There is more than heaven and earth than can be imagined in any philosophy

Sep 6, 2013


Discussion by: dc

I have just finished Dawkin's God Delusion, and I must say that for the most part, it is rather convincing.

Just to set the context of my question, I am not an atheist and I describe myself now as a freethinker though I might be considered a reformed non-believer to be more exact.

Anyway, I find a point he has in his concluding chapter rather disturbing and almost running contrary to the rest of his book. He says: "At the end of a famous essay on 'Possible Worlds', the great biologist J. B. S. Haldane wrote, 'Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose . . . I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy.' "

I suppose he is using the quote from Haldane and Hamlet to explain how the oddness of the universe might not require god as an explanation, but in so doing, he also introduces the idea that, precisely because there is more than we have so far understood, and could possibly understand, surely the implication also is that the scientific worldview can be considered to be just one of the philosophies which cannot "dream" of the possibility that there is a god or superior being?

How can this be answered effectively from the point of view of an atheist? Looking forward to your suggestions, thanks.

 

229 comments on “There is more than heaven and earth than can be imagined in any philosophy

  • 1
    crookedshoes says:

    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.There is another theory which states that this has already happened.>>

    This is a quote from Douglas Adams. I like it so much, it is hanging in my classroom. We assume so much. But, I’d rather exist as a being that strives to figure it out than a being who accepts other mind’s interpretations of what is “true”. There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over (thanks, Frank).

    I will surround myself with minds who are looking without bias at the very question your OP brings up. No bullshitters allowed. Let’s figure it out, or at least attempt to approach the best available answer at the given moment…. or, (the paradigm of the opposition) we can assert that we are correct and then deny any truth that contradicts our pre-decided answers. You choose.



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  • 2
    adiroth says:

    I suggest you change your topic sentence because it’s misleading and does not reflect the quote you’ve mentioned.

    On the subject of your quote, not being able to fully explain NOW does not mean EVER or WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO. Of course, J. B. S. Haldane might even be using it poetically rather than seriously arguing the flaws of science.



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  • 3
    Skeptic says:

    What do you think the point of view of an atheist is? Dawkins has said he doesn’t rule out the possibility of there being a god although he considers it remote. One can be Humean skeptic and give up on all of it, but it’s pretty clear the scientific worldview is doing better than anything else we have for discovering the universe. As Dawkins would say “It just works…bitches”.



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  • 4
    Pabmusic says:

    In reply to #3 by Skeptic:

    What do you think the point of view of an atheist is? …

    Exactly. An atheist is simply someone who is not convinced there are gods. That’s all. There’s no other ‘baggage’ that defines an atheist.



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  • 5
    Michael Fisher says:

    Hi dc

    1] You write:-

    “…I am not an atheist and I describe myself now as a freethinker though I might be considered a reformed non-believer to be more exact”

    I haven’t a clue what that means. Are you something post-modern in the “humanities” by any chance?
    Please don’t write “…to be exact” when you are not being exact!

    2] You write:-

    “I suppose he is using the quote from Haldane and Hamlet to explain how the oddness of the universe might not require god as an explanation”

    [Michael Fisher note for those who want to look it up themselves:- page 408 of the paperback edition ~ Chapter 10 “A Much Needed Gap?”]

    No. You suppose wrong. He’s not using that quote to EXPLAIN how the oddness might not need god. No the implication ISN’T that “scientific worldview” is just one of the philosophies… In that section of the chapter Richard is actually discussing how we evolved to survive in the “Middle World” & thus we are not naturally equipped to grok the very old, very small, very large, very cold, very hot, very slow & very fast. However around page 419 Richard comments that we are liberated to an extent from the narrow view available to us through the slit in our burka by the power of methodological naturalism [it has worked very well up to now]. He closes by saying that he doesn’t know how far training & practise can go in liberating us from this “Middle World” of our perceptions & intuitions, but that he’s thrilled to be alive at a time when we’re “pushing against the limits of our understanding”

    Final thoughts:-
    dc. You bring scraps of road kill gristle to the kitchen & seem to expect a well seasoned steak to arrive at your table.
    You perform the very convenient theist trick of pointing at “gaps” you perceive without proposing a system YOURSELF that can bridge them in a way more meaningful, sustainable, useful & predictive than “goddidit”
    [Sentence removed by moderator to bring within Terms of Use.]
    My best advice is that you read the book again & take notes this time.



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  • I think Dawkins is much more open to the rich and strange that any Christian who can conceive of only things in his book and ignores evidence for the existence of anything else.

    Dawkins does not say “there is no god”. He merely states that nobody has presented any evidence for one. Leprechauns might exist, but nobody has offered evidence they do. If you believe in them, it is wishful thinking. The only place they exist is in imagination.



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  • 8
    shortpolock says:

    That quote sounds like a facet of Gould’s NOMa philosophy, which Dawkins discredits. I think he is just using the quote to stir thought. What if? And if so, what do you say to that? Dawkins states in “When Religion Steps on Science’s Turf”, “it is completely unrealistic to claim, as Gould and many others do, that religion keeps itself away from science’s turf, restricting itself to morals and values. A universe with a supernatural presence would be a fundamentally and qualitatively different kind of universe from one without. The difference is, inescapably, a scientific difference. Religions make existence claims, and this means scientific claims.”

    This can be such a tangled web. Fundamentally, this is indeed a universe with a supernatural presence, if only because we dreamt of GOD. Religion made an existence claim that science cannot explain away. There is no dreaming up a GOD idea if there is no material for a GOD.



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  • Not only has there been no evidence for a god been discovered, there has been a ton of evidence that there is no god. The universe looks exactly as you would expect if there were no god. If there were a god, there would be some miracles, little violations of usual law. There are none.



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  • 10
    achromat666 says:

    I suppose he is using the quote from Haldane and Hamlet to explain how the oddness of the universe might not require god as an explanation, but in so doing, he also introduces the idea that, precisely because there is more than we have so far understood, and could possibly understand, surely the implication also is that the scientific worldview can be considered to be just one of the philosophies which cannot “dream” of the possibility that there is a god or superior being?

    Why is that the only conclusion to be drawn? Do you have any idea how many different ways the various myths have described how things have come into being? Many from some seeming chaos, but all from entirely different angles. Why is the implication of the statement that the thing we cannot dream of is some form of creative force that we have already dreamed of?

    There are a multitude of ways things could have started we no doubt haven’t thought of, why would god be the only one he means, and why is the inference pointing to something he has said isn’t likely? Is the scope of human thinking really so limited?

    This is all still bearing in mind we don’t actually have a working definition of what ‘god’ is. If there was somehow a creative force, but it had no sentience and merely brought the universe into existence, would it still be referred to as god?

    I’d like to think that he’s saying that not only do we not know, but in many ways we may never know but that we’re likely to keep looking. That would be the most honest answer.



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  • When Lane Craig asks the question “Is there a god”, what he means in “Does Jehovah exists and is the bible inerrant”. If we suddenly found strong evidence for the god Clarus the Dogcow, he would be strongly disappointed. I don’t know if Clarus would count as god in his view, no matter what his attributes. If there were a god it would a heck of a coincidence if one of the imaginary gods was a pretty good description.



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  • 12
    Thanny says:

    It’s really quite simple. The true nature of the universe may be stranger than we are ever able to figure out, either due to the limitations of our brains (which are evolved products of natural selection), or the impossibility of measuring phenomena below a certain level of reduction.

    This in no way suggests any kind of god. There’s no rule that says there must be someone or something capable of understanding the universe entirely. I very much expect that there can never be such a being – that the fundamental mechanisms of the universe are too far removed from the macroscopic phenomenon of intelligence to ever be even imagined, much less measured and modelled.



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  • When I was 6, I was sick and stayed home from school. I entertained myself by drawing creatures on other planets. I did not know much about the conditions on other planets other than Jupiter has strong gravity and Mars had a thin atmosphere. I went nuts and drew dozens of these things. I remember a feeling of elation, somehow being weakly connected with life on other planets. However, I was fully aware these were just speculation, bits of my imagination.

    People create gods much the same way. But they confuse their speculation with imagination, and find all sorts of excuses to claim the accuracy of these speculations. In other words, a 6 year old boy had a lot more common sense than the founders of the world religions.



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  • *In reply to #12 by Thanny:

    That ants and dogs cannot predict the movement of the stars is not evidence for a god. Ants and dogs don’t even understand the question. Why should humans be able to fully understand all mysteries? It would be quite a surprise if the universe did not have questions beyond the capability of humans to even ask.

    I see no reason a salt crystal could exist even if there were nothing capable of understanding the structure. It is not as if it were manufactured. The mindless chemistry of Na and Cl is sufficient to build the crystals.

    We have not even asked the large brained animals on the planet for a simplified summary of what they think about.



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  • 15
    shortpolock says:

    I would counter that by asking what do animals like us need to survive? I don’t mean the Ziggy kind, “Keep breathing as long as possible”, but really living to the fullest extent of a quality of life? This of course is subjective, but maybe you would answer it?

    In reply to #9 by Roedy:

    Not only has there been no evidence for a god been discovered, there has been a ton of evidence that there is no god. The universe looks exactly as you would expect if there were no god. If there were a god, there would be some miracles, little violations of usual law. There are none.



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  • 16
    DhyanVijen says:

    The current fashion for scientific materialism ignores the results of an empirical investigation which has been pursued for thousands of years. Those who believe that consciousness “emerges” from the brain are as religiously deluded as any catholic or muslim. Advaita is the only rational foundation for physics: there is a universal consciousness which is the source of all objects, whether physical or mental.



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  • 17
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #5 by Michael Fisher:

    I haven’t a clue what that means. Are you something post-modern in the “humanities” by any chance?
    …You perform the very convenient theist trick of pointing at “gaps” you perceive without proposing a system YOURSELF that can bridge them in a way more meaningful, sustainable, useful & predictive than “goddidit” You are a lazy thinker & a lazy reader My best advice is that you read the book again & take notes this time.

    This seems a somewhat strong response to dc’s question. I think some debate is in order when it comes to understanding.

    It seems entirely possible that there could in the future be some models of nature which can only be pointed to symbolically or in terms of predicting outcomes, rather than understood by anyone in conceptual terms: some might say quantum mechanics is near to or even at that point now.

    Thus, unless one believes in some kind of abstract and shared mental realm, understanding can only happen in individual minds. So ‘understanding of the universe’ is abstracted: one can at best say, ‘across specialists there is understanding’, while no single person understands it all. (This raises a point, which may not be major, as to what can be meant in dialogues by the phrase ‘understand the universe’, if meaning is the process of denoting mental events but there is no single mind that can have such a mental event).

    Finally, the scientific approach is empirical, ie prioritises what can be shown by evidence over what might be argued by reason. This is in contrast to (say) Greek speculative natural philosophy, which put reason before evidence (and greatly influenced Christianity). There is then perhaps a scientific scepticism about assuming explanations. One could in a way argue that seeking a comprehensive set of explanatory theories risks being non-scientific ie being metaphysical. We have a human desire to ‘understand’, but this could (could) be argued to be a psychological drive to impose order on what is really chaotic. Personally, I think science is likely to thoroughly show that the universe has order. But I have to admit I am aware I have an arguably emotional wish for order.

    (Just to be clear that I’m not defending Theism. Theists say that the gods imposed order upon chaos, so cannot thereby claim or show that the universe has order in itself. Indeed religious beliefs – as is obvious from Creationism etc – are by their supposed externality to the universe incapable of adding to actual understanding. The theistic undermining of reason and one’s evidential relationship with the world, ie attacking our intellectual connectedness with reality, is not the most obviously bad effect of religion – consider the Inquistion, Al-Kaeda – etc – but it is a very deep and pervasive kind of corruption).



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  • 18
    aldous says:

    In The God Delusion, Dawkins refutes the God Theory. The theory posits an intelligent being which created, or is a fundamental constituent, of the universe. Since human intelligence is the product of evolution and a very recent development in the history of the universe, it wasn’t present 13.7 billions years ago. The infinitely greater god intelligence would necessarily emerge still later in evolutionary history, if at all, and so the God Theory collapses.



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  • 19
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #16 by DhyanVijen:

    The current fashion for scientific materialism ignores the results of an empirical investigation which has been pursued for thousands of years. Those who believe that consciousness “emerges” from the brain are as religiously deluded as any catholic or muslim. Advaita is the only rational foundation…

    With respect (for I take these to be your personal beliefs), can you offer any evidence that might convince others of these assertions, especially those here?

    I should perhaps add that I am a materialist and empiricist – rightly or wrongly I see the two as being linked. But I also think that introspection – for me in Buddhist meditation – is a way of learning, though only one way. However, while I cannot pretend to know about Advaita (Wikipedia suggests hinges around Atman but it looks rather complex) I am deeply sceptical about disembodied mind – for which reason, while I mediate broadly along Buddhist lines I could not really count myself as Buddhist, at least in the usual sense.

    Btw this ‘current fashion’ has been going for about five hundred years in the ‘West’ and before that Islamic astronomers etc were busy observing. Democritus and other Greeks advocated Materialism, though antiquity ended with mysticism (ultimately Christianity) and Democritian Atomism fell into abeyance.



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  • I have very poor knowledhe about Physics and Cosmology, so let’s take Genetics. First there was Mendel, who, actually never said his discoveries are associated with anything than peas. Next his findigs had to be reconciled with Darvinism (reciprocally), then comes Non-Mendelian genetics, Genome scanning, and, as soon as people start thinking that one little step and we will be able to treat every patient, instead of statistic average, enters Epigentics. It explains many previously unclear things, but also makes it clear that there is lot to be discovered…. And nobody knows how far we will be able and will have to go…..
    Does this means there exists some superior being or that we just do not know enough. Enough to be able purposefully look in the right direction.



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  • 22
    Alan4discussion says:

    @OP – He says: “At the end of a famous essay on ‘Possible Worlds’, the great biologist J. B. S. Haldane wrote, ‘Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose . . . I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy.’ “

    Haldane was certainly right for his time. – John Burdon Sanderson Haldane FRS (5 November 1892 – 1 December 1964),

    Astronomy, cosmology, neurology, and physics, have moved on, vastly advancing scientific understanding in the decades since Haldane’s time. – With greatly increased manpower and resources dedicated to scientific investigations.
    There is good reason to expect scientific research to continue push out the frontiers of human knowledge, if support continues.

    he also introduces the idea that, precisely because there is more than we have so far understood, and could possibly understand,

    There is no indication that there is more than science or the human population can understand. This is just a misconceived projection of the situation at his time.
    If we project the trends of vastly increasing knowledge since the days of Haldane, this rapid advancement would support the opposite view!

    surely the implication also is that the scientific worldview can be considered to be just one of the philosophies which cannot “dream” of the possibility that there is a god or superior being?

    This is just wishful thinking, conflating scientific knowledge with ancient, obsolete and flawed attempts at philosophy. Science does not need gapology or magic fairies for its explanations.
    Scientists can certainly look at the dreams of gods, but they are very small, vague, unimaginative, dreams, compared to the wonders of reality.

    As far as “superior beings” go, we do not know if there are alien life-forms elsewhere in the universe – (“superior” or otherwise)!
    Gods are just so much more improbable than all the other possibilities – as the refutation of thousands of discarded gods shows.

    As I said on another thread:- 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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  • 23
    DhyanVijen says:

    In reply to #19 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #16 by DhyanVijen:

    No it’s NOT belief, and NOT personal. And your “respect” is superfluous. The “evidence” you request is another object, and you have no direct experience of any objects, only of the subject. Intersubjective agreement is a toy. Intrasubjective enquiry will bring you home.



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  • 24
    DHudson says:

    I suppose he is using the quote from Haldane and Hamlet to explain how the oddness of the universe might not require god as an explanation, but in so doing, he also introduces the idea that, precisely because there is more than we have so far understood, and could possibly understand, surely the implication also is that the scientific worldview can be considered to be just one of the philosophies which cannot “dream” of the possibility that there is a god or superior being?

    This is a bit blurry. Are you suggesting a single superiour alien or are you suggesting a supernatural omnipotent entity?



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  • 25
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #23 by DhyanVijen:

    @ #16 by DhyanVijen: – The current fashion for scientific materialism ignores the results of an empirical investigation which has been pursued for thousands of years.

    You do not cite any “empirical investigations which have been pursued for thousands of years”, but simply make an unsupported assertion!

    Those who believe that consciousness “emerges” from the brain are as religiously deluded as any catholic or muslim.

    Aren’t you getting this backwards? Physics and neuropsychology produce substantial empirical evidence. It is assertions of “etherial consciousness” devoid of connections to material reality, which are delusions in the brain!

    @23 No it’s NOT belief, and NOT personal. Intersubjective agreement is a toy. Intrasubjective enquiry will bring you home.

    But only home to internal subjective delusions, which can only be described as belief, as they are not externally objectively linked to the outside world.

    The “evidence” you request is another object, and you have no direct experience of any objects,

    Of course we have direct experience through our senses and indirect experience through scientific equipment which augments our spectrum and scale of observation.

    only of the subject.

    That does not make all subjective perceptions equal or equate them with scientific objectivity. This is just confused denial of objective reality. Scientific objectivity relies on multiple cross checking and testing, to reduce individual biases, misperceptions and flawed thinking.
    (The philosophical deepity of the existence of reality is a red-herring, if you believe the basic assumption that this discussion is real.)

    Individual introspection has no such self-correcting safeguards, hence it accumulates flawed perceptions, both of its self and of the outside world.



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  • 26
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #23 by DhyanVijen:

    In reply to #19 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #16 by DhyanVijen:

    No it’s NOT belief, and NOT personal. And your “respect” is superfluous.

    Ok I’ll take your directness as a cue.

    The argument that because we do not experience objects directly we have not knowledge of them at all is easily refuted on any busy street. Which sane person would step out in front of a truck on the grounds that we ‘have no direct experience of an object’? Only if one has a solipsistic refusal to believe in any external reality could that make sense – but what sense is there in a solipsist going onto a forum, or indeed doing anything?

    I’m afraid the rejection of science, which you seem to embrace, causes much harm by encouraging others to reject their powers of reason and common sense in their daily lives, as well as sensible care of the planet, or their health, etc: while all too often the self proclaimed experts on other worldliness are very happy to use the benefits of science – from cars to, dare I mention them, computers.

    (This may not apply to you, but seem to be so many people expressing deep and deeply uninformed scepticism of quantum mechanics who use a technology dependant upon QM, namely semiconductors.)



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  • 27
    SaganTheCat says:

    surely the implication also is that the scientific worldview can be considered to be just one of the philosophies which cannot “dream” of the possibility that there is a god or superior being?

    deaming of a superior being is is very easy. science is a method of investigatoin which can only be carried out if it’s done with a mind open to whatever results it produces. the reason god doens’t enter science is because it’s an assumption which creates an unscientific bias.

    every description of god i’ve ever heard is a simplistic one, even those from academic theologans and ultimately comes down to something a bit like an old tribal leader.

    I can accept that you could take an unsophisticated view of god, an old man with a beard and robes who looks like he evovled like all other people, who exists outside the universe, and very cleverly made it all happen. this can’t be disproved, it could be how it all happened before the big bang but only because anything could be the truth as far as we can tell. it’s more likely every advance in scientific understanding will lead to a new natural phenomena being discovered which, like all the others to dat, is mindless and simply an effect of laws of physics, because that’s how things have been up to now. if down the road the old beardy man is discovered then science comes to an end and any deeper investigation requires the old man to tell us where he came from (assuming he knows)

    to postulate your own version of the old man as that prime cause is fine, and at least to some effect falsifiable but to compare a personal image of the creator of the universe with an imaginary being that fitted the understanding of nomadic tribespeople that has been handed down to every generation since, and claim it as an insight into the unknowable strangeness is both arrogant (I can imagine it, science can’t) and maybe the definitive example of “thinking inside the box”.

    Your argument is valid, but no more than an argument for a universe created by the FSM, Thor, Satan or indeed, me (yes me, you never dreamed that did you?)



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  • 28
    Nigel S says:

    No, there is nothing that can’t be understood, because when our “Middle World” brains become too big an obstacle for further knowledge we can improve and upgrade them. Some otherwise imaginative thinkers just assume there are “limits of understanding”, but have never demonstrated that there can be such a thing.



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  • 29
    Marktony says:

    “if down the road the old beardy man is discovered then science comes to an end and any deeper investigation requires the old man to tell us where he came from (assuming he knows)”

    Why would science stop when we discover the beardy man (let’s call him Bob)? If the assumption is that Bob created the universe but since that creation event he has not intervened, then if we want to go on to further understand the universe and improve our lives with new technologies then it makes sense to continue with science. And now we would perhaps have opened up a whole new branch of science investigating the nature and origin of Bob.

    Those who had been praying to their various Gods can now pray to Bob, but would they have any reason to expect more evidence of a response than previously?

    In reply to #27 by SaganTheCat:

    surely the implication also is that the scientific worldview can be considered to be just one of the philosophies which cannot “dream” of the possibility that there is a god or superior being?

    deaming of a superior being is is very easy. science is a method of investigatoin which can only be carrie…



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  • 30
    SaganTheCat says:

    In reply to #29 by Marktony:

    The problem with Bob is he invented all the phenomena we have measured to reach our conclusion. we live within his creation and since his very existance thows everything we hold true as being just an illuison.

    If Bob was a computer programmer, and we are just avatars who suddenly became aware of him, we live in his simulated world, we have no idea if any laws we take to be true exist outside the monitor, and we cna’t even exist ourselves outside it. we have to ask Bob wtf he’s doing. OK maybe science stopping is a bit over the top but the science we took to be true becomes redundant in the knowledge that Bob’s out there, and who knows how many other IT types creating their own universes. If we can speak to Bob, he can tell us how he made us quicker than we could find out by finding a way of existing outside the computer, learning about his nature until we can understand his motivation for creating a simulaiton, then learning how to do it.

    Bob moves in mysterious ways though



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  • 31
    Pauly01 says:

    If we leave out the genesis of our universe , my impression is that it is fairly well understood. No? Dark Matter aside , maybe



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  • 32
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #30 by SaganTheCat:

    In reply to #29 by Marktony:

    The problem with Bob is he invented all the phenomena we have measured to reach our conclusion. we live within his creation and since his very existance thows everything we hold true as being just an illusion.

    Who’s Bob – by revelation from the latest scripture we all know it’s you:

    Your argument is valid, but no more than an argument for a universe created by the FSM, Thor, Satan or indeed, me (yes me, you never dreamed that did you?)

    So, having got that out the way (Oh Blessed and Sagacious TheCat) can you fix a few things you’ve made down here that have gone a bit wrong? (reference: any paper, any date).



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  • 33
    Pauly01 says:

    Michael,

    That maybe true but a person may not choose or categorise themselves by this label. I myself would feel a slight pang if I was to tell someone I’m an atheist , I wouldn’t be ashamed no way , but it would churn away at my gut. That’s just simply because of the politicisation and stereotyping that goes along with it. On the other hand I have no problem saying ‘I’m a non-believer’.

    In reply to #21 by mmurray:

    An atheist is someone who holds no beliefs in gods. So if you are a non-believer then you are an atheist.

    Michael



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  • 34
    SaganTheCat says:

    In reply to #32 by steve_hopker:

    So, having got that out the way (Oh Blessed and Sagacious TheCat) can you fix a few things you’ve made down here that have gone a bit wrong?

    i made an elderly neighbour who keeps her garden well tended, so the soil is easy to dig when i need a poo. i’ve made corks small enough to fit inside human shoes, for when i need to put a cork in a shoe. I’ve created a race of stupid apes who gladly go out to work to buy me food ensuring all my hunting is for recreational purposes only and a vast global connection of computers ensuring no one goes for more than 24 hours without seeing an image of a cat. fail to see what i’ve missed quite frankly



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  • 35
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #23 by DhyanVijen:

    The “evidence” you request is another object,

    All evidence is another object, – matter and energy –
    Regardless of whether it is following the laws of science in another galaxy, or working the electro-chemical circuitry forming an illusion, delusion, or subjective or objective perception in a brain.
    You are reading this text by electronic transmission and photons as light waves from a screen to your eyes. Audio signals are sound wave energy transmitted by molecules. Touch is electrical nerve impulses generated by contact or heat flow.

    “Immaterial” = non-existent! – non-perception!

    So do you have supporting evidence for your claims?



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  • 36
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #34 by SaganTheCat:

    i made an elderly neighbour who keeps her garden well tended, so the soil is easy to dig when i need a poo. i’ve made corks…

    In the light of some previous threads on this forum, since I cannot prove that you are wrong, you must be right.

    Btw Oh mighty and fearful One, your Cat is sublimity itself.



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  • 37
    Lonevoice says:

    In reply to #4 by Pabmusic:

    In reply to #3 by Skeptic:What do you think the point of view of an atheist is? …Exactly. An atheist is simply someone who is not convinced there are gods. That’s all. There’s no other ‘baggage’ that defines an atheist.

    Roedy disproves your point



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  • 38
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Exactly what is Richard leaving the possibility open to?

    Faeries, Goblins, Santa Clause?

    All of these on the basis of your critique of Richards declaration of humility in the face of the universe are equally plausible as each other and God. The only reason you might think otherwise is due to circumstances of birth. You will note we don’t spend a lot of time worrying about if a author of a book has implied their existence by quoting Shakespeare. Why does it concern you that he acknowledges limitations in human understanding?



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  • 39
    shortpolock says:

    That genesis and dark matter make up more than 90% of the universe.

    In reply to #31 by Pauly01:

    If we leave out the genesis of our universe , my impression is that it is fairly well understood. No? Dark Matter aside , maybe



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  • 40
    Archaic Torso says:

    You are quite correct that there is much about the universe that cannot be explained at present by scientists or (especially) by anybody else. Science is more than a philosophy though; it is a set of methods for working out how things work, and to date has been doing well in explaining many things about the world.

    Science is not an alternative to religion in terms of explaining things; if you have a set of religious beliefs, I would guess that you hold these for reasons other than their explanatory power?

    In particular, science is not about refuting any of the many religious beliefs which abound in the world (although it does so in many cases). Many scientists don’t have the remotest interest in refuting religion or arguing with theists. Dr. Dawkins is perhaps atypical in this regard.



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  • Nonsense. Just because we acknowledge that the universe is grander and more fascinating than we will ever know, does not mean that there exists a supernatural “superior being” (whatever that means) or any other supernatural entity invented by human superstition.



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  • 42
    Marktony says:

    Now we have God the beardy old timer, Bob the builder (sorry computer programmer) and Sagan the cat. That’s a trinity!

    In reply to #32 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #30 by SaganTheCat:

    In reply to #29 by Marktony:

    The problem with Bob is he invented all the phenomena we have measured to reach our conclusion. we live within his creation and since his very existance thows everything we hold true as being just an illusion.

    Who’s Bob – by revelation…



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  • 43
    Stephen of Wimbledon says:

    Hi DC,

    In my current copy of the God Delusion (I gave so many away – or they were not returned, grr) this quote is bracketed by discussion on human perception – and the limits that our evolved human psyche puts on our ability to understand the truths discovered by science.

    The book then concludes with some open-ended thoughts on the fact that humanity is still discovering its limits – and already has a history of going beyond what were thought to be limits to our perception (“liberated by calculation and reason”) in the past.

    Your supposition is therefore off-kilter. Dawkins is not using the quote to talk about a god or gods. Rather, he is talking about potential limits to our ability to know.

    Does Richard Dawkins, nevertheless, and as you propose, introduce the idea that:

    … the implication … is that the scientific worldview can be considered to be just one of the philosophies which cannot “dream” of the possibility that there is a god or superior being?

    No.

    First: There is no single, over-arching, scientific world view. Only religious types preach Scientism, Richard Dawkins has never favored that view, as anyone who has read The God Delusion surely knows … ?

    Second: Science is not a philosophy.

    Third: While imagination is certainly required to construct the many possible ways in which facts might be interpreted, scientific interpretations remain tied to facts. In this sense scientists already dream – every day.

    Fourth: Science does not deal in possibilities it deals in probabilities. This aspect of the subject is dealt with in the section of the Book you quoted – which makes me wonder if you’ve really read it …

    Fifth: Scientists never argue from science to the conclusion that a god or gods are impossible. Nor do scientists ‘exclude’ a god or gods directly. They simply follow the facts which leads to situations like the frequently cited (though according to Hervé Faye apocryphal) exchange between Laplace and Napoleon:

    Laplace went to Napoleon to present a copy of his work. Napoleon received it with the remark: “M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the Universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.” Laplace answered, bluntly, “I had no need of that hypothesis.”

    Whatever Richard Dawkins might have been trying to say – ‘between the lines’ – it seems to me highly unlikely that he would have said that scientists are unable to imagine a god or gods. Richard Dawkins would be happy to say that, like Laplace, science is doing great without a god or gods. A god or gods will be included in science when it (they) are needed, and there is evidence for them (it).

    Sixth: On the basis of the 115 (or so) pages that come before the quote it seems extremely likely that Richard Dawkins would simply lay out, clearly and explicitly, any idea he wanted to present.

    In addition, although Dawkins does suggest that the truth may extend beyond our perceptions (even if we continue to expand our abilities with calculation, reason and new observations) to the point where we may not be able to grasp it, the very last paragraph of the book gives an upbeat perspective.

    As to your question; I don’t see any difficulty in dreaming about gods. Atheists are no different to anyone else – we can suspend our disbelief and enjoy works of fiction.

    I also like Comment 1. In the end we only have a very short life to consider truth. On the basis that it’s based on the facts – Douglas Adams’ view is as good as any for one lifetime.

    The God Delusion is a simple book, I can really recommend it.

    Peace.



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  • 44
    shortpolock says:

    In regards to your second point, science makes claims regarding the nature of reality. That’s philosophical turf.

    In reply to #43 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

    Hi DC,

    In my current copy of the God Delusion (I gave so many away – or they were not returned, grr) this quote is bracketed by discussion on human perception – and the limits that our evolved human psyche puts on our ability to understand the truths discovered by science.

    The book then concludes…



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  • In reply to #16 by DhyanVijen:

    The current fashion for scientific materialism ignores the results of an empirical investigation which has been pursued for thousands of years. Those who believe that consciousness “emerges” from the brain are as religiously deluded as any catholic or muslim. Advaita is the only rational foundation…

    The principle used by the anaethesist is that when the brain is put out of action, sensation stops. When a person is dead, there’s no brain function at all. Why would you imagine that a different set of conditions would suddenly kick in?



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  • 46
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #44 by shortpolock:

    In regards to your second point, science makes claims regarding the nature of reality. That’s philosophical turf.

    Nope! Science is the nature of reality and the reality of nature. That is why it tests and retests its theories and laws, to ensure its descriptions are the best possible match with reality!

    Modern-day philosophy is only about human perceptions (or misconceptions) of reality, but the sciences of psychology and neuroscience, are making further more accurate inroads into these areas.

    In earlier times, the beginnings of modern science were known as “Natural Philosophy” – before the science, mathematics, and reasoning, moved over into modern science departments, – leaving the abandoned and oft refuted, antique arguments and theology to separate faculties.



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  • 47
    Reckless Monkey says:

    In reply to #43 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

    Hi DC,

    In my current copy of the God Delusion (I gave so many away – or they were not returned, grr)

    Keep up the good work hopefully they have gone somewhere where they will do good. But if your gideons style of freethinking evangelism is costing too much can I suggest you get yourself an ebook reader then you a) can’t give it away (grr) and b) if you loose it or break your reader you can just download it again. Frankly I think we could have done more to bring peace to the middle east by parachuting millions of copies from the air. 😉



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  • Dear all,

    I am the originator of this post. Thanks for your kind [and some not so kind, indeed rather snide] responses. I find some of the views shared quite enlightening, while I find some others rather perplexing or confused. Anyway,

    1) I’d like to reassure you that yes, I have read the book. I might not have studied it thoroughly, but I did read it, and in fact, was so impressed by it except for the above point which was why I decided I wanted to participate in this forum to garner any insights on it.

    2) The reason why I say I am a reformed non-believer as opposed to an atheist is because the concept of being an atheist and what it entails is somewhat new to me. Perhaps I am not ready to term myself as such. Is it not possible that one does not believe in any god but perhaps remain open to it [of the lack of it] ?

    3) Many of the commentators suggest that there is no evidence of god. Well, many believers will present much “evidence” to the contrary. I add the quote marks to suggest that what they consider as evidence, you or other scientists may not consider as evidence. Nonetheless, with 95% of the world believing in one god or another [the number came from Contact, the film, by Carl Sagan. I do not know if it is correct], then surely their arguments may have some basis. I am not saying they are right. In fact, I am of the opinion they are wrong. But it is precisely this reason that I posed the question I did. I can imagine a believer posing exactly the same argument: “DC, there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” So just because you are a advocate, proponent, adherent of science, how can you then discount the other “evidences” presented? They may pose all sorts of arguments such as The Creation Argument, The Argument from Design, and all the other famous arguments, including the one satirised by Voltaire in Candide, which yes, has been argued to some extent in The God Delusion and other books. In fact, I feel Dawkin’s has made very good arguments refuting these arguments.

    But the argument extremely difficult to overcome goes like this: “As Aristotle have said, the more you know, the more you don’t know. While you present all sorts of arguments to the contrary of god’s existence, you must admit that even some of the claims made by science, is in itself unknown. After all, who has seen electrons, or gravity etc etc. But no one denies their existence right? And as new things are revealed by scientific discovery, they often point to new conclusions so how do you know that one fine day, it will not point to the existence of god.”

    Or some such argument. Which while it may not be completely logical or sound may also appear to have some basis. I think some will argue at this point on things like Occam’s Razor or how while it is possible, the possibility is very very remote. And the counterargument will be, well, people once thought flying in the sky or going to space or even breathing underwater was very remote, but today we see it happen. Once again, I go back to my original question. How does one counter what seems to be an argument that DOES seem to have some kind of basis despite it not perhaps being completely scientific or logical even.

    4) Just to add further context, I am schooled in science with postgraduate degrees in engineering. I have also read the main books of Christianity [the bible, in fact several times from cover to cover], Islam, Buddhism, and since I am open minded, also Dawkin’s [in a way I suppose the God Delusion can be considered one of the texts of atheism]. Once again, I use the word read, not studied. I think the fact is, we are in search of the truth. In fact, one of the things I find bewildering about how people choose their religion is that they don’t go and examine all the possible religions before settling on one [imagine buying the 1st car you see]. Instead they either take to the one they were born into, or somehow heard of [be it school or friends], instead of making a thorough examination of the possibilities. Of course there is a limited amount of time to make such a study and also of intellectual ability to do so. But surely it is necessary if one is in search of truth. I am not deluded enough naturally to feel I will be able to find an answer just like that popping up on a forum when tons of books have debated this topic back and forth, and even some of the best minds have put their efforts into it and yet have not come up to an answer satisfying all sides.

    Anyway, thanks for your sharing, I just thought I should clarify my position and also participate in the unfolding of the debate. Cheers.



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  • dc

    ‘. Nonetheless, with 95% of the world believing in one god or another’

    If 95% of the world all agreed on the same god, it would have more credibility, but the fact that 95% of the world believe in different, at times diametrically opposed gods make it far less likely, to my way of thinking.



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  • 50
    Michael Fisher says:

    Dear dc

    Richard Dawkins can’t become “Dawkin’s”

    I had a “snide” go at you because you can’t express your ideas clearly. For example you describe yourself as a “reformed non-believer” ~ did you not pick up from the comments how confusing that description is? You don’t seem to realise that those three words can be interpreted in two EXACTLY opposite ways.

    But the big problem with your post is that you took one quote from one page of The God Delusion & used it to ask a good question… BUT the quote & the chapter it was in was not relevant to your question.

    I’m glad that you replied to the comments you’ve received, but what you’ve written is a bit tough on the brain ~ I gave up halfway. Wasn’t worth trying to interpret. Sorry.



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  • 51
    ZedBee says:

    I believe that everything that can be said for and against gods and religions, has been said many times over and there is nothing else to add. Those against the religious nonsense will argue till the cows come home, with logic, common-sense and science, while the other side counter with that certain knowledge in their hearts (if not their brains) which brooks no argument.

    Those smitten or brain washed with religion, or even those who have worked out their religious beliefs for themselves unaided, have put themselves into such a frenzy that if their prophets came back to life and told them that everything written in “holy” books is a heap of porkies, they would call these prophets impostors, and carry on with their beliefs undaunted.

    If Moses was to come back to life and say that he went AWOL from the army of Ra’Moses II in Nubia, and scarpered with a few of his mates chased by Egyptian red-caps, and that he never heard of such nonsense as getting 976,500 gallons of sweet water out of a stone each day to slate the thirst of two and a half million exodites in Sinai, then he would surely be stoned to death as an impostor.

    If Jesus was to come back to life and say that he never ever said that he was the son of the “nameless one” because he was a good Jew and wouldn’t dream of uttering such a blasphemy, then the Christians would call him an impostor, burn him at the stake with his tongue in a clamp, and carry on eating his living flesh and drinking his warm blood at the Eucharist.

    If Muhammed was to come back to life and say that he never even heard of Pegasus, let alone taking a ride on its back to see Moses and Jesus at the seventh tier of heaven, then his followers would very likely take his head off as an impostor and an irredeemable kafir.

    Nevertheless, it is fun wasting a few minutes baiting the devout



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  • 52
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #50 by Michael Fisher:

    Dear dc

    Richard Dawkins can’t become “Dawkin’s”

    I had a “snide” go at you because you can’t express your ideas clearly. For example you describe yourself as a “reformed non-
    believer” ~ did you not pick up from the comments how confusing that description is? You don’t seem to realise that those thr…

    I’m glad that you replied to the comments you’ve received, but what you’ve written is a bit tough on the brain ~ I gave up halfway. Wasn’t worth trying to interpret. Sorry.

    Personally I did find dc’s comments hard on the brain, but stepping back from personal issues I wonder how much disagreements are over mistaken interpretations rather than matters of substance. I can sympathise with struggling to follow arguments at times and it can be hard to know how much it is my brain and how much incoherence in what I am reading. I think those, like me, and it seems dc, who disagree with theistic claims do need to at least note how many people have a faith and the potential reasons for it, the evidence, if that is the term – a question dc touches upon.( Of course the “reasons” may be psychosocial rather than intellectual). But disagreements over what is evidence and how important evidence is might be one of the more pertinent reasons for disputes. So I for think dc’s post does raise issues those advocating science and reason would do well to spend some effort trying to understand.



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  • 53
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #52 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #50 by Michael Fisher:

    Oops, meant to say,”Personally I did NOT find dc’s comments hard on the brain”.
    On the subject of typos my iPad often “corrects” my text, so Dawkins can be rendered “Dawkins’s ” and slip past my (often lamentable) proof reading. I am human, after all. Well, almost.



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  • 55
    ZedBee says:

    DC, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear in a movie. Forget Hollywood, according to a United Nations’ survey, only 84% (not 95%) of the world’s population claim (either genuinely or out of the fear of being ostracised) that they believe in one god or another. The other 16% think for themselves.



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  • 56
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #51 by ZedBee:

    I believe that everything that can be said for and against gods and religions, has been said many times over and there is nothing else to add. Those against the religious nonsense will argue till the cows come home, with logic, common-sense and science, while the other side counter with that certain…

    I disagree. Indeed, if this were true, then RDs work and this website, including these posts, would be so much wasted effort. Many of those here would once have self identified as believers: and while I never subscribed to fundamentalism, I know people who did, including a Jehovah’s Witness, who are now firm atheists.

    Frankly, if this website was about nothing more than “preaching to the choir” I’d probably not bother, except, rather in the manner of church going, to have my atheistic zeal topped up periodically.



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  • 57
    ZedBee says:

    In reply to #56 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #51 by ZedBee:

    I was tempted to agree with you, and might have added, “almost” before “everything”, until RD was mentioned. I read all of Richard’s works and am delighted with his lucid explanation of the “mysteries” of evolutionary biology. The bits concerning gods and religions came later, rightly to counter the abuse heaped upon his carefully researched science. I dare say (though I would never presume) that if he had not written a word about evolution, he might not have bothered with the god-merchants.

    On your point about this website, I would misquote Voltaire badly by saying that if it didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent it, even if we all sang from the same hymn sheet 🙂



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  • 60
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #48 by dc:

    Dear all,

    I am the originator of this post. Thanks for your kind [and some not so kind, indeed rather snide] responses. I find some of the views shared quite enlightening, while I find some others rather perplexing or confused. Anyway,

    Hi dc. I’ll pick out this section to clarify some points.

    But the argument extremely difficult to overcome goes like this: “As Aristotle have said, the more you know, the more you don’t know.

    It is true that understanding a large body of knowledge, clarifies the view of where the boundaries of that knowledge lie.

    While you present all sorts of arguments to the contrary of god’s existence, you must admit that even some of the claims made by science, is in itself unknown. After all, who has seen electrons, or gravity etc etc.

    We should not confuse unknown details with unknown properties. Many of the properties of gravity and electrons are well known and confirmed to high levels of probability. It is a common mistaken creationist argument, to pretend that because science does not know everything it knows nothing. Many scientific laws and theories are very heavily supported by evidence to very high levels of probability:- especially in relation to the physical conditions on Earth.

    But no one denies their existence right?

    Actually some of the nuttier creationists and AGW deniers do dispute the ability of science to have “knowledge”.

    And as new things are revealed by scientific discovery, they often point to new conclusions

    The “new conclusions” in relation to scientific laws and theories, are usually in the form of some adjustment to calculations, rather than a “throw-it-out-and-start-again” position. Newton was superseded by Einstein, but there is negligible difference in subsonic engineering on Earth. It is only at relativistic speeds there needs to be an adjustment.
    I have seen ignorant YECs claim that Newton’s work was thrown out by Einstein, when they were doubt-mongering and trying to claim parity with science for their whimsical notions. This works on the converse of the Aristotle point you made – to those profoundly ignorant of evidence, all views are of equal merit, so they merely have to choose which ones they like, and assert that these are “true”!

    so how do you know that one fine day, it will not point to the existence of god.”

    You would need to define what you mean by “god”. Numerous gods with identified material properties have been refuted. The remaining ones are hidden in vagueness and gaps in scientific knowledge.
    The gaps have been traditionally found just beyond boundaries of current human knowledge. – above the clouds before meteorology, in the celestial spheres of geocentricism before telescopes, or more recently in the big-bang or at sub atomic quantum level.

    If we track the nature of these claims, a common factor seems to be a psychological need for a figure based on a parent or tribal chief – some caring some abusive.

    This suggests that the projected “gapologist” god-images into knowledge-gaps, is a distraction-diversion from the real location of the god-delusions. This becomes most obvious when the gaps are old refuted ones, or where the “gap” is only a gap in the personal knowledge of the god-claimant, but is well documented science.

    Scientists have speculated that the human brain features a “God spot,” one distinct area of the brain responsible for spirituality. Now, University of Missouri researchers have completed research that indicates spirituality is a complex phenomenon, and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the many aspects of spiritual experiences. – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm

    namely – in the brains of the believers.

    Brain Scan Of Nuns – This study demonstrated that a dozen different regions of the brain are activated during a mystical experience. – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060830075718.htm

    Given the huge diversity of contradictory god-claims and conflicts between god-followers, the individual “god-in-the-brain” – (possibly programmed to cult specification by indoctrination and intimidation), is the most credible explanation.



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  • 61
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #58 by twostories:

    Good reading from all sides… though what if there are two truths?

    Two incompatible or contradictory “truths” are logically impossible. There could be two view-points, but usually there are many viewpoints – most of them wrong where there is contradiction.



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  • 62
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #60 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #48 by dc:
    so how do you know that one fine day, it will not point to the existence of god.”

    You would need to define what you mean by “god”. Numerous gods with identified material properties have been refuted. The remaining ones are hidden in vagueness and gaps in scientific knowledge.

    I think there are some concepts of god which are hard to see could be known to be true as they define themselves out of knowledge or even logical existence. A universe with a God as the invisible and unknowable could not be distinguished from a universe with no such God. In terms of existence, many have argued that a single, benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient creator God is logically contradicted by the presence of evil.

    However, lesser God(s), such as the Olympians, eg limited and morally questionable super humans on mountain tops cannot be ruled out on such grounds. However, none have been seen so far, even on Everest let alone Olympus – and of course such material gods would not be so attractive.

    So, for me, while maybe a god or gods of some kind cannot be absolutely ruled out (this does not of course lend any weight to them being real), I suspect that a God worth worshipping (omnipotent etc) might actually be impossible, or at least incompatible with this fallible universe.



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  • 63
    aldous says:

    In reply to #62 by steve_hopker:

    maybe a god or gods of some kind cannot be absolutely ruled out

    We know that gods are mythical beings. There’s no mystery about it. That doesn’t rule out entities we know nothing about.



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  • 64
    jburnforti says:

    Or, indeed, ways of knowing we know nothing about – yet.In reply to #63 by aldous:

    In reply to #62 by steve_hopker:

    maybe a god or gods of some kind cannot be absolutely ruled out

    We know that gods are mythical beings. There’s no mystery about it. That doesn’t rule out entities we know nothing about.



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  • 65
    Mr DArcy says:

    steve_hopker :

    So, for me, while maybe a god or gods of some kind cannot be absolutely ruled out (this does not of course lend any weight to them being real),

    So when you cross the road steve, do you assume there is a non visible massive lorry hurtling towards you and stay on the kerb, or do you believe what your senses tell you ? I.e. it’s safe to cross. I mean that 42 ton vehicle going at 50 mph, on that particular road, at that particular time is highly unlikely, plus the fact that your senses have given you no warning of the beast, means it shouldn’t be ruled out ?

    ISTM that most of what the brain does is to weed out what it considers unimportant stuff, and presents us with the most immediate picture of reality. Yes the brain can be fooled, but by and large, it gets us across the road safely



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  • 66
    Ignorant Amos says:

    In reply to #33 by Pauly01:

    That maybe true but a person may not choose or categorise themselves by this label. I myself would feel a slight pang if I was to tell someone I’m an atheist , I wouldn’t be ashamed no way , but it would churn away at my gut. That’s just simply because of the politicisation and stereotyping that goes along with it. On the other hand I have no problem saying ‘I’m a non-believer’.

    Ah yes…as Shakespeare wrote…”A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”…where Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things “are”. Why be afraid of calling a spade a spade?



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  • 67
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #62 by steve_hopker:

    So, for me, while maybe a god or gods of some kind cannot be absolutely ruled out (this does not of course lend any weight to them being real),

    That is the regular delusionalists claim :- although they don’t seem to believe in everything else! which cannot be absolutely ruled out (like other people’s gods – invisible dragons etc): –

    “You have admitted there is an extremely remote chance/doubt (0.000000000001% ?) – from among millions of other remote possibilities I can’t imagine – so that proves you admit my God exists or can exist!”

    (Looking through “faith” blinkers:-) -“You are just denying Him (strangely not Her or It), so I am right!”

    Despite what the Hollywood visual tricksters may do for Indiana Jones’ crusades, – those who exercise “faith” stepping off cliffs on to ethereal “immaterial bridges”, had better have some height, a material parachute, and time to reconsider their “faith” decision-making, if they wish to continue living! “Faith” is very consistent on test!



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  • In reply to #64 by jburnforti:

    Or, indeed, ways of knowing we know nothing about – yet.In reply to #63 by aldous:

    There are ways of ‘knowing differently’. In plain terms it’s called ‘being wrong’. Paris is the capital of France and, if you know differently, you know wrong. With visions of angels and holy virgins, the error is in not recognizing that you can see things with the mind’s eye that are not visible to the eyes in your head. It’s no miracle, just the normal operation of the human brain.



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  • 69
    jburnforti says:

    Yes, I wasn’t asserting anything very mystical. I was thinking more along the lines of moral explanations for people’s behaviour having been replaced much more widely by psychological ones in the last 150 years. It’s a way of thinking confined then to a minority of people but there’s no particular magic about it, it’s just one way of thinking supplanting, or certainly augmenting, a previous one; evolution explanations as opposed to whatever might have been the thinking before would be another.In reply to #68 by aldous:*

    In reply to #64 by jburnforti:

    Or, indeed, ways of knowing we know nothing about – yet.In reply to #63 by aldous:

    There are ways of ‘knowing differently’. In plain terms it’s called ‘being wrong’. Paris is the capital of France and, if you know differently, you know wrong. With visions of angels a…



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  • 70
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #65 by Mr DArcy:

    steve_hopker :

    So, for me, while maybe a god or gods of some kind cannot be absolutely ruled out (this does not of course lend any weight to them being real),

    So when you cross the road steve, do you assume there is a non visible massive lorry hurtling towards you and stay on the kerb, or do you…

    No. I do not assume that there might be an invisible, unknowable and immaterial lorry that will have no impact, of any kind: if I have no reason to think there is something near enough to be a problem, then I cross.

    The point I think you were referring to (I wonder if I may have not been clear enough) was that a universe claimed to be ruled by undetectable God (undetectable by any means) would surely be indistinguishable from one without such a God. Occams’ Razor would lead to the conclusion that the latter scenario, atheism, is preferable as it is simpler than theism.

    My suggestion – I have not worked out the case fully – is that the concept of an undetectable God could a priori rule out belief in such as God. This might be argued on the basis that beliefs imply a confidence that the believer knows that ‘X’ is true : but, if ‘X’ is unknowable then knowing X to be true would be impossible. One might also argue, on the assumption that the world is not perfect, indeed includes much suffering, that it is illogical to assert that the world been created by and now ruled by a God that is omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent.

    One might be sees a problem with the argument of regarding the “concept of an undetectable God”, as the conclusion that such conceived entity cannot logically exist might demolish the conceptual meaning of its own premises so that the argument leads to a self-contradicton. I think one can counter-argue that the concept of an illogical God can exist as a thought in the believer’s mind, even though the God itself does not. (Yet I admit one might wonder what even the mental existence of a logically impossible concept might be – see below on 4-sides triangles).

    Concerning the argument from presence of evil (imperfection), this might not be watertight logically, as unlike the first argument it goes beyond the meanings of the concept, but relies upon evidence (that world is imperfect).

    But, if those or other counter-arguments do not carry, it might then be possible to show the logical impossibility of some kinds of Gods and thus their non-existence. The set of logically impossible Gods would then, I think, include the claimed Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity (deities). That would be an atheism based not just on the assertion that that there is no evidence for Jahweh, the Trinity or Allah, but that that kind of God is impossible through self contradiction: in the way that beliefs that there are four sided triangles, or objects simultaneously entirely red and green are logically impossible. This would an absolute, 100% atheism, ie one that does not require reference to evidence, or appeal to the dangers of religion, only to logic and the meaning of words. This would be a different kind of atheism than that of RD’s – and many others, including my own, which is linked to evidence – or the lack of it – ie the vast amounts for science, none for God and much against religion’s virtues.

    I suspect that for many atheists a logical dismissal of kinds of God might be of some interest, but perhaps not a lot. Probably also it would not cut much ice with presently committed believers – but then, neither does good scientific evidence. However, there have been some theological arguments of the inevitability of God, ie that God is logically necessary, so perhaps a watertight logical case against God might be of some use as well alongside the evidential ones. But, as I allude to above, I am not that well versed in philosophy and it seems quite possible, likely, that my argument here has already been devised, gone over – and maybe done over!

    Finally(!), as I said before, but perhaps causing some confusion, even if there is a valid case for 100% atheism regarding gods that can be shown to be logically impossible (and that this rules out gods such as Jahweh) other gods that are not inherently illogical are not absolutely ruled out eg local ‘tribal’ gods, the pantheon of Hindus, etc. But that simply takes us back to usual challenges from evidential atheism – what is the good evidence for Ganesh, Kali & so on?



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  • 71
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #70 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #65 by Mr DArcy:

    pologies for errors – below should read:

    “One might also argue, on the assumption that the world is not perfect, indeed includes much suffering, that it is illogical to assert that the world HAS been created by and IS now ruled by a God that is omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent.

    One might see a problem with the argument of regarding the “concept of an undetectable God” [deleted ‘be’]

    I may yet have missed others! Sorry



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  • 72
    GRAViL says:

    …. No one knows if there is a God or not….. as “free thinkers” we make our own decisions in life and live with the consequences. I personally don’t care who writes about what… Dawkins can write all the books he wants and he can quote any one he wants… but at the end of the day he cannot prove that god does not exist…. likewise the pope or any other religious “authority” cannot prove that god doers exist.

    For me this is as simple…. Why do people find it so difficult and why do people care what Dawkins thinks… he’s as much of an expert as anyone else on the topic… in fact there are no experts….



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  • 74
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #72 by GRAViL:

    …. No one knows if there is a God or not….. as “free thinkers” we make our own decisions in life and live with the consequences. I personally don’t care who writes about what… Dawkins can write all the books he wants and he can quote any one he wants… but at the end of the day he cannot prove that god does not exist…. likewise the pope or any other religious “authority” cannot prove that god doers exist.
    … For me this is as simple…. Why do people find it so difficult and why do people care what Dawkins thinks… he’s as much of an expert as anyone else on the topic… in fact there are no experts….

    Oh dear.

    Not being able to disprove ‘X’ is no evidence that ‘X’ is true: for that, you need positive evidence for ‘X’. I’d argue that there could be a near infinity of propositions that cannot be disproved 100%, since no proposition about the world can be absolutely disproved ie outside deductive logic or mathematics. However, observations can lead one to reasonably conclude that X is false.

    (It may seem that some worldly propositions can be 100% disproved. For example, ‘all swans are white’ is seemingly contradicted by observations of Australian black swans. But one can get around that by claiming that on each occasion anyone thinks they are seeing a black swan, they are in truth hallucinating, or have temporary eyesight problems, or have been psychically hypnotised by black swannist heretics – etc. Hence the caveat of ‘reasonably conclude’).

    I cannot 100% prove that Prince Philip (consort of the British monarch) is not a deity and that he will never send a plane with Cargo to some south sea island. But that doesn’t make that belief true – even though I think some might still believe it, or did so in the recent past (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Philip_Movement).



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  • 75
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #73 by WMcEnaney:

    I’ve heard two lectures where Prof. Alvin Plantinga argues that evolution by natural section is incompatible with metaphysical naturalism.

    He can argue as much as he likes, but tens of thousands of independent biological studies prove him wrong!



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  • 76
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #74 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #72 by GRAViL:

    …. No one knows if there is a God or not…..

    Did you have a particular god in mind? List of deities – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – There are thousands of gods which may not exist and in all probability don’t!

    but at the end of the day he cannot prove that god does not exist…

    Were you planning to go down the list disproving all the gods? – Or are you prepared to accept that the onus of proof is on those making claims for the existence of their gods? – and that absence of evidence is a reasonable basis for accepting this as evidence of absence!



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  • 77
    WMcEnaney says:

    I think that answer is a little premature if you haven’t read his argument. Nagel’s article will tell you about it. I submitted a thread about the problem of induction. If the moderators don’t post it, I may explain that problem, Alan, because your comments about tens of thousands is a good way to introduce that problem. Then you may discover that whether they know it or not, scientists trust induction on secular faith.In reply to #75 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #73 by WMcEnaney:

    I’ve heard two lectures where Prof. Alvin Plantinga argues that evolution by natural section is incompatible with metaphysical naturalism.

    He can argue as much as he likes, but tens of thousands of independent biological studies prove him wrong!



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  • 78
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #77 by WMcEnaney:

    I always thought that metaphysical claims were untestable in principle, so how do Plantinga or Nagel know? Are they relying on some sort of revelation?



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  • 79
    WMcEnaney says:

    No, Peter, they’re not talking about any kind of revelation. Plantinga is talking about logical inconsistency, and Nagel is an atheist. I don’t need to be an empirical scientist to analyze two “isms.” An “ism” differs from what it’s about.
    In reply to #78 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #77 by WMcEnaney:

    I always thought that metaphysical claims were untestable in principle, so how do Plantinga or Nagel know? Are they relying on some sort of revelation?



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  • 80
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #79 by WMcEnaney:

    I don’t need to be an empirical scientist to analyze two “isms.”

    Evolution is not an ism. I’m a methodological naturalist and an agnostic atheist. You can keep your metaphysics, physics is good enough for me.



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  • 81
    Peter Grant says:

    I realise now that I should have put “metaphysics” in inverted commas. I apologise for the false humility, I blame it on my religious background.



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  • 82
    Ornicar says:

    It depends on what you call gods. (Thou shall worship only one, therefore there are many)

    Science can “dream” of a creator. Maybe we are living in a simulated universe, an experiment from a technologically advanced alien student. Why not ? Let’s dream…

    What science can hardly dream of, is a feeling that would explain nature. If you feel infinite love for an invisible presence, good for you. But from the same feeling, a Hindu, a Christian and a Zulu would draw opposite conclusions regarding the origin of mankind or the meaning of life.



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  • 83
    FutureAndAHope says:

    Hi dc,

    I have not read the God Delusion, but before you make up your mind about God, I ask you to consider what God has done in my life. He has performed for me peronally many proofs of his existance. I have them recorded at http://www.futureandahope.net/

    Following is one of the stories off the site, there are many others.

    One morning I got up and walked into the hall and I heard a voice that I believed was God say “How would you like to be stabbed in the Valley”. The Valley was known as the rough end of town, and the voice scared me a little, I wondered if I had done something to offend God. I had planned to go down to the Valley to ask people out to church as was my habit at the time. In the end I went anyway regardless of the fear. I walked up to the first person I met and asked him if he would like to go out to church. He said to me “I am an atheist, I don’t believe in God”. I just said “fine”, but hoped to change his mind. He then proceeded to unbutton his shirt and showed me scar marks up and down his chest and stomach. He said to me, “I was attacked by a knife wielding man in the Valley some time ago and spent months recovering in hospital, How could God allow that to happen to me”. Then I knew why God had said in the morning “How would I like to be stabbed?”. God understood this man, but had a good plan for him. Some weeks latter this man came out to church and became a Christian.

    Learning never ends.



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  • 84
    Ignorant Amos says:

    In reply to #83 by FutureAndAHope:

    One morning I got up and walked into the hall and I heard a voice that I believed was God say “How would you like to be stabbed in the Valley”. The Valley was known as the rough end of town, and the voice scared me a little, I wondered if I had done something to offend God. I had planned to go down to the Valley to ask people out to church as was my habit at the time. In the end I went anyway regardless of the fear. I walked up to the first person I met and asked him if he would like to go out to church. He said to me “I am an atheist, I don’t believe in God”. I just said “fine”, but hoped to change his mind. He then proceeded to unbutton his shirt and showed me scar marks up and down his chest and stomach. He said to me, “I was attacked by a knife wielding man in the Valley some time ago and spent months recovering in hospital, How could God allow that to happen to me”. Then I knew why God had said in the morning “How would I like to be stabbed?”. God understood this man, but had a good plan for him. Some weeks latter this man came out to church and became a Christian.

    Really? Seriously? Well blow me over…I must convert to….what religion are you again? That is one very convincing god story. I’m in!!!



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  • 85
    achromat666 says:

    Hi dc,

    [Quote of deleted post removed by moderator.]

    Learning indeed never ends. Here’a a lesson for you:

    You’re preaching. Every post you’ve made since you joined the site today has been preaching and each one has been flagged. This means that the moderators will get them and you will likely be banned. This isn’t a site for ministering or testifying. If you have actual evidence to provide you will have to do a LOT better than hustling stories from your own website.

    Now, as I suspect you only came to the site to either post responses to your remarks for your site to make yourself look good or just in the vain hopes of actually having somebody go there this probably means very little to you. But if that’s the case I hope it was worth it.



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  • 86
    WMcEnaney says:

    No worries, Peter. I know of many scientists and scientifically-minded people who may think science replaces metaphysics or that they’ll leave it to philosophers because scientists look for scientific explanations, not for philosophical ones. If you put “metaphysics” in quotation marks, I would have wondered whether you rejected metaphysics in itself. Maybe you do. But science makes plenty of metaphysical assumptions. For example, it assumes that the natural world exists, and any statement about the existence of someone or something has at least implications about the nature of reality. Metaphysicians try to to give a fully general account of everything that exists.

    I’ll try to put Dr. Plantinga’s points in my own words. But here’s link to his talk. Even if you ignore the rest of it, you probably will enjoy his funny comments about solipsism.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVlMK9Ejhb0

    Plantinga isn’t saying that evolution is an ism. He is telling us that our belief will belief will be logically inconsistent if we accept evolution and metaphysical naturalism. Before I can explain why, I’ll need to study the argument a while. Plantinga believes in theistic evolution, and he rejects metaphysical naturalism.
    In reply to #81 by Peter Grant:

    I realise now that I should have put “metaphysics” in inverted commas. I apologise for the false humility, I blame it on my religious background.



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  • In reply to #73 by WMcEnaney:

    I’ve heard two lectures where Prof. Alvin Plantinga argues that evolution by natural section is incompatible with metaphysical naturalism. Here’s Thomas’s Nagel’s review of Planing’s book. If the lecture interests anyone, I’ll post a link to it.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/sep/2

    After reading the article on the thoughts of Alvin Plantinga I amazed anew at the considerable thought and intellectual effort that has to be put into supporting a theistic worldview against all the evidence to the contrary. I’m sure he would be sincere in his opinion, and is obviously no fool, but it must require huge amounts of mental energy to keep on task and not let the doubts creep in.

    Mostly, I found the line of reasoning incomprehensible. I think the section of his argument printed in the article was one long example of a Dan Dennett ‘deepity’. Sounds impressive, but under close scrutiny…….



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  • 88
    WMcEnaney says:

    Maybe Plantinga’s talk will be more understandable. I thought Nagel’s book review was easy to read because I already know some philosophy. I better know some because I hold a degree in it. Here’s another copy of the link to Plantinga’s talk. I’ll try to sum up the argument. But I’ve written poorly enough here that I don’t know how well I can explain the argument. Bergsma’s summary may be even clearer than Planting’s lecture. So if you want to, please fast-forward the video to 0:56:55.In reply to #87 by Nitya:

    In reply to #73 by WMcEnaney:

    I’ve heard two lectures where Prof. Alvin Plantinga argues that evolution by natural section is incompatible with metaphysical naturalism. Here’s Thomas’s Nagel’s review of Planing’s book. If the lecture interests anyone, I’ll post a link to it.

    http://www.nybooks.c



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  • In reply to #88 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe Plantinga’s talk will be more understandable. I thought Nagel’s book review was easy to read because I already know some philosophy. I better know some because I hold a degree in it. Here’s another copy of the link to Plantinga’s talk. I’ll try to sum up the argument. But I’ve written poo…

    Many people apologise for their poor expression when trying to convey thoughts from a theistic standpoint. I don’t think it is their problem however, I think the problem lies in the content of the argument. The difficulty seems to found in trying to express a feeling rather than a point of view.

    I have only ever studied the philosophy of education so I probably break all the rules, but I just plough on regardless. I do indulge in the odd philosophical discussion with friends and I enjoy reading the thoughts of the well known atheist philosophers, ( because they confirm my worldview).

    On occasion I read the thoughts of Christian philosophers, but I always find them so difficult to comprehend! Tortuous! I rationalise by telling myself that it can’t be me. I’m well read. I can understand most things even if I have to go over it a few times and read very slowly. So.. I usually come to the conclusion that they’re the ones at fault.



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  • 90
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #86 by WMcEnaney:

    He is telling us that our belief will belief will be logically inconsistent if we accept evolution and metaphysical naturalism.

    It’s absolutely adorable the way you metaphysicians think you can work out life, the universe and everything from first principles.



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  • 91
    WMcEnaney says:

    I don’t think I can work out life, Peter. In fact, I goofed. Plantinga was talking about self-referential incoherence. I agree with Plantinga when says that we can’t rationally accept evolution and naturalism. Since I agree with him on this point, if he’s wrong about it, so am I But to me, many scientists seem to ignore first principles. Some even make some absurd statements because they’re logical positivists.

    For example, I watched a YouTube video where a biology professor said that if there’s no evidence for a belief, it’s false. I may believe that my friend Brian is at my door, even when I have do reason to believe that he’s there. But if he’s there then, my belief still conforms to the way things are in the world.reply to #90 by Peter Grant:_

    In reply to #86 by WMcEnaney:

    He is telling us that our belief will belief will be logically inconsistent if we accept evolution and metaphysical naturalism.

    It’s absolutely adorable the way you metaphysicians think you can work out life, the universe and everything from first principles.



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  • 92
    WMcEnaney says:

    Maybe I should have mentioned another point, Nitya: For days, I’ve been depressed and almost sleepless. I write much more clearly when I feel rested, energetic and cheerful. The points I want to make are not emotional ones. But my emotions may be making them hard for me to make. I think I can put my points in very simple, conversational prose. That’s just hard to do right now when my OCD has been keeping me at the computer.In reply to #89 by Nitya:

    In reply to #88 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe Plantinga’s talk will be more understandable. I thought Nagel’s book review was easy to read because I already know some philosophy. I better know some because I hold a degree in it. Here’s another copy of the link to Plantinga’s talk. I’ll try to sum up the…



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  • In reply to #92 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I should have mentioned another point, Nitya: For days, I’ve been depressed and almost sleepless. I write much more clearly when I feel rested, energetic and cheerful. The points I want to make are not emotional ones. But my emotions may be making them hard for me to make. I think I can p…

    I’m sorry to have pressed the point. Yes, I know what you mean. It’s hard to make a a clear statement when you’re not 100%. I often look back on things I’ve written and wonder why on earth I’ve said anything. Always wise in hindsight!



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  • 94
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #91 by WMcEnaney:

    I agree with Plantinga when says that we can’t rationally accept evolution and naturalism.

    I don’t accept any absolutist ideology, the scientific method is simply the most rational means we have of acquiring knowledge.



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  • 95
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #92 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I should have mentioned another point, Nitya: For days, I’ve been depressed and almost sleepless. I write much more clearly when I feel rested, energetic and cheerful…

    I’ve enjoyed following your posts ever since you explained how non-productive sex can occasionally be moral.

    Having listened to Plantinga I can assure you that you certainly make a helluva lot more sense than he does, more especially when you’re tired it seems to me, so don’t let Nitya discourage you.



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  • 96
    WMcEnaney says:

    Hi Len,

    Thank you for your kind, reassuring thoughts. I needed to read them partly because extreme self-doubt is one of my major problems.

    Gee, thanks for blowing my cover. : ) I rejoined using my real last name partly because I hate pseudonyms. I’ve posted at some boards where some posters insult and character-assassinate other as though they believe that they’re acting when they do that. Then they can tell themselves, “I didn’t say that. my ‘alter ego’ did.'” They “hide behind” their screen names. Character-assassination is evil enough when people do it in person. But they can destroy the reputations of others when they commit that sin on a board where millions of people can read the posts.

    Plantinga and other analytic philosophers can confuse people, especially when they abbreviate what they could spell out. I don’t mind artificial languages, mathematical logic’s notation, say. Sometimes I even prefer them to natural language. But during Plantinga’s talk, I forgot what “R” stood for.In reply to #95 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #92 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I should have mentioned another point, Nitya: For days, I’ve been depressed and almost sleepless. I write much more clearly when I feel rested, energetic and cheerful…

    I’ve enjoyed following your posts ever since you explained how non-productive sex can occa…



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  • 97
    WMcEnaney says:

    Knowledge about the natural world or knowledge? I can think of some kinds of non-scientific knowledge. Scientism says that science is our only source of genuine knowledge. But we can’t use scientism to prove that scientism is true. Any scientific argument for scientism would be circular. So would any inductive argument for the reliability of induction.
    In reply to #94 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #91 by WMcEnaney:

    I agree with Plantinga when says that we can’t rationally accept evolution and naturalism.

    I don’t accept any absolutist ideology, the scientific method is simply the most rational means we have of acquiring knowledge.



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  • 98
    WMcEnaney says:

    No problem, Nitya. I’ve been much less than 100% for months.
    In reply to #93 by Nitya:

    In reply to #92 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I should have mentioned another point, Nitya: For days, I’ve been depressed and almost sleepless. I write much more clearly when I feel rested, energetic and cheerful. The points I want to make are not emotional ones. But my emotions may be making them hard f…



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  • 99
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #91 by WMcEnaney:

    I don’t think I can work out life, Peter. In fact, I goofed. Plantinga was talking about self-referential incoherence. I agree with Plantinga when says that we can’t rationally accept evolution and naturalism.

    Nagel paraphrases of Plantinga thus: That the naturalistic conception of the world, and of ourselves as products of unguided Darwinian evolution, makes it unreasonable for us to believe that our cognitive faculties are reliable, and therefore unreasonable to believe any theories they may lead us to form, including the theory of evolution.

    I think others have also argued that this fundamental argument is unsound.

    First, beings that cannot draw reasonable conclusions from evidence are unlikely to thrive or survive e.g., being unable to respond appropriately to threats or, if a hunter, plan a a successful hunt. I think there is lots to suggest human mental abilities are evolved from other animal ones, ie evolved. It is true that the human genome did not evolve in the context of modern science, but I would assert that many others skills – musicianship, philosophical debate, sport, art uses the flexibility of the brain. Indeed, I think one could argue that humans were naturally selected to be adaptive: tool making, communication, clothes making, cooking, farming all increased humankind on the basis of generalisable abilities (I very much doubt there is a specific flint arrow making gene). I’d say that flexibility is the key to human success and science – methodical curiosity and application – an excellent justification for the doubtless many genes that make up intelligence. So, the science that led to evolution and ‘naturalism’ does not led one to doubt science, as the intellectual flexibility and rational capacity that science needs is arguably a likely product of human evolution.

    But all that must be tempered by another point – yet one which also goes against Plantiga’s ‘naturalism’ argument. To wit – humans very often do not act rationally. Indeed, science is usually found to be difficult to do and maybe even harder work for most to understand. But that we can recognise when unreason creeps into science, and develop the mechanisms to combat it (qualifications, research grant submission assessments, statistical tests, peer review, etc) suggests that – at least sometimes – we have good reason to value scientific findings, including evolution and – if the evidence supports it ‘naturalism’.

    Maybe also, in a parallel to how rational beings are are more likely to thrive, one could observe that successful science is more likely to work. This ignoring of the practical testability and application of science arguably betrays Plantiga’s metaphysical background. Naturalism arises from humans brains – yet, however fallible the results of such ‘unguided Darwinian evolution’ might be, the the lights usually come on, planes rarely drop from the sky – etc. There seems to be no need to invoke God for science’s success – it is judged by its own results.

    In short, I fail to see how Plantiga’s invocation of ‘naturalism’ in any way undermines the scientific theory of evolution.



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  • In reply to #98 by WMcEnaney:

    No problem, Nitya. I’ve been much less than 100% for months.
    In reply to #93 by Nitya:

    In reply to #92 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I should have mentioned another point, Nitya: For days, I’ve been depressed and almost sleepless. I write much more clearly when I feel rested, energetic and cheerful. The…

    I was going to answer with a ‘like’. That doesn’t seem right.

    Have a good day.



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  • 101
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #97 by WMcEnaney:

    Knowledge about the natural world or knowledge?

    knowledge, not Knowledge.

    I can think of some kinds of non-scientific knowledge.

    I’m pretty sure you can, but will I believe you? Can you provide examples?

    Scientism says that science is our only source of genuine knowledge.

    And I say that science is merely the best method we have at our disposal. Science works, this is undeniable.

    So would any inductive argument for the reliability of induction.

    When taking an inductive leap the footing is not absolutely certain, but the leap seems to be required to gain real, RATIOnal knowledge.



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  • 102
    WMcEnaney says:

    Peter, you know about mathematics, and scientists do mathematics. But mathematics isn’t a natural science. You don’t need to do scientific research to know that you exist. You’d still know you existed, even if you didn’t know that there was such thing as science. I’m sure that my grow light’s designer needed to know lots of scientific truths when he designed the lights that my Venus Flytraps live under. But I don’t need to know any science to know whether those lights are on. I don’t need science to tell me how things seem to me. In fact, everybody is infallible about how things seem to him. The way they are may differ from the way they seem. Still, are you going to say, “I believe that I seem to be thinking now, but maybe I it doesn’t seem to me that I’m thinking now?”In reply to #101 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #97 by WMcEnaney:

    Knowledge about the natural world or knowledge?

    knowledge, not Knowledge.

    I can think of some kinds of non-scientific knowledge.

    I’m pretty sure you can, but will I believe you? Can you provide examples?

    Scientism says that science is our only source of genuine kno…



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  • 103
    WMcEnaney says:

    In reply to #100 by Nitya:

    In reply to #98 by WMcEnaney:

    No problem, Nitya. I’ve been much less than 100% for months.
    If you had said “like,” I probably would have asked, “Like what?” Thanks fo the good wishes. In reply to #93 by Nitya:

    In reply to #92 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I should have mentioned another point, Nitya: For days, I’ve been depressed and almost sleepless. I write much more clearly when I feel reste…



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  • 105
    WMcEnaney says:

    I don’t understand, Peter. I hope you’re not implying that you think you’re suffering from Dissociative Disorder, because I think that would be a very tough, very emotionally painful challenge. In reply to #104 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #102 by WMcEnaney:

    I am not absolutely sure that I exist. I may be more than one personality.



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  • 107
    WMcEnaney says:

    Steve, I’m still wondering what to write about your post. But now that I’m beginning to understand Planting’s argument, I think I know what it is Plantinga would say about your points. The longer I reflect on his argument, the surer I am that naturalism and evolution are incompatible with each other. I just wanted you and others that I’m not ignoring anything that anyone wrote to reply to me. In reply to #99 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #91 by WMcEnaney:

    I don’t think I can work out life, Peter. In fact, I goofed. Plantinga was talking about self-referential incoherence. I agree with Plantinga when says that we can’t rationally accept evolution and naturalism.

    Nagel paraphrases of Plantinga thus: That the naturali…



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  • 108
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #106 by WMcEnaney:

    Here’s a clearer speech Plantinga gave to explain his evolutionary argument against naturalism.

    Yes, that explains it, thanks.

    I noticed Plantinga’s philosophical method is fatally flawed. From his talk it became perfectly clear how poor parenting, especially by his father, has evidently stunted his intellectual development. He’s far too easily confused by concepts like evolution, naturalism and god/s. I think his lack of education provokes him to speak by irrationally assembling special words he knows will be impressive to his scientifically-illiterate devotees.

    Half way through watching my friendly postman interrupted with a parcel. He’s an excellent philosopher so I asked him about Plantinga’s glossolalia. He attributes the confusion to narrow-mindedness, citing his obstinate refusal to consider Ahura Mazda’s enormous contribution to creation mythology, so many years before biblegod’s dad supposedly built everything too.

    Plantinga’s inability to understand The God Delusion illuminates his intellectual limitations I reckon. Even the lucid philosopher Daniel Dennett confuses poor Plantinga. He’s merely another theologian masquerading as a philosopher, according to my postman anyway.



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  • 109
    WMcEnaney says:

    Maybe I’m wrong. But you seem to be committing the genetic fallacy. It’s as though you’re saying, “Don’t believe what Plantinga says about naturalism and evolution. After all, lousy fathering explains how he came to believe it.” There’s an anthology about his argument, a book called “Naturalism Defeated,” where even some atheistic contributors say that his argument is ingenious. Though they criticize it, they don’t dismiss it out of hand. In reply to #108 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #106 by WMcEnaney:

    Here’s a clearer speech Plantinga gave to explain his evolutionary argument against naturalism.

    Yes, that explains it, thanks.

    I noticed Plantinga’s philosophical method is fatally flawed. From his talk it became perfectly clear how poor parenting, especially by hi…



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  • 110
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #109 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    What you seem determined to fail to realise is that we are not even trying to defend “metaphysical naturalism”.

    Your arguments might be worth presenting to followers of Ayn Rand, not Richard Dawkins.



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  • 111
    WMcEnaney says:

    No, you’re not trying to defend it, but I’ll bet you’re assuming it. Planting defines it as, “the belief that there’s no God or anything like God.” You might call it “anti-supernaturalism.” If most of Rand’s followers are much like her, the probably wouldn’t find Plantinga’s argument any more convincing than Daekin’s followers do. I’ve watched YoutTube videoed interviews where she got angry because someone disagreed with her. She felt insulted, too, because a woman said something like, “I used to agree with you, but now that I’ve learned more . . .” Rand kept complaining that the woman was impolite when no one else who said anything about her comment thought she was that way.In reply to #110 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #109 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    What you seem determined to fail to realise is that we are not even trying to defend “metaphysical naturalism”.

    Your arguments might be worth presenting to followers of Ayn Rand, not Richard Dawkins.



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  • 112
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #111 by WMcEnaney:

    No, you’re not trying to defend it, but I’ll bet you’re assuming it. Planting defines it as, “the belief that there’s no God or anything like God.” You might call it “anti-supernaturalism.”

    No, I told you, I’m an agnostic atheist. I simply lack any belief in “gods”. I haven’t even ever encountered a non-self-refuting definition of “God”, so I can honestly say I have no idea what you are talking about and I suspect that neither do you.



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  • 113
    achromat666 says:

    Here is the position in summary from Wikipedia:

    In Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, he argues that the truth of evolution is an epistemic defeater for naturalism (i.e. if evolution is true, it undermines naturalism).

    He argues but never demonstrates.

    His basic argument is that if evolution and naturalism are both true, human cognitive faculties evolved to produce beliefs that have survival value (maximizing one’s success at the four F’s: “feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing”), not necessarily to produce beliefs that are true. Thus, since human cognitive faculties are tuned to survival rather than truth in the naturalism-evolution model, there is reason to doubt the veracity of the products of those same faculties, including naturalism and evolution themselves.

    Let’s get a couple definitions out of the way here…

    Naturalism is “the idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world; (occas.) the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.”[1] Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.[2]

    Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.[1]

    So, evolution taking place in the natural world, regardless of the position assumed by Plantinga isn’t in any way at odds with each other even as it refers to the ability for humans to seek knowledge. Evolution is part of the natural world. You can argue whatever you like regarding how the human faculties came to be as they are (and scientists are far better equipped to do this) but to draw this conclusion….

    On the other hand, if God created man “in his image” by way of an evolutionary process (or any other means), then Plantinga argues our faculties would probably be reliable.

    Because of course it just goes back to intelligent design, which has nothing to support it at all. No formal definition of God (or designer) that doesn’t contradict itself, nothing to establish any real conflict between naturalism and evolution except a need to throw a god into the equation.

    Once again, attempting to assume philosophers as being superior in attaining knowledge for something they only pretend to know. What evidence does he provide that survival values don’t offer the ability to reason exactly? What reason do we have to assume that there has to be a designer at work even if the first part of the postulate has any value (which I certainly can’t see)?

    What reason do we have to assume that this is anything but another attempt to put a theist spin on scientific endeavor?



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  • 114
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #113 by achromat666:

    What reason do we have to assume that this is anything but another attempt to put a theist spin on scientific endeavour?

    Indeed! 😀



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  • 115
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #86 by WMcEnaney:

    Plantinga believes in theistic evolution, and he rejects metaphysical naturalism.

    Theistic evolution is a poorly defined bendy subject, which claims to accept the scientific Darwinian Theory, but at the same time inserts god-fiddled-with-it. It is not a scientific theory, and its proponents vary its specifications according to their argument of the day – remaining vague and often contradicting each other.

    The validity of scientific theories is in no way dependent on who “believes in them”. They check out consistently on test, or they don’t qualify as scientific theories!



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  • 116
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #107 by WMcEnaney:

    Steve, I’m still wondering what to write about your post. But now that I’m beginning to understand Planting’s argument, I think I know what it is Plantinga would say about your points. The longer I reflect on his argument, the surer I am that naturalism and evolution are incompatible with each other

    I admit to finding Plantiga’s talk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwE_D9GUC0s) hard to follow – as indeed he warned might happen without handouts or a philosophical training and I got especially lost in his arguments over the probability of R and E. But with that caveat, I think my original idea of Plantiga’s argument was right – that he says that minds evolved by natural selection alone (without Divine intervention, ie the naturalist position) would be likely to yield unreliable beliefs – as selection is for behaviour that leads to reproductive success, not beliefs as such. to summarise my post , I was not convinced by his rejection of ‘naturalism’ and so far as the OP goes, he did nothing to persuade me there is more to the material world than can be dreamt of.

    Fundamentally, I think Plantinga does not accept the possibilities of natural selection – indeed, emphasises the randomness of mutations. This seems in the same broad area as the vague assertions that flight, eyes, etc, are too complex to have evolved ‘by chance’. This is in part an empirical claim, ie contests biological evidence for (or against) natural selection as the explanatory mechanism for evolution and adaption.

    As he predicted for those (like me) lacking both the handouts or a philosophical training – and with his lack of a blackboard – he completely lost me on his probability of E and R: a transcript might help. But, insofar as I could follow it, I did not see how his probability argument worked eg it seems curious to say that because there were many potentially wrong, if fanciful, beliefs that could account for someone fleeing a tiger meant that the probability that single true belief – of being eaten – was held is low (as noted I may have got him wrong – I find his style abstruse and prone to long diversions). But is it rigorous to assess the truth of an assertion on a probabilistic way by adding up all the possible alternatives, however odd (eg he suggested someone might think the tiger was a signal for a race). To me, probability is applied to the likelihood of countable events or items, not infinitely mutable ideas – and that part of his argument seems fallacious.

    Plantinga also seems to infer from the uncertain reliability of naturally evolved minds in producing true beliefs that such minds can never reliably produce true beliefs (and virtually implies, as a later questioner almost pinned him down on, that correct thinking requires divine guidance). If minds were like clocks, that might be true so far as knowing the time. But minds are not clocks: maybe a bit like long wave radios ie prone to distortion and sometimes losing the signal all together, but not utterly useless (minds process and change data so this simile is limited). Indeed, the presence of false beliefs – which Plantinga acknowledged – surely suggests humans are fallible. In which case – what of divine design?

    Interestingly, the questioners challenged Plantinga’s strange probabilistic semi-disconnection between belief and behaviour. One took Plantiga’s assertion of a disconnect to nonetheless agree that learning mechanisms (irrespective of belief) are needed but then questioning that a disconnection between belief and behaviour would be compatible with successive generations of successful and learning organisms (I think Plantiga misunderstood that student’s confirmation of what Plantiga had argued as showing agreement – which I don’t think it was!). And again it was a questioner who suggested that beliefs can be tested – ie they do not simply arise and lead to actions from the (supposedly routinely) unreliable brain, but are reviewed and can be changed in light of experience (so obviating the need to invoke divine input).

    So, I’m sorry, but I was not impressed by Plantiga’s philosophy, which has an almost medieval flavour in that it seems as if he knew the right theological conclusion and had to stretch his case to reach it. With somewhat poor logic, he tried to discount natural selection leading to brains for developing correct beliefs by a specious disconnection between belief and behaviour while obscurely misapplying probability. By contrast, I was impressed by the clarity of the student’s questions.



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  • 117
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #116 by steve_hopker:

    By contrast, I was impressed by the clarity of the student’s questions.

    I confess I didn’t bother watching it, but I’m sure the student was clearer.



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  • 118
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #109 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe I’m wrong. But you seem to be committing the genetic fallacy.…some atheistic contributors say that his argument is ingenious. Though they criticize it, they don’t dismiss it out of hand. .

    Yes. You’re mistaken. All I’ve offered is a humble differential diagnosis about the curdled state of the mind of a philosophical chiropractor and maybe I am wrong, but on the evidence available I can’t think how.

    Easy to dismiss an evangelical Protestant who concocts a “rough intersection of the great Christian creeds” according to Nagel, and who clearly lacks any respect for competing creeds which share comparable logic with his biblical mythology.

    Alvin Plantinga is convinced Yahweh achieved it all by himself, and still intercedes. His obsession with the biblegod is the psychological feature he most floridly exhibits. His parochial contempt for such worthwhile competitors as Mazda, Saturn and Mercury is implicit. In Plantinganese these models have inferior WARRANTies.

    In the last lecture you furnished he audibly, though unconsciously, confesses that his dad is apparently responsible. I dunno. Most people survive ignorant parenting with a modicum of success. Some, like Alvin, can’t manage to abandon those early ontological fantasies, obsess over them, and consequently remain epistemologically barren until they expire, still babbling incoherently.

    Alvin imagines atheists all suffer from a blocked ** sensus divinitatis ** and that’s just philosophical chiropractic.



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  • 119
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #107 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m not ignoring anything that anyone wrote to reply to me.

    You may not be ignoring anything but your failure to comprehend is evident.



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  • 120
    WMcEnaney says:

    My failure to comprehend what, Peter? Maybe your comment about about ways I way to hint that, if I’m going to post about metaphysical naturalism, I should do that in another thread on this board or at a board where Ayn Rand’s followers post?

    I definitely didn’t understand the post where you said something like, “I’m not absolutely sure I exist. I may have more than one personality.” That comment confused me partly because you seemed to conflate your personality and you. That’s why I wondered whether you might have been agreeing with stage ontologists who believe that each person consists of a set of stages. Maybe because although people save different properties at different times and on different days, they’re still the same people. Tomorrow I’ll be a day older than I am now, but I won’t change into someone else. Tomorrow morning, when I get up, I’ll still be Bill McEnaney. I won’t have morphed into, say, Jussi Bjorling, my favorite singer. If I ever had transgender surgery, I’d still be biologically male partly because I’d still have the chromosome that distinguishes men from women.

    Anyone here is welcome to ignore anything I post on this board. So if you want to do that, maybe it’ll be a good way to save some time.

    Bill In reply to #119 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #107 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m not ignoring anything that anyone wrote to reply to me.

    You may not be ignoring anything but your failure to comprehend is evident.



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  • 121
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #120 by WMcEnaney:

    Anyone here is welcome to ignore anything I post on this board post?

    Thank you Bill. I did notice your difficulty explaining your ideas earlier and I ignored them as others politely engaged with you. I’m slow and I’m still pondering your moral rules for non-procreative sex.

    You introduced Plantinga because his lecture supposedly clarified you stance. We wasted time watching, listening and researching what can only be loosely regarded as thoughts by Alvin. That prompted me to join the discussion because, as I said, you appear to be more sensible than Alvin.

    Steve_Hopker noted With somewhat poor logic, he (Alvin) tried to discount natural selection leading to brains for developing correct beliefs by a specious disconnection between belief and behaviour while obscurely misapplying probability. Plantinga’s technique is to apply a glossalalic version of theology best characterised as * ‘fisticated word salad. *. His bizarre theory is that all atheists have a blocked * sensus divinatis * which requires manipulation to align the * semen religionis * in their brains.

    That’s just philosophical woo Bill. An attempted vertebral subluxation for the brain.

    You may not make much more sense than he does Bill, but you’re polite and appear sincere, and I agree with those members who’ve already supported you.



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  • 123
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #118 by Len Walsh:

    Some, like Alvin, can’t manage to abandon those early ontological fantasies, obsess over them, and consequently remain epistemologically barren until they expire, still babbling incoherently.

    Alvin imagines atheists all suffer from a blocked sensus divinitatis and that’s just philosophical chiropractic.

    Which translated into in English, means that atheists, can’t see the reflected immaterial god-delusions on the mirrored inside of the woo-bucket he keeps over his head!
    They keep seeing real stuff by looking out objectively into the material universe!



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  • 124
    WMcEnaney says:

    I think I know that difference, Peter. But in the philosophical conversations I’ve joined, other people usually hinted that they were using some method or that they wanted me to use one. If you had asked me to suppose that you had more than one personality, I would have known that you weren’t telling me that you had more than one. When Professor Hilary Putnam asks his readers to suppose that they’re brains in vats, he’s asking them to think about the idea of being one to see what that idea implies. He’s not saying that they are brains in vats.In reply to #122 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #120 by WMcEnaney:

    My failure to comprehend what, Peter?

    The difference between an ideology and a method.



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  • 125
    WMcEnaney says:

    Thank you, Len. I don’t know how sensible I am, but I do know that I can write much more clearly than I’ve written here. Again, or months , I’ve been sleep deprived, depressed and grieving, but enough about personal problems.

    Plantinga can be hard to understand, especially when he abbreviates a definition with a letter. During the video you watched, sometimes I wondered whether he meant statistical probability, epistemic probability or both. To learn about epistemic probability, you may want to read Richard Swinburne’s book about confirmation theory. It’ll be full of notation like “P(t/e) < P(t/e1),” but it won’t be about statistics.

    I could fill a post with jargon from philosophy, theology, computer science, or any of those. But please don’t dismiss it as “speaking in tongues” merely because it’s new to you. If you give me an online lecture about quanta, it may confuse me thoroughly because I don’t know physics. Still, I’m not going to dismiss it as meaningless. Every field has its terms of art. So before I learned computer science and analytic philosophy, I had no idea what bytes and quantification theory were. Now I know what they are, though, because I’ve taken courses about computer science and logic. Maybe someday I’ll take physics, too.

    There’s a similar problem when Dawkins and his atheistic friends read the Bible. Since they haven’t learned about ancient Hebrew culture Semitic languages, biblical literary genres, ancient figures of speech and so forth, they read Scripture as though it’s a 21st-century. I know of fundamentalists who beat their children with rods because the Bible says, “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” never even imagining that “the rod” could be a metaphor for nonviolent discipline. In the passage where Christ says, “If your eye offends you, pluck it out,” he’s not advocating self-mutilation. He’s telling us not to let anything visual temp us to sin. But if you ignore background information, you’ll misinterpret the Bible. If you don’t understand Plantinga’s jargon, it’ll sound like nonsense, even when it’s thoroughly meaningful. Please use the principle of charity, folks. If someone says something that sounds foolish, remember that you just might be misinterpreting it. I’ve seen too little of that charity here when we’ve talked about religious topics. From my perspective, sarcastic, condescending wisecracks only lower the wisecracker’s credibility.

    By the way, I agree with Plantinga partly because I understand his argument.
    In reply to #121 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #120 by WMcEnaney:

    Anyone here is welcome to ignore anything I post on this board post?

    Thank you Bill. I did notice your difficulty explaining your ideas earlier and I ignored them as others politely engaged with you. I’m slow and I’m still pondering your moral rules for non-pr…



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  • 126
    aldous says:

    In reply to #125 by WMcEnaney:

    Since they haven’t learned about ancient Hebrew culture Semitic languages, biblical literary genres, ancient figures of speech and so forth, they read Scripture as though it’s a 21st-century.

    That’s the situation of 2.5 billion Christians. If a degree in theology isn’t required to accept the message of Christianity, why should it be required of atheists? Understanding the difference between the 21st century facts and the ancient fictions and falsehoods is actually what inspires a rejection of religion.



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  • 127
    achromat666 says:

    There’s a similar problem when Dawkins and his atheistic friends read the Bible. Since they haven’t learned about ancient Hebrew culture Semitic languages, biblical literary genres, ancient figures of speech and so forth, they read Scripture as though it’s a 21st-century.

    Once again, lumping everyone into neat categories.

    Different groups of people leave religion for many different reasons, many of them Catholic, and many of them quite scholarly on the subject. Pitting yourself against Dawkins and his Atheistic friends (sounds like an 80’s animated series) doesn’t do a thing to address the likes of Bart Ehrman, who probably has more credentials regarding both knowledge of the bible or reading it in its earlier languages than you do. So let’s dispense with the generalizing please.

    And unless you can find a translation that actually matches both with our current understanding of reality and doesn’t contradict itself, feel free to think what you wish to. Many of us come from religious backgrounds so you’re not conversing in a vacuum, just not amongst people that agree with you. There is a difference.

    A bronze age document (regardless of which document) is still just that: A document that reflects the attitudes, culture and limitations of the time it is written in. You are free to examine and believe of it whatever you like, but no one has to agree with that position. There are many different interpretations of the bible and none of them have been demonstrated to make the bible a factual or accurate document. Do you suppose your version of belief is more accurate than say, the Hebrews responsible for the writing of the Old Testament? There certainly wasn’t a consensus when the books that now make up the old and new testament were being agreed upon.

    This isn’t about reading as if it were the 21st century document, this is about the claims being made of the book, and those that make them. Additionally it’s about the claims being made by people about disputing science in favor of the belief supported in same book.

    You say we don’t understand the book as we should, I say you have not made your case that your interpretation is any more valid than any other reading of it.



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  • 128
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #124 by WMcEnaney:

    I think I know that difference, Peter.

    I see no evidence to this effect. You seem to equate method with a prescribed way of thinking about the world, I call that ideology. The scientific method is about going out, getting your hands dirty, and acquiring new knowledge which is repeatable and testable, knowledge that actually works and does something. Not just sitting around and wondering about hypothetical nonsense. Yes I might be a brain in a jar, but I have no way of knowing that I’m not, so why worry about it?



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  • 129
    WMcEnaney says:

    If you read many of my posts, you’ll know that I’m a hyper-analytical thinker who pays word meanings plenty of attention. So please assume that I know exactly what senses I’m using my words in when I post something. For example, here’s a way the dictionary at (http://www.dictionary.reference.com) mean by “ideology.” An ideology is a, “body of doctrine, myth , belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class or large group.” In that sense of that word, my ideology is Catholicism. Politically, I’m a thoroughly paleoconservative, traditional hereditary monarchist who would prefer to live in a Catholic kingdom where the monarch reigns and rules.

    Analytic philosophy is set of methods for doing philosophy. Philosophers use a method called “natural deduction” to write proofs in the languages of, say, first-order predicate logic and modal logic. The Scholastic method is a very precise, very intellectually demanding way to argue for philosophical conclusions, a method I’d love to see people use here. I’ve taken lab courses in both biology and microbiology. Microbiology fascinates me, so I still know how grow bacteria in broth and on agar. During the paleontology course I took in college, I even dug for fossils on a class field trip. Besides biology and microbiology, I took marine biology and geology, too. Yes, I’ve gotten my hands dirty literally and figuratively.

    Peter’s point about practical knowledge reminds of why I don’t want to be a scientist: I prefer pure theory to practice. I’d also like to be generalist enough to see things from a broad perspective. I don’t know how comfortable you are with reasoning about generalities. But I’d hate to be scientific enough that empirical evidence would be the only evidence I’d be willing to consider. Is it any wonder that while I read some posts here, I wonder whether their writers think the way they do because they’ve overspecialized? For me, some philosophical truths are vastly more important than anything anyone will learn through scientific research.

    To end this post, I’ll tell you a little about the Scholastic method that St. Thomas Aquinas and and other philosophers used in the 13th century. First, St. Thomas writes a question, whether God is all-powerful, for instance. Then he puts his critics’ objections in the most convincing way he can because he wants to show that he understands what the critics believe. Then he replies to each objection and writes his answer to the question. Try that method here, folks. It’s thoroughly convincing when you do it properly.

    In reply to #128 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #124 by WMcEnaney:

    I think I know that difference, Peter.

    I see no evidence to this effect. You seem to equate method with a prescribed way of thinking about the world, I call that ideology. The scientific method is about going out, getting your hands dirty, and acquiring new knowledge…



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  • 130
    achromat666 says:

    To end this post, I’ll tell you a little about the Scholastic method that St. Thomas Aquinas and and other philosophers used in the 13th century. First, St. Thomas writes a question, whether God is all-powerful, for instance. Then he puts his critics’ objections in the most convincing way he can because he wants to show that he understands what the critics believe. Then he replies to each objection and writes his answer to the question. Try that method here, folks. It’s thoroughly convincing when you do it properly.

    Interesting, I’ve responded to each of your posts I find of interest addressing the post themselves: You posted about First Cause, Plantinga and Thomas Aquinas, I respond to those issues in particular and you barely address me directly. Rather you respond in generalities and simply say we don’t understand (referring to me occasionally as achro, which I find annoying).

    And others most certainly have addressed the points more thoroughly than I and it doesn’t guarantee a response. So, is this about whether we’re responding to your liking, or that you don’t care for the answers? Another more poignant question, will any of us formatting our responses in this fashion make your points any more valid, and if they’re proven wrong would it make you change your mind?

    In any case, you haven’t demonstrated your positions as being either valid or even equal to empirical reasoning.



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  • 131
    WMcEnaney says:

    I know that people become atheists for various reasons. Most of my philosophy professors were atheists, too, including a Freudian who told his graduate students that a philosopher’s chief purpose is to convince people that there’s probably no God. How’s that for specialization? I learned cognitive science from a professor who was openly hostile to religion, and an acquaintance of mine became an atheist because he read Bertrand Russell. My friend Professor Andrew Costa is an atheistic philosopher of science who’s open to evidence for theism. My friend Mario Farina told me why he was an atheist, but like Dr. Costa, he always justified his beliefs in the kindest, humblest, gentlest ways I could imagine. My favorite philosophy professor is still an atheist, too.

    Dawkins still seems, unfortunately, to interpret the Bible without the background information I wrote about? Why wouldn’t I think he did that when I heard him say this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kigKqFYD0G8). And why wouldn’t I think he was talking dismissively when I heard his “What if you’re wrong?” speech?

    Thanks for reminding me of Dr. Ehrman’s work. I’m familiar with it, I’ve watched debates he’s been in, and I’ve e-mailed briefly with him.
    In reply to #127 by achromat666:

    There’s a similar problem when Dawkins and his atheistic friends read the Bible. Since they haven’t learned about ancient Hebrew culture Semitic languages, biblical literary genres, ancient figures of speech and so forth, they read Scripture as though it’s a 21st-century.

    Once again, lumping everyo…



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  • 132
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #131 by WMcEnaney:

    I know that people become atheists for various reasons. Most of my philosophy professors were atheists, too, including a Freudian who told his graduate students that a philosopher’s chief purpose is to convince people that there’s probably no God. How’s that for specialization? I learned cognitiv…

    I was never addressing Dawkins’ concerns or misinterpretations. I’m not him. I’m offering my responses to your queries and observations.

    And my growing concern is that you seem to think that having that background means you automatically know enough to simply ignore the points people make because they don’t see it from your specific perspective. That makes actually having a frank and open discussion difficult at best.

    Perhaps you’re not doing it on purpose but it does keep coming up. Let’s try this from the opposite side…

    I’m Joseph Silver, I’m an artist working professionally in comics and and a singer/lyricist in local NYC band Bröhammer. Does this change your perspective on my responses? Does this mean I don’t read or research (or learn from others at this site) to be more informed when debating, discussing and such?

    The fact that we’re butting heads is nothing to do with your expertise in philosophy and my expertise in comic inking. It’s to do with our lack of agreement on an issue. The fact that I don’t have your background doesn’t mean we should stop talking about this or that I can’t grasp what is being said. But I see this pretty much sailing fast into agree to disagree territory.



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  • 133
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #129 by WMcEnaney:

    Then he puts his critics’ objections in the most convincing way he can because he wants to show that he understands what the critics believe.

    And thereby completely fails to demonstrate any understanding. Which of Aquinas’s “proofs” would you like me to demolish? I’m going to sleep now but will respond in the morning.

    Also, don’t think for one second that your privileged, and obviously wasted, education makes me feel any additional sympathy for you.



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  • 134
    aldous says:

    In reply to #131 by WMcEnaney:

    Dawkins still seems, unfortunately, to interpret the Bible without the background information I wrote about?

    As a former Anglican, Dawkins has all the knowledge required to refute the understanding of the Bible of Christian believers.



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  • 135
    WMcEnaney says:

    I don’t want anybody’s sympathy, Peter. Since I have Cerebral Palsy, I’ve gotten more than enough sympathy. It’s a kind sentiment, but too much of it can be demeaning.

    Try the cosmological argument, preferably after you study Thomas’s metaphysics. His five ways are only summaries of much more detailed arguments he wrote in the Summa Contra Gentiles.
    In reply to #133 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #129 by WMcEnaney:

    Then he puts his critics’ objections in the most convincing way he can because he wants to show that he understands what the critics believe.

    And thereby completely fails to demonstrate any understanding. Which of Aquinas’s “proofs” would you like me to demolish? I’m…



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  • 136
    WMcEnaney says:

    To me, that seems more than a little questionable because I heard him say that he stopped practicing Anglicanism when he was about 15. How much theology do 15-year-olds know? The ones I’ve met haven’t known any more of it than they’d learned from their catechisms.
    In reply to #134 by aldous:

    In reply to #131 by WMcEnaney:

    Dawkins still seems, unfortunately, to interpret the Bible without the background information I wrote about?

    As a former Anglican, Dawkins has all the knowledge required to refute the understanding of the Bible of Christian believers.



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  • 137
    WMcEnaney says:

    Mr. Silver, I’m not her to quarrel with anyone. Before you mentioned head-butting, I didn’t know that anyone thought I was doing that with anyone else. And I don’t mean to ignore anyone.

    Your professions are irrelevant to how much you know about philosophy, science or theology. A professor was talking about a program of mine when he told me that I wrote “damn good code.” I forget what I told him. But I remember vividly a day when a genius sat at my computer to write a parser that would have taken me weeks to write. It took him mere minutes then when he was a high school dropout. In college, he embarrassed a computer programming professor when he, my acquaintance, explained recursion to everybody in the room, including the teacher, who first learned it from him.

    I’m happy to admit it when others are better than me. While I programmed professionally, a coworker of mine intimidated me because he could write programs I could only dream of writing With assembly language, he could make a computer do anything he wanted it to do. My abilities are mediocre at best. I couldn’t play any musical instrument I tried to play. My 9th-grade-art teacher asked, “Bill, what are you doing in here? You know you can’t draw.” So, Mr. Silver, in two or more ways, you’re much better than me.In reply to #132 by achromat666:

    In reply to #131 by WMcEnaney:

    I know that people become atheists for various reasons. Most of my philosophy professors were atheists, too, including a Freudian who told his graduate students that a philosopher’s chief purpose is to convince people that there’s probably no God. How’s that for spe…



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  • 138
    WMcEnaney says:

    By the way, my only musical dream has been that I’d portray Sarastro in Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute). But my baritone voice is too high for that role, and I couldn’t sing an operatic note. That’s all right because I’m still an opera buff who probably could publish an article or two about opera.

    My interests and my tastes probably put me into a small minority, and to some, I may sound arrogant or condescending, but I don’t mean to sound that way, and I certainly don’t want to be that way. Since I promised myself that my mind would make up for what my legs can’t do, I’ve become very bookish.



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  • 139
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #137 by WMcEnaney:

    Mr. Silver, I’m not her to quarrel with anyone…My abilities are mediocre at best…. …

    There’s much more to life than abilities. Kindness, coffee, dictionaries all spring to mind. Persistence, deafness, intractability, blindness and incorrigibility…

    [Slightly edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use.]



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  • 140
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #138 by WMcEnaney:

    I’ve become very bookish…

    Wrong book Bill.

    Earlier you wrote our belief will belief will be logically inconsistent if we accept evolution and metaphysical naturalism. Others have already explained to you that most atheists don’t recognize metaphysical naturalism, scientism or gods of any brand. I tried to illustrate your contempt for Mazda.

    Most atheists strive to reason their way through life Bill, considerately rejecting homeopathy, semen religionis or crystal therapy outright, in order to conserve precious time. Some atheists found Alvin’s dilapidated thoughts “ingenious” because they resemble authentic ideas by utilizing confusing, impressive, philosophical sounding words. Such atheists might possibly support chiropractic subluxation too, but that wouldn’t be reasonable.

    Your obsession with the bible to the exclusion of other books is characteristic. Oh, and Alvin Plantinga is to philosophy what Deepak Chopra is to physics; ‘fisticated pretenders to seduce the ignorant. As to your personal anecdotes Bill, I agree that your interests and my tastes probably put me into a small minority but if you do elect to undergo the gender surgery you mentioned, please don’t feel obliged to tell us.



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  • 141
    WMcEnaney says:

    Maybe you didn’t listen to Plantinga’s lecture about his evolutionary argument against naturalism. Or maybe you forgot part of what he said during it. He defined metaphysical naturalism as, “the belief that there’s no such person as God or anything like God.” In a moment, I’ll post a link to his lecture, so you can refresh your memory if you want to. I wrote “metaphysical naturalism” because “naturalism is ambiguous. I know of naturalists, some environmentalists, say, who are even theists.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwE_D9GUC0s

    I’ve rad the Bhagavad Gita, a book by a Japanese philosopher named “Dogen,” a History of Indian Philosophy, i.e., philosophy from India, an article or two by some Islamic Aristotelians, and an atheist’s article called something like, “Why the Christian God is Impossible.” Although that may not be the exact title, the author’s name is “Chad Docterman,” and you’ll find his name on the web.

    If you want to show that Plantinga’s argument is unsound, why don’t you start a thread about it? Meanwhile, here’s an article about metaphysical naturalism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_naturalism
    reply to #140 by Len Walsh:*

    In reply to #138 by WMcEnaney:

    I’ve become very bookish…

    Wrong book Bill.

    Earlier you wrote our belief will belief will be logically inconsistent if we accept evolution and metaphysical naturalism. Others have already explained to you that most atheists don’t recognize metaphysical naturalism,…



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  • 142
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #135 by WMcEnaney:

    Try the cosmological argument

    This one goes all the way back to Plato, another annoyingly silly philosopher, so I shall try the Socratic method:

    If you can imagine an uncaused “God”, then why not an uncaused universe?



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  • 143
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #141 by WMcEnaney:

    Maybe you didn’t listen to Plantinga’s lecture about his evolutionary argument against naturalism. Or maybe you forgot part of what he said during it. He defined metaphysical naturalism as, “the belief that there’s no such person as God or anything like God.”

    That is your problem! You keep looking for science in the mouths of confused ignoramuses, who understand no science and who think tangled semantics and mental contortions are reasoning.

    Evolution is naturalism as tens of thousands of scientific studies show beyond any doubt! It is however difficult to explain details to those who cannot understand basic physics or biology, and are preoccupied with disputing science rather than learning it.

    We know the posturing ignorant can mislead the uneducated ignorant, but you will continue to fail to understand the universe if you keep seeking that knowledge from those who know nothing of it covering up with their variations of “god-did-it-by-mysterious-magic”!

    To those who understand the science, the errors of these “YEC / creationist experts” are utterly comically incompetent! They are well known to many posters on this site.

    Len sums this up well @140:

    Your obsession with the bible to the exclusion of other books is characteristic. Oh, and Alvin Plantinga is to philosophy what Deepak Chopra is to physics; ‘fisticated pretenders to seduce the ignorant.



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  • 144
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #137 by WMcEnaney:

    Mr. Silver, I’m not her to quarrel with anyone. Before you mentioned head-butting, I didn’t know that anyone thought I was doing that with anyone else. And I don’t mean to ignore anyone.

    Your professions are irrelevant to how much you know about philosophy, science or theology. A professor was t…

    I’m not fishing for compliments, I was making a point. And I suspect your theistic views are misleading your conclusions regarding scientific data, which is only hampered by what the philosophers you’ve quoted believe themselves. And this isn’t true of all philosophers across the board, Daniel Dennett would obviously question the conclusions drawn as would others.

    There is no evidence for the designer that you wish to place in the scheme of things whether you wish to for argument’s sake refer to him as god or not. I’ve discussed how the ideas of the uncaused cause does not work for several reasons (your positions did not disprove the issues of infinite regress and did not make the uncreated designer any more probable than the uncreated universe) and I’ve laid out my issues with Plantinga’s ideas (the fundamental lack of issue between naturalism and evolution, and the further lack of need for a designer to have nurtured humanity in any way). You see some interesting ideas that have your attention that you felt worthy of sharing, I see theists philosophers trying to fit their ideas about god into science. That’s not how science works and honestly I don’t think that’s how honest philosophy works.

    In either case, we’re dealing with unknowns and at best these people are guessing at what they don’t know with an answer that makes sense to them that you agree with. Sadly, an uncreated creator is no more probable than a self created universe (less so because we can at least say the universe exists) and a designer is not evident in the human ability to reason. Certainly, no one that is non religious or has no interest in the christian god would draw the conclusion that Plantinga does. That takes some degree of faith to do, and that puts the conclusion before the question, which is never a good way to find the facts of a matter.

    In finding the origins of man and existence, you base the research on what is there, and any theories drawn come from it. As I’ve said we still don’t even have an agreed upon definition of god to draw any conclusion from, so anytime the designer entity comes up as a conclusion, I don’t see a viable hypothesis, I see a failure to define and a failure to think through, inductively or deductively.



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  • 145
    aldous says:

    In reply to #136 by WMcEnaney:

    To me, that seems more than a little questionable because I heard him (Dawkins) say that he stopped practicing Anglicanism when he was about 15. How much theology do 15-year-olds know? …

    You stated

    There’s a similar problem when Dawkins and his atheistic friends read the Bible. Since they haven’t learned about ancient Hebrew culture Semitic languages, biblical literary genres, ancient figures of speech and so forth #125

    How many of the world’s (alleged) 2.5 billion Christians read the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek and are trained in Biblical scholarship? A theology degree is not a requirement for accepting the Christian gospel, so it’s hard to see why that level of scholarship is necessary to reject it. Being a baptised and confirmed Anglican Christian, being educated at an Anglican school gave Dawkins more than enough to be as knowledgeable about Christianity as believers. Besides, Dawkins didn’t stop learning about religion at the age of eighteen.

    His argument in The God Delusion, in any case, comes from his scientific background. Human intelligence appears very recently in the history of the universe. An infinitely greater divine intelligence would appear later still, if at all. Since a god cannot have been present at the origin of the universe, the Genesis story is clearly one of the many fantasy fiction accounts of cosmology. The usual dodge of theologians is to say that it’s figurative language. However, that’s a misunderstanding of literary genre, I suggest. Nursery rhymes, fairy tales, nonsense literature and Bible stories can be enjoyed for what they are. They entertain but don’t inform.



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  • 146
    achromat666 says:

    Actually, the Plantinga thing is a bit worse than just a philosopher trying the play semantics with naturalism and evolution, now that I think of it…

    Evolution and Naturalism aren’t philosophical constructs. They’re scientific ones. This means that when someone comes along and says there’s no way that man could use knowledge as he does without some designer’s hand science can demonstrate the veracity or falsehood of such a claim. This isn’t a situation where one can play word games to dodge critical issues of universal origin where no one has a definitive answer, this boils down to simple hard science. And being that Dawkins’ specialty lies in evolutionary science, if he and other scientist don’t back Plantinga’s notion, who is meant to take this position seriously?

    I always find this interesting when philosophical ideas are meant to somehow supercede scientific endeavor: Often it boils down to either a misapprehension of the science, or an overestimation of the logic inherent in the philosophy.



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  • 147
    achromat666 says:

    For those curious, a refutation of the five ways from Phillipine Atheists and Agnostics society:

    refuting the five ways of aquinas

    A lot of the same issues that have been brought up here are pretty much brought home on each point.

    Similarly, Philosopher Steven Law has quite a bit to say to refute Alvin Plantinga:

    Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism refuted

    And others have refuted many of Plantinga’s other philosophical positions regarding a creator/ designer force, but I’m sticking to what this discussion has dealt with for brevity’s sake.



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  • 148
    WMcEnaney says:

    In reply to #145 by aldous:

    In reply to #136 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m not saying that the average Christian needs to know how to read Hebrew or Greek. But they can read history books and other sources to get the background I’m talking about.>
    To me, that seems more than a little questionable because I heard him (Dawkins) say that he stopped practicing Anglicanism when he was about 15. How much theology do 15-year-olds know? …

    You stated

    There’s a similar problem when Dawkins and his atheistic friends…



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  • 150
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #129 by WMcEnaney:

    If you read many of my posts, you’ll know that I’m a hyper-analytical thinker who pays word meanings plenty of attention. So please assume that I know exactly what senses I’m using my words in when I post something. For example, here’s a way the dictionary at (http://www.dictionary.reference.com)…

    I note your referral to Scolasticism and the concomitant catholic perspective. I think scholastics in general preferred reasoning to science and applied theology to thinking about nature. In particular, since god was the given truth, arguments are teleological ie, models of reality had to lead to the divine nature. Thus, because god had created man it was natural that the earth would be at the centre of creation and hence other heavenly bodiss went around a fixed earth. Since creation had been perfectly made, it follows that celestial bodies would move in a perfect way and since the circle was the most perfect form, this meant planets moved in circles. In this way, what we might think of as science was really an extension of theology. This meant that scientific dissent was heretical.

    In all this the meaning of words is paramount, because in real ing without reference to or correction by scientific evidence, the words are the only source material.
    I think clarity of meaning is important, but meaning is only real as regards the world when I refers to facts in the world
    It seems for scholastics that Galileo, Kepler, Newton and so very many others can be ignored as those upstarts seek truth in heavens with heretical instruments, not the truth of the bible or the ancient Greeks.



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  • 151
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #150 by steve_hopker:

    Correction last paragraph: In all this the meaning of words is paramount, because in thinking about reality without reference…
    (apologies as I struggle with text input with my iPad at times)



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  • 153
    Marktony says:

    “I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtsy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh, and I awlyas thuhogt slpeling was ipmorantt.”

    In reply to #152 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #151 by steve_hopker:

    Weird how I still understood “real ing”, must have subconsciously interpreted it!



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  • 157
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #153 by Marktony:

    “I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtsy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pcla…

    Now I know who to ask to proof read my essays. This must have taken some concentration!!



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  • 160
    aldous says:

    In reply to #148 by WMcEnaney:

    In reply to #145 by aldous:

    I’m not saying that the average Christian needs to know how to read Hebrew or Greek. But they can read history books and other sources to get the background I’m talking about.

    I doubt if the average Guatemalan peasant and those of similar educational background who constitute the backbone of the Christian faithful have a superior knowledge of Christianity than an Oxford professor whose private school education, practice and teaching and subsequent study gave him a thorough knowledge of Christianity.



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  • 161
    WMcEnaney says:

    I’m sure he’ a genius, and he probably does know much more than I’ll ever know. But to me, what he knows is much more important than how much he knows.
    In reply to #149 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #148 by WMcEnaney:

    Richard is a genius, he probably read (and understood) more by age 15 than you will in your entire life.



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  • 162
    aldous says:

    In reply to #161 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m sure he’ a genius, and he probably does know much more than I’ll ever know. But to me, what he knows is much more important than how much he knows.

    You don’t need to know very much to see what’s wrong with religious thinking.



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  • 164
    WMcEnaney says:

    Peter, I know I’m largely ignorant. Since my judgment is unreliable too often, believe maybe my false beliefs outnumber my true ones. Dr. Dawkins may know much less than he thinks he does. You already know that scientists are always willing to consider new evidence because every supposed piece of scientific knowledge is provisional. Millions of experiments may support a false hypothesis that may always seem true because no one will find a counterexample to it. But despite powerful inductive evidence for it, nobody knows that it’s true. Why not? It’s already false, and nobody can know that a belief is true while it’s false.
    In reply to #163 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #161 by WMcEnaney:

    More importantly, he knows what he does not Know.



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  • 165
    WMcEnaney says:

    The meaning of an expression differs from its extension. The extension of a term is the group of people, places or things that the term signifies. You’ll understand if I tell you that some bottles of beer are in my refrigerator, even when there’s no beer in it. Before you can tell whether there’s any beer in it, you need to understand what I’ve said, so you can recognize beer if you find it. If you’re only beginning to learn English, you may think that “beer” means “shelf” and tell me that there’s beer there because you’ll see shelves in it. The phrase “the number of $1,000 bills in WMcEnaney’s hand” is meaningful. But since there aren’t any $1,000 bills there, the extension of the phrase is empty.

    Even nonexistent objects can be in the extension of a term. For example, that set includes unicorns, round squares, Aristotle’s iPad, and my gold medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics. I’m not implying that nonexistent objects exist. But I am implying that we can have ideas that aren’t about any actual objects. iPadIn reply to #150 by steve_hopker:

    In reply to #129 by WMcEnaney:

    If you read many of my posts, you’ll know that I’m a hyper-analytical thinker who pays word meanings plenty of attention. So please assume that I know exactly what senses I’m using my words in when I post something. For example, here’s a way the dictionary at (http…



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  • 166
    WMcEnaney says:

    If evolution occurs, science didn’t invent it. It discovered it. Don’t mistake a word for what it stands for.In reply to #146 by achromat666:

    Actually, the Plantinga thing is a bit worse than just a philosopher trying the play semantics with naturalism and evolution, now that I think of it…

    Evolution and Naturalism aren’t philosophical constructs. They’re scientific ones. This means that when someone comes along and says there’s no way…



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  • 167
    achromat666 says:

    If evolution occurs, science didn’t invent it. It discovered it. Don’t mistake a word for what it stands for.

    Perhaps you should be explaining that to Plantinga. Saying Evolution and Naturalism are scientific constructs indicates not specifically that science made (constructed) them, but that science discovered them and employ them in their use for furthering our understanding. The ideas were theorized, examined and proven by science, not constructed as in created.

    Or to be even more specific, Evolution and Naturalism are things we know because of science.

    Plantinga has done nothing more than try to put the biblical god where he couldn’t possibly prove it to be. His philosophical constructs fails to demonstrate the biblical god at all. If there were in fact a gap between evolution and naturalism, a designer god is not the only viable explanation (or indeed an even remotely intelligent explanation) for what caused human knowledge as we know it.

    The leap from ‘we don’t know what caused that’ to ‘my god is the only explanation’ is not how the process works. If there were a grain of evidence for his position that a disparity between naturalism and evolution existed regarding human knowledge would require actual research to bridge the gap. Examining what we know and what information we would need to draw an accurate conclusion.

    Not god. It doesn’t wash regardless of how it’s spun.



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  • 169
    WMcEnaney says:

    Acro, did you listen to Planting’s lecture about his argument? If you listened to it, did you understand the argument?
    In reply to #167 by achromat666:

    If evolution occurs, science didn’t invent it. It discovered it. Don’t mistake a word for what it stands for.

    Perhaps you should be explaining that to Plantinga. Saying Evolution and Naturalism are scientific constructs indicates not specifically that science made (constructed) them, but that scien…



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  • 170
    achromat666 says:

    Acro, did you listen to Planting’s lecture about his argument? If you listened to it, did you understand the argument?

    Did you read the post I put on here awhile ago defining the argument and analyzing it? I posted it at 113 and you never responded. Did you read the links I provided detailing Steven Law refuting of the argument? I posted that at 147.

    I did not watch the video, I read the summary of the position posted that summary and analzyed it. Feel free to enlighten me if his position isn’t what that summary maintains.

    And achromat, please. acro is simply annoying.



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  • 171
    achromat666 says:

    Plantinga’s definition of naturalism is a bit off. He contends that naturalism is “the idea that there is no such person as God or anything like God” according to the video and that isn’t much different from the summary I refuted earlier. When we refer to methodological naturalism we refer to:

    “naturalism that holds that science is to be done without reference to supernatural causes; also refers to a methodological assumption in the philosophy of religion that observable events are fully explainable by natural causes without reference to the supernatural”

    So he’s building a case on a misnomer…not that naturalism says that there is no such thing as god specifically, but that it can demonstrate how things work without any supernatural agent (which science has demonstrated repeatedly). That god is not necessary for the hypothesis to be true. That is a central idea of scientific understanding, to provide explanation of phenomena and events with observation of what is without relying on supernatural belief. That is to say, one can demonstrate how things work without any supernatural influence is not quite the same as “the idea that there is no such person as god or anything like god.” The latter is at best an oversimplification.

    But I suppose you could say that this is arguing semantics, after all it reaches the same conclusion overall doesn’t it?

    Well let’s examine further…

    My original posting of the summary was:

    In Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, he argues that the truth of evolution is an epistemic defeater for naturalism (i.e. if evolution is true, it undermines naturalism).

    His basic argument is that if evolution and naturalism are both true, human cognitive faculties evolved to produce beliefs that have survival value (maximizing one’s success at the four F’s: “feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing”), not necessarily to produce beliefs that are true. Thus, since human cognitive faculties are tuned to survival rather than truth in the naturalism-evolution model, there is reason to doubt the veracity of the products of those same faculties, including naturalism and evolution themselves.

    On the other hand, if God created man “in his image” by way of an evolutionary process (or any other means), then Plantinga argues our faculties would probably be reliable.

    That was from the Wikipedia summary, and the position he presents in the video is pretty much the same. He bangs on quite a bit early on with a quote about how evolution doesn’t really care about true beliefs, merely your ability to survive. My first contention to this would be our ability to reason is part of our ability to survive: the building of weapons to fend off other animals or human attackers, the ability to build homes to protect ourselves from the elements, and most importantly, the ability to organize in groups to maximize survival and pool our resources.

    Now, while there are obviously other markers of intelligence, these are all important markers that we achieved to help get to where we are now, without any evidence of supernatural influence. Other animals have developed some of those abilities, but not all and certainly not to the degree that we have.

    But if we actually go down the path of ‘true’ beliefs, the argument gets worse for Plantinga. We aren’t equipped with all the tools necessary to simply arrive at truths about reality. This is why we develop systems to increase that understanding, build machines to better analyze the information and argue over what is true and what is not. No one is born with the literal knowledge he speaks of, it has developed over a long period, and is still a work in progress.

    And once again, how is a unproven deity more probable as the answer to his query than simply saying ‘hey someone should get on figuring that out as I see a problem’. He’s replacing what he thinks is improbable and untrue (the idea that evolution has shaped our way of obtaining knowledge through our current model of understanding the natural world) with what is unprovable and patently biased by his own theistic belief (that a supernatural deity has given humanity the ability to function above other animals through the ability to reason). He’s basically saying that because the issue he has created is there, god is the only way it could possibly work.

    Once again as I’ve said, even if there were a shred of evidence for this position that there is a disparity a supernatural influence is far from the only answer, and is not a credible one. It would mean research and examining of what we know to uncover what we do not. It would not automatically equal a designer (god).

    A nonreligious mind drawing a similar conclusion about the disparity you mention (for the sake of argument) certainly wouldn’t conclude a designer; likely that person would then start trying to discern how the 4 f’s could have developed into our current model of understanding or worked on what other ways we’ve developed. Saying a designer is responsible is in all honesty an intellectual dead end. Where do you go after that? If every solution was just ‘oh god did it’ what would be the point of looking for answers? Does Plantinga have any reasonable resolutions to his queries beyond a designer god? Is he looking for a deeper analysis of how far the problem he believes is there goes? Or has he stopped at ‘this is the only logical answer to my position’?

    Please feel free to tell me what I’ve missed.



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  • 172
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #171 by achromat666:

    Ironic how Plantinga fails to realise that it is precisely because our evolved cognitive faculties are so unreliable that we developed the scientific method in the first place!



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  • 173
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #172 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #171 by achromat666:

    Ironic how Plantinga fails to realise that it is precisely because our evolved cognitive faculties are so unreliable that we developed the scientific method in the first place!

    Thank you Peter. And here I was taking the long way to get to that conclusion….



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  • 174
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #172 by Peter Grant:

    Ironic how Plantinga fails to realise that it is precisely because our evolved cognitive faculties are so unreliable that we developed the scientific method in the first place!

    Don’t feel bad! Bullshit is always more difficult to deconstruct than sense.



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  • 175
    WMcEnaney says:

    Acro, I agree: Scientists don’t need to appeal to God when they explain how the natural world works. It can still explain natural events, even when it suspends judgment about whether there’s a God or anything like Him. But you’re describing what philosophers and some scientists call “methodological naturalism” when Plantinga is talking instead about metaphysical naturalism. So I’d hesitate to say that he was talking about a misnomer when I already know that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy uses the word in Plantinga’s sense in the first two or three paragraphs of its article about naturalism. As the article points out, the word “naturalism” doesn’t have any one precise meaning. Since Plantinga says what he means by “naturalism,” let’s use the word in his sense when we talk about his argument.

    Our ability to reason may help us survive, but we seem to beg the question against Plantinga when we say that it does help us us do that. We assume that our cognitive faculties are reliable when we assume that they produce true beliefs about the natural world. But Plantinga thinks that, if metaphysical naturalism is true, it may make those faculties unreliable. Thoughts, beliefs, intentions, and reasoning may be epiphenomena, mere byproducts of brain events, byproducts that don’t cause any physical events. If thoughts, beliefs and reasoning are such epiphenomena, why should we trust them to give us reliable information about how the world works?

    While scientists work in the lab or in the field, their sensory experiences may cause neurological/physiological events in their body that then cause epiphenomena. If they don’t cause any physical events, maybe they don’t make our brains store knowledge.In reply to #171 by achromat666:

    Plantinga’s definition of naturalism is a bit off. He contends that naturalism is “the idea that there is no such person as God or anything like God” according to the video and that isn’t much different from the summary I refuted earlier. When we refer to methodological naturalism we refer to:

    “na…



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  • 176
    achromat666 says:

    Our ability to reason may help us survive, but we seem to beg the question against Plantinga when we say that it does help us us do that. We assume that our cognitive faculties are reliable when we assume that they produce true beliefs about the natural world.

    And here we’re already reaching in different directions. I mentioned in my previous post that we in fact cannot rely purely on our senses, much less our faculties to discern what is accurate of reality (true beliefs as a term can also have many differing interpretations) hence the reason we design systems of reasoning and numerous mechanisms to better understand things.

    So no, we really don’t assume that our faculties are reliable in that sense. We have a limited way to perceive the world through our senses and a great number of the things we can’t see can kill us.

    But Plantinga thinks that, if metaphysical naturalism is true, it may make those faculties unreliable. Thoughts, beliefs, intentions, and reasoning may be epiphenomena, mere byproducts of brain events, byproducts that don’t cause any physical events. If thoughts, beliefs and reasoning are such epiphenomena, why should we trust them to give us reliable information about how the world works?

    He may think that, but it doesn’t make it accurate. If we relied just on our thoughts, beliefs etc we would no doubt make many mistakes, and throughout history that has been the case. We couldn’t possibly simply rely on that to say be able to uncover things like microwave radiation, atoms, or the redshift. Without a system to make sense of the things around us, our senses are quite limited. I doubt anyone would deny that.

    Incidentally, I’m not certain what you qualify as an event here. Acting on brain events is an event. If I have an idea, I execute on that idea and get a result, an event has in fact occurred.

    And as I’ve highlighted in every post on this the leap from having an issue with the idea of human knowledge is one thing but a designer god being solely responsible is still entirely unwarranted. The question does not immediately become what outside cosmic force gave us intelligence, it becomes what direction do you go in to uncover what is wrong, if there indeed a problem.

    While scientists work in the lab or in the field, their sensory experiences may cause neurological/physiological events in their body that then cause epiphenomena. If they don’t cause any physical events, maybe they don’t make our brains store knowledge

    It’s a good thing we have a system for storing information then. Several in fact. But none of this equals a designer god giving man knowledge.



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  • 177
    Peter Grant says:

    Mind if I jump in here?

    In reply to #175 by WMcEnaney:

    Plantinga says what he means by “naturalism,” let’s use the word in his sense when we talk about his argument.

    If we are to use “naturalism” the way he understands it then he first needs to use stop using “evolution” in the way he clearly doesn’t.

    Thoughts, beliefs, intentions, and reasoning may be epiphenomena, mere byproducts of brain events, byproducts that don’t cause any physical events. If thoughts, beliefs and reasoning are such epiphenomena, why should we trust them to give us reliable information about how the world works?

    They’re not, they effect reality. If you want your reasoning to work your beliefs had better conform to reality, at least as much a possible. What is epiphenomenal is the subjective experience of having thoughts, beliefs, intentions, and reason. So a belief may feel “right” and in fact be wrong.



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  • 178
    WMcEnaney says:

    Acro, I think you may be subtly begging the question against Plantinga when you assume that we can use scientific systems to check what our cognitive faculties tell us. To know what those systems are saying, we need to use our cognitive faculties. For example, to reason about information they give us, we need to remember it. Plantinga already knows that our cognitive faculties can fool us. So he thinks that to be reliable, they need to produce true beliefs about 95% of the time. In reply to #176 by achromat666:

    Our ability to reason may help us survive, but we seem to beg the question against Plantinga when we say that it does help us us do that. We assume that our cognitive faculties are reliable when we assume that they produce true beliefs about the natural world.

    And here we’re already reaching in dif…



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  • 179
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #178 by WMcEnaney:

    Just one question, is a belief in “God” a belief about reality or simply conforming to social pressure? Atheism still carries a death sentence in some parts.



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  • 180
    achromat666 says:

    Acro,

    STOP. THIS.

    I have in several posts asked you to stop referring to me that way. Achromat (which is in fact an actual word with multiple defintions), or hell since I’ve already mentioned my name here, Joe. Not acro. I won’t bother answering to any other responses starting this way.

    I think you may be subtly begging the question against Plantinga when you assume that we can use scientific systems to check what our cognitive faculties tell us. To know what those systems are saying, we need to use our cognitive faculties. For example, to reason about information they give us, we need to remember it. Plantinga already knows that our cognitive faculties can fool us. So he thinks that to be reliable, they need to produce true beliefs about 95% of the time.

    No begging the question, the idea of the systems and tools we create are to help answer questions our senses cannot. We don’t relay purely on our senses to get information and we have to be able to verify that what we perceive is in fact reality. Not complicated. And if he knows our senses can fool us and our faculties are far from perfect, what is the point of the position? What precisely about our ability to reason is so hard for him to comprehend being a by product of the evolutionary process, knowing that our faculties are not in fact completely accurate? He tries to make the case that the 4 f’s are not the logical path to achieve the form of understanding we possess, but is he certain? Has he tried to work out how one could lead to the other, or what other factors (aside from resorting to the supernatural) could be responsible?

    And are you saying other animals don’t have memories? Your example doesn’t make sense.

    In any case, these are problems to be addressed by science, if they are indeed problems.

    And none of this demonstrates in any way a need for a designer god, which is the endgame of this position. That the problem he believes is there is only solvable by that, which is in no way true.



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  • 181
    WMcEnaney says:

    Peter, you’re always welcome to jump in. I agree that we need our cognitive faculties to be reliable if we’re going to get genuine knowledge about the natural world. But assuming their reliability is like arguing inductively for the reliability of induction. Inductive arguments for it assume that reliability. We need our cognitive faculties to be reliable, but Plantinga thinks that naturalistic unguided evolution can make them unreliable. If it does that, we won’t get the reliability we need. We may have no way to know whether we can get knowledge that depends on our cognitive faculties, since they produce all our beliefs, including the belief that we can rely on them.
    In reply to #177 by Peter Grant:

    Mind if I jump in here?

    In reply to #175 by WMcEnaney:

    Plantinga says what he means by “naturalism,” let’s use the word in his sense when we talk about his argument.

    If we are to use “naturalism” the way he understands it then he first needs to use stop using “evolution” in the way he clearly doe…



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  • 182
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #181 by WMcEnaney:

    But assuming their reliability is like arguing inductively for the reliability of induction.

    I’m not assuming anything, science works. If you can find a better method for acquiring reliable knowledge science will assimilate it.



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  • 183
    WMcEnaney says:

    That’s the same kind of thing that some people say when you tell them about the problem of induction. They’ll give you a an inductive argument for induction by listing a bunch of science’s many, many successes. But they don’t notice that their inductive argument for induction is circular. Since it is circular, it doesn’t support its conclusion. It treats it as a hidden premise.In reply to #182 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #181 by WMcEnaney:

    But assuming their reliability is like arguing inductively for the reliability of induction.

    I’m not assuming anything, science works. If you can find a better method for acquiring reliable knowledge science will assimilate it.



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  • 184
    WMcEnaney says:

    All right, I won’t call you that anymore.

    I still think there’s circularity here. Plantinga was saying that natural selection could select for an adaptive behavior, even if our beliefs didn’t cause that behavior. Say you’re an ameba that engulf food when you can reach it. Since you have no brain, you have no mind, beliefs or intentions. All you need is the right stimulus that will make you eat the food.

    The same may be true about the frog Plantinga talks about in a lecture about his argument, Mr. Silver. The frog sees a fly, his brain sends a message to his tongue, nerves fire in his mouth to move his tongue, it flick out, he grabs the fly with it, and eats it. Maybe he does that on pure instinct, no beliefs, no reasoning, nothing like that, only Skinnerian stimulus and response. Cathy Crawmer, an acquaintance of mine, is a professional dog-trainer who thinks dogs are like that. Stimulate the dog, and he responds, even if he can’t have beliefs.

    Computers can behave as though they think, believe and have feeling. They can even watch things with a camera that acts like an eye. But they’re not conscious, they can’t think, and they don’t believe anything. Years ago, when I still used my Sun workstation, it kept warning me that some license would expire in, say, 450,000 seconds. Unfortunately, to warn me, it overwrote some words that I had typed into my word processor. While the computer warned me, it ignored the word processor, even when I was still typing. If the computer were conscious and thinking about what I was doing, would it have interrupted me the way it did? Maybe it would have thought, “Bill is typing. So I better print the warning in another window?”

    Let’s say human behavior is as deterministic as Skinner thought it was. Then to behave adaptively, I don’t need to believe anything. If I do have beliefs, my adaptive behavior may not depend on whether they’re true. What would matter is that external stimuli would cause the right physiological/neurological events in my body to make me behave adaptively. You could behave that way, even if your thoughts, your beliefs, and your intentions were mere epiphenomena.” Those epiphenomena would only seem to cause you to, say, lift your left arm when the only causes of the movement were neurological and physiological events.

    Plantinga thinks that, if you misperceived enough things, that would give you good reason to distrust your cognitive faculties and to doubt all your beliefs because those faculties produce them, including your belief that populations evolve by natural selection.

    But God can help your cognitive faculties to work reliably and to avoid the problems I’ve been writing about just now. He can do that only if He exists, and metaphysical naturalism implies that there’s no God. Strange, isn’t it? For you to gain genuine knowledge about evolution by natural selection, you may need to depend on Him when that evolution supposedly shows that he probably doesn’t exist.
    In reply to #180 by achromat666:

    Acro,

    STOP. THIS.

    I have in several posts asked you to stop referring to me that way. Achromat (which is in fact an actual word with multiple defintions), or hell since I’ve already mentioned my name here, Joe. Not acro. I won’t bother answering to any other responses starting this way.

    I think y…



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  • 185
    achromat666 says:

    But God can help your cognitive faculties to work reliably and to avoid the problems I’ve been writing about just now. But if metaphysical naturalism is true, He can’t do that. If it is true, there’s no God.

    Please in clear and simple terms terms explain why any portion of this particular equation equals an unproven deity of any variety. Please actually offer a definition of god so that we could even begin to come to some understanding before simply doing what Plantinga is doing, which is positing a god where one cannot be demonstrated. Then demonstrate that deity actually exists. Otherwise you and Plantinga are engaging in little more than wish fulfillment.

    Once again (for likely the 5th or 6th time) claiming that there is a problem in the current model of how we see the Naturalistic/ Evolutionary model of how humans evolved intelligence does not in any way automatically equal god. If there is any evidence of circular reasoning it is right here.

    This isn’t a position to be solved by philosophical reasoning, you may post as many examples as you like. Science got us the information we have on all the subjects involved, and scientist are far better equipped to solve it, and are far less likely to jump to an immediate god did it conclusion. They’ll look at the facts, correlate the data and draw a conclusion rooted in what can be proven.

    What they won’t do is search for holes in science and throw in a deity.



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  • 186
    WMcEnaney says:

    St. Anselm thinks that God is the greatest possible being. In his Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy, Bernard Wuellner, S.J. defines God as, “the first uncaused cause of the universe, necessary, all-perfect, and self-sufficient being, essentially existing, infinite, personal Creator and last End of all things.” Here “End” probably means “goal,” and “first” means “most fundamental.”

    Again, I believe that science gives us genuine knowledge about the natural world. Plantinga’s point and mine is that evolution by natural selection is compatible with theism and incompatible with metaphysical naturalism in Plantinga’s sense of “metaphysical naturalism.” For him, that naturalism is the belief that there’s no God or anything like God.
    in reply to #185 by achromat666:*

    But God can help your cognitive faculties to work reliably and to avoid the problems I’ve been writing about just now. But if metaphysical naturalism is true, He can’t do that. If it is true, there’s no God.

    Please in clear and simple terms terms explain why any portion of this particular equation…



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  • 187
    WMcEnaney says:

    Please name a place where atheists get the death penalty because they’re atheists. Who or what decided that they’d get it for their atheism? What religion or religions do most people practice in those places: Catholicism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, Greek Orthodoxy, some form of Judaism, the Bahai Faith, Islam, another theistic religion? In reply to #179 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #178 by WMcEnaney:

    Just one question, is a belief in “God” a belief about reality or simply conforming to social pressure? Atheism still carries a death sentence in some parts.



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  • 188
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #183 by WMcEnaney:

    That’s the same kind of thing that some people say when you tell them about the problem of induction. They’ll give you a an inductive argument for induction by listing a bunch of science’s many, many successes. But they don’t notice that their inductive argument for induction is circular. Since it is circular, it doesn’t support its conclusion. It treats it as a hidden premise.

    So does logic, let A=A. What deductive argument can you make in support of logic? We simply induce that it seems to work.



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  • 189
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #186 by WMcEnaney:

    Wuellner, S.J. defines God as, “the first uncaused cause of the universe, necessary, all-perfect, and self-sufficient being, essentially existing, infinite, personal Creator and last End…
    Here “End” probably means “goal,” and “first” means “most fundamental.”

    Ha, wrong my friend. Sorry McEnaney but you’ve made an elementary error in philosophical translation. Wuellner’s end denotes a phallic metric in the mind of biblegod. And first means shiny, lustrous or sparkly, that’s all. All the words between those two can be reduced to the single word Big, philosophically speaking.

    So a more correct or precise philosophical interpretation of Wuellner would be: Biblegod’s pa is a shiny big dick.

    Don’t forget St. Anselm readily admitted: “God often works more by the life of the illiterate

    In fact it’s utterly essential.



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  • 190
    achromat666 says:

    St. Anselm thinks that God is the greatest possible being.

    What does that mean?

    In his Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy, Bernard Wuellner, S.J. defines God as, “the first uncaused cause of the universe, necessary, all-perfect, and self-sufficient being, essentially existing, infinite, personal Creator and last End of all things.” Here “End” probably means “goal,” and “first” means “most fundamental.”

    So a being with impossible attributes? That’s the best you have?

    Again, I believe that science gives us genuine knowledge about the natural world. Plantinga’s point and mine is that evolution by natural selection is compatible with theism and incompatible with metaphysical naturalism in Plantinga’s sense of “metaphysical naturalism.” For him, that naturalism is the belief that there’s no God or anything like God.

    …And no, this is not a game you can play in this discussion. You don’t have the luxury of philosophically shuffling around reality just to plead a special case. You’re not just pleading the case of an uncaused god (which has already been addressed) and giving a series of impossible attributes as proof in no way qualifies as a working definition. Certainly not one we can move forward with in any reasonable discussion and expect any results other than disappointment. Because a bunch of other philosophers are guilty of the same fallacy (circular reasoning) you wish to introduce on an evidence based site the notion that a scientific issue brought forth by a theistic philosopher is more credibly handled by him because he believes in god and creates a problem so he can solve it with god?

    I’m not asking you what he thinks naturalism is, and I’m not asking you whether he thinks any of this is compatible with theism (which it is not). I asked you for a viable verifiable definition of god from which we can move further from to even establish that any claim from it can have veracity. An omni creator does not suit the task, as no one can demonstrate that anything is even capable of possessing such attributes (an all perfect being is functionally impossible for many reasons) and you and everyone else are absolutely incapable of demonstrating that any personal god exists.

    Let’s track the multiple ways this fails:

    1. You would need to demonstrate that a creator exists empirically, not philosophically. Not theoretically. You can’t do that.

    2. You would need to be able to establish that creator is still participating in the universe it created and that it is the deity you speak of as opposed to the multitude of deities that have been and continue to be worshiped by the world at large. You have no way of doing this, philosophy doesn’t get you either the first or second point.

    3. You would need to demonstrate an ability to discern the will of the deity in question reliably.

    No one is able to move past the first point and you’re entire position has been special pleading based on us accepting things from yours and Plantinga’s view (or yours and Aquinas and other theist philosophers, take your pick).

    If we have to accept that Alvin is referring to metaphysical naturalism and the belief that theism is compatible with evolution (which it is not) then you’re not only committing special pleading, circular reasoning and a host of other fallacies but you’re expecting us to suspend everything we currently know about science to satisfy the whims of people that really want to have everyone believe in god as they do.

    So the opposite of what science does. Sorry, no dice.



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  • 191
    WMcEnaney says:

    Len, I usually don’t answer sarcastic posts. But I’m answering yours to say that I won’t answer any other sarcastic ones. Please save your comments about phallic symbols for a thread about Freud. Don’t worry. If you post one, I won’t post to it.
    In reply to #189 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #186 by WMcEnaney:

    Wuellner, S.J. defines God as, “the first uncaused cause of the universe, necessary, all-perfect, and self-sufficient being, essentially existing, infinite, personal Creator and last End…
    Here “End” probably means “goal,” and “first” means “most fundamental.”

    Ha, w…



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  • 193
    WMcEnaney says:

    Let me try this, Mr. Silver. You exist, trees exist, animals exist. So do Len and the other people here. You exist in a “Mr. Silver kind of way.” I exist in a “Bill kind of way.” My plants exist in another way. But what do you and I have in common with everyone else and with everything else? Existence. Like everyone else and everything else in the world, you’re distinct from your existence. God exists by His nature. But everyone else and everything else gets its existence from Him. He’s the source of the existence that you, Len, everyone else and everything else has in common. You might even say that God and existence in itself are exactly the same thing. And I’m sure you wouldn’t deny that existence exists. After all, “existence exists” is a tautology.
    In reply to #190 by achromat666:

    St. Anselm thinks that God is the greatest possible being.

    What does that mean?

    In his Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy, Bernard Wuellner, S.J. defines God as, “the first uncaused cause of the universe, necessary, all-perfect, and self-sufficient being, essentially existing, infinite, personal…



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  • 194
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #193 by WMcEnaney:

    Not sure now if you sound like an existentialist or Ayn Rand. What makes you think you will get anywhere with such a trivial tautology?



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  • 195
    achromat666 says:

    Let me try this, Mr. Silver. You exist, trees exist, animals exist. So do Len and the other people here. You exist in a “Mr. Silver kind of way.” I exist in a “Bill kind of way.” My plants exist in another way. But what do you and I have in common with everyone else and with everything else? Existence. Like everyone else and everything else in the world, you’re distinct from your existence.

    Ok, so things exists. Go on…

    God exists by His nature.

    Once again, what does that mean? That literally explains nothing, to the point that you could throw anything in that sentence and have it make as much sense (Fred exist by his nature, spaghetti exists by its nature…)

    But everyone else and everything else gets its existence from Him. He’s the source of the existence that you, Len, everyone else and everything else has in common. You might even say that God and existence in itself are exactly the same thing.

    Evidence? You have the same theistic claim that has been routinely trotted in here. You’ve given it a lot of dressing and plenty of streamers and other nice things, but the argument is identical. You may as well be saying God exists because he exists.

    If this is your definition, it fails in every way to address what I mentioned in my previous post.

    So, no. You can’t simply put a God in as existence and expect it to be taken seriously. We know things exist, we don’t require God as any form of definition of existence.

    I’m not certain how else I can say this, as I’ve laid out the sorts of things one would have to demonstrate in order for any kind of deity to be verifiable much less useful in this discussion, but your presumption doesn’t help.

    And I’m sure you wouldn’t deny that existence exists. After all, “existence exists” is a tautology.

    God exists and existence exists are not identical, regardless of how you wish to define it. In order for your deity of choice to be what you claim there has to be demonstrable ways of defining him beyond he just is. I’m actually more disturbed that we’re using him in this discussion when it would be more likely.

    In any case, that is not an acceptable definition. You will likely find that there isn’t an acceptable definition that will fit where you are attempting to put ‘god’.

    This leads me right back to where I mentioned the whole agree to disagree bit. Not because I concede anything but because this chat will likely continue spinning in this circle for far too long for me to care.

    You’re welcome to continue of course, but I doubt it will be productive.

    EDIT:

    Actually as a definition that makes things worse on you. If god is existence that means god is the universe and if god created it that also means the universe created it. So you’re just saying the universe created itself and throwing god’s name in because of reasons.



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  • 196
    WMcEnaney says:

    I’m not an existentialist. I’m a Thomist. I don’t expect to convince anyone here of anything.In reply to #194 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #193 by WMcEnaney:

    Not sure now if you sound like an existentialist or Ayn Rand. What makes you think you will get anywhere with such a trivial tautology?



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  • 197
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #196 by WMcEnaney:

    I don’t expect to convince anyone here of anything.

    Really, then why bother?

    I am actively trying to convince you.



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  • 198
    WMcEnaney says:

    Let me try to explain what I mean when I say that God exists by His nature. You know of many logically necessary truths: Every object is identical with itself, 2 +2 = 4, every tautology, the denial of every tautology, any if-then proposition with a self-contradictory if-part, every even number divides by 2 with a remainder o zero, every object either does or doesn’t exist . . . The definition of “even number” tells you what every even number is by nature. By nature, it’s divisible by 2 with a remainder of zero. Being self-identical is an essential property that every existing object has.

    And an essential property is property that an object has if and only if that object exists. It can’t exist without that property. Water is essentially H20. So if you remove one or more atoms from any water molecule, you’ll destroy that molecule. The same is true about any other molecule. Take any atom from it, and that particular molecule won’t exist anymore. The removed atom may re-bond with the the ones that made up the molecule. But anything that isn’t H20 isn’t water, and anything that lacks even one essential part of hydrochloric acid isn’t hydrochloric acid. Every protozoan is a single-celled organism. Any organism with two or more cells isn’t a protozoan.Get the idea? Taxonomists may reclassify protozoans or organisms of any other kind. What they classify an organism as depends on the properties the organism has. Classification doesn’t cause those properties. Each organism already has an essence, even if nobody discovers that organism.
    In reply to #195 by achromat666:

    Let me try this, Mr. Silver. You exist, trees exist, animals exist. So do Len and the other people here. You exist in a “Mr. Silver kind of way.” I exist in a “Bill kind of way.” My plants exist in another way. But what do you and I have in common with everyone else and with everything else? Existen…



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  • 199
    achromat666 says:

    Let me try to explain what I mean when I say that God exists by His nature. You know of many logically necessary truths: Every object is identical with itself, 2 +2 = 4, every tautology, the denial of every tautology, any if-then proposition with a self-contradictory if-part, every even number divides by 2 with a remainder o zero, every object either does or doesn’t exist . . . The definition of “even number” tells you what every even number is by nature. By nature, it’s divisible by 2 with a remainder of zero. Being self-identical is an essential property that every existing object has.

    And an essential property is property that an object has if and only if that object exists. It can’t exist without that property. Water is essentially H20. So if you remove one or more atoms from any water molecule, you’ll destroy that molecule. The same is true about any other molecule. Take any atom from it, and that particular molecule won’t exist anymore. The removed atom may re-bond with the the ones that made up the molecule. But anything that isn’t H20 isn’t water, and anything that lacks even one essential part of hydrochloric acid isn’t hydrochloric acid. Every protozoan is a single-celled organism. Any organism with two or more cells isn’t a protozoan.Get the idea?

    None of this explains why god is necessary, nor does it validate the claim of him being existence. We know things exist, and your equation doesn’t make god any more evident. You’re basically saying god is an essential component to existence like hydrogen and oxygen is to water. It doesn’t prove anything. That’s just your opinion.



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  • 200
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #191 by WMcEnaney:

    Len, I usually don’t answer sarcastic posts. But I’m answering yours to say that I won’t answer any other sarcastic ones… Don’t worry. If you post one, I won’t post to it…

    Thank you for finally answering one.



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  • 201
    aldous says:

    What’s the point of quoting intellectual heavyweights, like Alvin Plantinga, in defence of religion. The billions subscribe to a religion because of accidents of geography. Ingenious arguments for the local superstition are on a level with ability of the brilliant attorney to bamboozle the jury.



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  • In reply to #198 by WMcEnaney:

    Let me try to explain what I mean when I say that God exists by His nature. You know of many logically necessary truths: Every object is identical with itself, 2 +2 = 4, every tautology, the denial of every tautology, any if-then proposition with a self-contradictory if-part, every even number divi…

    Let’s start with an assumption that no god exists.( the atheist position).
    Okay, now try to argue one into existence using your own words.



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  • In reply to #202 by Nitya:

    In reply to #198 by WMcEnaney:

    Let me try to explain what I mean when I say that God exists by His nature. You know of many logically necessary truths: Every object is identical with itself, 2 +2 = 4, every tautology, the denial of every tautology, any if-then proposition with a self-contradictory…

    I suggest this because it is your only tactic. You start with an assumption, for which there is no evidence, then defend your claims by continual appeals to authority and circular reasoning.

    I’d like to throw the ball into your court and suggest that you begin with our assumption.



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  • 204
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #198 by WMcEnaney:

    Being self-identical is an essential property that every existing object has.

    Quantum indeterminacy would beg to differ, the best we can really hope for is that A=A most of the time.



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  • 205
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #191 by WMcEnaney:

    Len, I usually don’t answer sarcastic posts. But I’m answering yours to say that I won’t answer any other sarcastic ones.

    Any excuse for being unable to provide an answer which challenges ridiculous claims – is a good excuse for ducking the issues.



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  • 206
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #201 by aldous:

    What’s the point of quoting intellectual heavyweights, like Alvin Plantinga, in defence of religion.

    I would not confuse fallacious tangled semantic verbosity, with intellectual prowess! Rational thinkers can still pick out the fallacies from the smokescreen of voluminous obfuscation.



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  • 207
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #202 by Nitya:

    Let’s start with an assumption that no god exists.

    Strictly speaking it’s merely the lack of one rather glaring assumption, but I like your idea!



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  • 208
    aldous says:

    In reply to #206 by Alan4discussion:

    I would not confuse fallacious tangled semantic verbosity, with intellectual prowess! Rational thinkers can still pick out the fallacies from the smokescreen of volumin…

    It’s not the quality of Plantinga’s intellect that is questionable but the partisan use he puts it to.



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  • 209
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #196 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m not an existentialist. I’m a Thomist. I don’t expect to convince anyone here of anything.

    Apologies then. Your relentless notes confused me.

    Bill, I think the problem we’re having here is one of register, in the language sense. Most here tend to adopt a scientific register, whereas you prefer a more formal, philosophically based conversation, somewhat akin to Wuellner’s theological-grade glossolalia. So I’m here to try for you.

    Let me try to explain what I mean when I say that. Logically necessary truths, being self-identical, any if-then proposition with a self-contradictory if-part will emerge, but only when the object is identical with itself. You might even say the object and existence in itself are exactly the same thing. And I’m sure you wouldn’t deny that existence exists

    Property that an object has if and only if that object exists, and I honestly doubt you could argue with that. OK? Perhaps this will help.

    Years ago, when I flew a V-35B, steam-driven instruments helped my cognitive ability to see the boundary between heaven and earth. Get the idea? Boof Hedd, an acquaintance of mine, is a professional bouncer and he thinks wasted patrons are like that. But if a Bonanza was conscious like patrons, might it not have punched me on the nose when I argued over the boundary? Maybe it would have thought “Len is distracted so I better trigger a warning on the annunciator panel because he’s about to hit the earth” but it’s not as though it can think, or care about me, even with an updated glass panel.

    Say you’re an amoeba stranded on the wheel of the plane. Because you lack beliefs, a tongue, intentions or toes, does that mean the plane cares less for your comfort than for mine? I’m confident Anselm of Canterbury would argue that particular point for many years.

    Suppose there is more to heaven and earth than philosophy is able to imagine. That notion would preclude Plantinga right there, wouldn’t it? And would the old Bonanza have managed to notice? No, and I’m not pretending it can measure velocity, pressure and temperature better than can more modern planes. But it would easily have noticed any decently-sized angels, small gods or larger godlings, even though burdened with primitive anti-collision equipment.

    If that hasn’t changed your mind already, this will surely convince you.

    What if the landing gear alarms were Plantinga’s epiphenomena? They would seem to provoke the alarms, wouldn’t they? Bonanza’s aren’t handicapped by belief in metaphysical naturalism and yet they can’t see Yahweh. Even the ISS or Hubble, both of whom reject metaphysical naturalism, have failed to detect anything non-substantial between heaven and Timbuktu.

    I’m certain you won’t disagree that we need our cognitive faculties to be reliable if we’re going to get genuine knowledge about the natural world.

    You’ll understand if I tell you that you need to understand what I’ve said, Let me try this, You exist, trees exist, animals exist, Yahweh doesn’t, except in another way. But what do you and I have in common with everyone else and with Yahwehgod? Nothing. But assuming their reliability is like arguing inductively for the reliability of induction We may have no way to know whether we can get knowledge, OK?

    Thank you.



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  • 210
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #208 by aldous:

    It’s not the quality of Plantinga’s intellect that is questionable but the partisan use…

    Well he may be quite intelligent, but he’s certainly no intellectual. Strikes me as a bit of a poser.



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  • 211
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #209 by Len Walsh:

    Suppose there is more to heaven and earth than philosophy is able to imagine. That notion would preclude Plantinga right there, wouldn’t it?

    Love it! 😀



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  • In reply to #207 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #202 by Nitya:

    Let’s start with an assumption that no god exists.

    Strictly speaking it’s merely the lack of one rather glaring assumption, but I like your idea!

    Now you’re just being pedantic! 😉



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  • In reply to #209 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #196 by WMcEnaney:

    I’m not an existentialist. I’m a Thomist. I don’t expect to convince anyone here of anything.

    Apologies then. Your relentless notes confused me.

    Bill, I think the problem we’re having here is one of register, in the language sense. Most here tend to adopt a scient…

    I started reading your post last night when I was tired. I gave up, thinking that I couldn’t possibly understand what you’d said. It’s morning now. Ha ha!



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  • 214
    WMcEnaney says:

    No problem, Len. Apology accepted. Last weekend, during a conference in Dulles, Virginia, I talked with a Thomist who was working on his doctoral dissertation in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. While I told him about what we’ve been talking about here, he gave me some excellent advice: Know when to quit. So I quit.

    All the best,
    Bill



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  • 215
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #214 by WMcEnaney:

    No problem, Len. All the best, Bill…

    OK, goodbye Bill. And congratulations for beginning to appreciate of your limitations.

    I talked with a Thomist.

    I knew you would do, and I am naturally very flattered that your expert advisor was able to appreciate my sophisticated demolition of Plantingan theology. I anticipated you would need to show my workings to someone fluent in philosophical language, so I’m pleased you did so, and his recommendation to you is correct Bill.

    My friend the bouncer concurs with the advice of your friend. He obtained his doctorate three weeks ago tomorrow. No, wait. That was my last specialist metaphysical ballet appointment. Time flies and it was a month ago tomorrow. Sorry again. Anyway, I refer again of course to my friend Boof Hedd, a muscular security technician with a Doctor of Divinity, who was formerly an ice addict, but I digress.

    Boof reckons the most prominent philosopher in the Thomist tradition he had ever studied was a Catholic named Frank Pembleton, who famously stated – “Blind faith is the crutch of fools.”



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  • 216
    aldous says:

    In reply to #214 by WMcEnaney:

    … Last weekend, during a conference in Dulles, Virginia, I talked with a Thomist who was working on his doctoral dissertation in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

    How can a degree in philosophy from a ‘university’ whose essential purpose is to produce lobbyists for the Catholic faith be taken seriously?



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  • 217
    achromat666 says:

    I have an issue in general with any position designed to support itself only as opposed to supporting the facts. ‘God is the universe’ is not a statement that has any factual support. It’s designed solely to support a position that theists have. It serves no other useful purpose.

    Philosophy can be a wonderful thing, but when it’s used to support the absurd and then call it truth it ceases to have my interest.

    Saying ‘I don’t know what caused this’ is still infinitely more honest (and accurate) than saying my god must have done it because he’s the only one who could.



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  • In reply to #60 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #48 by dc: Amen, and one day perhaps, degree of religous inclination can be tested with a sample of blood. Still no answer to the ultimate question is there any deity or not? Science today cannot deal with that question properly, and why should it? There is enough to do without stepping into that minefield of emotions. Presence or not of a deity cannot be measured or calculated from performed measurements down to quantum mechanics. Therefore the more elaborate religious doctrines become the more they distance themselves from science (churches). Atheists do not believe in any god but they cannot prove non existance scientifically. Most do not want any church to be built on that. Agnostic means you don’t know, and can live with not knowing, not believing.

    Dear all,

    I am the originator of this post. Thanks for your kind [and some not so kind, indeed rather snide] responses. I find some of the views shared quite enlightening, while I find some others rather perplexing or confused. Anyway,

    Hi dc. I’ll pick out this section to…



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  • 219
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #218 by Agge:

    In reply to #60 by Alan4discussion:

    Presence or not of a deity cannot be measured or calculated from performed measurements down to quantum mechanics.

    Unless the presence of the deity is confirmed as a psychological feature of the brain as I linked @60

    Therefore the more elaborate religious doctrines become the more they distance themselves from science (churches).

    Indeed, the more specific and elaborate the claims the more easily they are refuted.

    Atheists do not believe in any god but they cannot prove non existance scientifically.

    This is not really an argument. Atheists cannot prove the non-existence of invisible elephants , fairies, leprechauns or celestial teapots. but this simply show problems with proving negatives. Occam’s razor would favour changes of states of energy and matter over the vastly more elaborate story of a personified universe creator. The need for an imagined leader/protector in the anthropomorphic psychology of theist claims is much more credible and probable.

    Most [atheists]do not want any church to be built on that.

    There is no need for a unity in non-belief, except in areas where there is social discrimination against atheists, creating a need for meeting like-minded people.

    Agnostic means you don’t know, and can live with not knowing, not believing.

    We certainly cannot be 100% certain of anything in life, but for many such as myself the 0.0000001% of doubt is a technicality which is of little consequence. Nobody has ever made a credible case for the existence of a deity, although thousands of versions have been invented.



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  • 220
    WMcEnaney says:

    I meant it when I said I quit. But I need to answer aldous’s post because it’s about the credibility of the State University of New York at Albany, where I went to undergraduate and graduate schools. SUNYA is secular university where most philosophy professors were atheists, including the one who introduced me to Thomism when it didn’t interest me. Some theologians talk as though they think I’m an expert in it. If I am one, that’s because I taught myself most of what I know about it. The UA did not turn my into a lobbyist of any kind. If I am one, I’m a self-taught one.

    What about Len’s kind words? Well, I’m thankful for them. But why have I decided to leave this forum? Not because I’ve discovered a limitation of mine. I’m very aware of my limitations. I decided to quit because I was struggling to use an ability I know I have. Unfortunately physical and psychological problems have made it hard to use. Goodbye. In reply to #216 by aldous:

    In reply to #214 by WMcEnaney:

    … Last weekend, during a conference in Dulles, Virginia, I talked with a Thomist who was working on his doctoral dissertation in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

    How can a degree in philosophy from a ‘university’ whose essential purpose is to prod…



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  • 221
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #220 by WMcEnaney:

    I meant it when I said I quit. Goodbye. …

    Goodbye. Who here would doubt your credibility? I trust you, so goodbye again.

    Some theologians talk as though they think I’m an expert in it. If I am one…If I am one, I’m a self-taught one.

    Yes, I had noticed that Bill.

    What about Len’s kind words? Well, I’m thankful for them.

    It feels like a miracle to me. I am so gobsmacked. After your promise too.
    To think you returned to reassure members that it was nothing I had said to you in specialized dialogue. Authentic Thomism sure feels exhilarating once you get the hang of it, so thanks Bill, and goodbye.

    I was struggling to use an ability I know I have.

    Yes, but not now. I’m confident readers won’t doubt that skill-set any more. Not after our meaningful exchanges, with that singular exception when I resorted to sarcasm, they won’t. Not now that they can see how close we’ve become.

    Unfortunately physical and psychological problems have made it hard to use.

    I will defend you to the death of my neighbour on that score.

    Prior to this thread, while still vibrantly fresh and a tad more lucid, if you’ll pardon the qualification, your abilities appeared to be precociously good, savant-like in fact. Your explanation of how proper family sexual relations may still occur, even if the wife has broken ovaries, was theologically supreme. I was not being facetious when I congratulated you for making more sense than Plantinga.

    Theologically you sparkle like some brilliant, philosophically-sophisticated diamond of metaphysical sense. It is clear to me that members here, except for me, struggle to appreciate that. Perhaps another audience… but I don’t want to put ideas into your head mate,

    Cya again.



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  • 222
    zeroeqlsinfinity says:

    The religious impulse is something which arises in most people. The form that it is expressed as differs, and there are beneficial forms, neutral forms, and malignant forms. The question is: How do we encourage the expression to be beneficial or neutral over malignant?

    A sense of awe and wonder, a sense of not knowing, of ineffability in the face of being in this universe is a beautiful state. But, whether a person is content with that experience without imposing an interpretation, and particularly a rigid dogmatic interpretation over a mythological/metaphorical one is an essential question. The problem of theism, is that it projects and creates a human overlay on top of the essential mystery of what is or is not beyond the boundaries which we face. (e.g. Does the question: What exists before t=0 even make any sense?)

    So my concern is not with whether religious impetus leads to religious forms, but what can be done to inoculate people against the dangerous forms, the rigid, the militant, the destructive and blinding forms.

    There is a tale of a mystic taking his students up the mountain each day to sit in meditation as the sun rose. A man who was not amongst the students asked if he could accompany them on the trip, and the mystic was opposed but finally relented on the condition that the man agree to remain silent. And so the next day as the group ascended the mountain in darkness to where they sat the man accompanied them. All sat, and waited patiently for the sun to rise, and as the darkness began to shift to azure, and oranges, pinks, and yellows, and finally the run arose in exquisite beauty, the man uttered, “How beautiful!”. The mystic immediately stopped the meditation and had everyone begin the descent. The man was perplexed and later asked,”Why did the meditation end so abruptly?” To which the mystic answered, “Because in speaking you displaced experience with a word, and by doing that not only did it interrupt the experience of my students, but it introduced the danger of reduction of what is ineffable to a form.”

    The danger of religion lies in anthropomorphic projection, not in the states which people experience, and which are common and accessible to virtually anyone.

    To quote from sermon 12 of Meister Eckhart:
    “Therefore St. Augustine says: “The finest thing that we can say of God is to be silent concerning him from the wisdom of inner riches.” Be silent therefore, and do not chatter about God, for by chattering about him, you tell lies and commit a sin. If you wish to be perfect and without sin, then do not prattle about God. Also you should not wish to understand anything about God, for God is beyond all understanding. A master says: “If I had a God that I could understand, I would not regard him as God.” If you understand anything about him, then he is not in it, and by understanding something of him, you fall into ignorance.”

    To even create the label “God” is a problem, as it invites projection. But if the religious could go so far as to take Eckhart seriously enough to stop their prattle, I would be a very happy camper.



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  • 223
    will knutsen says:

    If one starts from the religious belief that, “in the beginning”, god was everything, one should be able to see right away that this god could not make MORE than itself, or, put another way, more than everything. That should just about clear up everything. You are now free to ask why would a god make anything at all, assuming more than everything could be made, that is..Was this god bored? And being god, meaning able to see through time and space… that is AFTER he had made time and space…. then he would know the outcome of anything he set in motion, that is After he created motion, of course, so why bother setting anything in motion? You see?Belief in a creator is much more complicated than the reality of evolution, which I say has no beginning or end.. Even our consciousness of evolution is understandable once one understands that, for example, slime molds, united in fear (adrenaline gas actually seeps around the ground, set off by one hungry individual whose forging area has run out of eatables, and the chemical gets others, even the still eating ones, to get in on the setting off of fear gasses) come together and become a new, though temporary, penis-like structure capable of doing more than any of individuals making it: it can sense light and warmth. Once in such a good environment, some cells in the penile-like structure change to spores, while others act like pump, spraying out the spores to start new colonies. In other words, following in that pattern, we evolved ever more complex awareness as we came together through ever higher degrees of communication, but the standard was already there in slime molds in the earth: fear, the great communicator; the great motivator. And similar, but less evolved scenarios of communication was surely in even more primitive beings…that probably still exist somewhere in our bodies. And space here prevents me from going on any further in this endlessly exciting topic of evolution. Cheers!



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  • In reply to #222 by zeroeqlsinfinity:

    The religious impulse is something which arises in most people. The form that it is expressed as differs, and there are beneficial forms, neutral forms, and malignant forms. The question is: How do we encourage the expression to be beneficial or neutral over malignant?

    A sense of awe and wonder,…

    You’ve stated your case very eloquently and persuasively. Everyone, regardless of worldview, appreciates the aesthetics of a beautiful sunrise or a natural event that appeals to our senses. If one has decided to attribute this to a supernatural entity, and chooses not to beat others around the head with it, I can’t see any harm being done.

    Unfortunately this is usually not the case. Most of those with a belief in the supernatural , choose to enforce their worldview by indoctrinating children, persecuting others, and by denouncing a scientific explanation. But you’ve said that, haven’t you?

    I agree with almost everything you’ve said ( and you’ve expressed it very well, IMO). The point of difference is that I find the natural world exciting in itself. A scientific explanation of the phenomenon adds to my appreciation.



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  • 225
    aldous says:

    In reply to #220 by WMcEnaney:

    I meant it when I said I quit. But I need to answer aldous’s post …

    You didn’t. I was referring to the Catholic University of America and, specifically, the worth of a philosophy degree from an institution designed to turn out apologists for the Catholic faith. It’s this inbuilt bias that I think unworthy of a university. Of course, they may well have academic courses outside their faith mission which are perfectly respectable.

    Why you should defend a completely different university that I made no reference to at all, I don’t quite know.



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  • 226
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    In reply to #225 by aldous:

    In reply to #220 by WMcEnaney:
    I was referring to the Catholic University of America and, specifically, the worth of a philosophy degree from an institution designed to turn out apologists for the Catholic faith.

    Hi Aldous,

    I went and looked at the CUA website, read through their Mission Statement and general information, and I agree that doing all that education and searching for truth “in the light of Catholic Beliefs” undermines the University institution, but makes the emphasis on Philosophy so necessary, making the graduates competent in whipping up apparently sophisticated word salads to conform to their presuppositions while avoiding the cognitive dissonance their advanced education should produce.

    As I read in one of RD’s books, when he quotes a Dean of Oxford saying about an University Applicant: “I doubt that Theology can be regarded as a Subject.”

    Although I didn’t have the finances to attend a University, I’m sure glad that I didn’t get to go to one like this, even with a full scholarship…. Mac.



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  • 227
    dmanhart says:

    A chimpanzee cannot understand calculus. It simply is not possible for their minds to conceive of the concept.. Likewise, there will be things in the universe we will discover that our minds will not be able to understand. It has nothing to do with gods. Gods we can understand, whether they are the petulant jealous gods of ancient Greece, or the bloodthirsty evil anti-moral god of christianity, islam and hebrews.



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  • 228
    joao.r.nunes.1 says:

    ‘Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose . . . I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy.’

    I think the point of this quote is to convey that the universe and the laws that govern it are far more intricate than we can wrap our heads around. After all, the ultimate goal of Science is to unite the current theories we already have (which can fairly accurately predict, to a certain degree, the things we observe). You musn’t mistake Science for a philosophy, however. Science is a method: a method of trial and error. Science tests and constantly corrects itself. A philosophy merely poses a question and tries to reach a logical conclusion. I believe it was Stephen Hawking that pointed out that philosophy played an important role in Human History, but no longer a relevant one with the advent of Science. It is a common misconception religious people make to equate Science to a belief system or philosophy.

    As for “reformed non-believer” I think you shouldn’t make such a big deal of what you do or do not believe. You are in fact not being “more exact” and you’re basically saying you are an atheist but unsure of your position (hence why you feel the need of coming up with a fancy name for yourself). The very label “atheist”, as RD points out, is an unfair one because it adjectivates you according to someone else’s belief system. The point is, if you’re a non-believer (assuming that means you don’t believe in any deity) you’re an atheist. But after reading what you wrote I would portray you more as a fence-sitter aka agnostic.

    Science has not reached every answer, and it probably never will, because as long as we are human (should I say men of science?) there will always be another question.



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  • 229
    EricFSM says:

    In reply to #227 by dmanhart:

    Likewise, there will be things in the universe we will discover that our minds will not be able to understand. It has nothing to do with gods. Gods we can understand, whether they are the petulant jealous gods of ancient Greece, or the bloodthirsty evil anti-moral god of christianity, islam and hebrews.

    How can you rule out gods? How do you know that the god of Richard Dawkins does not exist, the one he referred to when he said “If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed”?

    Once you posit that there are things that our minds can’t understand, then you open the door to the supernatural, and then all things are possible, even gods.



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