God – The Great Projection

Sep 8, 2014

By Michael Sherlock

God of the Gaps

Intelligent design theory, and I use the word theory in its strictest colloquial sense, is one giant appeal to ignorance.  It rests entirely upon the unknown and seeks to present such negative evidence as a positive scientific basis for the theory that an intelligent designer created the universe.  But ignorance, as most rational people know, can only testify on behalf of ignorance and nothing more.  To put it logically, the absence of knowledge about ‘X’ (origins) in no way vouches for knowledge of ‘Y. (god)’  This god of the gaps basis for intelligent design is fairly well-known by well-read atheists, so I thought I would add to the attack against this preposterous theory by addressing it from a psychological and neurological point of view.

When I first began reading about pareidolia, it caused me to ponder its connection with psychological projection, which in turn led me to consider the psychological foundation of intelligent design theory.  However, as is often the case, I am getting ahead of myself, so let me start at the beginning.

I guess I should first begin by explaining what pareidolia is and how it relates to psychological projection, and how that connection offers a compelling explanation for the false nature of the theory of intelligent design.

Pareidolia

Pareidolia is a phenomenon in which random and meaningless images or sounds are seen as forming recognizable or significant patterns.(1)   The alleged face on mars that became popular fodder for ancient alien theorists and other members of the tin-foil hat crowd, as well as the $28,000 grilled cheese sandwich with the apparent face of the Virgin Mary on it, which, if you ask me, looked more like Marilyn Manson, are just two examples of visual pareidolia.  This phenomenon exists because our brains are predisposed to seeking out and finding familiar patterns, even where there aren’t any.  We do this by adding to, and subtracting from, data, or by data mining in order to produce recognizable patterns in a mess of otherwise random stimuli.  Not only are our brains hardwired to discover both existent and non-existent patterns in this way, but they are also geared to imbue these patterns with emotional meanings, meanings that only exist within our minds.(2)  It is this editing process that got me thinking about how both pareidolia and psychological projection are linked and how they relate to intelligent design theory.  But, once again, I am getting ahead of myself.

80 comments on “God – The Great Projection

  • @OP – Intelligent design theory, and I use the word theory in its strictest colloquial sense, is one giant appeal to ignorance. It rests entirely upon the unknown and seeks to present such negative evidence as a positive scientific basis for the theory that an intelligent designer created the universe. But ignorance, as most rational people know, can only testify on behalf of ignorance and nothing more.

    One of the laughable aspects of the pseudo-science, IDiot, pseudo-theory, of “intelligent design”, is that very usually, the (no) IDers’ examples “unknown to science”, and unexplainable by science”, are only unknown to the (no) IDers, and the “unobtainable” answers, can be readily found in science text-books or in published science articles.

    It is their standard argument: (“I am too uneducated, incredulous, and ignorant to understand how this can happen: – so god-did-it-by-magic!” – “See I know it all!”)



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  • I’m not sure whether Mr Sherlock is saying believers are ignorant or whether he is being a little kinder to us and is trying to provide some sort of psychological explanation for our belief in God or gods. My standpoint is that God exists and science shows us not that ‘He did it by magic’ but it reveals how He did/does it. As far as I’m concerned the more we discover the more astonishing God becomes, and for that reason science is all the more noble a pursuit. And to my mind until the ultimate ‘unknown’ is known, God must remain the default Explanation. However, I can’t speak for others of course.



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  • 3
    Captain Zep says:

    It’s not, I think, about being kind or contemptuous. It’s discussing ID as a religious phenomenon, and exploring possible reasons for its existence from a psychological standpoint

    Speaking for myself, I can’t see how gods “must” remain the default. Some explanation as to the evidence supporting the gods hypothesis might help though. If there is evidence that I have missed on my travels I’ll reconsider my view.



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  • CumbriaSmithy Sep 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Hi Smithy,

    My standpoint is that God exists and science shows us not that ‘He did it by magic’ but it reveals how He did/does it. As far as I’m concerned the more we discover the more astonishing God becomes, and for that reason science is all the more noble a pursuit.

    What you are expressing is the “theistic evolution” of the RCC and CofE, which says it accepts the science of evolution but claims “god-did-it”!

    The Intelligent Design pseudo-theory denies evolution, and claims that all creatures were created as they are at present, (6,000 to 10,000 years ago) and that all present life is literally descended from the contents of Noah’s ark!
    It’s supporters are fundamentalist evolution deniers. It was invented to try to include Young Earth Creationism in science lessons in the USA. Their claim that ID is “science” has been thrown out of US courts on various occasions!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design_movement

    To achieve their goal of defeating a materialistic world view, advocates of intelligent design take a two-pronged approach. Alongside the promotion of intelligent design, proponents also seek to “Teach the Controversy”; discredit evolution by emphasizing perceived flaws in the theory of evolution, or disagreements within the scientific community and encourage teachers and students to explore non-scientific alternatives to evolution,

    . . . . . .
    The scientific community’s position, as represented by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), is that intelligent design is not science, but creationist pseudoscience. Richard Dawkins, a biologist and professor at Oxford University, compares the intelligent design movement’s demand to “teach the controversy” with the demand to teach flat Earthism; acceptable in terms of history, but not in terms of science. “If you give the idea that there are two schools of thought within science–one that says the earth is round and one that says the earth is flat–you are misleading children.



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  • “God must remain the default Explanation”
    Wrong – the default position is: no god exists. ‘
    Again and again – you make the extraordinary claim that “god” exists.

    which god – choose of several thousand and explain your preference
    Provide evidence for its/her/his existence.
    other than that:

    “Such as are a man’s thoughts and dispositions, such is his God; so much worth as a man has, so much and no more has his God. Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge. By his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God”

    this explains all gods well enough for me. As the article said – projection



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  • Hello. I wish I’d posted this a little earlier because now I feel a little bit like I’m piling on. But….if you start off from the position that god is omnipotent it’s hard to understand how god could ever become more astonishing. It’s kind of a infinity plus 1 situation. If you all ready believe that god can do anything and created everything then the discovery of a sentient soap bubble with the I.Q of a thousand should be no more impressive or profound than dog turd.



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  • Maybe it’s just my computer but I can’t find CumbriaSmithy’s post anymore. If one of the mods deleted it than that’s just totally unfair. His post was on topic, and he didn’t preach. I’ve been dying for some kind of interesting debate here, but be it the topic choices by the site, or the moderation of the religious people’s opinions that we’d like to debate, it’s become exceedingly difficult for a meaningful debate on these issues to come to fruition. I fondly remember two or three years ago when debates with theist would regularly end up with over five hundred comments, but it doesn’t happen any more. It seems like the current stance by the mods is if your not Michael Behe or Francis Collins, get ready to have your comments deleted, because your too ignorant to be enlightened by this site.

    And lets talk about preaching. How in the world are we suppose to debate the rationality, ethics, or common sense of the passages religious people base their lives on if they’re banned from bring up what they are? Let them preach their ass’s off. At least that will give us something that’s to the real core of religious belief to debate. Let the brilliant posters on this site have a crack at it. Let them go right for the heart of the matter instead of letting people come here, quote a few Bible verses, and then get kicked out and claim victory because us atheist are too afraid to hear the truth.

    This site needs more postings and more debates about everything. What the people that are running this site (Thank you for running this site) don’t seem to understand is that it’s not the site, or even Richard Dawkins that makes this site what it…..was. It’s the people that post here. Nitya, Simon Tuffen, Red Dog, Katy Cordeth, phil rimmer, InYourFaceNewYorker, David R Allen, Alan4discussion, Stephen of Wimbledon, KRKBAB, Reckless Monkey, aldous, inquisador, Zeuglodon, Roedy, Michcael (the poster formerly know as blitz) , mmurray, Sue, Mr DArcy, Neodarwinian, QuestioningKat etc….. (Sorry if I didn’t mention you, I could go on and on). They’re what’s important, and by constantly constricting what their beautiful minds can speak to, your only starving your own site of their brilliance.



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  • Pareidolia. I’m very pleased to come across this word; new to me, though I was well aware of the concept of psychological projection. Now that I have a specific word, I’m better equipped to call it out when I see it!

    @Ryan.
    I feel really flattered to be included in your mix. My self esteem was instantly elevated, so thanks once again.

    . the religious people’s opinions that we’d like to debate, it’s become exceedingly difficult for a meaningful debate on these

    I agree with your words above ( though I’ve taken them slightly out of context for my own ends.) I think we should be engaging with theists a great deal more than we do. It must take a lot of courage for someone like Cumbria Smithy to come on to this site and put forward ideas in direct opposition to the prevailing view. I don’t find myself fronting up to church services on a Sunday in order to argue with parishioners, or going onto theistic sites so that I can take them to task. It’s difficult to be the lone voice, I’m sure we’ve all experienced that feeling often enough.



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  • 9
    Captain Zep says:

    Agreed. And we should include Smithy and Lonevoice in the list.

    I replied directly to Smithy, if the mods had deleted wouldn’t that have taken my post down too? Did Smithy withdraw himself?

    Mods, please can you shed light? I’m in agreement with Ryan, Smithy’s post was valid.



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  • @Ryan.
    I feel really flattered to be included in your mix. My self esteem was instantly elevated, so thanks once again.

    You’ve been a great poster for years, and I thought it was really neat to see your picture when you used it for your avatar. I wish I knew what everyone here looked like. But I just want to reiterate that I left many gifted posters names out just for the sake of brevity (and laziness).



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  • Ryan. I’m veering dangerously off topic here….but I hope I’m allowed a brief window?
    I thought long and hard about including a pic ( it’s not easy for a female well past the first flush of youth. You may have noticed?) on the other hand the male posters feel quite free in this regard. Good on them, I say!
    I began to equate the lack of photos with wearing a full burqa and decided to buck the trend. It didn’t take too long before I started to worry about being identified as I do divulge a fair bit of personal information.



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  • Mr. Sherlock, I would like to know why our brain (as You said) is predisposed to seek familiar patterns. Who says that our brain does that, and why brain would do so? If it is seeking for “familiar” patterns, than how did brain made them familiar and why? I am not being sarcastic but I just want to know. I have read and heard about it many times but I have not read anywhere why brain does that.
    But in my opinion, we always project our internal feelings, we always recognize us in something (someone) else. Just, have You noticed that people tend to recognize more negative aspects of them in others? “he/she is so stingy, cheeky,greedy, etc”. That speaks enough about us,… we are probably stingy,cheeky, or greedy otherwise we would not notice it in the first place. The question is why do we notice more of negative than a positive (if any) aspects. 🙂

    And perhaps because we are transformers of energy (as all things in universe are, as well as our thoughts), electromagnetc field of our thoughts recognize other one because it is “on the same wavelenght”. How many times we say so in everyday speech. 😉



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  • Nitya Sep 9, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Ryan. I’m veering dangerously off topic here….but I hope I’m allowed a brief window?
    I thought long and hard about including a pic

    I thought about this, but maintain my anonymity, not because of any personal reticence, but so I can give practical examples from experience, without compromising the anonymity of family members, neighbours, etc.



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  • In answer to the users asking whether we removed CumbriaSmithy’s post – no, we didn’t. We haven’t removed any comments on this thread so far.

    As it happens, we didn’t even SEE this thread until after the comments about Smithy’s post having been supposedly removed had been made (we don’t post the articles, and we’re not online 24 hours a day).

    However, when we checked just now, his comment was in the “Pending” area of the site, which is where posts go initially when we first remove them or if the system has flagged them up to us for some reason.

    The system generally works well, but isn’t failsafe and oddities do sometimes occur. We can categorically confirm that there is nothing in CumbriaSmithy’s post above that would have led us to remove it. And we have now restored it from the Pending section.

    The mods



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  • Modesti Sep 9, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Mr. Sherlock, I would like to know why our brain (as You said) is predisposed to seek familiar patterns. Who says that our brain does that, and why brain would do so?

    Various books on evolution explain this.
    Basically any animal which cannot distinguish predators/prey from the background scene, does not have long to live.
    That is why so many have evolved camouflage.
    Likewise any herbivore which cannot recognise the shape/colour/smell/taste, of its food plants from poisonous ones.

    Telling relevant shapes from the background, goes a long way back in evolution. Generally it is better to make the mistake with a false alarm, which has minimal ill effects, than to fail to spot a real threat.



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  • CumbriaSmithy Sep 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    God must remain the default Explanation.

    Of course every god that has ever existed has been the “default position” according to its followers – with all other conflicting gods and versions of gods, being wrong!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deities

    Atheists require evidence of why any particular god (or any other object or entity) might exist, and why that one should be considered more likely than any of other conflicting explanations or versions of gods.



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  • Cumbria Smithy :

    I’m not sure whether Mr Sherlock is saying believers are ignorant or whether he is being a little kinder to us and is trying to provide some sort of psychological explanation for our belief in God or gods. My standpoint is that God exists and science shows us not that ‘He did it by magic’ but it reveals how He did/does it.

    Hi Smithy, I’m personally not too worried about the psychological reasons, but I am concerned about your claim that God shows us the “how” He did it ! Usually with a believer it’s the other way round ! I.E. Science shows the “how”, but religion shows the “why”.

    Please explain the “how”, and there’s certainly a Nobel Prize coming your way, … – as well as everlasting bliss of course !

    Have a good day.



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  • Hi Mr DArcy, I thought my point was simple enough. We take apart a clock (the old-fashioned sort) and observe its parts and how they move to turn the hands (we do science) and we see ‘how’ it works. Then we go to the clock factory and watch the craftsmen to see what they do (we do more science) to discover ‘how’ they make the clocks.

    So humans now do science to discover how the universe is put together, and the greater detail we go into the more we get to know how it works and how it came into existence. So I would contend that if we want to know how God made skin cells, we look at them through a microscope to discover that He used molecules, and to make molecules He invented atoms, etc. … and that’s my approach to science; so for that reason I’m happy to grant God the ability to create quantum fluctuations.

    The ‘why’ question is of course another topic!



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  • Thanks Mods. I must admit that one of my previous late-night posts was deemed too ‘preachy’ so was hastily removed and reviewed the following morning; so I’m probably ‘blacklisted’ by the system as a routine precaution, which is fair enough as there should always be defence mechanisms in place on a site like this.



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  • I’m probably ‘blacklisted’ by the system as a routine precaution

    You most certainly are not, CumbriaSmithy. We operate no such system and, indeed, the technology wouldn't allow us to do so even if we wanted to – which we don't. We review all comments at some point after they've been posted, and provided they do not breach our Terms of Use, they remain. If they do, they (or the offending parts of them, as appropriate) are removed. Regardless of who posts them and whether or not we happen to agree with them. We make no claim to infallibility and doubtless occasionally misjudge a situation, but we can nevertheless assure you that we actively strive to be as fair and impartial as we possibly can, and we are far more concerned to preserve an environment where discussion is thoughtful, courteous and on-topic than we are about the nature of the views being posted.

    And on that note, may we ask all users to return to the topic of the OP and not continue this derail, please.

    The mods



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  • Ah, Smithy, the old Paley argument ! So humans do the actual work of explaining the watch, ( and the building of the thing in the first place), and then God gets the credit ? Science shows the wonders of God’s creation, including of course all the “nasty” things like Ebola, E-coli, parasitic worms, malaria etc etc. Mere critters trying to eke out a living.

    Personally, I prefer to stick to natural explanations of things. It makes sense to me. As to the “why” question, there is no answer. I agree with Richard when he says that we are just so incredibly lucky to be here at all !

    Cheers.



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  • Smithy:

    He invented atoms, etc. … and that’s my approach to science; so for that reason I’m happy to grant God the ability to create quantum fluctuations.

    How very generous of you ! We must share a pint some time !



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  • Hi CumbriaSmithy,

    As others have already said, you are very welcome to the site.

    I understand the point you are making, however I’m interested in what you do when say the Bible directly contradicts what is discovered by science, for example the global flood is not at all consistent with what we know about geology and it would appear to be a plagerism of The Epic of Gilgamesh, so what do you do with stuff like that? How do you toss that aside and still maintain a Christian God?

    Regards



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  • I made a similar decision mainly because I am a teacher and don’t feel comfortable with my students knowing my feelings. I feel as a teacher and a parent I would be upset if a child of mine was being preached to by a teacher especially as an adult you have the advantage of experience and having read the bible a few times. I could easily knock down any student theistic arguments. I only wish all of the religious staff members did the same (most do).



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  • Are you aware of articles or books that address Thomas Aquinas’ special definition for creation? Aquinas’ creation appears to me to be contrived to reconcile ancient faith and dogma with modern scientific inquiry. Aquinas’ claims appear more psychological than rational. His special concept of God & Creation does not appear to me to offer any knowledge or understanding of our natural universe or ourselves. It appears irrational and dependent upon false premises. Yet it has been a major part of Catholic faith for centuries. Aquinas argued that people failed … “to distinguish between cause in the sense of a natural change of some kind and cause in the sense of an ultimate bringing into being of something from no antecedent state whatsoever. Creatio non est mutatio says Aquinas: The act of creation is not some species of change. . Only if one avoids the Cosmogonical Fallacy is one able to correctly understand the Christian doctrine of Creation ex nihilo.” … “Yet, the evidence for God’s Creation of the natural universe is the known fact—a fact that we know on the basis of our scientific research—that natural things are intelligible. If they are intelligible, they are so as the products of nature—that is, they are intelligible in terms of their natural causes. If this is true of the totality of natural things, then there must be some ultimate source of this intelligibility—there must be some ultimate cause for the being of any and all natural things. ” The excerpts are from the following web site address: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/aquinas-vs-intelligent-design



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  • The last comment may stray from the topic but it appears to me that Aquinas’ psychology shapes his special definition of creation. Aquinas’ thoughts on creation are the reason that the Catholic Church does not join the Creationism, Intelligent Design, and God of the Gaps argument. So it should be addressed.



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  • @ Alan4Discussion and Reckless Monkey.
    I was protecting the privacy of friends, family, neighbours and ex-students as much as myself. I know I’ve been responsible for making reference on occasion. I rationalise by saying that no-one would be able to identify me as it’s a big world out there, but there is a trail so it’s wiser to withhold photos I think.
    Now I must think of some connection to the God of the Gaps to avoid punishment! It’s a fine line.



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  • I know I’ve been responsible for making reference on occasion. I rationalise by saying that no-one would be able to identify me as it’s a big world out there, but there is a trail so it’s wiser to withhold photos I think.

    In retirement, I assist people who are the victims of internet scams. Try this. Get the photo you use as your avatar, and drag and drop it into Google Images. It can search by “Image File”. And it’s pretty good. Truly scarey. I use this function to find romance scammers. Same guy. Different name. Multiple victims etc. So I won’t put up a photo of myself.

    I just tested it on my own Facebook image and found it in a number of places.

    I chose Brian from Life of Brian as my avatar. I like what Brian has got to say on thinking for yourself. “Don’t let anyone tell you what to think. You’ve all got work it out for yourselves.” Yes, we’ve all got to work it out for ourselves.” “You’re all individuals.” “Yes we are all individuals.” “I’m not”. This, summarizes religion.



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  • “Yet, the evidence for God’s Creation of the natural universe is the
    known fact—a fact that we know on the basis of our scientific
    research—that natural things are intelligible.

    This should read as, ” Yet, the evidence for God’s creation of the natural universe is known belief- a belief the satisfies the people that believes he exists with absolutely no evidence- that natural things are intelligible based on it.”

    This whole post posits a lot of unproven assumptions that are fundamentally the same as the YEC and other theist ideas, the first and foremost being that God exists and can be demonstrated to have done anything. The assumption doesn’t establish anything and saying God did anything is utterly pointless if you can’t prove him.

    I could go into the ‘why the god of the bible and not say, any of the gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, the other variations of the Abrahamic god, the gods of Egyptian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Norse or any other variety?” but ultimately we know the answer is the difference in what the claimant believes, and not as Aquinas posits the evidence for one over the other (any thiestic assumption for one deity automatically makes this assumption that all others are invalid unless the claim is of a pantheon in which case all others outside of it are invalid). There is evidence for none.

    An actual comprehensible definition of said god first as every definition Aquinas and others present are self contradictory, then evidence of god, and then evidence of said god’s influence on ‘design’. You can’t just simply say any deity did anything without evidence of existence and expect to be taken seriously.

    This entire position, as well as all the positions commonly presented by any flavor of theists suffers the issues of putting the cart before the horse. You don’t get to have your unproven deity take credit for something that science is actually helping us better understand without first proving that said deity actually exists.



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  • CumbriaSmithy Sep 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    He used molecules, and to make molecules He invented atoms, etc. … and that’s my approach to science; so for that reason I’m happy to grant God the ability to create quantum fluctuations.

    Nobody needs to make “atoms”! Atoms of hydrogen and helium formed from the energy of the Big-Bang. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphical_timeline_of_the_Big_Bang

    The rest of the atoms (elements) formed (and are still forming) in the nuclear reactions in stars.

    Of course trying to connect the Big-Bang physics to miracles and Bible-myths, on a planet which represents an ultra nano-minuscule fraction of 1% of the galaxy – let alone the universe, – is a massive jump of incredulity!



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  • As for the article, I completely agree.

    I never cease to be confused by people that make special claims for the god(s) of their culture when they simply assume that non believers should simply assume that something is real and exists without demonstrating anything.

    All arguments regarding any type of god rests on this bit: all of the assumptions of what that flavor of deity is, what it wants, and what it does rest entirely on demonstration of existence. Claiming that science is giving us a better understanding of (insert god here)’s handiwork is literally the most empty claim a person can make as no evidence for the deity itself has ever been made. Most theists are unable to even make an intelligible claim as to what the definition of their god is, it’s most often a long string of platitudes and nonsensical pleasantries that ultimately explain nothing (god is creation, god is love, god is the breath of your soul, god is the unseen engineer, etc).

    Science is primarily about discovery and explanation. Theism revolves entirely around false assumptions and ignorance, and it has been trying to maintain some semblance of influence in the scientific world by its ignorant assumptions.

    As far as I’m concerned if you cannot define and demonstrate whatever claim you’re making, then I have no reason to take it seriously.



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  • Vince Sep 10, 2014 at 3:09 am

    The last comment may stray from the topic but it appears to me that Aquinas’ psychology shapes his special definition of creation. Aquinas’ thoughts on creation are the reason that the Catholic Church does not join the Creationism, Intelligent Design, and God of the Gaps argument. So it should be addressed.

    ID as invented for the expedient purpose of insinuating anti-evolution creationism into US science teaching, is NOW rejected by the RCC as the WRONG SORT OF CREATIONISM!
    It is however pretty near their earlier position under Pope Pius IX and earlier.

    The RCC current position is one of double-talk where they publicly claim to accept the science,

    but they then fudge the claim with all sorts of miracles, exorcisms, dogmatic meanings creationist interventions etc. incorporated into this.

    Science does not do that sort of fudge which mixes facts with fantasy! Science is either based on objective scientific methodology, or the claims are not science!



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  • CumbriaSmithy Sep 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    The natural explanation of things makes sense to me too, including the critters trying to eke out a living. I also agree with Richard regarding our good fortune!

    That is the difference between educated Xtians who accept the scientific time-lines of cosmology, geology, and biology, and the dogmatically ignorant ID creationist fundamentalist fanatics!

    You and I can probably agree that the Lakeland mountains I was looking at last month (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borrowdale_Volcanic_Group) while staying in Ambleside, are roughly 450 million years old, where as the likes of Ham and the ID, AIG crowd, will insist they were magically created along with the Earth, less than 10,000 years ago.

    The bigger the gaps in the knowledge of science, the more fundamentalist the inserted gods which are used as gap-fillers!



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  • Actually, since you brought this into discussion Vince, would you like to explain why you think Aquinas’ ideas on creationism are so different from the others you mention and more importantly how or why they are any more relevant? Does Aquinas’ special definition prove god or creation (the idea that something created the universe, not the general notion of what theist accept that he created)?

    If you wish us to actually discuss it, explain why we should. Explain why it is to be taken any differently than the other creationist theories routinely brought here.



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  • Did the Associate Professor of Philosophy demonstrate either creationism or the existence of god as being true? Did he find that any of Aquinas’ assertions are anything but the observations of a theistic mind trying to work god into the natural (read: scientific) universe?

    If not, then the questions I’ve already asked stand.



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  • @David R Allen

    Yeah, I teach ICT among other subjects. Trying to get the kids to see the long term consequences of posting everything on the net is hard. I used to get them to do a vanity search to see how many hits they got – facebook gives your uploaded images and metadata to google images so they get more hits so an employer looks up a potential employees name and gets 8 photos of them under-aged drinking, links to their facebook pages bitching about their mates and so on. I don’t do it anymore as sexting started to get big and I decided I didn’t want to inadvertently have very compromising images come up in class. The google image search is a particular worry as every kid has a mobile phone and we do occasionally have kids from families where the wife has fled interstate to get away from an abusive father threatening to murder them. I fear it is only a matter of time before some kid snaps and posts pictures of someone in this situation and slaps it on facebook for the deranged father literate enough to use google image search to track down the school and nap the kids. The algorithm may not be that good yet but we have a potent combination.



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  • Have you been drinking water from one of Sellafields overflow pipes?
    If god was Omnipotent as you seem to believe – then get him to tell us the value of a integer between 1-100 that has 11 non-trivial (ignoring 1/itself) integer factors!
    Go away and don’t come back till you have communed with your god and have an answer!
    Toodle-pip!



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  • 42
    inquisador says:

    Hi, Alan4discussion, welcome to:

    Pedant’s Corner

    Exhibit a. :-

    It is their standard argument: (“I am too uneducated, incredulous, and
    ignorant to understand how this can happen: – so god-did-it-by-magic!”
    – “See I know it all!”)

    Exhibit b. :-

    Of course trying to connect the Big-Bang physics to miracles and
    Bible-myths, on a planet which represents an ultra nano-minuscule
    fraction of 1% of the galaxy – let alone the universe, – is a massive
    jump of incredulity!

    Exhibit c. : –

    Credulity.
    noun. 1. Willingness to believe or trust too readily, especially without proper or adequate evidence: gullibility.

    Brilliant comments, Alan, as usual, but; could you be guilty of using a word as if it’s meaning were the opposite of what it actually is?

    incredulity; inability or unwillingness to believe.

    Just a thought.

    sorry to be a bit, y’know, pedantic.



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  • When I see faces in the pattern on the carpet, wallpaper or curtains, being rational, I know it’s because I have recently pulled too many all nighters for uni and being chasing my two year old son around all day, so I am exhausted. Being thus, I am aware my mind is playing tricks on me. But having an imagination like all humans I can also deliberately look for patterns that resemble faces. Getting back to being rational, these overworked hallucinations I could choose to represent something more ethereal than the mundane, but that’s all they are, part of the everyday fabric of reality. I do not put any significance into these “visions.” Of course if I wanted to break free from the everyday into a more acceptable form of phenomenology, I might proclaim such hallucinations to be the face of jeebus. Why? Because I am looking for recognition and attention from other believers. Alternatively I could say I worship frogs and I see the face of “frog” everywhere then even the whack jobs who see jeebus faces would resort to calling me a whack job. Ironic? Yes, that one group of class six whackadoos would call any other whackadoo a whack job just for doing what they themselves are doing but with a minor adjustment in symbology. Humans have become programmed evolutionarily to recognise and distinguish faces, also to recognise animal forms in jungles and scrub as a survival mechanism. Our prehistoric evolutionary epigenetics are still with us. We have only lived in a structured, “civilisation” for around 4000 yrs out of our 200,000 year existence in jungles and the wild with predators. It is a delusion, but one most are too intellectually lazy to question so they follow like sheep (just as they call themselves) other people who are sometimes even more deluded. The only moral I see in religion is the moral support of group unity within religion. But what does that mean? That even large numbers of people can be fooled and brainwashed, but just because the individual follows a group, it doesn’t make the group right. I look down on those who are lazy in any respect, that includes intellectually. An unexamined life isn’t worth living. Therefore to just follow a crowd, even if you’re atheist, in believing in nonsense is just below me. Atheists fall for those false fact websites too. How many believe a ducks quack doesn’t echo? It does; Question! That is really what separates us from the sheep. And don’t just take my word for it, do your own peer reviewed research and cross reference it endlessly, remorselessly.



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  • Vince Sep 10, 2014 at 2:54 am

    Are you aware of articles or books that address Thomas Aquinas’ special definition for creation? Aquinas’ creation appears to me to be contrived to reconcile ancient faith and dogma with modern scientific inquiry. Aquinas’ claims appear more psychological than rational. His special concept of God & Creation does not appear to me to offer any knowledge or understanding of our natural universe or ourselves. It appears irrational and dependent upon false premises.

    It certainly is!
    You might find this link helpful in an analysis:-

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



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  • You said “God must remain the default Explanation”.
    1. You have not defined what god is, so it remains unknown and undefined.
    2. Your logic therefore is that How everything came to be is unknown and undefined.
    ‘God’ in your context simply means we don’t know.
    So I agree that ‘we don’t know’ is the default position.

    When you can define god maybe it can be determined if in fact it did anything!



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  • inquisador Sep 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Hi, Alan4discussion, welcome to:

    Pedant’s Corner

    Credulity.
    noun. 1. Willingness to believe or trust too readily, especially without proper or adequate evidence: gullibility.

    Brilliant comments, Alan, as usual, but; could you be guilty of using a word as if it’s meaning were the opposite of what it actually is?

    incredulity; inability or unwillingness to believe.

    You are right! I should have made it clearer if I was pointing out the willingness to trust the mythology, or the unwillingness to trust the scientific evidence!



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  • So I can post from the dead can I eh?
    If that was meant as an insult then please insult me in a way I can understand!
    I didn’t even know who Bill Paley was till I Wikipedia’d him five minutes ago so I fail to see the significance of your witty riposte! (If that’s what it was meant to be!)



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  • A thousand apologies – ’twas an admittedly obscure way to ‘like’ your post, and reference “William Paley wannabe watchmaker” above.

    cheers



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  • I would like to challenge the question why we invented Gods and with them the base for ID. I think the approach to it is not in general the tendency for apophenia which is more a basic ability of many organisms to distinguish prey or potential threads like predators from background. None of these organisms but humans invented Gods and ID.
    Isn’t it more likely that one of the functions of our brains the ability to calculate possible futures, to increase the chance to choose the one that supports us with the maximum probability to survive and to reproduce.
    The importance of this function in combination with the fact that the amount of available information is much too big to calculate it all would normally lead to an infinite regress. To avoid this we created entities that are a kind of answer to this dilemma. Gods by definition are omnipotent and therefor don’t have the problem to be trapped in an infinite regress (as long as you believe in them!).
    Human curiosity, especially the so far finite form of it – science – explains more and more phenomena of the perceptible environment in fact it opens new forms of perception by technology, and therefor reduces the probability of the Gods we know so far.
    Now there are still people in our society being socialized in a strict religious background which means to live in a very strong contradiction of their holy scriptures to the scientific evidence provided today. As a result ID followers have to create absurd explanations for the purpose to take the Bible or the Qu’ran literally and not to be caught up in obvious contradictions. Voila!



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  • I use my real image here. I think I dont have a problem if someone can relate my thoughts to my face. What I write here is my true opinion and this is a part of me. How can a write about truth and reason and than hide my face? I don’t blame anyone to do this. Many good reasons were mentioned before to stay anonymous. But for myself – as a European – I think I can show my face in connetion with my thoughts, think it makes them more sincere. But this can only count for myself and everyone should feel free to do it like he or she likes.



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  • @David R Allen
    I’ve seen this procedure on “Catfish”, where they track down the real identity of those romantic internet relationships. I was really alarmed! I’ve tried to do the same but I think I probably need to use the PC for the task.
    I recognised your avatar from the start. I’m a really big fan of “The Life of Brian”.

    @ Joe Wolsing.
    As you’re from a non-English speaking country, you probably have less cause for fear.



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  • Hello Smithy.

    No “defence mechanisms” are required here, this is a forum replete with lively open debate.

    One thing which I’ve always noticed is the facility religious individuals possess to invoke God. They cross the line between the indicative and the subjunctive with total alacrity; in the sense that the argument switches from that which is known to exist to that which is wished for or imagined.

    You yourself speak of atoms and the Almighty in the same breath, when any mention of the latter is predicated on its existence, for which, unless I’m missing a trick, there is not a scintilla of evidence.

    Can you please elaborate for me?



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  • A thunderstorm knocked out electric power here. Power is back on but I have to go to work. Will comment after work. Aquinas’ view appears to be similar to other Intelligent Design views. His Summa Theologica was written from about 1265 to 1274 AD, so it may be one of the earliest written statements of ID. Aquinas appears to state that what man empirically observes today is evidence of an earlier metaphysical creation that is different from anything including cause and effect science laws, that we observe in the natural world today. Perhaps it is a Dark Ages psychological mindset that assumes there must be something metaphysical that transcends our space time natural universe which is responsible for creating our universe and reality. Aquinas’ influence on Catholic doctrine is the other reason I mentioned it. Thank you for the comments. I agree with achroma’s comments. Thanks I will read alan’s reference. I will have to comment later. I am out of time.



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  • Joe Wolsing
    Sep 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I think this is a very good analysis. One point I would take issue with, a slight difference of opinion but important:-

    The importance of this function in combination with the fact that the amount of available information is much too big to calculate it all would normally lead to an infinite regress.

    The problem is not IMO an infinite regress, but infinity itself. It’s not that the “available information is much too big”, but that we need reassurance about the infinite possibilities as to what might happen in the future. These future possibilities are not just “too big” – they are, metaphorically speaking, even bigger than that ! They are infinite.

    The way in which we cut them down into manageable chunks is by seeing patterns. We notice amongst all the randomness of the Universe, that ‘this’ keeps happening. That the Sun keeps rising every morning. That when you touch glowing red objects they hurt like &*%$£&^T. I’m not quite sure if Michael Sherlock would consider one pattern existent and the other non-existent in this example???

    The problem is when we start to question these patterns. How do we know the Sun will rise tomorrow? Particularly once we notice that some glowing red objects don’t hurt – like fire, if you treat it with respect!

    Which in itself is noticing a pattern. Noticing that some things have exceptions, and others don’t. Well not so far, anyway.

    I would say that people, animals, perhaps even plants, need reassurance; reassurance that ‘this’ will keep happening, this pattern will keep repeating. I’m sure there would be evolutionary advantage to this. Useful to sleep easy at night, ready to face the threats of the next morn.

    Creating Gods is one such way of giving oneself such reassurance.

    There was a docu about 10-15 yrs ago, BBC I think. AIR It began asking people what science didn’t explain. One New York cabbie I think said something like “it doesn’t explain why there are laws of Nature in the first place”. Cut to eminent physicist Sir Roger Penrose who agreed; science can explain why things happen as they do, using the laws of Nature/physics/biology – but it can’t explain why those laws should be there as an explanation.



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  • Thank you for the reference. The criticisms are similar to what I encountered in a Philosophy course many years ago. Aquinas’ common sense premises do not convince me. Recently a Catholic referred to Aquinas’ proofs as a reason why he had faith in god. I was surprised to find a Philosophy professor referring to Aquinas. It is my impression that evolution with natural selection answers the teleological argument and the other proofs are not taken seriously in modern times.



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  • Thank you. A Catholic referred me to the article “Aquinas vs. Intelligent Design” By: Michael W. Tkacz, who is an associate professor of philosophy at Gonzaga University. The article is at the web site address: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/aquinas-vs-intelligent-design

    The difference between the Catholic Church’s position and the Intelligent Design advocates such as in the Dover, PA federal court case, are not clear (somewhere between subtle to vague to nonexistent). I have not read an official Church statement on the matter.



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  • It seemed to me that Michael W. Tkacz suggested in his article that there was a distinction between the Catholic Church’s and Thomas Aquinas’ Intelligent Design opinion and the ID advocated by other religious denominations. The opinions that I have read or heard appear to rely on the idea that something metaphysical transcending our space time universe created our universe and us. After which time science laws and matter and energy are observed or intelligible by humans. I don’t see a difference between Tkacz’s ID and other religious group ID ideas.

    The relevance is that the Catholic Church’s positions have been influenced by Thomas Aquinas writings for centuries. There are more than a billion Catholics in the world today. Many kids are being taught Catechism and Catholicism with a trace of Aquinas teachings by their parents or parents’ generation.

    Science observes phenomena in the natural universe which appear to result from natural processes in the universe. There does not appear to be any evidence that suggests that supernatural forces were involved in the creation of the natural universe. If there was a creation.

    You do not need to discuss it. I have not yet encountered any new ideas. The suggested article analyzing Aquinas’ 5 proofs is sufficient to counter the arguments.

    The premises, logic, and core of Thomas Aquinas’ 1265 AD ideas and the recent Creationist or Intelligent Design ideas appears to be psychological. The psychology does not have to be logical or rational it can be anthropomorphic or emotional or many other traits.

    I had hoped to focus on Aquinas & Tkacz’s views instead of my opinions.



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  • By the way, Behe and other Intelligent Design advocates in the Dover, PA federal court case (about 2006 or early 2007) failed to prove their case. A conservative, law educated, judge ruled against placing ID in high school science courses.



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  • Vince Sep 12, 2014 at 1:47 am

    The difference between the Catholic Church’s position and the Intelligent Design advocates such as in the Dover, PA federal court case, are not clear (somewhere between subtle to vague to nonexistent).

    The problem is that both positions are vague and shift according to the argument of the day and over historical time scales. The essential difference is that the YECs are Young Earth, and the RCC is Old earth creationism.

    I have not read an official Church statement on the matter.

    The official RCC statements are quoted on my second and third wiki links, on the comment you answered: –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Pope_Benedict_XVI

    The Church’s stance is that any such gradual appearance must have been guided in some way by God, but the Church has thus far declined to define in what way that may be. Commentators tend to interpret the Church’s position in the way most favorable to their own arguments. The ITC statement includes these paragraphs on evolution, the providence of God, and “intelligent design”: . . . .. . ..

    In addition, while he was the Vatican’s chief astronomer, Fr. George Coyne, issued a statement on 18 November 2005 saying that “Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be.

    These further quotes from the linked article sum up the RCC position.

    The YECs are a diverse shambles of conflicting claims, as you would expect, when they are using “make-it-up-according-to-your-personal-preconceptions” as a methodology!



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  • It seemed to me that Michael W. Tkacz suggested in his article that
    there was a distinction between the Catholic Church’s and Thomas
    Aquinas’ Intelligent Design opinion and the ID advocated by other
    religious denominations. The opinions that I have read or heard appear
    to rely on the idea that something metaphysical transcending our space
    time universe created our universe and us. After which time science
    laws and matter and energy are observed or intelligible by humans. I
    don’t see a difference between Tkacz’s ID and other religious group ID
    ideas.

    Nor do I, and nothing in Aquinas’ writings have never been provable hence my assuming the bringing up of the subject by someone who was pro as opposed to con. It does not appear you are mentioning it because you believe so I apologize for the confusion.

    The relevance is that the Catholic Church’s positions have been
    influenced by Thomas Aquinas writings for centuries. There are more
    than a billion Catholics in the world today. Many kids are being
    taught Catechism and Catholicism with a trace of Aquinas teachings by
    their parents or parents’ generation.

    I am aware that Aquinas is still influential despite having been overall disproven, but the Catholic Church is fond of being selective about what in science they accept, or more specifically what they accept along with much of science (miracles, exorcisms and the like). So I can’t say I’m surprised. A very common tactic in trying to invoke something like intelligent design always relies in invoking some intangible idea, be it through the common “First Cause” argument or the misinformed “something has to come from nothing” argument, both of which have been refuted and reveal an ignorance of what science actually says about the universe.



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  • Vince Sep 12, 2014 at 2:35 am

    By the way, Behe and other Intelligent Design advocates in the Dover, PA federal court case (about 2006 or early 2007) failed to prove their case. A conservative, law educated, judge ruled against placing ID in high school science courses.

    It is a shared tactic of both AIG and the RCC to make unsupported assertions, buried in concocted pseudo-science with escalating complexity and “deepity” obfuscation.
    It is sufficient to trigger the cognitive biases and hide the fallacies from their scientifically illiterate followers and some politicians, but is rapidly refuted when expert scientific witnesses are called.



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  • Vince Sep 12, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I was surprised to find a Philosophy professor referring to Aquinas. It is my impression that evolution with natural selection answers the teleological argument and the other proofs are not taken seriously in modern times.

    That depends on who is taking them seriously!
    Many so-called “philosophy courses” in US Bible colleges are just theological revamping of old arguments and old fallacies!

    Since science took over answering earlier “deep” philosophical questions in the nineteenth century, with much of earlier “natural philosophy” now being included in science courses, the Bible Colleges are left with the rump-end of theological fallacies, and ancient long-refuted misconceptions. “Faith-thinking”, – lacking scientific methodology, – has no way of discarding debunked claims, so followers lacking scientific knowledge, make elaborate mental contortions to doggedly cling to these self-deceptions!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy

    Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature (from Latin philosophia naturalis) was the philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.[1][2]

    Natural science historically developed out of philosophy or, more specifically, natural philosophy. At older universities, long-established Chairs of Natural Philosophy are nowadays occupied mainly by physics professors. Modern meanings of the terms science and scientists date only to the 19th century.



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  • @OP – God – The Great Projection

    I suppose if we are looking at the projection, we should also look at the location of projector!

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm

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



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  • @Vince.
    I fail to see why the thoughts of Thomas Aquinas are still held in such high esteem today, knowing what we know. A quick google search produced the following on Aquinas:

    . Also in the 13th Century, the leading Christian theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (much of whose work became adopted as the orthodoxy of the Church), argued that the world was full of evil and dangerous demons that try to lead people into temptation, and thus began the long Christian association between sex and witchcraft.

    Bearing this in mind, why would followers, or Thomists, be so indebted to his line of thinking regarding our origins. I would discard thoughts coming from the source of so much that is wrong and harmful to human beings and start afresh, using a source that’s more in keeping with our modern sensibilities.



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  • I aggree that the basic problem is the infinite numbers of possible futures. But it only is a problem because we can imagine them. If there is no such imagination – the function of the brain to create them hypotheically – than there is no problem at all. Jellyfish living without a brain don’t have the problem of imagining the infinite numbers of possible futures although they do exist for them too. We create infinity in this context with our brains – and with it the regress.
    The problem that science cannot explain why there a natural laws in the first place only came up until we found out that there are “invisible” but steady forces that cause regularities in nature, that we can observe. I would break this down to the question why is there something at all. But the idea of intelligent design does not solve this problem in any way. It only puts it one step back by introducing this mythical creator that from my point of view requires the same explanation. If thins cannot come from themselves (and the universe is not eternal but had a beginning like it is observable), why should ther be a creator outside this rule? Only to satisfy our problem with endless questioning. An easy solution but for me not satisfying at all. One advantage of the scientific worldview is the fact, that it includes the possibility to admit that there is no answer to a question yet and maybe nerver will be one. But we keep working on it …



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  • ajw Sep 11, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    One New York cabbie I think said something like “it doesn’t explain why there are laws of Nature in the first place”. Cut to eminent physicist Sir Roger Penrose who agreed; science can explain why things happen as they do, using the laws of Nature/physics/biology – but it can’t explain why those laws should be there as an explanation.

    Do “Why?” questions which do not translate to “How?” questions, or the “not yet known”, even exist in meanful form?



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  • To avoid this we created entities that are a kind of answer to this dilemma. Gods by definition are omnipotent and therefor don’t have the problem to be trapped in an infinite regress (as long as you believe in them!).

    I’ve argued previously in these forums that there is an evolutionary advantage for homo sapiens to believe in god. More specifically, the best survival advantage for a tribe of homo sapiens is around 10% leaders and 90% unthinking easily led followers. The leaders / Shaman create the strategy, and with minimal persuasion and unite the followers to achieve the task. Inventing a god that promises eternal life in paradise is a great sales pitch. The ultimate Nigerian scam. The tribe that maximizes this potential passes on its genes. The religious. The tribe of rational individuals get killed off, and looses their women, property and lands. The genes of the unthinking followers get passed on. The genes of the denizens of this forum would not. So over time, I would argue that we have a evolutionary predisposition to believe in god.

    A very current example is ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Blind highly motivated religious followers will beat the Iraqi army through their sheer will and motivation. (but then again, I could have beaten the Iraqi army but I digress)

    I suspect the creation of gods in man’s image has multiple causes over history. Joe Wolsing makes a find case. But like a lot of things in life, there won’t be one simple cause, but a combination of factors coming together. God provides explanation. Or he did until science came along. God provides comfort and solace during loss. God provides motivation to the warriors. God provides an invisible police force on everyone’s shoulder. Law and order. It’s easy to see how pre=scientific homo sapiens on every continent on the planet, created their own person gods that all supplied the above. These gods were all created simultaneously as each tribe spread over the globe. So there must be something in our evolutionary make up than provides a survival advantage to do this god creation stuff.

    I just wish we could get over it, but sadly evolution is a slow, slow process.



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  • RE: Pareidolia
    Please humor a long winded comment.
    I am not familiar with the experimental designs of pattern recognition studies. Please design objective, experiments to quantitatively measure and study the cognitive ability of human subjects to recognize patterns and non patterns compared to a control group of human subjects in a way to obtain replicable, verifiable, testable, falsifiable, results. Test for both positive and negative results. Do the same to test how patterns or non patterns imbue emotions to human subjects compared to a control group of human subjects.
    What other phenomena or logic do conscious or subconscious human minds consider when attempting to understand, describe, and explain what we perceive to be ourselves, our reality, our consciousness, our self awareness, and the universe surrounding us? Natural selection with adaptive change and other natural science principles provide models to explain us and the universe around us. Ancient philosophy, religions, myths, and more recent natural philosophy offer different
    models, explanations, and descriptions without current and recent information, facts, knowledge, and understanding.

    Why do people believe what they do about us and our universe?
    If people are indoctrinated by authority figures and institutions including parents, family, church, school, and other organizations with religious views since they were infants. And if those people are not familiar or knowledgeable, or literate with modern evolution and natural science explanations or any other models to explain us and our universe. Then do not be surprised that they either go along with, be sociable with, agree with, cooperate with or adopt a religious or other explanation instead of a modern scientific explanation for us and our universe. Perhaps they cannot imagine a better explanation for such phenomena. Perhaps
    They want to be sociable and liked by other people.
    Why do people believe what they do about us and our universe?



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  • RE: God of the Gaps & why did I mention the Dover ID trial?

    Today, biological and other natural science libraries & journals contain considerable testable and verifiable knowledge about our universe and ourselves, compared to what was available to the ancient Greek philosophers, and ancient religious leaders and faith believers.
    Behe (the ID Biologist in the Dover ID trial) and other Intelligent Designers attempt to find one or a few areas in biology that are not well understood or explained. If anything is not well understood or if science does not completely or adequately describe all of the details, mechanisms, and the what, why, how, where, and who of every gradual change that evolved into a present day biological organism. They logically fallaciously jump to the conclusion that since science cannot explain everything about everything then therefore god is the explanation. Then our world and existence must have come from something metaphysical transcending our space time universe that created our universe and us. After which time science laws, matter, energy, & other phenomena are observed or are intelligible by humans.
    I believe it is reasonable to compare the great number of well studied
    phenomena and evidence supporting evolution and natural science of
    our natural universe to the examples that are not well understood. In my
    opinion there are more good reasons and observations to believe the natural science view of us and our universe than there is to believe that god explains everything that mankind does not understand or perceive.



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  • .Vince.
    Why do people believe what they do about us and our universe?

    To put it simply, people usually believe what they’ve been taught. When they’re presented with an alternative view they’ll often fight to the death ( figuratively speaking) to defend their original position. Look at alternative methods of teaching various subjects; it’s very difficult for the general public to adopt different practices as being superior, clinging to their old ways as if their life depended on it. Even when hard evidence is supplied to show the ‘new’ method is better, people usually take a lot of convincing. Not all people…but a goodly sample.



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  • Vince Sep 15, 2014 at 1:30 am

    RE: God of the Gaps & why did I mention the Dover ID trial?

    You have offered a very clear and concise explanation of why you presented this issue and of the issues themselves.

    You are fairly new to this forum, so may not know that many here have made these points in much earlier discussions.

    That is why some are asking why you have raised them, but nevertheless it is worth repeating them in this context.



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  • Alan4discussion Sep 14, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Do “Why?” questions which do not translate to “How?” questions, or the “not yet known”, even exist in meanful form?

    From a scientific perspective, maybe not. But I feel positivism, in its various incarnations, has always been doomed to flounder. Science takes various presuppositions, including that there are ‘laws of Nature’. Since these are presuppositions, science cannot provide explanations for them without question-begging. To say further that they are meaningless questions was taken up by the logical positivists, inspired by Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Wittgenstein came to realise late in the 1920s, partly because of the failure of the Truth Tables in some respects, that logical positivism could not work. There is no logic “out there”, which imbibes meaning into language. Language, and with it “meaningfulness”, is better described as a game. We make the rules up as we go along, just like with football; and Wittgenstein included maths in that – pace the Neo-Platonists.

    Where scientists (but not Science) often fall over is with that phrase “not yet known”.

    It is fair enough to say we “don’t yet know” what the quaquaquintozillionth (neo-logism def=very, very, big – bigger even than whatever you were just thinking of) decimal expansion of Pi is. But this is a reasonable enough use of “not yet known”, because we do know how to calculate this. We just don’t have the practical means to do so – yet.
    A scientist in 1860 could say, “we know there will be a solar eclipse in 1917”. And also “we know what the parallax of the stars will be surrounding that eclipse”. Of course they would have been wrong in the latter respect, but they were right to say this, because they had, what they thought were the means to calculate this.
    A scientist in 1890 might have said “it is not yet known why the Michelson-Morley experiment gave the results it did”. This is distinct from 1 & 2 because ‘1890 scientist’ had no idea how it might be done. For him it would have been a matter of blind faith, no different in this respect from anyone saying, it happens because the big beardy bloke makes it that way.

    It’s worth noting that Einstein did not discover that the speed of light is constant for all observers. He created this as an hypothesis. If it was a discovery, then we have to rethink Popper’s work.

    This blind faith in “not yet known” is often misused, generally by positivists who think science has the answer to all questions (or if it doesn’t then they are meaningless). Benjamin Libet’s failure to ‘discover’ if free will is an illusion is a good example. Libet created a garbled definition of “free will” to fit the science – consequently the experiment he devised was nonsense. [M. R. Bennett, P. M. S. Hacker – “Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience”; Josef Seifert – “Can neurological evidence refute free will?”; etc]

    Volition is presupposed by Science; it is an essential part of the creative work achieved by Einstein and others. If it is to be made an object of scientific discovery, then scientists need to tread very carefully in saying what it is they think they know.

    There are meaningful “Why?” questions which do not translate to “How?” questions; but they do not fall within the realm of scientific discovery.



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  • ajw Sep 23, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Alan4discussion Sep 14, 2014 at 7:32 pm.
    Do “Why?” questions which do not translate to “How?” questions, or the “not yet known”, even exist in meaningful form?

    From a scientific perspective, maybe not. But I feel positivism, in its various incarnations, has always been doomed to flounder.

    The universe does not run on “feelings”. It has observable properties.

    Science takes various presuppositions, including that there are ‘laws of Nature’. Since these are presuppositions, science cannot provide explanations for them without question-begging.

    They are not “presuppositions”! They are underlying properties about which scientific research has provided the most accurate information we have.

    To say further that they are meaningless questions was taken up by the logical positivists, inspired by Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Wittgenstein came to realise late in the 1920s, partly because of the failure of the Truth Tables in some respects, that logical positivism could not work.

    The confused rambling of philosophers has no effect whatever on the physics of the universe.

    There is no logic “out there”, which imbibes meaning into language.

    This is simply wrong in terms of scientific and mathematical language. Scientific evidence based logic provides observable technological working systems in the real world which provide proof that the logic works.

    Language, and with it “meaningfulness”, is better described as a game.

    This true of the semantic ramblings of would-be philosophers, but it is completely wrong in regard to science, technology and maths.

    We make the rules up as we go along, just like with football;

    Which is why science has precise definitions and international rules of nomenclature to maintain consistency and avoid misunderstandings.

    Where scientists (but not Science) often fall over is with that phrase “not yet known”.

    Gaps in scientific knowledge in no way invalidate what is known and evidenced to high levels of probability. Nor is identifying the limitations of current research, any justification for alternative claims for which there is no evidence whatsoever!

    It’s worth noting that Einstein did not discover that the speed of light is constant for all observers. He created this as an hypothesis. If it was a discovery, then we have to rethink Popper’s work.

    No we don’t! Popper’s work is consistent with scientific methodology. To suggest otherwise simply demonstrates an ignorance of Popper and science!

    This blind faith in “not yet known” is often misused,

    Most commonly by faithist gapologists trying to project their blind faith in an utter absence of evidence for their beliefs on to science.

    generally by positivists who think science has the answer to all questions

    This is simply a nonsensical strawman claim as “a negative proof fallacy” smoke screen, in which to hide unevidenced gods-of-gaps.

    No scientists “think science has all the answers”!
    What would be the point of scientific research if “science had all the answers”???



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  • Alan4discussion Sep 23, 2014 at 5:39 am

    They are not “presuppositions”! They are underlying properties […]

    You seem not to have grasped Popper’s argument, nor mine.

    Yes, laws of Nature are indeed underlying properties. That there are such laws is presupposed by Science. I think partly you’re misreading me as saying “the laws of Nature are presupposed”. I’m not, rather – “that there are laws of Nature is one of the various presuppositions Science takes”

    Scientific research does not provide the most accurate information we have about these underlying properties. It provides hypotheses as to what they might be. These are just guesses – as Popper put it – hardly accurate information.

    The only accurate information Science gives about the underlying properties, the laws of Nature, is when a theory is falsified. Then we know that if there are underlying properties, then this theory e.g. Newtonian, ain’t one of ’em.

    Conversely the best it gives us is that this theory e.g. Einstein’s, might be an underlying property. And that’s a guess, not accurate information.

    This is basic Popper; I’m sorry but you don’t seem to be acquainted with it.

    Scientific evidence based logic provides observable technological working systems in the real world which provide proof that the logic works.

    So logic provides proof that logic works? Question begging methinks.

    Logic is not scientific evidence based. Scientific evidence comes from experiments. To take a basic formulation of logic, the syllogism.

    Socrates is a man.
    All men are mortal.
    Socrates is mortal

    This formulation might, or might not be, sound. To a degree we can garner scientific evidence to determine if each proposition is sound. Is Socrates a man? Well we can do experiments to find that out. Are all men mortal? Well, all we can do here is check if, so far, all men have been mortal, and conjecture that will continue. But that becomes conjecture, not scientific evidence.

    Then the formulation might, or might not be, valid. This has nothing to do with experiments. Its validity has nothing to do with scientific evidence.

    The confused rambling of philosophers has no effect whatever on the physics of the universe.

    I mentioned the Vienna Circle because your argument seems to be logical positivism through and through. I have no objection to this being called “confused rambling”, and if you consider yourself part of their class of “confused ramblings”, that’s up to you.

    but it is completely wrong in regard to science, technology and maths.

    Ok. Would you care to give some justification to your argument, or are we just to take it that you know this stuff, and we should all just jolly well listen up to your diktat.

    [ajw] – We make the rules up as we go along, just like with football;

    Which is why science has precise definitions and international rules of nomenclature to maintain consistency and avoid misunderstandings.

    It may have escaped your notice, but so has football. We make football up as we go along. And why do you think there is this need for precise definitions? For the same reason we have dictionaries etc. full of precise definitions and international rules of nomenclature. We make language up as we go along. We don’t discover it other than in the sense we learn to speak a language that others speak. A language which over the years has been created through its use within a community.

    Gaps in scientific knowledge in no way invalidate what is known

    Indeed.

    and evidenced to high levels of probability.

    Please study Popper a little more. Scientific evidence does not increase levels of probability. Popper made a big point of this, as did Hume from whom Popper took his lead.

    Popper’s work is consistent with scientific methodology.

    Yes, indeed it is! And neither Popper’s work nor scientific methodology is consistent with the notion that Einstein discovered that the speed of light is constant for all observers. Einstein posited; assumed as a fact; guessed that it might be the case that; the speed of light is constant for all observers. Not “discovered”. It is possible (not highly probable as you would have it) that Einstein is right, and it will remain a possibility until (and if) it is falsified. People might think it is highly probable, but it may still be wrong. That’s what happened with Newton’s ideas; in fact people thought they were more than highly probable.

    generally by positivists who think science has the answer to all questions

    This is simply a nonsensical strawman claim as “a negative proof fallacy” smoke screen, in which to hide unevidenced gods-of-gaps.

    Who’s talking about gods here? Not me. Neither am I using negative proof against Science. I’m talking about your positivist perspective and the fact that it was abandoned as a fallacious argument decades ago.

    No scientists “think science has all the answers”!
    What would be the point of scientific research if “science had all the answers”???

    The point of doing scientific research is that science might have the answer – even before we’ve postulated or discovered what it might be/what it is. However the positivist attitude is that only questions that can be answered scientifically are meaningful. Reading your original quote, that seems to be your position; that questions that can not be answered scientifically are meaningless; they are not really questions; it is nonsense to say they have answers; i.e from reading your quotes as taking a positivist approach it’s fair to conclude that you “think science has all the answers”. Though whether or not you are a scientist I don’t know.



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  • ajw Sep 24, 2014 at 5:16 am

    However the positivist attitude is that only questions that can be answered scientifically are meaningful. Reading your original quote, that seems to be your position; that questions that can not be answered scientifically are meaningless; they are not really questions; it is nonsense to say they have answers;

    Do you have some alternative working methodology you can explain, in terms other than supernatural woo, or simple unsupported assertions, which provide accurate information about the real underlying properties of the universe?

    All the explanations put to me in the past as “beyond science”, have been “god-did-it-by-magic” gapology! – Usually wrapped up in rambling obfuscating verbosity.

    Popper’s work is consistent with scientific methodology.

    Yes, indeed it is! And neither Popper’s work nor scientific methodology is consistent with the notion that Einstein discovered that the speed of light is constant for all observers.

    Of course it is! Einstein’s work has been subsequently tested using Popper falsifiability, and relativity is objectively demonstrated to work accurately in the operation of GPS satellites.

    Einstein posited; assumed as a fact; guessed that it might be the case that;

    No he didn’t! He proposed a scientific theory, which was later tested.

    the speed of light is constant for all observers. Not “discovered”. It is possible (not highly probable as you would have it) that Einstein is right, and it will remain a possibility until (and if) it is falsified. People might think it is highly probable, but it may still be wrong. That’s what happened with Newton’s ideas; in fact people thought they were more than highly probable.

    Newtons Laws are 99.99999% accurate for subsonic objects on Earth! They are the basis for most engineering work on Earth! As I said earlier, you seem confused about Popper and scientific methodology!
    Because science does not know everything, that does not mean it has not mapped its understandings very closely to the underlying reality in many instances – with probabilities indicated by the terminology – Law, Theory, Hypothesis, speculation etc.



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  • Alan4discussion Sep 24, 2014 at 5:51 am

    Do you have some alternative working methodology […] which provide accurate information about the real underlying properties of the universe?

    Alternative to which? Positivism, or Science? The former is fallacious, and the latter does not “provide accurate information about the real underlying properties of the universe”. It provides hypotheses, guesses, as to the real underlying properties of the universe. This is the essence of Popper’s work. He derived it in turn from Hume.

    Science provides accurate information about physical phenomena, what is observed to exist or happen, not about underlying reality. It uses hypotheses as to what the underlying reality might be, from which it can be deduced what will happen if xyz. If it turns out that predicted physical phenomena does not occur then, ceteris paribus, the hypothesis is wrong. If it does happen, then all we can say is we know what the underlying reality might be. We don’t have accurate information about the underlying reality – the hypotheses may still be totally wrong, though we do have accurate information as to what happened.

    For “accurate information about the real underlying properties of the universe” turn to the Humanities (though “accurate” and “information” are not appropriate terms in that context). Because you won’t get “accurate information […]” from Science. That is not the job of Science.

    Einstein’s work has been subsequently tested […]

    It has not been tested to determine whether it is true that the speed of light is constant for all observers. It can’t be so tested; this is what Popper proposed.

    He [Einstein] proposed a scientific theory which was later tested.

    Exactly – “proposed“; posited; presented as an assumption of fact; presented as a reasonable guess.

    Tested for what? Not tested to see if Einstein truly had discovered that the speed of light is constant for all observers. If you think that you really do need to rethink your understanding of Popper.

    Newtons Laws are 99.99999% accurate […]

    No they are not. Newton’s Laws allow us to make calculations as to what physical phenomena will be observed given xyz conditions; and the results obtained thereby will have a 99.99999% rate of accuracy […]. As far as Science goes, Newton’s Laws in and of themselves do not have a rate of accuracy – to think they do is to misunderstand Popper. Newton’s Laws are false, no matter how accurate are the results obtained from them. Einstein’s Laws, may or may not (i.e. might) be true; but it cannot be determined scientifically if they are, only if they are not. So scientific experimentation is not concerned in establishing this, though of course scientists are confident the results obtained using Einstein’s Laws will be accurate 100%. Whether, and how, it makes sense to say they could be true is a philosophical, not a scientific matter. Logical positivism, which you seem to espouse, was one such attempt, and it failed.

    Unless one understands this distinction between Laws and results obtained using these Laws, one hasn’t understood Popper.

    Because science does not know everything, that does not mean it has not mapped its understandings very closely to the underlying reality in many instances

    To say science is attempting to ‘map its understandings very closely to the underlying reality in many instances’ is to misunderstand Science and to misunderstand Popper; it even misunderstands positivism, because of that “many instances”, though without it, it seems to reflect a positivist outlook.

    Science postulates what the underlying reality might be – not in many instances, but in all instances. What it is attempting to map, is the predictions arrived at using calculations proceeding from the postulations, to the observed physical phenomena resultant from scientific experiments. When the map isn’t achieved scientists question whether the experiment might not have been mistaken – as Michelson-Morley did, or the calculations, as Max Planck did, and then finally the postulations, as Einstein did.



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