Thursday, January 30, 2014

Miracles and Presidential Pardons

You can't have miracles unless you have an order of nature for them to stand out from. A Presidential pardon is only possible because there is a stable system of laws that require punishments for certain crimes, yet our system of laws allows the President to alter the penalty and release someone from those penalties. There is no inconsistency in a system of laws that permits Presidential discretionary pardons.

37 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Exactly Vic! That's one of the reasons I do not believe ancient testimony about miracles. It's precisely because they had no understanding that there were natural laws. Without that understanding everything was a miracle. From the rising of the sun to a bumper harvest to the birth of a baby boy it was all miraculous. Since miracles happened everywhere they were seen everywhere and it was quite literally impossible to properly evaluate miracle claims. They were a dime a dozen.

With the advent of scientific understanding that would allow for miracles we've learned how to test miracle claims based on natural law. It raises the bar for what we can accept. So while I have no reason to believe ancient testimony now I must judge them from the standard of natural law. I no longer can believe the miracles in the ancient world twice-over.

Ilíon said...

^ Such a lying fool.

im-skeptical said...

The analogy between pardons and miracles is quite a stretch.

If we humans make the law, we are free to bend it or carve out exceptions whenever we choose. If God makes the law, he too is free to make exceptions. But that's not what we see. Ever. Period.

There has been discussion about miracles that you can see if only you are willing to open your eyes and see, or the testimony of some guy selling a book. But show me a dead body getting up and walking. Show me any of those things that are claimed in the bible. Why can't we ever see real miracles in this day and age? Sadly, science has gotten in the way, as JWL has noted.

Patrick said...

If it was really true that people in Antiquity regarded everything as miraculous, there wouldn’t have been words for miraculous events or phenomena, such as the Latin word “miraculum”, as such words only make sense if there are events or phenomena that are not regarded as miraculous.

Crude said...

It's precisely because they had no understanding that there were natural laws. Without that understanding everything was a miracle.

So you'd have to regard the fact that they managed to consistently pick out things that we now regard as miracles even now (the virgin birth, the resurrection) as miraculous.

But don't worry, John, you have an 'out' for your claim: you're simply dead wrong about history and miracles. Which is why people knew the difference between a miraculous claim and the bog-standard day to day operations.

I guess your argument is shown to be inane twice-over. ;)

John W. Loftus said...

llion, the way you write makes you dismiss everything I say because I am an outsider, "the other." When you depersonalize people it allows you to do violence to them. You no longer have to be empathetic to them. Empathy, caring, the ability to feel someone else's pain is the main emotion that keeps us from being violent toward "the other" and the reason why militant Muslims can kill infidels with no guilt. You are almost there. You just don't have the political power to do so. You would sing praises to Jesus while lighting the fires that burnt me alive. If you knew me, worked with me, or talked with me over dinner this would change.

In any case, irrespective of the above, you will not entertain anything I say. You have the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I am always and forever wrong. Even though I believed like you (but never shared your attitudes) I have nothing you can learn from. I don't know jack even though I could defend Christianity better than you ever could.

But alas I'm speaking to a brick wall. Shame, really.

Crude said...

llion, the way you write makes you dismiss everything I say because I am an outsider, "the other." When you depersonalize people it allows you to do violence to them.

Such as when you say that Christians are all dumb, or that they are all infected with a 'mind virus' and must be 'cured'? You'd condemn language like that, correct?

If you knew me, worked with me, or talked with me over dinner this would change.

Have you ever considered the possibility that maybe you're actually a liar, John? Remember that time you launched a fake blog attacking someone you were disagreeing with, and acted as if that wasn't you?

I don't know jack even though I could defend Christianity better than you ever could.

John, c'mon. You can't even defend atheism with alacrity. Why in the world would anyone believe you could defend Christianity?

You just told everyone that no one in the ancient world could tell a miracle apart from the natural operation of the world - something flatly contradicted by the available historical data, even the Bible itself. Swing and a miss. You've gone on record endorsing God of the Gaps arguments.

Let's face facts: you are not particularly good at this. You're, at best, rather mediocre as a thinker. You don't even have all that much tenacity anymore - hence your flight from Freethought blogs ('I'm not making enough money!') and your own attempted blog startup.

Get a job at Denny's. It's more your speed.

Crude said...

To put a fine point on what I mean about Loftus, here's this blast from the past:

It’s not just the utter buffoons I’m talking about, which are many, but all of them. Christians are illogical and delusional. This I know, after spending years in my own delusion and after years of dealing with them since my deconversion. How can they be so deluded, I ask myself? How can they be so dumb?

Let me guess, John: you now denounce your past words like that, realizing that you are treating religious people as 'outsiders', the 'other' - depersonalizing them? You realized that, with the attitude you had (and which guys like Boghossian and Dawkins exemplify) you would be smiling happily while watching Christians be put to death by militant atheists, as they were in Stalinist Russia, Mao's China, and still are in areas where State Atheism (like North Korea) is prevalent?

Perhaps you had dinner with some Christians at some point and realized they were smarter than you were willing to admit.

BenYachov said...

At the end of the day Loftus is just a fundamentalist evangelical without god belief.

Dude forget about ditching "god" you should ditch your evangelical mentality and return to the Catholic Church of your birth.

Heck with a Catholic & or Thomist mentality you would make a heck of a better Atheist then the Mishigoss you are spewing these days.

You need to stop dicking around John.

Seriously dude.

Ilíon said...

BenYachov vs Jown W. Loftus -- this is one of those cases where one prays for an asteroid.

John W. Loftus said...

I show respect to people who deserve respect. If I were Vic I would ban Crude and llion. They send away people who want an honest discussion. Since I can't tolerate such disrespectful mean-spirited comments I don't come here much. Maybe that's what Vic wants. But over at my blog I'll put my commenters against Vic's any day anytime. Not that there aren't some dicks on my side there. It's just that over-all you will get a decent respectful debate. That's because I ban people who do the same thing you guys do, even on my side. In other words, there is no parity between my commenters and you, even if you can pull up some comments that are just like yours.

But once, again, I'm talking to a couple of brick walls.

BenYachov said...

Passive Aggressive Alert!

Loftus if you wanted an honest discussion you'd be posting over at Feser's blog instead of swooping in with your little drive by you did that time then turning tail to run when Feser politely challenged you.

Let's not forget you echoing the little smear job done by Brian Leiter.

Such a drama queen.

Patrick said...

People in Antiquity didn’t know the Law of Gravity. But I’m quite sure that they didn’t shout “A Miracle has happened!” whenever an object fell on the ground. That people in ancient Israel were able to distinguish between natural and supernatural events can be seen from 1 Samuel 6,8-9: “Take the ark of the LORD and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, towards Beth Shemesh, then the LORD has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we shall know that it was not his hand that struck us and that it happened to us by chance.” (NIV)

Crude said...

I show respect to people who deserve respect.

Let me repeat: "It’s not just the utter buffoons I’m talking about, which are many, but all of them. Christians are illogical and delusional. This I know, after spending years in my own delusion and after years of dealing with them since my deconversion. How can they be so deluded, I ask myself? How can they be so dumb?"

Funny how that works, John. You say you show respect to people who deserve respect - but 'people who deserve respect' and 'Christians' has no overlap. Unless you want something out of them temporarily, like a book endorsement or review.

And what standards you have for the men you mingle with. Boghossian tells everyone that religious believers are 'infected' with a 'mind virus' that should be placed on the DSM-V? Say something like that - echoing state atheist practices at their absolute worst - and what will John Loftus do?

He'll endorse your book and hope he can ride your coattails.

You're a hypocrite, John. You plea for "respect", but you show none for people who disagree with you, unless you think you can get something out of them. You endorse belittling and mockery as means of changing people's minds - but when you experience some well-deserved mockery, you cry a river. You want to reserve the right to call all Christians dumb and put on your hate-show on your sad little blog, but when someone points out what a mediocrity you are, that's a bannable offense. And when you think you can get away with it, you try to lie - like the fake blog incident.

Wait, wait, let me guess. You're only honest with people who deserve it. ;)

That's because I ban people who do the same thing you guys do, even on my side. In other words, there is no parity between my commenters and you, even if you can pull up some comments that are just like yours.

I love that bit at the end. 'I ban people who do the same thing you guys do! Uh, but if you pull up examples of people who act rude and I haven't banned them... that doesn't count!'

I treat plenty of atheists with respect, John. I do not treat you with respect, because you are a known dishonest figure who blatantly treats Christians with disrespect and mockery when you think you can get away with it. But, since you know you're a mediocrity, you know you often -can't- get away with it. In those cases, you demand they be banned.

Not all atheists are like you, John. That is to their credit.

oozzielionel said...

It may be why Victor posted this thought, but this is one reason John's chaos universe would be less effective that our ordered universe in producing faith in God. Miracles would not be possible because miracles would be the rule, not the exception.

The real problem that skeptics have with miracles is not the possibility that they happen but the complaint that they do not happen to everyone and on command. When miracles are infrequent and selective,those who do not witness them personally must depend on the testimony of others. The veracity of the testimony of the witnesses then comes into play. The result is the battleground is focused then on the testimonial documents.

Papalinton said...

oozielionel
Give me your take on this MIRACLE witnessed not only by the original six medically pronounced-sane people and many others that have witnessed this Maryan apparition.

Just like Lourdes, an officially sanctioned miracle, thousands if not hundreds of thousands at or who have visited Medjugorge have experienced the miracle of the apparition, many orders of magnitude far in excess of the 12 that apparently saw Jesus.

What is so interesting about the millions upon millions that have visited Lourdes in hopes of a miracle only 67 have been officially declared by the Catholic hierarchy as 'genuine' miracles. And it is equally interesting because that number seems even less than the background statistical distribution for spontaneous remissions in the general population that one would expect. So it seems even here your God is reluctant to overplay his hand for fear of being discredited and criticized as too much of a smart-ass omnipotent can-do.

When you really drill down deep, anyone, everyone has to come to the conclusion that a belief in miracles is just intemperate self-gratification, an exercise in indulgent religious pietism for reasons that other than those bounded by fact, proof or evidence as they are usually understood. A religious understanding is not understanding at all. It's a punt right over the probabilities.

oozzielionel said...

The veracity of the testimony is important. This is the arena of the evidence and/or proof to determine whether whether the report can be trusted as fact. I am happy that I am not in the position of Roman Catholic Bishop to rule on such matters. Not all visions are to be trusted. In my estimation, the interpretation of this "revelation" is inconsistent with the Revelation that I trust.

Crude said...

Cult of Gnu atheists can't even agree with themselves over what would or wouldn't constitute evidence for God, what could or couldn't be accepted as a miracle were it to be witnessed. John himself is all over the map, at first arguing that if God existed that there would be gaps all over the place, then shifting to the claim that we'd need an understanding of nature to even decide whether a given even was in fact an act of God, etc.

Here's a fun question: Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers disagree about what would or wouldn't constitute evidence for God, what could or couldn't be counted (even if provisionally) as a miracle if it were to occur. Why don't they turn to science to resolve the difference between themselves?

Or... is science incapable of settling this question? ;)

im-skeptical said...

"People in Antiquity didn’t know the Law of Gravity. But I’m quite sure that they didn’t shout “A Miracle has happened!” whenever an object fell on the ground."

You misinterpret John. They saw miracles in all kinds of things, but that doesn't mean they saw miracles in literally everything. Furthermore, because of their lack of scientific knowledge, they were gullible about stories of miracles. If someone told them there was a man who healed the sick, many of them believed it without question.

---

"The real problem that skeptics have with miracles is not the possibility that they happen but the complaint that they do not happen to everyone and on command."

Wrong. The problem skeptics have with miracle is that that do not happen at all. Ever. Period.

---

"Cult of Gnu atheists can't even agree with themselves over what would or wouldn't constitute evidence for God"

They are in far greater agreement than the liar would have you believe, and certainly greater than theists, who can't agree on what God is, what his attributes are, what constitutes objective morality, whether mankind was created "as is", etc, etc, etc, etc. Atheists agree that this imaginary being doesn't exist, nor do these so-called miracles. If there is any disagreement, it is only what this hypothetical world in which gods and miracles exist might look like.

Papalinton said...

Crude
I know it is surprising to you and Christian fundamentalist sycophants from whom you draw the analog of Dutch courage, Boghossian's work is another small contributive and yet fundamentally important element pinpointing the intellectual flaws and scholarly foibles of religious belief as a universal paradigm for research, for gaining knowledge and understanding of the universe, the world, the environment and about us.

You must come to realize that God is not all that exists. God is all that does not exist. Once this bar has been cleared much of your brain's capacity is wondrously released for genuine purposive thinking and storage of information and experiences that you would never have imagined possible. Introspection becomes fully meaningful as a means of monitoring, controlling and managing your self, your thoughts, your emotions, your well-being. No more reliance on the invisible support of supernatural superstition is needed or wanted.

So many young people as never before are seeing the 'light' [forgive the pun] and are engaging a non-interventionist, non-participatory form of belief in the new Moralistic Therapeutic Deism [MTD], a post-modern half-way-house paradigm that has severed its ties with the ancient arts of Christian 'rain-dancing' and mystical cannibalistic rituals of the eucharist and dead and rising corpses.

It will indeed be a miracle of propaganda and promotional advertising if Christianity as it is known today is to survive in its present form into the near future. It seems whatever the apparent logic, reason, evidence, proofs and facts that Apologists trundle out, none of it is sticking. Even Feser mewls like a scalded cat when reminded of 'mainstream philosophy' driving over the speed bump of Classical Scholasticism.

Your 'fighting the good fight' reminds me so much of Don Quixote, the main character in Cervantes' wonderful novel Don Quixote fully titled: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.] from beginning to end [but not as generous or appealing a nature as the Don].

Papalinton said...

"The veracity of the testimony is important."

Only to theologians and religious-dowsed medicos and scientists.

Real scientists and medical specialists won't professionally engage in this form of evidential contrivance.

Crude said...

As Linton knows, I don't respond to his inanities since he's a known liar and plagiarist.

But given the theme of the thread, I will offer one question. For a man who likes to psychoanalyze, perhaps he should ask himself - what drove him to lie about his knowledge? Why did he lie about his understanding of philosophy, theology and metaphysics? In light of that, does he seem like someone who is rationally evaluating information?

Which further illustrates a point in this thread: an atheist's inability to assent to God's existence, or a miracle, is not evidence against God's existence or a miracle. In the case of Linton, we have a great example of what Cult of Gnu atheists will do when confronted with claims they find threatening yet don't understand - sometimes, they will lie.

In his case, stupidly and poorly. ;)

oozzielionel said...

Real scientists and medical specialists won't professionally engage in this form of evidential contrivance.

I think they do rely on the reports of others, otherwise they would be doomed to personally repeat every study and every experiment.

Papalinton said...

Crude, his back to the wall with a bible in one hand and Summa Theologica in the the other fighting off the infidels. Now that is Classical Scholasticism in action. The modern day Don Quixote tilting at windmills with his Thomist lance.

He does not want to engage in discussion about the latest evidence of the shrinking of his beloved Christian worldview, about the white-anting from within through the new Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. He does not even want to acknowledge what is going on around him because he is morbidly rusted on to the old, tired and frazzled Thomistic medieval mindset.

So folks I think we can quite properly move on from any comment Crude might want to cough up. into the future. It will be as immaterial and irrelevant as his belief system. The rubber has to hit the road somewhere and it ain't in metaphysics.

Papalinton said...

oozielionel
"Real scientists and medical specialists won't professionally engage in this form of evidential contrivance.
I think they do rely on the reports of others, otherwise they would be doomed to personally repeat every study and every experiment."


You do understand the professional engagement we are talking about is the panel that decides miracles, 'this form of evidential contrivance'. No medical scientist as far as I know has ever entertained or considered let alone incorporated the outcomes and findings of any Catholic panel of experts [?] on miracles that would prevent them from personally repeating every study and every experiment on miracles.

Is there a tertiary level post-graduate course or unit in the identification of medical miracles that scientists and medical specialists can undertake, out of which a failing to attend would 'otherwise doom them to personally repeat every study and every experiment'?

Papalinton said...

Corrigendum:

The rubber has to hit the road somewhere and it ain't in his version of metaphysics.

Papalinton said...

Crude says, "But given the theme of the thread, I will offer one question. For a man who likes to psychoanalyze, perhaps he should ask himself - what drove him to lie about his knowledge? Why did he lie about his understanding of philosophy, theology and metaphysics? In light of that, does he seem like someone who is rationally evaluating information?"

One question? It seems Crude is equally numerically and/or arithmetically challenged not to mention the smell of his metaphysics.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, You seem to be co-opting a modern philosophical understanding of "natural law" and superimposing it on an ancient understanding of how Yahweh "ruled" over the cosmos. The theological world view of ancient Near Easterners was that divinity was VERY involved with the world, consciously personally involved in fact, with the weather, with battles, with maintaining the limits of the sea's advance on the shoreline, with holding back vast celestial and subterranean primeval waters, with directing the constellations "in their season," maintaining the earth's stability "he holds it in place," so that "it shall not be moved," with making promises and threatening curses on particular nations in the form of plagues, wars, good or bad harvests. Very personally involved, minutely one might say, to the extent that building a temple to one's high god, and having a class of people devoted just to offering prayers, sacrifices and holding annual festivals in honor of the nation's high god was VITALLY IMPORTANT TO THE WELL BEING OF ONE'S ENTIRE NATION. Therefore they believed that the way for their nation to gain an advantage in all those areas was to worship the God who held everything personally in place.

Today we do not view matters that way. But back then they did, not only the Hebrews but the nations around them. See this free chapter in a scholarly work, about Israel's Theological World View: http://books.google.com/books?id=tO0EsMfyFD0C&lpg=PP1&ots=ALTsEXvsRK&dq=Disturbing%20Divine%20Behavior%3A%20Troubling%20Old%20Testament%20Images%20of%20God&pg=PA145#v=onepage&q&f=false

There is a verse, Jeremiah 33:25 (EXB), that some Christians try and co-opt as if "modern science" is mentioned in the Bible, that is yet another example of the above, rather than speaking about modern day philosophical idea of natural law: "25 This is what the Lord says: “If I had not made my ·agreement [covenant; treaty] with day and night [v. 20], and if I had not made the ·laws [statutes; ordinances; requirements] for the ·sky [heavens] and earth,"

That is not identical to a scientific view of the world which includes being able to predict the weather a week in advance via satellite imagery, or predict outbreaks of disease, which we now prognosticate based on cold fronts and disease vectors.

planks length said...

Mr. Loftus's argument is fatally flawed from the get-go. He writes, "[The ancients] had no understanding that there were natural laws." I've heard this line of reasoning before, and it inexplicably fails to take into account that even the ancients realized that a miracle (for example, Christ's Resurrection) was outside of what naturally and regularly occurred in everyday experience. If the Resurrection were not inexplicable in terms of natural law, it would never have been considered worth noticing, let alone worth the effort it took (read Acts to get an idea of that effort) to spread the news of its happening to the world.

So there is no point whatsoever in challenging Christians with "So, you believe in the resuscitation of three-day old decaying corpses," as though we were trying to square it with natural law. Remember, the Apostles were the first to not only acknowledge, but to actively proclaim, that it cannot be so squared!

On a different matter, as to solid, personally observed evidence of the miraculous (the kind of evidence that im-skeptical asks for) swaying the opinion of the more obstinate skeptic, might I quote French atheist Emile Zola? To wit: "Were I to see all the sick at Lourdes cured, I would still not believe in a miracle."

im-skeptical said...

"might I quote French atheist Emile Zola?"

Some skeptics will tell you that they need evidence in order to believe something. I am among those. Others are already convinced by the evidence that they see. So Zola was evidently satisfied by what he knew about the world, and confident that he would never be presented with any real evidence that would change his mind. Now, I'm pretty confident of the same thing, but I won't go so far as to say that I couldn't be swayed, given appropriate evidence. Why do you insist on claiming that we think the same way? Do I insist that all Christians believe the earth is 6000 years old?

im-skeptical said...

Another thought: Christians keep insisting that I will not convinced by any evidence that their God is real, despite my own insistence that evidence is what matters to me. Show me a Christian who is willing to look objectively at the real evidence that is available for all of us to evaluate. Oh, that's right - there are some - like John Loftus.

BenYachov said...

You define evidence solely in positivist terms.

That is as irrational as claiming science shows the world was created literally 6000 years ago.

You verson of "Atheism" is for the intellectually inferior & this is true even if no god concept turns out to be true.

In fact every Gnu who has posted on this Tread has a fundamentalist view of both religion and Atheism.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

I define evidence as being objective. If you have some kind of inner feeling, that is nothing more than emotion. It may be convincing to you, but I can see that it is emotional, and I understand that emotions are driven by physical causes. These so-called religious experiences that people have are fairly well understood by science. They are convincing to people who are unable to separate their feelings from genuine intellect.

BenYachov said...

>I define evidence as being objective.

Do you come to that conclusion by preforming a science experiment or do you think it out based on premises and presuppositions?

I don't see how you can do the former practically and without begging the question. If you do the later you are doing some form of philosophy.

But then the later is necessary to demonstraight your proposition.

It is objective by it's own standards? I think not.

You must do philosophy or you are a fraking idiot.

No "and's", no "if's" and no "butts"!

That is how it is.

Positivism is for fucking morons.

>If you have some kind of inner feeling, that is nothing more than emotion.

I don't place having an inner locution above reason, philosophy or science. That is contrary to Church Tradition and common sense.

I reject Fideism because it is unreasonable, against Thomism and condemned as heresy by the First Vatican Council.

BenYachov said...

>It may be convincing to you, but I can see that it is emotional, and I understand that emotions are driven by physical causes.

So what? Since when is God understood in the Classic sense incapable of causing either formally or directly physical causes?

>These so-called religious experiences that people have are fairly well understood by science.

No the physical processes are understood. The meaning & the metaphysical analysis is the sole providence of philosophy.

>They are convincing to people who are unable to separate their feelings from genuine intellect.

Like Gnu Atheist fundamentalist Positivists.

Not to non-Positivists Atheists or Christians who know philosophy.

im-skeptical said...

"do you think it out based on premises and presuppositions?

...

If you do the later you are doing some form of philosophy."

Um, that's what I would call logical reasoning, not philosophy. But science is very much based on logical inference - with empirical evidence to back up its premises. In fact science was traditionally viewed as a branch of philosophy. So your philosophy is logical reasoning without evidence, and science is logical reasoning with evidence. Of the two, I guess you think the one without evidence is superior. That's interesting.

"You must do philosophy or you are a fraking idiot."

I just believe that having evidence is better than not having evidence. You can assert whatever you like, and draw logical conclusions from that assertion (as a premise). But if your assertion has no basis, then the conclusion doesn't, either.

BenYachov said...

>Um, that's what I would call logical reasoning, not philosophy.

Like Aristotle? Sorry you cannot escape philosophy and philosophy is reasoning about Being and Existence.

> But science is very much based on logical inference - with empirical evidence to back up its premises.

Science exists because philosophy came first. Even Dennett said correctly there is no such thing as a philosophy
free science. There is only science whose philosophical presuppositions are taken on board without examination.

Was he wrong?

> In fact science was traditionally viewed as a branch of philosophy.

Correct which shows it's dependence on philosophy and it's primacy & this vindicates Dennett.

>So your philosophy is logical reasoning without evidence, and science is logical reasoning with evidence.

Again with the category mistakes. Like saying "You believe Evolution is a science yet you can't prove natural selection is true with a particle accelerator so why do you believe in it?".

> Of the two, I guess you think the one without evidence is superior. That's interesting.

Rather I don't think in terms of your positivism inspired category mistakes. Yet you so strongly believe in Positivism while implausibly denying it is Positivism which by your own standard has no "evidence" to back up it's claims. You consider logical reasoning evidence but philosophical conclusions follow logical reasoning or it can't get started.

Really would your tits catch on fire if you got off your arse & learned some philosophy?

>I just believe that having evidence is better than not having evidence. You can assert whatever you like, and draw logical conclusions from that assertion (as a premise). But if your assertion has no basis, then the conclusion doesn't, either.

Rather you believe in science alone & hold philosophical presuppositions you take on board unexamined.

As a result your "atheism" will be reduced to a simple minded dogmatism that is mere fundamentalist fideism without positive belief in a god entity.

How are you any better then the religious fundie? You are not & never will be.