Public Challenge To Atheists: Present Your Best Evidence For God

"Now wait just a minute, cl – atheists don't believe in God(s), so how could you expect them to present the evidence? Isn't that the believer's job?!?!"

If we're talking burden of proof, yes, it does fall on the positive claimant. The whole point of this challenge is to demonstrate the absurdity of the atheist's request in this regard. Many atheists and unbelieving skeptics are fond of hiding behind what I call "the evidence trope," which comes in several forms but always rests upon the assertion of an evidentiary vacuum as its main supporting claim. "There's simply no evidence for God," so goes the trope, while the peculiarity of the ability to even assert such apparently goes unquestioned.

For every reason Kayla Knight's case cannot constitute acceptable proof of a miracle, humans cannot acceptably prove God(s). In order to demonstrate this point, I invite anybody (not just atheists) to present any hypothetical data point they wish. For the sake of argument, I'll grant all data points as true, no questions asked. That's a pretty generous advantage, if you ask me.

So, especially if you are an atheist, feel free to share the evidence that would convince you that any particular God exists – and I'll do my best to show exactly why it shouldn't.

162 Comments

  1. Yes, I’ve been accused of hiding behind that, but really, I’m not wandering around telling people they shouldn’t believe in God, yet, Christians and other theists usually spend quite a bit of time telling me I should believe in God.
    If you’re asking me what would convince me, I’m not really sure. If I begin to believe in God again I’ll be sure to let you know what convinced me.

  2. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    The problem with presenting evidence for God is that the poor bastard has been defined in such a way as to preclude physical evidence. That leaves you with circumstantial evidence which is open to interpretation.

  3. D says:

    Wait, are you asking me for what would convince me of an undetectable god? Because nothing would, for the same reason I don’t believe in Russell’s teapot or the invisible pink unicorn. Or are you asking me for what would convince me of any god? Because that’s an entirely different question!
    I see myself as like the apostle Thomas. That guy is really my favorite character in the Bible for exactly one reason: this guy hung out with Jesus and saw him do magic, but when his friends came and told him that Jesus had risen, Thomas was all like, “Nuh-uh!” He didn’t believe until he put his fingers through the holes.
    I’m like Thomas – I won’t believe until I can poke my fingers through some holes. God could come down like he did in the garden of Eden and walk with me and talk with me, explaining how he did things. God could also take some direct action towards clearing up all the religious confusion on the planet, and help us move towards a better life on Earth while we’re sitting around down here. God could also be a little more obvious in his worldly workings, or soften people’s hearts as he hardened Pharaoh’s (seriously, why didn’t Exodus start with, “Pharaoh, why persecutest thou me?”).
    Sure, after experiencing miracles firsthand, it would be mighty hard for me to not believe that I had gone crazy. But if the All-Powerful King of the Universe would actually come on down and hang with the gang, we’d be able to develop a real working relationship (as opposed to a pretend, non-working non-relationship, which is what all extant religious institutions appear to have, as far as I can tell). Even some absurd but undeniable world event, such as in Towing Jehovah, would at least convince me that there was once a deity – though sufficiently far-flung future generations would, ironically, be reason-bound to reject it!
    But if God can read my mind, then he knows what it will take for me to be convinced, and he can do that at his leisure. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that I need to see unambiguous evidence that can be repeatedly tested and confirmed. I need to be able to check for God, to assume that God does not exist and then be proven wrong in all sorts of ways. God must permit us to do science upon him directly, or I cannot in good conscience believe in such an entity. As They Might Be Giants put it, “Find out what would happen if you were incorrect; a fact is just a fantasy unless it can be checked.” I need to see the magic, and test it, and be able to confirm that it is magic, and be unable to debunk it, to believe in it. It’s hard work, but I’m pretty sure that God could do it if he wanted to. The prophet Elijah did just one such thing with the prophets of Baal – it was a primitive but nonetheless scientific test to see whose deity was mightier.
    But undetectable God? Screw that guy. If he wants to hide, he’s welcome to it, and I’ll go ahead and buy it. If the King of the Universe decided to try to trick me into thinking he doesn’t exist, then I quit. I mean, how on Earth could I possibly not fall for it? He’s the frickin’ King of the Universe!

  4. John Morales says:

    Public Challenge To Atheists: [1] Present Your Best Evidence For God.
    […]
    So, especially if you are an atheist, [2] feel free to share the evidence that would convince you that any particular God exists – [3] and I’ll do my best to show exactly why it shouldn’t.

    cl, you do realise 1 and 2 are different requests, right? You drew me into reading this with a bait-and-switch.
    Nonetheless, I get your point, so I’ll answer.
    1. My best evidence for God: I cannot definitively exclude the existence of any possible god.
    2. I would be convinced that a particular god (nb. you shouldn’t use a proper noun for a generic entity) exists if I were convinced that that particular god exists.
    3. Please do.

  5. cl says:

    Mike,
    I don’t see how anyone would say that about you, frankly. I definitely would not consider you in that subset of atheists (those who hide behind the evidence trope).
    Dominic,
    That evidence is open to interpretation is the whole point here, but I’ve given you full liberty to define both God and the evidence however you’d like. Hit me with something.
    D,
    First off, thanks for leaving a whole slew of thoughtful comments around here this week. I’m really behind in responding, so don’t think my silence indicates that I’m uninterested.

    I see myself as like the apostle Thomas. That guy is really my favorite character in the Bible for exactly one reason: this guy hung out with Jesus and saw him do magic, but when his friends came and told him that Jesus had risen, Thomas was all like, “Nuh-uh!” He didn’t believe until he put his fingers through the holes. I’m like Thomas – I won’t believe until I can poke my fingers through some holes.

    You know what’s noteworthy about that? Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas. To me, this means Jesus was obviously aware of the extraordinary nature of the resurrection claims.

    if the All-Powerful King of the Universe would actually come on down and hang with the gang, we’d be able to develop a real working relationship

    Although I’d like to take that comment in several different directions (for example, what if there’s a logically plausible reason to explain God’s absence), for now I’d just like to clarify: are you saying that a direct manifestation would prove God’s existence to you?

    ..if God can read my mind, then he knows what it will take for me to be convinced, and he can do that at his leisure.

    Perhaps, but doesn’t this presume such is God’s responsibility? And what if “the convincing” is a matter of attitude, as opposed to deficiency of evidence? Think of how long the evidence for asteroids was right there in front of us, yet we just couldn’t see it. Surely, can’t an analogous situation exist in the God question?

    Ultimately, what it comes down to is that I need to see unambiguous evidence that can be repeatedly tested and confirmed.

    That’s essentially the mantra of every atheist, but evidence remains open to interpretation. All an atheist has to do is shrug their shoulders and say, “That’s not unambiguous.” Then the whole enterprise devolves into a discussion over the meanings of words, and I’m very much done with those types of exchanges. Maybe you can provide a hypothetical example of this “unambiguous evidence that can be repeatedly tested and confirmed,” and how it would prove God?

    ..a fact is just a fantasy unless it can be checked.

    No offense to you or a band you might like, but that’s one of the stupider things I’ve heard lately. Facts remain facts regardless of “checkability.”

    The prophet Elijah did just one such thing with the prophets of Baal – it was a primitive but nonetheless scientific test to see whose deity was mightier.

    I agree. If you don’t mind me asking, in what ways have you tested God thusly? Were you ever a believer? Have you ever prayed?

    If the King of the Universe decided to try to trick me into thinking he doesn’t exist, then I quit.

    I don’t believe that our lack of God’s manifest presence entails God trying to trick us.
    John,
    I’d love to hear an authentic response because I know you’re intelligent and articulate, and that you typically argue with good form, but you’re free to be smarty-pants all you want, too. Unlike some who espouse the principles of freethought and rationalism, I won’t censor that which I dislike. I choose laughter.

  6. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Ok, how about a voice that we all hear, given that we can all compare notes on what it says and confirm that we all hear the same thing. Said voice being the voice of God telling us his will.
    Just a voice, mind you, but one that we all
    can hear. Whether or not you want to listen to said voice is still up to you, but make God’s presence unmistakable in that manner.
    I think that would do it, honestly. Remember Deacon Duncan’s analogy regarding the unmistakable presence of the Sun?
    Now, I realize that according to Christianity, a gulf separates people from God, this world being Satan’s for the time being, but God can still bridge that gulf via revelatory measures. For example, a voice.
    Let him speak to us all, no more reading tea leaves to determine God’s will, and I’ll choose to believe.
    Now, tell me why I shouldn’t…

  7. John Morales says:

    cl, I made a genuine response.
    To amplify:
    For one thing, I can’t think of how I could even in principle distinguish between a true deity and a very powerful non-deity deceiving me.
    For another, any deity that was worthy of the title, and wanted me to believe in it, would certainly achieve that.
    Evidently, that is not the case.
    Consequently, that leaves either a deity that doesn’t choose to have me believe in its existence, or no deity.
    Note that each of those considerations is moot should such deity instill belief.

  8. D says:

    I thought I’d respond to what you said here on here, but I have something more substantial (and hopefully more interesting) that gets back to the OP over at my own sandbox. You can respond however you like, of course; I put it over there ‘cuz it’s long and I wanted to develop it, not to try to take home-court advantage or anything.
    Re: Thomas &c. Though I find the Bible to be largely a mixed bag, I will definitely agree that that is one of its more interesting moments!
    Re: Manifestation. Well, with just one, I’d probably think I had gone crazy. Like, several direct manifestations would probably be a good start. Maybe even a magic code-word I could use, silly as it sounds; it’s something I can check to help be sure I’m not crazy. An epistemological security blanket, if you will. But a plausible reason to explain why God is hidden still leads to a hidden God, in which case I’m just not interested. Or, to phrase it more positively, I’m very interested in any way I can check for God, but that’s about it.
    Re: My Mantra. Of course it’s our mantra! When we can go out into the world and check shit, we can resolve our disputes. “I interpret it this way!” “No, I interpret it this way!” “Gentlemen: devise a damn test and end your incessant table-pounding!” “Very well, let us make testable predictions and then test them to see which prediction is correct!” You stop believing Whatever the Hell You Like and devise a way to let reality be the arbiter of your beliefs, to better prepare yourself for dealing with it. Best. Mantra. Ever. This is the essence of the scientific method, the only reliable way we’ve found to distinguish “tru fax (subject to change upon further evidence)” from bullshit. Experimentation is the only way to avoid being armchair philosophers all our lives (which is why I’m all about action wisdom!). This kind of conversation here is kind of like why I got into blogging in the first place. OK, gushing over.
    Re: Lyrics. Facts are absolutely true or false regardless of checkability. But that’s a matter of philosophy of language that we both agree on; what I was saying is an epistemological point, that fallible mortals such as we must use something to pick between fact and fantasy so that we know we’re being reasonable in our beliefs. Between “there’s an invisible space goblin on the dark side of Pluto,” and, “there’s not an invisible space goblin on the dark side of Pluto,” one is a fact but neither can be checked. So how can you determine whether you’ve got a fact or a fantasy? Well… if you can’t check… then you can’t tell, period. And if you can’t tell… then what on Earth does it matter, and why should I believe that it does? Honest question there, not a rhetorical one: I don’t understand how something completely non-checkable is worth considering at all, let alone endorsing.
    Re: My sordid past… Yeah, I grew up lots of different ways. I’ve done all the stuff you mentioned, among other things. It’s, uh, not a short story, or a simple one. If you really wanna know, I mean, I like to talk about it, I’m just worried about telling you more than you’d like to hear all at once, and it’s really only personal anecdotes anyway. But yeah, I’m all for story time, if you wanna hear about my life. I’d just rather talk about things we can do right now, rather than ask you to take what I’ve done in the past on my say-so.
    Re: Tricksy Goddidits. I’m not so much saying that there even is a deity tricking us, I’m merely pointing out that I’m not going to buy anything on faith. Evar, ha ha! No, seriously, this is what got really long; everything else I’m pretty uninterested in, unless you really wanna talk about it, of course.

  9. CL: “Mike, I don’t see how anyone would say that about you, frankly. I definitely would not consider you in that subset of atheists (those who hide behind the evidence trope).”
    Ahhh, you underestimate the fundies. ;-)

  10. John Morales says:

    cl, I assure you I answered in earnest, not facetiously.
    You’ve got my best evidence, thin gruel though it is. You’ve got my best possible evidence, and though it’s not evident at this time (that of me accepting the concrete existence of a god-entity) and indeed hypothetical, it’s certainly possible, I being as human as every believer.
    Succinctly expressed, only my belief in the proposition would convince me the proposition was convincing – presumably this is achievable by an act of god, but problematically too it’s achievable by a sufficiently powerful entity (cf. Stargate).

  11. cl says:

    cl, I assure you I answered in earnest, not facetiously.

    I know, I believe you, I’m just WAY behind in responding right now, because traffic here has grown in the last month and every commenter is coming with top-notch questions.
    I do intend to respond both to your recent arguments, and also with an explanation of what led me to believe you were just pulling my chain, so if nothing else at least you’ll know what types of things tend to prompt distrust on my behalf. Stay tuned, my friend, and thanks for being persistent.

  12. I like your challenge!
    I’m not an atheist, but I can respond:
    1) It is obvious the universe was created by something eternal, and superpowerful, which we can call “God”. The alternative is that nothing created everything, and therefore nothing makes sense, including the argument that “nothing created everything”.
    2) Then we just have an argument over the attributes of God.

  13. John Morales says:

    nedsfaith:

    [1] It is obvious the universe was created by something eternal, and superpowerful, which we can call “God”. [2] The alternative is that nothing created everything, and [3] therefore nothing makes sense, including the argument that “nothing created everything”.

    1. No, it’s not obvious. It’s contrived.
    2. That’s one alternative, yes.
    3. We suspect the universe makes sense, that’s what science relies on. We merely don’t understand it very well.

    Then we just have an argument over the attributes of God.

    Akin to arguing over the attributes of Megatron. Just don’t pretend it’s real.

  14. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    LOL!

  15. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    1) It’s obvious that the Sun rotates around the Earth, rising in the East, and setting in the West. The alternative is that our perception of reality is completely wrong and nothing makes sense.
    2) Then we just have an argument over the attributes of this ball of light that’s clearly spinning around us.
    Sorry, just had to. Too funny.

  16. cl says:

    John
    Here’s why I didn’t take your first response seriously: FIrst, you hijacked the post’s subtitle which was intended to briefly convey point 2, not function as some sort of alternate claim or point 1 such that would justify the bait-and-switch remark. Second, you said,

    1. My best evidence for God: I cannot definitively exclude the existence of any possible god.
    2. I would be convinced that a particular god (nb. you shouldn’t use a proper noun for a generic entity) exists if I were convinced that that particular
    god exists.

    You and I both know your 1 prompts ULFSM mockery when used by believers; and aside from the pedantry, your 2 is a textbook tautology. Yes, it’s obvious you would be convinced if you were convinced.
    You say that you answered in earnest. Well, alright then. I just don’t see the epistemological strength of simply not being able to exclude something and accepting it on those grounds. That’s what jim and countless other atheists often rant and rave about.

    Succinctly expressed, only my belief in the proposition would convince me the proposition was convincing – presumably this is achievable by an act of god, but problematically too it’s achievable by a sufficiently powerful entity

    Is that what you wanted me to hear in the original tautology? If so, that makes more sense. You say presumably this is achievable by an act of God, and John 6:65 in fact corroborates your statement. How is it you’ve come to agree with the Bible on this point?
    Another question: wouldn’t you also need that “choice to believe” even if you felt something like existence itself constituted evidence for God?

  17. John Morales says:

    I just don’t see the epistemological strength of simply not being able to exclude something and accepting it on those grounds.

    Its strength lies in being open-minded.
    (Note that what I accept is epistemic agnosticism on the proposition, not the proposition per se.)

    Is that what you wanted me to hear in the original tautology? If so, that makes more sense.

    Yes. It’s one of the reasons given to me by believers; I don’t doubt their sincerity.

    You say presumably this is achievable by an act of God, and John 6:65 in fact corroborates your statement. How is it you’ve come to agree with the Bible on this point?

    It’s coincidental, I gave my reasons earlier:
    For one thing, I can’t think of how I could even in principle distinguish between a true deity and a very powerful non-deity deceiving me.
    For another, any deity that was worthy of the title, and wanted me to believe in it, would certainly achieve that.

    You haven’t addressed that.
    You know Clarke’s third law? :)

    Another question: wouldn’t you also need that “choice to believe” even if you felt something like existence itself constituted evidence for God?

    Sure, you need that “choice to believe”, because faith is only required when there’s no other reason to justify belief.
    I just don’t see the epistemological strength of believing in propositions only on the basis of faith.
    I prefer withholding belief until I deem such belief justified.

  18. John Morales says:

    cl, you’re right, I misunderstood you when I wrote you do realise 1 and 2 are different requests, right? You drew me into reading this with a bait-and-switch..
    Colour me obtuse on that one, and sorry for the failed quip. :)
    Consider me mildly embarrassed.

  19. cl says:

    Ned,
    Hey thanks. It’s fun to switch things up in a while, if nothing else.
    As far as your summation of things and the First-Cause argument, I think you did a pretty good job. I’d say the only alternative you left out would be that the universe is the eternal superpower which would make creation a sort of self-sustaining process. Of course, the problems with that seem many, and I think you’re correct (or at least justified) in your belief that a Creator is the simplest explanation between the three options. Nobody really goes for “something from nothing,” so many atheists either argue the universe as its own self-sustaining process (which violates Aristotle’s logic but they don’t seem to mind), or argue a first unmoved mover that is ~God.
    Aside from having a little fun perhaps, I don’t really see that John or Dominic have offered anything substantive against your arguments. I’d be interested in hearing John explain how your response to the argument is contrived, while his apparently is not. The Megatron comment is equally a non-sequitur, as Megatron has nothing to do with which particular response to Aristotle’s argument is “more justifiable.” And while there may be some legitimate wisdom in Dominic’s reminder of the dangers of perception, I really don’t see that his comment makes either “something from nothing” or “self-sustaining cause” or “unconscious first mover” any more appealing than “conscious first mover” or “God.”

  20. John Morales says:

    I’d be interested in hearing John explain how your response to the argument is contrived, while his apparently is not.

    I’ll let NonStampCollector answer that one: The thing that made the things for which there is no known maker.

  21. cl says:

    And that, John, is why I fear we may never be able to carry a decent conversation on to its end: I simply don’t place any value whatsoever on that sort of South Park gibberish. I could never be an atheist probably just on account of the intensity with which I loathe Monty Python alone. If you have some way to actually support your own opinion here, let’s hear it. Like I said, you’re welcome to comment here and that includes teasing any theists that might show up, I just really don’t see what you think mockery contributes to anything besides self-confirmation.
    The basic fact is that unless someone can come up with something philosophers have missed for 2,500 years, we have three options here. Simply insulting someone who chooses a different option than you does nothing other than suggest that you might be a bit insecure in your own position. Or that maybe you just like to insult those over whom you imagine you have the intellectual high ground. Either way it stinks, and that’s what I really have difficulty understanding about so many atheists: on the one hand they decry the arrogance of the Fundamentalist, yet on the other hand said arrogance is a frequently-used tool in many an atheist’s kit.
    Just another piece of evidence pointing towards the similarity in extremes, I suppose.

  22. John Morales says:

    I simply don’t place any value whatsoever on that sort of South Park gibberish.

    It’s gibberish, but that’s because it’s a faithful adumbration of the monotheist position.
    You don’t consider the argument that everything must be caused, therefore reality must be caused by something itself uncaused contrived (indeed, a case of special pleading)?
    It’s unfortunate that you consider pointing that out is insulting, but it’s your problem, not mine.
    If I considered having my arguments accurately paraphrased was insulting, I’d review those arguments… but that’s just me.

  23. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Dominic’s reminder of the dangers of perception, I really don’t see that his comment makes either “something from nothing” or “self-sustaining cause” or “unconscious first mover” any more appealing than “conscious first mover” or “God.”

    It’s simply making light of the fact that Ned’s argument is none other than the Argument From Design(tm) itself. I was greatly amused.

  24. cl says:

    John,
    Of course; it’s always the other person’s problem! You’re John Morales! Your beliefs are so superior and rational there couldn’t possibly be any error within! You’re so smart and you know SO much about language and philosophy and *everything* that it’s just gotta be that us dumb theists aren’t up to your level. Pathetic.
    Trust me, that you think ill of my position is not my problem. I asked you to explain how picking either of the other two options is not contrived. Instead of explaining how Ned’s position is contrived, or how yours is not, you pointed me to some juvenile video that you know essentially mocks the position Ned and I hold. I already know your arrogant and condescending opinions about those who think differently than you; what I wanted was some logical support for your position; not an affirmation of the fact that you think you’ve got the intellectual high ground here.
    Fitting that I’d get none, and here we are back to square one.

    You don’t consider the argument that everything must be caused, therefore reality must be caused by something itself uncaused contrived (indeed, a case of special pleading)?

    No, I don’t.
    Dominic,

    It’s simply making light of the fact that Ned’s argument is none other than the Argument From Design(tm) itself. I was greatly amused.

    Look – I like you, and you bring value to the conversations around here, for sure – but you can say whatever you want; it’s called “making fun of people who don’t share our opinion” and if we’re here to learn, it’s a load of tripe.
    And,
    I think you’ve gotten it wrong: I didn’t see that Ned was making the Argument from Design; I saw that he’d essentially offered two of the three prongs from Aristotle’s (cosmological) argument. And, even if Ned was making the textbook Argument from Design, so what? Some people find it persuading. Can we just say that every instance of such is due to some mental defect?

  25. Hi John,
    “Everything must be caused” is causality. Are you suggesting we abandon the notion of causality?
    The universe is clearly not uncaused. It has a beginning (and all indicators say an end, as well).

  26. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    And, I think you’ve gotten it wrong: I didn’t see that Ned was making the Argument from Design; I saw that he’d essentially offered two of the three prongs from Aristotle’s (cosmological) argument. And, even if Ned was making the textbook Argument from Design, so what? Some people find it persuading. Can we just say that every instance of such is due to some mental defect?

    And looking at Ned’s argument again:

    It is obvious the universe was created by something eternal, and superpowerful, which we can call “God”.

    Argument From Design(tm).
    I wouldn’t call it a mental defect, just an easy way out for explaining things. Similar to saying the sun rotates around the earth because it seems to, and calling it quits. I’d attribute it more to laziness and lack of interest in pursuing the matter than anything else.

  27. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    The universe is clearly not uncaused. It has a beginning (and all indicators say an end, as well).

    Eh, maybe, or maybe not…

  28. cl says:

    That’s not the argument from design. It’s two prongs from the cosmological argument. The argument from design is any offshoot of Paley’s original Watch argument vis-a-vis Natural Theology.

    I wouldn’t call it a mental defect, just an easy way out for explaining things.

    And why is an “easy way out” to be denigrated? In effect, isn’t the preference of the easiest or simplest explanation the grounding principle of Occam’s razor? I don’t know what you can possibly say to that, other than something that begins with, “Yes, but..”

    Similar to saying the sun rotates around the earth because it seems to, and calling it quits.

    Who called anything quits? How can you determine from a single comment of Ned’s that such is what was going to happen? Nobody here is calling anything quits. The only thing I’ve called is BS on flippancy, and I refer mostly to John at the moment.

    I’d attribute it more to laziness and lack of interest in pursuing the matter than anything else.

    How do you know that Ned’s lazy or lacks interest?
    As for me, if I’m going to assume anything, I’ll assume that the other person has thought things through at least as much or more than I have, and that I might be able to learn from them. How can you say or imply from a single comment that because Ned (or anyone else) chooses a different response to the First-Cause (cosmological) argument, that it’s because they’re effectively lazy? Am I lazy, too? Do I suffer from “lack of interest” because I firmly belief a conscious unmoved mover is the simplest of the three explanations?
    Believe me, I share your disdain for overly simplistic explanation, but it’s all too easy to simply dismiss or denigrate someone without hearing their case. Tell us why your conclusion should be preferred. I recall you saying you thought I made a “strong argument” for an unconscious first mover, but I never saw the follow-up to that response. Let’s pick that up and see if anything productive might result, instead of mock one another.
    I mean come on. At least give somebody a chance. After all, you gave me a chance, and I’d say so far it’s worked out pretty well.

  29. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    And why is an “easy way out” to be denigrated? In effect, isn’t the preference of the easiest or simplest explanation the grounding principle of Occam’s razor?

    No, actually. You’ve been jumped on a few times already for this. Occam’s Razor is for cutting out only unnecessary complications, not all of ’em.

    Who called anything quits? How can you determine from a single comment of Ned’s that such is what was going to happen?

    Well, when the single comment in question is:

    It is obvious the universe was created by something eternal, and superpowerful, which we can call “God”.

    So, Ned’s argument is God exists because God…. obviously, exists. He’s being pretty flippant and nonchalant, too.

    I recall you saying you thought I made a “strong argument” for an unconscious first mover, but I never saw the follow-up to that response.

    It was evidence you had provided of a person’s testimony regarding receiving messages in dreams from a dead tribal elder, something that was considered common in the tribe. It’s evidence like that which I advised you to pursue more aggressively rather than taking the over-trod path of arm-chair experiments and ontological possibilities.

  30. John Morales says:

    You don’t consider the argument that everything must be caused, therefore reality must be caused by something itself uncaused contrived (indeed, a case of special pleading)?

    No, I don’t.

    Maybe expressing it symbolically, rather than in natural language, will help.
    The argument is:
    (C = Caused)
    {
    x:C(x)
    x:¬C(x)
    }
    The two propositions are clearly contradictory.

  31. John Morales says:

    “Everything must be caused” is causality. Are you suggesting we abandon the notion of causality?

    Causality is the concept that, given two succesive events, one is the consequence of the other. Note it says nothing about intent.
    This is an empirical inductive heuristic, not an a priori truth; in particular, it’s only applicable to the domain of reality (the universe).
    It says nothing about events (if there are such) outside our universe.
    I note that modern physics, at the quantum level, does not employ this heuristic.

    The universe is clearly not uncaused.

    This is not clear to me.
    It has a beginning (and all indicators say an end, as well). Can you adduce a basis for the claim that there were events outside of time? :)

    It has a beginning (and all indicators say an end, as well).

    Current theory indicates spacetime¹ had an origin; unfortunately for you, there is no (scientific) indication there is an end.
    You might find this video of a Lawrence Krauss lecture interesting.

    ¹ That is, space and time.

  32. John Morales says:

    whoops, I copied when I should’ve cut.
    @31, note that “It has a beginning (and all indicators say an end, as well).” outside the quote is extraneous. My bad.

  33. Hello,
    Good catch, “everything must be caused” should be “everything in our universe must be caused”. Obviously, the “unmoved mover” is outside of our universe.

  34. “Can you adduce a basis for the claim that there were events outside of time?”
    Sure, whatever caused space and time to begin. :)
    I mean, either you are arguing in favor of some sort of string/brane creation – or you are supporting the idea that nothing created everything (an eternal universe is disproved by Olber’s Paradox).
    There is nothing wrong with that. If that is what you believe, just say it.
    I just have to ask about, “there is no (scientific) indication there is an end”?
    Are you denying entropy?

  35. Tommykey says:

    Obviously, the “unmoved mover” is outside of our universe.
    But it could have also been a collaborative effort. Maybe multiple intelligences worked together to create our universe. You can’t know that it was only one.
    If there is a higher intelligence that created our universe, the most we can possibly know about it (or them) is that it (they) possess enormous power and intelligence on a scale way beyond our ability to comprehend.
    But for the sake of convenience, I will just use the word god from here on. I don’t have a problem with the possibility that god exists. What I am extremely skeptical of are people who believe they know what this god wants from us, because this god supposedly revealed itself to certain select people over the millenia.
    Today, we have the ability to contact people virtually instantaneously around the world via e-mail or via the telephone. Alternatively, we can send packages via express mail services that can delivery virtually anywhere in a matter of days at most. Now, when you look at say the god of Islam or Christianity, what do we have? A being that is supposed to be faster and more powerful than our most advanced technology and yet this god, in order to spread its message of vital salvation to all humanity, speaks to or through a single person, and then that message has to be transmitted to the rest of humanity through word of mouth or writing. Consequently, it took the message of Christianity some 1,500 years to circle the globe, with Islam having to follow in its footsteps, as no Islamic states ever gained a foothold in the Americas.
    However, the adherents of Christianity and Islam are themselves divided over which version of their message is the correct one. So, not only was the message reliant on the speed of human transmission, it was subject to different interpretations that garbled the message.
    To echo what someone else wrote above, a god that created the universe theoretically has the ability to transmit what, if anything, it wants us to do clearly and simultaneously so that the message is unanmbiguous and not subject to one person’s interpretation.

  36. cl says:

    Dominic,

    No, actually. You’ve been jumped on a few times already for this. Occam’s Razor is for cutting out only unnecessary complications, not all of ’em.

    Yes, jumped on by people who apparently don’t seem to make the connection: that which entails the least amount of unnecessary complications while remaining logically possible given the evidence is by definition the simplest explanation and is to be preferred, right? I’ve not suggested that we “cut all of ’em” so let’s not go there.

    So, Ned’s argument is God exists because God…. obviously, exists. He’s being pretty flippant and nonchalant, too.

    Fair enough. I’ll stay out of that and let you guys hash that one out. I don’t want to discourage debate by any means.

    It was evidence you had provided of a person’s testimony regarding receiving messages in dreams from a dead tribal elder, something that was considered common in the tribe. It’s evidence like that which I advised you to pursue more aggressively rather than taking the over-trod path of arm-chair experiments and ontological possibilities.

    Now now, don’t jump the gun: copies of the fieldwork from the anthropolgist in question are what I’m currently awaiting. That was the “unexpected delay” mentioned in the last post. Turned out to be a most fortunate delay. Still though, how does that connect to the Unmoved Mover argument? Did I miss something?
    Besides, I’m going for a sort of meta-argument here, that’s built of multiple sub-arguments from a wide variety of fields. Everybody’s different. The things that persuade you might not persuade another atheist, and vice-versa. You know this. I also recall you being responsive to the “waveform hypothesis” and believe me, I’m still trying to further develop that as well. All in due time, my friend, all in due time.

  37. cl says:

    Hi there Tommykey. I’ve got a few things to add to your comment to Ned, if you don’t mind:

    But it could have also been a collaborative effort. Maybe multiple intelligences worked together to create our universe. You can’t know that it was only one.

    Occam’s razor.

    If there is a higher intelligence that created our universe, the most we can possibly know about it (or them) is that it (they) possess enormous power and intelligence on a scale way beyond our ability to comprehend.

    I don’t see why that should necessarily be true. In theory, we could know much more than that if we were to actually be “with God.”

    What I am extremely skeptical of are people who believe they know what this god wants from us, because this god supposedly revealed itself to certain select people over the millenia.

    See, yours has always been a sort of skepticism I can respect. Your mind is still open. Yet on the other hand, you know enough of human nature to know that much what’s peddled as truth is really peddled for profit, or other nefarious motives. I can dig that.

    To echo what someone else wrote above, a god that created the universe theoretically has the ability to transmit what, if anything, it wants us to do clearly and simultaneously so that the message is unanmbiguous and not subject to one person’s interpretation.

    I hear this argument often and I think it is actually very rhetorically successful, just not cogent. Speaking simply in the context of the Bible (not necessarily the argument you mention between Islam and Christianity), that the Bible is ambiguous to the point of incommunicability is simply an inflated claim advanced primarily by atheists and skeptics. I can show you passage after passage that lay out in very clear language what God intends for people of the current generations. That’s not to say there’s not some very ambiguous language in the Bible – in terms of prophecy and allegory as two examples – I’m just saying it’s not a strong argument to just say “God could’ve done better with the translation of the Word.”
    As just one example, what’s so unclear about what’s being asked of us in the Sermon on the Mount, to the point that the message is so convoluted as to be incommunicable?

  38. cl says:

    First it was “special pleading,” now it’s “contradictory”… Let’s stick to one claim at a time here. Question: how is it special pleading to opine that an unmoved mover that is itself uncaused is the simplest explanation to account for the universe? Tell me exactly where and why I commit special pleading by agreeing with Aristotle.

  39. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Still though, how does that connect to the Unmoved Mover argument?

    You’re trying to prove both “immaterial consciousness” and an Unmoved Mover. The former is mandatory to support the latter, since your Unmoved Mover can’t be a material thing but must act with intent.
    Actually prove immaterial consciousness, and I stop being an atheist.

  40. cl says:

    Gotcha. Pretty much what I thought, just didn’t want to assume. However, if I recall correctly, didn’t you also tell me one time that your biggest objection to theism had to do with the “beginning of time” conundrum as discussed at DD’s just before he went on vacation?

  41. Hi Dominic,
    Obviously, the immaterial is not perceptible to material senses… what would you constitute as sufficient proof?

  42. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    One of the premises is that an immaterial consciousness can affect the material, creating perceptible effects. If we can eliminate naturalistic explanations and solidly establish intent behind such effects, you’ve effectively proven some sort of immaterial consciousness.

  43. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Gotcha. Pretty much what I thought, just didn’t want to assume. However, if I recall correctly, didn’t you also tell me one time that your biggest objection to theism had to do with the “beginning of time” conundrum as discussed at DD’s just before he went on vacation?

    That’s operating under the understanding that immaterial consciousness isn’t a possibility. Which is what is being addressed here.

  44. Ok, would you need to experience such “immaterial effects” directly? Or would you take the testimony of an eye witness?

  45. John Morales says:

    Sure, whatever caused space and time to begin. :)

    That’s just restating your contention that there was a cause (i.e. outside of time). I asked if you could adduce a basis for this claim, other than that you consider it to be so.

    I mean, either you are arguing in favor of some sort of string/brane creation – or you are supporting the idea that nothing created everything (an eternal universe is disproved by Olber’s Paradox).

    Neither. You propose a false dilemma.
    BTW, Olbers’ paradox relates to an infinite, eternal and static universe, and I can’t see why you think that an ex nihilo origin implies eternal existence in any case.

    There is nothing wrong with that. If that is what you believe, just say it.

    What I believe is that I have no basis for belief as to whether there was a cause (much less an intelligent one) for space-time and mass-energy.
    In short, I don’t know, and withhold belief.

    [1] I just have to ask about, “there is no (scientific) indication there is an end”?
    [2] Are you denying entropy?

    1. Current cosmological observations support an open universe.
    Only a closed universe could be considered to eventually end.
    2. Not if you refer to the second law of thermodynamics.
    I don’t see the relevance of it – whether or not thermal equilibrium is eventually reached says nothing about the cessation of the universe, only of its state.

  46. John Morales says:

    First it was “special pleading,” now it’s “contradictory”… Let’s stick to one claim at a time here.

    It’s both. Cf #30.

  47. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    For me, personally, I’d like to see it in action. But simply making it happen is the real proof, I’m not jumping ahead to the point
    of trying to convince the world just yet. Now, if the proof is reproducible, you’ve gone from having evidence to scientific evidence, which is the thing that makes you right and everyone else wrong.

  48. nedbrek says:

    Hi John,
    I was preparing myself for some grand revelation. All you’ve got for me is: “I don’t know, and withhold belief.”
    That’s it? That overturns 2000 years of Christianity and theism from the beginning of history?
    Re. “Only a closed universe could be considered to eventually end.”
    I’m curious how you define “end”? Is “heat death”, “big freeze”, or “big rip” not an end?

  49. nedbrek says:

    Hi Dominic,
    That is tough challenge you’ve given me. I mean, you probably take some stuff “on faith”. Do you test every chair before you sit down? Do you build every tool from raw materials?
    But I think I am up to your challenge!
    Here is my “experiment” (it relies on truthfulness and personal experience, so I wouldn’t call it “scientific” – you’re not going to get a result you can read on a digital multimeter!).
    Now, this is my experiment, so don’t quarrel with the points, you can try it for yourself and judge the results.
    1. Read the Bible – I predict it will make no sense whatsoever.
    You might think it is a fairy tale, or stuff made up by kings/priests to control the masses, or some good principles taken too far.
    2. Consider the moral law (a.k.a. Ten Commandments)
    Have you ever lied? Taken anything that didn’t belong to you (stolen)? Taken a day’s pay without giving a full day’s labor? Hated someone? Been angry without cause? (Hatred and anger are the root of murder)
    3. Now God (assuming He exists, and is moral) cannot allow law breakers to go unpunished.
    4. Consider your stand before God, He must punish you, and your crimes are primarily against Him. The punishment fits the target of the crime.
    5. God is merciful, and does not take pleasure in the destruction of law breakers. He has provided a way for forgiveness.
    6. He became the man, Jesus Christ, and received the punishment for sin on the cross. Jesus was raised from the dead, which shows that He was innocent.
    7. Agree with God that you are a sinner, turn from sin, and trust that Jesus Christ has paid the price for your sin.
    8. Now read the Bible – it will be like milk to a newborn baby! You will find you cannot start the day without it. Where you once disliked Christians, now you will want to be around them all the time.
    That is my experiment, please let me know if you try it.

  50. John Morales says:

    I was preparing myself for some grand revelation. All you’ve got for me is: “I don’t know, and withhold belief.”
    That’s it? That overturns 2000 years of Christianity and theism from the beginning of history?

    Yup, that’s it. It’s called intellectual honesty¹.
    I’d rather say “I don’t know” than make suppositions and claim them as knowledge.

    Re. “Only a closed universe could be considered to eventually end.”
    I’m curious how you define “end”? Is “heat death”, “big freeze”, or “big rip” not an end?

    In natural language, something does not exist before it begins, and similarly does not exist after it ends – IOW, the ‘end’ is the symmetric converse of the ‘beginning’.
    In the 3 (hypothetical) final states you refer to, mass-energy and space-time remain; hence the universe still exists.
    (I suppose that they can be called endings in the weak sense that “the universe as it is now” ends.)

    ¹ Consider the question “why is the (daytime) sky blue?”. Before the discoveries of Newton, the question was unanswerable other than via conjecture; even after Newton showed sunlight is a mixture of colours, it took a couple of hundred years until Tyndall discovered the basis for differential scattering in the atmosphere.

  51. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Erm…. you seem to have lost sight of the original proposal. This is a self-help/meditation technique for people who are inclined to feel a certain way about justice and morality and whatnot, not proof of immaterial consciousness via ascertaining intent behind inexplicable phenomenon.
    Appreciate the sincerity, but it’s a bit off-topic.

  52. Hi John,
    I appreciate the honesty. I like the symmetry of your definition of beginning and end. I am a simulator guy, and that colors the way I think. A simulation begins at t0, and ends when interesting events cease…
    Let’s pop the stack a bit…
    I said: “Sure, whatever caused space and time to begin. :)” (is the unmoved move/first cause/)
    You said “That’s just restating your contention that there was a cause (i.e. outside of time)”
    I had elaborated: “either you are arguing in favor of some sort of string/brane creation – or you are supporting the idea that nothing created everything”
    To which, you said: “You propose a false dilemma.”
    Is it a false dilemma because there is a third option? If so, you should be able to provide it. If not, then could you comment on the two options?

  53. Hi Dominic,
    I understand.
    The problem is God does miracles on His schedule, not ours (besides the everyday miracles of the strong nuclear force, gravitation, e=mc**2, etc.). I don’t have the authority to call up a miracle just to satisfy you. Do you see there is a bit of arrogance in that request? If I demanded President Obama show up on my door with a Big Mac to demonstrate that he really is the president, I don’t think he would do it.
    There is actually a “theory” behind miracles. God uses them to call attention to a person. It says, “Listen to what this person is saying, he speaks for Me”.
    God doesn’t do these sorts of miracles today, because He is done talking to us. Everything we need is in the Bible (that’s what the Bible says, it is sufficient).
    Again, there is a logic to this. God has given His message once and for all, when Jesus came. There is nothing more, nothing better. He saved the best for last.
    I’ll segue to John’s reply, there are no events after the end :)

  54. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    Doesn’t have to be God. Any immaterial consciousness will do.

  55. D says:

    “…either you are arguing in favor of some sort of string/brane creation – or you are supporting the idea that nothing created everything.”
    – ned

    Surprisingly enough, the idea that everything came from nothing is becoming less and less far-fetched. That video is over an hour long, so you’ve been warned, but a physicist explains more or less how the data gathered thus far is almost preposterously consistent with a Universal origin ex nihilo. I found it amazing and disturbing at the same time, but I gotta say, that’s where the evidence is pointing right now. Also, math is awesome for helping us figure this all out.

  56. D says:

    “…either you are arguing in favor of some sort of string/brane creation – or you are supporting the idea that nothing created everything.”
    – ned

    Surprisingly enough, the idea that everything came from nothing is becoming less and less far-fetched. That video is over an hour long, so you’ve been warned, but a physicist explains more or less how the data gathered thus far is almost preposterously consistent with a Universal origin ex nihilo. I found it amazing and disturbing at the same time, but I gotta say, that’s where the evidence is pointing right now. Also, math is awesome for helping us figure this all out.

  57. Hi D,
    All that tells me is that people will believe anything – except God. :P
    I’m curious how anyone could believe that, and still hold to conservation (of matter/energy). And without conservation, build any principles that rely on consistent measurements.

  58. John Morales says:

    Is it a false dilemma because there is a third option? If so, you should be able to provide it. If not, then could you comment on the two options?

    Yes, there are multiple other options, but primarily it’s a false dilemma because it’s not, in fact, a dilemma, since there is no requirement for a choice to be made.
    It’s not known whether the universe in fact even had a beginning; the current scientific model is the Big Bang: “the idea that the Universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past (currently estimated to have been approximately 13.7 billion years ago), and continues to expand to this day.”
    Anyway, since you ask, here are a couple of examples of alternatives
    * The universe is eternal, and the current instantiation is the result of a phase change that renders earlier states unaccessible; i.e. there is no beginning.
    * The MEST universe is a consensual illusion shared amongst immortal spirit beings that have forgotten their origin (this is the view of Scientology).

  59. John Morales says:

    All that tells me is that people will believe anything – except God. :P

    Hm. Argument from incredulity.
    Quantum
    theory is the best-tested and most accurate scientific model about reality that we have (predictions test out to over 12 significant digits!)
    You must postulate an entire other domain to the natural¹ (the supernatural) to invoke your god-construct, whilst the quantum fluctuation hypothesis need not.
    Since this domain is hypothetical and not empirical, it should not be surprising that purported explanations that invoke it are less credible than those that do not.

    ¹ I hope you’re not like Scientologists, who deny the reality of nature! ;)

  60. Hi John,
    “there is no requirement for a choice to be made”
    Doesn’t the law of the excluded middle kick in? A – the universe has a first cause / not A – it doesn’t?
    Scientology is so silly, in fact it is good evidence humans are incapable of logical thought or knowing truth without an appeal to an immaterial consciousness.
    Which leads to my next point, I propose that there is a bug in your thought processes (similar to the old Pentium FDIV). You are simply incapable of knowing the truth or using logic properly (what with you being the result of random processes and quantum fluctuations).
    Please prove to me, without using logic, that your logic is sound.
    For extra credit, please prove the divider on the first Pentiums was correct, only using Pentiums to check it.
    Thanks!

  61. Hi John,
    “there is no requirement for a choice to be made”
    Doesn’t the law of the excluded middle kick in? A – the universe has a first cause / not A – it doesn’t?
    Scientology is so silly, in fact it is good evidence humans are incapable of logical thought or knowing truth without an appeal to an immaterial consciousness.
    Which leads to my next point, I propose that there is a bug in your thought processes (similar to the old Pentium FDIV). You are simply incapable of knowing the truth or using logic properly (what with you being the result of random processes and quantum fluctuations).
    Please prove to me, without using logic, that your logic is sound.
    For extra credit, please prove the divider on the first Pentiums was correct, only using Pentiums to check it.
    Thanks!

  62. Re. eternal universe:
    I mentioned Olber, so you agree that an eternal static universe is impossible?
    The only other alternative I am familiar with is Bang/Crunch cycling. But the Big Crunch has never been supported by observation…

  63. John Morales says:

    “there is no requirement for a choice to be made”
    Doesn’t the law of the excluded middle kick in? A – the universe has a first cause / not A – it doesn’t?

    The law of the excluded middle
    (i.e. ∀x(x ∨ ¬x))
    is applicable to the truth-value of propositions (in 2-valued logics); it’s quite different to the fallacy of the excluded middle (a.k.a. false dichotomy), which refers to proposing applicable alternatives that do no exhaust the possibility space as if they did.
    In any case, you seem to have missed my point: Why should I believe, absent compelling justification, either P or ¬P?

    I mentioned Olber, so you agree that an eternal static universe is impossible?

    Astronomical observations and cosmology have falsified that conjecture; whether it’s impossible or not is irrelevant, it is empirically not the case.

  64. Hi John,
    I can’t compel you to pick one or the other.
    I asked you to comment on the two options.
    I believe there is a first cause outside the universe, and that the proposition of no first cause cancels any possibility for further rational thought.
    I believe there is no third option. If you still believe there is a third option, I would like to hear it.

  65. John Morales says:

    I believe there is a first cause outside the universe, and that the proposition of no first cause cancels any possibility for further rational thought.

    I know you believe that. I also told you that I withhold belief, pending justification.
    Can’t you see that, by postulating a first cause, you’re invoking an uncaused cause? And that therefore, since at least one cause can be uncaused, not everything is caused? And that therefore you’re vitiating the claim that “everything must have a cause”, which is the basis for your belief that the universe must be caused?

  66. The observable universe had some first cause, can we agree on that? Call it the Big Bang, or Expansion or whatever. Tag it to the first femtoseconds that have been simulated, or earlier or later. “Something” happened to cause the universe to be what it is today.
    Now either that “something” had a cause (which, we seem to agree, comes from outside the universe) – or it didn’t. It doesn’t seem that complicated.
    Anything outside the universe can be eternal. Eternal things do not need causes. We know our universe is not eternal.
    You don’t have to choose one, but you should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each.

  67. The observable universe had some first cause, can we agree on that? Call it the Big Bang, or Expansion or whatever. Tag it to the first femtoseconds that have been simulated, or earlier or later. “Something” happened to cause the universe to be what it is today.
    Now either that “something” had a cause (which, we seem to agree, comes from outside the universe) – or it didn’t. It doesn’t seem that complicated.
    Anything outside the universe can be eternal. Eternal things do not need causes. We know our universe is not eternal.
    You don’t have to choose one, but you should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each.

  68. Tommykey says:

    I can show you passage after passage that lay out in very clear language what God intends for people of the current generations.
    But on what basis should I believe that the Bible contains the commands of a universal creator?
    And as for my ambiguity argument, I only point to the disagreements about the nature of Jesus (all human/all divine/part human part divine) and the Trinity, as well as the multitude of Christian groups in existence to this day. Which one is the right one? The Catholic Church? The Greek Orthodox? Southern Baptist? Anglican? Et cetera.
    Occam’s razor.
    The last time I checked, Ockham’s Razor was not some immutable law of the universe. The truth is, if our universe was created by some higher intelligence, you can’t know whether it was one entity or more.

  69. Hi Tommy,
    Let me butt in before cl gets a chance to reply! :)
    The easy answer is in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”
    It is God’s Word, because it says so. Of course the Koran says something similar, but we can disbelieve the Koran on two points:
    1) It comes after the Bible, and teaches a different Gospel, despite claiming to be from the same God (through an angel – Galatians 1:8 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”).
    2) The Koran is internally inconsistent. It claims the Bible is the Word of God, but then claims God has no Son (where the Bible clearly says Jesus is God’s Son).
    Re. different groups of Christians:
    Some are not really Christians (because they teach a different Gospel). This includes the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses (who teach salvation through works, just like Islam – and every other religion).
    The others are due to man’s sinfulness (rebellion and bickering). Sometimes the accident of history and personality, largely differences in relatively minor points like baby baptism and eschatology.

  70. John Morales says:

    The observable universe had some first cause, can we agree on that?

    No. We can agree, if you wish, that it had an origin.

    Anything outside the universe can be eternal. Eternal things do not need causes. We know our universe is not eternal.

    The term universe is problematic. I’m using it in its cosmological sense: The Universe comprises everything that physically exists, the entirety of space and time, all forms of matter and energy, and the physical laws and constants that govern them. However, the term Universe may be used in slightly different contextual senses, denoting such concepts as the cosmos, the world, or Nature.
    Now, it may well be the case that the universe part of some larger reality, but this is purely speculative and says nothing about, for example, the god of the Bible.
    Note too that the cosmological argument is equally applicable to a deist or pantheist deity-conception.

    Eternal things do not need causes.

    And how can you know eternal things exist outside of your imagination?
    There are no examples of such in (or of) the universe you can point to, by your own claim.

    I might here note that the Christian god is supposedly both outside of time and immortal.
    Leaving aside the semantic confusion exhibited thereby, I should note that, since all of time is contained within the universe (cf. definition above), and this god is supposedly outside the universe, the excluded middle can be applied and logically this god cannot interact with our universe.
    The Christian god-construct is truly an incoherent concept when rationally examined, as this example demonstrates.

  71. D says:

    “[The Koran] comes after the Bible, and teaches a different Gospel.”

    But the Bible itself, as we have it today, is not the same thing as the holy texts from 1900-some-odd years ago. The Bible changes over time, and we can prove this because we have older copies. Even church records show that the New Testament did not reach what we could call its current form until about five hundred years ago. The content of the Bible has been voted on and changed by men across centuries after the time that Jesus is said to have walked the Earth. What were the folks supposed to do in the years before? Or is there a truer, older word?
    We can see in the historical record not only how Islam evolved, but also Christianity before it, and Judaism before that, and a whole mess of other things before that. This evolution continues to this day. I don’t think that an argument from historical precedent really does you any favors here. Historically, the Bible appears no more special than any other book, save for what some people say about it.

  72. cl says:

    Tommykey,

    But on what basis should I believe that the Bible contains the commands of a universal creator?

    I really don’t know; everybody’s different. I mean, who am I to tell you on what basis you should believe? I can tell you why I believe the Bible contains the commands of a universal creator, if you’d like.

    Which one is the right one? The Catholic Church? The Greek Orthodox? Southern Baptist? Anglican? Et cetera.

    None are wholly right; all are approximations or grasping at the truth of Scripture. Religion is dangerous, because it switches Scripture for men’s interpretations of it.

    The last time I checked, Ockham’s Razor was not some immutable law of the universe.

    Of course; but that doesn’t stop most atheists from pulling that card, now does it? Most atheists say we can’t propose God because of Occam’s. Well, if that’s the case, those atheists cannot propose metaverses or multiple creators.

    The truth is, if our universe was created by some higher intelligence, you can’t know whether it was one entity or more.

    Of course, but how is it useful to point that out? We could just as easily say that in truth, we can’t know whether the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Neither of these put us any closer to answers, I don’t think – unless of course I’m overlooking something you’re saying.

  73. cl says:

    Tommykey,

    But on what basis should I believe that the Bible contains the commands of a universal creator?

    I really don’t know; everybody’s different. I mean, who am I to tell you on what basis you should believe? I can tell you why I believe the Bible contains the commands of a universal creator, if you’d like.

    Which one is the right one? The Catholic Church? The Greek Orthodox? Southern Baptist? Anglican? Et cetera.

    None are wholly right; all are approximations or grasping at the truth of Scripture. Religion is dangerous, because it switches Scripture for men’s interpretations of it.

    The last time I checked, Ockham’s Razor was not some immutable law of the universe.

    Of course; but that doesn’t stop most atheists from pulling that card, now does it? Most atheists say we can’t propose God because of Occam’s. Well, if that’s the case, those atheists cannot propose metaverses or multiple creators.

    The truth is, if our universe was created by some higher intelligence, you can’t know whether it was one entity or more.

    Of course, but how is it useful to point that out? We could just as easily say that in truth, we can’t know whether the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Neither of these put us any closer to answers, I don’t think – unless of course I’m overlooking something you’re saying.

  74. cl says:

    John Morales,

    I asked if you could adduce a basis for this claim, other than that you consider it to be so. (to Ned)

    Well, when I speculate that an unmoved mover is behind the universe, the basis for the claim is that a first cause outside of our universe is one of the three logical conclusions to Aristotle’s argument.

    It’s both. Cf #30.

    It may or may not be both, but so far, all you’ve done is assert your opinion. Let’s focus on this one first: why is it special pleading?

    Yup, that’s it. It’s called intellectual honesty┬╣.
    I’d rather say “I don’t know” than make suppositions and claim them as knowledge. (to Ned)

    Now see, I can respect that to a certain extent. That’s exactly the position I take on the age of the Earth: I don’t know.

    I suppose that they can be called endings in the weak sense that “the universe as it is now” ends. (to Ned)

    Ned can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the point he’s trying to make is that the potency of this universe is finite.

    It’s not known whether the universe in fact even had a beginning; the current scientific model is the Big Bang: “the idea that the Universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past (currently estimated to have been approximately 13.7 billion years ago), and continues to expand to this day.”

    As regards this universe, what would be the significant difference between an “initial condition” and a “beginning?” I just don’t see the usefulness in such a distinction.

    The universe is eternal, and the current instantiation is the result of a phase change that renders earlier states unaccessible; i.e. there is no beginning. (to Ned)

    That would fall under “self-creating” universe, and if we go with this option, then we have to come up with some plausible means by which a universe that lacks potency can begin its next phase change.

    The MEST universe is a consensual illusion shared amongst immortal spirit beings that have forgotten their origin (this is the view of Scientology). (to Ned)

    This speaks nothing on causality and just pushes the problem one level back: where did the spirit beings come from? Immortal doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as eternal.
    So, do you have any options besides unmoved mover, something from nothing, and self-sustaining universe?

    You must postulate an entire other domain to the natural┬╣ (the supernatural) to invoke your god-construct, whilst the quantum fluctuation hypothesis need not. (to Ned)

    I disagree with this; there is but one domain whose horizons are always expanding, in my view. Also, I think you overestimate the explanatory power of QM; you still have to explain potency, which brings us back to square one.

    Can’t you see that, by postulating a first cause, you’re invoking an uncaused cause? And that therefore, since at least one cause can be uncaused, not everything is caused? And that therefore you’re vitiating the claim that “everything must have a cause”, which is the basis for your belief that the universe must be caused? (to Ned)

    And
    this would be where I say you’re misunderstanding the logical implications of Aristotle’s argument. It’s not, “Everything must have a cause.” If we say that everything must have a cause we invoke an infinite causal regress.

    The Christian god-construct is truly an incoherent concept when rationally examined, as this example demonstrates. (to Ned)

    Asserting that something is irrational does not make it so.

  75. cl says:

    D,
    Regarding ex nihilo – if the first unmoved mover exists and shares the qualities ascribed to it, this is exactly what science should find. It would look like the entire universe just came from nothing. That’s because science can’t yet (and possibly never will) identify anything beyond or “under” our universe.

    I don’t think that an argument from historical precedent really does [Ned] any favors here.

    I agree.

  76. cl says:

    Ned,
    So you know, I believe there are three options: a first unmoved mover; something from nothing; or a self-creating universe.

    God doesn’t do these sorts of miracles today, because He is done talking to us.

    That’s one take on it. I’d be interested in discussing that one, perhaps in another thread as it doesn’t really relate here.
    As for your comment #66 to Tommykey,

    It is God’s Word, because it says so.

    Circular argument.

    Of course the Koran says something similar, but we can disbelieve the Koran on two points:

    Yet, other Scriptures came before the Bible, and many make the claim that the Bible is internally inconsistent. I don’t know what type of atheists you normally debate, but none of this is going to compel any of the atheists that come here. They’re just going to chuckle at these sorts of arguments.

  77. cl says:

    I value free speech and sporadic discussion, so this is not a complaint at all. However, just to remind folks, the point of this post is for people to provide the things they think would be acceptable proofs of God’s existence.

  78. John Morales says:

    Well, when I speculate that an unmoved mover is behind the universe, the basis for the claim is […]

    Fair enough. You admit it is speculation, yet it is also not your belief?
    Surely you’re not advocating belief based on nothing more than speculation.

    Let’s focus on this one first: why is it special pleading?

    Special pleading:

    Special pleading is a form of spurious argumentation where a position in a dispute introduces favorable details or excludes unfavorable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations themselves. Essentially, this involves someone attempting to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exemption.

    Here is the raw argument form:
    Premise: everything is caused.
    Fact: the universe exists.
    Inference: the universe is caused.
    Problem: what caused the universe?
    Special plead: a First Cause. First Causes are not caused.
    To avoid this being obvious, the argument is usually rephrased thus:
    1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
    2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
    3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
    4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

    It’s just obfuscated in that version, the argument’s semantics are the same.

    Ned can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the point he’s trying to make is that the potency of this universe is finite.

    All quite irrelevant to the argument at hand, that being of the putative necessity of there being a supernatural being for the universe to exist in the first place.

    As regards this universe, what would be the significant difference between an “initial condition” and a “beginning?” I just don’t see the usefulness in such a distinction.

    A beginning is a general term denoting the event consisting of the start of something, whilst an initial condition would be the first known state of the universe, quite different to the way it is now, and the “evolution” of which physical cosmology addresses.
    Whether that means nothing existed before, or that something other did, or whatever else may be the case is unknown.

    So, do you have any options besides unmoved mover, something from nothing, and self-sustaining universe?

    It was in response to #57 (Is it a false dilemma because there is a third option? If so, you should be able to provide it.).
    I clearly don’t endorse those as any more credible than Christianity, and as clearly have provided other options, problematic as they may be. Note Scientology is an on-going religion, so again, clearly it is a credible option to some.
    It is indeed a false dilemma, as the examples demonstrate.

    Also, I think you overestimate the explanatory power of QM; you still have to explain potency, which brings us back to square one.

    Perhaps I do.
    “Potency” is your own term, I have no idea what you mean by it.
    Square one is that neither I nor you know, but you believe that you know.
    That’s essentially what faith is.

    And this would be where I say you’re misunderstanding the logical implications of Aristotle’s argument. It’s not, “Everything must have a cause.” If we say that everything must have a cause we invoke an infinite causal regress.

    I think you think I misunderstand it because you don’t see the special pleading. One of us is wrong.

    Asserting that something is irrational does not make it so.

    Perhaps I should make it clear then that I was expressing my opinion.

  79. cl says:

    Yes, a First Unmoved Mover (a.k.a. God) is my belief.

    Surely you’re not advocating belief based on nothing more than speculation.

    No. The belief itself is logically justifiable, and I’ve got a whole host of other contributing factors for my belief.

    Here is the raw argument form:
    Premise: everything is caused.
    Fact: the universe exists.
    Inference: the universe is caused.
    Problem: what caused the universe?
    Special plead: a First Cause. First Causes are not caused.

    Can you make the argument without ignoring the distinction I gave you last time?

    It’s just obfuscated in that version, the argument’s semantics are the same.

    Your modified version is not the argument I’m making.

    [I] have provided other options, problematic as they may be.

    You didn’t though; you attempted two options, but one of them falls under the “self-sustaining universe” option, and the other avoids the question altogether: whether we say the MEST universe is an illusion of immortal beings or not, we have to explain the immortal beings.

    “Potency” is your own term, I have no idea what you mean by it.

    Perhaps that’s because on the post where I defined it, you took more interest in condescending to Sun Jung? Note that not one comment of yours dealt with Aristotle’s argument as I presented it; instead you focused solely on sniping another commenter. :(
    Your claim is simply false: as regards this argument, potency is Aristotle’s term, not mine. I’m actually a bit shocked you didn’t know that, only because of the confidence you seem to have in your attempted refutations. If you don’t understand Aristotle’s concept of potency, you can’t offer a successful refutation and we can’t resolve this discussion because we’re talking past one another. I’d intuitively felt that you’ve not understood the concept this whole time, and your concession is a welcome confirmation.

    Square one is that neither I nor you know, but you believe that you know.

    Square one is that we’re searching for an explanation of why there is something rather than nothing. I make a distinction between belief and knowledge; I do not believe that I know – I simply believe. I know when I experience.

    I think you think I misunderstand it because you don’t see the special pleading.

    No; I believed you misunderstood it because of the flawed objections you’d been giving, and now I know you misunderstood it because I just experienced you confess that you hadn’t the slightest idea what I meant by potency. If you don’t understand that concept, you can’t understand Aristotle’s argument.
    What would you say if I was arguing against evolution but I told you I’d never heard of natural selection?

  80. nedbrek says:

    The King James Bible was printed after the Reformation of 1517 (500 years ago). But the books we know of as the NT Bible have all been reliably dated back to their original authors (40-100 CE). The book of Isaiah (previously dated
    to ~800 CE) was confirmed (by the Dead Sea scrolls) to be faithful to copies from before the time of Jesus.
    Marcion was a heretic from ~130. He created a new canon. The rebuttal to his teachings required the assertion of proper canon.
    Yes, there are a couple of books which some people feel are less useful. Yes, there are a handful of passages which may have been added later; and a handful were the modern text is a little fuzzy from the original.
    But the core is solid, and dates back to the original authors, with no substantial changes.

  81. nedbrek says:

    The King James Bible was printed after the Reformation of 1517 (500 years ago). But the books we know of as the NT Bible have all been reliably dated back to their original authors (40-100 CE). The book of Isaiah (previously dated
    to ~800 CE) was confirmed (by the Dead Sea scrolls) to be faithful to copies from before the time of Jesus.
    Marcion was a heretic from ~130. He created a new canon. The rebuttal to his teachings required the assertion of proper canon.
    Yes, there are a couple of books which some people feel are less useful. Yes, there are a handful of passages which may have been added later; and a handful were the modern text is a little fuzzy from the original.
    But the core is solid, and dates back to the original authors, with no substantial changes.

  82. nedbrek says:

    “self-creating universe”

    How is that different than no cause? Are you promoting the notion that the universe will eventually “evolve” a way to reach back in time and cause itself (a couple of noted atheists are now pushing this…)?

  83. nedbrek says:

    Hi cl!
    “Circular argument.”
    A circular argument is not necessarily false. In fact, all arguments are essentially circular.
    A Christian has a circle based on God. (I know because God told me, God knows everything, and God does not lie)
    An atheist has a circle based on himself (“I decide what is true.”).
    “I don’t know what type of atheists you normally debate, but none of this is going to compel any of the atheists that come here. They’re just going to chuckle at these sorts of arguments.”
    That is a good point. You can never debate anyone into the Kingdom of God. The carnal mind is the enemy of God (Romans 8:7). Furthermore, those without God have dysfunctional minds (Romans 1:28).
    :)
    I am still looking for the proof that atheistic logic is not an oxymoron.

  84. John Morales says:

    Fine, you find Aristotle’s Argument for the Unmoved Mover convincing.
    Consider me bested, I lack motivation to read up on ancient metaphysics just to critique it directly.
    Anyway, didn’t you say the intent of this exercise was for atheists to defend your refutation of their best evidence?

    [1] Square one is that we’re searching for an explanation of why there is something rather than nothing. [2] I make a distinction between belief and knowledge; I do not believe that I know – I simply believe. I know when I experience.

    1. Well, sort of. I wouldn’t say I’m searching (I’ll let others search and then evaluate their claims – heh), I can live with not knowing.
    2. I too draw a distinction between believing and knowing, as I’ve expressed other times.
    I know that you believe that God is real; I wonder if you understand that I don’t believe that you know whether God is real?

    What would you say if I was arguing against evolution but I told you I’d never heard of natural selection?

    I’d offer an adumbration and references.
    Sigh. <checks>
    Movers and unmoved movers. Is this to what you refer?
    But, as I said above, do you really want to clutter up the thread critiquing ancient metaphysics?

  85. cl says:

    I pretty much agree with everything you said about regarding the historicity of the Bible.

    How is [self-creating universe] different than no cause?

    It’s not when framed in the context of an eternally occurring phase-change, but it is a third option between eternal first unmoved mover (a.k.a. God) and something from nothing.

    A circular argument is not necessarily false. In fact, all arguments are essentially circular.

    Point taken, I was just noting that atheists will tend to scoff at such arguments.

    A Christian has a circle based on God. (I know because God told me, God knows everything, and God does not lie)
    An atheist has a circle based on himself (“I decide what is true.”).

    Indeed, though many atheists believe that ultimately, believers do the same, and unfortunately, we often find a great many Christians doing just that: acting on behalf of their own personal preferences and attributing it to God’s will. What I’m saying is, in practice, many a Christian has a circle based on his or herself, too. I noticed you keenly observed the carnality of the atheist mind, but there’s equally such a thing as the carnal Christian – right? The whole point is that generalities are often inaccurate.

    You can never debate anyone into the Kingdom of God.

    I agree, cf. John 6:65.

    I am still looking for the proof that atheistic logic is not an oxymoron.

    Well, how about this: let’s hear your argument delineating why atheistic logic is an oxymoron? The burden of proof lies on the positive claimant.

  86. John Morales says:

    I am still looking for the proof that atheistic logic is not an oxymoron.

    Since they are independent rather than contradictory terms and thus definitionally not oxymoronic (and you know it), this boils down to an ad hominem towards atheists.
    You wouldn’t be one of these Christians who claim that Christianity engenders ethical conduct, by any chance?

  87. John Morales says:

    I am still looking for the proof that atheistic logic is not an oxymoron.

    Since they are independent rather than contradictory terms and thus definitionally not oxymoronic (and you know it), this boils down to an ad hominem towards atheists.
    You wouldn’t be one of these Christians who claim that Christianity engenders ethical conduct, by any chance?

  88. D says:

    @ cl: Hmm… you continue to disorient me. I value this. I’m starting to think, however, that our genuine positions – and I must confess that I have been trying to use you as a foil to draw out the best of my own argumentation, so I don’t understand your genuine position and yet I also wish to do so – do not contradict each other.
    This is a problem, I think. If my position is consistent with yours, yet we arrive at what we each perceive as inevitable conclusions, what then? Or maybe I’ve got it wrong yet again, I don’t know.
    @ nedbrek: I’m reconsidering my last response to you at your own sandbox, so if you’re at a loss, I’ll correct myself by the end of this weekend. Or at least abbreviate myself. Put differently, I try to always ask myself, “But what if I’m wrong?” And I think I may have been wrong in thinking that my little preamble was genuine. I’m just taking time to sort that out.
    I strive to give the benefit of that doubt to anyone but myself, but paradoxically, this has caused me to take everything less seriously. The upshot is that if my conception of God and Hell are accurate, then I would rather be in Hell than one with God. I realize that this is irrational; but then, human brains are not rationality machines. Point is, I’m honestly curious as to how (and whether!) you answer the question: “What if I’m totally off my rocker and everything I think is wrong?”
    I can’t stop considering that as a possibility, and so I walk in doubt because I cannot dispense with it. I want to make myself clear here: I have not embraced doubt, I have simply grown accustomed to it because I cannot stop doubting myself. If God exists, then he made me this way, because if he wished me to be otherwise, then I could not possibly stymie him.
    Put differently, if God is holy, then why oh why would he ever create something capable of unholiness? Furthermore, doesn’t the creation of an X (such that X is capable of unholiness) imply that the creator is capable of unholiness? If I made a baby strangling machine, regardless of all other concerns, would I not be evil for creating such a thing, whether or not I myself actually strangle babies? It’s clumsy, I know, but please: imagine for a moment that it works, and think of what that would mean.
    Now here’s why I lost my faith, using ned’s words as a springboard: I know because God told me, God knows everything, and God does not lie. What if I’m wrong on the last part? How could I tell? I mean, if God chose to lie to me, I certainly couldn’t distinguish it from a truthful God, so I have to look elsewhere so I can check. In short, “What if the King of the Universe is an evil, rotten, lying, creative, skillful, and manipulative tyrant?” It’s just the robust version of “What if I’m wrong,” asked earnestly of a believer.
    Lastly, and to the both of you, I do not mean to cause offense. I mean only to express my position honestly. If that offends you, then I’m sorry that that is the dynamic of our relationship. However, this is still my honest position, and I still have these honest questions. Answers are a dime a dozen; every single person has answers. I seek understanding. Answers are propositional; understanding is phenomenological. And if I cannot have understanding, then I cannot believe; if I cannot believe, I cannot be saved; if I cannot be saved, then I was created for damnation; if I was created for damnation, then I’d rather I was never created; I can’t be un-created, so what can I do?
    Or am I making a misstep? If I am, then I want to be told it. If I need to be saved, then I wish to, but I must first be convinced that I need to be saved in the first place. As cl can attest, this is a problem for one such as me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t just be told to believe you; I must be taught why to believe you rather than anyone else. That’s my problem. Please help me solve it.

  89. Tommykey says:

    AM
    Of course; but that doesn’t stop most atheists from pulling that card, now does it?
    No, cl, it doesn’t, though I personally shy away from invoking it. One of these days, I will get around to doing a post or series of posts on atheist arguments I disagree with.
    I can tell you why I believe the Bible contains the commands of a universal creator, if you’d like.
    Sure, have at it! However, I personally have a hard time squaring a being that creates a universe filled with billions of galaxies and then on one small speck of a planet in one of those galaxies this god decides to be Abraham’s best friend and promises Abraham that a patch of land in the Middle East will belong to his descendants. On a probability scale, I ask myself, which is more likely to be true, that a universal creator will function as the personal deity to a tribal confederation and give them a piece of land in the Middle East, or that the priests of this tribal confederation made up the claim as part of a unifying ideology? I have to go with the latter.
    Neither of these put us any closer to answers
    Because I don’t think we can ever really know the answer. The God of the Bible can certainly be offered up as a possible answer, but not THE answer.

  90. cl says:

    I will think some more before replying to your most recent comment to me, but for now, I’d like to comment on your most recent response to Ned:
    An ad hominem argument is “an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of a person advocating the premise: Person 1 makes claim X; There is something objectionable about Person 1; Therefore claim X is false.” In Ned’s claim you objected to, he did not cite something objectionable about any person X.
    Now, I can agree with you in the sense that if I was an atheist, I would probably take offense at certain parts of Ned’s delivery. But, if you think Ned’s being condescending, why fight fire with fire? Why not draw his logic out and expose it for the falsity you think it is? As it is, you simply reply with a smarmy remark of your own (the “one of those Christians” bit), and I just don’t see what that accomplishes – presuming common ground is the shared goal here. Speaking for myself, such is my goal, and whoever shares it is welcome to come along.
    Those who wish to assert their intellectual superiority – on both sides – are fully welcomed to do so, I only wish to point out that such is often insufficient in achieving common ground and breaking down walls.

  91. cl says:

    I will think some more before replying to your most recent comment to me, but for now, I’d like to comment on your most recent response to Ned:
    An ad hominem argument is “an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of a person advocating the premise: Person 1 makes claim X; There is something objectionable about Person 1; Therefore claim X is false.” In Ned’s claim you objected to, he did not cite something objectionable about any person X.
    Now, I can agree with you in the sense that if I was an atheist, I would probably take offense at certain parts of Ned’s delivery. But, if you think Ned’s being condescending, why fight fire with fire? Why not draw his logic out and expose it for the falsity you think it is? As it is, you simply reply with a smarmy remark of your own (the “one of those Christians” bit), and I just don’t see what that accomplishes – presuming common ground is the shared goal here. Speaking for myself, such is my goal, and whoever shares it is welcome to come along.
    Those who wish to assert their intellectual superiority – on both sides – are fully welcomed to do so, I only wish to point out that such is often insufficient in achieving common ground and breaking down walls.

  92. Tommykey says:

    The book of Isaiah (previously dated to ~800 CE) was confirmed (by the Dead Sea scrolls) to be faithful to copies from before the time of Jesus.
    That’s all well and good Ned. But that does not address whether what is written in Isaiah was something conveyed to them by a divine source or whether it was meant to convey what the author (or authors) believed was the will of the god they worshipped filtered through the prism of their religion.
    From a historical viewpoint, one of my problems with the OT is that rather than looking at the events described therein through the lens of history, the religious believing reader looks at the history of the region through the lens of the Bible. So, the Egyptians, Assyrians and the Babylonians, for example, are not civilization that exist for their own purposes, but rather merely serve as blunt instruments for god to punish the Israelites. Thus, god will cause the Assyrians to attack Israel because too many Israelites worshipped Baal or something like that. But when you look at the big picture, you see that the Israelites were just a small part of that big picture instead of being the linchpin around which everything in the region revolved.

  93. Tommykey says:

    if I was an atheist, I would probably take offense at certain parts of Ned’s delivery.
    Personally, I was amused by it. Sort of like a Washington Nationals fan telling a Yankees fan that the Yankees suck. Yeah, if you say so.

  94. John Morales says:

    [1] But, if you think Ned’s being condescending, why fight fire with fire? [2] Why not draw his logic out and expose it for the falsity you think it is? [3] As it is, you simply reply with a smarmy remark of your own (the “one of those Christians” bit), [4] and I just don’t see what that accomplishes – [5] presuming common ground is the shared goal here.

    1. Ned’s not being condescending, only attempting to be so. To condescend, one has to be in a position to do so. :)
    It was a weak and confused supposed bon mot, but I infer it was malicious in intent for the reason I provided. You should note I used ad hominem [to the person] to indicate it was purely a personal remark expressing an opinion; if there’s any argumentative fallacy in his statement of opinion, it’s that he’s poisoning the well.
    2. Draw his logic out? Ned misunderstands logic: A circular argument is not necessarily false. In fact, all arguments are essentially circular.
    This is either confused or sophistry.
    A circular argument is definitionally not an argument, but an assertion in the form of an argument where the proposition to be proved is assumed in the premise. He conflates a circular argument with a tautology, which of course all valid arguments are, since if their premises are true the conclusion must be so. The difference between an argument to a conclusion and an assertion of a conclusion is the inferential sequence.
    3. I took the opportunity to make a valid point regarding the ethics and intelligence exhibited by Ned, and contrast it to a typical Christian claim.
    4. It directs attention to Ned’s claim by virtue of me responding to it. Also, SIWOTI.
    5. No need to presume. As I posted earlier, I’m here to exchange views and for mutual criticism of ideas.
    6. Since Ned did not address me elsewhere in his comment, there was no need to respond to other than that.

  95. cl says:

    Fine, you find Aristotle’s Argument for the Unmoved Mover convincing.

    John, I’m aiming for understanding here, not appeasement!

    Consider me bested, I lack motivation to read up on ancient metaphysics just to critique it directly.

    Isn’t familiarizing oneself with source material implicit in the intellectual contract? What you’re doing is essentially tantamount to attempting to lead class discussion without having read the lecture.

    Anyway, didn’t you say the intent of this exercise was for atheists to defend your refutation of their best evidence?

    Yes, actually I did, and you replied @4,

    1. My best evidence for God: I cannot definitively exclude the existence of any possible god.
    2. I would be convinced that a particular god (nb. you shouldn’t use a proper noun for a generic entity) exists if I were convinced that that particular god exists.

    I replied that I can’t exclude the possibility of invisible pink unicorns, so your #1 seems easily defeated. Then, you returned @10 and attempted to clarify part of what you said @4:

    Succinctly expressed, only my belief in the proposition would convince me the proposition was convincing

    What you seem to be saying is that no evidence besides your belief could convince you that God exists. So, if your best hypothetical evidence is simply your own belief, well… your own arguments dash that to shreds when endorsed by theists.
    Then, @18 you broke out the “bait and switch” charge; then, @20, you linked to that stupid video. You spent 22 defending that move, and @30 you shifted gears back into allegations of contradiction and special pleading, which led to my suggestion that perhaps you misunderstood key terms of Aristotle’s argument, which was confirmed when you said you “hadn’t the slightest idea” what I meant by potency.
    And that’s where we are: your attempt at meeting the demands of the OP has been addressed, and you still haven’t justified the contradiction / special pleading claims that we veered into, but I’m interested in hearing you out because indeed you could be right.

    I wonder if you understand that I don’t believe that you know whether God is real?

    Why would you say that if I’m only claiming to believe, and not know?

    I’d offer an adumbration and references.

    You wouldn’t think I was being a bit overconfident in forming a conclusion on something I wasn’t fully familiar with?

    Is this to what you refer?

    Yes, that’s one of the many articles I read before I changed my position on the matter.

    ..as I said above, do you really want to clutter up the thread critiquing ancient metaphysics?

    John, you were the one who engaged Ned, which led to the current focus on Aristotle’s argument! Not that I mind, because I don’t believe in derailment or “thread-cluttering” because freethought has no boundaries. Progress often occurs in these meanderings and tangents. Further, now that we’re actually getting down to it, you can’t just say you want to switch subjects.
    We’ve put a lot into this; nobody’s really offered much in the way of hypothetical evidence for God; D came the closest with her “Thomas” analogy. So, since there’s nothing to discuss regarding the OP, why don’t you defend your claims that my position represents “contradiction” and “special pleading?”

  96. cl says:

    Fine, you find Aristotle’s Argument for the Unmoved Mover convincing.

    John, I’m aiming for understanding here, not appeasement!

    Consider me bested, I lack motivation to read up on ancient metaphysics just to critique it directly.

    Isn’t familiarizing oneself with source material implicit in the intellectual contract? What you’re doing is essentially tantamount to attempting to lead class discussion without having read the lecture.

    Anyway, didn’t you say the intent of this exercise was for atheists to defend your refutation of their best evidence?

    Yes, actually I did, and you replied @4,

    1. My best evidence for God: I cannot definitively exclude the existence of any possible god.
    2. I would be convinced that a particular god (nb. you shouldn’t use a proper noun for a generic entity) exists if I were convinced that that particular god exists.

    I replied that I can’t exclude the possibility of invisible pink unicorns, so your #1 seems easily defeated. Then, you returned @10 and attempted to clarify part of what you said @4:

    Succinctly expressed, only my belief in the proposition would convince me the proposition was convincing

    What you seem to be saying is that no evidence besides your belief could convince you that God exists. So, if your best hypothetical evidence is simply your own belief, well… your own arguments dash that to shreds when endorsed by theists.
    Then, @18 you broke out the “bait and switch” charge; then, @20, you linked to that stupid video. You spent 22 defending that move, and @30 you shifted gears back into allegations of contradiction and special pleading, which led to my suggestion that perhaps you misunderstood key terms of Aristotle’s argument, which was confirmed when you said you “hadn’t the slightest idea” what I meant by potency.
    And that’s where we are: your attempt at meeting the demands of the OP has been addressed, and you still haven’t justified the contradiction / special pleading claims that we veered into, but I’m interested in hearing you out because indeed you could be right.

    I wonder if you understand that I don’t believe that you know whether God is real?

    Why would you say that if I’m only claiming to believe, and not know?

    I’d offer an adumbration and references.

    You wouldn’t think I was being a bit overconfident in forming a conclusion on something I wasn’t fully familiar with?

    Is this to what you refer?

    Yes, that’s one of the many articles I read before I changed my position on the matter.

    ..as I said above, do you really want to clutter up the thread critiquing ancient metaphysics?

    John, you were the one who engaged Ned, which led to the current focus on Aristotle’s argument! Not that I mind, because I don’t believe in derailment or “thread-cluttering” because freethought has no boundaries. Progress often occurs in these meanderings and tangents. Further, now that we’re actually getting down to it, you can’t just say you want to switch subjects.
    We’ve put a lot into this; nobody’s really offered much in the way of hypothetical evidence for God; D came the closest with her “Thomas” analogy. So, since there’s nothing to discuss regarding the OP, why don’t you defend your claims that my position represents “contradiction” and “special pleading?”

  97. Tommykey says:

    We’ve put a lot into this; nobody’s really offered much in the way of hypothetical evidence for God; D came the closest with her “Thomas” analogy.
    If the Spaniards encountered the Aztecs and found that they already were Christians, that would blow me away. A sophisticated civilization with no prior contact with Christians who were already Christians, with knowledge of the Bible, use of the cross, et cetera. It picks up with my initial comment on this thread, where I wrote that a universal creator would have the ability to transmit its message to everyone and not rely on flawed human beings to carry it around the world.
    Of course, history did not turn out that way, and the people supposedly bearing the vital message of god’s salvation ended up inadvertently killings millions of Native Americans by infecting them with smallpox.

  98. cl says:

    I’m going to fisk your comment, but in effort to be genuine and thorough, not verbose or obtuse. Here goes:

    Hmm… you continue to disorient me.

    I could see that as a compliment, or a grievance.

    I value this.

    I do, too.

    I must confess that I have been trying to use you as a foil to draw out the best of my own argumentation

    When you say “confess” it implies wrongdoing; what’s wrong with using others to draw out our best? Isn’t that what we do in any competition?

    I don’t understand your genuine position and yet I also wish to do so

    What exactly don’t you understand?

    I’m starting to think, however, that our genuine positions … do not contradict each other.

    Well, what do you have in mind by “genuine positions?” I can think of one position we share: we both prefer checkable claims to non-checkable ones, but you (at least provisionally) accept a claim that is not checkable. No offense at all, but I still can’t get my head around that.

    This is a problem, I think. If my position is consistent with yours, yet we arrive at what we each perceive as inevitable conclusions, what then?

    Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s no real justification for the preference of checkable claims to non-checkable ones. Etc.
    I couldn’t help but notice the following in your comment to Ned:

    ..if my conception of God and Hell are accurate, then I would rather be in Hell than one with God. I realize that this is irrational; but then, human brains are not rationality machines.

    That’s interesting. Could you describe your conception of God in a nutshell?

    I’m honestly curious as to how (and whether!) you answer the question: “What if I’m totally off my rocker and everything I think is wrong?

    Then something else I’ve yet to discover is right.
    Your third and fourth paragraphs are among the better I’ve heard that argue what they do. As I hope my argument from the superiority of checkable claims does for you, you’ve provoked a new concern in me: seemingly strengthening your argument, Genesis tells us that God created us in His image, and the Bible also argues that in God there is no sin, not even the ability to sin: so how would creatures that can sin reasonably constitute creatures created “in God’s own image?”

    Now here’s why I lost my faith, using ned’s words as a springboard: I know because God told me, God knows everything, and God does not lie. What if I’m wrong on the last part? How could I tell? I mean, if God chose to lie to me, I certainly couldn’t distinguish it from a truthful God,

    John Morales effectively argued the same thing in comment #7 when he said, “I can’t think of how I could even in principle distinguish between a true deity and a very powerful non-deity deceiving me.”
    I have an answer for these things; though, delving too much into now would really take this thing off course, so I’ll wait and address some posts to this question of how and why we might trust God.

    Lastly, and to the both of you, I do not mean to cause offense. I mean only to express my position honestly. If that offends you, then I’m sorry that that is the dynamic of our relationship.

    You don’t offend me, D, but I do raise my eyebrow when I catch you callin’ people trolls at DA. It’s totally within your right to express your humor and/or opinion however you like, don’t get me wrong, but I hope you can understand why such behavior potentially erodes exactly the trust these types of things need.
    I hope your final two paragraphs were entirely in earnest, because if so they are hands down the most powerful two paragraphs a commenter has ever left at this site.
    And John Morales, if you’re reading, I realize you’ve expressed similar sentiments as those in D’s final two paragraphs. Presuming they were in earnest – which in this case I believe they were – they are also right up there in the “brute honesty” category.

  99. John Morales says:

    John, I’m aiming for understanding here, not appeasement!

    OK.

    [1] Isn’t familiarizing oneself with source material implicit in the intellectual contract? [2] What you’re doing is essentially tantamount to attempting to lead class discussion without having read the lecture.

    1. I thought we were addressing the cosmological argument.
    2. I was discussing a generic cosmological argument, then Aquinas’s version.
    3. I’ll look at your version.
    re my best evidence and my credible evidence:

    I replied that I can’t exclude the possibility of invisible pink unicorns, so your #1 seems easily defeated.

    Yes, my best evidence even for any possible god is inconclusive and no better than that for IPU’s. But no worse, either.

    What you seem to be saying is that no evidence besides your belief could convince you that God exists.

    Well read. And I give reasons @7:
    For one thing, I can’t think of how I could even in principle distinguish between a true deity and a very powerful non-deity deceiving me.
    For another, any deity that was worthy of the title, and wanted me to believe in it, would certainly achieve that.

    Have I missed where you’ve addressed these?

    So, if your best hypothetical evidence is simply your own belief, well… your own arguments dash that to shreds when endorsed by theists.

    Clearly my own belief in itself wouldn’t be convincing to others, but since we’ve defined it extant, and by your own quote it’s a piss-poor rationale for basing belief, I’m pretty sure I’d need the intervention of brain injury or of an act of God for such belief to form. Hence, were it extant, it would be convincing to me, if I could discount brain injury and still hold that belief.

    … which led to my suggestion that perhaps you misunderstood key terms of Aristotle’s argument, which was confirmed when you said you “hadn’t the slightest idea” what I meant by potency.

    I didn’t make the connection, but are you sure you’re not using it instead of potentiality?
    Could you either cite or quote a version of the argument, preferably in the form of a syllogism? That way I know specifically what it is I’m addressing.

    And that’s where we are: your attempt at meeting the demands of the OP has been addressed, and you still haven’t justified the contradiction / special pleading claims that we veered into, but I’m interested in hearing you out because indeed you could be right.

    You did notice I quoted a standard version of the cosmological argument and addressed it directly, I hope.
    You still haven’t addressed my basis for the best evidence and for my credible (to me) evidence. It would be disingenous to insist that an atheist provide credible evidence that is extant, right?
    I’ll address your version of Aristotle’s when you provide it, as per my above.

    Why would you say that if I’m only claiming to believe, and not know?

    We addressed this when we discussed justified true belief.

    You wouldn’t think I was being a bit overconfident in forming a conclusion on something I wasn’t fully familiar with?

    It’s clear I did not know your basis was Aristotle’s argument. You might note that the version of the cosmological argument I addressed is based on Aristotle’s (it’s a medieval one).
    Bring it on, but you might want to check whether at some point a universal quantifier is applied to a predicate; if so, and some entity is introduced to which the predicate does not apply, you’ve got a problem.

    Yes, that’s one of the many articles I read before I changed my position on the matter.

    And why it would be best if you provided your syllogism, since I’m not going to invest hours of my time boning up on Aristotle. I’ll address whatever you provide.
    If you do understand it, it shouldn’t be hard.

    Further, now that we’re actually getting down to it, you can’t just say you want to switch subjects.

    Well, to get back on topic, since my bases at comment #7 are outstanding.

    So, since there’s nothing to discuss regarding the OP, why don’t you defend your claims that my position represents “contradiction” and “special pleading?”

    Because I’m pretty sure I don’t know what specific argument it is you’re using, but that general class of arguments is fallacious. We’ll see.

  100. John Morales says:

    John Morales effectively argued the same thing in comment #7 […] I have an answer for these things; though, delving too much into now would really take this thing off course

    I think not. It’s a major platform on the basis upon which I exclude otherwise viable empirical evidence (limb regeneration at will, levitation and such).

    I realize you’ve expressed similar sentiments as those in D’s final two paragraphs. Presuming they were in earnest – which in this case I believe they were – they are also right
    up there in the “brute honesty” category.

    D and cl, I recall thinking that it’s somewhat unlike the way I see things at the time of reading them. These?
    (I emphasise what I would sign my name to, for clarification.)
    —begin quote—
    Lastly, and to the both of you, I do not mean to cause offense. I mean only to express my position honestly. If that offends you, then I’m sorry that that is the dynamic of our relationship. However, this is still my honest position, and I still have these honest questions. Answers are a dime a dozen; every single person has answers. I seek understanding. Answers are propositional; understanding is phenomenological. And if I cannot have understanding, then I cannot believe; if I cannot believe, I cannot be saved; if I cannot be saved, then I was created for damnation; if I was created for damnation, then I’d rather I was never created; I can’t be un-created, so what can I do?
    Or am I making a misstep? If I am, then I want to be told it. If I need to be saved, then I wish to, but I must first be convinced that I need to be saved in the first place. As cl can attest, this is a problem for one such as me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t just be told to believe you; I must be taught why to believe you rather than anyone else. That’s my problem. Please help me solve it.
    —-end quote—-
    I would amend it, though, to “I seek answers and understanding.”
    Well said indeed, D.
    Your expressed concern regarding salvation leads me to suggest that either you investigate other religious traditions, (to quote our host):

    You wouldn’t think I was being a bit overconfident in forming a conclusion on something I wasn’t fully familiar with?

    or that you engage in an honest examination of your epistemology.
    Both would be best.
    I personally believe that adherents’ religious faith is a human thing, and that of Christians is no greater than that of others.
    I consider that it should clarify matters, occupy your mind, and help put Christianity into perspective, especially its eschatological claims.

  101. John Morales says:

    John Morales effectively argued the same thing in comment #7 […] I have an answer for these things; though, delving too much into now would really take this thing off course

    I think not. It’s a major platform on the basis upon which I exclude otherwise viable empirical evidence (limb regeneration at will, levitation and such).

    I realize you’ve expressed similar sentiments as those in D’s final two paragraphs. Presuming they were in earnest – which in this case I believe they were – they are also right
    up there in the “brute honesty” category.

    D and cl, I recall thinking that it’s somewhat unlike the way I see things at the time of reading them. These?
    (I emphasise what I would sign my name to, for clarification.)
    —begin quote—
    Lastly, and to the both of you, I do not mean to cause offense. I mean only to express my position honestly. If that offends you, then I’m sorry that that is the dynamic of our relationship. However, this is still my honest position, and I still have these honest questions. Answers are a dime a dozen; every single person has answers. I seek understanding. Answers are propositional; understanding is phenomenological. And if I cannot have understanding, then I cannot believe; if I cannot believe, I cannot be saved; if I cannot be saved, then I was created for damnation; if I was created for damnation, then I’d rather I was never created; I can’t be un-created, so what can I do?
    Or am I making a misstep? If I am, then I want to be told it. If I need to be saved, then I wish to, but I must first be convinced that I need to be saved in the first place. As cl can attest, this is a problem for one such as me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t just be told to believe you; I must be taught why to believe you rather than anyone else. That’s my problem. Please help me solve it.
    —-end quote—-
    I would amend it, though, to “I seek answers and understanding.”
    Well said indeed, D.
    Your expressed concern regarding salvation leads me to suggest that either you investigate other religious traditions, (to quote our host):

    You wouldn’t think I was being a bit overconfident in forming a conclusion on something I wasn’t fully familiar with?

    or that you engage in an honest examination of your epistemology.
    Both would be best.
    I personally believe that adherents’ religious faith is a human thing, and that of Christians is no greater than that of others.
    I consider that it should clarify matters, occupy your mind, and help put Christianity into perspective, especially its eschatological claims.

  102. D says:

    @ cl: I have no problems with line-by-line criticism. I have problems with whining, bullying, and things of that nature. I’ve never seen fisking used as a verb before, but I’m the kind of person who knows I make mistakes and likes being corrected. So let’s fisk each other into next Tuesday!
    Anyway, the disorientation you give me is both compliment and grievance. It’s a compliment, insofar as it leads me to self-improvement. It’s a grievance, insofar as it hurts me at first, and it makes me angry and upset at you, and I laugh like an asshole after reading your words sometimes. I try not to show you these parts of me, because this seems to me to be why all the flaming happens at DA. Sure, they’re wrong in a lot of ways, and so are you, but nobody ever backs down and apologizes. How long did it take us to start being friendly with each other? Go back and re-read some of the stuff we said, it got pretty hairy. And now we’re doing this. Pretty cool, huh?
    I’m a total noob at this, though, and don’t you ever fucking let me lose sight of that. You’re the first person of another ideological bent that I’ve tried to make friends with. When I was a believer, I had believer friends; now I’m an atheist and I have atheist friends; this too is but vanity and chasing after the wind.
    Does it imply wrongdoing to confess one’s love? The confession wasn’t about the foil bit, it was about the using bit. We butted heads pretty hard, and I said, “Fuck this. I’m gonna turn cl into my friend, whether he likes it or not.” So I swallowed my ego and deferred to you over and over, until you felt like deferring back. Maybe you see it differently than that, maybe I’m still full of vanity and vexation of spirit. But our interactions, more than anything, have been dialectical – we’ve both changed some, and now we’re both going somewhere better, I think. Whether we go to the same place or not remains to be seen. But I like the ways that our interactions have changed me, and I hope you can say the same.
    I’ll get back to you on what exactly I don’t understand. I want to give it more time, because I want to say it in the least hurtful way possible. I hope it hurts anyway, and then I hope you get over that and we keep being friends anyway.
    Thomas Jefferson said, “Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.” I don’t believe that there is no god, and I also don’t believe that there is one. When it comes to God, I have shut up my beliefs and stopped chasing after the wind. I am no theist, and in that sense only, I am an atheist (because “theism” and “not theism” – or “everything else” – are mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories). But if you believe that a god does exist, then we do not contradict each other: you believe God exists, I lack belief on the subject. We do not contradict each other.
    Maybe, maybe, maybe! Now we’re getting somewhere! You said a while ago that you don’t know who I am, and you don’t know who the Hell I think I am. I think I am nobody special. I know that nobody else is special, either. I also know that nobody likes to be told how not-special they are. Sometimes I like to remind people of this, but this doesn’t make friends. Better, I think, to make friends and then lead them to that conclusion, making them think it’s their own idea all along the way. In that sense, if I am leading you away from the One Truth of the Universe, then I’m the goddamned Devil. Or, if I’m right and I’m helping you drop some stupid crap that’s holding you back, then I’m your goddamned savior. I don’t actually think I’m either of those things, those are just two roles that I may end up playing in a de facto sort of way, depending on what the truth of the matter is. But now my ego is starting to show, so maybe I should swallow it again. I’m not your teacher because you’re not my student. We’re learning from each other. Everything else is just vanity, stories we tell each other so that we can get up in the morning.
    Here is my discussion with nedbrek. I don’t know how he feels about me, but I know that I’ve done a whole lot more head-hit-keyboard-ing with him than with you, because he seems to cut me a little closer to where I used to be. He reminds me of my mother at her very best. You strike me as more like my father, which makes it easier for me to talk to you. My conception of God is null at the moment, but here is what I think of as the best of all possible deities (consistent with the observable facts of the world and blah blah blah). You helped me write that, by the way, so I hope you like it. The genuine best of all possible deities is the project of The Quantum Mechanic, in relief to which I hope to show how much any real God has screwed up. Maybe I’m still just chasing after the wind, though.
    I’m glad I’ve provoked a concern in you. I hope to continue to do so. You’ve done the same for me, and for that, I thank you. Your concern is, more or less, the very thing that got me out of theism – and here’s what easily could have brought me back in. Sinning has nothing to do with being in the image of God; it’s more like the reflection of the Moon in a lake. When the water is calm and the sky is clear, you can see the Moon as clear in the lake as you can in the sky; if the water is troubled, then the lake is a poor mirror; if the sky is cloudy, then the Moon is hidden from the lake, and cannot be reflected.
    The bit on God’s ability to lie to us is, in a way, the essence of faithlessness. We infidels cannot trust God from nothing. We need reason, and we are told we must forget reason and trust in God with faith alone. Well, that’s all fine and dandy – but couldn’t the Devil tell us the very same thing? How could we tell the two of them apart, if they both went and did such a thing? I haven’t the foggiest, so I walk in doubt. Neither of those fuckers is getting any of my certainty chips, so to speak – all bets are off until I have a reason to place my trust in this or that thing, and not any other (of which I am aware right now, blah blah blah). A hop, skip, and a jump from there is why I find science so awesome: you mean we can test reality, even though we can’t test God? Well, fuck God, I’m interested in reality now! Oh, but this means I have to give up on the One Truth of the Universe, because science is never “solved forever.” Oh, well. Answers don’t make me happy, anyway – but understanding satisfies.
    As for trolls… look, if I say you’re ugly, all that means is that your appearance is not pleasing to me. I don’t think you’re a bad person for it, I don’t hate you for it, I’m just letting you know that you’re not attractive to me. So what? Is my opinion of your looks so important that you can’t bear to have it go your way? Vanity of vanities! I can’t help how you appear to me, and you can’t help it either, but if it hurts you for me to be honest with you, then I see that as your problem (and it makes me sad that you have such a problem, and makes me wish I could be honest in unhurtful ways). I’m a troll and you’re a troll and we’re all trolls – we just do other things, too. We’re also thieves, liars,
    sinners, and so forth. Let’s try to keep the trolling coefficient to a minimum, shall we? It’ll still happen, and that sucks, let’s just try to not let it get out of hand.
    That said, I’m glad I don’t offend you, and I’m glad you can look past our differences enough to find some wisdom in my words, because it makes me happy to return the favor to you.
    @ John Morales: John, I’m so sorry I missed your comments! I’m really here to talk to cl on his home turf, and everyone else is kind of background noise. I’ve had brief flirts with jim, and an embarrassing exchange with Gideon, but other than that I pretty much ignore everything that’s not addressed to me directly. I have studied other religions, though: there was a time when I almost went crazy thinking that all religions sprang from a common source, so I tried to learn them all and then tease out their common threads. Fortunately, I realized it was all nuts at about the time I got to the most primitive creation myths, and I’ve forgotten far more than I even care to remember and carry with me. This is how I got into philosophy, the love of wisdom.
    A great teacher named Joe Fox would often say to his students, “If you want an education, get the Hell outta here and go to a library. You’ll only get a stamp from here, and you’ll have to jump through some smart hoops to get it, but it’s still only a stamp.” I go to school off and on so that I can get starting points from those who have more learning than me; then I go and do my own thing. This, to me, is genuine love of wisdom, and so I call myself a philosopher. Or, as Goethe wrote in Faust:

    I have studied philosophy,
    Jurisprudence and medicine, too
    And worst of all, theology
    With keen endeavor, through and through
    Yet still I am for all my lore
    The wretched fool I was before

    And so on and so forth. In feudal Japan, I’d have retreated to the mountains to be an ascetic by now; as it happens, I like video games and the internet too damn much, so I made a mountaintop on my blog and now I walk in the world.
    Thank you for your compliments, and I’ll start looking into your words for wisdom, too.

  103. John Morales says:

    D, the real compliment is that I find nothing to criticise in your comments! ;)
    I have been reading them, but since they merit praise rather than criticism, I’ve found nothing worth saying.
    As you said, I too am nobody special, so I invite you to critique anything I post.

  104. John Morales says:

    You are simply incapable of knowing the truth or using logic properly (what with you being the result of random processes and quantum fluctuations).

    And you are babbling.

    [1] Please prove to me, without using logic, that your logic is sound.
    [2] For extra credit, please prove the divider on the first Pentiums was correct, only using Pentiums to check it.

    1. Proof is a logical concept, and rather ironically you’re using soundness in the logical sense. Do you not see how nonsensical an attempt at disparaging logic this is?
    2. Rhetorical emphasis can be achieved more economically.
    Anyway. By your own assertions, I am incapable of grasping truth or of employing logic, hence you should easily be able to (metaphorically) demolish my claims. Right? :)

  105. D says:

    John, on 1, the mistake is more serious than that (unless by “nonsensical,” you meant “fallacious”). You are being instructed to beg your own question, to assume what you wish to prove in the attempt to prove it. This would be like asking someone to describe “true taste” without reference to molecular shape or nervous structures; the sense of taste is the emergent consequence of those things, and it makes no sense apart from that.
    I think the rhetorical gambit here is to perhaps get you to admit faith. In a sense, it’s inescapable, which is kind of neat – it reminds me of a book of Joe Fox’s lectures called Faith in Reason. But there is another way out, called “foundationalism.” The quick & dirty version is: “If reason works, then it works; if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.” And then you go from there. Like the problem of induction, there’s not much of a practical upshot, but it gives you a tool for getting started in dialectical philosophy, both with yourself and with others.
    As a conversation, it might go something like this: “Do you agree that reason works? If so, then great! We can just move forward from there, regardless of whether it ‘actually works’ in the alien and esoteric sense that we can never know. If not, then that’s too bad, because then we can’t ever have a meaningful conversation.” Just embrace the whole disjunction and don’t give “reason itself” any of your certainty chips, and you’ll be OK (oh, and also remember that this is all just stories we tell ourselves, anyway).

  106. cl says:

    Sorry Tommykey, I kind of lost ya in the shuffle:
    I eagerly await your post series of atheist arguments you disagree with.

    ..I personally have a hard time squaring a being that creates a universe filled with billions of galaxies and then on one small speck of a planet in one of those galaxies this god decides to be Abraham’s best friend and promises Abraham that a patch of land in the Middle East will belong to his descendants.

    I get that you find it incredible, but that we find something incredible says nothing about the truth or falsity of the proposition.

    On a probability scale, I ask myself, which is more likely to be true, that a universal creator will function as the personal deity to a tribal confederation and give them a piece of land in the Middle East, or that the priests of this tribal confederation made up the claim as part of a unifying ideology? I have to go with the latter.

    Well, for starters, I wouldn’t ask myself such a question on a probability scale, because there’s simply no way to establish reliable probabilities for these options. Such questions seem dangerously vulnerable to bias, if you ask me.
    As for the “unifying ideology” argument, I might look further into that if the Bible hadn’t been written by many authors over thousands of years in different cultural contexts. It’s all over the place from the ancient Israelites to the Jews to the Gentiles, and now the world. You can’t just say it’s an attempt to “unify ideology” without speculating as to who you’re talking about, right? Who is at the head of this grand scheme to unify ideology? What ideology are they attempting to unify if indeed Christianity is a non-unified ideology like most atheists argue?

    From a historical viewpoint, one of my problems with the OT is that rather than looking at the events described therein through the lens of history, the religious believing reader looks at the history of the region through the lens of the Bible.

    That is only a problem when facts are ignored, and often, looking at regions through the “lens” of the Bible yields facts. There is an entire field called biblical archaeology; there’s no way around the fact that the Bible is literally intertwined with human history.

    So, the Egyptians, Assyrians and the Babylonians, for example, are not civilization that exist for their own purposes, but rather merely serve as blunt instruments for god to punish the Israelites.

    Well sure, that’s how many religious come to see things – through a distorted lens – but that doesn’t mean that’s how belief would be for you, right?

    If the Spaniards encountered the Aztecs and found that they already were Christians, that would blow me away.

    How so? Why would that be convincing?

    A sophisticated civilization with no prior contact with Christians who were already Christians, with knowledge of the Bible, use of the cross, et cetera.

    So, not to be silly or derogating here, but if “Christian aliens” show up, you’d consider that acceptable proof of Christ?

    ..a universal creator would have the ability to transmit its message to everyone and not rely on flawed human beings to carry it around the world.

    I agree, and that’s exactly what I believe the Creator does. Would you equally believe that if God exists, God can and will transmit His message to you without relying on flawed human beings?

  107. cl says:

    Sorry Tommykey, I kind of lost ya in the shuffle:
    I eagerly await your post series of atheist arguments you disagree with.

    ..I personally have a hard time squaring a being that creates a universe filled with billions of galaxies and then on one small speck of a planet in one of those galaxies this god decides to be Abraham’s best friend and promises Abraham that a patch of land in the Middle East will belong to his descendants.

    I get that you find it incredible, but that we find something incredible says nothing about the truth or falsity of the proposition.

    On a probability scale, I ask myself, which is more likely to be true, that a universal creator will function as the personal deity to a tribal confederation and give them a piece of land in the Middle East, or that the priests of this tribal confederation made up the claim as part of a unifying ideology? I have to go with the latter.

    Well, for starters, I wouldn’t ask myself such a question on a probability scale, because there’s simply no way to establish reliable probabilities for these options. Such questions seem dangerously vulnerable to bias, if you ask me.
    As for the “unifying ideology” argument, I might look further into that if the Bible hadn’t been written by many authors over thousands of years in different cultural contexts. It’s all over the place from the ancient Israelites to the Jews to the Gentiles, and now the world. You can’t just say it’s an attempt to “unify ideology” without speculating as to who you’re talking about, right? Who is at the head of this grand scheme to unify ideology? What ideology are they attempting to unify if indeed Christianity is a non-unified ideology like most atheists argue?

    From a historical viewpoint, one of my problems with the OT is that rather than looking at the events described therein through the lens of history, the religious believing reader looks at the history of the region through the lens of the Bible.

    That is only a problem when facts are ignored, and often, looking at regions through the “lens” of the Bible yields facts. There is an entire field called biblical archaeology; there’s no way around the fact that the Bible is literally intertwined with human history.

    So, the Egyptians, Assyrians and the Babylonians, for example, are not civilization that exist for their own purposes, but rather merely serve as blunt instruments for god to punish the Israelites.

    Well sure, that’s how many religious come to see things – through a distorted lens – but that doesn’t mean that’s how belief would be for you, right?

    If the Spaniards encountered the Aztecs and found that they already were Christians, that would blow me away.

    How so? Why would that be convincing?

    A sophisticated civilization with no prior contact with Christians who were already Christians, with knowledge of the Bible, use of the cross, et cetera.

    So, not to be silly or derogating here, but if “Christian aliens” show up, you’d consider that acceptable proof of Christ?

    ..a universal creator would have the ability to transmit its message to everyone and not rely on flawed human beings to carry it around the world.

    I agree, and that’s exactly what I believe the Creator does. Would you equally believe that if God exists, God can and will transmit His message to you without relying on flawed human beings?

  108. cl says:

    Let’s try to keep the trolling coefficient to a minimum, shall we?

    Better than that, after this I will never mention it to you in public again, and please hold me to that.

    Sure, they’re wrong in a lot of ways, and so are you, but nobody ever backs down and apologizes.

    Maybe, but I see the difference as, I attempt to show why they’re wrong with logic, whereas they often resort to silliness and mockery. Also, would you like links to instances where I have backed down and apologized? Would that change your perception of things? Further, would you like links to some of the exchanges I’ve had with Ebonmuse that I think support my opinions of him? That may or may not lend to a clearer assessement.

    How long did it take us to start
    being friendly with each other? Go back and re-read some of the stuff we said, it got pretty hairy. And now we’re doing this. Pretty cool, huh?

    Absolutely; the problem is, you’re presuming that Ebon and his cheerleaders are of the same stuff as you. They’re not. Whereas you are willing to talk stuff out and cut through crap, Ebon handled it by blaming it all on me, denouncing me as a troll, and walling himself off. Whereas you’re openly willing to let bygones be bygones, criticize other atheists and put blame where it’s often rightly deserved, they’re not. Notice that Ebon didn’t reprimand any of his regular commenters even though it always takes two to tango (make that 12 at DA, ‘cuz atheists are like skinheads in that they LOVE to gang up over there).

    You’re the first person of another ideological bent that I’ve tried to make friends with. When I was a believer, I had believer friends; now I’m an atheist and I have atheist friends; this too is but vanity and chasing after the wind.

    No offense, but that explains alot: you’re like a REAL freethinker still trying to throw off the chains of religion as an atheist. These behaviors that I mock in atheism are the same behaviors atheists mock in religion. This “herd mentality” is exactly what I think freethinkers should shun, but hey, that’s just my opinion. I say trod the middle path. I’ve been a believer since 14 now, and I’ve never isolated myself from others on account of belief. In fact, I feel more drawn to others of differing beliefs. Not that I’m tooting my own horn, because believe you me, I got my own vices and weaknesses. We’re all one race and regardless of what’s true we have to get along right now. I don’t see “believers” and “atheists” though in fact there are such things; I see people. Unique, interesting, charming, alarming, demanding, contradictory, baffling, people.

    We butted heads pretty hard, and I said, “Fuck this. I’m gonna turn cl into my friend, whether he likes it or not.”

    That’s exactly what I’ve determined to do with each of my detractors, and I am determined to succeed.

    But I like the ways that our interactions have changed me, and I hope you can say the same.

    I can, and I hope – recalling all that invective you say you rarely see the justification for – that you can understand why I have trust issues with atheists.

    I want to give it more time, because I want to say it in the least hurtful way possible. I hope it hurts anyway, and then I hope you get over that and we keep being friends anyway.

    Hey that’s cool, but if you want, let it all out in it’s hurtful glory. Maybe it’s what I need to hear. For real.

    if I’m right and I’m helping you drop some stupid crap that’s holding you back,

    If you’re right, you’re not helping me drop anything, because I’d be the same person either way. It’s if I’m right that things get ugly.
    I’ll definitely peruse the Quantum Mechanic. I’ve been keeping an eye on your NaNoWriMo, for sure. And, I’m glad something I had to say actually influenced your creativity. At the end of the day, that’s what I’m going for. Although, I’d love for Ebonmuse to actually come down off that high horse and discuss his damn essays with me. ;)
    You’ve said much more that I could address, and will. Bye for now.

  109. cl says:

    Well read. And I give reasons @7:
    For one thing, I can’t think of how I could even in principle distinguish between a true deity and a very powerful non-deity deceiving me.
    For another, any deity that was worthy of the title, and wanted me to believe in it, would certainly achieve that.
    Have I missed where you’ve addressed these?

    No. As for the first, I acknowledged it, and that’s what I meant when I said I saw similarities between your’s and D’s positions as expressed in this thread: she said that, too. I’m really tiring of this thread, so instead of get into that here, I’ll have to write a post about “why one should believe even though God could really be Satan.” Sound good?

    I didn’t make the connection, but are you sure you’re not using it instead of potentiality?

    How about you read the two posts first like you said, and then if anything’s unclear, let’s go from there? You can get to both arguments from the first paragraph on the “Recommended Posts” page.

    You still haven’t addressed my basis for the best evidence and for my credible (to me) evidence.

    Yes, I did: it’s no evidence at all. That you believe something isn’t convincing evidence that I should believe it. Am I missing something?

    It’s clear I did not know your basis was Aristotle’s argument. You might note that the version of the cosmological argument I addressed is based on Aristotle’s (it’s a medieval one).

    No, I made that clear early on. I dropped the hints. I’m sorry you missed them.

    Bring it on, but you might want to check whether at some point a universal quantifier is applied to a predicate; if so, and some entity is introduced to which the predicate does not apply, you’ve got a problem.

    John – READ THE POSTS, please. This is all addressed and your cautionary mechanisms unnecessary.

    If you do understand it, it shouldn’t be hard.

    Alright, that’s about enough for me today. Your the one misunderstanding it, and you come with that. I’m speechless.
    Regarding this thread, I do have some snippets I’d still like to share with you, from earlier exchanges, for whatever they’re worth. Talk soon.

  110. D says:

    I’ll have to write a post about “why one should believe even though God could really be Satan.” Sound good?

    You actually think this? Wow! Yeah, I’d love to hear why!

  111. cl says:

    Well yeah but don’t expect much, because really, it’s the same principle as, “Why you trusted your parents even though they could have been reptilian aliens who eat babies in their sleep.” You kinda take things at face value and go about your business until you have a reason to believe otherwise.

  112. cl says:

    Well yeah but don’t expect much, because really, it’s the same principle as, “Why you trusted your parents even though they could have been reptilian aliens who eat babies in their sleep.” You kinda take things at face value and go about your business until you have a reason to believe otherwise.

  113. John Morales says:

    I’m really tiring of this thread, so instead of get into that here, I’ll have to write a post about “why one should believe even though God could really be Satan.” Sound good?

    Brings to mind some versions of Gnosticism, Manichaeism in particular.

    Yes, I did: it’s no evidence at all. That you believe something isn’t convincing evidence that I should believe it. Am I missing something?

    Well, if you want compelling evidence, clearly I as an atheist am unaware of such. The only possible honest response to your post was to invoke hypothetical evidence. This I did.
    That it would only be compelling to me and remain unconvincing unto others is unfortunate, but at worst it would merely leave me in the position you’re in. :)

    John – READ THE POSTS, please. This is all addressed and your cautionary mechanisms unnecessary.

    I’d like to use a syllogism, for clarity.
    How about this?
    1. Motion and time cannot appear or disappear
    2. Things cannot move without a cause.
    3. There must be something that causes the initial movement of the universe.
    4. That something is eternal and existing, always.
    5. It is without parts and indivisible, and unable to be perceived by us.
    6. It is the cause of the movement in the universe and is responsible for those forces which cause subsequent movements in the planets and the stars.

    Feel free to amend it as you wish.

    Your the one misunderstanding it, and you come with that. I’m speechless.

    You said Aristotle’s? I’ve just cut’n pasted it above. Is it your ‘it’?
    It’s not that I misunderstand ‘it’, it’s that I don’t know the specific ‘it’.
    So, happy with the version I quoted above?

  114. cl says:

    That it would only be compelling to me and remain unconvincing unto others is unfortunate,

    Why would that be unfortunate?

    I’d like to use a syllogism, for clarity.

    I’ll take a look at it later, but I’d like to NOT use a syllogism, because of the problem with quantifiers already mentioned. That’s why I wrote two full posts. Further, no offense, but I kinda tire of your equations. We should be able to talk.

    You said Aristotle’s? I’ve just cut’n pasted it above.

    Yes, just now; but my ‘misunderstanding’ comment doesn’t apply to what you ‘just cut-and-pasted above’ it applies to your attitude for the first hundred comments. That’s what I mean. You had all this confidence to the point of condescension, yet didn’t even understand potency as used in the original argument. I don’t mean that as insult, rather an attempted reality check.

    It’s not that I misunderstand ‘it’, it’s that I don’t know the specific ‘it’.

    Word it however you want. When I “don’t know” something specific, I don’t proceed with confidence to the point of condescension, and I can’t understand why anybody would.
    I will look
    at your syllogism. I’m more interested in your response to the posts I linked to.

  115. Tommykey says:

    You can’t just say it’s an attempt to “unify ideology” without speculating as to who you’re talking about, right? Who is at the head of this grand scheme to unify ideology?
    Sorry if I wasn’t more clear there. I was referring to the Israelite belief that they were the chosen people of the creator of the universe. The idea that a particular stretch of land was part of a unifying ideology. The idea that the creator of the universely set forth detailed instructions over all facets of human behavior for the Israelites was a unifying ideology. It was a way of preserving themselves in a time when they were subject to foreign conquest and foreign cultural influences, sort of like how the French government tries to purge English words from the French language and replace them with more suitable French equivalents.
    The rest of your response I will have to get back to later.

  116. “let’s hear your argument delineating why atheistic logic is an oxymoron”
    I asked in all seriousness, not as ad hominem. I believe the only “logical” options are Christianity and hedonism (Not that all Christians are logical, and certainly not well behaved).
    To believe that nothing can create everything (brane theory being a weak sort of theism), and that time+mud=man, is no foundation for logical reasoning.
    Further, the existence of sensory illusions (mainly optical, but also auditory and touch-based), is proof that our minds can and will lie to us – convincingly.
    The “logical atheist” can offer no proof that his brain is not lying to him at every moment. The “working” nature of reason is belied by the fact of death.

  117. John Morales says:

    I asked in all seriousness, not as ad hominem.

    Really.
    Here is the quote in context:
    Furthermore, those without God have dysfunctional minds (Romans 1:28).
    :)
    I am still looking for the proof that atheistic logic is not an oxymoron.

    An oxymoron is defined as conjoining contradictory terms (e.g. ‘loud silence’) (cf. my #81); that’s proof enough.
    Do you seriously think that, say, Bertrand Russell had a dysfunctional mind or was antipathetic to logic?
    If not, consider that proof by counterexample.
    The very idea reeks of presuppositional apologetics. Bah.
    How does it go? Ah yeah: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

    To believe that nothing can create everything (brane theory being a weak sort of theism), and that time+mud=man, is no foundation for logical reasoning.

    This from someone who believes Man in the Sky magically created time and space and matter and energy ex nihilo, and that dust+breath of life=man is in any way related to logic or reasoning?
    You are most amusing.

    Further, the existence of sensory illusions (mainly optical, but also auditory and touch-based), is proof that our minds can and will lie to us – convincingly.

    Well, yeah, because mind is part of one’s sensorium — however, most sensory illusions work on the sensory system level, not at the cognitive level.
    I also suggest that the existence of theistic religion is proof of cognitive illusions.

    The “logical atheist” can offer no proof that his brain is not lying to him at every moment.

    The Matrix hypothesis comes to mind, but clearly you’re insinuating that, for some reason, theists can in fact prove that their brains are “not lying to [them] at every moment”.

    The “working” nature of reason is belied by the fact of death.

    What? The scare quotes make that very confusing.
    Do you mean reason doesn’t work because death exists?

  118. John Morales says:

    I asked in all seriousness, not as ad hominem.

    Really.
    Here is the quote in context:
    Furthermore, those without God have dysfunctional minds (Romans 1:28).
    :)
    I am still looking for the proof that atheistic logic is not an oxymoron.

    An oxymoron is defined as conjoining contradictory terms (e.g. ‘loud silence’) (cf. my #81); that’s proof enough.
    Do you seriously think that, say, Bertrand Russell had a dysfunctional mind or was antipathetic to logic?
    If not, consider that proof by counterexample.
    The very idea reeks of presuppositional apologetics. Bah.
    How does it go? Ah yeah: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

    To believe that nothing can create everything (brane theory being a weak sort of theism), and that time+mud=man, is no foundation for logical reasoning.

    This from someone who believes Man in the Sky magically created time and space and matter and energy ex nihilo, and that dust+breath of life=man is in any way related to logic or reasoning?
    You are most amusing.

    Further, the existence of sensory illusions (mainly optical, but also auditory and touch-based), is proof that our minds can and will lie to us – convincingly.

    Well, yeah, because mind is part of one’s sensorium — however, most sensory illusions work on the sensory system level, not at the cognitive level.
    I also suggest that the existence of theistic religion is proof of cognitive illusions.

    The “logical atheist” can offer no proof that his brain is not lying to him at every moment.

    The Matrix hypothesis comes to mind, but clearly you’re insinuating that, for some reason, theists can in fact prove that their brains are “not lying to [them] at every moment”.

    The “working” nature of reason is belied by the fact of death.

    What? The scare quotes make that very confusing.
    Do you mean reason doesn’t work because death exists?

  119. nedbrek says:

    Of course Bertrand Russell had a dysfunctional mind. Read my review (http://nedsfaith.blogspot.com/search?q=bertrand) of his anthology “God and Religion”. He disbelieved God based on one question, (“Who made God”). To live a life of futility and die and go to Hell for that is pretty messed up.
    “Man in the Sky … is in any way related to logic or reasoning?”
    Yes. I am logical because God is logical. That is my presupposition.
    Yours is that natural selection has made you what you are. How and why will natural selection make you logical? Rather than simply able to procreate?

  120. cl says:

    John Morales,
    I’m not taking Ned’s side or anything, but he didn’t make an ad hominem argument. He’s not said he disbelieves atheism because atheists have dysfunctional minds. He’s just expressing his belief that atheists have dysfunctional minds. Might I be insulted if I was an atheist who thought something of myself? Sure. Still, if you see Ned’s strategy as not conducive to the pursuit of clear reason, maybe now do you understand how I felt when you linked to that video and simply accused me of special pleading and holding to a “contradictory” position – without so much as even a response to what I propose as the justification for that particular belief?

    This from someone who believes Man in the Sky magically created time and space and matter and energy ex nihilo, and that dust+breath of life=man is in any way related to logic or reasoning?

    While I can’t speak for Ned, your paraphrase is actually quite ignorant and disparaging of what I believe, not to mention disingenuous: I say disingenuous precisely because I’ve already stated many times my belief that Aristotle’s argument is related to logic and reasoning, and his conclusions equally so.
    Let’s try here, not just fight, or wish to be right.

  121. John Morales says:

    Of course Bertrand Russell had a dysfunctional mind. Read my review [link] of his anthology “God and Religion”. He disbelieved God based on one question, (“Who made God”).

    You’ve never heard of Russell’s teapot, I suppose.
    That you blithely opine that one of the greatest logical minds of modern times “had a dysfunctional mind” for that reason is clear indication you don’t know whereof you speak.

    Yes. I am logical because God is logical. That is my presupposition.

    Very medieval of you.
    “Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that, unless I first believe, I shall not understand.”
    You believe you understand.
    As I said, funny.

    Yours is that natural selection has made you what you are.

    Natural selection is a process, not an agency, and but one of the mechanisms of evolution. You are categorically confused.

    How and why will natural selection make you logical? Rather than simply able to procreate?

    See, here’s the thing. I prefer science, which actually examines reality, to supposition and non-explanatory answers such as “The thing that made the things for which there is no known maker and that causes and directs the events that we can’t otherwise explain and which doesn’t need to have been made and is the one thing from which to ask for things that no human can give and without him we can’t be fully happy and is unlimited by all the laws of physics and never began and will never finish and is invisible but is actually everywhere at once and who is so perfect that even if he killed millions of people, including babies, he still would be perfect and who is so powerful and magical that he can even make a virgin pregnant if he wanted to…”
    Heh.

  122. cl says:

    John, that science examines reality does not make its propositions true. Why don’t you answer Ned instead of mock him? “How and why will natural selection make you logical? Rather than simply able to procreate?”
    They’re decent questions, methinks.
    If you can show that your “mocking video” rests on a foundation of logic, by all means, let’s hear it. You might be right.

  123. John Morales says:

    I’m not taking Ned’s side or anything, but he didn’t make an ad hominem argument. […] He’s just expressing his belief that atheists have dysfunctional minds.

    Sigh. Did you read my #87?
    You should note I used ad hominem [to the person] to indicate it was purely a personal remark expressing an opinion; if there’s any argumentative fallacy in his statement of opinion, it’s that he’s poisoning the well.
    Expressing an opinion is not making an argument; fallaciousness can not apply.
    I further note that Ned’s purported basis for this (counterfactual) opinion is presupposition.
    It was a particularly notable piece of malicious vacuity, aimed at a particular target. Hence, an ad hominem — i.e. “to the person”.

    While I can’t speak for Ned, your paraphrase is actually quite ignorant and disparaging of what I believe, not to mention disingenuous

    Heh. Here I address Ned about what Ned believes (in mirror form to the original contention even!) and you think I’m addressing what you believe?
    It’s one thing to make a type I error, but when the basis for it is so specious, it’s bizarre.

    Let’s try here, not just fight, or wish to be right.

    There’s nothing substantive to engage in Ned’s incoherent and bigoted opinings. All I can do is address their nature.
    Ned is ‘not even wrong’, and saying a stupid thing for a stupid reason is hardly the indication of a non-dysfunctional mind.
    If logicians deconvert, do they perforce lose their logical ability due to their newly-dysfunctional minds? :)

  124. John Morales says:

    I’m not taking Ned’s side or anything, but he didn’t make an ad hominem argument. […] He’s just expressing his belief that atheists have dysfunctional minds.

    Sigh. Did you read my #87?
    You should note I used ad hominem [to the person] to indicate it was purely a personal remark expressing an opinion; if there’s any argumentative fallacy in his statement of opinion, it’s that he’s poisoning the well.
    Expressing an opinion is not making an argument; fallaciousness can not apply.
    I further note that Ned’s purported basis for this (counterfactual) opinion is presupposition.
    It was a particularly notable piece of malicious vacuity, aimed at a particular target. Hence, an ad hominem — i.e. “to the person”.

    While I can’t speak for Ned, your paraphrase is actually quite ignorant and disparaging of what I believe, not to mention disingenuous

    Heh. Here I address Ned about what Ned believes (in mirror form to the original contention even!) and you think I’m addressing what you believe?
    It’s one thing to make a type I error, but when the basis for it is so specious, it’s bizarre.

    Let’s try here, not just fight, or wish to be right.

    There’s nothing substantive to engage in Ned’s incoherent and bigoted opinings. All I can do is address their nature.
    Ned is ‘not even wrong’, and saying a stupid thing for a stupid reason is hardly the indication of a non-dysfunctional mind.
    If logicians deconvert, do they perforce lose their logical ability due to their newly-dysfunctional minds? :)

  125. John Morales says:

    Our posting crossed. I did respond to Ned.
    People are not logical, logic is a cognitive tool that humans developed.
    You should understand
    that logic has come a ways since the days of Plato and Aristotle.
    Russell, for example, was one of the founders of analytical philosophy.
    Do you seriously think Ned’s contention holds any water, by any objective measure?

  126. John Morales says:

    John, that science examines reality does not make its propositions true.

    No, but it makes the internet possible.
    The point is that in science, one can’t just say then a miracle occurs.

    PS Ned’s link led to a page with “No posts match your query. Show all posts”.
    Probably just as well, I suppose.

  127. cl says:

    Here I address Ned about what Ned believes (in mirror form to the original contention even!) and you think I’m addressing what you believe?

    No, that’s not what I thought. I clarified lest you – or any other readers – mistakely believe that I actually do believe as you paraphrased.

    You should understand that logic has come a ways since the days of Plato and Aristotle.

    What besides the assumption that I don’t understand such could have possibly motivated your comment? What do you think your comment gains? Do you mean to imply that my position is no longer valid because time somehow erases logic? Elaborate here.

    Do you seriously think Ned’s contention holds any water, by any objective measure?

    Do I think Russell has a dysfunctional mind because he apparently didn’t understand Aristotle’s argument and that was one thing that led to his atheism? No. I just came to properly understand Aristotle’s argument myself, at least I think I did. Really, I wish you’d do the same instead of link to silly cartoons and videos that mock others who think differently, but hey – who cares. It’s the internet.
    *****
    By “do the same” I don’t mean agree with me; I mean, at least show that you understand the argument, and justify the position you hold.

  128. John Morales says:

    Elaborate here.

    What’s to say? Plato 2400 years ago. Aristotle, student of Plato.
    Neither were Christians, by the way. Evidently, such beliefs do not lead to Christianity.

    … my position is no longer valid because time somehow erases logic?

    We are a little more informed about reality than was the case 2400 years ago. I give them credit for being stepping-stones on the way to formal logic, and even science (via natural philosophy),
    If their speculations about biology were on a par with their cosmological speculations, then they were not even near the ball park.
    Reality is a great more deal complicated than they would have imagined.

    … at least show that you understand the argument, and justify the position you hold.

    The argument is summarised in that video you deride. “Things can’t just have happened, there must be a Maker”.
    How each version of this simple conceit is expressed may change the specifics of why it’s fallacious. In this most succint form, it’s clearly just an argument from incredulity.
    Not … sophisticated.
    You can’t know things “can’t just have happened”. Right there and then you lose me.
    I have only two de-facto provisional presuppositions: that there is an external reality, and that I can only gain access to it via sense-impressions (including the subjective, of course).
    I do not presuppose anything else; it presents no impediment, fundamental or otherwise, towards the acquisition and employment of logical reasoning.
    On the contrary, I propose that unwarranted presuppositions predispose one to conceptual illusions.

  129. John Morales says:

    Elaborate here.

    What’s to say? Plato 2400 years ago. Aristotle, student of Plato.
    Neither were Christians, by the way. Evidently, such beliefs do not lead to Christianity.

    … my position is no longer valid because time somehow erases logic?

    We are a little more informed about reality than was the case 2400 years ago. I give them credit for being stepping-stones on the way to formal logic, and even science (via natural philosophy),
    If their speculations about biology were on a par with their cosmological speculations, then they were not even near the ball park.
    Reality is a great more deal complicated than they would have imagined.

    … at least show that you understand the argument, and justify the position you hold.

    The argument is summarised in that video you deride. “Things can’t just have happened, there must be a Maker”.
    How each version of this simple conceit is expressed may change the specifics of why it’s fallacious. In this most succint form, it’s clearly just an argument from incredulity.
    Not … sophisticated.
    You can’t know things “can’t just have happened”. Right there and then you lose me.
    I have only two de-facto provisional presuppositions: that there is an external reality, and that I can only gain access to it via sense-impressions (including the subjective, of course).
    I do not presuppose anything else; it presents no impediment, fundamental or otherwise, towards the acquisition and employment of logical reasoning.
    On the contrary, I propose that unwarranted presuppositions predispose one to conceptual illusions.

  130. John Morales says:

    cl, here is a better-expressed and developed version of what I mean to say above: Symbolic logic.

  131. cl says:

    The argument is summarised in that video you deride. “Things can’t just have happened, there must be a Maker”.

    Well then I guess you’ve got it all figured out and you don’t even need to read the posts. But, I thought you were here to learn? You seem pretty determined to teach.

    How each version of this simple conceit is expressed may change the specifics of why it’s fallacious.

    Right. “It’s fallacious,” he cries, yet didn’t / doesn’t (?) even understand Aristotle’s argument. I’m not mocking you John, I’m telling you straight forward that if you’ve actually thought his argument through, you can’t arrive at the conclusions you’re giving us. You can arrive at the conclusion of Unmoved Mover, something from nothing, or actual infinite regress (which may or may not be an instance of something from nothing).
    Those are the three options that argument seems to lead to. If you have another that doesn’t fall under those wings, I’m all for it. If you can show why the argument is flawed instead of just asserting your opinion, I’m all for it. If not, quit wasting everybody’s time and let’s get on to the next thing.

    Right there and then you lose me… I propose that unwarranted presuppositions predispose one to conceptual illusions.

    Who said anything about unwarranted presuppositions? Please, just read the links. Or not.

  132. John Morales says:

    But, I thought you were here to learn? You seem pretty determined to teach.

    I refer you to my #87: 5. No need to presume. As I posted earlier, I’m here to exchange views and for mutual criticism of ideas..
    As for teaching, do you mean I provide references and citations as a matter of routine; or do you mean that justifying my criticism is somehow a mode of pedagogy?

    If you can show why the argument is flawed instead of just asserting your opinion …

    It would’ve been easier to present said argument, in succint form, than to post many times over after I first said I didn’t know what it is.

    I’m not mocking you John, I’m telling you straight forward that if you’ve actually thought his argument through, you can’t arrive at the conclusions you’re giving us. You can arrive at the conclusion of Unmoved Mover, something from nothing, or actual infinite regress (which may or may not be an instance of something from nothing).
    […]
    Who said anything about unwarranted presuppositions?

    Are you assuming 2. Things cannot move without a cause.? Is it warranted?

    I’m all for it. If not, quit wasting everybody’s time and let’s get on to the next thing.

    The overwhelming bulk of my comments are responses to other comments.
    That said, by all means, let’s move on.
    This has become boring, and has nothing to do with the ostensible topic of the post, which is “humans cannot acceptably prove God(s)”.
    You get little sympathy from me on that score.

  133. cl says:

    As for teaching, do you mean I provide references and citations as a matter of routine; or do you mean that justifying my criticism is somehow a mode of pedagogy?

    No, I mean that it feels like you’re just here to continually re-assert what you believe are flaws in other people’s reasoning. Yet you offer no explanation as to why. That’s what’s boring to me. You wanna come here and tell me I’m an idiot with your little video? Okay then, show where I’ve erred. I don’t know how many more times it needs to be said. If you think you’ve got something better, by all means, let’s hear it. Don’t just imply that 2400 years somehow changes logic, or that Aristotle’s inaccessibility to modern knowledge somehow hurts his argument. That’s closer to a textbook ad hominem than what Ned said.
    And, I don’t know how else to tell you that you’ve NOT justified your criticism. You offered some equation that you claim disproves an argument I don’t believe in. No offense, but your criticism is for the most part juvenile – regardless of however eloquent or articulate it might be on the exterior. All you’ve done is assert charges of special pleading, or express your negative opinions of those who agree with Aristotle’s argument.

    Are you assuming 2. Things cannot move without a cause.? Is it warranted?

    You can know my positions on the argument if you read the links.

    It would’ve been easier to present said argument, in succint form, than to post many times over after I first said I didn’t know what it is.

    John, don’t be rude. The first thing you should’ve done when it became apparent I was talking about Aristotle’s argument was read the links. Instead, you keep going on. You want to exchange and criticize ideas you say? Very well. By all means, read the posts, and criticize them.
    I gave you two links. What you do with them is on you. If you think I’ve went wrong somewhere, let me know, in those threads. I’ve already demonstrated why your best hypothetical evidence for God falls short.

  134. cl says:

    As for teaching, do you mean I provide references and citations as a matter of routine; or do you mean that justifying my criticism is somehow a mode of pedagogy?

    No, I mean that it feels like you’re just here to continually re-assert what you believe are flaws in other people’s reasoning. Yet you offer no explanation as to why. That’s what’s boring to me. You wanna come here and tell me I’m an idiot with your little video? Okay then, show where I’ve erred. I don’t know how many more times it needs to be said. If you think you’ve got something better, by all means, let’s hear it. Don’t just imply that 2400 years somehow changes logic, or that Aristotle’s inaccessibility to modern knowledge somehow hurts his argument. That’s closer to a textbook ad hominem than what Ned said.
    And, I don’t know how else to tell you that you’ve NOT justified your criticism. You offered some equation that you claim disproves an argument I don’t believe in. No offense, but your criticism is for the most part juvenile – regardless of however eloquent or articulate it might be on the exterior. All you’ve done is assert charges of special pleading, or express your negative opinions of those who agree with Aristotle’s argument.

    Are you assuming 2. Things cannot move without a cause.? Is it warranted?

    You can know my positions on the argument if you read the links.

    It would’ve been easier to present said argument, in succint form, than to post many times over after I first said I didn’t know what it is.

    John, don’t be rude. The first thing you should’ve done when it became apparent I was talking about Aristotle’s argument was read the links. Instead, you keep going on. You want to exchange and criticize ideas you say? Very well. By all means, read the posts, and criticize them.
    I gave you two links. What you do with them is on you. If you think I’ve went wrong somewhere, let me know, in those threads. I’ve already demonstrated why your best hypothetical evidence for God falls short.

  135. Anonymous says:

    John Morales

    I’ve already demonstrated why your best hypothetical evidence for God falls short.

    Well then. Congratulations.
    You’ve determined that the best evidence I can muster for what I imagine to be your god-concept falls short of reasonability.
    That’s one reason for why I’m an agnostic towards knowledge of deities, and atheistic towards belief in deities.
    I typically err on the side of caution, of course. It’s an useful heuristic.

    By all means, read the posts, and criticize them.

    Right, just checked your page.
    Asking “what caused God” suggests the skeptic possibly accepts the premise that all objects require causes. Yet, if we accept that all objects require causes, it seems we must deny the possibility of eternal objects. This means nothing is allowed to exist uncaused, which establishes an infinite regress, because if everything needs a cause, nothing could ever get started. Further, if we deny the possibility of eternal objects, we must also swallow the seemingly logically impossible premise that something came from nothing, because unless something always existed, then everything came from nothing.
    1. “Yet, if we accept that all objects require causes.”
    Translation:
    If we accept (as true)
    1. ∀xCx. [C=caused]
    2. “it seems we must deny the possibility of eternal objects.”
    Translation:
    2. ∀xCx → ¬∃xEx [E=eternal]
    3. “This means nothing is allowed to exist uncaused.”
    Translation: This is just 1, restated.
    * Proposition 1 is clearly conditional.
    * The inferential basis for the purported * inference 2 is unstated.
    * Lemma 3 is based on a circular argument.
    I see fatal problems right there.
    Not much point in continuing analysis, since it’s flawed right there.

  136. John Morales says:

    Oops, forgot the symbolic translation of 3.
    3. “This means nothing is allowed to exist uncaused.”
    Translation:
    3. ¬∃x¬Cx.
    This is just 1, restated.

  137. cl says:

    You’ve conflated perfunctory musings with the argument premises, which you haven’t even addressed.

    Not much point in continuing analysis, since it’s flawed right there.

    Then please don’t; I’ve got no more time to toy around with you, especially since it doesn’t even feel like you’re trying.

  138. John Morales says:

    cl,

    I’d like to NOT use a syllogism, because of the problem with quantifiers already mentioned. That’s why I wrote two full posts. Further, no offense, but I kinda tire of your equations. We should be able to talk.

    I suspect this is because the natural language vagueness and ambiguity disappears when your contentions are expressed symbolically, which does your musings no favours.

    You’ve conflated perfunctory musings with the argument premises, which you haven’t even addressed.

    I address this quote (my emphasis) Asking “what caused God” suggests the skeptic possibly accepts the premise that all objects require causes. Yet, if we accept that all objects require causes
    Quite evidently, unless you now claim this is not one of your premises, I have indeed addressed at least one.

    I’ve got no more time to toy around with you, especially since it doesn’t even feel like you’re trying.

    Toying around with me, eh?
    As for trying, you ever seen a good squash player engage a casual player? What you sense is restraint.

  139. John Morales says:

    cl,

    I’d like to NOT use a syllogism, because of the problem with quantifiers already mentioned. That’s why I wrote two full posts. Further, no offense, but I kinda tire of your equations. We should be able to talk.

    I suspect this is because the natural language vagueness and ambiguity disappears when your contentions are expressed symbolically, which does your musings no favours.

    You’ve conflated perfunctory musings with the argument premises, which you haven’t even addressed.

    I address this quote (my emphasis) Asking “what caused God” suggests the skeptic possibly accepts the premise that all objects require causes. Yet, if we accept that all objects require causes
    Quite evidently, unless you now claim this is not one of your premises, I have indeed addressed at least one.

    I’ve got no more time to toy around with you, especially since it doesn’t even feel like you’re trying.

    Toying around with me, eh?
    As for trying, you ever seen a good squash player engage a casual player? What you sense is restraint.

  140. cl says:

    I suspect this is because the natural language vagueness and ambiguity disappears when your contentions are expressed symbolically, which does your musings no favours.

    Yep, you got it: it’s all a big game / conspiracy. I’m out to deceive you so you’ll think like me! Please.

    Quite evidently, unless you now claim this is not one of your premises, I have indeed addressed at least one.

    John, the part of the argument where I discuss the flawed reasoning atheists typically bring to the argument is not the argument itself. All you’ve proven with your logical operators is that indeed, the typical atheist response doesn’t make sense.
    What you’ve done is tantamount to critiquing the teaser of a movie, or the abstract of a paper. The parts of the argument you’ve fisked out are not the argument; they’re components of perfunctory discussion about the argument. You’ve not even addressed the argument itself. You’ve not even mentioned any of the key phrases the argument depends on. Who in their right mind should respect that strategy?

    What you sense is restraint.

    I know rite! Because you’re like, so smart, if you weren’t restraining yourself you could really dash me and my sophistry to bits! With all those fancy-pants operators and obscure words! Please.
    Gimme a break. If you want to go through the posts and discuss them with me in a cordial manner, by all means, please do so. If not, don’t. I’ve not got time to even read about your opinions.

  141. John Morales says:

    The parts of the argument you’ve fisked out are not the argument; they’re components of perfunctory discussion about the argument.

    Really.
    —begin quote—
    Asking “what caused God” suggests the skeptic possibly accepts the premise that all objects require causes. Yet, if we accept that all objects require causes, it seems we must deny the possibility of eternal objects. This means nothing is allowed to exist uncaused, which establishes an infinite regress, because if everything needs a cause, nothing could ever get started. Further, if we deny the possibility of eternal objects, we must also swallow the seemingly logically impossible premise that something came from nothing, because unless something always existed, then everything came from nothing.
    Granted, if we accept the possibility of eternal objects, we also run into serious comprehensive difficulties, but is there any undeniable reason to categorize them as logically impossible? Besides the fact that I can’t get my head around the concept, I say no. I shouldn’t deny the possibility of something simply on account of my own inability to conceptualize it; that would be an argument from personal incredulity, of little worth to cogency, so it follows that I accept the possibility of eternal objects.
    —-end quote—-
    I submit anything that says so it follows that indicates a conclusion to an argument just presented.
    Note the above is only two paragraphs of a lengthy post, too!
    Were I to fisk everything, at every level from the vagueness of your terminology, to the soundness of your premises, to your inferences, my critique would be multiple values of the word-count of your original post on it.

    With all those fancy-pants operators and obscure words! Please.

    You might to similar effect shrug off mathematical symbolism when discussing mathematical proofs. You’re purporting to have offered a logical proof.
    More personally, re

    If you want to go through the posts and discuss them with me in a cordial manner, by all means, please do so. If not, don’t.

    My manner tends to be dispassionate charity towards acquaintances. Cordiality I reserve for those I find deserving.
    You’re a screenwriter, I’m pretty sure you know what sentiment the expression “I’ve got no more time to toy around with you” represents when you use it.
    Is that an example of cordiality?

  142. cl says:

    Were I to fisk everything, at every level from the vagueness of your terminology, to the soundness of your premises, to your inferences, my critique would be multiple values of the word-count of your original post on it.

    Who has the problem if you can’t express your criticisms succinctly?

  143. John Morales says:

    Here is an example of vagueness of terminology and ambiguity implicit in natural language:

    … so it follows that I accept the possibility of eternal objects.

    What exactly is meant by ‘eternal object’?
    We know the universe has (at least) one time dimension — this is to what we refer to as ‘time’. Time being part of the universe, the question is whether it’s even meaningful to speak of time outside space-time. Is there space outside of space? :)
    I suggest a definition suitable to your proposed argument would be along the lines of: ‘something is eternal only if it’s implied by time existing’.
    That is, something (x) can be said to be eternal (Ex) if whenever something else (t) called time is true (exists), x is also true.
    That is, (x ∧ t) → Ex
    Which brings me back to the point I made above — that definition asserts that time itself is eternal.
    Do you note how the symbology
    makes it obvious?

  144. cl says:

    Why did you post that comment?

  145. cl says:

    Why did you post that comment?

  146. D says:

    Oh, effing eff, I’ve been wondering why comments haven’t been showing up to me since my last salvo, and only today did I see that little “Show more comments” at the bottom. Damn and blast!
    No way I can catch up, just thought I’d say that I fell out of touch. Have fun, boys!

  147. John Morales says:

    For one thing, as it says in the opening, it’s an example of that to which I referred in my previous to it.
    For another, I’ve just shown that a common-sense definition implies that time is eternal; since you’ve also contended that eternal things are exempt from causation, time would hence qualify and any need to invoke a cause for it be vitiated.
    I haven’t seen a definition from you that avoids this problem.

  148. John Morales says:

    Oh hi D!
    cl and I are having a civil (if perhaps not cordial) exchange. :)
    What do you think of my #127?
    It appears that cl considers it a bit of a non sequitur, I thought it was rather relevant.

  149. cl says:

    Are we on the same page regarding potency yet?
    There’s a reason I keep saying read the posts, and it’s because the language used in them takes care of at least some and potentially all of your concerns as you’ve expressed them. If your only concern is that some word or phrase might be vague, all you need to do is ask (as you have). Note that you thinking something vague is a far cry from the “special pleading” and “contradiction” charges, not to mention your underhanded implication that my dislike for your use of logical operators was in this case motivated by desire to maintain ambiguity. I loathe the very thought.

    It appears that cl considers it a bit of a non sequitur, I thought it was rather relevant.

    I note that you feel my definition of “eternal” is potentially problematic, but that people can quibble over definitions is a given in any argument. For now just parse “eternal” as “existing without cause” and parse “without cause” as “without prior transition from potency to act.” Now, will you succinctly express your comments and/or criticisms to Aristotle’s argument as I’ve presented it, in that thread?

  150. D says:

    John, I think you hit the nail on the head. The word “eternal object” makes sense to some people at an intuitive level, but it doesn’t make sense to me. I wrote the following as a blog post, but never got around to posting it; maybe you’ll find something neat in it.
    In trying to articulate just how many ways God does not make sense to me, I’ve come up with a few devices. One of these seemed good enough to share. I like to think it’s about equal parts Zen koan and philosophical psalm. If that seems like good times, then you just might enjoy this:
    What came before everything?
    Before the Big Bang, before stars and planets and our Earth, what was there?
    We are told that it is God, and that God is eternal, so he needs no time.
    God is timeless, we are told, so he is able to exist beyond time.
    But time is only a measurement of change.
    For time to pass, something must change, either in position, or in composition, or in form. Without change, there is no time.
    Timelessness is changelessness.
    So if God is eternal, then God is timeless.
    And if God is timeless, then God is changeless.
    So if there was God “before” the Universe, then there was no time before the Universe.
    And if there was no time before the Universe, then there was no “before the Universe” to speak of.
    And if God is changeless, then what changed to make the Universe come into being from that timeless void?
    God could not have begun desiring to create the world, for to begin desiring something is to have not desired it before. This is change. God is changeless.
    To start creating something is to have not been creating something before, and to have created it after. This is change. God is changeless.
    Time is part of existence, time is an inextricable part of everything.
    Caused things, changed things, are caused and changed by other caused and changed things. For a “before,” there must first be “time.” And if there is time, then there is change, because time is a measurement of change. Without change, no time can be measured.
    An eternal and changeless God does not explain time, or change, or existence.
    And if God experiences no time, and undergoes no change, then what makes us think that he exists?
    So… what came before everything?
    It is a nonsense question.
    How far back does change go? And how can we know?
    These are better questions.

  151. D says:

    John, I think you hit the nail on the head. The word “eternal object” makes sense to some people at an intuitive level, but it doesn’t make sense to me. I wrote the following as a blog post, but never got around to posting it; maybe you’ll find something neat in it.
    In trying to articulate just how many ways God does not make sense to me, I’ve come up with a few devices. One of these seemed good enough to share. I like to think it’s about equal parts Zen koan and philosophical psalm. If that seems like good times, then you just might enjoy this:
    What came before everything?
    Before the Big Bang, before stars and planets and our Earth, what was there?
    We are told that it is God, and that God is eternal, so he needs no time.
    God is timeless, we are told, so he is able to exist beyond time.
    But time is only a measurement of change.
    For time to pass, something must change, either in position, or in composition, or in form. Without change, there is no time.
    Timelessness is changelessness.
    So if God is eternal, then God is timeless.
    And if God is timeless, then God is changeless.
    So if there was God “before” the Universe, then there was no time before the Universe.
    And if there was no time before the Universe, then there was no “before the Universe” to speak of.
    And if God is changeless, then what changed to make the Universe come into being from that timeless void?
    God could not have begun desiring to create the world, for to begin desiring something is to have not desired it before. This is change. God is changeless.
    To start creating something is to have not been creating something before, and to have created it after. This is change. God is changeless.
    Time is part of existence, time is an inextricable part of everything.
    Caused things, changed things, are caused and changed by other caused and changed things. For a “before,” there must first be “time.” And if there is time, then there is change, because time is a measurement of change. Without change, no time can be measured.
    An eternal and changeless God does not explain time, or change, or existence.
    And if God experiences no time, and undergoes no change, then what makes us think that he exists?
    So… what came before everything?
    It is a nonsense question.
    How far back does change go? And how can we know?
    These are better questions.

  152. jim says:

    D, you consistently breathe new life into the conversation. Loving the logic. Carry on! *watching from the sidelines*

  153. cl says:

    D,

    How far back does change go? And how can we know?

    The best we can do is infer seemingly logical options then apply parsimony: unless you take jim’s position (change is eternal), change must go back to something that does not change.
    If I don’t grant it an entire post (I’d been looking for some good thoughts to kick Pt. III off with; you and jim have supplied some), I’m going to respond to your comment (and aspects of jim’s email) in the thread about Aristotle’s argument.
    If anyone wants to carry on, I ask that you do it there, though, ultimately it doesn’t really matter. I’m just trying to keep the thoughts somewhat organized.

  154. D says:

    …change must go back to something that does not change.

    Says who? How do you know? What if it doesn’t?
    We know that vacuum fluctuation occurs. If that’s the case, then Krauss’ “universe from nothing” makes the most sense: given enough time, any amount of whatever can come from nothing, with the net energy of existence staying at precisely zero – existence, in aggregate, is still nothing, it’s just a particularly interesting nothing. This may be refined later, and hopefully it will be further developed even in my own lifetime. What’s your standard of proof for a creator? Or do you just think that there ought to be an intelligence “behind everything?”
    My question, ultimately, is the same one that I pose to Gideon: if it is the case that you are wrong, how would you go about figuring it out, what would that kind of proof look like, and what would you do after that? (And keep in mind that if there’s no point in living, then there’s no point in dying, either.)

  155. D says:

    Oh, and why is the creator itself excluded from the “everything” that requires explanation? Why not have an infinite regress of increasingly awesome grand-gods and great-grand-gods, each with a whole mess o’ kids running about and telling mortals what to do?

  156. cl says:

    D,
    Your comments imply that you’ve forgotten or retracted your earlier statement that you thought I “did a pretty good job” of covering the options. Is that the case?

  157. cl says:

    D,
    Your comments imply that you’ve forgotten or retracted your earlier statement that you thought I “did a pretty good job” of covering the options. Is that the case?

  158. D says:

    Yeah, I guess I’d be retracting it. It was a genuine opinion when I said it, I just have more questions now.

  159. cl says:

    Then, by all means, justify the retraction!

    We know that vacuum fluctuation occurs. If that’s the case, then Krauss’ “universe from nothing” makes the most sense: given enough time, any amount of whatever can come from nothing, with the net energy of existence staying at precisely zero – existence, in aggregate, is still nothing, it’s just a particularly interesting nothing.

    See? There we go again: makes the most sense. I’ve already explained that sans justification or explanation, I care not for your opinion of what makes the most sense, or anybody else’s.
    We know vacuum fluctuation occurs? How do we know what we term vacuum fluctuation occurs in a vacuum?
    Given enough time, any amount of whatever can come from nothing? Existence is really just an “interesting nothing?” I’m really trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here girl, but how is that not sheer sophistry?

    This may be refined later, and hopefully it will be further developed even in my own lifetime.

    So, for now, you just sort of accept its provisional truth on faith? How do you justify that after
    telling me a few days ago that you withhold belief in atheism and cessation because neither are checkable?
    Lastly, I’m not surprised that “something from nothing” would come into fashion after 2,500 years of scientific and philosophical inability to respond to Aristotle. I am surprised that somebody of your intellectual standards would go that route – even provisionally.
    So much more to say, so little time to say it.

  160. Hey Cl, I was wondering what you thought about my mock conversion essay “Why I Became a Christian”. I think it is inadvertently a good submission for my best evidence for God (and Christianity).

  161. cl says:

    Peter,

    I more or less agree. It took me a moment to realize it was April Fool’s writing. I think some of the arguments are properly framed. Of course, I think others not as much so. You definitely show that you understand the basics. I’d even say you did a better job articulating the arguments than some theists who believe them. Nonetheless, I’d only give it a 4 or 5 out of 10—if I were to be evaluating it seriously.

  162. Hey, thanks, I’ll take what I can get. What do you think is flawed, and how do you think I could improve? Which defenses of theism would you rate the highest and why?

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