Foreward to How to Defend the Christian Faith by Peter Boghossian

Oct 30, 2015

. . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you . . .

—1 Peter 3:15

 

If you’re a Christian, and you read only one book about how to defend your faith, this is that book. It is the one book on apologetics whose guidance, advice, and recommendations will lead you to what is true.

In order to discern truth from falsity, you need a resisting opponent. In the martial arts, for example, if you want to figure out which techniques work and which do not, you will need to try them on someone who does not want them to work—in other words, someone who wants to win the fight. Resisting opponents act as correcting mechanisms, that is, as a way to keep your ideas about reality in check. Getting to the truth requires checking your beliefs mercilessly against reality.

How  to  Defend  the  Christian  Faith  is  the  ultimate  resisting  opponent for the Christian apologist. It is the titleholder in the Ultimate Apologist Championship. Take it down, and you will be the new belt holder. You will know that your ideas about reality actually correspond to reality and you will have arrived at truth.

Like John Loftus, I am a professional atheist. And like many Christians, I want to know what’s true. I do my best to have an open mind and sincerely consider ideas that do not comport with my understanding of reality, even entertaining those ideas that make me feel uncomfortable. If Christians have some truth I don’t know, I want to know what that is so that I can know it too.

Every year I speak about faith, God, and religion to thousands of people around the world. At every one of my events, Christian apologists attempt to publically deefend their Christian faith during the open question-and-answer sessions. After only a few minutes of back-and-forth questions their arguments always unravel—yet their conviction remains.

One lesson I’ve learned from these years of public engagements with Christian apologists is that the arguments they offer for their faith are not the reason they have faith. Arguments for God or for specific propositions within their religious tradition have nothing to do with why they believe. I know this because when I ask apologists, “If you were shown, to your satisfaction, that the argument you presented was untrue, would you still believe?” virtually every apologist, when pressed, replies, “Yes.” (And those who do not respond affirmatively claim it is impossible that their arguments could be untrue.) For Christian defenders of the faith, I have found that convictions masquerade as reasons, arguments do not anchor beliefs, and the public defense of faith-based assertions is among the most noble of virtues. If you’re a Christian reading this you may be different in this respect. You may be willing to follow the truth, no matter where it leads—which is, as Loftus argues, the only way to defend Christianity.

Thus for the Christian apologist reason and argument are charades. So too are the vociferous protestations that the core propositions in their faith tradition (the virgin birth, Christ’s crucifixion, the resurrection, etc.) are true. Truth is a casualty of faith. Dishonesty, insincerity, and self-deception germinate the moment one becomes an apologist. When one becomes convinced they have the truth they stop seeking the truth. As Bertrand Russell wrote, the will to find out is bartered for the wish to believe.

Enter John W. Loftus’ How to Defend the Christian Faith: A pointedly honest, forthright, and sincere way to approach a defense of Christianity. And Loftus, one of the world’s leading atheists, is uniquely qualified for this task. He was groomed by the who’s who of the top echelon of Christian apologists: William Lane Craig, James D. Strauss, Paul Feinberg, Stuart Hackett, Kenneth Kantzer (known as the dean of evangelicalism), Marc F. Greisbach (past President of the American Catholic Philosophical Association), and Ron Feenstra (Director of Doctoral Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary). How to Defend the Christian Faith is a desperately needed lifebuoy that can prevent both would-be and seasoned apologists from drowning in a sea of dangerous nonsense.

How to Defend the Christian Faith explains exactly how this can be accomplished. Such an ambitious task has never been undertaken from the perspective of someone who lacks belief, yet it is vital because so few Christian apologists actually know how to defend their faith to the informed doubter.

And because none of Christianity’s claims can be rationally derived based on the available evidence, persuasive defenders of the faith are necessary to ensure Christianity’s survival. This is because the truths of Christianity cannot be “reasoned to”—they cannot be derived absent messengers. Without apologists and proselytizers, Christianity would not survive a single generation. With How to Defend the Christian Faith, and because Christianity is on the decline in the West, Christians are paradoxically placed in the uncomfortable yet fortunate position of turning to an atheist to shackle them to the value of truth.

Yet Loftus does not whitewash the difficulty for potential apologists. How to  Defend the  Christian  Faith is  not  a  feel-good,  self-congratulatory  book that deceives believers into thinking they can easily persuade others—or themselves—that the hope they have is aligned with reality. Rather, it’s a call to honest self-reflection for lifelong seekers of truth, while providing methods and a roadmap for exactly how to proceed. In a crystal-clear, plainspoken style, he levels with apologists. As a former apologist, he’s done all the work. Loftus knows exactly what’s needed to defend Christianity, and he articulates arguments apologists must answer to achieve their ultimate goal: eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

From apologetical methods, to mechanisms for evaluating and adjudicating claims in the Christian faith tradition, to exploring what an unshakeable commitment to truth looks like, How to Defend the Christian Faith takes readers on the ultimate journey into Christianity. Even beyond becoming knowledgeable about how to defend core tenets of the Christian faith, reading and engaging with this book offers a unique opportunity to be honest and to know exactly what it means to argue for Christianity. (And much of what Loftus has to offer, especially as it relates to reason and rationality, is of value not just to Christians but also to atheists and anyone genuinely curious about finding out what’s true.)

How to Defend the Christian Faith is the Omega of literally thousands of years of intellectual history devoted to the defense of Christianity. It is the ultimate corrective mechanism for the Christian faith, and the definitive guide to Christian apologetics and for Christian apologists. You will never have to read another book about how to defend your faith—and, after reading this book, you may never want to.

Peter Boghossian

Portland, Oregon

 

Download the Foreward by Peter here


You can buy How to Defend the Christian Faith here.

 

69 comments on “Foreward to How to Defend the Christian Faith by Peter Boghossian

  • “And like many Christians, I want to know what’s true.”

    That’s quite a stretch. It’s my impression that theists think they already know what’s true, but lack any interest whatsoever in testing their beliefs to confirm or contradict their assumptions

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  • 3
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    It’s a noble effort but I seriously doubt it will move anyone in the “true believers” camp. The whole thing reminds me of a quote by Dr. House: “If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn’t be any religious people”

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  • The book was released this morning. I pre-ordered it yesterday in “Nook” format, and it was on my reader when I woke up this morning. Looks promising… I’ll doubtless soon be defending christianity all over the place!

    Note to Mods: It’s a foreWORD… not a foreWARD. That wacky English language!

    Steve

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  • this is not true. I am a Christian, and I can defend my faith without this book.

    Christianity is based on faith and reason.
    There are truths of faith, that we have to accept, and there are truths of reason, which we can come to through human reason.

    It is possible through reason to give reasons for the existence of God. There are a number of important arguments of this type.

    The truths of faith, such as the resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, etc. are not provable by reason. They are accepted on the basis of faith. We admit there are things of this sort in religion, and many are good. That is, we have to accept some things without knowing or being able to prove it in a scientific way, such as what happens after death. But there is no point getting atheists to believe the truths of faith because they don’t have faith.

    The truths of reason, rational arguments for the existence of God, can be given. I find them convincing, but you may not do.

    However, if anyone has seriously looked at the Ontological argument, the teleological argument, the cosmological argument, the arguments for the existence of God become more powerful.

    Also, in ones personal life, without some spiritual basis and direction, it is meaningless. If the world view of Darwinian materialism is true, then there is no hope, and life is meaningless, and we may as well just kill ourselves. However, if the religious view of the world is true, then life has a meaning and purpose, it is not just accidental.

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  • If the world view of Darwinian materialism is true, then there is no hope, and life is meaningless,
    and we may as well just kill ourselves.

    I do hope you don’t have a wife and children, John. Or friends. How do think they’d feel to learn how little they mean to you?

    The only people whose lives are meaningless are those who refuse to find meaning in anything but their foolish hopes of an afterlife. It does seem ironic that the very people who are so obsessed about living forever should hold the only life they’re actually going to get in such low regard.

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  • John
    Nov 6, 2015 at 11:57 am

    this is not true. I am a Christian, and I can defend my faith without this book.

    But can you credibly defend it in a rational manner which will convince those who are not already fellow believers starting from the same presuppositions? (Buddhists perhaps?)

    Christianity is based on faith and reason.

    Some times it is.

    When it is, it starts with blind faith, and then builds elaborate “castles in the air” which by using reason, are self consistent.

    Other times believers just use assumptions, presuppositions, and fallacies, and try to pretend this is reasoning. The Bible is not a history book and is contradicted not only by itself, but by various historical records and scientific evidence. The N.T. was put together in the 4th century for the purposes of the Roman Empire, from a cherry-picked collection of stories.

    There are truths of faith, that we have to accept,

    No body should have to “accept” truth claims without evidence. This is a flawed method of thinking which accounts for the multitudes of conflicting accounts based on “faith”! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_deities

    and there are truths of reason, which we can come to through human reason.

    . . . But only if they start with objective evidence! No amount of self consistency can give reliable information if it starts from presupposition or fantasy.

    It is possible through reason to give reasons for the existence of God.

    It is possible to give what appear to the believer to be reasons for the existence of their gods, but the evidence of thousands conflicting descriptions of gods exposes the flaws in such claims. There are no “default gods” which can be ASSUMED to exist.
    It is however quite possible to give neuro-psychological evidence for god-delusions and for emotional needs some people have for mental images of gods.

    The truths of faith, such as the resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, etc. are not provable by reason. They are accepted on the basis of faith.

    The assertion that these are “truths” is just a prop for lame arguments, which are not only not supported by evidence, but in many cases are refuted BY historical evidence. There are no contemporary records or artefacts that and actual person by the name of Jesus, existed, let alone records of what he may have done.

    However, if anyone has seriously looked at the Ontological argument, the teleological argument, the cosmological argument, the arguments for the existence of God become more powerful.

    Not really! Science has pretty well demolished the assortment of creation myths, and claims of an egocentric, geocentric, homocentric, universe!
    Humans and earth are almost infinitely small features of the universe.

    Also, in ones personal life, without some spiritual basis and direction, it is meaningless.

    This is just preached nonsense to maintain believers’ dependency on organised religion spoon-feeding them fictitious meanings and purposes.

    If the world view of Darwinian materialism is true, then there is no hope, and life is meaningless, and we may as well just kill ourselves.

    That is what is preached to those unfamiliar with thinking through their own purposes in life, to discourage them from developing such thinking skills.

    However, if the religious view of the world is true, then life has a meaning and purpose,

    This is just preached nonsense to maintain believers’ dependency on organised religion spoon-feeding them fictitious meanings and purposes for the promotion of religions and toadying to local political establishments which are sympathetic to those religions.

    it is not just accidental.

    Processes of evolution are highly selective from random opportunities to change. Successful adaptation leads to survival of individuals and communities, as driven by the laws of nature.
    Some human egos like to kid themselves that they are “above” the laws of nature, but nothing in the universe is!

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  • As I have said, there are different components of religion. Truths of faith cannot be proved by reason, and one shouldn’t try to. ie I accept and am convinced of the doctrine of original sin. But original sin is a truth of faith, not of reason. However, once one considers and understands it, it is hard to disbelieve. Humans are imperfect, fallen creatures, and our reason is corrupted by sin. I dont expect those without faith to accept this, and won’t try to prove it by reason.

    However, there are truths of reason as well. It is possible to know of God’s existence from the Ontological argument, the Teleological argument, and the Cosmological argument.

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  • Those arguments are metaphysics and can only be hypotheses. They can never grow up to be Theories and thus dependable knowledge without corroborated evidence. The problem as Wittgenstein realised is that the signs used for metaphysical elements can never be secure and dependable.

    Popper wasn’t quite so gloomy as W about metaphysics and realised that generative hypotheses depended on metaphysics. But nothing is secured by it, not even Phlogiston.

    The Fall is one of the wickedest of Man’s hypothetical impositions on Man, licensing all manner of unworthy judgements and an abandonning of our innate compassion.

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  • John
    Nov 7, 2015 at 8:57 am

    As I have said, there are different components of religion. Truths of faith cannot be proved by reason, and one shouldn’t try to.

    That leaves them only as asserted “truths”, without any supporting substance, and in conflict with numerous contradictory “truths” held on “faith” by other religions.

    ie I accept and am convinced of the doctrine of original sin. But original sin is a truth of faith, not of reason. However, once one considers and understands it, it is hard to disbelieve.

    Strange claim!
    Those who understand the children’s “Fall”, fairy story that unevolved, magicked into existence Adam, and rib-woman, Eve, listened to a talking snake, committed the “original sin” of eating fruit, so got thrown out of their fairytale garden, – recognise this as fiction.

    Of course science tracks the evolution of humans back to apes, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish, – back to the earliest chordates, and eventually to the single cells of LUCA, So: there as there was no sudden “first generation human” who was radically different from his/her parents. There was no “original sin” except in a fairy-tail, no need for anyone to sacrifice themselves to “redeem” this imaginary sin, and no need for any of the other magical mystery stories created for bronze-age entertainment, or to impress herdsmen with gapologist pseudo-knowledge.

    Humans are imperfect, fallen creatures, and our reason is corrupted by sin. I dont expect those without faith to accept this, and won’t try to prove it by reason.

    It is generally impossible to prove fantasy assertions using reason!
    It is however possible to refute them using reason and science.

    However, there are truths of reason as well.

    Logical reasoning is an inductive and deductive process. It only proves self consistency, – or consistence with the laws of physics, when objective observations are used as starting points.
    The wish-thinking of “faith” only, at best, produces self consistent delusions.

    It is possible to know of God’s existence from the Ontological argument, the Teleological argument, and the Cosmological argument.

    Did you have some particular god in mind?
    There are thousands of gods and conflicting versions of gods, with a huge range of different properties.

    I am sure the god-delusion in a heavily indoctrinated believer’s brain can easily convince other parts of the same brain of the validity of its claims. It can also convince those whose heads contain a cloned indoctrination meme with the same cognitive biases.

    What it cannot do is convince independent rational thinkers who use scientific, mathematical, and historical evidence, that such circular wish-thinking, has any basis in describing material reality or actual events.

    It also usually cannot convince those indoctrinated with equally dogmatic conflicting god-delusions; – hence all the sectarian killings and religious wars throughout history.

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  • There are different criteria for truth depending on what is being considered.
    ie in maths 2+2 equals 4.
    Empirical data needs to be interpreted according to a theory, which has its own biases and blindspots.
    Darwinism is an interpretive theory based on data. There are a number of problems with it, and it is far from proven.

    Truths of faith also have criteria, but they are not the same as in maths or as in empirical science.

    Is everyone indoctrinated apart from atheists? new atheists seem to me much like any blinkered sect which believes it has access to the final truth.

    The Ontological argument and others prove the existence of a God. This is not the Christian religion per se, as Jews and Muslims use the same arguments. Rationalism can prove the existence of God, as a rational necessity.

    God is, after all, being itself (esse). God cannot not exist, by definition.

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  • The meaningless of life without God is also quite obvious;
    http://www.skepticink.com/dangeroustalk/2012/10/11/atheism-has-a-suicide-problem/

    God’s existence is as provable as 2+2 equals four. the great mathematician Godel has proved the existence of God logically.

    http://www.decodedscience.org/modal-logic-proved-godel-right-god-exists/38801

    Godel is central to modern science, a confidante of Einstein, formulated the Incompleteness theorem, and proved the existence of God! This is real science, and i’m afraid you can’t say that someone like Godel is an ignorant or deluded person. He is central to mathematics and logic.

    Thus, theists and Christians should rest assured that the existence of God is proven logically.

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  • John
    Nov 7, 2015 at 9:58 am

    There are different criteria for truth depending on what is being considered.
    ie in maths 2+2 equals 4.

    Mathematics in this sense, can be entirely hypothetical.

    Empirical data needs to be interpreted according to a theory, which has its own biases and blindspots.

    Scientific methodology is a technique to minimise biases and blind spots, with peer-review by experts and repeat testing, providing VERY rigorous criticism of any irrational claims, experimental errors, or flawed procedures.
    It is the most reliable system we have to establish facts and accurate models of physical reality.

    Darwinism is an interpretive theory based on data. There are a number of problems with it, and it is far from proven.

    I don’t know which pseudo-science source you are quoting, but the basics of evolution are the core elements of biology, genetics and palaeontology.

    There are no reputable scientific bodies which dispute the operation of evolution as the core feature of biology.

    Likewise the cosmological and astronomical evolution of the universe, the Solar-System and Earth, are heavily supported by multiply checked objective evidence, from thousands of independent sources.

    Truths of faith also have criteria, but they are not the same as in maths or as in empirical science.

    The use of the word “truths” in faith, is just an assertion without evidenced basis. The statement simply means, “I want to believe that this is true”!

    Is everyone indoctrinated apart from atheists?

    Even some atheists are indoctrinated in political or pseudo-science ideologies.

    new atheists seem to me much like any blinkered sect which believes it has access to the final truth.

    This is just a theist psychological projection from their own indoctrination. The New Atheist view is based on scientific evidence, with rejection of refuted ideas and failed theories.
    It is the very opposite of the beliefs of “faith” (faith – 1. strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faith) which are accepted without evidence and defended in the face of evidenced refutation.

    The Ontological argument and others prove the existence of a God. This is not the Christian religion per se, as Jews and Muslims use the same arguments.

    The three Abrahamic religions and their various cults and sects, share their history in the the Canaanite religions worshipping: Yahweh, Asherah, Baal, Jehova etc, leading to the emergence of monotheism from the Israelites’ previous polytheistic worldview. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/asherah-and-the-asherim-goddess-or-cult-symbol/

    Once we look at details of the historical evolution of these religions, there are substantial differences.
    Differences they have been killing each other over for centuries.

    Rationalism can prove the existence of God, as a rational necessity.

    This claim is regularly asserted by the faithful, but has never been backed up with credible evidence, presented in a reasoned argument.
    The arguments are invariably circular, fallacious, or simply irrational shuffling of semantics.

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  • new atheists seem to me much like any blinkered sect which believes
    it has access to the final truth

    To me, “new” atheists are not new at all; they (we) are only becoming more vocal. And it’s about time, too. For far too long, theists have grown comfortable in the supposition that theirs is the only valid point of view. You have every right to believe what you want (or have been taught) to believe. However, your religious rights end where mine begin.

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  • John
    Nov 7, 2015 at 10:32 am

    >The meaningless of life without God is also quite obvious;

    Scientific views are not formed from cherry-picked anecdotes.

    God’s existence is as provable as 2+2 equals four. the great mathematician Godel has proved the existence of God logically.

    Material existence, cannot be “proven” or “evidenced”, by asserting properties, devising definitions, shuffling semantics, or sticking the name of a mathematician on to hypothetical word-salad as a badge of pseudo-authority.
    Without confirmed objective observations as basic input, the argument has no substance.

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  • Vicky,

    you brought up the issue of ‘rights’. that is a political issue i did not touch. probably we would be on opposite sides, but that is not my issue.

    Godel has proved the existence of God, and i would ask you if you have actually taken the time to go through the proofs and argument. It is not simple, even I did not grasp it all at once. But it absolutely logical and scientific.

    Alan4 says:

    “Material existence, cannot be “proven” or “evidenced”, by asserting properties, devising definitions, shuffling semantics, or sticking the name of a mathematician on to hypothetical word-salad as a badge of pseudo-authority”

    Someone who has made no attempt to look at Godel’s proof and comes out with insults. This is hardly rational behaviour. for a start, the argument does not seek to prove ‘material existence’, because God is not a material being. So you have understood nothing. Numbers also are not material, yet they are real and we have ideas about them.

    If one goes through the proof, patiently, then one cannot be be failed to be convinced, as I was when i read it. It is complex in parts, sure, but it is logical and cannot be refuted.

    God exists is a rational belief.
    It may not be one you have, but you have no right to deny that belief in God is irrational.

    Another powerful argument is the Kalam Cosmological argument, to which i’ve never really seen adequate replies from atheists.

    (1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
    (2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
    Therefore:
    (3) The universe has a cause of its existence.
    (4) If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
    Therefore:
    (5) God exists.

    simple, elegant and true. Irrefutable in my mind. God is the cause of itself, the uncaused cause, the first principle. Far more solid, simple, elegant and scientific than anything to be found in Darwinism.

    anyone with a logical mind should be able to follow these proofs. They may not agree with them, but they cannot deny their rationality.

    There are many other good arguments for God, such as the teleological argument. but the Ontological and Cosmological argument have received a fair amount of attention in philosophy in the 20th century. I accept Intelligent Design, but I would distinguish it from creationism.

    God exists, he is the first cause, and has designed the universe. We can know thus from reason and irrefutable logic.

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  • John
    Nov 7, 2015 at 12:00 pm
    Alan4 says:

    “Material existence, cannot be “proven” or “evidenced”, by asserting properties, devising definitions, shuffling semantics, or sticking the name of a mathematician on to hypothetical word-salad as a badge of pseudo-authority”

    Someone who has made no attempt to look at Godel’s proof and comes out with insults.

    If identifying fallacious arguments is insulting, feel free to feel insulted when you come to a site promoting science and reason! The “insulted card”, is usually the last play of the irrational who cannot put together a reasoned case.

    I have seen these pseudo-arguments trotted out by those who have blindly copied and believed them, many times before.
    On this site we actually DO LOGIC, rather than pretending that some nonsense we have copied IS logic!

    This is hardly rational behaviour. for a start,

    Pontificating as a pseudo-expert on rationality is a well known ploy of the irrational, as a substitute for DEMONSTRATING rationality in their arguments!

    the argument does not seek to prove ‘material existence’, because God is not a material being.

    In the physical universe, all matter, energy, and forces, are “material”. Being “not material” equates with “not existing”! -ie. being of no substance, interacting with no substances, and having no effect on anything in the universe.
    Many theist claims involve gods doing something in, and affecting, the material universe.

    I know gods are not “material things” they are delusions in the brains of believers. These delusions come in conflicting multiple forms, according to the culture and indoctrination of the believer, but they have one thing in common. They convince their host brains that they are THE exclusive default god!

    So you have understood nothing. Numbers also are not material, yet they are real

    No! Numbers are not “real” in themselves. They are only properties of, and ratios in, the material universe.

    2 + 2 =4 is meaningless and hypothetical without matter to describe!

    2 bricks + 2 bricks = 4 bricks.

    2 fanciful ideas + 2 fanciful ideas = 4 fanciful ideas, but 4 fanciful ideas have no substance in themselves, and only exist as illusions in someone’s brain!

    and we have ideas about them.

    Ideas can be matched to the physical universe by objective scientific testing and so describe actual physical properties, or they can be pure whimsy in someone’s brain.
    In the latter case they do not exist, apart from in the form of biochemical reactions in the electric circuitry in the imaginings of that brain!

    God exists, he is the first cause, and has designed the universe. We can know thus from reason and irrefutable logic.

    Or:- as known in rational company: the fallacy of infinite regression of causes http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Infinite_regress – Who designed/evolved the designer of the designer of the designer of the designer? – Turtles all the way down!

    We can know thus from reason and irrefutable logic.

    Nope! It can only be a “known” assumption by irrational preconception erroneously asserted to be “irrefutable logic.”!

    I accept Intelligent Design, but I would distinguish it from creationism.

    Like the description in the OP, about the need to misrepresent bronze age myth as modern science, Intelligent Design is just creationism repackaged as pseudo-science to hide its theistic origins.

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  • John, would you like some dressing with your word salad? Perhaps ironically my favorite is Goddess dressing. So basically when separating the wheat from the chaff of your latest miasma of contradictions, here is what I’m left with:

    There are different criteria for truths:

    Observed (empirical) data require theories (so far so good), while “truths of faith”, whatever that means, require, well, nothing. Except faith. Which of course requires nothing. So you’re forever trapped in an illogical circle of your own ignorance. Ah, I feel better now that I’ve cleared that up.

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  • John
    Nov 7, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    If one goes through the proof, patiently, then one cannot be be failed to be convinced, as I was when i read it. It is complex in parts, sure, but it is logical and cannot be refuted.

    Unless you actually understand logical thinking, in which case it is a farce!

    God exists is a rational belief.

    Pure assertion! Rational thinking is a process not an assertion!

    It may not be one you have, but you have no right to deny that belief in God is irrational.

    It is neither rational or irrational! It is simply without an evidenced basis. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence!

    Another powerful argument is the Kalam Cosmological argument, to which i’ve never really seen adequate replies from atheists.

    (1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence. (unproven assertion)

    (2) The universe has a beginning of its existence. (No evidence available before the inflation stage of the big-bang)

    Therefore: (No evidence-based logical conclusion possible)

    (3) The universe has a cause of its existence. (unknown)

    (4) If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God. (crass assumption about the unknown)

    Or with equal credibility – If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is an exploding Klingon warp-drive??????

    Therefore: (illogical claim)

    (5) God exists. (fallacy of the non sequitur)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_%28logic%29

    simple,

    I would have to agree that whoever claimed this was logic, was indeed “simple” minded, err and uneducated!

    elegant and true. Irrefutable in my mind.

    Ah! Another “irrefutable fallacy” demonstrating gross incompetence at logic!

    God is the cause of itself, the uncaused cause, the first principle.

    (1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence. (unproven assertion).

    No problem with self-contradiction I see!

    Everything must have a cause THERFORE god is an uncaused cause!???? Magic!!! (Creationist logic!!!)

    Far more solid, simple, elegant and scientific than anything to be found in Darwinism.

    I take it you have never studied evolution, genetics or biology, and hence are unaware of the hundreds of thousands of detailed scientific studies, describing the evidence of evolution past and present, hence it seems you can only present science-denial and the “god-did-it” gap filler, as a substitute for real knowledge of this subject.

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  • John
    Nov 6, 2015 at 11:57 am

    The truths of faith, such as the resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, etc. are not provable by reason.

    They are also refutable by evidence!

    http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/was-there-really-a-virgin-birth-in-the-bible.aspx
    Was There Really a Virgin Birth in the Bible?
    The more interesting potential virgin birth, though, comes from Matthew’s explanation in Matt 1:22-23. There the text says that the virgin birth of Jesus took place to “fulfill” the prophecy that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.” Matthew is paraphrasing Isa 7:14.

    But he is quoting a mistranslation. The original Hebrew text of Isa 7:14 is not about a virgin. Rather, the Hebrew used to describe the woman in Isa 7:14 is almah, a word that means “young woman.” But then the Septuagint, an early translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, took the Hebrew almah and rendered it as the Greek parthenos, which means “virgin.”

    This inadvertent shift from “young woman” to “virgin” is typical of the Septuagint, and it occurs elsewhere, too. For instance, the Hebrew text of Gen 24:16 describes Rebecca as a “young woman [who was] a virgin” (using na’arah, another Hebrew word for “young woman”). But the Greek in the Septuagint changes that into “a virgin [who was] a virgin.” These errors are not surprising, because the Septuagint translators tended not to focus as closely on individual words as some modern readers might like.

    In most contexts, calling a “young woman” a “virgin” in the days of the Septuagint would be only a minor translation mistake, hardly even noteworthy, because most young women were virgins, and most female virgins were young women. In modern terms, it would be like mixing up “high schooler” and “teenager”—imprecise perhaps, but good enough for most purposes.

    But in one situation, obviously, turning a young woman into a virgin rises to the level of a serious gaffe. And that’s when the young woman is pregnant. This is how the Septuagint, through lack of precision, turned an ordinary birth into a virgin birth.

    And this is the “no” answer to the question about whether the Bible includes a virgin birth. Isa 7:14 is not about a virgin birth except through mistranslation.

    They are accepted on the basis of faith.

    Which goes to show the errors from centuries of lazily accepting and repeating preached and printed stories without checking the historical evidence!

    The “faithful” uncritically accept and defend whatever nonsense they have told by people they see as religious leaders, when even the Christian scholars know they are utterly wrong – and even on what the early bible texts actually said!

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  • 23
    Cairsley says:

    Hello, John.

    Alan4discussion has dealt with the Kalam Cosmological Argument with his usual thoroughness. Let me register my surprise that you should express such confidence in the Ontological Argument to prove the existence of an ultimate being, for the Ontological Argument has been found to prove nothing of the sort. It is true that this famous Argument has received renewed attention during the twentieth century — it is a first-rate brain-teaser for logicians and provides students of philosophy with an important lesson on the difference between logic and fact.

    It would be tedious to run through and critique such a well-known argument here when this task has been done so well and in such an accessible manner on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy website: Ontological Argument, which I trust you will find interesting. Even Anselm’s coreligionists Gaunilo of Marmoutier and Thomas Aquinas found fault with his Ontological Argument but their critiques fell short of refuting it. It was Immanuel Kant who finally refuted the claim that this argument proved anything about reality, when he argued convincingly that existence is not a predicate. It is, then, merely silly to cite the Ontological Argument as a proof of God’s existence.

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  • Let’s look at your reasoning:-

    (1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
    … this sounds like it should be true, but it isn’t necessarily so; it’s an assumption, and your most reasonable assumption, so let’s go with it

    (2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
    … now this may or may not be true; you’re simply assuming it to be true; although out of fashion with the cosmologists these days (RIP Fred Hoyle), a universe that is unbounded in time (no beginning and no end) is still a possibility; however, let’s assume it’s true

    Now given assumptions (1) and (2), (3) logically follows.

    (4) This is where it all falls apart. So our assumptions have led us to deduce there’s a cause. That doesn’t mean the cause is conscious/intelligent. And if it is, it doesn’t mean it’s a god (as opposed to high-tech aliens from another dimension, say). And if it is a god, it doesn’t mean it has anything to do with humanity; and if it does, it still doesn’t mean it’s the God of the Jews/Christians/Muslims.
    None of this follows from your assumptions. It’s just another assumption: that if there is indeed a causation behind the universe’s existence, then it naturally must be your God.

    (5) is just derived from (4), but as (4) is rubbish, so is (5)

    And of course, there’s another hidden assumption in your logic i.e. that the hypothesised God does not have a beginning to its existence and therefore does not need a creator.
    (It’s turtles all the way down…)

    As Bertrand Russell put it:

    “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu’s view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, ‘How about the tortoise?’ the Indian said, ‘Suppose we change the subject.'”

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  • John, you were always going to get a hard time on a site like this by clinging to a god . The ‘everything must have a cause’ idea goes nowhere if only because it raises the obvious question of what ’caused’ God. But there is no need to care, or despair or seek “meaning”.
    The fact is that we have life, and it can be better or worse depending on our own choices. Wealthy or not, busy or not, religious or not, helping the people we meet and live with achieve their positive goals is immensely rewarding. Making our world a better place is a full time occupation, and a thoroughly entertaining and fulfilling one. There is just no need for a god, or an afterlife (perish the thought!) — just make the best of life while you have it!
    Original sin is just a depressing distraction. Throw it off: there is no benefit to anyone in wasting energy apologising and debasing yourself when there are so many positive and creative things to do.

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  • It was Immanuel Kant who finally refuted the claim…

    Where were you when I needed you, Cairsley?

    That’s right, though. No proof of God is possible. However, that is the point of departure for faith. I am not necessarily a man of faith, but if I were I would not look for such a proof.

    A different perspective (which you must not assume is my own) – just to liven things up a bit. The two selected quotes are from The Concept of Anxiety. The author is Soren Kierkegaard, the most remarkable writer that ever existed. (Uh, John, you might like this. You don’t need “proof.” )

    “If a person does not first make clear to himself the meaning of “self,” it is of no use to say of sin that it is selfishness. Only when the concept of the particular is given can there be any talk of selfishness, however, no science can say what the self is without stating it quite generally. And this is the wonder of life, that each man who is mindful of himself knows what no science knows, since he knows who he himself is, and this is the profundity of the Greek saying know yourself, which too long has been understood in the German way as pure self-consciousness[…]”

    “There is only one proof of spirit and that is the spirit’s proof within oneself. Whoever demands something else may get proofs in superabundance, but he is already characterized as spiritless.”

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  • Steven007
    Nov 7, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    faith

    Steve!! It’s been a while. Hi. Glad those nodes were from the cat. Remember me?
    I would add, John (if you’re reading), that we are all free (in most instances) to develop or acquire our own moral or ethical philosophical conception of life and existence, believe in sin and redemption through Christ and follow his teachings. You need to keep in mind, however, that faith is precisely that. If it were anything rational or provable it wouldn’t be faith. Words are important. Think about the word.
    Steve, back to you. Potassium. How many mg do we need daily. It can’t possibly be 4,700. I’ve been taking supplements. Do you approve?
    Do you think Jesus would have approved of them?
    John, back to you. The fact of the matter is that God can never be proved or disproved. Have faith, but don’t kid yourself. No proof is required or possible (in my ever so humble opinion).

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  • 28
    Cairsley says:

    Where were you when I needed you, Cairsley?

    Hello, Dan. Thanks for the laugh!

    “There is only one proof of spirit and that is the spirit’s proof
    within oneself.”

    Until some ten or fifteen years ago, I would have taken this sentence of Søren Kierkegaard’s as an expression of my own view, for it is a common view among all those who regard consciousness as evidence of an immaterial element in the human constitution. So long as we were ignorant of how the brain works, how else could reasonable people think about consciousness. This understanding of consciousness is obviously the basis for beliefs concerning spiritual beings and the spiritual realm, including God the supreme being. Once we began to learn (through scanning brain activity and experimenting with neuronal stimulation and subjective effects) how the brain works, cognitive science has been able to amass considerable evidence that shows that our consciousness and all the experiences occurring therein are generated by our brains. Although the experiences that Kierkegaard writes about remain very much part of our human lives, we have had to rethink our understanding of what we are as conscious individuals in ourselves and in relation to each other. There is no spiritual realm, there are no spirits, not even a Supreme Spirit. So that sentence from Kierkegaard needs to be rewritten perhaps thus: There is only one proof of consciousness and that is the proof of consciousness within oneself. The neurologist, however, is someone who can tell us what consciousness and subjectivity actually consist of. Discovering that they are generated by the brain does not dispel them from reality — our brains really are such immensely complex networks of networks of neurons that we should each be the conscious subjects that we are — but it does grant us real, evidence-based knowledge of how we humans (and other animals) operate, both objectively and subjectively.

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  • Interesting, but I really don’t think that any of that has much to do with what Kierkegaard was trying to say.
    Eternity, he defined as the absolute distinction between the just and the unjust. In other words, his conception of God and faith was something to be “understood” ultimately in a moral sense.
    He knew that proofs are not possible. He did not regard the Self (in this moral-religious sense) as a conscious entity either.
    Man, he argued, is a synthesis of body and spirit. He offered no proof of the existence of the latter. But that is his point of departure. The uncertainty, the anxiety, if you will, of faith, was for this profound multi-layered thinker (who sought to establish the authentic, “primitive” Christian mode of existence), was inseparable from it (faith) precisely because it is founded on something irrational.
    I said that very poorly and quickly, as it is quite late here in Manhattan.
    As Andre Gide said: do not understand me too quickly. I would say: do not understand Kierkegaard too quickly.
    And yes, there is no evidence to support the existence of the spirit. But what if the spirit is not anything you think it is? What if the spirit is just the Self, the true Self, our “primitive” individuality, something concrete, moving through life in a particular way (renouncing and suffering for the sake of the truth)? These are, again, not my own views. But neurology may not be relevant, perhaps ought not to be appealed to when discussing Kierkegaard’s esoteric conceptions. The spirit (which may actually be nothing) is, if it is anything, not in the brain and knowledge of it cannot be generated from the brain; “the spirit” is immaterial, a non-object, a moral principle or element. (That’s where Kant comes in, but forget him. I myself need a break from the real-ideal question.)
    “Only the individual can become concrete.” That’s another quote (from memory).
    Have you read Truth is Subjectivity? That’s a good one. (Concluding Unscientific Postscript).
    Regards,
    Dan
    P.S. Let me have it, but go easy on me.

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  • P.P.S. I stated that very badly, and I need to brush up on my K., but I just went to my shelf and took out my copy of Either–Or (Part II) hoping to find something to add to or corroborate my poorly and sloppily presented thoughts. I opened at random and found this. Btw, when I said that Kierkegaard’s self is not a conscious entity, I meant that it is not what it knows or is known as that defines it.

    “The two positions touched on here could be regarded as attempts to actualize an ethical life-view. The reason that they do not succeed is that the individual has chosen himself in his isolation or has chosen himself abstractly. To say it in other words, the individual has not chosen himself ethically. He therefore has no connection with actuality, and when that is the case no ethical way of life can be put into practice. But the person who chooses himself ethically chooses himself concretely as this specific individual, and he achieves this concretion because this choice is identical with the repentance, which ratifies the choice.”

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  • @OP – Thus for the Christian apologist reason and argument are charades. So too are the vociferous protestations that the core propositions in their faith tradition (the virgin birth, Christ’s crucifixion, the resurrection, etc.) are true. Truth is a casualty of faith. Dishonesty, insincerity, and self-deception germinate the moment one becomes an apologist.

    Indeed so!
    In numerous debates, the sheer ignorance of basic history, basic science, basic reasoning, and even the history of their own religion, rapidly becomes apparent.

    Repeating ridiculous supernatural claims such as “the virgin birth” – retrospectively concocted by ancient writers to comply with an imagined former “prophecy” – derived from their reading of a mistranslation.
    Numerous fundamentalists express the “strength of their faith”, by denying human reproductive biology, to assert this ancient misconception, – perpetuated by those addicted to “faith-thinking” delusions, despite the access to the historical origins, which could easily be used to correct the error!

    I summed this up in this earlier discussion!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/01/how-can-a-made-up-bible-still-be-gods-word/

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  • John – sorry to say, but your faith-based arguments for there being a god are analogous to trying to convince others that 2+2 = 3. It’s depressing that you can’t see this, but then you’re in good company, since many people in the world desperately still need to BELIEVE in something (but never mind objective evidence)! Can I suggest that your notions of ‘god’ are now old hat, and that you should take a look at a brand new religion – Pastafarianism – for updated enlightenment.

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  • John
    Nov 7, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    After all your comments on logic and reason (This is a site promoting science and reason, where there is considerable expertise in those subjects), I am interested to see if you can produce reasoned responses on the information, history, and links, you have been given by other posters, rather than simply quoting from the irrational confusion, generated by various history, logic, and scientific, illiterates on other websites.

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  • I see that many have already addressed John, but if I could chime in on this point:

    Someone who has made no attempt to look at Godel’s proof and comes out
    with insults. This is hardly rational behaviour. for a start, the
    argument does not seek to prove ‘material existence’, because God is
    not a material being. So you have understood nothing. Numbers also are
    not material, yet they are real and we have ideas about them.

    Godel’s proof of God is entirely based in conjecture, as it postulates an unprovable entity as necessary which is neither rational or scientific. Saying god is not a material being doesn’t prove your position as you have to provide evidence such a complex entity (as he would have to be by necessity of the attributes you’re describing of him) can in fact exist. Math is a man made invention that provides the best model for our current understanding of things, it is not immaterial in the same way your describing an uncaused immaterial creative sentience. And we consequently don’t have to prove math as we would clearly have to prove said uncaused cause. The easiest way to see pure math at work is through our technology; the application of mathematics to calculate and project models that help us in every conceivable way. It is immaterial as it is a concept as opposed to a tangible thing, but it’s application impacts everything we understand. An uncaused cause (or god for the sake of simplicity in this instance) is neither a relevant and usable concept to be applied nor a necessary universal component.

    Most here have dealt with this and numerous other arguments in the past, so rather than rehashing a position that was posited many decades ago that doesn’t hold up try addressing all of the following issues in your positions on an uncaused cause:

    –Demonstrate necessity. Positing a deity as necessary is pointless unless you can demonstrate a need for an unmoved mover, or an uncaused cause. Nothing in the ontological proof provides need, it simply claims a need without demonstrating how said need can even exist.

    –Identify the specific creative force, unmoved mover, etc. Even if you can move past the first point, you can’t claim to know the nature of said creative force. Every civilization in existence has embraced some manner of creation myth and none of them have been proven true. There’s no reason to assume merely because an uncaused cause may exists that it is intelligent, have any plans for the universe or anything that lives in it or any of the myriad assumptions religious positions make.

    –Demonstrate the ability to discern the will of said force. Even allowing for the uncaused cause and somehow identifying its nature, making any attempt to know what it wants is purely hubris. There are millions of Christians that claim to have a personal relationship with their deity and all of them have an entirely different perspective on what that deity intends for them. there are numerous denominations of Christianity that claim to understand what the bible intends for people but not one of them has a shred of evidence to demonstrate anything. literally anyone can make a claim about what a deity wants, which proves absolutely nothing.

    Claiming the universe doesn’t make sense without a creator only demonstrates someone operating with a bias over the issue, not that the creator exists or that you can demonstrate any kind of awareness of its intention. And in the end it proves nothing.

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  • No proof is required or possible

    Hi Dan! You make a good point. IMO, proof would only be a requirement when one’s faith involves others. Was it David who said, “Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes?” As long as one’s theism is a private and personal relationship between one’s deity and oneself, I don’t think there is any harm or foul. Keep it out of our schools, off our currency, and out of our Pledge of Allegiance!

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  • Dan
    Nov 8, 2015 at 1:23 am

    The fact of the matter is that God can never be proved or disproved.

    That depends entirely on the definition, specification, and claimed actions of the god in question.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Lists_of_deities

    Many god claims CAN be refuted by evidence and reasoning. – Particularly where material actions, physical properties, dates, or historical events, are specified and claimed.

    Most of the vague deist-type gods claims, are too vague and imprecisely defined, or negatively defined so as to exclude an actual specification, and thus protect the gapologist claims from objective analysis.
    These god-claims are simply too vague and incoherent to evaluate or refute.

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  • Alan4discussion
    Nov 8, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    That’s all true, Alan. I forgot about that. I was using very broad strokes and was generalizing, and forgot about these claims (with all their ramifications).

    As for that which cannot be disproved (like God, some of their bible stories, etc.) the burden of proof is on them and they need to know that; so they should just leave us all alone, as Hitchens said.

    Moreover, many people of “faith” (and the conservatives are the most dangerous) need to be put in their place. We can demonstrate, and, in a way, actually prove to others – through sheer logic if nothing else– that they have no evidence, don’t you think?

    Yes, Vicki, out of our schools, out of our Pledge of Allegiance . . . As for “in the home” I think you were being tongue-in-cheek; that’s getting a little extreme. We do have certain freedoms here, don’t want to start banning things left and right. First Amendment, for example, the right to protest for rights, freedom of speech, public assembly. It’s abused, yes, but that’s the price we have to pay for maintaining this delicate thing called Democracy – or what’s left of it. Not sure how much is left.

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  • P.P.P.S Immaterial yet concrete; something that does, that relates, but is not quantifiable, not a thing to be measured or tested.
    I don’t know if such a thing (and I am alluding to the sphere of the ethical, the ethical relation of Being) is outside the sphere of neurology or not – but it certainly isn’t anything that can be easily comprehended or dominated, or mastered, by neurology.
    Kierkegaard was wary of science.

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  • P.P.P.PS. (Last one.) I’m all over the place. I wish I had your clarity, Cairsley. I can’t help feeling that I am on to something, however.

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  • I’ve got to make a remark here.

    I am greatly impressed by the patience by the posters here. I wish I had some left to “debate” the existence of god.
    I have the opinion that facts and logic has nothing to do with religion and neither will sway the opinion of the “faithful’. I look upon it as a “brain failure” as some describe it.
    I cannot reply to John or people like him. My life is growing shorter and I am becoming greedy with it.
    Also I don’t want the internet to run out of letters.

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  • Immaterial yet concrete; something that does, that relates, but is not quantifiable, not a thing to be measured or tested.

    or experienced?

    But if experienced how not tested at least by a man with a clipboard asking you?
    But if not experienced of what import?

    Behaviour-affecting without experience?
    Then how not measured?

    Are you simply trying to hide things from the neurologists evil soul destroting probes?

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  • achromat666
    Nov 8, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Godel’s proof of God is entirely based in conjecture, as it postulates an unprovable entity as necessary which is neither rational or scientific.

    These collections of “proofs of god” on creationist web sites are fed to naive believers.
    The various fallacy collections involved, are marketed as “superior creationist logic”.

    Of course anyone who understands logical thinking will consider that the nonsensical presenting fallacies as “logic” is laughable, but those who are familiar with logical thinking, are not the target audience of the sort of apologists listed in the OP link.

    Their followers then go around presenting and applauding, these “show-stopper logical proofs”, which they have been assured by “creationist authorities”, – “scientists and atheists can’t answer” ! – The followers are totally unaware that they are making utter fools of themselves, – and feel highly offended, when infantile logic-fails, are pointed out to them by educated people!

    It never occurs to those denying science and evolution, that claiming the thousands of hours of skilled work by tens of thousands of highly skilled scientists, which have established the biological and medical sectors of society, is inconclusive rubbish, (just because some bible-bashing ignoramus says so), – is highly offensive to those professionals, – so if anyone is looking for a group who are entitled to feel insulted and take offence, it is the scientists, not the assertive ignoramuses!
    This is yet another example of theist ego-centric psychological projection!

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  • Here are two recent messages you’ll like, Phil, sent to me by Paul, who likes you. He says hi.
    I’m getting it from all sides now. Consider these a gift:

    1) Here is a genuine postulate about the universe from today’s physics (Lisa Randall, who was my classmate at Stuy):

    Our universe is a five-dimensional anti-de Sitter space and the elementary particles except for the graviton are localized on a (3 + 1)-dimensional brane or branes.

    2) google these terms & read first paras only

    Supersymmetry, M-Theory, Field Theory, Boson, Planck’s Constant (which fundament may be IN REALITY a measurement absolute, a real limit) Higg’s Boson, and lastly, if you have the balls, the Axiom of Accountability, which describes the way mathematical reality trumps real reality, in other words, a kind of “space” can be described that is not space in any observable way at all. it is a hyper space domain, subject only to a stipulation that basic topographical mathematical laws hold, within “it.” Hence “space” in the Randall-Sundrum model. Lisa was my classmate. It’s still all about chasing the unified field theory, the Holy Grail.

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  • “What I really need is to become clear in my own mind what I must do, not what I must know–except in so far as a knowing must precede every action. The important thing is to understand what I am destined for, to perceive what the Deity wants me to do; the point is to find the truth which is truth for me, to find that idea for which I am ready to live and die” – Søren Kierkegaard (from Truth is Subjectivity)

    How might a neurologist respond to this, Cairsley?

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  • “What I really need is to become clear in my own mind what I must do…”

    Exactly! This is the first problem we have and the most important. The moral question precedes truth questions. Its is why I declared for atheism to clear the decks utterly so others’ thoughts wouldn’t be thinking me.

    But just as I wanted a level playing field for the ideas to duke it out on, I needed it also level in matters of process. I needed to know about the processes of mind.

    Where do innate behaviours come from? When are they to be fought? Are they to be fought?

    We must know how to act first. This is a Moral Question. Truth is its handservant.

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  • Thanks, Dan.

    When at university studying physics they had a glut of mathematicians in the maths department (they breed like rabbits apparently). So we were given nearly a whole maths ordinary degree course for free. (The English Department got extra logic classes.)

    How I wish I had made more of it now. Maths is the ultimate metaphor. Like reading music and then hearing the sounds as good musicians can, great mathematicians have a positively sensual engagement with those unambiguous signs of theirs.

    But we now have some great tools to visualise these mathematical theories. I use a class of them in my daily work modeling lesser field related problems. You could use them too.

    Brane based theories of cosmology are actively real and I posted a couple of times a link to a long BBC doc on the 5 contending cosmological theories of which brane theory was number two. I’ll try and dig it up again.

    This is fun stuff, but we will fully agree it doesn’t tell us what to do…

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  • 50
    Cairsley says:

    Hello again, Dan. I tried to respond to your comments earlier today, having taken some trouble to make time to do so, but, apparently because I had to leave the computer a couple of times while I was working on my reply, this cheap and nasty website timed the reply out, but did not let me know that until I had finished it and tried to post it. Then, after I had wasted maximum time, the website informed me that I had been timed out, and it deleted my reply at the same time. A decently designed website would have saved the reply as a draft, which could be reopened, completed and posted.

    Kierkegaard was wary of science.

    What is it to you and me that Kierkegaard was wary of science? There has been a sea-change in the common worldview, thanks to the advances in science since Kierkegaard’s time.

    “What I really need is to become clear in my own mind what I must do,
    not what I must know–except in so far as a knowing must precede every
    action. The important thing is to understand what I am destined for,
    to perceive what the Deity wants me to do; the point is to find the
    truth which is truth for me, to find that idea for which I am ready to
    live and die” – Søren Kierkegaard (from Truth is Subjectivity)

    How might a neurologist respond to this, Cairsley?

    A neurologist might not bother, Dan. The main problem would be that the quotation contains too many metaphysical presuppositions. Of course one needs to become clear in one’s own mind what one must do, but one does not need to try “to perceive what the Deity wants me to do” — one might as well howl at the moon. I do wonder, Dan, why you take Kierkegaard so seriously.

    A good way to discover what you ought best to do in life is to do what most interests you, allowing, of course, for circumstances and possibilities. For some people it is necessary to try two or three different things before they find their homebase. It is your life, Dan. You yourself really are free to choose what seems best for you. If that responsibility frightens you — tough! You will just have to get used to it. It is what is commonly called adulthood.

    If the idea of consciousness as something generated by the brain is still one that you find inaccessible, perhaps you may find helpful the book that finally enabled me to get my head around it: Consciousness Explained by the philosopher (not an evil neurologist) Daniel C. Dennett. This book was published in 1991, so it is quite old for books in this field, but I think it is an especially helpful book for nonscientists who want to come to grips with how consciousness can be a product of a physical organ like the brain.

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  • Cairsley
    Nov 9, 2015 at 6:35 am

    but, apparently because I had to leave the computer a couple of times while I was working on my reply, this cheap and nasty website timed the reply out, but did not let me know that until I had finished it and tried to post it. Then, after I had wasted maximum time, the website informed me that I had been timed out, and it deleted my reply at the same time.

    I always highlight and copy posts before clicking on “Post Comment”.

    That way if they disappear they can be re-posted in a new comment box. If they have actually posted but not shown up, a “duplicate comment” warning will appear.

    I hope this helps you avoid the problem!

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  • phil rimmer
    Nov 9, 2015 at 4:42 am

    When at university studying physics they had a glut of mathematicians in the maths department (they breed like rabbits apparently). So we were given nearly a whole maths ordinary degree course for free. (The English Department got extra logic classes.)

    Interesting Phil, – how those who seek a wider view of knowledge, move across subject boundaries.

    When my father did his BSc in chemistry, in his first year, before the workload increased, he also attended the degree course lectures in geology.

    He passed on much of this knowledge when we went for mountain and coastal walks.

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  • 53
    Pinball1970 says:

    I agree Alf one cannot logic god out of thin air and into reality, that argument read like Aquinas 5 ways or something, wrong then wrong now.

    We can read the bible as a historical document and compare it with other known neutral accounts.

    What statements does the bible make? Are there errors? If yes, would a creator really make those errors?

    Why leave it to fallible men to write? Get half of it wrong contradicting history and science?

    Would a creator not make sure that mutually accounts survived?

    Go to great pains to devise all matter, energy, time and the unchanging laws to govern them but then give us the wrong instruction manual with half the pages missing?

    Posters have outlined a few of the errors already.

    If you shoe horn god in via “first cause therefore god,” nonsense you can boot him right out again via that book.

    Anyone who has read it critically and is honest about it, cannot possibly conclude its author was the all knowing creator of our universe.

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  • Hi Dan. Yes, been a while, more so for you (in terms of seeing me here); I see you all over the place now, bravo! I hope you’re enjoying this robust community of thinkers. I visit here nearly every day, excepting weekends. And I see that you’re engaging with many of the regulars and have seemingly become comfortable expressing your views and hopefully being yourself.

    Your piggyback comments to John – who’s likely a troll (as you’ve seen or will see we get them here from time to time and then usually Alan4, Phil, et.al [if you’ll allow me this trace of wit, these guys have the freaking patience of Job!] dust them off and dispatch them with their toxic logic, ha) – were good additions.

    As for K+ (potassium – when I worked in the lab ALL the electrolytes were referred to by their periodic representation: Na+, K+, CL-, etc), yes, 4700 mgs is the general recommendation. Somewhat more can be better (in moderation of course). And some satisfying foods can be used to buttress your higher intake. Foods like almonds and other nuts, and most importantly – chocolate! So eat up, within reason of course. And of course Jesus would approve of almonds and chocolate! And contrary to popular conservative belief, he’d even approve of you sharing some with your neighbor!

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  • Cairsley!

    Of course consciousness is generated by the brain!! Sorry, but it’s frustrating (for everyone I am sure) to be misunderstood. This is no one’s fault; the mode of communication that we are using on this or any site engenders it.
    I was merely asking, by the way, what a neurologist might say (to someone as unique as Kierkegaard) and chose that quote without much thought, almost randomly, was physically exhausted at the time. My point was that (perhaps) the spirit, which you and so many others reject, is more subtle and comprehensive; maybe it (according to K.) is more what we do, or defined that way somehow. Just a thought.
    But consciousness is a function of the animal organism – nothing more and nothing less. (Every Schopenhauerian knows that.)
    I am not a Christian or religious but Kierkegaard had a great many valuable things to say, was a great artist, and a profound psychologist of the human “soul”…er, sorry. That’s why I read him.
    Freud may have solved the problem of consciousness. By the way, history is often retrogressive, and the history of thought might be too. Who knows? Maybe Parmenides knew as much or more than Dennett (who I like) about consciousness, and about other things.

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  • Ah Geology. My latest passion. Well reignited after a trip to the Red and Black Cuillin and having to educate a YEC on the chemistry of hot black smokers at the mid ocean ridges. (It, the education, failed early on but my interest blossomed).

    Dammit I appear to have four or five lifetimes too few. Geology will undoubtedly remain a dabble.

    Which is why there is nothing nicer than a country walk with some knowledgeable someone able to pull delicious plums of of the stuff as if from nowhere and while you are getting exercise.

    Feynman talks with great affection of his walks in the forest with his father.

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  • Dan
    Nov 9, 2015 at 2:00 pm
    I was merely asking, by the way, what a neurologist might say (to someone as unique as Kierkegaard)

    My point was that (perhaps) the spirit, which you and so many others reject, is more subtle and comprehensive; maybe it (according to K.) is more what we do, or defined that way somehow. Just a thought.

    [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm](http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm%5D
    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.
    In addition, the researchers determined that other aspects of spiritual functioning are related to increased activity in the frontal lobe.

    . . . . . .

    “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.”

    But consciousness is a function of the animal organism – nothing more and nothing less.

    But that no more precludes emotional feelings, than the mechanical nature of musical instruments prevents them from making music.

    A piece of music, is in no way devalued because the workings of the instruments’ mechanisms are understood, rather than being believed to be some sort of mysterious magic!

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  • phil rimmer
    Nov 9, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Ah Geology. My latest passion.

    As you know from other threads, over the years, I have widened my views from Earth-bound ecology and geology, to go off planet following new discoveries of new structures in some very distant locations!

    That may have something to do with why I am particularly unimpressed, by “cosmological arguments” copied from people who all to often, don’t know a galaxy from a solar-system, or an evolving accretion disk from “god-did-it-by-magic”!

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  • Patience of Job

    You’d have to eat a thousand bananas a day to get that much potassium. I don’t get it.
    Patience of Job! Steve, I am very surprised that a man of your intelligence believes that Job really existed. Who are you to criticize John?
    Do you believe in Noah and Adam too? (joke)
    Phil and Alan are great guys. Olgun too. And you seem like a great guy.
    I’m an ignorant schmuck. (joke)
    But Alan was dead wrong about AA. (Allusion to another thread.)

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  • 60
    Cairsley says:

    Alan4discussion Nov 9, 2015 at 6:53 am:

    I always highlight and copy posts before clicking on “Post Comment”.

    Thanks for the tip, Alan. I appreciate it now that I know the danger.

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  • You’d have to eat a thousand bananas a day to get that much potassium.

    Yep. Bananas are as overrated for K+ as citrus is for vit C.

    As for Job, Job certainly exists. As a character in a book. Sherlock Holmes and Bond, James Bond (007 allusion, though that actually has nothing to do with my moniker) exist as well in the same way. As for criticism, while I assume (always a dangerous thing) that you jest, let’s just say that I am far gentler than some others. Plus, I was simply calling a spade a spade with my minor dressing down of John’s illogic. Trust me, if I’m out of line the mods will let me know. Yes, the crew here is worth taking the time to read (as are you, now part of the crew). And yes, I also read the entire AA thread as well as Alan’s legacy links, which I trust you also took the time to read.

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  • Of course I was kidding about criticism. Are you kidding? Email and posted comments are often tone deaf.
    No, I did not read the links. I glanced at them.
    I have been in AA for 20 years, and it is NOT NOT NOT NOT a religious program, period.
    I will try not to ever participate in a discussion thread on that issue ever again. (Blood pressure.)
    You read all my comments on AA? I take it you weren’t impressed either. Otherwise you wouldn’t have suggested I check out the links. Those comments are written by people who are not in the program. This is a reason site. It is not reasonable to criticize AA unless you are in it. That’s that.
    (I have very strong feelings about this. In fact I need to lie down right now.)
    Talk to you soon, Steve. Be well.

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  • Yes, chat soon Dan, but the reason I alluded to the links was because there were a few other well spoken, like minded individuals with your exact stance on AA. I think Alan himself may have also alluded to this when he provided the links. Not having a dog in that fight, I am agnostic (ha) when it comes to the subject; I have no reason to quarrel with you on your stance. And I applaud your continued sobriety.

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  • So the mathematician Godel proved the existence of God eh ? I thought Aquinas had already done that many centuries ago ? How many believers actually read these spurious “proofs” of the existence of their particular diety ? Not many IMO. They bloody well believe, not because of some abstract philosophical “proof”, but because they have this stuff thrust into them from an early age. And yet John has the gall to accuse the posters here of not reading Godel’s proof of God. Well bollocks to Godel’s “proof” of God. I have better things to do. Let God show himself to us all, instead of hiding in abstruse philosophical ramblings.

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  • Mr DArcy
    Nov 10, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    And yet John has the gall to accuse the posters here of not reading Godel’s proof of God.

    It only takes a matter of seconds to recognise philosophical “castles in the air” which have no connection with reality! – Although it might take a little skill at lateral thinking, rather than being brain-boggled in tangled complexity!

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  • An observation from one for whom philosophy is way above my pay grade. It goes straight through to the keeper with me. (Cricket expression) But in wandering through this thread and looking up things like Goddel’s proof and trying and failing to follow it, I found it had links to other people who claim to have proved god exists. It occurred to me that a lot of energy is put on by the true believers to prove to the world, and to themselves probably, that god is exists. Maybe they have doubts and need to do this stuff. But I didn’t find anyone going to great lengths in a similar vain to provide proof that god doesn’t exist. Seems to me all the heavy lifting is on the side of the proponents.

    My philosophy peaks at Common Sense. (CDF – Common Dog @#$%) At my common sense level, there is no reason for god to exist. His existence breaches Ockham’s Razor (One I think I understand) and thus is superfluous and unnecessary.

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  • Its just as important for them to look for proof of A god as it is for scientists to look for the Higgs boson, say, David. Scientists just won’t waste their time on something they really know isn’t there. Theists are always looking to discredit scientists and jump on the slightest doubt but, not having found a single bit of evidence on a god doesn’t seem to deter them. It REALLY does beggar ‘belief’.

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  • One has to look a the sheer number of existing and past religions to realize there is no one ‘god”.
    When I hear a account of an event and they all differ, I am inclined to throw out all the stories.

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