Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Atheism, Featured, Religion and Society | 444 comments

Can religion be destroyed?

Can religion be destroyed?

I was involved in a little discussion over at Advocatus Atheist the some time ago with regard to whether a secular and skeptical approach can spell the end of religion. I found this to be interesting. Even if the evidence (does it not already) overwhelmingly ruled in favour of the disbelief in a personal god, would religion still tenuously hang on to the threads of desperate hope or ritualistic comforts that humanity seems to endure?

Firstly, we must accept that, even given today’s scientific climate, religion seems to thrive. It does so not only despite of our knowledge-laden and critical climate, but in spite of it. There seems to be, as I have posted elsewhere, a concerted effort by the religious hard right to undermine science, disbelieve science, deny science or wilfully ignore it by burying one’s head in the sand. This means that the core belief one has, the overriding and the most powerful belief held by a great many people is the belief in God. This seems to base itself in the core of our beings, sitting in a impregnable fortress in the centre of our brains and minds, unable to be assailed by the most valiant of scientific and sceptical ideas.

But is this fortress really impregnable? It has survived thus far, and in some areas of the world it is growing. Evangelical Christianity grows in the far east whilst Islam grows elsewhere. That said, in more mature democracies where information is free and education is better, secular proportions of society are growing. Assuming that this trend continues, and assuming that politically we do not regress, then one must hope that eventually such secular worldviews will become the norm, especially in the intellectual communities.

Memetically speaking, though, religions have their fail-safes. Memes are units of ideas which adhere to the same ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality as units of heredity in genetics. Memes with the highest ‘value’, as it were, survive. This value does not have to be ‘true’, in fact an idea need only appeal to a very small community to endure. For example, as Susan Blackmore has exemplified, folding the end piece of toilet roll into a corner for display in hotel room toilets is a meme which endures because it is valued by hotel staff, who see it as a value to the customer. Religions, as networks of memes (memeplexes), provide many areas of value to adherents of such a religion. Adherents are, by default, members of an ‘in-group’ and this is wholly important in psychology. This offers comfort, safety in numbers, and all the benefits which go along with being a member of any (close-knit) community.

Moreover, other memes within religion are far stronger. The idea that not adhering to that religion will lead to eternal punishment (in other words the worst possible consequence conceivable) means that there is a mechanism in place that will almost certainly ensure a survival of the idea. Such emotional blackmail really is powerful stuff and can be seen in such famous arguments as Pascal’s Wager. Other than such negative mechanisms, there is also the positive offering of heaven, of having your sins atoned, of being loved by God eternally and so on. Furthermore, religion offers an ultimate purpose, a sort of purpose that atheism simply can’t offer, by definition. I have discussed purpose in one of my essays, and all the issues which go with purposing. Nevertheless, if you were one who sought a purpose imposed externally (even though I would not recognise this as a purpose for an individual) then religion is for you.

All this and more means that religions have techniques which foil any attempt to undo them by offering incredibly comforting or threatening addenda to one’s life (albeit false ones).

In other words, atheism is a tough sell. Truth ain’t necessarily comfortable. And without a QED piece of evidence, and without high levels of education for everyone in the world, and if religion couldn’t be used as a tool to manipulate and control others by unscrupulous people or organisations, then truth would have a far better chance of winning outright. It could, but I doubt it will for a very long time yet.

What I would like to know is “Is there a piece of evidence that would QED prove that God did not exist?”

Sadly, I think any theist could posit an entirely ad hoc and contrived reason as to why any piece of evidence might either be false, or might be explicable in the context of a God, or demon figure planting false evidence. If an fool really wants to believe in something, then the fool will find ways to make that belief work. For them.

[an old post from my previous blog. I am superbusy!]

  • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

    What atheists can do is continue to criticize religious belief and emphasis the intellectual price one has to pay in order to believe its ridiculous claims. Pointing out religious hypocrisy, its bizarre morality, and its wishful thinking will make many people think twice about it.

    • Luke Breuer

      I am all for pointing out hypocrisy, but I’d prefer that all hypocrisy be pointed out, not just religious hypocrisy. Otherwise, the very pointing out is itself hypocrisy.

      • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

        I agree that all hypocrisy should be pointed out, but I was responding to a post specifically about religion. That’s why I focused on it.

        • Luke Breuer

          Ok. I’m curious: do you have a single shred of evidence that religious people exhibit more hypocrisy than non-religious people?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            It doesn’t matter whether they do or don’t, because my comment doesn’t rely on them being more or less hypocritical.

          • Luke Breuer

            No, it doesn’t. So you’re insisting on staying on topic 100%, despite that almost never being true of our discussions in the past? I mean, if there actually is no increased incidence of hypocrisy among religionists, one might even wonder if religion is actually the problem…

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You’re simply attacking a strawman here. What am I supposed to do? Defend the strawman you’re attacking? Sorry, waste of my time. Some theists are hypocrites, and an effective strategy of atheists to destroy religion is to point out that hypocrisy, among the other things I mentioned That’s all one has to accept.

          • Luke Breuer

            Some athiests are hypocrites, and an effective strategy is to destroy atheism. Right, that’s totally logical.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            “Some athiests [atheists] are hypocrites.” So? Did I ever say there were no atheist hypocrites?

            So tell me Luke, what’s the best way to destroy religion if you’re so damn clever?

          • Luke Breuer

            Where did I claim I was clever?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I never said you claimed you were clever. I’m calling you clever sarcastically because you seem to be hell bent on trying to find a problem with what I said, and have resorted to attacking a strawman because you don’t have a real argument.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m sure what you say is correct.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m not saying this is “the best way”, but I did recently write this.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Hey how’s SELO coming along? Have you gotten the chance to make it coherent yet?

          • Luke Breuer

            There’s a difference between somewhat off-topic and completely off-topic. Or do you deny this distinction?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            It’s just been so long since I had the pleasure of conversing with you that that was the first thing I thought of.

          • Luke Breuer

            I think you thrive on error in people’s ideas, in pointing it out, ruthlessly.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Staying on topic – let me ask you your opinion on this statement. Do you think the follow statement is true or false?

            Theism increases the tendency to give up searching and invoke supernatural explanations without any evidence.

          • Luke Breuer

            I have insufficient evidence either way. So instead of true/false, I give the third value: unknown.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            How many atheists are young earth creationists, compared to the number of theists who are young earth creationists?

          • Luke Breuer

            I don’t know, and I fail to see how this contributes to any point. What I see you attempting to do is your usual thing: argue not based on evidence but your preconceived notions about the world. I’m not particularly interested in that kind of discussion, given what I’ve seen of your preconceived notions about the world.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I’m only asking you what you think. You seem to be afraid to answer any question.

          • Luke Breuer

            Well, I could be reading fascinating library books, or talk to you, per any given unit of time. Make it worth my while, or find others to talk to. Your choice.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            My point is, Luke, that if the answer to my question above is that there are more theist YECs than atheist YECs, then the answer to my true or false question above that is overwhelmingly more likely to be true. Do you not seeing it that way?

          • Luke Breuer

            I prefer to argue based on evidence when discussing such matters. Indeed, I even do my best to see how I can interpret the Bible in light of the evidence, and how claims it that are actually relevant for thinking and acting today can also be tested against particle and field reality, as well as morality-cum-predictions of what happens when you are moral, according to whatever version of “moral” is being discussed.
            You like to work with ideas and not care so much about intricate connection and testing against evidence; that’s fine, but I’d just rather not participate very much. It seems too easy to hare off into completely untested realms—although sometimes there is atheist and/or secular dogma. I’m just not that interested. If you can show me actual evidence of theists doing the bad thing more than atheists, I’ll pay attention. Until then, I suspect scapegoating of theists for human nature, and I dislike that.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            If more theists are YECs than atheists, as is clearly the case, then theism does increase the tendency to give up searching for natural answers, and that hurts science. Plain and simple. That’s one of my motivations for helping destroy theism/religion.

          • Luke Breuer

            Feel free to reason dogmatically; I just want no part in it.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Isn’t your whole worldview dogmatic? I’m arguing from reason not dogma.

          • Luke Breuer

            Nope; you’ve got to remember that I view the faith very differently from most Christians. As to “arguing from reason”, one can reason from dogma just fine. It’s all about what your premises are, and why you chose them, and whether they connect to reality in any way whatsoever: see my answer to “What is the difference between Fact and Truth?”

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Perhaps the reason why you find so much disagreement on this point I’m making is because you “view the faith very differently from most Christians.” Perhaps you should consider how most of your other Christians think before you go accuse me of mischaracterizing the nature of theistic belief.

          • Luke Breuer

            1. It’s not clear how many Christians you actually properly characterize with your statements. For example, I recall seeing some statistic, that a minority of Christians worldwide hold to YEC.

            2. There is a vast difference between:

                 (A) some religious belief leads to bad things
                 (B) most religious belief leads to bad things
                 (C) all religious belief leads to bad things

            If all you do is target the most popular forms of religious belief, you can only ever say (A) or (B). You have said nothing which implies (C). And yet, you operate on the basis that (C) is true—do you not? This, I find to be exceedingly irrational.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. So? I agree it seems most Christians in the US today reject YEC. Tell me how this in any way refutes my central point.

            2. In the point I’m making here, whether I hold to A,B or C makes no difference. Theism by definition means you believe in a god who supernaturally intervenes in the world, therefore it is logically impossible that theism does not increase the tendency for one to jettison natural explanations in favor of supernatural ones. You simply want to argue against a strawman I’m not making here.

          • Luke Breuer

            1. I just don’t see how YEC statistics, alone, support your claims. But we’re talking about this in a different conversation, so I suggest we abandon #1, here.

            2. […] it is logically impossible that theism does not increase the tendency for one to jettison natural explanations in favor of supernatural ones.

            This is 100% false. Read Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles. You’re just wrong here, and you will only be corrected if you read up on Aristotle’s Four Causes, perhaps via Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism. Here, your logic is entirely wrong. Theism need not be prey to the critique you mention, and IIRC Thomas Aquinas’ thought is not prey to your criticism. Given that the entire Catholic Church has sainted Aquinas and has deeply integrating his theology into their thinking, that means a massive chunk of Christianity is not well-targeted by your criticism. I know less about the distribution of Protestantism and EO.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. Really? You don see how the fact that virtually all YECs are theists raises the tendency for theists to prefer supernatural explanations over natural ones? That’s odd.

            2. I disagree with Leibniz. I’ve read nothing there that sounds convincing against the Humean view that miracles are supernatural interventions into the natural world. What I read there were actually decent arguments that theism is incoherent even more than I thought previously. I suppose Mary’s virgin birth wasn’t an LBE.

          • Luke Breuer

            1. And who says YEC doesn’t happen to protect against some sort of stupidity, like sickle cell anemia protects against malaria? Furthermore, you continue to assume that thinking you have a bead on the final cause means you stop looking for the efficient cause. You have been unable to establish this claim with evidence; you attempted with Newton and failed miserably.

            2. Ok, where do we go from here? You claiming that most theists throughout spacetime agree with you? Yeah, I’m gonna want evidence for this, not your claims. I have not found your claims to be particularly reliable, especially after the DCT debacle.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. Show me some evidence for this or else it’s nothing more than a giant, unjustified, what if. Theists assert god as the efficient cause for no good or justifiable reason. This is especially true among YECs. Hence, theism increases the tendency to seek supernatural answers over natural ones. It’s bad for science.

            2. None of Leibniz’s arguments negate LBEs. Pick the one(s) you think works and we can go into it, but I read nothing there that refutes Hume.

            But this is a side note. For my central point, I don’t need to claim or prove that most Christians throughout spacetime agree with the Humean approach to miracles. Even if just 40 percent of them did, my central point would still have gusto. Why don’t you try attacking my central claim and not peripheral points that are irrelevant to the central point?

          • Luke Breuer

            1. I don’t need to. You’re the one making the positive claims. Surely you can show that more good science came out of some region as the religious rate went down? You’re claiming that if religion is dropped, better science is done. I just gave some possibilities for why this wouldn’t be the case. In another comment, you wondered how anyone could “rationally disagree”—this is different from “empirically disagree”.

            2. Of course they don’t “negate LBEs”; Leibniz simply presented what he thought was a better model of YHWH as indicated by the Bible, and that model has zero LBEs happening in the Bible.

            But this is a side note. For my central point, I don’t need to claim or prove that most Christians throughout spacetime agree with the Humean approach to miracles. Even if just 40 percent of them did, my central point would still have gusto. Why don’t you try attacking my central claim and not peripheral points that are irrelevant to the central point?

            Some religion is dumb. Ok? You want to say ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’. Otherwise, I’m with you on wanting some kinds of religion to go away. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this clear by now.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. Your speculation has no basis. It need not even be taken seriously. You didn’t give possible reasons why this wouldn’t be the case because you presented no evidence.

            2. All religions are dumb because they’re all fundamentally false, and it is dumb to believe something that which is false to be true. I don’t care if it makes you happy. If Scientologists were the happiest people on earth, would you say that’s a good reason all Christians should convert?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Here is some evidence to my central point. A paper by Darren E. Sherkat in Social Science Quarterly, “Religion and scientific literacy in the United States” finds that analysis plainly shows that even excluding issues of evolution, religion in America plays a substantial role in reducing science literacy. Here were some of his findings:

            Results

            Analyses show that sectarian Protestants, Catholics, and people with fundamentalist beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible have significantly lower levels of scientific literacy when compared with secular Americans. Religious differences are identifiable in multivariate analyses controlling for other demographic factors.

            Conclusions

            Religion plays a sizeable role in the low levels of scientific literacy found in the United States, and the negative impact of religious factors is more substantial than gender, race, or income.

            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00811.x/

            And then there’s this, from an analysis by David Masci at the Pew Forum in 2007:

            When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll. Indeed, in a May 2007 Gallup poll, only 14% of those who say they do not believe in evolution cite lack of evidence as the main reason underpinning their views; more people cite their belief in Jesus (19%), God (16%) or religion generally (16%) as their reason for rejecting Darwin’s theory.

            http://www.pewforum.org/2007/08/27/how-the-public-resolves-conflicts-between-faith-and-science/

          • Luke Breuer

            Analyses show that sectarian Protestants, Catholics, and people with fundamentalist beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible have significantly lower levels of scientific literacy when compared with secular Americans.

            Yep, and I’m pretty sure that “fundamentalist beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible” are wrong—or at least enough of them are wrong for the data to be what they are. The problem, The Thinker, is that this doesn’t mean that destroying all religion would make the world a better place, help us with scientific research, etc. A while ago I said to you that certain sects of certain religion are indeed problems. I stand by that.

            We could also ask about how people’s view of human nature correlates with various stated beliefs. For example, if you look at Milgram experiment § results, you’ll see some utterly abysmal predictions by the people in our society who are supposed to be becoming experts on the human condition. I wonder if Christians who take the OT seriously—among which will be those with “fundamentalist beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible”—would do better on predicting. If they were, I would be deeply suspicious that e.g. YEC belief is more dangerous than having a rosy picture of human beings, one disproved by Milgram, the Stanford prison experiment, and The Third Wave.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            …yet another strawman. I don’t base my objection to theism and desire for it to be destroyed solely on the fact that it increases scientific illiteracy and the tendency to seek supernatural explanations over natural ones, which we all know is harmful to science. There are other reasons which may have nothing to do with science. So keep on attacking the strawman in your head. I’m waiting for you to come to your senses, quit your silly persecution complex, and be able to have a rational dialogue where you address what I actually write, and not what you think I’m writing.

          • Luke Breuer

            Please cite and quote specifically what I have said to make you think I have a “persecution complex”.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You’re being extremely defensive, and you’re attacking numerous points I haven’t made. That’s to me a persecution complex.

          • Luke Breuer

            That’s fine, but I would like to see 3–5 examples, cited and quoted very specifically. Then, I can learn what you mean by the term, whether I think the behavior is bad, and then seek to rectify the behavior if I see it as bad. If you are not up for this, I’ll ask you to not make accusations you have no intention of backing up.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Just search for the words “strawman” or “strawmen” on this thread as I wrote it almost every time you attacked a point I didn’t make in a very defensive fashion.

          • Luke Breuer

            Sigh, ok. Then let me ask you a question, which I asked Jonathan. Can you show me either:

            (1) upon ‘theist’ → ‘atheist’ conversion, a scientist becomes better
            (2) upon ‘atheist’ → ‘theist’ conversion, a scientist becomes worse

            ? Can you demonstrate either (1) or (2), directly, with causation and not just correlation? What I’m saying here is that if what you say is true, then (1) and/or (2) ought to happen, in reality. Furthermore, if what you say is true, then (1) or (2) should be pretty prominently true. Do you agree, or disagree?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Well here are two examples:

            1. Simone de LaPlace. “Dispensing with the hypothesis of divine intervention would be a major activity of Laplace’s scientific life.” History is littered with brilliant atheist scientists. Many of them, however, became atheists before they became scientists, like Richard Dawkins. But the folks down at the Discovery Institute make it very obvious how theism makes one a lot likelier to be a worse scientist.

            2. Dr John Sanford – “Formerly an atheist since the mid-1980s, Sanford has looked into theistic evolution (1985–late 1990s), Old Earth creationism (late 1990s), and Young Earth creationism (2000–present). According to his own words, he did not fully reject Darwinian evolution until the year 2000. An advocate of intelligent design, in 2005 Sanford testified in the Kansas evolution hearings on behalf of intelligent design, during which he denied the principle of common descent and “humbly offered… that we were created by a special creation, by God.””

            I had a debate with a creationist over this guy earlier this year so that how I remembered him. He’s a perfect example of religion ruining a decent scientist.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Sanford

          • Luke Breuer

            If I were to give you evidence like this, would you accept it? Something tells me no, you’d want much more than that to qualify even paying attention to. Also, see this comment about Jewish Nobel laureates.

            Remember, you’ll always be able to find individuals who fit the (1) and (2) patterns. Surely you know how erroneous it is to reason from a few exemplars? I mean, if I found someone who became a better scientist after becoming a Christian, what would you do with it? Surely it wouldn’t disprove much of anything in what you’ve been saying, from your perspective?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            This thread is getting very slow….

            You asked for 2 examples. I gave you two, now that’s not enough. Moving the goal post again aren’t we?

            Of course 2 examples alone wouldn’t prove my point. But my two examples are the rule that exemplify the result one gets when they convert. They serve merely as examples to fortify the greater point I’m making. An example of a better scientist who became a Christian would be the exception. I’m not arguing that all atheist scientists are better than theist ones. Of course you might be able to find a theist scientist who is better at his job than an atheist counterpart. If you think I meant this you’re insane. It would be yet another strawman in your sights.

          • Luke Breuer

            Where did I specifically ask for N = 2? N = 2 is extremely small. No scientist could publish a paper with N = 2. All N = 2 can possibly do is point you in a research direction, to collect more data.

            Suppose I found two people who became better scientists after becoming theists. Would you dismiss them, or would they offer a serious counterpoint to your two people?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You asked for:

            (1) upon ‘theist’ → ‘atheist’ conversion, a scientist becomes better
            (2) upon ‘atheist’ → ‘theist’ conversion, a scientist becomes worse

            “A scientist” is singular, not plural. So I have you a scientist for each. Either you are disingenuously moving the goal posts, or you miswrote what you meant to write.

            Suppose I found two people who became better scientists after becoming theists. Would you dismiss them, or would they offer a serious counterpoint to your two people?

            I already answered that above: Of course 2 examples alone wouldn’t prove my point. But my two examples are the rule that exemplify the result one gets when they convert. They serve merely as examples to fortify the greater point I’m making. An example of a better scientist who became a Christian would be the exception. I’m not arguing that all atheist scientists are better than theist ones. Of course you might be able to find a theist scientist who is better at his job than an atheist counterpart. If you think I meant this you’re insane. It would be yet another strawman in your sights.

            And indeed I was right! You made the strawman even when I preempted it!

          • Luke Breuer

            Right, so I would have a different standard of [sufficient] evidence to fulfill than you. I’m not going to play that game, thank you very much. It is clear that you hold to your rational system with or without evidence—evidence is incidental, as we saw with your claim that “the majority Christians across spacetime have held to/hold to The Thinker’s particular conception of DCT—a subset of what the IEP defines as DCT”. Yeah, you might need a bit of evidence here and there, but if I were to counter, I’d need much more. No thanks!

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Since you’ve now moved the goal post, what kind of evidence are you looking for? Be explicit.

          • Luke Breuer

            What standard of evidence would you require of me, to refute your claims of the danger of ALL religion?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I’d ask you to name one religion that wasn’t dangerous and tell me why it wasn’t dangerous and then I’d pick your story apart and in doing so I’d find things in it that are dangerous. And that would be pretty easy given your ineptitude.

            So will you answer my question or are you going to play games?

          • Luke Breuer

            I’d ask you to name one religion that wasn’t dangerous and tell me why it wasn’t dangerous and then I’d pick your story apart and in doing so I’d find things in it that are dangerous. And that would be pretty easy given your ineptitude.

            What could be a better example of motivated reasoning?

            So will you answer my question or are you going to play games?

            Anyone attempting to have a conversation with you is required to play games, for you yourself play games. What you do, The Thinker, is hold to a big rational framework with the flimsiest of empirical evidence. Your comment above makes this clear: no matter what evidence I present to you, you know that it will support your position, somehow. You will just ‘Think’ until you find a rationalization, and then you will present it as if it is obviously true.

            I have no interested in playing your games. You appear to think that this indicates that statistically, (1) and (2) are true. Now, if you were intellectually honest, you’d know that there are very likely plenty of examples that prove (1) and (2) false, all of which would be irrelevant until one took a proper statistical measure of enough evidence. Instead, though, you say that I’m moving the goalposts. And you cannot help but leave your comments dripping with arrogance that outstrips any Caltech or MIT faculty member with whom I have met. I’ve had enough; go ‘Think’ with someone else.

            Finally, you seem to think that ‘YEC’ = ‘religion’. You’re clearly obsessed with YEC and the Discovery Institute. You’re like the person who says that the Westborough Baptist Church represents all of Christianity. People simply laugh at such a person.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Never said all religious people are YECs, but all YECs are religious theists. That’s the point, and that’s why, statistically, being a religious theist increases the chances that you will favor supernatural explanations over natural ones than atheists, and that is bad for science – a point apparently too complicated for your brain to handle.

            You’re really doing a great job knocking down the strawman in your head.

            What the problem is, is having deep metaphysical discussions with people like you who don’t even have a coherent worldview to base your point of view from. Example: http://disq.us/8j87em

          • Luke Breuer

            Finger has gangrene, which means arm has gangrene: better cut the whole thing off instead of, you know, the specifically diseased part. Or do you disagree?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            And what good reasons have you proposed that we keep religion alive that only through religion can be achieved?

          • Luke Breuer

            So truth is only defined pragmatically? That seems to be implied by what you have said, here. This sounds like the Baconian definition of ‘knowledge': that which lets me manipulate reality to my whims.

          • Andy_Schueler

            “… the Baconian definition of ‘knowledge’….”

            – What do you mean by that?

          • Luke Breuer
          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Of course not. You’re the only always speaking of a belief’s social consequences as the impetus behind why it should be believed. You rarely defend the truth of your religious views outside of them having some sort of social benefit.

          • Luke Breuer

            You’re the only always speaking of a belief’s social consequences as the impetus behind why it should be believed.

            If this is true (and I dispute it), you’ll be able to produce 3–5 instances of me doing what you claim. After all, you used the phrase “always speaking of”.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            So wait, what’s your argument that religion is good if not what I mentioned above?

          • Luke Breuer

            I have no idea what you’re talking about. Maybe you could actually quote, link, and make an argument? Or would that be too tedious for The Thinker?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            What I was talking about is that I recall from the past that you said the utility of a belief is a big factor in your determination as to why it is true or not and you seemed to make the case that Christianity makes the world better and therefore it is true, or at least preferable over other religions/views. Is that not correct?

            Regardless, you must have reasons why Christianity is good. So I want to hear them.

          • Luke Breuer

            What I was talking about is that I recall from the past that you said the utility of a belief is a big factor in your determination as to why it is true or not and you seemed to make the case that Christianity makes the world better and therefore it is true, or at least preferable over other religions/views. Is that not correct?

            There is a world of difference between:

                 (1) utility ⇒ truth
                 (2) truth-claims must be testable against reality

            The process of doing (2) might look somewhat like (1), but it is not identical, not by a long shot. Indeed, it is Francis Bacon who defined ‘knowledge’ operationally; I object, on the basis that we need all Four Causes—not just the final and not just the efficient. In that first link, I present a case of non-‘operational’ knowledge which is incredibly important to human thriving.

            How do you suggest testing truth-claims, other than (a) rationally; (b) against reality? Note that I include all sense perception and evaluative judgments in (b); see my Phil.SE “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses? Each of (a) and (b) have potential pitfalls: rationality is nigh useless with bad premises, while our perceptions of external and internal reality can be fatally flawed.

            Let’s look a bit more at (2); more specifically, ¬(2). What would we do with a truth-claim that cannot be tested against reality? How would we even process it? For example: “Unicorns exist.” Therefore… what? Let’s go teleological, under which isought. “The good life is thus and so.” Well, is that testable? If not, how can I distinguish between that claim being true, and it merely being a system of control? This problem shows up in biblical inerrancy: suppose that the Bible is inerrant, how does my interpretation of it avoid being quite errant? If my interpretation is going to be errant, then why does it matter whether the text is inerrant?

            Regardless, you must have reasons why Christianity is good. So I want to hear them.

            Recently I wrote this, which is probably a good start. I would almost say that what is true is good, but that suffers from potential problems from the criticism offered by 1 Cor 13:1–3. Furthermore, it is a hope that truth will ultimately maximally promote human thriving—in the sense that setting a broken bone hurts temporarily, but the ultimate end is good. We see this pattern in Rom 8:16–25.

            Ultimately, I think one is forced to either admit that truth and good line up in the final equation, as t → ∞, or cave and suspect that perhaps truth is irrelevant to human thriving and we can believe whatever we want to believe, as long as we e.g. accept enough science. Furthermore, one is probably forced to take a stance on whether humans have the mental faculties to ascertain objective goodness. Charles Taylor discusses this in Sources of the Self:

                But if, as we have just seen, our language of good and right makes sense only against a background understanding of the forms of social interchange in a given society and its perceptions of the good, then can one not say after all that good and right are merely relative, not anchored in the real? To say this would be to fall into an important confusion. Certainly what emerges from this is that good and right are not properties of the universe considered without any relation to human beings and their lives. And to the extent that our natural science since the seventeenth century has been developing on the basis of a conception of the world which is maximally freed from anthropocentric conceptions, what Williams has called the “absolute” conception,[9] we can say that good and right are not part of the world as studied by natural science.
                But from there, it is an unjustified leap to say that they therefore are not as real, objective, and non-relative as any other part of the natural world. The temptation to make this leap comes partly from the great hold of natural science models on our entire enterprise of self-understanding in the sciences of human life. But the ascendancy of these models is one of the great sources of illusion and error in these sciences, as has been demonstrated time and again.[10] In a sense, however, premodern notions of science have also contributed to this over-hasty inference. For Plato, in his way, the ultimate concepts of ethics and those fundamental to explanation in the sciences were the same, viz., the Ideas. It is easy to see their fundamental role in science as the guarantee of their ontological status as real and objective standards of good. So when they lose this role, as they do in the modern age irrevocably, the temptation is strong to conclude that they have lost all claim to objective ontological status as well. (56–7)

            Suppose that one allows that truth ultimately lines up with what is good. Then, we would need to differentiate between known truth in the correspondence theory of truth-sense, and between trustworthiness in promoting life (surely that is what is good?), which is a phrase I recently used in responding to Jonathan. I’m going off of Yoram Hazony’s The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture and specifically, his discussion of truth and word/thing, based off of the Hebrew words emet and davar. The idea of a davar being emet has to do with the davar operating as it ought to operate. I’m still working on this idea of Hazony’s, but it seems to me to somewhat line up with my discussion of negative index metamaterials. When we talk about truth of what constitutes human thriving, I claim we’re talking about things that don’t all exist. That is, the truth (emet) of some words/things (davar) can only be tested by acting on them and seeing if they turn out to be trustworthy, turn out to be good for human thriving.

            That’s probably enough for now.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            How do you suggest testing truth-claims, other than (a) rationally; (b) against reality?

            I pretty much agree with your assessment. Maybe I was wrong that you made that point or implied it. Utility certainly doesn’t not necessarily indicate truth. However, I’m still waiting to hear a comprehensive case by you why Christianity is true, or why you personally are a Christian.

            This problem shows up in biblical inerrancy: suppose that the Bible is inerrant, how does myinterpretation of it avoid being quite errant? If my interpretation is going to be errant, then why does it matter whether the text is inerrant?

            Good point. This is actually exemplified in Islam where the Koran is believed to be the literal transcribed words of god, and yet there are many schools of disagreement with what it actually says.

            You know, right before bed last night I was thinking about many of these issues and I was trying to find a way if it was even possible that Christianity could be a good thing and I think I thought of it. Suppose that only through Christianity could humanity have had the enlightenment that lead to atheism, skepticism and secular humanism taking off in the way that it is now. Suppose that no other religion could have enabled this to happen. Not Islam, Hinduism, or any form of paganism/animism. If that was the case, then I would say that Christianity was a good thing. Now forget about whether this is actually true or not, I’m just speaking about a hypothetical.

          • Luke Breuer

            However, I’m still waiting to hear a comprehensive case by you why Christianity is true, or why you personally are a Christian.

            Unless you choose to alter your behavior away from the model of a compiler that simply emits “FAIL” when the code is not 100% syntactically correct, I cannot give you the “comprehensive case” that you want. The Thinker, I suggest spending some time on your attitude, of not accepting something at all if it is not perfect enough. I’ll bet that is what prevents you from working my recent comment. It will also thwart your endeavor to ‘grow’ new ideas, if indeed that is even important to you. When ideas are young, there is often much ‘wrong’ with them, but that does not necessarily mean they are unsalvageable.

            You know, right before bed last night I was thinking about many of these issues and I was trying to find a way if it was even possible that Christianity could be a good thing and I think I thought of it. Suppose that only through Christianity could humanity have had the enlightenment that lead to atheism, skepticism and secular humanism taking off in the way that it is now. Suppose that no other religion could have enabled this to happen. Not Islam, Hinduism, or any form of paganism/animism. If that was the case, then I would say that Christianity was a good thing.

            If you find this line of thinking sufficiently interesting, I highly suggest that you read Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity, especially his sections about desacralization and nihilism. I took these notes:

            Christianity as a desacralizing force: “In the relevant Roman texts they are regarded not merely as “enemies of the human race” but as atheists and destroyers of religion.” (55)

            all “mysterious powers” vanquished by Jesus, creating a “wholly secular” world (60)

            living nihilism (vs. theoretical/philosophical) hates subject, leaving only object (“People have vanished.”), with it ultimately being shameful to look for meaning (138)

            Christianity eviscerates non-transcendental meaning, value, standards, hope, and order. When Christianity is then discarded, nothing is left. No structure is left to replace it, except for something made up of whole cloth with reference to nothing. (142)

            I would also suggest UCSD law prof Steven D. Smith’s The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, which I found via NYT op ed Are There Secular Reasons?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Unless you choose to alter your behavior away from the model of a compiler that simply emits “FAIL” when the code is not 100% syntactically correct, I cannot give you the “comprehensive case” that you want.

            You shouldn’t think of it being perfect. I just want to hear what reasons you have to believe that Christianity is true and I want to see how much of it relies on evidence vs faith and wishful thinking. And I want to see what evidence convinced you – not me – that you’ve got the one true religion.

            The Thinker, I suggest spending some time on your attitude, of not accepting something at all if it is not perfect enough.

            For me personally it’s not that Christianity, or religions like it, have one error that ruins all the code, per your programming analogy. It’s that they are filled with so many errors or contradictions that the code is garbage. Whatever working function the code has can be easily done with another program that doesn’t come with the bad code. That’s perhaps an analogous way of putting how I see your religion.

            If you find this line of thinking sufficiently interesting, I highly suggest that you read Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity, especially his sections about desacralization and nihilism. I took these notes:

            I’m definitely interested in looking into reading sophisticated criticisms of atheism. I want to hear the best possible arguments against my worldview. That said, I haven’t heard too many good criticisms of atheism in terms of the secular debate around it and whether religion is good or bad for society. I have yet to hear anyone make a convincing argument that what the world needs now is more religion.

            That Times op-ed I think I read before. I disagree with his central argument, that secularism needs to smuggle in some “notions about a purposive cosmos, or a teleological nature stocked with Aristotelian ‘final causes’ or a providential design.” All we need to do is recognize that some values and ways of living increase the amount of unnecessary suffering in the world, and others bring us towards greater well being. And that alone is all we need as an impetus to hold and advocate for our values. No teleology or god required.

          • Luke Breuer

            You shouldn’t think of it being perfect. I just want to hear what reasons you have to believe that Christianity is true and I want to see how much of it relies on evidence vs faith and wishful thinking. And I want to see what evidence convinced you – not me – that you’ve got the one true religion.

            I will not do this unless you promise to change your behavior from what you have done in the past. In the past, when I presented you with pretty much anything that was short of a publishable-in-academia level response, you criticized it for vagueness, incoherence, etc. Or you just said it was bad and left it at that. If you cannot understand why someone would find this an incredibly frustrating behavior, then you will not get what you want. Ideas are frequently developed and honed in dialogue, and I refuse to engage in your historically typical form of antagonistic, “I am smarter than you”-style. I point you to these three criticisms I’ve offered of your interactions with me.

            If you want an answer to your question that is more than what I recently gave—including this—then you will have to make it worth my while, and not make it outrageously frustrating to interact with you. Your free choice.

            It’s that they are filled with so many errors or contradictions that the code is garbage.

            I might almost agree with you. The trick is, other available code seems equally as garbage, if not more garbage. I’ve not been presented with any evidence of causation that shows other code is better. I’ve seen lots of correlation, but not causation.

            Whatever working function the code has can be easily done with another program that doesn’t come with the bad code.

            I am not at all convinced of this. For example, Edward Feser argues in The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism that formal and final causes are absolutely necessary for morality to be anything more than subjective preferences which may or may not line up with the next person. Alasdair MacIntyre argues the same about final causes in particular in his After Virtue. Do you accept the need for at least final causes, in order for morality to make sense as ‘morality’?

            I’m definitely interested in looking into reading sophisticated criticisms of atheism.

            Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity is a criticism of Christianity, not atheism. I would be shocked if it didn’t massively improve your own criticisms of Christianity. IMO, you’re engaged in child’s play at the level you currently criticize Christianity. Perhaps I have not seen enough of your criticisms, but I would bet you that I could eviscerate the basis that most Christians could put forward for their faith. Instead of merely meting out destruction and death [to ideas], however, I desire to actually contribute to life.

            I have yet to hear anyone make a convincing argument that what the world needs now is more religion.

            What, precisely, do you mean by the word ‘religion’? I have read several works on the topic, such as Keith Ward’s The Case for Religion and The Psychology of Religion, Fourth Edition: An Empirical Approach; these indicate that defining the term properly is quite tricky. Want to give it a shot? If you use the word ‘supernatural’, please define that, as well. I can link you to some of my discussions with others about the word ‘supernatural’, if you’d like. Few people seem able to rigorously define it.

            All we need to do is recognize that some values and ways of living increase the amount of unnecessary suffering in the world, and others bring us towards greater well being.

            Define “unnecessary suffering” and define “well being”. Some think that “well being” simply means being able to buy what you want, travel where you want, watch pro sports, and be fed, sheltered, safe, and have sex whenever and however you want, as long as the other person is consenting, and not on the wrong side of the consent line. Under this rubric, striving for certain ends would require “unnecessary suffering”. For those who have crazy hard goals, they will strive harder and be willing to endure more suffering. Your argument here seems absolutely dependent upon a telos, and yet you have rejected Aristotelian final causes. So I cannot find a way to rigorously define “well being” other than something very mundane. But perhaps you mean that? Or perhaps you mean something more and can explain how you get there.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            In the past, when I presented you with pretty much anything that was short of a publishable-in-academia level response, you criticized it for vagueness, incoherence, etc.

            You’ve never written academic level writing arguing for your views. You’ve written what seems like improvised attempts to why you believe what you do. I wouid love to read a well thought out paper or blog explaining why you are a Christian.

            If you want an answer to your question that is more than what I recently gave—including this—then you will have to make it worth my while, and not make it outrageously frustrating to interact with you. Your free choice.

            I don’t want you to write it with me in mind, I want you to write it for yourself, so that you have thought about why you believe what you do and share it with all of us, not just me.

            For example, Edward Feser argues in The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism that formal and final causes are absolutely necessary for morality to be anything more than subjective preferences which may or may not line up with the next person.

            Well then why don’t you make his argument instead of just letting me know it exists?

            Do you accept the need for at least final causes, in order for morality to make sense as ‘morality’?

            Give me an example of a final cause in terms of morality.

            I would be shocked if it didn’t massively improve your own criticisms of Christianity. IMO, you’re engaged in child’s play at the level you currently criticize Christianity.

            No you have not seen enough of my criticisms but the more I learn the more I see the irrationality of theism. Leibniz’s arguments against humean miracles have some merit, but I’m not exactly on board with Leibniz. I’m where Pearce said trouble could occur when he wrote, “If Leibniz’s arguments succeed but his account of miracles fails, then he has gotten traditional religious belief into some trouble.”

            Instead of merely meting out destruction and death [to ideas], however, I desire to actually contribute to life.

            Sometimes contributing to life requires destruction and death [to ideas]. I don’t want to destroy religion in that I want it to be erased from society and the history books. I want all religions to be seen in the same way we view Greek and Roman myths – fascinating stories, but myths.

            What, precisely, do you mean by the word ‘religion’?

            I define religion as the belief in a worship of at least one god. But you are correct that there is no consensus on the definition of religion.

            Define “unnecessary suffering” and define “well being”.

            Unnecessary suffering is suffering that cannot be avoided or suffering that is not endured for a greater good, like suffering in the dentist’s chair so that your teeth won’t rot out.

            Under this rubric, striving for certain ends would require “unnecessary suffering”.

            How so? In order to have freedom of speech for example we are all going to hear something that offends us from time to time. That’s a necessary harm due to having freedom of speech. But nobody has the right not to be offended. Such a society is not even practical.

          • Luke Breuer

            You’ve never written academic level writing arguing for your views.

            You are correct. Neither, from what I have seen, have you. For example, your A Case For Secular Morality is not at all scholarly. If it were, you would properly connect it to the best thinkers in the field. You would know about the best thinkers in the field. Now, given that you are not a professional moral philosopher, it is not terrible that you don’t read the best thinkers. It is terrible if you pretend that you are getting anywhere close to advancing the state of the art in the field.

            As an example, in 50 Great Myths About Atheism, Blackford and Schuklenk suggest (p69) Aikin and Talisse’s 2011 Reasonable Atheism: A Moral Case For Respectful Disbelief. If you’re going to do moral philosophy, After Virtue is virtually required. And yet, you cite basically one person: Sam Harris. Dude, he ain’t a respectable moral philosopher. Can you point to a single peer-reviewed article he has published on moral philosophy?

            What you seem to be asking for, The Thinker, is for me to adhere to a standard to which you do not also adhere.

            You’ve written what seems like improvised attempts to why you believe what you do. I wouid love to read a well thought out paper or blog explaining why you are a Christian.

            You’ve surveyed the crap that is out there. Surely you recognize that building a comprehensive case for why one believes what one believes—for anyone—is a massive project? I have virtually nobody to build off of, although Edward Feser and Charles Taylor are promising. What you’re doing, The Thinker, is demanding something awfully close to perfection, or you won’t give me any useful feedback. Instead, you’ll criticize and elevate yourself above me in the process. Don’t you realize that nobody wants to deal with such behavior? Think hard about that, because you don’t seem to have a clue as to how obnoxious you can be.

            I don’t want you to write it with me in mind, I want you to write it for yourself, so that you have thought about why you believe what you do and share it with all of us, not just me.

            Despite what you say, if what I say is not up to your standards of precision, comprehension, and coherence, you’ll criticize and elevate yourself above me, if you choose to act toward me as you have in the past. For whom what I write is written is utterly immaterial.

            Well then why don’t you make his argument instead of just letting me know it exists?

            Limited bandwidth. And even you admit a goal, as I explain immediately below. I’ll flesh out Feser’s/MacIntyre’s argument more if and when it becomes sufficiently high priority.

            Give me an example of a final cause in terms of morality.

            One is shalom. Another is the [possibly eternal] increasing understanding of The Form of the Good. Contrast these to what you said a while ago:

            TT: For living in a just, and moral society with the greatest amount of equality, love, compassion, fairness and so forth, and the least amount of unnecessary harm/suffering.

            (Over here, you argued that the above comment contained your goal.) I will note that as-stated, your goal contains nothing about knowledge or truth. This is consonant with:

            LB: What is the difference between ‘affecting’ and ‘manipulating’ in your view, given your model of the will and lack of freedom thereof?

            TT: There isn’t much difference in my view. There is context, of course as to how it affects to other person.

            That admission of yours, by the way, is quite shocking. It is dangerously close to meaning that I can do whatever I want to other people, as long as they don’t feel hurt by it, as long as they don’t experience suffering as a result. Nowhere do you put truth in your list. Perhaps it was somehow assumed?

            No you have not seen enough of my criticisms but the more I learn the more I see the irrationality of theism.

            Ok, and the more I learn, the more I see the irrationality of atheism. So my choice is between irrationality and irrationality. I’ll pick the one I see as having less irrationality, thank you very much.

            I define religion as the belief in a worship of at least one god. But you are correct that there is no consensus on the definition of religion.

            What’s a “god”, in your view? And what do you mean by “worship”? I’m not sure how many Christians could define “worship”.

            Unnecessary suffering is suffering that cannot be avoided or suffering that is not endured for a greater good, like suffering in the dentist’s chair so that your teeth won’t rot out.

            And what do you consider to be “greater goods”? (Note: you did not define “well being”.)

            How so?

            Consider performing an intervention for an addict. Interventions are extremely painful for addicts; who is to say that they are better off for you doing the intervention? How do you know that you won’t cause “unnecessary suffering”? What I’m getting at here is that you’re largely defining morality negatively, like Sam Harris. Lack of this, lack of that, lack of the other thing. You do not seem to be defining it positively, except perhaps “love”, but I have no idea what you mean by that—I’m guessing not anything like agápē. As much sex and as much liking of other people as desired, as long as you don’t like too much across the age of consent line?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Neither, from what I have seen, have you. For example, your A Case For Secular Morality is not at all scholarly.

            How about you write something decent about your positive views on Christianity? Instead you like to just critique others, while at the same time admitting that you don’t even know exactly what it is that you believe.

            And yet, you cite basically one person: Sam Harris. Dude, he ain’t a respectable moral philosopher.

            I only cited him a reference on a point where I disagree with him. I wasn’t intending to make a peer reviewed paper, I was attempted to argue persuasively on my views on morality. Who cares about who I cite, critique me for my arguments.

            What you seem to be asking for, The Thinker, is for me to adhere to a standard to which you do not also adhere.

            All I asked for is “a well thought out paper or blog” from you. That I’ve done plenty of times. You don’t even have a blog, you just comment and critique what others write.

            I have virtually nobody to build off of, although Edward Feser and Charles Taylor are promising. What you’re doing, The Thinker, is demanding something awfully close to perfection, or you won’t give me any useful feedback.

            It’s something thousands of your fellow Christians do every week. I’m asking you to make a coherent case for your theistic views, is that so unbelievably hard to do? Well then, maybe it says something about your theistic views. I have critiqued many things you wrote about in comments here so don’t tell me I haven’t given you useful feedback.

            Despite what you say, if what I say is not up to your standards of precision, comprehension, and coherence

            My standards? My standards are the same standards any fellow theist or atheist would employ when reading the worldviews of someone they disagree with. It’s ridiculous that only my standards require “precision, comprehension, and coherence”. You just want to be content with having an incoherent worldview where you don’t have to deal with any criticism.

            One is shalom. Another is the [possibly eternal] increasing understanding of The Form of the Good.

            Shalom is the same as what I wrote. How do you know the “Good” exists?

            I will note that as-stated, your goal contains nothing about knowledge or truth.

            You are aware Luke, that people can have more than one goal right?

            It is dangerously close to meaning that I can do whatever I want to other people, as long as they don’t feel hurt by it, as long as they don’t experience suffering as a result. Nowhere do you put truth in your list. Perhaps it was somehow assumed?

            That would relate to the context that I mentioned. And yes, truth of course is highly important to me, that’s why I’m a lover of wisdom. I didn’t think it had to be spelled out, or that you would assume that I don’t support truth. But the pursuit of truth covers areas outside of ethics and into ontology and epistemology.

            Ok, and the more I learn, the more I see the irrationality of atheism. So my choice is between irrationality and irrationality. I’ll pick the one I see as having less irrationality, thank you very much.

            What are your arguments in favor of theism and against atheism? This is what I’ve been encouraging you to write about for months. An empty statement like the one you made above is meaningless unless it is backed up with good arguments and evidence. So Luke, what are they?

            What’s a “god”, in your view? And what do you mean by “worship”? I’m not sure how many Christians could define “worship”.

            I would pretty much agree with Jeff Lowder that god is a supernatural person defined as: a person that is not part of nature but can affect nature. (Nature here is all of physical reality.) Examples of supernatural persons include God, angels, Satan, demons, ghosts, etc.

            Worship means propitiated in some manner. What that manner is is open to many practices.

            And what do you consider to be “greater goods”? (Note: you did not define “well being”.)

            I went into it in my post A Case for Secular Morality

            How do you know that you won’t cause “unnecessary suffering”? What I’m getting at here is that you’re largely defining morality negatively, like Sam Harris. Lack of this, lack of that, lack of the other thing.

            I’m defining it both positively and negatively. We can never be sure we won’t cause unnecessary suffering because we are not omniscient. We go with the best available evidence we have at the time.

          • Luke Breuer

            How about you write something decent about your positive views on Christianity? Instead you like to just critique others, while at the same time admitting that you don’t even know exactly what it is that you believe.

            My very point is that your definition of ‘decent’, when applied to yourself, has a lower standard than when applied to me. I don’t like interacting with you under such conditions. Perhaps I should ask you: why did you say the following:?

            LB: In the past, when I presented you with pretty much anything that was short of a publishable-in-academia level response, you criticized it for vagueness, incoherence, etc.

            TT: You’ve never written academic level writing arguing for your views.

            Why would you respond in the way you did, if you were not expecting me to give you “academic level writing”? And if you were expecting “academic level writing”, why do you get off doing something which we have both established is distinctly less than “academic level writing”?

            I only cited him a reference on a point where I disagree with him. I wasn’t intending to make a peer reviewed paper, I was attempted to argue persuasively on my views on morality. Who cares about who I cite, critique me for my arguments.

            Failure to cite means that you likely don’t have anything interesting to say, that hasn’t been said (a) before; (b) better. I had been around the block for thousands of hours discussing and debating with atheists, skeptics, and fewer Christians. I learned incredibly more by reading the experts afterward. I suggest you do the same, if you wish to do anything other than dabble. Yeah, I could critique your arguments. But why bother, if it is so unlikely that I’ll learn anything?

            You don’t even have a blog, you just comment and critique what others write.

            Actually I do: Thinking Clearly. In contrast to you, I want my blog entries to be very high quality. The WordPress blog is really just a temporary thing; I want to develop a comments engine that makes it easy to do rigorous critique, and have intense discussion, and not be absolutely retarded like Disqus is so often.

            I’m asking you to make a coherent case for your theistic views, is that so unbelievably hard to do?

            When you’re asking me to adhere to a standard to which you cannot even adhere, yes, it is so hard. Hell you won’t even respond to this comment, which I linked to afterward, which you still ignored.

            I have critiqued many things you wrote about in comments here so don’t tell me I haven’t given you useful feedback.

            Is it so hard to accept that if you’re a giant ass, I’m not going to discuss ideas that are not fully developed with you? And yes, you’ve been a giant dick in quite a few of my discussions with you. Exhibit A:

            You just want to be content with having an incoherent worldview where you don’t have to deal with any criticism.

            Nobody wants to talk to people who repeatedly say this. So pick how you want to interact with me, and maybe I’ll be up for it. Or maybe I’ll choose to e.g. read more Whose Justice? Which Rationality? Your free choice.

            Shalom is the same as what I wrote. How do you know the “Good” exists?

            I don’t know, according to the Baconian definition of ‘knowledge’, that the “Good” exists. See my discussion of negative index metamaterials over here.

            You are aware Luke, that people can have more than one goal right?

            I was simply taking you at your word. If you’d like to modify/clarify your stance, you are welcome to.

            That would relate to the context that I mentioned.

            That you think it is ever acceptable to manipulate people is terrible.

            I would pretty much agree with Jeff Lowder that god is a supernatural person defined as: a person that is not part of nature but can affect nature. (Nature here is all of physical reality.)

            What does it mean to not be part of nature, to not be part of physical reality, and yet be able to affect physical reality? Whenever I come across discussion that matches what you’ve said, the argument is that anything which can affect physical reality is part of physical reality. How do you escape this claim? See, for example, Substance Dualism (Part Four): The Problem of Interaction. I’ve read Evan Fales’ Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles; how this “not part of nature but can affect nature” is not clearly possible. Do you agree, or disagree?

            I will also remind you of Randal Rauser’s Not even wrong: The many problems with Naturalism.

            Worship means propitiated in some manner. What that manner is is open to many practices.

            One of Christianity’s explicit claims is that God sacrifices of himself for our well-being, not vice-versa. See for example Psalm 50:12: “If I were hungry I would not tell you”. It is only a ‘deity’ like Ardra in Star Trek TNG episode Devil’s Due who would need to be propitiated. As Martin Luther said, “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” So, either this form of Christianity isn’t a religion, or you need a new definition of ‘worship’.

            I went into it in my post A Case for Secular Morality

            With respect to “greater goods”, you didn’t, you just shifted the onus of definition onto “positively benefit”. With respect to “well being”, you say: “I’m not particularly worried about establishing exactly what well-being is, because in some ways it’s subjective to the individual.” Yeah, that’s pretty much emotivism. Your sentence “As long as their freedom of choice doesn’t infringe on the equal freedom of others, the principle of freedom and equality are justified.” is incredibly naive if you don’t allow for freedom-to, such as a child’s freedom-to have the opportunity to thrive in life, which is thwarted by e.g. an alcoholic parent drinking. Morality absolutely requires establishing precedences between freedoms/rights/obligations, and you just haven’t done that.

            I’ll give you an easy example. You’ve elevated your arrogance and feeling of rightness well above my frustration at your continual mocking of me. You clearly don’t give a shit. This is how you live out your morality. Let me just say: it’s informative. You are clearing promoting your own “well being”—whatever that is—over and above mine.

            We can never be sure we won’t cause unnecessary suffering because we are not omniscient. We go with the best available evidence we have at the time.

            Who defines what constitutes “unnecessary suffering”? Each individual person? What if enough people consider it “unnecessary suffering” to do the hard work of civic responsibility? Is the resultant move toward totalitarianism or what Alexis de Tocqueville called “soft despotism”—an “immense tutelary power”? What if a parent considers it “unnecessary suffering” to take proper care of his/her child?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            My very point is that your definition of ‘decent’, when applied to yourself, has a lower standard than when applied to me. I don’t like interacting with you under such conditions. Perhaps I should ask you: why did you say the following:?

            Write anything well thought out according to your own standards. I don’t care it if is academic or not, just make a positive case for your views and show why Christianity is more rational than atheism.

            Why would you respond in the way you did, if you were not expecting me to give you “academic level writing”?

            I in no way expect academic level writing from you. I mentioned it only because you mentioned it.

            Failure to cite means that you likely don’t have anything interesting to say, that hasn’t been said (a) before; (b) better. I had been around the block for thousands of hours discussing and debating with atheists, skeptics, and fewer Christians.

            I’ve learned a great deal of criticism of theism via regular bloggers and vloggers, and honestly, the work of some professional philosophers is embarrassing. Plantinga is constantly touted as a respected sophisticated theologian, and yet when I read his arguments, they’re just inept. His EAAN is a prime example. With my blog post, I never tried to revolutionize morality, but rather put already existing points using my polemic style. You should do something similar for your views. But I suspect you’re too afraid.

            Actually I do: Thinking Clearly.

            Ok. Congrats! I hope you develop an appetite for writing about your views.

            When you’re asking me to adhere to a standard to which you cannot even adhere, yes, it is so hard. Hell you won’t even respondto this comment, which I linked to afterward, which you still ignored.

            I’m asking you to try your best. I never said you must write academic level, so your comment here is a strawman. That other comment I just haven’t gotten to since tracking responses is tough and I have limited time with work and so forth. I’ll get to it, just give me time. Right now I’m at work, so I can respond to your comments only if they do not involve heavy research because I don’t have the time at work.

            Nobody wants to talk to people who repeatedly say this. So pick how you want to interact with me, and maybe I’ll be up for it.

            You’re right, sometimes I can be a dick. I’m sorry. I do enjoy these metaphysical discussions and you do sometimes steer them in interesting directions. I will try being nicer.

            That you think it is ever acceptable to manipulate people is terrible.

            Doesn’t god manipulate people with his LMs? What else are they for than to change our behavior and ways. What if we manipulate someone for good? Like manipulating a would-be criminal out of a negative lifestyle?

            What does it mean to not be part of nature, to not be part of physical reality, and yet be able to affect physical reality? Whenever I come across discussion that matches what you’ve said, the argument is that anything which can affect physical reality is part of physical reality. How do you escape this claim?

            I don’t have the time to read your links but to quickly comment, to not be part of nature is to not be part of physical reality, and yet to be able to affect physical reality like to change the course of nature. Naturalism says that the only things that affect nature is nature, whereas supernaturalism says non-natural persons can also do this.

            I will also remind you of Randal Rauser’s Not even wrong: The many problems with Naturalism.

            Yes, I’m actually in the midst of writing a response to that but I’ve been bogged down with work and all this commenting. Hopefully it should be done my the weekend.

            One of Christianity’s explicit claims is that God sacrifices of himself for our well-being, not vice-versa. See for example Psalm 50:12: “If I were hungry I would not tell you”. It is only a ‘deity’ like Ardra in Star Trek TNG episode Devil’s Due who would need to be propitiated. As Martin Luther said, “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” So, either this form of Christianity isn’t a religion, or you need a new definition of ‘worship’.

            Christianity has tons of rules, 613 commandments (not all of which are current) that Christians are to obey. God is worshiped in the sense he’s admired, sung for, praised endlessly (in fact, that’s what heaven is said to be for eternity), and sacrificed for when it comes to the austerity measures god commands. So the god of Christianity is certainly propitiated in a number of different ways.

            I have one question that stumped me last year, in your opinion, what’s the difference between a cult and a religion?

            With respect to “greater goods”, you didn’t, you just shifted the onus of definition onto “positively benefit”.

            Well being is more like an umbrella term. But it is easy to say that forbidding all women or black people equal rights or educational opportunities is not well-being. Allowing us to thrive and prosper to the best of our abilities is.

            Let me just say: it’s informative. You are clearing promoting your own “well being”—whatever that is—over and above mine.

            How so? Where in any of my writing on morality do I advocate for something that will hurt your well-being in an unreasonable fashion?

            Who defines what constitutes “unnecessary suffering”? Each individual person? What if enough people consider it “unnecessary suffering” to do the hard work of civic responsibility? Is the resultant move toward totalitarianism or what Alexis de Tocqueville called “soft despotism”—an “immense tutelary power”? What if a parent considers it “unnecessary suffering” to take proper care of his/her child?

            This is a whole other debate we’re entering in that I don’t have time for, but which I am willing to engage at a later time. For now, logic and evidence will allow us to narrow the scope of unnecessary suffering. For now, if a parent considers it “unnecessary suffering” to take proper care of his/her child we should take the child away from the parent. Duh. It is clearly necessary to sacrifice for your kids, otherwise we’d all be dead.

          • Luke Breuer

            Write anything well thought out according to your own standards.

            No. I’m tired of taking shit from you and not learning much from you, and unless you actually make some sort of guarantee, against which it is possible for you to lie publicly, I’m not going to do this just for you.

            I’ve learned a great deal of criticism of theism via regular bloggers and vloggers, and honestly, the work of some professional philosophers is embarrassing.

            Well, the question is whether it is embarrassing because of you, or because of them. I’m reminded of the following from Edward Feser, who used to be an atheist philosopher:

            Why not? Because to read something is not necessarily to understand it. Partly, of course, because when you’re young, you always understand less than you think you do. But mainly because, to understand someone, it’s not enough to sit there tapping your foot while he talks. You’ve got to listen, rather than merely waiting for a pause so that you can insert the response you’d already formulated before he even opened his mouth. And when you’re a young man who thinks he’s got the religious question all figured out, you’re in little mood to listen — especially if you’ve fallen in love with one side of the question, the side that’s new and sexy because it’s not what you grew up believing. Zeal of the deconverted, and all that.

            It’s not clear that you listen, TT.

            But I suspect you’re too afraid.

            Care to support that inference, or is it pretty much baseless?

            You’re right, sometimes I can be a dick. I’m sorry. I do enjoy these metaphysical discussions and you do sometimes steer them in interesting directions. I will try being nicer.

            I can pretty much change on a dime, so I’m all up for giving you more nascent thoughts, which might have vagueness, and might have inconsistency. After all, isn’t that how most thoughts start out? Surely you can respect what Aristotle and Bertrand Russell said, as quoted in the first two pages of de Koninck’s The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science?

            I’m actually less concerned with niceness than whether the criticism functions only to tear down and destroy and murder ideas, or whether there is also an attempt to give ideas life, even if they need pruning, re-potting, etc. It’s the death, death, death thing that gets really tiring. I’m happy to try and give some of your ideas life, as well.

            Doesn’t god manipulate people with his LMs? What else are they for than to change our behavior and ways. What if we manipulate someone for good? Like manipulating a would-be criminal out of a negative lifestyle?

            No. Communicating truth is not manipulation. From Josef Pieper’s Abuse of Language ~~ Abuse of Power:

            Still, it can hardly be denied that our language through all this indeed progressively loses its character as communication, as it more and more tries to influence while less and less says anything. (24)

            The difference between sophistry—see Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit—and true communication is probably the biggest possible difference in the world. It is the difference between will and truth. A little section from Logos is also relevant:

            Ancient philosophers used the term in different ways. The sophists used the term to mean discourse, and Aristotle applied the term to refer to “reasoned discourse”[4] or “the argument” in the field of rhetoric.[5]

            Surely you can understand the difference between “discourse” and “reasoned discourse”? The former can be (and probably usually is) manipulation, while the latter is communication.

            I don’t have the time to read your links but to quickly comment, to not be part of nature is to not be part of physical reality, and yet to be able to affect physical reality like to change the course of nature. Naturalism says that the only things that affect nature is nature, whereas supernaturalism says non-natural persons can also do this.

            I really suggest that you read up on the “interaction problem” of mind–body dualism. Attempts to discuss this issue without that background will be utterly fruitless.

            Yes, I’m actually in the midst of writing a response to that but I’ve been bogged down with work and all this commenting. Hopefully it should be done my the weekend.

            Neat; do let me know when it’s up. I’m not at all convinced that Randal is correct, but there does seem to be something very true in what he says. There is this definition game, where I can say, “all of X is just Y”, without actually properly restricting Y. Note how ‘materialism’ had to change to ‘physicalism’, given the prevalence of fields. And now the holographic principle threatens to add information to the ontic realm. Where will it stop? I’ve just been reading about eliminative materialism in Feser’s Last Superstition; reductionism can get really crazy, while adding virtually nothing to our understanding of the world. I’m glad folks like Massimo Pigliucci are pushing back; see his Essays on emergence, part I, for example.

            The basic problem is well-spelled out by Owen Barfield in Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry. We’re attempting to take very sure thoughts, and use them to say that the thoughts are actually wrong, that reality is actually different. The problem is that this undermines the very thoughts that got us there. If you saw off the branch upon which you’re sitting, you’re screwed. Feser attempts a very detailed explication of said “sawing off” in Last Superstition, which I’ve just started getting to.

            Christianity has tons of rules, 613 commandments (not all of which are current) that Christians are to obey. God is worshiped in the sense he’s admired, sung for, praised endlessly (in fact, that’s what heaven is said to be for eternity), and sacrificed for when it comes to the austerity measures god commands. So the god of Christianity is certainly propitiated in a number of different ways.

            It is commonly thought that “love God” + “love your neighbor” did away with the OT law; Jesus said that it is the OT law. Romans 10:4 says that “Christ is the telos of the law”, which matches up nicely with him being the Logos. So I think you’re partially right, here.

            What you don’t seem to want to fully grapple with is that it could be the case that:

            LB: (1) chosen physical laws ⇒ moral laws

            At least, I thought I had presented you with this option. Anyhow, if God is good, he will tell us the moral laws, even though we could independently verify them. Indeed, the “independently verify” sounds awfully close to the Torah’s 2–3 witnesses. Is it wrong to admire God if he is good? Is it wrong to sacrifice for what one believes is good?

            Via your terminology, everyone worships a source that determines what is good and what is evil, what is kalos vs kakos (the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ seem so small these days). That source can be oneself, that source can be one’s family, that source can be one’s nation, the world, principles, or even YHWH.

            I have one question that stumped me last year, in your opinion, what’s the difference between a cult and a religion?

            I doubt there’s an objective difference. The word ‘cult’ seems to mostly be used to describe people ‘I’ don’t like. Or it describes a mini-religion that is budding off a bigger religion, and may or may not live to become its own religion—like Christianity.

            Allowing us to thrive and prosper to the best of our abilities is.

            This isn’t so clear-cut as you make it to seem. What if, in the final equation, promiscuous sex is as damaging, if not more, than children eating as much candy as they want, whenever they want? After all, restricting their candy intake is thwarting their ability to thrive and prosper! Who are you to set the timescale over which they must evaluate “thrive and prosper”? Indeed, this is one of the arguments against Christianity during the Enlightenment: we must aim for life now, not just life in heaven (although I suspect that ‘just’ is absolutely erroneous).

            How so? Where in any of my writing on morality do I advocate for something that will hurt your well-being in an unreasonable fashion?

            It’s not your writing, it’s your behavior. In After Virtue, MacIntyre claims that morality is unintelligible without lived-out examples of it. The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature provides similar reasoning when it comes to natural law: maybe the best way to communicate it is via simulation. If someone suggests to me a moral attitude or behavior he/she cannot demonstrate increasingly well in his/her behavior, I will suspect that he/she is full of crap.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I do have some questions for you out of curiosity. What do you do for a living and how do you find so much time to comment back and forth? Are you just glued to your computer everyday endlessly going back and forth on comment threads? Also, what do you hope to achieve by commenting on secular blogs?

          • Luke Breuer

            I write software. Previously, I did pretty much every part of making quadcopters, except for actually PCB design. This means machining parts out of aluminum, soldering SMT (we made our own avionics board), writing flight code, debugging embedded systems, learning to fly, etc. From this, you can perhaps see that I love systems thinking and semi-formal systems. I have been working only part-time in the last year, in order to do a lot of reading and exploring of issues I find important. You?

            I comment on secular blogs because, sadly, there seem to be more atheists/skeptics folks willing to criticize and think rigorously who post online, than Christians who do the same and post online. I don’t have good access to any Christian scholars, except perhaps my sister, and she’s extremely busy. I am interested in knowing what the evidence is (or rather, how it is variously interpreted, since nobody has direct, non-theory-laden access to it), what is logical, and what is true.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            SANFORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            http://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/stan-4/

            I’ve argued about him before. Great example of someone who, with influence from his religiosity, has gone downhill.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            BOOM.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Oh may ad hoc rationalising hell. Are you serious? You are really, presently plumbing the depths of cognitive biases and nonsense.

            Why not just say, “Well, it could be that all Christians are Supermen, with unrealised X-Ray vision!”

          • Luke Breuer

            Jonathan, here’s what I suggest. You make up a list of things about which you think I am a fucking idiot. Then I shall do my best to never discuss them on your blog again. How does that sound?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            All I am saying is that this statement:

            ” And who says YEC doesn’t happen to protect against some sort of stupidity, like sickle cell anemia protects against malaria?”

            is possibly one of the worst you have ever made, intellectually speaking.

            And who says atheism doesn’t happen to protect against some sort of invisible disease from the planet Zog?

          • Luke Breuer

            No, this isn’t all you’re saying. You’re implying major things about whether I am speaking intelligently on an issue or not. You have a pretty good idea of my character, Jonathan Pearce. Do you really think I am going to speak competently on one issue, and then wildly incompetently on another? If so, then what I will choose to do is ask you for the issues upon which you think I speak wildly incompetently, and I will never talk about them again on your blog. It actually really pisses me off that you think I would be wildly incompetent. And so, I wish to minimize my exposure to you saying this, or implying it in any way. Make sense?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Dude, you appear to be having an angry day!

            All I am saying, and I suggest you re-read your claim, is that you really did appear to be pulling out a great example of ad hoc rationalisation.

          • Luke Breuer

            Is it wrong to be angry when one feels one has been dehumanized?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Don’t get me on conspiracy theories… (1 in 4 Americans think Obama is the Anti-Christ. C’mon, seriously? They, by default, MUST be Christians).

            Here are some interesting ones:
            http://www.salon.com/2013/09/05/10_weirdest_right_wing_christian_conspiracy_theories_partner/

            And here is a Christian site lamenting Christians for not being incredulous enough:

            http://www.acts17-11.com/conspire.html

            There is huge correlation between conspiracy theories and the right wing, and with the right wing and religious adherence.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Read Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles.

            The God of christianity is a God of Humean miracles, even if they are rare assuming that christianity is true, they still would have occured, and those occurences include the event that is absolutely central to christianity – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you believe that there is a maximally perfect being and that this maximally perfect being would not cause Humean miracles, then you cannot believe that the maximally perfect being corresponds to the God of christianity if you want to be consistent.

          • Luke Breuer

            Why would the resurrection need to be Humean?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Is this supposed to be a Joke? Maybe you haven´t noticed but dead people actually stay dead, always, even if christianity were true it would still be “always except for those two times” (or several dozen times if you count the big Jerusalem Zombie uprising as literal history). And since we live in the 21st century, we also know that dying involves irreversible physical and chemical processes – a dead person cannot rise naturally any more than a broken porcellain vase could spontaneously rearrange itself into its original state. Unless someone or something were to violate or suspend the laws of nature of course.
            Christianity is a religion of Humean miracles.

          • Luke Breuer

            It used to be the case that someone flying through the air at supersonic speeds would be considered a Humean miracle.

          • Andy_Schueler

            And maybe apples start falling upwards tomorrow because cavemen didn´t understand where thunder and lighting came from.
            Do I have to explain why that is hilariously illogical or is it obvious enough?

          • Luke Breuer

            Yeah, I want you to show me how the insanely awesome things we can do with science and technology, which would have been viewed as Humean miracles 500 years ago, are in a different category than resurrection of the dead. Note that we can resurrect certain people who have only been dead for a few minutes. It seems ludicrous to think that we won’t be able to add seconds here and maybe minutes there to the current records. We’re always pushing the boundaries of what we can do; why is there a hard limit at resurrection?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Are you saying god uses technology to perform all his reported miracles? And if that’s true, can god perform miracles without this technology?

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m saying that God is supremely rational, which disallows Humean miracles. How precisely he does them, we ought to use science to figure out. Hey, maybe we’ll figure out how to have psi powers, like Babylon 5 or the Betazoids. Who knows; there is just so much mystery and so much potential in the future doing of science, it’s really exciting. And the cool thing is, only certain kinds of religion appear to get in the way. Maybe we could just focus on those kinds?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            If god was supremely rational he wouldn’t have sacrificed himself, to himself, to save us all from himself. So that cancels Christianity. But was the pregnancy of Mary a Humean miracle? If not how did that not break any laws?

          • Luke Breuer

            That you phrased Jesus’ crucifixion in the way you have makes me not want to continue this line of discussion. So let’s pursue other ones. I honestly don’t care what reason you had for this mockery, including your contesting that it ain’t mockery. And should you attempt to goad me into responding, I will consider ignoring you completely. Act as you wish; I have indicated how I may respond.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I’m just saying, if I grant your logic it eliminates Christianity for that reason and many others. If you want to debate me on this, bring it on.

          • FallanFrank

            Luke…there are atheists who will debate in a professional way and others like the Thinker and Schueler who debate from the gutter….why you accept such challenges from these people is in my view a mistake.

          • Luke Breuer

            On the one hand, I want to agree with you. The Thinker is probably the most arrogant person I’ve ever met, and I went to an MIT-level university for undergrad (dropped out twice tho). On the other hand, The Thinker gives more insight into how an atheist thinks than many atheists do. For example:

            TT: Of course 2 examples alone wouldn’t prove my point. But my two examples are the rule that exemplify the result one gets when they convert. They serve merely as examples to fortify the greater point I’m making. An example of a better scientist who became a Christian would be the exception.

            You see, TT did not develop his thinking based on the evidence he has provided, for if he had, he wouldn’t speak so strongly. Instead, some time in the past he accepted to propositions:

                 (1) false beliefs ultimately lead to badness
                 (2) all religion is false

            Now, a potential problem with (2) is that it all depends on how you define ‘religion’. I recently requested that TT give a rigorous definition of ‘religion’, and ‘supernatural’ if he uses that to define ‘religion’. We’ll see if TT can follow through on this, or if he links to some huge article like WP: Religion.

            You see, I actually agree with (1). I do add ought-beliefs to is-beliefs (I suspect that the fact-value distinction is a well-supported illusion), but I agree with (1). This is part of what it means to believe in absolute truth.

            Now, if you check out the second Loftus quotation over here, you’ll see evidence of what I described as an insidious plan, by gnu atheists to claim that:

                 (3) their version of ‘the good’ is best
                 (4) where I disagree with them, my version is ‘religious’

            This is actually rather clever. Anywhere I disagree with these folks, they can claim it’s my religion speaking. Some atheists use that tactic with abandon—DC is an example—while some are a little pickier. But don’t mistake the goal: it is to destroy the ability of religious people to pursue a collective, common good, like Aristotle’s polis. You see, religion is a potent way for people to collect around a concept of ‘the good’. What better way to prevent this, than what has been done? It’s ingenious!

            One of the things that I learn from interacting with TT is how scant the actual evidence is which he has to support (2). Mostly, he has a complicated rational system. William James talks about this in his Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, when he contrasts “tender-minded” to “tough-minded”. TT uses both approaches—rationalist and empiricist—depending on which suits him. This is apparently the Pragmatist way, although I still know so little about Pragmatism. Motivated reasoning matches TT’s behavior quite well. Where he has evidence, he’ll present it, even if it’s N = 2. Where he doesn’t, he’ll slam his rational system over your head. You might be surprised; observing this behavior is quite enlightening.

          • FallanFrank

            Luke you have an incredibly bright mind but dont let these people make you resort to expletives Im not judging you as in my moments of temper words like this also stream from my mouth….you are battling not against flesh and blood as Paul says and atheists such as these two are probably grinning from ear to ear when they see such words from a Christian.

          • Luke Breuer

            expletives

            Umm, read bad words in the Bible as well as part 2. God does care about words—Jesus talks about letting your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and God created the world with words—but I just cannot make consistent sense of scripture when trying to take the attitude toward expletives that you are taking.

            You and I, FallanFrank, have whitewashed Bibles. A famous Bible translator, Daniel B. Wallace, says in A Brief Word Study on: Skuvbalon that he lets “English sensibilities” impact how he translates what [I think] he views as the inerrant word of God. Yeah, no. The Bible is very clearly meant to challenge culture, and Daniel B. Wallace thinks it’s ok to adapt the Bible to culture, in any way? No, when Paul says skuvbalon in Philippians 3:8, he means something between ‘crap’ and ‘shit’. He means that distinctive sensation you get when you are having a wonderful day and then you step in dog crap and have that smell around you.

            Or let’s consider “you son of a perverse and rebellious woman”. Yeah, do you really think this is how we’d say it? No. We’d say, “you sonuvabitch”. If it’s ok to adapt the Bible to our ‘sensibilities’, then how else is it ok to adapt it, to conform it to us instead of us being conformed to it?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Interesting ideas, Luke. I’ve never even considered this or these points. Mind you, it’s not high on my philosophical agenda!

          • Luke Breuer

            Wait, if you’re talking about the expletives thing, that was directed toward FallanFrank; I would hazard to guess that you have no problem with expletives, yourself. :-p It’s just so utterly hilarious that Christians focus on no expletives—whitewashing one’s exterior—when Jesus said to focus on cleaning the inside of the cup. Now, given that this inversion of focus is so prevalent in the Christianity to which I have exposed myself and been exposed to, I don’t want to lay much blame at FallanFrank’s feet. But it is hilarious, because I can tear you down in High English just as well as I can tear you down with expletives, if not better.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Wow. I compliment you on some interesting points which I have not considered, and apparently this leads you to claim you can tear me apart, no matter what style of English is appropriated…!

          • Luke Breuer

            Umm, ‘can’ /= ‘should’, ‘can’ /= ‘want to’. My point was that one can do plenty of evil without expletives, not that I am free to do evil to you without them…

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Thanks for commenting, but I would appreciate you not second guessing my actions of opinions!
            Especially when such a guessing is wrong.

          • FallanFrank

            My comments wasnt directed at you but two others read my post again

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            ok.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Don´t worry about him, FallanFrank is an unthinking cheerleader who has nothing to contribute except for his fanboi-ism.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            And yet the moment I provide evidence the goal post has suddenly been moved down field.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Get lost you cockroach. Adults are talking.

          • FallanFrank

            You just proved my point…SHIRLEY

          • Andy_Schueler

            You had a point? Funny, looked as if you just wanted to tell Luke how much you´d like to lick his butthole – which so far was the only thing that you ever “contributed” to any thread that you vomitted your worthless comments on.

          • FallanFrank

            My first vision of you hasnt changed thats a spotty teenager who hasnt got any friends except his pc for company…the things you post just continually prove my point…there is an atheist named Void who debates like an adult not a child you might learn something from him but I doubt it!

          • Andy_Schueler

            My first vision of…

            Let me interrupt you right there – no one gives a damn about your “first vision” of anything and everyone is sick of your drooling adoration for Luke. We get it – you have a crush on him, we got it already after you posted it for the first one hundred times. And hey, if Luke gets bored of his wife and finds out that he is actually into dudes with the personality of a badly programmed spambot, then maybe the two of you can have a future together. But for crying out loud, keep your pathetic fanboi-ism to yourself.

          • FallanFrank

            You prove my point every time you post there is only one child in this conversation…im surprised youve even stooped down to reply to me again you must stick to your word Shirl…Luke Randal Craig and other apologists its their defence of the gospel that I admire not bodily desires but obviously your mind is hardwired to see sex in such things.Having been raised up in one of the most violent estates in the UK your silly gnat like attacks make me laugh as my attacks against Christians when I was an atheist was vile but now Im thankful Jesus rescued me from the pit I was in.So carry on with your insults Ive heard much worse.

          • Andy_Schueler

            You don´t say! It never occured to anyone that you adore “Luke Randal Craig” after posting comments about how much you love them and only comments about how much you love them, over and over and over and over again, like a drooling fanboi with absolutely nothing on his mind except his adoration for “Luke Randal Craig”. Keep spreading the news that you love “Luke Randal Craig” and by all means, don´t ever try to write about anything else. It is of utmost importance that you mindlessly repeat how much you adore “Luke Randal Craig” like a broken record.

          • FallanFrank

            Again im amazed that you go back on your word talking to “a child”..seems Im not the one fixated on Luke Randal Craig etc you are!..you post like someone who strives for attention you really should get help…now please go back to debating “adults” and let this child debate with others..or you have a fixation with ME Shirl?

          • Andy_Schueler

            or you have a fixation with ME Shirl?

            Are you coming on to me? Careful, Luke Randal Craig might get jealous (his name is actually Luke Breuer and not Luke Randal Craig btw – if you want to impress him, how about you try to learn how to use commas?)

          • FallanFrank

            See what I mean sexual innuendo should be your middle name Shirl…regarding my grama me and my english teacher never got on knocked him out to many times I guess..so getting him on my side was very dificulte…now go back playing with your paper clips your becomin booring

          • Andy_Schueler

            That´s how you want to impress Luke Randal Craig? Not good enough, you´ll have to work harder or Luke Randal Craig will be disappointed with you.

          • FallanFrank

            Ok Shirl how about this luke,randal,craig anygood?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Not yet. Unless you intended to talk about a guy called “craig anygood”. Also, a comma is followed by a space. But it is the effort that counts – when you are done with commas, you can try to work on capitalization, which currently seems to be rather random in your writings.
            Luke Randal Craig will be back in a few days and if you try really hard, you might get a pat on the back and a cookie.

          • FallanFrank

            What a grate teecher you are Shirl so must improve rite…gotcha…but will being grammatically correct improve my image I doubt it …as it hasnt improved yours Shirl you know what I mean !!

          • FallanFrank

            In the United States and Canada a cookie is a small, flat, baked treat, usually containing flour, eggs, sugar, and either butter or cooking oil, and often including ingredients such as raisins, oats, or chocolate chips. Most other English-speaking countries would call it a biscuit.

            Yeah I know America hasn’t quite caught up with the english language just yet..but keep on trying then you might get a pat on the back and a biscuit..

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Er, are you serious? a) Andy is German, and his grasp of the English language far supersedes yours. b) I was eating cookies in my English kitchen yesterday. c) Luke, Randal and Craig live in the US and so are most likely to give you a cookie and NOT a biscuit, which has a different meaning over there,

            Well done.

          • FallanFrank

            Careful now Jonathan your admiration for him might be construed as “buttlicking”

            “Most other English-speaking countries would call it a biscuit.”
            Take it up with Wikipedia if it upsets you this much

          • Andy_Schueler

            Jonathan: Luke, Randal and Craig live in the US and so are most likely to give you a cookie and NOT a biscuit, which has a different meaning over there

            FallanTroll: Most other English-speaking countries would call it a biscuit. Take it up with Wikipedia if it upsets you this much

            :-D US-americans cannot possibly call it a cookie because wikipedia says that countries other than the US and Canada call it a biscuit. Flawless logic! Brought to you by the same “mind” that brought you:
            “regarding my grama me and my english teacher never got on knocked him out to many times I guess..so getting him on my side was very dificulte…”

          • FallanFrank

            Hahaha,,Jonathan says your a German and now I understand why you didnt get those lines you quoted after all comedians are a very rare breed in Germany…careful you two backing each other up could as Shirl says might be looked on as”buttlicking”

          • Andy_Schueler

            It´s “you´re“.
            Also, it would only be funny if you would not write like this all the time.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            You again show your naivety. Having been to Germany several times, and knowing a good few, it is obvious that the Germans have a very similar SOH to the British. This also explains how our TV comedy has traditionally sold very well over there.

            It is almost funny to see how every single claim you make is utterly wrong.

            Where, perhaps, Germans might struggle in a stand-up sort of way concerns the syntax of their language which is far more rigid than English.

            If you are interested (as you seem to make a lot of assertions without the faintest fricking idea of what you are talking about) may I refer you to the great Stewart Lee:

            http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/may/23/germany.features11

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            oh dear

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Damn, I get it now, that’s three people. I thought it was a single person.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            If technology will allow us to do what god can do, but god can do it without technology then that is no different from saying that I can lift the table with my hand, but god can do it with his powers. If god uses his powers, that is a Humean miracle. It at the very least violates the law of the conservation of energy.

          • Andy_Schueler

            We cannot resurrect the dead period, what you mean is a colloquial understanding of “dead” – we can reanimate your heart when it stops beating, but when your brain is dead, you are gone, irreversibly. If you want to talk about sci-fi, what could be possible would be to create a new brain from scratch that is analogous to the last known state of your brain, to what degree that could be considered to be “you” is a mystery.
            But that is all beside the point, it cannot happen spontaneously within the laws of nature – somebody would have to intervene and actually do it, because nature won´t.
            If you disagree with that, then I have to point out that you first of all would be dishonest by bringing the concept of a “Humean miracle” up in the first place because there would be nothing that you would accept as a “Humean miracle” in the first place! And second, it would be rather weird for a christian to trivialize the resurrection in such a manner, because you would be essentially saying that the resurrection of Jesus is nothing special per se, it could spontaneously happen to anyone , we just don´t know how to predict it because our understanding of the laws of nature is complete and utter bullshit in pretty much every respect.

          • Luke Breuer

            Ok Andy. I think you’re wrong, but given that this is predicated upon where I think science and technology will be in 100–500 years, I don’t have evidence. All I can say is that I can easily imagine someone making an argument like yours, for why we would never be able to fly around at supersonic speeds, 500 years before now. Many people would have made that argument, and they would have been wrong. Did they know the facts that made them wrong? Of course not. Could they imagine them? Probably not! You’re being dead-certain, just like they would. I suspect that dead certainty like yours led to Max Planck uttering the following:

            A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

            But I could be wrong. So here’s what we can do: I’ll keep thinking that more things are possible than you. People generally don’t try for things they think are impossible, which means you and I may try for different things. Let’s see where we go. My uncle (PhD chemical engineering) likes to say that many great discoveries were made by people who didn’t know they were impossible. I prefer his approach to yours.

          • Andy_Schueler

            And as usual, when you are wrong you just resort to radical skepticism, so this time – I will just do the same:
            you cannot possibly know that Max Planck or your uncle said those things, the alleged “evidence” for them saying those things might be completely overturned a gazillion years in the future, so there.

            Also, you completely ignored the substance of my comment:

            But that is all beside the point, it cannot happen spontaneously within the laws of nature – somebody would have to intervene and actually do it, because nature won´t.
            If you disagree with that, then I have to point out that you first of all would be dishonest by bringing the concept of a “Humean miracle” up in the first place because there would be nothing that you would accept as a “Humean miracle” in the first place! And second, it would be rather weird for a christian to trivialize the resurrection in such a manner, because you would be essentially saying that the resurrection of Jesus is nothing special per se, it could spontaneously happen to anyone , we just don´t know how to predict it because our understanding of the laws of nature is complete and utter bullshit in pretty much every respect.

            – which I will take as a concession that your talk about Humean miracles is actually just a failed attempt at obfuscating the issue.

            Also, you say:

            . All I can say is that I can easily imagine someone making an argument like yours, for why we would never be able to fly around at supersonic speeds

            By all means, go ahead and come up with a valid argument, based on the scientific background knowledge available 500 years ago, for why flying at supersonic speed would be impossible. I don´t care what you can imagine, I only care what you can argue for. So argue.

          • Luke Breuer

            But that is all beside the point, it cannot happen spontaneously within the laws of nature – somebody would have to intervene and actually do it, because nature won´t.

            Well, the Christian wouldn’t have anyone in mind for that, no sir.

            FYI an ‘observer’ (in the quantum sense of observers altering the state of what is observed) is needed in more cases than this; see Sean Carroll’s fascinating Sean Carroll, “Fluctuations in de Sitter Space” FQXi conference. Void and I talked about this, and I don’t think Sean Carroll has an observer to initially disturb his Everett quantum field (see Krauss’ A Universe from Nothing—I mean his ‘nothing’). I’m skeptical that Carroll can pull an observer out of reheating.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Well, the Christian wouldn’t have anyone in mind for that, no sir.

            Oh, christianity certainly does have someone in mind for that – some God who is described in the Bible and who likes to carry out Humean miracles. That was the point all along.

          • Luke Breuer

            I have no idea why this God must use Humean miracles to accomplish what you describe, other than your arrogant certainty about how the world works.

          • Andy_Schueler

            :-D
            So you actually went there, in Luke Breuer´s world, a guy who is braindead actually can rise spontaneously from the dead – no intervention required, we just can´t predict when it happens because science is complete and utter BS.
            Which makes Jesus being resurrected from the dead of course exactly as impressive as rainfall, or thunder, or a sunrise but what the hell.

          • Luke Breuer

            Define ‘intervention’. Last time I checked, shocking someone’s heart to life is ‘intervention’.

          • Andy_Schueler

            To quote from your source:
            “Another way of thinking about this is to say that it’s not as if God created the sort of universe in which the Red Sea doesn’t part when Moses raises his staff, then later decided to part the Red Sea anyway. If that was the case, then God would be changing his mind and/or acting erratically. Rather, if the parting of the Red Sea occurred then the classical theist (I take it that being a classical theist involves belief in divine atemporality, and so divine knowledge of future contingents) should say that God intended it all along and created the world with that intention in mind.”

            – So, if we take this seriously and assume that there is such a God who wanted Lazarus and Jesus to be resurrected from the dead, then he would have actualized a world where this happens spontaneously without said God being required to intervene to make it happen.

          • Luke Breuer

            You appear to be conflating efficient and final causation. The precise nature of divine intervention is surprisingly tricky; see Evan Fales’ Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles. This also goes to the heart of our discussions about LFW. If God is infinitely rational, in the sense of his nature not being describable by a finite Turing machine, but still rule-following in the sense that rationality follows rules, then what does it mean for him to do things?

            Arguably, the only spontaneity is personal choice. Well, there are really three options:

                 (1) no first causes terminate in persons
                 (2) some first causes terminate in persons
                 (3) all first causes terminate in persons

            So yeah, we’re back at what it means for a person to choose something, what first causes could possibly be, etc. Shall we re-visit that territory?

          • Andy_Schueler

            This is how it started:

            The Thinker: 2. In the point I’m making here, whether I hold to A,B or C makes no difference. Theism by definition means you believe in a god who supernaturally intervenes in the world, therefore it is logically impossible that theism does not increase the tendency for one to jettison natural explanations in favor of supernatural ones. You simply want to argue against a strawman I’m not making here.

            Luke Breuer:

            This is 100% false. Read Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles.

            and as I keep pointing out, Christianity postulates a God who intervenes in such a way / who causes such “Humean miracles”.
            If the resurrection of Jesus indeed did happen, and it was not simply the result of natural processes causing this spontaneously (in a way that we do not understand because our scientific understanding of the human body is not merely incomplete but rather spectacularly wrong), but rather the result of divine intervention – then your response to The Thinker is baseless (not necessarily from a theistic perspective in general but certainly from a christian theistic perspective).
            What precisely “divine intervention” means is beside the point, the point is rather that it was not some aspect of natural processes that we do not understand yet but rather the result of a supernatural being intervening and making something possible that could not have happened spontaneously. And this is the sort of explanation that The Thinker was talking about.
            In principle, I´d completely agree with the logic in “Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles” (but I´d go a step further then what is being argued in that article and say that such a perfect being would never create anything period), but the concept of God it leads to is simply not the God of christianity.

          • Luke Breuer

            and as I keep pointing out, Christianity postulates a God who intervenes in such a way / who causes such “Humean miracles”.

            Is this ‘intervention’ any more Hume-miraculous than LFW?

            If the resurrection of Jesus indeed did happen, and it was not simply the result of natural processes causing this spontaneously

            What do you mean by ‘spontaneously’? I am strangely reminded of my much-maligned SELO.

            (but I´d go a step further then what is being argued in that article and say that such a perfect being would never create anything period)

            I would be interested in knowing why you don’t think such a being would create. That seems like an incredible difference and well worth exploring.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Is this ‘intervention’ any more Hume-miraculous than LFW?

            You cannot know that LFW would be miraculous at all because you don´t know what “LFW” is even supposed to mean to begin with.

            What do you mean by ‘spontaneously’?

            For the colloquial meaning, see the dictionary, for the technical meaning, see:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_process

            I would be interested in knowing why you don’t think such a being would create.

            Look at the laundry list of attributes that classical theism assigns to God. IIRC, you already agree that this is not the god of christianity (I think it was the impassibility attribute that ticked you off).
            And the reason for why such a God would never create anything is that it is not merely perfectly good, it literally is “goodness”, and infinite goodness to boot. A universe with just it existing would be perfectly and infinitely good, creating anything can only make the universe less perfect and good, it cannot possibly make it more perfect and good.
            The final element that theologians forgot to add to this laundry list of attributes would be “causal inertness” / “omni-staticness” or however you´d like to call it, this God would just be in his omni-everything state and never do anything whatsoever.

          • Luke Breuer

            You cannot know that LFW would be miraculous at all because you don´t know what “LFW” is even supposed to mean to begin with.

            I’m not letting this go. You’re pretending we can talk about God acting in reality just fine, and yet if I talk about humans acting in reality, you slam me with my inability to properly define LFW. No, you don’t get to have it both ways: pick. From the physicalist viewpoint, both God and humans choosing to act is ‘spontaneous’, for the physical effect wasn’t there one moment and then was there the next.

            Why is God choosing and acting different from humans choosing and acting, Andy?

            And the reason for why such a God would never create anything is that it is not merely perfectly good, it literally is “goodness”, and infinite goodness to boot.

            Yeah, you don’t get to just causally use the word ‘infinite’ in this way. There are many different kinds and some are bigger than others. You’ve also got to grapple with Jonathan’s God Cannot Be Perfect Because Perfect Does Not Make Sense; I asked “Why cannot God be perfectly good?”, but that was ~8 months after Jonathan posted the entry.

            A universe with just it existing would be perfectly and infinitely good, creating anything can only make the universe less perfect and good, it cannot possibly make it more perfect and good.

            What’s your measure of perfection and goodness, and how do you know it is a perfectly good one? If you do believe this, why? Let me trace some bits out schematically:

                 (1) g(Y + α) < g(Y), ∀ α

            g: measure of goodness
            Y: YHWH
            α: any other being than YHWH, and maybe any other state of affairs

            Why ought I accept the truth of (1)? Perhaps because one must take account of badness?

                 (2) gb(Y + α) < gb(Y), ∀ α

            gb: measure of (goodness – badness)

            But who says that (2) obtains?

            This also reminds me of my O-power discussion with D Rizdek. Dunno if you’ll find that interesting/relevant.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’m not letting this go. You’re pretending we can talk about God acting in reality just fine, and yet if I talk about humans acting in reality, you slam me with my inability to properly define LFW. No, you don’t get to have it both ways: pick. From the physicalist viewpoint, both God and humans choosing to act is ‘spontaneous’, for the physical effect wasn’t there one moment and then was there the next.

            Why is God choosing and acting different from humans choosing and acting, Andy?

            Because God is not something that acts within nature and is constrained by the limits of what is naturally possible, God transcends nature, is supernatural, not constrained by what is naturally possible.
            And the difference that is being pointed out in the article you link to is between a) a God who never needs to intervene in nature because he has anticipated everything and creates nature in such a way that everything he wants to happen actually does happen spontaneously within the laws that he has created, compared to b) a God who has to do something, who intervenes, instead of just sitting idly by and watching his plan unfold. It is being argued that b) is more “glorious”, more “perfect” etc.pp. – and I completely agree with the reasoning, b) is indeed more “perfect”, however b) is not the christian God. The christian God is a God of supernatural interventions and christians are more prone to accept supernatural explanations, as The Thinker pointed out.

            Yeah, you don’t get to just causally use the word ‘infinite’ in this way. There are many different kinds and some are bigger than others.

            What’s your measure of perfection and goodness, and how do you know it is a perfectly good one?

            You do realize that I am not talking about what I believe but rather about the conception of what “God” means according to classical theism, of which thomism is the most refined version, philosophically speaking? What “perfection” means in this framework:
            “1. Potency and Act divide being in such a way that whatever is, is either pure act, or of necessity it is composed of potency and act as primary and intrinsic principles.
            2. Since act is perfection, it is not limited except through a potency which itself is a capacity for perfection. Hence in any order in which an act is pure act, it will only exist, in that order, as a unique and unlimited act. But whenever it is finite and manifold, it has entered into a true composition with potency.
            3. Consequently, the one God, unique and simple, alone subsists in absolute being. All other things that participate in being have a nature whereby their being is restricted; they are constituted of essence and being, as really distinct principles.”

            Quoted from wikipedia´s article on thomism:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomism

            (1) g(Y + α) < g(Y) ∀ α

            g: measure of goodness
            Y: YHWH
            α: any other being than YHWH, and maybe any other state of affairs

            Why ought I accept the truth of (1)?

            You don´t have to. But if you on the one hand agree with God being metaphysically ultimate, then it makes no sense for this God to create anything because you cannot make “ultimate” better, by definition. Remember that this is not about your conception of what “God” means, it is rather about the conception of what “God” means according to many philosophers, a concept as the one espoused in the article about Humean miracles you linked to. And this is one conception of what “God” means that you don´t completely agree with anyway, you disagree with the impassibility part. And what I point out is that the God of classical theism is simply not the God of christianity, not only because the God of christianity is not impassible, but also because the God of christianity actually does perform Humean miracles and because he actually does things at all, while the God of classical theism would just be but never do.

          • Luke Breuer

            Because God is not something that acts within nature and is constrained by the limits of what is naturally possible, God transcends nature, is supernatural, not constrained by what is naturally possible.

            Ahhh, but what precisely is “naturally possible”? You seem to think you have a much better handle on it than I think you do. Do you mean to say something like: the universe can only ‘do’ so much without evolving intelligent beings to do the rest, perhaps the most ‘advanced’ stuff?

            And the difference that is being pointed out in the article you link to is between a) a God who never needs to intervene in nature because he has anticipated everything and creates nature in such a way that everything he wants to happen actually does happen spontaneously within the laws that he has created, compared to b) a God who has to do something, who intervenes, instead of just sitting idly by and watching his plan unfold.

            I’ve had many discussions about the former, deist conception of God, with my wife. We have run into difficulties: if God pre-programs the universe to e.g. respond to human inquiries for divine revelation with what he would say, then is God still a deist God? The more one attempts to reason through this, the more the distinction between a deist God and an interventionist God seems to evaporate, if you allow for a completely rational interventionist God.

            You do realize that I am not talking about what I believe but rather about the conception of what “God” means according to classical theism, of which thomism is the most refined version, philosophically speaking?

            Of course it isn’t what you believe, but if you’re parroting (which isn’t always a bad thing, including here) someone else using the terms, that doesn’t immediately absolve you of the difficulties with those terms. For example, a friend of mine who just got his PhD wrote Infinite Power and Finite Powers, in which he argues that maybe working with the concept ‘infinite’ is not as helpful as working with the concept ‘unlimited’.

            So you’ve given me some conception of ‘perfection’, but not ‘perfectly good’. Do you really want to bring in the concept of being into this discussion? I have only just started to gain the tiniest bit of understanding of the term (as evidenced by my Si enim fallor, sum.). I have looked into Augustine’s “Privation Theory of Evil”, although the more accurate term is apparently privation of good, from the Latin privatio boni. Here, ‘being’ = good, ‘non-being’ = evil—I think.

            Are you perhaps saying that ‘becoming’ is evil? One of the aspects of my O-power discussion with D Rizdek was, I think, him arguing that ‘becoming’ is evil, and that we ought to be able to instantaneously snap from one perfectly good situation to another—but perhaps my use of ‘perfectly good’, here, differs from what you mean by the term?

            You don´t have to. But if you on the one hand agree with God being metaphysically ultimate, then it makes no sense for this God to create anything because you cannot make “ultimate” better, by definition.

            This seems to assume that God only cares about God. FYI, I’m vaguely aware of Jonathan Edwards’ A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World, in which he gets dangerously close to asserting that God necessarily had to create the world. This is considered ugly, because we don’t want to say that God needs the world, that he is less without having created the world. But other than this, I’m not very aware of the many theological discussions which have been had about why “In the beginning, God created…”

            Given the above disclaimer, your argument seems to turn on a very selfish conception of “what is good”. You seem to be saying that since God could do nothing to enhance himself, that he oughtn’t have created anything. Indeed, creating merely creates obligation, and wouldn’t it be better for Jesus to not have to have died? Now, perhaps this isn’t where your argument goes, but I’m going to continue a bit anyhow. My understanding of YHWH, based on verses like Ps 50:12, is that he does things for his creation; his creation does not do things for him. YHWH is fundamentally concerned with the well-being of not himself, but others! He is fundamentally others-centered.

            Remember that this is not about your conception of what “God” means,

            Sure—have I said anything which tries to pull the discussion toward my conception?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Ahhh, but what precisely is “naturally possible”? You seem to think you have a much better handle on it than I think you do. Do you mean to say something like: the universe can only ‘do’ so much without evolving intelligent beings to do the rest, perhaps the most ‘advanced’ stuff?

            What I mean to say and what I keep repeating is simply that the God of christianity is an interventionist God while the God of classical theism, the God that is being talked about in the article you linked to to rebut The Thinker, is NOT an interventionist God.

            I’ve had many discussions about the former, deist conception of God, with my wife. We have run into difficulties: if God pre-programs the universe to e.g. respond to human inquiries for divine revelation with what he would say, then is God still a deist God?

            In that case, God wouldn´t be an interventionist God because he never does intervene, all that he wants to happen happens spontaneously as the result of his design and everything would unfold as God has planned it without God ever being required to do anything. And again, that is not the God of the Bible / not the God of christianity.

            So you’ve given me some conception of ‘perfection’, but not ‘perfectly good’.

            In classical theism, “goodness” is defined in a teleological way, how “good” things are is a function of how well they proceed to their goal as defined by their final cause. And since God is the end of all things, God must be goodness itself (i.e. God is not “good” by any measure external to him, “goodness” is also not an attribute / a property of him, he rather literally is “goodness”).

            Do you really want to bring in the concept of being into this discussion?

            You introduced it by linking to the article about Humean miracles, which assumes a classical theist understanding of God, and in this understanding, God is “being”, classical theism argues that there must be something whose essence is “being”, and that something is God.

            This seems to assume that God only cares about God.

            The God of classical theism doesn´t “care” at all, to “care” implies that there is a state of affairs that he would like to change (if it doesn´t match his desires) or preserve (if it does match his desires) – but the God of classical theism is metaphysically ultimate, he is impassible, does not “desire”, he is immutable, eternally unchanging.
            He does not “care”.

            Given the above disclaimer, your argument seems to turn on a very selfish conception of “what is good”.

            The God of classical theism cannot be “selfish”, because to be “selfish” implies that he cares about something (himself), but the God of classical theism does not “care”, see above.

            You seem to be saying that since God could do nothing to enhance himself, that he oughtn’t have created anything. Indeed, creating merely creates obligation, and wouldn’t it be better for Jesus to not have to have died?

            There can be no “ought” for the God of classical theism, an “ought” implies that things could be better then they actually are, but the God of classical theism is eternally unchanging and metaphysically perfect – speaking of his “oughts” is nonsensical.

            My understanding of YHWH, based on verses like Ps 50:12, is that he does things for his creation; his creation does not do things for him. YHWH is fundamentally concerned with the well-being of not himself, but others! He is fundamentally others-centered.

            And now you know why philosophers like Edward Feser so happily quote other philosophers but are so reluctant to quote the Bible – because it immediatly becomes obvious that the God of classical theism and the God of the Bible are completely different concepts.

            Sure—have I said anything which tries to pull the discussion toward my conception?

            No, but you asked me about my conceptions of perfection and goodness, but I´m not talking about mine, I´m talking about the ones of classical theism.

          • Luke Breuer

            In that case, God wouldn´t be an interventionist God because he never does intervene, all that he wants to happen happens spontaneously as the result of his design and everything would unfold as God has planned it without God ever being required to do anything. And again, that is not the God of the Bible / not the God of christianity.

            How do you know it is not the God of Christianity? I am with Yoram Hazony and James Barr in saying that we must understand the Bible as an evolution in people’s understanding of God, just like science is an evolution in people’s understanding of material and efficient causation. There has been a long-standing theological doctrine of condescension/accommodation, whereby God speaks in terms we can understand, which subjects him to the limitations of what we currently know. This has strong consequences for God revealing himself to people who understand more as history progresses: those revelations will look different.

            And so, the question becomes: is the model of God I have presented, whereby the distinction between ‘deist’ and ‘interventionist’ is collapsed, to the Bible as GR is to F = ma? Or are they truly irreconcilable? This is not a simple question; quite a lot changed between F = ma and GR. The later math did indeed subsume the earlier math, but the non-mathematical understanding of how the math connects to reality changed drastically. F = ma depends on action at a distance; GR does not. Michael Friedman called said “how the math connects to reality” concepts something like “correlative principle” or “constitutive principle” in his Dynamics of Reason. It is these things which change drastically, even though the math—the pattern—has a continuous characteristic through paradigm shift. Bringing this back to God, I ask you whether I am offering you a non-subsuming model when I collapse ‘deist’ and ‘interventionist’ into each other, or whether it is merely a change in “correlative principle”.

            The God of classical theism doesn´t “care” at all, to “care” implies that there is a state of affairs that he would like to change (if it doesn´t match his desires) or preserve (if it does match his desires) – but the God of classical theism is metaphysically ultimate, he is impassible, does not “desire”, he is immutable, eternally unchanging.

            He does not “care”.

            Interesting; do you think that Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles falls apart if we alter the conception of God within such that he actually does “care”? This is fascinating enough for me to contact the author and start a conversation, if we can only make a bit more progress so that I can make it really worth his time.

            And now you know why philosophers like Edward Fesers so happily quote other philosophers but are so reluctant to quote the Bible – because it immediatly becomes obvious that the God of classical theism and the God of the Bible are completely different concepts.

            And yet, are they “completely different”? Here’s your binary thinking showing up. Maybe they are “completely different” if you think in terms of “correlative principle”, but not if you think of the actual mathematical pattern? I do wonder at times whether the God of the philosophers can be a useful model, noting that it does indeed have limits—like every model!

            No, but you asked me about my conceptions of perfection and goodness, but I´m not talking about mine, I´m talking about the ones of classical theism.

            You may translate my requests into asking you whether you think the God of classical theism survives the criticisms I have offered. That is, can you temporarily make the concepts “your own”, such that you can well-defend them?

          • Andy_Schueler

            How do you know it is not the God of Christianity? I am with Yoram Hazony and James Barr in saying that we must understand the Bible as an evolution in people’s understanding of God

            That there exists something at all beyond God makes no sense assuming classical theism, that this God allegedly does things like becoming human and resurrecting himself makes it even worse – attempting to reconcile the God of classical theism with the God of christianity is like squaring the circle.

            And so, the question becomes: is the model of God I have presented, whereby the distinction between ‘deist’ and ‘interventionist’ is collapsed…

            Unless you say that no miracle described in the Bible actually happened, you are not accomplishing this – you would have to say that God never became human, and thus never died on the cross and was never resurrected, all of this would be just metaphors that humans used to try to understand God. If you don´t, then your God is an interventionist God. And even if you do, you are still left with the problem as to why God does anything (including creating) at all (which is only a problem if you agree with classical theism of course).

            Interesting; do you think that Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles falls apart if we alter the conception of God within such that he actually does “care”?

            I´d go much further then that and say that classical theism as a whole implodes if God “cares” for the reasons I mentioned above. To be sure that we are on the same page, I understand “to care” as meaning that you either strive to preserve a certain state of affairs (if it matches your desires) or strive to change it (if it doesn´t match your desires). But the God of classical theism is immutable and impassible, there is nothing for him to “desire” – the very idea of him “desiring” anything is self-refuting.
            One could also phrase it differently, if an all-kowing and eternally unchanging being would “desire” something, that would mean that there could be a better (=more “good”) state of being then the one with just God existing but nothing else (creating things is the only way to change the status quo since God itself cannot change) – but if that is the case, then God cannot be goodness itself, but God is just that according to classical theism.
            And so, the system of ideas collapses under its own weight if you add the assumptions that God cares and / or creates – at least afaict.

            And yet, are they “completely different”? Here’s your binary thinking showing up. Maybe they are “completely different” if you think in terms of “correlative principle”, but not if you think of the actual mathematical pattern? I do wonder at times whether the God of the philosophers can be a useful model, noting that it does indeed have limits—like every model!

            *sigh*, if I´d say that Jesus and Satan are completely different, then that would be strictly false, both for example share the attribute “mentioned as characters in the narratives of the christian Bible”, so they strictly cannot be completely different. Yet, saying that they are “completely different” is absolutely intelligible for you, based on your background knowledge, you know that I could not mean it in such a hyper-literal sense.
            If you want to be so anal about language being precise, then I could in turn spend hours dissecting your comments to nail down every inconsistency and imprecision, no matter how minor and trivial, but that would be a colossal waste of time. (remember that you accused me of being anal about precise language? You are right, I am anal about that, but you easily surpass my attitude about precision with what you say here).

            You may translate my requests into asking you whether you think the God of classical theism survives the criticisms I have offered. That is, can you temporarily make the concepts “your own”, such that you can well-defend them?

            Personally, I think that thomism (as the most philosophically refined version of classical theism) is almost beautifully logical. Srsly, I haven´t read that much about it, but what little I´ve read is amazing in it´s precision and consistency (that doesn´t mean that I agree with the premises it is based on, i.e. – I am only talking about logical validity, not soundness). Which means that defending them would be not very difficult, if you agree with the premises required to get it off the ground, I doubt that you can poke any holes into its internal logic – not with ab initio reasoning at least. Empirically though, there is this problem of why God created / did anything at all, assuming that classical theism is true – that is a charge for which I couldn´t come up with a good defense.

          • Luke Breuer

            This is probably a good stopping point until I next talk to Kenny Pearce (author of Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles) about classical theism vs. biblical theism. I had been vaguely aware of the difference for a while, especially re: impassibility, but that awareness was heightened by Randal Rauser’s Oliver Crisp on the God of the Philosophers and the God of the Bible, and then by Nicholas Wolterstorff’s discussion of God and time in God & Time: Four Views. Wolterstorff is convinced that the Bible does not speak of even YHWH as ‘timeless’—or rather, than one verse can be used to support ‘timeless’ and many others have to be twisted and contorted in order to play along.

            It’s interesting that you find Thomism beautiful; I know bits and pieces plus what Feser says in the first 70% of The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (I haven’t finished it yet), and I’m not sure I find it all that beautiful. That is, if Thomism allegedly captures the nature of YHWH too well, that means he is wrong: God is unfathomable, which I take to mean not-finitely-describable. I hold that the best we can do is come up with better and better approximations, just like science. If folks think that Thomas Aquinas has done anything other than produce an F = ma which will be subsumed by a GR, then I deeply suspect that they are wrong, and even worse, that they are worshiping an idol or another god. Now, this does not come directly from beauty alone; beauty is an excellent guide to truth when well-tuned. One has to stop looking where beauty points for said item of beauty to become an idol.

            Actually, there’s one avenue we can possibly take: ask whether we do things any less miraculous than YHWH’s “interventions” when we act in reality—instead of merely react. You seem to have been assuming that we are ‘natural’ while YHWH is ‘supernatural’, and yet that possibly excludes imago dei entirely! If imago dei is true, then there is some similarity between humans and YHWH that you don’t seem to be capturing or admitting. Care to comment?

          • Andy_Schueler

            It’s interesting that you find Thomism beautiful; I know bits and pieces plus what Feser says in the first 70% of The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (I haven’t finished it yet), and I’m not sure I find it all that beautiful.

            That something is beautiful does not mean that it is true. There is a very beautiful explanation for why some species are eusocial, “beautiful” because it is so simple, elegant and intuitive yet still of amazing explanatory power, but this explanation is false (not completely false but rather very incomplete) and the actual explanation is more complex and messy and not elegant at all.

            That is, if Thomism allegedly captures the nature of YHWH too well, that means he is wrong: God is unfathomable, which I take to mean not-finitely-describable.

            Divine simplicity, meaning:
            “In Christian theism (to be accurate “Classical theism”), God is simple, not composite, not made up of thing upon thing. Thomas Morris notes that divine simplicity can mean any or all of three different claims:
            (1) God has no spatial parts (spatial simplicity).
            (2) God has no temporal parts (temporal simplicity).
            (3) God is without the sort of metaphysical complexity where God would have different parts which are distinct from himself (property simplicity).

            In other words, property simplicity (or metaphysical simplicity) states that the characteristics of God are not parts of God that together make up God. Because God is simple, God is those characteristics; for example, God does nothave goodness, but simply is goodness. Spatial simplicity is endorsed by the vast majority of traditional Christian theists (who do not consider God to be a physical object). Temporal simplicity is endorsed by many theists but is highly controversial among Christian theologians. Property simplicity, which Morris describes as the property of having no properties, is more controversial still.[4]” ( source )

            – is part of the classical theistic understanding of what “God” means. So in this case, you do not seem to merely disagree (as you do with impassibility), you propose the opposite of this, your God is as complex as something can be while the classical theist God is as simple as something can be.

            Actually, there’s one avenue we can possibly take: ask whether we do things any less miraculous than YHWH’s “interventions” when we act in reality—instead of merely react. You seem to have been assuming that we are ‘natural’ while YHWH is ‘supernatural’, and yet that possibly excludes imago dei entirely! If imago dei is true, then there is some similarity between humans and YHWH that you don’t seem to be capturing or admitting. Care to comment?

            A God that created nature must be supernatural by definition – because if this God can exist outside of nature (which he must be able to if he created it) then he must be a being that transcends nature (and that is all that “supernatural” means).
            If there is similarity in that we can potentially do all that God can do, i.e. – Gods powers are not only pragmatically but rather actually indistinguishable from those of an alien with ultimate technological knowledge, then natural / supernatural would eventually become a distinction without a difference as scientific knowledge progresses further and further. But in that case, I´d still agree with The Thinker on the point on which the two of you disagreed – the only thing that would have to be changed is that “supernatural explanations” would actually be “explanations that rely on the intervention of God or beings with god-like powers due to technological progress”.

          • Luke Breuer

            That something is beautiful does not mean that it is true.

            Oh, I know. And yet, there is In Search of Beauty. Furthermore, if we admit that our judgment of truth is an evaluative function of our brain just like our judgment of beauty, things could get interesting. I’m still waiting on serious engagement of my Phil.SE question, “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses? I think it’s somewhat unusual for a question to be voted so high with zero answers.

            Incidentally, it would make sense for Lucifer’s gravest sin to be “trusting in his own beauty”, if that meant becoming turned inward on himself, becoming narcissistic. True beauty, I would claim (and this might be original with me), points beyond itself. Points to what? Even more glorious beauty, ad infinitum.

            Divine simplicity, meaning:

            I’m not sure any of that actually contradicts what I said. If God could be described as an infinitely complex manifold, would that be “divine simplicity”? Would an infinitely complex manifold have spatial parts? Temporal parts? Maybe not. But I will admit, I haven’t explored divine simplicity very much. I think I’d prefer to read someone’s take on it who is a theologian, philosopher, and computer scientist.

            If there is similarity in that we can potentially do all that God can do, i.e. – Gods powers are not only pragmatically but rather actually indistinguishable from those of an alien with ultimate technological knowledge, then natural / supernatural would eventually become a distinction without a difference as scientific knowledge progresses further and further. But in that case, I´d still agree with The Thinker on the point on which the two of you disagreed – the only thing that would have to be changed is that “supernatural explanations” would actually be “explanations that rely on the intervention of God or beings with god-like powers due to technological progress”.

            You’re going to flesh that out, because we certain can think about e.g. Star Trek TNG episode Devil’s Due. What’s the difference between “god-like powers” and “significantly past our powers-like powers”? It strikes me that the question is really, “Did an agent have anything to do with it or not?” And maybe assuming no agent works in some domains for things an agent did, and not other domains. We’re only working with pictures of the thing, here—not the thing-in-itself. Unless you disagree?

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’m still waiting on serious engagement of my Phil.SE question, “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses?

            I tried to engage it but you perceived my questions for clarification as an interrogation and didn´t answer them. I still wonder what exactly you mean by “internal senses”, feeling pain for example is not a “sense” in the strict physiological sense but it is a very similar concept and it is what I thought you mean by “internal sense” – yet this is a sense that we all routinely trust (and one that is much less fallible then external senses, your pain perception is not as easily fooled as your visual perception for example). So I don´t understand why you say that there is such a restriction, it doesn´t appear to me as if there is one.

            If God could be described as an infinitely complex manifold, would that be “divine simplicity”?

            Nope, the God of classical theism is not spatial in any sense – he doesn´t have a complex or even infinitely complex shape, he doesn´t have a shape at all.

            Would an infinitely complex manifold have spatial parts?

            It has a spatial extent and has thus infinitely many parts, even a simple geometric line is composed out of an inifinite number of points – and the God of classical theism is not composed out of anything, he has no spatial extent and no parts.

            You’re going to flesh that out, because we certain can think about e.g. Star Trek TNG episode Devil’s Due. What’s the difference between “god-like powers” and “significantly past our powers-like powers”?

            Pragmatically not, any sufficiently advanced technology is pragmatically indistinguishable from magic.

            It strikes me that the question is really, “Did an agent have anything to do with it or not?”

            Absolutely, if Noah´s flood had happened as described in the Bible, it would have been a “Humean miracle” for all intents and purposes, completely independent of whether it was caused by Gods or super-powerful aliens (because the two are pragmatically indistinguishable).

          • Luke Breuer

            I tried to engage it but you perceived my questions for clarification as an interrogation and didn´t answer them.

            Yeah, sometimes your tack in discussing with people is, “Your idea is wrong until I am convinced otherwise!”, and it’s quite grating. Maybe I have more emotional energy to spare now, or perhaps you’ll do that thing less. You realize that people don’t like it when their ideas are treated analogously to “guilty until proven innocent”, right? (FYI, I am under no delusion that I never do this; given that most of my life I have been treated in precisely the way I describe, I do not doubt that I mirror it to others, despite my attempts to the contrary.)

            I still wonder what exactly you mean by “internal senses”, feeling pain for example is not a “sense” in the strict physiological sense

            If we add nociception to what I had called “external senses”, I’m not sure it would change my argument one iota in any meaningful way. Do you disagree?

            Nope, the God of classical theism is not spatial in any sense – he doesn´t have a complex or even infinitely complex shape, he doesn´t have a shape at all.

            A manifold need not have spatial extent. For example, the singularity of the Big Bang may have had no spatial extent, and yet still have been a manifold with geometry. Something can have geometry and yet not have any spatial properties. I’m not sure Thomas Aquinas knew this.

            Pragmatically not, any sufficiently advanced technology is pragmatically indistinguishable from magic.

            I agree, and I think this must be entered into any discussion of divine intervention. We probably ought include Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument, as well. I think talking about these things changes the landscape of the discussion and makes it more likely to go somewhere interesting. It is too easy for the omni-wand to start waving and irrationality to cake everything.

            Absolutely, if Noah´s flood had happened as described in the Bible, it would have been a “Humean miracle” for all intents and purposes, completely independent of whether it was caused by Gods or super-powerful aliens (because the two are pragmatically indistinguishable).

            So all a “Humean miracle” is to you, then, is something an agent did? This wasn’t at all clear to me; it seems very ‘distant’ from the idea of a “Humean miracle”, unless perhaps one tries to say that we have LFW, which I suppose would take a miracle given everyone’s inability to logically construct it.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Yeah, sometimes your tack in discussing with people is, “Your idea is wrong until I am convinced otherwise!”

            Erm, it never occured to me that there is anything wrong with considering new ideas to be false until they are proven right – doing it the other way around seems to be quite absurd, given the sheer number of mutually contradictory ideas around.

            If we add nociception to what I had called “external senses”, I’m not sure it would change my argument one iota in any meaningful way. Do you disagree?

            And in what sense is feeling pain “external”? If you feel pain due to a mechanical stimulus for example, then two perceptions are active – perception of touch and pain, physiologically the former is perception of something external to the body while the latter is perception of something internal to the body (because mechanical touch is applied from the outside while a pain stimulus is generated within).
            That´s why I have no idea what you mean by “internal senses” if perception of pain or temperature etc. are not it. Could you give a list of what you consider to be “internal senses”?

            For example, the singularity of the Big Bang may have had no spatial extent, and yet still have been a manifold with geometry.

            That does sound like a contradiction in terms, do you have a source for that claim? (btw, a singularity does not necesserily imply no spatial extent, it could be the case that space can be atomized into smallest units of spatial volume and that a singularity fills one such unit – that a singularity can be described with a spatial shape despite having no spatial extent would be news to me (and, again, does sound like a contradiction in terms))

            So all a “Humean miracle” is to you, then, is something an agent did? This wasn’t at all clear to me; it seems very ‘distant’ from the idea of a “Humean miracle”

            A humean miracle is a law-breaking event with “theological significance” (i.e. intelligible within a religious framework) – and the resurrection of Jesus would be just that, it breaks pretty much all laws that we know which govern what human bodies can and cannot do and it has theological significance. What else could a Humean miracle possibly be? Could you list three miraculous events that you would consider to be Humean miracles (if you don´t believe that any Humean miracle ever happened, then just make them up).

          • Luke Breuer

            Erm, it never occured to me that there is anything wrong with considering new ideas to be false until they are proven right – doing it the other way around seems to be quite absurd, given the sheer number of mutually contradictory ideas around.

            There’s the binary thinking. Instead, you could think of a new idea that someone presented you as possibly true. Furthermore, you can look at what the minimal set of changes is—if any—that you would have to make, given your understanding (including your unarticulated background), for it to make sense to you. This is a way to massively speed up communication in certain cases, because you can quickly breeze past uninteresting little wrong bits. It also shows the other person that you’re trying to make sense of his/her idea and willing to even contribute some of yourself to its growth and coherent-izing.

            And in what sense is feeling pain “external”?

            Replace the word ‘external’ with something else that means: { taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing, nociception }. I got the phrase “external senses” from the common Evidentialist statement that goes along the lines of “I trust my senses”.

            Could you give a list of what you consider to be “internal senses”?

            Well, if the somatic marker hypothesis is true, then emotions can be internal senses. But actually, there are really several categories:

                 (1) external senses or the modified version
                 (2) emotions
                 (3) evaluative judgment faculties

            I don’t know if there are others. I am aware that there is a feeling of certainty, based on a brief skim of On Being Certain. What I don’t know is how to categories faculties such as:

                 (a) beauty
                 (b) logical correctness
                 (c) how well it matches reality

            I’m not at all sure that my lists here are exhaustive. Part of the point of my Phil.SE question is to get at what Evidentialism really is, and whether it makes a shred of senses when analyzed. For example, it’s not clear whether (2) and (3) are so separate; see the following from Descartes’ Error:

            When emotion is entirely left out of the reasoning picture, as happens in certain neurological conditions, reason turns out to be even more flawed than when emotion plays bad tricks on our decisions. (xii)

            And so, the standard Evidentialist account seems possibly very flawed. But perhaps that’s just the account that internet atheists and skeptics provide, and not the ones that scholars have developed.

            That does sound like a contradiction in terms, do you have a source for that claim? (btw, a singularity does not necesserily imply no spatial extent, it could be the case that space can be atomized into smallest units of spatial volume and that a singularity fills one such unit – that a singularity can be described with a spatial shape despite having no spatial extent would be news to me (and, again, does sound like a contradiction in terms))

            The source is a discussion with a research scientist who almost got his PhD in string theory, as well as designed several supercomputing clusters at Caltech, a Caltech professor, a recent PhD graduate, and myself. The discussion was about whether a ‘point’ (referring to the BB singularity) can have structure even though it has no spatial extent; the consensus was ‘yes’. As to your parenthetical statement, I’ve never heard of a singularity having spatial volume; what’s your source for that? I’ve looked a little into space being discrete and the general consensus seems to be that it is not.

            A humean miracle is a law-breaking event with “theological significance”

            The significance seems rather irrelevant for this discussion. So the most pressing question seems to be: must God break laws, in order to choose and act, while we humans do not need to break any laws, when we choose and act? Note that my SELO doesn’t break any laws, it merely has new laws appearing spontaneously. Unless you want to say that spontaneous eruption of local order is itself law-breaking?

            Could you list three miraculous events that you would consider to be Humean miracles (if you don´t believe that any Humean miracle ever happened, then just make them up).

            My understanding of a Humean miracle is that it is a jump discontinuity in the rationality of reality. Instead of all changes in reality being modeled as continuous deformations such that one can understand how the change happened in the finest of detail, a Humean miracle would seem to present permanent obstacles to understanding how the change happened. And so, a Humean miracle is a god-of-the-gaps event.

            So what would be examples of Humean miracles? Well, I’m not sure I can describe them in any way other than as being irrational. I know so little about what could possibly happen in reality that I’m not sure I can describe any events as impossible.

          • Andy_Schueler

            There’s the binary thinking. Instead, you could think of a new idea that someone presented you as possibly true.

            Your constant charge of “binary thinking” seems to mean little beyond “you don´t unquestioningly accept everything I say as gospel truth”. The sentence “innocent until proven guilty” does not mean that someone MUST be innocent and cannot possibly be POSSIBLY guilty. If I would not consider your ideas to be possible true, I would not try to criticize them, I would rather dismiss them out of hand. That I consider them to be possible true is completely obvious from this context (me criticizing instead of dismissing out of hand). So I´m afraid it is actually who engages in binary thinking, to be precise, your reasoning is “Andy does not immediatly and unquestionably agree with me, ergo, Andy does not even consider the possibility of my ideas being true”. That is binary thinking.

            Furthermore, you can look at what the minimal set of changes is—if any—that you would have to make, given your understanding (including your unarticulated background), for it to make sense to you.

            You realize that you accuse me of not doing that while responding to my questions in which I ask for clarification about one of your ideas to understand what you mean, immediatly after you accuse me of not doing that?

            Well, if the somatic marker hypothesis is true

            And so, the standard Evidentialist account seems possibly very flawed. But perhaps that’s just the account that internet atheists and skeptics provide, and not the ones that scholars have developed.

            You must have forgotten it but I referred you to Damasio´s work a while ago. You criticized me for not striving to be an impassionate vulcan (for lack of a better description) as you seem to strive for, and I referred you to Damasio´s work as a response to point out that reasoning cannot be seperated from emotions, in principle and that the “I strive to be 100% rational and dispassionate” stance has little to do with how human minds work.
            When it comes to moral judgments for example, you cannot possibly be completely dispassionate when you make such a judgment, because that would also entail that you do not desire to do “good” and avoid “bad”. And that has nothing to do with moral realism being true or false, even if moral propositions can be objectively true or false (which most moral frameworks affirm), they still would be meaningless to someone who doesn´t desire to do promote the “good” and avoid the “bad”. To phrase it differently, if you give a computer program premises of a moral framework, it could be able to tell you the correct moral conclusion for a given situation, but it wouldn´t care about this conclusion – acting according to it, or against, or doing nothing at all, would all be irrelevant for it because it has no desires either way. A “moral judgment” however entails the desire to act according to it.
            Regarding evidentialism, what evidentialism refers to is an idealization that human reasoning faculties can never fully reach in practice, we cannot lose our cognitive biases completely, no matter how much we are aware of them and try to bypass them.

            The discussion was about whether a ‘point’ (referring to the BB singularity) can have structure even though it has no spatial extent; the consensus was ‘yes’.

            So how did you resolve the obvious contradiction of describing something that has no spatial extent with something that does have spatial extent?

            I’ve looked a little into space being discrete and the general consensus seems to be that it is not.

            I´ve read an article about this possibility two years ago in scientific american, no idea how many scientists would agree with this idea being promising, I´ve never checked up on this after reading it.

            Note that my SELO doesn’t break any laws, it merely has new laws appearing spontaneously. Unless you want to say that spontaneous eruption of local order is itself law-breaking?

            As I told you many times, I have never understood what distinguishes your SELO from indeterminism in general – I lean towards indeterminism and I do not know if we disagree about anything in this respect, what you told me about SELO all seems to fit perfectly within how I understand indeterminism.

            So what would be examples of Humean miracles? Well, I’m not sure I can describe them in any way other than as being irrational. I know so little about what could possibly happen in reality that I’m not sure I can describe any events as impossible.

            In that case, introducing the concept given your definition makes no sense for us, because it is inconceivable even to yourself what it would actually look like in reality.
            What we mean by it is an event that violates what we know to be possible and that has theological significance – of course that could be super-powerful aliens instead of Gods, but that is pragmatically a distinction without a difference. And it is this kind of “Humean miracles” that a) do occur if christianity is true and that b) christians (and other theists) are more prone to accept as an explanation, as The Thinker has pointed out.

          • Luke Breuer

            I am going to be responding a lot less, if at all, until next Monday or Tuesday. For some of what you say above, you might realize that your comment history being private makes it tedious to review what you’ve said before. But perhaps I’ll get off my butt and make something that scrapes Disqus conversations, lets you search them, even tag sections of text, etc. If I do that, I’d be happy to give you access. I do tire of forgetting things that could be quickly searched.

          • Luke Breuer

            Your constant charge of “binary thinking” seems to mean little beyond “you don´t unquestioningly accept everything I say as gospel truth”.

            Nope. That you’d ever think I would communicate such a thing is evidence that we should stop talking to each other, for it indicates massive failure of your understanding of me. There is nothing which I think you ought to “unquestioningly accept”.

            You realize that you accuse me of not doing that while responding to my questions in which I ask for clarification about one of your ideas to understand what you mean, immediatly after you accuse me of not doing that?

            (It’s immediately, FYI—you’ve made this mistake multiple times now.) There are two ways to ask clarifying questions:

                 (1) You’re probably wrong, but <clarifying question>?
                 (2) You might be right, but <clarifying question>?

            All too often, you do (1). It produces the sense of being interrogated, and is distinctly unpleasant. It requires more emotional resources to deal with someone operating under a (1)-paradigm than with someone operating under a (2)-paradigm. The first clause of each, by the way, is merely an example; often those exist “between the lines”, as it were.

            You criticized me for not striving to be an impassionate vulcan (for lack of a better description) as you seem to strive for, and I referred you to Damasio´s work as a response to point out that reasoning cannot be seperated from emotions, in principle and that the “I strive to be 100% rational and dispassionate” stance has little to do with how human minds work.

            I have no recollection of what you’re talking about, and your comment history is private. What you can do to quickly search it is open up your own comment history, click inside it, then hold down the “end” key; it will continually load more and more comment history. This makes it easy to search within the last few 100s of comments.

            When it comes to moral judgments for example, you cannot possibly be completely dispassionate when you make such a judgment,

            Ok, but I’m not sure how this connects. Perhaps you’re injecting the interchange you remember as you described above, into this one?

            Regarding evidentialism, what evidentialism refers to is an idealization that human reasoning faculties can never fully reach in practice, we cannot lose our cognitive biases completely, no matter how much we are aware of them and try to bypass them.

            This doesn’t seem to address my complaint at all. I’m asking whether evidentialism even makes sense. I do understand the importance of working toward perfection of various sorts, but I don’t see how evidentialism helps, here. “Sometimes we’re wrong about how observable-by-sense-perception-nature works and it can adjudicate in those situations.” What more than that is required?

            So how did you resolve the obvious contradiction of describing something that has no spatial extent with something that does have spatial extent?

            One can talk about manifolds with no metric.

            As I told you many times, I have never understood what distinguishes your SELO from indeterminism in general

            To my knowledge, “indeterminism in general” is not able of spontaneously increasing the amount of order in the universe. (I’m not talking about random downward fluctuations in entropy.) SELO is more than just crystal formation. Ultimately, it leads to unique individuals who are more than just curated entropy. These individuals are unique in a way that each one who is lost means that we permanently lose someone who could help us understand reality better. Perhaps this is me leaning toward a growing block universe while you hold to something more like a [static] block universe?

          • Andy_Schueler

            There are two ways to ask clarifying questions:

            (1) You’re probably wrong, but ?
            (2) You might be right, but ?

            And I don´t do either, if I ask a question for clarification, this means that I am unsure what you mean – how am I supposed to assess whether you are likely to be wrong or right about something without knowing what you mean?

            This doesn’t seem to address my complaint at all. I’m asking whether evidentialism even makes sense. I do understand the importance of working toward perfection of various sorts, but I don’t see how evidentialism helps, here. “Sometimes we’re wrong about how observable-by-sense-perception-nature works and it can adjudicate in those situations.” What more than that is required?

            So you are unsure whether evidentialism does make sense, cool – so what it is that you do not understand about it?

            One can talk about manifolds with no metric.

            I can also talk about square circles. My question is how it is not a self-refuting concept to say that something that extends in space, which every geometric object except for a point by definition does, does not extend in space?

            To my knowledge, “indeterminism in general” is not able of spontaneously increasing the amount of order in the universe. (I’m not talking about random downward fluctuations in entropy.) SELO is more than just crystal formation. Ultimately, it leads to unique individuals who are more than just curated entropy. These individuals are unique in a way that each one who is lost means that we permanently lose someone who could help us understand reality better.

            You are only saying what it is not, not what it is – you´d have to say something about the latter to make your idea intelligible. And further you´d have to provide definitions for terms that you use in an idiosyncratic fashion, like “order”.

          • Luke Breuer

            And I don´t do either, if I ask a question for clarification, this means that I am unsure what you mean – how am I supposed to assess whether you are likely to be wrong or right about something without knowing what you mean?

            Oh, easily: you just ask a question with the clear implication, “You’re almost certainly wrong, but perhaps you can answer this question, in which case maybe you’re right—but I’ll have other follow-up questions, because you’re probably still wrong.” It’s very tedious to discuss with such a person. It is much more pleasant to discuss with a person who is trying to make arguments succeed, with me. If you don’t know the difference between clarifying questions which are asked in a way that you want the other person’s argument to succeed, and clarifying questions which are asked with a background of thinking that the other person is wrong, I’m not sure what else I can say.

            So you are unsure whether evidentialism does make sense, cool – so what it is that you do not understand about it?

            I give up. If you still have no idea what my complaint is, I’ll find someone else to talk to about this issue.

            I can also talk about square circles. My question is how it is not a self-refuting concept to say that something that extends in space, which every geometric object except for a point by definition does, does not extend in space?

            Your claim that a manifold extends in space is simply not always true. You are not thinking abstractly enough.

            You are only saying what it is not, not what it is – you´d have to say something about the latter to make your idea intelligible. And further you´d have to provide definitions for terms that you use in an idiosyncratic fashion, like “order”.

            I will keep that in mind as I look for further discussions which would provide additional meaning for my term SELO.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I give up. If you still have no idea what my complaint is, I’ll find someone else to talk to about this issue

            Have you ever found anyone who does understand what your problems with evidentialism are and was able to rephrase them with his / her own words?

            Your claim that a manifold extends in space is simply not always true. You are not thinking abstractly enough.

            Do you have anything except for hot air to support that claim?

          • Luke Breuer

            (1) Have you ever found anyone who does understand what your problems with evidentialism are and (2) was able to rephrase them with his / her own words?

            The Phil.SE question, “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses? appears to be a “Yes” to both (1) and (2), although I could see some quibbling over (2). What generally happens is that people simply ignore my bringing up of that Phil.SE question, and terminate lines of their thought which depend on evidentialism. Now, I cannot declare “victory” when this happens (contra your claim some time ago that I declare victory when my claims go unanswered—you never supported this accusation with evidence), but I can say that when I haven’t posted a link to that Phil.SE question in years past, the arguments depending on evidentialism have marched forward. So, this is a weak kind of evidence that some understanding is indeed going on.

            Perhaps I’ll make another attempt on this with you. When someone says, “I trust X“, whether X is “external senses”, “external senses” + “nociception”, that person is implicitly trusting his/her method of trusting. The Neurathian bootstrap is lurking. And then, we find that something inside the person’s thoughts is being trusted, and not just external sense-data that is ostensibly objectively available to any and all interested persons. But what justifies this initial trust of the trust-generating evaluative brain mechanism? This seems to lie in a deeply subjective realm, and yet evidentialism is supposed to avoid subjectivity, isn’t it? Of course, Michael Polanyi argues in Personal Knowledge that the practice of science is deeply subjective, involving the scientist’s passions; this is very different to how the practice of science is often portrayed.

            So the question becomes, “What does evidentialism even state that is verifiably true?” I would add: what does it state over and above The Unreliability of Naive Introspection? How can one use a subjective judgment mechanism to claim that e.g. { sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, nociception } are more inherently trustworthy than emotions, our sense of beauty, or… our subjective mechanism for trusting? Any interesting version of evidentialism appears to self-destruct.

            Do you have anything except for hot air to support that claim?

            Nope, it’s my hot air vs. your hot air.

          • Andy_Schueler

            But what justifies this initial trust of the trust-generating evaluative brain mechanism?

            It´s not as if you had a choice in this – your infant brain soaked information up like a sponge soaks up water and how well any of this information is justified or any other critical question is something that never occured until much, MUCH later.

            This seems to lie in a deeply subjective realm, and yet evidentialism is supposed to avoid subjectivity, isn’t it? Of course, Michael Polanyi argues in Personal Knowledge that the practice of science is deeply subjective, involving the scientist’s passions; this is very different to how the practice of science is often portrayed.

            A scientist cannot be 100% objective because a scientist is human, who has ever said anything to the contrary? What is your point here? That because scientists cannot be 100% objective, objectivity is therefore a pointless ideal because it can never be reached anyway? If that is not your point, WHAT is it?

            How can one use a subjective judgment mechanism to claim that e.g. { sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, nociception } are more inherently trustworthy than emotions, our sense of beauty

            Again, who says that? Has anyone ever told you that when you feel sad, you shouldn´t trust your emotions because they are not trustworthy and you could just as well be happy and simply perceiving it the wrong way?

            Nope, it’s my hot air vs. your hot air.

            No, because I gave you an argument – that saying that something that does has spatial extent (as every geometric object except for a point has) has no spatial extent is a contradiction in terms. So it is my argument vs your hot air.

          • Luke Breuer

            It´s not as if you had a choice in this

            Irrelevant; evidentialism is meant to correct the errors picked up during mental maturity. It does not get any [non-logical] “givens” that are beyond scrutiny, unless it wishes to admit that it does precisely this. And yet, the whole claim is that evidentialism is the only rational route to proceed.

            A scientist cannot be 100% objective because a scientist is human, who has ever said anything to the contrary? What is your point here?

            My point is that evidentialism advances two assumptions:

                 (1) external senses are noisy measures of objectivity
                 (2) internal senses/judgments are 100% subjective

            It is generally taken that (2) means that one cannot approach objectivity, that (1) is some linear combination of objectivity and subjectivity, with at least some objectivity, such that if one performs the right function on enough (1)-observations, one will get closer and closer to objective fact. It is stated that one cannot do this with (2)-observations. My first two blog posts address this issue: Intersubjectivity is Key, and Si enim fallor, sum.

            Again, who says that? Has anyone ever told you that when you feel sad, you shouldn´t trust your emotions because they are not trustworthy and you could just as well be happy and simply perceiving it the wrong way?

            Here’s an example. While Mike D waffles (con/pro, pro) on whether he supports evidentialism, TheAtheistMissionary holds to it.

            The clear meaning of “trustworthy”, in that context, is “is a measure, perhaps very noisy, of objective reality”. A very large difference is asserted between “objective reality” and “subjective reality”.

            I have been told all the time, in various ways, that my emotions don’t matter [to anyone else] and aren’t to be trusted [for any public action]. If I feel insulted, it is of no matter, and any public action I take based on it is wrong. This happens all of the time in discussions online, although I tend to do my best impression of a robot to shield myself from such accusations, as they get tiring. Then I get accused of being a robot—it’s pretty hilarious for people to argue that both ways of interacting are wrong.

            No, because I gave you an argument – that saying that something that does has spatial extent (as every geometric object except for a point has)

            Bald assertions are not arguments. See the metrization theorem. The Prüfer manifold has no metric, and thus no spatial extent. Or you could look at MathOverflow’s Examples of non-metrizable spaces. Or you could reject the idea of a manifold erupting, magically, from a point. Otherwise, you hide irrationality away and pretend it doesn’t exist. I reject such descriptions of reality, in favor of rational ones that can be ever-further penetrated.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Irrelevant; evidentialism is meant to correct the errors picked up during mental maturity.

            ??? How did you get that idea? Evidentialism is not a method, it is an epistemological position. As such, it has implications for methods to aquire and test knowledge (like science), but evidentialism itself is no method.

            It does not get any [non-logical] “givens” that are beyond scrutiny, unless it wishes to admit that it does precisely this.

            And what “givens” are you talking about?

            (1) external senses are noisy measures of objectivity
            (2) internal senses/judgments are 100% subjective

            It is generally taken that (2) means that one cannot approach objectivity

            I´d deny that you can make any such seperation at all. When it comes to morality for example, 1+2 fully overlap and are completely inseperable.

            I have been told all the time, in various ways, that my emotions don’t matter [to anyone else] and aren’t to be trusted [for any public action]. If I feel insulted, it is of no matter, and any public action I take based on it is wrong.

            Imagine that I would see a picture of your face and don´t find it aesthetically appealing, would that per se be a reason to cast doubt on any of your arguments? Of course it wouldn´t, there is no logical connection what-so-ever between me finding you visually unappealing and the validity and soundness (or lack thereof) of your arguments. Similarly, if I would feel insulted by your constant and baseless accusations of “binary thinking”, would that per se have any implications what-so-ever on whether your arguments are valid and sound? Of course it wouldn´t.
            You are conflating completely different issues here, I thought you meant “trusting your emotions” in the sense:
            a) “When I feel sad, I am actually sad”
            but you rather seem to mean it ln this sense:
            b) “When an argument makes me sad, the argument must be flawed”.
            Trusting your emotions in the sense of a) is perfectly rational, “trusting them” in the sense of b) makes no sense whatsoever, it doesn´t even make sense to call that “trusting your emotions” because it is rather “trusting a completely ridiculous interpretation of what my emotions mean (argument x makes me sad => x must be false)”.

            Bald assertions are not arguments. See the metrization theorem. ThePrüfer manifold has no metric, and thus no spatial extent. Or you could look at MathOverflow’s Examples of non-metrizable spaces. Or you could reject the idea of a manifold erupting, magically, from a point. Otherwise, you hide irrationality away and pretend it doesn’t exist. I reject such descriptions of reality, in favor of rational ones that can be ever-further penetrated.

            Where did you get the nonsense that “non metrizable” means “no spatial extent”? It doesn´t mean that at all. A Prüfer manifold has spatial extent just like a long line (which is also not metrizable) has. Do you actually read those articles you link to?

          • Luke Breuer

            Evidentialism is not a method, it is an epistemological position.

            What did I say which implies that evidentialism is a method? An epistemological system can correct errors in thinking, or if you really don’t like that way of speaking, it can offer valid ways of thinking. No matter.

            And what “givens” are you talking about?

            Content upon which the laws of logic operate. Example sources of content: (1) sense perception; (2) thinking; (3) your universal prior.

            I´d deny that you can make any such seperation at all.

            So all the people who attempt to separate between ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ are just talking nonsense, in your opinion?

            You are conflating completely different issues here, I thought you meant “trusting your emotions” in the sense:
            a) “When I feel sad, I am actually sad”
            but you rather seem to mean it ln this sense:
            b) “When an argument makes me sad, the argument must be flawed”.

            a) How does the term ‘sad’ have any verifiable content, unless it is meant to match up with an objective conception of ‘sad’ which I can access, along with other people? If I say “I feel splarfuent”, does that mean anything?

            b) Emotions are but one evaluative judgment—well, some are probably closer to sense perceptions while others are probably closer to evaluative judgment; see What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories. Another would be beauty. Another would be the feeling of correctness. “When I don’t think an model matches reality, it must not match reality.” That “don’t think… matches reality” is an evaluative judgment.

            Where did you get the nonsense that “non metrizable” means “no spatial extent”?

            Please define, precisely, what “spatial extent” means.

          • Andy_Schueler

            What did I say which implies that evidentialism is a method?

            When you said: “evidentialism is meant to correct the errors picked up during mental maturity.”

            Content upon which the laws of logic operate. Example sources of content: (1) sense perception; (2) thinking

            :-D Bravo! *slow clap*
            And now show me an alternative to evidentialism that doesn´t presuppose that.

            So all the people who attempt to separate between ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ are just talking nonsense, in your opinion?

            No, I deny the “internal / external” distinction you make – it makes no sense, the two are inseperable.

            a) How does the term ‘sad’ have any verifiable content, unless it is meant to match up with an objective conception of ‘sad’ which I can access, along with other people? If I say “I feel splarfuent”, does that mean anything?

            What do you mean by “verifiable content” and “access”? Do you mean that I am supposed to verify that you are actually sad, by “accessing” something? (what?) If so, it doesn´t work like that – I have to trust your word on it that you are being sincere.

            b) Emotions are but one evaluative judgment—well, some are probably closer to sense perceptions while others are probably closer to evaluative judgment; see What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories. Another would be beauty. Another would be the feeling of correctness. “When I don’t think an model matches reality, it must not match reality.” That “don’t think… matches reality” is an evaluative judgment.

            Yup, see above re 1+2 being inseperable.

            Please define, precisely, what “spatial extent” means.

            It means that the object is composed out of a set of points (at least two) with a (non-empty) set of neighbourhoods for these points which satisfy a (non-empty) set of axioms relating points and neighbourhoods (stolen and adapted from wikipedias definition of topological space – which is the most general notion of a “mathematical space” there is).

          • Luke Breuer

            When you said: “evidentialism is meant to correct the errors picked up during mental maturity.”

            So you think it is incorrect to say that evidentialism was thought up in order to offer correct ways of thinking about evidence, reality, and justified true belief?

            And now show me an alternative to evidentialism that doesn´t presuppose that.

            Why? This all spun out of your “It´s not as if you had a choice in this”, and I didn’t see the relevance of that, except in a Neurathian bootstrap sense.

            No, I deny the “internal / external” distinction you make – it makes no sense, the two are inseperable.

            Okay then. Do you have any suggested reading for exploring (a) why many people think that on can make such a distinction; (b) why they fail? Or perhaps you came up with this largely by yourself? All over the place, I see this distinction as being treated as quite valid. This doesn’t mean it has to be perfectly true—F = ma is not perfectly true.

            What do you mean by “verifiable content” and “access”?

            What makes the statement “I feel sad” have more content than “I feel splarfuent”?

            Yup, see above re 1+2 being inseperable.

            And yet, do you think that you can keep emotions from influencing parts of your brain processes? If so, there is some kind of separation which can go on.

            It means that the object is composed out of a set of points (at least two) with a (non-empty) set of neighbourhoods for these points which satisfy a (non-empty) set of axioms relating points and neighbourhoods (stolen and adapted from wikipedias definition of topological space – which is the most general notion of a “mathematical space” there is).

            Then you are probably equivocating with the term “spatial extent”; given what you’ve said, something need not have “spacetime extent” in order for it to have “spatial extent”. The Big Bang singularity does not have “spacetime extent”.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Why? This all spun out of your “It´s not as if you had a choice in this”, and I didn’t see the relevance of that, except in a Neurathian bootstrapsense.

            You lost me, I have no idea what your point is supposed to be.

            What makes the statement “I feel sad” have more content than “I feel splarfuent”?

            I can emphatize with the former, which makes it intelligible to me, while the latter is gibberish.

            And yet, do you think that you can keep emotions from influencing parts of your brain processes?

            Fundamentally, no. To give you an example, me “caring” about whether you are right or wrong is an emotion – and without that emotion, I would have no reason at all to give what you say any thought at all. If you would completely seperate 1 and 2, you would turn a human being into a robot. A computer program that would have the capacity to evaluate some of your ideas would never actually do so unless it was being made to do so by a programmer. The same would apply to humans if you completely seperated 1 and 2 – we´d no longer think and do anything until someone would make us think / do something.

            Then you are probably equivocating with the term “spatial extent”; given what you’ve said, something need not have “spacetime extent” in order for it to have “spatial extent”. The Big Bang singularity does not have “spacetime extent”.

            So in which space does it extent then? If it doesn´t extent in any space, I repeat the same question that I asked now at least half a dozen times – how is it not a contradiction to say that something that has NO spatial extent in ANY space is simultaneously a “manifold” that by definition has spatial extent.

          • Luke Breuer

            You lost me, I have no idea what your point is supposed to be.

            I attempted to make sense of your “It´s not as if you had a choice in this”, and have failed.

            I can emphatize with the former, which makes it intelligible to me, while the latter is gibberish.

            Precisely: what makes the former have meaning is that there is intersubjective agreement. The same kind that happens with science.

            And yet, do you think that you can keep emotions from influencing parts of your brain processes?

            Fundamentally, no.

            So you cannot even apply logic without involving emotion?

            So in which space does it extent then?

            It’s simple: Andy-“spatial extent” ≠ “spacetime extent”. The Big Bang singularity has no “spacetime extent”. This does not mean that it has no Andy-“spatial extent”. If you really care about this, I can ask my friend what he means by the Big Bang singularity having additional ‘structure’ beyond being just a point. But it’s not clear that your purpose is anything other than to prove me wrong. If that’s all, I have no interest in rebutting that attempt to kill an idea.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Precisely: what makes the former have meaning is that there is intersubjective agreement. The same kind that happens with science.

            Yup. So…..?

            So you cannot even apply logic without involving emotion?

            Of course not. Lets say I encounter claim x coming from you, now assume that I am 100% dispassionate, I have no emotions (or suppress them completely). Assuming all that, what possible reason could I have to logically evaluate your claim? I am completely dispassionate, which means I don´t care about you and about whether your claim is true or false or anything in between, so what possible reason could I have to give it any thought at all?

            It’s simple: Andy-“spatial extent” ≠ “spacetime extent”. The Big Bang singularity has no “spacetime extent”. This does not mean that it has no Andy-“spatial extent”.

            So, AGAIN, in which space does it extent then?

            But it’s not clear that your purpose is anything other than to prove me wrong. If that’s all, I have no interest in rebutting that attempt to kill an idea.

            Copy this strand of the conversation. Show it to anyone that you trust and who doesn´t know me. Ask them whether I´m being a dick who wants to kill your ideas at all costs or whether it might rather be the case that your perception of what is going on is completely out of touch with reality.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yup. So…..?

            I forget; do you think that moral truth is any less accessible than scientific truth?

            Of course not. Lets say I encounter claim x coming from you, now assume that I am 100% dispassionate, I have no emotions (or suppress them completely). Assuming all that, what possible reason could I have to logically evaluate your claim?

            Well, desire to know what is true would be something that I don’t typically associate with emotion. Do you? Or perhaps you think nobody actually desires to know what is true, but that everyone always has an ulterior motive?

            So, AGAIN, in which space does it extent then?

            Precisely the kind that you specified. Which is not spacetime. The Big Bang singularity had no spacetime extent. I’m repeating myself, here. Do you really think that the Big Bang singularity moved instantaneously from ‘no internal structure’ → ‘lots of internal structure’? That’s a big-ass jump discontinuity, which I call “irrational”.

            I notice that you ignored this sentence; please address it:

            LB: If you really care about this, I can ask my friend what he means by the Big Bang singularity having additional ‘structure’ beyond being just a point.

            I’m amused that instead of saying why you are pursuing this discussion, you reply in the following manner:

            Copy this strand of the conversation. Show it to anyone that you trust and who doesn´t know me. Ask them whether I´m being a dick who wants to kill your ideas at all costs or whether it might rather be the case that your perception of what is going on is completely out of touch with reality.

            Ummm, not necessary, as your original claim turned on equivocation:

            AS: So how did you resolve the obvious contradiction of describing something that has no spatial extent with something that does have spatial extent?

            Which I will modify to remove the equivocation:

            So how did you resolve the obvious contradiction of describing something that has no Andy-“spatial extent” with something that does have spatial spacetime extent?

            Here, you can see that there’s no contradiction. You are conflating metaphysical (or mathematical) attributes with physical attributes.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I forget; do you think that moral truth is any less accessible than scientific truth?

            Nope.

            Well, desire to know what is true would be something that I don’t typically associate with emotion. Do you?

            A “desire” is an “emotion” – specifically, a “desire” is when you feel a preference for one option out of a set of alternatives. If you would never feel any preference for anything over any alternative, then you´d never think or do anything – you´d become a robot, something that doesn´t do anything unless it is being made to do something.

            Precisely the kind that you specified.

            Then you are suggesting that the mathematical model is not just a model but rather what actually is, and this is not a pipe.

            But I don´t see this tangent going somewhere productive so I suggest we kill it.

            Here, you can see that there’s no contradiction. You are conflatingmetaphysical (or mathematical) attributes with physical attributes.

            Nope, it seems actually that you are the one who is doing that.

            I’m amused that instead of saying why you are pursuing this discussion, you reply in the following manner:

            Yup, by all means – don´t ever try to test whether your perceptions of what is happening around you are misguided, your intuitions cannot possibly be wrong.

          • Luke Breuer

            Nope.

            Then you are extremely rare, and I will have to start interpreting what you say in this light. You are the only atheist I recall discussing such things with who has your position, although I only have the vaguest ideas of what it is.

            A “desire” is an “emotion” – specifically, a “desire” is when you feel a preference for one option out of a set of alternatives.

            Being able to phrase this in terms of emotion, via the word “feel“, doesn’t make emotion automatically responsible. Paul E. Griffiths’ What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories taught me to be very careful about grouping all emotions together, and thus I’m even suspicious about saying that all desire springs from emotion. What’s the best resource you have on the way you’re currently using the word “emotion”?

            Then you are suggesting that the mathematical model is not just a model but rather what actually is, and this is not a pipe.

            How did you get this idea? Metaphysical spatial extent need not map onto physical spatial extent.

            Yup, by all means – don´t ever try to test whether your perceptions of what is happening around you are misguided, your intuitions cannot possibly be wrong.

            My very reason for typing out that statement instead of merely believing it, was a test. And so far, you’ve given me no reason to question it. You could, however, offer an argument instead of sarcasm.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Then you are extremely rare, and I will have to start interpreting what you say in this light. You are the only atheist I recall discussing such things with who has your position, although I only have the vaguest ideas of what it is.

            I don´t think I am as unusual as you think I am – every utilitarian (for example) would have to agree with me that moral propositions can have truth values, and that true moral propositions amount to objectively true mind-independent facts, facts that are, at least partially, knowable, with very similar epistemological pitfalls as those that apply to scientific claims (e.g. the Münchhausen trilemma). And utilitarianism is incredibly popular (and not the only popular moral framework for which what I just said would apply).

            Being able to phrase this in terms of emotion, via the word “feel”, doesn’t make emotion automatically responsible. Paul E. Griffiths’ What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories taught me to be very careful about grouping all emotions together, and thus I’m even suspicious about saying that all desire springs from emotion. What’s the best resource you have on the way you’re currently using the word “emotion”?

            I have no sources to point to, I´ve never read anything scholarly in this area. So you say that some things that are felt are not “emotions”, what would examples for that be?

            How did you get this idea? Metaphysical spatial extent need not map onto physical spatial extent.

            I think you are abusing the word “metaphysical” here. Metyphysics is about what reality is fundamentally like, so you are saying that there is some non-physical reality in which something can “extent spatially” while having simultaneously no physical spatial extent. And unless you can provide an account of what “space” even means in this real (i.e., not “abstract”) non-physical reality, you are abusing the label “metaphysical”.

          • Luke Breuer

            I don´t think I am as unusual as you think I am – every utilitarian (for example) would have to agree with me that moral propositions can have truth values,

            I’ve never encountered a utilitarian who could give me a utility function that doesn’t ultimately rest on [partially] unarticulated modifications to prevent utilitarianism from justifying morally abhorrent actions. Furthermore, the vast majority of such people, if as many exist as you claim and if I have been exposed to a representative sampling, prefer their own happiness far above my own, based on their interactions with me. So I have a lot of skepticism about utilitarianism without some pretty stringent constraints—the kind that would make its results consonant with virtue ethics, something like Kant’s Kingdom of Ends, etc.

            So you say that some things that are felt are not “emotions”, what would examples for that be?

            Bona fide moral intuitions are a possible category. Another is just ‘intuition’, as distinct from emotions like happiness and sadness. Paul E. Griffiths identifies at least three natural kinds of emotions; here are my notes from p15:

            (1) “short-term, salient cases of anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy, and surprise” (2) “socially sustained pretenses, akin to socially constructed illnesses like ghost possession or “the vapors.”” (3) “at least somewhat variable across cultures. […] guilt, vengefulness, moral outrage”

            The term ‘felt’ is an incredibly broad one: I feel hot and cold, I feel sad, I feel excited. Is it the case that I think an argument is valid, but I only feel it is sound? I’m not at all convinced that the words ‘think’ and ‘feel’ are used in a consistent manner. What, precisely is it that produces the sensation that some model of reality well-matches reality? What, precisely is it that impinges on my consciousness, that maybe the model doesn’t match reality as well as I thought? On Being Certain argues that there’s an emotion for certitude, but is there a way to achieve increasing confidence without emotion?

            All this stuff is very fuzzy in my mind, despite my attempts to constraint-match all the various uses of the terms, plus some reading of experts. This leads me to believe that generally, people don’t really know what they’re talking about, including when it comes to topics like evidentialism. I mean, Descartes’ Error alone blows a lot of conceptions out of the water. This is one reason I can’t seem to be clearer than I have been, with regard to “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses? As I’ve said before, it’s a little odd for a Phil.SE question to get ≥ 10 votes, with no answer getting even +1 vote.

            Metyphysics is about what reality is fundamentally like, so you are saying that there is some non-physical reality in which something can “extent spatially” while having simultaneously no physical spatial extent.

            It sounds like I ought to ask my friends the next time down I’m in Pasadena, to elaborate. I will do that. They’re pretty busy, so getting answers other than from face-time is tricky. The philosophy of Structural Realism might be relevant here, although I’ve only scratched the surface of it.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’ve never encountered a utilitarian who could give me a utility function that doesn’t ultimately rest on [partially] unarticulated modifications to prevent utilitarianism from justifying morally abhorrent actions.

            It is remarkably easy to shoot holes into any naively formulated moral position, they all have weak points that require some thought to defend. But that is beside the point – my point was rather that the utilitarian would have to agree with me about the ontology of moral propositions.

            The term ‘felt’ is an incredibly broad one: I feel hot and cold, I feel sad, I feel excited. Is it the case that I think an argument is valid, but I only feelit is sound? I’m not at all convinced that the words ‘think’ and ‘feel’ are used in a consistent manner.

            And I´d go even further than that and say that the two cannot be completely seperated from each other, human minds are not computers.

          • Luke Breuer

            But that is beside the point – my point was rather that the utilitarian would have to agree with me about the ontology of moral propositions.

            One cannot be the meta-ethical version of a scientific instrumentalist, as a utilitarian?

            And I´d go even further than that and say that the two cannot be completely seperated from each other, human minds are not computers.

            I’m not sure how important it is to achieve complete separation. Concepts like an infinite, charged plane of conductor material is useful to think about physics, even though it doesn’t actually exist perfectly—even though we don’t think the Form is ever reified. It is, however, important to make distinctions (to separate) in the first place. Otherwise, it is impossible to even communicate.

            So given the above, I’m not sure what the importance is of your claim that “the two cannot be completely seperated from each other”. (It’s separated, btw.)

          • Andy_Schueler

            One cannot be the meta-ethical version of a scientific instrumentalist, as a utilitarian?

            I doubt that this analogy can make sense, strictly, the ethical analog of a scientific instrumentalist would be someone who believes that moral propositions in principle cannot tell you anything about morality per se, they only enable you to predict how your fellow humans are going to respond to ethical challenges in future situations. If anything, that would sound like a combination of moral skepticism + moral pragmatism.

            So given the above, I’m not sure what the importance is of your claim that “the two cannot be completely seperated from each other”

            You brought it up.

          • Luke Breuer

            I doubt that this analogy can make sense, strictly,

            I searched for “utilitarianism non-cognitivism” and found Was Mill a Non-Cognitivist? The result of his work is irrelevant; all I need to do is trust his statement that Mill has been considered a non-cognitivist by many.

            You brought it up.

            Was my argument predicated upon complete separation, or that being a good approximation? I’m not a fan of distinction-destruction without good reason. That’s a way to destroy our ability to communicate. Furthermore, we can talk about whether complete separation would be a good thing, whether some amount of isolation is preferable, etc. Many, for example, seem to think that every contribution emotion makes to the process of rational thinking is pollution of said rational thinking. After all, isn’t motivated reasoning bad?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Furthermore, we can talk about whether complete separation would be a good thing[1], whether some amount of isolation is preferable, etc. Many, for example, seem to think that every contribution emotion makes to the process of rational thinking is pollution of said rational thinking[1]. After all, isn’t motivated reasoning bad?[2]

            1. And that is a very naive view IMO, it silently presupposes that human minds work essentially like computers, but they don´t.
            2. Yup, that´s bad. Is caring about whether something is true or false bad as well? And pragmatically, why would you ever try to logically evaluate ANY claim whatsoever without caring whether it is true or not?

          • Luke Breuer

            1. How am I presupposing that “human minds work essentially like computers”? If I’m doing anything, I’m saying that in certain regimes, making our imaginations work more like computers can be a godo thing.

            2. I’m having trouble making consistent sense of (i) your claim that one cannot even reason logically without emotion, and (ii) your claim that motivated reasoning is bad. The only solution I can find is emotion that wants to know what is true, above all else. Do you strive to always want to know what is true, above all else?

            As to your last question, you seem to be denying that rationalization (making excuses) is a thing.

          • Andy_Schueler

            1. How am I presupposing that “human minds work essentially like computers”? If I’m doing anything, I’m saying that in certain regimes, making our imaginations work more like computers can be a godo thing.

            Note the “in certain regimes” and “more like” and compare to the earlier:
            every contribution emotion makes to the process of rational thinking is pollution of said rational thinking”

            2. I’m having trouble making consistent sense of (i) your claim that one cannot even reason logically without emotion, and (ii) your claim that motivated reasoning is bad.

            I´d refer you to Antonio Damasio´s work that you yourself linked to earlier.

            As to your last question, you seem to be denying that rationalization (making excuses) is a thing.

            Erm… no, I don´t deny that, I have no idea what that has to do with anything, and I also don´t understand why you didn´t just answer the question.

          • Luke Breuer

            Note the “in certain regimes” and “more like” and compare to the earlier:

            every contribution emotion makes to the process of rational thinking is pollution of said rational thinking”

            Does not every contribution of emotion—at least the non-truth-seeking kind—make thinking less and less rational? Remember that in Descartes’ Error, it was not pure reason which was damaged by the relevant brain lesions, but practical reason. Patients were perfectly able to use logic with their psychologists. It was more the sustained pursuit of goals which was thwarted.

            Here is how I envision utilizing emotion that isn’t just the truth-seeking kind (supposing that some emotion is truth-seeking; we can switch ‘emotion’ → ‘desire’ if necessary). First, you set up goals and means and note how you predict them ‘feeling’ as well as how you predict them turning out in more intersubjectively accessible ways. Then you switch off the non-truth-seeking emotion and work out the details. Then you follow the plan, rationally, unless you find that the predictions (means-predictions and ends-predictions) do not match reality in ways that require reevaluation. What is not allowed is distortion of the reasoning process such that one is hindered in performing the predict-test-update loop.

            Proper execution of the above results in one having the right sentiments, in the sense that one is increasingly accurate in affective forecasting, and that one’s introspection is no longer naive, reducing the force of The Unreliability of Naive Introspection. Do you see how I am separating emotion from execution of logic in a special way, here?

            I´d refer you to Antonio Damasio´s work that you yourself linked to earlier.

            Would you be more specific, please? Perhaps the above will help.

            AS: And pragmatically, why would you ever try to logically evaluate ANY claim whatsoever without caring whether it is true or not?

            LB: As to your last question, you seem to be denying that rationalization (making excuses) is a thing.

            AS: Erm… no, I don´t deny that, I have no idea what that has to do with anything, and I also don´t understand why you didn´t just answer the question.

            My answer is that people who rationalize, logically evaluate in order to justify preconceived notions—this is an explicit not-caring about truth. As another example, take a look at the Sophists, who employed logical analysis to the purpose of convincing their audience of whatever they wanted to—completely agnostic of the truth (see Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit). But perhaps when you said “whether it is true or not”, you meant validity and not soundness? Even then, I’m not sure I would agree. A lot of half-assed rationalization goes on.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Does not every contribution of emotion—at least the non-truth-seeking kind—make thinking less and less rational?

            Some emotions would certainly do that, love and hatred being the most obvious ones. But this cannot be generalized to emotions in general. Moral reasoning and moral judgments are only meaningful because of a desire to “do what is right” – a desire to act on the outcomes of moral judgments. This desire to “do what is right” doesn´t make the moral reasoning process irrational, it cannot, because it only comes after you have arrived at a conclusion – and without this desire, you would lack both a reason to even begin thinking about moral issues and even if you had some other motivation, moral reasoning would be pointless if you would be indifferent to the result. Or take curiosity (which is not synonymous to “truth seeking”) for example, or even just plain hedonism – if you decide to tacke a math problem because you love the challenge and the “kick” of having solved a hard problem, why would those emotions make your reasoning less rational? I can´t think of any reasons for why they would.

            Would you be more specific, please? Perhaps the above will help.

            I understand Damasio (particularly based on this ) in such a way that human reasoning cannot be modelled as a meaty computer operating on data coming from sense perception, what we consciously experience has meaning to us, it is not like feeding a computer with data, we care about what happens around and within us. Emotions are not some appendage to our conscious experience of the world around us, they are inseparably linked to it. You can try your best to disregard purely subjective preferences and emotional biases while you evaluate some claim (and that is a reasonable thing to do), but removing emotion from the picture completely cannot be done (and as I mentioned above, for many emotions I also don´t see that as a potential liability, because they do not negatively influence your rational faculties).

            My answer is that people who rationalize, logically evaluate in order to justify preconceived notions—this is an explicit not-caring about truth. As another example, take a look at the Sophists, who employed logical analysis to the purpose of convincing their audience of whatever they wanted to—completely agnostic of the truth (see Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit). But perhaps when you said “whether it is true or not”, you meant validity and not soundness? Even then, I’m not sure I would agree

            But there is a crucial difference here. The bullshitter does not care about whether x is true at all, what he evaluates is not “is x true or false”, it is rather “what is the most effective way to persuade or fool people into believing that x is true”. A true bullshitter is completely indifferent to the truth of x .

            So I don´t think that this addresses my point – in order to start reasoning about whether x is actually true or not, you´d need to care about it being true or false.

          • Luke Breuer

            Moral reasoning and moral judgments are only meaningful because of a desire to “do what is right” – a desire to act on the outcomes of moral judgments.

            Is there a stage of desire before right and wrong are involved? A while ago, I made an Evernote item called “minds want to spread”, which started out this way:

                 (I) minds wish to increase control over:
                     (i) reality
                    (ii) other minds
                (II) and/or minds want to grow

            This appears to be a general meme; I’ll pull from The World as Will and Representation:

            Schopenhauer used the word “will” as a human’s most familiar designation for the concept that can also be signified by other words such as “desire,” “striving,” “wanting,” “effort,” and “urging.” Schopenhauer’s philosophy holds that all nature, including man, is the expression of an insatiable will to life. It is through the will that mankind finds all their suffering. Desire for more is what causes this suffering.

            Schopenhauer goes Buddhist and says we must kill off this will; I say that it must be given a structured way to grow that resists cancerous kinds of growth, as well as that which fits under (I)(ii). The Buddhist wants to be unborn (I’m not sure how you can have a person without a will); the Christian says that one has to die and be born again, such that one can be one who conquers, but not in a (I)(ii) sense.

            Anyhow, it seems to me that the moral dimension of right and wrong is antecedent to some initial development of the above. Would you agree, or disagree? To say one more thing, I surmise that the ultimate distinction between good and evil is that between eternal life and finite life, ending in death. The growth medium/selection pressures are critical, for ensuring that the eternal life is what we would call good—vs. say Satan existing forever and being able to screw over people forever.

            if you decide to tacke a math problem because you love the challenge and the “kick” of having solved a hard problem, why would those emotions make your reasoning less rational?

            It’s easy: we both know the lure of just-so stories for explaining reality, and we both know that plenty of people derive plenty of pleasure from imbibing them, digesting them, and integrating them into their very being, just like fruit Adam and Eve ate became part of them. Your example here obscures the possibility of falsehood (especially, if not exclusively because it is a shortcut for truth) being satisfying.

            I understand Damasio (particularly based on The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness) in such a way that human reasoning cannot be modelled as a meaty computer operating on data coming from sense perception, what we consciously experience has meaning to us, it is not like feeding a computer with data, we care about what happens around and within us.

            Fascinating; I wonder how much (a) an unarticulated background; (b) teleology, play crucial roles. I skimmed the beginning of Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain and have not read Feeling. Having grown up with all of my emotions rejected as ‘bad’ except for excitement, I’m a bit like Einstein, who was able to ask some of the scientific questions he did because his intellectual development was stymied (damn, I forget where I read this). I’ve long wondered precisely what the heck emotions are. One of my better guesses is that somehow, there is truth to the following:

                 universals : emotion :: particulars : logic
                 continuity : emotion :: discreteness : logic
                 whole : emotion :: parts : logic

            This, however, doesn’t really capture the aspect of emotion exerting actual force on us. When Damasio spoke of emotions aiding practical reason, it gave me the sense of emotions giving our goals momentum. Then you have stuff like Hume’s “reason is a slave to the passions”, which could be lined up with “being a slave to sin” or “being a slave to the flesh”. I digress.

            Part of why I might appear to support the humans-as-computers model (see also Enlightenment thinker Julien Offray de La Mettrie‘s 1748 Man a Machine) is that I actually tried to be as rational as possible when growing up, because my emotions almost always gave me bum information, except when it came to academics. So I got really good at suppressing my emotions quite well. This makes me able to enter a very computer-like ‘mode'; my wife and I watched ST TNG In Theory tonight and she laughed about how I can act like Data.

            Emotions are not some appendage to our conscious experience of the world around us, they are inseparably linked to it.

            Given this, what would you say has happened to folks with the relevant brain lesions, as described in Descartes’ Error? Interestingly enough, I recently came across Phil.SE Can human consciousness be “felt” without complex emotions?, to which I gave an answer.

            So I don´t think that this addresses my point – in order to start reasoning about whether x is actually true or not, you´d need to care about it being true or false.

            Ok, but now what you’re saying just seems tautologically true. It begs the question of whether anyone wants to know what is true, vs. simply achieve some purpose—a purpose which may only be achievable while under delusion/ignorance.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce
          • Luke Breuer

            No; I’m no longer subscribed to your RSS feed. Thanks for pointing this out; I just replied.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Is there a stage of desire before right and wrong are involved?

            In the sense that there are not only desires that relate to morality, yes. But I´d say that “desire” by definition is about having a preference, to prefer something over alternatives, and we usually associate that which we prefer with “good” and the alternatives as “bad” or “less good” – so desire always is about “good” vs “bad”, but not only in the moral dimension (there are preferences / desires for stuff that is morally neutral, I cheered for the german team in the soccer world championship for example, and I felt them becoming world champion as something “good” – but not in the moral sense).

            It’s easy: we both know the lure of just-so stories for explaining reality, and we both know that plenty of people derive plenty of pleasure from imbibing them, digesting them, and integrating them into their very being, just like fruit Adam and Eve ate became part of them. Your example here obscures the possibility of falsehood (especially, if not exclusively because it is a shortcut for truth) being satisfying.

            What I was arguing for was explicitly not a) that “emotion is never a factor that makes reasoning less rational” – I explicitly said that it can be just that right from the beginning. What I rather argued was b) that this cannot be generalized to all emotions and that there are obvious examples for where they do not do that. Your response here makes only sense had I argued for a), but I argued for b).

            This, however, doesn’t really capture the aspect of emotion exerting actual force on us. When Damasio spoke of emotions aiding practical reason, it gave me the sense of emotions giving our goals momentum.

            I´d completely agree, emotions do that – particularly in moral reasoning (moral judgments feel very different / generate much stronger feelings than any other kind of judgment). But I´d say that those “goals” themselves are connected to emotion as well – a “goal” that you have is not just a dispassionate idea, it is something that gives you a sense of purpose, you feel it.

            Given this, what would you say has happened to folks with the relevant brain lesions, as described in Descartes’ Error?

            They still care about stuff (although sometimes in a drastically different way then they used to – this became obvious in the experiments re moral judgments where they give highly unusual answers to classical moral dilemmas) – but they have a dramatically impaired ability to weigh off alternatives against each other. When life gets complicated, they have a hard time making choices and planning ahead – because the brain region that is damaged apparently is very important for connecting ideas about what could happen based on certain actions to past experiences and in turn connect them with a sense of whether these consequences are desirable or not and especially more desirable than the available alternatives.

            Ok, but now what you’re saying just seems tautologically true[1]. It begs the question of whether anyone wants to know what is true, vs. simply achieve some purpose [2]—a purpose which may only be achievable while under delusion/ignorance.

            1. It does. But only because it is so obviously true – remove emotion completely and you´ll turn a human being into a robot, a thing that doesn´t do anything unless it is being made to do something.
            2. Trying to find out what is true is a “purpose” as well.

          • Luke Breuer

            But I´d say that “desire” by definition is about having a preference, to prefer something over alternatives, and we usually associate that which we prefer with “good” and the alternatives as “bad” or “less good”

            Yes, I call this “deciding what is good” vs. “discovering what is good”. So how do we avoid deciding, and instead discover, in the realm of ‘the good’?

            What I was arguing for was explicitly not a) that “emotion is never a factor that makes reasoning less rational” – I explicitly said that it can be just that right from the beginning. What I rather argued was b) that this cannot be generalized to all emotions and that there are obvious examples for where they do not do that. Your response here makes only sense had I argued for a), but I argued for b).

            Does b) actually contain “emotions”? Your answer to my previous question will probably help, here. As I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty iffy on what “emotions” are, precisely; this intuition of fuzziness about that word was given solid scientific support via reading the beginning of What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories.

            I´d completely agree, emotions do that – particularly in moral reasoning (moral judgments feel very different / generate much stronger feelings than any other kind of judgment). But I´d say that those “goals” themselves are connected to emotion as well – a “goal” that you have is not just a dispassionate idea, it is something that gives you a sense of purpose, you feel it.

            So if we talk about momentum, then we have two parts:

                 (1) magnitude
                 (2) direction

            Have you thoughts on what contributes to the overall direction? Or perhaps, how does each ∆p get produced and contributed to the overall momentum? It strikes me that one could use direction to talk about alignment or anti-alignment with ‘the good’. And of course, we could talk about whether the ‘field’ of ‘the good’ is just constantly in flux (leading to moral relativism), or whether there is some fundamental invariant, underlying any and all apparent flux.

            If you’ll allow me to work with the momentum analogy, we generate internally ∆ps, and we also experience from external reality, ∆ps. If one’s momentum is not high enough or one’s ability to internally produce ∆p is not good enough, reality can really knock you about, maybe completely realign you, etc. One way to interpret the New Covenant, e.g. Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32, is the move from “society structures your life” to “you structure your own life”. Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age provides some support for this transition:

            Of course, a large and complex thesis lies behind this flip reference. The basic idea is that Baroque culture is a kind of synthesis of the modern understanding of agency as inward and poietic, constructing orders in the world, and the older understanding of the world as cosmos, shaped by Form. With hindsight, we tend to see the synthesis as instable, as doomed to be superseded, as it was in fact.
            […]
            Baroque culture, Dupre argues, is united by “a comprehensive spiritual vision…. At the centre of it stands the person, confident in the ability to give form and structure to a nascent world. But-and here lies its religious significance-that centre remains vertically linked to a transcendent source from which, via a descending scale of mediating bodies, the human creator draws his power. This dual centre-human and divine-distinguishes the Baroque world picture from the vertical one of the Middle Ages, in which reality descends from a single transcendent point, as well as from the unproblematically horizontal one of later modernity, prefigured in some features of the Renaissance. The tension between the two centres conveys to the Baroque a complex, restless, and dynamic quality” (Kloc 12593–12607)

            I’m also reminded of Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs, in which he talks about two fundamentally different conceptions of justice: justice as “right order of society”, and justice as “individual rights”. I think this maps onto the above, as well. But I digress, as usual.

            They still care about stuff

            Are you saying that VMPFC patients still have access to their emotions, somehow? As in, would they just turn into vegetables if they didn’t? Keep in mind the open question about what precisely “emotion” is; I’d prefer to use natural kinds, if we know enough to do so.

            2. Trying to find out what is true is a “purpose” as well.

            Agreed. It is likely precisely what the command “love the Lord your God with all your heart/mind/soul strength” means, as long as you let the word ‘true’ apply to all domains and not just e.g. what science studies.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Is that not the idea of skepticism?

          • Andy_Schueler

            I thought so as well, but Luke apparently disagrees ;-)

          • Andy_Schueler

            And one further clarification, when I say that I find thomism “beautifully logical” – I really mean just that, I find the way it is expressed syllogistically to be aesthetically appealing, it is simple yet still profound, and it is logically absolutely rigorous.
            I cannot find any holes in its internal logic, but I don´t consider it to be true because I disagree with the premises and because it leads to conclusions that I consider to be empirically false (Feser argues that the premises that are required to get thomism off the ground are presupposed by modern science and must be presupposed by any conceivable endeavour analogous to modern science, I disagree, and that would be a very interesting subject for discussion but I don´t like to argue with thomists (if you think that I am too harsh and critical, go to Feser´s blog and propose that thomistic morality and utilitarianism can be reconciled – it might change your perspective on what too harsh and critical means ;-) ))

          • Luke Breuer

            I have many more tools for when I discuss with Christians, so I’m not sure I’d find what you say I’d find. Actually, the reason I don’t comment on Feser’s blog is that the commenting system is terrible; it does not promote discovery or elucidation of knowledge.

            As to indefeasible coherence, I’ll say one more thing: I find that sermons, which are polished in the way you seem to be describing Thomism, tend to be very bad and do not promote life—that is, further exploration. Instead, they cut off thought and make one think one completely understand an idea when one manifestly does not. Now, I don’t claim that this is a necessary consequence of what I have just called “indefeasible coherence”, but anecdotally, I’m not sure I’ve ever found it a good thing. Too often, “indefeasible coherence” is a means of putting God in a box that one does not emphasize is merely an approximation, and I see two reasons for doing so: pride and control.

          • Andy_Schueler

            “that is, further exploration”
            – It is like mathematics, starting with a small set of “axioms”, you derive new “theorems” and combine those theorems into new ones. The Summa Theologica is enormous, it would take you a long time to read it completely (I personally don´t know anyone who actually did read it completely). And it is not complete – someone recently linked me to an essay that argues from a thomistic framework for why modern embryological knowledge points to conception as the moment in human development where the developing life starts having a human essence. It was a pleasure to read, very well argued and actually the only logically valid argument in support of the moment of conception causing a qualitative difference instead of a quantitative one that I have ever seen. It didn´t sway my opinion at all because I disagree with the premises (I don´t even believe that there is any such thing as an “essence”), but I love logical stringency, and thomists deliver it.

          • Luke Breuer

            At some point I intend to create a way to dissect arguments and describe their connectivity such that you can construct a visual representation of them as lots of little different pieces with arrows in between, so that you can wiggle one bit and see what else wiggles. That might be a nice way to explore Thomas Aquinas’ work—then you could start anywhere, and trace dependencies as you want or need to.

            Maybe if I do the above, discussions can actually go somewhere instead of infinitely in circles, repeated again and again, as if we’re collectively insane. For you could show how an argument being had on some blog somewhere pattern-matches pretty well onto some particular argument that has been dissected. Anyhow…

          • Andy_Schueler

            Have you ever used Prolog? IIRC, there are some visualization tools for creating images out of Prolog programs, I think that comes close to what you have in mind.

          • Luke Breuer

            I know about it but haven’t looked much at it. I wonder whether Prolog could easily handle Bayesian inference or even better, Dempster–Shafer theory. Sometimes plain old Aristotelian logic is fine, but sometimes you want paraconsistent logic or something if its ilk. I see that Prolog can apparently do some fuzzy logic, or at least there are people who have made modifications upon it to do this.

            For this project to work, it has to well-model the actual arguments that people make, as well as the disagreements that happen. Then, someone could present his/her own logic with the model as ‘metadata’, and others can argue that a different ‘metadata’ describes it better. What you want to do is model different interpretations of the argument in motivating ways.

            One could, of course, use all this machinery to analyze social policy proposals. One could even develop a portal that has access to lots of statistics and models, such that not only can the validity and soundness of words be described in a way that algorithms can consume, but one can symbolically quote/link, such that I can find all policy proposals which refer to some set of statistics or model or whatever. It’s not like I’m thinking about doing the above or anything…

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Does your belief in a god who has no divine foreknowledge (which you rigorously defended in a previous debate with me) prevent the possibility of him creating a universe that “naturally” responds to human actions that are freely willed? The two seem incompatible. How can god plant miracles in certain people’s lives via some sort of natural process that doesn’t require god’s intervention, if god does not know the choices and future whereabouts of first-cause agents?

            Is it just me, or is your worldview highly inconsistent given your fondness for Leibnizian miracles?

          • Luke Breuer

            What, precisely (non-vaguely) do you mean by “has no divine foreknowledge”? Are you, for example, acquainted with “middle knowledge”?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Divine foreknowledge here means essentially the same thing as middle knowledge. That is, god knows your future actions and choices; he knows all future events, etc. Middle knowledge generally means god knows what you would do in all possible situations, etc.

            Since you hold to the view that god cannot know the future choices of people, wouldn’t that prevent Leibnizian miracles from occurring? It would seem god must know all future events to perform miracles in the Leibnizian fashion.

          • Luke Breuer

            It is highly nonstandard to say that without middle knowledge, there is no divine foreknowledge. Do you realize this, or are you back to redefining theological terms to suit your arguments, to make them appear better? You did this with DCT.
            As to your claim that no middle knowledge means no Leibnizian miracles, how precisely did you reason to that? Are you, perchance, assuming something like a block universe is an accurate model of reality, vs. e.g. a growing block universe? Or asked differently, do you think all first causes occurred at the same time? Or at least, do you think all of the first causes attributable to God are ~13.7 billion years in the past?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Do you believe that god has knowledge of the future actions of human beings? The last time this came up between us, your answer was no. Call that whatever term satisfies you. I don’t want to argue semantics. I want you to show me how your worldview is not incoherent give your belief in Leibnizian miracles and god’s inability to know the future actions of human beings.

          • Luke Breuer

            Do you believe that god has knowledge of the future actions of human beings?

            He has at least the knowledge that we can gain from experiments where scientists can predict a button press before the person is conscious of it. But all knowledge of future actions? Well, if those future actions contain any results from first causes that are associated with the identities of persons not God, then no, he didn’t know they would occur until they did, in my current thinking on the matter. He did, however, know every possible combination of first causes; he could have planned aplenty given this knowledge (you may think of it as knowing all quantum realities, if that helps).

            I don’t want to argue semantics.

            “I don’t want to be criticized for wrongly using terms or being vague, contra what I like to do to others.”

            I want you to show me how your worldview is not incoherent

            Guilty until proven innocent, eh? Let’s see you actually make an argument for incoherence; I don’t see one, yet. I suspect you don’t understand how God can be responsible for some first causes and us for other first causes, and how him acting in the world need be no difference from how we act in the world. And yet, you seem to want to say that his actions would need to be Humean miracles, while our actions are just, well, ‘natural’—whatever that means. (Not even wrong: The many problems with Naturalism)

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            He has at least the knowledge that we can gain from experiments where scientists can predict a button press before the person is conscious of it.

            So essentially god knows no more about what we’ll do than a neuroscientist. How then does he produce miracles the Leibnizian way without breaking the laws of physics if he doesn’t know what we’re going to do in the future and learns in more or less in real time as the present unfolds?

            if those future actions contain any results from first causes that are associated with the identities of persons not God, then no, he didn’t know they would occur until they did, in my current thinking on the matter.

            If god is learning in real time our actions and decisions, then how can a miracle occur with out a supernatural intervention (i.e. an LBE) if he had no idea what the future state of the universe would be?

            He did, however, know every possible combination of first causes; he could have planned aplenty given this knowledge (you may think of it as knowing all quantum realities, if that helps).

            So does your view force you to accept the many worlds interpretation of QM? If so there are worlds where you go to heaven and worlds where you go to hell. How is that logical under Christian theism?

            “I don’t want to be criticized for wrongly using terms or being vague, contra what I like to do to othe

            LOL. You’re the king of being vague. It’s the pot calling the kettle black. What terms have I used wrong? Quote me my terms and the “correct” terms. My definition of DCT was pretty much standard text book definition. The problem is you fall out of the mainstream of Christianity and so you just don’t like the mainstream views because they conflict with your theology.

            Guilty until proven innocent, eh?

            And this coming from a man who attacked about a dozen strawmen in a row. Pot meet kettle…

            Let’s see you actually make an argument for incoherence; I don’t see one, yet. I suspect you don’t understand how God can be responsible for some first causes and us for other first causes, and how him acting in the world need be no difference from how we act in the world.

            God’s perfect rationality implies that he never acts erratically. That’s the Leibnizian view. In order for god not to act erratically, he would need to know the future whereabouts, thoughts and actions of people in order to produce a miracle in their lives for a specific purpose. Divine foreknowledge is required in order for this to happen. Saying that god knows “every possible combination of first causes” doesn’t get you out of the mess you’re in. Either you believe in every possible world a la the Everettarian view which I don’t think is compatible with Christianity, or there is one world, and a god without foreknowledge cannot know the future actions of humans beings in one particular world, since he learns of them in real time.

            But a god who lacks foreknowledge opens up so many other problems. How did such a god know human beings were going to evolve? And that there would be a Moses, or an Israel, or an Abraham, or a Mary, if human beings cannot be predicted? Was god gambling when he created our world, hoping that it would turn out in such a way that he preferred?

            And yet, you seem to want to say that his actions would need to be Humean miracles, while our actions are just, well, ‘natural’—whatever that means. (Not even wrong: The many problems with Naturalism)

            Oh Randal Rauser, your hero. Natural in the sense I use it would mean there are no gods providing efficient causes to anything that happens, hence a Leibnizian miracle would not be natural.

          • Luke Breuer

            LB: He has at least the knowledge that we can gain from experiments where scientists can predict a button press before the person is conscious of it.

            TT: So essentially god knows no more about what we’ll do than a neuroscientist.

            How does what I said imply what you said? Here, let me summarize:

                 LB: God can do at least X.
                 TT: So God can do at most X.

            If god is learning in real time our actions and decisions, then how can a miracle occur with out a supernatural intervention (i.e. an LBE) if he had no idea what the future state of the universe would be?

            First, tell me what the difference is between God acting in the world and being responsible for his actions, and humans acting in the world and being responsible for their actions. Surely in acting as we do, we are adhering to laws? Indeed, Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational argues that we are adhering not just to Shrödinger’s equation, but higher level behavioral models as well—even if we cannot do the predictions ourselves (due to e.g. The Unreliability of Naive Introspection).

            Your entire argument seems predicated upon God acting in reality in a way different from how we do. I want you to describe this difference, because I don’t see it. I read much of Evan Fales’ Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles; one of my conclusions was that either humans aren’t responsible for anything like God is, or the roots of their actions must work similarly to the roots of God’s actions. You seem to have some kind of difference in mind, so let’s hear it, in sufficient detail.

            So does your view force you to accept the many worlds interpretation of QM?

            No. I have no idea why you thought it would.

            And this coming from a man who attacked about a dozen strawmen in a row. Pot meet kettle…

            Oh, do you agree that you also construct strawmen? Maybe it’s a team effort? Or maybe, in attempting to describe the other person’s view in our own words, we both get it wrong sometimes? Could that be possible? I will note that attempting to say what the other guy said in your own words is an “active listening technique” in Michael P. Nichols’ The Lost Art of Listening.

            God’s perfect rationality implies that he never acts erratically.

            God’s perfect rationality implies that he never acts erratically. That’s the Leibnizian view. In order for god not to act erratically, he would need to know the future whereabouts, thoughts and actions of people in order to produce a miracle in their lives for a specific purpose.

            Is this true? I would have to add presuppositions to your argument in order to get it to obtain. Why don’t you lay out a formal argument, with numbered premises, corollaries, and conclusion? I have no idea how the argument would work, because I can produce phenomena for my wife whereby she knows the final cause but not the efficient cause, and thus produce a Leibnizian miracle for her for a specific purpose. I do it all the time when I help her troubleshoot code for her biophysics experiments. I don’t see how this requires knowing the future perfectly, and I don’t see anything erratic.

            But a god who lacks foreknowledge opens up so many other problems. How did such a god know human beings were going to evolve?

            We can discuss this another time.

            Oh Randal Rauser, your hero.

            Yes, because I like one of his posts, he is my hero. Wonderful inferential skills, The Thinker!

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            How does what I said imply what you said?

            It seems that as a general comparison, when it comes to knowing our future actions, the absence of divine foreknowledge means god knows about as much as a neuroscientist. But it is not important to me whether god knows more or less. The only thing that concerns me for the purposes of this conversation is that you strongly believe and defended god’s lack of awareness of the future actions of people.

            . Surely in acting as we do, we are adhering to laws?

            Yes, we are adhering to the laws of physics, which are never broken.

            Is this true? I would have to add presuppositions to your argument in order to get it to obtain. Why don’t you lay out a formal argument, with numbered premises, corollaries, and conclusion?

            This isn’t my argument. I’m only arguing from what others have written about the Leibnizian view on miracles, (abbr LM for short). I’m not trying to argue that these are true or that I personally believe them. But since you believe in LMs, what I’ve done is do some research on them, and from what I’ve read I’m using that as my source of knowledge about LMs.

            That “God’s perfect rationality implies that he never acts erratically” I quoted directly from a paper by Kenny Pearce who you said you agree with, as I recall. Interestingly, he does make an argument to show the truth of this.

            (1) God, being perfectly rational, achieves his ends while following rules which are as general as possible

            (2) There is a single general rule (‘the General Order’) such that God’s following it would achieve his ends, that is, would bring about the total order of the world he has chosen

            (3) It is possible for God to follow the General Order.

            Therefore,

            (4) God follows the General Order

            What do you think of that argument? Do you disagree with Pearce?

            Moreover, the link you gave me says of LMs that:

            …if the parting of the Red Sea occurred then the classical theist (I take it that being a classical theist involves belief in divine atemporality, and so divine knowledge of future contingents) should say that God intended it all along and created the world with that intention in mind. If God is perfectly rational, this should be aprincipled intention as opposed to an arbitrary one, and if God is perfectly wise then he shouldn’t have to temporarily repeal the laws that he has willed in order to accomplish his purposes.

            Thus the very link you sent me says that LMs require divine foreknowledge, i.e. knowledge of future contingents, and yet you hold to a view that god is temporal and lacks knowledge of future human actions. This is what I mean when I say your worldview appears seriously incoherent. Am I attacking a strawman here, or is my objection to your view on these matters justified?

            Your entire argument seems predicated upon God acting in reality in a way different from how we do.

            Not at all. I don’t think I’ve said or implied any such thing. If you think so, where do you think I implied this?

            Oh, do you agree that you also construct strawmen? Maybe it’s a team effort? Or maybe, in attempting to describe the other person’s view in our own words, we both get it wrong sometimes?

            It’s possible. We’ve both certainly strawmaned before. I’m just saying that with you I have a really hard time explaining myself because it seems that you want me to be a Dawkins-esque antitheist who thinks religion is the root of all evil, when I’m not. And this image of me like this in your mind makes you read into what I’m saying things that I have not said or intended and so you contruct this strawman that you insist is the real me. But it isn’t.

            …because I can produce phenomena for my wife whereby she knows the final cause but not the efficient cause, and thus produce a Leibnizian miracle for her for a specific purpose.

            You are be acting spontaneously and erratically and are this not comparable to god in the context of LMs. You come up with solutions on the fly in response to events you had no prior knowledge of. That is the opposite of LMs because that would violate divine rationality.

            Yes, because I like one of his posts, he is my hero. Wonderful inferential skills, The Thinker!

            You seriously need to take a joke, Luke. But you are a regular commentator there aren’t you? There must be something about him that you like.

          • Luke Breuer

            I suggest reading the whole comment before responding piecemeal; you may even want to respond mostly holistically this time around.

            It seems that

            Yeah, it seems to you, which is different from there being a valid, sound logical case. I’m glad to see that you backed down to:

            The only thing that concerns me for the purposes of this conversation is that you strongly believe and defended god’s lack of awareness of the future actions of people.

            Yep, I don’t think God did anything to completely determine what choices people make, nor do I think he determines down to what choice of ice cream. I think he leaves the door wide-open for various people to make various different combinations of choices. Given this, God can still design reality such that for any given possible combination, reality acts in some specific way.

            This isn’t my argument.

            No, but (a) it is your interpretation of an argument—if even an argument; (b) you still have responsibility for defending it, if you wish to discuss as you have been.

            What do you think of that argument? Do you disagree with Pearce?

            I don’t know of any reason to object to what he has said. Pearce’s “General Order” seems consonant with what I said two paragraphs up. This being said, I have yet to see you draw the contradiction you said was lurking—or if you don’t want to call it a ‘contradiction’, whatever it was that results in God acting ‘erratically’, according to your definition of ‘erratically’, which I will either be able to deduce from standard definitions plus your argument, or will need to ask for clarification on.

            divine knowledge of future contingents

            Yep, Pearce did say that was background he assumed existed in Leibniz’s mind in Theodicy 337; you can read E.M. Huggard’s translation online. I ask you: is it required that God know (i) which particular future contingents would obtain, vs. (ii) all possible combinations of future contingents? Can you make a valid, sound argument for why (ii) is insufficient, why (i) is required?

            Thus the very link you sent me says that LMs require divine foreknowledge

            No, it didn’t. No argument was presented which says that LMs required middle knowledge (use that term; “divine foreknowledge” is a wider term). Pearce’s unpublished paper, A Leibnizian Theory of Miracles, makes no reference to ‘future’ or ‘contingent’ or ‘foreknowledge’. But what I suggest is that you attempt to present such an argument. Argue that (i) is required, that (ii) is not sufficient. Don’t trust someone else’s argument; be The Thinker and come up with your own! I predict you will fail (because I failed), but perhaps you are a better man than I. You like to constantly claim and insinuate that you are.

            Not at all. I don’t think I’ve said or implied any such thing. If you think so, where do you think I implied this?

            The idea, which you think is valid, that God requires middle knowledge to avoid acting erratically, doesn’t seem true of humans. I cannot construct an argument which says that human action is necessarily ‘erratic’ if humans are disallowed middle knowledge.

            I’m just saying that with you I have a really hard time explaining myself because it seems that you want me to be a Dawkins-esque antitheist who thinks religion is the root of all evil, when I’m not.

            Where have I indicated that you think “religion is the root of all evil”? I do not ever recall accusing any atheist of ever saying something like this. This would be a ludicrous claim. I don’t even believe that the New Atheists believe this.

            You are be acting spontaneously and erratically

            Please give a philosophically rigorous definition of ‘erratically’. Or perhaps this will suffice?: “changing one’s mind without sufficient reason”. The Oxford dictionary has “Not even or regular in pattern or movement; unpredictable”—this would be against, for example, what Leibniz says in Theodicy 337:

            The wise mind always acts according to principles; always according to rules, and never according to exceptions, save when the rules come into collision through opposing tendencies, where the strongest carries the day: or else, either they will stop one another or some third course will emerge as a result. In all these cases one rule serves as an exception to the other, and there are never any original exceptions with one who always acts in a regular way.

            Are you saying that humans cannot avoid acting unwisely per Leibniz’s definition of “the wise mind”, and thus humans act “erratically” if/because they do not have middle knowledge? If so, I don’t see how you can maintain such an argument, so please spell it out formally.

            You come up with solutions on the fly in response to events you had no prior knowledge of.

            Why am I necessarily acting “erratically” in such a context? I don’t understand what you mean by the word “erratically”, despite substantial trying. If new order spontaneously arises as I encounter a new situation and learn how to deal with it, why do I have to be “erratic” during any portion of the process?

            You seriously need to take a joke, Luke. But you are a regular commentator there aren’t you? There must be something about him that you like.

            I take my heroes very seriously. As to liking RR, he’s alright. I think he’s fairly bad at bridge-building to atheists and skeptics; I don’t think he does a very good job simulating their perspectives in a fully honest way. If he were to take an Ideological Turing Test and pretend to be an atheist, I’m not convinced he’d do a very good job. That being said, he might be one of the best out there in bridge-building. This is a sad statement, but it is a sign of our times: there seem to be very few bridge-builders out there, these days. Most people are quite happy not understanding the other guy in a sympathetic way, if the other guy is too different.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Yeah, it seems to you, which is different from there being a valid, sound logical case.

            Well I’m trying to be a bit polite here as well. There is a valid, sound logical case.

            Yep, I don’t think God did anything to completely determine what choices people make, nor do I think he determines down to what choice of ice cream.

            Yes, we know you believe in free will and in a god who lacks foreknowledge. How then does god give Moses the 10 commandments via a LM, such that “God intended it all along and created the world with that intention in mind,” without knowing whether Moses was ever going to get to the mountain, or be born for that matter?

            I think he leaves the door wide-open for various people to make various different combinations of choices. Given this, God can still design reality such that for any given possible combination, reality acts in some specific way.

            But how can god make reality act in some specific way, say, in the year 2500, if god doesn’t know who will exist at that time and what people will be doing that actions? According to you, god learns of the intentions and actions of people in real time. So he doesn’t know what I will eat for breakfast tomorrow, let alone what the state of affairs will be in 2500 AD. How does god make a LM occur in 2500 when he has no idea what will exist at that time?

            No, but (a) it is your interpretation of an argument—if even an argument; (b) you still have responsibility for defending it, if you wish to discuss as you have been.

            So you disagree that divine foreknowledge is required to make the The argument from divine rationality? I don’t see at all how this is possible.

            I don’t know of any reason to object to what he has said.

            And yet somehow, I’ve found the one interpretation of his work that you disagree with, even though I’m simply taking what he says more or less at face value. How do you have teleology concerning humanity, if god has no idea what any of us are going to do tomorrow, or in the year 2500? If he has a goal for us, and is learning of our actions in real time, then LMs are impossible because god would have to intervene in the world via humean miracles that are a response to contingent circumstances caused by human free will.

            This being said, I have yet to see you draw the contradiction you said was lurking—or if you don’t want to call it a ‘contradiction’, whatever it was that results in God acting ‘erratically’, according to your definition of ‘erratically’, which I will either be able to deduce from standard definitions plus your argument, or will need to ask for clarification on.

            I think my above comments outlines this pretty clearly. Pearce http://writings.kennypearce.net/miracles.pdfwrites, “According to Leibniz, God has knowledge of all the possible worlds, and can bring about any one he pleases, so the perfectly general rule, bring about world w seems to be a candidate for the General Order.”

            If our world is world w, and god “has knowledge of all the possible worlds” then god creates our world knowing everything that will happen, i.e. with divine foreknowledge.

            Oh and remember when we were discussing Newton’s view that god must periodically intervene to repair the planet’s orbits? Well, Pearce recognizes this too, writing:

            Leibniz’s immediate target is Newton’s speculation that God periodically intervenes to repair the planetary orbits.

            But I suspect that even having a philosopher you admire who agrees with me on one point will not be enough for you to recognize my point about Newton was valid.

            I ask you: is it required that God know (i) which particular future contingents would obtain, vs. (ii) all possible combinations of future contingents? Can you make a valid, sound argument for why (ii) is insufficient, why (i) is required?

            Suppose I know that if decision A is made there are three contingents that can be made, 1A,2A, and 3A, and for each of these contingents there are other contingents. If 1A is chosen, then 1.1AB, 1.2AB, 1.3AB are contingents. If 2A is chosen, then the contingents are 2.1AB, 2.2AB, 2.3AB, and for 3A, 3.1AB, 3.2AB 3.3AB are contingents. Now if “God has very specific intentions and purposes for every event in the history of the universe” and “in creating the universe, God wished to bring about a particular pattern of overt behavior, analogous to the appropriate movements of the clocks hands,” as Pearce writes, then how can god from his position of epistemic ignorance due to his inability to know what choice the agent will make, create a LM that would make sense under choice 3.2AB and not the others, if god has no idea that choice the agent will eventually make?

            To put it another way, how does god part the red sea when Moses waves his hand if the trillions of contingent actions that lead to Moses getting to the red sea god didn’t know ahead of time? How did god know Mary was going to be born so that he could impregnate her with Jesus if god can’t know our future actions? Did god just get lucky?

            No, it didn’t. No argument was presented which says that LMs required middle knowledge (use that term; “divine foreknowledge” is a wider term).

            Yes it did. Divine foreknowledge is “a simple awareness of the future, not involving any complex deductive or inductive reasoning.” That’s according to the Internet encyclopedia pf philosophy, and that’s how I’ve been using the term all along.

            Pearce’s unpublished paper, A Leibnizian Theory of Miracles, makes no reference to ‘future’ or ‘contingent’ or ‘foreknowledge’.

            I had been quoting from this paper all along and you’re simply wrong. Just because Pearce may not have used to exact words doesn’t mean he doesn’t argue that god requires this. My quotes a few paragraphs above taken right from that paper demonstrate this. Pearce doesn’t need to make the argument for divine foreknowledge because it is simply assumed by him throughout his paper.

            I predict you will fail

            I think it is patently easy to show how divine foreknowledge is required to make rational sense of LMs. Leibniz himself accepts it, as do most Christians. i need to also hear a case by you how god can make a LM that affects our lives, via a “natural” event, that never occurs in all other circumstances, if god has no knowledge what choices we’ll make.

            The idea, which you think is valid, that God requires middle knowledge to avoid acting erratically, doesn’t seem true of humans.

            No one here is arguing that humans act perfectly rational. We do act erratic because we have no idea what future circumstances we will be faced with. I’m arguing that one cannot act perfectly rational if they don’t know all future contingents.

            Please give a philosophically rigorous definition of ‘erratically’…..The Oxford dictionary has “Not even or regular in pattern or movement; unpredictable”—this would be against, for example, what Leibniz says in Theodicy 337:

            Yes Leibniz accepted divine foreknowledge, which you have to accept in order to not act erratically.

            Why am I necessarily acting “erratically” in such a context? I don’t understand what you mean by the word “erratically”, despite substantial trying.

            Without divine foreknowledge you amend your intentions in light of contingent factors, you may have to scrap entire plans and come up with new ones “on the fly” that deviate significantly than your previous intentions. This is called being a human and living in an unpredictable world. You’re saying god is in this same epistemic position, more of less, and yet can somehow act perfectly rational.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Yeah, it seems to you, which is different from there being a valid, sound logical case.

            Well I’m trying to be a bit polite here as well. There is a valid, sound logical case.

            Yep, I don’t think God did anything to completely determine what choices people make, nor do I think he determines down to what choice of ice cream.

            Yes, we know you believe in free will and in a god who lacks foreknowledge. How then does god give Moses the 10 commandments via a LM, such that “God intended it all along and created the world with that intention in mind,” without knowing whether Moses was ever going to get to the mountain, or be born for that matter?

            I think he leaves the door wide-open for various people to make various different combinations of choices. Given this, God can still design reality such that for any given possible combination, reality acts in some specific way.

            But how can god make reality act in some specific way, say, in the year 2500, if god doesn’t know who will exist at that time and what people will be doing that actions? According to you, god learns of the intentions and actions of people in real time. So he doesn’t know what I will eat for breakfast tomorrow, let alone what the state of affairs will be in 2500 AD. How does god make a LM occur in 2500 when he has no idea what will exist at that time?

            No, but (a) it is your interpretation of an argument—if even an argument; (b) you still have responsibility for defending it, if you wish to discuss as you have been.

            So you disagree that divine foreknowledge is required to make the The argument from divine rationality? I don’t see at all how this is possible.

            I don’t know of any reason to object to what he has said.

            And yet somehow, I’ve found the one interpretation of his work that you disagree with, even though I’m simply taking what he says more or less at face value. How do you have teleology concerning humanity, if god has no idea what any of us are going to do tomorrow, or in the year 2500? If he has a goal for us, and is learning of our actions in real time, then LMs are impossible because god would have to intervene in the world via humean miracles that are a response to contingent circumstances caused by human free will.

            This being said, I have yet to see you draw the contradiction you said was lurking—or if you don’t want to call it a ‘contradiction’, whatever it was that results in God acting ‘erratically’, according to your definition of ‘erratically’, which I will either be able to deduce from standard definitions plus your argument, or will need to ask for clarification on.

            I think my above comments outlines this pretty clearly. Pearce writes, “According to Leibniz, God has knowledge of all the possible worlds, and can bring about any one he pleases, so the perfectly general rule, bring about world w seems to be a candidate for the General Order.”

            If our world is world w, and god “has knowledge of all the possible worlds” then god creates our world knowing everything that will happen, i.e. with divine foreknowledge.

            Oh and remember when we were discussing Newton’s view that god must periodically intervene to repair the planet’s orbits? Well, Pearce recognizes this too, writing:

            Leibniz’s immediate target is Newton’s speculation that God periodically intervenes to repair the planetary orbits.

            But I suspect that even having a philosopher you admire who agrees with me on one point will not be enough for you to recognize my point about Newton was valid.

            I ask you: is it required that God know (i) which particular future contingents would obtain, vs. (ii) all possible combinations of future contingents? Can you make a valid, sound argument for why (ii) is insufficient, why (i) is required?

            Suppose I know that if decision A is made there are three contingents that can be made, 1A,2A, and 3A, and for each of these contingents there are other contingents. If 1A is chosen, then 1.1AB, 1.2AB, 1.3AB are contingents. If 2A is chosen, then the contingents are 2.1AB, 2.2AB, 2.3AB, and for 3A, 3.1AB, 3.2AB 3.3AB are contingents. Now if “God has very specific intentions and purposes for every event in the history of the universe” and “in creating the universe, God wished to bring about a particular pattern of overt behavior, analogous to the appropriate movements of the clocks hands,” as Pearce writes, then how can god from his position of epistemic ignorance due to his inability to know what choice the agent will make, create a LM that would make sense under choice 3.2AB and not the others, if god has no idea that choice the agent will eventually make?

            To put it another way, how does god part the red sea when Moses waves his hand if the trillions of contingent actions that lead to Moses getting to the red sea god didn’t know ahead of time? How did god know Mary was going to be born so that he could impregnate her with Jesus if god can’t know our future actions? Did god just get lucky?

            No, it didn’t. No argument was presented which says that LMs required middle knowledge (use that term; “divine foreknowledge” is a wider term).

            Yes it did. Divine foreknowledge is “a simple awareness of the future, not involving any complex deductive or inductive reasoning.” That’s according to the Internet encyclopedia pf philosophy, and that’s how I’ve been using the term all along.

            Pearce’s unpublished paper, A Leibnizian Theory of Miracles, makes no reference to ‘future’ or ‘contingent’ or ‘foreknowledge’.

            I had been quoting from this paper all along and you’re simply wrong. Just because Pearce may not have used to exact words doesn’t mean he doesn’t argue that god requires this. My quotes a few paragraphs above taken right from that paper demonstrate this. Pearce doesn’t need to make the argument for divine foreknowledge because it is simply assumed by him throughout his paper.

            I predict you will fail

            I think it is patently easy to show how divine foreknowledge is required to make rational sense of LMs. Leibniz himself accepts it, as do most Christians. i need to also hear a case by you how god can make a LM that affects our lives, via a “natural” event, that never occurs in all other circumstances, if god has no knowledge what choices we’ll make.

            The idea, which you think is valid, that God requires middle knowledge to avoid acting erratically, doesn’t seem true of humans.

            No one here is arguing that humans act perfectly rational. We do act erratic because we have no idea what future circumstances we will be faced with. I’m arguing that one cannot act perfectly rational if they don’t know all future contingents.

            Please give a philosophically rigorous definition of ‘erratically’…..The Oxford dictionary has “Not even or regular in pattern or movement; unpredictable”—this would be against, for example, what Leibniz says in Theodicy 337:

            Yes Leibniz accepted divine foreknowledge, which you have to accept in order to not act erratically.

            Why am I necessarily acting “erratically” in such a context? I don’t understand what you mean by the word “erratically”, despite substantial trying.

            Without divine foreknowledge you amend your intentions in light of contingent factors, you may have to scrap entire plans and come up with new ones “on the fly” that deviate significantly than your previous intentions. This is called being a human and living in an unpredictable world. You’re saying god is in this same epistemic position, more of less, and yet can somehow act perfectly rational.

          • Luke Breuer

            Well I’m trying to be a bit polite here as well. There is a valid, sound logical case.

            If you think there’s a valid, sound logical argument, feel free to say so, if you’re willing to present the argument and defend it. And when we start from sufficiently different premises/presuppositions—which we probably are—it helps to present formal, numbered arguments. Use your judgment, but I’m highly skeptical that you have a valid argument. Why? Because I cannot construct one myself.

            How then does god give Moses the 10 commandments via a LM, such that “God intended it all along and created the world with that intention in mind,” without knowing whether Moses was ever going to get to the mountain, or be born for that matter?

            Do you never plan for contingencies, such that if A happens you’ll do X, if B happens you’ll do Y, and if C happens, you’ll do Z? It seems that if humans can do this, so can God—quite easily. And he can know all possible contingencies, unlike us. Perhaps what I am proposing is a more reactive universe than you are used to?

            The above paragraph seems to address multiple of your subsequent points/questions, so I’m going to ignore them until you address it. In particular, you keep talking about God “having no idea about X”, where I say that God “knows all possible combinations”. Do you see these two as identical?

            How do you have teleology concerning humanity, if god has no idea what any of us are going to do tomorrow, or in the year 2500?

            It’s simple: God determines some of what happens, and created beings determine the rest. It is a cooperative effort. It is true cooperation, instead of some form of puppeteering. God determines some of my telos, I determine other bits of it, and others determine the rest. It is a community project, as it were. You know how the serpent told Adam and Eve that they’d become like God? It was telling them the truth. Gods create ex nihilo. Take a look at Theosis, plus John 10:34.

            If our world is world w, and god “has knowledge of all the possible worlds” then god creates our world knowing everything that will happen, i.e. with divine foreknowledge.

            Your wording appears to assume a block universe; is this your intent? Specifically: when God creates world w, he is creating a block universe. Do you hold to that?

            how can god from his position of epistemic ignorance due to his inability to know what choice the agent will make, create a LM that would make sense under choice 3.2AB and not the others, if god has no idea that choice the agent will eventually make?

            Your error appears to lie in “and not the others”—why must the world not make sense under the others? I see no reason for that claim. Who is to say the world would not make complete sense under 3.2AB, 3.3AB, etc.?

            To put it another way, how does god part the red sea when Moses waves his hand if the trillions of contingent actions that lead to Moses getting to the red sea god didn’t know ahead of time?

            By creating a world where the Red Sea would part under the correct conditions.

            Divine foreknowledge is “a simple awareness of the future, not involving any complex deductive or inductive reasoning.” That’s according to the Internet encyclopedia pf philosophy, and that’s how I’ve been using the term all along.

            That article has a whole section on Molinism; do you seriously think that the whole thing falls apart of Molinism—middle knowledge—is rejected?

            I had been quoting from this paper all along and you’re simply wrong. Just because Pearce may not have used to exact words doesn’t mean he doesn’t argue that god requires this. My quotes a few paragraphs above taken right from that paper demonstrate this. Pearce doesn’t need to make the argument for divine foreknowledge because it is simply assumed by him throughout his paper.

            Ummm, it appears that you were selectively quoting, and ignoring the immediately following sentence:

            Pearce: According to Leibniz, God has knowledge of all the possible worlds, and can bring about any one he pleases, so the perfectly general rule, bring about world w seems to be a candidate for the General Order. [← you stop there] However, even if, perhaps due to considerations related to human freedom,[6] one denies that God can bring about just any possible world, it still seems that God ought to be able to settle on a general plan of action which will achieve all of his ends.

            Why did you stop where you did?

            I think it is patently easy to show how divine foreknowledge is required to make rational sense of LMs.

            Then do so. I need to no work, in order for you to do what you call “patently easy”. So do it! Show me I’m wrong. Why depend on me to make arguments if it’s “patently easy”?

            No one here is arguing that humans act perfectly rational. We do act erratic because we have no idea what future circumstances we will be faced with. I’m arguing that one cannot act perfectly rational if they don’t know all future contingents.

            At this point, I really have no idea of what you mean by (i) “act perfectly rational” or (ii) “act erratically”. Would you please formally define these, in your own words?

            Without divine foreknowledge you amend your intentions in light of contingent factors, you may have to scrap entire plans and come up with new ones “on the fly” that deviate significantly than your previous intentions.

            Yes, I have to come up with new plays “on the fly”, but does God? I have claimed, repeatedly, that God can know all possible combinations of human choices/first causes, and plan for all of them, in an entirely rational way. Why does this planning require knowing specifically which choices/first causes will obtain? You’ve yet to give any sort of argument; you’ve just repeatedly made assertions.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            If you think there’s a valid, sound logical argument, feel free to say so, if you’re willing to present the argument and defend it.

            Sure let’s look at your comments below.

            Do you never plan for contingencies, such that if A happens you’ll do X, if B happens you’ll do Y, and if C happens, you’ll do Z? It seems that if humans can do this, so can God—quite easily.

            I don’t have middle knowledge. but if I did and I had multiple plans according to contingent circumstances, I would be acting in real time as I implement it based on those circumstances in a humean fashion. I simply cannot make the red sea part “naturally” in such a way that it was going to do so on its own from the beginning of the universe unless I know ahead of time that a circumstance will arrive that requires it. The absence of foreknowledge prevents this.

            I am proposing is a more reactiveuniverse than you are used to?

            Yes, it seems your universe is one where the atoms in the red sea suddenly part once the right person makes a certain decision at a certain place, and those same atoms in the red sea wouldn’t have parted “naturally” if that decision wasn’t made.

            In particular, you keep talking about God “having no idea about X”, where I say that God “knows all possible combinations”. Do you see these two as identical?

            Middle knowledge and divine foreknowledge are similar but different. ML is knowing all possible choices one could make, DF is knowing all the choices one will make. Do you agree?

            God determines some of what happens, and created beings determine the rest. It is a cooperative effort. It is true cooperation, instead of some form of puppeteering. God determines some of my telos, I determine other bits of it, and others determine the rest.

            The problem is how could god make a LM in my life that occurs without his intervention via an LBE if he doesn’t know where I will be tomorrow? You have to believe that matter in the universe somehow “reacts” to our decisions in some rational manner and that our consciousness determines this. That is a heavy burden of proof which I have heard no evidence for. I don’t see how, for example, the red sea parting or not parting, depended on what we do makes sense given LMs. Leibniz wrote about them occurring with certainty from the creation of the universe in a way similar to determinism but not quite. All you’ve done is try to take the irrationality of god via humean miracles and transferred that it into nature. You’re still left with a natural world that is less than perfectly rational.

            You know how the serpent told Adam and Eve that they’d become like God? It was telling them the truth. Gods create ex nihilo.

            But A&E were first cause agents before they ate the fruit, so they were already creating ex nihilo, according to this idea. So you’re wrong here.

            Your wording appears to assume ablock universe; is this your intent? Specifically: when God creates worldw, he is creating a block universe. Do you hold to that?

            I am not assuming eternalism here. Many theists who are presentists hold that god can know the future even if it doesn’t exist. WLC is an example.

            Your error appears to lie in “and not the others”—why must the world not make sense under the others? I see no reason for that claim. Who is to say the world would not make complete sense under 3.2AB, 3.3AB, etc.?

            Because miracle A would only make sense in the context of a certain event, and not others.

            By creating a world where the Red Sea would part under the correct conditions.

            The whole point is that god doesn’t know if these conditions will be met when he created the universe. The universe is essentially a gamble to god absent foreknowledge. Thus god would have to make the atoms in the red sea part once he became aware that the conditions were right for them to part. That’s a humean miracle.

            Ummm, it appears that you were selectively quoting, and ignoring theimmediately following sentence….Why did you stop where you did?

            Because the author doesn’t make an argument, he just says god “ought to be able to settle on a general plan of action which will achieve all of his ends.” I’m not at all convinced this one-liner says anything to the effect of negating my charge.

            I’m going to skip somethings in the essence of time and space.

            Yes, I have to come up with new plays “on the fly”, but does God?

            Yes, suppose conditions occurred that wouldn’t make it right for god to make Jesus, that would be a major plan change. Or do you believe having a son born was a plan god made on the fly? How could god plan something physically happen in nature if he had no idea if the situation on the ground would ever be right for it?

            I have claimed, repeatedly, that God can know all possible combinations of human choices/first causes, and plan for all of them, in an entirely rational way.

            So god “plans” to have the atoms in the red sea part once he realizes the situation is right for it, but if the situation had changed right before, god would also “plan” that those same atoms stay put – even though, according to LMs, these atoms are acting in accordance with natural laws. This to me is thinking on the fly and sounds just like humean miracles. Do you want to tell me what controls the atoms in the red sea as to whether they part or not? And do you have any scientific evidence that nature works this way?

          • Luke Breuer

            I simply cannot make the red sea part “naturally” in such a way that it was going to do so on its own from the beginning of the universe unless I know ahead of time that a circumstance will arrive that requires it. The absence of foreknowledge prevents this.

            This is a bald assertion, not a statement. The universe doesn’t ‘create’ Higgs bosons except in certain circumstances. The universe ‘allows’ construction of negative index metamaterials, but only under certain conditions. Why not the same with the Red Sea parting?

            Yes, it seems your universe is one where the atoms in the red sea suddenly part once the right person makes a certain decision at a certain place, and those same atoms in the red sea wouldn’t have parted “naturally” if that decision wasn’t made.

            Yep, and the idea is that there is a proper, knowable in principle, efficient cause. You’ve elided it to “makes a certain decision at a certain place” ⇒ WHOOSH, which is ok, as long as you accept the possibility of there being a proper efficient cause.

            ML is knowing all possible choices one could make, DF is knowing all the choices one will make. Do you agree?

            No, this is absolutely incorrect. See IEP’s Middle Knowledge: it is knowing “all true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom”. It basically assumes that once a creature exists, God knows how that creature would act in all possible circumstances. It turns the creature into a deterministic machine.

            You have to believe that matter in the universe somehow “reacts” to our decisions in some rational manner and that our consciousness determines this. That is a heavy burden of proof which I have heard no evidence for.

            Are you read up on Measurement in Quantum Theory? This isn’t a full answer to your question, but it is much of an answer, and directly responds to your “no evidence” claim.

            All you’ve done is try to take the irrationality of god via humean miracles and transferred that it into nature. You’re still left with a natural world that is less than perfectly rational.

            I don’t see what is irrational. The Red Sea parting under certain circumstances, as I’ve presented it, is proper cause & effect, not magic. What’s irrational?

            But A&E were first cause agents before they ate the fruit, so they were already creating ex nihilo, according to this idea. So you’re wrong here.

            Good grief, it’s as if you think that I said the ability to create ex nihilo is a sufficient condition for being a ‘god’, instead of merely a necessary condition. Slow down a bit.

            TT: If our world is world w, and god “has knowledge of all the possible worlds” then god creates our world knowing everything that will happen, i.e. with divine foreknowledge.

            LB: Your wording appears to assume a block universe; is this your intent? Specifically: when God creates world w, he is creating a block universe. Do you hold to that?

            TT: I am not assuming eternalism here. Many theists who are presentists hold that god can know the future even if it doesn’t exist. WLC is an example.

            Okay then, who says that once God kicks off our world—via something like the Big Bang—that he immediately knows all counterfactuals of creaturely freedom—which is what Middle Knowledge actually is, contrary to your conception of it. Middle knowledge is an element of “everything that will happen”.

            Because miracle A would only make sense in the context of a certain event, and not others.

            Yeah you’re going to have to flesh that out for me to make any sense of it.

            Thus god would have to make the atoms in the red sea part once he became aware that the conditions were right for them to part. That’s a humean miracle.

            He couldn’t have pre-programmed the atoms in the Red Sea to part only under the right conditions? You keep asserting that God couldn’t do things like this, but I’ve yet to see anything like a solid argument for it.

            I’m not at all convinced this one-liner says anything to the effect of negating my charge.

            What you’re doing is taking the author at his word for the sentences you like, and discarding the sentences you don’t like. You’re welcome to do this, but it means that you must make your own argument, instead of just using the author’s argument.

            How could god plan something physically happen in nature if he had no idea if the situation on the ground would ever be right for it?

            The same way I make multiple different plans in my head for various contingencies, and then pick the plan that matches the situation which actually obtains. If the situation which actually obtains matches one of the contingencies, then I just act rationally. God knows all contingencies and can think about how to respond in all of them, unlike me.

            So god “plans” to have the atoms in the red sea part once he realizes the situation is right for it, but if the situation had changed right before, god would also “plan” that those same atoms stay put – even though, according to LMs, these atoms are acting in accordance with natural laws.

            Can you define “natural laws”? Apparently philosophers of science are very undecided on that; see Evan Fales’ Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles and blog article The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature.

            This to me is thinking on the fly and sounds just like humean miracles. Do you want to tell me what controls the atoms in the red sea as to whether they part or not? And do you have any scientific evidence that nature works this way?

            No, I don’t know the efficient cause nor do I have scientific evidence; we’re talking about rationality, not empiricism. That it “sounds like humean miracles” isn’t an argument, it’s an intuition. It’s sounding like you really cannot come up with an argument, and are thus continually hemming and hawing. Why don’t you generate a formal, numbered argument, which moves from premises to conclusions? Surely you can do this? It seems like it would clear up a lot, very quickly.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            This is a bald assertion, not a statement. The universe doesn’t ‘create’ Higgs bosons except in certain circumstances. The universe ‘allows’ construction of negative index metamaterials, but only under certain conditions. Why not the same with the Red Sea parting?

            Because seas don’t part according to our thoughts. That’s pseudoscience and religious nonsense. There is absolutely nothing scientific about your view about LMs regarding the way the physical universe works. It’s on the same paltry level of facts as The Secret is. Yes lots of things happen only sometimes, but where in the laws of physics are the description for Christian miracles, since after all, according to your they’re 100% natural?

            Yep, and the idea is that there is a proper, knowable in principle, efficient cause. You’ve elided it to “makes a certain decision at a certain place” ⇒ WHOOSH, which is ok, as long as you accept the possibility of there being a proper efficient cause.

            And what epistemology do you use to to know this efficient cause exists and how can you be sure it exists? Is it falsifiable? You’re making claims about the way the physical universe works, so your making a scientific claim when you say the universe works this way. Where is your evidence?

            No, this is absolutely incorrect. See IEP’s Middle Knowledge: it is knowing “all true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom”. It basically assumes that once a creature exists, God knows how that creature would act in all possible circumstances.

            I agree with your definitions and that’s what I meant but wrote poorly.

            Are you read up on Measurement in Quantum Theory? This isn’t a full answer to your question, but it is much of an answer, and directly responds to your “no evidence” claim.

            I am a bit yes, and I attended the World Science Fest this year and got to watch some of the world’s top physicists discuss this very issue. I even got to see and meet Sean Carroll. What interpretation of QM allows for the physics required by your universe where atoms in the sea can suddenly defy the laws of physics in response to human thoughts?

            I don’t see what is irrational. The Red Sea parting under certain circumstances, as I’ve presented it, is proper cause & effect, not magic. What’s irrational?

            Your universe is one where atoms behave in pattern X due to human choices that do not directly affect those atoms (like deciding to wave your hand over the sea), when they never behave that way in all other circumstances. That is magic. What force controls the behavior of the atoms and what intelligence, if any, sustains it? Does it violate the law of the conservation of energy?

            Good grief, it’s as if you think that I said the ability to create ex nihilo is a sufficient condition for being a ‘god’, instead of merely a necessary condition.

            Remember Luke, we’re arguing over the particulars of a ridiculous fairytale, so cut me some slack. But to your point, eating from the tree didn’t allow A&E to be first cause agents, they already were. So eating the fruit did nothing to enhance their abilities in this respect contrary to how you made it sound.

            Okay then, who says that once God kicks off our world—via something like the Big Bang—that he immediately knows all counterfactuals of creaturely freedom

            Didn’t you argue that god knows what we’d do in any given situation even if those situations never physically arise?

            Yeah you’re going to have to flesh that out for me to make any sense of it.

            OK, say miracle A is the resurrection of Jesus, but suppose the world god created never evolved human beings at all because god can’t know the future. Then miracle A would make no sense in a world with no human beings. Make sense?

            He couldn’t have pre-programmed the atoms in the Red Sea to part only under the right conditions? You keep asserting that God couldn’t do things like this, but I’ve yet to see anything like a solid argument for it.

            No, not without divine foreknowledge that the right conditions would be met at some point in the future. Otherwise god is setting up something in the hopes that it will get used, like me setting a rabbit trap in the hopes that a rabbit will hop over it. What happens to the trap if the rabbit never comes? And isn’t the trap verifiable even if it is never used? And you have to argue from a scientific perspective, where all this potential Leibnizian miracle inducing behavior is resting in the atoms in case conditions are met. Where is this pre-programming?

            What you’re doing is taking the author at his word for the sentences you like, and discarding the sentences you don’t like.

            The author didn’t make an argument, he just assured us god “ought” to able to do this, just like I’m constantly assured that god “ought” to have a good reason why he used the evolutionary process with all its death and suffering to create us. It’s your job to produce the reason or argument why this is so.

            The same way I make multiple different plans in my head for various contingencies, and then pick the plan that matches the situation which actually obtains. If the situation which actually obtains matches one of the contingencies, then I just act rationally. God knows all contingencies and can think about how to respond in all of them, unlike me.

            But by acting “rationally” you are responding to events in real time and that would be perfectly consistent with humean miracles.

            Can you define “natural laws”? Apparently philosophers of science are very undecided on that; see Evan Fales’ Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles and blog article The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature.

            By natural laws, I’m using the commonly understood meaning to mean the laws of physics, a “theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present.” I’m not at all convinced that LMs are compatible with the laws of physics and are really just violations of them.

            No, I don’t know the efficient cause nor do I have scientific evidence; we’re talking about rationality, not empiricism.

            No, we are talking about scientific empiricism because you’re making ontological claims about the way the physical universe works.

            Why don’t you generate a formal, numbered argument, which moves from premises to conclusions?

            I’m not sure a formal argument would be right for this kind of debate. The central question to you is how god creates a miracle in a person’s life that is fine tuned for a specific purpose, if god cannot know what future choices that person will make because he lacks divine foreknowledge, and is also unable to break any laws of physics because his rationality prevents this?

            So far the best answer you’ve given is that god covers all possible outcomes by making the single physical universe he created contain all the potential miracles for all possible free choices people could make. Does that about sum up your answer?

          • Luke Breuer

            Because seas don’t part according to our thoughts.

            Does anything happen “according to our thoughts”? That is, do our thoughts exert any causation on reality, whatsoever?

            And what epistemology do you use to to know this efficient cause exists and how can you be sure it exists?

            An epistemology which presumes perfect rationality which is increasingly knowable, without limit (e.g. no horizontal asymptote). I’m not “sure” of this; I must presume it.

            Is it falsifiable?

            Is Neurath’s boat “falsifiable”? Your question makes no sense; something can only be falsified by holding something else to be constant and true. There is no “view from nowhere”; there is no “neutral ground”. I suggest reading Intersubjectivity is Key; it sheds light on this matter. You may also find this recent comment enlightening.

            You’re making claims about the way the physical universe works, so your making a scientific claim when you say the universe works this way. Where is your evidence?

            There is no such thing as “evidence that reality is perfectly rational”. To think that there is, is to not understand how thinking works. I suggest reading Mortimer Adler’s Ten Philosophical Mistakes; you seem to be committing some of the mistakes he describes and then criticizes.

            What interpretation of QM allows for the physics required by your universe where atoms in the sea can suddenly defy the laws of physics in response to human thoughts?

            You must answer a prior question, first: see my first reply in this comment. If our thoughts cannot impact reality at all, then clearly no such [sound] interpretation exists. If our thoughts can impact reality, then we can ask how, and work our way to an answer to your question. I suppose I can say this much: why is it that when I measure a photon by choosing a horizontal or vertical polarization, that I find it polarized horizontally or vertically? That is, why does the photon appear to cater to the way I want to look at it?

            Your universe is one where atoms behave in pattern X due to human choices that do not directly affect those atoms (like deciding to wave your hand over the sea), when they never behave that way in all other circumstances. That is magic. What force controls the behavior of the atoms and what intelligence, if any, sustains it? Does it violate the law of the conservation of energy?

            I do not see how this clause follows anything: “human choices that do not directly affect those atoms”. This is precisely why I brought up measurement in QM, plus the interaction problem with Cartesian dualism. Both of these concepts are crucial to any intelligent discussion of this issue. I also wish you would read Evan Fales’ 2008 Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles, as he talks about how God could cause particle-and-field events. It is a very complex matter and I’ve long since returned the [expensive!] book to the library. How God could affect particle-and-field reality provides an “upper bound” on how thought could affect particle-and-field reality. Oh, Fales assumes that conservation of mass–energy is conserved.

            But to your point, eating from the tree didn’t allow A&E to be first cause agents, they already were. So eating the fruit did nothing to enhance their abilities in this respect contrary to how you made it sound.

            I did not mean to make it sound that way. Indeed, contra those who want to say that the serpent was like Prometheus, granting fire to humans, I see the serpent as pretending to offer A&E a shortcut to becoming like God. The serpent lied about A&E gaining additional abilities via eating of the fruit; indeed, their abilities were severely damaged! They believed they could decide what was good vs. evil, instead of discovering it! History is full of those who thought they could decide what is good vs. evil. It ain’t pretty.

            Didn’t you argue that god knows what we’d do in any given situation even if those situations never physically arise?

            I said that God knows all possible combinations of first causes. This is very different from saying that once some set of first causes have happened, everything else can be predicted deterministically. The difference between a block universe and a growing block universe, for example, appears profound and philosophically very important for our current discussion. From what I can tell, you keep presuming a block universe, where all first causes occur at the same time: the beginning.

            OK, say miracle A is the resurrection of Jesus, but suppose the world god created never evolved human beings at all because god can’t know the future. Then miracle A would make no sense in a world with no human beings. Make sense?

            Yeah, and so God could make reality such that if moral agents arise and if they go evil, then Jesus is Incarnated rationally, dies, and is resurrected rationally. For Jesus to be resurrected would require antecedent conditions which may or may not obtain.

            Otherwise god is setting up something in the hopes that it will get used, like me setting a rabbit trap in the hopes that a rabbit will hop over it. What happens to the trap if the rabbit never comes? And isn’t the trap verifiable even if it is never used?

            The trap exists whether it is sprung. But yeah, if the trap is never sprung, it’s like the world being 100% red: we wouldn’t know that it is. (IIRC this is a standard philosophical meme, specifically about 100% redness.)

            And you have to argue from a scientific perspective, where all this potential Leibnizian miracle inducing behavior is resting in the atoms in case conditions are met. Where is this pre-programming?

            The pre-programming would be in the laws of nature as they truly are, which is different from our current approximations of them. As to showing that it exists, we’d have to do it in the same way that we show that negative index metamaterials are possible. Some truth cannot be merely pointed to; it must be constructed. See my discussion of davar and emet as well as this comment, to which I linked much earlier as an [building block] example of why I believe in Christianity.

            But by acting “rationally” you are responding to events in real time and that would be perfectly consistent with humean miracles.

            This seems patently false: Humean miracles are law-breaking events; they are irrational by definition.

            By natural laws, I’m using the commonly understood meaning to mean the laws of physics

            That’s fine, but it means that your understanding of physics might be just as wrong as how classical physicists understood reality to be before the quantum revolution. Specifically, it means that while you might understand certain realms of how particles and fields operate, you don’t know if there are different realms (non-ceteris paribus) where things work quite differently. I have friends working on foundational QM which could utterly devastate Sean Carroll’s Seriously, The Laws Underlying The Physics of Everyday Life Really Are Completely Understood, for example. Sadly, I cannot say more at the current moment, except that these friends work at the same place as Sean Carroll.

            No, we are talking about scientific empiricism because you’re making ontological claims about the way the physical universe works.

            Talking ontology means talking metaphysics, not physics. All science can ever do is make pictures of the thing. The picture of the thing is not the thing. Ceci n’est pas une pipe.

            So far the best answer you’ve given is that god covers all possible outcomes by making the single physical universe he created contain all the potential miracles for all possible free choices people could make. Does that about sum up your answer?

            Sure.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Does anything happen “according to our thoughts”? That is, do our thoughts exert any causation on reality, whatsoever?

            I am not aware of our thoughts having any causal effect on physical matter. Thoughts are caused by the physical brain. If a thought is part of a physical chain of events, like your action to do something, that is not the same as a thought itself causing reality to change.

            An epistemology which presumes perfect rationality which is increasingly knowable,

            What is “perfect rationality”?

            Is Neurath’s boat “falsifiable”? Your question makes no sense; something can only be falsified by holding something else to be constant and true.

            And your worldview is supposed to be based on it acting perfectly rational. Wouldn’t that be a true constant?

            There is no such thing as “evidence that reality is perfectly rational”.

            I’m not asking for that, I’m asking you for any scientific evidence that the universe behaves according to Leibniz’s view on miracles. If you make a claim about the nature of the universe, you ought to have evidence about it.

            I suppose I can say this much: why is it that when I measure a photon by choosing a horizontal or vertical polarization, that I find it polarized horizontally or vertically? That is, why does the photon appear to cater to the way I want to look at it?

            This is where your interpretation of QM comes in. I already know the question, I’m looking for your answer based on what you think is true.

            I do not see how this clause follows anything: “human choices that do not directly affect those atoms”. This is precisely why I brought up measurement in QM, plus the interaction problem with Cartesian dualism.

            By “human choices that do not directly affect those atoms” I mean a human physically parting the red sea, to continue with our analogy, because obviously doing so would affect the atoms in the sea. So far you have not told me what QM interpretation you favor and how it allows for human thoughts to part seas.

            How God could affect particle-and-field reality provides an “upper bound” on how thought could affect particle-and-field reality. Oh, Fales assumes that conservation of mass–energy is conserved.

            Then I can just assume it isn’t.

            That’s fine, but it means that your understanding of physics might be just as wrong as how classical physicists understood reality to be before the quantum revolution.

            Of course, but with the standard model now complete, we have a very good understanding of the physics that affects everyday life. What’s missing is quantum gravity. Why should anyone seriously think that the laws of physics will contain within them laws governing Leibnizian miracles? When I hear a good persuasive case that it is wrong or contains more than the missing quantum gravity I will consider it.

            Talking ontology means talking metaphysics, not physics.

            Ontology covers both metaphysics and physics. “Black holes exist” is an ontological claim that falls fully within the domain of physics. Other ontological claims fall with in metaphysics. Your claim is scientific because you’re claiming that the laws of physics contain within them LMs. But where is your scientific evidence? If you don’t have any, just say so and we’ll move on.

            Sure.

            Where are these potential miracles stored? It seems so implausible and unless you have evidence that the physical universe works this way, your claim is 100% faith based.

          • Luke Breuer

            I am not aware of our thoughts having any causal effect on physical matter. Thoughts are caused by the physical brain. If a thought is part of a physical chain of events, like your action to do something, that is not the same as a thought itself causing reality to change.

            It seems like you are well on your way to eliminative materialism, perhaps not by choice, but by logical inevitability, from your chosen premises. Feser talks about this in Last Superstition, but I haven’t fully read that bit yet. You might like Sean Carroll’s Downward Causation article; it seems to agree with your stance, here. You would also seem to agree with Jonathan:

            Jonathan Pearce: I think the goal is to have a bottom up worldview, where you establish the building bricks and see what building arises. I think top down approaches are dangerous, and I think this is what many people, particularly theists, do. They start with a conclusion, and massage evidence to fit. I will happily throw out conclusions, as I have done many times in the past, if that is where the path leads.

            This seems contradicted by top-down and bottom-up design, as well as the approaches given by Aristotle and Bertrand Russell given in the first two pages of de Koninck’s The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science. But anyhow, it seems like you have the same approach as Jonathan; would you agree?

            I also wonder whether you would would agree with Jonathan Pearce’s “discontinuous ‘I'”, which he later blogged about: The “I”, personhood and abstract objects. If so, it seems to me that the metaphysical stance you’re taking is self-eroding. Soon if not already, I suspect that Jonathan won’t be able to assign any responsibility whatsoever to humans for their actions, other than completely arbitrary responsibility. See, for example, Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility.

            The Thinker, if thoughts cannot have a causal effect on particle-and-field reality, I think our conversation about YHWH is done, for he is not physical, he is closer to pure thought. Or, if you’re going to place God on an entirely different ‘plane’ than humans, you will be talking about non-imago dei beings, fulfilling Rom 1:22–23; I violently disagree with that anthropology of man, and am not sure I even want to talk about it.

            So much else depends on your response to the above that I’ll stop here.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Luke, I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your comments. But let’s give this thread a rest. I simply don’t have the time for this level of commitment and I am also debating another theist on his blog. Trying to do this and work 9+ hours a day and have a personal life is impossible. However I look forward to more enlightening discussions in the future.

            And please, no violence here. I’m an atheist not a Canaanite!

          • Luke Breuer

            Ok. At some point though, I will want to pursue “I am not aware of our thoughts having any causal effect on physical matter.” and eliminative materialism. When you have time. :-)

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Great question, but that ain’t gonna be answered quickly…

          • Luke Breuer

            Man, it’s too bad I’m such an impatient person. :-p

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            No prob. I should have more time by the weekend, maybe Friday. Feel free to ask me any questions in the meantime and if I don’t answer by the weekend send me a reminder.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Ok Luke, do you have any evidence of our thoughts having any causal effect on physical matter?

            And do you really believe Rom 1:22–23? I’ve come to hate much of Paul’s writings. And your ‘good ol’ Bible’ in Psalm 53:1 and Romans 1:19-21 directly insults me by claiming that I’m a fool for not accepting the wild superstition believed by these Iron Age desert dwellers. If insulting your opponent is a bad thing, then why does the Bible do it? Why doesn’t it just present its logic and evidence?

          • Luke Breuer

            Ok Luke, do you have any evidence of our thoughts having any causal effect on physical matter?

            I’m not sure how the practice of science makes sense without assuming that. If there is no freedom to choose which experiment is done based on knowledge in one’s head, that would seem to pose problems. But I’m pretty new to thinking in these ways; I haven’t read much philosophy of mind. So, I could be completely wrong. I do, however, want to emphasize that sometimes beliefs are required as assumptions. Knock out enough foundation and the building will collapse.

            And do you really believe Rom 1:22–23? I’ve come to hate much of Paul’s writings. And your ‘good ol’ Bible’ in Psalm 53:1 and Romans 1:19-21 directly insults me by claiming that I’m a fool for not accepting the wild superstition believed by these Iron Age desert dwellers. If insulting your opponent is a bad thing, then why does the Bible do it? Why doesn’t it just present its logic and evidence?

            If isought, then purely “logic and evidence” will not suffice to change hearts, but only minds. As to being insulted, you really haven’t a leg to stand on, given all the shit you’ve thrown in my face. As to “wild superstition”: weasel word.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Let’s see you actually make an argument for incoherence; I don’t see one, yet. I suspect you don’t understand how God can be responsible for some first causes and us for other first causes

            “God is responsible for this first cause” is exactly as nonsensical as saying “John was the victim of this victimless crime”. No one and no-thing can be responsible for a first cause, that is what first cause means.

            how him acting in the world need be no difference from how we act in the world

            Cool, so what did God do recently?

            you seem to want to say that his actions would need to be Humean miracles

            We have already established that there is nothing that you would accept as a “Humean miracle” to begin with, you couldn´t even imagine a hypothetical “Humean miracle” – but that´s not how anyone else uses this phrase, a “Humean miracle” for the rest of us (including the “Hume” who gives this phrase its name) would be the resurrection of Jesus Christ for example. If you keep bringing this phrase up, and stick with your idiosyncratic and maximally useless definition (maximally useless because even you yourself don´t know what it would mean and you cannot even come up with a single hypothetical example for it), then you are being dishonest.

          • Luke Breuer

            “God is responsible for this first cause” is exactly as nonsensical as saying “John was the victim of this victimless crime”. No one and no-thing can be responsible for a first cause, that is what first cause means.

            How one could be responsible for things that one could not have done otherwise (modulo noise/randomness for which one was not responsible) is a mystery to me. But ok, I am somewhat alright with switching “is responsible for” and “has as part of his identity”. Under this rubric, who you are is your first causes. I know of no other sane way to attribute responsibility—all other ways seem utterly arbitrary.

            Cool, so what did God do recently?

            Red herring.

            We have already established that there is nothing that you would accept as a “Humean miracle” to begin with,

            All this means is that I would always reject a god-of-the-gaps explanation, a final cause-needing-no-efficient cause explanation.

            you couldn´t even imagine a hypothetical “Humean miracle” -

            That’s because anything I can robustly imagine happening, I suspect can happen in a rational manner. God creating a square circle and us all believing that is what it is would be a Humean miracle, I suppose. Although I’d suspect Satan in that, not God.

            but that´s not how anyone else uses this phrase, a “Humean miracle” for the rest of us (including the “Hume” who gives this phrase its name) would be the resurrection of Jesus Christ for example.

            Yep, and an atomic bomb blast in the fifteenth century would have been a Humean miracle, from any extant human’s perspective. Such a person would be wrong if he/she saw that as a law-breaking event, except in the sense that it broke his/her own picture of the laws. With regard to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, just review the terrible Star Trek Voyager episode Mortal Coil, where Neelix gets resurrected after 18 hours of being dead. Is that a Humean miracle? Or are you pronouncing, now, given your current scientific knowledge, that we will never, ever be able to do what Seven of Nine did to Neelix?

            If you keep bringing this phrase up, and stick with your idiosyncratic and maximally useless definition (maximally useless because even you yourself don´t know what it would mean and you cannot even come up with a single hypothetical example for it), then you are being dishonest.

            Actually, I said precisely “what it would mean”:

            LB: My understanding of a Humean miracle is that it is a jump discontinuity in the rationality of reality. Instead of all changes in reality being modeled as continuous deformations such that one can understand how the change happened in the finest of detail, a Humean miracle would seem to present permanent obstacles to understanding how the change happened. And so, a Humean miracle is a god-of-the-gaps event.

            So what would be examples of Humean miracles? Well, I’m not sure I can describe them in any way other than as being irrational. I know so little about what could possibly happen in reality that I’m not sure I can describe any events as impossible.

            AS: In that case, introducing the concept given your definition makes no sense for us, because it is inconceivable even to yourself what it would actually look like in reality.

            What we mean by it is an event that violates what we know to be possible and that has theological significance – of course that could be super-powerful aliens instead of Gods, but that is pragmatically a distinction without a difference. And it is this kind of “Humean miracles” that a) do occur if christianity is true and that b) christians (and other theists) are more prone to accept as an explanation, as The Thinker has pointed out.

            The clause which I am precisely questioning is “what we know to be possible”. You seem very confident in what you “know to be possible”. Ironically, I’m very skeptical of the claim that our current knowledge of reality restricts what is possible nearly as much as you intimate. I pretty much expect consistency and rationality, and little more. I expect there to be constantly new and awesome vistas of what is possible, ad infinitum.

          • Andy_Schueler

            That’s because anything I can robustly imagine happening, I suspect can happen in a rational manner. God creating a square circle and us all believing that is what it is would be a Humean miracle, I suppose.

            Lets call that a “Lukean miracle” and keep the meaning of “Humean miracle” as it always was, a law breaking even with theological significance, like the resurrection of Jesus.

            Yep, and an atomic bomb blast in the fifteenth century would have been a Humean miracle, from any extant human’s perspective.

            Indeed, and given that something even remotely like that has never ever happened, there is thus no evidence that Gods or aliens with god-like powers intervened in human history at any point in time.

            Such a person would be wrong if he/she saw that as a law-breaking event, except in the sense that it broke his/her own picture of the laws. With regard to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, just review the terrible Star Trek Voyager episode Mortal Coil, where Neelix gets resurrected after 18 hours of being dead. Is that a Humean miracle?

            Any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. So yes, that would be a Humean miracle – and something like that has never happened, although christianity postulates that such events can happen and did happen in the past. That´s the entire point.

            You seem very confident in what you “know to be possible”.

            Wrong.I certainly believe that it is possible that all of science is complete BS and just seems to work by accident so far. Just like I believe it to be “possible” that all the particles that make up you spontaneously tunnel to the surface of the planet Venus, recreating your body for a brief moment before it evaporizes. That certainly is absolutely “possible” – pretty much everything is “possible”.
            That´s all completely irrelevant though, the point is that events like the resurrection of Jesus – and I don´t care how you want to call them, “Humean miracles”, “Lukean miracles”, whatever – do not happen, although they are both possible and plausible if christianity were true and a few definitively DID happen if christianity is true.

          • Luke Breuer

            Lets call that a “Lukean miracle” and keep the meaning of “Humean miracle” as it always was, a law breaking even with theological significance, like the resurrection of Jesus.

            Oh, if you want to define “Humean miracle” as:

                 (1) breaking my understanding of the laws of nature

            and not

                 (2) breaking the true laws of nature

            , then I’m with you. I think the difference between (1) and (2) is crucial. The picture of the thing is not the thing.

            That´s all completely irrelevant though, the point is that events like the resurrection of Jesus – and I don´t care how you want to call them, “Humean miracles”, “Lukean miracles”, whatever – do not happen, although they are both possible and plausible if christianity were true and a few definitively DID happen if christianity is true.

            And yet, Karl Popper disagrees about whether you can know what you put in italics—”do not happen“:

            Every experimental physicist knows those surprising and inexplicable apparent ‘effects’ which in his laboratory can perhaps even be reproduced for some time, but which finally disappear without trace. Of course, no physicist would say that in such a case that he had made a scientific discovery (though he might try to rearrange his experiments so as to make the effect reproducible). Indeed the scientifically significant physical effect may be defined as that which can be regularly reproduced by anyone who carries out the appropriate experiment in the way prescribed. No serious physicist would offer for publication, as a scientific discovery, any such ‘occult effect’, as I propose to call it – one for whose reproduction he could give no instructions. The ‘discovery’ would be only too soon rejected as chimerical, simply because attempts to test it would lead to negative results. (It follows that any controversy over the question whether events which are in principle unrepeatable and unique ever do occur cannot be decided by science: it would be a metaphysical controversy.) (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 23–24)

            Instead, all you can say is that science have not and could not discover (1)-miracles. For once science ‘discovers’ (1)-miracles, they are no longer miracles, for our understanding of “the laws of nature” would have changed. Only if you say that science alone allows you to say “I know” does your statement make sense, and we both know that Logical Positivism is a failed enterprise—science isn’t the only way to know things.

            Oh, and there are medical events that doctors have called “miracle” aplenty. It’s just that you assume that anything which actually happens is not a (2)-miracle: at most it is a (1)-miracle, and you believe that it’ll eventually just be a phenomenon which we’ll completely understand.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Oh, if you want to define “Humean miracle” as:

            (1) breaking my understanding of the laws of nature

            and not

            (2) breaking the true laws of nature

            , then I’m with you. I think the difference between (1) and (2) is crucial.

            This difference is completely and utterly irrelevant, the only thing that matters is that the world tends to behave orderly, and when something a) violates this order and b) has theological significance, it is a Humean miracle, period. You can point out that it is in principle unknowable whether this was then the work of Gods or super-powerful aliens – I don´t care, I always acknowledged this, Gods and super-powerful aliens are in principle indistinguishable.

            What matters is that this does not happen.

            Instead, all you can say is that science have not and could not discover (1)-miracles. For once science ‘discovers’ (1)-miracles, they are no longer miracles, for our understanding of “the laws of nature” would have changed.

            Completely and utterly false, if you lose a leg in a car accident, and the leg regrows after you pray for healing, then this would be a scientifically verifiable “Humean miracle”. Yes, your prayer might have been answered by an alien instead of a God, but that´s not the point – the point is that it doesn´t happen.

            Oh, and there are medical events that doctors have called “miracle” aplenty.

            Because “miracle” has a colloquial meaning – Germany beating Brazil 7:1 was a “miracle” in the colloquial sense, something that is extraordinarily unlikely.

          • Luke Breuer

            This difference is completely and utterly irrelevant,

            I completely and utterly disagree. An event that is god-of-the-gaps is very, very different from an event that can be eventually comprehended—all Four Causes of it. Quoting from WP’s Of Miracles:

            Now, a miracle is defined as: “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.” Laws of nature, however, are established by “a firm and unalterable experience”; they rest upon the exceptionless testimony of countless people in different places and times.

            Hume doesn’t seem to allow for (1) vs. (2); he seems to be asserting (2). Shall I dig into this? I think it is important that if we say Humean, we mean what Hume meant, not what you want to mean. If Hume meant (2), then you can say Andy-miracle if you’d like, to mean what you want the term to mean.

            What matters is that this does not happen.

            Douglas Osheroff’s discovery of superfluidity in He-3 is a great example of transgression of what “firm and unalterable experience” has taught us. We had models for how He-3 works, and as Osheroff cooled his sample down lower and lower, it behaved as predicted. Then he got a stray data point—not where it should have been. Induction—that new experiences will be like old ones—said it was stray and to be ignored. But he kept open the possibility that maybe it was a new phenomenon, that our current understanding of the laws of nature were incomplete and failed to describe new regimes. And so, he won a Nobel Prize.

            So I’m really not sure what you say “does not happen”. Are you aware of how tricky it is to even say what a “law of nature” is, in philosophy? The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature is a great exploration of this, especially for those with a bit of computer science background. Evan Fales talks about this in his Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles.

            Completely and utterly false, if you lose a leg in a car accident, and the leg regrows after you pray for healing, then this would be a scientifically verifiable “Humean miracle”.

            Medical doctors see plenty of Humean miracles, then. Sometimes someone is healed and they have no idea how it happened. To which the following is a possible reply:

            Because “miracle” has a colloquial meaning – Germany beating Brazil 7:1 was a “miracle” in the colloquial sense, something that is extraordinarily unlikely.

            How do we know the difference between what “is extraordinarily unlikely” and what “is entirely impossible”? If a doctor, trained in the relevant field, has no idea how some healing event happened, how on earth is that not a Humean miracle?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Hume doesn’t seem to allow for (1) vs. (2); he seems to be asserting (2). Shall I dig into this?

            No, because it is a red herring. The distinction is irrelevant because it is pragmatically unknowable and because either one does not happen.

            But he kept open the possibility that maybe it was a new phenomenon, that our current understanding of the laws of nature were incomplete…

            Meaning that we could figure out tomorrow that all of science is BS and people can actually spontaneously rise from the dead. No wait…
            There is a difference between “incomplete” and “spectacularly wrong”. It is absolutely possible that we will discover tomorrow that the current scientific model for the shape of the earth – an oblate spheroid with an equatorial bulge and one of the poles being slightly closer to the center than the other – is incomplete and needs some corrections. It is for all that we know completely impossible that we discover tomorrow that the ancient babylonians were right all along and the earth is indeed a flat circle and all “improvements” that science made wrt the shape of the earth were actually steps in the wrong direction and produced a more and more false picture of what the earth looks like.

            Medical doctors see plenty of Humean miracles, then. Sometimes someone is healed and they have no idea how it happened.

            If I observe you praying to God to resurrect your son who had been killed in an accident, and your son actually rises from the dead – it would not be the case that I “have no idea how that happened”, I rather could write books about how that could not happen and how it means that either pretty much all we thought we knew about the human body is BS or that we just witnessed a real miracle.

            How do we know the difference between what “is extraordinarily unlikely” and what “is entirely impossible”? If a doctor, trained in the relevant field, has no idea how some healing event happened, how on earth is that not a Humean miracle?

            If you go to Lourdes, pray, and get healed – no one will care about a healing that is just “not understood”, spontaneous healings that are “not understood” are a dime a dozen. Your “miracle” will be recognized as one by the Lourdes Medical Beaureau if Doctors come to conclusion that what happened to you was impossible based on what they know about how the human body works – it is an assessment based on what you know, not based on what you don´t know.

          • Luke Breuer

            No, because it is a red herring. The distinction is irrelevant because it is pragmatically unknowable and because either one does not happen.

            Nature never acts differently from how we expect? How can you say that (1) does not happen? I gave you an explicit example of it happening—the discovery of superfluidity in He-3!

            There is a difference between “incomplete” and “spectacularly wrong”.

            So was classical physics “incomplete”, or “spectacularly wrong”? Was Newtonian physics “incomplete”, or “spectacularly wrong”? After all, GR employs some fantastically different concepts than F = ma. Quantum physics is very different from billiard-ball classical physics.

            If I observe you praying to God to resurrect your son who had been killed in an accident, and your son actually rises from the dead – it would not be the case that I “have no idea how that happened”, I rather could write books about how that could not happen and how it means that either pretty much all we thought we knew about the human body is BS or that we just witnessed a real miracle.

            What’s the difference between a “real” miracle and a “fake” miracle? Is the difference whether or not we currently have the know-how to do the miracle? It would seem that if some small enclave figured out how to do scientific research at a massively faster pace than anywhere else on the earth, that group would soon be able to do “real miracles”, where the “real” is maintained if they refuse to tell anyone how they did them. Would such an enclave be ‘gods’?

            Your “miracle” will be recognized as one by the Lourdes Medical Beaureau if Doctors come to conclusion that what happened to you was impossible based on what they know about how the human body works – it is an assessment based on what you know, not based on what you don´t know.

            Ok. It is simply the case that you are much more confident in what you know than I am. My PhD ChemE uncle told me that many discoveries are made by those who didn’t know that what they were doing was impossible. I believe him. You appear to be exhibiting the scientific version of popular caricatures of religious, science-impeding dogmatism. “No matter what future science will be done, this will always be impossible!” I prefer to say that we have yet to figure out how “this” would be done, and leave it at that.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Nature never acts differently from how we expect? How can you say that (1) does not happen? I gave you an explicit example of it happening—the discovery of superfluidity in He-3!

            How many times do you intend to try this red herring?

            So was classical physics “incomplete”, or “spectacularly wrong”? Was Newtonian physics “incomplete”, or “spectacularly wrong”? After all, GR employs some fantastically different concepts than F = ma. Quantum physics is very different from billiard-ball classical physics.

            Newtonian physics is not spectacularly wrong, it is not wrong at all – for the physical realms it covers, it is so close to being 100% correct that any deviation from 100% accuracy is not detectable with current technology. Address the example I offered, the evolution of the scientific and prescientific models regarding the shape of the earth was:
            1. Flat disc.
            2. Sphere.
            3. Oblate spheroid.
            4. Oblate spheroid with one pole minutely closer to the center than the other.
            As far as we can tell 1 => 2 => 3 => 4 represents successive improvement, with the model becoming closer and closer to 100% accuracy and the delta of improvement in the model becoming smaller and smaller with each step (i.e. 1=>2 is a huge change, but 3=>4 is a very minor one). Every scientist would acknowledge that this series is likely to be continued by further steps, but I strongly doubt that any scientist would grant the possibility that 1 => 2 => 3 => 4 does not actually represent progress at all, because 1 was true all along and each step of alleged scientific progress was actually a step in the wrong direction. Do you disagree?

            What’s the difference between a “real” miracle and a “fake” miracle? Is the difference whether or not we currently have the know-how to do the miracle? It would seem that if some small enclave figured out how to do scientific research at a massively faster pace than anywhere else on the earth, that group would soon be able to do “real miracles”, where the “real” is maintained if they refuse to tell anyone how they did them. Would such an enclave be ‘gods’?

            How about we talk about this as soon as anyone does perform all those Humean miracles that Jesus allegedly carried out all day long. As long as no one does that – I will resort to pointing out that all the evidence points to such miracles being made up.

            Ok. It is simply the case that you are much more confident in what youknow than I am. My PhD ChemE uncle told me that many discoveries are made by those who didn’t know that what they were doing was impossible. I believe him. You appear to be exhibiting the scientific version of popular caricatures of religious, science-impeding dogmatism. “No matter what future science will be done, this will always be impossible!” I prefer to say that we have yet to figure out how “this” would be done, and leave it at that.

            I´m not one iota more confident than you are, the only difference between us is that you resort to radical skepticism whenever it is convenient to do so / whenever it makes defending your preconceived ideas regarding christianity easier to defend. And if you were consistent, you´d stop making factual claims about anything – how can you possibly know that we will not discover tomorrow that your uncle never said those things and actually said the opposite? You cannot know this with 100% certainty, so stop making factual claims about it. Try consistency for once.

          • Luke Breuer

            How many times do you intend to try this red herring?

            I have no idea why you call it a “red herring”.

            Newtonian physics is not spectacularly wrong, it is not wrong at all – for the physical realms it covers, it is so close to being 100% correct that any deviation from 100% accuracy is not detectable with current technology.

            Indeed. I extend the same argument to resurrection: you appear to think that the realm in which you understand it to be impossible is the only possible realm that could be.

            Address the example I offered, the evolution of the scientific and prescientific models regarding the shape of the earth was

            I see this argument as a red herring; I think resurrection is closer to my examples than yours.

            How about we talk about this as soon as anyone does perform all those Humean miracles that Jesus allegedly carried out all day long. As long as no one does that – I will resort to pointing out that all the evidence points to such miracles being made up.

            Okay.

            I´m not one iota more confident than you are, the only difference between us is that you resort to radical skepticism whenever it is convenient to do so / whenever it makes defending your preconceived ideas regarding christianity easier to defend.

            I disagree.

            And if you were consistent, you´d stop making factual claims about anything – how can you possibly know that we will not discover tomorrow that your uncle never said those things and actually said the opposite? You cannot know this with 100% certainty, so stop making factual claims about it. Try consistency for once.

            This does not follow. That I believe resurrection is possible does not mean that I am going to spend many brain cycles on it, given how much science would have to be done before we stretch the time past about four minutes. I can act as if we aren’t near to figuring out how to do it, without needing to claim that it does not and cannot happen.

          • Andy_Schueler

            What it all boils down to is that if christianity were true, then the kind of miracles that Jesus allegedly carried out all day long are a) possible, b) happened many times and c) are plausible to happen again, yet they never do happen – if you want to call them “Humean miracles” or something different is beside the point, the point is that they do not happen.

          • Luke Breuer

            If humanity nuked itself to oblivion, then the fabrication of iPhones falls into the same category. Is it a miracle when an iPhone is made?

            Unless you want to call Jesus’ miracles “magic” according to this definition, then you are forced to conclude that the have a teleological component. That is, they happened in order to further a specific telos. That telos is fairly well-explained in the Bible; Eph 1:7–10 is a nice, compact summary. God wants unity + diversity, with neither squashing the other. We’ve talked about this many times before, so I will say no more for now.

            What would make prayer work is not [merely] that it is especially fervent or said in the right way, but that it is “in Jesus’ name”, in the same way that a king’s regent would say and do things “in his name”—according to his stated purposes. Otherwise, prayer becomes indistinguishable from instrumental magic—magic which can be used for any purpose of ours. And so, a miracle would become YHWH cooperating with the miracle-worker. Well, when do two people cooperate? When their aims sufficiently align.

            What you seem to be effectively saying is the following:

                 (A) no extra-human power has been detected

            I argue that there are multiple possible reasons:

                 (1) there is no extra-human power available
                 (2) you aren’t looking properly
                 (3) we humans aren’t wanting the right things
                 (4) we humans aren’t wanting in the right ways

            So many discussions treat prayer as merely telos-neutral magic; this makes God out to be an impersonal force, not a personal being. I claim that the Protestant Bible is more than sufficient to correct (3) and (4), and that errors in those domains are what most plagues humanity. Why? Because virtually everything that I see either:

                 (I) attempts to squash diversity
                (II) attempts to eliminate unity

            An excellent example of this is the insidious plan I outlined, whereby a thin, finite ‘common good’ is enforced, with any and all additional conceptions of ‘the good’ forced behind private doors. It is an attempt to have unity by squashing all diversity which would possibly threaten it, instead of e.g. reinforcing people’s abilities to tolerate differences, even strong differences in conceptions of ‘the good’.

            I see Christians doing (I) and (II) as well. You have either metaphysical tyranny, typically propounded by fundamentalists, or contentless liberalism where each person is encouraged to accept “his/her truth”, with no conception of building a bigger and bigger common base. The only “bigger and bigger common base” will be instrumental—science. As to the rest, there is no building of a polis upon some exclusivist morality, some exclusivist conception of the ‘common good’.

            Why be surprised by (A) if (3) and (4) are clearly the case? I’m not. God is a person, not a force.

          • Andy_Schueler

            If humanity nuked itself to oblivion, then the fabrication of iPhones falls into the same category. Is it a miracle when an iPhone is made?

            How is that relevant for anything I said?

            Unless you want to call Jesus’ miracles “magic” according to this definition, then you are forced to conclude that the have a teleological component. That is, they happened in order to further a specific telos.

            Yeah…. and that is exactly what I meant by “theological significance”. And what people like The Thinker and I keep pointing out, is that Jesus allegedly had no problems in performing such Humean miracles all day long for the sake of advancing goals that are intelligible in a religious framework, yet such miracles never happened after his death (that is granting for the sake of the argument that Jesus and his miracles are real of course) for reasons that no christian is able to explain.

            I argue that there are multiple possible reasons:

            (1) there is no extra-human power available
            (2) you aren’t looking properly
            (3) we humans aren’t wanting the right things
            (4) we humans aren’t wanting in the right ways

            Strange, it would be news to me that christianity claims that Jesus resurrected Lazarus, but Lazarus was either:
            2) actually still dead for everyone who didn´t “look properly”
            3) actually still dead for everyone who didn´t “want the right things”
            4) actually still dead for everyone who didn´t “want the right things in the right ways”.
            Same for any other miracle carried out by Jesus. So, 2-4 has to be summarily dismissed under christianity, might still work for a different religion though (you´d have to explain though why there apparently is not a single person on this planet for whom 2-4 demonstrably applies)

          • Luke Breuer

            How is that relevant for anything I said?

            The pattern of your comment was “X allegedly happened, X no longer happens, therefore X is a Humean miracle or whatever else you want to call it.” My iPhone comment matched that pattern, and yet was clearly silly. So, what makes your argument not-silly?

            And what people like The Thinker and I keep pointing out, is that Jesus allegedly had no problems in performing such Humean miracles all day long for the sake of advancing goals that are intelligible in a religious framework, yet such miracles never happened after his death (that is granting for the sake of the argument that Jesus and his miracles are real of course) for reasons that no christian is able to explain.

            Whelp, if the only thing you can know happened is that which science can explore in the Baconian sense, then you can never know that a miracle happened. See also my Logic of Scientific Discovery quotation. And so, history can be full of miracle claims—e.g. Craig Keener on miracles—and you can comfortably dismiss every single one of them. The miracle that you’ll accept is one which turns ‘miracle’ into ‘magic’ in the instrumentalist sense. And the only difference between this kind of magic and science is that science works, as David Bentley Hart argues.

            One of my big arguments is that, based on your metaphysics, seeing miracles would not change your idea of ‘the good’. Correct me if I’m wrong, by telling me how is-observations—e.g. Jesus doing a miracle in front of you—would change how you think you ought to behave, in a way that is anything other than getting more of what you have always wanted. So why would Jesus do a miracle in front of you? Why would God expose you to is-evidence to change your ought? Given your metaphysics, this would be a futile maneuver, wouldn’t it? What could possibly convince you to “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus”?

            Strange, it would be news to me that christianity claims that Jesus resurrected Lazarus, but Lazarus was either:

            How does this follow? You argued that miracles were observed back then but not now; I gave sample reasons. There was no fact/value distinction back in Jesus’ time. See, for example, Form of the Good.

          • Andy_Schueler

            The pattern of your comment was “X allegedly happened, X no longer happens, therefore X is a Humean miracle or whatever else you want to call it.”

            False, my pattern was rather “X would be a set of Humean miracles, X happened if christianity is true, which means that under christianity, Humean miracles:
            a) are possible
            b) happened many times
            c) are plausible to happen again
            d) never actually do happen nowadays for which christians have no explanation”

            Whelp, if the only thing you can know happened is that which science can explore in the Baconian sense, then you can never know that a miracle happened. See also my Logic of Scientific Discovery quotation. And so, history can be full of miracle claims—e.g. Craig Keener on miracles—and you can comfortably dismiss every single one of them. The miracle that you’ll accept is one which turns ‘miracle’ into ‘magic’ in the instrumentalist sense.

            Oh, I can very comfortably dismiss Keener´s “miracles” because all he has is hearsay from the most superstitious societies on this planet (strange how all the resurrections he has collected are from some very remote and tiny african villages) and which doesn´t even survive a few moment of scrutiny (more than half of the “miracles” he describes are completely mundane events that are just rare (and not even exceptionally rare)).
            Here´s what I couldn´t comfortably dismiss: Jesus doing what he allegedly did 2000 years ago – wandering around, having some philosophical debates, feeding the multitude, curing mentally ill people by casting out evil spirits, turning water into wine, calming storms, raising someone from the dead. If christianity is true, Jesus was more than happy to constantly pull off stunts like that to prove that he´s for real to a bunch of ridiculously superstitious people, and christians like you have nothing even remotely resembling an argument for why Jesus was happy to show off his superpowers 2000 years ago while being omni-hidden nowadays.

            One of my big arguments is that, based on your metaphysics, seeing miracles would not change your idea of ‘the good’. Correct me if I’m wrong, by telling me how is-observations—e.g. Jesus doing a miracle in front of you—would change how you think you ought to behave, in a way that is anything other than getting more of what you have always wanted. So why would Jesus do a miracle in front of you? Why would God expose you to is-evidence to change your ought? Given your metaphysics, this would be a futile maneuver, wouldn’t it? What could possibly convince you to “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus”?

            Right now, Jesus, christianity and the Bible are not even on my radar when I think about moral issues. I couldn´t care less (literally) what the Bible or church tradition has to say about any morally relevant issue. And the reason for that is that I am convinced that christianity is a human fabrication, and as such, it contains some good ideas but those good ideas are buried in religious / superfluous verbiage and are further expressed better and more exhaustively by later sources and contemporary thinkers. If Jesus would do what he allegedly did 2000 years ago, I certainly would check out if the guy is indeed for real and try to have a chat with him (and also consider that my judgment regarding the Bible in particular and christianity in general was false).

            How does this follow? You argued that miracles were observed back then but not now; I gave sample reasons.

            And I addressed your reasons.

          • Luke Breuer

            d) never actually do happen nowadays for which christians have no explanation

            This is precisely the point under contention.

            If christianity is true, Jesus was more than happy to constantly pull off stunts like that to prove that he´s for real to a bunch of ridiculously superstitious people,

            What is your justification for calling the Jews under Roman occupation “ridiculously superstitious“?

            and christians like you have nothing even remotely resembling an argument for why Jesus was happy to show off his superpowers 2000 years ago while being omni-hidden nowadays.

            Perhaps our discussion on isought will provide some clarification. And furthermore, why have you rejected the my teleological argument for miracles? Do you think it is unreasonable to consider that (a) YHWH is a person; (b) YHWH would only act according to his interests; (c) therefore YHWH won’t do miracles in a science-y way?

            If Jesus would do what he allegedly did 2000 years ago, I certainly would check out if the guy is indeed for real and try to have a chat with him (and also consider that my judgment regarding the Bible in particular and christianity in general was false).

            Why, other than for the same reason that people want to see magic tricks and then understand how they’re done? For example, articulett over on DC was quite clear that she would want to gain access to miracle powers to get more of what she wants. Would your purpose be any different from curiosity + that?

            And I addressed your reasons.

            Well, if you refuse to further articulate, this tangent dies.

          • Andy_Schueler

            This is precisely the point under contention.

            Yet you never contended it so far, you only tried to come up with excuses for why they do not happen.

            What is your justification for calling the Jews under Roman occupation “ridiculously superstitious”?

            Not necessarily the Jews because only a tiny handful of them believed christian claims about Jesus, the gentiles seemed to have been much more gullible / superstitious than the Jews.

            Example from Acts:

            28:3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire,
            a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
            28:4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand,
            they said one to another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom,
            though he has escaped from the sea, yet Justice has not allowed to live.”
            28:5 However he shook off the creature into the fire, and wasn’t harmed.
            28:6 But they expected that he would have swollen or fallen down dead suddenly, but when they watched for a long time and saw nothing bad happen to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

            Perhaps our discussion on is ⇏ ought will provide some clarification. And furthermore, why have you rejected the my teleological argument for miracles? Do you think it is unreasonable to consider that (a) YHWH is a person; (b) YHWH would only act according to his interests; (c) therefore YHWH won’t do miracles in a science-y way?

            I´m not talking about a science-y way, I´m talking about the Jesus way – from virgin birth over calming the storms to feeding the multitude and curing the blind and finally his own resurrection from the dead, christianity is religion of Humean miracles.

            Why, other than for the same reason that people want to see magic tricks and then understand how they’re done? For example, articulett over on DC was quite clear that she would want to gain access to miracle powers to get more of what she wants. Would your purpose be any different from curiosity + that?

            Yup, I thought that was implied by me talking about checking if he´s “for real” – if he is, he´s obviously someone that would have a lot to teach, if he isn´t for real, then he´s ultimately just a guy like anyone else.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yet you never contended it so far, you only tried to come up with excuses for why they do not happen.

            My emphasis: excellent weasel word. If this is to be your attitude, I’ll let this tangent die as well. I see nothing productive coming out of it.

            Not necessarily the Jews because only a tiny handful of them believed christian claims about Jesus, the gentiles seemed to have been much more gullible / superstitious than the Jews.

            Ahh, so the measure of “superstitious” is whether they “Believed christian claims about Jesus”. Okay then.

            religion of Humean miracles.

            Which is the same as:

            religion predicated upon actions via mechanisms we currently do not understand, but may understand in the future.

            Which is pretty uninteresting, unless you hold to some sort of progress narrative. I’m pretty sure Hume meant something much more than “mechanisms we currently do not understand”.

            Yup, I thought that was implied by me talking about checking if he´s “for real” – if he is, he´s obviously someone that would have a lot to teach,

            “a lot to teach”—to those willing to learn, to those willing to consider that their current desires/wants may be evil, to those willing to stop self-justifying.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Ahh, so the measure of “superstitious” is whether they “Believed christian claims about Jesus”.

            Erm, no – my example was actually about people believing “Paul was bitten by a snake and survived, ZOMG! He must be like a God or so!!11!”

            Which is pretty uninteresting

            Sure, being born of a virgin, feeding the multitude, curing the blind and the insane, calming the storms, raising people from the dead etc.pp. is all “pretty uninteresting”, I guess that´s why Jesus did it, because he´s just such a boring guy and he wanted to demonstrate how mundane and boring he is – makes total sense.

            “a lot to teach”—to those willing to learn, to those willing to consider that their current desires/wants may be evil, to those willing to stop self-justifying.

            I am willing to learn and I always consider that I might be wrong.

          • Luke Breuer

            Erm, no – my example was actually about people believing “Paul was bitten by a snake and survived, ZOMG! He must be like a God or so!!11!”

            Well, let’s examine what you said:

            LB: What is your justification for calling the Jews under Roman occupation “ridiculously superstitious”?

            AS: Not necessarily the Jews because only a tiny handful of them believed christian claims about Jesus, the gentiles seemed to have been much more gullible / superstitious than the Jews.

            You see that word “because”? You correlated “level of superstition” with “number who believed Christian claims about Jesus”. More Gentiles believed in Jesus than Jews. And so, the Gentiles are “much more gullible / superstitious than the Jews”. You’re welcome to correct what you said, but this is a very clear understanding of what you said.

            Sure, being born of a virgin, feeding the multitude, curing the blind and the insane, calming the storms, raising people from the dead etc.pp. is all “pretty uninteresting”, I guess that´s why Jesus did it, because he´s just such a boring guy and he wanted to demonstrate how mundane and boring he is – makes total sense.

            Ahh, I see: what Jesus said about human thriving and such is completely uninteresting, but the magic that he did? Really cool, please tell me how to do it so I can get more of what I want!!11

            I am willing to learn and I always consider that I might be wrong.

            Perhaps you are in some domains, but not in all. If I don’t like how you interact with me, it’s 100% my problem. Which means: Andy gets to choose how he responds with people and if they don’t like it, too fucking bad. Does it really shock you that maybe Jesus wouldn’t be able to have the kinds of conversations he would want with you, if this is your attitude toward mere mortals? God pretty clearly doesn’t want respect due to his power to compel, else sending Jesus to die on a cross is a pretty piss-poor way to do so. It’s as if God cares about what is true, and is attempting to get us to see that.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Well, let’s examine what you said:

            Since you are only interested in quote mining, I can only conclude that you find Acts 28 as embarrassing as I find it funny.

            Ahh, I see: what Jesus said about human thriving and such is completely uninteresting, [1] but the magic that he did? Really cool[2], please tell me how to do it so I can get more of what I want!!11 [3]

            1. I never said this, this is purely your fabrication and has no basis in anything I have ever said. What I actually said is that I consider the NT to contain some good ideas, but overall being overrated and inferior even to the best pre-christian sources on morality (e.g. Aristotle), and what I further said was that I´d happily revisit those views if there would be evidence for christianity not being made up by men for men / evidence for Jesus being not just some guy.

            2. See, as I keep pointing out – you have nothing even remotely resembling a rational answer as to why Jesus allegedly was happy to carry out Humean miracles all day long and why all of this stopped with his ascension, all you have is snide remarks but no arguments.

            3. I never said this, never implied this and you are being completely dishonest by insinuating that I ever said or implied anything that even remotely resembles this shit (and it doesn´t even make sense, if Jesus proved that he´s “for real” – that kind of by definition means that *I* cannot do all the fancy shit that he can do).

            If I don’t like how you interact with me, it’s 100% my problem. Which means: Andy gets to choose how he responds with people and if they don’t like it, too fucking bad.

            Well, I´d like you to stop making shit up about me, but if you don´t like that, too fucking bad.

            Does it really shock you that maybe Jesus wouldn’t be able to have the kinds of conversations he would want with you, if this is your attitude toward mere mortals?

            No, since I am convinced that Jesus is imaginary, I am not at all shocked that Jesus doesn´t talk to you.

            God pretty clearly doesn’t want respect due to his power to compel, else sending Jesus to die on a cross is a pretty piss-poor way to do so. It’s as if God cares about what is true, and is attempting to get us to see that.

            Yeah, right, that´s why he apparently thought to himself “hmm… what is the best way for me to teach them that truth matters? I know! I just stay absolutely 100% hidden after I let myself get killed on the cross and provide no evidence for my very existence at all beyond a collection of silly just so stories assembled by primitive men, in a way that is indistinguishable from how all those other “false” religions came into existence”. Makes total sense.

          • Luke Breuer

            Since you are only interested in quote mining, I can only conclude that you find Acts 28 as embarrassing as I find it funny.

            I saw you as making two points, only one of which I was interested in critiquing. Care to better explain by what you meant with the word “because”?

            What I actually said is that I consider the NT to contain some good ideas, but overall being overrated and inferior even to the best pre-christian sources on morality (e.g. Aristotle), and what I further said was that I´d happily revisit those views if there would be evidence for christianity not being made up by men for men / evidence for Jesus being not just some guy.

            The thing is, what Jesus clearly wanted was for people to follow his example, and of their own volition, not so that they’d get e.g. extra power. So since you don’t want to follow his example, why would Jesus doing miracles or talking to you help? You’ve already made up your mind! Jesus was an alright guy, but your conceptions of what “the good life” consists of are superior to his.

            2. See, as I keep pointing out – you have nothing even remotely resembling a rational answer as to why Jesus allegedly was happy to carry out Humean miracles all day long and why all of this stopped with his ascension, all you have is snide remarks but no arguments.

            It is disingenuous to say that the arguments I’ve made—not snide remarks at all—are ¬arguments. You can say that you don’t accept them, but to utterly dismiss them as arguments at all just makes a person not want to converse with you.

            3. I never said this, never implied this and you are being completely dishonest by insinuating that I ever said or implied anything that even remotely resembles this shit (and it doesn´t even make sense, if Jesus proved that he´s “for real” – that kind of by definition means that *I* cannot do all the fancy shit that he can do).

            But you’ve just got done saying that the only reason for even doing logic is because of your preferences, which you say are based on emotions! Why on earth would you do something that wouldn’t get you more of what you want? Why on earth would you reject means for getting more of what you want, if it were just waving a magic wand and didn’t cost anything, contra The Monkey’s Paw?

            Well, I´d like you to stop making shit up about me, but if you don´t like that, too fucking bad.

            Despite your #1–#3, all of the statements seem to well-describe things you’ve said. Perhaps this is my version of your repeated insistence, “You don’t have an English-relationship with Jesus” or your repeated insistence, “Andy-Humean miracles don’t happen today”.

            No, since I am convinced that Jesus is imaginary, I am not at all shocked that Jesus doesn´t talk to you.

            Sigh, so you won’t imagine what Jesus wanted based on the Protestant New Testament. Okay.

            Yeah, right, that´s why he apparently thought to himself “hmm… what is the best way for me to teach them that truth matters?

            Provide a better way, given that (a) isought; (b) you’ve already decided that Jesus as-presented ain’t so hot. Do you really think Jesus talking to you would change your perceptions, in such a way that your telos would increasingly align with his?

          • Andy_Schueler

            I saw you as making two points, only one of which I was interested in critiquing. Care to better explain by what you meant with the word “because”?

            You asked me to offer support for my claim that those cultures were superstitious, and I delivered.

            The thing is, what Jesus clearly wanted was for people to follow his example, and of their own volition, not so that they’d get e.g. extra power.

            Irrelevant, I don´t want any more power than I already have (if anything, I´d prefer to share the power I have with others) and even if I wanted more power, I don´t see how Jesus could give me more power assuming that christianity were true.

            So since you don’t want to follow his example

            Bullshit, I don´t even know what “his example” is.

            You’ve already made up your mind! Jesus was an alright guy, but your conceptions of what “the good life” consists of are superior to his.

            False, let me correct that:
            “You’ve already made up your mind! Jesus The Bible was an alright guy book for its time, but your conceptions of what “the good life” consists of are superior to his it.”
            But yes, I did make up my mind – and so far, I could easily defend the view I arrived at against any christian objections. I´d still be happy to revisit this view, IF there would be evidence for christianity being true / for Jesus being more than just some guy.

            But you’ve just got done saying that the only reason for even doing logic is because of your preferences, which you say are based on emotions! Why on earth would you do something that wouldn’t get you more of what you want?

            What I “want” is more happiness, more truth, more love, more justice and more fairness. And yes, I´d happily do things to produce more of that – and also yes, I wouldn´t do it if I wouldn´t want that to happen (that´s kind of true by definition, isn´t it?)

            Provide a better way[1], given that (a) is ⇏ ought;[2] (b) you’ve already decided that Jesus as-presented ain’t so hot[3]. Do you really think Jesus talking to you would change your perceptions, in such a way that your telos would increasingly align with his?[4]

            1. Alright: actually doing the stuff that God allegedly did way back in the past instead of leaving people alone with a fucking book for which there is not even any evidence that it was divinely inspired in any way whatsoever.
            2. I don´t accept that given, you can´t even give me ONE hypothetical ought claim that is not grounded in what is – that means you cannot even begin to argue for why oughts are not grounded in what is.
            3. That the Bible is overrated doesn´t have to mean that Jesus is overrated – he didn´t even write it, if anyone´s to blame for the Bible being overrated, it would certainly not be Jesus.
            4. How the fuck am I supposed to know that? I don´t know anything about the guy.

          • Luke Breuer

            Irrelevant, I don´t want any more power than I already have (if anything, I´d prefer to share the power I have with others) and even if I wanted more power, I don´t see how Jesus could give me more power assuming that christianity were true.

            It is odd that you don’t want more power; you may be the first person I’ve encountered who has given that response when this issue has come up. As to more power, I should think that (a) a more accurate model of human nature; and (b) a more accurate conception of what “human thriving” is, would both enable you to better help other people. The NT and OT seem to put a lot of focus on (a) and (b). I would personally say that humanity is awesome at science, but pretty terrible at (a) and (b).

            Bullshit, I don´t even know what “his example” is.

            Because the NT couldn’t possibly provide “his example”?

            What I “want” is more happiness, more truth, more love, more justice and more fairness. And yes, I´d happily do things to produce more of that – and also yes, I wouldn´t do it if I wouldn´t want that to happen (that´s kind of true by definition, isn´t it?)

            Are you up for cooperatively building ideas in an attempt to discover “more truth”, instead of an almost exclusively antagonistic model? Given that our interests seem to overlap quite a bit, I’d be up for working with some of your ideas. I want to really hack at the “moral entropy” idea, but examining the lines of reasoning that led to it before even talking about anything entropy-like.

            Do you, by the way, place ‘truth’ above, below, or on equal footing with each of the other items that you listed?

            1. Alright: actually doing the stuff that God allegedly did way back in the past instead of leaving people alone with a fucking book for which there is not even any evidence that it was divinely inspired in any way whatsoever.

            I don’t see why evidence of divine inspiration matters. There are plenty of people who think there is such evidence, and to be fully honest, I’m not sure how many of them let this actually result in them being more Jesus-like. Jacques Ellul seems to agree with this in his The Subversion of Christianity. All I can say for “divine inspiration” is that it shouts, “Hey, spend some time thinking about this!” Beyond that, all it can be is a way to exert power over people via a priestly caste. The same really goes for miracles as well: unless they turn into a kind of teloic magic, they merely say, “Look here!” I’m operating under a no impenetrable barrier mindset here, after the pattern of Yoram Hazony in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture.

            2. I don´t accept that given, you can´t even give me ONE hypothetical ought claim that is not grounded in what is – that means you cannot even begin to argue for why oughts are not grounded in what is.

            How is “You ought to value life” groundable in what is? Are you including internal psychological states as part of what “is”?

            4. How the fuck am I supposed to know that? I don´t know anything about the guy.

            Surely if Jesus were who the NT recorded him as being, he would have done something to ensure the documents left behind (and which were attested to and won out among those claiming to follow him) were trustworthy?

          • Andy_Schueler

            Because the NT couldn’t possibly provide “his example”?

            What it provides is what some unknown (except for Paul) people who have never personally met him and who wrote long after his death, thought about “his example”, based on unknown sources.

            I want to really hack at the “moral entropy” idea, but examining the lines of reasoning that led to it before even talking about anything entropy-like.

            So by “led to it”, you mean the “foundations” like “what is the nature of moral claims?” or “what give a moral claim its truth value?” – or do you mean something different?

            Do you, by the way, place ‘truth’ above, below, or on equal footing with each of the other items that you listed?

            The best answer I can give is “all of the above” – it depends on the context. Truth being better than falsehood is virtually always a given, but for some hypothetical situations (which admittedly are so rare that they practically never occur in real life – things like the infamous “you hide Anne Frank in your attic and the Gestapo comes knocking at your door” scenario”) I´d say that falsehood is better than truth (Thomists (for example) would strongly disagree with that – but I´d be very surprised if they actually practice what they preach should they ever be placed in something like the Anne Frank scenario).

            I don’t see why evidence of divine inspiration matters. There are plenty of people who think there is such evidence, and to be fully honest, I’m not sure how many of them let this actually result in them being more Jesus-like. Jacques Ellul seems to agree with this in his The Subversion of Christianity. All I can say for “divine inspiration” is that it shouts, “Hey, spend some time thinking about this!

            Indeed. There are plenty of books worth reading, much more than you ever could read, and an even bigger number of books that are not worth reading – which doesn´t have to mean that they suck completely, it just means that what you gain from reading it wasn´t worth the time you invested into reading it. To me, the Bible is an example for the latter category, and I see no reason to revisit that assessment unless there would be evidence for the Bible being more than just some book.

            How is “You ought to value life” groundable in what is?[1] Are you including internal psychological states as part of what “is”?[2]

            1. Here is one possible way: “because God values life and God is “goodness”.” Can you give me an example for grounding this claim (or any other ought claim) without is-claims?
            2. Of course.

            Surely if Jesus were who the NT recorded him as being, he would have done something to ensure the documents left behind (and which were attested to and won out among those claiming to follow him) were trustworthy?

            That already presupposes that leaving people with a book is what Jesus would do if he was who the NT claims he is – and I wouldn´t even grant you that. In fact, I find the very idea of a God first hanging around with humans as if he were one of them and then leaving them with a frickin book, to be beyond absurd – absurd from so many different angles, hell, a huge fraction of christians since then could not even read (and wouldn´t have had a Bible in their mother tongue even if they would have been able to read). Providing all cultures with a perfect translation of the biblical autographs and a method for how even illiterate people can study the text (via some holy ghost magic or whatever) would have been the least he could do (*literally* the least).

          • Luke Breuer

            AS: So by “led to it”, you mean the “foundations” like “what is the nature of moral claims?” or “what give a moral claim its truth value?” – or do you mean something different?

            I’m interested in (a) truthmakers and (b) the psychological motivation which makes moral sources felt to be binding. I get at the former in Si enim fallor, sum; the latter is explored by Christine M. Korsgaard in The Sources of Normativity.

            I am less interested in “what is the nature of moral claims”; I have David McNaughton’s Moral Vision: An Introduction to Ethics, which does go through this, but in order to make too much more progress, I need to see how the differences really play out in reality. MacIntyre’s Whose Justice? Which Rationality? and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition apparently touch on this, but I haven’t read them yet.

            The best answer I can give is “all of the above” – it depends on the context.

            How frequently has truth been trumped by anything, in your own experience? I’m not sure it has ever been trumped, in mine. I do think that 1 Cor 13:1–3 is true, but that concerns whether or not truth is uttered and the style, which is different from e.g. uttering falsehood.

            1. Here is one possible way: “because God values life and God is “goodness”.” Can you give me an example for grounding this claim (or any other ought claim) without is-claims?

            2. Of course.

            1. This still begs a definition of ‘life’. I would argue that Christians have frequently thwarted ‘life’, as would be understood by passages such as Jer 31:31–34, Ezek 36:22–32, and Eph 2:10. Charles Taylor’s The Ethics of Authenticity could be seen as a development of what the New Covenant actually entails. Anyhow, without an agreed upon definition of ‘life’, the quoted statement in your 1. above is useless.

            2. Is it at all common to say that internal psychological states are part of “is”, with respect to isought? I understand that hypothetical imperatives are only binding if you want what they promote, but I take isought to include the fact that my presenting you with is-evidence is not guaranteed to change your oughts.

            That already presupposes that leaving people with a book is what Jesus would do if he was who the NT claims he is – and I wouldn´t even grant you that.

            Point taken; I might even agree, as leaving just a book presents an interpretation problem, which is actually quite well-developed in The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature with respect to how to communicate “God’s Big Book of Facts”. The “love each other as I have loved you” in Jn 13:34–35 argues that more than just a book was left behind: a living witness was also left behind. I personally was on my way to disbelieving that the NT was “constructable” (think directions for constructing negative index metamaterial which just don’t work, then switch from ‘negative index metamaterial’ → ‘kingdom of God’) until I saw a real, live example of something that seemed to make e.g. Mt 5:43–48 mean something. Hearken back to our conversation about utopias only stably lasting if they are (a) homogeneous and (b) isolated. Well, I saw enough of a seed of a utopia that was ¬(a) ∧ ¬(b).

            hell, a huge fraction of christians since then could not even read

            This is making me want to finish Walter J. Ong’s Orality and Literacy. I’m not sure your argument obtains; does everyone need to be able to read modern political theory in order to properly participate in civic life? Paul’s letters were read aloud in the congregations to which they were addressed, and oral cultures had ways to keep the results of such readings in their memories. Indeed, Richard Bauckham argues in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony that the gospels were likely written as the last eyewitnesses were about to die; he argues that this would be expected in a culture where it was preferable to cross-examine eyewitnesses than read written texts. One also has the fact of low literacy, and thus the importance of memorization and oral spreading of information.

            I would actually argue that much of the Bible doesn’t make sense except as lived out. Without being lived out, it’s like a bunch of dormant computer code, such that people talk about what it would do if run, but never actually run it. I prefer calling the Ten Commandments by the more accurate name of Ten Words, noting that ‘word’ here is davar/dabar. According to Yoram Hazony in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, davar frequently means both ‘word’ and ‘thing’, as if the two are inseparable. One then asks whether a davar is emet, which while often translated ‘true’, is better understood these days (according to Hazony) as “trustworthy” or “acts/behaves as it ought to”. So we can talk about building a society on the Ten Davarim, turning the davarim into social facts. Would such a society be stable and promote ‘life’ as it ought to, as the Ten Davarim are claimed to do?

            Now, if the truth-claims of the Bible are actually built into the fabric of society, one doesn’t have to be able to read in order to deeply understand them. One would simply have to deeply understand how one’s society functions, which could be done e.g. by parents explaining to their children how a contemporary violation of social rules leads to badness. It seems to me that such a situation mitigates the problem of low literacy. Have you thoughts on the matter?

            Providing all cultures with a perfect translation of the biblical autographs and a method for how even illiterate people can study the text (via some holy ghost magic or whatever) would have been the least he could do (*literally* the least).

            See, I’m not so sure. Can the equations/code underlying a simulation truly be understood without the simulation? (I refer again to The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature.) I would argue that attempts to reduce all laws to the laws of physics has failed, in the sense that such reduction produces computational intractability, which I would argue correlates with a failure to construct worlds in that way. Instead, we must compute based on the proper level of abstraction, depending on emergent behavior which is agnostic to at least some microstructure (see Massimo Pigliucci’s Essays on emergence, part I). I’m not sure one can really do this without having an actual simulation of the equations/code. Merely having a pristine holy book doesn’t seem like it would suffice—not by a long shot. Assuming that this would work seems like a completely denial of the concept of an unarticulated background.

          • Andy_Schueler

            How frequently has truth been trumped by anything, in your own experience?

            In my own, never. That´s why said that those hypotheticals are so rare that they virtually never occur (that I had to go to Nazi Germany in my hypothetical example where lying would be better than telling the truth was a dead giveaway that such scenarios are not exactly very frequent).

            1. This still begs a definition of ‘life’. I would argue that Christians have frequently thwarted ‘life’, as would be understood by passages such asJer 31:31–34, Ezek 36:22–32, and Eph 2:10. Charles Taylor’s The Ethics of Authenticity could be seen as a development of what the New Covenant actually entails. Anyhow, without an agreed upon definition of ‘life’, the quoted statement in your 1. above is useless.

            Yup, it would also be useless without an agreed upon definition of:
            “God”, “goodness”, “is”, “because” etc.

            2. Is it at all common to say that internal psychological states are part of “is”, with respect to is ⇏ ought? I understand that hypothetical imperatives are only binding if you want what they promote, but I take is⇏ ought to include the fact that my presenting you with is-evidence is not guaranteed to change your oughts.

            If you present me with new is-claims regarding how gravity works and conclude that with “and that´s why we should throw babies from high buildings”, that wouldn´t “change my oughts”, guaranteed. If you present me new is-claims about how modern capitalism impacts human wellbeing and the development of human societies, that might absolutely impact my understanding of what “ought” to be done.

            I’m not sure your argument obtains; does everyone need to be able to read modern political theory in order to properly participate in civic life?

            Nope. But if there was only one “real” book about politics plus plenty of secondary literature that is all about figuring this one book out because it is the only actual source on politics, then yes, you´d have nothing whatsoever to contribute to politics without reading that book – all you could do is blindly swallow what others tell you about the book.

            Merely having a pristine holy book doesn’t seem like it would suffice—not by a long shot.

            That´s why I said that making this book universally available and intelligible (which he didn´t) would have been literally the least he could have done, but he didn´t even do that if he is real.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yup, it would also be useless without an agreed upon definition of:

            “God”, “goodness”, “is”, “because” etc.

            I take this that you are mocking the idea that there are multiple competing definitions of “life”, where “life” is understood as “human thriving”, and possibly more than just “human thriving”?

            If you present me new is-claims about how modern capitalism impacts human wellbeing and the development of human societies, that might absolutely impact my understanding of what “ought” to be done.

            And would any of that alter your conception of “human wellbeing”? What I want to get at is the psychological is-content which is your source of normativity. How does that get changed? Furthermore, if you are a utilitarian, what is the function that balances your well-being against mine, especially when I say that I don’t like something you’re doing? There’s a lot of discussion of ‘empathy’ out there (e.g. John Loftus’ The Basis for Morality is Empathy), and yet the term is useless unless we have such a function. I claim that all that is required for tremendous evil to develop is for people to every-so-subtly prefer their own good to others’, statistically, for enough time.

            That´s why I said that making this book universally available and intelligible (which he didn´t) would have been literally the least he could have done, but he didn´t even do that if he is real.

            Please articulate what would suffice to make the book “intelligible”. I’ve presented my answer; please present your own.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I take this that you are mocking the idea that there are multiple competing definitions of “life”, where “life” is understood as “human thriving”, and possibly more than just “human thriving”?

            Not quite. I rather tried to make the point that your claim that “without an agreed upon definition of ‘life’, the quoted statement in your 1. above is useless”, is true, but trivially true. It doesn´t just apply to the concept of “life”, when you say for example:
            “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”
            – but you mean “men” differently than I understand it (does it include literally just “men” and no women, or does it mean “mankind” in general? Where does “mankind” stop? Does it include all ethnicities? Does it include just Homo sapiens sapiens or maybe a broader conception of “mankind”? Maybe all great apes? And what does “equal” mean? Equal opportunities? Equal chances?(this is not synoynmous to equal opportunities) or equaly results? ), then we are talking past each other. This is why virtually all discussions about abortion are a complete waste of time because people on all sides in these discussions tend to use terminology on which they do not agreed on, at all, so they are just talking past each other.

            And would any of that alter your conception of “human wellbeing”? What I want to get at is the psychological is-content which is your source of normativity. How does that get changed?

            You have to rephrase that, I cannot make sense of “psychological is-content”.

            Furthermore, if you are a utilitarian, what is the function that balances your well-being against mine, especially when I say that I don’t like something you’re doing?[1] There’s a lot of discussion of ‘empathy’ out there (e.g. John Loftus’ The Basis for Morality is Empathy), and yet the term is useless unless we have such a function.[2]

            1. That presupposes that the wellbeing of some is intrinsically better than the wellbeing of others, I don´t believe that that is the case.
            2. Given 1), I don´t see that as a problem. The problem with empathy is rather privilege blindness. Lets take the wildly racist war on drugs as an example: a white guy could look at something like the New Yorker stop and frisk policy and say “yeah, well, it´s not so bad – the only people that have to worry are those that are actually guilty”, and it is well possible that he would re-evaluate this assessment if New York´s “finest” would have the order to consider him to probably be a drug dealing lowlife because he´s white.
            You can imagine what it would be like to walk a mile in someone else´s shoes, but when you try to imagine a scenario that is very different from your life reality, then your imagination of “what it would feel like” can be very different from what it *does* actually feel like.

            Please articulate what would suffice to make the book “intelligible”.

            Magic, I don´t know any other way for how a book could be intelligible to a guy who has never learned how to read. You´d likely say that God, according to your concept of what “God” means, wouldn´t “do magic”, but there is a very easy way to avoid the need for this kind of magic – talk to people instead of leaving them alone with a fucking book that you didn´t even write yourself.

          • Luke Breuer

            Not quite. I rather tried to make the point that your claim that “without an agreed upon definition of ‘life’, the quoted statement in your 1. above is useless”, is true, but trivially true. It doesn´t just apply to the concept of “life”, when you say for example:

            I’m really confused. Are you, or are you not, aware that there are multiple, competing definition of what “human thriving” is? The term “life” as I have been using it is deeply related to “human thriving”, although it may well include much more than just human thriving.

            You have to rephrase that, I cannot make sense of “psychological is-content”.

            When I talk to virtually everyone except for you about the is–ought gap, they don’t allow subjective, unique-to-individual psychological states to qualify as is. Usually, they talk to something which is common to all people. For example, Kant’s categorical imperative is meant to appeal to a commonality in all people: rationality.

            So, when talking about the factors that actually lead to you taking a given action, we can divide them into categories, such as (non-exhaustively):

                 (1) externally imposed forces (e.g. fear)
                 (2) commonalities to all persons
                 (3) psychological states unique to you

            My “psychological is-content” was meant to refer to (3), and not (2).

            1. That presupposes that the wellbeing of some is intrinsically better than the wellbeing of others, I don´t believe that that is the case.

            Why don’t you believe that is the case? Do you have an objective grounding, or is this closer to an opinion?

            2. Given 1), I don´t see that as a problem. The problem with empathy is rather privilege blindness.

            This appears to automatically assume that if one removes privilege blindness (John Rawls’ veil of ignorance comes to mind), everything will work smoothly. I don’t buy that. It is not necessarily possible to sufficiently well-empathize with every other human being. Furthermore, attempting to create the situation in which it is possible to so-empathize could be done by reducing diversity among persons; as you know, I see that as a very iffy procedure.

            Have you read Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism? I just went through the bit about lacking objective rational moral foundations; I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

            Magic, I don´t know any other way for how a book could be intelligible to a guy who has never learned how to read.

            You seem to be under the impression that merely knowing how to read means that something becomes intelligible. This is not true unless you pack a lot into “knowing how to read”. I highly suggested checking out The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature, and focusing on the discussion of grammar—basically, the last section. It’s not even clear that words (written or spoken) have meaning without a [common] unarticulated background, for example.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’m really confused. Are you, or are you not, aware that there are multiple, competing definition of what “human thriving” is?

            Absolutely. What I tried to say is that the same is true for a great many (if not all) morally relevant concepts.

            When I talk to virtually everyone except for you about the is–ought gap, they don’t allow subjective, unique-to-individual psychological states to qualify as is.

            “Subjective” => “unique to the individual” is a non sequitur. Pain is subjective, but it is not unique to any individual (well, it obviously is in the anal sense that no two painful experiences are ever EXACTLY alike in every way, but that is beside the point) – if that wouldn´t be the case, the word “pain” would have no semantic content, the concept of “pain” is only intelligible and communicable (at least to some degree) because it is NOT completely unique to one individual.

            Usually, they talk to something which is common to all people. For example, Kant’s categorical imperative is meant to appeal to a commonality in all people: rationality.

            And rationality is subjective – any human activity is “subjective” qua being a human activity, that is pretty much what the word means. Rational thought can be intersubjective, but it cannot be objective.

            (1) externally imposed forces (e.g. fear)
            (2) commonalities to all persons
            (3) psychological states unique to you

            My “psychological is-content” was meant to refer to (3), and not (2).

            Off the top of my hat, I couldn´t think of anything about me that is so idiosyncratic that it could reasonably be referred to as “unique to me” – so based on my current understanding, this category refers to an empty set.

            Why don’t you believe that is the case? Do you have an objective grounding, or is this closer to an opinion?

            The only objective grounding I could come up with would be the instinct of fairness, but I´m not very interested in defending that possibility and would be happy to pragmatically call this position a moral axiom, or blind faith if you prefer.

            This appears to automatically assume that if one removes privilege blindness (John Rawls’ veil of ignorance comes to mind), everything will work smoothly.

            Nope, it would just remove a huge epistemological obstacle that moral views that rely very much on empathy (i´d lean out of the window and say that all moral agents actually fundamentally rely on it, even if they don´t admit it) have to deal with.

            Furthermore, attempting to create the situation in which it is possible to so-empathize could be done by reducing diversity among persons;

            Erm, yeah… I guess empathy would be easier on average if we´d just select a bunch of highly similar individuals and kill everyone else, but how you´d conclude that that is a reasonable idea based on anything I´ve said is a complete mystery to me.

            Have you read Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism? I just went through the bit about lacking objective rational moral foundations; I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

            Nope, I only follow his blog.

            You seem to be under the impression that merely knowing how to read means that something becomes intelligible.

            I´m not, and my point was a different one. Yes, being able to read does not mean that you will automatically be able to understand a specific book, but my point was rather that NOT being able to read means that you CANNOT understand a book without putting your trust into someone who did understand it and can explain it to you.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Andy, I think you understand exactly what I go through with Luke. Sometimes I just can’t believe the things that he writes. When you have to defend an absurd position, it makes you say and write absurd things to defend it. Luke is a clear example of how religion taints the brain.

          • FallanFrank

            You are such a joke…anyone with an open mind can see how you struggle in your debates with Luke and Randal yet say this “do I have to explain why that is hilariously illogical or is it obvious enough” THE EGO HAS LANDED

          • Andy_Schueler

            You are confusing us with people who give a rat´s ass about your worthless opinions. Now back to the sewer with you little troll.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I’ve never seen Andy struggle,

          • FallanFrank

            Careful Jonathan He might accuse you of being a butt kisser by praising him

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            “Theism need not be prey to the cr itique y ou mention”

            What? That is not the argument. It is not what need be the case, but what IS the case. You really really are building a straw man here.

          • Gandolf

            “do you have a single shred of evidence that religious people exhibit more hypocrisy than non-religious people?”

            The fact that Christians would feel that they have real need, of something like 41000 domination’s. Doesn’t seem to say much, about loving a neighbor like yourself

            And then there is the idea, that people should have right of freedom of religion.An idea that many Christians have demanded they should retain the right-of.Yet if statistics are for real ,even in regards to prejudice against atheists in America. Then it seems many Christians don’t intend to deliver unto other people, of what they actively demand to retain for themselves

            Maybe there is no exact way, to measure the answer to your question.

            But one thing for certain seems pretty clear.Its certainly not looking so good, is it?

          • Luke Breuer

            Well, I see a lot of Christian-bashing and use of statistics with no explanation; what I don’t see is a comparison to how other extant groups of humans behave when they are in positions of power. For example, one could examine the recent EU court decision affirming the French ban on wearing head coverings, which was done “in the name of secularism”. So I have absolutely no idea, based on what you’ve presented, whether it’s Christianity which causes the observed badness, or just humans being humans. And yet, you probably sincerely believe that removing religion would make the world a better place.

          • Gandolf

            Its a bad idea? that women should not feel coerced,by religion ,to need to hide their face behind a mask.The ban, now effects everyone.Including atheist too of course. However it seems to me,that religion still played a big part, in what started and finally brought the ban about

            I agree that all sort of positions of power can cause problems.I agree that all sorts of humans can act badly.Yet there seems to be something about religion,that helps make these bad situations,more likely to appear.

            To me,it seems kind of like the debate over nuclear weapons.Perhaps we could argue that “all” weapons can cause harm.So therefore nuclear weapons should also be thought quite ok too

            Yet it seems that nuclear weapons,do help to add an extra level of extreme danger. In the same way that religion seems to also add an extra explosive-level of reasons for people to act badly

            I don’t think anyone is trying to say the world would become a “perfect place” without religion. I doubt anyone is trying to claim that people wouldn’t ever act badly,without religion

            Just that religion seems to help add an extra explosive level of reason’s, for people to decide to act badly

          • Luke Breuer

            So do you have anything like the evidential base required to show that religion, ceteris paribus, makes people worse, statistically, compared to not-religion?

            I do not deny that *some* religion is harmful, just like *some* atheism (or atheism + beliefs, if you’d like) is harmful. That’s a no-brainer! It’s the ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’ reasoning which is so often specious.

            As to the head covering, who says all women are oppressed by it? Who says that most are? And why do head coverings threaten “social harmony” (a direct quote from several news articles on the recent EU court decision)? Are humans so weak-willed?

          • Gandolf

            “So do you have anything like the evidential base required to show that religion, ceteris paribus, makes people worse, statistically, compared to not-religion?”

            It really depends what you would consider/accept as being the sort of evidence you demand,doesn’t it?

            Like you would likely say statistics are unreliable. Which i could even agree with to some extent.

            But then, even noting that stats are somewhat unreliable. Do you then feel? it also follows,that its completely wrong, for anyone to claim ,that within the USA (for instance), atheists are being thought of, as being worse people,than what rapists are thought of as being.

            Is this? problem merely due to the wayward thoughts of “some” Christians.Like you seem to keep claiming it might be. Or does it? perhaps tend to point to the existence of a far wider problem

            In the country i live in, Christianity is pretty much in fast decline. In fact ,in general religion has been in decline for a number of generations.And “generally” we also don’t have many people whom hate atheists. And if we did, those folk would soon experience the wrath of the nation.In fact where i live, the “secular society”,doesn’t even tend to put-up-with any hatred of theists,either

            I think, you might need? to revert to communist country,ruled by an “atheist dictator”.So as to be able to put forward any evidence, to help suggest that atheism causes hatred toward theists. A practice which i would also feel is pretty misleading. Even if its been a practice traditionally adopted by theist

            I think, perhaps part of the reason that we don’t have the sort/quality of evidence you demand.Might be something to do with because its still thought somewhat of a taboo subject,to even dare compare religion in this kind of manner. Its not thought politically correct, is it? .Even though these days, “thankfully” these boundary’s are now being pushed.

            “why do head coverings threaten “social harmony”

            Why does gang-symbolism,threaten? social harmony.

            “who says all women are oppressed by it? Who says that most are?”

            “Are humans so weak-willed?”

            I would hazard to guess, that you have never personally experienced ,what its even actually like to try exist within a strict group.

            You think believe freedom of religion abounds.You have “great faith” in this belief.

            I grew up within a strict group.People like you, still faithfully believe, that we had freedom of choice

            What good? is evidence to you anyway. Will evidence help? alter your opinion on these matters.Even when people are exposed visibly being physically abused and beaten https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPpbmDDRm8M

            Will it help? to change your mind,in regard to whether the problem is so-much due to people being weak-willed

            You don’t realize ,how many strong minded people, are being punished by strict groups.For you lived within a comfortable little loving Christian bubble,and thus think everyone else experiences the same

            Therefore you see the general dislike of Christianity, as being about rebellion.Rather than being about the existence of widespread faith abuses

          • Luke Breuer

            It really depends what you would consider/accept as being the sort of evidence you demand,doesn’t it?

            Of course. I could be an incredibly skeptical person and demand too much. You could be a gullible person and accept much too little. Neither of these stops you from presenting what you consider sufficient evidence for targeting not just some religion, but all religion. Here’s what I recently said to The Thinker:

            LB: Finger has gangrene, which means arm has gangrene: better cut the whole thing off instead of, you know, the specifically diseased part. Or do you disagree?

            I know that religion has gangrenous bits. But I just have never seen anyone present the kind of evidence that my model of “a reasonable person” would accept as condemning all religion. And yet, I see so many atheists who appear to be targeting all religion, until you call them out on it. Then they claim that they didn’t actually mean all. I’m very suspicious.

            within the USA (for instance), atheists are being thought of, as being worse people,than what rapists are thought of as being.

            I vaguely remember some bit of evidence which could somewhat be twisted to support this, but I’d want to look at the source material to check. But suppose you are correct. Can we draw a direct cause-and-effect relationship with all religion? Or are we back to the gangrenous finger?

            Or does it? perhaps tend to point to the existence of a far wider problem

            If it does, there will be evidence that “a reasonable person” would accept. So, where is this evidence? Where are the scientific studies which attempt to show, with ever more detail, how it is ‘religion’ in particular which causes the bad thing, and causes it more than alternative, extant, psychological makeups? (If we compare against ideals, we run into a whole host of problems.)

            “why do head coverings threaten “social harmony”

            Why does gang-symbolism,threaten? social harmony.

            Wow, you just went there. You just compared a religious tradition with gangs.

            I would hazard to guess, that you have never personally experienced ,what its even actually like to try exist within a strict group.

            I’ve experienced a fairly strict religious group. I experienced being a social pariah for close to the first 18 years of my life. So I do know a few things. I do not know what it is like, for example, to grow up in the Westborough Baptist Church. But once again, we’re back to the gangrenous finger. Are you going to advocate that the whole arm be chopped off, just to make sure?

            You think believe freedom of religion abounds.You have “great faith” in this belief.

            I grew up within a strict group.People like you, still faithfully believe, that we had freedom of choice

            I’m sorry, what did I say, such that you are justified in making the inferences you just have? If this is how you operate on the evidence, may I suggest that you are quick to stereotype? And yet, this is precisely a behavior that you seem to be deploring—one that religious people are supposed to be into. I’ll tell you something, Gandolf. I am so frequently stereotyped in predominantly atheist internet communities that I find it utterly laughable that religion promotes discrimination above and beyond non-religion. No, humans really do seem to be able to be dicks, regardless of religious belief or lack thereof! I’ve yet to see any evidence that shows religion causing worse behavior than non-religion, unless one points to a gangrenous finger and says that the whole arm is like it, when there is absolutely zero evidence that the whole arm is also gangrenous.

          • Gandolf

            Luke.If someone hit theist’s around the head with the evidence.Many of them,if not most of them,would still remain most unlikely to take action needed to help remedy the situation.

            You don’t? agree right.

            You conclude the gangrene within religion is only confined to very few groups.You also conclude that the widespread distaste for religion, comes down to most people just being very unreasonable

            And you also wonder why religion is presently needing to deal with the sort of situation that it is dealing with.

            Theist could have thought to take more action to help remove the gangrene bits. Trouble was, they also traditionally reacted much like you do.Buried their heads ever further in the sand, and demanded that “real evidence” should be provided, that widespread problems existed

            Even the Catholic church reacted like you do.Denied the full extent of sex abuses.Claimed it was only about small confined amounts of gangrene

            I’m not so bothered to spend too much time answering your comment point by point.

            Because.The OP asks this question “Can religion be destroyed”

            I figure the answer is yes,for religion will do everything it can do,to help continue to slowly destroy itself.

            The thing is, even while religion was literally riddled with gangrene, so many theists would still be busy, comforting themselves,with thoughts that the gangrene was actually only confined to small areas

            We (us atheists) really don’t need to even bother to convince people like you Luke.

            All we need to do is allow people like you, to continue to believe whatever you like.

            Meanwhile we still have a ongoing supply of millions of people,whom have indeed been effected by the amount of widespread gangrene, that people like you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge

            So, you make it real easy for us Luke.You are a highly intelligent person,so highly intelligent as to even have ability to produce lines of argument, that can be used to help convince yourself, that widespread gangrene doesn’t actually exist

            I have a brother that reminds me very much of people like you Luke.A highly intelligent person, whom uses aspects of his high-intelligence, to help make his own life, end up being far worse-off

          • Luke Breuer

            If someone hit theist a person’s around the head with the evidence.Many of them,if not most of them,would still remain most unlikely to take action needed to help remedy the situation.

            I fixed that for you. I doubt you have anything close to “sufficient evidence” to demonstrate your version in a way that differentiates it from my version.

            You conclude the gangrene within religion is only confined to very few groups.

            My analogy definitely has it confined to a small bit, but suppose that in fact the hand is gangrenous. Are you going to suggest still amputating the whole arm? From my perspective, Gandolf, I see you and others finding truly gangrenous bits, and then generalizing from ‘some’ → ‘all’. It is this generalization which is fallacious when not done with “sufficient evidence”. Jonathan Pearce and The Thinker appear to predicate their ‘some’ → ‘all’ upon YEC pretty much only YEC. You seem to have your own version of a finger.

            You also conclude that the widespread distaste for religion, comes down to most people just being very unreasonable

            A lot of their “widespread distaste” probably comes from false generalization + crap information. In the US at least, it is very clear that the news is biased toward the violent and the extreme, which means that it poorly samples what religious believers are actually doing most of their lives. What makes people unreasonable is that not enough stand against the poor information and false generalization.

            Some of this “distaste” is truly targeted. For example, the Roman Catholic Church has been terrible when it comes to child abuse. But I’ll tell you something: I have never seen their levels of child abuse and cover-up compared to other organizations where males are in power over youngsters, and in positions to abuse them. Without such comparisons, I have no idea whether the RCC is better, worse, or the same as other people. After all, non-RCC members rape little boys.

            Theist could have thought to take more action to help remove the gangrene bits.

            As could Nazis, as could Stalinists, as could Maoists.

            Trouble was, they humans also traditionally reacted much like I think you do.

            I fixed that for you. If you want to understand the reactionary, conservative response that humans produce, I suggest reading some sociology. I learned quite a bit from Peter Berger’s Facing Up to Modernity; Berger is a co-author of seminal work The Social Construction of Reality. Social orders can be extremely precarious, such that they need very special treatment in order to not collapse into chaos. If one attempts to change too much at once, ka-BOOM. And so, one must understand the actual problems very well—much better than you seem to understand the actual problems with religion.

            Meanwhile we still have a ongoing supply of millions of people,whom have indeed been effected by the amount of widespread gangrene, that people like you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge

            I am attempting to do the proper atheist/skeptic thing of not believing things without sufficient evidence. Where is your sufficient evidence? By the way, there are 2.18 billion Christians in the world, which means that even 20 million (example of your “millions of people”) would be less than 1%. A shoddy google has a finger weighing 100g and an arm weighing 3600g, such that the finger is 1/36 = 2.8%.

            So how about you define “widespread gangrene”, and provide “sufficient evidence”? Who cares if I don’t accept it as “sufficient”; maybe I have bad standards. But surely you want to only believe things based on “sufficient evidence”? So why don’t you show us all precisely what you, Gandolf, mean by “sufficient”?

          • Gandolf

            “I doubt you have anything close to “sufficient evidence” to demonstrate your version in a way that differentiates it from my version.”

            I don’t mind that you believe this.In fact, its even “to our benefit”, that so many theists would still have “such faith” in these kind of beliefs.

            If i feel quite comfortable, that (in big part) its theist complacency, behind what is helping to cause destruction to religion.Then what benefit ? is it to someone like me, to bother spending time in trying to convince you folk that i’m correct.

            “I am attempting to do the proper atheist/skeptic thing of not believing things without sufficient evidence.”

            I don’t think you are. Maybe if evidence of God was even a quarter as obvious, as harm caused by religion is. Then i’d agree you might have a point.

            Its easy to tell that you are intelligent Luke.Trouble is, even some very intelligent people, can act blindly and foolishly

          • Luke Breuer

            Given this and your other two recent responses, I have virtually no idea why you responded to my comments in the first place. You seem pretty uninterested in what I have had to say in response.

          • Gandolf

            Just to say i didn’t just ignore what you wrote.

            Maybe you think i should chase intelligent theists,up and down rabbit warrens.Fair enough. Bit i’m not interested

            Like i said, i feel its to my own advantage,that you choose to believe what you do believe

          • Gandolf

            “Well, I see a lot of Christian-bashing and use of statistics with no explanation”

            For so many generations now, people have been complaining, about feeling harmed by religion.

            And for so many generations, in retaliation ,theist have classed these complaints, as just being about Christian-bashing.And so on

            Little wonder then,that such widespread hatred of religion, now abounds

            I grew up in a cult myself.My whole family life,has been ripped apart and been wasted by this groups religious beliefs.For my family and many others like us too,a whole lifetime has just been left to rot and waste away ,because religious beliefs are allowed to cause people harm.

            And anytime we complained about it. There was always people like you, who would rather talk about Christian bashing

            You folk marched the streets,to stop abortion.Yet left our lives to rot.Like had also already happened, to so many others

            For some reason,you folk think the “sanctity of life” is something most highly important for the “unborn” child.

            Yet once we are born, you religious folk pretty much don’t seem to care less, how badly we are being treated.You explain these problems away,by saying that some religious folk will make “bad choices” (strangely the same thing doesn’t apply in regards to people choices of abortion.And so on)

            And yet you wonder why so many people,would now hate religion.The way they do

            Theists are their own worst enemy.For they don’t seem to care to get real.They rather deny real problems and run up and down rabbit warrens, than face problems for what they are

            And so lives are continually wasted. “Generation” after “generation”

            Feel free to feel like a persecuted Christian,all you like Luke. But don’t expect that this will ever help fix feelings toward religious folk

          • Luke Breuer

            I am sorry that you grew up in a cult, but that does not justify your gross extrapolations. Indeed, you seem to be coming dangerously close to assuming that all religion is like what you experienced, or at least so in danger of being like it that we’d better just cut off the whole limb, even though gangrene has only been detected in a finger.

            Let’s just look at your “41000 denominations” remark. What, precisely, is wrong with that? Do you really think that each denomination is its own religion, for example? I know it sounds impressive to cite large numbers, but you have to mean something when doing so. What, precisely is it that you mean? What, precisely, is bad about this?

            I do not appreciate your stereotyping of me. I am aware of the harm that religion has caused. I am also aware of the good it has caused. I am very interested in getting less of the former and more of the latter. You, it would seem, would rather just amputate the whole arm. Isn’t that a bit rash?

            Yet once we are born, you religious folk pretty much don’t seem to care less, how badly we are being treated.

            Look in the mirror. What you’ve done—stereotype me—is precisely a bad thing that religious folks have done to atheists for a long time, causing them harm in the process. And look at how you’re doing a very thing [I hope] you deplore, even though you’ve got rid of religion! Now you could claim that this is leftover from religion. But what if the thing you’ve been blaming on religion, is actually due to human nature and not religion?

            And yet you wonder why so many people,would now hate religion.

            Nowhere did I express this wonder. You are now firmly in the zone of making stuff up and attributing it to me. I do not appreciate this. I want to be treated as a person, not as a faceless representative of the picture of some group of people you have in your head. Please stop doing this.

          • Gandolf

            ” Indeed, you seem to be coming dangerously close to assuming that all religion is like what you experienced, or at least so in danger of being like it that we’d better just cut off the whole limb, even though gangrene has only been detected in a finger.”

            No Luke. Religion is not equal.There is liberal groups ,and extremist groups.

            Sadly the liberal groups feel so jolly comfortable, and complacent, living within their liberal groups beliefs.That they don’t “think” to bother, to care to take enough action to help remedy problems.

            Either way, the end result, ends up in a downward spiral.

            Thus why i suggest, it might just be best, for us to help amputate the whole arm

            Maybe you figure, that complacency, doesn’t equal being like any kind of gangrene

            But i wouldn’t agree

          • Luke Breuer

            Religion is not equal.There is liberal groups ,and extremist groups.

            If those are the only two groups, you’ve got categorization troubles. Or perhaps this is intentional?

            Sadly the liberal groups feel so jolly comfortable, and complacent, living within their liberal groups beliefs.That they don’t “think” to bother, to care to take enough action to help remedy problems.

            What, precisely, ought to be done in this “take enough action” realm? Ought I write some letters to the Westborough Baptist Church? Go ahead, Gandolf, tell me what I should be doing—you clearly have some ideas!

          • Gandolf

            Its “being done” Luke. For we have no-need to wait around for theists to decide it time to take action.

          • Luke Breuer

            Ok, so you have no intention of clarifying your words. Good to know.

          • Gandolf

            “Look in the mirror. What you’ve done—stereotype me—is precisely a bad thing that religious folks have done to atheists for a long time, causing them harm in the process.”

            Then can you provide? me with any real decent evidence, to prove how your liberal-faith group,has continually been actively involved, in trying to help address the matter of ongoing faith abuses, happening within extreme faith groups.

            And i mean real active action. Not some worthless, pitiful expressions of “sorry that you grew up in a cult”

            If you cannot provide me with this kind of evidence.Then please dont claim that im guilty of stereotyping you

          • Luke Breuer

            Then can you provide? me with any real decent evidence, to prove how your liberal-faith group,has continually been actively involved, in trying to help address the matter of ongoing faith abuses, happening within extreme faith groups.

            Would you please start treating me as a person instead of stereotyping me? I am not part of a “liberal-faith group”; nobody who has conversed with me at length has ever thought of me to be a ‘liberal’ Christian. You are, quite simply, dehumanizing me by your continued, unapologetic stereotyping. It is bigotry that doesn’t look very bad because hey, ripping into religious people is in vogue!

            So you want to know where I’ve been religion police—or perhaps the term ‘Inquisition’ would be more to your liking? I definitely criticize what I see as badness in religion and in ¬religion. I’m an equal-opportunity criticizer. But I’ve not been personally involved in any “extreme faith groups”. What do you want me to do, other than do my best to understand the psychology and sociology of such groups? Ought I go in with a Bible and thump it over their heads? What kind of evidence do you want to see, Gandolf?

            If you cannot provide me with this kind of evidence.Then please dont claim that im guilty of stereotyping you

            This is a complete non sequitur.

          • Gandolf

            Luke,really there is no need for folks like you-folk, to need to do anything much more.Admittedly its taken some-time (many generations), but ever so slowly, these things are coming together just fine.

            I understand how you folk, figure that nothing more “can” be done (or perhaps “should” be done). But thankfully we now have many other people, whom see things differently.Its 2014,religion isn’t untouchable.Religion isn’t a subject, that’s too-taboo for us to deal with

            I do see theists as people Luke.But that still doesn’t mean there isn’t big differences

          • Luke Breuer

            I love how I’m no longer a person, I’m just a non-unique representative of a nameless mass of people.

            It also seems like you buy into the secularization thesis, which has been pretty conclusively been proven wrong. Some still hold out for it, but the evidence that it will happen is pretty iffy.

  • Pingback: Secularism breeds equality | A Tippling Philosopher

  • Luke Breuer

    Jonathan Pearce, do you have a single shred of evidence that e.g. Christians make worse scientists?

    • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

      Well if one is committed to the idea that god uses miracles to do things in the natural world, and uses that belief to stop looking for natural answers, then that would hurt science. Christianity, and theism in general increases the chances that one will have this mentality.

      • Luke Breuer

        What is the logical chain of reasoning which leads one to stop looking for material and efficient causes when we think we have a bead on the final cause? I hear the meme you’re espousing again and again, and I’ve never seen it vigorously defended. For example, Newton thought God sent comets to fix the orbits of the planets and yet he’s the one who came up with universal gravitation. So he doesn’t seem to have had this problem you say exists. So, how about you provide some reasoning, plus evidence that it’s been followed by enough religious people to matter?

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Newton also thought that angels pushed the planets in their orbits to correct for his inability to predict their orbits properly. Every attempt to invoke the supernatural that was explained was explained naturally. Theism increases the tendency to give up searching and invoke supernatural explanations without any evidence. Look at all the folks down at the Discovery Institute if you want evidence.

          • Luke Breuer

            What’s your point? Newton did what you intimated ought to stunt science, and yet Newton was one of the biggest contributors to science there has ever existed.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            My point is very easy to understand. When Newton got stumped he invoked the supernatural and he stopped looking for natural answers, and it took people who didn’t give into the easy temptation to invoke the supernatural like LaPlace and Einstein to complete his work. Newton could have done this and we might 200 years ahead in our scientific knowledge, but he instead wasted decades of his life obsessing over hidden codes he thought were in the Bible.

          • Luke Breuer

            Where is your evidence that he stopped looking for natural answers?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            In a letter to the Reverend Dr. Richard Bentley in 1692 Isaac Newton wrote: “To your second query I answer that the motions which the planets now have could not spring from any natural cause alone but were impressed by an intelligent agent.”

            http://homepages.wmich.edu/~mcgrew/bent1.htm

            And if you want more recent evidence of theism leading to an increased tendency to stop looking for natural explanations, look no further than the Discovery Institute today and Answers in Genesis.

          • Luke Breuer

            Who says that because Newton thought that an intelligent agent did it, that he wasn’t looking for how?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Hey Luke, I’m not interested in going down this rabbit trail. My point is that if one is committed to the idea that god uses miracles to do things in the natural world, and uses that belief to stop looking for natural answers, then that would hurt science. Christianity, and theism in general increases the chances that one will have this mentality. If you think that’s not true, give me your reasons why.

          • Luke Breuer

            There are fundamentally two kinds of miracles:

                 (1) the Humean, law-breaking kind
                 (2) the Leibnizian, rational kind

            For (2), see Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles. I hold to that position. Given that, a miracle in no way prevents me from trying to understand how it was done. Speaking in the language of Aristotle’s Four Causes, if I think I have a bead on the final cause, this does not, in any way, make me less likely to search for efficient, material, and formal causes. If I see you do something really awesome, that doesn’t make me not want to see how you did it—the very opposite!

            Christianity, and theism in general increases the chances that one will have this mentality.

            I call bullshit. Provide the burden of proof for this claim, or retract it. That’s my reason: I attempt to believe things based on the evidence, to the extent that is possible. You prefer to base things on dogma. If you had the evidence, you’d present it. And I predict that you’ll attempt a tu quoque at this point, or somehow else distract from the fact that you reason dogmatically.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. You’re assuming that all theists think like you. They don’t. Many hold to the Humean law breaking kind of miracle in which god supernaturally intervenes in the natural world in such a way that it (somehow) leaves no detectable trace.

            2. The evidence that theism increases the tendency for one to stop looking for natural answers is everywhere. “White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). ”

            That you must contest this obvious fact is testimony to how bad your position is in this disagreement. The less religious one is, the more likely they are to emphasize science and evidence based knowledge when it comes to our understanding of the world. Hence, Christianity, and theism in general increases the chances that one will not have this mentality.

            http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/

          • Luke Breuer

            1. Nope. Why does “what most theists” think, or something like that, matter in the slightest? Truth doesn’t care about numbers of adherents—this is true for all kinds of truth, scientific included.

            2. What evidence? Is that really all you have—what you’ve put in this comment? Let’s be thorough on this topic, and not just dilettantes. Or do you not want to be thorough? I’d be happy to devote several hours to investigating this. I want to explore a huge evidential base—if indeed you have one.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. Because many, if not most, theists think that god supernaturally intervenes in the world in such a way that it (somehow) leaves no detectable trace. That’s how they see miracles. Believing this increases your chance to forgo natural explanations.

            2. That YECs is a view held virtually entirely by theists is not evidence enough to you that theism increases the tendency to forgo natural explanations in favor of supernatural ones? Luke, you’ve lost your goddamn mind. This is why most of the other atheists here think you’ve got a few screws loose.

          • Luke Breuer

            1. Evidence or I’ll only accept that some theists believe this.

            2. And non-theists hold no stupid views? You see, it’s irrelevant if theists hold stupid view A, if non-theists hold stupid view B, and A and B are approximately equally as stupid and damaging to further understanding of how reality works. And I have evidence that some VERY stupid B’s exist: for example, as explained in Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences—go over here for some details, then feel free to ask clarifying questions.

            I claim that it is much more damaging that we had such shitty views of human nature, that we did not see what Hitler was doing until it was too late. I claim that this error was avoidable, and much worse than YEC-belief.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. Even if just 20% of theists believed this my central point is still intact. My argument does not depend in any possible way on the majority of theists thinking god supernaturally intervenes in the world. And that you want to challenge this is telling that you don’t have a real argument here.

            2. Never sad that. I’m simply making one central point that you know is true and so you’re throwing up all this dust to hide the fact. What would kill science, according to the words of the American biologist and Christian Kenneth Miller, is the desire to seek supernatural explanations over natural ones, and being a theist clearly increases these chances.

            And so you play the Hitler card as if that somehow makes you win. Sorry Luke, playing the Hitler card is a sign you don’t have a real argument – which you clearly don’t. Even if I granted you all of your points, it doesn’t put one fucking dent into mine.

          • Luke Breuer

            LB: 2. And non-theists hold no stupid views?

            TT: 2. Never sad that.

            Oh, ok. So you have no idea whether non-theists actually hold fewer stupid views than theists. And thus, you have no idea whether abolishing theism will actually result in fewer stupid views being held. Ok.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You’re arguing against the best strawman debater in the world, who’s actually kicking your ass. I’m simply not trying to make the point right now that theists hold to more stupid views. It’s TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to my point.

          • Luke Breuer

            What point are you making, and where is it going?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker
          • Luke Breuer

            Yeah you haven’t convinced me that, statistically, theism hurts science more than atheism. Everyone has stupid views. You have yet to demonstrate that:

                 (1) theists, on average, have more stupid views than atheists
                 (2) becoming atheist reduces the number of stupid views one holds

            Without these, you have no evidence, and no sound reasoning, for supposing that the destruction of religion will lead to better science.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            When did I make the claim here that “theists, on average, have more stupid views than atheists” or that “becoming atheist reduces the number of stupid views one holds”??? How many strawmen does it take to screw in a light bulb?

            What kind of evidence would convince you that “statistically, theism hurts science more than atheism.” When you consider that, “White evangelical Protestants have the highest denial rate (55 percent) [of evolution], closely followed by the group across all religions who attend services on average at least once a week (49 percent).” It definitely shows that the more religious you are, the more likely you will reject natural explanations over supernatural ones. This situation is also apparent in the Islamic world, where larger numbers of people reject evolution than in the more secular countries. I don’t see how anyone can disagree with my central point rationally. Instead you attack strawmen and then pat yourself on the back. I hate to say it, but that’s so typical of theists.

            But why should convincing you make any difference to my point? That’s like an ardent YEC saying, “Yeah you haven’t convinced me that evolution is a fact.” How does the fact that I haven’t convinced that YEC bear any force against the fact of evolution being true? None what so ever.

          • Luke Breuer

            I don’t see how anyone can disagree with my central point rationally.

            Of course you don’t. You’re just as dogmatic as the most dogmatic religionists I’ve known.

            When did I make the claim here that “theists, on average, have more stupid views than atheists” or that “becoming atheist reduces the number of stupid views one holds”???

            Oh, you didn’t. And yet, if that is not entailed by your claims, then it seems quite obvious that abolishing religion would not help a whit.

            What kind of evidence would convince you that “statistically, theism hurts science more than atheism.”

            Heh, this sounds like the theist asking the atheist: “What would convince you that the supernatural exists?” Except I will give you a better answer than most atheists can/are willing to give. I don’t care so much about science doing better, unless the result is also the world doing better. You see, science produced the atomic bomb as well as penicillin. If we continue to develop awesome new technologies and not the moral character to wield them, I’m very iffy. Just look at Facebook’s recent experiment with emotions. Yeah, science was being done. Was it a good thing? not clear!

            Now, that being said, you haven’t shown that “theism hurts science more than atheism”; at best, you’ve shown that “one form of theism hurts science more than ???”. What I suggest you do, The Thinker, is tabulate all of the actual evidence you have, and note a few things:

            1. What group was sampled? (e.g. just US?)
            2. What groups were being compared to what groups? (e.g. Protestants? all those who believe in religion?)
            3. What was the sample size?
            4. How big was the impact? (note the mean and the standard deviation)
            5. What was the p-value?

            Then, you could put this online somewhere and point people to it. Use imgur if you have to, or formulate it in fixed-width font and stick it on a pastebin. I think this would be helpful for you building your case, and then you could realize that what you’re showing is not that all religion is bad, but certain kinds of religion. At least, that’s what I predict that you’ll find out.

            It definitely shows that the more religious you are, the more likely you will reject natural explanations over supernatural ones.

            LOL @ your measure of “more religious”. I’m extremely ‘religious’ by pretty much any person’s standards, and yet I have no problem with evolution. You’re using weasel words, The Thinker.

            This situation is also apparent in the Islamic world

            Yeah, because the only thing that’s different between us and the Islamic world is religion. Yeah…

            Instead you attack strawmen and then pat yourself on the back.

            Where have I patted myself on the back? Surely you know this, else you’d be making a straw man.

          • sidvicious

            “Nope; you’ve got to remember that I view the faith very differently from most Christians.” – Luke Breuer

            Would you care to quantify this remark with some data? What I suggest you do, Luke Breuer, is tabulate all of the actual evidence you have, and note a few things:

            1. How many facets of your view re. faith did you compare with members of other groups to be able to conclude that your view re. faith is “very” different?
            2. Who did you compare your view re. faith with (e.g. Protestants? Catholics? EO? Non-denominational? Others?)
            3. What was the sample size from each group?

            Then, you could put this online somewhere and point people to it.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I was going to make this point, but not nearly as well as you did!

          • Luke Breuer

            Tell me why I should do this—what it would convince you of—and if you can provide me a compelling enough reason, I’ll do it.

          • sidvicious

            “Tell me why I should do this…” – Luke Breuer

            You called upon The Thinker to quantify his claim that “theism hurts science more than atheism”. I am calling upon you to quantify your claim that you “view the faith very differently from most Christians”. If you believe you can do so, please present your data.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yeah, The Thinker’s claim undergirds the blog post; my claim undergirds… what, precisely, person who has never talked to me before?

          • sidvicious

            Luke, you made a bold claim on a public forum that you have a view of faith that is very different from most other Christians. If you have sufficient data to support your bold claim, kindly present it. This is a very simple request, Luke. Where is your data?

          • Luke Breuer

            Many reports by other people with whom I’ve interacted, both in person and online, both theist and atheist. I don’t have objective data for you, so you are welcome to discard my claim as unsupported by the evidence. I don’t know you, and if I needed to establish the claim in a discussion with you, I’d try. But I have limited time, and you’re obviously just trying to expose hypocrisy and not actually contribute anything. So have at it!

          • sidvicious

            “I don’t have objective data for you, so you are welcome to discard my claim as unsupported by the evidence.” – Luke

            If you do not have objective data to support your bold claim, then your bold claim may appear questionable to others. However, you are free to believe you hold a very different view of faith than most other Christians do.

            “I don’t know you,… But I have limited time, and you’re obviously just trying to expose hypocrisy and not actually contribute anything.” – Luke

            You just claimed in plain English that you do not know me, yet you made an unfounded allegation against me… and an unkind one at that. This is disappointing, Luke Breuer. All I did was ask you to quantify your bold claim with objective data… just as you asked The Thinker to quantify a bold claim he made.

            Luke 6:31
            New International Version (NIV)

            (31) Do to others as you would have them do to you.

          • Luke Breuer

            So every single claim made must be supported by a mountain of evidence? Is that how you’re taking my request, above? I suggest a different standard: claims should be better supported, the more massive is the action that is supposed to be predicated upon them. So, if the claim is: “Religion ought to be destroyed”, then quite a lot of evidence ought to be presented to support that claim. What, precisely, sidvicious, was predicated upon my claim that my conception of Christianity is fairly nonstandard?

          • sidvicious

            “So every single claim made must be supported by a mountain of evidence?” – Luke

            You made a bold claim on a public forum. I asked you for objective data to support your bold claim. You responded that you have no objective data to provide me. I suppose that concludes this line of inquiry. I asked for objective data… and you claim you have none to provide.

            “So, if the claim is: “Religion ought to be destroyed”, then quite a lot of evidence ought to be presented to support that claim.” – Luke

            If someone made such a bold claim, I would expect them to provide evidence to support it.

          • Luke Breuer

            Two questions, both of which you seem unwilling to answer:

                 (1) Ought one support some claims more than others?
                 (2) What did my claim of unusual faith undergird?

            I say ‘yes’ to (1), but I don’t think I define “bold claim” as you do. If someone says they were visited by aliens, I’m happy to believe them, but if they want me to change how I act as a result, then I will require more evidence. That is, I demand more support for claims under two conditions:

                 (A) the more the claim does not match common sense
                 (B) the more thought/action is predicated upon the claim

            It is possible that (A) matches up with your conception of “bold claim”, but I’m pretty sure that (B) does not. Care to comment?

          • sidvicious

            (1) Ought one support some claims more than others?

            I believe so.

            (2) What did my claim of unusual faith undergird?

            There are (reportedly) some 2+ billion Christians on Earth. Your claim that you view faith very differently from most other Christians seems to me to be a bold claim. For you to support such a claim, I would expect you to have queried an enormous sample size from the population of 2+ billion (reported) Christians on Earth. The boldness of your claim, in and of itself, was sufficient reason for me to inquire how you could quantify such a claim. As it is, you assert that you have no objective data to provide me in support your claim. Now, you are free to believe in the merits of your claim. You are also free to regurgitate your claim on public forums. Just kindly don’t get your knickers in a twist if someone asks you to quantify your claim.

          • Luke Breuer

            Suppose I retract the claim under contention. What changes in anything else I’ve said?

          • sidvicious

            “Suppose I retract the claim under contention. What changes in anything else I’ve said?” – Luke

            Perhaps you will come away from our brief exchange… a tad wiser.

            Cheers!

            Proverbs 13:10
            New International Version (NIV)

            (10) Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

          • Luke Breuer

            Please elaborate. If every single claim had to be supported in the way I indicated, what could be discussed? I honestly do not understand your purpose in doing what you did. Would you explain?

          • sidvicious

            “I honestly do not understand your purpose in doing what you did. Would you explain?” – Luke

            You made a bold claim on this forum, and I asked you to quantify your claim with objective data supporting your claim. You declared that you could not provide me any objective data. Thus ends my inquiry re. objective data supporting your bold claim.

          • Luke Breuer

            And what did you expect to find, were I to provide said “objective data”—which incidentally probably doesn’t exist, although I do know the person who runs the website, World Christian Database. I don’t know if it has details about beliefs, though.

            Give me a reason to actually support my claim, and I’ll see about getting access to WCD. Can you offer anything sufficiently interesting in return? After all, this would take several hours of my time.

          • sidvicious

            “And what did you expect to find, were I to provide said “objective data”?” – Luke

            I had no predetermined assumptions re. what I might find. That is why I asked.

            “Can you offer anything sufficiently interesting in return?” – Luke

            I make no such commitment.

          • Luke Breuer

            Whelp, if you aren’t going to offer a trade in ideas, don’t expect much from me. I am not interested in merely being interrogated.

          • Luke Breuer

            Your claim that you view faith very differently from most other Christians seems to me to be a bold claim.

            Very strictly speaking, my interpretation of the faith is at odds with most of the people I encounter, and many of the people I read, including famous theologians. For example, the mere fact that I have severe disagreements with John Piper and John MacArthur is a significant data point. The fact that I have severe disagreements with Friedrich Schleiermacher puts me at serious odds with most liberal Christians. The fact that I have severe disagreements with Augustine puts me at serious odds with most Catholics.

            Furthermore, and this is context you did not have because I was originally talking to The Thinker, and not yet, The Thinker seems to think that the majority of Christians throughout spacetime hold to his particular interpretation of DCT (which is much more restrictive than the IEP’s article on DCT). So on that basis alone, according to The Thinker’s way of thinking and not mine:

            TT: 1. You’re assuming that all theists think like you. They don’t. Many hold to the Humean law breaking kind of miracle in which god supernaturally intervenes in the natural world in such a way that it (somehow) leaves no detectable trace.

            LB: Nope; you’ve got to remember that I view the faith very differently from most Christians.

            So you see, sidvicious, even The Thinker accepted my claim as a matter of course. You came in and, as far as I could tell, added nothing to the conversation. I just got back from lunch with my pastor, who was mentored by influential Michael Horton and has had a beer with influential Roger Olson. He confirmed that his and my interpretation of the faith is at extreme variance with most Christians in America. Now, of course this is just a data point, and depends on his particular experiences and expertise in the relevant area. But it is a data point.

            Furthermore, I post a lot on three blogs of theologians: Roger Olson, Peter Enns, and Randal Rauser. I find myself frequently at odds with what those three theologians believe, as well as their commenters. This is another line of evidence.

            Yet another line of evidence is my fairly deep agreement with Jon Mark Ruthven’s What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology? Tradition vs. Biblical Emphasis, which is itself at odds with a lot of Christianity.

            Now, none of the above has an answer to your 3. And I honestly cannot be motivated to answer your 1. and 2. in depth without you giving me a good enough reason why. And you haven’t even come close. I maintain that the best model for your behavior—you have yet to disprove this—is that you want to expose me as a hypocrite. Can you provide a better model? Can you provide a motivating reason for asking what you asked? If you’re intellectually honest, you’ll have a fantastic reason, so let’s see it!

          • sidvicious

            “So you see, sidvicious, even The Thinker accepted my claim as a matter of course.” – Luke

            I did not refute your claim. I only inquired about the objective data supporting your claim. You asked The Thinker to provide objective data to support a claim he made. I followed the same path of inquiry re. your claim.

            “You came in and, as far as I could tell, added nothing to the conversation.” – Luke

            I was specifically interested in the objective data. I did not make to derail the conversation. In fact, you were free to ignore my inquiry if you so chose to do so.

            “I maintain that the best model for your behavior—you have yet to disprove this—is that you want to expose me as a hypocrite.” – Luke

            You are free to maintain that view. You may suppose that to be true irrespective of what I say, but you have no window into my conscience, and I will not belabor the point further.

            “Can you provide a motivating reason for asking what you asked?” – Luke

            I sought this knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            That is precisely what can and has been shown.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yeah I’m just not seeing the data. I see that fundamentalism leads to badness, but I happen to know that scientists can be just as ‘fundamentalist’ as theists. And so, once we put the blame properly on fundamentalism, what is left which can be blamed on ‘theism’? This is why understanding that correlation ⇏ causation is so important: failure to take that into account gets you blaming the wrong factors.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Shall we have a game of “how many theists and atheists believe humans have been able to live to 930?”

          • Luke Breuer

            My intuition says that the beliefs underlying the terrible predictions evidenced by Milgram experiment § results have caused incalculably more damage than the beliefs underlying what you describe. What are your thoughts on this? Let’s do comparisons, because all humans are fucking idiots.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Can you show that more theists than atheists or vice versa are prone to Milgram style issues?

            If not, then it’s irrelevant.

          • Luke Breuer

            No, I cannot. And if you want to call it irrelevant, then I will cease discussion on issues where you treat me as if I’m a fucking idiot. My point in bringing up Milgram was to show that there are issues much bigger than whether or not a lot of people accept YEC. I could argue, logically, that the Bible causes one to make more reasonable predictions in Milgram-type experiments, based on e.g. Deut 5 and 1 Sam 8. Some of the argumentation in here has been logical and not empirical. If you want to ban discussion because all I have is logical reasoning, then I will either cease discussing these issues, or also refuse to consider anything that is merely logical reasoning, instead of empirical reasoning. That seems only fair?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Luke, I am just trying to apply the logic you applied to our claims, to you. Calm down.

          • Luke Breuer

            No, you’re insinuating that I’m a fucking idiot. If you cannot accept that you are doing this, then I will more drastically restrict my commenting. Your choice. I am sick and tired from catching shit from you and others. It’s utterly dehumanizing. If you cannot understand this, then I am perfectly happy to spend less time commenting on your blog.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You have a big problem with the most uncontroversial elements of theism (e.g. more theists are YECs) because I have the ability to frame it in a way that you know makes theism look very bad, and you simply don’t like the way it sounds and are in denial.

            Go ahead and try to defend the view that theism doesn’t increase the tendency for one to jettison natural answers. If you’re that stupid, this ought to be a good laugh and I’ll probably be able to use you as an example for a blog post about how theism corrupts the mind…again.

          • Luke Breuer

            All humans look very bad, not just YEC theists. Nice try. Scapegoating was evil when Hitler did it, and it’s evil when you do it.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            When did I ever argue that non-YECs never look look bad? Luke, you’re simply not understanding a thing I’m saying. I’m specifically talking about the greater tendency theists have to give up looking for naturalistic answers and look for supernatural ones. I’m not taking into account anything else in their personal or professional lives. That’s besides the point. I’m sick of dealing with your silly Christian persecution complex.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m specifically talking about the greater tendency theists have to give up looking for naturalistic answers and look for supernatural ones.

            Oh, I realize you’re attempting to make this claim. The thing is, you haven’t actually supported it with evidence—not sufficient evidence. Yeah, some theists are YECs and there are few if any YEC atheists. So? That in and of itself is irrelevant, for it does not demonstrate that atheists do more looking for naturalistic answers than theists. Why? Because thinking you know the final cause does not imply you will put any less effort into discovering the efficient cause. It just doesn’t follow!

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Are you being serious.

            Here is a start:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution#United_States

            and:

            “A list of denominations that explicitly advocate creationism instead of what they call “Darwinism” or evolution include the Assemblies of God,[80] the Free Methodist Church,Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod,[81] Pentecostal Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Churches,[82] Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Christian Reformed Church, Southern Baptist Convention,[83] and the Pentecostal Oneness churches.[84] Jehovah’s Witnesses reject both evolution and creationism.[85]”

            Harris 2013 poll has atheists /agnostics who believe in evolution at 87% with Catholics at 58& (Christians figure worse than other religions) down to Jehovah’s Witnesses at 8%.

            http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publid.htm

            I can’t believe you are taking this tack, Luke.

          • Luke Breuer

            I can’t believe you are taking this tack, Luke.

            Well, you appear to have two options:

                 (1) assume I’m a fucking idiot, here
                 (2) consider that maybe I’m making sense

            I see you chose (1), despite all of our interactions to-date. My I ask, why you did that? And please, be 100% honest about whether you really did do what I claim. I could be wrong, but the sense is that you at least kinda-sorta respect me in some ways, but you did (1), in this case.

            If indeed you did (1), or something even close to it, I think I will choose to not discuss this further, because I do not like discussing with people who assume that I’m a fucking idiot about the item being discussed. And if you’re going to instead seriously consider (2), I want to see evidence of it, instead of a mere mental assertion.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Ha! That made me laugh – don’t tempt me to answer that! ;)

            I have to say, I think you are on to a real loser here.

            I guess the more pertinent question is causality.. Just like with the intelligence question, what is driving these causations? Are they correlations of other factors? A mix?

            My SIN colleague has done good work on this: http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/03/17/intelligence-and-religiosity-explored/

          • Luke Breuer

            I guess the more pertinent question is causality.. Just like with the intelligence question, what is driving these causations? Are they correlations of other factors? A mix?

            Precisely. And if you cannot show me either:

                 (1) upon ‘theist’ → ‘atheist’ conversion, a scientist becomes better
                 (2) upon ‘atheist’ → ‘theist’ conversion, a scientist becomes worse

            , then all the data in the world that you gather will make me deeply suspect that:

                 (3) ceteris paribus, being a theist makes you worse

            , and then, I will doubt the following claim

                 (4) the world would be better off without religion

            And yet, the very title of your blog post implies (4). Yeah, you and The Thinker have collected quite a few facts. And yet, when you attempt to put them all together to assert (4), your case falls apart if you cannot show causation, like in (1) or (2).

            Remember, the question here is not:

                 (5) being a theist can lead to some badness

            That fails to make a comparison. We must ask instead whether the following is true:

                 (6) being a theist leads to more badness than being an atheist

            For we know that humans in general do and think a lot of stupid things. Can you show (6)?

            Finally, in the strongest terms possible, I assert:

                 (7) level of fundamentalism ≠ level of seriousness about religious belief

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Causation is problematic, for sure, Because ultimate causation is the Big Bang,

            But, in simple terms, a highly religious person may have other reasons for being highly religious, and very conservative. But the denial of evolution is clearly driven by religious and theological dogma. You have admitted as much about yourself. You used to deny evolution, for religious reasons.

            I have had children tell me that evolution can’t be true because of X or Y religious reasons.

            I have never ever heard such reasoning from a secular position.

            My own sister, a nurse living in New Zealand, denied, to me, evolution. I asked her why. She didn’t know. It came from her church. It turns out that she does not have enough knowledge of evolution to be able to deny it properly, yet she still did on religious grounds.

            One of my talks for my God on Trial talk had a fundamental Christian who denied evolution. It was great getting him to understand he did not have enough knowledge of evolution to be able to do that, It’s on a video somewhere.

            One of my best friends is a theologian who started the Tippling Philosophers. In our early days, he was a more conservative christian (his theological evolution is a fascinating topic) and denied evolution. We argued massively. I put point after point across. He countered it with typical Christian based shite. Eventually, he contacted Conway Morris, a Christian evolutionary biologist who convinced him of its truth by email using EXACTLY THE SAME ARGUMENTS as me. The old authority from an ingroup member, eh!

            But it was his religious belief which drove him to deny it. With every step towards liberalism, he has become a better scientist. Literally, to the point that he is now studying for another degree, in psychology. I could talk to you at great length about him, and he would be a great example of how someone’s mind can become less muddied by the need for religious adherence. He is so much more likely now to follow evidence, causality and sound philosophy in his thinking. It’s great to see. He still, very tenuously, holds on to his faith, and has his doubts, but…

            I can give you, time and again, anecdotal as well as statistical evidence to suggest and support such claims as have been made here.

            I know of no evidence that can remotely suggest that atheists deny something like evolution on account of, well, anything,

            Look a the Texas Board of Education and tell me that is not driven by religious zeal.

            Zuckerman and Silberman’s work is also interesting to refer to, though, again, causality is key.

            You could look at the many studies into scientists and religiosity, and draw many conclusions, such that religious people are less likely to become scientists etc.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science#Studies_on_scientists.27_beliefs

            It’s a simple game of probability. I think you are flapping here.

            Oh, and about Sherkat:

            “Darren Sherkat of Southern Illinois University analyzed the results (paper in Social Science Quarterly —behind a firewall). He threw out questions relating to hot-button issues for religious conservatives, like evolution, but kept in questions on the big bang and continental drift. Even when they got a pass on evolution questions, Sherkat found that sectarian Protestants (that is, evangelicals), Catholics, and fundamentalists scored significantly lower than secular Americans on the basic science literacy quiz. He controlled for variables like low educational attainment, income disadvantages, ethnicity, and regional effects (like being in the South), and still found that conservative religious affiliation drove scores down. Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education found the same thing.” http://qideas.org/articles/science-and-religion-mixed-results/

            An finally, given that analytical thinking is closer to science and the scientific method than intuitive thinking, it is important to note that there is good research to suggest that religious people are more likely to be the latter and less likely the former (eg Shenhav et al, Gervais and Norenzayan).

            SO it doesn’t really matter which way causality goes, or whether, say, thinking styles determine religiosity AND scientific literacy.

            Because the important part is what IS where the IS is that religious people are more likely to hold crazy views.

            eg

            The global flood thesis
            dinosaurs and men coexisting
            evolution denial
            global warming denial
            men living to 1000
            giants walking the earth

            etc etc

            Apart from AGW, of the above, I know of precisely 0 atheists who adhere to them. And of AGW denial, only a few.

            Yet I know, and have argued with, shed loads of religious people who adhere to those crazy claims and many more. Their scientific literacy, then, is shite. And thus, probabilistically, if I pick 100 atheists and 100 theists, the probability is that the theist group would have higher adherence to some utter nonsense.

            I am still trying to get over the notion that my sister is one. Pretty similar brains. She believes for her own personal reasons, and, through adhering to in group demands and dogma, denies something scientifically robust.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yes or no: can you show (1) or (2)?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I was going to bring this into play yesterday, but it is a bit of a big point, so I will create a new blog entry tonight to discuss this point. IT will be about Terror Management Theory and mortality salience to do with reasoning which threatens theistic positions. I’ll let you know when it’s up.

          • Luke Breuer

            Fascinating; I was just thinking about Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death, and just pulled some bits out of Terror management theory with regard to some thoughts on individualism, spurred by reading Charles Taylor’s The Malaise of Modernity (first chapter). I’m also reminded of this bit from The Psychology of Religion, Fourth Edition: An Empirical Approach:

                Serious defects that often stemmed from antireligious perspectives exist in many early studies of relationships between religion and psychopathology. The more modern view is that religion functions largely as a means of countering rather than contributing to psychopathology, though severe forms of unhealthy religion will probably have serious psychological and perhaps even physical consequences. In most instances, faith buttresses people’s sense of control and self-esteem, offers meanings that oppose anxiety, provides hope, sanctions socially facilitating behavior, enhances personal well-being, and promotes social integration. Probably the most hopeful sign is the increasing recognition by both clinicians and religionists of the potential benefits each group has to contribute. Awareness of the need for a spiritual perspective has opened new and more constructive possibilities for working with mentally disturbed individuals and resolving adaptive issues.
                A central theme throughout this book is that religion “works” because it offers people meaning and control, and brings them together with like-thinking others who provide social support. This theme is probably nowhere better represented than in the section of this chapter on how people use religious and spiritual resources to cope. Religious beliefs, experiences, and practices appear to constitute a system of meanings that can be applied to virtually every situation a person may encounter. People are loath to rely on chance. Fate and luck are poor referents for understanding, but religion in all its possible manifestations can fill the void of meaninglessness admirably. There is always a place for one’s God—simply watching, guiding, supporting, or actively solving a problem. In other words, when people need to gain a greater measure of control over life events, the deity is there to provide the help they require. (476)

            FYI, James Lindsay recommended the above book to me.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            That is a good point again.

            Here is part of naturalism.org’s definition of naturalism:

            “Naturalism is a worldview that relies upon experience, reason, and science to develop an understanding of reality and humanity’s place within reality. Naturalism is hence a worldview that is heavily dependent on science for knowledge about reality. One’s attitude towards science and scientific Method will therefore control how one thinks about naturalism.”

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I think the burden would be on you, since it seems a) common sense and b) we have PLENTY of examples of this happening. YEC, evolution denial etc etc.! Jeez, I would ave thought that were pretty obvious.

          • Luke Breuer

            On a), atheists in the West in the 16th century would have shouldered the burden of proof for arguing that God does not exist—do you really want to operate by those standards?

            On b), what is the evidence base? Surely, if you are so convinced that what you say is true, and if you base what you believe solely on ‘the probabilities’ (unless you do not agree with Loftus in this?), then you will be able to show me the evidence without too much trouble.

            As to what is “pretty obvious”, I suggest swinging by The Social Construction of Reality, as well as social fact, and then read about Alfred Seidel’s “Consciousness as Doom”.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            You have a problem here because there are two options as far as I can see. Since there is a clear correlation between YEC belief, denial of evolution etc and other ridiculous beliefs, and Christianity, compared to atheism, either:

            1) belief in Christianity predisposes someone to be more likely to believe in these things
            or
            2) belief in both these things is caused by something else (ie correlation fallacy).

            The problem here is this. 1) proves our point. 2) means that people don’t freely believe but are caused to believe by other factors which themselves cause further belief in these ridiculous things.

          • Luke Breuer

            You’re obsessed with YEC. If YEC didn’t exist, would you even have a case? There are plenty of Christians who do not hold to YEC. And yet, you would have their religion destroyed as well. I sense scapegoating.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Whoah. You CANNOT ignore YEC. That is one of THE most prevalent thought crimes committed by Christians. Together with 930 year old people, global floods, Nephilim and other such nonsense, we have very unscientific thought processes. See my other post on this:

            http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2012/11/09/why-do-normal-people-believe-ridiculous-things/

          • Luke Breuer

            So all of religion is damned because of YEC?

          • FallanFrank

            God bringing this Universe from nothing BY HIS WORD trumps a worldwide flood…people living vast ages Nephilim etc etc agreed?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Both are unevidenced assertions which are naturalistically contestable.

          • FallanFrank

            For atheists I agree but do you agree that nearly ALL Christians accept this NOT just YEC.

          • FallanFrank

            Now i would think all Christians would believe God created the Universe the most incredible miracle you have to admit…so for atheists that belief is also nonsense but as I said nearly all Christians accept it as truth

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            You appear to be begging the question. It is no more amazing than anything else I don’t fully know or yet understand.

            Perhaps something like Loop Quantum Cosmology as opposed to God (TM) will fill the gap far better (think Ockham’s Razor).

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

          • FallanFrank

            There are apologists debating these very points Craig Habermas Lennox etc and the consensus is they are winning the arguments…take for example Craigs debate with Kraus when Kraus misquoted Vilenkin re, a Universe coming from nothing.
            From RF “Carroll rather surprised me by insisting that we ought to base our conclusions, not on theorems, but on models. For if we do that, then the case for the universe’s beginning becomes almost overwhelming. After surveying the field of models, including Carroll’s own model, Vilenkin says, “For all we know, there are no models at this time that provide a satisfactory model for a universe without a beginning.”[2] Models with a beginning fit the evidence; models without a beginning do not.

            Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/questions-on-the-origin-of-the-universe#ixzz379Qfuqjd

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Ha ha ha. This is BRILLIANT. OK, so, your consensus. Let’s look at the relevant field, where the people have the greatest understanding: cosmology and theoretical physics. I wonder whether the consensus is really God. In fact, Sean Carroll recently mentioned this in his debate with Craig. That God simply isn’t even remotely mentioned as a hypothesis.

            So your claim is actually empirically false.

            If you take who is winning the argument from the person’s website who you claim is winning the argument, you might well be getting some biased information which then feeds into your own confirmation bias.

            Finally, “For all we know, there are no models at this time that provide a satisfactory model for a universe without a beginning.”

            Take out the word “no” in that sentence, and the sentence has EQUAL validity taken on its syntax.

            Well done, your claims were vacuous.

            You see, the difference between someone like yourself and Luke is that Luke is fairly honest in his appraisal of different scenarios. He is less likely to jump on to a massive piece of confirmation bias. It’s not that you are lying, but that you are self-deluding.

            Perhaps more salient is the notion that you think you could properly know what happened at the beginning of this universe as we know it when it appears that all known scientific laws break down,

            On this notion:

            “At the heart of all of our conceptions of a spacetime singularity is the notion of some sort of failing: a path that disappears, points that are torn out, spacetime curvature that becomes pathological. However, perhaps the failing lies not in the spacetime of the actual world (or of any physically possible world), but rather in the theoretical description of the spacetime. That is, perhaps we shouldn’t think that general relativity is accurately describing the world when it posits singular structure.

            Indeed, in most scientific arenas, singular behavior is viewed as an indication that the theory being used is deficient. It is therefore common to claim that general relativity, in predicting that spacetime is singular, is predicting its own demise, and that classical descriptions of space and time break down at black hole singularities and at the Big Bang. Such a view seems to deny that singularities are real features of the actual world, and to assert that they are instead merely artifices of our current (flawed) physical theories. A more fundamental theory — presumably a full theory of quantum gravity — will be free of such singular behavior. For example, Ashtekar and Bojowald (2006) and Ashtekar, Pawlowski and Singh (2006) argue that, in the context of loop quantum gravity, neither the big bang singularity nor black hole singularities appear.

            On this reading, many of the earlier worries about the status of singularities become moot. Singularties don’t exist, nor is the question of how to define them, as such, particularly urgent. Instead, the pressing question is what indicates the borders of the domain of applicability of general relativity? We pick up this question below in Section 5 on quantum black holes, for it is in this context that many of the explicit debates play out over the limits of general relativity.”

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spacetime-singularities/

          • FallanFrank

            ” the argument from the person’s website who you claim is winning the argument, you might well be getting some biased information which then feeds into your own confirmation bias.”
            Wrong it actually comes from an atheists website….regarding Luke Im pretty sure he believes God brought this Universe into being he is a Christian after all if he doesnt then I would find that very strange..atheists are now fighting with their backs against the wall and remember it wasnt that long ago Fred Hoyles Steady State was the in thing thats until the Big Bang came along….now there is a push back to a an Eternal Universe because of what the zbig Bang

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            OK, fine. Which atheist has said that the theists are winning, and what is that opinion based on? Do you have a link? Only, this was a strong call of yours intended to serve as some form of argument. I would like to see if it stands up to scrutiny. This is what being skeptical is all about. You should try it some time.

            Now THIS is GENIUS:

            “it wasnt that long ago Fred Hoyles Steady State was the in thing thats until the Big Bang came along”

            This is the STRENGTH of the scientific method. We don’t hold to things because some anachronistic 2000 year old book tells us to. We change our minds, and proudly so, in response to the best available evidence.

            I love that you said this.

          • FallanFrank

            http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=392……notice you still havent answered re,my after death question WHY? is it because you will have to admit you arent 100% sure naturalism is true

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I can’t access that site from work, but knowing Luke Muehlhauser’s work (he blogs elsewhere now), I can categorically state that that would not be a claim on his site. The only thing he has admitted is that Craig often wins in debates because his opponents are unprepared and because of WLC’s very good debate tactics.

          • FallanFrank

            But the point was Craig wins the debates which you queried was not by an atheist…so now its because their preparation was bad that they lost the debates..thats like the old saying a bad workmen blames his tools…Craig is not only well prepared he also knows his opponents work often quoting them from their own books.But some atheists and Im afraid it looks like you are one of them just cant admit he defeats their arguments one by one.Craig has admitted that there are atheists like Carroll and Pelican etc who he said were very worthy opponents and found the debates highly enjoyable.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Craig is a superb debater. It says nothing about his content. See my 9000 odd word critique of his Reasonable Faith book in my reviews tab above. Unfinished as I ran into other projects. Essentially, he hoodwinks and uses fallacies. He starts his deductive arguments off with unsound inductive premises, which make his arguments, essentially, inductive.

            etc etc

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            “But some atheists and Im afraid it looks like you are one of them just cant admit he defeats their arguments one by one.”

            OK, before you spout shit about people you don’t know, let it be known that I have written a 25,000 word thesis on just one of his arguments, completely deconstructing it and pointing out the multitude of unsound claims he makes.

            That’s just the Kalam.

            I could, if I had time, do the others.

          • FallanFrank

            Finally as Ive got other important things to do…take a look at Dr Craigs website Reasonable Faith scroll down to the question and answers page and look at some of the incredibly difficult questions he answers….if you believe you have one that will stump him step up to the plate and take your mate Andy with you and put forward a question I will look out for it…bye bye

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Goodness me. I have been checking his questions out for years. I have included them in my essays, and I have a sneaky suspicion one of his questions/answers was in response to one of my essays which he answered appallingly.

          • FallanFrank

            the Big Bang might point to YES a beginning of the Universe which might point to a creator…Craig did a fantastic job debating these points with Carrol…Kraus etc but of course atheists who believe everything came about including the Universe naturally will never be convinced even if evidence was shown that a mind created it all….and regarding a previous question to you do you agree its only AFTER death that we will know the answer to such questions 100%

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            You believe, necessarily, that God is a brute fact. He has to be to fulfill the criteria of prime mover.

            Why do you have double standards in assuming that a universe cannot be a brute fact, but God can?

            “and regarding a previous question to you do you agree its only AFTER death that we will know the answer to such questions 100%”

            I won’t know jack after I die, and in all probability, for some time just before I do if I get some degenerative brain issue. Of course, you think you go to heaven. Would that be in the conscious/mental state before you die? What about your dementia? If not, when in your life? Your memories are stored physically in your brain. Do they transfer? At what stage of memory, since my memories change over time?

            And so on, the list of issues is very long. I have set some out here: http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/03/07/arguments-against-the-existence-of-a-soul/ and in my chapter on souls and heaven in The Little Book of Unholy Questions.

            Moreover, your question appears silly as it does not seem to take in to account Cartesian knowledge in that cogito ergo sum is the only thing we can know 100%.

            And to ask a question about what will happen after death is just odd, as if we know.

          • FallanFrank

            The brute fact is the universe isnt eternal in the past Craig has defeated that argument and Prof.Vilenkin agrees it had a beginning…so you have now surpassed Dawkins as your 100% sure there isnt a God or that this universe came into being naturally and when you die thats it…congratulations what an incredible mind you have to know the future 100%

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Hmm. I wonder how you would defeat loop quantum cosmology? How would you respond, for example, to the theoretical physics of, say, Yongge, in the Journal of Cosmology:

            http://journalofcosmology.com/MacyclicUniverse4.pdf

            You might also be interested in the lies that WLC peddles:

            http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2014/02/08/william-lane-craig-is-either-lying-or-getting-things-very-wrong/

            (“William Lane Craig is either lying or getting things very wrong”)

            Please do yourself some intellectual justice and read the other side a bit more diligently.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Luke just has a typical Christian persecution complex that he has to let out every once in a while. Unfortunately, it makes him say rather illogical things and we get caught up having to explain to him over and over again why he’s mislead.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I think that is a fair comment, Thinker. @LukeBreuer:disqus – if it is about probability, then a naturalistic worldview is surely better equipped, on average, than a supernatural one for understanding the natural world.

          • Luke Breuer

            And what evidence shows this? I’d like to examine the evidence base.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      Where did I write that? I said that elements of Christianity undermine science etc.

      • Luke Breuer

        You didn’t write that, but I see it as an acid test for your idea that maybe it’s a good thing for religion to be destroyed. What I suspect is that we’d find that certain sects make worse scientists than other sects, and we’d find that it isn’t religion qua religion that needs destroying, but certain conceptions of ‘the good’. I’d go off of this definition of ‘religion’—feel free to find a better one that actually encompasses all that is meant to be encompassed by the word:

        religion: a research program into ‘the good [life/society/polis]’

        • Andy_Schueler

          With your definition, the words “religion” and “morality” would become synonyms.

          • Luke Breuer

            1. Feel free to offer a rigorous definition of ‘religion’ that covers more than ‘morality’, and yet includes all entities one would want included by the word ‘religion’. You know, all the entities that need to be destroyed, apparently.

            2. I’m not sure that all meta-ethical systems suffice for being synonym candidates?

          • Andy_Schueler

            1. Not interested, I´m fine with the words as they are. You however might want to come up with a word for what “religion” used to mean before you redefined it for your framework.
            2. Yup, moral nihilism and moral skepticism wouldn´t be. But now you are talking about meta-ethics and not “morality”. Morality means distinguishing right from wrong (or bad from good or what have you) and moral nihilism for example is not a version of that, it is rather the meta-ethical position that such a distinction is not possible because there actually is no such thing as right and wrong.

          • Luke Breuer

            1. Okay then. I reserve the right to refuse to talk in terms of ‘religion’ without it being properly defined—kind of like how atheists sometimes refuse to talk in terms of ‘God’ without that word being properly defined.

            2. Precisely what is the relationship between meta-ethics and morality? I’m actually not clear on this, and my discussion with The Thinker greatly muddied the waters, from my recollection. There seems to be cross-talk between the categories, but precisely what it is, I have not been able to figure out.

            For example, is the distinction between right/wrong, good/bad, good/evil, etc., in the realm of morality, aesthetics, meta-ethics, something else, all of the above?

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      I suppose this is the point. For sake f argument, let’s take Islam as it is, to me, the most pernicious of major religions. Do you think the world is better off with Islam or not? If the world is definitely better off with Islam, it is our moral obligation, to some greater or lesser extent, to be advocating for Islam. We do not, because we a) think it is false and b) I wager generally think the world is not better off with it. Look at any Islamic theocracy, and guaranteed we would all want to live outside of them. From a consequentialist position, and from simple logic and evaluation, either islam is of nett benefit to our world or it is not. This should define whether we seek to minimise its presence.

      Now, you could say this is a false dichotomy, and that there is a third option: to change and adapt Islam to concur more with more progressive and liberal standards. But, as I have talked about on the Skepticule podcast, this is not possible due to the nature of the religion and its relationship with it holy book as demanding that society adapt to it, rather than, with Christianity, the religion adapting to society.

      • Luke Breuer

        IIRC there is more liberal Islam, do I don’t see how you can say what you have. Indeed, I met a woman at a party last year who was researching Islam women working on women’s rights, on the basis that the Quran was actually a major step forward for women’s rights at the time it was written. By your reasoning, this should not exist in the Middle East, and yet it does. The trick is, we just don’t hear about it, and you know, evidence of absence ⇒ absence of evidence.

        I think the world would be better without the lust for power, which is why I drop the references to Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20 all the time. French sociologist Jacques Ellul tears into this and many other perversions in his The Subversion of Christianity. So yeah, I’d say religion can get very corrupted! You, on the other hand, seem to be saying that religion is inherently a corruption. This appears to be the fallacious argument of ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’.

        I’ve read a lot of what you’ve said, Jonathan, and I see no sound argument of yours from the ‘all’ that is based on anything other than dogma. If the ‘all’ were really true, I would think that you could find that religious scientists do worse than non-religious scientists, on average, or something like that. But I’ll bet you cannot. Now, of course there are all sorts of rationalization, appealing to compartmentalization, cognitive dissonance, cognitive biases, etc. But these are just-so stories unless they’re embedded in testable models, and I’ve never seen that on the issue of religion in toto.

        • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

          Here is part of your problem:

          “on the basis that the Quran was actually a major step forward for women’s rights at the time it was written.”

          Islam is still there. Here is a fascinating claim made about Islam:

          “There is always the plight of context argument with Islam’s holy text Quran. The apologetic version is “Quran cannot be interpreted and understood except with its context.” This paraphrasing is constantly adduced by Islamic apologists whenever any argument against the violent verses within the text is raised.
          But the way Islam justifies the divine origin of Quran automatically exclude it from the use of historical method of exegesis. There is this dilemma for Muslims to face. The text in fact is contextual as understood by Muslim explanation of its historical formation. But it is not a version of facts Muslims want to subscribe when they are fomented to believe in the interminable status of the text. Quran is meant for the whole of humanity is the undisputed Muslim belief. The belief proceeds on as the book is pertinent to the end of times.

          Is not it implausible to believe in the infinite relevance of Quran and at the same time rise objections to critiques by embarking a context smoke screen? Should not Muslims give up the context excuse if they want to use Quran as a text which’s relevance is distended to the end of times?

          There is only an affirmative answer to these questions.

          Let us come back to the Quran. Allah spoke to a seventh century Arab in the latter’s language. And all what he said to this prophet is recorded to fructify a Quran. To sum it up, Allah sent his last message to this same prophet then stopped speaking downright. Because god sent his last message and promised to preserve it forever, he will not speak any more until the day of resurrection. He will not send any prophet, since sending a prophet will stir him up again. This is the end. God sent his final messenger, and even though he did not favor immortality to the messenger, he blessed the message with immortality.

          So, Quran, Islam’s holy text is not a pushover. It is the ultimate message of god. There is nothing to add or subtract in it. All of its components are divine, equally divine. All are applied to all and all.

          In conclusion, if there is a command in Quran, there is no need to look for its historical context since humanity from the formation of Quran to the end of times are living in the context of the text. It is the Muslim belief. God, Gabriel, Muhammad, three key figures formed Quran have infinite relevance, so the making (Quran) too necessarily possess the quality of being interminably relevant. If this is the common Muslim belief pertaining to Quran, there is no room for a context excuse in its case.

          Thus, the context excuse in the case of Quran is flawed in its fundamentals.”

          http://forum09.faithfreedom.org/viewtopic.php?p=12167

          • Luke Breuer

            Here is part of your problem:

            “on the basis that the Quran was actually a major step forward for women’s rights at the time it was written.”

            Islam is still there.

            Yeah, and Max Planck said the following:

            A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

            The shorter paraphrase is, “Science advances one funeral at a time.” There are tremendous staying forces in society, which stymie true progress. These forces are agnostic to belief, whether religious, scientific, or atheistic.

            As to your big quotation, do all Muslims believe that?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I have argued with fellow SINner about this on another post, and I think that all Muslims SHOULD believe this. Any liberalisation is a bastardisation of the belief and the Qu’ran. And this is wh I am more afraid of Islam than Christianity.

          • Luke Breuer

            Who are you to say what is a “bastardisation of the belief and the Qu’ran”? You’re nothing like a Muslim scholar, and I have to believe there are multiple schools of thought in Islam, just as there are in Christianity.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Who are you to say the oppposite?

            I am not an Islamic scholar, but from what I understand of the Qu’ran, and being the direct word of God, there is less contextualisation, less opportunity for interpretation, and more absolutism. That is reflected in the conservative attitudes of most Muslims. The term fundamentalist is often forgotten in what it means, The fundamentals of the religion. Islam adapts society to it, Christianity to society.

          • Luke Breuer

            Ternary logic: there is true, false, and unknown. I’m claiming that you do not know enough to deviate confidently from the ‘unknown’ position.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            So Luke, are you an agnostic as to whether almost all YECs are theists? Are you an agnostic as to whether theism increases tendency to supernatural explanations?

          • Luke Breuer

            No, I’m agnostic as to how damaging YEC is compared to all the other stupid views out there. I’m agnostic as to whether thinking you know the final cause means you give up on searching for the efficient cause. And I claim you have no evidence to show that I should be anything but agnostic.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            In this context I am only talking about science. I think the utter stupidity of YEC would be a top contender for all the stupid views one could hold on the issue of science.

            To your second point, god is supposed to be the efficient cause. Thinking that you know the efficient cause increases the tendency to stop looking for natural causes. Case in point, being a theist increases the chance that you will think humankind was created as-is via a miracle. What kind of evidence would convince you that this is true?

          • Luke Breuer

            To your second point, god is supposed to be the efficient cause.

            No.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            As Sam Harris said, “‘The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam.”

  • Luke Breuer

    If religion, qua religion and not, say, certain flavors of fundamentalism, is so damaging to the scientific endeavor, whence the following? Richard Dawkins Perplexed by High Number of Jewish Nobel Prize Winners:

    Continuing, [Dawkins] said: “Race does not come into it. It is pure religion and culture. Something about the cultural tradition of Jews is way, way more sympathetic to science and learning and intellectual pursuits than Islam. […]

    Asked why he thought it is that Jews have won so many Nobel Prizes, Dawkins was forthright with his uncertainty.

    “I haven’t thought it through. I don’t know. But I don’t think it is a minor thing; it is colossal. I think more than 20 percent of Nobel Prizes have been won by Jews.”

    According to the Jewish Virtual Library, since the Nobel was first awarded in 1901 approximately 193 of the 855 honorees have been Jewish (22%). Jews make up less than 0.2% of the global population.

    This year 6 of 12 laureates were Jewish. The 13th laureate, for the Nobel Peace Prize, was awarded to an organization and not an individual.

    Based on much of the discussion in this page, it seems like the above ought to be highly unexpected. I mean, certainly religion ought to damage your ability to do science? Isn’t that generally the argument being had?

    • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

      “Jewish” can describe a person who was raised Jewish, who now rejects the beliefs but still considers themselves culturally Jewish. Many of those “Jewish” prize recipients are actually atheists, like Steven Weinberg and Richard Feynman.

      • Luke Breuer

        Correct. And yet, I would expect the religious component to poison Judaism and make them suckier scientists, based on the general arguments being presented in this thread. That they are 100x as good as average seems insane, if religion qua religion damages one’s mental abilities.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Judaism is a religion, so how can a religious component poison a religion? Once one sheds theism, however he or she does it, they shed the component that increases their tendency to prefer supernatural over natural answers. That’s bad for science. I don’t see how my central argument that I’ve reiterated over 20 times now is touched one hair by your statement.

          • Luke Breuer

            Once one sheds theism, however he or she does it, they shed the component that increases their tendency to prefer supernatural over natural answers.

            Ahh, we’re back at this. Tell me, The Thinker, do you understand the difference between a “final cause” and an “efficient cause”? From our conversations so far, it seems like you conflate them, in a way that is logically terrible. So, please show that you understand how to distinguish between them. If you don’t want to do this, I don’t want to continue this conversation.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Back at this? What else do you think I’ve been defending? I am getting a little tired of this back and forth, especially when you never seem to understand what I write and you have such bad points. So please tell me now how the distinction between the two refutes my argument or stop wasting my time.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’ve said this before: one can think one has a bead on the final cause (what God’s purpose is) while still deeply want to know the efficient cause (how God is doing it). We even have a way to talk about this with science: the boundary conditions can, at least in some cases, be related to the final cause, with the equations being the efficient causes.

            Just think of it this way: if I see you do something, that doesn’t necessarily make me not want to see how, just because I saw an agent (namely, you) do it. So why would desires work differently when observing God doing something? Why would the fact that one perceives God doing something make one not want to understand how he did/does it?

            Your position just makes no logical sense. I understand it is a common meme, and I understand that many people do stop looking for explanations once they find an agent cause. But this doesn’t mean those people are acting rationally!

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Absolutely nothing you said refutes my point. You’d have to prove that every single theist and all possible versions of theism believe that everything in the universe, including the universe itself, has a natural explanation. If you can’t do that, you cannot refute my argument. And you can’t do that. That’s why my argument makes perfect logical sense and to deny this is to be ignorant of the argument or ignorant of the will.

            And by the way, you’ve never observed god doing anything.

          • Luke Breuer

            You’d have to prove that every single theist and all possible versions of theism believe that everything in the universe, including the universe itself, has a natural explanation.

            Why must I prove such a thing? Suppose that some sects of some religions don’t hold such a belief. Then your argument would criticize them. How on earth does your argument attack all religion, qua religion? I mean, I get how it does this based on your premises, but the question is whether your premises are sound—whether they match reality. So far, they only appear to match reality by targeting certain kinds of religion. And yet you are telling yourself and others that it targets all religion everywhere. How can you not see this?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Luke, you still don’t get it and are utterly lost.

            Suppose just 35% of theists take the Humean approach to miracles, OK? That’s all I need in order to make my point. I’m arguing that being a theist increases your chances of seeking supernatural explanations over natural ones. And I’ve said this 2 dozen times now. I am not arguing that every single individual theist takes the Humean approach, or that every single theist is a worst scientist than their atheist counterparts.

            If 30% of group A are doctors and 0% of group B are doctors, than a randomly selected person from group A will have a greater chance of being a doctor than the same for group B. That’s the same thing with theism, atheism and supernatural explanations. Do you get it now or do I have to give you more examples that insult your intelligence?

          • Luke Breuer

            Yeah, and being a human makes you highly likely to be a fucking idiot. So should we target humans qua humans, or should we target the aspects of being a human that make people fucking idiots?

            Similarly, let’s target the aspects of theism which have been empirically shown to be bad, instead of going off of some elaborate system you’ve thought up in your brain, which may touch reality well in some places, and be off in lala land in others. For example, let’s target YEC belief, and those who hold that God does somethings in ways that can never be penetrated via methodological naturalism.

            Doesn’t the above sound like a good strategy? And it isn’t “destroy religion”, it’s “target beliefs and ways of believing that have been empirically shown to be bad”.

            Here’s another way to look at it. If there’s a cancer, do you try and target the cancer precisely, or do you willy-nilly go destroying? And yet, you don’t want to target just the cancer—you’re reticent to even identify it clearly!—instead, you want to kill the patient altogether, or at least remove way more than has been empirically shown to be in need of removing.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Like I already said to you, I don’t base my desire to destroy religion solely on it’s tendency to be bad with science. There are other reasons that make it dangerous, and the fact that all religions are false is enough to warrant their destruction. Your inability to say whether it was wrong to execute homosexuals a few months back is proof positive that even your progressive interpretation makes a mockery out of itself. I’d like to hear you argue why religion is a good thing that deserves to be kept alive.

            Your first paragraph shows just how stupid your ignorance is.

          • Luke Breuer

            What’s the most rigorous, concise definition of ‘religion’ you can muster? And do the same with ‘supernatural’ if you use that word. Otherwise I’m not interested in continuing this conversation.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I’m not really interested in continuing this conversation. We’ve been down this same road some months back and here we are again. You’ve got an ax to grind with me and you’re out to prove a point. Well I’ve given you plenty of opportunity to say something fruitful, and you haven’t done it.

          • Luke Breuer

            the fact that all religions are false is enough to warrant their destruction.

            To what extent do you base this claim on:

                 (1) evidence
                 (2) absence of evidence
                 (3) a rational system

            ? I am particularly interested in your (1). I want to know how much actual evidence you have, for your assertion. When it comes to (2), that would be evidence which, if it existed, would militate against your claim of falsity. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, but if the theist cannot give you reasonable (2), then you have reason to reject his/her theism. You already know my thoughts on (3): it’s useless with empirical tests. Many glorious rationalistic theories have been upheld for a while with the scarcest of evidence; they always come crashing down, one way or another.

            Your inability to say whether it was wrong to execute homosexuals a few months back

            Ohhhh, you mean my unwillingness to decide with certainty on moral codes for a civilization which existed 3000 years ago, in a vastly different social, political, and economic climate? Good job misrepresenting my claim as if I were uncertain about whether it’s wrong to execute homosexuals now. Yeah, I’m less willing than you to claim that I really know what would have been best, 3000 years ago. I call your certainty arrogance; you call my less-willingness “stupid ignorance”. Okay.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I am particularly interested in your (1). I want to know how much actual evidence you have, for your assertion.

            It’s too complex to go into all the detail here, but we’ve gone over some if the evidence in the past in our discussions. I debate with theists regularly, and their evidence is abysmal. It’s a faith claim they’re making, it’s not derived at via evidence. Besides, the burden of proof is on the theist who thinks their god exists.

            When it comes to (2), that would be evidence which, if it existed, would militate against your claim of falsity. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, but if the theist cannot give you reasonable (2), then you have reason to reject his/her theism.

            I agree, absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, but sometimes it is. If something didn’t exist, we wouldn’t expect evidence for it. The absence of evidence is certainly working for the atheist.

            You already know my thoughts on (3): it’s useless with empirical tests. Many glorious rationalistic theories have been upheld for a while with the scarcest of evidence; they always come crashing down, one way or another.

            I admire your emphasis on empirical evidence over pure logic, as I hold to the same. However in the absence of empirical evidence per (2) the fact that no religious worldview is rational further supports the atheist.

            Ohhhh, you mean my unwillingness to decide with certainty on moral codes for a civilization which existed 3000 years ago, in a vastly different social, political, and economic climate?

            I used the past tense “was” and so there was nothing about what I said that made it seem as if you support the killing of homosexuals now. Cry me a river Luke, cry me a river.

            And no, I’m not on the fence about whether a “vastly different social, political, and economic climate” made it ok to killing gay people. If you think so, then a “vastly different social, political, and economic climate” could be used to support genocide, abortion, torturing babies, killing the poor, etc. Where does it stop?

            You never justified how it may have been ok to kill gay people, and the obvious reasonable option for you to take is the same position most Christians take on biblical slavery, which is that the Bible is simply wrong. With out a good reason why it was ok to kill gays (or own slaves) I am not willing to consider that it was moral 3000 years ago. Call me arrogant.

          • Luke Breuer

            It’s too complex to go into all the detail here, but we’ve gone over some if the evidence in the past in our discussions. I debate with theists regularly, and their evidence is abysmal. It’s a faith claim they’re making, it’s not derived at via evidence. Besides, the burden of proof is on the theist who thinks their god exists.

            (1) has nothing to do with evidence for the existence of God. That’s (2). Surely you’ve collected your evidence for (1) somewhere, somehow? It seems like that would be important to do, in order to correct your rational system—a system which, surely, is based on the evidence? Remember, your claim is not that the truth-value of some/all religions is unknown, but that it is false. That is a positive claim and requires evidence.

            The absence of evidence is certainly working for the atheist.

            Logical arguments aside (which I don’t find particularly compelling), I agree. But (2) is not evidence, it does not let you conclude that religious truth-claims are false. It merely lets you conclude that you oughtn’t consider them to be true. “If that were true you could show it” is hilariously false; just look at the various mathematical conjectures out there.

            I admire your emphasis on empirical evidence over pure logic, as I hold to the same. However in the absence of empirical evidence per (2) the fact that no religious worldview is rational further supports the atheist.

            Please define ‘atheist'; for example, do you mean:

                 (A) you know that God does not exist, or
                 (B) you have insufficient reason to believe God exists

            ? (A) assumes a ‘false’ truth-value, while (B) is merely an ‘unknown’ truth-value. You realize the extreme importance of the difference between these, right?

            And no, I’m not on the fence about whether a “vastly different social, political, and economic climate” made it ok to killing gay people. If you think so, then a “vastly different social, political, and economic climate” could be used to support genocide, abortion, torturing babies, killing the poor, etc. Where does it stop?

            Well, given (a) abortion in the world; (b) Rwandan Genocide § United States, I’d say we’re in the thick of this right now. What is required is to actually abide by principles, instead of e.g. situational ethics. But we must also understand that the process of adhering to moral perfection requires sufficiently small steps, spaced out sufficiently in time, such that people can actually take them. A real-world, contemporary example is rape in India. What is the most effective way of changing the culture attitude toward it? I don’t think that demanding perfection in one step is the best method; do you?

            You never justified how it may have been ok to kill gay people, and the obvious reasonable option for you to take is the same position most Christians take on biblical slavery, which is that the Bible is simply wrong. With out a good reason why it was ok to kill gays (or own slaves) I am not willing to consider that it was moral 3000 years ago. Call me arrogant.

            Most Christians, in my experience, haven’t a fucking clue as to what conditions were like, 3000 years ago. As to slavery, that issue is a lot more complex than you probably make it out to be; see this extensive, well-cited discussion of ANE slavery. You are arrogant for assuming a true/false truth value when you ought to stay at ‘unknown’. I suggest a read of Dempster-Schafer theory, plus Ignoring Ignorance is Ignorant.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            (1) has nothing to do with evidence for the existence of God. That’s (2). Surely you’ve collected your evidence for (1) somewhere, somehow?

            I don’t know what you were referring to here.

            Remember, your claim is not that the truth-value of some/all religions is unknown, but that it is false. That is a positive claim and requires evidence

            The positive arguments theists give for the truth values can be refuted easily. Therefore theists have not met their burden of proof. Saying something is false is not a positive claim, it is a negative claim. Saying something is true is a positive claim.

            But (2) is not evidence, it does not let you conclude that religious truth-claims are false.

            The absence of evidence is sometimes evidence of absence against a claim. But I by no means rely solely on there being no evidence.

            Please define ‘atheist'; for example, do you mean:

            (A) you know that God does not exist, or
            (B) you have insufficient reason to believe God exists

            ? (A) assumes a ‘false’ truth-value, while (B) is merely an ‘unknown’ truth-value. You realize the extreme importance of the difference between these, right?

            A is strong atheism, B is weak atheism. I’m in between in what I like to call “moderate atheism” which i’ve described on my blog:

            The moderate atheist is someone who doesn’t assert they know god doesn’t exist because they feel such a claim must be one taken on at least some faith, just like the theist’s. The moderate atheist simply disbelieves in god because they feel the preponderance of evidence for and against god leans overwhelmingly towards there being no god. They may also have problems understanding the coherence of god like the strong atheists but stop short of asserting god doesn’t exist because it cannot be proved.

            I would add that “god” here is used in the generic term. When it comes to specific gods like Zeus or Yahweh, I am a strong atheist.

            Well, given (a) abortion in the world; (b) Rwandan Genocide § United States, I’d say we’re in the thick of this right now.

            Do you by this mean that we have the social, political, and economic climate that makes this stuff OK, or is it still bad?

            You know we both want to see a world with less abortions, but what prevents people from supporting the things we know for a fact reduce abortions, like sex education and contraception, tend to be for theistic reasons. That’s a perfect example of how religion can lead to unnecessary harm.

            Most Christians, in my experience, haven’t a fucking clue as to what conditions were like, 3000 years ago. As to slavery, that issue is a lot more complex than you probably make it out to be; see this extensive, well-cited discussion of ANE slavery. You are arrogant for assuming a true/false truth value when you ought to stay at ‘unknown’. I suggest a read of Dempster-Schafer theory, plus Ignoring Ignorance is Ignorant.

            Well most historians of the ANE do have a clue what conditions were like and I see none that justify the slaughter of people born gay, which your god somehow designed. As for slavery, I’ve heard a lot of failed attempts to make slavery in the ANE into a kind of community service, so what makes this source better? Can you quote for me the pertinent passages that demonstrate show that there were no people forced into slavery and treated inhumanely at that time? i’m not arrogant for holding my views, you’re simply unable to make a convincing argument against me regarding slavery or homosexuals.

          • Luke Breuer

            The Thinker, it is tedious for me to have to quote through a sub-discussion when you could just look at it yourself. But I will do it a few more times, at least.

            TT: the fact that all religions are false is enough to warrant their destruction.

            LB: To what extent do you base this claim on:

                 (1) evidence
                 (2) absence of evidence
                 (3) a rational system

            ? I am particularly interested in your (1). I want to know how much actual evidence you have, for your assertion.

            TT: It’s too complex to go into all the detail here, but we’ve gone over some if the evidence in the past in our discussions. I debate with theists regularly, and their evidence is abysmal. It’s a faith claim they’re making, it’s not derived at via evidence. Besides, the burden of proof is on the theist who thinks their god exists.

            LB: (1) has nothing to do with evidence for the existence of God. That’s (2). Surely you’ve collected your evidence for (1) somewhere, somehow? It seems like that would be important to do, in order to correct your rational system—a system which, surely, is based on the evidence? Remember, your claim is not that the truth-value of some/all religions is unknown, but that it is false. That is a positive claim and requires evidence.

            TT: I don’t know what you were referring to here.

            Do you understand the difference between (1) and (2)? If so, do you see how your second-to-last response veered away from (1), into (2), despite my request to focus in on (1)?

            The positive arguments theists give for the truth values can be refuted easily. Therefore theists have not met their burden of proof. Saying something is false is not a positive claim, it is a negative claim. Saying something is true is a positive claim.

            Incorrect. Claims do not start out ‘false’, they start out ‘unknown’. A claim of ‘true’ or ‘false’ is a positive claim. If you would like, I can demonstrate how it is illogical to work your epistemology any other way, but I should think you could see how.

            I’m in between in what I like to call “moderate atheism” which i’ve described on my blog:

            Please explain how you’ve established the universal prior probability that has to do with God existing. I have no idea how you’d do such a thing, and I have thought about this.

            Furthermore, I do not take faith to be an epistemology except perhaps in the moral domain (having to do with ‘the good’); in that blog entry you are using faith as an epistemology in the is-domain.

            Do you by this mean that we have the social, political, and economic climate that makes this stuff OK, or is it still bad?

            I do not see any of this as a stepping stone from ‘worse’ morality to ‘better’ morality. I do think there are moral ideals, but I do not think we can get to them in one giant leap. Hence the need for e.g. divorce certificates, as discussed by Jesus.

            You know we both want to see a world with less abortions, but what prevents people from supporting the things we know for a fact reduce abortions, like sex education and contraception, tend to be for theistic reasons. That’s a perfect example of how religion can lead to unnecessary harm.

            Sure. And there is non-religious unnecessary harm. The claim that removing religion would reduce harm is a causation claim that requires support by the evidence. You see, when you remove someone’s belief that explains stuff about the world, they pick a different belief, and there is simply no guarantee that it will be better belief. I have seen people citing correlative evidence of secular societies being better off than religious societies on various metrics, but I have never seen a study which demonstrated causation. Until then, all that your observation here means is that very specific strands of religion should be criticized.

            As for slavery, I’ve heard a lot of failed attempts to make slavery in the ANE into a kind of community service, so what makes this source better?

            A proper comparison would establish <, ≈, or >. Since I don’t have access to your sources, I cannot make such a comparison.

            Can you quote for me the pertinent passages that demonstrate show that there were no people forced into slavery and treated inhumanely at that time?

            No, because that is not what needs demonstrating. Once again, the question is whether a moral force is being exerted on the Israelites to push them toward ‘better’. If you compare against some ideal, every single person throughout history will fall short, and even saying that some people fall less short than other may be spurious; have you gone through How many slaves work for you? Do you buy “Made in China” items, knowing full well the human rights abuses which go on there?

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      I have seen many reasons for this (including genetic priming, social and cultural reasons etc). I guess one question is whether they are orthodox Jews or even Hassidic Jews, or whether they are culturally Jewish. The several times I have backpacked around the world I met shed loads of Israelis. They get everywhere on the circuit. The ones I got to know were ‘Jewish’ but none were religious.

      • Luke Breuer

        That’s fine. I maintain that if it were an all-around good idea that all religion ought to be destroyed, one would not expect this distribution of Nobel prizes. Surely religion would have damaged the Jews, above all?

        • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

          Well, that general area of the world is entirely fucked up. LArgely by religion.

          • Luke Breuer

            That you blame religion is an indicator to me that you don’t understand human nature very well at all. I highly suggest reading Keith Ward’s Is Religion Dangerous?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I do, and knew you would say that. I qualified it with largely. You must remember what differentiates the groups there, historically speaking.

          • Luke Breuer

            I maintain precisely what I said, given your “LArgely”. Look, Jonathan, you’re laying a lot of blame at the feet of this amorphous thing called “religion”. I just don’t see the lines of causation leading where you say they lead. People can pursue harmful conceptions of ‘the good’ just fine with religion as without it. People can be True Believers in religion or in the State. You’re blaming the wrong thing; this is called ‘scapegoating’.

            Yeah, religion surely ought to share some of the blame—Keith Ward is careful to say that we ought to take it case-by-case—but religion has also done some excellent things. Can we really say, at any point in history, that had religion been eliminated wholesale at that point, things would have been better, today? Are you really willing to defend such an enormous assertion? Are you able to truly defend it in a way such that you could publish in an unbiased scholarly journal?

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      You would also need to explain the over-representaion of, say, Swiss and Swedes in a similar mode.

      • Luke Breuer

        Nope, I don’t think so. All you have is scattered evidence for the damage that certain sects of certain religions have done, and yet you generalize to all religion. You’re not adhering to any higher of a standard than I am, in providing evidence to support a viewpoint.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      In fact, it can be argued that religious orthodoxy actually stifled their success, originally:

      http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/18676/jews-rank-high-among-winners-of-nobel-but-why-not-israelis/

      • Luke Breuer

        Ahhh, so is the idea that religion hurt them but when they got away from it, it helped them, magically somehow in a way that makes religion out to be evil and in need of destruction?

        • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

          Don’t shoot the messenger. This is theorised from a Jewish publication.

          • Luke Breuer

            I understand. I just sense motivated reasoning, spread throughout this blog entry and the blog comments. Surely it is the case that not only { the specific sects of specific religions which have been empirically demonstrated to result in badness } are bad, but all religion is bad, and thus all religion must be destroyed. And so there is a bouncing between empirical evidence when that is available, and the claim that “all religion is false” + “all falsities lead to badness” when the evidence falls short of showing ‘all’.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I don’t think I have ever said all religion, all aspects of it, all outcomes of it, are bad.

          • Luke Breuer

            What you just said could be true if there were a single good outcome in religion in its history. So unless you can be a little more specific, and perhaps say precisely what it is in religion that you know, from empirical investigations, leads to bad consequences, it seems awfully like you mean something so close to all religion that John Loftus’ Who Cares About Certainty? We Have Virtual Certainty! applies.

  • Luke Breuer

    But what are you talking about? Expletives, or language that tears down instead of builds up? (1 Cor 6:12, 10:23)

    • FallanFrank

      For me the F word is a destructive word used often with aggression…if you believe its ok to use such a word then I have to disagree with you…but I ask you this why use it at all?…you were making excellent points until you felt you weren’t being taken seriously but surely you could emphasise your displeasure without resorting to using the F word. But just let me say this finally If you believe it ok to use expletives then thats entirely up to you I will still watch all your debates.

      • Luke Breuer

        Sure, words are often used in bad ways—does that make the word in and of itself bad? FallanFrank, let’s cut to the chase: was the Apostle Paul wrong to use the probably-expletive sukvbalon in Phil 3:8?

        Personally, I reserve expletives for additional emphasis, once in a while. Actually, I’ve experimented with this very idea for the last several years. It helps for the words to retain shock value; else they just become standard vocabulary words.

  • Pingback: On theists believing ridiculous, unscientific things, and Terror Management Theory | A Tippling Philosopher

  • FallanFrank

    Jonathan and Andy you might hate me saying this before I leave but I hope one day Christ will mean as much to you both as He means to me…please ignore some of my unchristian remarks even after all these years there are still sharp edges of my character that needs to be rounded off bye

  • Peter Sean Bradley

    Atheists have “been there, done that.”

    The Soviets tried for nearly 80 years and failed.

    Today, the percentage of atheists in the former Soviet Union is below 5%.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      Actually, it is about 21-22%, though has greatly decreased since its state days. And about 50% don’t go to church.

      http://www.levada.ru/26-09-2011/religioznaya-vera-v-rossii

      • Peter Sean Bradley

        My Russian is well past rusty, so I can’t tell from your source.

        On the other hand, Paul Froese in “The Plot to Kill God” says:

        “Nevertheless, the most generous estimates of atheistic belief show that less than one-fifth of Soviet citizens were atheist at the height of Communism, and this number dramatically drops to less than 4 percent of the population immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union.” (p. 177.)

        http://www.amazon.com/The-Plot-Kill-God-Secularization/dp/B00DPOLVT2/ref=cm_rdp_product

        Your statistics are apparently for 1970. (See p. 127.)

        • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

          Actually, they are from March 2012.

          Use Google Translate (you can get it as an app for Chrome)

          (The survey was conducted 4-22 August on a representative sample of the All-Russian urban and rural population of 1624 people aged 18 years and over 130 settlements in 45 regions of the country. Distribution of answers given as a percentage of total respondents with data from previous surveys. The statistical error of the data from these studies did not exceed 3.4%.)