’d ever had dreams like that. At that point I didn’t feel like I could rationalize away the connection anymore, because there was no psychological factor that could explain why the dreams started up again. I immediately took the book, went outside and threw it in the trash. The dreams didn’t come back that night. However, just to test and see if somehow the uneasy feelings and maybe even the nightmares themselves could have somehow been connected to the content of the book (rather that to the physical object of that particular copy of the book), I went to the bookstore the next day and bought a new copy (as opposed to the second-hand one I’d had before). I read the new copy and had no issues whatsoever. No uneasy feelings. No disturbing dreams. I enjoyed the story.

    Thoughts? Would you dismiss this as just an odd coincidence? Do you think I was too eager to conclude that something abnormal was going on or that I failed to approach the situation with an appropriate degree of skepticism?

    Take care,
    HeKS

  100. 100
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    Vivid: “My point is that chance is “a statistical description of unknown or complex physical causation”, it is not a thing.”

    Agreed

    Gotta run need to think about the rest of your comments. As short answer is I’m not sure but I see your point.”

    Fair enough. I look forward to your response. But just for clarification. I wasn’t suggesting anything profound. Just that a miracle should not include anything that has a reasonable (even if it is low) probability of occurring naturally. Which isn’t to say that miracles can’t encompass these events, just that there is no way of separating them.

  101. 101
    bornagain77 says:

    “I wasn’t suggesting anything profound. Just that a miracle should not include anything that has a reasonable (even if it is low) probability of occurring naturally.”

    So does the origin of life count as a miracle in your book or is the probability for it occurring ‘naturally’ just to high for you to ever accept is as a miracle? Inquiring minds and all that!

    Signature in the Cell – Book Review – Ken Peterson
    Excerpt: If we assume some minimally complex cell requires 250 different proteins then the probability of this arrangement happening purely by chance is one in 10 to the 164th multiplied by itself 250 times or one in 10 to the 41,000th power.
    http://www.spectrummagazine.or.....ature_cell

    In fact years ago Fred Hoyle arrived at approximately the same number, one chance in 10^40,000, for life spontaneously arising.

    Fred Hoyle – Rejection of Earth-based abiogenesis
    Excerpt: Published in his 1982/1984 books Evolution from Space (co-authored with Chandra Wickramasinghe), Hoyle calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell without panspermia was one in 10^40,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (10^80), he argued that Earth as life’s place of origin could be ruled out. He claimed:
    The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle#Rejection_of_Earth-based_abiogenesis

    Professor Harold Morowitz shows that the Origin of Life ‘problem’ escalates dramatically over the oft cited 1 in 10^40,000 figure when working from a thermodynamic perspective:

    “The probability for the chance of formation of the smallest, simplest form of living organism known is 1 in 10^340,000,000. This number is 10 to the 340 millionth power! The size of this figure is truly staggering since there is only supposed to be approximately 10^80 (10 to the 80th power) electrons in the whole universe!”
    (Professor Harold Morowitz, Energy Flow In Biology pg. 99, Biophysicist of George Mason University)

    “The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero.”
    Ilya Prigogine, Gregoire Nicolis, and Agnes Babloyantz, Physics Today 25, pp. 23-28. (Sourced Quote)

    Here is the low end probability

    General and Special Evidence for Intelligent Design in Biology:
    – The requirements for the emergence of a primitive, coupled replication-translation system, which is considered a candidate for the breakthrough stage in this paper, are much greater. At a minimum, spontaneous formation of: – two rRNAs with a total size of at least 1000 nucleotides – ~10 primitive adaptors of ~30 nucleotides each, in total, ~300 nucleotides – at least one RNA encoding a replicase, ~500 nucleotides (low bound) is required. In the above notation, n = 1800, resulting in E less than 10^-1018. That is, the chance of life occurring by natural processes is 1 in 10 followed by 1018 zeros. (Koonin’s intent was to show that short of postulating a multiverse of an infinite number of universes (Many Worlds), the chance of life occurring on earth is vanishingly small.)
    http://www.conservapedia.com/G.....in_Biology

    Dr. Paul Giem did a lecture on Dr. Koonin’s paper. In the lecture, it was pointed out that Eugene Koonin’s estimates are overly optimistic on several assumptions. It was almost comical to learn some of the erroneous assumptions made by Dr. Koonin in order for him to get his ‘low’ 1 in 10^1018 probability for life originating:

    Eugene Koonin and the Origin of Life 3-7-2015 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkB8VcfvcBQ&index=17&list=PLHDSWJBW3DNUUhiC9VwPnhl-ymuObyTWJ

  102. 102
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    BA77: “So does the origin of life count as a miracle in your book or is the probability for it occurring ‘naturally’ just to high for you to ever accept is as a miracle? Inquiring minds and all that!.”

    It is possible to ask that question without all of that superfluous cut and paste that nobody reads. Just s suggestion.

    The origin of life, in my mind, is the only aspect of life where miracle might be invoked. I don’t think that it is necessary, but I must admit that this is just opinion.

    But from there on in, I have not seen a need for miracle. There are plenty of unknowns, but only a lazy mind would invoke “miracle” for an unknown. Are you lazy?

    UDEditors: Gordon, you are new here so we will clue you in. One way to be shown the exit from these pages PDQ is to abuse BA77, whom we regard as a national treasure. First and last warning.

  103. 103
    bornagain77 says:

    Sounds like the troll William Spearshake has reincarnated.

  104. 104
    Marfin says:

    DaveS So water does not evolve into anything but hydrogen gas evolved into EVERYTHING.I know water does not evolve into anything the simpler elements do not evolve over time to become wine or ants, or elephants or people.Atheists cannot believe a man who was once alive then died can come back to life again but have no problem believing life can come from something that was never alive in the first place.Once again its a question of reasonable belief. So is it reasonable to believe that a man who claimed to be God could change water into wine,perhaps , but is it reasonable to believe that the universe made itself by itself from nothing and that once all that hydrogen was created with the big bang all we had to do was wait and it turned into people , so hydrogen a colourless, odourless,gas that if left for long enough turns into people .How are atheist`s so un skeptical when it comes to fairy stories like this.

  105. 105
    jimmontg says:

    I didn’t bother to read most of the above comments, just too many arguments. I’ll just add my own two cents.
    The atheistic assertion that religion and the belief in God that that entails as just a manmade construct to keep the masses under control proposed by many founders of the murderous communist system as a vast conspiracy sounds very much like the Flat Earthers(FE). Same thing for the neo-Darwinian explanation for religion and never a good explanation against the idea that God may very well exist. I have in the last couple of weeks read some of the FE literature and it is pathetic. They assert the same kind of thing that atheists do, to wit, it is all made up to support so and so’s agenda. The FE’s use the Bible too as do so many weird cultish followers and of course all Christians are accused of the same nonsense.

    Then the abiogenesis crowd asserts that such and such type of a complicated molecule that they have absolutely no evidence for had to be like this or that and are always claiming “Science” is on their side. I always point them to Dr. James Tour’s challenge to any chemist or biologist to come and explain to him just how life came from purely mechanistic processes or even a plausible one, he has had no takers, just attackers who never engage his science. To take crystals or formation of chaotic weather systems as proof that life can come from non-life is just personal beliefs making up the facts. Where are their physics to show their assertions? The exact thing they accuse ALL theists of doing. Hasn’t any of them aware of their very human hypocrisy?

    If there is a vast conspiracy to do away with God it probably isn’t originally inspired by mankind, yet still the “inspirer” found multitudes who are only too willing to follow his teachings. I hope it ends soon.
    “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

  106. 106
    niwrad says:

    HeKS #99

    Interesting story. Likely that particular second-hand copy of the book was somehow magically “charged” with strong malefic influences coming likely from the first owner and/or his environment.

    In any case one should pay attention to what he reads because just the content of the books — their text — can be support of any sort of influences, good or evil, on the reader. Something similar can be said for movies and any other information carrier.

  107. 107
    bornagain77 says:

    GC states:

    “The origin of life, in my mind, is the only aspect of life where miracle might be invoked. I don’t think that it is necessary, but I must admit that this is just opinion.

    But from there on in, I have not seen a need for miracle.”

    Also known as the ‘give me one miracle and I will explain the rest’ method of science.

    Yet, by conceding even one miracle by God for the origin of life then GC has conceded that He believes in a God who performs miracles on earth.

    Of course, since he is really just playing games instead of being serious, GC immediately tried to walk back his concession of a miracle by God by saying “I don’t think that it (a miracle) is necessary”

    But anyways, as to this ‘give me one miracle and I will explain the rest’ method of science that he invokes, I suppose that GC is thinking that once natural selection is in operation he can explain all the diversity of life on earth by reference to the supposedly god-like power of natural selection to create all the diversity of life around us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Natural Selection does not create anything:

    “Natural selection does not act on anything, nor does it select (for or against), force, maximize, create, modify, shape, operate, drive, favor, maintain, push, or adjust. Natural selection does nothing…. Having natural selection select is nifty because it excuses the necessity of talking about the actual causation of natural selection. Such talk was excusable for Charles Darwin, but inexcusable for evolutionists now. Creationists have discovered our empty “natural selection” language, and the “actions” of natural selection make huge, vulnerable targets.”
    The Origin of Theoretical Population Genetics, 2001 (pp. 199-200) William Provine – Professor of Evolutionary Biology – Cornell University

    An Early Critique of Darwin Warned of a Lower Grade of Degradation – Cornelius Hunter – December 2012
    Excerpt: And as for Darwin’s grand principle, natural selection, (Adam Sedgwick asked Charles Darwin) “what is it but a secondary consequence of supposed, or known, primary facts.” Yet Darwin had smuggled in teleological language to avoid the absurdity and make it acceptable. For Darwin had written of natural selection “as if it were done consciously by the selecting agent.” Yet again, this criticism is cogent today. Teleological language is rampant in the evolutionary literature.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....ed-of.html

    Mutation, Not Natural Selection, Drives Evolution By Gemma Tarlach March 16, 2014
    Excerpt: “If you say evolution occurs by natural selection, it looks scientific compared with saying God created everything. Now they say natural selection created everything, but they don’t explain how. If it’s science, you have to explain every step. That’s why I was unhappy. Just a replacement of God with natural selection doesn’t change very much. You have to explain how.”
    Masatoshi Nei
    http://discovermagazine.com/20.....-evolution

    “…but Natural Selection reduces genetic information and we know this from all the Genetic Population studies that we have…”
    Maciej Marian Giertych – Population Geneticist – member of the European Parliament – EXPELLED

    Can Darwinian Evolutionary Theory Be Taken Seriously?
    – Stephen L. Talbott – May 16, 2016
    Excerpt: The influential Dutch botanist and geneticist, Hugo de Vries, framed the matter this way during the first decade of the twentieth century:

    Natural selection is a sieve. It creates nothing, as is so often assumed; it only sifts. It retains only what variability puts into the sieve. Whence the material comes that is put into it, should be kept separate from the theory of its selection. How the struggle for existence sifts is one question; how that which is sifted arose is another.34

    It was de Vries who formulated the catchy phrasing that has since been repeated many times: “Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest”.35 It’s not a concern easily dismissed. Over subsequent decades other biologists have added their own accents:

    “The function of natural selection is selection and not creation. It has nothing to do with the formation of new variation”. (Reginald Punnett [1911], British geneticist who cofounded the Journal of Genetics; quoted in Stoltzfus 2006)

    Regarding specific traits, natural selection “might afford a reason for their preservation, but never provide the cause for their origin”. (Adolf Portmann [1967, p. 123], preeminent zoologist of the middle of the twentieth century),,,

    “Natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create”. (Lynn Margulis [2011], microbiologist and botanist, pioneer in exploring the role of symbiosis in evolution, and co-developer of the Gaia hypothesis)

    The objection these estimable biologists were raising has never gained the traction it deserves. ,,,

    On the other hand, it would have been hard to find even a slight blush of embarrassment when Stephen Jay Gould, countering the sort of doubt voiced above by his peers, asked, “Why was natural selection compared to a composer by Dobzhansky; to a poet by Simpson; to a sculptor by Mayr; and to, of all people, Mr. Shakespeare by Julian Huxley?” The answer, according to Gould, is that the allusions to poetry, musical composition, and sculpture helpfully underscore the “creativity of natural selection”:

    “The essence of Darwinism lies in its claim that natural selection creates the fit. Variation is ubiquitous and random in direction. It supplies the raw material only. Natural selection directs the course of evolutionary change. It preserves favorable variants and builds fitness gradually”.36,,,

    What we do have is a god-like power of natural selection whose miracle-working activity in creating ever-new organisms is vividly clear to eyes of faith, but frustratingly obscure to mere empirical investigators. This is not a science ready for submission to a larger public along with a demand for acquiescence. Not if this public has yet to dull its sensitivity to fundamental questions in the way that the research community seems to have done.
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....ogy_30.htm

    As well, Natural selection, since it operates at the whole organism level, is grossly inadequate to explain the creation of the highly sophisticated programming found at the molecular level of life

    The abject failure of Natural Selection on two levels of physical reality – video (2016) (princess and the pea paradox & quarter power scaling)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1135217836491148/?type=2&theater

    The GS Principle (The Genetic Selection Principle) – Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: The GS Principle, sometimes called “The 2nd Law of Biology,” states that selection must occur at the molecular/genetic level, not just at the fittest phenotypic/organismic level, to produce and explain life.,,, (Yet) Natural selection cannot operate at the genetic level.
    http://www.bioscience.org/2009.....lltext.htm

  108. 108
    bornagain77 says:

    Of supplemental note as to the abject failure of natural selection to explain life once the ‘miracle’ of self-replication appears, here are some excellent references to several peer reviewed numerical simulations analysing the feasibility of the mechanism of natural selection and random mutation and finding it severely wanting ,,, (via John Sanford and company)

    Genetic Entropy – peer reviewed references
    http://www.geneticentropy.org/#!properties/ctzx

  109. 109
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    That is an interesting experience, and under the same circumstances, I might have done the same thing. I think it’s something one would have to experience firsthand to evaluate fully.

  110. 110
    daveS says:

    HeKS,

    PS to my #109:

    Your story reminds me of an experience I had some years ago, which is not quite parallel, but contains some similar elements. A friend of mine recommended that I read a particular book, which was actually one of the most popular books of the 20th century, so of course I had heard of it.

    It’s not a horror book or anything of the sort, but for some reason, I found some of the darker themes, which were actually relatively minor elements of the text, to be incredibly disturbing. I don’t even remember if I forced myself to finish it.

    I don’t believe that particular copy of the book was “haunted”, so to speak, but I would not have that book in my house today.

  111. 111

    Do you have a criticism of the water/wine “experiment” I described?

    You mean, other than being a contrived distraction from the actual evidence of design in biology?

    🙂

  112. 112
    Marfin says:

    So Daves Hydrogen Gas plus time equals people , reasonable belief or not.

  113. 113
    daveS says:

    UB,

    You mean, other than being a contrived distraction from the actual evidence of design in biology?

    It’s not meant to be a distraction. I’m just explaining how I would attempt to verify occurrences of certain overt miracles.

  114. 114
    daveS says:

    Marfin,

    So Daves Hydrogen Gas plus time equals people , reasonable belief or not.

    I don’t know. Call me unreasonable, but I don’t think evolution played any role in Jesus’ miraculous transformation of water to wine, so I’m going to ignore that possibility.

  115. 115

    I’m just explaining how I would attempt to verify occurrences of certain overt miracles.

    Yes I see that. It’s a distraction from the actual evidence of design in biology.

  116. 116
    daveS says:

    UB,

    Yes I see that. It’s a distraction from the actual evidence of design in biology.

    Well, looking at the OP, design in biology is not really the primary thread topic, correct?

  117. 117

    Yes, of course. Requesting evidence of “water into wine” can provide apparently sufficient evidence of a designing intelligence, but not evidence from biology.

    So, your safe. Good job.

  118. 118
    Marfin says:

    Daves you and I know evolution played no part in water to wine in the case of Jesus, my point is that you are so sure that it was not a miracle, but won`t call your atheist ilk on the fairy story that people can come from hydrogen gas over time.Why do you say no way to one and I don`t know to the other, is being honest that difficult.The universe is a product of either natural or supernatural origins there really is no alternative , is that why you are afraid to make a comment re gas to people because if you concede it cannot happen the only alternative then is supernatural creation.

  119. 119
    Andre says:

    I pointed out to DaveS that he is the miracle….. He is yet to respond.

  120. 120
    sean samis says:

    I will probably regret adding any comment to this thread, but hope springs eternal.

    I am sure everyone is aware that when some people say there is no evidence of some god, they are often (if not usually) confusing “evidence” with “proof” (Proof: evidence or argument establishing or helping to establish a fact or the truth of a statement; something which shows that something else is true or correct; the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact; the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning).

    So, “debunking” the claim that there is “no evidence” is trivial.

    But, there is no proof that any deity exists. There is evidence of the Christian God, but there is also evidence of Baal, Gaia, Odin, Ra, Zeus, and any other pagan god or pantheon, from the animist to the Hindu to the Wiccan. The qualities of the evidence for these various deities are quite similar, which is to say: weak.

    The value of any evidence is related to the mind-set necessary to see the thing as evidence; which WJM referred to as the “contextual framework” we need and use to interpret facts. The interpretation of evidence is also conditioned by one’s biases. There were some comments about “equitable skepticism” and “warranted beliefs” and the need to avoid “hyperskepticism”. All good points.

    An example is helpful. All the evidence of the earth being flat requires a prior bias toward that conclusion, much of the evidence of the earth’s roundness merely requires acceptance of geometry. This is why the reasonably unbiased person (or the “equitable skeptic”?) thinks the earth is round.

    Evidence of a deity’s existence has no real credibility unless one has a prior bias toward that deity’s existence; and then the evidence for any particular deity X is about the same as evidence for any other deities. If one has no prior opinion about deities, the evidence is meager. None of it rises to the level of proof. Likewise, there is no proof that there are no deities, though it is always harder to prove a negative.

    Barring some personal encounter with a deity, the reasonably unbiased person has good cause (“moral certainty”) to not adopt any opinion about deities beyond equitable skepticism.

    sean s.

  121. 121
    DonaldM says:

    daveS in #88 “Yes, that is a very hard question. I don’t currently have an answer for it.”

    Appreciate your honest response. What I find is that most don’t get that they even have a criterion for determining what gives warrant to connecting some observation with some conclusion, but it is unavoidable. And quite often, one’s worldview (that is to say, one’s philosophical presuppositions) will come into play. That’s especially true when dealing with deep, ultimate questions in science.

  122. 122
    john_a_designer says:

    sean samis,

    The value of any evidence is related to the mind-set necessary to see the thing as evidence; which WJM referred to as the “contextual framework” we need and use to interpret facts. The interpretation of evidence is also conditioned by one’s biases. There were some comments about “equitable skepticism” and “warranted beliefs” and the need to avoid “hyperskepticism”. All good points.

    Indeed, we need to ask ourselves, what context–world view- best explains the evidence?

    I made that point earlier in this thread.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-610453

  123. 123
    Origenes says:

    Sean Samis: I am sure everyone is aware that when some people say there is no evidence of some god, they are often (if not usually) confusing “evidence” with “proof” (Proof: evidence or argument establishing or helping to establish a fact or the truth of a statement; something which shows that something else is true or correct; the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact; the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning).
    So, “debunking” the claim that there is “no evidence” is trivial.

    I’m not sure that a distinction between proof and evidence is useful in this context.
    For instance, is there “proof” that compels acceptance even by solipsists? ‘Cogito ergo sum’ comes to mind.

  124. 124
    HeKS says:

    Origenes

    I’m not sure that a distinction between proof and evidence is useful in this context.
    For instance, is there “proof” that compels acceptance even by solipsists? ‘Cogito ergo sum’ comes to mind.

    I can’t agree with you here. I think it is always useful and valuable to maintain proper distinctions and to try to use terminology correctly.

    The problem we often run into with atheists is that they inconsistently use terms like “evidence” and “proof”. For most things they want to believe, they claim to require evidence, and they actually mean evidence, whether or not they end up truly requiring it. When it comes to God, however, they claim theists do not have or need “evidence”, but what they actually mean is proof. In doing this, they 1) require theists to hold to a different and much higher standard of warrant for their beliefs while 2) giving the impression through their use of language that theists hold themselves to a much lower standard of warrant for their beliefs than atheists do. By misappropriating the language they grant to themselves the intellectual high ground both coming and going.

    Whatever disagreements I have with sean samis on aspects of his comment (and they are many, which I may address later), I don’t at all disagree with him on the need to properly understand the distinction between evidence and proof and to then weigh the degree to which the facts support a given conclusion, and thus the “strength” of the evidence with respect to that conclusion.

  125. 125

    Sean Samis @120 said:

    Evidence of a deity’s existence has no real credibility unless one has a prior bias toward that deity’s existence; and then the evidence for any particular deity X is about the same as evidence for any other deities. If one has no prior opinion about deities, the evidence is meager. None of it rises to the level of proof. Likewise, there is no proof that there are no deities, though it is always harder to prove a negative.

    Barring some personal encounter with a deity, the reasonably unbiased person has good cause (“moral certainty”) to not adopt any opinion about deities beyond equitable skepticism.

    Your bias is duly noted. Anyone that thinks the evidence for the classical theistic god is ‘meager” and comparable to the evidence for Baal or Zeus is either in denial or not being intellectually honest.

  126. 126
    Origenes says:

    HeKS,

    Contrary to you I tend to agree with WJM when he says that “facts don’t “lead” anywhere; they only lead where interpretations, intuition, logic or insight can support and understand them.” IOWs there is no such thing as proof distinct from the conceptual framework of the individual. Yet IOWs facts that constitute proof in one world view are meaningless in another.
    That’s why I asked my question about the solipsist, whose worldview is impenetrable for “proof” — with perhaps cogito ergo sum as an exception.

  127. 127
    HeKS says:

    Origenes,

    HeKS,

    Contrary to you I tend to agree with WJM when he says that “facts don’t “lead” anywhere; they only lead where interpretations, intuition, logic or insight can support and understand them.” IOWs there is no such thing as proof distinct from the conceptual framework of the individual. Yet IOWs facts that constitute proof in one world view are meaningless in another.
    That’s why I asked my question about the solipsist, whose worldview is impenetrable for “proof” — with perhaps cogito ergo sum as an exception.

    That’s not actually contrary to me. I agree with WJM, too. Take a look at my comments in #12.

    Facts, in and of themselves, do not, for the most part, point directly at particular conclusions. They are raw data that need to be interpreted and placed into explanatory frameworks. Sometimes they fit into those frameworks very well, sometimes very poorly, and sometimes not at all.

    And yet, some of those explanatory frameworks are incredibly broad, like logic, or math, or belief in the reality of the external world, and given these broad and basic frameworks, legitimate proofs do sometimes exist. They are often rare, making legitimate absolute certainty just slightly more common than unicorns, but they exist. There are mathematical proofs, for example, and logical proofs. Sometimes events are captured on video and the footage can be verified as not having been manipulated. Most of the time, though, we must settle for weighing how well we think basic facts fit into competing explanatory frameworks with regard to things like explanatory power, scope and degree of ad hoc-ness.

    Now, if you really want to put solipsism on the table as a live option then, yes, I suppose you could erase most of the distinctions between evidence and proof that we would normally accept in this possibly illusory external world … but then it would be hard to see how “evidence” would hold any meaning even in the absence of “proof”. In fact, if anything, solipsism seems like it might lead to the death of evidence and the reign of proof alone rather than the other way around.

  128. 128
    john_a_designer says:

    Regarding evidence and proof. It’s become fashionable for some atheists to redefine faith “as belief without evidence.”

    For example, in his public lectures and writing, Portland State philosophy professor Peter Boghossian has defined faith not only as “belief without evidence,” but as “pretending to know what you don’t know.”

    There are several things wrong with his definitions. First of all the dictionary doesn’t define faith the way he defines it. For starters, faith is not defined as an antonym of reason. Unreason or irrationality are antonyms of reason, not faith. Furthermore, if we flip definitions, the antonyms of faith are doubt and mistrust, not reason. In other words, Boghossian’s definitinon of faith is just something he made up whole cloth– a strawman.

    However, I do accept the dictionary definition of faith as “belief without proof.” But that kind of faith is not just required on the part of theists, it’s required by anyone espousing any kind of world view. All world views begin with unprovable assumptions that must be accepted by faith.

  129. 129

    It is clear that materialism, atheism, rational skepticism, physicalism, scientism, naturalism, etc. are of no use whatsoever in forming an opinion if the painting is beautiful or ugly.

    Their weak point is obviously that they provide no room for subjectivity, and the strong point of creationism is obviously that it does provide ample room for subjectivity.

    Because creationist has 2 categories, creator and creation, it provides room for both opinion and fact (opinion in regards to the creator, and fact in regards to the creation)

    This is why creationist philosophy is the best of all.

  130. 130
    daveS says:

    nm

  131. 131
    Seversky says:

    john_a_designer @ 128

    Regarding evidence and proof. It’s become fashionable for some atheists to redefine faith “as belief without evidence.”

    Dictionary definitions are just a list of usages, past and present. They are descriptive not prescriptive. If we define faith as “belief without proof” where proof is taken to mean evidence which rises to a standard sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth then how significant is the difference between that and “belief without evidence”?

  132. 132
    HeKS says:

    Seversky: Dictionary definitions are just a list of usages, past and present. They are descriptive not prescriptive. If we define faith as “belief without proof” where proof is taken to mean evidence which rises to a standard sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth then how significant is the difference between that and “belief without evidence”?

    Ba-dum-ching!

    Have a great night folks. Don’t forget, Seversky will be here all week.

  133. 133
    Mung says:

    And words are just sounds and scribbles.

  134. 134
    Mung says:

    sean samis:

    Barring some personal encounter with a deity, the reasonably unbiased person has good cause (“moral certainty”) to not adopt any opinion about deities beyond equitable skepticism.

    I’d sure love to know the reasoning behind this assertion. It assumes so much without even beginning to lay a foundations for its assumptions. Aren’t atheists supposed to be logical and rational and empirical and all that stuff?

  135. 135
    Marfin says:

    Sean S. Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it,so Sean the universe a product of natural or supernatural events,seeing you see no evidence for God you must believe the natural did it, so please explain how the natural did it ,at this point please dont say I dont know or scientist say, please give me the evidence of how nature alone makes a universe and all it contains.If there is only two alternatives and you cannot give compelling evidence or proof for one , why is the other option so difficult for you.

  136. 136
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, on worldview foundations and clusters of first plausibles defining faith-points thence worldviews and the challenge of reasonable, responsible faith: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_bld_wvu KF

  137. 137
    Origenes says:

    HeKS,

    WRT worldviews and their relationship to “proof”, I was just watching this amusing video with witness testimony from Professor Ivor Grattan-Guinness — professor of the history of mathematics and logic — of the “Scole experiment”.
    He testifies that he caught the lights in his hands, “they had mass”. He felt them rebounding. When he opened his hands they flew off.
    Irrefutable proof of the spiritual? Not at all, according to the professor. It doesn’t seem to cross his mind. Multiple Big Bang, co-present, parallel universe theory may explain it. The big problem is: “how do the dimensions interact?”

  138. 138
    kairosfocus says:

    Marfin:

    Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it

    hence the sadly destructive power of the closed, indoctrinated, ideologically driven and too often polarised mind.

    KF

  139. 139
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS: Failing the Dictionary test . . . no authority is better than his or her facts, logic and assumptions, but that does not mean that automatically we may suspect or dismiss authorities to our convenience. Many Dictionary definitions are excellent, being informed by experts. And correct usage by experts is an excellent way to confirm the sense of a word. KF

  140. 140
    sean samis says:

    Marfin @ 135, the reason I prefer the natural explanation is Ockham’s Razor.

    You ask me to explain how “nature did it”; of course my answer can only be that we ultimately don’t yet know.

    Your response is something like “If there is [sic] only two alternatives and you cannot give compelling evidence or proof for one , why is the other option so difficult for you.”

    Because If I ask you how “God did it”, your answer can only be that you ultimately don’t know. That would seem to imply parity, except for two additional points:

    1. If someone offers an explanation for how “nature did it” I know it is going to be testable eventually.

    2. If someone offers an explanation for how “God did it” it will either be testable as a natural event eventually, or never testable at all.

    I lean toward the natural explanation because it’s simpler, because adding a deity to the mix adds nothing, and because I have no credible evidence that any deity exists.

    sean s.

  141. 141
    Marfin says:

    Sean S . So Sean if the police arrest you drag you into court and tell the judge to lock you up and throw away the key, and the judge asks on what evidence and they say well we have not got the evidence YET but we know he is guilty, how does that work for you. You cannot use as evidence something as yet undiscovered its a nonsense, its a faith without evidence.So lets stick to science and the material world AND THE TESTABLE.As of today no one has ever witnessed life coming from non life, Pasteur showed life does not come from non life , no one has been able to make life in a lab,so based on this up to date scientific evidence I believe life and only life can bring forth life so I am standing on solid science,So please tell me in scientific detail how life arose from non living materials, I await your answer, and don`t forget you cannot call on evidence they may find in future or have not found YET as this is faith and wishful thinking not science.

  142. 142
    HeKS says:

    KF @139

    Hey KF,

    I’m not sure I understand your comment at 139 or why it was directed at me. Did you think the comment I made at 132 was in agreement with Seversky? It wasn’t. I was suggesting that his comment was so silly that it was like he was a comedian and had just told a joke, so I was making the sound of the little rim shot drum fill after a punchline: ba-dum-ching! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHYiyv68q2o)

    HeKS

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS, I was trying to be supportive, as in Seversky’s remark was failing the dictionary test. Pardon my lack of adequate context. KF

  144. 144
    HeKS says:

    KF,

    I see. Makes a little more sense now.

  145. 145
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    KF: “hence the sadly destructive power of the closed, indoctrinated, ideologically driven and too often polarised mind.”

    What is even more sad is that you are willing to assign these characteristics to those who disagree with your viewpoint, often with over-th-top emotion, yet fail to see any of these characteristics in yourself.

    What are your attacks on evolution, materialis, and subjective morality, if not the result of a closed, indoctrinated, ideologically driven and polarized mind?

    I realize that these are hard words to hear, but sometimes they must be heard.

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    GC,

    did you see the point that I took time to highlight how one may go through a comparative difficulties, worldviews assessment? As in, I put up the cure to such indoctrination?

    Your projection attempt fails.

    More significantly, the issue that evolutionary materialists need to soundly address before anyone should take their arguments seriously, is still there, left on the table by Reppert:

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

    I think it is becoming quite clear that there is no cogent answer, or else it would have long since been triumphantly announced.

    KF

  147. 147
    sean samis says:

    Marfin @ 141;

    All that stuff about the legal system is silly. Science does not mete out justice, assign blame or culpability, find innocence or guilt, punish the blameworthy or exonerate the innocent. Legal determinations and scientific findings are categorically different. It’s no surprise their rules and standards are different too.

    “As of today no one has ever witnessed life coming from non life,” …

    Please tell me in detail how God created life from nonliving materials or nothing.
    I await your answer.
    Don’t forget you cannot call on evidence we may find in the future or have not found yet as you say that would be faith and wishful thinking, not science.

    Please also tell me in detail how we will validate your details.
    I await your answer.
    Don’t forget that explanations that cannot be validated are faith and wishful thinking, not science.

    Please also tell me in detail how God was created.
    I await your answer.
    Don’t forget that explanations that cannot be validated are faith and wishful thinking, not science.

    If you cannot answer these questions in detail, please tell me why I should not prefer the simplest idea: nature created life. We are more likely to figure that out than we are to figure out some unverifiable deity.

    Science, after all, is about figuring things out.

    sean s.

  148. 148
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    KF: “Your projection attempt fails.”

    That it fails to convince you is obvious. My words would never convince someone with a closed, indoctrinated, ideologically driven and too often polarised mind.

    But don’t you find it strange that you always resort to this claim when debating those with different views than yours? It is obvious that when you fail to convince them of the errors of their ways with your evidence and logic, you explain it away by claiming that they are close minded or ideologically driven. Did it ever occur to you that the reason that you haven’t been able to convince them of your viewpoint is because your arguments, although lengthy and verbose, and your evidence, are simply not convincing or well presented?

    Ps, that was a rhetorical question.

  149. 149
    kairosfocus says:

    GC,

    doubling down on the previous projection, in the face of my having again posed the comparative difficulties context for worldviews assessment. That is, the very basis on which indoctrination is broken.

    This shows the balance on merits.

    In support, I roll the tape from 138:

    {Marfin:} Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it

    {KF:} hence the sadly destructive power of the closed, indoctrinated, ideologically driven and too often polarised mind.

    Again, evolutionary materialists need to ground responsible rational freedom on their premises or else face the implication of a self referentially incoherent system that cannot even ground the ability to participate in a reasoned discussion.

    Reppert, again:

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

    KF

  150. 150
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    KF, I doubled down because you have not addressed the question as to why you label anyone who disagrees with your views on god, evolution, materialism or subjective morality as having close minded, indoctrinated, ideologically driven minds.

    Please remember, it was you who made this claim.

  151. 151
    kairosfocus says:

    GC, you are here speaking with disregard to the truth, in hope of profiting by what you have said or suggested being perceived as truth. As I just added to 149 for clarity, Marfin spoke to a specific issue and I raised the implication on a specific fallacy — which I have never ever said or implied by practice is a universal one on the part of people who happen to disagree with me; it is patent instead that I have stood foursquare on the premise that arguments stand on facts, logic and assumptions and it is to these we should go always. It is, however, a real problem and indeed there are people who become so caught up in falsities that truths look like foolishness to them. Worse, some are so polarised that they dismiss rather than evaluate contrary evidence, and it can reach the point where instead of saying the more truthful, I do not find the evidence here persuasive to me, they instead say in disregard to truth, there is no evidence. Further to all this, on matters of fact there is a question of comparative difficulties for cases and even worldviews, i/l/o inference to best warranted explanation. I have several times posed a context of such evaluation at worldviews level and have pointed to Greenleaf’s sound counsels on evidence for forensic-historical moral evidence contexts. The reaction has been to try to personalise and polarise and that speaks volumes, as it is exactly the sort of evasion and/or dismissal of evidence that from the OP on this thread is about. KF

  152. 152
    john_a_designer says:

    A few years ago in 2013 I had this brief exchange on-line with someone who identified himself as David P. He asked me if I would consider a world view that actively disagreed with my current Christian world view. Since David had already identified his own world view as naturalism, I told him that if he could prove to me “that naturalism was true, I would.”

    He replied, “If that is your condition, you are essentially saying “no”, because naturalism cannot be proven.”

    I responded by asking him, “So, on what basis are you warranted in believing in it?”

    That question prompted the following dialogue:

    David wrote: “Believing that naturalism cannot be proven? Because we can only perceive a tiny part of the entire system. We may one day be able to formulate naturalistic theories that explain beautifully all that we perceive, but we cannot prove that that is all there is.”

    I asked: “So then, you accept naturalism by faith… Correct?”

    David replied: “I accept naturalism as a working assumption because of the evidence that it helps drive us to understand reality in a way that allows us to make increasingly better predictions. Also, the evidence that so many phenomena attributed to supernatural causes have turned out to have natural causes.”

    Notice how David smuggled faith into his world view without calling it that. What I mean is that he is actually acting on the biblical definition of faith and he doesn’t even realize it. Let me prove it to you…

    Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

    Someone committed, like David, to naturalism is actually just modifying the verse so that it reads:

    “By faith we understand that the universe was formed [by some kind of mindless natural process], so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

    This thinking is also true of Peter Boghossian, though he is probably as ignorant of it as David is.

    So the battle of world views is not really faith vs. reason, as Boghossian and other new atheists believe, but it’s a battle of faith vs. faith: faith in the infinite (God) vs. faith in the finite (man). Anyone who understands that understands that man, who is limited, finite and fallible cannot possibly win.

  153. 153
    sean samis says:

    “So the battle of world views is not really faith vs. reason, as Boghossian and other new atheists believe, but it’s a battle of faith vs. faith: faith in the infinite (God) vs. faith in the finite (man). Anyone who understands that understands that man, who is limited, finite and fallible cannot possibly win.”

    Unless one has had a direct, “face-to-face” encounter with a deity, everything one believes about deities came from some human’s unverifiable claims. Those who “believe in God” but who have never had such a “face-to-face” encounter are actually placing their faith in the claims of limited, finite, and fallible humans telling stories about their gods. If all human claims about deities were similar, then they’d be credible, but they vary wildly so they lack credibility. If the deity shows up and sorts them out for you, you’re exceptional. For the rest of us, these stories are deeply flawed and unreliable.

    So, unless you have had such an encounter with a deity, the battle is between faith in some human’s untrustworthy claims about deities vs. faith in the general ability of humans to reason. I’m on the side of reason, because I can examine someone’s reasoning and satisfy myself as to its rigor; but I cannot test someone’s deistic tale for accuracy.

    sean s.

  154. 154
    Mung says:

    Barring some personal encounter with a deity, the reasonably unbiased person has good cause (“moral certainty”) to not adopt any opinion about deities beyond equitable skepticism.

    Still waiting for some justification, some rationale, for this assertion. Silly of me, I’m sure.

  155. 155
    sean samis says:

    There’s no rationale or justification for any other position. Lacking a direct encounter, there’s no verifiable evidence any deity exists. There’s no way to justify belief in the deity.

    The reasons are explained in #153; if that’s not clear enough for you, then the concept may be beyond your abilities.

    sean s.

  156. 156
    Dr JDD says:

    Sean:
    You say you can’t trust the evidence for God because it assumes a theistic view first. Yet that is what naturalism does too. Indifferent. There is an a priori commitment to naturalism – that is a premise of modern science.

    Secondly, you state that there are so many gods that this disproves God’s existence. Well just like a scientific theory or mechanism there can be many people’s theories to explain observations. Only 1 is probably true though. However you claim these cannot be tested. Then how do you imagine a court works when it cannot replicate a crime in the past? Do you have no faith in the justice system’s ability to make correct decisions on past events? Do you haveno faith in historians and their ability to have a good grasp of what really may have occurred in the past even tthough you cannot replicate the past and test it?

    You really must have an uncertain and paranoid view of life.

    Test the claims of different faiths – I’m willing to bet you haven’t done that seriously.

  157. 157
    sean samis says:

    Dr JDD;

    “You say you can’t trust the evidence for God because it assumes a theistic view first.”

    No. I didn’t say that.

    I said I can’t trust the evidence for deities because it comes from an unreliable source (humans) and cannot be tested or verified.

    “Secondly, you state that there are so many gods that this disproves God’s existence.”

    No, I didn’t say that.

    I said that claims about deities vary wildly. There are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility; at least not unless some deity shows up and sorts them out. That has never happened to my knowledge.

    sean s.

  158. 158
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    KF: “GC, you are here speaking with disregard to the truth, in hope of profiting by what you have said or suggested being perceived as truth.”

    KF, let’s rewind the clock so that we have full context. Your response was in response to Marfin who said:

    Sean S. Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it,so Sean the universe a product of natural or supernatural events,seeing you see no evidence for God you must believe the natural did it, so please explain how the natural did it ,at this point please dont say I dont know or scientist say, please give me the evidence of how nature alone makes a universe and all it contains.If there is only two alternatives and you cannot give compelling evidence or proof for one , why is the other option so difficult for you.”

    In your response you only included Marfin’s opening (in bold), completely ignoring the fact that he was demanding a burden of proof for naturalism that he doesn’t demand for God-did-it.

    And to remind everyone of your response:

    hence the sadly destructive power of the closed, indoctrinated, ideologically driven and too often polarised mind.”

    So, unless you were implying that Sean Samis, who Marfin was responding to, is encumbered by a sadly destructive power of the closed, indoctrinated, ideologically driven and too often polarised mind., why would you make such a stupid and rude comment?

    Why don’t you simply admit that you made an off-the-cuff thoughtless comment and apologize for it?
    GC

  159. 159
    kairosfocus says:

    GC,

    First, I spoke to a specific, striking remark that is worth commenting on in its own right.

    Second, I have consistently pointed to a framework for worldview warranting on comparative difficulties.

    Which, you do not seem to have ever cogently addressed.

    Further to this I pointed to a highly relevant challenge to evolutionary materialism which asks it to warrant the responsible freedom it assumes to argue on its premises.

    Absent such it fails the Reppert etc test and is self refuting, not to be taken seriously.

    None of these, have you cogently addressed.

    Third, above, you tried to falsely characterise me as claiming or implying that all who disagree with me are closed minded etc.

    This, I refuted.

    Which you do not seem willing to acknowledge.

    Fourth — and this is a new point not previously in matters I have been speaking to, you now wish to raise a claim that Marfin raised an unjustified double standard of warrant when he challenged:

    135 Marfin June 17, 2016 at 12:37 am

    Sean S. Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it,so Sean the universe a product of natural or supernatural events,seeing you see no evidence for God you must believe the natural did it, so please explain how the natural did it ,at this point please dont say I dont know or scientist say, please give me the evidence of how nature alone makes a universe and all it contains.If there is only two alternatives and you cannot give compelling evidence or proof for one , why is the other option so difficult for you.

    This is actually an identification of a likely worldview being argued for and request to bring forth factual adequacy and explanatory adequacy in a causal context. This is in fact wholly legitimate and falls under the comparative difficulties triple-test of worldview analysis: factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power.

    I disagree that there are only two live option worldviews, but otherwise the issue is quite unexceptional.

    My own challenge via Reppert is coherence, any view being argued for should be compatible with responsible rational freedom as a premise for argument. Evolutionary materialism (a term that is much more descriptively accurate and specific than “naturalism”) is severely challenged on this.

    Marfin’s point is that in effect things like panentheism or pantheism can be set to one side and the fundamental issue is some form of theism vs evolutionary materialism. So, on what basis does the latter get us to an adequate account of our world, presumably including accounting for apparently morally governed, responsibly and rationally free individuals such as those arguing in this thread.

    Ethical theism’s answer is: the inherently good and ultimately intelligent creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the service of doing the good in accord with our nature has made us in his image and has gifted us with responsible, rational freedom; leading to justice in community — proper moral governance — as the due balance of resulting rights, freedoms and responsibilities thus providing proper stewardship of our common community, civilisation and world that promotes our thriving and that of creation as a whole. (Yes, deeply compressed, but expandable in great detail; every one of the key terms is loaded with underlying content capable of being drawn out.)

    The answer of evolutionary materialism is: _______ ?

    (Recall, this is in effect a prequalifying question, if a view cannot ground responsible rational freedom its advocates cannot credibly sit to a table of serious rational argument based on freedom to weigh facts, reasoning, assumptions.)

    So, the onward no-fair objection fails while showing that first principles of moral government are inextricably entangled in debates on such matters. Evolutionary materialism also needs to ground moral government.

    Its basis is: ____________ ?

    The no fair objection fails.

    No, Marfin has simply highlighted facets of the comparative difficulties test facing all worldviews.

    KF

  160. 160
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I see all sorts of remarks about how rude I have been etc. Those are uncalled for and over the top. If you pause to look you will see that I have spoken to a general problem and process that I have experience of dealing with as taking people captive to destructive ideologies and sects. With all respect, you seem to have unduly reacted to a general warning on the danger and power of indoctrination and polarisation. Which I have literally seen come down to small scale civil war.

  161. 161
    Eugen says:

    Sean samis

    You don’t need to see deity “face to face”. Wise person should be able to recognize Architect’s work without seeing Him.

    “A skilled craftsman leaves no traces.” -Lao-Tzu.

  162. 162
    kairosfocus says:

    BTW, notice the unanswered force of the basic, standalone point? That is:

    Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it

    Strikes me, there’s som’at in that.

    Something, we need to bear in mind rather than rhetorically run over and leave in the fading rearview mirror’s distance.

    Which of course simply — inadvertently — underscores the point.

    KF

  163. 163
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    [Stop trolling my thread, GC. – WJM]

  164. 164

    SS said:

    I said that claims about deities vary wildly. There are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility; at least not unless some deity shows up and sorts them out. That has never happened to my knowledge.

    Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that none of the claims have credibility; nor does it mean that none of the claims are logically valid; nor does it mean that all of the evidence for each claim is categorically equal. That’s a completely irrational non sequitur.

    But, this is the kind of “logic” produced by anti-theistic hyperskepticism and denial.

  165. 165
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 146

    More significantly, the issue that evolutionary materialists need to soundly address before anyone should take their arguments seriously, is still there, left on the table by Reppert:

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

    I think it is becoming quite clear that there is no cogent answer, or else it would have long since been triumphantly announced.

    In case you and Reppert haven’t noticed, we have acknowledged the existence of the Hard Problem of Consciousness, of how to map the experiences of the conscious mind to the chemical and electrical activity of the brain. Not that there hasn’t been some progress. We now have some understanding of how the visual and motor cortices work, for example, and deep electrical stimulation of the brain has elicited a range of subjective sensations and emotions in volunteers.

    As for using an argument like Reppert’s to triumphantly proclaim the failure to solve the hard problem yet it founders on the hard reality that physical damage to the brain can alter consciousness and destruction of the brain ends it irreversibly. That is also left on the table unanswered.

  166. 166

    seversky said:

    As for using an argument like Reppert’s to triumphantly proclaim the failure to solve the hard problem yet it founders on the hard reality that physical damage to the brain can alter consciousness and destruction of the brain ends it irreversibly. That is also left on the table unanswered.

    Here’s your answer: correlation is not causation. It has not been shown that destroying the brain ends that consciousness irreversible. It has only shown that destroying the brain ends that body’s capacity for displaying that consciousness.

  167. 167
    Seversky says:

    john_a_designer @ 152

    So the battle of world views is not really faith vs. reason, as Boghossian and other new atheists believe, but it’s a battle of faith vs. faith: faith in the infinite (God) vs. faith in the finite (man). Anyone who understands that understands that man, who is limited, finite and fallible cannot possibly win.

    Yes, you can argue that the battle of worldviews is one between faiths.

    On the one hand we have your “faith in the infinite (God)” which is faith in a set of assertions of what is held to be absolute and incontrovertible Truth. It eschews the “pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories” that it demands of science in favor of comforting and cozy stories of a benign, caring, paternalistic deity whose greatest concern is the well-being of humanity. Unfortunately for the faithful, to believe this they have to ignore evidence from their own Scripture in which their God is depicted, in the words of a certain prominent atheist, as “… arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    On the other hand, we have faith in the admittedly far from perfect methodology of human science which has given us explanations, treatments and even cures for diseases about which we could do little or nothing in the past or spacecraft which can be sent with incredible accuracy to where a planet will be many years in the future. That is just to name a couple of achievements by fallible and finite human beings and it was all our own work. I know which faith I believe is more warranted.

  168. 168
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 166

    Here’s your answer: correlation is not causation. It has not been shown that destroying the brain ends that consciousness irreversible. It has only shown that destroying the brain ends that body’s capacity for displaying that consciousness.

    Correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

    So it’s only a correlation that destroying the body ends its capacity for displaying life irreversibly? The fact that the contradictory, apart from some dubious stories in the Bible, has never been observed still allows for the dead to come back to life? Well, all you have to do is raise someone from the dead or demonstrate a completely incorporeal consciousness and you will have carried the day. I should say that I won’t be holding my breath, however.

  169. 169

    Seversky said:

    Correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

    I didn’t say anything about implications, Seversky. I said, that correlation is not causation. It is not. They are two separate things. Showing a correlation does not mean you have shown causation.

    So it’s only a correlation that destroying the body ends its capacity for displaying life irreversibly?

    I didn’t say anything about destroying bodies, nor did I say anything about life. Try and not change the subject matter or move the goal posts. Life and consciousness are not the same thing.

  170. 170
    john_a_designer says:

    The philosophical naturalist has deluded himself into thinking he has a trump card which bolsters his hand– science. The problem is that there are no trump cards in the high stakes world view ontological game. This is because in order to even begin to play the game you must establish the ground of being. You must begin by asking some basic questions. For example, you must ask, why does anything at all exist? Or, what is the nature of existence? How do we know? How can we be sure of what we know? Can we really know the truth about anything? However these are metaphysical questions, not questions that can be answered by science itself.

    Einstein said that scientists are poor philosophers. That perhaps explains why there are some scientists who naively believe that science can actually serve as a basis for a world view that can answer some of our biggest questions—at least those that they think are worthwhile. The late American astronomer Carl Sagan, for example, proclaimed that “the Cosmos is all that there is or ever was or ever will be.” (That is a claim that is not scientifically provable.) And, Nobel Prize winner Steven Weinberg opines that while “the worldview of science is rather chilling” there is, nevertheless, he goes on to say, “a grim satisfaction, in facing up to our condition without despair and without wishful thinking–with good humor… without God.”

    And then there is Harvard professor of psychology Steven Pinker who takes a scientifically based world view just about to its absolute limit. Pinker writes that,

    the findings of science entail that the belief systems of all the world’s traditional religions and cultures—their theories of the origins of life, humans, and societies—are factually mistaken. We know, but our ancestors did not, that humans belong to a single species of African primate that developed agriculture, government, and writing late in its history. We know that our species is a tiny twig of a genealogical tree that embraces all living things and that emerged from prebiotic chemicals almost four billion years ago. We know that we live on a planet that revolves around one of a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, which is one of a hundred billion galaxies in a 13.8-billion-year-old universe, possibly one of a vast number of universes. We know that our intuitions about space, time, matter, and causation are incommensurable with the nature of reality on scales that are very large and very small. We know that the laws governing the physical world (including accidents, disease, and other misfortunes) have no goals that pertain to human well-being. There is no such thing as fate, providence, karma, spells, curses, augury, divine retribution, or answered prayers—though the discrepancy between the laws of probability and the workings of cognition may explain why people believe there are. And we know that we did not always know these things, that the beloved convictions of every time and culture may be decisively falsified, doubtless including some we hold today.

    In other words, the worldview that guides the moral and spiritual values of an educated person today is the worldview given to us by science.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/art.....humanities

    On the other hand, there are other scientists, including some who are non-religious, even agnostic or atheistic, who see the folly of this kind of thinking. For example, Sir Peter Medawar, also a Nobel laureate, was one scientist who spoke out against this so called scientism. He wrote in his book, Advice to a Young Scientist:

    “There is no quicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and upon his profession than roundly to declare – particularly when no declaration of any kind is called for – that science knows, or soon will know, the answers to all questions worth asking, and that questions which do not admit a scientific answer are in some way non-questions or ‘pseudo-questions’ that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer. … The existence of a limit to science is, however, made clear by its inability to answer childlike elementary questions having to do with first and last things – questions such as ‘How did everything begin?’; ‘What are we all here for?’;’What is the point of living?’”

    Advice to a Young Scientist, London, Harper and Row, 1979 p.31

    Also, Erwin Schrödinger, one of the early theorist of quantum physics, said something similar: “Science puts everything in a consistent order but is ghastly silent about everything that really matters to us: beauty, color, taste, pain or delight, origins, God and eternity.”

    But the inadequacy of science is not limited to questions that it cannot answer. The fact is we cannot even begin to do science unless we make some metaphysical assumptions about science.

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, re 165:

    While I must first express appreciation that you have engaged a substantial issue, I think some onward remarks of explanatory character are in order. Not least so that those willing to follow and engage may see the force of the evidence at work.

    First, timeline.

    Darwin is 1858 – 9 (with roots in the 1830’s), and later, notoriously (but without properly reckoning with the full self-referential import) highlighted how:

    “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

    Practical modern digital computing came in in the 1930’s and 40’s, with Babbage’s first proposals on calculating engines being c 1824. (A measure of his work is that when an analytical engine was built to his plans and using C19 precision, in the 1990’s, it worked perfectly.)

    Across C19 and well into C20, mechanical analogue computers did amazing work. Electrical and electronic analogue computers came later; with today’s operational amplifier chip as legacy.

    In the 1930’s Turing’s universal machine model was established.

    (Cf. some further thoughts on brains, consciousness and computers here.)

    Finally, Haldane’s well-known stricture on materialism and mind dates to 1927:

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

    This specific insight was built upon by both C S Lewis and Victor Reppert.

    In short, immediately, the Darwinist IOU on mindedness has been on the table for 80+ – 150+ years and so has lost a lot of its credibility. Pleas for more and more time begin to sound hollow after that much time.

    However that is not the core challenge.

    Haldane rightly and aptly spoke to the powers and limitations of computing substrates, in ways that are independent of digital, analogue, neural network etc architecture: . . . They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically, so also hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.

    In short, computing substrates do not work by rational insight and responsible freedom.

    They are mechanical, organised, implicitly or explicitly programmed devices that are working from blindly mechanical cause-effect chains and some influence or involvement of equally blind stochastic chance. They do not understand per logical ground-consequent inference or inductive connexion or abductive explanatory inference. Blind, mechanical and/or chance cascades leading to results driven and controlled by GIGO.

    That is why this is the heart of Reppert’s argument:

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

    No, it is not undue lack of confidence in yellowed intellectual IOU’s; in the end it is that there is a categorical difference between blindly mechanical computational substrates and the responsible, rational freedom required to engage in reasoned discussion.

    So, properly, we point to the self-referential character and the indicators at the self-refutation end of the scale.

    Unless evolutionary materialism can cogently answer this, it cannot even properly sit at the discussion table as of right.

    By contrast, a far more promising approach first reckons with the fact of responsible, reasoned, credibly free discourse and discussion. Then it asks, how can this key self-referential fact be accounted for.

    To which one key step is the Smith model of a cybernetic loop with a two-tier controller.

    The lower i/o tier can comfortably fit with the mechanical paradigm. The upper one interacts with this and with the store facility provided by the lower tier. Informationally, and by way of perhaps quantum influences that in effect shape how the in the loop i/o controller behaves.

    In short, we are not locked up to the brain and cns alone.

    And so, as we go further, let us remember Marfin’s point:

    Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it

    KF

  172. 172
    Dr JDD says:

    Seans

    I was paraphrasing and so you disagree on semantics but do not take into consideration my points made which still stand.

    So, based on your own logic:

    – Abiogenesis is false because we can never test or know how it happened (we cannot be completely sure without a time machine what the exact conditions were when life arose and never will 100% know)
    – let’s not even get started on the multiverse
    – you refuse to acknowledge that you, like a scientist can test different theories for the same observation, are able to test different theistic hypotheses or proposals for likely accuracy. This is simply false.

  173. 173
    Mung says:

    sean samis: There’s no rationale or justification for any other position.

    Argumentum ad Ignorantiam then.

    Here’s your argument:

    IF there’s no rationale or justification for any other position.

    THEN your position is correct,

    BECAUSE there’s no rationale or justification for any other position.

    What deity did you encounter to come up with that bit of illogical nonsense? Higher Education?

  174. 174
    Mung says:

    sean samis: There’s no rationale or justification for any other position.

    You seem to be missing the point. What is your justification for believing that this test of yours is reasonable?

    IF There’s no rationale or justification for any other position.

    THEN you are justified in believing [insert your position here]

    BECAUSE …

    Because everyone ought to believe what you believe unless they have reason to believe something else? Is that it?

  175. 175
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    WJM: “Life and consciousness are not the same thing.”

    Which is very true. There are plenty of examples of life without conciousness. Plants, bacteria, brain dead people, etc. But how many confirmed incidences of conciousness without life can you present?

    You are also correct in that correlation is not causation. They have two very different definitions. But the commonly used form of your statement is “correlation does not mean causation”. As you know, this is a caution against jumping to the conclusion that just because there is a correlation between two things that one must be caused by the other. Which is very true. But it is also very true that if one thing does cause the other, there will always be a correlation between them.

    And finally, you are also correct that our inability to detect a conciousness I dependant of a functioning brain doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Just in the same way that because we can’t detect the existance of leprechauns, giants and unicorns doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. But I wouldn’t wager any money on either.

  176. 176
    john_a_designer says:

    kairosfocus @ #171 quoting Charles Darwin:

    “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

    Besides Reppert and Lewis, Alvin Plantiga has made some contributions exploring the same question. Basically Plantinga argued that what he terms “Darwin’s Doubt” undermines any form of philosophical naturalism as a world view because the goal of Darwinian evolution is survival not “true beliefs”.

    See the comment (#17) I made on the Logic-Math & Morality thread.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-609409

  177. 177
    kairosfocus says:

    GC, we do not depend on Leprechauns or belief in same to exercise responsible rational freedom and therefore argue responsibly. You are arguing a view that clearly does undermine responsible rational freedom and so undercuts the foundation of argument. This is self referentially incoherent and so self falsifies. Evolutionary materialism is incoherent and so necessarily false. KF

  178. 178
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, yup, Craig too, Pearcey too and even some naturalists. Cf here. The problem is, that we are dealing with a culturally dominant scheme of thought and with people falling under Marfin’s warning: “Evidence never looks compelling if you don`t engage with it.” But, when enough people wise up and routinely call them on it so they cannot get away with it, that is when there will be serious re-thinking. Meanwhile we can expect many rhetorical gambits of distraction as it is clear they do not want to deal with the matter squarely. KF

  179. 179

    GC:

    But how many confirmed incidences of conciousness without life can you present?

    Confirmed how? Confirmed by whom? You use the term “confirmed”, I’m sure, to provide yourself cover from the fact that there have been many, many cases and reports of consciousness without life (if by “life”, you mean a functional physical body). Scientists as far back as the mid 1800’s have gathered evidence for disembodied consciousnesses.

    And finally, you are also correct that our inability to detect a conciousness I dependant of a functioning brain doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Just in the same way that because we can’t detect the existance of leprechauns, giants and unicorns doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. But I wouldn’t wager any money on either.

    [For future reference, GC, attempts to ridicule the position of others by associating their views with what are commonly held as ridiculous notions is trolling and I will erase your entire comment if you do this again in one of my threads.]

    I note, GC, that you use the terms “our” and “we”, as if referencing your own views in the collective sense will make them more authoritative and thus more credible.

    Human history is rich with testimonial, anecdotal, circumstantial, personal and scientific evidence that supports the theory that consciousness can exist without a physical living body, your use of collectivist, self-important pronouns notwithstanding.

    When you can demonstrate how the brain can produce consciousness and experience, then you’ll have an argument for causation. Until then, it is nothing more than an atheistic narrative based upon correlation driven by a priori ideological commitments.

  180. 180
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, decided, why not augment, thanks. KF

  181. 181
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 169

    Seversky said:

    Correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

    I didn’t say anything about implications, Seversky. I said, that correlation is not causation. It is not. They are two separate things. Showing a correlation does not mean you have shown causation.

    Quite true, but where you have a causal relationship you also have a correlation. So while the failure to observe consciousness survive the death of the brain in billions of cases over thousands of years may not amount to proof positive that consciousness is entirely dependent on a physical substrate like the brain, it’s an entirely reasonable inference.

    So it’s only a correlation that destroying the body ends its capacity for displaying life irreversibly?

    I didn’t say anything about destroying bodies, nor did I say anything about life. Try and not change the subject matter or move the goal posts. Life and consciousness are not the same thing.

    No, they aren’t but they are both phenomena that you are arguing survive the death of the physical body even though there is no compelling reason to think they do.

  182. 182
    Gordon Cunningham says:

    WJM: “Scientists as far back as the mid 1800’s have gathered evidence for disembodied consciousnesses.”

    I would certainly like to read some of those. Do you have any links to papers in the last thirty years or so? Hopefully they are something more than anecdotal stories of near death experiences or poltergeists.

    I note, GC, that you use the terms “our” and “we”, as if referencing your own views in the collective sense will make them more authoritative and thus more credible.”

    I use it in the same way that you do. In reference to things that humans have or have not been able to measure/identify/explain/etc.

    When you can demonstrate how the brain can produce consciousness and experience, then you’ll have an argument for causation. Until then, it is nothing more than an atheistic narrative based upon correlation driven by a priori ideological commitments.”

    And until you can demonstrate how the supernatural can produce a conciousness and experience independent of the physical brain, all you have is a theistic narrative driven by a priori ideological commitments. But at least the materialist argument has one thing going for it that the supernaturalist side doesn’t. A correlation.

  183. 183
    kairosfocus says:

    GC: Cf here: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot....._brnz_putr — the projective turnabout fails. KF

  184. 184
    john_a_designer says:

    Earlier @ #170 I wrote,

    “The fact is we cannot even begin to do science unless we make some metaphysical assumptions about science.”

    Indeed, at least according to physicist and theologian Ian Barbour, the assumptions that a scientist must make to do science are basically Biblical assumptions.

    “A good case can be made,” Barbour writes, “that the doctrine of creation helped set the stage for scientific activity.”

    Christian philosopher Peter S. Williams, who provides the above quote from Barbour in his on-line article, “Does Science Disprove God?” lists several presuppositions of science that he argues “derive warrant from the theistic doctrine of creation:

    • That the natural world is real (not an illusion) and basically good (and hence worth studying)

    • That the natural world isn’t divine (i.e. pantheism is false) and so it isn’t impious to experiment upon it

    • That the natural world isn’t governed by multiple competing and/or capricious forces (i.e. polytheism is false)

    • That the natural world is governed by a rational order

    • That the human mind is, to some degree, able to understand the rational order displayed by the natural world

    • That human cognitive and sensory faculties are generally reliable

    • That the rational order displayed by the natural world cannot be deduced from first principles, thus observation and experiment are required”

    Again, notice that these presuppositions themselves cannot be proven by empirical science. Therefore, a science based epistemology, i.e. “scientism,” of any kind cannot be true.

    Williams observes that, “There is thus a wide-ranging consonance between Christianity and the presuppositions of science.” He then goes on to quote Barbour again.

    “Both Greek and biblical thought asserted that the world is orderly and intelligible. But the Greeks held that this order is necessary and that one can therefore deduce its structure from first principles. Only biblical thought held that God created both form and matter, meaning that the world did not have to be as it is and that the details of its order can be discovered only by observation. Moreover, while nature is real and good in the biblical view, it is not itself divine, as many ancient cultures held, and it is therefore permissible to experiment on it… it does appear that the idea of creation gave a religious legitimacy to scientific inquiry.”

    http://www.bethinking.org/does.....scientific

    Barbour is not alone here. Both Alfred North Whitehead and American physicist Robert Oppenheimer understood that historically a Christian milieu was in fact necessary for the development of science. The famous Christian writer and University of Cambridge professor C.S. Lewis summarized the position this way: “Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a [Lawgiver.]”

    Indeed, all the early scientist who were part of the so-called scientific revolution: Galileo, Kepler, Newton were Christian theists. We could say much more here about the history of science and religion but that is a discussion for another time.

  185. 185
    sean samis says:

    Eugen #161

    Regarding:

    You don’t need to see deity “face to face”. Wise person should be able to recognize Architect’s work without seeing Him.

    “A skilled craftsman leaves no traces.” -Lao-Tzu.

    Yes, one does need to have a direct encounter with a deity to know that it exists, otherwise one is merely placing their belief in the opinions of other, fallible, frail, limited human beings. Even the wisest person is just a person: fallible, frail, limited.

    Four points:

    First; Lao-Tzu’s comment contradicts your claim. He says that the “skilled craftsman leaves no traces.” If that is so then there’s nothing for the so-called “wise person” to recognize! No reasonable person would invent an entire theology based on the absence of evidence! A truly wise person would find such a theology laughable.

    It’s interesting to me that you glommed onto this quote from Lao-Tzu without considering that, if it is true, then it means the entire basis of creationism is destroyed unless you assert that your God is NOT a truly skilled craftsman! Creationism is founded on the belief that their God left many traces.

    Second, your comment was wrong when Lao-Tzu first uttered his saying, some 25 centuries ago. Even then, so-called “wise men”, looking at nature, “found” the hands, hooves, and paws of many deities. If they had all found substantially the same indications, then yes, their findings would be hard for a reasonable person to dismiss; but they did not find even similar signs. The inferred signs of literally thousands of deities, and hundreds of creation stories. No reasonable person will find their opinions persuasive, much less compelling.

    Third; to borrow a line from KF, what is anyone’s warrant for saying anyone was truly a “wise” person? There is none except that their claims show verifiable truth. Your claim as you cited does not fall into that category.

    This leads us to the fourth and last point: the fact that you thought this quote was important shows you do not understand rational discourse. Rational people reject proof from Authority. Nothing is true because Lao-Tzu said so, or Newton, or Einstein, or Hawking. There is no Authority whose opinion verifies any claim. Not mine, not yours, no one’s. And considering that this quote you dug up contradicts the basis of Creationism, you may want to disavow it.

    I see there are a number of later comments, but I’ve been busy so I’ve not looked at those yet. As time permits …

    sean s.

  186. 186
    sean samis says:

    Regarding #164:

    Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that none of the claims have credibility; …

    True.

    … nor does it mean that none of the claims are logically valid; …

    True.

    … nor does it mean that all of the evidence for each claim is categorically equal.

    True.

    But, this is the kind of “logic” produced by anti-theistic hyperskepticism and denial.

    Maybe, but “hyperskepticism and denial” or “hypergullibility and acceptance” will both necessarily produce defective logic.

    Which is why I avoid both.

    Multiple contradictory claims about a thing do not show that none of the claims are true; it is possible none of them are true, or some partially true, or some completely true.

    How do we tell which is which?

    It’s simple: if any claim can be distinguished by being verified or verifiable as actually at least partially true, those claims-and ONLY those—have some credibility, the rest have no credibility.

    Unfortunately, no claims about any deity have been shown to be verifiable, except by those who engage in “hypergullibility and acceptance”.

    The operative verb there is SHOWN. Assertions that deistic claims are verifiable have no weight, only demonstrations do; and such demonstrations are lacking. So none have any rational credibility yet.

    Yet.

    sean s.

  187. 187
    sean samis says:

    Dr JDD;

    Regarding #172

    – Abiogenesis is false because we can never test or know how it happened (we cannot be completely sure without a time machine what the exact conditions were when life arose and never will 100% know)

    False. If abiogenesis is possible, it is a process whose steps can be tested at least in the lab. We can design hypothetical pathways and verify whether they work or not. If a reasonable process occurring under reasonably likely conditions can be verified, then we can reasonably say that life on Earth could have arisen by abiogenesis.

    Your apparent requirement of 100% perfect confidence is not a standard recognized or applied in science or any other intellectual discipline. We may never know what actually did happen, but we will probably reach the point of saying what could reasonably have happened. From a rational, scientific stand-point, that is quite enough. I would not be surprised if, at some point we end up with multiple possible and verified pathways and that the last simmering controversy will not be whether abiogenesis happens, but which of the possible processes is the one that is most likely happened on Earth.

    – let’s not even get started on the multiverse

    As with abiogenesis, if some multiverse theory describes something we can test (which testing is already happening) or provides some actual utility to science (like the still-unverified string theories do) then multiverse theories remain valid and scientific.

    – you refuse to acknowledge that you, like a scientist can test different theories for the same observation, are able to test different theistic hypotheses or proposals for likely accuracy. This is simply false.

    Please describe in some useful detail a test or experimental setup to validate an actual theistic hypothesis.

    sean s.

  188. 188

    sean samis @186:

    Which is why I avoid both.

    That’s not what your text implies. For example, when you said this:

    I said that claims about deities vary wildly. There are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility; at least not unless some deity shows up and sorts them out. That has never happened to my knowledge.

    This a collection of statements you agreed later (above) were not logically valid, which implies to me it wasn’t a very well-thought-out collection of statments. They appear to be irrational dismissals, much like the following statement of yours:

    Yes, one does need to have a direct encounter with a deity to know that it exists, otherwise one is merely placing their belief in the opinions of other, fallible, frail, limited human beings. Even the wisest person is just a person: fallible, frail, limited.

    Again, this is not a very well-thought-out argument; it seems to me to be an irrational, emotion-based dismissal.

    Can a person credibly know China exists without ever actually visiting China? Can I credibly know that Obama exists without actually having a direct encounter? Can I credibly know that, say, Thomas Jefferson existed, without ever having a direct encounter? Can I credibly know that some intelligent agent(s) built stonehenge, without ever having met them directly?

    So, this is why your position on any theistic proposal seems to be one of selective hyperskepticism; you demand a certain kind of evidence that you do not demand from anything else to claim credible knowledge, and you use irrational dismissals that you later have to admit were not valid. Seems like selective hyperskepticism based on an irrational a priori commitment to me.

    As far “hypergullibility and acceptance” are concerned, I don’t assert that it is a fact that god exists. My belief that a classical god exists is provisional and supported, in my opinion, by a fairly large amount of evidence which I have laid out on this site before (various logical and moral arguments, big bang and fine tuning evidence, various testimonial, anecdotal, circumstantial and tangentially supportive evidences).

    I’ve also laid out an argument on this site where I describe how strong atheism is rationally unsupportable and weak atheism can only be the product of ignorance of the evidence (or of intellectual dishonesty or denialism).

    I find certain arguments against certain kinds of gods (non-classical) to be good arguments, which is why I don’t think one can support a credible belief in those kinds of “gods”.

    I don’t I’ve represented myself and my views here in a way that supports an accusation of “hypergulliblism”, whereas your comments just in this thread alone appear to support hyperskepticism and irrational denial on your part.

  189. 189
    Dr JDD says:

    Seans @187:

    The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best starting point as evidence for theism.

    Evidence does not rely on lab reproducibility. You believe that Shakespeare wrote his plays? You believe Christopher Colombus landed in North America? Why? Because of evidence?

  190. 190
    sean samis says:

    Re. #188

    This a collection of statements you agreed later (above) were not logically valid, …

    I did no such thing.

    Can a person credibly know China exists without ever actually visiting China?

    Yes. If testimony about China is reasonably consistent and posits nothing about China which is beyond rational explanation, then a person can credibly believe that China exists ever without being there.

    If testimony about deities was as consistent as it is about China and posited nothing about these deities that is beyond rational explanation, then one could credibly believe in deities without experiencing one.

    But testimony about deities vary wildly and posits attributes about these deities that cannot be rationally explained, so deities cannot be credibly believed without direct experience.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; in this case even ordinary evidence is lacking; only a personal encounter with a deity would suffice.

    Can I credibly know that Obama exists without actually having a direct encounter?

    Similar to the above regarding China; an ordinary claim requiring only ordinary evidence.

    Can I credibly know that, say, Thomas Jefferson existed, without ever having a direct encounter?

    Similar to the above. Any person or event from the past can be credibly believed when there is reasonably consistent information about them and their reported behaviors. An ordinary claim requiring only ordinary evidence.

    Can I credibly know that some intelligent agent(s) built stonehenge, without ever having met them directly?

    Ditto. You seem to imply that your God is just another thing, like a faraway land, or a famous person or place. Is your God really so ordinary?

    I don’t assert that it is a fact that god exists. [emphasis added] My belief that a classical god exists is provisional and supported, in my opinion, by a fairly large amount of evidence which I have laid out on this site before …

    Well OK then. I don’t assert that no God exists. I don’t even provisionally believe there is no god. I merely know I have no experience or credible evidence that any deity exists and I believe that the evidence put forward for the existence of any deity is too weak and muddled to arrive at any reasonable conclusion FOR OR AGAINST. I have laid much of my reasoning out on this site before. You and others have rejected my conclusions; that’s your right. As it is my right and the right of others to reject your evidence as inadequate.

    sean s.

  191. 191
    sean samis says:

    Dr JDD;

    Regarding;

    The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best starting point as evidence for theism.

    Evidence does not rely on lab reproducibility. You believe that Shakespeare wrote his plays? You believe Christopher Colombus landed in North America? Why? Because of evidence?

    Like others, you represent your beliefs as if they were accounts of mere, ordinary events. A man writing plays and poetry, another sailing across the ocean, and one rising from the dead; these are categorically different. Was Jesus just another, ordinary man? Do people rise from the dead under their own power frequently?

    No. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and the only evidence you have is that some people wrote that it happened. No reasonable person would accept that as satisfactory under ordinary conditions.

    sean s.

  192. 192
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary [==> ADEQUATE] evidence

    Cliffordian/Saganian evidentialism fails, not least by too often being an announcement of worldview level question-begging by stacking the deck on standard of evidence for what one wishes to disbelieve.

    A fallacy of the closed mind, in short.

    A more responsible view is that one seeks responsible warrant providing sufficient credibility to act on, without erecting self-serving double standards on required evidence.

    See Greenleaf in his justly famous Evidence, vol 1 ch 1:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction.

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd.

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them.

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved.

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

    BTW, his summary of the ancient documents rule is relevant:

    Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [Testimony of the Evangelists, Kregel reprint, p.16.]

    So also is this on fitting in:

    Every event which actually transpires has its appropriate relation and place in the vast complication of circumstances, of which the affairs of men consist; it owes its origin to the events which have preceded it, it is intimately connected with all others which occur at the same time and place, and often with those of remote regions, and in its turn gives birth to numberless others which succeed. In all this almost inconceivable contexture, and seeming discord, there is perfect harmony; and while the fact, which really happened, tallies exactly with every other contemporaneous incident, related to it in the remotest degree, it is not possible for the wit of man to invent a story, which, if closely compared with the actual occurrences of the same time and place, may not be shown to be false. [p. 39.]

    There is much more.

    KF

  193. 193
    goodusername says:

    KF,

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary [==> ADEQUATE] evidence

    Cliffordian/Saganian evidentialism fails, not least by too often being an announcement of worldview level question-begging by stacking the deck on standard of evidence for what one wishes to disbelieve.

    A fallacy of the closed mind, in short.

    A more responsible view is that one seeks responsible warrant providing sufficient credibility to act on, without erecting self-serving double standards on required evidence.

    No one disputes that “adequate” evidence is required. It’s true by definition. But is what is “adequate” always the same?
    I’m guessing if you saw a cat footprint outside, you’d believe that a cat stepped there. If you saw a dog footprint, you’d believe a dog stepped there. But if you saw what looked like a T-Rex footprint, I’m guessing you’d be skeptical. You’d need “more than the ordinary” amount of evidence that a T-Rex was roaming the neighborhood. What’s considered “adequate” suddenly changed.

  194. 194

    Sean Sami:

    I said;

    This a collection of statements you agreed later (above) were not logically valid,

    You said:

    I did no such thing.

    Sure you did. You originally made this comment @157:

    I said I can’t trust the evidence for deities because it comes from an unreliable source (humans) and cannot be tested or verified.

    I said that claims about deities vary wildly. There are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility; at least not unless some deity shows up and sorts them out. That has never happened to my knowledge.

    I pointed out that your statement was illogical (logically non-valid):

    Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that none of the claims have credibility; nor does it mean that none of the claims are logically valid; nor does it mean that all of the evidence for each claim is categorically equal. That’s a completely irrational non sequitur.

    I’ll also take the time now to point at another irrational aspect of that original post of yours where you said: “I said I can’t trust the evidence for deities because it comes from an unreliable source (humans) and cannot be tested or verified.”

    If humans are an unreliable source, SS, what is going to “test or verify” the original evidence? If humans are unreliable sources of evidence, then you have no reliable sources of evidence for anything whatsoever.

    @186 you agreed with with what I said about the invalid logic in your commentary:

    WJM: Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that none of the claims have credibility; …

    SS: True.

    WJM: … nor does it mean that none of the claims are logically valid; …

    SS: True.

    WJM: … nor does it mean that all of the evidence for each claim is categorically equal.

    SS: True.

    Thus agreeing that your statements in 157 were not logically valid.

    Now, you go on to make more logically unsupportable “arguments” further indicating that your position being protected by an irrational hyperskepticism. Just applying a little critical analysis shows how illogical your “argument” is.

    You said:

    Yes. If testimony about China is reasonably consistent…

    China is a big place, full of entirely different kinds of locations. Also, different people can come away with entirely different personal perspectives about China, which can easily lead to widely disparate testimony about China. Eyewitness testimony of a specific event in a specific place and time, such as criminal eyewitness testimony, is known to vary wildly and even be contradictory between witnesses. I’m sure you know this.

    What does “reasonably consistent” mean, then? Well, when a dozen people claim to have witnessed a murder, but they all disagree about what the suspect looked like, do we dismiss the idea that there was even a murder in the first place? Or do we take what they have all agreed upon and then work from there?

    …and posits nothing about China which is beyond rational explanation,

    I think you’re mixing “rational” up with “scientific”. There is nothing about god or the supernatural which defies rational explanation depending upon one’s premises. There are many very good logical (rational) arguments for the existence of god. If you mean “scientific”, there is plenty of scientific evidence for god (fine-tuning evidence).

    then a person can credibly believe that China exists ever without being there.

    So, if we have good rational arguments for the existence of god, good scientific evidence for the existence of god, and lots of testimonial evidence that god exists (but which suffers from the same endemic variances as all eyewitness testimony can), then it seems to me that it is possible to have a credible belief in god – if you applied the same rules of evidence to god that you do to anything else in life.

    I think you realize this because you try to give yourself cover:

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence;

    Why would something you think is extraordinary require “extraordinary” evidence? Who gets to define what an extraordinary claim is, and who gets to define when the necessary measure of “extraordinary” evidence has been provided?

    That saying is just a rhetorical device used to dismiss any argument or evidence of god as being “not enough”, when we certainly have enough evidence for at least a classical theism for any reasonable person. The testimonial evidence by itself – billions of people over thousands of years – is enough by itself, let alone the various logical and moral arguments and the fine tuning evidence.

  195. 195
    kairosfocus says:

    GUN, the fundamental problem at work is that the declaration in question is tantamount to announcing a closed mind on a subject. I have already addressed what a more responsible view of warrant looks like. KF

  196. 196
    Querius says:

    Having just finished reading all the posts—many of which were wonderfully expressed—some questions occurred to me.

    How do people really adopt a conviction or make a lifelong commitment? I mean really, and not how do they rationalize it later.

    Do people really, truly, and dispassionately evaluate all the evidence, or is that something they claim later to justify their position?

    People talk a lot about faith—faith in yourself, faith in humanity, faith in the future, even faith in internet security, the universe, and God. It sounds like feel-good advice, but what does it really mean?

    A similar word, trust, is a more practical word to many of us. Everyone trusts.

    The cloud is the key, but we need technically enforced trust boundaries. Those who want to move to the cloud must have faith, but this faith needs to be grounded in fact.

    – from an internet security and encryption presentation at an RSA Conference, April 2015

    But how can we be sure of our trust in light of the multitude of fakes, phonies, and scams, not to mention the more diabolical abuses that infest every facet of human activity?

    Some good methods for determining trust-worthiness include recommendations and anecdotal evidence, the reliability of the source, cross-examination, cross-checking through multiple sources, independent perspectives, being aware of the possibility of collusion, considering likelihoods and motives, and so on. Conversely, every fabrication, scam, and crime leaves a trail of evidence, and every subsequent cover-up generates its own trail of evidence that might eventually expose the lie.

    Nevertheless, we can’t live life consumed with suspicion, so the primary methods most people depend on are personal experience, reliable testimonials, a chain of trust, and the same experience being repeated many times, which is called inductive inference.

    These are practical methods, though not infallible.

    We make friendships the same way. We meet someone and we like them. We hear good things about them from other people, and over time and through many occasions they prove themselves trustworthy. Thus, we come to assume that any subsequent slander against them is false.

    But what about trust in God? How and why would someone decide to trust in God and for what?

    Here’s one way—eyewitness testimony:

    And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such a voice having been brought to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this voice brought from out of heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

    – Simon, brother of Andrew, son of Jonah, Jewish fisherman, and disciple of Jesus in 2 Peter 1:15-18, NASB, literal Greek

    The fact that the account is 2,000 years old and handed from person to person doesn’t change whether it’s true or not.

    If you believed Simon’s statement, how would this change your life?

    -Q

  197. 197
    Marfin says:

    Sean S .Why at 147 did you not take the golden opportunity to put me in my place, by presenting all the wonderful scientific evidence to show how life began naturally,but
    instead like most atheists you did not produce a shred of scientific evidence for your so called scientific position.
    Please answer me this simple question , as of today what has science shown conclusively in the matter of the origin of life,is it that life always comes from pre existing life or life has arisen for non life , I await the science

  198. 198
    sean samis says:

    Regarding #194

    I’ll also take the time now to point at another irrational aspect of that original post of yours where you said: “I said I can’t trust the evidence for deities because it comes from an unreliable source (humans) and cannot be tested or verified.”

    If humans are an unreliable source, SS, what is going to “test or verify” the original evidence? If humans are unreliable sources of evidence, then you have no reliable sources of evidence for anything whatsoever.

    I’ll spell this out this for you:

    I cannot trust the evidence for deities for TWO REASONS.

    1. because it comes from an unreliable source (humans) AND
    2. because it ALSO cannot be tested or verified.

    If evidence for deities could be tested or verified, then my objection would be satisfied. But it cannot be.

    Humans using the scientific method can be trusted to test and verify claims because part of the method requires them to show the rest of us how they did it.

    An essential feature of verification under the scientific method is that we trust but verify; verifying not only theories, but also verifying RESULTS. If you have an experiment we could try, please let us know.

    Regarding

    Thus agreeing that your statements in 157 were not logically valid.

    No. You need me to spell this out too.

    Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that none of the claims have credibility; but it also does not mean that ANY of them are credible. They could all be incredible.

    Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean … that none of the claims are logically valid; but it also does not mean that ANY of them are logically valid. They could all be illogical.

    Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that … all of the evidence for each claim is categorically equal; but inequality of evidence does not mean that ANY of the evidence is credible. It is possible all the evidence is distributed along a continuum from outrageously impossible to merely very, very, very unlikely.

    You are correct that the mere fact that claims about deities vary wildly and are contradictory is not, of itself proof that all such claims are false, but unless some claim can be distinguished by being demonstratively credible, the sheer plenitude of conflicting claims is reasonable cause to refuse to accept any of them until some evidence is shown which makes one or more stand out from the herd. It’s a simple, pragmatic and reasonable choice.

    So far, no such distinctive claim has been demonstrated to my knowledge. So, until then, in the absence of credibility, I will lean on Ockham’s Razor and give my preference to the simplest, most testable options (none of which involve deities) and wait on the results.

    To put it a different way: If supposition X offers only one, untestable, unverifiable explanation, it is not a valid scientific theory. If X offers a billion untestable, unverifiable explanations, it remains not a valid scientific theory.

    And of course, I assume you are aware of the difference between ‘untestable’ and ‘untested’.

    Regarding testimony about China;

    China is a big place, full of entirely different kinds of locations. Also, different people can come away with entirely different personal perspectives about China …

    Exactly, and yet stories from China match up reasonably well. And if I have my doubts, I can just go there myself! IS YOUR GOD JUST A REALLY BIG COUNTRY? Is he so capricious and arbitrary that to some people he appears as Jehovah and to others he’s Ra? Or Odin? Or Baal? Really? Is your god schizophrenic? How does anyone make your god submit to an examination?

    Claims about your god and China are categorically different.

    Regarding:

    I think you’re mixing “rational” up with “scientific”. There is nothing about god or the supernatural which defies rational explanation depending upon one’s premises.

    Exactly. All explanations of deities depend on a prior bias; believing accounts of China, Obama, or Jefferson do not.

    if we have good rational arguments for the existence of god, good scientific evidence for the existence of god, and lots of testimonial evidence that god exists (but which suffers from the same endemic variances as all eyewitness testimony can), then it seems to me that it is possible to have a credible belief in god – if you applied the same rules of evidence to god that you do to anything else in life.

    If we did, but we don’t, so we can’t. There’s lots of testimony, but it’s all over the map. Travelers from China can bring home pictures, but I’ve never seen photograph of any deity. Applying the same rules of evidence as I do to other things discredits all evidence of deities. There are lots of stories, but no pictures, no recordings, no physical evidence, no travel directions so I retrace their steps; no way to test or observe the deity; nothing but unverifiable tales.

    Why would something you think is extraordinary require “extraordinary” evidence? Who gets to define what an extraordinary claim is, and who gets to define when the necessary measure of “extraordinary” evidence has been provided?

    Why would you think an extraordinary claim should get by on less?

    For science, the standard is the probability of the evidence supporting the claim or the probability of the evidence being coincidence only. And claims of probability are themselves subject to review and verification. Most of your evidence for deities can be explained without any deity. There is no direct evidence of any deity, it is all inferred, usually as arguments from ignorance.

    What science needs is evidence that can be verified, reverified, and which can be demonstrated to be improbable without a deity. For a reasonable person, the reply to “God did it.” is “HOW?”

    A billion people giving a billion conflicting and contradictory explanations adds up to A mountain of reasonable doubt.

    That’s me: a doubter. Not an atheist, but a doubter.

    sean s.

  199. 199
    sean samis says:

    Regarding #196;

    The fact that the account is 2,000 years old and handed from person to person doesn’t change whether it’s true or not.

    Querius; that is correct if somewhat incomplete.

    If accounts like it are the basis of your belief, you are not believing in God, but in the accounts of mere humans: fallible, frail, limited, sinful.

    And of course there are other accounts; some older, some newer, all handed from person to person which are the bases of beliefs in very different deities. Their vintage and provenance does not change whether they are true or not either.

    For me, personally, I cannot find a reason to treat any of these as reliable. Whatever deity might actually exist, he, she, it, or they hide from me.

    sean s.

  200. 200
    sean samis says:

    Regarding #197;

    Gees Marfin, and when I’m done spoon feeding you, will I need to wipe your chin too? Will you be ready for your nap?

    The information you request is available out there in the big Wide World of the Internet.

    Let me make it simple for you:

    1. The natural process by which life arose is not yet fully understood.
    2. The natural process by which life arose is potentially discoverable, but it will take time.
    3. A supernatural process by which life would be created is not even potentially discoverable.

    4. So… if anyone wants to discover how life came to be, only research of the natural process offers an opportunity to discover the answer.

    5. There is no law of logic, reason, or science that requires a theory to be verified by—Wednesday! Or any other dead-line. It takes as long as it takes.

    Sorry if I’m a bit snarky here, but. Come. On. There’s nothing I just wrote that’s news to anyone.

    sean s.

  201. 201

    SS digs himself in deeper:

    I’ll spell this out this for you:

    I cannot trust the evidence for deities for TWO REASONS.

    1. because it comes from an unreliable source (humans) AND
    2. because it ALSO cannot be tested or verified.

    Humans using the scientific method can be trusted to test and verify claims because part of the method requires them to show the rest of us how they did it.

    1. Has everything you believe to be true been scientifically verified as true?

    2. Has mainstream science ever accepted a thing as true for a long duration of time, then later discovered it was not true?

    3. Do you have the personal scientific knowledge and expertise to check all scientific findings for yourself?

    Hopefully, you can see where this is headed before you get yourself in any deeper trying to defend your selectively hyperskeptical double-standard.

    Why would you think an extraordinary claim should get by on less?

    Well, in the first place I wouldn’t attempt to legitimize my bias by referring to any claim as “extraordinary”. It might be extraoridinary to me, it might not be to someone else. Such a subjective evaluation should be left at the door and the claim should just be held up to the same standard as any other claim. Why should I require “extraordinary” evidence in one case, and “ordinary” evidence in another? Just to satisfy the bias of those who subjectively consider one claim extraordinary and not another? That is an irrational double-standard.

    Now let’s examine SS’s backtracking and handwaving in detail:

    WJM said: “Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that none of the claims have credibility;”

    SS handwaves: “but it also does not mean that ANY of them are credible. They could all be incredible.

    Because SS’s first comment was: “There are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility;”

    Look at the structure of the sentence: SS is claiming that none have credibility because there are so many. Now he is backtracking and saying that it doesn’t mean by itself any are credible or non-credible – but that is not what he said. He said “there are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility. Why say something so inane as “There are so many contradictory claims it doesn’t mean any of them are credible or non-credible.”

    So much for his handwaving backtrack. Here is some more backtracking:

    You are correct that the mere fact that claims about deities vary wildly and are contradictory is not, of itself proof that all such claims are false, but unless some claim can be distinguished by being demonstratively credible, the sheer plenitude of conflicting claims is reasonable cause to refuse to accept any of them until some evidence is shown which makes one or more stand out from the herd. It’s a simple, pragmatic and reasonable choice.

    Previously SS had said:

    I said that claims about deities vary wildly. There are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility; at least not unless some deity shows up and sorts them out. That has never happened to my knowledge.

    First, SS insists that because there are so many contradictory claims none of them have any credibility; now, he says that because there are so many contradictory claims that he is not required to accept any of them “… until some evidence is shown which makes one or more stand out from the herd.”

    Now, might there be some evidence brought forward that makes one or more claims of a deity “stand out from the herd”, short of SS personally meeting that deity? Or has SS backtracked from his original demand of face to face evidence?

    So far, no such distinctive claim has been demonstrated to my knowledge.

    Willful ignorance does not a rebuttal make. Such evidence has been presented in the form of the logical arguments, the moral arguments, the fine tuning evidence, etc., – enough evidence to make a sound case for the existence of a first cause intelligent designer/creator of the universe, as ground of being and certain abstract absolutes.

    So, until then, in the absence of credibility, I will lean on Ockham’s Razor and give my preference to the simplest, most testable options (none of which involve deities) and wait on the results.

    The theory that billions of humans have been erroneously deluded; that the fine-tuning of the universe is explained either by happenstance something-from-nothing or the existence of an infinite number of universes; that our sensation of conscience, morality and free will and the universal authority of logic and mathematics to objectively determine true statements is a deluded mirage of haphazardly interacting chemicals is the most efficient answer to those questions is patently false. The existence of a supernatural ground of being, first cause creator of the universe is the most efficient cause.

    That mess you propose is just the most efficient given your a priori commitment to atheistic naturalism.

    An essential feature of verification under the scientific method is that we trust but verify; verifying not only theories, but also verifying RESULTS. If you have an experiment we could try, please let us know.

    We were not just talking about scientific evidence; we’re talking about sufficient evidence to believe a propposition. But, as far as science is concerned, the fine-tuning evidence is certainly repeatable.

    SS took my argument about the variances of personal eyewitness testimony and appears to rebut it with an emotion-laden theological outburst:

    Exactly, and yet stories from China match up reasonably well. And if I have my doubts, I can just go there myself! IS YOUR GOD JUST A REALLY BIG COUNTRY? Is he so capricious and arbitrary that to some people he appears as Jehovah and to others he’s Ra? Or Odin? Or Baal? Really? Is your god schizophrenic? How does anyone make your god submit to an examination?

    SS seems outraged that “my” god won’t take the effort to make itself appear to be the same thing to all those who experience it. IOW, SS realizes my argument that personal witness testimony always has variances, even contradictory ones, is valid when it concerns any other thing people witness, experience and subjectively process and interpret, so he switches to a theological argument and insists that, essentially, no god worth proposing would allow people to have variant eyewitness perspectives and personal experience interpretations.

    SS, you should know that a lot of how a person experiences a thing is determined by their own a priori views, expectations, knowledge and personal experience. Just because some people experience a thing and call it god doesn’t mean that thing is god; just because some people experience god and come away with contradictory views/interpretations doesn’t mean that they both didn’t experience god. That’s the nature of eyewitness & personal experience accounts.

    The logic here really isn’t that difficult – unless, of course, one’s “logic” is driven by an priori commitment to deny theism at all costs.

  202. 202
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    But testimony about deities vary wildly and posits attributes about these deities that cannot be rationally explained, so deities cannot be credibly believed without direct experience.

    Forget about testimony for a moment and consider the arguments from reason. Some of them point to a first cause, which many interpret as God.

    Try this one:

    Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.

    The universe began to exist.

    Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being.

    Do you agree with the premises and the conclusion? If not, why not?

  203. 203
    Querius says:

    StephenB,

    It seems that SS reserves the right of “selective skepticism” (also SS), which obfuscates all historical accounts, trial testimony, narratives, tapes, photos, videos (all which could obviously be staged!), and any other evidence that’s inconvenient.

    This provides a spectacular degree of freedom . . . 😉

    -Q

  204. 204
    Marfin says:

    Sean S RE 200 Do you not take the time to understand what you write, you say, we don`t understand , we might in the future , please send me 50 k for my lead into gold venture I dont understand how to do it but I am sure I will in the future , what you are not sending me the money oh ye of little faith.Sean you are describing a belief system a belief that science will one day provide all the answers , and I have no problem if you want to believe that, I actually believe we have free will.But what you are failing to do is to take the evidence on face value, today as of today we have shown over and over and over again life only comes from preexisting life THATS THE SCIENCE, now if you want to BELIEVE that sometime in the past this was not the case you can believe that, but that belief is not based on the scientific evidence its based on your atheistic worldview.You say in the future we will discover such and such , but as for the supernatural we will never be able to test for it, not only are you a man of great faith but you are fortune teller who can see into the future, if you believe we will discover how life arose, why can we not discover a test for the supernatural , in the future that is.Sean if you are going to argue based on science ,please stick to the actual evidence and leave the crystal ball stuff to the crack pots.

  205. 205
    sean samis says:

    Regarding #201;

    Let me get to the heart of this one first. WJM discusses supposed back-tracking and hand-waving involving comments from me. I checked through the history of that topic, and indeed I made an error. So Let’s clear that up.

    In #157 I wrote that

    I can’t trust the evidence for deities because it comes from an unreliable source (humans) and cannot be tested or verified. … claims about deities vary wildly. There are so many contradictory claims that none have credibility; at least not unless some deity shows up and sorts them out. That has never happened to my knowledge.

    I stand by those statements even now.

    In # 164, WJM wrote

    Just because claims about a thing vary wildly or are contradictory doesn’t mean that none of the claims have credibility; …

    In # 186, I replied to that with a simple.

    True.

    THAT WAS MY ERROR; I think I understand why I made that mistake, but: no excuses. It was an error.

    I should have said that WJM’s comment in #164 was wrong. Wild variation of claims about deities DOES make them all not credible short of some way to distinguish the good from the bad.

    Credibility is about trustworthiness, about believability. Unless there is a way to sort wild claims out, some way to distinguish the good from the bad from the ugly, they are all not credible. The sheer number of deistic claims is an IMPEDIMENT to the credibility of all of them.

    It’s like being in a room full of children all yelling out their individual accounts of “what just happened”. That all these kids are yelling at one time does not mean all of them are wrong, but their noise and strident passion certainly makes it hard to sort them out; the cacophony makes figuring out who might be right (if anyone) somewhere between difficult and impossible. Until you can sort these out, none of these children’s’ accounts are credible.

    For those of us on the outside of religion; it seems thus. Even among Christians there is wild disagreement about what the deity did or expects. Throw in the rest of the Abrahamic tradition (various kinds of Jews and Muslims) and the variation grow greatly. Throw in the Hindu and Eastern religions; it just gets worse. None of these accounts are credible.

    And I have not been able to sort them all out; I know a lot of people who have given up on it. Why should we figure out which theist to believe when 1.) we don’t know that any is correct and 2.) even theists can’t sort this out?

    So, in summary: no back-tracking or hand-waving. An error, yes. Sorry for the confusion. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ve now corrected it.

    On with our regular programming.

    Regarding the rest of #201

    1. Has everything you believe to be true been scientifically verified as true?

    Almost everything I believe true about nature, yes; because that’s what science is for. As for the other ordinary things I believe, I try to be reasonable about them, but if science is not the right tool, I don’t use it. Is that milk spoiled? Let me sniff it. That’s not really science.

    2. Has mainstream science ever accepted a thing as true for a long duration of time, then later discovered it was not true?

    Of course; science is practiced by mere humans. No humans are infallible. But science is self-correcting, it would be a bad thing if it wasn’t.

    3. Do you have the personal scientific knowledge and expertise to check all scientific findings for yourself?

    That’s not a requirement for other commentators, why should it be for me? Do you check the credentials of those who opine in favor of creationism? Probably not.

    … has SS backtracked from his original demand of face to face evidence?

    Absolutely not. There simply is no other way for me to know that some deity exists. Maybe a deity could send a person authorized to speak to me on the deity’s behalf. But that person would need to come with so much information to prove their authorization that it would be more efficient for the deity just to be there personally.

    Willful ignorance does not a rebuttal make. Such evidence has been presented in the form of the logical arguments, the moral arguments, the fine tuning evidence, etc., – enough evidence to make a sound case for the existence of a first cause intelligent designer/creator of the universe, as ground of being and certain abstract absolutes.

    All this pseudo-evidence makes sense only if you already believe in a deity. The logical arguments are defective; the moral arguments are ungrounded; the fine tuning evidence argues from ignorance. The rest is vacuous philosophizing.

    If WJM is not aware of this, his willful ignorance is no excuse.

    This matter does bring up a thought. I need to complement WJM and other creationists; they are working hard to advance the theological practice of syncretism.

    The deity/first cause/intelligent designer of creationism could be any deity: Apollo, Baal, Gaia, Isis, Jehovah, Mithra, Odin, Zeus; any deity. Creationist logic seems to destroy any theological primacy Christians used to claim. Creationism implies that, indeed, all roads lead to Heaven. Or Valhalla. Whichever.

    We were not just talking about scientific evidence; we’re talking about sufficient evidence to believe a propposition. [sic]But, as far as science is concerned, the fine-tuning evidence is certainly repeatable.

    Ahh, no. You don’t “repeat evidence”, you repeat experiments. Looking at the same rock twice is not meaningful. Performing an experiment that someone else described to you and checking the results is quite meaningful; that’s how “cold fusion” was brought down.

    SS seems outraged that “my” god won’t take the effort to make itself appear to be the same thing to all those who experience it.

    Outraged? No. No deity has an obligation to ever appear to anyone—unless that deity cares about what we all believe. Then that deity would be morally obligated to never mislead or confuse anyone.

    IOW, SS realizes my argument that personal witness testimony always has variances, even contradictory ones, is valid when it concerns any other thing people witness, experience and subjectively process and interpret,

    When humans encounter some phenomena, there’s always some variation, even the occasional contradictions. But if reports of an event lack sufficient consistency, everyone would say that the reports were confused, that what happened was unclear. Reports of deities are confused, whether they exist is unclear.

    In other words, there is a natural variation in human accounts, but these are categorically different from suspicious variations which indicate the accounts are uncoordinated fabrications.

    If two or more witnesses are separated and asked about a crime, and their stories don’t match up, at least some of them are probably lying.

    no god worth proposing would allow people to have variant eyewitness perspectives and personal experience interpretations.

    Not if the god cares what people think or do. Are deities indifferent to what we think or do? If it’s important to tell us stuff, it’s important for the deity to get it right.

    just because some people experience god and come away with contradictory views/interpretations doesn’t mean that they both didn’t experience god. That’s the nature of eyewitness & personal experience accounts.

    Generally, that is not the case. When two people see the same thing, they usually can describe it accurately. When two experiences are wildly different, leading to contradictory experiences, most people take that as a sign that these persons have experienced different things.

    Again, if two or more witnesses are separated and asked about a event, and their stories don’t match up, at least some of them are probably lying.

    What WJM’s last few statements really do, however is undermine the idea that human witness accounst can ever be trusted. WJM argues that none of us can experience the same thing at the same time. What each of us experiences is likely to be wildly different from what others experience even with the same phenomena. So our accounts will vary.

    Yet human experience tells a different story. There are variations in subjective impressions, but generally we do experience things much alike. There is so much in our culture and the technological infrastructure that we use that depends on us agreeing that the light is green, that the arrow points left; that the white women had the red purse, that the cell phone is running android, and so on and so on. WJM’s position seems to be that we cannot count on even general agreement on the most obvious things. We cannot provide reasonably consistent accounts. It challenges the very notion of our ability to be logical or reasonable.

    A deity says “thou shalt not do X” and WJM expects us to believe that a substantial portion of the population will hear “thou shalt do X”.

    A deity talks to many people; some think they’re supposed to practice human sacrifice, pedophilia, warfare, racial or sexual oppression. Others get pacifism, human kindness, generosity.

    Those of us on the outside of religion ask “What the Heck…?!”

    WJM just shrugs and declares it normal human variation.

    Hmm.

    That’s enough for now.

    sean s.

  206. 206
    sean samis says:

    StephenB; Regarding #202:

    Forget about testimony for a moment and consider the arguments from reason. Some of them point to a first cause, which many interpret as God.

    Try this one:

    Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
    The universe began to exist.
    Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being.
    Do you agree with the premises and the conclusion? If not, why not?

    I agree with the premises and the conclusion, however that cause need not be a deity, it need only be some thing preexisting (such as a multiverse).

    One could interpret the cause (the thing) to be a deity, but that interpretation is separate from your argument from reason and is not supported by it.

    What you would need is another argument from reason establishing that only a deity can be the thing that caused the universe to come into existence. A claim that that thing COULD BE a deity will not suffice to prove the thing was a deity

    sean s.

  207. 207
    StephenB says:

    SB: Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.

    The universe began to exist.

    Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being.

    Do you agree with the premises and the conclusion? If not, why not?

    Sean

    I agree with the premises and the conclusion, however that cause need not be a deity, it need only be some thing preexisting (such as a multiverse).

    [a] Actually, a thing (or a multiverse) cannot create a universe. Only an immaterial, timeless person can bring time and space into existence. Neither matter, or time, or space can bring itself into existence.

    [b] Only an immaterial, self-existing being with the personal power and freedom to create or not create can bring a universe into existence. A thing or a multiverse does not have the personal freedom to make choices.

  208. 208
    sean samis says:

    StephenB.;

    Regarding,

    [a] Actually, a thing (or a multiverse) cannot create a universe. Only an immaterial, timeless person can bring time and space into existence.

    This is a bare assertion. You’ll need to provide a logical argument or other evidence in support of it.

    Neither matter, or time, or space can bring itself into existence.

    You appear to misunderstand the scientific position.

    Neither the “big bang” nor multiverse theories posit matter (actually matter-energy), time, or space bringing themselves into existence.

    A multiverse would preexist our universe, potentially eternally, and events there caused our universe to come into existence.

    No “self-creation” is posited.

    [b] Only an immaterial, self-existing being with the personal power and freedom to create or not create can bring a universe into existence.

    This is another bare assertion. You’ll need to provide a logical argument or other evidence in support of it.

    A thing or a multiverse does not have the personal freedom to make choices.

    Since we don’t know that a free choice was involved in the creation of our universe—an accident would suffice—we certainly don’t know this assertion is true. Yet another bare assertion in need of a supporting logical argument or other evidence.

    sean s.

  209. 209
    StephenB says:

    SB: Actually, a thing (or a multiverse) cannot create a universe. Only an immaterial, timeless person can bring time and space into existence.

    You appear to misunderstand the scientific position.

    Irrelevant. We are discussing a philosophical argument. You have claimed that a “thing” (or a multiverse) can create a universe. I have refuted that argument by showing that nothing else but an immaterial, timeless being can do that. The reason for that is that time, space, and matter cannot create themselves. What is your counter argument?

    No “self-creation” is posited.

    It is being posited by you. You say that a multiverse, which is time, space, and matter, can create time, space, and matter. That claim, which is patently absurd, has been refuted.

    SB: Only an immaterial, self-existing being with the personal power and freedom to create or not create can bring a universe into existence.

    —an accident would suffice—we certainly don’t know this assertion is true.

    So, now we have your final argument: Time, space, and matter accidentally created time, space, and matter. And you think that is more reasonable than God deciding to create the universe.

    I am happy to let that ride.

  210. 210
    Marfin says:

    Sean S Re your multiverse assertions, what are the properties of this so called multiverse , that it creates universe`s and how have you TESTED this, or is the the fact that the multiverse exists and creates more universes just a BARE faced assertion.I await your TESTABLE experiment, if you don`t have one ,will you then admit its not science , but faith and wishful thinking.

  211. 211
    kairosfocus says:

    SS,

    Pardon, but in addition to multiverse problems, you seem to be tilting at a strawman caricature of ethical principles in a context of what say the US DoI of 1776 actually terms “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”

    That is, the core principles of morality are not arbitrary and capricious impositions but instead are intelligible, in key cases actually self-evident, and are logically and dynamically coherent. That is why for instance Kant could observe that sound maxims of moral government are universalisable [everybody can live by them in a coherent, thriving community] but that what is morally unsound in effect depends on the fact that most people most of the time do not act like that. For instance if all checks went rubbery, there would be a breakdown. If all Cretans lie always, Crete would not be a viable society, and more.

    This is by no means the whole story, but it is a key step of insight.

    Next, you seem to imagine that the fact of moral error (you phrase in terms of utter differences of views — but overall the differences are exaggerated for rhetorical effect as C S Lewis pointed out long since) entails the want of sound moral principles or that there is a true God who would have spoken.

    But in fact the presence of counterfeit money is a parasiting off the fact of valuable, real money and as say the Germans proved in WW 2, counterfeiting can be a weapon of war meant to dilute the value of and undermine trust in the real thing. (Out in our parts of the world it is now routine for shops to mark US currency paid to them with a test pen to see if it is genuine; I think banks have some sort of special light.)

    First, that error exists is itself a true fact, and it is self evident. In simple terms, denying that error exists implies that it is an error to hold that error exists. This has the direct consequence that by demonstration, truth exists as what accurately describes reality, and it can in some cases be warranted and thus knowable to utter certainty. In many other cases — and this is a clue — it is knowable to that moral certainty by the which one would be irresponsible and damaging to oneself and/or others to act as though it were false.

    This instantly bridges truth, knowledge and moral responsibility.

    Second, there is a generally known compass faculty, conscience that consistently urges us to truth, right and duty. This pervades all of our thought life and any scheme of thought that implies this to be delusional would taint all of our thought life, resulting in absurdity. Indeed, just your presence here and arguing point to the implied premise that we are bound under responsible, rational freedom. So, for instance an evolutionary materialistic worldview at once reduces to absurdity and cannot be coherently argued for.

    An illustrative case in point is Patricia Churchland:

    Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F’s: feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is [–> try, “that which says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not” per Aristotle, Metaphysics 1011b], definitely takes the hindmost. [Epistemology in the age of Neuroscience, p. 549. This is a semi-famous quote.]

    Like unto it, here is the late Sir Francis Crick, in his 1994, The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    No wonder Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    Likewise, it is a commonplace that moral error exists, even, moral counterfeit by which vice pretends to be virtue, the better to get away with personally and socially destructive behaviour that parasites off the community. For telling example, ever so many perverse behaviours are advocated to be “rights,” to be enshrined under colour of law. But unless a right is no more that the victory in a nihilists’ game of might and manipulation, a right is intrinsically a demand for justice implying that one has a legitimate freedom in a certain matter, say X, and that others have duties to respect that freedom to X.

    As a direct consequence, only if one is manifestly in the right regarding X, may one properly claim a right, X.

    (And this is in fact the critical issue on ever so many issues in our civilisation, starting with the ongoing abortion holocaust that slaughters 50 millions in the womb per year. Multiply by 40 years and again by 1/2 for growth and you will see why this is by far and away the worst holocaust in history. The first right is life, as without it there can be no other rights. The corruption of conscience, moral/ ethical reasoning and of law to sustain such easily explains the accelerating degradation, moral chaos, rising nihilism and threatening self-induced ruin of our civilisation.)

    In short the appeal to diversity of moral views and claims as an attempted dismissal of the reality of God collapses as error is evidence of truth and counterfeiting of the genuine as well as of possible campaigns to degrade the value of and willingness to trust in the genuine.

    But, moral principles are quite readily accessible to the intelligent mind, as say Locke pointed out in grounding what would become modern democratic government, in ch 2 of his 2nd treatise on government. Notice how he cites Hooker:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. [–> the well known Golden Rule of the Judaeo-Christian ethical tradition taught by Moshe, Jesus and Paul] From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [Hooker then continues, citing the pagan philosopher Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8 and alluding to Justinian’s synthesis of Roman Law in Corpus Juris Civilis that also brings these same thoughts to bear:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80. Emphasis added.]

    In short, moral government of responsibly and rationally free human beings is by no means the chaotic confusion that has been rhetorically posed. Instead, many core principles are self-evident on pain of instant, patent absurdity — though those who hope to profit from their denial or who have been confused by the currents of radical relativism in recent decades may cling to absurdities as a drowning man proverbially clutches at straws.

    And beyond such, living as morally governed, responsibly and rationally significantly free individuals in a world that itself speaks of its design in ever so many ways, points to the only serious candidate root of reality capable of being the IS that grounds OUGHT: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature.

    This is of course a philosophical point. If you deny this unique candidacy, kindly provide another: _______ , or else, explain to us how a world in which oughtness is little more than delusion does not descend into utter irrationality and nihilism: ______________ .

    KF

  212. 212
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I outline how there are self-evident first moral principles:

    . . . laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. if a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. Thus also,

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.

    And yes, such morality, again, points to its roots.

  213. 213
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: When it comes to warrant for the Judaeo-Christian tradition, I suggest here on in context for a 101. Those tempted by the fallacy of selective hyperskepticism may find this briefing note helpful.

  214. 214
    sean samis says:

    StephenB; Regarding #209

    We are discussing a philosophical argument.

    You may be, I am discussing science.

    You have claimed that a “thing” (or a multiverse) can create a universe. I have refuted that argument by showing that nothing else but an immaterial, timeless being can do that. The reason for that is that time, space, and matter cannot create themselves. What is your counter argument?

    You have not refuted anything; you have shown nothing. No philosopher would mistake your bare assertions for refutations. Nor would any scientist nor any reasonable person.

    I’ll be happy to respond to your reasoning if you care to share it with us.

    It [self-creation] is being posited by you. You say that a multiverse, which is time, space, and matter, can create time, space, and matter. That claim, which is patently absurd, has been refuted.

    Straw-man. I expressly and explicitly rejected (and still reject) “self-creation”.
    No philosopher, scientist, nor reasonable person would accept your objection as legitimate.
    X creating another instance of X is not “self-creation”; regardless of what X is.

    You claim to know what a multiverse is (time, space, and matter) but you don’t know any such thing. No one does. That’s why they are the subject of on-going scientific investigation, and only that investigation will ever discover if they exist or what they consist of.

    Only an immaterial, self-existing being with the personal power and freedom to create or not create can bring a universe into existence.

    A repeated, bare assertion unsupported by any rational argument.

    So, now we have your final argument: Time, space, and matter accidentally created time, space, and matter. And you think that is more reasonable than God deciding to create the universe.

    I have not stated any “final argument”, much less the “final argument” you present.
    You are doing neither philosophy nor science.

    sean s.

  215. 215
    sean samis says:

    Marfin, I see that you are struggling with a concept that is difficult for most creationists: science is a process that operates in the realm of the unknown.

    We don’t know much about any multiverse (there are several theories) but scientists have theorized how to test for multiverses; experiments are in planning. To be aware of those, all you have to do is keep up with the news on science news and journal sites.

    You seem to think something cannot be science until AFTER it’s been verified. That’s like confusing ash for the fire. Science is a process, it produces results. Results are not the process.

    And this process is never going to be done; there will always be something new to study. If science was not allowed to focus on the unknown, then it could never produce any results, and we’d all still be living in a 13th century world. You might prefer that; most of us do not.

    You may call my attitude “faith” or “wishful thinking”; I look at the history of science, and all that the process has produced, and call it reasonable confidence.

    On that we will just have to disagree.

    sean s.

  216. 216
    StephenB says:

    SB: We are discussing a philosophical argument.

    sean:

    You may be, I am discussing science.

    You cannot answer a philosophical argument with a scientific argument.

    Science doesn’t help you anyway. The fact is that the multiverse, as posited by science, does not create universes for the simple reason that the multiverse, as posited by science, would already include all universes, including ours.

    No scientist would ever suggest, as you do, that the multiverse created one of the universes that are already part of its collection. Do you grasp your problem here?

    Further, a multiverse, which is made up of matter, space, and time (energy etc.) does not have the causal power to bring anything into existence. A cause cannot give to the effect something it doesn’t have to give.

    You claim to know what a multiverse is (time, space, and matter) but you don’t know any such thing.

    I define a multiverse the same way everyone else does:

    Wikipedia “The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of finite and infinite possible universes, including the universe in which we live. Together, these universes comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, energy, and the physical laws and constants that describe them.”

    Obviously, I am referring to this common meaning of the multiverse, which includes the one in which we live. How can the multiverse create something that is alleged to have always been a part of it? Do you grasp your problem yet?

  217. 217
    Marfin says:

    Sean S Its a shame you think you are being scientific but are so caught up in your atheistic , materialist world view you can see the wood for the trees. I know exactly what science is its a methodology a way of discovering through various experimental and testable methods to reach a solid conclusion about certain things.But you keep missing the point, if person A insist the earth is flat but person B using all the scientific evidence available shows it is a sphere , is it then ok for person A to claim no its flat, we just have not come up with a test to show its flatness, just because its unknown how on earth it could be flat does not mean that its not flat.I know how you would respond to the flatearther you would call him a crackpot.Now person A insists that life has arisen from non living materials person B shows him all the scientific data that every experiment every test every single time we want life it ALWAYS , ALWAYS, ALWAYS , STARTS WITH PRE EXISTING LIFE.but person A insists just because we have never, seen it just because it never happens in nature , just because we cannot do it in a lab by any form of experimentation , does not mean it did not and cannot happen.Now person A does he hold his view because of the scientific evidence or in spite of the scientific evidence,are his conclusions based on what we do know or on some mysterious unknown.So Sean if you want to believe in a flat earth you go right ahead but once again don`t claim its based on the scientific evidence because its actually contrary to it.

  218. 218
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @ 216:

    You cannot answer a philosophical argument with a scientific argument.

    Perhaps not, but I see that does not stop you from trying (below). I’m discussing science. You do with it as you wish.

    Science doesn’t help you anyway. The fact is that the multiverse, as posited by science, does not create universes for the simple reason that the multiverse, as posited by science, would already include all universes, including ours.

    That is not part of any of the theories.

    No scientist would ever suggest, as you do, that the multiverse created one of the universes that are already part of its collection. Do you grasp your problem here?

    Since the predicate of this claim is unproven (and false to the best of my knowledge) there’s no need for me to worry about this. No scientist would ever claim that, whatever process creates universes within a multiverse, those processes have come to their end.

    Further, a multiverse, which is made up of matter, space, and time (energy etc.) does not have the causal power to bring anything into existence. A cause cannot give to the effect something it doesn’t have to give.

    A bare assertion. No one knows what a multiverse would be composed of. Not even your wiki-cite below. Within our universe, however, matter/energy bring other things into existence all the time. See my prior comment about clouds and rain.

    I define a multiverse the same way everyone else does:

    Wikipedia “The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of finite and infinite possible universes, including the universe in which we live. Together, these universes comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, energy, and the physical laws and constants that describe them.”

    Obviously, I am referring to this common meaning of the multiverse, which includes the one in which we live. How can the multiverse create something that is alleged to have always been a part of it? Do you grasp your problem yet?

    Well, first of all, Wikipedia is a good place to start your research but it’s risky to stop there.

    Second, if you reread your own cite, you’ll see that it is the universes within a multiverse which “comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, energy, and the physical laws and constants that describe them.” A multiverse containing universes of space, time, matter, and energy is not itself made of space, time, matter, and energy. There are eggs in my refrigerator, but not everything in my refrigerator are eggs.

    Third, nothing in your cite suggests that multiverses contain every universe that ever existed or will ever exist, only that they contain all universe that currently exist. The verb form of “exist” in your cite is in the present tense only.

    Obviously you are referring to the common meaning of multiverse as you think Wikipedia lays it out, but I think you do not correctly grasp even what Wikipedia says.

    Part of every theory of multiverses is reference to mechanisms which create new universes; yet your wiki-cite makes no reference to that; or the actual composition of any multiverse. No one can say the process of universe-creation has ended.

    sean s.

  219. 219
    StephenB says:

    sean

    There are eggs in my refrigerator, but not everything in my refrigerator are eggs.

    There is no refrigerator or refrigerator-like component in the definition.

    Third, nothing in your cite suggests that multiverses contain every universe that ever existed or will ever exist, only that they contain all universe that currently exist. The verb form of “exist” in your cite is in the present tense only.

    The fact remains that it is logically impossible for a multiverse (or a universe), which is made up of time, spaced, matter etc. to perform a creative act. A natural law is not flexible and cannot perform a creative act. It can only do what it does repeatedly.

    Part of every theory of multiverses is reference to mechanisms which create new universes; yet your wiki-cite makes no reference to that; or the actual composition of any multiverse. No one can say the process of universe-creation has ended.

    In some cases, this is undoubtedly true. However, the baby universe (an incredible proposition to begin with) is still comprised of the same stuff–time, space, etc. Time, space, and matter cannot perform a creative act. Only life can reproduce. Universes don’t get pregnant. A cause cannot give what it does not have to give. Matter, time, and space do not have the causal capacity to reproduce like entities.

    Indeed, even is a multiverse (an absurd idea) could reproduce, you would still have to explain what caused it to come into existence. Or, if you mean an eternal multiverse, which brings a whole new set of problems, you must specify.

  220. 220
  221. 221
    sean samis says:

    StephenB.

    Regarding #219;

    There is no refrigerator or refrigerator-like component in the definition.

    That was a metaphor. In the context, I don’t think it’s all that mysterious.

    The fact remains that it is logically impossible for a multiverse (or a universe), which is made up of time, spaced, matter etc. to perform a creative act. A natural law is not flexible and cannot perform a creative act. It can only do what it does repeatedly.

    The fact remains that you have yet to lay out the logical argument to support those assertions. Your claim that a multiverse must be composed of the same stuff as our universe is a distinct assertion in need of its own logical support.

    In some cases, this is undoubtedly true. However, the baby universe (an incredible proposition to begin with) is still comprised of the same stuff–time, space, etc. Time, space, and matter cannot perform a creative act. Only life can reproduce. Universes don’t get pregnant. A cause cannot give what it does not have to give. Matter, time, and space do not have the causal capacity to reproduce like entities.

    Indeed, even is a multiverse (an absurd idea) could reproduce, you would still have to explain what caused it to come into existence. Or, if you mean an eternal multiverse, which brings a whole new set of problems, you must specify.

    You clearly still do not understand multiverse theories. Universes do not reproduce, multiverses create new universes.

    Multiverses are provisionally regarded as eternal; it’s much too soon to fret about where they come from. There’s no need yet to explain where they came from because we don’t know enough about them to say they ever had a beginning. If you are willing to posit an eternal intelligence, an eternal mindless thing is just as acceptable, if not more so.

    You might be tempted to say that we don’t know enough about multiverses for them to be scientific, but that would be wrong. Science begins where knowledge ends. That’s always been its nature.

    I’m not sure what your #220 is about.

    sean s.

  222. 222
    StephenB says:

    SB” There is no refrigerator or refrigerator-like component in the definition.

    That was a metaphor. In the context, I don’t think it’s all that mysterious.

    I know it was a metaphor, which is reflected in the words, “refrigerator-like.” No such component is indicated in the definition. The so called multiverse is understood to be solely about time, space, matter etc. Nothing else. If you will not concede that, then there is no point in going any further.

    SB: The fact remains that it is logically impossible for a multiverse (or a universe), which is made up of time, spaced, matter etc. to perform a creative act. A natural law is not flexible and cannot perform a creative act. It can only do what it does repeatedly.

    The fact remains that you have yet to lay out the logical argument to support those assertions. Your claim that a multiverse must be composed of the same stuff as our universe is a distinct assertion in need of its own logical support.

    My argument is backed up by Wikipedia’s definition, which supports my claim. Can you show me another definition that would suggest your “refrigerator-like” element which houses the eggs (universes)? If not, then that should settle the matter.

    Meanwhile, the self-evident principle stands. Time cannot bring time into existence. It isn’t logically possible.

    You clearly still do not understand multiverse theories. Universes do not reproduce, multiverses create new universes.

    I don’t care what word you use. Call it generation if you like. A cause cannot give to an effect something that it does not have. Time cannot bring time into existence from nothing. Matter cannot bring matter into existence from nothing. Natures laws cannot bring natural laws into existence. By extension a universe, which is made of of time, matter, and laws (and other things) cannot bring time, matter, and laws into existence.

    Multiverses are provisionally regarded as eternal;

    Provisionally? You have to make up your mind on that. Tell me whether you are claiming that an eternal or a temporal multiverse can create a universe. Then I will tell you why it cannot be in either case. As it is, you keep saying that no one knows what a multiverse is, or whether it is temporal or eternal, nevertheless, it can create other universes that may or may not consist of matter, time, and space. It is a hopeless argument.

    it’s much too soon to fret about where they come from. There’s no need yet to explain where they came from because we don’t know enough about them to say they ever had a beginning.

    It is absolutely essential to know where they come from, or if they have always existed, in which case we need to know what sustains them–or if they even exist. As it is, you have no reason to believe that any such thing exists, and neither does anyone else.

    If you are willing to posit an eternal ,intelligence, an eternal mindless thing is just as acceptable, if not more so.

    On the contrary, I can explain why a necessary, timeless, eternal being can choose to create or not create. A timeless multiverse cannot make such a decision and cannot, therefore, perform a creative act. Only someone with the power to choose can perform a creative act. Nature cannot do that, which means that a multiverse cannot do it. As it is, you haven’t even committed to an eternal multiverse. Are you ready to make that commitment now? If not, then you don’t even have the beginning of an argument.

    You might be tempted to say that we don’t know enough about multiverses for them to be scientific, but that would be wrong. Science begins where knowledge ends. That’s always been its nature.

    Science has produced not one shred of evidence to suggest that a multiverse exists–or could exist. It is a complete fantasy with no rational support.

  223. 223
    sean samis says:

    StephenB;

    If I had known that a simple metaphor would confuse you so much, I would have done it differently.

    Clearly you don’t understand metaphors.

    Because multiverses would contain universes (composed of time, space and matter/energy) you claim that a multiverse would be just more time, space, and matter/energy.

    If your logic is correct then, a refrigerator containing eggs must itself be an egg and be composed of the same kinds of things as an egg.

    We know that is false, therefore your logic is false.

    And we know that a multiverse containing universes is not required to be composed of the same things as those universes. This is not to say we know multiverses exist, but we do know that if they exist, they are not required to be composed of the same things as the universes they contain.

    Containers (refrigerators or multiverses) can contain different things. A refrigerator can contain eggs, meat, vegetables, milk and other liquids in cans and/or bottles.

    Multiverses were first proposed not as a place to contain universes, but a place where universes are created. That is the origin of the idea; that’s history.

    Therefore, multiverses would contain different things; universes and whatever objects or phenomena create universes. Since these creative phenomena are not themselves universes, we do not know yet what they would be.

    So, your persistent objections that a universe cannot create another universe are refuted simply because that’s not what these theories claim, and that’s not all there must be to multiverses.

    Regardless of what Wikipedia claims, this statement is false:

    The so called multiverse is understood to be solely about time, space, matter etc. Nothing else.

    I don’t concede that because it is just wrong. If all there was to a multiverse was “time, space, matter etc. Nothing else” then multiverse theories would have no purpose. But they do: they exist in an effort to explain where our universe came from; to explain the how, not just the where.

    Regarding;

    It is absolutely essential to know where they [multiverses] come from, or if they have always existed, in which case we need to know what sustains them–or if they even exist. As it is, you have no reason to believe that any such thing exists, and neither does anyone else.

    No.

    It is absolutely essential to learn whether multiverses exist, to learn whether they have always existed, or to learn where they came from if they were created, and so forth. But it is NOT essential to know this stuff BEFORE WE CAN STUDY THEM.

    By your logic, it would be absolutely essential to be a mathematician BEFORE you start elementary mathematics.

    The whole point of science is to study the unknown.

    Having proposed the existence of multiverse, scientists must study the idea, learn what they can about the idea, and find what evidence there may be.

    Science has produced not one shred of evidence to suggest that a multiverse exists–or could exist. It is a complete fantasy with no rational support.

    And so you, of course, would like scientists to stop before they do find something, correct?

    I mean, what could be worse for you than them actually finding evidence? So you (and other creationists) insist they don’t look.

    Regarding;

    I can explain why a necessary, timeless, eternal being can choose to create or not create.

    Anyone can do that. I could do that in kindergarten.

    What you cannot do is explain why a timeless, eternal being is necessary. … or even probable.

    sean s.

  224. 224
    sean samis says:

    Let me clarify something about my last point in #223.

    The noun being is a bit of a weasel-word.

    Some writers use the term to mean anything that exists; in this sense, a stone is a being.

    In this sense, some timeless, eternal being is necessary; but remember that this being could be a mindless object or phenomena; as mindless as a stone.

    Such a mindless, timeless, eternal, necessary being cannot make choices.

    Some writers use the term to mean something that exists and has the attributes of mind: wants, intention, and especially free will; in this sense, a stone is not a being.

    StephenB used the word in this second, latter sense, asserting that he could

    explain why a necessary, timeless, eternal being can choose to create or not create.

    Emphasis added.

    So, to clarify my last challenge to StephenB in #223:

    he cannot explain why a timeless, necessary, eternal being must have the ability to make choices. … or even probably can.

    sean s.

  225. 225
    Querius says:

    Sean Samis notes

    For those of us on the outside of religion; it seems thus. Even among Christians there is wild disagreement about what the deity did or expects. Throw in the rest of the Abrahamic tradition (various kinds of Jews and Muslims) and the variation grow greatly. Throw in the Hindu and Eastern religions; it just gets worse. None of these accounts are credible.

    Additionally, there seems to be a fair amount of disagreement, wildly divergent opinions in fact, about my attempts at humor. None of these are credible to someone who HASN’T MET ME.

    So, obviously to some, I don’t exist.

    -Q’

  226. 226
    sean samis says:

    Querius:

    … there seems to be a fair amount of disagreement, wildly divergent opinions in fact, about my attempts at humor. None of these are credible to someone who HASN’T MET ME.

    So, obviously to some, I don’t exist.

    Incorrect.

    Disagreements about your “attempts at humor” make it reasonable to conclude that your sense of humor is in doubt except for those who’ve met you.

    sean s.

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