Tom Gilson

Expelled: The Pre-Controversy

The number one Google or Yahoo! search phrase by which new visitors are coming to this blog now is “Expelled.” Hundreds of you have looked it up on this website alone. This is surprising, since I’ve only blogged on the movie once, way back in September. More than six weeks ahead of its April 18 release, this movie is already drawing a lot of interest.

The film’s premise is that for academics, believing in Intelligent Design–no, even having a certain level of sympathy toward it–is asking for trouble. Real, significant, career trouble. I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t comment on how well it makes its case. I’ve been watching the controversy, though. Pharyngula’s P.Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, represents the contrary position. Based on his IM address I conclude he is a Macintosh user–we agree on that, at least! We disagree on much else, though. To say he opposes Intelligent Design is an understatement on about the same scale as “The Ku Klux Klan is unfavorable toward African-Americans.”

The movie’s producers, in pursuit of a balanced perspective on their topic, requested interviews from evolutionists like Myers, Richard Dawkins, and others. They agreed–and now they’re crying foul over it. I think it’s comically sad. When Richard Dawkins produced a BBC television series on the alleged evils of religion, he presented some of the worst examples and edits representing the Christian position, and left (for example) a very intelligent discussion with fellow Oxford professor Alister McGrath on the cutting room floor. Expelled’s producers invited comment from the best of the evolutionist side.

Myers’s specific complaint is that he was deceived into appearing in an anti-evolution film. He could have asked a few questions if he was worried about that. The request for interview they sent him included,

We are interested in asking you a number of questions about the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between Evolution, Creationism and the Intelligent Design movement.

Did he just assume that nobody in the world who raises that question might disagree with his position? The producers sent him an advance copy of every question they were planning to ask him. You can be quite sure Dawkins did not do that for Ted Haggard. In fact, it’s quite out of the ordinary. Expelled’s producers went out of their way to give fair treatment to the contrary side.

Myers’s complains that the production company gave him a fake name. There was no deception there. It is common industry practice for subdivisions to have different names than their parent companies, which was the case this time.

Myers also says he was misrepresented:

What? I didn’t do any interviews for pro-creation films, and I certainly haven’t said that “freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry” aren’t part of the university. There must be some mistake.

I haven’t seen the film, but it’s easy to see that the mistake is Myers’s, and a rather grandiose one at that. No one said these were Myers’s words. Does he think the whole film is about what he had to say?

Further distortion:

I’m wondering why the Discovery Institute would be so enthused about this movie. It lays it’s [sic] premise on the line: science is flawed because it excludes god [sic–some people don’t know that proper nouns are capitalized in English] and the supernatural. It’s one big promo for religion — which means it’s going to further undercut Intelligent Design creationism’s [sic] claims to be a secular idea.

He appears to believe that if the movie exposes institutions’ bigotry favoring philosophical materialism, it is therefore “one big promo for religion.” The two issues do not equate, however. Myers, who hasn’t seen the film either, at least as of the date he wrote this piece, is jumping off a cliff to a conclusion. He doesn’t know what the film is going to say about religion. What we do know about the film–because this is what has been publicly released–is that it is a promo in favor of First Amendment free speech and academic freedom.

I think Myers’s closing was intended tongue-in-cheek, and we ought to take it with a sense of humor. Either that, or he’s back in a grandiose mode. We shouldn’t blame him for that, I suppose; after all, Expelled is making him a movie star. Here’s how he ends his article:

Oh, well. I have two warnings for the creationists.

One, I will go see this movie, and I will cheer loudly at my 30 seconds or whatever on the screen, and I will certainly disembowel its arguments here and in any print venue that wants me. That’s going to be fun.

Two, next time I’m asked to be recorded for a creationist propaganda film, I will demand more money, and a flight and a limousine to the premiere. They can pay for my tuxedo rental, too. And my hotel room will have a jacuzzi and a bowl of M&Ms — green ones only.

It’s all a transparent attempt to discredit in advance something that the evolutionist side may have genuine reason to be worried about. What if the film actually succeeds in making its case? What if there really is evidence of unfounded bigotry and thought-suppression in academia? What if it’s presented credibly?

Aside from his caustic communication style, which I can’t say I really enjoy, I wouldn’t mind watching Myers’s having “fun” trying to “disembowel” the film’s arguments. I would even bring him green M&Ms. I wonder if he will actually address the film’s points, though. So far, based on this post of his, he’s exposing straw-man caricatures instead.

Related:

The film’s producers’ perspectives were drawn from these sources:

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76 thoughts on “Expelled: The Pre-Controversy

  1. PZ has been able to discern the tone of the film from its own promotional materials. The claims about “first amendment” rights and “academic” freedom are bogus.

    We know from experience that creationists (even if you want to call it ID) have misused Richard Dawkins on film before, and there is no reason not to believe that this this what they are doing here.

    ID is a lie. I suppose that since you are “saved” then the ten commandments don’t apply to the producers (except that since Stein isn’t a Christian he should pay closer attention to them.)

    Why you are promoting such a poor form of witnessing as intelligent design is beyond me. Unless, like my friend Alden, you are merely bemusedly reporting the story with no concern for the damage that ID does to science education.

  2. Mike, just a friendly word to you.

    As long as ID antagonists refuse to recognize the real substance of the debate–mislabeling it “creationism,” for example–you’re not in the real game. You can’t win it that way. (Not that it’s just a game, but I think you get the point.) There are actual substantive differences between ID and creationism, and playing a rhetorical word game won’t make those substantive issues go away.

    You may or may not have been a visitor to this blog previously; but in case you haven’t, you might want to do some searching. You’ll find real substance written with respect to the kinds of things you have so off-handedly, dismissively spoken against ID.

    I won’t do all that search work for you, but I’ll point you to three articles that will help you better understand this “witnessing” question you have brought up. I understand if you have mistaken my intent, based on just this post. I hope you’ll read these other three posts, and base your further conclusions on the fuller context. Go here, here, and here.

    If you’re willing to engage the real issues, that is.

  3. Mike’s inflammatory comments are not helpful here. Even if ID is an error on every point, it can only constitute a lie if its promoters realize the errors and continue to back it. There is no evidence to this effect whatsoever, so any moral condemnation of it as such is nothing but a red herring. Mike should correct his flawed reasoning or give evidence to the lie. (Remember: It is not a lie to be mistaken, so he must not only prove that ID is in error but that the ID’ists know that it is.)

    I disagree that ID is not creationism. If it is not just another manifestation of creationism, then why does it coincide perfectly with the interests and goals of the creationists. All their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, ID is a form of creationism. It starts with a belief in God and then attempts to validate that belief in the natural sciences. I think this can only work to the detriment of Christianity.

    I firmly believe in a form of ID–but only as a religious interpretation. It is not part of the data I obtain from the sciences. It is part of my religious belief-system. It is perfectly valid to interpret data from the natural sciences through a synthesis with data from spiritual and moral convictions; however, attempting to shoehorn these interpretations back into the sciences is wrong.

    Kind regards,
    Russ

  4. Russ, thank you for that. We don’t agree on every point, but since you’ve offered something with some real meat to discuss, we can proceed fruitfully.

    I do agree with your assessment of Mike’s accusations, certainly.

    You say that ID coincides perfectly with the interests and goals of the creationists. First, many young-earth creationists would disagree. Second, there is a difference of approach between ID and creationism. The second and third links I offered to Mike in my last comment to him express this in detail. Here’s the short version:

    Creationism takes it as a given that the first two chapters of Genesis are epistemologically normative. That is, whatever we learn from Genesis rules absolutely over what we learn from nature, and our interpretation of Genesis even precedes what we learn from nature.

    ID, in contrast, takes nothing from Genesis as normative, but seeks its understanding of origins just from nature. ID’s hypothesis is that teleological design can be detected in features of the natural world, independently of revelation.

    Third, “creationism” is a strong pejorative typically employed for its emotional rhetorical effect. “Scientific Creationism” of the mid- to late-20th century had no scientific credibility whatever, except within an extremely limited circle. Attaching the name “creationism” to ID is a ploy that I think is often used just for the purpose of drawing out a Pavlovian response, “ID isn’t science.” If you recall Pavlov and his dogs, he was not teaching them careful logical reasoning. Calling out a Pavlovian response by rhetoric like this has nothing to do with careful reasoning, either.

    Fourth, ID and Biblical Christianity share just one essential presupposition: that philosophical materialism is an unsupported and unsupportable picture of reality. On this point the goals and interests of the two align perfectly.

    Fifth, ID and Biblical Christianity differ in that some ID proponents and/or Darwin skeptics are not Christians: Jonathan Wells, David Berlinski, Gerald L. Schroeder, Ben Stein. Some have come to be skeptical of Darwinism quite apart from religious reasons, like Michael Denton. Listen to the interviews with Walt Ruloff, linked in the original post, too.

    Sixth, for those of us who are Christian believers, there is a confluence between Bible and Intelligent Design in the end. They both point to God as creator. ID is not essential to Biblical Christianity by any means, however, as the first link I gave Mike in that comment points out.

    Seventh, this is a complex subject. I can’t cover it in a few short paragraphs; that’s why I keep referring out to other articles. To condense it down to a slogan-like phrase, “intelligent design creationism,” distorts the issue in many ways, starting with the ones I’ve just listed.

    ID antagonists are not the only ones who have been guilty of such distortion by over-simplifying. In the back of my mind I’ve been thinking for a while of writing a series on the serious mistakes Christian believers make sometimes in the way they, too, over-simplify these issues. Nobody is going to understand these issues without studying them well, and nobody is going to be able to state a reasonable position on the relation between ID and religion in just a couple of words.

    And there, in the end, is where I can agree that there can be a failure of Christian witness related to the ID question. The answer is not to give up on studying what nature tells us about design. The answer is to give up on over-simplifying and sloganeering about it all. Both sides of the issue have been guilty of it, and when Bible believers do it, you’re right, it does hinder our witness. That hindrance is not essential to ID, however; it’s a mistaken approach to it instead.

  5. By the way, Mike, pardon my ignorance, but I’ve been trying to find out what FCD means. I’ve come up with:

    Foundation for Community Dance
    Flow Control Decision
    Flow Configuration Document
    Fitness Center Director
    First Cycle Degree
    Future Capabilities Development
    Final Committee Draft
    Fraud Communication Distributor
    Foundation for Child Development
    Financial Crimes Database

    Can someone help me out on this one?

    Edit:
    Whoops, never mind–I just googled “Mike Haubrich FCD” and got the answer.

  6. Tom,

    In the back of my mind I’ve been thinking for a while of writing a series on the serious mistakes Christian believers make sometimes in the way they, too, over-simplify these issues.

    This is a great idea. I think it would be helpful.

  7. I am a Friend of Charles Darwin, as has been pointed out Steve K, and as you Googled above.

    If you feel I was being inflammatory, I apologize for my tone. I am highly frustrated by seeing intelligent people take ID seriously; and I am familiar with the points you have made. The EJ Klone site of the atheist who likes ID reminds me of the approach that even the late atheist Kurt Vonnegut took; and it is based on a very incomplete understanding of science and especially biology.

    The simple fact is that you can no longer understand the advances made in biology, medicine and even the chemistry of prions without having a solid understanding of how evolution works. ID adds nothing to that understanding, and in the case of Behe especially supplies a complete misdirection based on a poor understanding of how it works (living systems don’t have to wait for a threat before they develop a defense.) Wells took his PhD so he could learn the language of science in order to discredit it in service to Father Moon. His latest contribution at Evolutionnews.org is a clear example of that and he makes completely erroneous claims that evolution was not involved in uderstanding the results. Berlinksi’s characterizations of evolution have been so incorrect that he is either deliberately misstating them or he is a demonstration that if one is a jack-of-all trades he can be a master of none.

    I have read Dembski. His Design Inference is nearly indistinguishable from the Watchmaker argumnt.

    But Tom, what would happen you take the watchmaker argument this way, suppose you find a watch that only works well enough to stay in time but is filled with kludges, parts that don’t work but still remain in the watch, or parts that having nothing to do with watches. Would you be strongly in favor if a Divine Watchmaker in that case?

    Our DNA is not a code, it is a template used to create strands of protein. The templates are scattered all around the cell. It replicates imperfectly, and the results are acted on by hungry populations red in tooth and claw.

    I don’t see any problem with people adapting ID as a philosophical construct, but what has been happening with it is that it has been used by its proponents to attack real science because they don’t like naturalistic methodology. They can’t or don’t separate the process from materialistic philosophy, and that is a category error.

    I’m not an atheist because of evolution, there are complete other separate reasons for that. Even as a Christian I had studied and appreciated evolution.

    Yes, I am frustrated and sometimes it comes out. But I don’t retreat from my position that ID is fancied up Creationism. OEC is not the only form of Creationism. It is a gradient, and ID is merely the most esoteric form of it.

  8. My husband and I saw the director’s cut of Expelled when it came to Fort Worth. It was really well done. It is funny without being flippant and informational without being boring. The main thrust of the movie came across as academic freedom. There was less talk of the deficientcies of darwinian evolution, but it was certainly there. There was more talk about whether scientists should/are allowed to voice views that oppose darwinian evolution.

  9. The simple fact is that you can no longer understand the advances made in biology, medicine and even the chemistry of prions without having a solid understanding of how evolution works. ID adds nothing to that understanding

    I’m no expert on this subject but I imagine ID isn’t supposed to add to the understanding of how evolution/biology works. As you said, we don’t need it. Understanding how evolution/biology got to be the way it did is a question I suppose ID can answer – at least in theory it can. Just like “Factory Theory” attempts to explain how that 1/2 ton truck in your driveway got to be the way it did.

    I don’t understand the ‘either/or’ mentality when it comes to discussions about ID. It’s been said many times by many people – ID doesn’t necessarily conflict with evolution.

  10. Russ:

    I firmly believe in a form of ID–but only as a religious interpretation. It is not part of the data I obtain from the sciences. It is part of my religious belief-system.

    I have a bit of difficulty understanding your first sentence. Are you trying to say that life is actually designed, or that this is just your subjective interpretation but doesn’t represent objective reality? The sentence as written seems as if it’s intended to say both (contradictory) things at once. After all, if something is actually true, then it’s simply true, not “true as religion” but not “as science”. If it’s true that life is designed, then any theory claiming that design is an illusion is factually incorrect, yes? And if design is an illusion, then your religious interpretation is false, right?

    Mike H:

    I don’t see any problem with people adapting ID as a philosophical construct, but what has been happening with it is that it has been used by its proponents to attack real science because they don’t like naturalistic methodology. They can’t or don’t separate the process from materialistic philosophy, and that is a category error.

    Yet, you made the exact same category error in this very post! Your argument against ID and in favor of Darwinism is that life is unintended, because it’s too kludgy, and that a designer wouldn’t have intended it that way.

    That is a philosophical argument against ID as a philosophy, and for Darwinism as a philosophy. “Kludginess” is not a physical quantity that can be measured or defined in scientific terms, but is a philosophical concept that means that something was poorly-constructed to perform the task it was intended for. Likewise, your conclusion, that life was not intended (by God or anyone else), is a metaphysical statement.

  11. Me:

    I firmly believe in a form of ID–but only as a religious interpretation. It is not part of the data I obtain from the sciences. It is part of my religious belief-system.

    Deuce:

    The sentence as written seems as if it’s intended to say both (contradictory) things at once.

    I am not trying to eat my cake but have it too. My statement has a third possibility for consideration.

    Duece again:

    If it’s true that life is designed, then any theory claiming that design is an illusion is factually incorrect, yes? And if design is an illusion, then your religious interpretation is false, right?

    Here, my friend, you are expressing a false dichotomy. The notion that the natural sciences factually invalidate design is false. They ignore design, but only presumptively. Although science, for its normal operation, must do this, it does not mean that it has shown anything factually about design. We are on safe ground to conclude that design is a possible hypothesis regardless of the assumptions and outcomes of science. We can, then, move on to theories of design that depend, in part, on factual statements from the sciences without regarding its presuppositions. Design remains a possible hypothesis because while science must assume that there is no design, it cannot invalidate design empirically.

    My statement, then, is not a contradiction but a paradox. Intelligent Design is true. Of this, I am absolutely convinced; but, its truth cannot be apprehended from within the natural sciences unless God chooses to do something quite remarkable–something that he has so far refrained from doing.

    The natural sciences, as such, have discovered God’s tools but not God himself, and as the natural sciences cannot investigate anything that is not, well, natural, they cannot discern anything whatsoever about supernature. Indeed, the very nature, so to speak, of the natural sciences themselves demands that they exclude even the existence of supernature.

    So how does one bridge the gap? By gathering up the data and theories arising from the operation of the natural sciences, blending with it the revelation of God via the metaphysic, and synthesizing an explanation to fit the whole. Hence, my statement means that while ID is true, I regard it as arising a posteriori from both enquiry and revelation. It is not a scientific hypothesis but a metaphysical one that I support, in part, with data from the natural sciences.

    Kind regards,
    Russ

  12. My statement, then, is not a contradiction but a paradox. Intelligent Design is true. Of this, I am absolutely convinced; but, its truth cannot be apprehended from within the natural sciences unless God chooses to do something quite remarkable–something that he has so far refrained from doing.

    If you can’t test something for truth, how can you know if it is true or not? Why are you absolutely convinced when it seems that your definition of Intelligent Design is unfalsifiable, therefore it can’t be checked for “truth”?

    The natural sciences, as such, have discovered God’s tools but not God himself, and as the natural sciences cannot investigate anything that is not, well, natural, they cannot discern anything whatsoever about supernature. Indeed, the very nature, so to speak, of the natural sciences themselves demands that they exclude even the existence of supernature.

    Where do we draw the line? We’ve barely begun investigating the “natural”, and while we’ve made some great progress, it’s far too early to be drawing a line in the sand and saying “From here on out, everything is supernatural, an cannot be studied by science”.

  13. Here, my friend, you are expressing a false dichotomy.

    No, I wasn’t. I simply pointed out that life is either designed or it isn’t. That’s a true dichotomy and a fact of logic. It can’t be true for one person and false for another.

    Your original statement looked like an attempt to blur the distinction between truth and subjective impressions, when you said that you “believe” in design, but only as your personal “interpretation”.

    My statement, then, is not a contradiction but a paradox. Intelligent Design is true. Of this, I am absolutely convinced; but, its truth cannot be apprehended from within the natural sciences…

    Okay, this makes more sense to me. You’re saying that the design of life isn’t just your “religious interpretation”, but is actually the objective truth, so if somebody thinks that life isn’t designed, they are factually incorrect, right? But science lacks the means to evaluate design, and thus can’t say anything about design one way or another. Is this correct?

    Design remains a possible hypothesis because while science must assume that there is no design, it cannot invalidate design empirically.

    But, that would be a false assumption, right, since there is in fact design? Why on earth must science assume something that you say is false? If design is really outside the scope of science like you say, then it seems to me science should just not assume anything about design at all, rather than assuming that there is *no* design.

    The notion that the natural sciences factually invalidate design is false. They ignore design, but only presumptively.

    Maybe the natural sciences, in their proper scope, should ignore design, but it’s an observable fact that they don’t, especially among biologists. For instance, biologists talk about function and purpose all the time. In normal language, something has to be intended to have a function or purpose, which is just another way of saying that it’s designed. Are biologists operating outside of science when they talk about function (design)?

    Typically, biologists excuse this design talk by saying that they aren’t referring to real design, but only apparent design, because Darwinism has shown the appearance of design in biology to be illusory.

    This might get the individual biologist off the hook, but what about Darwinism itself? IF 1) It is outside the scope of science to comment on design, and 2) Darwinism explains biological design as only apparent, and 3) It is the objective truth that biology is designed; THEN doesn’t that mean that A) Darwinism is outside of science, and B) It is factually incorrect?

    What say you Russ?

  14. Why on earth must science assume something that you say is false? If design is really outside the scope of science like you say, then it seems to me science should just not assume anything about design at all, rather than assuming that there is *no* design.

    I agree, Deuce. If our collective human intuition tells us something appears designed, and if there is no way to confirm or falsify that intuition, then what valid reason is there to assume the opposite?

  15. Havok,

    If you can’t test something for truth, how can you know if it is true or not? Why are you absolutely convinced when it seems that your definition of Intelligent Design is unfalsifiable, therefore it can’t be checked for “truth”?

    I think he was saying that it can’t be checked by the methods of natural science, not that it can’t be checked at all.

  16. I think he was saying that it can’t be checked by the methods of natural science, not that it can’t be checked at all.

    How do we know what we can and can’t find out using science? As far as I can see, people make arbitrary distinctions concerning the line of “natural”, in an attempt to mark something off limits to investigation. Consciousness used to be beyond this line, yet it is currently being investigated using scientific methods. Why say “science cannot investigate this” when it is far from clear that science cannot investigate that item.

  17. Well I think science can investigate consciousness in some ways, and quite fruitfully.

    But there is an aspect of consciousness that seems to be quite beyond the reach of science. It’s what philosophers call “aboutness” or “intentionality.” It’s the property of one thing being about another, or having intentions with regard to another.

    Clearly consciousness has this property. As you read this, you are reading about what I have in mind to say. It is far from clear, however, that physical objects can have this property. Can an electrochemical condition actually be about, say, dinner with the in-laws two weeks from now? In what sense could it be?

    Philosophers have wrestled with this at great length. Scientists have tried to model it with computers, but it remains beyond reach. It just re-defines the problem: can a complex set of voltage conditions be about, say, a hard-drive upgrade two weeks from now? In what sense? A set of voltage conditions seems to be just that until it is interpreted by a consciousness.

    That’s the problem in brief. I can’t draw it out fully here. But it’s one reason that, while the line between science and non-science is not always clear (as you said), certain questions seem likely to be far outside the line and likely to remain that way.

  18. It is far from clear, however, that physical objects can have this property.

    So it is possible that physical objects can have this property, that is is simply beyond our current ability to model.

    But it’s one reason that, while the line between science and non-science is not always clear (as you said), certain questions seem likely to be far outside the line and likely to remain that way.

    True. The one data point we have concerning consciousness is of incredible complexity, and as far as I can tell, we’ve barely begun to study it in detail.
    I think it is very premature to say things like “brain != mind” or “consciousness can not be studied by scientific means” when we don’t know if that is the case.
    I’m happy to answer “I don’t know” when it comes to the source or cause of our conscious experience. It’s people saying they do know, or that it must be such-and-such which I find troubling.

  19. So it is possible that physical objects can have this property, that is is simply beyond our current ability to model.

    Some think so; some think it’s just impossible. I’m pretty convinced it’s impossible, though I stated it in a tentative way, because I understand there are limits to what I can be certain about.

    I know that a piece of granite cannot be about the mountain it fell off a month ago. That would be a complete violation of the meaning of the term. There’s something lacking in a piece of granite that prevents it from having this property of aboutness.

    Physical objects seem to me to be the same all the way down to their quarks. There doesn’t seem to be a place on the way down to small size where they would pick up this property.

    And they seem to be the same in large quantities. There is no way a the Milky Way can be about the Andromeda galaxy in this proper sense of the term–not even if you parse it into all of its stars or even all of its molecules.

    So what’s left? Complexity of arrangement or relationship? What is there in complexity that can provide this aboutness property? I don’t think there is anything. You can have billions of interactions in a computer chip or a brain; but they happen in parallel or sequentially–in other words, they happen separately even if interdependently. You have a lot of electrochemical events going on: where does aboutness spring up from that?

    So I think the problem is not one that science is ever going to be able to attack on its deepest level. It’s not physical.

    There is a lot more to be said about the mind-brain relationship; this is hardly even an introduction.

  20. So what’s left? Complexity of arrangement or relationship? What is there in complexity that can provide this aboutness property? I don’t think there is anything.

    I don’t know, but I’d guess it has something to do with being an emergent property of a certain type and complexity of information processing system.

    You can have billions of interactions in a computer chip or a brain; but they happen in parallel or sequentially–in other words, they happen separately even if interdependently. You have a lot of electrochemical events going on: where does aboutness spring up from that?

    Again I don’t know. Our only data point already seems to exhibit this “aboutness”. Our models (ie. computers) are still incredibly simple compared to that single data point. I’m not studying the field, but I’ve heard there is a lot of interesting research coming out of it at present.

  21. Okay… let’s let that one sit for a while. You’re saying you think there might be an answer, though you have no idea what it is. That’s fair, if you’re content with it. How does it stack up against other things–like theism, possibly?–about which you say there’s a lack of evidence, though?

    Then there’s another issue. Do thoughts cause events in the physical world? I addressed this question not long ago.

    The answer is obviously yes. I wouldn’t be typing this, and you wouldn’t be reading it, if not for a sequence of physical-world events proceeding from some thoughts I’m thinking.

    Now, how do they do that? Is it by a closed and unbroken string of causation on a purely physical level? That’s extremely problematic. I won’t go into it again, since the link above covers the territory.

    There’s another, much better source on this, which SteveK recommended a while ago (though I can’t find that comment just now): Hasker, on reductivism (pdf file).

    If thoughts are just physical, then
    a) Thoughts do not proceed from thoughts; conclusions are not derived in virtue of premises (or evaluation of evidences, for that matter) but in virtue of something else entirely, and
    b) Thoughts are either determined by just physical processes or are produced by chance, or some combination of the two. They are either programmed or have some random element in them; either way, they do not proceed from choice, and
    c) The person as agent (that which effectually chooses the thought) either disappears or must be radically re-defined in terms of the result (not the cause) of deterministic and/or random physical processes.

    (a) and (b) are conclusions, not arguments, or in other words, I know I haven’t properly supported them here. The arguments are in the other two links.

  22. How does it stack up against other things–like theism, possibly?–about which you say there’s a lack of evidence, though?

    Theism seems to involve a large initial assumption – God. My “belief”, if you will, is simply that without the ability to test something, you can not know whether it is “true”.
    Why is theism a valid view, what evidence supports it, and why is that evidence valid?

    The answer is obviously yes. I wouldn’t be typing this, and you wouldn’t be reading it, if not for a sequence of physical-world events proceeding from some thoughts I’m thinking.

    Why obviously yes? I’ve read of some research recently (though I haven’t got a link handy) that our conscious thoughts are simply an ad-hoc representation of our unconscious behaviour ie. our conscious makes things up to try to fit with what we actualy, unconsciously do.
    That there is some kind of feed back system in the brain goes without saying 🙂
    I haven’t read your link as yet.

    It seems with your last set of arguments and conclusions, we’re heading into the territory of “free will”.
    Happy to venture there, but I’m sure it will make my head hurt 🙂

  23. Hi Havoc,
    If consciousness is ad hoc, post-decision/action, and if thoughts do not cause physical events then consciousness is invisible to such evolutionary mechanisms as natural selection. In other words, increasing consciousness and rationale can not be supported or explained by evolution. This means that a physicalist, materialist account of life leaves reason and rationale without an explanation. Since we cannot trust our reason given materialism then we cannot trust our reasons supporting materialism, either.
    Reason, then, is evidence for the immaterial at least, which makes it evidence for a non-materialist worldview, such as theism.

    (thanks to SteveK’s link)

  24. SteveK,
    As I mentioned, there is a feed back mechanism in the brain, so I’d suggest there is a way for these “post hoc” things to influence the brain/mind. This would, as far as I can see, allow more complex behaviour patterns (resulting in reason etc), and could very well provide a selection advantage.
    Note, I’m in no way a neuroscientist or an evolutionary biologist, so take the above as a simple “just so” story. Feel free to search for actual research into this stuff – I believe it does exist and may answer your questions.

    Reason, then, is evidence for the immaterial at least, which makes it evidence for a non-materialist worldview, such as theism.

    Even if reason is evidence for some transcendant property, there is no reason to jump from that to theism, as far as I can tell, especially not a particular brand of it, ie Christianity or Islam.

  25. Note, I’m in no way a neuroscientist or an evolutionary biologist, so take the above as a simple “just so” story. Feel free to search for actual research into this stuff – I believe it does exist and may answer your questions.

    Havok: I believe these “just so” stories do not reflect any reality. I believe there is no research that exists that denies this. Feel free to search and it may show there’s no answer to your questions.

    See how satisfying that feels? (Not.) And bear this in mind: we’ve actually been making arguments in support of what I said in this last paragraph, while you’ve just been saying you think we might be wrong, because you think there might be some research somewhere that says so.

    I wonder why you’re satisfied with that.

  26. Hi Havoc,
    It’s not even a just-so story, though.
    The hypothetical feedback mechanism cannot be measured by natural selection if thoughts don’t have physical effects. As Tom said, the thought is an irrelevant rider on the brain states and need have nothing whatsoever to do with rationality, logic, or even nature. If brain state A causes brain state B and this causes the behaviour then the additional, subjective meaning causedpost hoc (my mistake last time) is not even supervening on the system but merely resulting from it with no necessary correlation to reality.

    Even if reason is evidence for some transcendant property, there is no reason to jump from that to theism, as far as I can tell, especially not a particular brand of it, ie Christianity or Islam.

    But didn’t you say somewhere that we needed a starting point from which to make certain arguments plausible? For instance, IIRC, you said that some arguments for Christianity required a belief in God. But that would require first (logically, not chronologically) a belief in the transcendent, correct?
    And once you get there you can investigate the further evidences for a personal God rather than a monistic one. And from there you can investigate the further evidences to separate Christianity from Islam, etc.
    The evidence is there.

  27. Theism seems to involve a large initial assumption – God. My “belief”, if you will, is simply that without the ability to test something, you can not know whether it is “true”.

    Why is theism a valid view, what evidence supports it, and why is that evidence valid?

    Given what came out of your last comment, are you really committed to evidence for what you believe?

    Theism does not require God as a “large initial assumption.” God is both experienced, directly, and also known by evidences. Your closing question is multi-pronged. The answer is here, here, and in libraries full of material all over the world. In other words, there are reams and reams of answers to those questions. God is not an assumption unsupported by reason and evidence.

    Are you willing to look at the evidence? If so, I’m willing to reduce that ridiculously large and unorganized pair of references to something more workable for you.

  28. we’ve actually been making arguments in support of what I said in this last paragraph, while you’ve just been saying you think we might be wrong, because you think there might be some research somewhere that says so.

    http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Neural_correlates_of_consciousness
    There’s a summary of research into this.
    My position is basically that the connection between the brain and mind is amenable to scientific research, even if the “brain” turns out to be or require something “immaterial”, we can still study how this influences the brain. That you’re arguing for dualism with the assertion that “matter can’t produce consciousness” is a given. You’ve presented logical arguments, which while they may be persuasive in themselves, have not been shown to correspond to reality is what I have a problem with.
    I’m satisfied to say we don’t know – not me and not you, and will continue to believe that until shown evidence that we do know, in some sense.

  29. God is both experienced, directly, and also known by evidences.

    But there are many different Gods experienced. Some claim Yahweh, others Jesus, others Allah, others Ganesh etc. With all of these conflicting experiences, how can you trust that any one experience is accurate?
    To me, they all seem to be based on the same evidence, that is personal testimony of an internal revelation.

    The answer is here, here, and in libraries full of material all over the world. In other words, there are reams and reams of answers to those questions. God is not an assumption unsupported by reason and evidence.

    And the same types of evidence can be produced to support other theistic conclusions – ancient book, tales of miracles, personal revelations.
    The Muslims have reams of evidence supporting the revelation given to Mohammed.
    The Hindu’s can also produce evidence of their gods (or god depending on the flavour of hinduism involved).
    That the bible contains historical information is not doubted.
    That some being created the universe and chose to impart information to man through it is.

  30. Hi Havoc,

    That you’re arguing for dualism with the assertion that “matter can’t produce consciousness” is a given. You’ve presented logical arguments, which while they may be persuasive in themselves, have not been shown to correspond to reality is what I have a problem with.

    Thank you for acknowledging that the arguments you are facing are logical and persuasive. This has put you head and shoulders above virtually every other critic I’ve seen here.
    But in what way do they not correspond to reality?
    If our assertions are not correct how would you know that anything you perceive corresponds to reality?

    You don’t need to provide us studies that show that there are neural correlates to consciousness – we make that point over and over again ourselves. I can’t imagine there are very many people who believe that events occur in the mind without some correlate in the brain. The mind/body problem has been acknowledged and wrestled with by both sides for a long time now. What you’d have to do is demonstrate that that correlation has a directional causal effect that entails only the physical. This is not done empirically and appears to fail logically and in principle.

  31. And speaking of question-begging, didn’t you notice that your linked citation massively begs the question throughout – from the very definition of what would be under discussion?

  32. If our assertions are not correct how would you know that anything you perceive corresponds to reality?

    I guess I need to accept some things, such as me not being a brain in a box. But even if I accept that as a possibility, I’m still able to investigate the reality which is being fed to me.
    If your position is taken to be correct, doesn’t it then become self fulfilling – ie no one investigates consciousness, as it’s know to be non-physical.

    What you’d have to do is demonstrate that that correlation has a directional causal effect that entails only the physical. This is not done empirically and appears to fail logically and in principle.

    I’ve said that I’m happy to let others do that work, and say I don’t know for now. That is has not been done empirically as yet I accept. I don’t think it fails logically, as the arguments I’ve seen tend to rely upon assumptions which are not proven – that consciousness cannot arise from the material.

    I’m curious as to the explanation for the brain affecting the mind in a dualistic view?

  33. And speaking of question-begging, didn’t you notice that your linked citation massively begs the question throughout – from the very definition of what would be under discussion?

    I though it was more along the lines of “Lets see how much we can/can’t explain through investigation of the physical structure and nature of the brain/neurones”. I may be mistaken.
    It seems to me that your view would halt investigation, as we’d know that consciousness cannot be studied. Am I mistaken?

  34. Havoc,

    I guess I need to accept some things, such as me not being a brain in a box. But even if I accept that as a possibility, I’m still able to investigate the reality which is being fed to me.

    But whether or not you are being presented a version of reality is the very question I asked you. Under materialism there is no justifying that presumption and every reason to believe it false.
    PS. You are then accepting some things on a basis of something other than science, empiricism, evidence, etc.

    If your position is taken to be correct, doesn’t it then become self fulfilling – ie no one investigates consciousness, as it’s know to be non-physical.

    Accepting my position has never stopped anyone from investigating. Science was built upon the work of people who accepted this position and the very studies listed in the wiki article are often used by their originators to argue for my position.

    That is has not been done empirically as yet I accept. I don’t think it fails logically, as the arguments I’ve seen tend to rely upon assumptions which are not proven – that consciousness cannot arise from the material.

    This is not the assumption but the conclusion of persuasive logical arguments.

    I’m curious as to the explanation for the brain affecting the mind in a dualistic view?

    The brain is a mechanism for communicating with the mind and expressing it. When the mechanism is damaged the communication, both ways, is likely to be impaired.
    If you are asking for a material, causal, connection then I can’t supply that as it is actually begging the question in favour of materialism.
    But the empirical observation is that there is such a connection because we know that mind can affect brain/body. We know that brain states are affected by immaterial, non-physical which interact with the material. And, again, this causality is unaccounted for under materialism.

    It seems to me that your view would halt investigation, as we’d know that consciousness cannot be studied. Am I mistaken?

    You are. There is no reason to halt investigation, as there never has been any reason in the history of science being done by people with my view. As I mentioned in my previous comment, nobody doubts that there is a correlation between mind and body and nobody would stop the investigation of these correlations. The article cited, however, begs the question throughout that those correlations are not only necessary but sufficient to account for consciousness. This is not empirically demonstrated and is not logically justified.

  35. Duece:

    No, I wasn’t. I simply pointed out that life is either designed or it isn’t. That’s a true dichotomy and a fact of logic. It can’t be true for one person and false for another.

    I am mortified that you should think me so poor a logician that I should suppose this to be the false dichotomy. Your words still do not seem to admit this connotation. My statement referred not to the truth state of ID but to the supposition that our choices are limited to 1) an empiricism that categorically rejects ID and 2) an ontology that categorically stipulates it. The third, to which I resort, is a synthesis of knowledge from both domains from which I derive the conclusion of Design.

    Otherwise, I believe that you are beginning to understand me aright, and I should answer your further questions carefully.

    Duece:

    You’re saying that the design of life isn’t just your “religious interpretation”, but is actually the objective truth, so if somebody thinks that life isn’t designed, they are factually incorrect, right? But science lacks the means to evaluate design, and thus can’t say anything about design one way or another. Is this correct?

    Yes. To me, ID is an objective truth, but I contend that it is a conclusion that partly derives from my religious beliefs. Therefore, one who disputes (or defends for that matter) within the province of the natural sciences errs not in the sense that they are just wrong but because the natural sciences are not equipped to aproach the question. The study of nature necessarily excludes the activity of a supernature.

    Duece:

    Why on earth must science assume something that you say is false?

    What I mean is that science being the study of nature must, by definition, exclude the supernature from its general operation. It should do this not as an assertion from the empirical process as did Sagan but as a concession to its practical limitation.

    It is, however, my view that God deliberately designed nature in such a way that it can be systematically and thoroughly understood through the operation of the natural sciences without resorting to a metaphysic. Why he would do such a thing is a complex theological problem that is worthy of exploration, but suffice it for now to say that he has a purpose for providing to man 1) a complete natural order that can be fully explained by the laws, systems, and processes that he put into it and 2) a hunger for something more.

    Duece:

    Are biologists operating outside of science when they talk about function (design)?

    I think it quite possible that the notion of purpose is entirely different for the two sides. I think the naturalist would argue that purpose for him is altogether about utility for survival. The appearance of design is, to him I believe, merely an anthropomorphization. In this sense, the scientist can say a great deal without really touching on design in the sense that the other guy has it. If he should, however, go so far, then I would say that yes, he has ventured beyond what his work in the laboratory can support.

    The only thing that can be said about Darwinism is that it has invalidated a particular creationist system, but it has not gone so far as to invalidate ID. The process of invalidating the one system simply did not speak to the more fundamental question about design. It merely threw one rather disreputable system of thought into the rubbish bin. There remain other possibilities that are still very much in play. This harks back to our false dichotomy.

    Finally:

    Duece:

    IF 1) It is outside the scope of science to comment on design, and 2) Darwinism explains biological design as only apparent, and 3) It is the objective truth that biology is designed; THEN doesn’t that mean that A) Darwinism is outside of science, and B) It is factually incorrect?

    Darwinism has not explained ID empircally as only apparent but excludes it due to its own, inherent limitations. That being the case, there really isn’t any need to dive deeper into this construct. I would say, however, that A is non sequitur. Darwinism could simply be mistaken on one point (that it can say anything about design through its empirical methodology) without sustaining a wholesale collapse of its edifice. If the whole of Darwinism were about disproving the existence of God, then I would say that it was not on its home turf, so to speak. This is not, however, how I read Darwin himself, whatever others may have said.

    Kind regards,
    Russ

  36. If you are asking for a material, causal, connection then I can’t supply that as it is actually begging the question in favour of materialism.

    If your proposition is correct, then there should be behaviour which cannot be accounted for by investigation into the brain, and I think this is far from a settled question.

    But the empirical observation is that there is such a connection because we know that mind can affect brain/body. We know that brain states are affected by immaterial, non-physical which interact with the material. And, again, this causality is unaccounted for under materialism.

    It’s my understanding that we’ve barely scratched the surface in understanding the brain and it’s working.
    We know that brain states seem to be affected by mental states (and vice versa). Whether those mental states are external to the brain, or whether they’re some property , emergent or otherwise, of the brain is a different question. Has research shown that all of the functions of the brain cannot account for all of the functions of the mind?

  37. If your proposition is correct, then there should be behaviour which cannot be accounted for by investigation into the brain, …

    Not at all. That’s like saying there should be music coming from a piano that cannot be accounted for by investigation into the piano (I presume that by “accounted for” you mean ‘correlated to’, not ‘fully explainable and reducible to’).

    It’s my understanding that we’ve barely scratched the surface in understanding the brain and it’s working.

    That’s my understanding as well.

    Has research shown that all of the functions of the brain cannot account for all of the functions of the mind?

    No, research has not shown this. An equivalent question would be “has research shown that there is no God?”
    Was yours serious?

    But then there are still the questions of aboutness and the physical/nonphysical causes of thought – as Tom and I have mentioned. You have a right to believe that science may one day do something to solve these (philosophical) issues but this belief is certainly not demanded by science, empiricism or evidence.
    Rather, it would seem to be necessitated by a large initial assumption – philosophical materialism.

  38. Was yours serious?

    Only a little. Was just checking if there was some evidence showing dualism to be correct. It always pays to check these things.

    You have a right to believe that science may one day do something to solve these (philosophical) issues but this belief is certainly not demanded by science, empiricism or evidence.

    My belief is simply based upon what I see as the steady progression of scientific investigation into the unknown. I have faith in it’s future results based upon it’s track record in the past. That the immaterial has so far not been required to explain phenomena up to this point gives me some confidence that the probability of the immaterial is low, though I’m happy to modify that faith based upon future information.

    Rather, it would seem to be necessitated by a large initial assumption – philosophical materialism.

    I think I’d subscribe more to methodological naturalism, as apposed to the philosophical variety.

  39. Hi Havoc (go to sleep already 🙂 ),

    Only a little. Was just checking if there was some evidence showing dualism to be correct. It always pays to check these things.

    Your question was poorly designed if that was its purpose. Proving a negative is in no way the equivalent of providing evidence.

    My belief is simply based upon what I see as the steady progression of scientific investigation into the unknown. I have faith in it’s future results based upon it’s track record in the past. That the immaterial has so far not been required to explain phenomena up to this point gives me some confidence that the probability of the immaterial is low, though I’m happy to modify that faith based upon future information.

    This really means “that which has been explained materialistically has not required the immaterial for its explanation”. Some phenomena which resist material explanations would be: gravity, the other three fundamental forces of the universe, the existence of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for life, the existence of consciousness, objective morality, the origin of life, rationality, the information-bearing genetic code, etc.
    Yes, I am well aware that you will dispute the existence of some of these, but you would be arguing contrary to experts in the respective fields. I am also well aware that you will refer to them as arguments from ignorance but that would make us about even, re: your account of consciousness and faith in naturalistic explanations.

    I think I’d subscribe more to methodological naturalism, as apposed to the philosophical variety.

    I’ll take your word for it. But looking to explain in terms of material causes and having faith that all phenomena will succumb to such explanations would seem to me to delineate between MN and PN.

    Catchya tomorrow. Have a good night.

  40. Hi Havoc (go to sleep already 🙂 ),

    I’m not in the US, so I don’t need to yet 🙂

    Some phenomena which resist material explanations would be: gravity, the other three fundamental forces of the universe, the existence of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for life, the existence of consciousness, objective morality, the origin of life, rationality, the information-bearing genetic code, etc.

    Well, there are theories of quantum gravity waiting to be tested (LHC and other particle accels etc).
    It was my understanding that the other fundamental forces could be explained with quarks etc, and that conditions for the unification of them had been achieved in todays particle accels. Am I mistaken?
    I’ll give you the existence of the universe, though the personal first cause hypothesis (leading to theism) is only one possibility among many.
    The fine tuning of the universe also appears to be coming along – that the parameters are not free to change, that they are dependent on each other, and changing on would likely lead to changes in the others resulting in the possability of complexity arising in the resultant universe. Not quite “proven” as yet, but working towards it.
    I’ll leave consciousness, as we’ve been discussing it.
    Rationality also would seem to be a part of the current conversation to a degree, though I think there are theories as to how it could arise through evolutionary forces.
    information bearing genetic code is handily covered by evolution also, and theories of abiogenesis are also progressing.
    I’m sure you disagree with some of the above. Should we take it up here, or try to stick to the topic (such that we have been).

    I’ll take your word for it. But looking to explain in terms of material causes and having faith that all phenomena will succumb to such explanations would seem to me to delineate between MN and PN.

    That might be a fair assesment of the position. I do think, however, that should something “supernatural” be found, that it would be amenable to study (or at least it’s affects on the natural) and therefore become part of the “natural”.

    Good night all 🙂

  41. Havok, still wondering: are you willing to look at the evidences? Your answer will affect where I go next here on the blog.

    Of course. Though, depending on what you present, we may need to discuss as to why it should be accepted as valid evidence 🙂

  42. It is, however, my view that God deliberately designed nature in such a way that it can be systematically and thoroughly understood through the operation of the natural sciences without resorting to a metaphysic.

    While I’m focusing on the concept of design rather than supernature per se, I thought I’d point out that this sentence actually contradicts itself. If “God deliberately designed nature” then to “thoroughly understand” nature you would need to understand that fact. But you can’t understand that fact without resorting to a metaphysic.

    Perhaps nature could be designed by God such that you could understand it’s day-by-day operation without resorting to a metaphysic, but not such that you could thoroughly understand its history (since a thorough understanding of its history would entail understanding that it was designed by God, which would entail a metaphysic).

    The appearance of design is, to [the naturalist] I believe, merely an anthropomorphization. In this sense, the scientist can say a great deal without really touching on design in the sense that the other guy has it.

    Well, no, if the scientist is implying that design, as the other guy has it, is really an anthropomorphization, then he’s engaging in metaphysics. This lines up pretty well with what I said above. The biologist can excuse his design talk by saying “I’m not doing metaphysics, because I’m only talking about apparent design rather than real design,” but he’s still really doing metaphysics because that statement entails (as per Darwinism) that design is only apparent.

    The only thing that can be said about Darwinism is that it has invalidated a particular creationist system, but it has not gone so far as to invalidate ID. The process of invalidating the one system simply did not speak to the more fundamental question about design.

    I presume you mean YEC? I agree that YEC has been invalidated, but not by Darwinism per se. I think you have it backwards. Darwinism isn’t primarily about invalidating YEC while silent on design generally.

    It’s the other way around. Darwinism is primarily about explaining the appearance of design in biology, which makes it incompatible with any design hypothesis (including YEC). It just happens to rely on certain other premises (an old earth, common ancestry) which are also incompatible with YEC. However, it’s the evidence for those things that really does in YEC, imo, rather than the Darwinian proposition that design is an illusion. As far as the design hypothesis itself goes, Darwinism invalidates (or fails to invalidate) all equally.

    Darwinism has not explained ID empircally as only apparent but excludes it due to its own, inherent limitations.

    This makes it sound like Darwinism simply doesn’t address design one way or another, but we both know that’s not the case. Rather, the whole point of the theory is to account for the appearance of design in a way that involves no actual design (ie, no intention or mind). That was the reason for Darwin naming his mechanism “natural selection” and why he contrasted it with the actual selection that breeders do. “Selection” is in normal usage an intentional concept, like “choosing” or “designing” (all three are roughly synonymous). The “natural” is intended to imply blind mechanism. So “natural selection” is supposed to be a way of generating the appearance of design with no actual mind or intention. If the topic of design is really outside the purview of science, then this cannot be science.

    Darwinism could simply be mistaken on one point (that it can say anything about design through its empirical methodology) without sustaining a wholesale collapse of its edifice.

    So Darwinism could be right, except for that minor, insignificant little part about natural selection, and it would be no big deal?

  43. Hi Havoc,

    I’m sure you disagree with some of the above. Should we take it up here, or try to stick to the topic (such that we have been).

    There’s nothing to take up as you’ve agreed with me that these problems have resisted naturalistic
    explanations (except your mistaken assertion that evolution explains DNA and its coded information – unless by “explains” here you mean “calls it a frozen accident”) and reaffirmed your faith that they may yet.
    So this makes your statement:

    That the immaterial has so far not been required to explain phenomena up to this point gives me some confidence that the probability of the immaterial is low, though I’m happy to modify that faith based upon future information.

    quite selective and undermines your claimed basis for your faith.

  44. (except your mistaken assertion that evolution explains DNA and its coded information – unless by “explains” here you mean “calls it a frozen accident”)

    What do you mean? It was my understanding that DNA was in no way a problem for the theory of evolution. Surely if it was, the theory would have been invalidated, which it hasn’t been. Where am I going wrong here?

    quite selective and undermines your claimed basis for your faith.

    What do you mean by that? I’m not sure how my statement that while things scientifically don’t seem to require supernatural explanation, should it be found that such a thing is required to explain some phenomena, I’d change my position. Why is that selective, and how does it undermine my basis?

  45. Hi Havoc,

    It was my understanding that DNA was in no way a problem for the theory of evolution. Surely if it was, the theory would have been invalidated, which it hasn’t been. Where am I going wrong here?

    It’s my understanding that DNA presents a huge problem. That doesn’t mean that the theory is invalidated, of course, because there are countless things it can’t explain. Those investigating the matters, or shelving them for later, simply presume, like you, that the theory will cover it one day.

    What do you mean by that? I’m not sure how my statement that while things scientifically don’t seem to require supernatural explanation, should it be found that such a thing is required to explain some phenomena, I’d change my position. Why is that selective, and how does it undermine my basis?

    You claimt hat the basis for your faith is the fact that naturalism is all that is ever needed to explain any phenomenon.
    But naturalism leaves many (the most fundamental and important) phenomena unexplained.
    You selectively choose the examples you believe have been explained as a basis for your faith.
    As an added bonus, you undermine your adherence to empirical verification and your denunciation of making large assumptions upon which to base a worldview.

  46. It’s my understanding that DNA presents a huge problem.

    What is the huge problem? Some kind of link would be great.

    You claimt hat the basis for your faith is the fact that naturalism is all that is ever needed to explain any phenomenon.

    No I didn’t. The basis for my “faith” if you want to call it that, is that only verifiable things can be said to be truth (or, as is the case, an approximation of it). I’m not saying naturalism is all there is. I’m saying that as the supernatural has not been required as yet, I don’t give it a high probability of it existing. Some knowledge to the contrary would cause me to rethink this position.

    But naturalism leaves many (the most fundamental and important) phenomena unexplained.

    Which ones. Obviously (from other threads) you’re likely to say consciousness. What else?

    You selectively choose the examples you believe have been explained as a basis for your faith.

    How am I being selective? If you’ve got some knowledge which contradicts the viewpoint I’ve put forward, I’d love to know of it.

    As an added bonus, you undermine your adherence to empirical verification and your denunciation of making large assumptions upon which to base a worldview.

    I’m not sure what you mean here? How has what I’ve said (perhaps poorly, for which I appologise) undermined my position.

  47. What is the huge problem? Some kind of link would be great.

    What say we do this the other way around? Perhaps you can show me the empirical, verifiable evidence of the origin of DNA as per your theory and your faith in it.

    I’m saying that as the supernatural has not been required as yet, I don’t give it a high probability of it existing. Some knowledge to the contrary would cause me to rethink this position.

    You try to refute my accusation of your selectivity by again affirming that selectivity. I’ve shown you numerous examples which are not explained with reference only to the “natural”.

    Which ones. Obviously (from other threads) you’re likely to say consciousness. What else?

    I mentioned only as few just last night.

    How am I being selective? If you’ve got some knowledge which contradicts the viewpoint I’ve put forward, I’d love to know of it.

    See above.

    I’m not sure what you mean here? How has what I’ve said (perhaps poorly, for which I appologise) undermined my position.

    You claim only verifiable things are the truth. But you rest your faith on many unverifiable things. Your faith is undermined by the very fact that you base it upon things you don’t classify as truths. The fact that you do so undermines your adherence to this test of “truth”.

  48. What say we do this the other way around? Perhaps you can show me the empirical, verifiable evidence of the origin of DNA as per your theory and your faith in it.

    http://www.evolutionofdna.com
    Seems its a book. I haven’t read it, but if it comes close to living up to it’s name, it should do the trick.
    Your turn. You mentioned some “Huge problem”. What is this problem? Can you explain it?

    I’ve shown you numerous examples which are not explained with reference only to the “natural”.

    I guess I’m a bit slow and I must have missed them. Which examples were they? A simple bullet list would be great.

    I mentioned only as few just last night.

    Did you mean the list including the origins od the universe etc, which I provide some brief explanations for? I though that was what got us onto the DNA question.

    You claim only verifiable things are the truth. But you rest your faith on many unverifiable things. Your faith is undermined by the very fact that you base it upon things you don’t classify as truths. The fact that you do so undermines your adherence to this test of “truth”.

    I guess I have explained my position poorly. I appologise again. When speaking about truth (or a model/approimation thereof) surely we need some way to test that truth, otherwise there is no way of knowing whether it is truth or not? I’m not denying that there are or may be unverifiable truths – things which are true, but of which we have no way of knowing that they’re true. I’m simply saying that surely we can’t know if something is true (again, or an approximation to it) unless we can test that truth.
    Am I mistaken here?
    Are there unverifiable truths of whose validity we should accept, even though it can’t be tested?
    If so, why?

  49. Seems its a book. I haven’t read it, but if it comes close to living up to it’s name, it should do the trick.
    Your turn. You mentioned some “Huge problem”. What is this problem? Can you explain it?

    Come now, Havoc. It’s your faith on the line, and your claim that DNA poses no problem whatsoever for naturalistic evolution. Why does it pose none? You and I both know that I don’t have to find a link to demonstrate that there is no explanation for the origin of DNA. Even a moment’s thought will demonstrate that chemical and physical interactions can’t create a semantic code.
    And do you really propose that a book title is sufficient empirical evidence for your claim?

    I guess I’m a bit slow and I must have missed them. Which examples were they? A simple bullet list would be great.

    No links, then? OK.
    This really means “that which has been explained materialistically has not required the immaterial for its explanation”. Some phenomena which resist material explanations would be: gravity, the other three fundamental forces of the universe, the existence of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for life, the existence of consciousness, objective morality, the origin of life, rationality, the information-bearing genetic code, etc.
    Yes, I am well aware that you will dispute the existence of some of these, but you would be arguing contrary to experts in the respective fields. I am also well aware that you will refer to them as arguments from ignorance but that would make us about even, re: your account of consciousness and faith in naturalistic explanations.

    Your reply was that there are hopes, hypotheses, and thoughts on these subjects. Those amount to “no explanations”.
    Reading on:

    Did you mean the list including the origins od the universe etc, which I provide some brief explanations for? I though that was what got us onto the DNA question.

    Yep.
    And those were not explanations.

    I’m simply saying that surely we can’t know if something is true (again, or an approximation to it) unless we can test that truth.

    That’s what I’ve said. If you don’t know its true you don’t know its true. And yet you base your faith upon these unverifiable suppositions.

  50. So, off I go to check on your verifiable, empirical evidence demonstrating the natural explanation for the origin of DNA.
    The first thing I see, of course, is this:

    Possible answers to some puzzling genetic questions:

    How did DNA evolve from the primordial soup?

    Possible answers to puzzling questions. This doesn’t sound at all like your naturalistic theory has found DNA to be no problem whatsoever.

    And from the intro:

    However, trying to find a pathway from the primordial soup of Oparin and Haldane, to the formation of DNA strands is not so easy. Scientists have proposed many theories for the early origins of life– from Darwin’s ‘warm little pond’ , to the currently popular ‘RNA world’ . But so far, nobody has described a full set of chemical steps capable of making the jump from chaos to living organisms.

    As they say, and we’ve seen so many times,you just can’t judge a book by its cover.

    Thanks for providing me the very link you’ve asked me for.

  51. Possible answers to puzzling questions. This doesn’t sound at all like your naturalistic theory has found DNA to be no problem whatsoever.

    Guess it serves me right for googling without reading. Thanks for pointing it out.
    Not too sure about your “huge” moniker though. Difficult, seems to be. Cause to claim materialsm false, or the supernatural required. Doesn’t seem to be as yet. Do you agree?
    If not, I’d love to learn why.
    Never know when i’ll be caught out, as it were, and I do so like to learn 🙂

  52. Difficult, seems to be. Cause to claim materialsm false, or the supernatural required. Doesn’t seem to be as yet. Do you agree?

    I do agree. I didn’t and wouldn’t say otherwise. Certainly shows that a faith in naturalism founded upon the fact that only nature is necessary to explain everything is a faith unfounded.

    edit:
    I’ve got to turn in now. Have a good night.

  53. Charlie,

    Certainly shows that a faith in naturalism founded upon the fact that only nature is necessary to explain everything is a faith unfounded.

    It shows there are still hard questions remaining to be answered, but I don’t think it shows that faith to be unfounded. Throughout history, scientific theories have continuously been able to explain things which were previously the domain of the supernatural. I’m not sure confidence based upon past behaviour of that kind is “faith”.
    Which variety of dualism do you have “faith” in, and what is that “faith” based upon?

  54. Hi Havoc.
    I have faith in God as our Father and Creator and in His Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    I believe that faith to be a gift of God by His grace. That faith is supported and argued for through the lines you’ve been presented already, as well as by man other similar lines showing the necessity of God, by the testimony of history, by the testimony of logic and reason, by answered prayers, by the presence of God in my life.

    What dualism is that? I don’t know. It would take a great deal of time finding out what I believe about the body/soul/spirit connection.
    But that’s hardly necessary, is it? We both know that I have faith and my beliefs are faith-based.
    The exercise has been a demonstration of the fact that your evidence-based, all-knowledge-must-be-tested-and-verified, claim is false. Showing that a Christian trusts faith just as much as you do is a pretty ineffective “so’s your momma” when that’s exactly what he was showing about you.

  55. By the way,
    I was going to let this lie, but, what the heck…

    You just said:

    Throughout history, scientific theories have continuously been able to explain things which were previously the domain of the supernatural. I’m not sure confidence based upon past behaviour of that kind is “faith”.

    Other than just restating the position we’ve been arguing, you also seem to be taking issue with my use of the word “faith” in describing your position.
    However, from before:

    Me: You have a right to believe that science may one day do something to solve these (philosophical) issues but this belief is certainly not demanded by science, empiricism or evidence.

    Havoc: My belief is simply based upon what I see as the steady progression of scientific investigation into the unknown. I have faith in it’s future results based upon it’s track record in the past. That the immaterial has so far not been required to explain phenomena up to this point gives me some confidence that the probability of the immaterial is low, though I’m happy to modify that faith based upon future information.

    Why are you implying a new meaning of the word “faith” now with the scare quotes?

    And I guess I might as well bite – what scientific theory has ever shown that only nature is necessary to explain everything? Or, failing that, which scientific theory has shown that a phenomenon used to evidence the existence of the supernatural can be explained entirely and without recourse beyond the “natural”? Bear in mind, of course, that science can’t give us a naturalistic explanation of the four fundamental forces of nature, or of the existence of the universe itself, or of life, etc..
    Since you believe that science can one day explain everything in natural terms and you base this upon its track record of doing so, please show where it has, even once, shown that any class of explanations reduces strictly to and completely to matter in motion without need of the “supernatural”.

  56. I’d like to see the journal article that reports how nature is sufficient to explain everything.

    I know there was an editorial in Nature last year to that effect. But they took off their science had to write that, and put on their metaphysics hat.

  57. Charlie,
    I’m putting “faith” in scare quotes because the colloquial use doesn’t quite match the dictionary definition. The definition “Faith: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof” I don’t see applying to my belief that science can continue to explain reality on the basis of past behaviour.

    Bear in mind, of course, that science can’t give us a naturalistic explanation of the four fundamental forces of nature, or of the existence of the universe itself, or of life, etc..

    This wiki link seems to explain the 4 fundamental forces in terms of the interations of particles.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interaction
    I’m no physicist, but is that not a naturalistic explanation for the 4 forces in terms of the interaction of fermions and bosons? Granted the gravitons are more hypothetical than the others.
    Also, there are theories for the beginning of the universe, some of which hope to be testable in the near future, whether by more sensitive space based equipment or the LHC. Why does a gap in our current knowledge indicate, to you, the need for supernatural causes?

    Since you believe that science can one day explain everything in natural terms and you base this upon its track record of doing so, please show where it has, even once, shown that any class of explanations reduces strictly to and completely to matter in motion without need of the “supernatural”.

    Perhaps you’re right, and some supernatural explanation will be required. Currently what we have are “natural” explanations, and we don’t know where the natural ends, so claiming supernatural causes seems premature.
    Why are you so eager to claim the supernatural as required?

  58. Charlie,

    What dualism is that?

    I think it’s known as “Soul Dualism”.

    I don’t know. It would take a great deal of time finding out what I believe about the body/soul/spirit connection.

    But hasn’t that been a large part of this conversation – which constitutes the mind/body problem, with the soul being the seat of the mind in your beliefs?

    But that’s hardly necessary, is it? We both know that I have faith and my beliefs are faith-based.

    I think it is necessary, as we should know whether our faith contradicts experimental evidence. Any form of dualism which invokes the supernatural, which yours seems to, runs into problems with things such as conservation of energy, thermodynamics etc. Space-time appears to be causally closed, and your dualism tends to bump up against this.

    The exercise has been a demonstration of the fact that your evidence-based, all-knowledge-must-be-tested-and-verified, claim is false.

    I was trying to claim that we can’t know something to be true unless we can test/verify it. I’ve probably been very poor in trying explain this.

    Showing that a Christian trusts faith just as much as you do is a pretty ineffective “so’s your momma” when that’s exactly what he was showing about you.

    It’s been claimed above that the “evidence” based approach I’ve been arguing for throws out too much knowledge.
    The evidence based approach seems to filter out the “false”, though perhaps it also filters out the “true”.
    The “I know things are true though I can’t demonstrate it” approach allows the “false” to be thought “true”, as far as I can tell. Am I wrong in this?
    Which is preferable:
    – Your set of truths are all true, though it may not contain all truths
    – Your set of truths contains all truths, though it may contain falsehoods
    I’d argue that the former is preferable, and it seems to me others here have been arguing for the latter. Am I correctly “simplifying” the arguments? Why would the second be preferable?

  59. HI Haoc,

    I’m putting “faith” in scare quotes because the colloquial use doesn’t quite match the dictionary definition. The definition “Faith: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof” I don’t see applying to my belief that science can continue to explain reality on the basis of past behaviour.

    No? You have “proof”, then?

    Also, there are theories for the beginning of the universe, some of which hope to be testable in the near future, whether by more sensitive space based equipment or the LHC. Why does a gap in our current knowledge indicate, to you, the need for supernatural causes?

    It doesn’t. I answered this already. It shows that you do not have naturalistic answers to all questions which have been asked. You can not appeal to suggested theories and hopes of testing as evidence that naturalism is always evidenced and is, therefore, likely to always be sufficient as an explanation.

    Perhaps you’re right, and some supernatural explanation will be required. Currently what we have are “natural” explanations, and we don’t know where the natural ends, so claiming supernatural causes seems premature.
    Why are you so eager to claim the supernatural as required?

    I’m not, and you’re not paying attention. I’m saying your faith does not have the backing you’d like to claim when you come on making appeals to empirical evidence as foundational. Even here you say “currently what we have are naturalistic explanations”, but you haven’t. Your wiki link notwithstanding, you do not have naturalistic answers to the biggest question, and none of the explanations we do have do anything to demonstrate that all of existence and phenomena are reducible to matter in motion.

    I think it’s known as “Soul Dualism”.

    Is it? Thank you.

    But hasn’t that been a large part of this conversation – which constitutes the mind/body problem, with the soul being the seat of the mind in your beliefs?

    Nope.

    I think it is necessary, as we should know whether our faith contradicts experimental evidence. Any form of dualism which invokes the supernatural, which yours seems to, runs into problems with things such as conservation of energy, thermodynamics etc. Space-time appears to be causally closed, and your dualism tends to bump up against this.

    Whatever label you’d like to affix to me you I’d like to see your evidence or hear your arguments for these claims. In what way does my claim that mind is not explained by naturalism and evolution a violation of known laws? What is your evidence that Pace-time appears to be causally closed? How can it be causally closed when Space-time came into being from a cause beyond Space-time?

    Your set of truths contains all truths, though it may contain falsehoods

    Every set of truths may contain falsehoods – the empiricist’s especially. You have heard that all scientific knowledge is held tentatively, is subject to change, and given the testimony of history (which you seem to think is on your side) is likely to be found to be mistaken?
    And what falsehoods am I admitting into my set of truths by stating that a physically causally closed universe does not explain consciousness and makes rationality invisible to natural selection (which false belief you admit into your set of truths).

    If you can’t test something for truth, how can you know if it is true or not?

    You have no test for your belief that the whole of existence is explicable in naturalistic terms.
    You continually said that the rejection of naturalism would entail a stop to science – without a test and contra the evidence.
    And, as before, you admit you have to accept, with no evidence and no reason to believe it, that you are not a brain in a vat.

    And you have not provided the tests that show which ” scientific theory has ever shown that only nature is necessary to explain everything”, or “which scientific theory has shown that a phenomenon used to evidence the existence of the supernatural can be explained entirely and without recourse beyond the “natural” or “where it has, even once, shown that any class of explanations reduces strictly to and completely to matter in motion without need of the “supernatural”.”

  60. So off I go to check on another of your links:
    “conceptual model”, “Efforts of modern physics are directed at explaining”, “Gravitons are hypothetical particles not yet observed”, “there are a number of alternate theories of gravity”, “Currently, there is no complete theory of quantum gravity. There are several candidates for a framework to fit quantum gravity, including string theory, loop quantum gravity and twistor theory”, “In theories beyond the Standard Model, there are frequently fifth forces and the search for these forces is an on-going line of experimental research in physics. ”

    I’m no physicist, but is that not a naturalistic explanation for the 4 forces in terms of the interaction of fermions and bosons? Granted the gravitons are more hypothetical than the others.

    No, Havoc, I would not call the forces “explained”, would you? Really?
    Check out the variety of proposed theories even to unify the forces, let alone explain them
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_unification_theory

  61. No, Havoc, I would not call the forces “explained”, would you? Really?

    I did say the gravity explanation was hypothetical. Any problems with the other 3? The particles which cause them have been directly or indirectly detected. So would you say we have naturalistic explanation for them? If not, what would satisfy you? If so, why would we expect gravity to be different? Seemingly more difficult, but of a different quality?

  62. The particles, directly or indirectly found, are postulated to be able to carry a force. It is only by mathematical theorizing that one can say they can cause an attraction at a distance. This is the reductionist’s greatest problem. You see a particle, name it, and think you’ve explained the phenomenon.
    The very fact that there is theory after competing theory attempting to explain the forces, and that gravity must be explained in any of the theories in order to explain the other three forces (“unified” or not) demonstrates that the forces are not explained.

  63. Charlie,

    The particles, directly or indirectly found, are postulated to be able to carry a force. It is only by mathematical theorizing that one can say they can cause an attraction at a distance. This is the reductionist’s greatest problem. You see a particle, name it, and think you’ve explained the phenomenon. The very fact that there is theory after competing theory attempting to explain the forces, and that gravity must be explained in any of the theories in order to explain the other three forces (”unified” or not) demonstrates that the forces are not explained.

    As far as the current theory is concerned, the particles have charge and attract/repel each other. As the theory (QM) is very well tested, and provides predictions which are incredibly accurate means we can have great confidence in the theory.
    What would count as an explanation of the 3/4 forces for you?
    Would a theory of quantum gravity of similar be enough?
    Would you want further details?
    Given that gravity is as yet unexplained do you think there is a need to postulate the supernatural?

  64. The testing and confidence of QM does not translate to any of the competing attempts to unify.
    The particles have charge and repel-attract one another. That sounds like electro-magnetism. By what mechanism do they attract one another due to their charges?

    What would count as an explanation of the 3/4 forces for you?

    An explanation of what force is, not just the proposed particles implicated in transmitting it.

    Given that gravity is as yet unexplained do you think there is a need to postulate the supernatural?

    No. I have answered this question over and over again. How many times have I said what this demonstrates? It demonstrates that your claim that everything is/has/can be/will be explained in only naturalistic terms is not supported by the evidence. You are misrepresenting and ignoring evidence. Just like you did with DNA.

  65. Charlie,

    An explanation of what force is, not just the proposed particles implicated in transmitting it.

    I may be mistaken, but I thought the force was the particles ie. the Strong Nuclear force is the interaction of gluons. Am I wrong here? I’m not fully up on quantum mechanics, so I probably am.

    It demonstrates that your claim that everything is/has/can be/will be explained in only naturalistic terms is not supported by the evidence. You are misrepresenting and ignoring evidence. Just like you did with DNA.

    I guess I’ve been poorly presenting my point then. As science has been very successful in explaining reality without introducing the supernatural – ie. it seems to work, then assuming the supernatural is a premature conclusion. I think it is reasonable to hold to a naturalistic account until/unless presented with arguments/evidence to the contrary.
    I’m not sure where I’ve said that naturalism has to be the answer, only that it I think it is more reasonable given the current state of affairs.
    Is there evidence to the contrary?
    If there is not, is my stance reasonable?
    If the gaps in our current understanding you’ve indicated provide this contrary evidence, I think I’m not understanding your argument and we could concentrate there.

  66. Havoc,

    I may be mistaken, but I thought the force was the particles ie. the Strong Nuclear force is the interaction of gluons. Am I wrong here? I’m not fully up on quantum mechanics, so I probably am.

    But see what you just did? You said the force is the particle and then you said the the force is the interaction. How do particles interact? How does charge cause attraction?

    If there is not, is my stance reasonable?

    Ah, there’s the question. As I’ve said to every atheist who bothers to ask, yes, of course it is. A belief can be rational and wrong or it can be rational and right. What I am pointing out is that your belief is a violation of your claimed epistemology, is not supported in the manner that you have claimed, and is not necessitated, by the evidence. In my opinion, and based upon my experience and interaction with the evidence, naturalism is not the best explanation and the rational explanation is God.

    If the gaps in our current understanding you’ve indicated provide this contrary evidence, I think I’m not understanding your argument and we could concentrate there.

    The gaps in our current knowledge do nothing but demonstrate the fallacious nature of claiming to base one’s worldview on our knowledge, or one’s faith on the history of our acquiring knowledge of a certain type.
    We are not acquiring knowledge that naturalism is all there is or knowledge that makes God less likely. That is just a fact about philosophy and science.

  67. Charlie,

    But see what you just did? You said the force is the particle and then you said the the force is the interaction. How do particles interact? How does charge cause attraction?

    As I said, I know very little about QM. Just enough to put my foot in it, it would appear.
    I’ll try to look into it more to provide a better explanation, but don’t hold your breath 🙂

    In my opinion, and based upon my experience and interaction with the evidence, naturalism is not the best explanation and the rational explanation is God.

    And this I don’t understand. What evidence leads to you accepting the Christian God while discounting other gods? If you could explain that I would understand your position better.

    The gaps in our current knowledge do nothing but demonstrate the fallacious nature of claiming to base one’s worldview on our knowledge, or one’s faith on the history of our acquiring knowledge of a certain type.

    As the discussion with Paul on the other thread is going through this, i’ll simply say I don’t think things can be accepted as true unless they can be tested (I think that is the statement which started the other conversation).

    We are not acquiring knowledge that naturalism is all there is or knowledge that makes God less likely. That is just a fact about philosophy and science.

    So what knowledge have we gained concerning God?
    It seems the theologians God is some wispy insubstantial thing, not at all like Yahweh. Any further knowledge concerning the nature of God seems to get mired in contradictory and mutually exclusive claims for the God entity.
    How does theology, without any means to verify their claims in the real world, add to real world knowledge and not just thought experiments?

  68. Hi Havoc,
    I’m not about to rehearse the evidences for Christianity right now. You are not really in the appropriate mood for evaluating evidence, given our discussion on the other thread. If you ever approach the subject with an open mind and a real desire to learn what I believe I’d love to tell you. Otherwise, you can read some of the pages that Tom has written on the subject and which are part of the link I provided on the other thread.

    As the discussion with Paul on the other thread is going through this, i’ll simply say I don’t think things can be accepted as true unless they can be tested (I think that is the statement which started the other conversation).

    You’ve demonstrated a massive propensity to accept things as true based upon little to no evidence.

    As for the rest of your comment – I think I will regret publishing any comment I might make right now.

    Have a goodnight.

  69. I’m not about to rehearse the evidences for Christianity right now. You are not really in the appropriate mood for evaluating evidence, given our discussion on the other thread.

    I think I’m always in the mood to view evidence. I don’t think the other thread impacts the presentation of what one party considers evidence for their position.
    The other thread seems to have concentrated on what myself and Paul regard as justification for knowledge. Perhaps we could discuss your justifications on this thread?

    Otherwise, you can read some of the pages that Tom has written on the subject and which are part of the link I provided on the other thread.

    More material to add to the list. If nothing else, it’s all generally interesting.

    You’ve demonstrated a massive propensity to accept things as true based upon little to no evidence.

    I disagree (of course), but you knew I’d say that. I may have a belief that something is likely given other knowledge of beliefs, but I don’t think I accept them as even provisionally true. Though I guess you’d disagree with that.

    As for the rest of your comment – I think I will regret publishing any comment I might make right now.

    Fair enough. I look forward to comments you may make in the future.

    Enjoy!

  70. Havok,

    Also, there are theories for the beginning of the universe, some of which hope to be testable in the near future, whether by more sensitive space based equipment or the LHC. Why does a gap in our current knowledge indicate, to you, the need for supernatural causes?

    I’d like to know what these tests are and what they hope to discover. Do they really aim to get at the actual beginning, before the first 10^-43 seconds of the Bang? Are they expecting to explain the origin of the singularity? I have heard no such thing.

    I may be mistaken, but I thought the force was the particles ie. the Strong Nuclear force is the interaction of gluons. Am I wrong here? I’m not fully up on quantum mechanics, so I probably am.

    That’s the correct answer. Next question: once you know about gluons, has science explained all that you claim that it has? You’re essentially claiming it can explain everything, but now we have to wonder where gluons come from. We have to wonder why it is that mathematical constructs like those involved in deep physics work so well. Why is the world mathematical at all? We have to wonder how it is that nature cobbled together an organism that can not only shoot an arrow at a deer, it can also compute the size and age of the universe and determine the chemical composition of stars millions of light-years away.

    All of these are questions to which science can contribute, but science is not competent to answer them completely, because they wrap around on science like a Möbius strip. Their answers amount to what it takes even to get started on science. Therefore Charlie is correct:

    The gaps in our current knowledge do nothing but demonstrate the fallacious nature of claiming to base one’s worldview on our knowledge, or one’s faith on the history of our acquiring knowledge of a certain type.

    We are not acquiring knowledge that naturalism is all there is or knowledge that makes God less likely. That is just a fact about philosophy and science.

    Then you inquired,

    What evidence leads to you accepting the Christian God while discounting other gods? If you could explain that I would understand your position better.

    See this on the uniqueness of Christfor one answer. You could also look through the series on “What Christ Does For Us.” You might want to start in the middle, “Who Christ Is,” but the earlier context is important too if you have time.

    This is not historical evidence for Christ in these posts; it’s explanation, rather, of why Christ when there are so many other religions? I hope it begins to answer the question you’ve asked.

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