Theists: It's irrelevant that you don't care.

Hambydammit
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Theists: It's irrelevant that you don't care.

 My new biggest pet peeve from theists happens in conversations about evidence for God.  Here's the typical exchange.

Theist:  Blah, blah, blah, blah, God, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Atheist:  So... what evidence do you have for your belief in God?

Theist: Offers one of the following:

     1. Intuition

     2. Kalam/Cosmological/First Cause

     3. Complexity of design

     4. Personal experience of "miracle."

     5. Argument from wonder

     6. insert any of the other twenty invalid arguments for god here.

Atheist:  Well, that's not evidence.  Those are bad philosophical arguments.  I was asking for actual evidence.

Theist:  Hey, guess what.  I don't care that you don't like my evidence.  I still love you.

 

Here's an example off of my favorite atheist blogger, Greta Christina's website:

Quote:
Hey Greta-

One thing you might be discounting in your pre-conceived notions of us "God-fearing peeps" is that some of us really don't care if you believe in God or not.

In fact, some of us (Libertarian-minded folk) are happy that you have the right and the freedom to feel the way you do in this country.

I find it humorous that your slant on religion relies heavily on the generalization that all God-believers are there to challenge you. Such arrogance!

Quite honestly, I have faith that one day, in your time of need; be it on a hospital bed when you're dying of cancer, or on a plane that is going down or just amongst your family when they surround you on your deathbed, you will think about what lies beyond.

Only then may you truly consider what you have to lose.

See, if religious-folk are wrong about heaven, no biggie. We all end up stone-cold dead, six-feet deep; atheists and religious alike. BUT....BUT, if athiests are wrong, they have f*cked up royally. Eternal damnation. Sweet.

Cheers!

 

 

Here's the thing.  That's just irrelevant emotionalism.  We aren't asking if you care that we don't believe.  That has nothing at all to do with it.  Whether you care if we believe or not, we care that you don't have any evidence for your beliefs.  That's the difference between you and us, you see.  We are firmly attached to the idea that science, reason, and evidence are the ONLY ways to know anything at all.  The fact that some of your fellow theists -- many, perhaps most of them -- are insistent on their beliefs being treated as if they are factually true makes it our business to question you.

The fact that we actually argue about things like "In God We Trust" and the teaching of creationism makes your beliefs our business.  When you piously assert your apathy, it doesn't help anything.  It just makes us all the more determined, since it ought to be obvious to anybody with half a social conscience that when your beliefs affect our lives, it is our business, and our epistemological right to demand evidence.

 


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"Craig does not deserve to

"Craig does not deserve to be taken seriously, I have heard more than enough of his approach to know what a sequence on non-sequiters sounds like."

I would like to see a specific example if you have one handy. Craig is a respected, well published professional philosopher; they're not known for strings of non-sequiturs.

"The very fact that Aquinas has generated so many pages on such flimsy 'evidence' as the idea that there must be a causeless cause, strongly suggests we have a case of unconscious obfuscation, ie you throw enough assumptions and devious arguments as necessary to paper together an apparent case for your preconceived position."

Hmm. In your previous post you claimed that no such arguments exist, so it can't be the case that you're familiar with them, yet you now claim that the evidence is 'flimsy.' How does that work?

"Having looked at the actual possibilities, in the light of current scientific insights into the nature of causation, anyone speaking on the subject from any era before the 19th century, unversed in the nature and implications of Quantum Theory, Chaotic Systems, Relativity, etc is quite irrelevant."

You're confusing physical explanations with metaphysical explanations. With respect to the physics, I quite agree. But it simply doesn't follow that the metaphysics is therefore false.

Edejardin


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"Premise 1 presumes a false

"Premise 1 presumes a false dichotomy...To be clear, the false dichotomy assumes that time and space are linear, and further assumes that causation is an entirely linear process."

How is this a false dichotomy? It may be a false assumption, but I don't see how it's a false dichotomy. And many cosmological arguments assume no such thing (e.g. Aquinas's First Way).

"Even as I stated above, the cosmological argument fails because it arbitrarily picks one of several choices, even if the dichotomy were true."

No, the choice isn't arbitrary. Each premise is independently supported in serious treatments of the arguments.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"Personal

edejardin wrote:
"Personal experiences do not constitute evidence for anything other than the fact that you experienced a particular sequence of mental events." Suppose you're charged with having committed a crime for which you had an obvious motive. Suppose that all the available evidence -- hair, blood, fingerprints, etc. -- points to you (you were set up by a clever rival). Further suppose that you had ample time to commit the crime, were in the area of the crime when it was committed, but that you did not in fact commit it: you were alone walking in the park. In other words, suppose that all the publicly available evidence points clearly to you, and does so in such a way that any objective observer would conclude that you're guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, while your privately available evidence -- i.e. your memories of having been in the park at the time -- contradict this conclusion. Would you honestly go with the publicly available evidence? Would you honestly say, "Well, I clearly remember walking in the park, I have no memory that suggests I'm guilty, and I know I'm not the sort of person who would've committed that crime -- but, those are all just mental events. I'm going with the publicly available evidence." You know you wouldn't. But if this is the case, then it follows that privately available evidence in the form of personal experience can, in certain situations, for the person who has the experience, trump publicly available evidence.

If I cannot find any evidence that I actually left the house and walked in the park, such as remembering seeing or hearing something, or meeting someone, that I can later confirm actually happened, then I would have to concede that I could have day-dreamed it.

My unconfirmed memories are not strong evidence for the reality of the recalled events. Many experiments have demonstrate how malleable and a subject to the power of suggestion our memories of even recent events are.

So even your dishonest tactics of trying to get a defensive reaction out me by asking me to imagine myself threatened by application of my own thesis carries no weight in contradicting my claim.

Unsupported personal experience is worth diddly-squat as evidence for anything as significant as 'God'. Your belief system is built on sand. Have the honesty to accept it.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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 edejardin wrote: ....

 

edejardin wrote:
.... stuff....

I already explained to you that I'm not going to indulge in a defense of empiricism.  If that's what you want to do, maybe someone can summon Deludedgod from his slumber.  I don't have the patience for the exercise.

There's a very simple delineation being made here.  Arguments that begin with "Suppose X" statements, and those that begin with "By all available evidence, X" statements.

Call them what you want.  I really don't care.  Let's call the first kind of argument, "Chocolate Milk," and we'll call the second kind, "Ginger."

Chocolate Milk is insufficient for establishing the existence of anything real in the universe.  It is merely speculation, and as such, might be useful at a later time when evidence comes in, and it can be used in Ginger.  Having already worked out the implications of X, were it to be true, we are better prepared for both its truth and falsehood when we do obtain empirical evidence.  No thinking person would suggest that Chocolate Milk isn't good in its own way, but Chocolate Milk and Ginger have different functions.  When people start using Chocolate Milk in place of Ginger, it just doesn't turn out the way they intended.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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edejardin wrote:"Craig does

edejardin wrote:
"Craig does not deserve to be taken seriously, I have heard more than enough of his approach to know what a sequence on non-sequiters sounds like." I would like to see a specific example if you have one handy. Craig is a respected, well published professional philosopher; they're not known for strings of non-sequiturs. "The very fact that Aquinas has generated so many pages on such flimsy 'evidence' as the idea that there must be a causeless cause, strongly suggests we have a case of unconscious obfuscation, ie you throw enough assumptions and devious arguments as necessary to paper together an apparent case for your preconceived position." Hmm. In your previous post you claimed that no such arguments exist, so it can't be the case that you're familiar with them, yet you now claim that the evidence is 'flimsy.' How does that work? "Having looked at the actual possibilities, in the light of current scientific insights into the nature of causation, anyone speaking on the subject from any era before the 19th century, unversed in the nature and implications of Quantum Theory, Chaotic Systems, Relativity, etc is quite irrelevant." You're confusing physical explanations with metaphysical explanations. With respect to the physics, I quite agree. But it simply doesn't follow that the metaphysics is therefore false.

Philosophers are typically full of it. If they were arguing rigorously on the basis of empirical evidence, they would be doing science.

If they are not, they are just playing word-games.

There is no evidence for a God as envisaged by Christianity, certainly not in the First Cause argument.

Any argument claiming to start from the 'conclusion' of the ontological argument is starting from virtually nothing, so any conclusions are obviously derived ultimately from the assumptions built in to the argument.

I heard Craig basically argue for the reality of Objective Morality by stating that he could not conceive that it did not exist. Anyone resorting to stuff like that is a joke, only respected by people sharing the same misapprehensions.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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"So if Aquinas claimed to

"So if Aquinas claimed to prove that an infinite chain of energy consuming acts was impossible, then that demonstrates that his assumptions were flawed, therefore he cannot be regarded as an authority here. He was simply wrong, no matter how many pages he wasted elaborating his errors."

No, this is not what he claims at all. Note that I didn't mention 'energy' anywhere in my very short explanation, but instead referred to motion. This is a technical term that refers to any sort of change. And change must be understood as a reduction from potency to act. Again, these are not physical explanations, which must be amenable to mathematical descriptions, but rather are metaphysical descriptions. (Metaphysics is often derided, but it's inescapable: even attempts to avoid metaphysics must make metaphysical commitments. Hence, the question isn't, "Physics or metaphysics?" but "Do you understand the necessary metaphysical implications of your physics?" Hence, the choice is to have an informed metaphysics or an uninformed metaphysics.)

Edejardin


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"I already explained to you

"I already explained to you that I'm not going to indulge in a defense of empiricism."

I wonder if you're even familiar with the problem that led Bertrand Russell to conclude that empiricism, *when consistent*, leads to a logical dead end?

Edejardin


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 Quote:No, this is not what

 

Quote:
No, this is not what he claims at all. Note that I didn't mention 'energy' anywhere in my very short explanation, but instead referred to motion. This is a technical term that refers to any sort of change. And change must be understood as a reduction from potency to act. Again, these are not physical explanations, which must be amenable to mathematical descriptions, but rather are metaphysical descriptions. (Metaphysics is often derided, but it's inescapable: even attempts to avoid metaphysics must make metaphysical commitments. Hence, the question isn't, "Physics or metaphysics?" but "Do you understand the necessary metaphysical implications of your physics?" Hence, the choice is to have an informed metaphysics or an uninformed metaphysics.)

So... because metaphysics is inherent in descriptions of physics, everybody who gets physics wrong gets a free pass?

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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The First Cause 'argument'

The First Cause 'argument' merely establishes that a certain class of object require some event to cause them to exist.

This is already a confused statement. Objects ('things') are in themselves assemblages of matter which have mostly have existed since the earliest era of our universe, and just have been rearranged over time. So we are either arguing about the origin of the energy allowing these rearrangements to occur, or how did the matter itself come to exist.

Any attempt to address such topics from a non-scientific background is mostly a waste of time, AKA 'philosophy'.

The basic FC 'argument' is a 'd'uh' statement, from which no further deductions can be made without introducing whole theories on the nature of matter, energy, causation, randomness, etc.

It is these theories which Aquinas and Craig are, or at least should be, addressing. The ontological argument is a triviality, am irrelevance, it has so little content.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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 Quote:"I already explained

 

Quote:
"I already explained to you that I'm not going to indulge in a defense of empiricism."

I wonder if you're even familiar with the problem that led Bertrand Russell to conclude that empiricism, *when consistent*, leads to a logical dead end?

I wonder if you're ever going to catch on that I'm not interested in these discussions unless there is a salient point to be made by indulging in them.

 

Let me put it more succinctly.  Do you have a point?

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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"Let me put it more

"Let me put it more succinctly. Do you have a point?"

Initially, my point was one of honest inquiry: "What do you mean? What are you asking of theists?" After this series of exchanges, however, I would say my point is, "Don't bitch and moan about the lack of evidence in theistic arguments if you don't even have a clear and distinct idea of just what it is you're asking for."

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"So if

edejardin wrote:
"So if Aquinas claimed to prove that an infinite chain of energy consuming acts was impossible, then that demonstrates that his assumptions were flawed, therefore he cannot be regarded as an authority here. He was simply wrong, no matter how many pages he wasted elaborating his errors." No, this is not what he claims at all. Note that I didn't mention 'energy' anywhere in my very short explanation, but instead referred to motion. This is a technical term that refers to any sort of change. And change must be understood as a reduction from potency to act. Again, these are not physical explanations, which must be amenable to mathematical descriptions, but rather are metaphysical descriptions. (Metaphysics is often derided, but it's inescapable: even attempts to avoid metaphysics must make metaphysical commitments. Hence, the question isn't, "Physics or metaphysics?" but "Do you understand the necessary metaphysical implications of your physics?" Hence, the choice is to have an informed metaphysics or an uninformed metaphysics.)

Metaphysics is 'uninformed' - energy is what counts, what requires explanation, what drives change of any sort, including change of state of motion, in either velocity or direction.

The obsession with motion instead of energy is an example of how metaphysics is an outdated framework for knowledge.

Motion can continue indefinitely in and of itself. 

The only thing restricting an endless sequence of change is the available energy, which is why I brought it up.

Aquinas is arguing from within an outdated framework of concepts, which fail to capture more rigorously established principles of motion and change.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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"because metaphysics is

"because metaphysics is inherent in descriptions of physics, everybody who gets physics wrong gets a free pass?"

Of course not. Rather, don't confuse someone's metaphysics with his physics. Aquinas's metaphysics is perfectly consistent with modern physics, though he certainly was wrong about much of what we today would call physics -- just as, undoubtedly, some of what we accept in physics today will be shown to be false eight hundred years from now. But the fact that some of our physics will be judged false eight hundred years from now does not entail that our metaphysics is wrong. We're talking about different kinds of descriptions, and both kinds have implications we can reason about. And, since metaphysics is, by definition, concerned with positing a much broader scope of explanation than physics is, it's not at all surprsing that it's not as rigorous or precise as physics. But that's a feature, not a bug.

Edejardin


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Metaphysics is an excuse for

Metaphysics is an excuse for sloppy reasoning about poorly defined ideas.

It has long passed its 'use-by' date, by several centuries at least.

His incorrect assertion that an infinite regress of 'motion' was impossible is an example of what such imprecise reasoning can lead to.

EDIT:

You could get away with such vague arguments back then.

We now know that the principles governing the universe are much more subtle and complex and so beyond such informal discourse.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Bob, simple question: Do

Bob, simple question: Do your scientific conclusions, methods, etc. presuppose any metaphysical commitments? If yes, then your pejorative statements about metaphysics are untenable; if not, then how would you characterize the non-scientific reasoning about the nature of broad concepts such as causation, relationships, dispositions, etc. that science makes use of, but cannot itself analyze, all the time?

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:it's not as

edejardin wrote:
it's not as rigorous or precise as physics

 

And that's why we don't like it trying to PROVE god exists. 


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edejardin wrote:Craig is a

edejardin wrote:
Craig is a respected, well published professional philosopher; they're not known for strings of non-sequiturs.

May I? This is how Craig "justifies" how he knows christianity to be true.

William Lane Craig wrote:
I mean that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistable or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know with confidence that he is fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premiss in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; [...]; that such an experience provides one not only with a subjective assurance of Christianity's truth, but with objective knowledge of that truth; and that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for him who attends fully for it.

Reasonable Faith, p31-32. Yeah, I know, very verbose nonsense. I guess throwing away the need for evidence is what constitutes a "respected, well published professional philosopher" in the apologetics cesspool. What does Craig have to say about unbelievers?

William Lane Craig wrote:
Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never because of lack of evidence or intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.

Reasonable Faith, p35. If he said it, it must be true! I think that should satisfy your need for things like non-sequiturs and unjustified assumptions. Seriously, I couldn't make it past chapter 1 of Reasonable Faith before I wanted to stab myself in the eyes. It's just so damn stupid. How in the hell did Craig manage to get a real philosophy Ph.D. and then go on to write such utter crap?


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edejardin wrote:Bob, simple

edejardin wrote:
Bob, simple question: Do your scientific conclusions, methods, etc. presuppose any metaphysical commitments? If yes, then your pejorative statements about metaphysics are untenable; if not, then how would you characterize the non-scientific reasoning about the nature of broad concepts such as causation, relationships, dispositions, etc. that science makes use of, but cannot itself analyze, all the time?

Not as far as I know. I see no reason for specific metaphysical 'commitments' as such. 

There are plenty of discussions about the broader implications of the latest discoveries and theories and insights from science, and speculations extrapolating into more 'philosophical' realms.

You could conceivably call this 'metaphysics', but it really doesn't to fit, AFAICS.

The basic point is that we have rigorous investigation, that is science, and we have associated more speculative discourse, as part of seeking plausible fresh hypotheses. Metaphysics seems unnecessary here. Those other concepts are either part of Scientific discourse, especially causation, and others might be part of math, (relationships, perhaps, or are you referring to human relationships? - which are analysed and studied by science) , or else just part of informal conversation. Not sure what you mean by dispositions. 

Science does analyse its concepts and techniques. I think the sort of things you have in mind which might be beyond that analysis would now be seen as in the domain of what we refer to as the "Philosophy of Science". Maybe you can see that as the modern name for "metaphysics", but it seems to be coming from a different angle from traditional Metaphysics.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Next the thiest will want

Next the thiest will want you to define the word "is" or "the", crazy.


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"Reasonable Faith, p31-32.

"Reasonable Faith, p31-32. Yeah, I know, very verbose nonsense. I guess throwing away the need for evidence is what constitutes a "respected, well published professional philosopher" in the apologetics cesspool."

First, where exactly is that non sequitur?

Second, Craig is here referring to what philosophers call 'properly basic beliefs.' A belief is basic if it is not inferred from other beliefs, i.e. if it's foundational, and it is properly basic if it's true and foundational. What Craig is doing above is arguing that the belief that God exists is, for some people, properly basic, i.e. known to be true independently of evidence and argument. Some other examples of common properly basic beliefs would be the belief that other minds exist (not brains, but minds), or the belief that the past is real. (All of this must be understood in terms of an approach to epistemology called reliabilism, but that's a huge discussion that would take us far afield.)

Third, Craig doesn't "throw away" the need for evidence. Rather, he says that it's not necessary; he nowhere says that it's not sufficient. It's a very basic logical fallacy to confuse necessity with sufficiency, you know.

"I think that should satisfy your need for things like non-sequiturs..."

No, because I've yet to see one. You've quoted two passages, and have claimed that they contain non sequiturs, but you have yet to point one out. Please, be explicit: formulate Craig's argument and show me precisely where to find the non sequitur.

Edejardin


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"Not as far as I know. I see

"Not as far as I know. I see no reason for specific metaphysical 'commitments' as such."

Bob, here's a way to think about it: A scientist can ask (1) "Does X causes Y?" and we could all easily conceive how scientific methodologies could be employed to answer sundry questions of this form. But how can you answer the question (2) "What is causation?" scientifically? Keep in mind that our obviously scientific question (1) presupposes some answer to (2). However, (2) isn't amenable to scientific analyses. Generally speaking, when we ask questions about the nature of broad concepts used to describe, explain, etc. some aspects of reality (causation, relationships ((as in X is so many units of measurement from Y)), dispositions ((as in, if any X will break under a certain load, it has this property as a disposition, even if no X ever in fact is put under this load -- say, because it's physically impossible)), persistence, properties, identity, modality, etc.) -- concepts science makes use of all the time -- we're doing metaphysics.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"Reasonable

edejardin wrote:
"Reasonable Faith, p31-32. Yeah, I know, very verbose nonsense. I guess throwing away the need for evidence is what constitutes a "respected, well published professional philosopher" in the apologetics cesspool." First, where exactly is that non sequitur? Second, Craig is here referring to what philosophers call 'properly basic beliefs.' A belief is basic if it is not inferred from other beliefs, i.e. if it's foundational, and it is properly basic if it's true and foundational. What Craig is doing above is arguing that the belief that God exists is, for some people, properly basic, i.e. known to be true independently of evidence and argument. Some other examples of common properly basic beliefs would be the belief that other minds exist (not brains, but minds), or the belief that the past is real. (All of this must be understood in terms of an approach to epistemology called reliabilism, but that's a huge discussion that would take us far afield.) Third, Craig doesn't "throw away" the need for evidence. Rather, he says that it's not necessary; he nowhere says that it's not sufficient. It's a very basic logical fallacy to confuse necessity with sufficiency, you know. "I think that should satisfy your need for things like non-sequiturs..." No, because I've yet to see one. You've quoted two passages, and have claimed that they contain non sequiturs, but you have yet to point one out. Please, be explicit: formulate Craig's argument and show me precisely where to find the non sequitur.


The whole argument, pretty much. Refers to some terms, which are aren't all that well defined, maybe getting his non-sequiturs from other useless philosophers. In other words, most of his 'arguments' simply don't follow, they are 'non-sequiturs', they are clearly based on naked but unvoiced assumptions and intuitions.

Beliefs not inferred from other beliefs already have a name, or names: they are "assumptions", or intuitions. Note it is important to distinguish these two cases.

The definitions, of 'properly basic beliefs' etc, don't really amount to much.

Using the word 'true' in there is a typically stupid thing that philosophers are prone to, as in the 'definition' of 'knowledge' as "justified true belief", which in each case is such a breath-takingly question-begging thing to do, that I only have contempt for someone using the word 'true' in that way. Such talk shows the person as so totally mired in old misconceptions that they are not worth taking seriously. That would qualify to me as a serious non-sequitur.

The belief that God exists is, obviously, for some people a basic primary assumption, probably assisted by some intuitive feelings. That is all that needs be said. That more accurately describes the situation than all the nonsense about 'properly basic beliefs'. In the absence of actual empirical support, it lends no particular justification to the external reality of 'God' (ie outside the realm of ideas).

The perception of time is a common one, and the the plain observation that it seems to be a useful and adequate model of reality is sufficient to justify basing our actions and further interpretations of reality on that assumption.

The existence of other minds is something for which have massive and pretty unambigous evidence.  It also 'makes sense' in the parsimonious sense of Occam's Razor. Unlike reported experiences of communing with God.

These are examples of how I see such issues should be addressed. Craig introduces a whole bunch of unnecessary concepts..

Be aware that I regard most philosophy, not all, as empty word play.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

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From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


edejardin
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This might help you

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edejardin wrote:"Not as far

edejardin wrote:
"Not as far as I know. I see no reason for specific metaphysical 'commitments' as such." Bob, here's a way to think about it: A scientist can ask (1) "Does X causes Y?" and we could all easily conceive how scientific methodologies could be employed to answer sundry questions of this form. But how can you answer the question (2) "What is causation?" scientifically? Keep in mind that our obviously scientific question (1) presupposes some answer to (2). However, (2) isn't amenable to scientific analyses. Generally speaking, when we ask questions about the nature of broad concepts used to describe, explain, etc. some aspects of reality (causation, relationships ((as in X is so many units of measurement from Y)), dispositions ((as in, if any X will break under a certain load, it has this property as a disposition, even if no X ever in fact is put under this load -- say, because it's physically impossible)), persistence, properties, identity, modality, etc.) -- concepts science makes use of all the time -- we're doing metaphysics.

'Causation' is simply the relationship between two events, such that we can identify how some property or action of X, possibly in combination with other predisposing states of the environment (temperature, air pressure, level of illumination, etc, etc) causes some net force on something in the vicinity to exceed some threshhold such that event Y occurs - an object moves, falls over,  perhaps. Or perhaps some chemical reaction starts to occur because the temperature has risen past some critical value. Very much the subject of scientific investigation, and no presumption involved, just direct observation of a sequence of events and associated forces, fields, temperatures, pressures, etc.

Your 'relationships' seem to describe Metrology,  the science of measurement.

'Dispositions' seems to involve things like the Strength of Materials, part of materials science, where testing on samples and correlations with studies of the structure and material composition of various objects allows us to predict the breaking stress of a given object. An important aspect of civil engineering design so we can design and construct buildings with a given minimum level of confidence that they will not collapse under the conditions they are expected to be exposed to.

Seriously I am surprised at how how mundane your explicit examples are. I had assumed you were referring to much more elusive and abstract concepts, rather than things which are so definitely part of ordinary science and even engineering.

We successfully design spacecraft to survive in conditions millions of miles beyond our direct reach, where mere metaphysics and philosophy was utterly inadequate to give us any idea what to expect...

Identity is fundamental to logic, but science is definitely used in tricky cases to confirm that some object is the one we assume it to be.

 

You seem to have an incredibly narrow understanding of what 'Science' is and applies to.

It really does pretty much subsume what was called metaphysics, just as it has absorbed 'natural philosophy'. You are so "century-before-last".

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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I'm sorry, Platinga is far

I'm sorry, Platinga is far too simple minded, for me to waste any more time on him than I have already in previous occasions.

Your attempts to explain the importance and significance of metaphysics have only conveyed to me that is even less worthy of my consideration than I had already assumed. It certainly further reduces any urge to follow up your links.

As I said, I am genuinely surprised at the ordinariness of your examples. I am used to discussions on science forums and podcasts and magazines which go far deeper into 'the nature of reality', the properties of time and space, the spooky nature of some aspects of quantum theory, the more bizarre implications of relativity, reconciling the theories of gravity, the electroweak forces, and quantum theory in the conditions near the Big-Bang singularity, the possible origins of the Big Bang, even the existence of regions of the math 'universe' with bizarre attributes, and so on. Topics infinitely beyond the sort of things you seemed to be describing.

in such a context, Metaphysics as presented comes across to me as this quant little bit of horse- or steam-age thinking, clinging on to the skirts of modern thought.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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"Seriously I am surprised at

"Seriously I am surprised at how how mundane your explicit examples are."

That's the point! These concepts are used *all the time* and in a variety of contexts.

(1) Your analysis of 'causation' includes the word cause, so it explains nothing. But notice that this defect aside, *your analysis wasn't in any sense scientific*.

(2) I gave an example of a relationship; there are plenty of others that do not involve measurements (e.g. the relationship between premises and conclusions). But that's the point: these concepts are so broad that they are applied to countless phenomena.

(3) Again, with respect to dispositions, I merely gave an example. There are countless examples that don't involve the strength of materials (e.g. the disposition of my glasses to fog up if I enter a warm room after being outside during a cold New England snowstorm; now I know the scientific explanation, but that's not what I'm getting at: the point is that the concept 'disposition' is used in a variety of contexts), which again is the point.

"You seem to have an incredibly narrow understanding of what 'Science' is and applies to."

Not at all; in fact, I doubt our respective understanding of science as such differs much at all (though I'm sure you know more about the details of the areas you specialize in than I do; however, as I said, I'm talking about science as such here). A I see it, the problem is that you have an overly broad conception of science -- especially if you think it can be used to explain its own fundamental concepts!

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"As I said, I am genuinely

"As I said, I am genuinely surprised at the ordinariness of your examples."

You seem to be under the misapprehension that metaphysical analyses are used to explain the examples, e.g. why X has the property of breaking under a certain load, i.e. why X has this disposition. But that's not the case at all: rather, I provided the examples to clarify what I meant by these basic concepts (dispositions, relationships, etc.). Metaphysical analysis attempts to clarify just what we mean when we use these terms and concepts -- which science is replete with -- and attempts to resolve the numerous puzzles that arise when you think seriously about them. You don't seem to understand the distinction between science and metaphysics. Science and metaphysics aren't in competition with one another, but complement and inform one another.

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edejardin wrote:"Seriously I

edejardin wrote:
"Seriously I am surprised at how how mundane your explicit examples are." That's the point! These concepts are used *all the time* and in a variety of contexts. (1) Your analysis of 'causation' includes the word cause, so it explains nothing. But notice that this defect aside, *your analysis wasn't in any sense scientific*. (2) I gave an example of a relationship; there are plenty of others that do not involve measurements (e.g. the relationship between premises and conclusions). But that's the point: these concepts are so broad that they are applied to countless phenomena. (3) Again, with respect to dispositions, I merely gave an example. There are countless examples that don't involve the strength of materials (e.g. the disposition of my glasses to fog up if I enter a warm room after being outside during a cold New England snowstorm; now I know the scientific explanation, but that's not what I'm getting at: the point is that the concept 'disposition' is used in a variety of contexts), which again is the point. "You seem to have an incredibly narrow understanding of what 'Science' is and applies to." Not at all; in fact, I doubt our respective understanding of science as such differs much at all (though I'm sure you know more about the details of the areas you specialize in than I do; however, as I said, I'm talking about science as such here). A I see it, the problem is that you have an overly broad conception of science -- especially if you think it can be used to explain its own fundamental concepts!

Mundane to the point of not really requiring any further clarification. You might as well have philosophical debate on the meaning of the word "is". You could, and I can imagine how it might go, based on my experience, but would be unlikely to come up with any genuine 'knowledge', whereas a study into language and grammar around the word, by someone like Stephen Pinker, would reveal really interesting insights in the origins of language etc - ( I have read his "The Language Instinct" ). Philosophy mostly leads nowhere. Science leads to greater understanding.

Ok, so I used 'cause' within my description. If I say "object X exerts a force on object Y, which 'causes' Y to move away from its current position", any of the words in the that sentence could be argued about endlessly in the futile philosophical, 'how-many-angels-on-the-head-of-pin' sense.

In the above sentence, 'cause' really needs no more clarification than any other word. Force is defined as that which tends to change the state of motion of a mass - in free space force is that which results in a mass undergoing acceleration as defined by the equation a = f/m.  That is why the force "causes" y to move - it is defined as something which has that effect. 'Cause' is just a short-cut symbol we use to refer to that sort of relationship.

Every time you give a concrete example, as again here with the fogging of glasses, it is thoroughly within the scope of very basic science. You clearly have no conception of the nature and scope of science. You confirm this with every response. There is no 'disposition' in the glasses. Water vapour present in the atmosphere will tend to (have a 'disposition to', if you insist) condense into water droplets on any surface cooled below a certain temperature which depends on the density of water vapour in the surrounding atmosphere. If necessary, science can fill out the mechanism of that tendency to condense onto the glasses.

You have a very different conception of what constitutes an 'explanation' of something than I do. 

No wonder you are blind to the nonsense that the God concept entails. You have confirmed every stereotype I have formed of the relationship between science, philosophy, and theology I characterize in my sig.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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edejardin wrote:"As I said,

edejardin wrote:
"As I said, I am genuinely surprised at the ordinariness of your examples." You seem to be under the misapprehension that metaphysical analyses are used to explain the examples, e.g. why X has the property of breaking under a certain load, i.e. why X has this disposition. But that's not the case at all: rather, I provided the examples to clarify what I meant by these basic concepts (dispositions, relationships, etc.). Metaphysical analysis attempts to clarify just what we mean when we use these terms and concepts -- which science is replete with -- and attempts to resolve the numerous puzzles that arise when you think seriously about them. You don't seem to understand the distinction between science and metaphysics. Science and metaphysics aren't in competition with one another, but complement and inform one another.

I do understand, even more than I did before discussing it with you, that metaphysics is a utter waste of mental effort.

Every example you gave of things that you claim had some aspect which only metaphysics could properly address were thoroughly, in every respect, including aspects of the interpretation of the words themselves, within the domain of scientific understanding, in the broadest sense.

We are obviously coming at 'reality' from seriously different methodologies of 'understanding'.

EDIT:

It occurs to me that metaphysics belongs with the mindset that doesn't 'get' the approach of science to explaining reality, along with the Platonic idea of some higher 'reality' where all these ideal forms and and 'causation' and those other things itself somehow exist in their own right.

Plato's ideas were more consistent with religious belief, and were adopted by the early church.

I think it has long been recognized that Aristotle's approach was ultimately more consistent with what we now call science.

So I think we are on opposite sides of this divide: Plato/Metaphysics/Religion/Supernaturalism vs Aristotle/Physics/Science/Naturalism. 

I am sure that there is oversimplification in there, but our disagreement seems to epitomise that distinction

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Brian37 wrote:It is called

Brian37 wrote:
It is called back peddling. Theists now realize that the old tactic of naked assertions is a house built on sand in it and won't blindly be accepted anymore, they try to incorporate REAL science to prop up their ancient superstitious myths.No amount of dressing up these old myths with modern science will make the claims true.

 

Science is often abused on many accords. Science in and of itself does not prove or disprove anything about deities. When we start to talk about such things, the discussion, for the most part, is outside the realm of science. The debates I've heard have had little to do with the actual science and more to do with the philosophy.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Brian37

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Brian37 wrote:
It is called back peddling. Theists now realize that the old tactic of naked assertions is a house built on sand in it and won't blindly be accepted anymore, they try to incorporate REAL science to prop up their ancient superstitious myths.No amount of dressing up these old myths with modern science will make the claims true.

 

Science is often abused on many accords. Science in and of itself does not prove or disprove anything about deities. When we start to talk about such things, the discussion, for the most part, is outside the realm of science. The debates I've heard have had little to do with the actual science and more to do with the philosophy.

And therefore irrelevant to even an approximation to Truth, that Science pursues - rather just pure speculation and personal subjective opinion and intuition....

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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well maybe we could do an

well maybe we could do an experiment on my friend who lost his arm. we could observe him being prayed for and ask God that his arm grow back.

IMO, if nothing happens, that is of proof that there is no God. If it grew back right before my eyes i think i would have to believe that evidence to be very convincing and say yes God does exist. But i think we all know what the results would be. Its just as dumb to do Leprechaun experiments.


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"Every time you give a

"Every time you give a concrete example, as again here with the fogging of glasses, it is thoroughly within the scope of very basic science. You clearly have no conception of the nature and scope of science."

Bob, did you actually read my post? I said *explicitly* that I understand the scientific explanation for my fogging glasses, just as I said *explicitly* that the point of the example was to show what I mean by the term 'disposition,' which you had initially erroneously concluded concerned "part of materials science."

I'm at a loss as to how to proceed. You're clearly very intelligent, but your penchant to interpret everything that's presented to you in terms of some specific science is either (1) a genuine intellectual weakness (and, if this is the case, it's an obviously self refuting weakness, since, if you subscribe to the proposition, "Everything must be understood in terms of some specific science," then you've committed yourself to a proposition that cannot *itself* be understood in terms of some specific science) or (2) a pose you apply inconsistently, depending on the issue under discussion. I doubt you concern yourself with the chemistry of ink, or with the principles of neuroscience, or with the science of optics when you read poetry. But what you are doing here is literally just as absurd. It's simply obvious that science cannot investigate the fundamental categories it presupposes -- cannot investigate them scientifically, that is -- and that these categories, since we ascribe meaning to them, and make constant use of them, must be rationally investigated. But when you undertake an investigation of these concepts, you're not doing science, but metaphysics. Now, the problems of metaphysics might not be as obvious as the inescapable nature of metaphysics is, but that's another issue. Perhaps you simply can't see the problems with fundamental terms like "causation' and 'disposition.' If that's so, I'd be happy to discuss them with you. But if you're genuinely not interested because you honestly think that concepts like 'causation' are "mundane to the point of not really requiring any further clarification," then all I can say is it's obvious you haven't scratched the surface of them. They present us with deep problems that have enormous implications for our very understanding of science. (If you doubt this last point, then I encourage you to look into the influence of Hume's conception of causation on our modern view of science: for example, the ever popular falsification criterion is directly traceable to Hume through Popper's response to logical positivism's verification criterion of meaning; indeed, if you don't understand Hume, you don't understand the whole point of falsification.)

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edejardin wrote:"Every time

edejardin wrote:
"Every time you give a concrete example, as again here with the fogging of glasses, it is thoroughly within the scope of very basic science. You clearly have no conception of the nature and scope of science." Bob, did you actually read my post? I said *explicitly* that I understand the scientific explanation for my fogging glasses, just as I said *explicitly* that the point of the example was to show what I mean by the term 'disposition,' which you had initially erroneously concluded concerned "part of materials science." I'm at a loss as to how to proceed. You're clearly very intelligent, but your penchant to interpret everything that's presented to you in terms of some specific science is either (1) a genuine intellectual weakness (and, if this is the case, it's an obviously self refuting weakness, since, if you subscribe to the proposition, "Everything must be understood in terms of some specific science," then you've committed yourself to a proposition that cannot *itself* be understood in terms of some specific science) or (2) a pose you apply inconsistently, depending on the issue under discussion. I doubt you concern yourself with the chemistry of ink, or with the principles of neuroscience, or with the science of optics when you read poetry. But what you are doing here is literally just as absurd. It's simply obvious that science cannot investigate the fundamental categories it presupposes -- cannot investigate them scientifically, that is -- and that these categories, since we ascribe meaning to them, and make constant use of them, must be rationally investigated. But when you undertake an investigation of these concepts, you're not doing science, but metaphysics. Now, the problems of metaphysics might not be as obvious as the inescapable nature of metaphysics is, but that's another issue. Perhaps you simply can't see the problems with fundamental terms like "causation' and 'disposition.' If that's so, I'd be happy to discuss them with you. But if you're genuinely not interested because you honestly think that concepts like 'causation' are "mundane to the point of not really requiring any further clarification," then all I can say is it's obvious you haven't scratched the surface of them. They present us with deep problems that have enormous implications for our very understanding of science. (If you doubt this last point, then I encourage you to look into the influence of Hume's conception of causation on our modern view of science: for example, the ever popular falsification criterion is directly traceable to Hume through Popper's response to logical positivism's verification criterion of meaning; indeed, if you don't understand Hume, you don't understand the whole point of falsification.)

And your 'disposition' made no sense, as applied to the glasses. It makes no sense as something specifically associated with the glasses.

I tried to explain the only way I could see the term making any sense.

If that's not what you meant by 'disposition', then to me it is a empty concept, requiring NO explanation.

Metaphysics is confronted with exactly the same explanatory paradox that you try to attach to my science-based approach, if it is meant to provide an ultimate explanation for 'Life, the Universe, and Everything'™. 

'Causation' is a label we attach to a category of relationships between events such that whenever X occurs in a specific context, Y is almost certain to follow closely, especially if there appears to be some close interaction immediately preceding Y. That is it. Psychology and Neuro-science can in fact show how the concept arose in our culture. Such chains of explanation are not circular as you might suppose, they do ultimately lead back to the fundamental starting assumptions of the empirical approach, which like those of every system of thought, logic and metaphysics included, cannot be justified within the system itself. No system of thought can be 'complete' - read Göedel.

The desire to seek some more abstract 'explanation' or context for the such concepts seems to me to be your problem. I see no point in such pursuit, just as I see deep flaws in Plato's cave scenario in trying to explain the idea of a realm where concepts exist in some perfect prototype form.

I keep pointing out whenever you try to give a concrete example for each of these concepts, it is either fundamentally flawed in itself, like the glasses example, or a demonstration, to me at least, that the metaphysical 'explanation' of the concept is totally unnecessary - in the 'real' as well as the 'metaphysical' sense. It actually contributes nothing to understanding the real world categories that it purports to. IMHO.

Your continuing inability to see how this presents a problem for your approach is what I perceive as your 'weakness' - you are wedded to a flawed approach to understanding - the Platonic one as I described.

Obviously, by definition, you believe your Platonic approach is valid, but even if we refrain from judging the two approaches, your problem is that you are trying to reconcile a Platonic understanding with an Aristotelean one. Doesn't  work.

Your 'weakness' then is your inability to step back and see this disagreement in these terms.

Your example of reading poetry is interesting. references to the chemistry of ink and the science of optics demonstrate a profound misunderstanding, unless you intended them to be taken rhetorically. Neuroscience is actually relevant, but not adequate in itself. Psychology and Cognitive Science are definitely required, at a minimum. 

Hume is one of my favorites, one of the few philosophers I can identify with. I think Popper's approach has a few problems, but is otherwise quite a useful contribution.

Quantum Theory presents far more relevant and fundamental challenges to traditional concepts of causation than any philosophy.

BTW did you read my EDITed addition to the post you are responding to, where I expanded on the idea of the Platonic vs the Aristotelean approaches? You made no reference to that, which is highly relevant.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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"BTW did you read my EDITed

"BTW did you read my EDITed addition to the post you are responding to, where I expanded on the idea of the Platonic vs the Aristotelean approaches? You made no reference to that, which is highly relevant."

Yes, I did read it. I made no reference to it because you had it exactly backwards -- as an Analytical Thomist, I am much more an Aristotelian than than a Platonist (though there is much debate about how sharply and where precisely these lines can be drawn) -- and I didn't want to set hares running down yet more trails we both perhaps lack the time and inclination to pursue. This discussion has already moved from a request concerning how the OP used the term 'evidence' to one concerning the relationship between science and metaphysics. But, for the record, I'm very much an Aristotelian. What surprises me is your claimed affinity for Aristotle, a philosopher whose metaphysics has inspired and informed the points that I've been making, and that you've been vigorously opposing, in this very thread!

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"BTW did you

edejardin wrote:
"BTW did you read my EDITed addition to the post you are responding to, where I expanded on the idea of the Platonic vs the Aristotelean approaches? You made no reference to that, which is highly relevant." Yes, I did read it. I made no reference to it because you had it exactly backwards -- as an Analytical Thomist, I am much more an Aristotelian than than a Platonist (though there is much debate about how sharply and where precisely these lines can be drawn) -- and I didn't want to set hares running down yet more trails we both perhaps lack the time and inclination to pursue. This discussion has already moved from a request concerning how the OP used the term 'evidence' to one concerning the relationship between science and metaphysics. But, for the record, I'm very much an Aristotelian. What surprises me is your claimed affinity for Aristotle, a philosopher whose metaphysics has inspired and informed the points that I've been making, and that you've been vigorously opposing, in this very thread!

Curious. I was basing that distinction particularly on attitudes to gaining knowledge of the world, and Aristotle's position is clearly far closer to empirical Science that Plato's.

I certainly don't agree with all or even most of the ideas of any early philosopher, they all had one or more profound misconceptions, as did Aquinas. He has nothing useful to tell me, I doubt he ultimately contributed much in any positive sense. You do realize I am deliberately trying to offend you...

I can't argue with your claim to have been inspired by Aristotle, you probably by your predisposition picked up on the sillier aspects of his ideas.

If you are applying formal reasoning to empirical data, you are doing Science.

If you are applying it purely to a properly formal set of assumptions (axioms), you are in a formal system (Logic, Mathematics, etc), and applicability to the 'real' world depends purely on how closely the axioms map to aspects of external reality.

As you get away from purely formal reasoning, in either case, you are on a spectrum which ends up as a form of ordinary conversation, passing thru philosophy on the way.

Dunno quite where metaphysics fits in there. Not sure I care.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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 This is still going on?

 This is still going on?  Sheesh.

I stopped taking Edejardin seriously when he couldn't figure out the difference between knowledge of evidence and evidence itself.

I agree with you, Bob, that he appears not to be up to date on the scope of science.  I think it comes from reading too much pre-20th century philosophy and not enough science.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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"Curious. I was basing that

"Curious. I was basing that distinction particularly on attitudes to gaining knowledge of the world, and Aristotle's position is clearly far closer to empirical Science that Plato's."

Again, let me try to make this clear: I doubt there's much about science, qua science, we disagree about, whether we're talking method, scope, conclusions, etc., and any disagreements we might have would be scientific disagreements of the sort that obtain among scientists. As such, they would be amenable to the sorts of scientific analyses you favor -- and which I would be in perfect agreement with with respect to the resolution of those particular scientific issues. *I, however, have not been discussing issues amenable to scientific analyses*. I have no problem with science whatsoever, *but I do have a problem with those who attempt to place every aspect of human inquiry under its domain*. And this, it strikes me, is the root of the fundamental difference between us: You think either that all questions are ultimately scientific questions, or that all answers worth having are scientific answers (or some combination of the two), and I think that not all questions are scientific questions, and that some of the non-scientific answers we get are indeed worth having. Your motto is, "If it's not science, it's non-sense"; mine is, "If it's not science, it's non-science"; non-sense is never praiseworthy, but non-science sometimes is. But the important point is this: my view allows for every bit of science contained in your view (hence my statement about our science differing not at all), but acknowledges that we can go beyond it (not in the sense of superseding it, but in the sense of answering questions beyond its scope), while your view is limited only to the science I already accept. This is why I find your persistent remarks about my not understanding science amusing, and your persistent reduction of everything-to-science bemusing.

"You do realize I am deliberately trying to offend you"

My respect for your intelligence and for your willingness to discuss these issues with me overrides by a large margin the ill effects of any offense you may intend, and at which I might take umbrage. But, whatever your intentions, I was not in the least bit offended.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"Curious. I

edejardin wrote:
"Curious. I was basing that distinction particularly on attitudes to gaining knowledge of the world, and Aristotle's position is clearly far closer to empirical Science that Plato's." Again, let me try to make this clear: I doubt there's much about science, qua science, we disagree about, whether we're talking method, scope, conclusions, etc., and any disagreements we might have would be scientific disagreements of the sort that obtain among scientists. As such, they would be amenable to the sorts of scientific analyses you favor -- and which I would be in perfect agreement with with respect to the resolution of those particular scientific issues. *I, however, have not been discussing issues amenable to scientific analyses*. I have no problem with science whatsoever, *but I do have a problem with those who attempt to place every aspect of human inquiry under its domain*. And this, it strikes me, is the root of the fundamental difference between us: You think either that all questions are ultimately scientific questions, or that all answers worth having are scientific answers (or some combination of the two), and I think that not all questions are scientific questions, and that some of the non-scientific answers we get are indeed worth having. Your motto is, "If it's not science, it's non-sense"; mine is, "If it's not science, it's non-science"; non-sense is never praiseworthy, but non-science sometimes is. But the important point is this: my view allows for every bit of science contained in your view (hence my statement about our science differing not at all), but acknowledges that we can go beyond it (not in the sense of superseding it, but in the sense of answering questions beyond its scope), while your view is limited only to the science I already accept. This is why I find your persistent remarks about my not understanding science amusing, and your persistent reduction of everything-to-science bemusing. "You do realize I am deliberately trying to offend you" My respect for your intelligence and for your willingness to discuss these issues with me overrides by a large margin the ill effects of any offense you may intend, and at which I might take umbrage. But, whatever your intentions, I was not in the least bit offended.

I do NOT think that what is not accessible to Science is nonsense, but must be acknowledged to be in the realm of speculation or subjective judgement, rather than having any warrant to be used as, for example, evidence or argument for a God.

BTW I used to read a lot on philosophy in my younger days, but got progressively disenchanted in it as a source of meaningful knowledge. Especially driven by realizing how some philosopher or other could come with an argument for just about anything, and there was rarely any way they could be clearly discredited, in stark contrast to Science. IOW, the more I came to know about philosophers and Philosophy, the less respect I had for it as a serious pursuit.

Metaphysics seems to be left covering rather banal topics dealing with how we think about certain things in a quasi-formal sense...

Getting back to the OP, there is no empirical objective evidence for God, and ALL the standard arguments are utterly without merit now, whatever could be argued within the context of the limited knowledge at the time of Aquinas and others. He was simply wrong on things like the infinite regress argument, due to the limited scope of metaphysical understanding of energy and motion and change, and possibly the math of infinite series.

Any argument for the attributes of God can only be based on speculation and unwarranted assumption, due to the intrinsically open-ended and unknowable aspects of any such hypothetical entity. I do not need to see the detail of the arguments any more than I need to see the arguments of any current "Flat-Earthers", or "Hollow-Earthers", or any similar such fringe ideas.

If Aquinas or anyone else claims to have have logical arguments for the attributes of a God, they are/were deluding themselves. Craig is an eloquent fool. Aquinas at least could have the defense of the limited state of relevant knowledge in his time.

We therefore continually have Theists fall back on the argument from personal experience. And that leaves us with a purely subjective justification - "it works for me"...

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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"Getting back to the OP,

"Getting back to the OP, there is no empirical objective evidence for God, and ALL the standard arguments are utterly without merit now, whatever could be argued within the context of the limited knowledge at the time of Aquinas and others. He was simply wrong on things like the infinite regress argument, due to the limited scope of metaphysical understanding of energy and motion and change, and possibly the math of infinite series."

Let me quote professor Ed Feser (who, in part of the following quotation, is criticizing Dawkins, but whose criticism certainly applies to you as well):

"Like many who are not familiar with philosophical modes of argumentation, Dawkins assumes that Aquinas is engaged in a kind of empirical theorizing, 'postulating' God's existence as a 'hypothesis' to 'explain' certain pieces of 'data'...This everyday sort of reasoning [that Dawkins assumes Aquinas is engaged in] is inherently probabilistic and therefore always at least somewhat tentative...Which hypothesis is more likely to be true depends on such considerations as whether it violates the principle of Ockham's razor by postulating more entities than are necessary to account for the evidence, whether it is consistent with other hypotheses that we have good independent reason to think are probably true, and so forth....But Aquinas does not argue in this manner, and neither do any of the great philosophical theologians...What Aquinas is doing can be understood by comparison with the sort of reasoning familiar from geometry and mathematics in general...[For example, the Pythagorean Theorem] is not a 'hypothesis' 'postulated' to 'explain' certain 'evidence,' and it is not merely 'probable.' Anyone who suggested that there might be some other 'explanation' of the 'evidence' more in line with Ockham's razor, or that the Pythagorean theorem was simply a 'theorem of the gaps' that might be undermined by further 'research,' would simply demonstrate that he didn't know what he was talking about. Geometry doesn't work like that. It doesn't involve the formulation and testing of hypotheses, after the fashion of empirical science. This hardly makes it less rational than empirical science; it just shows us that the sort of argumentation used in empirical science is not the only kind of rational argumentation there is. Of course, it might turn out that some particular proof for a geometrical theorem has a flaw in it somewhere, in which case it would fail as a proof...But the reason it would fail is not that there is some evidence it failed to take account of, or that its conclusion was less probable all things considered. It would just be because there was a logical fallacy somewhere in the proof. Geometrical reasoning, and mathematical reasoning in general, is all-or-nothing...there is no question of 'weighing evidence,' of 'hypotheses,' of the 'balance of probabilities,' etc....Now Aquinas's arguments are metaphysical in character, not scientific...they are a species of rational argument different from the scientific...they are in this sense like geometrical arguments [that is, in the sense of being rational non-scientific arguments]. They are also like geometric arguments in being all-or-nothing, though unlike geometric arguments in that they take empirical premises, rather than pure abstractions, as their starting points. Scientific arguments start from empirical premises and draw merely probabilistic conclusions. Mathematical arguments start from purely conceptual premises and draw necessary conclusions. Metaphysical arguments of the sort Aquinas is interested in combine elements of both these other forms of reasoning: they take obvious, though empirical, starting points, and try to show that from these starting points, together with certain conceptual premises, certain metaphysical conclusions follow necessarily. And the empirical starting points are always so general that there is no serious doubt of their truth [e.g. "We observe change going on in the world around us"]...And even if someone claims to doubt the empirical premises appealed to, it will typically be doubt of the sort that derives from some competing metaphysical theory, rather than from scientific discovery of some heretofore unknown evidence. In general, the starting points of metaphysical arguments aren't matters of scientific controversy, but rather premises concerning that which science, like common sense, necessarily takes for granted. Part of the problem with Dawkins's [and Bob's] criticisms of Aquinas, then, is that they fail to understand the difference between a scientific hypothesis and an attempted metaphysical demonstration, and illegitimately judge the latter as if it were the former."

I hope that helps.

Edejardin


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stuntgibbon wrote: From my

stuntgibbon wrote:

 From my experience, people who start by arguing over what evidence actually is, may have very little to none of it. 

Turns out, I was right on page 1. 


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edejardin wrote:"Getting

edejardin wrote:
"Getting back to the OP, there is no empirical objective evidence for God, and ALL the standard arguments are utterly without merit now, whatever could be argued within the context of the limited knowledge at the time of Aquinas and others. He was simply wrong on things like the infinite regress argument, due to the limited scope of metaphysical understanding of energy and motion and change, and possibly the math of infinite series." Let me quote professor Ed Feser (who, in part of the following quotation, is criticizing Dawkins, but whose criticism certainly applies to you as well): "Like many who are not familiar with philosophical modes of argumentation, Dawkins assumes that Aquinas is engaged in a kind of empirical theorizing, 'postulating' God's existence as a 'hypothesis' to 'explain' certain pieces of 'data'...This everyday sort of reasoning [that Dawkins assumes Aquinas is engaged in] is inherently probabilistic and therefore always at least somewhat tentative...Which hypothesis is more likely to be true depends on such considerations as whether it violates the principle of Ockham's razor by postulating more entities than are necessary to account for the evidence, whether it is consistent with other hypotheses that we have good independent reason to think are probably true, and so forth....But Aquinas does not argue in this manner, and neither do any of the great philosophical theologians...What Aquinas is doing can be understood by comparison with the sort of reasoning familiar from geometry and mathematics in general...[For example, the Pythagorean Theorem] is not a 'hypothesis' 'postulated' to 'explain' certain 'evidence,' and it is not merely 'probable.' Anyone who suggested that there might be some other 'explanation' of the 'evidence' more in line with Ockham's razor, or that the Pythagorean theorem was simply a 'theorem of the gaps' that might be undermined by further 'research,' would simply demonstrate that he didn't know what he was talking about. Geometry doesn't work like that. It doesn't involve the formulation and testing of hypotheses, after the fashion of empirical science. This hardly makes it less rational than empirical science; it just shows us that the sort of argumentation used in empirical science is not the only kind of rational argumentation there is. Of course, it might turn out that some particular proof for a geometrical theorem has a flaw in it somewhere, in which case it would fail as a proof...But the reason it would fail is not that there is some evidence it failed to take account of, or that its conclusion was less probable all things considered. It would just be because there was a logical fallacy somewhere in the proof. Geometrical reasoning, and mathematical reasoning in general, is all-or-nothing...there is no question of 'weighing evidence,' of 'hypotheses,' of the 'balance of probabilities,' etc....Now Aquinas's arguments are metaphysical in character, not scientific...they are a species of rational argument different from the scientific...they are in this sense like geometrical arguments [that is, in the sense of being rational non-scientific arguments]. They are also like geometric arguments in being all-or-nothing, though unlike geometric arguments in that they take empirical premises, rather than pure abstractions, as their starting points. Scientific arguments start from empirical premises and draw merely probabilistic conclusions. Mathematical arguments start from purely conceptual premises and draw necessary conclusions. Metaphysical arguments of the sort Aquinas is interested in combine elements of both these other forms of reasoning: they take obvious, though empirical, starting points, and try to show that from these starting points, together with certain conceptual premises, certain metaphysical conclusions follow necessarily. And the empirical starting points are always so general that there is no serious doubt of their truth [e.g. "We observe change going on in the world around us"]...And even if someone claims to doubt the empirical premises appealed to, it will typically be doubt of the sort that derives from some competing metaphysical theory, rather than from scientific discovery of some heretofore unknown evidence. In general, the starting points of metaphysical arguments aren't matters of scientific controversy, but rather premises concerning that which science, like common sense, necessarily takes for granted. Part of the problem with Dawkins's [and Bob's] criticisms of Aquinas, then, is that they fail to understand the difference between a scientific hypothesis and an attempted metaphysical demonstration, and illegitimately judge the latter as if it were the former." I hope that helps.

Why did you waste our time posting that?

I fully understand the distinction he is spelling out. AFAICS, I had made that clear. I never said or hinted that deductive systems, such as geometry and other aspects of math are not rational.

Deductive systems are only useful insofar as their axioms match to a useful degree some important aspects of reality. Establishing that should be an important part of the argument. Their conclusions are absolutely certain, but only in terms of the input assumptions. They cannot in reality be much more certain than the least certain of the starting assumptions used in the argument. Going from the confidence in each 'axiom' to the justified confidence in the conclusion would require Bayesian analysis.

It would have been far more useful to list ALL the assumptions and evidence considered as input to Aquinas's argument. Don't leave out the ones assumed to be obvious, since that is where unnoticed logical slippages can occur, especially over the interval of time involved here.

I am actually giving Aquinas the benefit of the doubt here, in assuming his actual logic is rigorous. The errors will be in the adoption of some faulty assumptions.

The question is, how do you derive the necessary attributes of something sufficient to be the cause of the universe?

My position is that we are still uncertain, and in Aquinas' time they had even less information on which to base any answer to such a question.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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"I fully understand the

"I fully understand the distinction he is spelling out. AFAICS, I had made that clear."

No, you had not. In fact, your comments on Aquinas in your very last post ("Getting back to the OP, there is no empirical objective evidence for God, and ALL the standard arguments are utterly without merit now, whatever could be argued within the context of the limited knowledge at the time of Aquinas and others. He was simply wrong on things like the infinite regress argument, due to the limited scope of metaphysical understanding of energy and motion and change, and possibly the math of infinite series") clearly contradict what Feser said, revealing that you do not yet understand the distinction.

"Deductive systems are only useful insofar as their axioms match to a useful degree some important aspects of reality."

And as my Feser quote made clear, Aquinas's arguments start with empirical premises (e,g, some things change) and metaphysical principles (e.g. change involves a reduction of potency to act), not with axioms.

"It would have been far more useful to list ALL the assumptions and evidence considered as input to Aquinas's argument."

No, it would've been a waste of time, as my responses to your two quotes above demonstrate. If you think you're dealing with 'axioms,' or with metaphysical principles that can be understood in terms of scientific conceptions of energy, or analyzed via Bayesian probability, then you're doing exactly what Feser warns against in the very last sentence, which the quotation you think unnecessary was intended to clarify.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"But God is

edejardin wrote:
"But God is not consistent with (5) then, so God cannot exist. (seriously, I'd rather put my hand in a blender than engage in apologetics... ugh what a mess)"

No, you've missed the point.

If (1) and (5) are consistent, then (1) cannot assume that a non-contingent, infinite being exists, i.e. the argument does not beg the question. Note, (1) is consistent with (5) *and* with ~(5), but I only needed to show that it's consistent with (5) to refute Hambydammit. That's the point.

Yeah, I knew what the point you were making was, of course, I was just pointing out that one can't go from there to affirming the first cause argument regardless.  So we're still left with the same problem that is the first cause argument being your typical example of the irrationality of apologetics.

 

 

 

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edejardin wrote:"I fully

edejardin wrote:
"I fully understand the distinction he is spelling out. AFAICS, I had made that clear." No, you had not. In fact, your comments on Aquinas in your very last post ("Getting back to the OP, there is no empirical objective evidence for God, and ALL the standard arguments are utterly without merit now, whatever could be argued within the context of the limited knowledge at the time of Aquinas and others. He was simply wrong on things like the infinite regress argument, due to the limited scope of metaphysical understanding of energy and motion and change, and possibly the math of infinite series&quotEye-wink clearly contradict what Feser said, revealing that you do not yet understand the distinction. "Deductive systems are only useful insofar as their axioms match to a useful degree some important aspects of reality." And as my Feser quote made clear, Aquinas's arguments start with empirical premises (e,g, some things change) and metaphysical principles (e.g. change involves a reduction of potency to act), not with axioms. "It would have been far more useful to list ALL the assumptions and evidence considered as input to Aquinas's argument." No, it would've been a waste of time, as my responses to your two quotes above demonstrate. If you think you're dealing with 'axioms,' or with metaphysical principles that can be understood in terms of scientific conceptions of energy, or analyzed via Bayesian probability, then you're doing exactly what Feser warns against in the very last sentence, which the quotation you think unnecessary was intended to clarify.

Fesar spent most of the time spelling the distinction between deductive and scientific arguments, which I do understand, and had made clear.

He starts by asserting that Aquinas is not making a normal scientific inductive style argument, then spends most of the post spelling out the features of deductive arguments, then finishes without justifying remotely adequately his naked assertion that the axioms to Aquinas' deductive arguments were all stuff that science and common sense "necessarily takes for granted". I am not going to take him at his word, that is precisely where the errors can slip in. Common sense is actually frequently wrong and at variance with Science on issues away from everyday experience.

If he is not dealing with at least some empirical input then he is trying to establish that God is a 'necessary' being. That will really require the assumptions to be spelled out, and all of them subject to Bayesian analysis. The conclusions are still probabilistic in terms of the input assumptions. Ultimately, 'metaphysical' deductive arguments are not that different, they are actually more fragile, since they are dependent on the objective soundness of a few axioms, whereas science continually makes alowances for the uncertainty of all the input data.

You have just wasted more time.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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"Yeah, I knew what the point

"Yeah, I knew what the point you were making was, of course, I was just pointing out that one can't go from there to affirming the first cause argument regardless. So we're still left with the same problem that is the first cause argument being your typical example of the irrationality of apologetics."

If it is irrational, it's not because it's question begging, which is the charge I was responding to. (Keep in mind that the comment you responded to was not an attempt to "affirm to first cause argument regardless," but to counter a specific charge against it, viz. the charge that it's question begging.) Hambydammit claimed that the first premise assumed the conclusion; my demonstration that the first premise is consistent with both the conclusion *and* the negation of the conclusion refutes his criticism.

However, you're wrong to claim that I couldn't "go from there" to "affirm the first cause argument." I couldn't do so if I was claiming that (5) is true, *but that wasn't my claim*. Rather, all I said is that the first premise is consistent with (5), and I could certainly go from there to "affirm the first cause argument" without contradiction.

Edejardin


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"You have just wasted more

"You have just wasted more time."

Indeed. But not for the reason you suppose.

Still, thanks for the intelligent and patient discussion. I appreciate the way you stick to the ideas: even what you characterized as your intentionally offensive comments were still directed at ideas, and not at people. I have no problem with this at all; we all believe things others find silly. I try not to make the leap to "some of your ideas are silly" to "you're a moron" -- unless it's warranted -- and it seems to me as if you try not to as well.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:"You have

edejardin wrote:
"You have just wasted more time." Indeed. But not for the reason you suppose. Still, thanks for the intelligent and patient discussion. I appreciate the way you stick to the ideas: even what you characterized as your intentionally offensive comments were still directed at ideas, and not at people. I have no problem with this at all; we all believe things others find silly. I try not to make the leap to "some of your ideas are silly" to "you're a moron" -- unless it's warranted -- and it seems to me as if you try not to as well.

I only resort to"offensive" remarks as a way to express intense frustration at the way a discussion may be going, as a way of underlining that fact, when I perceive the other person is being particularly obtuse and unresponsive to arguments. My little 'outburst ' there was a hint that I was experiencing some degree of irritation. I do try to graduate those things...

By now you should be aware I find nothing in your arguments remotely compelling, but I am genuinely interested in understanding just where someone who I disagree with is coming from, if possible, so I in turn appreciate your patience in responding.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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But Bob it really didnt have

But Bob it really didnt have to go as far as it did, did it? Theist firing words like a machine gun and obfuscating the discussion don't deserve all that effort do they?  Besides, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence etc. The person making the claim must provide the proof of their claim etc. they know they can not do that so the only thing left to do is obfuscate.


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mohammed wrote:But Bob it

mohammed wrote:

But Bob it really didnt have to go as far as it did, did it? Theist firing words like a machine gun and obfuscating the discussion don't deserve all that effort do they?  Besides, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence etc. The person making the claim must provide the proof of their claim etc. they know they can not do that so the only thing left to do is obfuscate.

I really do value trying to get a handle on how people think, and edejardin is reasonably responsive in that sense.

The other point in my continuing this is that the ultimate way to show up problems in someone's position is to "drill down" to find the fundamental point(s) of disagreement, if possible.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology