Sunday, September 01, 2013

A question for naturalists

This is from an i'm-skeptical response

This is evidence of your own misunderstanding of what it means to be (at least relatively) free of superstition and woo. It's not the cold, dark bleakness of "mindless electrical impulses" that you make it out to be. I have thoughts and emotions, just like everyone else. Your failure to understand it, your deluded perception, does not change the reality. (I might add here that we all have deluded perceptions - reality is not what it appears.) You've convinced yourself (as have most theists) that "mindless electrical impulses" can't possibly result in cognition. As I said, there is "matter in motion" behind it, but it's anything but mindless. It is just how mental function works. Sorry to disappoint you, the materialist isn't angry and jealous because he doesn't share your happy delusions about mind. But he may well wish that you'd wake up, take a look at the evidence, and stop being so smug about your beliefs. 

I would like to ask I-S whether, in saying that mental explanations are true, he is saying that they are basic-level explanations. Richard Carrier, in his lengthy critique of my book, agrees with me that purposive and intentional basic explanations are unacceptable for naturalists.

Reppert attempts to generalize his arguments to all forms of naturalism only in a very vague and haphazard way when he comes to his defense of "explanatory dualism" as his alternative. For example, he deploys what I earlier described as the Causation Fallacy again when he argues that naturalism's reliance on only two categories of fundamental explanation—necessity and accident—eliminates reason (87), which is teleological (a third category). But this is a non sequitur. Just because our basic explanations are limited to accident and necessity it does not follow that this exhausts all explanations available to us—for not all explanations are basic. Reppert knows very well that naturalism allows teleological causation as a category of explanation (human behavior, for example), and that we explain the emergence of this type of cause as an effect of a complex system of more fundamental nonteleological causes.

Do you think that Carrier has accurately characterized the commitments of naturalism. 

148 comments:

William said...

In general, as a group, naturalists don't agree about this. Depends on whether the naturalist is reductive / eliminativist about things like intentionality or not.

The AFK is set up to be against a reductive naturalism, right?

See Pigliucci here.

im-skeptical said...

" agrees with me that purposive and intentional basic explanations are unacceptable for naturalists. "

So we are all in agreement. And that's what I said before. You didn't quote the part of my statement that tries to explain where intention comes from, so I'll try it again. It is a property of biological creatures, not of the fundamental material they are made of. the most primitive biological entities behave in a purely mechanistic way, but there is something about them that is unique: they replicate and sustain some form of what we call life. Move up the evolutionary chain a bit, and they exhibit progressively more complex behavior that includes seeking nourishment and avoiding threats. Therein lies the beginning of intention. At primitive levels, it may be still devoid of any significant cognitive activity, but it appears to be purposive. Add more advanced cognition to the mix, and we see more complex behaviors and the illusion that there is something other than material forces at work. But it's just an illusion.

kilo papa said...

When Jesus belched, farted and squatted over a hole to shit, did it stink like us regular sinners, or did it have its own, unique "Son of God" smell?

Serious questions for a serious religion.

Chris said...

To me, the difference between the atheo-materialist and everyone else is that the former sees "ultimate reality" as more like a machine and the latter sees it as more like a mind. But what is the defining feature of a machine? What is the defining feature of mind? Are humans machines or minds?If we say both, are we contradicting ourselves?

B. Prokop said...

"If we say both"

The Church has always maintained that human beings are body and soul, as opposed to inanimate matter (which is all "body") or angelic beings (which are 100% spirit).

So no, we wouldn't be contradicting ourselves - just pointing out that we have a foot in both worlds. Would I be contradicting myself if I were to say, while standing in four feet of water (being six feet tall), that I am both in the water and out of it?

im-skeptical said...

Just to clarify my belief, intention and cognition are both inevitable products of evolutionary development. The primitive creature that behaves in a purely mechanistic way evolves into a more complex creature with a brain, and complex behavior that is goal-directed. While still mechanistic (as the result of the brain processing sensory information and responding to it in a complex manner), the behavior exhibited is directed toward enhancing the creature's ability to survive and reproduce. That's what evolution does. So as cognition evolves to the point where we have higher-level cognitive function such as use of language, we begin to think of that function as "mind".

So, are we machines? Yes. Do we have minds? Yes, we have cognitive function that we call mind. Is there any contradiction in that? No.

Lothar Lorraine said...

Hello, my main reason for rejecting materialism is not its alleged inability to account for cognition.

To my mind the main problem consists of the existence of subjective experience as is well illustrated by the bat thought-experiment of Thomas Nagel.

http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/category/qualia/


Victor, what is your argument against the claim that a logical conclusion does exist but is IDENTICAL with the brain processes taking place within the person?


Lovely greetings from Europe.


Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com






B. Prokop said...

Lothar,

You write "I was deeply puzzled by the very existence of conscious experiences, which I associated at that time with every living thing including bacteria."

Do I understand correctly by your use of "at that time" (zu dieser Zeit) that you no longer hold this view? I ask, because I still haven't settled that issue in my own mind. Ask me on Tuesday what I think about the consciousness of plants and animals and I might give you a completely different answer than I would on Wednesday. Interestingly, when I'm out gardening, or taking a walk through the woods, I strongly feel that everything around me is in some manner conscious. Sitting in front of my computer, I'm less inclined to think so. (Which is why I generally am for the idea of universal consciousness, because it tracks more closely with real world experience, and less with unattached thinking about it. The poet Walt Whitman came to the same conclusion.)

But I'm open to arguments on either side.

im-skeptical said...

Lothar,

"If the subjective experience is as material as the atoms of the chair I’m sitting on and the electrical processes of the computer I’m using, then why would a complete knowledge of physics allows me to know everything about both objects but not about the feelings of the animal?"

The answer to that is obvious: Subjective experience is not known to anyone but the one who has the experience BY DEFINITION. You can't feel someone else's pain because it's their pain, not yours. You can't experience their thoughts. This is true whether materialism or dualism is a better reflection of reality. But I'm curious, how does dualism answer these questions for you any better than materialism? What is there about dualism that makes you think, "now I understand how it all works"? Could it be that if you accept an immaterial being of some kind, you no longer feel the need to have good explanations? You can just say, "It's an immaterial being, and that's all I need to know about it. Case closed."

Crude said...

But I'm curious, how does dualism answer these questions for you any better than materialism?

On dualism(s), it makes sense that there could even be such a thing as 'private subjective experience'. On materialism, it doesn't - unless the word 'material' is so vastly, radically broad that it essentially includes dualism(s) anyway.

Could it be that if you accept an immaterial being of some kind, you no longer feel the need to have good explanations?

Are you really asking dualists to A) give a reductive explanation of the mental, or B) give an explanation of how a fundamental property comes to be?

Better yet, do you think you've supplied anything close to a 'good explanation' by saying "materialism!" and "it's complex, I dunno, it just shows up at some point!"?

Just to clarify my belief, intention and cognition are both inevitable products of evolutionary development.

Really? Evolution is predisposed towards producing these products? It's predisposed towards increased complexity too? And your definition of 'mechanistic' includes "information processing" and responding to specific events?

Do us a favor. Define 'intention'.

ingx24 said...

Subjective experience is not known to anyone but the one who has the experience BY DEFINITION. You can't feel someone else's pain because it's their pain, not yours. You can't experience their thoughts.

This is an amazing concession: By definition, you have just conceded the falsity of materialism and the truth of (at least) property dualism by conceding that the physical facts don't tell you everything, and that there are events (subjective experiences) that are not scientifically observable.

This is true whether materialism or dualism is a better reflection of reality.

Not true. If materialism is true, then by definition nothing exists that is irreducibly subjective or private: the physical facts fix all the facts, and there is nothing that is not scientifically observable. By contrast, dualism (whether property dualism or substance dualism) allows for the existence of subjective experiences that don't have to be reduced away to something else.

B. Prokop said...

"[Skep has] just conceded the falsity of materialism and the truth of (at least) property dualism by conceding that the physical facts don't tell you everything, and that there are events (subjective experiences) that are not scientifically observable."

Indeed, he has.

Welcome to sanity, Skep. It only gets better from here - much better. Whatever you do, don't crush these tender sprouts of clear thinking.

im-skeptical said...

"If materialism is true, then by definition nothing exists that is irreducibly subjective or private: the physical facts fix all the facts, and there is nothing that is not scientifically observable."

You can remove the word 'irreducibly' from this statement without changing its meaning. Your assertion is that there can be nothing that is unobservable if materialism is true, and therefore, there can be no subjective experience. Thus, in a very facile manner, you have made materialism false by definition. Too bad the world isn't as facile as you are. There are plenty of things that are not directly observable. I've never seen an electron. Have you? So we should reject scientific postulations about their existence. Maybe we should define some kind of immaterial matter into being and let that serve as the explanation of the things we observe. Electrons can't be material by your definition. Therefore they must be immaterial. Yeah, that works

ingx24 said...

im-skeptical,

First of all, electrons *are* observable, at least in principle. They're too small for us to see, but they are "public" rather than "private": they're still "out there" for anyone to see if they have the right tools.

Second of all, if it seems like I've made materialism true by definition, then you're finally understanding why materialism is so absurd: it ultimately has to deny the real existence of our own minds. There's a reason materialists have to perform logical acrobatics and redefine the mental in terms of abilities and behaviors in order to make their position seem plausible.

im-skeptical said...

" it ultimately has to deny the real existence of our own minds"

You're wrong about that. We make observations about how our cognitive function works. We do not deny its existence. It exists, and it is observable. It just happens that there are things we call subjective experience that by definition are private. That doesn't invalidate the material nature of mind in any way, even if you have trouble understanding it. Your lack of understanding and your facile rationalizations still don't change reality.

Crude said...

:D

BenYachov said...

Yeh Crude I know the irony !

Dan Gillson said...

im-skeptical is being notoriously unclear about what he thinks cognitive function is. Based on reading through his posts, it seems like he thinks that the mind (intentionality) is the result of a welling-up of basic, or primitive, cognitive functions (states of the brain?), which squares quite nicely with what Carrier writes: " Reppert knows very well that naturalism allows teleological causation as a category of explanation (human behavior, for example), and that we explain the emergence of this type of cause as an effect of a complex system of more fundamental nonteleological causes." What skep doesn't realize, however, is that in explaining subjectivity (mindedness, intentionality, cognition, goal-oriented behavior ... etc.) as the result of basic, physical processes, he's committing himself to the view that there is no privacy, i.e., that if one can observe the physical processes which constitute subjectivity, then one know what's going on in the someone else's mind, which means that what goes on in someone else's mind is in principle available for public scrutiny..

Dan Gillson said...

The answer, then, is: yes, im-skeptical thinks that Carrier accurately characterized the commitments of naturalism, but he hasn't quite come to understand, or accept, the implications of Carrier's naturalism. (That's not a dig, skep. It's just the truth. I should note that Carrier's position is quite normal in the world of philosophy. In fact, I'm reading a book on the metaphysics of belief that assumes that internalism, physicalism, and global supervenience are true, which means, according to the book, if two people have exactly the same physical properties mote for mote, then two people must necessarily have exactly the same beliefs.)

im-skeptical said...

" What skep doesn't realize, however, is that in explaining subjectivity (mindedness, intentionality, cognition, goal-oriented behavior ... etc.) as the result of basic, physical processes, he's committing himself to the view that there is no privacy, i.e., that if one can observe the physical processes which constitute subjectivity, then one know what's going on in the someone else's mind, which means that what goes on in someone else's mind is in principle available for public scrutiny.."

What you don't realize is that mental processes are in principal available for public scrutiny. And we're getting closer by the day to realizing a capability for doing just that. Does anybody recall the article that I linked a few days ago? Science moves on. Unless philosophical conjecture is willing to keep up with it (as in the case with Thomistic woo), it is bound to be hopelessly irrelevant. Just don't expect me to believe that because one aspect of cognitive function (subjective experience) is private by definition, that the whole topic of cognitive function is off limits to scientific investigation (which is the claim made by the dualist purveyor of woo).

Dan Gillson said...

im-skeptical:

Right. If mental processes are in principle observable, then there is no such thing as private, subjective experience. Personally, I don't believe in private, subjective experience, I believe in privileged, subjective experience, but I didn't need science to get me there. All I had to do was learn how to not doubt that we, as humans, are (most of the time) in tune with each other's thoughts and feelings. To recapitulate a theme of Stanley Cavell's interpretation of Wittgenstein, philosophy doesn't start with universal doubt, but with the amazement at how much agreement there is between individuals.

Crude said...

Dan,

If mental processes are in principle observable, then there is no such thing as private, subjective experience. Personally, I don't believe in private, subjective experience, I believe in privileged, subjective experience, but I didn't need science to get me there.

That's going to depend on what you mean.

Brains are observable, clearly.

Brain processes are observable, clearly.

Mental processes are 'observable' insofar as we can correlate such and such brain processes with such and such meanings or intentions or even experiences. But this isn't a problem for any dualist I'm aware of - Thomists, cartesians and the rest are entirely compatible with correlations.

Subjective experience seems like it would be 'observed' in a similar way. But you need more than correlations for materialism, unless materialism has been broadened up to the point where dualism may as well be materialism.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

All I mean by 'subjective experience' is that it is from a single point of view, and that is by definition. It is logically impossible for two different observers to have the same point of view. But aside from the point of view, it is possible in principle to observe and know everything about a mental activity. That is, you can observe the physical process that results in a thought, you can know what the thought is, and you can determine what will come next (in principle). I also agree with the idea that if two brains are identical in every detail - all the neural connections and physical conditions), as well as the inputs from sensory sources, etc. - then those two brains will have the same thoughts and beliefs. That is a consequence of materialism.

urban jean said...

Could there be a difference, I wonder, between observing a physical process and being a physical process?

Papalinton said...

IngX24 notes: "Not true. If materialism is true, then by definition nothing exists that is irreducibly subjective or private: the physical facts fix all the facts, and there is nothing that is not scientifically observable. By contrast, dualism (whether property dualism or substance dualism) allows for the existence of subjective experiences that don't have to be reduced away to something else."

Crude notes: "On dualism(s), it makes sense that there could even be such a thing as 'private subjective experience'. On materialism, it doesn't - unless the word 'material' is so vastly, radically broad that it essentially includes dualism(s) anyway."

Slowly, inexorably it seems science continues to chip away at these long-standing tropes. This article reports the latest neuroscientific research findings in physically mapping thought processes in the mind:

"BERKELEY — Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one’s own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.

As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.

The approximate reconstruction (right) of a movie clip (left) is achieved through brain imaging and computer simulation
“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery,” said Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the study published online today (Sept. 22) in the journal Current Biology. “We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

Eventually, practical applications of the technology could include a better understanding of what goes on in the minds of people who cannot communicate verbally, such as stroke victims, coma patients and people with neurodegenerative diseases.

It may also lay the groundwork for brain-machine interface so that people with cerebral palsy or paralysis, for example, can guide computers with their minds."
Read THE REST OF THE STORY HERE.

It is a small but significant scientific discovery.

I look forward to the next debate between theo-philosophy and science.

ingx24 said...

Papalinton,

That story actually PROVES MY POINT. The fact that mental states need to be DECODED and RECONSTRUCTED in order to be "observed" shows that the mind is not a physical, observable thing: it is something non-physical that has physical effects, and we can more or less figure out what is going on in someone's mind by the effects it has on brain activity. Neuroscience, rather than refuting dualism, is ACTIVELY SUPPORTING DUALISM by showing that mental states cannot be directly observed. At best (and this is a VERY generous concession), neuroscience counts against forms of dualism that see the mind as a complete substance capable of existing apart from the brain. It does NOTHING to refute theories like property dualism and panpsychism that claim that mental states are hidden, non-physical states of the brain itself.

Crude said...

Neuroscience, rather than refuting dualism, is ACTIVELY SUPPORTING DUALISM by showing that mental states cannot be directly observed.

Yep. Materialists do not need 'I can correlate this physical state of affairs with this non-physical state of affairs'. They need 'this physical state of affairs is real - this non-physical state of affairs is not'. And do it without turning the mental and intentional into mental states in the process (Broad aristotileanism, panpsychism, etc), collapsing into bruteness, or incoherence, or some form of non-materialism in the process.

Every time a physical brain state needs to be 'translated' / 'decoded' / 'correlated', it's one more problem for the materialist, and one more arrow in the non-materialist quiver.

The funny thing is, the materialists who say this clearly are the materialists all the wannabe-materialists really dislike.

B. Prokop said...

"Papalinton, That story actually PROVES MY POINT."

Ing, that posting is simply another in a long line of Mr. Wilson's linking to articles that disagree with everything he believes in, and him not realizing it. It's practically an unbroken string so far. And people wonder why I make the case for his being possessed? It's either that, or there's some genuinely serious inability on his part to comprehend what he's reading.

urban jean said...

Commenting on Papalinton's reference, above, ingx24 says

"The fact that mental states need to be DECODED and RECONSTRUCTED in order to be "observed" shows that the mind is not a physical, observable thing:"

But what kind of thing is it doing the decoding and reconstruction?

Crude said...

And people wonder why I make the case for his being possessed? It's either that, or there's some genuinely serious inability on his part to comprehend what he's reading.

Maybe it's one option instead of two.

B. Prokop said...

Good one, Crude,

Now here's another that's spot on for this thread:

http://www.xkcd.com/1163/

William said...

Just what does it mean for our thought to be an illusion?

If I think that an indistinct shadow I see is of a bird, when it is really is just a branch in the wind, that may be an illusion, but I still saw something. Likewise,if I says that the idea that I have thoughts about anything is also an illusion, my speech is still about something (the illusion).

So, don't the illusory thoughts have to be actual thoughts about an illusion just be be the illusion that they are what they seem to be?

To put it another way, when does a thought stop being a thought because it is not about something real?

William said...

I just went over to the scale and weighed my thoughts about the scale on the scale.

The scale showed zero, proving not only that my thoughts lack weightiness, and are illusion, but also that the scale itself cannot weigh anything. For otherwise the scale would show something on its own readout, right?

im-skeptical said...

"Neuroscience, rather than refuting dualism, is ACTIVELY SUPPORTING DUALISM by showing that mental states cannot be directly observed."

Now we see what the problem is. You should be able to look inside a brain and see thoughts and images floating around as if they were a movie. No decoding needed. If you can't do that, then materialism just can't be true. How do we know this? because ingx24 says so.

So materialism is false because we can't slice open someone's brain and watch the Cartesian theater going on inside.

Such passes for 'reason' in the purveyor of dualistic woo.

Papalinton said...

ingX24
Proves the point of dualism? It does no such thing. What this research demonstrates is that neural electrical impulses can be interrogated by another set of electrical impulses aligned to receive the same content that has been broadcast in the act of thinking. What it is showing is that thinking seems to be a physical process by which neurally generated electrical impulses can be properly captured and be responded to by other electrical devices. What is interesting about this research is that: "However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers."

The dualist conception of thinking, the misconstrued notion of separate or distinct mind and body, seems to have been proven dubious and little more than a time-dependent placemarker in the the absence of knowledge, observation and understanding of how the brain works.

That 'field of unknowing' has been traversed and bridged by these findings, and predictably so just as other earlier supernatural and philosophical claims have been dissected on innumerable previous occasions. The field of supernaturalism reduces in direct proportion to the expansion of the field of naturalism. There can be no more denying of the facts without further and catastrophic loss of credibility. In light of this new finding, philosophy will necessarily be required to account for it.

"Neuroscience, rather than refuting dualism, is ACTIVELY SUPPORTING DUALISM by showing that mental states cannot be directly observed."
This is simply wrong, ing, and I would suggest you review the provenance of both the information and the source from which you base your understanding. As far as I can read there is no active neuroscientific support for dualism for categorizing let alone characterizing mental states. Such a standpoint is anathema to what the process of science is all about. The 'direct observation' of mental states is an utter furphy, as much a nonsense statement akin to claimimg electrons and protons don't exist because they cannot be 'directly observed'.

Now that the methodology for direct imaging of thought processes has been achieved, albeit somewhat fuzzy at the present time, it is going to be awesomely exciting to witness the advances over the next couple decades. It seems the subjective, personal thoughts of people will no longer be externally unobservable. Indeed will become common-place. This is particularly exciting as this new technology will be sorely needed for those who, as the article sees will be greatly helped; those unable to communicate because of stroke, heart attack, or in a vegetative state for various reasons will be able to communicate through thought alone.



Papalinton said...

crude
"Yep. Materialists do not need 'I can correlate this physical state of affairs with this non-physical state of affairs'. They need 'this physical state of affairs is real - this non-physical state of affairs is not'. And do it without turning the mental and intentional into mental states in the process (Broad aristotileanism, panpsychism, etc), collapsing into bruteness, or incoherence, or some form of non-materialism in the process."

What does this actually mean?

William said...

"
So materialism is false because we can't slice open someone's brain and watch the Cartesian theater going on inside.
"

No, problemis the idea the thoughts are real but not material.

To prove your monism is the right one, you would need to prove either that thoughts do not exist or that thoughts are material. I'm waiting?

im-skeptical said...

"... will be able to communicate through thought alone."

I mentioned this one before. More scientific evidence of dualism, I suppose:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130827122713.htm

im-skeptical said...

"No, problemis the idea the thoughts are real but not material."

If thoughts are not material, we shouldn't be able to detect them with electronic sensors. But we can, as has been pointed out. The idea that they shouldn't require any kind of 'decoding' is idiotic. Any kind of signal that can be detected by some electronic device must be decoded (or transformed) into a different form that we can observe. Would you deny the physical reality of what you see on TV because the signal must be decoded? No, that would be absurd. And so is the ridiculous notion that detection of mental images or thoughts supports dualism.

Papalinton said...

"No, problem is the idea the thoughts are real but not material"

Yes, thoughts are real but the question of the materiality or otherwise of thoughts is a category mistake. Thoughts or rather thinking, is a process. It is a physical process of co-ordinated material neural electrical firings of parts of the brain mass and energy is expended in the process. Thoughts are an outcome of the process of thinking. Just as walking is a physical process of the mechanical, anatomical components of the body, a process that also expends energy for it to occur, and hikes or strolls are an outcome of the process of walking. And I would suggest that in both cases, thinking and walking, can in and of themselves be able to be weighed by the amount of energy expended when such instrumentation becomes available.

I would even hazard a guess that the weight of thoughts may not be all that problematical in the future. Should measurement technology become available and the individual neuronal packages/cells/electrical charges etc that go to make up a particular or individual thought in the brain mass [a memory for example] can be properly identified, it should be technically possible to weigh the components that make up that thought which is stored in the brain. It really is just a matter of the conservation of energy/matter.

If you wish to claim that a process is immaterial and cannot be weighed, knock yourself out. But strolls and thoughts are the result of functions of physical processes and all physical processes are energy users and therefore physical, naturally.

William said...

"
If thoughts are not material, we shouldn't be able to detect them with electronic sensors.
"

Okay then. You agree that they are NOT illusion.

This means you are not eliminative about mental properties, though your first post said otherwise.

im-skeptical said...

"This means you are not eliminative about mental properties"

Please explain what you think that means.

Crude said...

Again I say,

:D

Steve Lovell said...

Hi skep,

I think some of the criticism of you here has been unfair, and there's been quite a bit of misreading what you've said. On the other hand, there have been a few good questions asked, and I'm not sure you've quite answered them. Not that you're under any specific obligation to do so ...

VRs original post asked you a fairly direct question: is purposive and/or intentional explanation unacceptableat the basic level. From what you've said, I think you think it is unacceptable at the basic level. But you also think that such explanations are legitimate at "higher" levels. As some others have said, that's a fairly normal position. So I think you're in agreement with that quote from Carrier.

VR is quite aware of this kind of naturalism, in both it's reductionist and non-reductionist stripes. But I assume that means he has some follow up questions for you and that his first post was an initial move to establish the dialectical situation. Let's see where the argument leads.

In the meantime, you need to be clearer about whether consciousness is "private by definition" or not. You clearly think that we can (in principle) deduce what someone thinks from close observations of their brains. Depending on how that works it may or may not be consistent with the "privacy". Is it meant to be an immediate deduction, not relying on "bridge principles" betweeen the 1st and 3rd person perspectives which have themselves been reached by relying on first person reports of what's going on in their heads?

If so, then it remains private, and the most you establish is correlation not identity. If not, the experiences aren't private at all. The former seems to me relatively plausible, but then the "detections" you've spoken of are clearly no demonstration of naturalism, while the latter seems to me implausible in the extreme.

Where do you stand? To be honest, part of me hopes you go for the view I find implausible, as I'd enjoy the resulting fireworks!

Best,

Steve

William said...

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/materialism-eliminative/

Papalinton said...

Skep
"I mentioned this one before. More scientific evidence of dualism, I suppose:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130827122713.htm"


Yes. I know. I took note of your earlier citing.

Steve Lovell said...

Sorry,

I reversed my "if so" and "if not" in my previous post. I should have said ...

If it is meant to be an immediate deduction, without bridge principles themselves partly derived from 1st person reports, then the experiences are not "private". Meanwhile, if bridge principles so derived are required for the inferences, then those "detections" of mental states demonstrate only corellation and not identity between the physical and the mental.

It's the derivation without the use of such bridge principles that I find so implausible.

Where do you stand, Skep?

Best,

Steve

im-skeptical said...

William,

You asked me not about eliminative materialism, but if I was "eliminative about mental properties".

I still don't know what you mean by that.

im-skeptical said...

Steve,

Give me a little more time to respond.

im-skeptical said...

Steve,

I don't like the term private with regard to conscious experiences for the reasons that you indicated. Subjective means that it occurs from a first person perspective, and that perspective is unique. People may share an experience, but each has his own unique subjective experience that can't be shared because it is from a unique perspective.

That said, is it possible in principle to know what a person is experiencing? I say it is. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "bridge principles", but if that involves a person reporting his mental experiences, that's not what I am referring to. My belief is that if you can know enough detail about the physical state of a brain, you can infer the thoughts and mental images that a person is experiencing. Furthermore, it has been shown to be possible to transfer signals from one brain to another, that result in transference of "thoughts" between brains.

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Skep,

I'll try to be clearer in my question. I believe your claiming that there is some chain of reasoning that can take us from things like (1) to things like (2)

(1) Person A is in brain state XYZ (with a purely "physical" description).
(2) Person A is thinking about cheese.

Now what do the arguments that get us from (1) to (2) look like? And what are our reasons for for believing them (or broadly what kind of things would those reasons be under some idealised future psychology)?

It might be just as simple as (B) (for bridge).

(B) People in brain states relevantly like XYZ are thinking about cheese

where this principle is inductively established by scanning brains while telling people to think about cheese, or showing them pictures of cheese, or they otherwise report that they are thinking about cheese.

If it is that simple, then the states remain "private"; the only reason way you know that the mental end of the equation is "cheesy" is via the privileged first person perspective, and such a bridge only allows us to establish a correlation between mental states and brain states.

Now that, I think, is plausible but perhaps unstable as a variety of naturalism (that's what I think, but I'm not an expert in Philosophy of Mind), we'll explore more if this is how you are thinking.

But perhaps this isn't what you think the reasoning from (1) to (2) is (or could be) like. Again, we'll explore more if you'd take a different route between (1) and (2).

Best,

Steve

William said...

"eliminative about mental properties" means that you would think that mental properties are illusion and that our discussions would be more realistic if we only spoke of other, related, more material things. An example of such an approach would be classical behaviorism in psychology.

If you think you can detect thoughts with a properly filtered bit of electronics, you arenot eliminating them, since you say that they are detectable.

im-skeptical said...

Steve,

I think of it as being much like a computer. If you know every detail about the physical state of the computer, then you can determine what function it is processing and you know what its state will be in the next moment. But human brains are very complex, so we don't have the means to know every detail of a brain's state at this time.

The problem is further complicated by the fact that no two brains are exactly alike. The configuration of neurons and their connections is unique to the individual. So there is no physical state XYZ that is common to two different brains. By that, I mean that the state XYZ in one person that produces some particular thought like "I want beer" is not the same as the state of another person's brain who is thinking the same thing.

There is still much more complication to add to the picture. What constitutes a 'thought'? It's not a simple matter. The brain is always conducting numerous operations in parallel, most of which we are not aware of. When we have a conscious thought like "I want beer", it comes from a long complex chain of mental events. At the same time, there are other events going on, and some of them compete for attention. So the chain that leads to "I want beer" is seen as being more worthy of attention than the chain that leads to "I need to walk the dog". Then, having decided what's important, the brain still has a lot of work to do before we can become conscious of what the brain already knows. It must translate this 'thought' from the brain's internal representation to language so that we can "hear the words" in our mind. Only then are we consciously aware of it. But "I need to walk the dog" is still in there somewhere, though we don't hear the words.

In answer to your question, the B version your postulation seems just too simplistic. In order to know exactly what thought a person is having, you would need to have a very detailed knowledge of that person's unique brain structure, and a very detailed knowledge of the physical state of the brain, with the understanding that there may be chunks of it that you can ignore because they are not involved in producing a conscious thought. That said, there are probably certain points in the processing chain where you might be able to intercept key elements of a thought and decode or interpret them (sorry, ingx24) in a meaningful way.

William said...

Okay, skep, this sounds like ordinary functionalism. I think you have clarified your position well enough.

Steve Lovell said...

William,

With the analogy to computers (including the specific mention of functions), and the emphasis on multiple realisation, it certainly sounds like functionalism (of the token-state-identity variety).

Skep,

Do you accept the label? Or is there something that distinguishes your view? I have some other questions, but I'm meant to be working!

Best,

Steve

im-skeptical said...

Steve,

I'd need to understand more about the philosophy of functionalism before I can say for sure. Give me some time on that. But why is that important to you?

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Skep,

In itself the label doesn't matter of course: "what's in a name?" But if you said you were a functionalist we might be able to short-cut some clarificatory questions. My old professors were functionalists, so it's a position I feel I understand fairly well, and have perhaps more sympathy with than many on the non-naturalist side of the fence.

Been a busy day, no time for further comment today ... but I see Vic has linked the Stanford entry on Functionalism.

Best,

Steve

im-skeptical said...

Having read a little about functionalism, I didn't see anything about it that struck me as a stance that I disagree with. So I can tentatively say that I can accept that label. However, I should note that I was previously labeled here as being a proponent of mind/brain identity (which I wasn't sure about at the time), perhaps because I didn't give enough of a description of what I believe.

B. Prokop said...

I actually sympathize with you here, Skep. I think all this labeling and fine nuances is sometimes a bit over the top. I personally, not being a materialist, see thoughts and free will as non-material realities that use the physical brain as their interface with the natural world. You do not.

But Steve and others are quite correct in pointing out that there are indeed huge consequences to believing either way on this issue. I honestly think that you don't realize how perilously close the opinions you have expressed on this thread are to classic Medieval teleology, and thus my comment to you on Sept 2nd, 9:21. (And I applaud your championing, however inadvertently, the conclusions of Thomas Aquinas, et.al.)

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

I still think you have misinterpreted my statements about subjective experience. I think all mental activity is absolutely open to scientific examination. What makes an experience subjective is the first person aspect of it, and that is something only one person can have. But that doesn't imply that that mental experience can't be detected and examined empirically.

The last thing I would want you to believe is that I swallow the medieval theology of Aquinas. I honestly think you don't believe that, either.

Papalinton said...

"I honestly think that you don't realize how perilously close the opinions you have expressed on this thread are to classic Medieval teleology, and thus my comment to you on Sept 2nd, 9:21. (And I applaud your championing, however inadvertently, the conclusions of Thomas Aquinas, et.al.)"

So, Aquinas was a materialist all along and medieval teleology is based on functionalism? Because I know Skep is a materialist and now self-describes as a functionalist, it simply beggars belief how such a statement could even be reasonably contemplated let alone written down as a genuine observation of the facts. The only means by which some semblance of credibility can be derived from it is in demonstrating the readiness of the theological mindset to blatantly and shamelessly cross the threshold of dignity to muddy another's position. It is a credible statement only in that it demonstrates the Apologetical techniques of syncretising, harmonizing and interpretative bias doggedly persists among the great unwashed and continues as the bedrock of theological thought and 'logic'.

Is it any wonder theologically-informed philosophy is inexorably losing ground in the mainstream of contemporary philosophy? One need only read Dr Feser's [one of a few intransigents extant] flapping to appreciate the extent to which this is occurring. A tsunami in the theological pond. Barely a ripple in the ocean of modern philosophy.

Only in theology could such a statement garner further consideration.

B. Prokop said...

"Is it any wonder theologically-informed philosophy is inexorably losing ground in the mainstream of contemporary philosophy?"

Nah, the only thing we really should be wondering about is why so many ostensibly antireligious internet dwellers spend so much time on websites such as Dangerous Idea that (let us be frank here) have a pro-religious slant to them. I can only conclude that the likes of Mr. Wilson, "Skep", et.al., realize full well, under their desperate veneer of denial and rejection, that their "worldview" (now that Skep has admitted to having one) is ultimately bankrupt and incapable of answering any of the really important questions in life.

You see the real wonder here is that "Papalinton" fails to see that by participating in this forum at all, he has ceded the fundamental point - that without even the scraps that fall thereby his way from the table of Faith, his life is bleak, meaningless, and futile. That's ultimately why, despite Ilion's possibly wise advise, I choose not to ignore Mr. Wilson's ravings. I recognize them as the desperate pleas of the drowning swimmer for a lifeline that they are. Otherwise, why is he even here (on this website)? It is because his inmost soul, created (as he knows full well) in the Image of God, recognizes (in the midst of his most fervent, yet ultimately unconvincing denials) that a ray of light thereby penetrates the dank and fetid prison cell he has chosen to occupy.

im-skeptical said...

"by participating in this forum at all, he has ceded the fundamental point - that without even the scraps that fall thereby his way from the table of Faith, his life is bleak, meaningless, and futile."

I know why I'm here. It is a desire to understand. I want to try to know both sides of the issue. I want to know why people believe in something that isn't real. Are they sincere? What is their logic? Do they have arguments that are compelling? Do they follow their beliefs in life, or is it just talk? And I think I'm getting some answers to those questions.

I could hang around atheist sites more, but what do I gain from that? I do find plenty of good information and material to learn from, but I don't engage in much discussion there, because it would be like having a one-sided conversation. It would be an echo chamber. There would be no challenge.

Don't flatter yourself into thinking that I want to soak up that warm glow of theistic wisdom and love that is nowhere to be found here. Don't delude yourself into believing that the atheist's life is a dank and fetid prison cell, or that yours must be so much better by comparison. To the degree that we can, we all choose our path, and our life is what we make it. Ask yourself this: What if there is no hereafter?

B. Prokop said...

"Ask yourself this: What if there is no hereafter?"

Answer: Then absolutely nothing matters. There is no meaning or significance to whatever we either do or don't do. There is no good, no evil, no purpose. Life is a joke. For in such a case, a millisecond after our deaths, none of it ever happened. It might as well never have in the first place, and save us the trouble in the meantime.

That's what.

im-skeptical said...

"It might as well never have in the first place, and save us the trouble in the meantime."

I'm sorry you live in such a dank and fetid prison cell.

B. Prokop said...

But I don't - because I was describing the materialistic atheistic worldview - certainly not mine!

Papalinton said...

"Nah, the only thing we really should be wondering about is why so many ostensibly antireligious internet dwellers spend so much time on websites such as Dangerous Idea that (let us be frank here) have a pro-religious slant to them.

Consider it a burden I carry pro bono publico, a public good. Wherever and whenever the carbuncle of theism ruptures through the skin of community it must be cauterized at source to prevent further infection. I am interested in always providing the balance of reason, knowledge and experience, an antidote if you will, to the nonsense of theistic supernaturalism and to let people know that it is OK to say, 'God is crap superstition'. And if one does say that and believes what they say, it is a perfectly normal and logical human reaction. I am here at DI to assure the waverers they will not be consigned to eternal damnation in Hell for their thoughts nor their belief in naturalism, functionalism, non-dualism, because none of what is said about Hell or god is true let alone a reality. I am here to let them know that despite whatever theists may try to convince them of their impending eternal demise should they 'deny god', not one jot of harm, psychological damage, moral compromise, evil spirits, or bad things will befall them. Not one jot.

One cannot reject a god, because there is no god to reject in the first place. Period. But a rejection of the concept of god surely is a rejection of primitive and long-suffering superstition, no more no less.

I am here to inform there are few if any lessons to be gleaned from the Bible or religion about how to live a good and fulfilling life with love and honesty that cannot be learned and enjoyed from secular humanist sources and in total absence of religious faith. I should know because having divested myself of decades of religious self-abasement I fear no one and nothing, least of all the imaginary existential threat of eternal damnation for not making propitiation to the right god. I am here to inform good people that that is unfounded and credulous bunkum more befitting a bygone society and a bygone era.

CONT.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
"I can only conclude that the likes of Mr. Wilson, "Skep", et.al., realize full well, under their desperate veneer of denial and rejection, that their "worldview" (now that Skep has admitted to having one) is ultimately bankrupt and incapable of answering any of the really important questions in life."

On the contrary, my worldview is surprisingly neither bankrupt [let alone ultimately bankrupt] nor incapable of dealing with any the big questions of life. To be sure to subscribe to this nonsensical caricature of an atheist's worldview is pure myth. Indeed the religious viewpoint is the one that properly is the mythical one. To not believe in god, or the bible or Jesus does not make me the mythicist. I am a realist, a realist there is no god, a realist that the bible is just an anthology of old primitive stories and has no special alchemical or supernatural powers, and a realist that Jesus probably never existed.

To better illustrate the mythical foundations of christianity I could not but refer to the words of Hunter Morrow at the aptly named Debunking Christianity site:

"Jesus "mythicism." I'm not a Jesus Mythicist. I'm a Jesus Realist. If you think "God" physically came from the Royal Line of David from a magically impregnated jew teenager and then traipsed around the Roman Empire doing "miracles" that nobody wrote about for 100 years then you're the Mythicist. If you think he was publicly executed but "came back to life" in order to show off his physical wounds and then floated away to "God's Right Hand in Heaven" then you're the mythicist.
Nobody even wrote about him as a physical person on Earth until about 100 years after he was dead and gone if he existed at all and even then those [pseudonymous] writers were hopelessly biased cult fanatics.
Someone show me one scrap of unbiased, 1st century evidence of his existence. He wrote nothing, made nothing, no portraits or physical representations, nothing is contemporary. Not a thing. That ain't myth. That is fact. That is Jesus Realism."

B. Prokop said...

"Nobody even wrote about him as a physical person on Earth until about 100 years after he was dead and gone if he existed"

Hmm... I won't even get into the Late-Dating controversy (concerning the Gospels) here, since the professional doubters seem impervious to rational argument on this front. So OK, let's stick to Paul. Even the most diehard modernist will admit to his letters having been written entirely prior to A.D. 70. Or at least the ones they will admit to having been written by him, and not by some disciple of his. So OK, let's stick to Galatians here. No one, and I do mean no one, disputes the authenticity of this letter, or the fact that it was written no later than A.D. 60, and possibly as early as A.D. 40.

So what do we find here? (I'll even quote it in English for you.)

"When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law." (Galatians 4:4)

There are many other such passages, but I will restrict myself here to this one, since Mr. Linton will be unable to find a single biblical scholar willing to contest either its dating or its authenticity. So Mr. Hunter Morrow (in the quote that begins this posting) is wrong, wrong, wrong.

B. Prokop said...

"Nobody even wrote about him as a physical person on Earth until about 100 years after he was dead and gone if he existed"

Oh, and if you don't care for quotations from the New Testament, let's turn to Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who verifiably died during the rule of the Emperor Trajan (most probably in the year A.D. 108). In other words, way before "100 years after [Christ's Death and Resurrection]".

So what does Ignatius have to say about Jesus as a "physical person on Earth"? Let's see... how about this?

"Jesus Christ, David's descendant and Mary's son, who was truly born, and ate, and drank, who was truly crucified under Pontius Pilate and died, in the sight of Heaven and Earth." (Letter to the Trallians)

Or this?

"He [Jesus] was truly born of a virgin and baptized by John to fulfill every command. Under Pontius Pilate and Herod the Tetrarch he was really and truly nailed to the Cross in the flesh." (Letter to the Smyrnaeans)

Golly. These sound like references to a "physical person on Earth" to me!

Yet another reason why no one can possibly take seriously the word of self-described "skeptics", who so unskeptically take as (excuse me, pun intended) the Gospel Truth whatever nonsense is said or written about Christ, as long as it doesn't support Christianity!

ingx24 said...

I think this might be relevant. This guy isn't a Christian (at least not in the full-blooded sense), but he's very unimpressed by what he's read of contemporary NT scholarship. Most "skeptical" NT scholars make question-begging assumptions in favor of naturalism, and base conclusions (like the late dating of the Gospels) on those assumptions. And gullible anti-religious atheists just swallow it up like the sheep they accuse Christians of being.

im-skeptical said...

"I think this might be relevant. This guy isn't a Christian (at least not in the full-blooded sense), but he's very unimpressed by what he's read of contemporary NT scholarship"

Not surprising that you think his unscientific fluff is relevant. One thing is certain: he is no skeptic. He is interested in ID, noetics, parapsychology, Thomism, anti-atheism, new-ageism.

And gullible anti-science followers just swallow it up like the sheep they accuse skeptics of being.

In his post relating to the dating of New Testament, he refers to two authors who eschew modern historical dating techniques in favor of interpreting the biblical text itself to determine when it was written. While I would agree that examination of the text is one tool available to the scholar, rejecting those other tools seems to be the last resort of one who doesn't like the evidence he finds.

But you shouldn't listen to me. You might hear something that doesn't fit your belief system.

B. Prokop said...

Fascinating. So in Skep's view, anyone "interested" in ID should not be listened to. Perpetually amazing just how adverse to skepticism these self-described skeptics are.

Your moniker ought to be im-dogmatic!

ingx24 said...

Self-professed "skeptics" are some of the most dogmatic people in existence - sometimes even more so than the most fanatical Christian fundamentalists. People who believe in - or are simply interested in the possibility of - things beyond what science can discover are not just wrong, they are stupid, delusional, irrational, insane, and not even worthy of serious intellectual engagement. "Skeptics" know in advance that the physical is all there is, so any field of inquiry that even entertains the possibility of something beyond the physical existing is by definition irrational superstitious woo not worthy of being taken seriously by any competent intellectual. To "skeptics", mainstream science and materialist philosophy are always right, and everything else is not just wrong, but deplorably so.

Hence quotations such as:

"I know why I'm here. It is a desire to understand. I want to try to know both sides of the issue. I want to know why people believe in something that isn't real. Are they sincere? What is their logic? Do they have arguments that are compelling? Do they follow their beliefs in life, or is it just talk? And I think I'm getting some answers to those questions." - im-skeptical, question-beggingly assuming that the immaterial "isn't real"

"Not surprising that you think his unscientific fluff is relevant. One thing is certain: he is no skeptic. He is interested in ID, noetics, parapsychology, Thomism, anti-atheism, new-ageism.

And gullible anti-science followers just swallow it up like the sheep they accuse skeptics of being."
- im-skeptical, again assuming without argument that any field of inquiry beyond mainstream science and beyond materialist philosophy is by definition anti-scientific, delusional, irrational, etc.

"Consider it a burden I carry pro bono publico, a public good. Wherever and whenever the carbuncle of theism ruptures through the skin of community it must be cauterized at source to prevent further infection. I am interested in always providing the balance of reason, knowledge and experience, an antidote if you will, to the nonsense of theistic supernaturalism... One cannot reject a god, because there is no god to reject in the first place. Period. But a rejection of the concept of god surely is a rejection of primitive and long-suffering superstition, no more no less." - Papalinton, question-beggingly assuming without argument that any kind of "supernaturalism" (read: anything other than materialist philosophy and mainstream science) is not only false, irrational, delusional superstition; but dangerous, and needing to be repressed and removed from public discourse entirely

I could go on, but comboxes only leave so much room, so I'll stop there.

B. Prokop said...

Nice summary, ing. It must have been painful to have to wade through all of that. But as Mr. Wilson said, you were performing a public good.

im-skeptical said...

" assuming without argument that any kind of "supernaturalism" (read: anything other than materialist philosophy and mainstream science) is not only false, irrational, delusional superstition; but dangerous, and needing to be repressed and removed from public discourse entirely"

Oh, the irony.

Papalinton said...

""When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law." (Galatians 4:4)"

Just another apologetical interpretation, pulled out of context, when and if it suits the cause of religious justification of a mytheme. You really need to ask yourself, what the hell was Paul talking about when he says "born of a woman" about someone everyone already took for granted had parents. Are we to imagine that this was in doubt? If it is a plain fact that all men have mothers why did Did Paul have to remind his followers of the obvious? Apologists can't have it both ways. They can't justify Paul not saying anything at all about Jesus, his birth, place of birth, where he lived, where he preached, where he travelled, what miracles he performed etc, indeed anything at all about his earthly existence etc etc, because all this was a given, known to all and sundry and needed not to be reiterated; while at the same time having to tell everyone, nay, to assure everyone, that Jesus was 'born of a woman'. It simply beggars belief.

And as genuine biblical scholars and not the vast majority of apologetical scholars with vested interest have highlighted, Paul wrote this line for a very different purpose, something quite apart from simply stating the bleeding obvious. If one reads further on in that same letter [Galatians] he talks of a woman, one that he clearly notes is allegorical representing the "heavenly" Jerusalem, not an actual woman (Gal. 4:23-31). In context, when Gal 4:4 and Gal 4:23-31 are read in concert Paul was clearly talking about Jesus being born from the "woman" who is the Heavenly Jerusalem (This is a very common scriptural theme both in fulfilling scripture and the logic of Paul's Christology).

Whatever historical content might have been contained in the bible has been seriously and permanently corrupted. Quoting the Bible verbatim simply doesn't cut it anymore nor count as substantive fact to the discerning scholar. Apologetical exegesis is now largely a cake-throwing contest, a free-for-all exchange, either a gabfest or a slugfest depending on the circumstances.

That is why religion is losing its market share not only in the court of public opinion but equally in the public square. [How is that for a mixed metaphor?]


B. Prokop said...

"They can't justify Paul not saying anything at all about Jesus, his birth, place of birth, where he lived, where he preached, where he travelled, what miracles he performed etc, indeed anything at all about his earthly existence etc etc"

Sure we can. Because there was no need for Paul to repeat what was already accessible to everyone in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, which had already been written and distributed.

Now, see just how silly your "late dating" hypothesis is?

B. Prokop said...

Plus, Paul was right next to his travelling companion Luke, who was composing his own Gospel while Paul looked on. Now why oh why would Paul feel a need to replicate what he can see Luke writing?

Good grief, think, Man, for once in your life!

B. Prokop said...

Also, the letters of Paul were written to specific church communities addressing specific issues relevant to those people and places. If they were all in agreement as to the details of the basic "life story" of Jesus. Paul would not see the need to go into them.

B. Prokop said...

Damn, this is just too easy. Give me something I can sink my teeth into. Not this kindergarten stuff!!!

Papalinton said...

"Papalinton, question-beggingly assuming without argument that any kind of "supernaturalism" (read: anything other than materialist philosophy and mainstream science) is not only false, irrational, delusional superstition; but dangerous, and needing to be repressed and removed from public discourse entirely."

Note: "and needing to be repressed and removed from public discourse entirely". Once again ingX24 shamelessly and egregiously verbals me. In his obdurate way he puts words in my mouth that were never said nor implied. On the contrary, I comment on the site to balance out, to level the playing field, to provide an alternative perspective, a balanced, logical and reasoned argument against the supernatural drivel and the concomitant superstitious nonsense that is constantly being peddled by the likes of him and the god-botherers as if it is fact. Heaven forbid [;o) ] that I should attempt to censor people in a democratic society.

If you want to bang on about formless, ethereal putatively live entities that inveigle and mess with our minds at will, or mistakenly" .. assuming without argument that any field of inquiry beyond mainstream science and beyond materialist philosophy" is worthy of consideration and must be regarded equivalent in status and power of science as an explanatory tool for determining reality, knock yourself out. But you convince no one, least of all yourself, with such theological and philosophical woo.

It is the unprincipled nature and dissolute dishonesty that underscores this act of somewhat malicious verballing that is a worrying sign here.

Papalinton said...

"Because there was no need for Paul to repeat what was already accessible to everyone in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, which had already been written and distributed."

Huhhh? Matthew and Mark were written decades after Paul. Even by your own standard of 'evidence'[?]
Senseless.

" .. Luke, who was composing his own Gospel while Paul looked on."

Huhhh? The gospel purported to have been written by Luke is anonymous. No. One. Knows. Who. Wrote. It. And that is a fact; no one knows who wrote it. Period.

Your credibility is shot Bob. You are the archetypal mythicist when it comes to believing the bible. Anything goes if it supports your opinion regardless of the veracity or otherwise.


im-skeptical said...

"and needing to be repressed and removed from public discourse entirely"

I noted the irony in ing's words because that's exactly what the hypocrite does.

B. Prokop said...

"Huhhh? Matthew and Mark were written decades after Paul. Even by your own standard of 'evidence'"

Nope. But then, I am an "early dater" which, although a better case can be made for it than late dating, is admittedly something about which reasonable people can disagree. I personally believe (translation: I regard the evidence as sufficient, and I have heard nothing to preclude its possibility) that Matthew was written first, almost immediately after the Resurrection - definitely in the 30's. Mark was likely written in the 40's. Paul's letters span a period from the mid 30's to the 60's. Luke was likely published in the mid 60's, and John in the late 60's. In any case, all four Gospels pre-date the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

So "decades after Paul"? - nah.

im-skeptical said...

"In any case, all four Gospels pre-date the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70."

We know this because they predicted the destruction of Jerusalem? Of course. That's what Crossley and Robinson said. Who can argue with that kind of logic? And the gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John because that's what they say.

Papalinton said...

Instead of perpetually propagating baldfaced lies about the authorship of the gospels, it behooves christians to tell the truth. In reality the gospels should be properly titled:

[1] The Gospel according to Anonymous Writer #1
[2] The Gospel according to Anonymous Writer #2
[3] The Gospel according to Anonymous Writer #3
[4] The Gospel according to Anonymous Writer #4

If truth were a guiding principle Christians would also ditch half of the Epistles that were attributed to Paul, but are now considered counterfeit. Note:
"There is wide consensus, in modern New Testament scholarship, on a core group of authentic Pauline epistles whose authorship is rarely contested: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Several additional letters bearing Paul's name lack academic consensus: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus. Scholarly opinion is sharply divided on whether the former two epistles are the letters of Paul; however, the latter four - 2 Thessalonians, as well as the three known as the "Pastoral Epistles" - have been labeled pseudepigraphical works by most critical scholars.[1]
There are two examples of pseudonymous letters written in Paul’s name apart from the alleged New Testament epistles: These are the Epistle to the Laodiceans and 3 Corinthians. Since the early centuries of the church, there has been debate concerning the authorship of the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews, and modern scholars reject Pauline authorship.[4]"
Wiki

It doesn't leave much confidence about the truth of the New Testament as an historical document when even the provenance, the source and indeed the origins of such works are highly questionable. When just under half of the NT is pseudonymously written, and those dubious texts form the very foundation of Christianity, one can only conclude that the truth of the faith is as fleeting and as ephemeral as the identity of the authors that wrote them.

Christianity really is a mythicist's delight.

B. Prokop said...

"We know this because they predicted the destruction of Jerusalem?"

No. In fact, exactly the opposite. "We know this" because they do not make a Big Deal out of the actual event. Believe me, had they been written subsequent to A.D. 70, the narrative of the destruction of Jerusalem would have figured far more prominently than it does. For it to be treated almost as an aside (which is how it is in fact presented) would be like a history of the 20th Century to basically skip over World War II.

Besides, there would have been no point whatsoever in all the attention given to what the Sadducees believed that we find in the Gospels, had they been composed after the event. No one suffered more than the Sadducees in the Roman destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem. They were, in fact, wiped out. Why would the Evangelists worry about what an extinct sect thought? But prior to A.D. 70, the Sadducees were a major opponent of the Early Church, with real teeth to their power since they controlled the Temple.

Think, Man, think! Late dating creates more problems than it solves. The very idea is a huge violation of Occam's Razor, usually so beloved of skeptics.

Papalinton said...

"Besides, there would have been no point whatsoever in all the attention given to what the Sadducees believed that we find in the Gospels, had they been composed after the event. No one suffered more than the Sadducees in the Roman destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem. They were, in fact, wiped out. Why would the Evangelists worry about what an extinct sect thought? But prior to A.D. 70, the Sadducees were a major opponent of the Early Church, with real teeth to their power since they controlled the Temple."

Unmitigated story-telling. Sorry Bob, this is a highly suppositional and somewhat delusional misconstrual of the historical record. It is clear to me that it would be a pointless exercise to mount an argument on such an asinine and obvious apologetically-derived observation but suffice it to say It has no validity in bona fide scholarship of Roman occupation in 1stC Palestine.

Sheesh! Give us a break from the woo. Please. It is becoming a little tedious and a bit of an embarrassment.

B. Prokop said...

"as genuine biblical scholars and not the vast majority of apologetical scholars with vested interest have highlighted"

Where oh where is Ilion when we need him? Next to "intellectual dishonesty" in the dictionary ought to be the words quoted above.

Let's parse this amazing passage:

- Anyone who agrees with Mr. Linton is a "genuine scholar"

- Anyone who disagrees with him is merely an "apologetical scholar"

- Linton uses the word "apologetical" as though it were somehow a negative, when all that "apologetics" indicates is that one is systematically employing evidence and reason to defend a position or to advance a cause. What is wrong with that?

- Mr. Wilson labels anyone who disagrees with him as a person "with vested interest". Hmmm... so Dawkins, Harris, Carrier, et.al., have no vested interest in the income they are receiving from their books and lectures? They have no interest in the fawning adulation they receive from their adoring fans?

But what is truly, breathtakingly amazing is that by the simple use of labeling, Mr. Wilson (who fancies himself to be a "thinker", as opposed to the unreasoning faith-heads he so generously contends with) has relieved himself of the need to actually consider the argument. An airy wave of the hand and a chanting of "apologetics" three times over the object of his offense, and "Voila! Case closed! Nothing to see here, move along!"

B. Prokop said...

" this is a highly suppositional and somewhat delusional misconstrual of the historical record"

Oh? Are you a Holocaust denier as well? What I was summarizing is the historical record.

im-skeptical said...

"What I was summarizing is the historical record."

Here's what an unbiased person would conclude about the historical record of the creation of the gospels:

The oldest of the gospels, Mark, contains no resurrection account in its original version. That was added some time later as the Christians' narrative was eventually fleshed out. The Pauline epistles spoke of a resurrected spirit of Jesus, which then morphed into a bodily resurrection in the Christian mythos, that was subsequently added to Mark, and the later gospels (derived substantially from Mark) embellished not only the resurrection story, but accounts of the miraculous doings of Jesus during his life. In addition, specific events were added that were seen as fulfillments of OT prophesy (such as Jesus riding into Jerusalem on two donkeys). The embellishments are so flagrant that there is little historical accuracy in them, and not a shred of credibility.

ingx24 said...

No, that's what a person biased in favor of atheism and naturalism would conclude. There is no "outsider" position from which one can make unbiased conclusions: everyone has a worldview in light of which they evaluate evidence.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

The "historical record" I was referring to had nothing to do with the formation of the Gospels, but was concerned with the annihilation of the Sadducees in A.D. 70, which Mr. Linton (for reasons incomprehensible to me) has decided to contest. My comments were not a "highly suppositional and somewhat delusional misconstrual", but quite plain and simply the unanimous consent of every last historian of the 1st Century. The Sadducees were wiped off the face of the Earth by the Romans during and after the Siege of Jerusalem. To deny these facts would be like denying that JFK was assassinated.

So please don't jump to your usual knee-jerk, canned talking points before you even bother to check to see what we were talking about.

im-skeptical said...

"everyone has a worldview in light of which they evaluate evidence."

You're right about that, and nobody is free from bias. Especially Christians. Any other story as obviously fabricated as the gospels would not stand scrutiny. Why should the gospels be any different? It doesn't matter what my biases are. Anyone can piece together the information that is available. Christians ignore significant facts that point to what most likely happened. The gospels, at least in substantial part, are clearly and obviously fabricated.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

If you want to focus on the Sadducees, why wouldn't it be expected that the gospels would mention them? After all, now that they had developed this resurrection story, they needed to dispel the anti-Christian narrative of the Sadducees. And they weren't wiped out in AD 70. They didn't become extinct as a sect until some time later. They went on to become Karaites, by some accounts.

ingx24 said...

The gospels, at least in substantial part, are clearly and obviously fabricated.

Why? Because they go against the materialist/atheist/naturalist worldview? Because we know in advance that there is no God or anything immaterial and that miracles never happen, so that any story that demonstrates otherwise is by definition a fabrication? Personally, I don't think Christianity is true or that Jesus rose from the dead - I'm very skeptical of the claims of an organization (the Church) that has historically been very controlling and has so much to gain by fabricating or altering historical records - but to say that the Gospels are "obviously fabricated" due to the fact that they contain supernatural events, or to make the claim that the Gospels *must* have been written after 70 A.D. because we know in advance that predicting the future is impossible, is just sheer dogmatism the likes of which has previously only been found in religious fundamentalism.

im-skeptical said...

ingx24,

Let me see if I understand this. Your disbelief is for many reasons that you feel are justified. But my disbelief can only be only due to dogmatism. Not because I have any 'legitimate' reasons to disbelieve. And why is that? Because I'm a materialist? As I said before, we all have our biases. You just go on believing whatever you like, kid.

B. Prokop said...

" I'm very skeptical of the claims of an organization (the Church) that has historically been very controlling and has so much to gain by fabricating or altering historical records"

Ing,

Serious charges there. Can you back them up? (And not just with some Dan Brown nonsense, but actual proof.)

As to "controlling", what you are likely referring to is the unending war against heresy and falsifications of the Gospel. History shows us that from the very beginning - from the Apostolic Age itself, it was not the Church that was doing the altering and fabricating, but the heretics. The so-called apocryphal gospels, full of embellishment and phony miracles, were rightly condemned and fought against by those who were interested in passing down an accurate account of the true narrative (i.e., the Church).

Isn't this astonishing? The self-described "skeptics" (although they are anything but) on this site are forever accusing the Church of making things up, but when you examine actual history, you find that without exception, it has been the Church which has unwaveringly resisted embellishment and mythological accretion. That's why the Canon was established! Precisely to weed out the mythologizers and falsifiers, always with a laser-like focus on staying true to what actually happened.

im-skeptical said...

"The self-described "skeptics" (although they are anything but) on this site are forever accusing the Church of making things up, but when you examine actual history, you find that without exception, it has been the Church which has unwaveringly resisted embellishment and mythological accretion."

Here's an interesting article. Note the significant differences between the original Codex Sinaiticus (from the 4th century) and our modern bible, and that many of those include the very embellishments that you deny. Note that this manuscript had 23,000 "corrections" made to it by the church between the 4th and 12th centuries.

im-skeptical said...

The article;

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

B. Prokop said...

Uhh... What's your point? I am well aware of the Codex Sinaiticus. Please cite me even one significant "correction" made to the text between the 4th and 12th Centuries. Just one, thank you.

I'm waiting...

im-skeptical said...

Well, wait no more. The very first line of Mark describes Jesus as the "son of God". That was an embellishment added as a "correction" to the codex.

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

"Well, wait no more. The very first line of Mark describes Jesus as the "son of God". That was an embellishment added as a "correction" to the codex."

Uhhh, no. The phrase "Son of God" is indeed absent in the Codex Sinaiticus, as it is in two other ancient manuscripts (both much later than the 4th Century). But it is present in every other version, including the even older Codex Vaticanus.

So, if anything, your attempt to drive a stake through the beating heart of Christianity has only strengthened any objective person's confidence in the authenticity of the Gospels. How in the world does a variant reading equate to a "correction"?

But let's do a thought experiment here, shall we? Let's imagine that Mark 1:1 did indeed not contain the words "Son of God". In fact, let's imagine that the entire Gospel of Mark didn't exist. Hell, let's go even further. Let's throw out John, and Acts, and Revelation, and two or three other books (I'll even let you pick which ones). Do you actually believe that that would have even the slightest effect on the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ? Remember, the Apostles preached the Divinity of Christ before the New Testament even existed. So the entire book is not the "one, needful thing" for True Faith.

Skep, you're not dealing with wooden fundamentalists here, who desperately cling to "proof verses" to justify their faith. Remember, the Bible was written by the Church, and it is the Church that interprets what is written therein - not you, certainly not me, not William Lane Craig, not Pope Francis. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. You know... the people I mentioned a couple of postings above, who have preserved unaltered and unembellished the faithfulness of the Gospel narrative - those guys.

Your batting average is even worse than Mr. Wilson's. Another swing and a miss.

im-skeptical said...

"Remember, the Bible was written by the Church, and it is the Church that interprets what is written therein - not you"

Correct you are. But we still have evidence of the many changes that have been made along the way. The codex Vaticanus was commissioned by Constantine himself, the head of the church, and though it is believed to have appeared a few years before Sinaiticus, it already shows numerous changes from what is believed to be contained the original scriptures. The original Vaticanus, too is still vastly different from the current text of the bible, having been enhanced and embellished by the church as their biblical narrative developed over the years.

B. Prokop said...

So what?

Where are the significant "embellishments"?

(By significant, I mean: What would be different/missing, were these texts absent?)

I'm trying hard to not yawn here.

im-skeptical said...

"What would be different/missing, were these texts absent?"

How should I know that? The church makes up whatever it wants for its biblical narrative. I'm not a biblical scholar, either. All I can say is that the further back you go in time (as I have been able to discern from the information I have seen), the stories of Jesus are less remarkable (no virgin birth, no resurrection, etc), and there is a clear progression toward these very significant embellishments as you come to later versions.

Papalinton said...

I-S: "The original Vaticanus, too is still vastly different from the current text of the bible, having been enhanced and embellished by the church as their biblical narrative developed over the years."

Prokop: "So what?"

So everything. This is a child's response of last resort when the evidence for the construction of the narrative is simply overwhelming against both the mythic tradition and the convention of religious belief. This is the Achilles heel of superstitious belief today. It is the willful denial of evidence that is at play here.

What it inform us is how the supernatural belief system operates in spite of the clear evidence to the contrary. People do no come to belief in religion on the basis of evidence, because evidence and facts play no part in the decision. It is solely driven by emotion and misplaced intuition. The bases of fact, evidence and proofs are not imperatives of religious belief. Indeed the less evidence, the stronger the belief. That is the nature of religious belief. The response, "So What?" is characteristically emblematic of the eschewing of evidence if it does not fit the favoured narrative.

Misguided intuition? You betcha. What we should be celebrating is not the miracle of resurrection and virgin birth. What we should be rightly celebrating is the boundless creativity and the inexhaustible imagination of the human mind that lies at bottom of these stories. That is the true narrative that should be told and valued and nurtured. It is quintessentially the scientific narrative that is slowly opening up the human mind to the possibilities of the future.

Paradigmatically, whatever the thought, concept, abstraction supervening supervenes on naturalism. Warts and all, it is firming as properly basic.

B. Prokop said...

" This is a child's response of last resort"

No, there's no "last resort" here. This is precisely what I said a few months back on this very website, to wit:

I personally believe (on the basis of solid evidence and reasoning that convinces me) in the early dating of the Gospels and Acts, i.e., prior to A.D. 70. But... when they were written, or by whom, is ultimately irrelevant to a Catholic Christian. Our faith is not based on such trifles, but on the Incarnate Word of God. After all (as I pointed out a few postings above this one), the Apostles and the Early Church got along quite well without an established canon. The Gospels were written not to establish the Faith, but to enrich it.

To the atheist, however, these matters are vital. He cannot under any circumstances and no matter what the evidence admit to apostolic authorship or to eyewitness testimony, lest his entire house of cards of an (un)belief system come crashing about his head.

To paraphrase Mr. Wilson a bit:

What has become patently clear is how the atheist belief system operates in spite of the clear evidence to the contrary. People do not come to unbelief in religion on the basis of evidence, because evidence and facts play no part in the decision. It is solely driven by emotion and misplaced intuition. The bases of fact, evidence and proofs are not imperatives of atheist dogma. Indeed the more the evidence, the stronger the denial. That is the nature of so-called "skepticism". The response, "So What?" is perfectly appropriate in the context of not worrying about what Saint Paul termed "godless chatter" and "meaningless discussions".

im-skeptical said...

"The bases of fact, evidence and proofs are not imperatives of atheist dogma. Indeed the more the evidence, the stronger the denial."

Bob, you're describing your own fact-free, dogmatic imperviousness to evidence. I point out evidence, you laugh it off. I show you why belief is untenable, you keep hanging on. And tell me that I'm stuck on dogma. Right.

B. Prokop said...

"I point out evidence, you laugh it off."

What evidence? The fact that different codexes (what is the plural of codex, anyway?) don't line up perfectly? And this is supposed to mean what?

And I didn't laugh it off - I yawned it off. I'm still trying to figure out what it is that you found so impressive about your "evidence".

And your accusation of my being dogmatic is pure projection. It's the way you think (despite your absurd moniker - now that is something to laugh about), so you imagine everyone else does too.

B. Prokop said...

Oh, and just in case you missed it, the quote you began your last posting with wasn't mine - it was Linton's. (Just slightly improved.)

im-skeptical said...

"And your accusation of my being dogmatic is pure projection."

Right. Because we have the atheist catechism drilled into us from early childhood by the atheist religious institution, teaching us what and how to think. And to think we would project such a thing onto you!

Papalinton said...

"Our faith is not based on such trifles, but on the Incarnate Word of God."

Another classic example of ethereal superstitious woo peddled as reality that swirls and eddies through the synaptic spaces of the religious brain. Garbage in garbage out to put it uncharitably.

I personally would rather have the naturalistic knowledge and skills of a trained surgeon to operate on my head rather than allow the supernaturalistic laying on of hands, the knowledge of a few incantations from the Incarnate Word of God to heal my 'possessed-of-the-devil' epilepsy any day of the week, if I had the condition. And yet, and yet, there are hundreds of thousands of Christians, thousands of families today in the US alone, in the 21st C, regardless of whether they are Calvinists, Catholic, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, whose faith in God and the Incarnate Word of God is so strong that it informs their 'reasoned and logical' decision to go with the laying on of hands, the theological medical intervention, as their preference.

So strong is their conviction and belief that it necessitates a secular authority to legislate to protect these people from themselves. That is a fact. Period. The irony here is that these people are ordinary folk in every day life in every sense of the word and in everything else they do in their lives. In court they have been found not to be intellectually or physically impaired and knew what they were doing and the decisions they made to administer 'spiritual healing'.

Whatever the incarnate Word of God is, the argument for it is unreservedly unconvincing and callow. The Incarnate Word of God is what philosopher Daniel Dennett, famously coined, a deepity.

""A deepity is a proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed. It has (at least) two readings and balances precariously between them. On one reading it is true but trivial. And on another reading it is false, but would be earth-shattering if true."

hostpc 18

Crude said...

Bob,

Good try. But I doubt you expected to make progress with these two - when you're dealing with people animated by hate and bigotry as much as Linton and Skep are (and worse, when they're both as mentally slow as... well, as Linton and Skep are), there's not much to be said. Invincible ignorance on display here in these two, quite possibly.

But for us onlookers? At least it's been an entertaining thing to watch. ;)

B. Prokop said...

Thanks, Crude. But I hope Victor posts a new topic soon. I meant what I said by yawning it off. This whole conversation has reminded me of a British political philosopher I was listening to on the BBC at the height of the War on Terror, sometime around 2003 or so. (I lived in the UK for a few years around the start of this century.) He remarked that he found himself missing the Cold War, because with the Communists there was a real intellectual struggle going on - Western ideals vs Marxism. Something you could sink your teeth into and actually hold a debate on. But with the terrorists, there was no debate, no philosophy on the other side worth grappling with, nothing you could take seriously.

I feel the same way here. I mean, really - Skep learns from Wikipedia or somewhere that there's something called the Codex Sinaiticus, and that it doesn't line up word for word with the Codex Vaticanus. And upon hearing of this new-to-him fact, he then announces that this means that "belief is untenable", and that I should immediately repent in dust and ashes of all my error.

Pu-l-e-e-e-e-ze!

B. Prokop said...

"But I hope Victor posts a new topic soon." (quoting myself here)

What I should have written is that I would love to see a better class of opponent here. Whatever happened to Blue Devil Knight? Now there was an infidel with a brain!

Papalinton said...

"Good try. But I doubt you expected to make progress with these two ..."

Progress? Religion is the last remaining impediment of the human condition. Adherence to supernatural superstition is a vestigial remainder of the primitive origins of the species.

Religion is the regressive, infantile wish for the perfect parent of early childhood. Why would I want to be born again? No thanks. Once is enough. I have no desire to be 'born again'. Christianity is saturated with the imagery of returning to childhood, to become one of God's children, to existentially trust in him as one would a parent, a perpetual juvenile. These are not the visions of growing up, of maturing, of becoming an adult, about accepting responsibility for one's own actions, and to stand on one's own feet. One step forward and three steps back is hardly progress.

Your version of 'progress' is misconstrued.

Papalinton said...

" ... when you're dealing with people animated by hate and bigotry as much as Linton ..."

On the contrary. No hate, but laughter. No bigotry because I feel no intolerance towards the practice. It is true I certainly have a markedly different opinion and view about religious practice and thought than you do, but difference is not intolerance. Largely I'm motivated to comment because the inherent risible nature of supernatural superstition is decidedly humorous if one does not take it too seriously. I make comment simply to level the playing field, to provide balance, to signal an alternative to religious belief because there is an viable, bona fide, strong and substantive alternative, secularism, or more broadly, secular humanism. Promulgating an alternative is not intolerance.

Dan Gillson said...

I just had an epiphany. Papalinton is the Don Quixote of atheism.

im-skeptical said...

"And upon hearing of this new-to-him fact, he then announces that this means that "belief is untenable""

No, Bob. I was merely trying to point out a bit if evidence to you that the authors of the bible made it up as they went along. This is something I decided long ago - by looking at the evidence (and there is a wealth of it). You are obviously totally blind to the evidence, and shrug it off because it conflicts with the beliefs that you grew up with.

If you find this so tiresome, why do you step into these discussions? If you miss the good old days when nobody challenged your beliefs, there are plenty of other echo chambers where Christians happily band together to spout their hatred and disgust of all things they find ungodly.

B. Prokop said...

"a bit if evidence to you that the authors of the bible made it up as they went along"

But it is nothing of the sort. It is evidence of there being variant texts - an entirely different kettle of fish - and that's it. For you to make the completely unsubstantiated and quite unwarranted leap from that to "making it up as they go along" is nothing short of a total repudiation of your much vaunted "skepticism".

What? You imagine that you've discovered some sort of smoking gun? You think that biblical scholars haven't been dealing with variant texts since Saint Jerome? (and probably long before him) Read Jerome's commentaries on the scriptures (I have). They deal extensively with the issue of variant texts. And this is in the year 400! If the Church was "making it up as it went along", why would they highlight such things? Don't you think they'd rather sweep them under the rug?

Heck, almost every translation I've ever read is littered with footnotes saying things like "some ancient manuscripts lack..." or "the Greek differs in this passage from the Hebrew in the following manner...", or even "meaning of original is obscure/uncertain", etc.

This is solid evidence (one of your favorite words) that the Church is not making it up as it goes along. Now that I've presented it to you, are you going to change your mind?

Oh, and by the way, I scoff at your delusion that you have ever in some manner "challenged my beliefs". Now, many people have over the years, and I've welcomed those challenges - and come out with a more well-grounded Faith as a result. But I'm afraid that nothing you have ever posted here has yet risen to the level of a "challenge". Exasperating, but certainly no challenge. And while we're at it, here's another by the way - if you think that the "Good old Days" were some sort of echo chamber, and not filled with intellectually challenging debate and discussion, you need to ask my old college buddy Victor about the rough and tumbles of those days. God, I miss them sometimes!

Even today, when I read the Op-Ed section of my daily newspaper (The Washington Post), I generally skip over the columnists that I know will agree with me, and go straight for those I know will write something opposed to my viewpoint on an issue. Does that sound like somebody hankering for an echo chamber?

But bottom line here (and the only really important thing I've written in this posting): Your so-called evidence of the Church making things up is actually evidence of the contrary. It shows an admirable scrupulousness in getting it right, and not papering over the rough edges. You have inadvertently built up a strong case for the veracity of the text that we now read!

im-skeptical said...

"It shows an admirable scrupulousness in getting it right, and not papering over the rough edges. You have inadvertently built up a strong case for the veracity of the text that we now read!"

It shows how the story changed as time went on. It shows that the church continued it efforts to "get it right" over many centuries of revisions to the text and meaning of the bible books.

And that's only the ones that were picked by Constantine to be the basis of his state religion. Many other texts were excluded or suppressed by the church. Most notable among them were the gnostic gospels, whose message, while probably more in line with the actual teachings of Jesus, were antithetical to Constantine's state religion. The church made numerous campaigns over the years to destroy "heretical" books that it viewed as a threat. In the belief that knowledge is bad for people outside the institution, it didn't even want Christians to have copies of the bible that they could read for themselves.

http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/banned.htm

The text that we now read in the bible was chosen for its conformity to the political needs of the church/state. It was embellished, revised, and edited as the doctrines and dogmas of the church were formulated. There is ample evidence of this. If you care to look at it.

B. Prokop said...

"picked by Constantine"

Hah! You've been reading way too much Dan Brown. The struggle against the gnostic heretics goes wa-a-a-ay back to the Apostolic Age itself. You see references to it in the three letters of John. And the early Church Fathers were in the thick of things against this distortion of the Gospel. Go back and re-read the quotes I supplied above (Sep 6, 6:33 AM)from St. Ignatius of Antioch. These were daggers in the heart of Gnosticism. We have similar statements from Polycarp of Smyrna and others from the late 1st/early 2nd Centuries. In other words, more than 200 years before Constantine. So please don't give me that Da Vinci Code crapola about some sort of Roman Empire conspiracy to "clean up" Christian doctrine. It just doesn't fly in the face of ACTUAL FACTS. (something I, it seems erroneously, thought you were interested in).

All that the Ecumenical Councils (Nicaea, Ephesus, et.al.) did was to confirm what the Church had already believed and had been widely preaching long before they ever were convened. Their purpose was not to "suppress" heretical ideas, but to define them as such, and reaffirm orthodoxy.

And how in the world can you possibly imagine that the gnostic pseudo-gospels were somehow "probably more in line with the actual teachings of Jesus" when every last apostolic and post-apostolic witness condemns them? Read Clement of Rome, Justim Martyr, Iraneus of Lyon, etc. All of them unanimous in rejecting Gnosticism. Your statement doesn't even make sense, and contradicts the mountain of evidence (you do like evidence, right?) that we have from those times. How is it more probable that every last follower of Jesus was wrong about what He taught, but that some 2nd generation heretics (who, by the way) had never met with or spoken to Jesus) somehow got it right?

Think, Man! You claim that that's what you're good at! Live up to your moniker, and show some healthy skepticism toward this nonsense you've been peddling here.

B. Prokop said...

Oh, and as to your link, Skep (which I assume you intended as somehow being "shocking")... you do realize that my Bible of choice is the Latin Vulgate, right?

Crude said...

Bob,

Oh, and as to your link, Skep (which I assume you intended as somehow being "shocking")

Oh, it is. Did you not browse the site?

On it you can learn all about Mystery Babylon conspiracy theories, and how Catholicism is really pagan sun worship.

Basically, Captain Skeptical over there just linked to the geocities-throwback equivalent of Jack Chick in his evidence citation. ;)

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

If you enjoyed Skep's link for a good laugh, you'll really like this one:

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/scratch-an-atheist-find-a-fundamentalist1

(One of these days, you guys are gonna have to show me how to make links.)

Crude said...

Bob,

Here's a simple guide.

Self-described skeptical people are rarely skeptical in general. They are selectively skeptical - but every cultist is.

B. Prokop said...

Thanks, Crude. I tried it out on the thread above this one, and got it to work on the second go-round.

Papalinton said...

"Read Clement of Rome, Justim Martyr, Iraneus of Lyon, etc. All of them unanimous in rejecting Gnosticism."

;o) I wonder if these were all on the same side of the tagteam?

Is this the same Justin Martyr in demonstrating that christianity is no different to Paganism when he argued:
CHAP 21
And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter."


And is this also the same Justin Martyr who confirmed:

"Ch. 22
And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God. But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated."


Then how do the rest of the tagteam later rationalize all this? Wait for it. Wait for it.

DIABOLICAL MIMICRY. Yes diabolical mimicry. Followed up by the mimicry of baptism and the mimicry of eucharist, all of them foretold, all of them fundamental practices of earlier pagan religions but apparently all of them false. Why? Because the devil it. Satan knew in advance, ahead of time, that Jesus was coming, and to trick everybody he set up all the pagan religions to thwart or test the faith of believers.
And this stands as evidence, as fact for why christianity looks every bit like all the other religions around at the time. This is the level of what constitutes fact and evidence for the foundation of christianity.

Dr Derek Murphy HERE best explains it:
"“Diabolical Mimicry” is fascinating because the argument is nearly as old as the beginning of the Christian movement and used widely by Christian apologists for nearly 4 centuries, which shows that not only were the similarities between Jesus and Pagan gods apparent to both Christians and Pagans, but that they were never refused by apologists as coincidental, nor a result of reverse-copying, as is claimed today. Diabolical Mimicry was the earliest Christian response to the Christ Myth theory, which has plagued Christians who believe in the historical Jesus for nearly 2,000 years. The argument claims that Satan used “plagiarism by anticipation,” or a pre-emptive strike against the gospel stories centuries before Jesus was born, by spreading rumors of other god-men who did what Jesus was going to do later."

The wholly degraded idea of supernatural superstition is fundamentally characterized in this intellectually erudite observation on how the religious perceive of themselves:

”My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”― Isaac Asimov

B. Prokop said...

Linton, Linton, Linton,

How many times do I have to tell you that finding reflections of Christianity in mythology and other religions (to include ancient paganism) is evidence in favor of its Truth? Unless you are somehow severely mentally deficient, you know very well that I have repeatedly stressed this. So why oh why do you continue to raise the issue as though you're making some sort of point? Because you're not - all you're doing is affirming what I have already stated (in fact, proclaimed) to be the case.

So please continue your making arguments in favor of the Truth of Christianity. You're doing an excellent job in that regard so far!

Papalinton said...

"How many times do I have to tell you that finding reflections of Christianity in mythology and other religions (to include ancient paganism) is evidence in favor of its Truth? "

Then it is a perverted and wrongheaded form of truth that you subscribe to. It is the kind of truth which ever-increasing numbers of the community identify as unsubstantiated, indefensible and simply not credible. Your kind of truth just does not stack up anymore an s is the reason why many are turning away from such head-shaking nonsense.

No. On the contrary people are now understanding and appreciating that christianity is a veritable agglomeration of selected and appropriated cultural artifacts that grew out of the plethora of earlier and competing Middle Eastern belief systems in the 1stC CE. There is not a scintilla of disagreement among bona fide, [real] genuine scholars, those not having vested religious ideology to peddle, that christianity was forged out of the concepts, ideas and traditions that had been generated, worked upon and promulgated for thousands of years before Jesus was even an impish and deliciously cheeky sparkle in Mary's eye. Christianity owes its origins fully and totally to its antecedent forerunners. Of that there is no doubt.

" ..finding reflections of Christianity in mythology and other religions .. " is the theological contrivance that has been so authoritatively and comprehensively debunked and dismissed as superstitious by the best of the scholars. This is the Christian fable constructed at a time in human development when superstition, sorcery, witchcraft, spells and incantation, magic and thaumaturgy were the conventional practices of everyday life.

The fable is not an historical account. Otherwise the historical account would be written thus, " .. finding reflections of mythology and other religions in christianity .."

It really is a matter of the commonsensical, reasoned and logical understanding of precedence. Mithraism, the Greek and Roman pantheons, the Egyptian religion, the Mesopotamians, and many others all manifest in the christian mytheme. That is unquestioned. These pagan religious belief systems were not the result of the devil setting them up as christians have been telling us for 2,000 years. They were the ingredients in the witches cauldron out of which christianity was supped. No more no less.

And at bottom, Bob's " ..finding reflections of Christianity in mythology and other religions .. " is really a confession, an unqualified admission, albeit oblivious to the unintended consequences in making such a perverse, ignorant and chowderheaded comment.

No. Christianity is a wholly-owned derivative of all the systems gone before it. Christianity is the continuing ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system.
Dr Murphy goes on:
"However, along with blaming wicked demons (which is about as reliable as “The little green men did it!”) Justin also makes the claim that Plato and the Egyptians, whose doctrines prefigure Christian theology, copied from the Old Testament! This argument is sometimes continued even today, by those who have read neither Plato nor the Old Testament; nor the ancient philosophical texts of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Babylonians, in whose writings (which came several thousand years before even the Old Testament) can be found similar similarities. The truth is, there is an underlying mythological theme behind most of the world’s religious and philosophical works, and if any of it was hand written by God, then all of it was."

I think one can reasonably understand and appreciate why it is I find christianity, and religion more broadly, risible when comments such as this example from Bob is tossed out there into the public forum and expected to be treated as a serious contribution. Have christians no dignity, no repute?

Crude said...

Unless you are somehow severely mentally deficient,

Bob, Linton's quite literally a chinese room. Remember the plagiarism? He does not understand what he's talking about most of the time. He copies and pastes and crows. Actually comprehending not only his opponents' words, but *the very sources he quotes*, is another matter entirely. He's not interested. Odds are, he is not even capable.

Don't expect to make progress here. With others, it's possible, but between "This fellow with the Mystery Babylon webpage seems to have some good ideas here!" guy and "Copies and pastes responses from a webpage when asked to summarize an argument in his own words" guy, c'mon. Best to treat all this as a game. They clearly do - even if they lose at it. ;)

Papalinton said...

Bereft of any substantive underpinnings for each and every theistic and theo-philosophical argument that he has promulgated, one can sense, nay feel, the utter impotence and feebleness that percolates and saturates crude's noxious diatribe on little ol' me.

Captured and bound fast in a web of his own making, unable to counter the historical fact that religions and gods are not heaven-sent, the aerated spume of deep-rooted inadequacy, habitual powerlessness and anger bobs to the surface and bursts all through his gratuitous comments on my person.

And in the fashion of good old christian morality, an eye for an eye, it seems incumbent on me to respond in like.

For all that he has written and as a gauge of the impact his contributions have made over time, Crude is the ubiquitous monkey fronting a typewriter perpetually charged with a clean sheet of paper, furiously typing, but the sheet remains fresh, unmarked, pristine.
Crude's cranial cavity is indeed a god-shaped vacuum in search of dark matter.

Don't give up your day job, crude. Spiritual food does not sustain life in this natural and only world.

B. Prokop said...

I know, Crude, I know.

Skep and Linton, each in his own way, are evidence for the truth of the title of the thread two above this one:

"You can't argue with a zombie".

grodrigues said...

Having had my share in battling cranks (most notoriously, the "anti-Cantorians") there is a starking resemblance between them and the look-at-me-im-skeptical's haunting this site: the same ignorance, the same obtuseness, the same enthralment to a shallow and pernicious ideology.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Having now nothing left in the theological cupboard of fresh ideas on which to draw they resort to commenting among themselves. This little junta on cue degenerates into passing gratuitous comments between themselves attempting to impugn the characters of those that have rightfully rejected supernatural superstition as the basis of their worldview.

Review: 'cranks', 'mentally deficient', 'chinese room'.

It is the last ditch stand for those who cannot yet recognise and understand that religion is slowly but inexorably reaching its use-by date because it has been shown to be of little use as a realistic, sensible and predictive explanatory tool going forward. On the fact front that is a reality. On the social front religion is simply no match to the principles and ideals of secular humanism in governing one's personal and social behaviour. Secular humanism obviates the need for an exclusively tribal christian life, or closed-circuit muslim life, or an elephant-driven Hindus life, or the tens of thousands of other superstition-based worldviews which in many of their most important tenets and misplaced beliefs are inherently conflictual, contradictory and irreconcilable. History has repeatedly demonstrated that.

B. Prokop said...

Yawn.

B. Prokop said...

I realize that it is days since Mr. Wilson made his comment of September 07, 2013 7:43 PM, in which he attempted to drive a wedge between Christianity and medicine, but despite my slowness in response, his falsehoods demand an answer.

I will (horrors) quote from Scripture:

"Honor the physician with the honor due him, according to your need of him ... for healing comes from the Most High ... The skill of the physician lifts up his head, and in the presence of great men he is admired. The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them ... the pharmacist makes of them a compound ... and from him health is upon the face of the earth.

My son, when you are sick do not be negligent, but pray to the Lord ... and give the physician his place ... let him not leave you, for there is need of him. There is a time when success lies in the hands of physicians ... May [a sick person] fall into the care of a physician.
"
(Taken from Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), chapter 38)

Damn, but that's clear enough for me. Of course, the Protestants will have some reticence about quoting the above, since Sirach is one of the seven books of the Bible that they removed from the canon during the Reformation. But it's still affirmed as Holy Writ by the overwhelming number of Christians today, so I am on firm ground in citing it.

im-skeptical said...

Yawn

Papalinton said...

An unconvincing and puerile rebuttal to the facts, the evidence to the contrary.

God made medicines? Only in your wildest dreams and most misconstrued imagination.

If indeed"The Lord created medicines from the earth ..." then he no doubt would have been held accountable for crimes against humanity in any decent society. As one example billions of people have died from dental caries while your god sat on his hands about the simple medicine that would have cured it. No, with utterly depraved indifference and criminal intent he sat on that information and apparently not only watched but allowed people to die in excruciating pain.

Christians have two logical and reasoned choices: [1] God is a figment of the imagination because it is inconceivable that an omniscient, omnibenevolent, loving entity could possibly permit it, or [2] god is a monster.

For some 2,000 years, co-incidentally as it happens over the exact same time period that the Jesusgod memeplex was fabricated and embellished, people had perished from dental diseases, because he saw to it that dental medicines were not available until the 20tC.

So in context of evidence, proofs, facts, laid out in the historical record, it can only be concluded that Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) is a folktale. Anyone who believes this story mindful of the thousands of children in the US alone that have suffered and died painfully as a result of choosing the laying-on-of-hands biblical medical intervention must be spurned and the belief rejected outrightly.

B. Prokop said...
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B. Prokop said...

Linton's last posting once again demonstrates his seemingly perpetual inability to understand what he is reading. My quotation was a dagger in the heart of his original contention that mistrust of medicine is somehow a necessary part of Christian belief. I show him that it is not. He proceeds (as usual) to miss the point completely.

The issue at hand here is not the efficacy of medicine - it is what the Christian world's attitude towards it is. Mr. Wilson claimed that it was hostile. I prove it is not. His primary blow thus beaten back, Linton feints to the right with a total non-sequitur.

In fact, his original comment on this subject was itself a non-sequitur. Since he couldn't stand just sitting by and watch me demolish Skep's ridiculous argument over the variant reading between different codexes, and not having anything coherent to say on the topic at hand, Linton plunges over the cliff with an irrelevant (and completely bogus) claim about Christians not trusting physicians.

And as to the beliefs and/or practices of heretics and schismatics (and that's all that Calvinists, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses - the sects listed by Mr. Wilson - are), I am not responsible for what they say or do. Neither is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Just as Linton claims no requirement to defend the actions of atheist communists, neither do I recognize any obligation to defend heretics. Of course their error will lead them at some point to catastrophe.

Papalinton said...

"The issue at hand here is not the efficacy of medicine - it is what the Christian world's attitude towards it is."

Just a few of the most current of Christian examples:

"Death by Prayer: Christian Fundamentalist Parents Denied Their Children Medicine and Watched Them Die" READ HERE

"Philadelphia couple, who says they seek prayer not doctors, in court after second child dies; no charges yet" Read more

"Cases of Childhood Deaths Due to Parental Religious Objection to Necessary Medical Care" READ HERE

"Faith Healing Scandal: Parents Prayed Instead of Seeking Medical Care as Child Slowly Dies" READ HERE

"Parents who believe in miracles 'torturing' dying children, doctors warn" From Britain READ HERE

"Christian parents who refused 'sinful' medicine and prayed as their toddler son died are spared prison." RERAD MORE from Britain

In his arrogance and ignorance Bob sees nothing untoward that spills out time after time after time. Religion serves no more useful purpose in guiding a good life than tossing a coin. And he is indifferent to those that have suffered unimaginable pain and agony because christianity guided the responses of the parents. These were not intellectually or mentally deficient people. They were ardent believers in Jesusgod. Period. The sooner the community realizes and understands this the better for all.

B. Prokop said...

"These were not intellectually or mentally deficient people."

No, they were heretics, and followers of heretical sects.

Tell you what, Linton. If I need to defend the beliefs and actions of people with whom I totally disagree, simply because they choose to use the same name for their religion as I do, then you are likewise required to accept responsibility for all the actions of the Soviet and North Korean regimes. Deal?