Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Old Maverick Philosopher post on the Lewontin and Nagel quotes from my book

I am redating this post, which links to this Vallicella post. 

Is all the obstinacy, all the recalcitrance in the face of evidence, on the side of the Christians in religious debates? Try this statement by Richard Lewontin, which I quoted in my book:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community of unsubstantiated just-so stories [in evolutionary biology] because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material causes, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who believes in God can believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen.

I mean, again as I pointed out in my book, what if a Christian were to say this:

Our willingness to accept biblical teachings that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between faith and unbelief. We take the side of Scripture in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the existence of unsubstantiated just so stories in Scripture, because we have a prior commitment to Scripture's inerrancy. It is not that the methods and institutions of biblical study somehow compel us to accept only interpretations which are in accordance with the Bible's inerrancy, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to biblical inerrancy to create a method of biblical study that [produces explanations that are consistent with inerrancy, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, our commitment to inerrancy is absolute, for we cannot allow doubt to get its foot in the door. For anyone doubting the Word of God in any respect will end up doubting it in all respects.

Wouldn't people say, "See those irrational Christians, they are prepared to believe the Bible no matter what."


And this one by Thomas Nagel:

In speaking of the fear of religion, I don't mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper - namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God, and naturally, hope that I'm right about my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.

What if a Christian were to say that he or she was afraid of atheism using similar terms. Wouldn't the atheists be all over that Christian, claiming once again that this is an admission that Christians only believe what they believe as a result of wishful thinking?

Atheists very often come across to me as being incredibly intellectually arrogant, and I think even if I were to become an atheist tomorrow, I could never persuade myself that this kind of arrogance is justified. And yes, I have criticized similar views on the part of Christians as well (the "there are no atheists" position).

105 comments:

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic,

1) Lewontin seems to be speaking of "scientific claims... an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material causes" as well as "the regularities of nature," and contrasting that with opening the door to supernatural explanations/acts of God which lead to a limitlness number of possible supernatural hypotheses that lack demonstrability. Many scientists, including Christians who are evolutionists, like Dr. Richard Collins a Human Genome Project leader, will agree with Lewontin that methodological naturalism is a necessary component of science, giving reasons similar to what Lewontin wrote. Also to put the quotation in context please read the paragraph that preceded the portion you cited. It can be read at Evowiki, here.

2) Nagel didn't claim to be speaking for all atheists: he uses "I," not "we." Speaking for myself, I would love for theism to be true.

(I would also love it if philosophy could prove something via its word juggling, concerning the Big Questions.)

And Vic, you seem to be developing a penchant for citing prejudicial statements, perhaps in reaction to the way Beversluis cited prejudicial statements from Lewis's works. (Heck, did you read how Lewis portrayed atheists and everybody else except Christians in his Pilgrim's Regress novel that was composed soon after he became a Christian?)

At any rate, you might want to keep in mind that the ultimate put down is the eternal one that Christianity and Islam aim at their opponents, overtly or covertly. When spoken overtly the ready-made vocabulary of religious contempt includes words that used to be spoken like the "N" word was to Black people:

“Heretic!”
“Blasphemer!”
“Idolater!”
“Infidel!”
“Anti-Christ!”
“Apostate!”
“Schizmatic!”
“Demon Deluded Servant of Satan!”
“As Fit to Be Fried as Lucifer’s Lamb Chops!”

It does strike me as interesting that if any Christian honestly believed that all non-Christians or all people who spoke a word against God or against Jesus or against the Holy Spirit or against Allah, were going to be cast into eternal hell, then shouldn't Christians pity them and speak kindly to them, knowing for a fact that all unbelievers are walking dead men "condemned already" per John 3, or Mark 16?

Conversely, shouldn't Christians be calm, even overjoyed, that they have all eternity in their back pocket? So why get aggravated about anything at all in this life if you're a Christian? This world is merely temporal, less than a blink of the eye in eternity. Your real home is heaven, not earth. Your real name is the one written in the Book of Life. However, I suspect that the "hiddenness of God" remains a frustration for Christians, perhaps even a problem equal to all the rest of life's aggravations that everyone suffers each day, along with the fact that good and bad, and pains and happiness, happen to both believers and nonbelievers. So God remains hidden, and Christians remain, well...as antsy as the rest of us.

Of course in a strictly human sense, it's disconcerting to anyone of any beliefs when they encounter people who don't agree with their beliefs whether they are statements about politics, religion, sex, or a zillion other matters, we still feel a bit of consternation when our beliefs collide with others.

As for myself, I keep in mind that life goes on and I can't stop the hand of time from passing, just as I can't stop questioning God's hiddenness, or the inexactitudes and confusion of all holy books, or the less than sterling behaviors of believers as well as unbelievers throughout history. So I'm here, and whatever happens after I die will be bonus. (I honestly don't fear hell, because I can't imagine a God who acts on a lower standard of forgiveness and intelligence and calmness than I do. I can't even imagine condemning another human being to eternally suffer a bad toothache, let alone eternal hell nor even allow someone to eternally stand alone in a corner. Instead of hell, I'm more perturbed by the uncertainty of it all.)

Can any of us blame other people for being perturbed by differences of belief (on a host of subjects) or for being perturbed that we all live on an increasingly paved and polluted lifeboat hanging in a cosmos filled with dangerous radiation, novas, asteroids, roving black holes, and a host of other dangers (for instance, tens of thousands die from being bitten by snakes each year). I wouldn't mind living in a world where more people admited that God for some inscrutible reason, remains hidden, and there remain more questions than answers. I wouldn't mind living in a world where beliefs in an "inerrant" Bible or an "infallible" pope or church, or "infallible" mullahs, were questioned more, and where more moderates existed in all the world's religions and philosophies. Instead, generations of fundamentalists seem to rise up from youth, and only attain moderation latter in life. I'd like to see more time spent admitting difficulties of the meanings of words and communication and human understanding, and more time spent educating and learning about things that we ALL can learn TOGETHER, rather than setting up walls of sectarian "perfect, infallible" beliefs that allegedly teach us all the secrets of the cosmos and afterlife and God, and how everyone who disagrees is damned.

The final irony is that you and I and host of other disputants and fellow believers agree on the value of civilization over barbarism. So we are all allies more than any of us seems to acknowledge or suspect.

Victor Reppert said...

My point is simply that it is unfair to argue that "obstinacy of belief" is something limited to religious perspectives, and that it is a huge mistake to idealize the rationality of one's own thought processes. I think Lewontin is thinking of what someone influenced by science can accept as true.

I don't think the condemnations Christians have hurled at their opponents are any worse than those of atheists against theists; the difference is the ontological terms in which these epithets are expressed. My point is that the whole debate can, and should, take place with more humility and less arrogance on all sides (you seem to have overlooked the reference to my criticisms of the presuppositionalists who deny that there are atheists).

Blue Devil Knight said...

Lewontin is selling science short. Qua neuroscientist, I am not a methodological naturalist because of an a priori commitment, but because history has shown the alternative to be lacking, to stunt scientific progress. If it were an a priori commitment, that would signal a radical departure from the scientific spirit.

With strong evidence to the contrary, any good scientist would admit that naturalism was wrong. Science would need to be redefined. Certain undeniable public miracles, such as the dead coming to life and telling loved ones to convert would shatter scientism and make most reasonable people Christians, or at least nonnaturalists. All of the visible stars in the sky rearranging to clearly spell "Christ loves you" would certainly be reason for pause.

The lack of such evidence, given the pool of people who would be converted by it, is itself in need of explanation by the devout. I wouldn't be surprised if there were hundreds of pages written about it by theologians.

Alethes Ginosko said...

BDK said: Lewontin is selling science short. Qua neuroscientist, I am not a methodological naturalist because of an a priori commitment, but because history has shown the alternative to be lacking, to stunt scientific progress.

Please direct me to the evidence for the claim that supernaturalism has historically stunted scientific progress?

There is an entire list of theistic scientists that includes some the greatest scientific innovators that have lived (Dalton, Faraday, Boyle, Pascal, etc.).

Mike D said...

This discussion is heading toward a false dicotomy between supernaturalism and philosophical naturalism. I suspect the real distinction is between a theistic dualism and methodological dualsim. The strength of Christian theism is its ability to live in the real world while affirming the supernatural. Theism can impede science when it drifts to mystical supernaturalism that denies the mechanics of the physical world. This is wrong-headed. Supernaturalism surely would stunt scientific progress. However, faith in God and belief in the supernatural need not.

Alethes Ginosko said...

This just shows my utmost ignorance on the subject of philosophy, but what exactly is the difference between supernaturalism and faith in God and belief in the supernatural? I see no difference. It makes sense to me that one can be a supernaturalist(whether he is a theist or not) and believe in the system that is the 'natural.'

JD Walters said...

I don't need to remind BDK that 'naturalism' means different things to different people. Beyond issues of definition, however, I should point out that naturalism (me and BDK probably mean the same thing here) has at times obstructed the advance of science as well. Think of behaviorism, driven by the attempt to reduce human mental life to publicly observable behavioral events, all in the name of science. Or think of scientists who found quantum theory shocking and unacceptable because it violated their intuitions of what a naturalistic worldview should look like.

"With strong evidence to the contrary, any good scientist would admit that naturalism was wrong."

Somehow I doubt it. For one thing there is no such thing as a 'good scientist', if by good you mean a perfectly objective, reasonable, humble and open researches lacking in bias, emotional, religious or otherwise. Also, naturalism means different things to different people as I said and it is the glory (or the shame) of naturalism to constantly revise its fundamental components or beliefs in light of conflicting evidence (as in the case of quantum theory noted above). Even some anti-theistic scientists have argued that, if undeniable evidence of public miracles were found, that would not contradict naturalism, because these miracles would then be 'part of nature'. Same thing for 'scientifically' proving the existence of God. No evidence could be found that would contradict naturalism. It is just as much a belief system as Christian theism.

Mike D:
"The strength of Christian theism is its ability to live in the real world while affirming the supernatural."

To that I can only say Amen.

Steven Carr said...

Many Christians have indeed said that they did not want there to be no God - that they were happy being Christians and were scared of the alternative.

Nevertheless, despite these attitudes, they investigated the evidence and deconverted.

So if a Christian did say that he wanted there to be a God, and did not want atheism to be true, that would hardly mean that he was not also an intellectually honest person.

Steven Clauer said...

I wonder what the aim is of attacking naturalism? Is attacking naturalism mutually exclusive to giving epistemic justifications for God?
---"The way I know Christianity is true is first and foremost based on the witness of the holy spirit, in my heart." -- Epistemic justification for Christianity from William Craig---And to that I am responsible to justify naturalism as it has been thwarted onto me.

Then it follows, I believe Christianity is not true because I know it in my heart.

Out of D'souza, Zacharias, Plantinga, and Craig...Only plantinga is honest enough to say it is a belief and there is no argument for the existence of god.


To me it seems as if people, such as Craig, try to give equal footing for religion and science. I'd go so far as to say the deist argument for the uncased causer is maintained by Craig for the sake of ecumenicism.

Maybe someone can tell me the point of attacking naturalism while championing that truth is a matter of having private conversations with the holy spirit?

Or blatantly asserting the unnatural exists, and to wear that burden elucidates the springs of humility.
To me it sounds like people are using word generators to post.

Susan said...

Real atheists are much nicer than these famous ones you are trading barbs with. The fight is fun, but you do see that it is loved by both sides, right?

Ok, then, carry on ...

Gregory said...

Conversely, shouldn't Christians be calm, even overjoyed, that they have all eternity in their back pocket? So why get aggravated about anything at all in this life if you're a Christian? This world is merely temporal, less than a blink of the eye in eternity. Your real home is heaven, not earth. Your real name is the one written in the Book of Life. However, I suspect that the "hiddenness of God" remains a frustration for Christians, perhaps even a problem equal to all the rest of life's aggravations that everyone suffers each day, along with the fact that good and bad, and pains and happiness, happen to both believers and nonbelievers. So God remains hidden, and Christians remain, well...as antsy as the rest of us.

Conversely, shouldn't atheists be calm, even overjoyed, that they have all the earth in the back of their pocket? So why get aggravated about anything at all in this life if you're an atheist? This life is merely temporal, less than a blink of an eye in the backdrop of ages past. Your real home is on earth, not in heaven. Your real name is the one written on your birth certificate. However, I suspect the "evidence for God" remains a frustration for atheists, perhaps even a problem equal to all the rest of life's aggravations that everyone suffers each day, along with the fact that good and bad, and pains and happiness, happen to both Christians and atheists. So the "evidence for God" remains, and atheist remain...well, antsy like the rest of us.

Cole said...

I believe religion is based on insecurity. Especially the apologetics of William Lane Craig. If you read his book "Reasonable Faith" he has a chapter called "The Absurdity of Life Without God." What He is doing here is trying to create a need or void by talking of death and causing insecurity before he moves into his arguments for God. This is the method of every seducer. They will get to know you, find out your insecurities (or create them themselves) and then fill the void with themselves. They insinuate themselves and make it look like they are the answer to your problems. When the void is filled people fall in love. This is what I believe religion is based upon. It's for people who are insecure about themselves and death. People create a God helper out of insecurity. Instead of embracing death and loving themselves and others some people become obssessed with religion because they are insecure about themselves and death.

Victor Reppert said...

I hate to use Lewis as an example again, but he said that he was perfectly happy with mortality, and that he didn't want anything like life after death. Yet, he became a believer anyway. Because of the evidence (at least as he understood it?) That's what he says.

Cole said...

Dr. Reppert,

Didn't Lewis come up with the argument for God's existence based on human desire and need? This is what I'm referring to here. The need is created because of the insecurity of death and/or yourself.

Papalinton said...

Edward T. Babinski
"It does strike me as interesting that if any Christian honestly believed that all non-Christians or all people who spoke a word against God or against Jesus or against the Holy Spirit or against Allah, were going to be cast into eternal hell ...."

How many times does VR have to tell you, too, "This is a world-class example of circumstantial ad hominem. It is also a straw man. I've said over and over again that I'm an inclusivist with universalist sympathies. If I became a nonbeliever, and it turned out that Christianity was true after all, I wouldn't be automatically damned. Why do you insist on putting words into the mouths of Christians? "
"Can't you read? I said that I didn't think I would be damned if I stopped believing, and that I was an inclusivist with universalist sympathies. So, no fear of hell is not a factor in my continuing to be a Christian. I rejected soteriological exclusivism, the view that only Christians are going to heaven, in 1974, as a result of conversations a very traditional Catholic by the name of Joe Sheffer."

These are VR's responses to Articulett at: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/on-taking-outsider-test-for-faith-otf.html

And Ed, you as well as Articulett, me, John Loftus, and indeed every other atheist in the blogosphere, are simply not paying attention to what VR is telling you.

I too, would be very pleased for christian theism to be a regular source of information and knowledge, and if philosophy could prove issues concerning the Big Questions.

Papalinton said...

Mike D
"The strength of Christian theism is its ability to live in the real world while affirming the supernatural. "

If this were true. But christian theists are incapable of, and christian theism makes it difficult to, clearly demarcate that which is natural world and that which is supernatural. To imagine that real people in the natural world can actually socially engage and converse with putatively live entities from another dimension, on a daily basis, particularly on a Sunday, a day specifically set aside for visitation rights to the netherworld, can mingle with these entities across the natural/supernatural divide, is somewhat question begging, as to the mental health of those people.
"A man who believes that he eats his God we do not call him mad; a man who says he is jesus christ, we call mad." Claude Helvetius, French philosopher.

Mike D, you say, "However, faith in God and belief in the supernatural need not [impede science]."
If only that were the case. From the Scopes trial in the 1920's and the many trials up to Dover in the first decade of this century, and what is currently occurring in many State Legislatures, theists are consciously and precipitately attempting to do just that, to drive a wedge between people in the community on this issue of christian theism and science. These processes do nothing less than seek to impede science and to posit science as antithetical to christian belief. To think otherwise is foolish, immature and fatuous.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Cole
"They will get to know you, find out your insecurities (or create them themselves) and then fill the void with themselves."

This has been a christian psychological ploy, playing on one's emotions, since the advent of the christian mythos. How else could a fantasy be propagated without building into the memeplex such a powerful force to replicate itself. Insecurity, existential imbalances, family safety, are all powerful motivators onto which a story can be fabricated. Christianity is no less a legendizing accretion appropriates from a plethora of contemporaneous mythologies that flourished in the Middle East at the time of its manufacture.

Religion has always been in the business of creating the problem, and then providing the solution; very much in the manner protection rackets of the mafiosi were devised [We'll look after you against others, but if you don't pay up your dues, we'll break both your legs."]
Under those circumstances who could refuse the offer of salvation from a priest or protection from the boys?

Rasmus Møller said...

Cole and others,

Please read

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

it is very short. Somehow it is forgotten again and again.

BenYachov said...

>"With strong evidence to the contrary, any good scientist would admit that naturalism was wrong."

No he would merely describe the observed and tested/testable phenomena as another natural event.

BenYachov said...

>Didn't Lewis come up with the argument for God's existence based on human desire and need?

You are begging the question. God creating in us a desire for Him as proof he exists vs God is created by us in this godless universe to cope with the horror of death.

Lewis stated when he was a non-believer he was quite comfortable with mortality. The Epicurean argument against fearing death holds some force with some people.

PatrickH said...

All the visible stars rearranging themselves to spell "Christ loves you" would indeed give me pause. Give me pause in my faith, I mean.

Same thing with the dead coming to life and telling me to convert. I would be so shaken in my faith in the Risen Christ that I might consider suicide (with a note asking not to be resurrected).

All those kinds of events would do is show the universe up as some kind of sick practical joke. It would be like The Nine Billion Names of God without the great last sentence. A horrible, truly horrible anti-climax.

Blue Devil Knight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue Devil Knight said...

Surprisingly, I still agree with my comment.

Patrick, it wouldn't make you an atheist if those things happened, no? If so, you would be one strange atheist, and I would be (at least) an antinaturalist.

To the person asking about the failure of the alternate, I was thinking of creationism, (nonnaturalistic forms of) vitalism, and dualism.


Note also I am writing about methodological naturalism, not ontological naturalism. Qua scientist, I am a methodological naturalist. Qua person, I am a methodological dualist, ontological naturalist.

JD: behaviorism just shows that science can go astray. But to call that a failure of methodological naturalism would be a mistake. Behaviorism wasn't replaced by some supernatural alternative, but a better naturalistic alternative (and note also that behaviorism was never the norm among neuroscientists, who tend to understand that brains are sort of important things for explaining behavior).

OK it will be another 6 years before I reply to this thread again. I am more productive when I am not posting here....

Cole said...

Ben,

It is an insecurity of death and yourself. This is what creates the need. The evidence doesn't prove that God created us. It's not until I started believing in myself and loving myself that I started to get confidence. Taking this love to others from a position of power instead of isecurity only reinforces my self-esteem. It's a humble self-confidence. The Bible tries to get people to doubt themselves and lower their self-esteem so that they turn their life over to God and let Him manage it for them. In such a position of insecurity people become emotionally crippled and never grow up. I believe that one must learn to take control of their life so that they can grow up. I now accept the fact that I have only so much time to live and that life involves pain and separation. By embracing this I embrace life itself and accept everything about it. Depending on a belief in an afterlife or drowning myself in the moment to avoid pain is to despise reality, which is to despise life itself. I'm choosing to affirm life by confronting my mortality. What matters to me now is to live my days well and as fully as possible. I am converting the terrified, denial-type relationship to death into something active and positive as I am released from anxieties and fearful, timid responses by embracing death and not repressing it. To not do so would be to live in denial.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Cole
"It is an insecurity of death and yourself. This is what creates the need. ..................... To not do so would be to live in denial."

Deeply insightful, wonderfully cogent. The facility of your comment simply exudes great explanatory power. It is truly a candle in the dark of the christian alternative.

Cole said...

Thanks Papalinton. The way I see it is that life and death are inextricably intertwined. Death isn't something to be dreaded or repressed. This is birthed out of fear. If we are afraid of death then we are afraid of life. We must face reality from within, finding a way to embrace death as part of being alive. It is only from such a position that we begin to overcome the fear and break free from our bondage to the illusion that is Christ.

Gregory said...

I now accept the fact that I have only so much time to live and that life involves pain and separation. By embracing this I embrace life itself and accept everything about it.

It's amazing that atheists can accept the "pain" and "separation" of "life", but cannot accept "pain" and "separation" with a God (i.e. that "evil" makes it hard to believe that there's a Deity). It makes me wonder how sincere the "problem of evil" really is in the heart and mind of the skeptic.

It must also be pointed out that "fear" is healthy and natural. Atheists, as well as theists, do well to heed it. It is a grace given to us to avoid danger and unpleasantness.

Cole said...

Hi Gregory,

Yes some types of fear are good. But fearing death is what kept me in bondage and obsessed with religion. I'm learning to take control of my life and take responsibility instead of relying on an invisible person to manage my life for me. In short, I'm learning to be secure and be a man. I don't want to be a little sheep led to the slaughter. Rather, I'm learning to depend on myself and make my own pathway instead of following everybody else. Grateful to those who have helped me along the way by the way.

Mike Darus said...

Paplinton said, "If this were true. But christian theists are incapable of, and christian theism makes it difficult to, clearly demarcate that which is natural world and that which is supernatural."

Where do you get this stuff? The Christian theists I know and read seem completely capable of differentiating between talking to a friend and praying to God.

Ilíon said...

"... And yes, I have criticized similar views on the part of Christians as well (the "there are no atheists" position)."

Can *anyone* name even one atheist since ol' Fred N. bit the dust?

Most people in America, and the West in general, are "practical atheists". But practical atheism isn't the same as actual atheism.

Most (all?) self-described atheists -- and 'agnostics' for that matter -- are merely God-haters, not atheists; for they do their best to evade the meaning of atheism. Even Dennett and the Churchlands exempt themselves from the universality of the meaning of atheism.

Papalinton said...

Mike Darius
"Where do you get this stuff? The Christian theists I know and read seem completely capable of differentiating between talking to a friend and praying to God."

And contrary to your silly and superficial example, no, they don't. Theists actually believe they are praying to a friend, a deep and personal friend who will always be there to protect them.
Isn't that the whole purpose of praying? Theists claim ad nauseam that they can feel the physical presence of their phantasm and are able to socialize, engage in conversation and take instruction from this entity, on a daily basis, in exactly the same way one would with a friend.

So, tell me; is everything I have been told about believers having a deep and personal relationship with god is all lies? And that it is definitely nothing like talking to a friend?

BenYachov said...

@Cole

Clearly what I meant went right over your head. So I will explain further.

>It is an insecurity of death and yourself.

Which was either created by God so we would need Him or the fear of death causes us to create a God to cope with that fear.


Merely mindlessly asserting the later or giving a pop psychology explanation of how you think it works is not rational argument or proof for that view.

Plus I offered no reason to believe the former nor does it interest me to do so.

Epicurus (who did not believe in an Afterlife) argued a wise man need not fear death. Since in death one ceases to experience anything thus one could not experience their own non-being. Plus they would cease to remember any suffering they endured in life since they would no longer exist to remember. Plus a wise man did not so mind not existing up till the point he was born/concieved so he should have no objections to not existing from the point of death onward.

How successful this argument is can be debated. Even some Atheists don't buy it & still choose to "Rage against the dying of the light".

Anyway it is conceivable when C.S. Lewis was an Atheist he thought this way & thus should be believed when he claims it was not fear of death and desire for an Afterlife motivated his conversion.

Your statement on what you think the Bible is for is tedious & not relevant. Your emotional reasons for being an Atheist are even more uninteresting.

I prefer philosophy & reason to emotion.

Cole said...

Ben,

The fearless way of approaching death that I speak of originated in the philosophy known as Stoicism. The core of Stoicism is learning the art of how to die, which paradoxically teaches you how to live. One of the great Stoic writers in the ancient world was Seneca the Younger. He slowly began conquering his fears by first conquering his fear of death. You can continue to hold the hand of your invisible man through life all you want to (without being able to provide sufficient evidence for His existence). Or you can grow up and be a man.

BenYachov said...

@Cole

Your the one who dogmatically claimed Religion is based on fear of death.

Victor pointed to Lewis who clearly didn't turn to religion based on Fear.

You responded by equivocating between Lewis argument for God based on human desire and need &
you own unproven assertion.


I pointed out that begged the question. I also pointed to Epicurus as an example of ancient Atheist philosophy that argued one need not fear death.

Thus it is logical Lewis was not motivated by fear when he became a Christian. You can't claim he must have because your personal dogma teaches all religious people embrace religion out of fear.

You have no rational response to me and in typical Gnu fashion have devolved into emotional ranting and tangents about the Bible.

Such nonsense is beneath me.

Eric said...

"The core of Stoicism is learning the art of how to die, which paradoxically teaches you how to live...You can continue to hold the hand of your invisible man through life all you want to (without being able to provide sufficient evidence for His existence). Or you can grow up and be a man."

Cole, perhaps you should read this article by R.J. Stove, son of the philosopher David Stove, from which the following excerpt is taken. If only it were as easy as you (I have to say naively) make it sound. (Real stoics seem to understand that reaching such a state requires more than 'being a man' and 'conquering fears'; it requires years of dedication to difficult spiritual exercises, which actually constitute a way of life.)

"Shortly before Christmas 1993, my mother—who for decades had drunk heavily, smoked compulsively, and eaten hardly at all—suffered a massive stroke. At first she was not expected to live. Gradually, the truth emerged: the stroke, while not powerful enough to have killed her, had robbed her of all speech and nearly all movement...

"From the day of her stroke to the day of her death, almost eight years afterwards, she was in twenty-four-hour-a-day nursing care. By that time my father had long since left the scene. Diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and convinced beyond all reason that his announcement of this diagnosis to Mum had brought about her stroke, Dad simply unraveled. So, to a lesser extent, did those watching him.

"All Dad's elaborate atheist religion, with its sacred texts, its martyrs, its church militant; all his ostentatious tough- mindedness; all his intellectual machinery; all these things turned to dust. Convinced for decades of his stoicism, he now unwittingly demonstrated the truth of Clive James's cruel remark: "we would like to think we are stoic...but would prefer a version that didn't hurt."

"Already an alcoholic, he now made a regular practice of threatening violence to himself and others. In hospital he wept like a child (I had never before seen him weep). He denounced the nurses for their insufficient knowledge of Socrates and Descartes. From time to time he wandered around the ward naked, in the pit of confused despair. The last time I visited him I found him, to my complete amazement, reading a small bedside Gideon Bible. I voiced surprise at this. He fixed on me the largest, most protuberant, most frightened, and most frightening pair of eyes I have ever seen: "I'll try anything now."

"(Years later, I discovered—and was absolutely pole-axed by —the following passage in Bernard Shaw's Too True To Be Good, in which an old pagan, very obviously speaking for Shaw himself, sums up what I am convinced was Dad's attitude near the end. The passage runs: "The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, led, instead, directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshipers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.")

"Eventually, through that gift for eloquence which seldom entirely deserted him, Dad convinced a psychiatrist that he should be released from the enforced hospital confinement which he had needed to endure ever since his threats had caused him to be scheduled. The psychiatrist defied the relevant magistrate's orders, and released my father.

"Within twenty-four hours Dad had hanged himself in his own garden."

Papalinton said...

Eric
This story is disgusting. And only bible crazies would have the gaul to recall it.

Where the bloody hell was the christian god when all this was happening? Where was that sniveling omnipotent coward when, with a stroke of his wand, none of this would have happened?

He had his hand on the gideon's bible and still he hanged himself.

Proof positive. No god. All a delusion. The delusion of god was no match in over-riding the delusion in Stove's father's mind.

BenYachov said...

Paps you are worst then useless.

>Where the bloody hell was the christian god when all this was happening? Where was that sniveling omnipotent coward when, with a stroke of his wand, none of this would have happened?

How do we know for certain Stove while he was swinging there between life & death didn't change his mind & repent?

Prove that didn't happen. I dare you Gnu. I double dare you.

One sicking similarity between Gnus' and religious fundies is how both are giddy over the thought of God sending people to Hell so they can self-righteously feel morally superior.

In the case of religious fundies it's to feel morally superior to the damned. In the case of the Gnu it's to feel superior to God.

Both are sicking.

Anyway Stove's son who is the origin of this story has become a believer even thought it was his Father he lost.

It wasn't your dad Paps so spare me your phoney hysterics & mindless propaganda.

Cole said...

Because of my insecurities and low self-worth as a youngster, I turned to Christianity. I needed something to fill the void. Christianity was just one of those things including drugs and alcohol. Today, I'm learning to love myself and be secure within myself so that I can take love to others from a position of power and not insecurity. I have to thank John Loftus first for knocking me loose from my position. It's because of John that I started thinking for myself and searching for answers. I found alot of what I needed within myself. Once I started gaining a proper sense of my value and worth, my insecurities started to calm. Christianity is for the weak man. Christianity is for those who don't want to grow up and manage their life and take responsibility for their life. I'm slowly comming out of my shell. The cocoon, if you will. You see, Eric, there comes a time in every man's life when he must learn to walk himself on His own two feet. I came to the conclusion in my life that God isn't going to do this thing for me. It was Christianity that kept me in bondage and kept me from growing up. I'm starting to think for myself. It's scary at first. But it's getting better. As John says: "It's better over here." And he's right. One of my biggest fears was that of being myself. I didn't know who to be. I'm losing that fear. And things are improving. Don't let Christianity hold you in bondage any longer. Take your power back. Take care and help others when you can.

Eric said...

"Eric
This story is disgusting. And only bible crazies would have the gaul to recall it."

Pap, pay attention. The point I was raising is obvious: We like to think we're enlightened stoics when everything is going well, but if we don't lead a disciplined, spiritual stoic life, we're probably going to discover, when the inevitable afflictions of life hit us, that we're not brave stoics after all. Cole's account of stoicism was simplistic an naive -- 'grow up, be a man, face your fears'; these are cliches; real stoicism is a way of life, and it involves a long and difficult road.

Now please, Pap, read that again before launching into another irrelevant tirade. If you have something of substance to add to the discussion, fine, but don't bore me with your rants.

Cole said...

Eric,

I know it's hard to believe that there is something out there that works besides Christianity. But it's true. It has taken me a long time to come to the position I'm at today. It has taken alot of work. I'm not a Stoic. I was just pointing out that the fearless approroach to death that I was speaking of ORIGINATED with the Stoics. Ben thought it was pop-psychology. My point was to correct him on his misconception.

Eric said...

"Christianity is for the weak man. Christianity is for those who don't want to grow up and manage their life and take responsibility for their life."

Cole, I appreciate your willingness to share your story, and I understand where you're coming from. But that doesn't mean you can take liberties with the facts, and get away with absurd generalizations.

Now is it true that some people choose to be Christians out of fear and weakness? I'm sure it is. Does it follow that 'Christianity is for the weak?' Hardly. We can run the same argument in reverse: atheists love to talk about how 'liberating' atheism is (I said such things myself when I was an atheist); does it follow that 'atheism is for those with weak moral natures?' Again, though it's undoubtedly true in some cases, the generalization hardly follows.

Just think seriously about this for one moment: Was John Paul II weak? Was Dorothy Day weak? Was Thomas Merton weak? Was John Henry Newman weak? Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer weak? Was Maximilian Kolbe weak? Was Edith Stein weak? Look, I understand that you're new to all this, so please, try to think about these atheist mantras before you repeat them.

Eric said...

"I know it's hard to believe that there is something out there that works besides Christianity. But it's true."

Cole, I was an atheist. I'm not interested in what 'works' (however we understand this term), I'm interested in what's true.

Cole said...

Eric,

We are all weak starting out. We all have insecurities. That's part of being human. My point is that Christianity just keeps people in that position. Instead of thinking for yourself and managing your life yourself you turn it over to God and let Him manage it for you. You never grow up emotionally in such a position. I didn't get these things from atheists. I got alot of what I know from learning from others and their experiences as well as my own. I've been going to Alcoholics Anonymous for 12 years. You learn alot about this "Higher Power" thing in those meetings.

Eric said...

"We are all weak starting out. We all have insecurities. That's part of being human. My point is that Christianity just keeps people in that position."

Cole, again, just think about this seriously for one second: Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer weak? Maximilian Kolbe? John Paul II? These men were Christians to the bone; if only you and I could be as weak as Dorothy Day.

"Instead of thinking for yourself and managing your life yourself you turn it over to God and let Him manage it for you. You never grow up emotionally in such a position."

Cole, again, look at the people who have lived Christianity to the fullest: look at St. Thomas Aquinas; on another level, look at a Chesterton; you're simply not making sense. All of us put together don't 'think for ourselves' in a lifetime has much as Chesterton did during a cab ride.

Papalinton said...

Yachov
" the case of the Gnu it's to feel superior to God."

How does one logically feel superior over a nothing?
There is no basis in logic or reason to opine such an asinine proposition. A disingenuous and mendacious application of malformed, naive and spurious god-talk.

Yes, I suspected that the younger Stove may have returned to the more squalid aspects of theistic superstition driven by the indiscriminate and primitive emotional appeal of unwarranted faith. For someone to relinquish their intellect to religious faith is simply an indicator of one falling short of personal confidence to confront issues head -on without support from an imagined invisible friend, just as a child would.

The younger Stove's uncontrolled anger expressed though his:
"All Dad's elaborate atheist religion, with its sacred texts, its martyrs, its church militant; all his ostentatious tough- mindedness; all his intellectual machinery; all these things turned to dust. Convinced for decades of his stoicism, he now unwittingly demonstrated the truth of Clive James's cruel remark: "we would like to think we are stoic...but would prefer a version that didn't hurt,"
is symptomatic of one externalizing the problem and refusing to acknowledge the facts.

Being an atheist or a theist would not have had one jot in preventing the parents from falling victims to disease, tragic as it was. And in all respects atheism is the more honest of positions. It makes no pretence that such afflicted people won't die from their predicament. The impoverished uselessness of an imagined phantasm healing the sick, could not be more starkly demonstrated as a nonsense, nothing more than one big fat con. End of story.

Cole said...

Eric,

Did you know these people personally? My A.A. sponsor is Catholic. He's been a Catholic since he was 12 years old. He doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. Get your nose out of the books and start living your life. Get out into the real world. Get to know people. You will discover that people do have insecurities. This is what they fill with God. The void, if you will. I choose to fill my void first by loving myself. It is only from this position that I can love others from a position of power and not insecurity.

Cole said...

Eric,

When I look back on my past I can see just how messed up I use to be. The fears, insecurities, shame, and resentments were just unbearable. I use to couldn't look people in the eye it got so bad. One of the things that has helped me out is writing down my entire life story and reading it to a trustworthy person. It gives perspective on things and helps release all those emotions. Well, it has helped me anyway. Get it out and then let it go. It's not the only thing that has helped. But one of the things that has helped me. Today, I am more confident and I look people in the eye and can carry on a conversation with them. This is one good thing about A.A. We are HONEST with each other. The evidence that you claim you have for Christianity isn't sufficient to say it's true.

Eric said...

"Get your nose out of the books and start living your life. Get out into the real world. Get to know people. You will discover that people do have insecurities."

Cole, indeed, people have insecurities. How is this inconsistent with the denial of the claim that Christianity makes you weak? You don't seem to have thought this through at all.

Again, think about it: People like you who have gone from belief to unbelief have insecurities, and people like me who have gone from unbelief to belief have insecurities. None of this supports your claim one bit.

Eric said...

"One of the things that has helped me out is writing down my entire life story and reading it to a trustworthy person. It gives perspective on things and helps release all those emotions. Well, it has helped me anyway."

Cole, that's great, and I'm happy to hear about the progress you've made.

"We are HONEST with each other. The evidence that you claim you have for Christianity isn't sufficient to say it's true."

Well, that's what most of the discussion that takes place on blogs like this is all about! You'll find very well informed and extremely intelligent people like Victor who think that the evidence is sufficient, so you can't simply assert that it isn't. That Victor is informed and intelligent is undeniable; are you claiming he, and those like him, are therefore dishonest (as you certainly seem to imply as much in the quote above)?

Cole said...

Eric,

My point is that people who turn their lives over to God and let Him manage their lives for them never break free from this insecurity. They do not manage their lives themselves. They need someone to tell theim how to think and how to live instead of managing their lives themselves and depending on themselves. I think you can see that. It's found within yourself. In your heart. Not some imaginary being. When you love yourself and learn to be yourself you become secure with yourself. You loose the need for God. He's only there to help people who cannot help themselves. He's a crutch.

Eric said...

Cole, you're not actually engaging with a single point I made; all you're doing is reasserting your initial claims. Show me how Stein or Kolbe or Chesterton or John Paul II were weak, insecure and unthinking men and women. You can't; indeed, I suspect most people would say that with their virtue, strength, integrity, intelligence and fortitude they exemplify the human life well lived. Given your claim, they must exemplify precisely the opposite, and this is simply untenable.

Cole said...

Eric,

I didn't know them personally. You seem to hide behind your education and books. I suspect they did the same. Insecurity can drive someone to succeed. My point is that I have no need for an imaginary being now that I'm learning to love myself and others and be myself and not what others want me to be. I need no hero. The hero is within. You just have to peel away all those layers of fear and insecurity to find it. Search within your heart. Learn to be yourself and think for yourself. You have enough knowledge now to do that. Grow up buddy. The evidence isn't there. Sorry.

BenYachov said...

You are confused Cole & your revisionism is not convincing.

>I was just pointing out that the fearless approroach to death that I was speaking of ORIGINATED with the Stoics. Ben thought it was pop-psychology. My point was to correct him on his misconception.

The pop-psychology was your weird dogma all people turn too religion out of fear.

I cited Epicurus as a philosopher who made a logical argument against fearing death. There are Atheists who say they buy into it. No doubt Lewis was one of them. Thus it is logical Lewis is to be believed when he claimed he didn't fear death as an Atheist.

It's that simple. Pretending I was talking about something else is disingenuous.

BTW Loftus is without. You have exchanged one form of simplistic religious belief for another even more simplistic form of non-belief.

Surely you could have done better than Loftus? You might as well come back to "Christianity" & follow Benny Hin while your at it.

BenYachov said...

@Paps

>How does one logically feel superior over a nothing?

I don't know why do you spend such an inordinate time attacking nothing with brain dead superficial arguments?

Don't you realize in your world there is no afterlife? Thus the time you waste attacking nothing for no reason isn't time you will ever get back till oblivion.

Loftus, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, the late not so great Hitch are for the simple minded non-believer who trades Sola Scriptura for Scientism & rejects philosophy.

Their's in not a thinking man's Atheism. Smith, Jack Smart, Wittgenstein those are Atheists for thinking men.

Then there is Cole who is still trapped in his fundamentalist mindset.

>Search within your heart. Learn to be yourself and think for yourself. You have enough knowledge now to do that. Grow up buddy. The evidence isn't there. Sorry.

The Atheist's version of bearing your testimony. All emotive appeal no logic.

Good grief get out of your fundamentalist Protestant mindset Cole & maybe I or some other Thomist will actually take your non-belief seriously.

Searching my heart? It's just a muscle that pumps blood! You are just atoms & chemistry and if we believe Dennett there is no "you" to speak of.

You didn't really choose to be an Atheist basic physics & a specific arrangement of neurons in your brain of made you one & arguing with us makes about as much sense as a rain cloud arguing with a snow cloud.

Materialist reductionism is a dead end philosophically. It can't be made otherwise with your version of a Billy Graham crusade in reverse.

Silly!

Cole said...

If anyone is in doubt about the insecurity I'm talking about just read Ben's last comment and how he tries to belittle John by comparing him to Benny Hinn. Let me quote Norman Geisler:

"A thoughtful and intellectually challenging work, presenting arguments that any honest theist and Christian should face."

Then we have the Christian philosopher Dr. James F. Sennett:

"Loftus presents a compendium of well reasoned arguments (wrapped together nicely in a steadily developed 'cumulative case') against the central beliefs of Christianity....Loftus's arguments are not the easily refuted caricatures so often offered in Bible college textbooks and Sunday school materials. They are the genuine article - clear, well articulated statements of plausible arguments by one who finds them overwhelmingly convincing. I dare to say very few preachers, teachers, and Bible students have it's likes on their shelves. And it should be there.

Eric said...

"If anyone is in doubt about the insecurity I'm talking about just read Ben's last comment and how he tries to belittle John by comparing him to Benny Hinn. Let me quote..."

Cole, why is the judgment of these men to be taken seriously when they make a claim that you (and I) support, viz. Loftus's work should be engaged, while you reject theri judgment when they discuss the reasons that they have concluded support their religious beliefs? You cannot consistently appeal to their judgment in the one case and arbitrarily dismiss it in the other. Yes, they think that John's work is worthy of refutation, but they also think that it can be refuted.

Cole said...

Eric,

I haven't heard Dr. Sennett's reply to John's work. Norman Geisler has replied but John has successfully refuted his reply.

BenYachov said...

>If anyone is in doubt about the insecurity I'm talking about just read Ben's last comment and how he tries to belittle John by comparing him to Benny Hinn.

Your mindless hero worship & faith in the Loftus is noted but he's admitted to me here on this blog his work is geared toward Evangelical Protestantism and doesn't really go beyond that.

So you cited Evangelical Protestants who think his crap is a challenge to their faith which I think is wrong in the first place?

Big deal!

Yes his crap should be compared to Benny Hin.

Atheist philosopher Jesse Parish thinks his OTF is a fail.

http://commonplacesandcomments.blogspot.com/2011/07/outsider-test-for-faith.html

But if you want to base your non-belief on one man go ahead.

You have just traded one form of fundamentalism for another.

Nothing more.

Live with it.

Cole said...

Ben,

Actually if you read the Christian apologists themselves you will see that they are in disagreement about the strength of the evidence. Check out Michael J. Murray and Rae's "Philosophy Of Religion" where they dismantle the Cosmological Arguments for God. I have my own reasons for rejecting the arguments for God. Even William Dembski states in his published works and on his blog that I.D. doesn't force one to believe in God. Don't get me wrong. I take the fine-tuning and design of the universe to be real. This doesn't mean that God did it though. He would be insane to have designed such a machine because of the huge amount of animal and human suffering. This is one of the reasons why I hold to the position that some immanent principle or law within the universe gives rise to it's fine-tuning and design. The other reason is that the design argument for God assumes the Cosmological Argument. In other words if the Cosmological Argument goes then so does the design argumet. There is a principle that seems to be intuitively obvious about causality:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. God didn't create the universe.That is, the objects that we are familiar with that begin to exist are within space-time, with causes that are within space-time. We have no experience or examples of timeless causation. The idea of a non-temporal person making choices requires a sequence of events which requires time showing that a timeless personal being is incoherent. Moreover, since space-time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Personal First Cause.

BenYachov said...

@Cole

>Actually if you read the Christian apologists themselves you will see that they are in disagreement about the strength of the evidence. Check out Michael J. Murray and Rae's "Philosophy Of Religion" where they dismantle the Cosmological Arguments for God.

Which CAG's? There is more than one & they are each based on different philosophical presupositions. Are we talking the realism of Classical CAG's or the nominalism and or conceptionalism of post Kantian post enlightenment COG like Leibniz's?

The post-enlightment ones are failures since they reject classical philosophy & rely on mechanistic philosophy and empiricism which is their fundamental error.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

Your objection is a non-starter.

>I have my own reasons for rejecting the arguments for God. Even William Dembski states in his published works and on his blog that I.D. doesn't force one to believe in God.

I reject ID and non-Thomistic mechanistic forms of design.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/04/intelligent-design-theory-and-mechanism.html

Further more I have been to your blog. You clearly hold a Theistic Personalist view of God & not a Classical View. So pretty much all of your objections will be doomed to be non-starters for me. You are like the little atheist who has his devastating air tight refutation of Young Earth Creationism ready to pounce till he finds out his opponent is a Theistic Evolutionist.

Non-Starters.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09/classical-theism.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-man-and-classical-theism.html

http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/godtalk.html

>He would be insane to have designed such a machine because of the huge amount of animal and human suffering.

Except God is not a Theistic Personalist moral agent and He can't in the Classical Sense be conceived of as such. God is ontologically Good and Metaphysically Good & the source of Good but as Brian Davies (& Nick Trakakis, Huw Parri Owen, Herbert McCabe & to some extent DZ Philips) argues God is not morally good & can't coherently be seen as such.

Condemning a Classical Theistic God on moral grounds makes about as much sense as saying David Beckum is a lousy footballer because his Batting Average sucks.

Also you assume if God exists He would create the best of all possible worlds. That is not true. He simply isn't obligated to do so plus He can't create the absolutely perfect He can only create relative perfection.

http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/boapw.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-obligation-and-euthyphro-dilemma.html

Again non-starters.

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

additional

>He would be insane to have designed such a machine because of the huge amount of animal and human suffering.

God is a Creator who causes thing to be God is not an artificer.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/05/id-versus-t-roundup.html

I believe in Final Causality in nature not Paley's anthropomorphic design crap.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/11/trouble-with-william-paley.html

BenYachov said...

>In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

This presupposes Scientism which is at best trivially true at worst self-refuting.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/scientism-roundup.html#more

>Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a First Cause. God didn't create the universe.

A Theistic Personalist God who is a being alongside other beings could not have I 100% agree.

But neither Space & Time are purely actual so they would require something that is in fact Purely Actual something that is Subsistent Being Itself (ipsum esse subsistens) to cause them even if they had no true beginning.

Your error is assuming all CAG presuppose a beginning to the Universe but Classical CAG presuppose a past eternal universe.

http://ebookbrowse.com/adler-s-cosmological-argument-for-the-existence-of-god-pdf-d57720527

I'm afraid I'm a strong Atheist toward the very "god" you reject also the God of Catholicism and Thomism looks nothing like that thing. I don't blame you for disbelieving in it. I reject it as well.

God is not a human person nor is He unequivocally comparable to a human person. As Brian Davies shows the formula "God is a person" is relatively late. Post Reformation and it was first used by the Unitarians. It's not historical ancient Christianity or Judaism.

Perhaps a reading of THE REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL by Brian Davies is in order?

I reject Theodicy as well. Theodicies are for false anthropomorphic "gods". Not the true God who is known threw Philosophical argument.

You need to do a lot of reading first before we can even begin. We have virtually no common ground.

But if you wish to be an Atheist at all costs stop reading idiots like Loftus. Read DZ Philips & Trakakis they write better anti-thodicy polemics then his warmed over crap.

But the problem of Evil is different for a Classical Theist.

So it doesn't require modern Theodicy.

Cole said...

Ben,

If there is a God then He designed things so that children get their faces burned off. This is a madman.

The principle that I laid down (that you couldn't refute) is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. So, we are justified in accepting it. No space-time no causality. It is now beyond reasonable doubt that space-time came into existence with the Big Bang. Therefore, there couldn't have been a First Cause to the universe. To create the universe this being would have to choose. But it He is timeless He doesn't make decisions. He becomes a block of ice and impersonal. If He's impersonal He has no causal interaction with His creatures.

BenYachov said...

@Cole
>If there is a God then He designed things so that children get their faces burned off. This is a madman.

Yes that is 100% true if what you call "god" is defined in the manner of a Theistic Personalist so called "deity". But I don't believe that God exists in the first place so you are wasting my time ranting against a "god" neither of us believes exists.

You must polemic the God I actually believe in not the one you wish I believed in. Otherwise you are wasting my time.

>The principle that I laid down (that you couldn't refute) is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

I don't believe in any "god" that can be proved by empirical observation. The existence of God is a philosophical question not an empirical one. You can't prove empirically that only empirical knowledge is valid so the concept is false by it's own standard. Sure the ID people argue using empiricism but that is one reason why Thomists believe they have their heads up their arses.

You might try to make a philosophical argument that empiricism is the only valid knowledge but then you would be really saying all knowledge of truth is empirical except this particular truth. Which is special pleading.

See the links on Scientism and stop whining.

>So, we are justified in accepting it. No space-time no causality. It is now beyond reasonable doubt that space-time came into existence with the Big Bang. Therefore, there couldn't have been a First Cause to the universe.

You are boring me. Go read Adler's Cosmological Argument & read up on Classical Theism. I am not obligated to defend a "god" I don't believe exists in the first place. I will defend the God of the Holy Church.

Your Paley pseudo-Protestant "deity" doesn't exist & it is a mistake to try to argue with me that it does so you can turn around & disprove it's existence.

>To create the universe this being would have to choose. But it He is timeless He doesn't make decisions. He becomes a block of ice and impersonal. If He's impersonal He has no causal interaction with His creatures.

A being alongside other beings who was timeless would be in stasis and could not choose. I agree since it could not go from potency to actuality.

But Being Itself(i.e. God) which was already purely actual(& not a being alonside other beings) would be the same as His/It's will and thus would decide from all eternity not in time.

His will would already be actual(& his will is the same as his nature not an addition to it) & thus wouldn't need to change from potency to actuality since God is already purely actual by nature.

Your argument is great against Plantinga's timeless "God" but it's a category mistake when applied to a Classical Theist.

Now go read up on the subject or you are wasting my time & yours.

I refuse to play a game of "Let's pretend BenYachov is another ID Theistic Personalist Protestant".

I am Catholic, a Classical Theist & a Thomist. Get over it! Learn about my God & then polemic it from a position of knowledge or forget it.

BenYachov said...

additional clarification.

>>If there is a God then He designed things so that children get their faces burned off. This is a madman.+

Your errors and false assumptions.

Assumes God is a man & or equivocally compatible to a man. Assumes God is a moral agent. Assumes God is an anthropomorphic entity.

The Classical God is none of these things so it's like saying David Bechaim is a lousy footballer because his batting average sucks.

It's like saying Plato's Form of the Good is a madman.

Category mistakes an non-starters.

Cole said...

You have no evidence for your God. You reject scientific principles by labeling them as "scientism". This is a false claim. I think I'll pass on learning about your weird God who doesn't have a personality yet a will who decides things from all eternity. (whatever that means)

BenYachov said...

>You have no evidence for your God.

You mean empirical evidence. I don't need it. I would believe this even if I rejected all gods.

>You reject scientific principles by labeling them as "scientism". This is a false claim.

I never made that claim & none of the links I cite make that claim.

You can't fake reading them to me.


I don't reject scientific principles I accept them.

You reject philosophy & have a narrow field of knowledge.

You didn't read a single link I posted so you are swinging blindly just like Loftus which is why he is such a hack.

You will be one too.

> I think I'll pass on learning about your weird God who doesn't have a personality yet a will who decides things from all eternity. (whatever that means)

That's your choice but your polemics will be limited to evangelical Protestants who hold Paley's philosophy.

Anything more sophisticated will be beyond your reach.

Catholic who might be taught good philosophy and Theology will laugh at you loudly and with great cruelty.

You will be limited just like Loftus.

But it's your choice to be a limited Atheist instead of an informed one.

Good day. Now go fight with fundie they are more your league.

BenYachov said...

It's obvious Cole doesn't know dick about Aristotle's metaphysics.

At best I would bet dollars to donuts he confuses Physics with Metaphysics and thinks Aquinas' First way is an argument from momentum instead of motus?

Typical!

BenYachov said...

As a parting shot.

Feser's classic essays on Scientism which contrary to the ignorant rants of some do not reject scientific principles at all.

Part 1:

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1174

Part 2:

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1184

enjoy people.

Cole said...

Ben,

I hate to say this but you're not making any sense to me. Do some more studying on metaphysics and you will see that there is no agreement in the field. Study a bit more theology as well. When you find agreement amongst the philosophers and theologians get in touch with me and let me know what the final answer is. Hurry though. I may die soon and suffer forever for not having the correct beliefs.

BenYachov said...

@Cole
>I hate to say this but you're not making any sense to me.

Ditto for me as well. That Scientism ='s a denial of scientific principles made no sense. That is not the definition of Scientism.

>Do some more studying on metaphysics and you will see that there is no agreement in the field.

How do you know have you done so? Do you have empirical data to back this claim up? If not then by your own standards why should I believe you?

This is just an excuse not to go outside your narrow world view. It's a dumb argument. Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen Gould didn't agree on Punctuated equilibrium vs Neo-Darwinism and am I suppose to reject Evolution because they don't have agreement? That would be very stupid!

Your blanket rejection of philosophy is equally stupid.

>Study a bit more theology as well. When you find agreement amongst the philosophers and theologians get in touch with me and let me know what the final answer is.Hurry though. I may die soon and suffer forever for not having the correct beliefs

I reply: Your lust for ignorance is a crime against reason. You are pleading to be ignorant of Aristotle, Aquinas & Philosophy.

That's your choice but like I said your polemics will be limited to one small subset of a very large religious tradition.

Live with it.

Cole said...

Ben,

I am living with it. Aristotle isn't my cup of tea. I get confused when I study all that stuff. I think we've advanced scientically far beyond Aristotle though. It sounds like you may be stuck in the past here seeing that you cannot refute the principle I laid down other than to say it presupposes scientism without proving this. It's simply a principle that has been confirmed and has never been falsified. We are therefore justified in accepting it. Science opperates on the principle. I don't see any arguments from you for any of your principles so I'm going to have to remain firm in my stance here.

BenYachov said...

@Cole
>I am living with it. Aristotle isn't my cup of tea. I get confused when I study all that stuff.

Yes I can see that the rest of the ignorant shit you wrote in response here is a testament to that fact. Yikes!

For example:

>I think we've advanced scientically far beyond Aristotle though.

Called it! Confuses "metaphysics with physics" and can't get outside the Scientism mentality! Aristotle's Metaphysics is still valid today as any Essentalist Philosopher will tell you and can show you logically. Science is not the only source of knowledge Philosophy is needed too. What you never heard of Philosophy of Science?

>It sounds like you may be stuck in the past here seeing that you cannot refute the principle I laid down other than to say it presupposes scientism without proving this.

Yes pretending Scientism means "denial of Scientific Principles" when it is actually defined as "the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge—that there is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science." is really brilliant response on your part....not!

It's just strawman stupidity.

Sorry but not actually reading the links I gave you and instead rushing kneejerk into "Ready! FIRE! AIM!" mode to "answer" me is not really convincing.

>It's simply a principle that has been confirmed and has never been falsified

Are you talking about Scientism or Science? They are not the same.

Because I don't deny Science but Scientism is clearly an irrational view. It's just a rehash of Logical Positivism which even AG Flew at the height of his Atheism during the 50's rejected because it was hopeless incoherent.

>We are therefore justified in accepting it. Science opperates on the principle. I don't see any arguments from you for any of your principles so I'm going to have to remain firm in my stance here.

You can refuse to take the Outsiders Test of your faith in Loftus and pretend I was arguing Science should not be accepted (which I would never argue) instead of arguing against Scientism(which I was doing).

But it is still not convincing.

It's dodging.

But it does reinforces my belief Gnu'Atheism is just mindless fundamentalism for the non-religous.

That is your fate it seems.

BenYachov said...

BTW Cole don't bore the shit out of me by pointing out Aristotle's physics where wrong.

I know that, but it has little to do with his metaphysics which are solid.

Cole said...

Ben,

This is the principle I'm talking about:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Moreover, it's not self-contradictory or incoherent. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Transcendent First Cause. God didn't create the universe. Sorry.

BenYachov said...

Cole you are just repeating yourself which is pathetic.

>X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects.

What kind of Causes? Efficient causes? Material Causes? Formal Causes or Final Causes?

Now Mechanistic Post Enlightenment philosophy assumes nature only has two causes (material & efficient causes) but Oderberg argues rather effectively for the other causes in nature in his work REAL ESSENTALISM.

Also how are you modeling "experience"? Conceptional? Nominally? or Realism? and if realism, Platonic Strong Realism or Aristotelian Moderate Realism?

All this matters.

>They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

Which is fine if you use Cosmological Arguments that presuppose the Universe had a beginning. But Adler's & Aquinas & other arguments don't presuppose that so it's a non-starter. They are top down metaphysical arguments.

Besides if you make experience the Ad Hoc stopping point you can never appeal to a Multiverse since we have no experience of it. Nor can you claim logically lack of experience of something discounts it's existence.

I don't "experience" Atoms yet I by rational inference know they exist.

>God didn't create the universe. Sorry.

Yes the Paley type deity you once believed in could not do this given it's nature.

But I don't see how something that is Purely Actual is thus inhibited.

But since Aristotle confuses you concepts like Form, Matter, Essence, Existence,Potency and Actuality will likely go over your head.

Oh & one more thing.

>causes always have a temporal relation to their effects.

But what if Hume's view of Causality which I believe you implicitly assume here is wrong?

Elizabeth Anscombe (remember she debated CS Lewis?)destroyed Hume's view.

Sorry but your arguments are non-starters and ambiguous.

BenYachov said...

Of course if you want to know about Cosmological Arguments then Oderberg is a must read.

http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/papers/Cosmological%20argument.pdf

To clarify Anscombe showed how an uncaused event is incoherent and inconceivable.

Not inconceivable in the sense of calculating all of Phi but more like 2+2=5 type inconceivable.

Of course if non-beginning CA are over your head see how an Essentialist might defend the Kalam.

http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/papers/Beginnning%20of%20Existence.pdf

Enjoy. I know you won't read them because you don't want to disturb your brain with dissonant thoughts.

Cole said...

Ben,

Do you have an argument? Can you show that the principle I laid down is incoherent? Do you have evidence of timeless causation to refute the principle? You haven't provided anything. Therefore the principle holds and the argument stands. God did not create the universe.

BenYachov said...

>Do you have an argument?

I listed several links you are too cowardly to read & likely too stupid. I have given many arguments you have ignored them.

>Can you show that the principle I laid down is incoherent?

I showed you many times your Scientism presuppositions where not valid you ignored the argument & pretended I was arguing against scientific principles.

You cowardly dodging is asinine.

>Do you have evidence of timeless causation to refute the principle?

Again what kind of "causation"?

>You haven't provided anything. Therefore the principle holds and the argument stands. God did not create the universe

Rather you are too lazy to read & your "argument" begs to many questions and makes assumptions I don't accept & I already said it was valid against a Paley type Theistic Personalist deity.

This is your brain on Loftus.

Cole said...

Ben,

The principle doesn't presuppose scientism. Can you prove it does? Again you have not provided an argument showing the principle doesn't hold neither have you refuted it by giving examples within our experience of timeless causation. Until you show that it is logicaly self-refuting then we are justified in accepting it.

BenYachov said...

>The principle doesn't presuppose scientism.

How do you know this to be true?

Till I set you straight you assumed "Scientism" means denial of scientific principles. Which of course it doesn't mean that.

Clearly the concept of a non-starter is beyond you.

>Again you have not provided an argument showing the principle doesn't hold.

You haven't show at all how something that is Purely Actual could not actualize any potency or that it has to be temporal to do so.

You have not proven that there is any potency that can become actual without an actualizing agent.

You haven't show that a Purely Actual causal agency must be temporal(in fact that is incoherent) since something Purely Actual would be an unchanged changer and thus could not be temporal.

Your argument is a non-starter.

I am trying to argue philosophy you OTOH are trying to argue for a material god that can't exist & I don't believe in anyway.

BenYachov said...

"Thomas points out that the judgment that there is a conflict here results from confusion regarding the nature of creation and natural change. It is an error that I call the “Cosmogonical Fallacy.” Those who are worried about conflict between faith and reason on this issue fail to distinguish between cause in the sense of a natural change of some kind and cause in the sense of an ultimate bringing into being of something from no antecedent state whatsoever. “Creatio non est mutatio,” says Thomas, affirming that the act of creation is not some species of change. So, the Greek natural philosophers were quite correct: from nothing, nothing comes.

By “comes” here is meant a change from one state to another and this requires some underlying material reality, some potentiality for the new state to come into being. This is because all change arises out of a pre-existing possibility for that change residing in something.

Creation, on the other hand, is the radical causing of the whole existence of whatever exists. To be the complete cause of something’s existence is not the same as producing a change in something. It is not a taking of something and making it into something else, as if there were some primordial matter which God had to use to create the universe. Rather, creation is the result of the divine agency being totally responsible for the production, all at once and completely, of the whole of the universe, with all it entities and all its operations, from absolutely nothing pre-existing.
Strictly speaking, points out Thomas, the Creator does not create something out of nothing in the sense of taking some nothing and making something out of it. This is a conceptual mistake, for it treats nothing as a something. On the contrary, the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo claims that God made the universe without making it out of anything. In other words, anything left entirely to itself, completely separated from the cause of its existence, would not exist—it would be absolutely nothing. The ultimate cause of the existence of anything and everything is God who creates, not out of some nothing, but from nothing at all.
In this way, one can see that the new science of the thirteenth century, out of which our modern science developed, was not a threat to the traditional Christian doctrine of creation. To come to know the natural causes of natural beings is a different matter from knowing that all natural beings and operations radically depend on the ultimate cause for the existence of everything: God the Creator. Creation is not a change. Creation is a cause, but of a very different, indeed unique, kind. Only if one avoids the Cosmogonical Fallacy, is one able to correctly understand the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo.

From Thomas Aquinas vs. The Intelligent Designers
http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/calhoun/socratic/tkacz_aquinasvsid.html

Cole you are so barking up the wrong tree.

Cole said...

Ben,

We are talking about this principle here:

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

It is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

One more time. Can you provide me with an argument showing that this principle doesn't hold?

Can you provide me with examples within our experience of timeless causation?

Can you show that this principle is self-refuting?

Until you do this then we are justified in accepting it.

BenYachov said...

Cole your whole argument presupposes the Cosmological fallacy.

>The principle doesn't presuppose scientism.

Yes it does since part of your argument is to demand empirical evidence of non-temperal causal change.

But of course creation is not change so it's a non-starter.

Paley may have claimed God causes nothing to change into something. But Aquinas would vomit.

Get a clue.

Cole said...

Ben,

Are you going to provide me an argument showing that it doesn't hold?

Is it logically self-refuting?

Asking for emperical evidence doesn't pressupose scientism. Can you prove that it does?

BenYachov said...

>Can you show that this principle is self-refuting?

What does it matter? You have not shown me it applies to a God who is Purely Actual.

So it is a non-starter.

You are wasting my time.

Cole said...

Ben,

I'm talking about causality and how within our experience it is always temporal. If the principle it's not self-refuting then we are justified in accepting it. For it is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

BenYachov said...

>Are you going to provide me an argument showing that it doesn't hold?

Not unless you can first show me that it clearly applies to something that is purely actual.

Till you do your question is of the "Do you still beat your dog" variety.

repeating this fallacy won't make otherwise.

>Asking for emperical evidence doesn't pressupose scientism.

You didn't know what Scientism was till you spoke to me. So how do you know?

>Can you prove that it does?

Why should I even attempt to at this point? You will ignore my arguments in Loftus fashion & pretend your non-starter questions are reverent.

BenYachov said...

>I'm talking about causality and how within our experience it is always temporal.

Yes you are trying to make an empirical argument. But in principle I reject empirical arguments for God. God can only be known philosophically. You believe only empirical argument are the only valid knowledge I already explained why that is not true.

>If the principle it's not self-refuting then we are justified in accepting it.

But your assumption God can be proven empirically and not philosophically is not proven. Empirically or otherwise.

>For it is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

The same can be said for "Whatever is changed is changed by another" which starts Aristotle and Aquinas' CAG.

Plus your whole argument is based on the cosmological fallacy which I reject.

Your arguments are non-starters.

I don't believe in the Paley type god this is suppose to refute.

Why can't you accept that?

Cole said...

Ben,

I take it that you don't have an argument showing that the principle doesn't hold. You haven't shaown that it is self-refuting neither have you provided emperical support that falsifies it. So, we are justified in accepting it.

X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

In other words causality is a temporal concept. This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Moreover, it's not self-contradictory or incoherent. So, we are justified in accepting it. If there is no space-time there is no causality. Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Transcendent First Cause. God didn't create the universe.

BenYachov said...

>I'm talking about causality and how within our experience it is always temporal.

So a "god" who is in time could not have created the universe. I agree so what?

Or if we define "causal" as change from x into y (like "nothing" being changed into "something") I also agree.

But how does it apply if by "cause" we mean "produce being from nothing as opposed to out of nothing"?

Also again how can something that is purely actual be in time in the first place and how can something purely actual need time to cause either change or being?

Why do you deny you hold to scientism when your sole argument is based on the empirical not the philosophical?

What does any of this have to do with my God vs the god you once believed in which I never believed in?

BenYachov said...

At this point Cole you have acquitted yourself worst than Paps.

Simply repeating your non-starter argument over and over and over proves you have not really taken the Outsider's test.

BenYachov said...

>X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects.

The “Cosmogonical Fallacy.” Those who are worried about conflict between faith and reason on this issue fail to distinguish between cause in the sense of a natural change of some kind and cause in the sense of an ultimate bringing into being of something from no antecedent state whatsoever. “Creatio non est mutatio,” says Thomas, affirming that the act of creation is not some species of change. So, the Greek natural philosophers were quite correct: from nothing, nothing comes.

By “comes” here is meant a change from one state to another and this requires some underlying material reality, some potentiality for the new state to come into being. This is because all change arises out of a pre-existing possibility for that change residing in something.

Creation, on the other hand, is the radical causing of the whole existence of whatever exists.


>This principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.

But what does it have to do with causing of the whole existence of whatever exists?

Go read Adler's CAG & stop boring me with Paley's.

BenYachov said...

>Since space and time came into existence at the Big Bang then there couldn't have been a Transcendent First Cause.

There couldn't have been an efficient cause by a material agent.

But a Transcendent First Cause would by definition be beyond space and time & could not coherently have those limits.

Also if it's purely actual then time is not needed for it to cause the radical causing of the whole existence of whatever exists.

You really don't understand the difference between a philosophical argument vs an empirical scientific one?

Do you?

BenYachov said...

Cole without the fallacy of equivocation your whole argument gets nowhere.

BenYachov said...

So are you actually going to interact with what I wrote or ignore it & pretend I have not answered you and repeat the same bullshit you have been giving me?

Over and over again?

Papalinton said...

Cole
Great commentary.
They are packed with rigorous argument, corroborated evidence and solid referencing. You have single-handedly dealt with each nonsense theistic proposal offered with dignity and confidence, only to have thrown at you, when theist arguments aborted on delivery, with such epithets as:

" ... pretend I have not answered you and repeat the same bullshit you have been giving me .."

"At this point Cole you have acquitted yourself worst than Paps."

"Your arguments are non-starters"

"You will ignore my arguments in Loftus fashion & pretend your non-starter questions are reverent."

"You are wasting my time."

"Clearly the concept of a non-starter is beyond you."

"I listed several links you are too cowardly to read & likely too stupid. I have given many arguments you have ignored them."

"You cowardly dodging is asinine."

Rather you are too lazy to read & your "argument" begs to many questions and makes assumptions ..."

"This is your brain on Loftus."

"Cole you are just repeating yourself which is pathetic."

"BTW Cole don't bore the shit out of me by pointing out Aristotle's physics where wrong. "

Cole your sense of decency shines through.

BenYachov said...

Cole wrote:

Aristotle isn't my cup of tea. I get confused when I study all that stuff.

You and Paps have a lot in common. He doesn't have a clue either & refuses to go beyond THE GOD DELUSION or Loftus.

Eric said...

"X - Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects."

Cole, you're confused here.

Causes "within our experience" can be said to "always have a temporal relation to their effects" because, well, our experiences take place in spacetime! You cannot go on to argue from a necessary condition of *our experiences* to a constraint on the notion of causality *as such*. Think about this now:

(1) X is a necessary condition of any experience we have of the world.

(2) We experience Y in the world.

(3) Hence, any experience of Y presupposes X.

(4) Hence, X is a necessary condition of Y.

I'm sorry, but that argument is obviously fallacious. What you must do is argue that temporal relation is a necessary condition of causation as such, and you've done nothing of the sort.

Ben is right on here.

BenYachov said...

Eric I am going to re-post this over at the Swinburne's case for God
tread.

That is where this argument is continued.

Eric said...

Thanks, Ben. I'll check that thread out when I get a chance.

Cole said...

Eric,

I never made that argument. That's just you talking. I gave the reasons why I hold to the "metaphysical" principle:

"Within our experience causes always have a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to or perhaps simultaneous with their effects."

This "metaphysical" principle is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Neither is it incoherent or self-refuting. So, we are justified in accepting it.

Ask Craig what reasons he gives for accepting His principle that "nothing comes from nothing." It will be the same reason I accept my principle. This "wider" principle that states "nothing comes from nothing" doesn't refute my principle. Why? Well, the objects that we are familiar with that begin to exist are within space-time, with causes that are within space-time. The principle stands firm. We have no experience or examples of timeless causation.

Are you going to show that the "metaphysical" principle is incoherent or self-refuting? You obviously understand that it is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation.