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The God Delusion

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Wond3rland
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

I guess I just got overlooked. It's over.

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Freecube
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

So that this topic doesn't die, I am letting everyone know I have a reply in the workings...

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Freecube
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Either you didn’t read much of my reply, or your reading comprehension is lacking, or I did not convey my points right.

Bombax wrote:
Thank you for your long reply. You've obviously invested a lot of time and energy into this argument, so I wish to continue the discussion. But first, we need to agree on some basic rational approaches to the discussion. You understand, of course, that the burden of proof regarding the existence of an entity lies on the person who postulates the entity.


No, you are entirely wrong. The burden of proof regarding anything--the existence of an entity, that I’m originally from Oregon, or that I am in reality a piece of toast—is shouldered by the person who first postulates. Period. Whoever makes the first claim shoulders the burden of proof. This is true in every logical argument, which, again, you would have learned had you taken any actual courses in logic. Logic does not make arbitrary exceptions, as that would be illogical.

Furthermore, I am not claiming that you need to shoulder the burden of proof on the existence of a deity. If you have not noticed, while I wrote a long apologetic on the evidence that—in my opinion—would be better explained by the existence of a Creator, I have never charged you to also prove that this deity is false. What I am claiming that you shoulder the burden of proof on is the issue of Biblical inconsistencies with science. This argument is infinitesimally more simplistic than proving the non-existence of a diety, as all you have to do is prove a positive—show one instance in the Bible that does not concur with science. This argument, therefore, is much different than Bertrand Russell’s Teapot, as you are not proving a negative, but instead, proving a positive. So then, regardless of whether or not logic does make exceptions—which it doesn’t—you still shoulder the burden of proof in this issue. I am not asking you to disprove God.

Bombax wrote:
This agreement means that material like this;
Quote:
Bombax, I challenge you again as I did earlier: reply to my post with actual substance. Pointing out logical fallacies is very basic rhetoric. I know when I have made these fallacies.
do not qualify as part of a serious discussion. The fact that you know when you have made these fallacies suggests that you previously did not follow these stipulations. However, if you agree to continue the discussions based on these stipulations, then I would be more than happy to engage.


Notice that I did not admit that I made the same fallacies that you claim I did. Simply because you claim that I shoulder the burden of proof doesn’t make you right, especially when you are, in fact, wrong. Nor was my quoted statement part of a serious discussion, it was an attempt to elicit a serious discussion on your behalf.

Bombax wrote:
It does not matter if you know about ad hominems and other fallacies if you continue to make them. Regardless of the ad hominems, if you are *going* to make a point, then you have to use logical arguments. I am assuming you're trying to make a point, based on the conclusions you draw, and if you are mixing in illogical arguments (even worse, knowingly), then you are jeopardizing the content of your argument.


Yes, it does matter. If both parties know when an illogical statement is made, then both parties can simply disregard that statement and assume that the statement that was made was not central to the thesis of the argument and simply present to enforce the tone of the argument. If one is not able to do this, then one has a problem separating logic from illogical nonsense, and should not engage in an argument of rhetoric. Therefore, yes, it does matter. Adding these statements does not subtract from the reason and evidence that is conveyed in logical statements, which should be easy for you to identify. I do agree with your statement that if I am going to make a point, I have to use logical arguments to enforce it, which I did.

Bombax wrote:
I am aware that a fallacy may not invalidate the rest of the argument, but if there are supporting points, they stop supporting the argument once they are invalidated. For example, they may incorrectly point that a premise is true, that once the supporting points are invalidated, the premise becomes false.


If an overall conclusion is entirely supported by illogical statements, then that is correct. However, if even one logical argument adequately supports the final assertion, then the assertion is still valid—regardless of how many illogical statements are tied in to the argument.

Bombax wrote:
So far, there has been at least one fallacy in your arguments that has invalidated their conclusions.


Please, by all means, point this one out. These supposed invalidations are the fallacies that are commonly displayed publicly in debate.

Bombax wrote:

Quote:
You have the burden of proof, as your first post stated your opinion that the Bible stands in contrast to scientific claims.


As I have said twice now, I was kidding. There was no intricate grammar involved that suggested anything else except that which was straightforward. I made an illogical statement, said it was a joke, then said I was agnostic and recommended a book. Having said that, I think I have emphasized enough now that everything in the first paragraph in the first post was an absolute joke.


The grammar of your first post most certainly indicated that you were implicitly claiming that the Bible stood in contrast to scientific evidence. This is why multiple individuals have concurred with my interpretation of your post. If you do not acknowledge this—not only is it pointless to argue with you anyways—then please, illumine us to the fact that your true beliefs differ from this polemic claim. If they do not, then it reasonable to infer that, as it appears, you were, in fact, only kidding about being a Christian, and not kidding about your thought that the Bible opposes science.

Bombax wrote:
I will dissect these parts "You assumed illogically that the point of my quotation was to show the truth of my future claim..." then "was simply to show that people of high education and prestige to accept the Christian..." That was not the assumption at all. Show me precisely where I claim that by you quoting these people your future argument is illogical.


Ok:

Bombax wrote:
I was just saying that quoting educated and prestigious people does not necessarily provide a valid supporting point, which these did not. These quotations were meant to reinforce your overall argument


In all honesty, I am giving you the benefit of a doubt in assuming that those quotations were indeed your assumptions. If they were not, then your ability to read rhetoric is impaired. My first post was most clearly a position, rather than an argument. Again, for clarity, first post was an was never an argument, but rather it was a position. Logic need not apply to positions or opinions, as positions are not argumentative.

Bombax wrote:
Another scientist could analyze the pieces of evidence and get a completely different result, thus, the argument is non sequitur.


Different possible interpretations of evidence does not necessitate a non sequitur fallacy. I remind you that the definition of a non sequitur is when the conclusion is not justified by its premises—it is the degree of the strength of the argument, or lack thereof, that necessitates a non sequitur. Let me give you an example of something working your way that, by your logic, must be a non sequitur fallacy:

Scientists have found that a certain area in the temporal lobe becomes activated whenever an individual feels a subjective presence of God and/or contacting a supernatural reality. Thus, these scientists claimed that this region of the brain was responsible for creating a subjective experience of contacting a supernatural reality. However, when the individuals who participated in this study were told of the results, nearly all of them exclaimed, “See, it’s evidence that God communicated with us in part of our brain!” Scientists were unable to refute them with evidence or logic.

However, considering that science has relatively few laws and mostly theories, is it not therefore logical—since one can almost never be entirely sure—to draw a conclusion based upon one’s interpretation of the data?

Another example:

The fossil record can be interpreted by fundamentalist Christians—without contradiction of scientific data—as “survival of the fastest.” What this means is that, by evidencing certain faults in carbon dating as well as explaining how certain layers of rock fell at certain times, Christian fundamentalists can claim that The Flood of the Bible caused the fossil record, explaining that the first animals to get buried by a massive flood would be the lesser developed organisms, continuing on up the evolutionary chain until they reach early humans. Additionally, this theory can better account for the anomalies in the fossil record and the Cambrian explosion better than current evolutionary theory. Certainly, I hope that you do not believe this argument Bombax, as if you did, arguing with you would be pointless. Nevertheless, this argument can be made in total coherence with available, confirmed as true, scientific data.

Thus, simply because there are different interpretations of evidence does not justify a non sequitur. A non sequitur is made when a conclusion is drawn that is evidently wrong, or does not agree with the premises in any way.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
just as if the evidence pointed away from a designer, it would be logical to believe that there was no designer.
Or didn't point to a designer at all. (This follows from my introductory paragraph, which is the premise of this discussion).


If the evidence does not point to a designer at all yet simultaneously does not point away from a designer (as I am assuming that you are arguing here, as your reply includes the beginning of “or,” indicating that it is separate from my statement), then it is as logical to believe that there is a designer as it is to disbelieve that there is a designer. If the evidence is entirely ambiguous, either position is equally logical.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
points to a force that transcends matter, energy, time, and the laws of energy, as none of these could have existed prior to the big bang, and thus, something must have caused them all into existence.


Show that this implication is correct.


Really?

If these things had a beginning, then, by definition, before this beginning they did not exist. Prior to existence it is impossible to exist, by definition. Therefore, the cause of the existence of these aforementioned things must transcend these aforementioned things, at least in our universe—and therefore, must have some relative control over these things, as it caused them into being, even if that control is simply that it has the capacity to cause it in to being.

By the way, in an unrelated side note, I want to address a misconception I saw in this topic by another author. Someone claimed that a singularity could occur with the death of a star. You are mistaken; you are most likely referring to an “Event Horizon” that results from a dying star becoming a black hole. (To elaborate, an event horizon is a phenomenon where the current laws of physics don’t have face value. It seems that, on the surface of this black hole, whatever enter this event horizon becomes simultaneously a two dimensional object as well as a three dimensional object. Scientists are pretty sure they’ve figured this one out—it is more or less an optical illusion created by the force of gravity among other things relative to our viewpoint—but it is still debated as to exactly why this phenomenon occurs. Again, I’d assume that this is what you’re referring to, as in all my readings I have never come across any literature claiming that a singularity could spawn from a dying star (this would have disastrous consequences for our universe, and the conception of a multi-verse would be hailed as empirical fact, but at this point, the concept of a multi-verse is purely speculation)).

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
My "base rate fallacy" in this case is irrelevant [...]


It is not. The burden of proof to show that object A is similar to object B rests on you.


You are very stubborn about this issue. See my above critique.

Bombax wrote:
How can I misinterpret "prevalent" when in all dictionaries I have looked at, including Oxford's, doesn't provide a single phrase that suggests that "prevalent" means "intricate, complicated or deep"? In that case, you used the wrong word. Regardless, now that you have shown me what you meant, it doesn't change the fact that there is a Cum hoc ergo propter hoc attached to the phrase and it's false cause.
Quote:
as Christian theology's complicatedness and intricate nature most certainly follows if theology is a coherent and logical whole.
Even if you did use the right word, this still does not follow. Show that it follows!


My sincerest apologies. You are correct, by your interpretations of my assertion. I was using more or less, Christian terminological properties of these words. Since I spend much time at church, I often hear the phrase “prevalent in the church” get shortened to “prevalent” when referring to Christian theology. Additionally, the same applies to “intricate involvement in church life,” for intricate, “deep within the church’s foundation” for deep. By complicated, I was referring to the variety of audacious and seemingly preposterous claims made by Christian theology. If Christian theology is a coherent and logical whole, because of these seemingly preposterous claims made in the Bible (R3TRO outlined some of them), then it would need to be a complicated entity to make all of the variety of claims into a coherent whole. Additionally, if Christian theology is a coherent and logical whole, then it should indeed have intricate involvement in church life and it should serve as the church’s foundation, as Christian theology is the basis of Christian belief.

I still may be using Christian terms here, I have grown up in the church so it is sometimes hard for me to argue on the same terminological grounds as those not raised in the church. If further clarification is needed, I will elaborate.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
(for starters, you might want to look up Thomas Hobbes, he makes some great arguments in this category (unfortunately, his arguments are hundreds of years old by now and have since been largely refuted))
What kind of argument is this? "You might want to look up person A who has argued X very well, however X is today largely refuted". Then why should I even bother to read what he has written?


“Largely” was to be taken as a synonym for “mostly” in my sentence. Not all of his arguments have been entirely disputed—and, as mentioned before, even one logical argument sufficient to support a premises is not invalidated by other invalid supporting points. Additionally, the majority of Christians cannot refute the majority of his arguments. I am a firm believer in the search for Absolute Truth, thus, I believe it is of your—and other Christians’—best interest to hear premium quality arguments in all sides of all arenas of life. This was my rationale for said statement.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
were most certainly not intended to be an actual refutation of his work.
Perhaps not, but it's not a valid supporting point in any case, and that has to be made clear.


You are indeed absolutely correct, which therefore explains that if my post had been an argument, it would not have had a single supporting point. This is why I am still absolutely flabbergasted that you assumed my post had been an argument rather than a position.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
You challenged me to prove that there is no inconsistency with science in the Christian Scriptures
Excellent! I was expecting some nice evidence here that takes each statement from the bible and shows that it is scientifically correct. Unfortunately, you only presented one, single refutation of a refutation. This does not give evidence that, as a generalization, the Bible "contains nothing contrary to scientific thought". It is easy to see that to prove this, you have to show that each statement in the bible is not contrary to scientific thought. Accomplish this, and your point is made.


You are challenging me to prove a negative, when, as explained before, you are the one who actually shoulders the burden of proof in this dialogue.

www.biblegateway.org

There is my argument. If you honestly expect me to argue that the Bible contains nothing contrary to scientific thought, then it is of your best interest to investigate the primary source. To prove a negative, I would need to post the entire Bible, and simply create a checklist, passage by passage, indicating that there is nothing contrary to scientific thought. Therefore, not only do you shoulder the burden of proof, if I shouldered it, you would need to read the entire Bible to accept my argument as true anyways.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
It is intuitively, logically, and empirically obvious that whatever exists has a beginning, as not anything—from the most basic building blocks of life to the largest structures known—has ever been reported, recorded, or observed as arising from nothing.
Indeed, you are correct. But the implication that "thus, whatever begins to exist has a cause" does not follow from that "we have thus far not seen stuff arise from nothing", because, simply, we do not have a wide array of samples in which things "begin to exist", to determine whether this prediction is accurate.


We have plenty of samples in which things begin to exist.

Have you heard of creating amino acids from electricity and other elements? This was done. However, electricity and elements were the cause of these amino acids’ beginnings. We can even use something as simple as a human life to illustrate this point. An infant indeed begins to exist, and its cause is a sperm and an egg. Your argument is an argument from ignorance. What you are actually claiming is, “we do not have a wide array of samples in which things begin to exist that do not appear have a material explanation,” and this is argument is absolute balderdash.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
the proposed theistic/deistic argument of a Creator God accurately meets these qualifications


So does the proposition that there was no creator, but that the universe causes itself in an infinite regression (e.g. that the universe eventually collapses to form a new Big Bang). Which one is correct? Prove that the God proposition is correct.


Ah, Sagan’s cosmos, so you bothered to raise one of the theories that I said I would explain as insufficient with evidence. Well, here you go:

Before I make my argument, let me first clarify how a singularity is defined in this argument and in physics. A singularity is the state at which the space-time curvature, along with temperature, density, and pressure, becomes infinite. It’s the beginning point; the point at which the Big Bang occurred. To avoid confusion, stating that the space-time curvature is infinite is not to state that the singularity is infinite.

Scientists do not believe that they can peer into an actual singularity, only back to the first 1/10 million trillion trillion trillionths of a second. The reason for this is because infinity is a concept rather than a reality. I’ll illustrate this by giving an example with marbles.

Imagine I have an infinite number of marbles in my possession, and that I wanted to give you some. In fact, suppose that I wanted to give you an infinite number of marbles, so I gave you all of the marbles I had. In this case, I would have no marbles left, and you would have an infinity of marbles. However, suppose that I wanted to give you only the odd numbered marbles in my possession. Then I would still have an infinity left over for myself, and you would have an infinity as well—in fact, we would each have the same amount of marbles that I originally had! Another way that I could give you some marbles would be to give you all the marbles numbered 4 and higher. That way, you would again have an infinity of marbles, but I would only have three left.

What these illustrations demonstrate is that the notion of an actual infinite number of things leads to contradictory results. In the first case, where I gave you all the marbles, infinity minus infinity is zero; in the second case, where I gave you all the odd-numbered marbles, infinity minus infinity is infinity; in the third case, where I gave you all the marbles numbered for and greater, infinity minus infinity is three. In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with non-identical results.

You see, the idea of an actual infinity is conceptual; it only exists in our minds. Working within certain rules, mathematicians can deal with infinite quantities and infinite numbers in the conceptual realm. However—and here’s the point—it’s not descriptive of what can happen in the real world.

Additionally, we can go further with this argument: even if you could have an actual infinite number of things, you cannot form an infinite collection by adding one member after another. This is because no matter how many you add, you can always count how many you have added prior, and you can always add one more before you can get to infinity. This is sometimes called the Impossibility of Traversing the Infinite.

Therefore, stating that the singularity had an infinite space-time curvature among other things means that scientists cannot examine it. It is a concept; it is the beginning.

Now, onto Sagan’s cosmos:

To catch other readers up to speed, this theory eliminates the need for an absolute beginning by suggesting that the universe expands, then collapses, then expands again, and continues this cycle indefinitely. Interestingly enough, Carl Sagan, the astronomer who has been the main proponent of this theory, quotes from Hindu scriptures to show how this is consistent with its cyclical themes.

However, several problems with the Oscillating Model have been well known for decades. For one thing, it contradicts the known laws of physics. Theorems by Hawking and Penrose show that as long as the universe is governed by general relativity, the existence of an initial singularity—or beginning—is inevitable, this initial singularity cannot survive in a permanent state, and that it’s impossible to pass through a singularity into a subsequent state. Additionally, there is no known physics that could reverse a contracting universe and suddenly make it bounce back and reverse before it hits the singularity.

Another problem is that for the universe to oscillate, it has to contract at some point. For this to happen, the universe would have to be dense enough to generate sufficient gravity that would eventually slow its expansion to a halt, and then, with increasing rapidity, contract it into a big crunch. But estimates have consistently indicated that the universe is far below the density needed to contract, even when you include not only its luminous matter, but also all of the invisible dark matter as well.

Recent tests, run by five different laboratories in 1998, calculated a 95% certainty that the universe will not contract, but that it will expand forever. In fact, in a completely unexpected development, the studies indicated that the expansion is not decelerating, but it’s actually accelerating. This puts a nail in the coffin for the Oscillating Model.

From your reply, I can think of another, different model that you may be referring to that is similar to Sagan’s cosmos but different enough that it warrants another explanation.

This model is another cyclical model, I will describe it here to verify whether or not it is the model to which you refer. This model says the Big Bang was not the beginning of time but a bridge to a pre-existing era. It states that the universe undergoes an endless sequence of cycles in which it contracts with a big crunch and reemerges in an expanding Big Bang, with trillions of years of evolution in-between. This model says that mysterious “dark energy” first pushes the universe apart at an accelerating rate, but then it changes its character and causes it to contract and then rebound in cycle after cycle. This model is based on a certain version of string theory, which is an alternative to the standard model of particle physics. It postulates that our universe is a three-dimensional membrane trapped in a five-dimensional space, and that there’s another three-dimensional membrane which is in an eternal cycle of approaching our membrane and then colliding with it. When this happens, it supposedly causes an expansion of our universe from the point of collision. Then our universe retreats and repeats the cycle again, and on and on. The idea is that this five-dimensional universe is eternal and beginningless. So you have a cyclical model of our universe that is expanding, but nevertheless this larger dimensional universe as a whole is expanding.

However, this “model” isn’t even a model, it’s just sort of a scenario, because it hasn’t been developed yet as a model. The equations for string theory haven’t even all been stated yet much less solved. So this model is extremely speculative and uncertain, but I’ll examine it on its merits.

This theory is plagued with problems. For one thing, it is inconsistent with the very string theory it’s based on. Nobody has been able to solve that problem. Moreover, this is simply the five-dimensional equivalent of a three-dimensional oscillating universe. As such, it faces many of the same problems that the old oscillating model did.

More interesting is that in 2001, inflation theorist Alan Guth and two other physicists wrote an article on how inflation (inflation here simply refers to the universe expanding, or, inflating) is not past eternal. To clarify, that means that a universe that is eternally inflating towards the future (as ours is) cannot be past eternal (meaning that it had to have a beginning). That was not the groundbreaking point of this article, however. In this article they showed that they were also able to generalize their results to show that they were also applicable to multidimensional models, like the one described here. So, it turns out that even the cyclical model in five dimensions has to have a beginning, at least according to this article.

A prominent inflation theorist, Andre Linde, said that this multidimensional model has been very popular among journalists but very unpopular among cosmologists.

This argument comes from Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator, pages 102-104 and 113-116. Strobel interviews the cosmologist mentioned in my last post, William Lane Craig, Ph.D., Th.D. Sources for all the numerical evidence, the quoted evidence, and more are found within this book. Again, I don’t feel like posting them all, simply go and look at the book yourself if you don’t believe me. This book is a secondary source, meaning that primary research documents are cited by this book, making it one of two source types allowable in peer-reviewed papers.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
general relativity indeed does point to something that transcends these domains.


I need specific evidence for this. Explain general relativity, explain "something that transcends these domains", and explain why one causes the other. Confirm it using empirical evidence.


http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iartic le_query?1931MNRAS..91..483L&data_type=PDF_HIGH&whole _paper=YES&type=PRINTER&filetype=.pdf

There’s the original, 8 page, article, put forward by the astronomer who first put this forward. Have fun with it, it has all the proof you’ll need. It’s flawless mathematics.

For empirical evidence, putting aside the fact that general relativity is a mathematical equation and, therefore, it does not necessitate empirical evidence, I will quote my previous argument that describes evidence that necessitates a singularity:

Quote:
In 1929 the first empirical evidence was gathered that supported these mathematical models. The astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the light coming to us from distant galaxies appears to be redder than it should be, and that this is a universal feature of galaxies in all parts of the sky. Hubble explained this red shift as being due to the fact that the galaxies are moving away from us. He concluded that the universe is literally flying apart at enormous velocities.

Then in the 1940s, George Gamow predicted that if the Big Bang really happened, then the background temperature of the universe should be just a few degrees above absolute zero. He said this would be a relic from a very early stage of the universe. Sure enough, in 1965, two scientists accidentally discovered the universe’s background radiation—and it was only about 3.7 degrees above absolute zero. There’s no explanation for this apart from the very fact that it was a vestige of a very early and a very dense state of the universe, which was predicted by the Big Bang model.

The third main piece of evidence for the Big Bang is the origin of light elements. Heavy elements, like carbon and iron, are synthesized in the interior of stars and then exploded through supernovae into space. But the very, very light elements, like deuterium and helium, cannot be synthesized in the interior of stars because you would need an even more powerful furnace to create them. These elements must have been forged in the furnace of the Big Bang itself at temperatures that were billions of degrees. There’s no other explanation.



Bombax wrote:
Quote:
Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too fantastic


This is an extremely arrogant supposition, and one that nearly provokes me to an emotional response. Show exactly which scientific paper published in a scientific journal which says the above. I can safely say, that you will not find such a scientific paper in a scientific journal.


Unfortunately for your emotions, that quote is copied verbatim directly from Robin Collins, Ph.D., a physicist, in an interview with Lee Strobel.

For additional scientific journals/papers with analogous claims, see:

Barrow, John, and Frank Tipler Ph.D., The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986
    [page 22: I do not believe that any scientists who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside stars]


D. J. Bartholomew, “Probability, Statistics and Theology,” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (Statistics in Society). Vol. 151, No. 1 (1988)
    [page 141: The highly coincidental character of the initial conditions has been seen as a powerful argument for theism.... Whether or not we should be surprised at some happening is presumably related to its probability and it therefore seems useful to analyse what is implied by the principle in probability terms. One interpretation would be as follows. Let C be the set of initial conditions capable of leading into our existence. Then although the probability P(C) = P(c ∈C) might well be judged, a priori, to be very small (because C is very small) the probability we should really be consider is the one which takes account of our existence, namely P(C|w) [Freecube’s note: “w” was clarified earlier in the article as concerning the present state of the universe. At one extreme this could be a complete global description and at the other some particular feature like the existence of our solar system. Any such description will be denoted by w and W will refer to any set of w’s which are regarded as equivalent for the inference in question. Additionally, while C has been described, “c” refers to the set of constants present in the initial conditions of the universe]. According to Bayes’ theorem P(C|W) = (P(C)P(w|C) / (P(C)P(w|C) + P (~C)P(w|~C)) and since we have supposed that w is impossible on ~C then P(C|w) = 1 regardless of values of P(C) or P(w|C). Even if we allow P(w|C) to be near zero it may still be the case that P(C|w) is close to 1. The statement P(C|w) = 1 might then be regarded as a formal version of the anthropic principle. It does, indeed, tell us that there is a remarkable coincidence in the initial parameters.


Davies, Paul, Ph.D. The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature’s Creative Ability to Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.
    [page 203 (referring to the fine-tuning of the universe): The impression of design is overwhelming]


Harrison, Edward, Ph.D. Masks of the Universe. New York: Collier, 1985.
    [page 252: The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of design]


These are four of the first articles of which I have access to. I don’t want to type them all up, but I’d say it’s apparent that, despite your initial emotions, my quote from Collins was not arrogant, but founded in scientific thought.

Bombax wrote:
Why? Because I have found evidence myself using computer simulations that something very complex and "coincidental" can arise from something very simple, unless my research and thousands of other people's research with simulations is wrong.


I might point out before I continue that all complex things are not identical (say that thing 1 = a; thing 2 = b; complexity = c (as complexity is a separate concept); though c = c, a =/= b and therefore ac =/= bc (complex thing one is not equal to complex thing two) and therefore simply because some complex things can arise from a very simple solution does not mean all--or even, any other--complex things can arise from simple solutions.

Putting aside the theorem described just a few paragraphs earlier, I am very interested in seeing these computer simulations. It is very easy to take screenshots of computer simulations (if you don’t know how, just hit your “print screen” button, open ms paint or something, press paste, and save it), and I am very interested in seeing a step by step proof of your claim. Please provide evidence. By the way, my father is a Performance Lab Manager at a high-end computer program development company. I’ve grown up around computers. My point is, I’ll be able to call your bluff if your so called computer simulations are simply hoaxes that you concocted assuming that I wouldn’t ask for and/or understand your evidence. Please provide the evidence.

Bombax wrote:
Your following statements taking examples from research I have seen articles in Nature refute. The ruler you are using as an example is a too-well known and infamous example of this faulty reasoning. This type of reasoning is so obviously flawed that it has been discussed ad nauseam over and over again. For easily understandable refutations, one can watch Thunderf00t's or potholer54's videos that handle this subject.


My ruler example was simply a way of conveying in laymen’s terms the rough equivalent of what gravity’s fine-tuning is. The ruler doesn’t even touch my argument for the original phase-space volume as described by Roger Penrose. It is simply an example to help those who cannot understand mathematics understand somewhat of what I am trying to convey. Regarding the faulty reasoning, I direct you to my next argument:

Putting aside the fact that youtube videos are unacceptable in any way for position/research papers, as they are neither primary or secondary sources (at the best, they recite information from pop-sci, which takes its information from scientific literature (this is only secondary if it cites the actual research papers in the book), which takes its information from peer-reviewed research papers or journal articles—primary sources—and therefore they are fourth sources—a link in the chain that is known for abysmal distortions of the true evidence by the time it is passed down enough—at the worst, they make stuff up), and the fact that I have never once seen anyone from youtube cite any primary or secondary sources whatsoever, I looked through all 155 videos of thunderf00t’s (as you didn’t link me to any specific video, rather, just their usernames) and did not see any with the titles of “fine-tuning,” “anthropic,” or otherwise.

Additionally, for your credit, I will refuse to believe that you side with thunderf00t on any of his other positions, as a few of his videos I watched claimed such absurdities and obvious lies about Christian belief as true Christian belief that the fallacy of a red herring wouldn’t even begin to describe this embarrassment to argument. I don’t feel like looking through pothole’s stuff anyways for the source reasons described above and the primary reason below:

I don’t need easy to understand arguments. I need actual, scientific data. You claim that science is on your side, so prove it. Primary or secondary sources. It is known in the scientific community that any papers published past these criterion are untrustworthy on the subject. Please provide me with actual evidence for your argument, and don’t cite a youtube (or wikipedia) source again.

Bombax wrote:
Richard Dawkin covers it as well in his book. Why didn't you refute his refutations, instead of presenting the refutated arguments again? I thought you had read the book.


You’re really going to deny I read the book with all the argument I posted against it? It was a poor enough book and I have heard and argued against so many refutations of the anthropic principle that I honestly forgot that an argument against it was in The God Delusion. I left my book at home and I’m up at my university; care to summarize the argument quickly so that I can tear it down please?

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
theory of chance


There is no theory of chance.


This “theory” is obviously termed as such in order to encompass the theories of non-deistic existence. Without a higher power, chance in one way or another must account for the existence of life and/or the universe. This is true by our very existence. Either something caused us or we are chance—there is no other option (I might add: that I can think of at the moment, again, I am exhausted as I write this portion of my reply). I know that there is no unified “theory of chance,” but, opposing a theory of design, this term allows for an ease of argument.


Bombax wrote:
Quote:
“Irreducible Complexity.”


Currently, there are no organisms or parts of organisms who have proven to have something with irreducible complexity. I have also shown that something that appears to be an irreducible complexity can arise, using my computer simulations, but what wasn't actually irreducible at all. In addition, thunderf00t and potholer54 in addition to cdk007 have made numerous easy-to-understand videos refuting this argument, including discussions about the bacterial cilium and flagellum.


So, you knew how to refute this one too. I am more-or-less impressed. Perhaps this will turn out to be an interesting debate after all. I will put aside the straw-man in cdk007's video that claimed irreducible complexity (as he understood the theory's implications, nonetheless) was the cornerstone of the case for a creator, which it is not, and I will assume you do not subscribe to his faulty logic.

Let me begin this argument by stating that my position in this issue is not the position of all Christian scientists—and rightly so, I am not a biologist. Alister McGrath of Oxford’s molecular biophysics department has this to say about irreducible complexity: “The real problem here, however, is the forced relocation of God by doubtless, well-intentioned Christian apologists into the hidden recesses of the universe, beyond evaluation or investigation. Now that’s a real concern. For this strategy is still used by...a movement, based primarily in North America, that argues for an “intelligent Designer” based on the gaps in scientific explanation, such as the “irreducible complexity” of the world. It is not an approach which I accept, either on scientific or theological grounds. In my view, those who adopt this approach make Christianity deeply—and needlessly—vulnerable to scientific progress” (The Dawkins Delusion?, pg. 30)

Regarding my previous argument in irreducible complexity, I entirely quoted and/or paraphrased Michael J. Behe, Ph.D., author of the theory and the book that put this theory into mainstream science, Darwin’s Black Box. Behe has received a degree in chemistry with honors from Druxel University and a doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. After post-doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health, he joined Lehigh University as a professor. He has also served on the Molecular Biochemistry Review Panel of the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the National Science Foundation. He has authored forty articles for such scientific journals as DNA Sequence, The Journal of Molecular Biology, Nucleic Acids Research, Biopolymers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Biophysics, and Biochemistry. He has lectured at the Mayo Clinic and dozens of schools, including Yale, Carnegie-Mellon, the University of Aberdeen, Temple, Colgate, Notre Dame, and Princeton. He is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, and other professional organizations.

(Keep in mind that the above paragraph is not an argument, but simply qualifying the man I am about to speak of as being publicly recognized as having authority and the ability to speak on said subjects—it is not illogical to appeal to authority if the authority actually produces evidence for an argument rather than simply stating that it is true)

All of my argument came from his interview with Lee Strobel, in Strobel’s book The Case for a Creator, chapter 8. Admittedly, from the beginning I knew that it was one of my weaker points (as my knowledge of biochemistry is lacking compared to knowledge of mine in other areas, nonetheless it is strong), and this interview is over 6 years old, which explains my “lack of a speculative hypothesis” of the flagellum quote—I was simply quoting Behe in 2003. I had no awareness that a hypothesis had been put forth, and I will take out the next portion of your post as you were right. Biochemistry is for me, after all, a difficult subject to narrow in on while studying the disciplines of neuropsychology and cross-cultural studies at my university. I do not have as much time to read breakthroughs in all sciences as I would like due to my intensive workload in different areas.

However, Behe addressed this future argument before it was presented in the court case that was cited along with another speculative paper in cdk007’s youtube flagellum article as the “evidence” for the video. In fact, he even admitted that this argument was logical:

“[Strobel] studied the mousetrap [and said], ‘You [Behe] said an irreducibly complex system can’t be produced directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications,’ I said. ‘Does that mean there couldn’t be an indirect route?’

Behe shook his head. ‘You can’t absolutely rule out all theoretical possibilities of a gradual, circuitous route,’ he said. ‘But the more complex the interacting system, the far less likely an indirect route can account for it. And as we discover more and more of these irreducibly complex biological systems, we can be more and more confident that we’ve met Darwin’s criterion of failure.... Life is actually based on molecular machines.... Molecular machinery lets cells move, reproduce, and process food. In fact, every part of the cell’s function is controlled by complex, highly calibrated machines.’”

Thus, Behe allows for the possibility that an indirect route can indeed produce irreducibly complex machines. The point of these machines is not to prove an intelligent designer outright—as is the same for each one of my arguments—but rather, to point towards scientific evidence that seems to better fit a creator as a cause. Indeed, as nearly everything on earth eventually comes down to a machine that can be postulated as irreducibly complex, the amount of chance required to create the variety of these systems, as Behe said, is nearly prohibitive. Furthermore, no actual evidence has ever been shown that anything has actually developed any of these supposedly irreducibly complex system by an alternate route—all of these theories are still speculation or hypotheses, rather than a proven explanation for these systems.

It is still possible that evolution can account for these irreducibly complex systems, however, which is why there is an actual scientific test to establish whether or not irreducible complexity is an actual insuperable barrier for Darwinism.

From here until otherwise noted, I will be nearly paraphrasing and/or quoting The Case for a Creator

This test was created by Kenneth Miller, a biology professor who’s an outspoken evolutionist.

“The true acid test,” explained Miller, would be to use “the tools of molecular genetics to wipe out an existing multi-part system and then see if evolution can come to the rescue with a system to replace it.” If the system can be replaced purely by naturalistic evolutionary processes, then Behe’s theory has been disproved. Behe’s response to the idea of this test?: “Yes, I agree. That’s a terrific test.”

Miller went on to describe an experiment used by scientist Barry Hall of the University of Rochester to show how this apparently was done in the laboratory. Miller concluded: “No doubt about it—the evolution of biochemical systems, even complex multi-part ones, is explicable in terms of evolution. Behe is wrong.”

When Behe was asked the question, “has Hall proved through his experiment that your theory is incorrect?”, Behe replied, “No, not really. Actually, Hall is very modest about what his experiment shows. He didn’t knock out any complex system and then show how evolution can replace it. Instead, he knocked out one component of a system that has 5 or 6 components. And replacing one component in a complex system is a lot easier than building a complex system from scratch.

“In Hall’s experiment with E. coli, there was a complex system with a number of different parts, he knocked out one of them, and after a while he showed that random processes came up with a fix for that part. That’s a far cry from producing a brand new system from scratch.

“But there’s something equally important: Hall made it clear that he had intervened to keep the system going while evolution was trying to come up with a replacement for the missing part. In other words, he added a chemical to the mixture that gave it the time to come up with the mutation that fixed the glitch. The result would [most likely] never have actually happened in nature without his intelligent intervention in the experiment.

“Here’s an analogy. Suppose you say you can make a three-legged stool by random processes. You take a three-legged stool and break off one leg. Then you hold up the stool so it won’t fall over. Finally, wind comes along, knocks down a tree branch, and it accidentally falls right where the missing leg had been. You’re intervening to help the stool through the stage where it would otherwise have fallen over and you’ve made it possible for the branch to fit into the right place.

“Back to Hall’s experiment. Without going into the technical details, which I’ve done in more formal responses (see my note below for the source), in nature you [most likely] couldn’t have gotten just the mutation he did in the laboratory. You would have had to have simultaneously gotten a second mutation—and the odds of that would have been prohibitive. Hall made it clear that he intervened so that he would get results that would have [most likely] never happened in the natural world. And that is injecting intelligence into the system.

“When you analyze the entire experiment, the result is exactly what you would expect of irreducible complexity requiring intelligent intervention. Unintentionally, he has shown the limits of Darwinism and the need for design.”

This is me (Freecube) talking now. I feel that this source is important enough to list prior to you asking for it. Here are the technical details of the response: www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_trueacidtest.htm (accessed July 3, 2003).

My overall argument for the case of irreducible complexity can be summarized as follows: It is certainly possible that evolution has the potential to create irreducibly complex systems through indirect routes. However, firstly, the more complex the system, the larger the odds against this possibility. Additionally, the larger the number of supposed irreducibly complex systems—that is, systems that only have speculative or hypothetical explanations, rather than complex systems that have been proven to form by indirect routes—in existence, the more prohibitive the odds that evolution could account for the total number of them all. Thirdly, no empirical evidence has demonstrated that an irreducibly complex system has actually formed by an indirect route, rather, theories that oppose theories of design have the equivalent amount of evidence as arguments for design—that is, both pre-existing theories have an entirely hypothetical explanation that can account for the system. Finally, no conclusive scientific proof has ever been offered to indicate that evolution has actually formed an irreducibly complex system in any way, despite experiments being done in an attempt to prove said formation.

Thus, I believe that the possible “irreducible complexity” of molecular machines is scientific evidence that can—at this time—be better accounted for by a creator than by evolution. However, by no means does it solely prove a creator or disprove evolution.

While we’re on the topic of irreducible complexity, though, I’d like to bring up the Cambrian explosion, which is more or less like irreducible complexity in the fossil record.

A key aspect of the theory of natural selection is that it acts slowly by accumulating slight, successive modifications, and that no great or sudden modifications are possible—in Darwin’s words. Darwin knew that the fossil record in his day showed the opposite: the rapid appearance of phylum-level differences in what’s called the Cambrian explosion. Darwin believed that future fossil discoveries would vindicate his hypothesis—but that hasn’t happened. In fact, fossil discoveries over the last 150 years have turned his tree upside down by showing the Cambrian explosion was even more abrupt and extensive than scientists once thought.

The Cambrian explosion was a geological period that we think began a little more than 540 million years ago. The Cambrian explosion has been called the “Biological Big Bang” because it gave rise to the sudden appearance of most of the major animal phyla that are still alive today, as well as some that are extinct. Here’s what the record shows: there were some jellyfish, sponges, and worms prior to the Cambrian—although there’s no evidence to support Darwin’s theory of gradual divergence—then at the beginning of the Cambrian, all of a sudden we see representatives of the anthropods, modern representatives of which are insects, crabs, and he like; echinoderms, which include modern starfish and sea urchins; chordates, which include modern vertebrates; and so forth. Mammals came later, but the chordates—the major group to which they belong—were there right at the beginning of the Cambrian. This is absolutely contrary to Darwin’s Tree of Life. These animals, which are so fundamentally different in their body plans, appear fully developed, all of a sudden, in what paleontologists have called the single most spectacular phenomenon of the fossil record.

These animals came into being so fast that nobody can claim that there’s a branching tree. Some paleontologists, even though they think Darwin’s overall theory is correct, call it a lawn rather than a tree, because you have these separate blades of grass sprouting up. One paleontologist in China says it actually stands Darwin’s tree on its head, because the major groups of animals—instead of coming last, at the top three—come first, when animals make their first appearance.

It is certainly possible that one day, someone will discover a fossil somewhere that suddenly fills in all the gaps, but that does not seem likely with the current evidence. It hasn’t happened after all this time, and millions of fossils have already been dug up. There are certainly good enough sedimentary rocks from before the Cambrian era to have preserved ancestors if there were any. Jonathan Wells, Ph.D., Ph.D., claims that the Cambrian explosion is “too big to be masked by flaws in the fossil record.”

Some have suggested that, possibly, pre-Cambrian fossils were too tiny or soft to preserve. However, evidence does not agree with this speculation. We have microfossils of bacteria in rocks dating back more than 3 billion years. And there have been soft-bodied organisms from before the Cambrian that have been found in Australia. In fact, scientists have found soft-bodied animals in the Cambrian explosion itself. This speculation, therefore, is not a very good explanation.

Some scientists today are turning to molecular evidence to try and find a common ancestor prior to the Cambrian explosion, but this approach is plagued with too many problems for me to even worry about typing it all up. This approach does not work or fit with evidence either.

This argument for the Cambrian explosion comes from Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator, pages 43-45. Strobel interviews the Jonathan Wells, Ph.D., Ph.D. Sources for all the numerical evidence, the quoted evidence, and more are found within this book. Again, I don’t feel like posting them all, simply go and look at the book yourself if you don’t believe me. This book is a secondary source, meaning that primary research documents are cited by this book, making it one of two source types allowable in peer-reviewed papers.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
Materialism has no adequate explanation for the human mind and consciousness as it relates to the body. [...]


This does not make the rest of "materialism" invalid, and I know that you know this.


Actually, while that is true for the section of my argument that you quoted, the existence of any immaterial entity—including an immaterial soul—would, by definition, invalidate the philosophy of materialism. I quote my previous argument:

Quote:
Materialism is a monistic philosophy, that is, it acknowledges only one substance: matter.


Therefore, proof of any substance’s existence outside of matter would invalidate materialism. While their lack of adequate explanation for consciousness does not invalidate materialistic philosophy, the evidence for an immaterial soul puts pressure on the philosophy. If a soul can be proven, or, if after all is known in the discipline of neuroscience, the discipline still vehemently denies the one premise Descartes said we can be sure of, “cogito ergo sum,” then obviously the answer to consciousness does not lie in matter, therefore invalidating materialism. Luckily, we are far from total knowledge of neuroscience, and scientists are still searching for an answer to the binding problem (which I am in total agreement with, as it would not invalidate an immaterial soul to prove that the brain can produce a consistent picture of reality (though if it does, we’ve got the whole homunculus argument all over again)).

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
it astounds me that you have adopted materialism as a philosophy


I have not even adapted materialism as a philosophy. This assumption is invalid.


My apologies. I incorrectly assumed that since you challenged me to disprove it as a philosophy, you were in agreement with it. Generally, people vie philosophies opposite theirs while challenging others to disprove their own. Might I ask for your philosophical standpoint then?

Bombax wrote:
To sum up my refutations about your Neuroscience discussion, just because the opposing side (say science) is yet unable to provide an explanation for something, doesn't imply that the field we are comparing it to, theology, is correct.


Indeed.

Bombax wrote:
Even if we cannot explain the fact that placebo does not work when the subject is aware of it, and we cannot yet define consciousness, does not imply that we have a soul and that a God-like entity exists. You have to explain this implication logically if you want to prove your point.


The argument is not that the placebo effect doesn’t [always—it sometimes does] work when the subject is aware of it—the argument is that the placebo effect should not work at all. Additionally, the argument is not that we cannot yet define consciousness, it is that we can define consciousness—cogito ergo sum, the only premise of which we can be absolutely sure—yet consciousness cannot be explained in matter.

These arguments do imply that we have a soul. If we do not have a soul, and matter is all that forms the seat of consciousness (though there is no evidence for how this is possible), without an actual pain-relieving drug acting on opiate or endocannibinoid receptors in the brain then there is no way any pain relief is possible, and the placebo effect should not even exist. Similarly, without an actual anti-depressing drug acting on dopamenergic, serotonergic, or other monoaminergic receptors, there are no anti-depressant effects possible. Since the region of the brain that processes pain can act independently of all other brain regions, pain relief cannot be consistent without a pain-relieving drug.

Some of the most compelling evidence, though, is in anti-depressing drugs. Since depression is commonly thought to be from a deficiency in neurotransmission in the left prefrontal cortex (this is confirmed by brain-scans of individuals with depression), and the left prefrontal cortex is where scientists state that the executive functions (to clarify, this is not the seat of consciousness as all information in the brain is not fed into this cortex before a judgment is made—what is actually occurring is this brain region seems to have control over other brain regions) in the brain take place (Ramachandran, 1996; Beauregard, 2007; among many others), without an actual drug promoting monoamine activity in this cortex, there is absolutely no way to account for any anti-depressing effects whatsoever. Yet, surprisingly, anti-depressants generally only help 1 to 2% more patients in clinical trials (nearly 50% respond to placebo)! In fact, these placebos have actually been shown in brain-scans to increase activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which, if matter is all that is at work in the human brain, is thought to be scientifically impossible at this time.

I have already addressed the binding problem, but I will try and restate it here in more understandable terms. The binding problem can be reduced to what you’re looking at right now. As you are reading this, you are staring at a computer screen (occipital lobe), you are reading English (occipital/parietal/temporal lobes), you are most likely audibly reading to yourself even if only in your head (thus Broca’s area), and you are already formulating an argument to reply to me with (frontal lobe). All of this information is going into your brain, but nowhere is it being all sent to be united into a single whole. In fact, all this information stays very separate from other parts of itself. Additionally, because of the number of different brain-states (the different electrical patterns in your brain based upon which synapses are firing and how frequently) possible and generally experienced (I can’t think of the exact number off the top of my head, but I know that it’s more than a human being could count up to in an entire lifetime counting by 1’s without a computer), there should be no self-concept of a continuous person—no continuous self. However, as referenced before, our own “self” is the only thing we can be absolutely sure of. Because of this, there is currently no material explanation for consciousness.

As stated before, I am in total support of research on the binding problem or the placebo effect. Even if I felt that these problems being solved in a materialist way would discount my beliefs—which I do not feel that it would—I do not feel like my own personal beliefs should hinder the advance of science. Hence, when I get my own Ph.D. in neuropsychology, I will be adopted methodological materialism—that is, conducting experiments based upon the philosophy that matter is all that exists, even if this is not my personal philosophy. As science can only answer material questions (described in my previous reply), I do not feel that it is wrong to continue to seek material answers with science.

However, it seems that you have left out from your reply the argument from neuroscience on spirituality, which was the strongest evidence that I posted for the existence of a soul. If you need me to elaborate on it, I will. If you have already understood it, then fantastic.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
An Argument Against “The God Delusion”


There are a lot of questionable paths Dawkins takes when making arguments, which I don't agree with either. Very many of those you mentioned are the ones I find questionable too. However, there is still a very significant amount of arguments in his book that provide valid reasoning for many of the materials we are covering in this discussion, which is why it is a recommended read from me. I have already stated a few that are covered in his book.


I




Last edited by Freecube on Tue 22 Sep, 2009; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

It cut my post. To resume:

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
An Argument Against “The God Delusion”


There are a lot of questionable paths Dawkins takes when making arguments, which I don't agree with either. Very many of those you mentioned are the ones I find questionable too. However, there is still a very significant amount of arguments in his book that provide valid reasoning for many of the materials we are covering in this discussion, which is why it is a recommended read from me. I have already stated a few that are covered in his book.


I agree, his book should be read as it contains subject matter that is an argument against theism, and a true search for Truth should judge information from both sides of an argument.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
what about ethics?
Covered in Dawkin's book and the videos above.


Forgot about that, I’ll offer up the refutation of that, though. As I recall, Dawkins’ argument is that he believes that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are governed by the laws of physics. His argument is that when a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software. Therefore, that is the ethic in our society, when someone does something bad, fix the original problem.

A good case can be made that retribution is an inadequate principle of justice, but notice that the scientific fixers of Dawkins’s vision are “we” but the erring “fixee” is “it.” A key consequence follows. If the will is an illusion, the very idea of evil is evacuated. In the absence of good and evil, what fills the vacuum? Desires and dislikes. They drive the neural circuits unharmed. As C. S. Lewis warned, “When all that says, ‘It is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains.” In other words, government by materialists must mean government by entities that—on their own testimony—doubt moral responsibility. We should hardly be surprised if such a government dehumanized its subjects, because it must deal with citizens as a farmer deals with livestock—humanely at best, and without assuming that they have moral understanding, free will, or a higher purpose than the one determined by the farmer. So even though Steven Pinker’s solution (the divorce of ethics from science, as described in my previous post) won’t work, his concern about the denial of free will is quite legitimate.

However, to discredit Dawkins’s entire argument from the beginning, “Materialist ontology [in neuroscience] draws no support from contemporary physics and is in fact contradicted by it” (Beauregard, 178). This claim was made by the neuroscientist I have been quoting. I beg of you to accept this on faith. I can most certainly type it up, but this reply is quite large and I am sure that the next one will already be so. I can promise you that this is not debated. Dawkins was simply not aware of this fact as it is a relatively new development in neuroscience.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
While religion can certainly bring violence, as Dawkins correctly points out, Dawkins neglects to mention that the most violent regimes—Stalin’s, Soviet Russia, and Hitler’s, to name a few—have all been atheistic


Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.


Well, yeah it’s a cum hoc ergo propter hoc when you cut off the last sentence like that. Adding in my final sentence:
Freecube wrote:
Violence may better be seen as an abuse of human ideals than caused by any one thing in particular.
And to quote fallacyfiles.org,
Quote:
Cum Hoc is the fallacy committed when one jumps to a causation about causation based on a correlation between two events, or types of event, which occur simultaneously. In order to avoid this fallacy, one needs to rule out other possible explanations for the correlation:

A third event—or type of event—is the cause of the correlation....


I most certainly explained that a third type of event is the cause for the correlation, rather than stating that the correlation is caused by atheism being equivalent to theism. Manipulating my statement created a straw-man, that you attacked with a previously non-existent logical fallacy. This fallacy is incorrect.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
there is a plethora of evidence that is well-explained by a creator God.


That does not imply that God is the reason for the evidence.


Indeed, you are correct. However, based upon other factors—such as Biblical revelation, personal experience, and others—I believe in a creator God and believe that these evidences are well-explained by a creator God. I originally stated that the latest evidence points towards God, rather than necessitates God. You asked me to prove that statement, and I did.

While we’re on the topic of Biblical revelation, might I ask what discredits it from being considered even as evidence in your mind? The Bible is the most historically verifiable text we have from anywhere near that period, by a landslide, and I can prove this if you’d like, but we don’t doubt the words of Caesar as if they weren’t absolutely his words. Since Jesus made the claims that He did, He was either the Lord, a lunatic, or a liar, and the latter two can be refuted. I can make quite a case for the Bible if you’d like me to.

Bombax wrote:
All these arguments you have presented thus far are arguments picked out from what seems to be a standard Creationist collection of arguments, which have been refuted over and over again.


If they had been properly refuted, they would not still be circulating in scientific literature. However, since they are, I can say it’s safe to say that you simply haven’t heard the refutations of the refutations of the original evidence, which I have and will continue to present. I could also bring up a few other arguments for the probable existence of a creator, which I will consider doing in my next reply.

Bombax wrote:
The exception to this is your Neuroscience argument, which I need further elaborations and logical implication explanations before you can convince me of something. I am interested in hearing more about it, so please, do elaborate.


With the current length of these replies already, I feel like expanding on my neuroscience argument further, on this forum, is rather trivial. If you have questions, ask, and I would love to answer. If you cannot think of any, though, I suggest that you go read Mario Beauregard and Denise O’Leary’s The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul. A fantastic book from the opposite end of the spectrum is V.S. Ramachandran’s (and some supporting author who I can’t remember her name) Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind. Ramachandran’s book is over 13 years old now, however, and doesn’t take into account some of this newer evidence that is presented in Beauregard’s book—which is only 2 years old, if I recall correctly. If you do read both, you will see Ramachandran (a materialist) conclude that our own consciousness is an illusion, that it is fake, as there is no material explanation for it, and you will see Beauregard (a non-materialist) conclude that there is a soul, based upon a plethora of evidences, but namely, the spiritual brain’s evidence. It should be noted that Beauregard is a methodological materialist (term described above).

Bombax wrote:
However, I really do think that you must drop your other arguments for God's existence as these have already been logically, rationally refuted. I have presented the short and concise reason I can refute them here, but there are further elaborations which you may find in the videos or perhaps in Dawkin's book, making these arguments essentially invalid.


Ah, but I had only presented the original evidence! Should you know how to refute any of these refutations, I know how to refute those refutations even twice more! These arguments, far from being rationally refuted, are the kinds of arguments properly used in public debates (and currently, theism/deism is winning (I can post famous skeptics turned Christian if you’d like, or quotes showing evidence winning intellectuals over; I am not just claiming this—currently theism/deism has the upper hand on evidence. If you know what to ask, I can show you, but this post is also already well beyond 11,000 words, and such further argumentation on my part without your engagement is simply barraging and meaningless)).

Bombax wrote:
In contrast, I have yet not encountered the neuroscience argument, so I suggest that you elaborate on that, bring up new arguments or conclude that your arguments thus far for God are invalid.


Well, I brought up new evidence for my existing arguments, elaborated on neuroscience, and I have challenged you to provide evidence for your claims. I did my part, please do yours turn3.

Bombax wrote:
These posts are becoming prohibitively long.


Indeed.


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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Quote:
If you do not acknowledge this—not only is it pointless to argue with you anyways—then please, illumine us to the fact that your true beliefs differ from this polemic claim.

Let us see:
Quote:
Allow me to reverse; I think God created the universe and it's governing natural laws, then planted the Bible to test our faith of trusting scientific finds.

(No, I am just kidding,

Obviously, I said that I was kidding about the statement above. Neither do I believe it, nor should it be taken seriously.
Quote:
I am agnostic. I recommend that christians and non-christians alike should read The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins)
I said that I was agnostic. I then recommended a book.

I do not, neither did I mean to, imply anywhere that what I was saying in my first paragraph, was anything else than a joke. I have clearly not made any, or meant to make any, statement that "the bible stands in contrast to scientific claims." that was meant to be taken seriously.

Quote:
This is why multiple individuals have concurred with my interpretation of your post. If you do not acknowledge this—not only is it pointless to argue with you anyways
You know about the argumentum ad populum here. And regardless, I agree, if we cannot agree that I never meant to imply anything which you claim I meant to imply, then there is no point for us to argue.

A few leaving words:
Quote:
Yes, it does matter. If both parties know when an illogical statement is made, then both parties can simply disregard that statement and assume that the statement that was made was not central to the thesis of the argument and simply present to enforce the tone of the argument.
In a private conversation it may be, but in public conversations, such as this one in an open topic, or on TV where two may be arguing but a lot more listening, it does not matter if both parties know. Others may be misleaded by the logical fallacies, which is why I have to point them out.


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P90X
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Again you don't argue, tsk tsk.

Anyway, i posted to say that we knoe you were kidding in the first paragrapgh of this topic, but by stating you were agnostic and be reccomending a book that argues against God and science being possible(or whatever ) You indirectly made the claim that you think science and God do not fit together.


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Bombax
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

If I did, I didn't mean to, which I said above.
Quote:
Again you don't argue, tsk tsk.
I can't argue if we cannot agree on the same rules of argument.


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underscore
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Freecube wrote:
By the way, in an unrelated side note, I want to address a misconception I saw in this topic by another author. Someone claimed that a singularity could occur with the death of a star. You are mistaken; you are most likely referring to an “Event Horizon” that results from a dying star becoming a black hole. (To elaborate, an event horizon is a phenomenon where the current laws of physics don’t have face value. It seems that, on the surface of this black hole, whatever enter this event horizon becomes simultaneously a two dimensional object as well as a three dimensional object. Scientists are pretty sure they’ve figured this one out—it is more or less an optical illusion created by the force of gravity among other things relative to our viewpoint—but it is still debated as to exactly why this phenomenon occurs. Again, I’d assume that this is what you’re referring to, as in all my readings I have never come across any literature claiming that a singularity could spawn from a dying star (this would have disastrous consequences for our universe, and the conception of a multi-verse would be hailed as empirical fact, but at this point, the concept of a multi-verse is purely speculation)).

My bad. Physics really isn't my area of expertise, and I mistakenly said that a singularity could arise from a star, when I was trying to say that a collapsing star forms a black hole, which (at the time) I understood that a black hole has a singularity at its center (my mind is feeling rather sluggish at the moment though, so I'm guessing that that assumption might have been incorrect as well?). Regardless, I was trying to say that singularities are theoretically creatable, and while my example was incorrect, I believe that the possible creatability of a singularity still stands, right?


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Freecube
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
If you do not acknowledge this—not only is it pointless to argue with you anyways—then please, illumine us to the fact that your true beliefs differ from this polemic claim.


Let us see:
Quote:
Allow me to reverse; I think God created the universe and it's governing natural laws, then planted the Bible to test our faith of trusting scientific finds. (No, I am just kidding,


Obviously, I said that I was kidding about the statement above. Neither do I believe it, nor should it be taken seriously.


Alright, well then I misinterpreted your statement. My apologies. I did ask in my previous posts twice, and I ask again, can we know your true beliefs (and not just a one-word summary, I am a Christian but obviously my beliefs differ substantially from others who call themselves Christians) if they differ from this, then?

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
I am agnostic. I recommend that christians and non-christians alike should read The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins)


I said that I was agnostic. I then recommended a book. I do not, neither did I mean to, imply anywhere that what I was saying in my first paragraph, was anything else than a joke. I have clearly not made any, or meant to make any, statement that "the bible stands in contrast to scientific claims." that was meant to be taken seriously.


Fair enough.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
This is why multiple individuals have concurred with my interpretation of your post. If you do not acknowledge this—not only is it pointless to argue with you anyways


You know about the argumentum ad populum here. And regardless, I agree, if we cannot agree that I never meant to imply anything which you claim I meant to imply, then there is no point for us to argue.


This logical fallacy is only true when the matter is objective rather than subjective. Since interpretation is entirely subjective, multiple interpretations validate this stance, rather than contribute to a fallacy.

And I mistakenly understood your denial of my first proposition about your denial as you not yet understanding what I believed you denied, hence my pushing the issue. I believe you, now please argue against my previous post.

Bombax wrote:
A few leaving words:
Quote:
Yes, it does matter. If both parties know when an illogical statement is made, then both parties can simply disregard that statement and assume that the statement that was made was not central to the thesis of the argument and simply present to enforce the tone of the argument.


In a private conversation it may be, but in public conversations, such as this one in an open topic, or on TV where two may be arguing but a lot more listening, it does not matter if both parties know. Others may be misleaded by the logical fallacies, which is why I have to point them out.


Fair enough, but if you do attempt to point out the logical fallacies, make sure you are correct in your claiming of them. It takes much time and effort to argue my points anyways, and if I have to spend half of my post explaining why what you claim are logical fallacies are, in fact, not logical fallacies, it can be debilitating to the argument. I have already spent a considerable amount of time pointing out that some of my statements that you claimed were logical fallacies, were, in fact, not fallacies. While logical fallacies may lure the public to one side of an answer, claiming flawed logic lures the public even further to one's side, thus one must be critical of the logical fallacies he or she points out. Additionally, keep in mind that citing logical fallacies in and of itself is not an argument. You must not only refute my logic, but you must refute my evidence, and then make an argument based upon evidence that you have collected in order to properly debate.

Bombax wrote:
Quote:
Again you don't argue, tsk tsk.
I can't argue if we cannot agree on the same rules of argument.


Careful with your semantics. I definitely argued my point even though we obviously did not agree on the rules in that post. You can indeed argue a point without anyone listening. We cannot, however, have an argument together, or debate. However, I have since agreed to your terms. Please argue with my previous post.

underscore wrote:
My bad. Physics really isn't my area of expertise, and I mistakenly said that a singularity could arise from a star, when I was trying to say that a collapsing star forms a black hole, which (at the time) I understood that a black hole has a singularity at its center (my mind is feeling rather sluggish at the moment though, so I'm guessing that that assumption might have been incorrect as well?). Regardless, I was trying to say that singularities are theoretically creatable, and while my example was incorrect, I believe that the possible creatability of a singularity still stands, right?


Well, you’re referring to a curvature singularity, which is quite different from the cosmological singularity. A curvature singularity allows gravity and the space-time curvature to have infinite length, which is another way of saying we can’t tell what happens to stuff that goes into this place of a black hole, though we know that it is beyond the point of no return. his is quite different than gravity, space-time curvature, matter, energy, temperature, and more being infinite, as our cosmological singularity was. It is important to note that while the theory of general relativity predicts these curvature singularities, it predicts them as separate entities. Thus, they are mathematically and empirically separate entities.


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Wond3rland
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Freecube, what side are you on again? Intelligent design? Or Atheism? Honestly asking, no sarcasm intended.

And as to throwing around the term non sequitur. If you didn't design us, something or someone did. Thats is sequitur. If we had a beginning, we had a creator. And since the Big Bang is your interpretation of the beginning, this means you acknowledge we had to start.

Ultimately you can say whatever you want. Believe whatever you want. But I believe your scared. Not a little boy afraid of the dark type scared. But scared of the unknown, which many people face. All the time. I believe you do not want to acknowledge a creator because is most doctrines this would mean your held accountable for your actions. Could it be you don't want to accept it? Without God there is no purpose. None. Name 1. Please, for me. What could an atheist possibly have for a purpose, no seriously.


"Every purpose worth pursuing is in our innate nature. Happiness, Family, Development, and Growth..."


I believe atheist can be good people. Doing good deeds. If this is true of yourself, you must ask why. Why one prefers good over evil. How the two even came into existence. Your conscience battle of "right vs wrong" is your proof of design.

Life is a test, and noting else. Not a pleasure cruise. Not a game. Not a movie or boxing tournament. Not a shopping spree or a golf-match.


"If life is a test, who's grading our papers?"


WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!


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Bombax
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Freecube wrote:
You can indeed argue a point without anyone listening. We cannot, however, have an argument together, or debate. However, I have since agreed to your terms. Please argue with my previous post.
I will try, when/if I get time. I do not have that right now, however.


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R3TRO
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wong....
PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Wond3rland wrote:
Freecube, what side are you on again? Intelligent design? Or Atheism? Honestly asking, no sarcasm intended.


Did you actually read his post????? The whole thing is about the existence of a creator!
Quote:
Ultimately you can say whatever you want. Believe whatever you want. But I believe your scared. Not a little boy afraid of the dark type scared. But scared of the unknown, which many people face. All the time. I believe you do not want to acknowledge a creator because is most doctrines this would mean your held accountable for your actions. Could it be you don't want to accept it? Without God there is no purpose. None. Name 1. Please, for me. What could an atheist possibly have for a purpose, no seriously.


eek2 eek2 eek2

I read it a couple times actually, and not once did i sense fear and definitely not a lack of the unknown. In fact from reading his post it sounds to me like he is more sure of his eternal destiny than anyone else here...

Quote:
I believe atheist can be good people. Doing good deeds. If this is true of yourself, you must ask why. Why one prefers good over evil. How the two even came into existence. Your conscience battle of "right vs wrong" is your proof of design.


The Bible actually calls it a race...

Hebrews 12:1-3:
"1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

I don't understand honestly how he can go through a week of writing the two most educated (yes i said it) posts this forum HAS EVER SEEN, with enough scientific material and hard studying than most of us could pump out over a semester, and still get a response like this...

I am honestly, completely, truly, 100% baffled by this. I mean if you could see my face right now.... like mouth on the floor

you obviously did not read his posts... theres no way....

I need sleep. you have successfully knocked me to the floor.

goodnight


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Freecube
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Wond3rland,

I am a Christian.

I appreciate your arguments, albeit they are misguided. Clearly, you enjoy arguing with esoteric suggestions, colorful metaphors, and abstract implications. However, I might offer a critique of some of your arguments, only from what I have read in your last post:

Offering that a Big Bang needed a cause in an argument that has presented hard mathematical and empirical evidence is redundant. It only shows that either you have not fully kept up on the topic's material--which will dampen your ability to maintain an audience for your argument--or that you do not understand reason or science--which will also fail to allure readers.

An atheistic purpose could be as follows: "Since--according to Descartes--all I can know absolutely is my own existence, I do what I can while I exist to enjoy my existence. I enjoy personal pleasure. Therefore, I want to feel good as often as possible. My purpose in life is to gain pleasure, therefore enjoying life. In order to have enjoyment among a society with other beings who enjoy personal pleasure, I must not infringe on anyone else's pleasure--lest I might face retribution from a larger member of society or society as a group. I must therefore follow a social order, live in harmony with others, and do what I can to make myself happy." Obviously, sex and passing on our genes brings personal pleasure as well, hence an evolutionary argument can be made as well.

Your argument of a conscience is a skewed version of C. S. Lewis' in Mere Christianity. Do yourself a favor and read that book; not only will it help with this argument in particular but I think that it will be a book that you will thoroughly enjoy.

It is impossible to prove that life is a test without a preexisting worldview that affirms this presupposition (one that is not necessarily a Christian worldview. This is not the worldview that I hold). Since we cannot prove that life is a test, there is no need to prove a test-grader.

Might I also suggest an argument for your inventory? I offer the argument of longing and wonder. Humans are the only entities known at this time to experience a sense of longing and wonder, one must therefore wonder, why humanity? Why do we postulate the universe's meaning alone? Hence, the argument of longing and wonder:

Alister McGrath presented this argument eloquently:

"Many have found that the awesome sight of the star-studded heavens evoke a sense of wonder, an awareness of transcendence, that is charged with spiritual significance. Yet the distant shimmering of stars does not itself create this sense of longing; it merely exposes what is already there. They are catalysts for our spiritual insights, revealing our emptiness and compelling us to ask whether and how this void might be filled.

"Might our true origins and destiny somehow lie beyond those stars? Might there not be a homeland, from which we are presently exiled and to which we secretly long to return? Might not our accumulation of discontentment and disillusionment with our present existence be a pointer to another land where our true destiny lies and which is able to make its presence felt now in this haunting way?

"Suppose that this is not where we are meant to be but that a better land is at hand? We don't belong here. We have somehow lost our way. Would not this make our existence both strange and splendid? Strange, because it is not where our true destiny lies; splendid, because it points ahead to where that real hope might be found. The beauty of the night skies or a glorious sunset are important pointers to the origins and the ultimate fulfillment of our heart's deepest desires. But if we mistake the signpost for what is signposted, we will attach our hopes and longings to lesser goals, which cannot finally quench our thirst for meaning."

-- Alister McGrath, Glimpsing the Face of God. Pages 51 and 53.

McGrath isn't the first Christian to follow this train of thought: C. S. Lewis often explores his phenomenon of human longing or yearning--what the Germans call Sehnsucht, a word with strong overtones of seeking and searching. In thinking about Sehnsucht, Lewis observes that when we have it, we are seeking union with something from which we have been separated--such as being reunited with a lovely place or a good friend. However, when this phenomenon of Sehnsucht occurs without any specific feeling of nostalgia, could it not point to something beyond our temporal existence?

Cornelius Plantiga Jr., president of Calvin Theological Seminary devotes the entire first chapter in his book, Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning and Living to this feeling of longing and wonder.

This argument is not concrete enough for me to feel that it is solid evidence for a creator God, but I feel that it is one that you might enjoy, hence I post it for you.


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P.M.
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Quote:
If the evidence does not point to a designer at all yet simultaneously does not point away from a designer (as I am assuming that you are arguing here, as your reply includes the beginning of “or,” indicating that it is separate from my statement), then it is as logical to believe that there is a designer as it is to disbelieve that there is a designer. If the evidence is entirely ambiguous, either position is equally logical.


So the Flying Spaghetti monster, Zeus and Allah are all equally likely to exist? As is the probability none of them does? By this logic the chance that any of these deities exists is far greater than the possibility that none exists simply because there are infinitely more ways to assume a creator than a non-creator. Clearly, this is ridiculous.

Postulating a deity does not solve the infinite regress (what 'created God?') and even if we wrongly call God the solution to the infinite regress, how does follow from this name-giving the fact that the Bible is God's word, that God hears our prayers, that there are a heaven and a hell, etcetera ? It simply does not follow at all. And God does not even solve the problem of infinite regress, so it didn't help our understanding in any way.

Quote:
Nevertheless, this argument can be made in total coherence with available, confirmed as true, scientific data.

There are an infinite set of theories in 'total coherence' with any piece of scientific data.

Quote:
Thus, simply because there are different interpretations of evidence does not justify a non sequitur. A non sequitur is made when a conclusion is drawn that is evidently wrong, or does not agree with the premises in any way.

We have established that any piece of empirical evidence can be explained by an infinite set of theories and hypotheses. Saying: science can not (yet) explain phenomenon X, THEREFORE Allah exists, THEREFORE heaven and hell exist etc. may not be a non sequitur by your definition, but the existence of heaven simply does not follow from the fact we do not yet completely understand X, even when the God hypothesis is not incompatible with empirical evidence, because (again) we can think of infinitely many alternative hypotheses. Yahweh and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are just two of those (and not very sensible ones at that).

I really do not see how singularities have anything to do with the question whether the Qur'an or Bible represent any truth. Neither do I see how the fact that String Theory is 'plagued with problems' indicate that the Christian God does exist... String Theory does at least try to explain some phenomena and gets way further in it's attempt than 'God did it'. It all sounds like the same old 'God of the Gaps' to me. I have yet to read a scientific paper with the following conclusion: "Unfortunately, my hypothesis is rejected by empirical data, I therefore conclude that our prayers are heard by a omnipotent God after all and that heaven and hell do exist. I would encourage others not to look further in to this issue and don't bother postulating new hypotheses because I have demonstrated convincingly that God did it by rejecting my null-hypothesis"

Let's look at one of many alternative hypotheses: 'God did it'. Isn't this hypothesis plagued with even more problems? HOW did God do it? How did a non-material God influence the material world? By what mechanism does a non-material object connect to and influence the material world? How does a non-material object make calculations and 'think'? I think these problems are at least as troublesome as the problems with some science theories. Furthermore, it doesn't help us predict outcomes of future experiment, it does not increase our understanding, it is simply useless at best.

It is fine to try and refute popular theories and hypotheses in science, since that is what science is all about, but don't make the mistake of assuming 'God did it' as the default, unless replaced by a convincing explanation by science.



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Amorphis
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009  Reply with quote

Atheists can have purpose, and greater purpose - I would argue - than Christians. Atheism does not come bundled with a ready-made purpose one must dogmatically accept, it is rather the absence of accepting a purpose dictated to us.

We atheists with purpose are creators, we artfully create our own person out of the chaos and prejudice of our history as sculptors working with the material of self. Our own, personally created purpose is not sacred and unchanging; something that it is forbidden to laugh at. We laugh joyously at our folly.

Ah yes, Freecube generously gives us a cow to show us atheists meaning! Should the atheistic purpose be to gain pleasure and withdraw from pain? Is this not why a Christian values pity? Atheists need not be Stoics! I here quote (in full, from http://praxeology.net/zara.htm) Nietzsche's contempt of this "religion of comfortableness", from the prologue of Thus Spoke Zarathustra :

Quote:
When Zarathustra had spoken these words, he again looked at the people, and was silent. And to his heart he said:

There they stand; there they laugh: they do not understand me; I am not the mouth for these ears.

Must one first batter their ears, that they may learn to hear with their eyes? Must one clatter like kettledrums and penitential preachers? Or do they only believe the stammerer?

They have something of which they are proud. What do they call it, that which makes them proud? Culture, they call it; it distinguishes them from the goatherds.

They dislike, therefore, to hear of “contempt” of themselves. So I will appeal to their pride.

I will speak to them of the most contemptible thing: that, however, is the Last Man!"

And thus spoke Zarathustra to the people:

It is time for man to fix his goal. It is time for man to plant the seed of his highest hope.

His soil is still rich enough for it. But that soil will one day be poor and exhausted, and no lofty tree will any longer be able to grow there.

Alas! there comes the time when man will no longer launch the arrow of his longing beyond man -- and the string of his bow will have unlearned to whiz!

I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you have still chaos in yourselves.

Alas! There comes the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There comes the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.

Lo! I show you the Last Man.

"What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks.

The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

"We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink.

They have left the regions where it is hard to live; for they need warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him; for one needs warmth.

Turning ill and being distrustful, they consider sinful: they walk warily. He is a fool who still stumbles over stones or men!

A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end for a pleasant death.

One still works, for work is a pastime. But one is careful lest the pastime should hurt one.

One no longer becomes poor or rich; both are too burdensome. Who still wants to rule? Who still wants to obey? Both are too burdensome.

No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse.

"Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.

They are clever and know all that has happened: so there is no end to their derision. People still quarrel, but are soon reconciled -- otherwise it upsets their stomachs.

They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health.

"We have discovered happiness," -- say the Last Men, and they blink.

And here ended the first discourse of Zarathustra, which is also called "The Prologue," for at this point the shouting and mirth of the multitude interrupted him. "Give us this Last Man, O Zarathustra," -- they called out -- "make us into these Last Men! Then will we make you a gift of the Overman!" And all the people exulted and smacked their lips. Zarathustra, however, turned sad, and said to his heart:

They do not understand me: I am not the mouth for these ears.

Perhaps I have lived too long in the mountains; I have hearkened too much to the brooks and trees: now I speak to them as to the goatherds.

My soul is calm and clear, like the mountains in the morning. But they think I am cold, and a mocker with terrible jests.

Now they look at me and laugh: and while they laugh they hate me too. There is ice in their laughter.


Valuing pleasure above all things is contemptible. I see this infection in those I know and myself. There is much more to life then being placated, and it begins with self-creation. To live one's life rather than being lived by it: to expend your greatness in sorrow and loneliness is what one needs.

Hating displeasure is just as contemptible. To flee from it is to flee an impulse that would drive you farther than you could hope. To cowardly avoid pain is to rob yourself of greatness. To pity pain in others is to desire to "help them from it", and thus rob them, too.

If happiness be our only measure for life, why not simply be drugged constantly? Is that enough? Is this happiness what we really want? No! We want to test ourselves against despair, and live a great life. Yes, even the atheist has his ideals!


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