Dawkins Continues To Demonstrate My Point

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My point in my Washington Post column was that the New Atheists have a poor track record in practicing reasoned discourse. Our team of authors said the same thing in the ebook True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism.

In his article, currently sitting next to mine there at On Faith, Dawkins does it again.

1. The Self-Defeating Statement

How have we come to the point where reason needs a rally to defend it? To base your life on reason means to base it on evidence and logic. Evidence is the only way we know to discover what’s true about the real world. Logic is how we deduce the consequences that follow from evidence.

He doesn’t define “evidence” in this article, but generally the term refers to observable indicators leading toward knowledge. Based on his other writings I am quite sure that Dawkins means physically observable indicators. So he is saying that the only way we know to discover what’s true about the real world is through such physically observable signs. I wonder if he thinks that very statement is true about the world. And I wonder where the observable physically observable sign is that shows that statement to be true.

The fact is, that statement is not an evidence-based statement. There is no physical observation that one can make to show its truth. Therefore it is self-defeating: it can’t be known to be true unless it’s false, for if it’s true that all knowledge comes by way of evidence, then that principle could never be known.

2. The Straw Man (Misrepresentation of the Position He Opposes); The Stereotype

2. “Rather than have them learn modern science, I’d prefer my children to study a book written in 800 BC by unidentifed authors whose knowledge and qualifications were of their time. If I can’t trust the school to shield them from science, I’ll home-school them instead.”

Such a parent will not enjoy the Reason Rally.

I don’t know of any Christian anywhere at any time who has said “I don’t want my children to learn modern science.” That’s a gross overstatement. Now, with respect to the origins of biological diversity there is controversy on this. But I’ll stand up as one who doubts the truth of evolution and has yet repeatedly told my children, “Learn it. Understand it. Understand evolution at least as well as anyone else in your school.” I don’t fit his stereotype. Most Christians don’t fit most atheists’ stereotypes.

3. The Straw Man Again, and the Self-Contradiction

This one becomes more comical the more you look at it:

3. “When I am faced with a mystery, with something I don’t understand, I don’t interrogate science for a solution, but jump to the conclusion that it must be supernatural and has no solution.”

Recall that he thinks that “evidence is the only way we know to discover what’s true about the real world.” You would think that even though that’s not possibly true for all knowledge, he would at least take it to heart in situations where it is. The fact is that modern science was born out of a culture that understood the world to be supernatural and interrogated science for a solution. He would be hard-pressed to show real evidence that this stereotyped conception of his has any significant representation in the real world.

So thank you again, Dr. Dawkins, for providing these further illustrations of your general incompetence in applying reason and logic.

4. The Real Point

Speaking of demonstrated points, though, why bother with any of this? What’s the point of it? It’s that Richard Dawkins is trying very hard to lead people away from truth, with his claim that his way is more reasonable. The effect of that is that he is also leading them away from life—the life offered to them by their good, loving, and just Creator. I do get bothered by his errors, and I would love to see them defeated, but not for the sake of winning. I would give my own life for the truth I am defending, so why would I care about who “wins” an argument between me and some British professor I’ll likely never meet? No, I want to see them defeated for the sake of what’s real, what’s true, what’s good, what gives genuine hope, and what brings eternal life.

118 Responses

  1. Patrick Reynolds says:

    He doesn’t define “evidence” in this article, but generally the term refers to observable indicators leading toward knowledge. Based on his other writings I am quite sure that Dawkins means observable, physical indicators.

    The word ‘evidence’ is a commonly known and used word. Instead of supposing what he meant as a way to insert a false definition, it is reasonable to think that he used the standard scientific definition – a gathering of facts in support of a conclusion.

    On the other hand I’m not sure how you are using the term ‘observable’. Many known scientific facts are not directly observable. No one has seen a black hole on one end and a quark on the other end. Proof of their existence is gathered through indirect evidence. Forensics is a field where people try to determine what happened at an event that no one there directly observed.

    I don’t know of any Christian anywhere at any time who has said “I don’t want my children to learn modern science.” That’s a gross overstatement.

    I’ve read posts from many Christians on other Christian blogs who absolutely reject science. Many reject the voluminous scientific evidence for evolution and others reject the voluminous scientific evidence for the earth being several billion years old. Many other Christians believe in faith healers over doctors and other prefer to pray away their child’s genetic illness rather than take him/her to a doctor. Entire subgroups (sects) of Protestant Christianity reject many forms of science. Other Christian sects (denominations) that reject science include the Quaker, Amish and Mennonite communities.

    . The fact is that modern science was born out of a culture that understood the world to be supernatural and interrogated science for a solution.

    And yet science has not shown any supernatural event to have occurred or be true in any way.

  2. Mike Gene says:

    Patrick,

    The word ‘evidence’ is a commonly known and used word. Instead of supposing what he meant as a way to insert a false definition, it is reasonable to think that he used the standard scientific definition – a gathering of facts in support of a conclusion.

    You are suggesting we approach this topic in an intellectually sloppy fashion. I have found that the word ‘evidence’ means many different things to different people. For example, what if we were to ask Dawkins what type of data he would consider as evidence for God? Would he do as Victor Stenger and Jerry Coyne do, and advocate the god-of-the-gaps approach? Or would he do as PZ Myers does and insist there can be no evidence for God? The atheist movement seems to be deeply confused on this fundamental issue, so it is NOT safe “to think that he used the standard scientific definition.”

    BTW, Dawkins has said that if God appeared to him as a 15 foot Jesus and boomed, “I exist!,” he would remain skeptical. So I have not the foggiest notion what he means when he preaches about “evidence.”

    Personally, I think he likes to use the word simply because it sounds sciencey.

  3. TCC says:

    The fact is that modern science was born out of a culture that understood the world to be supernatural and interrogated science for a solution.

    And yet science functions by ignoring any thought of the supernatural (indeed, to do so would defeat the purpose of science). Funny how people in such a world would then discard the supernatural as a part of the scientific process.

    Also, if you think there aren’t people like Dawkins describes, you’re deluding myself. A good childhood friend of mine (whose wedding last summer I still traveled 6 hours to attend) came from just such a family (home schooled, evolution/old earth deniers, sent kids to conservative So.Bap college). If that doesn’t describe you, great, but remember that Dawkins isn’t addressing all Christians (he says, “Such a parent…”).

  4. Mike Gene says:

    And yet science functions by ignoring any thought of the supernatural (indeed, to do so would defeat the purpose of science).

    Whoa! But according to Dawkins, science can address God’s existence. Victor Stenger even advocates that the God-of-the-Gaps approach be incorporated into science:

    http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/new-atheist-doesnt-understand-science/

    New Atheists cannot seem to make up their mind whether the supernatural should be allowed in science or not.

  5. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    @Mike Gene,

    well Dawkins and Stenger are right, if the supernatural existed, then surely it can be studied by science. in fact science could’ve never made such a progress without appealing to supernatural explanations and the its success is inexplicable in a traditional monotheistic framework. (apart from deism)

    take the idea that we have immaterial souls for instance. the absence of evidence in this case is definitely evidence of absence, since there should be abundance of evidence for a soul if it existed. there is none.
    to postulate the existence of a soul as an explanation of certain phenomena is no less scientific than postulating dark matter, say. if the soul interacts in any way with the matter/energy which constitutes the human brain then those interactions can be studied scientifically and there would’ve been numerous scientific models developed by now, explaining those interactions; perhaps even discovering a new force by which the interaction occurs since it seems unlikely that the mediating force would be any of the four known forces ( elector-magnetism, gravity, the strong and weak nuclear force).
    The bottom line is this: the reason science doesn’t resort to supernatural explanations is not because they lie beyond the purview of science but because they always fail, and are eventually replaced by better, naturalistic explanations. and again, that is very strong evidence against a supernatural realm that in any way interacts with the physical Universe. (of course if it has no causal powers and doesn’t influence processes in the physical world (e.g. deism), that’s another story)

  6. Just a little fun with the logical luminaries of the evolutionary Meat Machine Clan:

    Science progress has determined
    There’s no reason…there’s no rhyme…..
    Because Nothing just exploded
    Just before the nick of Time!

    We have not ironed out the details,
    But we’re sure we’ll get to that!
    In the meantime, you can trust us…
    And those rabbits from our hats

    Look again… just Mindless Chaos.
    That’s reductionism’s scheme.
    In its madness, Rules of Logic
    Just gets blown to smithereens.

    Bottom Line…. what’s “real” is Pointless,
    What you thought was true’s a lie.
    ‘Twas a Mass Hallucination..
    Trust our pi up in the sky.

    You can trust this contradiction…
    Logic’s fin’lly seen it’s day!
    Chaos wins! Confusion’s sov’reign!
    Watch as Reason fade away.

  7. Mike Gene says:

    AgeofReason,

    well Dawkins and Stenger are right, if the supernatural existed, then surely it can be studied by science.

    I wanna make sure I’m clear on this. So you support and endorse the god-of-the-gaps approach for science, right?

  8. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    “I wanna make sure I’m clear on this. So you support and endorse the god-of-the-gaps approach for science, right?”

    that’s not god-of-the-gaps approach. again, see my example with an immaterial soul. if you postulate a soul as an explanation simply because we don’t have a plausible naturalistic explanation, that IS a “soul-of-the-gaps” reasoning. however, if you can develop a testable hypothesis that models the interactions between the soul and the brain, much in the way physicists do with interactions between quarks, electrons, etc, and crucially, the hypothesis makes verifiable predictions that we can test and observe, then that’s a perfectly legitimate and scientific approach.
    the problem is that no one has ever come close to proposing such a theory, and that has revealed the explanatory vacuousness of supernaturalism better than anything.

  9. BillT says:

    “…if the supernatural existed, then surely it can be studied by science.”

    Do you have any proof, scientific or otherwise, that the above is true?

  10. Tom Gilson says:

    AOR21, I have a couple of cautions for you. First, not everything that is postulated to explain the unknown is x-of-the-gaps reasoning. There is also inference to the best explanation. Quarks themselves could be viewed that way. They are the best explanation for the physical phenomena that have been observed in the laboratory. Does a grand jury accuse the prosecutor of “murderer-of-the-gaps,” just because the murderer is unknown?

    Second, you are asking us to produce a model for the interaction between the immaterial and the material, just as physicists model material interactions. Do you not see how that begs the question? It’s like saying, “I’ll believe in the immaterial as long as you can show that it acts like a material thing.” Or, “I’ll believe in the immaterial as long as you can show that it’s not really immaterial.”

    What you do through that tactic is cut yourself off from possible knowledge. You will only permit yourself to learn about a possible aspect of reality, only if it conforms to your preconceptions of what it must be—preconceptions which include the belief that if it exists, it must exist in a form that contradicts itself (as I have just said). This at least puts you at risk of impoverished knowledge. (Unless, that is, you know already that you know everything there is to know about the forms reality can take.)

  11. William Francis Brown says:

    Patrick said,
    “Other Christian sects (denominations) that reject science include the Quaker, Amish and Mennonite communities.”

    This is absurd and it is really wrong to just make things up, because some folks reading this will believe it.

    I attended a Quaker college (Haverford) and some of my Quaker professors were brilliant, highly published scientists, Rhode scholars, A Cambridge astronomer, etc. They were devout followers of traditional Quakerism as well. Early colonial Philadelphia had an abundance of prominent scientists who were Quakers, and it was largely their faith that led them to the scientific exploration of God’s orderly macrocosmc and microcosmic universe.

    I lived on a farm in Lancaster, PA area and many of my Amish and Mennonite neighbors were extremely well read and well-versed in science and scientific philosophy. They had much more open minds than most of my current suburban neighbors (no TV, many were avid readers). I attended medical school at Hershey (PA State Med School) with many Mennonites, a Hudderite brethren, and some Amish. One was a PhD in Zoology, anther had done graduate research in molecular biology. I am a devout Christian. I spent three years studying specific aspects of DNA synthesis in graduate school at Vanderbilt.

    Your silly statement is just made up and in no way reflects historical or current truth.

    Your other points need addressing, but much time and space is limited.

  12. William Francis Brown says:

    Patrick said,
    “Other Christian sects (denominations) that reject science include the Quaker, Amish and Mennonite communities.”

    This is absurd and it is really wrong to just make things up, because some folks reading this will believe it.

    I attended a Quaker college (Haverford) and some of my Quaker professors were brilliant, highly published scientists, Rhode scholars, A Cambridge astronomer, etc. They were devout followers of traditional Quakerism as well. Early colonial Philadelphia had an abundance of prominent scientists who were Quakers, and it was largely their faith that led them to the scientific exploration of God’s orderly macrocosmc and microcosmic universe.

    I lived on a farm in Lancaster, PA area and many of my Amish and Mennonite neighbors were extremely well read and well-versed in science and scientific philosophy. They had much more open minds than most of my current suburban neighbors (no TV, many were avid readers). I attended medical school at Hershey (PA State Med School) with many Mennonites, a Hudderite brethren, and some Amish. One was a PhD in Zoology, anther had done graduate research in molecular biology. I am a devout Christian. I spent three years studying specific aspects of DNA synthesis in graduate school at Vanderbilt.

    Your silly statement is just made up and in no way reflects historical or current truth.

    Your other points need addressing, but my time is limited.

  13. Holopupenko says:

    @SageofReasonXXI #5:

    Really… yes, I mean really, your ignorance and lack of logic (bouyed by some deep-seated hatred) is breathtaking, and it’s another example of one of Tom’s main points: atheists are among the greatest abusers of reason. Consider this nonsense:

    [W]ell [d]awkins and [s]tenger are right, if the supernatural existed, then surely it can be studied by science. [I]n fact science could’ve never made such a progress without appealing to supernatural explanations and the its success is inexplicable in a traditional monotheistic framework.

    First, answer BillT’s question. You made a categorical assertion–back it up with sound arguments and verifiable references.

    Second, if “it” is supernatural (BTW, please explain to us what you think “supernatural” means and what “it” is… which should be a good laugh, folks) and the natural sciences study, well, aspects of nature, why should the natural sciences be able to study the supernatural? Are you so obtuse that you missed such a simple, freshman-year point of logic? (Do you have any clue what “question begging” means?) It’s like saying, “if books existed, then surely they can be studied by science by seismology.” Actually, it’s worse than that… it’s more akin to saying, “if the scientific method existed, then surely it can be studied by the natural sciences.” Wonderful. You put a “scientific method” on the table for me and provide a list of empirically-accessible (i.e., observable and MEASURABLE) properties it has so that I can then correlate that data into mathematical formalisms in the interests of making verifiable predictions… and then, maybe, I’ll play your silly, ignorant game. Do it NOW, or keep your personal opinions to yourself.

    [Digression in the interests of equal-opportunity gadflyism: you promulgate the flip-side of the error Intelligent Design advocates make. They think God can be proved DIRECTLY by means of the modern empirical sciences because they think God’s “fingerprints” in nature can be MEASURED. You think God can be disproved (through an alleged lack of empirical evidence, where you conveniently define “evidence” as that which fits your emotional needs–the “no evidence for the soul” was a howler, BTW) by the modern empirical sciences. Ironically, BOTH abuse science. End digression.]

    However, I put my money on you NOT being obtuse. Rather, you’re intentionally devious: what you’re stealthily trying to impose on critical thinkers is an ideology called scientism–the self-defeating notion that the natural sciences are THE epistemic arbiters of all knowledge. Care to provide a “scientific” proof for that? Can you say “circular reasoning”?

    My jaw dropped at the stupidity of your second sentence. Try re-reading what you typed. Do you really want to cling to that… really? Do you have even the smallest clue about the origins of the modern empirical sciences? (Hint: it’s not a result of the Enlightenment or the Renaissance or the Protestant Reformation.)

    Why would anyone want to be on the Mall this coming Saturday? The forecast is for darkness and hatred and insecurity–anything but reason–to fall upon the earth.

    Ditto on Tom @10 and William Francis @11.

  14. hidden101 says:

    @ Tom

    Second, you are asking us to produce a model for the interaction between the immaterial and the material, just as physicists model material interactions. Do you not see how that begs the question? It’s like saying, “I’ll believe in the immaterial as long as you can show that it acts like a material thing.” Or, “I’ll believe in the immaterial as long as you can show that it’s not really immaterial.”

    The reason he is asking you for scientific evidence is because it is the only way that you can show someone that it is real. You keep saying there is some other way of obtaining truth but so far all you have offered in that light is a book written a long time ago that backs up your claim of a soul. That’s like me saying Superman is real because he has a comic book. Yes, I understand that the Gospels are based on a real person (of course I’m not actually suggesting Superman is real), but in what ways would I be able to verify Jesus was divine? Because the book says so? You must see how that is insufficient…

    Let me ask you a question I hope you will answer. If a man claimed tomorrow that he had written a new Gospel and that God had spoken to him, would you accept it? If not, why? Would you think this man telling you God spoke to him is any different than Iron Age men claiming the same?

  15. JAD says:

    History is full of examples of scientists who metaphysically saw God in nature and yet have made major discoveries and contributions. My favorite is, Johannes Kepler, who said about his scientific work:

    “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.”

    I forget, what was the name of the atheist scientist who launched the scientific revolution?

  16. hidden101 says:

    @ Holopupenko

    I will not engage in dialogue with a person who calls me stupid right off the bat. Try again.

    I love how you asked me for “sound arguments” but offered none yourself to refute what I said. All you did offer was insults and that is not a mature, adult exchange.

  17. Doug says:

    @hidden,
    Does the following represent your position accurately:

    [scientific evidence] is the only way that you can show someone [something is true]

    ?

  18. hidden101 says:

    @ Doug

    It does not represent my position accurately. There are more than one ways to find truth. I only need science to prove something to me under certain circumstances.

    Can you show me that a human soul is real? What method would you use to do so? How can you explain its properties and characteristics? What are its functions?

  19. Doug says:

    @hidden,

    I only need science to prove something to me under certain circumstances.

    ok, that’s cool. Care to describe those circumstances where you do not need science to prove something to you?

  20. G. Rodrigues says:

    @AgeOfReasonXXI:

    in fact science could’ve never made such a progress without appealing to supernatural explanations and the its success is inexplicable in a traditional monotheistic framework.

    Wrong. The fact that you do not appeal to God but to natural substances as secondary causes, does nothing to support your case. In fact, very much the contrary is true, since science *only* thrived, not just in a monotheistic framework, but in a very particular one, the Christian one.

    take the idea that we have immaterial souls for instance. the absence of evidence in this case is definitely evidence of absence, since there should be abundance of evidence for a soul if it existed. there is none.

    You have to explain what do you mean by soul (do you mean the Cartesian dualist, the property dualist or hylemorphic dualist versions?). And I would argue that there is plenty of evidence for the hylemorphic conception of the soul, so you are simply wrong. Now maybe what you mean by evidence, is empirical evidence of the sort used in the hard empirical sciences, but then you would have to prove, by the use of empirical evidence, that only empirical evidence can be used to substantiate claims.

    note: if you feel the urge to respond, please, make sure you *understand* what I am talking about.

    to postulate the existence of a soul as an explanation of certain phenomena is no less scientific than postulating dark matter, say.

    The language of science is the only language you know and thus, you reduce everything to its own terms and then mess it all up. The soul is not posited to explain certain hitherto unexplained phenomena, but rather its existence is the *conclusion* of rigorous arguments, so you are wrong.

    if the soul interacts in any way with the matter/energy which constitutes the human brain then those interactions can be studied scientifically and there would’ve been numerous scientific models developed by now, explaining those interactions;

    What you say points to a problem for Cartesian dualism (the so-called interaction problem) and although I am not conversant with it, I suspect it can be solved. More importantly for me, it is completely irrelevant for hylemorphic dualism, the flavor of dualism I advocate.

    the reason science doesn’t resort to supernatural explanations is not because they lie beyond the purview of science but because they always fail, and are eventually replaced by better, naturalistic explanations.

    Wrong again. That “they lie beyond the purview of science” *is* precisely the reason, because supernatural causes, whatever they are, are not amenable to experiment and quantification.

    and again, that is very strong evidence against a supernatural realm that in any way interacts with the physical Universe.

    Wrong again. The way in which the the supernatural (e.g. God) interacts with the physical world can be “detected” but not by via of science, or even if we do use science, it is only as the first step in an indirect, usually metaphysical argument.

    6 quotes, 6 wrongs; not a bad average.

    note: are you a scientist? Who made you the mouth-piece of the scientific community that you would speak for it in such categorical terms about science? Just a curiosity.

  21. Tom Gilson says:

    G. Rodrigues and Holopupenko already addressed this, but I want to reinforce a point with respect to this:

    well Dawkins and Stenger are right, if the supernatural existed, then surely it can be studied by science. in fact science could’ve never made such a progress without appealing to supernatural explanations and the its success is inexplicable in a traditional monotheistic framework. (apart from deism)

    You’ve made a positive claim here, that science cannot be explained in a traditional monotheistic framework. Would you please support that with some reason why someone should believe it? (You might want to look at this first, to avoid some errors others have made.)

    You’ve also made a statement that if the supernatural existed, then surely it can be studied by science. This is slipperier than you think it is. Is there some double-blind research protocol you can devise to test the hypothesis of God? Does it go like this?

    1. If God exists, then in experimental condition x God is hypothesized to do y, whereas in condition x’ it is hypothesized that God will not do y.
    2. To eliminate experimental bias, we hide the true condition, so that neither God nor the experimenter knows whether the experimental condition x or x’ obtains.

    Or do you do this (I’ve seen statements like this from Dawkins):

    H1. (Hypothesis 1). This world looks the way we predict it would look if God created it.
    H2. This world looks the way we predict it would look if God did not create it.

    Note that in order for this to be unbiased and uncontaminated by things like the actual existence or non-existence of God, or the actuality of the world being the product or not the product of God’s handiwork, you would need to conduct this thought experiment in two conditions:

    a. Starting from the position of being in a world created by God, and
    b. Starting from the position of being in a world not created by God.

    So suppose on one day you are in a world created by God, and you find that H1 is only slightly more plausible than H2; and then on the next day you were in a world not created by God, and you found H2 overwhelmingly more plausible than H1, well, then I think you would have a valid scientific test demonstrating the superior overall plausibility of H2.

    Good luck arranging to be in both a and b on consecutive days.

    So here I’ve proposed two ways to use science to establish the existence/non-existence of God. Do you have any other ways to offer?

  22. hidden101 says:

    @ Doug

    Care to describe those circumstances where you do not need science to prove something to you?

    I would be happy to. Just as soon as you answer my questions about the human soul.

    I know you won’t and will claim I’m trying to derail the conversation with those questions, but they are important to me in order to understand why you believe in something that I see no compelling evidence for. You will not convince me of anything by trying to force me down your logic trail and then by saying I have poor logic and reasoning skills.

    Unless of course you do not believe in a human soul, in which case we can stop right here.

  23. Holopupenko says:

    hidden101 @16 translated – “Run away! Reason be damned!”

    … a person who calls me stupid… I did “put my money” on you being devious, that your ideas are wrong, that your ideas are, indeed, stupid, and you appear quite ignorant of numerous issues (see Rodrigues’ count)… but “you stupid”? Evidence, please.

    Well, don’t bother: everyone can see how wrapped you are around your axles of unsupportable presuppositions… and that you have NO intention of challenging yourself outside the little box into which you’ve cornered yourself. You don’t “see” compelling “evidence” because you, quite intentionally, have come to a scientistic conclusion and therefore you do not WANT to “see.”

  24. Doug says:

    @hidden,
    Interesting strategy. But what possible bearing does my view on the human soul have to the topic at hand? If you cannot be persuaded by logic, perhaps there is a better use of your time.
    But if it really matters to you: the best arguments for the soul are philosophical, but the two books The Spiritual Brain and Evidence of the Afterlife are accessible to you.
    I look forward to your answer to my question now. 🙂

  25. JAD says:

    These debates really always boil down to a debate over presuppositions: the presuppositions of theism vs. the presuppositions of naturalism/ materialism. Now presuppositions are in of themselves not scientifically or empirically provable. Nevertheless, for some reason, non-theists insist that theists must prove their presuppositions while assuming that their own presuppositions require no such proof.

    To hold this position a non-theist must be either dishonest, misinformed or ignorant.

  26. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    @G. Rodrigues

    “In fact, very much the contrary is true, since science *only* thrived, not just in a monotheistic framework, but in a very particular one, the Christian one.”

    The rise of modern science was built on scientific discoveries made millennia earlier in Ancient Greece and later in the Islamic world during the so-called Islamic Golden Age (750 CE – c.1258 CE). The fact that a messianic religion concerned primarily with the salvation of the soul and the world to come couldn’t suppress scientific progress in this world forever (just for well over 1000 years) does not really support your point

    “to prove, by the use of empirical evidence, that only empirical evidence can be used to substantiate claims.”
    The evidence is the success of science and the complete failure of other ways of “knowing” like revelation. Or are you one of those who have fallen for the silly fiction that “scientism (i.e. empiricism) is self-refuting”.

    “but rather its existence is the *conclusion* of rigorous arguments”
    nonsense.

    If there was anything even close to convincing objective evidence (presented in the form of an argument) someone would’ve won the Nobel Prize for pointing it out, don’t you think?

    “What you say points to a problem for Cartesian dualism (the so-called interaction problem) and although I am not conversant with it, I suspect it can be solved”

    great. Make sure you send that solution to Stockholm, to claim that Prize.

    “That “they lie beyond the purview of science” *is* precisely the reason, because supernatural causes, whatever they are, are not amenable to experiment and quantification.”

    That contradicts your earlier statement about the solution to the interaction problem. To say that those interactions cannot be studied by science is analogous to saying that there are no interactions at all: after all if the soul can interact with the atoms in your brain, surely it can interact with the atoms that constitute our measuring equipment. Which can be modeled and tested.

    “The way in which the the supernatural (e.g. God) interacts with the physical world can be “detected” but not by via of science, or even if we do use science, it is only as the first step in an indirect, usually metaphysical argument.”

    Is that a W.L.C. kind of baloney “I’m not using science to prove God, I’m just using science to support a premise in a philosophical argument that leads to the conclusion..”? That has to be the most abject piece of nonsense Craig has ever spouted (and it’s very competitive list). An argument that uses science to support a premise and therefore can be shown to be sound or unsound by science is the definition of a scientific argument and what it means to use science to prove anything.

    “note: are you a scientist? Who made you the mouth-piece of the scientific community that you would speak for it in such categorical terms about science? Just a curiosity.”

    BSc in CS. And the categorical terms I speak in are not used only by accommodationists. The rest mostly share the view of Dakwins, Stenger, Harris, etc. on this issue.

    @Tom Gilson
    “So here I’ve proposed two ways to use science to establish the existence/non-existence of God. Do you have any other ways to offer?“

    You’re using a definition of science that is somewhat narrow. How about this: the last 150 years of research had demonstrated that mind states are totally dependent upon brain states. The most common view among neuroscientists is that the mind is simply what the brain does. If true (as it seems to be), it means that the very concept of an immaterial or unembodied mind involves a category mistake, confusing “things” or “entities” with “function” or “what a thing does“ (it’s like speaking of an immaterial digestion). That’s a way science can prove an immaterial mind doesn’t and cannot exist. Btw, that’s why you can’t take the position that some Christians had adopted- ” may be the human mind is material [that is, the product of a material substance], but that doesn’t mean there’s no immaterial mind”, is untenable. Just swap the word “mind” with the word “digestion”.

    @Holopupenko
    congrats. you’ve proved to be a vacuous morons and if you think that pathetic rant above has anything to do with reason I’d suggest you up the dose of your meds.

  27. Doug says:

    The rise of modern science was built on scientific discoveries made millennia earlier in Ancient Greece and later in the Islamic world during the so-called Islamic Golden Age

    …only in the minds of New Atheists. Real historians are much more closely aligned with GR’s narrative. And any talk about suppressing science for a thousand years is pure myth (please do some research outside of reddit).

  28. G. Rodrigues says:

    @AgeOfReasonXXI:

    The fact that a messianic religion concerned primarily with the salvation of the soul and the world to come couldn’t suppress scientific progress in this world forever (just for well over 1000 years) does not really support your point

    That was not my point; you are responding to a figment of your ignorant imagination. If you want to know more, I suggest you read actual, real bona-fide historians, like Hannam, Grant, Pernoud and others to understand what I am talking about.

    Or are you one of those who have fallen for the silly fiction that “scientism (i.e. empiricism) is self-refuting”.

    First, learn the terminology. Empiricism is not the same thing as scientism. Second, it is not a silly fiction, it is a fully demonstrable claim that scientism is self-refuting. To quote Dr. Johnson: I found you an argument, I am not under the obligation to find you an understanding.

    but rather its existence is the *conclusion* of rigorous arguments

    nonsense.

    Maybe, maybe not. Can you replicate for us any one of these arguments to show that you actually know them, or are you just talking out of your arse?

    That contradicts your earlier statement about the solution to the interaction problem. To say that those interactions cannot be studied by science is analogous to saying that there are no interactions at all: after all if the soul can interact with the atoms in your brain, surely it can interact with the atoms that constitute our measuring equipment. Which can be modeled and tested.

    First, can you read? I said the interaction problem was a problem for Cartesian dualism not for hylemorphic dualism, the version of dualism that I favor. I also said that I *suspect* it could be solved, but refrained from pronouncing because I am not an expert on Cartesian dualism.

    Second “To say that those interactions cannot be studied by science is analogous to saying that there are no interactions at all” is not just literally false, but once again betrays your enthrallment to scientism. In other words, you are just begging the question.

    An argument that uses science to support a premise and therefore can be shown to be sound or unsound by science is the definition of a scientific argument and what it means to use science to prove anything.

    You have no idea of what type of arguments I am alluding to, do you?

    BSc in CS. And the categorical terms I speak in are not used only by accommodationists. The rest mostly share the view of Dakwins, Stenger, Harris, etc. on this issue.

    In other words, no specific competence — not that I am dismissing your statements on the grounds of your lack of specific competence. As I said, it was just a curiosity. Besides, appeals to the fact that such and such a group endorses your view is not an argument but a fallacious appeal to authority.

  29. Doug says:

    the last 150 years of research had demonstrated that mind states are totally dependent upon brain states

    that’s not an honest way to describe what “the last 150 years of research” has demonstrated. A close relative completing her degree in neuroscience would correct you thus: “the last 150 years of research has assumed that mind states are totally dependent upon brain states, has established some of that dependence, but is at a loss as to how to construct an experiment to establish ‘total dependency'”.

  30. Doug says:

    like Hannam, Grant, Pernoud

    this book is also an excellent summary of the actual history.

  31. Mike Gene says:

    AOR,

    that’s not god-of-the-gaps approach. again, see my example with an immaterial soul. if you postulate a soul as an explanation simply because we don’t have a plausible naturalistic explanation, that IS a “soul-of-the-gaps” reasoning. however, if you can develop a testable hypothesis that models the interactions between the soul and the brain, much in the way physicists do with interactions between quarks, electrons, etc, and crucially, the hypothesis makes verifiable predictions that we can test and observe, then that’s a perfectly legitimate and scientific approach.

    In other words, if the soul behaved like a natural force, we could detect this supernatural force. You are not making much sense. How would you know you were dealing with a supernatural force and not a natural force?

    Look, you insisted that “Dawkins and Stenger are right.” Okay. Stenger has laid his cards on the table:

    Such a God is supposed to play a central role in the operation of the universe and the lives of humans. As a result, evidence for him should be readily detectable by scientific means. If a properly controlled experiment were to come up with an observation that cannot be explained by natural means, then science would have to take seriously the possibility of a world beyond matter.

    So this is right? That’s the god-of-the-gaps argument.

  32. Doug says:

    A nice response to Stenger (or anyone entertaining the idea that god-of-the-gaps is a legitimate trajectory toward a scientific foundation for the supernatural) is found in David Wood’s chapter in True Reason — and for only $2.99, it would be hard to justify not reading it! 🙂

  33. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    “A close relative completing her degree in neuroscience would correct you thus: “the last 150 years of research has assumed that mind states are totally dependent upon brain states, has established some of that dependence, but is at a loss as to how to construct an experiment to establish ‘total dependency’”.

    “assumed”? “has established some”? my friend, your close relative is either ignorant or it is s/he who’s done the “assuming”. The total dependency of mind upon brain is the conclusion of the vast majority of the experts, both nueroscientists and philosophers of mind. I mean, there’s literally no reputable neuroscientist who holds that there’s a soul that interacts with the brain; substance dualism has been universally rejected not because of some presupposition but because there’s not a shred of evidence in its support.

  34. Doug says:

    @AOR:
    If you think for a second that you know more about neuroscience than my relative, you are really quite mistaken, your false dichotomy notwithstanding. Your reference to philosophers of mind is a bluff. There is a thing called “the hard problem” — ever heard of it? Hint: problems are “hard” because “the vast majority of experts” do NOT share the same conclusion.
    But hey, why wave our hands in the air? I just looked it up: only 61% [edit: selected the wrong menu items previously] of Faculty/PhD Philosophy of Mind respondents to the PhilPapers survey “accepted or leaned toward” a physicalist explanation of mind.

  35. Holopupenko says:

    It seems Mr. “I demand evidence” can’t come up with, well, evidence. Why bother, when ignorance and emotion work just fine: atheist makes an assertion, evidence for that assertion is requested (@23), atheist runs away name-calling (@26). About as dark as… well… a “bright.” Okay, okay, now I’ll say it because the evidence is in: you’re not a very bright fellow, are you AOR?

  36. Crude says:

    Doug,

    Another interesting bit: under metaphysics, 43.5% back naturalism, 33.3% back non-naturalism, 23% back ‘other’. For a survey of largely atheists (except in PoR), that’s interesting.

    Another comment, which I think others have hit on but bears repeating: AOR has defined “a scientific detection of the supernatural soul” as equivalent to any other physical model. The soul would interact with the brain just as any other matter interacts with other matter.

    The main position among substance dualists rejected this view. The soul was not ‘ectoplasm’ or ‘some kind of weird, extended thing that could interact with the body’. That would mean the ‘soul’ is just a strange kind of matter. Even hylomorphists have pointed out this mistaken view of substance dualism.

    Stenger is out of his depth. His standard, as Mike and others have pointed out, is “God of the Gaps”. Not only is that reasoning Stenger himself normally rails against, but if we accept it, then lo and behold – there are a tremendous number of “gaps” already! And therefore, plenty of evidence for God’s existence.

  37. Doug says:

    @Crude,
    I agree entirely — the survey results indicate many things, and “naturalism is not a ‘conclusion'” is surely one of them.

  38. Mike Gene says:

    It’s not just Stenger who builds his whole case around God-of-the-Gaps. So does Jerry Coyne. It was no surprise to me that Coyne would endorse Stenger’s article: “”God is a testable hypothesis,” is very good.”

    Of course, like Stenger, Coyne talks out both sides of his mouth. For it was the very same Jerry Coyne who criticized the views of Conway Morris as follows:

    Conway Morris is way, way peeved at atheists. He mentions them several times in his piece. He thinks he has vanquished them with his “unanswerable” evolutionary arguments. But he has not. He is simply proposing a “God of the gaps” argument, and here the gap is our mind.

  39. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    @Mike Gene
    “In other words, if the soul behaved like a natural force, we could detect this supernatural force. You are not making much sense. How would you know you were dealing with a supernatural force and not a natural force?”

    it doesn’t matter what you call it. is it really so hard to understand? either the “supernatural” has causal powers and can influence the behavior of matter/energy or it can’t. if it can, then science which studies the behavior of matter can detect it. take for example dark matter. we know it exists because the ordinary matter in galaxies can’t account for their rotation speed (meaning, dark matter interacts with ordinary matter through the force of gravity). now the word “dark matter” simply stands as a label of our ignorance which is to be replaced when we discover what it actually is, in terms of properties, behavior, etc., explained in the context of a theory which makes observable predictions. the problem with the “supernatural” is that no one has ever proposed any sort of theory that doesn’t simply say “god did it” or “the soul did it” or what have you. what’s more, every time in the past we thought that certain phenomena are explained by the “supernatural” (angels, demons, gods, etc) it turned out there’s perfectly good “naturalistic” explanation. Consider for a moment our current “gaps” in our understanding of how the human brain works. any theory that proposes an adequate explanatory framework that makes observable predictions, won’t be god-of-the-gaps even if it postulates the existence of a “soul” (the fact that the soul is so poorly defined is one of the reason such a theory doesn’t seem forthcoming). Of course, if confirmed, then the soul would be “naturalized” so to speak, and it won’t be considered supernatural any more (which is why I don’t like the term “supernatural”).
    Stenger could’ve expressed himself better

  40. Sault says:

    @hidden

    My favorite memory of participating on this site will always be the first time Holo called me “dumb as a bag of hammers” . In all of the years that I’ve debated online, I’ve never been called that

    So yes. They may think, but they also take great pleasure in working in a few jabs here and there. Everyone has their own style: Holo has a more poetic approach to his slander, Doug is a little more subtle, GR is more disgruntled in his denigration, Victoria prefers a more pious preachiness (although sometimes she’ll slip up and admit that she can’t wait to see you burn), etc. Holo’s replies are always worth reading, though, even if it’s just for the color commentary!

    Just remember that whatever you do, don’t compare anyone to Kirk Cameron. I was nearly kicked off the board for that one!

    Basically, by them insulting you, all they’re really doing is showing you that even with all of the knowledge and religion and faith that they have, they have no moral advantage over you.

    Learn what you can from their words, and don’t worry about the rest.

    Besides, if it wasn’t for commoners like you and me, how would Holo ever get his nasal passages cleaned out? I would think that drinking Chardonnay whilst debating on “Thinking Christian” wouldn’t be the optimum method of nasal cleansing, but if it works…

  41. BillT says:

    “either the “supernatural” has causal powers and can influence the behavior of matter/energy or it can’t. if it can, then science which studies the behavior of matter can detect it.”

    Here it is again in slightly different words and here is my question again.

    “Do you have any proof, scientific or otherwise, that the above is true?”

  42. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    @Doug
    “only 61% [edit: selected the wrong menu items previously] of Faculty/PhD Philosophy of Mind respondents to the PhilPapers survey “accepted or leaned toward” a physicalist explanation of mind.

    so? the question is how many are substance dualists, i.e. accept the view that there are two different kinds of “stuff”, material and immaterial. the answer is almost none. many of those 40% are, property dualists, meaning they don’t believe in a separate substance, but that mater has two different kind of properties: physical and mental. just like the physicalists they too believe the mind is completely dependent upon the brain. the fact is that only a tiny minority of philosophers accepts the idea of immaterial soul. so no, that wasn’t a bluff.

    “There is a thing called “the hard problem” — ever heard of it? Hint: problems are “hard” because “the vast majority of experts” do NOT share the same conclusion.”

    you have no clue what the “hard problem of consciousness” is, do you? google it. it doesn’t mean that “the vast majority of experts” do NOT share the same conclusion.”, but basically that first person experience cannot be explained in terms of a third-person description of the brain. and btw, David Chalmers who coined the term is no believer in a soul either. there’s nothing about the hard-problem that poses a problem for naturalism.

  43. Doug says:

    @Sault,
    Thanks for the good laugh 🙂

  44. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Sault:

    Just remember that whatever you do, don’t compare anyone to Kirk Cameron.

    Apologies for my ignorance, but can anyone tell me who is Kirk Cameron?

  45. Doug says:

    @AOR,
    I’m glad that you can use Google.
    Let me reiterate: “false dichotomy”.
    Previously, the “question” was:

    The total dependency of mind upon brain is the conclusion of the vast majority of the experts

    (#33) which, incidentally the “hard problem” most certainly does weigh in on (and seriously, it was the word “hard” that I said implied that “the ‘vast majority of experts’ do NOT share the same conclusion” — your misrepresentation of what I said is preposterous)…but now that you’ve been shown to be incorrect, it becomes

    how many are substance dualists

    How did that happen?

  46. d says:

    While we obviously shouldn’t expect science to be able to tackle everything in principle, it’s usually not very impressive to see so many beliefs hastily maneuvered behind a science proof shield…

    … that’s what astrologers, tarot card readers, psychic mediums, telepaths, and chakra healers do…

  47. Tom Gilson says:

    Science-proof shield?

    How about just saying science is very good at what it’s good at, but it’s not good at everything–without this kind of funny loaded language, implying there’s something morally wrong about it.

  48. Crude says:

    AOR,

    Take a good look at what you’re saying.

    The supernatural, if it existed, could be studied by science.

    Also, anything that can be studied is natural, not supernatural.

    And it’s a blow against supernatural thoughts that science, which not only can only study what is natural, but anything it CAN studied is called natural by default, has not discovered the supernatural. Which it is incapable of doing anyway.

    Huh.

  49. G. Rodrigues says:

    @d:

    While we obviously shouldn’t expect science to be able to tackle everything in principle, it’s usually not very impressive to see so many beliefs hastily maneuvered behind a science proof shield…

    … that’s what astrologers, tarot card readers, psychic mediums, telepaths, and chakra healers do…

    Because dualists, of whatever stripe, hastily maneuver behind a science-proof shield and are on par with “astrologers, tarot card readers, psychic mediums, telepaths, and chakra healers”. Right. Any more bits of your intellectual dishonesty you care to share with us?

  50. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    “Do you have any proof, scientific or otherwise, that the above is true?”

    whether science can detect the interactions between matter and the “supernatural”? well, what physics does is study the behavior and interactions of elementary particles. if the supernatural exists and interacts with matter our models wouldn’t work if they don’t take that into account, right? just as our models of the rotation of galaxies do not work without adding (and thus postulating the existence of) “dark matter”. in fact whether you use the term “dark matter” or “the supernatural” doesn’t really matter; currently it’s simply a label for what we don’t yet understand.

  51. hidden101 says:

    @Sault

    I noticed all of the nuances you described fairly quickly.

    I especially enjoyed seeing Victoria pretending to be nice, but as soon as you assert something to the contrary of her beliefs, she will fly off the handle and is quick to point out that you’ll be in hot water when you die for not agreeing with her.

    Doug tries to evade your questions by saying you are not following his protocol for how he expects the conversation to happen. It seems his strategy is to keep you looking exactly where he wants you to look.

    Holo is just plain rude. The very first interaction I had with him he inferred that I was stupid. I use the word “inferred” because he didn’t want to give me the opportunity to say that he directly called me stupid. Plausible deniability and what have you so he can pretend to take the moral high ground.

    Tom has been the only one that seems capable of reasonable dialogue.

    All I wanted to do is come here and have a nice debate, but the air of superiority surrounding these folks is astounding. The snarky comments, the smug, sarcastic tone and the condescension is just too distracting to have any kind of dialogue for me.

    The best answers to my questions I’ve gotten out of these people so far are philosophical ones. Philosophies are ideas. They seem to think ideas are evidence of their beliefs. “well, well, well, if you want to know what a soul is I can’t tell you, but I believe in it anyway and here’s a book you can read by a philosopher that explains why souls are real!”

    It’s really fairly ludicrous and I don’t know why I’m even still coming back here. I suppose it is because every once in a while, one of them will say something that makes me think I will learn something, but then they say something insulting and it really just ruins it for me.

  52. JAD says:

    G. Rodrigues @ #44

    “Apologies for my ignorance, but can anyone tell me who is Kirk Cameron?”

    He’s an American actor.

    http://www.kirkcameron.com/

    He is also a Christian and creationist who was going to debate Richard Dawkins on Bill O’Reilly but backed out… Something that Dawkins has ridiculed.

    See here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC1xgS1XGSg&feature=related

    What’s more cowardly? Backing out of a debate or refusing to debate?

    Either way I find Dawkin’s comments to be quite ironic.

  53. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    @Crude

    come on, man. did you not read anything I wrote?
    if science studies how matter/energy behaves and the “supernatural” (whatever it is) can influence the behavior of matter, then science can, and has to, take it into account in order to provide a complete description.
    and the fact that science has made such progress without resorting to the supernatural (when it should have) is strong evidence against it.

  54. hidden101 says:

    @ JAD

    I should also add that Kirk Cameron is ridiculed for using the yellow sweet banana as an example of intelligent design, not knowing that it is actually a mutation from historical cooking bananas, which further strengthens the evolutionary argument.

    In other words, he’s not too bright and for him to debate someone like Dawkins would just be futile.

  55. JAD says:

    @hidden101

    Which means he is someone who could have been easily bullied by Dawkins. Apparently that’s Dawkin’s style.

  56. hidden101 says:

    Well, whatever the case may be, I just wanted to mention I am amused by the former child star hanging out with the banana man, trying to refute evolution with an example of it. What a fantastic duo.

  57. BillT says:

    AOR

    So your answer is no.

    You have no proof that science can detect the interaction of the supernatural and the material.

    Yet, you’ve used that as the basis for your argumentation. Doesn’t seem very reasonable.

    And no, your reply to Crude above is not a reasonable explanation. You’re bootstapping the idea that the interaction must be detectable if it exists and you haven’t established that.

  58. SteveK says:

    AOR,

    Referencing the supernatural you said “it doesn’t matter what you call it”.

    On that you are wrong, but just for the sake of discussion, if it doesn’t matter what you call it, then you would just as well call it natural – and be wrong, but not know that you are wrong.

  59. Melissa says:

    AOR

    come on, man. did you not read anything I wrote?
    if science studies how matter/energy behaves and the “supernatural” (whatever it is) can influence the behavior of matter, then science can, and has to, take it into account in order to provide a complete description.
    and the fact that science has made such progress without resorting to the supernatural (when it should have) is strong evidence against it.

    Yes and no. God is proposed as an explanation of the regularities in nature and the existence of contingent beings. These would not be accessible to science. What you are considering are special acts of God and the actions of free agents which science might conceivably, in the future detect as events without a deterministic physical cause but that is all science could say.

    Science does not need to resort to the supernatural as it investigates the regularities in nature. ie. It has a limited field of study and it is successful in that limited field (investigating how change occurs)

  60. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    Listening to Craig one can see what Dawkins means when he said he loaths Craig’s “odiously unctuous, smug, self-satisfied tone of voice”. why would anyone want to debate that shameless charlatan called Billy nothing-can-convince-me-I’m-wrong Craig is beyond me. Sam Harris did a good job exposing Craig’s psychopathic “moral” “theory”, but he should’ve realized debating low-life fundy like Craig (who insist that the fact the majority of people will be tormented for eternity in Hell is demanded by God’s justice!) is always a mistake. besides, it’s not Harris who is desperate to convince his colleagues in academia that a “Bible-believing Christian” is not synonymous with a lunatic and psychotic.

  61. SteveK says:

    AOR,
    Emotional outbursts are not arguments nor reasons.

  62. Mike Gene says:

    AOR,

    You insist that science can study the “supernatural” yet offer no explanation for how this could happen apart from vague analogies. So I asked you, “How would you know you were dealing with a supernatural force and not a natural force?”

    You’re reply?

    it doesn’t matter what you call it.

    Are you kidding me? It does indeed matter what you call it. If you insist that the supernatural can be detected, then you need a method to distinguish the supernatural from the natural. Not only do you not have one, you don’t even seem to understand the need to have one. All of this tells me you are not a scientist and don’t know how to think like a scientist.

    At this point, you could fall back on the intellectuals in the Gnu movement. But alas, scientists like Stenger and Coyne rely entirely on their god-of-the-gaps thinking. No help there. While others like Myers think you are wrong and that science cannot test for the supernatural. Oh, oh, why are you right and Myers wrong?

    All of this confusion is just further evidence for something I have noted – atheism is a subjective opinion.

    http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/atheism-just-a-subjective-opinion/

  63. G. Rodrigues says:

    @hidden101:

    Philosophies are ideas. They seem to think ideas are evidence of their beliefs. “well, well, well, if you want to know what a soul is I can’t tell you, but I believe in it anyway and here’s a book you can read by a philosopher that explains why souls are real!”

    Wrong again. Philosophy is not “ideas” but ideas together with the accompanying rational arguments to substantiate them. Now, you do not object to the fact that an argument that purports to prove something, say, the substance dualist conception of the soul, is de facto evidence for such a conclusion, or do you?

    About your caricature between commas, why the surprise? Since there is no agreement on the matter, it is to be expected that the arguments are subtle, and explaining them on a combox is a doomed enterprise so why waste time and bandwidth, when there are readily available references that will do job much better than I could ever do? Besides, it is not like you have presented a *single* argument for a physicalist conception of the mind that was not immediately shot down, so methinks you hardly have any reason to complain.

    All I wanted to do is come here and have a nice debate, but the air of superiority surrounding these folks is astounding.

    I do not doubt that that is / was your intention. But just look at post #61 vomited by AgeOfReasonXXI to see the kind of crap we have to put up with on a regular basis.

  64. Mike Gene says:

    AOR: Listening to Craig one can see what Dawkins means when he said he loaths Craig’s “odiously unctuous, smug, self-satisfied tone of voice”. why would anyone want to debate that shameless charlatan called Billy nothing-can-convince-me-I’m-wrong Craig is beyond me.

    LOL! Dawkins actually criticized someone else for having an “odiously unctuous, smug, self-satisfied tone of voice?”

    As for “nothing-can-convince-me-I’m-wrong,” let me quote PZ Myers:

    There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us.

    And Steve Zara:

    We should make it clear that all arguments that lead to gods are wrong because they lead to gods!

    As for Dawkins, he said he would not change his mind even if a 15 foot Jesus appeared before them and boomed, “I exist.”

  65. Mike Gene says:

    hidden: I just wanted to mention I am amused by the former child star hanging out with the banana man,

    Are you talking about the “Amazing Atheist?”

  66. hidden101 says:

    @ GR

    Wrong again. Philosophy is not “ideas” but ideas together with the accompanying rational arguments to substantiate them.

    That works great on things like issues of morality, but how can it prove to me that a soul exists? I just don’t understand.

  67. hidden101 says:

    @ Mike Gene

    No, I am not talking about that loudmouthed idiot. I’m talking about a different idiot. The Australian guy.

  68. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    @BillT
    “And no, your reply to Crude above is not a reasonable explanation. You’re bootstapping the idea that the interaction must be detectable if it exists and you haven’t established that.”

    so god can turn water into wine and science cannot establish that if it observed the transformation? what’s wrong with you? this is not a matter of evidence, it’s a matter of logic. so stop asking stupidly “what is your evidence for that”. and by science I don’t simply refer to the hard sciences or laboratory science (you know, man in white coats) or something. history is also part of science broadly defined. now imagine Jesus appears descending from the sky tomorrow (to inform us to be prepared for his arrival in a century say, to usher to new age of peace, or whatever), and his appearance is filmed and seen by billions of people around the world. can you imagine historians writing about this event 50 years from now, would omit it because science can’t deal with the supernatural?

    @Melissa
    “What you are considering are special acts of God and the actions of free agents which science might conceivably, in the future detect as events without a deterministic physical cause but that is all science could say. ”

    I’m not so sure that’s all science can say, but still it would be enough to establish the existence of something we might label a “soul”. the problem is that, if what you’re saying is true, then the “soul” would be a word without content, and we wouldn’t be able to say anything specific about it: whether it’s “free”, immortal and so on.
    as for god explaining things, at this point few people consider that god is a good explains of anything, especially given that for the past 400 years the explanations involving God had always turned out to be vacuous upon scrutiny

  69. SteveK says:

    AOR,

    so god can turn water into wine and science cannot establish that if it observed the transformation?

    It can observe the transformation. What it cannot do is establish that it was God who did it. From the perspective of science, Jesus was a natural man doing natural things science has never seen before. Science could not say who or what was supernatural because you cannot see the supernatural in physical objects. It’s the same reason why science cannot see the mind but it can see the brain.

  70. G. Rodrigues says:

    @hidden101:

    That works great on things like issues of morality, but how can it prove to me that a soul exists? I just don’t understand.

    Sorry to keep repeating myself, but wrong again. Strictly speaking, whether souls exist or not and what they are exactly is a philosophical question not a scientific one. Not that data from the empirical sciences cannot inform the arguments and one’s worldview; but it cannot decide the question because the question is simply outside the purview of the hard empirical sciences.

    And what don’t you understand exactly? If you are not even acquainted with the arguments for dualism (of any stripe) how could you possibly understand anything? Apart from divine revelation, there is only one remedy for ignorance.

  71. BillT says:

    AOR,

    Your example is a faulty. Yes, science can observe that it’s wine or observe the transformation but science cannot establish from the wine that a supernatural force created it.

    The correct analogy; one glass naturally created wine, one glass supernaturally created wine. Can science tell me which is which? The answer is no, science cannot tell the difference.

    And your “Jesus descending from the sky” analogy is off base as well. That’s the supernatural taking naturally observable form. That is not the same as science distingushing between naturally or supernaturally created (or influenced) objects.

    You have established no basis for your belief that science can observe the supernatural acting on the material.

  72. Victoria says:

    @AOR
    I think there is a bit of confusion over definitions here…

    so god can turn water into wine and science cannot establish that if it observed the transformation? what’s wrong with you? this is not a matter of evidence, it’s a matter of logic. so stop asking stupidly “what is your evidence for that”. and by science I don’t simply refer to the hard sciences or laboratory science (you know, man in white coats) or something. history is also part of science broadly defined.

    Consider the transformation of water into wine miracle again ( cf John 2:1-11 ). The servants knew that they had filled the stone jars with water. When they brought a sample of the jars’ contents to the head steward, the steward (and later the bridegroom and presumably the other wedding attendees) found it to be wine.
    Empirically speaking, at one moment, an analysis of the contents would have indicated water; at the next moment, the analysis would have indicated wine.
    Now, even if the transformation process could have been empirically observed as it happened, unless it was instantaneous, what description involving only natural processes as the effective cause of the transformation could be offered?
    The effects of the miracle are in principle open to scientific analysis, but not necessarily the effective cause, nor could the final state of the system be extrapolated by a natural time evolution operation applied to the initial state.

    C.S.Lewis, in his essays on Miracles articulates this very well – if you want a clear, concise explanation of the Christian view on this subject, this is well worth your time 🙂

  73. SteveK says:

    AOR,
    Skeptics of the Bayesian variety have said on this blog that even if a person witnesses the supernatural they should deny it being an actual supernatural event in favor of it being a delusion or mind trick of some sort. So it seems you cannot please every skeptic with science or observation.

    With respect to Victoria’s comment, most skeptics would say an error MUST have been made in concluding the original liquid was water. What other natural explanation could there be? None, and science isn’t going to allow any other.

  74. G. Rodrigues says:

    @AgeOfReasonXXI:

    the problem is that, if what you’re saying is true, then the “soul” would be a word without content, and we wouldn’t be able to say anything specific about it: whether it’s “free”, immortal and so on.

    Uh no, you are wrong. There are these people called philosophers that have treated the subject exhaustively, painstakingly proving several things about the soul from first principles. Now granted, since the soul, in any dualist conception, is not a material substance (and in hylemorphic dualism it is not even a substance) it is quite unlike what we ordinarily meet in our everyday sense experiences. But just as mathematics allows us to reason rigorously about what we can no longer imagine or even sense in the first place, so does philosophy.

    as for god explaining things, at this point few people consider that god is a good explains of anything, especially given that for the past 400 years the explanations involving God had always turned out to be vacuous upon scrutiny

    Melissa explicitly mentioned what kind of things the existence of God explains; none of them “turned out to be vacuous”. I suspect either you have not read what Melissa wrote or you simply do not understand it — but hey, feel free to prove me wrong.

  75. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    “As for Dawkins, he said he would not change his mind even if a 15 foot Jesus appeared before them and boomed, “I exist.”

    so? that doesn’t mean no evidence could convince him he’s wrong. unlike Lame Craig, who’s on record saying exactly that. I mean it’s almost beyond belief: the great champion for arguments and reason for the Christian faith is not an evidentialist and admits that no arguments or evidence can possibly change his mind because the Holy Spirit trumps it all, and writes “if somehow through my studies reason turns against my faith, so much the worse for reason!”
    what a fucking joke. disgrace

    ‘Emotional outbursts are not arguments nor reasons.”

    did I ever say insults are arguments? pointing out that Craig is a hack and a “nasty amoral excuse of a human being”(to quote PZ Myers) is just that: exposing a disgraced lowlife weasel as such.

    “You insist that science can study the “supernatural” yet offer no explanation for how this could happen apart from vague analogies. So I asked you, “How would you know you were dealing with a supernatural force and not a natural force?”

    the explanations of how this could happen, (if by this you mean the development of hypothesis involving the “supernatural”) are up to those who believe it exists, not me. what I pointed out is that, in principle, if it exists, in can be proven to exist by science (observing water turning into wine is one example). It’s like the 15th time I’ll say that if there’s a soul, neurology can never make any real progress without referring to it. is that really so hard to understand?
    as for science itself: it doesn’t study the natural world, it studies reality (so no, it doesn’t matter what label you put on it, call it hyper-natural if you wish), and if the “supernatural” is beyond the reach of science, then it’s “beyond the reach of reality”, it’s fiction.

  76. Victoria says:

    @Steve
    Yeah, but that appears to be why John makes an explicit note of the fact that the servants knew what was going on (John 2:7-9). John explicitly states the initial and final states of the contents of the jars (almost as if Someone knew that this objection would be raised?)

    It comes down to presuppositional bias against the supernatural, then?

  77. hidden101 says:

    @ GR

    I don’t remember saying I am not familiar with dualism so why did you say that I am not?

    This is the problem. I remember asking you if you were familiar with black holes because I honestly don’t know if you are or not. I did not make an assumption either way. You do make assumptions and it is very annoying that you and others here keep doing it. It in no way helps the conversation and it only serves to make you look bad.

    To answer your question, I said I don’t understand because I don’t subscribe to Cartesian Dualism. It does not make sense to me that the mind can exist without the body. I fully understand what Descartes is saying, I believe, so deeming me “ignorant” simply because I do not agree with your school of thought is another way of talking down to me.

    Let me reiterate- I do not believe the mind is a part of the soul that interacts with the world through the physical body. I know we disagree on this and it does not make either one of us stupid, although I’m sure one of you will be quick to point out that I am.

  78. G. Rodrigues says:

    @hidden101:

    I said I don’t understand because I don’t subscribe to Cartesian Dualism. It does not make sense to me that the mind can exist without the body. I fully understand what Descartes is saying, I believe, so deeming me “ignorant” simply because I do not agree with your school of thought is another way of talking down to me.

    1. And I asked you if you were aware of the *arguments* for dualism, not if you knew what dualism was. Since you only present an argument from incredulity, which is no argument, what the heck am I supposed to think?

    2. I have also said that there are various stripes of dualists, including property and hylemorphic dualists and that I favor hylemorphic dualism, so it is the case that you disagree with me, but do you even know what you are disagreeing with? Since nowhere in your posts you show such awareness, what the heck am I supposed to think?

    I do not believe the mind is a part of the soul that interacts with the world through the physical body. I know we disagree on this and it does not make either one of us stupid, although I’m sure one of you will be quick to point out that I am.

    Actually I also disagree with the first sentence (see why I deemed you an ignorant?). In details: the soul is the rational form of the body, a component of a single substance, that stands in a relation of formal cause with the body. Want more details? Read a book. Want references? Just ask.

    And by the way, you do know the difference between ignorance and stupidity, don’t you? Ignorance is lack of knowledge, just that. You somehow mistake what is an objective claim based on what you write as an insult, when it is not, it is simply pointing out that you betray a misunderstanding of what you criticize. Simple as that. If I am wrong in my charges, then all you have to do is show that you know and understand the arguments for dualism, or at the very least, the arguments against the physicalist conception of the mind. Since until now, and after all your numerous posts, you have not done so, what the heck am I supposed to think?

  79. Melissa says:

    Hidden,

    To answer your question, I said I don’t understand because I don’t subscribe to Cartesian Dualism. It does not make sense to me that the mind can exist without the body. I fully understand what Descartes is saying, I believe, so deeming me “ignorant” simply because I do not agree with your school of thought is another way of talking down to me

    Are but you are ignorant if you think what Descartes said on the matter is relevant to all types of dualism.

  80. hidden101 says:

    @ GR

    I’ll go further, since I haven’t really explained much, only that I disagree.

    An example of why I believe the mind does not exist without the body is because of the thing you are using to have a conversation with me right now.

    Computers can be programmed with AI. AI is a way for a computer to remember, imagine, and recognize. As AI becomes more advanced, it becomes more clear to me how extremely plausible it is that we are in fact “meat machines” as some like to say around here.

    We can already interact with electronic and mechanical things with our brains. In the future, we may be able to download our brains and upload them into an entirely new body. You may not agree that is a possibility, but I happen to think it’s going to happen. Now if we can do that, wouldn’t that truly make us “meat machines”? Just as we can feel things with our fingers, we can also build sensors that can do the same. And because we can do that, there’s nothing to say that we can’t have our minds transferred to a machine and still have qualia.

  81. Melissa says:

    Hidden,

    So your argument is computers process data, humans also process data, therefore humans are nothing but meat computers. Computers are neither aware nor intentional.

  82. Victoria says:

    @hidden
    perhaps you should change your moniker to Sheldon 🙂

    That’s me just being tongue in cheek, not sarcastic – your comments just reminded me of that Big Bang Theory episode

  83. hidden101 says:

    @ GR

    Again, more condescension… SIGH.

    YES, I understand the difference between stupidity and ignorance. I am not a redneck, referring to ignorance in a colloquial sense in which I believe it means I am stupid.

    I was offended by it, not because I thought you meant to say I was stupid, but because you assumed I knew nothing of dualism and it’s different forms and arguments merely because I hadn’t said anything about it before now. I take assumptions like that to mean that you do not believe I am very educated but I am trying to have a conversation with someone who is.

    @ Melissa

    When did I say Descartes has the only thoughts on dualism? I did not. I merely used it as an example. GR says he favors hylemorphic dualism (which he also claims I know nothing about merely because I haven’t mentioned it yet). Great. It’s still the same old thing to me because he believes in a soul that can exist without the body and I do not. I do not believe in souls.

  84. hidden101 says:

    @ Victoria

    Although I watch that show, I am not familiar with that episode. And although Sheldon is a strange bird, I will take it as a compliment because he is quite intelligent. I am not a physicist like you or him, but I try my best with my very limited abilities to learn as much as I can about the world around me.

  85. hidden101 says:

    @ Melissa

    Are you saying a computer cannot be programmed to be aware of itself?

    What are your criteria for awareness?

  86. G. Rodrigues says:

    @hidden101:

    Computers can be programmed with AI. AI is a way for a computer to remember, imagine, and recognize. As AI becomes more advanced, it becomes more clear to me how extremely plausible it is that we are in fact “meat machines” as some like to say around here.

    I asked if you knew the arguments in favor of dualism — besides expressing personal incredulity that is. Neither you answer the question nor you give an example of an argument, and then in post #83 you complain about condescension. Whatever.

    Ok, so you have a computational view of the mind. The fact that computers can be programmed to do this or that is irrelevant, because computers *cannot* be minds, meaning, they cannot exhibit rationality, intentionality or the other typical marks of a human mind. In other words, are you aware of the arguments that purport to prove exactly this? And I should note that many of these arguments were made by people such as Popper, Chalmers, Jackson, McGinn, Nagel, Fodor, Putnam, Searle, etc., which are either indifferent or positively hostile to religion.

  87. JAD says:

    One of the reasons I could never become an atheist is that most atheists I meet (at least those “I meet” on-line) lack a sense of humor. I thought the video that I shared @52 was not only satirical and humorous but also kind of light and whimsical. (By the way, it was not authorized by Craig.) And while it poked fun at Dawkins there was nothing malicious. It simply challenged Dawkins to live up to his own words and use reason to defend his own work. (Rewind the tape and listen to what Dawkins says beginning at :27.)

    This is how AgeOfReasonXXI responds @ 61:

    Listening to Craig one can see what Dawkins means when he said he loaths Craig’s “odiously unctuous, smug, self-satisfied tone of voice”. why would anyone want to debate that shameless charlatan called Billy nothing-can-convince-me-I’m-wrong Craig is beyond me. Sam Harris did a good job exposing Craig’s psychopathic “moral” “theory”, but he should’ve realized debating low-life fundy like Craig (who insist that the fact the majority of people will be tormented for eternity in Hell is demanded by God’s justice!) is always a mistake. besides, it’s not Harris who is desperate to convince his colleagues in academia that a “Bible-believing Christian” is not synonymous with a lunatic and psychotic.

    Why the vitriol?

    By the way a sense of humor is not the only thing that atheists are lacking.

    See the following:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wogta8alHiU

  88. Mike Gene says:

    AOR:

    history is also part of science broadly defined. now imagine Jesus appears descending from the sky tomorrow (to inform us to be prepared for his arrival in a century say, to usher to new age of peace, or whatever), and his appearance is filmed and seen by billions of people around the world. can you imagine historians writing about this event 50 years from now, would omit it because science can’t deal with the supernatural?

    Okay, so here is yet another problem. It turns out AOR is using his own personal definition of science. Let’s take his example.

    Would historians, 50 years from now, say

    A. 50 years ago today science detected Jesus descending from the sky.

    OR

    B. 50 years ago today billions of people saw Jesus descending from the sky.

    Correct answer: B

    Sorry AOR, but observations are not the same as science.

  89. hidden101 says:

    @ JAD

    Rest assured, we have a sense of humor. It just doesn’t come out much when talking to theists because we tend to take matters of what is real and not real quite seriously.

  90. SteveK says:

    I find it interesting that AOR is implying that the apostles were rationally justified in believing in God because of their first-hand observations and experiences – just like scientists would be if they observed water turned to wine.

    The only reason we should doubt the story of the apostles is because they weren’t scientists. Is that the argument here?

  91. hidden101 says:

    @ GR

    Fine, then I will give you a straightforward answer. Yes, I am aware of the arguments in favor of dualism.

    And I very much disagree with your claim that computers cannot exhibit intentionality. With a sophisticated enough program, I do believe it is possible for the computer to have original intentional states. Searle’s Chinese Room is a good argument, but here’s where I believe it falls short- because I believe evolution is true, I believe it to be the programmer. I believe this programmer got more sophisticated as time went on by learning from past mistakes and correcting those mistakes, just as we do as humans with our computers.

    Now, if it takes a deity for this to happen, then where did the deity get its intentionality from? It just “is” and always was?

    Just as the humans built a computer system called Skynet that became self-aware in the movie “Terminator”, our universe becomes self-aware in the form of humans becoming more sophisticated as time goes on. I’m not an eloquent enough writer to make that sound compelling, but there you are. Those are my thoughts on the matter.

  92. hidden101 says:

    @ Steve

    No, the argument is that we have no way to verify the apostles’ claims. If a bunch of people saw something supernatural occur in today’s world, we might have more reliable ways of recording it and verifying it, provided we were equipped and ready to do so at the time of occurrence.

    Think of it this way- You see a magician perform a magic trick. You don’t know how he did it, but let’s pretend you were amazed by it and believe it to be actual real magic (as in, not merely an illusion).

    You write down your experience in a journal. Years after your death, I find the journal. Should I believe that actual magic was performed or would it be wise of me to be skeptical and offer that there is an explanation for how the trick was performed and why the illusion only made it seem like real magic?

    Or how about this scenario- Let’s say tomorrow a man claims he has written another gospel and it was inspired by God, and God literally spoke to him. Would you believe him or call him insane? There is no difference between that scenario and the canonical gospels to me because scholars agree that the gospels are not first hand accounts and were written several years after the death of Jesus, which is apparent by some of their inconsistencies.

  93. Victoria says:

    @hidden
    perhaps you should be reading Craig Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, at least if you are as interested in learning as much as you can….

  94. SteveK says:

    hidden,
    That’s not what AOR is saying. He’s saying science observes water turn to wine and that’s all there is to it. God has been verified and proven to exist by science.

    However, fast forward 100 years and you have the same scenario as your magician example.

    Skeptics 100 years from now will say nothing has been proven. Even if the scientists left detailed notes and video taped the entire event. Skeptics of the day would find a way to dismiss them as gullible, irrational, fraudulent (take your pick).

    You are just like those same skeptics, only it’s been 2000 years after the observation has taken place.

  95. hidden101 says:

    @ Victoria

    If I have time, I will give it a read. Looks interesting from some of the reviews on Amazon. One reviewer really breaks it down and talks about the explanation for how the oral accounts could have been preserved despite the gap in the events and the writings describing them. I would certainly like to know more because this is the first I’ve heard of this.

  96. Mike Gene says:

    I think this is what Dawkins et al. have in mind when they speak of using science to determine whether God exists:

    http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/demonstrating-the-non-existence-of-god-with-the-stenger-method/

  97. Melissa says:

    Hidden,

    because I believe evolution is true, I believe it to be the programmer. I believe this programmer got more sophisticated as time went on by learning from past mistakes and correcting those mistakes, just as we do as humans with our computers.

    To say evolution is a programmer is to claim that evolution is an intentional process.

    Now, if it takes a deity for this to happen, then where did the deity get its intentionality from? It just “is” and always was?

    Well God is necessary, not contingent.

    Just as the humans built a computer system called Skynet that became self-aware in the movie “Terminator”, our universe becomes self-aware in the form of humans becoming more sophisticated as time goes on.

    I’m not sure how referencing a fiction helps you to show that the universe can become self-aware.

  98. hidden101 says:

    @ Melissa

    Are you saying science fiction cannot become reality given enough time? Are you saying it is impossible for a computer system to become self-aware?

    I expected someone to say using fiction as an example doesn’t work, but I didn’t actually mean for anyone to take it as a serious example. It was just a reason to throw in one of my favorite movies. Although it did raise a couple questions…

    Maybe evolution is intentional. If it is, I don’t necessarily attribute it to your understanding of the Abrahamic deity. My thinking isn’t so narrow that the only conclusion that I can draw is that a personal deity is the only possibility.

  99. Melissa says:

    Hidden101,

    Maybe evolution is intentional. If it is, I don’t necessarily attribute it to your understanding of the Abrahamic deity. My thinking isn’t so narrow that the only conclusion that I can draw is that a personal deity is the only possibility.

    That’s fine. What kind of conclusions would you draw from that? Have you considered what it might mean? It definitely rules out the common atheist statement that nature as we know it is the product of blind, purposeless interactions.

  100. asdf says:

    hidden101,
    To be honest, it doesn’t sound like you were familiar with dualism at all. G. Rodrigues was harsh in calling you ignorant, but mostly justified. Your dismissal of the Chinese Room sounds hastily composed, as if you did a little bit of reading on Wikipedia just now. In any case, think about your analogy of a programmer. If a program has some fatal flaw, and refuses to compile, what does the programmer do? Debug it. In the programmer’s place, evolution would delete it.

    How would evolution ‘learn’? Given the same situation at two different points in time, evolution can only choose the same path. If you stop ascribing anthropomorphic traits to evolution and think about it for a second, you realise that evolution is chance x time. Not even close to a programmer.

  101. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    @Mike Gene
    “It turns out AOR is using his own personal definition of science. ”

    you’ve never heard that history is refer to as “soft” science before?

    @BillT
    “The correct analogy; one glass naturally created wine, one glass supernaturally created wine. Can science tell me which is which? The answer is no, science cannot tell the difference.”

    that last statement is about as ignorant as it gets. perhaps THE most fundamental principle in physics is that information is always preserved (hence, the black hole information paradox that resulted form the discovery of the fact that black holes can radiate, although nowadays it’s considered solved)
    at least in principle, science can definitely determine whether the wine in a glass resulted form a natural process (I mean we know how wine is produced naturally, right?) or not.

    “You have established no basis for your belief that science can observe the supernatural acting on the material”

    I’ve given you enough examples of ways in which science can prove the supernatural exists. you keep repeating the same old mantra.

    but suppose I’m wrong. in that case the supernatural can never go beyond the speculative, since appealing to observable evidence and experiments is the only way one person can convince another his/her speculations about what what’s real and what’s not are actually true. (you know of another? just please don’t say logic or mathematics) and this is precisely why apologists consonantly use scientific arguments, although Craig stupidly calls them “philosophical arguments that use science in support of it’s premise(s)” — the very definition of a scientific argument.

    (just on a side note, I recently saw one of Craig’s debate from the mid 90s, that once again goes to prove what a pathetic little weasel this guy truly is. in the debate Craig explicitly referred to his cosmological arguments, KCA and fine-tuning, as “scientific”. no kidding. now, it’s not hard to see why this grease-ball would begin singing a different song– at the very least, by relabeling them “philosophical” he doesn’t have submit them to the rigor of scientific arguments, which allows him to maintain they’re are successful with a straight face. in science there are very specific criteria for what is a successful and compelling argument (take an argument for biological evolution, for instance), and as Krauss pointed out during his debate with Craig, even 90% probability for the conclusion of a certain argument is not good enough in science and doesn’t count as “proof”. then, it should be clear that anyone who can provide such an argument, backed with compelling evidence, concerning the origin of the Universe(!), would certainly be awarded the Noble Prize for making the greatest discovery of all of times! needless to say the joke of an argument called KCA doesn’t even come close–I mean, why are scientists even trying to figure how the Universe came into existence when, apparently, all it takes is an utterly trivial “conceptual analysis” from Craig, without whom we would’ve never realized just how childishly simple the solution to the most fundamental problem in science really is! lastly, it also spares Craig certain embarrassing questions, such as “if cosmology provides good/compelling evidence for God, then how is it that almost all experts in the field are non-believers?” see Sean Carroll’s article “Why (almost all) cosmologists are atheists”)

    anyways, if there cannot be empirical evidence for the supernatural, then the supernatural is out of the discussion for good. of course, a person can always insist s/he has a hot-line to God (through some “divine sense” or whatever), but it doesn’t mean anyone should pay any attention to such drivel. hey, the lunatic asylums are full of people claiming divine revelation, or even claiming to be the son of God– like Charles Manson– thus, btw, disproving the idiotic claim one often hears form evangelicals that Jesus is the only one who ever made such claims!. if they can’t be demonstrated to be true, they’re all on par. with all the consequences that follow. I mean we make sure that people who believe Elvis is still alive, or that fairies exist, or that they communicate with aliens from the Vega, don’t get elected as government officials or become CEOs. In Europe, “bible-believing” Christians are already there. and if one believes the statistics, it won’t be long before the U.S. joins the rest of the secular world.

  102. AgeOfReasonXXI says:

    few days ago I listened to this podcast titled “Important International Influences” on reasonablefaith.org where Craig cries over those statistics I mentioned above, which show that the percentage of believers among Baby-Boomers is around 65%, among “genX”– around 26-28%, and among the “millennial” generation–those who are in their twenties– it drops to 8%! yes, 8(eight). that’s the first time I’ve heard Craig not be all confident and excited about the “revolution in philosophy departments since the late 1960s”, but wonder if it’s not too late, to steer the U.S. away from the path Europe and the rest of the civilized world has taken. Craig had lived in Europe for something like over a decade, and when you hear him talk about the secular hegemony there [here], you can see why he’s so scared, and says Christians should be “horrified”, and “in despair” if they were to take the stats, suggesting the U.S. might be not far behind Europe after all, seriously. if there’s anything worse than having your arguments widely rejected, it’s having them dismissed out of hand as so absurd and vacuous, as to be unworthy of a response, apart form the occasional laughter and ridicule.

    frankly, few things would give me more satisfaction than seeing Lame Craig try to push his arguments in a thoroughly secularized society where invitations to debate god’s existence are treated exactly like invitations to debate Santa Claus. At that point, no amount of smug, confident assertions that his faith is reasonable, that his arguments are “successful”, or that to believe in miracles described in a ancient book is not totally crazy and disreputable, won’t help him. I’m pretty sure Craig will live to see it happen in the U.S.

  103. Doug says:

    @AOR,

    [dismissing arguments] out of hand as so absurd and vacuous, as to be unworthy of a response, apart form the occasional laughter and ridicule.

    Yeah. We get that. We’re just trying to see how “reason” fits into that kinda behavior. Not long ago, every schoolboy would recognize ad hominems and mischaracterizations as signs of intellectual dishonesty. By what means did they become “reasonable”?

  104. Tom Gilson says:

    AOR21: Please read the discussion policies. There’s a link above the combox.

  105. hidden101 says:

    @ asdf

    GR asked if I was familiar with dualism, which I am. I never claimed I was an expert. I’ve never set foot in a philosophy class. Saying things like that only shows that it is not the discussion you value, but that you only value being right and that any attack like “you don’t know anything about this subject” simply because it sounds like I don’t makes you feel more right. Perhaps it is insecurity? In any case, it should be pretty clear that if I am talking about putting our minds into another body, I may be somewhat familiar with dualism, don’t you agree?

    Now on to your argument that evolution simply “deletes” mistakes. that depends on what you mean. In the process of evolution by natural selection, an organism either gains a trait that is beneficial or loses a trait that is not beneficial. That is not only “deleting”. To me, that is debugging. Unless I missed the meaning of what you were trying to say and you can correct me.

    “Ascribing anthropomorphic traits to evolution” is not at all what I am doing. Perhaps it is my ability to be vague or cryptic sometimes when I have trouble expressing myself. What I am doing is suggesting evolution with derived intentionality. Let me be clear though, if that is indeed the case I have no reason to think it the work of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic deity.

  106. G. Rodrigues says:

    @hidden101:

    Fine, then I will give you a straightforward answer. Yes, I am aware of the arguments in favor of dualism.

    Great. Since you know the arguments, presumably you have defeaters for the arguments that purport to show dualism. Can you provide them? For example, the arguments that purport to prove that the intellect is immaterial — see for example, Immaterial aspects of thought.

    With a sophisticated enough program, I do believe it is possible for the computer to have original intentional states. Searle’s Chinese Room is a good argument, but here’s where I believe it falls short- because I believe evolution is true, I believe it to be the programmer. I believe this programmer got more sophisticated as time went on by learning from past mistakes and correcting those mistakes, just as we do as humans with our computers.

    If my counting is right you used the word “believe” in the quoted paragraph five times; arguments or evidence none.

    1. Searle’s Chinese room (and I note I mentioned a lot of other people other than Searle) while the most notorious, is not even his most powerful critique of the computationalist view of the mind. You can see Searle’s full case, if you haven’t yet, in his “The rediscovery of the mind”.

    2. Bringing in evolution is completely irrelevant to Searle’s argument. You can put inside his chinese room a Turing Machine — simulated by the poor trapped man — that the argument goes through all the same. Since Turing Machines are a *universal* model of computation by the Church-Turing thesis, your “beliefs” have simply no ground at all. Either that, or you have just proven the Church-Turing thesis wrong, in which case congratulations, as you are one of the greatest mathematicians, if not the greatest, of all time.

    3. Evolution is not a programmer and has no intention or purposes, to assert it does is in practice to deny metaphysical naturalism. Rather, natural evolution is a conspiracy of chance events (e.g. random mutations) with a mechanism to weed out the less fit for survival (e.g. natural selection). There is no programmer, there is no learning of mistakes (and what is an evolutionary mistake anyway?) or feedback loops, because there is no recognizable agent, a sort of wizard of Oz operating behind a closed veil directing natural evolution. Because if you assert there is, you know who the wizard of Oz *really* is, don’t you?

    Now, if it takes a deity for this to happen, then where did the deity get its intentionality from?

    Intentionality, or more precisely agent intentionality (to differentiate from teleology) *is just* one of the marks of the mental and God is a mind (in the analogical sense).

    And how come intentionality is a problem for a deity, which as Melissa pointed out is a necessary being (meaning, He cannot fail to exist), but is not a problem for evolution which is not an agent, not even a recognizable substance, but rather a metaphor for a complicated series of chance and causal processes?

    Second, what do you mean by “it takes a deity for this to happen”? What is the “it” that needs a deity? I am asking this, because the views of Christians differ here, but there is a core on which pretty much everyone agrees.

  107. Doug says:

    Here is a great, accessible book looking at state-of-the-art attempts to reproduce human interaction programmatically. After the Loebner Prize competition Brian writes about, the associated conference had a panel discussion on “intelligence in interactive systems”. For the most part, the expert panelists shied away from the “i-word”. Finally, as time was running out, one was willing to project a “singularity” into our future. At that point, Nelson Morgan (a well-respected researcher of speech recognition) replied (my paraphrase). “Talking about singularities is good for selling books. But if it were to happen in our lifetimes, the likelihood is that someone in this room [there were hundreds of scientists and researchers in the field present] will be responsible… but not a single person in this room knows how to get there from here.” He was right.

  108. G. Rodrigues says:

    @hidden101:

    Saying things like that only shows that it is not the discussion you value, but that you only value being right and that any attack like “you don’t know anything about this subject” simply because it sounds like I don’t makes you feel more right. Perhaps it is insecurity?

    Whether it is the sign of insecurity, or some even darker spiritual sin, is of no relevance. It was a claim based on what you wrote. I am not inside your head neither I have a crystal ball to divine your thoughts. As the proverb goes: if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

    In any case, it should be pretty clear that if I am talking about putting our minds into another body, I may be somewhat familiar with dualism, don’t you agree?

    I am going to repeat myself, maybe for the third time; I never asked if you were familiar with dualism, but if you were familiar with the *arguments* in favor of dualism, and overlapping, the arguments against physicalism. You have given me absolutely no reason to believe you are. Why do I insist on this? Because without knowing, it is impossible to know at what level I should be discussing with you. With someone who is basically ignorant, or with someone who knows the arguments and has found defeaters for them.

    Just a suggestion: instead of the incessant whining why don’t you provide defeaters for those arguments, since they are the rational basis of our belief in the immateriality of the intellect?

    @AgeOfReasonXXI:

    in that case the supernatural can never go beyond the speculative, since appealing to observable evidence and experiments is the only way one person can convince another his/her speculations about what what’s real and what’s not are actually true.

    So the empirical science is the sole epistemic arbiter for what is true or not true, is that correct? Then please, give us the empirical evidence “that empirical science is the sole epistemic arbiter for what exists or does not exist”.

    you know of another? just please don’t say logic or mathematics

    Why do you exempt logic or mathematics?

    As for the rest of your ignorant, inane vomit of vitriol against W. L. Craig, I will leave it unresponded.

  109. BillT says:

    AOR,

    “…appealing to observable evidence and experiments is the only way one person can convince another his/her speculations about what what’s real and what’s not are actually true.”

    The only way? If that’s what you believe then you do. And I won’t raise things like logic or reasoning as you have provided fair waring to leave those things out of the discussion. Hence your moniker, I guess.

    GR,

    We’ve seen over and over the NAs fail to be able to deal with WLC one on one. The politics of personal destruction is all they have left.

  110. Patrick Reynolds says:

    You are suggesting we approach this topic in an intellectually sloppy fashion.

    I am not encouraging any sloppy work; what I am encouraging is due diligence when it comes to situations like this. What I tell my daughter when she is doing a school project is to ask herself several questions when she comes to a word she isn’t sure how the author is using it.

    1. Does the author use the same word elsewhere in the book? Maybe by seeing it in different places she can determine how the author is using it.

    2. What is the dictionary definition of the word? Yes, the word can have numerous meanings so what she has to try is determine which meaning, if any, best fit the context of what the author is saying.

    If neither of those steps seem to work and without a proper definition the text is not possible to understand correctly then she should ignore that part of the text. What I don’t tell her is to substitute her own version of the definition of the word and then respond is if that is what the author really meant, mainly because there is no guarantee that her substituted definition is any more correct than anyone else’s. The principle of Charity basically states that we try to find a definition that best attempts to favor the author’s point rather than our own perspective on the topic.

  111. Patrick Reynolds says:

    Your other points need addressing, but my time is limited.

    Oh, if only I had a nickel for every time I heard that remark.

    I didn’t call anybody’s reasoning silly or ridiculous nor did I attack anyone so I’d appreciate it if you would treat me the same way. If you can’t refute my statements regarding the faith healers and others then just say so. You gain no credibility with anyone by calling them names and then refusing to refute (or admit you can’t refute) their other points.

    And yes, you are right. I did some further checking and realized that Quakers should not have been on that list. However, the remainder of the list of Christians as well as Christian denominations who eschew science still stands.

  112. Doug says:

    @Patrick,
    Eschewing science is (at least somewhat) in the eye of the beholder. As has been discussed elsewhere, to register opposition to a certain research trajectory need not be science-stifling. And the existence of a science-o-phobic church or leader hardly constitutes a community-wide rejection of science. My Father, first generation Mennonite immigrant with a Ph.D. in materials science, would be quite surprised to learn that his heritage was anti-science.

    With respect to

    [rejection of] the voluminous scientific evidence for evolution

    while no doubt some do in fact do as you describe, the reality is actually quite nuanced. For example, I am not aware of a single person in my congregation who rejects any scientific evidence for evolution. However, around half of them are skeptical of certain less-than-scientific interpretations of that evidence.

  113. BillT says:

    “…science can definitely determine whether the wine in a glass resulted form a natural process (I mean we know how wine is produced naturally, right?) or not.”

    So if God created wine it would be different from wine that was naturally produced? How do you know that to be true and if it was true then it wouldn’t be wine, would it? You asked “I mean we know how wine is produced naturally, right?” Right, we do. Do you think that God doesn’t?

    Or are you saying that if there is a God capable of creating the entire universe that he couldn’t create a glass of wine that was like a naturally produced wine even though he technically would have been responsible for that as well?

    Do you have any scientific proof, (that’s your standard after all), that any of the above is true?

  114. asdf says:

    @hidden101
    Aw, come on now. Who’s being insecure? You’ll note that the post you replied to was the first on this thread, and already from that, you have derived that I am insecure.

    It was just my evaluation that, indeed, you did not seem to know as much as you had implied to G. Rodrigues, nor were you able to engage him on the same level, yet you continued to stubbornly reject dualism, despite not truly understanding it. That is all.

    Here is what I meant by evolution deleting programs instead of debugging them. A programmer, when he makes changes, may accidentally create bugs, or mistakes. In this way, evolution is the same. However, when evolution comes across a problem, a bug, in any single organism, that organism is destroyed. Any single mutation, any single change that is not beneficial is destroyed, no chance for debugging. The key being that, unlike a programmer, evolution has no chance to build on any mistakes, unless, somehow, that key bug is reproduced for whatever reason in multiple other organisms.

    If you present evolution as a programmer, there is no way you can deny that you are ascribing it anthropomorphic traits. Full stop. Indeed, if you are suggesting evolution has intentionality, that is what you are doing.

  115. Patrick Reynolds says:

    Hello, Doug.

    Let’s keep in mind what was originally said. That is, Tom said I don’t know of any Christian anywhere at any time who has said “I don’t want my children to learn modern science.” That’s a gross overstatement.

    All I did was point out that Christians like the Amish, for example, eschew modern science. I never stated that ALL Christians eschew modern science. I know many Christians who fully embrace science including evolution and the old earth theory. So if you know of Mennonites or Amish or whatever who embrace all of science then great; it still does not invalidate my point that there are others who don’t.

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