Thursday, October 31, 2013

Atheists don't get God

Here. 

Ht: Bob Prokop

89 comments:

John Moore said...

So God is "the sheer act of being itself." I'm worried that 90% of believing Christians would be baffled by this statement. They think God is a person who loves them and redeems them and has a plan for them. What's this vague stuff the sophisticated theologians are going on about?

Walter said...

What's this vague stuff the sophisticated theologians are going on about?

It's the god of Greek philosophy.

B. Prokop said...

"It's the god of Greek philosophy."

No, Walter, it's the God of Exodus, Chapter 3 - "I am who am" (Douay-Rheims Translation)

Walter said...

No, Walter, it's the God of Exodus

Aquinas's conception of God was heavily influenced by the pagan philosophy of Aristotle. Classical theism did not originate with Christianity, but was adopted by medieval Christian philosophers who attempted to synthesize Greek metaphysics with the Judeo-Christian "revelation."

B. Prokop said...

"Aquinas's conception of God was heavily influenced by the pagan philosophy of Aristotle."

Close, but not 100% accurate. I would say instead that Aquinas's methodology of presentation was heavily influenced by the pagan philosophy of Aristotle.

But perhaps that is just a quibble.

BenYachov said...

>Aquinas's conception of God was heavily influenced by the pagan philosophy of Aristotle.

So what? Scripture alone was invented in the 16th century by a German. Scripture and Tradition are ancient & the natural knowledge of philosophy.

The Books of Wisdom & Sirach contain divinely sanctioned philosophy in common with the greeks.

>Classical theism did not originate with Christianity,

Natural Knowledge is from human reason but Christianity added divine revelations.

>but was adopted by medieval Christian philosophers who attempted to synthesize Greek metaphysics with the Judeo-Christian "revelation."

Yet before the Christians there is Philo, Book of Wisdom & Sirach etc....

.

Papalinton said...

Walter: "Aquinas's conception of God was heavily influenced by the pagan philosophy of Aristotle. Classical theism did not originate with Christianity, but was adopted by medieval Christian philosophers who attempted to synthesize Greek metaphysics with the Judeo-Christian "revelation.""

Right on the money. I would put it a little more indelicately. Aquinas commandeered Aristotelian philosophy to give form and substance to the Christian mytheme. Aquinas appropriated Classical Greek philosophy onto which he appended Christianity in order to legitimate what is essentially a fable. Remove the Aristotelian antecedents from the Christian narrative and it becomes indistinguishable from the many competing belief systems extant that drew their succor from the common pool of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean mythology. Indeed Justin Martyr makes it demonstrably clear :

"When we say that Jesus Christ was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended to heaven, we propound nothing new or different from what you believe regarding those whom you call the sons of Jupiter."
- Justin Martyr, church father [ First Apology 21:30]

It was not until the 13th Century that Aquinas sought to sequester classical Aristotelian philosophy and metaphysics for Christianity itself. The contrived union egregiously cobbled reason and faith together as if they were synonymous. How ironic it is that reasoned Pagan metaphysics and philosophy should form the foundation stone of the Christian mythos. It simply demonstrates the crass and immodest nature of Christian thought.

BenYachov said...

Paps has got that whole fundamentalist Christian fear of pagan coodies down pat.

St Justin made analogies between Christ and the pagan sons of Jupiter. Big deal.

YHWH is the God of the Gentiles too.

Papalinton said...

"Paps has got that whole fundamentalist Christian fear of pagan coodies down pat.
St Justin made analogies between Christ and the pagan sons of Jupiter. Big deal."


No. What it demonstrates is Christianity's inextricable link with its pagan origins and genesis [pun intended]. The clamorous Christian denial of and refusal to acknowledge this shared heritage is humorously and delightfully underscored in William Warburton's: "Orthodoxy is my doxy; Heterodoxy is another man's [your] doxy"

What is interesting to note is that genuine academic and unapologetic-focussed biblical studies is indeed amassing the evidence, facts and proofs about the size, depth and extent of the common pool out of which all the various Middle Eastern religious traditions drew their social aspirations and cultural ideas. While vigorously attempting in their quest to effect as many points of differentiation as possible, there is no hiding the basic inheritable traits that each religion shares and draws from this energetic and inspirational multicultural pool.

Itb is just so obvious.

im-skeptical said...

"... though they are willing to ask and answer all sorts of questions about reality, they become radically uncurious, irrational even, just when the most interesting question of all is posed: why is there something rather than nothing?"

Irrational? Uncurious? It is human nature to wonder how the universe came to be. Scientific methods have gone a long way toward answering some of the deepest questions about our existence. But we don't pretend to have all the answers. When such a question is posed, unlike theists, we don't feel the need to make up an answer. We don't attribute the unknown to a postulated god. That's not the way to satisfy your curiosity. That's the way to stifle it. And it is utterly irrational.

Jim S. said...

Well, I agree with the headline, but not the article. Most of the objections to theism that I hear can be responded to with, "Yeah, I don't believe in a God like that either."

Papalinton said...

"Most of the objections to theism that I hear can be responded to with, "Yeah, I don't believe in a God like that either."

And from the thousands of gods extant available, which one like that is it?

Crude said...

When such a question is posed, unlike theists, we don't feel the need to make up an answer.

Sure you do:

"It's not God."

"It's unguided nature."

"It's 99.99% likely not to be God based on a calculation I pulled out of my ass."

Nor do theists 'make up' their answers. They make inferences based on a combination of arguments, evidence and rational consideration. The fact that you disagree doesn't make them irrational.

It's doubly funny you're talking about it being irrational to pretend you know the answer to a question, when your main buddy on here is an atheist who demonstrably plagiarized a response to answer a question about a topic he wished to feign knowledge of. Not to mention your own terrible track record.

Face it, Skep: what you are engaged in here is out and out projection. You feign certain knowledge of what you are ignorant of, cast a blind eye towards your doing it, and then accuse others who are innocent of the charge of being guilty of it.

You're already starting to become skeptical of the atheist sites you previously clung to. Why not finally become a skeptic of Cult of Gnu atheism? You'll be a better man for losing that faith.

im-skeptical said...

Theists don't get atheism.

They are always trying to project their own mentality on the atheist. They fail to understand that we don't have religious leaders, or some kind of prescribed dogma that we have to cling to. They have deluded themselves into believing that logic and rationality are on their side - ignoring the fact that logic is the foundation of science, not of superstition.

When an atheist argues against the kind of god that he learned about as he was growing up, they answer, that's not MY god. But it's the god that millions of people actually DO believe in. The Thomist proclaims the he understands the true nature of god, but he ignores the fact that most Catholics don't have that same understanding. The atheist has every right to address belief as it is commonly understood.

Dan Gillson said...

Skep,

1. IMPORTANT THING FOR ATHEISTS TO KNOW: Logic is not the foundation of science, it's the foundation of mathematics. Common sense is the foundation of science. If logic were the foundation of science, then logic would be concerned with observable phenomenon; but logic isn't concerned with observable phenomenon, it's concerned with abstractions. However, science can use logic and mathematics as a tool … but so can religion.

2. Your second para reeks of special pleading. If atheists have every right to address belief as it is commonly understood then so do theists. You don't get to have your cake and eat it. Atheism has become an unsophisticated meme. It deserves to be pilloried, just like unsophisticated instantiations of theism do.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

I probably should have said that logic, in combination with observation, is the foundation of science. I reject the notion of common sense as being the foundation of science, since it includes belief in things that aren't true, and it excludes things that aren't what they seem.

Your second comment is guilty of the very same special pleading you accuse me of. There are arguments for theism with different levels of sophistication, just as there arguments against theism. Nobody is saying that by addressing the common arguments of theism, that he thinks he's addressing all of them. If you insist that all of "Atheism has become an unsophisticated meme", it is you who wants to have your cake and eat it too. Go ahead and attack an atheist's argument. But if you think by doing so you've defeated atheism, you don't understand atheism.

mrhambre said...

It's curious that religious believers have co-opted the language of skepticism, and now act as if they're displaying responsible incredulity toward the dominant narrative of nonbelief.

I've seen the same trick used by conspiracy theorists, who make it sound as if the burden of proof is on anyone who doesn't believe that the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives or that Obama was born in Kenya.

Crude said...

It's curious that religious believers have co-opted the language of skepticism, and now act as if they're displaying responsible incredulity toward the dominant narrative of nonbelief.

It's entirely responsible to be incredulous of a claim someone has no evidence for, nor good argument for. This isn't 'co-opting the language of skepticism'. It's adhering to it properly.

And 'dominant narrative'? Are we counting squirrels?

I've seen the same trick used by conspiracy theorists, who make it sound as if the burden of proof is on anyone who

If you make a claim, you have a burden. The conspiracy theorist has one when making his claims, his opponents have them when making theirs.

If you don't like burdens of proof, don't make claims. This is, in fact, what a lot of Cult of Gnu atheists try to do - they simply don't realize that they have to give up far, far more of their position than they realized they had to in order for it to work.

Crude said...

They fail to understand that we don't have religious leaders,

Richard Dawkins. Sam Harris. Jerry Coyne. PZ Myers.

Now, these aren't 'atheist' religious leaders. They are Cult of Gnu leaders. Don't like the situation? Ditch the cult.

or some kind of prescribed dogma that we have to cling to.

Sure do. Materialism, naturalism, and more. Cult of Gnu atheist is a movement, complete with absolutely required beliefs, etc. And don't even get me started on Atheism+. (How's that going btw? Ha ha ha.)

mrhambre said...

If you don't like burdens of proof, don't make claims.

The fact of the matter is that the very absence of proof can support a claim. Can I say I have "proof" that the passenger pigeon is extinct? Not strictly speaking, no. But the fact that these birds once numbered in the billions and there have been no specimens captured or sighted in a century would lead any objective person to conclude that they don't exist.

In the same way, no one is obliged to present evidence to support the belief that square circles don't exist: a two dimensional object can't be both a square and a circle, so the very absurdity of the notion speaks for itself.

The religious may want to make it seem like they're the skeptical ones, but they're only using the language of prudence and skepticism; they're the ones with the burden of proof, but (like conspiracy theorists) they benefit from shifting the burden to their perceived foes.

Crude said...

hambre,

The fact of the matter is that the very absence of proof can support a claim.

Wonderful. As I said: support your claim. Rely on 'evidence we lack that we should have if it does in fact exist' if you like.

But by making the claim, you have a burden.

In the same way, no one is obliged to present evidence to support the belief that square circles don't exist: a two dimensional object can't be both a square and a circle, so the very absurdity of the notion speaks for itself

Arguing that a given idea is incoherent based on the definitions involved is just one more way to support a claim.

The religious may want to make it seem like they're the skeptical ones, but they're only using the language of prudence and skepticism;

Plenty of them use it, because they have every right to. All they need is to encounter someone who has made a claim. They do this often.

It's not 'shifting the burden' to point out that the person making a claim has a burden. It's acknowledging the obvious.

Finally, atheists are entirely capable of being 'religious'. Just ask Dennett.

mrhambre said...

Arguing that a given idea is incoherent based on the definitions involved is just one more way to support a claim.

Okay. So why isn't the atheist allowed to argue just that when he or she encounters a definition of God like the one in the article: "God is not a being within the natural order."

Sounds like a square circle to me.

Crude said...

mrhambre,

Okay. So why isn't the atheist allowed to argue just that when he or she encounters a definition of God like the one in the article: "God is not a being within the natural order."

Because there's no logical contradiction involved in 'a being outside the natural order'.

Why are you acting like someone who is petrified of having to support your belief? You're making it seem as if, if you don't automatically win by default, you're going to lose the argument. Not exactly encouraging for atheism.

B. Prokop said...

"Sounds like a square circle to me."

Now why is that? Saying that "God is not a being within the natural order" is basically saying that the author of a novel is not a character in his book, or that an artist is not a figure in his painting.

Are novelists and artists now to be regarded as "square circles"?

mrhambre said...

Saying that "God is not a being within the natural order" is basically saying that the author of a novel is not a character in his book, or that an artist is not a figure in his painting.

At least we can agree on what a novelist or an artist is. Can we do the same for the creator of all being? Can any facts be brought to bear on the issue, or is it strictly an intersubjective word game?

im-skeptical said...

crude: proof that the unsophisticated theist doesn't understand what he's arguing against.

B. Prokop said...

"Can we do the same [i.e., agree] for the creator of all being?"

Our agreement is not a prerequisite for His existence.

mrhambre said...

Our agreement is not a prerequisite for His existence.

No, but the article (and blog post) asserted that atheists don't "get" the true definition of God. I'm wondering if that's not because there's nothing to get.

Even the article appears to assert that the definition of God is inextricably linked to the question of "why is there something instead of nothing?" So if I understand it correctly, the fact that things exist at all indicates that God is a coherent concept.

Interesting.

B. Prokop said...

I didn't get the impression that the article claimed that "the definition of God is inextricably linked to the question of why is there something instead of nothing." But I would readily agree that outside of the Creator, there is no coherent explanation for existence. Existence is in indeed one of the "facts [that can] be brought to bear on the issue" for which you asked. (There are many, many others, about which I have posted to this site multiple times in the course of diverse threads. Do I need to re-post them?)

Crude said...

mrhambre,

At least we can agree on what a novelist or an artist is. Can we do the same for the creator of all being?

Sure can. Particular definitions of God may vary - I'm talking here about fundamental concept, not revelation - but in that case all you do is work with the concept on hand.

Can any facts be brought to bear on the issue, or is it strictly an intersubjective word game?

Sure can. Various arguments, evidences, proofs, etc.

No, but the article (and blog post) asserted that atheists don't "get" the true definition of God. I'm wondering if that's not because there's nothing to get.

There's plenty to get. And atheists often think they do 'get' it, because some proceed to offer the very thing I've been calling for - supports of their claim. Dawkins attempted to do this. He was just godawfully (ha) bad at it.

B. Prokop said...

Here is a very partial list of "facts [that can] be brought to bear on the issue":

Existence itself
Existence (and utility) of Reason
Existence of Morality
Existence of Beauty
Existence of Meaning and Purpose
The fact that time had a beginning, and that there is a “now”
Consciousness
Continuity of Identity
Order and regularity within Nature
The fact that the Universe is a rational place (“Natural Law”)

… and specific to Christianity:

The Reliability of the Gospel Narratives
The Narratives themselves (i.e., their “Message”)
The Witness of the Early Church Fathers
The Wisdom of the Doctors of the Church
The efficacy of the Sacraments

This (incomplete) list does not include things that are convincing to me, but that I don't expect to be convincing to others (for instance, listening to Mahler's Fourth Symphony, which all by itself convinces me there is a Loving God who knows me personally).

Papalinton said...

"Common sense is the foundation of science."
No it's not. Evidence is the foundation of science.

But it was Common Sense, written by Thomas Paine that served as the foundation of the American constitution and saw to it that christianity would never be mentioned once in that entire document.

"His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), the all-time best-selling American book that advocated colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–83), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain."[4]" Wiki

"Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity" Wiki on Thomas Paine.

And the game goes on.

Papalinton said...

Crude says: 'Nor do theists 'make up' their answers. They make inferences based on a combination of arguments, evidence and rational consideration. "

Yes they do 'make up' their answers. That's the basis for the study of christian apologetics. It's called interpretation. For me the process is the same as raking over the coals or resifting the midden heap of earlier eisegesis [I-see-jesus]. And no. Theists don't 'infer', they interpret. There is no evidence for a god outside theology and philosophy, both of which function as effortlessly without evidence as they do with. Evidence must necessarily be extra-curricular, must itself be of external provenance to operate as a corroborative, substantiating source. The christian mytheme does not have that luxury. Quoting the text, or a church father, or Aquinas, or the Pope does not make it evidence, only interpretation. Revelation is not evidence. Period.

Yes, it is argument. Yes, there is rational consideration but it is perceived rather than actual. No, there is no evidence. Period.

Apologetics is littered with the premise error when one or more premises is an unwarranted assumption, eg the existence of a god or more egregiously a particular god. to the exclusion of all other gods. The premise may or may not be true, but it has not been, and has never been established sufficiently to serve as a premise for an argument. One of the most critical steps in examining an argument is Identifying all the assumptions upon which an argument is dependent. Christian apologetics does not do that. Ever so more frequently than is warranted, different conclusions are arrived at because of differing assumptions. And we witness this most excellently with the argument of a classical impersonal vs. theistic personalist flavour of perceived god. And as all apologists do, they select assumptions that best fit the conclusion they prefer. [I am indebted to Steven Novella here]

"In fact, psychological experiments show that most people start with conclusions they desire, then reverse engineer arguments to support them – a process called rationalization." This is really what in happening when crude envisages 'rational consideration'.

It simply stinks of apologetical hypocrisy and corrupted philosophy.

Crude said...

Yes they do 'make up' their answers.

As always, I begin the thread's ritual ignoring of Papalinton with the presentation of the link showing Linton plagiarizing and lying about both his knowledge and his words, for the purposes of feigning expertise on a subject he knows nothing. Gentlemen, you know what to do: ignore him, and talk with the better atheists and theists around.

To cap things off this time, a quote from Thomas Paine:

As several of my colleagues and others of my fellow-citizens of France have given me the example of making their voluntary and individual profession of faith, I also will make mine; and I do this with all that sincerity and frankness with which the mind of man communicates with itself.

I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.


A noteworthy theist, whatever his dissatisfactions with particular religions.

Cale B.T. said...

Still waiting for your reply on my challenge, papalinton:

http://calebtblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/papalintons-ethical-challenge.html

im-skeptical said...

"A noteworthy theist, whatever his dissatisfactions with particular religions."

A deist. A noteworthy debunker of Christianity. Author of "The Age of Reason", the greatest anti-Christian work ever written as of his lifetime.

mrhambre said...

outside of the Creator, there is no coherent explanation for existence.

If you say so.

It hasn't gone unnoticed that no one has bothered to put forth a coherent definition for God or describe how it "explains" existence. The article in the OP didn't talk about whether God exists or not, it only alleged that atheists can't accurately define the concept of God.

Having read Tillich, I understand full well that God isn't a verifiable phenomenon itself, but rather a symbol for what believers understand to be the agency and intent behind apparently random phenomena. And can we dispute that a symbol exists?

Crude said...

A deist.

A theist who believed in the afterlife.

Sorry, Skep. You couldn't have Sagan. But Paine? He belongs to the theists, intellectually.

Don't worry, at least you have Dawkins, who is intellectually every bit as capable of advancing rational argumanahahaha.

Couldn't write that one seriously. ;)

im-skeptical said...

“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.”

- Thomas Paine

Crude said...

Yep. He did not like Christianity.

Pity that doesn't make him anything but a theist who believed in an afterlife, eh?

Crude said...

And just to quote Mr. Paine a bit more:

As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism — a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.

...


The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator Himself, they stop short and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter and jump over all the rest by saying that matter is eternal.

...

The atheist who affects to reason, and the fanatic who rejects reason, plunge themselves alike into inextricable difficulties. The one perverts the sublime and enlightening study of natural philosophy into a deformity of absurdities by not reasoning to the end. The other loses himself in the obscurity of metaphysical theories, and dishonours the Creator, by treating the study of his works with contempt. The one is a half-rational of whom there is some hope, the other a visionary to whom we must be charitable.

Papalinton said...

Yep. He might not have liked atheism, being a deist and all. But he certainly made himself very clear on christianity being a bit of a dog's breakfast. Ergo, no christianity in the constitution. Ergo, no christianity in the Bill of Rights.

Now that is what I call practical Enlightenment.

mrhambre said...

Here is a very partial list of "facts [that can] be brought to bear on the issue":

Order and regularity within Nature
The fact that the Universe is a rational place (“Natural Law”)


The observed regularity and order of Nature is prima facie evidence that reality has a divine origin? Complex phenomena are inexplicable in terms of inanimate processes?

This really is conspiracy-theorist thinking.

Walter said...

But Paine? He belongs to the theists, intellectually.

Agreed. Deism in that time period was something of an umbrella term for people who came to a belief in God through natural theology sans revelation -- the only article of their faith was belief in one God. But deists differed on the exact nature of God and the level of concern that the one God might show towards his creation. The Deism of England and many of the Founding Fathers was actually closer to what was known as Theistic Rationalism: TRs had a very Judeo-Christian conception of God and the afterlife.

mrhambre said...

Deism in that time period was something of an umbrella term for people who came to a belief in God through natural theology sans revelation

Or people who didn't necessarily believe in God at all, but who were understandably reluctant to be branded as "atheists" at a time when nonbelief was still regarded by the common man as freakish and evil.

So glad that's all changed for the better, huh?

im-skeptical said...

Deists were naturalists, born of the age of scientific enlightenment, in a time when nobody dared to call themselves atheists. They didn't believe in miracles, or any kind of godly intervention in the world.

Crude said...

Or people who didn't necessarily believe in God at all, but who were understandably reluctant to be branded as "atheists" at a time when nonbelief was still regarded by the common man as freakish and evil.

So we've now reached the point in the conversation where, having established that Thomas Paine believed in God and an afterlife, it starts to become implied that he really didn't, it was all a lie. Because deists were more highly regarded than Christians.

As usual: behold, the logic and evidence and science on display.

mrhambre said...

Crude,

Not that I'd ever criticize your reading skills, but my statement said nothing about Paine. If anyone, I was thinking of Washington, who was never a particularly devout believer or said anything more religious than vague references to "Providence." I doubt he would have wanted to forfeit his hard-won position and respect by being accused of "atheism," but it's clear his deism was a long way off from active religious belief.

Papalinton said...

"So we've now reached the point in the conversation where, having established that Thomas Paine believed in God and an afterlife, it starts to become implied that he really didn't, it was all a lie. Because deists were more highly regarded than Christians.
As usual: behold, the logic and evidence and science on display."


Just a classic crude ploy to scotch the debate now that the debate is turning toward an unintended consequence of illustrating the nonsense of Christian woo at a time when the Christian belief was at it's totalitarian pristine when most enlightenment people sought the safe deist position while simultaneously and steadfastly rejecting outright the Christian mytheme. Today, all people have done is demonstrate the next logical and reasoned step on the road away from supernatural superstition, that it is OK to be atheist. And the end of the world will not occur as a result of that perfectly logical, reasoned and evidenced position. That is the stage at which contemporary society finds itself, the transition from blind faith to reasoned skepticism.

Exciting times really.

Crude said...

mrhambre,

Not that I'd ever criticize your reading skills, but my statement said nothing about Paine.

So you didn't mean Paine - the actual guy we were talking about - but Washington, who wasn't brought up at all? Alright, that's possible. But it just makes matters worse for you.

If anyone, I was thinking of Washington, who was never a particularly devout believer or said anything more religious than vague references to "Providence." I doubt he would have wanted to forfeit his hard-won position and respect by being accused of "atheism," but it's clear his deism was a long way off from active religious belief.

It's a mere wiki link, but Washington's religious practice was far more active than you seem to think, similar to Paine's.

Dan Gillson said...

Skep,

i. Wrong. Observation is foundational for science, logic is not. Logic's rules are a priori, meaning that they are independent of experience. Science isn't independent of experience. Science deals first with what's observable, which takes for granted that there is such a thing as a sensus communis, then it postulates that the behavior of the observable thing is explained in terms of an imperceptible entity, e.g., the phenomenon of thinking is explained in term of neurophysiology. (I'm anticipating a bogus complaint from you on the immediately previous point.) The postulation that observables are governed by imperceptibles is a posteriori, which makes science an empirical, i.e., experiential, discipline. Logic is not empirical, it is rational.

tl;dr: You're wrong because logic is a priori, science is a posteriori.

ii. Wrong again. You clearly don't know what special pleading is, or how it applies to your previous argument. You were implying that Christians don't have the same right to criticize atheistic beliefs as they're commonly understood. Millions of people (maybe not millions, I don't know) actually believe in a self-parodical version of atheism. By the very fact that something is a joke, it deserves ridicule qua joke.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

"i. Wrong. Observation is foundational for science, logic is not"

How ridiculous.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/81071668/1-So-far-as-we-know_-the-first

http://www.homeoint.org/hompath/articles/1331.html

"ii. Wrong again. You clearly don't know what special pleading is, or how it applies to your previous argument. You were implying that Christians don't have the same right to criticize atheistic beliefs as they're commonly understood"

I didn't say or imply any such thing. I was simply addressing the the complaint that they so often make. It is they who don't seem to believe that atheists should argue against a common understanding of god.

Dan Gillson said...

What's ridiculous is that you thought your links proved anything. (The second link is about homeopathy, by the way. Homeopathy isn't science, is it?)

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

"Homeopathy isn't science, is it?"

oops. No. But the paper is still correct about the logical foundations of science.

Only a philosopher in his intellectual cloister would arrogate to himself the field of logic. If you believe that science isn't based on logic, then you really don't know science. Inductive and deductive reasoning are important parts of scientific method.

Dan Gillson said...

Why is it correct, skep? I read it and I don't think it refutes my argument at all. It just restates your point.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

You are correct that science is not independent of observation, But you are wrong that it doesn't have a strong logical foundation. Science uses inductive reasoning to formulate hypotheses and scientific laws of nature. Science uses deductive reasoning in the design of experiments to test those hypotheses, which involves, among other things, making predictions of how things will behave. Science is the biggest driver of the development of mathematics, which is arguably the purest form of logical reasoning.

Your statement "it postulates that the behavior of the observable thing is explained in terms of an imperceptible entity" doesn't make sense. It's equivalent to saying "science explains the motion of matter in terms of an imperceptible entity called physics". Whatever "imperceptible entity" you are referring to, it sounds more like a religious explanation than a scientific one. Science explains the behavior of things in terms of observable, measurable entities.

Dan Gillson said...

Having a logical foundation, which you are arguing now, is different than having logic as a foundation, which you were arguing previously. You are proving my earlier point that science uses logic as a tool, which is again different than having logic as a foundation. Mathematics and computer science have logic as a foundation; they form systems according to a priori rules. Science does not; it models systems a posteriori. Your claim that science is the biggest driver fr mathematics is specious. Certainly technological advances in computing have helped advance mathematics, but math progresses independently of science.

im-skeptical said...

"Certainly technological advances in computing have helped advance mathematics, but math progresses independently of science."

Bullshit. Newton's calculus was developed specifically to describe his physics. As were numerous other branches of mathematics. Nothing specious about it. It's true.

Dan Gillson said...

Does that somehow mean that mathematics doesn't have its own research program? Does one instance somehow support your claim that science is the biggest driver of mathematics?

Karl Grant said...

Bullshit. Newton's calculus was developed specifically to describe his physics. As were numerous other branches of mathematics. Nothing specious about it. It's true.

E. O. Wilson denies this:

Well, I have a professional secret to share: Many of the most successful scientists in the world today are mathematically no more than semiliterate.

Fortunately, exceptional mathematical fluency is required in only a few disciplines, such as particle physics, astrophysics and information theory. Far more important throughout the rest of science is the ability to form concepts, during which the researcher conjures images and processes by intuition.

Pioneers in science only rarely make discoveries by extracting ideas from pure mathematics. Most of the stereotypical photographs of scientists studying rows of equations on a blackboard are instructors explaining discoveries already made. Real progress comes in the field writing notes, at the office amid a litter of doodled paper, in the hallway struggling to explain something to a friend, or eating lunch alone. Eureka moments require hard work. And focus.

Newton invented calculus in order to give substance to his imagination. Darwin had little or no mathematical ability, but with the masses of information he had accumulated, he was able to conceive a process to which mathematics was later applied.


Now odds of this going in one ear and out the other are about 99%.

im-skeptical said...

"Fortunately, exceptional mathematical fluency is required in only a few disciplines, such as particle physics, astrophysics and information theory."

With all die respect to E O Wilson, he didn't know what he was talking about. He obviously never studied engineering or any of the many sciences more oriented toward physics. The fact is the development of mathematics has proceeded largely hand-in-hand with the development of science (not to say that there hasn't been independent development of mathematics). One of the greatest mathematicians ever, Carl Friedrich Gauss, was a scientist.

Now odds of this going in one ear and out the other are about 99.999999%.

http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/science/mathematics-development-mathematics.html

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"The fact is the development of mathematics has proceeded largely hand-in-hand with the development of science (not to say that there hasn't been independent development of mathematics)."

False.

Karl Grant said...

He obviously never studied engineering or any of the many sciences more oriented toward physics.

One, engineering is not science. Two, if you actually read his article you would have noticed this paragraph:

Fortunately, exceptional mathematical fluency is required in only a few disciplines, such as particle physics, astrophysics and information theory. Far more important throughout the rest of science is the ability to form concepts, during which the researcher conjures images and processes by intuition.

But, of course, you didn't read it.

the fact is the development of mathematics has proceeded largely hand-in-hand with the development of science (not to say that there hasn't been independent development of mathematics).

I ain't gonna say much here because I got a feeling Dan and grod are about to school you.

One of the greatest mathematicians ever, Carl Friedrich Gauss, was a scientist.

So what? As another scientist points out here:

In Wilson’s own field for instance, you can use all the math you like to calculate rising and ebbing populations of prey and predator, but true insight into the system can only come from broader thinking that utilizes the principles of evolution. In fact biology can claim many scientists like John Maynard Smith, J. B. S. Haldane and W. D. Hamilton who were excellent mathematicians, but the fact remains that these men’s great contributions came from their understanding of the biological systems under consideration rather than the mathematics itself.

And this is too cute:

Now odds of this going in one ear and out the other are about 99.999999%.

What are you? Ten years old? I am 99% sure. You: Well, I am 99.99999999999999999% sure and my Daddy can beat up your daddy!

im-skeptical said...

And I was right.

By the way, you might want to try reading what I said last time, Karl.

im-skeptical said...

"I got a feeling Dan and grod are about to school you."

Yeah, grod schooled me good. He denied the connection between science and mathematics. What was his thesis again?

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Yeah, grod schooled me good. He denied the connection between science and mathematics. What was his thesis again?"

Where did I deny "the connection between science and mathematics"?

Karl Grant said...

And I was right.

By the way, you might want to try reading what I said last time, Karl.


I did read what you said, I replied to it. Now we see you don't have a real rebuttal.

Yeah, grod schooled me good. He denied the connection between science and mathematics. What was his thesis again?

I am starting to think you have a learning disability because your reading comprehension skills suck. Saying the statement The fact is the development of mathematics has proceeded largely hand-in-hand with the development of science is false is not even remotely close to denying there is a connection between science and mathematics. One is concerned with a historical claim, the other is concerned with the relational between two intellectual fields.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Paul Lutus is his name.

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

Mathematics is the language of science. This is an outstanding article on the relationship between science and mathematics. Written by former NASA scientist who designed electronic components for the Space Shuttle and renowned computer programmer, Paul Lutus. Lucid and ever so easily readable he introduces some of the quirks and contradictions in mathematics and some of the common misconceptions of the relationship between science and math. And he summarizes:

"Because nature is mathematical, any science that intends to describe nature is completely dependent on mathematics. It is impossible to overemphasize this point, and it is why Carl Friedrich Gauss called mathematics "the queen of the sciences."
I decided to write this article after debating psychologists about the low scientific standing of their field. During these conversations it became apparent that many psychologists don't understand or have any use for mathematics and may not even recognize it as science. In a field like psychology, one that believes itself to be scientific, this level of ignorance represents a profound and crippling disconnect, and for individual psychologists to try to explain why mathematics isn't scientific can only reveal an astonishing degree of narcissism and arrogance."

B. Prokop said...

Despite the hilariously faux so-called "conflict between Faith and Science" that is often touted on this website and elsewhere, there is certainly no such conflict for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra! I went to last night's concert (I have season tickets - my one claim to culture) and the program was Holst's Planets suite. Before the music started, we were treated to a short talk by Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute. Dr. Livio was introduced by Marin Alsop (the BSO conductor) as "Chairman of the BSO Science Advisory Panel". Whooda thunk it? An orchestra with a Science Advisory Panel!

No conflict between the Arts and Science here!!!

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Regarding the conflict between faith and science ...

What do you do when your belief is contradicted by evidence? Faith requires that your belief takes precedence, so you tend to discount the evidence. Science requires that that the evidence take precedence, so you discount (or change) your belief.


B. Prokop said...

"What do you do when your belief is contradicted by evidence?"

When has that ever happened? (asked in deadly seriousness) I in all honesty cannot think of a single instance.

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

"No conflict between the Arts and Science here!!!"

Spot on. Definitely no conflict between the Arts and Science.
Conflict between Religion and Science? Intractable. When both make physical claims it is religion that must concede, each and every time, without exception. Contrast the religious claims of fact(?) that dead putrescine corpses can revivify and walk among us as if in perfect physical health with all their mental faculties, with that of science, which infers from the billions of observable antecedent cases that the likelihood of cadavers revivifying is probabilistically zero. To imagine the probability, even of just one, is an unmistakable and incontrovertible instance of unscientific, illogical, and unreasoned special pleading.

Any apologetical claim to a one-off, once in a time-span immemorial instance where a particular corpse revivified and levitated into the blue beyond is a credulous leap over the probabilities. Because such an outrageous and unsubstantiated claim would give rise to a massive lie to every other account in the christian mytheme that corpses were revivified, at least nine of which I recall:

1 Kings 17:17-24 (KJV)- Elijah resurrected a widow's son.
2 Kings 4:32-37-Resurrection of a young boy.
2 Kings 13:20, 21- a man resurrected.
Acts 9:36-42- Peter resurrected Tabitha, also called Dorcas, of the city of Joppa.
Acts 20:7-12- Paul brought back to life Eutychus who died when he fell from an upper-level window.
Mark 5:21-43- Jesus resurrected Jairus' daughter .
Luke 7:11-17- Jesus resurrected the son of a widow in the city of Nain.
John 11:1-44)- Jesus resurrected Lazarus.
And the big cheese himself, notwithstanding [pardon the pun]

Not to mention Matthew 27:52-53 (KJV)
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

I wonder what family members reactions were when these walking dead met up with their loved ones?

Special pleading? You betcha! Conflict between science and religious faith? You betcha!

B. Prokop said...

"What do you do when your belief is contradicted by evidence?"

Skep, This is important. I'd really like to hear from you on what you think is an example of this happening. I'm being as honest as I can in stating that I cannot come up with a single instance of any evidence contradicting my Faith, whilst I can easily come up with countless examples that confirms my Faith. Please believe me, this is not "blustering" or stubbornness. I mean what I say. I've spent a lifetime of looking at Facts on the Ground, and they all point to the Truth of the Gospel.

So what do you consider to be evidence that contradicts it? And I mean evidence - not some argument based on premises that we might not share (such as the possibility or impossibility of miracles), but actual evidence.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Let's start with the human mind. All the evidence shows that it is the product of naturally evolved organic materials that constitute an organ 9the brain), whose function is to make animals aware of their surroundings and behave in a manner that is conducive to their survival. Experiments have shown that the physical brain is what produces mental activity, and when the physical brain is impaired, so is the mind. Yet you insist that a conscious mind cannot come from matter at all, contrary to the observed evidence. You believe (by your faith) that this mental function must come from a supernatural source - despite all the evidence.

B. Prokop said...

"behave in a manner that is conducive to their survival"

This has nothing whatsoever to do with consciousness. A machine can respond in a "manner that is conducive to [its] survival", but that in no way makes it self aware, i.e., conscious.

"Experiments have shown that the physical brain is what produces mental activity, and when the physical brain is impaired, so is the mind."

So? This is still not evidence of anything. My eye is so constructed as to react to light, but by being so designed is in no way proof of the non-existence of light. Think, Man!

"despite all the evidence"

That's what you regard as evidence?!?!? As the traffic cop says, "Move along, folks. Nothing to see here!"

I'm genuinely disappointed here. I was hoping for there to be something interesting in your response - something that could be discussed... but this??? Sorry, but "there's no there there."

I am forced to conclude that your original question ("What do you do when your belief is contradicted by evidence?") was either never meant to be taken seriously, or else is pure projection.

Papalinton said...

"So? This is still not evidence of anything. My eye is so constructed as to react to light, but by being so designed is in no way proof of the non-existence of light. Think, Man!"

Oh dear. You can smell the WLC defense all the way Downunder with this one. '..no way proof of the non-existence of light'. Sheesh! This statement is filled with the redolence of the big Bill himself:

"…the way we know Christianity to be true is by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit. Now what do I mean by that? I mean that the experience of the Holy Spirit is… unmistakable… for him who has it; …that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit…1
…it is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity’s truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role… The magisterial use of reason occurs when reason stands over and above the gospel… and judges it on the basis of argument and evidence. The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel. In light of the Spirit’s witness, only the ministerial use of reason is legitimate. Philosophy is rightly the handmaid of theology. Reason is a tool to help us better understand and defend our faith…2
[The inner witness of the Spirit] trumps all other evidence.3"


Nothing trumps the inner witness of the holy ghost. Right Bob?

Sheesh! Give it a break Bob.

im-skeptical said...

"This has nothing whatsoever to do with consciousness."

Funny, you didn't quote the earlier part of the sentence that said "make animals aware of their surroundings". Because that's at the core of consciousness. It is sentience, awareness, and consciousness.

"My eye is so constructed as to react to light, but by being so designed is in no way proof of the non-existence of light."

Your eye senses light. Your brain perceives the object that is illuminated by processing information. Cognitive science is fascinating. Try reading about it.

B. Prokop said...

"Funny, you didn't quote the earlier part of the sentence"

What? I now have to quote your entire postings each time I reference them? OK, here goes:

"Let's start with the human mind. All the evidence shows that it is the product of naturally evolved organic materials that constitute an organ 9the brain), whose function is to make animals aware of their surroundings and behave in a manner that is conducive to their survival. Experiments have shown that the physical brain is what produces mental activity, and when the physical brain is impaired, so is the mind. Yet you insist that a conscious mind cannot come from matter at all, contrary to the observed evidence. You believe (by your faith) that this mental function must come from a supernatural source - despite all the evidence."

Now your memory probably has better things to keep in mind than what I post at various times on this website, but I am on record as saying that I suspect that all life (to include plant life), right down to bacteria, is conscious. Seems you and I agree on this.

But your last sentence comes out of nowhere. You have yet to bring forth even the slightest bit of "all [this supposed] evidence". This is past getting tiring. If you can't get beyond spouting "EVIDENCE" without actually showing any, you're just wasting my time (and that of anyone silently following this one-sided" discussion").

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

You're sounding more and more like crude. I mentioned your selective quoting because you claimed it had nothing to do with consciousness, when the part of the sentence you left out did have very much to do with consciousness, as I explained.

So you believe that all living things have consciousness? Where does it come from? Can't be the brain (according to you) because plants and bacteria don't have brains. So maybe your idea of what consciousness is doesn't match what most of us think of, or maybe you think it's just something that is given to us by our supernatural creator being. But one thing is sure: you're the one who lacks evidence. You keep demanding that I produce evidence for what is well known in the scientific community. I showed you a site where you could read all the articles you like about cognitive science (in the other thread), and get some idea of what evidence there is for the scientific-materialistic view. All you have is fantastic claims that are not backed by any observation or any science that I'm aware of. Bacteria are conscious? Really?

B. Prokop said...

Maybe THIS will help. Or even THIS.

im-skeptical said...

Responding to stimulus is not what most of us think of as consciousness. Even non-living things respond in some way to stimulus. I'm not sure what the point is that you're making, but a bacterium is not aware of its surroundings. It simply responds when something happens to it. This is, of course, the beginning of a long evolutionary process that leads eventually to sentience, and rationality. But I wouldn't ascribe those things to ant creature that lacks a nervous system.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"I'm genuinely disappointed here. I was hoping for there to be something interesting in your response - something that could be discussed... but this??? Sorry, but "there's no there there.""

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

Can't you recognize satire when you see it? I was making (gentle) fun of Frances's use of a movie to argue her point, by going one better and using cartoons.

Sheeesh! Way to live up to the "humorless atheist" stereotype.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Satire of what? You were the one who complained about being able to have a reasoned discussion. But at every turn, it is you who are unwilling to participate in any kind of serious manner. OK. I know now that I can't expect you to back up your claims with evidence or reason. You have many ways of avoiding it, and yet you still make such demands of others, while continuing to make your own unjustified claims.

B. Prokop said...

Damn, I didn't realize that my second link (in my last posting)didn't stay pointed to the same date. You have to see the comic from Saturday, November 9th, for my linking to it to make sense.