Intelligent Design

On the Magical Thinking Inherent in the New Atheism

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Our atheist friends delight in preening over their rejection of the “irrational” and “magic.”  Not so writes David Bentley Hart:

All of which is to say (to return to where I began) that it is absurd to think that one can profess atheism in any meaningful way without thereby assenting to an entire philosophy of being, however inchoate one’s sense of it may be. The philosophical naturalist’s view of reality is not one that merely fails to find some particular object within the world that the theist imagines can be descried there; it is a very particular representation of the nature of things, entailing a vast range of purely metaphysical commitments.

Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.

97 Replies to “On the Magical Thinking Inherent in the New Atheism

  1. 1

    Of course, this is all true. But most a/mats are not honest enough to admit it.

  2. 2
    asauber says:

    Not only will they not admit it, we get to read them quoting from juvenile sci-fi novels.

    Andrew

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    I like sci-fi.

  4. 4
    john_a_designer says:

    If I ever start my own blog (I’ve given the idea some serious thought) I would have a few basic guidelines. One of them would be that honest questions deserve honest answers. Another would be that valid arguments rest on non-fallacious reasoning and factually true or at least plausibly true premises. These are two thing I find virtually non-existent on the part of our atheist interlocutors here. I don’t see how you can have a meaningful or worthwhile discussion without one the other or both.

    Have you noticed how our interlocutors hardly ever answer some basic questions?

    For example, recently on another thread I asked a set of very basic questions which so far have gone unanswered:

    How did the universe originate from absolute nothing?

    Why does the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life, including advanced intelligent life?

    How did life originate from non-life?

    How did chemistry “create”** code? (Like DNA and RNA.)

    How did a non-teleological process, like Darwinian evolution, “create” things that are clearly teleological?

    How did consciousness and mind originate from mindless matter and a mindless process?

    To answer any of these questions naturalistically, as far as I can see, requires the belief in what amounts to be a set of “naturalistic miracles.” How is a naturalistic miracle not an extraordinary [or “magical”] claim?

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/neurosurgeon-michael-egnor-why-need-we-pretend-that-the-universe-has-no-purpose/#comment-637966

    In other words, as an honest skeptic, (theists can be skeptics too) why would I think a naturalist/materialist has a reasonable or viable world view if he cannot answer these questions?

    Just being against ID, pretension and posturing, obstructing and obfuscating are not reasons or argument to believe that naturalism/materialism are true.

  5. 5

    jad @ 4: Great questions. Maybe the always present a/mat, rvb8, will answer them for us. He will likely say “I don’t know,” and then with the next breath categorically deny the existence of a Supreme Being…as if he knows. Smile.

  6. 6
    ichisan says:

    Atheism has always been a magic cult. Atheists believe in all sorts of impossible (i.e., magical) occurrences without evidence.

  7. 7
    ronvanwegen says:

    john_a_designer: Thinking of starting a blog are you? Here, let me give you a taste of what that will be like; “Shut-up you racist bigot”. There, welcome to the blog world!

  8. 8
    Seversky says:

    Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

    I am disappointed. I expected something better than this from someone of Hart’s reputation.

    Atheism is, at its simplest, a lack of belief in a given god or gods. It does not necessarily entail a belief in a naturalistic cause for the Universe. Speaking as an atheist, I am happy to concede that I have no idea what caused the Universe to come into existence and neither does anyone else as far as I can tell. I suspect many atheists would agree with me. Where we do all agree, however, is in holding that the various arguments and evidences offered in support of the existence of various gods are unpersuasive.

    The Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote:

    In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence

    We observe an ordered Universe, even if we currently have no adequate explanation for the source of that order. By trial and error we have developed a few explanations for parts of that order based on naturalistic assumptions which work very well, at least up to a point. As I’ve noted before, practically all of the technology we take for granted, such as the computers we are using or our ability to send spacecraft to distant planets, are all founded on the naturalistic theories of scientists such as Newton, Maxwell and Einstein. Taking Hume’s advice, it would be irrational not to believe in the power of naturalistic explanations given their success rate so far.

    What Hart does not address, at least not in the passages quoted in the OP, is that the same arguments he raises against belief in naturalistic explanations can also be urged against theistic ones. Is there any reason to believe in an eternal God other than the philosophical necessity of such an entity to account for our contingent Universe if we are to avoid an infinite regress of cause and effect? The Christian God is usually regarded as a conscious, intelligent being whatever His other properties. The only conscious, intelligent beings of which we have any knowledge are ourselves but we are far from being omniscient or eternal. So, while we cannot exclude God as a possibility, given the vastly greater evidence for the explanatory power of naturalism, which is the more rational belief?

    It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.

    As an atheist, I repeat that I regard the problem of origins as an open question. It is both honest and rational to say “I don’t know”. What we can ask is this: if the Universe was created by God and it was not a natural process then what is divine Creation other than “…an original moment of magic…”? So tell me who is indulging in magical beliefs?

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    What we can ask is this: if the Universe was created by God and it was not a natural process then what is divine Creation other than “…an original moment of magic…”?

    Clarke’s 3 Laws:

    #3- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    What appears as magic is just an event that is beyond our (current) comprehension. And that is just another reason why IS focuses on the Intelligent DESIGN.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Devil’s Advocate-

    How did the universe originate from absolute nothing?

    The singularity wasn’t “nothing”.

    Why does the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life, including advanced intelligent life?

    Yeah, it’s so “fine-tuned” that we are the only inhabitants (that we know of).

  11. 11
    mike1962 says:

    Seversky: What we can ask is this: if the Universe was created by God and it was not a natural process then what is divine Creation other than “…an original moment of magic…”?

    Well, it is magic in the sense that whatever is responsible for the universe is utterly and completely beyond human reason. It is “other.” Your imagination and intellectual processes are of no value in this question. You are hereby humbled. Get used to it. Period. If you want to call that magic, I won’t object.

  12. 12
    Belfast says:

    @seversky,
    You define an atheist as part atheist, part agnostic.
    That aside,
    You do not believe in the existence of God,
    Why not?

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    Let’s fisk Sev.

    Atheism is, at its simplest, a lack of belief in a given god or gods. It does not necessarily entail a belief in a naturalistic cause for the Universe.

    Of course not. A “naturalistic” cause of nature is incoherent. The atheist is left exactly where Hart says he is: Positing an infinite regress of contingent being causing contingent being. Another word for that: magic.

    Speaking as an atheist, I am happy to concede that I have no idea what caused the Universe to come into existence and neither does anyone else as far as I can tell. I suspect many atheists would agree with me.

    Yes, you are correct. Most atheists stick their head in the sand to avoid the conclusions compelled by their premises, just as Hart says.

    Where we do all agree, however, is in holding that the various arguments and evidences offered in support of the existence of various gods are unpersuasive.

    So you did not actually follow the link. If you had, you would have found that Hart disposes of the “various gods” canard with ease. How deeply uncurious of you.

    naturalistic theories of scientists such as Newton, Maxwell and Einstein.

    Ah, two deeply committed Christians and a pantheist in the manner of Spinoza.

    Is there any reason to believe in an eternal God other than the philosophical necessity of such an entity to account for our contingent Universe if we are to avoid an infinite regress of cause and effect

    Yes, there are numerous reasons to believe in God. But the one you mention is independently sufficient – unless you want to go on with your magical thinking.

    given the vastly greater evidence for the explanatory power of naturalism, which is the more rational belief?

    Sorry Sev. Just ignoring Hart’s argument does not meet it. Naturalism, by definition, cannot explain nature. Far from being supported by greater evidence as a cause of nature, it is not supported – and can never be supported – by any evidence whatsoever.

    As an atheist, I repeat that I regard the problem of origins as an open question.

    I will translate from atheist speak: I have no answer to Hart. I will stick my head in the sand.

    It is both honest and rational to say “I don’t know”.

    Unless you do know. And you, along with everyone else, know that nature cannot explain nature.

    what is divine Creation other than “…an original moment of magic

    Nothing whatsoever. When the necessary being created contingent nature, it was a completely supernatural event. You can call that magic if you want and I won’t argue with you. The difference does not lie in whether magic was involved. The difference lies in the nature of the magic invoked.

    Nature was created by something beyond itself. That is a rational position to hold. “Nature created itself” or “infinite regress of contingent beings” are both deeply irrational. The difference is not whether one side invokes magic or not. Both surely do. The difference is that atheist magic is a “square circle” logically impossible sort of magic. And for that very reason most atheists do exactly what you’ve done in this thread when confronted with their belief – they stick their head in the sand. Contrast the logically incoherent conclusions compelled by your premises (no matter how much you run from them chanting “I don’t know! I don’t know!”) with the perfectly logical – indeed inescapable – conclusion that since nature cannot account for itself, something beyond nature must be posited to account for it.

  14. 14
    john_a_designer says:

    ronvanwegen @ 7

    john_a_designer: Thinking of starting a blog are you? Here, let me give you a taste of what that will be like; “Shut-up you racist bigot”. There, welcome to the blog world!

    The way major Web services like Google are doubling down on political correctness even a false accusation like that will be enough, in the not too distant future, to get someone like me blocked or banned from the internet. Welcome, to 1984. Big Brother is watching you.

  15. 15
    ichisan says:

    @ET:

    What appears as magic is just an event that is beyond our (current) comprehension. And that is just another reason why IS focuses on the Intelligent DESIGN.

    Well said. A creator God is not magic. The supernatural is even more natural than the physical universe because it precedes the universe and created it.

  16. 16
    ichisan says:

    Seversky:

    Speaking as an atheist, I am happy to concede that I have no idea what caused the Universe to come into existence and neither does anyone else as far as I can tell.

    Well, I have an idea and so do a few other thinkers, day dreamers and philosophers.

    We live in a Yin-Yang reality. That is, reality consists of two opposite or complementary sides or realms, if you wish. On the one hand, there is the physical realm which consists of entities that can be created and destroyed (from nothing). On the other hand, there is the spiritual or creator realm which consists of entities that can neither be destroyed nor created. The spiritual entities just are. They consist of abstract (non-physical) ideas like order, disorder, beauty, ugliness, consciousness, colors, pain, pleasure, distance, etc.

    The spiritual entities are not intelligent of themselves but can create myriads of ordered physical entities. Over deep time, they can create all sorts of material particles, systems of particles, brains, universes, etc. I personally believe that the Gods created themselves, i.e., their bodies, over eons of trial and error. It was not a random but orderly search. They eventually became so powerful and advanced as to appear as infinitely powerful beings to us when we look at the size and complexity of the universe.

  17. 17
    john_a_designer says:

    mike1962 @ 11,

    Well, it is magic in the sense that whatever is responsible for the universe is utterly and completely beyond human reason. It is “other.” Your imagination and intellectual processes are of no value in this question. You are hereby humbled. Get used to it. Period. If you want to call that magic, I won’t object.

    I disagree. Theists do not believe in magic.

    William Lane Craig defines magic as the belief that something can come into existence without a cause. Classical theism on the other posits an eternally existing transcendent mind as the cause of every contingent thing which exists, including the universe. So again, we do not believe that the universe came into existence by “magic,” there was a cause.

    The very first part of the following video illustrates what Craig defines by miracle.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CulBuMCLg0&list=PL3gdeV4Rk9EfL-NyraEGXXwSjDNeMaRoX&index=1

  18. 18
    rvb8 says:

    j_a_d @4,

    In answer to your first question I say, ‘How did God originate from absolute nothig?’

    I know He said, ‘I am that I am’, but meaningless tautology only satisfies the credulous.

    Your second question begs the retort, ‘couldn’t God have ‘fine tuned’ it a little better? Such flagrant waste of space, and raw materials.’

    Your third question seems to forget that upon our deaths we go back to the ‘non-life’ molecules that created, (heh:) us. The faxt that we know our ‘ingredients’, and where those ‘ingredients’ originated, (stars), suggests atheists understand this question far better than the religious.

    Your nest two questions are similar and I will answer both at once; the science and research is on going, the results are amazing, and the science is wonderful. As IDers sit baxk and twiddle their thumbs at the jaw dropping complexity of life, scientists are busily unravelling this complexity and reaching amazing conclusions; nowhere in their research is ‘supernaturalism’ even vaguely thought of as a process worhty of investigation. That is because, and I can’t stress this enough, SUPERNATURALISM, IS, UNTESTIBLE BECAUSE IT IS BY DEFINITION BEYOND NATURE!

    You conclude with your own silly invention, ‘naturalist miracles’ Ah-huh; try understanding the word ‘oxymoron’, and that takes care of that.

  19. 19
    ichisan says:

    rvb8: I know He said, ‘I am that I am’, but meaningless tautology only satisfies the credulous.

    I knew it. rvb8 is a demon just as I thought. LOL.

  20. 20
    rvb8 says:

    ichisan @19,

    I’m not a demon as I place demons in the same category as God; divine, above nature, non-corporeal.

    Because I don’t accept anything can exist beyond the ‘natural’ universe then ‘demons’ also fall into the fictional world of the supernatural.

    Also, I like puppies.:)

  21. 21
    Florabama says:

    Excellent Barry Arrington! Sev and other atheists believe in a magic circle. “I believe in nature as the cause of nature.” Cue Elton John: Can you feel the love tonight? https://youtu.be/Y1hcc1QvM2Q

  22. 22
    EricMH says:

    Arrington’s point is well put, but Sev’s point is dealing with our confidence in the things we know based on how we know them. Naturalistic conclusions from physics etc. have an extremely high degree of certainty, because we can empirically test the conclusion.

    Philosophical arguments dealing with the problem of infinite regress have a lower sense of certainty, at least in the mind of many, because while the argument sounds pretty good it seems there could be a mistake in the logic that someone has not identified yet.

    As an example, for a long time people believed in the ether because it made sense that there must be an absolute frame of reference. Now we know the theory of ether is false through empirical tests. Likewise the infinite regress argument makes a lot of sense, but without some kind of empirical confirmation the argument sits in the grey area of plausible sounding but possibly false like ether.

    Based on the greater degree of uncertainty, people can either choose to accept the argument because it’s easy to articulate and no alternative is forthcoming, or they can hold out for some kind of empirical component to increase the level of certainty as the atheists like Sev do. If there is no empirical aspect to the argument, then someone like Sev with a higher certainty threshold will fail to be convinced, and he’ll extend the fact the argument cannot convince him to the whole scheme of such philosophical arguments that lack empiricism. This scheme tends to encompass the traditional arguments for God, soul, after life and various supernatural entities.

    So, if Arrington responds that Sev must accept an incomprehensible worldview if he denies God, Sev simply responds he does not know those are the only two alternatives due to lack of empirical data to discriminate either way.

    This is the more general problem that ID faces that tends to place it in the philosophy camp instead of the science camp. ID needs to back up its claims with clear empirical theories and models to move out of being potentially another ether type theory that sounds plausible but could possibly be empirically falsified down the road.

  23. 23

    This is the reason I tend to think many people are non-sentient biological automatons.

    Seversky might as well have just responded with, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” That’s really the short version. rvb8 offers one of the most insipid lines of circular “argument” ever, appropriately using all caps (I imagine his fingers in his ears as he repeats the following loudly):

    That is because, and I can’t stress this enough, SUPERNATURALISM, IS, UNTESTIBLE BECAUSE IT IS BY DEFINITION BEYOND NATURE!

    He fails to see the circular, ideological self-protection embedded in that statement. He is oblivious to it. Why would things “beyond nature” be “untestable”, especially when most people that believe in supernatural commodities hold that humans hold within us, as part of us, correlated and connected supernatural commodities? Surely we can test the spiritual by using our own spiritual abilities and senses?

    “Untestable” by what? One would assume rvb8 is talking about science, but science has tested supernatural commodities for centuries – gravity, entropy, inertia, electromagnetism, etc., and more recently various features of quantum physics. Creating a model of how a supernatural commodity affects the physical universe and giving it a name that doesn’t sound supernatural doesn’t make whatever is causing the effect natural.

    Logically, that which causes the framework of behaviors and interactive patterns we define as “the natural world” cannot itself be part of that natural world – that would mean that something is causing itself to happen. Mr. Arrington has pointed this out – whatever is causing the behavioral patterns we collectively call “nature” is not itself part of nature.

    Perhaps what rvb8 means is that a methodology (materialist science) which refuses to recognize the supernatural cannot test for the supernatural. I guess in a strict semantic sense that would be correct. However, it’s still just sticking your head in the sand to ignore what is staring you in the face both evidentially and logically; something is causing what we call “nature”. Nature is not causing itself. Therefore, the supernatural exists.

    Until one can come to terms with the fact that the supernatural (non-contingent) must>/i> exist in order for the natural world of contingent things and events to exist, they will always have a worldview based on denial.

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    What we can ask is this: if the Universe was created by God and it was not a natural process then what is divine Creation other than “…an original moment of magic…”? So tell me who is indulging in magical beliefs?

    We know what causes magic, so I don’t mind someone accusing me of believing in magic.

  25. 25
    asauber says:

    BY DEFINITION BEYOND NATURE

    NATURE DOESNT HAVE A SCIENTIFIC DEFINITION

    Andrew

  26. 26
    Charles says:

    Seversky @ 8:

    Is there any reason to believe in an eternal God other than the philosophical necessity of such an entity to account for our contingent Universe if we are to avoid an infinite regress of cause and effect? The Christian God is usually regarded as a conscious, intelligent being whatever His other properties. The only conscious, intelligent beings of which we have any knowledge are ourselves but we are far from being omniscient or eternal. So, while we cannot exclude God as a possibility, given the vastly greater evidence for the explanatory power of naturalism, which is the more rational belief?

    And here: https://uncommondescent.com/atheism/fft-charles-unmasks-the-anti-id-trollish-tactic-of-attacking-god-christian-values-and-worldview-themes/#comment-629889 when confronted with evidence for God that Seversky can not disprove, Seversky whines that as an atheist he will criticize and examine evidence, and yet all Seversky does is criticize.

    When confronted with the proof that his “hoax” theory is without merit or evidence, Seversky admits he doubts his own theory, but doubles down and persists in the very theory he doubts, he can not prove, and which theory is regardless entirely irrelevant to the demonstrated proof of God’s existence.

    Seversky examines neither what he criticizes nor his own credulity, and goes radio silent thereafter when confronted with his hypocrisy.

    The unexamined, self-doubted, irrational belief is all Seversky’s. The philosophical necessity of unproven magical naturalism is all Severky’s.

    Who holds the more rational belief???

  27. 27
    critical rationalist says:

    I would agree that the issue is philosophical in nature, but not exactly new. The problems with justificationism are well known and have been for some time. IOW, theism is a specific example of justificationsm, which is irrational as, say, empiricism, which just exchanges one infallible source of knowledge, God, for another, human experience.

    The response is to give up the quest for justification, because it’s impossible.

    To quote Popper…

    “I propose to assume … that all ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times. …there are all kinds of sources of our knowledge; but none has authority… I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: “How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?”

    What we want from theories are their content, not their providence. (And no, that’s not a typo)

    Basic beliefs are just beliefs for which we currently have no good criticisms. And there are good criticisms of the God described by Hart.

    Seems to me that either God is a complex, knowledge laden entity which itself meets the criteria of needing to be explained via a designer (so you’ve just pushed the problem up a level without actually improving it) or you’re advocating the spontaneous creation of knowledge. Neither of which seem “rational” response.

    Or perhaps there is some third option you’ve like to present?

    In contrast, Neo-Darwinism is the theory that the knowledge of how to build organisms was genuinely created via variation and criticism. For all we know, earth could have been the very first place in which that knowledge appeared. So, there is no infinite regress in respect to the knowledge found in the genome of organisms.

    This is why I keep saying that creationism is actually creation denial, as it denies that creation actually took place. But don’t take my word for it. Your own answers to following questions should suffice.

    Q: Would you say that God knows what transformations of matter are necessary to build any organism that has, does and could exist?

    Q: Has God always possessed this knowledge?

    Q: Has God aways existed?

    If you answer “Yes” to all of these questions, you deny that the instructions of which transformations of matter cells use to build copies of themselves is genuinely new. It always existed.

    It’s the same sort of bad explanation for that knowledge as the following: if God created the universe at the precise moment that Einstein, or any other great scientist appeared to have completed their major discovery, the actual creator of that discovery would not have been that scientist, but God. So, such a theory would deny the only creation that actually did take place.

    Both are represent creation denial.

    So, in respect to the biosphere, creationism’s explanation for that knowledge is supernatural. ID’s explanation for that knowledge is absent. And, In the case of inductivism, the explanation for the growth of knowledge is irrational.

    Furthermore, as I’ve pointed out to UB, information exists in a storage medium. We have no definition of non-material information for which a non-material designer could possess. Copying information to a storage medium requires a reversible computation, which means there is a material source. So it’s unclear how a non-complex, non-material designer copied that information into the genomes of organisms it created. It would be as if Microsoft Word spontaneously appeared on a USB thumb drive when it came of the manufacturing line.

    Again, this would be the spontaneous generation of knowledge. Is this rational?

    And, even if Hart’s God did exist, it doesn’t get you to Yahweh, Jesus, any specific moral knowledge. or anything that actually impacts any decisions that I might make in my day to day life. It could just as well be that Heart’s God will punish you for eternity of saying that two same sex marriages are is immoral.

    So, Heart doesn’t squash the “which God” response because his God is so abstract that it has virtually no consciences. Anything worth considering depends on “which God”, including one that finds homosexuality an abomination. The “explanation” that we have order because “That’s just what some designer must want” is a bad explanation. That’s because any such God that actively sustains and gives order, moment by moment, could simply “want” to stop doing so for some good reason we cannot understand.

    IOW, Heart’s God might be true, but I find it inconsequential. It doesn’t solve the problem it purports to solve. And it’s a bad explanation. So I discard it.

  28. 28
    Barry Arrington says:

    Time to fisk CR:

    The response is to give up the quest for justification, because it’s impossible.

    God help us. I assume that, like the rest of us, CR looks both ways when he crosses the street. Why does he bother? What could possibly justify any conclusion that the way is clear? I agree that if the goal is justification in an absolute sense, the goal is unattainable. But that is not the goal. CR’s criticism here is a straw man. No one suggested that belief in God is compelled in an absolute sense, including God himself as a perusal of Hebrews 11:6 will reveal.

    So, CR’s fierce beating of the straw man aside, what are we after? We are after the conclusion that is most plausible given reason and evidence. The conclusions “infinite regress of contingent beings” and “self-creation” are not even remotely plausible. CR ignores this not based on reason and evidence, but because it is not consonant with his materialist prejudices.

    Seems to me that either God is a complex, knowledge laden entity which itself meets the criteria of needing to be explained via a designer (so you’ve just pushed the problem up a level without actually improving it) or you’re advocating the spontaneous creation of knowledge. Neither of which seem “rational” response.

    Really? The necessary ground of all contingent being needs to be explained as if it were itself a contingent being? That’s all you’ve got? Sigh.

    In contrast, Neo-Darwinism is the theory that the knowledge of how to build organisms was genuinely created via variation and criticism [blah blah blah about information].

    Fail. We are not talking about biological origins. Did you not think we would notice this? Not going to let you hijack the thread with this digression.

    Furthermore, as I’ve pointed out to UB, information exists in a storage medium. [blah blah blah]

    Fail. We are not talking about information storage. Did you not think we would notice this?Not going to let you hijack the thread with this digression.

    And, even if Hart’s God did exist, it doesn’t get you to Yahweh, Jesus, any specific moral knowledge. or anything that actually impacts any decisions that I might make in my day to day life. It could just as well be that Heart’s God will punish you for eternity of saying that two same sex marriages are is immoral.

    Uh, OK. At least you are kind of tangentially back on topic. Good for you. As to your comment – no one ever said Hart’s argument, by itself, gets you to Yahweh or Jesus. Again, you are attacking a straw man.

    So, Hart doesn’t squash the “which God” response because his God is so abstract that it has virtually no consciences.

    Nonsense. The point of Hart’s argument is that there can be only one God who is defined as infinite actuality, the ground of all being. Therefore, it we are talking about that God, the question “which God” is literally meaningless. Your assertion otherwise is just that, an assertion. If you come up with an actual argument, please feel free to favor us with it.

    Anything worth considering depends on “which God”, including one that finds homosexuality an abomination.

    Another digressive straw man. You may be obsessed with whether the God Hart posits is politically correct on the issue of homosexuality. We are not. Again, if you have an argument that actually addresses the issues, please feel free to jump in here with it at any time.

    The “explanation” that we have order because “That’s just what some designer must want” is a bad explanation. That’s because any such God that actively sustains and gives order, moment by moment, could simply “want” to stop doing so for some good reason we cannot understand.

    Another strawman. Did you even read the OP? We are talking about materialist magical thinking – the idea that nature can explain nature. Hart argues that the materialist must posit an infinite regression or something from nothing, both of which are deeply irrational. Nothing you have written even addresses Hart’s argument, much less defeats it. Fail.

    IOW, Heart’s God might be true, but I find it inconsequential. It doesn’t solve the problem it purports to solve. And it’s a bad explanation. So I discard it.

    And you end with a few materialist grunts. Good for you.

    Let us summarize: After sorting out the straw men and digressions, CR has nothing to say about Hart’s argument except to grunt at it. Sad.

  29. 29

    I’m not sure how CR is answering the question about how he explains the existence of a contingent natural world without referring to a non-contingent source (uncaused cause).

    Did he just completely avoid the question? Did he throw out a bunch of straw man arguments about whether or not God had certain moral traits or was complex or simple? It’s hard to figure out exactly what CR is saying – or even to care about it – because he doesn’t seem to have any justification for anything he says. So, he seems to just be making noise (textually speaking) he hopes will affect others in some unspecified (and unjustifiable) way.

    Weird.

  30. 30
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry at 28: “CR has nothing to say about Hart’s argument except to grunt at it”

    WJM at 29: “So, he seems to just be making noise”

    Now that’s funny.

  31. 31
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    He fails to see the circular, ideological self-protection embedded in that statement. He is oblivious to it.

    What are we protecting ourselves from? Heart’s God is so abstract that it has no consequences. So, why do I feel threatened by it? Furthermore, it’s a bad explanation. So I discard it.

    Why would things “beyond nature” be “untestable”, especially when most people that believe in supernatural commodities hold that humans hold within us, as part of us, correlated and connected supernatural commodities? Surely we can test the spiritual by using our own spiritual abilities and senses?

    Observations and experiences are theory laden. This include any tests which we might perform. For example, you cannot replace a lens in a microscope with a banana and expect to see bacteria. So, the results of that test is based on hard to vary, chain of independently formed explanations about how microscopes work, such as optics, geometry, neurology, etc. We accept the results only when they are necessarily setup in such a way that would obtain valid results.

    However, the supernatural is inexplicable by definition. To suggest otherwise is to have is something merely unseen or unknown. As such, any such test one might propose is a bad explanation for the result. This is because the results are only related to the cause directly by the claim itself. There is no necessary means by which any such result would be obtained. Nor is there any way to distinguish such a result from your own beliefs.

    You cannot easily vary the explanation for how a microscope works. It’s a hard to vary explanation for the phenomena in question. It cannot be easily varied without significantly reducing it’s ability to explain the phenomena in question, such as placing the sample above the lens, instead of below it, or replacing them lens with a penny, etc. But, in the case of the supernatural, you get results because “some supernatural being wanted it that way”, which is shallow and easily varied.

    Again, this is not to say that bad explanations might be true. But it would be very difficult to explain our relatively recent ability to make progress by preferring long chains of independently formed, hard to vary explanations about how the world works.

    See this TED talk for a more expanded version of this argument.

    Until one can come to terms with the fact that the supernatural (non-contingent) must>/i> exist in order for the natural world of contingent things and events to exist, they will always have a worldview based on denial.

    An inexplicable realm is indistinguishable from one with capricious ad-hoc magic, by very definition. No explanation about this supposed realm outside of our bubble of explicability can be better than “Zeus rules” there or basically anything else you might concoct.

    Furthermore, since you claim this inexplicable realm actually effects or is the foundation for the inside of this bubble (otherwise, we might as well do without it) the inside isn’t actually explicable either. It would only seem that way if we carefully refrain from asking specific questions.

    So, this inexplicable realm is a bad explanation, which I discard. “I don’t know” is a perfectly reasonable response.

  32. 32
    john_a_designer says:

    So I am not the only one here who thinks that CR’s posts are vacuous? That’s a relief. I thought his thinking and writing might be way over my head– well okay, not really. Sorry to be impolite and sarcastic but sometimes it’s just impossible not to be.

  33. 33
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR:

    Hart’s God is so abstract that it has no consequences.

    Well, there is that whole “create the universe” thing. Some would call that consequential.

    CR apparently has an enormously high threshold for “consequential.”

    CR, I really in all seriousness invite you to respond to Hart’s argument. You have not so far, but I would really like to hear what you would have to say if, for once, you could leave all of your materialist grunting at the door.

  34. 34

    CR said:

    Furthermore, it’s a bad explanation. So I discard it.

    Do you really not realize that everything you write is written in a syntax that presupposes justificationism? “Bad explanation”? We would all have to agree on some sort of assumed, arbiting basis for such a judgement to carry any interpersonal weight other than pure rhetoric. You rely on accessing the very thing you deny as valid (justificationism) in order for the terms you use, and how you arrange them, to carry any weight.

    Sort of like how atheists rely upon magic for their worldview even while denying it exists, and say things and make arguments as if the magic of supernatural free will exists, even while denying it does.

    You’re just another biological automaton spitting out nonsense as if it had the capacity for reason.

  35. 35
    ichisan says:

    rvb8 @20:

    I’m not a demon as I place demons in the same category as God; divine, above nature, non-corporeal.

    Because I don’t accept anything can exist beyond the ‘natural’ universe then ‘demons’ also fall into the fictional world of the supernatural.

    All demons love to talk about the natural universe even though they have no clue what that universe really is. What you see is not all there is. Whoever created the physical universe is more natural than the universe. The beauty and order of the universe are not physical properties. They are abstract or spiritual properties.

  36. 36
    ichisan says:

    CR @27:

    Seems to me that either God is a complex, knowledge laden entity which itself meets the criteria of needing to be explained via a designer (so you’ve just pushed the problem up a level without actually improving it) or you’re advocating the spontaneous creation of knowledge. Neither of which seem “rational” response.

    I think this is actually a perfectly valid objection to the usual theistic argument for creation. And I say this as a theist. This is the sort of objections that theists should seriously contemplate and resolve. We should ask ourselves, if God created everything, who created God? We can’t just dismiss the problem by saying that God is “transcendental” and act as if we have a valid explanation. The word “transcendental” is excruciatingly unsatisfactory. It reminds me of the word “virtual” which physicists love to use to poof away nasty problems that they cannot solve.

    Or perhaps there is some third option you’ve like to present?

    Yes there is. I explained it in comment 16 above. It is not an explanation that most Christians will like because Christians normally repeat the same talking points they have traditionally been taught. But not all Christians are the same. Not all of us believe in an all-knowing, infinitely powerful creator. Some of us believe what the scriptures say and that when they refer to the creator Yahweh Elohim (literally, the Lords Yahweh) as the “ancient of days”, it means exactly what it says. It means that, if Yahweh can be ancient, he/they must have been young at one point. IOW, Yahweh had a beginning, that is, his/their body must have had a beginning.

  37. 37
    mike1962 says:

    JAD William Lane Craig defines magic as the belief that something can come into existence without a cause.

    I was making an ironical theoretical, and slightly sarcastic, flourish at the end of my point. I don’t think “magic” is a useful term.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    Pausing a moment. The root issue is the logic of being — and logic tests all sorts of things, natural and beyond natural. Scientism is inherently incoherent as a philosophical claim that undermines all phil claims.

    Back on point, were there ever utter non-being (a genuine nothing) as such has no causal powers, it would forever obtain. So, that a world is entails that SOMETHING always was, something that is a necessary being, world root. The issue is, what. As a simple illustration no world is possible without distinct identity so also two-ness.

    To posit infinite regress of something like the current order raises many utter implausibilities about traversing a transfinite causal succession. A beginning of this order is plausible by contrast. But, not a beginning from utter non-being. So the issue is what is a reasonable, necessary being world root. This, being further conditioned by our existence as a class of morally governed creatures. Even our reasoning is morally governed towards truth and right on pain of becoming just another delusion and means of manipulation.

    That is part of the context on which I have put it on the table that the only serious candidate necessary being to fill that bill — requiring fusing IS and OUGHT in the world root — is the inherently good creator God, a necessary, maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing good in accord with our nature.

    That is the context for this in the FT article:

    In the words of the great Swami Prabhavananda, only the one transcendent God is “the uncreated”: “Gods, though supernatural, belong . . . among the creatures. Like the Christian angels, they are much nearer to man than to God.”

    This should not be a particularly difficult distinction to grasp, truth be told. To speak of “God” properly—in a way, that is, consonant with the teachings of orthodox Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Bahá’í, much of antique paganism, and so forth—is to speak of the one infinite ground of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things.

    God so understood is neither some particular thing posed over against the created universe, in addition to it, nor is he the universe itself. He is not a being, at least not in the way that a tree, a clock, or a god is; he is not one more object in the inventory of things that are. He is the infinite wellspring of all that is, in whom all things live and move and have their being. He may be said to be “beyond being,” if by “being” one means the totality of finite things, but also may be called “being itself,” in that he is the inexhaustible source of all reality, the absolute upon which the contingent is always utterly dependent, the unity underlying all things.

    To speak of “gods,” by contrast, is to speak only of a higher or more powerful or more splendid dimension of immanent reality. Any gods who might be out there do not transcend nature but belong to it.

    And BTW, those denying God must either show good cause that he is not a serious candidate necessary being (and remember reasoning is morally governed) or else show that God is as impossible as a square circle is. A tough row to hoe. But that’s so once we have a serious candidate NB, as if possible then actual. For NB’s are framework to worlds existing — try to imagine a world without distinct identity.

    NB’s of course, are necessarily eternal, without beginning or end. They cannot be destroyed.

    And, more.

    KF

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    The point of Hart’s argument is that there can be only one God who is defined as infinite actuality, the ground of all being.

    Aquinas 101.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Just to give perspective, maybe the best definition of Math I learned is, the [study of the] logic of structure and quantity. That logic pivots on coherence, e.g. the use of reductio arguments in proofs. The notion that only observed concrete entities and empirical tests may be admitted in our world of thought is deeply flawed. KF

    PS: As noted, things like distinct identity thus two-ness (so at least some numbers) are necessary beings. To overcome prejudice or intuitive doubts regarding NB’s try to imagine a world without distinct identity, A vs NOT-A, thus two-ness. Such did not begin, cannot cease, is framework for any world to exist. NB’s are real.

  41. 41
    Barry Arrington says:

    Critical Rationalist,

    I have a question for you. What, exactly, is the point of coming into this thread and dropping comments into the combox without ever actually addressing the argument raised in the OP? It seems pointless to me.

  42. 42
    critical rationalist says:

    @BA and WJM

    Let me back up a bit, as WJM seems to be confused about my earlier comment.

    We start out with a problem: our sense input seems to suggest an external physical world exists. (There are alternative interpretations of our experience that suggest otherwise, but they too are bad explanations, which we all discard)

    Our current, best, universal explanation for the growth of knowledge is some form of variation controlled by criticism. That is, it’s unclear how anyone can infallibly identity an infallible source of knowledge or infallibly interpret it, should one even exist. Nor does the contents of our theories come from observations. Specifically, no one has formulated a principle of indication that works in practice. To do so, they would need a way for it to provide guidance as to which experiences would continue and which would not. (We know things because “that’s just what God must have wanted” is yet another bad explanation, as defined below)

    IOW, we start out knowing our ideas are just guesses. They are not founded on anything and are therefore not justified by in this sense. As such, we expect our theories to contain errors and to be incomplete, to some degree. We take theories seriously, as if they are true in reality, along with the rest of our current best explanations, for the purpose of criticism. For example, I don’t have to believe that Superman actually exists to criticize a claim that a woman who was injured after being shot with conventional rounds of ammunition, while thwarting a bank robbery, was Superman. I just need to take the “theory” of Superman seriously for the purpose of criticizing that claim.

    With that out of the way, one conjectured theory you, and others have presented, is that some non-contingent being “grounds of all contingent being”. However, as I’ve pointed out, the idea that everything needs to be grounded or justified in some way, via some basic belief that is immune to criticism, is a philosophical idea. Nor is it unique to theism. You’re stuck with those to options by nature of being a justificatiiist. So, you’re projecting your problem on me. God is just such a supposedly basic belief that is supposedly immune to criticism by nature of merely being defined as non-contingent.

    Another idea is that the Bing Bang is actually the other side of a black hold or a Big Crunch. However, as indicated above, all of our knowledge contains errors and is incomplete. All of our theories break down under those conditions. For example, since we do not yet have a working theory of quantum gravity, we know that GR, QM or both contain errors or incomplete. So, the universe could have always existed in some form.

    Again, all of these ideas have started out as guesses. We make progress when we criticize our guesses and discard errors we find. A such good explanations consist of long chains of hard to vary, independently formed assertions about how the world works. They cannot be easily modified without significantly reducing their ability to explain the phenomena in question. Theories are not positively justified by this property, but have more ways to be found wrong. Philosophy and science consists of criticizing conjectured ideas. In the case of science, this criticism also take the form of empirical tests. However, theories are tested by observations, not derived from them.

    How can we find the idea that God “causes photons” to be wrong? How would such a universe look different than an eternal universe that collapsed in Big Crunch and exploded in a Big Bang? Why, when faced with an infinite regress, why must I either be irrational or ground reality on some uncaused cause that is supposedly immune from criticism?

    To quote Heart…

    Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

    Either the universe is the way it is merely because “That’s just some an inexplicable mind that exists in an inexplicable realm that operates by inexplicable means and methods, must have wanted” or God had to make the universe a certain way for some reason X, in which reason X explains why the world works the way it does, not God. Either way, adding Heart’s God to the equation adds nothing.

    As such, Heart’s God is inconsequential to the choices I face every day. As such I discard it. “I don’t know” is a perfectly rational response.

    So, apparently, you’re only interested in justifying existence, not explaining it. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t find that particularly valuable or interesting. Again, what I want from theories are their content, not their providence.

    That God cares if I know he exists, is conscious, intelligent, put the knowledge of what transformations are necessary to create organisms etc. is where my criticism of a complex God become relevant. And that’s why I believe in one God less than you. When you take away that last God, you’re left with what is effectively inconsequential.

  43. 43
    mike1962 says:

    critical rationalist And that’s why I believe in one God less than you.

    That’s cute, but did you know that the expression 1 + x = 2 has only a single solution for x? Well, I guess I could believe in one less solution for that, and sound cute. But it is middle school rhetoric.

    But anyway, some of us on this planet have had experiences with something “other.” We know it exists. That you haven’t means you are like a blind man trying to discuss color. You can’t. You don’t have a seat at the table. God help you.

    That’s my take, anyway.

  44. 44
    critical rationalist says:

    @BA

    I have a question for you. What, exactly, is the point of coming into this thread and dropping comments into the combox without ever actually addressing the argument raised in the OP? It seems pointless to me.

    My criticism is that, like most claims here, adding God merely pushes the problem up a level without actually solving it.

    It’s as if you’re in an eating contest with non-thestis and claimed to have won by merely pushing the food around on your plate. However, it’s still staring you in the face.

    I suspect we don’t actually have the same goals.

    You’re concerned with justifng knowledge, to prevent it from changing, because true knowledge comes to us in a pure form from an authoritative source. It’s all down hill from there. Everyone knows the one Truth, because God want’s us to. So we can’t be genuinely mistaken, but only choose to deny and rebel against it. There can be no knowledge without a knowledge giver.

    On the other hand, I’m concerned with criticizing the contents of knowledge, so we can improve it, because it starts out as educated guesses. Knowledge doesn’t come from anywhere and is genuinely created. All of our theories are incomplete and contain errors to some degree. Denying the means to correct errors is immoral.

    Would you say that is fairly accurate? If not, then where did I get it wrong? Please be specific.

    (Note how I’m putting my money where my mouth is by conjecturing your position and inviting you to correct it.)

  45. 45
    Mung says:

    CR:

    My criticism is that, like most claims here, adding God merely pushes the problem up a level without actually solving it.

    Who designed the designer? What caused God? How did God come to exist from nothing?

    Is that what you’re talking about? What problem is it that is being pushed “up a level”?

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, we are dealing with failure to properly address the logic of being in a world in which even our rationality is shot through with moral government. That is how central, how foundational, the IS-OUGHT gap is. (Cf my 38 and 41above.) KF

  47. 47
    rvb8 says:

    Barry @41,

    what is the point of a ‘science’ blog that never introduces new science, or science related topics?

    “On The Magical Thinking Inherent In The New Atheism.”

    Really?

    Judge Jones said ID would be perfectly acceptable as a subject for study in Public Schools, so long as it was confined to the Humanities; Social Studies, History etc.

    This blog would make a lot more sense if it had a title like;

    ‘Uncommon Descent: A Philosophical Journey Through Creation.’

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, again, kindly provide a credibly empirically observed case where functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information (especially text but also that implied by coherent, functional configuration) comes about by blind chance and mechanical necessity. Similarly, kindly show us how intelligence reduces to mechanical configurations originating by such blind chance and necessity, while preserving the credibility of knowing, reasoning and responsibly deciding. Further, kindly show us that scientific inference, theorising and explaining can be implicitly confined to a physicalist, evolutionary materialistic circle without begging questions regarding the goal of science as seeking truth about our world warranted by empirical evidence obtained via observation. And the like. If you look at that seriously, you will see that ID is about a major new issue in science: studying signs of intelligence and where they point regarding the objects, processes and phenomena of our world. Also, that such issues raise questions about ideologies embedded in science and education, the media, policy-making circles and more, requiring an effort to also address underlying worldviews and cultural agenda questions. KF

    PS: Have you been able to acknowledge as yet that many dozens of ID-supporting contributions are now part of the corpus of peer reviewed, scientifically oriented literature? (Your attempt to push ID into “humanities” strongly suggests, no. Even, as it points to your support for self-refuting scientism. FWIW, the notion that “Science” effectively monopolises knowledge is a self-undermining philosophical claim. This illustrates the too often unacknowledged value of philosophical considerations in doing sound science. I suggest that a pondering of Newton, Opticks, Query 31, will do some good. Likewise, the General Scholium to his Principia.)

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, is a necessary being caused? Is there any possibility of a world without distinct identity, thus two-ness? Can utter non-being give rise to anything by exerting causal influence? Were there ever only true nothing, then, would that not forever obtain? Thus, do we not face the futility of proposed transfinite causal sucession to now or else a finitely remote necessary being world root? One, sufficient to account for rational, responsible, morally governed creatures . . . us? Is it then even up to the level of the high achievement, error, to imagine that everything has a cause? (Instead of merely manifesting utter — and too often, willfully insistent — ignorance and failure to understand, acknowledge and respect as significant what is meant when serious thinkers speak of God.) KF

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One aspect of being with distinct identity is that it has characteristics which must all obtain at once of the same thing for it to be that thing. This implies that such must be mutually consistent, thus why a square circle is impossible of being: core characteristics for one half cannot hold while those for the other half also hold. So, a serious candidate being must be internally coherent in its core, defining characteristics. Of such [for all we know] possible beings, we have contingent and necessary beings. The first obtain in at least one but not in all possible worlds, reflecting that they are causally dependent on prior, external, enabling on/off factors, cf a fire and need for heat, fuel, oxidiser as well as a viable chain reaction. necessary beings are tied to the framework for any world to exist and so are present in all worlds, we see two-ness as a case in point. This then leads to the point that a serious candidate necessary being must either be impossible of being or else it will exist in any world. In this context the atheist cannot simply quip about believing in one fewer god-candidate than monotheists, but need to address being, existence of a world and existence of us as rational, responsible, morally governed creatures in it. As God is the most serious candidate necessary being, they also need to show cause as to why they imply that such a being is impossible. And, logic of being is rational evidence. Where also, understanding being, cause etc provide ground work for scientific thought on actual beings, causes, dynamics, etc. This includes that structure and quantity are characteristics of beings, thus we see the relevance of Mathematics and its power in Science and life. Again and again, philosophical considerations are key to understanding and undergirding science. KF

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: One of the consistent patterns we have found over the years is that the errors of evolutionary materialism trace to worldview issues and/or to problems of conception tied to fundamental principles of reasoning. Such are so dominant that it would be irresponsible for this blog’s main contributors not to address such. Accordingly, we reject the sort of framing being imposed by RVB8 et al, that would try to block us from addressing the roots of their many errors.

  52. 52
    Florabama says:

    CR @ 44,

    I’ve read this thread and your posts and have been impressed with your knowledge if not your understanding, and here is where you falter IMHO:

    “Knowledge doesn’t come from anywhere and is genuinely created.”

    I beg to strongly differ. Knowledge is discovered not created. Knowledge, i.e. truth, exists independently of knowledge. It sits there waiting for us to find it. Many examples immediately jump to mind. Did gravity exist before we knew of it? Calculus? Did Newton create knowledge or did he simply reveal it? Truth is transcendent. It exists outside of nature, and therefore; is itself an example of the supernatural. Why is this? Why is there transcendence? Why does truth exist outside of mankind?

  53. 53
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR @ 44. No.

    Hart’s article (I suggest you read the whole thing instead of the snippet in the OP) is a discussion of ontology. You respond with a long-winded digression into epistemology. You seem smart enough to understand the difference between the two; yet you insist on ignoring the discussion on the table so you can ride your personal hobby horse.

    Do you understand that it is difficult to take you seriously when you do that?

  54. 54
    Mung says:

    Mung, we are dealing with failure to properly address the logic of being in a world in which even our rationality is shot through with moral government.

    Oh I fully agree. I have long noted the moral outrage of atheists. LoL.

  55. 55

    CR @ 42 still wants to have his anti-justification cake and eat it, too, then proceeds with self-defeating expositions, such as:

    IOW, we start out knowing our ideas are just guesses. They are not founded on anything and are therefore not justified by in this sense.

    Like the idea you are presenting above? If your idea is not justified, why should it be given any greater weight than any other unjustified guess?

    Let’s look at a preceding bit of CR madness:

    We start out with a problem: our sense input seems to suggest an external physical world exists. (There are alternative interpretations of our experience that suggest otherwise, but they too are bad explanations, which we all discard)

    Not only do you admit to having absolutely no justifiable reason for the claim “which we all discard”, it is factually false in my case.

    Your entire post is full of this kind of nonsene and self-refutation. You continually employ the stolen concept of justificationism, which you deny valid but imply via syntax throughout your post – as if your argument is somehow related to justifiable knowledge you have already dismissed.

    You are making an argument you admit has no justifiable value or mooring.

    I think people like CR dismiss justificationism for the same reason they dismiss god; they deny that there is any final or objective authority or arbiter by which either their lives or their words and beliefs can be measured. One wonders, then, why they bother arguing them if they also claim there is no such objective or final arbiter.

    Well, the answer is simple: their biological programming makes them write this nonsense as if matters and as if it means something, all of which is just a subjective, biologically-induced delusion of feelings in their brain.

  56. 56

    I don’t think CR understands the actual argument because he is a biological automaton that simply responds according to a algorithms when it spots certain sequences of words. The actual content of the subject is well beyond its ability to comprehend, so it (and the biological automaton known as rvb8) keep responding in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with the actual subject.

    They recognize word sequences, search their database, and put together various iterations of posts we’ve seen and responded to hundreds of times.

  57. 57
    critical rationalist says:

    @mike1962

    That’s cute, but did you know that the expression 1 + x = 2 has only a single solution for x? Well, I guess I could believe in one less solution for that, and sound cute. But it is middle school rhetoric.

    Perhaps an example discussion on the Fabric of Reality list would help to clarify this….

    The question asked was if is 2+2=4 falsifiable. Someone proposed the following test.

    If Tommy has two cupcakes in a box and then Tommy puts two more cupcakes in a box and Tommy doesn’t now have 4 cupcakes in a box then the idea has been proven false.

    David Deutsch, the Oxford Physicist and author whom’s work the list is based on, pointed out the the problem with this conclusion.

    The thing is, if carried out under the conditions implied, the outcome would not refute the theory that 2+2=4 but rather, it would refute the theory that the Tommy-cupcake-box system accurately models the numbers 2 and 4 and the operation of addition.

    This is exactly analogous to why, as I argued, [a single] fossil rabbit in the Jurassic stratum would not refute the theory of evolution: experimental testing is useless in the absence of a good explanation.

    What would a good explanation that 2+2 doesn’t equal 4 look like? I can’t think of one; that’s because the theory that it’s true is, in real life, extremely hard to vary. That’s why mathematicians mistake it for being self-evident, or directly intuited, etc. And it is of course my opinion that 2+2 does in fact equal 4, so I’m not expecting to find a contrary theory that is at all good as an explanation. But, for instance, Greg Egan’s science-fiction story Dark Integers explores essentially that possibility (albeit only for very large integers).

    The analogy between the theory of evolution and the 2+2 theory is in fact closer than the mere difficulty of imagining a good explanation to the contrary. Both of them, if false, would seem to involve there being laws of physics that directly mess with the creation of knowledge, in what we would consider a malevolent way. This makes for very bad explanations, but that doesn’t affect the logic of the issue so here goes: The analogue of creationism being true, then, would be something like that there is really no such entity as the number 4 because the axioms of arithmetic as we know them are blatantly inconsistent, and that the laws of physics act on neurons to make us unconsciously confabulate excuses for ignoring the physical effects of that.

    In case this isn’t clear, given the observations of the experiment, we would assume that something was tampering with Tommy’s box, the cupcake, our neurons, etc., rather than conclude that 2+2 doesn’t equal 4. This is because the explanation that 2+2 actually equals 4, in reality, is extremely hard to vary. Nor can we think of a better explanation as to why 2+2=4.

    But anyway, some of us on this planet have had experiences with something “other.” We know it exists.

    Did your experience come with a tag attached with the word “God” written on it, so you knew how to interpret it?

    That you haven’t means you are like a blind man trying to understand color. You can’t. You never will. God help you.

    I’m not suggesting that people cannot experience profound and rare states of consciousness. I’m suggesting that it’s not evidence for God’s existence, because it’s unclear how evidence can positively for anything without begging the question.

  58. 58
    critical rationalist says:

    @BA

    Hart’s article (I suggest you read the whole thing instead of the snippet in the OP) is a discussion of ontology.

    I have Barry. Let’s try bullet points…

    01. If Heart is merely referring to a uncaused cause, it doesn’t need to be sentient, intelligent, etc.

    02.. It’s unclear why I should care some abstract, inexpcalqble uncaused cause that exists in an inexpcalqble uncaused realm, that operates in an inexpcalqble uncaused means and methods. The suggestion that I should implies more than merely an uncaused cause. I’m agnostic about this because, it seems inconsequential when attempting to take it seriously.

    03. If Hart is referring to more than merely an uncaused cause, because it is the source of “the physical order” it’s unclear how such a entity can be simple yet, intelligent, source of material order (which would reflect knowledge, etc) Apparently, it spontaneously generates knowledge? This hardly seems rational.

    04. That all things need to have had a cause, causation, etc. are ideas that we simply lack good criticism of, as opposed to basic beliefs that are immune to criticism. For example quantum mechanics seems to suggest there are exceptions to this at the very small scale. (However, this can be addressed with the many worlds interpretation of QM) See my comment about 2+2=4 above.

    05. There could just as well have been an eternal universe that has always existed. While our current theories break down under these conditions doesn’t mean they always will. This this why it’s irrational to make some arbitrary stopping point to in the face of an infinite regress. “I don’t know” Is a reasonable response.

    06. Questions will lead to answers, that will lead to even better questions, which will lead to even better answers and even better questions, etc. As such, our knowledge will always be incomplete and contain errors to some degree. Since our knowledge comes from variation and criticism, some, ideas will remain uncorrected for hundreds, thousand of years, or possibly never if we decide to give up criticizing our knowledge. Again, this is because our ideas start out as educated guesses.

    Again, this is our current, best explanation for the growth of knowledge. If you have a better explanation, I’m all ears.

  59. 59
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    CR: IOW, we start out knowing our ideas are just guesses. They are not founded on anything and are therefore not justified by in this sense.

    WJM: Like the idea you are presenting above? If your idea is not justified, why should it be given any greater weight than any other unjustified guess?

    Where did I say that idea was justified? Where did I say it was merely a guess without being subject to and having survived criticism? That’s a straw man. And if you have a better explanation for the growth of knowledge, please present it. I’m all ears.

    However, “Idea X is not justified” is not a valid criticism because it’s applicable to all ideas. So it cannot be used in a critical way.

    CR: We start out with a problem: our sense input seems to suggest an external physical world exists. (There are alternative interpretations of our experience that suggest otherwise, but they too are bad explanations, which we all discard)

    WJM: Not only do you admit to having absolutely no justifiable reason for the claim “which we all discard”, it is factually false in my case.

    So, you’re a proponent of solipsism? It’s not a bad explanation for what we experience? At this point, I’m really quite confused.

  60. 60
    bill cole says:

    CR

    06. Questions will lead to answers, that will lead to even better questions, which will lead to even better answers and even better questions, etc. As such, our knowledge will always be incomplete and contain errors to some degree. Since our knowledge comes from variation and criticism, some, ideas will remain uncorrected for hundreds, thousand of years, or possibly never if we decide to give up criticizing our knowledge. Again, this is because our ideas start out as educated guesses.

    Again, this is our current, best explanation for the growth of knowledge. If you have a better explanation, I’m all ears.

    Your explanation assumes the existence of a brain that can process the information. Where did that brain come from? How do you know that questions will lead to better answers?

  61. 61

    CR aks:

    Where did I say that idea was justified?

    You didn’t say it. Your syntax implies it – as I said. You need better reading comprehension. You still fail to respond to the point: if it is not justifiable, why should I bother with it?

    Where did I say it was merely a guess without being subject to and having survived criticism? That’s a straw man.

    It would be a straw man if I had claimed you made your guess “.. without being subject to and having survived criticism.” You see, that’s your straw man, not mine. If we have no justified method or arbiter of criticism, what kind of criticism are we applying, and why should we care about it?

    IOW, what would justify me taking an interest in something you admit is not justifiable?

    Everything you say and claim and argue necessarily trace back to the assumption of fundamental justification or else there’s no reason to even care what you say.

    And if you have a better explanation for the growth of knowledge, please present it. I’m all ears.

    Oh, you’re mistaking my intention here. I’m not trying to educate you, I’m using you as an example of the folly of atheist thinking. You’re incapable of understanding my point.

    However, “Idea X is not justified” is not a valid criticism because it’s applicable to all ideas. So it cannot be used in a critical way.

    ROFL. Is that a justifiable conclusion?

    Keep chasing your tail, CR.

    So, you’re a proponent of solipsism? It’s not a bad explanation for what we experience? At this point, I’m really quite confused.

    I didn’t say I was a “proponent” of anything. There are more worldviews under the sky, oh bio-automaton, than are dreamt of in your programmed meat head. It’s not a choice between an external physical reality and solipsism.

  62. 62
    Seversky says:

    john_a_designer @ 4

    How did the universe originate from absolute nothing?

    It couldn’t have.

    Why does the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life, including advanced intelligent life?

    Douglas Adams’s “puddle” effect?

    How did life originate from non-life?

    I don’t know and neither does anyone else as far as I know. Even Christians who believe it was created by God don’t know how it was done.

    How did chemistry “create”** code? (Like DNA and RNA.)

    Again, no one knows.

    How did a non-teleological process, like Darwinian evolution, “create” things that are clearly teleological?

    See above

    How did consciousness and mind originate from mindless matter and a mindless process?

    See above

    To answer any of these questions naturalistically, as far as I can see, requires the belief in what amounts to be a set of “naturalistic miracles.” How is a naturalistic miracle not an extraordinary [or “magical”] claim?

    The fact that science has yet to discover and describe naturalistic causes for these phenomena does not mean that we never will and also does not mean that an alternative explanation such as God is necessarily true by default. And that’s setting aside the objection that God as an explanation is different from the type of explanation being demanded of science.

  63. 63
    Seversky says:

    ET @ 9

    Clarke’s 3 Laws:

    #3- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    What appears as magic is just an event that is beyond our (current) comprehension. And that is just another reason why IS focuses on the Intelligent DESIGN.

    So you are arguing – if I understand you correctly – that the Creation was brought about by some form of advanced technology. It was something far beyond our present understanding but still essentially naturalistic?

  64. 64
    LocalMinimum says:

    The analogue of creationism being true, then, would be something like that there is really no such entity as the number 4 because the axioms of arithmetic as we know them are blatantly inconsistent, and that the laws of physics act on neurons to make us unconsciously confabulate excuses for ignoring the physical effects of that.

    Common descent is as demonstrable, necessary, and vital to human rationality as the axioms of arithmetic? I had no idea.

  65. 65
    LarTanner says:

    Hart understands atheism as “after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic.”

    That most atheists do not share this understanding is of little consequence to Hart; he falls into a long line of theists who believe atheists just can’t/don’t/won’t face the implications and presuppositions of their atheism. Some theist commenters here sit squarely in this camp. You know who you are.

    Most atheists, to my knowledge, explicitly and thoughtfully believe that whatever all things “rest upon,” it is not (repeat: not) magical, no matter how like magic it might seem. Hart’s “something like” betrays his strawman.

    In common usage, magic involves being able to sidestep natural causation. A magician’s waving hands and incantation make an object disappear. An amulet glows for no apparent reason and causes someone to become violently ill suddenly.

    In other words, a belief in magic is a belief that the laws of nature can suddenly and arbitrarily be violated. But truly, such miracles are the provenance of theism and theists, including some commenters here. You know who you are.

    After all, magic is fully and obviously inconsistent with atheism. Not to think more about this is a basic error on Hart’s part. Now he’s both wrong on fundamentals and looking foolish in the process.

    Hallelujah, the good news is that he can start to self-correct by absorbing the idea that atheism really is not (repeat: not) “the mere absence of faith.” At heart (pun intended), atheism is the reasoned and reasonable rejection of faith in gods generally and God specifically.

  66. 66

    Seversky @ 62: “The fact that science has yet to discover and describe naturalistic causes for these phenomena does not mean that we never will and also does not mean that an alternative explanation such as God is necessarily true by default.”

    Agreed. But it also doesn’t mean that science WILL ever discover and describe naturalistic causes for these phenomena. Nor does it mean that a naturalistic explanation such as string or multiverse theory is necessarily true by default.

    Both theists and a/mats express FAITH in what they believe. Theists in a Supreme Being and a/mats in natural causes. Both are faith-based philosophical worldviews.

  67. 67
    ringo says:

    Hart gives great insight into the fallacies of the claim that “magic” is only something that the theist use to account for the existence of such a complex universe. Atheism has their own magic tricks up their sleeve as well. Great job heart. The opponents of this argument continuously use circular reasoning, straw-men, and evasion to make their points. Nothing new here.

  68. 68

    LarTanner,

    You have demonstrated a profound inability to understand the writing of Hart, and you logic is irrepairably flawed. Hart’s comments about atheistic beliefs resting on a moment of magic is not a comment about what he thinks atheists explicitly think, but rather what the ramification of their belief entails even though they would deny it.

    Also, atheism doesn’t make any claims one way or another about magic. I know of an atheist that fully believes in what you would call supernatural and afterlife magic and realms but doesn’t believe in God.

    I believe you are confusing atheism with materialism.

    Good lord … you biological automatons are so pitifully inept at grappling with conceptual matters. It’s almost like you all suffer from Aspergers.

  69. 69
    john_a_designer says:

    @ #4 I said “honest questions deserve honest answers.” I then gave a list of questions for a naturalist/ materialist to honestly answer. Two of our regular atheist interlocutors gave it a stab, rvb8 @ #18 and Seversky @ #62. However, neither of them really answered the questions. Instead they responded by bashing theism or shrugging their shoulders and saying “I don’t know”. Are there naturalistic answers to any of these questions? Is there anyone out there that can answer them from a naturalistic perspective?

    My point is that the naturalist/materialist argue that their worldview is based on science. Are these questions scientific questions or are they just philosophical ones? If they are scientific ones shouldn’t there be irrefutable scientific answers?

    My point is that the naturalist/materialist argue that their worldview is based on science. Are these questions scientific questions or are they just philosophical ones? If they are scientific ones shouldn’t there be irrefutable scientific answers?

    Seversky appears to think that they are. But how does he know that?

  70. 70
    LocalMinimum says:

    LarTanner:

    In other words, a belief in magic is a belief that the laws of nature can suddenly and arbitrarily be violated.

    So, what about the Big Bang, where nature as we know it emerged from pregnant “nothing”? Obviously, it’s a sudden and arbitrary violation of “natural law” as we commonly present it. Would you ascribe that to some higher order of natural law?

    But, once you’ve allowed a higher order of natural law beyond the observable, how can you constrain it? It’s beyond empiricism, so you can only (honestly) ask for non-contradiction.

    So, now you have a necessary realm from which “natural law” can be suddenly and arbitrarily violated with respect to our ability to observe it.

    In the end, magic is only functionally appropriate as a slur against willful contradiction. I find it fair to bring it against materialism that places human observation as the pivot about which that which can exist, must exist. It’s the ignorance attributed to the crudest forms of geocentrism, updated and generalized.

  71. 71
    LarTanner says:

    William J Murray-

    Hart’s comments about atheistic beliefs resting on a moment of magic is not a comment about what he thinks atheists explicitly think, but rather what the ramification of their belief entails even though they would deny it.

    Yes, I get that. It’s the precise point I addressed.

    atheism doesn’t make any claims one way or another about magic

    Consider magic one of those ramifications of atheistic belief. Plus, I said that magic was “inconsistent with atheism,” not that atheism made claims about it.

    I know of an atheist that fully believes in what you would call supernatural and afterlife magic and realms but doesn’t believe in God.

    De gustibus non est disputandum.

    you biological automatons are so pitifully inept at grappling with conceptual matters. It’s almost like you all suffer from Aspergers.I wonder if you are expressing frustration or think you are making a zinger.

    I suppose the important thing is that you feel pretty good about your own grasp of conceptual matters.

  72. 72
    LarTanner says:

    Re. Comment #70 –

    what about the Big Bang, where nature as we know it emerged from pregnant “nothing”?

    Is there an astrophysicist in the house? White courtesy phone. Astrophysicist, white courtesy phone.

  73. 73

    LarTanner said:

    Yes, I get that. It’s the precise point I addressed.

    No, it isn’t. The “point” you addressed was as if Hart was saying atheists were explicit in their view of a magical moment, like when you said:

    That most atheists do not share this understanding is of little consequence to Hart…

    ..and when you referred to Hart’s comment about this magical point a “strawman”

    Most atheists, to my knowledge, explicitly and thoughtfully believe that whatever all things “rest upon,” it is not (repeat: not) magical, no matter how like magic it might seem. Hart’s “something like” betrays his strawman.

    It’s not a “straw man”, LT, if you understand that Hart is not claiming atheists consciously or explicitly view that moment as “magic”.

    Consider magic one of those ramifications of atheistic belief. Plus, I said that magic was “inconsistent with atheism,” not that atheism made claims about it.

    Wow. Quote-mining yourself? You said:

    After all, magic is fully and obviously inconsistent with atheism.

    But, LT, magic is not even “inconsistent with atheism” much less “fully and obviously inconsistent with atheism” if atheism makes no claims about it – which it doesn’t.

    You’re the one “both wrong on fundamentals and looking foolish in the process”. But, it’s not your fault – that’s just the way happenstance interactions of chemistry make you behave. Right?

  74. 74
    Florabama says:

    Sev @ 62 “The fact that science has yet to discover and describe naturalistic causes for these phenomena does not mean that we never will…”

    Faith is the substance of things hoped for….When it’s all said and done, you and other materialists are just as faith based as any religion but with less justification.

  75. 75
    LarTanner says:

    William J. Murray at 74 —

    I have no patience for this. If you think that I think that Hart “was saying atheists were explicit in their view of a magical moment” — well, then I must be communicating poorly, because I do not (repeat: not) think Hart was saying that.

    If you’re headed somewhere with your comments to me, then get there. Otherwise, I’ll simply maintain what I think is the essence of my first comment, which is —

    (1) Hart holds a fundamentally flawed understanding of atheism.
    (2) A belief in magic is inconsistent with atheism, which is reasoned and reasonable rejection of faith in gods generally and God specifically.

  76. 76
    john_a_designer says:

    LarTanner,

    ”A belief in magic is inconsistent with atheism, which is reasoned and reasonable rejection of faith in gods generally and God specifically.”

    Invoking mantras proves nothing. It is kind of like invoking a magic spell. How ironic.

  77. 77
    Mung says:

    (1) Hart holds a fundamentally flawed understanding of atheism.

    Atheists hold a fundamentally flawed understanding of atheism.

    (2) A belief in magic is inconsistent with atheism, which is reasoned and reasonable rejection of faith in gods generally and God specifically.

    This is blatantly and hilariously false. We know what causes magic, and none of those causes are inconsistent with atheism.

  78. 78
    LarTanner says:

    Comment 78 —

    We know what causes magic, and none of those causes are inconsistent with atheism.

    Please explain!

  79. 79
    Axel says:

    I couldn’t help laughing at your slightly injured and querulous rejoinder, Mung : ‘I like sci-fi.’

    It reminded me of an incident involving my exceptionally quick-witted brother-in-law, who has that enviable gift of being able to immediatley snap back at an insult with a devastating quip ; where most of us have that less than enviable ‘l’esprit de l’escalier’ : what we think – all too late, of course – we should have said, as we descend the stairs on our way out !

    He was driving his mother and an old local lady past a grim-looking graveyard on the Isle of Mull. He remarked in a lugubrious, horrified tone :’Imagine being buried there…!’

    On hearing this, the old girl indignantly complained : ‘My husband was buried there …. ! Without missing a beat, he he murmured in breathtakingly dissonant tones, as reverential as he could muster : ‘Ah.. the peace…’

    Thought it might cheer you up, Mung, at the slight against sci-fi !

  80. 80

    LT says:

    If you think that I think that Hart “was saying atheists were explicit in their view of a magical moment” — well, then I must be communicating poorly, because I do not (repeat: not) think Hart was saying that.

    Then your criticism of Hart is incoherent, as I’ve pointed out.

    If you’re headed somewhere with your comments to me, then get there. Otherwise, I’ll simply maintain what I think is the essence of my first comment, which is —

    I’m quite sure you will maintain what you think regardless of anything anyone here says. That’s really not much of an ultimatum.

    (2) A belief in magic is inconsistent with atheism, which is reasoned and reasonable rejection of faith in gods generally and God specifically.

    I would really like to know how you compute that because atheists reject belief in god that magic is “inconsistent with atheism”. Do you think that belief in magic by definition means one has some sort of belief in God? If so I’d like to see how you justify that view.

  81. 81
    LarTanner says:

    William —

    I would really like to know how you compute that because atheists reject belief in god that magic is “inconsistent with atheism”.

    Think of it this way:
    (1) As I say in comment 65, “magic involves being able to sidestep natural causation.”

    (2) Atheism, which has no gods, recognizes no beings or objects that cause physical events to happen mysteriously.
    (2.1) For example, with a ball you can hit and break a bottle. This is natural causation and not magic.
    (2.2) If you were to utter a certain phrase and by this means break the bottle, that would be magic.
    (2.3) If you were to wave hands over a gemstone and by this means break the bottle, this also would be magic.

    (3.0) It is inconsistent to claim that real magicians or sorcerers exist while also asserting that belief in gods or God is factually wrong.
    (3.1) How can you say that some people use occult knowledge to manipulate nature while also rejecting the idea that a super-being exists which can do the same thing?
    (3.2) The assertion that occult knowledge exists is a step away from asserting that occult beings exist.

    And again, what I am saying is that atheism and belief in magic are inconsistent. You might think that atheism and a belief in magic are compatible; perhaps you can now detail the specific reasoning behind this. It seems fairly ridiculous to me.

    Finally, no, I do not think that belief in magic by definition means one has some sort of belief in God. As 3.2 indicates, once you believe in magic you might as well believe in some sort of gods or God. After all, why stop only halfway to crazy-town?

  82. 82

    LT:

    2. Incorrect. Atheism doesn’t make any such claim. I ask you to direct me to any definition or expanded definition of atheism that is widely held as authoritative that makes this claim or even implies it.

    3. Doesn’t follow from from the previous “logic”. Why can’t sorcerers exist without a god?

    3.1 “Super-being” is not the same thing as the “God” which Hart argues for.

    You seem to have a very muddled-up mind when it comes to concepts that are apparently well outside of your wheelhouse. In your mind, apparently, Harry Potter, witches, “super-beings” and God, telekinesis, levitation, etc. are all mashed up in one definitional category and require each other in order to exist at all.

    However, apparently some degree of light has broken into that dark vault of a brain after all when you say:

    Finally, no, I do not think that belief in magic by definition means one has some sort of belief in God. As 3.2 indicates, once you believe in magic you might as well believe in some sort of gods or God. After all, why stop only halfway to crazy-town?

    You’ve just ditched your argument that “After all, magic is fully and obviously inconsistent with atheism” because you admit belief in god is not necessary to believe in magic – therefore, one can be an atheist and believe in magic. Just because it might be rare doesn’t mean one belief is inconsistent with the other.

    And again, what I am saying is that atheism and belief in magic are inconsistent. You might think that atheism and a belief in magic are compatible; perhaps you can now detail the specific reasoning behind this. It seems fairly ridiculous to me.

    You already admitted they were compatible when you admitted

    I do not think that belief in magic by definition means one has some sort of belief in God.

    If one doesn’t have to believe in God in order to believe in magic, then, logically speaking, atheism and magic are compatible beliefs.

    Oh you poor, pitiful biological automaton. Are you capable of admitting your blatant error in reasoning?

  83. 83
    LarTanner says:

    William @83,

    That, my friend, is a whole lotta jumble you just spilled. Consider stepping away and thinking things over things for a bit. Maybe start with the definition of ‘compatible.’

    And again, if you could enlighten the automatons on the consistency of atheism and belief in magic, that would be peachy.

    * * * *

    Ah, let me just try — try – to show you how off-the-rails you are.

    So, I say this:

    I do not think that belief in magic by definition means one has some sort of belief in God.

    The shorter version of this is that belief in magic does not by definition make one theist.

    Here’s what you think I just said:

    If one doesn’t have to believe in God in order to believe in magic, then, logically speaking, atheism and magic are compatible beliefs.

    To your mind, I said that one doesn’t have to believe in God to believe in magic. This is, of course, not what my statement says, and it is not what my statement implies. You’ve reversed things: just look at which term comes first, and which second, and what connects them.

    Then, William, you argue for the compatibility of atheism and magic. Now, even in your butchering of the plain sense of my statement, atheism and magic cannot be said to be compatible. Your butchered statement essentially says that belief in magic is neutral with respect to atheism. Neutrality is neither compatibility nor incompatibility.

    From reading comprehension to reasoning, you’re illustrating a version of Woody Allen’s joke from Annie Hall:

    Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know, and such small portions.”

    Every comment you make is like this. Bad logic, twisted reading, and a nasty tone that make me want to wash my eyeballs after seeing your third-rate philosophical detritus.

  84. 84
    Mung says:

    Axel @ 80. That helps, thank you. 🙂

  85. 85
    mike1962 says:

    Death. I’m coming for you. Yeah you.

    Period.

    Theists do what they do because of it.

    Atheists do what they do because of it.

    But make no mistake.

    You’re living on borrowed time.

    Love,
    Death

  86. 86
    J-Mac says:

    “what about the Big Bang, where nature as we know it emerged from pregnant “nothing”?

    Sir Fred Hoyle was an English astronomer who formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. He also held controversial stances on other scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the “Big Bang” theory, a term coined by him on BBC radio…

    I wonder what would happened if we found out one day that Darwin never coined or used the word evolution?

    “Is there an astrophysicist in the house? White courtesy phone. Astrophysicist, white courtesy phone.”

    Lawrence Krauss physicist and cosmologist the author of the world acclaimed book “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing” claims that even nothing is something…

    Comments withheld for obvious reasons…

  87. 87
    mike1962 says:

    Lawrence Krauss physicist and cosmologist the author of the world acclaimed book “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing” claims that even nothing is something…

    Yeah, misleading title. According to Krauss, “Quantum foam” has properties. Something that has properties is not “nothing.”

    What a retard.

    Just another atheist evading the reality of Death.

    But Death awaits.

    It always does.

    Love,
    Death

  88. 88
    Bob O'H says:

    Lars @ 79 – I’m guessing Mung was referring to octarine.

    mike1962 @ 88 – The concept of ‘nothing’ gets weird at the quantum level (no surprise, really: everything gets weird at the quantum level): if I understand correctly, Hawking radiation is the result of “nothing” (quantum fluctuations create particle – anti-particle pairs, one of which falls into a black hole). Now it may well be that Krauss is a retard, but it could also be that he knows a lot more about physics that you (or indeed me).

  89. 89
    mike1962 says:

    Bob O’H

    Something that has properties is, well, not nothing, it’s something.

    You get that, right?

    P.S. Krauss doesn’t know anything about quantum physics that I don’t. Believe me. But that doesn’t really matter for our purposes here, does it? (P.S.S. I have a prettier face, if that helps.) He’s a smart guy. Who likes to be an agitator. But the agitator part is not physics. It’s just jackassery. You get the difference, right?

  90. 90
    Bob O'H says:

    mike1962 – My apologies for not knowing that you were a physicist. I assume, then, that you’re more aware of the issues about what “nothing” is than I am. But is is this semantics? My understanding is that the vacuum of space is usually considered ‘nothing’, but quantum fluctuations mean that particles continuously appear & disappear. Hence, what we usually think of as “nothing” does contain something.

  91. 91
    EugeneS says:

    Mike 1962 @11,

    Well said. It is amusing to see how they twist definitions. And then they label their incoherent eclectic philosophy ‘science’. In honesty, though, they don’t care about science in the least.

    Russian historian Lev Gumilyov:

    “Contemporary intellectuals are a special spiritual sect. […] Remarkably, they know nothing, they can’t make a thing with their own hands, but they judge about everything without tolerance to differing points of view”.

  92. 92
    J-Mac says:

    Nobody knows what 96% of the universe consists of…that that’s why it’s called dark energy and dark matter indicating that physicists and cosmologists like Krauss are in pitch darkness…

    So it is beyond weird to claim that the the universe came from nothing if the great majority of it is totally unknown..

    Krauss and others on the same boat keep forgetting that if the universe had a beginning, which it looks like it did, it had an extremely low entropy…This means that that the universe started out highly organized…How could this be?

    What materialists like Krauss would hope for is the universe that started out with high entropy (high disorder) that gradually evolved into low entropy, just like Darwinists hope to mislead people into believing that’s how life evolved on the earth despite the fact that this myth violates the second law of thermodynamics…

    Well, there is only one explanation for the highly organised universe just as there is only one explanation for highly organized life on the earth, which Krauss the like refuse to acknowledge…

    Here is Mr. Positive –Sean Caroll pretending that there is no problem with the universe staring out with extremely low entropy…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGs4C60FR68

  93. 93
    LocalMinimum says:

    LT:

    Is there an astrophysicist in the house? White courtesy phone. Astrophysicist, white courtesy phone.

    That was merely a for-instance, though I suppose I should have said as much. Feel free to insert a hypothesis of your own choosing.

  94. 94
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    Oh, you’re mistaking my intention here. I’m not trying to educate you, I’m using you as an example of the folly of atheist thinking. You’re incapable of understanding my point.

    This is an odd criticism from someone who is apparently incapable of noticing he is equivocating.

    That which remains is not positively justified, causing it to rise above all others. What remains among others is that which has withstood criticism. This includes what kind of criticism should be applied, and even the entire idea that criticism is the best means by which knowledge grows. Or that knowledge even genuinely grows at all.

    I’m a fallibilist about fallibilism.

    For example, can you give me an example of a supposed basic belief that is used to justify other non-basic beliefs?

  95. 95
    Dionisio says:

    EugeneS @92:

    Very interesting quote.
    Thanks for sharing it here.

  96. 96
    Dionisio says:

    EugeneS @92:

    It is amusing to see how they twist definitions. And then they label their incoherent eclectic philosophy ‘science’. In honesty, though, they don’t care about science in the least.

    Russian historian Lev Gumilyov:

    “Contemporary intellectuals are a special spiritual sect. […] Remarkably, they know nothing, they can’t make a thing with their own hands, but they judge about everything without tolerance to differing points of view”.

    Spot-on.

    Thanks.

  97. 97
    mike1962 says:

    Dean_from_Ohio,

    I think you missed the point of my comment.

    That’s OK.

    Anyway, there’s no evideence whatsoever the Book of Revelation is true, and very good evidence that is it is a crock of balony. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Humans write all kinds of wacky stuff. Because they are afaid of death. And so are you.

    I can tell ya this, Kimosabe, you will die. 100% guaranteed. And so will everyone else reading this.

    Love,
    Death.

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