Thinking Christian

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On the Air Saturday With CrossExamined Radio

Posted on Jan 10, 2014 by Tom Gilson

Saturday morning, at 10 am Eastern time, I’ll be on American Family Radio with Frank Turek of CrossExamined.org. We’ll be talking about Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists and my ebook response, Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician. Here’s where you can find us, on the air or online.

Listen in to find out more about the atheist community’s newest leader, and how Christians must respond to his challenges. And click here for a free copy of my ebook!

This is actually my second broadcast of the week. The first one, with Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason, is online here. Fast-forward to the last hour of the podcast to hear my portion. (Don’t let that dissuade you from listening to the whole show, though.)

Many thanks to both Frank and Greg for the opportunity to share. They are two of the best speakers, writers, and radio hosts out there.

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83 Responses to “ On the Air Saturday With CrossExamined Radio ”

  1. SteveK says:

    I just listened to the STR podcast. Good discussion and a good opportunity to clarify things so other believers can understand what’s going on and how best to respond when confronted with these situations.

    I liked what you guys said about the usage of the word “faith” at about the 2:34:00 mark in the podcast. It’s not what Peter Bog thinks “faith” means that’s important. What’s important is what Jesus/Christian’s mean when they use the word, and if you (Peter Bog) don’t like the word “faith” then find a different word. Good advise.

  2. Billy Squibs says:

    I’d love to hear you on Unbelievable? one of these days Tom.

    http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable

  3. John says:

    Tom,
    I just listened to the Cross Examined podcast. At the 17:00 mark you were referring to Boghossian seeking to change the definition of faith and you said: “You cannot change definitions in an authoritarian manner. Words mean what they mean mean because that’s what people know what they mean.” Yet as Orwell observed, those who control the language control thought. After all, the concept of marriage recently was changed authoritatively. The tactic used was clear: First, language was used in order to instill doubt in the minds of the users that the original definition was narrow, and by implication so were the minds of the users. Then, very quickly came the legal mandate by those holding political power. If this tactic worked with the concept of marriage, it can work with other concepts, too. On this level then, people like Boghossian should be taken very seriously.

  4. BeingItself says:

    Most Christians I encounter use the word ‘faith’ in a variety of ways. One way they frequently use it is “a strong unshakable belief that goes beyond what is justified by available evidence”. They have a very strong feeling of certainty about something, but when pressed, they cannot come up with adequate reasons to justify their level of certainty, and they call this ‘faith’.

    All this wailing and gnashing of teeth about how Bogs is using the word incorrectly just reveals a fundamental confusion about the nature of language.

    Boghossian is using the word the exact same way many many Christians do.

  5. Tom Gilson says:

    Sure. I don’t deny that he’s using it the way many Christians do. My problem with him is his insistence that it’s the only accurate and allowable definition for faith. The people you’re talking about have given only passing thought to what the word actually means, and I acknowledge that even they might think that that’s all that it means. But both they and Boghossian are wrong. They misrepresent and/or misunderstand the connection that faith has with knowledge.

    Just because some people can’t explain faith does not mean faith is unexplainable. Just because some people articulate their faith in a certain way doesn’t mean that the weakness in their articulation is a weakness in faith itself.

  6. Robert says:

    There is a big difference between faith and religious faith. Christians always try to conflate the two but this only works to fool other believers. People who have faith that something is true will change their opinion when presented with new evidence. People who have religious faith will not change their views no matter what evidence is presented against their faith. We know this is true when we read apologists saying that if they have to choose between evidence and what they have been preconditioned to believe by other Christians they will ignore this evidence and stick their superstitions. So you people can fool some of the people some of the time but atheists can see right through your smoke and mirrors.

  7. Tom Gilson says:

    Since you say you value evidence, Robert, could you point to some real evidence that any Christian apologist has ever said, “If we have to choose between evidence and what we have been preconditioned to believe by other Christians we will ignore this evidence and stick to our superstitions”?

    Show the evidence, or admit that you’re displaying your own rank bias and prejudice.

  8. BeingItself says:

    “My problem with him is his insistence that it’s the only accurate and allowable definition for faith.”

    If he insists that then he has a fundamental confusion about the nature of language.

    “Just because some people articulate their faith in a certain way doesn’t mean that the weakness in their articulation is a weakness in faith itself.”

    When you say things like this, it seems that you are implying that ‘faith’ has some inherent meaning. It seems you think some people are using the word in the correct way, while others are not.

    But that is just a fundamental confusion about the nature of language.

  9. Tom Gilson says:

    Two points:

    One: your chosen name and email address for commenting here are affronts to me and to all believers in God. I am quite sure you meant them that way: an intentional provocation and discourtesy. I will approve no more comments from you under that name or email address.

    Note that my discussion policies require a genuine email address. I will not misuse or abuse anybody’s email address under any circumstances.

    Two: your first point makes a lot of sense. Your second point doesn’t. You draw a conclusion that doesn’t follow. If you care to continue in this discussion, I suggest you at least explain your point, and how you think your conclusion follows from the premise.

  10. JAD says:

    as Orwell observed, those who control the language control thought.

    I agree that Boghossian’s thinking is very Orwellian and that’s where, in my opinion, he’s the most dangerous. Like other new atheists he appears to have very little respect for the freedom of thought, conscience and belief, even though he is taking full advantage of those freedoms himself.

    One of the things that has made America great is that it is a pluralistic society– racially, ethnically and religiously. Our religious pluralism goes back to the very founding of our republic. Freedom of religion means that my right to believe in a Gods, gods or no god etc., is a right whether or not I have good reasons for those beliefs. It appears to me that Boghossian believes that all religious belief is irrational. I beg to differ. I think my religious beliefs are very rational and there are some very well educated people who agree with me. However, for some reason, Boghossian refuses to debate any of these people. Why is that?

  11. SteveK says:

    Robert,

    People who have religious faith will not change their views no matter what evidence is presented against their faith.

    Who are these people and who/what are they saying they have faith in? The context is important. For example, if these people have faith that a specific future reality will come to pass, what evidence could you present that would demand that their faith be altered? None that I know of, but maybe you can show that I’m wrong.

    If you are insisting that there is a one-dimensional view of the word ‘faith’ that applies to all religious people, you’re objectively wrong about that. This is Peter B’s failed premise, and I don’t wish for you to follow his mistake.

  12. Tom Gilson says:

    Billy @#2: I’m pursuing that possibility. Thanks for the encouragement.

  13. Robert says:

    Tom Gilson,
    “Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa.” – Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Revised Edition, page 36.

    It’s kind of silly of you to question if anyone holds to this view when you hold to this view yourself. The definition of faith is believing something without seeing any evidence that it is true. This is what religious faith is. According to the Bible faith is a virtue. One again the Bible is wrong. Faith is a vice and a horrible character flaw. Skepticism is a virtue. Try a little some time. Nothing makes faith disappear faster.

  14. SteveK says:

    I’m quite skeptical of naturalism.

  15. SteveK says:

    If you know the Holy Spirit is guiding you to various fundamental spiritual truths, how is this pretending to know?

    I’m curious, what does evidence for fundamental spiritual truth look like, Robert, such that you could point to it and show the Holy Spirit is wrong?

  16. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert, you can drag a line like that out of context, but if you really want to portray W. L. Craig as someone who disregards evidence, you’ll have to try a lot harder than that.

  17. Tom Gilson says:

    Further:

    It’s kind of silly of you to question if anyone holds to this view when you hold to this view yourself. The definition of faith is believing something without seeing any evidence that it is true. This is what religious faith is. According to the Bible faith is a virtue.

    You value evidence, right?

    I’ve asked you once before, and I’ll ask it again.

    You value evidence?

    Really?

    Show me.

    Show me the evidence that I hold to the view that you say I hold to, with the corollary that faith is believing without evidence.

    Show us all.

    If it’s true, and if you know it’s true, there must be evidence, right?

    But be careful: if you really believe in evidence, and if you take a scientific approach to it, you’ll be sure to gather all the relevant evidence before you pronounce your conclusions. Every scientist knows that cherry-picking, irrelevant samples, non-representatives samples, etc. make for poor evidence.

    Until you can produce that kind of evidence that I believe what you say I believe, Robert, you’re pretending to know what you don’t know.

    Let me add this as well:

    Not only are you pretending to know something you don’t know, you’re also stereotyping me according to some other image of what you think I believe, some image acquired somewhere other than actual knowledge of me.

    And stereotyping, my friend, is of the essence of bigotry. It is one of the crudest forms of heuristics. It is one of the most significant short-circuiters of actual knowledge.

    And it’s really rude.

  18. Robert says:

    Tom Gilson,
    I gave you your evidence and you have no rebuttal. I get it.

  19. Tom Gilson says:

    Maybe I missed it. Could you remind me? All I see here are bare assertions.

  20. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Tom Gilson:

    Argument from absence of argument:

    (1) To refute an argument, either its soundness or validity must be disputed.

    (2) I have not presented any arguments.

    (3) You cannot refute what I have not presented.

    (4) Therefore you have not refuted what I have said.

    (5) Therefore, God does not exist.

  21. Robert says:

    Tom Gilson,
    You made this challenge: “Since you say you value evidence, Robert, could you point to some real evidence that any Christian apologist has ever said, “If we have to choose…”
    So I gave you more than evidence, I proved that a Christian apologist made the statement in question. It’s also a fact that all the people who work for Creation Ministries and the Discovery Institute have signed a statement that says the same thing. Your response, “Robert, you can drag a line like that out of context, but if you really want to portray W. L. Craig as someone who disregards evidence, you’ll have to try a lot harder than that.”

    Your response is simply insufficient. First you have to show that the passage in question was really taken out of context by giving what you think the context is. Then you would have to show why a man who claims animals don’t feel pain and writes anti-science propaganda doesn’t disregard evidence. And finally you have to explain exactly why I have to try harder to prove what I have already proved. I gave you precisely what you asked for, an apologist who said what I said many have said. It’s all here in print for everybody to see.

    You told a poster that his screen name and Email address are offensive. I won’t repeat the name since it’s offensive to you. But I don’t get it. I don’t see why that particular name is offensive. What am I missing here?

  22. BillT says:

    People who have religious faith will not change their views no matter what evidence is presented against their faith.

    I have religious faith. I’m willing to change my views if evidence is presented that can disprove my beliefs or the evidential basis for them. Can you present such evidence Robert? The above is just empty rhetoric outside of an actual demonstration that the above is true. You seem so certain this us true and well informed about this Robert. I’m sure you can demonstrate your point.

  23. Tom Gilson says:

    No, Robert.

    It’s easy to find a lot of people in every walk of life: banking, military, gardening, education, saying, “If we have to choose….”

    But you said someone said, ““If we have to choose between evidence and what we have been preconditioned to believe by other Christians we will ignore this evidence and stick to our superstitions”?

    And William Lane Craig never said anything remotely resembling that.

    I think you like prejudice and stereotype more than you let on, and evidence less than you claim.

  24. Tom Gilson says:

    Your response is simply insufficient. First you have to show that the passage in question was really taken out of context by giving what you think the context is.

    Oh. I see.

    Any old one-named person can show up here and make any old out-of-context claim about anyone they please, and the first thing that happens is that the burden of proof for their claim transfers to me.

    Nice how that works.

    Nice for intellectual dishonesty, that is.

  25. Robert says:

    Bill T.,
    What exactly is this “evidential” basis for your views? I have to know what that is so I can demonstrate that what you think is evidence is really just argumentation. Let’s create a hypothetical situation that proves how Christians view evidence. Let’s say God comes to Earth in physical form and announces that it is time for the world to end. In order to save as many people as possible from the flames of Hell God wishes to prove Who he is so that all will believe. God performs any miracle that is asked of Him to prove his omnipotence and supernatural powers. God moves mountains, raises some of the dead to life, turns an ocean to fire and then back to its original state among other miracles. All of this is televised all over the world so everyone will see or hear of it. Then God is asked which religion is the true religion to which God responds Islam is the one true religion and we all must become Muslims or face eternal damnation in Hell. What would Bill T. and Tom Gilson do at this point?

    Tom, William Craig and Gerald Schroeder have made the claim that the Bible is anchored on relativity and quantum mechanics. Do you agree with this claim? Yes or no.

  26. BillT says:

    Robert,

    Ok, that would change my view.

    You also asked me “What exactly is this “evidential” basis for your views?” This is, I believe, where you fail to understand the basis for our faith. Biblical studies, related extra-Biblical historical texts and archeological evidence together make the Bible the most reliable ancient historical text in existence. It is orders of magnitude more reliable than the existing historical evidence for the ancient Greeks, Romans, Mesopotamians, Assyrians, Aztecs, Incas, etc. Our faith stands on a historical/archeological/textual foundation that is head and shoulders better other ancient historical studies.

    You claimed nothing could change my beliefs. You were wrong. Now, is it fair if I ask you what would change your beliefs? Unlike your quite imaginary scenario, I have actual facts, actual history, actual archeology. These are accessible in the here and now. They are here for you to look at. Given you asked what was the evidential basis for my beliefs it seems you must be unaware of all this. All of this information is out there for you to examine. Will you?

  27. Robert says:

    That is hilarious! There isn’t a shred of evidence that any of the major figures described in the Bible from Adam to Jesus ever existed. There isn’t any evidence for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah or any of their forty kings either. Outside of the Bible there isn’t a word about any of these places or people. Sure the Bible mentions historical places and people. All historical fiction does that. However historical narratives do not contain dialog, word for word conversations with people [as well as animals and invisible bogies] all speaking to each other in complete sentences. Only fictive narratives contain this kind of dialog. When we hold the Bible up to standard literary criticism it fails all the tests for historicity and passes every test for fiction with flying colors.

    You’ll never find an historical narrative written in the style the Bible is written in. You can try but they simply do not exist. Much like the bogies you’ve let other people convince you exist but do not.

    You did pass my test though. So far every Christian has told me they would think the appearance of God was a test of their faith from the real God they were preconditioned to believe in. I think there is hope for you.

  28. Robert says:

    I forgot to answer your question. I think a personal appearance by God might convince me to believe. Or at that point I might just get a check up from the neck up.

  29. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert,

    This:

    There isn’t a shred of evidence that any of the major figures described in the Bible from Adam to Jesus ever existed. There isn’t any evidence for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah or any of their forty kings either. Outside of the Bible there isn’t a word about any of these places or people.

    … is so massively false it is impossible to overstate the error.

    I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

    There are a very small number of scholars who question whether Jesus ever existed. Among the larger community of both skeptical and Christian scholars, this group is universally regarded as “fringe” and obviously wrong.

    But you go further than that. You deny the existence of Israel and Judah and “any of these places or people.”

    Did you know that archaeologists use the Bible as a guide for their research? Do you know why? It’s because it’s a good source. It contains information that helps archaeology along; and archaeological discoveries routinely confirm biblical information.

    I am just stunned that you don’t know that; and totally slack-jawed that you would state it so positively and absolutely.

    This is unbelievable.

  30. Billy Squibs says:

    Why the mocking tone?

  31. Tom Gilson says:

    You’ll never find an historical narrative written in the style the Bible is written in. You can try but they simply do not exist. Much like the bogies you’ve let other people convince you exist but do not.

    Read Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd on this. They analyze the Gospels as (in their four different ways) a unique blend of history and biography, showing elements of each genre, mixed together in a manner no one else used.

    Does this indicate a problem?

  32. Tom Gilson says:

    When we hold the Bible up to standard literary criticism it fails all the tests for historicity and passes every test for fiction with flying colors.

    Actually, the opposite is true. It passes every available/accessible test for history except for those that assume that supernature is impossible. It passes tests of detail, tests of manuscript reliability, tests of internal evidence, tests of external evidence.

    As fiction it fails, mostly in the believability of Jesus having been invented by the widely-distributed distressed multi-culture multi-language community of cognitive dysfunction faith that legend theorists believer hypothesize as the authors of this most powerful-yet-other-oriented person in all literary history.

    It fails in multiple other ways, mostly having to do with the legerdemain that must be accomplished in order to make sense of Jesus as a legend. For example, making him derivative upon Mithras when the Mithras documents post-date Jesus by centuries; supposing that the Jesus legend developed over the course of many decades, whereas we have solid evidence that the accounts were circulating within short years of his life; and on and on.

    Robert, your misinformation here is extreme. I suggest you read more widely. I don’t mean just read Christians; no, if you read respectable skeptical scholars you’ll find that they contradict you on almost every turn.

  33. BillT says:

    That is hilarious! There isn’t a shred of evidence that any of the major figures described in the Bible from Adam to Jesus ever existed.

    Though I suspected that you really weren’t a serious poster and that you were very poorly informed about the Bible and what it represents as a historical source I, like Tom, am pretty amazed you are as poorly informed as your response quite decidedly shows. Not only are the things you believe not true, they are in most cases the exact opposite of the truth. My guess is though you are quite happy and secure in your lack of knowledge and will probably though sadly remain so.

  34. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Robert:

    I forgot to answer your question. I think a personal appearance by God might convince me to believe.

    So you want a gap argument? And “I think”? In other words, this is a completely subjective, arbitrary and ad hoc standard…

    Or at that point I might just get a check up from the neck up.

    Which you can always overturn by explaining away the initial evidence. So no evidence can possibly satisfy you; discussion’s over.

  35. Billy Squibs says:

    So no evidence can possibly satisfy you; discussion’s over.

    Much like a certain Richard D.

  36. Billy Squibs says:

    A rather obvious question just occurred to me.

    Robert, have you read the Bible, specifically the NT?

    I ask because I’ve seen people answer “no” to this after previously launching into a long opinion piece about the unreliability of a series of document they have never personally studied.

  37. Jenna Black says:

    Tom,

    I have just completed reading Peter Boghossian’s book and I also listened to a segment of your broadcast on STR. Wow! I am so very glad that you are exposing PB’s book for what it is: Atheist propaganda. One of the ideas you talked about on STR that struck me the most is what you said about the purpose of PB’s tactics in contrast to the purpose of Christian apologetics. Christian apologetics are about LOVE, a word PB never uses. PB wants his followers to see their “subjects” in their use of Street Epistemology as virus-ridden (the “faith virus), mentally ill, delusional, possibly neurologically damaged, immature (kids) who are pretending to know what they don’t know and who need to be “disabused” of their faith and admit that “faith is an unreliable path to the truth.” Instead of proselytizing out of love for another, PB wants to train his minions to proselytize out of an attitude of judgmentalism, arrogance, self-righteousness and condescension. We Christians teach and make disciples out of love for Jesus and as models and vessels of Jesus’ love for us.

    Keep up the good work in debunking Peter Boghossian’s book. God bless you.

    JB

  38. Robert says:

    “… is so massively false it is impossible to overstate the error.
    I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

    > My whole point is that you can’t even begin, which is why I got a song and dance and an appeal to authority instead of some actual evidence. None of the events described in the Bible can be verified as having actually occurred using sources independent of the Bible. If all the first-born children and animals in Egypt all died on one night I think the Egyptians might have heard something about this themselves, don’t you think? The same is true about the supposed existence of the major figures described in the Bible. History knows nothing of them either including Jesus and the apostles. Please don’t bother trotting out Pliny, Tacitus, Josephus and Suetonius. None of them were alive during the time Jesus supposedly lived so anything they wrote would have been hearsay and not even first or second hand hearsay at that. Philo lived in and around Jerusalem in the first half of the First Century. The silence from him on Jesus is deafening. All these people follow Jesus and his group and witness all these miracles, dead people climb out of their graves and appear to many others and not one word about any of this from anyone independent of the Bible? And you ask why I don’t believe any of it. Incredible. Archaelogists use the Bible? Are you kidding me? Archaeologists can tell us about hunter gatherers that lived in the desert 30,000 years ago where the Israelites supposedly camped for forty years but they can’t tell us a thing about the Moses and the Israelites who were supposedly there just 3000 years ago. You can say I’m on the fringe and “obviously wrong” but you have no facts to back the up. It’s the exact same bluster Christian apologists all give us when challenged to provide some real evidence independent of the Bible to support their claims about the Bible.

    “Actually, the opposite is true. It passes every available/accessible test for history except for those that assume that supernature is impossible. It passes tests of detail, tests of manuscript reliability, tests of internal evidence, tests of external evidence.”

    > Okay. Name your best external evidence. Actual people and places mentioned in a story do not prove that the story itself is true. Historical fiction almost always mentions real people and places. However we don’t have any conversations that Nebuchadnezzar had with anyone recorded anywhere, including the Bible. Dialog, people speaking to each other in complete sentences is a dead giveaway that the narrative is fictive. At least it is for those of us that haven’t let other people convince us the Bible is some kind of magic book that must be believed or else.

    “Robert, your misinformation here is extreme. I suggest you read more widely. I don’t mean just read Christians; no, if you read respectable skeptical scholars you’ll find that they contradict you on almost every turn.”

    > I don’t care what other people think about what they have read. I can read and I can recognize what it is I am reading. Your mistake is letting other people tell you what you are reading, never mind what else you let them tell you to do or don’t do, think or don’t think. It is a fact however that there are plenty of scholars who have said that Jesus never existed, some of whom were Christians before they did a little research. Why don’t you look into the subject a little more closely yourself?

    “Though I suspected that you really weren’t a serious poster and that you were very poorly informed about the Bible and what it represents as a historical source I, like Tom, am pretty amazed you are as poorly informed as your response quite decidedly shows. Not only are the things you believe not true, they are in most cases the exact opposite of the truth. My guess is though you are quite happy and secure in your lack of knowledge and will probably though sadly remain so.

    > That, what you just said is a whole lot of nothing. You could easily have given several examples of just how and why I am wrong if I really am. But I’m not and so I got a lot of nothing. No one is more poorly informed about the Bible than those who believe it.

    “Which you can always overturn by explaining away the initial evidence. So no evidence can possibly satisfy you; discussion’s over.”

    > What evidence? What is this evidence of which you speak?

    “Robert, have you read the Bible, specifically the NT?”

    > Yes and in Greek. I’ve written about the Bible as well and I would be happy to share some of what I’ve written with anyone who is interested.

  39. Tom Gilson says:

    Oh well.

    98% of NT scholars are wrong about the existence of Jesus, and Robert will tell you so. Building on that base credibility, he’ll tell you everything else you need to believe, too.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he even told us to be careful which authorities we listen to ;) .

  40. Robert says:

    “98% of NT scholars are wrong about the existence of Jesus, and Robert will tell you so. Building on that base credibility, he’ll tell you everything else you need to believe, too.”

    > First of all, as any science minded person knows, the number of people that believe something has no bearing on its validity. I’m going to guess you are an evolution denier who, without a shred of evidence to back it up claims that 99% of the scientists in the world and 100% of the biologists in the world are wrong about evolution. Like the other Christians I have discussed this with, I’m pretty sure you would tell me that at least 98% and probably 100% of the Muslim scholars are wrong about the Koran being what Muslims claim it is. Yet when it comes to your holy book your supposed “scholars” are right about the claims they make about it. You religionists won’t accept each others holy books or scholars, miracles or personal experiences of God as evidence that their religions are true but you demand others accept your holy books, scholars, miracles and personal experiences of God as evidence that your religion is true. I find this kind of arrogance comical.

    The difference between what a NT “scholar” knows about the Bible and what your average believer knows is minescule anyway, not at all like the huge difference between a what a scientist knows and what a science-minded layperson might have learned. Furthermore NT scholars have been fed a lot of really bad information. For example NT scholars may know about Church history as it was invented an written by Eusebius but this history is total fiction. None of these early Church fathers actually existed but were all invented by Eusebius an admitted liar and forger.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if he even told us to be careful which authorities we listen to ;) .”

    > Yes, don’t listen to ANY supposed authorities. It’s time to dump this non-rational authoritarianism and absolutism and take the reigns yourself. YOU are the decider, YOU are the authority. I know that might be frightening at first but you gotta trust yourself not other people.

  41. Billy Squibs says:

    For example NT scholars may know about Church history as it was invented an written by Eusebius but this history is total fiction. None of these early Church fathers actually existed but were all invented by Eusebius an admitted liar and forger.

    Wow! I’m convinced what with all that evidence you supplied.

    Yes, don’t listen to ANY supposed authorities

    OK, so thanks to the richly diverse and meticulously annotated evidence you supplied you have to help me out here.

    Are you saying that you are an authority and we should not listen to your opinion?

    But wait! That’s too simple. You must have meant something else.

    Perhaps we should actually take your advice on board about disregarding authorities which would mean that we should discard your above sentence and actually listen to your authority?

    Oh! this is hard.

    OK, final shot. Maybe you aren’t an authority on these matters and you don’t know what you are speaking about. Therefore we shouldn’t bother listening to you unless you can back your claims up with something a little more substantive?

    Dammit, Robert, you pose a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_eZmEiyTo0

  42. Robert says:

    Billy,
    Why are you Christians so obsessed with authority and authoritarianism? That is a rhetorical question. Despite what the Bible says, knowledge does not come from authority or revelation.
    Knowledge comes slowly and painfully after a lot of hard work, experimentation, demonstration, a healthy dose of skepticism, some more hard work, some reflection and a few other things. We learn by doing. Your teachers didn’t just tell you what needed to know. They gave you homework and tests so you could figure it out all by yourself. Unless you were home-schooled so you would not learn the art of critical thinking or anything about science. Anyway I don’t claim to be an authority. I’m just a friendly atheist posting comments on a Christian blog. In this particular case I was just trying to help a fellow human being find his way out of intellectual servitude to false beliefs. If you don’t think I’m worth paying attention to because I’m not some supposed authority that’s fine.

    What do you or anyone else know about early Church history that did not come from Eusebius one way or another?

  43. Tom Gilson says:

    Church history?

    In no particular order:

    Inscriptions. Writings on catacomb walls. Artifacts. Incipient architectural details. Birth and death records. Matthew. Mark. Luke. John. Aristides. The Didache. Pliny. Suetonius. Justin Martyr, Athenagoras. Iranaeus. Josephus. Polycarp. Tertullian. Origen. Celsus. Athanasius. Arius. Philo of Alexandria. Lucian of Samaosata. Paul. Julian the Apostate.

    And Eusebius.

  44. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert, your calm assurance that knowledge doesn’t come from authority is false for the great majority of your knowledge and mine. What’s the capital of Libya? Have you been there? How did you find out?

    Your calm assurance that knowledge doesn’t come from revelation is of course right if you are right that there is no God who has revealed himself. In other words, if you are right, then you are right. It would be much simpler for you, though, and it would clutter up our conversation a lot less, if you just said, “There is no God, so there is no God. I am right about this, therefore I am right.” You could nod sagely as you say so if you think that might help.

    Then with the tautology exposed in that way, the rest of us could shake our heads sagely back toward you as we go about our business of actually investigating and discussing whether there is or isn’t reason to believe there is a God who has revealed himself.

    There are, after all, ways to assess the quality of knowledge by authority, and those means can even be applied to revelation.

    Or in more direct language without the sarcasm, Robert (though I think you deserved it), I have no patience for such obviously fallacious and (yes, despite what you said) authority-based pronouncements masquerading as arguments.

    I was tempted to add, “You’ll have to do better than that,” which would be true in its way, but not the best thing for you. Better to say, “You really ought to listen better than that–listen to yourself, listen to others here, and listen to reason as it applies to you and to us.”

  45. Robert says:

    Tom,
    Local authorities may have decided what the capital of Libya shall be but I don’t need them to tell me what it is. I can find that out all by myself. The only thing revealed religions have taught us is that they are all false. I don’t remember saying there is no God. However since you brought that and the subject of reason up I will say there is no reason to believe in any God. Unbelief is the natural position to take on any subject until something has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The existence of God has not been proved and so the natural position to take on the supposed existence of God is unbelief or atheism. You know an atheist doesn’t have to be a person who says there is no God. An atheist is simply a person who sees that the evidence for God is on the same level as the evidence for werewolves, leprechauns and UFO abductions. And I don’t think a person who believes the Bible is true because it says it is should be talking about tautologies. That’s just rich!

  46. Tom Gilson says:

    Sure, Robert, you can find out all by yourself what the capital of Libya is.

    But I asked you a question: what’s the capital of Libya? How did you come to know that?

    And now I want to know how revealed religions have taught us that they are all false. There are different opinions about who is likely to win the men’s NCAA basketball title this year. There are differing opinions on what the state should define as legal marriage. There are differing opinions as to whether string theory is correct in any form, and which version (if any) is closest to being correct.

    Are they all false?

  47. BillT says:

    I’ve been wondering what to make of you Robert. You’re a person who’s position how we gain knowledge not only invalidates all of ancient history but all of history of any kind (much of science and the rest of academia as well) and probably 99% of what you yourself know. All of this while telling us authoritatively not to believe in any authority. That is quite a feat. I’ve come to believe though Robert you are truly a gift. It’s not often we get someone who can contradict themselves so completely as you do without even a hint of self awareness. We are prone at times to believing that people who can’t understand the basic reality of the universe are themselves prone to getting lots of other things wrong. We rarely though have it demonstrated to conclusively.

  48. Robert says:

    Bill,
    Knowledge is just the acquisition of information. That comes through experience. Now let’s see your theory on how we humans gain knowledge. I’m sure it’s based on the finest religious woo-woo. I’ll say it again: I don’t claim to be an authority. What I said is akin to telling someone their shoe is untied. Apparently you would ignore that particular warning unless the person giving it was an expert, an authority on shoes and shoelaces. And where does a person who believes in angels, demons, Satan, heaven, hell and who knows what else, get the nerve to talk about other people not understanding reality. Talk about a lack of self-awareness!

    Tom,
    Is Islam a false religion? How about Hinduism? How do you know?

  49. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert: you’ll have to follow my new series. The short answer, though is this: Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected, and they deny this. Because they deny the most important truth about the greatest spiritual leader of all time, they cannot be true religions.

  50. Tom Gilson says:

    “finest religious woo-woo” — is that a technical term, Robert? Ho poisoning of any well involved, no loading of the language, no hidden anti-religious assumptions contained in your anti-religous conclusion, nothing to hinder honest and reasoned discourse, right?

    This is a blog for people to think together. It’s not for that kind of disrespect. If you have a point to make, then make it with reasoning, not with that emotively empty nonsense.

  51. BillT says:

    Robert,

    Knowledge doesn’t come through any one means. We get it from authority and experience among others. However, claiming we don’t get knowledge from authority is absurd. Most of the rest of what you replied doesn’t logically follow from what I said so I can’t comment on it. And belief in a spiritual reality isn’t a sign of not understanding reality if it’s true and I don’t believe you or anyone else has shown it not to be. Not understanding the above, however, might be a different story.

  52. Robert says:

    “Robert: you’ll have to follow my new series. The short answer, though is this: Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected, and they deny this. Because they deny the most important truth about the greatest spiritual leader of all time, they cannot be true religions.”

    > Your “truth” is removed from the realm of fact. It is not a fact that Jesus existed, it is an article of faith. You were challenged to provide some evidence that Jesus did exist and you failed to do so. But true to form for a creationist you went right on repeating your claim as if no objections to it were raised. Bad debating ethics reflect bad personal ethics.

    “Knowledge doesn’t come through any one means. We get it from authority and experience among others. However, claiming we don’t get knowledge from authority is absurd. Most of the rest of what you replied doesn’t logically follow from what I said so I can’t comment on it. And belief in a spiritual reality isn’t a sign of not understanding reality if it’s true and I don’t believe you or anyone else has shown it not to be. Not understanding the above, however, might be a different story.”

    > Let me be very clear. There is no accurate information in the Bible or coming from any God.

  53. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert,

    If you have something informed to say, please feel free to do so, but “You were challenged to provide some evidence that Jesus did exist and you failed to do so” is a great example of (may I quote you?) “Bad debating ethics reflect bad personal ethics.”

    See here. I have that scheduled. I alluded to it already in #49. In the meantime, expecting us to jump through hoops according to your demands on your schedule reflects bad personal ethics.

    You say we kept on repeating the claim as if no objection was raised, but see comments #29 and #43, among many others. Did you respond to #43?

    These are laughably false: “It is not a fact that Jesus existed,” and “Let me be very clear. There is no accurate information in the Bible.” They are both completely contrary to all credible scholarship, both believing and skeptical. Your approach here is massively prejudicial. It comes with no supporting information. It consists of bare assertions. It is so completely unproductive, not only for being a bare assertions, but also for being so obviously untrue, these things aren’t worth entertaining on this blog.

    See Item 9 in the Discussion Policies, and consider this your first notice. If you decide to comment productively you may continue commenting here. (See also #49 with relation to the discussion policies.)

  54. Robert says:

    Let’s see, credible scholars are the ones who agree with you. I shoudn’t have to remind you that all credible scientists accept evolutionary theory. I’m pretty sure you do not. So telling me how many people agree with you is telling me exactly nothing. And of course evolution destroys the reason Jesus would have had to die in the first place. So put that with the fact that there is no evidence that Jesus actually existed and you have no good reason to believe such a person did exist.

    So when people destroy your arguments do you always threaten to ban them from posting on your blog?

  55. Tom Gilson says:

    No, Robert. When people threaten to destroy my arguments I do not always threaten to ban them. What on earth gave you the slightest hint of any minuscule trace of evidence that that might be the case? Show me in writing, please. Or show me how nobody comments here except people who agree with me.

    (I don’t think you believe in evidence. If you did, you wouldn’t have thought of asking that question.)

    As for Bible vs. evolution, I will have opportunity in the coming weeks to explain not only that scholars (credible ones) are unanimous on certain facts regarding Jesus, but also to show why they are. Until then, I’ve taken the short road of calling on their authority.

    Does that mean that in order to be consistent I must also accept evolution? Not if I can explain reasons to doubt it—which I do, at least in the case of naturalistic evolution. When scientists proclaim that naturalistic evolution is true, they’re speaking outside their discipline, so they have no real authority. It’s a philosophical/metaphysical issue, not a scientific one.

    With respect to other aspects of evolution–common descent, change over time, etc., I’m not convinced these same scientists haven’t allowed their metaphysics to drive their ostensibly scientific conclusions, so I’m suspending judgment on that.

    Thus there’s no inconsistency between my approach to the one question and to the other.

    Meanwhile all you’ve offered in support of your position is that you say it’s true. I’ve offered reasons to believe my position is true, and I’ll bring forth a lot more in coming weeks. I’ve already told you that in a previous comment—did you notice?

    Oh, by the way: if you really, really think that I might ban you for threatening to destroy my arguments, you might consider the fact that so far you haven’t threatened me with that. Bare assertions do not constitute a threat of that sort.

  56. Billy Squibs says:

    Odd. This is the second time that Robert has mentioned evolution as if it’s some deal breaker.

    I’m curious how people like Francis Collins and Denis Alexander fit into this rather simplistic anti-religious paradigm. Indeed, how would a critique of neo-Darwinism from an atheist like Thomas Nagel fit into this paradigm?

    More importantly how does evolution destroy the reason Jesus would have to die?

    Please feel free to answer, Robert.

    BTW, as someone who has no immediate issue with evolution, I think it interesting that you have accused Tom of believing

    credible scholars are the ones who agree with you.

    and then followed that rather uncharitable assertion (one that I can’t say I’ve noticed) immediately by this

    I shoudn’t have to remind you that all credible scientists accept evolutionary theory.

    Whether this is appeal to authority is true or not is really not the issue. Rather, what is interesting is your use of double standards within the space of two sentences.

    And one final thing, Robert. I would love for you to demonstrate that you are interested in having a serious discussion with the likes of Tom. When you say things like “Let me be very clear. There is no accurate information in the Bible or coming from any God.” or “when people destroy your arguments do you always threaten to ban them” I get the impression that you aren’t interested in conversation. But then again arguing with faceless strangers on blogs and forums can be addictive, no? Far easier to fire out assertions and get worked up in to fits of righteous indignation then to actually listen to your opponent – perhaps even stopping to remember their humanness in the process.

    I know all this as a recovering addict.

  57. Robert says:

    “As for Bible vs. evolution, I will have opportunity in the coming weeks to explain not only that scholars (credible ones) are unanimous on certain facts regarding Jesus, but also to show why they are. Until then, I’ve taken the short road of calling on their authority.”

    > Just what are these certain “facts” regarding Jesus? I can’t tell you why I don’t believe them to be facts if I don’t know what they are.

    “Does that mean that in order to be consistent I must also accept evolution? Not if I can explain reasons to doubt it—which I do, at least in the case of naturalistic evolution. When scientists proclaim that naturalistic evolution is true, they’re speaking outside their discipline,
    so they have no real authority. It’s a philosophical/metaphysical issue, not a scientific one.”

    > That’s ridiculous. Talk about speaking out of one’s discipline! Do you have a degree in biology? Philosophers are not qualified to judge the validity of a scientific explanation, if they’re qualified to judge or do anything at all. And what does metaphysics have to do with anything? Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a 30,000 page menu and no food. Biologists are the only people qualified to explain evolutionary theory. Not biochemists like Michael Behe, not theologians like William Craig, not sideshow carnival barkers like Ken Ham and not you. Scientists don’t think in terms of something being “true.” They are looking for what is useful. Scientific theories prove themselves to be true by being useful. No scientific theory has been more useful, more productive, than evolutionary theory.

    “With respect to other aspects of evolution–common descent, change over time, etc., I’m not convinced these same scientists haven’t allowed their metaphysics to drive their ostensibly scientific conclusions, so I’m suspending judgment on that.”

    > That argument fails because every Christian college and university with a science department teaches evolution. Not only that, these Christian schools all go to great lengths to distance themselves from creationism in any of its disguises and the people who promote this stuff such as Michael Behe and William Dembski.

    “Meanwhile all you’ve offered in support of your position is that you say it’s true. I’ve offered reasons to believe my position is true, and I’ll bring forth a lot more in coming weeks. I’ve already told you that in a previous comment—did you notice?”

    > My position that the Bible is not even remotely historical is supported by the fact that none of the events described in the Bible or the existence of any of the major figures in the Bible can be verified using sources independent of the Bible. You know things like the Exodus events, the existence of the Patriarchs or a zombie invasion in Jerusalem should be able to be verified using independent sources. Go ahead. Verify something. Or someone.

    “More importantly how does evolution destroy the reason Jesus would have to die?
    Please feel free to answer, Robert.”

    > Well most popular apologists will say that without a literal fall of man in the Garden of Eden there is no need for redemption and so no need for Jesus to die for our sins. However you could argue that if sin exists in the world redemption is still necessary. Or that sin itself is the problem not one particular instance of sin. You could point out that people who do not believe in a literal Adam and Eve still feel the need for redemption. So it depends on how you view the Bible’s origins story. If you take it literally then it would negate the reason Jesus had to die. Literalists are who I usually bump into on these blogs.

    ‘Whether this is appeal to authority is true or not is really not the issue. Rather, what is interesting is your use of double standards within the space of two sentences.’

    > I was being ridiculed not with facts but because I hold a minority opinion. All I did was remind Tom that he also holds a minority opinion. The difference is that it doesn’t really matter what Bible scholars believe. It matters very much what scientists believe because they actually make the world a better, healthier, safer and easier place to live as time goes on. And what scientists believe today the rest of us will believe tomorrow. I highly doubt many people will care what Bible scholars believe in the not so distant future.

    “And one final thing, Robert. I would love for you to demonstrate that you are interested in having a serious discussion with the likes of Tom. When you say things like “Let me be very clear. There is no accurate information in the Bible or coming from any God.”

    > No, that was for you, not Tom. I want to be clear about which authority, the kind of authority I’m talking about.

  58. Tom Gilson says:

    Oh, gimme a break.

    Robert, I wrote,

    “As for Bible vs. evolution, I will have opportunity in the coming weeks to explain not only that scholars (credible ones) are unanimous on certain facts regarding Jesus, but also to show why they are. Until then, I’ve taken the short road of calling on their authority.”

    You replied,

    > Just what are these certain “facts” regarding Jesus? I can’t tell you why I don’t believe them to be facts if I don’t know what they are.

    First, that’s a hoot. You don’t know what I’m going to offer as facts, but you’ve already decided that they aren’t.

    It’s almost as funny as, “No scientific theory has been more useful, more productive, than evolutionary theory.” But not quite. That one’s funnier.

    Second, you’re being impatient and demanding. I said I would have opportunity in coming weeks to tell you about them. I set up a table of contents for a long series. This demand for “what are these certain ‘facts’?” is not very gracious.

    No one pays me to do this. If you want them in a real hurry, though, I can make an exception and let you do that. Otherwise, calm down and let me move at a pace that works for me.

    But you’re going to call it ridiculous anyway, as you did my concerns about naturalistic evolution. No, I’m not a biologist. Naturalism is not an issue of either science or biology, but of philosophy. If you don’t like metaphysics, then why aren’t you complaining to the biologists who are practicing it with their naturalistic assumptions?

    (Edit: Robert is not banned as in the first version of this comment. I misread something. Close but not quite. My apologies for the error.)

  59. Robert says:

    First, that’s a hoot. You don’t know what I’m going to offer as facts, but you’ve already decided that they aren’t.`

    > I’ve seen every argument that you will make hundreds of times before. I just don’t know which ones you are going to pick.

    It’s almost as funny as, “No scientific theory has been more useful, more productive, than evolutionary theory.” But not quite. That one’s funnier.

    > Name it and claim it. What scientific theory has improved the human condition more than evolutionary theory? Please don’t ignore or sidestep this question. Why does the doctor tell you to keep taking the antibiotic even after your symptoms are gone? Because if you don’t continue the regimen it will cause natural selection in the pathogen to select for resistance. The origin of resistance in antibiotics is an evolutionary mechanism. If we didn’t know how that works millions of people would die from otherwise easily curable diseases that were not curable before we learned how nature structures itself through natural selection. You would very likely have died years ago but for the theory you claim not to believe in! It doesn’t get much more hypocritical than that. Why don’t you tell a farmer that there’s no such thing as insect evolution? Why do you think the manufacturers have to keep changing the formula for their poisons? How do you think we figured out how to keep HIV and AIDS patients alive longer? We have used our knowledge of how the human immune system evolved, something Michael Behe claims could not have happened. Do you know anything about gene splicing and what that is used for? Did you know that tracing genes of known function and comparing how they are related to unknown genes helps biologists predict unknown gene function, which is the foundation for drug discovery? Did you realize that forensics is actually evolutionary medicine? Evolution denialism is absurd. You might as well tell me the earth is flat, motionless and sits on a foundation supported by pillars – the way it is described in the Bible.

    “Second, you’re being impatient and demanding. I said I would have opportunity in coming weeks to tell you about them. I set up a table of contents for a long series. This demand for “what are these certain ‘facts’?” is not very gracious.”

    > So sorry. I’m quite charming in person. How hard would it be to just type out just one or two of them right now?

    ‘But you’re going to call it ridiculous anyway, as you did my concerns about naturalistic evolution. No, I’m not a biologist. Naturalism is not an issue of either science or biology, but of philosophy. If you don’t like metaphysics, then why aren’t you complaining to the biologists who are practicing it with their naturalistic assumptions?’

    > The naturalism that science adopts is methodological naturalism. Naturalism assumes that Nature is all there is. Many scientists are deists or theists and so science itself does not assume that Nature is all there is but uses Nature because it is the only objective standard we have. Scientists use naturalism because it works. Methodological naturalism has led to progress in medicine, industry, agriculture and so on. Super-naturalism has gotten us nowhere.

    In what way are biologists practicing metaphysics? Scientists are people who work and produce results. Metaphysics is for people who can do neither. Let’s be real here. What you are really objecting to is the fact that scientists do not interpret evidence according to your religious preconceptions. Scientists that have a certain bias know very well that their findings will be scrutinized by scientists who do not share that bias. So your accusation that scientists or biologists in particular are practicing metaphysics is a fail. Again. That’s the second fail. You failed to respond to my objection that every Christian college and university that has a science department teaches evolution. Are those Christian scientists practicing metaphysics as well? Go ahead ignore both objections and go right on making the same claim over and over and over and over again as if no objections to it were ever raised. It’s your blog you don’t have to respond to any criticism you don’t care to. Thanks for looking them over though. Same to you Billy.

  60. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert,

    You haven’t seen all my arguments. I know that for a fact.

    Regardless, your dismissal of what I write before I write it is moving you one step closer to being dismissed before you wrote. It’s rude, and it doesn’t belong on a thinking blog.

    Evolutionary theory is virtually incidental to medicine. The examples you described require no theory of speciation, only of adaptation. Theories of antibiotic resistance are quite arguably less important in medical history than, say, the development of antibiotics in the first place. Gene splicing, too, has only a tangential relationship with the natural history of species. You’re overstating your case very badly.

    “Second, you’re being impatient and demanding. I said I would have opportunity in coming weeks to tell you about them. I set up a table of contents for a long series. This demand for “what are these certain ‘facts’?” is not very gracious.”

    > So sorry. I’m quite charming in person. How hard would it be to just type out just one or two of them right now?

    Hard. Be patient, or you won’t be around to comment on them when I do. What, do you want me to present some superficial argument so you can slap it around? No, thanks.

    A case can be made for adopting methodological naturalism in science, although I think it’s far less supportable, more cluttered up with non-science, than regularism. Regardless of that, you can’t call on methodological naturalism as a rebuttal to comments I made specifically concerning ontological naturalism (which is the naturalism in naturalistic evolution).

    Supernaturalism has gotten us nowhere? What does that have to do with the topic at hand?

    In what way are biologists practicing metaphysics? Scientists are people who work and produce results. Metaphysics is for people who can do neither.

    Every biologist who says evolution happened purely by natural causes is assuming ontological naturalism, the absence of a supernatural cause in natural history. That’s metaphysical speculation.

    What you are really objecting to is the fact that scientists do not interpret evidence according to your religious preconceptions.

    No, I object to their interpreting evidence according to non-scientific preconceptions, which they have no business doing.

    o your accusation that scientists or biologists in particular are practicing metaphysics is a fail. Again. That’s the second fail.

    Wrong.

    You failed to respond to my objection that every Christian college and university that has a science department teaches evolution. Are those Christian scientists practicing metaphysics as well?

    Probably. The question is whether they’re honest and competent in it. Scientists who say “the science” informs us that the world is entirely natural are practicing metaphysics either incompetently or dishonestly, or both.

  61. SteveK says:

    Why does the doctor tell you to keep taking the antibiotic even after your symptoms are gone? Because if you don’t continue the regimen it will cause natural selection in the pathogen to select for resistance.

    Oh, I agree. My doctor says this stuff all the time. Just the other day I asked to see the form she submitted to the insurance company seeking an approval for my upcoming colonoscopy. Sure enough, the reason she stated was “So that natural selection won’t select for color cancer”. Thank Darwin, she got the approval. Now natural selection won’t have to select for poverty and subsequently ruin my life.

  62. Robert says:

    You haven’t seen all my arguments. I know that for a fact.

    > So we don’t get off the subject, the facts regarding Jesus that scholars unanimously agree on is what I asked about.

    Evolutionary theory is virtually incidental to medicine. The examples you described require no theory of speciation, only of adaptation. Theories of antibiotic resistance are quite arguably less important in medical history than, say, the development of antibiotics in the first place…

    > The origin of antibiotic-resistant organisms is a textbook example of natural selection. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars testing their products on animals because they know from evolution that humans share a common ancestor with other animals. This is a good example of how our knowledge of speciation improves our lives. There was only one source for the anti-cancer drug Taxol and this tree is rare and grows slowly. So scientists studied the evolutionary history of the tree and found the compound in more common trees it was related to thereby making the drug much more common, cheaper and saving many more lives. Another example of how our knowledge of speciation improves our well being.

    “A case can be made for adopting methodological naturalism in science, although I think it’s far less supportable, more cluttered up with non-science, than regularism.”

    > Precisely what non-science are you talking about?

    “Regardless of that, you can’t call on methodological naturalism as a rebuttal to comments I made specifically concerning ontological naturalism (which is the naturalism in naturalistic evolution).”

    > Science doesn’t consider the supernatural. So in what way is the study of biology any different than any other area of science? How is evolutionary theory any different than say, atomic theory? Creationists love to claim no one has seen evolution. Nobody has ever seen an electron but we don’t hear creationists saying atomic theory is only a theory.

    Supernaturalism has gotten us nowhere? What does that have to do with the topic at hand?

    > You were going to give some reasons you doubt evolutionary theory. Are those reasons based on some new and more explanatory naturalistic theory? Or are those reasons based on your belief that some things require a supernatural explanation?

    “Every biologist who says evolution happened purely by natural causes is assuming ontological naturalism, the absence of a supernatural cause in natural history. That’s metaphysical speculation.”

    > It’s not really speculation to assume that something for which there isn’t a shred of evidence doesn’t exist or hasn’t happened. Scientists can only work with evidence. If there were some evidence for the supernatural then scientists would take that into consideration and in fact ask for grants to study it. However assuming supernatural intervention has never gotten us anywhere or produced any results and in fact has been counter-productive. Only Naturalism has gotten results.

    “No, I object to their interpreting evidence according to non-scientific preconceptions, which they have no business doing.”

    > Again, any scientist with preconceptions knows very well that his or her findings will be scrutinized, tested, examined and falsified by other scientists who do not share their preconceptions. So any preconceptions or biases get weeded out quickly. No avenue of humans endeavor is more open to scrutiny than science.

    “Probably. The question is whether they’re honest and competent in it. Scientists who say “the science” informs us that the world is entirely natural are practicing metaphysics either incompetently or dishonestly, or both.”

    > So what you are really saying is that people who give reasons for believing in the God you believe in have grounds to do so. It’s every Christian’s duty, their “great commission.” However people who give sound, scientific reasons for rejecting such a thoroughly anti-scientific belief are somehow not qualified to do so. Who gets to decide that? You and other Bible believers? Theologians who write books promoting Intelligent Design Magic and claiming supernatural explanations for things we already have satisfactory, productive naturalistic explanations for are not competent to do so and are being dishonest. Do you have a problem with non-scientists like William Craig and William Dembski writing books pretending to refute evolutionary theory? You should. Thankfully a few legitimate scientists have taken the time to counter the claims of creationists and show why their arguments do not stand up to scrutiny. I don’t see why it should bother you if these same scientists also tell us why they think their findings point to the fact that there is no God.

  63. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert, your question about which facts is in the category of “whatever…” as far as I’m concerned.

    Your defense of the importance of understanding speciation is rather embarrassingly devoid of any reference to speciation.

    What non-science am I talking about? Read the link, please.

    Science doesn’t consider the supernatural. So in what way is the study of biology any different than any other area of science? How is evolutionary theory any different than say, atomic theory? Creationists love to claim no one has seen evolution. Nobody has ever seen an electron but we don’t hear creationists saying atomic theory is only a theory.

    I’m scratching my head trying to find an argument here. Is there one, with respect to naturalism and my preferred “regularism”? And do you really want me to go into all the relevant differences between nuclear physics and theories of the origin of life and the species? (There are many.)

    You were going to give some reasons you doubt evolutionary theory.

    Actually, no, I wasn’t planning to get off on that rabbit trail.

    Only Naturalism has gotten results.

    Was Pasteur a believer in naturalism? Vesalius? Galileo? Newton? Boyle? Faraday? Maxwell? Kepler? (I could go on and on and on…)

    “Probably. The question is whether they’re honest and competent in it. Scientists who say “the science” informs us that the world is entirely natural are practicing metaphysics either incompetently or dishonestly, or both.”

    > So what you are really saying is that people who give reasons for believing in the God you believe in have grounds to do so.

    Whether I say that or not has nothing to do with certain scientists’ metaphysical errors.

    However people who give sound, scientific reasons for rejecting such a thoroughly anti-scientific belief are somehow not qualified to do so.

    It’s not anti-scientific; it’s anti-philosophical naturalistic, which means it’s in opposition to a school of metaphysical belief, not science.

    Do you have a problem with non-scientists like William Craig and William Dembski writing books pretending to refute evolutionary theory?

    Should I? From what I’ve observed they talk about what they know, and when they leave their fields of expertise they become cautiously circumspect.

    Would that you would do the same.

  64. Billy Squibs says:

    I think both Robert and yourself are having two different conversations. He seems to want to talk exclusively about evolutionary theory, whereas you seem to want to talk about the metaphysical underpinnings of worldviews such as philosophical naturalism.

  65. Tom Gilson says:

    Actually, Billy, I’m trying to explain to him that naturalistic evolution is not a purely scientific theory because the “naturalistic” part is philosophical, not scientific.

  66. Billy Squibs says:

    I see that, Tom. And I thought I said as much in the comment. But it looks to me like he really isn’t getting the distinction or is more interested in heading down rabbit trails. But it’s not my conversation and maybe I should keep my mouth shut. This said…

    Scientists are people who work and produce results. Metaphysics is for people who can do neither.

    When I’ve encountered this type of flat fundamentalism before I’ve not been able to do successfully engage with it. Partly this is because of my own ignorance, bullheadedness and lack of persuasivenesses. And partly because “Science” to such people is self-contained in nature. The notion, for example, that data is interpreted by humans (each with our own understanding of how the world works or should work) and woven into narratives about how we think the world works is apparently rejected or of no consequence. So when a scientist says “there is no grand purpose to life” that is often understood to be a statement of science (and therefore fact) rather than the metaphysical (or teleological) claims of a person who just so happens to work in science. Hence we see quotes like Robert’s quote above.

  67. Tom Gilson says:

    I get what you’re saying now.

    Robert, this conversation has little potential and little future if you won’t take the effort to understand the distinction between scientific and metaphysical assumptions. You can dismiss metaphysics as you did in the line Billy quoted, but that won’t change the fact that naturalistic evolution is a scientific theory overladen with a metaphysical theory, and it won’t change the fact that the metaphysical assumptions there came from someplace other than science.

    As long as you keep conflating philosophical naturalism with science you’ll misunderstand naturalistic evolution.

    That’s not to say you misunderstand Darwin’s theory or any of its successors. I’m not doubting that. You misunderstand the metaphysical errors that get laid on top of all that, and it would do you well to open your mind up to the possibility that you don’t get it, and you need to do some learning.

  68. Robert says:

    Name and claim ‘em. What are these metaphysical errors? I don’t think either of you even know why we study nature. It’s what scientists DO that is important. Philosophers and theologians don’t DO anything and so what THEY say is of no importance. None.

  69. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert, what kind of conversation do you think this is? Is this a game of fetch, where you throw the same ball over and over again, and expect me to go get it for you over and over again?

    This is going to result in your comments being moderated before they appear from now on. See the end of this comment.

    You ask, “what are these metaphysical errors?” and you say “it’s what scientists DO that’s important.” The problem is that one of the things some of them DO is practice metaphysics and call it science.

    That’s the error. Let me say it again (fetch): The error is scientists practicing metaphysics and calling it science.

    Have I fetched this ball for you before? Note the added emphasis in this quotes from earlier in the thread:

    Does that mean that in order to be consistent I must also accept evolution? Not if I can explain reasons to doubt it—which I do, at least in the case of naturalistic evolution. When scientists proclaim that naturalistic evolution is true, they’re speaking outside their discipline, so they have no real authority. It’s a philosophical/metaphysical issue, not a scientific one.

    But you’re going to call it ridiculous anyway, as you did my concerns about naturalistic evolution. No, I’m not a biologist. Naturalism is not an issue of either science or biology, but of philosophy. If you don’t like metaphysics, then why aren’t you complaining to the biologists who are practicing it with their naturalistic assumptions?

    Every biologist who says evolution happened purely by natural causes is assuming ontological naturalism, the absence of a supernatural cause in natural history. That’s metaphysical speculation.

    Scientists who say “the science” informs us that the world is entirely natural are practicing metaphysics either incompetently or dishonestly, or both.

    It’s not anti-scientific; it’s anti-philosophical naturalistic, which means it’s in opposition to a school of metaphysical belief, not science.

    Actually, Billy, I’m trying to explain to him that naturalistic evolution is not a purely scientific theory because the “naturalistic” part is philosophical, not scientific.

    Robert, this conversation has little potential and little future if you won’t take the effort to understand the distinction between scientific and metaphysical assumptions. You can dismiss metaphysics as you did in the line Billy quoted, but that won’t change the fact that naturalistic evolution is a scientific theory overladen with a metaphysical theory, and it won’t change the fact that the metaphysical assumptions there came from someplace other than science.

    As long as you keep conflating philosophical naturalism with science you’ll misunderstand naturalistic evolution.

    And now let me quote you something else. This is from the discussion policy.

    9. There have been a few persistently unproductive discussions on this blog. I may decide to close off comments by one or more persons on those threads, just on the basis of their being unproductive. This applies also to “discussions” in which a commenter’s transparent purpose is just to stand and shoot at other people’s opinions, rather than to engage in productive dialogue. It includes fragenblitzen techniques (bursts of simultaneous multiple questions, with the implication that if they’re not all simultaneously answered then the questioner has won the round.) It may also apply to discussions in which a commenter persistently and/or selectively ignores discussion directed toward him or her.

    Playing fetch is a way of ignoring what’s already been said. Asking someone to repeat again what they’ve said over and over again is extremely disruptive and unproductive.

    Your future comments will go into moderation. If there’s any productive substance to any of them I’ll release them for discussion here.

  70. Billy Squibs says:

    Name and claim ‘em. What are these metaphysical errors? I don’t think either of you even know why we study nature. It’s what scientists DO that is important. Philosophers and theologians don’t DO anything and so what THEY say is of no importance. None.

    I alluded to something already, Robert. When Richard Dawkins wrote of the universe that there is “at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” he was denying teleology and thereby doing something other than science. Now whether we can actually agree that this is an error is part of the debate. However, as you have close off the avenues of philosophy and theology by asserting that they are all but worthless as disciplines I don’t see how we could even begin the debate let alone reach some sort of understanding.

    When you denigrate the work of philosophers and theologians I can’t help but notice that you smuggle in a value laden claim like “what scientists DO that is important“. What exactly do you mean by “important”? By what means do you determine levels of importance? Is it through science and science alone?

    Finally, I’m not sure what you mean by the claim that neither Tom or myself “know why we study nature”. There is no one reason why humanity studies nature, no universal imperative. That is unless you are stating that there is some teleology at play in the universe. But this can’t be so because it would only serve to undermine your statement about the output of philosophers and theologians being of no importance.

  71. SteveK says:

    The problem is that one of the things some of them DO is practice metaphysics and call it science.

    Yes, and people like Robert and James Lindsay take advantage of that while at the same time insisting that metaphysics doesn’t DO anything.

    They take a metaphysical view (some without realizing it) and then complain when someone comes along and explains, using metaphysical terms, that their argument if founded upon a metaphysical view.

    They say things like “Stop with all of that metaphysical nonsense, I’m talking about real science here”… and around in circles we go.

  72. Robert says:

    Astronomers, oceanographers, geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, paleontologists, cosmologists, chemists and other scientists do not consider the supernatural in their work. So I don’t understand why biologists are being singled out here. Are you saying that all scientists are practicing metaphysics because they do not consider God in their work. And why should scientists consider the supernatural anyway?

  73. Tom Gilson says:

    Why should scientists consider the supernatural? For the same reason every other human being should: if the supernatural is real, it makes all the difference for every aspect of being human. But that’s approaching it from the scientist’s perspective of being human, not the perspective of doing science, which is undoubtedly what you’re getting at.

    Should scientists study the supernatural? No, that would be outside of their discipline, unless they happen to have competencies in other areas besides. Some scientists do. If they do speak of the supernatural, and they do it as philosophers, theologians, or whatever, they’re speaking from within those sorts of disciplines, not science.

    Intelligent Design, by the way is an example of science interacting with philosophy, and the design inference (in my opinion) is based in philosophical thinking, using natural phenomena as raw material for its reflections. Therefore when it is competently handled it is free of that illicit mix of science and philosophy that taints so much thinking. (I am aware that it is not always handled that competently, but for the most part its thought leaders keep science and philosophy conceptually separate from each other, as they should.)

    Meanwhile you have some biologists making claims that all of life in all of its variety came about by purely natural causes. That’s philosophy being practiced by scientists who are speaking outside their expertise.

    Why pick on biologists? Because very few other disciplines display that same unschooled mixing of disciplines. There are exceptions: Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking, and Leonard Mlodinow come immediately to mind. I’m an equal-opportunity critic of scientists who make questionable philosophical pronouncements under the guise of science.

    So then, why should scientists consider the supernatural, strictly within their disciplines? I don’t know. Why? Why do some of them consider the supernatural and then reject its possibility? I don’t know. That’s the very issue I’ve been fetching for you repeatedly here!

    Is it not apparent to you, Robert, that when a scientist says there is no supernatural reality, or no supernatural influence in the natural world, that that scientist is considering the supernatural, and tossing it aside?

    Why should scientists, qua scientists, consider the supernatural? Beats me. And the sooner you recognize that this is what I’ve said about a hundred times here, the sooner you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the world you live in, and the disputes you are disputing.

  74. Tom Gilson says:

    I hasten to add that there was a time when science was natural philosophy. Philosophy is just a word for very careful thinking about important matters, using whatever data may be at hand. The distinction I want to make now is between the modern empirical sciences, which aim strictly to explain — and especially to quantify and to predict — natural phenomena, and metaphysics and epistemology as branches of philosophy as philosophy is understood today.

  75. Jenna Black says:

    Tom,

    I would add another name to your list of scientists who “do” theology and call it science: Victor Stenger. See my review on amazon.com of his book: “God, the Failed Hypothesis.”

    The way I see science as a Christian: Science is simply the systematic study of how God’s creation works.

    The distinction must be made between metaphysics and science. Science is silent on this question of God’s “existence.” Here is the official position of the US National Academy of Sciences: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

  76. Robert says:

    “Robert, your question about which facts is in the category of “whatever…” as far as I’m

    concerned.”

    > What category should we put that answer in? I wasn’t pressing you to present any facts, I was just reminding you which facts I was interested in discussing since this discussion has gotten off on tangents. I originally posted a comment about my view of faith versus religious faith. Now we’re all over the place. My bad.

    Your defense of the importance of understanding speciation is rather embarrassingly devoid of any reference to speciation.

    > How is the fact that humans are related to other animals devoid of a reference to speciation?

    “I’m scratching my head trying to find an argument here. Is there one, with respect to naturalism and my preferred “regularism”? And do you really want me to go into all the relevant differences between nuclear physics and theories of the origin of life and the species?
    (There are many.)”

    > I thought regularism had to do with physical laws rather than scientific theories.What is your definition of regularism? How would regularism improve the study of Nature over Naturalism?

    “Was Pasteur a believer in naturalism? Vesalius? Galileo? Newton? Boyle? Faraday? Maxwell? Kepler? (I could go on and on and on…)”

    > In their work these scientists used the same kind of Naturalism evolutionary science uses. Many scientists embrace both God and evolution.

    “Whether I say that or not has nothing to do with certain scientists’ metaphysical errors.”

    > Again, those certain scientists know very well that their findings will be scrutinized, examined, tested and falsified by other scientists who do not have the same metaphysical presuppositions.

    It’s not anti-scientific; it’s anti-philosophical naturalistic, which means it’s in opposition to a school of metaphysical belief, not science.

    > I got my posts moderated because I am having trouble understanding how you define certain terms. Do you think that disbelief in UFO abductions, ghosts and or haunted houses, or werewolves is anti-philosophical naturalistic? Or can science inform us as to the validity of these types of things?

    “I think both Robert and yourself are having two different conversations. He seems to want to talk exclusively about evolutionary theory, whereas you seem to want to talk about the metaphysical underpinnings of worldviews such as philosophical naturalism.”

    > I gave examples of ways our knowledge of how nature structures itself through natural selection which is called evolutionary theory, have improved our lives. I asked Tom to name another scientific theory that has improved our lives more than evolutionary theory. He hasn’t responded to that question yet. Can you think of one Billy? I can’t.

    “Actually, Billy, I’m trying to explain to him that naturalistic evolution is not a purely scientific theory because the “naturalistic” part is philosophical, not scientific.”

    > Yes and I am countering that all science is done he same way using the same kind of naturalism. What do you say Billy?

    ” So when a scientist says “there is no grand purpose to life” that is often understood to be a statement of science (and therefore fact) rather than the metaphysical (or teleological) claims of a person who just so happens to work in science.”

    > I agree. But we have many people telling us that there is a grand purpose to life and precisely what that purpose is: glorifying the God they happen to believe in. Don’t you think what Dawkins wrote is simply a response to that kind of religious dogma?

    Tom Gilson says:
    I get what you’re saying now.

    > So we all agree that a few scientists make philosophical claims. Who doesn’t may I ask? At least the scientists who are atheists like Stenger and Dawkins tell us up front they have an agenda and that is to give sound reasons not to believe religious claims. Intelligent Design
    promoters such as William Craig, Stephen Meyer and William Dembski should be as honest about their real agenda. While Stenger and Dawkins may still have written books for public consumption, I think books like the “God Delusion” and “God, The Failed Hypothesis” are direct responses to books attacking evolutionary theory and science in general and probably would have never been written if we didn’t have creationists trying to convince the general public that there is some kind of dispute over the validity of evolutionary theory.

    “As long as you keep conflating philosophical naturalism with science you’ll misunderstand naturalistic evolution.”

    > You are attempting to conflate evolutionary theory with philosophy and thereby remove it from the realm of science. However you have not shown how the study of evolution is done any differently than any other branch of science.

    “You ask, “what are these metaphysical errors?” and you say “it’s what scientists DO that’s important.” The problem is that one of the things some of them DO is practice metaphysics and call it science.”

    > I’m making a distinction between how scientists go about their jobs and what they do in their spare time. That they adhere to scientific method at work is important. What they write about for public consumption away from work is not so important. What’s the difference
    between Richard Dawkins saying his study of science leads him to believe there is no God and Stephen Meyer claiming his study of science leads him to believe there is a God, other than the fact that Meyer is not a scientist?

    “But you’re going to call it ridiculous anyway, as you did my concerns about naturalistic evolution. No, I’m not a biologist. Naturalism is not an issue of either science or biology, but of philosophy. If you don’t like metaphysics, then why aren’t you complaining to the biologists who are practicing it with their naturalistic assumptions?”

    > For the same reason I’m not complaining to or about the Christian biologists like Kenneth Miller and many others who are practicing it with assumptions that there is indeed a supernatural realm.

    Every biologist who says evolution happened purely by natural causes is assuming ontological naturalism, the absence of a supernatural cause in natural history. That’s metaphysical speculation.

    > How would assuming there is a supernatural cause change anything? Since we can’t observe and test the supernatural the only way we could reach a supernatural explanation would be to eliminate all natural explanations. However we could never know if we have in fact eliminated all the possibilities. So even if a supernatural explanation were correct we can never know it. Any supernatural explanation couldn’t be applied to anything and so would be useless anyway. So I don’t see how assuming ontological naturalism or how metaphysical speculation makes any difference.

    “Scientists who say “the science” informs us that the world is entirely natural are practicing metaphysics either incompetently or dishonestly, or both.”

    > Then aren’t preachers, apologists and other evangelists who claim that the world isn’t entirely natural also practicing metaphysics incompetently or dishonestly or both? Who do you think is qualified to practice metaphysics anyway and why?

    “As long as you keep conflating philosophical naturalism with science you’ll misunderstand naturalistic evolution.

    > In philosophy, naturalism is the view that an explanation is justified just so far as it rests on empirical evidence. Christian apologists define philosophical naturalism to mean something else which is the view that explanations must not take into account the supernatural or spiritual. Is this your view? This allows the apologist to say that scientists are not considering all the evidence and therefore science is flawed and that scientists are not qualified to speak in the apologist’s realm of expertise. I call this a distortion of language and it causes us to misunderstand each other to the point where you think I am purposely trying to annoy you or make you look bad. I am not. I’m trying to understand what you are talking about.

    “I alluded to something already, Robert. When Richard Dawkins wrote of the universe that there is “at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” he was denying teleology and thereby doing something other than science. Now whether we can actually agree that this is an error is part of the debate. However, as you have close off the avenues of philosophy and theology by asserting that they are all but worthless as disciplines I don’t see how we could even begin the debate let alone reach some sort of understanding.”

    > I admit that I don’t have much respect for philosophy or theology and I do sort of lump them in with things like alchemy and astrology. Tom implied that evolutionary theory is all but a worthless discipline and that biology could be done without it. Biology without evolutionary theory would be natural history with no way to understand it and teaching biology would then be like trying to teach chemistry without the periodic table of the elements.

    “When you denigrate the work of philosophers and theologians I can’t help but notice that you smuggle in a value laden claim like “what scientists DO that is important“. What exactly do you mean by “important”? By what means do you determine levels of importance? Is it through science and science alone?”

    > Yes. Facts can be discovered only through scientific investigation and the scientific method. You can call that statement philosophical naturalism, making a metaphysical assumption or whatever, but it is based on observation and evidence not any kind of ideology.

    “Finally, I’m not sure what you mean by the claim that neither Tom or myself “know why we study nature”. There is no one reason why humanity studies nature, no universal imperative.”

    > Maybe not, but what we’re mostly doing is making discoveries and then finding practical applications for them.

    “Why should scientists consider the supernatural? For the same reason every other human being should: if the supernatural is real, it makes all the difference for every aspect of being human.”

    > How so? How would the world be any different one way or the other? There are no verifiable consequences either way so what difference does it make?

    “Should scientists study the supernatural? No, that would be outside of their discipline, unless they happen to have competencies in other areas besides. Some scientists do.”

    > Yes scientists have indeed investigated such things as faith healing, the efficacy of prayer, evidence for a recent global flood and creationist claims about the age of the Earth. They have found no evidence of any kind of supernatural intervention. Are you saying that scientists are not qualified to investigate religious claims of supernatural intervention?

    “If they do speak of the supernatural, and they do it as philosophers, theologians, or whatever, they’re speaking from within those sorts of disciplines, not science.

    > I disagree for the reasons I just gave but what be would wrong with that? What makes philosophers or theologians any more qualified to speak about the supernatural than anyone else? And who would be more qualified to refute religious claims about the supernatural than scientists?

    Intelligent Design, by the way is an example of science interacting with philosophy, and the design inference (in my opinion) is based in philosophical thinking, using natural phenomena as raw material for its reflections. Therefore when it is competently handled it is free of that illicit mix of science and philosophy that taints so much thinking. (I am aware that it is not always handled that competently, but for the most part its thought leaders keep science and philosophy conceptually separate from each other, as they should.)

    > You said ID is an example of science and philosophy but then for no good reason claim it is free of an illicit mix of science and philosophy. What factor makes ID free of an illicit mix of science and philosophy? And how do you respond to the charge, supported by the Christian academic community, that ID is neither philosophy or science but creationism, theology and bad theology at that? Most, if not all of the leaders in the Intelligent Design movement are fellows at the Discovery Institute and have signed statements of faith that state implicitly that when evidence seems to contradict Scripture, that evidence must be disregarded, the subject of my first post.

    “Meanwhile you have some biologists making claims that all of life in all of its variety came about by purely natural causes. That’s philosophy being practiced by scientists who are speaking outside their expertise.”

    > That has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the validity of evolutionary theory or how biology is practiced in this or any other country. The findings of these scientists will be scrutinized by biologists who do not share their personal beliefs.

    “Why pick on biologists? Because very few other disciplines display that same unschooled mixing of disciplines.”

    > You are making a sweeping judgment on the validity of one area of science based on the comments of a few biologists. Most non-religious biologists toil away in obscurity and don’t care enough about religion or the supernatural to even call themselves atheists.

    There are exceptions: Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking, and Leonard Mlodinow come immediately to mind. I’m an equal-opportunity critic of scientists who make questionable philosophical pronouncements under the guise of science.”

    > We have non-scientists like Meyer, Dembski and Craig who make questionable philosophical pronouncements under the guise of science. Don’t you think they should be criticized for doing this as well?

    “Is it not apparent to you, Robert, that when a scientist says there is no supernatural reality, or no supernatural influence in the natural world, that that scientist is considering the supernatural, and tossing it aside?”

    > When a theologian says there is a supernatural reality or a supernatural influence in the natural world isn’t that theologian considering Naturalism and tossing it aside. If not why not?

    You made a lot of comments to which I raised a lot of questions and made some objections, all of which are intended to engage you and the others in a productive discussion; none of which are taking pot shots at other people’s opinions, nor am I trying to win a round in a debate. And I’m sorry that my misunderstanding your use of terms has led you to believe I am purposely ignoring your responses. I appreciate you taking the time to respond and look forward to responses from you and the other bloggers.

  77. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert, your misinformation and your errors in this comment are so sweeping, so numerous, and so egregious, I have only one question for you: are you open to suggestions for background reading?

  78. Tom Gilson says:

    BTW, I had an entire comment written out, down to my response to, “Are you saying that scientists are not qualified to investigate religious claims of supernatural intervention?” before I pulled back to that one overriding question. I could have presented you with specific responses to specific errors, and in fact I had that written out. By the time I reached that point in your comment, though, I decided it was the wrong approach. The right approach is to back up and offer you an opportunity for background study. What do you say?

  79. Billy Squibs says:

    Just a quick response, Robert.

    Yes and I am countering that all science is done he same way using the same kind of naturalism. What do you say Billy?

    I suppose it is. But this is not the bone of contention here. Both Tom and myself are claiming that it’s perfectly possible to practice methodological naturalism and yet interpret the world around by any number of worldview lenses.

    I agree. But we have many people telling us that there is a grand purpose to life and precisely what that purpose is: glorifying the God they happen to believe in. Don’t you think what Dawkins wrote is simply a response to that kind of religious dogma?

    Good. We seem to be making some headway. However, if stating that there is a grand purpose to life is considered religious dogma then Dawkins’s response is irreligious dogma. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Do you see how your criticism can be equally applied to both claims?

    But this is getting us off topic. Again, my goal here is rather simple. To discuss how all of us – every butcher, baker and candlestick maker – brings presuppositions to the table and how these presuppositions colour our understanding of the world around us. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself. What is bad is when somebody like Hawkins ensures us in The Grand Design that “philosophy is dead” whilst being oblivious to the rather obvious fact that this is itself a philosophical claim. He then precedes to treat us to bad philosophy for the next few chapters. I’m afraid that you have done something similar, Robert.

  80. Tom Gilson says:

    Robert, in response to your post late last night (EST), which went into moderation as I told you earlier would happen to your posts:

    You said again that W.L. Craig should be as honest about his “real agenda” as Richard Dawkins is. Specifically,

    At least the scientists who are atheists like Stenger and Dawkins tell us up front they have an agenda and that is to give sound reasons not to believe religious claims. Intelligent Design promoters such as William Craig, Stephen Meyer and William Dembski should be as honest about their real agenda.

    I have already responded to that. If you think Craig is hiding his “real agenda,” then you’re speaking with no knowledge no contribute here.

    For that reason, and for others I won’t detail but which are related to what I wrote in #69, I am not releasing your comment from moderation.

    I did not respond earlier to your complaint about Dembski and Meyer. Since I have quoted your repeated charge against them I will do so now. Your charge is that they are deceiving, that they have some hidden purpose in mind for their research and writings. Obviously you discount the possibility their “real agenda” in promoting ID is to help other people learn about it because in their view it’s true and because it’s important.

    I’ve had short conversations with both of these men, and very long ones with other leaders of the ID movement. Their agendas are not hidden. Your charge of dishonesty is false.

    This is not a thread about ID, by the way. This comment of mine was not intended to be about ID but about persons’ “real agendas.” Everyone please bear that in mind as you respond.

  81. Tom Gilson says:

    One more thing. Earlier I wrote, “Robert, your misinformation and your errors in this comment are so sweeping, so numerous, and so egregious, I have only one question for you: are you open to suggestions for background reading?”

    That’s one question to which I am eager to hear your answer.

  82. Robert says:

    Christianity only appeals to the base human emotion of cowardice. Your cowardice just got exposed. You just got smoked in a debate with an atheist. Now you have to live with that the rest of your life. I’m not going to be talked down to by someone who holds the kind of childish superstitions that you do and can’t handle his business in a debate.

  83. Tom Gilson says:

    The previous comment will be Robert’s last one on this blog. I’m allowing him to have the last word between him and me. Readers are welcome to draw their own conclusions, and other commenters are welcome to express them as usual.

  84.    

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