Let's start with an apology . . .

chamathman
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Let's start with an apology . . .

 

I’m a Christian school teacher in southwest Virginia and your group was brought to my attention through a story my local TV station did about your "Blasphemy Challenge." I’ve never written you or had any personal contact with you or your group, but I want to start with an apology. Based on some of the discussions threads I’ve perused from your site, I want to apologize on behalf of rational Christians (an oxymoron to you, I know) for the following (the posts I refer to I read in your radio show mail bag):

1. People who try to deduce universal statements of reality from the lyrics of pop songs [I mean, John Lennon? Come on!] (‘Adam’ on 11-29-06)

2. People who try to convince an atheist that God exists because of their own personal experience (‘All I want is to be loved..Is that wrong?’ beginning 11-3-06, and MANY others)

3. People who try to convince a philosophical materialist that God is directly responsible for healing people (same)

4. People who say "I’d rather live this life believing in some myth than live without Jesus!’ (‘lins’ on 9-29-06 and undated thread titled ‘Letter from a friend who holds on to his theism’) (OK, this one actually makes me mad!, Marx was certainly right about some people’s faith)

5. People who say "I could defend my beliefs logically and all that jazz . . ." then by their own admission get irrational instead (same)

6. People who basically say that not believing in God is ‘bad manners’ (‘Yes I am De’Sha so keep HATTIN ON ME!’ 10-13-06)

7. People who try to defend the existence of God by using enough profanity and ad hominem to make a sailor blush (‘hopekill design’ 5-2-06 and, unfortunately, others)

8. People who try to convince an atheist that God exists using the Bible (‘Rebecca! At the Disco’ 7-31-06)

9. People who don’t seem to realize that, by their own way of thinking, a God-given will gives people the "permission" to deny His existence (guitarcore6@yahoo.com">‘guitarcore6@yahoo.com’ on ?)

10. People (who are at least trying) who can only parrot the latest textbook argument from their favorite authority without apparently understanding it very well (‘Jay’ on 7-4-06)

Even though I obviously disagree with you on the existence of God, I was looking forward to the opportunity to engage an atheist who was intellectually honest enough to allow himself to be convinced otherwise.

After looking over much of your material and previous discussions, however, I’ve realized you aren’t that person I was hoping for. I can pretty much predict your responses to anything I would say based on what I’ve seen so far, so I’m not going to bother arguing God’s existence with you. I would like, instead, to address some problems I see with your approach and argumentation. I will then bid you a respectful adieu (unless you send me a particularly compelling response).

First of all, I would like to HIGHLY commend you for being calm and respectful in the face of the frequent ignorance, hatefulness, and profane anger you’ve faced. I wish you were exposed to more people on my side of the discussion that had your demeanor and approach.

Here are some problems I have seen on your end, from the same discussions, that I would like to point out. I have a few things, but I’d really like to address only a couple.

First of all, let’s agree to be honest about something. Evolution is not a law. Creationism is not a law. Evolution is not a theory. Creationism is not a theory. Because of the nature of what they attempt to explain, they should both be categorized as models, explanations of phenomena either too complex, too far past, or yet future to be observable. Wouldn’t you agree?

This being said, You make a comment about evolution that, as near as I can tell, puts you on the absolute far fringe of ANY form of ANY evolutionary model I’ve seen. You used the phrase "NON-RANDOM process of natural selection" with ‘All I want is to be loved.’. In old-school Darwinian evolution, natural selection involved adaptations arising from beneficial mutations (by definition, ‘random’) in response to uncontrolled (by definition, ‘random’) changing environmental factors. Neo-Darwinism leaves room for random (by definition, ‘random’) mutations that simply give some advantage to an organism. I’d love for you to explain "non-random natural selection’ because it could easily look like a subtle recognition that a directed process is more reasonable to you than the long-accepted random ones, and you would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that direction doesn’t involve the presence of intelligence. I guess you could have been intentionally trying to mislead someone that you thought didn’t know better, but I doubt that based on what I’ve seen from you so far.

There is also, as you know, much disagreement and skepticism of the evolutionary model among ALL the scientific community, not just the I.C.R. types. It is not the universally accepted, solid, comprehensive explanation of all things that you present it to be, and it could appear that you might be taking advantage of people who aren’t aware of that by suggesting that the scientific community at large believes evolution is the do-all and end-all explanation for life’s diversity. That is, in fact, far from the truth. I also think you throw out abiogenesis a little flippantly as well, implying that it is a stronger principle than even it claims to be.

Second, you shouldn’t use the Bible or your preconceived understandings of God because, quite frankly, you do it very poorly. If you discount the Bible as objective statements about a God that you don’t believe exists, and don’t want Biblical arguments in support of God, then it’s not logical to use them against God, either. That only seems reasonable. There are probably people somewhere who do believe in God as you claim we conceive Him, but you yourself are using a straw man here. The God of the Bible as you have deconstructed it doesn’t resemble the God that anyone I know in thinking circles sees presented in Scripture.

But the real issue here is your epistemology. You have made the rules of the challenge unwinnable. You have a very closed-minded epistemology that crosses categories with the questions you’ve asked. In other words, you’ve laid out a challenge to define and give evidence for a supernatural, all-encompassing God, but you accept only direct, limited, physical, empirical "evidence". By analogy, you’ve asked Christians to count to 100, but declared that you will accept only even numbers for answers. You are not open to many sources of truth that everyone, including scientists, use every day: intuition, inference, and reason. Yes, I said reason. In spite of the name of your group, you do not accept reasonably deduced hypothesis from existing empirical phenomena. You want only touchable, measurable, physical evidence. There is no branch of science that works without these methods, ESPECIALLY evolutionary science.

I think you are a very bright, intelligent young man, and I hope you pursue all of your life’s avenues and opportunities with the same passion and integrity with which you have this one.

Eric Miller


Ophios
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Quote: I want to apologize

Quote:
I want to apologize on behalf of rational Christians

You don't have to apologize for others, or on the half of others, just don't be stupid yourself.

 

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You have made the rules of the challenge unwinnable.

Actually, I think every person who has taken it has won.

But then again, you probably don't know what the hell it is for. 

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In other words, you’ve laid out a challenge to define and give evidence for a supernatural, all-encompassing God, but you accept only direct, limited, physical, empirical "evidence".
 

I don't know what this has to do with the bl- oh, so you weren't talking about it. I understand.

So I'm curious as to how you can get non-physical, empirical "Evidence".

and thanks for sticking the direct in peoples mouths. 

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By analogy, you’ve asked Christians to count to 100, but declared that you will accept only even numbers for answers.

which is possible! 

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You want only touchable, measurable, physical evidence.

So I guess you believe whatever you are told. Hey I have a ferret in my pants. Now believe me! 

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you do not accept reasonably deduced hypothesis from existing empirical phenomena.

So you would rather troll by insults then by... I don't know, giving us proof. You are starting to act like all the OTHER christians that pop in here. 

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There is no branch of science that works without these methods,

With what methods? 

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If you discount the Bible as objective statements about a God that you don’t believe exists, and don’t want Biblical arguments in support of God, then it’s not logical to use them against God, either.

We only use the bible to disprove god, becuase people accept the bible as true, and use it to prove god. 

If the want it as proof, then they should accept arguments that the bible is faulty.

Otherwise, I wouldn't give two shits about what the the predated brother's Grimm has to say. 

Quote:
I also think you throw out abiogenesis a little flippantly as well, implying that it is a stronger principle than even it claims to be.

Which hypothesis of abiogenesis? I'm sure the guys here have talked about the different competeing hypothesis.

Of course your sentence suggests life (Of earth) didn't have a start.

Quote:

AImboden wrote:
I'm not going to PM my agreement just because one tucan has pms.


James Cizuz
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I thank you for being

I thank you for being rational when speaking. Most theists that come here do fall into one of those 10 categories. I myself have no problem with accepting, or others accept the existence of god. I however, go with the scientific point of view which is simply if you make a claim for the positive(such as a god existing) the burden of proof is on them. Makes sense right? So, since no one has offered any evidence, scientifically that does not exist. It could still exist, however I pick that choice to follow.

 

 I guess I disagree with people in the sense I don't know why they don't pick the same choice, no proof means it does not exist until you can prove it does. It's their choice though, thats fine. 

 

I can be convinced of a god, when it presents itself, or is proven however. I have no problem with it.

 

However their is one thing in regards to god I hate. It's fine to believe in a god, that hurts no one. Most atheists try to argue that believing in a god hurts someone. I'm not arguing that. Believing there is a creator is fine, it hurts no one it does not force you to do anything, does not force morality on anyone, it hurts nothing. When you however try to link that god with a certain religion thats when we have the problem. Thats when god suddenly goes from harmless to harmful. Also having all religions against eachother fighting whos religion is the real religion is not good either. Putting a religion to a god when their are thousands of religions is just foolish. Thats the only problem I have with god, not god itself but the god portrayed by the corsponding religion.

 

When people use the bible to somehow try to change us they should already know that does not work. We don't believe in the bible, however being edjucated on the subject is also good instead of dismising it. I study the bible a lot myself. When I quote a passage, being a contridiction, to something immoral, to something proven wrong. It's not to prove to them the bible is false, or that they should change. It's to make them think, is the bible that trustworthy when it contridictes itself, many aspects proven false(thats if you trust the evidence given by science that is) and the immoral things as well.

 

Agnostic means you can never know.

Gnostic means you refuse to believe otherwise.

These two terms are uaually supplied as single meanings to a person, but does not answer the question atheist or theist.  

I myself do not wish anyone to be theist or athiest if it forces them to be gnostic in the subject. If your going to be a theist, be a agnostic theist so you can question and make the right choice in regards to your god. Same goes with atheists, being gnostic is being ignorant. Being agnostic in regards is basically saying your skeptical towards your belief.

 

Skeptical is good, you can rationalize why you believe. For me, no proof means I do not believe in it. Simple enough right?

 

Have a nice day and welcome to the RRS forums Chamathman. I suggest you go to general discussion and introduce yourself, you should of did it before but it's nice to introduce yourself to the comunity. Keeps people from calling you a troll.

"When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness.... No show, however good, could conceivably be good forever.... I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it." ~H.L. Mencken

Thank god i'm a atheist!


MrRage
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Thanks for you post,

Thanks for you post, chamathman. It's the first post from a Christian that really made me think in a while. I will take your points into consideration.

There some questions about your second point that I'd like to ask. I ask these in all honesty.

chamathman wrote:
Second, you shouldn’t use the Bible or your preconceived understandings of God because, quite frankly, you do it very poorly. If you discount the Bible as objective statements about a God that you don’t believe exists, and don’t want Biblical arguments in support of God, then it’s not logical to use them against God, either. That only seems reasonable. There are probably people somewhere who do believe in God as you claim we conceive Him, but you yourself are using a straw man here. The God of the Bible as you have deconstructed it doesn’t resemble the God that anyone I know in thinking circles sees presented in Scripture.

Who doesn't have preconceived understandings of God? I'm sure that my understanding of God is poor. But I was an evangelical Christian for 18 years. Isn't it possible that most Christians, including you, have just as bad as an understanding of God as I, or any atheist on this site, does? Moreover, do most Christians share the same understanding of God? Does the understanding of God vary from person to person? Whose understand is the correct one? How can I tell it's correct?

I don't see any reason NOT to use the Bible against God. If the Bible gives an incoherent description of God, should we trust the Bible?

Edit: Grammar


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chamathman

chamathman wrote:

Creationism is not a law. Creationism is not a theory. Because of the nature of what they attempt to explain, they should both be categorized as models, explanations of phenomena either too complex, too far past, or yet future to be observable.

Please cite one scientific test, or even a testable hypothesis for this creationism "model".


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philosophicalrightphilosoph

 

eric wrote:


First of all, I would like to HIGHLY commend you for being calm and respectful in the face of the frequent ignorance, hatefulness, and profane anger you’ve faced. I wish you were exposed to more people on my side of the discussion that had your demeanor and approach.

Here are some problems I have seen on your end, from the same discussions, that I would like to point out. I have a few things, but I’d really like to address only a couple.

First of all, let’s agree to be honest about something. Evolution is not a law.



You're making a common error in supposing that 'laws' are somehow better than theories.


A law is an exact formulation of a principle (as in the law of the conservation of energy). Theories don't graduate into laws and laws are not former theories that are now somehow protected from disproof. This is another common misunderstanding. Both theories and laws add to our scientific understanding and one is not somehow superior to another. Laws, just like theories, can be refuted


In popular usage, a theory is something less than a fact. This is an ignorant view that confuses theorizing for hypothesing, or even merely guessing. A theory is actually a conceptual framework, designed to describe, explain predict and help control some phenomenon, based on a preponderance of facts. The theory supports itself with non-vague, operationizable predictions that are held to be accurate and in accordance with observed reality. Theories and facts are not antonyms - they are inter-related and interpedent. Facts are used to support theories, and theories explain existing facts and predict new ones. A great example would be Mendelev's theory of elements, better known as the "periodic table of elements." When Mendelev proposed his theory, it was considered ludicrous. However, without any knowledge of atomic structure, the theory predicted the existence of then undiscovered elements. When these predicted elements were discovered AFTER THE PREDICTION, AND NOT BEFORE, the truth of the theory was supported. In other words, the table predicted reality, and was then therefore supported by reality. Evolution is yet another theory that has overwhelming predictive power. That the term "theory", a concept which can only thrive in an ocean of facts, became seen as something less than a fact, is a testament to our society's scientific ignorance.

One of the most galling statements that can be made in reference to theories is the oft heard whine: "That's only a theory" as if to then claim that dogmatic "certainty" is superior theoretical tentativeness. The truth is that dogma often exists in stark contradiction to fact, while theory can only exist on the basis of facts. Another glaring difference between theory and dogma is that theory offers a coherent explanation of a phenomena. Dogma often offers nothing other than blanket authority statements concomitant with blatant threats of violence and harm to non believers.


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Creationism is not a law. Evolution is not a theory. Creationism is not a theory.



Evolution is a theory and a fact.

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This being said, You make a comment about evolution that, as near as I can tell, puts you on the absolute far fringe of ANY form of ANY evolutionary model I’ve seen.


Actually, the truth is that you are misunderstanding what the models actually say. It's entirely foundational to evolution that is it a non random process and the fact that you have to be told this indicates your ignorance of evolution.

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You used the phrase "NON-RANDOM process of natural selection" with ‘All I want is to be loved.’. In old-school Darwinian evolution, natural selection involved adaptations arising from beneficial mutations (by definition, ‘random’) in response to uncontrolled (by definition, ‘random’) changing environmental factors


The environmental factors are not 'controlled' but they select for particular mutations and select against others. This process is therefore non random. Particular environemnts select for particular types.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection


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There is also, as you know, much disagreement and skepticism of the evolutionary model among ALL the scientific community, not just the I.C.R. types.


Ah, this old error yet again. Yes, there are debates in biology, but no one debates whether evolution ius true... it's a common dishonest ploy to present scientific debate within evolutionary theory as debate ABOUT the validity of the theory.

 

There is debate in aeronautics, does this mean that people attempt to refute the Wright brothers? 

 

Quote:


It is not the universally accepted, solid, comprehensive explanation of all things that you present it to be,


Yes it is, and your ignorance is showing. Evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology and I can't go 15 minutes in my behavioral psychoneurology class without bringing evolution up.

It's clear that you have no real experience in the field. 

 

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Second, you shouldn’t use the Bible or your preconceived understandings of God because, quite frankly, you do it very poorly.


I'd not caution others about their flawed preconceptions, considering that your post is nothing but a string of flawed preconceptions.

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But the real issue here is your epistemology. You have made the rules of the challenge unwinnable.


Sorry, but that problem is caused by the definition that theists give us for 'supernatural'. The term is necessarily incoherent. Whining about it is not a response. The reality is that 'supernatural' is a broken concept that violates basic ontology. Pointing this out is simply pointing out a fact.

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


Roisin Dubh
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chamathman wrote: irst of

chamathman wrote:

irst of all, let’s agree to be honest about something. Evolution is not a law. Creationism is not a law. Evolution is not a theory. Creationism is not a theory. Because of the nature of what they attempt to explain, they should both be categorized as models, explanations of phenomena either too complex, too far past, or yet future to be observable. Wouldn’t you agree?

Evolution is absolutely a scientific theory. How can a schoolteacher not know this? As for your question about labeling them "models" here is my problem with that: You're putting them on even ground. While evolution is not yet 100% airtight, the pile of evidence we have to back it would be the size of K2 in comparison to the amount of evidence we have to support creationism. Also, since Darwin first posed the theory of evolution, we have found numerous pieces of evidence since then to support evolution, while not one piece of information has been found that made serious scientists say "wait, we might have this evolution thing all wrong." On the flip side, with each passing day we learn more reasons to think creationism is a complete crock, and have never found any evidence in its favor. None. As I stand on my soapbox, I can hear deludedgod's music come over on the loud speaker. If anything I said here is false, he'll mop up quite nicely.

 

Quote:
I’d love for you to explain "non-random natural selection’ because it could easily look like a subtle recognition that a directed process is more reasonable to you than the long-accepted random ones, and you would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that direction doesn’t involve the presence of intelligence.

Again, how can a schoolteacher be so complete clueless as to what evolution is? There is nothing unreasonable about the fact that organisms that 'obtain' advantageous mutations are more likely to thrive, and therefore pass the beneficial mutation on to their offspring. Nothing about this process requires any presence of an intelligence to push it along.

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There is also, as you know, much disagreement and skepticism of the evolutionary model among ALL the scientific community, not just the I.C.R. types.

This is simply incorrect. You're not out in left field here, you're on Pluto.

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It is not the universally accepted, solid, comprehensive explanation of all things that you present it to be, and it could appear that you might be taking advantage of people who aren’t aware of that by suggesting that the scientific community at large believes evolution is the do-all and end-all explanation for life’s diversity.

We have at least one biologist on these boards if not more, and there are numerous backed-with-evidence threads on this subject here as well. If you plan on contradicting all of these, you're going to have to do better than the argument from assertion.

Quote:
But the real issue here is your epistemology. You have made the rules of the challenge unwinnable. You have a very closed-minded epistemology that crosses categories with the questions you’ve asked. In other words, you’ve laid out a challenge to define and give evidence for a supernatural, all-encompassing God, but you accept only direct, limited, physical, empirical "evidence".

What other kinds of evidence are there?

Quote:
By analogy, you’ve asked Christians to count to 100, but declared that you will accept only even numbers for answers.

No, we've asked christians to prove there are 100 rocks in that pile, by showing us the pile and counting the rocks.

Quote:
You are not open to many sources of truth that everyone, including scientists, use every day: intuition, inference, and reason. Yes, I said reason.

This is another fallacy. Of course scientists use intuition, et al. The difference between theists and scientists is that intuition and inference are not enough for scientists. They must have evidence to back their intuition, or the idea is scrapped or altered as necessary. Many of you theists haven't changed your tune in 2000 years. Quite frankly, any theist that believes in Adam and Eve is a complete and total moron with ignorance in spades.

Quote:
In spite of the name of your group, you do not accept reasonably deduced hypothesis from existing empirical phenomena. You want only touchable, measurable, physical evidence. There is no branch of science that works without these methods, ESPECIALLY evolutionary science.

Yes, exactly. What's your point? No branch of science adheres to a hypothesis without having it pass numerous tests based on physical evidence.

 



"The powerful have always created false images of the weak."


James Cizuz
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I was trying to be nice, but

I was trying to be nice, but now I see the guy/girl was just a troll. Why do we get all these 1 poster people just trying to change us.

"When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness.... No show, however good, could conceivably be good forever.... I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it." ~H.L. Mencken

Thank god i'm a atheist!


rexlunae
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chamathman wrote:Even

chamathman wrote:
Even though I obviously disagree with you on the existence of God, I was looking forward to the opportunity to engage an atheist who was intellectually honest enough to allow himself to be convinced otherwise. After looking over much of your material and previous discussions, however, I’ve realized you aren’t that person I was hoping for.

Why? (And who is this addressed to?)

chamathman wrote:
I can pretty much predict your responses to anything I would say based on what I’ve seen so far, so I’m not going to bother arguing God’s existence with you.

Yes, there are very few original thoughts on the matter out there. If you look around these forums for a while, you will find almost every even remotely reasonable argument on either side that you could think of. Mostly, discussing the arguments serves to inform those who are unaware or misinformed.

chamathman wrote:
First of all, let’s agree to be honest about something. Evolution is not a law. Creationism is not a law. Evolution is not a theory. Creationism is not a theory. Because of the nature of what they attempt to explain, they should both be categorized as models, explanations of phenomena either too complex, too far past, or yet future to be observable. Wouldn’t you agree?

No, although you are correct that evolution is not a law and creationism is neither theory nor law. Creationism is untestable, and therefore is not science. Your usage of the term 'model' is not the proper scientific usage. Scientific modelling is something else entirely (read the link if you care to know more).

chamathman wrote:
This being said, You make a comment about evolution that, as near as I can tell, puts you on the absolute far fringe of ANY form of ANY evolutionary model I’ve seen. You used the phrase "NON-RANDOM process of natural selection"

Far from being on the far fringe of science, this is a nearly direct quote of a comment made by Richard Dawkins, a prominent, respected, and very mainstream evolutionary biologist. He furthermore clarified that evolution is (paraphrasing) 'the non-random selection of randomly arising traits'. Far from contradicting original Darwinism, this is the only reasonable way to construe Darwinism. If Darwin had described a purely random process, it would have been dismissed as useless nonsense long ago.

In fact, revolutionary idea was the identification of the purposeless nonrandom mechanism by which complexity can arise, natural selection. Previously, it was taken for granted that nonrandom processes had to be driven by purpose, hence the watchmaker argument for the existence of god. Darwin removed that misconception, and for that he has been vilified by theists who, for good reasons, see it as a serious threat.

chamathman wrote:
In old-school Darwinian evolution, natural selection involved adaptations arising from beneficial mutations (by definition, ‘random’) in response to uncontrolled (by definition, ‘random’) changing environmental factors.

That's just a misconception on your part. The diversity occurs naturally by mutation, but the selection is what causes change, and the selection is nonrandom.

chamathman wrote:
Neo-Darwinism leaves room for random (by definition, ‘random’) mutations that simply give some advantage to an organism. I’d love for you to explain "non-random natural selection’ because it could easily look like a subtle recognition that a directed process is more reasonable to you than the long-accepted random ones, and you would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that direction doesn’t involve the presence of intelligence.

Darwinism has never, ever held that natural selection is a random process. That's your misconception. And the environmental changes that occur do so by a variety of natural processes, none of which are really random.

Imagine, for instance, that the climate changes, and suddenly the food source that a species used became less available. Then natural selection might favor traits which allow a different food to be eaten.

chamathman wrote:
I guess you could have been intentionally trying to mislead someone that you thought didn’t know better, but I doubt that based on what I’ve seen from you so far.

That's not very nice. We could just as easily say that you're trying to mislead people because of your misrepresentation of Darwinism, but I would rather assume that you just aren't that familiar with Darwinism.

chamathman wrote:
There is also, as you know, much disagreement and skepticism of the evolutionary model among ALL the scientific community, not just the I.C.R. types.

No, none that I'm aware of. Could you please cite a peer-reviewed article in a major scientific publication casting doubt on the theory of evolution?

The scientific debate that occurs over evolution is in the details of how it occurred, not the fundamental question of if it occurred. Furthermore, it is fundamental to many branches of science, such as biology, geology, psychology, sociology, and probably some others that I'm not aware of.

chamathman wrote:
It is not the universally accepted, solid, comprehensive explanation of all things that you present it to be, and it could appear that you might be taking advantage of people who aren’t aware of that by suggesting that the scientific community at large believes evolution is the do-all and end-all explanation for life’s diversity.

Once again, this isn't very nice.

chamathman wrote:
That is, in fact, far from the truth. I also think you throw out abiogenesis a little flippantly as well, implying that it is a stronger principle than even it claims to be.

I'm not sure what you are referring to here. Abiogenesis is a hypothesis, and so its truth is not taken for granted by scientists. It is one possible way that life could have gotten started. We are waiting for evidence.

chamathman wrote:
Second, you shouldn’t use the Bible or your preconceived understandings of God because, quite frankly, you do it very poorly. If you discount the Bible as objective statements about a God that you don’t believe exists, and don’t want Biblical arguments in support of God, then it’s not logical to use them against God, either.

Pointing out the errors in a scripture does not require believing in that scripture. That's what I use the Bible for, and it seems perfectly reasonable. However, if you wish to be a type of theist that does not believe in the Bible as the word of god, I will discuss theism with you on different terms. So, the real question is 'what do you think the Bible is?'

chamathman wrote:
The God of the Bible as you have deconstructed it doesn’t resemble the God that anyone I know in thinking circles sees presented in Scripture.

So, you don't see the god of the Bible as having ordered genocide? Because the Bible is pretty explicit about it. Do you deny that the Bible is authoritative.

chamathman wrote:
You are not open to many sources of truth that everyone, including scientists, use every day: intuition, inference, and reason. Yes, I said reason.

Intuition, inference, and reason are useful tools, but they do not constitute proof. Sure, I use all these things all the time, but I don't expect anyone to believe things without evidence.

chamathman wrote:
In spite of the name of your group, you do not accept reasonably deduced hypothesis from existing empirical phenomena.

Many reasonably deduced hypotheses have been proven wrong. Reason is not a formal process that produces unquestionable truth (like logic does).

As an example, many scientists once believed that our ancestors evolved large brains first, and then stood upright later so that their hands were free for the things their large brains could think to do. It was reasonable, but it turned out not to be true. Now, it's almost universally accepted that our ancestors stood upright, and the large brain developed later. The later hypothesis was supported when the first hominid fossils were discovered, but the former was not unreasonable, just wrong.

chamathman wrote:
I think you are a very bright, intelligent young man, and I hope you pursue all of your life’s avenues and opportunities with the same passion and integrity with which you have this one.

I do wonder who this was intended for. Sapient, perhaps?

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


Ophios
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James Cizuz wrote: I was

James Cizuz wrote:
I was trying to be nice, but now I see the guy/girl was just a troll. Why do we get all these 1 poster people just trying to change us.

It was kinda obvious, since this person pulled a Bod. 

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James Cizuz wrote: I was

James Cizuz wrote:
I was trying to be nice, but now I see the guy/girl was just a troll. Why do we get all these 1 poster people just trying to change us.

Look at it. The first post tries to cover as many topics as possible. With a little thought, the real reason we get so many hit-and-runners becomes apparent: they expect that one post is all they need! They have no idea that we've heard it all before. They assume that their one post will be the one magic bullet that drives into the heart of our atheism and blows it apart like an armor-penetrating round. The drive-by metaphor is apt: they just assume their target is dead and then bolt. Some of the drive-byers just "spray and pray": they discuss everything from evolution and Biblical criticism to epistemology and the scientific method in the hopes that something will stick. Some of the others go for the sniper round, with a short concise point intending to quote the Bible to point out our folly or to undermine science and Biblical scholarship. But the pathology is the same: they all assume that one post will be enough. And it never is.

Götter sind für Arten, die sich selbst verraten -- in den Glauben flüchten um sich hinzurichten. Menschen brauchen Götter um sich zu verletzen, um sich zu vernichten -- das sind wir.


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Rexlunae, and everyone

Rexlunae, and everyone else, thanks for pointing out the numerous  basic flaws in our theist friend's claims....

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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Ophios wrote: James Cizuz

Ophios wrote:

James Cizuz wrote:
I was trying to be nice, but now I see the guy/girl was just a troll. Why do we get all these 1 poster people just trying to change us.

It was kinda obvious, since this person pulled a Bod. 

Bod posted more than once.

Just when I thought we had a reasonable theist....at least Bod would act like he was answering you.


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MrRage wrote: Bod posted

MrRage wrote:
Bod posted more than once. Just when I thought we had a reasonable theist....at least Bod would act like he was answering you.

I meant "Pulled a bod" as in the whole "You won't listen to me" bit.  

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After looking over much of

After looking over much of your material and previous discussions, however, I’ve realized you aren’t that person I was hoping for. I can pretty much predict your responses to anything I would say based on what I’ve seen so far, so I’m not going to bother arguing God’s existence with you.

I believe that in the business we call this an ad hominem. If you are so confident surely you should be taking the opposite approach. This is precisely the kind of behaivour that you were apologizing for in your above statements.

I would like, instead, to address some problems I see with your approach and argumentation. I will then bid you a respectful adieu (unless you send me a particularly compelling response).

I'll be suprised if you respond to anything posted but nonetheless I admit this is an effective way to avoid an argument because you don't want to get into it. Well done.

First of all, I would like to HIGHLY commend you for being calm and respectful in the face of the frequent ignorance, hatefulness, and profane anger you’ve faced. I wish you were exposed to more people on my side of the discussion that had your demeanor and approach.

Such people tend not to visit the site. What does annoy me is that this site is crawling with radicals and fundamentalists. Only a few moderates.

First of all, let’s agree to be honest about something. Evolution is not a law. Creationism is not a law. Evolution is not a theory. Creationism is not a theory. Because of the nature of what they attempt to explain, they should both be categorized as models, explanations of phenomena either too complex, too far past, or yet future to be observable. Wouldn’t you agree?

This is a typical ignorance of the scientific method. A law is axiomatic in mathematics. A theory is an explanation based on evidence and hypothesis. Creationism (I trust you mean Genesis creationism) has no evidence. Evolution does. Furthermore, evolution is very observable, the fact that you don't know about it is not really our problem. You postulate them as though they were on equal footing. Creationism cannot be categorized as a model because even a model requires evidence. If you allow creationism to be a model, you also have to allow scientology creationism, Hindu creationi, Islam creation and any other of the plethora of mythology mankind has created. You surely cannot have such ridiculously low standards of proof as "none at all".

Neo-Darwinism leaves room for random (by definition, ‘random’) mutations that simply give some advantage to an organism. I’d love for you to explain "non-random natural selection’ because it could easily look like a subtle recognition that a directed process is more reasonable to you than the long-accepted random ones, and you would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that direction doesn’t involve the presence of intelligence. I guess you could have been intentionally trying to mislead someone that you thought didn’t know better, but I doubt that based on what I’ve seen from you so far.

Nonsenical confusion. "Directed" implies a guiding hand. All mutation is random. But confusing evolution and mutation is ridiculous. The environment guides evolutionary mutation because (you even mentioned this yourself, ergo defeating your own argument) the environment will decide the determinate of what an advantegeous mutation is.

There is also, as you know, much disagreement and skepticism of the evolutionary model among ALL the scientific community, not just the I.C.R. types.

You must not follow scientific journals very much. The disagreement is within mechanisms and events of evolution , for instance. The theory as a whole (ie the metaphysical philosophy of evolution and common descent) is overwhelmingly accepted.

That is, in fact, far from the truth. I also think you throw out abiogenesis a little flippantly as well, implying that it is a stronger principle than even it claims to be.

Every single person on the forum knows that abiogenesis is a hypothesis. I challenge you to find me an example of someone who has stated otherwise.

Second, you shouldn’t use the Bible or your preconceived understandings of God because, quite frankly, you do it very poorly. If you discount the Bible as objective statements about a God that you don’t believe exists, and don’t want Biblical arguments in support of God, then it’s not logical to use them against God, either.

I don't. The God presented by the Bible is an illogical contradiction of two impossible ontologies. This is why I do not take it seriously. Just like I do not take seriously the Qur'an or the Mormon D&C.

But the real issue here is your epistemology. You have made the rules of the challenge unwinnable. You have a very closed-minded epistemology that crosses categories with the questions you’ve asked. In other words, you’ve laid out a challenge to define and give evidence for a supernatural, all-encompassing God, but you accept only direct, limited, physical, empirical "evidence"

Obviously. verification of the supernatural is an inherent contradiction. "Supernatural" in and of itself does not mean anything. Evidence, by definition is natural. If something has empirical veracity, then it is not supernatural. So obviously we have rejected it. This seems to me an argumentum and ignorantium.

By analogy, you’ve asked Christians to count to 100, but declared that you will accept only even numbers for answers. You are not open to many sources of truth that everyone, including scientists, use every day: intuition, inference, and reason.

What? Let me spell it out for you.

A supernatural being cannot be verified to exist

If it could, it would be natural

Therefore, we reject God on grounds that it cannot be verified.

And if you are so confident, I trust you can provide your arguments for God. I have been hopeful but rather underwhelmed before. Let us see your arguments.

Yes, I said reason. In spite of the name of your group, you do not accept reasonably deduced hypothesis from existing empirical phenomena. You want only touchable, measurable, physical evidence. There is no branch of science that works without these methods, ESPECIALLY evolutionary science.

I trust by this that you mean the design argument. No modern theologian would accept the ontological arguments, and certainly not the first cause argument. The design argument is factually incorrect because God is not necessary to explain life.

Furthermore, from a scientific epistemological standpoint, typically the inference is made on physical evidence, not a posteriori or a priori. for instance, from this:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/sapient/atheist_vs_theist/5465

We can infer common descent. 

Let me leave you with a rule that no theist I have hitherto encounted understands:

An Ontology for X only establishes that X is. It cannot establish that X=Y or that X=Z and definitely not that Y=Z

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Quote: Even though I

Quote:
Even though I obviously disagree with you on the existence of God, I was looking forward to the opportunity to engage an atheist who was intellectually honest enough to allow himself to be convinced otherwise.

I admit I can't quite tell if this is just an insult (saying that none of us are intellectually honest) or a pulling a Bod.

 

 

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chamathman wrote:Even

Oops, it appears I accidentally resubmitted the same post.


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Susan wrote: Quote: Even

Susan wrote:

Quote:
Even though I obviously disagree with you on the existence of God, I was looking forward to the opportunity to engage an atheist who was intellectually honest enough to allow himself to be convinced otherwise.

I admit I can't quite tell if this is just an insult (saying that none of us are intellectually honest) or a pulling a Bod.

 

I can only find it ironic... a dogmatist asking that others be opened minded....  I've yet to find a theist who makes this request, who is open minded. In fact, this request is usually a tip off, a projection....

I've never met a more intellectually dishonest group than theists looking to argue theism....  Forget about getting them to agree to flaws in their beliefs, I've even found a general resistance in them towards conceding an error in minor side issue.... In the last week, I've pointed out to one theist that the old "science can't explain how bumblebees fly" myth is an urban legend, and to another, I've had to argue that Antisemitism was in fact one of the motivating forces for Nazi Germany...

I'm sure anyone reading this might find that hard to believe, but it's precisely what I've experienced in my last two encounters with theists...  

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Quote: A theory is actually

Quote:
A theory is actually a conceptual framework, designed to describe, explain predict and help control some phenomenon, based on a preponderance of facts. The theory supports itself with non-vague, operationizable predictions that are held to be accurate and in accordance with observed reality.

I'm new here, but this statement in particular really grabbed my attention.  Is science viewed as superior to religion because it is sometimes oracular?  Honest Christianity (I'm sorry, Christianity is the only religion I'm very familiar with) is not in the business of telling the future.  There are many who claim it is, or it should be, but those are not honest claims.  Yes, the Bible contains many recordings of prophesies relating to future events ("future" at the time of the prophesy), but there is no claim that faith or God are reliable oracles.

The OP's criticisms were fairly harsh.  I'm hoping the truth of the interest in honest debate here isn't as dim as he claimed. Smiling

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Quote: Is science viewed as

Quote:
Is science viewed as superior to religion because it is sometimes oracular?

Nope. It's simply about actually backing up statements with proof. Of course, scientist can and will be wrong at times, but hey, nobody's perfect. Admitting and correcting mistakes is part of science as well.

Quote:
Honest Christianity (I'm sorry, Christianity is the only religion I'm very familiar with) is not in the business of telling the future.

Listen, I for one don't believe there is such a thing as "honest Christianity". Being "honest" in the way I presume you use it means ignoring a great bit of what that religion is based upon. Which in itself is dishonesty.

If Christianity isn't about telling the future, then what is left of it? If Christianity doesn't tell you how it will be in the "afterlife", then what other purpose must it serve? Because honestly, if you are to strip prophecy and foretelling out of that religion, and if you are to keep only the "good" parts of its central dogma, then you can call yourself a deist anytime: a believer in search for a deity. And that's simply not Christianity. Regardless of what you say, it doesn't change the fact that by definition you are not a Christian anymore.

Quote:
There are many who claim it is, or it should be, but those are not honest claims.

That, however, doesn't change the fact that it is exactly that kind of dogma that Christianity holds to.

Quote:
Yes, the Bible contains many recordings of prophesies relating to future events ("future" at the time of the prophesy), but there is no claim that faith or God are reliable oracles.

AMEN.

Quote:
The OP's criticisms were fairly harsh.  I'm hoping the truth of the interest in honest debate here isn't as dim as he claimed. Smiling

Welcome to the harsh world of religious debate.

 

I apologize for taking you directly with a defense agains the "no true Scotsman" fallacy, but what you need to realize is that your religion is dogmatic, not interpretative. You can't have as many sub-cults as believers, and the central Christian dogma is to be taken as truth by believers, not to be questioned or denied. If it were the case, then perhaps this whole site wold be redundant. As some theists here have demonstrated, though, it's not the case.

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JHenson wrote: Is science

JHenson wrote:
Is science viewed as superior to religion because it is sometimes oracular? Honest Christianity (I'm sorry, Christianity is the only religion I'm very familiar with) is not in the business of telling the future.

When a theory predicts something, that doesn't necessarily mean it's predicting future events. (Sometimes it is, as in meteorology.) The predictions are can be consequences of the theory.

For instance, Einstein's famous equation E=mc^2 "predicts" that there's a lot of energy stored up in atoms. This led to nuclear reactors and weapons. But E=mc^2 didn't predict that, "One day there will be nuclear explosions in Japan that lead to the end of WWII."


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Rigor_OMortis

Rigor_OMortis wrote:
Listen, I for one don't believe there is such a thing as "honest Christianity". Being "honest" in the way I presume you use it means ignoring a great bit of what that religion is based upon. Which in itself is dishonesty.

If you don't believe in "honest Christianity," then that's where we'll have to start to really have a conversation.  I think we have the same understanding of my use of the word "honest," as in "internally consistent."  I believe it is, but I also suspect a great many people don't dig very deep once they hit something troubling.  Then when they speak of Christianity, they leave out the parts they don't like.  That kind of teaching gives Christian theology a very bad reputation.

Quote:
If Christianity isn't about telling the future, then what is left of it? If Christianity doesn't tell you how it will be in the "afterlife", then what other purpose must it serve? Because honestly, if you are to strip prophecy and foretelling out of that religion, and if you are to keep only the "good" parts of its central dogma, then you can call yourself a deist anytime: a believer in search for a deity. And that's simply not Christianity. Regardless of what you say, it doesn't change the fact that by definition you are not a Christian anymore.

 What's left of Christianity if not fortune-telling?  Well, considering I claimed that part was non-existent, the whole of Christianity is left.  Christianity has exceedingly little to say about the afterlife, apart from a few parables and metaphors.  I think that conversation is getting ahead of ourselves though.

A good place to start is with something far more basic that hopefully we can find a common ground on.  Is life fair?

I don't exactly know what you mean by "dogmatic, not interpretive," although I suppose I could venture a guess.  Within the Bible (so, internal to Christianity), the earliest Christians spent a good deal of time debating over what rules new converts needed to follow from Judaism, if any.  Modern Christianity encourages study of the Bible.  My point is that interpretation is a major facet of the Christian life.

The trouble you are probably aware of is that Christians aren't magically made good people by believing in Jesus Christ.  The truth is, that's part of the religion.  It seems not enough Christians like to talk about it though.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


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MrRage wrote: When a theory

MrRage wrote:
When a theory predicts something, that doesn't necessarily mean it's predicting future events. (Sometimes it is, as in meteorology.) The predictions are can be consequences of the theory. For instance, Einstein's famous equation E=mc^2 "predicts" that there's a lot of energy stored up in atoms. This led to nuclear reactors and weapons. But E=mc^2 didn't predict that, "One day there will be nuclear explosions in Japan that lead to the end of WWII."

A fair point.  Oracular would be the wrong word, then.  Divinating might be better.  Revealing things you aren't currently able to perceive.  That would include the future, but not be limited to it.  The point remains with the revised wording - neither faith nor God claim to grant powers of divination.  Christianity has it that God can grant insight, but prayer is not a magic spell.  God does not jump on command.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


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JHenson wrote: A fair

JHenson wrote:
A fair point.  Oracular would be the wrong word, then.  Divinating might be better.  Revealing things you aren't currently able to perceive.

Yes, it's fundamentally impossible for anyone to reveal things they can't perceive.

JHenson wrote:
That would include the future, but not be limited to it.  The point remains with the revised wording - neither faith nor God claim to grant powers of divination.  Christianity has it that God can grant insight, but prayer is not a magic spell.  God does not jump on command.

So, you don't predict that we will all die and be judged, and that some of us will be sent to heaven, and some to hell? You don't believe that Christ will return? What's left?

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


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My point wasn't that

My point wasn't that Christianity is silent about the future, it was that there is no reliable way to divine information.  We have what we are given, not what we ask for.

 Yes, I believe Jesus Christ will return, and in a judgement.  I don't think I believe in your understanding of the statement "that some of us will be sent to heaven, and some to hell."  All the same, I couldn't tell you the slightest bit of useful information about it.  It's like saying that I think one day the galaxy will end.  Well, I'm willing to guess just about everyone here agrees, but I don't think we've agreed on anything particularly useful.

I've been perusing the forums lightly, and it seems a lot of malcontent about Christianity is based on the fallacy that it is a "feel-good" religion, that it makes people feel better.  What I have learned thus far is that humans have rebelled against a just and loving God, and tried to set themselves up as equally able to provide life and happiness.  If God is really just, why should I - the rebel - be comforted by this information?

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


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JHenson wrote: My point

JHenson wrote:
My point wasn't that Christianity is silent about the future, it was that there is no reliable way to divine information.  We have what we are given, not what we ask for.

This is a false distinction. So you believe that Christ will return in judgment. Why do you believe that? Most likely because the Bible says so (if not, please correct me). But whatever the source, how have you 'divined', to use your term, that that source is accurate? I don't believe in the Bible at all, and there is no objective reason to do so, so it seems to be something that you are taking on faith.

JHenson wrote:
I don't think I believe in your understanding of the statement "that some of us will be sent to heaven, and some to hell."

Fair enough. It would be helpful if you could clarify what you do, in fact, believe. Does this mean that you think all the atheists will go to heaven too? Is there a heaven? A hell? Or are you skeptical of those things?

JHenson wrote:
It's like saying that I think one day the galaxy will end.  Well, I'm willing to guess just about everyone here agrees, but I don't think we've agreed on anything particularly useful.

Depending on what you mean by 'end', I might agree or disagree, or not have an opinion. However, whatever beliefs I have about the end of the galaxy, they would be based on science, not dogma. In ignorance, I would speculate but never believe.

JHenson wrote:
I've been perusing the forums lightly, and it seems a lot of malcontent about Christianity is based on the fallacy that it is a "feel-good" religion, that it makes people feel better.

There are clearly theists who have posted here who believe for no other reason then that Christianity satisfies some emotional or psychological need for them. In those cases, we would be remiss not to point out the fact that Christianity cannot be assumed true because people want it to be. If you have different reasons for believing, we will address those reasons instead.

Ultimately, atheists don't choose the arguments we use most of the time. Atheists mostly refute the arguments offered by others.

JHenson wrote:
What I have learned thus far is that humans have rebelled against a just and loving God

How is god just? He creates creatures, deems them inadequate, and condemns them to hell. A creator is always responsible for their creation. The creation cannot be.

JHenson wrote:
, and tried to set themselves up as equally able to provide life and happiness.

What are you talking about? Can you give a specific example of someone doing this?

JHenson wrote:
If God is really just, why should I - the rebel - be comforted by this information?

What information?

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


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Quote: This is a false

Quote:
This is a false distinction. So you believe that Christ will return in judgment. Why do you believe that? Most likely because the Bible says so (if not, please correct me). But whatever the source, how have you 'divined', to use your term, that that source is accurate? I don't believe in the Bible at all, and there is no objective reason to do so, so it seems to be something that you are taking on faith.

You are correct that I am taking it on the authority of the Bible, and that it is not an agreed-upon authority.  I won't try to convince you otherwise, either.  In my personal experience, accepting the Bible is a long way down the road from believing in some kind of supernatural creator, let alone the Christian God.  I will use the Bible to attempt to prove internal consistency within Christian theology.

If it's all right, for the time being I will also refrain from greatly explaining the details of my beliefs concerning Christian specifics.  As with the Bible, those things are a ways down the road.  Hopefully we can get to them eventually.

Quote:

There are clearly theists who have posted here who believe for no other reason then that Christianity satisfies some emotional or psychological need for them. In those cases, we would be remiss not to point out the fact that Christianity cannot be assumed true because people want it to be. If you have different reasons for believing, we will address those reasons instead.

Ultimately, atheists don't choose the arguments we use most of the time. Atheists mostly refute the arguments offered by others.

This sounds extremely true to my ears.  I have met, and years ago been greatly turned off by, Christians of similar sorts.  I spent my youth as an agnostic, and I think we're in complete agreement that Christians have the same nasty habit as just about everyone - they say some incredibly stupid things sometimes.  I have a long history of it myself, and can only hope some education has dulled that habit.

Quote:
How is god just? He creates creatures, deems them inadequate, and condemns them to hell. A creator is always responsible for their creation. The creation cannot be.

This, I believe, becomes the crux of the Christian belief system, so it seems an excellent place to start.  The Christian principle is that God is three things: all-powerful, all-loving, and all-just.  We suspect his justice stems from his love because within the human experience love is the primary force of temperment in justice.  "Love" might better be phrased "charity" or "good-will" in this case.  Those words do not sum it up, rather love contains them, but it is out of that aspect of love that justice is effectively rendered.  If we had no good-will to other people we would be more likely to kill for offenses than simply offer stern words.

As for being all-powerful, that is somewhat de facto of a supernatural creator.  We can only define "power" within our personal experience, and if every power in the universe was created by - and thus less powerful than - God, by definition the creator, must be more powerful than anything else.

That leaves us with all-loving.  The primary goal of love, so far as I can tell, is to share it.  Love is a wonderful state of being, feeling, or whatever you want to call it.  Love is good.  It also assumes an empathy with others and a desire to see good things in them.  If love is good, then sharing love is good.  If God is all-loving, one could then infer that his greatest desire is to share his love.

By that train of logic, the purpose of creation is so that God has creatures to share his love with.  If we were to desire the same thing, could we simply create a statue or drawing to share love with?  Hardly.  We would need to create something like ourselves that can also think and feel and be individual.  Therefore, to share love with his creation, it is necessary that his creation can do all these things - that they can be persons.

There is an unfortunate consequence to a free creation, which is that the creation might not cooperate.  The Christian belief is that humanity decided it could do well enough on its own, and had no need of God.  This is what I mean by rebellion.  Justice, therefore, is to let humanity try it their way.  The Christian belief is that we are not capable of taking care of ourselves, evidenced by the fact that we die.  While we might go on for a while, ultimately we cannot sustain ourselves.

That is the beginning of how a Christian might see God as just despite a harsh life.  The fundamental flaw in most "feel good" Christianity is that we will get some kind of reward - eternal life - for being good.  Eternal life is not a reward, it is the intended state for people.  Nothing we can do will make us worthy of eternity because we are incapable of being completely unselfish, and therefore completely loving.

It is an extremely weighty subject, of course.  I don't want to end up writing a full thesis instead of having a conversation about it.  I'll stop here for now.  Hopefully I've at least begun to answer the question you posed about how God could be just, and at least elaborated on the rebellion I referred to.  If it wasn't sufficient, I will try to be more specific.

The information I referred to was Christian theology.  If I believe in Christian theology to feel good, I am looking in the wrong place because Christian theology will tell me is that I'm a world-class screw-up and God knows it, and no matter how hard I try it won't be enough to outweigh my faults.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


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JHenson wrote: Quote: This

JHenson wrote:

Quote:
This is a false distinction. So you believe that Christ will return in judgment. Why do you believe that? Most likely because the Bible says so (if not, please correct me). But whatever the source, how have you 'divined', to use your term, that that source is accurate? I don't believe in the Bible at all, and there is no objective reason to do so, so it seems to be something that you are taking on faith.

You are correct that I am taking it on the authority of the Bible, and that it is not an agreed-upon authority.  I won't try to convince you otherwise, either.

You don't have to try to prove the authority of the Bible to me, but until you do, I am going to conclude that you have contradicted yourself. You deny that Christianity makes predictions about the future by 'divining', but there is no other reason to believe in the authority of the Bible, and the Bible makes future predictions. Many of the crazy things that Christians believe are based in the Bible. How is what you are predicting any different? This seems like dodging the question.

It seems to me that the Bible can't help but come up early in the conversation, if you consider it authoritative.

JHenson wrote:
In my personal experience, accepting the Bible is a long way down the road from believing in some kind of supernatural creator, let alone the Christian God.  I will use the Bible to attempt to prove internal consistency within Christian theology.

That sounds hard, seeing as the Bible itself contains internal contradictions.

Also, since it's bound to come up if you are going to prove the existence of a supernatural god, I will need you to define supernatural.

JHenson wrote:
If it's all right, for the time being I will also refrain from greatly explaining the details of my beliefs concerning Christian specifics.  As with the Bible, those things are a ways down the road.

It seems that all I really need to know is probably the beginning, because if the beginning is fallacious, the rest is irrelevant. However, it would help your case if you could provide an explanation of why you consider the Bible authoritative, because otherwise it seems that you have contradicted yourself. I don't mind coming back to this point later, however.

JHenson wrote:
We suspect his justice stems from his love because within the human experience love is the primary force of temperment in justice. "Love" might better be phrased "charity" or "good-will" in this case.  Those words do not sum it up, rather love contains them, but it is out of that aspect of love that justice is effectively rendered.  If we had no good-will to other people we would be more likely to kill for offenses than simply offer stern words.

If we had no good-will toward others, I doubt if we would have societies at all. Compassion is likely a product of the evolutionary need to cooperate.

JHenson wrote:
That leaves us with all-loving.  The primary goal of love, so far as I can tell, is to share it.  Love is a wonderful state of being, feeling, or whatever you want to call it.  Love is good.  It also assumes an empathy with others and a desire to see good things in them.  If love is good, then sharing love is good.  If God is all-loving, one could then infer that his greatest desire is to share his love.

So, are you saying you don't believe in hell? How could anyone who loves everyone leave so many to suffer?

JHenson wrote:
By that train of logic, the purpose of creation is so that God has creatures to share his love with.

That's an awefully inefficient way to go about things. If all he wanted to do was share love, why it there so much in creation that has nothing to do with love? This is revisionism, and it doesn't jive with the biblical god's statement that he is jealous, or the biblical god's ordering genocide, or the biblical god ordering sacrifices, etc. To be blunt, it's a feel-good interpretation.

If you're going to believe that the bible is authoritative, you have to be willing to accept the parts of the bible that aren't so pretty, and the god described by the bible in many places is very petty and spiteful.

JHenson wrote:
There is an unfortunate consequence to a free creation, which is that the creation might not cooperate.  The Christian belief is that humanity decided it could do well enough on its own, and had no need of God.  This is what I mean by rebellion.

If god wanted us to do things differently, he could have given us better reasons to do things his way. If this were correct, we would have to believe that god decided that he was going to create a whole bunch of people who would never even give him a moment's thought, and even some who never heard of him. He would have to expect that people would come to believe in him based on ancient myths with no evidence behind any of them. How would giving people better clues have hindered his ability to love people? Do you expect you spouse/significant other to love you having never met you and only heard about you from cryptic ancient texts, many of which contradict eaach other? It's not reasonable.

JHenson wrote:
Justice, therefore, is to let humanity try it their way.

How could anything just be 'their way'? If god created everything, then he created 'their way'.

JHenson wrote:
The Christian belief is that we are not capable of taking care of ourselves, evidenced by the fact that we die.  While we might go on for a while, ultimately we cannot sustain ourselves.

We die because of what we are: living organisms. It is not 'our way', in fact if god had created us, it would be his way. When I was born, it was gaurenteed that eventually I would die, despite the fact that at the time I had no 'ways' established.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


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First, a definition for

First, a definition for supernatural:

Something for which there is neither ocular proof nor is measurable. For example, even though electromagnetic waves, subnuclear particles, et cetera may not be visible, yet they are measurable and their existence can be repetitively tested. However, we cannot either see or measure a ghost.

Of course, just because a thing is not directly measurable does not mean we cannot measure its influence on other measurable things.  For a long time we could not measure black holes (apart from x-rays, I think), but we could predict their presence based on their impact on the surrounding space.

On the Bible: I did not come to believe the Bible was authoritative for many years after effectively becoming a deist.  Validating the Bible is not necessary to invalidating athiesm.  I base my theology on the Bible, but not my belief in a deity.  The Bible gives structure to faith; it does not create faith on its own.  It is therefore not necessary for use in theist/athiest debate, apart from discussing specific Christian theology.

If you're going to assume I'm self-contradicting because I'm not interested in validating the Bible to you on grounds that you don't believe what it is based on, I suppose we can stop talking.  I'm hoping you're willing to entertain debate about deism in general, with the foreknowledge that I'll be approaching it from a Christian perspective.  All that means is that I will probably not bring up things like pantheism or polytheism to refute athiesm.

Quote:
That's an awefully inefficient way to go about things. If all he wanted to do was share love, why it there so much in creation that has nothing to do with love? This is revisionism, and it doesn't jive with the biblical god's statement that he is jealous, or the biblical god's ordering genocide, or the biblical god ordering sacrifices, etc. To be blunt, it's a feel-good interpretation.

If you're going to believe that the bible is authoritative, you have to be willing to accept the parts of the bible that aren't so pretty, and the god described by the bible in many places is very petty and spiteful.

I can't speak for the efficiency or inefficiency of creation, as I have no basis for comparison.  I am simply relating Christian beliefs.  How should creation have been made, if it were made by an intelligent creator?

I don't follow how I'm revising some part of the Bible.  The God of the Bible is reported to say he is jealous.  He has commanded war.  He has ordered animal and plant sacrifices.  On his jealousy I can speak briefly.  The English word does not carry the same connotation as the original Hebrew.  In Hebrew, the meaning is that God bears no rival.  The word used is also only ever used to refer to God, setting its meaning apart from the prideful jealousy we associate with the word.

As to the others, I think the problem is in the assumption that God must be opposed to hardship.  I stated before that our suffering is rooted in our initial rebellion.  There is the obvious question (which you've raised) that God must have known we would behave this way, and that it is unfair of him to effectively set us up to fail.

I cannot speak for God, but I can offer an analogy in my own life that is common to folk-wisdom (and so I assume common to many people).  It took me years of fighting, arguing, and rejecting my mother, then more years of scraping by barely able to take care of myself, to ultimately appreciate what she did and how much she gave me.  I would even say I probably didn't know how to love because I was so self-centered until life had raked me across the bottom.

I'm not saying the answer is that God makes us suffer so we can learn to love.  I am saying it is a possibility that suffering is not inherently bad just because we don't like going through it.  I've run across more than one athiest who, if it were not for years of tears and unanswered prayers, would not have found the athiesm they now celebrate.  I also don't think I've met a single person alive who hasn't been bettered by hardship.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


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JHenson wrote: First, a

JHenson wrote:
First, a definition for supernatural:

Something for which there is neither ocular proof nor is measurable. For example, even though electromagnetic waves, subnuclear particles, et cetera may not be visible, yet they are measurable and their existence can be repetitively tested. However, we cannot either see or measure a ghost.

If we can't measure supernatural things, how can we know anything about them? Our knowledge would inherently make the supernatural thing measurable, and then it would defy your definition.

If something is completely unmeasurable, it is impossible to know anything about it. So, we can't know anything about the supernatural.

JHenson wrote:
Validating the Bible is not necessary to invalidating athiesm.

That's true, and I think starting by attempting to prove the existence of god is the right approach. All I'm saying is that you haven't countered the refutation of your earlier claim. But I am content to come back to this later when you see fit.

JHenson wrote:
I'm hoping you're willing to entertain debate about deism in general, with the foreknowledge that I'll be approaching it from a Christian perspective.  All that means is that I will probably not bring up things like pantheism or polytheism to refute athiesm.

Fair enough. I think you need to start. Why do you believe in a god?

JHenson wrote:
I can't speak for the efficiency or inefficiency of creation, as I have no basis for comparison.  I am simply relating Christian beliefs.  How should creation have been made, if it were made by an intelligent creator?

Well, if the universe were created so that the creator could love intelligent beings, I would think that more of the universe would be devoted to intelligent beings. Consider how much matter is wasted on the other planets, the stars that could never sustain life, etc. Compared to the things that have nothing to do with life, life is insignificantly small. In fact, why would we need stars and planets? God could sustain the beings directly, with no need for all the extra stuff.

JHenson wrote:
I don't follow how I'm revising some part of the Bible.  The God of the Bible is reported to say he is jealous.  He has commanded war.  He has ordered animal and plant sacrifices.  On his jealousy I can speak briefly.  The English word does not carry the same connotation as the original Hebrew.  In Hebrew, the meaning is that God bears no rival.

You are revising the Bible by trying to say that god's motive was 'love'. Clearly, there is also a desire for submission and an intolerance for certain types of human behavior.

The god of the Bible decided to send the recently liberated slaves from Egypt on a 40 year hike in the wilderness for the mere act of worshiping another god. Where's the love in that?

Sodom and Gomorrah?

The god of the Bible flooded the earth killing all people but one family for "great wickedness". Seems quite a trivial way to condemn so many people, certainly not very loving. And this would have been at a time when most of the world knew nothing about that god. On the other hand, it's interesting that none of the other civilizations seemed to notice that they were destroyed.

Further examples...

JHenson wrote:
As to the others, I think the problem is in the assumption that God must be opposed to hardship.

I think the real problem is in your claim that god is motivated by a need to love. Obviously, the god of the old testament is not too loving. He's a brutal murderer, with strict laws, and strict penalties for disobedience.

JHenson wrote:
I stated before that our suffering is rooted in our initial rebellion.  There is the obvious question (which you've raised) that God must have known we would behave this way, and that it is unfair of him to effectively set us up to fail.

Indeed.

JHenson wrote:
I cannot speak for God, but I can offer an analogy in my own life that is common to folk-wisdom (and so I assume common to many people).  It took me years of fighting, arguing, and rejecting my mother, then more years of scraping by barely able to take care of myself, to ultimately appreciate what she did and how much she gave me.  I would even say I probably didn't know how to love because I was so self-centered until life had raked me across the bottom.

Your mother did not create you. She's in exactly the same position you are, from the perspective of the Big Questions. The all-knowing and all-powerful god of the Bible, on the other hand, could have foreseen all problems and done things differently.

JHenson wrote:
I've run across more than one athiest who, if it were not for years of tears and unanswered prayers, would not have found the athiesm they now celebrate.  I also don't think I've met a single person alive who hasn't been bettered by hardship.

Many of the people who haven't been bettered by their hardships are dead, and I have known several such people. But moreover, whatever noble end the suffering is supposed to achieve, an all-powerful god could by definition achieve the same thing by other means.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


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Susan wrote: Quote: Even

Susan wrote:

Quote:
Even though I obviously disagree with you on the existence of God, I was looking forward to the opportunity to engage an atheist who was intellectually honest enough to allow himself to be convinced otherwise.

I admit I can't quite tell if this is just an insult (saying that none of us are intellectually honest) or a pulling a Bod.

 

 

It seems fairly odd that he/she(?) is asking us to be open minded. Surely the epistemology that we use in science and in scientific philosophy is the best there can possibly be? i.e. we only claim to know what we can actually find possible to know. He/she seems to say that we rule out anything beyond physics. Not so, we simply cannot find anything beyond physics. They say:

x exists until we prove that x exists or x doesn't exist.

We say:

it is doubtful as to whether x exists until we prove that x exists or doesn't exist.

When this is put to the concept of God it is nearly impossible to prove either way.


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Quote:If we can't measure

Quote:

If we can't measure supernatural things, how can we know anything about them? Our knowledge would inherently make the supernatural thing measurable, and then it would defy your definition.

If something is completely unmeasurable, it is impossible to know anything about it. So, we can't know anything about the supernatural.

See me comment in the same post you're replying to about black holes.  If we only tried to know about things we could measure we wouldn't have gotten very far in science.

Quote:
Your mother did not create you. She's in exactly the same position you are, from the perspective of the Big Questions. The all-knowing and all-powerful god of the Bible, on the other hand, could have foreseen all problems and done things differently.

My mother, by all accounts, was more knowledgeable, more powerful than I was when I was an infant.  It is an analogy.  I'd throw a fit against going to the doctor because he might decide I needed a shot.  Intentionally walking into pain seems counter-intuitive to me, let alone insane.  She would force me because she claimed it was in fact a good thing.  Well, she knew something I didn't.

Considering I can become a parent, it makes sense that I might eventually know things that my mother knew.  Considering I cannot become a god, it also makes sense that I cannot know many things that God knows.

Quote:
Many of the people who haven't been bettered by their hardships are dead, and I have known several such people. But moreover, whatever noble end the suffering is supposed to achieve, an all-powerful god could by definition achieve the same thing by other means.

Life is hard.  I don't follow how death is worse than life, from an atheist perspective.

To add to what I was saying about God sharing love: love is not just some fine feeling we have.  Anyone who's been in a romantic relationship probably knows that love is more akin to a skill.  I see nothing unusual in thinking that learning to love might be difficult, since it is (by Christian theology) a portion of the divine.

Put another way: it might please a father to watch his infant son take his first wobbling step (or even to do nothing but exist).  The same father, while pleased, would not ultimately be satisfied by anything less than a confident, manly stride.  If that father were to simply pick his child up and manipulate him to walk, like a puppet, I would be hard-pressed to imagine the result being a pleased father.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


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JHenson wrote: Quote: If

JHenson wrote:
Quote:

If we can't measure supernatural things, how can we know anything about them? Our knowledge would inherently make the supernatural thing measurable, and then it would defy your definition.

If something is completely unmeasurable, it is impossible to know anything about it. So, we can't know anything about the supernatural.

See me comment in the same post you're replying to about black holes.  If we only tried to know about things we could measure we wouldn't have gotten very far in science.

Well actually science is about finding out things that exist and how things work, these things are things we can in fact measure! That is exactly how we've gotten this far in science! And we know a damn site more through scientific discovery than through any speculating on supernatural Gods and their divine wisdom.

Quote:
Your mother did not create you. She's in exactly the same position you are, from the perspective of the Big Questions. The all-knowing and all-powerful god of the Bible, on the other hand, could have foreseen all problems and done things differently.

Quote:
My mother, by all accounts, was more knowledgeable, more powerful than I was when I was an infant.  It is an analogy.  I'd throw a fit against going to the doctor because he might decide I needed a shot.  Intentionally walking into pain seems counter-intuitive to me, let alone insane.  She would force me because she claimed it was in fact a good thing.  Well, she knew something I didn't.

Considering I can become a parent, it makes sense that I might eventually know things that my mother knew.  Considering I cannot become a god, it also makes sense that I cannot know many things that God knows.

There is a fatal error in your argument. I accept the part about parenting. However you assume that to be a god is a possibility(although not for yourself), i.e. that God exists. It is common for people to actually become better parents than their parents in that they want to know what their parents knew and more. The way we see it is not that we are capable of becoming Gods in any sense of the word. But that we are capable of understanding to some level the universe in all its mind-blowing spectacle! Not only this, but it does us great good to understand the universe, that is in fact the aim of humanity, God is a personification of that goal which people who are too overwhelmed have used to try and explain it instead.

  

Quote:
Quote:
Many of the people who haven't been bettered by their hardships are dead, and I have known several such people. But moreover, whatever noble end the suffering is supposed to achieve, an all-powerful god could by definition achieve the same thing by other means.

Life is hard.  I don't follow how death is worse than life, from an atheist perspective.

It is not that death is worse than life in any sense for the world, it is simply a process in the ever-continuing existence of life, from when it started to when it ends. But for ourselves we know there is only one life, one chance to fulfil all of our goals or achieve the most desirable state of affairs. For us death is what stops us from doing that, not that it is a bad thing but simply as an end point.

Quote:
To add to what I was saying about God sharing love: love is not just some fine feeling we have.  Anyone who's been in a romantic relationship probably knows that love is more akin to a skill.  I see nothing unusual in thinking that learning to love might be difficult, since it is (by Christian theology) a portion of the divine.

Put another way: it might please a father to watch his infant son take his first wobbling step (or even to do nothing but exist).  The same father, while pleased, would not ultimately be satisfied by anything less than a confident, manly stride.  If that father were to simply pick his child up and manipulate him to walk, like a puppet, I would be hard-pressed to imagine the result being a pleased father.

Actually love can in fact be easy or even unwanted. It is purely instinct. That doesn't minimise the importance of love. When I feel love I don't think of it purely as an evolutionary instinct governed by increases in dopemine in my brain, I think I really love this person and I want to spend the rest of my life with them, usually it goes terribly wrong, but that's simply because I've had a succession of failed relationships.


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JHenson wrote: Quote: If

JHenson wrote:
Quote:
If we can't measure supernatural things, how can we know anything about them? Our knowledge would inherently make the supernatural thing measurable, and then it would defy your definition.

If something is completely unmeasurable, it is impossible to know anything about it. So, we can't know anything about the supernatural.

See me comment in the same post you're replying to about black holes.  If we only tried to know about things we could measure we wouldn't have gotten very far in science.

Black holes were predicted by scientists starting from theories that already had experimental verification, both Newtonian physics and Einsteinian General Relativity. This prediction has been supported by subsequent observations. The evidence for the existence of black holes is still indirect, so it remains possible that our understanding will be revised again later.

I clarify this because there is a fundamental difference in methodology. Black holes were not predicted as a random guess. There were reasons to anticipate their existence, and even so, we continue to entertain seriously doubts and alternatives. On the other hand, things that religion has to say about the supernatural are fixed, unquestionable, and rigid. Religion does not leave itself open to doubts, and therefore, this comparison is very poor.

So, once again, if we cannot measure anything about the supernatural, how can anything about it be known?

JHenson wrote:
Quote:
Your mother did not create you. She's in exactly the same position you are, from the perspective of the Big Questions. The all-knowing and all-powerful god of the Bible, on the other hand, could have foreseen all problems and done things differently.

My mother, by all accounts, was more knowledgeable, more powerful than I was when I was an infant.  It is an analogy. I'd throw a fit against going to the doctor because he might decide I needed a shot.

I understand that it's an analogy, but it is a poor one, which specifically misses the point that I made. Your mother may be a smart woman, but she is not all-knowing, nor is she all-powerful. Your mother had to take you to the doctor if you were sick. God could prevent you from being sick in the first place. And, in the same way, god could have made you in a way that would please him, but he didn't. You are expected, per your theology, to bow and scrape and find some way to get him to accept you. This seems to defy the notion that god is only motivated by 'love'.

JHenson wrote:
Considering I can become a parent, it makes sense that I might eventually know things that my mother knew.  Considering I cannot become a god, it also makes sense that I cannot know many things that God knows.

But, you claim that god is all-powerful, and loving. As I have pointed out, this is inconsistent with reality.

JHenson wrote:
Quote:
Many of the people who haven't been bettered by their hardships are dead, and I have known several such people. But moreover, whatever noble end the suffering is supposed to achieve, an all-powerful god could by definition achieve the same thing by other means.

Life is hard.  I don't follow how death is worse than life, from an atheist perspective.

It isn't inherently better or worse. There are situations in which I believe death is much better. People who go through hardships and then die as a result are obviously not bettered by them. Think of someone who dies of cancer over the coarse of years. What good end did the hardship lead to? And, to repeat and restate my earlier question, what hardship can lead to an end that god could not achieve otherwise?

JHenson wrote:
Put another way: it might please a father to watch his infant son take his first wobbling step (or even to do nothing but exist).  The same father, while pleased, would not ultimately be satisfied by anything less than a confident, manly stride.  If that father were to simply pick his child up and manipulate him to walk, like a puppet, I would be hard-pressed to imagine the result being a pleased father.

And, like in your story about your mother, this is a poor analogy. A father may have limited ability to achieve the end that he wants, but god's ability is not so limited, by your own description of him.

Furthermore, I think the notion that we should go through hardships to satisfy god's 'pride' would reveal a god that has little concern for us, and who prefers to think of us like toys.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


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To add to the mother analogy

To add to the mother analogy tear down, the most basic and fundamental difference between god/man and mother/child is that the child can see the mother. Can touch her, hear her, smell her, taste her. Be affected by her. Man cannot see god. Cannot hear god. Cannot touch god. Cannot smell god. Cannot taste god. Cannot even induct the possibility of gods existance on available evidence, let alone be affected by god. The only reason theism even exists today is because of it's primitive background. If all knowledge of "supernatural" beings were somehow wiped out without losing our scientific and technological knowledge, organized theism would be forever dead to the human species. There isn't enough of a gap in human understanding of reality to support the creation of a fictional super being en masse anymore. There's just barely enough to sustain previous created fictional super beings, but that's a matter of momentum. And that momentum is destabilizing.

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Since no one else did it,

Since no one else did it, and since this person is apparently not going to respond, I'm going to discuss the errors. When our teachers are as error-laden as this, it makes me wonder about our teachers...

Evolution is not just a model. And creationism is not a model at all. Scientific theories are models and evolution counts as an example. Evolution theory is no less a scientific theory than general relativity is a theory of gravity. Also, evolution-as-phenomenon is just as real as gravity is real. The evidence has been in for a long time. And about these 2 observed phenomena we have theories to describe them, namely evolution theory (or Darwinism if preferred) and general relativity.

Meanwhile, creationism is pure superstition. There is no model of creationism at all. There is no theory. It cannot be used to explain anything...precisely because it can be used to explain everything, including things that do not exist. Why is the sky plaid? God created it that way.

A process being non-random does not imply it is directed. Most evolution theorists will agree that the randomness normally invoked in evolution theory MAY OR MAY NOT in fact be random in any genuine philosophical sense. Whether this randomness is an admission of incomplete information in a block universe scenario or an example of genuine randomness is UNKNOWN. The interesting thing is that randomness can be correctly applied in either sense to modern evolution theory.

Evolution IS widely accepted enough to be called 'universally accepted.' Any statement to the contrary is simply false. Of course there are disagreements about particulars of evolution, but this is not the same as claiming that there is widespread doubt the efficacy of evolution. There is no such widespread doubt.

Nonbelievers of Christianity are well within their rights to use debunking the Bible as argumentation against the validity of Christianity. There is a philosophical term for this: imminent critique. The intent is to show that the internal structure of the subject under review fails FROM WITHIN. Actually, this is the best way to destroy Christianity or any other supposedly philosophical system because it employs the law of non-contradiction from which it can be concluded that a system that is not internally consistent is in fact illogical...since the foundational condition of all logical systems is that they be internally consistent. Internally consistent systems will not fail under imminent critique.

Finally, what is there to win? Atheism, as with anything one is right to be sceptical about, is largely just frugal doubt about wild, impossible and inconsistent claims coming from the other side. I would even say that the god-idea is so inherently weird that even someone who generally professes belief cannot help but be doubtful about it from time to time.

Of course things like intuition and inference are tools (albeit weak ones) that on occasion play a role in the advance of science. But there is an error here that is not easy to spot. Just because there are examples of intuition and inference leading to scientific advancement, this does not imply that these are desirable or even inevitable components. Even if intution leads to a scientific discovery, in the end the discovery is not accepted ON THE BASIS of intuition. Indeed, in order for general acceptance to come, nearly all traces of intuition must be wiped out or the results remain dubious.


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JHenson wrote:

JHenson wrote:

First, a definition for supernatural:

Something for which there is neither ocular proof nor is measurable. For example, even though electromagnetic waves, subnuclear particles, et cetera may not be visible, yet they are measurable and their existence can be repetitively tested. However, we cannot either see or measure a ghost.

Of course, just because a thing is not directly measurable does not mean we cannot measure its influence on other measurable things. For a long time we could not measure black holes (apart from x-rays, I think), but we could predict their presence based on their impact on the surrounding space.

There is something else going on in this definition of supernaturalism that was not addressed.

How do we perceive objects, even those that we cannot directly see? For everything that we can measure or perceive, there is some medium of stuff that brings the information to our consciousness. In the case of a flower, for example, the lights from some source (most likely the sun) reflects off of the surfaces of the flower, reaches my eyes, and my eyes transform the light into signals that my brain can process into a neural pattern that becomes my conscious image of a flower.

In the case of things like black holes, we can measure the gravitational effect around the event horizons on other things that we can measure, and thus indirectly detect the influence of them.

Can we do this with something supernatural? Let's revisit the definition from above;

Quote:
Something for which there is neither ocular proof nor is measurable

It's not that we haven't measured it, but that it is not measurable. That is, there is no way for things in the natural universe to interact with it, right? In what other way it is inherently immeasurable? If the supernatural were to share no ontological relationship with the natural, meaning we could not measure it in any way, then it would follow that there would be no possible influence on other things to measure the supernatural, even indirectly. For if there were a way to have the supernatural effect the natural world so that we could indirectly derive it's existence, we should (in principle) be able to detect it directly using the same natural medium of effect through which we derived it's influence.  Again, whatever medium of interaction that allowed the supernatural to influence the natural for us to indirectlky derive the supernatural's existence, we shoudl be able to step in (again, in principle) and view the medium of influence between the supernatural and natural.

I think that you, JHensen, either need to be more clear about the nature (sic) of the supernatural--that is, define it's ontological status in relation to nature--or simply admit that there is no evidence, direct or indirect, for it's existence.

What do you see in the world that you think is the result of supernatural influence which could not more easily and more elegantly explained by some natural force or set of forces? Why even consider the supernatural as possibly real in the first place?

Shaun

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JHenson wrote:First, a

JHenson wrote:

First, a definition for supernatural:

Something for which there is neither ocular proof nor is measurable. For example, even though electromagnetic waves, subnuclear particles, et cetera may not be visible, yet they are measurable and their existence can be repetitively tested. However, we cannot either see or measure a ghost.

This definition is incomplete. It is too broad. There is no ocular proof or measure of a rock sitting on a planet 13 billion light years away from us, but the rock would be natural.

 

Quote:

Of course, just because a thing is not directly measurable does not mean we cannot measure its influence on other measurable things.

But if a 'thing' has an influence on something measurable, then this thing must work causally. This would make it natural.

Quote:

For a long time we could not measure black holes (apart from x-rays, I think), but we could predict their presence based on their impact on the surrounding space.

Black holes are natural, ergo your example does not support your case. Your example only demonstrates the flaw in your definition that I identified above.

 

ShaunPhilly wrote:

I think that you, JHensen, either need to be more clear about the nature (sic) of the supernatural--that is, define it's ontological status in relation to nature--or simply admit that there is no evidence, direct or indirect, for it's existence.

Excellent point, as usual, Shaun. Yes, unless our friend either 1) provides a positive ontology for the supernatural (and picks up a Nobel prize along the way) or 2) Concedes the impossibility of doing such a thing, there is little reason to continue this line of discussion.

I think this is yet the latest example of a theist being unaware that he is using a term without ontological status 

 

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I tried replying a few days

I tried replying a few days ago, but the forums crashed or something.  At any rate, I'll reply to each post seperately to avoid losing a lot of writing again.

 

Quote:
The way we see it is not that we are capable of becoming Gods in any sense of the word. But that we are capable of understanding to some level the universe in all its mind-blowing spectacle! Not only this, but it does us great good to understand the universe, that is in fact the aim of humanity, God is a personification of that goal which people who are too overwhelmed have used to try and explain it instead.

 Christianity agrees that understanding the universe is good, and that a fraction of this is possible.  I would contend against the statement that understanding is the "aim of humanity" on the simple grounds that I don't think even athiests would all agree on that.  Perhaps it is your personal belief?  Would you expound on how you came to believe this, or why it seems self-evident?

Quote:
It is not that death is worse than life in any sense for the world, it is simply a process in the ever-continuing existence of life, from when it started to when it ends. But for ourselves we know there is only one life, one chance to fulfil all of our goals or achieve the most desirable state of affairs. For us death is what stops us from doing that, not that it is a bad thing but simply as an end point.

I presume by "desirable state of affairs" you refer to social welfare - the betterment of humankind and all that.  Could you define the former - "all of our goals."  There is a line I perceive dividing social welfare from personal goals, and the two often compete.  My expectation and current understanding is that athiesm would suggest balance as the answer.  Before getting into it though, I would like to hear "our goals" better defined.

 

Quote:
Actually love can in fact be easy or even unwanted. It is purely instinct. That doesn't minimise the importance of love. When I feel love I don't think of it purely as an evolutionary instinct governed by increases in dopemine in my brain, I think I really love this person and I want to spend the rest of my life with them, usually it goes terribly wrong, but that's simply because I've had a succession of failed relationships.

Passion is easy, not love.  A track-record of failed relationships does not indicate you have a matured concept of love.  Truthfully, it indicates the opposite.  I mean no disrespect, and that is a matter a person should explore personally, so I won't lecture.

 

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Quote: So, once again, if

Quote:
So, once again, if we cannot measure anything about the supernatural, how can anything about it be known?

My assertion was that the impact of the supernatural on the natural can be measured even if the supernatural itself cannot.

Quote:
I understand that it's an analogy, but it is a poor one, which specifically misses the point that I made. Your mother may be a smart woman, but she is not all-knowing, nor is she all-powerful. Your mother had to take you to the doctor if you were sick. God could prevent you from being sick in the first place. And, in the same way, god could have made you in a way that would please him, but he didn't. You are expected, per your theology, to bow and scrape and find some way to get him to accept you. This seems to defy the notion that god is only motivated by 'love'.

But, you claim that god is all-powerful, and loving. As I have pointed out, this is inconsistent with reality.

The analogy's point stands, and addresses your argument.  Just because you don't think a set of circumstances is in your best interest does not mean that it isn't.  I might later learn that my mother's love was expressed in things that I thought hurt me, that clearly demonstrated she must in fact hate me.  I can learn that I was wrong because I can become an adult, and a parent.  If I cannot become a god, I cannot learn all the ways that God has loved me, which might include things that seem evidence of hatred or ambivalence.

Quote:
And, to repeat and restate my earlier question, what hardship can lead to an end that god could not achieve otherwise?

 If death is not the end, dying of your hardships is not pointless.  We cannot learn to love by being pampered.  I thought I'd answered this already, but perhaps it was lost in one of those crashes.

Quote:
Furthermore, I think the notion that we should go through hardships to satisfy god's 'pride' would reveal a god that has little concern for us, and who prefers to think of us like toys.

If we were toys of little concern, we wouldn't have been given free will in the first place.  If God were "proud" as you put it, he wouldn't permit a single word or thought against him.

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first i'd like to point out

first i'd like to point out one thing:

theories are indeed models, they are neither more or less acceptable then laws. theories do not have 'levels of certainty' associated with them. this is a very common misconception. one could very well make 'creationism' a theory, if only there was non-biblical evidence present, but sadly there is not. but for future reference: theory(n): "a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena", its the scientific equivilent of a mathematical theorum. 

 second: 

 the reason we use biblical scripture vs many christians is that they hold it's passages as pure fact. in order to show them that this is not the best route, we show the obvious logical incongruities and contradictions to discredit their source of 'facts'. too many christians will just spout off bible verses as fact without doing any research to see if its plausible at all.

 lastly:

as for the episotomology of an atheist,  we accept a variety of argumentative data, such as intuition as well as empirical evidence that is tangible. the problem is making the leap from intelligent design to saying that this 'designer' is the christian god is quite a large one.

 i, personally, am open to the idea of a deistic god, but this is merely a 'good idea' with no evidence supporting it, and i think we should not base our lives around 'what might be' and instead focus it around 'what is'.


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JHenson wrote: Quote: So,

JHenson wrote:
Quote:
So, once again, if we cannot measure anything about the supernatural, how can anything about it be known?
My assertion was that the impact of the supernatural on the natural can be measured even if the supernatural itself cannot.

Anything that can have a measurable effect on the natural world can be measured, and therefore all things that can have a natural effect are themselves natural be definition. So, what is supernatural? Give me a definition that does not contradict itself.

JHenson wrote:
Quote:
I understand that it's an analogy, but it is a poor one, which specifically misses the point that I made. Your mother may be a smart woman, but she is not all-knowing, nor is she all-powerful. Your mother had to take you to the doctor if you were sick. God could prevent you from being sick in the first place. And, in the same way, god could have made you in a way that would please him, but he didn't. You are expected, per your theology, to bow and scrape and find some way to get him to accept you. This seems to defy the notion that god is only motivated by 'love'.

But, you claim that god is all-powerful, and loving. As I have pointed out, this is inconsistent with reality.

The analogy's point stands, and addresses your argument.

No, it completely misses the point. An omnipotent god is not like your parents in a very fundamental way. It would not need to make you suffer.

JHenson wrote:
Just because you don't think a set of circumstances is in your best interest does not mean that it isn't.

This is an argument that only really applies to non-omnipotent agents.

JHenson wrote:
Quote:
And, to repeat and restate my earlier question, what hardship can lead to an end that god could not achieve otherwise?

 If death is not the end, dying of your hardships is not pointless.  We cannot learn to love by being pampered.  I thought I'd answered this already, but perhaps it was lost in one of those crashes.

You are forgetting what god is supposed to be. If he is all-powerful, he has no need to accomplish anything in a certain way.

JHenson wrote:
Quote:
Furthermore, I think the notion that we should go through hardships to satisfy god's 'pride' would reveal a god that has little concern for us, and who prefers to think of us like toys.

If we were toys of little concern, we wouldn't have been given free will in the first place.  If God were "proud" as you put it, he wouldn't permit a single word or thought against him.

I was using the notion of pride from your own analogy. But, from the way that Christians frame the issue, a word or thought against god is a sin, which results in hell, so I don't see where he does permit these things. Freewill is a kludge to fill an ideological gap, and has no useful meaning. A creator is always responsible for their creation.

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JHenson wrote:Quote:So,

JHenson wrote:

Quote:
So, once again, if we cannot measure anything about the supernatural, how can anything about it be known?

My assertion was that the impact of the supernatural on the natural can be measured even if the supernatural itself cannot.

No, it cannot, by definition.

If we could measure an effect, then the supernatural would be causal. Causality is part of naturalism, the supernatural is acausal. I made this simple, basic metaphysical point in the very post you think you're responding to... please read more carefully.

 

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JHenson wrote: Quote: I

JHenson wrote:

Quote:
I understand that it's an analogy, but it is a poor one, which specifically misses the point that I made. Your mother may be a smart woman, but she is not all-knowing, nor is she all-powerful. Your mother had to take you to the doctor if you were sick. God could prevent you from being sick in the first place. And, in the same way, god could have made you in a way that would please him, but he didn't. You are expected, per your theology, to bow and scrape and find some way to get him to accept you. This seems to defy the notion that god is only motivated by 'love'.

But, you claim that god is all-powerful, and loving. As I have pointed out, this is inconsistent with reality.

The analogy's point stands, and addresses your argument. 

Your response is ridiculous. Your analogy fails for the very reason pointed out to you - because your analogy leaves out all that is vital to defining the supernatural entity!

Your response just ignores his points and reveals that they went over your head. 

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Continuing to reply to

Continuing to reply to those I missed earlier this evening.  Hopefully I'll get everyone tonight.  Considering the crowd, it doesn't seem a very debate-friendly thread any longer, but we'll see where things go. 

Quote:
To add to the mother analogy tear down, the most basic and fundamental difference between god/man and mother/child is that the child can see the mother. Can touch her, hear her, smell her, taste her. Be affected by her. Man cannot see god. Cannot hear god. Cannot touch god. Cannot smell god. Cannot taste god. Cannot even induct the possibility of gods existance on available evidence, let alone be affected by god. The only reason theism even exists today is because of it's primitive background.

Because a thing cannot be placed in your hand, so to speak, does not make it irrelevant, let alone unreal.  Of course, if I'm wrong surely you can prove free quarks to me.  Or superstring theory.  Hell, prove gravity.  Given the state of quantum physics, even that's up in the air.  It would seem my five senses aren't considered very reliable when it comes to perceiving the universe.

 If all knowledge of "supernatural" beings were somehow wiped out without losing our scientific and technological knowledge, organized theism would be forever dead to the human species. There isn't enough of a gap in human understanding of reality to support the creation of a fictional super being en masse anymore. There's just barely enough to sustain previous created fictional super beings, but that's a matter of momentum. And that momentum is destabilizing.

 

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JHenson wrote: Continuing

JHenson wrote:

Continuing to reply to those I missed earlier this evening. Hopefully I'll get everyone tonight. Considering the crowd, it doesn't seem a very debate-friendly thread any longer, but we'll see where things go.

Quote:
To add to the mother analogy tear down, the most basic and fundamental difference between god/man and mother/child is that the child can see the mother. Can touch her, hear her, smell her, taste her. Be affected by her. Man cannot see god. Cannot hear god. Cannot touch god. Cannot smell god. Cannot taste god. Cannot even induct the possibility of gods existance on available evidence, let alone be affected by god. The only reason theism even exists today is because of it's primitive background.

Because a thing cannot be placed in your hand, so to speak, does not make it irrelevant, let alone unreal.

Of course not, but none of this can be applied to the supernatural, as supernatural is defined contra-nature.

Quote:
 

Of course, if I'm wrong surely you can prove free quarks to me. Or superstring theory. Hell, prove gravity. Given the state of quantum physics, even that's up in the air. It would seem my five senses aren't considered very reliable when it comes to perceiving the universe.

You seem to be in love with repeating various permutations of the same error.

We can call it the 'can you see the wind' argument. The fact that there are natural entities that we cannot see, or feel, in no way makes for a good analogy for the supernatural, as the supernatural is not merely something you can't see, but something that by definition is unknowable altogether. The supernatural is not merely too small to see, it is non-empirical and non knowable.

All of your posts here are stolen concept fallacies - you continually steal from naturalism. 

I look forward to you repeating the same error as you seem to have no interest, whatsoever, in picking up on your error and correcting it. 

 

 

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Quote: It's not that we

Quote:
It's not that we haven't measured it, but that it is not measurable. That is, there is no way for things in the natural universe to interact with it, right? In what other way it is inherently immeasurable? If the supernatural were to share no ontological relationship with the natural, meaning we could not measure it in any way, then it would follow that there would be no possible influence on other things to measure the supernatural, even indirectly. For if there were a way to have the supernatural effect the natural world so that we could indirectly derive it's existence, we should (in principle) be able to detect it directly using the same natural medium of effect through which we derived it's influence.  Again, whatever medium of interaction that allowed the supernatural to influence the natural for us to indirectlky derive the supernatural's existence, we shoudl be able to step in (again, in principle) and view the medium of influence between the supernatural and natural.

The problem is that there are no controls one can set to measure against.  There is no standard by which one can put a ruler to God.  The definition I quoted mentions ghosts, and yet there's an entire field of study devoted to "measuring" them.

Quote:
What do you see in the world that you think is the result of supernatural influence which could not more easily and more elegantly explained by some natural force or set of forces? Why even consider the supernatural as possibly real in the first place?

What I see is a community built on a dishonest belief system that is no more or less dogmatic than mine.  Why consider the supernatural a possibility?  I thought open-mindedness was the professed cornerstone of atheism.  Discounting any unknown is foolishness.  My personal faith is not open to discussion, because I'm not interested in anyone knowing or believing what I believe.

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JHenson wrote: What I see

JHenson wrote:

What I see is a community built on a dishonest belief system that is no more or less dogmatic than mine.

Ah, now you must turn to insults.

Interesting that you've chosen to project your own flaws onto us, as the insult.

I suppose that's the value of the site for you: to lash out at others over your own flaws. 

Quote:
 

 Why consider the supernatural a possibility? I thought open-mindedness was the professed cornerstone of atheism.

There's a difference between open mindedness and irrational acceptance of logical contradictions. "Supernatural" is a broken concept. If you define something contra-nature, then making any refernence to 'it' commits a stolen concept fallacy.

Again and again you repeat the same error, while running away from even trying to deal with your error.

Now, get back to tossing insults, it's likely all you have left. 

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Quote: This definition is

Quote:
This definition is incomplete. It is too broad. There is no ocular proof or measure of a rock sitting on a planet 13 billion light years away from us, but the rock would be natural.

I quoted it from dictionary.com.  Sorry you don't like it.

Quote:
Black holes are natural, ergo your example does not support your case. Your example only demonstrates the flaw in your definition that I identified above.

The point was that there are things we accept as real that we cannot measure directly.  The semantics are tiresome at best, and only prove something I stated in the beginning - people aren't perfect, regardless of faith.

Quote:
Excellent point, as usual, Shaun. Yes, unless our friend either 1) provides a positive ontology for the supernatural (and picks up a Nobel prize along the way) or 2) Concedes the impossibility of doing such a thing, there is little reason to continue this line of discussion.

I'll refer to a recent post - a supernatural thing is one which has no available control by which to measure it against.  Without a control, no empirical experimentation to verify or falsify a query is possible.  It may require revising over time as I created the definition in roughly one minute.  If it satisfies, you can keep your Nobel prize. In either case, you can drop the sarcasm.

Empiricism is an unnatural way to propagate wisdom, by the by.  The primary method of human learning to my understanding is gestalt, which is based on intuitively perceived repeating patterns, not empirical data.

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JHenson wrote: What I see

JHenson wrote:
What I see is a community built on a dishonest belief system that is no more or less dogmatic than mine.

What I see is that once you run out of arguments you resort to ad hominem. This isn't at all what was asked for.

JHenson wrote:
Why consider the supernatural a possibility?  I thought open-mindedness was the professed cornerstone of atheism.  Discounting any unknown is foolishness.

Open-mindedness does not include indulging complete nonsense. In order to entertain an idea, we must first have a clear idea what it is. You have not provided a consistent or meaningful definition of supernatural so far.

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JHenson wrote: Quote: This

JHenson wrote:

Quote:
This definition is incomplete. It is too broad. There is no ocular proof or measure of a rock sitting on a planet 13 billion light years away from us, but the rock would be natural.

I quoted it from dictionary.com.

Ah, yes, the dictionary, the source for all rigorous philosophical definitions!

Dictionaries exist to list definitions... any sort that anyone uses... just pulling a definition from a dictionary doesn't mean you've pulled an appropriate definition in the current context.

Quote:
 

Sorry you don't like it.

It's not just that I don't "like" it, it's that the definition  you've chosen has serious flaws. 

Quote:
Black holes are natural, ergo your example does not support your case. Your example only demonstrates the flaw in your definition that I identified above.

 

Quote:
 

The point was that there are things we accept as real that we cannot measure directly.

But they are NATURALISTIC entities.

Ergo your analogy fails.

 

Quote:

The semantics are tiresome at best, 

To you, because they refute you. 

Quote:
Excellent point, as usual, Shaun. Yes, unless our friend either 1) provides a positive ontology for the supernatural (and picks up a Nobel prize along the way) or 2) Concedes the impossibility of doing such a thing, there is little reason to continue this line of discussion.

Quote:
 

I'll refer to a recent post - a supernatural thing is one which has no available control by which to measure it against.

That's a negative definition.

Quote:
 

Without a control, no empirical experimentation to verify or falsify a query is possible.

Which means it is unknowable.

Quote:
 

It may require revising over time as I created the definition in roughly one minute. If it satisfies, you can keep your Nobel prize.

Your definition is entirely negative, ergo you do not win the prize.

Quote:
 

In either case, you can drop the sarcasm.

 

It's not sarcasm. I'm directly saying you can't define supernaturalism using positive terms, without stealing from naturalism. 

Quote:
 

Empiricism is an unnatural way to propagate wisdom, by the by.

No, it is not. We learn through our senses. That is natural!

Please think through your statements. 

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