Does science equal truth?

Aug 21, 2013


Discussion by: jonaswl

I am very new to this discussion forum and do not know if this topic has been discussed. If it turns out that it has been, then I apologize.

Not too long ago I decided to cancel my membership of the Danish National Church thanks to the works of Professor Dawkins. That lead to a discussion with a friend of mine regarding truth. One might say that everything – religion, science, etc. – is based upon premises. We – the atheist who believe that science equals truth – believe this, because we have set such premises that tells us, that what we can see, smell, touch, etc. is real. Religious people may go further and believe that there are more to the world than our sences can ever tell us. Again it is all about premises. We can never really know for sure what is real and what is not, so how can we in fact be sure that science equals truth and that we as atheist are more right than believers?

318 comments on “Does science equal truth?

  • 1
    Michael Fisher says:

    You are perhaps confusing truths with values. Religionists like to pull this trick all the time. Often when they talk about truths they are really talking about morals & other values which are not the purview of science.

    Science does not equal truth. Truth is a slippery concept that will for ever keep the philosophers busy.

    Science is a practical subject that builds upon certain foundational principles that we assume to be true for our world

    Roughly speaking those principles are:-
    Uniformity across space & time
    Repeatability
    Symmetry

    End of.



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  • 2
    OnTheEdge says:

    Science has proven itself able to provide the best estimates of the truth (i.e., what things are really like) based on evidence and processes which anyone — given the time and willingness to learn — can use to replicate/validate the estimates of truth generally accepted by the scientific community. If they are very good and very lucky, they may even create new estimates of truth not previously known or accepted today.
    Are there actual “truths” that the scientific process is not able to evaluate? Perhaps, but without a method for me to replicate/validate those truths, what good are they? I can say, for me, “They provide nothing good and tend to waste valuable time and human resources that could be better spent making our world a better place for us all.”



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  • 4
    thomas_1969 says:

    No, science does not equal truth. Science equals error correction. Still, that makes scientific findings more likely to be true than religious doctrines. Religions often enshrine their errors in dogma, uncorrected indefinitely. The scientific process, by contrast, may not protect us from erring initially, but it does protect us from erring forever. And that, to answer your question, is why we’re “more right” than religious believers.



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  • Truth, ie. knowledge and understanding of reality exists out there in the Universe, just like Michelangelo’s monumental figures already existed in blocks of marble before he started working on them. According to him, his only task was to chip away at the marble in order to ‘uncover’ the figures within. That is what science does – it chips away at the marble of reality in order to ‘uncover’ the truth of it within. Like the sculptor’s work on the marble, it is work in progress for science, and with every chip it makes we manage to glimpse more of the truth. Religion, however, is still just sitting and staring at the marble block.



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  • Science is an approximation of truth. It has evidence. It has been debated and taken as consensus. It can be retested. It might be final truth. Usually when it is replaced, it is replaced with a refinement that gives even more accurate errors. We don’t find it was less accurate than claimed.

    The competition is not even an approximation of truth. It is it just what someone thought might be true or should be true. It has a very poor record for accuracy.



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  • Read some text books or more advanced books on science. I suggest Daniel J. Fairbanks Evolving: The Human Effect and Why It Matters. It is amazing how interwoven science is. If one piece were wrong hundreds of others would have to be wrong too.

    Religious “knowledge” has no cohesion. There are thousands of inconsistencies in the bible. It was all just made up. Any time you check it with reality it turns out to be bullshit. It is simply never right about anything. It has no attributes of truth: namely consistency with itself, consistency with observed reality, it offers no reasons to support its truth, a trail of how the truth was discovered.



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  • 8
    Less Offensive Apefeces says:

    One theory goes you could just be a brain in a jar.

    Since, in principle, it is impossible to rule out oneself being a brain in a jar, there cannot be good grounds for believing any of the things one believes; a skeptical argument would contend that one certainly cannot know them, raising issues with the definition of knowledge. Therefore like everything else ‘the truth’ is really only a subjective concept for each individual to consider.
    Although if religion told you it was safe to jump off a very tall building and science told you that it might be a really bad idea for ones health, even if you were just a brain in a jar, which truth would you choose?



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  • 9
    fabi11975 says:

    Science dont search one truthScience search to describe rationaly the reality. Science is not a believieng. All resut must be and be verified. Youcan thinking from youre scientisfic knowledge. The science have some result, who s simplify the life. Science don tsearch the truth, it s one thinking about working of this universe.
    Fabien M, french athee



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  • Science does not equal truth and does not claim to equal truth. It does, however, provide the best known method for arriving at the truth.

    I think it’s – more or less – as simple as that.



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  • 11
    Pauly01 says:

    No – Not always , there are many private interests and biases that obscures the method. It can be done consciously or unconsciously.

    Although It is obviously the best way we can discover facts about our universe.

    Looking at the above ‘Fact vs Truth’ , ‘Truth’ seems to have a narrative that goes along with it , that narrative can be unhelpful.

    Anyway IMO, science offers the best way forward even when we look at ‘truth’ as an existential concept.



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  • jonaswl

    Youa re right – everything is based on premises. However, I think you may find that your religious friend also shares the beleif that science equals truth and accepts the same premises. in fact, the idea that science is not the truth can more easily be reconciled with atheism than it can with Christianity.

    However, to answer the question as to how you can argue that atheists are more right than believers then you need to fall back to philosophical premises rather than science itself.



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  • 13
    Alan4discussion says:

    @OP – That lead to a discussion with a friend of mine regarding truth. One might say that everything – religion, science, etc. – is based upon premises.

    The diffence in the premises is quite clear.

    Religions believe that “truth” can appear by revelation – it just pops up in a believers mind and is accepted without evidence by “faith”. – Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faith

    Scientists also use hunches and inspriration, but then form and test hypotheses, rejecting those which do not match the properties of the material world/universe, thus identifying scientific theories and laws.

    We – the atheist who believe that science equals truth

    Science does not guarantee truth, but it does provide the best and most accurate methodology humans have of identifying “truths” about the real world – correcting any errors as it goes.

    .- believe this, because we have set such premises that tells us, that what we can see, smell, touch, etc. is real.

    I would say “Have confidence in”, rather than “believe”. Believe is too ambiguous as it also covers unevidenced “faith-thinking” views, which should not be confused or equated with well tested scientific laws or theories.

    Religious people may go further and believe that there are more to the world than our sences can ever tell us.

    They will claim this, but on closer examination, we usually find they have not even gone as far as basic science.
    There is indeed much more to the universe than our senses can see. That is why science uses microscopes, telescopes, remote space probes, ground penetrating radar, multispectral scanners etc. Theists on the other hand, merely use imagined gapology in pretending that they can make up anything they like about the unknown and call it “magic” (using vague terms). – Frequently sitting in denial, making fools of themselves when the “unknown to them”, turns out to be well known to science.

    Again it is all about premises.

    The believer’s premise is that internal self referencing thoughts confirm “faith-belief”, but this is only the circularity of checking the basic programming of the brain which came up with the “faith notions”. It avoids external testing against reality, so effetively allows the beliver to believe anything which is not inconsistent with their childhhood (indoctriated) notions and presuppositions! With cognitive dissonance and compartmentalised thinking, they can even accept self contradictions.

    We can never really know for sure what is real and what is not,

    This is a phiosophical red-herring! If you are not real and do not exist, we are wasting our time having this discussion. Scientific methodology is precisely about avoiding individual biases and delusions.
    “Faith” is about indulging and exalting such personal and group whimsicalities. I would suggest reading this book to clarify that view:- http://store.www.richarddawkins.net/products/the-magic-of-reality-hardcover

    so how can we in fact be sure that science equals truth

    We cannot be 100% certain, but only to high or very high probabilities. (I am very confident that anyone who walks on air outside a tenth story window WILL encounter the theory of gravity shortly before encountering the ground!)
    Repeated independent objective testing confirms scientific knowledge. Science works in the real world.

    and that we as atheist are more right than believers?

    “Belief systems” only work in the imagination of believers, which is why they have to cherry-pick coincidences, invent pseudo-facts, use fallacious thinking, and make up contorted mental gymnastics, to try to rationalise speculative nonsense or fiction, into something more credible.



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  • 14
    SaganTheCat says:

    science = the act of establishing truth

    in answer to your final question, we can’t be 100% sure but it’s a falacy to think this gives any credence to religious beliefs whatsoever. I am satistfied that my senses have conveyed enough information to my brain to establish the universe i live in is governed by natural laws. I accept in order ot reach this conclusion I have had to have faith in my senses not fooling me.

    there are only two possibilities.

    one; my senses are more or less right (i.e. they still fool me, make me see things that aren’t there, get paranoid over situations where I don’t know all the details etc…) because any anomolies can be filtered out using reason and logic (i.e. I jumped at the wall because I hunt moths but the fact I failed to catch a moth or see one fly off proves my senses momenterily let me down. it was probably a trick of the light). Over the years continuing data further supports the reality in which I have come to understand. therefore the “truth” is what can be proven beyond reasonable doubt using reason.

    two; I’m wrong. for this to be the case, the data received by my senses is so useless there is no point in believing in anything whatsoever. therefore, why would i believe there’s such a thing as god because my faulty senses informed me someone who may or may not exist, may or may not have insisted there is a god.

    I’ve heard of this falacy being referred to as “going nuclear”. the argument is utterly laid to waste by the one fact that since no one can prove that anything is utterly true, everything you’ve ever learned could be wrong, but the same must apply to the person arguing with you. both sides lose.

    so there are two options.

    1. Applying reason and logic to the information my senses deliver is the way to establish truth

    2. truth doesn’t exist in any way that can be established



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  • 15
    papa lazaru says:

    Science = Search for truth, and establishing the best methodology to do it, following the breadcrumbs, no matter where they lead to. That’s the basic ideology of science.

    If some faith-head tells you ‘yeah, that’s what religion is too!’, tell him is methodology and epistemology are flawed.



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  • 16
    canadian_right says:

    Science is a method for getting a better and better understanding of reality over time. Science observes the real world, tries to make sense of it, find theories that explains the observed reality, then TEST these theories. Science is willing to say, “I got it wrong” if new evidence shows a mistake was made. Science is trying to get closer to what is real. It never claims to be 100% the truth. Some parts of science have so much evidence that it is unlikely that any radical changes are going to be discovered.

    Science works even if you don’t believe in it.

    Science can help with morals and ethics. You do have to decide on a few basics that are hard to prove objectively, for example it is bad to harm people, or it is good to increase the well being of people, but these axioms shouldn’t be controversial to most people. Then you can use science to observe the real world and see what works. There is strong evidence that secular societies are healthier, happy, and more equal than religious societies.

    Many religious people mean “my religious dogma” when they say “the truth”. There is no evidence that any gods exist. Saying there might be something beyond the real world is meaningless as you are then referring to something that by definition cannot affect you.



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  • 17
    PhilJans says:

    Can we stop using the word Truth and use Reality instead. Or maybe if you can’t let go of this world always use it in like this “truly real”.
    Science want to inform us of reality: does the earth is the centre of the Universe, Is it flat, How old is it. The reality is that the earth isn’t the centre of the Universe and it’s not even near the centre: that is the Reality of that situation. So Galileo was telling the…. “truth” 😉
    And one other word: when you say “we… believe this…” Stop using Believing and start using Thinking:
    Believing is the process by which someone comes to conclusions/judgment with the obligation of not using his intelligence and not using the vast amount of knowledge homo sapient has accumulated since it’s apparition in the evolution process. Religions people believe that the world is 4000 years old even though facts all prove otherwise.
    Thinking is the process by which someone comes to a conclusions/judgment with the obligation of Using his intelligence and the vast sum of knowledge accumulated since homo sapient appeared. We analyse it and now we think Santa Clauss doesn’t exist and it’s time all grownups to accept this.



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  • 18
    Reason Saves says:

    Science is not truth, but it is always converging on the truth. We know this because it objectively and systematically determines the uncertainty (error) in its propositions. It’s claims are always tempered by the phrase “given all the available data”, and it strives to minimize uncertainty by retesting its propositions and acquiring new data.

    It may well be that we’re living in a simulation and it may well be that science can never expose that. But if we are in a simulation, given all the available data and within the error margins, science can tell us what it’s like inside.



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  • 19
    Peter Grant says:

    One might say that everything – religion, science, etc. – is based upon premises.

    No science is not based on a priori premises, but on evidence.

    We – the atheist who believe that science equals truth

    In a rational and non-absolutist sense, yes. Logical truth is only trivially true.

    believe this, because we have set such premises that tells us, that what we can see, smell, touch, etc. is real.

    The scientific method was mainly developed to help compensate for how limited our senses really are.

    You should read The Relativity of Wrong.



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  • 20
    secularjew says:

    Religious beliefs are based on a fantasy, and not on any sort of evidence (and you don’t have to believe anything based on bad or nonexistent evidence). Scientific beliefs are, of course, based on evidence, and even if we were to indulge some baseless, but hard to disprove claim, like if we were to suppose that we’re all part of some computer matrix or something, science is the best way to ascertain the truth in the only reality that we know (or could come to know).

    A good way to illustrate this is to tell your friend that according to scientific truths obtained through repeated observation and experimentation, if you were to kick him in the balls (let’s assume he’s a male for the sake of the example), science tells us that it’s really gonna hurt. Of course, you can tell your friend that if he thinks that scientific truth is just based on mere premises and there is some other reality out there, he is welcome to take the hit.



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  • 21
    Terry Shinshock says:

    Let us suppose you climbed to the top of the dome on the The Marble Church in Copenhagen and jumped. Due to gravity, you would, if you survive at all, certainly cause critical damage to your body. You would not expect a flock of angels to fly down from the heavens to land you gently on the ground. Science and religion are antithetical. Good science seeks knowledge to better understand the world even when the results are inconvenient or unexpected. Religion is embracing ignorance, a belief in nonsense, and the rejecting of scientific knowledge which contradict church dogma. Now let me ask you, which do you think is more true gravity or the flock of angels? I sincerely hope you choose the former rather than the latter.



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  • Great comments!! They all say the same thing essentially, though expressed in different terms….that science is the best way to determine truth/ reality. As said before, the word “truth” carries a bit of extra baggage, but I assume we’re all in agreement about its use in the article.



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  • 23
    AlGarnier says:

    Truth is constantly evolving from moment to moment throughout the universe. Nothing in the universe is exactly the same as it was before now. Science is the concentrated effort by humanity to understand why the universe evolves as it does.



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  • 24
    joe.piersons says:

    When you run an experiment you are always given the truth, reality never lies. But you have the limitations of the experiment you have to deal with including the interpretation of the results, biases, test equipment accuracies etc that you must take into account. But if you know what they are, you can resolve the truth from that.

    For instance, I can run an experiment to determine whether the earth is flat or not. Many centuries ago that experiment might of proven that the earth was flat. So is that true today? Yes, to a first approximation it is in a localized area, and if you knew the limitations of the experiment you would know that is what the experiment was telling you. And that truth will always be true. It will not be updated or changed in the future. It will always be true.



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  • 25
    Sedanar says:

    As many people have put it, science deals with reality. It tests hypotheses, and draws conclusions from what is observed. The whole point is that it’s gonna be wrong a lot, but will not retain anything that’s been proven utterly wrong.
    Reality, whether you believe it or not, doesn’t go away. If you jump down from a window of a skyscrapper, no matter how much you don’t believe in gravity, how much you believe you’re gonna land safely and how much you think prayer to god is gonna make him save you, you’re still going to crash and die very messily. Science can tell you this, just as it can tell many things that have been observed, and those things can be used. Science works, simply put. We have technology, we have computers, we can fly planes, etc. Science isn’t “the absolute truth”, it doesn’t know everything, and it will admit it. But what it knows, we can observe it ourselves and use it, do the experiments, it will work.

    On the other hand, religion claims, through holy books supposed to be the word/will of god, that the truth has been revealed to them by some supernatural being. Their dogma isn’t one of seeking the truth, it’s one of thinking they already have it all, on the basis that some god told it to one of them some thousands of years ago. Their claims of a supernatural god can’t be verified, since he’s supposed to be outside of space and time (we have no evidence that any of this is possible, but they assert this as truth). It’s just wishful thinking : they want this to be true so it’s true, and will keep thinking it is even in the face of compelling evidence. The world wasn’t created in 6 days, whether they believe it or not. The earth isn’t 6000 years old, whether they believe it or not. Some dude didn’t rise from the dead, whether they believe it or not. Their religions claim ridiculous things that have been proven untrue or completely inconsistent with science or history.

    Anyway, the belief that there is more than “the material world” is based on pretty much nothing. We have absolutely NO evidence that anything supernatural exists, and every claim of supernatural work has either been debunked, or not yet explained. They stay unconvincing to any thinking person, though. Miracles, witches, ghosts, all of these things have never truly observed. When there’s a pilgrim who goes to Lourdes here in France and gets an arm or a leg that grows back, I’ll start considering it. But we all know that’s not gonna happen.

    The only premise that would destroy all this is that we, in fact, are not real. But then, that would go for them as well, so they wouldn’t be more right even in this case. Apart from this, we can conclude we are more right than believers. We know their beliefs are wrong and can demonstrate it. And we know that we don’t know everything, but some people are working really hard on knowing more.



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  • 26
    catmentality says:

    Truth? There is no such thing. Try reality – scientists try to get closer to explain reality and manage in a fashion despite an overwhelming amount of variables. A very exiting endeavour as there will never be an end to it.
    Truth? I tell the truth, as far I know it, which is not very far.



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  • 28
    achromat666 says:

    Science equals knowledge, the actual and practical understandings of how things work. It actually addresses the very issues of how things works that reach beyond our senses. I think this more depends on your perception of the word truth, because I guarantee the meaning will change when you go from religious truth to scientific truth.

    Religious truth, for example, most often deals with a series of dogmatic ideas and scripture from some older time that somehow possesses all the facts of existence in them. Except there is no way that can be true. Saying Jesus is Lord is no more true than saying Allah is lord, and both only further show the lack of truth that most faiths generally engage in. These are dogmatic statements that takes being indoctrinated into that kind of thinking to accept.

    Scientific truth is little more than an honest observation of reality. It is a process of understanding what is, and how it likely got that way. Rather than simply demand you accept anything on faith or suffer consequences it simply examines an idea and rigorously tests it against our current knowledge. It is reviewed by other scientists to be verified. Then the findings are shared and we move forward with that understanding. If there is a flaw in the reasoning or the research it is pointed out, re-examined and the findings are adjusted.

    The ongoing process of learning the unknown can’t begin with making impossible assumptions based on cultural dogmas. It has to be done with the knowledge that we don’t know everything and pretending to know something helps absolutely no one. In order for science to work, it can’t pretend.

    It would be better for me to say that science equals grounded, provable knowledge that can most certainly allow us to arrive at truths.



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  • Truth per se is pretty difficult to corner. Personally, I believe in God and also believe in science. Is one truth and the other figment? I would suggest truth is all-inclusive, and that would make it tough to get your head around it.



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  • In reply to #29 by joehev:

    Truth per se is pretty difficult to corner. Personally, I believe in God and also believe in science. Is one truth and the other figment? I would suggest truth is all-inclusive, and that would make it tough to get your head around it.

    It’s not that difficult. The science of the Old Testament is rubbish. The universe and human life did not come into existence through the activities of an invisible tribal god. This factual rubbish is often touted as symbolic truth. Saying that something is symbolic does not protect it from scrutiny. Like other myths, the Genesis stories are entertaining but not of any outstanding merit.



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  • 31
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #29 by joehev:

    Truth per se is pretty difficult to corner.

    Agreed, but not for the reason you pose.

    Personally, I believe in God and also believe in science. Is one truth and the other figment? I would suggest truth is all-inclusive, and that would make it tough to get your head around it.

    This defies the very nature of what it would be for something to be true. I mentioned in my first post here that the differences between religious truth and empirical truth are many, but the most important is that when describing the nature of reality there is no empirical truth that includes a deity.

    If we’re talking about the Abrahamic God (Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, etc) then we’re only describing the perpetuation of a belief in an idea that was created by men in the middle east in the Bronze Age. One of literally millions of different deities that have and continue to be worshiped by people that made up their own deities that have a role in their cultures.

    That is not truth, in either a philosophical or empirical sense. There is no more truth to any one god than there is for any other that have come into existence thanks to the imaginations of men. The only thing that can be said to be empirically true is that people have faith in that deity (among many others). That is hardly worthy of empirical note and not comparable to the same consideration of scientific query.

    Science puts observation before conclusion, not the other way around. Research and evidence before making any sweeping judgments. All inclusive would put both religion and science under the same scrutiny, and religion always loses that fight. Science leads to discovery about reality, religion pretends to know what it can’t. There is truth in only one of those endeavors.



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  • I think therefore I am, achro. Since a large segment of the world’s population believes in some form of God, those beliefs make up the body of universal truth. Whether or not science can be applied to those truths is largely irrelevant. Science has done a good job of pealing back the onion of truth one layer at a time, but even science has had to re-phrase its theories on occasion, so why not religion? The concept of an Abrahamic God was as true for people of the day as evolution may be to scientists today. What people believe today is as true for them as what their ancestors believed before. Historical truth is also part of universal truth. Perhaps, one day religious evolution and scientific understanding may meet on a distant shore but, to my mind, it is all truth. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    In reply to #31 by achromat666:

    In reply to #29 by joehev:

    Truth per se is pretty difficult to corner.

    Agreed, but not for the reason you pose.

    Personally, I believe in God and also believe in science. Is one truth and the other figment? I would suggest truth is all-inclusive, and that would make it tough to get your head aroun…



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  • 33
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #29 by joehev:

    Truth per se is pretty difficult to corner.

    Not really! If it works in the physical world it is an underlying truth which science acan identify.

    Personally, I believe in God and also believe in science. Is one truth and the other figment?

    The huge diversity of gods is indeed in figments of the brains of their followers. That is why they contradict each other and with stablished well tested science. The science works towards increasing accuracy and truth, correcting errors as it goes.

    I would suggest truth is all-inclusive,

    What does that even mean if it is not just a special pleading? The truths of the universe are “all inclusive”. God myths are not consistent with these multipy confirmed and repeat tested scientific laws and theiories.

    and that would make it tough to get your head around it.

    The difficulty for theists is trying to coherently resolve the contradictions. Hence rhetorical “interpretations”, cognitive dissonance, and comparmentalised thinking.



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  • The High Priest predicted that the crops would fail. He explained that the gods were angry and the priests should be provided with more animals for sacrifice. The experiment was tried. The people brought more sacrifical animals. Nevertheless,the crops failed The people starved. But the priests grew fat and prospered. That’s primitive science for you. It worked — for some.



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  • In reply to #33 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #29 by joehev:

    Truth per se is pretty difficult to corner.
    The difficulty for theists is the same difficulty as for atheists, getting the opposite side to accept the other. Personally, I came to the conclusion that God exists from an accumulation of personal experiences over time. Perhaps I cannot prove to you that God exists and neither can you convince me no God exists. Yet our beliefs make up the universal truth, flawed or incomplete though they may be. That’s why I say it’s difficult to get your head around it.

    Not really! If it works in the physical world it is an underlying truth which science acan identify.

    Personally, I believe in God and also believe in science. Is one truth and the other figment?

    The huge diversity of gods is…



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  • 36
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #32 by joehev:

    I think therefore I am, achro. Since a large segment of the world’s population believes in some form of God, those beliefs make up the body of universal truth.

    No, they comprise an opinion held by that section of the world’s populace. It does not automatically give the existence of a given deity instant inclusion in fact. It represents that a large part of our population has been indoctrinated in a way of thinking based on cultural norms in their part of the world. nothing more.

    Whether or not science can be applied to those truths is largely irrelevant. Science has done a good job of pealing back the onion of truth one layer at a time, but even science has had to re-phrase its theories on occasion, so why not religion?

    Amazing that you don’t see the contradiction of the statement you just made. And you’re only making my case in regards to the fundamental differences between religious truth (ie, strong theistic opinion) and empirical truth (ie, understanding of reality as demonstrated through scientific rigor). How precisely does science suddenly become irrelevant regarding religious truth? Because it hurts religions case every time science completely disproves claims that religions have been making for centuries?

    And read what I’ve already said regarding science: It doesn’t make absolute pre-judgments before drawing a conclusion about what something is or how it works. The process is done, done again, done again, and reviewed by other to help in verifying results. When something is demonstrated to be false it isn’t rephrased it’s done away with.

    Religion doesn’t do this. The closest it has to that is the creating of more denominations to welcome a different belief or inclusion of other ideas to keep from being completely out of place with modern thinking. A task it still fails at.

    The concept of an Abrahamic God was as true for people of the day as evolution may be to scientists today. What people believe today is as true for them as what their ancestors believed before. Historical truth is also part of universal truth. Perhaps, one day religious evolution and scientific understanding may meet on a distant shore but, to my mind, it is all truth. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    Not even close. You’re making arbitrary statements to back up something that has no basis in fact. Science did not exists then as it does today, though there were thinkers that were making advances even then. You’re equating popular opinion with research and testing and that doesn’t wash no matter how you phrase it. Evolution isn’t something that requires faith, it is empirically accurate to how things have developed. Nothing in religion even comes close.

    You are of course welcome to your opinion, but the very ideas you keep trying to fuse together don’t work. One is based entirely on unsubstantiated belief, and the other works whether you believe it or not. Religion is not truth, it is a strong belief that people want to be true. Science examines what is, not what we wish could be.



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  • “The truths of the universe are all-inclusive” simply means that everything that occurs, is seen to occur, is thought to occur, is all part of truth. That is so whether or not it applies to the so-called “real world”. I accept scientific evidence as much as anyone. I also accept the concept of a loving God, knowing full well that human beings from the beginning of time have layered human concepts on who or what God may be.

    In reply to #33 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #29 by joehev:

    Truth per se is pretty difficult to corner.

    Not really! If it works in the physical world it is an underlying truth which science acan identify.

    Personally, I believe in God and also believe in science. Is one truth and the other figment?

    The huge diversity of gods is…



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  • 38
    achromat666 says:

    I accept scientific evidence as much as anyone. I also accept the concept of a loving God, knowing full well that human beings from the beginning of time have layered human concepts over their ideas of who or what God may be.

    Except that accepting them doesn’t make it true. Science observes what is and has increased our understanding of the universe thousandfold. Your accepting it wouldn’t make it any more or less true as science can be proven. What is true is true regardless of what is believed.

    A loving God cannot be proven, it is an unprovable belief you happen to have. And yes many different people over time have tried to explain what was at one point unexplainable through cultural myths and such, but that didn’t make a single one of them true. It would be more accurate to say you believe in god but accept science as well.

    Saying they’re both true is little more than wish fulfillment that can never be realized.



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  • I understand what you’re saying, achro. I didn’t say it makes it true…for everyone. For me, it is a truth that science can’t handle.

    In reply to #38 by achromat666:

    I accept scientific evidence as much as anyone. I also accept the concept of a loving God, knowing full well that human beings from the beginning of time have layered human concepts over their ideas of who or what God may be.

    Except that accepting them doesn’t make it true. Science observes what is…



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  • 40
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #39 by joehev:

    I understand what you’re saying, achro. I didn’t say it makes it true…for everyone. For me, it is a truth that science can’t handle.

    In reply to #38 by achromat666:

    I accept scientific evidence as much as anyone. I also accept the concept of a loving God, knowing full well that human beings from…

    In a word, no. What is true is true regardless of belief. If it is true it does not require any such ‘true for everyone’ rationalizing, it can be demonstrated as being true and as such is regarded as being true. That’s how that works.

    Listen to what you’ve said, you’ve stated that this is your opinion but want to relay it to us as truth. Worse, a hidden truth that science for some reason can’t reach. This isn’t truth, it’s faith. You have faith that somehow these disparate ideas will at some point be reconciled, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    Having faith isn’t truth or a form of truth. It’s believing something when you have every reason not to. It’s taking something as religious gospel despite all evidence to the opposite. That is a belief, and you’re welcome to have that if you choose. But please stop trying to present it as any kind of truth.



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  • 41
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #37 by joehev:

    “The truths of the universe are all-inclusive” simply means that everything that occurs, is seen to occur, is thought to occur, is all part of truth. That is so whether or not it applies to the so-called “real world”.

    Everything that occurs is in the “real world/universe”, is the unlying truth, so your strange claim “whether or not it applies to the so-called “real world” make no sense! If it does not occur in the real world it is a fantasy which does not exist!

    I accept scientific evidence as much as anyone.

    Your above comment suggests otherwise.

    I also accept the concept of a loving God, knowing full well that human beings from the beginning of time have layered human concepts on who or what God may be.

    As I pointed out earlier, the god concepts are as diverse and contradictory as the individuals, cults and religions. I am not sure which “loving god” you refer to. The god of the bible OT is a vindictive monster. The NT is a collection of contradictory myths with no contemporary eyewitness accounts of anything. Then there are the thousands of other versions, interpretations and religions.

    They have one thing in common – there is no evidence for any of them in the material world, other than in the imaginings within believers brains.



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  • 42
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #39 by joehev:

    I understand what you’re saying, achro. I didn’t say it makes it true…for everyone.

    Scientific truths are not relative, nor do they vary according to personal opinions. Gravity will affect you whether you believe in it or not.

    For me, it is a truth that science can’t handle.

    You seem to be using some strange definition of truth, which is unrelated to material facts, and more into circular self refencing imagined notions.

    Science certainly can handle, and is progressively reseaching, spiritual perceptions of truths which are disconnected from physical reality.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm
    “We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions. “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences.”



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  • I regard everything that has ever happened and everything that has ever been conceived as a portion of universal Truth. Empirical evidence is patt of that truth. The original question posted here was, is science Truth? I’m suggesting it is in part. But so is theism. Gravity may certainly affect you whether you believe it or not, but I can say the same about spiritual belief. If God exists, then he does so whether or not you believe it, and in fact whether or not you are brain dead.

    In reply to #42 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #39 by joehev:

    I understand what you’re saying, achro. I didn’t say it makes it true…for everyone.

    Scientific truths are not relative, nor do they vary according to personal opinions. Gravity will affect you whether you believe in it or not.

    For me, it is a truth that science can’t…



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  • 44
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #43 by joehev:

    I regard everything that has ever happened and everything that has ever been conceived as a portion of universal Truth. Empirical evidence is patt of that truth. The original question posted here was, is science Truth? I’m suggesting it is in part. But so is theism. Gravity may certainly affect you whether you believe it or not, but I can say the same about spiritual belief. If God exists, then he does so whether or not you believe it, and in fact whether or not you are brain dead.

    The two portions I have highlighted from your post are self-contradictory. I conceive of a Universe without any gods. You conceive of a loving God. According to you, both of these ideas have “been conceived” and are threfore “a portion of universal Truth.” But in the second passage you make an impirical claim about “God”, that it exists (or not) regardless of our beliefs. (Here I would agree with you.)

    Apparently your definition of “universal Truth” does not include actual truth as a pre-requisite, since impirically true and impirically false ideas are all valid within it. As far as I can see, this makes the word “truth” pretty much meaningless. What value do words have if you can just make up your own definitions which are actually antithetical to their generally understood meaning? If what you mean to say is “everything that has ever happened or ever been concieved” then say that! Pretty much by definition, “everything that has ever been concieved” includes a vast amount of things which are mistaken, fantastical, imaginary, and just plain outright lies. Saying the word “Truth” you mean “all ideas including all the lies” is silly or misguided at best, woefully dishonest at worst.



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  • Unfortunately, Ban, Truth is much like many other words in that it has a variety of ‘generally understood meanings’. The meaning I make use of in such discussions as this is the following:
    5b. Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

    It is not a made-up definition.

    Yes, all fantasies, lies, proven falsehoods are part of universal truth. To deny that they are is to deny they ever existed. Whether or not they pass the smell test of physical reality is not the point. Science can only go so far in its mission of defining truth. It cannot prove the existence or non-existence of spirituality except to suggest that if it exists it hasn’t (yet) been scientifically observed or defined. Some may say then it doesn’t exist. But that is simply a matter of opinion.



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  • 46
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #43 by joehev:

    I regard everything that has ever happened and everything that has ever been conceived as a portion of universal Truth.

    You can regard whatever you like, but as i pointed out earlier underlying reality exists irrespective of anyone’s personal opinion. You would need evidence to support your opinion. Anyone can make unsupported assertions.

    Empirical evidence is patt of that truth. The original question posted here was, is science Truth? I’m suggesting it is in part.

    Others have made it clear that science has identified parts of the underlying truths of reality, with evidence, but still has areas to explore further.

    But so is theism.

    Theism exists, but has singularly failed to produce evidence for its claims. You would need to be less vague and more specific about particular claims to be able to have an evidenced rational discussion about them. Gods tend to be readily refutable if they have material properties, have definitions in vague undefined meaningless superlatives to side-track the discussion into semantics, or as a theological magic trick are defined as having the “undetectable properties” of non-existent material.

    Gravity may certainly affect you whether you believe it or not, but I can say the same about spiritual belief.

    You can say what you like, and other theists can make contradictory claims, but assertion is not evidence. Science backs its claims for consistency with repeat testing. Theists just uncritically believe whatever they like, or whatever they have been indoctrinated in as children.

    If God exists, then he does so whether or not you believe it, and in fact whether or not you are brain dead.

    If leprechauns, invisible-dragons, celestial tea-pots, tooth-fairies, little green Martians, Asherah, Aphrodite, or Zeus exist, then – they/he/she/it, do so whether or not you believe it, This offers nothing in support of such claims.

    • Without evidence they are just whimsy! The funny thing is – that theists seem to be able to reject some unevidenced beliefs, but cling to their local cultural ones in spite of scientific evidence. It is known as cognitive dissonance or comparmentalised double-thinking.



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  • 47
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #45 by joehev:

    Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

    You appear to be under the impression that truth is a matter of opinion. Of course you have every right to define truth as you like, but by doing so in such a manner as yours you have defined a truth that does not make sense to anyone but yourself.

    I have a challenge for you, if you please: Define truth as objectively as you can without using words such as supreme, meaning and value.



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  • 48
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #45 by joehev:

    Unfortunately, Ban, Truth is much like many other words in that it has a variety of ‘generally understood meanings’. The meaning I make use of in such discussions as this is the following: 5b. Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

    I think you have just illutrated my point about definitions of “god-pseudo-truths”!

    Alan @46 – Theism exists, but has singularly failed to produce evidence for its claims. You would need to be less vague and more specific about particular claims to be able to have an evidenced rational discussion about them. Gods tend to be readily refutable if they have material properties, have definitions in vague undefined meaningless superlatives to side-track the discussion into semantics , or as a theological magic trick are defined as having the “undetectable properties” of non-existent material

    It is not a made-up definition.

    It sounds like it was made up for you by some theologian playing meanigless semantic “deepities”!

    Yes, all fantasies, lies, proven falsehoods are part of universal truth.

    I think you should read that over again! – in the context of my comment @46 –

    @46 – It is known as cognitive dissonance or comparmentalised double-thinking.

    To deny that they are is to deny they ever existed. Whether or not they pass the smell test of physical reality is not the point.

    All sorts of irrational nonsense exists – It just has nothing to do with “truth”, unless you are pretending that anything you wish can be “true”! Two “truths” cannot contradict each other, unless your definition of “truth” is meaningless!

    Science can only go so far in its mission of defining truth.

    I have already explained that science produces solid evidence up to the boundaries of human knowledge. That does not mean that the unknown can be credibly asserted to contain just anything wish-thinking can imagine!

    It cannot prove the existence or non-existence of spirituality except to suggest that if it exists it hasn’t (yet) been scientifically observed or defined.

    You really should pick up on the points (such as this one @42) raised in the discussion.

    Alan @42 – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm “We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, . . .. .. .

    Some may say then it doesn’t exist. But that is simply a matter of opinion.

    You just made that up in the face of the evidence I gave you @42 of science investigating spirituality!

    You really need to respond to, and address, points as we go along, if you are to present a coherent case.



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  • 49
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #45 by joehev:

    Unfortunately, Ban, Truth is much like many other words in that it has a variety of ‘generally understood meanings’. The meaning I make use of in such discussions as this is the following: 5b. Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

    Here is the definition that is pertinent and bucking your definition

    Conformity to fact or reality; correctness, accuracy.

    This is the definition that correlates with empirical truths. You cannot claim one definition of truth that doesn’t apply to science and say it somehow works with everything.

    It is not a made-up definition.

    But it is a very vague and subjective one, and doesn’t get you off the hook in regards with trying to mix science and religion

    Yes, all fantasies, lies, proven falsehoods are part of universal truth. To deny that they are is to deny they ever existed. Whether or not they pass the smell test of physical reality is not the point. Science can only go so far in its mission of defining truth. It cannot prove the existence or non-existence of spirituality except to suggest that if it exists it hasn’t (yet) been scientifically observed or defined. Some may say then it doesn’t exist. But that is simply a matter of opinion.

    And one cannot just push back the goalposts and claim something to be true with no evidence to back it up. You don’t have any evidence so you retreat to the ephemeral and claim to know things that you can’t possibly know. Where precisely is the truth in that?



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  • 50
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #45 by joehev:

    Unfortunately, Ban,

    …JoIvie. It’s BanJoIvie. Thanks.

    Truth is much like many other words in that it has a variety of ‘generally understood meanings’.

    Agreed. But that doesn’t mean that you can employ just any meaning at all. In the case of a word like “truth” (or “knowledge”) there are some popular usages which dishonestly attempt to appropriate the actual definition(s) to encompass different or even opposite meanings. “Truth” has been so abused at the hands of theists and new agers that it is almost useless. Hence the suggestion by many here to abandon it in favor of “reality.” I am attempting a (perhaps Quixotic) quest to rescue the word by suggesting that something should at minimum have to be actually true to fall within it’s pervue.

    The meaning I make use of in such discussions as this is the following: 5b. Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

    Note that lies, errors and fantasies would fall safely outside this definition. Note also that this definition and the one you supplied earlier (something composed of “everything that has ever happened and everything that has ever been conceived”) differs markedly from the one you offer here.

    It is not a made-up definition.

    Well this one may not be, though I might quibble with it for other reasons. Your earlier definition certainly was made-up.

    Yes, all fantasies, lies, proven falsehoods are part of universal truth. To deny that they are is to deny they ever existed.

    Sorry, but this is where I have little else to say besides…bullshit.

    Of course lies exist. That doesn’t make them “true” in any sense. No, not even as some part of an airy “universal truth”. Lies are the opposite of truth. No meaningful definition of the word truth can or should contain concepts which are in fact false. False and True are opposite. Misusing a word to include it’s own exact opposite is…well, “incorrect” is the kindest interpretation.

    Whether or not they pass the smell test of physical reality […]

    Here you add the useless qualifier “physical” to “reality.” There is only one reality. It includes everything to which we do (or ever can, even in principle) have access, plus – possibly – some things we will never be able to investigate because they are truly separate from the universe we can observe.

    If any hypothetical things you care to label “spiritual” do in fact exist, then they are part of the one “reality.” Either they are such that we can someday observe and investigate them (in which case we simply know nothing about them right now, ande believing in them is irrational) or they are outside the realm of human perception (in which case we can never, ever, ever, ever, ever have knowledge of them. Or hold a rational, defensible belief in them…ever. That includes now.)

    To claim knowledge of anything outside of “physical reality” or even choose to “believe in” anything outside of what we can actually perceive and investigate is irrational. You are all but guaranteed to be incorrect in any belief so based. To be correct would mean that you managed to dream up an imaginary thing – out of all the possible imaginary things – which by sheer dumb luck, happens to exist. The odds are astronomical. In such a case I would not even call you “right.”

    […] is not the point.

    I say it is.

    Science can only go so far in its mission of defining truth.

    Correct. But just because science is limited does not imply that any other method can take us beyond those limits. However far science can go, that is how far the search for truth can go. Unless of course humans can come up with a new – and as yet unimagined – method of searching. Every method other than science which has so far been proposed or tried is a proven failure. Only science has a track record of actually uncovering really true truth. Period.

    It cannot prove the existence or non-existence of spirituality […]

    Possibly true (depending on the definition of “spirituality”.) But even if science can’t prove whether something exists or not, that doesn’t make the two propositions equal. Unfalsifiable concepts are vanishingly unlikely to actually prove true, and believing them to be true is practically guaranteed to be error. And meaningless to boot. Anything truly, permanently outside of the scope of science can – by definition – have absolutely no effect on humans, the world, or the universe we inhabit.

    […] except to suggest that if it exists it hasn’t (yet) been scientifically observed or defined.

    If something hasn’t been “scientifically” defined, then it hasn’t been defined at all. Defining is a practice which falls fully under the umbrella of science. There is no special sub-set of definitions which are not “scientific”. If “spirituality” is undefined, then I CAN state definitively that “it” does not exist, because “it” isn’t even a meaningful concept capable of existence. Once we have a valid definition we can discuss whether “it” is logically possible, then whether “it” is cabable of disproof or observation.

    There are a great many things that have not “yet” been scientifically observed, but “spirituality” under most definitions involves things that inhabit some “other” plane of existence. They are thus put permanently outside the reach of science – definitionally. This would make the “(yet)” in your sentence disingenuous for most uses of the word “spiritual”.

    Some may say then it doesn’t exist.

    Some might, but if they were talking about a truly unfalsifiable concept, they would be overreaching. However, I suspect that you would find very few people who would actually make this claim about something truly unfalsifiable. More often, they would claim that a)”it” is actually falsifiable in some way (like some logically impossible or historically disproved claims about gods); or b)”it” is unfalsifiable and therefore almost certain not to exist. Sometimes “X does not exist” is linguistic shorthand for “belief in X cannot be rationally justified given current observations of the universe.”

    But that is simply a matter of opinion.

    No, not really. If we are talking about the existence or non-existence of a thing, we are talking about objective truth. As you said earlier, objective truth does not depend on any person’s belief. Ergo it is NOT “a matter of opinion.”

    If we truly do not (or cannot) know whether or not something exists, that might be called “a matter of opinion,” but only in a trivial sense. Not all opinions are equal. In such a case, any opinion other than “I don’t know, but probably not” is a bad opinion.

    Calling something “a matter of opinion” is usually a rhetorical trick designed to imply that all points of view deserve equal weight. They don’t. Since many opinions contradict eachother, some opinions are – by definition – objectively wrong. And even in cases where we truly cannot distingush the objective truth of one opinion over another, some opinions are inferior due to their lack of rational justification.



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  • Sorry, I didn’t think the shortening of your login name would be a problem. My mistake. I’m goint to summarize my thoughts on this one last time apnd leave it to you. Truth is all of reality. That includes science and religion, actual events and fiction, good acts and evil ones, yin and yang. Ultimate or supreme reality includes everything that is, ever has been or will be. That doesn’t mean that all such events contribute anything positive to building our understanding of life, etc. It just means that because they exist or have existed as an activity, they are part of the Universal Truth.

    OK, you may not agree. No problem. I’m not going to dissect every phrase to the extent you just did because in my experience that results in a path of no ending. Suffice to say, it makes logical sense to me that Truth, like God, is all-inclusive, including those words or actions or thoughts that don’t appear to have redeeming value.

    If you have questions I’d be glad to respond, but further argument seems to me a fruitless exercise.

    Bonne journee, BanJolvie.

    In reply to #50 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #45 by joehev:

    Unfortunately, Ban,

    …JoIvie. It’s BanJoIvie. Thanks.

    Truth is much like many other words in that it has a variety of ‘generally understood meanings’.

    Agreed. But that doesn’t mean that you can employ just any meaning at all. In the case of a word like “truth” (or “kn…



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  • 52
    achromat666 says:

    Truth is all of reality. That includes science and religion, actual events and fiction, good acts and evil ones, yin and yang.

    Science and religion do exists, that is true and actual events and fiction certainly. But good and evil acts are subjective though there are certainly things that happen that are productive and destructive.

    However the fact that all of those things exists does not make all of them true. Fiction is by definition not true, and religion routinely works in wish fulfillment.

    Ultimate or supreme reality includes everything that is, ever has been or will be. That doesn’t mean that all such events contribute anything positive to building our understanding of life, etc. It just means that because they exist or have existed as an activity, they are part of the Universal Truth.

    If there were 2 phrases you should endeavor to remove from your debating lexicon it would most certainly be Ultimate/supreme reality and Universal truth. You abuse them and add nothing to your case when you use them. There is no alternate reality, no other reality than the one we exist in. Using a term like supreme reality is a way of sounding more profound than your arguments are. Anything that affects reality is part of it. If any deity exists, he is part of reality and therefore subject to reality. Any other answer is guesswork and conjecture.

    And you have not only not responded to numerous questions and statements regarding your position you have also never adequately defined the terms you continue to use such as universal truth and supreme reality. You wish to cling to esoteric ideas and still claim to be expressing truths when all you’ve done is sidestepped questions and given vague ideas as your evidence.

    OK, you may not agree. No problem. I’m not going to dissect every phrase to the extent you just did because in my experience that results in a path of no ending. Suffice to say, it makes logical sense to me that Truth, like God, is all-inclusive, including those words or actions or thoughts that don’t appear to have redeeming value.

    Actually the ideas you espouse defy logic but as I said earlier you’re welcome to think them. It doesn’t make your case and certainly does not put your theistic ideas on the same playing field as empirical facts.

    If you have questions I’d be glad to respond, but further argument seems to me a fruitless exercise.

    Because you haven’t made a rational and reasoned case for your position. You’ve been content to use vague ideas and illogical phrasings as defense for something you can’t prove.

    I said it early on: You have ideas that you accept as an article of faith. They are not truths, they are beliefs, and beliefs you cannot begin to substantiate in any meaningful way.



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  • 53
    Pauly01 says:

    Truth is all of reality. That includes science and religion, actual events and fiction, good acts and evil ones, yin and yang.

    So ‘truth’ is existence, including conciousness experience and reality. I can accept this as being plausible. Is this what you are saying? and if it is…

    What has this got to do with god? and what elevates this ‘Truth’ to be ‘Supreme Truth’ or ‘Universal Truth’? and why do you make such distinctions.



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  • In Christian theology, God is love. In my philosophy God is Truth. Supreme or Universal Truth are one and the same. This is distinct from what I call small-t truth, which is basically a truth that has limitations attached, or specifications, if you will. I view science as an accumulation of small-t truths. Thanks for asking.

    In reply to #53 by Pauly01:s

    Truth is all of reality. That includes science and religion, actual events and fiction, good acts and evil ones, yin and yang.

    So ‘truth’ is existence, including conciousness experience and reality. I can accept this as being plausible. Is this what you are saying? and if it is…

    What has this go…



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  • Pardon me for saying this, but so far you have not asked me any questions, so I have none to answer. I use Supreme, Universal, or Ultimate reality as terms to distinguish the limited reality that I view when folks refer to scientific evidence as sole truth or reality.

    In reply to #52 by achromat666:

    Truth is all of reality. That includes science and religion, actual events and fiction, good acts and evil ones, yin and yang.

    Science and religion do exists, that is true and actual events and fiction certainly. But good and evil acts are subjective though there are certainly things that happen th…



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  • 57
    achromat666 says:

    In Christian theology, God is love. In my philosophy God is Truth. Supreme or Universal Truth are one and the same. This is distinct from what I call small-t truth, which is basically a truth that has limitations attached, or specifications, if you will. I view science as an accumulation of small-t truths. Thanks for asking.

    There goes those words again.

    And philosophy doesn’t give you a free pass to avoid the questions that have been posed. And science are small truths? Really? Have you done any actual reading on redshifts, black holes, quantum physics or any of the myriad things that display how truly huge the universe is? Do you say small truths because your vague definitions are somehow more potent and vital?

    I’m beginning to think you’re just baiting people at this point.



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  • 58
    achromat666 says:

    Pardon me for saying this, but so far you have not asked me any questions, so I have none to answer. I use Supreme, Universal, or Ultimate reality as terms to distinguish the limited reality that I view when folks refer to scientific evidence as sole truth or reality.

    Pardon me, but I’m not the only person that has responded to you and I have asked questions. Examples:

    And one cannot just push back the goalposts and claim something to be true with no evidence to back it up. You don’t have any evidence so you retreat to the ephemeral and claim to know things that you can’t possibly know. Where precisely is the truth in that?

    How precisely does science suddenly become irrelevant regarding religious truth? Because it hurts religions case every time science completely disproves claims that religions have been making for centuries?

    For the record, not all the concerns from me or anyone else were presented in the form of a question. And this is to say nothing of my post just prior to this chock filled with questions.

    And you can add as many esoteric words to the word reality as you like, you have not a whit of evidence for your position. Read the mission statement of the site. Here it is:

    Our mission is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and human suffering.

    Your entire position completely avoids any evidence based positions by playing philosophical escapism rather than addressing any of the concerns that have been mentioned about your posts.

    So perhaps some evidence for this deeper unlimited reality you seem so keen on?



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  • You say…”And one cannot just push back the goalposts and claim something to be true with no evidence to back it up. You don’t have any evidence so you retreat to the ephemeral and claim to know things that you can’t possibly know. Where precisely is the truth in that?

    How precisely does science suddenly become irrelevant regarding religious truth? Because it hurts religions case every time science completely disproves claims that religions have been making for centuries?”

    Science is irrelevant because it can’t address spirituality successfully. As to things I can’t possibly know, what things?

    In reply to #58 by achromat666:

    Pardon me for saying this, but so far you have not asked me any questions, so I have none to answer. I use Supreme, Universal, or Ultimate reality as terms to distinguish the limited reality that I view when folks refer to scientific evidence as sole truth or reality.

    Pardon me, but I’m not the onl…



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  • 60
    achromat666 says:

    Science is irrelevant because it can’t address spirituality successfully.

    And you clearly paid Alan’s response to that no mind in reference to science’s research into spirituality. And please explain how spirituality approaches anything resembling truth, or a system of finding such? If anything your statement should be the other way around.

    As to things I can’t possibly know, what things?

    Oh, where do I start?

    Anytime you make a claim of a Supreme, Absolute, or any kind of reality aside from the one you live in you make claims you can’t substantiate. Anytime you claim that your philosophical truth god has any credibility outside your own imagination (to say nothing of being compatible with empirical facts) you are pretending to know something you have no way of knowing.

    You have in fact not made a single statement regarding your position you can prove. You simply throw out the esoterica, use terms like supreme and absolute and pretend they mean something in context to a discussion about science and truth.



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  • I actually didn’t say small truths but small-t truths to differentiate from all inclusive Truth. Yes, it is a philosophical view. As for evidence you seek for Universal truth, it seems to me that it is self-evident. I’m sure you understand the concept of all-inclusive reality, don’t you? As for black holes and other such scientific investigations, I am all for them, but I have not studied them. I leave that to people who are much more science-based and more knowledgeable than me. Now, did I forget to mention something? I admit these discussion have become more convoluted than is easy for me to track.

    In reply to #57 by achromat666:

    In Christian theology, God is love. In my philosophy God is Truth. Supreme or Universal Truth are one and the same. This is distinct from what I call small-t truth, which is basically a truth that has limitations attached, or specifications, if you will. I view science as an accumulation of small-t…



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  • 62
    achromat666 says:

    I actually didn’t say small truths but small-t truths to differentiate from all inclusive Truth. Yes, it is a philosophical view.

    Except you’re not giving any credibility to this idea of separate truths. You’re merely stating them as if they had any substance to speak of. As I’ve already said what is true doesn’t change simply because someone sees it differently. Supreme or absolute reality as a term is functionally meaningless if you cannot establish any other reality exists. So is also the case with your different truths.

    As for evidence you seek for Universal truth, it seems to me that it is self-evident. I’m sure you understand the concept of all-inclusive reality, don’t you?

    Rather than assume anything why don’t you make your position clear. All inclusive in the universe is simply all the things that exists in it, and that leaves no room for hyper realities and super truths.

    As for black holes and other such scientific investigations, I am all for them, but I have not studied them. I leave that to people who are much more science-based and more knowledgeable than me. Now, did I forget to mention something? I admit these discussion have become more convoluted than is easy for me to track.

    So let me get this straight, you posit your philosophical opinion as having equal grounding as empirical evidence, run on about supreme realities and all inclusive truths but don’t bother to learn about the very things science is discovering about the actual and only universe we live in? How can you possibly rush to all these judgments without having the facts and not expect this kind of response on this site?

    I don’t know everything, but I don’t make things up to fill in the gaps.

    And if you go back and read I’m sure you’ll find you’ve missed a number of queries about your ideas.



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  • Having trouble figuring out ways to use the reply functions.

    “And you clearly paid Alan’s response to that no mind in reference to science’s research into spirituality. And please explain how spirituality approaches anything resembling truth, or a system of finding such? If anything your statement should be the other way around.”

    Science tries to research spirituality, but can’t really come up with any evidence one way or the other, so I had nothing to say about it.

    As to things I can’t possibly know, what things?

    “Oh, where do I start?

    Anytime you make a claim of a Supreme, Absolute, or any kind of reality aside from the one you live in you make claims you can’t substantiate. Anytime you claim that your philosophical truth god has any credibility outside your own imagination (to say nothing of being compatible with empirical facts) you are pretending to know something you have no way of knowing.”

    Yet I made no such claims. I live in the reality of Absolute truth. I live in the reality of God. I have already said this is my own subjective belief and can’t show empirical evidence of it. How does one show physical evidence of a non-physical reality?

    “You have in fact not made a single statement regarding your position you can prove. You simply throw out the esoterica, use terms like supreme and absolute and pretend they mean something in context to a discussion about science and truth.”

    I will repeat yet again, I wasn’t trying to prove anything. I don’t pretend the term Absolute Truth means something. I have already explained what it means. If you can’t accept it, that’s fine by me.

    In reply to #60 by achromat666:

    Science is irrelevant because it can’t address spirituality successfully.

    And you clearly paid Alan’s response to that no mind in reference to science’s research into spirituality. And please explain how spirituality approaches anything resembling truth, or a system of finding such? If anything you…



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  • 64
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #63 by joehev:

    Having trouble figuring out ways to use the reply functions.

    “And you clearly paid Alan’s response to that no mind in reference to science’s research into spirituality. And please explain how spirituality approaches anything resembling truth, or a system of finding such? If anything your statement…

    The formatting tool is just below the preview for what you’re typing. In general when you want to quote someone, you put the greater than symbol (>) right before the beginning of the paragraph. It also need to be put in at the beginning of each paragraph you want to have quoted. The Asterisk on both ends of a statement is to italicize that whole section and 2 asterisks will make it bold

    But to your responses….

    Science tries to research spirituality, but can’t really come up with any evidence one way or the other, so I had nothing to say about it.

    Have you actually read any results? And you actually did just say that science has nothing of use to say about spirituality. So there’s that.

    I will repeat yet again, I wasn’t trying to prove anything. I don’t pretend the term Absolute Truth means something. I have already explained what it means. If you can’t accept it, that’s fine by me.

    Here is a quote from one of your early posts:

    I didn’t say it makes it true…for everyone. For me, it is a truth that science can’t handle.

    This indicates something of a cognitive dissonance as what is true doesn’t shift in perception. So if it were true it would be true for everyone. And if the term means nothing, why use it?

    And yeah, I’m afraid I do not accept the explanation.



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  • 65
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #51 by joehev:

    Sorry, I didn’t think the shortening of your login name would be a problem. My mistake.

    Thanks for the apology, but it’s not necessary. I took no offense and I assumed you meant none. I just wanted to make you aware that I don’t care for “Ban.” The “Thanks” was genuine.

    As for your thoughts on the word “truth.” I’m afraid I must retort.

    Imagine I were to say something like:

    “For me, a cow is a tiny rodent that lives in walls and steals cheese. You may disagree with me. No problem. To me it just makes logical sense that “cow” includes everything tiny and furry with big ears and whiskers.”

    Tell me. Would you consider that something about which we could reasonably agree to disagree? Would you think, “Well, he just sees things differently”? Or would you rightly point out (or at least think to yourself) that I am in fact wrong about the meaning of the word “cow”?

    The word “truth” already has a definition, or rather it has several separate but related definitions. I know you are aware of this because you clearly consulted a dictionary in order to quote me a definition (definition 5b no less!) in a previous comment. A definition which, as I have already pointed out, DOES NOT support your usage of the word in this thread.

    Here’s the thing. None of the clear, existing definitions of the word “truth” is anything even remotely like “everything that has ever happened and everything that has ever been conceived.” None of the definitions of “truth” can be reasonably interpreted to mean “all of reality…[including] actual events and fiction”. Go ahead, read them again. They don’t support your claims here. They just don’t. Truth does not include falsehood. It cannot. It’s oxymoronic to say it does. If you assert that truth includes false ideas “in your philosophy” that is equivalent to saying “my philosophy is provably wrong.” We can look it up, so what “Truth” means “to you” is just plain irrelevant. The meaning you are attributing is simply NOT WHAT THE WORD MEANS. It’s not a matter of opinion. You are either using the wrong word, or misusing the right word. You are, to put it bluntly, simply wrong.

    If you want to refer to everything that is or was or will be, the English language already has words that will reasonably bear that meaning. Try “everything,” “reality,” “existence,” “the universe,” or “the cosmos.” If none of those fits the exact concept you mean to convey, you could coin a new word to fit your personal definition. But using an existing word whose accepted definitions already exclude some parts of “everything” (in this case, the untrue parts such as lies and purely imaginary concepts) is poor communication – at best. It is objectively wrong and it causes unnecessary confusion.

    Of course, sometimes confusion is the goal of such equivocation. A word like “truth” is often purposely employed in the wrong context in an attempt to give unwary listeners an impression of authority for an otherwise badly supported idea. Phrases like “personal truth” or “true for me” or “part of the capital-T Truth” are intellectually dishonest (either intentionally or not.) They are attempts to imply or “borrow” some of the “objectively true” meaning of the word “true” for ideas which are in fact either subjective, unsupported, or objectively false.

    Heretofore I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assumed that you might be making an honest mistake. But it has now been clearly explained to you several times. There is also evidence that you have already consulted a reference work which does not support your “personal” usage of the word. If you fail to either acknowledge that you have misused a common English word (hardly a crime) or provide linguistic authority for your attempts at misappropriation, I will in future have reason to question your grasp of the concept of “honesty” in addition to “truth.”

    Thanks for the well wishes. I sincerely return them.



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  • 66
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #63 by joehev:

    Anytime you make a claim of a Supreme, Absolute, or any kind of reality aside from the one you live in you make claims you can’t substantiate. Anytime you claim that your philosophical truth god has any credibility outside your own imagination (to say nothing of being compatible with empirical facts) you are pretending to know something you have no way of knowing.”

    Yet I made no such claims. I live in the reality of Absolute truth.

    Both repeating and denying the claim in the same line??????

    I live in the reality of God. I have already said this is my own subjective belief and can’t show empirical evidence of it.

    Subjective beliefs only exist in the brain, but you choose to deny the neuropsychology while pretending to espouse science.

    How does one show physical evidence of a non-physical reality?

    Non-physical = non existent. – that is the point!

    It is the believer’s view that a giant god-delusion is bigger than the real universe, and that imaginary internally self-refernced “knowledge” of this delusion is greater than objective reality. This has usually simply been indicative of the very limited understanding of physical reality in the mind of the claimant!

    To avoid refutation, such imaginary gods need to remain vague, ill-defined and/or be hidden in gaps built of sematic ambiguity and obscurity, – with the usual ignoring, minimising, or denial of objective evidence by their advocates.

    “You have in fact not made a single statement regarding your position you can prove. You simply throw out the esoterica, use terms like supreme and absolute and pretend they mean something in context to a discussion about science and truth.”

    I will repeat yet again, I wasn’t trying to prove anything.

    On site for science and reasoning this is a strange claim! – Especially in view of the various assertions.

    I don’t pretend the term Absolute Truth means something. I have already explained what it means.

    The cognitive dissonance of refusing to recognise self-contradiction kicks in again.

    Your argument for subjective “TRUTH” can be summed up as:-

    “If we redefine the word ‘truth’ to mean anything we like, we can claim that anything we like is the truth”! – and then wrongly imply that this has some relevence to its formal meaning of “accuracy or consistency of information”!

    It is what I usually refer to as the pseudo-reasoning of the “semantic shuffle”!

    @55 – In Christian theology, God is love. In my philosophy God is Truth. Supreme or Universal Truth are one and the same.

    This would be the “truth”, where you claim you ” don’t pretend the term Absolute Truth means something”, so – if we follow logically – you don’t pretend your god-claim means something???

    This is distinct from what I call small-t truth, which is basically a truth that has limitations attached, or specifications, if you will. I view science as an accumulation of small-t truths.

    Yep! The small view of reality compared to the unrestrained (by needs for evidence) mind-dominating god delusion, which shuffles and squims out of sight into denial, self contradiction, or obfuscating semantic obscurity, whenever details are sought for objective exanimation.



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  • 67
    achromat666 says:

    Thanks for responding to this Alan. I was tired last night and missed this one bit in a sea of philosophical meanderings.

    Joehev…

    Yet I made no such claims. I live in the reality of Absolute truth.

    This is what I refer to when I say you are putting your ideas and science on the same playing field without even trying to prove anything. You live in the same reality as everyone else putting absolute in front of it doesn’t validate what you’re claiming.

    I live in the reality of God. I have already said this is my own subjective belief and can’t show empirical evidence of it. How does one show physical evidence of a non-physical reality?

    A very good question, but a better question would be why do you insists on putting your opinions out there like they are facts and then say they are merely opinions when confronted with their lack of evidence? Your positions are inherently contradictory.

    I’ve said at least twice before what you have is faith, not facts. Had you simply acquiesced that a while ago, this conversation would have long since ended.



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  • 68
    Pauly01 says:

    And there it is . ‘In Christian Theology’ , The supernatural elements are completely un-evidenced , you know , and we can never establish the veracity of most of it because of the sheer passage of time.

    My experience of Humans is that they bullshit ,

    alot.

    I can’t debate you, because your approach will never provide evidence of any kind for the assertions you are making. No offence.

    In reply to #55 by joehev:

    In Christian theology, God is love. In my philosophy God is Truth. Supreme or Universal Truth are one and the same. This is distinct from what I call small-t truth, which is basically a truth that has limitations attached, or specifications, if you will. I view science as an accumulation of small-t…



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  • Of course the supernatural is ‘unevidenced’. Were it evidenced, it would be natural. As for bullshit, something is only bullshit if it is known and meant to be. My thoughts are sincere, so they aren’t bullshit. And I never asked you, or anyone else, to debate me. So don’t feel you must. I’m having these discussions for the purpose of mutual understanding, not debate. Capice?

    In reply to #69 by Pauly01:

    And there it is . ‘In Christian Theology’ , The supernatural elements are completely un-evidenced , you know , and we can never establish the veracity of most of it because of the sheer passage of time.

    My experience of Humans is that they bullshit ,

    alot.

    I can’t debate you, because your approac…



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  • My opinions are facts…to me. Faith is something I arrive at through observation and reasoning. I can’t prove my opinions to you or anyone else. I volunteer them as food for thought to any open-minded individual.

    In reply to #68 by achromat666:

    Thanks for responding to this Alan. I was tired last night and missed this one bit in a sea of philosophical meanderings.

    Joehev…

    Yet I made no such claims. I live in the reality of Absolute truth.

    This is what I refer to when I say you are putting your ideas and science on the same playing fie…



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  • 71
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #69 by Pauly01:

    And there it is . ‘In Christian Theology’ , The supernatural elements are completely un-evidenced , you know , and we can never establish the veracity of most of it because of the sheer passage of time.

    Not to mention the huge variety of rhetorical and contradictory “interpretations” of the same texts, by multitudes of believers, using the same unreliable “faith-thinking”, to come up with a whole range of different “trooooo” anwers!



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  • **Anytime you make a claim of a Supreme, Absolute, or any kind of reality aside from the one you live in you make claims you can’t substantiate. Anytime you claim that your philosophical truth god has any credibility outside your own imagination (to say nothing of being compatible with empirical facts) you are pretending to know something you have no way of knowing.”

    Yet I made no such claims. I live in the reality of Absolute truth.

    Both repeating and denying the claim in the same line??????**

    Not at all. You used the words “….any kind of reality aside from the one you live in…” My point is the reality I believe in is the reality I live in. I made no claim to ‘pretend’ to live in another reality.

    Subjective beliefs only exist in the brain, but you choose to deny the neuropsychology while pretending to espouse science.

    I didn’t deny neuropsychology. I simply ignored it since it proves nothing to me or anyone else. It certainly is interesting. I’ll wait for future events, but my mind is not closed to it.

    **How does one show physical evidence of a non-physical reality?

    Non-physical = non existent. – that is the point!**

    No, that is your point. It isn’t mine.

    It is the believer’s view that a giant god-delusion is bigger than the real universe, and that imaginary internally self-refernced “knowledge” of this delusion is greater than objective reality. This has usually simply been indicative of the very limited understanding of physical reality in the mind of the claimant!

    No, it is this believer’s view that God is the real universe. It is the unbeliever’s view that it is a mere delusion.

    To avoid refutation, such imaginary gods need to remain vague, ill-defined and/or be hidden in gaps built of sematic ambiguity and obscurity, – with the usual ignoring, minimising, or denial of objective evidence by their advocates.

    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of God. I admit I have been unable to do so. Nor have I been able to find such evidence of the existence of God…therefore, faith.

    **”You have in fact not made a single statement regarding your position you can prove. You simply throw out the esoterica, use terms like supreme and absolute and pretend they mean something in context to a discussion about science and truth.”

    I will repeat yet again, I wasn’t trying to prove anything.

    On site for science and reasoning this is a strange claim! – Especially in view of the various assertions.

    I don’t pretend the term Absolute Truth means something. I have already explained what it means.

    The cognitive dissonance of refusing to recognise self-contradiction kicks in again.**

    There is no contradiction. I wasn’t pretending.

    **Your argument for subjective “TRUTH” can be summed up as:-

    “If we redefine the word ‘truth’ to mean anything we like, we can claim that anything we like is the truth”! – and then wrongly imply that this has some relevence to its formal meaning of “accuracy or consistency of information”!

    It is what I usually refer to as the pseudo-reasoning of the “semantic shuffle”!

    @55 – In Christian theology, God is love. In my philosophy God is Truth. Supreme or Universal Truth are one and the same.

    This would be the “truth”, where you claim you ” don’t pretend the term Absolute Truth means something”, so – if we follow logically – you don’t pretend your god-claim means something???**

    That’s correct. I don’t pretend.

    **This is distinct from what I call small-t truth, which is basically a truth that has limitations attached, or specifications, if you will. I view science as an accumulation of small-t truths.

    Yep! The small view of reality compared to the unrestrained (by needs for evidence) mind-dominating god delusion, which shuffles and squims out of sight into denial, self contradiction, or obfuscating semantic obscurity, whenever details are sought for objective exanimation.**

    That’s quite a mouthful.

    In reply to #67 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #63 by joehev:

    Anytime you make a claim of a Supreme, Absolute, or any kind of reality aside from the one you live in you make claims you can’t substantiate. Anytime you claim that your philosophical truth god has any credibility outside your own imagination (to say nothing of being com…



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  • 73
    achromat666 says:

    My opinions are facts…to me.

    This is never a true statement, under any circumstances. Opinions are opinions because they are subjective assessments of a given circumstance. Facts are true regardless of opinion. So no, once again, you don’t get to change the definitions of words and parade them as facts because it suits your case.

    Faith is something I arrive at through observation and reasoning. I can’t prove my opinions to you or anyone else. I volunteer them as food for thought to any open-minded individual.

    Faith is something you arrive at by being convinced of things you can’t prove. You observe something and make a faith judgement based on the circular reasoning of your religious views.

    And we know you can’t prove any of your claims, yet you still throw out nonsense phrases like the beginning of your last post. Being unable to prove your claims doesn’t give you license to make up stuff and call it fact.

    And open minded doesn’t mean just accepting any wacky idea thrown out. No one should be so open minded that they fall for anything.



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  • 74
    Alan4discussion says:

    The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world

    In reply to #71 by joehev:

    My opinions are facts…to me.

    Oh dear! – on a critical thinking site too!

    Faith is something I arrive at through observation and reasoning.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faithBelief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

    You really need a dictionary to arrive at regular definitions of words! Sticking words like “facts”, “true” or “reasoning” on to made up opinions, does not do anything to add to their credibilty. It just shows an inability to reason or to use clear language.

    “Truth”, “factualness”, and “reasoning”, do not “rub-off” onto make-believe notions, if they are stuck on as mislabelling or badges of false authority!



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  • 75
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #73 by joehev:

    My point is the reality I believe in is the reality I live in. I made no claim to ‘pretend’ to live in another reality.

    You claim to live in a reality where god exists even though you have no evidence whatsoever. That’s not truth, it’s a subjective opinion.



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  • 76
    Pauly01 says:

    In reply to comment 70 (can’t reply the usual way because of my browser)

    Hi joehev,

    Of course the supernatural is ‘unevidenced’. Were it evidenced, it would be natural. As for bullshit, something is only bullshit if it is known and meant to be. My thoughts are sincere, so they aren’t bullshit. And I never asked you, or anyone else, to debate me. So don’t feel you must. I’m having these discussions for the purpose of mutual understanding, not debate. Capice?

    Maybe the word ‘bullshit’ is incendiary at this stage. I was not making a direct comment at yourself. I was simply stating that from my experience (you having given your own experiences) that when people talk about supernaturalism , the occult and make wildly un-evidenced assumptions , that they can never make their claims stack up. Look at UFO’s , Alien Sightings , Alien Abductions , The Occult , Satanism , Conspiracy Theories. So we now live in an age where technology affords us the possibility of verifiably proving these claims , yet they have not being verified , out of the thousands and thousands of claims , they only need to provide unequivocal evidence for one , yet the evidence is not forthcoming. So what am I to believe? I think it should not be viewed as Ad hominem to say that humans bullshit



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  • In reply to #66 by BanJoIvie:

    (Sorry, I didn’t think the shortening of your login name would be a problem. My mistake.

    Thanks for the apology, but it’s not necessary. I took no offense and I assumed you meant none. I just wanted to make you aware that I don’t care for “Ban.” The “Thanks” was genuine.

    As for your thoughts on the word “truth.” I’m afraid I must retort.

    Imagine I were to say something like:

    “For me, a cow is a tiny rodent that lives in walls and steals cheese. You may disagree with me. No problem. To me it just makes logical sense that “cow” includes everything tiny and furry with big ears and whiskers.”

    Tell me. Would you consider that something about which we could reasonably agree to disagree? Would you think, “Well, he just sees things differently”? Or would you rightly point out (or at least think to yourself) that I am in fact wrong about the meaning of the word “cow”?)

    The cow and the rodent are physical realities easily discernible by physical means. On the other hand, if as the Hindus claim, the cow is a reincarnation of a departed loved one then I would have no simple means of refuting that claim.

    (The word “truth” already has a definition, or rather it has several separate but related definitions. I know you are aware of this because you clearly consulted a dictionary in order to quote me a definition (definition 5b no less!) in a previous comment. A definition which, as I have already pointed out, DOES NOT support your usage of the word in this thread.)

    Yet, I believe it does support it, so stalemate, I guess.

    (Here’s the thing. None of the clear, existing definitions of the word “truth” is anything even remotely like “everything that has ever happened and everything that has ever been conceived.” None of the definitions of “truth” can be reasonably interpreted to mean “all of reality…[including] actual events and fiction”. Go ahead, read them again. They don’t support your claims here.)

    Well, yes, the philosophical Truth I referred to does support the 5b definition. It is, I believe, close to the Buddhist conclusion of it. But I’d have to look that up to verify.

    (They just don’t. Truth does not include falsehood. It cannot. It’s oxymoronic to say it does.)

    Yet, falsehood does exist. Therefore, it is part of the universal Truth. I don’t see anything vaguely oxymoronic about that.

    (If you assert that truth includes false ideas “in your philosophy” that is equivalent to saying “my philosophy is provably wrong.” We can look it up, so what “Truth” means “to you” is just plain irrelevant. The meaning you are attributing is simply NOT WHAT THE WORD MEANS. It’s not a matter of opinion. You are either using the wrong word, or misusing the right word. You are, to put it bluntly, simply wrong.)

    Yet I contend it is certainly a matter of opinion, opinion based on logic.

    (If you want to refer to everything that is or was or will be, the English language already has words that will reasonably bear that meaning. Try “everything,” “reality,” “existence,” “the universe,” or “the cosmos.”)

    Thank you. You have just written out the explanation of the Universal Truth. It is “everything,” “reality,” “existence,” “the universe,” or “the cosmos.”

    (Of course, sometimes confusion is the goal of such equivocation. A word like “truth” is often purposely employed in the wrong context in an attempt to give unwary listeners an impression of authority for an otherwise badly supported idea. Phrases like “personal truth” or “true for me” or “part of the capital-T Truth” are intellectually dishonest (either intentionally or not.) They are attempts to imply or “borrow” some of the “objectively true” meaning of the word “true” for ideas which are in fact either subjective, unsupported, or objectively false.)

    Do you have objective proof of this?

    (Heretofore I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assumed that you might be making an honest mistake. But it has now been clearly explained to you several times. There is also evidence that you have already consulted a reference work which does not support your “personal” usage of the word. If you fail to either acknowledge that you have misused a common English word (hardly a crime) or provide linguistic authority for your attempts at misappropriation, I will in future have reason to question your grasp of the concept of “honesty” in addition to “truth.”)

    In my mind, I have made no mistake, honest or otherwise. Of course, I consulted a reference work, more for your benefit than for mine. As for what has been ‘clearly explained to’ me, I have also attempted to clearly explain my position to you. I regret you believe my thoughts to be dishonest in some way. Perhaps you don’t quite grasp what I’m saying. But that’s OK. As I have said before, I base my beliefs on my own subjective experiences aided by the use of logic. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I keep an open mind to other thoughts and conclusions as I come across them. Good day.

    In reply to #51 by joehev:

    Sorry, I didn’t think the shortening of your login name would be a problem. My mistake.

    Thanks for the apology, but it’s not necessary. I took no offense and I assumed you meant none. I just wanted to make you aware that I don’t care for “Ban.” The “Thanks” was genuine….



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  • 78
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #73 by joehev:

    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of God. I admit I have been unable to do so.

    It is not possible to prove a negative.
    To illustrate the point:-
    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of Zeus, Aphrodite, leprechauns, tooth-fairies,. Huitzilopochtli, ‎Xiuhtecuhtli, Thor or Woden!

    Nor have I been able to find such evidence of the existence of God…therefore, faith

    So I take it you also believe in all the other gods for which there is equally no evidence and no disproof of their existence!



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  • God by any name is still God.

    In reply to #79 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #73 by joehev:

    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of God. I admit I have been unable to do so.

    It is not possible to prove a negative.
    To illustrate the point:-
    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non…



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  • I have never maintained anything else, DH.

    In reply to #76 by DHudson:

    In reply to #73 by joehev:

    My point is the reality I believe in is the reality I live in. I made no claim to ‘pretend’ to live in another reality.

    You claim to live in a reality where god exists even though you have no evidence whatsoever. That’s not truth, it’s a subjective opinion.



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  • “I think, therefore I am.” Yet another opinion based on logic. I have no problem with the ‘mission’ of this site. I realize it is limited to ‘the natural world’. I am simply here to discuss, not debate. This is, after all, a discussion forum, right? And in fact, you are Alan4discussion, correct? No probs.

    In reply to #75 by Alan4discussion:

    The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world

    In reply to #71 by joehev:

    My opinions are facts…to me.

    Oh dear! – on a critical thinking site too!

    Faith is somethin…



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  • 82
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #81 by joehev:

    I have never maintained anything else, DH.

    It should come as no surprise then, that your definition of truth is of no relevance to anyone else but you.



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  • I must be away, folks. Time for my hour of yoga. Thank you for the invigorating mental exercise. I am glad to see that throughout these talks cool heads and logic prevailed. “I shall return.”



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  • Well, but that is merely your subjective opinion. So long.

    In reply to #83 by DHudson:

    In reply to #81 by joehev:

    I have never maintained anything else, DH.

    It should come as no surprise then, that your definition of truth is of no relevance to anyone else but you.



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  • 85
    achromat666 says:

    “I think, therefore I am.” Yet another opinion based on logic.

    And making one logical statement somehow validates the illogical position you stand behind how, exactly? You make it sound like everything you’ve said is completely logical as opposed to a bizarre exercise in circular reasoning and philosophical improbables.

    I have no problem with the ‘mission’ of this site. I realize it is limited to ‘the natural world’.

    Aaaaaaaaaannnnd stop. Right there.

    Stop with the limits of the natural world nonsense if you can’t establish:

    a) that you actually have a solid grasp of the science you are refuting (or dodging as the case may be) and

    b) that you have anything to back up a single claim you’ve made, which so far you have not remotely demonstrated.

    Otherwise you are just spouting made up gibberish you wish to be taken seriously.

    I am simply here to discuss, not debate. This is, after all, a discussion forum, right?

    Obviously people are still responding to you, so however diametrically opposed we are to everything you’ve stated it is still being discussed. I fail to see the point.



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  • 86
    achromat666 says:

    God by any name is still God.

    No, it is an idea created wholecloth by people at a time when they couldn’t find better answers. Different cultures had different ideas, hence the numerous examples being mentioned and therefore invalidating the idea that any one of them could be ‘the god’ if none of them have any evidence to back them up.

    Very much like your odd notions of absolute and supreme reality, they were manufactured with no relation to how the universe actually works. No deity, not one has any more credence than another. So nothing about your statement has even the most remote sense of accuracy.

    Which is pretty much true of every other position you’ve posted. You persist in pushing your opinion as if it had equal weight to actual scientific endeavor into understanding the only universe that exists. It doesn’t.

    I will continue to post this until it sinks in: what you have is faith in something that has no correlation to reality. You make up or borrow theistic ideas about realities and truths that somehow supercede and exceed human understanding and lie beyond human experience. Except that if these things existed you would have no more access to it than anyone else.

    And since you’ve already said you can’t prove them all you’re doing now is being contrary for the sake of it. Attempting to appropriate words to suit your interest doesn’t help you and doesn’t make your ideas any more viable. It only further complicates what is a cut and dry example of you spouting things that have no relevance or fundamental understanding of reality.



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  • 87
    Moderator says:

    Moderators’ message

    Users of this site are not required to be atheist, and religious users are very welcome to argue the case for their beliefs provided it is relevant to the thread in question.

    However, merely posting religious and/or supernatural claims and refusing to engage in analysis of them or to respond to challenges to them is considered preaching, and that is not permitted under our Terms and Conditions.

    Anyone who posts here, religious or not, should be willing to argue their case rather than simply post an opinion and refuse to engage with criticism of it.

    The mods



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  • 89
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #78 by joehev:

    Hi joehev,

    First, a formatting tip. If you want to set apart quoted material from your own thoughts in a post, you can insert the “greater than” symbol (>) before each paragraph that you wish to appear as a block quote. It would make a post like this one easier to follow and keep any future replies from accidentally mixing up your words with those you quote from others.

    The cow and the rodent are physical realities easily discernible by physical means.

    Yes. And “truth” is a word in the English language with a definition we can check. Making up your own is bad rhetorical practice.

    On the other hand, if as the Hindus claim, the cow is a reincarnation of a departed loved one […]

    If a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump it’s ass a ‘hoppin. There is no support for the claim (by Hindus or anyone else) that a cow is a reincarnated anything. Deriving conclusion from an unsupported premise is invalid reasoning.

    Suppose I were to claim that I am incapable of error and my words are true in all instances, do we throw up our hands and say, “Well, if BanJoIvie is infallible as he claims, then we have no means of refuting his claim”?

    […] then I would have no simple means of refuting that claim.

    Of course you would. The simple refutation is, “There is absolutely no evidence for reincarnation of cows or of anything else. Either provide a basis for inserting it into your line of reasoning or abandon it.”

    There is a presumption of burden in logical reasoning, and it lies with the party making the affirmative claim. Affirmative claims (like “a cow is a reincarnated loved one”) are presumed to be false until supported by evidence. We then base our level of confidence in the claim on the strength of the evidenc. Otherwise, reasoning would break down anytime anybody just makes something up from thin air.

    [BanJoIvie:] A definition which, as I have already pointed out, DOES NOT support your usage of the word in this thread.

    [ joehev:] Yet, I believe it does support it, so stalemate, I guess.

    Not really. If I put your king in checkmate, you can’t get out of check by saying, “I believe this is stalemate.” We can check the board.

    So let’s consult the record.

    In comment 45, you claim:

    The meaning I make use of in such discussions as this is the following: 5b. Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

    Here you make a demonstrably false claim. You explicitly DO NOT make use of this definition anywhere in this discussion. Definition 5b specifically mentions “the supreme reality” and “value” as necessary components of “Truth.” Yet in post #51, you say:

    Truth is all of reality

    Note that the modifier supreme in the dictionary definition necessarily implies that some of reality is excluded from the definition, yet you include all of it.

    You further assert:

    [#51] Truth, like God, is all-inclusive, including those words or actions or thoughts that don’t appear to have redeeming value.

    This directly contradicts your claim to rely on definition 5b, which very clearly says that truth is that which is considered to have value.
    Furthermore, you make it clear in several places that you are NOT making use of the dictionary definition, but one that derives from your own philosophy. That is exactly equivalent to a “made-up definition” which you falsely claim not to employ.

    Not stalemate.

    Back to comment #78

    Well, yes, the philosophical Truth I referred to does support the 5b definition.

    No. Your “philosophical Truth” explicitly includes falsehood. Definition 5b will not bear that interpretation.

    It is, I believe, close to the Buddhist conclusion of it. But I’d have to look that up to verify.

    Don’t bother. That would be irrelevant.

    Yet, falsehood does exist.

    I never claimed it doesn’t. I claimed that falsehood is not true. This is axiomatic and self-evident.

    Therefore, it is part of the universal Truth.

    No. It is part of existence. Falsehood is not part of any kind of truth. They are opposite concepts and necessarily separate. Saying falsehood is part of truth is wrong. Always.

    I don’t see anything vaguely oxymoronic about that.

    You aren’t looking. It’s very, very plain. “Falsehood is part of the truth” is practically a defining example of an oxymoron.

    [Me:] The meaning you are attributing is simply NOT WHAT THE WORD MEANS. It’s not a matter of opinion.

    [You:] Yet I contend it is certainly a matter of opinion […]

    If the definition of words is a matter of opinion then all communication is impossible. It is an absurd position.

    […] opinion based on logic.

    Logic is a rigorous discipline with defined rules. It is not just whatever makes sense to you. Defining terms is a critical component of logic. Definitional bait-and-switch is not logic. It is equivocation.

    Thank you. You have just written out the explanation of the Universal Truth. It is “everything,” “reality,” “existence,” “the universe,” or “the cosmos.”

    Well, from the definitions you have provided for “Universal Truth” in this thread, we should actually exclude “reality” from the list, since your stated definition of the term includes unreal things.

    What you are doing here is intellectually dishonest.

    You are saying that when you, joehev, put a grandiose adjective (like Universal or Supreme or philosophical) before the word “truth” and/or when you write it with a capital T, it has a special definition. Well, fine. In principle, there is nothing wrong with coining a term, defining it, and then using it to make a point.

    My only objection arises, because you are using a word in your new coinage with a pre-existing definition that is antithetical to the new one you propose. Using the word “truth” – however spelled or modified – to mean “both true and false” is dumb at the very least. I cannot think of a reason to do it which would not involve some measure of dishonesty.

    [Me:] Of course, sometimes confusion is the goal of such equivocation. A word like “truth” is often purposely employed in the wrong context in an attempt to give unwary listeners an impression of authority for an otherwise badly supported idea. Phrases like “personal truth” or “true for me” or “part of the capital-T Truth” are intellectually dishonest (either intentionally or not.) They are attempts to imply or “borrow” some of the “objectively true” meaning of the word “true” for ideas which are in fact either subjective, unsupported, or objectively false.

    [You:] Do you have objective proof of this?

    Proof? No. That is a very high bar, usually only obtained in mathematics. Evidence? Maybe. I’m not sure which precise part of my quoted paragraph you’d like me to support, But I’ll try to proceed based on what I think you are asking.

    In the first two sentences I intentionally employed the qualifiers “sometimes” and “often,” which I thought rendered my claims fairly uncontroversial. Equivocation is a pretty well known phenomenon. I’m not sure I really need to provide evidence that it “sometimes” or “often” occurs.

    I admit that I am making a claim about motive which is extremely hard to objectively determine in any individual case. That’s the reason I tried to keep my claim general. I could easily point out many instances of this terminological bait-and-switch, but I couldn’t easily show dishonesty in a specific case without brain scans.

    Sometimes, however, purposeful equivocation is the simplest and best explanation of the facts, so I can make a sort of affirmative case using Occam’s razor.

    Take the famous Bill Clinton quote, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

    Thanks to the Starr Report, we have pretty graphic details of just what Bill Clinton did do with Ms. Lewinski. Those acts would fit comfortably into most people’s understanding of the term “sexual relations.” If I consult a dictionary, I’d have to conclude that Clinton and Lewinski’s interactions qualify as “relations” and that the adjective “sexual” would be apt. When Mr. Clinton used the phrase “sexual relations” on camera, he eschewed the dictionary definitions of those two words, instead relying on a narrow definition of the term from “Deposition Exhibit 1″ created by the Independent Counsel’s Office. He interpreted that definition to exclude receiving oral sex. Now I cannot prove that President Clinton intended his listeners to include the receiving of oral sex when they heard him say “sexual relations” but given all the facts of the case, I think it is the most parsimonious interpretation, and therefore the safest. I would attribute dishonest motives to Mr. Clinton with a reasonable degree of confidence, though short of complete confidence.

    I would use the same approach to support my contentions about misuses of the word “truth.” I cannot prove in any specific case that a speaker definitely wishes me to hear “objectively true” when they use the word to mean otherwise. Yet I cannot think of a better reason for knowingly using a word like “true” when you mean “both true and false.”

    So I ask you sincerely, what good reason could there be? If I wish to convey the idea “all ideas, both true and false” and the word I chose to use for that idea is “truth” the downside is obvious. Confusion and lack of clarity are extremely likely to result. So what’s the upside? If you mean to say “existence” what is the advantage of saying “Big-T Truth…by which I mean existence.” Can you think of a more parsimonious explanation than intent to deceive? Either to delude one’s self or one’s listeners or both? If confusion and decreased clarity are not the desired effect, why introduce them? What is gained?

    I contend that some form of deceit is the simplest explanation, therefore I’m not sure I need to further support my claim that – in at least some cases – deceit is the motive.

    In my mind, I have made no mistake, honest or otherwise.

    You are wrong.

    Of course, I consulted a reference work, more for your benefit than for mine.

    Consult it again. For your own benefit this time. To quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    I have also attempted to clearly explain my position to you. I regret you believe my thoughts to be dishonest in some way. Perhaps you don’t quite grasp what I’m saying.

    You have explained it. It is untenable. I grasp it very well. It is equivocation.

    I base my beliefs on my own subjective experiences […]

    That is an unsound basis for belief. It is the basis for every delusional belief ever held. A person in an a asylum who believes he is Napoleon Bonaparte uses the same basis.

    […] aided by the use of logic.

    That would me a better approach. However logic insists that you rigorously and skeptically test your subjective experiences against objective observation. It also requires you to minimize your assumptions. You appear to employ neither of these approaches, so I doubt your claims be using logic. Not all chains of reasoning are logical. I highly recommend the formal study of logic to anyone interested in the pursuit of truth.

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I keep an open mind to other thoughts and conclusions as I come across them.
    I commend that. I strive to take the exact same position. I hope it will bear fruit for you as it does for me.

    Good day.

    Thank you. A very good day to you as well.



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  • 90
    WMcEnaney says:

    I’m still wondering what Jonas means when he says that science equals truth. For me, it’s easy to see that, although science helps us discover truths, it differs from what truth is in itself. People knew some truths about themselves, about others and so forth before some of them invented science. I’m a Catholic. So I believe that there’s a God, but I’m not absolutely certain that He exists. Atheism may be true. If it’s true theism is false. Whether I’m certain or not, my belief’s truth or its falsehood still depends on circumstances outside my mind. But those circumstances may or may not cause my certainty.



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  • In reply to #80 by joehev:

    God by any name is still God.

    YHWH is definitely not Allah nor Thor nor Krishna nor deified Nero nor deified Jesus. When people make up deities (or deify once living persons) they are not just assigning a new name, they associate specific attributes to said deity or deities with obligations for worship and living practice. Even when they do use the same name, such as the over ten thousand sects of Christianity, small to large differences of how worshipers see their deities create de facto separations. The divergence lacking any majority agreement, means that most people are necessarily wrong about these attributes, even if anyone is right. At this point, no believer has been able to establish the “truth” of any picture of divinity by presentation of evidence, so the base position is that not only must most be wrong, but further, that we have no reason to move beyond the suspicion that everyone has it wrong.



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  • 92
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #80 by joehev:

    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of God. I admit I have been unable to do so.

    It is not possible to prove a negative. To illustrate the point:-

    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of Zeus, Aphrodite, leprechauns, tooth-fairies,. Huitzilopochtli, ‎Xiuhtecuhtli, Thor or Woden!

    Nor have I been able to find such evidence of the existence of God…therefore, faith

    So I take it you also believe in all the other gods for which there is equally no evidence and no disproof of their existence!

    God by any name is still God.

    All Hail – the worshipful – Aphrodite, leprechauns, and tooth-fairies! – Isn’t faith-thinking a wonderful tool for self delusion? –
    What a contrast with objective science!



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  • 93
    WMcEnaney says:

    Alan, there’s an indirect way to prove a negative because some negatives follow from some positives. For example, “No man is not mortal” follows from “All men are mortal.” So if you prove that all men are mortal, you prove implicitly that no man is not mortal.In reply to #93 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #80 by joehev:

    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of God. I admit I have been unable to do so.

    It is not possible to prove a negative. To illustrate the point:-

    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-e…



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  • In reply to #90 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #78 by joehev:

    Hi joehev,

    First, a formatting tip. If you want to set apart quoted material from your own thoughts in a post, you can insert the “greater than” symbol (>) before each paragraph that you wish to appear as a block quote. It would make a post like this one easier to follow…

    I’m not sure that you can employ these formatting techniques when using a tablet device. I’ve tried on occasion, and don’t seem to be able to pull it off. Maybe that’s the problem.

    I’m still following the debate…with interest. I’m impressed with all the comments who are still able to come up with fresh insights and rebuttals.



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  • 95
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #94 by WMcEnaney:

    Alan, there’s an indirect way to prove a negative because some negatives follow from some positives. For example, “No man is not mortal” follows from “All men are mortal.” So if you prove that all men are mortal, you prove implicitly that no man is not mortal.

    Actually that is a double negative which translates into the positive you quote.

    It is possible, on limited occasions to prove a negative by providing a contradictory positive. eg. an alibi:- “I was not in New York at 2pm on Wednesday because I can prove I was in London.”

    But it is not possible to prove the type of negative I quoted.



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  • BanJolvie, I will try the > in future. Thanks.

    In reply to #90 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #78 by joehev:

    Hi joehev,

    First, a formatting tip. If you want to set apart quoted material from your own thoughts in a post, you can insert the “greater than” symbol (>) before each paragraph that you wish to appear as a block quote. It would make a post like this one easier to follow…



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  • Popping in here again as your human sacrifice. Since I can’t keep track of all that’s been said, please feel free to repost any thoughts you might want to address with me. Thanks. If possible try to stick to your most important points. I’m an older fart so my tracking skills are suspect.



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  • In reply to #92 by Quine:
    Actually, YWEH and Odin and Zeus are all one and the same if you accept the premise of the one God and accept His existence. The problem here is that mortals try to define an immortal being – the formation of religion – so just like their inability to prove God’s existence in mortal terms, so also they can’t come up with a definition that pleases everone.

    In reply to #80 by joehev:

    God by any name is still God.

    YHWH is definitely not Allah nor Thor nor Krishna nor deified Nero nor deified Jesus. When people make up deities (or deify once living persons) they are not just assigning a new name, they associate specific attributes to said deity or deit…



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  • 99
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #95 by Nitya:

    I’m not sure that you can employ these formatting techniques when using a tablet device.

    Good info Nitya, thanks. I have really only posted here from a standard PC using Internet Explorer. I wasn’t considering how other formats might play havoc.



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  • 100
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #98 by joehev:

    Popping in here again as your human sacrifice. Since I can’t keep track of all that’s been said, please feel free to repost any thoughts you might want to address with me. Thanks. If possible try to stick to your most important points. I’m an older fart so my tracking skills are suspect.

    I’d just like to compliment you on your willingness to engage in open dialoge and to juggle so many comment tracks, all while maintaining a very pleasant and sincere demeanor. I hope you will stick around even though your minority views will probably draw frequent fire.



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  • In reply to #99 by joehev:

    In reply to #92 by Quine:
    Actually, YWEH and Odin and Zeus are all one and the same if you accept the premise of the one God and accept His existence.

    I suggest that you list the attributes of YHWH, Odin and Zeus so you can plainly see that they are nothing like each other beyond all being mythological deities. As for any kind of “oneness” premise, Odin and Zeus were parts of explicit pantheons, and YHWH was worshiped together with Baal and other deities in Canaan, with only the First Commandment requirement of being foremost. Allah really is an exclusive deity, whereas, Christians have three deities, a demi-goddess (Mary), and a whole Heaven full of supernatural in-betweens (angels & saints) and a Hell full of demons.



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  • 102
    achromat666 says:

    YWEH and Odin and Zeus are all one and the same if you accept the premise of the one God and accept His existence. The problem here is that mortals try to define an immortal being – the formation of religion – so just like their inability to prove God’s existence in mortal terms, so also they can’t come up with a definition that pleases everone.

    There is no if. They are 2 different deities created by 2 separate cultures. They are not the same. Are you presuming to speak for all the myriad cultures and their beliefs in trying to invent your all encompassing god? And to repeat myself yet again, don’t put the belief above the fact. Mortals invented the immortal being, any other conclusion requires actual evidence of the deity in question.

    Stop putting the cart before the horse.

    Also, bear in mind the moderators message about preaching before going much further. You have not defended your claims except to repeat the same things you started out saying.



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  • 103
    WMcEnaney says:

    Good point, Alan. But C. J. Ducasse was an atheistic philosopher who believed that there’s an afterlife. Even if he was wrong, there’s still a way to discover, at least in principle, that atheism is true: Die, begin an afterlife, and discover that there’s no God.

    I know that I used a double negative. Aristotle used them, too, when he obverted universal affirmative sentences into universal negative ones. “No man is non-mortal” is the obverse of “All men are mortal.” Any introductory logic textbook probably would tell you about that in a chapter about Aristotelian sentential logic. In reply to #96 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #94 by WMcEnaney:

    Alan, there’s an indirect way to prove a negative because some negatives follow from some positives. For example, “No man is not mortal” follows from “All men are mortal.” So if you prove that all men are mortal, you prove implicitly that no man is not mortal.

    Actua…



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  • 104
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #91 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m still wondering what Jonas means when he says that science equals truth.

    Me too actually. I think he is in error there.

    For me, it’s easy to see that, although science helps us discover truths, it differs from what truth is in itself.

    Absolutely correct.

    People knew some truths about themselves, about others and so forth before some of them invented science.

    Sort of. I would contend that any actual knowledge gained by “pre-scientific” people was actually derived scientifically even before the scientific method was formalized and refined. I’m not sure I’d agree that science was “invented.” Science (speaking broadly) in it’s rudimentary form is probably older than the human race. I would even argue that some animals gain knowledge using processes that are essentially scientific.

    I’m a Catholic. So I believe that there’s a God, but I’m not absolutely certain that He exists. Atheism may be true. If it’s true theism is false. Whether I’m certain or not, my belief’s truth or its falsehood still depends on circumstances outside my mind.

    It is refreshing to hear this sentiment offered up by a theist. I am certain we would disagree on many things, but I want to thank you for this completely unprompted acknowledgement of uncertainty. Sometime perhaps we can discuss your basis for choosing theistic belief in light of this uncertainty, but thanks for this comment.



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  • 105
    joehev says:

    There certainly is an ‘if’. It exists in any exercise of deductive reasoning. But I’m sure you knew that, didn’t you? As for invention, mortals can’t invent God. Mortals can only try to express what their limited imagination may picture as God.

    As for speaking for a myriad of cultures, I haven’t done that in any sense. I posted a very simple logical exercise. If there is one God, and only one, then it doesn’t matter how he may be named or portrayed. Naming and portrayal in that case are merely human stabs at dealing withe concept of God in human terms. The fact that you don’t believe in God is irrelevant to the exercise. And the fact that I can’t prove to your satisfaction that God exists, does not negate the possibility of God’s existence.

    As for preaching, I don’t preach. Never have. If I tried to convince you of the existence of God, you might construe that as preaching. But I’m really not interested in doing that. I simply offer my position and explain why to anyone who may be curious. I’m not sure what the moderator has to do with it. I’m only interested in discussing concepts and hearing thoughts expressed. And that’s what I’ve done.

    In reply to #103 by achromat666:

    YWEH and Odin and Zeus are all one and the same if you accept the premise of the one God and accept His existence. The problem here is that mortals try to define an immortal being – the formation of religion – so just like their inability to prove God’s existence in mortal terms, so also they can’t…



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  • 106
    joehev says:

    Thank you, BonJolvie. I don’t mind drawing a bit of fire. As long as it doesn’t include brimstone. 🙂

    In reply to #101 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #98 by joehev:

    Popping in here again as your human sacrifice. Since I can’t keep track of all that’s been said, please feel free to repost any thoughts you might want to address with me. Thanks. If possible try to stick to your most important points. I’m an older fart so my tracking ski…



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  • 107
    joehev says:

    But I didn’t say the attributes of Odin, YHWH and Zeus are the same. I was suggesting that if there is only one God,
    then it doesn’t matter what name is assigned to him. Ancient people believed in a pantheon of gods, usually with one being pre-eminent. Our three major western religions all contend there is only one God, with some subtle differences. This is why I used the conditional premise ‘if’ one assumes one God.

    In reply to #102 by Quine:

    In reply to #99 by joehev:

    In reply to #92 by Quine:
    Actually, YWEH and Odin and Zeus are all one and the same if you accept the premise of the one God and accept His existence.

    I suggest that you list the attributes of YHWH, Odin and Zeus so you can plainly see that they are nothing like each oth…



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  • 108
    WMcEnaney says:

    Banjolvie, thank you for post 105. I probably need to agree with you about science and pre-scientific societies. In those societies, people used their five senses, discovered that they got the same result when they repeated something, reasoned inductively about what they did repeatedly, assumed some truths that scientists still assume . . . But I think science is more than its methods. Like Socrates, I would want to know the essential nature of science because we can use our senses, reason inductively and so forth in other fields, too.

    For me, honesty demands that I admit that I’m uncertain, because sometimes I wonder why I do some things that I do.

    Maybe in another thread, we’ll talk about why I’m Catholic. For now, let’s stay on topic. Since you brought that up why I am one, though, I’ll tell you that I’m one partly because I believe that St. Thomas Aquinas’s first-cause argument is sound. During this discussion, long posts about the metaphysics behind that argument would be MAJOR digressions. So I won’t hijack the current conversation.



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  • 109
    achromat666 says:

    There certainly is an ‘if’. It exists in any exercise of deductive reasoning. But I’m sure you knew that, didn’t you?

    No, there is no if here, as in your if then statement is faulty from the beginning. The moment you start with an if then statement regarding god, and you have been doing this the whole time, you bypass any effort to prove any such god.

    As for invention, mortals can’t invent God.

    That’s the only way they come into existence and it’s been happening as far back as primitive animism. Your idea of god is not superior to any other, has no grounding in reality and cannot be demonstrated. It is a belief based on numerous things you have borrowed or simply made up. Just like any other faith.

    Mortals can only try to express what their limited imagination may picture as God.

    Not even close. When Baal, Marduk and the such were all the rage and when we didn’t have the info we have now deities were created all the time by cultures everywhere to explain things that we know far more about. They made stuff up in reflection of their own ways of life to explain what they could not. You are once again offering no evidence but still attempting to have unprovable positions accepted as fact.

    As for speaking for a myriad of cultures, I haven’t done that in any sense. I posted a very simple logical exercise.

    You most certainly have and nothing about your exercise is logical.

    Quote:

    YWEH and Odin and Zeus are all one and the same if you accept the premise of the one God and accept His existence.

    By reducing the point being made about the faiths past and present from all around the world to a simple all paths lead to the same unprovable deity trope you are not only speaking for the deities of other cultures but undermining the very reason they were brought up in the first place, which would be to demonstrate both that no faith has a monopoly on the facts and that all of them are man made.

    Your belief in god doesn’t mean that everyone is somehow searching for what you believe, so no not all paths lead to your flavor of worship.

    If there is one God, and only one, then it doesn’t matter how he may be named or portrayed. Naming and portrayal in that case are merely human stabs at dealing withe concept of God in human terms. The fact that you don’t believe in God is irrelevant to the exercise. And the fact that I can’t prove to your satisfaction that God exists, does not negate the possibility of God’s existence.

    And if there are a pantheon of gods, or a creating but non interfering god….put whatever spin on your idea you like. You’ve created this idea of what your unproven god is like. You’re undoing your own arguments by shifting definitions of words, pushing back the goalposts as to not have to demonstrate evidence in an effort to create a god that can’t be contested. You’re creating that in this discussion

    As for preaching, I don’t preach. Never have. If I tried to convince you of the existence of God, you might construe that as preaching. But I’m really not interested in doing that. I simply offer my position and explain why to anyone who may be curious. I’m not sure what the moderator has to do with it. I’m only interested in discussing concepts and hearing thoughts expressed. And that’s what I’ve done.

    Read the moderator’s remarks regarding it. I wasn’t posting it for my edification but for yours. If the mods perceive what you’re doing as preaching (which for the sake of these discussions does not automatically mean just proselytizing) then you get banned.



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  • 110
    joehev says:

    You say nothing in my exercise is logical? Thenl i would suggest to you that you renew your acquaintance with Logic 101. But I’m beginning to think you just enjoy argument for the sake of argument, which is sad really since I’m sure you’d do better with a more open-minded approach. Anyway, I think you and I would find it difficult to find common ground on such matters as these. Best wishes, and no hard feelings.

    In reply to #111 by achromat666:

    There certainly is an ‘if’. It exists in any exercise of deductive reasoning. But I’m sure you knew that, didn’t you?

    No, there is no if here, as in your if then statement is faulty from the beginning. The moment you start with an if then statement regarding god, and you have been doing this the wh…



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  • 111
    Ignorant Amos says:

    In reply to #112 by joehev:

    You say nothing in my exercise is logical? Thenl i would suggest to you that you renew your acquaintance with Logic 101. But I’m beginning to think you just enjoy argument for the sake of argument, which is sad really since I’m sure you’d do better with a more open-minded approach. Anyway, I think you and I would find it difficult to find common ground on such matters as these. Best wishes, and no hard feelings.

    Ahhhh..the conclusion of more marshmallow flumpiness again sir….are you here for rational debate or a troll exercise?



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  • 112
    achromat666 says:

    But let’s try to break all of this down….

    Very often when theists pop in to give their take on the whole god thing most often the core issue is defining what god is to begin with, as that obviously varies from person to person as to what that even means. And most don’t bother to offer a definition, most often they simply start quoting their respective holy book or give their own spin of what god is without actually defining it.

    Your position lies in the latter. You refer to absolute truth, reality and such without actually explaining anything about what you define god as being. Vague definitions such as the universe, reality and such don’t explain anything and don’t further the discussion. Reality exists and doesn’t require the name god to make it valid. So any working definition would have to be functionally independent of what already exists.

    Additionally, giving unprovable properties to your god in question also does nothing to further the discussion as it only exacerbates the issue. One can make such claims of virtually anything and would still have explained nothing.

    Worse, attempting to define god with such properties commonly used such as being all everything (all good, all powerful, etc) both worsens the case by essentially making the same universe/ reality claim and assigning an impossible entity a series of contradictory ideas.

    So, absolute truths and reality don’t wash when you can’t explain or express it without simply claiming it’s beyond our understanding or only accessible through a specific practice (such as spirituality). If something exists in the universe, or is a part of its entirety, it is subject to scrutiny by anyone with the tools to examine reality. It would therefore not beyond reach, nor would it require any such special connection to ascertain.



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  • 113
    Ignorant Amos says:

    Roll up, roll up, roll up….get yer blancmange brick walls for sale right here…exclusively for the use of rationalists and critical thinkers to smash their heads against. Hard hats will be thrown in F.O.C. for those that require that wee bit extra of security, brains are delicate things and should be protected after all. Well some brains are in anycase.



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  • 114
    WMcEnaney says:

    Joehev, please explain what your first sentence means. You can deduce some if-then proposition or other from any other proposition. But I’ve read many deductive arguments where there were no if-then sentences. In reply to #107 by joehev:

    There certainly is an ‘if’. It exists in any exercise of deductive reasoning. But I’m sure you knew that, didn’t you? As for invention, mortals can’t invent God. Mortals can only try to express what their limited imagination may picture as God.

    As for speaking for a myriad of cultures, I haven’t do…



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  • 115
    achromat666 says:

    You say nothing in my exercise is logical? Thenl i would suggest to you that you renew your acquaintance with Logic 101. But I’m beginning to think you just enjoy argument for the sake of argument, which is sad really since I’m sure you’d do better with a more open-minded approach. Anyway, I think you and I would find it difficult to find common ground on such matters as these. Best wishes, and no hard feelings.

    I’m quite familiar with logic and you haven’t employed it to draw your conclusions. But more importantly I said that what you were proposing was faulty from the very start when I elaborated.

    And this isn’t about arguing for the sake of arguing. I’m far from the only person that has responded to you and I’m responding most often because when I demonstrate your position as being either faulty or vague you either don’t elaborate or you just find a new way to say the same thing. You wander from vague idea to vague idea and I’ve tried numerous times to try to steer the debate to central points regarding both the impossibility of your claims and the simple request that you just admit they’re based entirely in faith.

    Even when you acquiesce that these are just opinions you continue to push them as if they should possess equal footing with any other truth seeking method. And you do so while never admitting that your ideas are inherently flawed as you cannot prove any of it. I’m plenty open minded, but that doesn’t mean I should simply accept what you say.

    No hard feelings, this isn’t personal. You’ll find that once people here find something that is vague or demonstrably false they will focus on it pretty intently. That’s with other atheists as well. My interest is in what is true, and your position is not true. Simple as that.



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  • 116
    Ignorant Amos says:

    In reply to #114 by achromat666:

    But let’s try to break all of this down….

    Very often when theists pop in to give their take on the whole god thing most often the core issue is defining what god is to begin with, as that obviously varies from person to person as to what that even means. And most don’t bother to offer a definitio…

    Patience of a saint ya have….marshmallow flumpiness all the way down with this one methinks matey.



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  • 117
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #118 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #114 by achromat666:

    But let’s try to break all of this down….

    Very often when theists pop in to give their take on the whole god thing most often the core issue is defining what god is to begin with, as that obviously varies from person to person as to what that even means. And most…

    Ironic that he thinks I’m just being adversarial, when I’m just trying to parse through the nonsense.



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  • 118
    achromat666 says:

    Additionally since you seem so keen on this exercise…

    If there is one God, and only one, then it doesn’t matter how he may be named or portrayed. Naming and portrayal in that case are merely human stabs at dealing withe concept of God in human terms. The fact that you don’t believe in God is irrelevant to the exercise. And the fact that I can’t prove to your satisfaction that God exists, does not negate the possibility of God’s existence.

    Naming is irrelevant but not for the reasons you’re posing. And my lack of belief has nothing to do with this. This is about what can be demonstrably proven, and has been from the beginning. That has been my position from the moment you popped up on this thread. So saying that my lack of belief doesn’t negate the possibility of the existence of god doesn’t address the issue of whether he exists. It simply provides another hole to drop this very common god of the gaps trope.

    Next…?



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  • 119
    joehev says:

    Yes, you are right. I should have clarified to say the ‘if’ is included in any logical if-then statement. There are certainly other exercises in deductive logic that may not include if-then statements.

    In reply to #116 by WMcEnaney:

    Joehev, please explain what your first sentence means. You can deduce some if-then proposition or other from any other proposition. But I’ve read many deductive arguments where there were no if-then sentences. In reply to #107 by joehev:

    There certainly is an ‘if’. It exists in any exercise of ded…



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  • 120
    joehev says:

    This is about what can be demonstrably proven, and has been from the beginning.

    In your mind, not in mine. I have said from the beginning that the existence of God can’t be scientifically proven. I have also said that this doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist. That again is just plain logic.

    In reply to #120 by achromat666:

    Additionally since you seem so keen on this exercise…

    If there is one God, and only one, then it doesn’t matter how he may be named or portrayed. Naming and portrayal in that case are merely human stabs at dealing withe concept of God in human terms. The fact that you don’t believe in God is irre…



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  • 121
    Sean_W says:

    BanJoIvie,

    Sort of. I would contend that any actual knowledge gained by “pre-scientific” people was actually derived scientifically even before the scientific method was formalized and refined. I’m not sure I’d agree that science was “invented.” Science (speaking broadly) in it’s rudimentary form is probably older than the human race. I would even argue that some animals gain knowledge using processes that are essentially scientific.

    This is an interesting thought. Are you thinking mostly about tool use? I wonder if there is a good specific example that would illustrate your idea better than just an allusion to our early development?



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  • 122
    joehev says:

    I’m quite familiar with logic and you haven’t employed it to draw your conclusions.

    If you are quite familiar with logic, then an if-then statement should be quite familiar to you. It seems that isn’t so.

    But more importantly I said that what you were proposing was faulty from the very start when I elaborated.

    Unfortunately, achro, your saying it doesn’t make it so.

    And this isn’t about arguing for the sake of arguing. I’m far from the only person that has responded to you and I’m responding most often because when I demonstrate your position as being either faulty or vague you either don’t elaborate or you just find a new way to say the same thing. You wander from vague idea to vague idea and I’ve tried numerous times to try to steer the debate to central points regarding both the impossibility of your claims and the simple request that you just admit they’re based entirely in faith.

    You may steer to your heart’s content, but again, your saying my claims are impossible doesn’t make them so. I have said my views on God are based on personal experience and reason. Faith is certainly involved in the end. So, again you are mistaken. My views are not based ‘entirely on faith.’

    This is the kind of stick-in-the-mud attitude I see on your part which makes me conclude that we won’t find common ground. Maybe that’s the one thing we can agree on.

    Even when you acquiesce that these are just opinions you continue to push them as if they should possess equal footing with any other truth seeking method.

    No, I’m not ‘pushing’ anything. You can take it or leave it. Equal footing? I don’t know about that. There is no equal footing since we are discussing two very different concepts in the same breath, scientific method on physical reality and subjective reasoning on the existence of God. Neither method works well in the opposite camp.

    And you do so while never admitting that your ideas are inherently flawed as you cannot prove any of it. I’m plenty open minded, but that doesn’t mean I should simply accept what you say.

    See, this is where your sense of mission gets in the way of your objectivity. You assume that my ideas are flawed because they can’t be put to a litmus test, and you suggest I should admit they are flawed. But I’m afraid I don’t see it that way. An idea is not necessarily flawed just because it can’t be scientifically proven. It may actually be spot on. But neither of us may ever know in our lifetime.

    In reply to #117 by achromat666:

    You say nothing in my exercise is logical? Thenl i would suggest to you that you renew your acquaintance with Logic 101. But I’m beginning to think you just enjoy argument for the sake of argument, which is sad really since I’m sure you’d do better with a more open-minded approach. Anyway, I think y…



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  • 123
    joehev says:

    I’m not sure, Iggy. Are you the troll?

    In reply to #113 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #112 by joehev:

    You say nothing in my exercise is logical? Thenl i would suggest to you that you renew your acquaintance with Logic 101. But I’m beginning to think you just enjoy argument for the sake of argument, which is sad really since I’m sure you’d do better with a more open-minde…



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  • 124
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #110 by WMcEnaney:

    . . . But I think science is more than its methods. Like Socrates, I would want to know the essential nature of science because we can use our senses, reason inductively and so forth in other fields, too.

    I can’t claim to be an expert, but from what I have read, I’m not really a fan of Socrates’ take on “essential nature” (The whole concept involves dualistic assertions I find unwarranted.) I’m also not sure I agree that science is more than it’s methods. I’d probably need to think about that for a while. But I think we are broadly on the same page. I employ a pretty broadly inclusive definition of science in making a case for “pre-scientific science” but such expansiveness can obviously be taken too far.

    Maybe in another thread, we’ll talk about why I’m Catholic. For now, let’s stay on topic. Since you brought that up why I am one, though, I’ll tell you that I’m one partly because I believe that St. Thomas Aquinas’s first-cause argument is sound. During this discussion, long posts about the metaphysics behind that argument would be MAJOR digressions. So I won’t hijack the current conversation.

    I fully agree that this is not the time for an extended conversation about the first-cause argument. Suffice it to say that (surprise!) I do not find it convincing.

    I also have to say that I’m a little disappointed that you claim a rational basis (well, partial basis) for your belief in God. I consider pretty much every logical case for theism to have been pretty soundly refuted. (Well, every case that I am aware of – including arguments from first-cause.) Speaking generally, they all require one to accept their conclusion before the arguments become convincing.

    I admit, I was secretly hoping that you’d extend your streak of “theist statements that earn my respect” by saying that your belief is purely irrational, and a matter of faith alone.



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  • 125
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #110 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe in another thread, we’ll talk about why I’m Catholic. For now, let’s stay on topic. Since you brought that up why I am one, though, I’ll tell you that I’m one partly because I believe that St. Thomas Aquinas’s first-cause argument is sound.

    As you have chucked in this assertion, I take it like T.A, you ignore the fallacy of infinite regression:-
    (Who was the creator, of the creator , of the creator, of the creator …. ad infinitum.)



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  • 126
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #104 by WMcEnaney:

    I know that I used a double negative. Aristotle used them, too, when he obverted universal affirmative sentences into universal negative ones. “No man is non-mortal” is the obverse of “All men are mortal.” Any introductory logic textbook probably would tell you about that in a chapter about Aristotelian sentential logic.

    I don’t need one for that! Double negatives = positives: – basic maths!

    I am also aware of theists bandying around the word “logic” as a labelling badge of (false) “authority” stuck on to unsupported assertions or logical fallicies!
    .. . .. .Often ancient logical fallicies from historical characters.



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  • 127
    achromat666 says:

    Joehev,

    That we won’t find common ground is obvious, and this is probably as close to confronting every concern as we’re likely to get without things simply getting out of hand

    It is possible to use logical tools to draw illogical conclusions, people do it all the time. Does the lack of evidence for god mean there is the remotest possibility he could be skulking about in some part of reality? I say that the science doesn’t leave much room for such a postulate but it is not completely ruled out. But the idea of the deity as has been described (which has been part of my contention, the issue of even describing what god is and what attributes he would or could have) are entirely illogical from every standpoint that has been presented.

    And I’ve said numerous times to feel free to believe it, there is absolutely nothing to support it beyond a strong inclination based on one’s religious affiliation. If science were to come across any evidence to support a creative or intervening force it is just as likely that it would be entirely different than anything that man believes in, perhaps to the point that using such terms as god and such would be likely meaningless.

    But as I’ve said the ideas specific to what you’ve submitted as Supreme truth, reality etc are things that you have appropriated from other ideas or just made up wholecloth. Employing them in a rational discussion on objective truths seem more than a little pointless. Most often they remind me of Dennett’s definition of deepities.

    Clearly we don’t agree, but you have at least been willing to engage.



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  • 128
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #124 by joehev:

    scientific method on physical reality and subjective reasoning

    There is no such thing as “subjective reasoning”. There is only “logical reasoning” and “flawed reasoning”

    Reasoning either starts from evidence, or it starts from imaginined axioms.

    The former connects to the real universe, the latter if free from logical flaws, will only be self consistent, but detached from reality and can be entirely imaginary.

    My views are not based ‘entirely on faith.’

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faith – Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

    Something in addition to “faith” would be evidence! – Got EVIDENCE?????? – Not a scrap of it in your posts so far!



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  • 129
    joehev says:

    Actually, there is such a thing as subjective reasoning or subjective logic, as:http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/co300man/pop7g.cfm

    As I have said before, my evidence rests on personal experience and logic. There is no physical evidence except as one makes of the universe itself.

    In reply to #130 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #124 by joehev:

    scientific method on physical reality and subjective reasoning

    There is no such thing as “subjective reasoning”. There is only “logical reasoning” and “flawed reasoning”

    Reasoning either starts from evidence, or it starts from imaginined axioms.

    The former connects…



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  • 130
    joehev says:

    Ahhhh..the conclusion of more marshmallow flumpiness again sir….are you here for rational debate or a troll exercise?

    I don’t know, Iggy. Are you the troll? 🙂

    In reply to #113 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #112 by joehev:

    You say nothing in my exercise is logical? Thenl i would suggest to you that you renew your acquaintance with Logic 101. But I’m beginning to think you just enjoy argument for the sake of argument, which is sad really since I’m sure you’d do better with a more open-minde…



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  • 131
    WMcEnaney says:

    Alan, please think a little harder about what you’ve just said, because you may have misinterpreted the first-cause argument. I’ll be happy to defend it if you ignore this video. But if you watch it, it’ll tell you why the infinite regress objection fails.

    http://vimeo.com/60979789
    In reply to #127 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #110 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe in another thread, we’ll talk about why I’m Catholic. For now, let’s stay on topic. Since you brought that up why I am one, though, I’ll tell you that I’m one partly because I believe that St. Thomas Aquinas’s first-cause argument is sound.

    As you have chucked…



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  • 132
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #131 by joehev:

    Actually, there is such a thing as subjective reasoning or subjective logic, as:http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/co300man/pop7g.cfm

    You may find some woolly confused definitions in student philosophy notes or student exercises, but let me assure you there is no such thing as “subjective logic” regardless of what you or others may make up!

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/reasoning

    rea•son•ing –

    1. the act or process of a person who reasons.
    2. the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.
    3. the reasons, arguments, proofs, etc., resulting from this process.

    Reasoning is a PROCESS, starting with facts or premises which follows rational, logical, steps to a conclusion.
    Subjective opinion, may be used in a premise, but is not part of the deductive process.

    As I have said before, my evidence rests on personal experience and logic.

    You have failed to demonstrate a grasp of logic – having merely produced assertions and a confused redefintion of the word.

    There is no physical evidence except as one makes of the universe itself.

    That is presented as your unspecified personal opinon of your undisclosed perceptions – not evidence: – not even weak evidence!

    The evidence of the universe is provided by testable research from astronomers and cosmologists. You have shown no understanding of any of it!

    We have already been over your strange redefinition of words to conform with your views before. –
    ( Such as the redefinition of ALL GODS to be synonymous with your god, or “lies are truth” or – “My opinions are facts”…to me – this only serves as a demonstration of semantic obfuscation arising from the false confidence of deluded ignorance) Dunning–Kruger effect



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  • 133
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #133 by WMcEnaney:

    Alan, please think a little harder about what you’ve just said, because you may have misinterpreted the first-cause argument. I’ll be happy to defend it if you ignore this video. But if you watch it, it’ll tell you why the infinite regress objection fails.

    Can you summarize the argument?

    I’d love to hear it.



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  • 134
    WMcEnaney says:

    Banjolvie,

    There’s nothing Platonically dualistic about Aristotle’s essentialism. He believes that, although each material object is composed of matter and form, i.e., matter and a pattern it conforms to, there are no Platonic perfect patterns for anyone or anything imitate. Aristotle probably would tell you that roundness, say, consists of the set of all round things, including every round thing that has existed, that ever will exist or that merely could exist. Each person includes a pattern that causes him to be a person. But for Aristotle, my death will destroy my pattern and me. Mathematical Platonists believe that mathematical sets are abstract objects. But I haven’t met any mathematician who believes that set-ness exists in Plato’s world of forms. Even W.V.O. Quine, the most reductionist empiricist philosopher I can think of, thought there were mathematical sets. If he’s right, whether God exists or not, physicalism is still false.

    Besides, I think Socrates would have agreed with you when you defined an even number as any number that 2 divides evenly.

    If I thought Catholicism was irrational,I wouldn’t be a Catholic.
    In reply to #126 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #110 by WMcEnaney:

    . . . But I think science is more than its methods. Like Socrates, I would want to know the essential nature of science because we can use our senses, reason inductively and so forth in other fields, too.

    I can’t claim to be an expert, but from what I have read, I’m…



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  • In reply to #136 by WMcEnaney:

    Even W.V.O. Quine, the most reductionist empiricist philosopher I can think of, thought there were mathematical sets.

    Would you please explain what you meant by the words, “there were” in the above? Also if you could produce a reference link to this idea in the work of W.V.O. Quine, I would appreciate that.

    Thanks.



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  • 136
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #136 by WMcEnaney:

    If I thought Catholicism was irrational, I wouldn’t be a Catholic.

    Well you can’t get much more irrational than this!

    The “infallible” – Pope Pius IX

    Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.” (Vatican Council I)

    Although this comes a close second!

    Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.” (Vatican Council I)

    In brief:- “If reason or science contradict dogma the reason and science are wrong”!



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  • 137
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #136 by WMcEnaney:

    There’s nothing Platonically dualistic about Aristotle’s essentialism. He believes that, although each material object is composed of matter and form, […]

    I can’t speak for Plato on the matter. (Honestly, I’m much more interested in ideas themselves than I am in who advanced them.) In any case, the idea that any object is “composed of” both matter and form is the dualism to which I object, quite apart from the question of whether hypothetical “forms” may be perfect.

    That objects are composed of matter, I will concede. But I see no evidence that anything is “composed of” any pattern (perfect or otherwise) to which it conforms, nor that any “pattern” is destroyed along with you when you die. Matter exists, matter changes states. We may confirm this through observation. The “form” of an object (or a mathematical set for that matter) is parsimoniously explained as a purely mental construct requiring an observer. I think the suggestion that form “exists” as a part of an object is an unsupportable multiplication of entities (ala Occam’s razor.)

    In other words, the map is not the territory.

    If I thought Catholicism was irrational,I wouldn’t be a Catholic.

    I assumed that to be the case without your saying so. Surely this is another point upon which we could disagree at length.

    When I injected the word irrational, I was alluding to rationality as the polar opposite of faith. For my money, one can arrive at a conclusion using either faith or reason, but not both. They are oil and water. If you start from a premise derived from faith, reason fails before it begins. That, in brief, would probably stand as a summary for my refutation of most of the standard apologetic arguments.



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  • 138
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #135 by DHudson:

    In reply to #133 by WMcEnaney:

    Alan, please think a little harder about what you’ve just said, because you may have misinterpreted the first-cause argument. I’ll be happy to defend it if you ignore this video. But if you watch it, it’ll tell you why the infinite regress objection fails.

    Can you summarize the argument? – I’d love to hear it.

    RCC apologists regularly trot out Aquina’s arguments and fallacies as “proof”. Their biases often convince them that the arguments have substance.

    http://patas.co/articles/opinion/refuting-the-five-ways-of-aquinas/

    II. Second Way: Causation of Existence

    Saint Thomas Aquinas was partially right into thinking that anything that exists is caused by another. In this argument, he again used the assumption that there could be no infinite regression of causes. However, if this assumption was correct, then what caused God to exist? If nothing can cause itself to exist, how was God able to cause himself? If God has been in existence from eternity, what is the problem with a universe that has been in existence from infinity? This latter assumption is equally logical but much simpler and more probable.

    Of course the honest answer is, that like scientists, theists don’t know, but scientists at least have some indicative evidence from the Big-bang. Theists have “magic”!
    ( I have of course thought about and discussed this topic on previous occasions)



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  • 139
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #140 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #135 by DHudson:

    In reply to #133 by WMcEnaney:

    Alan, please think a little harder about what you’ve just said, because you may have misinterpreted the first-cause argument. I’ll be happy to defend it if you ignore this video. But if you watch it, it’ll tell you why the infinite regr…

    Thanks for that, Alan. Those arguments are solid reminders of why I have grown tired of the field of philosophy.

    Semantics galore and few fact checks along the way.



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  • 140
    WMcEnaney says:

    Bonjolvie, I know that you doubt that that there are forms, or patterns in the Platonic and Aristotelian senses of the word “form.” But I’m sure you’ll agree that all human beings have something in common that causes them to be human. All triangles have something in common that causes them to be triangles. Any object has something in common with every other object of its kind, something that distinguishes it from each object that’s not a member of that kind. Human beings have humanness, triangles have triangularity, horses have what you might call “horseness.” Humanness is unique to humans, horseness is unique to horses, roundness is unique to round things . . . All matter has something that causes it to be matter. These common properties are essences. In fact, you may want to read about scientific essentialism because even some scientists are essentialists.

    Please remember the difference between scientific jargon and what it signifies. Biologists may have coined, say, the word “mammals” to signify the organisms that belong to the set of all mammals. But even before anyone classified mammals, already had the mammal-making properties. If objects have essences, they already have them before scientists classify those objects. Properties tell us what their owners are. Our names for their classes don’t add them to those classes. You can coin the word “mammal,” but mere coining doesn’t cause any mammal to exist.

    While we’re talking about words, their meanings and what words stand for, please define the word “faith.” About two nights ago, when I watched a Youtube video where Prof. Dawkins debated Dr. John Lenox, Dawkins defined faith a believing without evidence. So Lenox asked Dawkins whether he, Dawkins, had faith in his wife. After Dawkins agreed that he did, he gave his reasons for it, his evidence that justified his faith. As you might expect, that brief exchange made some audience members laugh. It didn’t strike me funny, though. It told me that Dawkins should have thought more carefully before he spoke.In reply to #139 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #136 by WMcEnaney:

    There’s nothing Platonically dualistic about Aristotle’s essentialism. He believes that, although each material object is composed of matter and form, […]

    I can’t speak for Plato on the matter. (Honestly, I’m much more interested in ideas themselves than I am in w…



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  • In reply to #142 by WMcEnaney:

    Bonjolvie, I know that you doubt that that there are forms, or patterns in the Platonic and Aristotelian senses of the word “form.”

    Would you please explain what you mean by the words, “there are” in the above? Thanks.



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  • 143
    WMcEnaney says:

    Just for fun, suppose that Catholicism is true, that the pope sometimes does teach infallibly and that God is all-good, all-poweful, all-knowing and so forth. Then anytime the pope teaches that way, God will prevent him from teaching a falsehood. Since infallibility doesn’t protect science, on our supposition, epistemic grounds for some papal teachings are stronger than the ones for any scientific theory.In reply to #138 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #136 by WMcEnaney:

    If I thought Catholicism was irrational, I wouldn’t be a Catholic.

    Well you can’t get much more irrational than this!

    The “infallible” – Pope Pius IX

    Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the on…



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  • In reply to #145 by WMcEnaney:

    … suppose that Catholicism is true, that the pope sometimes does teach infallibly and that God is all-good, all-poweful, all-knowing and so forth.

    That premise takes you straight into the thicket of contradictions that Theodicy fails to unravel. Remember that a false (as in contradictory) premise implies any conclusion, so if you are going to get started, you are first going to have to show evidence for the truth of your premise.

    Got evidence?



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  • 145
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #145 by WMcEnaney:

    If I thought Catholicism was irrational, I wouldn’t be a Catholic.

    Agreed, Alan

    So were you planning to leave Catholicism?

    Just for fun, .. . .suppose …

    Since infallibility doesn’t protect science, on our supposition, epistemic grounds for some papal teachings are stronger than the ones for any scientific theory

    The FUNny thing is , once evidence became involved, neither they nor “god” seemed to be very good at reality, while the RCC was spending years catching up with Galilao and Copernicus, and then with Darwin!
    I suppose in theology you can always suppose!

    I thought the Vatican I examples were pretty clear! – But as you may see from the links on comment 144 below, I often study subjects where precision counts and the thinking is years ahead of the field, rather than centuries behind it.



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  • 146
    Sedanar says:

    While we’re talking about words, their meanings and what words stand for, please define the word “faith.” About two nights ago, when I watched a Youtube video where Prof. Dawkins debated Dr. John Lenox, Dawkins defined faith a believing without evidence. So Lenox asked Dawkins whether he, Dawkins, had faith in his wife. After Dawkins agreed that he did, he gave his reasons for it, his evidence that justified his faith. As you might expect, that brief exchange made some audience members laugh. It didn’t strike me funny, though. It told me that Dawkins should have thought more carefully before he spoke.

    Yes, faith is the belief without evidence. What Lennox did here was just playing a little semantics game about different meanings of a same word. It happens that faith also means trust (and those definitions of faith are in the dictionary) just like high can mean being on top of something of altitude or being in a drug-induced state. Obviously we’re talking about the belief without evidence. I think Lennox perfectly knows that and was being quite dishonest there. Dawkins should’ve just called him on his bullshit instead of playing his game.



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  • 147
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #142 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m sure you’ll agree that all human beings have something in common that causes them to be human. […]

    Human beings share a long list of common attributes. Whether any of these is truly universal to every human, or completely exclusive to only humans – well, that may be squishier. Consider for example that if you could travel back through the generations, there would never be a non-human parent that gave birth to a human child. There would come a point at which we would be hard pressed to say for certain whether a certain ancestor was Homo Sapiens or a member of an earlier speicies. Humanness is a continuum. The gradual transitions between species do not create clean borders separating “objects of the same kind.” In practice, most object classification results in such grey areas.

    I absolutely do not agree that there is an essence which causes me to be human. More on that later.

    Do I agree with your assertion that humans have “something” in common and that the something could be called “humanness?” No, I don’t think I do. Not if you are implying that this “humanness” is a thing in and of itself. I see no evidence that this is the case. Humanness is merely a description applied by observing minds. Same goes for pretty much every “ness” in your list.

    All matter has something that causes it to be matter.

    Sneaky, sneaky! Again with the active verb “causes”. So far as any observation has ever shown…ever, matter is perfectly capable of being matter all on its own. We have no observational basis for claiming that any matter anywhere has ever been “caused” to be matter, whether by its own “essence” or by … anything else. Naughty.

    We observe the universe. We see “stuff.” We note its properties. In investigating those properties, we note that some objects share common properties while others differ. We group like with like and give the categories names. In this case we call everything with certain material properties “matter.” It just so happens that we have never observed anything that does not fall within that particular category. (For a long time, we thought we had, but Einstein cleared that up.)

    These common properties are essences.

    Sorry, I can’t go there with you. That pesky William of Ockham you know. If you mean simply to define “essences” as lists of common properties, then, well I’ve already said that such lists exist (in the minds of observers), so I concede that point as trivially true. If you mean to imply that “essenses” exist apart from observing minds and are somehow a component of described objects, then I reject your claim until observational or necessarily implied evidence supports it.

    even some scientists are essentialists.

    Sure. Some are Catholics too, but that doesn’t lend credence to that set of ideas. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) This observation lends nothing to the discussion. It’s ad hominem and/or appeal to authority.

    Please remember the difference between scientific jargon and what it signifies.

    Thanks. I won’t forget it. I haven’t yet. In fact, I think I just posted something like “the map is not the territory.”

    even before anyone classified mammals, already had the mammal-making properties.

    No. Mammals obviously had their properties prior to (and independent of) the term “mammal.” A mammal, like any other object, has the same properties regardless of whether those properties are observed, noted or named (leaving aside quantum effects for the time being.) But those properties are NOT “mammal-making” properties. What “makes” a mammal a mammal is someone defining the word “mammal” as an object with certain properties, observing those properties in a given object, and applying the name. Again you are imbuing this idea of essence with a kind of power. Now it is the power to “make,” earlier the power to “create.” Not supported.

    If objects have essences, they already have them before scientists classify those objects.

    Man I love when I get to say this!

    If a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump it’s ass a’ hoppin!

    If/then reasoning is lovely, but fruitless when it begins with pure speculation. At such time as there is any evidence that objects do have essences, this statement may become relevant.

    Properties tell us what their owners are.

    I know it’s pedantic, but in this case important. Properties don’t “tell” us anything. The universe exists. We observe it We observe some portions of it and call them “properties” of larger portions. Only one side of this observer/observed transaction has the demonstrated ability to “tell.”

    And your “what their owners are” here is really just a way of inserting your desired conclusion (the existence of “essence”) as an assumed premise.

    What is my “essence?” Do I have more than one? Is it “BanJoIvieness,” humanness, primate…hood(?), mammalness, animality, etc, etc? How many “essences” does a single object have? Is there even such thing as a single object? Do I have the same essence I did when I was born, even though every cell in my body has been replaced many times? How much of me can be pared away without the loss of my essence? If I have massive brain trauma or Alzheimers and undergo total personality change, does my essence change? If I clip my toenails, does some of my essence go with the clippings or does it all stay with me? Do I create a new essence of “toenail clipping-ness” in them?

    Our names for their classes don’t add them to those classes.

    Yes they do. The classes are “created” by us, and exist as neural patterns in our brains. Every object “has” properties. Many of them. But the grouping of these properties into common classes is a mental process. Those classes have no existence outside our minds.

    You can coin the word “mammal,” but mere coining doesn’t cause any mammal to exist.

    Of course not, the idea of bringing something into existence with words is ludicrous. (Sorry again.)

    Who said anything about causing things to exist? We don’t even know if existence can be caused. A mind can “create” a concept like “mammal” without bringing anything new into existence. The concept “mammal” is a description, not a physical (or metaphysical, or spiritual, or whatever) object. It is a model we build inside our brains (by configuring our neural network in a specific way, not by bringing anything into existence with our brain) to represent something in the outside world.

    please define the word “faith.”

    Well, it’s one of those slippery words with many different meanings that are context dependent.

    About two nights ago, when I watched a Youtube video where Prof. Dawkins debated Dr. John Lenox, Dawkins defined faith a believing without evidence.

    That, in brief, is the definition I intended in my #139. I assume that was the impetus for your question.

    So Lenox asked Dawkins whether he, Dawkins, had faith in his wife. After Dawkins agreed that he did, he gave his reasons for it, his evidence that justified his faith. As you might expect, that brief exchange made some audience members laugh. It didn’t strike me funny, though. It told me that Dawkins should have thought more carefully before he spoke

    I agree that Richard’s line of reasoning as you describe it here is weak. In my view, he fell victim to a misguided (or even dishonest) line of questioning. His error was to answer “yes” to Lenox’s question about his wife. That question relies on substituting one definition of “faith” for another. If Dawkins had already defined faith, it would have been better to say something like, “No, I don’t have the sort of ‘faith’ in my wife that we have been discussing. For one thing, I have observational evidence that she does in fact exist! I would say rather that I have trust or confidence in my wife. Furthermore, that trust has been earned; gained through experience. I will continue to hold it so long as it is warranted. Long may that be.”



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  • 148
    joehev says:

    In reply to #134 by Alan4discussion

    You may find some woolly confused definitions in student philosophy notes or student exercises, but let me assure you there is no such thing as “subjective logic” regardless of what you or others may make up!

    I have found several definitions and/or writings describing subjective logic or reasoning. I’m sure you could find them too if you tried but, I forget, you are assuring me such a thing doesn’t exist. Of course, you must understand that your assuring me doesn’t negate the fact it does exist and that I and others have made use of it.

    rea•son•ing –

    the act or process of a person who reasons.
    the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.
    the reasons, arguments, proofs, etc., resulting from this process.

    I am satisfied with the ‘or’ parts thusly:

    The process of a person who reasons. The process of forming inferences from premises. The arguments resulting from this process.

    As I have said before, my evidence rests on personal experience and logic.
    You have failed to demonstrate a grasp of logic – having merely produced assertions and a confused redefintion of the word.

    Funny, I’m not confused. Maybe you just don’t understand what I’m saying.

    There is no physical evidence except as one makes of the universe itself.

    That is presented as your unspecified personal opinon of your undisclosed perceptions – not evidence: – not even weak evidence!

    There you go again. You keep asking for evidence, and I keep saying there is none except for one’s reflection on the nature of the universe.

    The evidence of the universe is provided by testable research from astronomers and cosmologists. You have shown no understanding of any of it!

    I don’t need astronomers and cosmologists to tell me the universe exists. But since their understanding of the universe is understandably limited, I have chosen to fill in the blanks with God. You have chosen to wait. That’s OK by me. But since your constant attempts to deride me and my position can shed no further light on the universe than what astronomers and cosmologists can provide you, I have to assume you are incapable of understanding how anyone else can. There’s no shame in that.

    We have already been over your strange redefinition of words to conform with your views before. –
    ( Such as the redefinition of ALL GODS to be synonymous with your god, or “lies are truth” or – “My opinions are facts”…to me – this only serves as a demonstration of semantic obfuscation arising from the false confidence of deluded ignorance) Dunning–Kruger effect

    Well, you’ve been over them, including your misunderstanding of what I’ve said. I have no idea who Dunning-Kruger may be, or may have been, or what effect they gave birth to, so I’ll just leave you with it. Good evening.

    In reply to #134 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #131 by joehev:

    Actually, there is such a thing as subjective reasoning or subjective logic, as:http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/co300man/pop7g.cfm

    You may find some woolly confused definitions in student philosophy notes or student exercises, but let me assure you there is…



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  • 149
    WMcEnaney says:

    I agree: Faith can be a kind of trust. Now that you mention it, I think Lennox would have been prudent not to ask Dawkins whether he had had faith in his wife. But there’s another important point: Both debaters used the word “faith” in non-theological senses.

    Besides, Dawkins’s definition of faith conflicts with some things that the Bible says about faith. For example, in one of his two epistles, St. Peter urges his readers to give reasons for the hope that’s in them. A Gospel writer, St. John, I believe, tells that he wrote to help his readers believe that Christ is God’s Son.

    Many people here seem to assume that evidence God for God’s existence needs to be purely empirical. Were that assumption true, it would rule out, say, philosophical arguments for theism. In reply to #148 by Sedanar:

    While we’re talking about words, their meanings and what words stand for, please define the word “faith.” About two nights ago, when I watched a Youtube video where Prof. Dawkins debated Dr. John Lenox, Dawkins defined faith a believing without evidence. So Lenox asked Dawkins whether he, Dawkins, h…



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  • 150
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #150 by joehev:

    In reply to #134 by Alan4discussion

    You may find some woolly confused definitions in student philosophy notes or student exercises, but let me assure you there is no such thing as “subjective logic” regardless of what you or others may make up!

    I have found several definitions and/or writings describing subjective logic or reasoning. I’m sure you could find them too if you tried but, I forget, you are assuring me such a thing doesn’t exist. Of course, you must understand that your assuring me doesn’t negate the fact it does exist and that I and others have made use of it.

    I am sure you can find strange definitions of anything in the writings of some theologians who are given to semantic shuffling!

    I see you have simply ignored the requirements for a logical reasoning process in the dictionary definitions I gave you in http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/8/18/does-science-equal-truth#comment-box-134.

    The point about “subjective logic/reasoning” is that it has consitently failed to produce reliable conclusions.

    I have read numerous documents which have identified instances of “faith-reasoning” being used instead of scientific or technical investigations.
    – THE ARE CALLED ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORTS – and spell out the results of “faith-thinking” in place of reasoning.
    A similar situation applies where “faith-healers” are substituted for medical treatment.

    There is no physical evidence except as one makes of the universe itself.

    That is presented as your unspecified personal opinon of your undisclosed perceptions – not evidence: – not even weak evidence!

    There you go again. You keep asking for evidence, and I keep saying there is none except for one’s reflection on the nature of the universe.

    Navel gazing does not produce any understanding of the universe or nature – only a substutution delusion of the believer’s made up imaginary simplistic answers.

    I don’t need astronomers and cosmologists to tell me the universe exists. But since their understanding of the universe is understandably limited, I have chosen to fill in the blanks with God.

    This is known as the “god-of-gaps” where your ego fails to accept that your understandinding is much more limited than theirs, so assumes “superior knowledge” from a basis of total ignorance!

    You have chosen to wait. That’s OK by me. But since your constant attempts to deride me and my position can shed no further light on the universe than what astronomers and cosmologists can provide you,

    I’m a scientist! I deride anyone who makes up nonsense about subjects where they have no understanding, and should honestly state that they do not know the answer. “Further light on the universe” is being added by scientific research, not by belief in magic creations or extremely unlikely paradoxical scenarios.

    I have to assume you are incapable of understanding how anyone else can.

    Assumption is the mother of error!

    You have indulged in pyschological projection again.

    I am fully aware that you have no possible way of knowing what happened during the early evolution of the universe, – and probably (self-assured by god-did-it-by-magic), have very little knowledge of how it progressed after the early inflationary stage.

    There’s no shame in that.

    I would disagree. Assertive ignorance is the cause of many human problems, accidents, and disasters, and is an active obstruction inhibiting learning processes. This is illustrated in your asserted ignorance about the gods of other cultures.

    We have already been over your strange redefinition of words to conform with your views before. – ( Such as the redefinition of ALL GODS to be synonymous with your god, or “lies are truth” or – “My opinions are facts”…to me – this only serves as a demonstration of semantic obfuscation arising from the false confidence of deluded ignorance) Dunning–Kruger effect

    Well, you’ve been over them, including your misunderstanding of what I’ve said. I have no idea who Dunning-Kruger may be, or may have been, or what effect they gave birth to,

    That is why you mistakenly think the misunderstanding is mine!

    Like so much other information I have given you, you learned nothing from the link @134! There is an introductory simplified explanation of the Dunning-Kruger effect, for those who cannot understand the detailed explanation on the earlier link.

    “God-did-it-by-mysterious-magic” really does provide a confident basis for ignorance posing as knowledge, thus avoiding the need to learn anything!

    You are probably approaching a site record for using the greatest number of words to say nothing of any substance! (except that words and gods have to be vague ambiguous, and obscure, to disconnect them from physical reality, and avoid a rational discussion of them. – Plus asserting that “reasoning” has to mean throwing together any heap of words which you claim confirms your biases, – as a further disconnect.)



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  • 151
    achromat666 says:

    Wow, I leave to do a show and still nothing has changed.

    Joehev,

    I was willing to just just sum up my feelings on the matter and to get on with my day. I detest bashing my head against the wall and that’s what this discussion has boiled down to. Let’s take this from the last point you responded to anything I said:

    ** You assume that my ideas are flawed because they can’t be put to a litmus test,** and you suggest I should admit they are flawed. But I’m afraid I don’t see it that way. An idea is not necessarily flawed just because it can’t be scientifically proven. It may actually be spot on. But neither of us may ever know in our lifetime.

    The highlighted section is the entire issue with this premise. If your ideas can’t be put to a litmus test, they’re not just flawed, they’re functionally irrelevant in this case. Any person can come and bring assumptions they just make up and try to use ‘reasoning’ to justify without ever addressing the numerous issues brought to them.

    Of course you’re not going to see it that way, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Being objective isn’t about taking an illogical and erroneous position and simply accepting it. Being objective (using objective reasoning to draw conclusions about any idea or event) means examining what is true and false of a given proposition and eliminating what is unprovable and outright false. Let’s examine that for just a moment…

    You want to claim that because science has not completely eliminated the possibility of a creator that it is not only possible, but because of your unprovable assumptions that he exists in some fashion we can never perceive. You don’t do this because you have the science to back it up, you do it because you have a preconditioned idea based on religious faith. Your attempts to back up your claims consists solely of escapist reasoning and pushing the idea of your deity farther and farther out of reach so that he is effectively both unapproachable and unprovable.

    You claim to use logic and legitimate reasoning to do so, but every example you pose is rife with special pleading based entirely on your belief system. Not on the facts. not on logic, but on a unprovable erroneous conclusion you pose by switching around the definitions of truth and reality to suit your needs. The practical definition of truth is posed in this thread, the actual observations of reality are mentioned throughout it, but you choose to ignore it and continue to support your own ideas with the same ideas we just got through refuting.

    You assume that my ideas are flawed because they can’t be put to a litmus test

    Your words are a perfect way to illustrate why this conversation will never progress. You’re at a site that promotes reason and scientific understanding posing the absolute least scientifically reasoned ideas. For every example of why your positions have no practical application in logic you have only the mention that your idea of god is beyond science and therefore untouchable.

    For a person that claims to understand and embrace logic in his dialogue you have no understanding of Occam’s razor.

    It’s easy to take ideas and give them the illusion of logic, many philosophers and theologians have made it their stock and trade. But that doesn’t make them either logical or well reasoned.

    Logically you can’t reason a god into existence by saying science hasn’t eliminated all possibilities of his existence, therefore absolute truth, reality, etc= god. That isn’t logic, it’s a faith based and very flawed assumption based on what you want to be true.

    This also demonstrates further your misunderstanding of science. Science doesn’t make absolute claims it cannot substantiate, as no scientist would take such ideas seriously. Everything we know from science we know because of testable hypothesis and rigorous examination. The very litmus test you seem so eager to cast aside.

    Facts, not faith will help this conversation advance. You have no facts and rely only on faith and philosophical wandering. There is no way to advance this discussion with that kind of thinking.

    Or simply put, anything that can be presented with no evidence can be dismissed with no evidence.



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  • 152
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #150 by joehev:

    Just to tudy up some loose ends and to illustrate the false perceptions of “faith-thinking”.

    I don’t need astronomers and cosmologists to tell me the universe exists.

    Actually if you did not have the information from astronomers (Copernicus, Gallilao etc) you would still think the Earth was flat with lights stuck into a series of dome roofs! You would have no perception whatever of galaxies or the universe. Regardless of if you admit it or not, any understanding you have of these, is based on astronomical observations.

    But since their understanding of the universe is understandably limited, I have chosen to fill in the blanks with God.

    Using a total absence of knowledge of the subject, presumably if you are not using the astronomers’ information, this raises the question of how you would know where the limiting boundaries of their knowledge and understanding lie? Just making it up?

    You have chosen to wait. That’s OK by me.

    I seek the boundaries of human knowledge, and recognise that NOBODY knows what is beyond these, but that specialists working at the frontiers are making progress.

    But since your constant attempts to deride me and my position can shed no further light on the universe than what astronomers and cosmologists can provide you,

    How would you know “what astronomers and cosmologists can provide”, if “you don’t need their information?

    Your position cannot possibly “shed any light on the universe”, and your professed ignorance of needing the knowledge which is already available would preclude any usuful contribution.

    I have to assume you are incapable of understanding how anyone else can.

    It seems that you ASSUME all the supposed “knowledge” you claim of the subject! Nobody can honestly claim to know the unknown.

    There’s no shame in that.

    “This is unknown and unseen, but I know what is there”, is simply dishonest.

    I would be utterly ashamed of making up nonsense denying credit to the people who did the research to provide the astronomical information!

    I don’t need astronomers and cosmologists to tell me the universe exists.

    Without them you would not know the universe or the galaxies exist! It seems you have not learned much about these beyond that statement. That’s how “faith-thinking” inhibits learning!

    However other people read these threads and learn much!



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  • 153
    joehev says:

    achro, you should have just got on with your day. You continue to misread and/or misrepresent what I’ve been saying, so I’m just leaving it be. Best wishes, Joe.

    In reply to #153 by achromat666:

    Wow, I leave to do a show and still nothing has changed.

    Joehev,

    I was willing to just just sum up my feelings on the matter and to get on with my day. I detest bashing my head against the wall and that’s what this discussion has boiled down to. Let’s take this from the last point you responded to…



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  • 154
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #151 by WMcEnaney:

    […] there’s another important point: Both debaters used the word “faith” in a non-theological sense.

    Why is that an important point? I see nothing remarkable about it. As I noted earlier, “faith” is a word with many different (sometimes conflicting) meanings. The “theological sense” is the least clear and useful of the lot.
    Honestly, the “theological sense” of most words – when different from other meanings – should almost always be discarded. Theology never adds clarity to language, and quite often does the reverse. I know that sounds flip, but I mean it. Theology is a thoroughly spurious field. It arises completely from special pleading, and thrives on the equivocal use of words.

    Dawkins’s definition of faith conflicts with some things that the Bible says about faith.

    Hardly the first time Dawkins has disagreed with the bible. Much of what the bible says about faith is just deep sounding nonsense. “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”? Seriously? In biblical usage, “faith” is mystical and its definition is purposefully vague. (I’m often told it is to be “experienced” not understood.) You might just as well cite The Empire Strikes Back in a discussion of the word “force.”

    For example, in one of his two epistles, St. Peter urges his readers to give reasons for the hope that’s in them. A Gospel writer, St. John, I believe, tells that he wrote to help his readers believe that Christ is God’s Son.

    Actually, I don’t see how either of these examples contradicts the “belief without evidence” definition of the word faith. Giving reasons for a belief is not the same as providing evidence for it. (There are plenty of reasons why people believe unevidenced assertions.) Helping someone believe something need not entail showing them any evidence. The Gospel of John offers no evidence for its claims about Jesus’ paternity, it merely makes assertions. If the author(s) of that work (whoever they were) intended to help readers believe, they did not consider evidence to be important for that aim.

    The purpose of evidence is not to help belief. Belief is not the aim of evidenced reasoning. Evidence is just as likely to impede belief as to assist it, depending upon whether a particular belief happens to align with objective reality.

    Many people here seem to assume that evidence God for God’s existence needs to be purely empirical.

    Speaking for myself, I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say that evidence needs to be purely empirical, but empirical evidence would be a necessary component of any reliable case for the existence of any god(s).

    “God exists” is an objective claim (unless one only means to say that god exists in the imagination.) It requires an empirical basis.

    Were that assumption true, it would rule out, say, philosophical arguments for theism.

    I would not entirely rule out philosophical arguments, provided they entail a reasonable grounding in empirical data. In practical terms this does rule out most philosophical attempts to justify theism. Philosophical arguments without empirical grounding are conjecture, not evidence.

    We might use such “pure philosophy” to generate hypotheses, but accepting a hypothesis without testing is folly. No argument, no matter how sound, can take us from pure speculation to objective truth without observing the universe along the way. Well, I suppose that one might reach a true conclusion by sheer accident, but that would be vanishingly unlikely. And even then, one would have no way of actually knowing that the conclusion happens to be objectively true. No significant degree of confidence in a “purely” philosophical conclusion can be warranted.



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  • 155
    joehev says:

    Alan what I said was I don’t need these people to tell me that the universe exists. Even early man didn’t need that. I also don’t need to know where the boundaries lie. I know they haven’t yet provided all the answers. Perhaps someday they will, but not today. As for knowing what’s there, I don’t know what’s there, but I fill in that lack of knowledge with belief in God. Capice?

    In reply to #154 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #150 by joehev:

    Just to tudy up some loose ends and to illustrate the false perceptions of “faith-thinking”.

    I don’t need astronomers and cosmologists to tell me the universe exists.

    Actually if you did not have the information from astronomers (Copernicus, Gallilao etc) you would sti…



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  • 156
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #155 by joehev:

    achro, you should have just got on with your day. You continue to misread and/or misrepresent what I’ve been saying, so I’m just leaving it be. Best wishes, Joe.

    In reply to #153 by achromat666:

    Wow, I leave to do a show and still nothing has changed.

    Joehev,

    I was willing to just just sum up my…

    What did I misread about the highlighted section? Or anything else in the post?

    You’ve entered a bunch of conjecture with nothing to support it, and rather than dismiss it out of hand I break down where I see problems. You never make your case, and you only address a fraction of the issues brought up. And when you address you only reiterate what you start out saying.

    I’m not the only person that has responded with criticism, so if there is misrepresentation, perhaps it is up to you to make your case clear, or at the very least tangible.

    But as I said, smashing head against brick wall solves nothing. Think what you wish, doesn’t make it true.

    Laters.



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  • 157
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #157 by joehev:

    As for knowing what’s there, I don’t know what’s there, but I fill in that lack of knowledge with belief in God.

    Unless you consider basic honesty a joke or are writing fiction, you should not be doing that at all. Just let the lack of knowledge be what it is: a lack of knowledge. Why fill it with unverified superstition?



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  • 158
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #157 by joehev:

    Alan what I said was I don’t need these people [astronomers] to tell me that the universe exists. Even early man didn’t need that. I also don’t need to know where the boundaries lie. I know they haven’t yet provided all the answers. Perhaps someday they will, but not today. As for knowing what’s there, I don’t know… .. . . As for knowing what’s there, I don’t know what’s there, but I fill in that lack of knowledge with belief in God.

    Gapolgy 1.01 ! The universal answer of pseudo-knowledge ignorance!

    Ah well! You’ll just have to live in your own imaginary little world – on a flat Earth with lights in the dome-roof and angels dancing in the clouds! (Perhaps they have to dodge the aircraft? -OOops that involves objective observations)



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  • 159
    WMcEnaney says:

    Let me try to define an essential property the way an analytic philosopher might define it.

    For every property P and for every object O, P is essential to O if and only if O exists.

    For every property P and for every object O, P is accidental to O if and only if O can exist without P.



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  • 160
    WMcEnaney says:

    Banjolvie, I assume that Professor Dawkins is not demolishing a straw man when he defines faith as believing something for which there’s no evidence. But his opinion still reminds me of a point that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen makes, in his book about the Virgin Mary, I think: The Catholic Church’s enemies don’t criticize it. They criticize their misconceptions about it. If we’re going to criticize some things that some other people believe, we should first know what it is they believe. Have Dawkins and others asked theologians, other Christians what they think faith consists of? Maybe not.

    I’m sure there are many Christians who criticize what they only think evolutionists believe. I haven’t talked with even one creationist who knew anything about punctuated equilibrium. Even if evolutionists disagree about it, the creationists I have in mind seem to ignore a current part of evolution theory. Many of them ignore scientific primary sources because they trust creationist secondary sources that may show the authors’ biases.

    Again, I doubt that Dawkins has been demolishing any straw men. But clearly, he misinterprets St. Thomas Aquinas’s first-cause argument when he asks, If everything has a cause, what caused God? St. Thomas never says that everything has a cause. He tells that everything that begins to exist has a cause. One point of his first-cause argument is that God prevents a vicious infinite regress of causes because everything other than God gets its causal ability from Him. God’s existence and His causal powers are, if you will, built into Him, including his existence. His nature implies them. So He doesn’t get them from any other source. He doesn’t get them from anywhere. He just has them essentially in an essentialist sense of the word “essentially.”

    I’m talking analogically about God because we would digress too far if I explained the divine simplicity doctrine. But as you may already know, it conflicts with Dr. Dawkins’s belief that a creator needs to be more complex than his creatures. Complexity is a defect partly because complex things have imperfections. A perfect thing has all the good properties it needs to be the kind of thing it is and no imperfections. Perfection is a kind of wholeness.



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  • 161
    joehev says:

    I would suggest the possibility here that not only is perfection a kind of wholeness, but that it is wholeness. Perfection, God, includes everything, i.e. nothing exists outside of God. Not even science. Interesting, eh?

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    Banjolvie, I assume that Professor Dawkins is not demolishing a straw man when he defines faith as believing something for which there’s no evidence. But his opinion still reminds me of a point that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen makes, in his book about the Virgin Mary, I think: The Catholic Church’s…



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  • 162
    joehev says:

    Ah, yes. Insults. The last resort. Pity.

    In reply to #160 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #157 by joehev:

    Alan what I said was I don’t need these people [astronomers] to tell me that the universe exists. Even early man didn’t need that. I also don’t need to know where the boundaries lie. I know they haven’t yet provided all the answers. Perhaps someday they will, but not tod…



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  • 163
    joehev says:

    Because I don’t see it as superstition.

    In reply to #159 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #157 by joehev:

    As for knowing what’s there, I don’t know what’s there, but I fill in that lack of knowledge with belief in God.

    Unless you consider basic honesty a joke or are writing fiction, you should not be doing that at all. Just let the lack of knowledge be what it is: a lack o…



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  • 165
    joehev says:

    The evidence lies inside each person. I arrived there by reason and prayer. So can anyone. It’s a matter of opening a door.

    In reply to #166 by Quine:

    In reply to #165 by joehev:

    Because I don’t see it as superstition.

    How would you show someone else that it is not superstition?

    Got evidence?



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  • 166
    WMcEnaney says:

    Ouch, you got me, Joe. : ) But I wonder whether we need to distinguish between God’s perfection and non-divine kinds of perfection. A canonized saint may be whole with respect to what God wants him to be. He may be as holy as God wants him to be, say. But God still has perfections that mere human beings don’t have. Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas would tell us that change consists of actualization of a potential. Since God is fully actual there’s no potential in his nature. That’s partly why He doesn’t depend on anyone else or anything else to keep Him existing. If He exists, His nonexistence is metaphysically impossible. In Heaven, though, canonized saints will still actualize potentials. For example, they’ll be able to go from potentially walking to actually walking after their bodies resurrect. They’ll also be as holy as he wants them to be and their bodies will have all the perfections that glorified, resurrected bodies can have. My point is that, although there’s wholeness as it is in itself, God can be whole in a way that His creatures can’t be whole.In reply to #163 by joehev:

    I would suggest the possibility here that not only is perfection a kind of wholeness, but that it is wholeness. Perfection, God, includes everything, i.e. nothing exists outside of God. Not even science. Interesting, eh?

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    Banjolvie, I assume that Professor Dawkins is…



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  • 167
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #167 by joehev:

    The evidence lies inside each person. I arrived there by reason and prayer. So can anyone. It’s a matter of opening a door.

    Could you be a bit more specific and explain exactly what it is inside each person that counts as evidence?



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  • 168
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #164 by joehev:

    Ah, yes. Insults. The last resort. Pity.

    To the bigoted ignorant, who have no rational answers, all constructive criticism is an insult! The “offended card” is a well known as a response to checkmate, as a last ploy to dodge the issues!

    Perhaps you should reflect, that for quite some time now, YOUR wriggling responses have been an insult to the intelligence of those trying to conduct a rational debate.

    Your claim to have dreamed up an understanding of the universe without reference to the information provided by astronomers, is quite comical in its absurdity!

    joehev @163 – God, includes everything, i.e. nothing exists outside of God. Not even science.

    Could I suggest a little more realism:
    Nothing exists outside the God-delusion. Not even science – or reality. (Closed-minded, tunnel-vision-blinkers, firmly in place.)

    DHudson @169

    In reply to #167 by joehev: – The evidence lies inside each person. I arrived there by reason and prayer. So can anyone. It’s a matter of opening a door.

    Could you be a bit more specific and explain exactly what it is inside each person that counts as evidence?

    I think you are more likely to get a reasoned coherent answer at my comment 42.



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  • 169
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #165 by joehev:

    Because I don’t see it as superstition.

    That doesn’t really answer my question. Most superstitious people don’t regard their beliefs as superstition.

    The evidence lies inside each person. I arrived there by reason and prayer. So can anyone. It’s a matter of opening a door.

    Prayer doesn’t count because it assumes there is someone on the receiving end, which is the point of contention. You can’t claim to have arrived there by reason if you then withhold those reasons, so I get the impression you’re being evasive, if not outright dishonest. Moreover, you’re claiming you know what goes on in other people’s minds based on what goes on in your own mind, which is a pretty big presumption to make and looks, frankly, like schizophrenic delusion to outsiders without further elaboration. Lastly, implying that you are more open-minded than others does not count as a good argument any more than it would if its inverse was made explicit: the ad hominem implication of narrow-mindedness in others to discredit their positions. It does not help your case to make insinuations about other users’ characters.

    So, I ask again, why fill in a lack of knowledge with unverified superstition? What reason have you to invent fake knowledge to fill a gap you know is a gap?



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  • 170
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    So it seems that, despite earlier protests, you do want to wade into the first-cause argument. I’m game. But first, let me do a bit of housekeeping with your lead-in. Buckle up, this may take a while. I apologize in advance for the treatise length post. IT’S IN SIX PARTS. Feel no obligation to respond to any or all of it.

    I assume that Professor Dawkins is not demolishing a straw man when he defines faith as believing something for which there’s no evidence.

    Forgive me, I honestly can’t tell if you are being wry or if you really do dismiss the charge of strawmanning here. From the context of the rest of your comment it appears you are either trying to make such an accusation in a “cute” way (nothing wrong with that) or in such a way as to retain deniability later (maybe not so innocent.) I’m gonna go ahead and defend against the implied charge in either case.

    I have no idea what Richard did or did not say. I haven’t seen the interview. Also I do not wish to speak for Professor Dawkins in any way, so I hope you won’t mind if we cut out the middle man and stipulate that I, BanJoIvie, advance “believing something for which there’s no evidence” as a decent working definition of the word “faith.” Now we can just leave Richard out of this and discuss whether I am erecting a straw man.

    (I also like “claimed knowledge of that which one cannot possibly know.” But since we started chatting because I was so impressed with your willingness to admit doubt, I will concede that not all faith claims are asserted at the level of knowledge.)

    If we’re going to discuss definitions, I guess a dictionary is a good place to start. The first dictionary that pops up when I Google “faith defintion” is Merriam-Websters.Here is the entry:

    I quote definition 2b:

    firm belief in something for which there is no proof

    The rest of the definitions include other senses in which the word is used, including loyalty, allegiance, fidelity and trust. They also specify that “faith” can specifically mean any of these things with particular reference to “God”, or it can refer to the thing in which one has such belief (i.e. the Protestant faith.)

    I maintain that definition 2b is fairly approximate to mine (minor quibbling aside) or at least that I have not taken unreasonable liberties with it. I further maintain that none of the other definitions actively contradicts or precludes the sense of definition 2b.

    If you grant me these two points, I hope we can conclude that either Merriam-Websters is whacking at strawman with me, or that I have at least a good “faith” basis for using the word as I have defined it. (I know that’s just bad.)

    [CONTINUES IN NEXT POST]



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  • 171
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    [CONTINUED]

    [Archbishop Sheen’s point that] The Catholic Church’s enemies don’t criticize it. They criticize their misconceptions about it.

    Yeah, that’s pretty close to the definition of strawmanning. I note that Sheen says misconceptions rather than “misrepresentations” so I guess you meant to graciously imply that Richard might just be ignorant rather than malicious.

    But just because a critic doesn’t accept the interpretation of a concept claimed by a defender does not necessarily mean that the critic has “misconceptions.” Plenty of people who know an awful lot about Catholicism are vocal critics. Martin Luther comes to mind.

    An apologist can always claim that the critic’s barbs do not apply to the “really true” understanding of proposition X. Around these parts we see it a lot. Its called the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    People are always telling me that I just don’t understand what they are saying about their god or their church or their new age belief. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that I understand it perfectly, I just reject it, and thus use objective language to describe it rather than the language of belief. That is not necessarily unfair, nor does it necessarily mean that my plainly phrased understanding is inferior to a florid apologetic filled with special pleading. See the first-cause argument below.

    If we’re going to criticize some things that some other people believe, we should first know what it is they believe.

    True, but we need not accept what they believe nor adopt their terminology.

    I grant that outsiders don’t always get the belief they are rejecting right. Catholic theologians certainly don’t do so when blithely dismissing others. They lump centuries of widely varied belief structures into the category “pagan” (not an actual belief system faith which anyone ever actually held before the modern era) and move on. I regularly listen to a local catholic radio station and I hear competing positions grossly caricatured – even outright lied about – all the time. Not just by radio hosts, by priests and theologians.

    But not all critics who reject a proposition and express it differently from a believer do so from ignorance. Sometimes the critic’s version is based on better information. Like the child in the story of the Emporer’s New Clothes, n outside critic might be able to point out flaws which initiates are willingly overlooking, or dismissing as unsophisticated.

    How much do I need to know about a system of thought before I may criticize it? Do I need to study as deeply and as long as the top experts in the field? If so, I don’t think the act of criticism is logically possible. Do I need a degree in theology before I may reject the arguments for gods? Do I need to believe in god before any of the classical arguments can convince me he exists?

    How about this? Does one need to have more knowledge of a belief in order to criticize it than to accept it? Do you think it possible that Richard understands theological arguments for God at least as well as most children at confirmation? If so, why are they permitted to become Catholic? Would you object to Richard’s embracing Catholicism tomorrow on the grounds that his current understanding of it is insufficient?

    [CONTINUES IN NEXT POST]



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  • 172
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    [CONTINUED]

    Have Dawkins and others asked theologians, other Christians what they think faith consists of? Maybe not.

    Except definitely yes. In Richard’s case, he has personally interviewed many believers and faith leaders for his BBC documentary The Root of All Evil? (He did not choose the title. The entire documentary as well as the unedited interviews – including some that were not included in the finished program – are available on line.) He has interviewed many other faithful people for other prograns as well. He has had public conversations, debates and correspondences with many christian leaders. He also wrote a bestselling book about theological arguments which is thoroughly researched and cross referenced. If Richard is wrong about the nature of christian faith and theology, it’s not from lack of familiarity.

    As for me, I was a practicing Mormon until about the age of 22. During my years in that church I spoke with countless other LDS members about “what they think faith consists of.” Of course, I also experienced it first hand. As a Mormon missionary, I spent two full years, six days a week, all day long talking to others about my faith and their own. In Los Angeles, the area where I served, you can well imagine that this included just about every type of faith imaginable. I studied the scriptures for an hour every morning and attended services at churches of many faiths. I’ve read every word of the King James bible several times, as well as select scriptures from other disciplines. (Not the additional books in the catholic cannon, so maybe that’s what I’m missing.) I have friends and family who are devout and I speak to them about their beliefs from time to time. But ironically, I have learned much more about theology since becoming an atheist than I ever did in believing circles.

    What “others” may know, I can’t say with much specificity. But I will say that the atheists I know are much, much better informed about theism and about christian doctrines than any similarly sized sample of believers I ever encountered in my travels. There is some empirical data which may support my anecdotal impression.

    I’m sure there are many Christians who criticize what they only think evolutionists believe.

    Me too, and not just Christians.

    However, describing the scientific consensus as “what evolutionists believe” does not capture the state of our scientific knowledge about evolution by natural selection. Those who reject at least the basics of that knowledge really can only do so from a position of ignorance (or willful blindness).

    Also, I don’t think it’s necessarily an inaccurate term (though frequently abused), but F.Y.I. the word “evolutionist” doesn’t sit quite right with me. I find I can usually substitute “biologist” or “scientist” without loss.

    I haven’t talked with even one creationist who knew anything about punctuated equilibrium.

    I have. Some of them love to cite the disagreements between Gould and Dawkins in an attempt to discredit the whole of evolutionary biology because of a minor disagreement over technical detail.

    Even if evolutionists disagree about it, the creationists I have in mind seem to ignore a current part of evolution theory. Many of them ignore scientific primary sources because they trust creationist secondary sources that may show the authors’ biases.

    I agree with all this. I assume you are expecting me to draw a parallel with the atheist rejection of “primary sources” in theology. Let me just offer a few salient observations.

    1. “Primary sources” in evolutionary biology include massive amounts of empirical data and verifiable, objective fact. This is simply not the case for the field of theology.

    2. “Secondary sources” are not necessarily misrepresentations of the material they are summarizing. I don’t actually have to read the original Aquinas in order to grasp his arguments with sufficient nuance to reject them. They have been fairly and voluminously summarized, (in many cases improved upon – the Kalam Cosmological Argument is a clearer modern version of Aquinas’ Secunda via. It’s just as wrong though.)

    3. Primary sources may also contain bias. Sometimes secondary sources correct for this rather than the reverse.

    [CONTINUES IN NEXT POST]



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  • 173
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    [CONTINUED]

    Again, I doubt that Dawkins has been demolishing any straw men. But clearly, he misinterprets St. Thomas Aquinas’s first-cause argument when he asks, If everything has a cause, what caused God?

    Is that a quote from Dawkins? Why don’t we just leave strawmen out of this unless we want to provide exact quotes.

    Again, I will just draw the fire away from Richard and stipulate, that “what caused god?” is a perfectly valid question to reveal the fatal flaw in cosmological or first cause arguments.

    St. Thomas never says that everything has a cause.

    True, he makes a special exception for his god. This exception is merely asserted without support or justification. We call this special pleading. It is invalid.

    He tells that everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    No he doesn’t. That terminology is a later addition to the argument. It’s not in Aquinas’ Secunda Via. Aquinas merely says that we see causation when we look at the world and that nothing is self-caused. He does not say this causation is universal, but neither does he say that anything apart from “God” is without cause. Inferring that Aquinas intends to portray God as unique in this aspect is not an unfair reading.

    In any case, whoever said it, “everything that begins to exist has a cause” is an unwarranted assertion. We have precisely zero observations of anything ever in the universe beginning to exist with a cause. In fact – with the possible exception of virtual particles in quantum mechanics, (which are a special case, and do in fact simply pop in an out of existence with no “cause” beyond the fact that it is possible) – we have absolutely no evidence that anything anywhere ever has “begun to exist.” Ever.

    In fact, thermodynamics tells us that matter can neither be created or destroyed. So _if_Aquinas meant “cause” to mean “cause to begin to exist” he was wrong to say “In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes.” We do not, in fact, find anything “beginning to exist” in the observed universe. We witness matter changing from one form to another constantly. Changing state and beginning to exist need have absolutely nothing in common, including the requirement for a “cause.” We cannot extrapolate from one to the other without any data about what beginning to exist is actually like.

    Given that our sample size of “things that begin to exist” is zero, upon what basis could anyone reasonably assert that “everything that begins to exist has a cause?”

    [CONTINUES IN NEXT POST]



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  • 174
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    [CONTINUED]

    One point of his first-cause argument is that God prevents a vicious infinite regress of causes because […WmcEnaney makes several bare assertions about the nature of “God” without any basis. Special pleading. The specifics are irrelevant. The amount to “God is special, so we get to ignore logic when we introduce him.”]

    1) Nothing says that an infinite regress is necessarily “vicious.” Aquinas asserts that, “in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity.” But that is just an assumption. We have no reason to assume that a causal chain cannot in principle be infinite. Christian theology accepts that such a chain may continue into an infinite future, so what justification is there for placing a limit in the past?

    If each cause can be caused by the one before it, why does one of them ever have to be first? As we follow the chain backwards how far is it permissible to go before a first cause becomes necessary. What is different – in principal – about the second cause which suddenly says, “one more, and that’s it.” If one cause may precede another, and if this is repeatable in a chain, then logically there is no necessary limit to the number of iterations. Therefore, the only way to argue that an infinite regress is impossible is to argue that infinity is impossible. Theology doesn’t want that so he just makes up a rule that infinity is only possible if we name it “God.”

    To support his claim “it is impossible to go to infinity” Aquinas begins by simply asserting that all causal chains have a first cause and an ultimate cause, with an varying number of intermediaries. This merely assumes his conclusion as the premise. He goes on to say that without a first cause there could be no other causes in the chain, again assuming the conclusion he wishes to derive. He concludes that these assertions prove that infinite causal chains are impossible because:

    if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, […]
    To sum up:
    Infinite chains are impossible because every chain has a first link. But an infinite chain would have no first link, so they are impossible. Because infinite chains are impossible, we must conclude that there is a first link. Which is what we began by asserting.

    In the middle of the argument, Aquinas himself all but acknowledges that infinite causal chains are possible:

    in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one [emphasis added]

    The number of intermediate causes may extend indefinitely. In principle there is no limit to their number, they could be infinite. The only bar to having an infinite chain of “intermediate” is the introduction of the words “first” and “ultimate.” These are inserted without … good … CAUSE! (hahaha.)

    [CONTINUES IN NEXT POST]



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  • 175
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #162 by WMcEnaney:

    [CONTINUED]

    2) As you make clear with your explanation, Aquinas’ entire line of reasoning relies on this “first cause” having characteristics that differ from every other cause in the chain, no matter how long. Because his case requires these characteristics, they are simply assumed to exist. That is invalid. Just because your case requires something to be true does not make it true. Your case could be wrong.

    This is a prime example of what I mean when I say that theology requires you to believe in a god before the arguments for its existence become convincing.

    3) Again you assert essentialism as a necessary support for this line of thinking. If essentialism fails, so does the first cause argument. Demonstrate “essence” and I’ll take these apologetics a bit more seriously.

    4) If I reject special pleading (accepted practice in rational discourse outside of schools of theology) then upon reaching this “first cause in the reasoning chain, I am required to ask, “what caused god?” God is stipulated to be a “cause.” Every other cause in the chain had a cause in its turn. So what caused the first one? Asking that question is NOT misinterpreting the argument, it is challenging it. It is a way of saying, “you don’t get to just declare by fiat that the rules suddenly changed for one of the links…just because…because that one is different, and very, very special…because I said so.”

    5) The “what caused god” question is actually only half of the challenge. Stated more fully, it usually goes something like this: If everything in a causal chain has a cause, then what caused the first link? If you argue that the first link requires no cause and always existed then you grant that infinity is possible. Then it is more parsimonious to assume that the universe itself always existed without adding another entity.

    6) This entire line of thinking arises because “cause” is an undefined term. Once we begin to explore the nature of causation as we actually encounter it in the “world of sense” most of Aquinas’ assertions are called into question. So long as “cause” remains abstract, we can philosophize ‘til the cows come home. If we check in with observable reality, we become hard pressed to find a meaning for “cause” that differs for “physically cause” which is not significantly different than “move.” Suddenly, the entire second way seems redundant and a sort of reiteration of the first.

    7) Oh hell…that’s enough for now.

    I’m talking analogically about God because we would digress too far if I explained the divine simplicity doctrine.

    Please don’t. It also is special pleading.

    But as you may already know, it conflicts with Dr. Dawkins’s belief that a creator needs to be more complex than his creatures.

    Exactly. A complex god would be vulnerable to disproof. Therefore god is simple. We have no example ever of anything complex being “created” by something simpler. The principle applies everywhere we have ever looked.

    Complexity is a defect

    No it isn’t

    partly because complex things have imperfections.

    That is not necessarily so in terms of pure reasoning. There’s no reason we cannot imagine a perfect complex thing.

    In the observable universe, “imperfection” is in eye of the beholder. Stuff just is. It takes an observer to label it with values against some standard, and to imagine the standard in the first place. All our observations have shown us that we observers come late into a universe, through, slow, mindless processes which gradually build up complexity. Before we came along the universe may have had no notion of “defect” or “perfection.”

    A perfect thing has all the good properties it needs to be the kind of thing it is and no imperfections. Perfection is a kind of wholeness.

    Hmm, that is an interesting claim. I think we should test it. Where can we get a sample of a perfect thing and check it for wholeness?



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  • 176
    joehev says:

    Because I don’t see it as superstition.
    That doesn’t really answer my question. Most superstitious people don’t regard their beliefs as superstition.

    You called it a superstition, that’s your opinion. I don’t see it as such. I see it as an answer to what I seek. You asked me why I choose to fill the unknown with such a belief. Because it completes my need for fulfillment, because it gives me peace, because it completes me.

    The evidence lies inside each person. I arrived there by reason and prayer. So can anyone. It’s a matter of opening a door.
    Prayer doesn’t count because it assumes there is someone on the receiving end, which is the point of contention.

    No, it doesn’t have to make that assumption. One can pray just in case there’s someone on the receiving end and evaluate the result.

    You can’t claim to have arrived there by reason if you then withhold those reasons, so I get the impression you’re being evasive, if not outright dishonest.

    I haven’t withheld my reasons. I haven’t been asked my reasons. Your impression is wrong.

    Moreover, you’re claiming you know what goes on in other people’s minds based on what goes on in your own mind, which is a pretty big presumption to make and looks, frankly, like schizophrenic delusion to outsiders without further elaboration.

    I made no such claim that I recall.

    Lastly, implying that you are more open-minded than others does not count as a good argument any more than it would if its inverse was made explicit: the ad hominem implication of narrow-mindedness in others to discredit their positions. It does not help your case to make insinuations about other users’ characters.

    An open-minded position accepts another person’s pov as being legitimate to them without referring to it in derogatory terms, as superstition for example.

    So, I ask again, why fill in a lack of knowledge with unverified superstition? What reason have you to invent fake knowledge to fill a gap you know is a gap?

    The gap exists in science. I fill it outside science, or let me say I fill it with a knowledge that includes science as part of the wholeness within God, but which science cannot explain in scientific terms.

    In reply to #171 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #165 by joehev:

    Because I don’t see it as superstition.

    That doesn’t really answer my question. Most superstitious people don’t regard their beliefs as superstition.

    The evidence lies inside each person. I arrived there by reason and prayer. So can anyone. It’s a matter of opening a d…



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  • 177
    joehev says:

    In reply to #170 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #164 by joehev:

    Ah, yes. Insults. The last resort. Pity.

    To the bigoted ignorant, who have no rational answers, all constructive criticism is an insult! The “offended card” is a well known as a response to checkmate, as a last ploy to dodge the issues!

    Perhaps you should reflect, tha…

    I see, so now I am a bigoted ignorant but I really shouldn’t see that as insulting. You have an interesting way with words.



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  • 178
    joehev says:

    In reply to #169 by DHudson:

    God is inside each person and each person is inside God and each person is God. Of course, that is only my opinion. If I am wrong, perhaps, one day, science will prove me so. Thus far, it can’t.

    In reply to #167 by joehev:

    The evidence lies inside each person. I arrived there by reason and prayer. So can anyone. It’s a matter of opening a door.

    Could you be a bit more specific and explain exactly what it is inside each person that counts as evidence?



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  • 179
    joehev says:

    In reply to #168 by WMcEnaney:

    Ouch, you got me, Joe. : ) But I wonder whether we need to distinguish between God’s perfection and non-divine kinds of perfection. A canonized saint may be whole with respect to what God wants him to be. He may be as holy as God wants him to be, say. But God still has perfections that mere huma…

    Let me advance the possibility that imperfection in God rests solely in His creation which, still being a part of Him, is the imperfect part. The nature of that imperfection is ignorance. Created beings are part of God but they have only an instinctive knowledge of God. Their destiny is to find God and find each other. Canonized saints may be more advanced, perhaps, in their knowledge of God, though not necessarily. Our reward for mortality is death, and only in death will we know everything and become totally aware of God.

    Of course, as I said elsewhere, my speculations may be totally wrong. I should also mention that I don’t follow any particular religion to the letter but accept them as man’s constructs in trying to understand and be responsive to God..



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  • 180
    joehev says:

    An interesting topic. Thank you all for letting me be a part of it despite the sour taste I may have left in your scientific mouths. I will now leave you to your further discussions and perhaps check back at a later date. Goodbye or, in the root of such a word, God be with you. 🙂



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  • 181
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #178 by joehev:

    You called it a superstition, that’s your opinion.

    It’s also my opinion that there is a laptop right in front of me. There is also a laptop right in front of me. Your claim is superstition because it fulfils the requirements of a superstition: it is not based on reason or knowledge, it tries to impart some significance to a gap – in this case, by inserting a god into it – and it is based on ignorance.

    You asked me why I choose to fill the unknown with such a belief. Because it completes my need for fulfillment, because it gives me peace, because it completes me.

    I haven’t withheld my reasons. I haven’t been asked my reasons.

    I think you’ve either misunderstood my question or have deliberately pretended to do so. Reasons were precisely what I was asking for.

    Also, not a single “reason” you’ve presented is sound. All three are utterly wrong reasons for believing anything because they are appeals to the consequences of believing something, not justifications for those beliefs themselves. This is a basic fallacy. I think it would be nice if the entire world was peaceful and happy, but it doesn’t make it true even if it makes me euphoric to think it is.

    I made no such claim that I recall.

    Recall:

    The evidence lies inside each person.

    This is effectively a claim that you know there is evidence inside each person, therefore that you know something about those person’s insides, or minds. You based this on your own introspection. I think “you’re claiming you know what goes on in other people’s minds based on what goes on in your own mind” is pretty justified given what you’ve said.

    An open-minded position accepts another person’s pov as being legitimate to them without referring to it in derogatory terms, as superstition for example.

    Calling it superstition is not derogatory mud-slinging. It’s a thing with objective criteria outlined above, albeit fuzzy ones at times. And there’s a difference between acknowledging other people can bring relevant information and arguments to the table, and showing that they actually have done so. People get things wrong. In any case, I haven’t seen any reason to treat your views as anything other than incorrect for reasons I’ve outlined above. Instead of complaining about close-mindedness, you would do better building an actual case to justify why you think such and such.

    The gap exists in science. I fill it outside science, or let me say I fill it with a knowledge that includes science as part of the wholeness within God, but which science cannot explain in scientific terms.

    And I ask again – why do you do that? Or more precisely: what actual rational justification (not appeals to consequences) have you for abandoning, say, the principle of parsimony or appeal to evidence when it comes to one specific idea i.e. that a deity of certain specifications exists, and how do you show that this idea is true as opposed to an invented untruth? Science is specifically about finding out what is true, as is mathematics, logic, and reason – which even philosophy has to work with. Given its success, you’d have to have a very good reason for leaving it.

    If you are adding to our knowledge, then it is up to you to justify doing so, not to science to disprove it. This is the burden of proof.



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  • 182
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #179 by joehev:

    I see, so now I am a bigoted ignorant but I really shouldn’t see that as insulting. You have an interesting way with words.

    Ignorance is a lack of knowledge , (both of the universe and of reasoning techniquies). I have an accurate way of using words, from which you could learn much, but show no inclination to do so.

    eg. I gave you a link to “The Dunning-Kruger Effect” @134, of which you professed ignorance in the response @150, to that very same comment containing the link.

    @150 – I have no idea who Dunning-Kruger may be, or may have been, or what effect they gave birth to,

    If you flaunt your ignorance, expect to be challenged on it!

    As far as bigotry goes, – You have been preaching open-mindedness, while demonstrating your own mind locked firmly closed, gratuitously contradicting whatever is put to you – even links to dictionary definintions and other reference materials, which you demonstrably fail to understand.

    @180 – God is inside each person and each person is inside God and each person is God. Of course, that is only my opinion. If I am wrong, perhaps, one day, science will prove me so. Thus far, it can’t.

    Science showed you were right as I pointed out as far back as comment 42 and which I mentioned and linked again as recently as comment 170. Your god is part of your brain.

    It is your assertion of the existence of gods elsewhere in the universe which is wrong!



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  • 183
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    In reply to #65 by DonaldMiller:

    I came across this quote from Noam Chomsky–
    “I’m always uneasy about the concept of “speaking truth,” as if we somehow know the truth and only have to enlighten others who have not risen to our elevated level. The search for truth is a cooperative, unending endeavor. We can, and should, engage in it to the extent we can and encourage others to do so as well, seeking to free ourselves from constraints imposed by coercive institutions, dogma, irrationality, excessive conformity and lack of initiative and imagination, and numerous other obstacles.”

    Hello again Donald,

    I’ve just spent several hours being enlightened, educated, amused and amazed reading this Thread up to Comment 183. Not for the first time, I thank, bow to and applaud all the rational thinkers on this Thread – you know who I mean…. 😎

    This is the reason I come here, to see very good minds at work refuting and dismantling ‘faith-thinking’ by a couple of ‘Christian Believers’ who are very much out of their depth, even if their indoctrination and ego won’t let them see it, or learn from it. I read one of them saying that they don’t know what the Dunning-Kruger Effect is, even when there is Links to it…. LOL.

    As I previously said to you the level of knowledge here is of a high level, and reading these Comments you can see why clarity, evidence and answering queries is important, since question refusal, dishonesty, logical fallacies and obfuscation is disrespectful and insulting – as is Preaching, where the Moderators issued a clear Warning.

    Several Members addressed multiple issues here, none of which were answered with scientific rigor, evidence or logic. These Members have spent many hours trying to unpack assertions and feeble arguments by people severely infected by their God Virus (or God Delusion, if you prefer that description.)

    Referring back to your Comment elsewhere, you won’t find this kind of intellectual debating on ‘other atheist sites’ or ‘the Huffington Post’. This is a whole different ball game, and why I advised you to be careful in your Commenting, since it can get intense and deep, and you can drown quickly if you don’t know what you’re talking about…. 😎

    In these posts by BanJolvie, you’ll see that I wasn’t kidding about his ability to address your first Comment, which he did very civilly, and you honorably apologized. Some others have put in excellent work here, so you can see the competence on tap at RDFRS.

    This sure beats dinner and a movie for a productive night’s entertainment – could be time for another Donation…. 😎 Mac.



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  • 184
    bob_e_s says:

    In reply to #157 by joehev:

    Alan what I said was I don’t need these people to tell me that the universe exists. Even early man didn’t need that. I also don’t need to know where the boundaries lie. I know they haven’t yet provided all the answers. Perhaps someday they will, but not today. As for knowing what’s there, I don’t know what’s there, but I fill in that lack of knowledge with belief in God. Capice?

    How do you know the universe exists if it is not for the work of astronomers? How do you know Mars exists? Have you seen it?
    How do you know that your liver exists?

    The answer is that you know because of the work of people who have endeavoured to investigate and quantify reality. And from what you’ve said, you take all this on ‘faith’ (perhaps an ill-advised word to use but I’ll go with it). You have frequently announced your ignorance and lack of interest in the universe as illustrated by science, with a certain amount of pride. Yet you are happy to ignore this and concentrate on your own projection of a possible reality, with a god watching over you and all ‘truths’ as valid as any others.

    As people have tried to point out to you, this is not the universe we live in; it’s the universe you live in. And your personal universe has nothing to say about reality or the truth.

    As for your comment about filling your lack of knowledge with god, it seems to me that it is an excuse for having a lack of knowledge. What are you frightened of? What if you found out something that pushes the boundaries of our knowledge of the universe back? Surely your definition of god therefore shrinks. What happens to your god when science gives it nowhere to hide?

    If you want to sit in the corner with your eyes and ears blocked up, that’s fine, but you will have to do better if you want to convince anyone that you have logic on your side.



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  • 185
    WMcEnaney says:

    Banjolvie, if you believe that propositions 1-3 are logically necessary truths, you already presuppose a kind of essentialism, because you know that you contradict yourself when you deny any of them. That’s because relations necessarily hold among numbers. Each of 1-3 is necessarily true.

    1. 2 + 2 = 4.
    2. For every number n > 0, n is even if and only n mod 2 = 0.
    3. Every object is identical with itself.

    Two plus two is another way to express four. Being evenly divisible by two is just what it is to be an even number. Proposition 3 is just another way to say that every object equals itself. For example, Banjolvie is identical with Banjolvie. If you weren’t self-identical, you wouldn’t exist.

    Let me explain the difference between accidentally and essentially ordered causes because the first-cause argument assumes it. I’ll begin with accidentally ordered causes.

    To see what I mean by an accidentally ordered set of causes, suppose that you’re a natural father of a boy named “Brain.” He began to exist because you and your wife conceived him using your sperm and her egg. If the sperm or the egg came from someone else, at least one of you wouldn’t have been his natural parent. See the implied origin-essentialism there? Brian is the son of you two partly because he inherited genes from each of you. Now that you’ve conceived him with your wife, only you two can be his natural parents. Being your natural son is an essential property he has. Once you bring him into being, it’s logically impossible for any other people to become his natural parents. The same kind of essentialism is true about any kind of nonhuman organism that inherits genes, even when the parent is a hermaphrodite. Even if populations evolve by natural selection, origin essential can still be true.

    After Brian grows up, you’re still his natural parents because you conceived him. But he can still have children after you hurry to heaven. He depended physically on you and your wife because you caused him. His children depend on their natural parents in the same way. You can have potentially infinitely many descendants, too, if your children and their children and their keep having children. However long people descend directly or indirectly from you, gaps will form in the sequence because people die. Those gaps explain why we call the causal chain accidental. It includes members that it could lose.

    What’s an essentially ordered set of causes? Consider an example I learned from Dr. Edward Feser before I posted Vimeo’s link to a video of the lecture where he gave it. While you do that, please think about each moment that each part of the causal chain exists, not about days months, years and so forth.

    There’s a cup of coffee sitting on your desk because it needs something to sit on. Your desk holds up the cup, the floor supports your desk, your house’s foundation holds up the floor, the earth holds up the foundation, parts of the earth hold up other parts of it. Natural causes keep the earth in place, and so forth.

    Yank the desk out from under the cup, and your coffee will spill when the cup hits the floor. To make your desk fall to your house’s foundation, take the floor away. Pull out the foundation. Then desk will land one the ground. Blow up the earth, and your desk won’t have it to stand on. Your desk may float in space, but something still needs to keep it floating and existing.

    In this series, each material object depends on another one for support. The cup depends on the desk, the desk depends on the floor, the floor depends on the foundation . . . If you take any object from the group, one or more other objects will lose some support. Every material object derives support from at least one other object.

    Remember, change consists in actualization of a potential. Even if the the foundation and so on always stay in their places, they get some causal abilities from the things that support them. From nothing, nothing comes. Nothing, the absence of anything, has no causal ability. It can’t cause anything. So even if our sequence of material objects is infinitely long, it still needs someone or something with inbuilt causal ability. Otherwise, causes regress viciously and infinitely. St. Thomas’s first-cause argument is about essentially ordered causes. So it doesn’t need to assume that anything in any essentially ordered set of objects began to exist in time.

    You might agree with David Hume when he teaches us that there aren’t any cause-and-effect relations anywhere. Sure, you drop an egg, it’ll fall to the ground. Turn on the cold-water part your faucet, and cold water will flow from the faucet to the sink. Step on your car’s gas pedal. Then the car will move if its in gear with the engine running. For Hume, pairs of events only happen together. An egg always falls when you drop it. Cold water flows from the faucet. The car moves when you step on the gas pedal while the car is in gear. Hume would say that too many things could change, say, the egg’s behavior for us to know that the dropping caused the falling.

    You may reply, as some physicists do, that uncaused physical events can happen. You or they might think that, if a new computer appeared “out of nowhere,” it got there with no cause. But normally, you wouldn’t think, “Wow! That wasn’t there seconds ago. I guess there’s no cause of it.” You’d wonder where the computer came from. Maybe someone put it there when you weren’t looking. Professor Dawkins spacemen could have beamed it into your home. : ) What do you need to do to tell the difference between an uncaused event and an event with an undiscoverable cause?

    It’s one thing to imagine an uncaused event. It’s another thing to know that one can happen. You can conceive a trilateral geometric figure, and every triangle is trilateral. But there can be trilaterals that aren’t triangles. That a triangle exists implies that at least one trilateral exists. But that a trilateral exists doesn’t imply that it’s a triangle. You can even conceive of objects that couldn’t exist in the real world. Conceiving still differs from imagining, though. When you imagine something, you picture it mentally. You can reason about geometric figures, even when you don’t see, smell, taste, touch, nor hear one. After all, you can reason about an an equation, or maybe a definition, that defines some physically impossible object. Still, imaginability doesn’t imply that anyone or anything can cause what you imagine. Conceivability doesn’t imply cause-ability either. Even God can’t cause a logically impossible object. As C.S. Lewis points out in his book “The Problem of Pain,” when an action’s concept is self-contradictory, there’s no such action to do. When we say that God is all-powerful, we mean, or at least I mean, that He can cause or allow any logically possible set of circumstances. And that definition implies that even He can’t make a rock that’s too heavy for Him to lift it. The idea that there’s such a rock implies a self-contradiction. So as Lewis might say, there’s no such rock and nothing God can do with it.

    I’ve copied this post, deleted the original and edited the copy because that was the only way to revise what I wrote to add this important point. Since change is the actualization of potential, we need a fully actual actualizer who makes change possible, though he can’t change. If He is fully actual, He’s the only God. If there could be more than one fully actual being, you couldn’t tell them apart. To do that, you’d need to find some property that one had that another didn’t have. But the the one without that property would be only partly actual. He’d have one or more properties potentially. I won’t go on and on about the Holy Trinity. For now, I’m content to tell you that a fully actual being is unchanging and unchangeable because no potential.

    Oh, there’s another important point: Hume is wrong if each material object has some derive causal abilities. The earth tends naturally to support what sits on it. Plants tend to “eat and drink” through their roots. Molecules tend to speed up when you heat them. These are examples of naturally teleological events.



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  • 186
    Marktony says:

    What caused the ” fully actual actualizer” to exist?

    In reply to #188 by WMcEnaney:

    Banjolvie, if you believe that propositions 1-3 are logically necessary truths, you already presuppose a kind of essentialism, because you know that you contradict yourself when you deny any of them. That’s because relations necessarily hold among numbers. Each of 1-3 is necessarily true.

    2 + 2 =…



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  • 187
    WMcEnaney says:

    If He exists, He’s the uncaused cause. If someone or something caused Him to exist, He wouldn’t be fully actual, since He’d have at least one potential: He could stop existing.
    In reply to #189 by Marktony:

    What caused the ” fully actual actualizer” to exist?

    In reply to #188 by WMcEnaney:

    Banjolvie, if you believe that propositions 1-3 are logically necessary truths, you already presuppose a kind of essentialism, because you know that you contradict yourself when you deny any of them. That’s because…



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  • 188
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #190 by WMcEnaney:

    If He exists, He’s the uncaused cause. If someone or something caused Him to exist, He wouldn’t be fully actual, since He’d have at least one potential: He could stop existing.

    So nothing is uncaused except him?

    That doesn’t sound quite honest.



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  • 189
    WMcEnaney says:

    In post 188, I goofed. If Brian reincarnates, he could get new natural parents. But during any life he lived, he’d be born to only one pair of parents.



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  • 190
    Marktony says:

    You know the un-caused fully actual actualizer who is the cause of everything else. You refer to it as a He or Him – could he have a wife, who has the potential to be a fully actual actualizer but who never bothers to cause anything?

    In reply to #190 by WMcEnaney:

    If He exists, He’s the uncaused cause. If someone or something caused Him to exist, He wouldn’t be fully actual, since He’d have at least one potential: He could stop existing.
    In reply to #189 by Marktony:

    What caused the ” fully actual actualizer” to exist?

    In reply to #188 by WMcEnaney:

    Banj…



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  • 191
    WMcEnaney says:

    No, because a fully actual being is always fully actual without any potential. Someone or something with potential could change. If God exists, He can’t change in any way, not even in principle. That’s why He prevents the vicious infinite regress of causes.
    In reply to #193 by Marktony:

    You know the un-caused fully actual actualizer who is the cause of everything else. You refer to it as a He or Him – could he have a wife, who has the potential to be a fully actual actualizer but who never bothers to cause anything?

    In reply to #190 by WMcEnaney:

    If He exists, He’s the uncaused c…



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  • 192
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #194 by WMcEnaney:

    No, because a fully actual being is always fully actual without any potential. Someone or something with potential could change. If God exists, He can’t change in any way, not even in principle. That’s why He prevents the vicious infinite regress of causes.

    If he cannot change himself in any way then he’s not really omnipotent. If he’s not really omnipotent then what else might he not have control over?



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  • 193
    Marktony says:

    His wife?

    In reply to #195 by DHudson:

    In reply to #194 by WMcEnaney:

    No, because a fully actual being is always fully actual without any potential. Someone or something with potential could change. If God exists, He can’t change in any way, not even in principle. That’s why He prevents the vicious infinite regress of causes.

    If he…



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  • In reply to #194 by WMcEnaney:

    No, because a fully actual being is always fully actual without any potential. Someone or something with potential could change. If God exists, He can’t change in any way, not even in principle. That’s why He prevents the vicious infinite regress of causes.
    In reply to #193 by Marktony:

    You know…

    Says who? Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the bible, so who thinks it up?



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  • 195
    Marktony says:

    Can he change his mind?

    In reply to #194 by WMcEnaney:

    No, because a fully actual being is always fully actual without any potential. Someone or something with potential could change. If God exists, He can’t change in any way, not even in principle. That’s why He prevents the vicious infinite regress of causes.
    In reply to #193 by Marktony:

    You know…



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  • 197
    achromat666 says:

    No, because a fully actual being is always fully actual without any potential. Someone or something with potential could change. If God exists, He can’t change in any way, not even in principle. That’s why He prevents the vicious infinite regress of causes.

    Why do you pose an uncaused cause at all, then? Why is this necessary? If the entity you suppose were capable of being said uncaused cause, why would that not be true of the universe itself?

    And positing the idea of being fully actual is all well and good, but how could you possibly demonstrate it? Why is it being referred to as a he? What evidence would there be that it creates anything, or even continues to participate in the actions of the universe itself? And how could anyone possibly demonstrate the ability to know what it is much less what it wants?

    You are going through a lot of effort to posit a god somewhere where it hasn’t been demonstrated as necessary, which would still leaves quite a bit of work ahead for you to convince anyone that this is even remotely plausible.



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  • In reply to #199 by DHudson:

    In reply to #196 by Marktony:

    His wife?

    LOL. It makes me wonder if he’s aware of what his kids are doing…

    Scripture give us that answer in Genesis 6: 😉

    1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

    2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

    3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

    4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.



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  • 199
    aquilacane says:

    I’ve always been a little skeptical. I’ve never needed to believe anything, all that bad. When I do accept something, it is always with the understanding that I am accepting this only as the best possible answer so far… there will probably be a better one. Not really knowing what is true and what is not doesn’t get me down. Trying to accept or being forced to accept something that I do not accept, that is depressing. I’m just a witness.



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  • 200
    Agrajag says:

    In reply to #79 by Alan4discussion:

    It is not possible to prove a negative. To illustrate the point:-
    I would be glad to examine any objective evidence you may have of the non-existence of Zeus, Aphrodite, leprechauns, tooth-fairies,. Huitzilopochtli, ‎Xiuhtecuhtli, Thor or Woden!

    OK, I feel I must step in here. As a dentist, I have to assert that the Tooth Fairy exists and is part of “Universal Truth”. I know this because I have been the Tooth Fairy!

    Just don’t tell my children, please!

    Steve



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  • 201
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #201 by Quine:

    In reply to #199 by DHudson:

    In reply to #196 by Marktony:

    His wife?

    LOL. It makes me wonder if he’s aware of what his kids are doing…

    Scripture give us that answer in Genesis 6: 😉

    1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,…

    Ah, but of course. My bad, thanks Quine. 🙂



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  • 202
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #190 by WMcEnaney:

    What caused the ” fully actual actualizer” to exist?

    If He exists, He’s the uncaused cause.

    ..and IF he/she/it, does not exist, sticking a heap of poorly defined adjectives or superlatives on to the claim, adds no evidence to support it, or evidence of the possibility of “uncaused causes”, – Just verbosity and obfuscation, which muddies the waters and generates more semantic ramblings, about the unknown.

    If someone or something caused Him to exist, He wouldn’t be fully actual,

    I created a landscaped garden – it is “fully actual” in the real world! – This is your assertion, not a rational deduction. The words “fully” and “actual” are just words added as semantic make-weights – they do not have any “profound” meaning.

    Various space agencies have created a space-station. – that is “fully actual” as well!

    You are still tangling yourself up in the irrational complexities and vagaries of your own verbosity!

    An infinite regression of creators is more complex and less credible than an infinite regression of universes. It is simply an egocentric/ homocentric antropomorphic projection into the unknown.

    There is no evidence of gods in the observed universe, so the vagueness (which bears no relation to biblical descriptions), is just looking for the ultimate gap for hiding the god-of-gaps!



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  • 203
    bob_e_s says:

    In reply to #205 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #190 by WMcEnaney:

    Why can’t these arguments for god ever be expressed simply? I’d hazard a guess that the semantic play and logic games are a smokescreen.

    Please could you revise your argument so that I can follow it, please? If the existence of god is obvious then it should be able to be expressed in language that everyone can understand.



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  • 204
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #193 by Marktony:

    To WMcEnaney – You refer to it as a He or Him – could he have a wife, who has the potential to be a fully actual actualizer but who never bothers to cause anything?

    Actually she has the potential to cause a great deal of embarrasment to monotheistic biblical literalists, – but most of them are not bothered, as they only listen to stories from preachers, and don’t know any researched bible history anyway:-

    Asherah is a Semitic Mother Goddess, wife and consort of the Ugaritic El. Many modern scholars of ancient Israelite mythology suggest, in part based on Jeremiah’s claim that she is the Queen of Heaven, she was the wife or consort to the warrior god/sky god, Yahweh. Assuming this is true, this makes her the victim of a horrible editing job by later monotheists and chauvinists. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Asherah



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  • 205
    jonaswl says:

    In reply to #89 by Alan4discussion:

    “I think, therefore I am.” – I think!

    This phrase from Descartes actually captures the point of my question. Can you trust your senses? If what you call reality is in fact a dream, then it must mean that you are dreaming. If you are dreaming, then you must be alive.
    The thing is that, in order to talk about evidence, we state that what our senses tell us is real. The same goes for all sorts of equipment used in for example laboratories. Machines can measure and calculate but it is us as observers who state that the output is true.
    With that in mind can we then ever talk about real evidence?



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  • 206
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #208 by jonaswl:

    In reply to #89 by Alan4discussion:

    “I think, therefore I am.” – I think!

    This phrase from Descartes actually captures the point of my question. Can you trust your senses? If what you call reality is in fact a dream, then it must mean that you are dreaming. . . ..
    The same goes for all sorts of equipment used in for example laboratories. Machines can measure and calculate but it is us as observers who state that the output is true. With that in mind can we then ever talk about real evidence?

    Anyone who does not understand that perceptions can be matched to reality, is in no position to discuss anything with anyone. The reality of gravity etc painfully “bites” anyone who does not believe in it. Philosophical deepities are amusing, but those who do not keep their feet on the ground, have a habit of falling off the cliff!



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  • 207
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #208 by jonaswl:

    In reply to #89 by Alan4discussion:

    “I think, therefore I am.” – I think!

    This phrase from Descartes actually captures the point of my question. Can you trust your senses? If what you call reality is in fact a dream, then it must mean that you are dreaming. If you are dreaming, then you must be al…

    A better question would be what is real evidence, based on your position? If this is about the inability to trust the senses, and our observations of our technology are dependent on those very senses where is your starting point to establish ‘real evidence’?

    Our senses give us a basic picture to start from, and those senses give the same basic information to everyone, barring disorders and conditions that hinder them. But our ability to perceive and interact with reality starts from what we observe. Every person relies on the same things to survive. Knowledge about reality is about understanding what we know and building upon it. There has to be a starting point.

    Real evidence has to represent something that is true regardless of what our senses tell us. Elements that we can’t sense are observable in different environments. Events that we couldn’t be around to see can be traced using observations of what exists now. In most instances these things aren’t based around what we sense, but what we deduce. Our senses are tools to deduce things and act based on those deductions.

    Which is why it’s a good thing science relies heavily on peer review and multiple testing to verify the truth or falsehood of a given postulate. Using the machines in question prevents us from letting our senses dictate what we think is true, by allowing us to observe in ways we could not previously. If our observations are wrong, then our understanding has to change, but in science that is based on peers observing the data and agreeing that the conclusion is the most reasonable.

    Knowledge isn’t an game with just the random firing of faulty senses, it’s a process. Statements like the Descartes quote are one step in that process.



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  • 208
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    In reply to #197 by Nitya:

    In reply to #194 by WMcEnaney:
    Says who? Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the bible, so who thinks it up?

    Hey Nitya,

    I think it’s from internal revelation, but as a car guy, I know what happens when you over-rev your engine – you get a bunch of discordant and unusual sounds, then all your power dissipates….8-) Mac.



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  • 209
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #210 by achromat666:

    I think the anti-science criticisms are based on the mistaken belief that science has to be perfect and unbeatable, or it’s useless, therefore religion fills the gap. The point isn’t that science is perfect or unbeatable – just posit a world in which you are a brain in a jar being deceived by a bunch of clever scientists into seeing a virtual world – but that it is better than anything else offered as an alternative. Religion doesn’t even come close.



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  • 210
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #211 by CdnMacAtheist:

    I think it’s from internal revelation, but as a car guy, I know what happens when you over-rev your engine – you get a bunch of discordant and unusual sounds, then all your power dissipates…

    .. As the head blows a gasket and sprays gunge all over the place!



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  • 211
    Marktony says:

    “Says who? Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the bible, so who thinks it up?”

    No it’s not in the bible. Religious apologists often don’t claim the bible as a source of knowledge because it can seen for what it is by anyone with a basic education. It was written by men in a place and time when women were the property of men, slavery was acceptable (even the norm), people could be stoned to death for trivial crimes (or so-called crimes), murdering your own people was frowned upon but slaughtering other tribes was perfectly acceptable, the stars & sun & moon resided in heaven etc etc.

    So they tend to avoid referencing the bible. Especially on sites such as this, where many atheists are ex-theists and a significant contribution to their loss of faith was a thorough reading of the bible. There have been various modern translations with more basic language and less literal interpretations but the problem is the core content is just not good enough – have you heard the expression “you can’t polish a turd”?

    Often they will turn to the natural world and say something like “when you look at that beautiful blue sky how can you deny God’s creation”. But now children are taught at school how different wavelengths of light are scattered in the atmosphere and how the stars and planets were formed. So the christian apologist is having to look further afield (even to the beginning of the universe) to find questions that science can’t answer – of course the scientific hypotheses attempting to answer even these difficult questions (like “why is there something and not nothing”) are preferable to the answer “God did it”.

    Another approach the christian might take is to combine some very long-winded and complicated philosophical arguments with a generous sprinkling of making stuff up.

    In reply to #197 by Nitya:

    In reply to #194 by WMcEnaney:

    No, because a fully actual being is always fully actual without any potential. Someone or something with potential could change. If God exists, He can’t change in any way, not even in principle. That’s why He prevents the vicious infinite regress of causes.
    In repl…



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  • 213
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #180 by joehev:

    In reply to #169 by DHudson:

    God is inside each person and each person is inside God and each person is God. Of course, that is only my opinion. If I am wrong, perhaps, one day, science will prove me so. Thus far, it can’t.

    I think this idea of God is very far from OT/NT/Koranic faith. It is I think an extreme form of pantheism. As such, I am unsure how in practice it might differ from atheistic materialism. For unless joehev imputes intelligence or purpose to the universe (=Truth=God), I think his position can be expressed as a set of coherent assertions – albeit with some severe rewording

    His core belief seems to be: God is Truth.

    He might also be saying:

    I believe there is Universe [ie not solipsism]
    I believe the Universe is knowable [ie objectivism, science, is possible]
    I believe in Truth [=God]
    Truth is everything that is or has been [ie the historic Universe]
    Everything that is not known can still exist [belief in God=Truth=reality]

    However. much earlier in the thread, joehev said something to the effect that truth is what people think is true. I would agree with that – and I think others would, hence the preference for ‘reality’ as a term. Truth is a very slippery concept and dubious, unless one asserts that truth can exist outside minds (which is odd as one usually thinks of ‘true statements, / beliefs etc], or that people can know reality directly [which flies in the face of the mediation of the senses, otictal illusions, etc etc)

    I think also joehev had been ‘Humptydumptying’ – using words to mean what he wants them to which, which naturally severely impedes useful debate.

    In reply to #167 by joehev:

    The evidence lies inside each person. I arriv…



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  • 214
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #212 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #210 by achromat666:

    I think the anti-science criticisms are based on the mistaken belief that science has to be perfect and unbeatable, or it’s useless, therefore religion fills the gap. The point isn’t that science is perfect or unbeatable – just posit a world in which you are a brain…

    Absolutely, the idea of this perfect system is accepted because of the ideas in their religion therefore any alternatives have to conform to that standard, regard of how unrealistic that standard is.

    It always frightens to see what happens when people stop attempting to work things out and accept falsehoods as fact.



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  • 215
    DHudson says:

    In reply to #217 by achromat666:

    Absolutely, the idea of this perfect system is accepted because of the ideas in their religion therefore any alternatives have to conform to that standard, regard of how unrealistic that standard is.
    It always frightens to see what happens when people stop attempting to work things out and accept falsehoods as fact.

    The idea of perfection is one of the most destructive concepts imo.

    I have never heard of a definition of perfection that is perfect.



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  • 216
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    In reply to #213 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #211 by CdnMacAtheist:
    In reply to #197 by Nitya: Says who? Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the bible, so who thinks it up?

    I think it’s from internal revelation, but as a car guy, I know what happens when you over-rev your engine – you get a bunch of discordant and unusual sounds, then all your power dissipates…

    … As the head blows a gasket and sprays gunge all over the place!

    … Although, due to built-up inertia, the crank keeps torquing, not realizing its weak support structure has had terminal holes blown through it…. 8-)))



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  • 218
    WMcEnaney says:

    Can an infinitely tall pile of books exist from moment to moment when each book gets its support from one or more books under it?



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  • 219
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #221 by WMcEnaney:

    Can an infinitely tall pile of books exist from moment to moment when each book gets its support from one or more books under it?

    No!
    (The need for support implies gravity derived from {planetary?} mass.)
    Infinite piles of anything are impossible in these circumstances.
    Even large piles would fail in Compressive strength at the base.

    Strange question?????



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  • 220
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #222 by Alan4discussion:

    Even large piles would fail in Compressive strength at the base.

    Not to mention their tendency to collapse into black holes.



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  • 221
    achromat666 says:

    Can an infinitely tall pile of books exist from moment to moment when each book gets its support from one or more books under it?

    If this is an attempt to assert that an infinite universe cannot sustain itself without some form of guidance or stabilizing force, it has many problems:

    1. We can’t say with any certainty that the universe is infinite. Certainly vast but to say it has infinite space is speculation at best.

    2. If you’re attempting to assert the guiding or creative force as being the stabilizer, you haven’t proven it or established either it’s necessity or the ability to know its intent.

    3. Such a force would still need to be proven to be capable of being self sustaining and uncreated which you have asserted and obviously cannot prove.

    4. You would need to demonstrate that the qualities of said force would not be applicable to the universe itself.

    However you have the structure of things pictured, putting a deity of any sort in doesn’t solve the evidence issue.



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  • 222
    WMcEnaney says:

    What’s the point of my question about an infinitely tall books where each book gets support from one or more books under it? It’s that to avoid an vicious infinite regress of supporters, support needs to come from an unsupported supporter that doesn’t need anything to support it. If it could stop existing, it would need a supporter, too.



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  • 223
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #225 by WMcEnaney:

    What’s the point of my question about an infinitely tall books where each book gets support from one or more books under it? It’s that to avoid an vicious infinite regress of supporters, support needs to come from an unsupported supporter that doesn’t need anything to support it. If it could stop e…

    I’m going to repost my last post here because your response patently ignores it…

    If this is an attempt to assert that an infinite universe cannot sustain itself without some form of guidance or stabilizing force, it has many problems:

    1. We can’t say with any certainty that the universe is infinite. Certainly vast but to say it has infinite space is speculation at best.

    2. If you’re attempting to assert the guiding or creative force as being the stabilizer, you haven’t proven it or established either it’s necessity or the ability to know its intent.

    3. Such a force would still need to be demonstrated to be capable of being self sustaining and uncreated which you have asserted and obviously cannot prove. (edited from first iteration)

    4. You would need to demonstrate that the qualities of said force would not be applicable to the universe itself.

    However you have the structure of things pictured, putting a deity of any sort in doesn’t solve the evidence issue.

    You are in essence using examples to create a problem, then attempting to posit your theism as the only reasonable answer, except it is neither plausible for the reasons I’ve already mentioned and not demonstrable in any practical way.

    The best you can possibly do, the best anyone could do at this point is say what anyone examining the raw data would tell you, no one knows how all this started. What you pose is little more than a god of the gaps argument that has no way of being verified. And arguing that your god has to be uncreated to be the cause doesn’t prove that he even exists. You’re right where you started, without an answer to the question.

    At least be honest enough to say it.



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  • 224
    achromat666 says:

    And to further my point, let me go in further depth with this statement I just made:

    You are in essence using examples to create a problem, then attempting to posit your theism as the only reasonable answer, except it is neither plausible for the reasons I’ve already mentioned and not demonstrable in any practical way.

    This means the problem you refer to is purely a theistic one: that of infinite regress. All your arguments hinge on finding a way to posit a god at the beginning of things without falling into that trap. And only religions have this problem because only they claim special knowledge of a deity of any variety and feel the need to usurp science to give that deity any credibility (hence god of the gaps).

    Science doesn’t need the postulate because science isn’t posing it. We know far more about how the universe works now than we did a mere century ago thanks to scientific advance. And no one in credible science is making claims about a cause of the universe before the big bang. This is because no one knows, and science is ok with that. That’s how the process works.

    Theism is incapable of functioning in this way because it can’t move past the notion of its doctrines being perfect and absolute despite all evidence to the contrary. So somehow the round peg has to fit into the square hole. Hence this postulate you have trying to solve the unsolvable issues of infinite regress.

    You do realize that even if you were to get past this point you would still have to demonstrate that said creative force fits any viable definition of god, to say nothing of showing it’s still active and imposes anything vaguely resembling its will on anyone?

    Admitting what we don’t know is the first step to learning.



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  • 225
    WMcEnaney says:

    There’s no God of the gaps argument here. My argument may have theological implications. But there’s a big difference between saying that it may them and saying that since I don’t know of any naturalistic explanation for something, God explains it. Science may be able to explain every natural event, but can it explain why there’s anything at all? The big bang may not be even a temporally first cause, since it may have begun because another universe imploded. If that’s why the big bang happened, what caused the imploded on to exist before its implosion, another implosion? If God explains why there’s something rather than nothing, he also explains why science can explain whatever it can explain.
    In reply to #227 by achromat666:

    And to further my point, let me go in further depth with this statement I just made:

    You are in essence using examples to create a problem, then attempting to posit your theism as the only reasonable answer, except it is neither plausible for the reasons I’ve already mentioned and not demonstrable…



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  • 226
    achromat666 says:

    There’s no God of the gaps argument here. My argument may have theological implications. But there’s a big difference between saying that it may them and saying that since I don’t know of any naturalistic explanation for something, God explains it.

    Each example you have given is based around dismantling the issue of infinite regress to insert a creative force or agent, which yes has obvious theological implications if a single one could be proven (which they can’t). What exactly would be the point of arguing something that only has theistic implications if not to insert god as your answer, which is the definition of the god of the gaps argument?

    Science may be able to explain every natural event, but can it explain why there’s anything at all? The big bang may not be even a temporally first cause, since it may have begun because another universe imploded. If that’s why the big bang happened, what caused the imploded on to exist before its implosion, another implosion? If God explains why there’s something rather than nothing, he also explains why science can explain

    You missed the point of my second post responding to yours, where I said science doesn’t know, but that is part of the process of discovery. An honest and reasoned approach to examine what is to further discover what we do not know. You can’t do that by putting a god in place with no evidence he exists. This is putting the cart before the horse.

    Additionally, I have put down a number of points that are still outstanding even if you managed to get past this point, which isn’t at all likely. There has yet to be a reasoned and agreed upon definition of what god would even be, so just throwing it in as the best explanation does nothing for your case. Then how do you discern if it is in fact the deity you worship? Then how do you demonstrate being able to discern its will?

    A play at putting your version of god in the mix doesn’t begin to cover all the issues your position presents.



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  • In reply to #225 by WMcEnaney:

    What’s the point of my question about an infinitely tall books where each book gets support from one or more books under it? It’s that to avoid an vicious infinite regress of supporters, support needs to come from an unsupported supporter that doesn’t need anything to support it. If it could stop e…

    This sounds suspiciously like the ‘turtles all the way ‘ down reply. I realise that you meant to illustrate your point by way of analogy, but I find these analogies become really tiresome. It’s a technique employed with monotonous regularity by those trying to explain a theological point.
    ‘Enough with the analogies, already!’ I find it a very poor method of exposition.



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  • 228
    WMcEnaney says:

    Nitya, please feel free to ignore my analogies and anything else that I post. If the the message board includes Ignore Lists, the server will hide posts by any user whose screen name you add to your Ignore List. You’re welcome to shave my stuff with Occham’s Razor, since I’m sure you like a parsimonious ontology. 🙂In reply to #230 by Nitya:

    In reply to #225 by WMcEnaney:

    What’s the point of my question about an infinitely tall books where each book gets support from one or more books under it? It’s that to avoid an vicious infinite regress of supporters, support needs to come from an unsupported supporter that doesn’t need anything t…



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  • 229
    WMcEnaney says:

    Acro, I’m not even wondering whether the universe is infinite. So It’s free to expand as much as it “likes.” The point about the analogy about desks, cups and so forth is partly that a viciously infinite regress of causes can’t explain anything. After all, it’s logically impossible to reach the end of an infinitely long chain of causes. Besides, you already know why self-causation is another logical impossibility.

    You seem to think about empirical evidence when you use the word “prove.” If that’s the only proof you’ll accept, then you won’t accept any philosophical “proofs” of what I’m trying to tell you. Which reminds me of another point that Professor Krauss and some other scientists have implied while I’ve heard them talk: Scientific inductive arguments aren’t proofs. The essential difference between deduction and and induction is this: Sound deductive arguments are conclusive, and inductive arguments are always inconclusive when they support their conclusions. There’s only one way to get conclusive evidence with a scientific inductive argument: Find a counterexample to the conclusion.



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  • 230
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #232 by WMcEnaney:

    Acro, I’m not even wondering whether the universe is infinite. So It’s free to expand as much as it “likes.” The point about the analogy about desks, cups and so forth is partly that a viciously infinite regress of causes can’t explain anything. After all, it’s logically impossible to reach the e…

    Except that your inductive argument in not supportable, and nothing you’ve said demonstrates the necessity of any deity, much less the one of your faith. Putting an uncaused cause in the beginning and calling it god is not an answer, it’s special pleading.

    As I’ve already said, even if you’re able to offer something resembling evidence for a creative force (instead of being honest and simply admitting you don’t know, because you don’t) the term god may not even apply, and there would be no way to discern intent of imposing will or that it even affects the universe beyond a single event. None of your examples or theories even offer inductive evidence of god as an uncaused cause. Merely that your solution to this theistic problem is god.

    Funny that you mention self causation being an impossibility but still remain stuck on a god being the primal, uncaused and therefore self caused cause for your position. After all, what else would something uncaused be but self caused? If the universe cannot be self caused, then how can the god you wish to posit be?

    You also haven’t demonstrated by the way, how this isn’t a god of the gaps argument. Regardless of the reasoning for drawing your conclusion it still boils down to exactly that.



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  • 231
    achromat666 says:

    You seem to think about empirical evidence when you use the word “prove.” If that’s the only proof you’ll accept, then you won’t accept any philosophical “proofs” of what I’m trying to tell you.

    Trying to establish god in an area where neither science or philosophy has any answers is not proof of any sort. Do you have the ability to measure things before time started? Do you think your religion is the only one that posits darkness before the universe started, and somehow think that if your position were true that your god would be the only valid one? Are a single one of these inductively true? No.

    An uncaused cause is a postulate, one that has no inductive evidence because of infinite regress which is what you’re trying to explain away because it obviously hurts your position when attempting to put a god there. Which isn’t how science (or inductive reasoning) works by the way.

    Which reminds me of another point that Professor Krauss and some other scientists have implied while I’ve heard them talk: Scientific inductive arguments aren’t proofs. The essential difference between deduction and and induction is this: Sound deductive arguments are conclusive, and inductive arguments are always inconclusive when they support their conclusions. There’s only one way to get conclusive evidence with a scientific inductive argument: Find a counterexample to the conclusion.

    And your counterexample is what? The current existing universe itself? You realize that none of your examples may even be valid when attempting to deduce (or induce) what happened before the universe started, don’t you?

    Using inductive reasoning doesn’t equal god, that’s your attempt to put god where it has no place. An uncaused cause doesn’t equal god because it would be impossible to define the properties of said cause if it could even exist. Your use of god in any instance regarding this subject is suspect from the get go.



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  • In reply to #231 by WMcEnaney:

    Nitya, please feel free to ignore my analogies and anything else that I post. If the the message board includes Ignore Lists, the server will hide posts by any user whose screen name you add to your Ignore List. You’re welcome to shave my stuff with Occham’s Razor, since I’m sure you like a parsim…

    Were I to put your comments on an “ignore” list, I wouldn’t have anyone to debate, and I really enjoy the cut and thrust of putting forth my point of view.

    Now, back to the uncaused cause, unsupported supporter, fully actualised actualiser. I think you’ve mistaken the whole idea of infinite regress. It’s not a solution to anything, it’s merely a way of highlighting the fallacy of the first cause argument. ( I hope I’m right here. That’s my understanding anyway.) In asking what created the creator, the atheist is saying that it’s not a valid argument. It solves nothing. Even bigger problems are posed than are answered by dropping in an entity to do the creating.



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  • 233
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #225 by WMcEnaney:

    @222 – (The need for support implies gravity derived from {planetary?} mass.)
    Infinite piles of anything are impossible in these circumstances.
    Even large piles would fail in Compressive strength at the base.

    Strange question?????

    What’s the point of my question about an infinitely tall books where each book gets support from one or more books under it?

    That is a pure imaginary hypothetical disconnect from reality, which has ignored the answer I have already given you!

    It’s that to avoid an vicious infinite regress of supporters, support needs to come from an unsupported supporter that doesn’t need anything to support it.

    It’s that to avoid a [vicious???] paradox of infinite regress of [absent imiginary] supporters, support needs to come from an unsupported argument that claims it doesn’t need anything to support it. It is a terrible attempt at an analogy, which simply tries to duck the argument infinite regression!

    I explained clearly that your hypothetical pile of books had to be SUPPORTED by a (planetery) body with gravity, or no support is required, as the books would be weigtless. The concept of a planet with a column of maufactured books projecting from it to beyond the galaxy is a bizarre impossibility. The books would be supported by the planet at the base of the column (as far as it was possible to support a large column.)

    There is of course no evidence that an “infinite quantity” of anything can exist. The term is simply being used as a meaningless sematic sticker to beg the subsequent questions you have invented.

    As Peter Grant points out @223, a huge mass of books (or anything else) in the (presence or) absence of a planet, would collapse under their own gravity into a black hole.

    **Even the starting point of your analogy does not make sense! **

    If it could stop existing, it would need a supporter, too.

    Weightless non-existence requires “support”??? – Do you read what you write, or do the faith-blinkers provide enough confirmation bias to blot out all rational thinking??



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  • 234
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    Nitya: Says who? Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the bible, so who thinks it up?

    CMA: I think it’s from internal revelation, but as a car guy, I know what happens when you over-rev your engine – you get a bunch of discordant and unusual sounds, then all your power dissipates…

    A4D: … As the head blows a gasket and sprays gunge all over the place!

    CMA: … Although, due to built-up inertia, the crank keeps torquing, not realizing its weak support structure has had terminal holes blown through it…. 8-)))

    CMA: 40 hrs later, the crank is still torquing, with more spin action, despite red light alerts from several output gauges. If this engine used real physics it would be scrap by now – maybe showing that ‘super-special-stuff’ was used while forging this crank case…. 8-)))



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  • 235
    WMcEnaney says:

    Nitya said something like, “Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the Bible.” Is it there? Maybe because John 1:1 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” St. John uses the word “him” to describe the Word and tells us that “without Him, i.e., the Word, nothing was made that was made.” “In the beginning” may mean “when the universe began to exist.” Say it does mean that. Then St. John implies that there are at least two divine Persons and that the Word helped make the universe. That’s perfectly consistent with the idea that the universe needs and will always need a sustainer, God perhaps.

    Metaphysical naturalists seem to believe that with enough time and enough progress, science will explain everything, maybe even why there’s anything at all. Since scientific research will always be partly inductive, science will keep searching for explanations for natural events, and each new discovery will reveal more events that need explanation. However much science explains, there may always be more to for it to explain.

    For fun, let’s suppose that the universe consists of everything that exists. Things change in it. Some things come to be and pass away. An implosion causes a big bang to cause a new part of the universe. That new part causes another big bang when it implodes. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. So the question is whether the universe’s existing is just an unexplainable brute fact. Maybe the universe only happens to exist uncaused. If it does, what would show that it does? I can’t think of anything that would or even could show that it does. Add the Gaia hypothesis to the idea that the universe just happens to exist uncaused, and you’ll get something much like pantheism.

    Acro thinks that it makes no sense to say that everything has a starting point. If the universe just happens to exist, then although people, animals and things come to be and pass away both in scientifically explainable ways, the universe, as a whole, has no starting point.

    What’s more reasonable, the idea that our complex, intricate, fascinating universe just happens to exist or that, even if it has always existed, it still always has depended and always will depend on a necessarily existing uncaused cause to sustain it? With their limitless naturalistic optimism, many scientists believe that given enough time and enough scientific progress, science will explain everything in the natural world. But if they’re searching for the cause of the whole universe when the universe merely happens to exist, they’re on a potentially non-vicious infinite regress that could disprove that optimism.

    Creation out of nothing is, however, perfectly consistent with the idea that the universe always has and always will exist. Atheistic scientists dismiss creation out of nothing because they, or some of them, assume that creation implies a literal interpretation of Genesis’s six 24-hour(?) days. But theists don’t need to assume that. God creates by willing things into existence. So if the universe always has existed and always will exist, that may be because He wills its existence everlasting.

    Since I believe that everyone at this board is sincere, I assume that our atheistic friends aren’t demolishing straw men. I assume that they’re not deliberately misinterpreting theism. But let me borrow part of what Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s point when he tells us, “The Catholic Church’s enemies don’t hate it. They hate their misconceptions about it.” Maybe some well-meaning, sincere atheists are criticizing their misconceptions about theism, partly because they get much of their information from over-simplified fundamentalist interpretations of it. Philosophical and theological sophistication can help even atheists. They don’t need to believe theological opinions. Still, understanding those opinions may help them justify their doubts about them. As Banjolvie noticed, I’ve already admitted that Catholic doctrine might be false. That might convince you to call me an “agnostic theist.” Before you decide whether to label me with that phrase, remember epistemological fallibilism. Epistemological fallibilists believe that, even if every truth we know might have been a falsehood, we can still gain genuine knowledge. I can be an epistemological fallibilist who knows that there’s a God. Is anyone agnostic about anything that he already knows fallibilistically?

    Nitya where I “get that stuff.” Well, I can discover a vicious infinite regress, even if I always ignore the Bible. Don’t assume that to believe that there’s an uncaused cause, I need to have read even one page of the Bible.



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  • 236
    achromat666 says:

    Maybe because John 1:1 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” St. John uses the word “him” to describe the Word and tells us that “without Him, i.e., the Word, nothing was made that was made.” “In the beginning” may mean “when the universe began to exist.” Say it does mean that. Then St. John implies that there are at least two divine Persons and that the Word helped make the universe.

    And in the Norse tradition everything came from Ginnungap, in Greek, it was the Chaos the gave birth to Darkness and Night (Erebus and Nyx) and in the Babylonian it was the sweet and salty water of Tiamat and Apsu. Always the inference of the known coming out of the unknown. What makes your tradition more accurate exactly?

    That’s perfectly consistent with the idea that the universe needs and will always need a sustainer, God perhaps.

    Did you forget that you haven’t established that an uncaused cause is valid much less a sustainer? Why exactly does the universe require something to sustain it after the big Bang? Where is your evidence (deductive or inductive) of this?

    Acro thinks that it makes no sense to say that everything has a starting point. If the universe just happens to exist, then although people, animals and things come to be and pass away both in scientifically explainable ways, the universe, as a whole, has no starting point.

    No, I’ve said you have no way of knowing what happened at the beginning, and that trying to throw in your uncaused cause (god) is proof of nothing. I said we don’t have any answers, and pretending to have them serves no useful purpose. Whether things have a starting point or not, to say the initial catalyst is uncaused is spurious at best. It’s an estimation of something you have no way of knowing.

    Additionally, did you forget about the whole infinite regress you completely didn’t eliminate with your position?

    What’s more reasonable, the idea that our complex, intricate, fascinating universe just happens to exist or that, even if it has always existed, it still always has depended and always will depend on a necessarily existing uncaused cause to sustain it? With their limitless naturalistic optimism, many scientists believe that given enough time and enough scientific progress, science will explain everything in the natural world. But if they’re searching for the cause of the whole universe when the universe merely happens to exist, they’re on a potentially non-vicious infinite regress that could disprove that optimism.

    What’s more reasonable, that you continue to throw out uncaused cause without addressing the infinite regress issue in any meaningful way, or that you continue to position your deity as the only solution to that problem? The answer by the way is that neither are reasonable.

    And how do you suppose your position is more valid than science exactly? You have yet to offer a position that even passes for basic inductive evidence.

    Once again, being completely honest, you don’t know. You obviously have this unprovable idea that you cling to because it fits your theistic understanding of things but it is in no way more valid than what science has produced. Science can estimate that it can find any number of things but it actually has a proven track record (a quite stellar one) of coming up with answers and improving both our understanding of the world and universe and improving our lives in countless ways. Shall we track what your uncaused cause argument has given us aside from a headache?

    Creation out of nothing is, however, perfectly consistent with the idea that the universe always has and always will exist. Atheistic scientists dismiss creation out of nothing because they, or some of them, assume that creation implies a literal interpretation of Genesis’s six 24-hour(?) days. But theists don’t need to assume that. God creates by willing things into existence. So if the universe always has existed and always will exist, that may be because He wills its existence everlasting.

    Hmm, and yet you still haven’t addressed what I mentioned about self created and uncreated essentially representing the same idea, you simply lean hard on uncreated so your god fits. If god does not require creating, why does the universe? Saying self creation is impossible doesn’t make uncausation any less so.

    Can you use inductive reasoning to demonstrate not only a creative force but also demonstrate that it still interacts with the universe, that it’s in fact your object of worship and that you can demonstrate being able to discern what he wants or requires? No, otherwise you would have a long time ago. This is you projecting your faith on a theory that doesn’t work because you really, really want it to. Rationalize it however you wish.

    Since I believe that everyone at this board is sincere, I assume that our atheistic friends aren’t demolishing straw men. I assume that they’re not deliberately misinterpreting theism. But let me borrow part of what Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s point when he tells us, “The Catholic Church’s enemies don’t hate it. They hate their misconceptions about it.” Maybe some well-meaning, sincere atheists are criticizing their misconceptions about theism, partly because they get much of their information from over-simplified fundamentalist interpretations of it. Philosophical and theological sophistication can help even atheists. They don’t need to believe theological opinions.

    Wow, way to generalize and condescend. While I’ve already said this many times in this thread already, no 2 atheists are exactly alike. We come from many backgrounds (including many ex catholics) and have different levels of expertise on theistic arguments based on that. My background is different from Nitya’s, Alan’s, DHudsons, and everyone else that has responded to your posts. Don’t lump us all into one group, it’s disrespectful.

    And I’m addressing your claims based on what you’re expressing here, which you haven’t demonstrated isn’t a god of the gaps argument. However eloquent and philosophical you may phrase it it still boils down to you trying to introduce an idea that no one agrees is valid as a door to insert your god. That is exactly what god of the gaps means.

    Nitya where I “get that stuff.” Well, I can discover a vicious infinite regress, even if I always ignore the Bible. Don’t assume that to believe that there’s an uncaused cause, I need to have read even one page of the Bible.

    And yet everytime you mention it you always manage to throw in how plausible your god is, isn’t that convenient?

    If you wished to mention your uncaused cause argument you could have very easily had a conversation without making any mention of god at all. Uncaused cause does not equal omni-creator and sustainer, the position only postulates that something had to start the process. That cause doesn’t even have to be sentient. But once again it still suffers from the issues of infinite regress.

    So, sure you didn’t have to mention the bible when throwing out this theory, but your god has been all over this at every turn. It hasn’t been merely ‘my position is sound’, it’s been ‘my position is sound and my god is the only plausible solution.’

    Do not accuse us of being biased or unreasonable (however politely) if you can’t admit you simply don’t know, but want to believe that you god is the answer. You have an idea. We don’t agree with that idea and we’ve given multiple reasons why. It doesn’t mean we don’t understand, it doesn’t mean we’re being obfuscating or insulting. It means we don’t agree. That’s it.



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  • 237
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #238 by WMcEnaney:

    Metaphysical naturalists seem to believe that with enough time and enough progress, science will explain everything, maybe even why there’s anything at all. Since scientific research will always be partly inductive, science will keep searching for explanations for natural events, and each new discovery will reveal more events that need explanation. However much science explains, there may always be more to for it to explain.

    I always find it ironic that theists who point out that science only(?) has a very substantial set of answers to questions about the physical nature of the universe, claim that this somehow allows their utter absence of any credible explanations of unknown areas, to allow wild speculations on the grounds that their understanding is so limited that they can’t think of any other possibility than “God-did-it-by-mysterious-magic”!

    It is the old fallacy that science does not understand everything – therefore it understands nothing, while a theist view picked from millions of utterly remote possibilities, which has nothing to support it, must be treated as credible – no matter how remote the possibility of it may be.

    The “unevolved, uncaused, giant magic fairy did it”, is just about as unlikely a possibility as you can find – as an explanation of a physical phenomena!



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  • In reply to #238 by WMcEnaney:

    Nitya said something like, “Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the Bible.” Is it there? Maybe because John 1:1 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” St. John uses the word “him” to describe the Word and tells us that “without Him, i.e., th…

    I’ve leant a lot in the twelve months since joining this site, but it’s not all science and debating tactics. The most significant finding is the fact that there are so many out there who are privy to a whole suite of beliefs completely unknown to me.

    Growing up culturally Christian at the very least, I thought that my knowledge of Christianity was comprehensive . I’ve discovered that there are many in the community with a completely different set of influences. Hence, my surprise at the whole uncaused cause etc school of reasoning.

    I have no high regard for the ‘wisdom’ of people like St Thomas Aquinas et al, so I have no need to accommodate their philosophies into my world view. Science answers all the big questions for me and I suspect that the combination of science and secular thought will continue to make the world a better place in the future.



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  • 239
    jburnforti says:

    I confess my ignorance or stupidity – I don’t understand why infinite regress is seen as so significant to this debate. First, and perhaps less important, infinite regress or very similar occurs often enough without causing havoc; indeed, the standard illustration of that is easy to create yourself by placing 2 mirrors face to face. Then Mandelbot’s fractals are somewhat in the same area and Pi and other numbers offer something of the same maddening inconclusiveness even if not infinite regresses. Yet we can cope perfectly well and even make use of them. And while it’s a long time since I read Hofstadter, I’m sure I remember that the recursive “I” played a crucial part in his approach to Consciousness and AI. So I can’t help questioning whether infinite regress might not be useful in our thinking.
    Second, and more important (to me) is my conviction that mindset changes will, and will have to, take place for us to move at least to the next level. To give an example, though to me an unappealiing one, if the proposal quite often seen at this website that we’re a kind of machine were to become widespread, the general mindset would change drastically. Anyway, irrespective of that example, until science sees its job as to become more philosophical and less materialistic, I don’t think it’ll be science ” that”ll take you where you wanna go” (Mama Cass). And, no, I am an atheist so the woo part of the vagueness criticism won’t apply.



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  • 240
    jburnforti says:

    Sorry, re-reading the last, the second part didn’t quite say what I meant. I meant to say that I don’t expect the Universe to be as susceptible to our rules for understanding it as we’d like and will be quite likely to remain opaque about the biggest questions to Science’s structured and materialistic approach. And I suspect the interest of the Big Bang is only for a very particular group of people. The questions most people would like answered by Big Bang enthusiasts won’t have anything to do with the answers they will get. And, yes, I do respect Science’s enormous achievements and, yes, the Scientific method is the best one for a multitude of things. But, if the argument were to rest on that, while I’m far more appreciative than critical of the scientific method, it wouldn’t be difficult to find many of Science’s creations we’d have been far better off without. Meanwhile, I assert, for what little that may be worth, that Science is not where most people will look for the answers to their big questions. As an example of that (and to show that, if nothing else, I’ve been paying attention) , Alan4discussion has made several references on several threads to neuro-scientific investigation into the God Spot (my attenuated version – excuse me); once discovered, let’s suppose, it may well help to explain why people believe in gods etc; but it will have nothing to do with disproving the idea which will, surely, continue to have to come from discussions like these. And so I believe that thinking will remain our way to understanding the big questions and that that is something not done any better by Science than any other discipline. Oh dear, I think I’m rambling. If so, Ardbeg has quite rightly been voted World’s Best Single Malt 3 times running.



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  • 241
    nick keighley says:

    […] One might say that everything – religion, science, etc. – is based upon premises.

    I consider science to have less premises. Science is based on the premise
    P. there is a real world out there that corresponds to the sensory impressions we receive

    Science consists of systematic observation and the formation of successive hypotheses about the form of the world. Science isn’t “truth”, it’s a slow convergence towards an understanding of the world.

    Religion is less interested in how the world works but in how people work. It adds additional premises about the existence and properties of unobserved entities.

    We – the atheist who believe that science equals truth

    ooo! First, don’t confuse science and atheism. Many scientists are religious. Many atheists are utterly ignorant of science. And this atheist doesn’t believe science is truth. Whatever “truth” is!

    • believe this, because we have set such premises that tells us, that what we can see, smell, touch, etc. is real. Religious people may go further and believe that there are more to the world than our sences can ever tell us. Again it is all about premises. We can never really know for sure what is real and what is not, so how can we in fact be sure that science equals truth and that we as atheist are more right than believers?

    ultimately we the scientist/atheist never can be certain. Only revealed truth leads to certainty. I’d go with a combination of occam’s razor and simple utility. Science may not be true but it works a lot better than any of the alternatives! To the best of my knowledge no one has posted to this formum by prayer!



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  • 242
    nick keighley says:

    In reply to #23 by AlGarnier:

    Truth is constantly evolving from moment to moment throughout the universe.

    no.

    Nothing in the universe is exactly the same as it was before now.

    there’s the same amount of mass-energy. There are several other conservation laws and symetries

    Science is the concentrated effort by humanity to understand why the universe evolves as it does.

    no



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  • 243
    aldous says:

    In reply to #244 by nick keighley:

    Religion is less interested in how the world works but in how people work. It adds additional premises about the existence and properties of unobserved entities.

    Religions, in their origins, sought to explain the origins and nature of the universe. Hence the creation myths. Hence the rules about how to get the forces that governed the universe to work in your favour and to avoid disasters that result from doing the wrong thing. It’s more profitable to think of religion as primitive science than consider it as a competitor with science.



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  • 244
    nick keighley says:

    In reply to #32 by joehev:

    […] Since a large segment of the world’s population believes in some form of God, those beliefs make up the body of universal truth.

    the beliefs are real. What they believe in probably isn’t.

    Whether or not science can be applied to those truths is largely irrelevant.

    no.

    Science has done a good job of [peeling] back the onion of truth one layer at a time, but even science has had to re-phrase its theories on occasion,

    many times! Its one of its defining characteristics! New observations cause theories (models) to be modified.

    so why not religion?

    one of the defining characteristics of religion. Religion resists change even when evidence is under its nose.

    The concept of an Abrahamic God was as true for people of the day as evolution may be to scientists today.

    but for different reasons. Evolution has a vast array of observable evidence behind it.

    What people believe today is as true for them as what their ancestors believed before.

    how well did the internet work then?

    Historical truth is also part of universal truth.

    I don’t really have much time for UT.

    Perhaps, one day religious evolution and scientific understanding may meet on a distant shore

    not in anything like their current form. Either science has to abandon reality (and so cease to be science) or religion has abandon the unreal (and so cease to be what we now know as religion). Perhaps awe in the beauty of nature is near to a religious experience.

    but, to my mind, it is all truth.

    which is why I’m wary of the term. Mathematical theorums can be said to be true. Scientific theories can be a good or a poor description of reality. Most questions of a religious nature are nonsense.

    Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    Be Logically Positive!



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  • 245
    Marktony says:

    Partly agree. Religion was man’s primitive attempt to understand the natural world and get some sense of control over events that greatly effected their lives. But I don’t like to use the phrase “primitive science”. They didn’t know about the scientific method. At that time they had no way of knowing that the world around them could actually be explained by natural phenomena. So they hypothesised supernatural forces which at the time seemed no worse at explaining or predicting things than any alternatives. There were undoubtedly people even in those days who rejected the supernatural and looked for natural explanations.

    Today we have modern science which does explain events and can make predictions. It has achieved a huge amount in a relatively short time to improve our lives and help us understand the world: vaccines and antibiotics, electricity, DNA, evolution, general relativity, the big bang, Higgs particle. We currently have a robot exploring another planet and spacecraft leaving the solar system.

    But we don’t have answers to all the questions – otherwise science would stop. Luckily, our imagination allows us to come up with many hypotheses (or guesses) to try to answer these questions and fortunately we have the scientific method (and scientific knowledge gained over hundreds of years) to test these hypotheses. But there are still people who prefer guessed answers even if they have no supporting evidence and there are people who place great importance to those guessed answers even if the guesses were made thousands of years ago. It’s understandable that many people would prefer to believe the world was created by a God and we are his favourite creation rather than that the world was formed by accretion at about the same time as our star (sun) and life was possible due to the possibly rare (possibly unique) circumstances of our planet.

    In reply to #246 by aldous:

    In reply to #244 by nick keighley:

    Religion is less interested in how the world works but in how people work. It adds additional premises about the existence and properties of unobserved entities.

    Religions, in their origins, sought to explain the origins and nature of the universe. Hence the crea…



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  • 246
    AlGarnier says:

    In reply to #245 by nick keighley:

    In reply to #23 by AlGarnier:

    Truth is constantly evolving from moment to moment throughout the universe.

    no.

    Nothing in the universe is exactly the same as it was before now.

    there’s the same amount of mass-energy. There are several other conservation laws and symetries

    Science is the concentr…

    “No” is rejection of a proposed view and invites further discussion of the proposal. It is usually the basic response of the religious mind to matters their religion cannot explain. Please elaborate on your flagrant rejection!



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  • 247
    ZedBee says:

    Scientists don’t look for “the truth”. That is the reserve of the “faithful”, clueless about their religious beliefs, and neither permitted nor capable of questioning them.

    What scientists do is consider the available facts as they find them, make a considered judgement, arrive at conclusions, submit these for critical review, and move the pool of knowledge a further notch forward. If the data is incomplete or the conclusions are found wanting then other scientists may find more convincing models.

    That is why even something as solid as the Theory of Evolution, or the Quantum Theory, or the Relativity Theory shall always remain theories, and no scientist is arrogant enough to claim them to be “absolute truths” since it is always possible (though unlikely) that some future scientists my find a fault in them and propose modifications.

    Contrast that with the fatal defect of religious beliefs which, once they are sold as “absolute truths”, there is no room left for manoeuvre.

    As far as I know, humanity has never been made to suffer as a consequence of differing scientific opinions. On the other hand, the terrible outcome of contradictory religious “truths” has been too evident throughout the centuries to need elaboration.



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  • 248
    achromat666 says:

    jburnforti,

    It is entirely possible we may never have the answers to all the questions about everything. No one is arguing that science or any other method is going to produce answers for all questions. But science is the most effective method we have of getting actual answers, of grasping concepts that we can relate and use to increase our knowledge of what we already know.

    The fact that we may never get much information on the any events prior to the Big Bang is not a matter of the limitations of science, it’s a matter of the limitations of producing any reliable model that accurately represents the events in question, from any discipline. And I’m a tad confused on the ‘interests in the big bang’ bit of your post. It isn’t a matter of casual interest, it’s the model on which we help build our current understanding of the universe. Whether someone has casual interest or not is irrelevant. Whether someone dismisses it and looks for the answers elsewhere is irrelevant. It doesn’t suddenly disprove it.

    This isn’t about whether anyone is fixed only on science for answers, it’s about science providing the only reliable ones. And no one is arguing whether philosophy can provide any useful purpose, but most of the philosophy quoted here has been for the design of positing a creator deity, which is in no way reliable.

    And on the infinite regress bit, it’s simple: from the position of an uncaused cause argument (specifically as it applies to the discussion), how do you demonstrate something as being uncaused? Just saying it doesn’t make it so, and once again it doesn’t disprove the idea of the universe being self causing. So if we cannot establish something as uncaused then something had to cause it which then produces the issue of infinite regress where you would ask ad infinitum what caused that cause, what caused the cause before, etc. So something being uncaused isn’t much of a solution no matter how you slice it, and saying that infinite regress might be useful does nothing to help the first cause/uncaused argument (and yes I realize you weren’t the one making that point, just trying to cover all bases).

    Lastly, while I certainly have no problem to other ways of thinking to come up with results, whatever method we’re talking about actually needs to give results in order for me to take it seriously. Changing our way of thinking is something science does all the time, so no one is limited to one way of seeing things, per se. And we would have to have a reason to use a given method to except any part of it. Does it give us any useful answers? Does it help us build our understanding of a given subject any better than our current understanding? These things apply regardless of whether someone is using it as an excuse to introduce theology or not.



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  • 249
    jburnforti says:

    Thanks for your comments and please excuse any glitches due to poor formatting skills and, just now, a wi-fi cut out.
    2 points arising out of yours, but in reverse order.
    Infinite regress just seems to me the sort of problem one might expect in dealing with such an enormous issue as, in effect, Everything. But a problem like this with its difficulties for us little humans and the levels of thinking we have so far attained may be no more than one of the six impossible things the Universe thinks of before breakfast ( no, no, I am an atheist, honest, just my way of expressing myself).
    Which leads me to the other point. I think Science, Religion and, perhaps other approaches, need to move on; not only substantively but in approach. Of course, that invites ” Well, jburnforti, easy for you to suggest, where should we start?” I don’t know, any more than I could have suggested where Andrew Wiles should have started with Fermat’s Last Theorem – but once he realised and accepted he needed some as yet uninvented maths, he invented it (without my help!). And so something which was beginning to seem impossible was possible. A Freud, an Einstein, a Marx, a Darwin (whatever one thinks of them) offered the new mindsets which allow of completely new approaches previously hardly thought of or used and hugely difficult problems began, possibly, to offer solutions.
    So, feckless though it may be, I’m not going to support my position by suggesting where we should now be looking. Instead, I’m going to carry on hoping, as an atheist, that Science can find more common ground with approaches which are presently anathema to it.
    In reply to #251 by achromat666:

    jburnforti,

    It is entirely possible we may never have the answers to all the questions about everything. No one is arguing that science or any other method is going to produce answers for all questions. But science is the most effective method we have of getting actual answers, of grasping concepts…



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  • 250
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #243 by jburnforti:

    Alan4discussion has made several references on several threads to neuro-scientific investigation into the God Spot (my attenuated version – excuse me); once discovered, let’s suppose, it may well help to explain why people believe in gods etc; but it will have nothing to do with disproving the idea which will, surely, continue to have to come from discussions like these.

    I don’t follow the thinking here! If we discover and accurately classify the neurology of the god-delusions in brains, how will that have “nothing to do with disproving the idea of (external) gods” roaming the universe and meddling?

    And so I believe that thinking will remain our way to understanding the big questions and that that is something not done any better by Science than any other discipline.

    I think scientific methodology does provide information on the big questions far better than “any other discipline”! Until we had scientific methodology, we had no concept of the unverse, deep-time, or neuropsychology. No other discipline has provided this massively more accurate detailed perspective of our place in the universe, or our thinking about the universe.

    Oh dear, I think I’m rambling. If so, Ardbeg has quite rightly been voted World’s Best Single Malt 3 times running.

    Blame it on the drink!



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  • 251
    jburnforti says:

    Once an idea is up and running, its origins no longer affect its intrinsic merit as an idea. Ideas are not responsive to that sort of test anymore than you can carbon test them for age or decide the maximum number the Universe could accommodate (even if you could arrest the Universe’s expansion). I didn’t mean, though, to suggest that examining their origins is a waste of time since, in fact, I’d argue the very opposite albeit, I infer, for slightly different reasons than yours. In other words, I would want to separate neurological examination of ideas’ origins from their intellectual value. If one doesn’t, where would it stop? Because then any idea is up for grabs but IMO for wrong and possibly dangerous reasons: the Gay Gene idea springs to mind. Too, would it be any more effective in ridding the world of the god delusion? “You’re nuts and now I can prove it” doesn’t sound any better to me than Sweet Reason. Still, either way, I do see that it’s important research. I have no quarrel at all with scientific methodology and I agree with the value you give it. I’m hoping that some of science’s objectives may change and that Einstein’s remark about wanting to see into the mind of God (his capital G, not mine, I think) could colour that. So that, while like him I am no deist, I don’t like to think of science as having a materialist/reductionist mindset – I think it can do better. reply to #253 by Alan4discussion:*

    In reply to #243 by jburnforti:

    Alan4discussion has made several references on several threads to neuro-scientific investigation into the God Spot (my attenuated version – excuse me); once discovered, let’s suppose, it may well help to explain why people believe in gods etc; but it will have nothin…



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  • 253
    aldous says:

    In reply to #248 by Marktony:

    Partly agree. Religion was man’s primitive attempt to understand the natural world and get some sense of control over events that greatly effected their lives. But I don’t like to use the phrase “primitive science”. They didn’t know about the scientific method.

    What I would like to emphasize is the continuity between modern science and its precursor. The cosmology of the creation myths and the science of the Big Bang address the same question. The idea of religious cosmology and scientific cosmology being rivals, is too generous to religion. The myths are failed attempts to explain the universe, not alternative explanations.



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  • 254
    achromat666 says:

    So that, while like him I am no deist, I don’t like to think of science as having a materialist/reductionist mindset – I think it can do better.

    What does this mean?

    Religion is at best a clumsy attempt to grasp at answers even if man was only at best making stuff up. Philosophy has become a catchall for many to try to ‘reason’ god into existence with no success, and that form of thinking isn’t providing any information, generally only ignorance. Not all philosophy is like this but the only forms of it that are ever brought to this site are those that are made to support theistic ideas.

    Let’s put it like this: When was the last time philosophy had one of the breakthroughs you referred to in the vein of Einstein, Darwin, Newton, etc? When was the last time that happened with religion (if ever)? Breakthroughs of many different kinds happen in science all the time. This isn’t a contest, you logically go with what works.

    I appreciate you wanting to give other disciplines higher footing, but as I said before there has to be a reason to take them seriously. I simply fail to see this mindset you refer to.



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  • 255
    Nitya says:

    In reply to #257 by achromat666:

    So that, while like him I am no deist, I don’t like to think of science as having a materialist/reductionist mindset – I think it can do better.

    What does this mean?

    Religion is at best a clumsy attempt to grasp at answers even if man was only at best making stuff up. Philosophy has become a catch…

    Could the likes of Einstein,Darwin, Hawking etc be classed as philosophers as well? Their projections are based on some sort of reality and so have more credibility. This isn’t a rhetorical question, I genuinely want to know.



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  • 256
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #258 by Nitya:

    In reply to #257 by achromat666:

    So that, while like him I am no deist, I don’t like to think of science as having a materialist/reductionist mindset – I think it can do better.

    What does this mean?

    Religion is at best a clumsy attempt to grasp at answers even if man was only at best making stuff…

    From Wikipedia, on the Philosophy of science:

    The philosophy of science is concerned with all the assumptions, foundations, methods, implications of science, and with the use and merit of science. This discipline sometimes overlaps metaphysics, ontology and epistemology, viz., when it explores whether scientific results comprise a study of truth. In addition to these central problems of science as a whole, many philosophers of science consider problems that apply to particular sciences (e.g. philosophy of biology or philosophy of physics). Some philosophers of science also use contemporary results in science to reach conclusions about philosophy.

    The danger of the assumption that the word philosophy has (as it has been used here frequently) here are the ways it can be distorted. So while yes they can be called philosophers, (scientific thinking is technically a branch of philosophy, referred to as natural philosophy oh so many years ago) their application of the ideas are quite and very deeply rooted in pure science. But there are many branches of philosophy, including ones that don’t deal with empirical data to draw its conclusions.

    So when I separate philosophy from science I am doing it from the perspective that the philosophies most commonly offered have not been helpful or in any way instrumental for the necessary forward thinking to move beyond where we are.



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  • 257
    jburnforti says:

    When philosophy or its relatives are used in isolation to solve physical problems, it’s mostly unsuccessful and a nuisance viz. humours in medicine and so, no, I don’t advocate that. At the risk of being irritating, I’ll use “mindset” once more in order to refer to what I think many of our greatest discoverers brought to the table, certainly the ones already mentioned. So that while observation, measurement, evidence, repeatability, falsifiability etc were the tools used subsequently in the assessment and then use of the discoveries, those tools could never have produced the discoveries. And so “mindset” is the nearest I can come to describing the way of thinking which made those discoveries possible. Technical explanations of the Big Bang will go right over my head, in large part because I haven’t the appropriate training, I suppose. But that isn’t what interests me, anyway. I’m interested in the same sort of questions as Religion or Philosophy might ask of the Big Bang, except that I want Science to answer them. I’m unable to say what mindset that does require but feel sure that materialist reductionism isn’t it.In reply to #257 by achromat666:*

    So that, while like him I am no deist, I don’t like to think of science as having a materialist/reductionist mindset – I think it can do better.

    What does this mean?

    Religion is at best a clumsy attempt to grasp at answers even if man was only at best making stuff up. Philosophy has become a catch…



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  • 258
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #254 by jburnforti:

    In other words, I would want to separate neurological examination of ideas’ origins from their intellectual value.

    I don’t think they can be comparmentalised like that. Regardless of if we can currently map it, there is a continuity from neurological processes, into environmental interactions and perceptions of physical reality and projected outcomes.

    If one doesn’t, where would it stop?

    I think my point was that it doesn’t. You may have noticed from some of my earlier posts that some of my specialisms are ecology and biology, where looking at the interactions of individuals, communities of organisms, instinctive v learned behaviours, etc. give a very wide-view of the reach of science – far beyond areas normally covered by human psychology and philosophy.

    Because then any idea is up for grabs but IMO for wrong and possibly dangerous reasons: the Gay Gene idea springs to mind. Too,

    That is just using mistaken speculative theo-philosphy in place of scientific investigation.

    There are still social and political issues where the individual vested interests are involved and value judgements have to be made, but these are much fewer than theologians/philosophers, would have us believe.

    would it be any more effective in ridding the world of the god delusion?

    I think conclusive neuroscientific evidence of the presence and the working of the god-delusions, would be the positive evidence refuting theist claims of extenal supernatural involvement or “revelations”.

    The only way to prove a negative is by proving a contradictory positive. (eg. I was not in Paris at 2pm. on Tuesday because I was in Tokyo)

    The god-delusions are individual specific, and custom formed – conflicting with other gods or god-versions, except where indocrinated copies have been programmed into groups. Even then there is considerable individual variation, although external signs of this may be aggressively repressed in some cultures.

    Once they are clearly identified, their thinking-process status, and (lack of) reliability ratings, can be compared with scientific methodology and reasoning, on the basis of hard data!



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  • 259
    Nitya says:

    In reply to #259 by achromat666:

    In reply to #258 by Nitya:

    In reply to #257 by achromat666:

    So that, while like him I am no deist, I don’t like to think of science as having a materialist/reductionist mindset – I think it can do better.

    What does this mean?

    Religion is at best a clumsy attempt to grasp at answers even if man w…

    Thank you very much. I seem to recall reading this in another thread. Obviously I’ve managed to forget the response in the interim.

    Yes, I know what you mean about the types of philosophies that usually trotted out in these comments. The conclusions drawn are so unlikely that I consider them to be failed philosophies put forward by failed philosophers. Why these ideas are still held in high esteem by anyone is beyond me.



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  • 260
    jburnforti says:

    I think that assessing the value of an idea, almost by definition, requires one to ignore its provenance BUT I can certainly agree that confronting Nazism or Jihadism would be very powerfully helped by understanding their origins. And I would accept that the continuity you observe still holds true, as I see it, in tandem but separately with the content of the idea. For the rest of your comments, I largely agree or, if I’m less sanguine than you about the consequences of providing neuro-scientific evidence, would prefer that you should eventually be proved right rather than I.



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  • 261
    jburnforti says:

    In reply to #258 by Nitya:
    In reply to #257 by achromat666:

    May I use “space-time” to comment while giving clarity, I hope, to my mindset comments. Einstein offered an utterly new way of looking at space and time, certainly to any layman, and the mindset of the community of those interested was irrevocably changed – a solution for Thermat’s Last Theory is very impressive, no doubt, but it doesn’t change our fundamental way of understanding our experience in the way that the Theory of Relativity is able to – even now, the T of R has the power to shock me. Whether it counts as philosophy I can’t say but it certainly has the intellectual power for me that I’d look for in philosophy.And I look to Science to keep doing this. The doubts I’ve already expressed about, say, Big Bang examination have nothing to do with its value but only to do with its reach; yes, yes, enormous reach in its way but not in the direction I’d like it to take us. There, that’s me done.

    So that, while like him I am no deist, I don’t like to think of science as having a materialist/reductionist mindset – I think it can do better.

    What does this mean?

    Religion is at best a clumsy attempt to grasp at answers even if man was only at best making stuff…



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  • 262
    achromat666 says:

    jburnforti,

    It sounds like what you’re referring to is imagination. The great minds you mention had great imaginations and an ability to excel in areas where that imagination could work best for them.

    Let’s try this a different way…..

    Einstein had an advanced education growing up, but he was in classes with other students getting that education. So, while there were no doubt other brilliant minds there only Einstein took his studies and the education overall in the directions he chose to. Presumably he would have had some training in philosophy as well as the sciences but for him the draw the conclusions he did required a strong amount of creativity and imagination that comes from such genius.

    So, when we discuss forward thinking, I don’t think the limitations of science as they apply to what they don’t take from other disciplines are the core issue. It’s the creativity and imagination of the individual mind.

    Now such genius and creativity can come from many backgrounds and affect many fields (and can certainly make sweeping changes in many philosophies), but most commonly science is where the application of that knowledge tends to bear the most fruit.

    So, from my perspective it is less about the mindset science has than the creativity of the minds using the science.



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  • 263
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #238 by WMcEnaney:

    Nitya said something like, “Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the Bible.” Is it there? Maybe because John 1:1 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    The ultimate cause of the Universe is unknown.

    But, everything must have a cause.

    The cause of the universe must be something: call it God.

    So, on the basis that the cause of the universe is unknown, we conclude that it is known.

    Surely, some mistake?



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  • 264
    jburnforti says:

    I take your well made point. I need to reflect on what I was trying to say (or, indeed, think about) before replying. Meanwhile, thank you.In reply to #265 by achromat666:

    jburnforti,

    It sounds like what you’re referring to is imagination. The great minds you mention had great imaginations and an ability to excel in areas where that imagination could work best for them.

    Let’s try this a different way…..

    Einstein had an advanced education growing up, but he was in…



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  • 265
    WMcEnaney says:

    Steve,

    My argument never even implies that everything has a cause. But it does imply that anything that begins to exist has a cause. I wrote it partly because I hoped to show that every other cause gets its causal power at least indirectly from an uncaused cause. The uncaused can enable other things to exist because its existence is built-in. You might even say that the uncaused cause and existence in itself are exactly the same thing. But existence in itself can’t make itself begin to exist. As I’ve already explained the self-causation idea is self-contradictory.
    In reply to #266 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #238 by WMcEnaney:

    Nitya said something like, “Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the Bible.” Is it there? Maybe because John 1:1 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    The ultimate cause of the Universe is unknown.

    But, every…



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  • 266
    WMcEnaney says:

    I don’t know what “culturally Christian” means. Is being culturally Christian something like being ethnically Jewish? I know of ethnically Jewish atheists. Someone can live by some Christian principles, agree with Christian moral principles and so forth when he doesn’t know anything about, say, doctrines about the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, Christ’s two natures, the difference between salvation and justification . . . I’ll take someone at his word when he tells me that he’s a Christian. Then I’ll wonder whether he practices his religion.

    Johnas Kaufmann the operatic tenor walks in a yearly Catholic procession in Germany because it’s, “a cultural thing.” But he doesn’t believe there’s a God. Is he a cultural Catholic because he doers something that Catholics do? I doubt it.
    In reply to #241 by Nitya:

    In reply to #238 by WMcEnaney:

    Nitya said something like, “Where do you get this stuff? It’s not in the Bible.” Is it there? Maybe because John 1:1 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” St. John uses the word “him” to describe the Word and tell…



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  • 267
    WMcEnaney says:

    Alan, I’ve already admitted that atheism might be true. As I think I’ve told everyone else here, it seems to me that if God exists, his nonexistence is impossible and that if he doesn’t exist his existence impossible. So the comment about magic doesn’t apply to me. I’ve never even hinted that since there are some things that science doesn’t know, it doesn’t know anything. I’m sure that every scientist knows that however much he already knows, there will always be more for him to know. He’s like Socrates who wondered and wondered why the Delphic Oracle told him that he, Socrates, was wise. Socrates was wise because he knew that he was ignorant. Read the Early Socratic Dialogues, where many of his conversation partners make fools of themselves when Socrates shows that they only think they know the things they say they know.
    In reply to #240 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #238 by WMcEnaney:

    Metaphysical naturalists seem to believe that with enough time and enough progress, science will explain everything, maybe even why there’s anything at all. Since scientific research will always be partly inductive, science will keep searching for explanations for nat…



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  • 268
    Nitya says:

    In reply to #269 by WMcEnaney:

    I don’t know what “culturally Christian” means. Is being culturally Christian something like being ethnically Jewish? I know of ethnically Jewish atheists. Someone can live by some Christian principles, agree with Christian moral principles and so forth when he doesn’t know anything about, say, d…

    By the term ” culturally Christian” I mean that I was brought up in a Christian environment even though my parents were non- believers. We celebrated Christmas and Easter, though in a completely secular way. No babies in a crib or references to Jesus on the cross, just the pleasant family get-togethers and general merriment. At school, I attended religious instruction but many of the stories bothered me greatly. Even at 6 years of age I was horrified by the thought that Abraham was willing to kill his son because god told him to. I knew that a good parents would defend their child to the last.

    This was not the only example of a story from scripture that I found troubling. Joseph and his coat of many colours seemed to suggest a message of favoritism that seem wrong to my childish reckoning. Good parents didn’t play favorites and the favored child didn’t rub it in to his siblings by revealing dreams in which his brothers bowed down to him.

    By now you probably get my drift. I believed things that were taught to me at school, but I felt that these things were very wrong. There was no back up on the home front so I had no need for complicated mental gymnastics. My parents said nothing one way or another until I was much older, when they felt that it was in order to reveal their total lack of belief.

    Although my family was only Christian as opposed to being a Muslim or Jewish , we were tribal in our Protestant identity. By my teens we were an atheist family to a man, but we were Protestant atheists and deplored the “superstition” in the RCC!

    So, I enjoy singing carols at Christmas, I quite like many hymns and I’m thoroughly familiar with the scriptures, but do I think any of it is real? Not a word.



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  • 269
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #270 by WMcEnaney:

    In reply to #240 by Alan4discussion:

    Alan, I’ve already admitted that atheism might be true. As I think I’ve told everyone else here, it seems to me that if God exists, his nonexistence is impossible and that if he doesn’t exist his existence impossible.

    Isn’t that stating the obvious semantic circularity from the definitions – even if it assumes a particular male god without defining it!

    So the comment about magic doesn’t apply to me.

    That does not follow! – You claim membership of the RCC and make various theistic/deistic claims. Anything “supernatural” is claiming to work by magic!

    @ #238 by WMcEnaney: – Metaphysical naturalists seem to believe that with enough time and enough progress, science will explain everything, maybe even why there’s anything at all. Since scientific research will always be partly inductive, science will keep searching for explanations for natural events, and each new discovery will reveal more events that need explanation. However much science explains, there may always be more to for it to explain.

    I’ve never even hinted that since there are some things that science doesn’t know, it doesn’t know anything. I’m sure that every scientist knows that however much he already knows, there will always be more for him to know.

    Scientists expand their knowledge by knowing where the boundaries of knowledge are(avoiding unnecessary duplication), and working to reach into the at present unknown by experimental investigations. There is no reason to believe that there are things science cannot eventually investigate.

    This does not leave the field open for god-of-gaps gapology to make unsupported claims in these areas. Science has a long history of refuting such earlier gapologist claims.

    He’s like Socrates who wondered and wondered why the Delphic Oracle told him that he, Socrates, was wise. Socrates was wise because he knew that he was ignorant. Read the Early Socratic Dialogues, where many of his conversation partners make fools of themselves when Socrates shows that they only think they know the things they say they know.

    I have seen so many theistic assertions which do illustrate this feature of false confidence. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a perverse feature of human nature where those ignorant of their own ignorance are happily confident in their unfounded beliefs!

    @ DK link- Bertrand Russell in The Triumph of Stupidity in the mid 1930s said that “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Even earlier, Charles Darwin, in The Descent of Man in 1871, stated “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

    Socrates and others have commented on this throughout history, but those choosing belief without evidence (faith-thinking), have been slow to learn. – Hence there are thousands of gods with diverse and contradictory properties, with followers having no doubts they have the “right one” (or collection ) ! In many religions critical thinking and doubt, are actively discouraged.
    In science doubt until solid evidence is repeatedly confirmed is the default position. Hence highly reliable useful information is established to high levels of probability, and then applied to technology – which further confirms it works in the real world.

    @240 – The “unevolved, uncaused, giant magic fairy did it”, is just about as unlikely a possibility as you can find – as an explanation of a physical phenomena!



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  • Being a linguist I believe that one should start with defining “Truth”. I bet, there are very many of them. Then it is necessary to decide the purpose of discussion and the need of particular “truth”. Here principles of scientific method can be of some use. After all, what is the use of sitting and speculating that there maybe something or somebody we have no idea about, so it must be safer to introduce god that can sort out ecerything.



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  • 271
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #273 by ieva:

    After all, what is the use of sitting and speculating that there maybe something or somebody we have no idea about, so it must be safer to introduce god that can sort out everything.

    That is the theist’s perplexity!
    Vague gods are beyond Popper falsification, so they can hide behind, “You can’t disprove my god”!

    Simple clearer claims about gods sorting out real problems are easily refuted by examining evidence!

    The more interaction with reality is claimed – the easier the refutation!



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  • 273
    jburnforti says:

    There are 2 aspects to the neuroscientific inquiries into a “Godspot” in humans about which I’m curious and which, I take it, drive the inquiries: first, that beliefs in gods and religions are intrinsically bizarre and, therefore, invite examination for quite different reasons than, for instance, into eating; two, what survival value attaches to these beliefs, if any, that have made them so successfully tenacious? Because, as I said earlier, I believe ideas have to be, and always are, assessed free of their provenance although there’s no doubt that that too can be extremely important. Well, I believe gods and religions are extremely odd ideas, particularly so since their anthropomorphic forms are always so very clearly on display and are always, if often violently, childish and have the same form as any children’s story one might make up oneself – that ought to make more believers suspicious than, apparently, it does.

    Having said that, I ask myself what is irreducible in god/ religious beliefs after one has thrown out transubstantiation, virgin births, resurrections, miracles and all that stuff and it has to be IMO the fact (or otherwise) of the supernatural itself. Which brings us to the scientific method which also has an irreducible element, cause and effect; all science’s tools, measurement, logic, repeat ability, experiment, falsifiability are there for the purpose of establishing and explaining cause and effect. Here, gods/religions show themselves to be scientific in intention if utterly ridiculous in execution. In other words, I believe, gods/religions have the same objectives, roughly speaking, as science, but use fatally flawed techniques which can only convince those predisposed to belief, unlike science whose methods and achievements when clear are clear to anyone.

    This takes me to the more speculative part of my thesis and I offer it as my opinion only, I don’t suggest it has any acceptance elsewhere. When the supernatural is invoked, I believe something is being referred to that is only supernatural now and that, if it could be better understood, would simply become part of our understanding of natural laws and an uncontroversial feature of science’s mindset (and here I also reply to 265). I first started thinking about this in response to the Theory of Relativity. Einstein’s utterly amazing reinvention re space and time of what up to then were only metaphysical dabblings seemed to me to change effectively what might previously have seemed supernatural ideas into hard, clear believable science. and I feel we’re now waiting for someone to do the same for features such as Existence. I haven’t read Krauss’s latest yet, though reviews don’t make it sound as though it’s what I’m interested in, but I shall. in any case, But, who knows?, he or someone of his generation may yet achieve this feat.or In reply to #274 by Alan4discussion:*

    In reply to #273 by ieva:

    After all, what is the use of sitting and speculating that there maybe something or somebody we have no idea about, so it must be safer to introduce god that can sort out everything.

    That is the theist’s perplexity!
    Vague gods are beyond Popper falsification, so they ca…



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  • 275
    jburnforti says:

    Seems like a very gnomic question, nor do I know if it refers to a specific post but here goes. Curiosity is not a tool but poses questions which require one form or other of tool to supply answers. Dogma supplies answers which, even if wrong, may not be disputed to questions which, even if the wrong ones, may not be challenged. Holy Catechism, anyone?In reply to #277 by This Is Not A Meme:

    How do I know if raw curiosity is a better tool for understanding the Universe than dogma?



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  • 276
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #278 by jburnforti:

    Seems like a very gnomic question, nor do I know if it refers to a specific post but here goes. Curiosity is not a tool but poses questions which require one form or other of tool to supply answers. Dogma supplies answers which, even if wrong, may not be disputed to questions which, even if the wron…

    Responding to the original question. Science is simply the result of figuring out how to be curious. It is deeply mistaken to categorize it with religion as an alternative world view. It’s a false dichotomy. The question of the OP reduces to curiosity vs. dogma. Should we do any research, or just stop learning and assume the Mesopotamian goat herders were right?



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  • 277
    jburnforti says:

    Believing there is “more to the world than our senses can ever tell us” isn’t dogmatic; asserting it would be, but not necessarily to the point of being very controversial since Science too will confirm there are wavelengths we can’t detect unaided. Dogma would be an assertion of an unverifiable way of detecting them, Science/curiosity not so. But when Science excludes something/s, isn’t it necessarily in the same territory as what it excludes which, when a worldview, would make Science another worldview? Einstein, Mesopotamian goatherds? It’s a tricky one.



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  • 279
    Marktony says:

    “But when Science excludes something/s, isn’t it necessarily in the same territory as what it excludes which, when a worldview, would make Science another worldview?”

    Science does not exclude anything, it’s not a religion. It’s by far the most successful method of explaining the natural world.
    Hypotheses concerning the existence of seemingly supernatural entities (eg. ghosts, gods, fairies) are not excluded. If you were able to provide a hypothesis regarding something generally thought of as supernatural and that hypothesis was subsequently supported by the scientific method, then that “something” would no longer be regarded as supernatural.

    Scientists are human and will tend to take less seriously those radical ideas which seem to them unbelievable. You mentioned Einstein’s theory of relativity could have previously be seen as metaphysical dabblings, but nevertheless it was not excluded.

    Some hypotheses have been around since before modern science. The God hypothesis is one. Despite many scientists themselves being religious and therefore having some personal motivation for applying the scientific method to support this hypothesis, there have been no falsifiable predictions or explained facts or successful experiments. It’s not surprising therefore that these ideas (ghosts, gods, fairies etc) are seen as supernatural or superstitious and that their proponents might feel that their ideas have been excluded by science.

    In reply to #280 by jburnforti:

    Believing there is “more to the world than our senses can ever tell us” isn’t dogmatic; asserting it would be, but not necessarily to the point of being very controversial since Science too will confirm there are wavelengths we can’t detect unaided. Dogma would be an assertion of an unverifiable way…



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  • 280
    jburnforti says:

    Yes, I mostly agree. I didn’t intend that comment as a criticism of what Science excludes, though elsewhere I have. By exclusion I mean refutes or does not use as, for instance, in rejecting the Ptolemean view of the Universe. I meant to ask, without reference to any specific point whether, when Science takes issue with some worldview or other, it doesn’t do so as a worldview itself, at least by implication; not, though, if it just commented on a detail. It was more about definition than anything else, I think. Anyway, that was my intention.In reply to #282 by Marktony:*

    “But when Science excludes something/s, isn’t it necessarily in the same territory as what it excludes which, when a worldview, would make Science another worldview?”

    Science does not exclude anything, it’s not a religion. It’s by far the most successful method of explaining the natural world.
    Hypo…



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  • 281
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #280 by jburnforti:

    Believing there is “more to the world than our senses can ever tell us” isn’t dogmatic; asserting it would be, but not necessarily to the point of being very controversial since Science too will confirm there are wavelengths we can’t detect unaided. Dogma would be an assertion of an unverifiable way of detecting them, Science/curiosity not so. But when Science excludes something/s, isn’t it necessarily in the same territory as what it excludes which, when a worldview, would make Science another worldview? Einstein, Mesopotamian goatherds? It’s a tricky one.

    Not tricky at all. Trust neither Einstein or Mohammed. Trust your senses, your best reason and judgement. Do your best. The people behind ideas are irrelevant. The ideas can be evaluated and tested by you. I do not believe in relativity because of Einsteins reputation, but rather i confirm it each time I use my phone (GPS).

    Thought experiment, Amnesia Comet: Earth moves through the tail of a comet that causes mass amnesia and all human knowledge is lost. In time, the species gets back on its feet. It will rediscover the Earth goes around the Sun, evolution, thermodynamics, and science itself. It will not rediscover John 3:16, or Harry Potter. Science is not a fickle, arbitrary worldview. It is taking an interest in reality, which is as Phillip K. Dick put, that which persists to exist even when one stops believing in it. If you want to understand the Universe, you will develop a methodology, and give it a name. Math and logic are not worldviews either.



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  • 282
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #283 by jburnforti:

    Science is a rational process, like say air traffic control, and therefore utterly indifferent to worldview. Appropriate skills assist anyone engaged in these processes, irrespective of worldview.

    That’s the Truth.

    when Science takes issue with some worldview or other…gods/religions show themselves to be scientific in intention… gods/religions have the same objectives, roughly speaking, as science”…

    No. They’re demonstrably irrational mental artifacts induced by well-meaning, ignorant parenting and their developmental milieu. Gods are constantly corroded by science. Theistic belief is thoroughly amenable to neuroscientific investigation.



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  • 283
    jburnforti says:

    ” Worldview” for me means filter through which the world is seen. If there is an insistence on evidence, logic, clarity etc., as in Science, then, at that point, tools have become values which can be and are asserted and constitute a methodology which has become a worldview. It seems logical to me that disputing Creationism (as I do) is, by implication, offering an alternative worldview. It isn’t simply changing a detail, it’s fundamental. Seen from that perspective, I don’t think my describing Science as a worldview need be very controversial.



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  • 284
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #286 by jburnforti:

    ” Worldview” for me means filter through which the world is seen. If there is an insistence on evidence, logic, clarity etc., as in Science, then, at that point, tools have become values which can be and are asserted and constitute a methodology which has become a worldview.

    Those tools are indeed the difference between a scientific world view and a theistic one!

    Science looks at the world (and universe), through clear windows:- now augmented by multi-spectral images from remote probes, telescopes, microscopes, and hands-on