Sunday, January 24, 2016

Steve Hays on Skywriting

Here.  Of course some atheists have said that even if God were to skywrite, they still wouldn't believe.

180 comments:

steve said...

Incidentally, for folks who may be unfamiliar with the concept of a coincidence miracles, here's a standard illustration:

Suppose a child who is riding a toy motor-car gets stuck on the track at a train crossing. A train is approaching from around a curve, and the engineer who is driving it will not be able to see the child until it is too late to stop. By coincidence, the engineer faints at just the right moment, releasing his hand on the control lever, which causes the train to stop automatically. The child, against all expectations, is saved, and his mother thanks God for his providence; she continues to insist that a miracle has occurred even after hearing the explanation of how the train came to stop when it did. Interestingly, when the mother attributes the stopping of the train to God she is not identifying God as its cause; the cause of the train's stopping is the engineer's fainting. Nor is she, in any obvious way, offering an explanation for the event—at least none that is intended to compete with the naturalistic explanation made possible by reference to the engineer's medical condition. What makes this event a miracle, if it is, is its significance, which is given at least in part by its being an apparent response to a human need.
Like a violation miracle, such a coincidence occurs contrary to our expectations, yet it does this without standing in opposition to our understanding of natural law.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/miracles/#H9

jdhuey said...

Of course, the big problem is the vast number of times no such 'miracle' happens and the child is killed. Why only selective miracles?

jdhuey said...

Sky writing with the stars might in theory be a coincidence miracle but in practice something has to be going on. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details: exactly how is the feat achieved? Is it a mental aberration or is it objectively observable? Did the stars actually move or was the light from the stars bent? Did the process happen slowly or fast? Before I would subscribe to a supernatural cause, there would have to be quite alot of investigation.

What if instead of John 3:16, the writing was from the Bhabavad Gita? Would you Christians immediately become Hindus?

steve said...

i) The question of why God intervenes in some situations rather than others is a separate issue from the question of whether a particular event is naturally explicable.

ii) I'd add that if God intervenes, that will have a ripple effect, and if God refrains from intervention, that will have a ripple effect, so there can certainly be a reason why God intervenes in some situations, but not more often.

Consider time-travel stories where someone goes back into the past to change the future in order to avert some catastrophe. But his intervention has other consequences. It may prevent one evil, but cause other evils (down the line). It may prevent other goods which are contingent on the catastrophe.

steve said...

i) Whether you personally think skywriting would be miraculous is beside the point. The post was about a class of atheists who say a miracle like that would convince them that God exists. I'm running with a premise that they themselves supply.

ii) Your counterexample about the Gita is a diversionary tactic. That changes the subject. The question at issue was whether the example that some atheists give of a convincing miracle (skywriting) is consistent with their customary definition of a miracle (i.e. "violation of natural laws").

iii) I'd also add that the issue wasn't a particular religion, but the existence of a God.

Cal Metzger said...

What would Christians here accept as evidence that Odin exists and is the one supreme god?

What could Odin do that you can't explain as being better assigned to Yahweh, and that would make you change your mind about Odin existing?

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"What would Christians here accept as evidence that Odin exists and is the one supreme god?"

I don't see any evidence that Odin exists let alone is "the one supreme god."

On the contrary, there's evidence Odin doesn't exist and isn't "the one supreme god."

"What could Odin do that you can't explain as being better assigned to Yahweh, and that would make you change your mind about Odin existing?"

For one thing, Odin traded an eye for wisdom. I can't "explain" this "as being better assigned to Yahweh."

Joe Hinman said...

Yes but that's like saying I am contingent and God is not contingent thyerefo0re I ma better at being contingent than God is. thus ...Odin is contingent. Odin will always be contingent.

No contingency is worthy of the appellation "God." Therefore Odin is not worthy to be God and God is.

Joe Hinman said...

What would Christians here accept as evidence that Odin exists and is the one supreme god?

What could Odin do that you can't explain as being better assigned to Yahweh, and that would make you change your mind about Odin existing?

Easy, in fact obvious. If he could be:

eternal
necessary
ground of being
that which nothing greater than could be conceived

then I guess he would pass. There can only be one and the job is already taken.

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"What would Christians here accept as evidence that Odin exists and is the one supreme god?"

i) That has precisely nothing to do with the topic of my post. So either Cal fails to grasp the issue or he is changing the subject because he can't cope with the actual question at issue.

ii) Let's recap:

In my experience, many atheists don't think an event would qualify as a miracle unless it breaks a natural law. They may tweak the definition a bit, but that's their basic operating framework.

Conversely, it's become an atheist trope to say skywriting would be a convincing miracle. Not all atheists say that, but some prominent atheists use that example.

To the extent that atheists use a Humean definition of miracles, if some of them also use skywriting as an example of a convincing miracle, then their example contradicts their definition. I've described how skywriting can be consistent with the laws of physics.

Skywriting is an example of a coincidence miracle. That's an alternative to Hume's definition. A coincidence miracle involves an opportune convergence of causally independent chains of events.

What makes it miraculous is not that it contravenes a law of nature, but that it's not something nature would do on its own. A coincidence miracle is too discriminating. It requires personal agency. Intelligent manipulation of the circumstances to yield that outcome.

iii) I'm not saying that I think these are mutually exclusive definitions. I think they are complementary. But from the viewpoint of an atheist, if an atheist defines a miracle as a violation of natural laws, and if, conversely, he says skywriting would be a convincing miracle, then he's riding two different horses.

iv) An atheist could relieve the tension by broadening his definition of miracles to include coincidence miracles. However, he pays a price for a more expansive definition. For that greatly deepens the potential pool of miracles, as well as the potential evidence for said miracles. Hence, the atheist now has more kinds of miracles to disprove. For instance, many miraculous answers to prayer would be classified as coincidence miracles.

v) Atheists use skywriting as a throwaway concession. They don't think that will ever happen, so they don't think admitting that will cost them anything. It allows them to pay lip-service to rationality and evidence without having to grant an actual miracle. Or so they suppose.

But although skywriting is hypothetical, it belongs to the class of coincidence miracles, and that is not hypothetical. There are ever so many miracles that fit that category. So this becomes a dilemma for atheists.

That's the argument. Odin is a decoy. We could chase down that rabbit trail, but that should not be allowed to distract from the actual topic of the post.

Cal Metzger said...

"That's the argument. Odin is a decoy. We could chase down that rabbit trail, but that should not be allowed to distract from the actual topic of the post."

What a lot of caviling here in response to a two simple questions.

The post is around the topic that skeptics and atheists set, presumably, an artificial obstacle by denying the existence of a chosen god as demonstrated by what are purported to be miracles. Apparently, the purported miracles are what has convinced all the believers.

Sooo, if that's what's supposed to be the problem for the skeptics and atheists, I ask the same. Skeptics and atheists are dishonest and shiftless, I hear, because (apparently) nothing will convince us otherwise from what we've already concluded.

And that is why I asked:

1. "What would Christians here accept as evidence that Odin exists and is the one supreme god?

2. "What could Odin do that you can't explain as being better assigned to Yahweh, and that would make you change your mind about Odin existing?"



steve said...

That's Cal's modus operandi. Because he refuses to study, much less engage, actual evidence for actual miracles–despite the fact that I, for one, have directed him to some excellent resources–he diverts attention away from his manifest failure and intellectual frivolity by "asking questions" about unicorns or Odin.

Moreover, my post is not about the credibility of miracles or evidence for miracles, but about a simple point of consistency. Mind you, resolving the inconsistency has problematic consequences for the atheists in view.

Cal is free to make a speech in front of the mirror. In the meantime, the real issue remains.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"What a lot of caviling here in response to a two simple questions."

Actually, two loaded questions.

"Apparently, the purported miracles are what has convinced all the believers."

Miracles "convinced all the believers" of what? To be believers? To become Christians? If that's what you're suggesting, you're flat-out wrong, for many believers became Christians for other reasons. Reasons irrelevant to the current post.

"Skeptics and atheists are dishonest and shiftless, I hear, because (apparently) nothing will convince us otherwise from what we've already concluded."

It depends on the particular skeptic and atheist in question. However, in my experience many if not most atheist epologists don't argue in good faith and/or don't bother to acquaint themselves with Christianity well enough to have a serious and intelligent discussion about it. They just sit smugly while reading off cue cards from lightweights like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Coyne, etc.

"And that is why I asked:"

Odin isn't analogous to Yahweh. At least you certainly never give any reason to consider them analogously.

Cal Metzger said...

Still way too much caviling and misrepresentation here but I thought this stood out:

rock: "Miracles "convinced all the believers" of what? To be believers? To become Christians? If that's what you're suggesting, you're flat-out wrong, for many believers became Christians for other reasons."

I'm curious -- how is it that Christians became Christians without believing in these stories: the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Jesus, and his resurrection? And if these Christians are NOT convinced by the stories of the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Jesus, and the resurrection, how is it that they are Christians?

steve said...

It's amusing to see Cal writhe and twist to change the subject. Keep in mind that this is not how I, as a Christian, framed the issue. Rather, this is how atheists framed the issue. Skywriting is an atheist trope. I'm just responding to atheists on their own grounds. It's hardly "caviling" for me to hold them to the implications of their chosen example.

Atheists want to seem reasonable. They want to be able to say that their beliefs are based on evidence, and subject to factual correction. So they use the skywriting example because that's a safe example. It's an artificial example. They have no fear that it will ever happen. Their bluff won't be called.

However, using that example unwittingly backs them into a corner. By using the skywriting example, they concede that it would be irrational for them to disbelieve in God if confronted with a miracle of that kind.

Problem is, that's a particular kind of miracle: a coincidence miracle. And even though the skywriting example is artificial, there are many reported miracles of the same kind. That forces them to admit it would be irrational for them to disbelieve God's existence in the face of coincidence miracles. But in that event they must explain away countless coincidence miracles.

steve said...

Incidentally, a problem with Cal's Odin example is his tendentious comparison between Odin and Yahweh. He posits an analogy, then demands that we disprove the analogy. But the onus is on him to show that Odin and Yahweh are the same kind of being. He hasn't provided any supporting argument for his parallel. It's not incumbent on me to disprove an unproven contention.

Cal has a habit of taking intellectual shortcuts.

steve said...

Atheists like Cal have stock objections to Christianity which they dutifully cribbed from leaders of the New Atheist movement. They didn't originate these objections. They don't think for themselves. They can't think on their feet.

When a Christian presents an argument for which they have no prepared answers, they try to change the subject as fast as they can. Because Cal's deck of cue cards has no prepared answer for the question at issue, he's at a loss to respond. So his solution is to threadjack the post by changing the subject.

Cal Metzger said...

Like I said, lots of misrepresentations and caviling, not a lot of responding.

steve said...

I appreciate Cal's backdoor admission that he can't make a dent in the actual argument.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I'm curious -- how is it that Christians became Christians without believing in these stories: the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Jesus, and his resurrection? And if these Christians are NOT convinced by the stories of the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Jesus, and the resurrection, how is it that they are Christians?"

Let's think about this logically, shall we, Cal? Sure, it might cause you to burst a blood vessel thinking a little bit harder than you're normally used to, but for the bona fide truth seeker, the "skeptic" in the best sense of the word, what are such risks in pursuit of the truth?

1. First off, what's the context? The context is the atheist conceit about becoming a Christian if they could observe God skywriting them a message clearly pointing to himself. In short, we're talking about skywriting miracles. Of course, I realize you wish to change the context, but hey I wish we could deport Donald Trump but my wish doesn't make it so.

2. Also, did I deny biblical miracles? This one should be pretty obvious even for Cal.

3. Third, was I talking about Christian faith in general or was I talking about how a Christian came to faith? Here's what I said: "many believers became Christians for other reasons" (extra emphasis for Cal the slow but steady atheist).

4. Which believers did you, Cal, originally identify? You identified "all the believers." If you're going to identify "all the believers," then it only takes a subset of "all the believers" (i.e. some or many believers) who came to faith otherwise to disprove it's true of "all the believers." For instance, just in my own life, I know of believers who came to faith for reasons other than because they saw a skywriting type of miracle.

5. Finally, I actually gave you an out in my previous response: I asked what you meant. You could've better clarified or explained yourself. Instead, I guess you decided to go full Cal Metzger: Me Cal, me strong like ox, and me twice as smart!

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Like I said, lots of misrepresentations and caviling, not a lot of responding."

If so, then why don't you attempt to correct it? Why don't you attempt to make an intelligent and rational response instead of your previous litany of canned responses? Why don't you reason rather than reply with a denial, which itself ironically attempts to spin our replies into "misrepresentations and caviling"?

steve said...

Notice that when Cal is challenged, he has no counterargument. Because he can't refute anything I say, he responds with exclamations: "That's rich!" "That's caviling!"

Cal has a little bag of tricks that bottoms out in no time. When his talking points are challenged, he has nothing in reserve.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "Why don't you attempt to make an intelligent and rational response instead of your previous litany of canned responses? Why don't you reason rather than reply with a denial, which itself ironically attempts to spin our replies into "misrepresentations and caviling"?"

Canned? I have kept my questions tight and to the point, and they're in direct response to the post and the comments here. Compare my comments with the frankly long-winded, winding, comments, filled with misrepresentations and childish little taunts (rock: "...it might cause you to burst a blood vessel thinking a little bit harder than you're normally used to...", etc.) from you and steve.

Frankly, I don't even know what either of you is arguing for -- mostly your comments read as if you're imagining some larger audience to whom you're stage whispering, "Now, watch me as I trap that sly dog Cal with this imagined bon mot!" Yeah, whatever.

My purpose in commenting here is to point out those instances where I see hypocrisy, inconsistency, and sanctimony, and to underline those instances by asking questions that expose them for what they are. I've been pretty up front about that since I started commenting here.

I get that you and steve don't like my questions, and that you suspect that they might lead to conclusions that would make you uncomfortable. Imagine my surprise.

Can you, or anyone else, tell me what the point of the OP is? I get that the OP thinks that atheists are bad (worse than believers) regarding miracles, but I'm still not sure why.

Joe Hinman said...

Cal I answered your question, I told you what Odin has to do for me to think of him as God do you not have a follow up? did you just think non one would ever answer?

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"My purpose in commenting here is to point out those instances where I see hypocrisy, inconsistency, and sanctimony, and to underline those instances by asking questions that expose them for what they are. I've been pretty up front about that since I started commenting here."

Thanks for tipping your hand. You have an ulterior motive. You make comments that are intentionally irrelevant to the topic of the post.

"…mostly your comments read as if you're imagining some larger audience…"

Because, as a matter of fact, Victor has a larger audience.

Cal Metzger said...

Joe: "Cal I answered your question, I told you what Odin has to do for me to think of him as God do you not have a follow up? did you just think non one would ever answer?"

I couldn't really understand what you were trying to say, and it also looked to me like you were responding to steve's comment above mine -- see the sequence above. In other words, I just didn't see you as responding to my question.

Joe's original response: "Yes but that's like saying I am contingent and God is not contingent thyerefo0re I ma better at being contingent than God is. thus ...Odin is contingent. Odin will always be contingent. / No contingency is worthy of the appellation "God." Therefore Odin is not worthy to be God and God is."

Remember, my questions were:
"What would Christians here accept as evidence that Odin exists and is the one supreme god?"
and
"What could Odin do that you can't explain as being better assigned to Yahweh, and that would make you change your mind about Odin existing?"

Your above doesn't seem like an answer to either of my questions, and looks like it was responding to Steve. So, not really sure what I was supposed to do about that one.





Cal Metzger said...

steve: "Thanks for tipping your hand. You have an ulterior motive. You make comments that are intentionally irrelevant to the topic of the post."

Um, I didn't tip my hand -- I told you what I'm doing. And, as I wrote quite plainly, I don't have an ulterior motive -- I have a motive, the one I wrote that I have.

And no, my comments are not off-topic. My first comment was in relation to the OP, and all of my other comments here were written in response to previous comments.

Why would you allow yourself to write things that are so easy to refute?

Andrew W said...

Out of curiosity, is there any evidence that convinces you (Cal) that Odin exists and is the one true God? Is there particular evidence that convinces you but that you think that Christians are ignoring? Or are you just deliberately introducing a rhetorical red herring?

Present evidence that convinces you that Odin exists and demonstrates how you have modified your life accordingly, and then we'll be happy to discuss whether we find it credible or not. Until then, there's no analogy.

rockingwithhawking said...

By the way, I find the following bit amusing as well as ironic:

Cal Metzger was the one who originally brought up how I might be a sock puppet presumably for Steve Hays. See here.

However, given Cal Metzger is very likely im-skeptical, maybe he was projecting aka blame shifting? :-)

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

Basically, your replies are you whining about how you were mistreated and/or you saying you don't understand anything.

Here's a novel thought or two:

1. If you don't understand, then ask specific questions about what you don't understand.

2. If (arguendo) it's true we're mistreating you, engaging in childish behavior, and so on, then you could act like the adult here and focus on the arguments and respond to them with reasoned argumentation.

B. Prokop said...

I strongly suspect that Cal is in reality "im-skeptical". He has the same lack of critical faculties and utter lack of any intellectual depth. Like Skep, he fails to understand the simplest arguments and falls back on repeating himself ad nauseam. When cornered, he changes the subject and throws out red herrings like a fishmonger. Also, he uses many of the same words and phrases (I imagine that a computerized textual analysis would show they're the same writer), such as "I get that you and steve don't like my questions, and that you suspect that they might lead to conclusions that would make you uncomfortable." Pure Skeppy.

Cal Metzger said...

Andrew: "Out of curiosity, is there any evidence that convinces you (Cal) that Odin exists and is the one true God? Is there particular evidence that convinces you but that you think that Christians are ignoring?"

Thanks for asking.

No, I have no particular reason to think that Odin exists, nor any other gods. That's because I don't know of any (nor, I imagined, do you) good evidence for Odin. But the OP doesn't seem like it's talking about "the" evidence -- by my best guess it's talking about hypothetical evidence.

Isn't it funny how you asked that question, and I answered, but some of the other commenters here would say your question is off topic and I shouldn't answer it?

Andrew: "Or are you just deliberately introducing a rhetorical red herring?"

To be clear, I don't want to (ever) divert a discussion. If I don't care about a discussion, I don't participate. If I do care about the discussion, I become involved. So, no, my questions aren't red herrings -- they are questions that relate to the OP, and the comments here.

Andrew: "Present evidence that convinces you that Odin exists and demonstrates how you have modified your life accordingly, and then we'll be happy to discuss whether we find it credible or not."

I don't believe that Odin exists. Why should I present evidence for Odin, and how I have "modified" my life accordingly (?), to be credible to you? Wouldn't fulfilling your (odd) request -- that I think Odin is real, and that I have "modified" my life accordingly, make me seem less credible to you?

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "However, given Cal Metzger is very likely im-skeptical, maybe he was projecting aka blame shifting? :-)"

I am not im-skeptical. I have no idea who im-skeptical is. Even if I were, what would it matter?

rock: "1. If you don't understand, then ask specific questions about what you don't understand."

I do. I have. Notice how many times you have not answered my questions.

Ironic much?

rock: "2. If (arguendo) it's true we're mistreating you, engaging in childish behavior, and so on, then you could act like the adult here and focus on the arguments and respond to them with reasoned argumentation."

Why should I be the only one here who acts like an adult? Aren't you and the other commenters here capable of acting like adults as well?

You're free to raise your game anytime you can. I can't do that one for you.


Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "I strongly suspect that Cal is in reality "im-skeptical". He has the same lack of critical faculties and utter lack of any intellectual depth. Like Skep, he fails to understand the simplest arguments and falls back on repeating himself ad nauseam. When cornered, he changes the subject and throws out red herrings like a fishmonger. Also, he uses many of the same words and phrases (I imagine that a computerized textual analysis would show they're the same writer), such as "I get that you and steve don't like my questions, and that you suspect that they might lead to conclusions that would make you uncomfortable." Pure Skeppy

Your ability to (mis)identify me as someone else is on the same level as your description of my comments.

Awesome how you guys all quickly coalesce around yet one more false notion (that I am im-skeptical) and by repeating it to one another show how you'd rather belong to a group that agrees rather than actually be right about something. I suppose that all we humans share this failing, but you guys just seem to really revel on it. Hence, my continued comments here.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I am not im-skeptical. I have no idea who im-skeptical is. Even if I were, what would it matter?"

Of course, you would deny it, wouldn't you?

It doesn't matter to me, on a personal level, but it would matter given what I said above.

"I do. I have. Notice how many times you have not answered my questions."

So you say, but anyone can read or re-read what you've actually said and our replies and come to their own conclusions.

Also, you ask loaded questions, as I've previously mentioned. Rigged questions. Questions which attempt to trap Christians.

As such, we challenge the presumptions behind you asking your questions. That's a perfectly valid move for us to make against your line of questioning. Sometimes you have to call people out for how they ask questions, because there are different ways in which to ask a question, some of them scrupulous, others less than scrupulous.

That said, not that Cal Metzger will care, but for the sake of others listening in: what I'm referring to is honest questions, questions relevant to the topic under discussion, befitting someone who claims to care about honest answers and who sincerely wants to understand.

"Why should I be the only one here who acts like an adult? Aren't you and the other commenters here capable of acting like adults as well?"

I presented a counterfactual. If, then. If (arguendo) it's true we're acting like children (your contention, not ours), then you're perfectly free to ignore alleged childish behavior, and focus on the arguments. But you don't. Instead, you continue to whine.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Awesome how you guys all quickly coalesce around yet one more false notion (that I am im-skeptical) and by repeating it to one another show how you'd rather belong to a group that agrees rather than actually be right about something. I suppose that all we humans share this failing, but you guys just seem to really revel on it. Hence, my continued comments here."

Awesome how you generalize from a handful of commenters to something which doesn't even follow.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Awesome how you guys all quickly coalesce around yet one more false notion (that I am im-skeptical) and by repeating it to one another show how you'd rather belong to a group that agrees rather than actually be right about something. I suppose that all we humans share this failing, but you guys just seem to really revel on it. Hence, my continued comments here."

What's ironic is how much and how intensely this applies to many atheists. Take atheists who "revel" in men like Sagan, Dawkins, Hitchens, Krauss, etc. Or witness John Loftus et al over at Debunking Christianity. Or Secular Outpost atheists like Keith Parsons and their followers. Or PZ Myers and his rabid fans at Pharyngula - so rabid that other atheists have had difficulties interacting over there. And so on.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Can you, or anyone else, tell me what the point of the OP is?"

Assuming this is a sincere question:

If God front-loaded skywriting into the universe via natural laws (e.g. the laws of physics), if he so arranged from the beginning of the universe that the starry skies would eventually spell out John 3:16 for people to read today, then it would be a miracle consistent with natural laws. A coincidence miracle (e.g. see here).

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"I strongly suspect that Cal is in reality "im-skeptical"."

I doubt very much, very strongly, that Cal is im-skeptical. They are both morons, but speak with distinct voices -- just pay attention to their argumentative strategies (or what they take to be "argumentative strategies") and fallback rhetoric. It is different.

B. Prokop said...

Well, if Cal isn't Skeppy, then he's slurped out of the same gnu trough. They think alike (i.e., they don't), they argue alike (i.e., they dodge, weave, and change the subject), and they project alike (e.g., we're all made "uncomfortable" by his nonsense, or we're "afraid" that his incoherence might rub off on us).

We all need to re-read C.S. Lewis's admonition against attempting to reason with someone in whom reason is dead, lest we be like a person trying to light a fire by blowing on a heap of cold ashes. All we'll get for our efforts is dust in our eyes.

Prayer would have more effect.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Victor Reppert said...

No, Cal isn't Skep. If you spend any time on Debunking Christianity you will find a carload of people who have much the same attitude, and they can't all be the same person.

It isn't the case, though, that there is no content in New Atheism that requires answers. What gets unproductive, however, is arguing with people who are so boxed in by an ideology that they can't, even in their imaginations, consider an opposing view. It's a little like talking to hard-core fundamentalists. It took too long to see that with the other two. Cal is getting close. I'm tired of dealing with people who can't think outside the playbook.

steve said...

I've given Cal multiple opportunities to engage the actual topic of the post. Now that he's demonstrated his inability to disprove my point, we might briefly dispatch his attempted comparison between Yahweh and Odin. There are two considerations:

1. Sources of information

i) According to Scripture, Jesus is Yahweh Incarnate. In the NT, we have a set of 1C documents about a figure who appeared in the 1C. Contemporaneous documentation.

Traditionally, these documents are ascribed to people who knew Jesus or people who knew people who knew Jesus. Either firsthand accounts or accounts based on firsthand informants.

The traditional attributions have been defended in scholarly articles, commentaries, monographs, and NT introductions. Likewise, there are various lines of internal and external evidence for the historicity of these documents.

These accounts describe Jesus as God Incarnate, performing miracles.

In addition, reported miracles aren't confined to the Gospels. There's credible evidence for Christian miracles throughout church history, right up to the present. Likewise, answered prayers in the name of Jesus.

We also have corroboration from some church fathers. Either early church fathers or somewhat later fathers with an antiquarian interest who made a point of gathering information from early sources.

In addition, there are messianic types and prophecies that foreshadow or predict the advent of a person just like Jesus.

ii) By contrast, what evidence is there that legends about Odin were written by anyone who actually encountered Odin? Is the genre even ostensibly historical?

What are the dates of the sources in relation to the first reports?

What evidence is there that Odin answers prayer? What evidence is there for continued miracles in the name of Odin?

2. Nature of the deity

i) According to Scripture, Yahweh/Jesus is the preexistent Creator of the world. According to the OT, Yahweh is essentially incorporeal.

ii) According to Nordic/Teutonic mythology, Odin is a physical, humanoid "god". A mortal being. Finite in knowledge and power. He didn't create the world. He has affairs with human women, female giants, &c.

So the concept of Odin isn't comparable to the concept of Yahweh. Odin is a different kind of being than Yahweh. What theistic proofs would even apply to a being like Odin?

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "If God front-loaded skywriting into the universe via natural laws (e.g. the laws of physics), if he so arranged from the beginning of the universe that the starry skies would eventually spell out John 3:16 for people to read today, then it would be a miracle consistent with natural laws. A coincidence miracle (e.g. see here)."

Thanks, but I got that much. Where I am having trouble is connecting the above to the complaint that this represents some kind of "facetious illustration" or why it should be "glib, and short sighted."

And that is why I asked believers here what kind of miraculous occurrence it would take to convince Christians that Odin is real, in the same way that Christians ask skeptics like me to believe that their god is real. I thought maybe it would make people think about the problem from a different perspective, and I imagine that that is sometimes illuminating.

Many times I hear apologists declare that non-believers close their minds to the possibility of miracles (a concept that, like the term "supernatural", I still find to be incoherent). But isn't that what Christians (and other religious believers) do when they struggle to even imagine what it would take for them to believe that Odin exists, and not Yahweh?

planks length said...

But isn't that what ... ?

No.

steve said...

Notice that when Cal's bluff is called, he ignores the answer. Cal is consistently unethical.

planks length said...

That's why I gave his faux question a one word answer, which is all it deserves. And notice the projection there: "when they struggle". Struggle? I can't speak for anyone else here, but I didn't struggle for a nanosecond with Cal's ridiculous "different perspective". Different perspective, my ass. His transparently hidden agenda gotcha question is similar to this one: "What would it take to convince home buyers to consider moving into an apple tree?"

Home and apple tree have even more in common than do Yahweh and Odin.

Cal Metzger said...

steve: "Notice that when Cal's bluff is called, he ignores the answer. "

?

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Thanks, but I got that much. Where I am having trouble is connecting the above to the complaint that this represents some kind of 'facetious illustration' or why it should be 'glib, and short sighted.'"

1. The bit about "facetious illustration" and "glib, and short sighted" doesn't refer to the skywriting trope as such, but rather to the likely motives behind these atheists arguing they'd believe in God if he wrote John 3:16 in the sky for them to read. As Steve likewise said in the same paragraph, these atheists are looking for "a quick and easy way to dismiss [Christianity]."

2. However, even if you leave aside these atheists' motives, you'd still have to deal with the skywriting trope itself.

"And that is why I asked believers here what kind of miraculous occurrence it would take to convince Christians that Odin is real, in the same way that Christians ask skeptics like me to believe that their god is real."

1. What you say here ("And that is why I asked believers here what kind of miraculous occurrence it would take to convince Christians that Odin is real...") doesn't logically follow from your previous statement ("Where I am having trouble..."). It doesn't make sense given your presently stated rationale. Your Odin example is coming out of the blue.

2. Be that as it may, several Christians here have nevertheless responded to your Odin example:

a. As I said earlier, what makes you think Odin is analogous to Yahweh.

b. Also, Joe Hinman responded to your Odin example, but you didn't offer a counter-argument to what he said. You just said you didn't understand him.

c. Finally (apologies if I've missed anyone) I see Steve Hays gave a thorough response to your Odin example.

"I thought maybe it would make people think about the problem from a different perspective, and I imagine that that is sometimes illuminating."

1. Well, the original post was dealing with the skywriting trope proffered by some (not all) atheists, whereas you're bringing up a new and unrelated topic - or at least thus far you haven't satisfactorily shown how they're connected.

2. In my opinion, I think it would've been better had you simply said you were bringing up a new topic for people to consider or you had a new question or something along those lines. In such a case you wouldn't have needed to labor to somehow connect your Odin example with the skywriting trope.

rockingwithhawking said...

"Many times I hear apologists declare that non-believers close their minds to the possibility of miracles"

That's because some (not all) "non-believers" do indeed close their minds to the possibility of miracles. For example, here's what "non-believer" Richard Lewontin once said:

[W]e have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.

"(a concept that, like the term 'supernatural', I still find to be incoherent)."

Speaking for myself, I too find "supernatural" "incoherent" in the sense that I don't see a clear and neatly demarcated border between the "natural" and the "supernatural" for starters.

"But isn't that what Christians (and other religious believers) do when they struggle to even imagine what it would take for them to believe that Odin exists, and not Yahweh?"

1. I don't "struggle to imagine what it would take" to believe Odin exists, or Thor, or Loki, or Zeus, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc. They're just absurd examples, for previously stated reasons (see above).

2. Similarly, I highly doubt you "struggle to imagine what it would take" to believe you live in a house that's really made of graham crackers and chocolate-coated marshmellows rather than wood and metal.

3. I'd imagine there's a more plausible case to be made for the Loch Ness monster or Big Foot. Or even UFOs or at least intelligence life elsewhere in the universe.

4. Anyway, short of believing in the God of the Bible, there are logically sound and valid philosophical arguments for the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God which transcends the universe. Even the notion of the Platonic God isn't as ridiculous as Odin. Not that I subscribe to these, since I'm of course a Christian, but I'm just pointing out that there are far more reasonable options than atheism. Atheism is intellectually bankrupt. Just see Victor Reppert's C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason or Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism for a good starting point.

steve said...

BTW, consider the irrationality of Cal's agenda, which he belatedly fessed up to:

"My purpose in commenting here is to point out those instances where I see hypocrisy, inconsistency, and sanctimony…"

i) This exposes his utter inability to know what's important. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that some Christians are hypocritical or sanctimonious.

Notice the misguided focus on Christians rather than Christianity. Whether or not some Christians are hypocritical, sanctimonious, &c. has absolutely no bearing on the truth-claims of Christianity. It has no bearing on whether God called Abraham, or delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage; no bearing on whether God became Incarnate in the person of Jesus, performed miracles, died to make atonement, and rose from the dead; no bearing on what happens to us after we die.

Instead, Cal has cast himself in the role of moral policeman, to see if he can catch any Christians sneaking 16 items through the 15 item or less express check stand.

ii) Moreover, his fixation is ridiculous on secular grounds. If atheism is true, then humans are just another temporary animal species in natural history. We will become extinct, just like every other species. When we die, it's as if we never existed.

So, from that standpoint, who cares whether some hominids are sanctimonious and hypocritical. Does the graveyard care? Does the universe care?

Andrew W said...

In a reductio ad absurdum, one grants both the premises and logic of an argument and demonstrates that it leads to conclusions that are unacceptable to the person proposing the argument.

Cal's Odin example is trying to show a similar inconsistency, but instead of granting the premises (evidence for Yahweh) he's inserting a different set of premises (evidence for Odin). At this point, it's up to him to demonstrate that there's no logical difference between one set of evidence and the other. I realise he disbelieves both sets of evidence, but that's a long way from showing that they are the same.

I note four main arguments for Christianity (there might be others, but these are IMO the most persuasive):

- philosophical necessity of God: divine simplicity / first cause
- explanation of morality: does explain our moral observations and justify moral oughts
- historical evidence
- personal experience

I dismiss the fourth from this discussion, because it's not positively amenable to logic. Your personal experience can convince you. And while your personal experience might sell a story that is appealing to others, it can't provide an argument because they are unable to test your experience.

Of the other three, I put it to Cal (or anyone) that there is no argument for Odin (for example) which can match or exceed Christian arguments in the other three categories. Odin does not satisfy divine simplicity, historical evidence is much weaker, and he doesn't explain (or even impact much) on human moral behaviour. If Cal wants to complain that arguments for Christianity are equally weak for arguments for Odin, then he needs to demonstrate this, and do it well, because Steve has easily provided counter-examples. (Note: to deny Cal's example, Steve doesn't even have to prove that arguments for God are true, just that they are materially different).


The actual atheist counter-charge to "evidence that God is true" is "evidence that God is false". That is, not "What would convince you of a position for which I believe there is no evidence?" but "what would convince you of a position for which I believe there is plentiful evidence?".

For Christianity, this is easy: it stands or falls on the resurrection and ascension of Christ. If Christ was not raised in body and then to heaven then the Christian has nothing. So there's your simple historical test.

OT Judaism is a bit trickier, but it too is based on God acting to choose first Abraham, then Moses. If you could prove that God did not manifest himself to Abraham and Moses, then OT Judaism is empty claims.

It's interesting to contrast this to Islam. Practically speaking, Islam lays claim to a philosophical God but not a historical God. If Mohammed does not exist and God didn't speak to him, then Mohammed is a fake, but it doesn't break Islam, because Islam relies primarily on a distant God, not a God who acted and continues to act.

The uniqueness and power of Christianity's claims are all to do with the particularity of God.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "1. The bit about "facetious illustration" and "glib, and short sighted" doesn't refer to the skywriting trope as such, but rather to the likely motives behind these atheists arguing they'd believe in God if he wrote John 3:16 in the sky for them to read.

So, it's not the skywriting example itself anymore, but atheists' motives now that are "facetious illustration" and "glib, and short sighted"? What?

Rock: "As Steve likewise said in the same paragraph, these atheists are looking for "a quick and easy way to dismiss [Christianity]."

I know that's a common apologist assertion. I'm looking to have it explained why it is, in this particular instance, that the skywriting example is a good demonstration of this. It seems to me that the skywriting example is an interesting exercise for everyone -- Christians, other believers, and atheists. What would it take? Why is that a trope?

rock: "2. However, even if you leave aside these atheists' motives, you'd still have to deal with the skywriting trope itself."

That's what I asked. Why is it a trope?

Did I miss your answer? Why is the sky writing example a trope?

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"So, it's not the skywriting example itself anymore, but atheists' motives now that are 'facetious illustration' and 'glib, and short sighted'? What?"

1. So you didn't read the original post? Steve stated it in his very post. It's not exactly a paragraph filled with arcane Egyptian hieroglyphics that you have to struggle to decipher.

2. Besides, as I said, even if you leave this aside, you'd still have to deal with the skywriting trope. That's the more central point.

"I know that's a common apologist assertion. I'm looking to have it explained why it is, in this particular instance, that the skywriting example is a good demonstration of this. It seems to me that the skywriting example is an interesting exercise for everyone -- Christians, other believers, and atheists. What would it take? Why is that a trope?"

1. Why don't you ask these atheists who originally came up with it in the first place? I presume you can contact them via email or some other means if you simply Google.

2. You have your priorities upside-down or otherwise mixed-up. You're focusing on peripheral issues (e.g. "why is the skywriting example a trope") rather than the central point Steve made in his original post in response to the skywriting trope.

"That's what I asked. Why is it a trope? Did I miss your answer? Why is the sky writing example a trope?"

It's a trope because it's a common device used by a subset of atheists.

But as I said, this is peripheral. I'm not sure why you're trying to major in minor points. Major in the majors such as Steve's response in his original post. Do you have a rebuttal to Steve's post?

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Many times I hear apologists declare that non-believers close their minds to the possibility of miracles (a concept that, like the term 'supernatural', I still find to be incoherent)."

1. If God exists, then what would be "incoherent" about "the possibility of miracles"? If God exists, "the possibility of miracles" would be more than merely "possible," for a God who could create the entire universe and all that this entails could perform miracles if he so wished.

2. To contrast the "supernatural" with the "natural" arguably presupposes that nature is our fundamental reality, while that which is beyond nature is not. However, why should that which is beyond nature (the "supernatural") be less than fundamental reality? Not that this is my belief, but it could just as well be the "supernatural" is our fundamental reality.

3. A better line of inquiry is not to start with distinctions between the natural and supernatural, but rather to ask something like, what if a particular phenomenon is not restricted solely to the physical? Can we investigate this phenomenon? If so, how can we investigate this phenomenon? For instance, we can't poke and prod it directly, so perhaps we would have to investigate its indirect effects.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Why is it a trope? Did I miss your answer? Why is the sky writing example a trope?"

It's an atheist trope because atheists call it an atheist trope. See Jerry Coyne's post here.

rockingwithhawking said...

On the one hand, Cal Metzger asked:

"Have you ever actually read a book by someone like Carl Sagan? Because it seems like you don't really understand the problem. At all."

On the other hand, Jerry Coyne writes:

"As far as I know, it [the skywriting trope] first appears in Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World as one of the things that God could have done to convince us of his existence (I think Sagan hypothesized God spelling out 'I am that I am in Hebrew')."

Sounds like Steve Hays is far more familiar with "book[s] by someone like Carl Sagan" than Cal Metzger is!

Cal Metzger said...

I don't have much time so I'm going to work through the above intermittently as I can:

Me: ""So, it's not the skywriting example itself anymore, but atheists' motives now that are 'facetious illustration' and 'glib, and short sighted'? What?""
Rock: "1. So you didn't read the original post? Steve stated it in his very post. It's not exactly a paragraph filled with arcane Egyptian hieroglyphics that you have to struggle to decipher."

I just don't understand how it is that anyone's motives should be "'facetious illustration" and "glib, and short sighted." I think it makes more sense that those words apply to the skywriting example.

Me: "What would it take? Why is that a trope?"
Steve: "Why don't you ask these atheists who originally came up with it in the first place? I presume you can contact them via email or some other means if you simply Google."

Yeah, by "trope" I understand that meaning to include that the thing doesn't work anymore. My understanding has been that the word "trope" is normally applied to tired language that people are accustomed to hearing but that doesn't have it's intended effect (anymore). So maybe it's just me, but when someone says trope, I understand 1. overused, and 2. ineffective (fallacious). It was the second part of that meaning that I was asking about.

Edgestow said...

I just googled "trope" and checked out a full page of hits. I didn't read anything negative about the term in any of them. It seems to be pretty much neutral. The only characteristics common to all tropes is repetition and some kind of symbolic, allegorical, or metaphoric imagery (take your pick).

Example: The ship of State.

"The Kingdom of Heaven" is a trope. Nothing negative there.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "2. Be that as it may, several Christians here have nevertheless responded to your Odin example: / a. As I said earlier, what makes you think Odin is analogous to Yahweh."

Odin's a person, he's immortal, he has supernatural powers, he is the most powerful supernatural being, etc. If you can't see how Odin could be analogous (which doesn't mean "identical") to Yahweh then I don't know what else to say.

rock: "b. Also, Joe Hinman responded to your Odin example, but you didn't offer a counter-argument to what he said. You just said you didn't understand him."

It's hard to offer a counter-argument when you don't understand what the argument is you're supposed to be countering. Do you disagree?

rock: "c. Finally (apologies if I've missed anyone) I see Steve Hays gave a thorough response to your Odin example."

steve's response talked brought up the standard apologist talking points but didn't answer my hypothetical question about miracles and Odin -- steve's response basically says "Yawheh is different than Odin in these ways." Um, I know they're not identical -- why should that prohibit responding to my hypothetical?

It looks to me like the OP takes some atheists to tasks for being close-minded for trying to respond to the question of what kind of hypothetical evidence (miraculous?) would suffice to convince that Yahweh was real. (As I've said, I'm not really sure what the complaint is about atheists and the answer to the question, and why this is supposed to be a problem for just atheists. Hence, my question about Odin.)

planks length said...

Odin:

Not eternal - he "began". Odin is the son of Bor and Bestla.
Not immortal - He will ultimately go down to defeat (along with the rest of the "gods") in the Götterdämmerung.
Not omnipotent - He can be (and ultimately will be) defeated.
Not omniscient - He learns (he sacrificed one of his eyes for wisdom). He needs to roam the world to find out what's going on.
Not the Creator - The universe predates his existence.
Not omnibenificent - He frequently sides with criminals, and often ignores justice and fair play in pursuit of his aims.

Yahweh:

Eternal, immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, the Creator of all thing visible and invisible, omnibenifient (all good, all loving).

And you expect people to find some sort of commonality here?

Why should that prohibit responding to my hypothetical?

You first: "What would it take to convince home buyers to consider moving into an apple tree?"

planks length said...

Actually, forget that question. The alternatives ought to be even more stark, such as:

"What would it take to convince home buyers to consider moving into a differential equation?"

That's how un-alike Odin and Yahweh are.

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"Odin's a person, he's immortal, he has supernatural powers, he is the most powerful supernatural being, etc. If you can't see how Odin could be analogous (which doesn't mean "identical") to Yahweh then I don't know what else to say."

i) Odin is not immortal.

ii) Moreover, even if he were immortal, it wouldn't be in the same sense that Yahweh is immortal. Physical immortality is hardly equivalent to the timeless eternality of an incorporeal being.

iii) And what makes him a "supernatural" being in the worliview of Nordic/Teutonic mythology?

"steve's response talked brought up the standard apologist talking points but didn't answer my hypothetical question about miracles and Odin -- steve's response basically says "Yawheh is different than Odin in these ways." Um, I know they're not identical -- why should that prohibit responding to my hypothetical?"

Either Cal is intellectually dishonest or intellectually challenged:

i) Yahweh and Odin are categorically different kinds of beings. Therefore, Cal's attempted analogy is vitiated by fundamental disanalogies.

ii) I also pointed out the difference in sources. Cal ignores that.

iii) I further pointed out evidence for Yahweh's existence that's wholly absent in the case of Odin.

Cal is either unable or unwilling to argue in good faith.

iv) And keep in mind that his question had nothing to do with the actual topic of the post.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I just don't understand how it is that anyone's motives should be 'facetious illustration' and 'glib, and short sighted.' I think it makes more sense that those words apply to the skywriting example."

1. Perhaps (I say with concern) that's because you suffer from a deficiency in basic reading comprehension.

2. Although to be fair it could just as well be that you're prevaricating or somesuch.

"Odin's a person, he's immortal, he has supernatural powers, he is the most powerful supernatural being, etc. If you can't see how Odin could be analogous (which doesn't mean 'identical') to Yahweh then I don't know what else to say."

1. Steve responded here.

2. I'd add it's not merely that Odin isn't analogous (negative), but Odin is (positively) disanalogous in many respects. For example, Odin had to trade an eye to gain wisdom. By contrast, the Bible's description of Yahweh is that he's the source of all wisdom. That's a significant disanalogy.

"It's hard to offer a counter-argument when you don't understand what the argument is you're supposed to be countering. Do you disagree?"

Yet you didn't ask Joe Hinman any relevant follow-up questions. You just acted gobsmacked. If you don't know what concepts like contingency and necessity refer to, or aren't aware of the ontological argument, which Hinman alluded to, then you should ask specific questions about them or do some of your own research before replying if you're a sincere truth seeker.

"steve's response talked brought up the standard apologist talking points but didn't answer my hypothetical question about miracles and Odin"

Actually, yes he did, and so did several other Christians. But either you can't absorb what they've said or you're attempting to advance a revised narrative.

"steve's response basically says 'Yawheh is different than Odin in these ways.'"

Which is completely apropos given what you've said thus far.

rockingwithhawking said...

"Um, I know they're not identical -- why should that prohibit responding to my hypothetical?"

1. Steve and others did respond to your "hypothetical" about Odin. We responded in detail and with specific points.

2. Neither Steve nor others who replied to you on this point including myself have ever said or assumed they had to be "identical." I suspect that's just your current ploy so you can dodge our responses. So you can conveniently hand waive our specific and direct responses to you in one fell swoop.

When we give you specific and detailed answers to demonstrate Odin and Yahweh aren't analogous, instead of addressing our specific and detailed responses, your response is, "Well, I didn't say they had to be identical, so everything else you said is irrelevant!"

In short, every time we answer one of your objections, despite the fact that they're unrelated to the original post, you move the goal posts.

3. NYC and Shangri-La are both cities. Of course, NYC is a real city in the real world, while Shangri-La is a fictitious city in a literary or mythical world.

Say a skeptic who doubts NYC's existence argues, "What would people who believe NYC is a real city accept as evidence that Shangri-La exists and is a real city? What would make you change your mind about Shangri-La existing?"

Say we respond with contrasts and comparisons between the sources of information about NYC and Shangri-La as well as the nature of each city, etc.

Say the skeptic's response is, "This response brought up the standard NYC-apologist's talking points, but didn't answer my hypothetical question about Shangri-La -- this response basically says 'NYC is different than Shangri-La in these ways.' Um, I know they're not identical -- why should that prohibit responding to my hypothetical?"

If this were the response, it'd be a laughable response, to say the least. And I would hope it's obvious why.

"It looks to me like the OP takes some atheists to tasks for being close-minded for trying to respond to the question of what kind of hypothetical evidence (miraculous?) would suffice to convince that Yahweh was real. (As I've said, I'm not really sure what the complaint is about atheists and the answer to the question, and why this is supposed to be a problem for just atheists. Hence, my question about Odin.)"

We've provided more than sufficient answers for you on multiple occasions now. Yet you keep reciting the same lines over and over again (ad nauseam). If you're still too thick to understand, then God help you.

B. Prokop said...

"then God help you"

Truer words were never posted to this website.

Cal Metzger said...

All right, there's way too much nonsense now for me to respond to properly, but I'll start and see if I can work my way back up.

me: "steve's response talked brought up the standard apologist talking points but didn't answer my hypothetical question about miracles and Odin -- steve's response basically says "Yawheh is different than Odin in these ways." Um, I know they're not identical -- why should that prohibit responding to my hypothetical?"
rock: "1. Steve and others did respond to your "hypothetical" about Odin. We responded in detail and with specific points."

I asked for an answer to my hypothetical question. As in, "There's no evidence that I would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god," or, "Here's the evidence I would accept."

Do you see an answer like that from anyone of you on this thread yet? As I've pointed out over and over and over, I see lots of caviling. Stuff like,

steve: "That [per the OP and miracles, my original questions about Odin and evidence] has precisely nothing to do with the topic of my post. So either Cal fails to grasp the issue or he is changing the subject because he can't cope with the actual question at issue."

And on and on and on.

I tried bringing you guys back to my question. I tried answering a barrage of questions thinking that you needed more explanation to address my question, and now a seeming unending litany of baseless complaints and silly aspersions (prevaricating, etc.).

But the fact remains that throughout this thread (unless I missed it in what has become a pretty unwieldy set of responses from you two), I don't see either of you directly answering my question in one of the two ways I described above. As in:

1. "There's no evidence that I would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god," or,
2. "Here's the evidence I would accept."

I wonder why that is.







planks length said...

Cal,

Asking for evidence that Odin is the "one supreme [G]od" is like asking for evidence that my bicycle is a Health Insurance Plan. You don't seem to grasp that the two are infinitely different entities; that what you are asking for is totally incoherent. The very request makes no sense. It's akin to asking "How high is red?" There's no way to even begin answering such a meaningless question.

So go ahead, ask away till the cows come home. Whatever answer you might get would be as meaningful as "Red is twelve miles high."

I wonder why that is.

That's why. Now you don't have to wonder.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Do you see an answer like that from anyone of you on this thread yet?"

Yes, there are extremely reasonable and sufficient answers to your off-topic question about Odin in this very thread.

"As I've pointed out over and over and over, I see lots of caviling. I tried bringing you guys back to my question. I tried answering a barrage of questions thinking that you needed more explanation to address my question, and now a seeming unending litany of baseless complaints and silly aspersions (prevaricating, etc.)."

Yes, you keep repeating yourself on this point. You keep throwing up your hands in the air as if no one other than you "gets it." But just because you say no one else "gets it" doesn't mean that's in fact true.

Anyway, the important point is people can read our answers to your off-topic question, and judge for themselves.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I don't see either of you directly answering my question in one of the two ways I described above. As in: 1. There's no evidence that I would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god, or, 2. Here's the evidence I would accept."

It's worth noting just because someone frames a question a certain way doesn't mean one should answer a question in exactly the way in which it was framed.

For example, some people like to ask trick questions. Or leading questions. Or loaded questions. Whatever. It'd be foolish to answer such questions in the way in which it's expected by the questioner, because it'd play right into their hands.

Say if someone asks you, "Have you stopped stealing yet?" even though you've never stolen anything from anyone. If you answer with a simple yes or no, then you've already lost, because you've admitted guilt despite your actual innocence.

Instead, what you should do is challenge the assumption (of guilt) behind the question. You could reply, "I have never stolen anything from anyone at any time."

Similarly, we don't have to answer your question in the way you expect us to answer your question, given your question is a question which attempts to trap us. Rather, we reserve the right to challenge the assumptions behind your question, and to answer in a way which is actually better in terms of fairness than the way in which you posed the question.

steve said...

i) One of Cal's many intellectual impediments is that he doesn't know the right questions to ask. He's attempting to plant trick questions to trap Christians.

Suppose Cal walks into a department store, walks down an aisle, and stares at a row of spoons. A sales clerk asks Cal if he's finding what he's looking for. Cal asks for advice on the best spoon to open a tin can.

The clerk politely explains to Cal that a spoon is the wrong tool to open a tin can. If that's what Cal wants, then he needs a can opener. The clerk points him to a row of manual and electric can openers, and offers to make recommendations.

But Cal becomes suspicious. Why is the clerk avoiding his question? Must be the clerk is "afraid" to answer his question about the best spoon to open a tin can.

ii) Apropos (i), what Cal hasn't figured out yet is that when he postulates Odin, and asks what evidence we'd accept for Odin, there are in-built restrictions on what would count as evidence for Odin's existence or divinity. That's because Nordic/Teutonic mythology defines Odin as a certain kind of being with particular attributes. Hence, Odin cannot, by definition, do anything that exceeds the abilities of his design specifications.

According to Nordic/Teutonic mythology, Odin is a mortal being. A physical being. A humanoid "god" who came into existence. At a later date he will be killed by Fenrir the wolf.

iii) It's like asking, what evidence I'd accept that Superman is made of rubber. Short answer: none.

Cal then exclaims that I have a double standard. I have fallen into his trap!

But, no, the reason I say that is because Superman wouldn't be Superman if he were made of rubber. What Superman can do or be is limited by the Superman canon. He has a core identity, core attributes.

It's not about evidential truth, but analytical truth. Like asking what evidence would convince me that a bachelor is married. That's a contradiction in terms.

It's up to Cal to explain what kind of evidence he thinks Odin would be capable of offering for his nature and existence.

iv) Finally, Cal has no sense of what's important. He fritters away his life trying to bait Christians into arguments about unicorns, magical bean stalks and Nordic gods, rather than examining the evidence for something truly important and consequential like God's existence, the historical Jesus, and the occurrence of miracles.

B. Prokop said...

"[Cal] fritters away his life trying to bait Christians into arguments about unicorns, magical bean stalks and Nordic gods"

I know. That's why it literally pains me to read his comments. So sad.

Cal, you really ought to swear off commenting on the internet for 2 or 3 weeks, pick up a copy of G.K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man, slowly and thoughtfully read it through to the end... and then spend 3 days doing nothing but thinking about it and re-reading the most important passages.

I guarantee you won't regret it.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Victor Reppert said...

It is interesting how many atheists manifest, to the nth degree, all of the intellectual characteristics of the religious fundamentalists they decry.

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"Many times I hear apologists declare that non-believers close their minds to the possibility of miracles (a concept that, like the term "supernatural", I still find to be incoherent)."

So, according to Cal, when atheists classify themselves as naturalists, they have no clear idea of what naturalism means. After all, naturalism is defined in relation to supernaturalism, and vice versa: these are correlative concepts. If the concept of "supernatural" is incoherent, where does that leave the concept of "natural"?

It's essential to atheism to be able to demarcate what's natural from what's supernatural.

Likewise, if the concept of miracle is incoherent, does that mean atheist have no clear conception of what it means to deny the occurrence of miracles?

Cal's statements are counterproductive to his own cause. Is he operating with some old version of logical positivism?

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "It is interesting how many atheists manifest, to the nth degree, all of the intellectual characteristics of the religious fundamentalists they decry."

This shouldn't be surprising. Not believing in any gods doesn't mean you're free of human foibles, it just means that you've realized that there's no good reason to believe in any gods. We all (including religious believers and non-believers) are humans, and we all suffer from human biases, etc.

Still, I have stated here that I am comment because I feel compelled to oppose inconsistency, hypocrisy, and sanctimony. I assume you mean that I show these characteristics to the nth degree.

Do you know what I appreciate? Being shown where I behave in these ways, as opposed to being accused (as I am upthread) of things like this without showing examples or demonstrating how it is that I am behaving this way.

---------------

On a similar vein:

VR (From the OP): "Of course some atheists have said that even if God were to skywrite, they still wouldn't believe."

I assume that this is you decrying atheists for being close-minded to the possibility of any kind of evidence (a miracle?) getting them to change their mind. It appears that you are suggesting this apologist refrain: "You see -- atheists set an unreasonably high standard for the kind of evidence that would get them to change their mind, and when pressed they admit that nothing would change their mind. Atheists are the real ones who are close-minded!"

But when asked how it is that the gallery here would behave differently from the close-minded atheists you mention in your OP, we see that (surprise!) none of the Christians here are open-minded enough to imagine what evidence would convince them that Odin (and not Yahweh) is real and supreme among Gods, etc.

So, it looks like atheists are bad because you imagine they say:
1. "There's no evidence that I would accept that Yahweh exists and is the one supreme god," or,
2. "Here's the evidence I would accept and it's completely unreasonable."

But Christians are better, because as the comments to my question here demonstrate, they all basically say:
1. "There's no evidence that I would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god."

That seems inconsistent and hypocritical. I still don't see how it can be seen as anything other.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: ""Many times I hear apologists declare that non-believers close their minds to the possibility of miracles (a concept that, like the term "supernatural", I still find to be incoherent)."
Steve: "So, according to Cal, when atheists classify themselves as naturalists, they have no clear idea of what naturalism means."

Your statement above does not follow; by "natural" I understand people to mean that knowledge of the external (intersubjective) world is only possible through those things that are examinable. On the other hand, I don't understand what people mean when they say "supernatural." This has no impact on what people mean when they say "natural." This is straightforward stuff.

Steve: "After all, naturalism is defined in relation to supernaturalism, and vice versa: these are correlative concepts."

Not as I understand it. By natural, I understand people to mean that knowledge of the external (intersubjective) world is only possible those things that are examinable. I don't see any correlation to supernaturalism, because no one has been able to coherently explain what supernatural is supposed to mean, let alone how it should relate to those things that are examinable.

Steve: "If the concept of "supernatural" is incoherent, where does that leave the concept of "natural"?"

Um, where it was before. Waiting to hear from advocates for something called "supernatural" to explain what it misses about intersubjective reality and those things that are examinable.

Victor Reppert said...

It doesn't seem as if Odin, as understood in the Norse mythology, could be coherently described as the supreme God.

planks length said...

But Christians are better, because as the comments to my question here demonstrate, they all basically say:

1. "There's no evidence that I would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme [G]od."

That seems inconsistent and hypocritical. I still don't see how it can be seen as anything other.


Hmm.. It seems that Cal didn't bother to read my posting from January 28, 2016 9:49 AM, so I'll just have to re-post it:

Odin:

Not eternal - he "began". Odin is the son of Bor and Bestla.
Not immortal - He will ultimately go down to defeat (along with the rest of the "gods") in the Götterdämmerung.
Not omnipotent - He can (and ultimately will) be defeated.
Not omniscient - He learns. He sacrificed one of his eyes for wisdom. He needs to roam the world to find out what's going on.
Not the Creator - The universe predates his existence.
Not omnibenificent - He often ignores justice and fair play in pursuit of his aims.

Yahweh:

Eternal, immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, the Creator of all thing visible and invisible, omnibenifient (all good, all loving).

So tell me, Cal. How are we supposed to provide evidence that Odin is "the one supreme God" when he doesn't fit the description? That would be like trying to find evidence that Victor is a bicycle tire.

Cal Metzger said...

planks: "So tell me, Cal. How are we supposed to provide evidence that Odin is "the one supreme God" when he doesn't fit the description?"

I haven't asked you to provide evidence.

I have asked you what kind of evidence you would accept.

This is elementary stuff. I seriously don't understand why a thought experiment like this would flummox everyone as it has. I am truly fascinated by how no one seems able to even consider what I ask.

planks length said...

I have asked you what kind of evidence you would accept.

Well then, Cal, what kind of evidence would you accept that Victor is a bicycle tire?

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Do you know what I appreciate? Being shown where I behave in these ways, as opposed to being accused (as I am upthread) of things like this without showing examples or demonstrating how it is that I am behaving this way."

Here is an example of either your intellectual slackness or your duplicity:

"we see that (surprise!) none of the Christians here are open-minded enough to imagine what evidence would convince them that Odin (and not Yahweh) is real and supreme among Gods, etc."

This is despite the fact that we more than sufficiently addressed your (off-topic) question about Odin. Several times by several different Christians.

Here is another example of the same:

"But Christians are better, because as the comments to my question here demonstrate, they all basically say: 1. 'There's no evidence that I would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god.' That seems inconsistent and hypocritical. I still don't see how it can be seen as anything other."

Of course, this is not what we said, but rather Cal's spin on what we said. Anyone can simply scroll up, read, and verify this for themselves.

"Your statement above does not follow;"

Actually, it does, but you say it doesn't because you don't understand Steve's point or you're dissembling. Hey, another example for you, by the way! :-)

"by 'natural' I understand people to mean that knowledge of the external (intersubjective) world is only possible through those things that are examinable."

What do you mean by "examinable"? Do you mean via the standard scientific method or similar?

If so, then there are plenty of things which aren't "examinable" (e.g. numbers, thoughts, morality).

By the way, this is another example of where Cal Metzger speaks awfully similar to im-skeptical!

"On the other hand, I don't understand what people mean when they say 'supernatural.' This has no impact on what people mean when they say 'natural.'"

Steve explained how "natural" and "supernatural" are correlative concepts.

"I don't see any correlation to supernaturalism, because no one has been able to coherently explain what supernatural is supposed to mean, let alone how it should relate to those things that are examinable."

For example, here is how an atheist of some stripe explains it: "Essentially the natural and supernatural are flipsides of the same concept. The supernatural is defined as outside or transcendent of nature. Naturalism entails a formal belief that nature is all there is."

"I seriously don't understand why a thought experiment like this would flummox everyone as it has. I am truly fascinated by how no one seems able to even consider what I ask."

Here's a final example for now of your intellectual ineptitude or dissimulation. We've more than sufficiently answered you about Odin, yet you act as if no one has.

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"But when asked how it is that the gallery here would behave differently from the close-minded atheists you mention in your OP, we see that (surprise!) none of the Christians here are open-minded enough to imagine what evidence would convince them that Odin (and not Yahweh) is real and supreme among Gods, etc."

That was the trap Cal set. I didn't step into the trap. I stepped around the trap. And I'm not the only one.

We've explained to Cal in some detail why his comparison is equivocal. Not surprisingly, he can't refute the explanation. So he simply pushes the rewind button on his prerecorded apologetic, and repeats himself. He's incapable of thinking through an issue. He's just a tape recorder.

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"By natural, I understand people to mean that knowledge of the external (intersubjective) world is only possible those things that are examinable. I don't see any correlation to supernaturalism, because no one has been able to coherently explain what supernatural is supposed to mean, let alone how it should relate to those things that are examinable."

Poor Cal never misses a chance to miss the point:

i) "Natural" and "supernatural" are antonyms. Mutually definable. Contraries. If you know what one means, you should know what the other means. If you don't know what one means, then you don't know what the other means. If you don't know what natural is not, if you don't what's inconsistent with natural, then you don't know what natural is.

ii) Cal doesn't care about "examinable" things. He goes out of his way to avoid examinable evidence for miracles.

iii) Notice that he dodged the question of how he can deny the occurrence of miracles unless he has a clear concept of what they are.

iv) Many metaphysicians believe in "unexaminable" things like abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible worlds).

v) How does Cal know there's an external, intersubjectival reality? Presumably, he's a physicalist. In that case, he can have no direct knowledge of the world. Rather, his information about the world is filtered through sensory perception and how the brain interprets sensory input. He can't compare that to what the world is really like, apart from sensory perception and interpretation.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "It doesn't seem as if Odin, as understood in the Norse mythology, could be coherently described as the supreme God."

It doesn't seem that skywriting, if properly understood, could be described as evidence for Yawheh.

------------------------

Do you see what I'm pointing out yet?

------------------------

Also, whatever pre-existing mythology you know around Odin is unimportant -- maybe the early mythology got some of it wrong, the Norsemen weren't ready for all the information about Odin yet and now new information can be revealed, etc. Surely you've heard arguments like this?

In the scenario of the OP, there wasn't skywriting, then there was. In my scenario, you hadn't thought that Odin was real or the supreme god before, but presumably (since Christians are NOT the ones whose minds are closed to new, miraculous event) some new information could come to life whereas you'd now understand that Odin is real, that he is the supreme among all gods, and that is how the universe is ordered.

This seems like quite the dilemma for you guys.

planks length said...

This seems like quite the dilemma for you guys.

Or not.

steve said...

If the preexisting mythology about Odin is unimportant, then what would make this evidence about Odin? Seems like quite a dilemma for Cal.

Cal Metzger said...

Houscleaning:

steve: "i) "Natural" and "supernatural" are antonyms. Mutually definable. Contraries. If you know what one means, you should know what the other means. If you don't know what one means, then you don't know what the other means. If you don't know what natural is not, if you don't what's inconsistent with natural, then you don't know what natural is. "

So, by your requirement above, supernatural means the contrary of natural. If that's all you mean by supernatural, I'm fine with that.

steve: "ii) Cal doesn't care about "examinable" things. He goes out of his way to avoid examinable evidence for miracles."

This is false. This is typical of your histrionic writing. Whatever.

steve: "iii) Notice that he dodged the question of how he can deny the occurrence of miracles unless he has a clear concept of what they are."

I didn't dodge it. I told you it didn't make any sense to me, and I didn't see a question in it.

For the record, here's is the "question" you wanted me to sort out:

"Yes but that's like saying I am contingent and God is not contingent thyerefo0re I ma better at being contingent than God is. thus ...Odin is contingent. Odin will always be contingent. / No contingency is worthy of the appellation "God." Therefore Odin is not worthy to be God and God is."

That's just a mess. So, it's not enough for me to ask questions and respond to questions, you also want me to re-form babbling assertions into questions so that I can follow up on something that I can't even make sense of? Okay, that's what you think.

steve: "iv) Many metaphysicians believe in "unexaminable" things like abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible worlds)."

Metaphysicians believe in things. And this is supposed to affect me how? (Note, I think the reality of number is an interesting question, but it appears to be a meaningless one.

steve: "v) How does Cal know there's an external, intersubjectival reality? Presumably, he's a physicalist. In that case, he can have no direct knowledge of the world. Rather, his information about the world is filtered through sensory perception and how the brain interprets sensory input. He can't compare that to what the world is really like, apart from sensory perception and interpretation."

Like you, I assume the external world exists as an axiom. But this is unrelated stuff, really --as if the reality of numbers, and the existence of an external world, are really pertinent to this discussion.

Here's what I think: I think that you believe this discussion is about trying to one-up me, to try and catch me, to try and assert some imagined superiority on your part. And that is why your comments are so predictable, and long, and kind of boring. Which is a shame, because at its heart I do think the question of what it would take for any of us to change our minds is a very interesting and important question.







Andrew W said...

To put it another way: Provide credible evidence that convinces you that Odin is real that you think Christians are systematically denying, then we'll talk.

The claims "there's abundant evidence, but refuse to accept it" and "there's no evidence, but you refuse to accept it" are not meaningfully equivalent (except, apparently, to Cal).

Andrew W said...

Incidentally, this is the same issue as with Russell's Teapot. Could such an entity exist? The correct answer is not "yes" or "no" but "who cares?". The hypothetical teapot is not making claims on our lives, nor is anyone presenting evidence that it exists and wishes to make such claims. The fact that I can't prove the non-existence of something whose existence has no potential relevance to my life isn't a big deal.

If someone says "X is true, and here's why", then there's a case to answer. If I go on to say "Not only do I not believe X, I don't think there's any evidence you could present me that would make me believe X" then it's reasonable for them to push further.

However, if someone says "X is false; what would make you believe it?" then my answer is legitimately "I don't care; you're talking nonsense". At this point, you're asking me why I won't take seriously an absence of evidence (evidence that you yourself agree is absent, or at least are not presenting).

PS: As for Odin, the first part of "what evidence would I accept?" is someone running a credible argument - that they themselves believe - that he exists and there is abundant evidence for this. Until someone does that - until someone actually instantiates a meaningful claim that has potential impact - I don't feel any need to get more specific.

Cal Metzger said...

andrew: "To put it another way: Provide credible evidence that convinces you that Odin is real that you think Christians are systematically denying, then we'll talk."

If you can't think of any evidence that would convince you that Odin is real then you leave yourself open to the charge that nothing would change your mind.

andrew: "The claims "there's abundant evidence, but refuse to accept it" and "there's no evidence, but you refuse to accept it" are not meaningfully equivalent (except, apparently, to Cal)."

I haven't written either of the phrases you quote above.

I have just been trying to see if anyone here can show us what someone who hasn't closed their mind to the possibility of miracles should expect to see in order to believe that Odin is real. Would the revealing of a previously secret Norse sect, sworn to secrecy until now, and with ancient documents, describing how Odin once walked the earth then flew back to heaven do it? Would Odin appearing before you do it? Would it have to be a miracle like skywriting?

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"It doesn't seem that skywriting, if properly understood, could be described as evidence for Yawheh."

As we've repeatedly pointed out, this is in stark opposition to what a subset of atheists have said. See Jerry Coyne's post - which, I remind you, I have already informed you about several days ago here.

"Also, whatever pre-existing mythology you know around Odin is unimportant -- maybe the early mythology got some of it wrong, the Norsemen weren't ready for all the information about Odin yet and now new information can be revealed, etc. Surely you've heard arguments like this?"

Speaking for myself, I've only heard this argument from Cal, because I'm not sure anyone else would use such a self-defeating argument! :-)

If pre-existing mythology about Odin is "unimportant" or "wrong," then there's precious little evidence for Odin. Hence Cal himself has concluded about his very own argument that "There's no evidence that Cal would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god." In other words, Cal has defeated his own argument! :-)

"the Norsemen weren't ready for all the information about Odin yet and now new information can be revealed"

If "new information [about Odin] can be revealed," then Cal has either concluded "1. There's no [current] evidence that Cal would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god," because such information doesn't yet exist, or "2. Here's the [current] evidence but it's completely unimportant or wrong." Once again, Cal defeats Cal. Go, Cal! :-)

"In the scenario of the OP, there wasn't skywriting, then there was. In my scenario, you hadn't thought that Odin was real or the supreme god before, but presumably (since Christians are NOT the ones whose minds are closed to new, miraculous event) some new information could come to life [sic] whereas you'd now understand that Odin is real, that he is the supreme among all gods, and that is how the universe is ordered."

Glad you're finally admitting your Odin "scenario" is not like the skywriting "scenario." That it's off-topic like we've been pointing out. I guess that's some sort of an improvement! :-)

"That's just a mess. So, it's not enough for me to ask questions and respond to questions, you also want me to re-form babbling assertions into questions so that I can follow up on something that I can't even make sense of? Okay, that's what you think."

The bit you cite wasn't something I originally brought up, but the relevant term was pretty easy to pick out - i.e. contingency. Have you never heard of the term before in relation to arguments about God's existence, etc.? If not, this explains your ignorance. If you're ignorant about the term, then why don't you educate yourself about it by asking questions and/or doing your own research? That's the point. Why is this so difficult for you to grasp?

rockingwithhawking said...

"Metaphysicians believe in things. And this is supposed to affect me how? (Note, I think the reality of number is an interesting question, but it appears to be a meaningless one."

That's because you can't follow your own argument. You originally said, "knowledge of the external (intersubjective) world is only possible through those things that are examinable."

Steve in part replied, which you yourself quote: "Many metaphysicians believe in 'unexaminable' things like abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible worlds)."

Yet you conclude by saying "Metaphysicians believe in things. And this is supposed to affect me how?" Really?! Hence I conclude you can't even follow your own argument.

The emphasis is not on metaphysicians as such, but rather that there are "unexaminable" things such as numbers. This directly contradicts your original point that "knowledge of the external world" is "only possible through those things that are examinable" (my emphasis), because we can have knowledge of the external world through "unexaminable" things like numbers.

"Like you, I assume the external world exists as an axiom. But this is unrelated stuff, really --as if the reality of numbers, and the existence of an external world, are really pertinent to this discussion."

The point is Steve's point overturns your original point. But for whatever reason(s) you can't or won't grasp this.

"Here's what I think: I think that you believe this discussion is about trying to one-up me, to try and catch me, to try and assert some imagined superiority on your part."

Thanks for your opinion, but as has been evidenced directly above as well as throughout this entire discussion, you aren't a reasonable and/or reasoning sort of a person. You can't even follow your own arguments. You're either too slow to understand the arguments and counterarguments (including, again, your own) and/or you're refusing to argue in good faith. Either way, your "opinion" is not exactly a very valuable opinion since it's so unreasonable and/or unreasoning.

"And that is why your comments are so predictable, and long, and kind of boring. Which is a shame, because at its heart I do think the question of what it would take for any of us to change our minds is a very interesting and important question."

We answer your questions, in various and sundry ways no less, yet you keep repeating the same questions over and over again, ad nauseam. Sounds like you're the parrot. Squawk! :-)

"I have just been trying to see if anyone here can show us what someone who hasn't closed their mind to the possibility of miracles should expect to see in order to believe that Odin is real. Would the revealing of a previously secret Norse sect, sworn to secrecy until now, and with ancient documents, describing how Odin once walked the earth then flew back to heaven do it?"

Why do you think a "secret Norse sect...with ancient documents" would convince you that Odin exists? Are you an Indiana Jones or Da Vinci Code character?

"Would Odin appearing before you do it?"

Would Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League appearing before you and telling you atheism is false convince you that atheism is false?

What about if Captain America, Spidey, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the rest of rest of the Avengers appeared before you and told you the same? Would that make you believe that atheism is false?

"Would it have to be a miracle like skywriting?"

According to atheists like Jerry Coyne and Carl Sagan, yes, skywriting would convince them that Yahweh exists.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I have just been trying to see if anyone here can show us what someone who hasn't closed their mind to the possibility of miracles should expect to see in order to believe that Odin is real. Would the revealing of a previously secret Norse sect, sworn to secrecy until now, and with ancient documents, describing how Odin once walked the earth then flew back to heaven do it? Would Odin appearing before you do it? Would it have to be a miracle like skywriting?"

1. At the risk of beating a dead horse, Cal, I don't take your Odin example seriously because it's like asking if there's anything that can convince me that SpongeBob SquarePants exists and is God. Given SpongeBob is a blatantly fictitious cartoon character, it'd be asking an absurd question. Yet that's what you're doing with Odin. Given Odin is a blatantly fictitious mythological character, you're asking an absurd question.

But, you ask, what if there were a secret SpongeBob sect, sworn to secrecy until now, and with ancient documents, describing how SpongeBob once walked the Earth, then flew back to heaven? What if SpongeBob appeared before you, would that make you believe? Would it have to be a miracle like SpongeBob writing "I'm SpongeBob and I work at Krusty Krab as a fry cook" in the sky?

2. Similarly, it's like how some Star Wars fanatics have started the Church of Jediism. What if Anakin Skywalker appeared in front of you as a Force ghost, Cal? Would that make you believe that Star Wars is real, that the Force is real, that Wookiee warriors and Sith lords and Jedi knights are real? That the Star Wars movies actually happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away? That they're documentaries? Would you exclaim like Han Solo, "It's true - all of it"?

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "It doesn't seem that skywriting, if properly understood, could be described as evidence for Yawheh."

steve: "As we've repeatedly pointed out, this is in stark opposition to what a subset of atheists have said. See Jerry Coyne's post - which, I remind you, I have already informed you about several days ago here. "

Take it up with Victor -- I was showing him that if his objection works for skywriting about a god he doesn't believe in, then the same objection can be applied to the god he does believe in. Btw, I explained myself upthread prior -- that I wasn't objecting to the word trope as meaning common, I was objecting to the word trope because I thought it also meant ineffective. And I did look at the Jerry Coyne link -- I don't know why you thought I didn't, nor why I should have remarked on having seen it.)

me: "Also, whatever pre-existing mythology you know around Odin is unimportant -- maybe the early mythology got some of it wrong, the Norsemen weren't ready for all the information about Odin yet and now new information can be revealed, etc. Surely you've heard arguments like this?"
steve: "Speaking for myself, I've only heard this argument from Cal, because I'm not sure anyone else would use such a self-defeating argument! :-) "

I hear a version of it all the time (in response to why nothing in the bible reveals knowledge unknown to the people of that time). Here's an example from the website coldcasechristianity: "In order to illustrate this point, imagine yourself as Jesus. You’ve got three years to demonstrate your Divinity to those you live with in the 1st Century. Think about what approach you might take. You could reveal yet unknown scientific facts to your audience, but would this accomplish your goal? If you describe the role of DNA or the anatomy of the solar system, how would your 1st Century audience confirm your statements? Surely claims of this nature would be unimpressive to a world without the ability to assess their veracity. In fact, any combination of such claims with other demonstrations of Deity would only serve to dilute the power of your message. There are ways you could establish your Deity in front of such a 1st Century audience, but obscure, esoteric claims are perhaps the least effective approach."

Does it really take too much imagination to see that an argument that Christian apologists employ (that audiences in the bible were only given information in a way they could process, even though some of it like the age of the earth, etc. is flat out wrong) could also be employed by devotees of Odin? And even if it does require too much imagination for you to see that, why does it matter when we're talking about hypothetical evidence like skywriting, where new information potentially changes our minds about what we thought we knew?

At this point I think I've responded to more than enough of your preening. It's obvious that you're just trying to rack up accusations and undeserved sneers. I might go on later to address the rest of your comments (which at a glance seem as specious as your prior ones) but you seem to be devolving and at some point these exercises stop being productive for me.

Cheers.


Cal Metzger said...

steve: "If "new information [about Odin] can be revealed," then Cal has either concluded "1. There's no [current] evidence that Cal would accept that Odin exists and is the one supreme god," because such information doesn't yet exist, or "2. Here's the [current] evidence but it's completely unimportant or wrong." Once again, Cal defeats Cal. Go, Cal! :-)"

I can't tell why you can't understand what it seems so simple to me. I'll try and say it a different way, one more time. If you don't understand it after this I don't think there's much more that I can do.

We are talking about what it would take to convince you (or anyone else, including me) that Odin exists and is the one supreme god. This a) assumes you don't already believe that Odin exists (similar to how, in the OP, atheists don't believe in Yahweh), and b) any new information you can imagine could come to light (including the skywriting that some think should convince atheists to believe in Yahweh).

My scenarios doesn't involve the old evidence for Odin (which is known to be unpersuasive), but the new evidence that could come to light. I am not submitting the new evidence, I am asking, similar to the question posed by the OP, what kind of new evidence would be needed (skywriting? more? what?).

Victor has basically said there's no new evidence that would convince him. I have pointed out that this would seem close-minded, in the way that atheists are accused of being close-minded because, as the saying goes, no evidence would convince them.

My observation so far is basically this:

1) the Christian commenters here struggle to even imagine evidence that could supplant their current god-belief.

And that can be seen, over and over here, in the way that the Christian commenters here search for ways that my question, which is really just an invitation for them to demonstrate their open-mindedness about their god-belief, cannot be made to work, is a non-starter, etc.

Why do I care? Because this seems inconsistent with the notion that it is Christians (and other believers) who are the flexible, open-minded thinkers, and that it is supposed to be skeptics who are close-minded concerning evidence that would change their minds about their god beliefs.

Cal Metzger said...

I thought it should be obvious that the response below doesn't address my question about evidence but I'll go on to explicate in case this wasn't clear.

Hinman (per what new evidence would get him to change his mind about Odin): "Easy, in fact obvious. If he could be: eternal / necessary / ground of being / that which nothing greater than could be conceived"

This fails to offer what I asked for -- evidence. It just looks like god-definitions used in the arguments popularized by the Scholastics. And as Hinman makes clear after this list, he doesn't really mean that this is the kind of "evidence" that could offered by Odin or Odin believers, because "There can only be one and the job is already taken."

planks length said...

Cal,

Since you have so far failed to understand why your challenge question is totally off the mark, I will try to enlighten you one last time. You've asked what sort of evidence would convince a Christian that Odin is the One True God. Well.

It would have to be the sort of evidence that shows Odin to be eternal, immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and the Creator of all things visible and invisible. That is the sort of evidence that would convince any Christian.

But then, why not just call Him Yahweh?

So do you now finally see why your question is meaningless?

Cal Metzger said...

planks: "It would have to be the sort of evidence that shows Odin to be eternal, immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and the Creator of all things visible and invisible. That is the sort of evidence that would convince any Christian."

Let's start with the first one -- evidence for Odin's eternalness: Odin appears and points to the sky, where it is written, "Odin is eternal."

Would that do it? I doubt it would. So, what is the evidence you would accept demonstrating that Odin is eternal?

steve said...

Cal Metzger said...

"I didn't dodge it. I told you it didn't make any sense to me, and I didn't see a question in it. "

Cal has yet to explain what it means to deny a miracle. How can he deny what he can't define?

"Metaphysicians believe in things. And this is supposed to affect me how? (Note, I think the reality of number is an interesting question, but it appears to be a meaningless one."

Cal is unable to follow his own argument. I was responding to him on his own grounds, by citing examples of things we can't directly examine, yet there's good reason to believe they exist. Many metaphysicians believe in abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible words) due to their indispensable explanatory power.

"Also, whatever pre-existing mythology you know around Odin is unimportant…"

Odin was Cal's own example. Who is Odin? Odin is a character in Nordic/Teutonic mythology. That's the referent of Odin.

Cal's example depends on the identity of Odin. If the preexisting mythology of Odin is "unimportant," then "Odin" has no identifiable referent.

"-- maybe the early mythology got some of it wrong, the Norsemen weren't ready for all the information about Odin yet and now new information can be revealed, etc. Surely you've heard arguments like this?"

Odin is just a character in Nordic/Teutonic mythology. That's all he ever was. It's not like King Arthur.

And why should we play along with Cal's silly revision? He starts with a dumb example. When his example fails, he tries to retrofit his dumb example. It's such a waste of time. He can't bring himself to discuss anything serious. It's like debating the color of Russell's celestial teapot.

steve said...

Cont. "Odin is contingent. Odin will always be contingent. / No contingency is worthy of the appellation 'God.' Therefore Odin is not worthy to be God and God is."

That's not what I actually said, but as a summary, that will suffice.

"That's just a mess. So, it's not enough for me to ask questions and respond to questions, you also want me to re-form babbling assertions into questions so that I can follow up on something that I can't even make sense of? Okay, that's what you think."

It's true that Cal is chronically unable to keep up with the argument. He can't even follow his own argument. He originally said:

"What could Odin do that you can't explain as being better assigned to Yahweh, and that would make you change your mind about Odin existing?"

A contingent being can only do what a contingent being is capable of doing. By definition, Odin is a contingent being. Some actions are inherently impossible for a contingent being. He has finite abilities.

And by definition, everything is contingent on Yahweh while Yahweh is contingent on nothing. Therefore, Yahweh could do things that Odin can't. That simply follows from the respective concepts of Odin and Yahweh.

"I have just been trying to see if anyone here can show us what someone who hasn't closed their mind to the possibility of miracles should expect to see in order to believe that Odin is real."

Cal is never able to understand any correction even when it's patiently explained to him. This isn't a question of being closed-minded. Cal gave the example of Odin. Well, Odin is a mythological character with specific attributes. He has a backstory. By definition, there can't be any evidence for Odin's ability that contradicts the concept of Odin. Just as there can't be any evidence that H2O is lead. By definition, H2O can't be lead.

"Would the revealing of a previously secret Norse sect, sworn to secrecy until now, and with ancient documents, describing how Odin once walked the earth then flew back to heaven do it?"

Not unless there was evidence that the ancient Nordic documents were true.

"Here's what I think: I think that you believe this discussion is about trying to one-up me, to try and catch me, to try and assert some imagined superiority on your part."

That's ironic given Cal's repeated admission that he's trying to catch Christians in hypocrisy.

"And that is why your comments are so predictable, and long, and kind of boring. Which is a shame, because at its heart I do think the question of what it would take for any of us to change our minds is a very interesting and important question."

Aside from the fact that in this thread, Cal repeatedly confuses me with another commenter, if atheism were true, then what it would take for any of us to change our minds is unimportant. If atheism were true, then whatever we believe or disbelieve, do or not do, is utterly unimportant in the great scheme of things.

planks length said...

Would that do it? I doubt it would. So, what is the evidence you would accept demonstrating that Odin is eternal?

You still don't get it. For Odin to be eternal, he would no longer be Odin. Among the attributes of Odin is that he is the son of Bor and Bestla, and that the universe preexisted him. If those things are not so, then you are no longer talking about Odin.

Think, man, think!

Cal Metzger said...

planks: "You still don't get it. For Odin to be eternal, he would no longer be Odin. Among the attributes of Odin is that he is the son of Bor and Bestla, and that the universe preexisted him. If those things are not so, then you are no longer talking about Odin. Think, man, think!"

Just gobsmacked.

The information, the new evidence, could include revealing that (wait for it...), Odin wasn't the son of Bor and Bestla, but he was in fact eternal!" Ohymgodnoway! Spoiler alert and all that!

You see, earlier mythologists weren't ready for the real information about Odin, but now you and humanity is ready for the truth, etc. Or any other countless varieties of explanations that explain the new evidence.

I can't believe that I just had someone tell me to "Think, man, think!" after demonstrating yet again that he doesn't understand how a hypothetical works.

So, what is the evidence you would accept demonstrating that Odin is eternal?

planks length said...

So, what is the evidence you would accept demonstrating that Odin is eternal?

Once again, any evidence showing he is eternal would also show that he would not be Odin. What part of that can you not understand?

I think you need to study a little basic logic before you embarrass yourself further. Things like:

A ≠ Not A

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

The real problem isn't that we're failing to understand Cal, but rather that Cal is failing to understand us.

After all, witness Cal's most recent intellectual hurdle: Cal has repeatedly confused me with Steve. This should be a relatively simple concept and task that (as Cal might say) even a "child" could understand and follow.

However, since Cal can't even do this very basic thing, it's no wonder Cal has had so much more difficulty following our counter-arguments against his arguments!

It's not possible to reason with those who lack reason.

Indeed, when it comes to lacking reason, Cal will beat us every time, because he has had so much more experience. :-)

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"And that can be seen, over and over here, in the way that the Christian commenters here search for ways that my question, which is really just an invitation for them to demonstrate their open-mindedness about their god-belief, cannot be made to work, is a non-starter, etc."

But the truth is Cal's argument actually doesn't work, which we've repeatedly shown above, and which anyone can read if they simply scroll up and, you know, read.

Also, as we've explained, Cal's argument itself isn't "open-minded." Instead, it's meant to be a trap for Christians.

All Cal replies with is anger and frustration that we won't walk into his trap. Why won't you stupid Christians just walk into my trap?! Is it so hard to just spring my trap for me?! Come on, man! Seriously, just walk into my trap already, you no good Christians! Argh!

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Why do I care? Because this seems inconsistent with the notion that it is Christians (and other believers) who are the flexible, open-minded thinkers, and that it is supposed to be skeptics who are close-minded concerning evidence that would change their minds about their god beliefs."

This is really bothering me! I can't take it anymore! If Christians are so open-minded, then why won't they fall for my trap? It's really upsetting how Christians just refuse to walk into my trap. I even put a yuuuge circle around my trap, a circle painted in bright bold colors no less, with a big arrow pointing exactly to where I've set my trap, and indicating that this is a trap meant for Christians! But these Christians just won't take the bait. They won't spring my trap. It's giving me a stomach ulcer! Just walk into my trap already, Christians!

planks length said...

I agree, Rock. It would actually be funny, were it not so pathetic, that Cal sees this as our "searching for ways" when no searching is necessary to show his question is a sham. It's blindingly obvious.

Cal, look in a mirror. There's no "panic", no "struggling", no "dilemma" - at least, there's none on this side of the discussion.

Cal Metzger said...

planks: "Once again, any evidence showing he is eternal would also show that he would not be Odin. What part of that can you not understand? / I think you need to study a little basic logic before you embarrass yourself further. Things like: A ≠ Not A"

Last time: the evidence can revise what you thought you knew about Odin. Odin is a god, but then you find out that the stories about him not being eternal were wrong.

Just like seeing an object, thinking that it's a rock, and discovering upon examination that it is actually snail. Just because you defined the object as a rock doesn't mean that new evidence can't revise your assessment. Unless you're, well, you.

No traps here. Just the facts.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "This is really bothering me! I can't take it anymore! If Christians are so open-minded, then why won't they fall for my trap? It's really upsetting how Christians just refuse to walk into my trap. I even put a yuuuge circle around my trap, a circle painted in bright bold colors no less, with a big arrow pointing exactly to where I've set my trap, and indicating that this is a trap meant for Christians! But these Christians just won't take the bait. They won't spring my trap. It's giving me a stomach ulcer! Just walk into my trap already, Christians!"

I've see inconsistency and hypocrisy, and I ask a question that should get you to examine your prior beliefs. You know that the question will reveal inconsistency and hypocrisy, so you pretend that by not addressing it you have avoided it.

As if.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "After all, witness Cal's most recent intellectual hurdle: Cal has repeatedly confused me with Steve. This should be a relatively simple concept and task that (as Cal might say) even a "child" could understand and follow."

Sorry if I misattributed you and steve to each other's quotes, or anyone else here for that matter.

rockingwithhawking said...

planks length

"I agree, Rock. It would actually be funny, were it not so pathetic, that Cal sees this as our 'searching for ways' when no searching is necessary to show his question is a sham. It's blindingly obvious."

Sadly Cal is quite likely too dim to appreciate what's going on. But fortunately we can continue reply to and otherwise using Cal as a foil for the benefit of reasonable people reading this.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I've see inconsistency and hypocrisy, and I ask a question that should get you to examine your prior beliefs."

No, your "question" about Odin was just a silly and absurd "question," for reasons previously stated.

It certainly didn't get anyone to examine their "prior beliefs" in a Bayesian sense. Stop trying to use buzzwords in lieu of actual reasoning and argumentation.

Your "question" about Odin was more like asking what it'd take for someone to believe Papa Smurf is real and is God.

"You know that the question will reveal inconsistency and hypocrisy, so you pretend that by not addressing it you have avoided it."

It's by turns funny as well as sad how much psychological projection (blame shifting) you suffer from.

Victor Reppert said...

I can see myself as coming to believe that God revealed himself to the Norse people who called him Odin, that since that time the information they had about him was distorted, in such a way that very little of the content of the mythology was actually reflected in the content of Norse mythology, so that Yahweh and Odin are really, or were really at first, names for them same being.

That wouldn't surprise me at all.

rockingwithhawking said...

Victor Reppert

"I can see myself as coming to believe that God revealed himself to the Norse people who called him Odin, that since that time the information they had about him was distorted, in such a way that very little of the content of the mythology was actually reflected in the content of Norse mythology, so that Yahweh and Odin are really, or were really at first, names for them same being. That wouldn't surprise me at all."

Thanks, Dr. Reppert. If you'll allow me to reply please:

1. To be fair, in context Cal was referring to people today. Not if we were Norsemen a millennia ago or so. Cal never had this qualifier (though I wouldn't be surprised if he jumps on it now). Cal was asking what it'd take for people today to believe in Odin as the true God.

2. There were Christian evangelists among the Norse. For example, the popularity of the epic poem Heliand is an indication. So (some of) the Norse weren't necessarily without a Christian witness. They presumably could've had opportunity to turn from their pagan worship of their various gods to the one true God.

3. Among those without any Christian witness whatsoever, they would've been in the darkness, as it were. They would've been left in their paganism. Is that too harsh or severe? That's a debate for another time, I suppose. I don't want to take us even further afield than we already are with this talk about Odin which Cal originated.

4. Perhaps some of them (if they had philosophical leanings) were able to conceive of something more like an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and transcendent deity who created all things. If so, I presume they would've had to make significant distinctions between this "unknown God" and their Norse gods including Odin.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "I can see myself as coming to believe that God revealed himself to the Norse people who called him Odin, that since that time the information they had about him was distorted, in such a way that very little of the content of the mythology was actually reflected in the content of Norse mythology, so that Yahweh and Odin are really, or were really at first, names for them same being."

But I am still curious about what evidence you would need to supplant your belief in Yahweh and replace it with Odin. In other words, the bible has it wrong, and Norse mythology has it (approximately) right.

Would Odin's skywriting do it for you?

A simpler question, one that I asked upthread, is: What evidence would you require to understand that Odin is in fact eternal?

planks length said...

Hopeless, the guy's just hopeless.

I for one am done here.

Victor Reppert said...

But the Odin story itself is inconsistent with Odin being an eternal being. On the Norse account, he isn't eternal. That's why there can be a Twilight of the Gods. If Odin is eternal, then Norse mythology is false, not proven.,

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "But the Odin story itself is inconsistent with Odin being an eternal being. On the Norse account, he isn't eternal. That's why there can be a Twilight of the Gods. If Odin is eternal, then Norse mythology is false, not proven."

In my scenario, some of the Norse mythology got it wrong. Now, new evidence has emerged that shows some of the Norse mythology is wrong, some is correct, and now Odin (of whom we heard, but didn't know the whole story, etc.) provides some evidence that demonstrates that he is eternal.

What would that evidence be from Odin that would convince you that he is eternal (assuming that's a smaller lift than all the other attributes that are required)?

Edgestow said...

If the Norse mythology "got it wrong" then why are we even bothering about Odin? This is the most pointless discussion ever!

Victor Reppert said...

But the evidence would equally show that he was really Yahweh by another name. No problem.

rockingwithhawking said...

Edgestow:

"If the Norse mythology 'got it wrong' then why are we even bothering about Odin? This is the most pointless discussion ever!"

Precisely.

Cal has said Norse mythology about Odin is "unimportant" and/or "wrong." If Norse mythology about Odin is "unimportant" and/or "wrong," then there's no point arguing about it.

As Steve Hays has pointed out above, it's like arguing over what color Russell's teapot really is. Like arguing over what species of unicorn the Invisible Pink Unicorn really is. Like arguing over what type of pasta the Flying Spaghetti Monster really is.

In short, Cal wants us to argue over the minutiae of his own imagined or concocted scenario. His entire argument or scenario is absurd.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "But the evidence would equally show that he was really Yahweh by another name. No problem."

But what is that evidence? I'm wondering if there's any evidence that can show that Odin is eternal.

It sounds like the responses here basically say, "Well, if he's not defined to be eternal, then he's not eternal. And if he is defined to be eternal, then he is." But I though we were talking about evidence, and changing minds -- not classical theology and scholasticism. And if we're talking about evidence that shows that a god exists (per the kind that would change an atheists mind), then what is the kind of evidence that would change a religious believer's mind?

It sounds to me like there's no evidence that could demonstrate that Odin is eternal. If I'm wrong, what is that evidence? (And this should go without saying, but I don't consider tautologies evidence, nor assertions passed off in definitions.)

These comments are inclining me to think that there's actually no evidence that could convince anyone that Odin (or Yahweh, or any god, for that matter) is all of the things that are described in the god of classical theology.

Cal Metzger said...

edge: "If the Norse mythology "got it wrong" then why are we even bothering about Odin? This is the most pointless discussion ever!"
and
rock: "Cal has said Norse mythology about Odin is "unimportant" and/or "wrong." If Norse mythology about Odin is "unimportant" and/or "wrong," then there's no point arguing about it."
etc.

The post talks about evidence, and what it should take to get someone to change their minds.

Changing minds is basically about admitting that you were wrong, and modifying your belief to accommodate what you now understand.

If you can't imagine what it would be like for you to be wrong about something (whether it be your understanding of Norse mythology, or anything else), and why that possibility would be a pre-requisite to a discussion about how evidence can change our minds, then I agree there's no point in your discussing it.

Cheers.

Victor Reppert said...

Evidence can be either defined narrowly or broadly. I think it would be rather odd to ask for evidence for the existence of round squares. When we ask for evidence, to my mind, we are assuming the issue to be an empirical question, that some possible experience might indeed show that it either exists or does not exist. And so the Odin scenario you offer seems confusing to me. On the one hand, the "Odin" we are talking about has to be somehow identifiable as the Norse God, yet the quality you want to attribute to it, eternality, is an attribute that the mythology renders impossible to apply to Odin. My complaint with a lot of atheists is that they say they want evidence for God, pretending that we have an empirical question, but whenever you dig into their reasoning processes, you find out that there objection to the existence of a God who provides sufficient evidence is conceptual and not empirical.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "Evidence can be either defined narrowly or broadly. I think it would be rather odd to ask for evidence for the existence of round squares."

I do too.

Vr: " When we ask for evidence, to my mind, we are assuming the issue to be an empirical question, that some possible experience might indeed show that it either exists or does not exist. "

I agree.

VR: " And so the Odin scenario you offer seems confusing to me. On the one hand, the "Odin" we are talking about has to be somehow identifiable as the Norse God, yet the quality you want to attribute to it, eternality, is an attribute that the mythology renders impossible to apply to Odin."

This implies that the only evidence you require to accept eternality is mythology. I have said that the new evidence you'd accept would vacate what is partly an incorrect mythology (why would it not, given that the new evidence should be stronger than a myth). But your position above indicates that a myth trumps any new evidence. I doubt you would agree with that, so I wonder what new evidence you'd agree is stronger than mythology. That is my question throughout here.

VR: "My complaint with a lot of atheists is that they say they want evidence for God, pretending that we have an empirical question, but whenever you dig into their reasoning processes, you find out that there objection to the existence of a God who provides sufficient evidence is conceptual and not empirical."

I would like to be explicit here in case this hasn't been clear -- by evidence, I mean empirical evidence.

Is there any evidence you'd accept that would demonstrate to you that Odin is eternal?

If not, doesn't that mean that the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology?


Victor Reppert said...

Meanings of terms are determined by the community of language users. The word "Odin" arises within the context of Norse mythology.

In the context of Jewish-Christian thought, the concept of God has undergone linguistic development. No such doctrinal and linguistic development has occurred in Norse mythology. So, the referent of "Odin" has not progressed beyond Norse mythology. So nothing can be Odin unless it is what Norse mythology says it is.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"The post talks about evidence, and what it should take to get someone to change their minds."

1. No, the original post (i.e. Steve's post) wasn't so general. The original post was a very specific counter-argument to a very specific argument.

Steve's post was a counter-argument to the argument from some atheists that they'd believe in God if they could see skywriting spelling out John 3:16 or something similar. This particular atheist argument assumes a miracle is best defined as a violation of natural laws (a la David Hume). Steve's counter-argument challenges this assumption.

Steve argued it's possible for skywriting to occur through means perfectly consistent with natural laws (e.g. the laws of physics). As such, it'd be an example of a coincidence miracle.

2. You, however, have been trying to change the subject and talk about Odin in Norse mythology - i.e. what would it take for Christians to believe Odin is the real God. That has nothing to do with Steve's counter-argument.

If you wanted to stay on topic, then you could have discussed coincidence miracles since that's what Steve's counter-argument is essentially dealing with. We have explained this to you countless times as well as given you plenty of material and resources to work with.

3. Yet you keep changing the subject to talk about Odin. And even when we address your random off-topic argument about Odin, you keep acting as if we haven't.

Your'e impervious to reason.

"Changing minds is basically about admitting that you were wrong, and modifying your belief to accommodate what you now understand. If you can't imagine what it would be like for you to be wrong about something (whether it be your understanding of Norse mythology, or anything else), and why that possibility would be a pre-requisite to a discussion about how evidence can change our minds, then I agree there's no point in your discussing it."

Well, you haven't "changed your mind and admitted that you were wrong" despite the fact that several Christians in this very thread have more than sufficiently answered your Odin hobbyhorse. So, according to your own logic, this would mean "there's no point in Cal discussing" Odin anymore, right? :-)

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "If you wanted to stay on topic, then you could have discussed coincidence miracles since that's what Steve's counter-argument is essentially dealing with."

The external post raises the issue of what some atheists say it would take to convince them.

Victor's OP says, ""Of course some atheists have said that even if God were to skywrite, they still wouldn't believe."

I don't know why you think it would be off topic to ask, based on the above, what kind of evidence it would take for any of us to change our god beliefs. I think that's the stuff that discussions are made of.

I chose Odin because there is a pre-existing mythology around him, because people don't typically know that much about him, and I assume no on presently believes he exists. He seemed like a handy instance to use for the question I am asking -- What would it take for any of us to change our god beliefs (from whatever we think) to Odin?

If you can't imagine what it would take, what does that do to the notion that it is atheists who are close minded (as I assume Victor suggests in the OP here) about changing their god belief?

Cal Metzger said...

@VR, does your last comment (in which you discuss the meaning of words and the state of Norse mythology) mean that you won't answer my two questions?

Is there any evidence you'd accept that would demonstrate to you that Odin is eternal?

If not, doesn't that mean that the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology?

Edgestow said...

I'll answer your two questions:

1. No. As Victor so eloquently put it, you're basically asking for evidence that there's such a thing as a round square. I fail to understand how you cannot see this.

2. No.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "...doesn't that mean that the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology?"
Edge: "No."

And the evidence you would accept for a god's eternality is...?

Edgestow said...

Why do you need evidence? Knowledge can be either a conclusion arrived at, or a thing observed.

Heading off to work, so will not see any reply until late this evening (at the earliest).

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "Why do you need evidence?"

Because I think that our beliefs should be supported by good evidence.

Because the article the OP linked to discussed empirical evidence that might convince some (and not others) to change their god belief, which I thought raised an interesting issue.

Because Victor's OP brought up skywriting as an example of evidence for god belief, and that some atheists would still not be persuaded.

Because you have replied that THERE IS EVIDENCE for a god's eternality besides that god's mythology.

planks length said...

Cal, you write to Edgestow:

Because you have replied that THERE IS EVIDENCE for a god's eternality besides that god's mythology.

Uh.. I just checked through this entire conversation, and Edgestow has only made four comments so far. In none of them, does he say anything remotely like that. Where are you getting this from?

Cal Metzger said...

@planks

Me: "...doesn't that mean that the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology?"
Edge: "No."

planks length said...

Boy, you sure read a lot into a simple "no". Let's look at it in context.

You wrote:

Is there any evidence you'd accept that would demonstrate to you that Odin is eternal?

If not, doesn't that mean that the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology?


And Edgestow (who seems to not be here to defend himself - but I'll cheerfully take up the baton) replied, "No." But "no" to what? Let's unpack this. The crucial wording here is your own "if not". So what Edgestow was saying in admirable succinctness (which apparently is lost on you), was that if there is no evidence which he would accept demonstrating Odin's eternity, that [in and of itself] does not mean (i.e., "follow") that "the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology".

How on Earth do you get from that to Edgestow saying there in fact is such evidence? His "no" simply means that you have not shown there isn't any.

Gee, if you can't even reason your way through such simple statements as these, why should anyone take you seriously when you address far more complex matters?

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "...doesn't that mean that the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology?"
Edge: "No."

Planks: "How on Earth do you get from that to Edgestow saying there in fact is such evidence? His "no" simply means that you have not shown there isn't any. / Gee, if you can't even reason your way through such simple statements as these, why should anyone take you seriously when you address far more complex matters?"

The meaning of the exchange above is about as clear as can be. Your denial of its meaning is bizarre.

I don't know what else to say.

-----------------

FYI, I'm not creating traps here. I'm just asking people to demonstrate what they say they can, and if they can't, to consider why that might be the case. I don't think that's too high a bar in a discussion.

rockingwithhawking said...

A quick summary of what's happened so far in this thread:

1. The original post was Steve Hays' counter-argument to a common atheist argument about skywriting.

2. Cal Metzger (likely aka im-skeptical) decides to venture off-topic and ask a question about what it would take for Christians to believe in Odin.

3. Despite the fact that it's off-topic, many Christian here have called Cal's bluff, played his game, and answered his question.

4. Yet Cal keeps insisting Christians haven't answered his question, because we don't answer it in exactly the way Cal wants it answered. Ultimately the only answer which will satisfy Cal is for Christians to acquiesce to Cal's persistent claim that Christians will not accept any evidence whatsoever that Odin is the real God, which in Cal's mind would mean Christians are closed-minded.

5. Sorry, Cal, but as we've repeatedly pointed out, if you're really only going to accept one answer to your question, and pretend every other answer we've given you (e.g. here) is irrelevant, then you're the one who's closed-minded.

rockingwithhawking said...

If Cal is open-minded like he pretends he is, then why does Cal only allow for two possible answers to his question (and, in fact, as I said directly above, there is ultimately only one answer that will satisfy Cal)?

If Cal is open-minded, then why doesn't Cal consider a third or fourth or fifth possible answer to his question?

After all, several Christians have given Cal several different answers at several different times. However, Cal will only consider his answers, not ours.

Yet, if Cal is so open-minded, then why is he so closed off to other answers besides his own?

Victor Reppert said...

Cal: I see what you are doing. I call it the "just semantics" dodge. You say "Forget about analyzing the meanings of words, I have given you a perfectly clear question, so why don't you answer it?"

Well, no. Meanings matter. If they are allowed to slide all over the place, then dialogue doesn't work.

Logical proof that Ray Charles is God , and that God is dead

1. God is Love.
2. Love is Blind.
3. Ray Charles is Blind.
4. Ray Charles is God.
To which we can now add the Nietzschean addendum
5. Therefore God is dead.

See what happens when you don't do semantics?

Edgestow said...

The meaning of the exchange above is about as clear as can be.

And I agree, Cal. I was perfectly clear. But it's interesting that Planks understood what I was saying while you so completely misconstrued my answer.

Let's change the words around slightly to show you how far off the mark you were.

You: Is there any evidence you'd accept that would demonstrate to you that O.J. Simpson is innocent? And if not, doesn't that mean that the only evidence we can have for any person's guilt is that person's confession?

Me: No.

You: Aha, then you're saying that there is evidence for O.J. Simpson's innocence?

See the word games you are playing here? Now if you're going to start putting words into other people's mouths, then you are quickly going to find people not responding to you. Try that nonsense with me again, and I'll add you to my "do not engage" list.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "Cal: I see what you are doing."

I am asking questions and following up. You guys are just, well, avoiding answering my questions. I don't know what else you think is going on here, but that describes it.

VR: "See what happens when you don't do semantics?"

I'm asking questions. You are the one who seems to be wriggling away from the assertions about evidence and gods.

Do you think someone reading the comments here would come away thinking that the believers here have done a good job of defending the assertion that there is actually good evidence for Yahweh's eternality but not for Odin's?

Where do you think that someone reading the comments above would find those exact answers?

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "Let's change the words around slightly to show you how far off the mark you were."

This is bizarre. Why don't we look at the actual words you wrote, instead of something different? Isn't that the best way to examine your words' meaning?

I asked two questions. You responded by numbering your answers to them (which I appreciate).

My question number 2: "[If there's no evidence you'd accept that would demonstrate to you that Odin is eternal] doesn't that mean that the only evidence we have for any god's eternality is that god's mythology?"
Edge: "2. No."

I don't think there's any other wriggle room for you response there.

What do you think a new reader here would surmise from your backing away from your earlier assertion?

Do you think they'd suppose that you do have evidence for a god's eternality besides a god's mythology but you won't bring yourself to disclose it now? Or do you think they'd suppose that you'd realized that you don't really have good evidence?






Victor Reppert said...

Surely, a being for whom it is linguistically possible to identify as an eternal being is more likely to be an eternal being than something that, properly defined, is not eternal.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I am asking questions and following up. You guys are just, well, avoiding answering my questions. I don't know what else you think is going on here, but that describes it. I'm asking questions. You are the one who seems to be wriggling away from the assertions about evidence and gods."

Cal continues working the spin.

Cal pretends to ask honest questions, but the truth is he will only accept answers he deems acceptable. He refuses to accept the more than reasonable answers we have already provided (e.g. here).

Cal is only "open-minded" as long as people answer in ways he deems acceptable. Otherwise, Cal refuses to listen to our answers. Otherwise, Cal is closed off to reasonable answers.

"Do you think someone reading the comments here would come away thinking that the believers here have done a good job of defending the assertion that there is actually good evidence for Yahweh's eternality but not for Odin's? Where do you think that someone reading the comments above would find those exact answers?"

Yes, reasonable people will find our answers reasonable. However, unreasonable people like Cal will not. One can't reason with unreasonable people like Cal Metzger.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Cal -- I'm a fellow atheist and I've read this entire combox. With all due respect, this conversation isn't going well -- for you.

First, your question to Christians about Odin has nothing to do with the post.

Second, your question is confused. Asking, "What would it take you for to believe that Odin is the one supreme god?" is like asking, "What would it take for you to believe that a Boeing 747 is a mammal?" Just as a Boeing 747 cannot be a mammal (because the properties of Boeing 747 include the fact it is an airplane, not an animal), a supernatural being like Odin cannot be the "one supreme god" (because the properties of Odin are incompatible with being the one supreme god, i.e., Odin does not have the property of being the creator of the world).

The most charitable way I can think of to reformulate your question is this: "Hey, Christians, what would it take for you to stop believing that God (Yahweh) exists and instead believe that Odin exists?" The Christians on this board can certainly speak for themselves, but I think this is a pointless question. No one, including you, believes that Odin exists. So why harp on an irrelevant hypothetical? If I were a Christian and you asked me about Odin, I'd say, "I'm not aware of any good evidence for Odin's existence. Are you? If not, why are you bothering me with this Odin stuff?"

In my opinion, a much better hypothetical question would have been this: "What would it take for you to stop believing that God (Yahweh) exists?" In calling this a "much better" question, I'm not suggesting it's a "gotcha" question that will stop Christians in their tracks. It won't. It's not meant to do that. Rather, this question is "much better" because (1) it doesn't commit a fundamental category mistake, and (2) it doesn't focus on a completely irrelevant hypothetical question.

P.S. I completely agree with Victor Reppert's Ray Charles comment.

Cal Metzger said...

Lowder: "Cal -- I'm a fellow atheist and I've read this entire combox. With all due respect, this conversation isn't going well -- for you."

What a gratuitous comment.

Lowder: "First, your question to Christians about Odin has nothing to do with the post."

Nothing to do with the OP?

The OP links to an article that raises the question of how a natural event (skywriting) could or could not be convincing depending on what a miracle is supposed to be. Victor mentions that even skywriting would not be convincing to some atheists. Those two things are the OP. Based on this, I raised the question of what kind of evidence would convince believers that they were wrong and change their belief about gods. And you somehow determine that my question has "nothing to do with the post" WTF?

Lowder: "Second, your question is confused.... [because] Odin does not have the property of being the creator of the world)."

The term I used was "one supreme god." If a person can't imagine any evidence for Odin being real and the one supreme god (which fits the description of Zeus, Odin, and even Yahweh, who must contend with other supernatural beings like Satan, angels, etc.) then I think that illuminates a problem for evidence regarding beliefs in things like gods.

If the thing stopping you from imagining Odin as different than what you know from mythology, then what does that say about the state of evidence for things like gods? You say Odin doesn't have the property of being the creator of the world, but I explained how easy it is to fix this simple objection: "whatever pre-existing mythology you know around Odin is unimportant -- maybe the early mythology got some of it wrong, the Norsemen weren't ready for all the information about Odin yet and now new information can be revealed, etc.", and the asked, "Would the revealing of a previously secret Norse sect, sworn to secrecy until now, and with ancient documents, describing how Odin once walked the earth then flew back to heaven do it? Would Odin appearing before you do it? Would it have to be a miracle like skywriting?"

In other words, what kind of evidence would convince people they were previously wrong about their god beliefs? Is it really true that mythology is all that dictates a god's properties? If there's something more than mythology, what is that evidence, or what would it look like?

On the TV, they devote a whole series to the question of busting myths. They consider what people believe, and then they test it. What I am hearing from you, and the other commenters here, is that we have no way of testing the myths about gods (and that their properties are determined by myths, and are not examinable in reality). Which compels me to ask how it is that believer are truly open-minded (in a way that they often think skeptics are not) to the evidence regarding their god beliefs. Hmm, as they say.

Cal Metzger said...

Lowder: "The most charitable way I can think of to reformulate your question is this: "Hey, Christians, what would it take for you to stop believing that God (Yahweh) exists and instead believe that Odin exists?" The Christians on this board can certainly speak for themselves, but I think this is a pointless question. No one, including you, believes that Odin exists. So why harp on an irrelevant hypothetical? If I were a Christian and you asked me about Odin, I'd say, "I'm not aware of any good evidence for Odin's existence. Are you? If not, why are you bothering me with this Odin stuff?""

I think I explained why above. I think it explores a more interesting question about evidence and gods.

Lowder: "In my opinion, a much better hypothetical question would have been this: "What would it take for you to stop believing that God (Yahweh) exists?" In calling this a "much better" question, I'm not suggesting it's a "gotcha" question that will stop Christians in their tracks. It won't. It's not meant to do that. Rather, this question is "much better" because (1) it doesn't commit a fundamental category mistake, and (2) it doesn't focus on a completely irrelevant hypothetical question."

I think that's about as predictable a question as I can imagine, and one that has less to do with the OP than the one you have chosen to scold me about. This doesn't seem very consistent of you.

P.S. I completely agree with Victor Reppert's Ray Charles comment.

If you could explain what Victor's Ray Charles comment meant in relation to my comments here, and why you agree with it, I very sincerely would like to know why.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "Surely, a being for whom it is linguistically possible to identify as an eternal being is more likely to be an eternal being than something that, properly defined, is not eternal."

Linguistics don't determine whether or not something possesses certain properties. Evidence does. As in, what kind of evidence would persuade a believer that a god possessed something like eternality?

I would think that if believers are the ones who are convinced by the evidence, and eternality was one of the properties that they say convinces them, then there should be evidence for the god they believe in possessing eternality. Do you disagree?

Since a mythology hardly seems like the stuff of good evidence (pro or con), I would think believers would find a given mythology as unpersuasive as I do. After all, people can say anything they want about the god or gods they believe in. And people can change or re-interpret their god's properties any way they like.

I can imagine writing in the sky. I can't imagine evidence for something like eternality.

It sounds like there isn't evidence for Yahweh's existence and his attributes like there could be evidence if we saw skywriting, but believers consider the arguments that Yahweh must exist and that Yahweh must possess certain attributes to be evidence nonetheless. I just think that's all a pretty far cry from evidence, and stuff like skywriting.

After all, if there's nothing Odin could do to persuade you, evidence-wise, that he possesses eternality, then it sounds to me like Christians are as close-minded to the possibility of evidence as they accuse non-believers of being.

Cheers.





rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

Jeffery Jay Lowder and I (among other Christians) obviously have significant disagreements.

However, Lowder has the reputation of being generally civil as well as reasonable. And, I think, that's saying quite a bit in the era of militant atheism. It's to Lowder's credit that he strives to behave in this manner, that he strives to rise above all the muck.

Not to mention Lowder has decades of experience in the atheist community. Heck, he co-founded the Internet Infidels and the Secular Web! You can't get much more veteran as an atheist than Lowder.

And Lowder's comment to you in this thread is respectfully reasoned.

Yet your replies still continue to miss the point(s), in spite of your addition of one or two ex post facto qualifiers which you hadn't included until now.

In short: If, after some 140 odd comments, nearly everyone in this thread, Christian and atheist alike, i.e. an atheist of Lowder's caliber and esteem, has pointed out that you're not offering reasonable argumentation, maybe the problem isn't so much with everyone else, but rather the problem is with you. Something for you to seriously consider.

Cal Metzger said...

So, just to close this one down, here's the crux of the issue:

VR: "My complaint with a lot of atheists is that they say they want evidence for God, pretending that we have an empirical question, but whenever you dig into their reasoning processes, you find out that there objection to the existence of a God who provides sufficient evidence is conceptual and not empirical."

My Question: If that a problem unique to atheists, then believers should have empirical evidence for their god's attributes, such as eternality, that conceptual gods, like Odin, do not have. So, what is that empirical evidence?

So far, all I've gotten is a lot of accusations that my question is totally and completely and forever out-of-line.

I invite anyone to read upthread and find an answer to my question. I don't think anyone will find it.





rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"So, just to close this one down, here's the crux of the issue:"

No, that's not "the crux of the issue." That's instead what Cal Metzger wants to make "the crux of the issue." As Trump would say, yuuge difference!

What Cal is doing here is citing Victor Reppert at a later point in the debate. But Cal is still ignoring the original post, our responses to him about his Odin hobbyhorse, etc.

"My Question: If that a problem unique to atheists, then believers should have empirical evidence for their god's attributes,"

Even on Cal's own terms, this doesn't logically follow. Just because group 1 has problem x doesn't necessarily imply group 2 likewise has problem x. At the very least, there needs to be a connecting argument between the two groups, which Cal conveniently never provides.

"such as eternality, that conceptual gods, like Odin, do not have."

On the plus side, I'm glad to see Cal finally concedes Odin doesn't have "eternality," which implies Odin isn't at all analogous to the God of the Bible.

"So, what is that empirical evidence?"

For one thing, Cal again moves the goalposts. He keeps changing the topic to suit him.

As far as "empirical evidence," no that Cal would accept it, but let's take coincidence miracles, which are the actual topic of the original post.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "For one thing, Cal again moves the goalposts. He keeps changing the topic to suit him. "

Sigh. Why do you constantly say things that are so obviously false?

My first question here: "What would Christians here accept as evidence that Odin exists and is the one supreme god?"
Hinman: "Easy, in fact obvious. If he could be: / eternal..."
My follow up: "Let's start with the first one -- evidence for Odin's eternalness: Odin appears and points to the sky, where it is written, 'Odin is eternal.' Would that do it?"

Caviling by commenters here.

Reppert: "...yet the quality you want to attribute to it [sic], eternality, is an attribute that the mythology renders impossible to apply to Odin."

Etc.

Which ends with my last comment above: "[based on what the above comments] then believers should have empirical evidence for their god's attributes, such as eternality, that conceptual gods, like Odin, do not have. So, what is that empirical evidence?
rock: "rock: "For one thing, Cal again moves the goalposts. He keeps changing the topic to suit him."

If you don't like the question, impugn the questioner, I guess.

steve said...

"The OP links to an article that raises the question of how a natural event (skywriting) could or could not be convincing depending on what a miracle is supposed to be. Victor mentions that even skywriting would not be convincing to some atheists. Those two things are the OP. Based on this, I raised the question of what kind of evidence would convince believers that they were wrong and change their belief about gods. And you somehow determine that my question has 'nothing to do with the post' WTF?"

The actual topic of the post was a specific example that some prominent atheists give of what they say would be a convincing miracle, and the implications of that example.

Cal changed the subject.

"If the thing stopping you from imagining Odin as different than what you know from mythology, then what does that say about the state of evidence for things like gods?"

At best, it only says something about the state of evidence for gods like Odin.

"Linguistics don't determine whether or not something possesses certain properties. Evidence does."

The properties of Superman aren't determined by "evidence," but by the Superman canon. Same thing with Odin.

"I can imagine writing in the sky. I can't imagine evidence for something like eternality."

Another example of Cal's intellectual limitations. Try abstract objects.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "The properties of Superman aren't determined by "evidence," but by the Superman canon. Same thing with Odin."

Same with Yahweh. Unless someone here can provide some evidence for the properties of Yahweh that distingush Yahweh from Superman and Odin.

But points to you for introducing Superman, which shows that you're starting to understand the problems that my question raises.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Sigh. Why do you constantly say things that are so obviously false?"

Says the person who has said false things.

"Caviling by commenters here."

Any time Cal doesn't like what he hears he calls it "caviling."

"If you don't like the question, impugn the questioner, I guess."

Notice Cal ignores the answer to his main question in light of secondary issues.

"Same with Yahweh.

Say (arguendo) we restrict all that's known about Yahweh to what's in the Bible. Even at this level it would mean Yahweh isn't analogous to Odin inasmuch as what the canon about Yahweh (i.e. the Bible) says about Yahweh is nothing like what the canon about Odin (i.e. Norse/Teutonic mythology) says about Odin. Hence, even at this level, Cal's attempted argument from analogy between Yahweh and Odin fails.

"Unless someone here can provide some evidence for the properties of Yahweh that distingush Yahweh from Superman and Odin."

What Cal really means is "evidence" that he will accept, for he won't accept everything else we've already provided him.

"But points to you for introducing Superman, which shows that you're starting to understand the problems that my question raises."

Yes, Steve introducing Superman obviously implies "the problems that Cal's question raises" are comical and cartoonish in nature.

steve said...

Cal Metzger

"Same with Yahweh. Unless someone here can provide some evidence for the properties of Yahweh that distingush Yahweh from Superman and Odin."

Try messianic prophecy, answered prayer, and miracles (for starters). 

"But points to you for introducing Superman, which shows that you're starting to understand the problems that my question raises."

Poor Cal must be getting senile. I mentioned Superman many comments ago. This is hardly me "introducing" the comparison. Perhaps you should visit a neurologist about your fading memory.

And, of course, Cal has now withdrawn his original claim. But he's too slow on the uptake to figure that out.

It's nice to see atheism represented by the likes of Cal. It never looks worse than when he does his best.

Cal Metzger said...

Steve: "Says the person who has said false things."

I showed how it is false that I have been moving the goalposts. You just make a lot of accusations and assertions, but never seem to demonstrate them. Do you see the difference?

Steve: "Any time Cal doesn't like what he hears he calls it "caviling.""

Anytime I see caviling I call it caviling. That's called consistency.

Steve: "Notice Cal ignores the answer to his main question in light of secondary issues."

Where was the answer to my question that you say I've ignored? I'll cut and paste my question again:

My question: ",,,then believers should have empirical evidence for their god's attributes, such as eternality, that conceptual gods, like Odin, do not have. So, what is that empirical evidence?"

Just cut and paste the answer to my question that you say I've ignored from the comments above. Not your (mis)representation, but the actual comment itself.



steve said...

Notice, once again, that Cal has me confused with another commenter. His wires are crossed. Better call an electrician to untangle his circuitry before it catches fire.

Cal Metzger said...

@steve, I apologize for again misattributing rock's comments with yours.

My last comment corrected with rock's comments attributed, which were not steve's:

--------

rock: "Says the person who has said false things."

I showed how it is false that I have been moving the goalposts. You just make a lot of accusations and assertions, but never seem to demonstrate them. Do you see the difference?

rock: "Any time Cal doesn't like what he hears he calls it "caviling.""

Anytime I see caviling I call it caviling. That's called consistency.

rock: "Notice Cal ignores the answer to his main question in light of secondary issues."

Where was the answer to my question that you say I've ignored? I'll cut and paste my question again:

My question: ",,,then believers should have empirical evidence for their god's attributes, such as eternality, that conceptual gods, like Odin, do not have. So, what is that empirical evidence?"

Just cut and paste the answer to my question that you say I've ignored from the comments above. Not your (mis)representation, but the actual comment itself.

Cal Metzger said...

steve: "And, of course, Cal has now withdrawn his original claim."

Sure I did.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I showed how it is false that I have been moving the goalposts. You just make a lot of accusations and assertions, but never seem to demonstrate them. Do you see the difference?"

1. All you did was quote yourself, which anyone who still cares at this point can simply read or re-read by scrolling up. In fact, it'd be better for people to read or re-read the actual quotations in context rather than your one-sided quotations of yourself.

2. And, of course, the far larger issue is you never acknowledge your own unreasonableness, despite the fact that practically everyone here in this combox including a fellow atheist has explicitly pointed this out to you.

"Anytime I see caviling I call it caviling. That's called consistency."

Given all your whining and complaining about how everyone here (including an atheist) doesn't understand you and so forth, why don't you call what you're doing "caviling"? It certainly fits. I guess you're not so "consistent" when it comes to yourself? :-)

"Where was the answer to my question that you say I've ignored?...Just cut and paste the answer to my question that you say I've ignored from the comments above. Not your (mis)representation, but the actual comment itself."

Here you go:

Here's what I said above:

"As far as 'empirical evidence,' no[t] that Cal would accept it, but let's take coincidence miracles, which are the actual topic of the original post."

In addition, here's what Steve said:

"Try messianic prophecy, answered prayer, and miracles (for starters)."

Two direct answers to Cal's question.

Let's see if Cal concedes his error. Not that I'll be holding my breath! :-)

rockingwithhawking said...

What will most likely happen is Cal will (once again) hem and haw about how we didn't actually answer his question, how we don't understand him aright, etc.

Cal Metzger said...

My question: ",,,then believers should have empirical evidence for their god's attributes, such as eternality, that conceptual gods, like Odin, do not have. So, what is that empirical evidence?"

rock: ""As far as 'empirical evidence,' no[t] that Cal would accept it, but let's take coincidence miracles, which are the actual topic of the original post."

So, what is the actual empirical evidence for this "coincidence miracle" that supports Yahweh's eternality, and not Odin's?

Isn't it obvious that I could write the same thing -- the empirical evidence for Odin's eternality, you ask. Easy -- coincidence miracles! (And wouldn't you say, what?!)

What you guys should be trying to do is differentiate the empirical evidence that can be made from Yahweh to those that can similarly be made for Odin. They both have their own mythology, sure, but what you guys are supposed to have is the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE (like skywriting!) that convinces you Yahweh is real, and that Odin (or Superman, or whatever) proponents couldn't provide as well.

Is the only difference in the mythologies? Is that all there is? Because it's been a lot of comments here now, and I'm still looking upthread for ANY empirical evidence that shows us that Yahweh is real, and possesses eternality, and that followers of some other mythology couldn't claim as well.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"So, what is the actual empirical evidence for this 'coincidence miracle' that supports Yahweh's eternality, and not Odin's? Isn't it obvious that I could write the same thing -- the empirical evidence for Odin's eternality, you ask. Easy -- coincidence miracles! (And wouldn't you say, what?!) What you guys should be trying to do is differentiate the empirical evidence that can be made from Yahweh to those that can similarly be made for Odin. They both have their own mythology, sure, but what you guys are supposed to have is the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE (like skywriting!) that convinces you Yahweh is real, and that Odin (or Superman, or whatever) proponents couldn't provide as well."

1. Why do you keep persisting in your defeated analogy about Odin - which even fellow atheist Lowder describes as "confused" and has "nothing to do with the post"?

2. The "empirical evidence" that denies Odin's eternality is supplied by Norse/Teutonic mythology. Fenrir the wolf kills Odin during Ragnarok. We've already mentioned this to you more than once, yet you keep ignoring what we say. This is one of many examples for why virtually everyone here says you're unreasonable, etc.

3. Why would anyone need more evidence to show that Odin isn't eternal if the evidence provided is already more than sufficient?

4. As for empirical evidence like coincidence miracles supporting God. First, what is it about coincidence miracles that you're failing to grasp, Cal, that would cause you to phrase the question in such a way? If coincidence miracles have occurred, then it's arguable that's a line of evidence that there is a God. If this line of argument is used in conjunction with other lines of argument for the God of the Bible, then that's even more evidence.

5. Here's a novel thought: If you really and truly care about the empirical evidence, why don't you try doing your own research, Cal? We've given you more than enough information to start in this very thread. Why should we be doing all the work for you? How does this reflect the fact that you're actually seeking honest answers?

"Is the only difference in the mythologies? Is that all there is? Because it's been a lot of comments here now, and I'm still looking upthread for ANY empirical evidence that shows us that Yahweh is real, and possesses eternality, and that followers of some other mythology couldn't claim as well."

1. As is usual with Cal, this is off-topic.

2. The truth is Cal is just looking for "empirical evidence" that he will accept. He won't accept other evidence that we provide.

3. The fact that Cal says "empirical evidence" as opposed to, say, evidence in general is already an indication that Cal is attempting to delimit the range of options in advance. That's not a fair and reasonable way of searching for the truth. Empirical evidence can find evidence which is able to be found via empirical means, but not necessarily other evidence. Much like a metal detector can detect metal, but not necessarily non-metals.

4. There are a lot of beliefs which Cal readily accepts which aren't based on "empirical evidence." Not all true knowledge is "empirical" in nature. For instance, not all true knowledge is detectable by sensory perception alone. Take numbers or other abstract objects or ideas.

5. Some of the "empirical evidence" may be consistent with different interpretations. Take the different interpretations of quantum mechanics. In this respect, we are dealing with something which is more fundamental than the "empirical evidence" alone. Hence we can't simply debate the "empirical evidence" as if it's the be-all and end-all of all true knowledge. That'd risk brushing up against scientism.

Cal Metzger said...

The article the post links to raises the issue of empirical evidence for Yahweh (skywriting). In his OP, Victor comments that apparently not even that empirical evidence would be enough to convince some atheists.

I thought it would be interesting to ask the believers here that same question, but NOT in the standard, predictable way: What kind of evidence (similar to skywriting) would get Christians to believe in a god they didn't think existed (I used Odin for reasons mentioned many times now), the same way the OP asks non-believers. Seems fair to me, considering the frequent accusation that those who don't believe in Yahweh have simply closed their minds to the evidence (hence, not even skywriting would do it!).

Over and over in these comments I have asked this question: [If believers are open to the evidence] What would get a believer in Yahweh to become convinced that Odin was real and is in fact the one true god?

The consensus here seemed to be: Christians here would believe in another god if the evidence confirmed that the other god possessed Yahweh's attributes.

Which brings me back to my original question: What is that evidence (similar to skywriting, per the OP) that Yahweh possesses the attributes attributed to him? Is it true that the only "evidence" is the mythology around Yahweh? And if that's true, what would stop another mythology from making the same claims (after all, what empirical evidence can arbitrate competing myths?). These are the questions I would ask myself if I still believed, so it seems natural that one who believes should think about them.

Rock's last comment here is telling, because it is basically a synopsis of all the prior comments I've read here; instead of answering my question and showing what kind of evidence we should expect (similar to skywriting) for an attribute like eternality, rock tries to explain why this evidence isn't going to be forthcoming.

As they say, hmmm.

Cheers.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"The article the post links to raises the issue of empirical evidence for Yahweh (skywriting)."

That's like saying the name "Cal" raises the issue of California. Cal is grasping at straws here.

"I thought it would be interesting to ask the believers here that same question, but NOT in the standard, predictable way:"

That's an amusing way for Cal to admit his reasoning has been quite erratic.

"What kind of evidence (similar to skywriting) would get Christians to believe in a god they didn't think existed (I used Odin for reasons mentioned many times now), the same way the OP asks non-believers."

Cal keeps persisting in his delusions, even when a fellow atheist calls him on it (here).

By the way, the only person who basically agrees with Cal is im-skeptical. Interesting, isn't it? Given how many other similarities Cal Metzger and im-skeptical share.

"Seems fair to me, considering the frequent accusation that those who don't believe in Yahweh have simply closed their minds to the evidence (hence, not even skywriting would do it!)."

Cal should consider investing in a trampoline since he enjoys jumping to conclusions so much.

"Over and over in these comments I have asked this question: [If believers are open to the evidence] What would get a believer in Yahweh to become convinced that Odin was real and is in fact the one true god?"

Over and over again many people have given Cal answers to his off-topic question about Odin (e.g. here).

Over and over again Cal refuses to accept our answers.

Over and over again that's ironic because someone who is truly closed-minded won't accept any answers (except the answers they want to hear).

"The consensus here seemed to be: Christians here would believe in another god if the evidence confirmed that the other god possessed Yahweh's attributes."

The consensus is Cal isn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box of derps.

"Which brings me back to my original question: What is that evidence (similar to skywriting, per the OP) that Yahweh possesses the attributes attributed to him?"

What's the evidence that Cal possesses the attributes attributed to him? For example, what's the evidence that Cal possesses the attribute of intelligence, of having a mind? Genuine question.

"Is it true that the only 'evidence' is the mythology around Yahweh?"

No, as we've pointed out to Cal numerous times (e.g. here). But Cal doesn't seem to have the attribute of "memory."

"And if that's true, what would stop another mythology from making the same claims"

On what basis does Cal assume Christianity is mythology in the vein of, say, Norse mythology?

"(after all, what empirical evidence can arbitrate competing myths?)."

As I pointed out above, "empirical evidence" has its limitations. But Cal conveniently ignores this. (In fact, I'm doubtful Cal even knows what empirical evidence means and entails in a scientific sense.)

The truth can arbitrate between competing myths. Searching for what's true is a better starting point than searching for "empirical evidence," inasmuch as what's true isn't always arrived at by empirical means.

rockingwithhawking said...

"These are the questions I would ask myself if I still believed, so it seems natural that one who believes should think about them."

The one doesn't logically follow the other. What makes Cal think Christians naturally should think about the sorts of questions Cal poses - e.g. "is Odin the one supreme god"?

Anyway, Cal asks these sorts of questions because Cal is unreasoning and unreasonable. He's intellectually challenged.

A reasonable person would ask reasonable questions. A true agnostic in the best sense of the word wouldn't ask the sorts of questions Cal asks. Rather, they'd ask questions like, does God exist? Is it reasonable to believe God exists? What's the evidence that God exists? How would I know? And so on.

"Rock's last comment here is telling, because it is basically a synopsis of all the prior comments I've read here;"

Welp! That's flattering, but so far from true.

"instead of answering my question"

You mean, instead of answering your question for the 1000th time, right? :-)

"and showing what kind of evidence we should expect (similar to skywriting) for an attribute like eternality"

If the "evidence" Cal will accept is evidence "similar to skywriting" (in the sense that someone like Carl Sagan means it), then Cal has missed the entire point of the original post.

More to the point, why does Cal assume "eternality" is (best) shown by "evidence...similar to skywriting"?

Cal sure does make a lot of assumptions!

"rock tries to explain why this evidence isn't going to be forthcoming"

It's not forthcoming because it's already come and gone - in one ear and out the other for Cal! ;-)

"As they say, hmmm."

This is how I imagine Cal when he speaks.

rockingwithhawking said...

For reasonable people who actually care about finding the truth, here are a couple of good starting points:

"Why I Believe: A Positive Apologetic"

"Why I Believe: I'm Glad You Asked!"

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "What is that evidence (similar to skywriting, per the OP) that Yahweh possesses the attributes attributed to him? Is it true that the only "evidence" is the mythology around Yahweh? And if that's true, what would stop another mythology from making the same claims (after all, what empirical evidence can arbitrate competing myths?). These are the questions I would ask myself if I still believed, so it seems natural that one who believes should think about them."

The content and tone of Rock's comments are, I think, telling. Bluster is not found when people are confident in their answers. Quite the opposite.

———————

Here’s the basic problem:

In the same way that prediction that can’t be measured isn’t really a prediction, a belief for which no contrary evidence could exist isn’t really knowledge.

And that’s the problem when we’re talking about concepts, or definitions, or incoherent ideas — when there’s no conceivable contrary evidence that could change those concepts, or definitions, or incoherent ideas — then we’re not talking about knowledge.

Here’s an example (similar to the belief in Yahweh’s eternalness): our belief that the earth is a sphere. It’s straightforward to answer the question of what it would take to change minds about our belief that the earth is a sphere. Why?Because we have good evidence for the earth being a sphere, and that makes it easy to discuss how that evidence would need to be different in order for us to change our minds.

For instance, we would change our minds about the earth being a flat, sqaured surface instead of a a sphere if the evidence showed us that:
- Circumnavigation of the earth was impossible / an edge of the world could be reached.
- The earth shows no curvature measured by decent optical instruments.
- The shape of the earth's shadow during a lunar eclipse was not consistent with a sphere but was consistent with a flat (square) surface.
- The physical forces that we measure, can describe, and use to predict do not comport with a sphere forming from the earth’s mass but with a flat surface.
- Satellite and solar system devices didn’t observe the earth or other similar sized objects as a sphere but as a flat surface
- We don’t observe spheres forming in those solar systems where planets are forming, instead we see flat surfaces forming.
Etc.

Notice how all of the above offers good evidence — it’s empirical, meaning we can examine it ourselves, its objective, reliable, and verifiable. The belief that the earth’s sphericalness (or not) is true based on “checkable” evidence.

If I was still a believer, I would think that I’d try to imagine what good, checkable evidence could change my mind about Yahweh and his attributes, because without that I don’t think I’d actually know anything about Yahweh.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"The content and tone of Rock's comments are, I think, telling. Bluster is not found when people are confident in their answers. Quite the opposite."

1. The content and tone of Cal's comments are, I think, telling. Lack of substance, unreasonableness, committing logical fallacies, and the like are not found in people who are confident in their answers. Quite the opposite.

2. By the way, one doesn't need to be "confident" in their answers. But one does need to be correct in their answers if one is aiming for truth. I, along with virtually everyone else in this thread including a fellow atheist, are correct in our answers to Cal. Cal just isn't smart enough to grasp when he's wrong, so he continues in his pig-headed stubbornness to assert he's correct in the teeth of all the evidence stacked against him.

"Here’s the basic problem:"

Here's Cal's basic problem:

1. His inability or unwillingness to reason.

2. Also, not unlike the stereotype of the religious fundamentalist, Cal has no sense of humor, but I'll try not to hold that one against him. :-)

"In the same way that prediction that can’t be measured isn’t really a prediction, a belief for which no contrary evidence could exist isn’t really knowledge."

1. Yet again, this has precious little to do with the original post. This is just Cal continuing to go off on another one of his tangents.

2. No surprise but Cal never bothers to explain how the first half of his sentence parallels the second half of his sentence. Instead, he simply asserts the two parallel one another. But an assertion without an argument is nothing more than an assertion.

3. Just to elaborate a bit on the previous:

A prediction that cannot be measured is not a prediction
A belief for which no contrary evidence could exist is not knowledge

a. How does prediction parallel belief?
b. How does "cannot be measured" parallel "no contrary evidence could exist"?
c. How does prediction parallel knowledge?
d. Why does Cal equivocate between belief and knowledge in his attempted parallel between prediction and knowledge?
e. What does Cal mean by evidence? (As I said above, empirical evidence has its limitations.)
f. What type of knowledge is Cal referring to (e.g. propositional knowledge, knowledge by acquaintance)?

rockingwithhawking said...

"And that’s the problem when we’re talking about concepts, or definitions, or incoherent ideas — when there’s no conceivable contrary evidence that could change those concepts, or definitions, or incoherent ideas — then we’re not talking about knowledge."

What's the "conceivable contrary evidence" for Cal's belief that other minds exist?

What's the "conceivable contrary evidence" for Cal's belief that the external world exists?

"Here’s an example (similar to the belief in Yahweh’s eternalness):"

Which once again was a reply to Cal's originally off-topic remarks about Odin.

"our belief that the earth is a sphere. It’s straightforward to answer the question of what it would take to change minds about our belief that the earth is a sphere. Why?Because we have good evidence for the earth being a sphere, and that makes it easy to discuss how that evidence would need to be different in order for us to change our minds."

Cal talks like an evidentialist - i.e. it's mistaken to have a belief without sufficient evidence. However, evidentialism has its limitations.

Let's posit the only evidence I have that I fell off my bike and scraped my knee when I was 7 years old is my memory of it. There's no other evidence for it let alone sufficient evidence for it. Nevertheless, it's a justifiable and rational belief to hold.

"Notice how all of the above offers good evidence — it’s empirical, meaning we can examine it ourselves, its [sic] objective, reliable, and verifiable."

1. Notice how all of the above is about the Earth being a sphere. How is belief (or disbelief) in the Earth as a sphere analogous to belief (or disbelief) in God? Cal just assumes that's the case. He just asserts the parallel or analogy without arguing for the parallel or analogy.

2. As I have repeatedly pointed out to Cal, but evidently his thick skull prevents the transmission of any intelligent information, though I guess it's porous when it comes to arguments against theism and/or arguments for atheism from people like Dawkins and Sagan:

a. Empirical evidence isn't the only sort of "evidence"
b. Empiricism has significant limitations
c. Cal assumes without benefit of argument that justified and rational belief in Yahweh should be based solely or mainly on empirical evidence

"If I was still a believer, I would think that I’d try to imagine what good, checkable evidence could change my mind about Yahweh and his attributes, because without that I don’t think I’d actually know anything about Yahweh."

1. That's because Cal is highly selective in what arguments and evidence he allows and what arguments and evidence he disallows when it comes to belief in God. Basically, Cal only allows arguments and evidence against God, not arguments and evidence for God. That's been amply demonstrated in this very thread.

2. Also, Cal says he is an apostate ("If I was still a believer"). If so, then apostates don't return. If so, Cal's fate is sealed. If so, that's tragic.

3. What's sad, however, is Cal spends whatever time he has left in life making superficial arguments against Christianity, and ignoring reasonable arguments, rather than actually attempting to find and engage the best arguments for (and against) Christianity.

Cal banks his belief in atheism on weak and silly arguments by people like Sagan and Dawkins when there's so much better evidence and argumentation out there on both sides.

If Cal were a chef, he'd be basing his entire culinary future on a restaurant menu he developed from McDonald's.

rockingwithhawking said...

By the way, notice how many people have given Cal specific and detailed answers to his (off-topic) questions. Yet he never satisfactorily addresses our actual responses. Instead, he just continues to repeat what he says, with some minor variations on the same theme.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "By the way, notice how many people have given Cal specific and detailed answers to his (off-topic) questions."

I have noted it. It is, precisely, none.

rock: "How is belief (or disbelief) in the Earth as a sphere analogous to belief (or disbelief) in God?"

Eternality has been offered here as evidence for a godly attribute. I have pointed out how sphericalness could be evidence for an earthly attribute. One appears to offer no means for examination, the other does. This should make one wonder about the claims of believers that their belief in a godly attribute like eternality is based on evidence (to which they often claim non-believers have closed their minds), when it can be shown how evidence normally works (for instance, on the sphericalness of the earth when one examines an attribute for something that is real. What do you suppose that difference might be related to? Do you suppose anyone else might wonder about this?

rock: "As I have repeatedly pointed out to Cal, but evidently his thick skull prevents the transmission of any intelligent information, though I guess it's porous when it comes to arguments against theism and/or arguments for atheism from people like Dawkins and Sagan."

Um, yeah. My question here is original to me (not that that matters), but it appears that you are the one who thinks that stock apologetics routines like "Empiricism has significant limitations" (motte and baily much?) do more than show that you haven't even grasped the problem revealed in my question.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"I have noted it. It is, precisely, none."

Of course, given all you've said here, it's pretty obvious you haven't exactly exhibited keen observational skills in this thread. Hence it's a bit difficult to take you seriously on this point. :-)

"Eternality has been offered here as evidence for a godly attribute. I have pointed out how sphericalness could be evidence for an earthly attribute."

Yes, and I asked how the two parallel one another. What you say here doesn't even begin to answer the question. How are "eternality" and "sphericalness" analogous to one another? For instance, how are you going to measure "eternality" in a way that's analogous to sphericality?

And more to the point, you assume without argument that it's possible to find both using the same means or methods, i.e. empirical investigation, even though they're entirely different characteristics. That's not even scientific, because science allows for different methods of investigation.

"One appears to offer no means for examination, the other does. This should make one wonder about the claims of believers that their belief in a godly attribute like eternality is based on evidence (to which they often claim non-believers have closed their minds), when it can be shown how evidence normally works (for instance, on the sphericalness of the earth when one examines an attribute for something that is real."

Why do you keep insisting that eternality is best justified with empirical evidence?

"What do you suppose that difference might be related to?"

The "difference" is just in your mind. Not even fellow atheist Jeff Lowder agrees with you.

"Do you suppose anyone else might wonder about this?"

No, because no one else in this thread appears to be as dumb as you are. Seriously, you can't follow basic logic, not even after multiple corrections by multiple people at multiple times. What else is there to conclude?

I suppose the other viable option is that you argue in poor faith, which I'll likewise happily accept if that's instead what you prefer to say about yourself. :-)

"Um, yeah. My question here is original to me (not that that matters)"

It's "original" to ask about Odin? You mean instead of, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Invisible Pink Unicorn or the Celestial Teapot?

"but it appears that you are the one who thinks that stock apologetics routines like 'Empiricism has significant limitations' (motte and baily much?)"

Actually, this is an amusing statement, for it illustrates your ignorance of empiricism in the philosophy of science. You don't know what you're talking about. You're way out of your depth.

"do more than show that you haven't even grasped the problem revealed in my question."

You're too predictable. You're back to one of your regular refrains: we don't understand or grasp your question. Despite the fact that we've more than addressed your question several times over.

What I find pathetic as well as tragic is that you're a self-confessed apostate, Cal. Yet you waste your time trying to trap Christians in things you yourself confess you don't even believe anymore. I guess it passes the time for you. Like sitting in a casino and playing slot machines does for others. It's a pathetic sight.

It's likewise tragic. Tragic because in my view this is how you're spending your time awaiting the day of judgment.

Cal Metzger said...

rock: "Why do you keep insisting that eternality is best justified with empirical evidence?"

Irony is not the strong suit of the apologist.

1. The OP raises the question of what kind of empirical evidence (skywriting!) would change a non-believer's mind about gods.
2. Because of that, I explicitly asked what kind of similar evidence would change a believer's mind about gods.
3. In response to my question, the first attribute offered here as evidence was "eternal."
4. i thought this was a strange example myself, so I have been asking how it is that "eternal" could be examined as "evidence."
5. In response to my queries about "eternal" or other kinds of good evidence, we now are hearing from you that nothing like skywriting (which is good, empirical evidence) was ever intended to be understood as the kind of evidence for Yahweh and his attributes.

This is, as I pointed out, classic apologist tactics. It is the routine of the intellectually dishonest. You'll find a fuller description of it here: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/03/all-in-all-another-brick-in-the-motte/

Despite the predictable cheerleading here, I feel really good about these comments. I have bookmarked the whole exchange because of how well I think it serves to highlight the kind of behaviors and tactics I have been decrying throughout. (I will even predict that you'll have trouble restraining yourself from trying an unearned zing like, "More like the kind of behaviors and tactics you showed throughout, Ha!" Whatever.)

Cheers.

rockingwithhawking said...

Cal Metzger

"Irony is not the strong suit of the apologist."

It depends on the apologist. However, when it comes to Cal the village atheist apologist, I agree, it's not your strong suit. It "does not compute" for you. :-)

"1. The OP raises the question of what kind of empirical evidence (skywriting!) would change a non-believer's mind about gods."

Uh oh! Here we go again. Cal repeating his talking points. Metzger the machine. Automaton in action. :-)

"2. Because of that, I explicitly asked what kind of similar evidence would change a believer's mind about gods."

Yawn. How many times do we have to go through this while you keep missing the point? One of your settings must've gotten stuck on repeat, Cal. You're old and obsolete.

"3. In response to my question, the first attribute offered here as evidence was 'eternal.'"

It's worth noting this wasn't the only response to your question. It's just the response you happened to fixate on. There were plenty of other responses to your question which you chose to ignore. Which you still choose to ignore.

"4. i thought this was a strange example myself, so I have been asking how it is that 'eternal' could be examined as 'evidence.'"

People have also responded to this latest digression from you, yet, as usual, you ignore our responses to fixate on repeating lines from your script.

"5. In response to my queries about 'eternal' or other kinds of good evidence, we now are hearing from you that nothing like skywriting (which is good, empirical evidence) was ever intended to be understood as the kind of evidence for Yahweh and his attributes."

iCal. iRepeat. Beep boop. As I've mentioned above, one of Cal's constant refrains is to go off-topic. That's in fact how all this started. Another one of his constant refrains is to tell us we don't understand him. Still another one of his constant refrains is to simply declare we're wrong despite never demonstrating how we're wrong. Cal has a handful of these pre-programmed lines which he often recycles.

"This is, as I pointed out, classic apologist tactics."

What's funny is Cal can't even follow his own simple-minded line of "argument." He hasn't pointed out anything about "apologist tactics" until now, at least in the context of these recent replies. Originally Cal just mentioned apologists and "irony."

Anyway, Cal hasn't demonstrated anything about "apologist tactics" except his own "apologist tactics" which are apparently to rinse and repeat things like a washing machine.

"It is the routine of the intellectually dishonest."

If only Cal were "intelligent" enough to appreciate "intellectual dishonesty"! That would be a nice change for once. Sadly, he's not A.I. Not even close. Cal is more on par with Roomba, which keeps bumping into walls and furniture.

rockingwithhawking said...

"Despite the predictable cheerleading here, I feel really good about these comments."

I feel really good about Cal's comments too, because it's easy to refute his "predictable" comments. Indeed, Cal has been refuted so many times by so many people (e.g. here) including by a fellow atheist.

The unfortunate thing, however, is Cal doesn't grasp when he's been refuted. He just defaults to his previous talking points. He just defaults to his previous talking points. He just defaults to his previous talking points. He just defaults to his previous talk...

"I have bookmarked the whole exchange because of how well I think it serves to highlight the kind of behaviors and tactics I have been decrying throughout."

"Bookmarked"? What is this, 1999? Today you can get screenshots, copy and save the entire weblog, etc., you know!

Anyway, that's a good attitude, I guess, Cal the policebot. :-)

"(I will even predict that you'll have trouble restraining yourself from trying an unearned zing like, 'More like the kind of behaviors and tactics you showed throughout, Ha!' Whatever.)"

1. Au contraire! You've well earned all my zingers, Cal! :-)

2. Also, once again, I'll note Cal's lack of a sense of humor. Too bad, Cal, this would've been a lot more fun if you were a bit more cheery! :-) Maybe we need to install an emotion chip for you.

3. By the way, you talk just like and even make the same mistakes as im-skeptical.

4. The last thing to note at this point is, given the atheism of people like Dawkins and Sagan, Cal Metzger is nothing more than a meat machine. As Dawkins has said: "In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."

Likewise, as atheist scholar Michael Ruse has said: "The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation, no less than our hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory."

If this is so, then it's a bit amusing to see Cal take issue with "unearned," for being called names, etc., because in the end, there's ultimately no such thing as "earned" or "unearned," no such thing as "right" or wrong" in an ultimate and universal and objective sense. That's the stark reality of atheism. So Cal's complaints are ultimately futile.

rockingwithhawking said...

Basically Cal is an empiricist. A strict empiricist. Cal demands "empirical evidence" in order to prove God's existence, attributes, etc.

However, what Cal keeps failing to realize is empiricism can only investigate phenomena which are detectable via empirical means or methods. Like how a metal detector is able to detect metals, but not non-metals.

If the phenomenon under investigation is unable to be detected by empirical methods, then it doesn't necessarily mean the phenomenon doesn't exist, but only that the phenomenon is indetectible via empirical methods.

rockingwithhawking said...

Since Cal keeps harping on "eternality":

1. If human minds didn't exist, would mathematics (e.g. numbers) and scientific laws exist? Given the atheism and scientism of someone like Dawkins or Sagan, the answer would seem to be yes. Otherwise, if the law of gravity or (arguendo) the "law" of evolution (neo-Darwinism) didn't exist prior to human minds, then how could the planets in our solar system have revolved around the sun before humans came on the scene, or how could humans themselves have evolved to have minds in the first place?

Now, if it's true mathematics (e.g. numbers) and scientific laws existed without the need for humans minds to conceive of them, then the next question is: from where do mathematics and scientific laws originate? Where does the concept of a number or scientific law come from? Stephen Hawking believes gravity and quantum theory caused the universe itself to be created from nothing. However, the problem is gravity and quantum theory are themselves scientific laws. It'd be a circular argument to argue scientific laws created scientific laws. Where did the original scientific laws which created the universe come from?

It'd be more reasonable to argue mathematics and scientific laws inhere in the mind of an omnipotent, omniscient, transcendent being typically known as God who created the universe.

2. A similar argument could be made for certain properties (e.g. eternality). As Plantinga has said: ["T]here are properties, one wants to say, that have never been entertained by any human being; and it also seems wrong to think that properties do not exist before human beings conceive them. But then (with respect to these considerations) it seems likely that properties are the concepts of an unlimited mind: a divine mind."

rockingwithhawking said...

What Cal is demanding when he demands "empirical evidence" for God is ultimately physical evidence. However, why is physical evidence the bar for God to clear?

What's more, if God is spirit (e.g. John 4:24), then it wouldn't make sense to demand physical evidence alone. As I've said, similar to how a metal detector can detect metals, but not non-metals, so empirical methods can detect that which is detectable by empirical methods, not that which is unable to be detected by empirical methods.