Monday, June 27, 2011

The Martian Test for Faith

The contemporary atheist is a creature of Christian culture. They have already interacted with it and responded in one particular way. So I don't think of them as outsiders. A real outsider would have to be from another planet.

Mars, maybe?

38 comments:

Papalinton said...

Victor

What nonsense.
Is the contemporary atheist living in Saudi Arabia a creature of christian culture? Is a contemporary atheist living in Mumbai, a creature of christian culture?

No Victor, atheism is universal. It is one aspect of humans that reaches right over the contrived hedges and boundaries of every religion and other nutjob superstitious supernatural belief systems that besets society. Religions are systemic human artifices that were our first attempt to organize community structures.

People are now wanting to move on, to shed their old protective skin and meet the challenges of living in and with a diverse, multi-cultural and varied community, wherever that might be on this planet, and not be bound by geographical sectarian and exclusivist religious territories.
Such boundary marking is old hat. People want ease of movement and the feeling of safety wherever. Religious thinking only reinforces boundaries, enclaves.

The unseemly scramble for converts in Africa between all the 'faiths' is a testament to and only confirms the anti-human and anti-social aspects of humanity. Institutional religion is the dark-side of the human condition. In two millennia, the irreconcilable differences between the three abrahamic sects, constituting well over half of humanity, to this very day, as I write, is the single greatest piece of evidence that religion as we know it, has been an abject failure, on an international scale.

Something has got to give. Religion has had 2,000 years to prove its case, to warrant respect. We are no closer now to any resolution through religion as when we first started.

New thinking is required.

Anonymous said...

So Papa, when atheists are in control, can you tell us what kind of world it will be? You know, with snakes like you and Loftus and that ilk in charge?

A real paradise I bet. And besides, if this is all so certain why is a 63 year old man spending his remaining time on this crap?

Tell me more.

Please.


Goldstein Squad Member

JS Allen said...

Great point, Victor.

These "new atheists" are an incestuous little Anglo-Saxon derivative subculture that has changed little since the days of Orwell. Culturally, they are distinctively the product of the larger Anglo-Saxon old boy culture with its "white man's burden" to impose their superior thinking on everyone else, with some cast-offs atheist converts from fundamentalism providing the comic relief. The lack of diversity among the "new atheists" should be an embarrassment.

The skew becomes readily apparent when you compare them to the masses of atheists who were raised in officially atheist countries like Russia, China, Romania, etc. These people who were born and raised atheist wouldn't dream of acting like Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, etc. I much prefer the Russian or Chinese type of atheist -- they are far more nuanced and sophisticated, and far more capable of actually seeing themselves as outsiders.

toddes said...

"[A]theism is universal."

Considering that the number of religionists in the world strongly outweighs the number of non-religionists this is typical of the nonsense that you keep regurgitating over and over.

Pervasive might be a better description.

Tony Hoffman said...

Papalinton: ""[A]theism is universal."
Toddes: "Considering that the number of religionists in the world strongly outweighs the number of non-religionists this is typical of the nonsense that you keep regurgitating over and over."

I don't get it. Atheists all universally agree that there is not sufficient proof for any gods. That'sa universal sentiment, shared by us all.

I don't have any patience for an argument from numbers, but if you take comfort in the large number of theists how do you explain that the majority of the world's population agrees that Christianity is false?

toddes said...

Tony: "Atheists all universally agree that there is not sufficient proof for any gods. That'sa universal sentiment, shared by us all."

So atheism is universal among athiests. Seems rather circular.

Tony: "how do you explain that the majority of the world's population agrees that Christianity is false?"

By understanding that the majority of the world is blinded by sin and pride much as you are.

PhilosophyKnight said...

"I don't have any patience for an argument from numbers, but if you take comfort in the large number of theists how do you explain that the majority of the world's population agrees that Christianity is false?"

Huh? There are ~2 billion Christians, so 2/7th of the world's population is Christian. The atheism rate is a steady %4 across the world, so ~280 million ppl are atheists. That leaves 4.72 billion 'religious' non-Christians. Of those, depending on how many Hindus could be considered Theists versus other forms of belief, there are many more theists than non-Theists.

Anyhow, I also don't think the numbers game matters at all.

Tony Hoffman said...

Toddes, my point is that an argument from numbers (never mind being fallacious) doesn't even work because the numbers are not with you. As you agree, the majority of the world is not Christian.

PhilosphyKnight, I don't think you should include all theists as Christians, because the majority of those theists believe that Christianity is false (they are Muslims, or Jews, or Buddhists, or whatever). So, my numbers add up to "All Atheists + All Non-Christian Theists = Majority of World's Population." Again, same point as earlier -- the argument is fallacious, and even if it weren't, it doesn't add up.

finney said...

I wonder if consciousness would pass the outsider test.

Papalinton said...

Tony Hoffman

Tony, there seems no point arguing with neanderthalic mind-sets.

But I do enjoy the repartee across the great conceptual divide.

I would simply remind us all, both believers and non-believers, that religion is the very last remaining direct link to our pre-historic past.

Papalinton said...

So Papa, when atheists are in control, can you tell us what kind of world it will be? "

Yes, Anon. Pretty much as you would find in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and much of western Europe that are in current transition to secular humanism. What will be interesting is how these countries deal with the scourge of Islam.
And even secular humanist, atheist countries are not immune from the toxic effects of religion.

But we shall see the unfolding.

Anthony Fleming said...

Personally I can say that I have taken the outsider test. I have seen and experienced miracles but over the past 11 months I put all the ideas from those experiences on hold to really take my beliefs and faith through the mill of skepticism. The problem was that I did not know where to apply it. Should I apply the skepticism on only religious propositions? Or should I also apply it to concepts like physicalism?

Even so, I took a lot of time to see if belief in God "stood the test." I seriously gave atheism a fair shake even wondered at times if I should make the full transition. As I kid I grew up thinking the idea of heaven as depressing. At the time I thought, "who would want to be somewhere forever." You can say then that the idea of "ending up in the ground" never really bothered me. In fact, I don't recall a single day of my life that I have followed Christianity because of the want of heaven or the fear of hell.

So one could say that I have more "atheistic" dispositions. However, there are some things, aside from my experiences, that make atheism difficult to accept such as mystical experiences around the world, objective morals, the universe having a beginning, the teleology of the cosmological constants that in some cases needed to be accurate to the 15th decimal place to avoid a universe of explosions or black-holes. Ideas like multi-verse with string theory don't seem to hold much weight with me and have a long way to go before really proving what they have "set out" for. Which sounds weird when thinking of things scientifically.

Evolution doesn't bother me any and doesn't seem to bother others like Francis Collins or Ken Miller. Intelligent design has never been very persuasive to me because it seems to prove that "God did it" one would have to know what God would have done so there is always multiple interpretations.

I also took time to look to other religions and found there are some things in other religions that I accept but I am still very much a Christian. Other world religions hold Jesus in some high place. Many Hindus call him an Avatar. In Islam he is the second greatest of the prophets. There also exist many messianic Jews. I have met many Buddhists that call him an "enlightened one." Of course we all know that Christians call him son of God. Point is that to do the outsider test effectively leads to this guy named Jesus and having to figure out what he really said and did.

I tried over the last year to give atheism a fair shake and take time looking at other religions. How long should I go in order to "pass" the outsider test?

Morrison said...

The way that Loftus has formultated the "Outsider" test...which does not account for his own anti theism...makes it impossible to "pass".

In his own mind.

He has stated that if you "Pass" it you are abviously not doing it right...according to Loftus, that is!

So according to Loftus, you have to keep taking it until you fail.

Never mind that the belief that existence, life, mind, and reason itself are explained by mindless processes is irrational, undemonstable and self refuting.

toddes said...

Tony: "my point is that an argument from numbers (never mind being fallacious) doesn't even work because the numbers are not with you. As you agree, the majority of the world is not Christian."

There are exceptions to the argument ad populum but that wasn't what I was arguing. Papalintion claimed that atheism was universal because it crossed many boundaries of religious territories. (He also claimed that religion was only 2000 years old. He like many of his ilk conflate religion and Christianity. If something is proven wrong in one religion than it proves that all religions are wrong.) My point was that religion belief (including Christianity) does as well. I didn't argue that only that this was true only of Christianity but was careful to state it according to religious or theistic belief.

If cancer strikes people across all nations that makes it universal in one definition of the word but it still does not make it the best of conditions or the normal condition.

I take comfort not in the number of religionists, theists or even Christians that have been, are or will be. I take comfort in the fact that when this life is over I will either stand before the perfect Judge to whom I have attempted to give honor and praise or because my physical body has stopped so to my will, my consciousness will stop and what we discuss here will be nothingness as well.

Tony Hoffman said...

Toddes: " My point was that religion belief (including Christianity) does as well. I didn't argue that only that this was true only of Christianity but was careful to state it according to religious or theistic belief."

Still not sure what you mean here. Papilinton's point (a common one) is that atheists are atheists across the board -- they all agree -- whereas theists are divided by religions and sometimes sects. Another way of saying this is that there is no disagreement among atheists about what kind of gods don't exist (none of them do), whereas there is significant disagreement about what kind of God exists among theists, and which beliefs are compatible with that God.

John W. Loftus said...

Link.

Anthony Fleming said...

Tony Wrote: is that atheists are atheists across the board -- they all agree -- whereas theists are divided by religions and sometimes sects. Another way of saying this is that there is no disagreement among atheists about what kind of gods don't exist (none of them do), whereas there is significant disagreement about what kind of God exists among theists, and which beliefs are compatible with that God.

While this may be true I find it a little misleading and useless. Yes it is true that atheists in a sense agree on one fundamental point; that there is no god(s). Theists and even those of other religions also agree on a fundamental point; that there exists some sort of higher transcendent reality. It is the things about this reality that has disagreement or difference of opinion. This doesn’t render belief in some sort of higher reality as narrow or specific or give atheism a universal edge.

When it comes to things about the non-existence of this higher transcendent reality atheists don’t completely agree. I know atheists that are not naturalists or physicalists. I know some who are strict moderns while others seem to be completely post-modern and have lost faith in science. Which one of these is the universal atheism?

Anthony Fleming said...

John, I don't even know where to start with your link. You say that the OP represents science based reasoning. However, it seems from the rest of your description that the OP doesn't take anything for granted and doesn’t make claims. Then why accept certain truths vital to science such as logic and math, reliability of cognitive faculties, uniformity of the universe, or even metaphysical truths such as whether history was made 5 minutes ago?

You wrote, “The insider takes a leap of faith beyond the probabilities. The outsider doesn’t claim more than what the probabilities can show.”

Then can you please show me why it is scientific to still believe in an anthropic universe without the idea of a transcendent being? The probabilities for the cosmological constants are incredibly low that some professional physicists now believe in at least some sort of super-intellect or designing intelligence. Among these are Arno Penzias, Owen Gigerich, John Polkinghorne, Fred Hoyle, Paul Davies, Roger Penrose and others. I just recently read The Edge of Physics by Anil Ananthaswamy and find it very interesting how much the topic is coming up in professional circles that such an intelligence of fine tuning may be the case. By the way, the scope of the book has nothing to do with the existence of God.

Papalinton said...

@ Anthony

"Theists and even those of other religions also agree on a fundamental point; that there exists some sort of higher transcendent reality. It is the things about this reality that has disagreement or difference of opinion."

1. Theists have a common term for "some sort of higher transcendent reality". It is called god. And because theist are singularly unable to define god, they are unable to define this "some sort of higher transcendent reality". These very words are symptomatic of the problem.

2. It is *not* a 'reality'. It is an idea. This is misplaced conflation working at its best.

3. Recent neuro research and studies in the related sciences have generally called this 'reality', consciousness, a mandatory state of awareness for ideation to occur.

Anthony you also ask, "I know some who are strict moderns while others seem to be completely post-modern and have lost faith in science. Which one of these is the universal atheism?"

How does losing 'faith in science' have anything to do with 'atheism'? It seems that such a fitment can only occur if one were to redefine the word 'atheism'?

Papalinton said...

Anthony

"Then can you please show me why it is scientific to still believe in an anthropic universe without the idea of a transcendent being? "

Because there is no such thing as an "anthropic universe". That is a purely theological concept linked inextricably to 'teleological intentionality', another purely theist hypothesis.

Anthony Fleming said...

@Papalinton

1 - Yes, theists term is God but there is also the Tao, Nirvana, Brahman etc.

2 - Ok. :) Wow, I guess I should become an atheist then. Can you please demonstrate to me how it is possible that all reality is conditioned?

3 - Ok. I don't see how this helps your point of atheism being more universal than belief in a higher transcendent reality.

You asked, "How does losing 'faith in science' have anything to do with 'atheism'? It seems that such a fitment can only occur if one were to redefine the word 'atheism'?"

Because it gives different arguments and reasons for why such a higher reality could not exist or other reasons not to believe. My point was to show that there are different types of atheism and I would also submit different types of skepticism. Which one should someone use in order to see if their beliefs are true? Which one is the universal atheism that rejects belief in higher transcendent reality?

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton you wrote, "Because there is no such thing as an "anthropic universe". That is a purely theological concept linked inextricably to 'teleological intentionality', another purely theist hypothesis."

I am referring to the term in physics and cosmology. Basically it means a universe capable of sustaining life. If certain cosmological constants had been "off" such as the gravitational constant or weak force constant we may have been left with a universe full of black-holes or explosions. Yet there are many cosmological constants that needed to be in place to avoid this. Some needed to be accurate to the 15th decimal place.

I believe I first heard the term from Brian Davies.

Anthony Fleming said...

@Papalinton: I must now take my wife on a date. I will be back to answer other objections. Thanks for discussing this with me.

Papalinton said...

Hi Anthony

"Which one is the universal atheism that rejects belief in higher transcendent reality?"

The same universal atheism that finds no substantive proofs for the existence of gods of any kind or the places they inhabit be they, Brahma, Tao, Nirvana. These are all states of mind, not physical. But I can here you say? But these *are* not physical. They are *metaphysical*. I say, "Precisely. But metaphysicality remains the sole property of the mind."
Euphoria, transcendence, excitement, one-ness with the world, peace of mind, calmness, the sense of belonging, communing with nature, talking to your god-self [praying] are all mind states, beautiful as they are.

Papalinton said...

Anthony

"I am referring to the term [anthropic universe] in physics and cosmology.'

No such term as anthropic universe, Anthony. There is the Anthropic Principle which is a term referring to facilitating scientific discourse on what is generally termed, the 'Goldilocks Zone'. This zone looks at the cosmological constants and the precise conditions in cosmology and physics, from which we are able to determine the conditions that supports life as we know it. And we know that these conditions we observe and record do indeed support life because we are, in fact, here, on this planet.
But Science does *not* take one step further than that. Scientists may talk of fine-tuning but science does not. Any connection to the notion of fine-tuning of the universe is sheer theological projection, the application of teleological intentionality that only the credulous converse. Any talk of fine-tuning, [positing the intent and meaning of that term outside of the Anthropic Principle] which seeks to imply a fine-tuner is not science. It is pure theo-speak.

You can tell a real scientist from a christian scientist simply by whether he/she includes this teleological idea or not.

But it is not science.

John W. Loftus said...

It's time to put up or shut up Victor.

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton you wrote, "No such term as anthropic universe, Anthony. There is the Anthropic Principle which is a term referring to facilitating scientific discourse on what is generally termed, the 'Goldilocks Zone'."

Yes I know about the anthropic principal and my term was indeed clumsy. However making a reference to the universe being anthropic because the odds were far better to be filled with black-holes or explosions is not unscientific. It may be inaccurate because future science may prove it wrong but that is no different than any scientific question or theory and it is surely not unscientific. All science needs interpretation on the possibilities which the probabilities reflect. Are you saying we should favor theories only if they do not talk of some sort of super intellect? That seems to be "stacking" the cards of science. What makes a term scientific or not? Having some sort of empirical evidence? Well then where is the empirical evidence for dark matter or dark energy? Right now equations work best with the idea of dark matter and dark energy but we haven't found it yet. Right now, the idea of our universe having a super-intellect behind it makes more sense of the probabilities. String theory has more complications than it currently solves and it was “set out” for a simple reason, to prove that a multiple universes (10^500 of them) do indeed exist. Does that sound like science? Making a theory to prove something we have no evidence for? What makes that acceptable? That a God is not included?

I don’t see why certain theories and ideas, which in current scientific discovery are more plausible, need to be disregarded because of implications such as a super-intellect. It seems atheists want to say, "there is no scientific evidence for a God or even a higher transcendent reality" and then say, "oh that is not science because it talks of a God or super-intellect."

Perlmutter said that cosmologies and physics in general are now faced with the stark reality that nearly 96% of the universe cannot be explained with the theories at hand (paraphrased). We see right now that the standard model of physics is insufficient. We have no idea what the future model is going to bring us. It could include the idea of a creator or it could completely disprove the idea. Quantum theories have thrown away many of the former ideas that disregarded a creator like how miracles cannot happen because of the closed system of physics. This may all change as more discoveries are made.

Anthony Fleming said...

I just don’t see why theories of this sort from scientists need to be disregarded even if the scientists are theists. By the way, two of the scientists I listed off are not theists. If that is the way science must be done then I will start losing “faith” in many theories because it means the deck is stacked against possible outcomes and that is not science. It is just as easily possible that atheistic scientists are favoring atheistic implications for atheistic reasons and are therefore doing an injustice to science. I prefer to listen to all the possible theories that line up with the evidence. Don't you?

So, let’s be scientific shall we? Can you give me a theory that has greater plausibility for our origins in the light our universe having a beginning and probabilities of the cosmological constants than some sort of super-intellect or even a transcendent “higher” reality? I am not here talking about the God of Christianity or even a God in most definitions of the word.

You wrote, "But Science does *not* take one step further than that. Scientists may talk of fine-tuning but science does not. Any connection to the notion of fine-tuning of the universe is sheer theological projection, the application of teleological intentionality that only the credulous converse."

I don't see it as a theological projection. I see it as a philosophical question while being true to science and probability. To just say, “we are here and that settles it” doesn’t seem to be very true to the nature of science and doesn’t seem to be very scientific. It sounds more like those who defend the Koran. Of course we are here, but the probabilities of us being here are so extremely low it is almost unscientific to believe we are here, hence my questions above.

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton you wrote, "The same universal atheism that finds no substantive proofs for the existence of gods of any kind or the places they inhabit be they, Brahma, Tao, Nirvana."

You didn't disprove my point at all. Let me re-explain it. You say that atheism is more universal because, unlike theism, it overall agrees on something; that God(s) do not exist. I say that theism is just as universal because it agrees on a fundamental point, that some sort of higher transcendent reality exists but that there are disagreements about this reality. I also say that atheism has a similar (not exact) division as atheists may agree to the fundamental point (that God or Gods do not exist) but may disagree as to why this must be so.

Your definition excluded many strict post-modern atheists and subjective atheism. Many do not believe in God because he didn’t answer a prayer or because He let a family member die or be murdered or because they haven’t seen him or met him or heard him or experienced him in any way. I often meet atheists that give these reasons for their atheism and yet it has nothing to do with science. Many base their atheism on the experiential and some of those same ones dislike science because it seems to “ruin” the beauty of the existential. These don’t seem to line up with your idea of universal atheism.

You wrote, "These are all states of mind, not physical. But I can here you say? But these *are* not physical. They are *metaphysical*. I say, "Precisely. But metaphysicality remains the sole property of the mind."

I don't see what this has to do with what we are discussing. It really doesn't matter if these things are metaphysical or not. I personally don't care either way. If you want to discuss the metaphysical things of God and whether it is purely state of mind or not you can email me at anthony.r.fleming@gmail.com or find me on facebook.com/arfleming

Shackleman said...

Mr. Fleming,

I would just like to take a moment to commend you on your excellent contributions to this discussion, and to say that your experiences and journey very closely match my own. The only difference I've seen thus far, is that I was not just "close" to being an outsider or close to having atheist tendencies, but I actually *was* an atheist.

The path I traveled toward faith runs eerily similar to yours.

Keep up the excellent work. You've elucidated many things I've long wanted to be able to on this site, but I haven't the written skills nor the formal training to do so.

You speak for me, good sir! And for that I'm very grateful!

Papalinton said...

Hi Anthony
You say, "All science needs interpretation on the possibilities which the probabilities reflect. Are you saying we should favor theories only if they do not talk of some sort of super intellect? "

The question of super intellect or a god, for that matter, are always open to the possibility that they exist. Even Dawkins who is 99.999999% sure there is no god, doesn't rule it out, being the good scientist he is. But every bit of science that has been undertaken since time immemorial has not even hinted at or even sniffed that there is a god playing with the laws. You say in a further thread that 96% of the universe is still unknown. True. But to imply that there is a god out there because we don't know what the other 96% of what the universe is made of, is to invoke the 'god of the gaps'.

It is generally considered a statistical surety that after having discovered and researched 4% of the universe, and matched that up with all the other areas of science that has ever been done right up to today in fields like, evolutionary biology, DNA, genetics, psychology, anthropology, which have all been developed without any need for a god sub-routine to be factored into any equation, like ID or the literal translation of Genesis, it is highly likely that there is no god.

But, if we did find that there were humans in other parts of the universe, who are far advanced than us, who seeded earth, or that there was a super-intelligent life form which made us, and they told us what they had done to generate us, Anthony, would we call them, god[s]? Would we call them god, because we were made in their image? That to me sounds ridiculous. Or would you be saying, 'no ,no we haven't found god yet, even though we earthlings were made in your image'. To me that plausibility is even more probable than the god hypothesis.

Anthony, every question you ask about dark matter, dark energy, string theory etc, are truly great questions, and as we yet need to find out about them, we are slowly doing so. All these these are slowly coming into our consciousness and our understanding, because scientists have built on and built upon the scientific work of all those that preceded them. A great story is unfolding Anthony, but there still are no need for a god factor that must be inserted to any scientific equation, not even for a safe landing on Mars one day with astronauts; although there will be astronauts who will pray to their personal god for a safe journey. We know prayer doesn't work, just think of space shuttle disasters of Columbia and Challenger. They all held services and prayed before the launch, but that guarantee is no different or better than chance. When crash investigators research these disasters they don't go out looking for why god did it, they can investigate without any god factor embedded in the process. Again, Anthony, I would suggest this is another very tiny little clue about the existence of such an entity. It seems that logic and reason are not telling your that, but are screaming that is the case. [Cont]

Papalinton said...

@ Anthony [cont]

You say, "You say that atheism is more universal because, unlike theism, it overall agrees on something; that God(s) do not exist. I say that theism is just as universal because it agrees on a fundamental point, that some sort of higher transcendent reality exists but that there are disagreements about this reality."

I say you are absolutely correct, that theism is also universal to humanity. That is perfectly true.

Where we differ greatly are the causes and the reason for why this notion of theism is felt and experienced universally by all humans.

To claim, as you do, that we are here because god made us, is to refer to only source of reference for its existence, and that is theology, or religions more generally. But theology cannot explain why there are over thirty thousand-plus different religions, or beliefs in god[s], or spirits, or the myriad forms of supernatural entities that humans have conjured up over millennia, since the dawn of time. The recourse to the, "they are all false except mine", is not an answer. Indeed it deepens and makes the issue far more problematic. To posit this idea of being god-made as reality, is to effectively throw out every other area of human research and investigation is psychology, anthropology, sociology, biology, physics, cosmology, all the various findings of the neuro-sciences, history, archeology etc, that deal with every facet and activity of humanity. Theology, alone, stands completely separate to all these other areas of human study.

I am not saying all things scientific, or sociological or anthropological are thrown out, but certainly those bits that touch on, or contest with the bible, or the Kuran or whatever 'special' book, such as the Book of Mormons", that theists use to explain our origins or our place in the universe, are hotly contested, for absolutely no good reason other than 'that is not what scripture teaches us'. Anthropology and sociology are all pointing to religion as a cultural construct, not a supernatural one. Neuro-science imagining and psychology is informing us that the development of gods and demons and angels and ghosts etc are imageries of the mind and has no basis in reality or in the natural world. Archeology is showing us there was no flood, no ark, no exodus from Egypt. Science tells us that we have all come from a common ancestor which probably started as the first replicating cell billions of years ago, and that gradual evolution was the process by which all life generated on this planet. [Cont]

Papalinton said...

@ Anthony [cont 3]

Science has built and built and built on the shoulders of scientists that went before. If Isaac Newton come back tomorrow, he would be pleased and delighted to see his three laws of motion and gravity in use. But he would be a total idiot when it came to explaining 'quantum gravity' or Einstein's theory of relativity. He would not have a clue where to start. He would be absolutely incapable of joining into a discussion about dark matter or black holes or understand the mechanics of rocket propulsion.

Picture the alternative. If Aquinas came back, he would be able to converse with the brightest theologians with ease about the bible, its contents and its history. It would be as if no time had passed. He too, would be an absolute idiot when it cam to discussing science, but with christian theology he would match it with the best of them. But I suspect he would be terribly upset about how the bible is interpreted in the contemporary setting. He would probably brand you all heretics, or blasphemers or agents of the anti-christ, when discovering about freedom of slaves, equity of women, ecumenism, acceptance of homosexuality, no witches etc etc.

Christian theology has been in stasis since 400CE. The christian textbook has not changed one bit apart from a few little nibbles around the edges over time [eg the apocrypha being in or out of the textbook]. I can imagine him exclaiming, "What! I worked all my life developing the hypothesis of the 'uncaused cause' nature of god, and you are still arguing about it?". "What have you been doing these last 1,000 years? Why has it not been proven?" There has been no discovery or research in christian theology of any level of revelation that would merit being added to the christian textbook. Iy is a time capsule. Everything we know about god, about the universe, about mankind, is already known. It is in the bible. No need to look any further.

There is a disconnect [some would say huge] between theology and every other area of human activity, Anthony. And where there has been differences or conflicts, religion has always, without exception been forced to give way. And this after only 4% of the knowledge of the universe has been discovered.

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton, I think I like you. You know what? I think you like me too. I spent a lot of time on one of John Loftus’ posts yesterday so today my time is limited. You make some great points and I hope to get to most of them over the next couple of days.

You wrote, “But to imply that there is a god out there because we don't know what the other 96% of what the universe is made of, is to invoke the 'god of the gaps'.”

I am not wielding a God of the gaps argument. Before I explain, I would first like to mention something about “god of the gaps.” While I dislike when people use such an argument I think there is something to be said for it. When a theory has holes in it that cannot be explained within the framework of that theory it isn’t very likely we are going to simply find the missing puzzle piece which will alleviate the theory from all difficulties. The standard model of physics is a good example of this as most are looking for it to be completely replaced by a new model. Thus far the “God” or “super intellect” theories, within certain parameters, explain many things the best. You may say, “but it isn’t falsifiable.” I think science has had quite a few opportunities to falsify the theory of some sort of super-intellect and many of the discoveries have went the other way such as the universe having a beginning and not always existing.

However, I wasn’t using a “God of the gaps” argument. I was simply saying that it is very “unscientific” to be have any probabilistic idea of what we are going to find in the future of science.

As far as something being hinted to that God is “playing” with the laws I find certain parts of the fine tuning argument convincing. If you were to buy the domain nakeroeinalckerfnwek239843478asdfhwer3jk3erlkvbncamnweroi32398cvmcanewr2384y88884jjj2ncjdsasflkakdjflkda.com and put on the front page “Welcome Anthony Fleming” and then adjusted the meta-tags so search engines couldn’t crawl it and also didn’t tell anyone about it and yet I still somehow found the domain, you wouldn’t believe for a second that I arrived there by chance. Yet I could say, “I am here by simple accident.” Would you really believe it? Or would you think some sort of intelligence was involved. Well, the probabilities for our universal constants are far lower than the possibility of me finding that domain by random typing (or chance) and yet you want to tell me that chance is the best idea. To me, and for now, it seems intelligence is the best explanation. Do you have an alternate inductive theory or do you wish to be agnostic about it for now? I understand either way but I hope you can understand how I can see this purely objectively, with current evidence, as a hint to some sort of super-intellect.

Anthony Fleming said...

You wrote, “But, if we did find that there were humans in other parts of the universe, who are far advanced than us, who seeded earth, or that there was a super-intelligent life form which made us, and they told us what they had done to generate us, Anthony, would we call them, god[s]? Would we call them god, because we were made in their image? “

If we found such a thing it would have the possibility of destroying the idea of God as we know it. Unless we also somehow found out that the first human on their planet was named Adam and he had a wife named Eve?

You wrote, “We know prayer doesn't work, just think of space shuttle disasters of Columbia and Challenger. They all held services and prayed before the launch, but that guarantee is no different or better than chance. When crash investigators research these disasters they don't go out looking for why god did it, they can investigate without any god factor embedded in the process.”

I have had moments in my life where I could not imagine why certain prayers were not answered. However, I have also had moments in my life where the most extraordinary prayers were answered. I think people should always look for the “natural” explanation. I just don’t think there always is a natural explanation or that science can even “solve” everything.

You wrote, “I say you are absolutely correct, that theism is also universal to humanity. That is perfectly true. “

Thank you for admitting this.

I will try to get to more of your points later.

Anthony Fleming said...

Shackleman, I appreciate the encouragement. It is also good to know there were those who made the transition (to atheism) but came back. Keep up with your study and search for truth. I haven't had much formal training yet either. :) Bless ya.

Anonymous said...

But, if we did find that there were humans in other parts of the universe, who are far advanced than us, who seeded earth, or that there was a super-intelligent life form which made us, and they told us what they had done to generate us, Anthony, would we call them, god[s]? Would we call them god, because we were made in their image?

Does no one else notice that what was just described here was, in essence, Zeus? Zeus was a god. He wasn't some entirely immaterial ground of being, but an embodied, super-powerful being who created humans.

Was Zeus a god, Papalinton? Were people who believed in Zeus theists?

Knurd said...

Actually Victor the Malacandrans are more refined and spiritually connected than Terrans are.