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AS vs eyewitness experience, “non-testimonial” evidence and the reasonableness of Ethical Theism

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In a recent UD thread on evidence vs selectively hyperskeptical dismissal, AS has been challenging that “religious” belief [= theism as worldview, worked into way of life]  is ill founded, lacks evidence beyond testimonials, and the like. (Such is not new, already at UD I have had occasion to rebut his blanket dismissals of religious “dogma.”)

At 64, he sums up his perspective particularly succinctly:

AS, 64: I think religions have an emotional appeal that some people are more susceptible to than others. For those that succumb to that emotional need, evidence is superfluous. Those that lack that need aren’t swayed by testimony. Whether they might be impressed by evidence other than testimony is yet to be tested.

This is the old religion as a crutch fallacy.

(BTW, when I all but broke my ankle one Christmas morning as a student and had a doctor tell me I was very lucky once the X-Rays came out, I learned a lesson about crutches: when you need one, you need one real bad. Just ask the lovely and ever-cheerful Sis N, a lifelong Polio victim who walks with the aid of a pair of crutches and the most impressively muscled arms I have ever seen on a woman.)

Now, while debating theism is not the main purpose of UD, there is a matter of intellectual justice vs secularist prejudice — and even in some cases bigotry — here; the tendency to scorn theists as intellectually inferior emotional wrecks depending on unwarranted blind “faith” must be set straight.

As, BTW, John Lennox does very well here:

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YouTube Direkt

Nor should the parting words of testimony as an eyewitness and chief spokesman of the 500+ witnesses at the core of the Christian contention, the Apostle Peter, about to be judicially murdered by Nero on a false charge of arson at Rome in AD 64, be ignored:

2 Peter 1:13 I think it right, as long as I am in this  body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14  since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon,  as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

 16 For we did not follow  cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but  we were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . . .

19 And  we have the prophetic word [E.g. Isa 53, c 700 BC] more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention  as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For  no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God  as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [ESV]

Where (given the Christian Faith is a primary target) I note, this is what Peter was talking about, vid:

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Or, as Barrister Frank Morison so aptly put the matter eighty plus years past now:

[N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus’ resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . .

Why did it win? . . . .

We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 – 115.]

Where also, we would do well to bear in mind the remarks of famed jurist (and former skeptic) Simon Greenleaf, in the opening chapter of his treatise on evidence (where, such of course includes eyewitness testimony and record of same):

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, trying to sweep the report of millions of people whose lives have been transformed by meeting God off the table is patently ill-advised.

Now, too, I replied to AS initially at 165, pointing to the significance of worldview foundations:

KF, 165: Evidence and linked argument regarding the reality of God needs to be assessed in light of worldview foundations and comparative difficulties.

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}
A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}

In that context, to blanket-dismiss the experience of millions across the world and across the ages of life-transforming encounter with the living God, is tantamount to implying general delusion of the human mind. This leads straight to self-referential incoherence. I suggest, you may find it relevant to contrast the chain and the rope. KF

Of chains, ropes and cumulative cases
Of chains, ropes and cumulative cases

PS: I point out that evolutionary materialism credibly does entail general delusion by way of self-referential incoherence, e.g. as the well known evolutionary theorist Haldane noted:

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

In reply to this, AS went off on a tangent as to why denominations and variants of theism exist and why their adherents quarrel or even fight. To which the basic answer is obvious, we humans are factious. Then, at 176, AS repeated his challenge and dismissal of testimony, in reply to a question on what research he has recently done on religious evidence:

AS: None, recently. Where do you suggest I start, bearing in mind that testimony isn’t going to cut it for me?

Of course, this is already a clear case of selective hyperskepticism, dismissal of a cumulatively powerful category of evidence in a context where AS patently knows that eyewitness testimony on experience, is a crucial component of a lot of knowledge and decision-making. There are millions who have met and been transformed by God, so much so that in my longstanding 101 critique of evolutionary materialism as self-referentially incoherent, I noted:

c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this [a priori evolutionary materialistic] meat-machine picture.  So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his  The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies. 

The Derek Smith two-tier controller cybernetic model
The Derek Smith two-tier controller cybernetic model

d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! —  is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

A neural network is essentially a weighted sum interconnected gate array, it is not an exception to the GIGO principle
A neural network is essentially a weighted sum interconnected gate array, it is not an exception to the GIGO principle

(Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design —   tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways?  Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

neurobrain750

f: For further instance,  we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion.  Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

h:  That is, on its own premises [and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.  Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

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

AS comments:

AS, 189: KF writes:

…to blanket-dismiss the experience of millions across the world and across the ages of life-transforming encounter with the living God, is tantamount to implying general delusion of the human mind.

Well, “delusion” is a bit strong, but, yes, I do think people who believe that the various gods exist are mistaken. But I don’t think belief in something that is not true is per se a terrible thing. It is only when religion is used as an excuse to attack the out-group, be they infidels, women, gays and so on, that it becomes something that must be opposed.

Of course, we have just come off a century where ideologies of irreligion, atheism, materialism, scientific racism or class-ism, amorality disguising itself under the label of advancing novel rights and rescue for favoured groups [= the essence of fascism]  and the like, secularism and evolutionism were used as a key part of agendas that murdered well over 100 millions, just inside states. Names such as Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, or even Hitler (who definitively was NOT a Christian, pace too many atheistical online rants), are not to be found in the generally acknowledged lists of religious leaders. Nor is such exactly news, Plato long since warned 2350 years ago, speaking in the voice of the Athenian Stranger in The Laws bk X:

Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .  [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”)], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them.

But, the core issue needed some elaboration. So, at 207, I pointed to ontological and linked issues. This, I believe, should be headlined for record:

I have long since suggested that we start with the foundations of worldviews and then overnight, that we focus on a pivotal issue, root of being in a necessary being and of what character. Cf here for an outline i/l/o modes of being and ontology:

http://www.uncommondescent.com…..eat-being/

I must assume that you have not simply ignored a linked discussion, in haste to drum out talking points in disregard of there being another side to the story.

If you all are unable to recognise this as addressing a body of evidence on the general approaches of inference to best explanation, comparative difficulties and particularly grand sense-making, in light of evidence accessible to all who would inquire, then it shows logical, epistemological and broader philosophical impoverishment.

Which, is unsurprising.

Let me do a basic outline of key points:

1: A world, patently exists.

2: Nothing, denotes just that, non-being.

3: A genuine nothing, can have no causal capacity.

4: If ever there were an utter nothing, that is exactly what would forever obtain.

5: But, per 1, we and a world exist, so there was always something.

6: This raises the issue of modes of being, first possible vs impossible.

7: A possible being would exist if a relevant state of affairs were realised, e.g. heat + fuel + oxidiser + chain rxn –> fire (a causal process, showing fire to depend on external enabling factors)

Fire_tetrahedron

8: An impossible being such as a square circle has contradictory core characteristics and cannot be in any possible world. (Worlds being patently possible as one is actual.)

9: Of possible beings, we see contingent ones, e.g. fires. This also highlights that if something begins, there are circumstances under which it may not be, and so, it is contingent and is caused as the fire illustrates.

10: Our observed cosmos had a beginning and is caused. This implies a deeper root of being, as necessarily, something always was.

11: Another possible mode of being is a necessary being. To see such, consider a candidate being that has no dependence on external, on/off enabling factors.

12: Such (if actual) has no beginning and cannot end, it is either impossible or actual and would exist in any possible world. For instance, a square circle is impossible,

One and the same object cannot be circular and square in the same sense and place at the same time
One and the same object
cannot be circular and
square in the same
sense and place at the same time

. . . but there is no possible world in which twoness does not exist.

13: To see such, begin with the set that collects nothing and proceed:

{ } –> 0

{0} –> 1

{0, 1} –> 2

Etc.

14: We thus see on analysis of being, that we have possible vs impossible and of possible beings, contingent vs necessary.

15: Also, that of serious candidate necessary beings, they will either be impossible or actual in any possible world. That’s the only way they can be, they have to be in the [world-]substructure in some way so that once a world can exist they are there necessarily.

16: Something like a flying spaghetti monster or the like, is contingent [here, not least as composed of parts and materials], and is not a serious candidate. (Cf also the discussions in the linked thread for other parodies and why they fail.)

Flying Spaghetti Monster Creation of Adam
Flying Spaghetti Monster Creation of Adam

17: By contrast, God is a serious candidate necessary being, The Eternal Root of being. Where, a necessary being root of reality is the best class of candidates to always have been.

18: The choice, as discussed in the already linked, is between God as impossible or as actual. Where, there is no good reason to see God as impossible, or not a serious candidate to be a necessary being, or to be contingent, etc.

19: So, to deny God is to imply and to need to shoulder the burden of showing God impossible. [U/D April 4, 2015: We can for illustrative instance cf. a form of Godel’s argument, demonstrated to be valid:]

godel_ont_valid

20: Moreover, we find ourselves under moral government, to be under OUGHT.

21: This, post the valid part of Hume’s guillotine argument (on pain of the absurdity of ultimate amorality and might/manipulation makes ‘right’) implies that there is a world foundational IS that properly bears the weight of OUGHT.

22: Across many centuries of debates, there is only one serious candidate: the inherently good, eternal creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty, respect, service through doing the good and even worship.

23: Where in this course of argument, no recourse has been had to specifically religious experiences or testimony of same, or to religious traditions; we here have what has been called the God of the philosophers, with more than adequate reason to accept his reality such that it is not delusional or immature to be a theist or to adhere to ethical theism.

24: Where, ironically, we here see exposed, precisely the emotional appeal and hostility of too many who reject and dismiss the reality of God (and of our being under moral government) without adequate reason.

So, it would seem the shoe is rather on the other foot.

In the day since, there has been a tip-toe around. But, given that there has been a global challenge to the basic rationality of theists, rooted in a priori evolutionary materialist scientism, it is appropriate to headline this matter as a question on science, scientism, worldviews, cultural agendas and society. END

 PS: Trollish conduct will not be tolerated. Comment at UD is a privilege on good behaviour — basic civility and what in my neck of the woods is termed broughtupcy; especially in a world where there are any number of soap boxes out there and a blog can be set up in fifteen minutes at no cost. Abuse of privilege will lead to forfeit.

PPS: It seems some notes on first rules of right reason are required:

red_ball

Here we see a bright red ball on a table, marking a world partition {A | NOT_A }.

From this we can generalise to see the force of first principles of right reason:

Laws_of_logic

That is, the world partition pivoting on our ball or any entity having a distinct identity immediately imposes that A is A, A is not also at the same time and in the same sense NOT_A, and that anything will either be A or not A but not both or neither. This directly applies to for instance what happens when we try to communicate. As noted in comment 98 below to P:

. . . you object using a definite, structured language based on distinct sounds and using text that is based on distinct symbols. That is already pregnant with implications that decisively undermine your argument (i.e. WJM is right). Let me go to an often neglected classical source, Paul of Tarsus, speaking to requisites of articulate, intelligible language and implications thereof:

1 Cor 14:7 If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played? 8 And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle?

9 Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!

10 There are, I suppose, all these many [to us unknown] tongues in the world [somewhere], and none is destitute of [its own power of] expression and meaning. 11 But if I do not know the force and significance of the speech (language), I shall seem to be a foreigner to the one who speaks [to me], and the speaker who addresses [me] will seem a foreigner to me. [AMP]

In short, the very project of communication in symbolic language or music depends on and manifests the self evident nature of distinct identity, linked contrast and associated dichotomy. A is A (let’s use the bright red ball sitting on a table case in point I have used here at UD for years . . . I will append to OP for reference) directly distinguishes itself via a dichotomising world partition:

{ A | ~ A }

As immediately present corollaries of distinct identity (LOI), we have LNC, that A AND ~A cannot hold of the same thing and sense, and also excluded middle (LEM) by virtue of partition: A X-OR ~ A.

These are first, self evident truths that we must imply or acknowledge just in order to communicate.

So, my first, foremost point, is that it is thereafter useless to seek to dismiss the reality and presence of foundational, self evident truths.

To try to protest such is to hopelessly depend on them, it is absurd. Manifestly absurd.

The case you attempt to make collapses with literally the first word of your own, in comment no 83:

{Y | ~Y} + {o | ~o} + {u | ~u}

 

 

 

 

 

223 Replies to “AS vs eyewitness experience, “non-testimonial” evidence and the reasonableness of Ethical Theism

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Is “religion” (or, “faith”) merely an emotional crutch clung to irrationally by the religious . . . who are therefore inherently prone to other irrational behaviour and should be walled off from influencing any serious discussion or policy matters? Can we just blanket brush off “testimonials” of such as borderline delusions? And, is there any serious context in which ethical theism can stand on its own intellectual feet? I answer: no, no and yes — with reasons. KF

  2. 2

    There is plenty of non-testimonial evidence for the existence of god, as I outlined in this 2013 post: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....stifiable/

    Further, in the course of every day life, we all utterly depend on our faith in the testimony of others we otherwise hold to be trustworthy and reliable. Even our concept of scientific facts and well-supported theories is mostly generated by the testimony of scientists who actually do the work, who most often themselves base much of their working assumptions on the testimony of other scientists – testimony in the form of published research.

    So, to demand convincing non-testimonial evidence is itself an example of selective hyperskepticism; even in a court of law, all evidence is essentially testimonial in nature. If a gun or the results of a DNA test are presented, they are established as relevant to the case only through expert or eyewitness testimony. The jury certainly doesn’t know where the gun came from nor can do any DNA testing themselves.

    The logical arguments for god (as KF has provided) and the scientific evidence such as the big bang and fine tuning (which former atheist Antony Flew found convincing), combined with all the other kinds and weight of evidence available, makes atheism an untenable, irrational position.

  3. 3

    The problem with these recurring AS-style “arguments” is that if their reasoning is turned back on their own views, their argument becomes non-valid. What non-personal experience, non-testimonial evidence does any atheist have to support their dismissal with prejudice of the proposition that god exists, other than their personal incredulity?

    They might respond that it is the theist’s responsibility to support their claim; they have. Thousands of years of testimony; thousands of years of personal and group experiences; thousands of years of reasoning and logic that has stood the test of time; the moral necessity of an objective grounding for good/evil; more recently, scientific evidence in the form of a beginning for the universe, fine-tuning and the undeniable high-information, functionally specified content we find necessary in even the most basic units of life.

    These things make an astonishingly massive case for the existence of at least the philosopher’s god of classic theism (if not of any particular religion or sect or spirituality). To wave it aside with prejudice for no reason other than ill-informed (“I haven’t done any research into it”) personal incredulity points, IMO, to the real “emotional crutch” in play; anti-theistic materialism.

    Why else simply wave one’s hand and dismiss with prejudice the mountain of evidence of all sorts plainly in view, unless one simply cannot bear to honestly entertain the notion that god really does exist? Why else dismissively ridicule literally billions of people throughout time, including most of the greatest minds on record, even while one admits they have committed little or no time actually investigating the matter in good faith?

    BTW, KF: that “necessary being” argument is really a haymaker. One either must postulate a necessary, non-contingent being from which contingent effects flow, or one must accept that existence is at its root irrational (effects from nothing or infinite regress), which deeply undermines any argument they might make.

  4. 4
    Jim Smith says:

    Atheism has an emotional appeal to those who are afraid of punishment in the afterlife or those who have been publicly denying the existence of God and who therefore might have reservations of meeting Him.

    Religion is a crutch for people who are afraid of the dark and atheism is a crutch for people who are afraid of the light.

    But it is a logical fallacy to think that either case has any baring on what is true or what is false.

    “Freud can provide an equally compelling reason for why someone might believe as to why they might disbelieve. Yet, crucially, when it comes to discerning the all-important matter of which position is actually true, he cannot help us.” – Manfred Lutz

  5. 5
    timothya says:

    Did St Joseph of Cupertino levitate?

    TA: Off topic, please focus. (I will, however, note that as one who has seen non prestidigitation levitation happen in the presence of multiple witnesses (and BTW, as I learned the other day in a conversation, the victim was unaware, being unconscious at the time), I have no reason to doubt the credibility of the cumulative record in that case and many others. What is significant to me as one with direct knowledge of the reality, is to see how selective skepticism leads to ill-considered denial of credibly reported but politically incorrect actuality. Extraordinary events need only ADEQUATE evidence. And, in the case of ontological-moral issues . . . the matter actually on the table . . . the pivotal facts are manifest, it is to truly understand them that is where philosophy enters. With serious impact. KF)

  6. 6
    StephenB says:

    Kairosfocus, your post is a thing of beauty. You have made the point clear: When atheism confronts reason, atheism will lose.

  7. 7
    JimFit says:

    Atheists believe that they are random cosmic mistakes that nothingness spewed without free will or purpose when Science doesn’t support Randomness Nothingness and Luck. They believe these 3 but they want to call themselves reasonable, go figure.

    Cause and effect inevitably leads to an act since you can’t have infinite past causes and act implies Consciousness, everything is linked with the first cause, the Ultimate cause which we call God. There was nothing random in the process to have humans, for that reason humans follow this chain of events through science and discover God, we are the images of God, equal in understanding and behavior.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    Jim Smith

    Religion is a crutch for people who are afraid of the dark and atheism is a crutch for people who are afraid of the light.

    Very nice, Jim. Every now and then, I read a sentence that I wish I had written. That was one of them.

    Of course, contingency itself is a crutch, which means that any feeling of independence is always an illusion. In the final analysis, we all serve a master. Everyone is a slave to someone or to some thing. The task is to choose our master wisely.

  9. 9
    Joe says:

    No black swans- Some people may use religion/ their religion as a crutch. People can use many things for a crutch, even a crutch. Some people will be swayed by testimony and others won’t be.

    (My youngest was just involved in an incident at school- 6 different stories from 5 students and 1 parent. Go figure. Outcome- no harm, no foul, everyone just calm down, especially the parent who blew it out of proportion. 6 different stories and 5 of the people were right there directly observing and/ or participating in it)

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe, I learned that there is no point pretending when your ankle is badly sprained (out of some silly pride); if you need a crutch, you need a crutch. KF

  11. 11
    Box says:

    The atheists on this thread, Timothya & Aurelio Smith, do not address the arguments provided in the OP. And there is a simple reason for this: they cannot come up with a single counter-argument, because there ain’t none.
    Take for instance the Reppert quote:

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

    This quote – on its own – brings down any materialistic ambition to accommodate reason. And the funny thing is that our atheistic friends understand this. Their tactic? Pretend that it isn’t there . Just quietly move on to another thread and start arguing that language is not designed or that HGT confirms common descent or whatever and just hope that KF’s OP doesn’t get too much attention.

    However some of us hold that the debate is already over: MATERIALISM IS BUSTED.

  12. 12
    Joe says:

    Sir Isaac Newton was inclined to religious ideas. I’m happy to leave that there

    Secondly, if someone wants to claim that there is evidence that some particular god exists other than testimony then I’d be fascinated to hear it.

    And if you ever find evidence for your position we would be fascinated to hear it.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: ”

    “On the other hand, what evidence for gods is there, other than testimony? Give me an example of evidence for either a particular god or gods in general that is more than someone’s story.”

    1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted time-space energy-matter always existed. Theism predicted time-space energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago.

    2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence.

    3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is an ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. –

    4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) –

    5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of physics and chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for life like human life (R. Collins, M. Denton).-

    6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (Gonzalez). –

    7. Naturalism/Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11). Geochemical evidence from the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth indicates that complex photosynthetic life has existed on earth as long as water has been on the face of earth. –

    8. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the first life to be relatively simple. Theism predicted that God is the source for all life on earth. The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) –

    9. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse animal life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. –

    10. Naturalism/Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record. Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. –

    11. Naturalism/Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man (our genus ‘modern homo’ as distinct from the highly controversial ‘early homo’) is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall; Luskin)–

    12. Naturalism/Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. –

    13. Naturalism/Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) –

    14. Naturalism/Materialism predicted morality is subjective and illusory. Theism predicted morality is objective and real. Morality is found to be deeply embedded in the genetic responses of humans. As well, morality is found to be deeply embedded in the structure of the universe. Embedded to the point of eliciting physiological responses in humans before humans become aware of the morally troubling situation and even prior to the event even happening.

    15. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that we are merely our material bodies with no transcendent component to our being, and that we die when our material bodies die. Theism predicted that we have minds/souls that are transcendent of our bodies that live past the death of our material bodies. Transcendent, and ‘conserved’, (cannot be created or destroyed), ‘non-local’, (beyond space-time matter-energy), quantum entanglement/information, which is not reducible to matter-energy space-time, is now found in our material bodies on a massive scale (in every DNA and protein molecule).

    The scientific method is even very good at pointing us to Christianity:

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy & The Shroud Of Turin – (video)
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    New Evidence Overturns Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating – Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford – video
    (with Raymond Rogers, lead chemist from the STURP project)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxDdx6vxthE

    Shroud Of Turin – Photographic Negative – 3D Hologram – The Lamb – video
    https://vimeo.com/122495080

    Shroud Of Turin Is Authentic, Italian Study Suggests – December 2011
    Excerpt: Last year scientists were able to replicate marks on the cloth using highly advanced ultraviolet techniques that weren’t available 2,000 years ago — nor during the medieval times, for that matter.,,, Since the shroud and “all its facets” still cannot be replicated using today’s top-notch technology, researchers suggest it is impossible that the original image could have been created in either period.
    http://www.thegopnet.com/shrou.....ests-87037

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

  14. 14
    Box says:

    Aurelio Smith,

    Aurelio Smith: As I’ve remarked before, if you are inclined to religious ideas, you don’t need evidence.

    It sure is very honest of you to give this candid explanation for your continuous dodging of the arguments provided in the OP. Due to your inclination to atheism, evidence and arguments don’t mean anything to you and obviously you are not conscience-stricken about it. For me things don’t work that way at all, but again, I sure appreciate your honesty.

    Aurelio Smith: I’m happy to leave it there.

    Well good for you. Best of luck.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    AS is a a classic example, as has already been pointed out, of the village atheist who goes around shouting there is no evidence for God and then when the evidence is laid out for him simply ignores it as if it were not there.

    Irony: Like most atheists he almost certainly thinks of himself as unflinching in the face of facts and logic; yet the fact of the matter is that every time someone puts facts and logic in front of him he wets his pants and runs away.

    I think that if I subscribed to a position that required me to stick my fingers in my ears and chant “la la la la la la” every time I was presented with an argument, I might reevaluate. That’s just me.

  16. 16
    timothya says:

    Kairosfocus said this:

    (I will, however, note that as one who has seen non prestidigitation levitation happen in the presence of multiple witnesses (and BTW, as I learned the other day in a conversation, the victim was unaware, being unconscious at the time), I have no reason to doubt the credibility of the cumulative record in that case and many others. What is significant to me as one with direct knowledge of the reality, is to see how selective skepticism leads to ill-considered denial of credibly reported but politically incorrect actuality. Extraordinary events need only ADEQUATE evidence. And, in the case of ontological-moral issues . . . the matter actually on the table . . . the pivotal facts are manifest, it is to truly understand them that is where philosophy enters. With serious impact. KF)

    You have witnessed what you regard as a genuine case of miraculous levitation? I am sure you have encountered this rebuttal of the “adequacy” argument:

    The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worthy of our attention), ‘That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish….’ When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.

  17. 17
    Box says:

    Timothya,

    If you, like Hume, indeed “always reject the greater miracle”, then you should start off by rejecting materialism. Read the Reppert quote provided by KF and understand that the ‘miracle of thinking matter’ stands out as a class by itself; unequaled by any other miracle.
    On a more general note, the materialist worldview is so outrageously incoherent that its conception of what is miraculous and what’s not cannot be taken seriously.

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    Box, Materialism doesn’t need miracles, just a lot of sheer dumb luck! 🙂

  19. 19
    Box says:

    ‘A universe from nothing’, ‘matter that self-organizes into highly organized systems’, ‘brain chemicals that trick “us” into believing that “we” exist’, just a few of the many miracles that materialists unflinchingly accept on a daily bases. How utterly bizarre it is to witness their incredulity – their “skepticism” – regarding events that don’t support their outrageously ridiculous worldview.

  20. 20
    Seversky says:

    No one has an adequate explanation of consciousness, not materialists not immaterialists.

    In other areas, materialism works. Epileptic fits are better explained by the misfiring of material neurons than demonic possession, thunder by shockwaves propagated through the atmosphere by lightning bolts rather than some god having a temper tantrum.

    Quantum mechanics is not about the supernatural but about the structure of the material world at the sub-atomic level.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    Right now, I am dealing with an islandwide internet brownout/out that at best gives intermittent, slow service (as in Lime, Digicel here we come!) so responses will be slow and intermittent.

    I observe your:

    Secondly, if someone wants to claim that there is evidence that some particular god exists other than testimony then I’d be fascinated to hear it.

    I would think this reflects unresponsiveness on your part to first a link several days back, then a point by point expansion and then yesterday, a full headlined post.

    The God of interest is the eternal, inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, the root of reality and the IS who grounds OUGHT.

    This is quite precise enough to be identifiable.

    The ontological reasoning on possible/impossible and contingent/necessary being and implication of consequences of an utter nothing are sufficient to show the reasonableness and linked evidence of holding that the root of reality is necessary being.

    This carries the direct import that a serious candidate to be a necessary being will be either impossible or else actual as directly connected to the substructure of reality.

    Thereafter, that we are under government of OUGHT is manifest and undeniable on pain of absurd amorality.

    This, points to a world foundational IS that grounds OUGHT.

    The two together lead directly to the only serious candidate on the table after many centuries of debates and back-forth. God, the eternal inherently good supreme being, as characterised already.

    As, God, the eternal one [recognisable in the Judaeo-Christian tradition per I AM THAT I AM, YHWH, The Eternal], we are speaking of unconditioned existence, i.e. necessary being.

    Such, will either be impossible as a square circle is impossible, or else necessary and actual even as at least one cosmos is actual.

    So, your choice is to acknowledge that reality, or else show that God as so understood is an impossibility.

    None of the above depends on testimonials (though witness is a valid and foundational means to credible knowledge) and it uses evidence accessible to all, ranging from the world, to studying the being of a flame contrasted with a square circle and twoness, together with general reasoning on such.

    No, there is no empirical design inference on signs in it – but then, I long since pointed out that my intellectual, worldview level grounds for holding my belief in and experience with God across a lifetime has little or nothing to do with why I hold that FSCO/I etc point credibly to design of life and of observed cosmos. I believe those things on empirical warrant and inductive logic. Such is consilient with belief in God but does not in itself ground such.

    My grounds here for a rich idea of God and for holding such rational and credibly true as worldview foundation are outright modal ontological and moral.

    As, long since stated.

    I find in your remark cited above, however, a serious want of appropriate responsiveness to that.

    This, is beginning to tell inadvertent volumes.

    KF

    PS: On historical and reasonable documentation, authenticated scripture, lifelong theological reflection and experience etc grounds, I am also a full, Nicene-Creed adherent of the triune orthodox, Christian view. As a first step to why, cf as linked, which begins with a survey of evidence relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the 500 witnesses at the core of the Christian tradition:

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....l#u1_grnds

    PPS: TA, I mean just what I already stated quite plainly. The issue is not the actuality and adequacy of observation and record but the errors of selective hyperskepticism that could not be consistently applied in serious affairs of men. You are cautioned not to divert this thread of discussion. And BTW, Babbage busted Hume over 150 years ago on the utter implausibility of sufficiently multiple convergent eyewitness testimony and by extension credible record of same being coherent but wrong. “in the mouth of two or three [independent] witnesses shall a word be established” has a profound wisdom and force. Quoting Hume in the teeth of that is not good enough . . . and in fact the mass of evidence regarding Cupertino and several others of the same general time suffices to bring Hume’s reasonableness in his writings on this subject under serious question. Much less, onwards, the impact of the 500+ core witnesses behind the Christian tradition and the issues Morison highlighted. Not to mention the millions since who have been positively transformed by living encounter with God in the face of Christ.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, kindly cf the Smith Model. Ponder the impact of glitches in the I/O front end controller and/or memory store.But that tends to be tangential, there is a focal and critically important issue on the table to be addressed. KF

  23. 23
    Box says:

    Seversky:

    No one has an adequate explanation of consciousness, not materialists not immaterialists.

    What a pathetic attempt …. Is it really necessary to point out that being able to base one’s explanation of consciousness on an intelligent conscious Creator is an incomparably better starting point than being forced to rustle things up with blind unmotivated unreasonable particles?

    Seversky: In other areas, materialism works.

    No it sure does not, as pointed out in the OP. Sticking your fingers in your ears and chant “la la la la la la” doesn’t make them go away.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, 26:

    Nonetheless, there has been no laying out of evidence other than the repetition of testimony.

    False.

    You refuse to examine what has been presented for several days and drawn to your attention repeatedly.

    That speaks volumes, and not to your advantage. Nor, does your name-calling in lieu of actually addressing the matter on the table.

    As for:

    Arguments aren’t evidence. Reports of testimony are not evidence.

    That too is false. Arguments present evidence and reports once admissible are evidence. Facts testified to by witnesses and reported are evidence.

    KF

    PS: There is literally a universe worth of evidence in the argument you refuse to engage.

  25. 25
    LarTanner says:

    Aurelio Smith,

    You see the game being played here, I’m sure.

    Millions of people, they say, have ‘met’ God, Brand X. Their lives were transformed. Millions of other people ‘met’ God, Brand Y. Their lives were also transformed. Milions of yet other people had their lives transformed by God, Brand X 2.0. Plain old God, Brand X wasn’t right. Millions, too, abandoned God, Brand X and found bliss with God, Brand Z.

    The game here at UD is to argue that you cannot fully dismiss the possibility that one of these brands or versions of God is real. And since you can’t fully dismiss them, then theism generally and god-worshipping specifically is not to be considered as ridiculous or irrational as it probably is.

    What’s more, if theism and god-worshipping were to be considered ridiculous or irrational, then not only would many of the UD-ists feel pretty foolish but also their relatives and friends would be implicated. After all, maybe some of their ancestors were martyred; or, maybe some of their ancestors lit the fire at the pyre that martyred someone else.

    Many of the UD-ists have way too much at stake, psychically, to examine their theism/god-worshipping critically. But I assume they do sometimes have doubts and do sometimes even explore them.

    Indeed, I wonder if the UD-ists would care to discuss how they have sought to challenge their own beliefs and confirm to themselves that they do hold the right (or, mostly right) beliefs. How about it, KF, since you wrote the OP? When was the last time you sought to challenge and question your own beliefs?

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    LT, pardon but the primary matter on the table is not who met God. Though, it is quite true that people have met God and been transformed by such. There is a main argument on the table that has nothing to do with religious experiences; which you too have managed to duck, dodge and caricature. That evasiveness, again points inadvertently to its strength. The fact that you try to project unto me unquestioning and by suggestion irrational belief instead of actually addressing that main argument on the merits speaks further volumes. KF

  27. 27
    Box says:

    LarTanner: (…) God, Brand X 2.0. Plain old God, Brand X wasn’t right.

    Is the fact that there are distinct concepts of God supposed to be a counter-argument against e.g. the First Cause argument? If ppl differ in opinion about anyone does that make the existence of that person somehow unlikely? Do we not know for sure if Obama exist, because there are different opinions about him?
    I have heard this argument before, but never quite understood it. Please do enlighten me.

    LarTanner:
    And since you can’t fully dismiss them, then theism generally and god-worshipping specifically is not to be considered as ridiculous or irrational as it probably is.

    No, you got it all backwards: the alternative – materialism – is utterly ridiculous and irrational, as has been pointed out in the OP – DO READ Reppert. Sticking your fingers in your ears and chant “la la la la la la” doesn’t make it go away.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, you full well know you should read the OP; where there is quite literally a world of evidence in view, not to mention a fire as a case in point, and more. That you are doing everything but straightforwardly do that says all we need to know. You have taken refuge in some selective hyperskepticism and now in evading addressing the issue on the merits, while sneering at the man. Speaks volumes, KF

  29. 29
    Box says:

    Aurelio Smith, you have arrived at a point in your mental “development” where logic and reason – provided in abundance in the OP – no longer carry any meaning. Therefore you think that it makes perfect sense to state …

    AS: I don’t yet see any suggestion from anyone what this evidence might be and where it can be found.

    … but for those who haven’t lost their minds it absolutely makes NO sense.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Just a reminder from the OP, Simon Greenleaf on evidence:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    KF

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    There is absolutely nothing in your OP that mentions what evidence there is, other than reported testimony for the existence of God, a god or gods.

    The brazen evasion game continues, in the teeth of literally a universe full of evidence.

    Let’s start there, just for a reminder:

    1: A world, patently exists.

    2: Nothing, denotes just that, non-being.

    3: A genuine nothing, can have no causal capacity.

    4: If ever there were an utter nothing, that is exactly what would forever obtain.

    5: But, per 1, we and a world exist, so there was always something . . .

    Let’s see if AS will now read on and address the implications of there being a root of being; with God as a serious candidate to be such, being necessary and maximally great.

    Where, impossible beings are like square circles, infeasible of instantiation. (And this case is a further case of evidence, of the reality of impossible beings as a class with “examples” that can be described in words though not instantiated in actuality; and why such “examples” are like that, mutual contradiction of proposed core characteristics. This evidence yields a crucial point: if God were impossible, core characteristics of God would stand in mutual contradiction.)

    Thus, we see possible beings up to and including a world.

    Of which, one type is the contingent being, such as a flame, which is again evidential, illustrative of a key characteristic: existing under certain possible circumstances, not existing under others, AKA possible worlds. Where also, the flame is dependent on external, enabling factors (heat, fuel, oxidiser, chain rxn) thus showing enabling, on/off causal factors. Flames evidencing the observed nature of contingent being. Not to mention, causal factors, enabling on/off [conventionally: “necessary” causal factors”] and a sufficient cluster of factors. Also, beginning, sustaining in existence and ending i/l/o action of such factors and clusters.

    Evidence, evidence, evidence, refused attention or admission lest they testify to what ever so many do not wish to consider.

    By contrast:

    9: Of possible beings, we see contingent ones, e.g. fires. This also highlights that if something begins, there are circumstances under which it may not be, and so, it is contingent and is caused as the fire illustrates.

    10: Our observed cosmos had a beginning and is caused. This implies a deeper root of being, as necessarily, something always was.

    11: Another possible mode of being is a necessary being. To see such, consider a candidate being that has no dependence on external, on/off enabling factors.

    12: Such (if actual) has no beginning and cannot end, it is either impossible or actual and would exist in any possible world . . . but [as just one case –> evidence, again] there is no possible world in which twoness does not exist.

    13: To see such, begin with the set that collects nothing and proceed:

    { } –> 0

    {0} –> 1

    {0, 1} –> 2

    Etc.

    14: We thus see on analysis of being, that we have possible vs impossible and of possible beings, contingent vs necessary.

    15: Also, that of serious candidate necessary beings, they will either be impossible or actual in any possible world. That’s the only way they can be, they have to be in the [world-]substructure in some way so that once a world can exist they are there necessarily. [–> again, cumulative force of a body of evidence, that allows us to consider modes of being; which we may then draw out as to significance]

    16: Something like a flying spaghetti monster or the like, is contingent [here, not least as composed of parts and materials], and is not a serious candidate. . . . .

    17: By contrast, God is a serious candidate necessary being, The Eternal Root of being. Where, a necessary being root of reality is the best class of candidates to always have been.

    18: The choice, as discussed in the already linked, is between God as impossible or as actual. Where, there is no good reason to see God as impossible, or not a serious candidate to be a necessary being, or to be contingent, etc.

    19: So, to deny God is to imply and to need to shoulder the burden of showing God impossible.

    As in, at bottom we ponder, why is there something instead of nothing, given types of possible or impossible being, and where does that point in light of serious alternatives?

    Where, the underlying modal ontological frame of thought (which you have studiously avoided for days now) draws out these considerations further, pondering the facet of God that he would be maximally great and so also necessary as just outlined:

    P1: It is possible that a Maximally Great Being (MGB) exists [–> where such a being has greatmaking properties and no lesser making ones, to the maximal degree; and will be a successful serious candidate necessary being, NB]

    P2: If it is possible that a MGB [–> inter alia a serious candidate NB] exists, then a MGB exists in some possible world

    P3: If a MGB exists in some possible world, then a MGB exists in all possible worlds

    [–> As,

    (P3.1) a serious NB candidate will be impossible or else will exist in any possible world [–> cf. OP above on that], and

    (P3.2) existence in one possible world directly indicates that the candidate being is possible, and where

    (P3.3) something like a flying spaghetti monster will be material, composed of arranged parts etc, and will thus not be necessary . . . this also tells us something about constraints on what a NB can be like — a mind or abstract entities are serious candidates (and, immediately, we see that materialists or those deeply influenced by evolutionary materialism dressed up in a lab coat, will have endless conceptual difficulties with necessary beings; I suggest a glance here on in context [ –> cf. OP above, also dodged] to begin to see the inescapable incoherence and self-refutation of such evolutionary materialism. Never mind the lab coat and the boasts of being rational, evo mat for short is inescapably self refuting and irrational. This is already an important side benefit of reflecting on this topic.)]

    P4: If a MGB exists in all possible worlds, then a MGB exists in the actual world [–> the one that we know to be instantiated, all around us]

    P5: If a MGB exists in the actual world, then a MGB exists
    ________________________________________

    C6: A MGB. . . which is in effect, God . . . exists.

    The above, duly symbolised, is valid [as can be shown technically using propositional calculus . . . but is also intuitively plain on careful examination], and in fact given the logic of being, possibility and contingency vs necessity, premises 2 – 5 are not generally controversial.

    The key issue, then, is the truth or otherwise of P1: it is possible (not IMPOSSIBLE) that a MGB exists.

    You can of course reject P1, but at a price: showing (not merely asserting or skeptically implying or playing at knocking over strawmanised parodies, etc. . . . ) the impossibility of a MGB.

    Tough row to hoe (especially after the same Plantinga who has put this argument forward sank the deductive problem of evil several decades ago . . . which used to be a favourite atheistical argument to claim that God as conceived by theists was impossible).

    So, it seems the modal form ontological argument forces us to face serious issues and implications on what may be reasonably understood on the nature of God and also, how that works to ground morality.

    Which, is also discussed in the OP, in light of the general observation that we find ourselves morally obligated.

    Those who wish to deny such need to ask themselves about whether it is self-evidently true that it is wrong to kidnap, bind, torture, rape and murder a young child for one’s pleasure.

    The repeated evasiveness in the teeth of this unfortunately real world case, has repeatedly spoken volumes.

    But, in context, the further stage of argument pivots on that experience of moral obligation . . . again, widely accessible evidence, just look at how we quarrel — or, how many atheistical advocates point to cases where abusive religious leaders indulged in evils as though that OUGHT not to be, as though there are genuine rights, binding morally freighted obligations owed to a human being due to his or her inherent dignity. (Or is this just a piece of cynically amoral manipulation, driven by the cynical sense that feelings can be exploited so why not . . . with all the horrors of C20 down that road at the hands of certain amoral atheistical dictators.)

    We can safely take the general sense of obligation under OUGHT as reasonable evidence that we really are under government of OUGHT:

    20: . . . we find ourselves under moral government, to be under OUGHT.

    21: This, post the valid part of Hume’s guillotine argument (on pain of the absurdity of ultimate amorality and might/manipulation makes ‘right’) implies that there is a world foundational IS that properly bears the weight of OUGHT.

    22: Across many centuries of debates, there is only one serious candidate: the inherently good, eternal creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty, respect, service through doing the good and even worship.

    23: Where in this course of argument, no recourse has been had to specifically religious experiences or testimony of same, or to religious traditions; we here have what has been called the God of the philosophers, with more than adequate reason to accept his reality such that it is not delusional or immature to be a theist or to adhere to ethical theism.

    24: Where, ironically, we here see exposed, precisely the emotional appeal and hostility of too many who reject and dismiss the reality of God (and of our being under moral government) without adequate reason.

    Now, is this expected to actually persuade atheistical activists and/or fellow travellers, such as we commonly see at or around UD?

    Nope.

    Such have proved perfectly willing to burn down logic, morality, truth, duties of care to same and more. They adhere to systems of thought that as the OP shows, are irretrievably self-referentially incoherent. Until/unless such become willing to reconsider what they are doing, we can take their pose of being oh so intellectually superior while indulging in selective hyperskepticism as signs of something deeply wrong.

    No, we have no need to try to persuade such.

    Nor, do we need to try to prove to such that evidence is evidence, their refusal to acknowledge patent evidence is proof enough that something is deeply wrong with such thinking.

    We only pause to note how they have refused to address historical evidence and record at the root of the Christian faith, or how they wish to sneeringly dismiss the life experience of millions who have met and been transformed by God.

    Just deny, sneer and dismiss, see how easy selective hyperskepticism is?

    Only too easy.

    But, no, we had a very modest aim: to show that — never mind such all too telling sneering as even this thread shows — it is a reasonable worldview to hold that God as necessary and maximally great being is a serious possible explanation for the world with ourselves in it. With, the further understanding that once a candidate necessary being is serious — flying spaghetti monsters etc need not apply — then it will either be impossible or actual.

    Something inherent in the substructure of any possible world, and especially one in which there are creatures under moral government.

    So, if objectors wish to show us to be irrational, immature, credulous and clinging to needless emotional crutches and fairy tales etc, they need to stop sneering and start showing that an inherently good, maximally great, necessary being is inherently incoherent and comparable to a square circle. Or else, that God by nature is inherently contingent as a flame is, or is simply not a serious candidate to be a necessary being.

    Where, the very fact that there is a world — something, not nothing — cries out for solid explanation.

    That, the atheists etc simply have not done, and I daresay, cannot do.

    KF

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    StephenB:

    Kairosfocus, your post is a thing of beauty. You have made the point clear: When atheism confronts reason, atheism will lose.

    No doubt that explains why atheists hate and avoid reason at all costs.

  33. 33
    Mung says:

    Aurelio S.

    As I’ve remarked before, if you are inclined to religious ideas, you don’t need evidence. I’m happy to leave it there.

    Of course, such declarations require no evidence. There’s a simple beauty in being a hypocrite. Or ugliness. I’m happy to leave it there.

    Troll

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: In 2 above, WJM pointed to a post of his that will well repay a timeout to read it; especially given some objections above:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....stifiable/

    Before I head off to my first Haitian wedding (and after some budgie cheeping exercises on lax monetary policies and whatnot), let me clip a key part of WJM’s article — though there is much more there:

    If a “weak atheist” claims to “lack belief” because there is “no evidence for god,” he or she is necessarily being intellectually dishonest, because we certainly aren’t privy to all potential or available evidence. Are such atheists claiming to be omniscient? If not, then, a more modest and reasonable point would be that they are not aware of evidence for god. However, given what we have already seen, such “weak atheists” cannot genuinely claim to not know of “any” evidence for god after having perused any of the above evidence. That is to say, there is evidence for god, just, they don’t accept it. But incredulity or hyper-skepticism on your part does not equate to “no evidence” on my part. Testimony from otherwise credible sources is not made “less credible” simply because the testimony is about something the listener personally finds to be in-credible; it is not intellectually honest to discredit the credibility of testimony only on the basis of the subject matter being debated.

    Also, strong atheists often only refer to themselves as weak atheists because they have realized that the strong atheist position is an assertion they cannot support in informed company. They do this to provide cover for their real view, which is an obvious form of intellectual dishonesty. One can often discern when this is going on when the person ridicules belief in god or makes categorical dismissals about evidence they have never even seen; they believe there is no god, and so assume there can be no valid evidence for god, and advocate for that position rhetorically via ridicule.

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

    So, if we have a weak atheist who is aware of the existence of the above evidence and agrees that there might be more evidence they are not privy to; and who does not categorically assert problems with the evidence they have not yet seen; and who does not categorically dismiss the available evidence as “non-evidence” due to hyper-skeptical bias but rather states that the available evidence they have seen is not compelling towards a conclusion that god exists; then one must ask the following:

    In the face of such overwhelming amounts of evidence — thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories; many serious arguments based on credible empirical evidence and apparently necessary logical premises and inferences; and, the complete lack of any generally successful attempt to make a sound argument that god in fact does not exist — one must ask: how can any intellectually honest person come to any conclusion other than that on the balance of the evidence, god probably exists, even if god is poorly and diversely defined, and even if the experience of god is open to various interpretations and even to misunderstanding?

    KF

  35. 35
    Seversky says:

    In the face of such overwhelming amounts of evidence — thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories; many serious arguments based on credible empirical evidence and apparently necessary logical premises and inferences; and, the complete lack of any generally successful attempt to make a sound argument that god in fact does not exist — one must ask: how can any intellectually honest person come to any conclusion other than that on the balance of the evidence, god probably exists, even if god is poorly and diversely defined, and even if the experience of god is open to various interpretations and even to misunderstanding?

    Millions, probably billions, of people over the millenia have believed, yes. In something. Did they all believe in the same god, follow the same faith? No. Over that period, they have belonged to thousands of different faiths and believed in thousands of different gods. They can’t all be the true faith or true god – unless you believe in some vast pantheon – perhaps none of them. So that vast body of anecdotal evidence only testifies to the fact that people have a strong tendency to believe in something. It’s hardly evidence that any one of them in true.

    It gets worse. Even if one of those faiths is the true faith, the fact that so many people believed in the wrong ones is evidence of how bad they are at picking the right one. In other words, because so much of that vast body of anecdotal evidence testifies to the existence of false gods and faiths, it’s credibility as evidence of anything, other than the apparent need for people to believe in something, is fatally undermined.

    I agree with Bertrand Russell’s argument that, strictly speaking, agnosticism is the only proper philosophical posture while still acting for all practical purposes as if there is no god:

    Here there comes a practical question which has often troubled me. Whenever I go into a foreign country or a prison or any similar place they always ask me what is my religion.

    I never know whether I should say “Agnostic” or whether I should say “Atheist”. It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God.

    On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.

    None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of homer really exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof.

    Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.

    The burden of proof in these matters, as always, rest with the claimant. If an atheist asserts that there is definitely no god then, if he wants to persuade his audience that his case has merit then he or she must provide the evidence and arguments to support it. The same goes for the Christian or any other believer.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev: The history is there, starting with the 500, and millions since. But that is not the main point. There is on the table a discussion of roots of being and serious candidate necessary being at that root. For this, there is literally a universe full of evidence, and the degree to which objectors etc have done everything other than address such — along with other linked contexts, speaks volumes — shows that it is patent that theists do have a reasonable base but one that people are unwilling to face. And, strictly, every worldview faces comparative difficulties analysis, including evolutionary materialism — which is clearly self referentially incoherent. KF

    PS: Wedding in three languages . . . the bride’s response in English (having been addressed in English and French), I will, spoke volumes. The Creole appeared in the music. It seems, this is now a land of at least four or five languages (depending on how you count the Creoles).

  37. 37

    Seversky said:

    I agree with Bertrand Russell’s argument that, strictly speaking, agnosticism is the only proper philosophical posture while still acting for all practical purposes as if there is no god:

    Whether or not people have disagreed about how to interpret their experience of god over the duration of history is a hyperskeptical argument – people have disagreed over the course of history about everything they experience. It’s certainly not proper to accept such historical variations and conflicting descriptions of phenomena on the one hand as local and cultural variances when perceiving all sorts of actual commodities, while on the other using it to shore up an agnostic position about the very existence of a “god” commodity.

    Also, no sane person can act as if there is no god. We all must act as if morality is an objective commodity, as if mind is primary and as if we have free will. Those things cannot be supported without reference to god. We all must act as if there is sufficient and necessary cause, which requires an uncaused cause or unmoved mover.

    For an intelligent, honest, informed person, agnosticism can only be a form of self-deception. There is no place to hide from the evidence in favor of god except behind one’s own willful ignorance and denialism.

    When one is reduced to fronting up the fact that the billions and billions of people throughout history (that have at least agreed that a god of some sort exists) have disagreed about how they describe that god as a sound reason to dismiss the idea altogether, then one is obviously being selectively hyperskeptical.

    If, in a debate about god, one takes the position of agnosticism, when challenged should they not have reasons and reasoning to support their agnosticism? Is “people have historically disagreed in their descriptions of god” really the best you have to offer in terms of supporting a position of agnosticism? In light of all the argument, logic and evidence supporting at least a classical theism god, that is the case you’re making for maintaining a position of agnosticism?

  38. 38

    AS said:

    Why do you feel yourself capable of judging others?

    People who don’t think like you are insane, willfully ignorant, in denial? This is childish hubris.

    Why do you feel yourself capable of judging others?

    Judging others based upon their words and actions is what we all do, AS. Uninformed people can be ignorant of the evidence and argument, and so could be rational agnostics; those who are informed and have the intelligence capable of discerning it can easily see the logical bankruptcy of the atheist and even agnostic positions.

    There are reasons to avoid theism even in the face of such evidence, but they are not sane (i.e., rational) reasons. They are usually based on either habit (upbringing) or emotion.

    Let’s look at it this way; if we accept the proposition arguendo that the classical theistic god (as grounding of being, morality, cause and effect, logic, creator/sustainer of the universe) cannot be proven, what is the harm in believing that? If there is no intrinsic harm, then what is the point, given the argument and evidence for at least that kind of god, in insisting on remaining atheist or agnostic?

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, there you go again with strawman caricatures and hyperskeptical dismissals. You have had a whole universe of evidence pointed out to you and it makes no difference. KF

    PS: Personal testimony is almost the last thing I would characterise Lennox’s video lecture as. Sounds like you watched only as far as he talked about himself and an atheist interlocutor, and jumped to a conclusion.

  40. 40

    I’ve judged no-one in any of my comments here.

    Who then is guilty of exhibiting “childish hubris”?

    Another example in this very thread:

    Fourthly, I still suggest that religion’s appeal is basically emotional and there is varying susceptibility to that appeal in humans.

    Are you not judging large segments of humanity as holding religious beliefs due to their susceptibility to the emotional appeal of those beliefs?

    What is the harm in not believing it, BTW?

    Are you unaware of scientific research that shows the medical and psychological benefits of religion/belief in god?

    I’m only demanding a similar consideration for others that don’t share your very particular beliefs.

    You are of course free to believe as you wish and I think this is a basic human right. That’s not the issue being debated; the issue being debated is the reasonableness/rationality of some positions, such as atheism, agnosticism, and the insistence that nobody has presented any non-testimonial evidence for god.

    The logical arguments (such as KF has presented) for god are not “testimonial” in nature, AS. The fine-tuning evidence is not “testimonial” in nature. The moral argument for god is not “testimonial” in nature. Yet you keep insisting that the only thing that has been presented is “testimonial” in nature, and that’s simply not true.

  41. 41
    velikovskys says:

    Wjm:
    Are you unaware of scientific research that shows the medical and psychological benefits of religion/belief in god?

    Some research shows higher level of depression among the religious , also a higher level of obesity.

    The moral argument for god is not “testimonial” in nature.

    The vast number of philosophers are atheists, perhaps the moral argument is not persuasive.

    For an intelligent, honest, informed person, agnosticism can only be a form of self-deception.

    Because not pretending you know something that you don’t know is self deception? I thought it was just the opposite. Perhaps agnostics believe if a God exists he would prefer honesty over belief based on selfish motivations

  42. 42

    velikovskys said:

    The vast number of philosophers are atheists, perhaps the moral argument is not persuasive.

    That it may not be persuasive is irrelevant to the point; it is evidence that was presented in this thread, and it is not testimonial in nature.

    Because not pretending you know something that you don’t know is self deception?

    Nobody said anything about knowing or not knowing, but rather reasonable belief based on weight of evidence. The weight of evidence is clearly in favor of, at minimum, a classical theistic god. One doesn’t have to know something to have a justifiable, provisional belief.

    I thought it was just the opposite. Perhaps agnostics believe if a God exists he would prefer honesty over belief based on selfish motivations

    I hardly call holding a provisional belief based on weight of the evidence a “selfish” motivation.

  43. 43
    Popperian says:

    I’m always surprised how the philosophical position expressed under 165 is presented as evidence, when there are several good criticisms of Foundationalism and alternatives which are simply ignored. It’s as if KF thinks the entire field of Epistemology simply doesn’t even exist.

    From This article

    Infinite Regress versus Dogmatism

    The true belief framework is fundamentally flawed due to the perennial problem of validation and the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism. Sextus Empiricus was one of the first people to draw attention to this (circa 200 AD) and more recently David Hume made it topical with his devastating critique of induction. The dilemma arises as follows: If a belief claims validation by a supporting argument, what justifies the support? Where and how does the chain of justifications stop? If one attempts to provide reasons for the supporting argument then an infinite regress can be forced by anyone who presses for more supporting statements which in turn demand justification. It appears that this can only be avoided by a dogmatic or arbitrary decision to stop the regress at some stage and settle on a belief at that point.

    This dilemma creates ‘conscientious objections’ to open-mindedness because a logical chain of argument apparently justifies resistance to counter arguments by suggesting that the only way out of the infinite regress is to place an arbitrary limit on criticism at some point: ‘Here I stand’. To the despair of people who believe in reason, their opponents can defeat the principle of open-ended criticism and debate on impeccably logical grounds, simply by pointing to the problem of the infinite regress.

    Critical Preference

    The solution is to abandon the quest for positive justification and instead to settle for a critical preference for one option rather than others, in the light of critical arguments and evidence offered to that point. A preference may (or may not) be revised in the light of new evidence and arguments. This appears to be a simple, commonsense position but it defies the dominant traditions of Western thought which have almost all taught that some authority provides (or ought to provide) grounds for positively justified beliefs.

    Relativism, Dogmatism and Critical Preference

    In the light of Bartley’s ideas we can discern a number of possible attitudes towards positions, notably those of relativism, dogmatism (called “fideism” in the scholarly literature) and critical preference (or in Bartley’s unfortunately clumsy language, “pancritical rationalism”.) Relativists tend to be disappointed dogmatists who realise that positive confirmation cannot be achieved. From this correct premise they proceed to the false conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    Fideists are people who believe that knowledge is based on an act of faith. Consequently they embrace whatever they want to regard as the truth. If they stop to think about it they may accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for their beliefs or any others, so they insist that we make our choice regardless of reason: ”Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other fundamentalists because they share the same ‘true belief’ structure of thought.

    According to the stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better than others are in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference.”

    How does this not represent an example of ignoring criticism?

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As a simple further correction, the documentary video by Lee Stroebel is also not merely a personal testimony. We are seeing a strawman tactic to push all evidence into the category “personal testimony” targetted for selectively hyperskeptical dismissal, or where the evidence is really hard to so relabel, it is pretended away. Where also, eyewitness testimony and records of same are foundational not only to history but to almost any serious praxis, including science and science education. KF

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    The true belief framework is fundamentally flawed due to the perennial problem of validation and the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism. Sextus Empiricus was one of the first people to draw attention to this (circa 200 AD) and more recently David Hume made it topical with his devastating critique of induction.

    I draw your attention to the OP,and its first infographic, on worldview roots.

    This may also be helpful:

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....l#u2theism

    You will observe that per the principle of comparative difficulties across worldview alternatives, the issues of potential infinite regress and of circularity are addressed. Likewise, this approach means that as worldviews may be and are critically compared on difficulties, there is no automatic locking in of closed minded indoctrination here. Where, as we are finite, fallible, struggle to acknowledge unwelcome truth and are too often unwilling, we do all have to address finitely remote first plausibles framing diverse worldviews.

    Worldiviewish, comparative difficulties thinking allows a much more balanced approach than many realise.

    By examining relevant alternatives on factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power, we are enabled to hold to reasonable faith.

    Yes, most of our knowledge is best termed reasonably warranted, credible belief that should be open to development and correction of gaps or errors. That has been on the table since practically forever and is explicit in the OP. On induction, Newton in Opticks, Query 31 addressed limitations in 1704 or so. Empirically reliable, provisionally warranted scientific conclusions are useful and even necessary in a world of 7 bn in a high tech age.

    I think you and many others need to hear John Locke in Sect 5 of the intro to his essay on human understanding, c 1690:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations.]

    Of course, on the other hand, there is something profound that is too often scanted. Self-evident, foundational truth.

    Such as, per Josiah Royce, error exists. If you want, the set that collects errors is non-empty.

    To see how this is undeniably true, try to deny it. Immediately, this instantiates an error, showing the matter to be undeniably so on pain of absurdity.

    But this is a day in which ever so many will cling to agenda-serving absurdities such as a priori evolutionary materialism . . . cf the OP.

    Notwithstanding, that error exists is certainly knowable and true, instantly shatters the foundations of many systems of thought that suggest truth beyond true to me or you does not have substance, or that we may not know truths to the point of fully warranted, justified, certainly true belief.

    There is no need to abandon knowledge, or to despair of being able in many cases to say of what is that it is or of what is not that it is not . . . truth.

    KF

  46. 46

    One wonders, without the foundational principles of logic (taken on faith against descent into absurdity), how are arguments against foundationalism tendered?

    The solution is to abandon the quest for positive justification and instead to settle for a critical preference for one option rather than others, in the light of critical arguments and evidence offered to that point.

    How are critical arguments and evidence sorted and vetted as such under non-foundationalist epistemology? Perhaps more germane, why should a non-foundationalist care about criticism and epistemology if:

    A preference may (or may not) be revised in the light of new evidence and arguments.

    So, I may or may not revise my preferences in light of arguments and criticisms? If all we are talking about are preferences, why are you here arguing? Do you also wish to argue us out of what kind of ice cream we prefer?

    This appears to be a simple, commonsense position but it defies the dominant traditions of Western thought which have almost all taught that some authority provides (or ought to provide) grounds for positively justified beliefs.

    All this seems to me to be is anti-authoritarianism using a foundationalist premise (logic) to attempt to undermine foundationalism and the necessary faith in certain self-evidently true statements (such as, error exists and A=A and 1+1=2) as premised foundation for any coherent thought whatsoever to follow.

    I’d like to see Popperian’s alternative epistemological perspectives (that do not assume any foundationalist underpinnings themselves) to make criticisms or provide evidence in order to make the case that atheism is justifiable in any way other than as a simple “I stand here!” assertion of preference in defiance of argument and evidence otherwise.

    Murray’s Maxim: If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    Popperian asks:

    How does this not represent an example of ignoring criticism?

    What criticism have you offered under any epistemological system concerning theism? Your point seems to be that the epistemological system that results in theism being the rational conclusion is suspect, but you’ve provided nothing to make the case for atheism or agnosticism as being viable under some other epistemology.

  47. 47
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 44

    Whether or not people have disagreed about how to interpret their experience of god over the duration of history is a hyperskeptical argument – people have disagreed over the course of history about everything they experience. It’s certainly not proper to accept such historical variations and conflicting descriptions of phenomena on the one hand as local and cultural variances when perceiving all sorts of actual commodities, while on the other using it to shore up an agnostic position about the very existence of a “god” commodity.

    The agnostic position on the existence of a god or gods is that the question is undecided, which, in the absence of compelling evidence one way or the other, is the is the only correct and proper response.

    The wide variety of faiths followed by people over the millenia is a good reason to doubt whether any of them are true. As I argued before, if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there is only one true faith then the overwhelming majority of those personal testimonials are simply wrong. They attest to something that isn’t true. You can certainly counter with something along the lines that they are all different perspectives on the same phenomenon but, on its own, it isn’t persuasive, not for me, anyway.

    Also, no sane person can act as if there is no god. We all must act as if morality is an objective commodity, as if mind is primary and as if we have free will. Those things cannot be supported without reference to god. We all must act as if there is sufficient and necessary cause, which requires an uncaused cause or unmoved mover.

    I don’t see any reason why we should not be able to act as if there is no god. It may be far from perfect but we do have the intelligence to work things out for ourselves. That should not be underestimated. And we may have no alternative.

    The alleged need for God to ground morality sounds too much like trying to annexe that moral high ground for your own particular faith. Since, according to the Bible, your God seems reluctant to reveal the detailed reasoning behind His moral injunctions, we are left with an unasnwered question as to whether they are, indeed, the product of a rational process or were they decided on a whim? If they are whimsical, which I have to say I don’t think anyone believes, then they would seem to be groundless. If, on the other hand, they are the product of reason, what is to prevent us as – occasionally – reasonable beings from working these things out for ourselves? Besides, my counter to the accusation that atheists have no grounds for moral claims is to ask the accusers if they are seriously admitting that they would have no idea that, for example, murder or torture or rape are wrong unless God had told them?

    For an intelligent, honest, informed person, agnosticism can only be a form of self-deception. There is no place to hide from the evidence in favor of god except behind one’s own willful ignorance and denialism.

    I would argue that believers cannot review all the evidence objectively and without prejudice because they are unable to see it except through the filter of their own personal faith. On its face, this vast body of testimonial evidence shows that people have followed a variety of faiths and worshiped a variety of gods. There is no reason to think that they were all, in fact, worshiping the same underlying god which just happens to be your god.

    When one is reduced to fronting up the fact that the billions and billions of people throughout history (that have at least agreed that a god of some sort exists) have disagreed about how they describe that god as a sound reason to dismiss the idea altogether, then one is obviously being selectively hyperskeptical.

    Like I said, it shows that a lot of people have a strong need for a god not that there is a god.

    If, in a debate about god, one takes the position of agnosticism, when challenged should they not have reasons and reasoning to support their agnosticism? Is “people have historically disagreed in their descriptions of god” really the best you have to offer in terms of supporting a position of agnosticism? In light of all the argument, logic and evidence supporting at least a classical theism god, that is the case you’re making for maintaining a position of agnosticism?

    Strictly speaking, no, there is no reason for agnostics to support their position because they are not asserting a positive claim. They are simply saying that they find the arguments and evidence offered by various believers in support of their own specific beliefs as somewhat less than compelling. In practice, of course, it is intellectually stimulating to examine the evidence and review the arguments and show where, in the agnostics view, they fall short of compulsion.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, when you can find it in you to address what is actually on the table instead of srawman caricatures and selective hyperskepticism, there will be something that rises above inadvertently exposing the bankruptcy, incoherence, intellectual failure and worse that have been on display as representing evolutionary materialism to date. KF

  49. 49
    velikovskys says:

    Wjm:

    Nobody said anything about knowing or not knowing, but rather reasonable belief based on weight of evidence. The weight of evidence is clearly in favor of, at minimum, a classical theistic god.

    A classical theistic God is hardly the minimum belief. It requires claims of knowledge that is not based on the evidence you presented , fine tuning , moral argument.

    One doesn’t have to know something to have a justifiable, provisional belief.

    In many things true, but can belief in God be provisional? Perhaps agnostics have a higher standard ,one either believes or not. But of course lack of belief in God is not saying He does not exist.


    I hardly call holding a provisional belief based on weight of the evidence a “selfish” motivation.

    How one judges the weight of the evidence based on risk and reward is.

  50. 50
    Joe says:

    Antony Flew said DNA was evidence for God.

    Just sayin’

  51. 51

    seversky said:

    The agnostic position on the existence of a god or gods is that the question is undecided, which, in the absence of compelling evidence one way or the other, is the is the only correct and proper response.

    Surely you realize the vagueness of this defense of agnosticism. Who decides if the evidence is “compelling” or not? That term offers you no rational justification for agnosticism; anyone can say that the evidence is not compelling for anything they don’t wish to believe.

    The wide variety of faiths followed by people over the millenia is a good reason to doubt whether any of them are true.

    A variety of perspectives about god is not evidence that god doesn’t exist any more than conflicting descriptions of a perpetrator in a crime indicates that no perpetrator exists. While one may doubt that any of the particular descriptions are true, there are still no grounds to dismiss the idea that a perpetrator exists at all.

    Your conclusion that it is wise to be skeptical of the existence of a perpetrator at all simply because descriptions of the perpetrator conflict is not sound.

    As I argued before, if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there is only one true faith then the overwhelming majority of those personal testimonials are simply wrong.

    You are beginning with an assumption that is predisposed to reach your desired conclusion of agnosticism. Why should we assume there is “one true faith”? That is not the question at hand at all. The question is whether or not theism of some sort is indicated by the evidence, and if the evidence can lead us to rational conclusions about god.

    That a god (perpetrator) of some sort exists is a proposition made more likely by the accumulated testimony of claimed experiencers (witnesses) even if their descriptions vary and even if they conflict.

    Additionally, if a god of some sort (an entity that could be reasonably described by the term “god”) is indicated by additional evidence and through a logical examination of our circumstances (in relation to reasonably proposed god-like qualities of that entity), then the viability of agnosticism lies in whether or not skepticism of that evidence and logic examination is rationally justifiable.

    I don’t see any reason why we should not be able to act as if there is no god.

    I gave you the reasons; did you not see them or are you not willing to make a case that those reasons are (1)not valid assessments of our behavior or (2) not logically tied to a source reasonable characterized as “god”?

    It may be far from perfect but we do have the intelligence to work things out for ourselves. That should not be underestimated.

    Without god as an assumed source of what “perfect” means, what does “perfect” mean when you say it here?

    And we may have no alternative.

    Of course there is an alternative; belief in god.

    They attest to something that isn’t true. You can certainly counter with something along the lines that they are all different perspectives on the same phenomenon but, on its own, it isn’t persuasive, not for me, anyway.

    Anyone can simply claim the evidence and argument isn’t persuasive for them. The question is if they are applying a degree of skepticism (along with a breathtaking refusal to pursue a charitable, “best light” interpretation of testimony) with regard to theism that they do not apply to anything else.

    Would you say that no perpetrator is likely to exist if literally billions of people all agreed that there is a perpetrator (or perpetrators), even if there were conflicting disagreements in the descriptions given?

    Now, what if some of those witnesses were some of the finest minds to ever exist? What if the vast majority of believers agreed on some fundamental aspects of their description? What if other evidence and a logical examination of the testimonial accounts, the evidence at hand and logic applied to the circumstances indicated a vector of certain necessary and likely characteristics of the alleged perpetator?

    The alleged need for God to ground morality sounds too much like trying to annexe that moral high ground for your own particular faith. Since, according to the Bible, your God seems reluctant to reveal the detailed reasoning behind His moral injunctions, we are left with an unasnwered question as to whether they are, indeed, the product of a rational process or were they decided on a whim?

    First, I’m not a Christian nor am I affiliated with any particular religion. Second, I’m not making a case that non-Christianity is an insupportable position.

    Third, the moral argument has nothing to do with any particular religion’s view of what is and is not “moral”. The moral argument is that no version of morality is rationally sustainable unless there is an assumption that morality refers to an objectively existent commodity – an “is” (an objective purpose or goal) which can account for the existence of self-evidently true “oughts” (such as the wrongness of gratuitous child torture) which compel sane humans to act and intervene even if their own lives are at risk.

    No version of morality is meaningful of gratuitous child torture can be moral; therefore morality is not subjective in nature. We cannot behave as if morality is subjective or preferential; we behave as if we have both the right and the obligation, in certain instances, to intervene in the behaviors of others on account of the moral right.

    Objective morality can only exist if there is an objective purpose to our existence, which can only be attributed to a being reasonably referred to as “god”.

    Besides, my counter to the accusation that atheists have no grounds for moral claims is to ask the accusers if they are seriously admitting that they would have no idea that, for example, murder or torture or rape are wrong unless God had told them?

    The pity is that you don’t recognize the damning nature of what you just wrote; without assuming an objective source of morality, how can you say that murder and torture and rape “are wrong” in any sense other than “for me, personally” or “in my particular culture”?

    Atheists have no logically justifiable grounds for calling what anyone else does “wrong” in any meaningful sense, much less intervening in the affairs of others on moral grounds. However, this is not to say that atheists are more immoral than theists; the point is they have no rationally coherent means of justifying their moral behavior. They behave like moral objectivists.

    If, on the other hand, they are the product of reason, what is to prevent us as – occasionally – reasonable beings from working these things out for ourselves?

    Morality (what one ought and ought not do) cannot be the product of reason because it requires something reason cannot provide; a goal or purpose, or self-evidently and necessarily true moral statements.

    On the subjective side, one can reason from a goal or purpose to evaluate what they ought or ought not do, but the goal or purpose cannot be provided by reason without question begging. If morality refers to subjective goals and purposes, then anytyhing can be moral and our interventions in the affairs of others take the form of might/manipulation makes right, which is self-evidently immoral.

    I would argue that believers cannot review all the evidence objectively and without prejudice because they are unable to see it except through the filter of their own personal faith.

    Bias is a problem for everyone, including agnostics. So? That doesn’t give the agnostic any greater footing in the debate about evidence and argument.

    On its face, this vast body of testimonial evidence shows that people have followed a variety of faiths and worshiped a variety of gods. There is no reason to think that they were all, in fact, worshiping the same underlying god which just happens to be your god.

    The question at hand has nothing to do with worshipping any particular conceptualization of god, what any particular faith says, nor whether or not the god I conceptualize is “the” god that everyone else was/is referring to.

    The question is if the weight of evidence at hand/to date indicates an entity more likely than not exists that can reasonably be characterized as “god”. By “reasonably characterized”, I mean (1) Necessary ground of being as first cause/unmoved mover, (2) Necessary ground for a rational morality as having imbued existence with necessary (not arbitrary or whimsical) purpose from which objective morality can be logically derived, explaining how/why humans must act as if morality is objective; (3) source of conscious intent/libertarian free will which is necessarily detached from material cause-and-effect; (4) source of immaterial, abstract absolutes such as the principles of logic and fundamental mathematics as characteristics of its being.

    Like I said, it shows that a lot of people have a strong need for a god not that there is a god.

    Can you not see that this interpretation of the testimonial evidence is simply loaded with bias.

    What is this assessment based on other than the contradictory nature of their testimony? Is everyone who provides contradictory testimony guilty of interpreting their experience according to what they “need to believe”? Is it your “need to believe” that drives your perspective that the divergent testimony of billions is driven by psychological need and not more simply the error of subjective perception/interpretation which is common for testimonial accounts given by observers/experiencers?

    Strictly speaking, no, there is no reason for agnostics to support their position because they are not asserting a positive claim.

    They do if they are asserting that agnosticism is a reasonable position given the evidence at hand. That is a positive claim.

    They are simply saying that they find the arguments and evidence offered by various believers in support of their own specific beliefs as somewhat less than compelling.

    I don’t doubt that you find the evidence less than compelling; the problem you face is rationally justifying why you find the evidence less than compelling without resorting to selective hyperskepticism.

  52. 52

    AS said:

    But an argument is not evidence of anything.

    Wikipedia says:

    Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion.

    The Free Dictionary says:

    A thing or set of things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment

    Arguments are definitely presented in support of the assertion and helpful in forming a conclusion. Perhaps you have simply personally decided to define logical arguments as “not evidence”?

    And where I have seen such alleged arguments, such as the”Ontological” arguments always appear to miss out the bit that goes from Et voilà, Dieu to mon Dieu. Why these logical gods fit the premise of whatever god is being “proved”.

    My point isn’t about supporting the belief in any particular god, but rather in supporting theism over non-theism. Those arguments support my case in theism vs non-theism.

    “Fine-tuning” is an interpretation of facts we observe about the universe that is visible to us. It is an argument and not a convincing one.

    All evidence is an interpretation of facts in light of a theory or proposition. So? The fine-tuning facts can be reasonably interpreted in light of a theistic proposition. And all evidence is argued to support one theory, proposition or another.

    It’s circular.

    The question is whether or not it is testimonial. It is not.

    I keep suggesting that, so far, no evidence other than testimony, has been presented for the existence of a particular god, or gods in general.

    Of course it has; logical arguments, which are certainly a form of evidence, have been tendered. The fine-tuning evidence, which is certainly not testimonial in nature, has been offered. All you are doing is simply redefining all non-testimonial evidence provided here as “non-evidence” and then reiterating that no non-testimonial evidence has breen provided.

  53. 53

    AS said:

    The justification is the absence of evidence. Why do you asume that we have to start with denying gods. You are welcome to believe in your version of god. It has no evidential support so I don’t need to challenge it.

    There is no absence of evidence. There is a mountain of evidence that a god of some sort exists even if large swathes of the testimonial evidence is in many respects conflicting. There is considerable evidence that a god with at least certain logically necessary and well-evidenced attributes exists.

    If you do not wish to accept the challenge of defending non-theism, why are you attempting to do so?

  54. 54
    velikovskys says:

    Wjm:

    Surely you realize the vagueness of this defense of agnosticism. Who decides if the evidence is “compelling” or not?

    It seems you do if we take your statement as evidence
    “For an intelligent, honest, informed person, agnosticism can only be a form of self-deception.”

    That term offers you no rational justification for agnosticism; anyone can say that the evidence is not compelling for anything they don’t wish to believe.

    Or likewise the evidence is compelling for something they wish to believe.

  55. 55

    AS asks:

    Ah, but which one should we pick?

    Which (if any) particular, detailed conceptualization of god is most likely true, or which characteristics are justifiably attributed to god, would be an investigation one could carry out after one has concluded that theism is likely true in the first place.

    However, dismissing theism categorically because one finds certain particular characterizations of god one is familiar with unappealing or unsound is a logical error, especially when theism itself, in general, is supported by a large volume of various kinds of evidence.

  56. 56

    velikovskys said:

    Or likewise the evidence is compelling for something they wish to believe.

    Which is why comparing ones consideration of the evidence to how one considers other, similar kinds (and amounts) of evidence is a good idea to see if there lies a great disparity between how one arrives at and justifies their position. IOW, do they discount similar kinds of evidence in other matter? Do they reach similar conclusions about the evidence in other matters? Is their agnosticism similar in other matters?

    AS said:

    Just give me one bit of evidence for any god; evidence that is not personal or related testimony.

    Already have; that you redefine scientific (fine-tuning) and logical argument evidence as non-evidence is not my problem.

    I can’t accept this. How can a claim for the existence of god*(version A) be support for a claim for the existence of a god* (version B).

    This is a misrepresentation; I have argued that testimonial evidence for god (version A) and testimonial evidence for god (version B) are both evidence for god, just not for the conflicting version. In the same manner, testimonial evidence for perpetrator (version A, say a male) and perpetrator (version B, ay female) is not evidence that there was no perpetrator at all, but rather that one of the witnesses is mistaken or perhaps the actual perpetrator has a quality that explains the apparent contradiction (is androgynous).

    But this gives us nothing other than the word “god”. From there it is just an unconnected leap to YHWH, Allah, Krishna or whichever sectarian god one has been brought up to believe culturally.

    It gives you much more than the “word” god; it gives you a characteristic (source of objective morality, as in providing an existential purpose “is” that can adequately ground self-evidently true “oughts”) that can be reasonably considered the province of an entity we would refer to as “god”.

    This is why the admission of logical arguments is so important; if you deny what is logically necessary to explain a thing as evidence that the explanation is likely true, then you are agreeing that your position has no rational basis. You cannot claim your position is rational if you agree to X and then deny what is logically necessary for X, and if by denying X your position devolves into self-referential absurdity.

  57. 57

    AS said:

    And how am I to decide that? How am I to decide between what someone has imagined or made up and, well, what someone else has imagined or made up?

    I thought you didn’t judge people? Aren’t you now judging that people have “made up” or “imagined” their concept of god?

    How can I test the claim against reality when everone seems so keen to avoid entailments that can be tested?

    Why would you assume that you are capable of such a test in the first place if non-theism is true? Do you imagine that happenstance collisions of matter have somehow imbued in you the capacity to comprehend “reality” and further, be capable of adequately testing claims against it? And further that such collisions have imbued in almost everyone else throughout history the mistaken notion that a god or gods of any sort exist? How fortunate you are!

    What would the entailments be of a god that created this universe specifically so that sentient, intelligent life could exist with the capacity for free will moral choice? Would the universe show signs of fine-tuning? Would the universe necessarily be fundamentally adherent to the basic characteristics of god, including the purpose for which it was created? Would humans be able to perceive via some perceptive capacity, such as conscience, an objectively existent moral landscape that reflected that purpose? Would there be self-evidently true moral statements derivable by any sane, reasonably sentient/intelligent human regardless of their culture or upbringing? Would any sane human feel a moral obligation to intervene in such moral matters, like gratuitous child torture, even at the risk of their own personal safety?

    To facilitate their free will capacity, would not humans be capable of denying **anything**, including self-evidently true moral statements, the principles of logic, and statements that would be true in any possible universe (error exists, 1+1=2, A=A). In such a universe created by such a god, would it be impossible to tender arguments as if such god-specific premises are not true (because the fabric and structure of reality would demand it), even though one could personally deny it?

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    I’ll add to this list: If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

    All of these necessary assumptions inexorably lead back to a source/explanation/grounding that can reasonably be referred to as “god”.

  58. 58

    AS askes:

    There you go again with the “large volume of evidence”. Could we try and focus one one actual genuine piece of evidence that you found convincing?

    No single bit of evidence moved me from atheism to theism. It was a process that began with the decision to honestly try to figure out a way to see theists as my equals instead of feeling a deep, ridiculing condescension towards them. Over a long period of time, lots of new information and many realizations later, I’m as convinced as I can be that there is a god at least in terms of a classical theism as well as in terms of some modern, non-religious spiritual thought (the latter primarily driven by personal experience).

  59. 59

    In 75 I said: “Would there be self-evidently true moral statements derivable by any sane, reasonably sentient/intelligent human regardless of their culture or upbringing?”

    What I should have said is: “Would there be self-evidently true moral statements apprehended as such by any sane, reasonably sentient/intelligent human regardless of their culture or upbringing?”

  60. 60
    velikovskys says:

    Wjm:
    Which is why comparing ones consideration of the evidence to how one considers other, similar kinds (and amounts) of evidence is a good idea to see if there lies a great disparity between how one arrives at and justifies their position.

    Is that what you did here?
    “For an intelligent, honest, informed person, agnosticism can only be a form of self-deception.”

    You are asserting that whether there is a disparity or not, agnosticism can only be form of self deception

    IOW, do they discount similar kinds of evidence in other matter? Do they reach similar conclusions about the evidence in other matters? Is their agnosticism similar in other matters?

    Go ahead if you feel it is necessary as long as you subject those who believe that the evidence is compelling to the same scrutiny Are they as accepting of other evidence as they demand of others? Was the source of the belief the evidence or some other factors? Are those factors of more importance to maintaining the belief than evidence?

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers,

    notice who is actually presenting a serious case and who is evasive, playing redefinition and dismissal games, etc. The one that arguments are not evidence when such normally are used to present evidence and discuss its import, drawing conclusions hints at an underlying want of rationality in the objector position.

    And, the astute onlooker would be well advised to note that the force of the modal ontological-moral cluster of arguments is cumulative. (Which BTW is where the ropes vs chains comparison is conceptually helpful; there was an attempt above to brush this aside as though it were irrelevant.)

    And, as MO is valid, with just one key proposition that is open to debate, the force of the issue is not so much, see, we “prove” God to the unwilling, but that — first — you face issues of grounding and/or acknowledging morality other than on the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    Linked to that, there is the issue that God is a serious candidate necessary being — start with, eternality. On the logic involved, such will be either impossible or actual.

    So, to reject or dismiss God is to imply that God is either impossible or contingent. The latter is not a serious view.

    So, atheism, in whatever form, carries a burden of proof to back its implication that God is impossible. And remember, here, we are not dealing with religious traditions — the obsession with trying to debate such is simply barking up the wrong tree — but with philosophy of being and linked logic. Where we need a causally adequate root of a world in which we have morally governed creatures, us. An infinite regress of matter-energy entities and/or quasi-infinite array of such in a grand material multiverse just does not make that grade. (And that’s before we get to responsible freedom sufficient to ground a genuinely reasoning and knowing mind. Which even objectors imply having by coming here to argue.)

    The above thread and previous discussions, per fair comment, show a disturbing lack of seriousness regarding such.

    When that is then joined to sneering dismissiveness of ethical theism as a worldview, the overall effect is snobbish and sophomorically bombastic.

    Not good.

    But, going back, it is eminently reasonable for people to take voice of conscience seriously as showing we are under moral government, pointing to a world foundational IS capable of grounding OUGHT. For which, there is one serious candidate.

    Then, on exploring being — on literally a world of evidence — one sees that a serious candidate necessary being will be either impossible or actual. There being no serious reason to think God impossible, there is good reason to hold him to be actual.

    And, such thinking on inherently good creator, a necessary and maximally great being, the IS who grounds OUGHT then allows us to responsibly assess religious claims as well as other worldviews.

    And, ethical theism in the Judaeo-Christian tradition is plainly responsible.

    So much for brand A vs brand B talking points, they are sophomoric.

    Where also, obviously if a world full of evidence and linked reasonable reflection are being used, it is irresponsible to toss off no evidence talking points or pretend that no evidence has been adduced.

    KF

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    I’ll add to this list: If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

    And yes these all cry out for adequate cause.

    KF

    I see you have extended this gem.

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    I can’t decide between stories as there is never any supporting evidence and conflicting stories can’t all be true. I think it is a fairly common trait among people to invent stories to fill gaps in knowledge.

    False, and the OP lays out just why.

    I suggest you read here on in context, or you can start by actually really watching the embedded vids in the OP with an open mind.

    You are dismissing evidence that is in reasonable reach, and are revealing much about underlying mindset and attitude to epistemic duties of care.

    The Morison challenge, you need to face:

    [N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus’ resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . .

    Why did it win? . . . .

    We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 – 115.]

    KF

  64. 64
    Popperian says:

    KF: I draw your attention to the OP,and its first infographic, on worldview roots.

    You mean the infographic that starts with Arguments (and Worldviews) need to be grounded, in finitely remote First Plausables and ends with A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or no we would phrase the matter that way? If so, that’s precisely what part of the OP that caught my attention and presents the false dilemma that Bartley criticizes.

    One could say that Arguments (and Worldviews) need to be grounded, in finitely remote First Plausables is itself a world view because it’s an idea about how the world works. IOW, all of your arguments that suggest a belief in God is warranted fall under the same criticism of the epistemological idea that any knowledge is somehow warranted. So would any argument that moral knowledge is objectively founded on God.

    Note: this is not to say that I think knowledge doesn’t exist or that Evolution isn’t the best explanation for the concrete features of organisms in our biosphere. I can agree with someone’s conclusion without agreeing with how they reached it. So, I would say that, “yes.”, evolutionary theory isn’t warranted. But that’s a red herring, as nothing is warranted.

    Since you seem to think the criticism does not apply to you, let me illustrate that it does.

    First, you wrote:

    KF: There is no need to abandon knowledge, or to despair of being able in many cases to say of what is that it is or of what is not that it is not . . . truth.

    However, this paints me as holding the first attitude: a disappointed justificationst. Yet, I’ve clearly indicated I’m in the third attitude: critical preference. If the criticism presented doesn’t apply to you, by what other means did you get to the same place? And despair? What I want from ideas are their contents (their ability to solve problems), not their providence. As a foundationailst, the absence of the latter might cause you despair, but that’s your problem, not mine.

    Second, you wrote:

    KF: You will observe that per the principle of comparative difficulties across worldview alternatives, the issues of potential infinite regress and of circularity are addressed.

    Yet, you speak of first plausibles, which is foundationalism. So you haven’t addressed the criticism. What you’ve presented is what Bartley calls “conscientious objections” to open mindedness about how the world works. Namely, open mindedness about knowledge itself, how it grows, etc. That’s what the entire field of epistemology is about.

    Bartley: This dilemma creates ‘conscientious objections’ to open-mindedness because a logical chain of argument apparently justifies resistance to counter arguments by suggesting that the only way out of the infinite regress is to place an arbitrary limit on criticism at some point: ‘Here I stand’. To the despair of people who believe in reason, their opponents can defeat the principle of open-ended criticism and debate on impeccably logical grounds, simply by pointing to the problem of the infinite regress.

    This is the false dilemma which is implied when you wrote:

    KF: There is no need to abandon knowledge, or to despair of being able in many cases to say of what is that it is or of what is not that it is not . . . truth.

    But I’m not suggesting that we abandon knowledge. Again, that suggests I’m a disappointed justificationist.

    Next you quoted..

    John Lock: Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them…

    The things Lock describes as “fit” for us would represent knowledge about how the world works, which Lock ascribes it to God. And the idea that we must disbelieve everything without certainty is the same false dilemma.

    From this article on uncertainty.

    The theory of knowledge is a tightrope that is the only path from A to B, with a long, hard drop for anyone who steps off on one side into “knowledge is impossible, progress is an illusion” or on the other side into “I must be right, or at least probably right.” Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.

    KF: Of course, on the other hand, there is something profound that is too often scanted. Self-evident, foundational truth.

    Such as, per Josiah Royce, error exists. If you want, the set that collects errors is non-empty.

    To see how this is undeniably true, try to deny it. Immediately, this instantiates an error, showing the matter to be undeniably so on pain of absurdity.

    I’m suggesting there are no self-evident, foundational truths. For if they were self-evident, they would be immune from criticism, which is how knowledge grows. This includes the idea that “set that collects errors is non-empty.” We’ve reached the same conclusion by different means. Nor do I see it as foundational. the From the same article….

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    I’m suggesting that, what we really do, we adopt ideas that have best withstood criticism. Including the idea that there are no infallible sources. An explanation that plays a significant part in a number of other explanations can be “foundational” without being immune from criticism.

    A problem with intelligent design theory is that it doesn’t actually solve the problem at hand. A designer that “just was”, complete with the knowledge of how to build biological organism, serves no explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared” complete with the knowledge of how to build those same concrete biological adaptations, already present. Neither actually explain the origin of that knowledge. It’s just moved from one place (in the designer) to another (the genome of the organism.)

    Bartley’s criticism applies because the designer is an authoritative source of knowledge, which is a foundational, and for which you think the above criticism does not apply.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    P: busy just now, will come back. But for now, explain to us how error exists — the set that collects errors is non-empty — is not undeniably so. KF

  66. 66
    Cross says:

    Popperian @ 83

    “A problem with intelligent design theory is that it doesn’t actually solve the problem at hand. A designer that “just was”, complete with the knowledge of how to build biological organism, serves no explanatory purpose.”

    ID theory’s purpose is to show life is designed rather than just appearing designed. Knowledge of the designer is not required for ID.

    Many of the evo/materialist posters on this site have no problem espousing “dirt to man” evolution without any idea how life began ie OOL. In the same way, knowledge of the designer is not required to show that life is designed.

    The “problem” is not knowledge of the designer but the design. Knowledge of the designer is a spiritual/philosophical problem.

    Cheers

  67. 67
    velikovskys says:

    Cross:

    The “problem” is not knowledge of the designer but the design

    Then how did the design come to be material?

    Knowledge of the designer is a spiritual/philosophical problem.

    To know that is a spiritual problem is to know who the designer is. So the problem is easier,how did the divine do it? What is the first step?

  68. 68
    Cross says:

    velikovskys @ 86

    I wrote” ID theory’s purpose is to show life is designed rather than just appearing designed. Knowledge of the designer is not required for ID.”

    Knowledge of the designer is not required for ID theory in the same way as lack of knowledge of the origin of life does not stop the proponents of the materialist/evolution theory.

    “Then how did the design come to be material?”

    It wasn’t me so I don’t know, I could just as easily ask you how dead chemicals became reproducing life?

    “To know that is a spiritual problem is to know who the designer is. So the problem is easier,how did the divine do it? What is the first step?”

    I could answer you from my own personal faith as a Christian but the purpose of my post was that for ID theory it is not required. Some ID’ers believe the designer is the Christian God, others don’t, it’s not relevant to the detection of design. That is why I said it was a spiritual/philosophical problem, not everyone thinks it is a spiritual question or anything to do with God.

    Cheers

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, while a design discussion is generally relevant at UD, this thread is about a deeper concern. Serious contempt and dismissiveness has been consistently directed to those who hold to theism, including accusations of in effect stubborn irrationality, i.e. potentially dangerous delusion. In answer, ontological-moral frames of thought at worldview foundation level have been put on the table in a context of also clarifying what evidence is. I would appreciate it if discussion were to orbit around those themes consistently rather than run off on successive tangents. KF

    PS: A major comeback to loaded accusations in parliament y/day (with I think the 6th day’s sitting this month coming up today), but that means my focus is still elsewhere. Archimedean points, kairos, pistis and shoestring into snowball strategic moments. All in a context of three moves ahead multi-level, multi-direction strategic chess boards.

    PPS: Popperian, when I can, I will come back to you on points, but the “error exists” [= the set that collects errors is necessarily non empty] case of self-evident truth with worldview foundational implications is still on the table. Is it undeniably true, on pain of instantiation of its truth through the attempted denial? I hold yes and we can see why readily. Thus, the set of self evident truths is non empty. Where, this is a case of knowledge that is foundational and self-evidently undeniably certain, a plumbline truth. On it, any scheme that implies utter relativisation of truth and/or knowledge is fatally flawed. And, it shows part of how one may have a framework of finitely remote first plausibles that are a basis for confident, reliable knowledge and action. And alleged immunity from criticism is fatally ambiguous. Any claim can be denied or critiqued, ridiculed and made to look or sound foolish. But that has nothing to do with its soundness. In this case, error exists is immediately seen to be fully justified, true and credible just from the direct consequence of immediate denial. That is, once understood, it is self-supporting to the point that its rejection lands in patent absurdity. But, one lesson of the ID debates, is that ever so many devotees of selective hyperskepticism and zero concessions rhetoric will willingly cling to the absurd.

    PPPS: Knowledge grows by good warrant and humble docility before evident truth and cogent reason, not by surrender to the hyperskeptical.

  70. 70
    velikovskys says:

    Cross:
    It wasn’t me so I don’t know, I could just as easily ask you how dead chemicals became reproducing life?

    You could but I wasn’t referring to the origin of life, unless every design we see was created from non life by divine fiat.

    I could answer you from my own personal faith as a Christian but the purpose of my post was that for ID theory it is not required. Some ID’ers believe the designer is the Christian God, others don’t, it’s not relevant to the detection of design.

    It could be, an omnipotent designer has a wider option of choices and goals than an finite being.

    That is why I said it was a spiritual/philosophical problem, not everyone thinks it is a spiritual question or anything to do with God.

    It just doesn’t seem like a philosophical issue in determining how my computer was designed. “Why”perhaps might be.

  71. 71

    Popperian argues as if logic was a valid foundational method by which an anti-foundationalist can build and arbit statements as either true or false:

    I’m suggesting there are no self-evident, foundational truths. For if they were self-evident, they would be immune from criticism, which is how knowledge grows.

    Yet, how would one examine the logical necessity of the conclusion from the premise if not by some of the very “self-evident, foundational” truths he argues against? Does it actually, logically follow that just because a truth is self-evident, one cannot criticise it?

    Of course not; anyone can criticize any statement – even, “I exist”, or “I experience”, or “there are no 4-sided triangles”. If one means “criticize” in terms of a valid logical criticism, then one is again employing foundational tools and methodology.

    Anyone can deny any statement no matter how necessarily or self-evidently true, even “error exists”, even though it means certain self-refutation and absurdity.

    Popperian makes his case against foundationalism using foundationalist tools and practices and necessarily assuming their validity while expecting others to submit to that very validity. Otherwise, if we are free (as anti-foundationalism indicates) to continue believing that which we prefer, why make the case at all? Why bring what is nothing more than rhetoric to a debate where no one is bound by fondationalist principles and expectations to bend their beliefs to that which is proven valid and true?

    Any rational case against foundationalism requires the use tools and tactics that require foundationalism for them to have any merit.

    If A=A is not held to be a self-evident, fundamental truth, nobody here has any arguments worth considering.

  72. 72

    A problem with intelligent design theory is that it doesn’t actually solve the problem at hand.

    That depends on what you think the “problem at hand” is.

  73. 73
    JD Welbel says:

    Why does it seem that an agnostic standpoint appears so frowned upon during discussions on this topic? It has always, and still does seem the most intellectually honest position for me. In my experience, no amount of perceived evidence ever satisfies anyone who has already decided what they are certain of.

  74. 74
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 66

    Surely you realize the vagueness of this defense of agnosticism. Who decides if the evidence is “compelling” or not? That term offers you no rational justification for agnosticism; anyone can say that the evidence is not compelling for anything they don’t wish to believe.

    I decide whether or not I find the evidence compelling, just as you do. Much as you and kf would like to make belief in a god as certain as the result of an equation, there is no formula by which the persuasive power of an argument or evidence can be calculated. If it were we would not be having this discusssion. Certainly, people can stonewall by denying that proffered argument or evidence is compelling. Just as believers will not allow discrepancies, inconsistencies and contradictions in their theology to make the slightest dent in their conviction. Argument will not move people out of entrenched positions on either side. All we can hope is that it will reach those who are prepared to hear and consider both sides without fear or favor.

    A variety of perspectives about god is not evidence that god doesn’t exist any more than conflicting descriptions of a perpetrator in a crime indicates that no perpetrator exists. While one may doubt that any of the particular descriptions are true, there are still no grounds to dismiss the idea that a perpetrator exists at all.

    There are if we can find no evidence that a crime was committed let alone that there was a perpetrator.

    Your conclusion that it is wise to be skeptical of the existence of a perpetrator at all simply because descriptions of the perpetrator conflict is not sound.

    If the police received reports from a number of people claiming to have witnessed a crime being committed they would be bound to investigate. But if they found no evidence of an offense and, hence, no offender to track down they would be left with a number of conflicting eyewitness accounts and little else. Most probably they would leave the eyewitness accounts on file along with a report of their investigation which concluded that there was insufficient evidence to show a crime had been committed so no further action was required at that time.

    You are beginning with an assumption that is predisposed to reach your desired conclusion of agnosticism. Why should we assume there is “one true faith”? That is not the question at hand at all. The question is whether or not theism of some sort is indicated by the evidence, and if the evidence can lead us to rational conclusions about god.

    That a god (perpetrator) of some sort exists is a proposition made more likely by the accumulated testimony of claimed experiencers (witnesses) even if their descriptions vary and even if they conflict.

    So what you’re saying is that the identity of the god is irrelevant. If you were in the business of worshiping something, it wouldn’t really matter if it was Zeus, Bastet or Laetitia? It wouldn’t have to be the Christian God at all?

    Additionally, if a god of some sort (an entity that could be reasonably described by the term “god”) is indicated by additional evidence and through a logical examination of our circumstances (in relation to reasonably proposed god-like qualities of that entity), then the viability of agnosticism lies in whether or not skepticism of that evidence and logic examination is rationally justifiable.

    I don’t see any reason why we should not be able to act as if there is no god.

    I gave you the reasons; did you not see them or are you not willing to make a case that those reasons are (1)not valid assessments of our behavior or (2) not logically tied to a source reasonable characterized as “god”?

    You mean

    Also, no sane person can act as if there is no god. We all must act as if morality is an objective commodity, as if mind is primary and as if we have free will. Those things cannot be supported without reference to god. We all must act as if there is sufficient and necessary cause, which requires an uncaused cause or unmoved mover.

    What utter nonsense! Of course we can act as if there is no god. Objective morality is an absurdity. Not one person here has been able to give a satisfactory account of how moral precepts can possibly exist apart from the conscious mind of intelligent agents such as ourselves. And I certainly don’t regard shared ideas as being objective. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot act morally by rules we have worked out for ourselves. Other cultures have done so without the benefit of the Christian God’s sometimes dubious moral prescriptions.

    As for free will, as I’ve argued before, if your God exists and has knowledge of the future then that is what scuppers any chance of free will. If He knows what is to happen then it will happen and we just fulfill that destiny whether we like it or not.

    And the dilemma of an infinite regress versus an uncaused first cause is irrelevant.

    Also, no sane person can act as if there is no god. We all must act as if morality is an objective commodity, as if mind is primary and as if we have free will. Those things cannot be supported without reference to god. We all must act as if there is sufficient and necessary cause, which requires an uncaused cause or unmoved mover.

    Without god as an assumed source of what “perfect” means, what does “perfect” mean when you say it here?

    Unchanging, Without error. Never changes ones mind. What does it mean to you?

    Of course there is an alternative; belief in god.

    I don’t think the OT God is somebody I want to believe in.

    Anyone can simply claim the evidence and argument isn’t persuasive for them. The question is if they are applying a degree of skepticism (along with a breathtaking refusal to pursue a charitable, “best light” interpretation of testimony) with regard to theism that they do not apply to anything else.

    Maybe. Or maybe they are applying an appropriate degree of skepticism to the claims of Christianity, for example, and concluding that while there is little doubt that many people have a deep-seated need for their faith and are honest in their conviction it is true and that their experiences are genuine, there are too many issues, particularly in the Old Testament, to be ignored.

    Would you say that no perpetrator is likely to exist if literally billions of people all agreed that there is a perpetrator (or perpetrators), even if there were conflicting disagreements in the descriptions given?

    Not if the overwhelming majority of these accounts were not from eyewitnesses, not if there was no way to verify the eyewitness accounts and not if there is no other evidence apart from those accounts.

    Now, what if some of those witnesses were some of the finest minds to ever exist? What if the vast majority of believers agreed on some fundamental aspects of their description? What if other evidence and a logical examination of the testimonial accounts, the evidence at hand and logic applied to the circumstances indicated a vector of certain necessary and likely characteristics of the alleged perpetator?

    Even the finest people make mistakes and lie if they believe they are justified in doing so. Not all witness accounts are equal. Eyewitness accounts carry greater weight than second-hand reports and even there we now have good reason to be cautious as we have experimental evidence that human beings make poor witnesses.

    Third, the moral argument has nothing to do with any particular religion’s view of what is and is not “moral”. The moral argument is that no version of morality is rationally sustainable unless there is an assumption that morality refers to an objectively existent commodity – an “is” (an objective purpose or goal) which can account for the existence of self-evidently true “oughts” (such as the wrongness of gratuitous child torture) which compel sane humans to act and intervene even if their own lives are at risk.

    Many versions of morality are “rationally sustainable” but none by appeal to grounding on an “is”. The is/ought gap is unbridgeable. The fact that in some species the male can eat his own young is no reason why we should do likewise.

    No version of morality is meaningful of gratuitous child torture can be moral; therefore morality is not subjective in nature. We cannot behave as if morality is subjective or preferential; we behave as if we have both the right and the obligation, in certain instances, to intervene in the behaviors of others on account of the moral right.

    Any reference to “meaningful” always raises the unspoken question of “meaningful to whom?”. I neither recognize nor accept any morality that permits gratuitous child torture and neither, I think, would most other people.

    Are we unable to know what is right or wrong except where we are told by a god what it is? Are you? Did you accept that anything was right when you were an atheist? Dare I say, Euthyphro dilemma?

    Objective morality can only exist if there is an objective purpose to our existence, which can only be attributed to a being reasonably referred to as “god”.

    A purpose can only be conceived in the mind of an intelligent agent. So you could say God’s purpose gives meaning to life to Him, but why should that purpose be important to you? What makes you think you are a part of that purpose? What makes you think it might be beneficial to you? And, as an intelligent agent yourself you are surely capable of conceiving your own purposes, so why should yours be any less significant?

    The pity is that you don’t recognize the damning nature of what you just wrote; without assuming an objective source of morality, how can you say that murder and torture and rape “are wrong” in any sense other than “for me, personally” or “in my particular culture”?

    Atheists have no logically justifiable grounds for calling what anyone else does “wrong” in any meaningful sense, much less intervening in the affairs of others on moral grounds. However, this is not to say that atheists are more immoral than theists; the point is they have no rationally coherent means of justifying their moral behavior. They behave like moral objectivists.

    I would argue that nobody has logically justifiable grounds for morality unless you accept what the majority agree is in their best interests, which is something they have to decide for themselves. What other authority or foundation is there? Divivne command? That’s just another opinion. What reason do we have for thinking it’s any better than our own?

    The question is if the weight of evidence at hand/to date indicates an entity more likely than not exists that can reasonably be characterized as “god”. By “reasonably characterized”, I mean (1) Necessary ground of being as first cause/unmoved mover, (2) Necessary ground for a rational morality as having imbued existence with necessary (not arbitrary or whimsical) purpose from which objective morality can be logically derived, explaining how/why humans must act as if morality is objective; (3) source of conscious intent/libertarian free will which is necessarily detached from material cause-and-effect; (4) source of immaterial, abstract absolutes such as the principles of logic and fundamental mathematics as characteristics of its being.

    For me, nowhere near.

    What is this assessment based on other than the contradictory nature of their testimony? Is everyone who provides contradictory testimony guilty of interpreting their experience according to what they “need to believe”? Is it your “need to believe” that drives your perspective that the divergent testimony of billions is driven by psychological need and not more simply the error of subjective perception/interpretation which is common for testimonial accounts given by observers/experiencers?

    If you are weighing the body of testimonial evidence concerning a god, not only must you take account of the inconsistencies, discrepancies and contradictions but you must also consider testimony arguably against the existence of such a being. All those who sought their god’s help but found none forthcoming, even in the most dire of circumstances. Testimony and evidence cocncerning the lethal – to us – nature of the vast majority of this universe, regardless of how fine-tuned fundamental physical constants might be. Fine-tuned for something, maybe, but it takes a peculiarly parochial view of the cosmos to think it was for us.

  75. 75
    JD Welbel says:

    Thank you, Seversky, for directing me to the part of this discussion which covers my inquiry. I found WJM’s criminal perpetrator analogy amusing. For me, a comfort with uncertainty is desirable. I do, however, see possible evidence all around me, all the time which my sensory instruments and central nervous system orchestrate into what could easily be described as God. I choose to keep my metaphoric options open for my own enjoyment. I am no anti-theist by any stretch of the imagination and i certainly would not prescribe “not-knowing” for anyone but myself.

  76. 76
    velikovskys says:

    seversky:

    As for free will, as I’ve argued before, if your God exists and has knowledge of the future then that is what scuppers any chance of free will. If He knows what is to happen then it will happen and we just fulfill that destiny whether we like it or not.

    As I understand the solution , God knows all the possible futures for all possible choices. His knowledge does not foreordain the outcome because He knows all outcomes. Omniscience is handy that way.

  77. 77

    Seversky said:

    So what you’re saying is that the identity of the god is irrelevant. If you were in the business of worshiping something, it wouldn’t really matter if it was Zeus, Bastet or Laetitia? It wouldn’t have to be the Christian God at all?

    Nobody said anything about worshipping any god. My argument is about theism and the evidence for at least a classical-theism god, as I’ve said repeatedly.

    As for free will, as I’ve argued before, if your God exists and has knowledge of the future then that is what scuppers any chance of free will. If He knows what is to happen then it will happen and we just fulfill that destiny whether we like it or not.

    I didn’t say anything about god knowing the future.

    Unchanging, Without error. Never changes ones mind. What does it mean to you?

    So when you claim people can act like there is no god in the three ways I mentioned, I assume you mean their behavior is not perfect; not perfect according to what arbiter of “perfect” behavior? By what ruler is any human act measured as being closer or farther from some “unchanging, error-free” goal or example, as you say?

    I don’t think the OT God is somebody I want to believe in.

    I haven’t even mentioned the OT God. I don’t believe in the OT or the NT god. Why do you keep bringing up the christian god (or its claimed attributes) in an argument where I have repeatedly said this is only about theism and the more basic, classical-theism attributes?

    Are we unable to know what is right or wrong except where we are told by a god what it is? Are you? Did you accept that anything was right when you were an atheist? Dare I say, Euthyphro dilemma?

    Of course we are able to discern what is right and wrong via our conscience whether we are atheist, agnostic or theist. The question is whether or not we live and act as if the conscience is subjectively perceiving and interpreting a subjective phenomena, or as if it is subjectively perceiving and interpreting an objective phenomena. If the former, then morality is entirely subjective and torturing children for fun is in principle as moral as sacrificing your safety to save those children. We do not behave as if our conscience is subjectively perceiving an entirely subjective “feeling” or “preference”.

    If, however, morality refers to an unchangeable (even by god) intrinsic characteristic of god (good), and if that quality of god is necessarily infused into whatever god creates, then there would indeed be what I call a “moral landscape” that objectively exists in our experience which we access via our conscience. We don’t need god to tell us what is right and wrong any more than we need god to tell us that A=A, that there are no 4-sided triangles, and that 1+1=2. We don’t need god to tell us that it is wrong to torture children for fun; it is self-evidently wrong, whether others agree or not.

    There is no Euthyphro Dilemma in the above Natural Law morality scenario. Command morality (as if god could command X to be moral one minute and immoral the next) is as empty and self-defeating as the idea of subjective morality, where anything can be moral, depending on the individual’s presonal perspective.

    So you could say God’s purpose gives meaning to life to Him, but why should that purpose be important to you?

    I didn’t say it was. That’s an entirely different conversation; my point was to show that there is a sound, worldview means to have an objective “is” (purpose of creation sewn into the fabric of existence) which properly grounds moral oughts (we should do things in service of the purpose of our existence). Thus, if we see children being tortured, our conscience reacts to its perception of an important moral evil and compels sane humans to intervene regardless of the protestations or beliefs of the individual committing the act.

    We don’t care what his argument or justification or worldview is that would accommodate such an act; in fact, if it accommodates gratuitous child torture as moral, his worldview is wrong.

    What makes you think you are a part of that purpose? What makes you think it might be beneficial to you? And, as an intelligent agent yourself you are surely capable of conceiving your own purposes, so why should yours be any less significant?

    Well, this is outside the scope of reason I brought up divine purpose; it serves as logical grounds for the existence of objective moral oughts. Your questions don’t really fit into my spiritual framework. IOW, they are orthogonal to how I see the relationship between god and the individual, god’s purpose and individual purpose.

    What other authority or foundation is there? Divivne command? That’s just another opinion. What reason do we have for thinking it’s any better than our own?

    Subjective morality and divine command morality are equally bad; essentially, both end up at might/manipulation makes right. Only natural law morality, where god is the essence of good and cannot change what good is, and so cannot change what is moral, solves the problem.

    All those who sought their god’s help but found none forthcoming, even in the most dire of circumstances.

    I never said I think god helps people who ask for help. That’s not part of the classical theism framework I’ve been arguing for. Even in my own spiritual framework, that’s not how it works. IMO, God isn’t that kind of being – god is being.

  78. 78
    Silver Asiatic says:

    vel

    As I understand the solution , God knows all the possible futures for all possible choices. His knowledge does not foreordain the outcome because He knows all outcomes.

    True – and from our vantage-point we have true freedom, within limits. That’s why we have responsibility and accountability for our actions.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    The budget silly season continues. (Latest salvo, a pol hopeful, posing as econ expert, suggests danger of econ slipping into recession, when in fact absent an aid grant we would revert to a v low post disaster stagnation, and we need to address governance issues to lay a basis for investments to build productive capacity to have room for genuine self-sustaining, investor confidence led growth. We have a consumption-onomy, but not enough production-onomy.)

    Now, let’s pause.

    The first thing that strikes me is, that you object using a definite, structured language based on distinct sounds and using text that is based on distinct symbols. That is already pregnant with implications that decisively undermine your argument (i.e. WJM is right). Let me go to an often neglected classical source, Paul of Tarsus, speaking to requisites of articulate, intelligible language and implications thereof:

    1 Cor 14:7 If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played? 8 And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle?

    9 Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!

    10 There are, I suppose, all these many [to us unknown] tongues in the world [somewhere], and none is destitute of [its own power of] expression and meaning. 11 But if I do not know the force and significance of the speech (language), I shall seem to be a foreigner to the one who speaks [to me], and the speaker who addresses [me] will seem a foreigner to me. [AMP]

    In short, the very project of communication in symbolic language or music depends on and manifests the self evident nature of distinct identity, linked contrast and associated dichotomy. A is A (let’s use the bright red ball sitting on a table case in point I have used here at UD for years . . . I will append to OP for reference) directly distinguishes itself via a dichotomising world partition:

    { A | ~ A }

    As immediately present corollaries of distinct identity (LOI), we have LNC, that A AND ~A cannot hold of the same thing and sense, and also excluded middle (LEM) by virtue of partition: A X-OR ~ A.

    These are first, self evident truths that we must imply or acknowledge just in order to communicate.

    So, my first, foremost point, is that it is thereafter useless to seek to dismiss the reality and presence of foundational, self evident truths.

    To try to protest such is to hopelessly depend on them, it is absurd. Manifestly absurd.

    The case you attempt to make collapses with literally the first word of your own, in comment no 83:

    {Y | ~Y} + {o | ~o} + {u | ~u}

    At any rate, let us proceed:

    P, 83: >> all of your arguments that suggest a belief in God is warranted fall under the same criticism of the epistemological idea that any knowledge is somehow warranted. So would any argument that moral knowledge is objectively founded on God.>>

    Do you notice your denial that knowledge is warranted, tied to the implicit notion that “criticism” takes default power to dismiss?

    This should raise further warning bells already.

    Once there is a determined, clever objector, anything can be “criticised.” That is in part why we distinguish rhetoric (the art and study of persuasion) from logic (the study and art of good argument that warrants conclusions to whatever degree).

    In short, you wish to substitute rhetoric of dismissal for the logic of grounding and establishing reliability of conclusions. Another warning-flag. You are sawing off the branch on which we must all sit if we are to be reasonable.

    And, when we see what has caught your ire, it is amazing that you object: to ground a claim A, we appeal to facts and reasoning etc B, which in turn requires C etc. So, we face infinite regress or question-begging circularity or finitely remote first plausibles.

    Of these, the first is infeasible, we cannot climb that ladder to get anywhere (even if we were able to carry out so many steps without error). The second runs in futile circles. so, we are forced to seek finitely remote first plausibles that ground our worldviews, and to seek to be reasonable. Where, just by recognising distinct identity and seeking to communicate in language we necessarily imply first principles of right reason as self-evident first plausibles and plumbline truths.

    To attempt to “criticise” such is futile, the criticism relies inherently and inescapably on what it would dismiss. It is absurd and fails.

    Likewise, the very resort to “criticism” implies that there is failure of duty, i.e. we are under government of OUGHT. This extends to many other cases, summed up as morality.

    So, we find a need for a world-foundational IS that grounds OUGHT.

    The only viable candidate, after centuries of disputes, remains: the inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, the root of being, worthy of service by doing the good.

    (And, the one who imagines the Euthyphro dilemma is decisive, so called, is applicable, has not understood that the pagan gods originally challenged through this, were not of this order. Likewise, God, as described is neither arbitrary nor separable from the good, he grounds the good in the very root of existence; cf. 101 discussion here.)

    P: >> I would say that, “yes.”, evolutionary theory isn’t warranted. But that’s a red herring, as nothing is warranted. >>

    Including, your own claim?

    Reason and knowledge collapse, you are self-referentially incoherent.

    (The onlooker should note that the underlying concept at stake is that knowledge is best understood as well warranted, credibly true belief. That is, on some grounds — the warrant — that is accessible to a rational mind, there is good reason to accept that a given claim X is trustworthy and should be treated as accurate to reality and/or reliable enough to make serious decisions on, subject perhaps to some degree of provisionality; but in many cases it is beyond reasonable dispute. Self evident truths such as error exists of first principles of right reason as in LOI- LNC- LEM, being classic examples of the latter.)

    P: >> What I want from ideas are their contents (their ability to solve problems), not their providence. As a foundationailst, the absence of the latter might cause you despair, but that’s your problem, not mine. >>

    The matter cannot be so easily dodged.

    The judgement of pragmatic utility and/or empirical reliability is in fact dependent on the self evident, foundational first principles as just listed.

    In short, you may declare the above as a policy, but the very act of so declaring in langiage borrows, unacknowledged, from what you would dismiss.

    The case collapses.

    Beyond this, we simply further exemplify.

    P: >>you speak of first plausibles, which is foundationalism. So you haven’t addressed the criticism. What you’ve presented is what Bartley calls “conscientious objections” to open mindedness about how the world works. Namely, open mindedness about knowledge itself, how it grows, etc. That’s what the entire field of epistemology is about. >>

    You, by using language, demonstrate dependence, unacknowledged, on the first plausibles you would deride and dismiss as by implication of a contrast — OOPS! — closed minded.

    The “criticism” is addressed by demonstration that the very objector depends critically, inescapably, on what s/he would dismiss.

    And, epistemology is the critical analysis of knowledge, being therein guided by logic and utter reliance on language rooted in the acts of distinction that show how inescapable the self-evident foundational truths LOI, LNC and LEM are.

    Also, epistemology, a pre-occupation of Western Philosophy since Plato, critically depends on acknowledging the reality: error exists.

    But, this too is a case of self-evident, undeniable truth.

    To see such, let us symbolise the proposition that the set that collects error is inevitably non-empty, as E. The denial would be ~E.

    That is, it is an ERROR to assert, error exists.

    OOPS!

    Or, again take: (E AND ~E)

    This is necessarily false and the compound would be, an error. (E AND ~E) = 0.

    So, immediately, the project of epistemology presents us with a true claim that accurately describes reality and which is undeniable on pain of absurdity. It is self-evident and certain knowledge. Knowledge exists, even including cases that are necessarily and undeniably true.

    Any worldview that denies or dismisses such stands fatally undermined.

    And, to say such is not closed minded, it is to be docile . . . teachable . . . before evident truth instead of defiantly demanding to reject, dismiss or ignore it.

    P: >> I’m suggesting there are no self-evident, foundational truths. For if they were self-evident, they would be immune from criticism, which is how knowledge grows. This includes the idea that “set that collects errors is non-empty.” >>

    Demonstrated false and ill-informed by direct demonstration.

    Further to this, immunity from criticism, is a strawman standard.

    A clever objector will always be able to dream up some critique or other for just about anything, But, here, we see that such is forced to depend on what he dismisses. Starting with his first words.

    Self-referential incoherence.

    Backed up by wishing to dismiss the challenge of warrant before accepting something as knowledge.

    And if that burning down of logic, warrant and knowledge are what seems to be the requisites of objecting to the OP’s discussion of the reasonableness of ethical theism i/l/o modes of being, ontological issues and finding ourselves under the government of ought, such speaks volumes on what is reasonable and what is unreasonable.

    P: >> I’m suggesting that, what we really do, we adopt ideas that have best withstood criticism. Including the idea that there are no infallible sources. An explanation that plays a significant part in a number of other explanations can be “foundational” without being immune from criticism. >>

    This of course depends on setting up and knocking over a strawman of immunity from criticism.

    What instead has been on the table is that giving reasonable grounds for what we accept, A, leads to a chain of warrant that can not proceed forever. Obvious and not addressed.

    Likewise, question-begging circularity is unacceptable, and that was left to stand as default.

    So, our challenge remains, to find finitely remote first plausibles that by dint of being viable per comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power and balance, can stand up as a legitimate member of the circle of reasonable worldviews.

    Nothing presented undermines that status for ethical theism.

    And, lo and behold, we see the suggestion that one’s worldview should rely on ideas that have withstood “criticism,” in other words, that are sufficiently warranted to be responsible to hold.

    OOPS!

    The concept, there are no infallible sources, of course, is a way to inject the notion that there can be no maximally great being, by mere suggestion that things can be criticised, rather than by any serious argument.

    So — instead of squarely facing the issue that a maximally great and eternal being as root of reality, as a serious candidate necessary being would be either impossible or actual — we see yet another strawman dismissal attempt.

    One, that pivots on a caricature of warrant and of warrant to self-evidence as true for plumbline first truths. And, which by using symbolic language pivots on the very truths it would dismiss.

    Fail.

    P: >> A problem with intelligent design theory is that it doesn’t actually solve the problem at hand. A designer that “just was”, complete with the knowledge of how to build biological organism, serves no explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared” complete with the knowledge of how to build those same concrete biological adaptations, already present. >>

    Intelligent design theory is not on the table here, a strident accusation that theism is an irrational resort of emotional basket-cases seeking refuge in an imaginary crutch is.

    But, in so objecting, you leave a further issue exposed, on the matter of sufficient reason. Another foundational issue in the project of rationality.

    Before embarking on that, it is a strawman to project that design theory and the pivotal design inference are about inferring a designer. As has been repeatedly shown, stated and emphasised, the issue is that design is a familiar process. One that often leaves index-signs that distinguish design as causal process.

    Accordingly, the project of design theory is to identify reliable signs of design as causal process and to address whether such are to be found in the natural world. First, in the physics and parameters of the observed cosmos, then in the world of life, from origin of life to origin of major body plans to that of our own.

    And, on massive evidence, the answers are yes, design often leaves reliable empirical markers, and such can be readily seen in the natural world and that of life.

    Such gains significance because there is a dominant philosophy that has been imposed on science, science education, the media, policy making etc that holds that this is not, cannot be so. Namely, a priori, Lewontin-Sagan style evolutionary materialist scientism.

    That is the root of ever so much of this debate.

    Going on, let us take up that ball a again.

    PSR (principle of sufficient reason), weak form: if A is, we may ask and inquire as to why that is so, hoping for a reasonable answer.

    This is, self-evidently, unobjectionable. (Stronger forms are often objected to, not because in themselves they are unreasonable but because of how strong the implications are of holding that if something is, there is a good reason for it to be.)

    On inquiry, we can see that there are candidate beings, some of which [red ball on table] are possible, others — square circles etc — are inherently impossible as core required characteristics are in mutual contradiction.

    That already points strongly to there being a criterion of reasonableness in being. If core characteristics of a proposed entity cannot be simultaneously met it is logically impossible and cannot be brought into existence, nor can it be so connected to the roots of any world that once a world exists it must be so.

    Where, given that a world exists, worlds are possible. (Notice, this is the world full of evidence that AS . . . from OP on and from previous discussion, still refuses to face.)

    There are possible beings.

    So also, we can ask, why.

    A flame — more non-testimonial evidence not faced — allows us to see that some beings are contingent, existing under certain states of affairs but not others. That is, we need heat, fuel, oxidiser and chain reaction. Bring together in a sufficient causal cluster of factors and a fire will begin. Keep such in place and it continues. Remove any one of the enabling on/off causal factors [ = necessary causal factors] within that sufficient cluster and the fire will cease.

    So, by instructive example, WLOG, we see the sufficient reason for contingent being, for its beginning, sustained existence and cessation. Also, that such will exist under certain possible states of affairs, but not under others.

    Now, by contrast, ponder a candidate being that has no such dependency on enabling factors.

    Such would either be once a world is, or else would be impossible as a square circle is impossible. That is, there is a class of serious candidate necessary beings connected to the roots of a world existing at all, or else failing to be as they are impossible.

    Such necessary beings exist, trivially, as the OP shows, two-ness cannot not exist.

    Biological life, pace the suggestion above, depends crucially on pre-existent parts and highly information-rich arrangements, so are not serious candidates to be necessary beings. (P, that you had to suggest such is telling.)

    God, patently, is such a serious candidate.

    Thus, the issue is, that either he is impossible of existence, or is actual. And, actual as the IS who grounds OUGHT.

    This still remains to be seriously and cogently addressed by objectors.

    But more directly, we can see, manifestly that ethical theism is a reasonable worldview.

    The attempts to pretend otherwise should be abandoned and amends made for some hard words and arrogantly dismissive, even sneering, attitudes.

    KF

  80. 80
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    True – and from our vantage-point we have true freedom, within limits. That’s why we have responsibility and accountability for our actions.

    I am glad I remembered correctly, what limits?

  81. 81
    AnimatedDust says:

    Easily, AS. He’s not nearly as bothered by the possibility of it as you are, based on your complete misunderstanding of what that might entail.

    You want no part of that. Thus the short, condescending snark.

    Only one God made claim to being God in the course of human history. He backed that claim up with substantial examples of things only a god could do. That he remains the most significant figure in all of human history speaks large.

    We fear of course for your soul. Because in the end, despite ample warning about having eyes but not seeing, and ears but not hearing, and the foolishness of being wise in your own eyes, that there wil be a granting of a wish, actualized for eternity that will be nothing more than to give you what you’ve wanted throughout your existence being able to make that choice.

    Your rejection is merely actualizing your choice.

    And you won’t be able to claim not enough information.

    You’re surrounded by it.

    Your reply will surely be more snark and condescension. That’s all good.

    For now.

  82. 82
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @AnimatedDust:

    We fear of course for your soul.

    Why do you fear for his soul?

  83. 83

    AS said:

    Anyone else puzzled by the disconnection and leap from “candidate being” to “God”.

    Is it not reasonable to refer to a being that fulfills the foundational requirements logic, experiential necessity and morality dictate, as described in this thread, as “god”?

    Allow for the sake of argument that there is some logical argument that suggests a “candidate being”. How does one get from that to, say, the (I’m guessing here) Pentecostal version of “God”?

    It doesn’t get there for me, although I don’t preclude that possibility. What difference does it make if individuals disagree on further characterizations if logic and current evidence at hand clearly indicates at least the classical theistic version of god?

    It is up to the individual that assesses these arguments and evidence to honestly pursue the idea from “okay, I can see that it makes sense that a god of some sort exists at least to the point of classical theism” to “what more, if anything, does a rational examination of the evidence, experience, logic, and morality indicate about this god and its relationship to the universe and us?”

  84. 84
    Silver Asiatic says:

    vel

    I am glad I remembered correctly, what limits?

    As contingent beings we have limits on our freedom – on the things we’re dependent on for our existence, and also because of various levels of knowledge/ignorance and moral strength that we have.
    Freedom is mainly in making moral choices – that way we have responsibility and can take credit for the good we do and blame for whatever evil or bad we do also.
    But those choices are limited – we don’t have absolute freedom in every case. For example, we don’t have total control over our unconscious states – dreams, etc.
    But when we’re conscious we have enough freedom to make choices which we are accountable for.

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, it seems you still have not really read the OP or even 38 above; but then elsewhere you admitted to snip-snipe tactics. I suggest you do some reading. KF

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    AS,

    the disconnection and leap from “candidate being” to “God”.

    Pardon, but this again illustrates snip-snipe based on strawmannish isolation from context, stated and implicit. (It raises the question of having seriously read, in the wider context of hostile dismissiveness and, frankly, disrespect. Remember, you have some very loaded assertions to defend that target millions as irrational.)

    I suggest to you that a basic understanding of modes of being (and of not-being) is a problem in our day. That is in part why in the OP and above (esp at 38) I took time to distinguish candidates for being that are possible and impossible. With the square circle standing in as a key example of how impossible beings fail of realisability in any possible world. Namely, due to inescapable incoherence of required characteristics.

    Next, possible beings would be/are in at least one possible world.

    Having first seriously learned logic from Irving Copi, I used a flame as an illustration of possible being. This allows us to examine a familiar object as a typical case, drawing out contingency and what we can observe about it: there being states of affairs where F exists, and others where it does not. Where also we see dependence on external, enabling on/off factors, commonly termed necessary causal factors. Where also for F to be, a sufficient set of factors must be, with all necessary ones met. This is how it begins, continues and ceases.

    Then, we consider candidates to be necessary beings, a class that are so connected to the substructure of being a world that a successful candidate will be present in any possible world. Two-ness was used as a simple illustration, we cannot have a world where this property does not exist, so also the underlying number.

    Serious necessary being candidates [as in, we first filter off things that are patently contingent . . . ] will either be impossible or actual. That is, if possible, present in at least one possible world, but as not dependent on enabling factors and as linked to the substructure of a world existing, present in all possible worlds. Including the actual.

    The eternal Creator-God is an obvious, long discussed serious candidate to be a necessary being, the root of reality.

    The point of the discussion is that if you object to his actuality, that implies contingency or impossibility. But, contingency of God is not a serious claim, so to reject the reality of God is to imply that he is impossible of being.

    A tough row to hoe.

    And, there is the further context that we find ourselves under moral government, pointing to a world-foundational IS who by intrinsic nature grounds OUGHT. (Where, suggestions like the Euthyphro dilemma so-called, manifestly fail to address God as inherently good maximally great, Supreme being.)

    We face the situation where, nothing is just that, non-being. So — as such can have no causal powers — if ever there were an utter nothing, such would forever obtain.

    But, a world is.

    So, SOMETHING always was, i.e. we see the need for necessary being root of reality.

    (That is, we see here some teeth in the concept that we do not get something from nothing. Where relabelling a proposed quantum foam as “nothing,” is a crude categorical error.)

    And in a world of responsibly free morally governed creatures, such a root needs also to be an IS that governs OUGHT.

    Over many centuries of debate, only one serious candidate has been on the table: the inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of service by doing the good.

    So, ethical theism, contrary to many loaded, confident manner assertions, is an intellectually responsible view.

    So also, those who would overturn it need to provide cogent answers to the roots of being and of our being as responsibly free morally governed persons.

    And if you would argue against responsible freedom, that includes implying that rationality is impossible, as we must be free to think in order to think logically and to acknowledge truths or facts. With intellectual virtues and duties on the table as part of the picture.

    We are at worldview roots, so you are free to put up your own set of first plausibles, but these must then face factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power and balance challenges. Just as any other worldview.

    God is on the table as a serious candidate being and root of reality. One that is eternal, necessary and maximally great (implying inherently good).

    And no, I am not proposing a so-called theistic proof, that one has an option to reject if not plausible to one; I am saying that we are sitting at the table of comparative difficulties and one of he facts to be addressed is existence of a world, where on the logic of such we point to root reality in necessary being. What are your candidates as to why there is something rather than nothing? Why, and how does such thrive in the face of comparative difficulties?

    If you would dismiss such, why. Ignoring and deriding those who would start with God, is not a serious option.

    So, the issue posed in the OP is still very much on the table.

    KF

  87. 87

    I say:

    It is up to the individual that assesses these arguments and evidence to honestly pursue the idea..

    AS summarizes:

    Well, it sort of agrees with the point I’ve been making; that one’s personal choice of which God to believe in is not based on evidence or reasoning.

    Seriously? How can you contort anything I’ve written into fitting with that perspective?

    So it’s a matter of personal choice. We seem to agree.

    All informed decisions about “what to believe”, including theism and agnosticism, are matters of personal choice. Whether or not one bases their personal choice on the evidence and sound argument, or the sweeping denial of such evidence and sound argument, cannot changed that fact.

  88. 88
    Popperian says:

    Popperian argues as if logic was a valid foundational method by which an anti-foundationalist can build and arbit statements as either true or false:

    Yet, how would one examine the logical necessity of the conclusion from the premise if not by some of the very “self-evident, foundational” truths he argues against? Does it actually, logically follow that just because a truth is self-evident, one cannot criticise it?

    No, that’s not what I’m arguing. All we have is criticism because there is no logical necessity by which to deem statements as either true, false, or even probably true. Criticism represents a methodological rule, not a logical necessity.

    If one means “criticize” in terms of a valid logical criticism, then one is again employing foundational tools and methodology.

    The idea that conjecture and criticism, in one form or another, is how knowledge grows, is itself an idea that is subject to criticism. Again, criticism isn’t some kind of chain of logical necessities, it’s a mythological rule or attitude. For example, for all we know, God could simply decide to incrementally “program” our brains with truths, rather than us actually discovering them ourselves, and make us think we had something to do with it. At which point, knowledge doesn’t grow either though induction or criticism. In fact, in that case, it wouldn’t genuinely grow at all, as God knew it all along. You open the door to this when you suggest that God programs morality into us.

    What I’m presenting is a unified explanation for the universal growth of knowledge. That’s something you don’t seem to have, as theism implies that knowledge, in specific spheres, comes from authoritative sources. That’s a special case in which you apply to God.

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, as soon as you type a word you are basing your steps on distinct identity thus the first principles of right reason. As soon as you argue, you are appealing to logic. Your case falls by virtue of self referential incoherence. And the wider attempted lock-out also fails as has been shown at 98 above. KF

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers, observe how those who have tried to tag ethical theism adherents as emotional basket cases leaning on a dangerous imaginary crutch, have for quite some days now, consistently failed to deal with core issues on the merits. KF

  91. 91

    Let’s examine the wording structure.

    Popperian said:

    No, that’s not what I’m arguing.

    A statement that relies upon and referral to principles of identity, non-contradiction.

    All we have is criticism because there is no logical necessity by which to deem statements as either true, false, or even probably true.

    This is either an assertion of truth (“there is no …”) or an assertion of warranted conclusion; if not, it’s just empty criticism (as popperian admits, calling it a “mythological” rule or “attitude”) – words expressed in contradiction of something with no expectation that it relates to any truth or warranted belief.

    Criticism represents a methodological rule, not a logical necessity.

    Another assertion of truth/warranted knowledge. If one is not presenting criticisms according to logic, what do the criticisms reflect? An attitude? A critical theory concept of criticism simply intended to linguistically, emotionally undermine the authority of “facts” and “truths” and “logic”? Or do they just represent negative words and phrases that are not themselves tied to any claim of truth and knowledge?

    Those who deny truth and knowledge can be known have no argument worth considering; all they have is groundless rhetoric intended to sway emotions and preferences.

  92. 92
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Those who deny truth and knowledge can be known have no argument worth considering; all they have is groundless rhetoric intended to sway emotions and preferences.

    Good point. Without truth and logic, it’s not possible to create an argument. In fact, I think it’s impossible to create a meaningful sentence.

    Even the groundless rhetoric is irrational since it attempts to arrive at a logical outcome “you should accept my rhetoric”.

    I was going to say that the only consistent way to offer an argument against logic and truth … etc. but consistency itself requires logical analysis and a knowledge of truth.

  93. 93

    SA,

    Popperian and others present “arguments” that make me seriously consider that some of us truly are Darwinian biological automatons, uttering programmed responses in reaction to certain keywords and phrases, with no “ghost in the machine” capable of separately reflecting upon the meaning of the content they receive or spew.

    How else to explain, under the charity of a good faith reading, the things they say?

  94. 94
    mike1962 says:

    If you saw off the whole tree branch that you’re sitting on, you will fall down, go boom.

  95. 95
    Axel says:

    BA77 nailed it. Quantum mechanics and its revelation of the precedence of consciousness over matter, non-locality and ‘entanglement’, all unambiguously converge to demonstrate the unassailable truth of theism. One of those on its own would have sufficed.

    How atheists have got away with their vacuous metaphysics since the days of Planck and the other pioneers of quantum mechanics will surely be considered, in the not too distant future, as atheism’s, indeed, academe’s ultimate disgrace.

    The fact that none of those pioneers seem to have considered that the world was not designed by a super intelligence, but was a product of chance, but rather that they had assumed that it was designed, suggests that they would have had a similar contempt for the atheist scientific establishment to that of the most famous of them, Einstein.

    There seems to have been a permanent undercurrent of testiness beneath the surface of Einstein’s obiter dicta. And when atheist ‘scientists’ (all parasites battening onto the major advance of QM, to make their living), try to accord with those precepts, they just seem comical, like a dog togged up by its owner with a sombrero and a pair of sunglasses.

    Although they occasionally, for example, refer to the concept of ‘intuition’ correctly, on other occasions they will blithely use the word, in place of ‘reason’ or ‘logic’. How many molecules bumping into each other does it take to produce a flash of intuition, I wonder?

    It’s easy to see why, with their albatross of scientism still hanging around their neck, they shy away from acknowledging paradoxes as contrary to reason.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, again, you have dodged the issue on the table, and that in a context where you have made grave accusations that you obviously cannot back. KF

    PS: Try, snip out of context, set up a strawman target, snipe at it. Substantiation above and elsewhere.

  97. 97

    AS said:

    So it’s a matter of personal choice.

    as if something being a matter of personal choice necessarily meant it wasn’t a matter of evidence and logic. Otherwise, why bring it up when I was making an argument, and have been, about the evidence and logic which clearly and overwhelmingly indicates theism.

    I pointed this out to AS:

    All informed decisions about “what to believe”, including theism and agnosticism, are matters of personal choice. Whether or not one bases their personal choice on the evidence and sound argument, or the sweeping denial of such evidence and sound argument, cannot changed that fact.

    To which AS responds:

    OK. So what? You make your personal choice to believe something.

    Indeed, so what? The question is not whether anyone has made a personal choice to believe something – we all have; it’s not whether one should have the right to believe whatever we wish – we all do, and nobody is arguing otherwise. The argument is about whether or not the beliefs we have personally chosen are rationally justifiable in light of the available evidence and logical arguments that pertain to those beliefs.

    That has been the point of the thread all along; not to say that AS cannot or should not believe whatever AS believes, but only to show that the only rationally justifiable belief when it comes to theism, agnosticism and atheism, in light of available evidence and logical argument, is theism.

    Certainly, people are free to choose to believe anything they want, even in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary and despite logical absurdities that plague their views. Popperian, for example, is making the case that we can assert “there are no truths” and “there is no foundation for knowledge”; he’s free to believe that self-contradictory, unsupportable nonsense if he so chooses.

    The point is that it is unsupportable and self-contradictory; if that doesn’t bother a person, hey, there’s no law against believing nonsense.

  98. 98
    Seversky says:

    velikovskys @ 95

    As I understand the solution , God knows all the possible futures for all possible choices. His knowledge does not foreordain the outcome because He knows all outcomes. Omniscience is handy that way.

    It’s a nice try but I see two problems with it.

    First, if we look at examples from the Bible of where God or Jesus predict the future there are no conditionals, no suggestions that this is but one of many possible futures that diverge from any point in time. When Jesus tells Peter that he will deny knowing Him three times before the cock crows, it’s a definite “you will” and, of course, according to the Bible, that’s exactly what he does. This sounds like a declaration of certainty that could only come from knowing that the denial had actually happened. If God knows the future then it has happened, certainly for a being who may exist outside our spacetime continuum

    Second, imagine looking back in time to see George Washington in 1776 trying to see what the future held for him. For him, the nearly 240 years between us were not just unknown but probably unimagineable. Yet, for us, we don’t need to imagine (well, not much) because we know what happened in that intervening period in considerable detail and with a high degree of certainty. Nobody alive today was present at the Battle of Gettysburg, for example, but there is little doubt that it actually happened.

    Now let’s turn around to look to our future and we see as little as George Washington. We might have a slightly better sense of what might happen but that’s about all. But perhaps 240 years from now one of our descendants (assuming we’re still around) is looking back at that same period in full knowledge of what happened. And 240 years further into the future an even more distant desendant is looking back … and so on, ad infinitum

    My question is, do we have any reason to privilege any one of those ‘presents’ over any of the others. Was 1776 the ‘real’ one, or 2015 or 2255 or 2495? Or are they all equally valid? If one person’s unknown future is another’s settled history, doesn’t that imply that the history of this Universe is already set out?

    And doesn’t that mean that our sense of free will is only possible because of our ignorance about what the future holds, an ignorance which allows us to flatter ourselves we actually have some say in what will happen?

  99. 99
    velikovskys says:

    Wjm:
    The argument is about whether or not the beliefs we have personally chosen are rationally justifiable in light of the available evidence and logical arguments that pertain to those beliefs

    The evidence seems to indicate there are mutiple justified beliefs based on subjective interpretation of the evidence and revelation , each with its own issues. Natural law for instance, the one self evident truth offered so far seems inadequate to deduce objective morality. Perhaps you should do a post demonstrating how it is accomplished.

  100. 100

    velikovskys said:

    Natural law for instance, the one self evident truth offered so far seems inadequate to deduce objective morality. Perhaps you should do a post demonstrating how it is accomplished.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ectivists/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-morality/

    velikovskys, besides the fact that all sane people act as if morality is objective anyway (first link), and besides the fact that morality is an empty concept under atheism/materialism/naturalism (second link), there is also the logical fact that there is no logically sustainable form of subjective morality that does not inexorably lead back to self-evidently immoral principles (might makes right, because I feel like it, because I can).

    The only way morality makes any logical sense, the only reason we would have to care about it, the only thing that explains our actual moral behaviors, sense of obligation and responsibility is according to the view that morality refers to an objective commodity.

  101. 101
    Upright BiPed says:

    Materialists often seem puzzled by the notion of not being able to take the temperature of good judgement.

    They then turn and make decisions like the rest of us.

    😐

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    VS:

    It seems we can always get ourselves into serious trouble over forms of words:

    My question is, do we have any reason to privilege any one of those ‘presents’ over any of the others. Was 1776 the ‘real’ one, or 2015 or 2255 or 2495? Or are they all equally valid? If one person’s unknown future is another’s settled history, doesn’t that imply that the history of this Universe is already set out?

    The first stage answer is simple: we live history forward and make decisions in anticipation. Once we have acted, we live with consequences in light of the complex states of affairs in the flow of space and time. So, there is no good reason to posit that the choices are illusory, the future being predetermined.

    Second, we look to the requisites of being responsible, rational agents (and consequences of holding that status to be delusion).

    WJM has aptly summed it up many times, here is a clip with adaptation I picked up to discuss worldview foundations here on:

    If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    Bluntly put, you are reasoning and arguing, but if agency is illusion, there is no ability to choose to accept facts to be so or to choose to follow and accept chains of inference therefrom; there would be just blind playing out of causal chains, perhaps with chance perturbations.

    Responsible freedom is an unavoidable premise of rationality.

    Going on, you do err, not knowing Scripture.

    For instance:

    Jer 18: 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.”

    3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

    5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’ [ESV]

    In short, there is a dimension of conditionality in prophetic warnings and blessings, in a wider context of dynamic, responsive shaping.

    There is no playing of a canned, pre-set movie of inevitability here in the Biblical understanding of human responsibility. But instead, a dynamic of moral government. We are moral not mechanical. Yes, we have mechanical body parts, but those are parts of a cybernetic whole with a higher order centre of control that carries out responsible agency, cf the Smith Model in the OP for architectural ideas.

    (NB: Biblical discussions are not the focus of this thread, the focus is still on the accusation of being delusional and demand for evidence of God that is not testimony, answered primarily by way of ontological and moral reasoning.)

    KF

  103. 103
    Box says:

    William J Murray:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    I’ll add to this list: If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

    William, I have a request: can you also add a general statement about reason, in line with Reppert (see OP) to this wonderful list? 🙂

  104. 104

    Box,

    If you do not assume reason is independent of material causation, then a “rational conclusion” is nothing more than a sensation produced by happenstance, interacting molecules. If that is all a reasonable conclusion is – a sensation caused by interacting molecules – then all rational conclusions are equal because they are ultimately nothing more than the sensation product of an individual’s particular molecular interactions.

    If we accept this, there’s no reason to argue on the basis of reason/logic; it would be like arguing that other people’s favorite color should be the same as ours because we really like our favorite color. Calling such arguments “reason” or “logical” as if they are something other than simple expressions of personal sensations/feelings would be a farce.

    Which is why I made the case in the 2nd link that both truth and reason are “stolen obligations” which do not apply to the atheist/materialist position; if reason is just a happenstance, physically produced sensation, then one might as well say “because I don’t wanna” as to make a rational case, because that’s all a logic-based argument amounts to under their paradigm.

    Therefore, if logic is not assumed to be a causally independent, authoritative arbiter of true statements, there’s no reason to apply it.

    And so we have:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If logic is not assumed to be a causally independent, authoritative arbiter of true statements, there’s no reason to apply it. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place. If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

  105. 105
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 124

    velikovskys, besides the fact that all sane people act as if morality is objective anyway (first link), and besides the fact that morality is an empty concept under atheism/materialism/naturalism (second link), there is also the logical fact that there is no logically sustainable form of subjective morality that does not inexorably lead back to self-evidently immoral principles (might makes right, because I feel like it, because I can).

    Even if we allow that people appear to act as if morality is an objective phenomenon, that doesn’t make it so. A lot of people act as if their personal religious or philosophical or political beliefs are objective certainties. Those of us who know they’re wrong beg to differ.

    And a/mat or nat/mat morality is a stronger form than divine command because it is something we have actually had to work out for ourselves. We didn’t just wait submissively until some alleged authority figure told us what to do.

    As for subjective morality inexorably leading back to immoral principles, I need hardly point out that throughout history, certainly including accounts in the Old Testament, divine command morality has been used to justify atrocious acts that would most certainly have been judged immoral in any other circumstances.

    The utility of logic or the laws of thought or of mathematics are not in dispute, but they are tools. They can be used for any number of purposes but they are still subject to GIGO. It is quite possible to construct perfectly valid logical arguments that are complete nonsense. Just because a conclusion is valid doesn’t necessarly mean it is true.

  106. 106

    Seversky said:

    Even if we allow that people appear to act as if morality is an objective phenomenon, that doesn’t make it so.

    It adds to the case that it is so, and detracts from the case that it is essentially subjective in nature.

    A lot of people act as if their personal religious or philosophical or political beliefs are objective certainties. Those of us who know they’re wrong beg to differ.

    Unfortunately, Seversky, you cannot ascertain them as “wrong” in their beliefs, nor can you refer to that view as “knowledge”, without necessary reference to fundamental worldview first principles unavailable to non-theistic positions. You might have a materially-caused sensation that you “know” they are “wrong”, but such a sensation cannot be of any more intrinsic validity than the sensations of those you disagree with.

    IOW, without theistic first principles, your assessment of them as “wrong” and your characterizing the assessment as “knowledge” is incoherent.

    And a/mat or nat/mat morality is a stronger form than divine command because it is something we have actually had to work out for ourselves.

    You’re not making any sense. In the first place, if a/mat or nat/mat is true, it equally produced as material facts the sensations (thoughts, convictions, feeling of knowledge and truth) of both Divine Command and “working it out for ourselves” subjective morality.

    In what way would the subjective form be “stronger”? Islam, which is the world’s leading and most pure form of Divine Command morality, appears to me to be “stronger” in the sense that it is growing by leaps and bounds, it forces conversion or puts you to death, it produces lots and lots of offspring. The adherents are also maniacally devoted to that worldview.

    How on earth can you possibly consider, in any meaningful nat/mat or a/mat perspective, subjective morality “stronger” when essentially the only thing standing between you and them is an army almost fully comprised of either Divine Command or Natural Law theists?

    We didn’t just wait submissively until some alleged authority figure told us what to do.

    No, under your paradigm, you developed morality as happenstance chemical interactions dictated, same as them, under a/mat premises. Now the question is: which one is superior in terms of evolution, which is the only “right” vs “wrong” that matters under a/mat?

    As for subjective morality inexorably leading back to immoral principles, I need hardly point out that throughout history, certainly including accounts in the Old Testament, divine command morality has been used to justify atrocious acts that would most certainly have been judged immoral in any other circumstances.

    Have I not already agreed that Divine Command morality is just as bad as subjective morality? Neither offers a sound basis for a moral system.

    The utility of logic or the laws of thought or of mathematics are not in dispute, but they are tools. They can be used for any number of purposes but they are still subject to GIGO. It is quite possible to construct perfectly valid logical arguments that are complete nonsense. Just because a conclusion is valid doesn’t necessarly mean it is true.

    When several lines of logic and the evidence of our own behavior requires the premise that morality refers to an objective commodity (or else morality makes no sense), accepting that morality most likely refers to an objective commodity is an entirely rational and reasonable conclusion.

    You respond by saying, “Well, it still might not be true.” I agree. However, neither you nor I can live as if it is not true, so what purpose does believing it is not true serve, other than making one a hypocrite and preserving one’s atheism/materialism?

  107. 107
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM @ 115

    Popperian and others present “arguments” that make me seriously consider that some of us truly are Darwinian biological automatons, uttering programmed responses in reaction to certain keywords and phrases, with no “ghost in the machine” capable of separately reflecting upon the meaning of the content they receive or spew.

    How else to explain, under the charity of a good faith reading, the things they say?

    That’s a different thought – interesting. I agree that we should extend the charity of accepting a good faith reading. So, not to say they’re lying.
    Your proposal is interesting because it would explain why the responses are scripted … they’re programmed in by stimuli. This actually prevents real thought or engagement with the issue. It’s a triggered response – mechanistic, exactly what materialism would propose.

    The contradiction between materialist determinism and how rationality actually works is necessarily ignored, because the irrational response to that question is already programmed-in by materialistic scientism.

    The only other view I’d offer is that there is a kind of ignorance … sometimes when we’re less charitable we call it blindness.

    Ignorance is not always the fault of the person who can’t see their own illogical position (they’re ‘invincibly ignorant’). But it’s hard to be sympathetic to someone who argues that they rely on science, logic and reason as the only sure means of truth, but that there is no real logic or truth anyway.

    It is impossible to be invincibly ignorant of the first precepts of the natural law: Do good and avoid evil. Do not do to others what you would not wish them to do to you. You shall not kill, you shall not steal … At least by the order of the world, the starry sky, and the whole creation, man can easily obtain a knowledge of the probability of the existence of God, supreme Ordainer and Legislator. When he has this probability, he must seek to become more enlightened and must ask for light; otherwise he is not in genuine good faith or in absolutely involuntary and invincible ignorance. — Garrigou-Lagrange

    It seems to me that some of our opponents just shut down the ‘probability’ mentioned above. Not only that, when confronted with an obvious contradiction between the claim that there is no logic and their own attempt to use logic (and build a foundation on logical points), there’s something more than simple ignorance at work.

    That’s the way I see it anyway.

  108. 108
    Andre says:

    These are the same people using reason to deny that any reason whatsoever exists for the existence of a universe and any life in it. How can we be charitable to such idiocy?

  109. 109

    Andre asks:

    How can we be charitable to such idiocy?

    To help preserve a forum with civil discourse and to encourage such behavior from others by example? Even if some appear immune to reason and evidence, and even if we make essentially the same case over and over, you never know who is watching that may be open to the evidence and logical arguments we present.

    I was one of those “lurkers” when I first found this place. The arguments presented here in a reasonable and charitable manner by several tireless, dedicated individuals had a great impact on my making the transition from hardcore atheist/materialist to intellectually satisfied theist.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM (Attn Box): So useful in 128 that I have updated my citation as part of the lead-in to address worldviews, here. KF

  111. 111
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Andre

    How can we be charitable to such idiocy?

    They seem intelligent enough to understand something – but then they say things that are totally idiotic. I don’t know what the answer is.

  112. 112
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Just to highlight again …

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If logic is not assumed to be a causally independent, authoritative arbiter of true statements, there’s no reason to apply it. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place. If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

    Beautifully stated – and irrefutable.

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    To date, regrettably, you have given no sign of being able to acknowledge well-founded correction on your mistaken concepts and views of evidence.

    You have shown no reason to believe you have risen beyond snip-snipe to even actually read what you dismiss. And to date you have had no cogent response, in a context where you have made the most grave and even sneeringly dismissive assertions regarding the rationality of others; millions of others.

    Sorry to have to say, but at this stage you give all the signs of a fallacy I long since highlighted in discussing selective hyperskepticism:

    [FALLACY OF THE CLOSED, TYPICALLY DEEPLY INDOCTRINATED MIND:] Stubbornly irrational, question-begging resistance to correction and/or alternative views. (Cf. a typical turnabout accusation on this, here.)

    This fallacy manifests itself in a habitual pattern of thought, feelings and argument that is:

    (a) question-beggingly committed to and/or

    (b) indoctrinated into thinking in the circle of a particular view or position and/or

    (c) blindly adherent to “the consensus” or vision and school of thought or paradigm of a particular set of authorities. [NB*: This last includes today’s new Magisterium: “Science.”]

    As a result,

    (d) the victim of closed-mindedness becomes unwarrantedly (i.e. fallaciously and often abusively) resistant to new or alternative ideas, information or correction . . .

    That is, it is not a matter of mere disagreement that is at stake here, but of

    (e) stubborn and objectively unjustified refusal to be corrected or to entertain or fairly discuss on the merits ideas or points of view outside of a favoured circle of thought.

    In extreme cases,

    (f) the closed minded person who has access to power or influence may engage in the willfully deceptive (and even demonic) practice of actively suppressing the inconvenient truth that s/he knows or should know.

    (By contrast, a properly educated person is open-minded but critically aware: s/he is aware of the possibility and prevalence of error, and so (i) habitually investigates and then (ii) accurately, objectively and fairly describes major alternative views, fact claims and lines of argument on a topic, (iii) comparing them on congruence to his/her real-world experience and that of others s/he knows and respects, general factual correctness, logical coherence and degree of explanatory power; thus (iv) holds a personal view that results from such a process of comparative difficulties, while (v) recognising and respecting that on major matters of debate or controversy, different people will hold different views.)

    Please, think again.

    KF

  114. 114
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    Well it seems to me there are no certainties and the only way to proceed is pragmatically.

    There are no certainties. Nothing is true.

  115. 115
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    I simply have to highlight this one, 134:

    it seems to me there are no certainties

    So, are you certain that it seems to you there are no certainties, or is that just another “seeming” as you slide off in an infinite regress?

    Ending, in absurdity.

    It would be wiser, methinks, to accept E = Error exists, i.e. the set that collects errors is necessarily non-empty. For simple instance to assert ~E means it is an error to affirm E. Thus E is undeniably, self-evidently true and instantiates truth as accurate affirmation of reality, warranted and justified credible truth accepted and believed i.e. known, to undeniable certainty.

    Therefore schemes of thought, reasoning or worldviews that deny or imply denial of such, collapse.

    Including, radical pragmatism.

    (where of course that one certain truth is that error exists gives us a reason to be cautious and open minded regarding truth-claims. Though beyond the self-evident, many things are morally certain and no reasonable person would seriously doubt such though s/he could not demonstrate beyond dispute.)

    KF

  116. 116
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    What is truth?

    Today is an ironically apt day to pose this cynical question, as procurator Pilate proverbially asked it of Jesus “and stayed not for an answer.”

    Truth, very simply — and following Aristotle in Metaphysics 1011b who nailed it — is to say of what is, that it is; and, of what is not, that it is not.

    As to how can we be certain of anything, this is — given just above — a case of your not staying for the answer.

    Something like Error exists, is self evidently true and undeniably certain. As stated just up:

    It would be wiser, methinks, to accept E = Error exists, i.e. the set that collects errors is necessarily non-empty. For simple instance to assert ~E means it is an error to affirm E. Thus E is undeniably, self-evidently true and instantiates truth as accurate affirmation of reality, warranted and justified credible truth accepted and believed i.e. known, to undeniable certainty.

    Therefore schemes of thought, reasoning or worldviews that deny or imply denial of such, collapse.

    Including, radical pragmatism.

    (where of course that one certain truth is that error exists gives us a reason to be cautious and open minded regarding truth-claims. Though beyond the self-evident, many things are morally certain and no reasonable person would seriously doubt such though s/he could not demonstrate beyond dispute.)

    Perhaps — given that good testimony and adequate record can easily attain to moral certainty, you would be well advised to take a look at the vid here,

    https://vimeo.com/17960119

    which is particularly appropriate today.

    KF

    PS: Dictionary at law.com:

    moral certainty

    n. in a criminal trial, the reasonable belief (but falling short of absolute certainty) of the trier of the fact (jury or judge sitting without a jury) that the evidence shows the defendant is guilty. Moral certainty is another way of saying “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Since there is no exact measure of certainty it is always somewhat subjective and based on “reasonable” opinions of judge and/or jury.

    –> this shows how important this concept is for not only jurisprudence but many other serious decision-making and action contexts where irrational indecision or selective hyperskepticism would be ruinous.

  117. 117

    AS said:

    You use the word “evidence” as if some has been presented, or perhaps you have some that you haven’t mentioned yet. I’m not having an argument about what anyone should or shouldn’t believe. I am advocating a society where people can believe what they wish, without interference. I merely question these assertions about evidence, other than personal or reported testimony, that keep popping up. KF particularly appears to be certain about his version of God but manages at the same time to be utterly unconvincing.

    This has already been addressed explicitly. In #52, I said:

    The logical arguments (such as KF has presented) for god are not “testimonial” in nature, AS. The fine-tuning evidence is not “testimonial” in nature. The moral argument for god is not “testimonial” in nature. Yet you keep insisting that the only thing that has been presented is “testimonial” in nature, and that’s simply not true.

    AS responded, in #62:

    But an argument is not evidence of anything.

    In #68, I provided two standard definitions for “evidence” which any reasonable person admits includes logical arguments:

    Wikipedia says: “Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion.” The Free Dictionary says: A thing or set of things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.

    I also pointed out that the Fine-Tuning evidence is a collection of scientific facts which are employed as evidence in favor of a creator god that fine-tuned the universe for life.

    AS responded:

    “Fine-tuning” is an interpretation of facts we observe about the universe that is visible to us. It is an argument and not a convincing one, in my view. It suffers from the same flaw (which god?) as the Ontological argument.

    I pointed out that this is what all scientific evidence is, a collection of facts interpreted in light of a theory or postulate. Facts are argued to support this theory or that theory, and are argued to support one better than another. Facts do not, and cannot, “speak for themselves”; they must be interpreted in order to become evidence, and an argument (hopefully a logical one) must be employed to explain the fit of the facts into the competing interpretive models.

    However, AS keeps on reiterating his preferred meme here because he summarily(and idiosyncratically, according to definitions of “evidence”) dismisses all non-testimonial argument and evidence as “non-evidence”.

    So, we have in this thread described scientific evidence for god; logical argument evidence for god, and testimonial evidence for a god of some sort, at least embodying certain necessary, classical-theism characteristics and the capacity to create and fine-tune our universe.

  118. 118

    AS said:

    Well it seems to me there are no certainties and the only way to proceed is pragmatically.

    Pragmatically speaking, we all behave as if morality refers to an objective commodity anyway; we all behave and argue as if we and others have libertarian free will anyway; we all argue as if logic is an uncaused, authoritative arbiter of true statements anyway; we all behave as if truth exists and matters very much anyway.

    The real question is why hold to atheism and/or agnosticism when theism is the only pragmatic explanation for such behavior.

  119. 119
    Box says:

    WJM #128:

    Thank you very much!

    Therefore, if logic is not assumed to be a causally independent, authoritative arbiter of true statements, there’s no reason to apply it.

  120. 120
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    What is truth?

    I’ll just echo KF – that’s a great question to ask today on Good Friday.

    How can we be certain of anything? We can observe and measure the world around us and formulate hypotheses that make predictions that we can test.

    You expressed absolute certainty several times in the above words. You’re building your entire worldview on the certainty that truth exists. When you ask a question, you’re asserting that the truth does exist.

    How can we be certain of anything? You asked that. You also provided an answer. But you asserted that the truth exists.

    A. We can be certain
    B. We can’t be certain
    C. We don’t know

    You chose B as the True answer. If there was no truth, then all three statements would be equal.

    We pragmatists can be content and live with those tentative conclusions about how the universe and everything in it really is.

    You identify yourself as a pragmatist. You are asserting, indirectly, that you’re saying something True. You’re expecting me to believe it is true. You then describe what pragmatists do – again, all based on the existence of Truth.

    If truth did not exist – you might be a pragmatist, or you might believe in God, or you might not know what any of the words mean.

    “Pragmatists are content to live with tentative conclusions” Equals “Pragmatists are not content to live with tentative conclusions” in terms of Truth value because there would be no truth.

    And you idealists can carry on believing the world is as you wish it to be.

    As I said, you’re carrying on asserting that some things are true, perhaps because you wish the truth to exist.
    You are not carrying on as if the truth does not exist.
    If you did that, you’d be consistent. But you’d also be irrational and impossible to discuss anything with.

    You could try to argue under the basis that “nothing is true” but then, what a theist would call “a lie” would not be any different than what a theist would call “the truth” for you.

    I’m carrying on campaigning for everyone to think their own thoughts without let or hindrance, though I encourage everyone to poke, prod and test their ideas against reality.

    If you assert that there is no truth, then you can’t state that you are campaigning that everyone think their own thoughts — because that statement would be meaningless.

    The fact that Truth and Falsehood exist means that there are limitations on our thoughts.

    If you fight against those limitations, by saying “nothing is true” — then you can no longer have any rational thoughts. You would basically be insane and totally incoherent.

  121. 121
    Popperian says:

    KF: Popperian, as soon as you type a word you are basing your steps on distinct identity thus the first principles of right reason. As soon as you argue, you are appealing to logic.

    And, yet, the very things you described are also compatible with a non-foundational epistemology. You might not subscribe to it, and therefore deem it absurd, but all I have to do is point out that such an epistemology exists. Epistemologies are explanations about how the world works, which are subject to criticism.

    Furthermore, we have to work with words that are ultimately undefined, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use them to solve problems. IOW, I’m using a different approach, which is to start out with a problem to solve.

    On the other hand, you’re trying to define words for the sake of defining them, which doesn’t actually solve problems. That’s a key difference between us. In the same sense, I’ve adopted the law of non-contridiciton because it allows us to solve problems, not because it’s some kind of foundation that I must accept uncritically.

  122. 122
    ScuzzaMan says:

    “I’m interested in what other people find convincing as explanations of why what is is, but I’m more concerned that discussion of why what is is is a free and open discussion.”

    So you’ve made strong rational objections to science texts and other materialist dogmas that begin with statements like:

    “No serious scientist questions [insert materialist position here], etc”

    Right? You’ve got as long a history of arguing with those people as you have here?

    And being a fan of evidence,, you have evidence for this, right?

  123. 123
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, again by the mere act of typing a response you affirm your dependence on the prior foundation of distinct identity. In addition, this continues as you assert X is the case, Y is not the case and so forth. You implicitly depend on what you would dismiss in order to argue. And meanwhile it has not escaped our notice that you are far out on a tangent away from the focal issue for the thread. Which is not so co-incidentally the case. The utter unresponsiveness to (a) the issue of being vs non-being, need for root being adequate to account for a world of reasoning morally governed persons, and (b) to the issue that had there ever been utter nothing such would forever obtain so there was always something, something best understood as unconditioned being, is therefore revealing. KF

  124. 124
    Mung says:

    kf, it’s not likely you will ever get the recognition you deserve, but keep up the good fight.

    God Bless

  125. 125
    Mung says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    As I’ve remarked before, if you are inclined to religious ideas, you don’t need evidence. I’m happy to leave it there.

    As I’ve remarked before, if you are inclined to non-religious ideas, you don’t need evidence. I’m happy to leave it there.

  126. 126
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    Pardon but the infinite regress of affirmations that states of affairs obtain is showing:

    For brevity, I don’t preface all the sentences in which I express a personal view with the phrase “it is my personal view that…”.

    The English language is knocking on your door and trying to tell you something.

    Likewise, truth:

    As to whether truth exists; that would depend what the word means to the person discussing it.

    Nope, you here conflate opinion with truth; fairly common in a radically relativist frame of thought. There is already a perfectly good word for what one holds or accepts as true: BELIEF.

    Ah, but then people caught up in selective hyperskepticism usually target beliefs they are disinclined to accept (while exerting demands for standard of warrant that cannot be consistently applied) as being blind and without possibility of grounds to the point that they dismiss “faith” as utterly irrational or delusional. (Which of course from your fulminations above and elsewhere, is true for you).

    I suggest to you that there is a perfectly simple solution: truth says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not. As Ari said in Metaphysics 1011b 2300+ years ago. On this, we may have opinions or beliefs with varying degrees of warrant, but on many points we may be in error, failing to attain truth. However certain truths are self evident and easily understood to be certain, e.g. that error exists.

    So, we have epistemic duties of care to seek truth and warrant things we claim are true and/or are knowledge. Where, given the inherent dignity of and manifest moral duties towards other people, there is a further duty of care of fairness.

    I suggest to you, that these you are failing, especially in your broad-brush dismissal of “religion.”

    And, in the OP and again in the discussion above, a reasonable basis — backed up by a world of evidence — as to why ethical theism is a reasonable worldview over and against evolutionary materialist scientism and similar forms of atheism and/or hyperskeptical agnosticism, has been presented.

    For over a week, you have repeatedly ducked addressing it cogently and squarely on the merits.

    That speaks volumes, not in your favour.

    KF

  127. 127

    AS said:

    There is testimony and there are assertions – but no evidence.

    Testimony is evidence, by definition. There is also the scientific fine-tuning evidence, and the logical arguments which have been made, which also counts as evidence. However, this has been pointed out to you. Your “there is no evidence” denial mantra only exposes your own hyperskeptical bias against anything indicating theism.

  128. 128
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Does someone like Rosenberg in Ch 9 of his 2011 The Atheist’s guide to Reality [sic] recognise the self-referential incoherence and self-refutation by appeal to general delusion in:

    >> FOR SOLID EVOLUTIONARY REASONS, WE’VE BEEN tricked into looking at life from the inside. Without scientism, we look at life from the inside, from the first-person POV (OMG, you don’t know what a POV is?—a “point of view”). The first person is the subject, the audience, the viewer of subjective experience, the self in the mind.

    Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates.

    The physical facts fix all the facts. The mind is the brain. It has to be physical and it can’t be anything else, since thinking, feeling, and perceiving are physical process—in particular, input/output processes—going on in the brain. We can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain. The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives. It excludes the very possibility of enduring persons, selves, or souls that exist after death or for that matter while we live. [W W Norton, 2011] >>

    We need to understand the underlying mindset we are dealing with, and how it falls apart.

    KF

    PS: As long since pointed out, yes testimony is evidence and reasonably credible testimony and record (sometimes called observation) are vital to history, jurisprudence, affairs of life and even science. Going beyond, the universal pretty near experience of being morally governed is evidence, as is the existence of a flame and the conditions under which it can/cannot begin or be sustained. Likewise, the existence of things with distinct identity is evidence, as is that of a whole world in which we live as morally governed beings. Where, reasoned argument that summarises and refers to such then draws forth inferences on canons of reasoning presents the relevant facts, experiences and record as evidence relative to its reasonable import. But then, there is none so blind as he who refuses to put the eyepiece of the ‘scope to his eyes. As, the above so repeatedly demonstrates.

  129. 129
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, kindly cf the just above, and all the way back to the OP. You may think and doubtless will announce to some mutual echo-chamber how you showed that those silly theists have no evidence apart from easily dismissed “testimonials.” All that such would show is that which is sadly already evident above: you have crossed the line into speaking with disregard to truth in hopes that what you have said or suggested will be taken as true. Please, think again, on what you are doing. KF

  130. 130
    kairosfocus says:

    AS: This thread is about a particular assertion you have made, which attempts to dismiss millions as emotional basket cases clinging to an imaginary crutch. To date, after over a week, it is showing that you cannot back it up, other than by selectively hyperskeptical dismissiveness, drumbeat repetition, and side-tracks. Out of simple fairness, you should withdraw the statement and do some serious re-thinking. KF

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    such evidence has been provided, literally a world’s worth. You have spent days dancing around the fact of that evidence and its import in light of ontological and moral reflection upon it.

    And, we were not born yesterday. We full well understand what things like:

    AS: I think religions have an emotional appeal that some people are more susceptible to than others. For those that succumb to that emotional need, evidence is superfluous. Those that lack that need aren’t swayed by testimony. Whether they might be impressed by evidence other than testimony is yet to be tested.

    . . . mean, above and beyond being merely mistaken.

    You have indicted millions.

    This thread is a response and an invitation to you to substantiate your assertions, loaded words and suggestions thereby.

    To date you have been unable to provide a cogent response on substance.

    Duly noted.

    KF

  132. 132
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    For brevity, I don’t preface all the sentences in which I express a personal view with the phrase “it is my personal view that…”. As to whether truth exists; that would depend what the word means to the person discussing it. Hence the question: “what is truth?” I happen to think there is an objective reality in which we all live but how good our perception and interpretation of that reality is is open to question.

    Again, you’re using a referencing a truth-value in your commentary.

    “It is my personal view” – is a positive declarative statement asserting that something is true. In order to discuss anything with you, I accept that your assertion of a truth is valid. Otherwise, I’d have to question everything you say.

    So, the choice is yours. Would you be willing to say:
    “I can never speak the truth about anything.”?

    Of course, that statement is paradoxical – because it requires that the truth exists in order for you to make that positive affirmation.

    You are clearly using truth values, and assuming that the truth exists. To make your arguments, you rely on truth. Even making the argument “We can’t know reality”, relies on the existence of a true understanding.

    Skepticism about what the truth is, really doesn’t work. Because in order to question something, you have to do it from some vantage point. You stand on some foundation – observe things, and then question. But if you question the foundation you’re standing on, then you can’t even be skeptical or raise any questions.

    That’s the problem with scientism. It claims science is the only means of arriving at the truth, but we couldn’t make that statement on scientific terms alone.

  133. 133
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    Yet where is the evidence, other than …

    Other than the evidence given already … I think it would be good for you to investigate the evidence provided first.

    Do you consider “Conversations with God” evidence of Walsch’s deity?

    You’ve provided one of very many sources of testimonial evidence. As above, it’s important to investigate the best evidence offered — look to what theologians and what the best theistic scholars point to as testimonial evidence.

    You’ve also wondered why there are different conceptions of God, but evidence can be interpreted differently (as scientific evidence is). But you can notice commonalities among those who assert that God exists. You’d be looking for that – evidence for a supernatural agency meeting the general definition of God. Plato and Aristotle offer evidence and support for the belief in God. The Hebrew scriptures are theological testimonial support. Hindu belief in Brahman is very similar.

    So, there’s a lot to investigate and it wouldn’t make sense to dismiss all testimonial evidence without looking into it.

    I have my own additional supports of evidence, which work for some people and not others … but I’ll mention anyway:

    Some public miracles like the Tilma of Guadalupe, or the Fatima miracle of the sun are powerful, in my view. Some european scientists pointed to the Shroud of Turin as giving evidence of the supernatural.
    I’m also interested in excorcism. This is sensationalized and ridiculed at times – but I think a movie like “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is challenging. The book “The Rite” (I haven’t seen the movie yet) is another good one. “An Exorcist tells his story” by Gabriel Amorth offers excellent evidence, as I see it.

    I think also the life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina offers very good testimonial (and photographic) evidence.

    Anyway, there’s a lot more than merely one person’s claim to have conversations with God. Although, the fact that someone claims that is, in fact, evidence – however strong or weak it may be.

  134. 134
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I note again that 38 above specifically answers to the world of evidence point as at was it two or three loops of “there is no evidence . . . ” ago. KF

  135. 135
    velikovskys says:

    Wjm:

    velikovskys, besides the fact that all sane people act as if morality is objective anyway (first link),

    Yet we know from the law of contradiction some are incorrect, so any sane person should be aware that the subjective belief that one’s morality is absolute can be erroneous. Of course there are sane utilitarian reasons to act as if one’s morality is binding on all others.

    So are you saying practicality is the evidence for absolute morality?

    and besides the fact that morality is an empty concept under atheism/materialism/naturalism (second link)

    Subjective morality certainly is not.

    there is also the logical fact that there is no logically sustainable form of subjective morality that does not inexorably lead back to self-evidently immoral principles (might makes right, because I feel like it, because I can).

    The subjective belief that one has access to an absolute, objective morality does not solve that problem, just substitutes another justification for those actions !the ends justify the means, divine command, it is self evidently true.

    The only way morality makes any logical sense, the only reason we would have to care about it

    Morality allows humans to live in groups is a logical reason, believing one’s group has objective morality is logically beneficial to the group. Just as non moral shared beliefs, nationalism etc

    ,the only thing that explains our actual moral behaviors

    Empathy, self interest, delayed gratification can explain moral behaviors. You provide the evidence by your exclusion to the rule, psychopaths,
    “traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior”

    Lack of empathy,antisocial.

    sense of obligation and responsibility is according to the view that morality refers to an objective commodity.

    It has objective uses

  136. 136
    Seversky says:

    To re-state what should be obvious now, what I prefer to call data are the observations we collect about the natural world. On their own, they are just a collection, they don’t necessarily mean anything. However, of they can be shown to fit within an explanatory framework – that they are predicted by that explanation – then they become evidence for it.

    Observations of the finch population on the Galapagos Islands, including their eating habits and beak morphology, on their own are just a collection of data. When it can be shown that a theory of adaptive evolution could account for those observations then they become evidence for that explanation. It doesn’t mean that the theory is necessarily true but it does mean we can invest greater confidence in it and, when it comes down to it, degrees of confidence is really what we are talking about. There are very few things of which we can be absolutely certain.

    I don’t regard religious believers as emotional basket cases. There is no doubt some of the smartest and most-well-balanced people this world has ever seen have been believers of one sort or another. But I think there is also some truth in Marx’s “opium of the people” dig. Religion offers a number of pragmatic benefits which alone could account for its popularity: a close and supportive society that rallies around its members in times of personal crisis, the promise of better things to come, especially personal survival after the death of the body and a supreme being who has the knowledge and power to guarantee all these things and has a special purpose for us alone in the case of Christianity. Atheism and agnosticism can’t offer anything remotely comparable.

    Is the vast body of personal testimony concerning religious experience evidence that there is a god? Unless you specify which god you are talking about, there is no way to decide. Remember that data needs to fit into an explanation to be evidence? An undefined god is not an explanation. You might just as well call it a mxyzptlk. It’s meaningless.

    If you specify a particular god, say the God of Christianity, which is defined by certain broad attributes or properties, then we can certainly look at whether all these personal testimonials are consistent with such a being. Of course, if you do that then straightaway you are going to have to discount a large part of that data because the accounts concern different gods. It also undercuts the reliability of those accounts which do attest to the Christian God. If witnesses can be wrong about all those other gods, how much confidence can we have that those witnessing to the Christian God are right?

    The root of the fine-tuning argument is just observations and calculations from physics concerning the values of certain fundamental physical constants, that if they varied even slightly from their current values this universe would not exist. Extrapolating from that to the belief that this universe was created specifically for us is in my view, unwarranted by the data. There are many other possible explanations.

    For those of a foundationalist bent, I thought that the definition of “moral certainty” from law.com, kindly provided for us by kairosfocus, pointed out how much the assessment of evidence depends on human judgment of what is “reasonable”, it’s not something that can be rigorously defined or precisely quantified”

    moral certainty

    n. in a criminal trial, the reasonable belief (but falling short of absolute certainty) of the trier of the fact (jury or judge sitting without a jury) that the evidence shows the defendant is guilty. Moral certainty is another way of saying “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Since there is no exact measure of certainty it is always somewhat subjective and based on “reasonable” opinions of judge and/or jury.

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, cf 159 above . . . do you (or other adherents/ fellow travellers with evolutionary materialism) have a right to say I or We, much less observe etc? (The self referentiality issues on the table cut that deeply.) KF

  138. 138
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, If you look at the OP, you will see that evaluation of evidence to moral certainty has long been recognised as an act of judgement by the reasonable and reasonably unbiased person of ordinary common good sense . . . in British thought, the man in the Clapham Bus Stop. The point is, that the standard is passed if to act as though X were not sufficiently warranted would be irresponsible, even though typically absolute proof is not in our gift. These days, 100+ years after Greenleaf, Math has limits too. In short we look for a standard of sufficient objective warrant that to consistently reject cases at that level would be absurd or patently harmful. Classically, in the mouth of two or three independent witnesses shall a word be established. KF

  139. 139
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @Aurelio Smith:

    A simple “No” would have sufficed.

  140. 140
    velikovskys says:

    Seversky:

    First, if we look at examples from the Bible of where God or Jesus predict the future there are no conditionals, no suggestions that this is but one of many possible futures that diverge from any point in time. When Jesus tells Peter that he will deny knowing Him three times before the cock crows, it’s a definite “you will” and, of course, according to the Bible, that’s exactly what he does.

    It is worse than that, killing everyone except a few for the exercise of free will would seem put a damper on free will. I will concede the Biblical God.

    I thought the question you raised was more general, can free will be compatible with an omniscient God. Your second argument seems to raise that question

    My question is, do we have any reason to privilege any one of those ‘presents’ over any of the others. Was 1776 the ‘real’ one, or 2015 or 2255 or 2495? Or are they all equally valid? If one person’s unknown future is another’s settled history, doesn’t that imply that the history of this Universe is already set out?

    It implies it is logically a possibility. What causative factor could our present knowledge of a past event have on that event occurring? If everyone believed the Battle of Hastings happened in 1065, would it change the past? Would non historical people have free will since history has no record of their existence?

    And doesn’t that mean that our sense of free will is only possible because of our ignorance about what the future holds

    Certainly not it science fiction, choosing a or b can lead by different paths to same outcome. Certainly it seems intuitively true our present choices and chance can affect future realities, you are proposing it can change past occurrences as well? That is a bit like the Dembski’s theory that even though original sin happened after a event ,it time travelled back to affect the past.

    an ignorance which allows us to flatter ourselves we actually have some say in what will happen?

    That seems a different question from whether an omniscience God precludes free will. There could alternate explanations for the illusion of free will if true.

  141. 141
    kairosfocus says:

    VS,

    this is not primarily a Bible interpretation discussion [it is about a phil issue in response to a grievous accusation . . . ) but again you err for want of knowledge of the scriptures.

    The following was pointed out to you specifically at 126, but seems to have not been attended to:

    Jer 18: 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.”

    3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

    5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’ [ESV]

    In short, there is a dimension of conditionality in prophetic warnings and blessings, in a wider context of dynamic, responsive shaping.

    There is no playing of a canned, pre-set movie of inevitability here in the Biblical understanding of human responsibility. But instead, a dynamic of moral government. We are moral not mechanical. Yes, we have mechanical body parts, but those are parts of a cybernetic whole with a higher order centre of control that carries out responsible agency, cf the Smith Model in the OP for architectural ideas.

    (NB: Biblical discussions are not the focus of this thread, the focus is still on the accusation of being delusional and demand for evidence of God that is not testimony, answered primarily by way of ontological and moral reasoning.)

    In that light, there is no good reason to try to force unto the Judaeo-Christian scriptural tradition any notion that God’s knowledge of the future [as he is present everywhere and every-when] im[lies that responsible freedom is undermined.

    At this stage, with a specific correction having been made 50 comments back, that sounds rather like verging on a strawman caricature.

    KF

  142. 142
    velikovskys says:

    Kf:
    Sev, cf 159 above . . . do you (or other adherents/ fellow travellers with evolutionary materialism) have a right to say I or We, much less observe etc?

    Is that really supposed to be persuasive, the material does not exist unless the immaterial does or is your argument different?

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    VS: You really need to read Rosenberg as cited at 159 above. It is he who is drawing out the problem — though I think he does not fully recognise its force, not me. Let us know when you have an answer; this is not one where you can project a dismissive remark at those who are “other” then act as though it’s a no-problem situation. KF

  144. 144
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The past week and more have made it clear that those evolutionary materialism objectors and/or fellow travellers who have so disdained and sneered at theists as irrational clingers to an imaginary emotional crutch labelled “God,” have patently had no cogent response to even a first level reply on the ontological and moral concerns we face, even before we go on to other points in a cumulative case for ethical theism and ultimately the reasonableness of the Judaeo-Christian tradition and worldview. This should be noted for record i/l/o the course of this pivotal thread. KF

  145. 145
    JD Welbel says:

    I see potential benefits of particular belief systems and as I have stated elsewhere, I am no anti-thiest. Still, i don’t understand why some of us feel that it’s important to present evidence of the validity of said beliefs. Though it seems to me that we exist on a spectrum of entities of which we seem to occupy a position not the least complex nor the most. The same goes for orders of intelligence. Perhaps these apparent “levels” are illusory but to me it appears as such and it points me to the probability that humankind does not represent the only possible entities possesing complex intelligence. Extrapolating from there I come to the possibility of an entity or entities who exist outside of our experiential environment or perhaps encompass our environment (in fact ARE the worlds around us). This barely explored beginning of a thought process which might lead one to imagine an entity of divine properties and proportions does not seem deluded or irrational to me. The thing is, in my admittedly limited experience, it seems that for many people, thier beliefs are fiercely defended ideological territories. Evidence will never be compelling for these individuals, in fact, any belief system which comes with evidence which contradicts any aspect of the competing ideology will only be met with greater hostility and more fear.
    I am not suggesting that this discussion and others like it are useless, to the contrary, I am learning a great deal simply reading through the comments. I just keep wondering why evidence matters.

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    JDW, there has been a sneering dismissal of theists as in effect emotional basket cases leaning on an imaginary crutch, God. Ignoring the balance of relevant history, this has been linked to claimed inherent irrationality and being a menace to the community. Those things need to be answered, and at first level I have done such on ontological and moral issues and worldview level considerations. Not to somehow prove God’s reality to people who in some cases — cf above — are willing to burn down evidence, knowledge and reason — but to show to the reasonable onlooker that theism is a reasonable worldview option. On the broader question, evidence and reasoning matter due to the pivotal importance of knowledge, which is best understood as warranted, credibly true belief. Where, warrant and certainty of belief come in differing appropriate degrees depending on the type of case in hand. KF

  147. 147
    JD Welbel says:

    KF

    Thank you for that. If I understand correctly, you seem to be saying that, for one thing, producing evidence in a manner which can withstand logical and philosophic scrutiny goes a long way to balancing the matter for onlookers. Naturally, the discussion itself could potentially have immense value and I certainly understand the desire to diffuse hostility towards one’s beliefs.

  148. 148
    kairosfocus says:

    Just remember, on order of millions of Christians have been murdered by hostile secularist and linked politically messianistic neopagan regimes over the past 100 years. KF

  149. 149
    JD Welbel says:

    I’m not sure i’m aware of this. please help me to understand what group or groups fall under messianistic neopagan regimes

    Nazism-Fascism, esp. the former. KF

  150. 150
    phoenix says:

    kairosfocus, to Aurelio Smith:

    You have indicted millions.

    So have you, KF.

    If you are correct about your views, as you claim to be, then millions of others — including millions of other theists — are wrong about theirs.

  151. 151
    kairosfocus says:

    AS (attn, phoenix),

    again, note what you have actually said in the final word on evidence thread, which directly led to the OP:

    AS, 64: I think religions have an emotional appeal [–> in context, a dismissive assertion on why people take up ethical theism in the Judaeo-Christian tradition] that some people are more susceptible to [–> loaded language] than others. For those that succumb [–> loaded language, implying pathology way beyond mere “mistakes”] to that emotional need, evidence is superfluous [–> BTW, a blatant falsehood]. Those that lack that need aren’t swayed by testimony [–> testimony is evidence and may amount to warrant]. Whether they might be impressed by evidence other than testimony is yet to be tested. [–> another falsehood, as there are longstanding lines of evidence and linked reasoning that point to the reasonableness of ethical theism, some of which I took up in the OP]

    Attempting to suggest that you have merely argued for being mistaken, is misleading, given just this . . . and there is more.

    Now, p. has tried to imply tu quoque.

    This probably refers to something like my presentation of argument in the OP, that specifically evolutionary materialist scientism is self-referentially incoherent and self-refuting. Where, above, this crops up further in the thread of discussion.

    The difference is, I have provided specific evidence and warrant for such, and have made no appeal to pseudo-psychological ad hominem narratives. I have pointed out the obvious, that such has become a dominant and entrenched ideology in science and science education, as well as many halls of influence and power.

    That, can be warranted by for example citing Lewontin as one of many indicators:

    the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [Billions and billions of demons, NYRB, Jan 1997. In case yu may have been led to imagine this is “quote-mined” and/or idiosyncratic; kindly look at the fuller annotated citation here on, and the following four other clips.]

    For the self-referential incoherence of such, cf. this as cited in the OP, from Reppert:

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

    . . . and cf. J B S Haldane’s remark that is its remote ancestor:

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

    Nancy Pearcey (who studied and worked under leading mid c20 Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer) has recently amplified in her recent book, Finding Truth:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . .

    An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.”

    And, Box recently drew my attention to Alex Rosenberg, of Duke University, in his The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, in opening words of ch 9, that inadvertently underscore Pearcey’s point:

    FOR SOLID EVOLUTIONARY REASONS, WE’VE BEEN tricked into looking at life from the inside. Without scientism, we look at life from the inside, from the first-person POV (OMG, you don’t know what a POV is?—a “point of view”). The first person is the subject, the audience, the viewer of subjective experience, the self in the mind.

    Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates.

    The physical facts fix all the facts. The mind is the brain. It has to be physical and it can’t be anything else, since thinking, feeling, and perceiving are physical process—in particular, input/output processes—going on in the brain. We can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain. The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives. It excludes the very possibility of enduring persons, selves, or souls that exist after death or for that matter while we live. Not that there was ever much doubt about mortality anyway.

    So, no, the turnabout does not “take.”

    To see the force of this, contrast the almost studious evasiveness above in response to my direct presentation of multiple, cumulative lines of argument, with the focal strands being ontological and moral considerations . . . which have been tip-toed around and diverted from but have not been squarely faced and addressed cogently.
    Yes, I argue that we find ourselves under moral governent . . . that is a direct implication of for example p’s tu quoque above and the apparent desperate need to find especially Christians in the wrong by dint of a litany of real and imagined wrongs joined to angry readings of the moral stance found in base texts. (Onlookers troubled by such may wish to read here on; with a particular emphasis on the contrasting attitude of Bernard Lewis.)

    Yes, it is quite evident that we human beings find ourselves under the government of OUGHT. If one argues to this is delusional, that implies general delusion and leads straight to self-referential incoherence, as there are no firewalls in the mind. If one takes it seriously, that points to our facing a worldview foundational IS capable of bearing the weight of ought. Where, after many centuries of debate, there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of service by doing the good, and frankly of worship and prayer. The God of ethical theism as philosophy, in a nutshell. A rather familiar figure for those with some nodding acquaintance with the Judaeo-Christian tradition, but not rooted in readings of texts or testimonies of encounter with God. (Though such have validity as evidence.)

    Going beyond, you will note reference to necessary being and maximal greatness. These refer to a parallel and supportive line of thought also outlined in the OP: ontological considerations.

    In brief outline, nothing denotes non-being, and this time around, let me clip here for variety (which will bring to bear some design thought too):

    ____________

    >> let us begin with some observations:

    O1: It is a fact that something exists including us

    O2: It is a fact that we exist as contingent beings in a credibly contingent world, one that is rich with functionally specific complex organisation and associated information in both the world of cell based life and in the fine tuning of the cosmos that is the framework for such life

    O3: It is a fact that this is the ONLY world that we have ordinary physical experience of

    O4: But also, we experience that world as self-aware, self-moved beings able to choose and act into the world in ways that make a difference. That is, we ourselves are causally effective and minded. Also, we are credibly under the moral government of OUGHT.

    O5: Moreover, we have never seen anything that begins come into existence without a cause.

    Now, let us consider the issue [on propositions etc]:

    P1: We exist in a going-concern world

    C2: Something patently exists, rather than nothing, per O1 – 4. (If someone denies this, ask: how can nothing — non-being — argue or assert claims?)

    P3: Nothing, properly, denotes non-being

    P5: Non-being has no causal power

    C6: Were there ever nothing, there could not thereafter be something

    C7: Therefore, there never was nothing.

    C8: So also, there always was something.

    C9: For any possible world (which excludes non-being), there must always be something

    C10: There is no possible world in which there is nothing

    C11: In the actual experienced world, there always was something

    C12: The world being credibly contingent, that always-something would be independent of on/off enabling causal factors antecedent to it, and so would be a necessary being

    P13: Matter, being inherently composite, dependent on space and being convertible into energy, cannot be a necessary being.

    C14: The necessary being at the causal root of our world is necessary and immaterial, and powerful enough to be the primary cause of the world.

    C15: So, once we start from a going concern world perspective, we see that provided something now is, something always was.

    C16: Where also, had there instead been nothing, there never would be something.

    P17: So also, we reckon with the principle that, being independent of ON/OFF enabling factors, a serious candidate necessary being will either be impossible . . . having core attributes that stand in mutual contradiction (cf. a square circle) . . . or else will be in any possible world, including that which we are a part of.

    C18: Therefore, once we stand in a world with something, there must be something that is a successful, serious candidate necessary being, with capability to be causal root of a cosmos fine tuned for C-Chemistry, aqueous medium, self-replicating cell based, code and algorithm using [thus, language using . . . ] cell based life.

    P19: Where, it is not credible that language, codes and complex algorithms with associated execution machinery came about in our cosmos by blind chance behaviour and/or blind forces of mechanical necessity.

    P20: Where also, the fine tuned cosmos that enables such life, is rooted in physics and cosmology that equally reflect functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information.

    P22: Where also, both experience of trillions of cases of the origin of such FSCO/I and the challenge to successfully blindly search vast configuration spaces within reasonably available resources point to purposeful, skilled intelligence as the only empirically and analytically credible source of FSCO/I.

    C23: Therefore, the observed something, the cosmos we live in and the life we experience point to an intelligent designer of both cosmos and cell based life in it.

    P24: where also, we find ourselves morally governed by binding force of OUGHT attested by conscience and the credible worth of others that are as we are, leading to a need for a world-foundational IS capable of sustaining OUGHT.

    P25: Across many centuries, there has been but one serious candidate for such: the inherently good creator God, a maximally great and necessary being, the originating and sustaining root of reality.

    C26: Thus, as God is the main serious candidate necessary being in view, one faces the choice: God is impossible or actual

    C27: But, credibly, God is not impossible, so is actual.
    ___________________________________________________

    GC28: Therefore, the best explanatory reason why there is something rather than nothing is that there has always necessarily been the inherently good creator God, a maximally great and necessary being, the originator and sustainer of reality.

    Can one reject this argument?

    Yes.

    But, then one has some serious explaining to do on why one’s alternative is factually adequate, coherent and explanatorily powerful and balanced. In particular, one will need to tackle the issue of God as serious candidate necessary being and the challenge: impossible or actual.

    That is where the pivotal challenge lies.>>

    ______________

    Theists, on good reason, hold that God is possible and actual. Those who object should provide good reason to conclude that he is in fact impossible. This, by and large, is not done.

    So the claimed mirror-image equivalence fails.

    And, in response I have brought to bear another vantage point on the matters at stake.

    Onlookers, let us see if at length we can see those who resort to the God is an imaginary, emotional crutch fallacy — and BTW, if you need a crutch, you need one! — can bring themselves to the point of acknowledging that this is an utterly unworthy line of argument, an unjustifiable strawman caricature and ad hominem.

    KF

  152. 152
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    Well the Shroud of Turin is, if permission were granted, available for scrutiny. If it’s age were confirmed by radio carbon dating as consistent with the first century rather than medieval, what would that demonstrate?

    Good question. With scientific and historical evidence of the shroud, there has to be multiple lines of evidence. Carbon dating alone is one thing – but it can be subject to question (as the current carbon-dating is by many researchers). If you bring together historical, testimonial, physical, logical, artistic and technological evidence, you have a stronger basis on which to decide about the shroud. But you have to look at it all – look at the work that has been done and then evaluate it through your own interpretation. It’s the same with other religious evidence. To conclude that the evidence is not convincing, it’s important to really look into it.

    There’s a good documentary on the shroud by the History Channel “The Real Face of Jesus”, where some of the best, most current scientific evidence is explored.

    The show correctly points out that science can’t ‘prove’ that the Shroud is real, but that’s true of any scientific claim. You can’t really ‘demonstrate’ aspects of historical science. But you can see physical evidence in the Shroud that requires an explanation.

    Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNJPJ4JwHeE KF

  153. 153
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Rosenberg, as quoted by Box & KF

    We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates.

    The mind generates the illusion that there is a self, soul and that life has meaning and purpose. This illusion is so strong, that it convinced us of these things.

    However …

    Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously.

    The brain that convinced us of the illusion of self, also convinced us that scientism is true. But for some reason, apparently, we know that scientism is not an illusion. Somehow, the illusion-producing brain also told us that scientism is true. Only meaning, purpose, self, morality and the soul, apparently, are illusions created by the brain.

    The very same brain that convinced us by illusions, also convinces us of the truth of things.

    We can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain.

    One of the ‘facts about the brain’ is that it generates illusions. We can tell the difference between illusion and truth because the brain tells us. So, the same brain that is telling us that something is true, is also generating illusions and tricking us with those.

    The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives.

    The brain has not explained to us why it generates illusions of free will, and then, at the same time, convinced us that those illusions are false. But physical states cannot generate falsehoods. They can only generate what exists. Whatever a physical brain generates must be real – it cannot produce an illusion. If there was only physical brains, there would be no way to validate whether the brain is ‘correct’ or not, since it is the very same brain which is observing, auditing, judging, generating information and validating.

    It’s like asking a software program to detect errors in its own code which prevent it from functioning correctly.

    In order to validate itself, it has to function correctly in the first place (and it has to understand itself and what the ‘correct’ code should be).

    Errors in the code prevent the software from working, and thus prevent the software from doing any self-analysis.

    If the brain produces and convinces us of illusions, then the very same brain cannot be used to validate whether it is producing illusions, since the validation would be part of the illusion-producing brain.

  154. 154
    velikovskys says:

    Kf:
    this is not primarily a Bible interpretation discussion [it is about a phil issue in response to a grievous accusation . . . ) but again you err for want of knowledge of the scriptures.

    God didn’t cause the flood?

    The following was pointed out to you specifically at 126, but seems to have not been attended to:

    While I appreciate the elucidation I believe the quote which lit the fire under you was written by Seversky.

    n that light, there is no good reason to try to force unto the Judaeo-Christian scriptural tradition any notion that God’s knowledge of the future [as he is present everywhere and every-when] im[lies that responsible freedom is undermined.

    If freedom is limited to only responsible choices it is not freedom.

  155. 155
    velikovskys says:

    KF:

    VS: You really need to read Rosenberg as cited at 159 above. It is he who is drawing out the problem — though I think he does not fully recognise its force, not me.

    And his opinion is gospel for what reason? More importantly since the argument was directed to Seversky does he?

    Rosenberg does apparently believe things exist.

    Let us know when you have an answer; this is not one where you can project a dismissive remark at those who are “other” then act as though it’s a no-problem situation.

    I am not a materialist would seem to be adequate answer. But it is interesting that you invoke dismissive, that is what I found that line of reasoning. Essentially ” your argument fails because I think you believe you don’t actually exist ” or you are merely serving up a platter of piping hot red herring. Is there a third option?

  156. 156

    JD Welbel asks:

    I am not suggesting that this discussion and others like it are useless, to the contrary, I am learning a great deal simply reading through the comments. I just keep wondering why evidence matters.

    Evidence may not matter to those that are “fiercely defending their ideological territory”; but not everyone is so committed to their view. Some are actually looking for information and evidence through which they can develop a worldview model – perhaps they are disillusioned, perhaps they never thought about it much, perhaps they are honest seekers of truth.

    Evidence mattered to me a great deal in developing a intellectually and spiritually satisfying theism.

  157. 157

    velikovskys:

    Yet we know from the law of contradiction some are incorrect, so any sane person should be aware that the subjective belief that one’s morality is absolute can be erroneous.

    Any sane person knows that alltheir beliefs are subjective beliefs that they may be mistaken about. Nobody here that I know of is asserting that they have “objective” beliefs. You are stating a triviality here as if it somehow adds weight against the idea that we all act as if morality refers to an objective commodity just because we disagree on our descriptions of morality. Yes, because our descriptions vary (in some cases, widely) we should exercise (IMO) great caution in our moral activities.

    Of course there are sane utilitarian reasons to act as if one’s morality is binding on all others.

    Sane? Perhaps. But there is no moral principle by which one can justify coercing others to abide what they consider to be entirely subjective moral views. It would boil down to forcing what one believes to be nothing more than personal views on others because they want to and because they can (even writ large via society). Do you consider forcing your personal views on the behavior of others (when you beleive them to be subjective in nature) a moral activity?

  158. 158

    velikovskys:

    So are you saying practicality is the evidence for absolute morality?

    No, I’m saying that pragmatism doesn’t favor the atheist/materialist in their case against objective morality.

    Subjective morality certainly is not.

    Unless one considers “because I feel like it, because I can” a moral principle, subjective morality is empty because it necessarily relies upon ulitimately immoral justifications.

    Morality allows humans to live in groups is a logical reason, believing one’s group has objective morality is logically beneficial to the group. Just as non moral shared beliefs, nationalism etc

    A logical reason to have moral rules is not the same thing as those moral rules making logical sense or their application being logically consistent with (1) their worldview about what morals are, and (2) their actual behavior.

    Believing that morality is subjective while acting like it is objective (being willing to, in some cases, coerce others) is either irrational (you don’t realize what you’re doing), hypocritical (you realize it and do it anyway), and/or immoral (ultimately stems from “because I feel like it, because I can).

    You have to ask yourself: If morality is subjective in nature, what, in your mind, do you think gives you the right to step in and intervene if you see a child being gratuitously tortured?

  159. 159
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems I need to further document, bearing in mind that the issue at root is the evident implications of a physicalist-materialist view.

    Crick, in The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. [–> But plainly, if Sir Francis is included, this dramatically undermines his own thought. This is why ID thinker Phillip Johnson responded that Dr Crick should therefore be willing to preface his books: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” (In short, as Prof Johnson then went on to say: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [In, Reason in the Balance, 1995.]]

    In the Devil’s Chaplain of course, Dawkins said much the same in speaking of excess neurons and jumped up East African apes.

    Where, maybe the most direct statement is this from Provine in the well-known 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day address:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent [–> which entails no responsible freedom, required for rational choice, reasoning, warranting and so genuine knowledge as opposed to embedded programming] . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    With David Chalmers on Facing up to the Hard Problem of Consciousness a close second:

    The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.

    It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C? How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does. [–> catch the deeply embedded assumptions and resulting self-referential incoherence?]

    If any problem qualifies as the problem of consciousness, it is this one. In this central sense of “consciousness”, an organism is conscious if there is something it is like to be that organism, and a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that state. Sometimes terms such as “phenomenal consciousness” and “qualia” are also used here, but I find it more natural to speak of “conscious experience” or simply “experience”. Another useful way to avoid confusion (used by e.g. Newell 1990, Chalmers 1996) is to reserve the term “consciousness” for the phenomena of experience, using the less loaded term “awareness” for the more straightforward phenomena described earlier . . . .

    Why are the easy problems easy, and why is the hard problem hard? The easy problems are easy precisely because they concern the explanation of cognitive abilities and functions. To explain a cognitive function, we need only specify a mechanism that can perform the function. The methods of cognitive science are well-suited for this sort of explanation, and so are well-suited to the easy problems of consciousness. By contrast, the hard problem is hard precisely because it is not a problem about the performance of functions. The problem persists even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained. (Here “function” is not used in the narrow teleological sense of something that a system is designed to do, but in the broader sense of any causal role in the production of behavior that a system might perform.) . . . .

    Reppert, again, cuts to the heart of the matter:

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

    So, while many try to rhetorically brazen the matter out while using loaded language to subtly denigrate those who dare raise it, the problems are real and intractable.

    A priori evolutionary materialist scientism is quite evidently self-referentially incoherent. And, those fellow traveller systems built to live with and accommodate it then face the implications of that ill-advised alliance.

    Where also, to point out and give reasons for with cases of self referential incoherence is not insubstantial dismissiveness. It is addressing a critical issue that any worldview or worldview influenced position must answer to: factual adequacy, coherence and adequate and balanced explanatory power, per comparative difficulties.

    KF

    PS: I am willing to take the point on Seversky vs VS.

    PPS: Debates on Bible interpretation are irrelevant to the issues of worldview foundations addressed on ontological, moral and linked considerations raised in the OP and comments above. Here, it should be noted, I speak as a design oriented thinker [per the force of empirical evidence and analysis of the origin of FSCO/I] and ethical theist [per the force of ontological and moral reasoning and concerns], on evidence accessible to all [a literal world full of evidence, with the classic case highlighted by Irving Copi, the flame, as key case study, as well as of course after Popperian popped up, a bright red ball on a table as second study leading to first principles of reason, as well as of course Josiah Royce’s point on error exists as a pivotal instance of certain, undeniably warranted, self-evident knowledge], not within any particular theological tradition. It is illuminating that so many objectors cannot seem to understand the difference. Simplest put: roots in Athens, here; not in Jerusalem.

  160. 160
    kairosfocus says:

    SA:

    You aptly bring out the force of injecting general delusion into the world of thought:

    One of the ‘facts about the brain’ is that it generates illusions. We can tell the difference between illusion and truth because the brain tells us. So, the same brain that is telling us that something is true, is also generating illusions and tricking us with those.

    The fact that the mind is the brain [–> BIG questions begged here, and announced as “fact!] guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives.

    The brain has not explained to us why it generates illusions of free will, and then, at the same time, convinced us that those illusions are false. But physical states cannot generate falsehoods. They can only generate what exists. Whatever a physical brain generates must be real – it cannot produce an illusion. If there was only physical brains, there would be no way to validate whether the brain is ‘correct’ or not, since it is the very same brain which is observing, auditing, judging, generating information and validating.

    It’s like asking a software program to detect errors in its own code which prevent it from functioning correctly.

    In order to validate itself, it has to function correctly in the first place (and it has to understand itself and what the ‘correct’ code should be).

    Errors in the code prevent the software from working, and thus prevent the software from doing any self-analysis.

    If the brain produces and convinces us of illusions, then the very same brain cannot be used to validate whether it is producing illusions, since the validation would be part of the illusion-producing brain.

    Just one of many ways that evolutionary materialist scientism becomes self-referentially incoherent and arguably self-refuting.

    KF

  161. 161
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM: Evidence both mattered and matters much to me, too. KF

    PS: Let us all remind ourselves, as clipped in the OP, from Greenleaf in his Treatise on Evidence:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  162. 162
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: WJM is telling:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If logic is not assumed to be a causally independent, authoritative arbiter of true statements, there’s no reason to apply it. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place. If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

    For the broad worldview level discussion “at Mars Hill, Athens,” cf here:

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_bld_wvu

    KF

  163. 163

    AS asks:

    Do we have anyone prepared to testify that they have some tangible evidence for God?

    Witnesses who testify are not required to produce physical evidence in order for their accounts to be considered evidence.

    Does he speak to them? Write notes? Neale Donald Walsch has produced his “conversations with God”. Are his writings evidence for the existence of his God or are they open to the interpretation that he makes stuff up? Does his God jibe with your God?

    How one assesses the credibility of various testimonial evidence is entirely irrelevant to the point that it exists as evidence.

    Well, there are the observations. Whether they indicate a “designed” universe is another matter.

    Yes, and that other matter is the use of those observations as evidence for a particular theory – that the universe is designed. Just as objectors make use of the observed fact that 99.99% of the universe is uninhabitable by life as evidence that the universe is not designed for life. Both sets of facts are used as evidence in light of their respective viewpoints. Arguments are made both ways, which themselves count as evidence (as per the definitions I provided twice).

    I keep saying that, whatever the merits of the argument for some “ground of being”, the entailments of such being are not derived from the argument but merely assumed.

    The logically necessary entailments of such a being are indeed derived from the arguments. In the morality argument, for example, we don’t “begin with” the assumption that god is the source of objective morality, but rather through logic determine that (1) only an objective morality can properly ground any sensible, logically coherent morality which also coincides with how we must behave, (2) then the only explanation we have for an objective morality is an existential purpose that objectively exists which we can in some way sense; (3) an existential purpose indicates a creator with a purpose in mind; (4) thus, we have used logical argument to derive from observation/experience a necessary entailment of a being we call god: as source of existential purpose and thus a ground for objective, perceivable morality.

    The other logical arguments do the same thing; argue from either self-evidently true statements or necessary statements based on observation/experience back towards a fundamental premise that can properly ground that which we observe, know and experience.

    I hear what you say. Yet where is the evidence, other than personal or reported testimony, for the existence of deities? Do you consider “Conversations with God” evidence of Walsch’s deity?

    As I have said repeatedly: there is the fine-tuning evidence and the logical-argument evidence, neither of which are testimonial evidence.

    Of course Walsch’s testimony is evidence of his deity (although I’ve never read the book). All testimony is evidence by definition; what matters is (1) the credibility of the witness, and (2) whether or not there is corroborating/supportive evidence and the quality of that evidence. Sometimes, a single highly credible witness is all we need to reach a provisional conclusion; other times, we require much more.

  164. 164

    AS said:

    Depends on the jurisdiction.

    Can you direct me to a jurisdiction where physical evidence is required to accompany one’s testimony?

    But uncorroborated witness evidence is often exposed at outright lying by subsequent forensic evidence. Look at Alabama or Texas, black guys executed for sex crimes that are later (too late) refuted by DNA evidence.

    That doesn’t change the fact that it was, and is, admitted as evidence in the first place.

    That testimonial evidence is often wrong is not being challenged; the point is that it is evidence. So is the fine-tuning evidence; so are the logical arguments as per the definitions of the term “evidence” I provided.

  165. 165

    It looks to me that AS is attempting “suicide by cop”.

  166. 166
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers,

    the just above increasingly tangential stunts by AS tend to spread a toxic smokescreen across the fundamental matter . . . after over a week, he has no serious answer on the merits. Nor does his ilk, or they would have been all over this thread like gangbusters.

    WJM’s attempted suicide by cop analogy is apt in response to the latest rhetorical stunts, but when that is said and done, observe:

    a: he has never admitted that he went over the top in his initial inferences that theists are stubbornly clinging to an imaginary emotional crutch without evidence and reason . . . with all sorts of loaded insinuations on the sins and dangers of the now presumed irrational theists lurking just beneath, in the subtext. Next,

    b: he has never been willing to acknowledge that evidence is much broader than he lets on, or that

    c: abundant evidence beyond testimony has been presented in defense of theism as a worldview — moral & ontological, teleological, cosmological. Literally,

    d: a whole world of evidence. Further,

    e: his scorn for “testimonial evidence,” manifests yet more selective hyperskepticism, as such evidence (and record of it) is foundational to history, to forensics, and to many serious fields of endeavour.

    All in all, we can readily see where the balance on the merits lies, and it is not with the sort of selective hyperskepticism and dismissiveness AS has shown again and again.

    KF

  167. 167
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @AS:

    That’s it! You were warned, GEM. You continue to interpolate remarks into other people’s comments. You are now formally placed on my banned list.

    For how long!!?? KF’s editing policies have been known for a long time. Yet, you guys never learn and still comment on his threads.

  168. 168
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @AS:

    Are you suggesting a boycott of KF’s threads?

    Mhhhh…

    PS: Yes.

    PPS: YES!

    PP…PS: YES!

    [YES!]

  169. 169
    JD Welbel says:

    WJM

    thank you for addressing my question
    I genuinely appreciate the insight

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    JDW,

    This is now off on the Hitler was a Christian spoiled red herring tangent. REALLY far off topic for this thread, but echoing things found in some of the more potent of the Internet’s fever swamps.

    I suggest, first, that you have a look at what Hitler represented, here. Antichristian, not Christian, where fascism more generally was a form of Nietzschean superman, politically meassianistic statism . . . an ideology of the left rather than the commonly believed right — they were right of Stalin, who thus successfully dubbed them right-wing.

    Then, learn about the White Rose movement, study their pamphlets and ponder the price these young Catholic Christians paid for speaking truth to demonic power and being among the first to expose the Holocaust.

    Let me clip briefly from two of their pamphlets:

    WR, II: Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way . . . The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals . . . Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!

    WR, IV: Every word that comes from Hitler’s mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed. True, we must conduct a struggle against the National Socialist terrorist state with rational means; but whoever today still doubts the reality, the existence of demonic powers, has failed by a wide margin to understand the metaphysical background of this war.

    Then, to understand backdrop, ponder the following warning bu Heine, from 1831 on the consequences of the rapidly advancing skeptical-modernist apostasy of Christianity in Germany. This — from Religion and Philosophy in Germany — is one of the most stunning prophecies in modern literature, a full century before Hitler . . . and BTW was seen as fulfilled in the WWI Rape of Belgium (which is where Hitler served and likely began to go demonically sociopathic):

    Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [–> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . .], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    … Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [–> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [–> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns] will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.

    And, in it you will see one of the reasons why neo-paganism is so apt to characterise key facets of Nazism. Nope, the Wagner Operas were echoing something deep, they were not in a vacuum. Try Blavatsky’s Aryan Man myth and its evolutionary-spiritual superiority context to begin to get a grasp of what is not in the school textbooks. (And, I am holding back on certain aspects of German militarism, that led to the death of the 2nd Krupp as a blatant suicide, as well as an incident of a notorious heart attack of a dancing general staff officer in front of Kaiser Wilhelm.)

    Yes, there have been grievous sins of Christendom, tracing to the usual factors of the corrupting influence of power, greed etc. This also holds for many movements and nations across history. The core moral teachings of the Christian faith (and more broadly of ethical theism) serve to curb such.

    But it is a largely unrecognised moral hazard of evolutionary materialism that it has in it no foundational IS that can stably ground OUGHT, exposing us across time to the full fury of might/manipulation allegedly making “right.”

    Amorality and radical relativisation of principle coming in in the trojan horse of ideologised science and opening the city gates to ruthless nihilism. As Plato long since warned against.

    And, as the ghosts of 100 million victims in the Century past echo.

    KF

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: It seems necessary to again clip the core presentation of Judaeo-Christian ethics by its principal teacher, in his most famous sermon . . . the most famous sermon of all time, that on the Mount:

    ______________

    >>Matthew 5-7 New English Translation (NET Bible)

    The Beatitudes

    5 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to teach them by saying:

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
    4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
    5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
    6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
    7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
    8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
    9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
    10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

    Salt and Light

    13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. 14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.
    Fulfillment of the Law and Prophets

    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place. 19 So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Anger and Murder

    21 “You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell. 23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift. 25 Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny!

    Adultery

    27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.

    Divorce

    31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

    Oaths

    33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all—not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 35 not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.

    Retaliation

    38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you.

    Love for Enemies

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Pure-hearted Giving

    6 “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. 2 Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. 3 But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

    Private Prayer

    5 “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. 7 When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 So pray this way:

    Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored,
    10 may your kingdom come,
    may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us today our daily bread,
    12 and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.
    13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

    14 “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.

    Proper Fasting

    16 “When you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. 17 When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

    Lasting Treasure

    19 “Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

    Do Not Worry

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? 27 And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? 28 Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 30 And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? 31 So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.

    Do Not Judge

    7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. 3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6 Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.

    Ask, Seek, Knock

    7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.

    The Narrow Gate

    13 “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it!
    A Tree and Its Fruit

    15 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.

    Judgment of Pretenders

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven—only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’

    Hearing and Doing

    24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!”

    28 When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed by his teaching, 29 because he taught them like one who had authority, not like their experts in the law. >>
    ______________

    Anything that claims to fairly represent the Judaeo-Christian ethical position, needs to reflect this.

    But, again, this is FTR, the core issues of this thread need to be focussed on and addressed.

    For, millions have been grossly misrepresented as delusional, irrational and a potential menace to genuine progress. If you don’t pick up the scent of scapegoat in that mischaracterisation, something is wrong with your smell detector.

    KF

  172. 172
    kairosfocus says:

    JWT: Feel free. KF

  173. 173
    JD Welbel says:

    KF

    before seeing your response I chose to edit my comment into something less controversial and off topic. i didn’t realize you had already responded!

    [OK, understood. KF]

    In any case,

    I am well aware that Christians died in the holocaust and that ultimately Naziism is incompatible with any religion. Hitler considered himself a catholic, presented himself to the German people as a believer in god, never an atheist. Still, he persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses and outspoken Catholics. The National Socialists apparently had a long term plan to rid the country (neigh, the world!) of religion and to replace Jesus with other objects of worship

    Clealry, Adolf and Co. were evil if ever there was an appropriate use of the term

    I apologize for perpetuating this line of discourse,
    i tried to omit it before it reached your eyes!

    and i presume,
    happy easter

  174. 174
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 199

    The logically necessary entailments of such a being are indeed derived from the arguments. In the morality argument, for example, we don’t “begin with” the assumption that god is the source of objective morality, but rather through logic determine that (1) only an objective morality can properly ground any sensible, logically coherent morality which also coincides with how we must behave, (2) then the only explanation we have for an objective morality is an existential purpose that objectively exists which we can in some way sense; (3) an existential purpose indicates a creator with a purpose in mind; (4) thus, we have used logical argument to derive from observation/experience a necessary entailment of a being we call god: as source of existential purpose and thus a ground for objective, perceivable morality.

    Moral codes are derived from a purpose or purposes which can only exist in the mind of an intelligent agent. So, yes, a god could provide a moral code to us by which it expects us to live our lives but in what sense can it be considered to be any more objective or any better grounded than a moral code that you or I might compile? If the is/ought gap effectively precludes us from logically deriving any prescriptive morality from observed reality then why is a god not similarly proscribed? In what way is a god’s purpose “existential” such as to make it “objective” where yours or mine isn’t? How does assigning priority to a god’s purpose grant it greater authority than yours or mine other than that the author is held to be “greater” – such as more knowledgeable or more powerful – than us. In other words, a version of “might is right”.

  175. 175
    phoenix says:

    A related topic:

    Questions for Christians and other theists, part 3: The Atonement

    [OFF-TOPIC: a red herring pull-away — this thread is in answer to a grievous accusation and smearing of theists as essentially irrational and deluded emotion-swayed, leaning on an imaginary crutch and potentially or actually dangerous. Those who have made the accusations have not been able to substantiate. The evasion you try here comes across, then, as enabling behaviour. Duly noted. KF]

  176. 176
    Joe says:

    Related to what? KeithS presents the saddest “arguments” ever. This one is no exception.

  177. 177
    Popperian says:

    Furthermore, we have to work with words that are ultimately undefined, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use them to solve problems. IOW, I’m using a different approach, which is to start out with a problem to solve.

    KF: Popperian, again by the mere act of typing a response you affirm your dependence on the prior foundation of distinct identity.

    I am ultimately undefined in a justificationist sense. I don’t need to define who I am any more than necessary to solve a problem. To do so is to The law of identity is itself a form of induction, which has similar problems.

    We start out not knowing which things are identical to another. You cannot prove any idea of identity because your conclusion of any argument you may pose might be false should it’s premises be false. And since you start out not knowing, any of your premises might be false. So, you’re left with proposing conjectures and testing them against one another.

    Yes, proposing casual connections between causes require proposing A causes effect E because A would produce E should it continue to be A. Should it not, it would no longer be A, which is to propose that the A in question is not the A referenced earlier.

    However, you cannot make something into an A merely by defining it as an A.

    Popper coined the term anti-essentialism, which is an idea that many people are unaware of or do not understand. One such aspect of essentialism is that we must fully define our terms upfront, or we might get lost. In fact, it seems to be applicable to many people in this thread.

    To solve a problem, I don’t necessarily need to refer to definitions, which themselves would refer to definitions, etc. Again, I’m suggest that we start with a problem to solve, which is a key point which no one has addressed even remotely.

  178. 178
    Upright BiPed says:

    Take a good look Elizabeth.

    [As in, EL over at TSZ? KF]

  179. 179

    Seversky said:

    Moral codes are derived from a purpose or purposes which can only exist in the mind of an intelligent agent. So, yes, a god could provide a moral code to us by which it expects us to live our lives but in what sense can it be considered to be any more objective or any better grounded than a moral code that you or I might compile?

    Because god is not presumed (via other arguments/evidence) to be a being like you or I, but rather the very ground of being and the root cause of existence itself. God’s nature (good) and purpose (according to which oughts exist) are woven into the fabric of everything physical, mental and spiritual.

    If the is/ought gap effectively precludes us from logically deriving any prescriptive morality from observed reality then why is a god not similarly proscribed?

    God doesn’t logically derive morality from “observed reality”; god is the good, god is the existential purpose which allows us to perceive the comparable moral value of available choices and intentions in light of that fundamental, objective, universal good.

    In what way is a god’s purpose “existential” such as to make it “objective” where yours or mine isn’t?

    See above. God is the essential ground of being and the root of all existence.

    How does assigning priority to a god’s purpose grant it greater authority than yours or mine other than that the author is held to be “greater” – such as more knowledgeable or more powerful – than us. In other words, a version of “might is right”.

    You’re not understanding the nature of the characteristics attributed to a classical theism god. God is being from which we have individual being-ness; god is existence within which our existence is sustained; the universe is made manifest by god and necessarily according to the nature of god. Logic, math, morality, etc. are not what they are by authority, but by necessity – god cannot make logic, math or morality different. There is no universe where 1+1=5, and there is no universe where gratuitous child torture is good.

    Under this view, might doesn’t make right because no amount of might can change what is right – not even god. Right is what is right by existential necessity.

  180. 180

    AS said:

    I can’t reliably tell you what the law in any particular jurisdiction says.

    So you were bluffing. What is the point of bluffing unless you are just trying to not concede the point about testimony by itself being evidence?

    That you agree that many miscarriages of justice have occurred because people lie on oath and yet you seem unconcerned worries me.

    My lack of concern only reflects the fact that your objection is entirely irrelevant and trivial in terms of this debate.

    Of course people lie. Of course, all sorts of evidence about all sorts of things can be fraudulent or mistaken.

    That doesn’t change the fact that testimony is evidence by definition, and that the fine-tuning and logical argument evidence for theism is non-testimonial evidence by defintion (see my sourced definitions above).

    It is trivially reasonable to acknowledge that testimony is evidence, and that logical arguments are evidence, and that the fine-tuning facts are evidence when used to support the theory of a designed universe (especially when I’ve provided sourced definitions that make it quite clear these things count as evidence).

    One can, of course, assert that they don’t find the evidence compelling, or even adequate on a prima facie basis for a god of some sort; but you and others strangely go so far as to say that it is “not evidence” at all even when standard definitions clearly contradict you.

    That seems to me to an indication of something pathological in nature when you can’t even admit there is any evidence at all for something you disbelieve, and you resort to blatant bluffing in order to not budge on the matter.

  181. 181

    Popperian said:

    I am ultimately undefined in a justificationist sense. I don’t need to define who I am any more than necessary to solve a problem.

    One wonders what it means to “solve a problem” when there is no defined justification for considering a thing a “problem” in the first place, much less a justifiable method for defining what “solving” it means.

    Non-foundationalists are just monkeys throwing feces at each other. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t. Problem solved.

  182. 182

    In #157, I said:

    Testimony is evidence, by definition.

    In #158, AS responds:

    Do we have anyone prepared to testify that they have some tangible evidence for God?

    In #199, I answer:

    Witnesses who testify are not required to produce physical evidence in order for their accounts to be considered evidence.

    In #203, AS resonds:

    Depends on the jurisdiction.

    In #206, I specifically challenge AS to back up his explicit implication that in some jurisdictions, eyewitnesses are required to provide physical evidence:

    Can you direct me to a jurisdiction where physical evidence is required to accompany one’s testimony?

    In #208, AS admits:

    IANAL so, no, I can’t reliably tell you what the law in any particular jurisdiction says.

    Note: I assume IANAL means “I Am Not A Lawyer”.

    Apparently having caught AS in a blatant bluff, I ask him in 225:

    So you were bluffing. What is the point of bluffing unless you are just trying to not concede the point about testimony by itself being evidence?

    AS responds in 227 with:

    Not really. Here for instance.

    I assume he means he’s “not really” bluffing, and that the link will be about a jurisdiction where physical evidence must be provided by testimonial witnesses.

    Unfortunately, the link is another bluff. The link is about eyewitness misidentification, and not about any jurisdiction that requires witnesses to provide physical evidence. At the bottom there is a list of proposed eyewitness testimonial reforms intended to reduce misidentification; none of them include requiring a testimonial witness to provide physical evidence.

    Why are you bluffing, AS? Are you now in the “I’m just going to hassle them until they kick me out” stage?

  183. 183

    AS said:

    I have tried consistently to qualify by adding “other than personal or reported testimony”‘ when mentioning evidence for deities.

    I and other have repeatedly referred you to such evidence; the fine-tuning evidence, and the logical arguments, which is all evidence by the definitions of evidence I’ve provided: Wikipedia says: “Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion.” The Free Dictionary says: A thing or set of things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.

    I agree that is evidence that can be examined.

    The fine-tuning evidence and the logical evidence can both be examined.

  184. 184
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM: Excellent bluff-call. KF

  185. 185
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian: It remains the case that in your arguments, you are forced to resort to distinct identity and its foundational implications of self evident LOI + LEM + LNC, starting with the very letters you use to compose the comments. English is trying to tell you something, as is your keyboard, as is your screen, etc etc, the issue is, will you heed it? KF

  186. 186
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    Bear with me. Carbon dating can indicate the putative age of the sample under test. Carbon dating (remember we are still in “for-the-sake-of-argument” mode) says 30 AD give-or-take. What else can we deduce from the artifact?

    Ok, understood – for the sake of argument, let’s say 30 AD has unanimous support from science. In other words, this evidence means it is highly probable that the cloth is from that date.

    What we have now is a correlation of the shroud and Jesus’ death. This is tangible evidence which supports testimonial and historical evidence.

    Now, just because it was 30 AD, doesn’t place the Shroud as the covering-linen for Jesus’ burial. But, again, testimonial claims say the shroud was that linen. The herringbone pattern matches linens produced in the near east at the time. Scientific studies of pollen samples taken from the linen (and the head-covering “Sudarium”) are from plants known in the Jerusalem and surrounding areas.

    The two plant species that are part of the Shroud, evidenced by pollen grains incorporated
    among the linen threads and by their images, indicate that it came from the Middle East.
    The most likely area where flowering stems of both G. tournefortii and Z. dumosum could be laid fresh on the Shroud is the vicinity of Jerusalem. Pollen grains of G.
    tournefortii at a density of 11-14 grains/5 cm2 could not derive from dispersal by natural agents (e.g. wind)(Fig.4). In the rare cases where pollen grains of this species were found as part of the “pollen-rain” (Baruch 1993), they never reached a density of more than 1-2
    grains/400 cm2.

    http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/daninx.pdf

    Edit, added:
    I mentioned the Sudarium, which is historically documented to the 7th century. But more tangible evidence here is that the bloodstains on the Sudarium match the bloodstains on the Shroud:

    Dr. Alan Whanger applied the Polarized Image Overlay Technique to the sudarium, comparing it to the image and bloodstains on the Shroud. The frontal stains on the sudarium show seventy points of coincidence with the Shroud, and the rear side shows fifty. The only possible conclusion is that the Oviedo sudarium covered the same face as the Turin Shroud.
    http://www.shroud.com/guscin.htm

    Testimonial evidence claims that the shroud is from Jesus’ burial. Historical evidence shows the same thing (the Shroud has been preserved and venerated historically as being that very same thing). With a 30 AD date, we throw away all the “medieval forgery” claims, and we know there was nothing artisiticaly or scientifically at the time that could have created the image.

    For the sake of argument, let’s take it a step further.
    Ok, you might say, the image came from a mysterious origin. It shows the body of a man, deeply wounded in ways that correlate precisely with the New Testament accounts of Roman scourging and crucifixion. It could not have been painted. There was no technology to produce the image in 30 AD. There’s no incentive for any artisan or scientist to produce a fake image (severe Christian persecution lasted 300 years after 30 AD). Even the Jewish disciples of Christ (the apostles) had a teaching against religious icons and forbidding various touching and moving of dead bodies or that which touched them.

    So, we’re building multiple lines of evidence.

    Let’s just say that all of this is convincing. We’ll go farther, “Ok, the Shroud was Jesus’ burial cloth, it was produced myteriously and shows marks of his crucifixion”.

    Is that ‘tangible evidence that God exists’?

    This is not ‘direct’ evidence. Again, you have to use multiple lines of evidence. In this case, multiple lines of evidence supported that the shroud was Jesus’ burial cloth, and we don’t know how the image was produced, and it shows Jesus’ body wounded in precisely the manner explained in the Gospels, and consistent with historical records of Roman practice.

    But this evidence now connects and supports other evidence relating to the existence of God.

    1. It indirectly supports testimonial evidence that Jesus’ was resurrected
    2. It directly supports evidence that Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and burial were correct.
    3. It indirectly supports evidence that there are immaterial/supernatural powers active on earth, and especially active in the life of Jesus.

    Here again, there is not direct evidence of the existence of God, but a lot of support for other testimonial, logical and historical evidence.

    Jesus’ life and teaching centered on giving evidence for the existence of God. So, anything that shows his teaching and words to be true, gives support to his claims about the existence of God.

    The Gospels give documentary evidence of miracles which Jesus pointed to as being acts and proofs of God.

    So, if the Gospels become more credible, then there’s stronger evidence that God exists.

    At the very least, just philosophically, if the shroud gives evidence that there are active, shaping (intelligent designing) forces, immaterial or supernatural, in the world, then this means that materialism is false.

    We would have to explain the origin and guidance of supernatural, intelligent designing power that goes beyond nature or physics.

    The Shroud is evidence of immaterial, non-human, intelligent design.

    God is a very strong candidate as the Designer in this case.

    Is there direct, tangible, empirical, scientific evidence of the immaterial, or of God?

    No – and since God (by traditional theology) is immaterial and supernatural, there cannot be direct, material, empirical evidence of God.

    Science it not an adequate measure of such things. It is too limited as a means of knowledge and understanding of reality in this case.

  187. 187
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    So far, Silver Asiatic has proposed the Shroud of Turin as evidence for (presumably) the Catholic God. I agree that is evidence that can be examined.

    Sorry I only read this after posting. But first of all, it’s good that you could accept this as tangible evidence to examine.
    Yes, my belief is the Catholic Faith, but in this argument I’m really just supporting a theistic view.

    ID theory does not claim to give evidence for the existence of God, necessarily, but only that there is evidence of design in nature.

    Evidence from ID can be added to other evidence to support arguments for the existence of God.

    But you can’t jump from ID to Christianity in a single step. The same evidence from ID supports Judiasm, Islam, Hinduism and other theistic beliefs … and also non-theistic beliefs (Deism or pantheism).

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    SA: There are theistic forms of Hinduism? Just curious. KF

  189. 189
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    Yes, there are theistic forms of Hinduism – it’s complex. Many Hindus worship one God, manifest under many different forms. That one God (Vishnu) is infinite, uncreated, source of all being – supreme being. Very similar to other theistic views. Other Hindus worship Brahma as the one God – creator, but having been created. Others are polytheistic.
    Hindu cosmology is much more complicated (for me a Westerner to understand) than Western – I’m far from an expert on it.

    But there’s non-theistic Hinduism also, and that is basically Buddhism (although there’s a theistic element in some aspects of popular Buddhism also).

    A key point here is … ID gives evidence to support any or all of these theistic views.

    In fact, one of best ID books (Nature’s IQ) I’ve ever read was from a Hindu publisher.

  190. 190
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, thanks; I have been mainly acquainted with pantheistic forms. KF

  191. 191
    Popperian says:

    One wonders what it means to “solve a problem” when there is no defined justification for considering a thing a “problem” in the first place, much less a justifiable method for defining what “solving” it means.

    You hit the nail on the head. What can it be since the premises that justify them would themselves be based on other premises, which could be false, which would be based on yet other premises, etc. Yet, we still appear to solve problems. How do we explain that in terms of epistemology? That, in of itself, is a problem. The solution Popper proposed is to discard the search for justification. That’s what I’ve done, as described in the third attitude in my original comment. You, on the other hand, subscribe to the second attitude.

    Fideists are people who believe that knowledge is based on an act of faith. Consequently they embrace whatever they want to regard as the truth. If they stop to think about it they may accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for their beliefs or any others, so they insist that we make our choice regardless of reason: ”Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other fundamentalists because they share the same ‘true belief’ structure of thought.

    IOW, the idea that I must be a disappointed justificationist is because you’re projecting your problem on me.

  192. 192

    Popperian said:

    That’s what I’ve done, as described in the third attitude in my original comment.

    No, that’s what you have convinced yourself you’ve done – much like people that call themselves subjective moralists. They call themselves subjective moralists while behaving and arguing like objective moralists; you call yourself non-foundationalist, but you still live, act and argue like a foundationalist, necessarily employing and explicitly implying terms/concepts that can have no validity (or even any meaning whatsoever) outside of foundationalism.

    You’re stealing concepts to make your case (and even, as kf points out, to arrange the letters in your posts) because without those concepts there would be no case and certainly no means by which to make it.

  193. 193
    Popperian says:

    WJM: … but you still live, act and argue like a foundationalist, necessarily employing and explicitly implying terms/concepts that can have no validity (or even any meaning whatsoever) outside of foundationalism.

    Yes, William. Foundationaism is the idea that terms can have no meaning whatsoever without a foundation. That’s not in question.

    Merely towing the party line is not an argument. Nor does it address the criticism presented.

    The same explanation is comparable with

  194. 194

    Popperian,

    How are you expecting me to evaluate your words? Logically? According to what binding principles?

    Without being required to refer to or operate in accordance with any foundational principles by which a proposition, argument or criticism can be evaluated (under the expectation that such principles are universal, fundamental and authoritative in arbiting such disagreements), I choose to non-foundationally dismiss your “criticism” because it smells funny.

  195. 195
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian,

    do you notice that there is a serious issue of mischaracterisation of millions on the table as hopelessly irrational, succumbing to emotional appeals and leaning on an imaginary crutch, God; allegedly making us out to be irrational and a danger to progress?

    At this stage, your secondary issue over foundations of rationality etc [and you have long since been answered on the inevitability of foundational, self-evident truths but have kept repeating already answered points] is becoming a side-tracking of a thread with a primary focus on a serious matter.

    I am going to ask you to connect your remarks to the focal ontological and moral issues that raise the point that ethical theism is a responsible and reasonable worldview choice; one further supported by various lines of evidence that form a strong cumulative case.

    Where, one of the focal things to be explained is why there is a world, in which there are beings such as ourselves who find ourselves under moral government.

    Where also, serious candidate necessary beings — including God — are either impossible or else actual, being inextricably embedded in what it means for a world to exist.

    KF

    (Thread Owner)

  196. 196
    Popperian says:

    (continued: I was interrupted several times yesterday and posted prematurely)

    Different explanations are compatible with the same observations. This includes explanations for what I or anyone else does.

    As for using a stollen concept, from this entry on Objective and Objectivist Dogmas

    Critical rationalism is more concerned with objective dogmas. An objective dogma is an idea or argumentative strategy which does nothing but deflect criticism. One may have a critical attitude or stance and yet still play host to an objective dogma: its dogmatism does not depend on any subjective attitude, but rather the logical structure of the dogma itself.

    A subjective dogmatist may be relatively benign. If an experiment appears to contradict his dogma, then he may studiously inspect instruments for defects, run the experiment again to reproduce results, or survey possible modifications of the dogma. The subjective dogmatist may fulfill a useful service by exploring possible counter-criticisms; he is certain that someday the apparent refutation will be explained away and, of course, he might be right.

    An objective dogma, however, is like a spam filter that casts its net too broadly: it removes inbound criticism before it can properly reach the recipient’s attention. Objective dogmas are usually disguised as pragmatic heuristics, self-effacing scepticism, or even logical fallacies; they immunise their hosts from particular kinds of feedback, while often appearing to be the epitome of self-criticism or logical reasoning.

    The entry goes on to argue that no possible conclusion is justifiable and how an objective dogma, in the form of “stolen concept”, was used to completely ignore the criticism presented. I’m suggesting that is what you’re doing here.

  197. 197
    Popperian says:

    do you notice that there is a serious issue of mischaracterisation of millions on the table as hopelessly irrational, succumbing to emotional appeals and leaning on an imaginary crutch, God; allegedly making us out to be irrational and a danger to progress?

    KF, I’m merely trying to illustrate the connection with epistemology and theism, which no one seems to even acknowledge, let alone disagree with. Many non-theists are also justificationists, and I’m suggesting they are confused about how knowledge grows as well. So, no, I’m not singling out theism. I’m criticizing justificationism in all forms.

    Are you disagreeing that theism does not represent a specific case of the idea of authoritative sources of knowledge?

    As to the danger of nihilism, I’m pointing out that the dichotomy presented by justificationism actually justifies nihilism. That’s the mischaracterization I’m referring to.

    From this article on fallibilism

    The theory of knowledge is a tightrope that is the only path from A to B, with a long, hard drop for anyone who steps off on one side into “knowledge is impossible, progress is an illusion” or on the other side into “I must be right, or at least probably right.” Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.

    Are you suggesting my criticism isn’t sincere?

    IOW, your argument includes the idea that justificationism is the only game in town. However, not only have I pointed to criticisms of justificationism that have not been addressed but I’ve referenced alternative theories of knowledge that explain the same observations without the same problems and are universal. Namely, they do not make special exceptions for morality, biological complexity, etc.

    How is that not relevant?

  198. 198
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, right now you come across as riding a hobby-horse (one that is long since defunct . . . ), while effectively distracting from a significant issue having to do with undue hostility to and stereotyping of millions. Please, think again. KF

  199. 199
    Popperian says:

    I choose to non-foundationally dismiss your “criticism” because it smells funny.

    Can you explain how “smell” of one’s criticism has anything to do with how knowledge grows? How does that work?

    Do you mean, intuition? But all ideas start out as guesses, intuitions, of how to solve problems, which can be wrong. So intuition alone is insufficient without criticism of some form. What criticism do you have other than it could be wrong?

    “Idea X might be wrong” is a bad criticism because it’s applicable to all ideas. So it cannot be used in a critical way.

  200. 200
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian,

    Do you realise that every time you type a post, you rely on distinct identity and what flows from it as foundational, e.g.:

    C | ~C + a | ~a + n | ~n

    Likewise, notice how often you assert or imply that particular, describable states of affairs are so in say:

    “Idea X might be wrong” is a bad criticism because it’s applicable to all ideas. So it cannot be used in a critical way.

    Such should show you — or at least the reasonable onlooker, that the position you are pushing is self referentially deeply incoherent. You cannot live or think consistent with it.

    Beyond that, the ontological, moral and broad evidential issues beckon us to consider how the despised and caricatured theists actually have demonstrated that they are not merely leaning emotionally on imaginary crutches.

    Time for re-thinking.

    KF

  201. 201
    lack of Focus says:

    I thought the thread was over.

  202. 202
    Popperian says:

    KF,

    We seem to be going round and round. Did you see #222?

    Why don’t you start out by indicating which epistemological variant you are referring to as found at this Wikipedia page on Foundationailsm?

    Options presented there are classical foundationalism, modest foundationalism or Internalism and externalism. Or perhaps you think none of those are appropriate?

  203. 203
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian,

    You pounced on an analysis of why foundations are inevitable in human reasoning, and why therefore we should target reasonable faith with key self evident truths [e.g. error exists, it is wrong to kidnap, rape, torture and murder a child for one’s pleasure] and first principles of reasoning as plumbline to test if we build aright.

    This has been repeatedly used by you in pulling the thread away from its proper focus on a grievous, loaded stereotype that theists allegedly are swayed by emotions, lean on an imaginary crutch, lack and don’t want evidence, and are generally irrational.

    In response, over and over again, it was patiently pointed out that in the relevant sense, we cannot avoid such foundations and self-evident truths. It was even pointed out to you several times, that just to type a response, you are forced to rely on what you would dismiss.

    Now, you obviously want to further pull off track to a separate debate on recent phil contentions on “Foundationalism.”

    This, despite warnings.

    You leave me with two alternative possibilities:

    a: you are a crank who cannot see beyond his favourite hobby-horse (and does not care on concerns on scapegoating stereotypes and where the hostility and bigotry they foster tend to end up . . . ), which he is still flogging long after it became defunct. Or,

    b: you are deliberately using this as a red herring as it is a rhetorically convenient distractor; that is, you are a willful enabler.

    That is a sad pair of options to have to pick from.

    The more charitable is a.

    I therefore counsel you to go get a sense of proportion, and wake up to some ugly trends in our time.

    And no, I have no need to go farther than what has been already addressed starting with the infographic in the OP.

    I am confident, that is enough for a reasonable person.

    What remains clear is the astonishing fact that having luridly strawmannised ethical theists as irrational, over coming on two weeks, those who tried to set the strawmen alight have been patently unable to justify their claims.

    And, in many cases, it turns out that the irrationality is patently on the other foot.

    It is high time for responsibility on the part of those who take such presumptions concerning theists and set up bigoted stereotypes and scapegoats.

    KF

  204. 204
    Clarice says:

    Which ID advocate said the following?

    “It doesn’t matter who or what IDists infer is the intelligent designer.”

    “But IDists, including Behe, don’t attribute anything to God.”

    “ID is NOT synonomous with supernatural forces (ie God).”

    “ID doesn’t know (or want to guess) who the designer is.”

    “Science requires POSITIVE evidence”

    “That means you have to produce POSITIVE evidence for what you claim can/ did happen.”

    “Bald claims are meaningless to science.”

    “The burden is on anyone making a claim.”

    “Faith is faith. In the absence of evidence people have faith. Faith is not science.”

    “Explanations are not to be confused with real evidence.”

    “Just repeating it doesn’t make it so, assface. You actually have to present something for your words to count.”

    “And it doesn’t matter what people say you scientifically illiterate asswipe- it matters what they can demonstrate.”

    “Instead of playing games why don’t you at least try to support your position? Or is your position so pathetic that it cannot be supported? Ignorance is one thing.”

    “Perhaps aliens (who themselves evolved naturally without having IC)are bombarding our planet with invisible and undectable rays of energy that allow Irreducibly Complex Structures to form in living things. This scenario may not seem very likely on a theological level, but that does not matter. The point is that it is possible to infer Intelligent Design without implying God. Any notion to the contrary, I believe, is a result either of ignorance or of wishful thinking.”

    “I wouldn’t run to any “God” hypothesis and I would fight to the death anyone who attempted to make ID into a religious argument.”

  205. 205
    kairosfocus says:

    Clarice,

    While much of the above is rather tangential to this thread (which responds to a science, worldviews and cultural agendas theme and accusation of irrationality targetting today’s target of the daily two-minute hate, as evolutionary materialist ideology these days typically dresses in a lab coat as opposed to the philosophical garb of Plato’s day . . . ), some notes.

    I write such in hopes that you will examine them, instead of filtering them out and dismissing them through being locked up in some ideological scheme or other.

    The following will probably sound strange but I think on what you have posted is needed:

    1: The design inference proper, is about inferring design as process on empirically reliable tested signs, as opposed to inferring the identity or nature of relevant candidate designers.

    2: The positive evidence associated with that abductive inference to best current explanation as a form of inductive reasoning, for example include the only observed adequate cause of functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I), and the linked analysis of sol system or observed cosmos scale blind chance and necessity search of configuration spaces for the describing info once it is beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

    3: The verdict here is that on a trillion member database of observed cases FSCO/I is reliably produced by intelligently directed configuration (= design), and design is the only plausible cause, so FSCO/I — among other such — is shown to be a highly reliable sign of design as causal process.

    4: Thus, we are epistemically and logically entitled to infer from observed sign to its empirically and analytically associated cause, design as process.

    5: This particularly applies to two main cases. Historically, first and foremost, the fine tuning of the observed cosmos that sets up a world in which C-Chemistry, aqueous medium, protein using cell based life is enabled.

    6: Secondly, to the FSCO/I rich features of such life, from its origins and across major body plan origins to that of our own, including our peculiar mental, linguistic and moral characteristics.

    7: As the OP points out, once we make a claim A and hold it warranted, that leads to, why so. Thence, B as grounds. Thereafter, C, D, . . . So, we face infinite regress, circularity or else finitely remote first plausibles able to hold their ground on comparative difficulties.

    8: This ties directly to a reasonable understanding of knowledge: well warranted, credibly true (thus, inter alia reliable . . . ) belief.

    9: Unless one accepts and trusts an item, K, it is not a candidate for knowledge in a world of knowing subjects, S1, S2, . . . Sn including ourselves.

    10: For some Sj to know K, K needs to be accepted with grounds that it is well warranted, and credibly true (thus, inter alia reliable . . . ); albeit perhaps open to correction. (Though, there are certain foundational self-evident plumbline truths such as first principles of right reason stemming from things having distinct identity and the Royce proposition, error exists, or the fact of conscious rational contemplativeness, that are self-evident and thus are standards to judge other things by. What is self-evident will be true, will be seen as true once properly understood, and as necessarily true on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    11: In this context, we all have clusters of start-point first plausibles that define our worldviews and so must live by faith, but such ideally will be well-informed, anchored on evidence with plumbline first truths that keep things aligned, meeting the comparative difficulties tests (factual adequacy, coherence, balanced explanatory power), and so is a responsible, reasonable faith-point.

    12: this is as opposed to a sense of “faith” that is a commonplace among the schooled classes of our day, faith as blind beliefs clung to without regard for evidence as a blind leap to have some subjective anchor-point in a world on the other side of the ugly gulch between subjective inner world and whatever is as things in themselves.

    13: From F H Bradley on, it has been pointed out, first, that postulating such an ugly gulch that tries to deny knowability of the outer world, itself implies strong knowledge claims regarding that world and is thus self-referentially incoherent.

    14: A sounder base, is to accept first plausibles with plumbline first truths, and to use the pivot, error exists. This is undeniably true and self evident. It is a case of truth and of knowledge to utter certainty. So, schemes that would deny or dismiss such are decisively undermined by counter-example.

    15: One of the issues in the thread and OP above as well as the background debates, is evidence. Wikipedia provides a useful in a nutshell, testifying against known interest on the force of the matter:

    Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.

    In law, rules of evidence govern the types of evidence that are admissible in a legal proceeding. Types of legal evidence include testimony, documentary evidence, and physical evidence. The parts of a legal case which are not in controversy are known, in general, as the “facts of the case.” Beyond any facts that are undisputed, a judge or jury is usually tasked with being a trier of fact for the other issues of a case. Evidence and rules are used to decide questions of fact that are disputed, some of which may be determined by the legal burden of proof relevant to the case. Evidence in certain cases (e.g. capital crimes) must be more compelling than in other situations (e.g. minor civil disputes), which drastically affects the quality and quantity of evidence necessary to decide a case.

    Scientific evidence consists of observations and experimental results that serve to support, refute, or modify a scientific hypothesis or theory, when collected and interpreted in accordance with the scientific method.

    In philosophy, the study of evidence is closely tied to epistemology, which considers the nature of knowledge and how it can be acquired.

    16: Thus, evidence will include observations, empirical findings, testimony and record [including that of experimenters and journals etc], first truths, logical inferences on such that are not readily apparent, and more broadly, associated chains of claimed warrant that present such.

    17: And while an explanation in the abstract is not equal to evidence, inference to best explanation on comparative difficulties across alternatives that has led to identification and warrant of a given explanation as best thus far, is evidence.

    18: In short, we need to make explicit acquaintance with abductive inference to best explanation as a major feature of scientific and general inductive reasoning.

    19: In actuality we have invisible rays that are information-bearing all the time, we can them radio waves. Which, are used in remote control, and thus may be embedded in FSCO/I rich irreducibly complex systems. And, until we detect and decipher such, we may well see a mysterious seeming guidance from nowhere visible.

    20: Such a case should give us pause before reverting to strawman caricatures soaked in snidely dismissive or demonising ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere for discussion.

    In that light, we can refocus the point in this thread.

    One of the major worldviews in our civiliation os ethical theism, but al too many a priori evolutionary materialists dressed up in lab coats and their fellow travellers, would wish to deride and dismiss such as inherently irrational or even delusional, emotionally clinging to imaginary crutches without evidence, and being a menace to progress.

    That such is a strawmannish sterotype that feeds polarisation and bigotry should be patent, and is further supported by an extension of the above.

    That is, ethical theism is a legitimate and far from blind worldview, once we look at the cumulative force of a convergent cluster of evidence and argument with associated logic. And, in the OP I particularly took time to use the observed cosmos as key evidence no 1, on the nature and origin/source of being through ontological considerations.

    A root necessary being is a serious option.

    Then, with the moral issue that we find ourselves under the government of OUGHT, this points to a world foundational IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT. Where after centuries of debates, only one serious candidate exists: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of service by doing the good, and of ultimate loyalty and allegiance, i.e. worship.

    Not, as a matter of blind adherence to what we may read in books from classical times, or associated traditions of worship, but as a consequence of worldviews analysis through philosophy that inter alia will reckon with scientific evidence that points to design.

    And, as this blog also exists for the wider, worldviews and cultural agenda issues, such is a suitable topic to be reflected on.

    Where also the fact that after two weeks or so, we find advocates of evolutionary materialism and its fellow traveller views unable and/or utterly unwilling to engage the matter on the merits, speaks loud volumes indeed.

    And, not in their favour.

    KF

  206. 206
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, no-one has seriously argued that eyewitness testimony is 100% reliable. That is why there are all sorts of provisions for cross examining and even impeaching it. But to extrapolate from that to blanket dismissal is folly, patent folly given the pivotal role of testimony and record of such in all significant bodies of knowledge. In short, that we must be careful of error does not become carte blanche for general or selective hyperskepticism, as credible testimony and record are key foundational components of evidence and knowledge. You need to move to a position where you are willing to accept that everyday reality, to become a reasonable person. KF

    PS: It is also the longstanding case that it is a dictum of jurisprudence and serious affairs that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a word be established.” That Scots law would emphasise it is unsurprising as this dictum is a well known, Dominical scriptural saying drawing on a ruling in the Mosaic code. Common Law and its Scottish variants, are deeply influenced by that context, not least tracing to Alfred the Great and his Book of Dooms. I suggest, however, that — for good reason — there is no requirement that testimony be specifically supported by physical exhibits or evidence or generally by circumstantial evidence. Both classes of evidence can be taken separately and carry probative value in their own right. Of course, one seeks mutual support with multiple strands, but that rope vs chain point is a distinct matter.

  207. 207
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, you would also do well to carefully ponder the matters laid out here by WJM:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....testimony/

    Let me clip it:

    In other threads, certain people have claimed that personal experience and testimony are not as valid as other forms of evidence. In fact, some would dismiss thousands of years and the accumulation of perhaps billions of witness/experiencer testimonies because, in their view, personal experience and testimony is not really even evidence at all.

    The problem with this position is that everything one knows and or believes is gained either through (1) personal experience (and extrapolation thereof), or (2) testimony (and examination thereof), for the simple fact that if you did not experience X, the only information you can possibly have about X is from the testimony of others.

    In a courtroom, for example, the entire case depends on testimony, even when there is physical evidence, because the jury relies upon the testimony of those that produce and explain what the physical evidence is, how it is relevant, and explains why it is important to the case. Unless the jurors are swabbing cheeks and conducting DNA tests themselves, the DNA evidence is in principle nothing more than the testimony of an expert witness. The jurors have no means of ascertaining the DNA “facts” for themselves; they entirely rely upon the testimony of what they assume to be a highly credible witness.

    When a gun is entered into evidence, it is a meaningless fact – it’s a gun. The jurors rely entirely upon the testimony of law officers to inform them where the gun was found, if it was the right caliber, who owned it, etc. All of that information is presented through testimony.

    Further, establishing motive and opportunity are forms of logical arguments, established via testimony, which counts as evidence.

    Similarly, unless one is a research scientist in fields where one believes certain theories to be valid, he is (and we are as well) entirely dependent upon testimonial evidence – found in the form of research papers, books and articles written by such scientists. “Peer review” is nothing more to the reader than the testimomy of supposedly credible sources that the testimony of the authors is not blatantly false or contain factual errors.

    Outside of what we personally experience, virtually all of our knowledge comes from testimony delivered via some form of media or another. We consider the source of the testimony, and the media it is delivered through, credible or non-credible to one degree or another – but that doesn’t change the fact that when we read or hear it, it is nothing more than testimony. If you are a scientist conducting research, you are personally experiencing the process and accumulation of data. Beyond that, it is only testimony to others unless they perform the same experiments. Often, the conclusions of scientific research hinge upon the testimony of other researchers, which may turn out to be fraudulent or mistaken.

    So, when anyone says that testimony and personal experience are dismissible forms of evidence, they are obviously using (consciously or not) selective (and logically incoherent) hyperskepticism against an unwanted idea, because everything any of us believe or call ‘knowledge” is gained/extrapolated (hopefully using logic and logical arguments) via personal experience and/or information gained via testimony . . .

    KF

  208. 208

    AS offers his 3rd and 4th bluff. Neither of those links offer any jurisdiction where witnesses are required to provide physical evidence, nor do the links lead to where such a requirement is being considered.

  209. 209
    Clarice says:

    k, you type a lot of repetitive, irrelevant words, which include your usual, malicious and self-righteous attacks on lab coat wearing monsters that you fearfully imagine are living under your bed waiting for you to relax your vigil against evil so that they can devour you and steal your soul but you never actually engage on the merits of what matters and is real.

    The quotes of statements by Joe are very relevant in the sense that the extent of evidence you IDCers demand from scientists is vastly greater than what you are willing and able to provide for your IDC claims, along with the fact that you and the other IDCers not only tolerate Joe and other IDCers like him, including yourself, but you enable and encourage Joe and other IDCers like him, yet you would maliciously attack any non-IDCer who says what Joe says. Even non-IDCers who are civil are maliciously attacked and banned here on a regular basis. Frankly, this is a religiously motivated bigotry and hate site, and you dish out bigotry and hatred at a level that is unsurpassed.

    For once in your life you should take off your sanctimonious blinders and take a good long look at yourself and your fellow IDC travelers. If you creationists want respect from scientists you’ll have to earn it, and you will never earn it by maliciously attacking scientists and the evidence and theories they have worked hard to develop, and by demanding vastly more evidence than you’re willing and able to provide for your IDC claims, and by being dishonest about your motives and agenda.

    You may have seen the following quote before:

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Attributed to Albert Einstein)

    Ask yourself: What are the results of you and your fellow IDC travelers doing the same thing over and over again?

  210. 210
    Popperian says:

    KF,

    What I want from ideas are their content, not their providence. It’s really that simple. To quote Popper…

    The question about the sources of our knowledge . . . has always been asked in the spirit of: ‘What are the best sources of our knowledge—the most reliable ones, those which will not lead us into error, and those to which we can and must turn, in case of doubt, as the last court of appeal?’ I propose to assume, instead, that no such ideal sources exist—no more than ideal rulers—and that all ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times. And 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?’

    When one gives up on the quest for justification, which is an epistemological view on knowledge, the vast majority of your argument simply looses it’s appeal. That’s been my point all along. I don’t need my ideas to have providence. Perhaps you do. But the absence of providence is a problem for you, not me.

    You’ll have to excuse me for thinking the strategy of projecting your problem on me, then claiming I’m irrational for not joining you, does not make for a compelling argument.

    I suspect further discussion will be fruitless. So, on that note, I’ll take my leave.

  211. 211
    Barry Arrington says:

    I will translate Popperian’s 259 into more readable (if also somewhat more salty) English:

    “My [SNIP: rear — ed., KF per broken window theory] aches from the sound kicking to which it has just been subjected. I am going away now.”

  212. 212
    kairosfocus says:

    Clarice:

    It seems you need to answer to:

    1: Sir Francis Crick, Nobel Prize holding Molecular biologist, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    . . . as well as to

    2: Wiliam Provine in his 1998 Darwin Day keynote at U Tenn:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    . . . not to mention

    3: Sagan and Lewontin, in the latter’s 1997 NYRB article Billions and Billions of demons:

    . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [NYRB, 1997. If you think this excerpt is “quote mining,” I invite you — or more relevantly the astute onlooker — to read the wider excerpt, highlights and annotations here on.]

    In short, putting your unwarrnated but attitude-revealing personalities aside for the moment, a priori evolutionary materialism dressed up in the lab coat (2350 years ago it was philosopher’s robes) is a serious reality, and it needs to answer to the implied self referential incoherence laid out in the OP.

    Or, maybe this summary will be a good reference point, from

    4: famed evolutionary biologist J B S Haldane’s thoughts:

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

    Where also, if someone is naive enough to think that such lab coat clad evolutionary materialism does not have sobering moral implications for those enmeshed in it, let

    5: a certain Dr Clinton Richard Dawkins speak, from a Sci Am piece on God’s utility function, 1995:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose . . . .

    The true utility function of life, that which is being maximized in the natural world, is DNA survival. But DNA is not floating free; it is locked up in living bodies, and it has to make the most of the levers of power at its disposal. Genetic sequences that find themselves in cheetah bodies maximize their survival by causing those bodies to kill gazelles. Sequences that find themselves in gazelle bodies increase their chance of survival by promoting opposite ends. But the same utility function-the survival of DNA-explains the “purpose” of both the cheetah [–> i.e. predator] and the gazelle [–> i.e. prey] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [[ “God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    Utter amorality and total meaninglessness leading to anomie, in short.

    All, duly dressed up in the Lab coat, and often pronounced with crisply polished educated accents.

    I do note that your insistent resort to an abbreviation that implies an accusation of hidden agenda Creationism on the part of design theory advocates and your mischaracterisation of a quick but substantial survey of the worldviews issues connected to scientific work on origins and the design alternative, is best answered by simply repeating what you failed to cogently address — an that evasiveness while hiding behind a cloud of toxic squid ink and making a fast getaway, seems to be getting to be a habit on the part of objectors in and around UD:

    1: The design inference proper, is about inferring design as process on empirically reliable tested signs, as opposed to inferring the identity or nature of relevant candidate designers.

    2: The positive evidence associated with that abductive inference to best current explanation as a form of inductive reasoning, for example include the only observed adequate cause of functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I), and the linked analysis of sol system or observed cosmos scale blind chance and necessity search of configuration spaces for the describing info once it is beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

    3: The verdict here is that on a trillion member database of observed cases FSCO/I is reliably produced by intelligently directed configuration (= design), and design is the only plausible cause, so FSCO/I — among other such — is shown to be a highly reliable sign of design as causal process.

    4: Thus, we are epistemically and logically entitled to infer from observed sign to its empirically and analytically associated cause, design as process.

    5: This particularly applies to two main cases. Historically, first and foremost, the fine tuning of the observed cosmos that sets up a world in which C-Chemistry, aqueous medium, protein using cell based life is enabled.

    6: Secondly, to the FSCO/I rich features of such life, from its origins and across major body plan origins to that of our own, including our peculiar mental, linguistic and moral characteristics.

    7: As the OP points out, once we make a claim A and hold it warranted, that leads to, why so. Thence, B as grounds. Thereafter, C, D, . . . So, we face infinite regress, circularity or else finitely remote first plausibles able to hold their ground on comparative difficulties.

    8: This ties directly to a reasonable understanding of knowledge: well warranted, credibly true (thus, inter alia reliable . . . ) belief.

    9: Unless one accepts and trusts an item, K, it is not a candidate for knowledge in a world of knowing subjects, S1, S2, . . . Sn including ourselves.

    10: For some Sj to know K, K needs to be accepted with grounds that it is well warranted, and credibly true (thus, inter alia reliable . . . ); albeit perhaps open to correction. (Though, there are certain foundational self-evident plumbline truths such as first principles of right reason stemming from things having distinct identity and the Royce proposition, error exists, or the fact of conscious rational contemplativeness, that are self-evident and thus are standards to judge other things by. What is self-evident will be true, will be seen as true once properly understood, and as necessarily true on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    11: In this context, we all have clusters of start-point first plausibles that define our worldviews and so must live by faith, but such ideally will be well-informed, anchored on evidence with plumbline first truths that keep things aligned, meeting the comparative difficulties tests (factual adequacy, coherence, balanced explanatory power), and so is a responsible, reasonable faith-point.

    12: this is as opposed to a sense of “faith” that is a commonplace among the schooled classes of our day, faith as blind beliefs clung to without regard for evidence as a blind leap to have some subjective anchor-point in a world on the other side of the ugly gulch between subjective inner world and whatever is as things in themselves.

    13: From F H Bradley on, it has been pointed out, first, that postulating such an ugly gulch that tries to deny knowability of the outer world, itself implies strong knowledge claims regarding that world and is thus self-referentially incoherent.

    14: A sounder base, is to accept first plausibles with plumbline first truths, and to use the pivot, error exists. This is undeniably true and self evident. It is a case of truth and of knowledge to utter certainty. So, schemes that would deny or dismiss such are decisively undermined by counter-example.

    15: One of the issues in the thread and OP above as well as the background debates, is evidence. Wikipedia provides a useful in a nutshell, testifying against known interest on the force of the matter:

    Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.

    In law, rules of evidence govern the types of evidence that are admissible in a legal proceeding. Types of legal evidence include testimony, documentary evidence, and physical evidence. The parts of a legal case which are not in controversy are known, in general, as the “facts of the case.” Beyond any facts that are undisputed, a judge or jury is usually tasked with being a trier of fact for the other issues of a case. Evidence and rules are used to decide questions of fact that are disputed, some of which may be determined by the legal burden of proof relevant to the case. Evidence in certain cases (e.g. capital crimes) must be more compelling than in other situations (e.g. minor civil disputes), which drastically affects the quality and quantity of evidence necessary to decide a case.

    Scientific evidence consists of observations and experimental results that serve to support, refute, or modify a scientific hypothesis or theory, when collected and interpreted in accordance with the scientific method.

    In philosophy, the study of evidence is closely tied to epistemology, which considers the nature of knowledge and how it can be acquired.

    16: Thus, evidence will include observations, empirical findings, testimony and record [including that of experimenters and journals etc], first truths, logical inferences on such that are not readily apparent, and more broadly, associated chains of claimed warrant that present such.

    17: And while an explanation in the abstract is not equal to evidence, inference to best explanation on comparative difficulties across alternatives that has led to identification and warrant of a given explanation as best thus far, is evidence.

    18: In short, we need to make explicit acquaintance with abductive inference to best explanation as a major feature of scientific and general inductive reasoning.

    19: In actuality we have invisible rays that are information-bearing all the time, we can them radio waves. Which, are used in remote control, and thus may be embedded in FSCO/I rich irreducibly complex systems. And, until we detect and decipher such, we may well see a mysterious seeming guidance from nowhere visible.

    20: Such a case should give us pause before reverting to strawman caricatures soaked in snidely dismissive or demonising ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere for discussion.

    Shoot the spear through the middle of the squid ink cloud and kalamari for dinner, it looks like.

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

    KF

  213. 213
    Popperian says:

    Barry,

    If you’d like to create a separate thread to discuss number of criticisms that have yet to be addressed, I’m more than glad to continue there.

    However, KF has made it clear he isn’t interested in addressing them here.

    There is a pivotal issue on the table, on abusive stereotyping and scapegoating behaviour; which you and others have studiously avoided addressing now that it has been directly confronted. KF

  214. 214
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: This thread responds to a specific accusation:

    AS, 64: I think religions have an emotional appeal that some people are more susceptible to than others. For those that succumb to that emotional need, evidence is superfluous. Those that lack that need aren’t swayed by testimony. Whether they might be impressed by evidence other than testimony is yet to be tested.

    It is now a full two weeks since the OP above was posted in response to the clear patters of strawman caricature, stereotyping, scapegoating and stigmatising of ethical theists and theism; under colour of intellectual superiority of atheism or at least highly skeptrical agnosticism linked to evolutionary materialism imagined to be the “scientific” and/or “informed” view of the roots of reality.

    That stereotype and caricature (as can be seen) is that people believe in God because of an emotional susceptibility and sense of need that leads them to lean on an imaginary crutch; making such inherently irrational and — from repeated lists of real and imagined sins of especially the Judaeo-Christian Faith tradition — a potential or actual menace to progress. Where, “faith” seems to be held to be inherently emotional and lacking in/despising of evidence.

    In response, in the OP, I took time to embed a video of John Lennox of Oxford responding to the stereotype, and to put on the table a summary video on the pivotal historical evidence and underlying record of eyewitness testimony at the root of the Christian Faith, the obvious principal target. In so doing, I took time also to highlight that testimony and record are — pace attempts to scant such — very important and effective forms of evidence that should not be subjected to general or selective hyperskepticism.

    There was time taken to deal with worldview and warrant foundations, highlighting that given impossibility of infinite regress for us and the need to avoid question begging, sound worldviews rest on first plausibles that are finitely remote but sustained on comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power. Time, also being taken to show the relative reliability of cumulative cases based on converging mutually supportive lines of evidence: ropes vs chains.

    In that context, time was taken to directly challenge the vaunted superiority of evolutionary materialism, on grounds of the self referential incoherence long since summed up by J B S Haldane:

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

    After such preliminaries, the demand for non-testimonial evidence was addressed by reflecting on the nexus of ontological and moral considerations that we face as morally governed persons in a world full of contingent beings.

    The primary aim was not to “prove” theism to hyperskeptical objectors who across time — and as the above thread of comments illustrates — are willing to burn down logic, first principles of reason, self-evident plumbline first truths and more (and, such dare project irrationality on us for believing in God?). Such cannot really be reasoned with, only exposed for the reasonable person to see for himself or herself.

    Instead, this nexus illustrates one way in which convergent and mutually supportive lines of investigation underpin the reasonableness of ethical theism as a worldview choice and cultural movement.

    In particular, it is patent that some moral truths are self evident, such as that kidnapping, torturing, raping and murdering a young child is wrong and were we to encounter such in progress, we have a duty of rescue.

    That is, we find ourselves as beings governed by OUGHT, pointing to a world-foundational IS that properly grounds that OUGHT. After many centuries of debates, the only serious candidate to be such is the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of service by doing the good. (Onlookers should notice the studious lack of an alternative to such in the above thread, as a token of how strong a point this is.)

    Linked, we can look at the nature of being/non being in a world where it is a highly material question to ask, why is there something rather than nothing, non-being. Especially where that something includes morally governed, responsibly free and intellectually reflective beings, ourselves.

    For, if ever there were an utter nothing, as non-being can have no causal capacities, such would forever obtain. Something always was, raising the issue of possible vs impossible being, and of contingent vs necessary possible beings. With, a flame and its underlying enablinf on/off causal factors (fuel, heat, oxidiser, chain reaction) serving as a key illuminating case study on being, cause and contingency vs necessity of being. Where, of serious candidate necessary beings, The God as just described is foremost.

    An exploration of necessary being then reveals a startling point: a serious candidate necessary being will be so connected to the substructure of possible or actual existence of a world, that it will be either impossible — due to irreconcilable contradictions of core characteristics — or else actual.

    Actual, as a world exists.

    So, we see that as the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being is a serious candidate, such will either be impossible of existence or actual.

    In short, to be rational, all an ethical theist needs to hold, is that s/he believes that such a God is possible in light of appropriate reflections on modes of being and our existence as morally governed creatures.

    And, to reject such, the objector needs to either be in a position to show God contingent and unlikely in the actual world (which cuts across key characteristics long understood as characterising God, starting with Eternality, independence of the world, and being “The Great I AM” etc.) or else that the God conceived of by ethical theism is impossible.

    A glance above and elsewhere will suffice to show that the sort of stereotyping and dismissive objectors being addressed, are patently unwilling to take up this challenge. (If you doubt me, skim through the first 38 comments above.)

    That speaks volumes, utter volumes.

    And so, it seems that we must consider whether the eagerness to brand ethical theism as irrational may in fact be a manifestation of the defensive psychology and linked rhetoric of the projective turnabout assertion and accusation.

    For, on inspection, it rather seems that the shoe is on the other foot.

    KF

  215. 215
    lack of Focus says:

    KF: “ In so doing, I took time also to highlight that testimony and record are — pace attempts to scant such — very important and effective forms of evidence that should not be subjected to general or selective hyperskepticism.”

    Testimony is certainly evidence, but to call it effective, and to base a world view on it, is questionable. With regard to the claim that a large factor in the appeal of religion is emotionally based, I think this is self evident. All people have to do is read your comments, and those of other theists, to demonstrate this. These comments are presented with far more passion than would be expected if emotion was not at the heart of them.

  216. 216
    kairosfocus says:

    LOF:

    1: Testimony and record are inextricable from any significant knowledge base so general or selective hyperskepticism on testimony is absurd; cf my clip from WJM’s successor thread at 256:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-558095

    2: To put it in other terms, credible convergent eyewitness reports and record that is fair on the face coming from reasonable chain of custody are important at worldview level and in the ongoing life of our civilisation to the point where trying to burn down or dismiss such when it points where one would not go, is not a healthy sign.

    3: The claim I find obnoxious is not that people are usually emotionally engaged in their religious views (or other forms of worldviews for that matter . . . it is easy to see that the New Atheists are angry at God, inclined to attack or even persecute those who believe in God, and generally are so caught up that they are oblivious to how boorish, sophomoric and ill-bred they come across as . . . ) but the blanket dismissal of such as dismissive of evidence.

    4: I note, there are three main levers of persuasion, pathos, ethos, logos. Of these,

    a–> emotions are deeply embedded with perceptions, judgements and evaluations and so

    b –> whether or not they are appropriate pivots on the soundness of these. Next,

    c –> while we rely on authorities starting with dictionaries and teachers etc for 99+% of real world arguments, no authority is better than underlying facts, reasoning and assumptions. Thus,

    d –> the critical form of argument is the least persuasive, the acquired taste and skill/art of fact and logic leading to sound or at least reliable conclusions when done right. Where,

    e –> to warrant A, requires B, thence C, D . . . so we face the triple issue infinite regress vs circularity at some level that begs questions vs a finitely remoteset of first plausibles tested per comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power; cf OP. Where also,

    f –> self-evidence is not a synonym for obviousness (the obvious, not least, can be wrong). Instead,

    g –> it denotes truth claims or principles that — once understood in light of our experience of the world as rationally contemplative thinkers — will be seen to be true and to be necessarily true on pain of PATENT absurdity on attempted denial or dismissal. (Cf. Error exists.)

    5: In the above, the pivot of the argument is not a futile attempt to prove to the unreasonable — people who show yet again willingness to burn down the house of reason itself, and who wish to play games with what evidence is, and many other rhetorical stunts — but simply to show that ethical theism (in the teeth of very loaded strawman caricature attacks) is a reasonable view.

    6: so, whether or not I show passionate concern to stop a dangerous stereotyping and scapegoating attack is not directly relevant to the matter.

    7: What I have done is to highlight that credible evidence exists, that evidence should not be given short shrift to one’s convenience, that evolutionary materialist objectors have serious rationality problems to the point where they may well be exerting a projective turnabout defensive mechanism, and to point out on the cumulative impact of moral and ontological considerations, that generic ethical theism is a reasonable worldview.

    8: Indeed, it is at least as plausible as other serious alternatives, on comparative difficulties — especially once it is seen that our being under moral government points to a world foundational IS capable of bearing that weight, multiplied by God as a serious candidate to answer to why there is something instead of nothing.

    9: with the challenge there to those who would deny or dismiss theism, that as God is indeed a serious candidate necessary being, once his existence is possible, he will be actual.

    So, there is a serious issue on the table to be answered, not evaded. And it is doubly serious given the sort of contempt, strawman tactic stereotyping and scapegoating behaviour that are now increasingly being directed to Christians specifically; much of it coming from radical secularist activists (including many in halls of power).

    So, it is not good enough to suggest that if you feel strongly about a matter your case can be dismissed.

    There is no lack of focus on the pivotal question of credible warrant . . . at least on the part of those who have defended ethical theism above.

    It is seriously time for rethinking.

    KF

  217. 217
    Popperian says:

    KF,

    First, it’s unclear how criticism of the argument you presented in the PO is not relevant.

    I’ve spoken to several theists about their beliefs, many of which I’m closely related to. Two have told me point blank on multiple occasions that if Christianity is false, they do not want to know. Any evidence or arguments that suggest it is false is simply not welcome.

    Are these people not theists?

    Another presented arguments that were justificationist in nature. Again, When one gives up on the quest for justification, which is an epistemological view on knowledge, the vast majority of your argument simply looses it’s appeal.

    Again, what I want from my ideas are then content, not their providence.

    Furthermore, I’ve pointed to criticism of the idea that justification is actually possible, which has yet to be addressed without repeating the party line that justification is necessary. Nor has anyone explained how it would actually work, in practice.

    From this article on fallibilism

    It is hard to contain reason within bounds. If you take your faith sufficiently seriously you may realize that it is not only the printers who are fallible in stating the rules for ex cathedra, but also the committee that wrote down those rules. And then that nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable. It is precisely because you, being fallible and having no infallible access to the infallible authority, no infallible way of interpreting what the authority means, and no infallible means of identifying an infallible authority in the first place, that infallibility cannot help you before reason has had its say.

    To use an example, you used reason, of some sort, to personally decide that the one true God wouldn’t act like Mohamed, but would act like Yahweh. You use reason to determine that ISIS is wrong about killing apostates. Yet both claim to be infallible sources. Although it was based on bad philosophy, reason had its way first. So, again, I’m suggesting that theism is a special case of a specific epistemological position on knowledge. One that has not withstood significant criticism.

    As such, it seems that not only is theism not a crutch you need, but a crutch you cannot actually use, in practice. You’re confused about actually justifying your beliefs, since it isn’t actually possible in practice. When pointed out, you merely claim, we must because without it there could be no knowledge. But, again, that’s a false dilemma which is justified by justificationism itself.

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically.”

    It’s unclear how the author could calculate the probability that a theory is true or probably true. Probably is only useful in the case of inter-theory propositions where the theory constrains all the possible outcomes. However, the author is assuming it’s useful in the probability of a theory itself. How does he know all the possible outcomes? What of the probabilities of theories we have yet to propose? IOW, he is grossly overestimating the usefulness of probability.

    Furthermore, it’s unclear how one’s mind being “non-material” solves that problem. How does it work, in practice? How does the non-maternal interact with the material? Could we ever know how God works? if not, you’re drawn a line which you claim that reason cannot pass. How do you know the line actually exists there, rather than somewhere else?

    And, again, the quest to make them “sound” is a quest for justification.

  218. 218
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    First, setting up some unamed persons as strawman representatives of theism is a fallacy of the first order.

    Yes, many who believe in God are uninterested in arduous debates, especially with someone likely to go into all sorts of side issues and side tracks requiring a fair degree of sophistication to answer. But that does not equate to theism or theists in general. And it for sure does not address either the fact that just to pose an objection you have to rely on what you would deny, or that in the OP some serious issues are put on the table that at minumum mean that theism is a serious worldview, not irrationality tantamount to delusion.

    Which is what was put forth by AS as representative of a fairly common class of atheistical skeptic who hold “religion” in contempt as irrational and dangerous. Imagining, themselves to be paragons of brilliance and intellectual virtue.

    Your attempt to undermine the structural pattern that worldviews inevitably rest on finitely remote first plausibles that ideally should pass the bar of comparative difficulties and should include first principles and first truths of reason that are self-evident as plumbline testing guide-stars, also fails. It seems that it simply will not register with you short of undeniable, personally crushing system collapse, that your stance fails the simple test of what happens as you begin to speak or type. For, you are forced to depend on distinct identity just to type letters in words and sentences, and by arguing that say I am in error, you are forced to face the undeniable truth, error exists. Likewise, you are undeniably conscious and more.

    Plumbline truths like this are foundational and cut clean across your attempted scheme.

    It is factually inadequate, incoherent and explanatorily defective.

    It is not a serious worldview.

    Even as, a priori evolutionary materialism, for all its lab coat clad pretensions and airs, is irretrievably incoherent and is not a serious worldview.

    You will see — if you will simply read what is in the OP rather than what you imagine is there — that I start from the existence of a real world in which we are conscious, minded, morally governed creatures. Much stems from that as one reflects on possible vs impossible beings, non-being, contingent being and necessary being. Including, particularly, that if ever there were an utter nothing then nothing would forever obtain.

    Something is; so, something always was.

    And, a serious candidate for that is God.

    From which, we may ponder the ontological-modal, cosmological and moral issues, leading to recognition that something like God will either be impossible or else actual.

    And that is the challenge the atheist or fellow traveller faces: God is either impossible or actual, and there is no serious argument on the table that God is an incoherent concept as a square circle is.

    The nexus between modal ontological and moral considerations then yields a characterisation of God that is a yardstick test: inherently good, eternal creator, necessary and maximally great being, worthy of service by doing the good. (Where, let us do evil that good may come is its own patent refutation.)

    All of this is long before one looks at traditions, religions, scriptures, evidence of prophecy and fulfillment, life transforming encounter with God, the history of Jesus of Nazareth.

    But, in particular Jesus of Nazareth is critical further, decisive, evidence. (Accordingly, I suggest you take the time to actually watch the linked video on the Case for Christ, as a basic 101 that I am confident will be helpful to someone open to actual evidence.)

    KF

    PS: If you are puzzled on mindedness, I suggest this can wait as it is secondary to recognising that we are conscious, rationally contemplative creatures. I simply point here on to an outline in response to evolutionary materialism at 101 level, with particular reference to the implications of the Smith Cybernetic system model:

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....html#intro

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    Popperian says:

    KF: First, setting up some unamed persons as strawman representatives of theism is a fallacy of the first order.

    Are you suggesting their testimony, or mine, is not relevant if we know exactly who they are? That seems to be rather problematic for a great deal of the Bible as many sources are not known exactly known or in question.

    KF: Yes, many who believe in God are uninterested in arduous debates, especially with someone likely to go into all sorts of side issues and side tracks requiring a fair degree of sophistication to answer. But that does not equate to theism or theists in general.

    Except, explicitly saying they do not want to know if theism is false and that any kind of criticism is unwelcome and will be completely ignored is not the same as merely being “uninterested in arduous debates”. Simply put, they do not want to live in a world where God doesn’t exist. And they sustain this by consciously ignoring criticism.

    KF: Which is what was put forth by AS as representative of a fairly common class of atheistical skeptic who hold “religion” in contempt as irrational and dangerous.

    Which I addressed in my first comment. Janism isn’t dangerous, yet it’s a religion. The problem is someone claiming to have infallibly interpreted an infallible source. That’s what is irrational and, yes, dangerous. As is presenting the false dilemma of justifications or nihilism, with both justify themselves. IOW, I’m suggesting you’re part of the problem which you rally against.

    Imagining, themselves to be paragons of brilliance and intellectual virtue.

    At which point, you’re putting words into AS’ mouth. We’ve made progress since then. However, this doesn’t mean we have an ultimate solution. Should we me more advance civilizations, they will have more advanced explanations for how knowledge grows, but they will improve on the ones we have.

    For, you are forced to depend on distinct identity just to type letters in words and sentences, and by arguing that say I am in error, you are forced to face the undeniable truth, error exists. Likewise, you are undeniably conscious and more.

    Again, I’ve already addressed this in 147, 222 and 240. Apparently, you simply have no response, other than to repeat it.

    One key point you have yet to address is differences in our approach knowledge. Specifically, staring with a problem, then conjecturing explanatory theories how the world works which might solve them, then test those theories for errors, then repeating the process when even better problems appear. The idea that I’m conscious or the idea that things will not spontaneously change into something else, thus violating the law of identity, is one of those ideas. Yes, they play a key role in a host of other explanations, but they are ideas none the less.

    You, on the other hand, seem to think we cannot make any progress at all without having ultimate foundations from which to work from. But this is a philosophical position, which theism is a special case of.

    Perhaps you think this philosophical position is itself self-evident and therefore not subject to criticism?

    KF: You will see — if you will simply read what is in the OP rather than what you imagine is there — that I start from the existence of a real world in which we are conscious, minded, morally governed creatures. Much stems from that as one reflects on possible vs impossible beings, non-being, contingent being and necessary being. Including, particularly, that if ever there were an utter nothing then nothing would forever obtain.

    Something is; so, something always was.

    And, a serious candidate for that is God.

    Again, I do not need to have ultimate solutions to solve problems because I’m not a justificationist. The lack of such is a problem for you, not me. So, you have a “serious candidate” for a position that doesn’t actually need to be filled. Nor have you explain how it actually “fills” anything in practice.

    Reason always comes first.

    PS: If you are puzzled on mindedness, I suggest this can wait as it is secondary to recognising that we are conscious, rationally contemplative creatures. I simply point here on to an outline in response to evolutionary materialism at 101 level, with particular reference to the implications of the Smith Cybernetic system model:

    I’m not puzzled, KF. Adding God to the mix does not actually add to the explanation. Is God conscious and does he use logic? If so, where did his consciousness come from? Where did God’s logic come from? Why doesn’t God’s properties need to be explained, while ours does? Again, this sort of arbitrary dismissal of criticism was addressed in my first comment.

    Bartley: If one attempts to provide reasons for the supporting argument then an infinite regress can be forced by anyone who presses for more supporting statements which in turn demand justification. It appears that this can only be avoided by a dogmatic or arbitrary decision to stop the regress at some stage and settle on a belief at that point.

    This dilemma creates ‘conscientious objections’ to open-mindedness because a logical chain of argument apparently justifies resistance to counter arguments by suggesting that the only way out of the infinite regress is to place an arbitrary limit on criticism at some point: ‘Here I stand’. To the despair of people who believe in reason, their opponents can defeat the principle of open-ended criticism and debate on impeccably logical grounds, simply by pointing to the problem of the infinite regress.

    Theism is an example of the sort of ‘conscientious objections’ that Bartley is referring to. It prevents progress, which is a key property of bad philosophy. It says that moral knowledge cannot genuinely grow because it has always existed and actually does not change. Yet we seem to see examples of just this: the growth of moral knowledge.

    Take the example of PTSD. Our knowledge of the effect that waging war has on human beings has grown. Yet, the Old Testament suggests that Yahweh wasn’t merely a tribal god, but the one true God who has always known all moral knowledge, yet commanded the Israelites to commit genocide against the Midianites and Amalekites. We’re not talking about bombing enemy targets and troops from the air or even fire fights with infantry from a distance with a M16 – which still leaves some soldiers traumatized – but actually killing women and their unborn children with a sword.

    Why does Yahweh seem to be unaware of how traumatizing this would be? Why not simply make them disappear rather than desensitize the Israelite men to committing violence against women and children? The explanation is, moral knowledge genuinely grows, just like all of our knowledge.

    Do you really think that the trend of accepting same sex relationships and marriage is going to reverse itself? How will you explain this if it does not?

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    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, arguments about theism are not at all comparable to someone’s experience with God. You are comparing mangoes with gravel. That someone declines to get into a long complicated debate has nothing to do with whether or no they have a genuine experience with God. And, to then use such to suggest there is not a serious case to be addressed does not speak well for you. As for the rest, it can wait. I’ll just suggest that my description of AS’ tone and substance on several threads of exchange is unfortunately apt. If you doubt, cf an earlier corrective thread linked in the 1st para of the OP. KF

  221. 221
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On the appeal to democracy/public opinion trends in a cave of shadow shows cf here on the Ac 27 test:

    http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....-year.html

    KF

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    kairosfocus says:

    O, TV is today’s version of Plato’s cave shadow shows. KF

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