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Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 122 comments

Clearing Up the Shenanigans: Tom Gilson and True Reason

It seems that Tom Gilson would like to continue to play the typical Christian apologist “you don’t get my arguments” card, rather than explain in clear terms what exactly his chapter was about, if he was in fact not making the argument I attributed to him (which seems wildly off the mark, since I quote him directly several times). In my last post I restated my argument and quoted Gilson directly from Chapter 12 to demonstrate to those who might be curious that I did indeed correctly interpret his argument.

To this response, all Gilson has done is play coy, refusing to elaborate on what his argument entailed and why my reply was in error. When asked to defend his argument he replied by saying:

By the way: I didn’t defend my argument from the book because what you wrote was either obviously wrong (for example, that God violated natural law when he created ex nihilo) or unrelated to my argument. There was nothing there for me to defend my argument from.
On a first impression your blog post looked like a criticism of my chapter. On a closer look it turned out to be more or less unsuccessful criticisms of other things. That’s why I wrote a blog post wondering what it was that you were after.
Resipisence, I’m glad you liked his question.
AA, if you didn’t understand what the questions on my blog post had to do with your response, may I point out that most of them included quotations from that post, and the rest of them paraphrased things you had written?
If you can’t figure out what those quotations and paraphrases had to do with your post, shall I try again? If I try again, what would you suggest I do to make the connections clear? The usual answer to that question is quotations and paraphrases. Is there a better approach that I’m not aware of?

This reply is curious since his blog post responding to my initial criticisms doesn’t even come close to addressing nearly anything I said, and it appears to further confuse the situation.

I am going to go through and breakdown Gilson’s entire response to demonstrate why I believe his responses thus far have been less than satisfactory.

I’m having trouble figuring out what the Arizona Atheist is after in his critique of my Chapter 10 in True Reason: Responding to the Irrationality of the New Atheism. (You can read a version of that chapter here.)

After comparing the original article and the slightly edited piece in True Reason, the original article is a pretty close match, with the exception of the last five paragraphs describing how science relied upon a belief in a natural order, which was provided by Christianity, according to Gilson. My guess as to why he edited this section from the piece in True Reason is because in Chapter 11 Sean McDowell made the same argument already, which I successfully rebutted. In short, atheistic Greeks saw the orderliness of nature long before Christianity arrived.

Gilson continues, which is where things begin to get confusing. I will place the entirety of Gilson’s reply in blockquotes and respond throughout:

He might be trying to show that my explanation was ad hoc. He mentioned something to that effect early on, but if that was his purpose, he didn’t carry it through. He proceeded to write as if trying to show that my explanation was incoherent, not ad hoc (made up or generated for no reason but to fill an explanatory gap).

I appreciate the definition of ad hoc, but I know what it means, which is why I used it. I called Gilson’s argument ad hoc simply for the reasons I stated in my last post. His arguments are brought forth with no supporting basis, which is what most of my reply goes on to defend.

He might be saying that miracles happen too often (according to Christian teaching) for science to work. That was the main subject matter of my chapter, so it would be a relevant complaint. He only refers to a very short list of miracles, however, so if that’s what he was after, it was a tepid attempt at best.

Am I arguing that “miracles happen too often?” Yes, but Gilson misses my point. It had nothing to do with science, it had everything to do with god. Gilson argued in True Reason that god wants his creations to be “responsible moral agents;” and god also wants his creations to learn from experience. All of these things would not be possible if we lived in a world “of constant supernatural intervention” because “if there is to much chaos (“noise”) in a transmission, the message (signal) can’t get through to be clearly understood.” (130)

I argued that, at least according to numerous Christians around the world, their god intervenes in the affairs of the world on a daily basis and I provided one, among other examples, of a Christian friend who thanked god for coming across a set of chairs in someone’s yard.

I also argued that far from being opposed to constant supernatural intervention the entire basis of Christianity is built upon supernatural intervention, including god coming down in human form as Jesus to the creation of the world out of absolutely nothing, which are in fact acts of the supernatural, unlike what Gilson stated in his reply (“it’s more than slightly difficult to see how God violated natural law by creating natural law (as creation ex nihilo indicates).”). Gilson’s argument makes no logical sense. Christians argue all the time that “something cannot come from nothing” but for Christians apparently it’s OK. And I suppose a man rising from the dead or a god-man coming down from heaven isn’t a supernatural event? Gilson says nothing about these core beliefs of Christianity.

He might be saying that Christians’ purported prayer answers, if they were real, would indicate God interfering with the natural order too often for science to work. But that’s not likely, because the prayer answers he points to are not the sort of thing that undermine the regularity of nature.

This is why I said Gilson’s reply did not appear to have anything to do with my response. In fact, I mention prayer not once throughout the entire reply. The idea isn’t even hinted at. And he has badly understood the reasoning behind my responses, even though I thought I made it perfectly clear.

He might be saying that Christians’ prayer answers are “mere coincidences or hallucinations” — in fact he does suggest that — but if that’s his complaint, he’s simply changing the subject. That’s an interesting question, but not one that has anything to do with my chapter in True Reason.

Once again the word “prayer” is not to be found in the entire reply. And the partial quote Gilson uses is from this: “Do miracles happen as Christians attest all of the time or not? Does god intervene on a near daily basis or is the universe orderly and these events I’ve recounted are mere coincidences or hallucinations? Gilson can’t have it both ways.” I was summing up my argument that either supernatural interventions occur on a nearly daily basis as Christians attest around the world, or they do not. If they do, as my arguments suggest, then Gilson’s argument, stating that god doesn’t want to intervene very often, or that these interventions would not cause an interference in the natural order are false. In fact, as an example I said, referring to my Christian friend finding the chairs: “If Gilson argues that an orderly universe is a necessity then these “miracles” would be a near impossibility and god wouldn’t intervene as often as he clearly seems to do in the lives of many of his believers. Did my friend’s god get inside of that man’s head and convince him to get rid of perfectly good chairs? Did my friend’s god also get inside of his head and tell him to go down that street at that exact time of day? If not, why not? Do miracles happen as Christians attest all of the time or not? Does god intervene on a near daily basis or is the universe orderly and these events I’ve recounted are mere coincidences or hallucinations? Gilson can’t have it both ways.”

I would argue that causing an event to happen by making someone take a particular action that they may not have taken if not for the supernatural intervention seems to me to be a pretty large interference in the natural world. Why did my friend drive down that particular street at that particular time of day? And why did this man discard several perfectly good chairs?

He might be saying that God has problems doing hard things. That seems to be what he’s after here, speakcing of providential (not miraculous) prayer answers:

[Quoting me:] If Gilson argues that an orderly universe is a necessity then these “miracles” would be a near impossibility and god [sic] wouldn’t intervene as often as he clearly seems to do in the lives of many of his believers.

I can’t imagine, though, why he would think near impossibilities pose any problem for God as Christians understand God.

This makes no sense and he does not even deal with the context of my argument in the least. I just quoted this portion of one of my arguments above. It appears Gilson did not understand it at all.

He might be saying that Christians believe God is really messing around with natural law most of the time:

[Quoting me:] Even the very basis of Christianity is premised on miracles, ie. the very violation of natural laws: creation of the world ex nihilo and Jesus being brought back to life after being dead as a door nail for three days.

There must be some confusion there, though, since it’s more than slightly difficult to see how God violated natural law by creating natural law (as creation ex nihilo indicates). And again, while Christianity is premised on miracles, he hasn’t said anything to establish that it’s premised on miracles so frequent that science won’t work.

Finally, it appears that Gilson seems to have grasped my argument, but claims I never made an attempt to demonstrate how many miraculous events would cause a disruption in the natural world. Doesn’t a man rising from the dead count? Doesn’t god essentially getting inside peoples’ heads, making them or influencing them to do certain things a violation of natural law??? This seems an absurd thing to say. He appears to pretend I said nothing about this!

Or he might be saying that I’ve made some mistake in proposing (as I did) that God made the universe orderly enough for humans to learn, understand, communicate, and be responsible for what we do:

[Quoting me:] Finally, the universe is much less orderly than he assumes and we have had a lot of difficulty understanding much of it. On the larger scale things appear to happen in a logical order and objects behave in an orderly manner. But once we move to the quantum level of the universe things get rather confusing and no longer behave as our rational minds would expect. This makes no sense on Gilson’s view because if god [sic] created the world in order for us to understand his creation and to “learn from experience,” then our many experiences and scientific observations would not conflict with our current understanding of the universe.

No, on the larger scale (the scale that’s relevant to my chapter in the book) things do not appear to happen “in a logical order and … in an orderly manner.” They do behave that way, except in the realm of personal freedom and choice. Quantum strangeness has no relevance to my point in that chapter. His premise here is flawed. But the biggest problem with that is that it’s a shot in the dark. He’s given no reason to suppose that his conclusion is true. If he tried he would fail, because there is no possible reason it could be true.

Gilson argued that “God intends that humans be able to ‘learn from experience.’” But, if a large part of our universe is qualitatively difficult to understand shouldn’t that count against his argument that god created the universe so we could understand it? Is the quantum world not a part of this universe? Of course it is! Did god not create the quantum world? If not, who did? But this is absurd of course. Christians believe that god created the entire universe. Gilson simply has no response to this very relevant fact.

He might be trying to tell us that naturalism explains things supernaturalism does not. He says this quite explicitly, in fact. He doesn’t tell us what that has to do with the content of the chapter he’s supposedly critiquing, though; nor does he enlighten us on why he thinks it relevant that “The laws of nature have never been shown to change. Most acts of the supernatural have perfectly natural explanations today.”

He is ignoring the context here. This quotation was a part of my brief discussion about the quantum world. I said that naturalism describes this quantum world better than Gilson’s supernaturalist view. I said this because on the Christian view god supposedly created the world so we can understand it, but apparently we are unable to understand a large part of the world. This makes no sense on a supernaturalist view of the world, but makes perfect sense on a naturalist view of the world.

The other partial quote he uses has nothing to do with the quantum world argument I made. I said in full:

The laws of nature have never been shown to change. Most acts of the supernatural have perfectly natural explanations today, which leaves less and less room for the Christian god to hide. Christians must get increasingly clever about the rationalizations they use to ensure their god stays relevant. But this can only go on for so long. At this point in time I believe the evidence is such that the only logical god would be a Deistic god. As Lawrence M. Krauss said in his Wall Street Journal article: “Though the scientific process may be compatible with the vague idea of some relaxed deity who merely established the universe and let it proceed from there, it is in fact rationally incompatible with the detailed tenets of most of the world’s organized religions.” I believe this is the only logical religious position that is possible today.

I was alluding to Gilson’s ad hoc arguments here, describing his and other Christians’ rationalizations they continually use to prop up their ridiculous arguments, such as Gilson’s in his Chapter that god doesn’t want to intervene in the lives of his creations very often, when the facts say otherwise.

Gilson concludes his nonsensical reply with the following:

He does go on to add, “… which leaves less and less room for the Christian god [sic] to hide,” but again, there’s no indication of how that has anything to do with a chapter refuting Krauss’s argument that if science works then there must not be a God involved in nature. It’s another topic; an interesting one, but what it’s doing here in this location, I don’t know.
Now, if I felt the freedom to wander around and touch on multiple flaws in atheism, I could do so, just like he has with theism. I could go into detail on ways the Arizona Atheist missed the mark with his ad hoc accusation, his misunderstanding of the place of miracles and providence in Christianity, his demeaning view of Christians (with our “coincidences or hallucinations,” as if we can’t muster together the brain cells to think about such possibilities), his small view of a God who can’t do hard things, his mistaken view of God’s sovereign, ongoing relation to his creation, even his view of quantum physics.
If I did that, I would at least be responding to something he had said.
But rather than going into all that, I’ll just leave it at wondering, what is the Arizona Atheist after?

Krauss’ article discussed the fact that Christians’ rationalizations are becoming more and more desperate (like Gilson’s arguments in True Reason) and that the only god that is compatible with science is the god is Deism.

Actually, as I’ve explained throughout this reply I did not merely “touch on multiple flaws” of Christianity. I responded directly to the arguments of Gilson’s. His summary of what he believed my arguments to be were entirely inaccurate, and only once did he even correctly state my position, but failed to respond to my actual point.

The god of Christianity does appear to intervene within the world on a near constant basis, according to most Christians and the very basis of Christianity is premised upon miracle claims, placing it in direct conflict with science, which has shown the world to work with a certain regularity and consistency.

  • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

    I would find this amusing if it weren’t so sad. As I did before, I invite your readers to study what both of us have written and to draw their own conclusions. I won’t be checking in here again on this discussion. You’ve drawn your conclusions. They won’t change.

  • Arizona Atheist

    Hi Tom,

    I’m sorry, but what’s sad is the fact that not once have you explained what your argument even was, assuming I did make a mistake in reading your chapter. I have continually explained and defended what I firmly believe to be your argument, but you refuse to explain what I got wrong! I’m essentially having a one-sided conversation here. And you accuse me of being close-minded? How absurd. You’re not even giving me the chance to change my mind by engaging me in dialogue. It appears the only one who refuses to change their mind is you, given your refusal to discuss this chapter with me.

    Yes, readers can make up their own mind. And since you refuse to discuss anything with me or defend your argument in any meaningful or rational way it looks as if I’ve won this round since you’ve forfeited by refusing to debate the issues. I’m sure readers will see that very quickly and easily.

    • Tony Hoffman

      TG: “I would find this amusing if it weren’t so sad.”

      You don’t appear capable of comprehending how very careful and diligent criticism has exposed the dishonest and hollowness of your responses, so your attempt to condescend just makes you seem like more of an ass than before. That was a high bar, but you raised it.

      TG: “As I did before, I invite your readers to study what both of us have written and to draw their own conclusions.”

      I have. You’re clearly wrong and incapable of making reasonable assessments. As was pointed out to you in another thread here, other readers have come to similar conclusions when you have extended this same invitation. You are pretending that you won an argument, when in fact you didn’t even provide a defense.

      Suppose you were an apologist, and suppose you were dishonest, but I repeat myself.

      TG: “I won’t be checking in here again on this discussion. You’ve drawn your conclusions. They won’t change.”

      Anyone reading here can see how you fear real inquiry into your beliefs, and that you don’t have the courage to face that. It is as transparent and predictable as your poor rationalizations — like how you’ll have to pretend that you haven’t read these words because you vowed to not come back.

      When you start out lying to yourself you are an open book to everyone but yourself.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/azatheist/ Arizona Atheist

    I just noticed in the comments on your blog that you said: “Krauss and Haldane suppose that if theism were true, then miraculous events would muck up nature so badly that science would be impossible. God’s purposes are served where miracles happen, but rarely enough to be recognizable as such. Their theory depends on a kind of theism that no one believes in. That’s what I was explaining.”

    You’ve completely ignored my counter-argument. Most Christians do believe in a Christianity like that! I’ve known a number of them who see miraculous things happening all around them. Even one of your co-authors David Marshall believes miracles happen very often, for crying out loud. Not only do Christians believe their god performs miracles on an almost daily basis, but the very foundation of Christianity is premised on miracles. There is no religion of Christianity without them.

    By the way, this wasn’t the point of Krauss’ article (“Krauss and Haldane suppose that if theism were true, then miraculous events would muck up nature so badly that science would be impossible.”)

    In actuality, he was explaining how one cannot square away our modern scientific views of the world with many of the claims of ancient religions, such as the virgin birth with modern biology, and the inevitable conflict that arises with the dogmas of religions with the scientific facts we know about the world. You seemingly took the single quotation and wrongly believed Krauss was discussing something about too many miracles would make science impossible. He never said any such thing. In fact, about exactly this quote Krauss said: “Faced with the remarkable success of science to explain the workings of the physical world, many, indeed probably most, scientists understandably react as Haldane did. Namely, they extrapolate the atheism of science to a more general atheism.” He said nothing about miracles mucking up science; only that scientists often extrapolate their godless views of science and apply them to their daily lives. They not only become atheists when doing science, they are atheists when they are out of the lab too.

    • Jenna Black

      I am puzzled by your back and forth with Tom Gilson because you appear to think that you have dealt Tom’s argument some sort of fatal blow somewhere in your copious discussion of his chapter from True Reason titled “God and Science Do Mix.” I fail to find such a fatal-blow argument. In fact, I think that Krauss, Haldane and you all three are committing several equivocation fallacies: namely, equating the ordinary use of the term “miracle” in popular parlance with the term “miracle” in a theological, metaphysical and spiritual sense. When I as a Christian say that it was a miracle that I was able to get a parking space at the shopping mall on the Saturday before Christmas, this is a very different meaning of the term “miracle” than when I speak of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ordinariness of miracles such as finding a parking space should not be confused with the miracles that we Christians believe are God’s revelation of Himself and His character to humankind, collectively and individually.

      The second fallacy of equivocation that you commit is to equate atheism and science, as if to claim that science supports or affirms atheism, which it does not. This, IMO, is the main point of Tom Gilson’s chapter in True Reason. Science is silent on the question/issue of God’s “existence” (whatever it is that is meant by something named/labeled “God” to do whatever is meant by “exist”). Atheism is not silent on the question of God’s existence, while science is. And whenever scientists as individuals or collectively venture into the realm of speculation about “God’s existence,” they enter into the realm of theology, of which atheism is a branch (position, stance, philosophical perspective). Science is rightfully and ethically silent on issues of theology, although science can and does inform theology. After all, science is only a systematic methodology for inquiry into how God’s creation works.

  • ArizonaAtheist

    I apologize everyone. I noticed on a number of posts the Disqus comment system disappeared and reverted back to the standard WordPress comment system. I finally saw what happened. It got disabled somehow. I have just re-enabled it but all comments that were in WordPress vanished. Rest assured I will repost everyone’s comments that I can who posted on this post as long as I still have the notification email. I’ll copy and paste all lost comments back here. I just got one from someone named Jenna Black whose comment I want to respond to. It’s late so I’ll have to do it tomorrow. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

    I understand. Thanks, and and I sympathize with you for the work this will cause for you.

    • resipisence

      I bet, even now, you could not correctly summarize ArizonaAtheist’s argument to his satisfaction.

      • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

        Your estimate of my mental capacities is duly noted.

        • resipisence

          I never said anything about your mental capacities.

          • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

            Ri-i-ight.

          • resipisence

            O-o-kay then-n-n.

  • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

    AA,

    Let me answer these three points and then make a general observation.

    I argued that Gilson’s argument contradicts the facts in a number of ways. First, it defies typical Christian experience, when Christians see miracles occurring in their lives on a daily basis; second, the very creation of “something from nothing” is another miracle claim, and third, despite Gilson’s claims to the contrary, the universe is not as logical as he makes his readers believe. While our logical minds can grasp the universe on larger scales, our logical minds have much difficulty grasping the seeming illogical nature of the quantum world, where things appear to happen randomly and spontaneously without apparent reason or cause, which puts the universe at odds with our logical minds. Gilson’s reasons contradict everything we know about the universe and about Christianity.

    Earlier I had raised some questions about your first point there:

    He might be saying that miracles happen too often (according to Christian teaching) for science to work. That was the main subject matter of my chapter, so it would be a relevant complaint. He only refers to a very short list of miracles, however, so if that’s what he was after, it was a tepid attempt at best.

    He might be saying that Christians’ purported prayer answers, if they were real, would indicate God interfering with the natural order too often for science to work. But that’s not likely, because the prayer answers he points to are not the sort of thing that undermine the regularity of nature.

    He might be saying that Christians’ prayer answers are “mere coincidences or hallucinations” — in fact he does suggest that — but if that’s his complaint, he’s simply changing the subject. That’s an interesting question, but not one that has anything to do with my chapter in True Reason.

    You spilled a lot of ink complaining that I had misunderstood you saying “prayer answers” when all you said was “miracles.” I’ll come back to that later. For now, let’s try it this way:

    He might be saying that miracles happen too often (according to Christian teaching) for science to work. That was the main subject matter of my chapter, so it would be a relevant complaint. He only refers to a very short list of miracles, however, so if that’s what he was after, it was a tepid attempt at best.

    He might be saying that Christians’ purported experiences of providence , if they were real, would indicate God interfering with the natural order too often for science to work. But that’s not likely, because the experiences of providence he points to are not the sort of thing that undermine the regularity of nature.

    He might be saying that Christians’ experiences of providence are “mere coincidences or hallucinations” — in fact he does suggest that — but if that’s his complaint, he’s simply changing the subject. That’s an interesting question, but not one that has anything to do with my chapter in True Reason.

    You see, according to Christianity there are miracles God does that really violate the natural order. (Creation was not one of them. To create the natural order is not to violate natural law.) Yet they are too infrequent to have any relevance to Krauss’s point in his article. They don’t undermine science. Hence on that level my point stands.

    Now, there is another class of involvement God has in this world, which Christians typically regard as his providence. You say about that, “I would argue that causing an event to happen by making someone take a particular action that they may not have taken if not for the supernatural intervention seems to me to be a pretty large interference in the natural world.”

    But would you say that this “interference” is so disruptive that science is rendered impossible? I don’t think so: after all, science is possible. If God involves himself providentially in his creation as Christians think he is, then he does it in a manner that does not undermine science. Hence on that level my point also stands.

    (There’s an important question attached to all this, which is that “if” point: whether or not God is does that. Are these “providential experiences” real, or are they mere coincidence, hallucination, wishful thinking? That’s an interesting question, as I have already written, but not one that has anything to do with my chapter in True Reason.)

    You criticize my view “that god [sic] doesn’t want to intervene in the lives of his creations very often, when the facts say otherwise.” Actually, since the chapter was about the frequency of disruptive interventions–the sort that would render science unworkable–the facts do not say otherwise.

    Christians do not believe that God intervenes disruptively on a regular basis (where “disruptive” specifically means, disruptive to the workability of science, as is relevant to my True Reason chapter). My overall point stands in spite of your criticisms.

    That’s my answer to your first point and second points there. It’s the first step toward my thoughts yet to come.

    Your third point was that “despite Gilson’s claims to the contrary, the universe is not as logical as he makes his readers believe.” Actually, yes it is. I don’t know what else I should have to say to explain that. I said the universe was logical enough for persons to be responsible for our actions, to learn from our experiences, to recognize the “signal” of a miracle. Sure enough, the universe is logical enough for that.

    You are quite exercised, it seems, over my failure to “play catch” with you. Let me now explain to you why I’ve been slow to respond. First, some of your points have been too obviously refutable to be interesting enough to bother refuting twice. For example, your claims that creation ex nihilo violates natural law; that I was making false claims (in view of quantum physics) about the orderliness of creation; that there’s something about “nearly impossible” that makes it hard for God to do it; or that the miracles upon which Christianity was built, including the Resurrection, are of the sort that would disrupt the working of science. These are too obviously and easily answerable to bother with twice.

    The other reason I haven’t wanted to spend time answering could be wrapped up in part of your statement, “Gilson’s reasons contradict everything we know about the universe and about Christianity.”

    What we know about the universe, as I’ve already said again here, is not inconsistent with what I wrote about in my article on Krauss. I quoted that sentence because of, “Gilson’s reasons contradict everything we know … about Christianity.” Here’s where the matter of prayer answers and providence come in. You jumped all over me for confusing your friend’s experience with a prayer answer, but you don’t know enough about Christianity: that experience was in exactly the same class as most prayer answers, at least with respect to what God does providentially. You misunderstand what we claim to be true about God’s providential acts with respect to the regularity of nature that I wrote about in my True Reason chapter.

    Speaking of “providential,” I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that your understanding of God “interfering” or “intervening” in the natural world is simplistic. (There’s a lot of simplistic thinking about this out there, even among Christians.) God’s involvement might contradict what you think is true about Christianity, but it doesn’t contradict what reasonably thoughtful Christians know about Christianity. (There are Christians who have not thought this through, but we’re dealing with Christianity as it’s been thought through here.)

    I get the sense that you “know” things about Christianity that just aren’t true, and more importantly, I get the sense that you’re not interested in learning about them. I could be wrong about that. Am I? It’s just an impression, after all, so I’m going to raise it as a question and let you respond. Anyway, here’s the thing: the contradictions you imagine that I was making, are contradictions with your small-g-god conception of Christianity. They’re not contradictions with the real thing.

    If I thought you really cared to learn about what you don’t understand, I’d be more willing to “play catch” with you. Are you? If not, then this conversation has run its useful course.

    • ArizonaAtheist

      Hi Tom,

      Let’s see if we can sort this out.

      You see, according to Christianity there are miracles God does that really violate the natural order. (Creation was not one of them. To create the natural order is not to violate natural law.) Yet they are too infrequent to have any relevance to Krauss’s point in his article. They don’t undermine science. Hence on that level my point stands.

      Now, there is another class of involvement God has in this world, which Christians typically regard as his providence. You say about that, “I would argue that causing an event to happen by making someone take a particular action that they may not have taken if not for the supernatural intervention seems to me to be a pretty large interference in the natural world.”

      But would you say that this “interference” is so disruptive that science is rendered impossible? I don’t think so: after all, science is possible. If God involves himself providentially in his creation as Christians think he is, then he does it in a manner that does not undermine science. Hence on that level my point also stands.

      (There’s an important question attached to all this, which is that “if” point: whether or not God is does that. Are these “providential experiences” real, or are they mere coincidence, hallucination, wishful thinking? That’s an interesting question, as I have already written, but not one that has anything to do with my chapter in True Reason.)

      Actually, quantum physics does not tell us that the universe came from “nothing,” but from a vacuum, but for scientific purposes it could be considered “nothing” in a sense. And quantum physics can also be used to show that the universe had no beginning, so I’m not sure what your point with that was.

      I used the creation as an example because it effectively is a miracle that some super being created everything from literally nothing. This has nothing to do with science and neither does the creation story in Genesis have anything to do with what we know scientifically either.

      I find it ironic that you think that the fact science is possible is somehow proof that Christianity is compatible with science since it is the lack of legit miracles that provides evidence of the falsity of Christianity.

      I also doubt that your chapter was discussing the issue of science only since you also injected morality into the discussion, so I do not understand why you are getting so hung up over my not sticking to disruptions in science. It appeared that your argument revolved around interferences within nature itself, not with science specifically. If that was the case, the issue of morality has nothing to do with that.

      You criticize my view “that god [sic] doesn’t want to intervene in the lives of his creations very often, when the facts say otherwise.” Actually, since the chapter was about the frequency of disruptive interventions–the sort that would render science unworkable–the facts do not say otherwise.

      Christians do not believe that God intervenes disruptively on a regular basis (where “disruptive” specifically means, disruptive to the workability of science, as is relevant to my True Reason chapter). My overall point stands in spite of your criticisms.

      You said about communications from god would have to be done “infrequently” and that there “must be an ordinary course of events, so that we can discern what is out of the ordinary.”

      As I argued, Christians claim to experience miracles on a near daily basis. Given the fact that there are millions of Christians in the world it stands to reason that with all these Christians claiming miraculous events, there must be an awful lot of supernatural interventions taking place.

      Once again, if you say that your entire chapter was about science only then why was one of your arguments about god wanting to ensure a regularity of nature so “humans” could be “responsible moral agents?” You argued that “we must be able to judge in advance the likely results of our actions.” You then cite the possible accidental poisoning of children should vegetables be randomly poisoned. This has nothing to do with science. It has to do with morality. Since you did not stick to the issue of science, I do not see why you are being so harsh that I did not stick to the issue of scientific experiment. Once again, either your chapter was poorly written, or you were not discussing only science, which seems to be indicated by what you have written.

      Your third point was that “despite Gilson’s claims to the contrary, the universe is not as logical as he makes his readers believe.” Actually, yes it is. I don’t know what else I should have to say to explain that. I said the universe was logical enough for persons to be responsible for our actions, to learn from our experiences, to recognize the “signal” of a miracle. Sure enough, the universe is logical enough for that.

      Interesting. You argue that god wanted to make nature predictable so we could do science and other things. However, nature is not always as predictable or as easily understood as you seem to want to believe. The quantum world is an important part of the world that your god is said to have created. Therefore, if he created the world (meaning all of it) then it should be easily understood, according to your argument, but this is not true.

      The other reason I haven’t wanted to spend time answering could be wrapped up in part of your statement, “Gilson’s reasons contradict everything we know about the universe and about Christianity.”

      What we know about the universe, as I’ve already said again here, is not inconsistent with what I wrote about in my article on Krauss. I quoted that sentence because of, “Gilson’s reasons contradict everything we know … about Christianity.” Here’s where the matter of prayer answers and providence come in. You jumped all over me for confusing your friend’s experience with a prayer answer, but you don’t know enough about Christianity: that experience was in exactly the same class as most prayer answers, at least with respect to what God does providentially. You misunderstand what we claim to be true about God’s providential acts with respect to the regularity of nature that I wrote about in my True Reason chapter.

      What you said was this: ”He might be saying that Christians’ purported prayer answers, if they were real, would indicate God interfering with the natural order too often for science to work. But that’s not likely, because the prayer answers he points to are not the sort of thing that undermine the regularity of nature.”

      What I said about this was not about prayer but about the actions god must have had to take in order to make these events happen: “Did my friend’s god get inside of that man’s head and convince him to get rid of perfectly good chairs? Did my friend’s god also get inside of his head and tell him to go down that street at that exact time of day? If not, why not?”

      The Christian god tweaking with peoples’ actions or thoughts and making people do things would be an example of a major interference in the world. And you did not appear at all to argue that any of this had to do with interferences in science, but in nature in general.

      Speaking of “providential,” I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that your understanding of God “interfering” or “intervening” in the natural world is simplistic. (There’s a lot of simplistic thinking about this out there, even among Christians.) God’s involvement might contradict what you think is true about Christianity, but it doesn’t contradict what reasonably thoughtful Christians know about Christianity. (There are Christians who have not thought this through, but we’re dealing with Christianity as it’s been thought through here.)

      I get the sense that you “know” things about Christianity that just aren’t true, and more importantly, I get the sense that you’re not interested in learning about them. I could be wrong about that. Am I? It’s just an impression, after all, so I’m going to raise it as a question and let you respond. Anyway, here’s the thing: the contradictions you imagine that I was making, are contradictions with your small-g-god conception of Christianity. They’re not contradictions with the real thing.

      If I thought you really cared to learn about what you don’t understand, I’d be more willing to “play catch” with you. Are you? If not, then this conversation has run its useful course.

      I did not know being Christian blessed you with psychic powers and the ability to read my mind. I’m sorry, but I am perfectly willing to debate issues, but it’s a little difficult when someone appears to be continually shifting their arguments, just as you did with a previous chapter. So, I am sorry if I take much of what you say with a grain of salt.

      I also take offense that you’re accusing me of avoiding a conversation, since it has been you who has up until this point refused to deal directly with my counter-arguments. This has been the first real beginning of a discussion on this topic, this is my first reply on this topic, and you’re already accusing me of not wanting a true discussion. That’s pretty silly.

      Essentially you’re arguing against the whole typical Christian experience. Christians, like my friend, claim to have interventions in their lives by god on a near daily basis. I understand Christianity, but apologists such as yourself seem to always want to keep Christianity in some kind of box that only you can define, which lies is stark contrast to the typical Christian experience. I’m sorry, but I believe your comments are without foundation.

      • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

        I wrote up a long response to this but I’m not going to post it. I don’t want to drag this out any longer.

        In that long reply I demonstrated that you were
        • changing the subject for no apparent reason at one point,
        • using a complete non sequitur at another,
        • quoting me out of all context at another,
        • failing to display that understanding of one of my repeated arguments at another,
        • failing to notice several things I wrote at another.

        And you are blithely unaware of it all.

        This is all documented. If anyone wants the details they can contact me.

        Just by way of a sample: it is a complete non sequitur to say that “If God had intended the world to be readily understandable at a macro level, then God would have intended it to be readily understandable at the quantum level.” So it’s also a non sequitur to suppose (as you wrote), that “If he created the world (meaning all of it) then it [the quantum world] should be easily understood, according to your argument.”

        Otherwise I am done here. It’s just not worth re-explaining and re-explaining what you keep re-missing and re-missing. Good day to you.

        • ArizonaAtheist

          Tom,

          I’m sorry, but I find all of this horribly disingenuous. You accuse me of changing the subject when all I’ve done is quote from your book to try to figure out what you’re arguing. What you’ve said throughout your defenses of your chapters do not line up directly with the text in your chapters. When asked about this, rather than try to explain the contradiction, you accuse me of changing the subject or not understanding what you write. I quoted you accurately and fully. You have provided no examples.

          It is not a non sequitur to argue that if god created the world he would make all of it understandable. The regular and quantum are inseparable, but you apparently don’t know anything about physics. It thus follows that if your god created the world then he created all of it and made all of it understandable. He did not, therefore your argument fails. This is not rocket science.

          First, you refuse to discuss the issues. Then you finally do post a response to which I think I have some fair questions, to which you completely refuse to answer. Instead of responding to my questions you imagine all kinds of fallacies I never committed, all without posting any legit examples! It’s preposterous.

          Your statement that you took the time to write up a response to my questions and then refusing to post it appears to me to be a diversionary tactic to avoid dealing with legitimate questions. My advice to you, if you did indeed argue what you claim you did, is to learn to write more clearly and not to get so riled up when someone points out that what you have written and what you argue do not appear to sync up.

          • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

            Oh, this is both sad and hilarious at the same time.

            AA, do you remember saying, “I did not know being Christian blessed you with psychic powers and the ability to read my mind.”

            Do you realize you made that sarcastic comment with respect to questions I had asked you? Do you know the difference between mind-reading and asking a person whether they’re thinking something? Look at how tentatively I presented it:

            … I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that …. I get the sense that … I get the sense that… I could be wrong about that. Am I? It’s just an impression, after all, so I’m going to raise it as a question and let you respond…

            Again, it’s not mind-reading to ask whether a person is thinking x. it’s just asking whether they’re thinking x.

            But now in your comment, with hardly any tentativeness, and without taking me up on my very real offer to provide the document of which I spoke, you say,

            Your statement that you took the time to write up a response to my questions and then refusing to post it appears to me to be a diversionary tactic to avoid dealing with legitimate questions…. What makes this entire display look even worse is that you say that you will share your critiques with anyone else if they ask, but you refuse to provide them to me, let alone allow me to defend my arguments from your critiques. That seems pretty underhanded I must say.

            What mind-reading led you to conclude that I wouldn’t share my document with you? You didn’t ask for it! What mind-reading led you to conclude that I was being “underhanded” about the reasons I gave? It wasn’t a diversionary tactic. (What a stupid one it would have been, if that had been the case!)

            Do you realize how blessedly ironic this is?

            I’m not trying to avoid dealing with legitimate questions, I’m extracting myself from this discussion with something resembling closure.

            Goodbye.

          • Tony Hoffman

            TG still cannot be honest. He pretends and tries to leave under false pretenses because he knows that if his “arguments” are ever explored with any real rigor they are revealed as circular, fallacious, or without evidence.

            Tom tries to blow smoke in his “last” comment here by saying:

            TG: “Do you realize you made that sarcastic comment [AZ: “I did not know being Christian blessed you with psychic powers and the ability to read my mind.”] with respect to questions I had asked you?” and then pretends that AZ’s sarcasm was in reference to something Tom had said paragraphs earlier — “I could be wrong about that. Am I” — in order to pretend that this was what AZ’s sarcarsm referred to.

            But the saracasm immediately followed this:

            TG: “If I thought you really cared to learn about what you don’t understand, I’d be more willing to “play catch” with you. Are you? If not, then this conversation has run its useful course.”

            So, Tom, rather than being “tentative, etc.” as he pretends, insinuates that AZ doesn’t care about learning and that he doesn’t understand something that Tom does. Hardly a stance I’d call tentative — the proper term, I think, (especially considering how poorly shaped are Tom’s thoughts) is “presumptuous.”

            So, Tom’s comment is indeed presumptuous, and without irony, and in response (well-earned, after how much work AZ has put into trying to get Tom to substantively engage on the topic he introduced) to AZ’s sarcasm over this, Tom tries to pretend that he has only been tentative and modest. This pretending is better termed lying.

            Tom Gilson is an obviously muddled thinker, and he is highly dishonest. Tom Gilson identifies himself as a leader in Christian apologetics. Because of all this, Tom Gilson is helping the world walk away from superstitions like Christianity faster than they would without his help. For this, I thank him.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Tony you’re exactly correct. That’s for a excellent summary. I hate to say it but Tom is going entirely off the rails here. He’s made no sense at all in these discussions.

          • Tony Hoffman

            What do you call someone who asserts that he has a winning argument but won’t disclose it? What do you call someone who states that he has been treated unfairly by a party but won’t disclose the evidence, then contradicts himself by stating, “What mind-reading led you to conclude that I wouldn’t share my document with you? You didn’t ask for it!”

            Liar Guy: “I won’t share my document with you.”
            Me: “Okay. You won’t share your document with me.”
            Liar Guy: “What do you mean I won’t share my document with you; all you had to do was ask for it!”

            Tom Gilson is an obviously muddled thinker, and he is highly dishonest. Tom Gilson identifies himself as a leader in Christian apologetics. Because of all this, Tom Gilson is helping the world walk away from superstitions like Christianity faster than they would without his help. For this, I thank him.

          • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

            Tony, I have disclosed my winning argument in every comment and post here.

            You say “Liar Guy” said “I won’t share my document with you.” You seem to be attributing that to me, but I never said it.

            Goodbye.

          • Tony Hoffman

            TG (latest): “You say ‘Liar Guy’ said ‘I won’t share my document with you.’ You seem to be attributing that to me, but I never said it.”

            TG (earlier): “I wrote up a long response to this but I’m not going to post it.”

            I paraphrased what you said and attributed it to Liar Guy. I agree with you that the similarity should make you feel awkward.

            I stand by everything I’ve written here. You are perhaps the most dishonest commenter I’ve ever come across. That’s not meant to be an insult; it’s meant to be a fact. You should try an deal with the fact, instead of taking umbrage at what you think makes you appear shabby — because what makes you appear shabby is, well, you.

          • resipisence

            i think he’s more like a lawyer. he has been hired to defend christianity, so he will do so by whatever means necessary.

        • Tony Hoffman

          TG: “I wrote up a long response to this but I’m not going to post it. I don’t want to drag this out any longer. / In that long reply I demonstrated that you were: ”

          Hysterical. Like all apologists, rather than (ever) provide evidence you resort to merely asserting that which you cannot demonstrate. And, like all who demand authoritarian obedience, you want us to accept an argument based solely on your say-so. I don’t know if you’re bad at thinking and that’s why you’re drawn to apologetics, or if apologetics has destroyed your capacity for thinking.

          You latest sums up apologetics as well as anything I’ve ever seen. Kudos to you for never disappointing in providing an endless stream of reasons to run, run from apologetics as a past-time.

    • resipisence
      • SteveK

        Let me caption that last one…

        For giving me life, for my parents my caretakers my siblings, for the little food and water I have, for each day, for your redeeming grace, for the ability to love others, for reconciling me to God and for one day making me whole again.

        • resipisence

          Two things I love about that comment:

          1. Assuming the child is Christian and will go to heaven.

          2. Tacitly admitting that allowing a young child to starve to death when you could easily have prevented it is okay.

          • SteveK

            1) I did assume that. There were no rules attached to the image so why is this a problem? If I had assumed the child was not a believer would you have been equally critical of my caption? Probably not. Oops, I’m making an assumption again.

            2) I didn’t tacitly admit anything like that. Who’s doing the assuming now? You, that’s who.

          • resipisence

            If you didn’t assume the child was Christian:

            1: “For giving me life, for my parents my caretakers my siblings, for the little food and water I have, for each day, for your redeeming grace, for the ability to love others, for removing me from God forever due to being born in the wrong place and condemning me to eternal suffering in the afterlife.”

            I wouldn’t argue with that simply because it’d be hilariously honest.

            On 2: Are you saying, then, that it is morally wrong to knowingly allow a young child to starve to death when you can trivially easily prevent it?

          • SteveK

            1) It should be obvious that I would have worded the caption differently if I assumed the child wasn’t a believer. The question remains, would you have complained about that assumption too?

            2) Morally wrong for who? For humans, it likely is. For God, no. If you don’t understand why this is the case, then I suggest you look into it.

          • resipisence

            1: I already answered your question, I wouldn’t argue with you celebrating God torturing then condemning a child to hell because the absurdity of your position would be obvious.

            2: God would be an evil monster in my books if that were true, I don’t buy into moral double standards.

          • SteveK

            1) celebrating torturing? Why would I or anyone put that into a caption that started with “Thank you Jesus”? Sheesh!

            2) Rather than get emotional about it, I suggest you look into who God must be (his nature) in order to be God. God isn’t human.

            I’m reasonably confident that you already do buy into a *justified* moral double standard. I’m sure that you wouldn’t hold animals to the same moral standard as humans.

          • resipisence

            I’ve lost sight of what you’re going for in 1. Care to explain?

            What could you possibly mean by “who god must be in order to be god”?

            Animals mostly do not have the capacity for moral reasoning, so they cannot be held to a moral standard. Dogs have a certain capacity, so they are held to a standard higher than that of cats but less than that of humans. If god existed it would have a greater moral capacity than humans, and therefore should be held to higher standards than humans. Here, you admitted that we hold humans to higher standards.

          • SteveK

            1) I’m attempting to steady your moving argument/complaint. We began with you criticizing me for making one assumption and me asking if you would also complain if I made a different assumption. You changed your complaint to something else – some silly nonsense that you assumed I would say in my caption. I’m happy to stop chasing your complaints so that’s what I will do – stop.

            2) I mean the nature/form of the being we call God. What does that nature/being look like? Like I said, I suggest you look into this as it will greatly help you in conversations about God and morality. I’m serious.

            As for your comment about morality, This “higher moral standard” must exist as a real objective thing in order for it to be applicable to God. I have some questions about your moral beliefs.

            a) When did this standard come into existence?
            b) In what form does it exist now and has it changed over time?
            c) Do you believe this is some platonic form “out there” somewhere?

          • resipisence

            1. I criticized you for assuming the child was Christian because we were talking about the suffering it undergoes due to starvation that you claim was allowed by god, and you tried to put a positive spin on the situation by claiming the child would go to heaven and thus god would “make [the child] whole again”. If the child was not Christian, what could it possibly thank god for?

            2. What does god look like? What does god’s nature look like? You are suggesting that I look into something that I have already looked into, which I find patronising. Tell me what you think, or don’t; all we have is this conversation.

            Moral standards are the expectations a reasonable person would have for an agent based on its abilities in predicting and acting on states of the wellbeing of other conscious creatures, in my book. You obviously mean something completely different, since you talk about standards coming into existence. Let’s just say that I see no reason to believe in platonic forms.

            In the case of god vs. human moral standards, humans have limited knowledge and capacities, but they have the capacity to recognize and prevent the suffering of a single starving child in their vicinity and so they can be expected to do so. God is supposed to have ultimate knowledge, power and benevolence, and yet despite its supposed capacity to end all hunger on Earth, it does not. Notice that this has nothing to do with free will, fruit trees could be grown using a miracle everywhere that they are needed, preventing hunger without affecting human free will. In this case, your god seems to be knowingly allowing humans to suffer the most it is possible for a human to suffer, letting them die of preventable deaths and then sending a large portion of them to hell for being born to parents that follow the wrong religion. This is a vision of an immoral god. However, this is all nonsense because miracles just do not occur, and there is no reason to think that they do.

            How do you explain god’s treatment of the starving pagan child?

          • SteveK

            >> “If the child was not Christian, what could it possibly thank god for?”

            The child could thank God for whatever is good. There are a lot of good things that even a non-Christian could list.

            >> “You obviously mean something completely different, since you talk about standards coming into existence. Let’s just say that I see no reason to believe in platonic forms.”

            Well, all I know is that you do have reason to believe this higher moral standard actually exists such that humans and God could know about it. If it doesn’t exist as a platonic form, what form does this moral standard take? Surely you’ve given this some thought.

          • resipisence

            Me:

            Moral standards are the expectations a reasonable person would have for an agent based on its abilities in predicting and acting on states of the wellbeing of other conscious creatures, in my book

            You:

            this higher moral standard actually exists such that humans and God could know about it. If it doesn’t exist as a platonic form, what form does this moral standard take?

            It just seems like you’re asking me to repeat myself, which I find irritating. Please pay attention.

            The child could thank God for whatever is good. There are a lot of good things that even a non-Christian could list.

            By all means, please do so for the starving-to-death pagan child who’ll certainly go to hell.

          • SteveK

            >>”Please pay attention.”

            Yes, please do that. All you’ve done is you have defined the standard. I asked you what form it takes.

            >>”By all means, please do so…”

            For life, for the ability to love others, for the kindness of my caretakers, for the birds and the flowers, for my friends.

            I could go on.

          • resipisence

            You are asking what form “expectations a reasonable person would have for an agent” takes? Your question simply does not make sense.

            You assume that the child has the ability to love. Some people are psychopaths who do not experience empathy, and the genes for such disorders predominate in environments where there is lots of conflict because the remorseless survive more easily, e.g. when a population is starving. Also it is well-documented that environments that lack stimulation for a child can lead to stunted brain growth, so if that is combined with lack of nutrients with which to build the brain you would easily end up with a child that could not empathise with or care for other humans. So, in this way, many people in the world are born without love. Furthermore, there would likely be no birds or flowers in an area that had enough poverty that people’s children starve to death, because both of those things require nutrients too.

            This essentially means that you do not yet have a list of things to thank this god for as a pagan, starving child. Instead of continuing this terrible, heartless game, why not just acknowledge the absolutely pointless suffering these children have to go through as they drop like flies every day? Why do you absolve your god of this horrifying crime?

          • SteveK

            I think I’m done here. You complain about my assumptions by making assumptions of your own.

          • resipisence

            I gave reasons for my assumptions, scientific ones that I can bring experimental evidence to the table to justify if so you choose, every claim I made about children’s brains came from my neuroscience textbook and from TED talks. From your behaviour, it looks like your only reason is that you like believing in a nice god and refuse to condemn the suffering of these children to keep your belief safe. To me, it looks like you are rationalising immorality/evil. Sure, leave if you feel you cannot defend your beliefs, I hope someday you can achieve happiness by abandoning dogma.

  • ArizonaAtheist

    Jenna Black wrote:

    I am puzzled by your back and forth with Tom Gilson because you appear to think that you have dealt Tom’s argument some sort of fatal blow somewhere in your copious discussion of his chapter from True Reason titled “God and Science Do Mix.” I fail to find such a fatal-blow argument. In fact, I think that Krauss, Haldane and you all three are committing several equivocation fallacies: namely, equating the ordinary use of the term “miracle” in popular parlance with the term “miracle” in a theological, metaphysical and spiritual sense. When I as a Christian say that it was a miracle that I was able to get a parking space at the shopping mall on the Saturday before Christmas, this is a very different meaning of the term “miracle” than when I speak of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ordinariness of miracles such as finding a parking space should not be confused with the miracles that we Christians believe are God’s revelation of Himself and His character to humankind, collectively and individually.

    The second fallacy of equivocation that you commit is to equate atheism and science, as if to claim that science supports or affirms atheism, which it does not. This, IMO, is the main point of Tom Gilson’s chapter in True Reason. Science is silent on the question/issue of God’s “existence” (whatever it is that is meant by something named/labeled “God” to do whatever is meant by “exist”). Atheism is not silent on the question of God’s existence, while science is. And whenever scientists as individuals or collectively venture into the realm of speculation about “God’s existence,” they enter into the realm of theology, of which atheism is a branch (position, stance, philosophical perspective). Science is rightfully and ethically silent on issues of theology, although science can and does inform theology. After all, science is only a systematic methodology for inquiry into how God’s creation works.

    • ArizonaAtheist

      Hi Jenna,

      You write:

      The ordinariness of miracles such as finding a parking space should not be confused with the miracles that we Christians believe are God’s revelation of Himself and His character to humankind, collectively and individually.

      This is a fair question. I used a variety of brief examples, from Jesus’ resurrection, the creation of the universe from literally nothing, and also answers to wishes, which all would be violations of natural law in some way. You seem to be hung up on my example of my friend and his thanking god for finding some chairs. As I said in my response to the chapter about this: “Did my friend’s god get inside of that man’s head and convince him to get rid of perfectly good chairs? Did my friend’s god also get inside of his head and tell him to go down that street at that exact time of day?”

      First of all, my friend was clearly thanking god and attributing god for helping him find chairs. He did not believe it was a coincidence, based upon what he said. Following this, what I was referring to here was the fact that, assuming god did truly intervene in the world what would he have to do in order to make something like this happen, to have my friend drive down that particular street at that particular time? And what would cause another man he did not even know to set chairs out in his yard when he did? The only thing I can think of (assuming again, that this was not a mere coincidence and that god did indeed help my friend find the chairs) is that god got inside of both men’s heads, directing their actions so my friend would end up driving past this man’s house at a certain time and the man placing the chairs outside at a certain time. This, I would argue, is a pretty large intervention in the world, which is what Tom is arguing hardly takes place, but in fact, interventions of this sort take place all the time, at least according to Christians. I hope that makes things more clear.

      On to your second point, I did not imply that science implies atheism. Atheism is the non-belief of all gods, but both Krauss and I said that we believe the only god compatible with the findings of science is a Desitic god, which is far from atheism.

      • CodyGirl824

        Arizona Atheist,

        I entered this discussion from my visits to Tom Gilson’s blog Thinking Christian, where he discusses these exchanges between the two of you. My understanding of your exchanges is that you claim that Tom is wrong in what he argues in his chapter in True Reason titled “God and science do mix.” Your counterclaim, as I understand it, is that God (the God with a capital G of monotheism) and science don’t mix (are incompatible) because of Christians’ claims about miracles in our lives, which in your opinion are too numerous to allow “science to work.” You also appear to define the term “miracle” as any “intervention in the world”, including God’s “getting into someone’s head” and wish fulfillment among Christians living today but also the Resurrection and creation ex nihilo that “violate the laws of nature.” Your claim, if I understand you correctly, is that the Christian belief that these frequent inventions are from God defeats Tom Gilson’s argument that God and science do mix.

        This is why I point out that science is an epistemology, a way of knowing about the world, the systematic methodology for inquiry into how the material, physical world works (what we Christians refer to as God’s creation). If you and Krauss believe that study of the natural, physical, material world is only compatible with the god of deism, then the problem is not with God but with your understanding of God. Science is in no way incompatible with the God of Judaism and Christianity. Tom Gilson is right.

        If you really were to examine beliefs about miracles in Christianity, I’m sure that you will find when many Christians speak of “miracles” in our lives, we are talking about encounters with God, experiences of/with God, which do not “violate the laws of nature” in any metaphysical or supernatural sense. I like this quotation from Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1959, 2004) in his book “God, Man and History” calls these experiences “encounters” with God and says this about “proof.” “If the encounter is experienced in reality, what need of proofs? If, however, the encounter is not part of possible human experience, what use all proof?”

        If you and Krauss and your fellow atheists believe that the only acceptable and useful epistemology in the knowledge acquisition tool box of humanity is science, then that is your belief. This stance aids atheists in their quest to deny any reality other than the physical, material, natural world and their rejection of the reality of the spiritual, metaphysical realm. However, you are off-track and misguided to argue that Tom Gilson is wrong in his argument that for Christians science and God do mix.

        Jenna Black

        • ArizonaAtheist

          Hi Jenna,

          Of course, not all Christians use that term. It’s a common phrase to say, “Boy that was a miracle that this bus didn’t hit us.” I’ve even said things like this just because it’s a part of the society in which I grew up and it rubbed off on me. Do I believe it was a supernatural event? No, it’s just a lucky coincidence. However, Gilson isn’t talking about that. He is talking about literal interventions. And that is what I tried to focus on and tried to explain the mechanisms by which the Christian god might go about making these events happen (eg. Getting inside someone’s head to make them drive by someone’s house and find chairs).

          I’d like to make two final remarks. Science is not opposed to the supernatural. I’ve addressed this in a few posts in this series (most notably here). Finally, I haven’t seen any argument from either you or Tom that disproves anything I’ve said. All you’ve both done is declare I am incorrect without providing any reasons whatsoever. He hasn’t even responded to any of my previous questions.

          I’m wrong about what Christians views as miracles? How? I will provide you with a few quotes. In Summa Contra Gentiles Thomas Aquinas said that “those things are properly called miracles which are done by divine agency beyond the order commonly observed in nature.” Dr. Eric Mascall in the Chamber’s Encyclopedia writes that a miracle is “a striking interposition of divine power by which the operations of the ordinary course of nature are overruled.” The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy defines a miracle as an “extraordinary event whose occurrence does not conform with natural law, and which is deemed to have a supernatural cause, such as God.” Given this common definition, it should be clear that you and Tom are veering outside of orthodox Christianity and my definition is correct. So, please stop the with comments about “Internet atheists” as you did on Tom’s blog. I am not an “Internet atheist,” or some ignoramus who is ignorant of Christian beliefs. I have done my homework and have done a lot of thinking about these issues.

          • CodyGirl824

            AA,

            I agree with you that science is not “opposed” to the supernatural. Science is silent on the supernatural, and silence is not opposition. The problem here is that you speak of “Christian beliefs” about miracles as if these are one single uniform something as defined by some authority that Tom Gilson and I are not conforming to or “veering outside of orthodox Christianity” in our discussion. How do you claim that your trying “…to explain the mechanisms by which the Christian god might go about making these events happen” refutes Tom Gilson’s argument that science and God do mix? The fact is that we Christians know a miracle when we experience one, and that’s good enough for God’s purposes in revealing Himself to us.

            Tom Gilson’s argument is that science and the experience of miracles are not incompatible or in conflict. In fact, the definitions you offer here of miracles confirm TG’s argument. If there were no “natural law” that is consistent and predictable, then no one would be able to distinguish a miracle from any other ordinary event. I do not doubt that you have done a lot of thinking about these issues, but to claim that some Christians “veer” from an “orthodoxy” based on what you think Christians think does not lend credibility to your argument.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Codygirl,

            There were a number of examples I could have used (such as miraculous healings, etc.) but I thought I’d include a little personal story to make things interesting. About that story, it demonstrates that miracles are happening all of the time (unlike what Gilson argues). I called this incident with my friend a miracle because 1) My friend expressed it at such and 2) Taking my friend at his word that this really was an act of god, what steps must have god taken to cause this event to happen? Well, I surmised that god must have tweaked with the brain chemistry of both men’s minds to get them to take the actions needed for this event to occur, which would constitute a violation of natural law since our brains cannot be randomly controlled in that manner. Of course, I provided other examples, too. Regardless of the specific example, Christians say miracles are occurring all of the time, and neither of you have refuted this. Here is another example: http://www.godvine.com/Boy-Falls-Out-a-Window-and-Receives-a-Miracle-Healing-584.html and another: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_23012962/vatican-declares-colorado-springs-miracle-after-prayers-nun and another: http://www.christianpost.com/news/pope-francis-approves-miraculous-healing-of-blind-boy-attribution-to-nj-nun-111171/ and finally: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/vatican-confirms-colorado-boy-healed-thanks-miracle-article-1.1318597

            These are pretty spectacular miracles, but according to Tom, miracles of this sort don’t happen very often. And I could cite hundreds more, but that would be redundant. I think my point has been made.

            Sorry, I did not see this part of your previous comment: “My understanding of your exchanges is that you claim that Tom is wrong in what he argues in his chapter in True Reason titled “God and science do mix.” Your counterclaim, as I understand it, is that God (the God with a capital G of monotheism) and science don’t mix (are incompatible) because of Christians’ claims about miracles in our lives, which in your opinion are too numerous to allow “science to work.””

            I addressed this point here in the comments. I do not believe Tom was only addressing miracles in science, but also in natural law because he argued that god wants humans to be able to predict what occurs in daily live (because of the predictability of nature) and one of the reasons he does this is for scientific experiments. Another reason Tom cites is morality. But as I asked him, what does morality have to do with science experiments being possible? So, this is why I do not believe his chapter was only about science and miracles. He has yet to respond to my question and he got rather rude with me after I asked. In sum, since Tom’s arguments did not only pertain to science neither do my own counterclaims.

            In your previous comment you argued: “If you really were to examine beliefs about miracles in Christianity, I’m sure that you will find when many Christians speak of “miracles” in our lives, we are talking about encounters with God, experiences of/with God, which do not “violate the laws of nature” in any metaphysical or supernatural sense.”

            In response to this I provided a number of quotes demonstrating that Christians do often view miracles as violations of natural law. In your most recent comment you argue: “In fact, the definitions you offer here of miracles confirm TG’s argument. If there were no “natural law” that is consistent and predictable, then no one would be able to distinguish a miracle from any other ordinary event.”

            I was actually responding to your comment that Christians don’t define a miracle in the way I do, which I proved incorrect. Now you make a new argument, which has nothing to do with Tom’s argument. His argument is that god intervenes in the world with very few miracles. He does not define what a miracle is in his book. There is a natural law, in which miracles would be in violation of, thus making Christianity incompatible with science.

            You write: “The fact is that we Christians know a miracle when we experience one, and that’s good enough for God’s purposes in revealing Himself to us.”

            Doesn’t this comment of yours undermine your own argument? You argue that my friend’s claim of a miracle wasn’t actually a miracle, but as you say, shouldn’t my friend know when he experiences a miracle and when he doesn’t?

            Finally, you write: “I do not doubt that you have done a lot of thinking about these issues, but to claim that some Christians “veer” from an “orthodoxy” based on what you think Christians think does not lend credibility to your argument.”

            It’s not “what I think” Christians believe, it’s what I know most Christians believe. I cited the typical definition of miracle in my last comment and in this one I cited a number of miracles believed by Christians.

          • CodyGirl824

            AA,

            At the key of your critique of TG’s argument from his chapter in True Reason is a clear definition of the term “miracle.” In fact, you and Tom appear to agree on a definition, yet you base what you believe to be a counter-argument on “Christians” use of the term miracle to cover a range of events, experiences and communications with God, many and possibly most of which don’t meet the agreed upon definition of the meaning of the term “miracle.” You appear to accept that anything any Christian terms a “miracle” to mean an intervention from God that violates the laws of nature (such as raising Jesus from the dead) to argue that miracles are too frequent to allow science to work, without seeing that the linguistic and semantic reality is that the term “miracle” is not always used with the precise theological meaning that you and Tom Gilson have agreed on.

            I completely understand Tom Gilson’s frustration with this dialogue. You are making up the rules as you go along.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Hi Cody,

            Your rhetoric is beginning to sound like Tom’s and you’re beginning to not make any sense. Have you even followed the discussion between Tom and I or have you just read what he says on his blog? In fact, Tom is the one refusing to respond to a question I posed to him after the first round of discussions about this particular chapter. He’s since proclaimed that I don’t know what I’m talking about without even beginning to back up his statements with any facts. This can be plainly seen throughout this discussion. Even other commentators have noticed it.

            I am not shifting my arguments. I responded to your argument about the definition of miracles and how Christians define them. I provided a number of definitions that back up the definition I used throughout my blog post. You reply that “the definitions you offer here of miracles confirm TG’s argument.” I’m not even sure what you mean here. Tom’s only point in the chapter is the frequency with which miracles occur. You are the one who disputed the definition I was using, to which I provided a few definitions confirming I was correct.

            Your entire train of thought is too confusing to follow. Your responses don’t even directly respond to anything I’ve said. I tried to lay it all out and explain, but it’s just too time consuming, I’m sorry.

            I suggest you come back when you have read my initial post along with the one exchange we had to get caught up. And then look at Tom’s comments after this initial exchange. He has not replied to me in any detail or answered a very reasonable question. The only one who is entitled to be frustrated is me.

          • CodyGirl824

            AA,

            Are you and I or even you and Tom talking about Tom’s chapter in True Reason titled “God and science do mix”? You claim that “… Tom’s only point in the chapter is the frequency with which miracles occur.” My reading of Tom’s chapter brings me to conclude that Tom’s argument is that there is no incompatibility between science and belief in God because the universe is orderly and law-governed such that science (the systematic study of nature) is possible but that God does infrequently intervene in nature for the purpose of revealing Himself to humans. Such “interventions” do not amount to “constant interference” and Tom Gilson states specifically, “…If miracles happened everywhere every day, they would not be miracles at all. They would communicate nothing, and thus they would not serve God’s loving rational purposes.” (p. 202, True Reason)

            Tom gives three reasons, numbered 1, 2, 3, as to why Krauss is “…wrong to think the regular order and design of Creation (sic) is incompatible with Christianity ” and on the next page refers to “…the sort of chaos that Krauss envisions.. (p. 203) as what he is arguing against. So how can you claim that Tom’s only point is about the frequency of miracles? Taking Tom’s own words, verbatim, we must conclude that Tom’s argument is, as he states, there is no incompatibility between the natural order that science studies and Christianity. As I understand it, you claim Tom is wrong, and that, in your opinion, there is incompatibility between science and Christianity. However, you have failed to support your argument against Tom’s argument that science and God do mix.

            Most likely, I will not go back to your initial post that began this exchange and I will not post further here on your website, since the exchange between Tom and you is now a hopeless morass that cannot be untangled in any meaningful way, so my engagement in the discussion is of no discernible value, either to you or to me.

          • resipisence

            But you just confirmed ArizonaAtheist’s summary in your comment? Why did you write that as if you were disagreeing with him?

            ArizonaAtheist:

            Tom’s only point in the chapter is the frequency with which miracles occur.

            Jenna/Cody:

            Tom’s argument is that there is no incompatibility between science and belief in God because the universe is orderly and law-governed such that science (the systematic study of nature) is possible but that God does infrequently intervene in nature for the purpose of revealing Himself to humans. Such “interventions” do not amount to “constant interference”

            Jenna, could you please explain what you think ArizonaAtheist’s argument against Tom’s position is?

          • CodyGirl824

            Okay. I think that AA is arguing that because many Christians give accounts of what AA refers to as “little miracles” that these “little miracles” such as he describes his friend as having experienced are evidence that God intervenes frequently in the world and therefore, the world really is chaotic and therefore Christianity or Christian beliefs about God and science are incompatible. I think that Tom and AA are talking about different things when AA speaks of “little miracles” and Tom speaks/writes about miracles that truly demonstrate God’s intervention in the world in a way that “violates the laws of nature.” I do not think that AA’s friend’s “little miracle” is what Tom is talking about with his use of the term “miracle” and AA’s alleged counter-argument does not even address Tom’s argument in his True Reason chapter, as Tom told him several times.

            IMO, a major problem with this dialogue is that there is no stipulated definition of the terms being used, because the word “miracle” is used in common and popular parlance in ways that do not indicate that the person using the term means that God “violates the laws of nature.” At the core of Tom’s argument is that true miracles are a means of purposeful communication from God performed to reveal Himself (His power and love) to humans. AA’s argument seems strange to me since most atheists I know argue that there is no such thing as a miracle since, according to their belief, there is no God. AA seems to accept that any time a Christian uses the term miracle, s/he means a divine intervention that supersedes and violates the laws of nature. How does discovering some long-sought-after lawn chairs violate the laws of nature?

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Hi Cody,

            Are you and I or even you and Tom talking about Tom’s chapter in True Reason titled “God and science do mix”? You claim that “… Tom’s only point in the chapter is the frequency with which miracles occur.” My reading of Tom’s chapter brings me to conclude that Tom’s argument is that there is no incompatibility between science and belief in God because the universe is orderly and law-governed such that science (the systematic study of nature) is possible but that God does infrequently intervene in nature for the purpose of revealing Himself to humans. Such “interventions” do not amount to “constant interference” and Tom Gilson states specifically, “…If miracles happened everywhere every day, they would not be miracles at all. They would communicate nothing, and thus they would not serve God’s loving rational purposes.” (p. 202, True Reason)

            First of all, I need to make a correction. I was in a hurry during my last reply and did not properly state Gilson’s main argument. I cited one of his supporting arguments. I apologize. Gilson’s main argument is “Christianity’s conceptual compatibility with science.”

            Second, it should be pointed out that I reviewed the 2012 version published by Patheos Press so each of our texts might not match up 100% since I read that most chapters in the new edition were edited slightly. Though that should not have changed Gilson’s argument in any substantial way I would think.

            Third, yes I agree with your interpretation of Gilson’s argument. The second point you mention is one main argument that I sought to rebut (“…If miracles happened everywhere every day, they would not be miracles at all. They would communicate nothing, and thus they would not serve God’s loving rational purposes.”) As I argued, Christians everywhere believe miracles are taking place on a near daily basis, so to argue that they are rare is entirely falsified by the facts. See my initial post and the links I provided in an earlier comment.

            It seems the sticking point here is your misunderstanding of the arguments I made. I’ve tried to make them more clear but with all of these responses I can understand it can be difficult to make your way through. This is why I would suggest you read my initial post on the topic and then my first reply to Gilson. Then I can answer any questions you have about those two posts.

            Tom gives three reasons, numbered 1, 2, 3, as to why Krauss is “…wrong to think the regular order and design of Creation (sic) is incompatible with Christianity ” and on the next page refers to “…the sort of chaos that Krauss envisions.. (p. 203) as what he is arguing against. So how can you claim that Tom’s only point is about the frequency of miracles? Taking Tom’s own words, verbatim, we must conclude that Tom’s argument is, as he states, there is no incompatibility between the natural order that science studies and Christianity. As I understand it, you claim Tom is wrong, and that, in your opinion, there is incompatibility between science and Christianity. However, you have failed to support your argument against Tom’s argument that science and God do mix.

            Again, yes, I apologize. I was in a hurry writing my last reply and did not make myself clear.

            The arguments Gilson uses to support this main argument are as follows:

            1) Gilson beings by arguing that “nature’s predictable regularity is an essential aspect of God’s work in the world.” (p.129) He continues on the next page:

            “Now suppose that Haldane and Krauss’s picture of God were accurate: that if there were a God, he would necessarily be the kind of God who would frequently and arbitrarily interfere with nature’s regularity.” Gilsons continues to argue that such a god would be impossible since “[t]o reveal himself to humans – to communicate – he must break into nature sometimes, but he must do so infrequently. There must be an ordinary course of events, so that we can discern what is out of the ordinary.” (p.130)

            In response to this argument I argued that first, in the bible there is a multitude of miracles occurring all of the time. Second, even modern day Christians report experiencing miracles on a near daily basis. Therefore, Gilsons’ argument that god does not want to mess up nature by interfering all of the time is falsified by the facts.

            2) “God intended his creatures to be responsible moral agents. For that to be possible we must be able to judge in advance the likely results of our actions; but that would be quite impossible in a world of constant chaotic supernatural intervention.” (p.130)

            My response is essentially the same as for the first argument. Each of Gilson’s argument essentially hinge upon his mistaken belief that his god doesn’t want to intervene in the world very often, but this is not borne out by the facts.

            3) “God intends that humans be able to learn from experience – that if we drop a weed, it will fall; that if we cultivate it properly, it will grow […] This ties in with God’s intention that we be responsible moral agents. We need to learn that if we feed another person good foods, that will be good for them; but if we give them poison, they will quite predictability get sick or die.” (p.131)

            Essentially, Gilsons’ point is that the universe is orderly because god wants it that way so he can communicate with us and allow us to “learn from experience,” etc. However, I argued that the world isn’t as orderly and logical as he thinks. If the world were truly rational and orderly, why did god create the quantum world that is most certainly not logical or orderly? In fact, it’s outright chaotic, which does not fit with god’s plans, according to Gilson. And one form of human experience (though there is a lot more to science than experience; this is a rather simplistic view) is science, as even Gilson admits on page 131 (“And what is science but systematized learning from experience?”). One example of the study of nature is the quantum world, where nature makes no logical sense. If god wants us to learn from experience this would be an odd thing to create. And I argued that this makes much more sense upon an atheistic universe than one containing a god who wants order.

            I sought to dismantle each of his supporting arguments for why he believes his god wants an orderly universe and I think I provided more than enough facts to do that. You may ask, as you have throughout our discussions: “how do your arguments refute Tom Gilson’s argument that science and God do mix?”

            You defeat someone’s main argument by rebutting someone’s supporting arguments. If you destroy the foundation of an argument the main one is refuted automatically. For example, let’s argue that someone makes an argument that such and such biological entity is too complex to have evolved and they cite arguments A, B and C in order to demonstrate this. Well, if you provide counter-examples to A, B and C, then their main argument fails.

            I thought Gilson’s argument was highly unique; I’d never come across it before, but as I’ve said, it is contradicted by all of the known facts. I hope this summary helps you to better understand Gilson’s arguments and my responses (and anyone else who comes across this post!).

            P.S. While posting this I saw Cody ask: “AA’s argument seems strange to me since most atheists I know argue that
            there is no such thing as a miracle since, according to their belief,
            there is no God.”

            Essentially, to demonstrate that Gilson’s argument contradicted the facts about common and worldwide Christian experience, I played devil’s advocate and argued from the perspective of miracles in the world.

            She also writes: “How does discovering some long-sought-after lawn chairs violate the laws of nature?”

            I already responded to this during our previous discussions. I wrote: my friend was clearly thanking god and attributing god for helping him find chairs. He did not believe it was a coincidence, based upon what he said. Following this, what I was referring to here was the fact that, assuming god did truly intervene in the world what would he have to do in order to make something like this happen, to have my friend drive down that particular street at that particular time? And what would cause another man he did not even know to set chairs out in his yard when he did? The only thing I can think of (assuming again, that this was not a mere coincidence and that god did indeed help my friend find the chairs) is that god got inside of both men’s heads, directing their actions so my friend would end up driving past this man’s house at a certain time and the man placing the chairs outside at a certain time. This, I would argue, is a pretty large intervention in the world, which is what Tom is arguing hardly takes place, but in fact, interventions of this sort take place all the time, at least according to Christians. I hope that makes things more clear.

          • CodyGirl824

            AA,

            Again, you are missing the mark here because you and Tom are not using the term “miracle” to mean the same thing. Your friend’s “little miracle” is not what Tom is talking about. I think that this is as clear as a bell. Yes, it is frequent and a daily occurrence for God to communicate with those people with whom He has a relationship and many Christians see God’s agency in many beneficial and positive events in their lives on a daily basis. I do myself. But these forms of communication and interaction between God and humans are not what this discussion is about and they say nothing about the compatibility between science and Christianity for several reasons:

            First of all, science is silent on the issue of God’s agency in the world AND in the lives of humans, whether or not this agency falls into the category of miracles (as according to the definitions you yourself provided earlier): “Dr. Eric Mascall in the Chamber’s Encyclopedia writes that a miracle is “a striking interposition of divine power by which the operations of the ordinary course of nature are overruled.” The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy defines a miracle as an “extraordinary event whose occurrence does not conform with natural law, and which is deemed to have a supernatural cause, such as God.” As I ask in another comment, how does your friend’s happy discovery of the chairs he was looking for violate the laws of nature? Or represent a “striking interposition of divine power” or “overrule the course of nature?” Your example of your friend’s “little miracle” does not fit the definition that Tom is using or that you claim to be using. So it does not even address, let alone refute Tom’s argument.

            So, since science is silent on the issue of God’s agency in the world, how can there be any incompatibility between science and Christianity? In the area of events and processes that evidence God’s agency in the lives of humans, science simply does not go there. But keep in mind, just because science does not go there doesn’t mean that there is no there there to go to.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Hi Cody,

            I’m sorry, but you’re missing my point, a point that I have explained repeatedly to you. I’ve explained my rationale for using my friend’s experience as an example of a miracle, but you have not shown why it is in error. Secondly, this one example was not my only line of evidence. Third, I cited a number of miracles in a few links in an earlier reply that you have also ignored. I’ve cited approximately 7 or 8 total miraculous events (and I do not think you can deny the links provided in the previous comment do not depict what Christians would call miracles), but you are focused only on one example, that of my friend’s experience.

            You write,

            IMO, a major problem with this dialogue is that there is no stipulated definition of the terms being used, because the word “miracle” is used in common and popular parlance in ways that do not indicate that the person using the term means that God “violates the laws of nature.”

            I’m wondering if you’re even reading what I’ve already written in these exchanges. First, I cited three separate definitions for the word “miracle,” and they all supported my view that miracles are “violations of nature.” Second, earlier you said that my definition of miracle agreed with Gilson’s so which is it? (“In fact, you and Tom appear to agree on a definition, yet you base what you believe to be a counter-argument on “Christians” use of the term miracle to cover a range of events, experiences and communications with God, many and possibly most of which don’t meet the agreed upon definition of the meaning of the term “miracle.””) Do we agree or not? You’re contradicting yourself.

            First of all, science is silent on the issue of God’s agency in the world AND in the lives of humans, whether or not this agency falls into the category of miracles (as according to the definitions you yourself provided earlier): “Dr. Eric Mascall in the Chamber’s Encyclopedia writes that a miracle is “a striking interposition of divine power by which the operations of the ordinary course of nature are overruled.” The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy defines a miracle as an “extraordinary event whose occurrence does not conform with natural law, and which is deemed to have a supernatural cause, such as God.” As I ask in another comment, how does your friend’s happy discovery of the chairs he was looking for violate the laws of nature?

            First of all, those definitions have nothing to do with the issue of science and miracles. They only define what a miracle is. Second, I have already responded about my friend finding the chairs already, a few times in fact.

            You write,

            So, since science is silent on the issue of God’s agency in the world, how can there be any incompatibility between science and Christianity? In the area of events and processes that evidence God’s agency in the lives of humans, science simply does not go there. But keep in mind, just because science does not go there doesn’t mean that there is no there there to go to.

            I’m not even sure what you’re getting at with your final comments. They have nothing to do with my argument, nor Gilson’s. And the fact is, science is not silent on the supernatural. This was the entire point of Krauss’ article. Science tells us there is no evidence of the supernatural. Even given this, Gilson’s arguments are still contradicting Christian doctrine and common Christian belief, so nothing changes.

          • CodyGirl824

            No, AA. Science does not tell us that there is no evidence of the supernatural. Science says nothing about the supernatural whatsoever. Here is the statement of the US National Academy of Sciences: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.” Krauss’ article may disagree with the US National Academy of Sciences, but Krauss does not speak for science or scientists, only himself.

            What “Christian doctrine” do you claim that Gilson contradicts? Doctrine on what? Please cite the source of this doctrine and explain why you think it is relevant to your alleged rebuttal.

            Please address these questions:

            What percentage of Christians do you think believe that science contradicts their Christianity? What percentage of Christians believe that science and Christianity are incompatible?

            What percentage of Christians believe that every interaction they have with God and every experience they have of/with God is a violation of the laws of nature?

            Have you asked your friend if he believes that what he calls a miracle is an incident of God intervening in the world in a way that violates the laws of nature?

            I must say, your claim that all accounts from Christians about the ways that God intervenes in their/our lives are facts is a very strange claim for an atheist to make.

          • resipisence

            I think the point is that the only way to refute ArizonaAtheist is to deny the reality of the miracles that Christians experience on a day to day basis, including Tom’s own miracle experiences that, as far as I can remember since I am banned from his website, he believes that one day God stopped a downpour of rain specially for him. You are on the right track by denying that this lawn chair example really counts as divine intervention.

          • CodyGirl824

            No, resipisence, the only way for ArizonaAtheist to prevail in his argument against Tom Gilson’s premise that belief in God and science are compatible is for AA to disprove all accounts of miracles, including the 34 plus miracles that Jesus Christ performed and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and that as a result of these miracles, science doesn’t work. He had better get busy soon since this is a very tall order.

            If you are “banned” from the Thinking Christian website as you claim, this is because you refused to follow the rules, and most certainly, TG explained how you violated the rules before he deleted or did not allow your specific posts. I have known Tom to be very fair and even-handed in his monitoring of his website.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Exhibit B in this comment thread that apologetics introduces muddled thinking are the disjointed comments that come from Jenna/Cody:

            Cody: “No, resipisence, the only way for ArizonaAtheist to prevail in his argument against Tom Gilson’s premise that belief in God and science are compatible is for AA to disprove all accounts of miracles, including the 34 plus miracles that Jesus Christ performed and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and that as a result of these miracles, science doesn’t work.”

            34ity!!!

            Well, no, all that AA need do is demonstrate how the two concepts — science and Tommy’s version of Christianity — are incompatible. That’s pretty easy to do, and AA has already done it, by pointing out that Tommy’s explanations are ad hoc — and ad hoc explanations (as a general rule) are not compatible with science. (See: http://skepdic.com/adhoc.html, look up Popper’s assessment of ad hoc assumptions in science, talk to some research scientists about how they conduct their work, etc.)

            But I love how you set the bar (that if some miracles could be disproved then science and Christianity would not be compatible?) so as to be unfalsifiable — a sure sign that you are preparing yourself to shore up your beliefs and membership in your secret decoder ring Christianity (you guys need to get those synched up, btw) against any possible rejoinder. You must feel so brave showing everyone how your beliefs would be changed if only the impossible were achieved for you.

            My observation of your comments is that they reflect someone who is desperate to appear smart and belong to a group identified as Christian, and that your comments are written as if to gain the approval of Tommy G. and the other muddled thinkers at Thinking Christian. So, my prediction is that if you continue here your comments will only try to score (what you think are) points that can be reported back to your online support group so that you can continue to feel that you are smart, and that you belong to a powerful group. (It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that Tommy G. and the others don’t appear to think very clearly, and that gaining their intellectual regard might be the equivalent of serving yourself a poisoned chalice.)

            That’s what an observation of your comments predicts, anyways. It would be super awesome, btw, if the prediction turned out wrong. But I highly doubt it — it seems that our urge to belong to the group with which we identify almost always trumps our ability to change our mind based on evidence and reasoning.

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony,

            If AA is intent on claiming that he has defeated Tom Gilson’s argument that belief in God (not just Christianity) and science are compatible (as TG puts it, God and science do mix), then he must address the arguments that TG actually makes. Atheists give great importance to the fact that science cannot explain (away) miracles. Followers of the Judeo-Christian religion(s) are not in the least concerned about this since we recognize that science is an epistemology that is limited to the acquisition of knowledge about the physical, material, natural world and cannot and does not seek to explain supernatural, metaphysical and spiritual phenomena. Nothing that AA has argued refutes Tom Gilson’s argument that belief in God and acceptance of science can and do co-exist without any troublesome incompatibility. Science simply cannot explain miracles and we Christians don’t expect it to. We also accept the ethical posture of the scientific community that recognizes science’s limitations and inability to enter into inquiry into the metaphysical and spiritual realms.

            You need not be concerned in the least about what is going on at/with Tom Gilson’s Thinking Christian blog or with my motivations in posting either here or there or both. I have not sought nor do I desire your advise or your opinion in the matter. I warn you, however, that you sound very arrogant, condescending and self-righteous, while also appearing to be very poorly informed about what you are talking about. AA and his followers have failed to make a dent in Tom Gilson’s argument in that great book “True Reason: Confronting the irrationality of the New Atheism,” which is a very well-chosen and apropos title.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “If AA is intent on claiming that he has defeated Tom Gilson’s argument … blah blah blah … into the metaphysical and spiritual realms.”

            You sound like someone who repeats assertions in the hope that it will make you sound smart and will please your handlers. You ignored the substance of what I wrote, and blathered on about your pet assertions. This makes you a (yawn) boring writer.

            Cody: “AA and his followers have failed to make a dent in Tom Gilson’s argument in that great book “True Reason: Confronting the irrationality of the New Atheism,” which is a very well-chosen and apropos title.”

            And my prior observations have shown that I can make accurate predictions about your behavior. As I said about Tommy on some of the comments here, when you start out lying to yourself you are entirely transparent to everyone else.

            Like Tommy, kudos to you for demonstrating what apologetics does to muddle the mind. I appreciate your contributions.

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony,

            You appear to not even know the meaning of the term “apologetics” as in Christian apologetics. Have a pleasant day.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Defense. As in, at all costs (starting with reason).

            Keep up the great work, CodyGirl! I love what you do!

          • resipisence

            Here is the link to the comment explaining my ban (Tom has deleted some of the comments following the interaction so be aware that there are some gaps): http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/#comment-83542

            I still don’t understand the ban, but you can judge for yourself. I found it to be quite an upsetting experience, because I felt that I broke no rules as stated on his website and I felt I was polite and relatively respectful (compared to the people talking to me at the time). It’s kind of unfinished business for me, I guess it always will be..

          • Tony Hoffman

            Hah, that is funny. You join fine company, my friend. I would gladly share a drink with anyone who’s been banned from Gilson’s blog — they include some of the best writers and critics I’ve see comment on this, the Interwebs.

            Here’s the comment thread where he banned me. (I don’t deserve the honor, but it would also be shabby of me to not accept it.).

            http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2009/10/concluding-unscientific-postscript/

            So funny how Tom only seems to exercise his “policy” against those who’s questions expose the fact that he is a hypocrite, and a fool.

            Cheers.

          • resipisence

            I would never use such loaded language about a person, as a Humanist I respect the dignity of every person, even if they are caught in the grips of a delusion so powerful that they will sacrifice their reasoning ability to allow them to maintain their false beliefs. Without a belief in free will, calling someone a fool is identical to calling them mentally disabled, which I have no doubt that Tom is not.

            For me, it’s much more interesting to think of how he manages to maintain his false beliefs even when obviously shown for all the world that he is wrong. The cognitive dissonance that would be required to maintain his beliefs must truly be staggering, I feel sorry for the pain he must undergo daily to protect his beliefs and identity. People like us simply cannot fathom what it must be like to be challenged as he is, because we simply change our beliefs to match the evidence, it’s relatively painless!

            If I was religious, I would pray for him, but instead I have to try to convince the other people around him to stop thoughtlessly trusting his word. It’s sad.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Resip: “I would never use such loaded language about a person, as a Humanist I respect the dignity of every person, even if they are caught in the grips of a delusion so powerful that they will sacrifice their reasoning ability to allow them to maintain their false beliefs.”

            Interesting. I’ll consider that.

            From my vantage, “fool” and “hypocrite” are descriptive of, well, humans. And while I understand that they are pejorative, I don’t consider them dehumanizing — they describe a kind of behavior, and behavior is really what we talk to one another. But I do take your point that “fool” is really more insulting than descriptive and that it serves little purpose.

            What so annoys me about Gilson types is that they insist on being respected while behaving abominably. Absent any modification of their behavior, I am left with little else other than the withholding of my respect for that behavior — so, yes, I have used loaded language. In other words, I would rather go on record as ridiculing and insulting poor behavior rather than seem to condone it by treating it with a respect I don’t feel it deserves. Intellectual dishonesty is common, and understandable, but we shouldn’t act as if it’s not recognizable and reprehensible. Discomfort, through language, is really the only tool we have when it comes to changing some people’s minds. (But I am certainly open to other suggestions — it’s probably the major reason I engage in these discussions.)

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony, this comment places you in the first runner-up position, right after resipisence, for first prize in the Un-holier Than Thou contest.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody, earlier I predicted about you that “… if you continue here your comments will only try to score (what you think are) points that can be reported back to your online support group so that you can continue to feel that you are smart, and that you belong to a powerful group.”

            You are doing exactly as I predicted.

            And that’s one of the problems with being an apologist — it forces you into circumstances where you have so constrained your options that it makes your next move entirely predictable. Don’t have any evidence for your beliefs? — undermine the entire enterprise of knowledge built on evidence. Make ridiculous claims that you can’t justify? — complain that your critics are uncivil when they point this out to you. Don’t have a respectable answer to fair criticism? Hand wave and divert by pointing to something else you deem less-than-impeccable. Etc.

            You should try surprising us sometime by going back to the beginning, and approaching your beliefs from what is commonly called epistemic humility. Because right now reading your writing is like watching the same bad movie, played over and over and over.

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony, just one question and I’m out of here: Do you consider yourself to be an exemplar of “epistemic humility”?

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “Do you consider yourself to be an exemplar of “epistemic humility”?”

            It doesn’t matter; epistemic humility is an approach to knowledge that has objective referents; it doesn’t need me to exemplify it. And epistemic humility has the additional advantage of underpinning our approach to knowledge (serving as a basis for inquiry that produces stuff) as opposed to the gobbledygook and woo and superstition and unverifiable, unreliable, subjective approach that folks like you try to push on the rest of us.

            Do you realize that everyone reading this understands that you are here only to push your unjustified superstition in order to receive approval from your in-group, as opposed to have an honest dialogue about knowledge and how we come to know things?

            Yes, you are that transparent.

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony,

            I find it amazing that you claim to know my motivations for posting on this blog. You obviously consider yourself to be a mind-reader, if not an exemplar of epistemic humility or any other kind of humility know to humankind. What is your approach to knowledge about other people’s motives, beliefs, worldview? How do you claim to “objectively” know my reasons for entering into dialogue about a book between one of its authors and editors (Tom Gilson) and AA, who claims to refute the author’s argument in the book? And why are my reasons for dialoguing here of any concern to you, such that you find it necessary to make moral judgments about them based on claims that you know what they are?

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “What is your approach to knowledge about other people’s motives, beliefs, worldview?”

            Observation.

            Cody: “How do you claim to “objectively” know my reasons for entering into dialogue about a book between one of its authors and editors (Tom Gilson) and AA, who claims to refute the author’s argument in the book?”

            By observing your comments.

            Cody: “And why are my reasons for dialoguing here of any concern to you, such that you find it necessary to make moral judgments about them based on claims that you know what they are?”

            Because by observing your comments I was able to make an accurate, psychology-based prediction of your subsequent comments here.

            This Comment Thread Test:
            Science – 5, Cody & Woo – 0

          • CodyGirl824

            This is all merely a distraction. You are not discussing the topic of Tom Gilson’s argument in his chapter in True Reason or AA’s alleged counter-arguments. In fact, we have not heard word one from AA in this discussion for four days now in response to my post where I say this:

            “The issue here and in Tom Gilson’s chapter that you claim to be arguing against is not science’s inability to “reconcile” miracles. It is whether or not science as an epistemology contradicts or is irreconcilable with belief in God (in any religion or religious tradition, not just Christianity). Science does not and cannot address belief in God. That is the domain of philosophy and theology.”

            When we are talking about miracles, we are talking about philosophy and theology, not science. And if you claim to be arguing about what science has to say about miracles, you are making theological claims which science does not make and cannot make. So if you think that science, which is silent on the issue of miracles, has a score of 5 on this discussion, you are wrong. Your “psychology-based” pseudo analysis of my comments is a pointless and transparent straw man ad hominem argument that clearly indicates that you have no counter-argument to Tom Gilson’s chapter. So this entire exercise is pointless.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “The issue here and in Tom Gilson’s chapter that you claim to be arguing against is not science’s inability to “reconcile” miracles. It is whether or not science as an epistemology contradicts or is irreconcilable with belief in God (in any religion or religious tradition, not just Christianity).”

            I explained the problem with this upthread, but you have so far ignored it. If you can’t be bothered to read replies to your comments, I won’t bother to repeat myself.

            Cody: “When we are talking about miracles, we are talking about philosophy and theology, not science.”

            You seem unaware that this is another way of saying that miracles and science are not compatible. You appear to be destroying your own argument even as you try to frame it.

            Cody: “Your “psychology-based” pseudo analysis of my comments is a pointless and transparent straw man ad hominem argument that clearly indicates that you have no counter-argument to Tom Gilson’s chapter. So this entire exercise is pointless.”

            Tom Gilson’s chapter appears to be not worth much counter-argument. It is obviously ad hoc, and appears to be yet another round of special pleading for why a religion (Christianity, in this case) fails to account for itself in any way that is objective, reliable, and verifiable.

            The rest of your characterizations — “straw man, ad hoc, pseudo analysis, ad hominem” — appear groundless. But points to you for trying to pack as many of them into one paragraph as you could to doubledy down on how stupid everything I’ve written must be.

            Fallacy-O-Meter Counter:
            Cody’s Last Paragraph: 4, Sensible Characterizations: 0

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony,

            If you think that the argument between AA and Tom Gilson is about whether or not science can either prove or disprove miracles, you are wrong. AA and Gilson don’t disagree on this point. If this is what you define as the “incompatibility” between science and theology, there is no point to dispute anything since we agree. So does the scientific community, who state their policy on this, which I have quoted from the National Academy of Sciences, which I give you again:

            US National Academy of Sciences statement says this: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

            There is no scientific methodology for investigating miracles. AA and Gilson don’t disagree on this point. AA and I don’t disagree on this point. You and I don’t disagree on this point. Christians and ethical scientists within the scientific community don’t disagree on this point. So what’s the point of disagreement? It appears that you think ill of Christianity because science is both unable and unwilling to say anything about miracles. You are entitled to your opinion, but it says much about you and nothing about either science or Christianity.

            I did not call what you have written “stupid” (to quote your term). I called it pointless. I stand by that assessment. That includes this comment.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “There is no scientific methodology for investigating miracles. AA and Gilson don’t disagree on this point. AA and I don’t disagree on this point. You and I don’t disagree on this point. Christians and ethical scientists within the scientific community don’t disagree on this point. So what’s the point of disagreement? It appears that you think ill of Christianity because science is both unable and unwilling to say anything about miracles. You are entitled to your opinion, but it says much about you and nothing about either science or Christianity.”

            Yeah, no.

            It says everything about Christianity that its claims can’t be examined in ways that are objective, reliable, and verifiable. You seem to think this means that Christianity and science are somehow compatible, when in fact it means that Christianity fails to rise to a level where science can even take notice of it.

            The U.S. National Academy of Sciences just as easily could have written: ““Science is a way of knowing about the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the magical. Whether Hogwarts exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

            Just as true. Just as trivial.

            You want science to be a villain, I imagine, because it won’t pretend that your superstition matters in any way. But that’s not science’s fault — it’s the result of your superstition not mattering, of not showing up in real life, of not providing anything that can be examined in a way that’s objective, reliable, and verifiable.

            You wrote a lot here, but everything you write is a way of extending the pretending. I suspect that you write a lot because if you don’t you might realize there’s nothing else there, and that realization makes you feel sad, or lonely.

            I wish that you could learn to enjoy the energy you feel in your writing, and in the emotion you feel when you pretend about your superstition, and realize that those feeling are a result of what’s contained within you and your interaction with others like you, and that you don’t need to pretend that there’s something else more than that.

            It’s just as fun to talk, and argue, and learn, and even use your imagination, as it is to pretend that something that doesn’t exist somehow does. You shouldn’t be so afraid of that, not least of all because it’s true.

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony,

            You are wrong again. I in no way “want science to be a villain.” That is simply ridiculous. Science is a systematic methodology for acquiring knowledge (epistemology) about how God’s creation works. Science is proof that when something is designed with/through intelligence, it takes intelligence to figure out how it works. The fact that science as an epistemology for acquiring knowledge and answering questions about how the metaphysical, spiritual realm of existence works is not the proper tool is merely testimony to the limitations of science. Science informs theology, but not the other way around. I have no problem with this. I am content to let science be science and theology be theology. They can and do peacefully co-exist.

            I only object when some off-the-wall scientists “do” theology and attempt to pass it off as science. For an example, you can read my critique of Victor Stenger’s book “God, the failed hypothesis” up on amazon.com.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “Science is proof that when something is designed with/through intelligence, it takes intelligence to figure out how it works.”

            There’s so much to unpack there — it’s also so dilettantish and fuzzy — that it’s hard to know where to start. So I’ll just let you know that the sentence above, instead of making you seem smart, just makes you appear to be a kind of rube.

            Cody: “The fact that science as an epistemology for acquiring knowledge and answering questions about how the metaphysical, spiritual realm of existence works is not the proper tool is merely testimony to the limitations of science.”

            The sentence above makes it look like you haven’t done or studied much science — those are the kinds of sentences that I see from people who who were educated at religious institutions, and read “explanations” of science from proselytizing writers, etc. But instead of realizing that you’re probably light on science, you want to tell us about it. This is, in a word that diverted you so before, not exactly a sign of your humility.

            You seem to take it for granted that the “spiritual realm” exists. I suspect that nothing will ever convince you otherwise — if the utter and complete inability of the spiritual ream to impact reality in any way that is meaningful — in a way that is objective, reliable, and verifiable — doesn’t dissuade you from believing in superstition and woo, then I don’t think that the rest of us have any tools at our disposal with which to persuade you otherwise.

            Your beliefs appear to be contained within your subjective bubble and a small group that prefers to think as you do, and this means that discourse with the rest of us is irrelevant.

            It appears that you want to keep the beliefs that you’ve invested so much in, and you want us to respect your intellect. Sorry, but those two things are incompatible. Delusion is understandable, but it’s wasteful and sometimes dangerous, and you are in its throes.

            I wish you luck freeing yourself, and hope that you do no further harm to yourself, or to others. But until you adopt a non-circular system in which your beliefs can be examined and the unjustified ones abandoned, there’s really no point in discussing these things with you now, is there?

          • CodyGirl824

            AA cited a survey from the Pew Center on Religion that gave the statistic that 80% of the American public, if their sample population in the survey is representative, are people who believe in miracles. Are you claiming that all of these folks believe in miracles because they don’t know enough about science? Of course, this survey cannot address this question and AA did not offer any further research that shows any relationship between attitudes toward science or levels of scientific knowledge among those 80% of Americans who believe in miracles. How much knowledge of science is needed for these Americans to distinguish between the scientific and the miraculous? You cannot say.

            So what you offer here is merely your opinion, which is uninformed and unenlightened. You have no way of knowing how much I know or don’t know about science, but that doesn’t stop you from speculating. Nor do you know what knowledge and experiences lead me to believe in miracles. So yet again, you offer a pointless post. And if we agree to eschew pointlessness, we will agree to end the conversation.

          • resipisence

            You have no way of knowing how much I know or don’t know about science

            Actually, he does. You can tell him. Instead of questioning how much knowledge is required for Tony to make claims, you should contradict him if you think he is wrong. Since you do not disagree with him, it is obvious that he is correct, and thus his observational method of determining what you think is validated. Until you disagree, that is.

          • CodyGirl824

            resipisence,

            Read my post again. How much I know or don’t know about science is totally irrelevant in this conversation. What the 80% of Americans who believe in miracles that AA documents from the Pew survey know or don’t know about science is also irrelevant, since no relationship between knowledge (or lack thereof) of science and belief in miracles has been established. Therefore, there is no evidence that there is such a relationship. Tony has neither proposed any “observational method” such as a scientific methodolgoy for inquiry. He merely throws out his uninformed opinions as an ad hominem argument and claims that his opinion is based on “observation.” Which only demonstrates his ignorance of the scientific method and the meaning of evidence.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “AA cited a survey from the Pew Center on Religion that gave the statistic that 80% of the American public, if their sample population in the survey is representative, are people who believe in miracles. Are you claiming that all of these folks believe in miracles because they don’t know enough about science?”

            The more people understand science, the less the believe in miracles. So, absolutely — if science were better taught in this country, that number would go down. Do you deny the correlation between science education and belief in the supernatural?

            Cody: “How much knowledge of science is needed for these Americans to distinguish between the scientific and the miraculous? You cannot say.”

            Well, I can say with some confidence that it would correlate with the sliding scale that relates belief in the supernatural to science education. The more people know about, and work in, science, the less likely they are to believe in superstition, dogma, and woo. The only people who even try to deny this are apologists, but given how they tend to educate their kids (religious indoctrination from an early age, home schooling, religious colleges (if at all), etc.), I think we can see that even apologists know how reliably the correlation actually works.

            Cody: “So what you offer here is merely your opinion, which is uninformed and unenlightened.”

            Yeah, you don’t seem capable of comprehending what others write, nor how to use words normally, nor fair representation. You are, in a word, Cody Girl: awesome.

            Cody: “You have no way of knowing how much I know or don’t know about science, but that doesn’t stop you from speculating.”

            Well, I don’t have any way of knowing except for my observations of what you write, which is the only way I can know anything about what you think. But, according to you, reading what you write doesn’t even rise to the level of inform me of what you might know or not know. Wow. Talk about going nuclear — this is a new level, I think.

            Cody: “So yet again, you offer a pointless post. And if we agree to eschew pointlessness, we will agree to end the conversation.”

            Well, I gave up on actually learning anything from what you write some time ago, but if you want me to now conclude that your comments don’t even present access to what you know, then I agree that your comments are indeed quite pointless.

            As I said earlier: I wish you luck freeing yourself, and hope that you do no further harm to yourself, or to others. But until you adopt a non-circular system in which your beliefs can be examined and the unjustified ones abandoned, there’s really no point in discussing these things with you now, is there?

          • CodyGirl824

            You make claims here about correlations between “science education” and belief in miracles, yet give no citation of your source(s) such as survey and polling research studies that give you this “confidence” in your belief that there is one, so I must assume that you have no research evidence to back up your claims and that your beliefs about such a correlation are purely anecdotal or imaginary. For someone who claims to value scientific methodology, this sloppiness with empirical reliable and valid evidence is very telling. Also, you use the term “how correlation works.” Correlations are only descriptive statistics and correlation is not causation. Obviously, you are not a scientist or a researcher.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “You make claims here about correlations between “science education” and belief in miracles, yet give no citation of your source(s) such as survey and polling research studies that give you this “confidence” in your belief that there is one, so I must assume that you have no research evidence to back up your claims and that your beliefs about such a correlation are purely anecdotal or imaginary.”

            What a trollish thing to say. Among other things, you’ve made countless assertions here without any citation or reference, so how very hypocritical of you to declare this standard while assuming it doesn’t apply to you.

            I made no citation or reference for sooo many reasons. One, it’s easy to find on the Google:

            http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

            http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm

            Etc.

            Two, I am sooo sure that you’ll find hop on the confirmation bias bandwagon and go find some study somewhere that questions this and that methodology and asks some loaded questions as if it puts the whole phenomenon — more science education correlates with less religions belief — into serious question.

            Cody: “For someone who claims to value scientific methodology, this sloppiness with empirical reliable and valid evidence is very telling.”

            You appear to be having a conversation with yourself. It appears that you are in poor company.

            Cody: “Also, you use the term “how correlation works.” Correlations are only descriptive statistics and correlation is not causation. Obviously, you are not a scientist or a researcher.”

            When did I use the term “how correlation works”? I did a search on this page and the only reference I found to that three word term is yours.

            You’re an embarrassment to the Internet. Please go scurry back and rejoin your fellow apologists — sadly, you will fit right in.

            Hey, here’s another prediction — you won’t address each of my points above, each of which should embarrass you. You’ll bluster, and pronounce some kind of victory, and pretend, pretend, pretend that you have behaved commendably here.

            Wait for it, wait for it…

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony, what you are doing here is to shift your argument to fit the available statistics when asked for a citation of statistics. Your claims is/was this, and I quote: “The more people understand science, the less the believe in miracles. So, absolutely — if science were better taught in this country, that number would go down. Do you deny the correlation between science education and belief in the supernatural?”

            For me, the term “science education” means general science education in the public schools, which I strongly favor and promote. Your claim is/was then that among the 80% of Americans who believe in miracles, belief in miracles would go down if we had more and better science education in the public schools. I asked for a survey or statistics to back up this claim.

            Now, instead, you send me two citations of studies about atheism among scientists. Granted, scientists are the people who have the most knowledge of science, probably not from science education in the public schools but from professional graduate level studies in their particular scientific field or discipline. So, either of two things could be true. More atheists enter the field of science as professionals or more people who become scientists abandon belief in God. But in either case, this statistic is unrelated to your original claim about science education.

            However, I did learn a couple of new things from going to the links you provided. First, I quote from the Pew Center study:

            “Finally, the poll of scientists finds that four-in-ten scientists (41%) say they do not believe in God or a higher power, while the poll of the public finds that only 4% of Americans share this view.”

            I learn from this statistic that the majority of scientists are not atheists and that only 4% of Americans are atheists, as defined as people who neither believe in God or a higher power.

            Have you read the book by Elaine Howard Ecklund from Rice University titled “Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think” (Oxford University Press, 2010)? In her research on scientists’ views on religion, Professor Ecklund found that 25% of self-identified atheists among her subjects (scientists) consider themselves to be “spiritual” although they do not believe in God.

            Here is an article about Professor Ecklund’s research in regard to scientists’ opinions about the compatibility between science and religion.

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/21/religion-and-science-can-coexist_n_974116.html

            Again, I can tell that you are not a researcher since researchers don’t expect whoever they are presenting their research to, to go in search of citations to confirm what they are saying. They provide those citations up front, and their sources are directly related to and supportive of their specific claims (hypothesis, research question).

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody, I said “science education.” You insist that I said “public schools,” but I did not, so, for the umpteenth time, stop misrepresenting me.

            You are shameless, and prideful, and your writing is vacuous. You can quote me on that, but if you do, please do it accurately.

            My statements are what they are, not what you try and twist them to be. The facts are what they are, not what you want them to be. Those who have more science education are less religious. That is the correlation. Deal with it.

            Cody: “Again, I can tell that you are not a researcher since researchers don’t expect whoever they are presenting their research to, to go in search of citations to confirm what they are saying.”

            You’re an idiot. I am commenting in a combox on an obscure website to an idiot. I am not presenting my research to you, I’m taking time out of my day to help you, or others like you, try and free yourself from your delusions. For this trouble and desire to help I get, well, you. I suppose this makes me an idiot as well, but at least you could try and be pleasant or just not a total storm of nonsense for a whole comment or even a paragraph. That would constitute progress at this point, and I’m starting to realize that life is short.

            Cody: “They provide those citations up front, and their sources are directly related to and supportive of their specific claims (hypothesis, research question).”

            Part of not understanding science is not knowing how to separate communication of scientific knowledge with the methodology employed by science. Your comment above would disqualify thousands of comments made, every day, by real scientists and researches on comboxes like these.

          • CodyGirl824

            So, you are a researcher, but you believe that when you make a claim that it is up to your reader to find sources to back up YOUR claim? This is standard procedure when scientists communicate their scientific knowledge. Can I assume then that your area of research is not science? I make this critique of your lack of documentation of your claims of correlations (statistics) without citing your source because of what I know about science, not because of what I don’t know about science. Science is empirical, so presentation of empirical findings is par for the course in communication about research. I really don’t understand your problem with this, since even ArizonaAtheist saw fit to cite the source of his statistics about the percentage of Americans who believe in miracles (80%) according to the Pew Center. You could have merely followed his lead.

            What did you think of the research by Elaine Howard Ecklund from Rice University that was reviewed in the article from Huffington Post that I provided the link to? Thanks to me, we now have a source of real academic and peer-reviewed research findings and data for discussing what scientists believe about the compatibility between science and religion.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “This is your latest version of your correlation claim: “Those who have more science education are less religious.” Based on the Pew Center survey that you cite, we must amend this statement: 41% of those with more science education (scientists) are less religious, while 59% are religious. In laymen’s terms this means that chances are 4 out of 10 that any randomly selected scientist will be less religious and 6 out of 10 that s/he will be religious. So chances are greater that any scientist we might meet is religious rather than not.”

            You’re a joke. You embarrass yourself, and that is a very low bar. There’s no way to salvage your paragraph above without revealing that you don’t know how to read survey results written at a middle school level (“…41% of those with more science education are less religious…” is not an acceptable reading, ever, of the survey results in the Pew article, and the fact that you characterized it in that way shows that you don’t know how to read survey results written at a middle school level. Seriously, if you were in 7th grade, and you circled that as an answer in a multiple choice question about what the survey revealed, you would get that wrong.)

            Cody: “Thanks to me, we now have a source of real academic and peer-reviewed research findings and data for discussing what scientists believe about the compatibility between science and religion.”

            You’re deluded, and for that I feel sorry for you. But you’re also prideful, and hypocritical, and flagrantly dishonest.

            So please, as long as you retain your pride, hypocrisy, and dishonesty, never stop being an apologist. You fit right in, and your participation makes the distinction all the clearer between your beliefs and those who recognize superstition and woo when they see it.

            So please, as long as you remain an apologist, know this: every time I see you writing as you do here, I will be cheering you on. Go forth, and make yourself known to as many as you can. You cannot fail to further destroy the credibility of superstitious thinking as long as you continue as you have here.

            Thanks!

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony,

            Regardless of what you think of my analysis of the Pew Center’s 2009 study’s statistics, you have failed to support your original claim with these statistics. Here I quote the Pew Center verbatim and let the researchers speak for themselves:

            http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

            Quote: “Indeed, the survey shows that scientists are roughly half as likely as the general public to believe in God or a higher power. According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. By contrast, 95% of Americans believe in some form of deity or higher power, according to a survey of the general public conducted by the Pew Research Center in July 2006. Specifically, more than eight-in-ten Americans (83%) say they believe in God and 12% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. Finally, the poll of scientists finds that four-in-ten scientists (41%) say they do not believe in God or a higher power, while the poll of the public finds that only 4% of Americans share this view.” End quote.

            Based on these statistics, without interpretation, we can/must say the following:

            In this sample population, a slight majority of scientists(51%) believe in a deity or higher power, so therefore are not atheists.

            33% of scientists believe in God. Another 18% believe in some kind of deity, universal spirit or higher power.

            However you slice these data, they do not support your claim that “Those who have more science education are less religious” since among scientists (who we assume have equal levels of science education) there is about fifty/fifty chance that we will find believers in God.

            I too believe that this conversation has run its course. I have shown whether you admit it or not, that you do not have empirical, reliable, valid and objective data to back up your claims about a relationship between scientific knowledge and belief in God. In any case, claiming that atheism is more “scientific” than belief in God using statistics about scientists’ is an ad populum argument (fallacy).

            I wish you well.

            Jenna Black
            .

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “Regardless of what you think of my analysis of the Pew Center’s 2009 study’s statistics, you have failed to support your original claim with these statistics.”

            What I think is irrelevant; your interpretation is an objective testament that you don’t have even a basic grasp of how survey results work, and how claims are supported.

            The survey is what it is. Your comments reveal that you don’t even understand what the survey means. This is not a matter of what I think — it is an objective part of the record here. You embarrass yourself, and by extension, those (apologists) with whom you associate. You look like a rube, and now you’ve made it even more difficult for them to pretend that you, and they by associating with you, represent something intellectually respectable.

            Cody: “However you slice these data, they do not support your claim that “Those who have more science education are less religious” since among scientists (who we assume have equal levels of science education) there is about fifty/fifty chance that we will find believers in God.”

            You still don’t understand. You confuse “some belief in god” with the fact that, when you compare two populations (those without much science education, and those with more), the population with more science education is less religious.

            The fact that you think my claim can be disproved by finding some believers among those with more scientific education changes nothing — it’s the comparison of the two populations, not the existence of any religious belief within a group, that I am talking about.

            You don’t even understand what 7th graders understand. This is worse — much, much worse — than any of your former support group could even expect. You, a bold apologist, don’t even understand how to interpret 7th grade material.

            How can you claim to know anything about science, or the complexities of reality, when you don’t even understand middle school-level material?

            As I have said before, please, get a bigger mouthpiece. Go forth, and carry on exactly as you do. Insist on carrying forth your interpretations, because they will further embarrass you, your fellow apologists, and the superstitions that support your sloppy thinking.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            I figured I better respond directly to you so you see my reply, since you might not see my reply to Cody above…

            Tony,

            I ask that you please refrain from the insults (“You look like a rube…”). You can make your point just as well without them. I agree she has not read the actual results, which seem to me to contradict the summary. You can read the sources too to see if I may have missed something.

          • Tony Hoffman

            I apologize that my comments compelled you to write this to me.

            If I have time later I’ll try and explain why I think it is sometimes appropriate to use ridicule and insulting language in comments, but for now please accept my apology.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            It’s OK. I just think it’s best to approach discussions like this with facts only and leave any personal attacks at the door. I used to believe ridicule was useful (and in some cases it can be, like when you’re being attacked and you must retaliate with sarcasm) but in most cases I don’t think it’s necessary. Plus it distracts from the issue under discussion and forces the person being insulted to stop listening to anything you’re saying. Unfortunately, it appears that Cody is doing this regardless, but in many cases, I think it’s more important to try to change minds, rather than hurl insults at the other person.

            I understand it’s frustrating dealing with someone who refuses to listen to facts or reason, but there’s no use insulting them over it. Cody seems like a nice Christian woman who just happens to be horribly mislead by those she trusts. She’s the victim. And why treat victims badly when they are the ones who were taken advantage of? Think of it like that, and your perceptions will maybe change.

          • Tony Hoffman

            As I said upthread, I pity those who are deluded, and I sincerely can’t help myself from wanting to help them free themselves from their delusion.

            But hypocrisy, dishonesty, and misrepresentation are not delusions — they are tactics that prevent individuals from examining unjustified beliefs. And these tactics need to be identified, and stigmatized, because they do (like superstitious thinking, and gullibility, etc.) get in the way of escaping delusion.

            So, I have come to accept and employ the use of ridicule and insults when apologists adopt tactics that are hypocritical, dishonest, or that misrepresent the facts in a discussion. That is because, in my prior experience, to treat these tactics with quiet acceptance and acquiescence lends them a respectability that shelters delusion.

            But there’s another reason. And that’s because apologists (and Cody is a prime example) want to retain their delusion, AND they want intellectual respect (or superiority) without engaging in those practices that are intellectually respectable. My insults (idiot, and rube, among others here) are shorthand for pointing out that, no matter what their delusions, their tactics are those employed by, well, rubes and idiots.

            As Resipience pointed out, and I mentioned in an anticipation of a predicted tactic that Cody might employ, it is hard to find a civil way to point out that one appears to be protecting a delusion with a host of unsavory tactics. In some ways I think it’s more respectful to use strong language, reflective of the real offense that I feel, rather than couch my language in a phony manner that perpetuates a kind of pretending with both parties.

            Long winded explanation, I know, but the topic is indeed complex, with many layers…

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Hi Tony,

            I agree that bad arguments ought to be pointed out and one should not afford respect to plain illogical arguments. My point was only that one can do this without resorting to attacks upon the person by calling them names. That’s all. I have no problem with someone saying, “Your argument is stupid because…” What I see no value in is saying, “You’re stupid.” Or some other personal attack. Hopefully that makes sense. I completely agree with most of what you say, but I think using ridicule in the right way means striking a very delicate balance.

          • CodyGirl824

            Tony,

            You are missing the point, yet again. You cannot compare the general population to the population of scientists regarding the percentage of atheists and draw the conclusion that because there are more atheists among scientists this means that more science education leads to more atheism when the statistics show that among scientists, it is just as likely that a scientist is a believer in God (51%) rather than an atheist. This conclusion simply doesn’t follow from these descriptive data. As I said before, there are many possible reasons why there are more atheists in the population of scientists than in the general population. However, you cannot infer from these statistics that the reason why these 41% of scientists are atheists is because they are more educated in the sciences. All scientists are equally well-educated in science and the majority of them believe in God or a deity by some other name. This fact defeats your claim that more science education is correlated with more atheism.

            I’ve learned quite a bit from these exchanges, so I thank you for that. Have a pleasant evening.

          • Tony Hoffman

            Cody: “You cannot compare the general population to the population of scientists regarding the percentage of atheists and draw the conclusion that because there are more atheists among scientists this means that more science education leads to more atheism when the statistics show that among scientists,”

            My claim is, and has been throughout, that the two correlate. Read what I wrote previously — nothing has changed in what I’ve claimed from the outset.

            Me: “Do you deny the correlation between science education and belief in the supernatural?

            Me: “I can say with some confidence that it would correlate with the sliding scale that relates belief in the supernatural to science education.”

            Me: “Those who have more science education are less religious. That is the correlation. Deal with it.”

            Me: “…the whole phenomenon — more science education correlates with less religions belief — into serious question.”

            Me: “When did I use the term “how correlation works”? I did a search on this page and the only reference I found to that three word term is yours.”

            You never answered that last one. instead, you continue to misrepresent what I have tried to convey here.

            You appear to want to read my statements, the data, and infuse it all with something more than what I wrote. Slow down, and read carefully, because you habitually misquote me and misrepresent my claims.

            Also, it would help if you acknowledged that you misunderstood, or misquoted me, or misrepresented me, just once, instead of constantly pushing headlong with a conclusion (Which appears to be: “You are wrong about everything!”) that is flies in the face of the record here.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Cody,

            I thought I’d chime in and provide my thoughts about this survey you and Tony have been debating back and forth about. But first, I’d like to say that the reason I have not responded to your most recent responses to me is simply because you are merely repeating the same argument over and over without responding directly to the logic and facts I laid out. There was nothing new to respond to and so no reason to respond.

            As for the study, I agree with Tony’s earlier statements. In fact, I cannot even find the word deity in the original questions to this study (http://people-press.org/reports/questionnaires/528.pdf) so I’m not even sure what this overview is referring to. The original question asked about the issue of god or a higher power is this: “I believe in God: 33%; I don’t believe in God, but I believe in a universal spirit or higher power: 18%; I don’t believe in either: 41%; No answer/Don’t know/refused: 7%.” (p. 97) This appears to be the direct question asked but I think it’s a stretch to conclude that “universal spirit” is a “deity.” I was also unable to find any reference to the “51%” figure. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong questionnaire, but I don’t think so. At the end of the summary provided by you it says: “Source: Scientists data from Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey, conducted in May and June 2009; for complete question wording, see survey topline.” The “topline” link leads you to the PDF I linked to earlier where this quote comes from. So, unless I missed something, it appears this summary is very badly worded and does not jive with the actual results. I also cannot find any reference to this “51%” figure in the graphs showing the breakdown of the results at the original link, either.

            Tony,

            I ask that you please refrain from the insults (“You look like a rube…”). You can make your point just as well without them. I agree she has not read the actual results, which seem to me to contradict the summary. You can read the sources too to see if I may have missed something.

          • CodyGirl824

            AA,

            I quoted directly from the text of the Pew Center report. It is they who used the term “deity” in describing their data. I did not. So if it is a “stretch” in your opinion, your beef is with the Pew Center researchers, not with me. The 51% figure they derived from adding the 41% who self-identify in with the option/choice of not believing in God or a universal spirit or higher power and those who chose the statement that they believe in a universal spirit or higher power. I agree with the researchers’ that people who don’t believe in God or anything that sounds like a descriptor for a god or deity that is a “spirit” as in a universal spirit can safely be considered a discrete category that defines atheists. They make this same discrete category judgment regarding the general public (4%). The graphs are clear in the document found using the link that Tony provided, which is the only source on this study that I examined.

            Did you take a look at the link I provided to a Huffington Post article reviewing the research of Professor Ecklund from Rice University regarding scientists’ beliefs about the “compatibility” of science and religion? Here is the link:

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/21/religion-and-science-can-coexist_n_974116.html

            It appears from this data that only 15% of scientists agree with you according to the position you have taken in your discussions with Tom Gilson.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            I’m sorry, but it appears you misunderstood what I said. I looked at the original data that this summary describes and I found nothing about deities there. I linked to the PDF. I also could not find your 51% figure. It does not appear to be represented in any of the data, either in the summary you have linked to or the list of questions asked for the survey I linked to. The only questions referring to a “higher power” listed only the 18% figure. That’s it. That’s what I’m saying. You’ve quoted them correctly, but I cannot find their data that supports that conclusion. I do not know where it came from. Looking at all of the numbers, they did not appear to add any two categories, as you suggest. None appear to add up to 51%. If you can find it, I’d appreciate it because I’ve looked a few times and can find nothing. So, unless you can find this information in their original data your claim doesn’t appear to hold up.

          • CodyGirl824

            http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

            This is the page that Tony posted that has the statistics we’re discussing. Scroll down about half a page and you’ll see the exact paragraph I quoted and a bar graph with light and dark green, blue and grey shaded areas. Again, I repeat, this summary uses the term “deity.” Unless we are looking at the same report and not a PDF, this discussion is fruitless.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Yes, I’ve seen this graph (assuming you’re referring to the one titled ‘Religious Belief Among the General Public and Scientists’) but like I said, this 51% figure is not represented at all. For the category labeled ‘Who don’t believe in God, but do believe in a universal spirit  or higher power’ the percentage is only 18% of scientists. That’s it. There is no 51% of scientists who believe in anything that could be considered ‘supernatural’. And the PDF is relevant since it contains the original data and the questions asked of the study participants. These facts are important in order to determine whether or not the commentary about the study is accurate and one can fact-check the researchers’ methods. Regarding the word “deity” this word is not even presented in the original questioning to those who took the survey, nor is it even mentioned elsewhere in any graph on the page. The terms “universal spirit” and “higher power” could refer to nearly anything, it is so vague. This is why it is a stretch to conclude that these scientists believe in a Deistic god. This term was not even used in the question they were asked, so it’s jumping to conclusions to think these scientists believe in any gods.

          • resipisence

            I absolutely see your point when you say that we need some method of exposing dishonesty and consciously bad reasoning, while I did say that I don’t like loaded language I think this Daniel Dennett quote is incredibly relevant:

            “There’s simply no polite way to tell people they’ve dedicated their lives to an illusion.”

            In Tom’s case, I just don’t know.

            When Tom says to us, “You’re completely wrong with all your atheistic beliefs, God is real”, we receive the message that we should drop our interests and careers and dedicate our lives to understanding and promoting Christianity. While this would be big, if Christianity were actually true we would jump right in without a question because eternal life with the benevolent creator of the universe would be amazing.

            When we say to Tom, “You’re completely wrong with all your theistic beliefs, the Christian god does not exist”, he gets an entirely different message:

            1. Death is real. All your relatives and close friends are gone forever, and you will never interact with them again.
            2. Your parents were completely wrong in their worldview.
            3. You have lead your children, and the children of countless other people, into a life of utter delusion.
            4. Bad things happen for no reason, and good things only happen when humans make them happen, there is no outside helper.
            5. When people do evil things, they sometimes get away with it, and even when they don’t the human punishment is all there is.
            6. You are completely wrong about the fundamental nature of reality, to the extent that you need to question your every feeling to see if it is motivated by the facts or just the way you want the world to be.
            7. God is not watching over you to make sure you behave well, nor is he watching to make sure your family or yourself are safe in dangerous situations.

            I could go on, but if Tom realized that he was wrong he would initially believe that he was evil or else mentally ill, because he believes in free will and sin almost reflexively, and is a rationalist when it comes to figuring out the nature of reality (philosophical term). I don’t think he could bear that pain, and I suspect that this is the despair he sometimes feels when he doubts the existence of his god. This knowledge could absolutely devastate him.

          • CodyGirl824

            This assessment of Tom Gilson is dripping with self-righteousness and arrogance in a way that I rarely observe coming from a Christian. You win first prize in the Un-holier Than Thou contest, resipisence.

          • resipisence

            Do you feel that I am mistaken? I will freely admit that this is speculation, but I feel like it’s not completely incorrect, at the very least. What do you mean when you say that I am self-righteous? What do you mean when you say that I am arrogant?

          • CodyGirl824

            Do you really need to ask this question? State specifically, what beliefs does Tom Gilson hold that you claim are “false” and how do you claim that he has been “shown for all the world that he is wrong.”? Also please explain how being a “humanist” gives you the knowledge to claim that any other person or group of people (2.3 billion) are “… caught in the grips of a delusion so powerful that they will sacrifice their reasoning ability to allow them to maintain their false beliefs.” Your claims of authoritative knowledge are why any reasonable person can see your self-righteousness and arrogance. You and Tony (because he shares your attitude) seem to be the only ones who are blind to your delusional thinking about yourselves.

          • resipisence

            please explain how being a “humanist” gives you the knowledge to claim that any other person or group of people (2.3 billion) are caught in the grips of a delusion

            Please explain why you think being a “humanist” gives me knowledge?

            Your claims of authoritative knowledge are why any reasonable person can see your self-righteousness and arrogance

            Are you saying that anyone who makes knowledge claims is arrogant and self-righteous? I don’t even know what that second phrase “self-righteous” means to you (please don’t just quote a dictionary).

            You and Tony (because he shares your attitude) seem to be the only ones who are blind to your delusional thinking about yourselves.

            And you are so callous and cruel that you see and recognise our delusional thinking and yet refuse to tell us what delusion we are under?

            I am a person, a human being just like you. If I am deluded, I am being hurt, and if you recognize it then you have the option to help me to relieve the unnecessary suffering I’m going through. What do you think I am taught by statements such as these:

            This assessment of Tom Gilson is dripping with self-righteousness and arrogance.

            You win first prize in the Un-holier Than Thou contest, resipisence.

            If you are “banned” from the Thinking Christian website as you claim (emphasis mine)

            Throughout the discussion, you have made it difficult for us to understand the reasoning you use to come to the conclusions that you have come to because you simply state your conclusions without any supporting argument. You do this continually and repetitiously. I feel as though it’s because you merely want to attack us, you don’t want to open up the way you really think in case we attack you and hurt you. If I am right in saying that, then I think that is a reasonable reaction to a perceived threat, yet then you continue to return to the source of the threat? It’s confusing for me, I don’t know why you’re here or what you want.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Here is the issue with both yours and Gilson’s arguments. They both contradict the known facts that we know about Christian belief, about science, and what people actually believe around the world.

            While a number of scientific bodies have taken to Stephen J. Gould’s ideas of “nonoverlapping magisteria” the facts contradict this view. Christianity is said to inform us on a host of now scientific turf, such as the origin of the universe and biology. Over the years science has been overturning religious truths. It sounds as if you are one of those Christians who accepts most of what science tells us about the world, which is good, but that does not mean that the Christian faith fits the scientific picture of the world, because it doesn’t. Things like virgin births, resurrections, the origin of the universe from absolutely nothing, prayer. All of these things have been investigated by science and Christianity comes up short every time. It is impossible for Christianity to be compatible with science. Now, yes, one can certainly rationalize one’s Christian belief with scientific realities, but to argue as Gilson does, that there is no incompatibility between science and religion is just wrong, for a few of the reasons I just gave. And these are the very reasons why no scientists’ opinion matters (or anyone’s for that matter). You can say that the National Academy of Sciences disagrees with Krauss all you want, but that won’t change the facts.

            What “Christian doctrine” do you claim that Gilson contradicts? Doctrine on what? Please cite the source of this doctrine and explain why you think it is relevant to your alleged rebuttal.

            That’s what I’ve been trying to explain. Christian belief is based upon beliefs that are incompatible with science. For example, the basic beliefs in a universe from literally nothing and the resurrection are probably the two most critical ones. Miracles are another. And it has been estimated that approximately 80% of all people surveyed believe in miracles. See here, here, and here.

            What percentage of Christians do you think believe that science contradicts their Christianity? What percentage of Christians believe that science and Christianity are incompatible?

            As I’ve said, the issue is ultimately irrelevant since facts are facts and peoples’ opinions are less important because religious individuals are always capable of rationalizing their beliefs to fit the scientific evidence (just look at Creationists). However, there was a Pew poll from 2009 that showed that over 50% of those surveyed believe there is a conflict between religion and science. Link.

            What percentage of Christians believe that every interaction they have with God and every experience they have of/with God is a violation of the laws of nature?

            I already cited a number of studies above about miracles.

            I must say, your claim that all accounts from Christians about the ways that God intervenes in their/our lives are facts is a very strange claim for an atheist to make.

            I’m simply pointing out Gilson’s inconsistency with the vast majority of religious believers. There’s nothing strange about that.

            Now, allow me to ask you a few questions:

            Do you believe the Christian god created the world out of absolutely nothing?

            Do you believe Jesus was raised from the dead?

            Do you believe in literal miracles, as in “violations of natural law?”

            Do you accept evolution?

          • CodyGirl824

            How is Tom Gilson showing any inconsistency at all if as you say, 80% of all people believe in miracles but also accept science. You have just proven TG’s case. Yes, there are a minority of people in the world who hold the opinion that some scientific findings conflict with their religious beliefs, but if you query these people, they do not reject science as a valid and credible epistemology for studying what science studies, the natural world. And these people accept science because the scientific community overall adheres to ethical practices in their pursuit of scientific knowledge that gives science its respect and legitimacy and do not makes claims about questions that are beyond the capacity of science to study.

            In your own round-about way, AA, you have confirmed the quote I gave you earlier from Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1959, 2004) in his book “God, Man and History:” “If the encounter [with God] is experienced in reality, what need of proofs? If, however, the
            encounter is not part of possible human experience, what use all proof?”

          • ArizonaAtheist

            You asked me how many people believed in miracles. I provided studies demonstrating an average of 80% of people do. None of the studies looked at the compatibility between belief in miracles and science. You’re twisting the data, I’m afraid, to fit the argument you want. And where are my answers to my questions?

          • CodyGirl824

            Since you are claiming that belief in miracles should preclude acceptance of science as an epistemology, then it is up to you to show me polling data from a survey of the attitude toward science of people who believe in miracles (80% of those polled in this particular survey.). You cannot assume that those who believe in miracles hold the opinion that miracles make belief in God and science incompatible. You will have to present data that shows a relationship between belief in God and acceptance of science as an epistemology to support your argument, if you can. So keep looking to find out what percentage of people who believe in miracles reject science as an epistemology for inquiry into the physical, natural world.

            In answer to your questions, the answers are YES except for a qualification regarding the definition of miracles as being “violation of the laws of nature,” I am an Episcopalian and in our Nicene Creed we say this: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of
            heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.” I don’t believe that it is possible for the Creator of the laws of nature to “violate” them. This is not a definition of miracles that I accept as being accurate or descriptive. Miracles are a demonstration of God’s power over and with nature, but are in no way unnatural.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            You asked me what percentage of people believed in miracles. I provided a number of studies showing about 80%. Now you’re changing your argument, asking for evidence of people who both believe in miracles and believe that science is incompatible, which is simply an act of moving the goal post. I have already responded to this larger argument, and I said that peoples’ opinions don’t matter. Only the facts matter, and the facts overwhelming show that science is not compatible with Christianity.

            Thank you for providing your answers. Is this the entire Creed of your religion?

            We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. (emphasis mine)

            If it, like most Creeds, includes an obvious conflict with science: a man rising from the dead with no medical intervention whatsoever. In fact, with the exception of evolution, every single question you answered “yes” to are in principle violations of what science knows about the natural world, and your beliefs are therefore in opposition to science. And even on the evolution question, where in the bible does it mention evolution?

            As I’ve said, peoples’ opinions ultimately don’t matter because they are capable of rationalizing their beliefs, as you have. This is why it is more important to look at the actual facts rather than opinions. And the fact is that your beliefs, along with millions of other Christians, are in opposition to science. What are your thoughts about this?

            Now, I’d like to make myself clear that I’m glad you’re a Christian who has accepted much of what science has to say and you’re not some intolerant fundamentalist who denies everything science. At least that demonstrates some progress. But the fact remains that religious beliefs are in stark contrast to what science has discovered.

          • CodyGirl824

            Yes, the raising of a man three days dead to life is something that cannot be explained through science (scientific methods of inquiry). So if that is what you mean by a “conflict with science”, you are correct. But this is the very definition of a miracle. No miracle can be explained by science. That’s why we have a name for such events. However, please note, that the existence of miracles does not create an incompatibility between science and belief in God because science does not attempt to explain miracles. Science, as I have said before, does not “go there.” Science is science and miracles are miracles. They actually co-exist quite compatibly, each in its own epistemological sphere. It is only a minority of folks, atheists included, who seem to have a problem with their happy co-existence. Very few people are troubled by the “stack contrast” between what science can discover and has discovered and their religious beliefs, recognizing as they do the limitations of science as an epistemology.

            I sincerely doubt that you can document that Christians who self-identify as creationists are “in opposition to science”or “deny everything science.” These folks have issues with the science of evolution because they interpret the Book of Genesis literally rather than as mytho-poetic narrative.

            Where in the Bible does it mention evolution? Why do you ask this question since the science of evolution has only been developed in the last two centuries, while the Bible as we have it today was written over two thousand years ago? The Bible doesn’t “mention” the Big Bang theory either.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Hi Cody,

            Yes, the raising of a man three days dead to life is something that cannot be explained through science (scientific methods of inquiry). So if that is what you mean by a “conflict with science”, you are correct. But this is the very definition of a miracle. No miracle can be explained by science. That’s why we have a name for such events. However, please note, that the existence of miracles does not create an incompatibility between science and belief in God because science does not attempt to explain miracles. Science, as I have said before, does not “go there.” Science is science and miracles are miracles. They actually co-exist quite compatibly, each in its own epistemological sphere.

            Interesting. You’re merely repeating your original argument while ignoring every objection I’ve provided to this argument: the impossible reconciliation between many of Christianity’s most basic beliefs and science. As I said, the facts speak for themselves, so this argument from authority isn’t convincing. And science has disproved a number of such claims, such as a man rising from the dead. Just look up what happens just a few days after death: the eye sockets pop out from the internal pressure because of the bacteria beginning to eat the host, the body itself, and break it down.

            A few days after death, these bacteria and enzymes start the process of breaking down their host. The pancreas is full of so many bacteria that it essentially digests itself [source: Macnair]. As these organisms work their way to other organs, the body becomes discolored, first turning green, then purple, then black. If you can’t see the change, you’ll smell it soon enough, because the bacteria create an awful-smelling gas. In addition to smelling up the room, that gas will cause the body to bloat, the eyes to bulge out of their sockets and the tongue to swell and protrude. (In rare instances, this gas has created enough pressure after a few weeks to cause decomposing pregnant women to expel the fetus in a process known as coffin birth.)

            How do you square these contradictions? And doesn’t the bible report that Jesus looked just as normal as when he was alive? But that’s not what happens after death. In reality, people would run screaming because he’d look like a bloated, eyes falling out, monster. And with the tongue so swelled, how could he talk to his disciples? And would Jesus even be able to see anything with his eyes in such a state? With the lack of oxygen to the brain for three days, would he be clinically brain dead anyway? It is physically impossible for this to happen. And even on the off chance that it did, judging by the damage to the body, Jesus would not be doing too much talking, or much of anything for that matter, if his brain has been damaged and depending on how swollen his body has become in that time. How do these known scientific facts jive with what the bible says about Jesus resurrection and his walking and talking to his disciples?

            It is only a minority of folks, atheists included, who seem to have a problem with their happy co-existence. Very few people are troubled by the “stark contrast” between what science can discover and has discovered and their religious beliefs, recognizing as they do the limitations of science as an epistemology.

            As I’ve repeatedly said, it is a fact that they are in conflict, but people are free to rationalize their religious belief with the findings of modern science. This does not make the conflict go away, though. Let’s say both of my parents get a divorce but they still hang out a lot and we all have dinner on occasion and hang out. It might comfort me to believe they are back together because of this but this would only be a rationalization I’ve concocted in my own head to make myself feel better. The reality is that my parents are divorced.

            I sincerely doubt that you can document that Christians who self-identify as creationists are “in opposition to science”or “deny everything science.” These folks have issues with the science of evolution because they interpret the Book of Genesis literally rather than as mytho-poetic narrative.

            Yes, everything science as it relates to their religious beliefs. I suppose I did not make that clear…

            Where in the Bible does it mention evolution? Why do you ask this question since the science of evolution has only been developed in the last two centuries, while the Bible as we have it today was written over two thousand years ago? The Bible doesn’t mention the Big Bang theory either.

            Well, of course. But if god created the world why is there no mention of these things? If god created the world, wouldn’t he want to impart the right information to his creations about his creation? This is just one more example of the conflict between science and religion.

            I’m sorry, but you have not offered any evidence for how science and Christianity can be reconciled, so your claims that they are not in conflict do not hold up.

          • CodyGirl824

            AA,

            I really think that I understand the argument you are making, but I am trying to make you see that this argument is simply pointless. No Christian I know of is in the least bit concerned with “reconciling” miracles with science. Tom Gilson isn’t; I’m not, and no ethical scientist I know of is either. Miracles are miracles BECAUSE they cannot be reconciled with what we know (through both science and experience) about how the physical, natural, material world works. Everybody gets this. That is the reason why the National Academy of the Sciences makes a the statement it makes that I quoted earlier. Science does not venture an opinion about miracles because there is no scientific methodology for studying miracles (or non-existence).

            The issue here and in Tom Gilson’s chapter that you claim to be arguing against is not science’s inability to “reconcile” miracles. It is whether or not science as an epistemology contradicts or is irreconcilable with belief in God (in any religion or religious tradition, not just Christianity). Science does not and cannot address belief in God. That is the domain of philosophy and theology. The only people I know who have a problem with this are atheists, who seem to believe that science is the only acceptable and useful epistemology and therefore, if events, experiences and phenomena that occur in the world don’t “reconcile” with science as a methodology for inquiry, they either “don’t exist” or cannot have occurred. This is an irrational approach to understanding and knowledge of our total reality. It is the irrationality of atheism.

          • ArizonaAtheist

            Just wanted to confirm to you that, yes you’re exactly right here when you said: ” I think that AA is arguing that because many Christians give accounts of what AA refers to as “little miracles” that these “little miracles” such as he describes his friend as having experienced are evidence that God intervenes frequently in the world and therefore, the world really is chaotic and therefore Christianity or Christian beliefs about God and science are incompatible.”

  • ArizonaAtheist

    Tony Hoffman wrote:

    TG: “I would find this amusing if it weren’t so sad.”

    You don’t appear capable of comprehending how very careful and diligent criticism has exposed the dishonest and hollowness of your responses, so your attempt to condescend just makes you seem like more of an ass than before. That was a high bar, but you raised it.

    TG: “As I did before, I invite your readers to study what both of us have written and to draw their own conclusions.”

    I have. You’re clearly wrong and incapable of making reasonable assessments. As was pointed out to you in another thread here, other readers have come to similar conclusions when you have extended this same invitation. You are pretending that you won an argument, when in fact you didn’t even provide a defense.

    Suppose you were an apologist, and suppose you were dishonest, but I repeat myself.

    TG: “I won’t be checking in here again on this discussion. You’ve drawn your conclusions. They won’t change.”

    Anyone reading here can see how you fear real inquiry into your beliefs, and that you don’t have the courage to face that. It is as transparent and predictable as your poor rationalizations — like how you’ll have to pretend that you haven’t read these words because you vowed to not come back.

    When you start out lying to yourself you are an open book to everyone but yourself.

  • ArizonaAtheist

    Here are a few more comments I was able to salvage. I believe this may be the last of them.

    Tom Gilson writes (from July 11, 2014):

    I would find this amusing if it weren’t so sad. As I did before, I invite your readers to study what both of us have written and to draw their own conclusions. I won’t be checking in here again on this discussion. You’ve drawn your own conclusions. They won’t change.

    • ArizonaAtheist

      My reply to Tom from July 11, 2014:

      Hi Tom,

      I’m sorry, but what’s sad is the fact that not once have you explained what your argument even was, assuming I did make a mistake in reading your chapter. I have continually explained and defended what I firmly believe to be your argument, but you refuse to explain what I got wrong! I’m essentially having a one-sided conversation here. And you accuse me of being close-minded? How absurd. You’re not even giving me the chance to change my mind by engaging me in dialogue. It appears the only one who refuses to change their mind is you, given your refusal to discuss this chapter with me.

      Yes, readers can make up their own mind. And since you refuse to discuss anything with me or defend your argument in any meaningful or rational way it looks as if I’ve won this round since you’ve forfeited by refusing to debate the issues. I’m sure readers will see that very quickly and easily.

  • http://www.nsewell.com/ Nick Sewell

    Pat Robertson admits that educated and sophisticated people don’t believe in miracles, while “simple” and uneducated people get all the miracles.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NesbG-Lj2g0

    This argument is very simply, a post hoc construct to claim that god dosen’t want to suspend the natural order when people are able to detect it, and a fairly desperate attempt to cover up the rapid retreat of theists under the onslaught of science.

    • CodyGirl824

      Pat Robertson “admits” nothing. He only opines.