A sophisticated defense of theistic belief

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A sophisticated defense of theistic belief

 

I'm debating someone online in a few days and I'd like to see how an atheist laymen will react to my opening speech.  Here it is:

 

I will be presenting a cumulative case to think that theism (T) is true. By theism, I mean the belief that a God who roughly fits the classical Abrahamic concept of God exists. In order to arrive at the conclusion that that probability of T is >.5, it is not necessary that any argument alone establish the truth of T. Rather, the arguments must be taken cumulatively.

I expect my opponent, who is a strong atheist, to present arguments that God does not exist. Since he is claiming to know something about the world, he too shares the burden of proof. Only the negative atheist who merely lacks a belief in God does not shoulder the burden of proof. Time will not allow me to totally cash out each argument as much as I would like. Hopefully these arguments can be better explained and developed during the rebuttal period.The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentPerhaps one of the most convincing arguments in favor of T comes out of modern cosmology. One of the most amazing discoveries of modern cosmology is that the universe is not eternal in the past, but began a finite time ago.There is currently no major model that escapes the beginning of the universe as predicted by the standard model (Craig and Sinclair 2009). Even models which include a multiverse must have begun to exist too. In his book Many Worlds in One, eminent cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin (and proponent of the multiverse) has written: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape; they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning” (Vilenkin 2006).Unless we are willing to say that the universe simply sprung into existence, uncaused and out of nothing, we must say that something outside of the universe caused it to come into being. So we come to the Kalam Cosmological Argument:(1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.(2) The universe began to exist.(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence, the cause is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.(C) Therefore, the cause of the universe is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful. Justification for P1:This premise is grounded in the intuitive first principle of metaphysics ex nihilo nihil fit: out of nothing, nothing comes. If you think about, it is very hard to deny the truth of this principle. After all, what is nothing? Nothingness has no properties whatsoever-not even the property of lacking properties. Nothingness is “what rocks dream about”. When you really come to grips with what this means, how can you honestly think that something could simply come into being from nothing? In a different context, Philosopher Peter Slezak has said “only academia could be so silly”. Only an academic could hold to such an absurd position. In one of his many debates, William Lane Craig, the greatest defender of the KCA today, once remarked, “no one takes seriously the idea that a horse may have just popped into being in your living while you are listening to this lecture and is now defiling your carpet!” Furthermore, if things really could come into being uncaused and out of nothing, it is inexplicable why anything and everything does not come into being from nothing. Why does “nothingness” only produce universes? After all, it’s not like nothingness has any properties or restrictions that limit it to universes. Even if we cannot be certain of P1, we must at least say that it is more plausible than not. Justification for P2:I think premise two is strongly supported by modern cosmology. Although atheists have typically responded to this argument by defending the possibility of a past-eternal universe, this views runs right in the face of mainstream cosmogony.Justification for P4:Since the space-time universe includes the sum of all space and time, the cause of the universe must be timeless and spaceless. Since this being is timeless and spaceless, it must not be a material being (for material beings exist in space and function in time). Lest we run into the problems of an infinite regress, the cause of the universe must itself be uncaused and hence eternal. Because this being is uncaused, it must have been able to produce its effect without prior determining conditions. A being which is immaterial and able to act without prior determining conditions just is what philosophers mean by a personal agent endowed with libertarian free will. Finally, the cause of the universe must be quite powerful because it brought all of matter, time, and space into being.    In the words of Dr. William Lane Craig, “…we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator” (Craig 2002). The Teleological Argument from the fine-tuningThe teleological argument has been coming up in discussions among philosophers again in recent decades. Traditionally the argument from design has been thought to have been refuted by people like David Hume and the Charles Darwin. However, with new discoveries in astrophysics, the argument has come back on the scene.Today I will be defending a Bayesian model of this argument, most notably defended in this way by philosopher Robin Collins.   I will use the likelihood principle as the basis for this argument which can be justified via the odds form of Bayes theorem.   Since my opponent is likely to understand what the “fine-tuning” I am proposing is, I will not go into great lengths to explain it here. Examples of such fine-tuning come from the constants of the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe such that if they were to be altered by an infinitesimal amount, biological life (in a broad sense) could not have come into being. Collins explains just one of the fine-tuned parameters in the initial conditions as follows:“If the initial explosion of the big bang had differed in strength by as one part in 1 in 10 to the power of 60, the universe would have either quickly collapsed back on itself, or expanded to rapidly for stars to form. In either case, life would be impossible” (Collins 2009).We can formulate the fine-tuning argument as follows:T=TheismNSU=naturalistic single universe hypothesis       (1) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is very, very epistemically unlikely under NSU: that is, P(LPU|NSU & k&acuteEye-wink << 1, where k´ represents some appropriately chosen background information, and << represents much, much less than (thus making P(LPU|NSU & k&acuteEye-wink close to zero).(2) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is not unlikely under theism: that is, ~P(LPU|T & k&acuteEye-wink << 1.(3) The theistic hypothesis was advocated prior to the fine-tuning evidence (and has independent motivation).(C) Therefore, by the restricted version o f the likelihood principle, LPU strongly supports theism over NSU. Justification of P1This first premise, construed in terms of epistemic probability, seems clearly established my mainstream astrophysics and utilization of the principle of insufficient reason to the fine-tuned parameters. Justification for P2This premise should not be controversial. Given a cosmic designer of the universe who is both causally potent and willing to design a LPU, then the P(LPU/T) is approximately 1. Justification for P3This premise is clearly true as well.  There are plenty of reasons to think the theistic hypothesis is true independent of the fine-tuning (we have and will see other lines of evidence in this opening statement). There have been theists prior to the recent discoveries in astrophysics. The Weak anthropic principle:There are two very popular objections to this argument that I would like to clear out of the way. First, some have suggested that the “weak anthropic principle” eliminates the need to explain the fine-tuning. The argument is that if the universe were not fine-tuned, then there would not be any observers and so it is not surprising that we should observe a fine-tuned universe because if it were any different, then there would be nobody to observe it. The problem with this response is that it is an observation, not an explanation. John Leslie of Oxford gave a clever thought experiment where he exposed the weak anthropic principle for its fallacious reasoning. Imagine that you are going to be executed by a fire squad of 50 trained marksmen. You hear the command to open fire, you hear the roar of the guns and to your surprise, all of the 50 trained marksmen have miss! What should you conclude in this case? If the marksmen had hit you, you would not be here to observe it. But should you rule out design because of this? Clearly not!  Here is a further illustration that exposes the weak anthropic principle. Philosopher Alexander Pruss has written:“If we're choosing between two evolutionary theories, both of them fitting the data, both equally simple, but one of them making it likely that observers would evolve and the other making it unlikely, we should choose the one that makes it likely” {1}Multiverse:As a general principle, we should not multiply our probabilistic resources without evidence for those resources. If my opponent would like to maintain that the multiverse explains away the fine-tuning, then he must be willing to argue for the multiverse, otherwise he would be unjustifiable multiplying his probabilistic resources. A second line of argument against the multiverse is that, everything being equal, we should prefer explanations for which we have independent evidence for or that are natural extrapolations from what we already know. Further, I don’t think a multiverse will really help the naturalist. Every worked out proposal for universe generator that would produce universes must too involve fine-tuning (Collins 2009). The generator itself is governed by a complex system of physical laws that too require fine-tuning. Dr. Craig said in one of his debates/dialogues, “the fine-tuning is like a lump in the carpet, if you suppress it at one point it just pops up somewhere else.” The Argument from ConsciousnessA relatively neglected but powerful argument for T is the argument from consciousness. Perhaps the best defenders of this argument are Richard Swinburne and J.P. Moreland. The argument can be formulated at follows:(1)    Mental events are genuine non-physical mental entities that exist.(2)    Specific mental event types are regularly correlated with specific physical event types.(3)    There is an explanation for these correlations.(4)    Personal explanation is different from natural scientific explanation.(5)    The explanation for these correlations is either a personal or natural scientific explanation.(6)    The explanation is not a natural scientific one.(7)    Therefore, the explanation is a personal one.(8)    If the explanation is personal, then it is theistic.(C)    Therefore, the explanation is theisticGeneral Comments:This argument, though in deductive form, seeks to find the best known explanation of nonphysical mental states. Thus, the list of explanatory options is not meant to be logically exhaustive. This argument has been thought of as a move from dualism to theism. If you accept P1, then this argument really takes off. So, most of my defense of this argument will be for P1. Justification for P1:I’m convinced that there are at least two lines of evidence supporting premise one of the above argument. First, the modal argument provides prima facie evidence for P1 and evidential near death experiences provide corroborating evidence for P1. We can formulate the modal argument as follows:(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers {1}. Although some would object to P1, I don’t think there is much of an issue here. We can easily imagine waking up one morning in the body of another person or in an animal. Meanwhile, we can imagine that our current body is destroyed. These types of thought experiments are at least imaginable. I also take it that imaginability implies conceivability, though not necessarily vice-versa. The controversial jump in this argument is from P2 to P3. Although conceivability does not necessarily entail logical possibility, the former does give prima facie reason to think that the latter is true. Unless one is to take a position of modal skepticism, conceivability is our only guide to logical possibility. Secondly, I think evidential near death experiences provide evidence for the immateriality of human persons. I would like to define NDE’s in the sense that I will use in this debate. First off, by “near death” I am referring to the medical term which means the “state in which you can be expected to die if there is not any immediate intervention”. Further, I would like to distinguish between two different categories of NDE‘s: Evidential and non-evidential NDE’s. By “evidential NDE’s”, I’m referring to a specific category of documented accounts where some feature of the experience can be empirically verified. E.g., if someone in a near death state sees a shoe on top of the roof and there is no way prior to that experience that she could have known about the shoe, that is an evidential NDE. On the other hand, most NDE’s fall into the non-evidential category. These are experiences that cannot be empirically verified. This distinction is crucial when we look at the common counter-arguments to the argument from NDE’s.There are hundreds of evidential NDE accounts. In order to see just what kind of an account that I’m talking about, let me give an example. There was a story published in two different medical journals about a little girl from Idaho, named Katie. One of the journals was Pediatrics. Anyhow, the little girl was underwater for 19 minutes. The girl was taken out of the water and was immediately cared for in the hospital. Her doctor was named Melvin Morse. He was a pediatrician and a brain specialist. There was no brainwave activity in Katie and she was profoundly comatose. After working on her for a long time, there was nothing else they could do for her and she was hooked up to machines. Her pupils were fixed and dilated which probably meant she was brain dead. Three days later, Katie spontaneously came to. I say spontaneously because the doctors weren’t doing anything special to keep her alive. Dr. Melvin Morse, while recounting the story, said, “You cannot imagine my interest when I saw the little girl look up at me and say to me that I was that kind doctor who resuscitated her!”Katie described the appearance of the emergency room and the appearance of tools that the doctors used to work on her. She also described how she had been taken back to her house by an angel named Elizabeth. Katie recounted her experience by telling the doctors what her family was doing-what her mom was cooking, the music that was playing that night, what her siblings were doing, and conversations her parents had!Although Katie was lying down, brain dead and hooked up to machines, she was right about details that she could not have known about. Better yet, the account was written right after Katie came to by independent witnesses and the account was published in two peer reviewed medical journals. It is cases like these that I call evidential cases. {2}How do we best explain these accounts?The first major attempt to explain away NDE’s is by psychology and neurology. Air fighter pilots often have NDE’s during intense flight simulation training. Also, some studies have concluded that NDE’s are produced when certain chemicals are displaced in the brain. Aren’t these arguments devastating for someone who thinks NDE’s are evidence for an afterlife? Not at all. The first counter argument is terribly weak. Simply because a false experience can be generated by stimulation should not make us doubt the rest of our beliefs produced by that cognitive faculty. For example, scientists can stimulate false beliefs about the physical world. If I were to take a hallucinogenic, it would produce in me false experiences of the physical world. Just because false beliefs can be produced by a scientists stimulation that should never make us doubt the beliefs produced by that faculty. If this counter argument were sound, we would have to be skeptical of all our beliefs about the physical world. Perhaps I’m not giving the above counter argument justice. Perhaps it isn’t so much that these experiences can be falsely simulated, it is the fact that they have a chemical correlation. I have several responses to this kind of argument. First of all, all of our experiences have physical correlations. I see physical objects because certain areas of my brain are stimulated. Should the physical cause of my sense perception make me doubt my sense perception-God forbid! Most importantly however, mere chemical imbalances don’t explain evidential NDE’s. How do private hallucinations cause someone to see things far outside of their body? Chemical imbalances are explanatorily impotent when trying to explain evidential NDE’s.The second major attempt to explain away NDE’s is by pointing out that NDE’s often reflect cultural and prior religious commitments of the individual. People who have NDE’s have experiences that often mirror their prior held religious convictions and societal upbringings. Although this may have some explanatory power in the case of how people interpret NDE’s, this explanation is still utterly impotent to explain evidential NDE’s. This counter-argument is successful only in proving that we cannot, on the basis of these experiences alone, construct what kind of worldview is true. Nonetheless, evidential NDE’s still disprove the odd man out-those who are pure physicalists about human persons. Before ending my discussion of P1 of this argument, I would like to point out that NDE’s provide an additional linking chain of argument in support of the modal argument. Śaṃkara, an Indian philosopher, argued:“If a thing outside awareness is as impossible as a barren woman’s son how can we even feel as if something is outside? Nothing even appears to be like an impossibility”Basically, “Samkara’s principle”, as Alexander Pruss has called it, is that if we can have an experience that seems like it is veridical, then it is at least possible that it is veridical. It is impossible to have an experience of something logically impossible, even if that experience is only an illusion. Impossibilities cannot even seem to be true; it can never seem as if a square circle exists. The fact that NDE’s can at least seem to be veridical to someone gives further prima facie evidence that shows it is possible for us to exist outside of our bodies. Ergo, the jump from P2 of the modal argument is sound. Thus, the rest of the modal argument follows uncontroversially and dualism is true.  Justification for P2I take this premise to be supported by the principle of sufficient reason. Unless my opponent wants to say that minds exist are correlated to brains by the necessity of their own nature, the principle of sufficient reason demands that these correlations have an explanation. I am going to quote at large from philosopher Alexander Pruss where he gives an argument for the principle of sufficient reason:“Start with the observation that once we admit that some contingent states of affairs have no explanations, a completely new sceptical scenario becomes possible: No demon is deceiving you, but your perceptual states are occurring for no reason at all, with no prior causes.Moreover, objective probabilities are tied to laws of nature or objective tendencies, and so if an objective probability attaches to some contingent fact, then that situation can be given an explanation in terms of laws of nature or objective tendencies. Hence, if the PSR is false of some contingent fact, no objective probability attaches to the fact.Thus we cannot even say that violations of the PSR are improbable if the PSR is false. Consequently, someone who does not affirm the PSR cannot say that the sceptical scenario is objectively improbable. It may be taken to follow from this that if the PSR were false or maybe even not known a priori, we wouldn’t know any empirical truths.  But we do know empirical truths. Hence, the PSR is true and maybe even known a priori” (Pruss 2009).Justification for P6If P1 is true, mental states are genuinely nonphysical entities. Mind, being nonphysical, is categorically unique from matter. If we start the universe with the Big Bang and the history of the universe is the history of the laws of chemistry and the rearrangement of matter according to the laws of physics, how do you get nonphysical mind and its correlations with matter? Since you must start the universe with mind being a fundamental property of the universe, the explanation for consciousness and its correlations cannot be a naturalistic one. Minimally, a personal explanation is more plausible than a natural scientific. Justification for P8 This still leaves two worldviews on the table: panpsychism and theism. However, I contend that panpsychism is incoherent. It doesn’t even make sense to say that thoughts exist outside of a unified subject. Secondly, every single case we have of consciousness is that consciousness belongs to a unified self. Therefore, I think a personal explanation with a unified self better explains the existence of consciousness.  Argument from MiraclesI will argue that certain facts surrounding the historical Jesus’ death and the early proceeding aftermath confirm the hypothesis that God rose Jesus rose from the dead (R).  I take it to be common sense that if naturalism is true, then the probability of Jesus’ resurrection is approximately zero. On the other hand, if the resurrection occurred, then the probability of T is approximately 1. By the very nature of the case, the stronger the confirmatory evidence for R, the higher the probability of T. I will not need to argue that R is more probable than not (though I will argue that the evidence is sufficient to infer R) for this to add to the case for T. Further, I do not need to argue that the confirmatory evidence for R makes T>.5 in order for this argument to add to my case for T. Nevertheless, I think the evidence allows for an inference to the resurrection and so provides very good evidence for T.I will be making use of the following propositions concerning the historical Jesus and the early church: The discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb, the appearances to the disciple’s (D), and the appearance to Paul (P). Taken cumulatively, I think these facts give us very powerful confirmatory evidence for R over ~R. Before I very briefly defend the historicity of each of these propositions, I would like to point out that I think that the Gospels (minimally the synoptics) are generally reliable. By “general reliability”, I mean that we ought to trust the Gospels in matters of history even when we do not have independent evidence for their reliability in respect to a specific event they record. Nevertheless, the core of the facts pertaining to the resurrection need not be defended by general reliability because they stand up to scrutiny on their own. In any case, Dr. William Lane Craig gives several reasons to think that the Gospels are generally reliable. He lists the following pieces of evidence:“1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The interval of time between the events themselves and recording of them in the gospels is too short to have allowed the memory of what had or had not actually happened to be erased.2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends." Tales like those of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill or contemporary urban legends like the "vanishing hitchhiker" rarely concern actual historical individuals and are thus not analogous to the gospel narratives.3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. In an oral culture like that of first century Palestine the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age children in the home, elementary school, and the synagogue were taught to memorize faithfully sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.” {4}Although I think the Gospels are generally reliable, I think the core of these facts can be supported without appeal to general reliability of the Gospels utilizing what Biblical critics call the “criteria of authenticity”. The criteria of authenticity are used by New Testament historians to see what we can know about the historical Jesus. {5} The criteria of authenticity includes things like the criterion of independent attestation (events reported in independent sources are more likely to be historical) and the criterion of embarrassment (events that were embarrassing for the early church are less likely to be invented and so add to the probability of the event). Using these criteria, we can see how the facts I mentioned can be substantiated. I cannot go into detail about all of the supporting lines of argument for those facts, but let me briefly outline some of the supporting lines of evidence. First, the empty tomb. The empty tomb is part of Mark’s passion narrative and so dates back earlier than Mark’s Gospel and is probably based on eye-witness testimony. Further, the discovery of the empty tomb is multiply attested by independent traditions found in Mark and by John. Moreover, the narrative in Mark meets the criteria of embarrassment because it was discovered empty by women, which were considered to be unreliable witnesses during that time period. Our record suggests that the disciples didn’t even believe the woman when they were first told. In fact, we see that the women are not even mentioned in the Apostle’s creed when it lists the witnesses to the resurrection.   Next, the earliest Jewish response recorded in Matthew and later repeated in the Talmud is that the disciples came and stole away Jesus body. However, the claim that the disciple’s stole away Jesus’ body implicitly provides attestation that the tomb was in fact found empty. Another piece of evidence comes from what has come to be known as the “Jerusalem factor”. It’s hard to see how a movement based on the bodily resurrection of a man could be proclaimed while the location Jesus’ dead body was public knowledge, known by the Christians and the Jews. For these reasons and many others, I think we ought to treat the empty tomb story reported in the Gospels as reliable history. Second, the appearance to the disciple’s. Along with accepting the general reliability of the Gospels, there are good independent reasons to accept the core of their testimony. The story is multiply attested by a wide variety of sources. First, the very early apostle’s creed cited by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 includes the appearances to the disciples and peter. It is also multiply attested by independent traditions found in John, Luke, and Mark. The appearance narratives are found in so many sources with independent traditions that barely any NT scholars dispute the authenticity of the appearances to the disciples. Further, how do you explain the earliest belief in the resurrection without the resurrection appearances? By being crucified, Jesus was shown to be a blasphemer, under the curse of the God of Israel in Jewish thinking. Jewish messianic expectations had not been met and Jesus had been killed right before the disciple’s eyes. So, how do you explain how these scared men became bold proclaimers of the resurrection despite every predisposition to the contrary? Even through intense persecution and learning that their fellow brethren were suffering miserable deaths, the disciple’s continued proclaiming the resurrection. So, how do you explain the earliest belief in the resurrection without alluding to the appearances themselves? I don’t think there are plausible ways to do so. This point is quite strong in the case of Jesus’ brother, James. Our record suggests that James was a skeptic of Jesus during his lifetime, yet we learn that James became a leader in the early church and was eventually martyred. The best explanation of these facts is the one we find attested to in the NT, “then he appeared to James” (1 Cor. 15:7). I don’t have time to discuss the appearance to Paul in detail nor all (or close to all) of the proposed naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection. Let me discuss one naturalistic explanation for these facts for now, hallucinations (H). Before going into the problems with hallucination theory, we must take note that this is only trying to explain the appearance to the disciple’s and Paul-it does not account for the empty tomb. In order to account for the empty tomb an independent explanation must be attached. Of course, if R expresses a true proposition, these facts are easily accounted for. So, P(P&D/R) is approximately 1. If we are going to look at the P(P&D/H) we have to multiply the probability of hallucinations with respect to all of the disciples. So, we aren’t really just talking about the probability of one person hallucinating. We are talking about the probability of a hallucination x hallucination x hallucination x hallucination etc. Further, if we take the Gospels seriously in what they report (as I’ve argued we should), then we would need the hallucinations to all happen simultaneously and be seamlessly integrated. Further, the hallucinations must have been able to come up spontaneously and by appointment in group and individual settings. The hallucinations would also have had to suddenly stop for everyone at once and never occur again. Finally, we have to take into account the appearance to Paul.   Paul was an avid persecutor of the early church. It’s very hard to find parallel examples in history of a fervent persecutor of a religion converting to that religion on the basis of an appearance by the respective deity of that religion. Besides not being in a proper psychological state to hallucinate, Paul had a very peculiar auditory experience followed by temporary blindness. I think must take the account of this in Acts seriously because of the reasons for the reliability of the Gospels also confirm the reliability of Acts. Some of those reasons are especially true in Luke’s case. Moreover, in all probability, the traditional authorship of Luke is true (this is controversial however there is not enough time to develop an argument for its veracity) which means Luke had personal contact with Paul. This is part of Paul’s testimony of which he was persecuted and eventually killed for. When we take all of these factors together-the facts that the improbability of all the disciples hallucinating must be multiplied by each other, the appearances had to have occurred simultaneously, be seamlessly integrated, happened by appointment, by surprise, happen in peculiar circumstances it did to an enemy of the early church, and suddenly cease all in the context of an empty tomb-hallucinations are enormously improbable. We cannot forget that we must literally multiply each of these improbabilities by each other and anyone who knows anything about mathematics will tell you that large numbers become very large quickly through multiplication. Therefore, D & P, by the likelihood principle, provide incredibly strong confirmatory evidence for R over H and therefore confirmatory evidence for T. I think this sort of amazing improbability plagues all of the proposed naturalistic explanations. However, I’ll just wait and see what my opponent thinks explains the data better than the resurrection.Problem of Miracles Most people’s problem with accepting the resurrection is accepting that the laws of nature were violated. Before addressing the concerns that are raised here, I don’t think we should operate with such emotionally charged definitions. The definition given by Timothy and Lydia Mcgrew in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology is sufficient. They have written:“…a miracle is a specific event that would not have happened if only the natural order had been operating, where the natural order is understood to involve physical entities, their interactions, and the actions and interactions of animals, humans, and beings with powers much like ours. There is some vagueness in this definition, particularly with respect to what “powers much like ours” might amount to; but it has the merit of avoiding semantic questions about what constitutes a physical law and whether a physical law cannot, by definition, be violated.” Before going on, we must alleviate some false preconceptions about the resurrection hypothesis. It is not being argued that all the cells in Jesus’ body spontaneously came back to life naturally. That is highly improbable and should not be in the pool of live explanatory options. Since we do have independent evidence for T and this evidence seems compelling in its own right, what is so improbable about believing that God raised Jesus from the dead that it overwhelms the powerful confirmatory evidence discussed above? If you think about it, the prior probability of a miracle cannot be less probable than the combination of two propositions: (1) God exists(2) God wishes to reveal himself to humanity in a way that cannot be mistaken for the work of another man or nature Given that there are other chains of evidence to think (1) is true, and the moral argument for God’s existence (which, due to limited space, could not be discussed) provides plausibility to (2) (because a moral being would want to interact with an evil and suffering world), why think the P(R/B) is so low that our confirmatory evidence cannot overcome it? This is not circular because I’m not actually arguing that God’s existence makes the inference to R justified. The point here is that, given the powerful force of our confirmatory evidence for R, the burden of proof is on my opponent to explain why he thinks P(R/B) cannot be overtaken by the confirmatory evidence. He must explain why (1) and (2) are sufficiently low as to make the prior probability of R insuperable to the evidence presented.   I am not incorrectly switching the burden of proof because strong confirmatory evidence does switch the burden of proof. Without knowing the prior probability that a dealer would cheat, if we have good confirmatory evidence that he is cheating (say he gives himself 5 royal flushes in a row), then the burden of proof is on the person who wishes to maintain that the dealer is not cheating.  Conclusion In summary then I think we’ve seen 4 good reasons to think that God exists. First, contemporary finding in the field of cosmology point to an absolute beginning of the universe and allows an inference to an immaterial personal agent as its cause. Secondly, recent astrophysical findings of the fine-tuning of the universe allows for an inference to intelligent design. Next, I presented an abductive argument for preferring theism over naturalism based on consciousness. I argued that the nonphysical nature of qualia shows that our worldview must begin with consciousness and theism is better than our competing personal explanations for consciousness. Finally, I presented a historical case for the resurrection of Jesus which provides very strong confirmatory evidence for the resurrection and hence for theism. Taken cumulatively, I think we can conclude that theism is the more sensible worldview than atheism.      1.       http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2010/12/simple-design-argument.html2.       http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/#ModArg3.       See Light and Death by Michael Sabom and Beyond Death by Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland for formal citation of these cases.4.       http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/rediscover2.html5.       http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/gp/gp1_authenticity_stein.pdf 

 


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 I'm just going to reply to your first line, I'm not familiar with any atheists 'experts' as atheism is not a discipline.  Some can defend the position better then others, but to refer to an atheist as an layman/expert is analogous with referring to rocks as vegetarian/carnivores.  I have read no further because the rest is a huge block of text, you need to break it down a little.

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I agree with Ktulu that you

I agree with Ktulu that you really need to break that 'wall of text' down. Did you just copy and paste it in from a word processor? I recommend you first paste it into a simple text editor first, format it if necessary there, then copy and paste from there into here.

At this stage, I have to comment on the KCA, which is the weakest argument for God, and really is not an argument for a God at all, merely for a "First Cause".

It presents no arguments about the nature of that first cause, and since Quantum Mechanics allows for events to occur at purely random times. ie with no effective cause, the KCA is void.

Mathematically, there is no need for a 'first cause', since even an infinite regress of cause/effect sequences can occur in finite time, as long as, on average, the duration of each cause is less than 100%, by a finite percent, of the duration of its 'effect'. Such a sequence will diminish toward an infinitesimal 'cause', which can easily translate in reality to the scale at which existence is purely probabilistic.

There is also no physical or logical requirement that what triggers or initiates any event need be in any way 'greater' that the event.

Also, William Lane Craig commits logical fallacies in just about every other sentence, so you will need to reference someone more credible, who doesn't substitute style for substance.

EDIT: Although, arguably, Craig is 'sophisticated", in the sense of using 'Sophistry' -

sophistry noun: the use of fallacious arguments, esp. with the intention of deceiving.

And even a God cannot serve as an ultimate explanation for the existence of 'something' since God is part of ultimate reality Himself, if He exists. And since we do not require anything like the Abrahamic God to account for the existence of our Big Bang Universe (see Stephen Hawking), God as an origin, even at a secondary level is, if not provably non-existent, unnecessary.

Certainly the omni-attributes do not logically follow from a "First Cause", even a sentient, powerful one - no infinite qualities required.

Not a good start.

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

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

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

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 I only did half of it

 I only did half of it since I'm running out of time.  It should suffice.  

sophistimacated (sic) theist wrote:

I expect my opponent, who is a strong atheist, to present arguments that God does not exist. Since he is claiming to know something about the world, he too shares the burden of proof. Only the negative atheist who merely lacks a belief in God does not shoulder the burden of proof.

 

 Time will not allow me to totally cash out each argument as much as I would like. Hopefully these arguments can be better explained and developed during the rebuttal period.

 

The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentPerhaps one of the most convincing arguments in favor of T comes out of modern cosmology. One of the most amazing discoveries of modern cosmology is that the universe is not eternal in the past, but began a finite time ago.There is currently no major model that escapes the beginning of the universe as predicted by the standard model (Craig and Sinclair 2009). Even models which include a multiverse must have begun to exist too. In his book Many Worlds in One, eminent cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin (and proponent of the multiverse) has written: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape; they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning” (Vilenkin 2006).

 

Unless we are willing to say that the universe simply sprung into existence, uncaused and out of nothing, we must say that something outside of the universe caused it to come into being. So we come to the Kalam Cosmological ArgumentSad1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.(2) The universe began to exist.(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence, the cause is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.(C) Therefore, the cause of the universe is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.

 

 Justification for P1:This premise is grounded in the intuitive first principle of metaphysics ex nihilo nihil fit: out of nothing, nothing comes. If you think about, it is very hard to deny the truth of this principle. After all, what is nothing? Nothingness has no properties whatsoever-not even the property of lacking properties. Nothingness is “what rocks dream about”. When you really come to grips with what this means, how can you honestly think that something could simply come into being from nothing? In a different context, Philosopher Peter Slezak has said “only academia could be so silly”. Only an academic could hold to such an absurd position. In one of his many debates, William Lane Craig, the greatest defender of the KCA today, once remarked, “no one takes seriously the idea that a horse may have just popped into being in your living while you are listening to this lecture and is now defiling your carpet!” 

 

Furthermore, if things really could come into being uncaused and out of nothing, it is inexplicable why anything and everything does not come into being from nothing. Why does “nothingness” only produce universes? After all, it’s not like nothingness has any properties or restrictions that limit it to universes. Even if we cannot be certain of P1, we must at least say that it is more plausible than not. Justification for P2:I think premise two is strongly supported by modern cosmology. Although atheists have typically responded to this argument by defending the possibility of a past-eternal universe, this views runs right in the face of mainstream cosmogony.Justification for P4:Since the space-time universe includes the sum of all space and time, the cause of the universe must be timeless and spaceless. Since this being is timeless and spaceless, it must not be a material being (for material beings exist in space and function in time). Lest we run into the problems of an infinite regress, the cause of the universe must itself be uncaused and hence eternal. Because this being is uncaused, it must have been able to produce its effect without prior determining conditions. A being which is immaterial and able to act without prior determining conditions just is what philosophers mean by a personal agent endowed with libertarian free will. Finally, the cause of the universe must be quite powerful because it brought all of matter, time, and space into being.

 

    In the words of Dr. William Lane Craig, “…we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator” (Craig 2002). The Teleological Argument from the fine-tuningThe teleological argument has been coming up in discussions among philosophers again in recent decades. Traditionally the argument from design has been thought to have been refuted by people like David Hume and the Charles Darwin. However, with new discoveries in astrophysics, the argument has come back on the scene.Today I will be defending a Bayesian model of this argument, most notably defended in this way by philosopher Robin Collins.   I will use the likelihood principle as the basis for this argument which can be justified via the odds form of Bayes theorem.   Since my opponent is likely to understand what the “fine-tuning” I am proposing is, I will not go into great lengths to explain it here.

 

 Examples of such fine-tuning come from the constants of the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe such that if they were to be altered by an infinitesimal amount, biological life (in a broad sense) could not have come into being.

 

 Collins explains just one of the fine-tuned parameters in the initial conditions as follows:“If the initial explosion of the big bang had differed in strength by as one part in 1 in 10 to the power of 60, the universe would have either quickly collapsed back on itself, or expanded to rapidly for stars to form. In either case, life would be impossible” (Collins 2009).We can formulate the fine-tuning argument as follows:T=TheismNSU=naturalistic single universe hypothesis      

 

(1) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is very, very epistemically unlikely under NSU: that is, P(LPU|NSU & k&acute << 1, where k´ represents some appropriately chosen background information, and << represents much, much less than (thus making P(LPU|NSU & k&acuteclose to zero).

(2) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is not unlikely under theism: that is, ~P(LPU|T & k&acute << 1.

(3) The theistic hypothesis was advocated prior to the fine-tuning evidence (and has independent motivation).

(C) Therefore, by the restricted version o f the likelihood principle, LPU strongly supports theism over NSU. Justification of P1This first premise, construed in terms of epistemic probability, seems clearly established my mainstream astrophysics and utilization of the principle of insufficient reason to the fine-tuned parameters. Justification for P2This premise should not be controversial. Given a cosmic designer of the universe who is both causally potent and willing to design a LPU, then the P(LPU/T) is approximately 1. 

 

Justification for P3This premise is clearly true as well.  There are plenty of reasons to think the theistic hypothesis is true independent of the fine-tuning (we have and will see other lines of evidence in this opening statement). There have been theists prior to the recent discoveries in astrophysics. The Weak anthropic principle:There are two very popular objections to this argument that I would like to clear out of the way. First, some have suggested that the “weak anthropic principle” eliminates the need to explain the fine-tuning. 

 

The argument is that if the universe were not fine-tuned, then there would not be any observers and so it is not surprising that we should observe a fine-tuned universe because if it were any different, then there would be nobody to observe it. The problem with this response is that it is an observation, not an explanation. John Leslie of Oxford gave a clever thought experiment where he exposed the weak anthropic principle for its fallacious reasoning. Imagine that you are going to be executed by a fire squad of 50 trained marksmen. You hear the command to open fire, you hear the roar of the guns and to your surprise, all of the 50 trained marksmen have miss! What should you conclude in this case? If the marksmen had hit you, you would not be here to observe it. But should you rule out design because of this? Clearly not! 

 

 Here is a further illustration that exposes the weak anthropic principle. Philosopher Alexander Pruss has written:“If we're choosing between two evolutionary theories, both of them fitting the data, both equally simple, but one of them making it likely that observers would evolve and the other making it unlikely, we should choose the one that makes it likely” {1}Multiverse:As a general principle, we should not multiply our probabilistic resources without evidence for those resources. If my opponent would like to maintain that the multiverse explains away the fine-tuning, then he must be willing to argue for the multiverse, otherwise he would be unjustifiable multiplying his probabilistic resources. 

 

A second line of argument against the multiverse is that, everything being equal, we should prefer explanations for which we have independent evidence for or that are natural extrapolations from what we already know. Further, I don’t think a multiverse will really help the naturalist. Every worked out proposal for universe generator that would produce universes must too involve fine-tuning (Collins 2009). The generator itself is governed by a complex system of physical laws that too require fine-tuning. Dr. Craig said in one of his debates/dialogues, “the fine-tuning is like a lump in the carpet, if you suppress it at one point it just pops up somewhere else.” The Argument from ConsciousnessA relatively neglected but powerful argument for T is the argument from consciousness. Perhaps the best defenders of this argument are Richard Swinburne and J.P. Moreland. The argument can be formulated at follows:

 

(1)    Mental events are genuine non-physical mental entities that exist.

(2)    Specific mental event types are regularly correlated with specific physical event types.

(3)    There is an explanation for these correlations.

(4)    Personal explanation is different from natural scientific explanation.

(5)    The explanation for these correlations is either a personal or natural scientific explanation.

(6)    The explanation is not a natural scientific one.

(7)    Therefore, the explanation is a personal one.

(Cool    If the explanation is personal, then it is theistic.

(C)    Therefore, the explanation is theisticGeneral Comments:This argument, though in deductive form, seeks to find the best known explanation of nonphysical mental states. Thus, the list of explanatory options is not meant to be logically exhaustive. This argument has been thought of as a move from dualism to theism. 

 

If you accept P1, then this argument really takes off. So, most of my defense of this argument will be for P1. Justification for P1:I’m convinced that there are at least two lines of evidence supporting premise one of the above argument. First, the modal argument provides prima facie evidence for P1 and evidential near death experiences provide corroborating evidence for P1. We can formulate the modal argument as follows:

 

(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers 

 

{1}. Although some would object to P1, I don’t think there is much of an issue here. We can easily imagine waking up one morning in the body of another person or in an animal. Meanwhile, we can imagine that our current body is destroyed. These types of thought experiments are at least imaginable. I also take it that imaginability implies conceivability, though not necessarily vice-versa. 

 

The controversial jump in this argument is from P2 to P3. Although conceivability does not necessarily entail logical possibility, the former does give prima facie reason to think that the latter is true. Unless one is to take a position of modal skepticism, conceivability is our only guide to logical possibility. Secondly, I think evidential near death experiences provide evidence for the immateriality of human persons. 

 

I would like to define NDE’s in the sense that I will use in this debate. First off, by “near death” I am referring to the medical term which means the “state in which you can be expected to die if there is not any immediate intervention”. Further, I would like to distinguish between two different categories of NDE‘s: Evidential and non-evidential NDE’s. By “evidential NDE’s”, I’m referring to a specific category of documented accounts where some feature of the experience can be empirically verified. E.g., if someone in a near death state sees a shoe on top of the roof and there is no way prior to that experience that she could have known about the shoe, that is an evidential NDE. On the other hand, most NDE’s fall into the non-evidential category. These are experiences that cannot be empirically verified. This distinction is crucial when we look at the common counter-arguments to the argument from NDE’s.

 

There are hundreds of evidential NDE accounts. In order to see just what kind of an account that I’m talking about, let me give an example. There was a story published in two different medical journals about a little girl from Idaho, named Katie. One of the journals was Pediatrics. Anyhow, the little girl was underwater for 19 minutes. The girl was taken out of the water and was immediately cared for in the hospital. Her doctor was named Melvin Morse. He was a pediatrician and a brain specialist. There was no brainwave activity in Katie and she was profoundly comatose. After working on her for a long time, there was nothing else they could do for her and she was hooked up to machines. Her pupils were fixed and dilated which probably meant she was brain dead. Three days later, Katie spontaneously came to. I say spontaneously because the doctors weren’t doing anything special to keep her alive. Dr. Melvin Morse, while recounting the story, said, “You cannot imagine my interest when I saw the little girl look up at me and say to me that I was that kind doctor who resuscitated her!”Katie described the appearance of the emergency room and the appearance of tools that the doctors used to work on her. She also described how she had been taken back to her house by an angel named Elizabeth. Katie recounted her experience by telling the doctors what her family was doing-what her mom was cooking, the music that was playing that night, what her siblings were doing, and conversations her parents had!Although Katie was lying down, brain dead and hooked up to machines, she was right about details that she could not have known about. Better yet, the account was written right after Katie came to by independent witnesses and the account was published in two peer reviewed medical journals. 

 

It is cases like these that I call evidential cases.

 

 {2}How do we best explain these accounts?The first major attempt to explain away NDE’s is by psychology and neurology. Air fighter pilots often have NDE’s during intense flight simulation training. Also, some studies have concluded that NDE’s are produced when certain chemicals are displaced in the brain. Aren’t these arguments devastating for someone who thinks NDE’s are evidence for an afterlife? Not at all. The first counter argument is terribly weak. Simply because a false experience can be generated by stimulation should not make us doubt the rest of our beliefs produced by that cognitive faculty. For example, scientists can stimulate false beliefs about the physical world. If I were to take a hallucinogenic, it would produce in me false experiences of the physical world. Just because false beliefs can be produced by a scientists stimulation that should never make us doubt the beliefs produced by that faculty. If this counter argument were sound, we would have to be skeptical of all our beliefs about the physical world. Perhaps I’m not giving the above counter argument justice. Perhaps it isn’t so much that these experiences can be falsely simulated, it is the fact that they have a chemical correlation. I have several responses to this kind of argument. First of all, all of our experiences have physical correlations. I see physical objects because certain areas of my brain are stimulated. Should the physical cause of my sense perception make me doubt my sense perception-God forbid! Most importantly however, mere chemical imbalances don’t explain evidential NDE’s. How do private hallucinations cause someone to see things far outside of their body? Chemical imbalances are explanatorily impotent when trying to explain evidential NDE’s.The second major attempt to explain away NDE’s is by pointing out that NDE’s often reflect cultural and prior religious commitments of the individual. People who have NDE’s have experiences that often mirror their prior held religious convictions and societal upbringings. Although this may have some explanatory power in the case of how people interpret NDE’s, this explanation is still utterly impotent to explain evidential NDE’s. This counter-argument is successful only in proving that we cannot, on the basis of these experiences alone, construct what kind of worldview is true. Nonetheless, evidential NDE’s still disprove the odd man out-those who are pure physicalists about human persons. Before ending my discussion of P1 of this argument, I would like to point out that NDE’s provide an additional linking chain of argument in support of the modal argument. Śaṃkara, an Indian philosopher, argued:“If a thing outside awareness is as impossible as a barren woman’s son how can we even feel as if something is outside? Nothing even appears to be like an impossibility”Basically, “Samkara’s principle”, as Alexander Pruss has called it, is that if we can have an experience that seems like it is veridical, then it is at least possible that it is veridical. It is impossible to have an experience of something logically impossible, even if that experience is only an illusion. Impossibilities cannot even seem to be true; it can never seem as if a square circle exists. The fact that NDE’s can at least seem to be veridical to someone gives further prima facie evidence that shows it is possible for us to exist outside of our bodies. Ergo, the jump from P2 of the modal argument is sound. Thus, the rest of the modal argument follows uncontroversially and dualism is true.  Justification for P2I take this premise to be supported by the principle of sufficient reason. Unless my opponent wants to say that minds exist are correlated to brains by the necessity of their own nature, the principle of sufficient reason demands that these correlations have an explanation. I am going to quote at large from philosopher Alexander Pruss where he gives an argument for the principle of sufficient reason:“Start with the observation that once we admit that some contingent states of affairs have no explanations, a completely new sceptical scenario becomes possible: No demon is deceiving you, but your perceptual states are occurring for no reason at all, with no prior causes.Moreover, objective probabilities are tied to laws of nature or objective tendencies, and so if an objective probability attaches to some contingent fact, then that situation can be given an explanation in terms of laws of nature or objective tendencies. Hence, if the PSR is false of some contingent fact, no objective probability attaches to the fact.Thus we cannot even say that violations of the PSR are improbable if the PSR is false. Consequently, someone who does not affirm the PSR cannot say that the sceptical scenario is objectively improbable. It may be taken to follow from this that if the PSR were false or maybe even not known a priori, we wouldn’t know any empirical truths.  But we do know empirical truths. Hence, the PSR is true and maybe even known a priori” (Pruss 2009).Justification for P6If P1 is true, mental states are genuinely nonphysical entities. Mind, being nonphysical, is categorically unique from matter. If we start the universe with the Big Bang and the history of the universe is the history of the laws of chemistry and the rearrangement of matter according to the laws of physics, how do you get nonphysical mind and its correlations with matter? Since you must start the universe with mind being a fundamental property of the universe, the explanation for consciousness and its correlations cannot be a naturalistic one. Minimally, a personal explanation is more plausible than a natural scientific. Justification for P8 This still leaves two worldviews on the table: panpsychism and theism. However, I contend that panpsychism is incoherent. It doesn’t even make sense to say that thoughts exist outside of a unified subject. Secondly, every single case we have of consciousness is that consciousness belongs to a unified self. Therefore, I think a personal explanation with a unified self better explains the existence of consciousness.  Argument from MiraclesI will argue that certain facts surrounding the historical Jesus’ death and the early proceeding aftermath confirm the hypothesis that God rose Jesus rose from the dead (R).  I take it to be common sense that if naturalism is true, then the probability of Jesus’ resurrection is approximately zero. On the other hand, if the resurrection occurred, then the probability of T is approximately 1. By the very nature of the case, the stronger the confirmatory evidence for R, the higher the probability of T. I will not need to argue that R is more probable than not (though I will argue that the evidence is sufficient to infer R) for this to add to the case for T. Further, I do not need to argue that the confirmatory evidence for R makes T>.5 in order for this argument to add to my case for T. Nevertheless, I think the evidence allows for an inference to the resurrection and so provides very good evidence for T.I will be making use of the following propositions concerning the historical Jesus and the early church: The discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb, the appearances to the disciple’s (D), and the appearance to Paul (P). Taken cumulatively, I think these facts give us very powerful confirmatory evidence for R over ~R. Before I very briefly defend the historicity of each of these propositions, I would like to point out that I think that the Gospels (minimally the synoptics) are generally reliable. By “general reliability”, I mean that we ought to trust the Gospels in matters of history even when we do not have independent evidence for their reliability in respect to a specific event they record. Nevertheless, the core of the facts pertaining to the resurrection need not be defended by general reliability because they stand up to scrutiny on their own. In any case, Dr. William Lane Craig gives several reasons to think that the Gospels are generally reliable. He lists the following pieces of evidence:“1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The interval of time between the events themselves and recording of them in the gospels is too short to have allowed the memory of what had or had not actually happened to be erased.2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends." Tales like those of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill or contemporary urban legends like the "vanishing hitchhiker" rarely concern actual historical individuals and are thus not analogous to the gospel narratives.3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. In an oral culture like that of first century Palestine the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age children in the home, elementary school, and the synagogue were taught to memorize faithfully sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.” {4}Although I think the Gospels are generally reliable, I think the core of these facts can be supported without appeal to general reliability of the Gospels utilizing what Biblical critics call the “criteria of authenticity”. The criteria of authenticity are used by New Testament historians to see what we can know about the historical Jesus. {5} The criteria of authenticity includes things like the criterion of independent attestation (events reported in independent sources are more likely to be historical) and the criterion of embarrassment (events that were embarrassing for the early church are less likely to be invented and so add to the probability of the event). Using these criteria, we can see how the facts I mentioned can be substantiated. I cannot go into detail about all of the supporting lines of argument for those facts, but let me briefly outline some of the supporting lines of evidence. First, the empty tomb. The empty tomb is part of Mark’s passion narrative and so dates back earlier than Mark’s Gospel and is probably based on eye-witness testimony. Further, the discovery of the empty tomb is multiply attested by independent traditions found in Mark and by John. Moreover, the narrative in Mark meets the criteria of embarrassment because it was discovered empty by women, which were considered to be unreliable witnesses during that time period. Our record suggests that the disciples didn’t even believe the woman when they were first told. In fact, we see that the women are not even mentioned in the Apostle’s creed when it lists the witnesses to the resurrection.   Next, the earliest Jewish response recorded in Matthew and later repeated in the Talmud is that the disciples came and stole away Jesus body. However, the claim that the disciple’s stole away Jesus’ body implicitly provides attestation that the tomb was in fact found empty. Another piece of evidence comes from what has come to be known as the “Jerusalem factor”. It’s hard to see how a movement based on the bodily resurrection of a man could be proclaimed while the location Jesus’ dead body was public knowledge, known by the Christians and the Jews. For these reasons and many others, I think we ought to treat the empty tomb story reported in the Gospels as reliable history. Second, the appearance to the disciple’s. Along with accepting the general reliability of the Gospels, there are good independent reasons to accept the core of their testimony. The story is multiply attested by a wide variety of sources. First, the very early apostle’s creed cited by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 includes the appearances to the disciples and peter. It is also multiply attested by independent traditions found in John, Luke, and Mark. The appearance narratives are found in so many sources with independent traditions that barely any NT scholars dispute the authenticity of the appearances to the disciples. Further, how do you explain the earliest belief in the resurrection without the resurrection appearances? By being crucified, Jesus was shown to be a blasphemer, under the curse of the God of Israel in Jewish thinking. Jewish messianic expectations had not been met and Jesus had been killed right before the disciple’s eyes. So, how do you explain how these scared men became bold proclaimers of the resurrection despite every predisposition to the contrary? Even through intense persecution and learning that their fellow brethren were suffering miserable deaths, the disciple’s continued proclaiming the resurrection. So, how do you explain the earliest belief in the resurrection without alluding to the appearances themselves? I don’t think there are plausible ways to do so. This point is quite strong in the case of Jesus’ brother, James. Our record suggests that James was a skeptic of Jesus during his lifetime, yet we learn that James became a leader in the early church and was eventually martyred. The best explanation of these facts is the one we find attested to in the NT, “then he appeared to James” (1 Cor. 15:7). I don’t have time to discuss the appearance to Paul in detail nor all (or close to all) of the proposed naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection. Let me discuss one naturalistic explanation for these facts for now, hallucinations (H). Before going into the problems with hallucination theory, we must take note that this is only trying to explain the appearance to the disciple’s and Paul-it does not account for the empty tomb. In order to account for the empty tomb an independent explanation must be attached. Of course, if R expresses a true proposition, these facts are easily accounted for. So, P(P&D/R) is approximately 1. If we are going to look at the P(P&D/H) we have to multiply the probability of hallucinations with respect to all of the disciples. So, we aren’t really just talking about the probability of one person hallucinating. We are talking about the probability of a hallucination x hallucination x hallucination x hallucination etc. Further, if we take the Gospels seriously in what they report (as I’ve argued we should), then we would need the hallucinations to all happen simultaneously and be seamlessly integrated. Further, the hallucinations must have been able to come up spontaneously and by appointment in group and individual settings. The hallucinations would also have had to suddenly stop for everyone at once and never occur again. Finally, we have to take into account the appearance to Paul.   Paul was an avid persecutor of the early church. It’s very hard to find parallel examples in history of a fervent persecutor of a religion converting to that religion on the basis of an appearance by the respective deity of that religion. Besides not being in a proper psychological state to hallucinate, Paul had a very peculiar auditory experience followed by temporary blindness. I think must take the account of this in Acts seriously because of the reasons for the reliability of the Gospels also confirm the reliability of Acts. Some of those reasons are especially true in Luke’s case. Moreover, in all probability, the traditional authorship of Luke is true (this is controversial however there is not enough time to develop an argument for its veracity) which means Luke had personal contact with Paul. This is part of Paul’s testimony of which he was persecuted and eventually killed for. When we take all of these factors together-the facts that the improbability of all the disciples hallucinating must be multiplied by each other, the appearances had to have occurred simultaneously, be seamlessly integrated, happened by appointment, by surprise, happen in peculiar circumstances it did to an enemy of the early church, and suddenly cease all in the context of an empty tomb-hallucinations are enormously improbable. We cannot forget that we must literally multiply each of these improbabilities by each other and anyone who knows anything about mathematics will tell you that large numbers become very large quickly through multiplication. Therefore, D & P, by the likelihood principle, provide incredibly strong confirmatory evidence for R over H and therefore confirmatory evidence for T. I think this sort of amazing improbability plagues all of the proposed naturalistic explanations. However, I’ll just wait and see what my opponent thinks explains the data better than the resurrection.Problem of Miracles Most people’s problem with accepting the resurrection is accepting that the laws of nature were violated. Before addressing the concerns that are raised here, I don’t think we should operate with such emotionally charged definitions. The definition given by Timothy and Lydia Mcgrew in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology is sufficient. They have written:“…a miracle is a specific event that would not have happened if only the natural order had been operating, where the natural order is understood to involve physical entities, their interactions, and the actions and interactions of animals, humans, and beings with powers much like ours. There is some vagueness in this definition, particularly with respect to what “powers much like ours” might amount to; but it has the merit of avoiding semantic questions about what constitutes a physical law and whether a physical law cannot, by definition, be violated.” Before going on, we must alleviate some false preconceptions about the resurrection hypothesis. It is not being argued that all the cells in Jesus’ body spontaneously came back to life naturally. That is highly improbable and should not be in the pool of live explanatory options. Since we do have independent evidence for T and this evidence seems compelling in its own right, what is so improbable about believing that God raised Jesus from the dead that it overwhelms the powerful confirmatory evidence discussed above? If you think about it, the prior probability of a miracle cannot be less probable than the combination of two propositions: (1) God exists(2) God wishes to reveal himself to humanity in a way that cannot be mistaken for the work of another man or nature Given that there are other chains of evidence to think (1) is true, and the moral argument for God’s existence (which, due to limited space, could not be discussed) provides plausibility to (2) (because a moral being would want to interact with an evil and suffering world), why think the P(R/B) is so low that our confirmatory evidence cannot overcome it? This is not circular because I’m not actually arguing that God’s existence makes the inference to R justified. The point here is that, given the powerful force of our confirmatory evidence for R, the burden of proof is on my opponent to explain why he thinks P(R/B) cannot be overtaken by the confirmatory evidence. He must explain why (1) and (2) are sufficiently low as to make the prior probability of R insuperable to the evidence presented.   I am not incorrectly switching the burden of proof because strong confirmatory evidence does switch the burden of proof. Without knowing the prior probability that a dealer would cheat, if we have good confirmatory evidence that he is cheating (say he gives himself 5 royal flushes in a row), then the burden of proof is on the person who wishes to maintain that the dealer is not cheating.  Conclusion In summary then I think we’ve seen 4 good reasons to think that God exists. First, contemporary finding in the field of cosmology point to an absolute beginning of the universe and allows an inference to an immaterial personal agent as its cause. Secondly, recent astrophysical findings of the fine-tuning of the universe allows for an inference to intelligent design. Next, I presented an abductive argument for preferring theism over naturalism based on consciousness. I argued that the nonphysical nature of qualia shows that our worldview must begin with consciousness and theism is better than our competing personal explanations for consciousness. Finally, I presented a historical case for the resurrection of Jesus which provides very strong confirmatory evidence for the resurrection and hence for theism. Taken cumulatively, I think we can conclude that theism is the more sensible worldview than atheism.      1.       http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2010/12/simple-design-argument.html2.       http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/#ModArg3.       See Light and Death by Michael Sabom and Beyond Death by Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland for formal citation of these cases.4.       http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/rediscover2.html5.       http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/gp/gp1_authenticity_stein.pdf 

 

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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 I suggest you polish up

 I suggest you polish up your conclusions and throw some salt on those slippery slope arguments.  Any atheist worth his/her salt would eat you up and spit you out.  That whole rhetoric diarrhea amounts to as much logical consistency as any other creationist argument.  The only thing going for you is the sheer length of your argument.  I trust that everyone on here will dissect your fallacies and point them out.  I'll get back to it myself when I have a bit more time.

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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BobSpence1 wrote:I agree

BobSpence1 wrote:

I agree with Ktulu that you really need to break that 'wall of text' down. Did you just copy and paste it in from a word processor? I recommend you first paste it into a simple text editor first, format it if necessary there, then copy and paste from there into here.

At this stage, I have to comment on the KCA, which is the weakest argument for God, and really is not an argument for a God at all, merely for a "First Cause".

It presents no arguments about the nature of that first cause, and since Quantum Mechanics allows for events to occur at purely random times. ie with no effective cause, the KCA is void.

Mathematically, there is no need for a 'first cause', since even an infinite regress of cause/effect sequences can occur in finite time, as long as, on average, the duration of each cause is less than 100%, by a finite percent, of the duration of its 'effect'. Such a sequence will diminish toward an infinitesimal 'cause', which can easily translate in reality to the scale at which existence is purely probabilistic.

There is also no physical or logical requirement that what triggers or initiates any event need be in any way 'greater' that the event.

Also, William Lane Craig commits logical fallacies in just about every other sentence, so you will need to reference someone more credible, who doesn't substitute style for substance.

EDIT: Although, arguably, Craig is 'sophisticated", in the sense of using 'Sophistry' -

sophistry noun: the use of fallacious arguments, esp. with the intention of deceiving.

And even a God cannot serve as an ultimate explanation for the existence of 'something' since God is part of ultimate reality Himself, if He exists. And since we do not require anything like the Abrahamic God to account for the existence of our Big Bang Universe (see Stephen Hawking), God as an origin, even at a secondary level is, if not provably non-existent, unnecessary.

Certainly the omni-attributes do not logically follow from a "First Cause", even a sentient, powerful one - no infinite qualities required.

Not a good start.

Dr. Craig is sophisticated in the sense that he has two Ph.d's from prestigious European universities, publishes in respected peer-reviewed philosophy journals, and is taken serious by professional philosophers of religion (people like Quentin Smith, Michael Tooley, et al).

By "sophisticated atheists", I mean atheists with academic degrees, knowledge of predicate logic, etc. Anyway, the Kalam takes us beyond the existence of a mere "first cause". As I argued, the cause must be immaterial because it caused the existence of the spacio-temporal universe. Such a being must also be an eternal cause because it existed timelessly sans the universe and an infinite series of simultaneous causes is impossible.

I argued that this being must be a personal being because it is both immaterial and must have been able to act from a prior state of timelessness. This requires that the cause of the universe to act without prior determining conditions. So whatever caused the universe is immaterial and can act without prior determining conditions, i.e., it is a personal being. So, the cosmological argument brings us to an immaterial, personal, enormously powerful, eternal creator of the universe.

There is no interpretation of quantum mechanics which says that things can come into being from nothing. Particles that come into being from the quantum vacuum still have a cause. There are some interpretations of QM which make quantum events indeterminate.  However, whether or not all events have causes is irrelevant to the KCA because we are concerned whether or not all beings have causes. 

The KCA does not aim to show that God is the best explanation for being itself, that is more in the camp of the Leibnizian cosmological argument.  In any case, your objection against the other form of the cosmological argument, the LCA, is not sound because you are merely playing a semantics game.  By saying God best explains "being", Leibniz' was saying God best explains why there is something rather than nothing. 

Finally, this is a cumulative case so no single argument alone is meant to establish that the abrahamic God exists. Rather, all of the argument collectively do that. I think proving the existence of an immaterial, personal, enormously powerful, eternal creator of the universe is arguable a good starter in the case for T. Finally, I do not concede that none of the omni-attributes follow. Some have argued that the gap between being and nonbeing is a gap of infinite proportion so it takes a being of infinite power to bridge this gap and produce a material universe without a material cause.


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The writers of the bible

The writers of the bible stated that for one to truly believe in the Abrahamic God, one must become like a little child in their thinking. So why do think a "sophisticated" argument would convince anyone? If you want to win anyone over, maybe just tell them to think like a child that just trusts authority figure because they are dependent upon them.

P.S. God gave us the line feed. Learn to use it.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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An infinite series of causes

An infinite series of causes in a timeless context is not impossible - in a timeless context, the use of the word 'simultaneous' is not valid, neither is 'prior'.

All actual observed beings have proximate causes, and we have solid reason to believe that they can arise from ultimately non-sentient matter, therefore sentient beings can ultimately come from whatever inanimate matter can come from.

In the quantum context, pairs of particles which are truly complementary, ie they can recombine into nothing, as in:

0 => (1 + -1) => 0.

It is currently argued that the net energy/mass content of our Big Bang Universe is zero, when the negative sign of gravitational potential energy is take in to account, so, in a grander version of the equation above, the Big Bang can have come from zero energy.

'God' DOES NOT explain why there is something rather than nothing, since it requires God to create himself from a state of nothing, ie where he doesn't exist. So God must always have existed. Which would imply that non-basic things CAN come from nothing, thereby violating your assumption. The only plausible resolution is that reality simply exists, as the only alternative to true 'nothing'.

As to why 'there is something rather than nothing', we, and you, do not know. But as soon as you assume God, you are no longer dealing with 'nothing'. We might as well take the simpler approach that some abstract relationships and constraints, which our 'Laws of Physics' are a particular reflection of, is what constitutes the 'reason' why there is something. But even those abstractions are arguably 'something', but that is the level you should be arguing, not with the giant pre-supposition of 'God', if you are honestly after true insight and knowledge.

Basic, ultimate, all-encompassing 'existence' must simply exist - it cannot be 'created' by something, because that would mean something outside existence, which means we cannot be describing all-encompassing existence. So God as ultimate 'cause' is a logical non-sequiter.

To repeat, unless you are going to assert that God can create himself from a state where he does not already exist, you cannot logically make a case for him as all-creator.

Leaving aside the basic problem of ultimate creation:

All that is required for a non-Theistic explanation for the existence of specific elements or entities of any form is a minimal quantum energy field, as close to 'nothing' as is possible. That takes care of 'first movers' since energy is essentially 'movement'. Effective randomness is guaranteed by a vast number of interacting fundamental 'particles', even if such interaction is strictly deterministic. This can in principle account for special 'events', such as Big Bang 'singularities' occurring at finite rates distributed over space-time. This can also be viewed in a timeless context from a higher-dimensional viewpoint, as a 'random' distribution of properties across an n-dimensional volume.

You have not made an 'argument' why the 'cause' must be personal, just assertions. There really is not a transition from a timeless situation to what we perceive, it is just different perspectives on reality. In a timeless perspective, cause-effect still exists, more as a geometric constraints - IOW, the existence of certain elements in certain relationships requires that something else must exist in a certain state.

Regarding Craig, I have heard and read more than enough of his 'arguments' to maintain my comments, regardless of his official qualifications. There were clear examples of the most classic logical fallacies in his material.

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

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

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

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


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Answering more objections...

First of all, even if my approach is unbiblical with respect to converting people, it doesn't follow that my arguments are unsound.  

 

More importantly, you are confusing a childlike faith with a childish faith.   A childlike faith, the faith of the bible, is the willingness to put your trust into something you believe is true.  This is wholly compatible with believing in Christian belief on the basis of argument and evidence.  Indeed, the apostle Paul and others in the church did not believe on the basis of blind faith, but on the basis of evidence (e.g., Paul thought Jesus appeared to him). 

 

Nevertheless, if Christian belief is true, then God has made a way to know of him besides argument and evidence-through the immidiate witness of the Holy Spirit.  So, unless you are willing to show me where my arguments have erred, then you have not shown that belief in God without evidence is irrational either.  In another forum I gave a lengthy discussion about whether or not evidence is required to rationally affirm the existence of God.  Check it out: http://thealitybites.com/ThealityBites_Redux/Forum.html


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The apparent manifestation

The apparent manifestation of the 'Holy Spirit' is a mental experience which can be confabulated by the brain/mind. If you follow the science of consciousness, neuroscience, and related fields, you would know that relying on personal internal experience/testimony as an accurate description of anything is folly.

Unless you provide independent empirical evidence that what you experience as a truly transcendental contact with an immaterial being is not, and cannot be, merely a manifestation of neurological processes, or imagination, hallucination, whatever, you have no basis for your claim.

EDIT:

I'm sorry, a series of naked assertions, non-sequiters, logical fallacies, starting with the nonsensical idea of a creator god responsible for their being something rather than nothing, then trying to justify mental experiences within a very finite and fallible brain as an independent source of knowledge of external reality, bypassing the empirical, is the opposite of 'sophisticated'.

You have nothing but a lame attempt at re-packaging the same ol' same ol'.

God as ultimate creator is a logical fallacy.

As a creator of our part of reality He is an unnecessary complication.

As a source or standard of morality he is a total fail.

Sophisticated Theist is almost an oxymoron, except in the sense of 'sophistry' - elaborate argument, consciously, or even sub-consciously, designed to obfuscate the truth.

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

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

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

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


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The Rest of the Mess with formatting

I did the other half of this wall of impossible to read text that the OP,Quaestio posted.

OP, Learn how to use paragraphs and line feeds. If you posted this from Word you lost all of your formatting. You can use Preview Comment to see what your wall of text will look like when it is posted. The mess you posted was so bad no one will likely take the time to read through it.

You can thank Ktulu and me for redoing the formatting.

If I have time later I'll come back and respond to some of your ideas and assertions.

 

sophistimacated (sic) theist wrote:

 

I expect my opponent, who is a strong atheist, to present arguments that God does not exist. Since he is claiming to know something about the world, he too shares the burden of proof. Only the negative atheist who merely lacks a belief in God does not shoulder the burden of proof.

 

 Time will not allow me to totally cash out each argument as much as I would like. Hopefully these arguments can be better explained and developed during the rebuttal period.

 

The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentPerhaps one of the most convincing arguments in favor of T comes out of modern cosmology. One of the most amazing discoveries of modern cosmology is that the universe is not eternal in the past, but began a finite time ago.There is currently no major model that escapes the beginning of the universe as predicted by the standard model (Craig and Sinclair 2009). Even models which include a multiverse must have begun to exist too. In his book Many Worlds in One, eminent cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin (and proponent of the multiverse) has written: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape; they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning” (Vilenkin 2006).

 

Unless we are willing to say that the universe simply sprung into existence, uncaused and out of nothing, we must say that something outside of the universe caused it to come into being. So we come to the Kalam Cosmological ArgumentSad1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.(2) The universe began to exist.(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence, the cause is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.(C) Therefore, the cause of the universe is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.

 

 Justification for P1:This premise is grounded in the intuitive first principle of metaphysics ex nihilo nihil fit: out of nothing, nothing comes. If you think about, it is very hard to deny the truth of this principle. After all, what is nothing? Nothingness has no properties whatsoever-not even the property of lacking properties. Nothingness is “what rocks dream about”. When you really come to grips with what this means, how can you honestly think that something could simply come into being from nothing? In a different context, Philosopher Peter Slezak has said “only academia could be so silly”. Only an academic could hold to such an absurd position. In one of his many debates, William Lane Craig, the greatest defender of the KCA today, once remarked, “no one takes seriously the idea that a horse may have just popped into being in your living while you are listening to this lecture and is now defiling your carpet!” 

 

Furthermore, if things really could come into being uncaused and out of nothing, it is inexplicable why anything and everything does not come into being from nothing. Why does “nothingness” only produce universes? After all, it’s not like nothingness has any properties or restrictions that limit it to universes. Even if we cannot be certain of P1, we must at least say that it is more plausible than not. Justification for P2:I think premise two is strongly supported by modern cosmology. Although atheists have typically responded to this argument by defending the possibility of a past-eternal universe, this views runs right in the face of mainstream cosmogony.Justification for P4:Since the space-time universe includes the sum of all space and time, the cause of the universe must be timeless and spaceless. Since this being is timeless and spaceless, it must not be a material being (for material beings exist in space and function in time). Lest we run into the problems of an infinite regress, the cause of the universe must itself be uncaused and hence eternal. Because this being is uncaused, it must have been able to produce its effect without prior determining conditions. A being which is immaterial and able to act without prior determining conditions just is what philosophers mean by a personal agent endowed with libertarian free will. Finally, the cause of the universe must be quite powerful because it brought all of matter, time, and space into being.

 

    In the words of Dr. William Lane Craig, “…we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator” (Craig 2002). The Teleological Argument from the fine-tuningThe teleological argument has been coming up in discussions among philosophers again in recent decades. Traditionally the argument from design has been thought to have been refuted by people like David Hume and the Charles Darwin. However, with new discoveries in astrophysics, the argument has come back on the scene.Today I will be defending a Bayesian model of this argument, most notably defended in this way by philosopher Robin Collins.   I will use the likelihood principle as the basis for this argument which can be justified via the odds form of Bayes theorem.   Since my opponent is likely to understand what the “fine-tuning” I am proposing is, I will not go into great lengths to explain it here.

 

 Examples of such fine-tuning come from the constants of the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe such that if they were to be altered by an infinitesimal amount, biological life (in a broad sense) could not have come into being.

 

 Collins explains just one of the fine-tuned parameters in the initial conditions as follows:“If the initial explosion of the big bang had differed in strength by as one part in 1 in 10 to the power of 60, the universe would have either quickly collapsed back on itself, or expanded to rapidly for stars to form. In either case, life would be impossible” (Collins 2009).We can formulate the fine-tuning argument as follows:T=TheismNSU=naturalistic single universe hypothesis      

 

(1) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is very, very epistemically unlikely under NSU: that is, P(LPU|NSU & k&acute << 1, where k´ represents some appropriately chosen background information, and << represents much, much less than (thus making P(LPU|NSU & k&acuteclose to zero).

(2) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is not unlikely under theism: that is, ~P(LPU|T & k&acute << 1.

(3) The theistic hypothesis was advocated prior to the fine-tuning evidence (and has independent motivation).

(C) Therefore, by the restricted version o f the likelihood principle, LPU strongly supports theism over NSU. Justification of P1This first premise, construed in terms of epistemic probability, seems clearly established my mainstream astrophysics and utilization of the principle of insufficient reason to the fine-tuned parameters. Justification for P2This premise should not be controversial. Given a cosmic designer of the universe who is both causally potent and willing to design a LPU, then the P(LPU/T) is approximately 1. 

 

Justification for P3This premise is clearly true as well.  There are plenty of reasons to think the theistic hypothesis is true independent of the fine-tuning (we have and will see other lines of evidence in this opening statement). There have been theists prior to the recent discoveries in astrophysics. The Weak anthropic principle:There are two very popular objections to this argument that I would like to clear out of the way. First, some have suggested that the “weak anthropic principle” eliminates the need to explain the fine-tuning. 

 

The argument is that if the universe were not fine-tuned, then there would not be any observers and so it is not surprising that we should observe a fine-tuned universe because if it were any different, then there would be nobody to observe it. The problem with this response is that it is an observation, not an explanation. John Leslie of Oxford gave a clever thought experiment where he exposed the weak anthropic principle for its fallacious reasoning. Imagine that you are going to be executed by a fire squad of 50 trained marksmen. You hear the command to open fire, you hear the roar of the guns and to your surprise, all of the 50 trained marksmen have miss! What should you conclude in this case? If the marksmen had hit you, you would not be here to observe it. But should you rule out design because of this? Clearly not! 

 

 Here is a further illustration that exposes the weak anthropic principle. Philosopher Alexander Pruss has written:“If we're choosing between two evolutionary theories, both of them fitting the data, both equally simple, but one of them making it likely that observers would evolve and the other making it unlikely, we should choose the one that makes it likely” {1}Multiverse:As a general principle, we should not multiply our probabilistic resources without evidence for those resources. If my opponent would like to maintain that the multiverse explains away the fine-tuning, then he must be willing to argue for the multiverse, otherwise he would be unjustifiable multiplying his probabilistic resources. 

 

A second line of argument against the multiverse is that, everything being equal, we should prefer explanations for which we have independent evidence for or that are natural extrapolations from what we already know. Further, I don’t think a multiverse will really help the naturalist. Every worked out proposal for universe generator that would produce universes must too involve fine-tuning (Collins 2009). The generator itself is governed by a complex system of physical laws that too require fine-tuning. Dr. Craig said in one of his debates/dialogues, “the fine-tuning is like a lump in the carpet, if you suppress it at one point it just pops up somewhere else.” The Argument from ConsciousnessA relatively neglected but powerful argument for T is the argument from consciousness. Perhaps the best defenders of this argument are Richard Swinburne and J.P. Moreland. The argument can be formulated at follows:

 

(1)    Mental events are genuine non-physical mental entities that exist.

(2)    Specific mental event types are regularly correlated with specific physical event types.

(3)    There is an explanation for these correlations.

(4)    Personal explanation is different from natural scientific explanation.

(5)    The explanation for these correlations is either a personal or natural scientific explanation.

(6)    The explanation is not a natural scientific one.

(7)    Therefore, the explanation is a personal one.

(Cool    If the explanation is personal, then it is theistic.

(C)    Therefore, the explanation is theisticGeneral Comments:This argument, though in deductive form, seeks to find the best known explanation of nonphysical mental states. Thus, the list of explanatory options is not meant to be logically exhaustive. This argument has been thought of as a move from dualism to theism. 

 

If you accept P1, then this argument really takes off. So, most of my defense of this argument will be for P1. Justification for P1:I’m convinced that there are at least two lines of evidence supporting premise one of the above argument. First, the modal argument provides prima facie evidence for P1 and evidential near death experiences provide corroborating evidence for P1. We can formulate the modal argument as follows:

 

(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers 

 

{1}. Although some would object to P1, I don’t think there is much of an issue here. We can easily imagine waking up one morning in the body of another person or in an animal. Meanwhile, we can imagine that our current body is destroyed. These types of thought experiments are at least imaginable. I also take it that imaginability implies conceivability, though not necessarily vice-versa. 

 

The controversial jump in this argument is from P2 to P3. Although conceivability does not necessarily entail logical possibility, the former does give prima facie reason to think that the latter is true. Unless one is to take a position of modal skepticism, conceivability is our only guide to logical possibility. Secondly, I think evidential near death experiences provide evidence for the immateriality of human persons. 

 

I would like to define NDE’s in the sense that I will use in this debate. First off, by “near death” I am referring to the medical term which means the “state in which you can be expected to die if there is not any immediate intervention”. Further, I would like to distinguish between two different categories of NDE‘s: Evidential and non-evidential NDE’s. By “evidential NDE’s”, I’m referring to a specific category of documented accounts where some feature of the experience can be empirically verified. E.g., if someone in a near death state sees a shoe on top of the roof and there is no way prior to that experience that she could have known about the shoe, that is an evidential NDE. On the other hand, most NDE’s fall into the non-evidential category. These are experiences that cannot be empirically verified. This distinction is crucial when we look at the common counter-arguments to the argument from NDE’s.

 

There are hundreds of evidential NDE accounts. In order to see just what kind of an account that I’m talking about, let me give an example. There was a story published in two different medical journals about a little girl from Idaho, named Katie. One of the journals was Pediatrics. Anyhow, the little girl was underwater for 19 minutes. The girl was taken out of the water and was immediately cared for in the hospital. Her doctor was named Melvin Morse. He was a pediatrician and a brain specialist. There was no brainwave activity in Katie and she was profoundly comatose. After working on her for a long time, there was nothing else they could do for her and she was hooked up to machines. Her pupils were fixed and dilated which probably meant she was brain dead. Three days later, Katie spontaneously came to. I say spontaneously because the doctors weren’t doing anything special to keep her alive. Dr. Melvin Morse, while recounting the story, said, “You cannot imagine my interest when I saw the little girl look up at me and say to me that I was that kind doctor who resuscitated her!”Katie described the appearance of the emergency room and the appearance of tools that the doctors used to work on her. She also described how she had been taken back to her house by an angel named Elizabeth. Katie recounted her experience by telling the doctors what her family was doing-what her mom was cooking, the music that was playing that night, what her siblings were doing, and conversations her parents had!Although Katie was lying down, brain dead and hooked up to machines, she was right about details that she could not have known about. Better yet, the account was written right after Katie came to by independent witnesses and the account was published in two peer reviewed medical journals. 

 

It is cases like these that I call evidential cases.

 

 {2}How do we best explain these accounts?The first major attempt to explain away NDE’s is by psychology and neurology. Air fighter pilots often have NDE’s during intense flight simulation training. Also, some studies have concluded that NDE’s are produced when certain chemicals are displaced in the brain. Aren’t these arguments devastating for someone who thinks NDE’s are evidence for an afterlife? Not at all. The first counter argument is terribly weak. Simply because a false experience can be generated by stimulation should not make us doubt the rest of our beliefs produced by that cognitive faculty.

For example, scientists can stimulate false beliefs about the physical world. If I were to take a hallucinogenic, it would produce in me false experiences of the physical world. Just because false beliefs can be produced by a scientists stimulation that should never make us doubt the beliefs produced by that faculty. If this counter argument were sound, we would have to be skeptical of all our beliefs about the physical world. Perhaps I’m not giving the above counter argument justice. Perhaps it isn’t so much that these experiences can be falsely simulated, it is the fact that they have a chemical correlation.I have several responses to this kind of argument.

First of all, all of our experiences have physical correlations. I see physical objects because certain areas of my brain are stimulated. Should the physical cause of my sense perception make me doubt my sense perception-God forbid! Most importantly however, mere chemical imbalances don’t explain evidential NDE’s. How do private hallucinations cause someone to see things far outside of their body? Chemical imbalances are explanatorily impotent when trying to explain evidential NDE’s.

The second major attempt to explain away NDE’s is by pointing out that NDE’s often reflect cultural and prior religious commitments of the individual. People who have NDE’s have experiences that often mirror their prior held religious convictions and societal upbringings. Although this may have some explanatory power in the case of how people interpret NDE’s, this explanation is still utterly impotent to explain evidential NDE’s. This counter-argument is successful only in proving that we cannot, on the basis of these experiences alone, construct what kind of worldview is true. Nonetheless, evidential NDE’s still disprove the odd man out-those who are pure physicalists about human persons.

Before ending my discussion of P1 of this argument, I would like to point out that NDE’s provide an additional linking chain of argument in support of the modal argument. Śaṃkara, an Indian philosopher, argued:“If a thing outside awareness is as impossible as a barren woman’s son how can we even feel as if something is outside? Nothing even appears to be like an impossibility”Basically, “Samkara’s principle”, as Alexander Pruss has called it, is that if we can have an experience that seems like it is veridical, then it is at least possible that it is veridical. It is impossible to have an experience of something logically impossible, even if that experience is only an illusion. Impossibilities cannot even seem to be true; it can never seem as if a square circle exists. The fact that NDE’s can at least seem to be veridical to someone gives further prima facie evidence that shows it is possible for us to exist outside of our bodies. Ergo, the jump from P2 of the modal argument is sound. Thus, the rest of the modal argument follows uncontroversially and dualism is true.  

Justification for P2I take this premise to be supported by the principle of sufficient reason. Unless my opponent wants to say that minds exist are correlated to brains by the necessity of their own nature, the principle of sufficient reason demands that these correlations have an explanation. I am going to quote at large from philosopher Alexander Pruss where he gives an argument for the principle of sufficient reason:“Start with the observation that once we admit that some contingent states of affairs have no explanations, a completely new sceptical scenario becomes possible: No demon is deceiving you, but your perceptual states are occurring for no reason at all, with no prior causes. Moreover, objective probabilities are tied to laws of nature or objective tendencies, and so if an objective probability attaches to some contingent fact, then that situation can be given an explanation in terms of laws of nature or objective tendencies. Hence, if the PSR is false of some contingent fact, no objective probability attaches to the fact.Thus we cannot even say that violations of the PSR are improbable if the PSR is false. Consequently, someone who does not affirm the PSR cannot say that the sceptical scenario is objectively improbable. It may be taken to follow from this that if the PSR were false or maybe even not known a priori, we wouldn’t know any empirical truths.  But we do know empirical truths. Hence, the PSR is true and maybe even known a priori” (Pruss 2009).

Justification for P6If P1 is true, mental states are genuinely nonphysical entities. Mind, being nonphysical, is categorically unique from matter. If we start the universe with the Big Bang and the history of the universe is the history of the laws of chemistry and the rearrangement of matter according to the laws of physics, how do you get nonphysical mind and its correlations with matter? Since you must start the universe with mind being a fundamental property of the universe, the explanation for consciousness and its correlations cannot be a naturalistic one. Minimally, a personal explanation is more plausible than a natural scientific.

Justification for P8 This still leaves two worldviews on the table: panpsychism and theism. However, I contend that panpsychism is incoherent. It doesn’t even make sense to say that thoughts exist outside of a unified subject. Secondly, every single case we have of consciousness is that consciousness belongs to a unified self. Therefore, I think a personal explanation with a unified self better explains the existence of consciousness.  

Argument from MiraclesI will argue that certain facts surrounding the historical Jesus’ death and the early proceeding aftermath confirm the hypothesis that God rose Jesus rose from the dead (R).  I take it to be common sense that if naturalism is true, then the probability of Jesus’ resurrection is approximately zero. On the other hand, if the resurrection occurred, then the probability of T is approximately 1. By the very nature of the case, the stronger the confirmatory evidence for R, the higher the probability of T. I will not need to argue that R is more probable than not (though I will argue that the evidence is sufficient to infer R) for this to add to the case for T. Further, I do not need to argue that the confirmatory evidence for R makes T>.5 in order for this argument to add to my case for T. Nevertheless, I think the evidence allows for an inference to the resurrection and so provides very good evidence for T.

I will be making use of the following propositions concerning the historical Jesus and the early church:

The discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb, the appearances to the disciple’s (D), and the appearance to Paul (P). Taken cumulatively, I think these facts give us very powerful confirmatory evidence for R over ~R. Before I very briefly defend the historicity of each of these propositions, I would like to point out that I think that the Gospels (minimally the synoptics) are generally reliable. By “general reliability”, I mean that we ought to trust the Gospels in matters of history even when we do not have independent evidence for their reliability in respect to a specific event they record. Nevertheless, the core of the facts pertaining to the resurrection need not be defended by general reliability because they stand up to scrutiny on their own.

In any case, Dr. William Lane Craig gives several reasons to think that the Gospels are generally reliable. He lists the following pieces of evidence:“

1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The interval of time between the events themselves and recording of them in the gospels is too short to have allowed the memory of what had or had not actually happened to be erased.

2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends." Tales like those of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill or contemporary urban legends like the "vanishing hitchhiker" rarely concern actual historical individuals and are thus not analogous to the gospel narratives.

3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. In an oral culture like that of first century Palestine the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age children in the home, elementary school, and the synagogue were taught to memorize faithfully sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.

4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.

5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.

” {4}Although I think the Gospels are generally reliable, I think the core of these facts can be supported without appeal to general reliability of the Gospels utilizing what Biblical critics call the “criteria of authenticity”. The criteria of authenticity are used by New Testament historians to see what we can know about the historical Jesus.

{5} The criteria of authenticity includes things like the criterion of independent attestation (events reported in independent sources are more likely to be historical) and the criterion of embarrassment (events that were embarrassing for the early church are less likely to be invented and so add to the probability of the event). Using these criteria, we can see how the facts I mentioned can be substantiated. I cannot go into detail about all of the supporting lines of argument for those facts, but let me briefly outline some of the supporting lines of evidence.

First, the empty tomb. The empty tomb is part of Mark’s passion narrative and so dates back earlier than Mark’s Gospel and is probably based on eye-witness testimony. Further, the discovery of the empty tomb is multiply attested by independent traditions found in Mark and by John. Moreover, the narrative in Mark meets the criteria of embarrassment because it was discovered empty by women, which were considered to be unreliable witnesses during that time period. Our record suggests that the disciples didn’t even believe the woman when they were first told. In fact, we see that the women are not even mentioned in the Apostle’s creed when it lists the witnesses to the resurrection.  

Next, the earliest Jewish response recorded in Matthew and later repeated in the Talmud is that the disciples came and stole away Jesus body. However, the claim that the disciple’s stole away Jesus’ body implicitly provides attestation that the tomb was in fact found empty. Another piece of evidence comes from what has come to be known as the “Jerusalem factor”. It’s hard to see how a movement based on the bodily resurrection of a man could be proclaimed while the location Jesus’ dead body was public knowledge, known by the Christians and the Jews. For these reasons and many others, I think we ought to treat the empty tomb story reported in the Gospels as reliable history.

Second, the appearance to the disciple’s. Along with accepting the general reliability of the Gospels, there are good independent reasons to accept the core of their testimony. The story is multiply attested by a wide variety of sources. First, the very early apostle’s creed cited by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 includes the appearances to the disciples and peter. It is also multiply attested by independent traditions found in John, Luke, and Mark. The appearance narratives are found in so many sources with independent traditions that barely any NT scholars dispute the authenticity of the appearances to the disciples.

Further, how do you explain the earliest belief in the resurrection without the resurrection appearances? By being crucified, Jesus was shown to be a blasphemer, under the curse of the God of Israel in Jewish thinking. Jewish messianic expectations had not been met and Jesus had been killed right before the disciple’s eyes. So, how do you explain how these scared men became bold proclaimers of the resurrection despite every predisposition to the contrary? Even through intense persecution and learning that their fellow brethren were suffering miserable deaths, the disciple’s continued proclaiming the resurrection.

So, how do you explain the earliest belief in the resurrection without alluding to the appearances themselves? I don’t think there are plausible ways to do so. This point is quite strong in the case of Jesus’ brother, James. Our record suggests that James was a skeptic of Jesus during his lifetime, yet we learn that James became a leader in the early church and was eventually martyred. The best explanation of these facts is the one we find attested to in the NT, “then he appeared to James” (1 Cor. 15:7).

I don’t have time to discuss the appearance to Paul in detail nor all (or close to all) of the proposed naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection. Let me discuss one naturalistic explanation for these facts for now, hallucinations (H). Before going into the problems with hallucination theory, we must take note that this is only trying to explain the appearance to the disciple’s and Paul-it does not account for the empty tomb.

In order to account for the empty tomb an independent explanation must be attached. Of course, if R expresses a true proposition, these facts are easily accounted for. So, P(P&D/R) is approximately 1. If we are going to look at the P(P&D/H) we have to multiply the probability of hallucinations with respect to all of the disciples. So, we aren’t really just talking about the probability of one person hallucinating. We are talking about the probability of a hallucination x hallucination x hallucination x hallucination etc. Further, if we take the Gospels seriously in what they report (as I’ve argued we should), then we would need the hallucinations to all happen simultaneously and be seamlessly integrated. Further, the hallucinations must have been able to come up spontaneously and by appointment in group and individual settings. The hallucinations would also have had to suddenly stop for everyone at once and never occur again.

Finally, we have to take into account the appearance to Paul.   Paul was an avid persecutor of the early church. It’s very hard to find parallel examples in history of a fervent persecutor of a religion converting to that religion on the basis of an appearance by the respective deity of that religion. Besides not being in a proper psychological state to hallucinate, Paul had a very peculiar auditory experience followed by temporary blindness. I think must take the account of this in Acts seriously because of the reasons for the reliability of the Gospels also confirm the reliability of Acts. Some of those reasons are especially true in Luke’s case. Moreover, in all probability, the traditional authorship of Luke is true (this is controversial however there is not enough time to develop an argument for its veracity) which means Luke had personal contact with Paul. This is part of Paul’s testimony of which he was persecuted and eventually killed for.

When we take all of these factors together-the facts that the improbability of all the disciples hallucinating must be multiplied by each other, the appearances had to have occurred simultaneously, be seamlessly integrated, happened by appointment, by surprise, happen in peculiar circumstances it did to an enemy of the early church, and suddenly cease all in the context of an empty tomb-hallucinations are enormously improbable. We cannot forget that we must literally multiply each of these improbabilities by each other and anyone who knows anything about mathematics will tell you that large numbers become very large quickly through multiplication. Therefore, D & P, by the likelihood principle, provide incredibly strong confirmatory evidence for R over H and therefore confirmatory evidence for T. I think this sort of amazing improbability plagues all of the proposed naturalistic explanations. However, I’ll just wait and see what my opponent thinks explains the data better than the resurrection.

Problem of Miracles Most people’s problem with accepting the resurrection is accepting that the laws of nature were violated. Before addressing the concerns that are raised here, I don’t think we should operate with such emotionally charged definitions. The definition given by Timothy and Lydia Mcgrew in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology is sufficient. They have written:“…a miracle is a specific event that would not have happened if only the natural order had been operating, where the natural order is understood to involve physical entities, their interactions, and the actions and interactions of animals, humans, and beings with powers much like ours. There is some vagueness in this definition, particularly with respect to what “powers much like ours” might amount to; but it has the merit of avoiding semantic questions about what constitutes a physical law and whether a physical law cannot, by definition, be violated.”

Before going on, we must alleviate some false preconceptions about the resurrection hypothesis. It is not being argued that all the cells in Jesus’ body spontaneously came back to life naturally. That is highly improbable and should not be in the pool of live explanatory options. Since we do have independent evidence for T and this evidence seems compelling in its own right, what is so improbable about believing that God raised Jesus from the dead that it overwhelms the powerful confirmatory evidence discussed above? If you think about it, the prior probability of a miracle cannot be less probable than the combination of two propositions: (1) God exists(2) God wishes to reveal himself to humanity in a way that cannot be mistaken for the work of another man or nature Given that there are other chains of evidence to think (1) is true, and the moral argument for God’s existence (which, due to limited space, could not be discussed) provides plausibility to (2) (because a moral being would want to interact with an evil and suffering world), why think the P(R/B) is so low that our confirmatory evidence cannot overcome it? This is not circular because I’m not actually arguing that God’s existence makes the inference to R justified. The point here is that, given the powerful force of our confirmatory evidence for R, the burden of proof is on my opponent to explain why he thinks P(R/B) cannot be overtaken by the confirmatory evidence. He must explain why (1) and (2) are sufficiently low as to make the prior probability of R insuperable to the evidence presented.   I am not incorrectly switching the burden of proof because strong confirmatory evidence does switch the burden of proof. Without knowing the prior probability that a dealer would cheat, if we have good confirmatory evidence that he is cheating (say he gives himself 5 royal flushes in a row), then the burden of proof is on the person who wishes to maintain that the dealer is not cheating.  

Conclusion In summary then I think we’ve seen 4 good reasons to think that God exists.

First, contemporary finding in the field of cosmology point to an absolute beginning of the universe and allows an inference to an immaterial personal agent as its cause.

Secondly, recent astrophysical findings of the fine-tuning of the universe allows for an inference to intelligent design.

Next, I presented an abductive argument for preferring theism over naturalism based on consciousness. I argued that the nonphysical nature of qualia shows that our worldview must begin with consciousness and theism is better than our competing personal explanations for consciousness.

Finally, I presented a historical case for the resurrection of Jesus which provides very strong confirmatory evidence for the resurrection and hence for theism. Taken cumulatively, I think we can conclude that theism is the more sensible worldview than atheism.      

1.       http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2010/12/simple-design-argument.html

2.       http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/#ModArg

3.       See Light and Death by Michael Sabom and Beyond Death by Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland for formal citation of these cases.

4.       http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/rediscover2.html5.       http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/gp/gp1_authenticity_stein.pdf 

 

 

____________________________________________________________
"I guess it's time to ask if you live under high voltage power transmission lines which have been shown to cause stimulation of the fantasy centers of the brain due to electromagnetic waves?" - Me

"God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks please. Cash and in small bills." - Robert A Heinlein.


butterbattle
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Welcome to the

Welcome to the forum.

Quaestio wrote:
I argued that this being must be a personal being because it is both immaterial and must have been able to act from a prior state of timelessness.

If causality is dependent on time, and this being exists outside of the universe, how was he able to cause anything?

Define "personal being." How does this follow from immaterial and timelessness?

Quaestio wrote:
This requires that the cause of the universe to act without prior determining conditions. So whatever caused the universe is immaterial and can act without prior determining conditions, i.e., it is a personal being.

Elaborate on "prior determining conditions."

Quaestio wrote:
enormously powerful,

Justify this.

Define "powerful."

Quaestio wrote:
There is no interpretation of quantum mechanics which says that things can come into being from nothing.

Not a philosophical concept of "nothing." A quantum foam.

Quaestio wrote:
Particles that come into being from the quantum vacuum still have a cause.

What's the cause?

Quaestio wrote:
There are some interpretations of QM which make quantum events indeterminate.  However, whether or not all events have causes is irrelevant to the KCA because we are concerned whether or not all beings have causes.

Define a "being." The universe is a "being?"

Quaestio wrote:
By saying God best explains "being", Leibniz' was saying God best explains why there is something rather than nothing.

Why is there a God rather than nothing?

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Further comments:Even if all

Further comments:

Even if all the miracles and manifestations in the Bible are taken at face value, all they demonstrate is that something highly unusual occurred.

They in no way prove that they were somehow manifestations of an infinite, omnipotent, universe-creating entity, or that some individual was closely related to said entity.

Unexplained events do not prove that any specific offered explanations, even by people associated with the event, are true.

Alien visitors from a highly advanced civilization would be a literally infinitely more plausible explanation, in the absence of more mundane ones.

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

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Let's see what else you

Let's see what else you posted. Oh, this looks interesting.

Quaestio wrote:
(1)    Mental events are genuine non-physical mental entities that exist.

(2)    Specific mental event types are regularly correlated with specific physical event types.

(3)    There is an explanation for these correlations.

(4)    Personal explanation is different from natural scientific explanation.

(5)    The explanation for these correlations is either a personal or natural scientific explanation.

(6)    The explanation is not a natural scientific one.

(7)    Therefore, the explanation is a personal one.

8 - If the explanation is personal, then it is theistic.

1) They're not "entities."

3) What the heck is a "personal" explanation?

6) Don't agree.

8 - How does this follow?

Quaestro wrote:
(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers

???

Where's 4)?

Only logically consistent concepts can be conceived; ergo, anything that can be conceived is logically possible?

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Questio, 'conceivable' DOES

Questio, 'conceivable' DOES NOT MEAN POSSIBLE!!!

One's mind is not one's body, but that does make it independent.

A personal explanation may be theistic, of course, but that doesn't make it true. Only empirical and independent confirmation can even hope to establish that.

Have you ever done a course in logic??

No wonder you are impressed by Craig, you show just as little awareness of or care about logical consistency as he does.

 

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

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

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

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Refuting more criticism

Everything we know about the nature of biological systems only go to confirm that P(R/N) is approximitely zero or close to it.  Given the plausibility of the two conjunct claims stated in my argument, the P(M/B) isn't *that* low. 

 

The problem is that I'm offering an explanation that clearly is not ad hoc to the life and claims of Jesus and is highly confirmed by the specific evidence.  I'm skeptical that aliens do exist (or at least have evolved enough to be able to do these sorts of things) and so the prior probability of them acting is very low.  Further, aliens are ad hoc and contrived as an explanation. 

 

You seem to think that the P(M/B) is so low that our confirmatory evidence cannot overwhelm it.  Given what I said about the burden of proof, you owe me an explanation why you think the following two propositions have low probability:

 

(1) God exists

 

(2) God wishes to reveal himself to the world in a way that cannot be the mistaken for another man or nature. 

 

 

 


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By, "mind existing outside

By, "mind existing outside of body" do you mean outside out human bodies?  If so, yea, I can imagine that.  If you mean can I imagine them existing without a physical foundation then no, I can't imagine that.

 

Minds need brains.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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butterbattle wrote:Let's see

butterbattle wrote:

Let's see what else you posted. Oh, this looks interesting.

Quaestio wrote:
(1)    Mental events are genuine non-physical mental entities that exist.

(2)    Specific mental event types are regularly correlated with specific physical event types.

(3)    There is an explanation for these correlations.

(4)    Personal explanation is different from natural scientific explanation.

(5)    The explanation for these correlations is either a personal or natural scientific explanation.

(6)    The explanation is not a natural scientific one.

(7)    Therefore, the explanation is a personal one.

8 - If the explanation is personal, then it is theistic.

1) They're not "entities."

3) What the heck is a "personal" explanation?

6) Don't agree.

8 - How does this follow?

Quaestro wrote:
(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers

???

Where's 4)?

Only logically consistent concepts can be conceived; ergo, anything that can be conceived is logically possible?

 

Using "entities" is the general use of the term among philosophers, yes they are.  If you don't know what "personal explanation" means, then you are too ignorant to even take a position in this God debate at all because you are clearly ignorant of the literature on the topic.  If you disagree with (6) then you'll need to refute my arguments for it and present arguments of your own to refute that premise.  (Cool doesn't "follow" from the previous premises.  It is given its own justification.  If you would care to remember, I argued that the two explanatory worldviews left are pansychism and theism.  The former being incoherent leaving theism as the best explanation of the correlations between consciousness and physical brain states.

 

I don't think it necessarily follows that whatever can be conceived is logically possible but it certainly gives prima facie reason to think so given that we are modal realists. 

 

 

 

 

 


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Response

BobSpence1 wrote:

Questio, 'conceivable' DOES NOT MEAN POSSIBLE!!!

One's mind is not one's body, but that does make it independent.

A personal explanation may be theistic, of course, but that doesn't make it true. Only empirical and independent confirmation can even hope to establish that.

Have you ever done a course in logic??

No wonder you are impressed by Craig, you show just as little awareness of or care about logical consistency as he does.

 

 

You seem to be presupposing a self-refuting view known to philosophers as scientism. The theistic explanation is the best explanation of consciousness if the premises are sound and naturalism and panspsychism doesn't work,

 

The modal argument isn't supposed to follow strictly.  If you still don't believe me about the format of this argument, take it up with the authors of the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. 

 

I'm going out with some friends tonight, more responses tomorrow.  I'm enjoying our conversations, I'll be back tomorrow (perhaps later tonight)


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We know that the probability

We know that the probability that basic self-replicating molecules can emerge from more basic components and chemicals is 100%. It has been observed. This is the basic requirement for the evolutionary algorithm to kick in, allowing indefinitely more complex organisms to emerge.

There are now known to likely be billions of habitable planets in the Universe, so the probability of at least one being suitable for us to emerge cannot be assumed to be negligible a priori.

Their is nothing 'probable' about a God' - anything defined with infinities is already extremely problematic. Since as a local 'designer' it is not necessary, we can safely dismiss the idea until you can present positive evidence for such an entity.

It is another logical fallacy to base an assessment of likelihood on your personal inability to conceive of something as possible or likely.

I think that could be classified as an 'argument from ignorance', or an 'argument from incredulity'.

 

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

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

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

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BobSpence1 wrote:Have you

BobSpence1 wrote:
Have you ever done a course in logic??

Not everyone has the same level of  net gain from such a course; in some cases, non-doctrinal logic is innate to a particular configuration of mind and personality. The OP wouldn't be an example of such a case, merely just another driveby poster.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Quaestio wrote:If you don't

Quaestio wrote:
If you don't know what "personal explanation" means, then you are too ignorant to even take a position in this God debate at all because you are clearly ignorant of the literature on the topic.

Haha. Okay, I think I'm done. Have fun with Quaestio the "sophisticated" theist, guys.

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


BobSpence
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Quaestio wrote:BobSpence1

Quaestio wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Questio, 'conceivable' DOES NOT MEAN POSSIBLE!!!

One's mind is not one's body, but that does make it independent.

A personal explanation may be theistic, of course, but that doesn't make it true. Only empirical and independent confirmation can even hope to establish that.

Have you ever done a course in logic??

No wonder you are impressed by Craig, you show just as little awareness of or care about logical consistency as he does.

You seem to be presupposing a self-refuting view known to philosophers as scientism. The theistic explanation is the best explanation of consciousness if the premises are sound and naturalism and panspsychism doesn't work,

The modal argument isn't supposed to follow strictly.  If you still don't believe me about the format of this argument, take it up with the authors of the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. 

I'm going out with some friends tonight, more responses tomorrow.  I'm enjoying our conversations, I'll be back tomorrow (perhaps later tonight)

Your premises are not particularly sound.

If naturalism doesn't 'work', that doesn't make theism valid, since it is not really an explanation, having zero actual explanatory power; IOW, anything can be made to 'fit' once you assume the supernatural, but the flip side is that you cannot predict with any confidence how a supernatural entity will behave.

I don't care about the 'format' of the argument, you are not permitted to make non-sequiters and commit clear logical fallacies and claim victory.

I don't claim 'science' can explain all of reality, but any claim that cannot be independently checked, for which we cannot provide supportive empirical evidence, can only be considered a claim, an assertion, or a speculation, and not knowledge in a general sense, whatever its significance to the individual.

Now please point out explicitly how my position is 'self-refuting'. Otherwise you have just committed yet another fallacy, 'argument ad hominem'.

'Modal' arguments have a utility in addressing certain kinds of situations, but those arguments must still be consistent with basic logic, and be ultimately expressible in terms of basic logic, albeit in possibly a more complex form.

My biggest problem with Modal logic is that the terminology allows too-easy conflation with clearly invalid ideas. I suspect Modal Logic was invented to allow Theists to slip in the Ontological argument in some form that made it seem respectable.

It is also a fallacy to apply logical arguments to incoherent or imprecise concepts, such as 'God'. The 'omni' attributes make the Abrahamic God extremely problematic in this sense.

You simply cannot use logic to prove a Supernatural proposition. The best you can hope to do is demonstrate problems with any non-supernatural explanations offered. Which I see you have at least attempted to do.

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

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

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

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


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butterbattle wrote:Quaestio

butterbattle wrote:

Quaestio wrote:
If you don't know what "personal explanation" means, then you are too ignorant to even take a position in this God debate at all because you are clearly ignorant of the literature on the topic.

Haha. Okay, I think I'm done. Have fun with Quaestio the "sophisticated" theist, guys.

I don't blame you.

I'll probably give this poster a few more chances before i'm done.

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

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

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

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


lalib
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Quaestio wrote:Unless we are

I can't figure out how to attach a PDF, is it possible in this forum?

Quaestio wrote:
Unless we are willing to say that the universe simply sprung into existence, uncaused and out of nothing, we must say that something outside of the universe caused it to come into being.

Why would I be unwilling to say that the universe is fundamentally eternal? Why should it have a cause? Surely you are aware of arguments against a 'first cause'?

Quaestio wrote:
So we come to the Kalam Cosmological ArgumentSad1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.(2) The universe began to exist.(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence, the cause is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.(C) Therefore, the cause of the universe is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.

I think you are over simplifing and assuming that the universe began to exist in premise 2. We extrapolate from the current state of the universe back in time and know that it was an extremely dense and hot point, but we don't know what was before that. The universe in it's current state 'started' about 13 billions years ago, but we do not know whether it sprang into existance then or not. Even if I grant this assumption, premise four is simply an assertion. If the universe has a cause it must be an immaterial personal agent who is eternal and enoumously powerful, wtf?

Quaestio wrote:
Justification for P2:I think premise two is strongly supported by modern cosmology. Although atheists have typically responded to this argument by defending the possibility of a past-eternal universe, this views runs right in the face of mainstream cosmogony.

Ah, but what atheists claim does not run in face of modern cosmology, the truth is that we don't konw what was before the big bang, therefore we cannot state that the universe sprang into existence at that time or not.

Quaestio wrote:
Justification for P4:Since the space-time universe includes the sum of all space and time, the cause of the universe must be timeless and spaceless. Since this being is timeless and spaceless, it must not be a material being (for material beings exist in space and function in time). Lest we run into the problems of an infinite regress, the cause of the universe must itself be uncaused and hence eternal. Because this being is uncaused, it must have been able to produce its effect without prior determining conditions. A being which is immaterial and able to act without prior determining conditions just is what philosophers mean by a personal agent endowed with libertarian free will. Finally, the cause of the universe must be quite powerful because it brought all of matter, time, and space into being.

Why should this being that created the universe be a being at all? Why should it be personal? The space time universe contains our known space time, there is no requirment for what created the universe to be timless or spaceless, nor immaterial. I think you are extrapolating back from the bible to create an image of what this first cause should be, there is not requirement that this first cause can even think at all. 

Quaestio wrote:
Fine Tuning

I'm actually just going to call bs on the fine tuning 'evidence' by attaching a PDF to this that allows for the possibility of other univereses to exist and concievabely evolve life. This does not argue for a multiverse, but merely points out that there are other ways the universe could have been with the possibility of life, which means that this univese (and even conceding that it is the only one) is not fine tuned.

Quaestio wrote:
The Argument from Consciousness

If you accept P1 (Mental events are genuine non-physical mental entities that exist.), then this argument really takes off. So, most of my defense of this argument will be for P1. Justification for P1:I’m convinced that there are at least two lines of evidence supporting premise one of the above argument. First, the modal argument provides prima facie evidence for P1 and evidential near death experiences provide corroborating evidence for P1. We can formulate the modal argument as follows: 

(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers 

While it is true that I can imagine my mind contained in a super computer, your actual argument rests on the assumption that the mind is non-physical, which it is not. Our current minds are a function of our brains and if our mind were to exist outside our bodies (such as in a computer), the mind would be a physical manifestation of the computer. I don't know why you think the mind is non-physical.

Quaestio wrote:
Nonetheless, evidential NDE’s still disprove the odd man out-those who are pure physicalists about human persons.

So the entire fields of psychology and nuerology are odd men (people) out? I'm frankly unconviced.

Quaestio wrote:
In any case, Dr. William Lane Craig gives several reasons to think that the Gospels are generally reliable. He lists the following pieces of evidence:“

You should know that the gospel's account is the only known account of Jesus and it's not even eyewitness testemony nor written by contemporaries. An arguent that "oh well, the gospels aren't 100% accuracte, but are accurate on the things I want it to be accurate about" is a bullshit argument, but I will address the specific points made. 

Quaestio wrote:
1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The interval of time between the events themselves and recording of them in the gospels is too short to have allowed the memory of what had or had not actually happened to be erased.

This is patently false. The earliest copies of the so-called cannonical gospels is 300 years after Jesus's supposed existance and the best estimate we have for when Mathew (the earliest) was written is not until 65 CE. 65 years is a long enough time for myths to develop. I heard 9-11 conspiraces the day after 9-11, 65 years in more than enough for word of mouth to distort what may or may not have happened.

Quaestio wrote:
2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends." Tales like those of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill or contemporary urban legends like the "vanishing hitchhiker" rarely concern actual historical individuals and are thus not analogous to the gospel narratives.

WTF is this supposed to mean? Jesus's body did 'vanish' and the stories about him are as fanciful as those of Paul Bunyan, etc. Why are they not analgous? 

Quaestio wrote:
3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. In an oral culture like that of first century Palestine the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age children in the home, elementary school, and the synagogue were taught to memorize faithfully sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.
 

Assertion? What evidence do you have to back this up? I'll give you some counter evidence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_harmony#A_parallel_harmony_presentation

They apparently couldn't remember properly whether he walked on water or not. Take a good look at that list and you tell me whether it represents the writings of a people with highly developed memories. 

Quaestio wrote:
4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.

The gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. 

Quaestio wrote:
5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.

err, wtf does this even mean?

Quaestio wrote:
First, the empty tomb. The empty tomb is part of Mark’s passion narrative and so dates back earlier than Mark’s Gospel and is probably based on eye-witness testimony. Further, the discovery of the empty tomb is multiply attested by independent traditions found in Mark and by John. Moreover, the narrative in Mark meets the criteria of embarrassment because it was discovered empty by women, which were considered to be unreliable witnesses during that time period. Our record suggests that the disciples didn’t even believe the woman when they were first told. In fact, we see that the women are not even mentioned in the Apostle’s creed when it lists the witnesses to the resurrection.

The gospels are the only sources on Jesus and appear to be based off each other to high degree. 

Quaestio wrote:
Second, the appearance to the disciple’s. Along with accepting the general reliability of the Gospels, there are good independent reasons to accept the core of their testimony. The story is multiply attested by a wide variety of sources. First, the very early apostle’s creed cited by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 includes the appearances to the disciples and peter. It is also multiply attested by independent traditions found in John, Luke, and Mark. The appearance narratives are found in so many sources with independent traditions that barely any NT scholars dispute the authenticity of the appearances to the disciples.

Again, the gospels are not independent sources. They are different from each other, yes, but not independent. Secondly, the appearance of Jesus to the disciples in only mentioned in two out the four cannonical gospels, per the list I provided. 

Quaestio wrote:
By being crucified, Jesus was shown to be a blasphemer, under the curse of the God of Israel in Jewish thinking. Jewish messianic expectations had not been met and Jesus had been killed right before the disciple’s eyes.

Umm, b/c the only way to solve the problem of you holy man's failure is to fake his resurrection? Do you honestly not see this? It's what humans are supremely good at, if something goes against our expectations, we attempt to 'rationalize' it away or if we were at fault for doing something, we try to shift the burden on to someone/thing else. 

Quaestio wrote:
I don’t have time to discuss the appearance to Paul in detail nor all (or close to all) of the proposed naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection. Let me discuss one naturalistic explanation for these facts for now, hallucinations (H). Before going into the problems with hallucination theory, we must take note that this is only trying to explain the appearance to the disciple’s and Paul-it does not account for the empty tomb.

But there is no problem of the empty tomb...the empty tomb was written about 65 years after the empty tomb, we have no idea whether the tomb was empty or not. 

Quaestio wrote:
Finally, we have to take into account the appearance to Paul.   Paul was an avid persecutor of the early church. It’s very hard to find parallel examples in history of a fervent persecutor of a religion converting to that religion on the basis of an appearance by the respective deity of that religion.

According to Muslim traditions, Omar was a persecuter of early Islam and one day, deciding to cut off the head of the snake he took his sword and set out to kill Muhammad (the founder of Islam), however, he wished to kill his sister first (whom he suspected of being a convert) but before he crashed down her door he heard the miraculous(tm) words of the Quran, submitted himself to Muhammed and eventually became one of the Caliphs (leaders) after Muhammad. 

Granted, Allah did not appear to Omar, but Allah's words (the Quran), did. Paul is hardly unique in this aspect.

Quaestio wrote:
When we take all of these factors together-the facts that the improbability of all the disci[les hallucinating must be multiplied by each other, the appearances had to have occurred simultaneously, be seamlessly integrated, happened by appointment, by surprise, happen in peculiar circumstances it did to an enemy of the early church, and suddenly cease all in the context of an empty tomb-hallucinations are enormously improbable.

There is no probablity to be taken into account. There is simply no good evidence for what was going on when/if Jesus was crucified. We don't have to calculate probabilites or even consider them b/c we don't have any reliable contemporary account of Jesus.

Mainly, the problem with your entire argument is that you take Jesus as God as a given, then you try to rationalize from a First Cause down to arguing for Jesus's miracles. If you step back for a moment, and substitute your tail argument (the argument for Jesus) for an argument for the Historocity of Muhammad, would you accept that argument? Why or Why not? The argument for Muhammad's historocity is virtually identical to the argument for Jesus, in fact, Muhammad probably had to overcome more insurmountable odds and his followers conquered the entire Middle East within a hundred years after his death, whereas, Jesus's followers were essentially a cult for a long period of time (lending more time for inaccuracies in transmission to occur), before becoming a large established religion.  


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lalib wrote:Mainly, the

lalib wrote:


Mainly, the problem with your entire argument is that you take Jesus as God as a given, then you try to rationalize from a First Cause down to arguing for Jesus's miracles. If you step back for a moment, and substitute your tail argument (the argument for Jesus) for an argument for the Historocity of Muhammad, would you accept that argument? Why or Why not? The argument for Muhammad's historocity is virtually identical to the argument for Jesus, in fact, Muhammad probably had to overcome more insurmountable odds and his followers conquered the entire Middle East within a hundred years after his death, whereas, Jesus's followers were essentially a cult for a long period of time (lending more time for inaccuracies in transmission to occur), before becoming a large established religion. 

I like your parallel between Christianity and Islam.  I'm going to use that, thank you.  And I have to give you props for reading the whole 'argument'  he has presented, I've already mentioned that the strongest thing going for his 'argument' is the length and number of logical inconsistencies.  It's just like listening to Ray Comfort, you want to refute the first idiocies and then they just keep pilling.  Then it becomes something of a car crash, it's horrible and intellectually painful but you just can't turn away.  You just smile and shake your head.

Every single argument is a slippery slope fallacy, followed by a non sequitur.  Bob is one of the most patient people I've met.  

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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I'm not aware of how to

lalib,

I'm not aware of how to directly attach PDF's. If you have a URL to the file, ie a file on a publicly accessible server, you can provide it as a link. Safari browser will actually display it on new page, at least on a Mac, the others just let you download it to your disc.

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

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

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

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


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Wow... what utter fail!

That whole OP is just a written example of the Gish Gallup.

My favorite part is this one:

Quaestio wrote:
I'm skeptical that aliens do exist (or at least have evolved enough to be able to do these sorts of things) and so the prior probability of them acting is very low.  Further, aliens are ad hoc and contrived as an explanation.

Yet you see no problem in using magic as a supposed explanation for the universe? Talk about a failure of logic.

This is another problem I see:

Quaestio wrote:
(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers

Wow... just wow...

Just because something is imaginable does not make it possible. We can imagine many things that are in fact not possible, like flapping our arms to fly on this planet or swimming on the surface of the sun. We can imagine Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny actually existing, and many people do, but neither is actually possible. And number 4 there is just ridiculous. All the actual evidence so far points to our minds being a natural product of our brains operating. They are not separate entities like you just assume and treat as logical fact. If you don't believe me, I dare you to shoot yourself in the head while expecting to still be able to think. I doubt you will, as you know as well as I that the probability of your mind continuing to perceive reality after your brain ceases to fire electrical signals is so low as to be impossible. If you disagree, I can loan you a pistol and we can see how dedicated to this idea you really are! But we both know you will not do that since we both know what's waiting on the "other side" of death; oblivion.

Quaestio wrote:
If you don't know what "personal explanation" means, then you are too ignorant to even take a position in this God debate at all because you are clearly ignorant of the literature on the topic.

Oh... I understand what you mean. It's when you just make up shit because you think that your mind is infallible and capable of always discerning reality from hallucination. Oh wait... no, you're just an arrogant piece of shit who insults others intelligence while quoting professional liars ("Dr." William Lane Craig) as if they have anything of substance to offer the debate. By falling back on "personal explanation" you are effectively saying that you have no REAL evidence and that you need to rely on your imagination to clutch at that little safety blanket you call god.

You can discount everything I just posted if you want, since you theists usually put all your interest in tone and not in the substance, but when you start insulting other people's intelligence simply because they don't take your say so, er I mean your "personal explanation", on matters of cosmic significance, then you should be happy that all you have to deal with is my tone. No one here has insulted you personally, they have insulted your idiotic, illogical arguments and absurd baseless claims. You insult people personally for calling you out on having no evidence, which shows just how little power your "argument" actually has.

So yeah, insult me all you want, I really don't care. My feelings don't get hurt when a person claiming magic exists calls me an idiot. I treat it the same as if you were claiming fairies and bigfoot exist and thought of me as an idiot for not accepting your claims. I can imagine I might get a "you're too ignorant to take part in the debate" bullshit non-response, but at least you'll know that you can't call other people idiots for simply calling you on your lack of evidence.

Call me an idiot all you want, as my feelings are not easily hurt, but when you start calling other people's intelligence into question for simply calling you on your illogical assumptions and baseless claims, we have a problem.

"This may shock you, but not everything in the bible is true." The only true statement ever to be uttered by Jean Chauvinism, sociopathic emotional terrorist.
"A Boss in Heaven is the best excuse for a boss on earth, therefore If God did exist, he would have to be abolished." Mikhail Bakunin
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dictate the ends in which you find yourself."
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Yeah, the FACT that we

Yeah, the FACT that we exist, and that there is a high probability that there are many other planets in our Galaxy that are just as suitable for life as ours is, means that the probability of 'alien' life may indeed be fairly high, but we do not have enough information on the likely processes in the emergence of life to establish the probabilities very closely.

The time period over which our galaxy has been in a state where such planets existed is of the order of billions of years, so a separate civilization could easily be much older than ours, with plenty of time to develop technologies way beyond what we have currently.

So your skepticism about such aliens existing is based on ignorance.

There is a real problem in such aliens reaching earth unless they are very close to us in a galactic scale, but they may have found ways to harness 'worm-holes' or something we have yet no idea of to cross interstellar distances in reasonable time and with manageable energy usage.

None of this involves assumptions as totally beyond our experience as 'God', which is indeed a chidish, primitive idea.

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

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

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

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


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lalib wrote:I can't figure

lalib wrote:

I can't figure out how to attach a PDF, is it possible in this forum?

Quaestio wrote:
Unless we are willing to say that the universe simply sprung into existence, uncaused and out of nothing, we must say that something outside of the universe caused it to come into being.

Why would I be unwilling to say that the universe is fundamentally eternal? Why should it have a cause? Surely you are aware of arguments against a 'first cause'?

Quaestio wrote:
So we come to the Kalam Cosmological ArgumentSad1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.(2) The universe began to exist.(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence, the cause is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.(C) Therefore, the cause of the universe is an immaterial personal agent who, sans creation of the universe, is eternal and enormously powerful.

I think you are over simplifing and assuming that the universe began to exist in premise 2. We extrapolate from the current state of the universe back in time and know that it was an extremely dense and hot point, but we don't know what was before that. The universe in it's current state 'started' about 13 billions years ago, but we do not know whether it sprang into existance then or not. Even if I grant this assumption, premise four is simply an assertion. If the universe has a cause it must be an immaterial personal agent who is eternal and enoumously powerful, wtf?

Quaestio wrote:
Justification for P2:I think premise two is strongly supported by modern cosmology. Although atheists have typically responded to this argument by defending the possibility of a past-eternal universe, this views runs right in the face of mainstream cosmogony.

Ah, but what atheists claim does not run in face of modern cosmology, the truth is that we don't konw what was before the big bang, therefore we cannot state that the universe sprang into existence at that time or not.

Quaestio wrote:
Justification for P4:Since the space-time universe includes the sum of all space and time, the cause of the universe must be timeless and spaceless. Since this being is timeless and spaceless, it must not be a material being (for material beings exist in space and function in time). Lest we run into the problems of an infinite regress, the cause of the universe must itself be uncaused and hence eternal. Because this being is uncaused, it must have been able to produce its effect without prior determining conditions. A being which is immaterial and able to act without prior determining conditions just is what philosophers mean by a personal agent endowed with libertarian free will. Finally, the cause of the universe must be quite powerful because it brought all of matter, time, and space into being.

Why should this being that created the universe be a being at all? Why should it be personal? The space time universe contains our known space time, there is no requirment for what created the universe to be timless or spaceless, nor immaterial. I think you are extrapolating back from the bible to create an image of what this first cause should be, there is not requirement that this first cause can even think at all. 

Quaestio wrote:
Fine Tuning

I'm actually just going to call bs on the fine tuning 'evidence' by attaching a PDF to this that allows for the possibility of other univereses to exist and concievabely evolve life. This does not argue for a multiverse, but merely points out that there are other ways the universe could have been with the possibility of life, which means that this univese (and even conceding that it is the only one) is not fine tuned.

Quaestio wrote:
The Argument from Consciousness

If you accept P1 (Mental events are genuine non-physical mental entities that exist.), then this argument really takes off. So, most of my defense of this argument will be for P1. Justification for P1:I’m convinced that there are at least two lines of evidence supporting premise one of the above argument. First, the modal argument provides prima facie evidence for P1 and evidential near death experiences provide corroborating evidence for P1. We can formulate the modal argument as follows: 

(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers 

While it is true that I can imagine my mind contained in a super computer, your actual argument rests on the assumption that the mind is non-physical, which it is not. Our current minds are a function of our brains and if our mind were to exist outside our bodies (such as in a computer), the mind would be a physical manifestation of the computer. I don't know why you think the mind is non-physical.

Quaestio wrote:
Nonetheless, evidential NDE’s still disprove the odd man out-those who are pure physicalists about human persons.

So the entire fields of psychology and nuerology are odd men (people) out? I'm frankly unconviced.

Quaestio wrote:
In any case, Dr. William Lane Craig gives several reasons to think that the Gospels are generally reliable. He lists the following pieces of evidence:“

You should know that the gospel's account is the only known account of Jesus and it's not even eyewitness testemony nor written by contemporaries. An arguent that "oh well, the gospels aren't 100% accuracte, but are accurate on the things I want it to be accurate about" is a bullshit argument, but I will address the specific points made. 

Quaestio wrote:
1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. The interval of time between the events themselves and recording of them in the gospels is too short to have allowed the memory of what had or had not actually happened to be erased.

This is patently false. The earliest copies of the so-called cannonical gospels is 300 years after Jesus's supposed existance and the best estimate we have for when Mathew (the earliest) was written is not until 65 CE. 65 years is a long enough time for myths to develop. I heard 9-11 conspiraces the day after 9-11, 65 years in more than enough for word of mouth to distort what may or may not have happened.

Quaestio wrote:
2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary "urban legends." Tales like those of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill or contemporary urban legends like the "vanishing hitchhiker" rarely concern actual historical individuals and are thus not analogous to the gospel narratives.

WTF is this supposed to mean? Jesus's body did 'vanish' and the stories about him are as fanciful as those of Paul Bunyan, etc. Why are they not analgous? 

Quaestio wrote:
3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. In an oral culture like that of first century Palestine the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age children in the home, elementary school, and the synagogue were taught to memorize faithfully sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.
 

Assertion? What evidence do you have to back this up? I'll give you some counter evidence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_harmony#A_parallel_harmony_presentation

They apparently couldn't remember properly whether he walked on water or not. Take a good look at that list and you tell me whether it represents the writings of a people with highly developed memories. 

Quaestio wrote:
4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.

The gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. 

Quaestio wrote:
5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.

err, wtf does this even mean?

Quaestio wrote:
First, the empty tomb. The empty tomb is part of Mark’s passion narrative and so dates back earlier than Mark’s Gospel and is probably based on eye-witness testimony. Further, the discovery of the empty tomb is multiply attested by independent traditions found in Mark and by John. Moreover, the narrative in Mark meets the criteria of embarrassment because it was discovered empty by women, which were considered to be unreliable witnesses during that time period. Our record suggests that the disciples didn’t even believe the woman when they were first told. In fact, we see that the women are not even mentioned in the Apostle’s creed when it lists the witnesses to the resurrection.

The gospels are the only sources on Jesus and appear to be based off each other to high degree. 

Quaestio wrote:
Second, the appearance to the disciple’s. Along with accepting the general reliability of the Gospels, there are good independent reasons to accept the core of their testimony. The story is multiply attested by a wide variety of sources. First, the very early apostle’s creed cited by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 includes the appearances to the disciples and peter. It is also multiply attested by independent traditions found in John, Luke, and Mark. The appearance narratives are found in so many sources with independent traditions that barely any NT scholars dispute the authenticity of the appearances to the disciples.

Again, the gospels are not independent sources. They are different from each other, yes, but not independent. Secondly, the appearance of Jesus to the disciples in only mentioned in two out the four cannonical gospels, per the list I provided. 

Quaestio wrote:
By being crucified, Jesus was shown to be a blasphemer, under the curse of the God of Israel in Jewish thinking. Jewish messianic expectations had not been met and Jesus had been killed right before the disciple’s eyes.

Umm, b/c the only way to solve the problem of you holy man's failure is to fake his resurrection? Do you honestly not see this? It's what humans are supremely good at, if something goes against our expectations, we attempt to 'rationalize' it away or if we were at fault for doing something, we try to shift the burden on to someone/thing else. 

Quaestio wrote:
I don’t have time to discuss the appearance to Paul in detail nor all (or close to all) of the proposed naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection. Let me discuss one naturalistic explanation for these facts for now, hallucinations (H). Before going into the problems with hallucination theory, we must take note that this is only trying to explain the appearance to the disciple’s and Paul-it does not account for the empty tomb.

But there is no problem of the empty tomb...the empty tomb was written about 65 years after the empty tomb, we have no idea whether the tomb was empty or not. 

Quaestio wrote:
Finally, we have to take into account the appearance to Paul.   Paul was an avid persecutor of the early church. It’s very hard to find parallel examples in history of a fervent persecutor of a religion converting to that religion on the basis of an appearance by the respective deity of that religion.

According to Muslim traditions, Omar was a persecuter of early Islam and one day, deciding to cut off the head of the snake he took his sword and set out to kill Muhammad (the founder of Islam), however, he wished to kill his sister first (whom he suspected of being a convert) but before he crashed down her door he heard the miraculous(tm) words of the Quran, submitted himself to Muhammed and eventually became one of the Caliphs (leaders) after Muhammad. 

Granted, Allah did not appear to Omar, but Allah's words (the Quran), did. Paul is hardly unique in this aspect.

Quaestio wrote:
When we take all of these factors together-the facts that the improbability of all the disci[les hallucinating must be multiplied by each other, the appearances had to have occurred simultaneously, be seamlessly integrated, happened by appointment, by surprise, happen in peculiar circumstances it did to an enemy of the early church, and suddenly cease all in the context of an empty tomb-hallucinations are enormously improbable.

There is no probablity to be taken into account. There is simply no good evidence for what was going on when/if Jesus was crucified. We don't have to calculate probabilites or even consider them b/c we don't have any reliable contemporary account of Jesus.

Mainly, the problem with your entire argument is that you take Jesus as God as a given, then you try to rationalize from a First Cause down to arguing for Jesus's miracles. If you step back for a moment, and substitute your tail argument (the argument for Jesus) for an argument for the Historocity of Muhammad, would you accept that argument? Why or Why not? The argument for Muhammad's historocity is virtually identical to the argument for Jesus, in fact, Muhammad probably had to overcome more insurmountable odds and his followers conquered the entire Middle East within a hundred years after his death, whereas, Jesus's followers were essentially a cult for a long period of time (lending more time for inaccuracies in transmission to occur), before becoming a large established religion.  

Okay, lets take each argument, one at a time.  Fist of all, in current cosmogonical models, the singularity represents a boundary to space time that represents a point before which nothing existed.  However, even on models without the singularity (like Hawking's model) there is still a beginning, albeit not a defined beginning point. 

 

P4 is not simply an assertion, it is a premise that is argued for.  In fact, you later read my argument and try to respond to it.  I'm using the word "being" in the standard broad way that metaphysicians use it.  It simply means "something that exists".  You are mistaken about current models of cosmological origin.  The singularity literally represents a boundary to physical time and space and so the attributes of incorporeality follow nicely. 

I'm not exactly sure what your criticism of the modal argument for dualism was.  The argument only requires that it is logically possible for us to exist outside of our bodies because of the necessity of identity.  Possibly not identity entails not identity.  We must keep in mind Kripke's concept of rigid designators too.

 

The point about NDE's is that it is impossible, in principle, to explain them by pure reductionist brain science.  I'm arguing that the verifiable aspect of NDE's makes them implausibly attributed to hallucinations and so they represent a real objective experience.  This is especially powerful in some of the cases recounted by Michael Sabom where patients have these experiences during flat EEG readings.

 

As for the reliability of the Gospels, you mistakenly say that they are not based on eye-witness testimony. Many of the sources used by the Gospel Authors date much earlier and are based on eye-witness testimony like the pre-Markan passion narrative.  Further, we do have extrabiblical sources for Jesus.  Finally, we have evidence from Paul's epistles and particularly the Apostle's creed cited in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 that dates within a few years of the resurrection and was received directly from the apostle Peter.  So, we have plenty of early information from the church that was based on eye-witness testimony.

 

The first point I made about the reliability of the Gospels was that there wasn't enough time for embellishment.  As for the actual manuscript evidence, there is no reputable scholar who doubts that the text of the NT is less than 99% accurate to what the original authors wrote down.  In any case, the sources behind the Gospels close the gap along with the reliable nature of Jewish oral tradition.  Many historians believe it takes several generations for the historical core of a piece of sacred oral tradition, in a community like 1st century Palestine, to be wiped out. 

 

You try to counter this by trying to harmonize the Gospel chronologically.  However, the genre that the Gospel writers were using did not care about chronology and most of the "discrepancies" are arguments ex silentio. Further, the point about Jewish oral tradition is that the core of the testimony cannot be wiped out so early on as we have in the Gospels.

My fourth point doesn't require that the Gospel writers were themselves witnesses even though I think that they were based on our earliest testimony about them and how the early church picked them out.

 

The fifth point is that the Gospel writers are careful historians.  I don't have enough time to look at every Gospel author, so lets look at Luke for the moment.  In "Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History" by Colin Hemer, he goes through Acts with a fine-toothed comb and finds the confirmation of history to be absolutely overwhelming in historical detail.  Luke is an incredibly accurate and careful historian and so this supports the historicity of the rest of the information he says he investigated.

 

The synoptic Gospels do rely on each other to some extent but when I say "independent" I'm talking about the independent source documents behind the Gospels like "Q", "m", and "L".  Finally, Paul is an independent source when we consider that the information we used comes from other independent bodies as I mentioned is the case in 1 Cor. 15:3-8 whcih provides incredibly early independent attestation to some of the early claims of the Christian church. 

Can rationalization explain the origin of the Disciple's belief in the resurrection?  Clearly not.  If they tried to rationalize the death of Jesus, they would not have claimed he is the risen messiah because that is a contradiction is 1st century Jewish thinking and because of what crucifixion meant when it occured to a religious leader under JEwish law.  So, how do we explain how a group of scared men believing Jesus was a blasphemer and there lives were at risk to martyrs for the unjewish belief in the resurrection? I dare you to find one reputable (and "reputable" is the key term) scholar that deniess the core testimony of the resurrection appearances. 

 

How about the empty tomb?  I gave several lines of argument, none of which was given a careful response.  THe empty tomb is implied in 1 Cor. 15 which means our testimony of it can go within months of the crucifixion itself. Not to mention all the other arguments that I gave that you haven't replied to yet.

 

How about the apostle Paul?  All we have are traditions in the Qaran.  I'm afraid that the historical crebility of these narratives is simply not good enough to establish historicity (if you want to debate the historicity of the Qaran, lets do so) of these events.  Finally, the point about Paul being a persecutor of the early church only provides one more layer of improbability of the hallucination hypothesis.

 

If you think you can build an evidential case for a miracle from the record in the Qaran using the standard methods of historical inquiry, then be my guest.  We don't know much about the historical mohammed and the point about persecution is not at all analagous to the story in the Qaran.  The point of the origin of the belief is how do you acount for the belief in the resurrection despite every theological, social, and practical predisposition to the contrary.  This supports the claim that it at least seemed to the disciple's theat Jesus appeared to them.  When you match the resurrection hypothesis against compeing naturalistic hypotheses, you find the latter to be incompitent every time. 

 


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I am getting tired of this

I am getting tired of this false dichotomy of either/or, when it comes to a beginning vs always existing.

THIS false argument is a dodge that assumes a cognition is needed either way. The fact is that cognition is an emergent property of biological evolution and has nothing to do with the history of the universe.

Assuming a cognition, being required to make all this, is needlessly complex when what nature is showing is that cognition is not required.

It makes much more sense to think of the universe like you would a weather climate. Weather is not caused by a god, but is a manifestation of multiple factors.

Assuming cognition is nothing more than our human history of falsely anthropomorphizing the world around them.

To cut through all mental masturbation crap conspiracies, KISS, "Keep it simple stupid".

Which makes more sense?

1. A magic man made all this?

2. Humans have always had a history of making up and believing in false things?

The first has no way of being tested or independently verified. The second is painfully obvious and has tons of evidence to support it.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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B166ER wrote:That whole OP

B166ER wrote:

That whole OP is just a written example of the Gish Gallup.

My favorite part is this one:

Quaestio wrote:
I'm skeptical that aliens do exist (or at least have evolved enough to be able to do these sorts of things) and so the prior probability of them acting is very low.  Further, aliens are ad hoc and contrived as an explanation.

Yet you see no problem in using magic as a supposed explanation for the universe? Talk about a failure of logic.

This is another problem I see:

Quaestio wrote:
(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers

Wow... just wow...

Just because something is imaginable does not make it possible. We can imagine many things that are in fact not possible, like flapping our arms to fly on this planet or swimming on the surface of the sun. We can imagine Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny actually existing, and many people do, but neither is actually possible. And number 4 there is just ridiculous. All the actual evidence so far points to our minds being a natural product of our brains operating. They are not separate entities like you just assume and treat as logical fact. If you don't believe me, I dare you to shoot yourself in the head while expecting to still be able to think. I doubt you will, as you know as well as I that the probability of your mind continuing to perceive reality after your brain ceases to fire electrical signals is so low as to be impossible. If you disagree, I can loan you a pistol and we can see how dedicated to this idea you really are! But we both know you will not do that since we both know what's waiting on the "other side" of death; oblivion.

Quaestio wrote:
If you don't know what "personal explanation" means, then you are too ignorant to even take a position in this God debate at all because you are clearly ignorant of the literature on the topic.

Oh... I understand what you mean. It's when you just make up shit because you think that your mind is infallible and capable of always discerning reality from hallucination. Oh wait... no, you're just an arrogant piece of shit who insults others intelligence while quoting professional liars ("Dr." William Lane Craig) as if they have anything of substance to offer the debate. By falling back on "personal explanation" you are effectively saying that you have no REAL evidence and that you need to rely on your imagination to clutch at that little safety blanket you call god.

You can discount everything I just posted if you want, since you theists usually put all your interest in tone and not in the substance, but when you start insulting other people's intelligence simply because they don't take your say so, er I mean your "personal explanation", on matters of cosmic significance, then you should be happy that all you have to deal with is my tone. No one here has insulted you personally, they have insulted your idiotic, illogical arguments and absurd baseless claims. You insult people personally for calling you out on having no evidence, which shows just how little power your "argument" actually has.

So yeah, insult me all you want, I really don't care. My feelings don't get hurt when a person claiming magic exists calls me an idiot. I treat it the same as if you were claiming fairies and bigfoot exist and thought of me as an idiot for not accepting your claims. I can imagine I might get a "you're too ignorant to take part in the debate" bullshit non-response, but at least you'll know that you can't call other people idiots for simply calling you on your lack of evidence.

Call me an idiot all you want, as my feelings are not easily hurt, but when you start calling other people's intelligence into question for simply calling you on your illogical assumptions and baseless claims, we have a problem.

 

I'm not calling you "idiotic", I called you "ignorant".  That is not meant to be a personal attack, its meant to inform you that you should not be so vehemently against a belief you haven't read scholarly treatments of.

Seriously, its like fervent political activist who doesn't know what bi-partisan means.  I don't think that person should devote their life to an ideology when they haven't done their homework correctly (demonstrated from the fact that they don't know the relevant lexicon). You are not stupid, you just need to read more sophisticated books.  I don't claim that atheists are unintelligent at all.  People like Quentin Smith, Michael Tooley, and J.L. Mackie are atheistic philosophers that I take VERY seriously.   

 

I never argued that my mind is "infallible".  My case from start to finish has been based on probabilities.  There are two major worldviews that have been discussed in western thought: Naturalism and theism.  If P1 succeeds on the basis the modal argument, NDE's, and Samkara's principle, then I think naturalism (almost by definition) cannot explain consciousness because these argument would show that consciousness is a fundemental property in the universe.  With the principle of sufficient reason I tried to show that consciousness demands an explanation and so this only leaves worldviews which take personal explanations to be at the  foundation of their worldview.  With the only other worldview where consciousness is fundemental is incoherent, theism is the best worldview available to account for consciousness.  Thus, consciousness abductively supports theism over naturalism. 

 

Perhaps I missed it, but I responded to your other arguments too and I don't see a counter from you. 


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There are various proposals

There are various proposals which posit the Big Bang as occurring within a multiverse.

Your assumption that there is 'something' that exists beyond the boundaries of the Big Bang that 'our' Universe is expanding from, simply means you are asserting that reality is not confined to the Big Bang Universe. Timelessness is just a perspective. Even apart from that, a 'timeless' reality does NOT preclude matter or energy in some form, and does NOT only allow 'mind'. In fact it arguably precludes a mind, since thoughts make far less sense than 'matter' in a timeless situation.

Oh, and 'metaphysics' is merely a codification of obsolete ideas about reality.

You have not presented a coherent argument for 'God', which is less explicable than simple potentiality as a prelude and origin of the Big Bang.

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

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

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B166ER wrote:That whole OP

B166ER wrote:

That whole OP is just a written example of the Gish Gallup.

My favorite part is this one:

Quaestio wrote:
I'm skeptical that aliens do exist (or at least have evolved enough to be able to do these sorts of things) and so the prior probability of them acting is very low.  Further, aliens are ad hoc and contrived as an explanation.

Yet you see no problem in using magic as a supposed explanation for the universe? Talk about a failure of logic.

This is another problem I see:

Quaestio wrote:
(1) It is imaginable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(2) It is conceivable that one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(3) It is possible one's mind might exist without one's body.Therefore

(5) One's mind is a different entity from one's body. Although this argument seems like an unconvincing linguistic trick, the jump from P3 to P4 is relatively uncontroversial among professional philosophers

Wow... just wow...

Just because something is imaginable does not make it possible. We can imagine many things that are in fact not possible, like flapping our arms to fly on this planet or swimming on the surface of the sun. We can imagine Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny actually existing, and many people do, but neither is actually possible. And number 4 there is just ridiculous. All the actual evidence so far points to our minds being a natural product of our brains operating. They are not separate entities like you just assume and treat as logical fact. If you don't believe me, I dare you to shoot yourself in the head while expecting to still be able to think. I doubt you will, as you know as well as I that the probability of your mind continuing to perceive reality after your brain ceases to fire electrical signals is so low as to be impossible. If you disagree, I can loan you a pistol and we can see how dedicated to this idea you really are! But we both know you will not do that since we both know what's waiting on the "other side" of death; oblivion.

Quaestio wrote:
If you don't know what "personal explanation" means, then you are too ignorant to even take a position in this God debate at all because you are clearly ignorant of the literature on the topic.

Oh... I understand what you mean. It's when you just make up shit because you think that your mind is infallible and capable of always discerning reality from hallucination. Oh wait... no, you're just an arrogant piece of shit who insults others intelligence while quoting professional liars ("Dr." William Lane Craig) as if they have anything of substance to offer the debate. By falling back on "personal explanation" you are effectively saying that you have no REAL evidence and that you need to rely on your imagination to clutch at that little safety blanket you call god.

You can discount everything I just posted if you want, since you theists usually put all your interest in tone and not in the substance, but when you start insulting other people's intelligence simply because they don't take your say so, er I mean your "personal explanation", on matters of cosmic significance, then you should be happy that all you have to deal with is my tone. No one here has insulted you personally, they have insulted your idiotic, illogical arguments and absurd baseless claims. You insult people personally for calling you out on having no evidence, which shows just how little power your "argument" actually has.

So yeah, insult me all you want, I really don't care. My feelings don't get hurt when a person claiming magic exists calls me an idiot. I treat it the same as if you were claiming fairies and bigfoot exist and thought of me as an idiot for not accepting your claims. I can imagine I might get a "you're too ignorant to take part in the debate" bullshit non-response, but at least you'll know that you can't call other people idiots for simply calling you on your lack of evidence.

Call me an idiot all you want, as my feelings are not easily hurt, but when you start calling other people's intelligence into question for simply calling you on your illogical assumptions and baseless claims, we have a problem.

 

How about aliens?  Well, as an explanation they are heavily ad hoc and contrived.  Not to mention implausible.  You try to brush away my argument by asserting that "magic" is not a good explanation.  We both know this is simply a pejorative rhetorical trick.  Now, please deal with the arguments and evidence given.  Remember, P(M/B) is only as low as the conjunction of two claims:

 

(1) God exists

(2) God wishes to reveal himself in a way that is not mistakable by man or nature

Interestingly enough, you have not given an argument to think (1) or (2) is *that* low which is necessary given the powerful posterior probability of R and the nature of the burden of proof in confirmation theory. 

 

As for the modal argument, lest we be thrust into modal skepticism, what else besided conceivability can be our guide to logical possibility?  Further, you confuse physical possibility with logical possibility. The former is not a necessary condition for the latter.  Unless you think identity is a contingent property, then the mere logical possibility that minds can exist without brains prove that minds and brains are not identical. 

 

As for you "witty" pistol illustration, I do not fear death but I consider it to be immoral to kill yourself when you have theological purposes left in this life. 

 


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BobSpence1 wrote:There are

BobSpence1 wrote:

There are various proposals which posit the Big Bang as occurring within a multiverse.

Your assumption that there is 'something' that exists beyond the boundaries of the Big Bang that 'our' Universe is expanding from, simply means you are asserting that reality is not confined to the Big Bang Universe. Timelessness is just a perspective. Even apart from that, a 'timeless' reality does NOT preclude matter or energy in some form, and does NOT only allow 'mind'. In fact it arguably precludes a mind, since thoughts make far less sense than 'matter' in a timeless situation.

Oh, and 'metaphysics' is merely a codification of obsolete ideas about reality.

You have not presented a coherent argument for 'God', which is less explicable than simple potentiality as a prelude and origin of the Big Bang.

 

I realize that there are cosmological models which posit that our space-time universe is part of the multiverse.  According  Borde, Guth, Vilenkin theorem, any universe (or multiverse) which has a non-zero expansion rate must have begun to exist.  This theorem shows that even the multiverse must have begun to exist. I recommend checking out the Blackwell Companion to NAtural Theology.  John Sinclair surveys all of the current proposals and shows that none of them escapes the absolute beginning of the universe. 

Matter exists in space and functions in time and so cannot exist beyond the singularity (from the definition of singularity).  However, a mind which is a nonphysical entity can perfectly coherently exist causally prior to the universe.  God was not thinking before the universe and so there is no incoherence there.  Rather, the idea is that God's first thought of creation is simultaneous with the first instant of time. 


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'Aliens' as an explanation

'Aliens' as an explanation for the miracles is certainly contrived, just less so that the God hypothesis.

God is an incoherent concept.

Conceiveability is NOT a criterion for logical possibility. Logical possibility is determined by analysing the propositions logically, you F**kwit.

If conceivability were the criterion, the two most successfully confirmed theories of the 20th century would not have got off the ground - I refer to Relativity and Quantum Theory.

It is a hallmark of much modern physics and cosmology that it is beyond what we can conceive, but is confirmed by observation and experiment and mathematical analysis.

You are clearly demonstrating the bankruptcy of Theism in the modern understanding.

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

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

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

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BobSpence1 wrote:We know

BobSpence1 wrote:

We know that the probability that basic self-replicating molecules can emerge from more basic components and chemicals is 100%. It has been observed. This is the basic requirement for the evolutionary algorithm to kick in, allowing indefinitely more complex organisms to emerge.

There are now known to likely be billions of habitable planets in the Universe, so the probability of at least one being suitable for us to emerge cannot be assumed to be negligible a priori.

Their is nothing 'probable' about a God' - anything defined with infinities is already extremely problematic. Since as a local 'designer' it is not necessary, we can safely dismiss the idea until you can present positive evidence for such an entity.

It is another logical fallacy to base an assessment of likelihood on your personal inability to conceive of something as possible or likely.

I think that could be classified as an 'argument from ignorance', or an 'argument from incredulity'.

 

 

How about aliens and the resurrection?  The point here is that first you have to get life on another planet  and you have to propose that these aliens evolved intelligent capable of performing such an action.  This is only the beginning, if you want to maintain an alien hypothesis, you must keep on inventing ad hoc hypotheses in order to even get the potentiality of them to account for the resurrection.  

Besides being enormously ad hoc, a simple principle of abduction is that we ought to prefer explanations for which there is independent evidence and fits the context of the situation.  In any case, P(R/B + P, D, and E) does not need to even be >.5 in order to see how these facts provide evidence for T.  Even if R is not the best explanation, the degree of confirmation of R still goes in T's favor.

You still have not told me which of my two propositions makes P(M/B) *so* low.  Something occured to Jesus and I gave several pieces of evidence to suppose that naturalistic explanations like hallucinations fail.  So, what do you think happened? 

 

Why do you think God's "infinity attributes" are problematic.  Don't forget that these properties are defined qualitatively, not quantitatively. 

 

You say there is nothing probable about the design hypothesis.  However, P(LPU/T) is approximitely 1.  Contrued in terms of epistemic probability and application of the principle of indifference to the fine-tuned parameters, P(LPU/N) is extraordinarily improbable.  By the likelihood principle, the degree of difference between the ability of these two hypotheses to account for the evidence is the same degree of confirmation these hypotheses get.  I.e., the fine-tuning gives T very high posterior probability. 


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The God hypothesis is not

The God hypothesis is not contrived given the historico-religio context in which the resurrection occured and I think we have good independent evidence to think that God exists.

 

Anything that does not imply a contradiction is conceivable.  Unless you want to maintain that quantum mechanics is both logically impossible and true, then your point here is void.  The same goes with relativity. 

It seems fairly obvious that it is *logically* possible that John Mccain could have won the presidential election, no? IF you can conceive of a situation and it seems coherent then there is prima facie justification for thinking that it is logically possible.  Anything that does not imply a contradiction is logically possible and so imaginability and NDE's, by samkara's principle, give further prima facie evidence that it is possible that we can exist without our physical bodies. 

 


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Quaestio wrote:Okay, lets

Quaestio wrote:

Okay, lets take each argument, one at a time.  Fist of all, in current cosmogonical models, the singularity represents a boundary to space time that represents a point before which nothing existed.  However, even on models without the singularity (like Hawking's model) there is still a beginning, albeit not a defined beginning point. 

 

P4 is not simply an assertion, it is a premise that is argued for.  In fact, you later read my argument and try to respond to it.  I'm using the word "being" in the standard broad way that metaphysicians use it.  It simply means "something that exists".  You are mistaken about current models of cosmological origin.  The singularity literally represents a boundary to physical time and space and so the attributes of incorporeality follow nicely. 

I'm not exactly sure what your criticism of the modal argument for dualism was.  The argument only requires that it is logically possible for us to exist outside of our bodies because of the necessity of identity.  Possibly not identity entails not identity.  We must keep in mind Kripke's concept of rigid designators too.

 

The point about NDE's is that it is impossible, in principle, to explain them by pure reductionist brain science.  I'm arguing that the verifiable aspect of NDE's makes them implausibly attributed to hallucinations and so they represent a real objective experience.  This is especially powerful in some of the cases recounted by Michael Sabom where patients have these experiences during flat EEG readings.

 

As for the reliability of the Gospels, you mistakenly say that they are not based on eye-witness testimony. Many of the sources used by the Gospel Authors date much earlier and are based on eye-witness testimony like the pre-Markan passion narrative.  Further, we do have extrabiblical sources for Jesus.  Finally, we have evidence from Paul's epistles and particularly the Apostle's creed cited in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 that dates within a few years of the resurrection and was received directly from the apostle Peter.  So, we have plenty of early information from the church that was based on eye-witness testimony.

 

The first point I made about the reliability of the Gospels was that there wasn't enough time for embellishment.  As for the actual manuscript evidence, there is no reputable scholar who doubts that the text of the NT is less than 99% accurate to what the original authors wrote down.  In any case, the sources behind the Gospels close the gap along with the reliable nature of Jewish oral tradition.  Many historians believe it takes several generations for the historical core of a piece of sacred oral tradition, in a community like 1st century Palestine, to be wiped out. 

 

You try to counter this by trying to harmonize the Gospel chronologically.  However, the genre that the Gospel writers were using did not care about chronology and most of the "discrepancies" are arguments ex silentio. Further, the point about Jewish oral tradition is that the core of the testimony cannot be wiped out so early on as we have in the Gospels.

My fourth point doesn't require that the Gospel writers were themselves witnesses even though I think that they were based on our earliest testimony about them and how the early church picked them out.

 

The fifth point is that the Gospel writers are careful historians.  I don't have enough time to look at every Gospel author, so lets look at Luke for the moment.  In "Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History" by Colin Hemer, he goes through Acts with a fine-toothed comb and finds the confirmation of history to be absolutely overwhelming in historical detail.  Luke is an incredibly accurate and careful historian and so this supports the historicity of the rest of the information he says he investigated.

 

The synoptic Gospels do rely on each other to some extent but when I say "independent" I'm talking about the independent source documents behind the Gospels like "Q", "m", and "L".  Finally, Paul is an independent source when we consider that the information we used comes from other independent bodies as I mentioned is the case in 1 Cor. 15:3-8 whcih provides incredibly early independent attestation to some of the early claims of the Christian church. 

Can rationalization explain the origin of the Disciple's belief in the resurrection?  Clearly not.  If they tried to rationalize the death of Jesus, they would not have claimed he is the risen messiah because that is a contradiction is 1st century Jewish thinking and because of what crucifixion meant when it occured to a religious leader under JEwish law.  So, how do we explain how a group of scared men believing Jesus was a blasphemer and there lives were at risk to martyrs for the unjewish belief in the resurrection? I dare you to find one reputable (and "reputable" is the key term) scholar that deniess the core testimony of the resurrection appearances. 

 

How about the empty tomb?  I gave several lines of argument, none of which was given a careful response.  THe empty tomb is implied in 1 Cor. 15 which means our testimony of it can go within months of the crucifixion itself. Not to mention all the other arguments that I gave that you haven't replied to yet.

 

How about the apostle Paul?  All we have are traditions in the Qaran.  I'm afraid that the historical crebility of these narratives is simply not good enough to establish historicity (if you want to debate the historicity of the Qaran, lets do so) of these events.  Finally, the point about Paul being a persecutor of the early church only provides one more layer of improbability of the hallucination hypothesis.

 

If you think you can build an evidential case for a miracle from the record in the Qaran using the standard methods of historical inquiry, then be my guest.  We don't know much about the historical mohammed and the point about persecution is not at all analagous to the story in the Qaran.  The point of the origin of the belief is how do you acount for the belief in the resurrection despite every theological, social, and practical predisposition to the contrary.  This supports the claim that it at least seemed to the disciple's theat Jesus appeared to them.  When you match the resurrection hypothesis against compeing naturalistic hypotheses, you find the latter to be incompitent every time. 

 

I'm not going to refute your cosmological argument because a simple google search will provide you with plenty of scientifically backed alternatives that you choose to ignore, and Bob has done a very good job refuting, which you also choose to ignore.  I'm used to this strategy from theists.  Another point that you have absolutely no philosophical or logical reason for is the non sequitur that an assumed cause is your biblical God...

I mean you insult Butter's intelligence and then you use a concept that you understand poorly to attempt to prove something that is so ridiculous as to be idiotic.  Do you see the irony?

As for the rest of your rant on biblical historicity, let's take a step back and reiterate what you're defending.  I'm not even going to touch the OT because it is a poorly written inconsistent fairy tale.  On with NT then, I'm going to take some liberties with English here to emphasize my point.

Ok, so you got this chick right, and she's a virgin cuz she's like 13 or something, oh and she's married, but her husband had cockrot so his dick fell off.  Ok, so she gets pregnant, but, get this, she didn't cheat on the guy.  She's a pregnant virgin, cuz she swore she didn't cheat, but some ghost came to her and made sweet lovin' and got her knocked up.  

Ok so she has this baby that's all special and stuff, so he grows up and goes all David Blaine on his friends.  He goes on to perform all those miracles that resemble shit other gods did in Greek/Roman/Egyptian mythology so they all know that he's the real deal and he's the son of God.  They worship him and follow his ass around but then he pisses off the Man, and the man gets all mean on his ass and puts him up on the cross until he dies.  

This is where it goes all crazy, this dude that they just killed, I think his name is Jeebus or Jamus or something like that, well this dude won't stay dead, cuz like 3 days after, his grave is all open and dude is GONE, I know crazy right? but get this, they know he's like the son of god because... I mean this dude was like uber David Blaine, so you know he HAD to have been taken up by his daddy, I mean what other explanation is there for an empty grave right? it's not like some other people could have dug his ass up... could they?

Anyways, so these cool cats sit on this story and let it simmer for about 65 years or sum such shit, and then some dude decides that ok, he's got over his writer block and he'll go ahead and write this shit down once and for all.  And he writes all the shit he remembers that a bunch of people told him.  And then some other dudes, a few years later get over their writer block and get inspired by the first story, and write their shit down.

And then, about 300 years later the Man realizes this is a good story cuz a bunch of ppl already believe it, so they go all editor on this story, and cut out all the shit they don't like, and come  up with this awesome book, it's called the Biblee, or Byble or something like that.  

What you don't believe me? what about this cosmological argument I poorly understand? doesn't that give you enough evidence to prove my above mentioned story is true?... what do you mean you don't believe me, you're an idiot for not believing.

 

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Quaestio wrote:The God

Quaestio wrote:

The God hypothesis is not contrived given the historico-religio context in which the resurrection occured and I think we have good independent evidence to think that God exists.

 

Anything that does not imply a contradiction is conceivable.  Unless you want to maintain that quantum mechanics is both logically impossible and true, then your point here is void.  The same goes with relativity. 

It seems fairly obvious that it is *logically* possible that John Mccain could have won the presidential election, no? IF you can conceive of a situation and it seems coherent then there is prima facie justification for thinking that it is logically possible.  Anything that does not imply a contradiction is logically possible and so imaginability and NDE's, by samkara's principle, give further prima facie evidence that it is possible that we can exist without our physical bodies. 

 

So because people have imagined gods, it is logically possible that those gods existed before they were imagined?

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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Paisley? That you?

Paisley? That you?

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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You keep on with this utter

You keep on with this utter crap about "conceivability", and imaginability", which is utterly invalid and moronic.

To repeat, possibility is established by logical analysis. Conceivability is totally, utterly irrelevant.

The evidence for the reality of the mind actually leaving the body is essentially zero. The mind does not have organs of vision - these remain with the body, so reports of what can be seen by the 'disembodied' mind are not relevant, quite apart from the fact they frequently have failed to report things deliberately left in places that they should have been able to see if they really were floating up near the ceiling looking at their body as is often reported.

At best, they may be evidence for clairvoyance or mind-reading, although there are few that have provided anything approaching good evidence . The same feelings of leaving the body can be readily triggered by 'virtual reality' headsets giving the wearer a view of their own body from outside, so it is a psychological, mental phenomena, not evidence for a disembodied mind.

Have you read Susan Blackmore on NDE's? She started as inclined to believe it and the more she studied the less convinced she became.

So just like the uncertainty about the very existence of Jesus as portrayed in the NT, you are trying to build a mountain from sand.

The empty tomb is not evidence for a resurrection - it is irrelevant. The only thing that points to a resurrection are the reported sightings, and there are plenty of reasons to cast doubt on the veracity of those. We have had contemporary sightings of Elvis also - human memory and eye-witness testimony are very weak foundations for arguing anything beyond the most mundane of events.

Your dishonest attempt to try and mathematically combine a few crumbs of possibility into a solid case is a joke. You don't have remotely enough solid evidence after 2000 years and countless opportunities for tampering with the 'evidence', combined with very strong psychological pressure for believers to bolster the case for something they were immovably convinced had occurred, to justify that detailed manipulation.

In computer terms, even if your math is flawless, its 'Garbage in Garbage out".

If you seriously want to pursue this line of argument honestly, there are vast amounts of justification for an absence of such a God, supposed to be truly concerned about us, when you take into account all the disasters visited upon us,  a world with many nasty diseases and parasites which a God would have been responsible for if he existed, and so on. Throw those into your program and it will swamp your efforts to build a case on the crumbs of vague possibility you can harvest from 2000 years ago.

Pretty much everything we know about the history of the world and the history and nature and scale of the universe is far more plausible in the absence of your God, so I am fully justified in concluding there is none.

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

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The amount of baseless theistic assumptions here is astounding !

Before I begin, I'm sorry about any "inappropriate" language that I used in earlier posts, not because I think it was wrong, but because I just noticed this is the Kill 'em with Kindness section! Not trying to break the rules of the section, as I see the utility in having a place where people don't feel under personal attack.

On to the topic at hand.

This is getting ridiculous! From metaphysics to near death experiences to magic man in sky beyond universe, all the kook cards are getting put on the table, which just goes to show how "logical" you really are.

Quaestio wrote:
I'm not exactly sure what your criticism of the modal argument for dualism was.  The argument only requires that it is logically possible for us to exist outside of our bodies because of the necessity of identity.  Possibly not identity entails not identity.  We must keep in mind Kripke's concept of rigid designators too.

The point about NDE's is that it is impossible, in principle, to explain them by pure reductionist brain science.  I'm arguing that the verifiable aspect of NDE's makes them implausibly attributed to hallucinations and so they represent a real objective experience.  This is especially powerful in some of the cases recounted by Michael Sabom where patients have these experiences during flat EEG readings.

You keep talking about the logical nature of illogical things. That's where our criticisms come from. There is absolutely no evidence that our minds in any way can be divorced from our brains, period. No matter how many word games you play, it doesn't change that fact. And you are very wrong that NDE's can't be explained by "pure reductionist brain science". What about the NASA testing that showed a surprising amount of their astronauts in training had them as their brains lost all their blood, usually at about 8 gees and above in the centrifuge? The last part is the funniest thing. So someone has an experience that personally to them seems very long but is in fact not as long in reality, and this is something fundamentally different from dreams how?

Quaestio wrote:
As for the reliability of the Gospels, you mistakenly say that they are not based on eye-witness testimony.

I'm afraid you are making unsubstantiated claims which lack evidence. Evidence needed.

Quaestio wrote:
Further, we do have extrabiblical sources for Jesus.

Again, I have never seen this evidence and you need to show me before I think you're not just another liar for Jesus. Sorry, but I have heard this many times, and whenever I ask for the actual evidence, the subject is quickly changed (but not by me!)

So again, don't just tell us you have it, show us this evidence.

Quaestio wrote:
The first point I made about the reliability of the Gospels was that there wasn't enough time for embellishment.

So you have never played the children's game known as Telephone or Chinese Whispers? Little time used, lots of embellishment. So what was the point you made again?

Quaestio wrote:
As for the actual manuscript evidence, there is no reputable scholar who doubts that the text of the NT is less than 99% accurate to what the original authors wrote down.

Wow, that is without evidence completely unless by "reputable scholars" you mean people who already believe the whole thing to be true and need to rationalize how crazy the entire story sounds even to themselves.

Quaestio wrote:
reliable nature of Jewish oral tradition

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Again, Telephone or Chinese Whispers. And Jewish people are in no way more immune to errors in communication then others, let alone the use of fables and myth, as much as you may try to believe otherwise.

Quaestio wrote:
Finally, Paul is an independent source when we consider that the information we used comes from other independent bodies as I mentioned is the case in 1 Cor. 15:3-8 whcih provides incredibly early independent attestation to some of the early claims of the Christian church. 

No, he was an incredibly biased source. Would you say L. Ron Hubbard is an "independent source" when it comes to Scientology? Or that if Muhammad actually existed, that he was an "independent source" when the subject of Islam comes up? Same with Jesus, if he existed. I doubt you will agree, but it just goes to show how very biased you are in favor of your tribe's document over others.

Quaestio wrote:
Can rationalization explain the origin of the Disciple's belief in the resurrection?  Clearly not. If they tried to rationalize the death of Jesus, they would not have claimed he is the risen messiah because that is a contradiction is 1st century Jewish thinking and because of what crucifixion meant when it occured to a religious leader under JEwish law.  So, how do we explain how a group of scared men believing Jesus was a blasphemer and there lives were at risk to martyrs for the unjewish belief in the resurrection? I dare you to find one reputable (and "reputable" is the key term) scholar that deniess the core testimony of the resurrection appearances.

You are taking their unverifiable claims at face value and without evidence. Sorry, but we require more then "just so" stories.

And I think by "reputable" you mean "already agrees with you" which totally demolishes the reputable part!

You may not require evidence for the claims you accept, but we do. You seem take the Bible as a reliable historical document but if so, then where is the evidence.

You can play all the word games you want, but until you back up your philosophical mind games with some evidence I see no reason to take your claims as anything other then pleas from a person trying to rationalize the fairy tales contained within a book of mythology as fact. It's not working.

"This may shock you, but not everything in the bible is true." The only true statement ever to be uttered by Jean Chauvinism, sociopathic emotional terrorist.
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dictate the ends in which you find yourself."
"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme leadership derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!"
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clearing up misconceptions, responding to counter-arguments

I think I will skip the childish name calling and fallacious "appeals to mockery" and get down to business. 

First off, you accuse the modal argument of being a word game.  Surprisingly, the only controversial premise in this argument is that belief that conceivability entails logical possibility.  The rest of the argument flows from the nature of identiy.  If two propositions are identical, then what is true of one necessarily is true of the other.  However, if it is logically possible that the mind can exist without the body, then the mind and body have different modal properties.  Aka, they are not identical. None of this is controversial to someone who understands modality.  Read the stanford encyclopedia article I cited in my opening statement. 

However, is it really much of a stretch to say that it is merely logically possible that the mind exists outside of the body? It seems impossible to conceive of something logically impossible (can you image a square circle?) and so the fact that we can conceive of existence without our bodies, then it is logically possible that we can exist outside of our bodies and the rest of the argument follows uncontroversially. 

 

Academic philosophers take this stuff seriously, I recommend you do to.

 

I already responded to your point about NASA's pilots in my opening statement.  Actually read the whole thing this time and come back.

 

How about the reliability of the Gospels?  Actually, historians as a whole believe many of the sources are based on eye-witness testimony like the pre-markan passion source.  We know from Luke that he interviewed eye-witnesses and we know the Apostle's creed came from PEter.  These are accepted historical facts, don't let those "scholars" like those people in the "God who wasn't there" documentary fool you. 

Extrabiblical sources come from people like Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, Tacitus' Annals, and some writings from Pliny the younger.  Also, the Gospels are written by disciple's of Jesus or people close to the movement and NT historians realize that these are our primary source documents.  Again, don't get caught in propoganda that leads you to believe that only extrabiblical sources count.  That wouldn't fly at any respected university and it won't fly here.  (watch the yale course on NT history if you don't want to take my word for it).  This reasoning would make us doubt the historicity of Socates simply because our primary source documents are written by his disciples. 

 

How about oral tradition?  You bringing up that game telephone made me giggle a little bit because I remember listening to a lecture once where the scholar said something along the lines of, "So, don't think about this(Jewish oral tradition) like the children's game telephone...".  I think it was in the Yale NT course so I would check there for the exact quote.

 

How about the manuscript reliability of the NT?  Well, no, I got this statistic from Bart Erhman, an atheist historian who spends a lot of his time debating Christians on the resurrection of Jesus and writings books against Christianity.  "The infidel Guy" interviews Bart Erhman.  The interview is actually quite funny because the infidel guy tries to get Bart to explain how unreliable the NT is and Bart corrects his blind ignorance and acceptance of propoganda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRx0N4GF0AY

 

Is Paul and independent source? Well, yes.  The criterion of multiple attestation basically says that if multiple people say things independent of each other, then it becomes less probable that the event was made up.  The crieria of authenticity were actually developed by scholars specifically to find out what we can know about the historical Jesus despite the apparent bias of the authors.  I recommend checking out that article I cited that gives a good intro to how historians find things out about the historical Jesus.

 

By "reputable", I mean any scholar that has a proper education and is taken seriously by their peers.  This includes radical biblical critics, atheist scholars, Christian scholars, etc.  As for evidence that the Gospels are reliable, I've given you five lines that have convinced some scholars of the general reliability of the Gospels.  So far, every objection you've made of those five lines seems to be based on ignorance or a misunderstanding. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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BobSpence1 wrote:You keep on

BobSpence1 wrote:

You keep on with this utter crap about "conceivability", and imaginability", which is utterly invalid and moronic.

To repeat, possibility is established by logical analysis. Conceivability is totally, utterly irrelevant.

The evidence for the reality of the mind actually leaving the body is essentially zero. The mind does not have organs of vision - these remain with the body, so reports of what can be seen by the 'disembodied' mind are not relevant, quite apart from the fact they frequently have failed to report things deliberately left in places that they should have been able to see if they really were floating up near the ceiling looking at their body as is often reported.

At best, they may be evidence for clairvoyance or mind-reading, although there are few that have provided anything approaching good evidence . The same feelings of leaving the body can be readily triggered by 'virtual reality' headsets giving the wearer a view of their own body from outside, so it is a psychological, mental phenomena, not evidence for a disembodied mind.

Have you read Susan Blackmore on NDE's? She started as inclined to believe it and the more she studied the less convinced she became.

So just like the uncertainty about the very existence of Jesus as portrayed in the NT, you are trying to build a mountain from sand.

The empty tomb is not evidence for a resurrection - it is irrelevant. The only thing that points to a resurrection are the reported sightings, and there are plenty of reasons to cast doubt on the veracity of those. We have had contemporary sightings of Elvis also - human memory and eye-witness testimony are very weak foundations for arguing anything beyond the most mundane of events.

Your dishonest attempt to try and mathematically combine a few crumbs of possibility into a solid case is a joke. You don't have remotely enough solid evidence after 2000 years and countless opportunities for tampering with the 'evidence', combined with very strong psychological pressure for believers to bolster the case for something they were immovably convinced had occurred, to justify that detailed manipulation.

In computer terms, even if your math is flawless, its 'Garbage in Garbage out".

If you seriously want to pursue this line of argument honestly, there are vast amounts of justification for an absence of such a God, supposed to be truly concerned about us, when you take into account all the disasters visited upon us,  a world with many nasty diseases and parasites which a God would have been responsible for if he existed, and so on. Throw those into your program and it will swamp your efforts to build a case on the crumbs of vague possibility you can harvest from 2000 years ago.

Pretty much everything we know about the history of the world and the history and nature and scale of the universe is far more plausible in the absence of your God, so I am fully justified in concluding there is none.

 

Conceivability entails possibility because it is impossible to conceive of an impossible object.  Apparent conceivability gives prima facie evidence for possibility.  "Moronic"? Would you call atheist philosopher Shelly Kagan moronic?  He takes this argument seriously.  Saul Kripke, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, took this argument seriously.  How about Alvin Plantinga, he thinks this argument is sound.  Is he, considered by professional atheist and theist philosophers to be the finest philosopher of religion of the 20th century, is moronic? 

 

I'll update this post later that will deal with the rest of your criticisms.


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Quaestio wrote:BobSpence1

Quaestio wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

You keep on with this utter crap about "conceivability", and imaginability", which is utterly invalid and moronic.

To repeat, possibility is established by logical analysis. Conceivability is totally, utterly irrelevant.

The evidence for the reality of the mind actually leaving the body is essentially zero. The mind does not have organs of vision - these remain with the body, so reports of what can be seen by the 'disembodied' mind are not relevant, quite apart from the fact they frequently have failed to report things deliberately left in places that they should have been able to see if they really were floating up near the ceiling looking at their body as is often reported.

At best, they may be evidence for clairvoyance or mind-reading, although there are few that have provided anything approaching good evidence . The same feelings of leaving the body can be readily triggered by 'virtual reality' headsets giving the wearer a view of their own body from outside, so it is a psychological, mental phenomena, not evidence for a disembodied mind.

Have you read Susan Blackmore on NDE's? She started as inclined to believe it and the more she studied the less convinced she became.

So just like the uncertainty about the very existence of Jesus as portrayed in the NT, you are trying to build a mountain from sand.

The empty tomb is not evidence for a resurrection - it is irrelevant. The only thing that points to a resurrection are the reported sightings, and there are plenty of reasons to cast doubt on the veracity of those. We have had contemporary sightings of Elvis also - human memory and eye-witness testimony are very weak foundations for arguing anything beyond the most mundane of events.

Your dishonest attempt to try and mathematically combine a few crumbs of possibility into a solid case is a joke. You don't have remotely enough solid evidence after 2000 years and countless opportunities for tampering with the 'evidence', combined with very strong psychological pressure for believers to bolster the case for something they were immovably convinced had occurred, to justify that detailed manipulation.

In computer terms, even if your math is flawless, its 'Garbage in Garbage out".

If you seriously want to pursue this line of argument honestly, there are vast amounts of justification for an absence of such a God, supposed to be truly concerned about us, when you take into account all the disasters visited upon us,  a world with many nasty diseases and parasites which a God would have been responsible for if he existed, and so on. Throw those into your program and it will swamp your efforts to build a case on the crumbs of vague possibility you can harvest from 2000 years ago.

Pretty much everything we know about the history of the world and the history and nature and scale of the universe is far more plausible in the absence of your God, so I am fully justified in concluding there is none.

 

Conceivability entails possibility because it is impossible to conceive of an impossible object.  Apparent conceivability gives prima facie evidence for possibility.  "Moronic"? Would you call atheist philosopher Shelly Kagan moronic?  He takes this argument seriously.  Saul Kripke, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, took this argument seriously.  How about Alvin Plantinga, he thinks this argument is sound.  Is he, considered by professional atheist and theist philosophers to be the finest philosopher of religion of the 20th century, is moronic? 

 

I'll update this post later that will deal with the rest of your criticisms.

So you do think that God is real because men dreamed him up?

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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Quaestio

Quaestio wrote:

 

Conceivability entails possibility because it is impossible to conceive of an impossible object.  Apparent conceivability gives prima facie evidence for possibility.  "Moronic"? Would you call atheist philosopher Shelly Kagan moronic?  He takes this argument seriously.  Saul Kripke, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, took this argument seriously.  How about Alvin Plantinga, he thinks this argument is sound.  Is he, considered by professional atheist and theist philosophers to be the finest philosopher of religion of the 20th century, is moronic? 

 

I'll update this post later that will deal with the rest of your criticisms.

 

Appeal to authority - well, we can do that, too.  As in there are authorities who don't agree with you and are easy to find.  So who's authority is most right?  Oh, yours.  Because you like what they say.

As other people have demonstrated for you - I can conceive of lots of things that are - as far as we know - nonexistent.  Pink unicorns - not toys, but real, live ones.  Invisible dragons.  Tinkerbell and her relatives, not cartoons, but real, live, breathing.  God/s/dess, Jesus and disciples, moons made of green cheese, aliens that are like the ones in Mars Attacks, aliens like the ones in E.T., Thor, Zeus, Loki, Coyote, Hellboy, Sailor Moon, etc.

Why is your god/s/dess so much better than Kali Durga?  Or The Morrigan?  Lord Shiva also created the universe, according to Hindu myth.  Why not worship him? 
 

Just because you think the judeo-christian god satisfies your prejudices best, doesn't mean s/he/it/they exist. 

As for updating, why bother?  You have said it all and no one is buying it.  If the atheist you are going to debate has two brain cells to rub together, you will be demolished in 30 seconds and you won't even realize it.  Whatever you think you are going to accomplish in this debate, you probably won't, but will convince yourself that you have done it.

Try this book:  Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why we Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.  There is a chapter on religion.

http://www.amazon.com/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0156033909/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1297617765&sr=8-2

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


B166ER
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You just made every kid in a western society very happy!

Quaestio wrote:
It seems impossible to conceive of something logically impossible

So by that "logic" it is entirely possible (and necessary) that Santa Clause exists and can visit all the houses in the world (at least the houses that believe in him, funny how that happens) in one night. You just made every kid in the western world that celebrates Christmas very happy, since they can all imagine it as well as I or anyone else, and you think that makes it possible and real.

I can already see the headlines in the newspaper:

"Quaestio proves Santa Clause is real! Kids around the western world rejoice, at least the good kids! Rates of kids covered in coal dust sky rockets!"

Your pleas that your fairy tales are real are no less ridiculous then anyone else's appeals that their fairy tales are real, you are just too biased to look at it from an outside perspective.

Now if you would like to back up your word games with some actual evidence, then I will cease calling them by that title. But as long as you are making baseless assertions with no evidence to back them up, we are not convinced.

Quaestio wrote:
Academic philosophers take this stuff seriously, I recommend you do to.

If those academic philosophers don't require hard evidence for claims they accept, then no, I will not accept the things they do, no matter how much you recommend me to. Philosophy is great, but only when it's based in reality and has the chance of helping us solve the problems we face as a species, which is only possible when based on the best evidence available and not simply on semantics.

Quaestio wrote:
Again, don't get caught in propoganda that leads you to believe that only extrabiblical sources count.

Ah, ok. Then something making claims can be considered evidence in and of itself? Then all the Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, Gays, and others are inferior to Pure Aryans(TM), since Mein Kampf said so, and the fact that other sources don't back that "fact" up doesn't mean that it is untrue. Sorry, but that doesn't fly here. I require outside evidence backing up the claims made before I accept the claims of any source.

Quaestio wrote:
How about oral tradition?  You bringing up that game telephone made me giggle a little bit because I remember listening to a lecture once where the scholar said something along the lines of, "So, don't think about this(Jewish oral tradition) like the children's game telephone...".  I think it was in the Yale NT course so I would check there for the exact quote.

Yeah, that scholar wasn't biased at all and in no way had a vested interest in the Jewish stories having a basis in reality as a scholar (and most likely believer) in the New Testament. Yeah riiiight...

Quaestio wrote:
The criterion of multiple attestation basically says that if multiple people say things independent of each other, then it becomes less probable that the event was made up.

By that "logic", it is probable that the moon landing was faked and Elvis is still alive. Again, your word games don't equal evidence.

Quaestio wrote:
By "reputable", I mean any scholar that has a proper education and is taken seriously by their peers.  This includes radical biblical critics, atheist scholars, Christian scholars, etc.  As for evidence that the Gospels are reliable, I've given you five lines that have convinced some scholars of the general reliability of the Gospels.  So far, every objection you've made of those five lines seems to be based on ignorance or a misunderstanding.

No, all our objections revolve around all your claims being simply appeals from authority. You say that because some academic scholars agree with your pre-conceived biases, then you don't need any hard evidence for your claims. Sorry, but that doesn't fly if you want to be taken seriously.

So again, bring some hard evidence to back up the semantics or we will treat you like anyone else simply playing word games.

"This may shock you, but not everything in the bible is true." The only true statement ever to be uttered by Jean Chauvinism, sociopathic emotional terrorist.
"A Boss in Heaven is the best excuse for a boss on earth, therefore If God did exist, he would have to be abolished." Mikhail Bakunin
"The means in which you take,
dictate the ends in which you find yourself."
"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme leadership derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!"
No Gods, No Masters!


Kapkao
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Quaestio

Quaestio wrote:

Conceivability entails possibility because it is impossible to conceive of an impossible object.  Apparent conceivability gives prima facie evidence for possibility.  "Moronic"? Would you call atheist philosopher Shelly Kagan moronic?  He takes this argument seriously.

I don't take philosophy seriously because as Bobspence so insightfully points out, "It's just somebody's opinion." And I'm not inclined to give a damn about someone just because they claim to be atheist.

As far as Bobspence is concerned, I believe the only philosopher he cared for was someone called "Hume".

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


BobSpence
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Philosophy ia mostly word

Philosophy ia mostly word games, not based on empirical evidence, and most philosophy is, and has been, wrong. I used to be 'into' philosophy, but by now, the more examples I hear or read of what various philosophers have claimed, the less respect I have for the 'discipline', with a few notable exceptions. 

Hume is certainly one, but I also include Russell and Dennett, because of the way they approach things, and their respect for empirical research, ie Science.

It has value as a source of new ways of thinking abut things, but the flip side of that is that most of what it comes up with is bunk, like with 'brain-storming'. It needs to be filtered through the disciplines of reality, and where applicable, empirical testing.

As already pointed out, it most definitely IS possible to conceive of what is logically impossible.

And if it is logically possible that A can exist without B, that DOES NOT imply they have different modal properties, in general. That would only apply if both were claimed to be necessary, and that does not depend on any relationship between them, just that 'without B' requires that B possibly could not be true. You appear to not even understand your own strange logic (modality).

I don't think any of us are not accusing any philosophers of being 'moronic', just of getting so caught up in their speculations they fail to appreciate they have left the ground of reality for far too long.

"Shirley you can't be serious"...

NDE's do NOT, and cannot logically, show the mind can exist without the body, even if you take all the claims seriously. If the brain really died, we would not have any testimony from the patient. And unless it did fail to regain function, we have no confirmation that it really did completely cease to function.

The brain is still basically functional throughout, even if sometimes in such a state as to be hard or impossible to detect activity. There is no easy way, in general, to find out when the NDE experience was actually occurring, since we only have the memory of the experience from the subject. IOW we don't know that they were actually having at the experience when the brain appeared to be completely inactive. All the evidence from the generation of such experiences by other means suggests that it is something that occurs as the brain reaches some particular level of stress due to loss of blood flow, before it actually shuts down.

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

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

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

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


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jcgadfly wrote:Quaestio

jcgadfly wrote:

Quaestio wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

You keep on with this utter crap about "conceivability", and imaginability", which is utterly invalid and moronic.

To repeat, possibility is established by logical analysis. Conceivability is totally, utterly irrelevant.

The evidence for the reality of the mind actually leaving the body is essentially zero. The mind does not have organs of vision - these remain with the body, so reports of what can be seen by the 'disembodied' mind are not relevant, quite apart from the fact they frequently have failed to report things deliberately left in places that they should have been able to see if they really were floating up near the ceiling looking at their body as is often reported.

At best, they may be evidence for clairvoyance or mind-reading, although there are few that have provided anything approaching good evidence . The same feelings of leaving the body can be readily triggered by 'virtual reality' headsets giving the wearer a view of their own body from outside, so it is a psychological, mental phenomena, not evidence for a disembodied mind.

Have you read Susan Blackmore on NDE's? She started as inclined to believe it and the more she studied the less convinced she became.

So just like the uncertainty about the very existence of Jesus as portrayed in the NT, you are trying to build a mountain from sand.

The empty tomb is not evidence for a resurrection - it is irrelevant. The only thing that points to a resurrection are the reported sightings, and there are plenty of reasons to cast doubt on the veracity of those. We have had contemporary sightings of Elvis also - human memory and eye-witness testimony are very weak foundations for arguing anything beyond the most mundane of events.

Your dishonest attempt to try and mathematically combine a few crumbs of possibility into a solid case is a joke. You don't have remotely enough solid evidence after 2000 years and countless opportunities for tampering with the 'evidence', combined with very strong psychological pressure for believers to bolster the case for something they were immovably convinced had occurred, to justify that detailed manipulation.

In computer terms, even if your math is flawless, its 'Garbage in Garbage out".

If you seriously want to pursue this line of argument honestly, there are vast amounts of justification for an absence of such a God, supposed to be truly concerned about us, when you take into account all the disasters visited upon us,  a world with many nasty diseases and parasites which a God would have been responsible for if he existed, and so on. Throw those into your program and it will swamp your efforts to build a case on the crumbs of vague possibility you can harvest from 2000 years ago.

Pretty much everything we know about the history of the world and the history and nature and scale of the universe is far more plausible in the absence of your God, so I am fully justified in concluding there is none.

 

Conceivability entails possibility because it is impossible to conceive of an impossible object.  Apparent conceivability gives prima facie evidence for possibility.  "Moronic"? Would you call atheist philosopher Shelly Kagan moronic?  He takes this argument seriously.  Saul Kripke, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, took this argument seriously.  How about Alvin Plantinga, he thinks this argument is sound.  Is he, considered by professional atheist and theist philosophers to be the finest philosopher of religion of the 20th century, is moronic? 

 

I'll update this post later that will deal with the rest of your criticisms.

So you do think that God is real because men dreamed him up?

 

No. Nor did I make the modal ontological argument for God's existence.