Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Haldane-Krauss Argument


My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.
-- J.B.S. Haldane
This is an argument that people who practice or accept science ought to be atheists, and it has been endorsed recently by Lawrence Krauss.  But what is the argument exactly? Here numbered premises might be nice. 
Maybe this: 
1. In setting up experiments in science, scientists set aside the possibility of divine interference changing the result of the experiment. 
2. To be consistent, therefore, someone who practices science ought also to discount the possibility of divine interference in all areas of life. 
3. To discount the possibility of divine activity in the world in all areas of life is to be, at least in practice if not in theory, an atheist. 
4. Therefore consistent thinking on the part of scientists leads to atheism. 
But I fail to see why I should believe 2. If I ask a scientist about  whether or not a hundred  dollar bill will remain in my drawer if I leave it there, the scientists might answer "yes." By this I take it he would mean that the bill did not have properties that will cause it to disintegrate there, or spontaneously combust. . But he doesn't know whether a burglar might get into the drawer. In other words, the scientist is going to tell me what will happen to the bill left to itself. It is mapping the world apart from interference, telling you what will happen all things being equal. But it is a further question as to whether all things are equal. 

214 comments:

1 – 200 of 214   Newer›   Newest»
John Mitchell said...
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John Mitchell said...

Thats a complete non-sequitur.

1. God doesnt interfere with or distort scientific experiments

2. Therefor it is intellectually dishonest to not conclude "God doesnt exist"

It is the attempt to go from methodological naturalism directly to metaphysical naturalism.
A better attempt at an argument for atheism would be the evidential argument from the history of science.

im-skeptical said...

You have cleverly changed the meaning of the scientist's statement. He has never observed any supernatural interference in the outcome of his experiments, so he believes he is justified in assuming that it never happens. That's not quite the same as discounting the possibility of divine activity from the outset, as you imply. It is the same in other areas of life. He sees no supernatural activity outside the lab, so he is justified in assuming that it never happens. It is this failure to observe any evidence of supernatural activity or presence that leads the atheist to believe that there are no supernatural beings. He simply has no reason to believe it. It isn't at all the way you put it: a dogmatic refusal to accept the possibility of the divine, just a failure to observe any evidence of it. Most atheists will tell you that.

This leads to the question: what evidence would it take to convince you? And I say, it doesn't have to be much, it just has to be clearly and unmistakably supernatural.

B. Prokop said...

"It is this failure to observe any evidence of supernatural activity or presence"

You may want to check your eyesight. I see it all the time.

But in any case, your very posting contradicts your thesis (that there is no presupposition going on here). You yourself have just demonstrated in print how you are doing that very thing - discounting in advance that what you are witnessing may all ultimately be traceable to God.

"Most atheists will tell you that."

Indeed they will - because they're the ones exercising the dogmatic refusal. (They even dogmatically refuse to recognize their own presuppositions.)

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"This leads to the question: what evidence would it take to convince you? And I say, it doesn't have to be much, it just has to be clearly and unmistakably supernatural."

What evidence does it take to convince you?

Prediction: it will amount to im-skeptical asking the theist to mount a successful god-of-the-gaps argument.

Maybe my prediction is flawed; it surely would be nice if it were (no trace of irony here).

Papalinton said...

This is an old comment from Larry Krauss, made some 4 or 5 years ago.

And little has been said since that alters the thrust of the principle point of Krauss's argument, which is, when miracles are admitted, every scientific explanation is out of the question. [Kepler]

'Divine interference' is a bit of soft-butter phraseology that attempts to offer supernaturalists some deluded notion of legitimacy in touting the idiosyncratic belief that miracles occur and that their occurrence can only be explained as the inexplicable workings of a spectral numen.

To hold such belief cannot be defined as intellection, the action or process of understanding. Rather it is the product of imagination, a centuries old and centuries-held rendition of a primitive system of beliefs that has performed the role of an explanatory placemarker, an illusion that is stubbornly maintained despite being contradicted by and in the absence of what is generally accepted as reality, reason or rationality.

And no amount of philosophizing will substantiate a whit of 'divine interference'.

B. Prokop said...

Linton is quoting Johannes Kepler? Perhaps he should have included these gems from Kepler's corpus:

"The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God."

"Geometry is unique and eternal, a reflection from the mind of God. That mankind shares in it is because man is an image of God."

"Great is God our Lord, great is His power and there is no end to His wisdom. Praise Him you heavens, glorify Him, sun and moon and you planets. For out of Him and through Him, and in Him are all things. We know, oh, so little. To Him be the praise, the honor and the glory from eternity to eternity."

... and many, many others.

Conflict between Science and Faith? I think not!

toddes said...

Will have to agree with John Mitchell.

Haldane appears to be making a statement about science (physical) and conflating it with theism (metaphysical).

To be consistent, does he exclude all metaphysical activity from his life based on never having observed a metaphysical act within a physical experiment? Given his statement, apparently not.

And as much as I hate to do so, I have to agree with Linton, there is no such thing as 'divine interference' given that God is continually active in His creation.

Dan Gillson said...

1. As I read it, Haldene's argument says that the framework in which we interpret scientific experiments ("When I set up an experiment, I assume ... ") can be transferred over to our ordinary, lived experiences ("I should therefore be ... atheistic in the affairs of the world.") I think that that's a fair way of looking at things: why should someone whose practice demands atheistic viewpoint (I'm not saying that science demands an atheistic viewpoint, just that Haldene's practice demands one) shift between an atheistic framework and a theistic one? He shouldn't; thus, the reason for accepting premise two seems to be pragmatic rather than intellectual.

2. I wouldn't expect science to predict whether or not someone would burgle your $100 bill from your sock drawer, just like I wouldn't expect science to know how many fingers I'm holding up behind my back. The sorts of predictions which science makes aren't prophesies, but statistical inferences, or something like them.

3. The world apart from divine interference looks strangely like a divinely interfered with world. We don't really know what divine interference looks like because we have nothing to compare it to (this is just a restatement of Hume's case against design). We can't start with an empirical claim about whether or not the world is being interfered with, we have to start with a categorical claim about it. Thus, Bob says that people like Skep (and me) needs his eyesight checked because he sees divine activity all the time, and people like Skep (and me) say that Bob, in fact, needs his eyesight checked, because we don't.

Walter said...

This poses no problem at all for a believer in a deistic God; we don't expect there to be any sort of divine bypassing of secondary natural causation. There is no good reason that I can see to extrapolate from the success of methodological naturalism to belief that ontological naturalism must be true.

Papalinton said...

You tend to forget the social milieu in which Kepler engaged and participated. God was front and centre in everything. Science was still largely the handmaiden of theology and could only be viewed through the all-encompassing hegemonic and monocular perspective of christianity. Indeed any open or public display of disrespect or non-belief in the christian god or the church in his time usually resulted in rather a dire existential outcome. The sword, the axe or the rope were God's instruments of choice for compliance. But that aside, whatever Kepler may have believed does not take away the significance of his insight.

These days of course things are a might different. And the words of a Haldane or a Krauss or a Dawkins have a deal more traction and gravitas than a priest. And that's to be expected given the divergence of science from religion during the Enlightenment Period. It's not called the Enlightenment for no reason. I can but refer to the Stanford account of the Enlightenment in its Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

"The Enlightenment is the period in the history of western thought and culture, stretching roughly from the mid-decades of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth century, characterized by dramatic revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics; these revolutions swept away the medieval world-view and ushered in our modern western world. Enlightenment thought culminates historically in the political upheaval of the French Revolution, in which the traditional hierarchical political and social orders (the French monarchy, the privileges of the French nobility, the political power and authority of the Catholic Church) were violently destroyed and replaced by a political and social order informed by the Enlightenment ideals of freedom and equality for all, founded, ostensibly, upon principles of human reason. The Enlightenment begins with the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The rise of the new science progressively undermines not only the ancient geocentric conception of the cosmos, but, with it, the entire set of presuppositions that had served to constrain and guide philosophical inquiry. "

Kepler was on the cusp of that revolution; not wanting to slough off Godly images and yet at the same time understanding the contradiction implicit in the somewhat emphatic saying attributed to him: "When miracles are admitted, every scientific explanation is out of the question."

And so it is today. There are some Christians today that happen to be scientists. Being a compatibilist however does not endorse or validate the Christian mythos as anything other than a mytheme.

B. Prokop said...

"Indeed any open or public display of disrespect or non-belief in the [C]hristian [G]od or the [C]hurch in his time usually resulted in..."

So, you're mind reading now, and projecting onto poor Kepler (who conveniently can't defend himself against your calumnies) your own beliefs and prejudices? Kepler believed firmly in God then, and we have absolutely no reason whatsoever to assume he would do anything but today.

Kepler was a big enough man to speak for himself, and we can judge him by his own words, and not by some imaginary ones that Mr. Wilson thinks he shoulda, coulda, woulda said. That is, unless Linton wishes to add chronological snobbery to his many sins...

Another Keplerism: "We see how God, like a human architect, approached the founding of the world according to order and rule and measured everything in such a manner." You see, Linton, that's how your beloved Science was founded - on a belief in order and design, which in turn sprang out of a theistic conviction that the Universe was a comprehensible and comprehendible place, having been made by a rational Creator.

B. Prokop said...

I hope everyone reading this website pays very careful attention to Mr. Wilson's last posting. First, he claims that the only reason for Kepler being a Christian is because he was a product of his times, and it was expected of him to be so. Then he continues to (quite fancifully) imagine that, were Kepler to be alive today, he would of course be an atheist, because of the supposed post-Enlightenment mindset he would have grown up with. So Linton dismisses anything Kepler might have to say about his faith in God as not worthy of our consideration, solely on the grounds of the then prevailing worldview. But by Linton's own reasoning, we should likewise dismiss any contemporary atheist's comments on the subject of religion on similar grounds - that they are nothing more than a product of their times.

John Mitchell said...

"That's not quite the same as discounting the possibility of divine activity from the outset, as you imply."

I dont see how i imply that.
What i said is that him moving from methodological naturalism to metaphysical naturalism, solely on the basis of his scientific practice, is unwarranted.

im-skeptical said...

Sorry, John Mitchell, I was responding to Victor's post, not yours. (I actually didn't see yours before I submitted my comment.) I should have clarified.

im-skeptical said...

John Mitchell,

Regarding the move from methodological naturalism to metaphysical naturalism, what would it take, in your view, to justify that?

Jayman said...

The "argument" can just as easily be run the other way:

My practice as a scientist is theistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that God is going to sustain its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also theistic in the affairs of the world.

John Mitchell said...

"Regarding the move from methodological naturalism to metaphysical naturalism, what would it take, in your view, to justify that?"


Well as i have already stated indirectly by mentioning the evidential argument from the history of science, i think the success of methodological naturalism is evidence against theism.

To actually fully embrace atheism, of course, what you have to do is tear down all the arguments for theism and give sound arguments for atheism.

But as i see it, there is strong evidence for AND against theism, so i remain agnostic.

Ilíon said...

VR: "If I ask a scientist about whether or not a hundred dollar bill will remain in my drawer if I leave it there, the scientists might answer "yes.""

He'll tell you that only if he's a 'Science!'-hater. If he's a Real Scientist (TM), like Carl Sagan, he'll tell you that there is a very real possibility that the hundred dollar bill will spontaneously disappear from your drawer and reappear in, say, his, drawer(s). Either that, or it may spontaneously morph into a live giraffe or a working Lamborghini -- really, there is just no telling what might happen once one Understands 'Science!'

im-skeptical said...

"what you have to do is tear down all the arguments for theism and give sound arguments for atheism."

The problem with that is that many atheists believe that has been done, while many theists believe the opposite has been done.

I will be happy so serve as arbiter.

Doug Benscoter said...

While (1) may be a reasonable premise, the whole notion of the uniformity of nature was based upon the philosophical belief that God designed the universe to function in a law-like manner. The only time God "interferes" with these laws is to perform a miracle, which isn't capricious, but has implications regarding salvation. Given that it's not capricious, scientists should not expect divine interference when performing their tests.

(2) is also highly suspect. A scientist can put on his "Special Relativity hat" all the while holding to General Relativity or some type of String Theory. There's no reason one cannot act as if one thing is true and actually believe something else at the risk of inconsistency.

Dan Gillson said...

Doug:

1. What would divine interference even look like? How would a scientist know that what s/he is seeing is an instance of God interfering with an experiment? We don't have an instance of an act of divine interference to which we can compare an ordinary process. So it's not just that scientists shouldn't expect God to interfere, it's that scientists wouldn't even know such a thing even if they saw it.

2. Shifting between theoretical frameworks, i.e., shifting between String Theory, Special Relativity, and General Relativity, is different than shifting between categorical frameworks, i.e. shifting between a scientific framework which explains phenomena in terms of natural laws, imperceptibles, and the like, and a theistic framework which explains phenomena in terms of rational, agentive causation. While a scientist could make the shift from a scientific framework to a theistic framework and maintain his or her faith, s/he has good, pragmatic reasons not to do so: if one's practice demands that they suspend their belief in God for some of the time in order to explain natural phenomena, why bother believing in God at all?

ingx24 said...

Dan:

If one already believes in God for independent reasons, the fact that he must suspend that belief for the purposes of conducting experiments should not undermine his belief. Physiologists, when conducting experiments, must assume that there are no mental causes that affect bodily behavior, but this shouldn't affect their belief in the existence of human minds.

B. Prokop said...

"[I]f one's practice demands that they suspend their belief in God for some of the time in order to explain natural phenomena, why bother believing in God at all?"

I would hope that no scientist ever feel the need to "suspend" one's belief in God - ever, or for any reason. Doing so, as has been pointed out above in this very thread, might very well demand a suspension of one's expectation of a rational, orderly, and predictable universe as well. How then could any meaningful research be accomplished?

As Doug pointed out two postings above this one, any miraculous event should only be expected if it were to shed light on our salvation. Why anyone would ever think such conditions to be relevant in day to day research is beyond me.

So there is no "suspension" required.

B. Prokop said...

Make that "three postings above this one". Ing beat me to the "Publish" button.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...
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Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Victor -- In order to be charitable, I think the argument they are making is probably close to the one I blogged about here:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/?p=389

Or, if you prefer, that's a much stronger version of the argument they did make. I would love to get your reaction.

Martin said...

I think Feser's thesis is interesting:

The only reason everything else has been explained naturalistically is because there is a mind in which to "write off" everything that cannot be explained.

For example, there isn't really purpose "out there". It's just a trick of our minds. So we say that it is just a projection of our minds, and we have thus "explained" it naturalistically.

And as he explains, this can do nothing but entail dualism, since the mind is now the rug under which all the dirt in the house has been swept, and one cannot very well sweep the rug under itself. So the rug with its dirt is permanent. I.e., dualism is true.

Bill said...

So, per this argument, was Newton a bad scientist?

RD Miksa said...

Good Day to All,

Two quick points.


POINT 1 (Warning: Polemical attitude ahead):

This whole line of argumentation is ridiculous. First, the scientist, based on the ultimately assumed, arbitrary, and scientifically dangerous principle of methodological naturalism, essentially allows for no other explanation except a naturalistic one to count as a true explanation—and notice how Haldane admits to this “assumption” of naturalism in his quote—and then lo and behold, the scientist then finds that this methodology, for some “strange” reason, miraculously shows that naturalistic explanations always seem to be the true ones! Wow! What a fine form of fallacious reasoning!

Consider the Argument:

Arbitrary Assumption 1: To be considered a true scientific explanation, an explanation must be naturalistic;

Utterly Unsurprising Discovery 2: Wow, science always seems to show that the only true explanations are naturalistic ones;

Completely Fallacious Conclusion: Holy crap, therefore, naturalism must be metaphysically true.

Let me now state the following forcefully: Anyone offering such an argument, or anyone who accepts it, is, philosophically speaking, a moron.

More to follow…

RD Miksa said...

POINT 2:

This is not even to mention the fact that, strictly speaking, no scientific discovery or experiment—literally none whatsoever—could ever, in and of itself, provide evidence for the supernatural. Why? Because the naturalist could always provide some far-fetched naturalistic explanation to explain the evidence. Consider:

Scientist: “We just discovered that fifty stars, millions of light-years away, just reformed themselves to spell ‘I am God’ in the sky and then they started blinking the same message in Morse Code. After that, the stars just disappeared!”

Naturalist: “Oh, odds are, and as Hume tells us, it is more believable that you are just lying rather than that actually happening.”

Or.

Naturalist: “Oh, that is just an advanced naturalistic alien civilization playing games with us silly humans.”

Or.

Naturalist: “Oh, it is substantially more likely that you and all the other scientists who allegedly saw that happen just hallucinated the whole episode.”

Or.

Naturalist: “Oh, we are just part of a computer simulation and our naturalistic overlord programmers are just having fun with their version of the Matrix.”

And so on and so forth. The naturalist can always provide some excuse to account for whatever scientific evidence is offered.

Indeed, as someone said about two thousand years ago: “No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Take care,

RD Miksa

William said...

Lowder: The problem with the argument to which you refer is that the people I deal with daily, including such as you, are not physical entities (by your definition of physical entity):

physical entity: the kind of entity studied by physicists or chemists. Examples of physical entities include atoms, molecules, gravitational fields, electromagnetic fields, etc

...since I don't think we study people just through physics or chemistry, and I deny the reduction.

The other definitions you list may fail if that one fails. There may be a better way to define natural?

B. Prokop said...

Martin,

What you have described (in your latest posting) is what I refer to as "atheism of the gaps".

Mike Darus said...

It is hard to imagine why a miracle would interrupt a scientific experiment. The assumption that it could or should occur represents a definition of "miracle" only held by skeptics and those who find places to park their cars with daily miracles.

Miracles, according to theism, should be rare. This is the basis for science. Daily occurrences are predictable causes and effects. This theistic foundation permitted science while polytheistic alternatives did not.

Miracles are expected to be exceptional and purposeful.

Bilbo said...

When doing experiments, the scientist is also making a number of other assumptions:

(5) There was a past.

(6) The future will resemble the past.

(7) There is a finite number of similar causes for similar events.

(8) These causes are discoverable by human beings.

There are probably all sorts of other assumptions that the scientist is making. They depend upon the world being "rational" in the sense that it corresponds to human rationality. It's not at all clear why the scientist is justified in making these assumptions. If she believed that God created the universe, and us, and endowed us with rationality that corresponded to the universe, then she would be justified in making those assumptions. Otherwise, I don't she would be. But then, she wouldn't be an atheist anymore.

RD Miksa said...

Dear Mr. Lowder:

Just a quick assessment of your argument as it stands in the “Informal Statement” (although note that I did look at the meat of the argument as well).


Here is Part One:

You said:

“If there is a single theme unifying the history of science, it is that naturalistic explanations work.”


First, your argument fails to define “science” (even in the Definition Section), thus starting with some ambiguity (unless I missed it elsewhere).

Next, it is arguable that the unifying theme of science is that naturalistic explanations work. For example, I could argue that the unifying theme of the history of science is that the more discoveries science makes, the less it seems to know and explain (dark matter, origin of life, language, consciousness, etc.). In addition, another theme would be that the history of science shows that science is still unable to explain, to any degree of adequacy, fundamental problems that have existed since its beginning: as mentioned above, the origin of life, the origin of biological diversity, human language, human consciousness, etc. Given these facts, why put any substantial weigh into the fact that the so far, naturalistic examples seem to work for an enterprise that creates more questions than it provides answers, and which still seems so unable to answer fundamental questions that it arguably should have answered some time ago.

Furthermore, what is your definition of “work”? For you, does work mean “provide the truth”? If so, then again, this point is arguable given the fact that any scientific theory, given its necessarily “always-open-to-falsification” stance, means that it is indeed questionable whether scientific discoveries can ever truly provide us with knowledge of that which is true. At best, they can only provide a best explanation given the current state of evidence. That might make a scientific theory rational to believe, but not necessarily true.

Next, does your history of science take into account the fact that the principle of methodological naturalism has been a definitional aspect of science for some time? The reason that this is important is because practicing methodological naturalism, by definition, means that science automatically excludes “supernatural” explanations even if those explanations are true. So, given methodological naturalism, is it any wonder that science only seems to discover naturalistic explanations?

Finally, to end off Part One on a tangential but relevant note, does your argument take into account the fact that the history of science also seems to point to the fact that many “theistically-supportive” discoveries seem to be made in opposition to the expected and conventional scientific wisdom. Take, for example, the Big Bang and Fine-Tuning as two examples of this.

More to follow…

Papalinton said...

Bob still in denial of not only science but of history no less.

"This belief appears frequently through the entire period of the Middle Ages; but during the first thousand years it is clearly dominant. From Lactantius and Eusebius, in the third century, pouring contempt, as we have seen, over studies in astronomy, to Peter Damian, the noted chancellor of Pope Gregory VII, in the eleventh century, declaring all worldly sciences to be "absurdities" and "fooleries," it becomes a very important element in the atmosphere of thought.[376]

Then, too, there was established a standard to which all science which did struggle up through this atmosphere must be made to conform--a standard which favoured magic rather than science, for it was a standard of rigid dogmatism obtained from literal readings in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. The most careful inductions from ascertained facts were regarded as wretchedly fallible when compared with any view of nature whatever given or even hinted at in any poem, chronicle, code, apologue, myth, legend, allegory, letter, or discourse of any sort which had happened to be preserved in the literature which had come to be held as sacred.

For twelve centuries, then, the physical sciences were thus discouraged or perverted by the dominant orthodoxy. Whoever studied nature studied it either openly to find illustrations of the sacred text, useful in the "saving of souls," or secretly to gain the aid of occult powers, useful in securing personal advantage. Great men like Bede, Isidore of Seville, and Rabanus Maurus, accepted the scriptural standard of science and used it as a means of Christian edification."
From Chapter XII
'From Magic To Chemistry And Physics', "The Warfare of Science With Theology" by Andrew Dickson White, co-founder of Cornell University.

This is the society of Kepler. He was a creature of his times. All the additional quotes that Bob cites is simply religious fluff to the argument about miracles and science. All they confirm is that Kepler accepted the prevailing scriptural standard of science and used it as a means of Christian edification and glorification. We see that being played out today, in some of the comments on this very OP.

A Catholic revisionist history of the role of science in the church simply does not stack up.

RD Miksa said...

Mr. Lowder’s Argument PART TWO:


You said:

“The history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones.”


First, this does not take into account my earlier point that I made in a previous post (see “Point 2” in one of my other posts), which calls into question whether the naturalist would ever accept a supernaturalistic explanation for an empirical fact or rather whether the naturalist wouldn’t simply create some far-fetched naturalistic explanation for the fact in order to allow him to maintain his naturalism. I would argue not only that naturalists would do this, but that they do do it, thus making it unsurprising and not very worthy from an evidentiary perspective to find out that naturalists always seem to claim that there is “some” naturalistic explanation for any empirical event, no matter how strange such a naturalistic explanation might be.

Next, notice the absolutely strong statement you make: “NO examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones.”

Again, given the naturalist’s proclivity for offering naturalistic “just-so” stories for any empirical event, the fact that you, as a naturalist, make such a claim is not surprising to me. However, let us re-word your statement to something less arbitrary and less open to the naturalist’s own confirmation bias. Something like the following:

‘The history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones as the best explanation of the empirical evidence, where the best explanation is understood as being the explanation that an average reasonable person would find to fulfil the explanatory criteria to the highest degree.’

Now, when framed in this way—in essence, much like it would be framed in a courtroom where both the naturalist and the theist would offer their arguments and a jury would decide the best explanation for a certain event—then I would simply state that your statement about “NO supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones” is just false. Two examples will illustrate the falsity of your claim. First, exorcism events that are assumed to be naturalistic, and are initially treated as such, but are then shown to have no naturalistic explanation that is nearly as reasonable as a supernatural explanation. And the same thing for healing events that happen at such places as Lourdes. Even though assumed as naturalistic in origin, and even though assessed by multiple people in order to discover a naturalistic explanation, a few such events simply are best explained as supernatural in origin. And since you posit that there have been NO such events, and since I claim that at least in these cases, any reasonable person would see that there are a few such cases, then your statement is false.

More to follow…

RD Miksa said...

Mr. Lowder’s Argument PART THREE:


You said:

“Indeed, naturalistic explanations have been so successful that even most scientific theists concede that supernatural explanations are, in general, implausible, even on the assumption that theism is true.”

Not much to say here, except: If you mean the very same scientific theists that have been trained in the principle of methodological naturalism and have had this principle enforced upon them on pain of being called “unscientific”, then is it any surprise that even such scientists only offer naturalistic explanations when they do science.

After all, if—as some naturalists claim—the great scientists of the past were only Christians because they had to operate in a Christian milieu, than is it any less reasonable to argue that scientific theists today only offer naturalistic explanations because they have to operate in a milieu where methodological naturalism reigns supreme and where they can be labelled as “unscientific” if they do otherwise.

More to follow….

RD Miksa said...

Finally, the CONCLUSION to Mr. Lowder’s Argument:

You said:

“Such explanatory success is antecedently more likely on naturalism–which entails that all supernaturalistic explanations are false–than it is on theism. Thus the history of science is some evidence for naturalism and against theism.”

Even if we admit—for the sake of argument—that your argument is sound and valid (and this is a pretty big “if”), your conclusion still does not follow. At best, this is an argument against theism. But it does nothing to support naturalism. Why? Because the so-called “success of naturalism” in the sciences is completely and utterly compatible with deism; the deist would be perfectly comfortable admitting the success of naturalism in the sciences all the while noting that this fact would do absolutely nothing against the deistic position.

So, really, what you have is maybe an argument that weakens theism. You do not, however, have a positive argument for naturalism.

Take care,

RD Miksa

ingx24 said...

Martin,

I think Feser's thesis is interesting:

The only reason everything else has been explained naturalistically is because there is a mind in which to "write off" everything that cannot be explained.

For example, there isn't really purpose "out there". It's just a trick of our minds. So we say that it is just a projection of our minds, and we have thus "explained" it naturalistically.

And as he explains, this can do nothing but entail dualism, since the mind is now the rug under which all the dirt in the house has been swept, and one cannot very well sweep the rug under itself. So the rug with its dirt is permanent. I.e., dualism is true.


I made a post on that very subject a while back. I don't want to derail this thread (I do that enough around here as it is :P), so I'd rather discuss the topic there if you have any feedback.

Crude said...

Echoing what Dan said, though in a different way: the argument is completely defunct. 'God's interference/action' - in fact, the interference/action of any sufficiently powerful being, natural or not - is a question explored and settled (even provisionally) by metaphysics, philosophy and theology.

And this isn't a situation of NOMA. It means that just what we'd expect to find in the natural world if God existed and were active in some way is going to be determined by metaphysics and philosophy. I can argue that Haldane's very ability to expect any kind of regularity in his study and experiments is itself something I'd expect if theism is true, as opposed to atheism. This is going to come down to metaphysics, intuitions, and a host of other standards - but science won't be settling this matter in any major way.

Further, the idea that science deals in 'naturalistic explanations' is - and I know this is an unpopular view - nonsense. It deals in explanations, alright. It is limited in its method and its scope. Those explanations are sometimes (not always, but sometimes) compatible with the vague, loose idea that is called 'naturalism'. But those same explanations are also compatible with theism and non-naturalism. 'The ball flew through the air after it was hit with a bat' is an explanation, period. It is neither "naturalistic" not non-naturalistic in and of itself.

This all comes before I point out, as usual, the crippled modern state of the very word "natural/naturalism" and therefore "supernatural/supernaturalism". That obscurity alone is enough to scuttle this argument, but the rest of the points I've noted here do the job nicely.

Crude said...

And, I've already argued against Lowder's piece elsewhere, but just to zero in on one thing:

In contrast, if T is true, then it could have been the case that that successful scientific explanations were supernatural explanations. For example, biology could have discovered that all animals are not the relatively modified descendants of a common ancestor; neuroscience could have discovered no correlations at all between human minds and brains, etc.

That's great. None of these were even hypothetical examples of science discovering 'successful supernatural explanations'. The lack of a correlation between the 'mind' and the 'brain' is not the discovery of a supernatural explanation - and the discovery of a correlation doesn't really improve matters, because "mind" itself is pretty damn difficult to account for 'naturalistically'.

Likewise the ancestral question. Discovering that various species on Earth are not related is not a 'supernatural explanation'. In both cases, it's in principle possible to construct an explanation that may or may not appeal to God or the supernatural based on that discomfirmation. But it's also possible to construct a non-'supernatural' appeal on those same terms, or to construct a 'supernatural' one with the confirmation.

B. Prokop said...

My principle objection to Haldane's argument is that it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of just what is involved with the miraculous. A good example of this misunderstanding was in a recent posting to this website by "Hyperentity", who said in effect that believers ought to expect elephants to pop out the woods from nowhere all the time.

That is definitely not how an orthodox Christian understands the miraculous. Miracles are exceedingly rare, non-repeatable, purposeful interventions in the natural world by the Creator for the sole purpose of shedding light on the Incarnation and Resurrection, and on our Salvation. That's it. If a purported event does not satisfy those criteria, it is bogus.

Now why oh why would any scientist expect such an event to occur in the course of his research into, say, the Earth's magnetic field, or perhaps groundwater temperatures? (or any other field of research)

That is why the idea of a researcher having to "discount" the miraculous is absurd. He has no need. Would a scientist have to discount beach erosion in his studies of lichen growth on the tops of mountains? Of course not! There's no expectation of there being any effect at such remove. The same principle applies in Haldane's lame argument.

Dan Gillson said...

ingx24:

Sure, someone can build an intellectual bridge between how they act and what they believe, in order to maintain their religious beliefs. However, speaking pragmatically, one can make one's actions determine what one believes as well.

Bob:

Haldene's argument isn't lame, it just doesn't claim very much ground. (Well, maybe it is lame then.) It just says that one's actions should inform one's beliefs. If one acts like an atheist for the better part of his day, then in order to be consistent, one should be an atheist. As you point out regularly, scientists needn't act like atheists in order to perform well at their profession.

B. Prokop said...

"one can make one's actions determine what one believes"

We may be in a "Chicken or the Egg" situation here. How one lives and what one believes are so tightly intertwined that it may be impossible to say which comes first. As I've pointed out before, there's a reason why Faith is included amongst the Virtues.

As we find in James:

"Sed dicet quis: Tu fidem habes, et ego opera habeo: ostende mihi fidem sine operibus: et ego ostendam tibe ex operibus fidem mean."

Says it all, I think.

Papalinton said...

No it doesn't. Not from the Protestant perspective at least.

B. Prokop said...

Wha-a-a-a-t ??? You mean the Protestants have abandoned sola scriptura?

I'd better run outside and make sure the Moon hasn't fallen out of the sky!

Ilíon said...

bloody-minded leftist, posing as a Rah-Rah Catholic "Wha-a-a-a-t ??? You mean the Protestants have abandoned sola scriptura?

I'd better run outside and make sure the Moon hasn't fallen out of the sky!
"

Rather than exposing yourself to the very real (in your mind) danger of getting squished by a falling Moon, wouldn't it make sense to *first* correctly understand what Sola Scriptura even means?

Hint: it doesn't mean what Rah-Rah Catholic polemicists represent it as meaning, the more easily to knock over the strawman.


It's a curiosity --

If a Rah-Rah Protestant were to misrepresent some aspect of Catholicism for a polemical purpose, Catholics, including the Rah-Rah Catholics (*), would object. And rightly so.

Yet, when a Rah-Rah Catholic misrepresents some aspect of Protestantism for a polemical purpose, *everyone* just acts like that's OK; and, worse, tries to make it that those few persons who do object are the ones who are pissing in the punch bowl.


(*) Of course, Rah-Rah Catholics can also be counted upon to object any time a Protestant to *correctly* represents some aspect of Catholicism for a polemical purpose.

Ilíon said...

bloody-minded leftist, posing as a Catholic "We may be in a "Chicken or the Egg" situation here. How one lives and what one believes are so tightly intertwined that it may be impossible to say which comes first."

That was part of the rationale of Pascal's Wager, after all -- "*live* as though you believe the Faith is true, and you may well find that you do believe, after all."

im-skeptical said...

RD,

Consider the Argument:

Arbitrary Assumption 1: To be considered a true explanation, an explanation must include the concept of God as creator or ultimate cause;

Utterly Unsurprising Discovery 2: Wow, we have shown that the only true explanations are theistic ones;

Completely Fallacious Conclusion: Holy crap, therefore, theism must be metaphysically true.

Let me now state the following forcefully: Anyone offering such an argument, or anyone who accepts it, is, philosophically speaking, a moron.

Incidentally, RD, this is pretty much the way theists think, but your little rant does not in any way reflect scientific thinking.

As Bob loves to point out continually, the early scientists were mostly theists. These days, they are mostly atheists. There's a reason for that. Scientists at first wanted their theories to fit into a theistic worldview. But the more they discovered - the more they learned about how things work, the more they come to realize that god isn't necessary to explain things. In fact, god only unnecessarily complicates the issue without offering any satisfactory explanatory power. The notion of dogmatic rejection of supernatural explanations is a lie. Methodological naturalism was arrived at after centuries of scientific endeavor finally arrived at the conclusion that there is no other reasonable alternative.

Dan Gillson said...

I'm glad Iliíon showed up to spew crazy on the floor. And I also love how he martyrs himself in the process:

"when a Rah-Rah Catholic [Bob] misrepresents some aspect of Protestantism for a polemical purpose, *everyone* just acts like that's OK; and, worse, tries to make it that those few persons who do object [Ilíon] are the ones who are pissing in the punch bowl."

Cry me a river, as they say.

Crude said...

Dan,

Haldene's argument isn't lame, it just doesn't claim very much ground. (Well, maybe it is lame then.) It just says that one's actions should inform one's beliefs. If one acts like an atheist for the better part of his day, then in order to be consistent, one should be an atheist.

I don't think this is accurate. Haldane seemed to be going for something a whole lot stronger, along the lines of 'science shows there is no God, because if there was science would have discovered Him or had to take account of Him', and Krauss seemed to be going in the same direction. I think those arguments are not only wrong, they're fairly rotten and involve a complete misrepresentation of both science and the state of knowledge. Sure, you can take an axe to Haldane's statements, chop away all the bad parts, and maybe come up with some far more modest, more reasonable core. ("Be consistent.") But that's not really salvaging what Haldane said, so much as what Haldane should have said.

Crude said...

As Bob loves to point out continually, the early scientists were mostly theists. These days, they are mostly atheists. There's a reason for that.

According to Pew Research as of 2009: 33% of scientists believe in God, 18% believe in a higher power, 41% believe in neither, 7% don't know or refused to answer.

So, not only does this bungle your attempted explanation, but apparently by your logic scientists still think God is necessary to explain things.

You really should have realized that there were more polls of scientists' beliefs out there than the NAS poll.

Methodological naturalism was arrived at after centuries of scientific endeavor finally arrived at the conclusion that there is no other reasonable alternative.

Do you even know what methodological naturalism is? You may want to look it up before you answer.

Crude said...

And just to go after Haldane's original formulation a bit more...

That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career.

Put aside for a moment that Haldane wouldn't know if 'god, angel or devil' had interfered with the course of his experiments. One thing he fails to acknowledge is that 'god, angel or devil' isn't the totality of what could intervene in his experiments.

It could be the act of a powerful alien or 'natural' god/deity. It could be the result of some arbitrary law of nature not discoverable by him. Hell, it could be his peers. And in none of those cases does their being 'natural' guarantee or even automatically make likely that they'll be discovered.

B. Prokop said...

I'd be curious as to what Skep regards as an "early scientist". Would his list include people like (extremely incomplete list - I'll confine myself to Nobel Prize winners and the like):

Georges Lemaitre, (20th Century, cosmology), Karl Landsteiner (20th Century, discovered blood types), Henri Becquerel (20th Century, discoverer of radioactivity), Wilhelm Waagen, (19th Century, geology), Kenneth Miller (21stCentury, molecular biology), Jerome Lejeune (20th Century, genetics), Alexis Carrel (20th Century, medicine), John Bernal (20th Century, molecular biology), Alber Claude (20th Century, medicine), Marie Fasenmyer (20th Century, mathematician), Louis Pasteur, (19th Century, bacteriology), Vladimir Prilog (20th Century, chemistry), Raoul Bott (21st Century, mathematician), John Eccles (20th Century, medicine), Gerhard Ertl (21st Century, physicist), Riccardo Giacconi (20th Century, astronomy), Wilhelm Roentgen (20th Century, discovered X-rays), Martin Brennan (20th Century, astronomer), Carl Cori (20th Century, medicine), Enrico Fermi (20th Century, hell - we all know what he did), Hyppolyte Fizeau, (19th Century, determined speed of light), Paula Gonzales (21st Century, biology), Craig Mello (21st Century, biology), John Polanyi, (21st Century, chemistry), Antonio Zichichi, (21st Century, physicist), Gerty Cori (20th Century, biochemistry), Christian de Duve (21st Century, biochemistry), Eduard Heis (19th Century, astronomy), Charles Misner (21st Century, cosmology)?

(All (horrors) Catholics, by the way.)

Are these guys "early scientists"? Your skepticism is wearing very thin, Skep.

Doug Benscoter said...

Hi Dan,

You stated, "1. What would divine interference even look like? How would a scientist know that what s/he is seeing is an instance of God interfering with an experiment? We don't have an instance of an act of divine interference to which we can compare an ordinary process. So it's not just that scientists shouldn't expect God to interfere, it's that scientists wouldn't even know such a thing even if they saw it."

A man who is clinically dead, and three days later is raised from the dead would be one example.

Continuing: "2. Shifting between theoretical frameworks, i.e., shifting between String Theory, Special Relativity, and General Relativity, is different than shifting between categorical frameworks, i.e. shifting between a scientific framework which explains phenomena in terms of natural laws, imperceptibles, and the like, and a theistic framework which explains phenomena in terms of rational, agentive causation. While a scientist could make the shift from a scientific framework to a theistic framework and maintain his or her faith, s/he has good, pragmatic reasons not to do so: if one's practice demands that they suspend their belief in God for some of the time in order to explain natural phenomena, why bother believing in God at all?"

Because the entire history of science is predicated on the philosophical belief that God designed the universe to be law-like. The scientist must presuppose the uniformity of nature in order to do science, and I'd argue that there is no uniformity of nature apart from God's design.

Doug Benscoter said...

We also have medical journals reporting the instantaneous removal of a tumor after being prayed over. I'll try to find the article, but that would constitute a miracle.

B. Prokop said...

Fair warning to all, but you're never going to hear the last of me on this topic - never. The Science versus Religion charge is complete and total bullshit, and I'm not going to let the "skeptics" take credit for one of the Crown Jewels of Western Christendom - the invention of Science. There never has been the slightest conflict between honorable* men and women of both Science and Faith. And in fact, for most of history to include the present people of faith have punched well above their weight in the scientific arena. Take away the contributions by Christians (and usually, Catholics) in astronomy, physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology. genetics, medicine, etc. and ya got nothin'!

The so-called "God of the Gaps" charge is also a fabrication from beginning to end, and I will allow no reference to it pass unchallenged. Bottom line: Science cannot be used (honestly) as a club in the hand of the atheist or the skeptic. Christianity owns science. To say otherwise is to uncritically accept revisionist pseudohistory because that won't challenge your paper-thin materialist worldview.

(Quite sad, actually, when one thinks about it. Here are all these self-described "Champions of Reason" running scared from admitting to the slightest error, unwilling to concede the most insignificant point, because they know in their heart of hearts that the whole rotten edifice of materialist atheism will come crashing about their ears if they allow for, say, the Gospels being written prior to A.D. 70, or that a scientist (even a great one) can also be a Person of Faith.

I'm reminded of a frantic Scotty on Star Trek shouting to Captain Kirk, "You cannot mix matter and antimatter!" (feel free to supply heavy Scottish accent)

* Galileo was not an honorable man, and the popular account notwithstanding, he got what he deserved.

ingx24 said...

* Galileo was not an honorable man, and the popular account notwithstanding, he got what he deserved.

Wasn't the actual reason for Galileo's conflict with the Church something about him mocking the Pope or something? I know the popular account is historically inaccurate in a lot of ways that makes the Church seem more vicious and unreasonable than it really was.

B. Prokop said...

The actual reason was that Galileo was such an unpleasant individual who, despite his undeniable brilliance, perpetually went out of his way to make enemies when he didn't need to, gratuitously insulting them in public discourse, and pretty much behaving like a total jerk. Insulting the Pope was simply "all in a day's work" for Galileo.

This does in no way excuse the way he was treated. (I meant my comment above about "getting what he deserved" as an attempt at humor.) But he was famous during his lifetime for making it extremely hard to agree with him.

He is also accused of plagiarism on some pretty convincing evidence, but at this remove we may never learn the truth about that charge.

Karl Grant said...

Ingx24,

Like Bob said, Galileo was an intellectual bully who was all too quick to claim credit for other people's work. But in this case, I will let David Brently Hart summarize it:

Urban VIII himself had encouraged Galileo to write his Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the Ptolemaic and Copernican (1632), enjoining only that it include a statement to the effect that Copernican theory was just a hypothesis and that no scientist could pretend to know perfectly how God had disposed the worlds. Galileo did include such a statement in the dialogue, at its conclusion in fact, but decided to place it on the lips of a ponderously obtuse character whom he tellingly named Simplicio, a doctrinaire Aristotelian placed in the dialogue so as to provide a foil for the wise Copernican Salviati and a comical contrast to Sagredo, the clever scientific novice; and, to heap one insult upon another, Simplicio attributes the formula to an "eminent and erudite personage, before whom one must needs fall silent." This was, to all appearances, an unwarranted and tasteless affront to a cultured and generous friend, and Urban-an Italian gentleman of his age, a prince of the church, and a man of enormous personal pride-took umbrage.

So, in other words, he spat in the face, in a very public way at that, of his friend and patron; who just happened to be one of the most powerful men in Europe.


Papalinton said...

"Wasn't the actual reason for Galileo's conflict with the Church something about him mocking the Pope or something? I know the popular account is historically inaccurate in a lot of ways that makes the Church seem more vicious and unreasonable than it really was."

Don't belief it for one moment. This is what the Catlicks want us to believe. Catholic revisionist history at its pristine. There is no question there is a war between science and religion. It is being conducted in almost every area of public and social discourse even as I write these words, in the field of philosophy between the scientifically-informed and the non-scientifically-informed; in the legislatures around the US regarding school science programs; in civil administration at every level of government between the god-botherers and the rationalists [those that concur opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response]; and even in the highest court in the land [marriage, homosexuality, a woman's right to her own body, all of these are religious wars over to impose sharia over the secular rights of the individual]. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong-headed.

In respect of Galileo, if one believs in the Catlick version of history then the Church's apology to Galileo in 1992 is just an exercise in rhetoric. But contrary to Prokop's Catholic revisionism:

"Moving formally to rectify a wrong, Pope John Paul II acknowledged in a speech today that the Roman Catholic Church had erred in condemning Galileo 359 years ago for asserting that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
The address by the Pope before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences closed a 13-year investigation into the Church's condemnation of Galileo in 1633, one of history's most notorious conflicts between faith and science. Galileo was forced to recant his scientific findings to avoid being burned at the stake and spent the remaining eight years of his life under house arrest.

John Paul said the theologians who condemned Galileo did not recognize the formal distinction between the Bible and its interpretation.
"This led them unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith, a question which in fact pertained to scientific investigation.
Though the Pope acknowledged that the Church had done Galileo a wrong, he said the 17th-century theologians were working with the knowledge available to them at the time."
SEE HERE

And then I like the little bit of blameshifting and externalizing the blame: " .. he said the 17th-century theologians were working with the knowledge available to them at the time."



B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

... and in steps Mr. Wilson to prove my every point far better than I could have done myself.

I notice no response to my very abbreviated list of prominent "not early" scientists who are also persons of faith. Oh, wait, wait, here it comes - "anecdotal evidence", they'll say. After all, real world people aren't as true as our generic truthities.

Hah! And these are the very people who insist that they're the ones who get their beliefs from facts and evidence. Well, I say, "So great a faith I have not seen even in Israel."

Papalinton said...

"We also have medical journals reporting the instantaneous removal of a tumor after being prayed over. I'll try to find the article, but that would constitute a miracle."

No. That does not constitute a miracle. The 'instantaneous removal of a tumor after being prayed over', is a classic 'god-of-the-gaps' unsubstantiated non-sequitur. Science simply doesn't have an answer as yet for what causes spontaneous remission. These remissions occur with Hindus as well, but I'm pretty sure you will agree with me it wasn't the miracle workings of his god, Ganesha, the Lord over all Obstacles, the god Hindus assure us is The One who overcomes all obstacles.

So much religious tripe.

Papalinton said...

"Georges Lemaitre, (20th Century, cosmology), Karl Landsteiner (20th Century, discovered blood types), Henri Becquerel (20th Century, discoverer of radioactivity), Wilhelm Waagen, (19th Century, geology), Kenneth Miller (21stCentury, molecular biology), Jerome Lejeune (20th Century, genetics), ...." ad nauseam.

As if trotting out a list of god-botherers who happen to work in the science field tells us anything. the best explanation seems to be firming on the varying degree to which they can psychologically compartmentalize disparate concepts and cognitive dissonance.

Crude makes a similar and equally silly claim with:
"According to Pew Research as of 2009: 33% of scientists believe in God, 18% believe in a higher power, 41% believe in neither, 7% don't know or refused to answer."

Of course one would expect that finding. There is nothing strange about that. As you delve down into the great unwashed where science and superstitious woo swill in equal measure, such a finding is predictable. The further the survey research up the pole, religious belief is almost non-existent among scientists. See review of the US National Academy of Science [93% atheist/agnostic].

There is a very good reason for this. Where religious claims and scientific claims converge, religious claims have been invariably examined and adjudicated as nonsense. This has singularly been a one-way street.


Crude said...

Some may ask whether it's by skill, grace or luck that I manage to get a science-worshiping (yet typically, science-ignorant) atheist to attack the lion's share of actual working scientists as 'the great unwashed', for whom 'science and superstition swill in equal measure'. How do I get them to put a gun in their own pants and pull the trigger, on a regular basis?

Well, friends, the answer is easy: I provide easily verified, easily understood data, facts, and arguments within view of the stupidest, most intellectually dishonest atheists around, and they do the rest of my work for me. You don't need to do anything fancy to get Linton to make an ass of himself - you just need to provide simple reason and data when he's around, and he'll smash his face against the internet brick wall repeatedly until he's bloody.

Lacking that, ask him to explain basic scientific or philosophical ideas in his own words. ;)

Victor Reppert said...

You hve to wonder sometimes whether, in the minds of some, naturalism is even falsifiable.

Crude said...

You hve to wonder sometimes whether, in the minds of some, naturalism is even falsifiable.

This is where the Coyne standard is deployed, where we list X, Y or Z utterly arbitrary incident of ridiculous 'God as Penn and Teller to the 10th power' event cited, and people top it off with pretending that would be a /scientific/ demonstration.

But I get what you mean.

Papalinton said...

Crude slots effortlessly into the invariable role, as any Christian apologist is apt to do in the face of robust challenge, and following a little surface skimming, quote mines for whatever information that he imagines props up the ever-sagging religious narrative. He takes that information, information I might add that only comes via the process of the Satanic methodological naturalism, and attempts to garner some semblance of empirical legitimation for supernatural superstition. But the huge welter of data from science just keeps on coming and no amount of data or quote mining will turn back the exponential rate of divergence between the 'enervated' worldview of old-time religious superstition and the 'virility' of the naturalist worldview.

Of course one never finds the following kind of reporting on a theo-philosophical website: Neuroscience is Destroying the Notions of Free Will, Sin and Salvation by Faith. H/T to John Loftus. READ HERE

An article on the neuroscience can be found HERE.

Prof David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine. author of 'Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.'

The bottom line is, no matter how contorted the contemporary narrative of the Christian mytheme, it is on its knees bigtime.

Crude said...

Crude slots effortlessly into the invariable role, as any Christian apologist is apt to do in the face of robust challenge,

Robust challenge? I don't know how much you weigh, but I know you ain't a challenge.

im-skeptical made a false claim. I demonstrated the falsity. Your masterstroke was to take a big, steamy dump all over all scientists. That was your move, pal. I didn't have to argue it - I presented a fist of data, and you slammed your face against it. Again.

Notice, by the way, none of this has anything to do with 'Christianity'. I haven't cited Christ, nor do I need to. In fact, all of my arguments - and all of my humiliations of you - stand, regardless of Christianity's truth.

But, since I decided not to ignore you today, let's see how many times you've slammed your nose into the aforementioned fist.

David Eaglemen citation? Thank you for that: "I don't think there's a necessity for scientists to be atheists," Eagleman says. "I don't even think it's a very good idea necessarily. I think scientists should be possibilians, which means actually exploring ideas and using the tools of science to rule out bad ones."

For added fun, let's circle back on Linton's earlier claim. Remember, he had this to say about the fact that theism retains quite a sizable (if less than the general population) number of adherents in scientists polled - and, scientists who are theists + believers in a higher power, outnumber the atheists and agnostics.

Linton had this to say:

Of course one would expect that finding. There is nothing strange about that. As you delve down into the great unwashed where science and superstitious woo swill in equal measure, such a finding is predictable.

So, three questions.

Is Lawrence Krauss a member of the NAS?
Is PZ Myers a member of the NAS?
Is Jerry Coyne a member of the NAS?

Now, maybe they are. (Uh, with Myers? I kind of doubt it.) Wikipedia says otherwise, but Wikipedia can be wrong.

But if they're not... well then, they're pretty far down on the totem pole, purveyors of woo and swill, such as they are.

At least according to the standards of "I think most scientists are stupid" Linton.

Bravo, my boy. Bravo. ;)

Ilíon said...

Dan Gillson: "I'm glad Iliíon showed up to spew crazy on the floor. And I also love how he martyrs himself in the process:

"when a Rah-Rah Catholic misrepresents some aspect of Protestantism for a polemical purpose, *everyone* just acts like that's OK; and, worse, tries to make it that those few persons who do object are the ones who are pissing in the punch bowl."

Cry me a river, as they say.
"

I expect that everyone is glad that the troll, Dan Gillson, has taken a moment out of his busy schedule of trolling to confirm what nearly everyone at least suspected -- he loves hypocrisy.

Ilíon said...

VR: "You hve to wonder sometimes whether, in the minds of [the self-proclaimed Paragons of Reason And Defenders of Science!] naturalism is even falsifiable."

Ilíon said...

blaspheming hypocrite: "… Well, I say, "So great a faith I have not seen even in Israel.""

When *I* use the parable of the lost coin to demonstrate the utter incompatibility of leftism with what Christ actually taught, that’s “blasphemy”; but when the hypocrite (reputably) twists Christ’s words of commendation for one man into condemnation of another, that’s just how it is.

im-skeptical said...

"You hve to wonder sometimes whether, in the minds of some, naturalism is even falsifiable."

"This leads to the question: what evidence would it take to convince you? And I say, it doesn't have to be much, it just has to be clearly and unmistakably supernatural."

Ilíon said...

"1. What would divine interference even look like? ..."

Doug Benscoter: "A man who is clinically dead, and three days later is raised from the dead would be one example."

How about a woman who was "brain dead" and who had "shown no brain activity for seveneen hours" and who then "came back to life"? (as see at the end of this post)

"2. Shifting between theoretical frameworks, i.e., shifting between String Theory, Special Relativity, and General Relativity, is different than shifting between categorical frameworks, i.e. shifting between a scientific framework which explains phenomena in terms of natural laws, imperceptibles, and the like, and a theistic framework which explains phenomena in terms of rational, agentive causation. While a scientist could make the shift from a scientific framework to a theistic framework and maintain his or her faith, s/he has good, pragmatic reasons not to do so: if one's practice demands that they suspend their belief in God for some of the time in order to explain natural phenomena, why bother believing in God at all?"

Doug Benscoter: "Because the entire history of science is predicated on the philosophical belief that God designed the universe to be law-like. The scientist must presuppose the uniformity of nature in order to do science, and I'd argue that there is no uniformity of nature apart from God's design."

Even without argument to this effect, experience shows us that abandoning "the philosophical belief that God designed the universe to be law-like" is to adopt-and-advocate its Humean opposite/denial, that is, it is to embrace the end of science (and rationality)

How odd is it that a "truth" this fundamental entails its own its own falsity?

im-skeptical said...

"im-skeptical made a false claim. I demonstrated the falsity."

Once again, crude proves his intellectual dishonesty. Out of all the information available, he cherry-picked the one poll result that he thought proved his point, in an effort to be right despite the truth. But as in the past, on matters of science, he has no clue what he's talking about. That 18 percent who say they believe in a higher power cannot in any way be called theists. They don't believe in god.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/famous-scientists/astronomers/all-great-scientific-thinkers-atheist1.htm

Ilíon said...

Mike Darus: "… This theistic foundation permitted science while polytheistic alternatives did not."

The ancient polytheisms and modern “western-style”, anti-Judeo-Christian, atheism are really the same things under the hood – for both:
* assert the primacy (and immediacy) of Matter over Mind;
* assert the eternity and aesity of Matter, rather than Mind;
* assert that Cosmos/Order “arose” (all by itself) out of Chaos/Disorder;
* assert that living entities “arose” (all by themselves) out of non-living matter;
* assert that minds “arose” (all by themselves) out of mindlessness;

B. Prokop said...

"Once again, crude proves his intellectual dishonesty."

Hey, careful, Skep! The phrase "intellectual dishonesty" is trademarked. Watch out, or you'll be paying royalties to Ilion!

And by the way, Skep, how do you respond to my very abbreviated list of "not early" Catholic scientists of renown? Are you going to go the Linton route of labeling these Nobel Prize winners and achievers of major breakthroughs in our knowledge of the universe "the great unwashed"? Or will you go the "anecdotal evidence" route, and assert that actual data have no bearing on the Great Truths that you are propounding?

Or will you now admit that it is not only "early scientists" who can be theists, but those alive today as well? ??? ????? (I'm waiting...)

Papalinton said...

"David Eaglemen citation? Thank you for that: "I don't think there's a necessity for scientists to be atheists," Eagleman says. "I don't even think it's a very good idea necessarily. I think scientists should be possibilians, which means actually exploring ideas and using the tools of science to rule out bad ones."

Once again, Crude quote mines selectively, giving only a portion of the story that props up his ever-sagging religious perspective, which he [shh! shh!] never mentions.

Eagleman writes:
""Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story (say, a man with a beard on a cloud) is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position — one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

Let's unpack that a little. Eagleman is a possibilian because 'our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism. So it is a question of timing. Atheism is not ruled out, only that it's too early to tell given 'our ignorance of the cosmos'. We don't know enough about the cosmos to rule out atheism BUT 'we know too much to commit to a particular religion'. So whatever the beliefs and practices of Catholicism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Scientology, etc ad nauseam, we know 'too much' to commit to them. In plain language-speak the convention of orthodox religious belief and praxis as expressed by the 40,000 plus varieties and permutations of christianity, together with the whole she-bang of some 4,200 other forms or religious supernatural superstition are all crocks of pious woo, even for Eagleman.

Of course, one must remember possibilianism is a freshly coined term of Eagleman's making. And as far as I can make out, it is simply another equivocal position not unlike but a great deal softer and flabbier than agnosticism. And as one commenter has since observed, 'he's simply trying to cow to people who are drunk off their own fantasies and hunches that there could be something out there.' With that I agree, a convenient politically-correct middle-of-the-road stance to mitigate the dangerous ire of the woo-meisters among us.

This is confirmed in the following:

"Sam Harris (a new atheist) has attacked possibilianism as "intellectually dishonest", and its description of strict atheism as a straw man. Harris writes that the position Eagleman espouses "is, simply, atheism." Harris calls on Eagleman "to admit that “possibilianism,” this middle position of yours, is just a piece of performance art, rather than a serious thesis."[21] In response, Eagleman stated that "[Harris'] braggadocio appears to be emblematic of the neo-atheist posture, and confirms why I don't feel completely at home in that camp."

So it's not about the scientific or empirical truth or otherwise of the matter. Rather it is all about Eagleman emotionally feeling uncomfortable with accepting the hard reality of atheism and of the possible social consequences of disturbing the disturbingly religious hornet's nest. One need only remember the assassination of Dr George Tiller should one go public in such a contested area as brain/mind studies and their impact on religious belief.

im-skeptical said...

"Or will you now admit that it is not only "early scientists" who can be theists, but those alive today as well? ??? ????? (I'm waiting...)"

Bob, you should have at least a modicum of respect. Read and understand what I say before you dispute it. Otherwise, you're just pissing into the wind.

RD Miksa said...

Dr. V. Reppert said:

“You have to wonder sometimes whether, in the minds of some, naturalism is even falsifiable.”

For many, it simply is not. And this is why, in an earlier post, I stated the following:


This is not even to mention the fact that, strictly speaking, no scientific discovery or experiment—literally none whatsoever—could ever, in and of itself, provide evidence for the supernatural. Why? Because the naturalist could always provide some far-fetched naturalistic explanation to explain the evidence. Consider:

Scientist: “We just discovered that fifty stars, millions of light-years away, just reformed themselves to spell ‘I am God’ in the sky and then they started blinking the same message in Morse Code. After that, the stars just disappeared!”

Naturalist: “Oh, odds are, and as Hume tells us, it is more believable that you are just lying rather than that actually happening.”

Or.

Naturalist: “Oh, that is just an advanced naturalistic alien civilization playing games with us silly humans.”

Or.

Naturalist: “Oh, it is substantially more likely that you and all the other scientists who allegedly saw that happen just hallucinated the whole episode.”

Or.

Naturalist: “Oh, we are just part of a computer simulation and our naturalistic overlord programmers are just having fun with their version of the Matrix.”

And so on and so forth. The naturalist can always provide some excuse to account for whatever scientific evidence is offered.

Indeed, as someone said about two thousand years ago: “No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Hey Skep,

You said:

“This leads to the question: what evidence would it take to convince you? And I say, it doesn't have to be much, it just has to be clearly and unmistakably supernatural.”

In light of what I have written above, can you please provide us with a concrete, detailed, and specific example of evidence that would be clearly and unmistakably supernatural.

After all, you made the claim that such evidence would convince you, so you must have given some thought to what such evidence would look like. So, just what would such evidence look like to you?

im-skeptical said...

RD,

Many people have given such examples before, only to be poo-pooed by theists, who inevitably reply "That's something that would never happen."

Exactly. Because they never do happen. Here's one I heard recently: you peel open a just-picked banana and find your name written inside the skin. Or how about this: you have a loaf of bread, and you break off pieces to feed the poor, and no matter how many pieces you break off there is still more, so the loaf of bread actually feeds a multitude of people. (I heard a story something like that, but I didn't see it myself, and I'd need more than just a fictional account to satisfy me.)

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

OK, we'll play by your rules. Let's (as Linton says) "unpack" your original statement that I responded to.) Let's "read and understand" what you said:

As Bob loves to point out continually, the early scientists were mostly theists."

So my objection was to the term "early". Do you deny that you wrote that?

These days, they are mostly atheists.

Extremely debatable. Depends on what poll you believe, or what sampling method you employ. I do not believe that the data support your assertion.

There's a reason for that.

We'll have to agree that "that" is even true (and we are nowhere near to agreement) before we can go on to looking for reasons.

Scientists at first wanted their theories to fit into a theistic worldview.

Pure revisionist pseudohistorical bullshit. It was a "theistic worldview" that made rational inquiry into the universe even possible. Before Mankind could undertake a systematic and objective study of the world about him, he first had to realize that the world was indeed rational, orderly, and predictable. This realization was a direct (and traceably so) consequence of acknowledging a rational Creator, Who endowed the world with order.

But the more they discovered - the more they learned about how things work, the more they come to realize that god isn't necessary to explain things.

Really? Really? I do not believe that a single person on the list I provided (Titans of Science, each and every one of them) would agree with that sentence. So you are saying that we should accept your opinion of how they think over the words of the scientists themselves???

In fact, god only unnecessarily complicates the issue without offering any satisfactory explanatory power.

This sentence make grammatical sense, but that's about the end of it. How does believing in God "unnecessarily complicate" things? Remember what the definition of the miraculous is: An exceedingly rare, non-repeatable, purposeful intervention in the natural world by the Creator for the sole purpose of shedding light on the Incarnation and Resurrection, and on our Salvation. Please tell me why any researcher should expect to find a non-repeatable event relevant to his salvation in the laboratory or the field? Why should his acceptance of such things having happened complicate his work?

The notion of dogmatic rejection of supernatural explanations is a lie.

You yourself disprove this sentence with every word you post.

Methodological naturalism was arrived at after centuries of scientific endeavor finally arrived at the conclusion that there is no other reasonable alternative.

Complete fantasy. The most cursory overview of the history of the past few centuries of science would shoot more holes in this utterly bogus statement than would fit into Albert Hall.

Still "pissing in the wind"?

im-skeptical said...

"Still "pissing in the wind"?"

OK. You read what I wrote. That's a start. Did you notice that I never said all modern scientists who are atheists?

Still you feel the need to dispute every single thing I say. Even someone who is wrong about important issues would at least get some things right. Yet you give me no credit for making even a single correct statement. And after I and many others have made statements about what would what would cast our materialist views into doubt, you still lie about what we believe. So in my estimation, yes, you are still pissing into the wind.

RD Miksa said...

Dear skep,

The examples that you provide are exactly the type that I expected (As they say: Never ask a question you don’t already know the answer too.)

But the fact is that it is utterly and completely obvious that the two examples you provide would never be evidence that is “clearly and unmistakably supernatural.” Why? Because it is obvious that there could be numerous naturalistic explanations for such phenomenon that could be offered by the naturalist to account for these examples, thus allowing the naturalist the ability to maintain his naturalism in the face of such evidence (see my post above for examples of such naturalistic explanations).

So what does all of this mean? Well, it means that it at least appears that you don’t understand your own criteria very well, for the examples that you offer clearly don’t meet the criteria that you yourself laid out. At the same time, this fact also calls the validity of your very criteria into question, which is something that should cause you some serious “skeptical” reflection about the criteria itself.

More to follow…

im-skeptical said...

"Because it is obvious that there could be numerous naturalistic explanations for such phenomenon that could be offered by the naturalist to account for these examples, thus allowing the naturalist the ability to maintain his naturalism in the face of such evidence"

You don't get it. I do understand my own criteria, but you obviously don't. I said clear and unmistakeable. If it meets that, it can't be explained away as natural. I don't care what it is, just show me something that is clearly and unmistakeably supernatural. That's all I require.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

Don't get me wrong. I have no quarrel with you - it's your steel-hard obtuseness that I have issues with. When you say things like "early scientists" I know full well that you haven't made a blanket statement about all contemporary scientists. But the implication is there in (virtual) BOLD print for all to see. You regard contemporary Christian scientists as outliers, as throwbacks, as somehow less intellectually consistent as atheists. And please don't try to bullshit me here. You know damn well that's what you think - you just are either smart enough or lack the courage to not put it in print.

I really would rather not have to argue with you at all. Nothing would please me more than for you to realize that you've been snookered by a completely false narrative of "Enlightened Science" waging pitiless war against the "Forces of Unreason and Superstition", whereas the true story of the past millennium has been quite different. You have been lied to, and have fallen for it.

There is no "God of the Gaps" - there never has been. He is the God of the Filled-in Spaces. The more we learn of the universe around us, the more we can appreciate its Creator. There's no "unnecessary complication" for the scientist here. That's all in you mind.

Interesting side note here. My day-to-day social circles are filled with scientists and medical personnel, due to my close association with Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), the Applied Physics Laboratory (Laurel, MD), and the Howard Astronomical League (www.howardastro.org). Now I have met atheist scientists from time to time (although never a gnu amongst them), but I have yet to meet a single atheist doctor or person working in the field of medical research. Not one. Ever. Now why is that? Could it be that the more one really studies the human body (and I mean REALLY studies it, as in for years and years down to the finest details), one cannot escape the inevitable conclusion that such a fantastic mechanism could never have come about by chance?

I also recall a conversation I had with my own physician, when I was asking him about how many times did he have to deal with the death of a patient. His comment was quite interesting. He said that having witnessed close up and personally the death of many people, he became more and more convinced over time that the corpse of the deceased was in no way the person who had just been alive. There was more missing than simply chemical and electrical activity. Seeing death face to face convinced him of the reality of the human soul.

I had the same experience when my own wife died more than 4 years ago. I was two inches away from her face at the moment of death. Immediately afterward, I realized with an absolute certainty (which I have never lost) that she was not "gone" - she had merely put off her body, the way I would take off a piece of clothing.

Class this with Craig's Witness of the Spirit (or whatever he calls it) if you will, but there is more to the world than what we can learn from reason alone. Far more. You should not restrict yourself to a single tool, when you have an entire toolbox at your disposal.

I sincerely wish the best for you, Skep. If I seem harsh at times, it is only because I see you are not allowing yourself to think freely. Whether you wish to admit it or not, you have repeatedly and consistently demonstrated "dogmatic rejection" of God and His wishes for you.

B. Prokop said...

"Just show me something that is clearly and unmistakably supernatural. That's all I require."

The Resurrection. Go back and read the Gospels - with an open mind. Pretend you'd never heard of them before. Read Chesterton's The Everlasting Man. I's an excellent way of putting yourself into such a mindframe.

im-skeptical said...

RD,

I think your confusion arises from that fact that there has never been a bona fide documented supernatural event, your credulity about fictional stories in the bible notwithstanding. It is true that all events we have observed are explained as non-supernatural. That's because supernatural events don't happen. But if there should ever be such a thing, and we could see it and say "yup, that's unquestionably supernatural", then I would have no choice but to change my belief. Because I'm not like you and Victor and Bob. I base my beliefs on evidence (the real kind).

HyperEntity111 said...

To plays devil's advocate here: I think the argument from methodological naturalism goes something like this:

1. Science is the only (or best) tool we have for understanding the world.
2. Historically, science has never appealed to (in fact it has displaced) explanations which refer to intentional agency.
3. There is no reason to think that this trend will change.
4. Since our best explanations of the world make no reference to God it seems that we no evidence and no reason to believe in God. God is just unnecessary. 5.Therefore we should abandon belief in God.

I think this is the most charitable to way put what skep and others have in mind when they talk MN implying ON. If you take as your starting point that the only kind of evidence that counts when it comes to finding out something about the works is empirical or scientific evidence then it becomes very easy to run this type of argument. On this view, questions about life, consciousness and the origin of the universe can only admit of scientific answers and given the abysmal history of intentional explanations in nature of course the naturalist will be extremely resistant to theistic explanations. Of course they're going to reject philosophical arguments because these arguments do not follow the scientific method of offering empirically testable, falsifiable predictions and giving detailed mechanisms explaining why something is the case.

Of course, most people here will declare this argument unsound because premise 1 is self refuting. The statement that science is the only way of understanding the world cannot be proven by scientific experiments or a mathematical theorem. I think that's too quick. A more charitable interpretation of what the naturalist has in mind is something like this:


Science is the most successful and reliable method for gaining knowledge about the world. It's a practice that generates enormous consensus among the relevant experts. Other methods of gaining knowledge about the works (like magic or religious experience) are failures. They are obviously not as successful as science and they generate very little agreement among the relevant 'experts'. Philosophy is another such example. It is true that trying to apply the scientific method to answering some philosophical questions is just a category mistake (though which questions will be a matter of contention; most naturalists think consciousness admits of a scientific answer). However, philosophers have made hardly progress answering philisphical questions. The questions Plato wondered about are still with us thousands of years later. The discipline has generated hardly any agreement among the experts. This is stark contrast with science and even starker contrast with mathematics. This strongly suggests that there is something wrong either with the questions thenselves or the method used to answer them.
Since we have no reason to think that this will change any time soon the best thing to do is to abandon philosophy as a method of finding out about the world and focus on questions that are amenable to scientific solutions.

Of course, this argument would have to be fleshed out in a lot more detail and there is much to say in response to it. But it's still a serious argument that should thought about carefully. I think someone once raised an objection like this before here and the response was basically amounted to crude dogmatism:

'No! Philosophical problems have all been solved by my favourite theory, Thomism. It's explain why the vast majority of professional philosophers reject my favourite theory. They're just ignorant or naturalistic sophists!'

I think a response like this (although it may appeal to someone like llion) is just unsatisfactory.

RD Miksa said...

Dear skep,

Actually, given that I asked you for an example of evidence that would qualify as “clearly and unmistakeably supernatural”, and given that you then provided me with two examples that, to any objective observer, were utterly and obviously not unmistakeably supernatural in origin, then it is reasonable to infer that you really don’t understand your own criteria. If you did, then your examples would have actually met that criteria; but, of course, they didn’t. Hence my rational inference that you really don’t understand your own criteria.

So, let’s try this again: Given that you have made the positive claim that evidence that was “clearly and unmistakeably supernatural” would convince you of the supernatural, then please provide an example that actually matches this criteria.

HyperEntity111 said...

'something about the works'= about the world. I really wish Victor would enable an edit button.

RD Miksa said...

Dear Skep,

You said:

“I think your confusion arises from that fact that there has never been a bona fide documented supernatural event, your credulity about fictional stories in the bible notwithstanding. It is true that all events we have observed are explained as non-supernatural. That's because supernatural events don't happen. But if there should ever be such a thing, and we could see it and say "yup, that's unquestionably supernatural", then I would have no choice but to change my belief. Because I'm not like you and Victor and Bob. I base my beliefs on evidence (the real kind).”

Seriously…attacking my character and intelligence is the best that you can do. That’s some weak sauce right there.

And when it comes from you—the guy who labels himself as skeptical yet is anything but—its really weak.

I should thank you though…your comment, given its content in combination with its sender, made me laugh so hard I almost cried.

B. Prokop said...

" I really wish Victor would enable an edit button."

You're telling me. I just discovered typos in both of my latest two postings.

In the one from 6:48 AM, "That's all in you mind" should read "That's all in your mind."

In the one from 6:52 AM, "I's an excellent way" should read "It's an excellent way."

Ilíon said...

"I really wish Victor would enable an edit button."

I really don't think that's anything *he* can do or not do. It's the Blogger software that doesn't give the option.

B. Prokop said...

"I base my beliefs on evidence (the real kind)."

But you don't, Skep - demonstrably so. If you did, then the existence of prominent contemporary scientists who are also people of faith would demolish your false notion of there being some sort of conflict between the two.

I've supplied you with evidence (the real kind). Why do you not accept it?

Ilíon said...

the person whose picture is in the dictionary to illustrate 'intellectual dishonesty': "Hey, careful, Skep! The phrase "intellectual dishonesty" is trademarked. Watch out, or you'll be paying royalties to Ilion!"

While I may earn a modest royalty off *use* of the phrase “intellectual dishonesty”, Prekopf is funding his early retirement by means of his patent on the *practice* of intellectual dishonesty.

ingx24 said...

'No! Philosophical problems have all been solved by my favourite theory, Thomism. It's explain why the vast majority of professional philosophers reject my favourite theory. They're just ignorant or naturalistic sophists!'

This sounds a lot like Feser's general attitude, which seems to have transferred to a lot of his followers as well. I have a lot of respect for Feser as a thinker - even if I don't agree with his positive theories, he's excellent as a critic - but sometimes I think he is a bit too dogmatic and tends to subtlely misrepresent modern philosophical positions and the motivations behind them: he seems to think that Thomism is the obvious truth, that the only possible motivation for abandoning it was an ideological desire for autonomy from the Church, that the only way one could not be a Thomist is either because of ignorance or intellectual dishonesty, and that all of the problems of modern philosophy (as well as all of the social and political practices he disapproves of) are a result of abandoning Thomism.

Ilíon said...

ing(énue)24: "[Fesser is intellectually dishonest]"

Well, yes he is, which is why I no longer have anything to do with him (and which reasons, contrary to the impression Son-of-Confusion and that cruddy fellow like to spread, I've explained).

BUT, isn't it rich of ing(énue)24 to be making the accusation?

grodrigues said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilíon said...

just one more intellectually dishonest God-hater, who wouldn't (and will not) recognize 'evidence' even if it bit him in the ass: "Just show me something that is clearly and unmistakably supernatural. That's all I require."

*You* are "something that is clearly and unmistakably supernatural" (*). *You* are the proof that God is. *You* are the proof that naturalism is not the truth about the nature of reality.

But, as you are intellectually dishonest, as you are a hypocrite with respect to reason, you chose to deny what is right in front of your face ... and to imagine yourself superior to those who do not. And, ultimately, in choosing to deny that God is, you choose to deny that you yourself are.

(*) given the meaning of the term 'natural' in relation to naturalism.

B. Prokop said...

Bastardized_misspelling_of_Homer's_Iliad: "Prekopf is funding his early retirement by means of his patent on the *practice* of intellectual dishonesty."

(Sounds of gloating from this end...)

Ilíon said...

I pretend to be skeptical: "I think your confusion arises from that fact that there has never been a bona fide documented supernatural event, your credulity about fictional stories in the bible notwithstanding. It is true that all events we have observed are explained as non-supernatural. That's because supernatural events don't happen. But if there should ever be such a thing, and we could see it and say "yup, that's unquestionably supernatural", then I would have no choice but to change my belief. Because I'm not like you and Victor and Bob. I base my beliefs on evidence (the real kind).
"

Science!-fetishists can be so amusing, with their selective hyper-skepticism about miracles compared to their guppy-like swallowing of ‘Science! -- considering the sorts of wonders they *will* believe, it’s clear that the *only* objection they have to miracles is the internationality (and the Intender) behind them.

Ilíon said...

ignorant_person_who_imagines that_his_ignorance_about_the_word_'Ilion' signifies_something_significant: "[d'oh!]"

Well, yes; there is that.

B. Prokop said...

Self_described_(in_Russian_we_refer_to_such_as_"tak_nezyvaemyj")_Intellectually_Honest_Person_responding_to_so-called_"ignorant_person_who_imagines that_his_ignorance_about_the_word_'Ilion' signifies_something_significant": "Well, yes; there is that."

Well, we do agree on some things (now and then)...

B. Prokop said...

Damn! That should have read "tak nazyvaemyj". (I'm sure you all can see how utterly ridiculous it sounds otherwise.)

im-skeptical said...

"The Resurrection"

A fiction. Let me see it for myself. Show me a body that has begun to rot (not someone who is nearly dead*), and let it rise before my eyes.

"Seeing death face to face convinced him of the reality of the human soul."

An emotional feeling. Hardly evidence. Emotions play havoc on ouR thinking processes.

"*You* are "something that is clearly and unmistakably supernatural""

Clearly and unmistakably? Then why don't we all agree about it? I think I am a product of natural processes with no intentional force behind them.



*"Death was historically believed to be an event that coincided with the onset of clinical death. It is now understood that death is a series of physical events, not a single one, and determination of permanent death is dependent on other factors beyond simple cessation of breathing and heartbeat." - Crippen, David. "Brain Failure and Brain Death: Introduction".

B. Prokop said...

"An emotional feeling. Hardly evidence."

Ah, so we're back to the One Tool in the Toolbox method? If you truly operate that way, then I truly just feel sorry for you. There's no other way to put it. Sad, sad, sad.

"A fiction. Let me see it for myself."

Extremely revealing comment. So you don't believe in anything that you yourself have not observed? We both know that's not the case, so why write as though it were? Even more interesting, you appear to deny even the possibility of something occurring outside of your personal lifespan and still being real. So your objection to the Resurrection is it didn't happen after your birth date and before today?

You really need to change your moniker from "im-skeptical" to "im-solipsist".

im-skeptical said...

" So you don't believe in anything that you yourself have not observed?"

I believe in many things I have not personally observed. But not mythical tales in old manuscripts written by unknown persons who weren't there to witness the events, and can't even agree among themselves about what happened.

B. Prokop said...

"mythical tales in old manuscripts written by unknown persons who weren't there to witness the events, and can't even agree among themselves about what happened."

Mythical tales: Isn't that putting the cart before the horse? If you pre-judge an account as "mythical", then of course you're not going to believe in it. I thought you styled yourself "skeptical" - not "close minded".

in old manuscripts: And their age is relevant why? Should someone 2000 years in the future disbelieve everything recorded in the 21st Century on the grounds that the records are "old"?

written by unknown persons: If I were feeling uncharitable, I'd simply say you've drunk the Kool-Aid and leave it at that. Fortunately, you've found me in a good mood today. (My injured left foot which has made me a near cripple for more than two months now has finally healed to the point I can walk without pain once again, and I have nothing but Good Will toward all - even Ilion.) But there is tremendous testimony to the authorship of the four Gospels. I am well aware that it is fashionable nowadays to discount this testimony, but the cold, hard fact is that no one, be he scholar or otherwise, has ever come up with the slightest piece of evidence (you did say you liked evidence, right?) that they were not written by four individuals named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

And even if they were not, what difference would that make? Had they been written by four guys named Jack, Harry, Fred, and Bill, would that change what we read there?

who weren't there to witness the events: Again, on what grounds can you make such a definitive statement? There is sufficient internal and testimonial evidence to make a case for them to be either eyewitness accounts, or very close to being such (second hand at most, such as Luke and possibly Mark). The idea that they were anything but did not enter anyone's head until long after the events described. Now if you are so quick to discount the Gospels on the grounds of their supposedly not being contemporaneous accounts, why are you so readily accepting of doubts that are separated by an even larger space of time? Damnable inconsistency!

and can't even agree among themselves about what happened: Classic case of the "Heads I win, tails you lose" sort of argument. If the four Evangelists agreed on every minor detail, you'd be jumping up and down proclaiming that they weren't four accounts at all, but only one (and therefore not trustworthy). This objection does not even deserve a moment's attention, it is so bogus.

im-skeptical said...

Mythical tales: Yes, many elements of the story of Jesus were drawn from the mythology of the time - the virgin birth, messianic figure, healing the sick, rising from the dead. There is little original material in the Christian mythos.

in old manuscripts: whose provenance is undocumented. The originals are long gone. They were copied, edited and translated along the way.

written by unknown persons who weren't there to witness the events: The consensus of the best scholarship available on the authorship of the gospels is that they were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Look at this, for example.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/gospels.html

and can't even agree among themselves about what happened: Here is a summary of some of the problems with the gospels, including discrepancies between them.

http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/ShreddingTheGospels.htm

Now, I know you will ignore all this because it represents a threat to your beliefs. But there are people who are more interested in learning what they can about the truth than going around claiming they know it.

Crude said...

im-skep,

Once again, crude proves his intellectual dishonesty. Out of all the information available, he cherry-picked the one poll result that he thought proved his point, in an effort to be right despite the truth.

Uhhh, skep? Unlike me, you provided no poll whatsoever. You just blathered that 'most scientists are atheists' and then asspulled reasons why. I provided the Pew poll, which isn't exactly some minor "who are they?" poll. Nor did I say that 'belief in a universal spirit or higher power' == 'God'. I straight up reported the poll numbers, and gave the link to the source.

*I* didn't deny these guys the non-believer label. The scientists themselves did - when it came to the choices, they chose to say they believed in a universal spirit or a higher power. And regardless, according to that poll, the two sides combined outnumber those who do not believe in either God or a universal spirit/higher power.

I know you're angry at this point, due to all the times you left our conversations feeling humiliated and pretty dumb - you're one of those 'I'm an atheist, therefore I'm really smart!' types. But really, don't lie about what I said when the post is clearly available in the same thread. It's a bad, dumb move.

Really, you and Linton also have this idiot aspect going on, talking about 'cherry picking'. In your case, you think literally providing a poll from a major polling organization is an incident of it, if the poll doesn't say what you'd like it to. Linton seems to think cherry picking is 'providing an in-context quote that is portrayed accurately', and linking to the site. He then proceeds to quote Eagleman further, at which point he just further dumps on modern atheism in favor of his own, more possibility-oriented view.

As I said - the thing about you two is I don't have to do much. I just provide data, and you slam your faces into the fists until you're bloody. It's a joy to behold. ;)

B. Prokop said...

"it represents a threat to your beliefs"

But it does not. Not in the least - and not because I've "ignored" these issues. Indeed I've read HUNDREDS of books on the subject, to include many of those you would include in what you call "the consensus of the best scholarship".

As for the Gospels resembling the myths and legends of other cultures, I've gone over this before many times, and on this very website. Of course they do! Imagine a giant stone falling into a pond. There will be an initial splash, but also ripples that spread out until they have reached the furthest corners of the pond. That is analogous to what occurred in the real world at the Incarnation. The "ripples" of that Event spread out through all time and space until we could see reflections of it everywhere and in all times, both past and future. So one would expect to see parallels to the story of Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection everywhere and in every culture. There would be something suspicious if we didn't.

And yes, I've read many, many accounts of the so-called "difficulties" between the four Evangelists. I also am related to two lawyers who have told me that, when they interview multiple witnesses to an incident, they regard minor differences between accounts as evidence that the witnesses are being truthful. It is when two or more accounts are too much alike that suspicions are raised, and the testimony may be discounted due to possible collusion. So the fact that Matthew does not always agree with John, for example, is evidence of their veracity, and not of the opposite.

"[T]here are people who are more interested in learning what they can about the truth than going around claiming they know it."

That's a terrible misrepresentation. I do not pretend to "know the truth", but I do listen to those who do know it - without closing my mind to them. The objections you raise represent no "threat" because I've examined them (fairly and without prejudice) and found them wanting - not because I have knee-jerk dismissed them.

Crude said...

ignx24,

This sounds a lot like Feser's general attitude, which seems to have transferred to a lot of his followers as well. I have a lot of respect for Feser as a thinker - even if I don't agree with his positive theories, he's excellent as a critic - but sometimes I think he is a bit too dogmatic and tends to subtlely misrepresent modern philosophical positions and the motivations behind them: he seems to think that Thomism is the obvious truth, that the only possible motivation for abandoning it was an ideological desire for autonomy from the Church

I don't think this is fair whatsoever. He's never presented Thomism as the *obvious* truth, and he's actually defended everything from Cartesian Dualism to neutral monism from what he thought were unjustified attacks. Nor does he say that CD is obviously wrong - he just thinks there are some particular problems with it.

And he demonstrably doesn't think the only reason for doubting Thomism is a desire for autonomy from the Church. He does believe, historically, that some political views (on both sides of the divide) got caught up in political and social causes - but that's a far weaker claim, and it's hard to deny it generally.

Ed's obviously committed to Thomism, but I don't think he comes anywhere close to exhibiting the sort of bias you're talking about. At best, he thinks materialism is wrong or deceptive, but even there it's not obvious. Outside of materialism, while he defends Thomism, he's pretty damn fair - I don't think you'd see him praising Bertrand Russell's thoughts on mind, etc, as much as you do otherwise

im-skeptical said...

"And regardless, according to that poll, the two sides combined outnumber those who do not believe in either God or a universal spirit/higher power."

Squirm, squirm. Aside from the fact that your statement makes little sense, those "spiritual" scientists are still atheist. They don't believe in god, get it? You are taking a chunk of the atheist population and counting them with the theists. They are still not theists.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505124039.htm

But to hell with the truth, any lie will do when you are trying to score points. That's your nature, crude. Having learned a little philosophy, you think you know it all, and it seems every time you open your mouth on a scientific topic, you prove how ignorant you are.

ingx24 said...

Crude,

I agree that Ed is much fairer to non-Thomistic views than I implied. The kind of attitude I was talking about only seems to appear in some posts on his blog: in others (such as his series on Churchland) he seems much more open-minded. Like I said, Feser is amazing as a critic of materialism: his ideas have been a huge influence on my own thinking, and I have a lot of respect for him as a writer. I just think he's a bit too polemical in favor of his own (Aristotelian) point of view sometimes, is all.

ingx24 said...

Additionally, I've never actually read TLS - I only know about it from reviews I've read of it, so I may be unfairly jumping to conclusions about his beliefs based on blog posts. I've wanted to read TLS for a long time; I really wish I could find a copy of it :(

Crude said...

Squirm, squirm. Aside from the fact that your statement makes little sense, those "spiritual" scientists are still atheist. They don't believe in god, get it? You are taking a chunk of the atheist population and counting them with the theists.

Skep, *I* am the one who pointed out these atheists believed in 'a universal spirit or higher power' in the very first post I made on this subject, and I never presented them as theists - so lying isn't going to help you here. I pointed out the number of scientists who claim to believe in God as well as 'universal spirit or higher power' outnumber those who lack belief in either. That is a fact.

The only one lying here is you. You keep saying that I lied, and imply that I presented that percentage as theists? I nowhere - *nowhere* - said this. Here is my statement from the very first quote:

33% of scientists believe in God, 18% believe in a higher power, 41% believe in neither, 7% don't know or refused to answer.

So, not only does this bungle your attempted explanation, but apparently by your logic scientists still think God is necessary to explain things.


As I said, skep: you're pretty damn slow, and handling you is beyond easy. ;)

In fact, you slammed your face into the wall again with your link. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

More than 20 percent of atheist scientists are spiritual, according to new research from Rice University.

Great. You realize that the Pew poll was not tracking atheists who describe themselves as 'spiritual', yeah? One can believe in neither God, nor a higher power nor universal spirit, and call themselves that. If you confused these terms, wow, you're even more slow than I thought - and frankly, I thought low of you.

But you know what's even better?

Your link quotes Elaine Ecklund's work. You know, Elaine Ecklund, funded by the Templeton Organization?

Shall I take your unprovoked citation of her study as an endorsement of her research? Or are you going to hilariously call it 'cherry picking' when I point out other findings from Ecklund? ;)

Crude said...

ingx24,

No problem. I think Feser is at his fieriest when he's trying to distinguish between Thomism/Classical theism and Theistic Personalism and such. That's when he probably comes off as more dismissive, and that's probably because of the effort involved in clearing up some confusions about that.

Not a fan of amazon? That's where I grabbed it. At this point you should be able to get it on loan from a library. You know, if you go into those primitive, backwards things.

im-skeptical said...

More squirming.

"Skep, *I* am the one who pointed out these atheists believed in 'a universal spirit or higher power' in the very first post I made on this subject, and I never presented them as theists - so lying isn't going to help you here. I pointed out the number of scientists who claim to believe in God as well as 'universal spirit or higher power' outnumber those who lack belief in either. That is a fact."

Here's what you said: "According to Pew Research as of 2009: 33% of scientists believe in God, 18% believe in a higher power, 41% believe in neither, 7% don't know or refused to answer. So, not only does this bungle your attempted explanation, but apparently by your logic scientists still think God is necessary to explain things."

Liar.

"You realize that the Pew poll was not tracking atheists who describe themselves as 'spiritual', yeah?"

Here's what the Pew poll actually tracks: scientists "who don't believe in God, but do believe in a universal spirit or higher power."

Please tell me how that is different from atheists who describe themselves as spiritual.

Liar.

"Your link quotes Elaine Ecklund's work. You know, Elaine Ecklund, funded by the Templeton Organization?"

That only shows even she's smarter than you are. Here's what she said: "Our results show that scientists hold religion and spirituality as being qualitatively different kinds of constructs". Doesn't exactly support your point, does it?

Liar.

Crude said...

Here's what you said:

Thank you for, uh... quoting me verbatim, in response to my quoting myself verbatim.

Liar.

Yes, you are a liar: I nowhere identified the scientists who believe in 'a universal spirit or higher power' with 'the scientists who believe in God'.

So, lie one on your part.

As for the second accusation of liar:

Please tell me how that is different from atheists who describe themselves as spiritual.

Do you need to believe in a higher power or a universal spirit to consider yourself 'spiritual', Skep? Please, tell me that an atheist who describes himself as 'spiritual' - based on that response alone - clearly believes in either a 'universal spirit' or a 'higher power'.

Good Lord, you're dumb.

Here's what she said: "Our results show that scientists hold religion and spirituality as being qualitatively different kinds of constructs". Doesn't exactly support your point, does it?

You realize that Ecklund's study went far behind that article, right Skep? Also, 'my point'? The only 'point' I was making in response to you was pointing out how hilariously your claim about the theistic beliefs of scientists, in light of the actual evidence, crashes and burns dramatically. Here's what you said earlier:

As Bob loves to point out continually, the early scientists were mostly theists. These days, they are mostly atheists. There's a reason for that. Scientists at first wanted their theories to fit into a theistic worldview. But the more they discovered - the more they learned about how things work, the more they come to realize that god isn't necessary to explain things.

Apparently, not only do a sizable number of atheists still - by Skep's standards - apparently 'realize God is necessary to explain things', but when combined with the number who seemingly believe that 'a higher power or a universal spirit' are necessary to explain things, they actually outnumber atheists.

I also asked you to define methodological naturalism, which I see you backed out on. Realized where that was going, eh?

Nowhere did I mount a defense of *religion*. I pointed out the actual state of belief among polled scientists as of 2009. In fact, I expressly said that the truth of Christianity is utterly irrelevant to my points.

Meanwhile, you've demonstrated severe trouble in even *understanding* your own implied arguments, as well as the data I gave up.

You're not only a liar, Skep. You're stupid. And the thing is? You know it. These interactions rile you up, they cause cognitive dissonance in you, because in your mind you're supposed to be smart *because* you're an atheist.

But it doesn't work that way. You're a liar, and you're slow-witted. You probably realize the first one openly, but the second one? That's something you're going to have to come to grips with - and it's not something you can solve by converting to a religion, or deconverting from one. Odds are, it's a fate you're stuck with.

Accept it, and get used to it. ;)

Crude said...

I want to make an additional point here. Quoting myself...

Apparently, not only do a sizable number of atheists still - by Skep's standards - apparently 'realize God is necessary to explain things', but when combined with the number who seemingly believe that 'a higher power or a universal spirit' are necessary to explain things, they actually outnumber atheists.

I want to make clear - this is Skep's dumbass logic. Hence, 'by Skep's standards'. I don't think scientists' beliefs about God, positive or negative, are particularly indicative about the truth or falsity of theism particularly, or religion generally. It's a non-scientific question and field.

But if someone's going to make the idiotic move of claiming that the mass opinions of scientists on theism indicate the intellectual validity or necessity of God's existence, then the conclusion is clear: a substantial number of scientists believe this, or they believe that a 'universal spirit or higher power' is necessary. So much for the validity of atheism/naturalism.

But remember: citing actual polls by professional organizations about the theistic beliefs or atheistic beliefs of scientists is 'cherry picking' and makes you a 'liar'. If you're a goddamn idiot atheist, anyway.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

RD Miksa -- Thanks for your very thoughtful comments. I started to write a reply for the combox, but quickly realized that your comments warranted an entire post at my blog.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/?p=3869

Regards,

Papalinton said...

Hyper
I pretty much agree with all that you write about MN. It may not be the only method of finding out about the world around us but it very much has proven to be the one that has been the most successful in advancing our understanding of the cosmos etc. And until we find a better method there is no real option but to continue with it.

Philosophy and theology are oldest forms of scholarship with science in full flower being a very recent addition to humanity's toolbag of exploration and investigation. Generally, much of science is predicated on deductive reasoning, extrapolating the specific from the general. But unlike science, philosophy and theology owe a larger reliance on inductive reasoning with a somewhat over-dependence on intuition as a basis for substantiation. And as history tells us induction is susceptible to a greater possibility of inferring a conclusion that is false, even if all of the premises are true. Instead of being valid or invalid, inductive arguments are either strong or weak, which describes how probable it is that the conclusion is true. Where there have been claims made by religion that have collided with the claims of science, it is invariably religion that has had to rethink its premises. This has been demonstrated countless times in astronomy, physics, biology, etc. One need only review the changed landscape of religious claims on geo-centrism vs helio-centrism, Adam and Eve vs evolution, evil possession vs schizophrenia or epilepsy, wrath of god vs lightning/thunder etc to appreciate the widening divergence in their respective levels of explanatory power.

I suspect this one-way process will continue into the future.


ingx24 said...

Crude's definitely living up to his name right about now ;)

Crude said...

ingx24,

Crude's definitely living up to his name right about now ;)

I'm pulling no punches, because really, I'm tired of the typical game where we have to pretend that all of the people in a given conversation are really, really smart. I don't call Dan Gillson, Hyper, or yourself stupid, despite some obviously deep disagreements on a variety of topics. There's plenty of agnostics and non-Cult atheists who I think are intelligent, even if wrong.

But when I'm dealing with someone who cries 'Cherry picking!' because I *presented a quote*, or who accuses me of being a liar because 'people who believe in God are not the same as people who believe in a universal spirit or higher power' - when I never said otherwise, and expressly quoted those very distinctions from the poll - and when this sort of thing has happened over and over, over the course of months?

What? Do I keep doing the 'no, see, you're just momentarily confused' gentle head-patting thing forever? Or does there hit a point where it's necessary to tell the person who is very certain of themselves, very sure that they are right and everyone else is wrong, despite their inability to understand even the basics of conversation, that they are as a matter of fact pretty damn stupid?

It does everyone a disservice to pretend that Skep and Linton are smart, just as it's a mistake to treat Linton as intellectually honest despite a demonstrated record of out and out lying about his knowledge. Maybe it will sink in, and Skep will start having thoughts like this:

"I better read up and try to understand what's being said here, instead of frantically disagreeing and googling for what I think are points that support me and attack the other guy - even though I barely understand what I'm copying and pasting either."

Ilíon said...

So, now that everyone has come 'round to agreement with me that 'I-olny-pretend-to-reason' is intellectually dishonest (*), do I get some apologies from those of you who like it incite moral panics over my “tone”? Do I get even as much as a grudging “OK, you were right … again”?


(*) which is even worse than merely being a liar.

Papalinton said...

IngX24
Your overview of Feser and Thomism is astute. And given the circumstances under which he has to operate within contemporary philosophy he has himself corralled into holding the breach, manning the barricades against the infidel philosophers. His greatest wish is a return to Aquinean scholasticism where the doctrines and dogma of the church reign supreme, a Catholic form of sharia scholasticism.

Papalinton said...

Skep has caught you out Crude. Get over it.

ingx24 said...

Ilion,

The difference is that we only call out people for being intellectually dishonest who are, in fact, intellectually dishonest. You accuse people of being intellectually dishonest simply for not agreeing with you.

Crude said...

For the record - and not knowing who Ilion was even speaking of in his comment - I have zero problem calling out people for intellectual dishonesty or stupidity, and never have. But I have a higher standard for what crosses that line than Ilion.

If he was referring to Skep, and if I've referred to Skep as intellectually honest and smart in the past, I'll say Ilion was right and I was wrong in this very thread, and give him his apology upon the instant.

Papalinton said...

I round out the context of Dr Eagleman's statement, correcting the misguided exegesis from Crude. And what happens? He fortuitously disappears from the map.

Equally, not one mention or comment on the substance of Eagleman's neuroscience findings from the religiose. Conspicuous by their absence. Reason? It offends their time-bound indenture to the cause of supernatural superstition.

Even modern philosophy is tracing out a new path for itself devoid of the prescriptive imperatives of religious belief that are now largely considered impediments to realizing a higher standard of contemporary philosophical discourse.

Ilíon said...

No one who posts here (or who lurks here without posting, for that matter) is stupid; and that includes the hypocrite-and-liar who is presently calling people stupid.

As an example, even Papalinton, while he may not be the sharpest marble in the pac, isn't stupid. His problem is that he's intellectually dishonest (*). Well, that and that he's a troll. He's very ignorant, of course, but even *that* goes back to his intellectual dishonesty; for he's willfully ignorant.

(*) a problem he shares with many of you.

Ilíon said...

ing(énue)24: "The difference is that we only call out people for being intellectually dishonest who are, in fact, intellectually dishonest. You accuse people of being intellectually dishonest simply for not agreeing with you."

Both of these claims are false: the first is likely a self-deception, the second is a deliberate lie.

You people start tossing around "liar" and "intellectually dishonest" -- though, to be fair, you do tend to make both accusations more obliquely, more passive-aggressively -- simply because you get frustrated. That, and indigestion.

ing(énue)24, the lying hypocrite, knows from personal experience that I don't "accuse people of being intellectually dishonest simply for not agreeing with" me -- for, if I did actually do that, I'd have publically labeled him as such at our very first interaction. Hell! I even overlooked two or three of his pointless personal attacks and/or lame attempts to insult me. ANd even *after* I was convinced that he isn't simply honestly mistaken, but is, in fact, intellectually dishonest, I didn't label him that. Mind you, we're talking about a period of many months, here. It was only a few weeks ago, and at his own insistent urging, that I finally bit the bullet and called him the spade he is.

im-skeptical said...

Just for the record, let me recap. Please correct me if I mischaracterize the gist of this.

S: In the early days of science, most were theists, and now most are atheists...

C: Here's a poll showing 33% are theists and another 18% are 'spiritual', which proves you are wrong and actually shows that scientists still think god is necessary to explain things. (Note that there's no other way to interpret this. He's lumping atheists with theists to make a 'majority' and show that I'm wrong.)

then

"I provide easily verified, easily understood data, facts, and arguments within view of the stupidest, most intellectually dishonest atheists around"

then

Skep has made a false claim and I demonstrated the falsity.

then (apparently having recognized his blunder, attempts to repair the damage)

"scientists who are theists + believers in a higher power, outnumber the atheists and agnostics" (Note that the number of theists has now been recognized as a minority, but he's too dishonest to admit he was wrong, so he pretends that the spiritual atheists should be counted with the theists)

S: You're intellectually dishonest. (If he did actually did mean what he said by his revised statement, then he wasn't disputing my original claim at all. But he refuses to admit that he was wrong.)

C: You're intellectually dishonest, and stupid.

S: You're a liar.

and so on ...

C: "But when I'm dealing with someone who cries 'Cherry picking!' because I *presented a quote*, or who accuses me of being a liar because 'people who believe in God are not the same as people who believe in a universal spirit or higher power' - when I never said otherwise, and expressly quoted those very distinctions from the poll..." (No, it wasn't a quote - he left out the part about them being atheists, and he's still lying about it.)

Crude said...

No one who posts here (or who lurks here without posting, for that matter) is stupid; and that includes the hypocrite-and-liar who is presently calling people stupid.

I see the coward and fop is unwilling to, despite his many protestations to the contrary, call a spade a spade.

Yes, Ilion - they are stupid. When someone says 'Cherry picking!' in response to simply citing data, when they say 'liar!' in response to not liking a claim - and when they continue this general pattern for months upon months on end - as a matter of fact, it becomes reasonable to infer that they are quite stupid. They are slow, they do not understand things, and they think they understand what they do not.

Likewise for Linton. You say his ignorance is willful? I wonder how you arrive at that conclusion, as opposed to the alternative: that he would like, dearly like, to understand and grasp what he's talking about, but it is simply beyond his ken. Even if he tried to learn, the requirement on his part would be too demanding for him to meet.

Not all ignorance is willful. In the case of Skep and Linton, I think evidence indicates that what they lack is not will, but capacity.

You? You're not stupid. You're quite intelligent, in fact. You're just a thin-shelled, hostile person besides.

I leave you to your passive aggressive reply. Though at this point, your tendency to invent nicknames for people who are on your enemies list just makes your statements confusing, because your enemies list is so massive

Ilíon said...

... but, then again, what do I know? Maybe Papalinton really is stupid ... after all, the only time I ever read anything he has posted is when someone else quotes it. And even then, if I realize it's him the person is disputing with, there is a good chance I'll skip it.

BUT, if you people really do believe that he really is stupid, then *why* are you torturing him? If he really is stupid, as opposed to intellectually dishonest, then he can't help it that he makes the inane posts he makes. If you really do believe that he is stupid, then you are sinning by engaging in these pointless spats with him.

Crude said...

Please correct me if I mischaracterize the gist of this.

It would be my pleasure.

S: In the early days of science, most were theists, and now most are atheists...

You chopped off pertinent details. Here is your full quote:

As Bob loves to point out continually, the early scientists were mostly theists. These days, they are mostly atheists. There's a reason for that. Scientists at first wanted their theories to fit into a theistic worldview. But the more they discovered - the more they learned about how things work, the more they come to realize that god isn't necessary to explain things.

Key here: you suggested that the prevalence or lack of theism among scientists is linked to a realization that God is or isn't necessary to 'explain things'.

Here's a poll showing 33% are theists and another 18% are 'spiritual', which proves you are wrong and actually shows that scientists still think god is necessary to explain things. (Note that there's no other way to interpret this. He's lumping atheists with theists to make a 'majority' and show that I'm wrong.)

Saying that 18% are 'spiritual' is a flat out lie. The 18% believe 'In a higher power or a universal spirit' according to the very terms of the poll itself, and which I directly quoted. At no point did I say that the 18% are theists - I *expressly quoted the article on this and gave a link to it*.

I then said that, together, the theistic scientists and the scientists who believe in 'a higher power or a universal spirit' (Again, this isn't 'spiritual') outnumber the atheists. This is a fact, not disputed. Find me where I said that the 18% are theists. Quote me.

You won't do so, because I never said this. You're lying, and you're doing so to cover up a dumb move on your part.

You're intellectually dishonest. (If he did actually did mean what he said by his revised statement, then he wasn't disputing my original claim at all. But he refuses to admit that he was wrong.)

No, you inanely misrepresented me - and worse, you've lied about the poll. The 18% didn't say they were 'spiritual'. They said they 'believed in a higher power or a universal spirit'. Key damn difference there, my friend.

As for the classification of scientists: 17% call themselves atheists, 11% agnostic, 20% nothing in particular. By the same damn poll, which you apparently didn't see fit to read before going on about this.

(No, it wasn't a quote - he left out the part about them being atheists, and he's still lying about it.)

Once again, by the same poll that I linked to: 17% atheist, 11% agnostic, 20% nothing in particular.

Now, tell me: do these results show that 'most scientists are atheists'? Or are you going to compound your 'spirituality' lie by claiming that agnostics and 'nothing in particular' are atheists - when the scientists themselves differentiated?

Crude said...

BUT, if you people really do believe that he really is stupid, then *why* are you torturing him? If he really is stupid, as opposed to intellectually dishonest, then he can't help it that he makes the inane posts he makes.

Torturing him? I'm helping him. Do you think it's helping him to pretend he or Skep are actually quite intelligent? Do you see the value that would come from their finally realizing that, while an atheist can be intelligent, simply being an atheist does not make them intelligent? This is one of the key notions we have to disabuse people of - and we're not going to manage if we refuse to call the evidentially stupid exactly that.


If you really do believe that he is stupid, then you are sinning by engaging in these pointless spats with him.

95% of the time, I ignore Linton. I just couldn't resist pointing out the inanity of a Cultist of Gnu, who claim to be the standard-bearers for science and scientists alike, dumping on the vast majority of scientists.

And what's the sin? Don't tell me it's a sin to point out someone's stupidity, or call them stupid - or if you do, you're going to have to show me how you arrived at that conclusion. Are you really going to tell me sternly rebuking the slow and proud is sinful, or better yet, unbiblical?

Crude said...

Also, to correct this:

If he really is stupid, as opposed to intellectually dishonest, then he can't help it that he makes the inane posts he makes.

You don't have to be smart to be intellectually dishonest. In fact, stupidity exacerbates the problem at times - is there anything more annoying than a dumb intellectually dishonest person who thinks they're so smart that they're getting away with it?

For an example of this, see the transmutation of 'I don't believe in God, but I believe in a higher power or universal spirit' to 'An atheist who feels spiritual'. They are different things, relatively different things. It's intellectually dishonest to present the latter as the former, and to most people that's obvious. But a slow person may think they can get away with it.

im-skeptical said...

And the intellectual dishonesty continues.

"As for the classification of scientists: 17% call themselves atheists, 11% agnostic, 20% nothing in particular. By the same damn poll, which you apparently didn't see fit to read before going on about this"

You changed the wording from religious affiliation to classification. Yes, it's the same poll - the one that clearly identifies 59% of scientists as non-believers, but a small majority as having a religious affiliation. Now you want us to forget about their beliefs and just focus on the religious affiliation, which you dishonestly call classification. Obviously, some of those non-believers still claim a religious affiliation. I sometimes refer to myself as Catholic, depending on the circumstances. But I'm still an atheist.

Why don't you give it up, crude? You were and are wrong. Just admit it. And stop lying. Maybe if you weren't so desperate to prove me wrong, you wouldn't be so willing to distort the truth.

Papalinton said...

What delightful piety, crude exercising restraint in ignoring PapaL 95% of the time. And so he well should. Because 95% of the time Crude has no answer in response to the challenges to the deeper intellectual turmoil caused by the suspension of reality that, and of the irreconcilable and particularly problematic nature, that supernatural superstition presents.

Charges of stupidity, low-intelligence, intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, vacuity, idiocy, moronic, all that im-skeptical is currently experiencing, is the conventional etiquette of the purveyors of the non-existent when their baloney is robustly challenged or vigorously prosecuted as Skep has legitimately and persuasively done with Crude's theo-sophistry nonsense.

And as S T Joshi, Indian-American literary scholar and celebrated author, writes:

"The atheistic, agnostic, or secularist .... should not be cowed by exaggerated sensitivity to people's religious beliefs .... Those who advocate a piece of folly like the theory of an 'intelligent creator' should be held accountable for their folly; they have no right to be offended for being called fools until they establish that they are not in fact fools."

In my least charitable mood, Crude the Credulous Cretin. The Triple-C of scientifically-uninformed philosophy and Archetypal Feserite.



Crude said...

And the intellectual dishonesty continues.

Yes, Skep, I frankly wish you'd not engage in it.

You changed the wording from religious affiliation to classification. Yes, it's the same poll - the one that clearly identifies 59% of scientists as non-believers, but a small majority as having a religious affiliation.

'Non-believers'? Woah now, what's this?

You said that 'most scientists were atheists', and drew conclusions about the intellectual state of theism from that. I responded with a poll that showed most scientists expressly call themselves theists, or believe in a 'higher power or universal spirit'.

Now, you lied - repeatedly, and after being corrected - and said that the poll showed that 18% of scientists were 'spiritual'. That's not what the poll stated, nor was it what I quoted. They believe in the existence of a higher power or a universal spirit. You decided to claim those scientists as being atheists.

So, we go back to the poll: it turns out only 17% of scientists called themselves atheists, 11% were agnostic, and 20% were 'nothing in particular'.

Suddenly, your claim about most scientists being atheists dissipates, and is now replaced with some vague 'non-believer' status. Which really just goes to show your 'intellectual dishonesty' charge is one of projection.

I sometimes refer to myself as Catholic, depending on the circumstances. But I'm still an atheist.

Yeah, you know what? "I'm an atheist, but sometimes I call myself a Catholic" doesn't do wonders for deflecting the charges that A) you're intellectually dishonest, or B) you're not exactly intelligent.

Agnostics are not atheists, Skep. The scientists *themselves* are not defining themselves as atheist. So much for your original claim that 'most scientists are atheists', at least according to this poll. So much in turn for your extrapolation that 'scientists are finding God isn't necessary, which is why they are atheists'.

Why don't you give it up, crude?

Because illustrating both your stupidity and intellectual dishonesty is a teaching moment for you. And as you're finding out, going quiet when you're directly exposed as lying and misrepresenting data (as in the 'they're spiritual' versus 'they believe in a higher power or universal spirit' debacle), and repeating charges that have been shown to be false, don't dig you out of this hole.

You were wrong, Skep. As usual. The available data doesn't go the way you want it to, and pressing the matter has only made it worse. You've actually backed yourself into the corner of insisting that, despite only 17% of the scientists polled calling themselves atheists, and despite 'atheism' not being the only option for someone who doesn't believe in God (there's also agnosticism or 'nothing in particular'), somehow - perhaps by divination - you're certain that most scientists are atheist after all.

See, Skep? I'm trying to help you. Once you admit that you don't know nearly as much as you think - and that you're not nearly as smart as you'd like to believe - you will be able to make progress. But trying to lie and deceive people, in less than intelligent ways? It's not working out for you, and it likely never will.

B. Prokop said...

For the record, I don't think Skep, Linton, or Ilion are stupid.

Skep is obtuse, and yes, willfully so.

Ilion is highly intelligent, but woefully abrasive and needs a good course in proper manners. And being on the internet hiding behind a pseudonym is no excuse for boorish behavior.

Linton is simply possessed. I've said this before, and the more I read from him, the more I am convinced of it. He doesn't need a good argument - he needs an exorcism.

ingx24 said...

Linton is simply possessed. I've said this before, and the more I read from him, the more I am convinced of it. He doesn't need a good argument - he needs an exorcism.

I'd be interested to know why this is - I don't know if I believe in demonic possession, but I'm curious as to what symptoms of it Linton is displaying :P

Papalinton said...

"'d be interested to know why this is - I don't know if I believe in demonic possession, but I'm curious as to what symptoms of it Linton is displaying :P"

Oh to be sure. You must believe Bob as he hi,self believes otherwise you are ignorant of reality. The dark arts of Catholic ritual persist even to this very day. Dan Brown was right. It never went away. ;oD

B. Prokop said...

ing,

His utter inability to understand plain English sentences - far beyond any possible explanation of mere stupidity or slow-wittedness. It's like he's somehow prevented from comprehension by an external force. (Imagine trying to get to a goal, and someone is physically, bodily holding you back. Now make that mental.)

And the palpable evil discernible in his endless blather of incomprehensible words upon words upon words - semantically-null verbiage not intended to convey information, but rather to darken the intellect and spread a fog of confusion over all rational processes.

What really got me suspicious was the apparent absence of willfulness on his part. Darkness Visible spreads from his postings like some inanimate force, or at best a brute, mindless beast.

Finally, the single-mindedness of his wearingly repetitious failures to learn the least thing, no matter how many times you rub his nose in the Truth. It calls to mind the descriptions of the Un-man's tempting of the woman in C.S. Lewis's novel Perelandra, causing Ransom to wonder whether it was he that was going insane, rather than just being exposed to insanity. (If you haven't read Perelandra yet, stop whatever you are doing right now, and do so at once!)

So I had a choice of believing that Linton was either willfully rejecting Wisdom, or that he was somehow being prevented from accepting it. Since he (all appearances on the internet to the contrary) seems to be a decent fellow, out of charity I concluded it was the latter.

Crude said...

I dunno, Bob. 'Stupidity' seems like a good explanation for the problems you're documenting.

But hey, I'm willing to add 'demonic influence' to the legitimate possibilities list. Lesser sort. Mayhap a golgothan!

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

"And the palpable evil discernible in his endless blather of incomprehensible words upon words upon words - semantically-null verbiage not intended to convey information, but rather to darken the intellect and spread a fog of confusion over all rational processes."

Oh Bob. How can that be? If it's incomprehensible how do you know its is evil? If I am unable to convey information how is the 'palpable evil discernible'? If my verbiage is semantically-null how does that 'darken the intellect and spread a fog of confusion over all rational processes in any meaningful sense? But if that is the case, and I am able to communicate evil by not saying anything, then I am truly blessed with the dark arts of communicating through not saying anything meaningful. That is a precious gift of which I was not even aware I had. So I can only deduce, the skill must have been acquired when I was an ardent Christian and I ditched Christianity years ago when I discovered that praying was just another form of talking to myself.

Bob Geldof, Irish singer, knighted for his great humanitarian work, was asked in 2006, "Are you a saint or a sinner?" He replied, "Being an atheist I can't be either." And just like Bob Geldof, I too cannot be influenced by christianity's Satan, because I simply don't subscribe to superstitious claptrap.

Apparently you have listened to the little voices in your head and God has indeed been whispering in your shell-like informing that I am Satan incarnate, in need of exorcism. How else would you have been able to discern evil from my incomprehensible verbiage, other than through the secret communication channel with the Big Cheese himself. Right?

Talking of incomprehensible words, Christianity is the only sphere of which I am aware that has brought 'speaking-in-tongue' to such exquisite levels of heightened transcendence. God, at his most osmotic, suffuses right into the very marrow of believers, possessed as it were. And as the pious autonomic creatures they are, and ion this heightened sense of excitement Christians begin to converse with Him in tongue. Now doesn't that beat all?

You really should one day sit down with a cup of tea and watch some of the videos on Youtube as Christians master this art of God-speak that streams effortlessly from their mouthparts as if a stream of unconsciousness right from the very top of their heads.

You know what? If you and I didn't know any better we would be almost convinced that these tongue-speaking believers were in a supernatural-like trance. But you and I know that it definitely isn't a case of mass hallucination don't we, Bob? And we also know Christians can and do converse with God every day in-tongue, don't we?

In summary of my response, I say; Pull. The. Other. Leg.

Sheesh!

WMF said...

"Mythical tales: Yes, many elements of the story of Jesus were drawn from the mythology of the time - the virgin birth, messianic figure, healing the sick, rising from the dead. There is little original material in the Christian mythos."

You really need to change your name to "I will believe any anti-christian garbage I find on the internet".

Papalinton said...

"You really need to change your name to "I will believe any anti-christian garbage I find on the internet"."

Give it a break, WMF. Who's been messing with your intellectual pertooty? Anti-christian garbage? No such thing exists.
You claim God is not matter; but then neither is non-existence.
You claim God does not have limitations; but then neither does non-existence.
You claim God is not visible. but then Neither is non-existence.
You say God cannot be described; but then neither can non-existence.

Based on these criteria a Christian, WMF, is a dipstick who is puzzled by the obvious, but thoroughly understands the non-existent.

Do you not feel sometimes any tinge of embarrassment in perpetuating paleolithic superstitious claptrap in the 21st C? A belief in supernaturalism is just plain knuckleheadedness.



WMF said...

You claim God is not matter; but then neither is non-existence.
You claim God does not have limitations; but then neither does non-existence.
You claim God is not visible. but then Neither is non-existence.
You say God cannot be described; but then neither can non-existence.

Based on these criteria a Christian, WMF, is a dipstick who is puzzled by the obvious, but thoroughly understands the non-existent.


Dear Papalinton,
I usually ignore the incoherent bullshit you spout at every opportunity and thus don't comment on it, but I am utterly amazed by the number of times you manage to contradict yourself here. What a great reminder of how your stupidity makes you a living legend.

B. Prokop said...

Careful, WMF. Along the road to madness is taking Linton too seriously. Take this most recent posting of his. The ravings of a fever dream, yet innocently presented to us in what passes for the English language.

So let's take a look. (WARNING: Don't try this at home; I am a professional driver on a closed course here.)

You claim God is not matter; but then neither is non-existence.

But then, neither is Love, or Reason, or Consciousness, or The Brothers Karamazov, or Liberty, or Courage, or... well, you get the point.

You claim God does not have limitations; but then neither does non-existence.

Who said God does not have limitations? Did not Abraham demand of God, "Shall not the judge of all the Earth do right?" (implying that God could do no wrong)

You claim God is not visible. but then Neither is non-existence.

See point number one. But also, throughout the New Testament we are told again and again that to see Jesus is to see God. He is very much visible. (best examples of this: John 14:9, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:2-3, and many other places)

You say God cannot be described; but then neither can non-existence.

I can't recall anyone ever saying God cannot be described, but simply that He cannot be adequately described.

But perhaps most interesting of all is the "logic" Linton employs here. He wants you to believe that since (in his mind, at least) God and Nothingness share these qualities, then the only possible conclusion is God = Nothingness. Well. Let's see how such "logic" works in another example.

You claim that Bob is a human being; but then so is Linton.
You claim that Bob speaks English; but so does Linton.
You claim that Bob is male; but so is Linton.


Hmmm... By Linton's own reasoning, he and I are the same person!!!

Papalinton said...

In the brain of every christian there is a god-shaped vacuum. How else can one explain the irrationality behind the comments of WMF and Prokop?

The archetypal woo-meisters. Specialists in the ineffable, unseen, unknowable spectral numen.

The great Henry Louis Mencken, journalist and critic, so eloquently intoned:

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.".

Today, 80 years on, that opposition remains a clear and present existential threat to humanity, a mill-stone around the neck of society impeding growth and development.

[It was on Mencken's advice that defense attorney Clarence Darrow put the prosecutor, biblical fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan, on the stand, where Darrow made a total fool of him in the Scopes Trial. Read the transcript]

im-skeptical said...

WMF

"You really need to change your name to "I will believe any anti-christian garbage I find on the internet"."

Actually, I read. Evidently, you don't. If you don't think those things are true, please present your evidence. (preferably something other that religious apologetic lies)

B. Prokop said...

For all to see, Skep has proven Ilion to be 100% correct (at least, as regards to Skep). He is "intellectually dishonest".

How, you might ask? Examine what he writes: "If you don't think those things are true, please present your evidence. (preferably something other than religious apologetic lies)"

Oh, there is so much there, so much there... where to begin?

Skep starts out by saying, "If you don't think those things are true, please present your evidence." So what's wrong with that? Well, for starters, it violates the atheists' favorite argument-stopper, by which they claim they have no need to prove their own case, because "no one can prove a negative". But lo and behold, Skep has no problem whatsoever demanding that WMF perform that very feat. Sauce for the goose, anyone?...

Let's continue. He next writes, "(preferably something other than religious apologetic lies)" ... Oh, I'm sorry. That sound you all just heard was me choking on my laughter. Let's analyze this delicious phraseology. He's ostensibly asking WMF to present a case for the truth of religion, but he's not allowed to employ "religious apologetic lies". But what is "apologetics"? It is defined as "defending a position through the systematic use of information" (Wikipedia), or as a "systematic argumentative discourse" (Merriam Webster Dictionary).

So by definition, any argument in favor of Christianity (or in favor of anything, actually) is "apologetics". But the ironically-named "im-skeptical" (though he shows here that he is anything but) has declared all arguments in favor of religion as "lies"! Before WMF has even begun to type!!!

What to do, what to do? Poor WMF - he's faced with quite the problem here. If he says nothing, Skep imagines that he's silenced a critic. If he says anything at all in defense of his views, he's defined as a liar!

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

I haven't silenced anybody. I asked him not to present lies, as he has already implied that what I think I know is nothing but internet lies. That's fair, wouldn't you say? If my knowledge is based on false internet stories, he should be able to debunk that with adequately sourced material (including apologetic.)

As for proving a negative, there is plenty of historical material to back up what I said. You can google any of those topics and see for yourself. He made the positive assertion that it's a bunch of lies. Let him back up his claim.

B. Prokop said...

Your use of the phrase "religious apologetic lies" is what makes you undeserving of the title "skeptical". If anything, it demonstrates an astonishing level of closed mindedness. How can you label apologetics "lies" and still expect someone, anyone, to present a "systematic argumentative discourse" (which is what apologetics means)?

Essentially, in advance of hearing a person's case, you've dismissed it ahead of time as "lies".

Care to change your wording?

Crude said...

Care to change your wording?

That wouldn't exactly be getting to the heart of the problem, and I think Skep's stumbling explanation ('Oh I just said not to present lies, that's fair isn't it, who wants to read lies?' basically) just illustrates some of what I've been talking about.

There's more to being open-minded than saying 'I'm open-minded'. There's more to real skeptical thought than 'I'll name myself i-m-skeptical, that way everyone knows I'm skeptical'.

im-skeptical said...

"Care to change your wording?"

Sure. How about this: something other than the crap spewed by the likes of Bob and crude.

B. Prokop said...

Much better.

Ilíon said...

="For all to see, Skep has proven Ilion to be 100% correct ([again!]). He is "intellectually dishonest"."

Ilíon is always "100% correct". Even that one time he thought he'd been wrong, it turns out he was mistaken.

"Skep's" intellectual dishonesty -- his hypocrisy with respect to reason -- regarding God and the things of God, has been on full display for all to see since he first arrived at Mr Reppert’s blog.

[continued]

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"Your use of the phrase "religious apologetic lies" is what makes you undeserving of the title "skeptical". If anything, it demonstrates an astonishing level of closed mindedness. How can you label apologetics "lies" and still expect someone, anyone, to present a "systematic argumentative discourse" (which is what apologetics means)?"

Since you seem to be a little slow on the uptake, let me try again. This time, I'll write slower for your benefit. WMF said: "You really need to change your name to "I will believe any anti-christian garbage I find on the internet"." My reply to him used a rhetorical device called "parody". Let's see if I can explain this. It's sort of like when you echo a facsimile of someone's words back in a manner that sounds serious, but is really mocking. It's kind of funny. I know this is a difficult concept for someone who's not as obtuse as I am, but put on your thinking cap for a moment, and I'm sure you'll get the idea.

Ilíon said...

There are three - and only three - general categories of explanation for why a person believes or assets what is false, or argues/reasons (using the terms loosely) incorrectly and illogically -
1) inability to do otherwise --
1a) necessity - IF materialism is the truth about the nature of reality, THEN *no one* is actually able to argue/reason correctly and logically. Thus, *both* the man who is “reasoning” “incorrectly” and the man who is “reasoning” “correctly” are merely behaving as dictated by the mechanical necessity of prior physical states.

IF materialism is the truth about the nature of reality, THEN all explanations (for everything, not just this present topic) stop here.

BUT IF materialism is NOT the truth about the nature of reality, THEN at least one of the following categories of general explanation applies to the present issue --

1b) stupidity - that is, the person does not and cannot grasp where his error is, cannot understand how or why his belief or assertion is false, cannot understand how or why his reasoning about that belief or assertion is incorrect or illogical.

IF there is someone in this whole wide world of whom this is true, how would *we* ever know it? That a person may be demonstrably slow to understand some matter does entail that he is incapable of grasping it.

BUT, whether or not one has rational and moral justification for believing it, if one does believe that another is "too stupid" to grasp the matter at hand, then one is morally (and rationally) obliged to leave the idiot alone. If one does indeed believe that one is dealing with an idiot, then, definitionally, one believes that he cannot help himself. Thus, since one believes that that one's own self has a choice in the matter, one *also* believes that taunting the "idiot" over his inability to believe otherwise that he does, no matter that his belief is erroneous, is a grave offence against both reason and morality.

2) prevention from doing otherwise -- this is the category of 'ignorance', of 'honest error'. The person's belief or assertion is incorrect, or his reasoning is invalid or illogical, but he does not yet understand that truth. He is capable of knowing the truth of the matter, and he (incorrectly) believes he already does know the truth of the matter. His problem is that there is some other error in the set of all his beliefs (and/or attitudes) that is presently preventing him correctly understanding the immediate topic at hand or point at issue.

This is the potential explanatory category of the other person's error that reason, and charity, requires us to subscribe to ... until it is no longer a reasonable explanation. To insist that the other's error is simple honest ignorance, when it is clear that it is something else, is not charity, it is sin; moreso to try to impose that false insistence upon others, for one’s own self becomes guilty of intellectual dishonesty.

3) disinclination to do otherwise -- in the present context, this disinclination to do otherwise is dishonesty of some sort; either episodic (i.e. simple lying about some fact or other) or systemic (i.e. lying about the very natures of truth and/or reasoning themselves, which is to say, intellectual dishonesty). As with 2) above, the person is capable of understanding the truth of the matter -- he may even already, in fact, know the truth of the matter -- but he does not desire to know and/or to state the truth of the matter.

Syllabus said...

He wants you to believe that since (in his mind, at least) God and Nothingness share these qualities, then the only possible conclusion is God = Nothingness.

It gets worse. Identity of indiscernibles only works if the two objects/substances/etc share all the same properties. Saying non-being shares any properties with anything is just misguided, since non-being/nothingness/whatever by definition has no properties. But hey, to paraphrase the Persian proverb, there is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and
danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from an internet commentator.

Crude said...

Nice attempt, Ilion. I mean that. You should do more of this. Not that you care for my input.

But I disagree with the key and relevant points.

BUT, whether or not one has rational and moral justification for believing it, if one does believe that another is "too stupid" to grasp the matter at hand, then one is morally (and rationally) obliged to leave the idiot alone.

First, you haven't argued for why one is morally and rationally obligated to leave the idiot alone.

But second, and most importantly: take the case of the idiot who wants to expound upon quantum physics with authority. He may be incapable of grasping quantum physics, and no amount of taunting will change that, true. However, he may be able to grasp, eventually, that no matter what he thinks, he is not an authority on quantum physics. He may realize that he's not as smart as he thinks he is, that he's incapable of getting people to think he's as smart as he thinks he is, and pull back as a result.

The goal here isn't to mock someone until they understand what they're bungling. It's to point out their stupidity - which includes their inability to fake knowledge or fool others (into intellectual dishonesty territory) - in the hopes that A) realizing they don't know what they do, that they will be self-skeptical as a matter of course, and B) will lay off the intellectual dishonesty, once made aware that they're not fooling anyone, and that the odds speak against their being able to fool anyone.

You seem to think that I'm calling out idiots as idiots in the hopes that it will somehow make them NOT idiots, or they'll be able to grasp what they can't grasp. That's not the point. The point is to make them aware that they don't understand things as much as they think they do, and they're not nearly as crafty as they may fancy themselves. Both of those are in principle within reach.

In this case, the operative problem isn't the stupidity - it's misplaced confidence in ability. There is, especially among the Cult of Gnu, this belief that merely being in the Cult makes them quite smart. I don't think it's wise to refrain from disabusing the actual dumb ones of that notion.

ingx24 said...

Ilion,

By your own definition, you are intellectually dishonest. You are not just incapable, but unwilling to grasp the idea that atheism and materialism are not the same thing. You dogmatically hold to the idea that one simply must be a materialist if one does not believe in God, and are unwilling to even entertain the idea that you might be wrong. You assume, without argument, that the combination of atheism + non-materialism is logically inconsistent, and that anyone who holds atheism without materialism is being intellectually dishonest. Things are not as black-and-white as you think they are, and you refuse to even attempt to understand positions other than your own. You're narcissistic beyond belief: you literally believe that it is impossible for you to be wrong about anything, and that you alone know the truth about everything. Whenever someone disagrees with you, you just stick your fingers in your ears and refuse to even entertain the idea that they might be right. I'm not sure what exactly is wrong with you; you clearly have some kind of mental/emotional problem that gives you a paranoid, warped view of reality. But whatever it is, I sincerely hope you get over it eventually: it's clearly hurting you and the people around you, and you really need to get help.

RD Miksa said...

Dear skep,

Earlier I said:

"So, let’s try this again: Given that you have made the positive claim that evidence that was “clearly and unmistakeably supernatural” would convince you of the supernatural, then please provide an example that actually matches this criteria."

I'm still waiting...so, do you have your example at hand.

RD Miksa

im-skeptical said...

RD,

I already gave two examples. Now let me just add my caveat. Of course, whenever something is claimed to be miraculous, people will be skeptical about it. They will first want to rule out any naturalistic explanation. Why? Because they believe that some such explanation is in fact most likely to be the cause. To put the shoe on the other foot for a moment, consider that theists will never abandon their theistic explanations for things, no matter how much evidence to the contrary may be provided. what I'm saying is that, unlike the theist, given sufficient evidence to believe that something is supernatural in origin, I will change my beliefs.

So let's think of a hypothetical situation. Say I have a banana tree, and it is under constant surveillance, so that nobody can go near its fruit without being detected. We watch and wait at the fruit grows and ripens, knowing that it hasn't been meddled with. Then I peel open the newly ripened banana and see my name spelled out in clear, black lettering, in a uniform 50-point font against the white background of the inner skin of the banana peel. I would certainly ask, "has anyone tampered with this?", and "is there any plausible explanation for this?" But failing any positive response to those questions (and I would agree that it is an extraordinary thing that has no explanation in natural law), then I must conclude that it was supernatural.

Now, this is a hypothetical. An event such as the one I describe, has never happened in this world, as far as I know. (People disagree with that, I know.) But that's the reason people are so skeptical about claims of the supernatural. For everything that has occurred so far, there has always been a plausible explanation without resorting to the supernatural.

B. Prokop said...

"consider that theists will never abandon their theistic explanations for things, no matter how much evidence to the contrary may be provided."

Absolutely, totally, completely, 100% untrue. Could not be more false. This is a classic case of psychological projection. Skep can't imagine himself ever admitting to a theistic explanation for anything, so he imagines that people of faith are the mirror image of his own closed mindedness.

The reality is quite different. When presented with a claim that a miracle has occurred, the Catholic Church will do everything in its power to prove that there is some completely natural explanation for the event. It is only after a long (often stretching over decades or even generations) and arduous process that the Church will (quite reluctantly, and always with the caveat that it might change its mind upon further evidence) announce that a genuine miracle has "most likely" occurred. (That's as close as it ever comes to saying, "Yes, that's a miracle.")

And as for Skep's ridiculous example of a banana tree, how is that even remotely related to the supernatural? Bear with me as I once again give you the definition of a miracle: A one-time, non-repeatable and extremely rare occurrence not dependent upon natural law - a direct intervention into this world by God for the express purpose of shedding light upon the Incarnation and/or the Resurrection, and relevant to our salvation.

Now how in God's Green Earth would your name inside a banana peel satisfy those criteria?

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

I also gave another example. Remember?

B. Prokop said...

And now I'm off for a night of astronomical observation. Going to explore the star fields of Sagittarius and Aquila. Hope to catch a glimpse of the red dwarf Ross 154 (an exceedingly difficult target from the light-polluted skies of Maryland).

im-skeptical said...

"The reality is quite different. When presented with a claim that a miracle has occurred, the Catholic Church will do everything in its power to prove that there is some completely natural explanation for the event. It is only after a long (often stretching over decades or even generations) and arduous process that the Church will (quite reluctantly, and always with the caveat that it might change its mind upon further evidence) announce that a genuine miracle has "most likely" occurred. (That's as close as it ever comes to saying, "Yes, that's a miracle.")"

It didn't take them that long to declare that John Paul II had performed not one, but two miracles AFTER HE DIED.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jul/07/opinion/la-oe-krauss-pope-miracle-sainthood-20130708

Crude said...

AFTER HE DIED.

I like how you capitalize that, as if it's supposed to be particularly shocking here.

And your reply does nothing to dispute Bob's point.

im-skeptical said...

"Absolutely, totally, completely, 100% untrue. Could not be more false. This is a classic case of psychological projection. Skep can't imagine himself ever admitting to a theistic explanation for anything, so he imagines that people of faith are the mirror image of his own closed mindedness."

Some theists not only admit it, but they hold it up as a badge of honor. They call it faith. They proudly declare that it is unshakeable. Others refuse to admit it. They say that their belief is based on evidence and reason. They are liars.

Crude said...

Some theists not only admit it, but they hold it up as a badge of honor. They call it faith.

It's funny how 'some theists' are never the actual ones in the conversation. They're always hypothetical, people that are just out there someone - or, in rare cases, people who the other (even orthodox) theists regard as quite unreasonable anyway.

They say that their belief is based on evidence and reason. They are liars.

Bob's got you pegged. Projection, Skep. Classic projection. ;)

im-skeptical said...

I have a question for the theists here. What would convince you they your god doesn't exist?

Papalinton said...

Miracle: "A one-time, non-repeatable and extremely rare occurrence not dependent upon natural law - a direct intervention into this world by God for the express purpose of shedding light upon the Incarnation and/or the Resurrection, and relevant to our salvation."

Yes. The enormous and exciting challenge for humanity cannot be made clearer. We continue to live in an intellectually and emotionally primitive world swilling in the mire of our own psychoses, socializing with incorporeal non-human entities every day across the neighbourly natural/supernatural divide, particularly on Sundays [the day named after another but dead supernatural entity, the Sun God]. Humanity has a long and difficult road ahead to drag itself limb by limb out of the theological miasma of its own making, unable as yet to fully scrape off the prurient mud of supernatural superstition.

But the future looks promising and very rosy. Reason, logic and common sense will ultimately prevail as more and more in the community slough off the primeval skin of religious belief. Such belief is ultimately unsustainable. The religiose will unmindfully react, "2,000 years of christianity unsustainable?" Unmindful yes, for it took many years for the religion of the Egyptians to reach the threshold of extinction:
"The ancient Egyptian religion had its roots in Egypt's prehistory and lasted for more than 3,000 years." Wiki

The religiose will claim, "Look at what's happening in Africa!" The number of countries is finite. Religions will eventually run out of countries to infect and reach the metaphorical 'end of the road'.

Try as one might in denying the numbers, the numbers are empirically recorded in the science. 95% ➔ 90% ➔ 85% ➔ 80%. This is the inexorable trend in the decline of religious belief illustrated consistently by PEW and ARIS and other social research organisations.

And that is a good sign.

Walter said...

But the future looks promising and very rosy. Reason, logic and common sense will ultimately prevail

Now that's a claim that I am seriously skeptical of.

Papalinton said...

"I have a question for the theists here. What would convince you they your god doesn't exist?"

You cannot expect an informed response for it is impossible.
We can only go on history to know what the answer will be. And history has dealt with religious belief harshly. Thousands of religions known, loved and followed. All now gone, finding comfort and a home in the pages of books, on rows of shelves in the Mythology section of many libraries. History has been savage to incalculable immortal Gods. Mithra, Wotan, Zeus, Aphrodite, Horus, Osiris, Isis, once monumental Gods from which history has stripped their coils of immortality.

Gods don't die. They get forgotten. By any standard or measure, if the lessons of recorded history are correct, the likely outcome one can be reasonably assured, the Immortal Jesus-god of today, too, will trudge the time-honoured road of history to join the others in immemorial retirement.

When one takes the long-term perspective, the lessons of history cannot be clearer.

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

"I have a question for the theists here. What would convince you they(sic) your [G]od doesn't exist?"

Show me the verifiable body of an unresurrected Jesus, and I'll drop Christianity like a hot potato. No literal, physical, historical Resurrection - no Christianity. And none of this "spiritual, allegorical interpretation" crap. Show me the body - it's game over.

Good enough answer for you?

Papalinton said...

"Now that's a claim that I am seriously skeptical of."

In what way Walter? I'm not sure skepticism is the correct term. Perhaps skepticism in this setting is a proxy for one's optimism or pessimism.

It seems on balance over the course of history reason, logic and common sense do prevail, albeit in a problematic sense, because there would be few people wanting to return to the good old days of, say, medieval times, to live out the rest of their lives. Although one has to concede the statistical blip of Dr Feser and his desire to return to the sharia of Thomistic scholasticism. I can only put that down to reason, logic and common sense. Though Iran, Egypt and a few other countries seem bent on returning to theocracies of the past under the guise of democracy. But in general our increased life spans, improved health conditions, education levels, and technological conveniences of today are a measure of the successful engagement of reason, logic and commonsense, building incrementally on earlier knowledge and understanding, and dispensing with that which is surplus to requirement. The role of religious belief in its various manifestations and incantations is one such field that is currently the subject of intense and forensic scrutiny as the community weighs its usefulness as a resource in public policy decision-making going forward. There is inherent lag, and a long lead time is a necessary speed bump, in the process of this evolution- slow investigation. But nonetheless I think we can in the main put it down to reason, logic and commonsense, but they ain't a guarantee.

Crude said...

I have a question for the theists here. What would convince you they your god doesn't exist?

My answer is similar to Bob's. I'd add that if the evidence on the whole pointed at the more likely existence of some other God in comparison - say, Allah*, or the mormon deity, or otherwise - that may also suffice. Starred because, while not necessarily a 'different God', I think in context it would require enough of a change in my views to qualify.

Crude said...

Now that's a claim that I am seriously skeptical of.

No kidding.

Papalinton said...

"No literal, physical, historical Resurrection - no Christianity."

Never a truer word spoken. The answer was there all the time.

im-skeptical said...

"Good enough answer for you?"

Of course. And you are quite safe in the knowledge that any body purported to be the body of Jesus couldn't possibly be verified. If I were you, I'd reject any such claim.

Crude said...

And you are quite safe in the knowledge that any body purported to be the body of Jesus couldn't possibly be verified. If I were you, I'd reject any such claim.

It 'couldn't possibly' be verified. 'You should reject any such claim' of this, period.

It's sarcasm, but it's yet more of that projection that was spoken of. "This is what I do when I deal with evidence I dislike. I bet you'd do the same!"

im-skeptical said...

What kind of evidence would convince you there is no god? I say there is nothing. Bob came up with something we all know isn't going to happen. Any others?

If you believe in the supernatural, then you think supernatural events can happen. To convince me, I only need to see it and know that it's really supernatural. That's not asking too much, is it? According to you, it should be possible.



B. Prokop said...

"According to you, it should be possible."

Possible, yes - but still extremely unlikely. Remember, a miracle is the rarest of rare events. There's more likelihood of one's winning the lottery than of witnessing a miracle personally.

But that in no way is evidence against their reality, just as the vanishingly small probability of one's winning the next Powerball does not mean that there are in fact no winners.

Demanding that you see a miracle with your eyes before you believe in the supernatural is as unreasonable as demanding that you win the lottery prior to your believing the lottery exists.

Crude said...

What kind of evidence would convince you there is no god? I say there is nothing. Bob came up with something we all know isn't going to happen. Any others?

Okay, here's a good example of where your thinking goes wrong. You just implied that it's wrong to demand evidence "that we all know isn't going to happen". First off, I deny that 'we all know it isn't going to happen'. It's entirely possible, even naturalistically possible. But let's see where you go next.

To convince me, I only need to see it and know that it's really supernatural. That's not asking too much, is it? According to you, it should be possible.

First off, you go from 'It's unfair to demand evidence that we all know isn't going to happen.' In other words, 'Evidence you don't think is going to be supplied.' And then in the very next sentence, you demand evidence that you don't think is going to be provided.

So the hypocrisy is immediate. For *you*, it's A-OK to demand evidence you think is radically unlikely in order to change your mind. But for everyone else? It apparently has to be very likely in your opinion. You're not thinking straight.

What's more, here's where your thinking goes off the rails again:

I only need to see it and know that it's really supernatural.

Emphasis on: "And know that it's really supernatural." You're basically saying, 'In order to convince me, I'd just need to see evidence that would convince me.' Real helpful.

Worse, it means that the standard has little to do with the actual evidence, and everything to do with your personal opinion. But who (other than yourself) cares about that?

Take a good look at PZ Myers or Michael Shermer. In principle, any evidence you supply them, they can propose a naturalistic cause for - up to and including 'they hallucinated/are crazy' or 'super-powerful aliens'. (Nevermind for now that 'superpowerful aliens' and 'Zeus' are the same thing at the end of the day.) Why in the world should anyone expect differently from you? Because you're obvious impartial and unbiased?

These little statements by you illustrate just how wrong your thinking has gone.

im-skeptical said...

"Demanding that you see a miracle with your eyes before you believe in the supernatural is as unreasonable as demanding that you win the lottery prior to your believing the lottery exists."

No it isn't. People win the lottery all the time. I don't have to win it myself to know that it happens. If supernatural events happen, there should be some credible evidence of it. There isn't. If the event was witnessed and documented in a credible manner, I'd accept that.

And by the way, I'm not asking for a miracle, as you keep insisting. Just some kind of supernatural event.

Papalinton said...

"There's more likelihood of one's winning the lottery than of witnessing a miracle personally."

And yet you have claimed on innumerable occasions of witnessing miracles every day. The analogy provided seems in stark contradiction to your oft professed witnessing of miracles daily.

The analogy of the likelihood of witnessing miracles with that of winning the lottery is equally wrong but delightfully quirky. Winning the lottery is not a miracle per se. It's been known to have happened on many occasions. A more fitting analogy about believing the resurrection is winning the lottery without buying a ticket.

In that context, the resurrection really is a very, very silly idea, isn't it. Really, isn't it? In your most rational moments, you know deep down there is nothing, nothing whatsoever that you can draw upon that would substantiate even the possibility let alone the probability of the occurrence of a resurrection. Nothing. All you have, the only 'evidence'[?] you can draw upon is that it was written about by somebody. But so was Mother Goose.

Crude said...

If supernatural events happen, there should be some credible evidence of it. There isn't.

There's plenty of evidence that miracles exist. What is 'supernatural'?

More than that...

And by the way, I'm not asking for a miracle, as you keep insisting. Just some kind of supernatural event.

If this is related to God - how does 'some kind of supernatural event' demonstrate God's existence? And how do you determine what event is or isn't supernatural?

Papalinton said...

"There's plenty of evidence that miracles exist."

No. Not by any stretch. The miracles that you imagine exist are simply those infrequent natural occurrences for which their causes have yet to be accurately and properly explained. The spontaneous remission of cancers is one such occurrence that medical science does not yet understand the biology sufficiently to provide a useful, predictable explanation. But it is only a matter of time.

The dime-a-dozen miracles of the past ➽ natural events today.

Of all the miracles attributed to the Christian God, why not an amputee. Just one.

David Hume summed it up ever so astutely:

"The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one."

Same o', same ol', even in the 21stC.

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